DATE OF INTERVIEW:
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX
3rd May 2012
JUSTIN GREAVES; KARL DEMATA
METAL DISCOVERY: It’s generally very unique, innovative music on the album but I thought there were little snippets of pastiche in there, like a few nods to Pink Floyd. Some of the guitar on ‘The Heart of Every Country’ is very Gimour-esque so is that something…
JUSTIN: Very self-aware! [laughs]
(Karl Demata on the misappropriation and inanity of the "post-rock" label)
"It’s one of those labels that’s a lazy tag where people want to describe something really quickly without using many words. And what post-rock means is debatable."
Karl and Justin in The Garage bar, London, UK, 3rd May 2012
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Official Crippled Black Phoenix Website:
Official Crippled Black Phoenix Facebook:
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX DISCOGRAPHY
A Love of Shared Disasters (2007)
200 Tons of Bad Luck (2009)
The Resurrectionists / Night Raider (2009)
I, Vigilante (2010)
(Mankind) The Crafty Ape (2012)
KARL: It never crossed our mind and then we listened to it and said, “this reminds me of somebody, who is it?!”
MD: Also, the second half of ‘A Letter Concerning Dogheads’ reminded me of a down-tempo version of one of the instrumental sections from Floyd’s ‘Echoes’…not plagiarised but more as a pastiche.
JUSTIN: Yeah, pastiche, the spirit’s there.
MD: The same sort of vibe.
JUSTIN: Yeah, and I think at the time when me and Karl were working on stuff, especially ‘The Heart of Every Country’, we basically looked at each other and said: “A good idea is a good idea. If we like how it sounds then so be it.” If it sounds a bit like Pink Floyd then it’s because we listen to Pink Floyd. We’ve grown up with that and that’s okay by us; if people want to say we sound like Pink Floyd then…we know we don’t a hundred per cent because there’s many other things we do, but if this part sounds like Pink Floyd then as long as we respect that then that’s fine by us.
MD: Also, the reverb-heavy clean guitar towards the end of ‘Laying Traps’ reminded me of Hank Marvin…when it kicked in, I thought that sounds a bit like The Shadows!
JUSTIN: That was Ennio Morricone that was. A little nod to Morricone.
MD: I’m embarrassed by my Hank Marvin reference now! Maybe Ennio Morricone was inspired by Hank Marvin. I’d like to think that!
JUSTIN: I lot of people were, they just don’t want to admit it!
MD: In terms of how the album was received, you actually ended up with a pretty positive review in Kerrang of all places. Did that one surprise you?
KARL: Kerrang, is that a magazine?!
JUSTIN: What is Kerrang? I thought that was the sound a guitar made!
KARL: Yeah, when you drop the guitar on the floor – "KERRANG"!
JUSTIN: I have history with that magazine…old bands. They just felt sorry for us! It was a sympathy review!
JUSTIN: Let’s give them a good review and maybe they’ll go away!
MD: You filmed a video for ‘Laying Traps’ – was that a unanimous, obvious choice of song for a video?
JUSTIN: It was a toss-up between that and ‘Release the Clowns’. ‘Release the Clowns’ was a little bit of a bigger concept and a longer song and I think it would have involved a lot more so we decided to do something with ‘Laying Traps’ and do it better rather than stretch ourselves through ‘Release the Clowns’. So that’s what it came down to but, really, for a long time, I couldn’t decide which song to do.
MD: So ‘Release the Clowns’ would’ve been a whole different kind of video then?
JUSTIN: Yeah. There would’ve been similar elements with the social unrest aspect of it but it would’ve been a completely different vibe. It would’ve been a longer thing and a lot more involved really.
MD: Will there be the chance to do a second video?
JUSTIN: Maybe. Who knows. I’m not really into band videos so as long as it’s not a performance again. I mean, this one for ‘Laying Traps’ has a performance element in it but it was a very conscious thing to cover the faces up so it takes the personality out of it. We’re more concerned about music and when you make pop videos and put the band in it, the music almost comes second because people want to see what the band look like.
MD: And it’s very clichéd as well, a band stood there playing a song. Apart from certain influences you can hear in the music, CBP are pretty much genre-free, although everyone seems adamant on branding you a post-rock band. Where did that label originate from in relation to the band?
JUSTIN: It’s because Dominic [Aitchison] played in the band and Dominic played in Mogwai.
KARL: It’s one of those labels that’s a lazy tag where people want to describe something really quickly without using many words. And what post-rock means is debatable.
JUSTIN: I think it got bandied about for the first or second album and people just thought because we use strings or whatever and songs are a bit cinematic, it has to be post-rock. I mean, what is post-rock anyway?
KARL: Actually, recently, I read something talking about The Beatles that labelled them as post-rock so I think that explains to everybody that it doesn’t mean anything!
MD: It’s a big umbrella term, like most labels are to be honest. To me, I’d describe you as progressive but, like we said earlier, not as a genre but as an attitude towards creating music.
JUSTIN: But, also, punk rock at the same time. You’ve got to look at the way we do things and the attitude as well. I’m not talking about punk rock as a genre or anything but I think our attitude is quite different to other bands who are playing rock concerts in Germany… [laughs]
MD: So then, other misconceptions about the band, all listed on your Facebook page – you’re a Bristol band. Where did that one come from?
JUSTIN: That was back in the day when there was a few people playing in the band from Bristol and the label was in Bristol. Basically, it comes from people not being able to use their brain!
MD: What about misconceiving you as a “collective”? And I’ve heard the word “supergroup” used a lot as well.
JUSTIN: Bad word! I don’t see what’s super about being in a group anyway!
KARL: It makes me think of comic books or something like that. You know, everybody has different powers!
JUSTIN: Yeah, we are not a supergroup, we are super heroes!
MD: I blame Wikipedia as post-rock and supergroup are both mentioned on there and Wiki is a lot of journos one-stop shop for research.
JUSTIN: That was quite a few years ago now, six or seven years ago, when people were bandying that around. It was wrong then, it’s wrong now and we still get it.
MD: The first line on Wiki is: “Crippled Black Phoenix is a rock supergroup”. Get on there and change it!
JUSTIN: I can’t be bothered. I don’t understand the internet or how it works!
MD: So what other plans lie ahead for the rest of the year?
KARL: We’ll play some more shows towards the end of the year. I think right now is probably the worst time to ask that because we just finished the tour and now it’s time to draw a line and say, alright, let’s start to program what we’re gonna do and look at things that are different from before. All we know is there’s gonna be some shows in Europe again in October or thereabouts and tomorrow, or the day after, something else might come up.
MD: So you’re not a massively forward planning band?
JUSTIN: No, not really. I’ll start writing and just see how it goes basically.
KARL: As I said, we just came back from the longest tour we ever did so I think it’s time to take a breath and reassess.
JUSTIN: I think the plan is to become hermits!
MD: Good closing words! Thanks so much for your time.
JUSTIN: Alright, no worries.