Interview: Air Formation

todayApril 19, 2024 85

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Below is a transcript of the on-air interview with Air Formation.

Danielle Hennes: Hey, everyone! This is Danielle with Big Sonic Heaven with another Big Sonic interview. I’m very honored to have the opportunity to speak with my guests today. Forming in the year 2000, this five piece have been a mainstay of the modern Shoegaze scene.

They’ve gained a devoted following, and have received critical acclaim from the likes of Clash magazine, Consequence Of Sound, and Louder Than War. We last heard from them in 2018, with their fifth studio album titled Near Miss, and then, in March of 2022, with the insanely gorgeous vinyl repress of their 2007 release Daylight Storms. Now they’re back after a six-year hiatus with their long-awaited self- titled, sixth studio album, set to be released this spring by  ClubAC30, on April 19. I’m so excited to be here with Matt Bartram and Ben Pierce from Air Formation. Matt and Ben, welcome and thank you for taking some time to chat with me.

Matt Bartram and Ben Pierce:  Hello, yeah, you’re more than welcome.

Danielle: Six years has been a minute since we’ve heard from Air Formation. I wanna talk to you about your new single Finding Gravity, and I’m really excited to play that for our listeners. But first I wanted to ask you about that vinyl repress of Daylight Storms. It’s kind of because of that repress that I came to know about you. It’s physically, like, the most beautiful record I’ve ever seen. But I think out of all of your albums and EPs, it seems like that one is extra special, and I’m wondering if maybe that’s the reason why that one was chosen to be re-pressed. And if you could talk a little bit about that process, and how Simon Scott came to master that.

Matt : Yeah. Well, yeah, it sort of holds quite a special place with people, Daylight Storms, we talked about doing it for ages and ages, and I think for various reasons it didn’t happen just through money kind of stuff with the label because it was quite an expensive thing to press. We wanted to do it right. Wanted to make it as special as we possibly could. So, yeah, I think it was just sort of the right time to do it, and as far as Simon goes, Simon was label mates with us on AC30, with his band Televise so we’ve known him since sort of the start of us working with AC30. So, you know,he’s a, he’s a good guy. He knows what he’s doing. That’s kind of what you want, isn’t it? So…

Danielle: Yeah.  Well, it came out beautiful. I think, out of all of them it’s probably my favorite album, and like I said, just physically the packaging (is beautiful). And when the record plays it sparkles. It’s just gorgeous, you know? My favorite track on there is Cold Morning, and I think you (have) said that it was also your favorite track. Do you want to talk a little bit about that song?

Matt : Yeah, it’s again, it’s a special, a special song. You know, when we play it live, you know, it means a lot to me. It’s something quite, you know, emotional to it, you know? I don’t know. It’s just what, again, one of these things that, that sort of takes a life of its own on more than, you know,the actual song, I suppose. But uh…

Ben: Yeah, we use it as a closer on a lot of, well we used to, on a lot of gigs. It’s a good one to just, you can just run out to the end, and it just crescendos.

Matt: It moves, it moves people. You can see it moving people as well, which is, which is really special. So…

Danielle: It seems like a lot of your music is moving like that. Well, let’s take a listen to that song right now. So off your 2007 daylight storms, this is Cold Morning by Air Formation.

Danielle: If you’re just tuning in, I’m here with Matt Bartram and Ben Pierce from Air Formation, and you just heard Cold Morning from their 2007 studio album Daylight Storms. This album was mastered especially for vinyl by Simon Scott and re-pressed in a limited edition, sunburst red and orange double vinyl. When I checked this morning there were only 6 left. So if you’re an Air Formation fan and you don’t have one yet I suggest you go to Band Camp right now and get one.  Your music, like we were just talking about before the break is, it’s more than your typical shoegaze sound. It’s more like this space-gazey sound to me, and it creates, like you were saying, like this experience. It, almost, kinda metaphorically speaking, lifts you up in the air, like, when the song is over,I almost exhale, and I’m kind of disappointed that the song is over. I’m wondering, like, for you on your end- What is your experience when you create the music and you’re playing it live?

Ben: Yeah, it’s similar. I mean, we when we’re, certainly, when we’re playing live, we, we get to that that point- it just clicks with us all, and we all will smile at each other, and then you just, you know, and everybody -you get the hairs stand up on the back of your head and it just yeah-And everybody-You can see everybody, just the flow just kicks in. And, and everybody just goes with it. It is amazing.

Matt: Yeah, there’s a connection between it. So we’re all really, really old friends, you know we’ve, you know, we’ve grown up together. Basically. So it’s a really special thing to be able to do that. And then all our, all the attributes everyone brings to it, you know. I don’t know how it happens, really. But everyone adds something to it that, that makes it Air Formation  what it is.

Ben: Yeah, it’s a special thing.

Danielle: Yeah, there’s something about, I don’t know if it’s just me, or because I’m kind of, not-necessarily new to the genre, because I’ve always been a huge shoegaze fan-But maybe interviewing and getting involved on this level- Everyone is just so nice and I don’t know, there’s just a magic to it, I feel like, with this genre, and I don’t know if it’s just the nature of the beast. But I don’t know, It’s just great. Your early influences have been listed as Spiritualized, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, who do you or what do you draw upon now, or even in the past 10 years for continued inspiration today?

Matt : Well, this is the thing, isn’t it? Cause, we were chatting, actually the, you know, the bands that influence you, doesn’t necessarily mean that you end up sounding like that band. So you know, I could go back to, you know, ask him (motioning to Ben), hearing The Jesus and Mary Chain for the first time, you know, Ben and I, we went to the Roller Coaster show. So you know, and it was just really, really special, you know, but that we don’t sound like The Jesus and Mary Chain. But the feeling they gave me that night, made me want to be in a band, you know?

Ben: It’s true, there are a lot of influences. I mean, The Cure plays a big part. We all grew up with, you know, Disintegration was the most amazing album back in the day. And now in more modern times, bands like Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, those sort of things probably play a big influence.

Matt: Yeah, I love Bardo Pond, as I was going about. I think they’re just the most special band, they’re absolutely magical. And but, you know, there’s that free-form stuff that they have in their sounds, which is, you know, I can’t get close to it, really, to be honest. But when we, when we rehearse, you know, we’re playing things over you, you do get that, those elements as well. So I think that’s, that makes it, a bit different for us where, I don’t know, I suppose I’d like to think we’re kind of more of a space rocky thing. We’re a bit more out there at times. Get a bit more out there and and push things into, it’s a little bit more free form in a way. It might not come across that way on the album, we’re certainly like that live. Certainly like that in our rehearsals. Um, you know. But yeah, so there’s many, many different things. And obviously the Flying Saucer Attack was one of the, you know, big, massive inspirations. So you mix Bardo Pond, Flying Saucer Attack, Spiritualized, you know. I don’t know. You know, somewhere it all comes together. But of course, everyone listens to different types of music. You know, there’s some guys in the band that probably don’t listen to shoegaze music, you know, so they’re, they’re  bringing their, their vibe into it. So…

Danielle: I find that interesting. I’ve talked to other band members, other members of other bands, shoegaze bands, that have said that.  They’re like, “I don’t listen to Shoegaze outside of, you know, when I practice with my band”. I was just kind of mind blown by that. And he said, “If you know, if we all listened to shoegaze while we made it, we’d all sound alike.” And I guess there’s some truth to that.

Ben: Yeah.

Danielle: There was a post that you had on Instagram back in June, that I think that was the first time I had communicated with you, you were back in the studios working with Pat Collier, and I know that he had also worked with The Jesus and Mary chain and Swervedriver, and I wonder if that had influenced your decision to work with him. And also, while you’re in the studio, like you were just saying, that, you know, you get,… you have a spontaneity, and maybe some things are, when you’re in the studio, are you… Is everything already written? Or does some of it happen while you’re recording?

Matt: It’s all written where we can’t really afford to spend too much time in the studio experimenting. However, there is, there is something very different about how we record, live as a band. There’s something very different about doing that in the studio than it is to do in the rehearsal, I think when, when when it comes to the, the studio there, there’s this is a special intensity, certainly, and I remember that recording daylight storms that, that when we did that, and I think Cold Morning was the first, possibly, song that we were recorded during the session. I remember playing it and thinking “Well, this feels, this feels different to the rehearsals. This is, everyone is properly giving it now”, you know. So you know…

Ben: It brings a different focus. Apart from anything, you’ve got a short amount of time there. So you wanna do the best you can. But it’s yeah, It’s, it’s a special special thing i think.

Matt: And working with Pat as well. So, he’s sort of is responsible for some of my favorite records growing up as a kid.You know, I grew up with, sort of, also the indie indie kind of scene guitar, scene and, like, when I was like 13 buying Wonderstuff CDs or tapes and sitting there in in my bedroom reading the sleeves and seeing Pat Collier’s name on that. And obviously, it’s amazing how many records his names are on. You know. I mean, it’s, it’s crazy. So when, so Simon and Televise had worked with Pat and when we were doing the first EP with AC30, Robin from AC30 said we should, we should get you with Pat and I and I couldn’t believe it, you know, and then we had to go and meet him, and it was just it blew my mind really to be honest to be sat in his studio with him. Asking us about our music and then agreeing to work with us, and which we’ve done for 20 years. 

Ben: All the stuff we have done with AC30 has been with him.

Matt: So when we started recording with Pat he was not much older than we are now. So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s good. It’s frightening. yeah, but he’s, he’s a wonderful man.

Danielle: That’s got to be, really, I don’t know, really cool to, to work with, sort of like one of your heroes, you know, and then, but now you’re all on the same level.

So, your new single is called finding gravity. It’s it was officially released on February nineteenth. I got an email from Band Camp on the eighteenth around 10 Pm. And it was already stuck in my head by the next morning. I’ve listened to it probably more times than I care to admit and it’s an amazing song, and I love it. Tell me about it, and, and what’s the song about? And why did you pick this one as the first single?

Matt: Well, we I think we wanted to come back with something quite big, and you know, up there with everything else. Again, It’s, it’s just one of those things. It all fell into place.

Ben: It clicked with us while we were working together. We we knew from quite early on, I think, that we that we felt that this this was a special track for us, and it will kind of probably be one of the first that we want people to listen to, because they kind of informed the the feel of the rest of the album, I think, as well.

Matt : And as to what it’s about.

Matt: yeah, I guess it’s uh, it’s all about putting things into perspective. And thinking about what’s important, is probably as much as I could possibly say about it, really.

in many ways. Yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a, It’s a very cool track and we’re all chuffed with it, and, and we can’t wait to play it live at some point.

Danielle: Oh, wow! Well, let’s take a listen to it. Here, from their long awaited self-titled sixth studio Album is Air Formation with their new single ‘Finding Gravity’.

If you’re just tuning in. That was ‘Finding Gravity’, the new single by Air Formation off their new self-titled album due to be released on April 19, 2024. And I’m here with Matt and Ben, who have so graciously taken time out of their Sunday evening to chat with me.

Let’s talk a little bit about the rest of the album. There’s 8 songs on it. You just mentioned before the break that you were excited about playing it live? Have you played any of these other songs live and gotten any reaction to the songs? Do you have plans to play live in the future?

Matt: Possibly. 

Danielle: Is it a secret? (laughing)

Ben: Yes, we’ve got plans to. I think it’s fair to state. But we yeah, we just need everybody to, it’s difficult with lives and stuff like that. Everybody’s got their own things going on. So yeah, responding, the right points to do it. We definitely will be playing live at some point, but might not be for a while. Hmm, but yeah.

Danielle: Do you think you might come over here to the States? I know, I know, I know, I just had to get that in there, because, you know, we always get the short end of the stick over here, like, the music scene over there is so good, and we’re just over here. Whomp whomp. I shouldn’t say that we’ve got good music over here, too, so I don’t wanna give, you know, bad vibes. But what about the artwork on the album? And the video concept, what’s behind that?

Matt: Ben did the video. 

Danielle: Oh, you did?

Ben: I did. Yeah, it was, yeah, I got some tips from Chris, from Innerstrings. Yes, and yeah, we yeah, gave it a go. Yeah, just trying to capture the same sort of feeling of the song. But just with some tripped out visuals as well.

Danielle: Yeah, it was very cool.

Matt: The artwork was all done by Richard, who plays the keys in the band, and he did the artwork for Near Miss as well. So yeah, so I haven’t actually seen the actual proper artwork for it. But yeah, it’s lovely, isn’t it? You get drawn into it, don’t you? Into this …

Ben: yeah, you kind of disappear..

Danielle: yeah, you’re going down into there…

Matt: Yeah, you probably get that feeling when you listen to the album as well.

Danielle: Yeah, all of the artwork on all of your albums, I’m looking around because I have a couple around me, all have that kind of vibe, all very kind of spacey and cool. I have this question about, throughout your discography. There’s this journey of these ‘Formations’, starting with your first album called Information, and it kind of takes you through up to ‘Formation 4’ on your last one on the 2018 Near Miss album. I’m wondering if this concept was something that was, like, preconceived, or if it’s something that’s kinda happened organically over the years. Are they meant to be listened to as one big piece, those Formation songs? Or was that just kind of something that happened over the years?

Matt: Well, I like, I like instrumentals and they are literally improvisations, so that they are the things we, that you know, when we record them, we literally don’t know what’s going on. So they are, they’re one take improvisations, really. So again, Flying Saucer Attack, on their albums, without the purple voo kind of  instrumentals it was. It was that kind of idea. So, yeah. And you know so there, there’s one missing. I don’t know If anyone, if anyone’s noticed the number.

Danielle: Formation 3!

Matt: I actually, I do have a copy of that somewhere.

Danielle: I was combing through everything through each one, and looking and looking and looking. I’m like there’s No. 3!

Matt: Yeah, it felt wrong to record a 3 that wasn’t the same original 3 but so there isn’t one on the, and so there isn’t one on the new album, so we were a bit short on time as far as the length of the album goes. So I wanted to have some kind of instrumental-ly things on there but time on and money, as far as the record goes, you couldn’t really be a double album again, so we had to stick with 8 songs. So there are, there is an instrumental demo that might appear. We might do it again. 

Ben: I mean, it is that all of those Formations are kind of a little snippet of what we, what we do in practice. So we’re creating the songs and practicing the songs as we, as we write them. But in between, we’re just going into these, kind of, free form jams type things,  and just really, it’s just really nice. Everybody  got smile on their face and just loses it. And we just, yeah, it was just nice. We just captured a few of those on each record and it became a concept. But yeah, we’ll definitely do more. 

Matt: Yeah, we will definitely do more.

Danielle: That’s very cool.

How can our listeners be of the most support to you? I know during these,

you know, things are different now than it used to be, like, back in the day you’d be a band and you’d release an album, and you’d make all this, well,in the right, perfect world, you’d make all this money when you release the album. But now everything kind of streams for free and you guys (bands) don’t make as much money as you used to. So how can our listeners be the most support to you?

Matt: Well, all we care about is people enjoying it, sharing it

Ben: It’s never been like a job, money has never been a focus of it, it’s like 5 mates who all play really well together, we really enjoy it. And yeah, it’s an excuse for us to get together. And if we produce a record out there that people like, that’s just amazing.

Danielle: Well, I love that. It sounds like a really good reason to make some music.

Bandcamp Friday is Friday, March 1st, and on the first Friday of the month all of the proceeds go directly to the bands, if I’m not mistaken, so that might be a good day for people to purchase your music or any merchandise, if they’re interested in that. But, is there anything else that you guys want to touch on that you want your listeners to know.

Ben: Just thanks for listening. And yeah, just keep spreading the word share. Share it around. Yeah, just just hearing people’s reactions. And yeah, just getting that, that little bit of feedback that people are enjoying. What we do is just yeah, that’s enough for us to carry on.

Ben: I mean, we do it for the love of it. But it’s always good to, yeah, puts a smile on your face when you know other people are getting something out of it.

Matt: Yeah, it’s out the 19th of April. So it’s not long. It will come round. Might, there might be something else before it. There, I don’t know… 

Danielle: Maybe another single coming out before then. Another countdown?

Ben: a single?

Matt: I don’t know but there will be something shared before it comes out. I’m told. By the powers that be so.

Danielle: Well, I’m loving it. I’m very excited. I’ve been very excited since you came into my world. So I really really appreciate you taking some time to day and look forward to hearing some more  from you.

Matt: Thank you. Thanks for your time

Danielle: Thank you, Matt and Ben

Written by: Danielle Hennes

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