Need To Know: Battles
By Courtney Nichols
You are also involved with ATP (All Tomorrow's Parties). What was the process of being selected as a curator for their December showcase in the U.K.?
Originally, a little while ago, we were asked to curate this smaller festival they were starting to do. They asked us to do a weekend in London. It wasn't the whole go to a resort and camp out sort of weekend. It was three consecutive shows of people we would curate. That ended up falling through because of our album coming out. When we gave them our list, they were interested. We had worked with Barry Hogan from ATP on all our London concerts. Through the experience of befriending them and working closely with them and seeing the list we gave them for a short festival, they thought it would be cool for us to do something for ATP. This particular ATP we are splitting with Caribou and Les Savy Fav. We have one day and they asked for a list. The three of us came up with seven bands we would like to participate. We tried to sculpt an interest for all different types of music the audience would like.
Are the other acts complementary to your day?
I have no idea. It's totally unclear what those guys have chosen. We have played with Caribou on a few shows and I think he was saying that he chose a lot of free jazz guys. We played with Les Savy Fav in France and they mentioned trying to get some older bands to reunite. I can't tell what it is going to be like. We tried to cover a lot of bases. Like anyone else curating a show, I am sure it's not only going to be free jazz one day. There is going to be some good stuff in there as well.
Since Tyondai Braxton has left Battles, have you seen the band's writing dynamic change?
The absence of one member of the band actually happened during the writing of the album. It was an immediate shift to going from a four-piece to a three-piece act. It is simply displacement. We had a body of work that we approached as a four-piece and none of us were too excited about it. We rewrote the album to fill in the space or leave the space. We needed that at times. We have a tendency to overstimulate our listener -- and people like that -- but with this album, it gave us the opportunity to play with space a little bit more. It's all for the better. It was challenging and stressful. We had to readapt our band on the fly. We are still learning the process but it's a really exciting learning process to play as a three-piece and moving on. It is rewarding in its own sense.
I read that Gary Numan was your dream collaboration. So after you collaborate with your dream, what happens then?
We have plenty of dream collaborators.
Who else is the list?
We will have to see. We were going for whoever was applicable to each song that we wanted to have vocals on. It's tough. We were trying to come up with a lot of people we could ask to sing. Sometimes it doesn't make sense but, depending on the music you have contextually that would be ready for a vocalist to jump on, it's easier to figure that out. I don't think I would have ever assumed that Gary Numan would be on a Battles album, but it's really cool! It's awesome because the three of us really love his music from when we were younger. There are some parallels between what he does and he is a pretty groundbreaking guy. I am not saying that we are groundbreaking but he has made some really interesting musical choices. We question that pop world. We have similarities in that world.