A Place to Bury Strangers: "Everything [We] Get Involved With Seems to be Related to Death."
New York's A Place to Bury Strangers has been around for nearly a decade, and, in that time, the band has garnered a solid fan base for its unrelentingly loud slabs of noise. The band's sophomore record, 2009's Exploding Head, which the band is still touring behind, found APTBS exploring interesting new ways to blow out speakers.
Often compared to My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain, the music of A Place to Bury Strangers isn't nearly as dour as all that. Matter of fact, the band's leader, one Oliver Ackerman, is a pretty conversational, amusing guy.
Speaking from his home a few days before beginning a new tour with a free show on Wednesday night at the Granada Theater, Ackermann was more than happy to pontificate for us on the finer points of shattering your ear drums.
The band has been labeled psychedelic rock, post-punk, noise rock, dark wave and shoegazing. Anything you want to add?
Anything you can think of. Whatever. Classic rock, punk rock. We just make music.
Several years ago, you were christened New York's loudest band. Is that a badge of honor?
It's certainly not a problem. I mean, it's kind of silly. The assumption is that people might avoid a show thinking it's going to be too loud. I don't want to damage anyone's hearing permanently, but I like to play loud. I think some people might think it's a badge of honor, but I don't know. I'd think of it as a bigger badge of honor if people just like the music. I guess you take what you can get.
Back in 2008, you did a tour with Nine Inch Nails. Was the crowd receptive to you guys?
Yes, it was great. There were a couple of shows where people were shooting me the middle finger when we started. But I remember staring down this little kid and he finally got into us rocking him. They were moshing at some of the shows.
Your last record was on Mute Records. Did you know that the label had such a history of releasing landmark underground music?
Definitely. They were really cool. I think the choice of label affected how we made the album. The label gave me a whole pile of records to listen to -- a lot of electronic stuff that certainly left a mark on me. I was really excited to be sure.
One critic wrote that the move to Mute resulted in the band making cleaner and calmer music. Do you agree?
For that record, it kind of did. We tried to record that record live as much as possible. There weren't as many layers, not as many walls of noise. It was cool to try to do that kind of thing. I didn't think that it was a whole new direction for the band. The new record is going to be crazier.
How far along are you on the new album?
I think it will come out early next year. We've been working on it since October of last year. We're pretty close. I think the new stuff blows the old stuff away. We have the same aesthetic that we've always had, but we're always going to different places. We will always be a guitar, bass and drum band, and we will not go away from that.
Just last year, Jonathan Smith left the band. How has that affected the band's sound?
That's just the way things go. It was definitely a bummer at the time. But we were psyched and lucky to find someone [Don Lunadon] who could step right in and help us out and change the dynamic of the band. I don't have any regrets. I'm still friends with Jono, but things change.
Last year you had a tour stop in Bogota, Columbia. What was the scene like there?
There were maybe 5,000 people who came to see us, and about 200,000 came to the festival. It was amazing. It was wild. Outside of every restaurant or any business, there is a guy with a machine gun standing outside. The kids and the people are so full of life and having a great time, but I could tell that it was a dangerous place.
Do you ever get sick of being compared to bands like My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver?
Those were the bands that I grew up listening to. I listened to a lot of that stuff. Being compared to them is cool if that helps people understand what we are doing. If people want to know what we sound like, tell them we're a mix of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Tell them anything.
Do you still make your own effects pedals? If so, are you working on anything new now?
Well, we just came out with this bulky distortion pedal and we are working on this delay/reverb effects pedal.
Is the band obsessed with death and destruction?
Maybe. Everything I get involved with seems to be related to death. Death is certainly a common theme in the world. We like to destroy a lot of stuff, so maybe we are obsessed with it. I kind all sorts of things like love and peace and crap like that, too.
A Place to Bury Strangers performs Wednesday, September 21, at the Granada Theater