Hi there VOWWS and welcome to Brutal Resonance! It's an exciting time for you considering your latest single 'Heartbreaker' just dropped and you have an upcoming tour with White Lies. Are either of you feeling overwhelmed with everything that's going on or are you ready to get rolling with your synthy masterpieces?
Rizz: The most overwhelming part of life is existing, so whether we’re putting out music or not yeah you could say we are overwhelmed.
I'll be honest when I say that 'Heartbreaker' is what introduced me to VOWWS and I'm already a fan. I've been listening to your material all week. Either way, I read that the new single is a call out to everyone who pledges themselves to one ideal refusing to budge creating toxicity. Is this referring to the current world's state? Or is this song more personal? Or a bit of both?
Matt: It's a bit of both. It started out as a personal, sort of story song in a way. But looking at the lyrics as they were coming out, they started to speak to the cult of personality that is taking over the world, really. I feel like so many of the unbelievable things we're seeing are the symptoms of collective disease, but nobody has really been able to diagnose or even acknowledge what that is.
When I listened to the single I was outstanded by the mixture of darkened synths but gritty guitar work. It's almost as if industrial met pop, had a clash, but worked it all out and went on a date.Musically, how would you describe 'Heartbreaker'?
Rizz: That sounds about right. We generally like shit that’s heavy and angsty but also catchy at the same time. We wanna make music that’s played on the radio that people can get down to without being generic or safe. It’s tricky.
Matt: We don't worry much about what genre we're in, or how what we do relates to all of that. We just write based on what inspires us and what we think is cool to listen to, and watch live.
I also understand you have a second album coming out mid-2017. Will 'Heartbreaker' appear on this album? And are there any details you can give us on the album as of right now?
Rizz: Yup, 'Heartbreaker' will be on it. We have a bunch of songs written, some recorded, artwork is happening, it’s kind of all coming together at the same time. We’re trying to do something really epic from all angles and I feel like we’re sort of halfway up the mountain. We got a fair way to go… Little Timmy’s leg is broke and we’re almost out of chicken. Lassie, get help!
You're also set to take off on tour with White Lies starting in February. Are you excited to be hitting the stage with White Lies? Do you have anything special prepared for the tour?
Rizz: We’re excited to play new songs for sure. We’re going to play a lot of cities we’ve never played like Madison and Minneapolis…. Can’t wait to check out their local airports and Best Westerns.
Matt: Playing these songs in bigger rooms is fun, and it's really illuminating to see how new songs go down at shows like this. So it will be good for the album to be doing these shows.
I'd like to dive a bit back into your history. I understand that both of you had conflicts when your first began recording music under VOWWS thanks to your different influences and styles. What helped you overcome these clashes to become the industrial-pop powerhouse you are today?
Rizz: I wouldn’t say we have overcome them entirely, we’ve just mastered the art of compromise. Pick your battles, fight for what you know for sure, respect each other and leave room for the individual to grow. This band is a collaboration in every sense of the word and it takes patience to put it together right, but we like the results.
Matt: It takes a lot of trust to collaborate properly, but that total trust is when good chemistry happens. Also, it's not really a collaboration unless the other person brings something to the work that you either couldn't, or wouldn't. So you're always gonna have that moment when you look at the other person like, really? But that's so often how good shit gets made.
While you are currently based in LA, once upon a time you lived in Australia. What made you guys decide that you wanted to move out to the USA?
Rizz: We originally came here with our old four piece rock band to make a record with Rick Parker in LA. Long story short the band broke up but Matt and I didn’t wanna go back to Sydney, so we kept making tunes. It felt like a crazy adventure just moving to another country randomly. It still kind of is, we love you crazy Americans.
What was shocking, at least to me, is that in just a couple of years you managed to gain enough of a following and a reputation to have the legendary synth maestro Gary Numan featured on your track 'Losing Myself In You' as well as Thor Harris of Swans handle percussion on 'Holy Youth'. What was it like working with Numan and Harris? Were you in disbelief that these collaborations actually occurred?
Rizz: We generally don’t fuck around.
Matt: We were floored when Gary said yes. We wrote that song for him to sing, sent it to his people and just forgot about it. We couldn't believe it. Then it took a year to get the song finished cause he had the busiest year of his career and we weren't paying him…But we got the track done just after Christmas. Thor Harris has worked with Kevin McMahon, the producer of our first album The Great Sun, who is also a good friend of ours, so that relationship helped it happen.
I've also read that you both take a huge amount of influence from cinematic soundtracks – lots of horror films therein such as The Exorcist, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. Aside from the grandiose scores from these films, do these films inspire lyrics and creativity from the sheer plot and aesthetic?
Rizz: Ummmmm, not really. The thing we enjoy the most about those sorts of films are pretty cheap, like violence, effects, lighting, mood etc. It touches a part of your brain that isn’t invested in the plot. Matt is the wordsmith in this band he’s the thinker who’s always been a fan of language and poetry. Merge those things together and you have something exciting yet poignant.
Matt: Our lyrical inspirations generally run deeper than the aesthetic stuff, and try to reach down into the heart of things. We don't really tell specific stories, we like to bypass that and go straight to how some words, or thoughts, make you feel. What keeps you up at night that you can't tell anyone about? That's what we’re aiming to speak to.
Lastly, I'd like to thank you for your time. I hope the tour goes well and that I'm able to make one of the shows! Cheers!
I would say that the most important thing in life and probably our biggest freedom is for people to be themselves. And if a person has the opportunity to express themselves, they shall not hesitate to do that for one second. And it's not a question of doing that in a creative or artistic form of art. So I think that would be my last words. If you can express yourself, DO IT!
Front 242, Jan 01 2003
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
Share this interview