The birth of punk-rock, though it was a great thing to happen, is now so enfolded in romantic mythology that you get the feeling if you were actually there (which, dear reader, you may have been), it wouldn’t have been as momentously euphoric as ‘I Love 1977’ would have you believe. By that logic, I put it to you that punk-rock is currently being re-invented right under our noses. Well, no. It’s not punk-rock. It’s something else. I don’t know what it is, they don’t know what it is, but it’s something. It’s new, it’s powerful, it can’t be shuffled away ‘indie-rock’. It’s bigger than your god-damn genres, bitch, and in 30 years even the hackiest of hacks will write with longing, misguided nostalgia about it, ignoring whatever fantastic new kind of music the kids of the 2030’s will be banging out. Of course, people have attempted to genreficate it. The most popular effort was from ‘The Wire’ magazine, who called it ‘post-rock’. Which is clearly ludicrous. It’s very difficult to classify it, because it’s musical content is fairly diverse, and as such a single name would almost always miss the point. And just to clear up any confusion, I’m not talking about jazzy post-rock wank bands who’re more concerned with masturbating their saxophones to clever time-signatures than crafting giant aural towers of 21st century avant-rage. Nono. These people have nothing to do with what I’m talking about. Among the most successful of these ‘post-rock’ bands is …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, a band who only escape being called ‘movie soundtrack music’ (a tactic hacks regularly employ to classify music that’s simply beyond the power of language to describe) by basing their music, roughly, around punk-rock. Their slow-burning guitar epics fall somewhere between Unwound and Mogwai, between Shellac and Godspeed You Black Emperor!. There’s only one other band that springs to mind that’s plowing the same field, Aerogramme, a little band from Glasgow on Mogwai’s old label Chemikal Underground. Both bands’ music is hard to place. It’s not punk-rock/grunge, and it’s not quiet-loud-quiet-loud style Slint rip-off music. It’s both and neither. Well, whatever it is, it’s beautiful. A short interview with Conrad Keely:
GOM: Who has been the most important influence(s) on you, musically, and why?
Conrad Keely: I’m not sure. It could be the Beatles, it could be Pink Floyd, it could be the Replacements, it could be J.S. Bach.
GOM: Trail Of Dead’s sound is very epic, and is on a much larger scale than most rock bands, which, I think, is why you get compared to bands like Mogwai and Godspeed. Is this something you’re conscious of, or do you just make punk-rock?
Conrad Keely: I feel warm and fuzzy being listed alongside Mogwai. Like them, we aren’t really a punk band, we’re something else. We don’t know what it is, though.
GOM: If you could outlaw one musical instrument, what would it be and why?
Conrad Keely: That’s a horrible idea. Everything that creates music is a sacred object. Remember that, and take it to heart.
GOM: Our website tries to promote good underground music through the Internet. Did you utilise it when you were starting out?
Conrad Keely: Yes, to a great degree I feel. I have always had a great awe of the potential of the internet.
GOM: What do you think of Sum 41 and all the new ‘pop-punk’ acts? Are they destroying punk? (and if so, is that why God has ordained you with the task of kicking it back into life?)
Conrad Keely: No, they’re not destroying anything. They’re just making pop music, like new kids on the block and Nsync. The heart of rock and roll (i.e. Punk) is still beating, and does not need to worry about the stereotypes portrayed about it in the media, because the media is something run by chimpanzees for other chimpanzees, and we humans know better than that, don’t we?
GOM: If you could support one band or artist from the whole of history, who would it be and why?
Conrad Keely: I think it would be Mozart, because of anyone I can think of, he could’ve really used a business manager, and god knows what great works he might’ve created had he not got sick and died, and been allowed to live to the age of sixty-five like the great JS Bach. Oh, by support you mean open for them? I thought you meant help them out. But still, the same.
GOM: What do you think of the people at the back of your shows who refuse to dance?
Conrad Keely: I don’t think about them at all. Why should I? It is not for me to decide who does what and when. Who knows who they may be or what they’re doing – they could be a crippled or sick person, they could be a forty year old mother who loves our music but doesn’t want to get hit in the face, they could be a bored record executive, they could be the second coming of Christ watching us aghast. My concern is with what we are doing, and with the kids up front who I can jump on top of.
GOM: You’ve signed to a major label (which you may have noticed already), so naturally certain people have accused you of selling out. Do you think a rock’n’roll band can sell out, and if so where’s the line between selling out and buying in?
Conrad Keely: People who waste their time with that triviality really miss the point. Where is the art? WHERE is the art? Does it matter what label it’s on, whether it’s signed or whether it’s obscure? Does being unknown make one great? Does being famous make one worthless? Does every indie label you know of put out perfect record after perfect record? NO! We’re here to be artists, we aspire to make great art, and we hope to be allowed to continue to. We’re not rich kids, I send my money home to my mother. So I’m not about to wallow in some self-imposed obscurity for fear of upsetting some idiotic purist who knows nothing about the real issues at stake. One thing the ne’er-do-wells have to eventually come to terms with SOON is that there is something much greater going on with this planet right now, a great global, human issue that makes such concerns quite trivial. And it would do everyone well to begin thinking about what it is here that really matters, what is really going down on this planet RIGHT NOW, and not who the fuck is on what label. And perhaps then they might decide to become part of a solution and not remain part of the problem.
GOM: What’s your first musical memory?
Conrad Keely: Listening to Band On The Run, at the age of three.
GOM: Your final message for the world?
Conrad Keely: Wake up!
Well what were you expecting? Attitude-laden punk-rock cliché? We’ll leave that to The Vines thanks. Or perhaps you were hoping for the meaning of life? Sorry buddy, stale diatribe in Thom Yorke’s forte. Like my man Conrad says, wake up! What’s wrong with just the truth now and then?