It’s no secret that we are big fans of Amusement Parks on Fire and their thick, atmospheric fog-of-war like music. So we rounded up a big bunch of questions, answered kindly by Mr. Michael Feerick.
Hope you enjoy this, our first interview of 2011!
1) We liked ‘Road eyes’ quite a bit. What has been your general experience with it?
Well, it’s been a life changer in many ways. It’s pretty much been my life since 2007 or something, And that kicked up a notch massively when we decamped to Los Angeles in 2009… So it’s been an ongoing, life thing… Which I like, because that fits with the title and theme of the album quite nicely…
2) Any clues about the origin of the title of the album ‘Road Eyes’?
I have this weird thing with titles, I like them to be kind of intriguingly abstract but also have some kind goofy double meaning! On the surface it’s a Neil Young reference, from his 1979 live film Rust Never Sleeps. It was a dreamlike production, with massively oversized amps as the set and strange, hooded techs called ‘Road Eyes’, a play on ‘roadies’. I wanted to reference Neil Young as he’s one of my heroes, and there are hints of the whole ‘hero’ idea thematically in the album, albeit in a dreamlike way. He’s also the maker of some of the classic ‘LA’ albums we were hoping to reference and, well, mess with the idea of basically! As a title it summed up a lot of the more abstract ideas I had thematically, like the idea of human perception being somehow final, even though the point of perception is always subjective, like time or space perception being point A to point B, or a ‘Road’, and that idea being so inevitable it’s kind of cold, and sad. That’s why there’s a lot of perspective stuff going on in the cover art anyway:..
3) What is ‘Echo Park \\ Infinite Delay’ about?
It was never supposed to be on the album, I wrote it as a kind of jokey secret track about us coming over to LA to rock out and live the dream! The title is another goofy double meaning thing. ‘Echo Park’ is the name of the delay pedal that 4 of us use, named after the part of LA where we incidentally stayed when we arrived, and where I still actually do most of my hanging out! ‘Infinite Delay’ refers to the full-feedback achievable with the pedal, and which we tend to leave ringing at the end of our shows (I just like the idea of never-ending feedback anyway) and in an equally jokey way to the seemingly infinite delay to the starting of the recording process! We waited for a long time before being able to figure out a way, financially and otherwise, to make the album. So yeah that all basically sums up the lyrical theme (‘We’ll work it out in the blazing sun, turn the feedback up and stare out at everyone’ etc)…!
4) In one of your interviews, you’ve defined your sound as “stargazers” instead of “shoegazers”. Why stargazers and what do you believe defines this genre?
That wasn’t actually us, I think someone put that in a press release for us as we always denounced the ‘shoegaze’ tag because the idea of being a ‘genre band’ or whatever made it all seem pointless and depressing, even though I really like some of the bands that are thrown into that genre! I understand it though, of course, but it’s not for me to say, you just put it out there and people categorise and comment on it however they want.
5) First album, recorded in your room, remastered in Nottingham. Second one, recorded in Nottingham, remastered in Iceland. Now, Los Angeles. How has this continuous movement changed the definition of your sound?
Well, the first album wasn’t recorded in my bedroom, I didn’t have that kind of gear when I was that age!! I didn’t even have a computer. I still don’t! It was recorded and mixed on a shoestring budget in a small studio in Nottingham by Dan and mastered in London (which cost as much as the entire recording budget again). A lot of the second album was recorded in Iceland, most of the ‘vibey’ stuff, and it was mixed there, but that was mastered in NYC by Howie Weinberg (who did Nevermind, Siamese Dream and every other album in the world) for an insane amount of $$$, I really wish we could get that cash back to put towards a tour and master it ourselves! Aaaanyway, yeah I’ve always been really aware of how the location where you’re working affects what you do and how you feel about it, and I like it all to feel like a journey anyway, hence the move from winter in Iceland to summer in LA…
6) How was it recording in Los Angeles with Michael Patterson?
It was many things! A massive learning experience, hard work, a lot of fun, an eye-opener. At the end of the day we needed to be pushed hard at that point, and they did that. I have huge respect for Michael and Nic and I’m really glad we got to work with them, the end result is exactly the kind of album I’d hoped we’d make…
7) One feature we have found from your albums is that one song wouldn’t make any sense nor would keep all of its magic if we skip a song, so it feels like a symphonic experience. What is your approach to the album experience?
Yeah I aim to make it just that, an experience! I grew up listening to my dad’s prog records and always liked the idea of albums being these huge, flowing peices, but I also like pop songs a lot! So I guess, especially with the new record, I like them to flow like that and have some kind of narrative, or at least have unifying lyrical themes, but I wanted the tracks to also work in and of themselves, especially the poppier tracks like Flashlight Planetarium and Wave Of The Future etc. Not in a synical way, as that’s how people tend to listen to music these days, but in the way that all the really ‘classic’ albums I can think of manage to do both effortlessly, that’s the vague goal anyway!
8) There seems to be a theme going through your albums, not only sonically as songs flow into each other, but also thematically. First one seemed about longing and confusion, second one seems about being lost in life and third one feels like a nervous breakdown. Are you making concept albums? (You can dismiss this question as overanalysing bollocks).
Hehe, I don’t know what to say to that really, that observation could be right on the money. I guess those kind of emotions and feelings are present even if I’m not aware of them. That’s really interesting!
9) A personal question about your self-titled album. Your song “Venus in Cancer”, what does it refer to? My guess is that is refers an astrological position of planets…
That was originally the title of a song I wrote when I was about 14, and more ‘astrologically inclined’ for want of a better phrase! I re-used it as a kind of personal in-joke. I was making fun of myself for the kind of straight-up ‘this is how I’m feeling’ angle I was taking, I’d never really done that before.
10) On that note, the lyrics to ‘Smokescreen’ feel like an expression of feeling frustrated? Is this the meaning of the song?
That’s actually one of the more ‘political’ songs I’ve written I suppose. It was right around the time of the invasion of Iraq. I was recording demos all night, every night with a producer at the time. I was basically nocturnal for 6 months! Anyway I would get home at 6am or so and switch on the news, and just sit there playing guitar, staring at these images on TV, struggling to understand reality I guess, and that’s the song that came out of that time.
11) Any plans for another UK tour? Have you considered dropping by Mexico any time in the future?
Absolutely! We’re working on it…
12) Your first album came out when there was a trend towards post punk, dance rock and new new wave. Did you expect your quite distinct sound to get such a warm reception?
Did it get a warm reception? I don’t know, it never even occured to me that people would hear it, other than my friends at the time. I was really grateful to get to play around the world off the back of it, it was all very surprising. I feel a pretty big disconnect with what’s happening in the music world at large anyway, that’s probably why I’ve been so indulgent!
13) What are your thoughts when you are up on stage, behind a wall of noise? What images fly through your head?
Nothing specific whatsoever, just a powerful, beautiful, comforting ethereal netherworld! It’s my favourite place to be…
14) There’s been a few rumours flying that there’s enough Amusement Parks on Fire material for another album. Will it come out in 2011?
Yeah there’s loads, the last 2 albums could have had a second disc. I’d like to release a collection of all that stuff at some point #fingerscrossed !
All images pillaged from Amusement Parks on Fire’s website and Myspace.
Our review of Road Eyes.
Road eyes was one of our choices for “Best of 2010”.