Saturday, 11 December 2010

A few questions with: The Way Down

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A Q&A with Ari, the bassist/vocalist from the brilliant Icelandic band The Way Down.

How did The Way Down come about?
That's kind of a long story, we formed the band after our last one quit in 2005. We had been getting increasingly frustrated by not being able to publish our music due to various fuck ups, so the original goal of the band was to finish a record at all costs. We managed that in 2007, put out a record called 'See You In Hell', which was published by Nonni on his Dead Records label. It gave us a starting point and we've kind of been progressing slowly from there.

Where did you get your band name from?
The name comes from line in a song with our old band, which was called California Cheeseburger, the song is called On The Beach. It struck me one day that there was a clever double meaning in the phrase. Most people think our name means something depressing, but it actually means 'the really cool', if you think about it.

Where's your favourite place in Reykjavik?
The downtown area, I grew up in the suburbs and I won't even go there to visit anymore. There's also a really nice museum next to the big church downtown that not many people know about that I sometimes take people to. Other than that, our flat and our rehearsal space are where we spend most of our time and have the most fun.

Where do your rehearse?
We rehearse down by the harbour, we got lucky and teamed up with a guy named Danny Pollock, notorious punk rock fella in Iceland. He's been building himself a studio these last few years and we get to rehearse there, it's rather luxurious, as rehearsal spaces go. We also made our new record there, so now we're officially not a one record band, another goal we made for ourselves.

What was your best gig so far? why?
We've had some good gigs, the one you saw was pretty good by our standards. I guess my favourite gig so far was at a local dive called Monte Carlo, a very seedy bar frequented by people with real alcohol issues and full of slot machines. Nothing nice ever happens there, but we showed up and played for the regulars and had fun shaking up the place. We got a lot of appreciation from people who you wouldn't usually see a rock gigs and it kind of felt like we did something nice that night.

We made a video from that gig (watch it here).

And the worst gig? why?
There's been a couple of those, I guess the worst one for me personally was when I lost my vocal pitch in front of a full house. It went on for the entire night, you could tell people just felt uncomfortable listening to it. Shit happens, I guess. We try to make sure we don't have bad gigs, but sometimes it's out of our hands.

When you guys hang out, what music are you probably listening to?
All kinds of stuff, really. Orri, our drummer, listens to a lot of new bands and is generally on top of what's going on, while we tend to obsess over older stuff. We like a lot of different kinds of music and we enjoy finding new bands or things we've never heard before. Guitar based rock, if I had to choose a genre, The Velvet Underground, if I had to choose a band. Or maybe The Cramps or The Who, we like lots of bands. Old country stuff too, jive, you name it.

What was the first album you ever bought?
'The Kids Are Alright' by The Who, when I was twelve. I still have it. It made me want to be in a band, I still love that record and the movie is great as well.

Any weird phobias and/or band superstitions?
Not band related, no. Riina hates the open water and I'm wary of stuff falling on top of me, personally, but that's neither here nor there. We're pretty easy going, as a band, we try to make the best of any situation we find ourselves in.

What's your band's fashion sense/style? Any favourite clothing shops?
I liked the clothes Nonni was bringing in through his Dead store, April 77, for example. Not a big labels person though and I hardly ever buy clothes. I guess buying clothes is a phobia for me, come to think of it. Riina gets her clothes from second hand shops, mostly. There's a newish shop here called Wildcat, which is pretty good, old school rock'n'roll clothes, she got cool boots from there the other day.

Describe your fanbase in 3 words:
Probably not sober.

What's the best thing about the Icelandic music scene?
I'm not a big fan of it. We're kind of on the outside looking in, we generally play when we feel like it and aren't really looking to make a mainstream impact. I find a lot of the stuff you have to do to get airplay and attention here distasteful and there's so little money in it that we might as well not bother. Maybe that sounds arrogant, but we really are just looking to please ourselves and have a good time playing music we like.

What's better - downloading, still buying CDs, or collecting vinyl?
Vinyl for the sound, no question. Streaming and downloading is useful and that's what we do the most these days, like most people. CDs I don't like so much, especially the standard plastic covered ones, they were a step backwards for music, I think.

Best band you've seen live?
There's so many good bands. The Jesus Lizard in 1991 were pretty great, The Hives in 2004, The Stooges in 2007, those were all great concerts. Lots of obscure bands in between, too many to list. Of newer Icelandic bands, The Caterpillarmen are pretty good, so are Hljómsveitin Ég.

Is there anything (previously unknown) about your band that you'd like to share with the world?
Not really, we feel very uninteresting now.

And what are your plans for the rest of the year?
We just recruited a second guitar player and are starting to think of our third record. The second one Icelandic Democracy is out now on the internet and will be published in the real world by Bad Taste early next year, so we're feeling good this winter.

The Way Down - Heart Over Soul.mp3
The Way Down - Maybe Tomorrow.mp3

Thanks Ari! x


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