Very aware of death & other pitfalls [2008-08-07]Have A Nice Life create an original/distinctive sound that's a mix 80’s synth pop, Goth electronics, doom, ambient, cold folk, Industrial and Shoegaze indie. Their wonderful debut album Deathconsciousness is one of my highlights of this year, Dan one of the minds behind Have a nice Life kindly agreed to give me an interview via email
m[m] How did Have a nice Life first come about it and is it your first musically project?
Dan HANL started because Tim and I wanted to work together. Tim had joined up with a band I was in while at college, and played with us until we broke up. We had very similar taste, and views on things. I went abroad for a while and started writing on the acoustic guitar, and when I decided I wanted to do something with that material I started trading tapes with Tim. He had a lot of amazing stuff of his own, and we just mashed those together and started playing coffeehouses and the like as
Have A Nice Life. The project has changed completely over time - we just do what we want.
As for previous projects, we've both been in a lot of bands.
m[m] How did the concept for the Deathconsciousness album and booklet come about?
Dan We'd been working on the music on the album since we met, but the unifying theme didn't come about until I took a trip to Europe last year. I was trying to get away from some events in my life, and writing a lot, and reading a lot, and it grew naturally from that. The album coalesced around those ideas very quickly. The booklet idea came up as a way to get people's attention, and to try and explain what we were up to, expose people to something that not many people know about.
m[m] Why does the work on Deathconsciousness span several years? Was there other work done with Have a Nice Life during this period which didn’t fit the concept? And if so will you be releasing this?
Dan We are always writing, and always recording. There are a lot of unreleased bits and pieces floating around. Most of them are not finished, and a lot of them were abandoned for a reason, and so those won't be seeing a release anytime soon. Other pieces we are currently incorporating into our new stuff. One B-side from Deathconsciousness, "Numbers", will be released on an upcoming ENEMIES LIST label sampler, sometime this year.
m[m] A lot of the instrumental sounds on Deathconsciousness sound very authentic 80’s – have you managed to get any equipment from the 80’s and if so was it difficult to source?
Dan We don't really have any retro equipment, or anything like that. We barely have equipment, period. We do have one old Casio toy keyboard that plays the rhythm part in the song "Holy Fucking Shit", but everything else just comes from a guitar, a bass, an amp and a guitar.
m[m] Why did you decide to release the album and booklet yourself and was it an easy thing to do?
Dan It was an easy thing to do because we never, ever considered there to be another option. We don't play shows. We don't promote our music in anyway, except via our own website. No one had ever heard of us, or even knew we were playing music. We'd been doing it so long...it's just a part of who we are.
I like running the label. I enjoy it. We have always recorded at home, with whatever we had. It was just the natural thing to do.
m[m] How much truth is there in the Antiochus and the cult of Antiocheanism concept of the album? And why is the professor of Religious History at the University of Massachusetts who is meant have written the text name
Dan The name is blocked out for legal reasons, which I don't want to get in to. We were not forced to black it out, we just thought it prudent.We stand by everything in the book.
m[m] How did you first come across the Antiochus and the cult of Antiocheanism? And can you see yourself basing future work around occult texts or history?
Dan I came into the whole subject as a kind of accident, part of which I can't really talk about, for a lot of the same reasons we ended up blacking some of the names out of the Deathconsciousness booklet. As for future work, we don't want to become the "band who writes songs about books", although, in reality, that describes us pretty well. Our next record won't be nearly as conceptual, but we have interests outside
of music and those are definitely being worked into the packaging, artwork, and lyrics.
Dan Outside of the band, I'm trying to write a book on a subject related to Antiocheanism, though not really about Antiocheanism itself. It's a biography. I'm hoping it clears up a lot of the questions we've been getting. It's slow going though. It's a lot of research, and I'm not really a writer.
m[m] Have you been surprised at how popular Deathconsciousness has become? And do you have any plans to reprint the booklet again?
Dan The response was a complete surprise. We did not advertise at all - I just sent out some copies for review, and thought that would be the end of it. We did not expect to sell over 50 in our entire life-time, and were caught completely flat-footed in terms of supply. The rate at which we had to produce the discs ended up being unsustainable, hence why we moved to the digital version. We want people to get the music if they want it, but logistically we just couldn't handle the physical copies.
Dan We are in discussion with another label about doing a co-printing of the album, most likely without the booklet. That will be sometime next year, if it happens.
m[m] How did the idea for enemies list label come about?
Dan I bought the "enemieslist.net" domain in college, and everything I've done since has been under it's auspices. We believe strongly in the DIY aesthetic; when we had the material to put out, we put it out. There wasn't much thought to it other than that - anything that's on the ENEMIES LIST site is something we like or believe in.I've always wanted to run a label, anyway. I'm grateful for the chance.
m[m] Can you tell us a bit more about the new NAHVALR project?
Dan NAHVALR is open-sourced black metal. The concept was that anyone could submit anything - parts of songs, sounds, lyrics, ideas, whatever. Those individual pieces were then spliced together and hacked apart by Tim and
I, and used as the groundwork for our heavier material.
Dan We're both really interested in the black metal scene, specifically how so much of it is DIY. We wanted to contribute something to the culture, and NAHVALR is it. It tends to be a combination of super noisy, chaotic,
ultra-dense pieces, and dark ambient, sound-scape stuff. We're really excited about it. It comes out August 1st in a limited pressing, but pre-orders are available now from the ENEMIES LIST site.
m[m] Talking about Black metal are there any particular bands that influenced the NAHVALR project?
Dan In terms of Nahvalr being open-source, not really; musically, definitely. In terms of newer records, Xasthur, Velvet Cacoon and Lurker of Chalice were big influences. We love Burzum and Bathory...the whole black metal scene is inpsiring: it's so DIY, so isolated, that it has the purity that comes from people making music for no other reason than to make music. Eventually, it'll be co-opted, like every other genre.
That's natural. For right now, though, it's still one of the most vibrant and experimental areas in the world of extreme music...
m[m] I Downloaded the first release on ENEMIES LIST America Addio-Plat of zion and really enjoyed it-who’s involed with this and are there any plans to reissue it on CDR?
Dan America Addio is M. Kestigian...he's incredibly smart, and the music that keeps coming out of him is this hyper-intellectual breed of pop music that can be really difficult to pin down. Plat Of Zion was a kind of "proof of concept" for him, as he was really working to achieve a certain hyper-pop sound (a lot of his earlier material had been instrumental). It was his decision to release the album for free online; as of right now we don't plan to do a release, but anything's possible.There will be a few new America Addio songs on our upcoming label sampler. His stuff is really amazing. He writes even more than we do.
m[m] What else have got going out on enemies list in the future & what else are you working on at present?
Dan After NAHVALR, our next release will be a free label sampler, featuring all of our projects as well as unreleased material, old stuff, etc. We're also trying to experiment with the delivery method; instead of just downloading a bunch of mp3s, it's going to be a kind of scavenger hunt in a folder, with tons of written material, literally hidden tracks, secret messages, codes, etc. The idea is that the more time you spend with it, the more you'll get from it. I don't think people have really exploited the whole digital medium the way we should have. It should be interesting.
Dan HAVE A NICE LIFE is currently writing and recording for our next record; it was originally going to be an e.p., but I think we're already past that point, so most likely it'll be another full album. NAHVALR is planning a split with the Jerusalem band POOCHLATZ, who are amazing. I'm currently writing songs for GILES COREY, my solo project; Tim is working on a series of extremely limited-edition cassette releases that are really amazing. We're also putting out short-runs of pins featuring various intense intellectuals and historical events and weird photos, etc.
Dan I don't know. We're all over the place. It's a gift to be able to do what we do and not go into the poor-house for it. We deeply appreciate that.
m[m] Tells us a bit more about your solo project GILES COREY? What’s it sound like ect? And is Tim working on any other projects?
Dan Giles Corey got pushed back when NAHVALR really got rolling. I'm still writing for it, so it's still evolving, but it's essentially quiet acoustic music. It's sparse, and sort of conceptual in the sense that it incorporates a lot of EVP recordings, and stuff like that. It's like Have A Nice Life releasing a Hank Williams record. I'm not putting any rush on it - when it's ready we'll put it out. Tim is always working on stuff, but at the moment we're both primarily concerned with the new HANL material.
Thanks To Dan for his time and efforts with the interview. To hear samples of Deathconsciousness , buy direct or find out about the other projects on enemies list label go to here. Or for Have A nice life Myspace go to HereRoger Batty