Les très sympathiques CIVIL CIVIC ont pris un peu de leur temps pour m'accorder une entrevue après leur concert au CEAAC, organisé par la Fédération Hiéro Strasbourg dans le cadre du festival Musiques Volantes :
YYF : How has your tour been so far ?
Ben : It was kind of slow to start, but it’s been really peaking up lately ; we had some great gigs last week, it was very cool.
YYF : Any highlights so far ?
Aaron : Bamberg was a great show, because we never played there before and didn’t know what to expect; it was a nice, big club, with a really good soundsystem.
Ben : The hospitality was great as well, the guy who booked the club was very friendly and treated us very well. It was super good ! And it’s funny, because you play these small places like Bamberg, with 7000 people, it’s a wednesday night, you don't know what to expect, and everything happens to be good.
YYF : Tell me about your musical roots. What were your first passions ? Would you say you're making electronic music ?
Aaron : We both played many, many differents styles, and we both had an electronic period, we were really in that kind of music, but I don’t know if it’s the genre of music we’ve done recently.
Ben : It would be hard to think of a genre that doesn't come on the stereo in the car, just about everything. The first record I have ever own was Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, and my dad gave it to me as a present when I was 9 year old ; it had a big influence.
Aaron : My dad gave me like... Bon Jovi records.
Ben : Jesus !
YYF : When did you start producing ?
Aaron : I’ve been playing guitar since I was 9 or 10, and I remember I got a 4-track recorder when I was sixteen, and from then on, I began recording.
YYF : Did you study any course in music production ?
Aaron : I did do a very short course in music production, that last eventually three weeks, but it was pretty much because they gave you access to a studio for a while.
Ben : My people do these courses because they know that if they do so, they’ll gain access to good equipment.
Aaron : That’s the best way to learn, just try and do it, dive in.
YYF : At what point did you start enjoying your own music ?
Aaron : I wouldn’t say that we still have past that (laughs).
Ben : You don’t start enjoying your own music; I was thinking about this tonight actually, about all the bands I’ve been in, all the stuff that’s been recorded, the stuff that I’ve done, and thinking how little of it I would want to play to anyone. But from all of it, even from the start, when I was 17 years old, there’s little, just one song or one thing, here and there that captures something. My first heavy metal band, when I was 18, did record a demo at the local studio-radio station that might turned up well.
YYF : How did you meet each other, and how did you end up producing together ?
Ben : It was a blind date, it was an Internet hookup (laughs). I got an e-mail from Aaron saying « I want to start an act ; this is the idea, here’s what I think it would sound like ». I listened to a couple of demos, I liked the idea and I liked the demos, so I said « Count me in ». Aaron was in a couple of bands I knew about, I was in a couple of bands he knew about, but we never met personally; we were part of the same scene but we didn’t know each other personally... until he came to live at my house for a month to start with CIVIL CIVIC.
YYF : Can you explain me why the name « CIVIL CIVIC » ?
Aaron : No...!
Ben : I used to have and explanation for that.
YYF : What tunes are on your iPod right now ? / What is your latest album(s) acquisition(s) ?
Ben : The latest thing that I acquired was in Bamberg ; the guy who was DJing at the club burnt for me a copy of the new Modeselektor record and gave it to me, because I deejayed at his bar the night before the gig, and played a couple of Modeselektor tracks. He asked me if I liked the new record and I said « Is it out ?! », cause I knew it was coming out soon, but I didn’t know it was already out since we’re on tour. It’s sound like there’s a couple of good things on it.
YYF : Do you draw any inspiration from those vibes ?
Ben : Well, not really.
Aaron : Not directly, we don’t know from what we draw our influences from, because we try to sound like no other bands ; if we did something that we think sounds « a bit like... », we would just stop doing it and try to do something original.
Ben : We don’t really sound like the things we listen; we like some agy, english sound from the 80‘s, like Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and also australian acts like Midnight Oil.
YYF : With who would you like to make a collab ?
Aaron : Miles Davis (laugh). No that would be a really bad idea.
Ben : I don’t want to be in the same room as Miles Davis, that would be scary. We’ve been talking about trying... (To Aaron :) Maybe that’s too much of a scoop ?
Aaron : Yeah.
Ben : Brian Eno, that could really be fun ; getting Eno to produce a track just to see how he would react, and what he would do, because he’ll obiously take control of the whole thing and say «No/Ok» ; he’s always in research of his own sound, so it would be interesting to see how CIVIL CIVIC sounds after Eno.
Aaron : This guy definitely got an opinion.
YYF : If you weren’t a musician, what would your (dream) career be ?
Ben : I’d like to be a diplomat... Or a hippie.
YYF : Is that a career ?
Ben : Yeah, Professional Hippie.
YYF : Is there a sound that you particulary love to do/like to put in a song ? An effect, a glitch ?
Ben : We tend to stick to strict palette of sound, but there are sounds that are used to make threads between the songs so there is some sort of continuity. The drums sounds in our songs they’re not all the same but they all have the same sort of character, we use it the same way, so our sound palette is kind of narrow. We like tough, fat snares;
Aaron : I’m pretty addicted to a pedal I modified which makes a wobble sound; I can’t really live without. Ben is addicted to his Big Mouth. (To Ben :) It wouldn’t be a CIVIL CIVIC show without your Big Mouth.
YYF : What is your usual setup ? How many pedals do you have in your rack ?
Aaron : I don’t know, I’ve got probably too many. Although, I don’t know if it’s that many, I’ve just got big ones, with lots of knobs on them. Our setup is not that complicated, but we have some really distinctive effects, when we’re using them, you know they’re on and off.
Ben : Most of the time it’s about changing levels of distortion and tone. I use delays and reverbs, Aaron uses delays and also an horrible big box with about a thousand knobs which makes a hideous noise.
Aaron : No one seems to make a sound worse.
Ben : The rest of the time, it’s mostly about scaling up distortion and gain, and then scaling up back down to make dynamics.
YYF : Do you produce exclusively with hardware (drum machine, guitar, bass) or do you use a computer too ?
Ben : We mostly use our instruments, that’s the recipe. We don’t really put anything on our studio recording that we don’t do live. There’s no overdubs or extra effects, or anything that doesn’t happen when we play live.
YYF : In how many bands were you in before CIVIL CIVIC ?
Aaron : I haven’t counted but it’s about 5 bands; only one is more significant, that I toured in and made records with. The rest kind of... disappeared.
Ben : I think I was in about 12 differents bands before CC.
Aaron : You’re a band slut!
Ben : Yeah. I think there was a point in Melbourne where I was in four bands.
Aaron : You whore!
Ben : I was actually making a living, because every week I would have at least two gigs, sometimes four.
Aaron : You were playing the same instruments in those bands ?
Ben : No, I never played the same instruments in any bands.
Aaron : Ben plays about everything.
Ben : "Jack of all trades, masters of none" as they said.
YYF : Any (new) bands I should check out ?
Aaron : There is a lot of great australian music the rest of the world don’t hear because most of bands don’t get out of Australia, since it’s so far away. Eddy Current Suppresion Ring, a great australian band making a record now.
Ben : Melbourne is very very fertile, creates a lot of good music, a lot of which never makes it out of Melbourne. There is also old acts like The Hoodoo Gurus, a famous pop band from the eighties.
Aaron : We could run a pretty long list.
Ben : There’s also The Riptides, from the late seventies, Split Enz, and Crowded House, both formed by the Finn brothers.
YYF : Do you have any words for your French fans ?
Ben : Salut les meufs et les mecs !
Aaron : Thanks for being great supporters for our music, France really get what we’re doing.