Interview: Black Dice

May 16, 2012

Fifteen years in, Black Dice have known many names. Band that picks fights with audience members. Pillar of early 2000s New York noise. Those fucking guys who always open for Animal Collective. Mindbending, confounding, mindbending, confounding, ad infinitum. Gods-on-earth behind 2005’s Broken Ear Record, a meticulous collage of synth squiggles, treated guitar sounds, and stammering drum machines. If Black Dice have one constant, it’s that they routinely rip it up and start again. It’s how Aaron Warren, Bjorn Copeland and his brother Eric have maintained their very unique (and powerful) kind of naivete. And it’s why their music, for as out-there as it gets, always has a joyful, human quality—the joy of first discovery. Mr. Impossible, the band’s sixth LP, is out now on Ribbon Music.

Where do the sounds come from? AARON WARREN: Our practice space is really small. The speakers are right by our heads. The way we hear stuff is loud and dry and very present. One of the things this record does very well is translate that sound from when we’re rehearsing. BJORN COPELAND: We used pretty humble means to make this record. Most of the beats were pillaged from some Yamaha piece of shit that Eric found in the trash. You make a loop out of the middle of the bridge section and fuck with that until that’s the main beat.That kind of crass treatment of the stuff was something that we were into. We didn’t want to use sounds that needed to be fussed over. Warren: We used to be more fussy. It was about these delicate processes by which we got this very simple sound. COPELAND: With certain eras we were always defending that it was fucking music! That definitely made us fussy in some ways.

Since you wrote the music to be performed, were you thinking more about how an audience would react to it? COPELAND: This record considers an audience more than other ones. It’s sort of like trying to remember what used to get you off when you were kid. The types of shows that got you excited. We’ve fucked with audiences and tried to manipulate crowds for so many years, and at this point it was one of the only things we had never tried to do in some ways—you know, throw a bone.

Like a big beat. COPELAND: There’s always a beat, there’s always a melody of some sort. But the way we mix it together, the proportions, it’s always skewed. It’s not chin stroke-y music. None of us are academics. We all come from a background where this is a celebratory music. This was party music in a way. Fucked up music that was really loud and energetic and had some sort of spectacle to it.

Do you think your music is weird? COPELAND: I never thought that it was as weird as the response it garners. We think every song is like, Oh it sounds like fucking Slade! Or, Do the song that sounds like Motörhead! We never write anything in the model of something else. But half the songs, we think, are like good time modern versions of “Louie Louie” or something like that. WARREN: We recorded this record in the summer of last year. We were so deep in it, we were like, This sounds like a glam record! This is our fucking pop-rock album! And now I listen to it and I’m like, Still pretty weird.

Interview: Black Dice