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Oliver Ackermann

A Place To Bury Strangers

 

* The interview was originally published on the 'old' Basement in October 2012.

 

 

Starting from today (19/10), New York's loudest band 'A Place To Bury Strangers' are visiting Greece for a mini tour. Tonight they are playing at "Mylos" Thessaloniki, while tomorrow 20/10 they will perform in Athens, at "Fuzz Club". Their Greek shows will end at Larisa's "Stage Club" on Sunday 21st of October. Oliver Ackermann (the only constant member of the band - APTBS have seen numerous changes in their line up over the 10 years of their history), new bassist Dion Lunadon, and new drummer Robi Gonzalez are ready to give us a series of unforgettable shows full of energy and...noise. You see, our ears stand an average of 85 db, while in an APTBS gig you are very likely to experience sounds of 145 db! However, all this loudness is mixed magically with astonishing and addictive melodies, and that's what makes the New York band so special and unique. Having recently released their third studio album ('Worship'/June 2012), APTBS are coming to Greece with 11 brand new tracks, along with landmark songs featured in their two previous releases ('A Place To Bury Strangers' / 2007, 'Exploding Head' / 2009). Add to that 370kg of equipment and then picture what is going to happen! The Basement Team had the chance to talk to APTBS frontman, guitarist and vocalist Oliver Ackermann, just a few hours before the 'kickoff'...

 

 

The Basement: Let's start with your name... How did you come up with “A Place To Bury Strangers”, what's the story behind it?

It was the old drummer of the band and on one of his drug enduced benders he was getting deep into the world of witchcraft, which was strange because he was a country boy, but anyways this story from the Bible of trading copper for Jesus and buying a potters field really struck him as being quite amazing. And that is where you bury people you don't know. A potters field.

 

The Basement: How did all start for APTBS back in 2001? [this is the right year, isn't it?]

It was 2003 pretty much I think. I moved to NY in 2002 and about a month or so after that I met Dave Goffan and Tim Gregorio. We started playing some music for a while. MY current roommate Joe Kelly and I were going to reform his old band Cobraspa so he asked the old drummer from that band to move up to NY and play with us. Justin Avery. He was also a fan of my old band Skywave so when he had the opportunity to play with Tim and Dave and I he would. That was the start of the band we would get together far away in NY and play and I would write songs and Dave would write songs and we would get together and play them. And then when Dave left the band we just played my songs.

 

The Basement: Oliver you are the only constant band member since then. A lot of changes have occurred in the band's line up. What happened? Tim (Gregorio) and Dave (Goffan)? And then, Jay (Space) and Jono (Mofo)? And there's also the 'drummer situation' over the last two years...

We are a pretty intense band to be in. Always moving forward and pushing ourselves to the limits. It is hard for other people to want to work as hard as I do sometimes and either I or the other people just can't make it happen. Some people like Tim left just because of love. He could handle anything.

 

The Basement: How is it to see all these changes in the band's line up, so many friends come and go? And how did these changes affect your work?

It is tough to see people come and go. Really tough. It is like you are letting down your best friends and it is sad. It is like the breakup you fear. I don't know how it affects my work. Maybe makes it more depressing?

 

The Basement: APTBS count more than 10 years of history. Could you pick one of the most difficult moments/periods of the band, and some highlights as well?

We were broken down in Arizona where our RV caught on fire hundreds of miles from anything. We had to make it back. We got our Van stolen in Rome and it really turned the tour into an intense wirhlwind of pain and destruction.

 

The Basement: Dion joined the band back in 2010 coming from more of a garage-rock background. Was it easy for you to adjust to the APTBS environment and sound?

I think he tries to do that and it is a good challenge.

 

The Basement: When you started working on your new album 'Worship', you somehow agreed that you would write a new song every single day, and you did so for more than a month! Did it really work and -if yes- can you remember and describe for us the day that you wrote 'Fear'? This is a hell of a song, really awesome...

I don't remember that day or many of them. We were giving everything we had to focus on what we were doing at the time and when you are doing that your whole brain and everything is working in a way like you are a ghost. No memory. I do remember that the lyrics were written on the first take which is pretty interesting. We had the music and the lyrics were the scratch track of exactly what I was thinking at the time we wrote the song.

 

The Basement: You record, mix, and master your work by yourselves. How did you come up with this rather unusual decision?

We are the artists. I believe that I know better than anyone what we are trying to achieve so I don;t know why I would let someone else cloud up what we are doing.

 

The Basement: Can you talk us a little about 'Death By Audio'? Do you have an electronic engineering background?

I don't have an electronics engineering background but just read tons and tons of books and worked on things for a really long time until things started to happen. I make sure that the effects sound really good and I think this is important. I feel like some people who work out these effect pedal ideas go a lot more on the engineering side and less on what it actually does and sounds like and I like things to be extreme so we make extreme pedals.

 

The Basement: So, what kind of equipment are you bringing with you for your Greek shows?

We have 370kg of equipment. Amps, effects, video projectors and guitars.

 

The Basement:It's the second time you're coming to Greece for a live performance. The first one was back in 2009? What are your memories of that show?

We played twice in Greece. Once at the Sync festival and another time we played 2 shows at the same club. Both were really intense and we LOVE Greece!!!

 

The Basement: There is an extremely dedicated APTBS fan group in Greece right now, eagerly expecting your shows. What should they expect this time?

Absolute insanity

 

The Basement: A member of the Basement Team had once overslept with his iPod headphones in his ears. He was listening two tracks on repeat for at least 8 hours. Since then, he suffers from tinitus. Should he come to your Athens show? You're the noisiest US band...

We will be playing the music he hears when he sleeps. It is up to him. It might make it worse.

 

The Basement: We are somehow obsessed with lists... We would be more than happy if you could share with us your ten favourite bands/artists of all time.

I cannot. Music is really great and you should enjoy all kinds of music and life. Go out and have a good time!

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