Mon, 20 Oct 2008 19:22:28
If Blade Runner ever gets re-made, Innerpartysystem are game to do the soundtrack. "Man, I hope they do a re-make so we could score it," laughs keyboardist/programmer Jesse Cronan. However, even though it seems like a lofty proposition, after one listen to the band's self-titled debut, it makes complete sense. Innerpartysystem craft catchy cyber rock by forging flourishes of electronica with chugging guitars. Melodies filter through dreamy synth emissions as jagged distortion envelopes the sound. It's epic and infectious. Also, the band matches it up with a massive light show on stage that solidifies their status as futuristic rockers. Cronan stood outside a Holiday Inn in Phoenix and chatted with ARTISTdirect about creating the band's songs, their light show and much more in this exclusive interview.
Where do the songs start for you guys? It's cool that the electronic textures are combined with that rock edge.
Every song or idea starts differently. One song will start with a beat that somebody made. Another will start with lyrics. It all just depends on the idea really. I think that it's good to make every song different. If we started every song with riffs or something, it might be repetitive. It goes further than us just sitting in our houses programming. We took it to a couple different producers. Each producer and engineer that we worked with basically taught us something. We worked with Mark Needham, and Alan Moulder mixed a couple of tracks. Just seeing what he does as far as mixing was a whole learning experience. Working with Stuart Price, getting to sit on his couch and having his wife make us sandwiches while working on tracks, was fucking awesome. It was such a great learning experience for us, and it only makes us better.
Was there one vision for the whole album from start to finish?
To make good songs—that's about it. Everything else worked out after that.
Considering your band name is from 1984, are you guys big George Orwell fans?
Yes! Basically, we seriously printed up seven pages worth of potential band names that we all thought of. Then we went through the list and crossed off the names that we thought were shitty, keeping the names we thought were cool. That was one of the names that stood out. It made the cut obviously [Laughs]. We got band names from everywhere, and we whittled it down to that.
It ties in with the band's aesthetic because you have that futuristic vision.
I definitely think that. Looking back on it now, that's the best band name we could've chosen because it ties into everything we're trying to do and everything we're all about.
There's a real cinematic quality to the album.
That's much appreciated, man. Thank you! I can totally agree with that. It would be awesome to make a short video for each song and maybe put those out as well—like a DVD disc of the album. The lyrics were all about telling stories. It's not just like each song is a random story. Most of the stories that are in the lyrics have happened if you can dissect them and read into them. All of those stories have definitely happened to us, and they're part of the record now. Personally, my two favorites are "Last Night In Brooklyn" and "Structure" because I love how slick they are as far as production and writing go. I like "Everyone is the Same." It's a solid track. It's not too flashy as far as production. It's just a good, solid song. Those are probably my three favorites.
Do you attribute the sonic experimentation to using different instruments or methods of production?
We're trying to come up with sounds that haven't been used before and just do something different. For this record, we used a lot of soft synths and plug-ins. We used a lot of downloadable programs. It's all about not using these typically. We used Reactor and other similar programs. With programs like that, you can manipulate sounds however you want and it's still flexible. There were times where we'd fuck with the sound of a synth for three hours until it was right. It's about making sounds that are new to us and new to the listener.
How does the sound transfer to the live setting? Are the songs hard to pull off onstage?
The defining moment of us really figuring out the songs live came when we played the Hiro Ballroom in New York City at the end of last summer. Basically, after we were done playing that show, the DJ came on and basically blew us out of the water. It was just a fucking DJ! We have a live band. We should be sicker than a DJ just spinning tracks. It was at that moment that we were like, "We're doing something wrong here. Our songs aren't coming across quite as they should be." We make our songs a little bit sicker, heavier and more aggressive live. We have a whole light show that's totally synced to all the songs. It's a multi-sensory experience, if you will.
“It's about making sounds that are new to us and new to the listener.”
What's the deal with your light show? Word is, it's pretty amazing.
That's me and our sound guy Andy, who's our singer Pat's older brother. We basically came up with the whole idea and programmed it. We've been doing constant revisions and upgrades obviously, but we're up at about 200 hours programming it. We make sure it's right on time with every hit of every song. I was a light guy at a club before this, so I learned some things from that. Andy's just a fuckin' boy genius. So we just figured out how to make the best possible light rig for the budget.
Do you have your own light rig that you bring out?
Oh yeah, Andy actually built it. We have sixteen LEE's in these five cabinet size boxes that Andy built. We have eight moving lights, and we have two strobes and two lasers. It's all totally sick. It's fun for us to play and it's fun for the crowd to watch. Nowadays with the decline of sales of actual physical music, CDs and whatnot, everybody can just download your album anywhere, so the live show is where it's at. You've got to come out the gates kicking ass, and that's what we want to do nowadays; that's what we've always wanted to do.
You have a metallic vibe in some ways.
We're definitely into a lot of heavy music as well as electronic music, so that definitely shows in certain songs. It's nice to change up what we're doing at any time, and that makes it more fun for us in certain ways.