Interview: Wired All Wrong
Tue, 27 May 2008 09:47:04
Wired All Wrong's Break Out the Battle Tapes [Nitrus Records] sounds like a high school science experiment gone wrong—in all the right ways. It's an amalgam of danceable synths, cacophonously calculated keyboards, punk rock distortion and infectiously insane vocals. The two architects of WAW have been concocting edgy music for a very long time. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Matt Mahaffey broke ground as the sole man-behind-the-curtain in SELF, putting out head-spinning tracks and making audiences think with his brand of edgy electronic rock. Meanwhile, WAW's programmer and keyboardist Jeff Turzo created the darkly synthetic soundscapes that made God Lives Underwater one of the more poignant acts of the late '90s industrial scene.
WAW sees these two musicians at their finest, allowing them the freedom to push boundaries. At the same time, they still cut infectious, booty-shaking electro-rock fit for everyone from the blog-surfing MySpace addict and the girl getting' "Low" at the club to the mosh pit-loving metalhead. In addition, WAW have produced records for a bevy of artists ranging from Hellogoodbye to Under the Influence of Giants. Turzo and Mahaffey took some time to give ARTISTdirect an exclusive interview from their secret lab, err, studio in the San Fernando Valley. The two discussed everything from their work as production team to their mad scientist approach to songwriting.
Break Out The Battletapes feels so alive. What's your songwriting process like?
Jeff: There isn't one specific method. I had existing tracks that I would send to Matt, and those served as the background. Matt would often send them back almost immediately, minus a few lyrics—which is pretty insane. Sometimes we worked on songs Matt started that already had a structure and music.
Matt: But, we went through those tracks forever.
Jeff: Yeah, some of the songs took years to form.
Matt: For me, there's nothing like having a CD with music from Jeff and being like, "Well, that's cool," and then just writing over the stuff.
Even though you came from bands where you were both the primary songwriters, it seems like there's a good chemistry in Wired All Wrong. Would you say that you bounce off each other really well?
Matt: It works well for me, because I've always been accused of filling in too much information. Just singing is great, because I only have to handle the vocals department. That's really cool, because I can't go nuts. I won't take the track out in a ridiculous direction, because it's not my track. It's nice to be limited. When Prince used to do his records, he had a 16-track setup at his house. He'd have an engineer come in and give him sounds, and then he'd be like, "Leave!" Then he'd have 16 songs. Now with the Internet, everything sounds super crystal clear, expensive and amazing. Prince just doesn't make the same records, because there's no limitation anymore. It's nice to be like, "I've just got one mic, and I can do whatever I want with it." That seemed to work for me.
Jeff: Now, we're at a point where we're not worried about what the music's for or what it's supposed to turn out like. We're just making it for fun, and it's the first time I've done that in a long time. That mentality freed everything up a lot.
Matt: It worked with our schedules too. It was just like, "We'll work on this when we both have time to work on it." That's what we did, and we ended up with a whole record one day. So we said, "Let's put it out!"
It's a very "Los Angeles" record. It really explores and makes fun of the scene, but at the same time, you guys show a lot of love for it.
Matt: We knew we were going to get flack for writing a song like "Lost Angels." We almost didn't put it on there. At the same time, it's what everyone feels. I've had people say, "Man, you nailed it. That's exactly what it feels like." I mean, for someone who's from out of town, or someone that's moved here like I did, I'm like, "Wow, this is not as easy as it seems." It's this weird existence to try to live through and be an artist here. It's an expensive town, and it's a tough town. I can't not write a story about that without sarcasm.
Over the course of the record, the songs conjure a lot of imagery—musically and lyrically. You're telling a lot of stories on there.
Matt: Yeah, I write about girls a lot too [Laughs].
Especially on "You're Freaking Me Out."
Matt: Yeah that was just a bangin' track. You could pretty much sing anything over that, and it would be cool.
WAW has had a lot of different live incarnations, from a full band to just the two of you. Does it feel like there's a lot of space to play around, when it's just you two on stage?
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