Like a shy nerdy guy at school, I spent too long obsessing from afar over something beguiling and exciting enough to give me butterflies in my stomach. The object of my obsession? American Men and their thrilling brand of ‘Lazer Rock!’ Think riffs on giant stacks of synths instead of stacks of Marshalls and breakneck drum work underneath, It is the sound of the 22nd century as imagined by the cast of Miami Vice.
I gathered the courage to finally walk across the playground (internet) and talk to the girl (Claude Speeed*) I like, the ‘face’ of American Men and solo drrrrrrrrrone-synth mastermind before he headed off to Madrid for the Red Bull Music Academy (back to class..?) This metaphor is not going anywhere. Here is the interview…
American Men – Cccccccccccccooll Wrld
Are you totally pysched about the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid?
Absolutely, I’ve been mega-psyched since as soon as I heard I got in!
‘Lazer Rock’ might just be the best genre name ever, not just because it is awesome but is also says all you need to know. Was it the starting point? Or the natural outcome after making the music?
When I got my first office job I was in a band that played on the idea of being millionaire playboy hedge fund managers who were in a band as a dumb side project; we called the music “Magnificent Futurist Rock”…American Men kind of sounds like that band but with synthesisers, which I always associate with neon and lasers and stuff, so this whole idea of suits and neon just made me think of Miami Vice basically, hence Miami laser rock. I think that’s how it happened anyway!
Are you bucking the trend for electronic music to be nostalgic? Or is the ultra-futuristic sound actually retro-futurist at heart?
I think elements of our music are nostalgic, but having live drums and fast/choppy music both keep us from going too far down that route. I like the idea of our music being quite anachronistic though; we’ve often suggested it’s meant to be like a supercomputer trying to play 90s math rock.
Would you say American Men are a-typical of the LuckyMe roster?
Yeah I think that’s fair to say… I mean, I don’t think we sit uncomfortably with the other artists; but we’re a live band rather than DJs/Producers and we’re at least 50% influenced by a few particular strands of guitar music.
Elsewhere you’ve said you don’t want to be as ‘serious’ as post-rock, even if it is a big inspiration. Do you guys aim for the ‘epic’ sound, but refract it through a lens of futuristic R&B/Hip-Hop?
Yup totally, I’m always chasing the “epic” sound; I think we’re all really into epic music too. I just think that post rock sounds much more epic than it is, and I don’t think it detracts from the music to not take it too seriously.
Other Scottish bands have always recognised that; when Mogwai were playing 20 minute versions of Like Herod and Mogwai Fear Satan they were also selling “Blur: Are Shite” t-shirts at T in the Park.
Claude Speeed – A Wolf at The Door
How is the American Men debut LP coming along?
We have 13 songs more or less written, so we’re at the difficult stage of “finishing” the writing and sorting out drum recordings. The aim is spring 2012, but as we do everything at a glacial pace it could easily be this time next year…
You guys are all separated by big geographic distances, does absence make the heart grow fonder, and prevent Fleetwood Mac-style bust-ups?
We don’t fight (or at least not yet…). I think to have a Fleetwood Mac scale bust-up we’d probably need to mix cocaine, massive egos, huge success, long tours and romantic relationships (none of which are very likely).
The tracks you release as Claude Speeed are as good as anything on Cool World, is it just a chance to get drone-y how separate a project is it?
Thanks. I guess AM is a bit pointless without live drums, so it always made sense to me to keep the other stuff separate. I do enjoy making drone music, it’s a fun process because it feels much less prescribed than rock music does; I find it pretty meditative really.
Claude Speeed record in the works?
I think at least one EP will be out before the end of the year, maybe two EPs…
What are the rest of the AM guys up to?
Off the top of my head: studying for a PhD, teaching at universities, working for the BBC and construction companies, and/or making music under various names including Ghost Pants, Iron Crease and Sevendeaths.
Please, please, PLEASE! Tell me you’re touring soon?
Afraid not! We might play a few shows in 2012 though…
*the third ‘e’ is crucial if you try and find him on SoundCloud.
This post is a Saint Uffido original!