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Battles

Trevor Baker
Trevor Baker 3 June 2007 at 18.39

There's nothing particularly 'standard' or 'normal' about Battles' music, but that doesn't mean they're out to give pretentious muso types wet dreams. In actual fact, they just wanna rawk...

It shouldn't be a surprise that Battles have some pretty out-there influences. Their EPs and live sets sound like nobody else and their new album 'Mirrored' is a multi-faceted post-rock, post-techno, post-everything monster made up of millions of tiny pieces of sparkling rock. Even so it's still pretty weird to find that without Status Quo they wouldn't be the band they are today.

"In a really bizarre way, yes," drummer John Stanier laughs, "via the German techno records I listen to. There was this low-point in German techno in the mid-90s when the techno guys got sick of everything so they started going to parties where they just played rock records. So they'd be playing Slade and Status Quo, all these boogie-beat bands, and they thought it would be really funny if they took that beat and made it into a techno record.

"I really liked those records,"
John continues, "and I would always bring them back when I went to see my girlfriend, who lives in Cologne. So we thought it would be cool to do something with that beat and so we did (new single) 'Atlas'. It's rock influenced by techno that was influenced by rock!"

This convoluted tale tells you something about the way Battles work but not everything. The four members have all been making variously twisted and innovative music for years with bands like Tomahawk, Don Caballero and The Mark Of Cain and, by now, influences don't really come into it.

"I've been playing for so long that I developed my style a really long time ago," says ex-Helmet drummer John. "There are those bands who say, 'Here's our new record and it's a dance record because we spent our whole summer in Ibiza'. A lot of pop bands are like that; 'Here's our electronic record', then it's, 'Here's our return-to-roots record'. With us we've all been playing so long that we have our own styles that we formed a super-long time ago."

This doesn't seem to mean that they've become set in their ways. The main innovation fans of the EPs will notice on 'Mirrored' is the inclusion of vocals from multi-instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton.

"We didn't want to have a singer as such," says guitarist Dave Konopka. "But when we watched Tyondai doing his solo stuff live I remember John turned to me and said, 'We'd be stupid not to use that', because he's got a beautiful voice."

Naturally most of the time those vocals sound like the gibbering of a robot set to 'kill' mode, but the band are adamant that what they're making is still an accessible form of rock 'n' roll, and they're right.

"People think we're a weird jazz band or something," says Dave, "but at the end of the day we're a rock band that uses a lot of different toys to create music."

"I don't want to be in a band that just appeals to brainiac musos," says John. "I can't think of anything more boring."

Need To Know
Line-Up: John Stanier (drums), Ian Williams (guitar, keyboards), Tyondai Braxton (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Dave Konopka (guitar, bass)
From: New York City
Sounds Like: Techno played by a rock band.
Current Release: 'Mirrored' (album, Warp. Out May 14)
Download This: 'Atlas'

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