The Black Dog Interview + Exclusive Stream

“We live in dangerous times… Fight Back!”

A long message accompanying the Sheffield’s most influential musical trio’s new album Neither/Neither doesn’t describe the immensity of its kick drums, or its hypnotic atmospheres, or any other musical side of it. What it does talk about is the age of information war, false prophets, media control, lack of substance, and our confusion and impotence in front of it all.

Techno pioneers The Black Dog continue on the path of using their music as a response and a commentary to the contemporary state of the world, and everything in the mix – from the artwork and press release to the track titles and bonus gifts with album purchase – is a part of the process.

It would be a shame not to drink from this well of thoughts and information, so we took our chance to speak to the legends about the frightening reality, the ways out and of course the new album.

Neither/Neither comes in at the time that you yourselves describe as “dangerous”: complete with disinformation, total media control, false prophets, and empty systems. Where does your body of music belong in this whole chaos? What hopes are you projecting on it? Do you have any?

That’s a lot of questions in one!

Dangerous, because when you question things and seek knowledge of how things are really working, you become a dangerous prole. It’s difficult to watch the work of say Adam Curtis and not think: “Is this really how it is? How can so many educated people be so stupid?” – it’s frightening really, but that is the reality.

“Is this really how it is? How can so many educated people be so stupid?” it’s frightening really, but that is the reality.

We feel the bigger question is why are they in charge and deciding for us! In the UK things are moving to the right and everyone is busy trying to get us to hate our neighbours and hate other races, it’s a simple trick of “blame difference”. Everyone can see it, so it shouldn’t be working, but it does!

Our music reflects back feelings and ideas that affect us, we always hope people can connect to them, but we’ve always been a “publish and be damned” kind of collective.

Just like with Further Vexations, you seem to pay very close attention to track listing an the titles of “Neither/Neither. What are some of the meanings hidden in there? What is “B.O.O.K.S” about? What is the Phil reference?

The titles are part of the process, they speak of the music we feel, like a fine thread or seam through the work. Yes, there are esoteric things in the titles – there has to be really – but some are simple to work out. B.O.O.K.S is Bound Online Optical Knowledge Systems and Phil is pretty much like Bolt, things we use to help the flow of the work. Titles can be great fun to work with, not sure why so many techno artist can’t even be bothered with them.

Have you thought of any way of educating people on the issues you pose in the album, other than releasing music? A live show? Any other platform or outlet?

We think and feel people are clever enough to work things out if they look in the right places and question everything. We do have a live show for the album, but we won’t be giving David Icke style lectures between each track. We’re not really a corporate underground band (they do exist) that puts packaging tours together, we’ll leave that to others. We make things for ourselves first, so yes, we do have a live show for the album with lights and footage, but it always starts off as something for ourselves first, it’s how we’ve worked for the last 12 years.

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The press release ends with “Fight Back!” Do you envision some sort of collective of people forming around music or arts to corrupt the already corrupted system? Do you think it’s an individual matter of each person? How do you envision this fight to materialise?

“The sad truth is a lot of people don’t even understand that techno is black music, just put that fact on Twitter and you’ll see what we mean.”

As we’ve got older we have become more socialist in our outlook I feel, and you have to start with the individual then the community in which you live and work.

You have to stand up for what you believe. We’ve spoken out about techno artists using right wing imagery and the influx of noise artist with right wing backgrounds, it didn’t make us very popular, but someone has to say something. Some would say they have an artistic right and they excuse themselves with “playing with the dark side” – well, if you want to do that, you should go and live on the streets for 6 months, not ponce around in the studio bathing in Robert Smith’s tears in an SS Uniform. The sad truth is a lot of people don’t even understand that techno is black music, just put that fact on Twitter and you’ll see what we mean.

The fight will be pure information and people not turning against each other, this has to start with the individual and then small cells before reaching into the community, we’ve no idea if it will work tho!

In the world of hollow music, art, and hollow writing about it, what sources of information are left to us? What outlets do you follow/support?

“If only they could see it in the cold light of the day, but most are shut eyes to start with, so there’s not much chance.”

We follow lots of things for different reasons, but they are all becoming the same. We keep an eye on right wing thinking in our city for example and we also follow a few truthers here, but they both use the same tactics to discredit facts. Anyone speaking out becomes a red/jew for the right wing and sock puppet/MI5 for the truthers – it’s really basic stuff, but it seems to work and has become the new faith for many. If only they could see it in the cold light of the day, but most are shut eyes to start with, so there’s not much chance. I think we are just as interested in how things are presented at the moment, what’s the trick kind of thinking.

Is it hard for all three of you to find time to get together or is it one of those “we live in the studio” kind of things?

Not really, we don’t live in the the studio at all, we spend lots of time doing other things. Some of the sessions can be long, but that’s just because we want to get things right. Often we’ll work apart and bring ideas together online, we don’t really have a set way of working and we’ll try anything twice.

What are your studio sessions like? Do you all jam out and then pick the parts you liked?

We have an area where we play live and just jam things out with lights and projectors, this line up has been together for 12 years now, we don’t need to talk much sometimes.

Do you work separately on parts based on your respective strengths?

The only thing that is separate is Richard does the pre-mastering mixes, because he is much better at it. Ken and I hate that part, but strangely don’t mind telling Rich when he’s got it wrong!

Neither/Neither is due on August 17th via Dust Science Recordings.
Artwork by Human.

 

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