Australian synth-pop veterans NEUROPA have just released their new album “The Blitz”. We here at GC decided to sit down with band member Albert Martinez to discuss the new release as well as other related topics in the realm of the band’s past, present, and future.
GC) You have just released your latest album “The Blitz”. It is definitely as well crafted as your previous works in which we have become accustomed to in Neuropa albums. The album itself seems to be concept driven. Can you tell us about the album itself and your experience in creating “The Blitz”?
With this album we wanted to maintain a sense of unity throughout, much more so than our previous albums. Like a song can have a definite image, we wanted the entire album to have a feeling of coming from a central place but explored from different angles. We feel that we have achieved this on The Blitz.
photo courtesy of www.neuropa.biz
GC) What separates this album apart from your previous releases? Were there any different approaches that were taken in the production of the album?
We both feel this one was the easiest to produce of all our albums. I personally think it’s because we had a clearer vision for it and we’ve learnt from our past mistakes. Rather than taking a hit n miss approach we were very focussed throughout the writing and production of the whole process. We have produced enough material now to know what to expect from our own abilities and when it’s time to try new things in order to spice up a track. We’re very aware of not letting the production phase dampen the excitement of a track. You can easily get stuck in the details and lose sight of the big picture. It’s always important to have fun and get into a track otherwise it becomes a chore and it comes across in the final product. We took our time but ultimately just had fun with it.
GC) Being from Australia , How is the overall electronic music scene there and what is Neuropa’s local fan-base like?
It’s growing very slowly, but it is growing. Australia is geographically large but the population lives along the coastal regions. The largest city is Sydney, then Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and the smallest being Darwin. The scene has been for a long time very insular and stuck in the past. We see ourselves as a mix between the best things from the early 80’s sound and the attitude and production of now. It’s a tall order but I think we’re doing pretty well so far, without trying to sound too pompous ;-)
We get a mix of people coming to see us play, the Goths, the new wave and synth-pop fans and people that like electronica. It always surprises me how people are much more open than I sometimes give them credit. I think now that as long as the music is well written and produced they’ll at least give it a chance.
For a long time we didn’t focus very much on playing live in our own home, we wanted to market it toward our larger fan base which lies overseas. For this latest album we’ve really pushed ourselves to play more and network with other bands and dj’s and its so far proving to be a step in the right direction.
I’ve recently joined up with a good friend Joseph from a touring and publishing company `Rivetting Promotions’ and formed our own local label in order to give things down here a shot in the arm. We brought out Nitzer Ebb and Apoptygma in 06 and in 07 we will bring out Covenant out in April then KMFDM and VNV after that. Audiences want to see quality electronic and crossover bands but the music industry here is very stagnant so we decided to bypass it all and do it ourselves in a professional way. So far these big acts have been fantastic and know that we are trying to do our best to build their fan base with touring and releasing their material for them. Other labels don’t have the foresight so these awesome bands are being ignored quite frankly which is a travesty we refuse to let continue.
GC) You guys just did a show with APOPTYGMA BEZERK. How was the show and experience of playing with them?
That show was superb. Everything just fell into place. Although the sound check was very rushed as often is the case under these circumstances, we just felt so comfortable and relaxed and totally in the groove of the moment that it worked.
I have to say that Apop were really great to deal with. Stephan is such a lovely guy, I was taken aback. I have read some totally unfair things about him on the net so I kind of expected a Diva attitude. Instead we met this really down to earth sincere guy that has this amazing talent and really knows how to put on a spectacular show.
GC) Speaking of touring, you guys have also toured in the U.S. .. How was that experience and how was the reception by the public abroad? Any favorite places to perform or memorable moments?
The States was really cool, we really bonded with everyone that we travelled with. We made our way along parts of the East Coast in 2000 with Neuroactive, B-Machine, Echoing Green, Count to Infinity, Cosmicity and Iris as an ADD label tour. The shows started off in NYC which really set the mood with plenty of Goths and electronic music fans coming along. The second show was in DC and that was definitely the biggest show of the tour in terms of numbers. It was held over 2 consecutive nights. We also played a small trailer park town called Holyoak, that was really bizarre. I recall going down the road from the venue with one of the guys from neuroactive and we were getting very weird looks from the locals (lots of bearded guys like ZZ top). We walked into a bar to get some cigarettes and essentially got chased out. The show that night was a dud in terms of numbers but we had the best time hangin’ out with the other bands playing pool all night and drinking. We’d love to do something like that again.
GC) There is such a sincere song-writing approach which can be observed in songs such as “Regrets” and “Standing Still in Time”. What are some of the things that inspire these great songs? Please explain the song-writing process for the individual writing and composition of the songs?
We’ve tried different approaches with some songs. However these two songs in particular were written in a very traditional manner for us, that is: without any accompanying music to start off with. Essentially the melody sparks an idea for a song and then it follows with lyrics and then music and production comes last. I know that’s how Jason likes to work.
Other times we will write the track starting with some very skeletal sequenced patterns with a bass part and build up melodic vocal ideas and lyrics to blend with those parts. For us it’s crucial to have a very strong melodic structure to begin with because that’s essentially the foundations of the song. For me lyrics take a lot of time to perfect, Jason is much faster at writing than myself. I experiment a lot more with approaches, sometimes starting with a drum pattern, a bass part and keyboards or both and build from there.
The final stage is always the production and this is what often takes the longest.
GC) Albert, How is the “Junk Circuit” project going? Any new developments?
The album took a while to finish but we’re really happy with the result. We’ve been concentrating on live performances recently and are supporting Covenant on their Sydney leg of their tour in 07 of Australia. We’ll be working on some new material also. It’s always slow to get a new project off the ground but the 3 of us feel really comfortable working together that we’re going to continue with it. We love the magic that happens when our heads get into the same groove of a track and just go with it.
GC) Vincent Clark complimented your work on Erasure’s cover of “True Love Wars”. Can you elaborate on what he said and the feelings derived from his comments?
Vince’s comment was very brief. Something like `Jason and Albert I look forward to hearing your new material, enjoyed listening to Beyond Here & Now’ or something very similar, I can’t recall word for word. I thought someone was playing a prank at first. Vince is like a supreme being in the world of synths, so obviously I was totally awestruck by him even knowing that we exist let alone liking our stuff.
GC) Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans across the world both at home and abroad at this time; while the opportunity presents itself???
We’d both like to say thank you to everyone that listens to our material and the people that have taken the time to contact us to let us know how. We feel the new album is our best release so far and we hope that it will allow us to tour more in the future and allow us to meet more of our fans. Thanks for this opportunity Grave Concerns, we really appreciate it.
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