Apparently Godspeed You! Black Emperor really like to talk. Here is one answer from a recent Guardian interview. Via The Guardian:
To me, Godspeed is more than just a band, it’s an idea. Is that true for you? What if you don’t all agree with the idea? More metaphorically, who are Godspeed now: in what ways have the people in the band from the beginning changed in the time of hiatus?
We’re a band. We’re not “just a band”, we’re a band. Us against the world, yeah? Like so many other poor suckers before us. Bands get chewed up in the gears before the rest of the world does. And then bands sing pretty songs while they they get chewed up that way.
The dull fact is, we spend most of our time engaged with the task at hand – rehearsing, writing, booking tours. We do our best to get along, to stay engaged with each other and with the shared labour. We feel like most of the stuff we have to muddle through is the same sort of stuff that countless other bands have to muddle through. Nothing special, nothing interesting. It’s just that we make decisions based on a particular stubborn calculus. It’s just that there’s a certain sort of ringing that we chase when we rattle our bones in our tiny practice-room. It’s just that we like the sound of things a little out of tune. It’s just that we know that music is just a thing that people make in between bigger struggles. And all along we’ve been tilting at windmills, worried that we’re about to get bucked from the saddle.
We started making this noise together when we were young and broke – the only thing we knew for sure was that professional music-writers seemed hopelessly out of touch and nobody gave a shit about the shit we loved except for us. Talking about punk rock with freelancers, then as now, was like farting at a fundraiser, a thing that got you kicked out of the party.
We knew that there were other people out there who felt the same way, and we wanted to bypass what we saw as unnecessary hurdles, and find those people on our own. We were proud and shy motherfuckers, and we engaged with the world thusly. Means we decided no singer, no leader, no interviews, no press photos. We played sitting down and projected movies on top of us. No rock poses. We wrote songs as long or as short as we wanted. Basement feedback recordings with cigarette butts stuffed in our ears. Meanwhile our personal lives were a mess.
And so we hit the road as soon as we could, and got heartbroken out there, the way only true believers can. You string a kite too long upon its string, sooner or later it ends up stranded on the moon.
Whatever politics we had were born out of always being broke and living through a time when the dominant narrative was that everything was fine and always would be fine, for ever. Clearly this was a lie. But Clinton was president, the Berlin Wall was down, our economies were booming, and the internet was a shiny new thing that was going to liberate us all. The gatekeepers gazed upon their kingdom and declared that it was good.
Meanwhile, so many of us were locked out, staring at all that gold from the outside in.
So when we started earning rent from this racket, we felt a lot of internal pressure to stay true to our adolescent dissatisfactions (not adolescent like immature or naive, adolescent like terminally disenfranchised and pure). And so we made decisions that irritated a lot of people. We were barely articulate. We didn’t deal with outsiders well. We were used to speaking with our own kind. We’d all of us spent our formative years outcast and a little lost. We had no religion to shout at the rafters but all of us, all together, all the time. And we shouted that religion at a time when that kind of earnest noise was tagged as earnest, naive and square. And we were earnest and naive and square. And still are.
A thing a lot of people got wrong about us – when we did it the first time, a whole lot of what we were about was joy. We tried to make heavy music, joyously. Times were heavy but the party line was everything was OK. There were a lot of bands that reacted to that by making moaning “heavy” music that rang false. We hated that music, we hated that privileging of individual angst, we wanted to make music like Ornette’s Friends and Neighbours, a joyous, difficult noise that acknowledged the current predicament but dismissed it at the same time. A music about all of us together or not at all. We hated that we got characterised as a bummer thing. But we knew that was other people’s baggage. For us every tune started with the blues but pointed to heaven near the end, because how could you find heaven without acknowledging the current blues, right?
But now we all live in harder times, now a whole lot of bands react to the current heaviness by privileging the party times, like some weird Scientology will-to-power bullshit, hit that hi-hat with a square’s fist until we all make it to heaven, until Sunday morning’s bringdown. Self-conscious good vibes like love-handles poking through some 22-year-old’s American Apparel T-shirt at some joint where you can only dance once you pay a $10 cover charge just to listen to some internet king’s iPod.
And so now we thrum our joyous tension in opposition to all of that. Things are not OK. Music should be about things are not OK, or else shouldn’t exist at all. The best songs ever are the songs that ride that line. We just try to get close to that perfection. We drive all night just to get closer to that perfect joyous noise, just to kiss the hem of that garment. We love music, we love people, we love the noise we make.
Every answer is like that. Jesus.