For the past twelve years 65daysofstatic have been nipping away at our ears with a mash up of jaggy riffs, glitchy electronics, off kilter beats and general noise. For over a decade they have garnered a dedicated following, but at the same time have managed to split opinion as they’ve developed and progressed, all the while trying to find what is truly at the heart of 65dos. For guitarist Paul Wolinski, the band found what they had been building up to all that time with the release of We Were Exploding Anyway. However, he’s quick to point out the drawback to finding one's voice. Paraphrasing Philip Glass, he explains: “You spend so long as an artist trying to find your voice, but the real trouble comes once you have found it because you spend the rest of your life trying to escape it.”
“That is certainly true for us and I’m not sure if we qualify as artists, but I think we are a band that have found our voice, and now whatever we turn our attention to, it’s going to be pushed through a 65 filter whether we like it or not and will come out sounding like us. That’s quite liberating in a way but in another way it can wear you out.”
Wolinski and the band are extremely proud of new release Wild Light. For this album the band knew exactly what they wanted and achieved it by focusing on every element of writing and recording down to the finest of details. They managed to avoid falling into old habits of trying to fill every space with noise, to create a piece of music that is uncomplicated and more direct. Yet, at the same time it still holds onto the intensity and grittiness that old fans are used to.
With five albums and a soundtrack to their name, 65dos are still excited about the future and want to experiment more with live performance. Wolinski is growing unsure of the relevance of the classic function of the record in our current society. “I love the concept of an album as a set of tracks and a means of communication or a piece of art, I think that is a beautiful art form and it’s never going to get old fashioned. But I don’t think it’s necessarily the best way to describe the world at large,” he says.
For Wolinski, he doesn’t see any reason why bands need to be constrained by the old model of releasing a record and then going on tour. “No one is actually buying the records anymore any way, they are all just floating around on the internet, so I love the fact that we have become a band that can turn up in places that you wouldn’t always expect. I hope that we continue to do that.”
Wolinski took some time chat to us about the past 12 years and offers an open and honest account of each album, its production, and the impact these pieces of music have had on the progression and growth of the band.
Wild Light (2013)
It took us about two years to write this. It was strange because of the way we felt about Exploding... being the end of that side of 65. We aren’t old but we are getting older and have been doing this for a long time. It definitely felt like we had changed a lot in that decade. It took us all that time to really nail Exploding... and that was the record we wanted to make in our early 20s, but now we are different people. I think we are much better at writing music, and are stronger as a band. So it was more about finding a new approach. We spent a long time just in a rehearsal room driving ourselves crazy as usual, because we don’t know how to do it, and have never known how to do it. It’s just the four of us showing up day after day trying to work out what’s going on. The big difference with this record is that we spent so long writing and collecting all of these ideas to create upwards of 50 pieces that you could call songs to one degree or another. Although we were still a few months away from making the record for real, we gradually got rid of most of the songs and left ourselves with the eight that are now on this record.
We demo’d the songs and made it very loosely and roughly ourselves once or twice, and it was strange because none of them were finished even when we went into the studio. However, for some reason we felt that we knew that this collection of songs was the one that needed to be recorded so we didn’t leave ourselves any room for error. What we felt like we caught in those songs was a simplicity and directness that wasn’t in any of the previous records, which is really what we were going for. We wanted to write a relatively stripped down record, for 65 at least, and I think it is. It’s still not what you would call quiet or relaxing particularly, but I hope it’s more focused without losing its intensity.
Our previous instinct would be to fill any space with noise or more programming but we didn’t, we managed to hold back this time. We worked with a guy called Dave Sanderson from 2Fly but took him to a different studio in the middle of nowhere to put ourselves all outside of our comfort zone. We then forced ourselves to really work on the sound. On the first three albums the sound is quite scrappy in one way or another, which is fine because that’s the kind of band we were. Exploding... was a lot better sounding than the first three, but then the style of that production is quite tough and sharp because of those songs. For the new songs the sound is warm and fuzzy because it needed that realness about it.
We went to the studio and forced ourselves to spend as much time on the actual sounds of each element as we did on the writing process. That was a really useful thing to do and I think it is our best sounding record. It’s just so full without being busy. We knew the record we wanted to make and what songs were going to feature on it. Also the tone of those songs is quite, maybe not sad, but perhaps a bit melancholy and less triumphant than Exploding... It’s got a different sort of mood that demanded that we recorded it in that particular way.
Silent Running (2011)
After Exploding... we did loads of touring, but we didn’t have a great time with the music industry side of things. We were so proud of that record and we had moved away from Monotreme for the first time which was scary. It felt like the moment where we should really push ourselves to try and get the next step up the ladder in terms of visibility, so we moved to a bigger label. We even got Robert Smith on the record. It wasn’t done as a marketing move or anything, but we kind of hoped that it would count for something. The whole side of things which falls just outside of our control didn’t get handled particularly well. For us, the whole campaign of releasing that record became a fight to just maintain the ground that we had made up, rather than being able to push forward. I don’t think it’s good for bands to complain about this stuff because it’s not important really, but on a very logistical level it was very hard work, without really feeling like we were pushing forward.
After the touring with that came to an end we just wanted to step away for a minute so we didn’t drive ourselves crazy. So we did the Silent Running album which came at a really nice time as the touring was winding down. It was an accident basically. The Glasgow film festival asked us to do a live soundtrack for a film, and because soundtracks are something we are really eager to get involved with, we approached it as if we were writing a soundtrack for real. We didn’t just want to play some music over a film. We pulled the whole soundtrack off of the film and wrote it as if it were a proper replacement soundtrack. Even though we put a huge amount of work into it, a lot of it was for our own satisfaction. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we were capable of writing a soundtrack. It was only ever intended to be done twice at Glasgow film festival but it just got such a great response at the start of 2011 that we ended up touring it and went out into Europe. It just gained a momentum that ultimately ended up with us making it into a record because a lot of people asked for that to happen. It was a tangent; it was never part of our master plan because it took up most of that year really. Yet it was a really nice tangent to happen to us and, without ever really stopping working, it provided us with a bit of breathing space for the normal way of doing things. We put that record out ourselves and we only really told our fans about it in the first place. There was no big press team and it was just its own thing but it got a huge reaction.
The lessons we learnt from writing soundtrack music were really good for us. It was writing stuff that was meant to move people, but without distracting them from what’s going on, whereas if you are writing a proper record it’s got to grab their attention. It was useful project and we went back to 2fly to make that record.
We Were Exploding Anyway (2010)
This record seemed to be really well received, but about half the reviews seemed really surprised that we had taken this huge sidestep into dance music. I can understand that, but for us we didn’t see that coming at all because when we started out as a band we didn’t have a live drummer and it was all electronic beats and some big samples cut up. We’ve constantly had loads of electronics going on so we have always seen ourselves as a semi dance band. We confuse things with our time signatures sometimes but we have always tried to get people moving. In my teenage years it was more Orbital and Underworld and dance like that. I was probably 20 before I started listening to the likes of Deftones, so that element was always there.
By the point we started writing it we had toured for a really long time with The Destruction... and that included the big stretch of time when we were opening for The Cure, playing these huge arena shows. In ordinary circumstances we wouldn’t have toured then because we were desperate to write new material, but of course you’re not going to say no to an opportunity like that. So we went and toured, the whole time being desperate to get stuck into writing. That whole experience of playing in those places and watching a band like The Cure every night, who wrote stuff that was really great and interesting experimental music, but was also pop, was really inspiring. When we finally got to write Exploding... we knew that we wanted to change the complexity that we had put into The Destruction..., and that we were capable by that point of setting a much higher level of production.
We had our touring backline and our line of electronics set up and that is what we used to write the record, nothing else. That was a very good idea and we can play that record from start to finish which is great. When we were writing it we just wanted to make the best record that we have done so far but there was a point after about a year when we had a bit of a freak out and threw away most of the material because we were just writing the same old record. We then had a bit of a breakthrough after that with ‘Weak4’. We came up with that song out of nowhere and it was very different, it was still 65 but it was really coming at things from a different direction. That then opened the door for a lot more of that stuff and the kind of more rhythmical side of things, we were really embracing the 4/4 beats rather than 5/4 or 7/4.
We got ‘Tiger Girl’, which came really late in the album writing process, that is basically a 10 minute techno song with a big 4/4 kick running all the way through. It’s like teenage me listening to Underworld. One of the reasons we were so glitchy in the beginning was because there is an audacity to a 4/4 kick drum, it’s just so brazen and confident and it was something that whenever we tried it back in the day it just sounded a bit weak. It was easier to do glitchy stuff because you can hide behind that somehow. Whereas you can’t hide behind a kick drum, it’s got to be the business. It was so nice that we had finally pulled it off and had that to close the record, because there’s nothing else you can do after a song like that. It just seemed to wrap everything up really nicely.
I listened to Exploding... again recently and it’s a lot more confusing than I remember it being. In my head it was relatively simple for a 65 record but things like ‘Mountainhead’ change time signature after every other bar. It’s like we can’t help but make things a little bit more complicated. We all believed we finally cracked the record we were trying to make and afterwards it just felt like the end of that era, I can’t figure out a better way of putting it but it was around the point of us being a band for 10 years.
The Destruction of Small Ideas (2007)
After One Time... the touring managed to step up to us really doing long stretches out in Europe and I think we went to Japan for the first time after that record. With The Destruction... it was a really steep learning curve. We’re all still proud of the songs on that record and I know it’s the favourite record for one kind of particular type of 65 fan, who are into that type of music. But looking back on the process of making it, it was a tough lesson learnt really. We have never been rock stars, we weren’t getting carried away with success or anything like that, but we were pushing ourselves very hard to make something worthy. We have always drilled into ourselves that if you are going to be in a band then you need to be doing something useful with your time -- you need to write stuff that matters. Of course that is true, but it doesn’t mean that music has to be grandiose, it can be any type of music and that’s fantastic. In fact, you don’t want it to be too serious or pretentious because I hate music like that. All the songs were written to within an inch of their lives, there was so much going on in all of the material. We ended up going away from 2Fly for the first time, to Scotland to make the record in quite an isolated studio and we went a little bit crazy.
The one thing that made it a bit of a painful lesson was that we made two quite active choices. One about the production style of the record and the other about the fact that we would let ourselves make a studio record and we would worry about transferring that into a live set after the fact. The problem we had with that is that there are string sections, quite a bit singing track and things where we have layered up at point’s five pianos, loads of drum kits and organs. Everything that was knocking about in the studio got stuck on the record and subsequently that became incredibly hard to tour properly. Although people always accuse us of playing to backing tracks, there’s not really much of that going on. It’s all very live electronics, but rather than using the electronics that were our forte, we stuffed the record full of real instruments that we couldn’t all play on stage.
That whole period also involved some huge touring on that record for a really long time, and this got quite hard because of the position we put ourselves in. It was all a bit frustrating, I’m still really proud of the song writing itself, there’s just so much baggage from the four of us personally. And of course there are production points to make as well, we deliberately made the record, not quiet, but we didn’t compress it. We wanted to make a record that would please audiophiles so you have to turn up your amplifier to allow the dynamic to breathe. I think that is a great production technique for a certain type of music, I just don’t know in hindsight if it was the right technique for that record. It’s still really hard for us to have perspective on it. Some close friends of ours who have followed our career forever insist that it’s our best record, which is very nice of them. I don’t know whether they are just trying to be kind or what but it’s certainly out on its own in our back catalogue. It’s a bit of an oddity. That’s fine and it doesn’t invalidate the first two records, the only thing it would have done is maybe changed our trajectory somewhat in terms of building our audience or exposure. But you can never know how those things are going to turn out anyway. If you start second guessing that stuff then you are doing it for the wrong reasons, if we had not made that record then we wouldn’t have got to where we are now, and we are all extremely excited about where we are now so it’s all good.
One Time for All Time (2005)
This is quite a unique record because after The Fall of Math we were completely taken by surprise by people actually reacting to it and coming to shows and us touring. We also got out touring Europe for the first time; it was just so incredibly exciting so as soon as that reached an end we wanted to make the second record really quickly. Because we had to prove to ourselves that we could actually do it, and that we were a real band and hadn’t fluked a record. The four of us went into this ridiculously small room in Sheffield and wrote the whole thing over a period of about two or three months. It felt like a long summer, it was really intense going in there and continuously writing. Half way through we went into 2Fly studios where we recorded The Fall of Math with a guy called Alan Smyth who is a bit of a Sheffield legend. I think it was around about this time that he discovered The Arctic Monkeys. He is a really good friend of ours now and has always got a bit of wisdom to share. We went in half way through writing the record, did some demos thought we were making the record. But Alan told us to stop being stupid and to go away and write some more songs because there wasn’t really enough material there to make it worthwhile. It only came out a year after The Fall of Math so it was a super intense writing time. We were doing quite a lot at the time of writing.
It was all part of that rush of building on the momentum of being in a band and getting invited to do things. We did a John Peel session, he had passed sadly but they were honouring all the ones that he had booked so Rob Da Bank did it. Things like this were happening to us and songs came on the radio so all of that was getting fed back into this quite dense record. One Time... is very strange, I guess all of records are pretty strange but it doesn’t outstay its welcome. It just does its thing. Obviously it has ‘Radio Protector’ on it as well. That was a song that had been floating around in different forms since the early days, from the very near beginning, but we had never managed to write it. It didn’t have any piano on at first; it was just all about those chord progressions. Simon had just been playing it on piano as we were all in a shared house at the time and had an out of tune piano. We started doing this version of it and when it came to One Time... we revisited it as a piano led song. It was probably a couple of years old by the time we wrote it properly so it was a long time coming. Perhaps that is why it became one of our most memorable tracks because it took that long to come together. I think it fits in with the rest of the record and complements it nicely, yet it has a bit of different tone to all of the stuff that proceeds. But then I guess we have songs that are a bit out on their own on all of our records.
The Fall of Math (2004)
When we started we had a couple of years where we were a three-piece, without live drums. We were doing a lot more of the bootleg stuff that was happening at the time and the stand alone music that we were making was sounding a bit like Fuck Buttons but a lot nosier, with a lot of electronic beats and it was all really exciting. When Rob, the drummer, joined we then started to write songs that had drums in to start with, and that opened us up to this live element that was such much more exciting than what we were able to do as a two-piece. This really started to change everything, we were then able to become a really powerful live band and that was the path we followed.
We never intended to write a record at first, we had around five or six tracks which were going to form an EP based around ‘Fix the Sky a Little’. We met Monotreme records around this time, who encouraged us to make an album, as putting one out is a much stronger and proper step to becoming a real band. We had done things before this and had already recorded the EP (Stumble.Stop.Repeat) in around four days. We then went back into the studio to record another five songs in three or four days. It was all done very fast and that become ‘The Fall of Math’, which is quite fitting really. It was all put together in a bit of a cut up, scruffy way. That’s the kind of band we were and that’s the kind of record we made. The production isn’t the best in the world but it certainly has that kind of first album energy. We were touring before it but it was only just after that time that Simon, the current bass player, joined. Before that there were a couple of years of various band members. It was always me and Joe and a couple of different bass players, and then Rob joined on the drums. Simon joined just as we started touring The Fall of Math properly, and it has been the four of us ever since.
Pick up any of these records you're missing from the band's web store at 65daysofstatic.com.