Q&A with Gregor Mackintosh
Sheila Rene': Hail! From Austin. Where are you calling from?
Gregor Mackintosh: You're going to have to speak up. I can barely hear you. I'm in the back seat with a mobile phone somewhere in New York state.
SR: Did you guys quit your touring early on the "Draconian Times" album"
GM: The tour of Europe? We were on Relativity then. We were amazed that they just got rid of the rock department. It really left us high and dry.
SR: There's something available today to put you in touch with your fans everywhere...the Internet. You can take over full control of your music, art, T shirts and sales of all those things.
GM: That'll be the day. I'm excited about it.
SR: You guys spent eight months writing.
GM: Yes, that right. It took four months to record and that's a long time for us.
SR: What was a writing session like?
GM: It was a separate thing at first. I wrote most of the material on keyboards this time. I got a tape together of three songs at a time and then pass it on to Nick for some lyrics. Then through a series of compromises, we would eventually finish a song.
SR: Any lyrics that you just won't pass on?
GM: That's what the compromising is all about. Nick can do the same with song titles. It goes both ways.
SR: This album has a lot more depth and texture from other albums. You went with a new producer, Sank and that always helps.
GM: That's what we were trying to do. You know his work? We heard of him when he did some Killing Joke remixes. He did a great job and we liked the way he mixed the basic rock production and programming. You can over do this stuff so that it sounds too techno.
SR: You have some very subtle uses of programming and techno on this album. I can't handle that "techno crappo." A good example is your first single, "Just Say Words."
GM: You mean the beat at the start? It's not really intentional because a lot of us aren't into that kind of thing. We pay more attention to the beat on the tune and keep the dark, melancholy aspect to it.
SR: There is a new category out there for the industrial/hard rock bands, "Modern Metal. " A lot of bands are just now catching up to PL.
GM: (laughing) We've always just done what we wanted to. Obviously, we have to be aware of what's going on. We don't want to just hide away in a room and forget what's happening out there. Having said that, we won't be a part of something just to sell records. A few of the press over here say we sold out on this record, but nothing could be further to the truth. It would have been really easy to do another "Draconion Times." We are taking a big risk with this new one.
SR: You've also grown as musicians and as people. It has to be what you're comfortable with. To hell with everything else.
GM: It has to be done on our terms. You're right about us growing up on this record. The fact is that the aggression is gone to be replaced with melancholy and subtley. The teenage angst has been replaced with another dark theme.
SR: What was the first song written for this album? Did it get you started in a way you didn't plan on?
GM: Nick, can you remember what song we wrote for this album? It was "One Second." That song just fell together in the space of a day musically and came very quickly.
SR: Were there songs that gave you trouble?
GM: "Disappear" went through quite a lot of changes before we got it right. "This Cold Life" was completed and when we mixed it, it just suddenly didn't work. Do we scrap it or rewrite it? We took it away to another studio and completely re-wrote it.
SR: How long have you been playing?
GM: Ummm, not as a kid. It was probably around the age of 16 or 17. I never really had the intention of going out to be a guitarist. I just loved music.
SR: What did you start playing?
GM: It was an awful, terrible guitar. I play left-handed and it's hard to get a lot of those. It was a Westbury and it weighed about three stones. You could hardly lift it.
SR: Did you play more than one guitar on this album?
GM: Yeah, I did. I try out which guitar to use or you can have a certain idea. I used two different ones: a Gibson Les Paul and a Gibson ES335. For some of the rhythms Aaron used a Fender Telecaster.
SR: There is some great playing on this album and it doesn't come off as a solo.
GM: Right, there's no soloing to speak of. It's all about creating the right sound even if you play one note and it sounds great. (I'm getting out of the car now and heading into the hotel.)
SR: Is there anything out there in the way of a new guitar?
GM: I just bought my favorite guitar, the ES335. They don't have a left-handed one. I had to have them convert one for me in the Berlin factory.
SR: Where did you record?
GM: We went to four different studios. It wasn't our intention in the beginning. We started at Battery Studios for a couple of weeks and then to Wales to Rockfield where Sepultura recorded. It was okay, and we were supposed to be there for six weeks. After four weeks, we had had enough. It had a bit of a weird atmosphere so we went back to Battery for another two weeks. We went to two Stockholm to a couple of studios. We just went with the flow.
SR: So it wasn't the easiest record to record.
GM: It was very hard work. (Dial tone)
SR: Hello, hello, hello. You now have the distinction of being the first album released directly in the U.S. from Music For Nations.
GM: I'm back. That's good. Now we can actually come over and let everyone know that we do care. It'll be a great place to start.
SR: What are your touring plans?
GM: What we've been told is that January will be the best time to tour. No competing with the holidays ending by then.
SR: Hello, hello. Damn, got dropped again.
GM: You're back. We had to do a radio station interview and we're leaving for the car in a minute.
SR: Where are you heading?
GM: Back into New York to do more interviews.
SR: Any plans for going out for some night life in New York?
GM: I hope so. We'll have to see what's planned.
SR: I'm really hoping for lots of success for you guys with "One Second." If the European charts are an example, you'll be charting high over here too.
GM: We're optimistic and confident that all will go well. We'll be heading back to Europe on the 25th of August and it's released over here the next day.
SR: Are you getting lots of good feedback?
GM: Yes, we are.
SR: Every album you've made so far has made me a bigger fan.
GM: We'd like to think so and that everyone else will take a good listen.
SR: Do you put some time between you and the album, before listening it the finished product?
GM: We waited a couple of weeks. We were very happy with the results. We went over our deadline because we wanted to get everything just right.
SR: I'm so happy you called back. I hope you have lots of fun in New York.
GM: We're leaving again. It was nice speaking to you. I'll see you in Austin.