Like their songs, this Godspeed interview is long and rambling, but never less than fascinating. For example:
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.
So we’re at a particular junction in history now where it’s clear that something has to give — problem is that things could tip any which way. We’re excited and terrified, we sit down and try to make a joyous noise. But fuck us, we make instrumental music, means that we have to work hard at creating a context that fucks with the document and points in the general direction of resistance and freedom. Otherwise it’s just pretty noise saddled to whatever horse comes along. A lot of the time all’s we know is that we won’t play the stupid game. Someone tells us we’re special, we say: “Fuck no, we aren’t special.” Someone asks us what the thing we made means, we say figure it out for yourself, the clues are all there. We think that stubbornness is a virtue. We know that this can be frustrating. It’s fine. We don’t think in terms of narrative so much. We try to play arrangements that are little out of our reach. We try to make sure the songs ring true or not at all.
Oh Godspeed, how I’ve missed you so.
Read more about Godspeed You Black Emperor.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.