Gnod harness the pulsating psychedelic force of early 70’s krautrock and use it to power their own inter stellar audio freak-outs. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Haslam enlightened M3 on the subjects of their upcoming tour, the similarities between the internet and collective consciousness, and the unlikely future of music distribution…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Chris: Chris Haslam, bass, guitar & synth player in the band Gnod.
What inspired you to form Gnod? What are your own musical backgrounds?
Gnod came about when a few bands folded and we as a group of friends decided to create a band where the focus was on jamming rather than writing songs. A few of us were just getting into stuff like Can, Neu, Sunburned Hand Of The Man and other American psych and old German krautrock that we were listening to around 2005/6. I started off playing bass in a band called The Sonar Yen in 1999 and went on to form Stranger Son of WB around 2004/5. I got kicked out of Stranger Son (so did Paddy, who was also in a band called Sundowner at the time) a year or so later. A few of us started jamming together and took the name Gnod which was originally a three piece doom side project. Then Sundowner split and the remaining members and myself started playing gigs and making recordings as Gnod. This was towards the end of 2006.
Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
We are a very small band so we don’t know if there ever was any money in record sales. We didn’t start the band to make money, just to sustain itself. Making money off it would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t have any influence over what we do. To us we are just concentrating on making music, playing live and recording stuff to release. Most live shows that we do, we only break even with the fee we get so we don’t make any money there either. Being in a band like Gnod is more of a lifestyle choice than a career choice.
Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
I think capitalism has killed the record store. The way it is now with Amazon, Ebay, Discogs, etc, you can find almost any record in the world and get it for a good price if you shop around & be patient. It used to be that your local record store was the only place you could get music, now you can buy records with your phone over the internet. The playing field has changed a lot. Usually if I want to hear something, I will go on YouTube or find the band’s music elsewhere on the internet. If I like it (and if I have money to spend) I will buy it on vinyl or CD. I think it is a tragic loss to see record stores disappearing. Some have now started selling coffee and have seating areas. I think this is a good way to go as a good record store has always been more of a social place rather than just crates of records.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Ideally I would like everything on vinyl but it’s an expensive habit. I like MP3s because they are so convenient. No one can deny that an iPod is a useful way of carrying your music and that Mp3s are useful to share music. As for sound quality, I love the sound of vinyl and tape the most. With a high quality MP3, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the formats but some MP3s can sound terrible. Who the fuck came up with the idea of a 128 bit rate? Definitely not a music lover I’m guessing…
Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
No, I think that if you like listening to whole albums or long pieces of music then you will do that. I bet people were saying these kind of things when mixtapes & Walkmans first came out.
Similarly, do you feel that the abundance of recorded music that is easily available on the internet has led people to place more importance on the live experience as the ‘authentic’ way to hear music?
I hope so, that would be a good thing, although it’s different for everyone. To some music fans, going to live shows is the best way to experience music. For others it’s a dark room with a set of headphones. Most new music that I find I have usually found on the internet. I find it hard to imagine what I would be listening to, and also what position Gnod would be in if the internet didn’t exist. Our first tours were set up using MySpace to communicate with promoters and fans to help us get shows in Europe. I don’t think we would have been able to do it if we just had a list of telephone numbers or were sending out press packs blindly, trying to drum up interest for promoters and venues to book us. I think the internet has played a huge part in helping the more obscure forms of music find their audiences.
What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
The internet should remain free, open and uncensored at all costs. If people want to pay for a ‘safe’ internet because they have children for example then that should be an option. A free, open and uncensored internet will always be misused but the importance of keeping it that way far outweighs any grievances it causes people by it’s misuse. To start censoring it any way is opening the doors to cut off the best open form of communication humanity has even known, as far as we know (unless you believe in a collective consciousness?). I am willing to risk losing a few album sales but I’m not willing to risk losing any more basic freedoms. Sorry, wrong meeting…
What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
Like a watch that you hum tunes into and it downloads a hundred different suggestions directly into your eardrums at one end of the scale and a really nice hangout full of people the general public think are weird, all chatting about their vinyl finds whilst smoking free weed that the shops give them because they are so nice at the other end of the scale.
Finally, what does the future hold for Gnod?
Our 5th tour around Europe starting in April which includes a much sought after slot at this year’s Roadburn Festival. A split with Shit & Shine, a 7″ single on Trensmat, plus a few reissues of some of our past releases & generally more of the same until world domination. Thanks for the interview.
8th April – Looking for show (UK / North France)
9th April – Looking for show (North France)
10th April – Eurofoot Cafe, Metz
11th April – Carlo Levi, Liege
12th April – DNA, Brussels
13th April – Roadburn Festival, Tilburg
14th April – Hühnermanhattan, Halle
15th April – Armaberokay, Kassell
16th April – Stubnitz, Bremen
17th April – Cafe Glocksee, Hannover
18th April – Krabbesholm, Skive
19th April – TBC, Odense / Nyborg
20th April – Salon Pissoir, Copenhagen
21st April – Schokoladen, Berlin
22nd April – hinZundkunZ, Leipzig
23rd April – Azyl, Liberec
24th April – Klub007, Prague
25th April – TBC, Hamburg
26th April – Looking for show (Central / South Germany)
27th April – MUZ-Club, Nurnberg
28th April – TBC, Cologne
29th April – Looking for show (Belgium / France / Holland) 30th April – Power Lunches, Dalston, London
If you can help the band out with booking any shows, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org