We've been keeping track of LA-based HEALTH since their LA-sleek LP cover landed in our laps this summer. It's the California-kraut response to Brooklyn's Aa prankish drum circle, or the tribal din to The Klaxons' pop-perfect studio chemistry, or a bunch of maddening musicians who write their songs using flow charts. You be the judge, or else we will… and no one wants that.
Someone was listening to your stuff over my shoulder and described your sound as 'robots fucking', would you concur?
JOHN: That's pretty cool. I wouldn't have thought that at all, but I suppose its gotta be Robotech style mecha robots fucking. Unless he's picturing this passionate humanoid robot super advanced mind sex….that's a crazy-ass description.
What do you sound like to you?
JOHN: I'm not sure. We've come to terms that our perception of what we sound like/sound to people et cetera is completely out of touch with reality, when we describe our music, how we think the music sounds, we get shaking heads from whomever we talk to. I prefer other people's metaphoric descriptions a lot better.
Do you think there's a surge of interest in bands like yours because of the mainstream success of the likes of The Klaxons?
JOHN: Yes I do, if not in the US then definitely in the U.K. I would have laughed at that statement before, but there seems to be definite perceptual shift now, whether not its solely because of Klaxons I don't know. I read a post on 20jazzfunkgreats recently that put it rather well; they attributed a long list of mostly American underground bands along with UK groups like Klaxons and Test Icicles with “changing” everything, citing interest in Marnie Stern and HEALTH as proof. I got all choked up because the XXJFG blog to me is THE music “publication” (don't know what other word to use) of right now, above any other website or print magazine. It's the reflection and taste-wise the embodiment of the music world that I want to live in.
Why is your band called Health?
JOHN FAMIGLIETTI: When we first started we wanted to be “serious” about it and booked a tour once we all started playing together. Which forced the issue of needing merchandise, which forced us to come up with a band name before we pressed the 7″. After a ton of arguing, we agreed we wanted an everyday word as a name. We drew up a long list and went through to see which ones were taken. HEALTH was the only one left.
Whose idea was it to record at The Smell?
JOHN: After debating why studio X sucked and that we needed a bigger room because the drums need to be more like the LIVE//SMELL cassette… The lightbulb collectively went on to just record at The Smell. Which was also free.
Did you know it would work for you or were you thinking that it would be a nightmare and didn't give a damn?
JOHN: We had been warned how hard it is to record in the Smell, bands had tried before and given up. The room completely changes the tone of anything you want to record; makes a lot of things dark and beautiful. It also makes everything sound like “CLANG!” We didn't realize how hard it would be at all, we especially weren't prepared for the Vaquero bar dropping the reggaeton jamz at 1pm everyday.
Does the band's creative process vary, or is there a routine?
JOHN: The process varies, but the most common method is by diagram. Songs start different ways but usually at some point one of us will bring in a little flow chart with a lot of explanation bubbles, and we walk through it piece by piece. It's extremely inefficient.
Are you happy with just floating around doing your own thing, or is there an agenda?
JOHN: There is an agenda. Nothing that well thought out or planned, but the goal has always been to make relevant rock music, or whatever kinda music, but relevant music that sounds new. We let the “goal” rule over our natural desires, that's why we don't throw out blues rock riffs all day. We know rock riffs are more effective, and we love them more than anything, it's just that they don't have that sort of aesthetic power anymore, especially if it's a new band recycling it. It's just not relevant in the same way anymore. Even if you simulate it perfectly, it might be a great listen to but you don't get amped, theres no shock or excitement, and it IS simulation, those conditions don't exist anymore at all, music is perceived completely differently now, especially by the kids.
I mean, all previous forms of intense music are so old the reaction is built in, no matter how intense the metal or whatever you're blasting, you're mom would throw some devil horns jokingly, if that makes sense. Kids we're playing to were born in the 90s, its totally different upbringing, the way they perceive rock music or just music is completely different than previous generations, but that's also really exciting. Music is exciting right now, 2007 is so much more exciting than 1997. We should all be happy, I'm fucking jealous of young kids now, like green with envy. In '97 I was in my bedroom fucking bummed about how there were no good new bands anymore; I thought music was just over, like that's it. Now I'm perpetually fucking stoked. Sorry I ran away with that one, but anyway our ultimate goal is to be “that band” for some kid out there. Also above all we wanna “rock”, bands seem to rock less and less, cuz of all these aesthetic challenges and shit.
Is touring kicking your ass or are you enjoying it?
JOHN: We love it.
Do songs you play live stay the same or do you mess around with their arrangements?
JOHN: We play all the songs the same every time (unless something goes shit house), theres only a few moments where we allow improvisation. “Glitter Pills” is the only song that is different live.
What's the one you play that gets the most reaction at a gig?
JOHN: In terms of cheers or the crowd getting amped its usually “Crimewave”, but the true fan favorites are “Perfect Skin” and “Lost Time”, those two get the most comments at the merch table.
Is there anywhere in this world that you want to play that you haven't above all?
What bands out there are making the music that inspires you and your own creativity?
JOHN: Crystal Castles, Ex Models, The Knife, Animal Collective, Telepathe, pretty much everyone doing remixes for us, Glass Candy.
Can you tell me, out of curiosity, what in hell is up with the name 'Love Pump'?
JOHN: Its a dick and apparently Jake Friedman's (label co-owner) nickname in college. Not sure what they were thinking but we always figured it was a Spinal Tap reference.
Can you pick one of the tracks off the album as your favorite child?
JOHN: Triceratops, not because it was my favorite child. It was the bad apple who was gonna fuck it up for the other kids, so you have to show it more love than the good kids. Raising it was a bitch.