The American band "LOW" surprised us very much with their "Songs for a death pilot" LP. Appeared on the young, self-willed "Kranky" label.
After some research was it proofed that this was not a debut, but this is their fourth full length. The previous albums where released on the "Vernon Yard" label. These releases are very hard to find here in Europe, so that's why this album was like a debut to me :). But what for a kind of debut, really an impressive LP.
Low made with a traditional strength, Alan Sparhawk (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Zak Sally (bass) and Mimi Parker (Percussion, Vocals) completed with violins and cello very minimal, slow long spinet out tracks (listen to "Born by the wires" and you will get the picture). What result in a feeling of melangolie, sadness.... "Low" proofed that you don't have to make much noise to make a very tensioned album.
We had a fast conversation with a cheery Alan Sparhawk:
I have first hear about Low with the "Songs for a dead pilot" LP on the Kranky label? How you get on this label? Come your other works back out on the Vernon yard label? (Here in Europe I see only "songs for a dead pilot").
From 1994 to 1997 we were on the "Vernon Yard" label. It is very hard to find those records in Europe. Our new CD will be on Kranky/Tugboat in Europe. It will come out in March.
For your first LP's you worked with Kramer, how you get involved with him? How was it working with him? And on your recent LP (I don't now which is newer "songs for a dead pilot" or "the curtain hits the cast") you work with Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Boss Hogh) what has he contribute to the Low sound?
In 1993 we sent a tape to Kramer, he like it and asked us to come to his studio to record. He sent the tape to someone in Vernon Yard, so that is how we started our first record. Steve Fisk recorded "Curtain hits the cast". He was good in capturing the sound we have when we playing live. I wish we would have more time in the studio to work with him. We recorded "Songs for a dead pilot" in our house. Steve Alabine will produce our new record.
Low's music sounds very original, (more with lesser) What are your main inspiration sources? (When I listen to the album I must think on those '80 new wave bands)
We wanted to try to make songs using as little as possible. When a song is slow and minimal, the listener can hear more, also it brings emotions that are unique to melancholy music. We are fans of 80's bands like Joy Division, Wire, O.M.D. but we also like Beatles, Roy Orbinson, Phil Spector, Punk music, and many other types of music.
Your music is not radio-friendly, people must find their way to your music. What is for you your goal as artist? How see you the Future for Low?
My favorite artists are not radiofriendly. Any art must challenge and even repel the viewer if it is going to have impact. I hope our music bring out parts of the listener that they did not know they had. Maybe we will just help people sleep. We don't look too far into the future.
For the moment is there a real explosion of those drones, lo-fi, hometapers. Feel you yourself familiar to this scene?
Home taping is new to us. We did most of our records in studios. I like drone/ lo-fi music but we are not part of a scene. We just want to make good songs, sometimes a song needs a drone, and sometimes it sounds best lo-fi, sometimes not.
In some reviews they drop the term "slowcore", what do think of this label?
"Slowcore" started as a joke term, but someone took it seriously. It is too bad people want a term instead of listen to the music.
How comes a Low song together? How important are Lyrics for you?
One of us will have an idea chord, melody or lyrics. We will work it out together. Sometimes one person will write the whole song, sometimes not. Lyrics are very important. We spend a lot of time working on lyrics.
Are you involved in other bands/projects than Low?
Zak and I are in two side bands together, "Hospital People" (new wave, OMD styled) and "Tooth Fairies" (stooges/ MC5 style). There is a "Hospital People" 7" on "Ducksuit" records. Zak is also in "Enemy Mine" with Mike from "Godheadsilo". Mimi has a punk band called "Rubbersnake".
Can you give me a chronological discogravy with labels where it's on released?
LP/CD'S I could live in hope Vernon Yard Long division Vernon Yard Transmission EP Vernon Yard Curtain hits the cast Vernon Yard Songs for a dead pilot Kranky 7" Venus SubPop Christmas Wirlitzer Jukebox Over the ocean Caroline UK Joan of arc Tugboat Sleep on the bottom (split) Rocket Girl And on 5 or 6 compilations.
You can contact Low at;
LOW, POBox 600, Duluth, MN 55801, USA
Or Kranky at;
Kranky, POBox 578743, Chicago, Il 60657
The Vernon Yard LOW page
Low @ Vernon Yard
The Low band page on Southern
Low @ Southern
interview by Natham An
Low info @ the kranky place