As his band continue to race relentlessly forward with the scintillatingly ambitious replicr, 2019, Paul Wolinski talks Joe Goggins through a rare glance backwards of his formative moments in music
Now seems like an opportune time to look back at some of the songs that inspired Paul Wolinski.
65daysofstatic have just released replicr, 2019, their most ambient, atmospheric and confounding record yet, as part of a hugely ambitious rollout of new material that encompasses the album itself, a subscription service for deeper new cuts, and a podcast.
It’s only when you look back across their storied career - and the fact that they’re coming up on two decades together now - that you realise just how far they've come. After making a name for themselves with The Fall of Math’s pioneering amalgam of guitars and electronics, they headed full pelt down a road carved out entirely in their own image, one that's found room for both sweeping grandiosity (The Destruction of Small Ideas) to would-be soundtracks for dystopian action movies (We Were Exploding Anyway) as well as demonstrated a penchant for pairing emotional urgency with technical ingenuity (Wild Light).
It’s easy to forget that behind the live records, video game scores and relentless commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible at the meeting of rock and electronic palettes that it's four guys who met at university in Sheffield behind it all. Wolinski's nine pivotal songs shed light on the crucial early turning points for the four-piece.
"I had Substance on cassette when I was seven or eight years old and it was all I really listened to. New Order remain my favourite band of all time, and as a template for what a band can be they're still inspiring.
"I saw them play a few weeks ago and it was incredible, especially how much new stuff they played and how good it all sounded. With "Confusion", even when I was a kid, I remember clocking what was going on, that there was that blend of guitar and electronics. There's that one little bit in particular in this song where it breaks down into all these riffy power chords.
"When I was a teenager there were all these silly cultural wars - where you weren't allowed to like Oasis and The Prodigy, that kind of thing. There was no leakage between the camps. I think that changed when around 2001 you could suddenly start making music on consumer laptops. You didn't have to spend £4000 on a sampler - you could do it yourself. That changed everything, because suddenly you had people who were starting out on laptops, rather than graduating from synths and samplers. Guys like Kid606, and the stuff that was coming out on the Tigerbeat6 label. that's probably the road I would've gone down, but fortunately I started the band with Joe.
"When 65 were getting started, we all listened to as much guitar music as we did glitchy electronica. It just felt like we should put them together. A lot of the early press attention we had seemed to think that was noteworthy, but really, New Order had been doing it for years - it's just that it wasn't considered avant garde or experimental, because they were making pop music. It's definitely a defining jumping-off point for the sounds we were trying to make when we started out."
"I would have been fourteen or fifteen when Scream, Dracula, Scream! came out. I was queueing up in Our Price to buy the Longpigs album, The Sun Is Always Out and I spotted Scream, Dracula, Scream! I'd never heard Rocket from the Crypt at that point, but I'd read something about them in the NME, and between the band name, the album title and the artwork, I decided to gamble on it,
"So I put the Longpigs record back and got that instead. It was one of the best musical choices I ever made, because I didn't need any indie rock at that moment in time. I took Scream, Dracula, Scream! home and it took me some time to get into it. I did like a little bit of punk back then, but in a sanitised way - stuff like The Offspring or Green Day.
"With Rocket from the Crypt, there's an energy and a fierceness to how they sound. More than that, and especially as time went on, I think they became a really good demonstration of how essential the extraneous stuff can be to a band. You need the songs of course, but there's so much more to those guys; the way they hold themselves, the way they dress, the genius of Speedo as a frontman. I find all that quite aspirational. 65 could never be that kind of band - we don't have the discipline, or the larger-than-life personalities required.
"You get bands that are generic but without any of the negative connotations of that word. Rocket from the Crypt were never trying to invent a new kind of music, as we naively thought we were doing in our early twenties, but they leaned into all of their reference points so hard that they created their own sound anyway. It's entirely their own, even though it's indebted very clearly to these '50s, '60s. '80's rock and roll sounds.
"Born in '69'" s a masterpiece, and I think that run of five tracks at the start of Scream, Dracula, Scream! is on of the best openings to any album ever. The energy, the flow, even the pauses between tracks - the whole thing is so beautifully put together."
"I admire their ideology so much - their dedication to the cause of being Godspeed. Certainly, in the first few years, there was a palpable lack of compromise and the collection of albums from that period is astonishing.
"Like Rocket from the Crypt, their output refined the same idea over and over again in a very deliberate way, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You’re never going to get a three-minute pop song from Godspeed; it’s always going to be a slow behemoth and that’s fine by me.
"I chose "Moya" because my introduction to the band was being handed a cassette version of F♯ A♯ ∞ when I was in college and the next thing they released after that was the Slow Riot EP. That was the first thing they put out after I’d discovered them, so it was the first release of theirs that I was excited for, with that feeling of them being my band.
"Moya’" is the opening track and I don’t know how much more to say about it, because of all these songs, this is the one that really speaks for itself. It’s just gloriously sad and masterful in its use of dynamics, and when it really gets going, it’s kind of unhinged, too. It still fascinates me to listen to and I don’t know how they do it. There’s not many bands here that are universally admired by everybody in 65, but Godspeed are definitely one of them."
"Around the time we were starting out, Boom Boom Satellites felt like kindred spirits. They were one of the few bands who seemed to exist who were messing about with breakbeats and laptops and samplers in a way that I’d been learning to do, but rather than being a dance act, they had guitars and distortion pedals and were sort of smashing everything together.
"They never really made it outside of Japan, but they were really big there for a while. We actually met them one of the first times that 65 went to Japan, I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but I think maybe the previous time we’d been over, we’d mentioned them being a major influence on us and because it was so unusual for an International band to name-drop them, we ended up going to the Sony building in Tokyo to do a joint interview with them. The thing was, we couldn’t speak Japanese and they didn’t speak English, so the whole thing was done really, really slowly, through a translator.
"It was kind of bittersweet, because it felt like if it weren’t for the language barrier we could have had some really extended, geeky conversations about samplers. It seems especially sad now because they aren’t going any more; one of them, Michiyuki Kawashima, died about three years ago and he wasn’t old, he was probably around our age. I just know that, twenty years ago, they were doing things that nobody else was, and "Joyride" sounds as lively today as it ever did."
"I remember the first time I ever heard this, and it was absolutely magical. I’d been reading about Trail of Dead and getting excited; they had such a cool name, the album had gotten really good reviews and I was just waiting for it to appear in the shop.
"Somehow, I’d gotten the idea into my head they were going to be a band who sounded like Godspeed - all slow, masterful, soundscapey stuff. I got the CD, took it home and after that first thirty seconds of chanting and field recordings - which gives nothing away about what kind of album it's going to be - it cuts into "Mistakes and Regrets" and obviously, it’s just nothing like Godspeed. It’s just instantly on fire with punky guitar noise, this incredible energy and vibrancy.
"That whole record Madonna is absolutely stunning. It wasn't like the sound itself was new, but putting it on and expecting a compltely different band to come out of the speakers, it was a fantastic moment. Up to that point, it felt like the guitar had been and gone and that this was kind of a renaissance for it, with Trail of Dead, At the Drive-In and The Icarus Line at the forefront of it. It reminded me of the power the instrument could have; these were guys that absolutely did not play it the way a guitar teacher would tell you to. I think every generation had a band like that."
"At the Drive-In were an elemental force at the time, weren’t they? Seeing them play this on Later...with Jools Holland was a formative moment for loads of people my age. It felt as if they were our band, and then all of a sudden they were popular enough to be on that show. It felt like a sort of victory to see something like that on TV - it was so rare.
"I think they laid down a very good template for 65; even though we were just making demos in a room in Sheffield, we knew that was what we wanted, we’d been totally bitten by that desire to be a band, and those guys clearly lived that experience too. The fact they were always touring, the discipline they had - they were a good example.
"For those guys in particular though, a lot of the appeal was in the very obvious tensions within the group. You had these two frontmen and then this kind of unsung three-piece behind them, just barely holding it all together. It wasn't sustainable; it all fell apart, and The Mars Volta sort of went off into space and were completely untethered from everything that came before.
"Still, it was that wildness that Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez had that allowed them to push At the Drive-In to the limits of what made sense. I actually much prefer the sketchiness of their earlier albums these days - it seems a bit more honest - but in terms of the tension between them as personalities, and the tension between them as musicians, all of that very much comes across really strongly on Relationship of Command."
"I deliberately chose this one because it occurred to me that I don’t really have much to say about either of these bands, I don’t really know who they are. I think I probably first heard it on a Warp Records compilation, maybe one for their 10th anniversary or something like that.
"I went to university in Sheffield, and it’s where 65 are from, but we were there too late for the whole Warp thing happening - they'd already gone off to London by then. We still knew it was this huge deal, it was the label that Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher were on, it was just this mystical thing.
"When I discovered it, I’d mostly been listening to well-known electronic stuff like The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Underworld, and to find a song like that - which is slow and scruffy and kind of delicate and emotive - it taught me that I didn’t need to try to compete with the level of those big acts, that there was this weirder world of electronic music. where things didn’t have to be poppy or energetic.
"In retrospect, what I really like about it now is that I never bought a Seafeel record and I don’t know who Isan are, or is. That’s very important to me, because as I was saying with that Rocket from the Crypt track, there’s so much tied up in the concept of a band outside of the music these days. More than ever, the records come and go in a second - there’s so many new ones every week. You’re forced to keep reminding people that you exist every day on social media.
"The band as an idea is a more important thing than ever, so it’s very reassuring to me that despite all of that exhausting stuff that you have to do these days to maintain some sort of profile, sometimes a piece of music can stay with you your entire life, completely without any context relating to the people who made it. The only context I have for "When Face Was Face" was my own as a listener - where I was when I picked it up. That’s really rare these days."
"It's hard to imagine this now, but we actually took Chris Clark on the road with us. On one of the first 65 tours was had Chris supporting and a sort of sludgy doom band from Sheffield called The Mirimar Disaster. We took some friends of ours with us to do visuals too and the whole thing felt like a real victory.
"These three acts that never should have made sense on the same bill, except that they did actually make total sense. You wouldn't have seen that anywhere else but on a 65 tour at the time and we were really proud of that. Chris was on the bus with us and as the sole electronics programmer in the band at the time, it was really nice and a little bit intimidating, chatting with him, and sharing a stage with him, and seeing him do so much with so little.
"Shonny" wasn't necessarily a classic track of his, it's just a random one from one of his EPs but it's one that I listened to over and over. Of all the songs here, this is probably the one that I chose mainly for technical reasons, The quality of the production, the crispness of the beats, the finesse of the programming and the glitchy percussive choices he made were all very inspirational to me.
"I love the preciseness and the intentionality of it. In the early days of 65, we spent a lot of time seeing how far we could push affordable equipment before it would break, and very often, we were on the wrong side of that. Seeing what Chris was able to do with such a minimal setup, that's something that's still influential to us now."
"The thing about Deftones is that they’re only ever really a few shades away from being a corporate American mega-band. They’re not that far removed from Stone Sour or Nickelback and they could so easily have gone that way and been churning out riffs year after year and playing the same big headline slots, but instead, they’re this huge, absolutely mainstream band who can write pop music that remains experimental and compelling. Plus, they're right in the middle of the Venn diagram of where all four of us meet in terms of our tastes in 65.
"In the early days, we’d play White Pony constantly in the van. Most of that record is fantastic, apart from that one with the guy from Tool singing on it. We’ve always wanted our guitars to sound like Deftones and never really succeeded; we’ve always been closer to the Trail of Dead or At the Drive-In thing. It’s never stopped us trying, though. ‘
"Change" has got all of that; it's got that amazing fuzz, that quiet-loud dynamic and those two really incredible guitar tones. I love that it’s basically a pop song and we’re big fans of pop music, It’s always been a driving force for us and never something we’ve shied away from.
"We’ve never strived for obscurity. although we don’t have a singer, so everything ends up a little bit weird anyway. Deftones have always harnessed that balance between pop and something much heavier really elegantly. That’s hugely inspiring."