Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
“Who the f-ck is anything?”: Best Fit speaks to Archive

“Who the f-ck is anything?”: Best Fit speaks to Archive

01 August 2012, 11:50
Words by Emily Tan

Known for pushing the boundaries in progressive and trip hop, Archive are doing it again with their latest album, With Us Until You’re Dead. But unlike the observational approach they had with 2009’s Controlling Crowds – IV, the London band decided to dig deep within themselves and make things a bit more personal.

“When it comes down to it, I think it’s the one thing we can all sort of connect with and understand,” Archive co-founder Danny Griffiths explains. “I think it just felt like the right time, and it felt like the right time for everyone involved. And it was a good time for everyone to express what was going on in their personal lives over the past three years. You know, you’ve got to get it out there now and again. It just felt right. There are so many subjects out there, and we’re not a political band or anything apart from the observational stuff. But we have our own things and our own personal lives. It’s actually nice to vent that out sometimes. And we did it in our own peculiar way where it was heavy and dark.”

Despite its dark layers, With Us Until You’re Dead is Archive’s take on love songs, which Griffiths says was something this group had not touched since 2002’s You Look All the Same to Me – a record that is very personal to both him and other band leader Darius Keeler. Surprised by the idea that the musical collective (a title Griffiths prefers over “band”) who have been known for their progressive and trip hop style actually like to sing about their softer sides? Griffiths, who cites Isaac Hayes’ rendition of ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ as one of his favourite ballads, squashes the myth saying, “People would be really surprised by what we sit and listen to. There is a very diverse selection of music that’s played in our houses.”

But don’t expect the band to start slowing things down or to traditionally pull at your heartstrings with this record. ‘Twisting’ is a great example of how Archive show off their love of different styles of music while still staying true to the musical foundations that they laid in the 90s. “Vocally very bluesy,” he states. “I think it’s Pollard’s American roots kind of background that he has. Musically, we do everything on this album. We put everything in there because there aren’t many styles of music that I’m not into apart from the death metal stuff.”

Perhaps one of the more interesting songs on the new album is the first single, ‘Violently,’ which Griffiths wrote with Archive’s newest member, Holly Martin. Exploring the emotions someone feels when experiencing a destructive relationship, the song is one that is close to Martin. “So the idea was of a more mentally abusive kind of relationship that Holly has experienced in her time,” Griffiths says. “So we just started chatting. And we talked about this line I had written down drunkenly one night, which is ‘Who the f-ck is anything?’ And she loved that so we just expanded. Then we started to talk about sort of fucked up relationships like people being mentally abusive, and you want to respond in a really violent way.”

Although the lyrics are already heavy, it’s the video that has the great impact. Directed by Brian Cannon, the acclaimed graphic designer who created album covers for Oasis, Ash and The Verve, the music video for ‘Violently’ shows mania through the eyes of a little girl who just so happens to be Keeler’s goddaughter. “I’m not really quite sure where we were going with that,” he describes. “We sat around with Brian, who did the video, and we started talking. And I think it was Brian who said, ‘I would be interested to get a child or something in it.’ And we said that was fucking dark, you know what I mean? But then we thought, ‘Why not try it?’ I think it captures something. You can see the girl is in a dark space, and I suppose that’s what it boils down to – someone’s head being in a dark space, not in a sexual or violent way but kind of this mental hate.”

The video for ‘Violently’ steps close enough to the line that it’ll make you experience a guttural reaction without completely offending you – at least Griffiths thinks so. “We had very different reactions from different people, and some were just like ‘what the fuck is this?’ he explains. “Others are like ‘this is great.’ There was a lot of work that went into that . There were some dark bits where she was in a cage, and there was a noose hanging down at one point where we had to tell Brian it was a little bit too much. So it could have been a lot darker.”

Besides getting help from Cannon and Keeler’s goddaughter, Archive also reunited with producer Jerome Devoise. Since Griffiths and Keeler both started their musical careers as producers, inviting new blood into the studio initially seemed like a bad idea. But after meeting Devoise in 2003 during the recording of the soundtrack for Michel Valliant, the two couldn’t see themselves working on new material without him. “That’s where we met Jerome,” he reveals. “He does a lot of soundtracks. We had a month at this place in Normandy, just working with Jerome, and recording orchestras. We never worked with orchestras before. He straightaway clicked with us and let us keep the raw sound we wanted and make it everything else we needed. And since then he’s been working with us and still gives his input – saying what he things about stuff. If there’s something he doesn’t like, he tells us. So he’s been like a part of the band in some ways, which is amazing because he works so fast. It just takes a lot of pressure off Darius and me when it comes to the production, especially mixing because it’s a tedious process. It’s a great relationship. I can’t imagine working with anyone else.”

With about 18 years together as Archive, one wonders how this collective still has the energy to keep doing it or that both Griffiths and Keeler have been able to remain friendly. “Well we started in ’94 so about 18 years, and me and Darius have been working together for four or five years before that, before we started Archive. We really put it down to the fact that it’s really an experiment,” he explains. “I don’t know. Everyone is really amazed that Darius and I are really still good friends and musical partners because it has been 20 years since we started working together. We play off of each other with ideas and inspiration, and that’s a big part. But I think it’s because we both really want to try and change things on each album. When we’re finished with one album, we look and figure out how we feel about something new and how to keep it kind of really fresh. We’re not a band. That’s the whole thing about a collective that keeps it exciting because of different energy and different ideas from everyone we work with.”

Griffiths continues, “And I think that’s what keeps it fresh and exciting for us. It’s kind of new like this period now for us. It feels like a whole new start again because we just got new management and a new record label. And it feels like a new start, which I think keeps happening to us. We’ve sort of been dropped and picked up again by different labels and management and stuff. And I think each time we just carry on, and in some ways that just inspires us to keep going and keep at it because a lot of bands don’t last as long as we do.”

With Archive waiting for the new album’s release at the end of August, they are currently enjoying summer with holidays and relaxation in their relative homes (as the members are based in multiple cities including Paris and Brighton). However that doesn’t mean they’re just lounging. Griffiths reveals that Archive are almost done with their next album, which will be completed by December, and will be hitting the road in the autumn. “It’s just the way we work,” he says. “We’re still writing. But live-wise, we wanted to give the fans a break. Before you’re know it we’re going to be touring again because we booked a two month tour at the end of the year.”

With Us Until You’re Dead will be released on 27 August via Dangervisit Records/Cooperative Music.

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