Archive - 2013 - Photo by Brian Cannon

Photo by Brian Cannon

These changes, feel very naturally to me and because I know that it feels to be very exciting within the band, I hope it also connects to the audience.”

Being on tour is not for Sissies. Draughty backstage-areas; soundcheck and performance night after night; and usually, the food’s not that healthy either. Sure, all of this depends on how big the band is in which you play, but even a fairly successful band and live-institution like the british prog-collective ARCHIVE has to deal with some inconveniences while touring. Danny Griffiths exemplified it on this still quite freezing day in Leipzig by apologizing for his weak voice. The infamous tour-cold struck once again, but nonetheless, we sat down with the founding member and one half of ARCHIVE‘s creative core, for a little chat about the current tour, the compulsary changes in the band, benefits of commercial suicide and some exciting news about the upcoming record. Read about all that right here.


Your most recent album, “With us until you’re dead”, is out there for over half a year now. And, as time goes on, I always wondered if songs – once written – change, in terms of the emotions they evoke when you play them live?
In a way definitely, cause once we finished an album we don’t listen to it that much. We want to get it out there and then play it live, so, mainly the emotions connected with the songs change cause it’s a different atmosphere out there. Also, it’s quite easy to forget about the stuff you once wrote about, cause usually you write about what’s going on in that specific moment, but then the songs stick with you as you move on. So, yeah, it does change.


Let’s talk a bit about your latest work. A good opening track is essential to the enjoyment of a good record in my eyes. So, congratulations on “Wiped Out” which is a perfect start into the record.
(laughs) Yeah, thanks. As soon as that one was written we knew that it had to be the opener.


That’s exactly what I thought, cause it really seems to be written as an opener.
I remember we wrote the first four tracks as one piece really, where everything blended into another, but as soon as I worked out the vocals for Wiped Out one night in my kitchen and Pollard (Berrier) sang along to it, I knew that this was definitely going to be the opening to the record.


Your last record – “Controlling Crowds” – seemed to focus on the topic of “control” as a more or less political term…
Yeah, not as much political but definitely observational. I mean, it was just stating things that were obvious to anybody.


The new one, on the other hand, seems to concentrate on more intimate – almost romantic – topics. What was it, that made you step away from social/political themes to more personal ones?
I think that there was a moment at which we covered all that we wanted to achieve with Controlling Crowds. We kind of exhausted ourselves on that and we wanted to come back to something simpler. You know, like love, relationships and all that – well, the darker side of all that of course. We just wanted to do something more soulful, more colourful and not as cold as Controlling Crowds.


ARCHIVE: “We usually just say ‘Fuck it! We do what we do!'”

Is it easier to create a longplayer under a certain topic/theme?
No, not necessiraly. Sometimes it can be easier to limit all the possible things you write about, but, on the other hand, from time to time, it’s nice to write about anything you want. On With us until you’re dead there was a bit more soulsearching going on I guess, and, looking back, lots of the stuff that appeared on it, I remember I’d written over the years we spent with Controlling Crowds. Which is maybe the reason why it turned out to be more personal as well. Nevertheless, it’s important for us to always have a certain flow with the songs we pick for an album, the right dynamics, which I think we accomplished very well on this last one.


Despite the more intimate note on the album, lyrics like “Conflict is inevitable like control and fear” might also work on various, even abstract levels. Is this ambivalence important for you in the songwriting?
I think it is, really. People should be able to read into the lyrics what they want, that’s why I never really liked to discuss our lyrics that much. For instance, as we did a song like Fuck U, so many people thought it was a love song – well, maybe more of an anti-love song – I liked that, although it’s absolutely not. But people always will be in completely differing situations of their life, consequently the songs will mean something different to them. I think it’s important to keep that. As you mentioned, Conflict could be about many things as well. I’m sure Dave (Pen) has a similar approach to that openness as I have.


You seem to be lucky enough to benefit from a big pool of great musicians, since “With us until you’re dead” once again brought same changes in the line-up of your band. Is it sometimes hard for you to create a certain close bounding over the years due to the regular changes of band members?
[one_half last=”no”][/one_half]

Strangely, I find it remarkably easy. For example when Dave came in, we already knew him for years and followed his music from his very first bands. Some of the people are just helping us out in the beginning and end up to be fully involved, but still, like Dave or Pollard, are able to do their own stuff as well. But yeah, I know people often get confused because of our working process – as it is the case with Maria (Q), who just comes and goes or Holly (Martin) who suddenly appeared and just fitted in perfectly. It also depends on what we want to do, you know. With Controlling Crowds the whole scenery was more suitable to a rap-artist like Rosko (John) with whom we worked back then but this rap-thing doesn’t work that good with the love songs we lately focussed on. So, these changes, feel very naturally to me and because I know that it feels to be very exciting within the band, I hope it also connects to the audience.


I can’t think of much bands who make “change” (in terms of musical genres and band line-up) to their credo as much as you did…
Yeah, I know. Let me add that we’re really lucky to have a fanbase that goes with it. In that sense, it’s important for us to always keep that certain amount of ARCHIVE in our music. And if we do so, people seem to be open for something like the involvement of Rosko. I mean, I’m pretty sure a lot of our fans are not into hiphop at all, but they seem to accept it.


Many bands are afraid of taking this risk – any idea why that is?
I don’t know, it’s quite easy to stick with a certain successful formula, once you found it, I guess. And of course bands are afraid of wether people gonna like what they do, but for us it’s always been the other way around. We usually just say “Fuck it! We do what we do!” and in fact we do make music for just ourselves in the long run. It’s not a personal thing, but in my opinion, you can’t start worrying about what people think of your work that much.


Does this attitude of constant evolutions creates some sort of pressure as well? I mean, people tend to expect the unexpected from you..
Mainly we put pressure on ourselves. I mean, usually we already have ideas in mind for our next release although the current one is not even finished, so, it’s definitely always a challenge but it’s a nice one. It’s what keeps us excited about it. If we were free to do what we want, we’d put out two albums a year! Well, that’s exhausting as well, you need a break at some point. (laughs)


Do you think that your way of permanent evolution also prevented ARCHIVE from becoming focal to the biggest public interest? What I mean, is: although your music’s always been critically acclaimed and you got a loyal fanbase, you remain to be a well-kept secret to the masses.
… which is great I think! I mean, we’re not a commercial band at all, although we always got some songs that might work great as a single, but that’s not what we’re aiming at in the first place. Some might call us the commercial suicide but that’s okay with us. (laughs)


ARCHIVE: “I guess we just wrote so many stuff once again, so we just keep going with it”

You’ve been around since the mid 90s – do you think within the past years the public’s opinion on you and your music changed, that the people got to like your dark and heavy side even more as a reaction to the state of permanent crisis (political, economical) in which we are?
I definitely think that people identify with what we write about and there’s always shit going on in the world, isn’t it? One could get the impression that everything’s getting worse and worse, watching the news is depressing as fuck. But that’s the way it is for years now, maybe even centuries with some ups and downs. So, I’d rather say it’s always about what people connect from their personal lives to what’s going on in the world. And it’s best if we are able to capture some of these moments.


To govern or to rule seems to be the greek origin of the word “Archive”, although, nowadays it’s mostly used in a sense of accumulated knowledge. So, what would you say could ARCHIVE, the band, relate to more? Ruler or collector?
(laughs, then sighs) Uff, I think I’d have to go with the collector. Actually, it was Rosko who came up with the idea of calling the band Archive. He just said it in a sentence and thought: “good word!”, he didn’t think about it that much. But afterwards, when we started with the music, it suited it quite well. But I have to admit that we thought about it more in a sense of memory and storing information; something like that. Didn’t know about the other meaning you mentioned, but that’s interesting. Looking back, that would be quite suitable to Controlling Crowds as well.


So, after touring and celebrating this year’s festival season, will you be gettin back to work on the follow-up to “With us until you’re dead”?
Well, we already finished the follow-up! (smiles) We finished the mix recently but I’m not that sure when they’re going to put it out actually, should be September or October or something..


Great news – anything you could tell about it?
Well, it’s an amazing piece of work! (laughs) But it’s quite short by our standards. That’s all for now. Actually we’re already nearly finished with the next one as well. I guess we just wrote so many stuff once again, so we just keep going with it. Maybe that one will be out at the beginning of next year. At least, that’s what WE’re planning.


Last but not least. Our magazine is all about hope and passion. What do you associate with these terms?
Uh, there’s a lot to associate with these. Hm. Music and sex!