Influential “post-rock” band Bark Psychosis reemerged from obscurity in 2004 to deliver a stunning full-length CD (only the second proper full-length for the band!) that took our breaths away. Entitled ///Codename: Dustsucker, Bark Psychosis wowed listeners with their mastery of sound and unique musical vision. Recently we had the honour of briefly chatting with Graham Sutton, the brainchild and principal songwriter behind Bark Psychosis, about this latest album, music, and other thoughts.
What made you decide to begin to record again under the name of Bark Psychosis?
Just felt like the right time. I’d felt really spent after recording Hex and wanted to have a break from BP – its pretty grueling stuff to make – but enough time had passed for me to feel recharged and enthusiastic for making the next album. I’m not really interested in anything so nauseating as having some kind of “career” – I just make music when I want to and aim to please myself and nobody else. However, I had no idea that it would take so long! For what it’s worth I don’t envisage as long a gap until the next one.
What inspired you to write the lyrics of ///Codename: Dustsucker?
Day to day meanderings. I wanted the text to be on one level like overheard snatches of conversation – like you’re eavesdropping. Almost banal in places. One technique I found really useful is the whole “automatic morning page” thing – as soon as you open your eyes after sleep, before coffee, fag, whatever, write a side of A4. Don’t stop to think about what you’re writing. Don’t think consciously at all. Just let your hand write by itself without stopping until the page is full. Then seal it in an envelope without reading it back and store it. Do this every day for 6 months. After 6 months you’re allowed to start opening them. Clearly there’ll be a lot of dross and chaff, but within that you’ll find some pretty interesting, bizarre stuff. Sometimes stuff that was almost clairvoyant.
Describe for us the process behind the recording of ///Codename: Dustsucker?
The tricky thing about BP, and one of the reasons it takes so long for the material to come to fruition, is that there is no “process” at all, besides maybe the stubborn avoidance of one. Pieces come as little ideas, then its just a matter of allowing and facilitating those ideas to grow by themselves with as little intervention from myself as possible. I’m not interested in imposing my will on the ideas – I’m interested in them having a life of their own; for them to surprise me. I’m a fan of BP’s music as much as anyone and I’m constantly amazed by the twists it decides to take. I really think that ideas want to be a certain way, and sometimes you can go all round the houses to get there. But when they are true to themselves you can sense it. If this all sounds like I’m not taking responsibility for the music then I’d probably call that a fair cop. It works it out by itself.
What did you want to accomplish with ///Codename: Dustsucker that was different from your past Bark Psychosis releases?
I guess the breadth of sound on the album, whilst still retaining a core, singular identity, is something I’m pretty happy about, though I think I’m still too close to it at the moment to have any real perspective. Certainly right now I consider it the best work I’ve been involved in to date.
What was it like to play with Lee Harris (former Talk Talk Drummer), and would you say that Talk Talk influenced Bark Psychosis’ sound at all?
I met Lee in 1991 and developed a close friendship. He’s a phenomenally talented drummer and has a real signature sound and style that I love. Although I haven’t listened to them in quite a while, Talk Talk were a massive influence on me whilst growing up – they gave my ears a real education.
Are you generally pleased with how ///Codename: Dustsucker sounds?
Sure, I’m still completely happy with it.
What do you think of the current music world, both mainstream and underground?
Don’t really have much of an opinion about the “mainstream” but the “underground” (for want of a better term) seems pretty healthy to me – a large part due to the economics of technological progress; Anyone can now make an amazing sounding record at home and release it to a world audience via the Net. Its hilarious seeing how the big 5 are trying to come to terms with this change.
For what it’s worth I’m really in favour of filesharing; a hell of a lot of music I got into when I was a kid came from tapes that people made for me and got passed around. And these were the artists whose records I ended up buying. In a world where there is limited opportunity for your music to gain exposure, filesharing is a great promotional tool. It’s like we’re entering an era of artistic patronage, and its down to your audience’s ethics. If they feel like supporting independent labels and artists, then they will do that by buying the CD.
Much has been written about the fact that Bark Psychosis was the first band labeled as “post-rock”. How do you feel about that term, and what does it mean to you?
To be honest it really doesn’t mean anything to me at all. Does it mean you have to use cod-dub b-lines?
Do you have any advice for young artists starting out?
Don’t give people the time of day who try and weasel you by appealing to your vanity. If you do something wrong, do it again just to make sure. Be clear about your own identity. Don’t get caught up in scenes. Take your time. Surprise yourself.
What is in the future for Bark Psychosis?
The plan at the moment is to start on the next album around May. Don’t hold your breath for a completion date!
Any other comments?
All the very best,