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Lachlan Kanoniuk's picture
Lachlan Kanoniuk Joined: 9th December 2010
Last seen: 12th December 2013
Werribee Park & Mansion
Gate 2 / K Rd
Werribee

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Fuck Buttons

Broadcast to hundreds of millions around the globe, the opening ceremony to the 2012 Summer Olympics encompassed centuries of British culture. Designed by contemporary UK auteur Danny Boyle, the extravaganza told the narrative of Britain’s industrial revolution, all the while showcasing some of the nation’s most iconic figures – Bond, Bean, Bill Shakespeare, Beatles, just to name a few. Music, of course, played a massive part in proceedings. Directed by frequent Boyle collaborators Underworld, the soundtrack featured a diverse range of selections from the British canon. In amongst the more obvious choices of Tubular Bells, Bowie, U2, The Who and The Rolling Stones were selections from electronica experimentalists Fuck Buttons.

Surf Solar, the opening track from the duo’s immaculate second LP soundtracked the crowd’s entrance to the stadium, while a commissioned remix of the aptly titled Olympians heralded the parade of nations. It’s a curious distinction for Fuck Buttons to be championed as bastions of British culture, but a deserved one at that. Their studio output has been critically worshipped since the release of debut record Street Horrrsing, continuing with the 2009 follow-up Tarot Sport. Save for Benjamin John Power’s  solo project Blanck Mass (who also provided music for the Opening Ceremony, including a reworking by the London Symphony Orchestra), there has been little in the way of new material from the Fuck Buttons camp. Not only that, but live appearances have been kept to a bare minimum – they waivered their 2011 moratorium on live sets only once, for a benefit for Japanese tsunami victims. Anticipation for the band’s upcoming record, and their return to Australia for Harvest, is at fever pitch, to say the least.

 

“We’re working on the next record as we speak, actually,” reveals Ben, as he and bandmate Andy Hung speak from their studio, staying hush about their Olympic involvement the week before the ceremony. “We just got back from Russia where we played a festival show, and that was the first show we played together in 17 months – the last one was in Japan a year and a half ago. Since then we’ve been writing and we’ve just started to record. If you haven’t heard from us for a while, that’s why.”

 

Despite there being a long time between drinks in the live setting, Fuck Buttons’ timeless qualities extend to their ability to delve back onto the stage. “We played a new track, the show was really good. We’ve never been to Russia before, it’s quite an amazing place. It was very alien to us, we had a great time. We had a couple of weeks practice beforehand, but before that we had just been working on new material. It went really well, we went straight back into it like we’d never stopped playing live, really. So that’s definitely a good feeling, and we’re looking forward to doing more of it in the next few months – and we’re definitely looking forward to coming back to Australia,” Ben declares. “Last time we were there was for the two ATPs curated by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Mount Buller and Cockatoo Island. Then we had some sideshows with Afrirampo and Dead Meadow supporting. It was just a really fun tour, we really love the pace of Australia. We love everything about it and we’re really looking forward to coming back. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

 

Though there has been a perceived dormancy, the duo assure us that the band’s hiatus has never really extended beyond the period of one week – the rest of the time has been spent crafting new material. “The only time we ever take a break is if we’re tired due to extensive touring, and that will only last a week,” Andy states. “There’s been no break. We’ve not been very active in the public eye, been we’ve been active away from that.”

 

Since the last release from Fuck Buttons, the musical landscape has seen the rise of the titan that is EDM – for better or worse. But don’t expect the genre’s newfound dominance to shape the upcoming output from Fuck Buttons. “I definitely wouldn’t say it’s influenced the new material at all. It never has, really. Just because it’s become more fashionable doesn’t mean me and Andy were listening to electronic music before. Andy and I, when we were practicing for the live show in Russia, we were having a chat and discussing that we don’t really see ourselves as an electronic act in the live sense,” Ben recalls. “It certainly has more of a live band feel to it. Which is nice, we certainly wouldn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into anything. It gives us more scope to experiment more, we’ve never been interested in that kind of thing.”

 

As for the development of new technology and software in the past few years, Ben and Andy are capable of adapting their studio ethos to current means. “We’ve never had attachments to instruments, because it’s just not important to us. What is important to us is finding what interests us. So staying static isn’t really conducive to that process. It’s really about what we enjoy listening to, at the end of the day,” Andy muses.

 

“Going back to Andy’s point, we don’t get attached to any instrumentation just because we like to explore every avenue,” Ben adds. “That obviously manifests itself in a very different sound from record to record. Having said that, the next record is going to sound very different to Tarot Sport, just as Tarot Sport sounded different than Street Horrrsing. We don’t like to stick around in the same place. The worst thing ever would be just to play songs for people and not necessarily for yourself. We enjoy every aspect of what we do at the moment, and we’d like to preserve that and keep ourselves interested and entertained. And I think momentum and movement is very important when considering that.”

 

Both Fuck Buttons records have enjoyed near-unanimous critical acclaim. That’s not to say the band are feeling the pressure to live up to their track record in that sense. “I definitely wouldn’t say scared or concerned because we’re never going to put out a record that we don’t think is great, basically,” ponders Ben. “If other people take to it, then that’s a bonus. As long as that we’ve made something that we’re happy with and that we can listen to, then we’ve done our job as best we can.”

 

As for when we can expect new material? “We don’t have a confirmed release date or a schedule or anything like that, we’re still working away on it,” Andy states.

 

With new material currently in its gestation period, we can tentatively expect some to be showcased when Fuck Buttons hit the stage at Harvest. “We’re not sure [if new material will be played], but you can expect a good time. Festivals are a funny one and you make the best of the situation that you’re in, it’s quite nice to be adaptable in that sense – which is something that I think we’ve been pretty good at. When we first started out we’d be playing on bills that had bands that had such an odd and interesting contrast. And I kind of like that about us. It keeps us on our toes,” Ben reasons. “I don’t think we have a personal preference, but saying that, I do quite like playing at night.”

 

BY LACHLAN KANONIUK

FUCK BUTTONS perform alongside Beck, Sigur Rós, Santigold, Liars, and plenty more at Harvest, held at Werribee Park on Sunday November 11.