2016 has worked very well for ex-Curve mastermind, Dean Garcia. April marked the release of his collaboration with Steve Monti (Jesus And Mary Chain, Curve) as M A D, a little later another collaboration of his with Preston Maddox (Bloody Knives) as S T F U was brought to life and on August 12th the new SPC ECO album, Anomalies, will be out on Saint Marie Records. We've had the chance to talk to the man about all those activities, his recent tastes in music and more...
This has been a very productive year for you, with two similar yet quite different side projects of yours going on. How did M A D and S T F U came to be?
Definitely been on a roll with things recently, it goes like that sometimes, when the mood is with you you just have to go with it. Both M A D and S T F U have been on the cards for a long while, we've made a few tracks together over the years for both projects but the timing was never right to evolve into full albums. I've worked with Monti ( M A D ) for many years, he's always my go to person for all things drums, he worked on all the Curve tours as well as the shows we did with Ian Dury back in the day, putting me through my paces live with songs like Rhythm Stick by counting it in faster n faster as a 'fun' way to keep me on my toes, I learnt my lesson from that so always use a click with Mont now. We have always talked of making an album of sorts but never knew quite what it should be until we hit upon the downbeat, slow-mo sub zone that M A D slots into very nicely. There has to be a place for any project, but it has to be a natural place where it's meant to be for everyone involved in the making of it. Working with Preston on the S T F U is the definition of natural, we never discussed what it should be or how we wanted it to sound it just became what it is. I always felt that a collaboration with Preston would be like that, I've never met him or spoken to him in person over the phone, it's all been the written word and a natural connection, that and the fact that he has a voice and delivery of words that just does that thing all good voices do, they connect with you. It was just a matter of waiting for the right time (for all) to make the records.
From your end, how different was the creative process for the S T F U album than working with SPC ECO?
The main difference is that Preston writes and records over half of the music, he sends me rough ideas but there are drums keys and all sorts of ideas within the roughs, including a vocal whereas with S E I tend to record all of the music and work closely with Rose on all the records we make. My approach and attitude is always the same for whoever I work with, ie, go with the flow and always try to have fun when recording, don't be distracted by the voices that say you can't do that, add and delete at will, no restrictions, both S E and S T F U are an open book, they can go wherever they want, my input and challenge is to develop and combine all of the elements involved in a way that feels natural and fully formed while maintaining the sonic character and imperfect charms of all involved, or some shit.
What We Want sounds to me like it's been heavily influenced by early electronica. Is that right? Are there any major musical influences behind the album?
Some of the tracks come across like that, I think those are to do with Preston and his love of vintage synths, also I think he sometimes makes instinctive music or tracks that don't have a home with Bloody Knives. He knows that I connect with the electronic side of things so now he has a place for them, influences I think we both lean on genres we admire or have grown up with with, there's wasn't any discussions as to what we should sound like or any references to any of that, we both like to genre morph, take from here n there and combine things to make something new. I think any description of influence or genre become relative to whoever is listening to it, if you hear a certain flavour that reminds you of whatever then so be it, it's all good, it's as much yours as it is ours now, any description or influence you hear is fine by us.
Are S T F U and M A D going to be ongoing projects or are they more like one-time collaborations?
I don't think so, it's a sound pool we'll dip into whenever we feel like it, they're there now so I see no reason not to add to them, not sure of time frames as to when that will happen as we all have other bands and projects we focus on more, but I definitely think we'll all do more together as it's such a cool n great chemistry between everyone involved, exactly as it should be, the records tend to make themselves, as soon as doubt or stress or over thinking/trying as to what it should sound like come into play I tend to switch off as it has nothing to do with the moment anymore, it's all about the now to me, do something you like in the moment with no retraction, theme or agenda. I've done that before and it can come across as forced and compromised even if other don't hear it. The artist always hears that and it gets worse on each listen. Both M A D and S T F U are all about their moments as they happen, to go with the flow of the day and make it great, if it doesn't work fuck it try something else, don't agonize over it, delete the fucking thing and burn the fuck out of it.
Have long distance collaborations worked to the music's advantage or did they ever turn out to be problematic?
Distance is a non issue, doesn't matter where you are anymore, if you connect you connect. What is important for me is to be able to work within an environment that you feel completely at home with, not an intimidating big studio with people you don't really know for a certain period of time trying to make something but end up being intimidated by the mega desks n surroundings, which is not to say I don't enjoy the scope and charm of the big studio, it's just that it's not my natural space, I would love to have a mega studio to go mad in, but I haven't got that so I zone out in my small bedroom cosy studio. To be honest I love working in the space I have, would just be nice to turn it up very loud whenever you feel like it which is always the best effect of all, but yeah… distance is no problem. Although I've never met Preston in person, I think when we do it would be somewhat awkward at first, but after the first bottle of Scotch has been downed I'm sure we'd step up and enjoy ourselves into the wee small hours. Although I've been told by lots of people he isn't very nice…
Lately many celebrated shoegaze bands that bloomed in the late eighties and nineties keep coming back with either new material or reunion shows. How do you feel about this shoegaze revival of sorts?
I feel fine about it, it has always been there and will always be floating about, the people involved all feel the same I'm sure. Nowt wrong with it I say. Turn up the bass and jump on the distorted tremolo pedal as you swirl about in a fog of coloured smoke n strobes. Just have to be careful you don't have a stroke is all, then again I can think of worse ways to dip out of this world…
Is there a chance we should ever expect anything new from Curve?
Never say never is always my take on it. Toni and I have been talking more so there is always a possibility, I think if the demand and right offers/situations etc. are in place then we would consider it all. I miss playing with Curve live so yeah, noises have been made, questions have been raised, smoke and cluster strobes are at the ready, it would be cool to make some new music with Toni as well, it all depends on the way things evolve and unfold…
As one of the pioneers who took an active part in the original shoegaze movement, do you follow any of the new bands that follow in your footsteps? What are you currently listening to?
I've heard a few bands I like, 93 Million Miles From The Sun for one. I don't really listen to other people's music as a choice anymore. I take new music in via film now, odd sound design stuff, things like the Berberian Sound Studio or The Duke Of Burgundy soundtracks and the like. The most recent great piece I heard was on the new Ben Wheatley film, High Rise, which I didn't like much but there was a defining moment of genius when Portishead shined through with their version of SOS, blew me away actually, brilliant take. Rose and Harry play me stuff now and then but I dunno I generally don't connect with it, I like the artists I like, Thom Yorke's solo record for example, or the soundtrack to The Witch, or some cool old school vintage sounds from Only Lovers Left Alive which made me want to be nocturnal and live in a big dark house, not sure about the blood thing but yeah, everything else was awesome in that movie…
Throughout your long career, either through collaborative releases, guest appearances or remixes, you've worked together with so many and much diverse artists. Is there anyone you'd like to join forces with that you haven't already?
I'd like Rose to do a duet with Thom Yorke. Also I wanna play bass with Portishead, or zone out with Massive any time of day or night .
Can't help but notice your music's cinematic qualities on almost everything you put out, regardless of the mood or style. Would you consider to pursue a career in film music? What kinds of films would you like to score?
I like to make music for non existent films, Rose and I are very good at it. I'd really like to do more work for cool indie films, moody as fuck, black and white tripped out druggy noisy weirdness, definitely into it, I just don't float in those film circles. If any film makers are reading this and need sound shout me out. I love film with a passion and have spent the best part of the last five years exploring it in great detail. Lots of foreign language films, I've discovered Ingmar Bergman films and want to float on a summer boat on a lake in Sweden filming it all in high contrast monokrom, while discussing love, life and death with those that appreciate such things…
What does the near future hold for you regarding your creativity?
They say you get more creative the older you get, tapping into and exploring things that you otherwise wouldn't, I think I'll be doing that with the people I love.