Interview with Tony Buck by Bob Baker Fish

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Tony Buck

This is a quick interview I did with Tony Buck for Inpress in Melbourne. It’s a bit of a departure from the Necks. He’s moved out from behind the kit and released a solo album of rockier more angular guitar based music with occasional vocals. He finds reference points in My Bloody Valentine, Shellac and the Cure. He calls it Project Transmit .

Bob: How long have you been working on project transmit. Did you always intend for it to be (mostly) solo?
Tony: Some of the songs of projectTRANSMIT started appearing about 4 or 5 years ago. I formed a band in Berlin doing some of this material and over the last 3 years or so have done a handful of gigs, when I’ve been around, back from touring. we actually recorded some of the material as a band about 2 years ago but there were basic things about the recording, technically, that weren’t really. I was in Sydney last year hanging out with Dave Symes, who plays bass o the record and I thought it’d be a great idea to record the bass and drums together with him and Tim Whitten (Well respected Australian sound engineer who works with The Necks a lot ). It seemed like the best way at the time of getting the feeling I wanted in the rhythm section and gave me the opportunity to work on the recording of the guitar parts and my leisure in Berlin over the next months.
So, in essence, I have always thought of it as a ‘band’ project and the songs written to be played live, in a very open way. So the versions of the songs on the record are simply one recorded version of the songs.

Bob: I know you’ve played guitar on a previous Necks release, though nothing like this before.
Tony: I made a solo record in 88 or so and one in 1990 where i played a lot of instruments. In Berlin over the last few years you can find me doing all sorts of things.!

Bob: Your press release throws around Shellac and Fugazi as reference points, does that ring true to you? What was the initial intention when you began the project?
Tony: I can’t say Fugazi are a particularly big influence on me but I would say the stripped-back, minimal grind of some Shellac songs has definitely inspired me. I think there are things about some tracks that i could trace back to an Albini influence… The initial reason for getting this music together was my renewed interest in the electric guitar and certain approaches to playing, writing songs and voicing chords… and to a degree, relinquishing the drum chair and leading a band from the perspective of an harmonic instrument.

Bob: There’s some real indie pop moments in Project Transmit. I imagine you don’t get too much opportunity to play this kind of music, shorter, with kind’ve fixed muscular grooves too often in the Necks. What kind of appeal does this music hold for you?
Tony: Well, I play a lot of music outside of The Necks. I’m heavily involved in other projects, for example with people from the Dutch post-punk band The Ex and a project with Lee Renaldo from Sonic Youth. I’ve always played plenty of rock music. I guess it’s always appealed to me. As a drummer there is a certain joy in playing straight and strong and simple. I guess i also find that in playing the guitar.. maybe more so.!

Bob: How do you go about playing this live? Did you always intend to perform it live?
Tony: As I said, I’ve had a band together in Berlin playing this music. Live, I’ve always intended to play guitar. I guess that’s kind of the reason the project exists, as a vehicle for me to get more into this guitar thing….There is a bass player, Hannes Strobl, who I’ve worked with on these things for some time. I’ve played with a few drummers… (That’s always a bit harder… I guess cause I have a pretty clear idea how i want the drums to sound.. )

Bob: Aren’t you afraid you’ll lose your experimental/ jazz credentials by demonstrating your desire to create this rockier music and, gasp, vocals?
Tony: Anyone that knows my music and the things I’ve done over the years wont be too surprised by this project I guess. I think it has a direct line from things like Peril, the band I formed with Otomo Yoshihide in the mid nineties.. It’s all music and I don’t really think about anything like jazz credentials.. I don’t think about things like that and I don’t think they apply in any case, with anything i do.

Bob: What has the reaction been like? Has this surprised you?
Tony: I guess the CD is kind of new and I’ve been pretty busy touring, so I haven’t had all that much feedback from people to the record personally. Glenn, from Vitamin (the label) sent me a couple of reviews the other day that were really very very positive, so that was nice. I’m pretty proud of the record and i think it sounds really good so I just hope it gets out there and some people get to hear it. I feel really inspired by this project and I can’t wait to get out and play it live, here and in Europe, and record more.

Project Transmit is performing
Sat 24th Jan – SYDNEY Hopetoun Hotel Surry Hills
Sun 25th Jan – MELBOURNE Northcote Social Club
Project Transmit is available on Vitamin.

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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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