By Alex Distefano
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The Weird Sound of Confusion
65daysofstatic's blend of metal and electronica could be your cure
The band 65daysofstatic may not have vocals, but they sure do have balls.
The Sheffield, U.K., quartet are spending this summer bringing their chimerical brand of electronic-tinged, instrumental prog rock (think Aphex Twin meets Mastodon) to arena audiences as the hand-picked openers for the Cure's current tour—where they're as likely to get shit thrown at them for an hour each night as they are to win over attendees with their sea-change guitar-swell anthems.
Guitarist Paul Wolinski is meticulously optimistic—unlike his music, which is breathlessly optimistic. "Every time we get to walk out on an arena stage is going to be amazing," he says via e-mail. "The fact that we have been able to slot in our own headline shows for the first time in the U.S. on the days off is incredibly exciting."
Still, you gotta wonder how the hell an experimental post-everything U.K. band gets to follow in the Goth-steps of And Also the Trees and the Cranes, warming up for an arena full of folks waiting to hear "Pictures of You." It helps that a certain pushing-50, Edward Scissorhands-like U.K. pop star is among their fan base.
"We were doing warm-up shows for our tour last summer, and out of the blue, Robert Smith came to the one in Brighton. He introduced himself backstage afterward and said that he'd really like us to play some shows with them," recounts Wolinski of meeting the Cure front man. "It was as unexpected as that. We of course know the Cure—they've existed since we've been aware of music and have done incredible things."
Wolinski and the rest of 65days have done amazing things themselves since forming seven years ago, combining pretty much the history of modern alt-whatever music in every release, sometimes within single songs, on three sprawling, literally awesome albums: 2004's The Fall of Math, 2005's One Time for All Time and 2006's The Destruction of Small Ideas.
65days outpace math rock's weird-for-weird's-sake indulgence by indulging metal's thump and churn in a very "dude" way (they all have beards and like their arrhythmia-inducing time changes), while still managing to invest it with femininely divine melodic vistas and programming flourishes that would put a lump in Ulrich Schnauss' throat—if it weren't so often being compared to Aphex Twin.
"We are just trying to make the music that we have in our heads happen out loud," Wolinski says humbly.
"The electronica element to 65 has always been as important as the guitar side to us; that's kinda the fundamental thinking behind starting the band—we couldn't work out why people weren't smashing these sounds together more often," he continues. "It was something we really wanted to hear, so we started doing it ourselves."
The Aphex Twin comparison is just lazy, Wolinski says, but he'll take it. "We're all fans of Aphex Twin [and] think it's a shame that he remains the benchmark that all electronic music is measured by, as if no one has appeared in the past 10 years to capture people's imagination or move the sound forward."
At least Wolinski and crew are doing their part. Their latest EP, The Distant and Mechanised Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties, takes its title track and offers a straight-up four-on-the-floor version more akin to Klaxons than their usual smiley-faced Fantomas approach, featuring a bullfight chant of 16 tracks of the instrumental band's vocals.
"I can safely say that no one in ?65daysofstatic is a secret Klaxons fan," Wolinski jokes. (Their tour van listening, he says, is Neil Young; inspiration is At the Drive In; and kindred spirits are Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Battles and Youthmovies.)
"The new EP was a concerted effort to make something without strange time signatures that people could move to without having to count at the same time," he explains. "But this is just an ongoing effort to write pop music. We have never tried to write anything other than pop music. We don't want to be an experimental 'art' band, or a 'math-rock,' 'post-rock,' whatever kind of left-field band. We want our music to be as accessible as possible and to move as many people as possible. But we refuse to believe that you have to sound like Coldplay or the Killers to do this. You can be weird and noisy and confusing, but that doesn't have to alienate people. Isn't it weird and noisy and confusing in everyone's head? Isn't that a sound that's actually pretty universal?"
He and his band will find out this summer.
65daysofstatic perform with Set to Sea at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067; www.allages.com. Mon., 7:30 p.m. $10.