We interviewed Andy Huxley from Piano Wire to discuss their new album, their upcoming U.K. tour and their history.
Interview by Jane Howkins.
Photography by Steve Gullick.
You have a new album on the way in February, called Dream Underground. What can you tell us about that?
Yes on February 17th. Personally it’s my 8th record. In the Buddhism I practice the number 8 means to open, so I hope we’re gonna open up something with this one. I’m really proud of this record, it’s come about through collaboration and genuine inspiration. I feel like we’re ripening into a rare and exotic fruit.
Pre-order link – http://hanginghousesrecords.bigcartel.com
You’ve just released a single called Weird Heroes. Why did you choose that song to be a single, and what can you tell us about it?
It’s our third single. I wrote the basis for that song and Sym put the lyrics to it. It’s a weird choice for a single cause it’s the slowest song on the record, and it’s pretty long too, but I guess we wanted to show something of the depths of our influences on Dream Underground. There’s a fragility in this song and it makes me feel exposed, like someone’s posted pictures online of when I was a teenager or something. Actually that’s true and happens all the time, which is the curse of having been in a touring band as a teenager.
Speaking of weird heroes, do you have any? Who are you influenced by, and what are you listening to at the moment?
I don’t think anyone I like is weird. To me the mainstream pop stars are weird, like dancing dogs on Britain’s Got Talent or something. Musically I’ve been listening to a lot of Minutemen albums right now by going through their records one by one and playing them to death.
I had a childhood obsession with Captain Beefheart and Minutemen seem to me to be his rightful successors, so listening to their stuff is really opening up something in me about my childhood. Also the way they are just themselves, they shine just as they are. In a totally different way, I think our music has something of that. We’ve made a proper record here with a specific sound, it’s not some super raw organic record, but the character and the songwriting we have is honest in the same way. Plus they seem like incredible guys.
You recorded the album with Gil ‘Pixies/Foos’ Norton, who is famous for some of the amazing records he has worked on. How was that, and were you fans of his work before starting recording?
Yes definitely, we spent a HUGE amount of time listening to the Pixies records he produced growing up. He’s a legend. I feel like we used to listen to the Pixies in the dry/shit period before they started to become fashionable again, so they felt like our thing and no one else’s. So Gil probably occupied that world that was ours and no one else’s. As a result, actually working with him was totally awkward and I probably came across like a complete dick. Though listening back to a track we did with him I can really hear that he pulled something incredible out of us.
Sym and Andy were both previously in the band Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster before they broke up. Why did you decide to start Piano Wire after that?
Piano Wire kind of grew slowly out of the 80s reunion we did in 2012. That was what started me and Sym spending time with each other again, plus we began living near each other around that period too. It was destined to be. I had been looking for a songwriting partner for a few years cause I was getting stuck in my writing; I had no idea it would end up being someone from 80s. But meeting up with Sym again around that reunion, it was clear he had completely reformed himself, and he had the bits of inspiration I lacked and vice versa. From there the songs came and keep flowing still now. So the band had to be formed.
How different do you find performing in Piano Wire to your previous bands? Do you prefer the music you are making now?
Right now, the only record I like that I’ve ever done is Dream Underground. But that’s just cause I’ve just done it (and it does happen to be really fucking good ha). But I’m proud of everything I’ve done, even the shit things. Even a lot of the shit things occasionally I realise weren’t actually shit at all. Basically we’ve just got to document everything, all the ideas, and keep making records. Other people can judge it. Performance wise it’s my life, but that’s a struggle between life and death.
You’re embarking on a U.K. tour through February and March. What can you tell us about that, and are you excited about it?
I’m looking forward to it. As a live band we’re reaching a good moment together.
You’re touring with two other bands – Tenebrous Liar and Horseflies. Were you already fans of those bands before booking? How do you choose who to take on tour with you?
Yeah that is actually incredible. Two brilliant bands who actually have credibility. I’ve been listening to Tenebrous Liar for the past year, I’m really into them, I’ve got all their records, so it’s amazing to be able to play with them. They are uncompromising and troubled, which is right up my street. They are kind of our mentors as a band, so this tour is really special.
Why do you think people should come and see you play live, and what can people expect from a Piano Wire gig?
We’re actually two bands, one on record and one live. We don’t believe in just playing the record the way it was recorded. We’ve been deconstructing the whole essence of the band live since the time of our first E.P., while at the same time building up a world around it in the studio. The live thing is totally stripped back and disorientated and kind of an experiment of frantic energy and melody, done in our own unique way.
Any last words for the fans?
I’m so grateful to each person who has supported our music both past and present. Because of these people I have become a truly odd person. Thank you!