Nada Surf in Wien. Sänger Matthew Caws im britishrock-Interview30.11.2005
Das amerikanische Trio Nada Surf hat sich über die Jahre eine treue Fangemeinde erarbeitet. Seit mittlerweile zehn Jahren und sechs Alben überzeugen sie mit ihren eigenwilligen, gefühlvollen Songs, die meist zwischenmenschliche Probleme und deren Bewältigung zum Inhalt haben. Ihr Smashhit „Popular“ verschaffte ihnen schnell weltweiten Ruhm und Airplay, stellte sie aber auch vor nahezu unüberwindbare Hürden.
Plattenfirmen forderten weitere Chartbreaker und ein Album, welches die erwünschten Verkaufszahlen bescheren sollte. Nada Surf haben aus diesen Erfahrungen viel gelernt, was sich in ihrer Musik widerspiegelt. Diese lässt sich nicht einordnen – weder in der Softpop-Kategorie noch in die Indierock-Sparte fühlen sich die sympathischen New Yorker vollkommen wohl. Nada Surf balancieren gekonnt zwischen den Genres, ohne ihre spezifischen Sonderheiten zu verlieren. Sieht man von nahezu perfekten Radio-Rocksongs wie „the way you wear your head“ oder „always love“ ab, stellt man bald fest: Hier handelt es sich um keine beliebige Band, die jedermanns Sache ist. Es gilt, sie für sich selbst zu entdecken, ihre wunderbare Musik, mit all der ihr so eigenen Verschrobenheit.
Auf „the weight is a gift“, ihrem aktuellen Album, setzt das Dreigespann ihren eingeschlagenen Weg konsequent fort: Unbekümmerte Poprock-Nummern („imaginary friends“, „blankest year“) halten sich mit introvertierten Kleinkunstwerken („comes a time“, „your legs grow“) die Waage. Dass sich ihr gesamter Backkatalog gerade live richtig entfalten kann, stellten die US-Amerikaner vor kurzem in der Arena Wien unter Beweis. Beeindruckend gelang es, eine Verbindung zum Publikum aufzubauen, welches zwei Stunden lang in den Genuss von einer Performance auf höchstem Niveau kam. Mit Songs wie „blonde on blonde“ oder „inside of love“ wurden definitiv die letzten Zweifler zum Schweigen und Staunen gebracht.
Drei Stunden vor ihrem Auftritt nahm sich Matthew Caws (Gesang, Gitarre) backstage für uns Zeit. Im schicken „FUCK BUSH“-Shirt beschreibt er den komplexen Entstehungsprozess von Nada Surf – Songs und verrät seine musikalischen Einflüsse von Kindheit an.
Why is your new record something special and unique?
Well, I can’t say that it is. Every record is completely unique, some are uniquely bad (laughs). But to be truthful, a lot of it is about things I can’t talk about. It’s a very personal record. It has a more negative core than other records, but a more positive result and exterior. A lot of the songs were written about serious things I was going through. The act of creating anf the act of looking for a melody of finding a chord is so joyous, you know. And rehearsing is joyous. I love recording and I love mixing. So there is so much happiness around it.
You already talked about what I also wanted to ask you. When you write songs, are personal experiences, daily life and things you go through important?
Yeah, that’s all that it is. I tend to write about wild things that happen. Especially six months or a year ago, when I had an issue, a regret, a wish or a thought. One of the things I do to relax, feel better or to give myself a background is to play guitar and sing. And sometimes, there is a tape recorder. I usually write miniature songs, like ten seconds long, trying to describe as objectively as possible my subjective feelings. I play it eight or ten times in a row. Sometimes I don’t listen back at all. When I listen back, most of the time it sounds like me sitting somewhere and playing guitar. But sometimes I want to hear someone else playing it, so it has some kind of voodoo in it. And those are the ones I try to remember to develop songs out of.
What’s your musical inspiration?
Escape, really. When I’m writing I always like pieces of music that make me feel like I’m far away. That’s the main thing. I think I don’t get so much inspiration from music anymore. I love it just as much as I ever did but I don’t do what I used to do a long time ago. I went „wow, I want to do something that sounds just like this“ or „what a cool idea! I wanna corporate that in one of my song“. I don’t do that anymore. In fact, when I write music myself I always want to feel as free as possible because there are so many tricks. You know, there are a lot of things you could do. I could listen to a million records and say „oh, it would be cool to go from this to this“ (laughs). I try to get away from this but it’s hard. My first inspiration was baroque music, because that was what my parents listened to. Then it was disco on the radio in the seventies. Later, my best friends older brother played The Velvet Underground and The Ramones to me. That was great, especially the record „Rocket To Russia“ by The Ramones, probably because there’s a cartoon in it. But it’s also one of the best records in the world. What’s funny about it is that you just love these things instinctively and later you go like „you know, what’s so amazing about it is that it’s so strong, this chord-on-chord punk, whatever that means, but it’s so beautiful“. Even those songs about sniffing glue or beating somebody up. One the one hand it’s ridiculous but on the other it’s so beautiful when you play it. And then I discovered The Who and lost my mind, I love them so much. Then some Classic Rock and stuff. After that my sister went away to college. She became a DJ and sent me tapes of her radio show. There was a lot of Joy Division, New Order, Buzzcocks and stuff like that. On my own, I heard The Pixies, Pavement, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur – and loved all that, the whole sort of late eighties, early nineties american heavy guitar thing. I see a lot of shows, I love live music. But the band that meant the most to me over all those years is Teenage Fanclub although I don’t think that they are particular unique.
How was touring so far?
Great! The shows were really good. I’m a little worried about my voice the last few days. We had more and more people, the american tour was ridiculous, really surprising. We had much more audience there than ever before, which is nice.
Would you say that performing in the United States is something else than in Europe? Are there differences concerning the audience?
I think here in Europe we’re just a little bit more mainstream. We’re kind of never really gone away over here. In the States we really disappeared for quite a long time. There we’re a bit more of a secret to the audience. I would say we’re more underground in the States which is nice too. I think we’re lucky beacause every night in the last ten years has been great.
When you look back on your early years and all the difficulties you had to go through, for example with record labels – what do you think about it now?
It’s no surprise. You know, ten years is a long time. We started out in the wrong place and I think we ended up where we belong. A lot of independent labels really liked us and wanted to work with us – and we started out on a big giant label who maybe liked us but what they really saw was that there was some money to be made out of one song. We were signed to labels all around the world who hoped to make some money but didn’t really care. We started out with business people who did business and now we are working with music people who do business.
How do you like Vienna?
I love it! We played in Vienna quite a lot, mostly the Flex. It’s always been one of the best shows on our tour consistently, so I’m looking forward to it.
The album title „the weight is a gift“ – has it something to do with what you explained before?
Yeah, because I went through a lot of personal problems. It’s mostly all over now and I’m much better and I feel very happy. What I noticed is that going through problems wakes me up and I’m much more awake now than I was a few years ago. I’m really here, you know. When I think about my level of awareness of my own life or awareness of things around me – I’m here. The world is an awful and wonderful place and being more awake in it, though heavy, is a gift. The act of recovery and the act of conquering problems, it feels to me like psychological weightlifting – and I’m stronger, I can handle more stuff now.
Is it also the ability of develop something positive out of negative experiences?
Yeah, I think about of things that in the past were problems, they don’t seem to be problems to me anymore – and that’s good!
Alright, Matthew. So, thanks a lot for taking the time. Take care of your voice and enjoy the show tonight!
Thanks man, I really appreciate it!
NADA SURF, Arena Wien, 28. November 2005
30.11.2005, 21:44 von T. Hochwarter