Interview: We talk to math rock icons Battle ahead of Laneway Festival 2016


Before math rock icons Battles take the stage at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore 2016, Indran Paramasivam checks in with guitarist/bassist Dave Konopka

Laneway doesn’t really need an introduction. The premier music festival in Singapore has been serving the Pitchfork faithful for five years now (yes, you’re that much older), and its upcoming edition is yet another stellar representation of today’s indie cosmos. Case in point: Battles. Dave Konopka tells us more about the math rock legends’ first show in the city, living up to their impossibly well received debut album, and why there’s room for some fun in their tunes.

The last time you played here was in 2009. Do you remember anything about that show?
I do – I loved it. I remember Singapore being very clean. Well, my first impression was that it was really clean.

You’ve had two albums out since then, including La Di Da Di.
Yes, the only difference this time was that we switched up our process again. We were way more conscious about not being so deeply entrenched that we ended up lost in the project. It was a lot of bouncing ideas back and forth off one another.

Much has been written about how your music is meta-commentary on man’s interaction with machines. Do you see it that way, too?
There’s this definite dichotomy between what we can do and the tools we use, for sure. The most important thing about how this plays out in our music is that it’s humans who are tapping into the capabilities of machines to make music. I think our music reflects this balance.

How do you feel about Mirrored eight years on?
I still love it, but it was not necessarily the way that we wanted people to remember Battles by. Whatever album we put out is constantly compared to Mirrored, but Mirrored wasn’t the mission statement for what the band was going to be forever. At times, I just feel that we have to get out from underneath that.

There’s a winking sense of humour running through your music. Would you agree?
I don’t think we are intentionally trying to be funny but I think we are confident enough and interested in writing music that is fun. It’s important because being labelled a ‘math rock’ band implies that we take ourselves very seriously. For us, the most important thing is that the music had to be fun. Funny – that’s a different thing.

How would you say [former frontman] Tyondai Braxton leaving has changed things?
He is a great musician and was a great member. We’ve moved on and I think that we recovered from losing a member. It was important for us to continue to exist.

And what are you looking forward to the most about playing at Laneway Singapore?
We are really excited to play Laneway – we’ve heard great things about it. Every line-up over the years has been great. Also, I think our live show is even better than it was in 2009 and I’m excited to bring it to Laneway. I think it’s going to be a great trip, for sure. The closer to the Equator we get, the better we sound.

Check out the five acts not to miss at the festival this year - here

Sat Jan 30, The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore.


Add your comment

The best gigs and concerts in HK

This fortnight's best gigs, concerts and festivals. Read more