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a second, or ten years later
Interview for
By Bastian Stein

Die britische Band The Sailplanes verbindet Gitarrenkrach im Stil der frŁhen Sonic Youth mit eingšngigem Indie Pop. Im vergangenen Sommer zog die Band von London nach Berlin. YTIN sprach mit Stacey und Tim.

The SailplanesYTIN: Tell us something about you first. Since when have you been doing music together? Who has influenced you? What's the idea behind the band name?

Tim: Iím not sure the music I listen to comes through in what I write or play, rather that what we I do is a reaction to what weíve done before- something, anything, to challenge myself and keep me interested in songwriting and playing guitar. Iíve just come through an obsession with Crime & The City Solution and welcome suggestions as to which dour Australian goths I should listen to next.

The band name was probably my suggestion too. I like that sailplanes are strong yet light and graceful and I think that was reflected in the first music we made together. Now itís all more difficult and complex. Itís caused us problems in the past as itís not a name that quickly summons-up an image of the sort of music we play. Itís not a self-important and bloated post-rock type of name nor something snappy and mathy. It doesnít fit, which probably sums us up. Loads of English people donít even know what a sailplane is. I think itís largely an American term.

Stacey: We have played together since 2005 and I think weíve always made a conscious effort to write songs that keep us interested, as Tim said. Iím influenced by all sorts, but tend to fixate on a band/musician for a while before moving on. Iím currently listening to stuff by Moondog. I canít see us attempting to incorporate anything like that into our current sound, though.

YTIN: The two of you relocated from London to Prenzlauer Berg last summer and you have played a couple of shows in Berlin now. What would you say are the biggest differences between London and Berlin for a band? How would you compare the two cities from a non-musician's point of view?

Tim: Weíre actually played six shows in Berlin so far, five of which were in January. Thereís no right or wrong way to do these things, and we needed the money earned from gigging, but weíve already played for most of the decent promoters in the city now and are a little fucked for where to play next. Given how small Europe is supposed to be these days, Iím amazed that some bands in Berlin or Germany in general still have an unrealistic expectation of the London music scene. The problem with London is that there really are too many venues, open every night of the week, with several zillion shit bands and just as many money-grabbing shitbag promoters eager to exploit them. And hilariously half the bands fall for it, time after time- playing gigs where they might have to bring 20 friends, or play on a bill with four other acts to make sure the bar coins it in, or pre-sell tickets to their families and pets. Entirely insane. We get treated better in Berlin, although conversely reckon German acts get a raw deal, passed-over for any visiting britpop band no-ones even heard of in the UK, but thatís something for the conscience of the promoters here. The guy at Schokoladen seemed to have a sound attitude to this.

Sailplanes @ Antje Oeklesund

YTIN: When you came over to berlin, your drummer Yola stayed in London. Berlin's suppossed to have a vibrant music scene with plenty of people playing. Was it easy to find Daniel, your new drummer, to join in?

Tim: Not a terribly interesting story unfortunately. We were sad to leave Yola in the UK as we had a great time playing with her. We found Daniel through a friend of his, who pushed him to meet us even though heíd just moved to this city and wasnít really looking to join a band at the time. Things have worked out very well so far.

YTIN: You recorded your debut mini album "a second, or ten years later" last summer, while still in London, then released it on your own label Redheaded Stepchild Records. Why did you choose to put it out by yourself, instead of releasing it on someone else's label? Are you d.i.y.-enthusiasts?

Tim: Yes, we are DIY enthusiasts, but weíd also appreciate the help and backing a label could give us. Simply, we didnít bother touting the record around to small labels because we didnít really see what they could do for us, especially as we were planning on moving to Berlin a couple of months later. I doubt weíre fashionable or popular enough for larger labels to take an interest, and obviously wouldnít pay-off for anyone with a short-term outlook towards music. We got the CDs pressed in the Czech Republic and distributed them ourselves through our site and via Rough Trade and other record stores in London. Itís a bit of a hassle, but quite rewarding. That said, weíre looking for someone else to release the next thing we record, if only to free-up our time to concentrate on the music.

Stacey: Itís very difficult to get people/labels to take the time out to listen to you. What weíre doing at the moment doesnít require a label, but organising a tour or getting reviews in certain publications can seem impossible; so some help would be a dream come true.

YTIN: Having seen you play a couple of times now, I noticed that you like to keep your set short at approx. 20mins. Are you doing that on purpose or are you lacking songs to play longer shows?

Tim: When we ditched our old set at the start of last year we found we prefered a shorter set. It suits us as our songs err on the short side and have an energy that might be lost if we attempted to play a great many of them. When we write new songs, we lose old ones or those weíre less fond of. The set stays short. Itís never the case in music that more=better, and some bands need reminding more often that brevity is the soul of wit. I think anyone playing the small club circuit who thinks an audience want to hear more than 45 minutes from their band are deluding themselves. Youíre not going to win over an entire audience, especially playing the sort of music we do, and even if you do itís no fun listening to unfamiliar material for an hour played over a crappy club PA, indifferently mixed by sound guy whoíd rather be getting drunk.

Stacey: Iím pretty sure people only remember the first and last song of a set after a few drinks. Weíre always struggling with the sound live, Iím not sure people would appreciate a 45 minute set.

Das Interview fŁhrte Bastian Stein.