February's Guest Article From Stack Magazines: iH8 Camera Interviewed
, February 23rd, 2009 10:40
In a new monthly feature, The Quietus brings you the best in independent magazine journalism, as selected by our friends at new subscription service Stack Magazines
I Hate Camera or, if you prefer, iH8 Camera, came into being out of necessity on 24 September 2004. The date was supposed to see the debut performance of The Love Substitutes at the Wonderbar in Antwerp's funky and fashionable Zuid neighbourhood. The Substitutes had recorded their debut album the previous summer and had intended to saunter into live action ahead of its scheduled December release but, alas, lead guitarist Craig Ward had just bailed out of swooze-rockers dEUS and was back home in Scotland nursing a sweaty head and not quite feeling up to a return to active service.
An alternative was hastily assembled with guitarist Rudy Trouvé gathering together a bunch of friends to improvise under the monicker I Hate Camera, a name inspired by an bizarre misprint from a French journalist who made several references in an interview with Rudy about his use of an 'I hate camera'. And so the band was born. 100%-improvised music, lead by nobody in particular, performed without prior discussion, and with a different line-up every night (although it would prove to be almost a year between the first performance and the second). Despite this faltering start, rigorous bouts of gigging paid off – with the Belgian jazz obsessives at the Jezus Factory label approaching the band with an idea for a 2009 release and the rest is history. Volume 1 is jam-packed with entirely improvised and one-take recordings (as befits the nature of the beast), which jig and thrash about with a riotously rhythmic strut. We took one look, nodded sagely and realised it was time for Bearded to have words.
Considering the band has a rolling line-up plucked from a contacts book featuring (but not limited to) members of: dEUS, The Love Substitutes, Kiss My Jazz, Evil Superstars, Zita Swoon, Sukilove, Pox, Ow, The Rudy Trouvé Septet, I Love Sarah, Dead Man Ray, Sharko, Riefenstahl and Mitsoobishy Jacson; prospective candidates for an iH8 Camera interview were something of an embarrassment of riches, but we eventually tracked down Craig and Rudy to a remote corner of the interweb and got them to give us the skivvy on iH8 Camera's life and times, through the noble art of the question-andanswer exchange.
Rudy broke the ice by pointing to the band's influences falling somewhere broadly between prog, jazz, punk and afro; and that the band only really resembles the improvised music they experienced in Antwerp during the 90s. Craig, by comparison, is much more specific about the source of his role in the band: "Well, I can only speak for myself, but I remain a huge fan of the Wetton/ Bruford/Cross/Fripp model of King Crimson. I didn't really know there was any such thing as free-improvised rock music until I got myself a copy of Red when I was 15. I remember just being gob smacked in the middle of the track 'Providence', when it occurred to me that they were just making this stuff up as they went. You could say I've never recovered."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Craig is not a fan of X Factor. And our man is equally unequivocal about that makes iH8 Camera stand out amidst the myriad ranks of dead-eyed and slack-jawed indie chart fodder: "We're not shit. Everything's shit these days. Also, we don't have anybody calling the shots, being on some creative genius/auteur trip. Music makes itself if you let it. It's a pleasure working with players who understand that. Turn up, plug in, listen. If in doubt, listen some more. Listen. Listen some more. Try not to suck. Try not to try. "It would be nothing short of a tragedy for people just to get old thinking that there is no more to music than landfill indie. I mean, rock has been a round for 50 years, and people like me get endless pleasure from digging around in the lunatic fringe. I am continually amazed by how much great stuff is out there, if one can be bothered looking for it, which in these days of nerdy blogs is actually easier than ever.
"To get back to the tragedy that is the predominance of landfill indie - I don't think it's big or clever to name names and slag off groups or individuals, but I'm not big or clever so here goes: Snow Patrol, Elbow, Kaiser Chiefs. These bands represent the utter nadir of rock music as far as I'm concerned, and should all be shot. Are you allowed to print murderous calls to violence?" More threats aside, neither is willing to speculate on what comes next or the future of the band, Craig pauses only to assert his ambitions to give away recorded music and focus on what Rudy defines as the iH8 Camera main function: which is predominantly as a live band. Craig is adamant that this essentially freeform nature is the most conducive element of iH8 Camera's longevity: "The beauty of having a pool of players rather than a fixed line up is we can say yes to any offer of a gig immediately, without worrying about availability. Whoever's available will be there. We've had anything from 1 to 16 people on stage at different times. There's no reason to put a shelflife on something that, in a sense, doesn't exist."
And so they go, tripping off into the sunset in search of the next adventure, safe in the knowledge that iH8 Camera adheres to no rules other than the ones that they set for themselves. And as for them, well, they are variable as well. Rudy sums up their modus operandi pithily: "When people ask us, we play!"
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