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Escape Velocity

New Group Factory Floor Talk New EP And Shop Floor Practices
Luke Turner , October 16th, 2008 19:13

The Quietus introduces Factory Floor, the second in our tips for the best new bands of 2008

Factory Floor

I'm always a sucker for groups who take their inspiration for lesser-traveled parts of the glorious panoply of human existence. Why do bands recycle the same weary landscape of getting miffed at the gents and ladies when they could be inspired by jam jars, dictionary presses, or the chap who packed crates of Worcester Sauce to travel up an African river en route to sink a German battleship? Factory Floor are very much in the latter category, their songs evolving from postcards or fragments of memory - their track 'Aeromodelling Club', which sonorously detailed the construction of a model aircraft in the late 1940s, was what piqued my interest.

While earlier this year you could have said that Factory Floor's name was too much of a pointer to the musical heritage of their first EP (Bipolar b/w I Was Always Wrong) - stentorian Joy Division basslines, mechanical beats, a baritone rumble, their new, nattily packaged 12" EP reveals a band picking up new tools, and heading to workshops new. In these track-dominated times, it's sadly rare to find an EP that feels put together with an idea of the format in mind. Factory Floor are to be praised, then, for the Planning Application EP, a record that takes them into more percussive netherworld, eery chanted vocals, samples of found sound flickering into to the glowering, yet minimal, mix. It's a coherent unit, and a fine insight into what promises to be a most interesting production line.

Can you tell us your names, and what devices you are responsible for on the Factory Floor?

Dominic - My name is Dominic and I’m responsible for bass guitar, some drumming, some tape loops, Roland sh101 and a bit of singing.
Mark - My name's Mark I play guitar, a synthesiser, a wood block, sometimes a cow bell and a bit of singing.
Gabe – My name's Gabe and I play the drums. I do a bit of singing, samples and an old eight track cartridge tape player.

How do you describe your music?

Gabe – Laughs, put the lotion in the basket.
Mark – Paranoid, melancholic, introspective.
Dominic - Jovial!, a response to everyday bullshit.
Gabe – It's more paranoid.
Mark – There’s some dark humour in there.
Gabe – Jovial!, its more a response to everyday boredom isn't it?
Mark – It's almost post post modernism.
Dominic - Without the postage paid.

What is the point of Factory Floor?

Mark – I'm just returning some videos to the video store.
Dominic - I guess it’s like a perpetual cycle, starting with the need to be creative which evolves into something that people will react to, cause them to think, dance and then it all starts again.
Gabe – A perpetual cycle, starting with the need to be creative which evolves into something that people will react to, cause them to think, dance and then it all starts again.

When playing live you seem to share vocal and instrumental responsibilities. Is your shift work delineated with an egalitarian approach, or do you have a shop steward?

Mark – For me I have always been fascinated with that communal thing and Marxist ideas and...
Dominic - coughs ( bullshit)
Mark – You’re bullshit. There is only so much three people and a drum machine can do so we are forced to explore different avenues Dominic – We always go with what’s instinctive though don't we?
Gabe – Yeah, we always end up going with what excites us and what feels right.

Can you talk a little about how the visual impacts on your music? I'm thinking in terms of taking inspiration from postcards, or the old hotel, or aeromodelling...

Dominic - Postcards are weird because you are always aware that someone is going to, well they are always public.
Mark – Postcards are like a time capsule.
Gabe – It's interesting they have picked up on the postcards thing?
Dominic - It's quite poignant.
Gabe – For the 'Aeromodelling Club' track it was reference to a photograph I found amongst some of granddad's stuff, he was a member of an aeromodelling club in the 40s and from that a story a came from that. At the same we were thinking back to childhood disappointments.
Mark – And how its hard to be as focused as you were when you were a kid on something and when you are a kid everything is so vivid and then you become a bit jaded. You never have that same interest when you are older.
Dominic – We’ve kind of tried to visit that with this EP, that intensity of imagination you have when you’re a child, the escapism you can find when creating.
Gabe – The EP is more, the EP is really similar in content to 'Aeromodelling Club', It was actually going to be on the ep but we felt we shouldn't go back at that point. The old hotel? Birling Gap hotel is a really peaceful place and its really melancholic as well. I suppose these things have at some point left an imprint enough to need to write about them.

Do you feel inspired by the past?

Mark - We are affected by the past.
Dominic – But not always inspired by it.
Gabe – If anything I always try and run away from it.

From recent gigs, you seem to be embracing a more percussive-based sound. Can you see Factory Floor constant evolving away from a traditional band approach?

Mark – Our percussive sounds seem to lend themselves well to the sound we are trying to create at the minute. It’s just the atmosphere they create. If you strip it back you can make it become more primal and basic. You can build things up from such simple ideas.
Gabe – Yeah we sampled quite a lot and ended up leaving a mic running for a long time and cut from that and then built up from there.
Mark – Also in terms of what we try and do with the sound we always try to and do something a bit different. and the next time round we will try and do something different. It makes it more interesting, we are always evolving which stops us from going stagnant.
Gabe – We are always shifting.
Dominic – We wanted to start with something that makes you feel you want to dance, then add to that more melancholic or irrational sounds.
Gabe – Suppose that comes from what we have been listening to recently too doesn't it?
Mark – It probably changes at each practice also because I can't always remember what I was supposed to be playing.

What are the raw materials of musical influence that you put through the mill?

Dominic – Iron Filings.
Mark – Field recordings.
Gabe – We do a lot of field recordings or we try to. I have been listening to a lot of Dub recently. I've been listening to birdsong on Digital radio actually. It’s just the sound of birds singing continuously. Its weird but its quite melancholic, and if you listen to it when you are going to sleep at night it puts you off pattern, its quite bizarre.
Dominic – There something quite vulnerable about birds singing, like it’s inevitable that the cat will hear such a mellifluous song.

Can you tell us a bit about your new EP please?

Gabe – We were asked by Bonnie of Electricity In Our Homes to do a recording, we weren’t quite sure if it was going to be an EP or just a single at the time, so we agreed to do some kind of recording with her, it took about six weeks.
Mark - Six long weeks.
Dominic/Gabe – Of hell.
Gabe – We started working on tracks in a proper studio suite...
Mark – With no air conditioning.
Gabe – Yeah it was hot, four massive tube lights above the desk. But we found we couldn't really work in that environment so we took it back to our studio which gave us a bit more time to write and produce it how we envisaged it.
Dominic - with help from Mr Arparicio.
Mark – Yeah, with some help from James Arparicio as well.
Gabe – Is that how you pronounce his name?
Mark – That's how I pronounce it, I don't know how he pronounces it? James co produced 'I Was Always Wrong', which Nik Void wrote and performed the vocals on.
Dominic – It was really interesting having that different dynamic over our music. It seemed to knit together really well.
Mark – The record itself is about personal experiences.
Dominic - Felt, childhood memories and each of our reactions to daily routine.
Mark – It was six long weeks of arguments and discussion. These are tracks that came from when we first started working together. It's the first record we have released together, since Dom joined.
Dominic - We wanted to muck around with more dancey rhythms as well – and different drum sounds to shift it up a gear and add some good old Factory Floor anxiety and anger.
Gabe – It's a kind of like a mark of starting again I think. From how and where we where when we started out, before Dominic joined.
Mark – With this record we tried to make it a body of work, one whole thing.
Gabe - We only had a couple of songs in mind for it to begin with but it turned into an EP, one of the songs went through about four complete changes.
Mark – It was agonising, but hopefully the whole thing works and sounds good!
Dominic – We’ve kind of stitched the ep together with random interim tracks, to help define the ep’s narrative.
Mark – It's got flow to it. Its greater than the sum of its parts. Dominic - The smell of what you sent me.

What is the ultimate ambition for Factory Floor?

Dominic – To keep enquiring.
Mark – To keep moving. We never want to be stale and stagnant.

Factory Floor's Planning Application EP _is out now on One of One Records. Buy it from Rough Trade.

Listen to Factory Floor's mySpace