A Place To Bury Strangers Guide Us Through Their Teeth-Kicking Distortion

With the UK version of their debut out next week, Luke Turner discovers A Place To Bury Strangers are more than the sum of their noisy forebears

When I first encountered A Place To Bury Strangers live, I was left distinctly unimpressed. Reports of a cacophony that even the redoubtable Kevin Shields might struggle to summon up from the depths seemed misleading, and I felt you could hear the band’s influences all-too-obviously protruding through the blanket of noise – a shimmer of Slowdive here, a grimace of Mary Chain there, a rattle of Suicide, a glower of Sisters, the roar of MBV. Yet what a difference a decent PA can make – gigs I’ve seen them play since have been brutal in their intensity, yet never indulgently so. The noise is kept boiling underneath a pressure valve that refuses to do its duty until one glorious moment of surrender at the climactic finale. A Place To Bury Strangers concert is, like their eponymous debut (finally to get an official release in the UK on November 2nd), a strangely romantic affair, turbulent, dark, aggressive, confused, even sensual. The Quietus got in touch with the New York trio to find out more.

Hullo A Place To Bury Strangers, can you tell us a little about your year thus far?

Hello, we have been touring most of the year and had the great opportunity to play with and see a ton of great bands like Shellac, Dinosaur Jr., Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine, Neil Young, Public Enemy and so many more.

When did you get together?

The band was started when I moved to NY in 2003 and then Jay joined in 2004 and Jono in 2006.

What is the point of A Place To Bury Strangers?

To make new music that I want to hear. Physically an outlet for experimentation and destruction.

Is it true that your album is made up of demos and that you’ve yet to explore the possibilities of a full studio set up?

I’ve been in to studios and recorded tons of times and it usually doesn’t work out. I think what we are doing is anti the standard ways of recording and it is hard to find people that want to push and experiment the ways that we want. We have always paid tons of money for studio time and been very disappointed with the results.

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

Nothing in particular, it is just an amalgamation of everything that has been inspiring in music and life. A lot has to do with the most extreme emotions you feel like when you want to kick someone’s teeth in or when a good friend dies.

A Place To Bury Strangers – ‘To Fix The Gash In Your Head’

Your set at Primavera was amazing, how did you get it so loud?

Thank you, the effects that we are using really pushes everything to the limit, then for the house sound they have to turn everything else up to compensate. I also think perceived volume has a lot to do with frequency and the way things blend together.

When you’re playing ‘She Dies’ and it suddenly goes all insane and everyone in the venue falls over, what infernal device does Oliver use to conjure up the fury?


Was it true that Lydia Lunch was going to come and guest on the cover of ‘Death Valley 69’?

I don’t know, someone we are friends with said that she would, I don’t know her.

Oliver, you make pedals and musical machines for your day job. Can you divulge what it is The Edge looks for in a good pedal?

I would imagine something new and different, anything that keeps things exciting. U2 wants to make new music too.

You’ve supported Nine Inch Nails on tour and there seems to be an industrial/electronic element to your sound. Do you think that people are wrong to fear the goth?

I think people should be afraid of vampires and witches and warlocks and people who are cats as well. Musically I like a lot of Gothic music but I would categorize the Misfits as Goth too.

A Place To Bury Strangers – ‘I Know I’ll See You’

If A Place To Bury Strangers were looking for a place to bury a stranger, what would you consider would make the ideal spot?

I don’t think we have met.

Please name three non-musical influences:

THX, DMT, and Nerve Growth Factor.

How are you planning to develop the A Place To Bury Strangers sound? Will it be an organic evolution, or do you like to plan out new adventures methodically?

We are just going to have to see what direction we are interested in taking it. I will not let money influence my decisions and will always be writing music that I want to listen to so that should keep everything true.

Though very intense, I feel a definite dark romanticism in your music. Is that something you’d perceive too?

What has been the finest moment of the A Place To Bury Strangers story thus far?

I think so, I think that life is constant contrast. Life sucks and there is love, you are always pained and experiencing the most wonderful experiences all at the same time. I think the music captures that. The longing in a fucked up world. I think the finest moment has been the creation of the songs we have come up with, it may sound pompous or something but that is why we play.

What do you hope to achieve with A Place To Bury Strangers?

There are many things that I like as well as travelling and playing shows but it all comes down to create more music I want to listen to and smash stuff.

The UK version of A Place To Bury Stranger’s eponymous debut is out on Monday. The band will be touring Europe throughout November, finishing up with a UK tour and ICA date on December 8th. Listen to A Place To Bury Strangers

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today