Interview with Multiple Man

I met up with Aussie duo Multiple Man on the first summer day in Brooklyn. We wandered through a thematically appropriate industrial wasteland to discuss being a twin in a conservative town that is always on fire, being in a band with someone on the other side of the world and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Sean [pictured left]: My name is Sean and I like to party.

Chris {pictured right]: My name is Chris, and I also like to party.

I met up with Aussie duo Multiple Man on the first Summer day in Brooklyn. We wandered through a thematically appropriate industrial wasteland to discuss being a twin in a conservative town that is always on fire, being in a band with someone across the world and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Sean [pictured left]: My name is Sean, and I like to party.

Chris [pictured right]: My name is Chris, and I also like to party.

What is your favorite party story?

When we were in Canberra, Australia a gentleman asked us if we liked vaping. We replied ‘sure’ and then he proceeded to vape a fog machine until he vomited. I think he is dead now.

Yeah, I think you could hedge your bets on that guy being dead for one reason or another by now. Honestly I am surprised I have not seen anyone do that, at this point.

I am sure you guys are sick of people harping on the twin thing, but I am super fascinated by it, especially because I have a very close relationship with my sister and we also both play music, although not together. I was hoping that you guys could give me a little insight on your childhood, what it was like growing up together and were you guys come from.

S: We’re not really sick of the twin thing, we play it up as much as possible, because it plays.

C: We used to dress the same on stage and stuff. It was quite confronting for a lot of people. But then it began to feel a bit too shticky.

S: Childhood wise, we lived in basically various points of Australian countryside.

C: We grew up in Sydney and then we moved to the Blue Mountains, which is this big majestic mountain overlooking all of Sydney, but it was permanently on fire.

S: Really Christian.

C: The Blue Mountain is a pretty artistic community, but we grew up in this weird bible belt. Out parents were not religious or anything like that, but we grew up in the bible belt around a lot of civilian firefighters. When we left there, we moved up to Queensland. Literally as we left, out treehouse was on fire. The whole thing was on fire basically! It was a real bad scene.

S: Queensland is Australia’s whipping boy. It is the Florida of Australia.

That harsh!?

S: If not harsher.

C: There was an election two days ago and the conservative party got in, because of Queensland.

S: Queensland hardened our skin a little bit. There is not much to do there, it is a very DIY atmosphere. It is also a very rock n’ roll town. We have been playing music together since we were teenagers. As we got older and gravitated towards New Wave and Synthetic electronic sounds I found that we were operating in a vacuum and the only person that was on the same level… was Chris!

Who was cooler in High School then?

C: That’s interesting. I had a lot of acne then and I went on Roacutane, which I am pretty sure is illegal now. My face had dandruff on it.

S: I had three percent body fat, I was skinnier than a rake. So, I think we were pretty much on par. We were one of the few houses that threw parties though, so a lot of people wanted to be our friends. We got uncool after high school. We got into synths… after high school.

So, you got into that stuff out of high school? You mentioned that you guys played music together as teenagers, what were you guys doing then and how did it flow into Multiple Man?

S: Multiple Man evolved from some very terrible jams in my bedroom. We would distort a drum loop on a keyboard and shout into a delay pedal… Honestly not that different from what we do now, really. Subtle evolution. Now we have a verse and a chorus.

Good work. I play music with my best friend of almost fifteen years and we have a very sisterly friendship. Aside from you know, liking each other and being generally tolerant of each other’s quirks I think the best thing about playing music with someone like that is that we can be really brutally honest with each other. Sometimes we can disagree and be bummed on each other but get over it in a minute. I was wondering if you guys have a similar thing going. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of playing music with your brother?

S: Advantages… Brutal honesty. Disadvantages… Brutal honesty. It is very helpful having someone on a similar wavelength as you who is informed by your same childhood influences and experiences makes it easier to communicate with them. We can throw words at each other, like for instance “High on the Hog” and develop a whole theme, coming from all different angles.

C: We focus on being solutions based, rather than just getting angry with each other, and that is quite helpful. Very advantageous.

S: Multiple Man is not just an experiment with sound, but it is an experiment in a vision and a sound. We are always saying that our vision is your vision in our promo, because that is what we want to get across.

I was actually wondering about the title of the newest album, “High on the Hog”. What is the significance to that?
C:
I thought that I invented the phrase and apparently, I did not.

S: It was invented in the late 17th Century… This is on the back cover of the album… The hog for me was the idea that we are at the end of a historical period where capital is becoming more homogenous and people are getting more ground down by politics and culture. Everything feels like it is headed towards a collapse. For me, the hog represents that.

C: The hog is everything. The hog is malaise, the black dog, it’s lurking the background consuming everything and regurgitating it back again. The hog came to me in a vivid dream about God being reincarnated as a hog creature that is sent to New York City to flood the street with drugs.

S: That is the good thing about the hog, he is open to interpretation.

C: The hog can be anything you want it to be.

S: An all-encompassing figure that is lurking in everyone’s background. And we are all high on it.

So, that aforementioned project [Appetite] is on a hiatus right now because my best friend moved to Berlin to do her techno thing. When we were talking earlier you said your entire family abandoned you, Sean. What was your initial reaction when you found out that Chris was going to be moving to the states?

S: ‘Oh, thank god I don’t have to play shows anymore’.

Did you think that the band was done?
S:
No, I was just sick of playing every weekend. 

C: We had a new record that was ready to be mixed when I was moving to New York, so it didn’t feel like the band was done. We just thought touring in America would become easier, and that was always something that we definitely wanted to do and have done a few times now. We just got back from tour. In terms of making it work, it is not that difficult.

S: It has actually been our most fruitful and productive period.

C: Not having to play every weekend does help. I make all of the music here. Whenever we are in a room together we record vocals and add extra parts on synths and stuff, so it is not that difficult. We are not a band that writes everything in a rehearsal room. There is no demoing.

S: My role in the band, as Chris quoted, mumbling into a delay pedal. But also, quality control. Not saying yes to all of Chris’s terrible ideas.

C: I am glad that’s in print forever!

S: You know, just working out which ideas are the good ones.

I feel you. Right back to the brutal honesty. So, living across the world hasn’t really been an obstacle to you guys at all?

C: Nah, I just set up a studio and stuff. We will try to have another EP out by the end of the year.

I am happy to hear that. How was this last tour?

C: Yeah, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis… All great. Great sound systems, great turn outs. Before that we were in Europe where we did Budapest, Paris, Berlin, London and Glasgow. We have had an amazing string of shows where every show has been well attended and we have played really well. It has felt like a turning point.

S: Feeling creatively…

C: Jazzed.

S: I was going to say jazzed. There we are again, finishing each other’s jazzed.

It was interesting when I saw you guys live in LA. I had a lot of trouble there finding a place in the music scene and not feeling like shows were fulfilling most of the time. I feel like there is less community surrounding music and people are just generally more isolated from each other, so when you go to shows people tend to be a bit better behaved and polite as far as crowds go. But, your show stood out to me as one of the most fun shows I went to in the time that I lived there. I actually had fun! People were dancing!

C: Where was this?

It was at Coaxial gallery with High Functioning Flesh.

C: Yeah, that was a mad show.

Bummed I had to miss you guys on Thursday. I was wondering it that was just a magical anomaly or if you do tend to inject an audience with enthusiasm. There was a really great energy that night, it really did feel like you brought something.

S: We tend to stay away from the trend in electronic music where you are sort of po-faced and serious. We are happy go lucky guys that like to bring energy and a bit of color to what is going on.

C: They also let us mix ourselves that night, which probably had a lot to do with how loud it was.

You guys seemed to totally vibe with DKA’s roster, I was wondering what made you guys decide to do the new record with Fleisch Records.

C: Fleisch is based in Berlin but a bunch of Australians. They did a record for Forces and our really good friend Lucy Cliché and it felt like a good fit, but also a natural progression to do an American record and then a European record. We wanted to tour Europe and it felt like the right way to go. They are an excellent label and we are stoked to be a part of it.

Back to mumbling into a microphone, what are the lyrics about? Are they significant? What inspires you?

S: I have a preoccupation with surveillance culture.

C: The idea of being on the outside looking in.

S: Yeah, Brisbane has always had an outsider whipping boy status and I felt that a lot throughout my life. With the advent of the internet and being down in such an isolated place, it does give you…

C: Isolationist paranoia.

S: Yeah. Those are all themes that I work with. When Chris writes lyrics, it is just cool sounding syllables.

C: Yeah but is still taps into that.

I feel like the new record is arguably ‘harder’ sounding than your last. You’ve spoken about the limitations of electronic music before. I was wondering if the new record is a product of skills strengthening and moving towards what you have always wanted to do, or your intentions shifting.

C: It’s both of those things. If you listen to the early records, they are very primitive. Multiple Man tracks my approach to electronic music. That 100,000 hours thing.

S: I think New York City had an influence on the hardness of the sound. What you were listening to when you got here was vastly different than what you were listening to when you were in Australia.

C: In Australia we did a lot of opening for punk bands. It’s great, I love being on varied bills. But when I moved here I think we took a more post punk approach to playing electronic music.

S: It is definitely a bit more club.

Chris, what were you listening to when you moved to NYC?

C: Our music might sound like we have very specific music tastes but I really only listen to Stone Temple Pilots, wings and the hold music for reporting crimes to the NYPD hotline.

Is there any piece of specific gear that you feel like you need to obtain? Is the absence of something getting in your way right now?

S: Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar. I don’t know how to play guitar very well, I just want to touch it.

C: Second or third wave sampler. Really crunchy low bit rate reproductions of real sounds. That colors everything that we do. EMU emulator… Fairlight emulator. Early Akai…

You’ve mentioned that you come from playing punk shows… What do you think is the most punk thing about you guys?

S: We were discussing this with our friends in Minneapolis… You can instantly tell when someone didn’t play in a punk band growing up.

C: It really colors the music that they create along with their attitude and their ethos.

S: We’ve always been very DIY.

C: We do everything ourselves.

S: We don’t have a booking agent or a manager. We produce everything on our own. We bring our approach from the punk community.

What’s the least punk thing about you guys?

S: I live in a high-rise apartment building.

C: I live in East Williamsburg.

S: I have a doorman.

C: Sean is still a piece of shit, don’t worry. He doesn’t belong there. You can tell. Sean cries a lot in a beautiful, empty apartment.

S: When I say hello to the doorman he asks me to leave immediately without a fuss.

Chris, I know that you work in film. Is that a passion for you, or is music your main squeeze?

C: Music is my passion, absolutely. It is my creative output that makes doing shitty stuff feel okay. Not that I purely do shitty stuff, to my bosses that might read this. But everyone needs an outlet. It is nice that we don’t play every weekend, so it feels like a passion that can move at its own pace. Nothing is ever forced. Everything is a novelty and it always feels exciting to play again.

It must be nice too, to tour in the way that you guys do. Doing fly outs and being selective about where you want to play.

S: It also means that we get to see each other, which is always nice.

What is your day job, Sean?

S: I work a really boring office job for a power station. Nobody that I work with knows what I do. And I like to keep it that way. This is my secret little adventure that I do for myself.

Are you also into movies though, Chris? What is your all-time favorite movie and what is your favorite movie that came out in the past year.

C: Michael Man’s “Heat”

The one about the firefighters?

S: No, that’s backdraft.

C: “Heat” is Al Pacino, a bank robber and a cop. ‘Never let yourself get attached to something that you can’t leave behind in three minutes when the heat is coming around the corner’.

How about the best movie that came out this year?

C: “First Reformed”, by far. That was a masterpiece. It is about a priest who tries to save a man who has lost his mind about global warming. Instead of helping him he buys into completely and realizes that mankind is collapsing under the weight of its self. He tries to blow up a mega church.

S: Pitch Perfect 3.

What is your favorite Australian snack that you can’t get in the states?

C: Halal snack pack.

Are there any favorite American snacks that you can’t get in Australia?

S: Flamin’ hot Cheetos.

YOU CAN’T GET THOSE?

S: They cost $12 a packet.

You had better load up your suitcase filled with them.

S: The shop under my apartment sells them for $12 a pack and not even blind drunk Seany stumbling in after a big night out on the town is willing to pay $12 for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

C: Surely you can get them on the dark web or something.

Sorry that I had to end on a snack question, but I am very obsessed.

S: It is funny that you asked Chris about if music was his main passion. My main passion is snacks.

Me too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s