Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Tulta Behm photo
 I first heard the synth rock band that is American Men on an indie compilation earlier this year. Their track Good Po-lice immediately caught my attention. Throbbing yet upbeat, American Men's music manages to sound retro and progressive all at once. Below is my interview with Claude Speed (no, not that guy) who generously took the time to speak with me about where their cryptic name came from and what's next for the Scottish four piece. Visit American Men's tumblr or LuckyMe's homepage for more American Men music and info.

Bradley: What was the inspiration behind the name American Men?

Claude Speed: There's no one answer to this, so here are some possibilities:

(1) American Men supposedly got their name by randomly selecting two pairs of numbers and looking up the corresponding page/word in a copy of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.

(2) American Men supposedly got their name by finding a phrase which would be statistically the least likely to produce a relevant result on Google.

(3) American Men supposedly got their name after weekend in Barcelona, when the members woke up unable to remember anything that had happened the night before. The only evidence of their activities was a smashed Ouija board and a grainy VHS depicting underwater pyramids and a pitched down voice chanting “American Men” over and over again.

B: How would you describe your music to our readers?
CS: Chasing the future, a hundred years too late. A sad computer imagining what Chavez sound like just from reading the wikipedia entry; failing. Reconstructing the contents of your hard drive from memory.
B: How would you describe the electronica scene in Scotland? And in Europe?

CS: There's been a lot of good electronic music in Scotland for as long as I can remember. I was fairly obsessed with Boards of Canada in the '90s and Benbecula records were doing pretty good records in the last 5 years or so. The obvious reference points in Scotland for us are LuckyMe and Numbers. They are both doing pretty awesome things.

I'm not that familiar with the electronica scene as a whole in Europe, but a lot of the music I've been into in the last few years has come from England, there's too much to mention, the Netherlands, like Beat Dimensions, Rush Hour, Kindred Spirits and Nod Navigators and Spain, such as Mweslee, BFlecha and Arkestra collective. There's also a great radio show from Athens, Greece that my girlfriend and I listen to every weekend called Black Athena. And Machinedrum just moved to Berlin!

B: Would you say it differs from the North American scene?

CS: I'm probably more attuned to the similarities between US/Canadian artists (particularly LA, New York and Montreal) and the Scottish ones than I am the differences. I think that when myspace was a big thing the concept of a geographical "scene" lost importance. People would link up online and location became way less relevant. I think the camaraderie was built up in a virtual space rather than a real one. A lot of the artists I listen to I hear about are from friends who linked up with those people online.

What is the American Men writing process?

CS: It used to be that I'd write what were essentially guitar songs, and then transpose them to synths. The idea was that those synths would sound somewhere between a distorted guitar and a Boards of Canada type sound.

Now the process is that one of us comes up with an idea for a song, sketches it out on the computer and then sends it to everyone else to comment on and work on. We all have fairly busy schedules and don't all live in the same city so that's generally the start/middle of the process for now. We do try to meet up to finish songs in person either in the studio or in my flat. We have two drummers now, hi ya Robbie, which should make the process more interesting too.

: What is coming up next for American Men?
CS: We're in the midst of writing an album to come out on LuckyMe next year. We have pretty much no idea how it's going to sound; although we've written the bones of twelve or thirteen songs that's mostly restricted to the melodies, chords and basic rhythms. So a lot of the fleshing out is still to be done. Particularly picking the right sounds. Once we're happy with 20 minutes or so of new music we'll play some low key shows I think. 

B: Is there anything I neglected to mention that you want our readers to know?

CS: 1. The new Dutch Uncles and Gang Gang Dance records are tremendous.
2. I'm doing a solo album as Claude Speed which I'm enjoying a lot and I'm hoping will be awesome.
3. Don't Ever Antagonise the Horn.

Cool World

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