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Interviews

Thieves Like Us answer the Questions of Doom

Thieves Like us. Jesus. Can a band write better pop songs? No.... their albums contain flashes of utter pop brilliance, and yet their latest release on Captured Tracks truly demonstrates their Thieves Like Us' chameleonic ability to change and synthesise everything from FM Radio rock, Strokes guitar pop, disco and wrap it in a cool protest tracks like . Really feel that their pop aesthetic that they have been mining for nine years has come to fruition with latest release, it is an urgency of pure, anthemic electro-pop. It's clever, but not so clever that it annoys. It kinda puts you in a John Hughes state of mind and you'll involuntarily flash into a movie with each song.

What is the greatest secret of Thieves Like Us?

Well honestly, as a European / American band living all over and playing all over we have had to bypass, hustle, and trick our way through immigration checkpoints for years. It makes you crazy and paranoid. We try not to do that anymore. I can’t mention specifics, now, but there were some pretty crazy stunts we had to pull.

Is the name a tribute to the Altman film or the New Order song?

Probably both.

A friend in a band has a conspiracy theory that you should never name yourself after a movie, or a song.  I feel that Thieves Like Us broke ‘the tradition’ do you feel the same way as well?

Well there is a kind of advantage in naming yourself after a popular film or song. Thieves Like Us has a familiar ring to the public ears. People often think they know us already, when in fact they probably only heard the title of the film somewhere. It’s a pop name. It’s easy to remember. It sticks in your head. All positives. The negative: we are stuck with this New Order link, forever. And, well, we aren’t that into New Order. I think we were a bit into Factory stuff when we started. Other than the use of a chorus pedal on our guitar, I fail to hear any similarites between New Order and Thieves Like Us. Music journalists are still making a comparison. I hope it will go away. I’m a bit tired of answering this question. Do you think Nick Heyward was asked over and over about the origins of the name Haircut 100? Probably not.

Your video for Bleed Bleed Bleed is kinda bizarre—what theatrical elements about the video do you feel provides the narrative for the song?

Well, those images were appropriated from the Paul Mayersberg (he wrote the Man Who Fell To Earth) film CAPTIVE. Three terrorists kidnap a rich girl and “liberate her”. The kidnapping scene in the beginning is great, it looks like some kind of fairy tale. The terrorists kind of un-brainwash her. Bleed Bleed Bleed is sort of an abstract report on small people being mislead and taken advantage of by their government. When I visit my family there in the states, I see that the average person seems sort of lost, confused, and hopeless. Birth, work and consumption, death. I guess we were hoping we could un-brainwash a few young people.

You’ve cited some hefty lyrical themes: ‘Citing economic peril, over-militarization and technology’, are you trying to make people dance and think?

When we wrote the songs I think we were feeling rather pessimistic. I consider it a report on the state of the world.  I am not hearing too much political dance music (outside of Reggae and Hip Hop) and I am not hearing to much political indie. While we don’t want to force our views on anyone, it would great to just get a few young brains ticking.

You’ve repeated use of the font and photographs for album covers is intriguing, what artistic template did you base your run of album covers on?
   
I guess our cover photos are a little homage to Roxy Music. There is a continuous theme of distress in the late night hours. Our Swedish designer friends (Konst and Teknik) Just came up with the logo and the marquee. Very direct. This is a obviously a Thieves Like Us cover.

You’ve said ‘finally someone who understands us’, when you released for Captured Tracks.  What was it about their aesthetic that drew you onto the label?

Mike Sniper had the Cure’s Disintegration reissue in his top ten list for 2010. That album had a huge impact on me sonically. It’s like my number one album. It is pretty reassuring when you know that your label has the same tastes as you. They won’t tell you to turn down the delay or phase. They like pop but they like esoteric stuff too. CT is sort of like a club for misfits (with a huge sense of humour). Oh, and we were both using the backslash / in our logos as well.

For an electronic outfit, you’ve avoided the musical ‘meme’ of non stop remixes.  Do you feel that the remix is dead?

Well, we are happy to release our stems to the public so they can make remixes. It’s pretty cool to see your songs transformed by fans and young producers. But, in general we were never that into remixing or remixes. I don’t know. We’re not into hanging out in clubs so how can we produce club remixes.

What do you think the greatest misconception of Thieves Like Us?

Ah, well Drugs In Body kind of put us into the club and electro circuit, so I think we’ve been associated that scene ever since.  Like I said we aren’t really club people. We are really totally the opposite.  I look at LASTFM page and see the artists they list as similar to us and they are all bands we really dislike (electro / bubblegum).  I’m afraid this mislabel has maybe scared off a lot of the people we would like to be reaching.  Hopefully Bleed Bleed Bleed will change that some. We like making dance-able music, but we don’t like music which is only for dancing.

In a recent interview you stated you are recording ‘a lot of cover songs’ - are you planning a covers album?

I think we would like to just release a covers mix tape for free. Some artists will hopefully be Sade. Nazareth. Matumbi. House of Love.

What music should we be checking out?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Mick Farren and the Deviants (he wrote for International Times, check out that magazine if you can). I also went through the five Byrds/Clarence White records and there are some amazing tunes there. And Jah Shaka is really great too.