The news came as a shock yesterday for the 3rd long awaited album by best kept secret in the u/g circles, Have A Nice Life. 5 years after ‘The Unnatural World‘, ‘Sea of Worry’ will drop on November 8 to fill the holy triad. I decided to ‘unbury’ this long gone interview (only the translated in Greek version was published on (rip) www.tranzistor.gr), when their magnum opus ‘Deathconsciousness‘ dropped. So, for the first ever time there it is in its original glory, get on board while the time capsule will transfer you in late 2008! This is Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga. Ladies & Gents, Have A Nice Life!
Please introduce yourselves to our readers. Who are H.A.N.L.? Where does the band name come from?
D: Have A Nice Life consists of Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga.
T: It was the most authoritarian band name we could think of. Not that we actually subscribe to authoritarian politics. But, every artist, in some way or another, commands something of their audience.
Your debut album ‘Deathconsciousness’ received an exceptionally high critical acclaim from mags, zines, music blogs & e-press. Did you expect it & how do you explain it?
D: We certainly did not expect it. We never thought anyone would hear the record. No one knew who we were, and we had no expectations beyond giving copies away to friends, which is how this whole thing got started. As for explanation, I can’t, really. The right place at the right time, maybe. We sent records to people we like, and those people passed it on, and those people passed it on. There was no advertising, just word of mouth, which is how we prefer to do things.
Which are the basic inspirations & influences in the making of ‘Deathconsciousness’?
T: When we were in the thick of the project, I was living out in the forest by a lake, and in the dead of winter, the layers of ice would compress in on themselves and let out this wailing groaning noise.
D: Pretty much that. Lots of Sisters of Mercy. What we are and what we feel goes directly into the music. It is a snapshot of a time and place.
What is your opinion about Joy Division & My Bloody Valentine? Have you heard their records?
T: I bought a copy of Unknown Pleasures as a teenager, Loveless soon after. The praise they get is quite valid.
D: Both high water marks for their respective genres and huge influences, obviously. All good music needs a sense of “fuck-you”, a kind of spite, and both of those bands have it.
You are both young people. Where does your pessimism come from? Is it a matter of style?
T: The plays of Anton Chekhov, perhaps? I dunno. Generally speaking, our region of the country is noted for its grumpiness.
D: There’s no such thing as pessimism. The world is the way it is, all the time. I don’t consider us pessimistic. We just do what we do because no one else will do it if we don’t.
Why did you print only 500 copies of it & not more? Was/ is there any label (indie or even major) interest for releasing the record? How did the cooperation with the professor for the booklet come to life?
D: Originally only 100 copies were “pressed” – remember, these were all CD-R’s, copied one at a time on my computer, hand-painted, etc. As the record got more and more popular I was forced to spend more and more of my time putting everything together. Which was great, but then again, I had no time to work on music. It got to a point where I knew I could not continue the current mode of production and keep up with demand, so we just moved it to a digital copy so the record could circulate but we could get back to working on other projects (like the Nahvalr record). Deathconsciousness will be physically re-released this year with tUMULt records, however.
As for the collaboration on the book, it’s fairly simple – we asked. I’m working on a study of the author’s other published material at the moment, but it’s not a priority so who knows when that’ll be done.
Which are your favorite bands for the time being? Any acts (underground/ unsigned mainly) we should be aware of?
T: I’m currently enjoying Coldworld’s recent output; it’s simple and sad. America Addio and Afterlives deserve everyone’s attention, too.
D: We obviously are way into the other bands on the label. I really enjoy the band Elm. Lately I have been listening to a lot of Hank Williams and medieval choral music.
Which are your favorite movies, books, records of all time. Please give 2 answers separately (Dan- Tim)
T: I’ll keep it brief. Films: Boogie Nights, La Dolce Vita. Books: Breakfast of Champions, Fear & Trembling. Records: Thelonious Monk Septet – Monk’s Music, Black Flag – Live 1984, Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures.
D: Jesus. Movies – Le Samourai, Rushmore. Books: Tropic of Cancer, Story. Records: The Queen Is Dead, Floodland.
Do you think that the Barack Obama leadership will change things in U.S.A. or even globally?
T: He’s a man of certain intellectual rigor, which is nice. Progressive or conservative politics aside, I’ve had it with the “six pack” mentality in government that Americans have grown to prize,especially over the past few decades. Representing ourselves on the international stage as obnoxious yahoo idiots and assholes hasn’t been helpful. For anyone. On any issue. Of course Kennedy, whom Obama is often compared to, was responsible for his share of foreign policy disasters, so I’m not expecting miracles. But yeah, having someone well-spoken and well-read out there is a move in the right direction, at least.
If a record label offered you 1.000.000 $ for a contract, but you had to alter your music style to emo, would you do it?
T: No, because chances are if we’re getting approached like that, Enemies List would, in this hypothetical scenario, have high enough visibility to sustain itself. Since we’re interested in owning our means of production, that sustainability is preferable. I’m sure deals like that aren’t made in a vacuum – the big labels aren’t charities picking bands out of a no-future gutter; they’re acting opportunistically on potential – which they can, in fact, be correct about sometimes (the Beach Boys, Prince, Tom Waits, etc.) Might as well do things on your own terms.
Future plans, gigs etc. for H.A.N.L. Would you visit Greece for a gig?
T: We’re working on a piece called The Devil. It’s not an ironic title. It’s going to give people problems. Tiredness, anxiety, general physical and metaphysical malaise.
D: Basically we have two separate albums currently being written. We work at our own pace, which is very gradual, so I don’t know when they will be done, but I’d like to release something in 2009. Who knows. We want to play live, but our schedules have precluded it up until this point and I’m not willing to do it unless I know it’s good. It’s a goal, though.
Anything else you would like to add?
D: ENEMIES LIST HOME RECORDINGS has several releases planned for this year, including reissues of Deathconsciousness, the debut by my acoustic project, and records from Afterlives and American Addio, as well as possibly a choral disc written by Tim and I. We are all over the place and writing all the time, and if anyone is interested they can see what we are doing at www.enemieslist.net. Thanks.
[The translated in Greek interview was initially published on now defunct music webzine www.tranzistor.gr, late 2008]