Berlin-based trio The History of Colour TV are back with the LP ‘Something Like Eternity’. A band whose “dreamy, melodic rock, with tendencies towards darkness & noisy edges” can be heard on previous albums 2012’s ‘When Shapes Of Split Blood Spelt Love’ and 2014’s ‘Emerald Cures Chic Ills’. The first single off the new album, ‘Wreck’, can be sampled below.
The History of Colour TV started out as a solo project, is that right? How did this transform from a solo effort to a trio?
Yes, it started out as a name I used for some music I was making alone at the time – mainly noise-oriented stuff. Some of that evolved and became the first few The History Of Colour TV releases. But I had always been in bands, and never stopped writing songs, etc. And I just kept using the same name even as the music changed and became more song-oriented, by which point it made sense to involve more people and to start playing shows as a band.
Your new album, ‘Something Like Eternity’ is your third LP. How has your artistry as a band changed since your debut?
In the past a lot of time was spent on crafting and shaping the sound of the songs with many effects and post-production techniques. With this record we just decided to record the way the band sounded in rehearsals. It’s a mixture of parameters that leads you to those kinds of decisions. It’s partly the way the line-up evolved, partly the way the songs are written, and the way we then arranged them. Sometimes in the past I might start to record a song before it was fully written, and gradually layers things together. Whereas here we worked a lot more on the songs during rehearsals and shows, and by the time we were ready to make an album, we had known for a while that we were going to record all the songs live and keep things as sparse and honest as we felt we could afford to. It was a very enjoyable approach to take for this record. Though there’s nothing to say we won’t go back to a more ‘processed’ kind of sound in the future.
The first single from ‘Something Like Eternity’, ‘Wreck’, was released a few months ago, what’s been the reaction to it with your fans?
It’s received some amount of airplay. I get the feeling people generally like it, and anyone who doesn’t hasn’t said so yet…
Where do you find inspiration for your songs? From the lyrically dense ones to the sweet ambient tracks like ‘August Twenty First’?
Inspiration comes a lot from reading, and a little from movies and photography, or imagery basically, especially with the newer songs. The lyrics on the first two albums are mostly abstract, mental. I began obsessing with the notion that the new songs should all have a narrative quality to them. At first the idea was for the lyrics to be exclusively descriptions of physical objects, but still somewhat paradoxically about emotions. In the end, there are some descriptions of objects and places in the songs that fulfil that role, but they’re also backdrops for the stories and characters in there. ‘August Twenty First’ is a companion piece to the song ‘Wreck’. If you listen closely, the structures are both exactly the same. The fact that its title is a date situates the action of the story in ‘Wreck’, and the sound of rain provides the notion of location and moment. That’s conceptually really primitive and simple on one hand, but on the other that’s all it can really be – it represents the aftermath of a story that ends pretty bad in ‘Wreck’. An end that is an ending. There are no more words to be spoken after that, or none that can provide any more closure or insight into what it means.
Your LP’s have all had such interesting titles, what’s behind this latest one?
It’s a line from the song, ‘Wait’. “Something like eternity must feel like this.” It makes more sense if you read the lyrics in their entirety, but it’s partly about what it means to try to verbalise something that’s overwhelming, or difficult to grasp. And because several of the songs on the record have that theme woven into them in different ways, it made some sense for that to be the title. I also like the throwaway nature of it, its vagueness, in relation to the epic nature of ‘eternity’, or something like eternity.
I’m loving ‘As Gray As Park Can Be’ right now. It’s like a Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, and Smashing Pumpkins lovechild. Could you talk a little about this song, the story behind it, what went into writing it?
Thank you. It was the first song written for the album. It started out life as that sequence of semi tones and arpeggio motifs. I had some doubts about it, but throughout rehearsals it became more and more dynamic, and more interesting for us to play. The song itself is about the interaction between two people with opposing urges and vulnerabilities, and I think it was written from a place of anger.
Being fans of vinyl – have you bought anything new on wax recently that’s of interest?
I’ve got to admit to going through a period where I’m not listening to much music… Not that there’s not some truly great stuff out there; it’s just a phase.
You had a gig on March 29th at the Maze in Berlin. How would you describe your live experience?
We mostly played the songs from the new album for this show. The way we play the songs live is pretty close to the way we recorded them. That’s what’s interesting for me at this point. Trying to play, and document the band in a way that doesn’t involve to much extra clutter or artifice. Because that’s the reality of it – we’re just three people on a stage or in a studio.
What’s next for you guys, starting to work on new music? Or is it too early for that? More gigs to come, a tour possibly?
All of those things. We’ll be playing a few shows in May with our friends The Prids from Portland, OR. We’re hoping to play a bigger tour after the summer if we can drum up enough interest. And there are a handful of new songs being written. So hopefully there’ll be another album or EP in the future.
Photo credits: Stefanie Walk