Tweed Magazine was a music and politics zine founded by angsty teenagers in 1997. It survived in one form or another until 2007. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Here are some of our most popular articles.

Web   Tweed  
Brooklyn NY

  • 2:16:08 pm
  • Saturday
  • 25 May 2024

First Aid Kit Interview

FAK have just completed their new record Frights and Shivers, due out July 27th on Said Sew Recordings with a release show that night at the VFW Hall on 904 Bank Street in Waterbury CT.

If you’re quick you can check them out live on Kid Analog’s WHUS 91.7 show tonight at 9:00pm ET. Tweed conducted this interview back in April for Issue 12.

What are your musical influences? I’m sure a lot of you have varied ones, and perhaps they contradict each other...

JAMES: None of us really listen to the same bands, it’s kinda strange. Well we do, but the ones that most influence us are really different. Like Brad’s Dinosaur Junior guy. One of my favorite bands is Dillinger Escape plan. I like Metallica. And there’s just some other strange influences.

BRAD: As far as actual influences, there’s no real emulation going on. I think it works at a subconscious level, but we’re not trying to be like anything specifically. I think we just play for each other.

JP: For a while now we’ve felt that the most disgusting thing we could do is just imitate something, just completely rip something off, or even just adopt a sound without knowing it, because someone else did it first and did it well. We could certainly be categorized and lumped with other bands, I think that is unavoidable, but it’s not our intention to fit any particular format.

Fair enough. You guys seem to be pretty good friends, how important is that to the band? How integral is it that you guys get along and have fun?

NICK: I think it’s pretty important. I know we all have busy schedules, James being up in Boston, and me working full time, and these guys being at school, we don’t hang out as much as I’d like to. A lot of times we’ll get to practice and find that we’re joking around a little more than we’re actually playing and stuff. We try to keep things light hearted I think.

JAMES: The most important thing to me is having fun with it. I just have fun playing with them.

BRAD: Yea, definitely.

NICK: I never really understood bands that weren’t friends anyway. It just doesn’t make sense. What are you going to do? Go there, play your music, go home, and it’s just a job? That’s stupid.

JP: It’s one thing to take your music seriously, but if you get to the point where you take yourself too seriously it’s just a joke. If you’re so frustrated by stupid shit that you can’t have a good time, there’s no point.

You guys played that show at UConn which had an anti-war theme to it. Do you consider First Aid Kit a political band? Are there specific opinions you like to express as a group?

JP: We’re definitely not political. I guess if we split hairs over the term “political” we could apply that to ourselves somewhat. But the point of that show wasn’t to lump ourselves with a cause and say “fuck the war.” The point was to help people speak their opinion and get informed about important things they might not know about. So many people are concerned with looking stupid by asking questions. I think people are too afraid to say either “I have an opinion”, or “I’m not educated enough to have an opinion.” You should be able to say either one.

JAMES: I actually agree with JP on this.

JP: Woa.

JAMES: It’s a big responsibility, to come out and state an opinion through a band. A band like Propagandhi, they come out with pretty extreme opinions, and you see a whole bunch of kids will listen to their CD and just adapt to the opinion, just assimilate it, and so you really have to be responsible with what you say. You can’t just come out and say “the American government is stupid” or something like that without having real information backing it up. Very few bands do that. And I appreciate the fact that JP abstracts it more to main ideas and things he sees wrong with society as oppose to pointing out specific events and going on about them. Like the Beastie Boys put out that song just about war and pretty much called Bush stupid and I think that’s silly.

You should promote the idea of educating yourself and even educating yourself on the opposing side. You rarely see that in music. If you’re against the war you should go out and read National Review and hear what the people for the war are saying. You don’t get anything like that with most political bands. It’s a shame.

NICK: I’ve been in bands before that use themselves as a vehicle for political ideas and it’s refreshing to be with people who are more about the music and just having a good time. Being tight as a unit, rather than trying to spread ideas. I like playing music with these guys and that’s what it’s about for me.

How would you describe First Aid Kit’s music?

JP: Let me restate for the record what Nick said earlier. Brad came to practice today with this new part that we all think is pretty cool....

I thought it was cool too. [Band laughs]

JP: Thanks. And Brad’s like “Well, it’s only one thing so far and it might be kind of hard to work with...” And then Nick says, “I know what you should do next. Do something in sevens. I just did something in sevens... It’s fucked!” [Band laughs] Basically that sums up a lot about us a group. We like not knowing how to handle something and then figuring it out.

So you guys really like to experiment with beats?

BRAD: Yeah. I think we also prefer to experiment with rhythms and stuff as appose to effects. I’m just not into that. I like what we can do with raw sounds and the basic elements of rock music. I like how the product turns out so much more when you approach it from that angle.

Do you think a lot of bands have rhythms that suck?

BRAD: No. [Laughs] That’s not what I’m saying... This sounds dumb, you can take this out [of the interview], but I have this Away-Message that says “Repetition is the opposite of renewal, therefore it’s a form of death.”

JAMES: Uh... You just mentioned Away-Messages in our interview.

JP: Yea, he’s such a fucking loser! [Laughter]

BRAD: Whatever man. [Laughs] I just prefer something new to something that we’ve tried before. It’s just so much more fun than dumbing it down I guess.

JP: We definitely like experimenting with new things. Sometimes that leads us to really simple solutions and we’re just like “Wow... That’s perfect even though it’s so simple.” So sometimes experimenting leads us down a path we didn’t aspire to, but it’s really refreshing.

NICK: To add to that refreshing thing, correct me if I’m wrong, but none of us are “trained” musicians. [Band laughs] We never took lessons. I think it’s really neat to get, dare I say “talented” musicians. I think these guys are great guitar players and Brian is an amazing drummer and JP’s a good vocalist too obviously. [Laughs] To get a bunch of talented musicians all in a room that have evolved their own styles by figuring out music on their own... That’s what I meant with not having the same influences. We throw all these different styles together and it just comes out weird.

How do people react to your music?

NICK: We got feedback from people on tour who would say “Oh I really liked you guys, but I just don’t understand some of the time changes”

JAMES: I love when people say they don’t get the time changes, that’s my favorite. [Band laughs] It’s like my obsession with Dillinger, I love every time they have a new CD, you can listen to one of their songs and be like “what the hell was that?”, and have no idea what you just listened to, but as you listen to it more you figure out the changes. You figure out what the parts are and how things overlap. How they change parts. When you’re changing from nonsense to nonsense again, how do you do that? It’s really interesting to me. We obviously aren’t an insane metal band like they are, but it’s still pretty cool to throw people off when possible. Especially if they aren’t familiar with the songs.

BRAD: I think we try to have an overall flow. We don’t want to make ridiculous parts for the sake of having ridiculous parts. We’ve definitely done that before and it’s interesting just because it’s ridiculous, but if it doesn’t fit and flow then it’s just garbage.

JAMES: Of course. Yes.

BRAD: If it’s just technicality for the sake of technicality it looses the point of music in general to me. It’s first and foremost about general rhythm. It’s not a math equation, you know? People have this term “Math Rock” for that kind of stuff and I think it’s disgusting. I don’t want to associate mathematics with music ever, I think that’s revolting.

Any last words about First Aid Kit or the scene in general?

JAMES: We only write our own parts for a song. Brad and I rarely play the same thing on guitar. It’s fun. Some bands have just one songwriter doing all the parts, but I think this is more interesting and creative.

JP: Yea, definitely. Also, no one should ask for permission to be in a band. If you want to do it, do what you want to do and hopefully some people like it. Hopefully you keep doing it. But it doesn’t matter. There’s no permission slip to sign, you know?

BRIAN: Some people treat it that way so its a point worth making.

JP: We see a lot of people who like our music and a lot who don’t, and that’s fine. We’re having fun doing it and that’s the main thing.

To get in touch with First Aid Kit shoot an email to band AT firstaidmusic DOT com.

Stewart Smith
Tuesday, 22 July 2003

Related Articles

Recent News

Grab Bag

Tweed Magazine
© Copyright 1997–2024 Tweed Media
Tweed Magazine content report:
2024-05-25 14:16:08
Robb Nansel, Regina Spektor, Bright Eyes, Robb Nansel, Conor Oberst, Iran, Robb Nansel, music, Kurt Cobain, antiwar, End report.