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THE BODY Interview: "We Don't See 'Heavy' Music As Strictly Being A Metal Thing"

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As I write this it’s mid May and daylight will be cutting through the curtains in a few hours. The light is staying longer and longer but it’s the perfect time to be listening to I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer by The Body. The hum and melancholy of “Last Form of Loving” is pouring through my speakers and everything is feeling in place.

Following up on 2016’s incredible No One Deserves Happiness, The Body have continued to mold their sound into something even more devastating, gorgeous and terrifying. Balancing ambience, aggressiveness, pop, classical, electronic, noise, industrial, and metal, they’ve continued to carve out something wholly unique once more. As a whole, The Body’s discography is, and will continue to be, without peer.

Being offered a chance to interview drummer Lee Buford, I couldn’t say no. Talking their latest release, pop music, scene inclusiveness, literature, band progression, and more. If you haven’t heard I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer, then hit the play button below, and continue reading.

The Body has no bones about its darker aspects; the depressive merchandise and sometimes suicidal phrasings I think catapult the moods you create. It’s present even when the music isn’t playing in an immediate vicinity. And the artwork to this latest record really sets the precedent for what the listener is in for. But this record is incredibly dark. Gorgeous, but nonetheless, draped in gloom. Was there any specific push that put you in this direction or just the natural progression of things?

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I think it was just the natural progression, we worked on it for so long that I think it would've been hard to kinda shoot for any concept that wasn't just how we were feeling while we were recording. I'd like to say that we're gifted musically and know exactly what we're doing before we go in to the studio but we just kind of go where things take us. The plus side of that though is at least it's an honest reflection of how we feel.

I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer is a much more industrial record than previous entries. Back when A Home on Earth came out late last year, I kinda figured that might be a teaser to an upcoming album in a way. But instead it was a very raw, noisy release and nothing like that at all. Did A Home on Earth come together suddenly, or was it something you had been working on for a while?

Home On Earth was very spontaneous. We actually wrote those songs and recorded them in about 5 hours. We booked a day after we finished mixing I Have Fought Against It and tried to see how many songs we could write and record in that day. It was fun to go back to the old way of doing things after recording so much using samples and programming.

I know I’m not alone when I say this, but No One Deserves Happiness was probably the easiest record you made to digest. Was there a desire to shy away from the pop influence of the previous album, or is this just a natural step?

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I think it's a natural step. I think this one is actually the most accessible, the songs are shorter and don't utilize the more "heavy" aspects we usually use. I feel like the subject matter is a lot darker but the delivery seems easier to get into.

There’s a literary influence to a lot of your music, especially on this record. Virginia Woolf, Federico García Lorca, Clarice Lispector, and Bohumil Hrabal can all be found on here. Are there ever times when you feel overwhelmed by poetry or prose that it has an almost direct influence on a song, or is it largely complimentary? I recall “Alone All the Way” from I Shall Die Here really setting a tone with its excerpt from The Suicide Tourist (a film, but outside influence regardless) and bringing on the bleakness.

I think it's complimentary. everyone has something they've read or heard and felt like that was an exact depiction of what they're going through and felt some deep connection to it. I've always been on the hunt for people or things that i could relate to and kind of make some sense of how i saw the world and what my place was in it. All the literary references are a kind of homage to that and also it's hugely influential to us. When we first started we'd use a lot more samples so I think we're always in that mindset of what else could express this from an outside source.

Music, most often in my observation, seems to be comprised of two aspects: sadness or love. It’s a gross generality but anyone who spends a reasonable amount of time around pop radio (raises hand) can attest to this. In fact, Sean Nelson (Harvey Danger) once wrote that “happiness writes white,” a statement that seems true for most music. The Body doesn’t shy away from depressive/suicidal themes. Do expressing these feelings personally help either of you get through things or carry through life? Catharsis is an actual, successful purge, though many artists never really shake what ails them.

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I think it is cathartic for sure. there's a beauty to making something with your friends, in the actual physical tactile way of making records but also in the process of coming together to create something with people you love. In our case it's even more apropos because I think most of our subject matter deals with the idea of loss and the feeling of where we belong in  the world. I guess if we don't accomplish anything else we're a testament to stubbornly carving out a life that is so dependent on our friendship and the friendships we have with the people we work with and surround ourselves with.

I think one of the most powerful aspects of the new album is the collaboration with Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota). How was it working with her? She turns “Nothing Stirs” into an even more harrowing piece as it swells and, well, marches on.

Kristin is the best, musically and personally. I think she's kind of in the same boat as us where you can't really put her in this category or that category so she's a kindred spirit in that regard. She also has the same background, of being into the more traditional "metal or heavy" stuff but has taken that to a different place musically. In the studio she's great, it's crazy how fast she does stuff. You listen to it in playback and assume that she must've taken forever to record something so perfect but it's usually 1 or 2 takes.

You’ve said before that you don’t want to be associated with metal, but that’s also the kind of crowd you seem to bring in. And I don’t blame you in a lot of ways. I’ve done the idiotic thing and “read the comments” on metal websites. But do you feel the band is somewhat rooted in metal? There’s an inherent heaviness that carries across releases, most commonly associated with the genre. Then again, there’s heavy EDM out there too. Or is this more personal journey, sound exploration and the pushing of boundaries? And furthermore, where do you see The Body in modern music today? Or in the future?

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We're definitely rooted in metal, that's where we came from and where we found the most acceptance then and now, the issues we have is what drew us in to metal is disappearing. When we were both growing up punk and metal affected us because it was so foreign and tried to push itself farther out there. It seems like it's more of a nostalgia thing now, people never got to see these bands so they just make bands that sound like them, which is great to a degree, but when that becomes the norm it's problematic. I think what separates us from a lot of people is we don't see "heavy" music as strictly being a metal thing or that is has to adhere to the classic rock band lineup to constitute heaviness. I think the heaviest stuff we've done is with Chrissy singing over chip droning or her singing over strings with no drums at all. I think we focus more on saying what we need to say and not necessarily how we say it. The message takes precedence over the delivery. I honestly don't know where i see us. I think a lot of people who originally liked us don't like where we are now and I think a lot of people don't like the message, which is understandable on both fronts. I'd like to think that people who deal with the stuff we address hopefully find some solace in it and will continue to.  

 I’ve always thought it awesome how versatile The Body’s style is. It sometimes feels like a blueprint that’s open to anything. So, I’m curious, if you could collaborate with a particular artist or set of artists (dead or alive), who would you pick? Personally, I’d be interested what you could pull off with Hank III or Nick Cave.

I don't know, there's so many people that we'd love to work with. I feel like we're pretty lucky where whatever idea we have we know someone who can pull it off. I think if we had to pick someone it would be someone from an entirely different place musically. I think those are the most rewarding collaborations, the ones where you have no idea where the meeting point will be.

Bouncing off that question, I’m curious if there’s musical territory you’d ever be uncomfortable charting under the moniker of The Body? Or perhaps just personally?

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I don't think so. I thought we wouldn't be able to have a dancehall influence on this record but i think we (hopefully) pulled it off. I think that's what keeps us going after so many years. We're not tied to any set way of doing things and I think by now people have kind of accepted that that's what they're in store for.

Knowing that the band are big fans of pop music, what’s something you’d like to see more prevalent in the genre? I think it’s true that what’s popular in the underground slowly bleeds into the mainstream, but is there something that you think is under-appreciated that deserves more attention?

I think the underground needs to learn more from pop music actually. The biggest things that have happened lately in pop are Beyonce at Coachella, Cardi B, and Taylor Swift on tour with Charli XCX and Camila Cabello. I'd like to see that level of inclusiveness at the underground level. I understand the irony of this but does the world need more white guys playing riffs? Probably not.

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