worriedaboutsatan are an electronic music duo from Manchester, UK that formed in 2006 in Leeds by Gavin Miller and Tom Ragsdale. Their debut album ‘Arrivals’ was released in 2009 – a record which won much critical acclaim for its slow motion atmospherics and dark, techno infused electronica. In 2010, they released a single, toured Europe, then disappeared. Four years after the hiatus, the band decided to dust off some old demos in their Manchester studio, and re-emerged last year with the pulsing, hypnotic single ‘I’m Not / The Next Round‘. With a newly discovered sense of purpose, and a batch of brand new material recorded and assembled shortly after the single release, ‘Even Temper‘ marks the first full length since their 2009 debut. Taking cues from techno, krautrock, drone and even ’70s prog rock, the album spans a wide range of sounds, all with an underlying thread and intensity. We spoke to Gavin and Tom about their influences and the adventurous life of worriedaboutsatan… and they even prepared a guest mix including delicacies by Edith Progue, Krzysztof Penderecki, Brian Eno, Pendle Coven, Jeff Mills etc.
I bet every time you get started with an interview, the first question is related to your artist name. Even though we should ask Deus about this, my ‘obligatory’ question regarding the name would be… are you worried?
Gavin: Haha, no not really. The name was just a joke initially, but we kinda just went with it because it was so unique and weird.
You met at Leeds College of Music back in 2005. What did you see in each other that made you want to start a project together?
Tom: We had a post rock band before we started worriedaboutsatan, and we had so many similar influences with what we wanted to do musically. In the band we’d focus on how our guitar parts would work together, blending effects and trying to make crazy noises. We both had a massive interest in artists like Autechre and Boards Of Canada, but we kind of felt alone with these ideas being in a post rock band. Gavin had a full album of worriedaboutsatan track finished and when he showed them to me I knew that it’d be something I’d love to join in with.
What were you guys interested in music-wise back then? How much did that change in the last 10 years?
Gavin: We were both really into pretty different stuff, but with a few bands in common. Tom was into techno and drum’n’bass, whereas I was really into post-rock and downtempo electronica. We’d both grown up with indie, rock and metal though, so we both really loved stuff like Deftones, Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, that sort of thing. We’d play each other records we’d discovered though, and we found we had more in common and so we wanted to replicate it in our music a little bit. Over 10 years, it’s not changed much I suppose – you can find us listening to Limp Bizkit just as much as Modeselektor 😉
Parallel to worriedaboutsatan you’ve also been making music with your Ghosting Season project. In 2013 you’ve scored a short film ‘Shell Shocked’ directed by Dominic Brunt. Would you be interested to work more with films in the future?
Tom: Oh, definitely. Writing music for TV and films is something we’ve both enjoyed doing. We’ve had a lot of our music used for TV programmes and it’s a lot of fun working with people who are really into music, but don’t know how to translate their ideas fully.
Do you feel like there’s a pressure when you have to create music for an already existing narrative or it’s more inspiring in your case?
Tom: Definitely both!!! It can be very pressurising, because the reality is that you’re going to be getting paid for your work or you have to please a team of people who have a very definite vision as to what they want to hear. Deadlines can also be very short too, and sometimes there isn’t even a narrative to go on, just an idea or a few keywords. It can be very inspiring though as your options can be limited and focused on specific styles, instruments and time constraints. It’s surprising what you can get out of 5 hours work using only a guitar and a piano.
If you could pick a director, who would you like to work with the most?
Gavin: I reckon Duncan Jones would be cool. He’d get us I think.
‘Even Temper’ is your second full-length release and there was a 6 years break since your first album ‘Arrivals’ on Gizeh. Even though you have been releasing EPs in the meantime and were busy with other projects too, how come it took you so long? Lead us through the creative process.
Tom: Well, we’re very patient people (hence the title ‘Even Temper’) and we believe that some things need time to breathe. Although sometimes it may seem like it, there’s no real mystery behind our music or the methods we use. We just started jamming in the studio one day and decided that what we were working on should be new worriedaboutsatan material. We’d previously had a lot of music industry pushing and shoving with Ghosting Season and it felt incredible to be making music that isn’t dictated by anyone else. We’re hard people to tame, and we really don’t like being told what to do (and what shouldn’t to do), and we value our DIY ‘punk’ aesthetic highly. worriedaboutsatan has been sleeping for a while, but now we’re very much awake.
Could you explain this ‘pushing and shoving’ a bit?
Tom: More in that we felt we were being advised strongly on what to do. Although some of the ideas that were put to us were good ones, we didn’t feel as independent as we have in the past and it felt strange (but amazing) to be solely in charge of the directions we took with our writing. When you have lots of people involved with your music it can take a very different shape to how you first imagined it, and you have to make a strong effort in making sure that you stay true to yourself.
The CD version comes in a recycled card sleeve, with printed tracklisting on the inside, and all individually hand stamped on the outside. You’ve made each and every one by yourselves, so each piece is unique. You seem to care a lot about each and every aspect of your releases.
Gavin: Of course! We love the DIY stuff, but appreciate not everything can be handmade sometimes. To be honest, we’ve just always done it this way – you make a CD and you want to package it how you want it packaged. You make it cost effective, but you give the audience something to hold and think “wow, this is awesome”. There’s nothing less exciting than opening a jewel case CD for the first time! Make it something worth buying, and people might actually buy it!
Do you buy lots of records? What are your favourite formats when it comes to listening?
Tom: Yes, we do indeed buy a lot of music!!! It probably takes up most of our time and money. We’re not so much focused on formats though, more on quality of the music.
Back in 2008, one of your tracks ‘Morwenna (Part 2) was even featured in ‘Coronation Street’, UK’s longest-running soap. If you could pick a show you like for a track from your new album, which one would that be?
Gavin: Good question! I can imagine some of it in Game of Thrones or something – like a badass sword fight with Arya or something like that. That’d be pretty cool.
You live in Manchester, how is the electronic music scene over there these days?
Tom: Pretty varied to be honest. There’s something for everyone, from classic house to chiptune, we got it.
GUEST MIX by WORRIEDABOUTSATAN
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