Caspian interview (Philip Jamieson)

"If people seem excited about the set, we will play for as long as we possibly can before collapsing. That's a promise"

10/01/2014 @ 13:06
Some days before Caspian's live performances in Greece, Philip Jamieson chatted with us about their music, their future, his points of view, post-rock, his tastes in general and several things about the band.

CaspianHello there, I am Theodosis from , with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?
This is Phil here.

First of all, we are really sorry about your loss. But tell me how does the loss of Chris affects you.
Phil: Chris was our bass player but more than that he was a close friend and like a brother to all of us. We miss him all of the time more than words can ever explain.

Tell me, how was that tribute to Chris concert at Manchester?
Phil: It was many things. It was a level of emotion we've never experienced before as people and as a band and at times it was very difficult to perform some of the songs, but the support and presence of our friends and family made it possible and the feeling of solidarity was never higher for our community. I'm very proud of everyone in the band for playing that show and being able to celebrate Chris in the only way really knew how to.

Caspian - Hymn For The Greatest GenerationWho is the new member, if there is one already? Are you planning to keep Jon as a full time member?
Phil: Our friend Jani Zubkovs, the former bass player for Sainthood Reps - an indie rock band from Long Island that we've been friends with since 2010. He's  now our full time member. Jon wasn't able to tour as much as we needed but we are still very close and talk all of the time. Jon is helping Jani learn a lot of the old material as we speak.

How was your tour with HIM? What's your opinion about them, and their music.
Phil: They were all incredibly cool and friendly people and they treated us like part of the family. They have a level of professionalism that was very inspiring to us and we learned a lot being in that kind of environment. As for music, it's hard to be objective about a band's music when you're on tour with them every day and see them play every single night. They are exceptional musicians and put on a really solid show and we have a lot of respect for every member of that band.

CaspianWhich was the coolest band, you've ever toured with?
Phil: That's really hard to say. We've toured with so many amazing bands full of amazing people that I could never pick just one. Minus The Bear is one of my favorite bands of all time so that was especially awesome I guess. We've been really lucky to never share the road with a band we didn't get along well with or end up respecting on a deep level.
Describe your sound to those who aren't familiar with your music?
Phil: These days I just tell people that we're like modern classic music performed by a rock band without a singer. It's very loud, emotionally intense and almost cinematic to an extent.

How do you separate improvisation and composition?
Phil: We don't improvise much live since the structures are so specific and require a lot of focus from us. Composing usually ends up being an extension of improvising for us.
CaspianHow did you start making music?
Phil: I started jamming with a friend of mine in high school in the basement of our church playing drums and guitar, covering Led Zeppelin songs every Friday night. We'd play our own little shows to nobody but had the time of our lives. I started writing in college and started getting very serious about writing after graduating.
What are your primary influences and why you decide to go to the instrumental way?
Phil: I picked up a guitar because of Jimmy Page back in high school. I saw a video of him playing and immediately connected with it on a gut level. Caspian decided to be instrumental after we performed our first show without a vocalist and decided we felt comfortable communicating this kind of way instead.
Which are your favorite instrumental post-rock bands.
Phil: Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
How easy or difficult is to perform this kind of songs, live?
Phil: At this point it isn't especially difficult since we've played most of these songs over 200 times now haha, but it does take a certain mindset and mental balance to play them with the kind of emotional conviction they require. Getting to that place before we step on stage can be the most difficult part about it.
CaspianWho leads those interludes of transitional improv in your sets?
Phil: I do most of the time.
Do you see live performances from other artists? If so, who was the last band/artist you went to see live?
Phil: I saw Torche last weekend and they were absolutely incredible. So heavy but clean and powerful.
Do you have positive or negative feedback from illegal downloading? Is this promoting your work, or not?
Phil: Illegal downloading definitely takes value away from music and makes it more disposable. It feeds into peoples dwindling attention spans and makes records less of an event and something important. That said, it's pretty obvious that when we show up at a concert on any given night, half the people are there because they've had easier access to our music through downloading or programs like Spotify, etc. If it gets people in the door at the end of the day then so be it and we can't complain. I think expecting the music business to go back in time to when people payed for records is probably not realistic and we've all got to play ball sadly.
Philip Jamieson (Caspian)What we have to expect from you, in the upcoming live performances on 15-16 of January?
Phil: Lots of new material, and songs from all 5 of our records for sure. If people seem excited about the set, we will play for as long as we possibly can before collapsing. That's a promise.
Do you know any greek bands?
Phil: I know and I think that's about it unfortunately. Looking forward to learning about more of them while we're there hopefully.
Are you planning a new album in 2014?
Phil: We'll begin writing a new album this year definitely but I wouldn't expect it to be released until 2015. It is hard to say this early on in the process.
Is the new album a big departure from what you’ve done previously?
Phil: Once again it's hard to tell. We always want to push things forward with every release without compromising what we do naturally and whatever makes us feel good. I don't think it will be a complete sea-change musically but hopefully we discover something feels fresh for us and the audience alike.
Caspian"Hymn For The Greatest Generation" sounds sweeter than your previous jobs... Are you planning to go this way or you prefer to go back to noisier situations?
Phil: I think there will be a little bit of both, though personally I'd like to bring some of the heavier elements back into play and combine them with the softer experiments we did on this recent EP and some of Waking Season. Could be interesting to see what happens when we give these things a little bit more teeth. As always, we will just do whatever feels right when we're creating and take it from there.
You already use voice samples, are there any plans of using real vocals in the future?
Phil: If the songs calls for it, absolutely. The vocal parts on the last record were all real vocals, doubled with electronic Vocoder processing.
What are some of your favorite all-time films?
Phil: Wow that's a tough one. The New World, Pulp Fiction, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather Part 2, Buffalo 66 the list could go on just forever.
CaspianWhich is your favorite TV show?
Phil: The Sopranos. By far the greatest TV drama of all time. Breaking Bad and The Wire are also phenomenal on every level.
Can you describe your typical day?
Phil: Lots of coffee and cigarettes in the morning. Lately I enjoy cooking and taking long walks after dinner down to the Ocean, before either meeting up with people and hanging out or hibernating in my apartment and watching a movie or writing music.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Phil: Being outside, catching up on things and with people I've missed from being gone on tour all of the time.
Which was the best album of 2013?
Phil: Tim Hecker - "Virgins".
Thanks a lot. See you soon.
Phil: Thank you! See you in less than a month now!

Theodosis Genitsaridis