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Interview: HEALTH

Interview: HEALTH We’ve been keeping track of LA-based HEALTH since their LP landed in our laps four years ago. It’s the Cali-kraut response to the Brooklyn drum circle, or the tribal din to The Klaxons’ pop-perfect studio chemistry. You be the judge, or else we will… Anyway, we teamed up with members John and Jacob after their amazing live gig at the Berlin Festival earlier this month: to see HEALTH is to believe them. It’s no wonder that they have been touring non-stop and have no plans to slow down anytime soon.

Electronic Beats: What do you think good music journalism is about?
John: Well, actually I think good journalism is about stories and making up stuff. For example Hunter Thompson: half of that shit he was just making up, but it was great stuff to read.
Jacob: Yes, definitely. Writers need to make up more again, because there are always the same interviews going round, while it should be entertaining.

Lets’s have a classical second question: How did you get in touch with music?
John: When I was younger, I listened to a lot of punk. Before that I didn’t like music at all, but when I turned thirteen I got into the Dead Kennedys and their music drove me crazy. It literally made me nuts, I would have done everything for it. The power and speed in punk absorbed me totally and changed me into “music is the most important thing in my life”. Bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat were already old at that time, but it still kicks ass. You can feel this crazy energy and constant anger in it. When you went to a show and felt all those people going mad, you just keep one thing in mind: this is the truth, this is real.
Jacob: I have a musical background in my family and punk rock was the reason to me to start with the guitar. My favorites were John Waiter, afro punk and classic rock. Recently I was watching this documentary about music, I don’t remember the exact words but basically somebody was saying that he had music around him all the time. Like all other artists the musician distances himself from the world, so of course there are a number of things he can’t deal with. My idea of music is to go to a show, to freak out and enjoy the music. Or coming home and putting on the loudest records you have. Listening to music is kind of an extension to being a kid.

I’ve just seen the successful results of this socialization one hour ago. How did you guys meet?
John: Jacob and me were working in Guitar Center in Hollywood.
Jacob: That was really weird. When you live in LA, you definetely need a job and when you are into music and gear, the job in the guitar shop should fit to the whole plan. But then you get the job there and it turns out to be the worst place on earth and in this very moment, when everything seems to be hopeless, you meet one person, you get along with. Beyond that, me and Jupiter met in college and were already looking for people to start a band.
John: It was a terrible job. But at least I met John and I recognized him for not being a casual douchebag. Finally we got the drummer via craigslist.

Wasn’t Craigslist shut down for some days recently?
John: I don’t think so, they just needed to build an extra section on the site, where 45 year old, white, frustrated, sex-free males can meet. It seems to be retarded, because it’s so easy to fuck people on the internet. Why should you go through this classification system? Anyway I think you shouldn’t get girls via craigslist.
Jacob: Well, if you’re gay, it is way easier with craigslist.
John: A lot of technological inventions, and here especially the internet, made it way easier to get laid. And because it so easy to get laid now, we made a huge personal and important change within ourselves, which leads automatically to the different sound in our music.

What about your show? I read something about a self-produced internet series?
John: Well, kind of. Actually we wanted to do a short movie about us. We have many friends, working for film industry, who would be down to work with us for free. While touring we made some crazy promotion for the gigs in each town and some of them are very funny and strange at the same time.
Jacob: Also we already scripted a lot for the show, but up to now, we didn’t have the time for this project.
John: We aim to make a high-value concept show, shot very cinemtaically with a lot of those different snippets we already have, but it takes too much time and we need to concentrate on our album.
Jacob: In the end we would put it online, it would wash for two or three seconds and then disappear in the content rush. And we would burst into tears. So, definitely the record comes first.

What’s the deal between you and The Crystal Castles?
Jacob: They started during the grimewave rush a few years ago and they’re really really good friends of ours. We mutually loved each others music when we met on MySpace. I sent them an email, that was even before any of us released an album or went touring.

Let’s get back to the internet in general. What’s your opinion: pro or con?
John: We’re a young band, so definitely pro. As a band we only exist because of the internet. The whole distribution and that we can play in all these crazy countries is only because of the internet.
Jacob: We’re post-MySpace, means we didn’t exist in this constellation before MySpace. HEALTH is a DIY noise band; we booked our own tours, printed our own t-shirts, played in basements and warehouses and house parties, lofts and every possible other location.
John: But all of this was facilitated because of the internet. We booked all tours via MySpace, but I have never booked one single gig via Facebook. Fuck Facebook.

There’s a lot of fresh music coming from LA, why’s that?
John: America is always good for that. Compared to the Europeans the Americans have a lot of angst. Here people are always dressed well, they are good looking, they benefit from social care. But with angst you can produce a lot of interesting things. Take a look at the Swiss, they’re cultivated and well educated and have everything, but there ain’t any cutting edge music coming from them, right? And then take a look at England, it’s been a fucking shithole since ever. The weather is awful, the food tastes like shit, but all this angst is pouring into their music. Plus they are still taped to first world countries, they’re equipped with technology and culture. Obviously the same thing could never happen to Brazil, though they also have a lot of great music.

What’s the weed deal in Cali about?
Jacob: You need to be a California resident, then you get a card. After that you need to go to a doctor, complain about headaches or insomnia and pay him thirty dollars. He hands out the prescription, that’s it.
John: But the weed policy has created an amazing culture, people behave now like conoisseurs and there are so many diffferent kinds of weed, you always find one strain which fits.
Jacob: My girlfriend used to run a huge marijuana dispensary on Venice Beach. You came into the hash bar for maybe trying that Moroccan hash. They served it always in sterilized, huge bongs. It’s gotten so common, there are more weed shops than Starbucks.

And you guys live together in downtown LA?
Jacob: Yeah, we used to live all in the same area, downtown with all the crazy people. Homeless people are running wild, there are no laws so they just put up their tents on the boulevards and main streets. A lot of things in LA are super fucked up.
John: The government built public bathrooms for the people from downtown. One homeless woman took the place over and started pimping it for a homeless whore operation. The price is one dollar and it’s really gross. A lot of things in LA are super fucked up and third world, but no one knows, because people tend to know only about Hollywood. Movies from the ’90s and the late ’80s show a pretty authentic picture of LA. I’ve been in a lot of different places all over the world, but I’ve never seen such an intense collection of insane and crazy people like in Hollywood or Venice Beach. There you have the Venice Beach hippie lifestyle and right next to it Hollywood, where people are delusional about their personal future. They want to become famous but in most cases they fail, which leads to depression and drug abuse and so on.

Published October 05, 2011.