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No mellowing by Godspeed You! Black Emperor in rare, new interview

October 11, 2012|By August Brown
  • The cover of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's new album, "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!"
The cover of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's new album, "Allelujah!…

After a well-received reunion tour and a Coachella set, the Montreal experimental-rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor has announced its first album in a decade, "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!," on Constellation. But the group made an even more surprising move today, when the Guardian published an exceedingly rare interview with the band.

The paper's Maddy Costa somehow wrangled an unsigned e-mail interview with the group, which famously declines almost all interaction with the media.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor made its reputation combining radical politics with instrumental sentiments drawing from free jazz, noise-punk and experimental chamber music, with a cryptic visual and design scheme to match. In its lengthy, incendiary responses, the band suggests it hasn't mellowed a bit in the intervening decade since 2002's "Yanqui U.X.O."

"It's a miracle that so many of us make it through our teens," the band writes. "Politics is for politicians and all our politicians have the whiff of death to them, it's why they wear so much perfume and cologne, it's why they wear brightly coloured scarves and ties, just to distract from the pallor of their skin. So many of us just want to live away from that stench -- we stagger towards the light awkwardly, astonished that so many of us are staggering together thusly, amen."

At least no one can accuse the band of not sounding exactly like its album-liner notes in conversation. But in the interview, the band also pulls back the curtain a bit to discuss how it functions as a large collective, and shows it actually does have a droll sense of self-aware humor. 

"Do people like me just take you too seriously?," Costa asks. "Probably," the band replies.

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