When did the Dead C form? How did you meet the other members?
B. Russell > In January 1987, Dunedin NZ. We were all part of a small scene, being in bands, watching bands, writing about bands, in a small provincial town. It would have been impossible not to meet.
Was there a shared interest in noise rock and avant garde/experimental music?
B. Russell > Michael and I shared that interest, Robbie was willing to come along for the ride because he thought it might lead to something different, and he was sick of being in straight bands.
What was the New Zealand music scene like in the mid-'80s? Who were some of the bands that you played alongside?
B. Russell > It was totally different to now. No internet, fax machines were new. This country was an unknown planet to those in other countries. There was crap mainstream NZ music made for radio, and there was great underground stuff that has gone on to be world famous - that was never played on the radio in this country because it was ‘too badly recorded’. And then there was us, even worse-recorded than most of the rest of it. There were many good bands, many great people, no dance music worth the name to distract the crowds. We did early shows with the Terminals, the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, Bailter Space, the Cake Kitchen, 3Ds, Plagal Grind.
Could you tell us about playing at "All Tomorrow's Parties" in 2010 and before that also?
B. Russell > The 2010 one was pretty dull, it was our second visit to Minehead, which is a horrible environment that depressed me a lot, with awful food. All the decent acts I wanted to see were on the last night, after we had had to go and return our rental car to London. The LA one in 2002 was amazing, I saw some memorable shows, and the catering was excellent. The 2006 at Minehead was possibly our best festival performance ever, following the Stooges and Sonic Youth. We played a good one (very late at night, we went on after 1p.m. I think) and it really helped our profile as well as cementing relations with our then-new label, BaDaBing. When those festivals work, it's because they have a good vibe and put on a lot of bands that we are actually excited to see. That’s a rare commodity.
How did it feel to release the Dead C compilation album? How did you select the tracks for this release?
B. Russell > I felt very proud of our achievement in making 20 years continuous work. I wanted to draw attention to this achievement and when the chance came up to work with Ben Goldberg (BaDaBing) I jumped at it. It was my idea, and I suggested to the other two that they should nominate tracks, and then we’d negotiate between ourselves what was in or out. In fact I was the only one to nominate tracks (which involved actually listening to all our albums, something I’d never done ‘all at once’). Perhaps the work involved explains why the others couldn’t do it!
I think there were some discussions around a couple of tracks, but essentially the compilation "Vain, Erudite and Stupid" was masterminded by me. I approached the other writers for contributions, and I think their range of responses also helps create a range of perspectives on the band. We are a band that has divided opinions (plenty of people quietly dismiss us, as opposed to those who noisily advocate for us!). But we have also tended to produce some significant critical responses, in terms of understanding what bands are and can or should do, as have Sonic Youth as well, on a different scale.
Would you say that your fans are listeners, who seek out music that is very different from the mainstream and challenging to listen to?
B. Russell > Yes, I have to conclude that is true. And it is one of the best things about our career, that we have always appealed to those willing to do this.
When did you meet the members of Sonic Youth?
B. Russell > We did three dates with them in 1993 when they toured ‘Dirty’ in NZ. Michael spent some time with them on their first visit here in 1989, but we didn’t get to play with them that time.