We applaud this NYC trio’s weirdly wonderful and constantly surprising musicianship – their second album, Gloss Drop, is among the best albums of 2011. We probed bassist/guitarist Dave Konopka (pictured second from left) for an insight into the band’s intriguing psyche.
If Konopka could inhabit another person’s body for a day it would not be Barack Obama’s. ‘Who would want to be the President of the United States? It’s the worst job ever! That’s pure ego going on right there. If I was just experiencing someone else’s perception of the world, it would have to be my Shiba Inu puppy, Valentino. He’s the most stoic puppy I’ve ever seen in my life, so I would just be so curious to know what he was thinking. If I had my mind and someone else’s body it would be Michael Jordan. Wait, why would I want to be Michael Jordan? If I could switch with a woman, I could be like, “Oh wow, this is what a woman’s body feels like!” You could go a lot of different ways with that. Oprah Winfrey would be interesting, then you could be like, “Wow, everyone’s looking at me like I’m the queen of the world!” Or you could be Pamela Anderson: “Whoa, this is what a woman’s body feels like!” Well no, not really, actually.’
None of the Battles boys have any tattoos. ‘John [Stanier, drummer]’s girlfriend is a tattoo artist, which is even more bizarre. I wonder if he’s ever going to break. I regretted bleaching my hair in the ’90s! Humans change their minds constantly. I don’t have the need to mark anything on me. Plus everybody and their mother has a tattoo now. I like being in the minority. I don’t have tattoos to prove my individuality.’
Kanopka plays basketball, but not before a big tour for fear of injury. ‘I used to play a lot back in the day, but I’m 35 years old now and you realise that there’s things you used to be able to do that you can’t do any more. We’re all in our 30s or 40s and sometimes you see a dude go up for a rebound and come down on his ankle, yelling at the top of his lungs, or some dude’s femur pops out of the socket. You’re thinking, when is this going to happen to me?’
They’re careful about what their music is attached to. ‘Mostly people ask for our stuff for video games, baseball or Fifa. We’re okay with that. You can’t call a band a “sellout” anymore. Those days are over. We’ve got to make a living. If Jeb Bush was going to run for president again and it was like, “Hey, Jeb Bush is a huge fan of you guys, is it cool he uses your song for his campaign song?” – definitely not.’
They like to sample the local delicacies while on tour. ‘John loves talking about when we went to St John’s in London and he ate woodcock. I don’t know how they managed to cut it straight down the middle so perfectly, but the head was sliced open and you could see its brain. One time I was in Japan and eating a bunch of stuff and someone was like, ‘What is this?’ and the waitress said in broken English, “Pregnant chicken womb”.’
Back when Stanier was in NYC metal band Helmet, he got in a pretty bad accident. ‘They were leaving after a show in a van and the driver fell asleep. John woke up in the middle of a cornfield and all these farmers were gathering up Helmet’s equipment. Luckily John was inebriated, which helped because in an accident it means you’re limber and less resistant.’ He’s not into social networking but ‘took the initiative to be more intimate with Battles’ Facebook.’ ‘Its important to be intimate. The other day I told Facebook how much I could bench press, what I had for lunch, my shoe size, I just found corn in my toilet, all of that!’