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Inspiring Worship – an Interview with Oliver Ackermann of A Place To Bury Strangers

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Summer 2012 seems destined to be remembered as the summer that guitar rock struck back. And for those who have felt overwhelmed and under-impressed by the recent waves of acoustic folk and synth-pop, it hasn’t come a moment too soon.

A Place To Bury Strangers look perfectly poised to be at the forefront of that guitar resurgence, alongside Vancouver duo Japandroids – both bands play loud and hard, and there isn’t a synth in sight. Most importantly, they also have a great ear for a pop tune, and beneath the layers of distortion are some of the most memorable songs to have come from a six-string in recent years.

A Place To Bury Strangers have just released their third studio album, Worship (you can read our review of Worship here), and we caught up with guitarist/vocalist Oliver Ackermann to ask him a few questions about the new songs and the band’s early influences.

Dan Coxon: Where did the title Worship come from?

Oliver Ackermann: The title comes from the song ‘Worship’ which is about worshiping someone’s body and soul sexually for a moment. But it does not stop there. The title means a lot of different things and can.

DC: Any intentional religious connotations?

OA: I don’t think we could have not thought about it since the word is all about paying homage to something and usually a god. That would be thoughtless. So yes, there are religious connotations; it just isn’t up for me to decide for people what that means to them.

DC: How does this album differ from your previous albums?

OA: It was a real stream of consciousness record for us to write. We didn’t really think about it very much and let the songs form on their own and based upon sound and feeling that surrounded us without having any sort of preconceived notions of what it was going to be. It is also a collaboration between me and Dion Lunadon who joined the band about two years ago. As I go on I start to learn more and more about the science of sound and recording techniques and how to make things sound better, so we intentionally tried to focus on performance and those moments of excitement you have while recording and less on the methods.

DC: Which bands influenced you most when you were growing up? I hear a lot of the bands I loved in your music – The Cure, Sister of Mercy, even shoegaze bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine…

OA: I think the Dead Kennedys, The Cure, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ministry, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Mazzy Star, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Orange Juice, The Pastels and a lot of other now seeming main stream music that seemed like we were discovering when I was young. It wasn’t popular to like any of those bands besides the classics and there weren’t many people to share those experiences of finding out about these bands. It was just a few friends getting high and driving around blasting music.

DC: I’ve always thought of APTBS as a great live band. What do you think makes a great live performance? What do you try to deliver on stage?

OA: I try to bring what I remember a good show to be when I was younger. I think it is so hard to go see a good live band these days that we try to bring what we remember a good live show to be when we were kids. That is the idea behind it but I have to feel like I am on the edge of complete destruction for me to enjoy it thoroughly so I try to fuck things up so bad that we can’t really go on and continue from there.

DC: And finally… You’re touring with This Will Destroy You this time around, which sounds like a great pairing. Which bands would you like to tour with that you haven’t (yet)?

OA: AC/DC, My Chemical Romance, Dream Theater.

Worship is released in the US on June 26, 2012, on Dead Oceans.