The Chameleon Cafe has recently played host to a number of alternative bands, ranging from the DIYness of Wavves to the revivalism of Crystal Stilts and the sheer craziness of Pulled Apart by Horses. Now it’s LA noise group HEALTH’s turn to plug in their amps. Before the set I cornered the guys from the band and asked them a few questions.
The band’s self-titled debut album consisted mostly of, in their own words, “feedback, a feedback loop, and more feedback loops – plus delay” – which explains why their sound is so unusual. “Of our influences, I guess the most considerable is the music that we love, but we don’t think, ‘I want to sound like that’… It’s more like ‘I’ve found this sound, let’s make something out of it.’ We’re not inspired by nature, or machines, or industry or something stupid like that. Practicing in an industrial estate only inspires us to get the fuck out of there!”
They’re candid about their vague lyrics – “it’s not a vehicle for us to express a personal experience, we’re not going to write songs about ex-girlfriends. The way our sound connects musically makes the lyrics more disconnected.” And trying to recreate a similar sound to the record in ther live show is a challenge. “There are a lot of layers and we took a lot of time to record a bunch of stuff loads of times. The live show is rawer, and we play the songs faster and it’s a lot more brutal. You just can’t record that.”
After the Crystal Castles remix of ‘Crimewave’ reached number 9 in the UK Indie chart in 2007, HEALTH decided to release a remix album entitled Health//DISCO. “Blog culture was really exploding and we were getting into that. Also there are bands that I think are pretty awful but they are on my iTunes via remixes, so we thought if a pop band can do that then why can’t a noise band? We weren’t writing the remixes but we wanted to be involved creatively, so we hand selected each track on the album. It is also a way for us to work with people we admire, so we are going to keep on doing it.”
The remixes have their own personality, and the album itself could be seen to improve on the original. They’ve also finished work on their latest album, due to be released in September. “The songwriting has definitely matured and evolved, it was a real struggle before but now we are confident in our sound and abilities and it’s a lot stronger.” They played six new songs on the night, as part of a complex and vigorous performance. Once again, a night at the Chameleon Cafe did not disappoint.