[28 October 2009]
PopMatters Interviews Editor
When our own Dara Kartz reviewed Fuck Buttons’ acclaimed debut album Street Horrrsing last year, she heralded the experimental British duo for being able to “put together an entirely unpredictable journey of sound here, [as] it masterfully lends itself to the group’s intentions of mixing light and dark.”
That dichotomy—the battle of light and darkness—perfectly surmises the sound that Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung have been able to put together over the years, merging waves of distortion with cohesive, sometimes even poppy melodies, meeting in the middle somewhere and never fully succumbing to one side or the other; we the listeners getting caught up in that tense sonic struggle. This battle continues with the release of Tarot Sport, the Buttons’ second full-length effort.
While fans can expect more carefully controlled chaos this time out (lead single “Surf Solar” manages to match some of Horrrsing‘s best moments without even trying), you dear reader can expect even more delightful insanity with the Buttons’ responses to PopMatters’ 20 Questions feature, wherein the Power and Hung reveal their secret history of penguin robbery, a love of both Kate Bush and spinach, and the sage wisdom of none other than Theodore Roosevelt himself ...
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
POWER: Milk, the film about Harvey milk that came out last year.
HUNG: The one show that sticks out for me as being a tear jerker is The Office Christmas specials. The release of tensions in those shows was incredible.
2. The fictional character most like you?
POWER: Garfield. We share a love of lasagna
HUNG: I always see myself as a kind of Zen character full of hope and striving for courage. Positivity and energy. Something like Bill and Ted.
3. The greatest album, ever?
POWER: At the moment World of Echo by Arthur Russell.
HUNG: Hounds of Love by Kate Bush. In my head, I feel like I have a relationship with that woman, the number of times I play this to gain my space.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
POWER: Star Wars.
HUNG: Star Trek actually. I still haven’t watched the Star Wars films fully. We were on a flight once and the pilot introduced himself over the speakers as Captain Picard. Let me tell you, in those moments when everyone was supposed to be silent to listen, I was absolutely dying with the sniggers.
5. Your ideal brain food?
HUNG: Decision making in the creative mediums. It’s one thing I missed greatly whilst on tour last time around and I’ve come prepared this time to make things whilst on tour. It sounds a bit hippy-ish and I’m really far from that kind of motive, but the satisfaction from making things is unequal.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
POWER: Everything we’ve done so far with FB. It’s us both laid out bare so I’m glad people dig.
HUNG: I’m proud to be alive man.
7. You want to be remembered for . .?
POWER: My leek, gorgonzola, and rosemary soup.
HUNG: Being incredibly difficult to get on with, a real prejudice of all prejudices. Intolerant and unwilling to cooperate with anyone.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
POWER: Carl Sagan.
HUNG: All the people we’ve met along the way have been incredible, too many to list and so many to aspire to. Amazing really, meeting people who you aspire to is rare.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
POWER: The Seagram Murals.
HUNG: I don’t wish to have bore any signature on another’s work. The product isn’t useful to me, it’s the process by which I got to that product that interests me.
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
POWER: I’m good at tricks that involve spinning things.
HUNG: I’m really good at hiding Cheerios.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
POWER: Don’t eat the yellow snow.
HUNG: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I believe that was one of your own presidents that said that, Theodore Roosevelt. The other one is “go when you can, not when you have to” said to me by a friend when I was contemplating a toilet visit before the cinema.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
POWER: I once stole a penguin from Bristol Zoo. True story
HUNG: I stole a penny chew once. The amount of guilt I felt from that was incredible, that I had to eat it behind one of the sofas in the house, concealed away.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
POWER: Don’t wear either, but Levis probably.
HUNG: Who gives a shit? I remember at school, I didn’t quite understand the mentality behind labels, i.e. the prestige of wealth. I painted this Tommy Hilfiger logo on my belt (I was good at drawing and painting back then) and when this kid laughed and said “Did you just paint that onto your belt?”, [and] I replied without any remorse “yes I did.” He was very confused by it.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
POWER: A resurrected Carl Sagan, or Galileo Perhaps.
HUNG: Kate Bush.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
POWER: I’d like to go back in time and drop a fruit pastille in the primordial ooze just to see how much I can mix things up.
HUNG: During the industrial revolution? Golden ages that have purported to happen. I want to see if these really were bloody good.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
POWER: Erm, I just tend to go grey.
HUNG: Spa vacation with a hitman, on Prozac ... bliss!
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
POWER: I think I would probably be anemic if it wasn’t for the amount of spinach I eat so once again, spinach.
HUNG: Mmm ... I don’t really like any of those things, let alone them being essential to me.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
POWER: Half the year in New York, the other half somewhere in the Rockies.
HUNG: Mmm ... yeah, when I’m older, I fully intend to live out in the country. Maybe Lake Districts ...
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
POWER: I would like to sing “Golden Brown” by the Stranglers to him, but replace the word ‘Golden’ with the word ‘Gordon’.
HUNG: Hi, how are you?
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
POWER: Tour, tour and more tour.
HUNG: This interview and what fictional character I most resemble. I’ve left that till last so I can be as funny as possible.