Strangeways Radio sent DJ Pleasurekitten to the land of Skype to check in with Ronan Harris of VNV Nation. VNV Nation is currently on the second leg of their world tour for their most recent album, 2011′s “Automatic” and will be visiting the Strangeways Radio homebase of Michigan next Wednesday, March 7th, at The Necto in Ann Arbor, MI. In anticipation of the show, we’ve posted some of the highlights of the conversation, which you can hear in it’s entirety using the links below. Ronan spoke to Kat from Colorado Springs about the second half of the tour covering the towns they weren’t able to reach in the first half – the midwest, the prairie states and the towns in between….
Ronan Harris: “Smaller markets, in some cases, but not less than enthusiastic audiences. If fact I would say some of the shows have been some of the finest shows we’ve had for a long time. The response we’ve been reading from people that have seen us before is that they’ve never seen us better, which is really something”.
SW Kat: I know our area is very much anticipating the show coming up in Ann Arbor at the Necto (this coming Wednesday. March 7th):
Ronan Harris:”Looking at the pre-show sales and they’re really, really strong so it looks like the show, in the next few days will selll out, or sell out that night. Which is amazing because we love the club and we love the people who run it and we fell in love with it when I was asked to come DJ there som e years back. Since then I’ve gone around advertising to everyone that this has to be one of the best clubs in the world.”
SW Kat: How is the response to Automatic been? Like what kind of feedback have you gotten from fans and journalists?
Ronan Harris: As far as the fans go, I haven’t heard comments like this come back about an album since, well for quite a while. There was always going to be this danger that we’d been defined by a style say (from) around 99 or 2000 and we were going to wander from there into other territory. And some people really embraced it. Most people really embraced it very well because they like the progress of the band, and we’re taking it up to another level. And then some people always want you to go back to the hey day – the day when they were first dancing on dance floors to your music and they always want it to be like that. But no band can repeat those albums because if they did their careers would die really fast.
The response to this album from fans on both sides of the Atlantic has been absolutely phenomenal. The album went to #8 in Germany and that’s mostly through fans, because we only promote within the scene. So for us to go to #8 in Germany means that people really got into it. Myself I did a lot of internet coordination to publicize the album… to get people used to it and the idea and give them tasters and what have you. The press response over here, I’ve been reading reviews of it since last year, have been incredible. I’m not saying its 100% across the board that everyone loves it. There are some people who, just as I said, want you to go back and make something from the past. There are some people who aren’t fans of the band they just like general music from the scene, it’s not to their taste because we’re not making something that’s custom built for them. But we’re not a delivery service. We don’t actually make music custom order. The proof of it has been in the concerts. Because it doesn’t matter what concert we play where ever we play the new stuff there is no lukewarm reaction. People are going insane. We start off with one of the first songs we play in the evening, Space & Time – everyone sings it. To me that’s my indication that everyone is really liking it. I mean, everything from Space & Time to Control to Resolution to Nova- everyone seems to have something on the album that that’s their focal point. That’s their song that they absolutely love…..
SW Kat: How do you feel about the release as a whole?”
Ronan Harris: I have this very, very focused vision about how I want an album to sound, this was probably – I haven’t had the feeling since we made Empires or Futureperfect – and that’s not to say anything in between hasn’t been as good – its just I haven’t had that feeling coming away from an album where I sat there and said – you come out of an album production with mixed feelings- its been a very emotional process, it’s been a very grueling process and this one has was probably the most grueling of all. I did like 30 hour sessions in order to meet the deadline of finishing the album. and I couldn’t actually listen to the entire album until I uploaded it for mastering. The day i uploaded it I just sat back, I was out of “production mode” and I listened to it from beginning to end – and I could listen to that album on repeat for days. This is music I make primarily for myself. It’s how I’ve always made music – since every album. In the days when i was just making music in my bedroom. And I just felt listening to this that every song did something for me. The way I wanted it to be in its final entirety. It made me want to move. made me want to sing. It reflected all the emotions I was trying to embody in it. i was really blown away. Because that’s a real achievement – any band going into a production process has a hope for how it will sound, how strong their songs are. but it all comes down to how it’s finally mixed and produced. Any song – you can play it 20,000 different ways and you can mix it 20,000 different ways and only some of those ways will actually sound really good and really come across well. It just seems there was something that happened in this production that really did it, and I don’t know what.
You can listen to the full 54 minute conversion below. Aside from his thoughts on the tour, the album and his life as a musician, you’ll hear Ronan discuss his love for vintage and analog sythesizers. He’ll reveal the truth behind myth that Empires was done only on one synth. Later in the interview we’ll hear how he developed his love for music and if it truly was from listening to Whitehouse in the kitchen with his mum while she was baking? What influence did Hot Butter’s “Popcorn” have on him? How did early electronic music shape his interest in music and synthesizers? Why is Nicola Tesla his hero? How does he feel about the environment and reducing his carbon footprint?
You can also hear the answer to some listener questions: What is his personal favorite VNV tracks? What are the differences between European and North American fans? Will he accept a marriage proposal via interview? Does he admit to having released several power noise albums under different names? Is Automatic a farewell album? What are his biggest influences? What is he obsessed with right now? Listen to the full interview for answers to all of the above and more! And if you are in the Detroit area, don’t miss the VNV Nation show on March 7th in Ann Arbor. If you’re in the rest of the midwest area, check out vnvnation.com for tour dates for your city!