Glasgow based 4-piece band Aufbau Principle play a ‘caustic and doomed out’ post-punk of rare intensity and urgency. The new 5-track EP “Abbatoir” is, in my humble opinion, definitely one of my favourite releases of the year so far. I had an ‘in depth’ chat about it and the band’s origin with guitarist/vocalist and lyricist Kieran Milne.
- Thanks so much for the interview. Let’s start from the band’s early origins, how did you meet ? What attracted you? Your early artistic influences and inspirations and how did you come up with your name?
Aufbau Principle’s very early origins were a solo bedroom project of mine (Kieran, vocals and guitar) under the moniker of “Slow Bleed” (You can still find these early demos on bandcamp). I had recently moved to Glasgow and been inspired by interacting with the live music scene and becoming friends with a lot of the city’s exciting young bands and performers.
I decided at some point to transform the solo project into a band and got in contact with Ruth who I vaguely knew through the art scene as she used to run a Gallery out of her living room. Somehow I found out she used to play drums when she was younger but hadn’t played for about 10 years but we decided to get together for a jam and it was good but felt a bit empty without a bass. We had just jammed a couple of the slowbleed tunes but as I started as a bassist when I was younger I always felt that element was very important in the music I was writing. I got in contact with Stefano who was a friend from art-school when we had both worked as invigilators on the 2015 Scottish representation at the Venice Biennale, we had jammed before and he was keen to try playing bass and took to it very naturally. During our first practice session together we clicked and it felt super good to play with these guys, the sounds were stark and desolate and the slow, malaise filled songs I had written in my bedroom, depressed and by myself were injected with a vitality and speed which was very exciting.
We recorded our first EP “GODHEAD” with an ex-bandmate of Stefano’s (Qaiyyum) and he was such a chill and funny guy that me and Ruth instantly clicked with him and we all sort of simultaneously suggested that he join the band as another guitarist. Since Q joined the band the sound has developed a lot from the super stark lo-fi sounds of the “GODHEAD” EP and is contantly evolving and remaining exciting for us all to write and play.
I think influence wise we could wax lyrical for hours about bands we like and sounds which inspired us. We have a playlist on Spotify we put together when we started and chose 5 songs each we wanted to have influence in the sound and this ranges from CKY to Brian Jonestown Massacre to movie soundtracks and Joy Division by way of Test Icicles and Sonic Youth.
The name “Aufbau Principle” was born from being deep in a Youtube hole and watching some science video and thinking it sounded cool. The meaning of the principle can be interpreted however you want.
- Which inspiring impact Glasgow has had and still has on your artistic creativity? Had you been a part of the local music community or did prefer to do your own things avoiding anyone else’s scene or clique? What are your favourite Glasgow’s bands/artists at the moment?
I think Glasgow has, and is known for, it’s incredible live music scene and a lot has been said about it probably more eloquently than I could attempt to. It’s inspiring and definitely was instrumental in the forming of the band.
I think there is a really big garage-rock scene in Glasgow just now which is fine but isn’t really what excites us. There are other bands who play gothic post-punk of course, bands like Current Affairs and Kaspar Hauser are really cool and Mothers Love. Charrette are bring a more synth-wave feel and we have played with them a few times and they supported us at the “ABATTOIR” EP launch. Im really excited to see Gimp World as Anxiety were one of my favourite bands in Glasgow and this is almost the same lineup and will hopefully have the same vitality and fuck-you mentality of their previous band. Objectified are doing some very interesting stuff and have an amazing broody sex-tinged energy on stage. Kaputt are bringing a slightly funkier “A Certain Ratio” inspired slant to the post-punk sound.
- Take us through the genesis of the EP. How the songs emerged over time?
We had started writing almost as soon as we finished the “GODHEAD” EP, “And the bleeding is slow” was a song we were working on but hadn’t fully developed by the time we came to record it so it was brewing for a long time even though we played an early version at our first gig. The way we write our songs is during practice we start with like a 20-30 minute jam that will either start spontaneously or one of us will bring a riff of chord progression we have been thinking about and then just play it til something cool happens and we record it then try to craft it into a song.
- The EP starts with “Confession (GODHEAD reprise)” an noisey instrumental introduced by a dialogue from an Ingmar Bergman’s movie masterpiece?
Confession is actually the live outro to “GODHEAD” which came about from playing it live and working on an extended version for gigs. We were going to write it into a song of its own but decided that it could be a good link between the EP’s. The quote at the beginning is the Knights confession from “The Seventh Seal”, a song that inspired the lyrics for “GODHEAD” “I want knowledge, not faith, not assumptions but knowledge….” and thought it would be cool to have it at the start with the song exploding into life at the tail end of it. I think if we re-record “GODHEAD” for an album we will record the whole extended version maybe with some of the quote peppered throughout. It is our favourite song to play live and when Q’s solo cuts through the feedback and distortion at the end I always feel like punching a wall or something. I love it.
- “Abbatoir” is about slaughterhouse, expectations and rites, the bass mesmerizes, the guitars bleed…
We use this to start our sets (after a new intro song which will be on the next EP with Q taking the vocals over a hypnotic and morose soundtrack) as the abrasive guitar tones of the beginning implode into the heavy stomping swamp of noise brings an energy to the shows that is exciting for us to play. The droning vocals conveying the bleak landscape of Scotland and talk about strange rites and folk horror. It evokes the land and the past and future, it talks of old things, dead things and things without names. It is about peat-bog mummies (google it) and standing stone circles and sacrifice.
- “And the bleeding is slow”, the intense, slow paced dialogue beetwen the bass and the guitar is amazing, but so are the vocals I could listen to it for hours…
This was the jumping off point for the EP and is an incredibly personal song to me. It is about past relationships and emotional and physical intimacy lost. There are a few different relationships that this song relates to and all of them ending in intense pain and heartbreak. It tracks from the beginning to the end of a romantic fling from those exciting heart racing first sexual encounters to the often inevitable emotional supression and slow burn out of love. It is a slow burn of a song and the refrain at the end builds in intensity and the rapid guitar playing often ending in bloody knuckles as pennance for my failures as a partner and lover.
- “Romance” is about pleasure and pain, with the previous 2 last tracks forms the emotional heart of the EP, influenced by the the early raw and visceral late 70’s/80’s Mancunian post-punk sound
“Romance” comes at a good point in the EP, it picks the pace back up after “Bleeding is slow” and reflects further upon the themes explored in that song. It is a love song for those with broken hearts or with hearts worth breaking. It is about the feeling of being chewed up and spit out by someone and the feelings of loneliness and hopelessness in the aftermath of that. The main guitar phrase is simultaneously fast paced and energetic as well as being reflective and sad, this is underpinned by Ruth’s relentless pace on the drums, Stefano’s driving yet mournful bassline hitting beautiful harmonic moments and Q’s guitar line floating above everything and punctuating the abrasive tones of my guitar with something dreamy and beautifully sad.
The main riff rundown and bridge are heavily influenced by traditional Scottish fiddle phrases. And this reflects that folk-music ability of playing something fast while still retaining something reflective and melancholic.
- “Hedonist” deals with themes guilt and depression, the EP ends in a reflective way…
“Hedonist” is definitely the hangover or comedown of the previous tracks, I am very open about my struggles with mental health and this is an expression of that. “I cant face to call your phone” is that want to reach out to people who care about you but the inability to love yourself enough to get help. This is definitely one of the most vulnerable tracks lyrically I have written. I think it is personally one of my favourites as well, the way it builds starting with Q’s psych tinged guitar and then thumping in with bass and kick drum building up to my guitar line creeping in and stomping through to the bridge which jumps in straight at the end of the last verse before ramping up into a big screechy outro which is like that internal frustration and screaming into a pillow when you dont understand while you feel like you are doing nothing with your life and you can’t see any way out.
- You’ve recently played in Glasgow and in Lisbon, could you talk about these early live experience?
We recently had the “ABATTOIR” EP launch which was great, we had a really good turnout and were supported by Charrette and Tights who are a new exciting drone/noise group. We have played a number of gigs in Glasgow since our debut in February which was put on by Night School and Spite House. At that point we had recorded our EP and used that gig as an unofficial launch for the cassette release. It was actually just before this that we had the Lisbon booking as my tattoo artist Charleine Boreiro had asked to hear our demo while tattooing me and invited us to play Unconvention in September. I initially thought this was one of those things which gets talked about but never happens but we just got back from playing there and it was super cool! We got a lot of good feedback and people seemed to be into what we do which is really nice. Also shoutout to Sarah from Tights who stepped in to play bass in Lisbon as Stefano has a baby due and couldn’t come with us. In Glasgow we most recently returned to Spite House to support GHUM who are a super cool post-goth/grunge band from London, you should check them out if you havent already!
- What’s next for Aufbau Principle?
Write more songs, play more gigs, maybe see if someone wants to give us money to write an album and if not do it anyway!
Keep up with Aufbau Principle :