10 years ago, Matt Banham was more of a 7/11 meat pie monstrosity, than the gorgeous dumpling you see above. He also lived in Adelaide, and was in a band called No Through Road. They were great, and that’s a fact. Besides an off-duty-but-on-point cover of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok”, No Through Road also left behind a plethora of material, including the incredible ‘Lo-Fi Sandwich’. It’s recently gotten a 10-year anniversary mastering, and I GOT THE PREMIERE. SUCK IT PITCHFORK. Listen below, and read a totally serious interview between myself and Sydney’s sweetheart:
R: How would you describe the levels of irony in re-mastering an album with the word “Lo-Fi” in the title?
M: It’s the ultimate irony really. or as my friend Joey put it ‘Lo-firony’.
R: Why is this the first No Through Road/Matt Banham album to get a re-master? Why is this one specifically deserving?
M: Well this album never got mastered in the first place. I just put up the unmastered tracks online for free. I didnt really know/appreciate what mastering did back then. I sort of understand it now but it still confuses me. Makes stuff sound better tho. Tim Carr mastered this for me and managed to keep it true to its original shit form but now you can just hear the shit a bit more clearly. Which is perfect.I’m gonna keep the original unmastered version up online for the purists. I dont want people to think im some sort of monster like George Lucas.
R: Is that a portrait of you on the front cover?
M: My buddy Nick Walton had a calander of flight attendents and he thought this guy looked a bit like me. So he painted a copy of the guy. That poor flight attendant. I wonder if he knows he is a timeless album cover now.
R: Where do you reckon “Lo-Fi” Sandwhich sits in the Banham Canon?
M: This was made when No Through Road was about to record Too Much or Not Enough but my brother damaged his wrist in a pub brawl and couldnt play drums for a while so we had to postpone the recording for about 6 months. I was writing heaps and not doing much so I made this in my bedroom with whomever happened to be over at my house when I felt like recording. 3 of the songs were recorded at my buddy Nic Datson’s house because he had an electornic drumkit and lots of beer. I think this might be the best album I’ve ever made. Maybe because I made it so quickly and didn’t try to polish it up too much. I hardly even mixed it, just recorded it on a $15 mic I bought from Tandy into my computer. Something about that makes me like it even more. My favourite parts of albums are usually the little bits of rubbish you can hear in the background and this album is full of background rubbish. Songs dont matter, music is all about the rubbish.
R: You’ve recorded in a lot of bedrooms and houses in your various guises – what is it about lo-fi recordings that appeals to you?
M: I used to listen to a lot of ‘lo-fi’ bands and recordings. Especially early Smog stuff. You can learn so much about how to record music from listening to that sort of stuff and reading magazines like Tape-op. Part of it was born out of necessity and laziness but most of it was because I prefered doing stuff at home in my own time and when I felt inspired to do so. It’s so much fun to make something with just the stuff lying around your house, writing a song while you are recording it. Trying to reproduce that stuff in studios rarely works. A couple of the songs on this album ended up on a later No Through Road album which we made in a studio and if I am being honest I think they sound better on this.
R: The whole album can be pretty morbid and sad, lots of break up anthems – have you changed your life view since?
M: I’m definately less whiney and cranky than I used to be. Actually I might be more cranky now. But about other things. Like hard drives breaking or walking around Ikea. And I’m still pretty whiney too I guess. So not much has changed really.
R: You’ve moved from Adelaide to Sydney since this album came out – why the hell would you do that?
M: The move seemed pretty natural. I was stuck in a boring job in Adelaide and my band hand broken up and a lot of friends had moved away. My girlfriend Romi got into honours up here and in Melbourne and I go crazy after a few hours in Melbourne so we moved here.
R: What else has changed since this album came out?
M: One of the biggest things that has changed is how much easier it is to put your music online now. When I put that album up online for free there was no bandcamp or soundcloud, no Radiohead with their rainbows, I was a pioneer, pushing the frontiers of the information super highway. My website’s server only had 100mb of space on it and the mp3s of the album were about 60. So I had to delete a lot of stuff on my website to make room for the album. And the bandwith I had was so small that after it got downloaded a bunch of times my site would just go down for a week or two till it ticked over to the next month. I’m sure there was probably a better way to do all this back then but I had no clue what I was doing.
R: Do you think you’d get No Through Road back together, or is your allegiance with Weak Boys now?
M: I’m sure NTR will play again one day, its a lot harder now because we all live in different states and most of us have started new musical endevours. But it was a great band and a lot of fun. When our back catalogue gets some new found fame thanks to a horrible Zach Braff movie we will do a reunion tour and make all the money back we lost in our first run. Plans are already in the works for a second Weak Boys album. I wanted to call the first one ‘Debutt’ but the others wouldn’t let me. Maybe this time I can convince them…
R: Unrelated question, but when will Season 3 of Matt Banham’s Jokes be coming out?
M: One day, one day. When I finished s(w)eason 2 i realised that I spent about as much time on that as I had on any album that I had made before and wondered what on earth I had done. Should you really spend months of your life making terrible videos for terrible jokes on the interet? Probably. My next venture into gags will be my long awaited live comedy album recorded in a retaurant called “One Liners & Fine Diners”. Might come out later this year. If you are very lucky.