Generally, email interviews are lowest common denominator. I know that when I’m near a computer, I’m doing about four other things at the same time, and I’m sure that there are other task jugglers far better versed in the role of task avoidance that can do more. Whereas the usual answers to carefully worded questions are literal, three word put downs, CIVIL CIVIC seem to revel in it. But, then again, they’re not a two piece formed in the same mould as most other acts. Born in Australia, the two, in Aaron’s words, “did the Melbourne rock scene to death” before venturing to Europe – Ben settling in London, whilst Aaron chose the hotter climes of Barcelona. Oddly, it was then that they decided to start making music together.
Their maxim is gloriously simple: “We simply do not want to over-think our approach,” says Aaron, the band’s founding member. “We don’t underestimate your intelligence, but we also know that you want a fucking good time.” With their debut EP, the duo achieved their aim in spectacular fashion – anyone who’s heard Less Unless cannot fail to fall under its spell, the jerky rhythms drawing you in, whilst fuzzy electronic sound washes over you – any dance floor at any decent club night should be honoured to be serenaded with this. Underneath the majestic breakdowns, there’s an educated brilliance bubbling away – of two artists who know exactly what they’re doing and how perfectly they’re doing it.
The fractured origins of the band haunt their sound, a subtle spectre in amongst the distortion. Their tracks can almost be split into separate elements – the pair interplaying jagged, catchy riffs that interweave themselves in the electronic backbeat, with the odd hint of keyboard thrown in too. Thus far there are no vocals, but you could scarcely imagine a band more suited to be plainly instrumental, with the band’s ripped up melodies speaking a purer truth than most lyricists could achieve. There’s absolutely nothing boring about anything CIVIL CIVIC do, and not having to go through the trouble of writing lyrics has liberated them to transcend the simple comparisons to Death from Above 1979. This is what ‘You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine’ could’ve been if it had been more centred on getting you to move your feet.
It was the demo version of that very track that originally convinced Ben to jump aboard, despite the distance between them. “So, I was pretty lost and disillusioned when Aaron emailed me,” Ben admits, “but the demo version of Less Unless was impossible to ignore or deny. I HAD to be in on it. Otherwise SOMEONE ELSE would be. No way.” This desperation is reflected in their sound, as are the obvious constraints upon their work. Everything is delivered with the sense that it’s urgent – unsurprising given the circumstance. Aaron recounts, “I said ‘If you’re seriously up for it then let’s do it. Barcelona is lot closer to London than fucking Melbourne, we could make it work.’” And so they did. Ben: “Aaron lived at my flat in Barcelona for a month and a band was born – we’d jam in the afternoons, then go out and get hammered in one of the 26 bars on my block. Every fucking night. It was brutal.” Brutal it may have been, but the end results are utterly, instinctively excellent. Still unsigned, reaction to their debut EP earned them a recent 7 date, 5 country European tour. They’ve already proven that distance is an irrelevance – overlook CIVIL CIVIC and you’ve only got yourself to blame.