Bucket Bros: The Carpenters of Comedy

The Transendient Issue #11: CIAM

By Mars | 2008-04-20

CIAM Are one of the best bands i've ever heard. They're songs will be stuck in your head for days and with John Fryer and Paul Corkett in their corner, they shall definitely go very far.


Q #1: Hadar Goldman i think your electric viola is one of the defining parts of the bands sound. What gave you the inclination to go that direction musically?

CIAM Hadar: I have been playing the classical violin since an early age. childhood and teenage years of practice and orchestral work had got me to a point where I felt that I wanted new challenges as a musician., not happy with the classical ones.. I was attracted to a new sound and the possibilities of experimenting with electric instruments and sound effects. I met an artist in Camden town, London, who had converted a friends cello and made it electric. I had never seen anything like it before and it was exciting (no more uncontrolled feedback..) I was a violinist but wanted to start playing a viola, so I got that guy to built my first proper electric viola. the instrument was a cheap acoustic viola and the man had opened it up and put 4 pickups in it (one for each string), a compressor and a pre amp with volume control for each string. I could push the lower strings up and/or create my own internal balance.. at first I played it with a bow, enjoying the low sounds which complimented Jeffs voice (the violin tends to be close in range sometimes..). I plugged the viola into an amp (a guitar amp) and put it through effects: delays, chorus, distortion and many other.. it was very exciting and unlike acoustic violins. for the first time, I was able to play very loud and get a controlled sound as powerful as a guitar and more. I then started to play the viola like a guitar, using a pick.. and the 4 fretless strings and intonations had created a sound which was hard to define. the viola became both a weird sounding guitar, as well as a bowed viola. it was fun..

Q #2: In the music video to your song Life, the star seems to be riding the train of life. "Life is the longest train, you see." Jeff Shapiro, Could you elaborate on the story behind those lyrics?

Jeff Shapiro: I was very poor and a little depressed when I wrote those lyrics. it was a general feeling of life being this endlessly long grey journey with not much bright light. I was living in an industrial loft (courtesy of a friend of mine), had no money and just been dumped by my girlfriend . I was writing notes, lyrics and ideas for short films.. it was cold and wet outside and the walls were peeling inside.. I wrote a story about a guy whos girlfriend had left him. he then discovers that he is on a moving subway train and where ever he goes he imagines that he is seeing her with another.. (as I did..) the line was 'life is the longest train you've seen'.. it was written as a visual story for a short film before it became a song.. much later we wrote the music which sounded like the soundtrack to that lyric and added the line: 'love is over rated' (I was able to make fun of myself at that point ha ha)


"Life" by CIAM (full version)

Q #3: Songs such as "here i am" are so well paced and composed it reminds me of the golden age of goth and alternative yet so original it sort of seems like you've created a new genre. How would you describe your sound?

Jeff/Farrell Lennon: first, thank you for the compliment. this is a big question and one thats very difficult to answer. truth is our sound it not based on anything else (that we are aware of) and there was no template or reference point while we created it. only us people and our playing. perhaps our sound is best described by the atmosphere it creates. it is an emotional sound.

Q #4: Working with John Fryer must be amazing (not to mention Paul Corkett.) John has worked with everyone from nin (Pretty hate machine) to depeche mode to white zombie. How did the work relationship between CIAM and John develop?

Jeff Shapiro: we were introduced to John Fryer and at first we sent him songs to listen to. rough mixes. he suggested that he could mix one or two of the songs we had already recorded (first one was 'venus in furs' recorded with Paul Crockett at moles) and see if we liked it, take it from there. the first mix wasnt the best and we asked him to change it a little to which he replied that a first mix is always the hardest and that he will mix another and maybe then or later come back to the first one. we thought that that was a little unusual. John was basically learning us and working out the dynamics of our music. he then mixed second song 'life goes on' (or 'life' as appears on youtube video). I waited for the call to say its done (as he likes to mix alone). when I got the completed song from him he said 'take it away and listen to it on your car stereo or similar.. I listened to it in my car outside his place.. it sounded amazing to me. I called him immediately and asked him if he would agree to do more work with us. we since completed the album and now talking about doing the next one together from scratch. we have become friends. John moved from Ladbroke Grove to Norway halfway through completing our album. he is now part of our team.

Q #5: What do you think is the best thing about music?

best thing about music is what you can learn from it, meaning , as soon as you hear a sound you can tell so much about the music, its history, state of mind of the person wrote it and a whole energy that it brings to you. you can tell the time when it was made and or composed, the kind of prson listens to it and so much more. there is a whole social, lifestyle, personal statements made not to mention musical ability, geography etc that comes with ten seconds of listening to music.. it captures and represents our lives

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