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Black Dice 's Eric Copeland
Brooklyn’s electronic noise masters expose their creations to the masses
September 12, 2005
by Leanda Quinquet

As far as experimental electronic music goes Black Dice are true genre leaders. In their earlier days the band was renowned for their hardcore, intense and short songs, while now they create epic tracks that manage to take the listener on a deep emotional rollercoaster. Blips, glitches and samples are used along with beats and synth sounds to create some of the most interesting music you may ever hear.

Black Dice are a trio based in Brooklyn, NY. They have been together over eight years and have just released their third disc
Broken Ear Record on DFA/EMI. The new record is the band’s most upbeat and dance-inducing album to date. I caught up with the soft spoken Eric Copeland before he hit the stage at the Gladstone in Toronto’s West End.

Leanda Quinquet – How you doing?

Eric Copeland – I’m fine thanks.

LQ – How’s the tour going so far? You’ve just started.

EC – It’s been good this is only our 4th or 5th show and I have to go back to New York for a wedding in like five days so I really don’t feel as if I’m gone that long.

LQ – How was Europe? You did a few shows there back in June.

EC – It was good, I was living in Paris for the summer anyways so, it’s nice to be back stateside to be honest.

LQ – Really?

EC – Well yeah, because I don’t speak French…but yeah, they were fun shows I’d never been to the south at all before, like Portugal.

LQ – You just released your new record Broken Ear Record, how’s it being received back home in NYC?

EC – I don’t know….I haven’t been there.

LQ – Oh yeah!

EC – I’ve been really busy and I don’t really keep up on press. So, as far as I know the people I gave it to like it. That’s maybe like five people…my Mum, my Dad…yeah about five people! (laughs)

LQ – The new record was recorded in Australia, where was that recorded and why did you choose to record there?

EC – It was in Byron Bay which is a little place in the North East and someone brought us over to play this small tour of like weirder bands, and then we decided to just keep on there and we stayed ten days longer, it was really good. We had been talking about getting something maybe a little more leisurely because we had been working really hard, and I feel like the environment seemed really important at the time. If we had to do it in New Jersey again, it just would have been….I don’t know. You know you get uptight, and you have your work and your pet at home and maybe like a friend you haven’t seen, and I feel like we all needed to focus on it [the record] and yet also relax with it. It was good.

LQ – Who produced the record?

EC – We did the last part of the last record with a guy called Steve Revitt. He’s out of New York as well and he’s our live sound guy sometimes, so we took him to Australia and then kept him to record the record, but then we mixed it in Brooklyn at a place called Rare Book Room. So I feel like we were in the game the whole way and contributing things…I don’t think we’ve ever had somebody really produce us. It’s just like everyone’s on the same page working towards the same thing, you know?

LQ – Would you say that there is a particular theme that you wanted to come out of this record?

EC – Yeah, well…the record before I feel was pretty serious, like really composed and minimal, and I feel like to play those songs live was like doing some kind of science experiment every night. Everything needed to be calibrated perfectly, so I feel for the most part we went into it [recording] knowing that we were going to be playing a lot of shows and that we would want to have a little bit more fun. We used to be a really physical band so I feel like we kind of left all that behind in a really nice way and I felt satisfied that we had gone to the other side of the spectrum. Then it was like….I don’t want to become a contradictory person, not that this was a conscious thought, but I feel that we had taken an idea as far as we wanted and we were like, “We should have some fun, we should be like a physical band again.”

LQ - Cool….how did you record the new album?

EC – 80% of it was played live, so it was kind of just doing takes that we liked. Then polishing some shit up and then there are a couple of things we wrote there, which is sort of what we’ve been trying to do more. Maybe go in with some ideas and sounds and be able to work it maybe just a little bit faster you know? The live stuff can just take too long to get to that point.

LQ – Will you be touring Europe with this record?

EC – Ummm….maybe. We were supposed to be doing something in November but we postponed it just because it didn’t seem like the right time to be booking it, it felt strange and it would have meant two more months of touring from now, and I think we would have gotten really depressed!

LQ – Yeah…I bet! You’ve been together for a long time. The band started in ’97, how do you manage to prolong the magic? That’s a long time, it must be difficult.

EC – It’s difficult, we actually just kicked somebody out too…

LQ – Oh kick! That’s a harsh word.

EC – No…. It’s true, I mean this was like a year and a half ago, but I feel that just recently it feels really nice. Well one of the guys, Bjorn is my brother and Aaron is just…I don’t know, it’s just been a really nice relationship and I feel like we’ve learned to live apart and then come back and work together. This past year and a half has been really good. (laughs)

LQ – Your single, “Smiling Off” is going to be released at the end of October, there will also be a video with the CD. Can you tell me a bit about that video?

EC – I don’t know…

LQ – You have no idea? Look, it’s a surprise for all of us! (laughs)

EC – The guy who did it [the video] is one of my best friends. He does our live visuals and we’ve had him on tour as our roadie for so long that it just sort of made sense because he knew us the best. He knew our aesthetic really well; he’s a very entertaining person to have around, so I feel like in a lot of ways he catered to all that, it’s very much his….he made it all. He came up with all the ideas and it’s really unsettling in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. It really took me off guard and made me feel really gross for a little bit.

LQ – Oh no!

EC – Well, I don’t think it’s that bad, I just wasn’t prepared.

LQ – Why was the track “Smiling Off” chosen to be the single from the new record?

EC – I feel like it’s maybe the song that our relationship with meant the most, from where it began to where it ended up, everyone’s really familiar with it, and understood what was going on. This one just made sense in terms of the record.

LQ – Yeah, it’s a great song… Eric, I’d like to thank you for chatting with us at The Wig and good luck with the rest of your tour.

EC – Thank you.

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