18th Aug2011

What We’ve Been Waiting For: Ceremony

by Todd

Where have we been? I’ll tell you where we’ve been: in a state of boredom. Virtually nothing in 2011 has moved us in the ways that the bands we’ve brought you in the past have. We could have easily regurgitated the latest Pitchfork-darling/ high-priced PR firm offers you tickets to Lolla in exchange for… crap. Instead we stuck to our principals and decided it would be better to bring you nothing, than to bring you crap.
We spent the last month (or so) scouring the globe for the best new music that we could find. Finally, we have come to you with wonderful news. In a sea of adult-contemporary masquerading as “alternative-indie”, Ceremony swims against the tide with a sense of violence and passion that gives us hope for the future of music. With the release of their new EP, “Not Tonight, TDOA writer Krystal talked to the band about the obvious imagery and the undercurrent of genius.

TDOA: The name Ceremony immediately conjures up memories of bands like Joy Division and New Order, both of whose sounds seem to have an influence on your music. What was the reasoning for choosing this song as opposed to others?

Paul: We used to cover the song “Ceremony” in our old band Skywave. When we started this band, we had a gig but not a name and just thought of that. It wasn’t meant to stick, but we just never changed it.

TDOA: What less obvious influences might one find in Ceremony?

Paul-I love Big Star, The Crystals, Kraftwerk, Club 8, . John is a big Ministry fan, and we both love The Misfits. I don’t know what’s obvious to listeners and what isn’t, really. I can’t separate myself from it, I guess. Really, you’re even influenced by things you don’t like. Even if it makes you NOT do something, rather than makes you want to do something.

TDOA: Both of you were in the band Skywave with A Place To Bury Stranger’s Oliver Ackermann. How would you distinguish Ceremony from APTBS to a new listener?

Paul: Until recently the biggest difference was that we used drum machines and they had a live drummer, Jay Space, who’s a fantastic drummer and a really cool guy. We recently added a live drummer, Ben Wood, so I think the most obvious difference is that APTBS is still a bit more on the sonically extreme or experimental side, and we’re into making tight noise-pop songs that sometimes veer into that same sonic abyss. Honestly, I think a fan of one band would probably be a fan of the other. I’m fans of both groups.

TDOA: What can you tell us about Skywave’s music and how do you think it has influenced Ceremony?

John-It’s the same thing.

Paul- John’s basically right. I don’t think I made a conscious decision to make a different style of music or anything. But of course Oliver was a huge part of Skywave and it would have been wrong to keep the name without him.

TDOA: How have you found the transition to a two piece band? What is the songwriting and recording process like?

Paul-The main difference is that when using a drum machine, you can’t make a mistake and look at somebody and correct things, you just have to deal with it. For the most part we write our songs separately and then show them to the other. Then maybe we make some little adjustments to the structure or something. Again, now we do have a drummer, but we still write separately.

TDOA: What can one expect from a Ceremony show? You’ve been told by venues to turn the volume down. As a two piece, how do you manage to pack so much sound in?

Paul-We just try to play our songs as well as we can. To achieve that sometimes requires quite a lot of volume and noise. We play with the same kinds of amps as lots of other bands, so I don’t know how we’re “louder” than anyone else. We just like loud, effected guitar sounds. I guess a lot of venues don’t feel the same way.

TDOA: Fredericksburg, VA seems like an unlikely place for a band with your sound. How is the reception at gigs in your hometown?

Paul-Yeah, we don’t play here very often. We have fans here, but the venues here especially don’t know how to handle us. We’ve even had a bar manager
literally unplug our equipment while we’re playing and tell us to get the fuck out of his venue. That was a great night.

TDOA: Tell us more about your gigs in Japan. How did those come about?

Paul-Wow, that was a really cool experience! A guy who works for Amazon in Japan was a fan of ours and said he could book us 4 shows in Tokyo and guarantee us enough money that it would be worth it. We got him to agree to let us bring Screen Vinyl Image with us and it turned out to be really great. He was a great guy and we had a lot of fun! Venues there are great, with excellent sound systems and engineers, and it seemed like the crowds enjoyed our music.

TDOA: Ceremony’s full length album, Rocket Fire, was just released last year. Whats on the horizon for the band for the rest of this year?

Paul-We released the “Not Tonight” EP of new songs, as well the “Extended Play” EP with remixes and cover versions of our songs back in April. Now we’re working on the follow-up to “Rocket Fire”, as well as a split LP with the band Stellarium, who are from Singapore. We’re working on setting up another European tour for next spring as well. We’re always working on something, however slowly.

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