It’s been awhile since I last wrote about Hardboiled Wonderland, the side project of Martin Birke and Percy Howard. A couple of months ago they released their debut album, “As Small as the World”, and I became curious and decided to ask them a few questions…
Tribe4mian: How did you two meet and how was the idea for Hardboiled Wonderland conceived? Does this mean that Genre Peak and Meridiem are bands from a past chapter in time?
M. Birke: Percy and i knew each other from our separate bands in the 90’s, I with Sandbox Trio , Percy with NUS. Percy contacted me in 2009 and initially started recording using preexisting material, it wasn’t sounding good, so we started over will all new tracks I wrote,performed and arranged. Genre Peak is continuing with “Redux” a compilation with 2 new tracks featuring Percy. It’ll be out thru Gonzo Multi Media UK in Spring 2012. I’m not sure of Percy’s plans with Meridiem.
Tribe4mian: What was your introduction into music and what kind of music were you playing back then?
M. Birke: I was very influenced by bands like Japan, Peter Gabriel, Ultravox back in the 80’s
Tribe4mian: Since the list is long and I might forget someone, can you please name the artists you have worked with as individuals? How did these co-operations influence you in “As Small as the World”?
M. Birke: Percy had brought in Edo Castro on bass , essence on back u vocals for a couple tracks and Chris (our co-producer) brought violinist Benito Cortez . The late great Mick Karn also did a remix for our track “Candy for the Meatman“, which is a free download on our HW site.
Tribe4mian: “Hardboiled Wonderland” is a novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. What made you use this name. What does it means to you? Which are your favourite writers/books?
M. Birke: ‘Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of The World’ is Murakami’s book, Both of us love his books, I myself read Bukowski, JG Ballard, Capote,Sephen King, Michael Critchon, and many many others.
Tribe4mian: How do you see the world today? Do you believe people are isolated or this financial crisis bringing them closer?
M. Birke: I see the world in constant chaos, systems of government collapsing, religion hurting people (as always) and too many good artists not getting the recognition they deserve. Something needs to happen to unite people , its seems there is no sense of humility or responsibility . I’m glad people here are protesting our greedy banks and corporations, lets hope something good will happen.
Tribe4mian: Although I would expect the album to have a heavy experimental feel, there is a touch of “pop culture” sound-wise, and I spotted that Percy likes Anthony and The Johnsons. So, how wide are your musical horizons? What sort of music do you prefer to hear on a daily basis?
M. Birke: I love experimental music , I’ve been buying the works of Alva Noto, Steve Jansen, Einstuerzende Neubauten,Bjork…a long list
Tribe4mian: How would you describe your lyrics?
M. Birke: My lyrics are always about inner quest,loss and introspection, I know Percy likes EE. Cummings and many others.
Tribe4mian: I saw that you’ll be playing electronic percussion with ‘Know Hassell Project’ at Luna’s on November 21 and again at the Java Lounge on November 26th in Sacramento. Does Percy have any upcoming gigs, too? Have you scheduled any live performances as Hardboiled Wonderland?
M. Birke: No , our hometown is really an ideal place for us to play but we’ve considered doing small club shows this Spring…we’ll see.
Tribe4mian: Please define the words “Love” and “Music”. How small is the world?
M. Birke: Love: a way to solve most problems and unite people. Music; very hard work that usually leaves me proud of the work itself but promotion is kinda daunting , I do what I can.
M. Birke: Hard to say, we have new PR co working the album, its VERY good music and we hope to get some more attention. I believe we will eventually try recording another album but its too soon at the moment.
Tribe4mian: Since your album was released through Gonzo MultiMedia UK, is Europe in your plans, whether together or with other projects? Have you visited Europe as musicians?
M. Birke:: Yes , me and Percy have toured Europe we have more connections there than here, If I had the money I would move over seas in a heartbeat !
Tribe4mian: Are you concerned about ecological problems?
M. Birke: Not really, I have a lot of health issues that keep me busy, the Earth will always take care of itself.
Tribe4mian: If you could meet a historical personality, have a chat, and get on a photo with him/her, whose photo would be hanging on the wall next to your photos?
M. Birke: I have to say….Van Gogh. Such a tragic figure who’s art was never appreciated in his own time and I understand, madness,betrayal, frustration and mental illness all too well.
In closing I encourage all the readers of this to visit our website: www.hardboiledwonderland.net
Tribe4mian: Thank you very much for this interview Martin.