Interview: Tracer, E-Werk (Köln) Englisch1. November 2015
Mike – Guitar/ Vocals
Lest We Forget: You started the band when you were 16 years old..
Mike: Yeah, I had been playing in a blues band with my brother in high school. I was playing the guitar and didn’t sing that much. At high school I got angry with everything, as teenagers do, and found Audioslave. So I realized it is way more fun to tear my guitar up and to be noisy. That’s when we met Andre and so the band started, when we were just at the end of high school.
Lest We Forget: Have you already thought about playing in such big venues in front of 2000 people at this time?
Mike: It was always the plan [laughs]. I think there are different stages, where we thought it would might not happen and definitely thought it would happen. That’s music, with all these ups and downs. But it was always the plan. We saw videos of the Foo Fighters and said that’s what we’re wanna do. So, we’re here now, playing with Apocalyptica. The next thing for us to do is our headline tour next year and see how well that’s going.
Lest We Forget: What do you like more: Big crowds or small crowds?
Mike: I know a lot of people say it’s nice being in a small crowd. Having played in front of small crowds and also big festival stages, that’s where the band truly shines. We did a crowd that was about 3000 people in Prague recently and it felt so much more comfortable to us. It’s one of those things we’ve aimed for so long. That’s what’s in our minds, knowing that this is what the band is mend to do. You can feel, that that’s where we belong, I guess.
Lest We Forget: You’ve put so much effort in your last album that you’ve nearly got no free time. Have you ever thought about breaking up with the band during this time?
Mike: No, never. We mostly argue more than ever with this new album but it wasn’t because of a personal reason. I think it was more about artistic frustration. So it was brought onto ourselfs by ourselfs. I guess we have to blame ourselfs for this. We really wanted to do something different with this album, to push some boundary of what we thought we should be about. To present the band in a way, that feels comfortable to us. Like using voices and not screaming, trying a guitar sound that wasn’t massive. You have to think differently. You have to push yourself and when you’ve never done this before, you get frustrated. But through this frustration and through that journey we ended up with ten great songs. That’s our proudest work ever and I think that the album „Water For Thirsty Dogs“ isn’t just our greatest album, I think it’s a really great album for rock generally.
Lest We Forget: I think so too! So, you’re completely happy with this album?
Mike: If you finish an album you maybe wanna change something, because an album is never really finished just when you stop working on it. We play some songs of it tonight and already changed some little parts slightly. Maybe it’s better…or worse. Everything that you learn from a new record, you just made, you put into your next one. Hopefully it’s keeping us being better and better. One thing about this album I do like is that I still listen to it. The other tour I didn’t, because there were things that were so elementary to me now, that we shouldn’t have done. On this one we’ve been working with Eric Reichers the engineer we’ve worked with in Los Angeles. He was by far the best one we’ve ever worked with. He was a magician with the knobs and buttons, all the shit that I don’t understand. The sound is ahead of this aggressive, loud punchy rock band, that we thought Tracer would sound like. I love listening to it. The sounds sound like we’ve always thought the band should sound like. That‘s the first time on any album. That’s how proud I feel about the whole thing.
L: You just announced a headline tour for next February. Was it because of the feedback you got here, or do you just like Germany?
Mike: Both! We’ve been here six or seven times and have a really good bound with the German fans I think. But the problem with doing a support tour is, that people are never able to see your full show. We’ve got three alums worth of work and it’s hard to condense that into a forty minutes set. Every time we get off stage, people go crazy. So we thought, that it’s time to finally do a full length set in Germany. We’re really excited about it. Even if it’s fucking winter. But I hope to see some snow falling, because I’ve never seen any.
L: Will you play your whole new album next year in Germany?
Mike: We don’t know yet. We’ll see through this tour, how different songs are working and then make our setlist. I’m sure most songs of „Water For Thirsty Dogs“ will be in the set but we’ll have to wait to see.
L: Today you’re just supporting and you don’t have the time for many songs in your set. How do you decide which songs will get on a setlist?
Mike: Well, we have about thirty five, or forty minutes. So I usually choose the ones, who rock the hardest. But we also like to play some songs you can clap or sing along to, too. Usually it’s just what makes us feel the best. But the set is never long enough.
L: Are there some songs, that you really wanted to play live, but never have?
Mike: Not me particularly. There have been some songs, I absolutely do not want to play live, though.
L: Which ones?
Mike: There are a couple ones, that just don’t suit. A couple of „El Pistolero“, the slow ones I think. But being on tour is like a testing round. Bands like the Foo Fighters exactly knows which songs work just because they’ve done it for so long now and have been able to test. We know what songs work of our first two albums. And this tour is about finding out, what songs work life for „water for thirsty dogs“.
L: Which songs do you think will work live right now?
Mike: Of the ones we’ve been playing in the set I’d say „Water For Thirsty Dogs“, „Crying Animals“, „Us Against The World“ and „Astronaut_Juggernaut“. They’ve gone very well. It should be interesting to see how the rest works. We’ve got two full length shows in the UK after this, so we’ll be testing out some of the new songs.
L: Do you see some differences between Germany and the UK?
Mike: Yeah, definitely. I think the age of people is different. We have some older fans in the UK, because we first got on tour over there. In Germany the people are sightly younger. People in the UK are a lot rowdier I think. The people in Germany like to clap and sing along more. It’s different everywhere. People in Italy and Spain like to scream. I think that german crowds like to listen and really take it in. Spain and Italy just want to party.
L: What’s your favorite piece of your own merch you’ve got right now?
Mike: I’ve designed some of it. Actually one that’s not on display at the moment. The car-shirt that we have at the time is our best seller. It looks wicked. This is like the thing with the songs. There are some that you know don’t work and some that work well over the years.
L: Have you ever seen somebody at the street, wearing one of your shirts?
Mike: Yes. It happened in London. I went into a guitar store and bought a guitar when some guys came at me like „Are you mike from Tracer?“ It turned out, that they were fans of the band. It was an awesome moment. It’s a bizarre feeling to be across the earth and someone recognizes your face. It happened only a handful times. We’re just three dudes from Australia, playing music and we forget, that people are playing to come and see us and enjoying what we do. It’s like a dream come true.
L: You’re just three members in this band. Do you think it’s easier to make decisions on songs and band stuff?
Mike: Yeah, there is only two other peoples shit you’ve got to deal with [laughs]. We’ve only got guitars bass and drums, so we have to find new ways to make those three things work together to create something new. It trains you to become a better songwriter.
L: What do you argue most about in the band?
Mike: Songs I guess. The directions of songs. Sometimes it gets a bit tough, because everybody thinks he knows how it would sound best. There is a lot of stuff we argue about, but it never lasts more then a couple of minutes. At the end of the day, we know what we’re aiming for and we are willing to do whatever gets us there, including arguments.
L: Yeah, sometimes you just have to argue, to find the best possible way.
Mike: Sure. And when you’re on tour you’re living in each others pockets. You’ve got to be very tolerant to each other. Last night a lot of our stuff broke, like my guitar and in-ears. It was just like this custom fuck up of circumstances, but everyone managed to calm down. This is the beauty.
L: There’s a song on your new album called „We’re only animals“. If you would be an animal, which one would you be?
Mike: My favorite animal as a kid was a zebra, but I don’t know why. Now it would be a kangaroo. We have some around my house. They’re pretty lazy. They lay in the sun and feed on grass. I think I can deal with that. Or a koala: Just sitting around the whole day. They get stoned of the leafs that they eat and that’s why they’re always so chilled out. Maybe a koala would be better.
L: There are not many young bands with this grunge/stoner sound like you today. What’s your favorite young band in this scene?
Mike: There are some new albums which I really like, Mastodons new album for example is really wicked. But there aren’t lot young bands that I really dig.
COMPLETE THIS SCENTENSES
-Water for thirsty dogs…
Mike:.. because it’s fucking hot.
-The other band members…
Mike: are smelly after long periods of time.
-My best friend
Mike: That’s a dangerous sentence to finish. I’ve got a lot of best friends. I’ve got a girlfriend, I’ve got a really great dog, I got two members of my band, I’ve got my brother.
Mike:…has been amazing
-Our first show ever
Mike:.. was in the worst pub in Adelaide and it sucked. And so did we. [laughs]
Mike:.. will be great. We love playing in cologne.