THE BLOG
07/30/2015 01:03 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2016

A-Sides with Jon Chattman: NY "State" of Matt Pond PA; Howling With Bang Gang

Take me with you
Out of my life
Our words collapsing as we leave them behind
My hands knew the void before I felt your force

Music should not only be heard, it should be felt. With all due respect, I simply can't feel a Rick Astley song but that's neither here nor there. Moving on, Matt Pond PA have been making music for years that often cuts to the bone while still providing a heavy dose of ear candy. The New York band - fronted by Matt Pond (insert "duh" here) - just dropped their tenth album The State of Gold, a reflective record that expands on his/their musical and lyrical mastery. At Primary Wave in New York City earlier this month, MPA performed a pair of tracks and sat down for a chat. Enjoy it won't you? Yeah, you will.

"Take Me With You"

For an exclusive A-Sides performance of "More No More," click here, and for our A-Sides interview click there.

It's been a big year for wolves - musically anyway. (Sorry Taylor Lautner.) Indie pop rockers Dreamers had an alt-hit earlier this year with "Wolves." Ditto for AWOLNATION who scored one with "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)." Keeping with that theme, Bang Gang AKA Bardi Johannsson of Starwalker and Lady & Bird, just dropped his long-awaited new album The Wolves Are Whispering . Howl much?

The album is the Icelandic stud's first in seven years under the Bang Gang banner, and it's already spawned two standout singles "Out Of Horizon" and "Silent Bite," the latter of which features Helen Marnie of Ladytron on vocals. We recently spoke with Johannsson and quizzed him about the new record.

Seven years you make me wait for Bang Gang? Why?! Why so long for The Wolves Are Whispering?
There has been a lot of other music from me that you could enjoy for the seven years. A few film scores, theatre work, my other projects, a Lady & Bird album with an orchestra and choir, a Lady & Bird opera, a Starwalker EP and other stuff. The Bang Gang album was worked on little by little in between these projects. I can promise that the wait for the next Bang Gang album will be much shorter.

True and thank you.. Can you explain the title of the album?
Early this year I was writing down possible titles for the album. The Wolves Are Whispering always went on the top as I felt that this title was the right one to describe the general mood of the record. Strangely, last week, I was going through notes I had written two years ago [and] had written that the title [of the next record] should be The Wolves are Whispering. This title reveals very well the concept: an underlying danger but no howls.

You have a bunch of amazing collaborators on the record - how'd you snag them?
The song I wrote with Bloodgroup was from songwriting sessions we did. We ended up with three ideas and this one was completely in the spirit of the album. I got their permission to put down a few guitars on it and it was there. They are amazing guys and friends. "Silent Bite," the song I did with Helen Marnie, was made during the period when I recorded and co-produced her solo album. She is one of my all time favorite female artists: such a special voice and good sense for melodies.

For Jofridur, I had noticed her talent with Samaris and Pascal Pinon. When I did an acoustic tour in China, she joined me to perform on the Bang Gang shows...we got along well. For Keren Ann, she is a very special friend and a long time collaborator. We have our band together, Lady & Bird. We have [also] been involved in each other solo albums in some way. There was never a question to have her participate in some way.

There's something really haunting about your music. I almost picture it playing in the background of a film like "Drive." Is there a cinematic element to your music or am I off base?
You are absolutely right. When I write music, I imagine scenes, conversations and images in my head. I recall emotions that I have felt and try to express that with music. This is probably why it is easy for me to score films and write for theatre. I wouldn't maybe agree to Drive, but some film that is a bit more emotional.

Talk to me about your recent Starwalker work, and on an unrelated note, your anticipation for Luke Skywalker's work in the next Star Wars film.
It was a great pleasure to work with JB (Air's Jean-Benoît Duncke) on the Starwalker project. He is a real genius and a great guy. Now we already have an EP released and the single, "Blue Hawaii." Our full LP is ready and will be released in the coming months. I think that album is just beautiful and I am very excited to have it out. For Luke, I am not such a fan, personally I am more of a Darth Vader person. I have a big Darth Vader figure in my office. I saw it in the toy store when I was buying a birthday present for a kid, and I couldn't resist to have it.

How could you not resist the Dark Side? Moving on and lastly, can you offer words of wisdom that my now seven month old son can follow when he's older?
Almost everything is possible if you work on it. Sometimes it just takes a little time. Be honest and always do what you think is right for you. Don't let others influence you in doing something you don't want yourself. Be careful, but not paranoid. Sometimes you need 10 "no's" to get one "yes". Believe in yourself... and to the father I say : put your son #1 in your life, nothing is more important.

Amen brother.
Delve into Kate Fogler
Each week, A-Sides prints its "Delve Into Twelve" countdown. This week was no different, but since the "A-Team" has grown this summer, Jon Chattman thought it might be nice to include some playlists of his colleagues. Here's Kate Fogler's Spotify list - in no particular order. Listen and love it.

About A-Sides with Jon Chattman: Jon Chattman's music series features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists featured on the series include Imagine Dragons, Melissa Etheridge, Air Supply, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, fun, Bleachers, Charli XCX, Marina and the Diamonds, and Bastille.

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