Three albums in and POP.1280’s sonic mappings of dystopian lands have come to a high point (for the time being at least) on the critically acclaimed new LP Paradise. Thematically, the album touches on a number of references from the past, present and future. From 80s post-industrial rock, to swiping lyrics hitting on today’s tech gorge and visions of an almost implausible distant utopia.
In amongst those broad motifs are influences drawn from specific body’s of work in the arts, be it music, film or literature. Guitarist Ivan Drip and vocalist Chris Bug picked out some of the key touchstones that helped to shape Paradise. Read their thoughts below.
Pop 1280 play live at The Shacklewell Arms on Saturday 23 April for Bad Vibrations. Support comes from M!R!M
(Film) Dir: John Carpenter, They Live – This film has been one of my favourite movies since I was a teenager. I stumbled upon it randomly then and was struck when I re-watched it in the last year how much the themes of the film ring true today. Originally a critique of Reagan era economics and values, They Live is scarily spot on about life in the United States right now. Carpenter’s politics, but also his humour and overall aesthetic have influenced me more than I think I even realise. (Ivan Lip)
(Music) Cabaret Voltaire: The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord – This album was in heavy rotation in my house around when we started writing for the album. I don’t know how much it directly influenced any one song, but it made me start playing with drum machines and thinking more about more electronic sounds and some more danceable beats. (IL)
(Literature) Author: Arthur C. Clarke, Songs of Distant Earth – I read this not long before we began writing songs for Paradise, and it’s brilliant. Something about the hope of space exploration, the hope that maybe we will be able to explain more of our role in the universe, came through this into our album. Paradise gets written about as if it’s a diatribe about humanity’s failures, but I think it’s more about a hope that things might get better and a frustration that it hasn’t yet. (IL)
(Music) Leonard Cohen: Songs of Love and Hate – The simplicity of Cohen’s music heavily influenced some songs on Paradise. The way that he can paint a vivid picture lyrically while using mostly just an acoustic guitar and some other minor touches led to me wanting to do the same thing on songs like Pyramids on Mars or Chromidia without drowning the songs in lots of guitars and letting the song breathe. (IL)
(Music) Ministry: The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste – Ministry put out three of the best albums to fuse punk, industrial, and metal during the late 1980’s and 1990’s. The sampled drums and processed guitars played into us experimenting with our own programming and treatments. (IL)
(Music) Ebbhead (Nitzer Ebb) – Listening to this album inspired me to push my vocals on Paradise. I wanted to sing more, and to express the meaning behind the lyrics using inflection and different tones. On past records, I never got to spend as much time recording vocals as I might have wanted to, so we made that a priority this time around. (Chris Bug)
(Film) Dir, Peter Watkins: The War Game – This horrific film got me thinking about how deeply humanity’s self destructive urges are ingrained in everything we do, both as individuals and as a species. It influenced a lot of the irony and double meaning that we used on Paradise. It also made me think about how we define “human progress” and how so many things that we are proud of as a culture are actually terrible and deadly. (CB)
(Literature) Author, James Blish: Cities in Flight – Reading this epic novel got me thinking about another side of Paradise: when we create technology that is beyond our wildest imaginings, what will we do with it, and how close will we have to come annihilation before we take any action towards self preservation. Also, can we ever really change, or will humans always be bent on competition. The optimism in this book is always in the shadow of human weakness, which I appreciate. (CB)