<center>Oliver Ackermann of Death By Audio, A Place To Bury Strangers</center>

Oliver Ackermann of Death By Audio, A Place To Bury Strangers

Things are great, I end up working 80 hours a week revamping up the pedal company and then spend my free time hanging out with my girlfriend Heather, recording music, mastering records, going to shows, building sound sculpture for SXSW, and effects and light machines for the upcoming A Place To Bury Strangers tours.

I used to fight off so many of things to be honest. I wasn’t really fond of much. I took piano lessons for maybe a year? I used to record myself on a cassette deck in the basement practicing piano and then play the tape back so that my parents upstairs thought I was practicing downstairs. I guess I was a real brat. Also when I was in band in 8th grade and played the trombone I had no idea how to and would get so nervous to go in to band practice I would pretend I was sick so I could stay home from school and miss it. I would even just copy the arm movements from the person sitting next to me just by looking over and hum into the trombone. I wish I had been into it but I guess that makes it when I really fell in love with guitar it made me fall hard. 

The Lightning Bolt show at the Safari Lounge in Providence particularly stood out to me, I think it was the first time I had seen them and they started from the back of the room right when the band before them finished and it was an explosion of energy and excitement. I remember also going to this show at the Boathouse in VA beach and the band was so loud that my friend and I were screaming into each others ears because they were so loud and then after them was Dinosaur Jr. and they were like 10 times as loud and it was incredible.

I kind of own a lot of Jaguars and Jazzmasters and am always looking for a deal on a neck or a body or a whole guitar at an affordable price. I have kind of lucked out over the years and gotten a lot of interesting ones. My favorite would have to be the first ones I ever got. My friend sold me a Dark Green 1965 Jazzmaster maybe in 1999 and I used to beat it up pretty bad but kind of retired it from touring for the most part in fear that I would throw it too high into the air when the moment strikes.

The other one I really like is the first Jaguar I bought which is an old Japanese sunburst guitar which I spray painted white right after I bought it. It has been cracked through the middle maybe 40 times and re-glued back together many times. It’s funny, I don’’t even know why but is always the guitar that I own that sounds the best. It can have one string on it and the neck cocked off to the side but there it is, killer feedback and rich textures all the time.

All of my guitars are quite ‘Frankensteined’. This usually happens when I crack a neck on tour and have to replace it with another or is one of the pickups breaks in half or something and then I put new parts in it. I don’t replace things really for the heck of it. I just want a guitar that works and that is good enough for me. I don’t really care what amplifier I am using, I don’t care what gauge strings I use, and I don’t change strings unless they break. For me the aesthetic and mood you are creating is much more important than actually having the perfect tool or whatever makes you feel most comfortable doing it. I like the outcome and will always attempt to achieve my entire past experience realized in a show.

I'm a firm believer that the makeup of things like the brain are so complex that while it is enjoyable to be riding on that wave of understanding what is going on, the best things you will discover you have to be open to but happen in nature. Working with accidents. So really I just try to set myself up to make as many mistakes as possible and then pick and choose between all of the things that were not even really conceived.

I think that things that are totally controlled often come out as being thin and contrived because art of the excitement of an idea is the imagination and personal connection in the mind. There is tons of trial and error but you have to have the knowledge to have places where you places where you can push yourself further and experiment with new concepts and technologies.

I don’t know if there's such a thing as paying your dues nowadays, I don’t know if that matters. If you are doing something interesting then share it with the world if you want to. It is nice to hear about how someone struggled to create what they did because we can all relate to that but I just want to be interested and driven in life so I am not going to say there are any real methods to explain what will do that for me.

I use a pedal similar to an Apocalypse, a wah filter type thing I built, an Octave Clang, an Echo Master for my voice and a Reverberation Machine. But none of them are must haves. I think they just work better than a lot of other things, can all really cut through the mix, are extremely reliable, and create rich sounds and textures that most people when designing effects try to avoid. But if there aren’t those pedals I will use anything.

I always like to change things up. I like to play a wah pedal backwards sometimes because I’m not used to it and that makes me use my ears to create and play with the sounds rather than have a method to what is going to be created. That is also why I often change up the pedal boards I build for tours so that it takes the band in different directions and we are never really used to what we are doing and it avoids anything becoming routine.

Most of what we record now is done on a computer but some of it was recorded on 4 track cassette. Some we recorded at our friends place Spaceman Studios in Brooklyn, some at my apartment I had briefly in Clinton Hill and the rest at our new space in Queens.

There isn’t any exact method we approach recording with as it is more of trying out what strikes you at the moment for what you are working to portray in a song. That makes whatever you are trying to do natural as you are constantly setting yourself up to be in a harmonious environment to what you are creating. This can be a dangerous situation, a sickening one, it really just depends.

I like things which are appropriate and as cool as they can be for the situation. That makes live shows change depending on wherever you are. I don’t really like writing set lists until like 10 minutes before a show and often like to change them as the show goes on. I think that can make it fit better with what has been happening at the show.

Published: In Print Issue Nº 06—2018
Interview by Vice Lesley, Thinkababymusic Collective 
Photography © Ebru Yildiz