By Andy Downing
RedEye special contributor
7:39 PM CDT, September 3, 2013
Savages, a quartet of English post-punk noisemakers, burst onto the music scene earlier this year promising something different: Silence.
"The world used to be silent," they wrote in a manifesto tattooed onto the sleeve of their debut LP, "Silence Yourself," "Now it has too many voices."
Even so, the band's raw, invigorating music practically screams, "So what's one more?!"
Reached at home in London, bassist Ayse Hassan discussed the group's image as "serious musicians," the allure of vinyl and why the crew recently started asking audience members to set aside their smart phones during gigs.
Savages are always portrayed in such a serious light, so I thought I'd start off asking if you wanted to open with a joke.
[Laughs] Not really, no. I mean, we come across as being serious because we are. When you put so much hard work and dedication into what you do, you can come across as quite intense, perhaps. But that's not to say we don't have a laugh a lot of the time.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? Do you binge-watch terrible TV shows or something along those lines?
Like a vice? Hmm. I can't speak for the other girls, but I enjoy exercise. I tend to be someone who likes the outdoors, and I'm very much an adventurer at heart. The last time we were in America we got to explore a bit. There was a great independent book shop in New York we stopped off at. And we always love record shops.
It seems like you designed the cover art for "Silence Yourself" with vinyl in mind. Are you a record buff? Or have you embraced the MP3 format?
I think all of us love records because the whole thing is a piece of art. When you download the MP3, you don't have anything you can feel. I think I'm someone who likes to collect things, and that's why vinyl appeals to me nowadays. With a record it's not just about what it is. It's also about the time you spent finding this thing and what was playing in the shop when you bought it and so on.
What else do you collect?
I don't know if you have them in America, but in the UK we used to have phone cards ... [with] really beautiful drawings or photographs. I've always collected them. I remember as a kid finding like a Blue Peter edition, and it was like, "Oh, wow!" I don't know if you remember Blue Peter, but it was a children's show and it was just really, really cool. You don't see phone cards around much anymore. I think they got phased out like five years back.
You definitely have an intense playing style. Do you embrace music as an outlet for aggression?
You could say so. The intensity comes from the passion I have for making music. When I'm playing that's all I'm thinking about. There is nothing else.
Is it something where you're so locked in you don't even notice the audience?
I play with my eyes closed, so I don't really notice what's going on anyway. I think that's the whole reason we put up these signs in the venues when we play asking people to immerse themselves in the music. You get a lot of people taking pictures or holding their phones up and it can be really distracting. When the whole front row is flashing ... it takes you out of that mindset where you're just feeling the music. Whenever I go to a gig, I want to completely focus on what's happening onstage.
It's an idea that seems to extend beyond the music. In interviews, the four of you continually express this idea of living in the moment rather than staying glued to Facebook or Twitter or whatever.
Yeah. Life can be so fast-paced, and sometimes you can be in a city with lots and lots of people and still feel completely alone. Everyone is so busy rushing to the next destination, or being on the phone and so completely distracted that they lose touch of very basic things like where they are and who they're with. You might be with a friend and still be communicating by phone or on Facebook. It's such a modern thing.
Have you ever been that person who forgot to turn off their phone before going into the movie theater?
[Laughs] To be honest, I probably have. I don't think it's a terrible thing if you forget once or twice, but if you're openly being rude then that's not great.
Savages, 9 p.m. Sept. 16 at Metro, $19
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