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SHK: HOW DID YOU BOTH MEET AND WHAT COMPELLED YOU TO START EX COPS?

BRIAN HARDING: We were both at a Clean show several years ago and met backstage. I don’t know why or how either of us was back there. We ate all of their vegetables and talked about music. A month later we were demoing “Spring Break” in Chelsea and I wrote 10 songs in a few months span and recorded them all in a bedroom with Dan Shapiro.

YOU BOTH PLAYED IN OTHER BANDS BEFORE EX COPS. HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS AND DO YOU STILL WORK WITH YOUR OLD BANDS?

BH: It’s pretty different in the sense that I’m not down to do shitty tours across America. Because it was fun when I was 23 or whatever, but we pick and choose things a little better now. We’d rather DVR Homeland than say “yes” to a crappy show.

AMALIE BRUUN: Being in MINKS was fun and I’m very happy I met Sonny and that we recorded an album together. Through MINKS I met some great people, that I’m still close friends with. Brian and I have known each for years though, and it feels very different having a band together with someone you know so well. I love everyone in Ex Cops, including our manager and record label, so I feel very happy about this whole thing.

YOU HAVE RECENTLY ADDED THREE OTHER MEMBERS TO MAKE A FULL FIVE-PIECE BAND. WHAT DO THEY BRING TO THE GROUP AND HOW DOES IT EFFECT HOW YOU CREATE MUSIC?

Sam, Leif, and Kai are all old friends. My old band toured with them and we became very close. I’ve known Leif for almost a decade, and have always admired his playing. This is not a pick up band and that feels fucking awesome!

WHAT ARE YOUR MUSICAL BACKGROUNDS, AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE IN A BAND?

BH: I grew up with music. My dad plays trumpet and has played with everyone from James Brown to George Carlin and taught the history of Rock and Roll, so I spent hours watching these filmstrips of Bowie and Prince and Iggy Pop and being completely enamored. I knew it was what I wanted to do.

AB: I grew up playing violin and dancing ballet so my first musical inspiration was classical composers such as Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Stravinsky and Chopin. Besides that, I listened to Scandinavian Black Metal, from my part of the world. To me those two genres have a lot in common. My dad is a songwriter and producer so there’s always been music around me. His music was more like Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, The Police…

CAN YOU GIVE US AN IDEA OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS THAT WENT INTO MAKING “YOU ARE A LION, I AM A LAMB?”

BH: That was a perfect example of a totally organic process. I wrote that song very quickly, and booked a studio spot that week and recorded it in an hour because the drummer had to go bartend. We later re recorded it with John Siket, but kept some of the original parts. To me it’s all about that Kevin Shields guitar bend. Without that I wouldn’t have released it. So that took a while to get.

YOU HAVE A VERY AIRY POP SOUND, WHO ARE YOUR MAJOR INFLUENCES AND DO YOU FIND THAT YOU INCORPORATE SOME OF THEIR STYLES INTO YOUR RECORDINGS?

BH: Making music for years in a project that’s pretty dry and saw reverb as a four-letter word, I was ready to pounce on that Holy Grail pedal. I saw Dead Man a few years ago and became obsessed with Neil’s guitar tone. I got a Memory Man and started to write in that style. Then I moved in with a roommate who was into Felt and Cocteau Twins and the world started opening. So I really got into that dream scene. There’s so many. But I will never stop writing pop songs.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CONTENT FOR YOUR VIDEO “THE MILLIONAIRE?”

BH: I had nothing to do with it. That’s all Tim Underwood, who is an amazing found footage dude I’ve known for a while. He’s done some other stuff for us (Broken Chinese Chairz) and is working on a video for James as well.

BESIDES OTHER ARTISTS, WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR MUSIC?

BH: I go to a lot of shows. Bad shows and good shows. I think it’s really important to see everything happening in New York. And there’s a lot of good. And a lot of bad. I just like to sit in the back and watch bands and see where they go wrong and what they get right. I also walk almost everywhere and the iPhone voice memo is a Godsend.

WHO DOES THE MOST WRITING IN THE GROUP? WHAT DO YOU FIND IS THE BEST WAY TO WRITE SONGS? DOES IT COME NATURALLY AFTER EXPERIENCES, OR IS IT MORE LIKE WRITING A NOVEL WHERE YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERYDAY?

BH: I do the writing and try not to be a dictator about riffs and lines, and these guys are all so amazing that they come up with a ton of stuff around my songs. Amalie is incredible at writing her own harmonies, and we’re starting to write more together. I’m trying to do that, but I’m an only child so it’s hard for me to share sometimes…

WHAT ARE THREE THINGS WE SHOULD:

SEE: I just saw Polanski’s Repulsion at Film Forum. It’s so disturbing and hilarious and sexual.

HEAR: The Basement Tapes on cassette.

KNOW: Your rights? I dunno. Or don’t.

 

“The Millionaire” — Ex Cops / Video by Tim Underwood  2011

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