Loop was formed by Robert Hampson in South London in 1986. Loop released 3 full studio albums between 1987 and 1991, along with numerous singles, Peel sessions, and compilations. The band stopped performing and recording in 1991. Loop has since re-united with a line-up that includes the original Gilded Eternity era members Robert Hampson, John Wills, Neil Mackay and Scott Dowson to perform a handful of shows in 2013/14. Our friend Ryan Muldoon at Revolt of the Apes has compiled a list of 10 questions for Loop’s Robert Hampson in anticipation of their APF 2014 performance.
What would you imagine your music would be like if you were beginning to record only now, instead on years in the past, before the advent of (even more relatively) inexpensive recording options for home use? Are there any producers or musicians that you’d like to record with that you haven’t yet?
A very tricky question to answer if truth be told. I think possibly that an album like A Gilded Eternity might possibly be considered to have been a little bit ahead of itâ€™s time.
Of course, as you get older, your opinions change on how the creative process works. Perhaps it would be more abstract than before.
Everything ever worked on could change, hindsight is always a wonderful leveller in terms of creative energy. Something could always be changed or done differently. So, if you are asking me as a 49 year old, then I can only say that experience would lend itself much more to the creative process and also technology would enhance things greatly. Those early Loop albums were done on shoestring budgets, purely analogue equipment and very limited technology. But, that gives them their strengths. Sometimes, too much can be used to make very little.
As a man in his early 20â€™s put into that position now, I simply canâ€™t answer how I would approach it because purely the facilities available could so radically change everything. In truth, everything has itâ€™s place. An album is only a snapshot of what is happening very much of that specific time. That is why it is easier to progress and move forward than to always be looking back. Whatâ€™s done is done, rightly or wrongly. There are always people Iâ€™d love to collaborate with as a solo artist, but thatâ€™s in a different, more experimental field. For Loop.. I kind of like the idea of working with White Fence right now. I love Timâ€™s music so much.
What have you had the opportunity to learn about yourself when working on music alone, and how is that different than what you have learned about yourself when collaborating with others?
Thatâ€™s pretty deep, eh?
All I can say is that I enter a very different world by working by myself, to the attitude I have collaborating with others. Cannot say itâ€™s ever changed. I have the luxury of being able to do both and remain happily in each place when it arises. Not everything works, be it solo or collaborative. Sometimes, things just fall flat. Accepting that is the best thing you can do and move on. Never be afraid of completely scrapping something. Instinct will often play a role of that. Instinct is always there, however old you are. Adapting to work with others possibly comes easier to some more than other people. I guess the best solution is accept that collaborative work may not always be as finite as a solo work. But there is no harm in having a different outlook to either practice.
What was the first album that captured your imagination based on its sound alone – not necessarily the songs, the image, the artwork, but the very sound itself? Why do you think that album resonated with you so strongly? How have your thoughts in this album evolved over the years, if at all?
Oh, thatâ€™s a hard one too. Lots of records have grabbed my attention purely for sound alone. Iâ€™m one of those people who is just obsessed with sound. Probably was from a very early age. I find pretty much anything â€˜musicalâ€™ – very Cageian in hindsight, even if I never knew who the hell he was when I was younger. White Light/White Heat definitely blew my brains apart. So, for the sake of not writing biblical pronouncements on so many records, letâ€™s stick with that. I love that record now as much as I did then. Itâ€™s in my all time top 10 without a shadow of a doubt. Itâ€™ll never be replaced. Still sounds as revolutionary now as it did then. Doesnâ€™t age one iota.
What does the title “Heavenâ€™s End” represent to you? What can you tell us about the sequencing of the album of the same name? We ask here because we find the album to be such a perfectly self-contained release (for lack of a better description), and itâ€™s difficult for us to consider the songs in any other order.
Well, itâ€™s ambiguous of course. Itâ€™s either the end/destruction of Heaven or just simply reaching a place that could be described as a place of wonderment in certain philosophy. Itâ€™s always hard to describe the nature of an album in context of running order, when really, it obviously dictated itself at the time. You cannot imagine it any other way I guess as a listener because it becomes so familiar so quickly. There are no outtakes from that period. The album was recorded as is. So there were certainly no other tracks that could replace the ones on the album itself. Again, itâ€™s very much to do with being of the moment. Itâ€™s more easily answered I would say by someone outside of the actual creation of the album to describe itâ€™s merits. Iâ€™ve always had difficulty making comment on something I had a hand in creating, because itâ€™s offering a completely different range of emotions and feelings that the listener wouldnâ€™t know of. So, that leads itself to better being left to critics / fans to form their own opinion or idea of what works and what doesnâ€™t. Iâ€™m always too busy thinking about the next one. Once itâ€™s cut and finished copies are made, I donâ€™t review it or listen to it anymore. It goes back to that idea of being just a moment in time. It could always be something different.
In what ways do you approach the live performance of Loop differently than the recorded efforts? Can you tell us about some of the most compelling live performers you’ve had the fortune of seeing in your life, and how they made you think differently about experiencing or performing music live?
I like bands who always run differently on stage to the studio. Itâ€™s impossible to recreate Loop in the studio as there is so much detail going on. Youâ€™d need at least another two guitarists to get even close to matching the nuances of the studio mixes. So, I would say itâ€™s more raw live – more spacious and minimal. But, the sheer volume will create a greater sonic depth. Letâ€™s say in the studio, Loop was always about width. Live, it is about depth.
As for other performers, there are a lot of compelling performances I have seen in my time. I was always particularly taken with Swans. They still can play a mean show, but nothing comes close to their mid eighties incarnation. Talk about intense. Wire were always a live favourite, purely for their insistence of always tearing up their own rules every time they played, challenging themselves as well as their audience. The Birthday Party always had me in their spell. John Cale, whether completely wasted or sober has always been a favourite of mine. Ah, the list could be endless.
Iâ€™m not sure any could be said to be a direct influence on how i would consider a performance. Again, I would find it hard to say anything about either a Loop performance or a solo one as I just donâ€™t see it or feel it as an outsider would. Normally, Iâ€™m concentrating too hard and I do get quite nervous, so itâ€™s almost like blacking out for me live, I just donâ€™t feel very much until itâ€™s finished. I could never be able to really tell you what made a good one from a mediocre one. Bad ones only come to mind in the sense of equipment failure or something technical as I remember them.
Is there a single experience – musical or otherwise – that you can pinpoint as being central to your decision to reanimate Loop?
No, I canâ€™t say there was. It has been suggested for so long to reform by so many people, it had become a running joke really. â€œAsk Robert, heâ€™ll say noâ€ and then one day, I just couldnâ€™t find a reason to say no anymore, but there was no reason bend it as such. It just felt the right time to consider it.
What music have you been listening to lately? Do you have any recommendations for us from the current London scene or beyond? If push comes to shove, whatâ€™s your favorite Faust song of all time and why?
I donâ€™t live in the UK anymore (London) and havenâ€™t done for many years. My home is in France now. I donâ€™t go out very much and i certainly hardly ever see live bands these days. Often, if i go to Paris to see any, they are normally friends of mine from the old days.
I like a lot of bands like Dirty Beaches, White Fence, Woods et al. I mostly listen to older music nowadays, most often experimental or classical.
I still listen to old favourites all the timeâ€¦ Neil Young, David Bowie, Scott Walker and so on.
Fave Faust track? Hmmmâ€¦ Iâ€™d say it is a coin toss between â€˜LÃ¤uft…HeiÃŸt das Es LÃ¤uft Oder Es Kommt Bald…LÃ¤uftâ€™ or â€˜No Harmâ€™. I canâ€™t really say why.
When did you first become aware of Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that youâ€™re looking forward to seeing on your trip to the States?
I guess Iâ€™ve heard about it since it started. Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™m still quite vague on who is actually playing there this year, I must do my homework haha. Thereâ€™s talk / hope we play a show or two with White Fence, that will make me very happy.
In his book â€œKafka on the Shore,â€ author Haruki Murakami writes the following: â€œBeyond the edge of the world thereâ€™s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.â€ Your thoughts?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Whatâ€™s next for Loop?
Hopefully, a busy period of concerts.
Catch Loop at APF 2014 May 2 – 4. Tickets and camping passes are available for purchase HERE.