Copenhagen post-punk trio Less Win are into John Coltrane as much as they are Mission of Burma. Having released their debut album Great through their own label Sixxxxx in 2013, they were quickly picked up by Danish label Big Oil, with whom they released a split LP with Battle called BigOil005, and one EP, 2014’s Further.
Immediately arresting, the band cultivate a bold cacophony of experimental yet anthemic post-punk that – in theory –shouldn’t fit together, but ultimately works with uncompromising panache. Each new release sees the outfit expand their sonic guise, adapting to suit their present headspace. Yet throughout their body of work a layered momentum – all fidgety and restless – remains, their aesthetic zips feverishly and rarely less than riveting.
Shrouded by a certain level of mystery (Google search attempts live up to the band’s name), we caught up with drummer Matthew Moller in light of their upcoming LP release next month titled Trust.
Robert Greer: Hi Matthew, what are you up to?
Matthew Moller: Just taking it easy in Copenhagen. I’m from Australia but I’ve been here for about eight years. The other two guys are Danish but with varying birth parents, like half Spanish and Polish.
RG: In the last ten years there’s been this absolute explosion of post-punk bands in Denmark, where do you think that energy has come from?
MM: I mean I suppose it’s hard to pin down, but when I moved here in 2007 it was quite easy to get into the scene. I moved here with a girlfriend I was with at the time, and I wanted to go out a lot and go to shows and play music, like I’d been doing back home. So I took that natural step of going out and getting drunk with strangers to see shows and check out what was happening. I must say the scene was kind of crap at the time, a lot of ‘by numbers’ 60s garage bands, some experimental bands and lofty, post-Radiohead indie jangle stuff which was pretty band. But I think a lot of the really interesting stuff you’re talking about started in around 2010. I think just loads of kids grew up at the same time and just made something that felt new and fresh. I think people wanted to find something slightly more exotic, and perhaps abrasive.
RG: I’m mainly aware of Lower and Iceage, and I’ve heard about the scene around Mayhem [an underground venue in Copenhagen]…
MM: We’ve played there once or twice. We know the bands that own and run the space and we’ve been to a lot of shows there, but we’re not particularly aligned with that scene, although we’re certainly friends with a lot of people that are. We do hang out and share ideas with those guys, but it’s not a home base for us, we’ve always maintained our own independence and identity, but it’s a huge part of the scene and culture in Denmark. It’s basically made up of bands that rehearse there who can then put on shows in the space, and they bring a lot of touring bands to Denmark – the line ups can be quite varied.
RG: To my British ears I hear a lot of The Fall, PiL, and a touch of A Certain Ratio as well as a lot of noise music, but there’s also this huge anthemic element to your music, what are your influences?
MM: We’re definitely into those bands for sure, and they were certainly our entry into that world of post-punk. We never really set out to replicate those bands though, you just get your influences and try to piece them together in an interesting way I suppose, so that you can make something that is new and refreshing. In this day and age if you try ape something or steal ideas, people are going to notice no matter how you do it, so it’s not even worth trying, we try to approach music with fresh ears and make music that people might find interesting. With our upcoming record we were listening a lot to jazz and more world music, a lot of dub and classical, basically just taking a different array of influences and trying to arrange them into our idea of what rock music might able to be. Trying to stretch it a bit beyond your usual three chord mayhem.
RG: There seems to be a lot more variation and contrast in your new record, both in the instrumentation with more horns and strings, but also in the more expansive feel of songs like Rituals and Mare.
MM: I think it’s probably just maturing as a band, and realising that there’s nothing wrong with using instruments that wouldn’t have been considered by a rock band ten years ago. I think it comes from just being aware and being open to life experiences and different approaches to everything.
RG: I read an article in Overblown where you talk about five records that went into Trust, and there’s Felt and DNA, who although totally different I can definitely hear in your music. Then you also reference Bolero by Maurice Ravel, which coincidentally I also really got into after watching a Basquiat documentary online. He used to listen to it on repeat when he was painting apparently.
MM: Yeah, and I think every band should, and maybe inevitably does grow out of their initial excitement of just playing punk music. Because of the fact that you have so much access to literally anything via the internet, there are no rules at the moment. Unless of course you have some kind of religious mantra or dogma or a manifesto about sticking to something that’s really basic.
RG: What are your plans for the next year?
MM: We’re realising our album in June and then we’ll be coming over to England to play a few dates, then going on tour in Europe for a few weeks, playing some summer festivals, come back to Denmark to work on some new material before coming back for some more festivals in the late summer. And then going home, and having a bit of a rest.
Less Win‘s new LP Trust is out 17th June.