"We write in a very live way," says Benjamin John Power, right. "We don't write in front of a laptop or anything like that. We have all ideas set in front of us at a table and we sit across from each other." Credit: Joseph Okpako/Redferns via Getty Images
The members of F— Buttons choose their words carefully. Their songs don’t usually have any and multi-instrumentalist Benjamin John Power says that even choosing song titles is tricky territory for he and Andrew Hung, his partner in sound.
“Once Andy and I are at a point where we’ve decided a track is finished — it’s usually when we feel like it’s conjured up enough mental imagery for it to be an actual thing with some narrative and shape — and then once that’s done, Andy and I really enjoy the practice of just discussing how a track has made us both feel,” he says, before catching himself. “Although it might be a little bit of a double-standard to actually name a track, because as I’ve said before, we don’t like to push any kind of mental imagery upon the listener as such — it’s nice for them to be able to make their own minds up about what the song is saying, and sometimes they’d like to make it relevant to their own experience — but I think it frees us up to be able to operate and tell which is which.”
Their most recent album, “Slow Focus,” which came out last July, certainly evokes a lot of mental imagery, and many of the titles they’ve assigned to these instrumentals, prove quite effective, with tunes like “Brainfreeze” and “Stalker” making the listener feel like he or she has sipped a slush too quickly or has taken to nefariously pursuing somebody. But if the two are so hesitant to use words, how do they talk about the layers upon layers of sound that they are creating together.
“We’ve been working with each other for 10 years now, and we’ve gotten to a point where we don’t necessarily verbalize our communication outright,” says Power. “It’s a very heavy jamming process when we’re writing, so you can almost just feel if somebody is feeling a certain texture which we’ve decided to utilize in a jam. It’s based on a feeling and exploring within a sound. We know each other well enough to determine if the other person is into something or not. For a F— Buttons track to be a F—- Buttons track, we both have to be present.”
The Olympics? F— yeah! We can’t refrain from asking Power about the name of the band, and how it may have presented a few problems over the years, like, say, when the band are profiled in a free daily newspaper which tends to respect that anybody of any age might just pick up an edition, or be on the website of that newspaper company.
He says the wise words that are often attributed to Dr. Seuss apply: “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
“I’d be lying if I were to say that it hadn’t been a slight detriment at certain points, but we’ve been operating for 10 years, so people, if they feel they want to censor it for whatever reason, like they can’t put a poster up in their town, or mention a song on the radio, they usually tend to just self-censor. Quite often we’ll just be referred to as F— Buttons,” he says, this time doing his own self-censoring, “and that’s what they did in the Olympics and that didn’t cause too much of a problem.”
Check out a few British fans enjoying F— Buttons during the Olympics Opening Ceremony in 2012 ...