Godspeed You! Black Emperor Explain Why They Are a "Rock and Roll Band, First and Foremost"

Don't call them "contemporary classical," says Mauro Pezzente
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Explain Why They Are a 'Rock and Roll Band, First and Foremost'
Photo: Ryan Kostel
Montreal's Godspeed You! Black Emperor are revered for their experimental, innovative post-rock — but, according to the band's bassist, founding member Mauro Pezzente, they're really just a "rock and roll band."

Pezzente appeared on this week's episode of the punk podcast 155, (which, full disclosure, is co-hosted by former Exclaim! staffer Josiah Hughes). The bassist explained that Godspeed began as a reaction against the corporatization of grunge music, which inspired him and his collaborators to offer up their own take on what they thought rock music should be.

He said, "When we started jamming again together, we kind of had this idea of: 'Let's do the complete opposite. Let's not have three-minute-long pop songs. Let's just play long, extended, drone-y music.' And we were probably definitely influenced by Sonic Youth a lot back then — or at least I was. And not that they [Sonic Youth] were playing 15-minute-long songs, but the idea of alternate tunings became very exciting to me."

He has since learned to accept that Godspeed are widely regarded as an art-y post-rock band. Still, he added, "We'd like to consider ourselves a rock and roll band, first and foremost, and not a contemporary classical band. But we're definitely fully aware of: this is what we do. At times, we'll play something, and, at least myself, I'll laugh. It's like, 'Oh my God, what are we doing here? Here we go again — here's another 15-minute-long song!'"

Elsewhere in the interview, he talked about how he wants Godspeed to do a split with Neurosis, and he discussed the subject of the week's 155 episode: NOFX's 18-minute-long song "The Decline," which he says he "enjoyed."

Listen to the interview below. The player is cued up to start at the interview portion of the podcast.