F**k Buttons: 'We struck gold at Olympics, but haven't won everyone over'
WHEN THE DUO LAST PLAYED BELFAST, THEY WITNESSED A NASTY ACCIDENT. THEY TELL EDWIN GILSON WHY THEY HOPE THIS TRIP HAS LESS DRAMA AND DON'T REGRET SAYING YES TO DANNY BOYLE
The last time Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung, aka F**k Buttons, came to Belfast, they were witness to a quite harrowing incident. Glancing out of the window of the Black Box minutes before they were due on stage, they saw a young girl get run over by a car. Understandably, Power was "a bit spun out by the whole thing".
"It was horrible and put a bit of a dampener on the show to be honest," adds one half of the audaciously titled duo. The girl wasn't seriously injured, but Power hopes F**k Buttons' upcoming Belfast show, on the opening night of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival next Thursday, will pass off more smoothly.
Far from acting as an ominous symbol for Power and Hung though, the two have made great strides since that traumatic Belfast night in 2009. Their soaring second album, Tarot Sport, with its slow-building euphoria and fantastical song titles like Flight of the Feathered Serpent, left critics marvelling at F**k Buttons' 'noisegaze' sound (a mix of electronic, industrial noise and shoegaze effects).
Power, who has also played in punk and hardcore bands, explains these intriguing sonic stylings as such: "Although a lot of the equipment we use is electronic, I still don't really see us as an electronic act. We also use a lot of guitar pedals so in some ways, we approach our music in the same way a guitar band would. I think of us as a live band; we don't sit around staring at computer screens."
In other words, F**k Buttons are in the business of "impulse-led jamming until we collect a decent amount of songs".
According to Power, it's the telepathic chemistry he has with Hung that is the secret behind the duo's success. "This is the 10th year that Andy and I have been working together, and we've created our own mental language which means we don't have to verbalise things to each other," he says.
Two of the standout songs of Tarot Sport, Surf Solar and Olympians, were selected by Danny Boyle to soundtrack the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012. Power is appreciative of Boyle's support, and insists F**k Buttons "never even thought about" denying permission for their music to be used.
This was the moment F**k Buttons began to receive nationwide attention. Power flatly denies that the darker element of Slow Focus, the duo's 2013 album, was a reaction against this increased recognition, a challenge to any new fans.
"Definitely not. We'd already started writing Slow Focus when the Olympics happened. The darkness of it comes from exploring new machinery and new emotional hooks."
Power takes evident pride in his assertion that, despite the coverage The Olympics gave his band, F**k Buttons "will always polarise people".
"If everyone liked our music, I think we would definitely have gone wrong somewhere along the line," he laughs.
Indeed, F*** Buttons aren't destined to trouble the top of the charts; their name alone dictates that, and that's without taking their intense, challenging and often abrasive music into consideration.
No matter, says Power, he and his musical partner aren't in it for the accolades anyway.
"We don't want to rush things. All we're interested in is making music that is true not only to ourselves, but also to the listener. We always let things grow organically."
F**k Buttons play the Festival Marquee as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival next Thursday, May 1. For details, visit www.cqaf.com