Posted on by Oran

A Place To Bury Strangers are one of those bands, that when witnessed live, have the potential to rip apart the conventional and deliver breath taking rituals of noise. Overdrive spoke with Oliver Ackermann about the bands new album “Transfixation” touring with Nine Inch Nails and his company “Death By Audio”, who just happen to make custom guitar pedals for the likes of The Flaming Lips, Lou Reed, U2 and Nine Inch Nails.


As lead vocalist and guitarist for A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS, Oliver Ackermann has his hands full and is bursting with creative energy that could power a small village. The Brooklyn based band have been challenging the mainstream since 2002, creating unpredictable, delicious slabs of refreshing noise that leaves you hungry for more and questioning yourself for not knowing about them sooner. Oliver spoke to Overdrive about their forthcoming show in The Workman’s Club in Dublin at the end of this month (March 31st). Get stuck in…..

OD: First off, let’s talk about the name of the band and its meaning, did you have any other names that you were thinking of and why did you settle on this one?

OLIVER: Yeah, so at the time our drummer was reading a lot of Aleister Crowley and he was telling us about this poem called “Aceldama“. We thought it was a cool name, you know a place where you could bury strangers. It was one of the names going around at the time that fit with what we were doing as a band, which was showing up and playing messed up rock and roll music.

OD: It’s kind of hard to categorise A Place to Bury Strangers as there are many different aspects and sounds in the music. What would be the main source of inspiration for the music?


OLIVER: There are so many different inspirations; our music comes from a thousand different places. I suppose that it is just living life and a reflection of that. This is a hundred different bands and groups and concerts that we have been to, art shows we’ve seen and books we have read. All of these things just develop into one and it is a reflection of our personal lives. As artists, we try to tap into all these different experiences as much as we can. Maybe the biggest inspiration is excitement and life, all the things going on when you are pissed off and depressed and what you can do about it. So really, it’s making what you can, happen.

OD: Can you talk a little about what has changed for you personally in producing and releasing music since you started doing this for a living?

OLIVER: Yeah, loads has changed and the playing field is constantly being leveled. Like the introduction of computers and now anybody can create music and put it out there. I think it is awesome and we may as well embrace it because it is happening now whether we want it to or not. It has changed what was an excellent art form and opened it up so everyone can play a part in that and it increases the competition. You get to be more creative and have more access to different media to influence you. So yeah, it has totally changed. It is a whole new experience, so even putting a new record out there doesn’t even matter; you don’t need to be a traditional music artist anymore. It interesting, like you are standing on unstable ground but life is like that anyway.

OD: The new record “Transfixation” out now (since February 17th), can you talk about mindset and approach to this record and the decision to title the album “Transfixation”?

OLIVER: Originally, we went into this with the goal of recording and capturing what our live show would sound like on a record; we wanted to capture the feeling that you get at a live show. We had just been on some small tours and we were experimenting in different ways in the studio to capture the essence through technical things. And as this was going on, we discovered that it was capturing very special moment and it didn’t matter how we were capturing these things, it was all about producing this amazing moment.

As this was going on we had too much of each other and sort of had a breakdown where we were spending too much time with each other and things were too intense so we took a break. During the break there were loads of questions about what we were going to do and I wrote a bunch of other songs which, when we came back, we turned these songs into other things. So the record was just becoming too consuming and so overwhelming for us all to record and that is what the title describes. It was almost to the point of mental breakdown recording this album and it took a lot from all of us and changed us as people.

OD: This is the first album that Robi (Gonzalez, Drums) has been involved with, did you write riffs based around his style of drumming, or was it a kind of situation that he just gelled in straight away and made it his own?

A place to bury strangers 1

OLIVER: It was a bit of both. I would have a strong influence on what everybody does and I try to push people in certain directions. Robi had a very strong influence on the different styles and he wrote most of his own parts, which is what we wanted for this record– we want the album to be a collaborative effort. I couldn’t write parts that would be as natural to him, as he would write them for himself. I suppose it is like, when you are playing live and things have gone totally wrong and you are totally fucked. You sort of have to make something up on the spot and build something up out of nothing. These are some of the greatest things we have ever done and I wanted to capture that on the album.

OD: You have produced custom peddles with Death By Audio, for the likes of NIN, My Bloody Valentine and The Flaming Lips, how did all of this come about?

OLIVER: I was trying to create more instruments that I couldn’t get anywhere else and create sounds that I had in my head ,which I wasn’t hearing with what I had. So I read tonnes of books, tried to make lots of different stuff and I started the company on a fluke where I wanted to go on holiday with a girlfriend to Europe for a month and I didn’t have any money. I had this idea of an effect that nobody had ever come out with before and I thought this would be really cool, so I made a website and sold enough of these pedals to fund the trip and since then, I have been taking custom orders from what anybody wanted and build those effects pedals. It was a big learning process as well as constantly playing music.

OD: I would only assume that you are a fan of music in the vinyl format as the band has released a series of variations between 12” and 7” records. How do you feel about the resurgence of vinyl over the last few years?

OLIVER: There is something really sweet about a record and being able to hold this thing, it’s kind of romantic. It sounds so good and you can physically see the machine that makes the sound right in front of your eyes. It is a lot more like what the artist intended you to hear so you are more purely in touch with the artist and I think it is a really good thing. You kind of need to listen to the whole thing and spend time listening to music. Music is a thing that you can’t really touch it or feel it, you need to focus and physically put this thing on, so it gives you the opportunity to sit and listen and focus. So yea, I think vinyl is fantastic.

OD: Since we are talking about vinyl, one of the things that really gets me going is the artwork on the records; can you talk about the cover of the new album and the concept to the artwork and how it came about?

APTBS Transfixation album

OLIVER: It was done by an artist called Miles Johnson and he would have done some different things on the themes of post war and images that were distorted in different ways and it kind of made sense in some ways. Maybe it doesn’t look slightly political, but some of the band is very commentary about nothing specifically, but general ways of life and awareness of not focusing on atrocities and stuff. It kind of reflected these images and really made sense.

OD: What would be your all time favourite album cover?

OLIVER: Maybe ‘Funhouse’ by The Stooges. I don’t know if it is my favourite, but it is the first one that pops into my head.

the Stooges Funhouse

OD: You will be performing in Dublin’s Workman’s Club on March 21st, for anyone that has never witnessed you live (including me) what would be the best description of A Place To Bury Strangers Live?

OLIVER: It is going to be a crazy fucked up disaster.

OD: Will you be selling any vinyl at the live show in Dublin?

OLIVER: Of course, there will be tonnes of it. It will be at our merchandise stand, so be sure tho check it out.

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS play Dublin’s Workman’s Club on Tuesday, March 31st and there are just a number of limited tickets left for the show. Get yours today with Ticketmaster. For more information, check out MCD for stage times and support slots.




Words – Oran O’Beirne

Transcription – Karyn Corrigan

Photography – Stock images