2008-06-28 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz
and Marco Gariboldi
NINa: Supporting 16volt shows sounds like a dream coming true to someone who's been a fan and a leader for an industrial rock band. What are your expectations about the gigs?
I EXPECT TO GET TORE UP.
Aside from that, the whole band's really excited about the 16volt shows. It's pretty obvious that they've been a big influence on me musically, and they're one of the few bands that everyone in EGC really agrees on. I've played a lot of shows with my favorite bands over the years- the Thrill Kill Kult show in Vegas a couple of weeks ago, 242 at WGT in Germany with Psyclon Nine last year, opening for Chemlab with Deathline in 2006... So I don't get the "OH HOLY CRAP I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M MEETING YOU" thing that I got when I was younger anymore. I kinda miss that, but I tend to have better and more interesting conversations with musicians that I really like now.
I'm looking forward to meeting Eric Powell, and hanging out with Jason Bazinet, who I've known for ages. When Chemlab was in SF last November we had a fairly epic afterparty in their hotel room, and we had a great time playing with him at the final SMP show in Seattle this past March.
That said, I also plan on throwing maturity and reason out the window and acting like the most obnoxious fanboy and jerkass opening act possible just because I can. After the LA show, I plan on spending at least two hours haranguing Eric about not playing the complete track list from "Demography", then demanding a three hour sound check in San Francisco, and constantly yelling "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!??" every time anybody asks me to do anything.
I also plan to lick Gordon from Mankind Is Obsolete's head. He has no choice in this. Gordon, I am coming for you. DO NOT FIGHT IT.
Marco: You and Greg closed your project See Colin Slash circa 5 years ago. Additionally you published a retrospective disc with rarities and remixes last year. What memories do you have of that period (early ’00)? Why did you choose to close it and start your own solo project?
Eric: I can't remember any of it. The ravages of all the PCP and Cheez-Its that we smoked like heroin or mainlined, when necessary, have left my recollection of the entire experience little more than a sodium and drug-addled haze, peppered with memories of 600lb guys in sweat pants and uncomfortable neckties.
What I do know is that ending See Colin Slash wasn't really my decision per se. Greg was moving away and getting tired of making Industrial Music- he had gotten really involved in all this World Music malarkey and by the time he moved out of our place I was ready to strangle him in the wake of the three months he'd spent crafting this insane 10 minute-long Bollywood/Electronica epic that wound up on his first Mr Twit disc.
We both really loved See Colin Slash, but we also had drastically contrasting priorities and goals that wound up stopping us from ever really getting anything done. It's pretty easy to see who wanted to do what by contrasting the new EGC disc with the last Mr Twit album, "International Rock and Roll"- which I Strongly recommend if you're at all interested in rock music made with unusual instruments and influences. There's a fantastic reworking of "Elephant" by See Colin Slash on that disc as well.
As for why I wound up with a solo project... I suppose I was tired of the conflicts that arise in a more democratic band environment. I had a lot of strong ideas- none of which actually made it in to what is now Everything Goes Cold, I might add- that I wanted to push without having to justify or explain them to anybody. I definitely miss having the talents of another person to lean on when I get stuck, but the stuff I've released as Everything Goes Cold is a pretty accurate reflection of my ideas and influences. And I'm pleased with that.
Marco: How much of See Colin Slash and his comedy has been existing in Everything Goes Cold?
Eric: I'm trying to make the EGC stuff a bit less "ha ha" funny and more thematically consistent than See Colin Slash. Obviously there's a certain amount of humor in "I've Sold Your Organs On the Black Market To Finance the Purchase of a Used Minivan", but it's also a lot darker than anything we would have done in SCS.
There seems to be a lot of serious misconception about the comedy in my music, and the idea of comedy in Industrial Music in general. People act like it was always dead serious and there was never a "funny" Industrial song before Kompressor came around, but most of the classic American bands used humor in one way or another. Ministry’s album titles, KMFDM’s lyrics, the Thrill Kill Kult’s entire concept, the Revolting Cocks… Going back even further, Foetus and Laibach both had pronounced humor elements in their music. At some point we all seem to have gotten on to this very dire, dead serious track where all the irony and sarcasm got replaced with either angst-ridden emotional noodling or over-the-top sci-fi imagery. And that stuff’s fine, but it bothers me that it seems to have completely eclipsed the older themes.
NINa: Prepare to be refrigerated.. What for? What is coming?
Eric: The album. The angry robot refrigerator. And judging by the year's releases so far, the return of Coldwave as a key element of the US Industrial scene, and hopefully the rest of the world, eventually.
Marco: You wrote on the EGC official Myspace page: "The full album 'Everything Goes Cold vs. General Failure' will be out eventually." What did you mean?
Eric: The writing for the album isn't done yet- far from it actually- so I don't know when it will be out yet. The EP, however, is a supplement to it, so I wanted it to be clear that we were going somewhere with this, and it doesn't just exist on its own as a free-standing entity.
NINa: Do you pay attention better to your music - the rhythm, dynamics, guitars, vocals or to the lyrics?
Eric: I probably spend more time on the lyrics because I'm less comfortable with them. Especially with the more "serious" songs. I spent hours harping over phrasings on "Abort" and "Fail", and I'm still not totally comfortable with them. Writing the music generally comes pretty naturally for me, though, as does the actual vocalization of the lyrics once I finish them.
NINa: What was a magic of the remixes in the 90s and what do they lack in the 00s?
Eric: The bad remixes- the "problem" with modern remix discs, if you will, goes back pretty far. I was listening to the single for "Democracy" by Killing Joke the other day (so we're talking 1996 or so,) which has some really great stuff on it, and I hit a remix by Hallucinogen. Hallucinogen aren't really my thing, but they're good at what they do, and that mix should be a great melange of the original track and Hallucinogen's strengths... But it's not. It just a random mediocre Hallucinogen track with a few very brief samples of "Democracy", with little regard for its meter or tonal elements. You get the feeling that the night before their deadline, they suddenly realized they hadn't done any work and just tossed bits and pieces on top of some other track they already had.
A lot of remixes since then seem to reflect that sort of standard. People don't impose the same standard of quality on remixes for others that they do on their own work, and people release mixes of their own stuff because they like the artists or feel indebted to them when they know the actual mixes aren't good. That's bullshit. And it's become so businessy- people pay for mixes from artists they don't even like and assign them songs that they think should be "hits" in the hopes that it'll attract attention, and the remixer doesn't care about the song and the final product is crap. As a result, people don't care about remix discs anymore and even the business angle has become pointless. I'm not saying don't pay for remixes- I actually paid for two on the EP, and if somebody does good work for me I have no problem paying them for it- but you shouldn't take remix work if you're not going to do something you're proud of.
With Prepare To Be Refrigerated, I was very particular about who I asked and even more particular about which mixes I chose, and even sent a few back for changes. I gave every band all of the originals and let them choose a track they actually liked or at least had ideas for. This resulted in a ton of mixes of "Fail", even though I considered "Minivan" the single, but they were much better quality than they would have been if I'd imposed a specific song on everybody. This also has resulted in the EP being, quote, "full of fail," which hopefully will amuse a few people enough to make them buy it. And almost as importantly, I spent a lot of time on the track sequence and and spacing, so you can actually listen to the disc straight through comfortably. This is what I think a remix disc SHOULD be. I'm hoping if enough people put out good work like this, the bar will be raised and people will start caring about remixes again.
NINa: What bands of the 90s had the biggest impact on your music if you described your 'Prepare to be Refrigerated' album as an 'American oldschool industrial'?
That's a tough question- I'm pretty fixated on mid-'90s Coldwave bands, I could name a ton. Pretty much the entire rosters of Re-Constriction and 21st Circuitry, most of Fifth Colvmn and '90s era COP International... And the humor and attitude of the Re-Con comps has definitely been a big thing for me. My top influences from that era, musically: Babyland, Diatribe, Christ Analogue, Hate Dept., Chemlab, Acumen Nation, Society Burning, Cubanate, SMP, 16volt, Battery, Slave Unit and Final Cut.
Obviously I'm pretty into earlier WaxTrax! era bands like Ministry and the TKK and Die Warzau and whatnot, and a ton of earlier stuff like Laibach and Neubauten and Foetus as well, but the Coldwave era is huge with me.
Marco: I’ve read an interesting report about the state of industrial music you posted on your Myspace blog. What does "industrial" mean to you nowadays in terms of music, subculture, fashion and lifestyle?
Eric: Oh man, that rant is gonna be following me around for months.
To me, "Industrial" is not simply defined by whatever Throbbing Gristle was thinking it meant in the 1970s, nor is it "stuff that I like" or "stuff that I don't like"- two popular definitions amongst the kids these days. It's a broad and diverse culture that includes pretentious arthouse jerks and 17 year-olds with plastic hair and gas masks. It's Tactical Sekt and Marching Dynamics and maybe even VNV Nation all at once. We're unified more by our shared cultural heritage than our ethics or aesthetics, but there are certain themes and ideas that seem to be pretty omnipresent in every corner of the culture- the mechanical nature of society, humanity's relationship with technology, emotional detachment and its effects... These ideas are in the background of every aspect of our various sub-cultures. Those ideas are important to me, and that's why I'm involved with Industrial Culture.
I may not like every band or trend that comes out of Industrial, but I like a pretty good chunk of it. Some people will say things like "Oh, I don't like [some band], so I don't like Industrial Music," or "I don't like gasmasks or squidheads, so I'm not a Rivethead." That's bullshit. If you're part of this culture- in fact chances are if you're even reading this interview- you're part of Industrial Culture. This self-loathing bullshit we've all been doing for years now has got to stop.
Resistance is futile.
NINa: What bands would you like to tour in the near future with and why them?
Eric: Well, it looks like we'll be playing some more shows with Babyland soon, which is exciting for me because they're my favorite band. And it's pretty hard to beat playing with your favorite band. It'd be cool to get on a bigger and possibly longer tour- one filled with more phallic euphemisms- maybe Combichrist (who we actually played with at our very first show) or Chemlab. Or Killing Joke or Foetus if I can dare to dream. Or Laibach. That'd be sweet.
On a more... Um... Grounded note, I'd really like to get out with some of our colleagues in this whole Neo-Cyberpunk thing we're experiencing right now- Cyanotic, Hardwire, Left Spine Down, Rabbit Junk, and on the non-guitar front there's genCAB, HexRX, XP8, Split Enz, Howard Jones, Kajagoogoo, Dexy's Midnight Runners... Er, wait.
Marco: You've been a member of other bands like Deathline Int'l. or Psyclon Nine for the last couple of years with the production of Da5id Din (former Informatik). Do you still collaborate with these bands? Any plans for the future?
Eric: Well, Da5id does my mastering, as well as the mastering for a good chunk of the Metropolis roster. He's local so I can actually go sit with him and check it out, which is a huge benefit, and he's a friend.
I see Count0 from Deathline pretty regularly, and he's also a close friend. He's been taking his time with the new album, Pax Americana, to a pretty serious extreme- so much so that I kinda lost patience and stopped working on it, although he knows I'm there for him if he ever needs me. Some of the new DLI tracks are really fantastic- definitely more complex and exciting than most of Cybrid. Cybrid's actually not one of my favorite DLI albums, although it's the only one I'm on, so I'm happy to see the new disc moving in a different direction. Hopefully I'll make some sort of guest appearance on it or something before it's done.
As for Psyclon Nine, it seems pretty unlikely that I'll be working with them again. That's a complex and stupid situation involving a lot of personal bullshit and financial hoohah. I did a little writing for the new album last year, but I have no clue whether Nero plans to use it or not. He actually wrote a great synth line on one of the tracks from the upcoming EGC album, which was originally planned for the EP, called "Retry", so hopefully P9 fans will be in to that. He and I also co-wrote a track for the last Dismantled album that didn't get used, which I've been bugging Gary to do something with. The last time I talked to Nero I got the impression he was trying to take things in a different direction or something, so who knows. He's an amazing musician, and I'm really proud of the work I did with Psyclon, so hopefully they'll continue doing well and making good albums so I can continue to ride on their coattails and forever be known as "That one guy with the pointy hair who used to be in a band that people actually care about," as I have been for some time now.
I've still got a bunch of other collaborative crap happening though! I'll be playing at least a couple of shows with Caustic this year (where by "playing at least a couple of shows" i mean "getting really, really, REALLY drunk at least a couple of times") and we've been working on a track for the new Caustic album together, I'll probably be joining XP8 for a bit when they come out, and I've been bugging Jennifer to un-fire me from Ayria. So I'm sure you'll all be seeing me around somewhere with some dumb band this year, wherever you may be. Possibly in Kazakhstan playing tuba for KMFDM.
NINa: How long do you want EGC to survive? What would increase a long life of the project to you?
Eric: I'd like EGC to survive at least until the milk in the fridge goes bad. Pasteurization usually helps with stuff like this.
This being a solo project on some level, it can't really break up... So you're kinda asking me how long I want to live. So from that perspective, at least until next Thursday.
Marco: You've done the covers for a lot other bands' songs: Covenant, Front 242, Stromken so far. Why did he choose these particular songs but not the others?
Those were all acoustic covers we did for See Colin Slash. The acoustic tracks were a very specific and calculated idea- we weren't just choosing songs we liked and messing with them. We intentionally chose overplayed, very familiar tracks and re-created them in a drastically different style. I can't really speak for Greg, but for me that project was largely about tricking the listeners in to listening to styles of music they'd normally loathe by forcing sharply directed humor in to them.
"Headhunter" specifically was a reaction to the Headhunter 2000 project, which we found largely unnecessary and ridiculously timed. "Night Riders" we did because we were actually opening for Stromkern and decided it'd be funny to start the show with a drastically altered version of what was, at that time, their "big hit". Fortunately, they thought it was pretty funny. We did a bunch of other acoustic covers as well, all of which have thus far gone over well with the original artists, and Dainel Myer actually asked us to do a Haujobb track (we did "Eye Over You") after we played a show with Cleaner a long time ago.
NINa: Is there any music equipment you've been dreaming about to own it
Eric: Well, I borrowed a banjo for the first verse of "I've Sold Your Organs on the Black Market To Finance the Purchase of a Used Minivan" that I really enjoyed playing... Can't go wrong with more banjo.
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