2010-05-29 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz
and Marco Gariboldi
Marco: First of all, we at Fabryka are very happy that you have accepted our offer to be interviewed, and we are proud to have one of the founding bands of the Industrial Grind / Metal scene willing to chat with us. Unfortunately there aren't many sources of information on the internet about Sonic Violence, do you want to introduce yourself to our readers?
: Thank you for your interesting questions – I hope some of the following answers are worthy of them.
: It's kind of you to show an interest… though being thought of as one of the founders of a scene comes as a bit of a shock. Though it would explain all those baffled-looking faces in the audience back then. And we just thought the bemused were stalking us.
: I formed SV out of the remains of anarcho-punk band The Sinyx in January 1986, with the the idea 'Wouldn't it be good if Killing Joke were REALLY vicious'. The Sinyx had gradually become less political and more philosophical in outlook, matched to a darker, heavier musical style. However, I wanted to move progress on further than I thought was appropriate with The Sinyx, so I shaved off my Mohican and formed Sonic Violence. The first line up never appeared on stage and I struggled to find a suitable drummer, finally abandoning practices at the end of '87. I then spent a year writing new material and recruiting an entirely new line up which was ready to begin rehearsals at the start of '88. Initially, we had Spencer from Kronstadt Uprising on vocals but this didn't work, so Murray and I took over yelling duties. The bassist from the first line up (a bloke called Matt) had a great bass sound, with a deep growl and a sharp treble edge together. To take this a step further, I opted for 2 basses in the new line up – one (Murray – ex- Kronstadt again) with as much bass tone as possible to shake the floor/intestines and the other (Andy – ex-Sinyx) with light strings and razor sharp treble to assault the ear drums and add an edge to my guitar. With a good mix, this combination was awesome live (but never recreated adequately in the studio) and gave us a very unique sound. I remember someone saying they felt like they'd been beaten up after one of our gigs – result! An arsehole on You Tube recently missed the point completely and suggested that we could have just got a bigger bass amp. You could not achieve the intense polarization of bass and treble tones by simply using a bigger amp! Anyway, this was the line up that recorded "The Sacrifice to Strength" (released on our own label as a vehicle to demonstrate serious intent) and later "Jagd" on Peaceville and after 3 long years finally made its public debut at the beginning of '89. The band continued in this form until 1991, when Bill joined on sampler, which I wanted to use as an extra tool to pound people into the floor with. Some of the others had different ideas on this, which resulted in me being the victim of a coup. From this point the band followed a different track and I had no further input – over to Paul for the rest of the history.
: The new line-up, now drums, percussion, sampler and 2 basses, then had to find its identity and produce a new album in about 6 months. Not ideal, we wanted more time, but Peaceville wanted a record… such is the way of these things. Hence the Transfixion album was more an album of a band finding its feet, trying to find a new direction and without the time to exert the quality control that it should have been given time to do. The band toured to promote the album but without any support from Peaceville/Dreamtime it was clear that we'd both go our separate ways.
After the split with the label we self-released The Bastecyst Mixes 12" and continued writing and touring, the final release being a split 7" with Headbutt. These last releases were pretty much sampler based tracks & remixes as, without a label, economics were now dictating how we recorded. The band finally split in 94 or 95 with sufficient material for an album, but the frustration of not having the money to pay for a recording session.
NINa: You were signed to Peaceville for the purpose of releasing the "Jagd" CD. Which is all good. However, did you ever try to get a deal with Earache? Or were they rather not interested because they had Godflesh whose music sounds quite similar?
: We didn't try to get signed to Earache, or any other labels. A mate of mine knew someone in Axegrinder, who were on Peaceville at that point, and suggested that I send in a demo tape. I did so and received a reply that said "Fuck Yeah – I want to sign you immediately!". After "Jagd" we had the choice of leaving Peaceville or signing a new 4 album contract. I wanted to leave, the others didn't and that all contributed to my departure from SV. I felt that Peaceville were stitching us up and wanted to see what other options were available to us – possibly Earache or one of the European labels, but a label less death metal orientated.
I don't think we sounded that similar to Godflesh – especially live. We came from different directions, as SV was a heavied up punk band with 2 basses and Godflesh came from Head of David with a more rock/metal base. Perhaps the post "Jagd" material was more like Godflesh? I've not really listened to any of it, so can't comment on that.
: I could never see/hear the Godflesh connection with the early SV; the only similarity was that they were both very, very heavy. That was it. The latter material was even less like Godflesh as guitars had been dropped completely from the line-up.
Peaceville certainly weren't helping matters with the Godflesh comparisons, the only time they "assisted" on a tour they had these posters produced with "Gods of monorific grind, make Godflesh sound like New Model Army" as the banner. The first the band knew of this was when they saw them pasted on a wall somewhere in Europe. More funny than true, but I vaguely remember this rattled cages and probably pissed on any chances of SV getting together with Earache.
NINa: The "Jagd" album was more grind metal than industrial, while Tranfixion was more industrial than grind. How do you believe the third unreleased album would be described if reviewers had gotten it back then in the middle of the 90's?
: Who can predict how a reviewer will describe anything? The world was awash with tribal/global dance music at the time so I couldn't see it getting welcomed with open arms! We were a four-piece by this stage (just drums, percussion, sampler and bass) and though the music was still extremely heavy it was more twisted than our previous releases. Songs swung more violently between loud & quiet and the humour had got a lot darker and a little bit crazy, pretty much what you'd expect from a band about to implode!
Marco: Is there any chance to see the Sonic Violence discography (physical or digital) reprinted? Any word about a reunion?
: Hard to say. I think Peaceville became part of Snapper Music and they may not be interested in releasing any SV material. We could release the Sacrifice to Strength recordings in digital form and possibly an early live recording in the future. On the possibility of a reunion, this did take place a year ago with all of the "Jagd" line up apart from the drummer. Unfortunately, the replacement drummer didn't last and Andy decided that he didn't enjoy playing any more. However, I now have John (ex-Sinyx) as a replacement bassist and a possible drummer, so hope to be rehearsing again this summer. Material will feature the faster guitar based material and some new or previously unrecorded stuff.
: As for a SV Mk2 re-union it's not something that I would want to do. I've got used to working on my own at my own pace without any external pressures. To go back to a band set-up would not suit my current method of working… or rather my methods would be incredibly frustrating to others! Besides, you have to evolve. Why live in the past when you can live in the present and look to the future?
Marco: The Sonic Violence beginning coincides with the last years of Margaret Thatcher's administration. It's now been 20 years since the end of her term. How do you see your country? Are you satisfied with the quality of life in the United Kingdom compared to late 80's?
: Britain changed quite drastically during the Thatcher years and many regions lost their sense of community, replacing it with greed and zombie-consumerism. Sadly, this change has yet to be rectified and the herd is content to graze at the shopping centres. I find it all sad and futile. The quality of life (as opposed to the quantity of products people own) has deteriorated rather than improved since the '80s.
: A beautiful country ruined by bad management. I despair. I despair at the stupidity & arrogance of this country, the people running it and most of the people populating it. Things were bad in the 80s but now… it's all so vacuous. I'm off to commune with the shrubs.
NINa: Have you had any spectacular shows in the 90s? Where were the best clubs supporting such music, at least in the UK?
: My favourite appearances with SV were mainly in Europe rather than the UK – the Batcave in Tilburg, NL and The Epple Haus in Tubingen, Germany were two of my favourites. There weren't any good clubs in our part of the UK and we didn't actually play very often. In fact, we found it very hard to get venues to take us, especially before we signed to Peaceville.
: Hmmm, yes, that same story continued. If it were not for Jennifer at Sonic Relief we probably wouldn't have played in the UK at all – most of our gigs were in mainland Europe. Reithalle in Berne, Centre Culturel Mirabeau in Marseille, L'uisine in Geneva, Clandestino in Faenza, Epplehaus in Tubingen, AZ in Saarbrüken were all very supportive as were plenty of other places that I should probably mention but it was a long time ago and I have an abysmal memory for such facts.
Marco: The Copenhagen meeting about climate ended few weeks ago, and our politicians missed a good opportunity to remedy the disasters perpetrated by man. Especially, since they haven't even mentioned the ongoing "cloud-seeding" experiments (confirmed only by Russia, China and Thailand) implemented a daily basis in our skies. Are you inclined to the possibility that man could and should control the weather?
: Whenever man attempts to control anything, there is usually a disaster waiting to happen. I would probably say NO, as it would most likely end up more of a mess than it is already - or someone would work out how to use it as a weapon.
: I think it's unrealistic to think that mankind could ever have control over every weather system on the planet, as they are far too complex. To control something you have to be able to predict it, and as we can't do that, we don't stand much of a chance.
So should we even try? Well, no. It's a wholly unpredictable science on a local scale, so what are the impacts of local interference globally? Furthermore the seeding process involves filling the atmosphere with chemicals, which require the use of planes or rockets to carry out the seeding process, so pumping even more CO2 and NOx into the atmosphere. Not exactly an environmentally friendly process is it?
Marco: Taking the cue from the recent statements by Ignacio Arroyo (Barcelona University Professor), who believes that the Internet should be the heritage of humanity... With freedom of access worldwide, should the copyright laws be re-written in your opinion? How has the internet changed your life and the way you live? Do you think it was easier for musicians to release an album before the age of the world wide web, or now?
: Copyright laws are effectively useless now, unless you are a large corporation with a well-paid legal department and even they are struggling with it. 3 years ago, Fiesta mp3 announced that "Jagd" had sold over 320,000 downloads in 2 weeks, for which we receive a total of 0. It's great that so many people were interested in SV after nearly 20 years but it doesn't help us to finance another set of recordings. I disagree with Ignacio Arroyo. I believe that the internet is part of the modern trend towards isolationism. People used to meet face to face and bonds were formed. You can develop ideas with far more interaction and intensity when you look into someone's eyes. Instead, we communicate with far more people but electronically, which is a very 2 dimensional medium. It's all about quantity rather than quality.
: Copyright laws will have to adjust to the new technology. That's just a normal process; rules & laws always have to be adapted to cope with new inventions. Though one of the major issues will be finding a way of remunerating the copyright holders for their work. Without a form of income some people's work will have to stop, since it is the income that funds the work. At it's extreme this could leave the creation of new works and ideas in the domain of the wealthy few… or to those of us with the drive to maintain a regular job that can subsidise their creative whims.
The internet is both a blessing and a curse, a terrible time-waster but a great source of knowledge. I can now link up with like-minded people across the planet. I have a choice as to what I buy and from whom, and I can source things in an instant rather than spending days/weeks/months trawling around the country looking for it. Whatever I want to do or know, the information is there. And there lies the problem; I'm getting addicted to researching stuff rather than actually getting on and doing it! Bad back, RSI, I blame the net!
Yes, the web has made a difference for musicians, and again it's a double-edged sword. It was the affordability of home recording technology that first made it possible for anyone to make an album. And now the 'net has made it possible to release that album to the world without the involvement of record labels. But then you still have to get around the issue of promotion and getting people to hear your work and this is probably more difficult now than it ever was.
Marco: The technological progress and the consumerism of the 80s is in stark contrast with the "green soul" of recent years. We are rebuked by the media every day about the excessive smog from our cars, energy waste and so on. Rather than going forward, we are seeming to go back to 100 years ago in many aspects. It seems that humanity is not able to find a proper way of development since the outbreak of the industrial revolution. What do you think about it all? Can we find the right balance in the coming years?
: I don't think a balance will be found, as a democratically elected government will never have the stomach to take actions that are unpopular with the herd, no matter how necessary. While our political systems are based on commercial profit, there will never be cohesive movement forward. This doesn't mean that I wish to propose a different political system – just that I can see the failings and limitations of the one we currently have! Now I know why I turned from politics to philosophy…
: Firstly the rank consumerism of the 80s was despicable and should not be seen as a good thing. Everything was for the short-term, vast amounts of money were made without due consideration being given to the long-term consequences. It was an offensive exercise in mass gluttony for which we now pay the price.
And as for being rebuked for not considering the consequences of our lives, why is this a bad thing? If it makes the human race realise that everything is finite, and to question our consumption, then this can only be for the good of ourselves and every other living being that occupies this planet.
The human race faces some tough decisions, and that probably means we need to adapt to a new way of living, it may not be as cosy as our current one, but would that be a bad thing? If we refuse to adapt, and continue to see all the trappings of this modern world as our "right" then we may just end up on the sharp end of Darwinian theory.
Marco: After recent events, and the "threat" of a punch in the mouth to Great Britain by Iran's foreign minister (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8433625.stm) it seems that the possibility of dialogue has been reduced to a minimum. Do you think that there is now an inevitable conflict with Iran?
: No. I don't believe that anyone takes this rhetoric very seriously and Britain is too bankrupt to be able to afford another war!
: Conflict is never inevitable. It depends on the commercial whims of the people in power behind the governments. Is there more to be made or lost from a conflict? Moreover can the West afford yet another conflict? Yes, it was an undiplomatic, but maybe justified, way of telling Miliband to keep his nose out of Iran's affairs considering Britain has a habit of criticising others whilst ignoring it's own actions.
NINa: While technology runs forward, the human race assumes patterns of regressive traits. Losing ethics, pride, credibility, personalities, original ideas, ability and patience to read and understand, with severed loyalty. What do you think drives people, especially artists, to become sell-outs way too easily?
: Perhaps it is the wealth that follows success which corrupts and softens, or the elation of success itself. Having never actually been successful enough to be corrupted in this way, I am probably not qualified to reflect on this…
: Money is the usual driving force, with fame running a close second. With the right PR an "artist" can earn enough in a couple of years to be secure for the rest of their life. That's a huge temptation that many people would find hard to resist.
NINa: Religion blinds the minds of many nations still, as well as leads to war. Their common mindset involves utilizing weapons of mass destruction against those who are innocent, or in some countries, passes biased, faith based legislation that imprisons, or oppresses it's citizens. For what reasons do you think our leaders are afraid to speak out, or ban the influence of religion from politics, finances and development, as well as medicine, even though they are aware that all of those areas should be free to bring about more modern progress and without unnecessary barriers? Do you think this reflects religious corruption within the halls of power?
: I think this goes back to the question of the way in which democracy functions – religious factions are voters and the politicians will sell their soul to anyone's devil for their vote. Also, politicians (such as Tony Blair – remember him?) can have religious convictions of their own, which further reinforce the status quo. For the benefit of anyone who has not read any SV lyrics, religion is poison against reason.
: Religions have had their claws in the political system for centuries, so although it would be great to remove religion from politics, it's just not going to happen. Yes, it could be argued that this is a form of corruption, but then Commerce also corrupts politics. Politics is corrupt.
NINa: The same lack of social development paradoxically conflicts with the progress of technology. This eventually becomes a touchstone in music, as skills of artistic expression evolve to reach the philosophy and body of the product. The last true revolution involving guitar driven music was the Seattle scene in the 90's. Although, perhaps nu-metal brought up some new sounds for a while too. Was there anything else afterwards musically that seemed to make an impact to you?
: Not yet, but I'm really hoping that there is a generation growing up who will not be content with blending The Clash with The Beatles.
: Well, "scenes" just pass me by, the Seattle one included, as they are usually the result of one geographical area or one type of music being chronically over-hyped by the media and the record labels. Create excitement and you create money.
On the whole it's best to ignore scenes and look to the music of individual bands/artists. Go back through the history with an open mind and just find great music that stimulates you. Never be restricted to one genre and never stick to one era. And just because it doesn't do anything for you now don't dismiss it. In 5, 10, 20 years time it may just blow you away.
Marco: What do you think about globalization? On one hand we have countries that push to form a single world government (as in the recent new EU constitution that has just been approved). On the other hand we have contrasting and separatist realities in countries such as Spain, Italy, and many Eastern European countries who are struggling to be independent. Are you more "no-global" or do you agree with the direction taken by most governments (single currency, single constitution...)?
: I don't have an issue with the single currency or the idea of a constitution, although I think the reality of the latter had more to do with the requirements of individual governments rather than the rights of individuals.
: I have no problem with a single European currency and constitution, but then I also see the need for national identities to be maintained, as without this the world will blend into one characterless amorphous mass. One town already looks like the next; the thought of each country looking like the next is pretty depressing.
As for a single world government, more detached and more powerful than our present leaders, that's a pretty frightening thought. Though I don't think it will ever happen. We can't get "culturally similar" European countries to agree on much, so the odds on getting dissimilar countries to come to a consensus are slim.
NINa: Would you prefer to use a form of world currency as a solution in a completely new way? Like paying with your fingerprint on-line since most laptops already have fingerprint readers?
: I have a great distrust of this kind of technology, which would no doubt be owned by whichever corporation won the bid to provide it. No one can switch off the coins in your pocket while they are still in use.
: Can't say that I've ever given the concept of a world currency any consideration. But the thought of using fingerprint technology is grotesque. Computers are unbelievably fallible and open to abuse that the system would be in the hands of criminals before you could blink (if having the system in the hands of a corporation wasn't bad enough…). Plus it would require a world database of our biometric data. Fuck that. We have little freedom as it is, and that would be the end. I'd be happy going back to bartering with beans.
Marco: I recently saw a documentary called "Terra Reloaded" which called upon a Nobel Prize recipient, with his beautiful Versace suit and his Gucci leather shoes, proclaiming that we need birth control because we are too many, and that we need the population control in developing countries, blah blah... The usual crap told exclusively from these social elite. I doubt that a starving inhabitant of Biafra, will ever think about such theories. These words are said only by rich, fat and bloated white men, or am I wrong? Who has the right to decide on population control in your opinion?
: I think people should be free to discuss the size of the Earth's human population, along with any other subject – such as the disproportionate distribution of wealth and resources amongst that population. There is a difference between airing an opinion and suggesting that opinion should be enforced.
: Well there are many people that are coming around to the fact that there are too many of us and we really should be controlling population growth in all countries. And not all of these people are rich, fat, bloated & white.
Yes, it is an emotive subject, but it's one that needs to be addressed otherwise nature will deal with the problem for us. The natural cycle is for a population to increase to an optimum level; this being dictated by predation, disease and food supply, and to an extent natural disasters. We have over-ridden these controlling factors with developments in medicine and food production technology (hybridization, artificial fertilizers, intensive farming, factory farming and now genetic modification). However, you have to accept that it is not possible for a population to keep expanding ad infinitum and for science/industry to be able to deal with it, especially as the science usually creates other problems years down the line (ie. pollution, health problems etc). Eventually there must be a crash. So we have the choice: attempt to control the population now by non-destructive methods or wait & let people die of starvation and disease.
The sad irony here is that people in the West waste so much of the food it produces: it could be argued that, if we were not so wasteful, a larger population could be sustained. Though personally I'd rather see less waste resulting in less intensive farming methods.
As for who has the right? Well who has the right to decide that any species of animal needs to be culled or made extinct through human actions? What makes human life more precious than any other species of plant or animal? If humans witnessed any other species doing as much damage to the planet as us there would be calls for a cull or eradication for the greater good of the environment. Humans are hypocrites who don't want to be treated in the same way they treat other species.
However, with all that said, it would be next to impossible to enforce any form of population control as humans see everything, including incessant breeding, as their "right". So I guess we'll wait for nature to do what it does and hopefully the planet will be restored to equilibrium before we destroy it completely.
NINa: It seems that Mother Nature finds a balance where there is 'too much' or 'too little'... causing earthquakes, flooding, massive snow, diseases and fires. In general, history shows us that we end up perceiving these changes for the better long after it's over. Or, do you believe it isn't so much Mother Nature, rather than people who create this climate and have lost their consciousness as well as their primal attachment to nature?
: We have always lived in wonder and fear of nature, in equal measure and people always like to look for meaning in random events, which I consider to be a religious and therefore unworthy trait. Humans appear to have an inflated sense of importance and find it hard to believe that they are not capable of controlling everything. The modern way is to strive to be the master of nature rather than graciously accept that we are merely part of it.
: Of course we've lost our attachment to natural world. We've lost contact with the most basic things such as day length and the phases of the moon. We see the world as a resource, not as a home. We fight nature rather than living as a part of it. We see ourselves as a superior being, which technologically we are, but to ignore the fact that we are just animals and as such are at the mercy of the elements, just as all the other animals are.
Questions only for Paul Taylor
Marco: In 2007 you released your debut album under the moniker "Gusto Extermination Fluid" on MoMT Records. Its a little treat of dark electronic music with claustrophobic and oppressive atmospheres... and I love it! Are these atmospheres a raw portrait of our modern society, or are they a kind of mirror that reflects your dark side and your fears?
: Nice to know I've stimulated your parts!
Well I guess the atmosphere on the album reflects both the state of my head at the time of writing, and my interpretation of the world whilst being in that mind-set. The two are inextricably linked as they feed off each other, so I would not like to say which is the dominant part.
The funny thing is, I didn't think the album was/is that aggressive, dark, oppressive etc etc… though pretty much every reviewer did. I'm not sure if this means that the reviewers have been subjected to a lot of lightweight music recently, or I'm just not very self-aware!
Marco: You have published a couple of new songs in the Carry on Lovin' compilation. Are you writing a hypothetical second album? Are you going to include live elements, like real drums or guitars, or do you think it could be too close to the Sonic Violence sound?
: Yes, I am writing another solo album, but I work very slowly at the best of times so don't hold your breath! I'm currently working on a project with the international collective Chewing Magnetic Tape. It's the first time I've worked with other musicians since SV, and it's been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. So you can expect a CMT/GEF album before any purely solo releases, probably late 2010/early 2011.
As for what instruments are used, nothing is ever excluded. Whatever the song requires will be found/made and used. Btw "real" guitars were used on both "The Cleaner" and on the tracks on "Carry on Lovin'" – they may be effected out of recognition but they are there, honest!
I'm not worried about getting close to or even recreating a SV sound, as I just don't think it will happen. The way SV sounded was the result of the people that made it and all the influences upon them at the time and their interaction with each other, hence each release being musically different. I don't even think that the "sound" of The Cleaner will be recreated, as I'd have to be in the same state as I was then, and quite frankly, that's not a place I want to go back to.
In the meantime I'll just carry on like I always have, writing music at my own pace that satisfies my current mood. Whether what I produce appeals to previous fans of my work doesn't really enter into the equation. I do this for myself because, if I don't, I go a bit weird. Though saying that, it's is always nice to know that other people connect with your work, if only to make you realise that there are other folk hanging out with the same demons.
Question only for Peri:
Marco: Peri, you have designed the artwork for Gusto Extermination Fluid, K-Nitrate and Sonic Violence. Have you done any artwork for other bands? Are you involved in other graphic design projects outside the music business?
No, that's my lot as far as music-related artwork goes. I really enjoyed doing the art for the Gusto release though as it was the first 'proper' artwork I had done for ages. Some people seemed to find the imagery a bit repellent but it appealed to our sense of humour/disgust at the human condition. Hopefully I'll get to do some more at some point.
I'm constantly involved in other graphic design projects, which is good. I largely do book, magazine and DVD design, pretty much all of which is sci-fi, cult, music or horror-related. I consider myself very fortunate! At the moment I'm designing two books. One is a pictorial feast for the eyes on cult 60s TV series The Avengers. The second is a fantastic collection of Hammer Horror posters. And I'm still designing stuff for Doctor Who Magazine which was actually my day job when I was drumming with Sonic Violence! I must be a creature of habit...
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Pictures come from Sonic Violence archive, all copyrights reserved by their respective owners. Questions proofreading: Scott M. Owens.