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Hazmat - interview (2006)
2006-06-10 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz and Brian Backlash | e-mail interview
Brian: You list a lot of different industrial groups as influences: The Young Gods, Chemlab, Ministry, KMFDM, Thrill Kill Kult, NIN...for you, what makes a band an influence, as opposed to a band who's music you just enjoy?

Matt Collins: For me, Wax Trax era industrial music was essentially the soundtrack to my teenage angst, and a lot of that really stuck with me, even as I went on to listen to other music. That time, the early nineties, seems to me like the last time anything that was really new was happening in music – rap, metal and techno were all reaching a peak as well, but a lot of industrial music really struck a chord with me – it was electronic, aggressive, and had a true punk ethic. So when it comes to writing my own music for Hazmat, I can’t help but draw on the influences that have had the most powerful effect on me.

NINa: Do you think it's better for industrial metal music to stay underground and apart from the mainstream or do you think it'd be more advantageous to become more accessible to the public?

I don’t particularly mind that industrial is so underground, but I think a lot of people really like to feel they’re better than the rest of the crowd just because they listen to something that’s obscure, it’s almost like a way to disassociate yourself from the masses. It really doesn’t matter if no one else listens to a band, or everyone else does - I try to be my own judge of what kind of music I listen to, and keep an open mind.

Brian: You've worked in a number of underground industrial groups over the last several years, including Porcupine Defense and Neuroplague. Do you prefer working in a group setting or in a solo environment?

I think the best option is to do both simultaneously. I really like working solo, Hazmat is the first real project that has been pretty much entirely myself, and I really dig the freedom and control of doing everything. But at the same time I’m involved in a few other projects with other people, so I get the best of both.

Brian: What would you say the biggest difference between the two is?

I would say it’s tough when you don’t have anyone to bounce things off of, and missing out on great moments working with someone else when they come in with something that you never would have thought of, but works so well. It’s tough to surprise yourself.

NINa: What were the best show and party you ever played for?

With Neuroplague, we played a lot of great shows with bands that I really respect, like 16 Volt, Rammstein, Hanzel und Gretyl, Android Lust, etc, but the best show for me was a show we played with Terminal Sect at a place called the Asylum in Philly. We were friends with the guys from Terminal Sect, and it was our first real road gig out of New York. Both bands had a really heavy visual component at that point, with video playing on TVs all over the stage, and all kinds of props. It felt more like an art event than just a band playing some songs. The crowd was really into it, and everyone was just really cool. At the end of the set one of the android mannequin props Terminal Sect had onstage got thrown into the crowd, and they stomped on it and ripped it to shreds. Real audience participation...

NINa: Have you released any full length albums so far?

4 Point Perspective is the first album for Hazmat.

NINa: Do you schedule recording sessions, or do you make music as the ideas present themselves?

I could spend 100 hours working on something and hate the results, but then spend 95 hours thinking about ideas, listening to music, building up the ammunition, and then go in and fire down something in 5 hours that really clicks. So I try not to schedule anything, and just let it happen when it happens.

NINa: What are some of the tracks you're preparing for your newest record?

There are 11 songs, written over the past 2 or 3 years. If I’m telling people to check out a track that sums up what Hazmat is about, I would probably say “Nothing Comes True” or “Attack Formation.”

Brian: I can see you've inked a deal with Primordial Music, but aside from listing you on the website they don't give the reader any information on Hazmat. What made you want to hook up with Primordial - and how soon will you be releasing music thru them?

Primordial Music is a collective of myself and a few other artists that I work with. When it was first formed in 1997, it was to release CDs for Neuroplague and Despirator. Renee from Despirator actually ran the label, and she was really good at getting us distribution and airplay, and taking care of the business end of everything like production and merchandise. I have resurrected Primordial to serve as an outlet for Hazmat, but in talking with a few other people, there is a lot of interest in releasing other projects as well. Hopefully there will be a lot happening with Primordial Music in the next year or so. As far as Hazmat goes, the album “4 Point Perspective” will be posted on the site for download on July 5th, so there will be all kinds of Hazmat stuff on the Primordial Music site, but not until July 5th.

Brian: As Hazmat is just yourself, playing live gigs must be pretty difficult. How do you plan to execute a live version of Hazmat, when it comes time to take the project to the stage?

I am fortunate to know a lot of very talented people who could help me pull it off, if that’s what I wanted to do. At this point in my life, though, live shows aren’t a priority. I know what I enjoy, and it’s more on the studio angle than the whole live show thing.

NINa: Who do you have design your CD covers?

I think it’s a law that if you have an industrial band, you have to be a graphic designer, because a lot of the guys I know who are or were in bands have gone on to careers as designers. I actually started playing in bands when I was in art school in NYC, and I now work as an art director at an ad agency. So I do the art as well as the music.

Brian: Listening to your music I'm quickly reminded of Skrew with much better vocals. What made you pick industrial metal as a medium thru which to create your work?

I have always had a love of really aggressive, straightforward guitar, almost played the way a machine would play, without a lot of jerking around with annoying lead guitar noodling. I have always played guitar like that, but especially when I started playing with Porcupine Defense, I had to really fire up the energy for the live show, and I tried to do that by keeping everything tight and brutally repetitive. I think I formulated a lot of the ideas of Hazmat at that point, but it was a while later that I got the programming where I really wanted it, and it all came together.

NINa: Are there any bands out there you consider a professional rival?

Not really, I prefer to think that there’s room for everyone to do their thing and find an audience.

Brian: You recently made a remix for the phenomenal Jersey-area band Symbiotic. What are some other production projects you've worked on?

Something I just completed is an album for Earthworm, also on Primordial Music. It’s more of an eerie, dark breakbeat project I did with Mike Varian, who played drums for the album. Also, the guys from Symbiotic are doing some new projects, including a new project call Azrael Trigger. Gus from Symbiotic is doing all the vocals, and a few different people are collaborating on programming, including myself.

NINa: Does it really make sense for bands to continue selling CDs?

For a lot of unknown bands, selling CDs is something that doesn’t make financial sense, most bands will do better selling T Shirts or other merchandise at live shows - and if money is your goal, I can think of a lot better ways to earn money! Really the goal is to find listeners. So selling CDs doesn’t make sense for Hazmat right now, which is why the album is being put up for free download on the Primordial Music website.

NINa: If you could choose any mode of releasing and promoting your music, what would it be?

I would prefer to have a whole room full of people to do it all for me! Honestly, the whole thing becomes a lot of work that I just don’t really want to do. I have done all that before, and for me it just becomes too much of a business, and that’s just not how I want to spend my energy.

Brian: What do you think makes a live band interesting - or just dull?

I love seeing Skinny Puppy, or Gwar, or any band that has a real theatrical performance. Even if it’s over the top, it’s still better to see a really visual component to go along with the music.

NINa: What would it take to make you decide to quit Hazmat?

I suppose if I ever catch myself taking it too seriously, then I will definitely fire myself.


Hazmat at Myspace | Primordial Music

Photos ©2006 Rob Carter, Cover Art ©2006 Primordial Music
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