2011-07-14 | NINa
NINa: Skrew fans might be surprised to find out that you have Ty Pickett doing vocals so that you can focus on playing the guitar. Do you enjoy playing better now that you are free from the microphone?
Adam Grossman: Yeah, I think some people might be surprised by Ty's appearance at the mic but to be honest, it really is awesome to have him in the band. I actually never really wanted to be the lead vocalist in any band. I have always been a guitar player first and foremost. I only sang in SKREW because on the first album (Burning in Water, Drowning in Flames) there was only two of us and the other guy didn't really have it in him to be a frontman. So, it fell in my lap.
I always wrote the lyrics anyway. As some people might be aware SKREW really was born of the ashes of Angkor Wat. I wrote about two thirds of the lyrics in that band as well so....... I've known Ty for a long time. He had a couple of bands that opened up for SKREW back in the day. Ty and I developed a comradeship back then in terms our approach to heavy dark noise as well as our world view so it was very natural to ask him to take the lead mic when I decided to do another SKREW record. I don't think just anyone could do it either. Ty has an intensity and authority value onstage and behind the mic that is really powerful and that allows me to do what I enjoy the most which is making heavy sometimes discordant noises on wooden stringed instruments. I get lost in that when it's good.
NINa: Please introduce yourself; where do you come from, what's your music background, your influences, favourites, dislikes?
Ty Pickett: Witajcie! I'm Ty, vocalist for SKREW. I'm also known by other constituents as Vsyr. Whichever you prefer. I was born on the "Day of the Dead," an only child to creative intellectuals. I'm 100% Texan. Born and bred. As a child I lived in Manhattan for five years, and I identify strongly with that time of my life. Mentally my origins are scientific. My spiritual origins are very important to me. True art is a meditation. The perfect union of body, mind, and spirit. Therein, I feel that it's the process that allows me to reconnect to those spiritual origins.
My musical background is extremely diverse. I could go on and on about bands, instruments, experience, theory(or painting by numbers as I call it) and whatnot. It's not really that important. Where I am at the present moment, has the only true significance. As I am, presently an instrument, artist, and atmosphere in the process of SKREW.
My favorite things relate to my family and friends. I'm also fond of things that challenge the way I think about myself and the world around me. Especially if I can find it through art. I have a strong passion for riding my Harley on starlit country back roads while blasting the fuckin'hell out of Hank III on my iPod.
Things that I don't like? Well, I don't like people that lack humility. I don't like oppression by those few that have opportunity, against those that don't. Most of all, I dislike thinking in terms of "absolution" in my own reason. I could spend the rest of my life pointing a finger at the world, but there will always be three fingers on that same hand pointing right back at me for the things I need to address within my own self. To maintain that perspective, it enables me to have that humility I seek in others. The very discipline that keeps me an "open channel" to the energies that will carry my own internal sovereignty... "While the whole shithouse goes up in flames." - Jim Morrison. HAHAHA!
NINa: Were you a fan of Skrew before you joined the band or did you just happen to be in the right place and at the right time?
Ty: Absolutely a fan, and friend I might add. I was a Ministry fan from way back. So following Al's work, I learned early on about his involvement with SKREW. As well as the whole Chicago WaxTrax! scene. Being from Texas I was intrigued to know there was a band so close to me.
I checked SKREW out a few times live, and was completely blown away. The live performances of the band have always been stellar. There was a bunch of nostalgic, kitschy, pseudo-metal shit going in the Austin scene of the early 90's. It was more of an image thing. Pathetic. So it was refreshing to see Adam actually taking his art seriously.
To further answer your question, I was also in the right place at the right time too. Many people think that they are capable of doing this kind of work creatively and professionally. Maybe they can accomplish a few facets of its process. To be optimal, it requires alignment in every aspect. Personally, I was at that point with myself, and I believe that Adam based his decision to hire me on that.
NINa: Do you feel any pressure from the expectations of being chosen as the new lead singer of Skrew? What are the most difficult songs to perform from both the new and previous material in the set list?
Ty: Most of the pressure resides within my own personal relationship with the music. I feel that it's extremely important and powerful material. So I feel a responsibility to represent Adam's vision with the level of excellence and taste that he commands from his own sources within. As far as people in the band, and the people that have experienced music outside of the band. I feel that everyone has been positively receptive towards my work.
The new stuff was a bit hard to master, because in order for it to be properly performed, the feeling of it had to be mastered. With some of the timing being deceivingly tricky, and the subject matter unsettling at best. Once that was identified, I felt pretty comfortable with it all. Being that my interpretation was required to tastefully execute the goal. It also helped, that I needed the personal catharsis of this music to channel my own tragedy's at the time.
As far as the older material goes, being a fan of SKREW from the early days. I haven't felt that I struggled with it too much, because I had a strong connection from the bands inception and origins.
Right now the most difficult song to play in the setlist is "Burning In Water, Drowning in Flame" because it's usually the last. So that means we have to stop playing, and that sucks for someone that lives to perform. I can't speak for the rest of the band in many regards, but that is one truth we all share. We are seven motherfuckers that will pour every drop of life into our performances. Playing "Burning" is also fulfilling in the sense, that it's a song that has been a part of my life since I was a teenager. So to get to play it, and experience it with the crowd is an honor and privilege to say the least.
NINa: Is the new incarnation of Skrew on a mission? What is it that you are trying to express on the deepest level to compel people to open their eyes and understand through your lyrics?
Adam: Yes, NINa, the new incarnation of SKREW is on a mission. I decided to make SKREW noise again to do whatever I could do to wake people up to the fact that we are quickly becoming slaves to the unholy union entered into between the corporate and religious tyrants of this world.
Here in the States it is already quite obvious that only the rich truly have freedom and the ability to get basic life needs met. We see that the representatives in our government, who are elected by the people, really only have the interest and well being of the richest 2 percent of the country in mind. They are attempting to cut all the programs that benefit the common man, such as social security and Medicare, as well as disarming the unions, and cutting funding to the aspects of government that protect the people while they give further tax cuts to the oil companies and other corporation who continue to destroy the earth and our futures.
Just this week a pipeline in Montana failed and spilled thousands of barrels of oil into the Yellowstone river. Exxon, who make 5 million dollars in profit per hour, have lied about the amount of oil spilled and immediately began using their own security to keep the local and state government officials blind to the truth of the problem while they use 40 year old technology to attempt to address the poisoning of the local environment, giant absorbent paper towels used to wipe the grass. Thats the answer in their minds, paper towel? This comes only one year after the BP oil disaster in the gulf of Mexico. Some in our US congress tried to pass legislation to get the oil companies to put some of there vast fortunes into developing safer practices as well as up to date emergency contingency plans, it was however, blocked by the majority of the representatives of the people of the US.
These people, the corporate executives and employees and congressmen and women are criminals but most people just go about their days living the lies that afford them the ability to get fat while they watch TV and play video games that take them away from the reality of their living deaths. This is just one example. The US is the front-line of this battle, its beginning to happen in Europe as well. We want the people to know that they have the ability to take the power back and that they have the responsibility to do so for the benefit of all of our future!
NINa: Ty, do you also write lyrics for Skrew or do you sing what Adam composes? Do you reflect his views?
Ty: As far as the new stuff goes, the lyrics were already laid out, and masterfully so, I might add. I did some lyrical work on the songs "Rise" and "Universal Immolation." Adam and I have different writing styles, but we certainly have congruent interests in that which we choose to construct or destroy with our art.
NINa: You've been using Gibson guitars for years, Adam. What models and specifications are you attached to?
Adam: Actually, I have used both Gibson and Jackson guitars for years. I had a deal with Gibson for some time until they cut us off because some desk jockey said that he couldn't use the name SKREW in advertising. To be honest it was a real bummer because we had a bunch of SG's that they literally tried to take back from us in the middle of a tour. At that point I went to work with Jackson who were really happy to have us and give us guitars because they really respected what SKREW was about and it wasn't about how many units they could move based on the name SKREW, so.....
At this point I don't have a deal with anyone and I use a combination of stuff. Jackson, Gibson, and a few other things here and there.
I played a "Ran Guitar", the "Invader" model recently which is a Polish guitar company and totally fell in love with the thing. I like planks of wood that have depth of tone and brutal attack. I'm no guitar virtuoso so I don't need scalloped necks or extra strings or fancy handles or whatever else can come on a guitar. I just want a hammer to brutally smash the preconceived notions and outdated paradigms of the listener. I wanna fuck people up with noise. ;)
NINa: Three guitar players sound reasonable to create a wall of guitar riffs. Are there any specific technical problems that arise while playing live or in the studio to master the perfect blend of guitars?
Adam: Actually it's funny that you asked that question because we especially get a lot of strange comments from people in other bands about that. I think people have a strange set of preconceived notions about what a band should look like and that the fewer mouths there are too feed the better.
I think that whatever it takes to create the noise that you hear in your head is what it takes. Not only that but when we record the songs it takes three guitars to create what we write so...... I guess live it should sound like what is recorded. I mean, I could just record all the parts myself but then when it's played live it really wouldn't sound the same. It would be dishonest.
NINa: It seems like everybody in the music business is talking about "new business models" to be able to promote and sell music. Wouldn't it just be simpler to come back to proven "old school" models such as signing with a label?
Adam: Well, the problem is that the classic paradigm of the music industry in the states was based on the exploitation of the artist.
Record labels were originally started back in the early 1900's by gangsters as were the original movie studios. These guys would get some poor old black man into the studio to record songs, give him $10 and then sell his music and make thousands. Muddy Waters was sweeping the floors of chess studios in Chicago just to make a living well after the owners of the Chess label were getting rich off his recordings. So in a way the record labels fucked themselves because now they are selling fewer and fewer albums ever year.
People are able to take it into their own hands and do things over the Internet etc. and cutting the labels out of the picture. Now I don't know how it works with European labels but from my own experience of working with American labels I can say that I wouldn't trust those guys as far as I could throw their fat asses. Having said that, I should also say that I am the perennial optimist and I believe that there must be trustworthy and honorable labels our there who are willing to be open and honest in order to create something with some integrity.
NINa: Signing with a label might let bands focus on doing drugs and writing ambitious music again, but at least there would be quality worth paying for. Musicians could avoid being tangled up with self marketing and DIY. What is your opinion of the modern digital age, the Internet and the impact it has had in recent years on the music industry?
Ty: As far as the business end of things, it's certainly not my strong suit. I'd rather be a listener in observation, than a speaker in speculation about things I don't grasp entirely. I'm not of the opinion that drugs and ambition alone could be the saving grace for Rock'n Roll or the music industry. At the end of the day, I feel that things are just as they should be in the world. Business, art, politics, and so on. Most of it is useless, and the stuff that is honest, powerful, and strong. It's those things that are special and worth endearing reverence. It is those things that will always survive.
As far as the "digital age" goes, to be completely honest. I have strong ambivalence with this topic. I consider myself primarily an artist, and my only true relationships therein, lye with my work and those that are interested. I also feel a strong assertion to attempt to say and do something important with my work. So, by whatever platform I am offered to project those truths. I am grateful. I have an appreciation for the beauty of prompt information transfer relative to technology. However, I'm also fond of the idea of being able to see a fire on Earth from space. Being able to find new things quickly can be a good thing, but artistically speaking. I find most of it to be complete shit. Just more of it, faster. It's a strange relationship for me to think about, because SKREW is an extremely technologically sophisticated band.
Sometimes I feel like a human Sci-Fi character that is being augmented somehow to fit into a hybrid monster to plow cities, by "the good doctor, Adam!" Haha!
NINa: Adam, what do you think is the best way to draw the interest of new fans without a label these days?
Adam: Hmmm......well, the way that SKREW has always drawn the interest of fans is by creating noise that is interesting and saying things that people can relate to. I think that one thing that SKREW has always done is to present a fucking intense live show. People might be able to say a lot of things about SKREW but one thing that they can not say is that they ever saw a lame SKREW show. I think that is the bottom line. It has to be real and it has to be fucking honest. You will always get that with SKREW. You will never see a SKREW show where we are just going through the motions.
NINa: Do you think it will be harder to get attention with so many metal bands prostituting themselves shamelessly on social media?
Adam: Hahaaa! That's an awesome question. Social media. I have very little if anything to do with any of that.
Facebook was recently used by the cops in Canada to identify rioters after they lost the Stanley Cup hockey championships and a riot and damages ensued. Facebook has face recognition which the cops used to identify rioters who they said were anarchists disguised as hockey fans. Isn't that fucking hysterical? Anarchists disguised as hockey fans.
I've seen cops disguised as anarchists but I have never seen an anarchist disguise themselves as anything other than what they are. They have no need to disguise because they are honest in their beliefs. It's the cops who use disguises because they are dishonest,their supposed intention of protecting and serving the citizens is quickly becoming a lie. I see oppression of free speech becoming more and more common.
Uhh.......what was the question? Oh, yeah....... I don't think about other bands really too much other than listening to what I like. I couldn't give two shits about Facebook or Myspace or whatever else there is. Someone in my band started a Facebook in my name (they even misspelled my name) so that we could have a SKREW Facebook page but I don't really think that it means much at all. I like Twitter though because it can be useful in terms of communicating without keeping track of my face or my where abouts.
NINa: Ty, do you believe there should be an international treaty that would require the governments of all nations to protect intellectual property rights in a restrictive or regulated manner?
Ty: Ideally that would be great for those of us that are artists to have our rights protected. However I also feel that it's probably a complete conflict of interest for those that should care or help, because it would somehow fuck with their lazy quick-fix lifestyles. If I were that concerned with what I'm not getting, or never had for that matter, I would never have become a musician, and especially not a metal musician at that.
The other perspective to that, is that I detest the concepts of "society" and the "culture" that we have assimilated in contemporary times. Especially that fucking daydream that the sleepers of this world contrive to be their wasteful utopia. I don't give a fuck about governments, laws, or anything that has to do with having faith in people doing the right thing as a collective consciousness. Unconsciousness. It's all simply a formality to me, and I guess my Southern American roots render that outlaw nature in me.
I have my values, beliefs, and intentions. They run strong in every part of my life. Nobody can take something from me, that I haven't given away in some regard. Or any of us for that matter. They can try, but the war starts at my doorstep. It's all about personal accountability for me now, because I've experienced exponential amounts of loss in my life recently. If enough people take the initiative to care for themselves first, then positive outcomes would ensue.
NINa: I've heard you are approaching Poland for the annual Slavs and Vikings Festival in August? How did you get into this medieval hobby and what are your expectations? Do you fight with a sword or make mead? ;)
Ty: Unfortunately my trip to Poland this summer has to be postponed. My friend Bent is a Viking warmonger here state side, and he has been active with your countrymen that do the reenactment for several years now. Erik Ravn and the Nordlelag Crew to be exact. I was hoping to attend the Wolin festival this year with them, but it looks like we're going to have to try another time. As far as swords or mead go. I think if I had to choose a weapon to conquer new lands with, it would be my "meat mortar," ;) In true viking fashion of course!
NINa: What's pissing you off in 2011, Adam?
Adam: All the things I mentioned above and so so so much more. I guess what I really want to say is that it's our own fault for not being willing to go out and risk losing everything for what is right. I want to say that our lack of willingness to stand up for the guy that can't stand up for himself should make us ashamed of ourselves. I want to say that if you are not willing to stand up for your rights as well as the rights of your fellows then you are not worthy of breathing the air that the true heroes of our generation are breathing. I want to say that what ever you are capable of doing for the betterment of all, that is what you should be doing and doing with all of your heart and soul.
NINa: Is there any other news you'd like to share with Fabryka Magazine readers?
Ty: I sincerely appreciate your time and interest in SKREW. I hope to see you on tour soon! Cheers Nina, Fabryka Magazine, Piotr and the Polish warlords of Vader! Dziękuję!