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Rorschach Test - interview (2007)
2007-04-12 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz Brian Backlash | e-mail interview
NINa: First of all I'd like to ask if the powerful dynamics and anger you create is a natural thing that occurs in the process of recording, or is it an element you've planned to feature in your music?
James Baker: It is pretty much a natural thing. (scary) My philosophy is that
anger can either be vented or internalized. To all those who oppose heavy/aggro music, I would like for them to imagine just what the world would be like if people did not have this medium of music to vent with.

Brian Backlash: From what I've heard, you're not far from finishing the new record, and you've had some offers to hit the road quite soon. What's the word?
The new record will be out this summer, and as far as touring goes, we are holding off on all offers until it is out and in circulation.

NINa: From listening to your previous records, I've learned Rorschach Test contains a mixture I've always enjoyed: a wall of guitars, basslines and only a touch of electronics. For me this is the definition of industrial metal music. I know that discussing definitions of music can make some poeple sick, but I'd love to know, what does the term industrial metal mean to you?
I like to think of our music as a "terminator": A cyber skeleton of programming and electronics, with a beefy exterior that makes you want to shit your pants.

Brian Backlash: There's been a big resurgence in heavy music and industrial dance music the past 3-4 years. Does now seem the appropriate time to settle some unfinished business?

That's good news- we don't really pay a lot of attention to trends. We just do what gets us off.

NINa: What brought you to want to ressurect the band?
Scotty and Jason (new members) calling and bugging me every day for months :) Seriously - I have to say that the way fans have reacted over the past few years turned a flicker into a flame again. We love our fans, and it is truly their devotion and input that has caused this recent resurrection.

Brian Backlash: Rorschach Test started off in Colorado, and soon you spent a few years in Seattle, then Vancouver, Washington, and now it seems you're back in Colorado. How did you end up in your home state?
I came back in search of John Denver, and Hunter S. Thompson. Since they are both dead, I guess we just kind of got stuck here.

NINa: Who's in your newest line up? How did you get in touch with the new musicians?
Myself, Troee, Scott Owens (Needle) and Jason Hinrichs (Metal Church). We all ran into each other here in the mile high city - and we all knew each other from the Seattle days. The synergy that has developed due to common experiences is beyond comparison to any other lineup that RT has had.

NINa: We recently did an interview with Pulse Faction, featuring ex-RT member Johnny Ostrem. He said the band's break up in 2001 was due to quarrelling. Can we talk about that?
Well - I don't want to say anything negative about Johnny O. He is an incredible drummer, and I wish only the best for him and his new project.

Brian Backlash: Your long time former partner, Troee, handled a large swath of the programming and instrumentation on previous Rorschach Test records. Will he be involved in any way on the new material? Do either of you still speak to one another?
Yes. We speak constantly, and his programming will once again make our trademark sound what it is on the new record.

NINa: Scottie's Myspace blog reveals some terrific stories about stolen equipment, lost money and unsatisfying love affairs that he experienced a few years ago. Was that one of the reasons the band couldn't stay afloat after 2001?
James Baker: Scotty was not with us when he went through his horrific hurricane. RT disbanded in 2001 due to personal reasons. (yep, drugs- fights-alchohol-divorces-the usual ;)

Scott M. Owens: I was playing for a band called Needle at the time of the last Rorschach Test tour. I had gone to Colorado to handle some legal affairs for some time, so the Needle project had to be put in hold. A member of Needle named Aaron was playing in Rorschach Test on that tour. I had always been impressed with the Rorschach Test product, and live showcase; having seen them, and hung out with them on several occassions in Seattle. I was mortified to hear the allegations made against James Baker concerning the dissolution of the previous Rorschach Test line up. I refused to believe it based on intuition. As it turned out, my gut feeling was correct. I got to see first hand during a reuniting stint of Needle, how former members of Rorschach Test were manipulative, and completely unprofessional. James Baker has his act together. He runs a clean ship, and has my full confidence and support.

Brian Backlash: You've had nothing but grief from record labels in the past - Slipdisc was eaten up in a merger, and E-Magine sucked you dry instead of paying you for your hard work. This time around, are you even interested in hooking up with another label? What would be your ideal method of releasing the new material?
We plan on remaining independent under a label I have formed called "Unlabled Music." The majority of our fanbase is an online community, making major distribution uneccessary.

Brian Backlash: After your poor dealings with record labels, does it please you that file sharing and mp3s and music piracy have become the norm?
Yes - I predicted as much in 1998 on KNAC - and am glad the prophecy has
come to pass.

NINa: Neil Kernon is a very professional producer who has been involved mostly in heavy music. He will be producing your newest album, and previously produced your last two records. He seems to be busy with many other bands - how long did it take you to convince him to produce your newest effort?
One email. Neil is a friend, and has always been one of the greatest supporters of the band.

NINa: Have you decided on a name for the newest record? If so, could you share?
I will be glad to share that when we leak our first track to you in May... Patience for now, please.

NINa: James - you have a great, growling voice that makes the Rorschach Test sound unique amongst the other industrial metal efforts. How do you feel after a live show? Can you speak normally?
It's strange, but the screaming, growling, and bantering has never effected by normal speaking voice, leading many to believe I am possessed. (not true).

Brian Backlash: You've long since been a topic of discussion for having previously been an ordained minister who was x-communicated, only to find yourself at a Ministry show and hearing a new calling of sorts. Are you purely a logical athiest these days, or have you retained some semblance of spirituality?
I maintain a very deep level of Spirituality, that has only grown deeper over the past seven years.

NINa: When I first heard "Spent" from Peace Minus One, I knew it would stay with me for a long time. The structure of the song reminds me a hellish orchestral composition. I hope I don't go wrong with this comparison because as far as I know Scott Owens is a trained symphonic orchestrator. Isn't rock music too tight for you?
James Baker: Scott is amazing - and we plan on incorporating his orchestral talent in the new record.

Scott M. Owens: James is very interested in bringing to fruition a new way of computer generated music, that includes symphonic composition on a high caliber modern level. In fact, James recorded a violin melody several bars in length that is absolutely astonishing. He requested that I add to it with multi-instruments and modern sampling techniques. I have every deeply heartfelt intention of offering to Rorschach Test the very best of my compositional works to come. This may very well be the idea on the precipice of a new music.

Brian Backlash: Do you have any plans to re-release your first three records?
Do you know any good lawyers? I would love too - maybe we will and let the lawsuits fly!

NINa: Scottie - you're a Californian who was playing in the band Needle. Can you tell us something about the band and its glittering times?
Scott M. Owens: When I played with the band Needle in Seattle it was as spiritual as a religious experience. We got to play characters totally made up like comic book superheroes. It has forever changed my life for the better, and me as an artist. I will never lose that aspect of the time we shared. Needle tried to reunite in Los Angeles in 2005. Many of the original members had since become Rockstars, and with that came massive unrealistic egotism. We had misunderstandings and confrontations that ripped us apart at the seams. I own all of the music from Needle and have re-established the band with a new line-up. We are now called Tempest & the Diaspora. That project most certainly would not be possible now without the help of James Baker. He brought me out of Hollywood to do Rorschach Test. He healed me as a musician. He re-inspired the dreams of the musicians in the current T&D line-up that presses us all to forge on, allowing that music to be heard as well, instead of fading into oblivion. James has my committed loyalty to Rorschach Test for as long as he wishes. I am in his debt. He is one of the greatest musicians I have met.

NINa: Do you think that people should cooperate together only when they have a great deal in common with one another?
No. Diversity makes a much spicier recipe- especial when it comes to hybrid/industrial rock. The more influences one has to stir into the pot - the better.

Brian Backlash: What disappoints you most about the society we live in?
I would have to say the way that the media desensitizes everyone, rendering society passive in the face of so many crucial issues. For example, while writing this interview, apporoximately 60,000 kids in Africa died of aids, due to no fault of their own. But, Hey - there is a new episode of Deal or No Deal on tonight - so everything is peachy!

Brian Backlash: On your first album, The Eleventh, the band was finding it's voice, thematically and musically. With Unclean, you refined and progressed your sound, and the album dealt with betrayal, the Devil, drug use and hypocracy. Peace Minus One was your most overtly politcal and religious infused record to date. What themes or ideas are you looking to explore on the next record?
Well, with Bush and all he has done to the world..... let's just leave it at that.

NINa: Unclean is a very memorable album thanks to great arrangements. You were able to kill the listener's ears with soft and intense dymanics at the same time. "Cripple Touch" sounds as sexy as sexy can be. "Wheel of Misfortune" spins around like a real circle of events and "Blow Up America" is my favourite Rorschach Test song because of its vibe which is heavy and tempting! "Song For the Other Me" is also
a great interlude of the record followed by the excellent track "Clean" which almost knocked me down. Rorschach Test isn't only about music, there is also an intellectual aspect. Your lyrics are significant. What did you mean when you said "blow up America" - and how did you feel after 911 attack?

Blow up America was written about the Oklahoma City Bomber, and what might have been going through his mind leading up to the bombing. It was meant to show that as crazy as this man may have seemed, there were still points of reference in his thinking process that many empathized with.

Brian Backlash: Your last full length tour was with Bile and Snake River Conspiracy in 2000, the Bush and Gore 2000 tour. You were politically outspoken at the time - do you feel that your worst dreams have been realized?
I could not have even dreamed how utterly contaminated and distorted the world has become, thanks to Bush. Its going to take more than a loud noise to wake everyone up from the nightmare, but we look forward to being a part of the racket.

NINa: What countries do you plan to schedule for an upcoming tour?
It's too early to tell at this point. Naturally we would like to tour all over the place, if possible.

Brian Backlash: Are you still influenced by bands like Alice in Chains, Nitzer Ebb, This Mortal Coil and Ministry - bands you once touted on your former label's website? What new music influences and inspires you today?

Brian Backlash: In 1999 I saw Rorschach Test open for Ministry and L7, and in 2001 I ran into you outside the same venue after a Rammstein show. Do you have fond memories of my city of Portland? Did the town support your music?
I love Portland, and it's seedy underbelly. Absolutely, great memories. I go there 3 or 4 times a year and still cannot get enough.

Brian Backlash: What's the most important thing you hope Rorschach Test will accomplish by the time all is said and done?
If we can connect with others that can relate to our music and words, it will hopefully raise conciousness and provide therapy for both them and us.

NINa: And the last question from me, kinda lame but I was always interested in a sample you used in the title song from Peace Minus One. Have I heard it in Quake II game by a chance...?
I don't think so. It's entirely possible that both the game and Troee used the same loop, but he did not rip it from the game.

Pictures come from Rorschach Test archive, all copyrights reserved by © their authors. Questions proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below
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