New record on 20 Buck Spin, new interviews for 'real' music publications where they turn your words into witty anecdotes about the craziest thing that ever happened to you on tour, how stoked you are that Scott Hull agreed to take money in exchange for mixing your new record and what's up with all those split vinyl records anyway?
Here's one for AOL. Actually i'm being uncharitable, Geoff also writes for Crustake. which is one of the blogs (along with this one, this one and this one) that i read at work when i can't care about other peoples problems no matter how much i'm being paid.
And below is the unedited Q and A original for the interview i did with Zero Tolerance magazine (again, Alex Deller who conducterd the interview is also a knowledgable chap and i salute him accordingly)
Can you give us a quick potted history of the band, what you were initially setting out to do, whether you had any specific “gameplan” and, if so, whether you kept to it.
Formed 2003, line up since 2004: Carroll, Edgar, King, Nolan.
With each successive release you seem to be exploring further territory, be it musically, lyrically or thematically. What drives all this? Is it an organic progression, or are you striving / pushing towards something in particular or consciously stepping away from what others are doing?
There has been a deliberate move on my part in the last three years to be very careful about what direction the band will go in and i’ve intentionally restricted our sound to the point of collapse.
Thematically/ lyrically it’s different, really it just represents mine and Matthew’s interests. There’s certainly more allusion to myth as allegory and open embrace of symbolism and that language and culture are much more than words than on the first few records.
What can we expect from the Bastard Noise and Unearthly Trance splits? How did these come about and what (be it conceptually / physically) went into the music?
The Bastard Noise split was a lengthy and tortuous process that began long before it was even meant to be a release with Bastard Noise. Originally the material was culled from the writing sessions for Primitive; anything that we felt didn’t fit was put aside for another record.
Then it became a Bastard Noise collaboration and i wrote several set Blockade pieces, a few proposed collaborative sections and transition points where the artists would ‘switch’. It was to be a continuous 30-60 minute piece of music that would be both acts equally and not merely some whooping noises from Bastard Noise over our slow parts which would have been the easy option.
Anyway, Bastard Noise transformed again into a bass/ drums/ electronics unit and it was agreed that we should do a straight split. All of which meant i had to rewrite our material (for a third time) so it would make more sense.
Now it’s a fifteen minute single track called Deuteronomy expanding on some of the musical ideas of Primitive with some Neolithic noise sections. Lyrically it starts with the Confusion of Tongues and ends with 9/11. At its heart it’s intended to be a look at monotheism, politics, eschatology and the relationship of all three.
The CD version contains tracks by The Rita from Vancouver and New York composer Noah Creshevsky reworking material from Primitive.
The intent behind the Unearthly Trance split was to break some of the weirder musical ideas from the Bastard Noise split and force them into the structures set forth in Primitive. About 90% of the music came to me in visions and through meditation and is what i would call a deliberately mechanical style of song writing.
Part of my musical quest of the last three years has been to negate the individual in the performance of material so that no one is important in the end result. Hardcore punk and particularly the micro-genre of power violence influenced bands tend to lend themselves to this goal. I want to relegate my role to that of the unimportant carrier of a song received from elsewhere (hence automatic writing techniques employed).
Lyrically and artistically there’s a lot going on that’s shadowy, secretive and esoteric. Are these fields of interest shared as a band, and are their inclusion in the band’s output for self-gratification or to try and draw something out of your listeners? Is this some sort of response / reaction to the way people can get immediate access to and “into” music nowadays, to make the content itself as transgressive or difficult to navigate as the music itself once was?
Regarding self gratification, yes, it’s absolutely tied in to my own sense of satisfaction; I don’t waste my time on anything i’m not pleased with. I’m not really interested in the old tortured artist cliché of someone who just absolutely has to do things otherwise they’ll take a sniper rifle to the mall or whatever other laughable crap some people invent to justify what simply makes them happy.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to know my true motivations regarding the wilful obscuring of content and the addition of deliberately esoteric ideas to the band.
Certainly i think life is too easy and sometimes i’m almost demanding more from people who are interested in our band. But at the end of the day we will always be “Eric Wood approved power violence” to most people out there, and that’s totally fine. I’m as happy to be the background music to someone punching a cop in the face (or more realistically: downloading internet porn) as i am to someone connecting some of the anti-modernist strains in the lyrics.
I don’t know if i would consider our content or sound especially transgressive as you suggest but i am definitely in favour of a return to weeding out the useless dickheads and making thing harder for them to fully participate. I like invite only basement shows, i like small pressings of records, i like fanzines, i like demo tapes, i like harsh fucking noise, i like an intelligent embrace and celebration of the violence of the human spirit (hell, i like a dumb embrace of it sometimes...). What i’m saying is that i feel that there should be more elitism and separation in place.
The single worst thing about 90s hardcore was the opening it up to all and sundry and we’re still feeling the fallout from it now. We need to exclude people, it’s perfectly acceptable to not want to be around stupid people. There are enough idiots in the world; let them have their own clubs, let them give a fuck about Tiger Woods or H1N1 and leave us to pursue things we find important without their cultural noise interfering. The Let’s All Hold Hands Brigade is almost 100% responsible for opening the doors to the Christians infiltration in our culture.
I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating; i believe underground culture (which i’ll define as artistic culture not centered around money) should model itself more on esoteric orders in the Western Tradition. There is a difference between the Golden Dawn and the Scottish Rite in the same way that there’s a difference between grindcore and black metal.
Obligatory noise question. I know you’ve been doing Joshua Norton Cabal for ages and that it’s been filtered into the band’s sound from early on, but it seems to be creeping more and more to the fore. Again, is this a natural progression or just what the music has called for from release to release? Is it, to you, only natural that the lines should be blurred like this? How does this side of the band factor into your live show nowadays?
The noise elements have definitely come more to the fore in the last few years, part of that is an across the board genuine love for power electronics, harsh noise, true industrial and general unpleasant non-musical sounds (we’re not into hippy jam hacky sack didgeridoo noise).
Live we certainly use much more harsh noise than we used to. We’re at the point now where there are no gaps in the sound for any communication or even applause, it’s either us playing our songs or harsh sound while we tune up and get ready for the next block of songs.
A few years ago whilst playing i had the thought that live i really just wanted to play incredibly crudely. I felt i just wanted to hit all my strings with one hand and beat a random audience member unconscious with a mic stand with the other whilst yelling non-words. Anyway, that would be great once i’m sure but it’s not really practical. The noise approach we take live and to a lesser extent on recordings is definitely born out of this desire to play at a visceral level and not taint the intent with notes and structures.
To me, there’s a strange kind of “otherness” to the bands that do this type of music right. It’s something hard to pin down, but you automatically know it when you hear it. What would you say the defining factor in this is and why is it so hard to do right? Is it this purity (for want of a better word) that draws you to the types of music (Slaughter Strike included) you make?
There is always a tendency for people to pick out the most obvious and least important parts of a genre and focus on those. You only have to look at the glut of people wanting to be the fastest or slowest band in the world over the years; as if tempo means much to the end result. Or worse still the people that can only copy guitar tone and not substance (i’m looking at black metal and the odious intentionally retro death metal and 80s hardcore jokers here).
Whitehouse is more than piercing screeches and yelling abuse, Burzum is more than a shitty guitar sound and songs about forests, Crossed Out is more than fast parts with slow parts.
Many people seem to play music because they’re looking to fit in with something (usually anything) and lack the critical skills to evaluate either their own motivations or their own creations.
Personally speaking the art (defined in its loosest sense) that i’m interested in tends to be a genuine externalising of a person’s internal processes. I also favour art that embraces a cruel aesthetic but that’s perhaps beside the point.
Some people refer to this externalising as being true or real or kvlt or what have you, i think they’re all words for the same impossible to name phenomenon. It’s music as a numinous entity, it’s simple honesty. We tend to know it when we hear it and it is of course utterly subjective. Like someone with a far brighter mind than i could ever hope to have once said “the less said of it the less obscure is it.”
In an earlier email you mentioned that there’d likely be precious few gigs unless they’re with a select number of acts. Why are you winding things down and why is it these acts that will draw you out into the open? Are we talking friendship, calibre, the fact that they’re kindred spirits or something else?
We believe it’s important to support people you share a deeper common bond with (musical or not) in this life.
In another interview I think you mentioned a dwindling interest in playing shows and a lack of interest in whether people like or “get” it. If this is the case, why even bother playing to an audience in the first place?
It’s true, we don’t care if an audience “get’s it” or not and their enjoyment is generally not our first concern.
At its most basic level music performs two functions for me, an internal one and an external one (or an intellectual and a physical one). I find i use my own music and noise as a way or working through my own ideas and thoughts and i’m becoming less and less interested in other (meaning non band member) people and their input. I find i get enough satisfaction on an internal level and don’t really need to stand on stage thumping out half baked power violence influenced hardcore currently. But the internal side can’t exist without the external.
Realistically playing music publically music probably keeps me firmly rooted in Malkuth and stops me from disappearing up my own arse. Ten years ago i was that guy that wouldn’t hit the “press when illuminated” button to get off the trains in Glasgow after all...
What have been the best, worst and flat-out weirdest things to happen to you as band?
Best? Ongoing friendships with people in bands like Iron Lung, Hatred Surge, Mudlark and some notable others.
Worst? Well on the scale of things nothing that’s worth commenting on really, probably barely anything that’s even small scale irritating to be honest.
As far as weirdest i don’t know, we don’t hang out and party much on tour so we skip a lot of that stuff, though we’ve certainly met our fair share of idiots.
Any word on what we can expect from the Endless Blockade once these two splits are out there? What does the future hold?
I’ve promised myself that i will start writing a third Blockade full length after summer 2010. After all the currently unreleased material is out we won’t be doing anymore split records, we feel like we’ve done enough, though at some point when we’re ready i want to start working on a collaboration (not a split) with Toronto industrial power electronics duo Piss Horn.
The four of us will undoubtedly continue to play music together in some form whilst we all live in Toronto, whether it’s Blockade or something else isn’t important, the process will be similar.
Rudimentary Peni - Death Church
Abraxis - Abraxis
Otesanek - S/T
Threatener - discography