Posts Tagged ‘Interview’

The primitivism of Modern Technology’s raw sound, coupled with your lyrical content says you’re not entirely happy with where modern technology and late capitalism has brought us. Would you like to walk us through the band’s ethos and politics?

Owen Gildersleeve: When Modern Technology first formed we were going through a really difficult time – The Brexit process had just kicked in and Trump had found his way into power – so it was tough to create anything that felt as though it had any worth. I remember sitting in my studio around that time trying to get on with work just thinking ‘this is all meaningless’.

Chris and I both really needed a place to vent and Modern Technology became just that – Somewhere we could speak out for frustrations and unleash some of our anger about what was happening in the world and the chaos we found ourselves in.

Chris Clarke: Absolutely, Modern Technology was started through a shared catharsis. I see the whole process as a physical and emotional release, using the band as a platform to mirror society and give a floor the injustices and social discomforts that saturate us.

I would align us more towards socially focused than politically focused. Politically there are things we ultimately disagree with, and strands of that weave through our writing. But we tend to focus on the effects rather than the cause in our writing. Sometimes this manifests in highlighting the mundanity, sometimes it’s much more drawn from our own experiences – but ultimately we always try and leave a bit of room for interpretation, both in the way the lyrics are constructed and the themes to hopefully encourage some conversation rather than polarity.

Where did it all go wrong?

Chris: Owen and I were born pre-internet age and have seen the acceleration of technology advance faster than our understanding of the detriment to our mental health. It is something both marvellous and monstrous, and for all its virtues it has been manipulated to really illuminate the cracks in us. Our private lives are now public reality — we break down the minutiae into a public commodifiable event — and then give this away for free through interfaces that profit from our addiction. Politics is stuck and the idealised idea of democracy from centuries past is fundamentally outdated. It’s largely accepted that we can’t continue on this trajectory — It will eventually break.

I feel politically we’re caught in a cycle — hoping for our next liberator — but our focus is all wrong. We should be questioning how we got here in the first place. Only when we understand that we can truly break the mould. My concern is that we’re all products of our own making, too internally focused to think beyond the status quo, and that’s exactly where the governments want us – idle, predictable, safe. Personally for me the true thing is the fear of not knowing — not knowing how this all ends. Where reality is our best shared hallucination.

Was there a specific rationale behind being a two-piece, and do you find there are any particular limitations to operating within that setup?

Owen: It came as quite a natural thing. Before Modern Technology formed Chris and I had been jamming on and off for many years in a variety of different setups, but it didn’t quite click until we came together just the two of us. There was a real raw energy, with both the bass and drum sounds being so clear that you couldn’t hide behind anything. We also enjoyed playing with those limitations – Seeing how far we can push the sound just the two of us, and also stripping back an instrument at certain points to reveal the space.

Chris: To link with your description of us — The primitivism spurs a little from our limitations, both in talent and the constraints being a two piece affords. It’s something we both delight in, allowing the tension between bass and drums to manifest in ways that are quite precise. The limitations are important to us because it truly focuses our music. We know the scope and parameters that we can work within and this often forces us to try sometimes naive and unexpected combinations of things, purely from trying to work around our constraints.

A bass guitar inherently is restricted, it has fewer strings and a low emphasis. We couple that with a set of loud humbuckers and a board of pedals that have a myriad of different distortions and ways of producing slight variances in harmonics. The MT sound comes a lot through mixtures of cheap digital and analog pedals — that help create that tone that’s slightly industrial.

There’s a real transparency that we also enjoy — being a two piece really lays you bare — with Owen and I really having to work hard to stay mechanical and locked rather than being able to hide behind more musicians.

Modern Tech

What’s your creative process? Is it quite structured, or is it something more organic?

Owen: The process is really organic, more so than any bands I’ve been in before. Chris and I really enjoy jamming and that tends to lead to at least a couple of new ideas each practice. Also unlike previous bands Chris doesn’t mind me chipping in on bass riff ideas, kindly not mocking my hummed riffs that I’ll send over from time to time. Although when Chris eventually plays them he does always make them a lot better!

Chris: I guess we have a very explorative approach, we take great joy in just stepping in a room and playing on different trajectories till something eventually overlaps. There’s nothing better for us when that moment clicks and you’ve lost an hour playing the same riff. As mentioned earlier — it’s exactly that catharsis in why we started the band in the first place. It’s a physical and emotional release for us, a chance for us to really vent, where in our day to day we are both quite controlled human beings.

Musically, you sit somewhere in a bracket of noisy, nihilistic post-punk. Who would you say you feel most affinity with, both in terms of precursive influences and contemporaries?

Owen: When we first met, although we had a lot of similar musical interests, there was definitely a bit of a divide in our tastes – Chris coming from a more punk, grind and psychobilly background, and myself listening to more metal, sludge and doom. So meeting in the middle has been an interesting process and I think has led to quite a different sound than we could have expected.

Chris: Owen and I both originally hail from the south west of England, which during our childhood seemed to be the perfect stomping ground for alternative music. Growing up I had a lot of musical influences that crossed a myriad of genres. It’s hard to really pinpoint any specific bands, but there has always been a strong undercurrent of real authentic voice within the music.

I jokingly once described us as a post-truth band, which however forced that terminology might be, certainly describes a step on from where we may be labeled as post-punk or post -industrial to something more fitting of the influences we draw our references from now.

The sound marries a bunch of different inspirations for us. Musically and culturally — What’s important for me is creating an ‘atmosphere’ — one that feels exasperated, worn-out and futile. Which on reflection I guess goes some way to explaining some of the melodrama in the vocal style. It certainly wasn’t an intentional subversion to sing like that — it just seemed to help add depth to the tight, rhythmic pattern the music was developing in.

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The profits from your debut EP went to Shelter and Mind. Would it be fair to say you’re more concerned with societal issues than success in the conventional sense? And why did you choose those particular charities

Owen: We never started the band to make any money or for any sort of success – In fact it’s been quite a pleasant surprise that people are enjoying what we do. So when we started looking at selling our record it didn’t sit well with us to keep the profits and we thought it would be much more appropriate to try to give something back to those affected by all of this mess that our songs explore.

That’s when we decided that any profits we make off the physical and digital release will go to charities Mind and Shelter. Shelter is doing some amazing work with the homeless and people on low income, which unfortunately has become far too common after years of austerity and benefit cuts. Mind is also doing some incredible work for mental health – an area which has in the past been overlooked, but is becoming an ever-growing issue with society’s increasing demands, stresses and strains. Their work also links back to Shelter’s, as a lot of people going through housing issues unfortunately also suffer from mental health problems along the way, so the two charities feel like good close allies.

So far we’ve raised nearly £600 through our record sales and we hope to make even more through our upcoming shows.

You’ve a handful of live dates coming up, and the shows feature some cracking lineups (especially the London show, which is also a charity benefit gig). How did they come about?

Owen: We were contacted by James from Lump Hammer to say they were planning to come down from Newcastle and whether we’d like to do some shows together. We set about making plans and thought it would be nice to try and do something special for the London show – bringing together a range of friends we’ve met through our music and trying to raise some money for charity. The response has been amazing and we were delighted to have so many amazing artists agreeing to get involved!

We’ll be joined on the night by the amazing noise-punkers Bruxa Maria who we’re all huge fans of and who are about to bring out a new album, so expect some of that! A fantastic chap called Mr Christopher Nosnibor will also be joining us for a one-off collaboration with absurdly prolific home-made electronics and noise artist Cementimental aka Tim Drage. The show is being co-promoted by the excellent Total Cult who have put together a Spotify playlist of the line-up, alongside some top Hominid Sounds and Black Impulse selections.

The London charity show will be held at The Victoria, Dalston on Friday 28th June. Tickets are just £5 from Seetickets, Dice & Eventbrite. You can find out more about the show on the Facebook event page. It should be a really fun night so if you’re in London in June make sure to be there!

After that, we then move onto Leicester to play at show with the the brilliant promoters The Other Window and then finally to Brighton to team up with the excellent Pascagoula. It’s going to be one hell of a weekend!

Modern Tech gig

Could you summarise what you do and what you’re about in a single sentence?

Chris: If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor — Desmond Tutu

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Anthony Coleman has been a key mover in the avant-garde jazz scene for some 40-odd years. The pianist / keyboard player has built an immense body of work over the course of his career. He’s perhaps best known for his work with the truly seminal John Zorn, as well as extensive contributions to work with Marc Ribot, although he boasts an impressive discography of releases as a solo artist and of albums recorded in collaboration with others.

A writer, film-maker, and academic, Coleman is nothing if not wide-ranging in his talents. John Wisniewski was eager to rap with the legend about his career, his current projects, and his future plans.

JW (AA): What are you currently working on, Anthony?

AC: I’ve got a bunch of projects going on at the same time. One of the major ones is a commission from the Vienna-based chamber group Studio Dan. We’re going to be performing in August and October, both times in Austria. I have been working on a lot of Chamber Music: my last couple of CDs: You (New World) and The End of Summer (Tzadik) were both mostly chamber music. I’ve also been working a lot on solo piano stuff; I came out with this CD this year on the Klopotec label record, recorded in Ljubljana, Slovenia of solo piano stuff and I’m working on another one – I’m actually working on a couple more but one is definitely coming out soon. But these are just the tip of the iceberg – they’re I guess the most important projects. There’s a bunch of other stuff going on: I’m very excited about the trio that I have with Henry Fraser on bass and Francisco Mela on drums. We’ve been starting to play out a lot and I’m hoping to make a record this year. Francisco Mela is an incredible drummer and he’s pushing me into a lot of new areas that are connected to things that I’ve done in the past, but some of those things were only, let’s say, promising or incipient in some way; he’s helping me really realize some ways of using elements of Latin or African rhythmic vocabulary without doing that in an overt or obvious way. Francisco is from Cuba, but that’s not the point. He’s a rhythmic master in the kind of zone where he’s able to move between rhythmic states very freely – pretty effortlessly.

I’m also very excited about my duo project with the drummer/percussionist Brian Chase. That’s a completely different sonic experience; Brian is the most intense and interactive listener you can possibly imagine. I’m also trying to organize a recording of this evening-length piece I wrote last year for the 150th Anniversary of New England Conservatory. It involves around 50 musicians – all from the department I teach in (Contemporary Improvisation). But everything’s in place with that project except for the time to organize everybody and everything again. Some of those pesky students up and graduate and move and stuff like that. And then there’s arranging recording sessions for large ensemble while doing a full-time job… But it will happen!

What is the experience like working with John Zorn?

Well, you’re talking about my history in this case, because it’s been 20 years since I’ve worked with John closely, but it was a very key experience. When you work with John he

definitely pushes you towards a vision of your best work. But it’s one vision of your best work: there’s a certain kind of intensity that he brings out in you that you may not have been aware that that you had, and he pushes you to bring that out, and that’s amazing, but it’s one way of playing and it’s one way of being musically. He is a man with a very strong vision of music and of life and he’s a centrifugal force, and when you’re inside of his orbit it is a world, and when you take some steps out of his orbit you realize that there are other worlds. There were many other words that interested me, but I will say that the 20 years of working closely with him were very, very important to my life. I often say that he was my last teacher because of a certain way that he has of approaching influences and models without too much « respect ». Where I went to school, which is also where I teach now – New England Conservatory – there’s a lot of discussion of models, but I feel like there’s always a little bit too much respect in relation to them. Stravinsky, for example, talked a lot about the problems around this, and John always knew how to use the right amount of force of will to make something his own without too much obeisance to history or tradition or whatever. That was something I needed to get, and it took me a while to learn that lesson. I’m not sure I ever learned it to the degree that John is able to do it, but I figured out a way to do it in my own way.

You have an interest in Hebrew music. Could you tell us about this?

Yes, sure… But you know, when the Radical Jewish Music scene started becoming really important in the early ‘90s one of the things was that a lot of the musicians who are Jewish or who happen to be Jewish didn’t have a lot of background in Jewish music, and that seemed odd – especially in our scene, because one of the things of our scene was that we used material from everywhere. We were very fascinated with material from everywhere. There was a lot of collaging – if you listen to a lot of the music of that time you’ll hear a lot of references to music from all over the world. Music from Asia – Indonesian music, a lot of African music, and then of course if we want to say that Jewish music is « our tradition », it was interesting how little that played a role, and one of the things I like to say now is with all these last 25 years of addressing that this music has become incorporated. It was really truly missing and it needed to become part of the vocabulary and now it is, but I wouldn’t want to say much more than that because it’s an influence on me but it’s not a stronger influence than many other things, and it’s less strong than, let’s say, African-American music which is very, very key to my life, particularly the composer-pianist tradition of Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, etc.

Do you enjoy klezmer?

I generally don’t like to think about my enjoyment of music in terms of genres. I like to think about people and their work and individual pieces of music. I certainly have pieces of klezmer music which I love very, very much, especially from some of the masters like Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras and people like that. I have a relatively large collection of Klezmer records and CDs.

One of the problems I went through in the mid-late ‘90s was the sense that I was starting to become defined as a Modern Jewish musician, and I had problems with this given my background which is in many, many different kinds of things and I was so nervous… I mean, it was a little bit of a conundrum because that scene was the only scene in which I ever felt that I was really central, so there was a little bit of sadness in the idea of possibly giving that up, but like for example if you look at someone like Michael Winograd, he seems very comfortable in his role as Klezmer-defined musician and if you’re comfortable in the role that you’re in then that’s a wonderful thing – that’s how you should be in your relation to your life as a musician, and my identity or self-definition – if you want to put it that way – isn’t about that, it’s about something else. I mean, if you want to find out what it’s about, I guess you would do better to look in couple of my records like the ones I mentioned – the recent ones.

What may inspire you to compose?

Inspiration really can come from anywhere – a lot of experiences. I like words a lot. I like crazy sentences. I like anagrams. I like travel. I like thinking about loss and trying to find a way to make sense out of it. I like movies. I like the way that images take place in time – there’s a great scene in Kiarostami’s Close Up where he just follows a can rolling down the street and just the kinetic nature of that can really inspire me. Time and the way it takes place – movement. I like to think about people who clearly think of the passage of time as a major element in their work and their thinking. I like to say that material is only material but it still is material. In other words, you need material, but when you’ve come up with material that’s not even half the battle.

Do you compose film soundtracks?

I’ve done a few – not very many. I would love to do more. I’ve done them every time I’ve been asked – when I’ve had time. There are a few out there by Peter Stastny and Mike DiPaolo – particularly these two directors. I sure hope that other people ask me at some point and give me enough money so that I can really do it!

Do you enjoy playing to a live audience?

I love it when I’m with my people. When they pay attention. When they’re with me. When we’re grooving together. When I feel the synergy and it’s amazing. You can’t play alone in the house all the time – it’s a different feeling… I used to have a really big circle of friends and now I don’t, and so the social aspect of public music making has become very, very precious and very important. When I was younger the hang after the concert was really, really key. Now that’s never that big of a deal except rarely so it’s like a little precious moment where we have this little communal space. It’s almost like something – I don’t want to say religious, but spiritual in a sense. I’ve been teaching a lot this last few years and last year I felt like the balance between teaching and the rest of my life really got off kilter and I really needed to start performing a lot more again and this year I’m performing pretty much all the time when I’m not teaching, which means I’m a lot more tired than I was but I’m also a lot happier.

Emerging in 2016 as a Paramore-influenced radio-friendly rock act, Weekend Recovery have come a long way in a short time, transforming into on altogether edgier, more fiery, grungy-punk outfit and slamming down a debut album and a follow-up EP, amidst a heavy live schedule in 2018. With a few days off between Christmas and New Year, I caught up with singer / guitarist Lorin to riff on feminism, finance and whipped cream boobs – and to reflect on both the highs and lows of an eventful and sometimes turbulent 12 months.

AA: 2018 has been a big year for Weekend Recovery – you’ve played a lot more live dates and actually started to look like a proper touring band, not to mention the fact you’ve released your debut album. How’s it felt for you?

L: It’s been and gone so quickly – like it’s weird feels like it’s been forever but also gone in a blink if that makes sense. For the first time since the beginning though it’s felt like a band. Like I’d kill for the boys – you know how you can talk shit about your family but no one else can – a bit like that!

Yes, I get that strange warping of time, too: and it feels strange for me having first seen you play in, what, February 2016? It was funny, because you arrived late after bad traffic, draped in a faux-fur coat… and if anything, while the band’s rise has been pretty remarkable since then, you actually seem more grounded as an individual. You seem like a completely different band now. What happened?

I think it was 2017? (I think [it was]) I think I’ve surrounded myself in bullshit for a long enough time to work out who actually wants the band to progress and I can say whole heartedly these boys do – I feel more confident in myself and have learnt the ropes (I think anyway) and also surround myself with good people.

WR1

The company you keep can make all the difference. And there seems to be an awful lot of bullshit, even at the lower levels of music-making. It seems ironic that feminism seems to have been a major source of friction on the scene of late – I had some major grief at a gig earlier this year, which subsequently turned into a virtual riot on social media, simply because I was a bloke reviewing a feminist ‘punk’ band – and you’ve had some pretty rough treatment too….

Yeah – it’s been an interesting few years – I think there are a lot of rose coloured bullies in this industry – and what annoys me is it’s so sugar coated people are fooled by it, or worse they know but continue to idol worship as I call it… Thing is the good bands aren’t the nasty ones – ‘cos they don’t have to beat others down to rise up – they rise up cos they’re great.

It seems strange that there should be infighting and animosity between artists: everyone’s struggling as it is. Where does this kind of division come from? And how do you actually manage to operate financially as a band? It seems that these days, even bands with an international profile are dependent on their day-jobs to subsist. It’s something that Pissed Jeans have made a band career of documenting.

I have no idea honestly – thing is with anything subjective there will always be an element of competition which creates friction – the band I have issue with (or rather she does with me) I don’t see as competition because they’re everything I’d hate to be. Financially, fuck knows – even the bands at the top work day jobs haha! Merch sales I guess are the way forward.

You’re pretty on it with the merch and design generally – and everything is your own, from concept to execution. Do you have any background in either marketing or graphic design, or are you just a control freak?

Haha! I have an A-level in it if that counts? And a foundation degree in fashion design haha.

But yes, I am a control freak, lol.

Fashion… you do are a fairly distinctive look, and you change your hair more often than your underwear. What’s with?

Changing my hair – it’s a trying to find myself kinda thing – I got accused of copying someone’s style – so I had a bit of crisis like oh does that look like her or does that – every time I put on a dress I’d look in the mirror and be like fuck that’s too much like her – pathetic right? also I get bored haha!

I wish I had time to get bored! So would you say you have a short attention span? More importantly, around having a crisis and people focusing your appearance and image – do you think it’s something that’s a problem more generally for women in music, particularly in ‘rock’ (if you’ll excuse the phraseology)? Do you feel like how you look carries more weight or gets more attention than the music?

I think look is super-important, like you want to walk in the room and people be like ‘oooh she means business’ BUT I don’t think you have to dress a certain way to achieve this, it’s an air – I think if the music is good the rest will follow.

WR2

I know you’re a huge fan of Katy Perry, and that her work resonates on an emotional level – although clearly her image also plays a part – but do you think her wider appeal is about the music or the look?

I think she’s the whole package – I’m not a fan of her more recent stuff but if you go right back to the start she’s very much an artist in her own right before the crazy hair and whipped cream boobs – but you know music is a business if someone can make music, sell GHDs, perfume, jewellery and pop chips then even better!

So would you do whipped cream boobs or similar to shift units or to raise your band’s profile?

Haha! I’m sure there’s some integrity in it but I don’t think I would.

Wuss! Joking aside, what are your limits, and do you think that some so-called ‘feminist’ bands are exploitative in terms of sexuality?

Well I’ll do anything for a dare so the bar is quite high…. I think feminism is about equality (don’t get me wrong there are some wronguns out there and the light should be shone on them) I’ve never experienced anything adverse luckily but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. But you can’t tar everyone with the same brush everyone has the right to feel safe at a gig. But my dad for example is a really cool guy who isn’t about pushing people and making nasty advances when it’s unwanted. Feminism is great, man-hating is not.

I think when it’s done incorrectly it almost makes people not take it seriously, if that makes sense.

Yes, there seems to be a current within feminist musical movements right now that seems to be staunchly anti-male. To my mind, this isn’t feminism, but perpetuates the same shit women have been facing for years but pitched against men, which is just sexism thrown the other way. You say you’ve never experienced anything adverse in our career to date… there are some bands who are your peers, who may also not have problems, but clearly appeal to a certain male, 40-50 demographic. How does that sit with you, and what’s your demographic?

I think if people are there for the right reasons it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter their age, if they’re there to look up people’s skirts mm maybe they need to have a look at themselves…our demographic is quite broad I think.

Do you think there are people who turn up to gigs to look up skirts? And do you think maybe some artists encourage that? Obviously, your primary thing is the music – and we’ll come to that next.

Maybe and maybe. People will always have their justification for both things I guess, I know accusations get thrown around a lot for example oh you’re bands only popular cos you have a hot girl in it (not my band I hastingly add!) But I dunno, maybe people will always deny it though if that is the intention.

So, while the popular take is that the internet has opened up the world to bands without labels, I still get the impression that it’s playing live to new crowds is the most effective way to build a fanbase. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?

I think so, but getting people there is difficult they’ve got to really like you ‘cos no-one has money nowadays and it’s expensive not just entry but travel beers etc.

Yes: it’s a competitive market, and under austerity, people struggle just to pay the bills. So how do you lure people?

By hopefully playing good music, I know that sounds old school and telling people I don’t think there’s any shame in saying hey I play in this band come check it out if it’s your thing great if not nice to meet a new person

There’s nothing wrong with old-school! And there’s a bit of an old-school feel to your sound now. What influences are you currently drawing on now the band’s sound’s evolved beyond the earlier Paramore etc. template?

Mmm… Marmozets, The Blinders, Metric are the bigguns at the mo.

And in terms of lyrical inspiration, how close to home are yours?

Very on the EP. ‘I’m Not That Girl’ was super personal, we’ve just started writing for our album and the lyrics are super hard hitting for me. It’s a bit like Paramore’s new album after laughter it all seems happy but if you read the lyrics away from the music they ate deep.

What drives your lyrics? ‘New Tattoo’ seemed to ache with anguish – and you have a substantial and expanding array of tattoos yourself. Any significance?

Well ‘New Tattoo’ is about seeing someone you really like to find out they actually have a partner already and were screwing around so it’s like a skin deep kinda thing, a tattoo is like a scar and relationships are often scars as well cos they stay with you forever in whatever form. I love all my tattoos everyone I have has a meaning and often designed by someone who means a lot to me.

You’ve just spun my head there! Relationships and meeting people is complex and difficult… do you think that being in a band changes how that works or makes it more difficult? Or do you feel like you’re just the same as everyone else on that front?

Yeah being in a band makes relationships really hard. Like really really hard. Either you’re with someone who isn’t in one and they don’t get it, like how you can spend so much time on something (because if you don’t it doesn’t work) or you’re with someone in a band who gets it but it’s difficult because you’re both so busy. It’s hard to balance everything I came out of a relationship not long back and he was convinced the band was more important than him, which wasn’t the case it’s just different like you wouldn’t make someone choose between going to work and a relationship so why bring in a band is any different I don’t know, it’s a business at the end of the day. There’s Lori who’s the front women of weekend recovery and there’s Lauren who eats chocolate pizza and drinks 6 cans of coke a day. It’s hard to balance sometimes but if the person you’re with doesn’t understand then they aren’t right , or maybe you aren’t right for them.

It’s relatable: reviewing music and being a writer means being holed up for hours a night. It’s not being unsociable or absent as a partner, so much as it’s juggling two careers. It’s more than just work / life balance. Des it feel like there’s a psychological pressure there, too? I’ll put this on the table first: I find it really difficult at times being a writer, a 9-5-er, a parent and all the rest: there just aren’t the hours in the day. Giving up anything isn’t an option, and cracking up quietly feels like all there is.

Yeah, I hate to feel like I’ve failed but sometimes there’s so much to do it seems impossible but it works.

WR3

What distinguishes success and failure for you? You don’t just do the songwriting and lyrics but all of the band’s design and promo, yes?

Yeah. I do everything I think failure is giving up.

Does that mean you’ll still be plugging away at 40? Also…. you’ve got a solo release in the pipeline, right?

I dunno. I know my limits. I do super exciting that should be out and about around June time.

How would you describe the solo stuff? And why do it?

I had some bad news after my tour back in 2017 so I just needed to get some stuff off my chest like big time! It’s electro poppy kinda Foxes, Kyla la Grange, or Sia inspired.

Do you ever stop? What’s the plan for 2019?

Writing an album, record album, more gigging, some exciting support slots on the pipeline and release my solo stuff too. Oh and crack on with my degree, haha!

GX Jupitter-Larsen – musician best known as the founder of noise act The Haters, who feature on some 300 or so releases, performance artist, conceptual artist, film-maker, writer, and ultimate polyartist – is the epitome of ‘cult’. Widely regarded, and avidly-followed by a small but discerning fanbase, he’s forged a career of enviable – and almost unrivalled in the broader field of ‘noise’ barring Merzbow and Whitehouse – duration stretching back to the 1970s.

With The Haters’ 40th anniversary looming large on the horizon, John Wisniewski snatched a brief Q&A with GX for a progress report…

John Wisniewski: What projects are you currently involved with, GX?

GX Jupitter-Larsen: 2019 is The Haters’ 40th Anniversary, so there will be a few releases and performances to mark the occasion. Including a double 10-inch on Influencing Machine Records. That’s a decade a side! Ha!

JW: What were the first recordings of yours like? Were they noise or collage?

GX: Kind of a mix of the two.

JW: What was the ethos of The Haters. What did you want to accomplish?

GX: I was in New York in 79; in many ways, The Haters was my reaction to being in THAT city at THAT time. New York in 79 was such a celebration of entropy and decay. I just wanted to keep the celebration going.

JW: What was the audience reaction at the time?

GX: People either got it or didn’t. Those who got it didn’t need to be told what was going on. Those who didn’t get it were never going to get it. Either you didn’t need an explanation, or no explanation would do. Forty years later, nothing seems to have changed much in that regards.

JW: Any future plans for you, GX?

GX: I’ve started working on my third feature-length movie. This one takes place in a library; a library full of noisy books. Ha!

JW: Do people still seek out challenging art today?

GX: Fewer and fewer. Sadly.

GX Jupitter-Larsen is on-line here.

Rob Holliday’s been pretty busy the last fifteen years, what with playing as a member of Marilyn Manson’s touring band, first on bass and later on guitar, as well as working extensively in the studio and live Gary Numan and The Prodigy, not to mention a three-year stint with The Mission. To say he’s been in demand would be an understatement, but inevitably, the day-jobs have left little time for the real work. And so it is that his band, Supher, finally deliver their second album, the follow-up to 2003’s ‘Spray’, which saw them tour as main support for The Sisters of Mercy and build a substantial following before moving to a back-burner.

Opportunity has afforded Holliday the chance to put Sulpher back to the forefront of his activity, and No-One Will Ever Know, released in August, is a belter: hard-edged but bursting with tunes, it picks up where ‘Spray’ left off.

With the band in the early stages of an evolving European tour, I welcomed the opportunity to toss a few questions in Rob’s direction…

AA: You came together around the turn of the millennium, and made considerable headway then… obviously, you’ve done a lot in the intervening years, but why bring Sulpher back together now?

RH: It was never a question of whether we would bring Sulpher back – we were working on material every chance we had when our schedules worked out – I was constantly touring with The Prodigy and also Marilyn Manson so it was difficult but we finally managed to get the album finished so here we are.

How do you feel the music scene – and, dare I ask – the industry has changed since the band first came together?

It’s changed massively with all the social media craze – it seems to run the world which is kind of bizarre to me really, I really don’t get it – everyone now can feel like a rock star if they have followers online even if they’re fuckin useless really – I also blame x factor.

Tut tut!!!! you will be punished on the day of reckoning!!

The new material’s been getting a fair bit of attention, in terms of YouTube streams and so on. Were you in any way daunted about your comeback and how it would be received?

We never really saw it as any sort of comeback , just a continuation.

Do you ever worry about being considered something of a ‘throwback’ act?

Not at all, we make the music we maker and if anyone likes it then that is just a bonus.

Most so-called supergroups aren’t actually that super. Sulpher probably qualify as a supergroup, but don’t fall into the common trap of delivering less than the sum of the parts. What’s the secret, and how does the band operate?

Myself and Monti have worked in the studio together it seems like forever lol. He’s fast and on it with regards to programming and getting ideas down that we both come up with.

We may start with a loop and place parts around it – or I may come in with a vocal melody or guitar line or riff whatever you wanna call it , then it progresses from there – we don’t have any set format, and we work off each other really well – we’re both not afraid to be honest about how we feel about how something is sounding, good or bad.

Given your other musical commitments, what’s the drive to be this band?

Well this is us – this is our thing. Totally ours Our baby, our heart and soul and it’s a lot different than playing another person’s creation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to play in such high profile bands that myself and Monti have – but at the end of the day it’s like family and blood and blood overrules anything. It’s from the heart.

Sulpher

You’ve all played some huge venues, both as Sulpher and in the other bands you all play in. How does it feel playing extremely intimate spaces on this tour?

I quite like it – intimate – loud as fuck and chaotic and all in close range. So beware!

What new / contemporary acts excite you?

Well I’m not sure – I’m stuck with all my old favorites like Slayer , Fear Factory, The Cure, Killing Joke, Ministry, Deftones, Bring Me the Horizon are cool also but I guess they’re not new anymore – I’m stuck in the past!!!

What plans are there for Sulpher after this tour?

We’re doing some German dates in December and then want to get on a support tour with some bad ass act in the new year, the management are in discussions currently regarding that, so we wait with baited breath and we hope to see you all out at our shows wherever and whenever!

No-One Will Ever Know is out now.

https://embed.tidal.com/player/?type=a&id=85049951

Christopher Nosnibor

We’ve been digging both Salvation Jayne and Chess Smith’s solo work here at Aural Aggro for a while now. With live dates in the offing to support the release of their new EP, Moves That Make The Record Skip, Christopher Nosnibor welcomed the opportunity to have a virtual chat.

AA: Ok, let’s get the lame, predictable, off-the-peg questions out of the way first: why Salvation Jayne?

SJ: No depth to it really. We were once in a cafe in Camden, and there was a sign on the wall that said ‘Previously called Salvation Jane’. We thought it sounded cool, so we just added the Y.

Would you care to introduce yourselves? Who does what?

Chess (pronounced like the board game) is the vocalist, Holly plays guitar and does backing vocals, Tor plays drums, and Dan plays bass/does backing vocals and also records and mixes our stuff.

Chess, you’ve been in music forever and things started happening when you were 17, back in 2008. Having been in electro act Mooli, and then working as a solo artist, what made you want to be in a band again?

I’d always loved being in bands, and had recently tried starting an all-female band of my own which didn’t really work out. Initially I’d agreed to just stand in for SJ, but it really worked and so I decided to stay.

Salvation Jayne

Your bio describes you as ‘a young, female driven alt-rock band with a distinctive dirty sound which combines elements of rock, nu wave and blues’. How do these elements combine to create something that uniquely defines Salvation Jayne?

We have the big fuzzy single note riffs of bands such as Royal Blood, and QOTSA, but often mixed which dark lyrical themes/chord changes and a chorus effect on the guitar/bass! There’s some big brooding sections not unlike Sisters of Mercy!

Anything that’s got big brooding sections that tip a nod to the Sisters gets my vote. Hit me: influences?

It’s really varied for all of us. In our sound you’ll find elements of Wolf Alice, Kill It Kid, Girls Against Boys, QOTSA and even some hip hop influences in terms of the cadances!

These guys get cooler by the second. In the three-and-a-bit years you’ve been in existence, you’ve accumulated some name-droppable fans, including AC/DC drummer Chris Slade, and The Clash drummer Topper Headon. How did that come about?

Slade is actually a customer of Dan’s. Dan records his other band and played him our stuff. Both he (Slade) and his partner have come to see the band live and really enjoy our stuff. Topper is an old friend of Tor’s Dad, and he has known Tor for years too. Tor often hangs out with him and he was keen to hear the EP, which he loved. He then came to see us live and was totally into it!

You recently released a new EP, Moves That Make The Record Skip. Would you like to talk us through the songs on there?

‘Burn It Down’ is the most recent, and the only one that was actually written with the lineup as it is now. That track nicely combines the elements of our sound described earlier. ‘The Jailer’ is probably the most blues influenced. Featuring slide guitar, although very heavy. That one is actually written about a serial killer, really gloomy in terms of the lyrics! ‘Thrillride’ was inspired by the film Natural Born Killers. It’s about a hedonistic couple indulging in a night of sin. Has a cool kind of ‘desert’ feel to it. ‘Whorehouse Down On The SE’ is another one with dirty slide guitar and even dirtier lyrical theme – it’s about the activities inside a Whorehouse!

There are a lot of people under the age of, I dunno, 30, who have never experienced the skipping of a record. Are you fans of vinyl? And what moves have you got?

Everyone loves vinyl right? Holly can moonwalk, that’s about all we’ve got.

salvation-jayne-moves_thumb

You have a handful of live shows coming up: given the live rep you’ve managed to build, I’m guessing you quite enjoy playing live?

Yeah we love it, get to relieve ourselves of the stress of everyday life! Haha. We always put lots of energy into our performances.

How do you fit playing further afield with non-music commitments, and are you planning more live shows to promote the EP?

We’re pretty fortunate as we all work for ourselves. So taking time off is easy, something we’re thankful for. And yeah, you will catch us all over the UK in the forseeable future!

Final, superfluous and utterly frivolous question, which I’m asking for a friend: what are your favourite crisps?

We had a massive discussion about crisps on the way to a show once. Tell your friend it’s a closely guarded secret.

Moves That Make The Record Skip is out now. Tour dates are listed below.

Forthcoming Live Dates (so far)

Aug 15 The Prince Albert Brighton

Aug 17 Hawley Arms London

Aug 25 The Good Ship Kilburn

Aug 27 Dover Music Festival Dover

Sep 23 Camden Rocks Presents London

Oct 13 Ramsgate Music Hall Ramsgate

Dec 13 NME Presents London

Christopher Nosnibor

They say you should never meet your heroes, but having interviewed – if not necessarily met – a fair few of mine, I’ve either been extremely fortunate, or have chosen my heroes wisely. I’ve been a fan of Raymond Watts’ work as PIG since I first clapped eyes and ears on the band supporting Nine Inch Nails on the Downward Spiral tour in 1994, and I’ve spent the intervening years hunting down as much PIG material as possible.

I tell him this by way of an ice-breaker, as much as anything to get the fanboy shit out of the way early and to shake off some of the anxiety.

He looks – and sounds – genuinely surprised, with an astonished ‘no! You are kidding?’ when I tell him I’ve been a fan for many years, and a ‘wow!’ when I tell him how I came to be aware of his work. ‘That was the last time we played in this country! Shouldn’t we have grown out of this shit by now?’ he laughs. Never! It’s all about showing the kids how it’s done, I tell him.

We’re in York, and we’re seated on a big, plush, red leather-upholstered sofa in a corner of a ‘gentleman’s club’, which is situated above the Fibbers venue. It isn’t yet open, so the place is empty and the only noise is the throb of the soundcheck going on downstairs. The lighting is low, and red in hue. There’s nothing subtle about its reproduction vintage sleaze.

Raymond Watts is a tall man. A very tall man. I am not a tall man. Yet despite his towering presence which is more than purely physical, he has a most charming, disarming nature, which sets me at ease immediately. Even so: in getting down to business with the recording rolling, I look at my printed A4 sheet of questions. They seemed far wittier when I compiled them than they do now as I squint in the half-light. But hey, go for the Q&A, and see where it goes, I think.

I start with a gentle opener, asking what it’s like playing to a ‘home’ crowd, as someone who can genuinely say they’re big in Japan?

“Well, I can – was – maybe. I haven’t been there for a long time, but that’s where the natural constituency used to be. And then of course it became America, because my label, Wax Trax! was in Chicago. But there seemed to be more purchase in Japan, and I was also more interested in Japan. I liked it. It felt weirder. It was so fucking weird: it was like Blade Runner – why is there a train disappearing into the middle of that building? But how does it feel to be playing in the UK? Very weird. I was initially quite trepidatious about doing it. I never worked it so hard here, I lived in Berlin… And then you stop being so up yourself and someone asks you to come and do something. It’s fairly modest, but it’s great fun.”

PIG - Gospel Cover

It’s immediately clear that when he forewarned me there’d be a lot of editing required in my transcription, he wasn’t kidding. But then again, the digressions make for far more interesting interview matter than anything a direct answer might provide. I ask how this double-header tour with Mortiis came about.

“The reason why PIG is doing stuff again isn’t because I’ve been striving away at the coal-face for years and years. It’s been on the shelf for over a decade, as I was doing other stuff, for McQueen and all sorts of fashion houses”, he says. This explains the big furry Cossack hat he’s thrown onto the table and the audacious black faux-fur jacket he will later walk on stage wearing: Watts is a stylish man with an obvious sense of theatre. “…and looking after my kids, and doing other things, and having a full-on fucking ramped-up drug problem, the whole thing was a full-time job not doing music of the PIG variety. This weird series of events collided, which ended up with me being invited to do a little festival in Canada last year.”

One show became five, and thanks to his booking agent, five became twenty, at which point the need for some product to promote became an issue. Following a few phone calls between his label, Metropolis records, and various musicians, lo, ten days later, The Gospel was created. One thing led to another, and, ultimately a tour where the two artists could bear the responsibility and burden on a jaunt around the less obvious venues of the UK. As such, the latest burst of activity, as represented by a brace of EPs, The Gospel, a tour-only collection of offcuts and remixes and an upcoming remix EP is only partially reflective of the actuality. This brings me to the question of the PIG back-catalogue, which is diffuse and widely-dispersed, and almost impossible to track down in its entirety. How much of an impact did touring as the support for Nine Inch Nails in ‘94 have in terms of the band reaching a wider audience?

“It’s very difficult to find our stuff”, he acknowledges. “We’re almost the most wilfully obscure band you could possibly fucking come across. I’m always amazed when people come up and say ‘I’ve got all your things,’ and I say ‘how the fuck did you find your way to that?’ I mean, I haven’t even got all my shit! I haven’t got an American version of fucking Wrecked, for example, ‘cause there was one version in Japan and they have different tracks and I always made things incredibly complicated: ‘I’m going to release that song over here and that one over there…’ Talk about underground. We are genuinely under the fucking ground, it’s very difficult to get our shit.”

He has a habit of leaning close and extending his hands as if to guide his words directly into his interlocutor’s mind, but it’s by no means an aggressive manner or a delivery which suggests a desire to dominate. And while he swears prodigiously, and clearly has a penchant for ‘shit’ as a substitutive noun, he’s effusive and extremely well-spoken and articulate.

I’m wondering if he has a 12” promo for ‘Fountain of Miracles’, which features the amusingly puntastic ‘anal-log’ and ‘anal-hog’ mixes, like the one lurking in my collection, but instead ask about his having been a touring member of Foetus back in the late 80s. JG Thirlwell was involved with a couple of early PIG releases, and I’m curious to know just how much of an influence the mighty master of disaster has been on Watt’s work and his approach to composition.

“Yeah, that was a great band,” he enthuses. “He’s influenced me massively. I mean, if you’re going to be influenced by shit, be influenced by the best shit. He obviously carries an enormous stylistic truckload of things… that whole train wreck of musical styles: he’s got a whole great thing going on, and always has done. I met him when I was doing sound for Neubauten, ‘cause I used to knock around with those guys a lot. I met him in New York, and before I knew it, I was in his band with some of those guys from Swans… It was very fertile territory, working with him on some of the Steroid Maximus stuff. I’d already done PIG and KMFDM. It was good influence.”

I try to read out my next question as naturally as I can, and find myself compelled to suppress an inner wince: Wordplay – particularly alliteration and punning – is a prominent feature of all things Pig. It seems a uniquely English thing, and it never grows tired. What is it about the audacious porcine puns that you enjoy so much?

It raises a chuckle, and I’m relieved. “I like that fact that, honestly, it sounds good.,” he says. “Very simple. But also, it punctures pomposity, without meaning to alliterate again.” It seems he can’t help himself. “I didn’t plan that honestly,” he laughs. “I think when you say it’s quite English, you’re right, I hadn’t thought about that before, but it is quite an English trait. I can’t imagine it coming from an American, ‘cause it’s got low self-esteem and grandiosity rolled into one. It’s daft: it’s pompous, but it’s daft. So it’s got that duality. And it just sounds good. You can say a lot with ‘find it, fuck it, forget it’, ‘red, raw and sore’, ‘prayer, praise, profit’, or ‘vitriol, vice, and virtue’… I’ve always been attracted to slogans. Advertising. Red-tops. The Sun, The Mirror. Imagine being a headline writer: what a fucking job!

Is it fair to say that despite the dark subject matter, there’s a certain element not only of humour, but of parody to your work and its delivery? It’s something that runs a thread through all of your work under the PIG moniker, but the video to ‘Found in Filth’ seems to really revel in the absurdity and excess of rock clichés.

“Yeah, there’s a tremendous attraction in, say, the kind of fluff and nonsense of glam rock: we’re attracted to it. Like the foot on the monitor thing, were attracted to it, but t’s completely daft.

But you have to do it, because you’ve got the chance to do it…

“Exactly!” he ejaculates. “But don’t believe it too much. We’re all too old for that. Do it, but you have your tongue in your cheek. Dark subject matter is incredibly rich and fabulous, but it can get fucking tedious if you’re completely obsessed with it, and you have to puncture your own obsession every now and again.”

He’s one of the only men I’ve ever met who can say ‘fabulous’ and not sound like a cock. It isn’t campness, but there’s a certain flamboyance which radiates from Raymond that has hints of David Bowie it’s accompanied by a glint in the eye which betrays a wry humour and self-awareness.

“Also, it becomes incredibly preachy if you’re just obsessed with pointing the finger or droning on about yourself without any sense of puncturing your pomposity.”

I ask if it would it be fair to describe The Gospel as a concept album, or more as a themed work. On this, he’s unequivocal and concise: “No.”

“A lot of these things are quite happy accidents,” he explains. “It wasn’t all formed, like (adopts butch, brawling cockney tone) ‘right, I’ve got this idea!’ It was much more organic, and I changed things right up to the last minute.” It transpires that ‘Diamond Sinners’ arrived at the eleventh hour, and this was pivotal in the shaping of the album, providing not only the opening track but an idea for how the album should look. “It seems to look like a fully formed concept, but it wasn’t,” he concludes, honestly.

After he explains the very different approaches to album-making in comparing Praise the Lard and The Gospel, it seems appropriate to comment on the evolution of PIG sound and I ask if there a particular period or album he’s especially proud of.

“Like a ‘golden era’?” he asks, amused. “A lot of people say Wrecked was the definitive PIG album of the orchestral industrial metal hybrid thing that was done at that time, that was the most fertile period of this genre or whatever. To me, it’s no different, no better, or worse, than the other ones. I think I took my eye of the ball a little bit at the height of my substance abuse round about 2003, when I did Pigmartyr [issued initially as a Watts solo album, then re-released, rematered as PIG album Pigmata] , which was a bit of a fuck-up, and I didn’t even care it wasn’t the best mastered album in the world, but I was going through some of the words the other day and I was thinking ‘I should rerecord these!’”

I don’t push for the details of his substance abuse: it’s part of the backdrop, the context, but it’s not the headline here. It’s history, and speaking to Watts, who it alert and in good shape, I’m reminded of William Burroughs’ (quite baseless) claims for the regenerative powers of cyclical addiction and withdrawal. But more importantly, Watts doesn’t lend himself to a narrative of a man who faced hell and retuned from the abyss to re-emerge as a glorious renaissance man.

“I’ve become much more word-orientated than I used to be. I think the word is king.”

We continueriffing a good ten minutes after I’ve stopped recording and the interviewis over. After the show, which was ace, he hands me a PIG-branded condom, and I realise I’d omitted my question about this unusual line in merch. Still, I leave happy, and with the enduring impression that Raymond Watts is one of the most thoroughly decent chaps I’ve ever interviewed.