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Monday, July 10, 2006

Victims Family

People seem to be at a loss for words when trying to accurately describe what it is that Victims Family sounds like. That's just fine with Victims Family, since they hate categorizations anyway. The easiest pigeonhole for them would be to call it punk jazz funk hardcore, because their music fuses distinguishable elements of sound from each of those genres and then they make it into something all their own. Victims Family now has four albums out since they got their start in 1984, and have been touring throughout the U.S. and Europe in the last few years. Those tours have built up a strong base of fans outside of Northern California and given the band quite a bit of exposure abroad. Recently Antocularis had the opportunity to talk with Victims Family backstage before a show about what they've been up to, their new album and tour, and what they will be doing in the near future.


Interview with Ralph Spight, Larry Boothroyd, and Tim Solyan.

AC- Tell me about the early years of Victims Family.
RS- Victims Family formed in October of '84, as Larry and I were searching for a drummer. We would get together making songs and finally settled on Devon as our drummer, and began rehearsing in my studio apartment which was nothing more than some sheetrock. It was a very tiny place in a very residential neighborhood-
LB- It's been since bulldozed over-
RS- But I Digress. Let's see.....just started playing as many shows as we could, getting songs together, throwing out bad songs, started playing a lot of shows in San Francisco, and then in 1986 we hooked up with Ruth Schwartz at Mordam Records and did our first album Voltage and Violets. We did a tour in 1985 with just a demo tape. We just put out the demo and sent it around to some clubs all over the country.
LB- Basically just to get out of town.
RS- Yeah, kind of a little vacation.

AC- Did you offer this demo tape for sale at shows or attempt to distribute it?
RS- No, we didn't even sell the demo.....I don't know how we survived that tour. We had no merchandise at all, we got paid hardly anything, but we managed to survive that tour. It was pretty amazing. In 1987 we went on a big, long, horrible tour of the United States- three months long and filled with all manner of hideous disasters.
LB- The worst things you could imagine.
RS- All of the most horrible tour stories combined.

AC- What exactly were some of the things that went wrong?
RS- Engines exploding, equipment being ripped off-
LB- After the first show, we had to put a whole new engine in the van.....that should have been a clue right there. RS- We should have turned around then.

AC- How far did you get?
LB- We got the van the day before we had to go on tour-
RS- This could be a whole interview-
LB- This is something that has never been printed, this whole story.
RS- Do we want to go into this?
LB- No, it doesn't glorify us in any way.

AC- Well, what were some of the positive things that resulted from your '87 tour?
RS- We stayed together.
LB- It was important for us to finally get through a tour and meet people.

AC- Have you toured the States for White Bread Blues yet?
RS- No, not yet. That's coming up. The next tour that we're booking now starts on March 28th.

AC- Would you tell us about the tours you've completed up 'till now?
RS- '85 was the demo tour.....five weeks in America, Des Moines, Iowa and back. Then the '87 fuckin' hell tour of America-
LB- Three months, all the way up to Boston. Lived in Michigan for a while-
RS- '88 Europe tour, six weeks, 35 shows.
TS- It wasn't that many.
RS- Yeah, we had more days off last time than we did this time, and then last March-May we did the States again. That was only five weeks.
TS- Then we came back and went to Canada. Did a week up to Canada, recorded for a week, did another four shows coming back.

AC- Wherever you're going you try to stop in and play a few shows?
TS- Well, on the way to record we did-
RS- Because we recorded the album in Canada. We did Eugene, Seattle, Portland, Victoria, and then we did Seattle and Portland again on the way back. Then we just went to Europe for two months, October-November '90.

AC- Do you have more of a following in Europe compared to the U.S., after the tours the band has done there?
RS- Yeah. The whole "alternative" scene seems to be much more organized over there, and basically in Europe the welfare system is a lot better so people don't need to work at shitty jobs. There's no work for them anyway.
LB- And most of the clubs don't rely on the bar. They're more like youth centers.
RS- There is a lot more cooperation, a lot more squatted gigs. It's just much easier for them to do things. People over there aren't so worried about the "money" thing all the time.

AC- The Europeans seem to be open to a lot more.....at least that's what many American bands have told me.
RS- There seems to be more energy going toward it over there. In the U.S. there isn't much energy going into the whole alternative scene. There is only a handful of record labels-
LB- Or the arts in general.
RS- Also, there isn't such an antagonistic view of alternative, punk, hardcore culture over there. Here, if you walk down the street with blue hair you get accosted and killed almost. In Europe people could care less. They can't be bothered with other people. It's just a cultural difference. I enjoy playing the States because to crack the whole culture of America is very satisfying.

AC- How about your following outside of California? Has it increased in the recent years?
RS- Yeah, now. After our last tour of the States I think we really..... we had twelve different stickers and we put them up everywhere!
TS- There were people at shows we did back East, and they would come up to me and say, 'dude, I saw you guys four years ago! You were bad!' I was like.....'wait, that wasn't me!' People still remembered that far back, and it had gotten bigger. A lot of people had the records, and knew the songs here and there.
RS- It had been growing.
LB- Especially after the '87 tour. It was discouraging. We got lazy on stage, and it was totally our fault.
RS- Well, there were a variety of reasons why we did the tour. Money is a problem, and then fuckin' like Devon quit. There was the whole drummer thing.

AC- Was that a major setback for the band?
RS- Definitely was. It was definitely a setback, because I felt when we recorded, "Things I Hate To Admit" we had jelled and had so much chemistry. It was a peak, and sad to see it explode in such a way.

AC- When you came back with "White Bread Blues," what was recording together like compared to the "Things I Hate To Admit" sessions?
LB- That was the best recording we've done. It's just been the whole experience of it.
RS- Well, we were able to spend more time with it. For one thing.....it wasn't leisurely by any means, but more leisurely than the first two sessions, so that helped.
LB- And the engineer, John, is way more familiar (obviously), from where we're coming from-
RS- The producer god.

AC- How did this relationship come about between a member of NoMeansNo (John) and Victims Family?
RS- We're lovers. Let's see.....we first met and saw NoMeansNo in '86 or '87- maybe '85. It was a long time ago.

AC- Were you playing a show with NoMeansNo when you met?
RS- Yeah, it was their first tour of the States, and we both just played a pizza parlor in Oakland..... we were completely blown away by those guys.
LB- There was maybe fifty people there to see the show, and we didn't know who NoMeansNo were.

AC- At the time was their tour for Sex Mad?
RS- This was before Sex Mad.
LB- It was for You Kill Me. We were like 'yeah, some band called NoMeansNo is playing- whatever!' So we play, get off stage, walk outside and come back to see them play. It was like @!#$*. Andy didn't even have his guitar, He was just bouncing around on stage and singing. I think they only played three songs. So, we've played with them over the years and got to know them a little bit better. We know that John and Craig and Cecil are really good at making records and doing live sound. John, as well as being a really natural musician is also just a whiz in the studio.
TS- It's like he was born with a silver 24 track in his mouth.

AC- So he basically engineered the whole album?
RS- He produced it, and did a lot of the engineering with Cecil English-
TS- And Craig.
RS- Craig lent his ears to the whole thing.

AC- Are NoMeansNo and Victims Family mutual fans of each other's work?
RS- Basically, yeah. It's culminating all in the fact that we're doing a bunch of shows with them coming up in March and April across the States.

AC- Do you see any further collaboration with No Means No in the future?
RS- I don't know. It's like if they're up for it we'd love to do something. We're going to do those live shows-
TS- And John is our producer now.
RS- John wants to produce our next album too.

AC- Have you guys talked about recording together on an album?
RS- No, there hasn't been talk of that-

AC- Would you do it?
RS- Sure!
TS- It's not out of the question.
RS- If everybody could find the time.

AC- Is time a problem for Victims Family when working on projects?
RS- There never seems to be enough to do the creative end of it, especially when you're involved in doing shows, and we do all our business ourselves too.

AC- You take care of your own management?
RS- Yeah. It's just us. There's no big management behind us.
LB- Plus we've been building a new studio which has been taking up all our spare time lately, and booking this tour, buying a van-
RS- It's been really crazy.

AC- Well, it must feel good to be in complete control over all aspects of the band.
RS- Definitely. The one thing that we don't control is running the record label. We stopped short of putting our own shit out. Running a label is like a 28 hour a day job. I couldn't do that and be in my own band and do my own management.....we couldn't do all that. We're very lucky.

AC- Is Victims Family happy with Mordam records?
RS- Yes.

AC- Are you going to stay with them?
RS- If they want to keep doing it. We're the only band on Mordam now.
TS- We don't have any plans to shop around for something bigger.

AC- Now that White Bread Blues is out, are you starting to think about what your next album will be like?
RS- Yeah, I'm thinking about that constantly. I've been trying to write, and I just haven't found the use yet.
TS- We haven't got any new songs because we haven't had time to write.
RS- I stayed in Europe for another month after the tour, traveling around with my girlfriend. These guys-
TS- Came home and drank beer for two months.
RS- We didn't have a place to rehearse, so we finally got the studio together. We've been soundproofing the studio for weeks now.

AC- How does the Victims Family song writing process work?
RS- There's usually an idea that someone has, and for the most part it's pretty much a range..... there isn't a whole lot of, 'I've got this riff, and I don't know what to do with it 'kinda thing.
LB- There used to be more of that though. In the beginning, we would just start making noise and at the same time make songs out of it.

AC- Does it take a long time for you to write a song and be satisfied with it?
RS- Well, you can write a song and it can sit for a long time because you think it's shit, but you try it with the band anyway. Sometimes I write songs in five minutes..... sometimes three months. Generally I tend to think that the five minute songs are a lot better than the three month songs- the inspiration of it all.

AC- Do you find yourselves tossing a lot of songs?
RS- Yeah.
LB- But we do recycle. We will take a piece from a song from three years ago and re-work it into a new song.

AC- People seem to have a hard time with trying to identify what it is that Victims Family sounds like-
RS- Good! We're glad to have our music defy description. That's all right with us. I am always at a loss for words when people ask 'what does your band sound like?' It's like..... read the book! There's a certain minimalism in the way that we do things. We try not to overplay things. I know that may be hard for a lot of people to believe, but when people really take it apart and listen to it, they will find that we try to be spacious.
TS- Once we come across something that's really cool we don't just sit there and try to write a couple songs just like it. One of us may play something that's totally bad, and if you can remember it let's try and do something with it.
RS- One of the things that's really hard about trying to write new songs in the frame of reference of being stuck in these songs right now..... this whole group of songs that we're playing live right now is that you're consciously influenced by the songs that you play all the time. So, it's hard to break away from it and work on something new. It's so easy to fall into the same kind of riffs, and same kinds of things you're doing all the time. You don't want to write the same kinds of shit over and over again.

AC- Do you think that White Bread Blues would have been entirely different if it had been recorded with your old drummer Devon?
RS- Yes. I don't think it would have been White Bread Blues, because White Bread Blues is really the culmination of going through-
TS- It's really weird because I worked for Victims Family for a couple years before I was even in the band, and Devon was my ultimate drummer who I thought, 'I gotta be just like that' or the only drummer I was ever really inspired by. It never really showed until I joined the band and realized I could play all these songs. It was strange because I watched him play these songs for two years, and it was like in my brain or something. It really went smooth..... we started writing songs and it just came out.
RS- Also, if we'd had Devon still, White Bread Blues would have been an album sooner, but it's cool that we had to go through all the changes of losing Devon, then having Eric Strand as the drummer, and having that not work out. The whole difficulty of getting over the break-up of the original unit contributed to our creative process.

AC- Well, is there any last minute things that Victims Family would like to say to its fans?
TS- We're not a jazz-core band, we drink a lot of beer, we don't do drugs, we're not supporting the war, and heck! we're coming to your town soon.


This interview originally appeared in Antocularis issue #1, August 1992. For more information about Victims Family visit http://www.victimsfamily.com/ and http://www2.arnes.si/~suduvido/vf/victimsf.htm

Friday, July 07, 2006

Controlled Bleeding

Since the early 80's a trio of musicians have been doing their best to bewilder listeners in an audio experience known as Controlled Bleeding. Their material greatly consists of grinding machinery and deconstructive noise experiments atypical of a true industrial band, however on a whim their music becomes almost classical. The styles employed by Controlled Bleeding vary greatly from album to album, and also depends on their mood swings or individual emotional states at the time of recording. This has earned them a diverse group of fans. Imagine going to see a harsh industrial band open up for the city symphony and you'll have a pretty good idea of what Controlled Bleeding is all about. Paul Lemos, the man in charge of Controlled Bleeding, has worked hard to set the band apart from conventional music experimentation as well as attempt to further the efforts of other artists by forming the Dry Lungs series of international music compilations. He has done much to aid those who fuel the fires of artistic creativity. Now, this trio from New York are riding on a wave of disjointed noise releases brewed up for the 90's. Faster, and more menacing than some of their previous works, Controlled Bleeding once again takes another twist in its long and winding existence. Photo by Bonnie Graham, courtesy of Wax Trax.


AC- Would you tell me a little about the meaning of "Soul vomit"?
PL- "Soul vomit" sounds pretty odd, but I suppose that has been a way to describe the motivation behind some of our recordings. A lot of the material comes from some basic need to channel internalized feelings into a creative process- so at points a lot of pent up aggressions produce some of the harsher or more violent things we've done, where as in periods of sadness or depression, a very different ambiance develops. The process of making sound and music allows us a source of pure release.

AC- I read an interview that was done with Controlled Bleeding early on in it's existence. The question of using video to convey C.B.'s music was brought up. At that time there were no plans to make any videos. Since then, have any been made? If not, will there be any to look forward to? How do you feel about the use of video?
PL- We did make one video for Wax Trax- actually, they made it. A fellow hacked up a lot of really shitty footage of nonsensical imagery and pasted it together for "Words of the Dying." It was disgusting and has been locked away. I am interested in video and would like to work with someone who is interested in aesthetics as opposed to money..... right now nothing is in the works though.

AC- How did C.B. get started out? If you were going to put the finger on someone, who would be responsible?PL- Controlled Bleeding has been the name of all my musical projects since 1978 or so. There have been about 5 different line-ups of the group, and musically there is little similarity among them. I began it as a multi-media art project in Boston. Later, it became an actual 2 man musical group, doing sort of ambient electronic dirges, then developed into a band of 3 persons. Creating a sort of farfisa organ driven surf music with experimental sound on top and fusion guitar riffing interwoven. Then it all exploded; for a year I quit- then started the present project which was originally based on experiments with sound, void of any structure or "regular" instrumentation.

AC- When C.B. sits down to begin work on new material, how does the process unfold? Is the writing and construction of the music a collaborative effort, or is one member of the group in particular solely in charge with the others following closely behind?
PL- We work in a strange way. Often times I will work alone developing rhythms or keyboard patterns or just some textural basis on top of which I or another group member will overdub parts. We rarely work as a unified trio, and rarely do we begin with a solid preconceived idea for a song or a piece of music. Each piece starts from scratch when I (or we) decide to record. Therefore, the tone of the track is often determined by our mood or feelings at the time. Some of the music is solo, but these days most of it is produced in collaboration. Generally Chris and I work together on the more rhythmic, harder edged material, since that is in keeping with our personal chemistry. Joe and I work on the more textural projects, and then often all of us add our own bits to each song. So C.B. is a group but we each work in a very different way, and usually when all of us are together nothing works out at all on tape, but we each add an equally important element which has allowed us to continue since 1983.

AC- Could you tell me a little about the importance/significance of each of C.B.'s members, and how they've grown with the music?
PL- The only members have been Chris, Joe and myself. Pecorino was a fellow with whom I worked many years ago on a song called, "Someone Shit (On My Birthday Cake)." Later I redid the song with Joe and retitled it "Red Stigmata." Linda Paganelli is a friend who added a sax part to one of our songs. She's in Sham 69 and is a great player. In terms of the individual importance of each member of the group, Joe Papa has a powerful, rich, almost operatic voice and this is his main contribution to our recent music. He is also a good funk drummer and has a keen sense of melody and rhythm. His tastes lean toward the progressive 70's music like Yes, Genesis, etc. Chris' roots are in hard thrash, like Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Slayer- but through the years he became very interested in a wide variety of musics (Tim Story, Roger Eno, Skinny Puppy, Diamanda Galas, Phillip Glass, etc.). So Chris brings a sense of aggression to the music, but he also has a strong disciplined sense of rhythm and melody. I've always been interested in integrating noise and raw sounds into an unpredictable bag of musical styles so I lean towards the more experimental end of things. I also am interested in medieval music and modera-classical stuff as well as hip hop and thrash.....so my input is somewhat schizophrenic. I suppose we've grown as we have gotten to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses and as we learn more about the possibilities of our various instruments- things like programming computers, midi setups, sequencing etc. all has allowed material to come closer to what we imagine in our thoughts.

AC- How would you describe or categorize C.B.'s material? How has C.B. changed with the times?
PL- It's hard for me to categorize our material or to be objective about it. We've never consciously changed with the times. The music has always developed very naturally. As we become interested in certain musical areas, I'm sure it's reflected in our releases. But the music like Knees and Bones and Body Samples was a direct outgrowth of confusion and feelings of violence and rage within our personal lives. At the time the anger faded, and as life got easier, the music became gentler and more textural. And so it goes-aggression/depression, happiness comes and goes, and so the music changes frequently.

AC- Does C.B. have a doctrine or message that is trying to get out through the medium of sound, or is it simply a creative release?
PL- There is no doctrine or message that we're trying to express through what we've been doing. The only reason for it is creative and emotional release. It's a means of communicating with others and ourselves. I would probably blow my brains out if I didn't have a creative release. Music is it. For some it's painting or writing, but music has been my only love since I was ten years old.

AC- As far as live performances are concerned, what is usually the goal of C.B.? What do you consider to be a good performance versus a poor one? Do the members look forward to performing live?
PL- I used to hate the idea of playing live because I could never get the money and materials to choreograph it the way I imagined, but as our stuff has become more physical and song oriented, I find playing live a lot of fun. If I can play guitar live and if we can really play a physical, aggressive set, then it's satisfying. I don't find it enjoyable to play keyboards live or to perform a great deal of textural music- this is satisfying in the studio. But the live thing is only worthwhile if it's fun. Therefore a good performance is one that rocks and that is exhausting. One where we get some bruises and aches. Again, it has to be a release. So, we now play infrequently, but we do look forward to it every time.

AC- Why has C.B. moved so much from record label to record label? Have some of them hindered the band? How did C.B. come to rest in the hands of Wax Trax?
PL- We've done records for several small independent labels. The reason that we haven't issued our own work on one label is because none of them could effectively distribute the material. Working with 3 or 4 labels allowed us to get better distribution. Also, and most important, since we like to work with different musics we need different labels that are appropriate. Sub Rosa and Dossier Records are perfect for more experimental music, and Wax Trax was an outlet for tighter rhythmic material. Another reason why we used to issue records on several labels was because we were doing a lot of recording and needed an outlet for 3 or 4 releases in a year. These days we're very slow in working and complete about 1 record of new material per year. So we needed to settle into a more stable label deal, but as usual this may change. Some of our label experiences have hindered us- Placebo Records was problematic and so was Sterile Records. Generally, however we have hindered ourselves at points. Most of the labels have been very responsible and fair.

AC- What do C.B. fans have in store for them? Any new collaborations in the near future to keep an eye out for? How about solo pieces?
PL- C.B. has broken into a few different groups now.....Joe and I continue to work on the more classical music under the name In Blind Embrace. A new CD on C'est La Mort/Rough Trade should appear next year. I'm starting a noise/guitar project (possibly solo) for Dossier in Europe and Subterranean in the states. C.B. will direct it's focus toward harder, rhythmic music. We're working on songs for the follow-up to Trudge. The material is getting increasingly noisy. Hopefully this project will be realized by Wax Trax.

AC- Besides your involvement with the Dry Lungs compilations, and Another Room Magazine appearances, where else may stray C.B. material lurk?
PL- A few years ago I used to write for Another Room, Unsound, and a couple of other independent magazines, but it became difficult like a job- too much to do. I couldn't maintain any focus. As the demands on the group intensified, the writing stopped. Dry Lungs continues. Vol. 4 should appear in the fall and I'll start soliciting stuff for vol. 5 in the next month or two.

AC- Has Dry Lungs been an important part of C.B.? Now that Placebo Records has gone out of business, what will become of the first 3 volumes? Will there be any plans to re-release them on another label?
PL- Dry Lungs has always been a separate project from C.B.- I add our tracks to the records as a sort of trademark I suppose, but no it's not important to my work with the group. I don't think volumes 1-3 will ever be reissued. Tony Victor was a decent guy, but his partner Greg was a real asshole. They kept the tapes, artwork etc. so it's all lost in their inept hands. A shame, but beyond my control.

AC- Are there any plans to perform live on the West coast? Europe?
PL- We'd like to come out to the West coast. No plans yet, but hopefully next summer if all goes well. We'll get back to Europe in December for a short tour. It's a lot easier to play Europe than America.

AC- Do the terms "industrial music," "musique concrete," and "white noise" hold any particular significance to C.B.? If so, how?
PL- Sure, those terms hold significance to us. "Industrial" is tough to figure- does it mean Skinny Puppy and Ministry, or does it mean P16d4 and Nurse With Wound ? It's about as general as "punk" or "new wave" were. When I think of industrial, I think of our early work, based on the sounds of machinery and raw sound etc. Musique Concrete is a form of music that I enjoy- the amplification and manipulation of acoustic sounds. We've done some work in this area like the song "On Eating Garbage" and various sound pieces on "Between Tides."

AC- What is the reaction C.B. normally gets to its music? Is it welcomed with open arms by the underground? What type of person do you think would enjoy C.B.? Are you popular in other countries?
PL- The reactions we get differ. We've sufficiently confused people so that some find the more classical stuff pleasing, but dislike the other stuff and vice versa. So, we've found very varied reaction, but generally I get positive feedback. I'm sure that a record like Trudge would disappoint someone expecting a follow up to Songs From the Ashes. Thus we're separating the projects to avoid such confusion. Our work is known by few people when comparing it to stuff by bands like The Smiths, Sonic Youth, Ministry, Tears for Fears, etc. So I think it still dwells in the realms of the underground here and abroad. It's all relative. I suppose our work is mainstream compared to Etant Donnes or Merzbow. There are different levels of obscurity. Really, I don't know what types of people might take to our music. I think it depends on the project at hand. The audience that found value in Trudge was surely very different from the audience that bought Songs From the Ashes.

AC- What have been some of the high and low points of C.B.? Was there ever a time when it looked as though it was all over? Has the band ever been in turmoil?
PL- Because of the very loose nature of our collaborations together, we've never come to a point where it looked as if we'd break up. Chris works on other musical projects of his own, as I do, and Joe occasionally records with other projects. But all of us maintain our main focus on C.B., so it has remained stable. There have been highs and lows of course, but no particular experiences come to mind except when Joe was in the hospital having a quadruple bypass operation.

AC- What are your favorite C.B. pieces?
PL- My favorite piece is "Dying/Reliving," the first track on the Knees and Bones album. Also I like "By the Drain" (Hog Floor mix) a lot. I like the "Silken Barb" from the Trudge CD, and "Crimes of the Body." Tracks like "The Peacock" on Songs From the Ashes and "Consecration's Will" from the Joined at the Head ep are also some favorites.

AC- Why was the song "Healing Time" remixed for the Trudge release? Which one do you like better- the original from Music for Gilded Chambers, or Trudge?
PL- We remixed it because we got some money to do a full studio mix. I like the Trudge mix much more.....Gilded Chambers was done in my home studio which is mediocre at best.

AC- In the future, when people look back on C.B., what do you think they will say about the music? How would you like to have the group remembered?
PL- This is a hard question. I'm not sure what people would say. I guess it depends on what projects they've heard- perhaps they'd say we were musical chameleons. I suppose I'd like to have the band remembered for its movement through different musics, for its schizophrenia.

AC- How soon do you think industrial music will be considered to be obsolete? When do you think it will cease to exist as a movement, or is there a movement?
PL- I think industrial music as a movement has become obsolete in a sense. I recall early Einsturzende Neubauten, TestDept., Vivenza, etc. as industrial, using the tools of industry-machinery and metals. The stuff that one normally associates with "industrial" these days is just new beat orientated dance music melded with thrash/metal. I don't see these musics in the same genre.

AC- How much unreleased C.B. will be left after the Hog Floor LP comes out? Are some of the earlier efforts by the band considered to be unfit?
PL- We have loads of unreleased stuff from 1983 and 1984 when we were doing a lot of noise onto cassette. But yes, I think most of it isn't fit to be heard. There will be a couple of CD releases of unreleased noise work from some small European labels, and Dossier will issue a CD of Body Samples including other unissued noise tracks.

AC- Is the diversity of C.B.'s music from album to album solely attributed to emotional swings of the members, or a result of diverse musical training?
PL- I think the diversity of the music stems from boredom and from our changing musical interests, as well as the different emotional swings. None of us were musically trained, but we have all played our instruments for a long time- so as we work together it's fun to experiment and move in a variety of directions. Sometimes however, the material isn't fun at all. It's sometimes very upsetting.

AC- Why did the name Controlled Bleeding stick?
PL- I guess we kept the name because after a time it gained some recognition, so it seemed foolish to change it. But the name doesn't relate to the music as it once did.

AC- What has been one of the most outlandish or unusual experiences that comes to mind since you started C.B.? Any stories or ironic mishaps?
PL- There have been many outlandish experiences, most of which I cannot discuss. Getting metal shards stuck in my eye recently was pretty uncomfortable, fighting with Chris on stage in Berlin was another. Driving 12 hrs. (directly after an 8 hr. flight to Europe) from Frankfurt airport to Milan, Italy only to find the club we were playing was a gutted out flooded concrete dump with no P.A. system-that was pretty unnerving.

AC- Could you tell us a little about the new graphic symbol being used on the recent C.B. releases?
PL- The symbol was created by Brian Shanley at Wax Trax. It has no name. It was abstracted from the cover of the Grinding Wall ep- this meaning is vague, but I've come to see it as a symbol representing unity through separation, if that makes any sense. It kind of depicts the way we work!


This interview originally appeared in Antocularis issue #1, August 1992.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shadow Project

From the remains of Christian Death, Superheroines', and Mephisto Waltz, emerges a new audio experience created by Rozz Williams. Shadow Project was formed in San Francisco in 1988 by Rozz and Eva O. (of Superheroines) to, among other things, focus on the struggle of opposing forces... namely Christianity and Satanism. In 1991 Shadow Project released their debut album, and more recently have released "Dreams for the Dying" LP. This new material from Rozz and his bandmates incorporates an early gothic sound with a slight dash of Musique Concrete. This should not come as a surprise to many people, as Rozz was behind another project, Premature Ejaculation which spawned some very memorable works influenced by traditional Musique Concrete soundforms. Photos courtesy of Cleopatra Records. Rozz/Eva photo by Iggy Vamp.


Interviews with: Rozz Williams- RW, Eva O.- EO, Paris- P, William Faith-WF, and Stevyn Grey- SG.


AC- So, what's your name?
P- My name is Paris.

AC- The whole thing... and basically all of it?
P- Yeah.

AC- Are you one of the new members, or have you been with Shadow Project the whole time?
P- I've been in for about two years.

AC- What got you into it?
P- I was a friend of Eva's, and I liked the music and they liked the way I played and it happened.

AC- Any thoughts on what it's like playing in a group like this?
P- Well actually before I joined Shadow Project, I never even knew of Christian Death or Superheroines or anything like that. So it was all new to me and I just took it from a fresh start.

AC- Kind of your first exposure to the whole scene?
P- It wasn't my first exposure to the whole scene, but it was my first exposure to playing on stage in front of an audience.

AC- How do you feel about it now that you have been doing it for a while?
P- I love it. I wouldn't do anything else.

AC- What's the worst thing that has happened to you in a club, in front of an audience?
P- Let's see... the worst thing that's happened to me while I was playing, was in New York. We did a show and... at The Pyramid, and we were doing the end of "Into the Light," and I do a solo thing at the end. The audience started clapping before the song was over and I kinda got mad. It ends on a loud note anyways, but I got a little carried away, and I knocked over all my keyboards. That was probably the most embarrassing thing, but I liked it anyway. I enjoyed knocking over my keyboards.

AC- Kind of a release thing. What's your opinion of the whole "Goth" scene? What's it like working with people who essentially are responsible for starting the scene as it's known today?
P- They're just people, and they're my friends, and I love them. I don't treat them any different than that.

AC- What's the biggest rush you get out of all this?
P- There's a couple rushes I get all throughout everything. Sometimes I get... before every show I get nervous. I get butterflies. But that could be the day before or an hour before the show, or as I'm walking onto the stage. It doesn't really make a difference. I always get that feeling. And that's a rush in itself. There's also another rush I get when I'm out there on stage doing a solo thing... nobody else on stage. I get a great rush out of that. And I get a rush when people slam dance.

AC- The phrase, "Living above the chemist" how common is that? Substance abuse and things like that in this band?
P- Okay. Out of the last four shows, two out of four of them ended up like that.

AC- There was a very heavy religious theme in a lot of the early Christian Death material. Is that present with Shadow Project?
P- Yeah, but it's... there's a lot more to it than that. It goes way beyond religion. It's about real life. Being real. Reality.

AC- What kind of reality? Is there a cohesive philosophy to the whole thing?
P- As far as Rozz' lyrics go, you'd have to ask him. But I'm sure everything you hear out of Rozz' mouth is open for interpretation, and as far as the musicians go we play what we feel and if people can't understand what we're playing then they don't understand how we feel.

AC- How does this apply to you?
P- It's something I have to do.

AC- So even if you knew nobody would ever hear you again, you'd keep doing this.
P- Oh yes.

AC- What got you started playing keyboards?
P- It's something I've always wanted to do. My mother had a piano in the house and I liked to play it. Then I found out about electronic keyboards, so I started getting into that. I conned people into buying them for me, and now I have a whole bunch of them, and I love to play them. I never want to play anything else. Except maybe the bagpipes.

AC- Solo projects. Tell me about it.
P- Okay. It's called EXP, and it's just starting out. We did one performance, it's more theatrical than musical, but I do have soundtrack stuff for it and I'm going to expand on it and make it more musical as time progresses. Right now I have a 90min. tape that I'm trying to get mixed and mastered... give demos out to people.

AC- How is it different from what you're doing now?
P- It's totally different. It's more atmospheric. It doesn't have a full band. It's always me and one other person. The one other person is always different. So, it's just me working with a lot of people.

AC- What do the letters stand for, anything in particular?
P- Experimental, or Experimentation.


AC- How do you like touring?
EO- I love it. I want to do it for the rest of my life and never have a home. That would be the best dream to come true.

AC- Any particular experiences while touring, good or bad, come to mind? Preferably good since we've already been through bad.
EO- I love New York.

AC- Any particular reason why? People... buildings?
EO- The people are great, the buildings are great, it's really just like a dream-world to me. It was really nice there. We actually ran into a lot of bad luck, but I still had a great time and I can't wait to go there again.

AC- Just as kind of a tongue-in-cheek thing, any fashion tips for would-be deathrockers?
EO- Wow... I don't know. Everybody wear dog collars so I can grab you and carry you around by your chain.

AC- How do you guys keep your white face from falling off when you're playing?
EO- I put powder over it. And I mix mine with regular stuff. I don't know. Mine comes off when you start sweating. Unless you get waterproof stuff. I don't think they make it though.

AC- Any closing comments?
EO- I was told to say something... but I guess I won't.

AC- What what what?!
EO- Oh, nothing. Let's see... any closing comments. Enjoy love.

William Faith and Stevyn Grey

AC- You guys said you came from the same background. What background is that?
WF- We were originally in a band called Mephisto Waltz. We have been for some years.

AC- What was that like? Is it any different from what you're doing now?
WF- Well, it's a completely different style of music as far as the artform itself. We were working with a person by the name of Berry who used to be in Christian Death for a while and we did a little bit of that material, a lot of his own material which is vastly different from a lot of what's going on these days. At the moment things are in limbo with him. We're not exactly sure what's been going on. He's been busy, we've been busy. It's possible that we'll work together again soon. In the meantime Stevyn and I were offered by Rozz and Eva to Join Shadow Project. We've been on tour with them in Germany previously (with Mephisto Waltz) and they expressed some interests towards Stevyn and I joining their line-up, and we have. So, we've been working with them for a while now. It's been a really great time. They're wonderful people to work with. Working with Paris and Rozz has been a really great experience, and they're all fun. The music is very powerful. Very energetic, which I like a lot.

AC- What are some of the more unusual things you have noticed about your work?
WF- An audience's interpretation of things can usually catch my interest to a massive extent. With the different bands I've been in I've gotten all kinds of different responses as to what the people think the material is supposed to be about. I've always preferred that people take their own interpretation of it because that will usually give them a little more of a personal bond with what I'm doing. Overall, it's been really interesting to hear some of the interpretations of some of the material we've been doing in different bands. Some people think I'm a complete, total Satanist. Other people think that I'm some sort of sexual deviant. It's really interesting. There's all kinds of different interpretations of what goes on. Plus the general population, you know... John Q. Public's interpretation of what's going on here is really funny. I always get a kick out of that as well. When they ask me what kind of a band I'm in and then, you know obviously saying, "Gothic Rock" or anything like that, that's when most heads sway. So when you end up trying to equate yourself to a band they understand, you end up saying something ridiculous like U2.

AC- What's your take on the whole religion thing? Does it hold any significance for you regarding what you're doing now?
WF- It's a personal thing, as far as religion goes. I don't have a religion per se'... it's my own personal beliefs more or less. However, overall it's rather involved... as far as organized religion goes, I despise organized religion to the fullest extent.
SG- I believe that everybody should do what's in their heart. Follow their heart, no matter what that is. If their conscience tells them that's what they are supposed to be doing, then they should go ahead and do it.

Rozz Williams

AC- Are you dead, physically speaking after a show?
RW- I'm... no, I'm not dead.

AC- How do you feel after a show?
RW- It all depends on the audience. If the audience is enthusiastic then I'm pretty much up and into going out. If the audience is pretty slow and just like sitting there or whatever, it kinda makes me upset because I'm putting everything that I have into what I am doing. And then I look out and see these people just standing there looking like...

AC- Fish.
RW- Right. Like that's the way they're supposed to be. "Oh, this is Gothic-Rock so I guess we're just supposed to stand around." Believe me we're not Gothic-Rock. We're beyond labeling. We do not label ourselves. We dabble in everything that interests us. I don't know... I try to keep people going, through the energy because I feel it only fair that if we're putting so much into something that we would like something back. In return, as far as audience reaction. It's all up to them, you know. But there are certain points where... I mean if someone's going to be... if the whole audience is going to be sitting down on the floor while we're playing then I will literally step off the stage with my microphone stand or anything that's handy and start breaking some heads open. Because it's like, I'm sorry, if you want to just sit... go home and listen to your records. Don't come to a show. Why bother? Why bother wasting your money? Why bother doing any of it? If you're coming to a show and the show is energetic and you're seeing something happening in front of you then get involved in it. Get involved. That's why earlier I was saying, "Wake up people!"

AC- What did you mean by that?
RW- I meant wake up. I'm so tired of seeing people standing around not looking at their own lives, at their own situation. At anything that's going on around them. People are so blinded. People are so locked in fear. They can't do anything. They're terrified of themselves. That's all I was trying to say tonight, was look at yourselves. Take a look at yourselves. Is this who you really think you are? Is this who you really feel comfortable being? If not, then be something else. If you can't be happy being something else, then kill yourself or I'll do it for you. Because there are too many people on the face of this earth. It's a waste. There is too much waste of human flesh on the face of this earth, and it's either wake up and say, "This is who I am, this is what I am going to do with myself, this is how I enjoy myself, this is my belief system, and this is how I am going to live my life." I see so many people who don't do that. They follow. They're followers. Half of the world are followers. There are not many leaders. Followers, to me are worthless. They're beyond contempt. They should be killed. If someone doesn't do it... that's why I admire certain killers. Because, somebody's gotta do it! If they don't do it themselves... you know I get these letters, "Oh, I tried to slash my wrists last week and I was listening to your record and the blood was spilling from my veins... and it was oh-so-gothic." It's like, "Okay give me your address and I'll come over. I'll slit your fucking throat. I'll do it right. I'll kill you dead, because you're worthless." You know what I mean? It's like wake up, face up to who you are, be who you are and live it or get rid of yourself. There's too many people here already.

AC- If all these people have no concept of who they are, what do you think it's going to take to "Wake them up?"
RW- I have no idea. I'm hoping that what we're doing musically will be able to open a few eyes and say, "Well, look. These people are up on stage doing this and living their lives and being who they are so possibly we can do the same thing with our own lives." You have to grow with that. You have to find that within yourself. No one can give that to you. I can't give that to anybody. A television evangelist can't give that to anybody. Bozo the Clown can't give that to anybody. You have to find within yourself who you are, and what your belief system is. Who you are going to live your life by. You should be yourself. Hopefully with our music what I would like to think... that we're doing to some extent is opening some eyes. Or opening some doors. Letting people say, "Okay, maybe I am a little insecure. Maybe I am a little fearful of what I'm doing... because I live with my parents and my parents don't like what I'm doing. I go to school, and school doesn't like what I'm doing." Fuck all that shit! You do what you need to do to live, to survive. That's what we're trying to get across in our music. Survive. Fucking be yourself. You don't have to be a person that comes up to me and looks exactly like me, or thinks exactly like me... or whatever. If you have strong convictions and you have beliefs and you are living your own life for yourself then I have a great respect for anyone who does that. I don't care what they look like, what their job is, what they do. If they have a strong conviction in what they are doing and a strong belief system in what they're doing... then all of the power to them. That's wonderful. I just get so sick of seeing followers. They're just following trends, looking at other people around them. Fuck that crap. Those people are on the list of the people that should be killed.

AC- In the years that you have been performing... you're basically one of the few people that has engendered a lot of followers. How do you feel about that? To know that what you created some time ago has had this result. RW- I don't care. I'm doing this because I believe in it. I'm not doing it to find followers. I'm not doing it to have people come and say, "Oh this is so wonderful." I'm doing it because it's what I believe in. I could care less if there was no one out there. I would do it nonetheless because I'm doing it for myself. If people get something from it, then great. That's wonderful. I have no interest in making people want to emulate or copy or follow, or be any part of that. That's of no interest to me, I don't care about that at all.

AC- What specifically are your beliefs when relating to others?
RW- The way I choose to get by in doing it is being as honest as possible about it, and laying my cards on the table. Saying, "This is who I am, this is what I am about. If you can deal with it then that's great." If I can walk into a supermarket and get respect from a person who happens to be there... I show no disrespect toward anyone. I respect everyone...

AC- Whether or not they have done you a wrong?
RW- Exactly. But, If it comes to a point of someone getting in my face and directly telling me, "I don't respect you," then I'm willing to take them out. They're useless. They're just dead flesh and I would have no second thoughts about it... killing anybody like that because I've lived so many years dealing with bullshit from people. I'm just living my life. If people can't deal with that, that's their own fucking trip. That's their own fear, that's their own insecurity. If they just leave me alone... fine. If they get in my face about it then they're going to get in some trouble about it. I will take action. I will take the closest thing at hand and break their head open.

AC- Have you had cause to do this in the past?
RW- Oh yeah. I'm sure it will happen in the future again. I kind of look forward to it, to some extent.

AC- For a long time I have been very interested in your views concerning religion. Your music tends to be very anti-religion. Are you directing your songs against Christ and God, or just towards religion in general?
RW- I believe in God. I believe in Satan. That's one of the lyrics in one of our songs, "I am Satan, I am God." To me there is no outside force. It's in me. I am God. I'm the one who creates my own life. I'm the one who deals with everything in my life. And I'm Satan in my life... if you want to put it down to terms like that. I don't particularly like using terms like that, because I don't respect organized religion.

AC- What is your definition of Morality?
RW- I don't necessarily believe in morality. Morality is what you make of it. If my morality was to go out and kill a few people... then that would be morality. There is no morality. There is no universal morality. It doesn't exist. It's the same thing as everything else. It's what you choose to make of it. I have no idea what morality is. Morality is my stealing a tip from a table at a restaurant if I feel like it. Or leaving a fifty dollar bill for a tip at a restaurant. Morality means nothing. It's just a word.

AC- You mentioned earlier there were certain killers you admired. Who and why?
RW- Charles Manson, because I admire his truthfulness and I admire his philosophy. I think that the only reason he's locked up is because he tells the truth and that's why he's in jail. Because he's a truthful person. He opens up.


Late in 1992 I was buried in work and far behind schedule with putting together the next issue of Antocularis. Because I didn't have much spare time I asked a friend, Damion Tidd to help me out. Rozz Williams' new group called Shadow Project was going to play at a venue in San Francisco and I had set up an appointment to meet them and do an interview with the band. I couldn't make the gig to do the interview in person so I asked Damion to go and do the interview for me. He readily agreed. On October 6th, 1992 Damion met up with Shadow Project and talked with the band members separately, backstage at some dive in the city. I was going to include this article in Antocularis issue #3, but I decided against it. Shortly thereafter I shut down my magazine project and this interview ended up in a file folder where it sat for the past 14 years never having been read by anyone besides myself and Damion. So, here is a lost interview with Rozz published for the first time.

Rozz Williams committed suicide on April 1st, 1998. http://www.rozznet.com/

Monday, July 03, 2006

Sleep Chamber

Sleep Chamber is the creation of John Zewizz, a man who has mixed Industrial music with dark mystical themes and lustful, sexual overtones. His material can be disturbing and powerfully erotic at the same time, a BDSM fetish soundtrack containing forbidden carnal pleasures. Not surprisingly this has resulted in some controversy being directed at Sleep Chamber and triggered some legal hassles for John. Recently I had an opportunity to interview John about Sleep Chamber and his side project, Women of the SS. Photography by Amy Nitrate.


AC- Please tell us when and how Sleep Chamber came into existence.
JZ- In 1982 Sleep Chamber waz born. It waz a combination of my frustration in alternative musick and an obsession with my own sexual identity.

AC- Are there any other projects you are involved in besides Sleep Chamber and Women of the SS?
JZ- That's about it for now. I waz interested with other projects (Cult Ov the Womb, Hideous in Strength), but I had no time. Sleep Chamber takes up 100% ov my time. If I had any extra time after that, I sleep.

AC- What is your place in Women of the SS? What do you contribute to that project?
JZ- Women of the SS iz sort ov a solo project, it usually does not involve a band or any traditional stereotypical type ov musick. It involves Women on vocal or spoken word, while I create a soundtrack type ov musical scene. It's always moody, I have a good time working on the musick. There are no limitations az far az what I have to accomplish... I just like it lusty.

AC- Are there any similarities between Sleep Chamber and Women of the SS?
JZ- Sometimes Women of the SS ideas cross over into Sleep Chamber, but Sleep Chamber never crosses over to Women of the SS. Sleep Chamber iz usually rhythm structured or ritualistic. Women of the SS iz usually atmospheric soundtrack musick with a Woman's spoken words laced throughout, almost like a story or play.

AC- Do you allow the Women of the SS members to come up with their own spoken word material, or do you control that aspect as well as the musical side?
JZ- I write the spoken word pieces for the Women of the SS tracks. I think that way it maintains a certain style. I'm open to ideas with the girls... but I usually already have something in mind for theze tracks. The musickal style iz also my own. It's usually violin and synth tracks overlaid. Nothing too complicated.

AC- You mentioned that you likeWomen of the SS material to be particularly lusty. What viewpoint is this lust coming from? For example, is it Women toward Men, Women toward Women, etc.?
JZ- It iz usually Woman to Woman. On occasion it's them to me, or a woman addressing a man.

AC- When did you start Women of the SS?
JZ- I think it waz in 1985. Around the same time az "Submit to Desire" waz released.

AC- I would like to know, what are some areas of subject matter you like to explore with Sleep Chamber?
JZ- My personal favorite subject ov interest iz the Female. I'm very private about it, I feel it's a very personal issue. I take it very seriously, it's not just sex. To me it's much more complicated than that. Sexuality iz not a simple thing, it's very detailed and complex. Obviously Sleep Chamber musick iz saturated in sexuality, I guess it just leaks out. Sleep Chamber iz an exhibit of my personality, it's more about me than about sexuality (though sexuality does play a major role in my musick).

AC- Sleep Chamber's music explores many of the dark aspects of sex, and sexual relations. Why?
JZ- Like I said Sleep Chamber iz about me, the insight involved deals with my obsessions and curiosities. When I explore a sexual situation or obsession, it somehow naturally materializes in the concept of Sleep Chamber musick. In the musick I don't "sing" about theze subjects. I try to create an atmosphere or mood, where the words are more conceived than interpreted.

AC- In your opinion, is sex a tool to use to dominate or to liberate others?
JZ- Sex can obviously and iz obviously used az a tool, though I avoid that. Alot of people mis-interpret Sleep Chamber az a sexually exploitative band. I am not interested in dominating or liberating others' sexuality, my interests and accomplishments are totally personal. I've said this before, sexuality iz not a "fad" or "style" for me. It iz part ov who I am, not who I want to be. I'm not really interested in anyone's sexuality, unless of course I'm involved with her.

AC- What has been your response to those who believe your work is purely sex-exploitative?
JZ- Well, at first my reaction waz that ov frustration. But people are generally simple-minded. I also understand how the public thinks, on a very surface level. The only thing that kums to mind to them when you mention "sex" iz intercourse. I think it's natural to be frustrated with your efforts if some or most misinterpret or do not understand... but you start to understand yourself more. And you understand their stupidity...You have to be able to be somewhat critical ov your own work to be able to sit back and see it clearly. If you think that everything you do iz great... you are an idiot. Even the best have shitty days. And no one or anything iz ever perfect.

AC- How does the creative process unfold for the construction of Sleep Chamber's material? Who else contributes to this process?
JZ- The musick never starts the same. I don't have one same style ov writing, composing, or arranging ov musick. The easiest and probably most used style ov constructing Sleep Chamber musick starts with the rhythm ov the percussion, then the bass, then the vocals. After that the guitar and keyboards are arranged and processed. It seems that there iz a different line-up for each recording project... it just works out that way.

AC- Sleep Chamber's other focus seems to be upon the Satanic. Has Sleep Chamber been pegged by some as being Satanic? If so, how do you respond to this?
JZ- There are Satanic overtones and ideas. Though peoples' version ov what Satanic iz and what I visualize are completely different. And what "Satanic" iz interpreted az in general iz again questionable.

AC- What do you think the "general" idea of Satanism is compared to that of your own?
JZ- I think 90% ov the population have this idea that Satanism iz a group ov subversives in black robes and hoods on their knees to a goat with a pitchfork. I think they see the devil az having red shiny skin, a pointed tail, and horns. Not to forget the pitchfork. The typical image instilled in us az fear, when we are young. Az in the dark ages, which we are still in, the forced belief waz if you do not believe in "my" god you are against him... the social style ov elevating oneself while defaming others. My idea of Satanism iz that ov enchanting, esoteric, spellbinding, reversal ov values and traditions, Kaos az a means ov protection, and an individual system ov conversity.

AC- Where is Sleep Chamber's place in the Industrial scene? How do you think Sleep Chamber relates to Industrial culture?
JZ- People and critics in the rock "scene" hate us, people in the "Industrial" scene hate us. We have never really been accepted in a "scene." So we have accepted our outlaw type of image, not being able to fit into a "scene" or keep people in that scene happy. I don't find it rewarding to be unaccepted in the musick scene in general. You are not reviewed in magazines, you are not worthy ov airplay, etc... this all costs you time and money invested into something people are going out ov their way to ignore. I do not intentionally try to shock or offend people. The image and musick iz presented az I see it. I am in control and some people hate that.

AC- I am surprised that you feel people who listen to Industrial music dislike your work. I have found much of your material to be very true to the original Industrial concept. Why do you think this "hate," or unacceptance of your work has been directed toward Sleep Chamber?
JZ- I don't think they "hate" the work az much az they hate the impact or concept ov Sleep Chamber. I think that however simple SC seems at times, it still instinctively causes one to examine their values or opinion. In some cases your morals. SC iz not "party" musick so what iz it? It's not meant for loud, fast dancing... "but the topics, words, and ideas make me think... so I guess this musick causes me to examine my values... this musick makes me think! I hate that!..." Some people "hate" it when they react instinctively to something someone else iz controlling. I guess they feel either "out ov control" or they do not trust instinct... or they are afraid ov what they might react to, that iz, really their true feelings. I mean the musick on the surface might be cool sounding, or interesting, or unique, or original... or whatever, but what it holds inside iz quite "different" or intentional. It might open doors you may not want opened. It might change your mind. It might make you think az an individual. You might be made to stand on your own and speak for yourself. You may even realize how alone we all are here... but it's only musick... right?

AC- Would you tell us about your incident with the Department of the Treasury confiscating some of your mail? I'd like to know how it began, how you reacted at first, and if it was ever resolved.
JZ- It seems that the U.S. post office haz sometimes little to do but open other peoples' mail. This iz how this situation arose. They opened a package out ov curiosity because, #1 it waz addressed to Sleep Chamber, the rest iz history... after they saw a sexually orientated photograph (a cassette cover), they figured I waz a pervert that needed to be taught a lesson. It seems that after that initial incident, I must have been put on a computer. All my mail kumming or going waz being opened and seized. The "Spellbondage" album waz seized in Japan. The "Warm Leatherette" 45 with picture sleeve waz seized twice in Canada and confiscated. I slowed down business for a year and the heat sort ov cooled down. Today they have seemed to lay off.

AC- This cassette cover in question was something that I assume you had no control over. It was something the Staaltape record label of the Netherlands was considering for use with some of your releases, correct? How did Staaltape react to this situation?
JZ- Yes, it waz the Staaltape. The people at Staaltape just kept quiet. I don't know if this situation scared them off. I have done nothing with them since. And have had no communication with them since.

AC- In light of that incident, how do you feel about others deciding what you can and cannot see or possess?
JZ- Up until that incident, I really had little experience with others controlling my musick or ideas. I waz really offended that some idiot could have say or control over my ideas. It's an unbearable invasion of your freedom. How can someone or someone's opinion be in control over your freedom, your freedom ov conception, a concept that harms no one. The part that makes me so crazy about it all iz that the U.S. Customs agent told me that I could not import "in" anything that might be considered obscene. He then informed me just what waz considered "obscene." Basically anything that showed naked bodies. I mentioned stores selling Playboy, Penthouse, etc... video rental stores that stock X-rated video, etc. He informed me that waz all okay because it waz already in the country. I mean... what the fuck, that monopoly! They want to control what kums and goes... so that they can charge fines, taxes, etc.?

AC- How do you think this relates to the censorship that is currently taking place in some aspects of the music industry?
JZ- What iz taking place now in the musick industry iz a gradual process. In ten years the laws will be so detailed, the artist will have hiz/her head up their ass trying "not to be creative," but to be a machine that iz dictated by public demand and corporate influence... like today but much worse! Censorship iz not all on high levels of control. It happens on smaller levels like radio stations and magazine reviews. Everybody practices some sort ov level ov control. But you have to know the difference between control and censorship.

AC- I think that much of the censorship directed towards music misses the target. It's really amusing that the corporate record labels deal with such a high level of censorship control, over groups who are harmless to the masses at large... when in the underground of music there are a few groups who could really be genuine threats to impressionable people. You'd think censors would be paying more attention to the underground, but they don't. Why do you think this is?
JZ- Like you said, the targets are bigger, have more money, and are ov no real threat. So the censorship iz a power play ov control and exploitation towards those who can afford to "pay" the game. You can make a better example ov someone that's a big target. If you are not famous no one cares what happens to you. Most ov the people in the "big" musick market are playing a censorship game. They do it intentionally. To be censored... iz the easiest way to draw attention. I guess you could almost call it "Satanic"... the public will buy something the government wants to control, or does not want you to hear. Government and religion are somewhat identical in control and dominance... don't you think? They both greed for the power ov control. Both wanting to control and censor but not to be controlled or censored. And most importantly... not to be held responsible!

AC- Let's take it one step further. Censorship of music is a result of people "passing the buck" toward the artist(s) who have created music which was thought to influence people to harm themselves or others. It's the fear-reaction that something may happen as a result of listening to a particular record by a particular group. Do you agree with this theory?
JZ- Well, that's really a difficult question. That situation iz more detailed than the question. It reflects morals, responsibility, intention, liability, influence, corruption, and to say the least, judgement. The audience iz your biggest liability... some bigger artists have insurance (money). But just because you have money does this mean you are responsible and those without money are not responsible? It's so hard to say... but I am a responsible person at heart. But how can you be responsible for a person who iz a timebomb waiting to go off, or someone who "misinterprets" you, your message, and everything in hiz/her life in general? Does it kum down to burden ov proof? Or an in depth investigation to responsibility? It's complicated. But with all power kums consequence and responsibility... if not, we are only politicians ov our opinions and artforms.
So, I guess I would (believe it or not) sway more to the argument ov being somewhat responsible for your power ov influence. Not for the sake ov blame, but for the moral ov responsibility. In one way it's too easy to say I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE, and it's too easy not to be responsible. But if you are really "in control" you should be aware ov consequence. If not you are an ignorant fool and have learned nothing ov what power you might have gained. Theory: What is your message? Iz it clear? Directed to whom? Personal or public message? Why?
I hate to see restrictions on free forms ov creativity, but the misuse or corruption ov creativity must... be allowed. This iz so fucking complicated. Who then makes the rules? We have to allow the wrong, so to protect the right, because we can trust no one's only opinion. It can get so complicated, we question our (and we must) own intuition. The major part ov creativity iz responsibility... like a child you create. You are responsible, right? And az we see in reality, some are ignorant and reject their own responsibility. Out ov ignorance. To create iz a powerful gift. Be concerned with your power ov influence. Az the gods did to protect their magickal secrets and seals. With all power kums corruption and exploitation. Reserve your self-righteousness because it iz ov no use. It remains an opinion in this battle. If you have power... respect it, learn from it, direct it, CONTROL IT! Because ignorance ov your own power ov influence iz stupidity.


This interview was originally scheduled to be included in Antocularis issue #3 April, 1993 however it was never published and this is the first time it has seen the light of day.

Throughout the first half of the 1990s Sleep Chamber continued to grow in popularity and notoriety. Unfortunately for John in 1996 he was implicated in a murder investigation. He was eventually cleared in the case, but the toll from this incident and a growing drug addiction caused John to fade from view. In 2002 a Boston newspaper interviewed John about Sleep Chamber, the murder case, and his battle with drug addiction. It's a good read so check it out. http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/music/cellars/documents/02257161.htm

Sunday, July 02, 2006

John Gullak

"Why Johnny Ticks" graphite on paper by John Gullak.

For almost a decade, KPFA radio in Berkeley has aired a program called No Other Radio Network. John Gullak, the host of No Other Radio Network broadcasts over the air every Tuesday night at midnight. Experimental electronic and Industrial music from local bay area artists, as well as from all over the world can be heard. The show usually lasts for an hour and a half, and doesn't disappoint listeners' expectations for supplying the audio-unusual. John has had an interesting past. During the punk scene in the late 70s, he played base for the group, The Mutants. In the early 1980s he produced his own publication, Another Room Magazine, which featured artists involved in many underground scenes, as well as pop culture. Throughout the years, John has maintained his artistic focus by experimenting with the human anatomy in very detailed pencil drawings- some of which are featured in the debut issue of Cyanosis Magazine. John plans to continue with No Other Radio, and in the future, he hopes to produce a series of compilation albums of industrial/experimental music via Subterranean Records in San Francisco. John spoke with me at the KPFA studios one evening during the No Other Radio show.


AC- how long have you been doing the NO OTHER RADIO NETWORK program on KPFA?
JG- Well, the show started in 1982. Back then it was every other week and actually was on at a different time as well. I forget when it was- it's been switched around quite a bit. So it was on every other week and it was just called "No Other Radio." Then in 1985 I got weekly slots and that's when I came up with the "Network" idea. The reason I did that was it's a lot of work putting together the shows because there's a lot of music to listen to and trying to get it all compiled with what I'm going to do. Usually it takes close to twelve hours to put it together. Maybe not that much now though. Anyways, I used to put twelve hours into putting a show together. I realized that I just couldn't put that much time into each individual show, plus actually doing it over the air, so I figured I'd call up the network and get other people together to help doing the show. Brian Ladd and Julie Frith were doing Radio Object. They'd send tapes in and I'd play some of their shows. Steve Iverson would do a show like once a month or so to help break it up and give me a rest. I think all of this made the show more diverse. Now Eldon's been helping out a lot, and that's really good.

AC- I spoke with Eldon about a week or two ago and he had mentioned that you had started out working in a factory in Oakland playing tapes over a P.A. system. Would you tell us about that?
JG- Eldon's talking about these events we did called "public hearings." They were put on in conjunction with Another Room Magazine, and we did three of them. Basically it was real simple. We just put loudspeakers on the roof of the warehouse and solicited tapes through the magazine for people to send them in to broadcast out into the public on a certain date to go along with the environmental sounds. The first one that we did was probably in 1980, and we got around eighty tapes. The second one we got close to 200 tapes, and the third one about the same amount came in. The last one was held on Halloween at midnight. Right around that time Charles Armoconian from KPFA had an opening for a show. At that time there was a very popular show in Holland called the Home Tapers Show. I've forgotten the person's name who ran it. Charles thought it might be good to get something like that. He was familiar with the public hearings-

AC- So you were the man for the job.
JG- Yeah, at the time. I already had a network of people who were doing home recordings and it was amazing to get those tapes at that point. To know there were that many people out there doing stuff. They didn't have any way to get their music heard. I mean, the college stations wouldn't play them because they were too wild- too way out for that and everything. So that's where I got the name for the show no other radio, it's because there's no other radio that'll do it.

AC- If you can remember, how many people would show up to the public hearings?
JG- Well, they lasted for half a day and we'd start around six in the morning. The first hearing only drew in maybe a couple dozen people. Next time throughout the day fifty people showed up. The last one on Halloween turned into a party. For that occasion we didn't broadcast off the roof, we put the speakers back in a railroad spur so you had to walk back there at night where these sounds were coming out of nowhere. That was nice.

AC- Did you ever have anyone from a record company show up and check it out- some kind of a scout or anything like that?
JG- Oh no, nothing like that.

AC- Just mostly your friends?
JG- Yeah and mostly the artists that were involved. Other people came by. Curious about what was going on. It was intended for the surrounding neighborhood. In fact, at the second public hearing, the police were called and they came in and told us to shut it down. The classic story behind it was, across the street from where we were doing the sound piece, a metal salvage yard was dropping metal into railroad cars. It was so loud that the police had to come inside to talk to us and tell us to turn down the music. We were disturbing the neighborhood but we couldn't even talk because the people across the street were making so much noise. It was great.

AC- How would you categorize the music featured on No Other Radio?
JG- Well there's a wide variety. The easiest pigeon hole I'd say is experimental. Then again nothing is really that experimental anymore. I mean there's so many people doing so many different things that you run out of things to do. When it first started out with people cutting tapes up and putting them back together- that was real experimental. It's still being done, but you'd call it cut up music, or Musique Concrete. Maybe Difficult music or.... I don't know. In the KPFA folio, No Other Radio is listed as "the underground of the underground."

AC- By playing music submitted to you, do you think the show has helped any of them to gain success or notoriety?
JG- I don't think there is any tape I've played that people have become famous from, or been discovered through the show. However the show has been one of the first places to play a lot of artists. One of the first shows to really concentrate and feature certain artists. When the show started out we played mostly cassettes. It was all cassette music, but a lot of those people that we originally played on cassette are now being played off of CD's. They've followed through with the progression and become successful with their material. I do honestly feel that having their music played on the show did give them encouragement to continue. I think it's an important show in that sense.

AC- What are your future plans for No Other Radio?
JG- Nothing (laughs). The only thing I can think of is we've talked about doing syndication and possibly having Subterranean Records do a series of compilation albums.

AC- Have you released any compilation albums in the past?
JG- No, just the audio Another Room Magazine tapes. A lot of those people I got in touch with because of the radio show. Those are the only releases at this point.

AC- In the future you will be putting some out?
JG- Well, Steve Tupper at Subterranean said that he would like to do that and I've already asked certain artists to put stuff together for that, but it's going to be a while because he has such a backlog of things to do.

AC- What kind of reaction does No Other Radio get from listeners?
JG- It depends. There's a lot of different people so it's hard to get some kind of general response. The type of reaction I like to get from people is, I like to get them hooked. I try to play things that if they're switching channels it'll stop them and make them listen for at least a few minutes. Hopefully even longer because they might think they're in between stations not knowing what's going on. Maybe it'll just make them stop and think about what they actually do listen to, and get the idea that there are other options available. I think that most people who listen to it think it's just horrible.

AC- How do you go about previewing the music you might put into a show?
JG- I listen to tapes, not so much anymore, but I used to listen to tapes all the time. You get so many tapes and you only have so many hours in the day to listen to stuff. I'd listen to it at work doing construction and that would kill two birds with one stone. I would get lots of funny reactions from the people I worked with.

AC- What types of "funny reactions"?
JG- Pretty much anything you can imagine. The funniest thing that happened once was, I was working in a basement listening to a tape, and the owner of the house came down just really freaked out because he could hear the tape from upstairs and he couldn't figure out what it was. He seriously thought that his boiler was acting up.


This interview originally appeared in Antocularis issue #2, January 1993. John continued the interview in a second session with Darin De Stefano at a cafe in Oakland, which was featured in the debut issue of Cyanosis. John has since moved on from hosting No Other Radio Network on KPFA. The show however is still on air every Tuesday at midnight. For more information about No Other Radio on KPFA please visit:
http://kpfa.org/nootherradionetwork/ and http://nootherradio.blogspot.com/

Saturday, July 01, 2006

More NoMeansNo Live

Friday, June 30, 2006



Unpublished photos of NoMeansNo performing live at the River Theater in Guerneville, Ca. NoMeansNo played here in the SF Bay Area often and I took these shots of the band in the late 1980s. Yet again this is another group I never got around to interviewing which I regret. Anyway some of these are excellent action shots of NoMeansNo band members. For more information about the band go check out http://www.nomeanswhatever.com/

More NoMeansNo pics tomorrow. Dig it.