Geniuser

The poignant darkness within music can sometimes be thrillingly beautiful. The power within the shadows can transcend imagination, time, and space. Some listeners love depressing lyrics or themes while others may just love the dark image or style of the group. When The Jesus And Mary Chain sang '€œI'€™m happy when it rains'€¦'€, many listeners felt a connection to this psychological phenomenon. In essence, misery truly loves company. Music is a magical art form in which people can discover joy within sadness. Michael Allen, formerly of The Wolfgang Press and Rema Rema, explores this beautiful darkness in his new group, GENIUSER.

The Wolfgang Press was unlike any contemporary music group. They utilized multiple influences to create a magnificently unique sound that transcended categorization. Signed to 4AD, the band'€™s early albums ('€œStanding Up Straight'€ & '€œThe Burden Of Mules'€) were insanely bleak. Lead singer, Michael Allen sounded as if he was literally being dragged to hell. Allen'€™s deep baritone voice was an unlikely driver for any pop group. The wisdom that resonated thru the songs helped to create their exquisite music. Similar to Mark E. Smith, Allen'€™s performance was respected regardless if his voice. Eventually, the lyrics, the intelligence, the passion, and the music made listeners appreciate his inimitable vocal tone. His vocals became more tuned and soulful with every changing album. Influences of soul music slid into the '€œBirdWoodCage'€ LP. When their very successful '€œQueer'€ LP was released, the soul music was intertwined with electronic rhythms and Manchester rave culture. Their classic cover of '€œMama Told Me Not Come'€ displayed their ironic, intelligent wit over thick grooves. Their clever topics and lyrics led to multiple interpretations and their music set them apart from the throwaway bands of that time period. Their final LP, '€œFunky Little Demons'€ was an overlooked masterpiece that displayed the Press honing their sound to an English Soul / Blues style. Excellent tracks like '€œPeople Say'€, '€œChains'€, and '€œShe'€™s So Soft'€ varied in styles, but were linked by the group'€™s cool passion. Years later, every album by The Wolfgang Press is completely unique and magnificently timeless. Like fine wines, Michael Allen'€™s music gets better with age.

After The Wolfgang Press disbanded, many years passed before fans heard new music from any of the members. Andrew Grey released his solo album '€œHomegrown'€ under the moniker Limehouse Outlaw. Lead singer / songwriter, Michael Allen did contribute vocals / lyrics on Limehouse Outlaw'€™s album, but their cult-like fan base yearned for more music. The use of Johnny Cash'€™s vocal sample did excite fans with glimpse of a possible new direction. Unfortunately, years after the album was released, Grey and Allen were missing in action within the music world.

After more than a decade, Michael Allen returned in 2005 with another unique musical contribution named GENIUSER. As always, Allen'€™s new project a complete separate entity from his past work. Geniuser consists of Giuseppe De Bellis and Michael Allen. Hailing from Italy and known for his collaborations with The Orb, Giuseppe De Bellis has released a myriad of music under various names. Drug maestros, The Orb lent them their studio and the magic was ignited. Released on Phisteria Records, '€œMud Black'€ by Geniuser possessed a moody darkness, esoteric lyricism, and an emotional intensity. Allen has not created music this dark since the days of '€œStanding Up Straight'€. Actual songs exist within the darkness. The opening track, '€œUntie My Hands'€ introduces the complicated emotions which lay deep within this album. Tapping into his deep emotional core, Allen sings, '€œ'€¦Untie my hands / Untie my heart / So I can hold again'€¦'€ The mixture of beauty and sadness become the perfect introduction to this expressively complicated album. In the '€œYou Can Lose It'€, the pounding of the thick electronic bass becomes essential like a pumping heart. Allen'€™s thick vocal styles are accentuated by his imaginative lyrics. '€œ'€¦You can lose it / You can fall'€¦'€, Allen sings with a sharply blunt style. '€œThis Is What I Know'€ and '€œThese Times'€ also have Allen using his deep vocal tone to create a unique sound and dark atmosphere within the loose pop structure. The final track, '€œUtero'€ uses a rich, electronic rhythm for Michael to show us the door to leave the album. '€œ'€¦Inside is warm'€¦'€, Allen repeatedly sings, providing multi-interpretations. The '€œMud Black'€ LP by GENIUSER may go unnoticed, but the few who find this gem will be musically rich.

Art is usually not fully appreciated until the artist is gone. Even though Rema Rema and The Wolfgang Press have been relegated to the past, Michael Allen'€™s creativity is shining within the darkness. A new appreciation for Allen'€™s work has grown too. 4AD released the '€œEverything Is Beautiful'€ compilation and just released The Wolfgang Press'€™s debut album, '€œThe Burden Of Mules'€ for the first time on CD. Fans can look to the past and finally appreciate The Wolfgang Press. Others are beginning to appreciate Allen'€™s current collaboration with Giuseppe De Bellis. '€œMud Black'€ by GENIUSER satisfies fans of Allen'€™s past work, but continues his exciting musical evolution. Allen has settled down with his wife and family, but the creativity still flows through his veins. Strange and intelligent, Michael Allen will continue to surprise us within the mud black of darkness.

T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€ MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œToo much to mention and little of interest.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about the debut Geniuser album, '€˜Mud Black'€™ released on Phisteria Records.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œIt is an album of songs that myself and Giuseppe started work on as far back as 1999. They were ideas for songs that were meant to give a flavor of what we were up to, at that moment in time. We thought that by offering these sketches to the outside world, somebody of taste and position would be interested enough to offer us unlimited resources, so that we could complete the project. That didn'€™t happen.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the title, '€˜Mud Black'€™?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThere isn'€™t any meaning. It was more that I liked the sound of those two words when they were put together. Having said that, I suppose I was looking for something that suggested what we felt the album was about, which is dark, certainly naïve, and deliberately lo-fi. '€˜Mud Black'€™ might suggest something primal and guttural.'€
T.JONES: '€œPhisteria Records released '€˜Mud Black'€™. Why did you choose them?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThey chose us. After Giuseppe and I had finished recording the ideas, Giuseppe went back to Copenhagen to live. I think he had spoken to a couple of people and friends. He told them that he had worked on some pieces of music with myself. People got to hear it and Karsten from Phisteria must have caught wind of this and expressed an interested in wanting to put the material out.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow is this GENIUSER LP different from the previous music you have created?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œIt'€™s different simply because I was working with Giuseppe for the first time. The process, I suppose, was different in that Giuseppe initiated most, if not all, of the tracks. Then, I came along and would maybe introduce the more conventional sounds, bass, piano, and strings. I would then, add a rough vocal idea. We then arranged the track, and I recorded the final vocal.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat inspired you to write '€˜You Can Lose It'€™?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œGiuseppe started most of the tracks. What I remember about this, is that I added the bass part. What I liked about it, was that it reminded me of Can, a group to measure things by, '€˜Monster Movie'€™ in particular. I had the hypnotic nature and the rhythm of that album in the back of my mind.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite song on the '€˜Mud Black'€™ LP?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI generally like the ideas more than I like the results. But, I would say that applies to most things I do. If pressed, I would say '€˜Am I Salt?'€™'€

T.JONES: '€œWhich song took you the longest to do from conception to completion? Why?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI think it was '€˜These Times'€™, which went through several personality changes. The idea was a good one, but we couldn'€™t ever seem to get the mood right and I fear that shows.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you do many overdubs while recording? Do you use many first takes, or do you do multiple?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI'€™m not sure whether the term overdubs applies. We put a load of stuff on and then, took it off. Vocally, I sometimes use the first take. I have also been known to spend many fruitless hours trying to recreate the feel of a first badly recorded vocal or badly recorded song.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the name Geniuser? The Wolfgang Press?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThey are meaningless and open to interpretation. That is why they were chosen. Naming a project is hard and ultimately, pointless.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen creating a track, do you have a set theme or idea, or is the music created first?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œMy mind is blank. Music always comes first. From that, everything springs.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you meet Giuseppe De Bellis and decide to form Geniuser? Was there a philosophy behind it?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œWe met through a mutual friend in Copenhagen in 1991 and kept in touch. Giuseppe came over to live in London for a while and was working in The Orb studio. He asked me if I would be interested in doing some vocals on some music he had been working on. The philosophy is not to lie and not to repeat.'€

T.JONES: '€œMusically, what have you been working on? What is the next release for Geniuser, or both of you as solo artists?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œGiuseppe sends me pieces of music or beats to try and entice me to do something. We have a three songs completed as of Nov 2005 and hundreds with nothing on.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some of your favorite instruments?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œEvery instrument has potential. Nothing is blacklisted in my mind, apart from maybe the saxophone.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhy did The Wolfgang Press split up? What happened?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œWe had run our course and I think we had lost our way. I'€™m not sure which came first.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some of the main differences between The Wolfgang Press and Geniuser?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œGiuseppe is the driving force in Geniuser.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow are you creatively different from Giuseppe? The same?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œGiuseppe is very positive, open, and clear. I am negative and changeable. I like to play the game at convincing myself that I am open minded.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song / album are you most proud of?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThe most successful album for me is '€˜BirdWoodCage'€™. I like that one especially, because I feel we grew up on that album. It feels like a good mixture between dark and personal. Working with Flood was a great experience too.'€

T.JONES: '€œ'€˜Birmingham'€™ is one of my favorite songs by The Wolfgang Press. Could you expand on the meaning?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œWith most of what I write, the subject matter is not obvious. There are several reference points and deliberate contradictions. But, this song does draw from one source, the true story of the Birmingham Six. They were six Irishmen falsely accused and imprisoned for the bombing of 2 pubs in Birmingham in 1974, which killed 21 people. They were each imprisoned for, I think, 16 years before they had their sentence squashed. I'€™m not sure if they ever received an official apology.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat artists or musicians would you like to collaborate with in the future?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œGiuseppe would like to work with Brian Eno.'€

T.JONES: '€œAndrew Gray released a solo album titled '€˜Homegrown'€™ under the name, Limehouse Outlaw. You co-wrote some of the tracks (which were excellent). What do you think of the Limehouse Outlaw album?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI think it has some great moments. It is a very difficult thing to do, to write on your own. Maintaining the drive and the focus is, I imagine, the hardest part.'€

T.JONES: '€œAndrew Gray worked on the Geniuser album too. Was working with Andrew this time different from the past because of the involvement of De Bellis?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œNot really. Andrew and I have a very good relationship. We understand and know each other'€™s abilities and strengths. We are able to tell each other when we think something is a load of bollocks.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did The Wolfgang Press get involved with 4AD?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œRema Rema was one of the first signings to 4AD, I think in 1980. It was an odd as Rema Rema had split by the time we signed the contract. I have been involved with them from then on up until 1995.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did 4AD treat you? Would you work with them again?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThey were very patient with us and gave us room to blossom. They also allowed us complete artistic control, which was something we felt was very important. It is very unlikely, but if the terms were right, if I felt that they believed in what we are doing, and I liked what they had to say, then maybe.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow do you feel about 4AD as a label?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œAs a label, I think there are few to rival it. Ivo was very clear and resolute in his beliefs. His desire and passion to create something special and unique with every release, was remarkable.'€

T.JONES: '€œWould you ever sign to a major label?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI'€™ve never been asked, so I couldn'€™t say.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe album '€˜Queer'€™ by The Wolfgang Press has several drug references. Were there many drugs around during the recording of this album? What were they? Do you still dabble in drugs these days?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThe only drugs I do are Nurofen. I was never much of a drug user, more an alcohol abuser.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe song '€˜Louis XIV'€™ is an intelligent and clever track about The Sun King. What was it about Louis that inspired you to write this song? Who is the narrator? Is it Louis?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI had recently read a book by Nancy Mitford entitled, The Sun King. I think I was also reading about the Holy Crusades. A lot of the facts and images got mixed up. I do remember that we were in a rehearsal room, playing the song, and the words came out almost word for word as they appear on the record on the first run through. Very curious. The narration shifts between Napoleon, Louis, and an undisclosed third party.'€

T.JONES: '€œAnnie Anxiety appeared on '€˜The Birdie Song'€™ and '€˜Dreams & Light'€™ (from '€˜Queer'€™). How did this collaboration happen?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œAnnie was married to Dave Curtis from Dif Juz. Myself, Dave, and Alan, who is Dave'€™s brother, used to go drinking together. So, when Dave met Annie, I was introduced. I, in fact, ended up being a witness at their wedding. So, we got to know one another very well. Annie is one of the most fantastic people I have met.'€

T.JONES: '€œNow that the dust has settled, do you ever speak to the other members of The Wolfgang Press? What do you think of them now? Will you ever reunite?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI speak to Andrew, probably once a week, and see him when I can. There was talk of reuniting for the 4AD 25th anniversary. But, we were never asked and I must say, I would not have done it.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere will your next album be released?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œWhen and if it gets completed.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite part of your live show?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œWe have never played live. I wouldn'€™t want to play live unless there was a demand for us to do that. The idea of playing to 10 people in some shit hole doesn'€™t appeal to me anymore.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think about conflict between the United States and the Middle East?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI shall allow my silence to speak for me.'€

T.JONES: '€œAbortion. Pro-choice or pro-life?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œPro-choice.'€

T.JONES: '€œEuthanasia. For or against?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œPro-choice.'€

T.JONES: '€œElizabeth Fraizer (of The Cocteau Twins) appeared on '€œRespect'€ and '€œI Am The Crime'€ by The Wolfgang Press. How is Elizabeth Fraizer'€™s creative process different than yours?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œShe can sing. I can write words. Together, we could be unstoppable.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you during September 11th, the terrorist attack on the United States? How has Europe'€™s view of America changed? What do you think?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI was working. I see the pro-war contingents'€™ support of America and the anti-war factions demonizing of America becoming more militant and subsequently polarized, which can'€™t be healthy. My thoughts are mixed. But I do really object to America thinking they have some God given right to pile in to any country to do whatever they like, under the banner of '€˜Keeping the Peace'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. When I say a name, you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said, '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜John Lennon'€™. Okay?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œOkay.'€

T.JONES: '€œPixies.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œKim.'€

T.JONES: '€œPsychic T.V.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œCage.'€

T.JONES: '€œDead Can Dance.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œLost.'€

T.JONES: '€œSlowdive.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œNosedive.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Telescopes.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œStaring at the sun.'€

T.JONES: '€œPublic Enemy.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œTruth rant.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Dandy Warhols.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThe Andy Darhols.'€

T.JONES: '€œTelevision Personalities.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œNothing.'€

T.JONES: '€œMomus.'€ MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œSusanne.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Jesus And Mary Chain.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œBig hair.'€

T.JONES: '€œPrimal Scream.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œSummer.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œFools.'€

T.JONES: '€œSpacemen 3.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œBasement Jaxx.'€

T.JONES: '€œFelt.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œDenim.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Fall.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œGenius.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Brian Jonestown Massacre.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œChurch temple.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€ MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œAss.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho have been the biggest influences?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œMy brother'€™s record collection, my mother'€™s take on life, my father'€™s beliefs, and my sister'€™s social life when I was 13 to 16 years of age.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen did you first begin making music? How old were you? How did it all begin?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI first picked up a bass guitar when I was at college with Marco Pirroni. In 1975, I was 16. Myself, Cliff, who was my best friend from school, and Marco used to go back to Marco'€™s house and listen to records and fuck around. Marco was friendly with the likes of Malcolm Maclaren, who told Marco about a group he was managing. He invited him down to take a look them. Marco asked me along. We turned up at the 100 Club in Oxford Street and watched a group called The Sex Pistols.'€

T.JONES: '€œ'€˜A Question Of Time'€™ by The Wolfgang Press is an amazing song. Throughout the years, has time been your friend or enemy?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œTime is neither. Time gets blamed for all manner of things. People are in denial about their lives and how they live them. Time comes too easily to hand as an excuse as to why they did or didn'€™t do what they should or shouldn'€™t have done.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho is Derek The Confessor?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œMe, of course.'€

T.JONES: '€œIn The Wolfgang Press song '€˜She'€™s So Soft'€™, you have a line that states, '€˜She'€™s a man'€™. Is '€˜She'€™s So Soft'€™ about a transvestite?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œNo, it is about my first-born and her mother.'€

T.JONES: '€œJah Wobble played bass on the remix for '€˜Chains'€™. How did this collaboration happen? What was it like working with him?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œWe had met a few years previous. I have been a fan of Wobble for a long time and we talked to him about producing, what was eventually to be our album '€˜Queer'€™. That never happened, but we kept in touch. So, when we were looking on our final album for people to remix tracks of their choice, Wobble'€™s name came up. He chose to remix '€˜Chains'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow have you evolved as an artist? As a musician?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI have learnt to listen. I have learnt not to play an instrument and not to write songs.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have any regrets?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œOf course. I would not believe anyone who told me any different.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe sound of The Wolfgang Press has evolved in many ways. Was this intentional or spontaneous?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThe intention was never to repeat ourselves, which is something I think we achieved.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did the cover of '€˜A Girl Like You'€™ by Tom Jones happen?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œBy complete accident. Our publisher, at the time, was asked to send some songs to Tom Jones for listening to. He had a CD sampler of various artists he had on his roster. I think he pointed Tom Jones in the direction of a Love & Rockets track. Ours was the track before or after. Tom heard our track, liked it, and got in touch. The publisher, however, took full credit for this and dined out on the story for months, as is his way.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Beatles or The Stones?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œThe Kinks.'€

T.JONES: '€œSpectrum or Spiritualized?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI don'€™t know of Spectrum.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some of your favorite films?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œ'€˜Fitzcaraldo'€™, '€˜Casablanca'€™, and '€˜The Loudest Whisper'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œThese days, what is a typical day like for you?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI get up at 6:30 am and try not to wake the children. I go to work, come home, and try not to shout at the children. Go to bed.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some major misconceptions do you think people have of you or Geniuser?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI don'€™t believe anyone gives us a second thought.'€

T.JONES: '€œAre you in a romantic relationship these days? How has touring, recording, and the rock and roll lifestyle affected relationships?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI am with the mother of my four children. It'€™s the other way round for me. Relationships affect everything I do, thankfully.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do they think about your music?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œBoth my parents have passed away many years ago. One sadness that I have is that my mother never got to meet Tom Jones, as she was a big fan.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the best thing about living in Europe?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œLiving in London. Knowing you are surrounded by so much history is very moving. I also love the dirt and noise.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe song '€˜Christianity'€™ is a powerful track about not accepting religion. Were you raised Catholic? Do you believe in God? Would you consider yourself a spiritual person? Please expand on the inspiration for the song.'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI was brought up by a father who was a socialist and held no religious beliefs. One of the most important lessons I learnt from him was that I am as relevant as anybody else, no matter what their station. At the same time, I was told to treat everyone with respect until they gave you reason to withdraw that. Respect does not have to be earned. I believe Jesus, fact or fiction, was a good man. Sadly, religion has very little to do with anything he did or said. The motivation for the song comes from my thoughts on religions intolerance of anything different, which is one step away from hate. Religion is a very closed cult.'€

T.JONES: '€œAre there any unreleased Wolfgang Press tracks that you think should have been released?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œNo.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the biggest mistake you have made in your career?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œNot working harder.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen you pass away, would you like to be buried or cremated?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI haven'€™t decided. Both my parents were cremated and that'€™s what I thought I wanted. But recently, my sister died and she was buried. I like the idea that we all know where she is and we can visit her.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat would you want on your epitaph (your gravestone)?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œBollocks.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some future releases that fans should look out for?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œIf we are fortunate enough to complete the required number of decent songs and someone is willing to put those songs out. Then, that would be a future release to look out for.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is next for you?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œTo work with The Breeders.'€

T.JONES: '€œAny final words?'€
MICHAEL ALLEN: '€œI'€™m searching for the words that haven'€™t been spoken.'€

Thank you Michael Allen!!!

Interview by Todd E. Jones
toddejones@yahoo.com


NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.
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Severed Heads

Is Severed Heads '€œIndustrial'€ music? Severed Heads creates When people think of '€˜Industrial'€™ music, they think of angry middle-aged men with spikes on their backs in the middle of a mosh pit (doing that stomp-dance where they pound the air). Severed Heads creates somewhat unclassifiable music that can still be categorized to certain genres. The harsh name of the band does have an '€œindustrial'€ ring. The Australian group mainly creates electronic based music. Since they were originally signed to Nettwerk Records in the United States (Volition in Australia), Severed Heads were labeled as Industrial. In contrast to the term, Tom Ellard'€™s voice is very melodic and somewhat soft. Their electronic melodies do not have the aggressive or sinister style of typical Industrial music. At the core, Severed Heads are rooted in electronic pop music. When they do not adhere to their pop song structure, they travel to bizarre musical territory. Although Severed Heads may not be industrial music, the band is industrially productive! Tom Ellard is the one remaining member of the group. Even though musicians came and went throughout the decades, Tom Ellard has been the band'€™s driving creative force. Rooted in electronic music and innovators of the video synthesizer, Severed Heads has a hugely diverse catalogue. In reality, they create bizarre electronic pop music. One of their most respected songs, '€œDead Eyes Opened'€ does not have sung vocals. Instead, the group uses vocal samples of Edgar Lustgarten, reading from '€œDeath on the Crumbles'€ on a BBC Radio Show. Their most well-known album, '€œRotund For Success'€ featured the tracks '€œBig Car'€, '€œGreater Reward'€, and '€œAll Saints Day'€. Their bountiful discography also includes albums such as '€œCome Visit The Big Bigot'€, '€œBad Mood Guy'€, and '€œGigapus'€. With the help of Stephen R. Jones, their use of videos became a staple during their live performances. To fully experience Severed Heads, both eyes and ears were open.

Sevcom Communications used www.sevcom.com to give fans a taste of the music before their purchase. Ellard was one of the innovators in utilizing the Internet for his independent record label. The albums, '€œGigapus'€ and '€œHaul Ass'€ (both by Severed Heads) were self-released without neglecting quality. Ellard also released three albums with a side project collaboration named, Co Kla Coma. After a hiatus of several years, Ellard returned to electronic pop music with the 2002 album, '€œOp'€. Originally titled, '€œLap Top Pop'€, the unique '€œOp'€ album underwent a plethora of upgrades. Each upgraded version included new songs and brand new instrumental tracks.

Tom Ellard is proud of his new 2006 Severed Heads release titled, '€œUnder Gail Succubus'€. Originally released in a metal DVD case, the packaging for '€œUnder Gail Succubus'€ presented multiple problems. Eventually, the plastic cases became the acceptable and accessible format. As an album, '€œUnder Gail Succubus'€ consists of electronic pop songs mixed with the modern vibe created in the classic Severed Heads style. The opening track, '€œSnuck'€ includes a bouncy rhythm and a guitar-sounding melody. Ellard'€™s signature vocal style also remains. Other standout cuts include '€œThree Doors Down'€, '€œInside The Girl'€, and '€œPsychic Squirt'€. A second disc, '€œOver Barbara Island'€ consists of 8 instrumental tracks recorded live on June 21st 2006.

Tom Ellard and Severed Heads is the epitome of independent music. He is the record label. As a label, Sevcom sells the music directly manufactured by the musicians without the typical middle management of record labels. Not only does Ellard have creative control, he has complete control of Severed Heads. Every single song is in the hands of Ellard. If Industrial Music consists of avant-garde music that is electronic in nature, the music of Severed Heads may sometimes be classified using that term. As a group, Severed Heads transcends just one genre. As a word, '€œIndustrial'€ means something relating to the output of industry. In the music industry, Tom Ellard and Severed Heads have complete control of their musical output. Since Ellard has complete control, Severed Heads can be anything'€¦ beyond one genre. Industrially, Tom Ellard is essential to the independent music industry.


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œJust finished another year of teaching. I worked at 3 universities, teaching music and video. Also, casual at a science museum, where I conduct a variety of seminar teaching for high schools and further education. Once you get past a certain age, you want to pass on the knowledge. Been a crazy year for releases too. 2 albums and 2 small books, with more coming.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œThe new Severed Heads album, '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™ was just released. Tell us about the LP.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œThe title is very old, from an 80'€™s booklet I created. That and the cover art should tip people off that it hearkens back to an older musical period. I feel that I'€™ve used enough different styles now that I'€™m not trapped in a genre. '€˜Gail'€™ can re-visit some of the old Severed Heads motifs, without too much cloying nostalgia.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œIncluded in the '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™ package, is a 2nd disc titled, '€˜Over Barbara Island'€™. Tell us about this.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œThat was a live show which was supposed to take place outside, in a kind of demented tiki lounge atmosphere. It was a benefit for The National Art School. As it turned out, the rain forced the whole show inside a bleak white gallery space, where it sounded quite horrible. It'€™s my idea of cocktail music, which I don'€™t really comprehend. So, it came out kind of mangled. As it uses some sampled sounds, I made it a free disc. Free in, free out.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the titles, '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™ and '€˜Over Barbara Island'€™?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œAs always, the titles are really open to interpretation. A succubus is a female demon that seduces men. I guess this one wears a badge, like they do at McDonalds. '€˜Hi! I'€™m Gail. How would you like your soul eaten today? Fries with that?'€™ The other one, '€˜Over Barbara Island'€™ is the yang to the yin. As well as being, '€˜Over Barbara Island'€™ is a different girl. The island had to do with the visuals for the live show, which were lurid 3-D island landscapes.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHow is '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™ album different from your previous album, '€˜Op'€™? Why?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIt'€™s completely different to '€˜Op'€™. '€˜Op'€™ is a cartoon book, funny papers. It'€™s a series of cheaply drawn, brightly coloured cartoon books. The idea with '€˜Op'€™ was not to make albums, or make an album that somehow never got finished. So, it was informal. '€˜Gail'€™ is a real album, formal and sensible. I think of '€˜Gail'€™ as something that gets kept, whereas '€˜Op'€™ would be used like a magazine or a newspaper.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œFor the '€˜Op'€™ album, you released upgrades or different versions. Will you do the same for '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œ'€˜Gail'€™ is '€˜Gail'€™, finished. '€˜Op'€™ could suddenly start up again at any moment, sometimes free and sometimes pay. I would like to make an '€˜Op'€™ that gets handed out like pamphlets. If a track on '€˜Op 1'€™ were done again later on '€˜Op 3'€™, no one would complain.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œFavorite song on the '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œNot favorite, but the first one from which others grew was '€˜Lo Real'€™. Unlike '€˜Op'€™, this album took years. Some things took 4 years. Not every day, but a bit every month. '€˜Lo Real'€™ was one that just kept on needing a bit more work, a bit more. There are all kinds of things that happen in the background and you might not even notice them.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhich song took you the longest to do from conception to completion on '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™? Why?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œ'€˜Taking Out The Surfing Bird'€™ took the longest. It was first released in 2004 as a different track on a limited edition CD. Then, 2 more movements grew onto that over the years. Some tracks have holes in them that have interesting shapes. It can take time to find the right piece.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHow would you describe the music of Severed Heads? How would you say the sound of Severed Heads has evolved?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œThere'€™s the same mind set as back in 1978 when we first started making sounds. I'€™m always amused by those who would say, '€˜Oh yes they used to be Industrial, but now it'€™s just pop rubbish.'€™ They fail to see that we have a proud tradition of pop rubbish going back to the very start. One thing that is evolving is the technology. I refuse to use tape recorders any more because the nostalgia exceeds the results. I don'€™t give a damn about analogue anything. We used it when it was appropriate. Now it'€™s nostalgia, which I loathe.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the story of '€˜Lap Top Pop'€™? What happened?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell, '€˜Op'€™ did start as '€˜Lap Top Pop'€™, until all my laptops got stolen. I was writing the album on United Airlines flights. You can usually get quite a lot done on a Sydney to San Francisco haul, although sporadically. But the machines were taken by the usual junkie through the window, and the album with it. So I thought, '€˜All permanence is illusionary'€™, and settled down to do what the fates were directing me to do, which was do an album that was never finished. The first edition of '€˜Op'€™ was such a disaster that I knew I was onto something good.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhere did you meet Stephen R. Jones? How did you eventually form the group?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œStephen R. Jones showed up at our first gig in 1980. Later in 83, he built a video synthesizer, which used control voltages. As the band, at that stage, used the same voltages, he asked that we play live and send him some signal to drive the machine. That was the '€˜Live At Metro'€™ gig that has been on a few DVDs and now on YouTube. A few years later, he joined in. It was five piece band for a while there.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhy did you two go your separate ways?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell, he wanted to get on with '€˜grown up'€™ stuff. You get to a certain age and you think, '€˜being in a band is retarded. I want to do something a bit more sophisticated'€™. It was hard at first because I had to take over the video production, but he had taught me well enough that I knew that I sucked and eventually got better at it. Like most of the ex band people, we see each other a lot. Except the dead ones, I only see them every so often.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat inspired the song, '€˜Snuck'€™? Tell us about that track.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œ'€˜Snuck'€™ is not a real word. It'€™s '€˜sneaked'€™. The song is a list of words that don'€™t fit together. Some are things my girlfriend says when she is asleep. The chorus about Target just entered my head one day. Some passing spirit just flies down and puts whole lyrics in there. My bad lyrics are those that I can'€™t quite remember what the spirit said. As for the music, it was part of a jam I was enjoying with friends, re-mangled.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œOn the track, '€˜Psychic Squirt'€™, you use lyrics from an older song. What was this all about?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIt'€™s a bit of '€˜Do You Know The Way To San Jose'€™ by Burt Bacharach. Listen to the original by The Carpenters and then, look at the city now. See how it changed, like a mutant growth. The track sings about mutant growths. Everything around the world now seems to be a mutation that has grown too big like the props from '€˜Lost In Space'€™. The world is over ripe.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œThe packaging for '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™ is unique. Tell us about it.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œBloody metal boxes! It was my stupid idea to sell it in metal boxes. They weigh so much that the postage eats up the income from the bloody album. And then, they get bent in the mail. So, eventually I hope everybody will start buying the transparent plastic version. But, it'€™s part of trying to make people dissatisfied with vaporous mp3 downloads. The most interesting thing is actually the serial number that is embedded in the album. Upload it to a torrent and I have your name and address instantly.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œOn the different parts of tracks for '€˜Bruise Vienna'€™, you use acoustic guitars and drums. Although Severed Heads mainly creates electronic music, will you use more acoustic instruments in future recordings?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI really have no idea. I'€™m working on a vinyl box set at the moment of our ancient stuff. It'€™s funny listening to the old guitar tracks. Endearing, cute. It is almost tempting to take up the hurdy gurdy.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œI love the '€˜Op'€™ album. I especially love the songs, '€˜Symptom Symphony'€™, '€˜Out On The Mental Ranges'€™, and '€˜Hippie Bonfire'€™. Will the first version of '€˜Op'€™ be available again?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell it always is. If you have '€˜Op 2'€™ you have the cards. The cards unlock the old album for download. But really, it went hideously wrong. Something to do with mixing tracks on United Airlines flights made it brittle.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œTell us about the purpose of '€˜Op 1.2'€™. These are completely different tracks, all instrumental. Why was this done?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell, '€˜Op 1'€™ went crazy. The mix was all wrong, and about 100 copies didn'€™t even play in people'€™s CD players, due to the video track. So, I had to do it again. But in the meantime, I put out a stop gap. You got to download it for free, if you had '€˜Op 1'€™. It was a concession.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œYou stated that '€˜Op 1.2'€™ was much more enjoyable to create. Why?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œBecause it wrote itself. I just went to bed and the next morning, it was sitting there all done. The spirits did it.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhich pop music album do you like more, '€˜Op'€™ or '€˜Op2'€™?

TOM ELLARD: '€œ'€˜Op1.2'€™ for sure. Some albums are effortless. '€˜Co Klo Pop'€™ was effortless. Actually, all the Co Kla Coma albums were lots of fun. '€˜Op 2.5'€™ was less so, but I still enjoyed it very much. Others had me in tears. '€˜Haul Ass'€™ is a record of a very difficult, poverty stricken time. This forthcoming box set is being complete misery, trying to listen to stuff from 1977 with an open mind.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWas it difficult to start Sevcom?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell, in 1988, Sevcom was just an idea. It acknowledged that labels were the new bands. But it grew slowly, based on printed booklets and then Otto Ruiter started up a BBS which I took over in 1992. We got a web page up in 1994, '€˜Dead Eyes Opened'€™ was one of the first Internet tracks ever available for download. Then, Stephen M. Jones just walked in and made it all work. He already knew how to run the web thing with SDF, and helped me get the plumbing connected and the heater turned on.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œSevered Heads and Sevcom were one of the innovators of independent music on the Internet. Is Sevcom a success? What has been the key to the success?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWhat we did back in the old days of the net doesn'€™t really matter anymore. Sure, we were first at most of it. But, that all gets forgotten in the rush for the next 15 minute wonder. All permanence is illusionary. Fame is a random process. Now, everybody has a Myspace. So, who cares if sevcom made the first MP2 album? Everybody has so many MP3s; they can'€™t bother even playing them.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œOn the sleeve for '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™, you wrote, '€˜Please share your own music, not mine.'€™ Still, you put a substantial amount of your music on the Sevcom website. How have you been hurt by the Internet?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI only think it'€™s worth reminding that people make records. They are not spawned from the air by record labels. Somebody cared a lot about that track you'€™re uploading. Steal it, but just remember, it'€™s somebody, not some thing. I give a great deal, yet somehow, only that which is stolen is appreciated.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œDo you do many overdubs while recording?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œBack when I went from 4 track to 16 track tape recorders, the temptation was to go hog sh*t crazy. And I did on some of those Nettwerk LPs. Now, when you can have as many as you like, I try to use as few as possible. Like Brian Eno says, '€˜Don'€™t overdub, use a treatment'€™.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is your opinion of Pro-Tools?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œHated it until I started teaching it. That'€™s when I had to hone all the techniques. Now, I respect it, but there are so many dumb things in there, like real time bounce downs that don'€™t live in the 21st century. I love FL Studio. It'€™s a big ball of confusion. You can'€™t teach that. It just has to infect you. I use FL Studio a lot.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œOut of the myriad of albums you have released, which one are you most proud of? Why?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI think there are a few good bits on all of them, and some utter crap. I really am sad that the Co Kla Coma albums didn'€™t get more attention. I have to say I got bored with the old ones over the years. Some kid will be raving about something I did in 1980 something and I'€™ll be wondering if the rest of my life was just a waste of their time.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhen writing and creating songs, what is the creative process like?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œSpirits. At least it is something that visits and leads you by the hand and shows you what to do. It'€™s sometimes odd that I'€™m teaching, as I think that creativity can'€™t be taught. But I hope I can lead the right ones to the muse and they will have that bright, vibrant, visitation. Composing is being able to see a jigsaw in all the pieces magically assembling themselves.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHow are the fans responding to this new album, '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œThey'€™re wondering why it'€™s taking so long to get their damn metal box in the mail.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhere did you find the samples for the classic Severed Heads song, '€˜Dead Eyes Opened'€™?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œAha! It'€™s question #1. It'€™s Edgar Lustgarten and his TV show '€˜Scales of Justice'€™. We have a whole area devoted to this question. Look at www.severed-heads.co.uk/faq.html.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œMany people have remixed your songs. Which ones did you enjoy the most?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI heard that Orbital did '€˜We Have Come To Bless The House'€™, but decided not to go with it. That would have been interesting. The Clifford'€™s come up with some pretty funny versions.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œFans of Severed Heads are known as Cliffords. They made an album called, '€˜I Can'€™t Believe It'€™s Not Lard'€™, comprised of Severed Heads covers. Which song do you like the most?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIf I said I liked one over the others, it would hurt some feelings. But, I guess the weirder, the better. Some people can mock me while adding some extra something. Just mocking is not so interesting.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œThe Sevcom web page features exhibits where fellow Clifford'€™s can have their own little page. Tell us about the exhibits on Sevcom.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell that was more Stephen M Jones'€™ idea. He tends to be more egalitarian than me. I just wanted to have a few exhibits by selected artists. Stephen thought it better to have open access, which is part of the SDF ethos. So, anyone can have 50Mb. That may seem small in these days when Google gives you 1 GB. But, we don'€™t use you as an advertising billboard.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat are the Sevcom Music Servers?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œThe original idea was to supply 8 hours of uncomfortable muzak to fill a working day. I only managed 4 hours before it got snapped up by the film company. They were working on a similar mood and the match was good. Actually, it'€™s less muzak than the idea of '€˜piped music'€™ that'€™s fascinating. I am slowly working towards a number 5.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHow did you get involved with the soundtrack for the film, '€˜The Illustrated Family Doctor'€™?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell, Kriv, the director, was working on a script and needed a music worker that understood the bleak humour of the film. I was lucky that I'€™d been in the same headspace for a while. So, I could supply and expand existing material. We got along well and I have done a few TVC soundtracks for him since. Doing the soundtrack was relatively easy. It would have been hard if it was a heart warming tale of two young kids or something vile like that. Winning the ARIA award for the music was just plain weird.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the name, Severed Heads?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIt was a joke. We were called Mr. & Mrs. No Smoking Sign, because that was really ugly. Then, we wanted to fool people that we were Industrial and it worked. Severed Heads was a really dumb name, so that'€™s what stuck. Forever. I hate it by the way.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhen creating a track, do you have a set theme or idea first or the music first?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œUsually, it'€™s a notion. On '€˜Op 2.5'€™, there'€™s a track called, '€˜We Choose Moon'€™. Although I used the Kennedy speech, in that, I actually went looking for it, knowing that the track was going to be about moons. Then, I wrote music about moons. Then, the video, about moons. It was a notion that stuck in my head and had then to be made real. Same with pilots. Moons and pilots are part of the uncanny, which energizes music.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat was the recording process like for '€˜Under Gail Succubus'€™? How was it different from other times?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œMy entire life I wanted the one box that did music. I used to sketch the plans for one, back when I had tape recorders, mixers, keyboards, et cetera, eating up the living space. It focuses everything to the one point. Now, I have one machine, the computer, which disappears when you start using it. It'€™s perfect. Apart from that, creating music is mostly brain work, fitting puzzles together, following the flow. I hope to make it entirely mental one day.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œThe song, '€˜Kittens'€™ (from '€˜Op'€™) talks about a father nailing a kid to the carpet. What is '€˜Kittens'€™ about?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œHe'€™s nailing a rent boy to the carpet. Daddy is a homosexual pervert murderer. '€˜La la la'€™. I'€™m sorry, but these songs have meanings that don'€™t really connect up sensibly. It'€™s word music, not poetry.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œMusically, what else have you been working on?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell, the live album, '€˜Viva! Heads!'€™ came out the UK and I am pretty happy with that, as it really does update our live recordings to the present day. That'€™s what Severed Heads sounds like live, not like the recordings that were about before. It'€™s a fun album too. And there'€™s at least one box set of vinyl underway.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat are some of your favorite instruments?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI like instruments that disappear, ones that become direct pipes from brain to sound. That means I really don'€™t like instruments at all, I guess. Perhaps, I should have played the guitar. Colin Newman once told me that was the least intrusive noise device. Synthesisers are less physical though, so you don'€™t have technique.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œAround what time in your career did you start financially surviving form music?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIn the late 80'€™s, pretty early on. Sometimes, I was even wealthy, which was a feature of those times. I have actually done really well out of music over the years, which puzzles me greatly. I think other people found me useful and steered me this way and that, like a tractor. And as they fed themselves, I got fed too. I never really sat down and thought about how to make money, like I do now. But musical careers are brighter than they are long.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œDo you think that success and credibility are mutually exclusive?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWhen I won the best soundtrack ARIA award for the film music, I was deprived of that illusion. It'€™s too easy to say, '€˜I'€™m too weird no one will even credit me.'€™ Then, suddenly you win a mainstream award and you have to ask yourself if perhaps, just perhaps, the people who win awards might earn them somehow. Not always, but that win questioned my presumptions about mainstream versus alternative music.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat song are you most proud of?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIt depends how drunk I am. Honestly, it varies with the mood. I like those that please and annoy the most. '€˜Gashing The Old Mae West'€™ is useful for teaching. It might be the one that lasts longest in music history.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHow has the Video Synthesizer affected your career?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI have two slipped discs from carrying it up stairs. It broke the ice at parties. It gave journalists something to write about, when they sounded bored writing an article. You could use that to liven them up. Now, it gives me something to impress children. Look kids, analogue.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œOne of my all time favorite Severed Heads tracks is '€˜Sevs In Space'€™. What inspired this song?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œLet me try very hard to be helpful. After writing this track, I think it comes from Altman'€™s film '€˜Brewster McCloud'€™, which I saw sometime and then stored in the mind pit. The lyrics are about Icarus, but they are again, not supposed to be a narrative. The music has a parrot in it. If you try to find sense, you'€™ll be disappointed.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWho are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI guess I am out of the loop these days. Thinking about what'€™s going on right now, I feel a foreigner. I did a lot of this rehashed style some while ago and can'€™t pretend to be still thrilled. Not that no one is doing my thing, but I am not doing theirs. These kinds of offers come at odd moments and I can'€™t presume to predict what is next. I am sure I'€™ll be puzzled.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHow did you get the deal with LTM Records to re-release '€˜Rotund For Success'€™?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œJames Nice wrote to me one day and said that I was a fat sh*t. He actually said, '€˜So you hate record companies do you?'€™ I got all embarrassed and felt I should really be more cooperative with somebody who took the time to crack my shell. I think it'€™s simply part of his charter, as we were loosely associated with Factory Australia, back I the day. LTM does Factory'€™s mopping up, and so we are appropriate to include.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œOriginally, you were on Nettwerk Records. How did this deal come into fruition? Why did it end?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œTo get Skinny Puppy on Ink Records in the UK, Nettwerk had to take one of Ink'€™s bands. Actually, Ink wanted Moev, whether Nettwerk really wanted us is another matter. I guess we were okay until Nettwerk finally came out of the closet and admitted they were a frock rock label. I look bad in a frock. Nettwerk'€™s tastes are easily defined by money, and frock rock beats cookie monster any day.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œYou were in a side project called Co Kla Coma. How did this start? Will there be any more albums?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œCo Kla Coma was simply a collaboration between me and two performance guys from Oklahoma. They pretty much just wanted a mention on the records, although I'€™d get samples mailed down, guitar riffs, Christian speeches, all kinds of odd bits. Co Kla Coma had a stage patter about sonic weaponry, a coma tone that induced sleep. We have a film half finished. Later on, one of them moved to Santa Cruz and we could collaborate a bit more. The other guy is now a full time nutter.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œDo you believe in God? Do you believe in a certain religion?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWell, I allow metaphysical ideas. There are patterns in life that are not logical yet often described. I can believe in things, but more in line with Jung than the Pope. There'€™s a big difference between religion, which is social, and belief which is personal. As for God, if you define it, you limit it. Seeing as the definition is that it'€™s unlimited, God is a paradox.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œYou also earn a living besides music. What else do you do?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI say, '€˜yes'€™ really fast and before you know it, I'€™m already raking the leaves and cleaning the gutters. I do a lot of part time jobs, at one point this year I had 7. I'€™m an arts & education workaholic. Books also earn more than music.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat do you think of rave culture? Has rave culture embraced Severed Heads?'€


TOM ELLARD: '€œNo, we looked suspiciously at each other. I didn'€™t like their neo-hippy Mandelbrot bullsh*t. They didn'€™t like our lack of BPM. For a so called liberating movement, they sure had a lot of rules. Rave culture was too confining for Severed Heads.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat are the three best things about living in Australia?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWhen the bombing starts, we'€™ll die second last, before New Zealand. It'€™s still possible to occasionally find something here that wasn'€™t designed in America, although that'€™s getting rare. Sometimes, the most interesting people to meet are the ones who don'€™t want to live in the center.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat are the three worst things about living in Australia?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIt'€™s an island with a small town mentality, a world suburb. The people with fire in their belly leave here. Then, come back when they run out of ideas. Many good things are too far away, too expensive and too hard to get.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat LPs have you been listening to during the last couple of days?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œMagma'€™s '€˜Mëkanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh'€™ because a friend said that I should hear some Magma. A lot of Residents stuff, old and new, trying to work out just where I started to dislike it. A recording of Kraftwerk, playing live as a guitar rock band in 1971, which reminds me a bit of Popol Vuh, which I like.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite part of your live show?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œWhen, it'€™s thankfully over and I did not make a complete fool of myself.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHow has your live show evolved?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIt all fits in tiny little boxes that are easy to carry. It can draw upon a lot of history. It'€™s more likely to be at a gallery than a hall. It'€™s now going back to one off shows, like the very early ones, than hits and memories rock gigs. The idea of a live show becomes perhaps a misnomer.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œAbortion. Pro-choice or pro-life?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI think that moles and bunions have a right to life as do all sundry lumps of flesh and will picket the nearest shoe shop to stop this dreadful flesh trade.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œEuthanasia. For or against?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œI think we should keep people on endless palliative care even after they die. I mean, it'€™s selfish that corpses should not offer the opportunity for moral righteousness. I hope that soon we can dig up old bodies and give them the care they deserve. Of course, we should still kill felons. The State has to exercise power in both directions.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œSevered Heads does not have a MySpace page. What is your opinion on MySpace?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œThere was a Severed Heads page, but after some trouble, I got it removed. Frankly, I don'€™t like crap, even if it'€™s popular. I don'€™t like information Nazis, like News Corporation pretending to be hip. Also, I don'€™t like having friends, which I have never met. And if that cuts my sales, well bite me.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œWord association. When I say a name, you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said, '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜John Lennon'€™. Okay?'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œFish.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œTelevision Personalities.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œThis Has Been A Reg Grundy Production.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œBoxcar.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œZippy The Pinhead.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œHappy Mondays.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œBaggy Trousers.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œKool Keith.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œL. Ron Hubbard.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œFelt.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œFat and wolves.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œMomus.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œIce cream.'€


TODD E. JONES: '€œEminem.'€

TOM ELLARD: '€œMelts in your mouth, not your hand.'€


TODD E. JON
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Astronautalis

The line between hip-hop and alternative rock music has completely dissolved. A myriad of musicians have surprised their fans by experimenting with unexpected styles. Mos Def started in the hip-hop group Black Star, but explored new terrain with his rock and roll band, Blackjack Johnson. Atmosphere began creating hardcore indie rap music, but now performs with a live band on stage. Lauryn Hill once rapped in The Fugees, but her last solo album consisted of her singing over an acoustic guitar. Andre 3000 (of Outkast), Cee-Lo (from Goodie Mob), Ice-T, and Guru are just a few hip-hop emcees who have experimented with live instrumentation as they strayed from a '€œtypical'€ hip-hop sound. Some artists sustain their hip-hop sound while others travel unexpected musical directions. Regardless of success or failure, music growth from brave experimentation creates an exciting gamble that enforces the spirit of hip-hop culture.

Astronautalis is a white emcee from Florida whose musical growth is marked by incredible transformation. His debut album, "You & Yer Good Ideas" (released on Fighting Records) was a unique independent hip-hop album that mixed country and folk with rapping. Known for clever free styling and wild references, Astronautalis began to experiment with his sound. The young artist began to change his already unique style. He began with hip-hop dominated folk sound to an alternative indie-rock feel with a hip-hop backbone. Friend and colleague, Ben Cooper (aka Radical Face and Electric President) assisted Astronautalis with his musical journey. Creator of poignant indie rock, Radical Face was an unlikely choice for a producer of a hip-hop album. The thrill of experimentation and an unknown final result were just some beautiful aspects of creativity. As the winter of 2006 ended, Astronautalis released his sophomore album, '€œThe Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€ on Fighting Records. Although the artist and record label may cause someone to categorize this LP as a hip-hop, this Astronautalis album sounds more like indie rock. At the core of the album, hip-hop reigns. The opening track, '€œShort Term Memory Loss'€ instantly displays a new side to the artist. Some inimitable beat-boxing ignites '€œMeet Me Here Later'€. The upbeat track, '€œLost At Sea'€ is poignantly vivid with a memorable chorus. The deep, bluesy feel of '€œXmas In July'€ has a bittersweet emotion and a universal theme. A modern classic, '€œXmas In July'€ captures the feeling of gratitude for a warm place to sleep. The sing-a-long crowd participation used in the song'€™s finale adds a timeless quality to the album. '€œThe Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€ may have to grow on fans, but album sounds better with every repeated listen.

Hip-hop has the power to transcend every musical style and genre. A white guy from Florida, Astronautalis has hip-hop running through his veins as he makes unique indie rock. During the gold era of hip-hop, emcees and producers were experimenting. The innovators were not limited by categories. These hip-hop legends have walked a musical path, not knowing where it would lead them. Astronautalis is traveling on is musical odyssey. He'€™s swimming the deep ocean of music, so fans could be entertained in the dark theater of life.

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œLaundry, then, packing. Followed shortly there after, by customs, flying, and Mark Helprin'€™s '€˜Memoirs From An Antproof Case'€™. Finishing 20 hours later, in a blaze of jetlag and culture shock, I'€™ll land in Shanghai and try and pick out my brother and his bright red mohawk out of over 2 billion Chinese people.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œTell us about your sophomore album, '€˜The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€™, which was just released on Fighting Records.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œIt is my second full-length record and the first album I made in a real studio, without any real limitations about time, money, or gear. Fearing such limitless possibilities, I decided to make some self-imposed limitations to give me something to push up against. The album is a non-linear story told in 4 acts, a development of a theory, I was working on at the time. A belief that every stage of growth in our lives, be it teenage years, adulthood, parenthood, or whatever, can be broken into 4 distinct acts. It is only in the brief flash, connecting that 4th act with the 1st act of the next stage, that we really have any perfect balance and control over our lives. For 3 months, all is right with the world. Then, the world is quite good at giving us a swift kick into our new life, where we are the same lost little lambs we were when we were born. Only this time, we are lambs with facial hair, or wives, or kids, or a mortgage, and still just as lost, spending the next few years relearning how to live.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the title, '€˜The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€™?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI focused the thesis of the album on the teenage stage of my own life, growing up in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The two biggest outside influences for me, at that time, were the movie theater that I worked at and the ocean I swam in. Funny how things like that can mold you even years down the line.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œThe '€˜Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€™ album is very different from the previous music you created? Why?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œHeaven help me if I ever make the same album twice. Music should always be challenging. The day that this job becomes easy for me, is the day I should go look for a new job.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œFavorite song on the '€˜The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€™ LP?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI am very proud of '€˜Lost At Sea Part 1 & 2'€™.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhich song on the '€˜The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€™ took you the longest to complete? Why?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œ'€˜Meet Me Here Later'€™ was the longest and most frustrating to complete. I knew what that song needed to be from the minute we started work, but it never came together. Songs like that seem to be the hardest songs to write. When you have such a clear and concrete idea in your head, it can become a maddening pursuit to perfection. What finally made it on the album is, in fact, the 4th or 5th version of that song. There were some other nice versions, but none of them actually sat well on the record as a whole. This one seemed to tie so much together, once I recorded the beat-boxing.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œOne of my favorite tracks on the album is '€˜Xmas In July'€™. What inspired this song? Tell us about that track.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œThrough other musicians and touring, we became very close friends with a rapper named JD Walker and his rapper wife, Sontiago. They live in a marvelous house on top of a hill in Portland, Maine. You lose any established sense of home by touring, but for whatever reason, their house has always felt like home for us. No matter what time of year we came into Portland, it felt like Christmas. Comfortable, inviting, perfect.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œDo you do many overdubs while recording?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œYes, we build almost everything in layers and layers of overdubs. For this record, we used a tremendous amount of layers. One song included over 120 individual tracks. The majority of the recording for this record was just myself and Radical Face. There were only a few occasions when we were able to record large chunks of songs live, at once, with session musicians. When we could, we jumped at the chance.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œDo you use any first takes or do you usually do multiple?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œIf something comes out nicely on the first take, we shoot off fireworks, but it rarely does. I don'€™t mind doing hundreds of takes to make it perfect. It has to be perfect. That is why we spent a year and a half on the damn thing.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œBen Cooper (from Radical Face / Electric President) produced '€˜The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€™. How did you hook up with him? What was he like to work with?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI met Ben on my 3rd day at the job at the Pablo 9 Movie Theaters, the same theater from the album title, when I was 16 years old. We have been friends ever since. Musically, I wouldn'€™t be half the artist I am today without the guidance he gave me and the things he taught me. Everything is about process before product with him. There is no bad idea. We try everything and if it doesn'€™t work, we delete it and start over. He saw my strengths and taught me how to use them. At the same time, he pointed out many of my weaknesses and how to overcome them. I owe him damn near everything.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWill you work with Ben Cooper of Radical Face / Electric President again?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œWe have done two whole albums together. I imagine that we will always bump into each other on future creative endeavors. He lives less than a half a mile from my house. I can'€™t help but bump into him. But I doubt we will ever work on a full length record again. We have already gotten so much out of our working relationship. Neither of us would ever want to develop a creepy co-dependency like Elton John and Bernie Taupin.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWill you go back to creating straight hip-hop?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI am making a couple little EPs in the future that will be pretty standard rap songs, featuring production by Maker, Shalem B, and some others. But those tracks are more of a test or an experiment for me, not a full-fledged project. So, I guess my answer is that it is doubtful.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œHow are the fans responding to the album, '€˜The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters'€™?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œBetter than I thought they would, Great, in fact. I lost a lot of sleep thinking I was making a terrible mistake. But, that is just half the fun of the creative process and that whole artistic credibility thing, I guess. All in all, the response has been great, which is a bit surprising and very exciting.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œGary Numan? What was it that inspired the song, '€˜A Love Song For Gary Numan'€™?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œIt was a dare.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œThe cover for '€˜The Mighty Ocean and Nine Dark Theaters'€™ LP is very original and has a timeless quality. I love it. Was this cover your idea? Tell us about making the cover?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI had the idea for the album cover for as long as I had the idea for the songs. I set up the photo and got a friend of mine to push the shutter for me. Then, I spent the next month tweaking 8 layers of the same image in Photoshop until the image in my brain matched the image on my screen. Sometimes, you get lucky and things like that work out.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œThe layout for the CD/album is also very cool. I love how every song is represented by a Polaroid picture and the lyrics are on the back of each one. What inspired this idea? Was there a process for choosing each photo? Were these older photos or were the photos taken specifically for this album?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI like albums that give you something to mull over while you listen, some supplemental material to make your purchase worthwhile. With all the heavy-handed nostalgia floating around on this record, Polaroid'€™s seemed like a natural choice. Some photos, I took specifically for songs. Some, I pulled out of my archives. I knew what I wanted for each photo, pretty much but, as in all things, there are always a few happy accidents. Doing all the design work myself was quite a headache, but I am very happy with the way it all turned out.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind your name, Astronautalis?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œUrbandictionary.com defines Astronautalis as '€˜The best deep underground rapper. Known for his deep rhymes and different beats. He takes Eminem's title for best white rapper.'€™ Look out, Eminem. Urbandictionary.com says I am coming for you!'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhen creating a track, do you have a set theme or idea first, or do you start with the music?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œThe chicken or the egg?'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat was the recording process like for the new album? How was it different from other times?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI could do whatever I wanted to do on this record. As I said before, there were no limitations on gear, time, and money. This was quite a big jump for Radical Face and me. The last album was recorded in 3 weeks with one mic, in my bathroom. It was quite a nice way to make a record.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œMusically, what else have you been working on?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI just finished a split 12'€ with a great rapper from Houston named, Babel Fish. This is coming out on a German record label. Beyond that, I have been doing a lot of guest work for other artists. I did beats for Sole, vocals for a couple other rappers, and I have a series of EPs entitled '€˜DANG!'€™ where I make 7 songs in 7 days, under a specific set of rules and guidelines. One of which will be that aforementioned '€˜Rap EP'€™.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat are some of your favorite drum machines / samplers?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œ808'€™s still make my dick hard.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œOn the song, '€˜Power, Money And Influence'€™ from Guru'€™s '€˜Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures'€™ album, Talib Kweli remarks that Pro-Tools made producers lazy. Do you agree?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œSomeone should ask Mr. Kweli what made him so damn lazy. He has been making the same song for almost 10 years now and wouldn'€™t have anything to show for it if it weren'€™t for his producers! What a presumptuous thing for him to say! I personally hate Pro-Tools. It is over-priced, overrated, and counterintuitive. You can do the same thing on cheaper and better-designed platforms. However, the revolution that came from digital recording, lead by companies like Digi-Design, has changed music forever. Pro-tools didn'€™t make producers lazy. Those kinds of people would have been lazy no matter what luxuries technology afforded them. Digital recording took the power out of the studio system and made quality bedroom recording available to the masses. It is very easy now to write, record, mix, master, and distribute a record, right from your own home. You don'€™t need a label. You don'€™t need a studio. You don'€™t need a lot of money to make a great record that sounds like a great record. Without digital recording, most of the great indie music made in the last 10 years couldn'€™t have happened. We would all love to have miles of 2'€ tape to run through, but it just isn'€™t realistic. If you think that the fine people at Warner Brothers records have Mr. Kweli recording on something other than Pro-tools, you are sadly mistaken, but that don'€™t stop him from blowing smoke up our ass now, does it?'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œAround what time in your career did you start financially surviving from music?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI have been surviving for about a year now. I still haven'€™t started paying myself, just paying my bills. I don'€™t make enough money to stay at home and light cigars with dollar bills. I make enough to keep my records and clothes at my parent'€™s house, and live on tour. It is still better than a regular job. That is for damn sure.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œDo you think that success and credibility are mutually exclusive?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI sure hope not.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat song / album are you most proud of?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œMy next song, my next album.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWho are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œSmog, Midlake, Against Me, Devin The Dude, Joanna Newsom, and Young Jeezy.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWho are some producers you would like to collaborate with in the future?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œNigel Godrich, Dr. Dre, Dave Fridmann, Phil Elvrum, Organized Noise, Diamond D, and Showbiz.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œHow did you get the deal with Fighting Records?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œThey had seen me play live and heard my record through one of their A&R'€™s named, Mor Krivinsky. He had a lot of faith in me and passed that faith on to them. Now, we are all rich.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat have you been listening to in the last couple of days?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œMidlake'€™s '€˜The Trials Of Van Occupanther'€™, Radical Face'€™s '€˜Ghost'€™, '€˜To The Confusion Of Our Enemies'€™ by The Riverboat Gamblers, The four leaked tracks off the new DJ Shadow, Smog'€™s '€˜A River Ain'€™t Too Much To Love'€™, Bob Dylan'€™s '€˜Blood On The Tracks'€™, and I still can'€™t stop listening to Young Jeezy'€™s '€˜Let'€™s Get It: Thug Motivation 101'€™.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite part of your live show?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œWe have been playing around 200 shows a year for 3 years in a row. I still get surprised by some the things that come out of my mouth, for better and worse. I am a much more entertaining person on a stage, with a mic in my hand, than I am in real life.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œHow has your live show evolved?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI started out playing live shows, battling, and hosting hip-hop nights. I even went to college for theater. Live shows have always been natural for me. On stage, I can read a crowd very quickly. My show has just slowly shifted and changed over the years, reflecting what I think is a nice balance between what the audience demands and my own personal interests. Making records is the hard part for me. I get in over my head in a studio but, on stage, I am at home. I am about to embark on a month long tour with Electric President and Alias & Tarsier. I plan on putting that nice balance to the test and trying out a lot of new things in the live show.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat do you think about the current situation between The United States and the Middle East?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œAre they on tour with LCD Soundsystem?'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œAbortion. Pro-choice or pro-life?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI met a baby once. He was like totally rich, but he was cool about it you know? He didn'€™t like rub it in your face or let it go to his head or anything. I met him at this Glass Candy show in Brooklyn. He invited me to this awesome party back at some model'€™s house. We stayed up all night smoking, drinking, and talking about Nikes and post-punk. That baby was totally cool. Most babies are gay, but that one, he was cool.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œEuthanasia. For or against?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œYou mean '€˜Youthanasia'€™? I think it is a mediocre album, even for Megadeath.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is your opinion on MySpace?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œMySpace is '€˜a place for friends'€™ and a valuable tool for a musicians and date rapists.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œHas being white been an obstacle in hip-hop?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œIt hasn'€™t.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWord association. When I say a name, you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said, '€˜Public Enemy'€™, you may say '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜Chuck D'€™. Okay?'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œAtmosphere.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œTrap.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œDead Prez.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œWhitey.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œHappy Mondays.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œSimon Raymonde.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œKool Keith.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œPlastic hair.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œNecro.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œPasty.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWu-Tang Clan.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œSkydiving.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œEminem.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œNice suit.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œPublic Enemy.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œWalker.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œLittle Brother.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œSouth.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œPhife Dawg.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œD.U.I.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œMF Doom.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œKMD.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œDe La Soul.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œBK lounge.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œJimi Hendrix.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œJanis Joplin.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œSpank Rock.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œForest creatures.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œCurtis Mayfield.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œSpank Rock.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œBilly Holiday.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œMagnolia.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œGil-Scott Heron.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œCrack cocaine.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œHyphy.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWho are your biggest influences?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œMy Father, my mother, my two brothers, Ben Cooper, Mark Helprin, Smog, Calvin Johnson, Samuel Beckett, Lord Finesse, Devin The Dude, Nigel Godrich, Steve McQueen, Van Morrison, and William F. Buckley. That sounds pretty good.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the best thing about living in Florida?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œSoutherners.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the worst thing about living in Florida?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œNortherners.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œIf someone tells you that they know what they are doing or they know the right way to do things, they are lying. Everyone is just making it all up as they go along. We are all in it for the free drinks.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat are some of your favorite films?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œAnything with Steve McQueen, Michael Caine, or Rodney Dangerfield. '€˜Master and Commander'€™, '€˜Patton'€™, '€˜The Descent'€™, and all of Hayao Miyazaki'€™s movies. I really want to see '€˜ATL'€™ again.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œThese days, what is a typical day like for you?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œGenerally, I am on a stage or in the back of a van, riding to a stage. If you can'€™t find me at either of those places, I am sure I am on my laptop answering MySpace messages. Tomorrow, though, I will be on my way to China for 17 days of bliss without stages, vans, laptops, or MySpace.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat are some major misconceptions do you think people have of you?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI don'€™t know where people got this idea that I was cool. I went to school for theater and have spent a pretty good amount of money on dice for role playing games. I guess I have a pretty cool job though.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œAre you in a romantic relationship these days? Has touring, recording, and the hip-hop lifestyle affected relationships?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI was with a great girl for a while, but I am in a bad position to be anyone'€™s boyfriend. I am never home. I never write and never call. When I am home, I just work and work and work. One day, I will get tired of working on my own life/art and will want to work with someone on '€˜our life'€™. In the meantime, I am single and enjoying all the blessings and curses there in.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat do you look for in a woman?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œRight now, understanding and clean sheets.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œDid you get along with your parents? What do they think about your music?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œMy parents are my best friends. They are very big fans of my music and they are very proud of what I am doing with my life. I am lucky, very lucky to have them.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhen you die, would you like to be buried or cremated?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œBuried.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat would you want on your epitaph?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œA transcript of Rodney Dangerfield'€™s dialogue from '€˜Caddyshack'€™.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œAre there any collaborations that fans should look out for?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI am supposed to work on some songs with this great band called The pAper chAse on Kill Rock Stars. Mike Wiebe, from The Riverboat Gamblers, and I are planning to make our own version, old punk and new hip-hop. My homie, Isaiah and I have a group, in the works, called, No More Thank You. This rapper named, Bleubird and I are working on an exercise video called, '€˜Boyfriends INC'€™.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œWhat'€™s next?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œI am going to go to the store to get some milk and some cereal. It will be 17 days without either in China, so I want to stock up.'€

TODD E. JONES: '€œFinal words?'€
ASTRONAUTALIS: '€œTeach your kids to smoke.'€


THANK YOU ASTRONAUTALIS ! ! !


Interview by Todd E. Jones
toddejones@yahoo.com


NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.


WEBSITES:
Astronautalis MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/astronautalis
Astronautalis Web Site: http://www.modelcitizens.org
Fighting Records: http://www.fightingrecords.com

AUDIO:
"I'm Never Right" - ASTRONAUTALIS
http://www.fightingrecords.com/CMS/index.php?s=file_download&id=8
"Gaston Ave"- ASTRONAUTALIS
http://www.modelcitizens.org/1-gaston%20ave.mp3
"Ocean Walk"- ASTRONAUTALIS
http://www.modelcitizens.org/3-oceanwalk.mp3
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Electric President

Poignant music is rooted in emotional honesty. The heartrending songs in films have power due to the universal truth within the emotional backbone of the story. Many artists strive to create poignant music, but few succeed. When an artist succeeds in capturing a precious feeling, the music is timeless and universal. Trisomie 21, Slowdive, The Verve, The House Of Love, and Cocteau Twins are just several groups who have mastered this art. Electric President is a group with this talent. Consisting of Ben Cooper and Alex Kane, Electric President injects a subtle wit into their music. They recently released their debut album, '€œS/T'€. Recorded in a shed and a bedroom, '€œS/T'€ sounds as if it could be a soundtrack for a film by John Hughes. Ben Cooper and Alex Kane were originally in a group they called Radical Face Versus Phalex Sledgehammer. Together, Cooper and Kane have utilized their creative energy to create a new and exciting project.

Ben Cooper became a renaissance man after being raised as a boy in Jacksonville, Florida. As a writer, artist, and musician, Cooper uses various mediums to express himself. Recently, Cooper reunited with fellow musician, Alex Kane and created the duo named Electric President. Their goal was to use electronic instruments without creating an overtly electronic sound. Their debut album, '€œS/T'€ is unique collection of poignant yet enigmatic pop tunes. If John Hughes (director of The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, etc.) were making a teen flick today, one of the songs from '€œS/T'€ would probably be on the soundtrack. Released by Morr Music, '€œS/T'€ uses emotional guitar melodies and light rhythms to create music that is noticeable, but not shocking.

Ben Cooper will be one of those artists that you will hear about in the following years. If this article is the first time you heard about him, will you remember it?

T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œNot much. Just finished watching some more of '€˜Lost'€™. Good show.'€

T.JONES: '€œElectric President just released a new album, '€˜S/T'€™, Tell us about the album.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œWell, it'€™s the first record me and Alex have done under an official name. We'€™ve worked together off and on since around 2000, but finally gave the project a title. We recorded it at home, in Alex'€™s bedroom and in my tool shed. It took about 8 months. It was also the first time we'€™ve ever used computers so much in the process. That'€™s the basic overview of the record.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite song on '€˜S/T'€™?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI don'€™t have one. I'€™m much more into the idea of a complete record, where no one song is necessarily more important, so I don'€™t really pay much attention to any particular song once the record is done.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhy did you choose the name Electric President?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI was at a Christmas party, a couple years ago, having a conversation with a couple friends who I hadn'€™t seen in a while. One of them said something along the lines of '€˜eclectic resident'€™, but I thought he said electric president. We thought the name was kind of funny. We joked that one of us should use it for a band name. So, I did.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhich song on '€˜S/T'€™ took the longest to complete? Why?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI think '€˜Some Crap About The Future'€™ took the longest and saw the most changes. It was a pain in the ass to record for a number of reasons. The drums were all pitch shifted. The guitars weren'€™t sitting right at first. The drones kept getting too thick and noisy and then, proved to be the toughest to mix too. And, it originally had more sections, but it was already getting out of hand, so it was cut back to something more manageable.'€

T.JONES: '€œFor '€˜S/T'€™, you wanted to integrate computers into the process without having the LP to be an electronic record. Why? How did you accomplish this?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œWell, after listening to some records from The Books, I was really pumped to try some editing. So, I suggested to Alex that we use a bunch of computers on the record. He was into it too, so we got started. All the songs started like normal ones. I'€™d lay out some chords and get my vocals together. Then, Alex would add some bass guitar to everything. Then we'€™d start using computers to mess everything up. Splice parts out, mute and un-mute entire sections, record sections separately and edit them together, stuff like that. The drums were mostly random sounds we collected and made, knocking on walls, dropping bags, zippers, tools, scraping Styrofoam, cracking our knuckles, dropping rocks in a bucket, et cetera. I sequenced them all in Reason.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe song, '€˜Good Morning Hypocrite'€™ is one of my favorites. What inspired this song?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œIt was the first song we did for the record. I can'€™t say exactly what inspired it, other than that it was the start of the whole project. It was the guinea pig, in a lot of ways, and it provided some idea of what direction the record would go in.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe '€˜S/T'€™ album was recorded in a tool shed and a bedroom?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œYeah. We don'€™t have a recording space or anything. So, we just work wherever. Alex'€™s bedroom is more convenient, so it was used for about 80% of this record. But whenever I record at home, I work in the tool shed. It'€™s the only space I'€™ve got for playing music.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow do you feel you have evolved as an artist?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI don'€™t know. It'€™s a hard thing to gauge. I mean, it happens slowly. So, sometimes you almost don'€™t even notice until you listen back to what you were making and writing a few years before. I think I'€™m happier with the more recent stuff, and more confident in it, but that could be a state of mind as much as actual improvement. But I'€™ve definitely gotten a lot better at production and recording. We'€™re using the same crappy gear we'€™ve always used. I haven'€™t bought any new recording gear for a couple years, but everything sounds a lot more together now.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow is Electric President different from Radical Face?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œThere'€™s more collaboration in Electric President. I still write the skeletons for the songs and often have an arrangement in mind, but we do more of the writing in the same room. If I bring something from home, I leave everything pretty naked to see what happens when we work together. Sometimes, Alex will do something on bass or a synth that changes the direction of the song, which is fun. As for the Radical Face stuff, I work alone on that project. I sometimes have people play instruments on some songs, and occasionally I'€™ll get input on a section or two, usually from my little brother. But, it'€™s mostly just me holed up in the tool shed.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you meet Alex Cane and eventually form both groups?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI met Alex in 2000 in a band called Helicopter Project. The group lost their lead singer/song writer and asked if I wanted to step in. I hadn'€™t been in a band in a few years. It sounded like fun, so I said sure. We played together for maybe a year. Then, we split up because two members left for college. But, me and Alex stayed in touch after that. Eventually, we started recording together again. We'€™ve worked together, off and on, ever since.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is going on with Radical Face?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI'€™m currently recording a record under that name. I'€™ve been writing the songs for it for about a year and a half. I'€™ve been tracking since October. I hope to be done within the next couple of months. I'€™m looking forward to a break, but I'€™m really proud of it. It'€™s turning out how I hoped it would, which doesn'€™t always happen. And if all goes as planned, it should come out on Morr this August.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat other music projects are you in?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI have a project with my brother, who plays piano, called '€˜Iron Orchestra'€™. It consists of instrumental songs in a modern classical vein. We'€™ve been writing for the project for a while now. I hope to have some recordings finished by the end of the year. But, we'€™re still working out how to get the string sections performed and tracked. We are trying to find a good piano to record on. I'€™ve also been working with a bunch of friends in a noisy/trashy project called '€˜Biowulf'€™. We plan on tracking a record and doing some small bursts of touring this summer. It'€™s all talk at this point, but I think it'€™ll happen. Other than that, I'€™ve been doing production for Astronautalis for the past few years, and there'€™s a bunch of one-off projects that only happen every blue moon. Headache and Pearl Harbor, Unkle Stiltskin, et cetera.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you think success and credibility are mutually exclusive?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œIt all depends on who you ask. A lot of people have a different take on that, and their own idea of what groups should or shouldn'€™t do. A lot of people get pissed when other people suddenly know who their favorite band is. Why? I don'€™t know. Personally, I don'€™t really care. I either like the music or I don'€™t whether it'€™s successful, popular, obscure, cutting-edge, et cetera. It doesn'€™t matter very much. I'€™m not very social about what I like, so that might have something to do with it.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of the term trip-hop?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI'€™ve never known exactly what it applies to, or where it came from. So I don'€™t have much of an opinion on it. I like some musicians that get that tag, though.'€

T.JONES: '€œDescribe the overall recording process.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œDepends on which record we'€™re talking about. It changes each time. For '€˜S/T'€™, we tracked all the basics for each song pretty fast. One or two 10-hour-days were enough to get everything laid down in all but a few cases. But the drum sequencing, synth modeling, editing and rearranging sometimes went on for a month after that. It got kind of meticulous at times, but it was fun to take what was there and destroy it, or chop it into something new.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you get involved with Morr Music?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œFriends passing the music along. I gave some CDs to Astronautalis, who gave a copy to Styrofoam, who told Thomas Morr about it. Morr then check out my website and liked some of the material and asked if I wanted to put a record out on his label. I said yes, and then we negotiated everything for a while and came to an agreement we could both accept. And here we are.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song are you most proud of?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œNo particular one. I pay a lot of attention to each song during the writing and recording, but now that everything'€™s done, it'€™s just a record. No one song stands out anymore.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Do you write the music first? Or, does everything come together simultaneously?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œAll of the above. Some songs start as words, some start as music, more common. Sometimes there'€™s a theme to all the lyrics, like on '€˜S/T'€™, all the songs except one took place in some kind of made-up future, but sometimes not. It changes each time.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite sampler?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI'€™ve never owned one, so I don'€™t know.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite keyboard?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI will always have a soft spot for the Casio SK-1. But I mostly use a midi-controller and soft synths these days.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite guitar?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œIf I had the money, I'€™d get a Gibson J-45. I really like the sound and feel of those. I also like my little yard sale guitars too. So it'€™s hard to say. Electric guitars are a whole new ballgame.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think about the cover for the album?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI thought the cover was great. It was not at all what I had intended for it, but that'€™s exactly why I liked it. It was really cool to see someone else'€™s presentation. I like Jan'€™s style. It'€™s very charming.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your opinion on downloading music from the Internet?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI'€™m not against it. There are always cases where people take it to a ridiculous level, but that happens with anything.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat inspired the song, '€˜Snow On Dead Neighbors'€™?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI take a lot of walks late at night. Usually around 3 a.m. or so. Everything looks very different around then. There aren'€™t a lot of lights, few cars, very little movement. I like the way it looks and feels. That'€™s what sparked the lyrics for that one. But to be more specific: the song takes place about a hundred years the in the future. The main characters are a teenage boy and a girl robot. He thinks is his sister. They'€™re on the run from the organization that was holding his sister captive. On the way, they stumble upon this neighborhood encased in snow and ice. It looks much how a lot of neighborhoods do now, only without any people. They'€™re just wandering through it, looking in all the windows. It all sounds pretty silly when written out like that, but that'€™s how much of the record was written. A lot of songs are just stories, not necessarily a personal outlook.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite Films?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI could go on for a while here, so I'€™ll just mention some of them: The Usual Suspects, Shawshank Redemption, Seven Samurai, anything Miyazaki has done, Amelie, The Lord of the Rings movies, Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Iron Giant, Seven, anything Pixar does, Return to Oz, Braveheart, Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, Shadow of the Vampire, Trainspotting, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, L.A. Confidential, American History X, Billy Elliot, Being John Malkovich. I guess that'€™s good enough. I'€™m definitely leaving a lot out, but that'€™s always the case with lists.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the favorite part of your live show?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œNot sure yet. We haven'€™t played much of the material live at this point. We'€™re still trying to figure just how to do it. Most of the songs will likely be dismantled and played in a very different way.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere are you from? Where are you living now? What is it like?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and I live here now. It'€™s not a very busy place, but I like it for that. You mostly just work at your own pace. There isn'€™t much nightlife or anything, but I don'€™t go out very often anyway. I'€™d rather just watch a movie, or read, or whatever.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some songs that made you fall in love?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI don'€™t know. I mean, plenty of songs have had an affect on me, but I don'€™t know if I'€™ve ever fallen in love on account of one.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some artists who you would like to collaborate with in the future?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œLots of them. But it would depend on the kind of music, and when you ask me. Some names at the moment: Joanna Newsom, The Books, Sigur Ros, Max Richter, Tom Waits, Johann Johansson, some groups on Morr.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some songs that you would like to remix? How would you do it?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI'€™m not sure. I'€™ve never remixed anything before.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you during September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI was at home. At first, I didn'€™t deal with it. It took a while for it to sink in.'€

T.JONES: '€œDeath penalty '€“ for or against?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI don'€™t think I could give an adequate answer in the form of an interview. In part, it is because I usually keep my politics separate from my music or art. I don'€™t want to use them as a platform; I can'€™t help but have some views seep into the writing, but I'€™m not very outspoken in that way, but also because I feel politics and views should be discussed. Just putting out opinions in a place that you can'€™t debate them or have a conversation mostly just starts fights, which isn'€™t conducive for making a point. I definitely have a view about these things, but you'€™ll have to corner me in person for a response.'€

T.JONES: '€œAbortion '€“ pro-choice or pro-life?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œSame as above.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was your childhood like? What kind of kid were you?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI grew up in a very big family. I have nine siblings, but I'€™ve always been about the same in that I'€™ve always liked to make things. I got into drawing and painting when I was in the second grade. In middle school I started playing music and making short films with friends after school. Toward the end of high school, I got into reading and writing. But I was into a lot of physical things too. I skated until I was 19 and would probably still be skating everyday had I not hurt my back. I fell on my tailbone a few too many times, so now my back goes out. Even lifting something wrong is enough to leave me bedridden for a while, so skating is out of the question. But I miss it.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat has been in your CD player or in your tape deck recently?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œJoanna Newsom, Max Richter, a mix CD of choral compositions and Chopin piano pieces, and this old Erectus Monotone album I got from a friend.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. When I say a name, you tell me the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜Lennon'€™. Ok?'€

T.JONES: '€œMassive Attack.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œDark.'€

T.JONES: '€œTrisomie 21.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œMath.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œEngland.'€

T.JONES: '€œMorrissey.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œSmiths.'€

T.JONES: '€œSlowdive.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œNice.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Fall.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œLeaves. I know you meant the band, but I'€™m trying to stick to the '€˜first word that pops into my head'€™ guideline.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Strokes.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œGuitars.'€

T.JONES: '€œMy Bloody Valentine.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œDrones. '€œ

T.JONES: '€œThe House Of Love.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œ80s.'€

T.JONES: '€œMomus.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œUnfamiliar.'€

T.JONES: '€œFelt.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œHands.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Wolfgang Press.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œMozart.'€

T.JONES: '€œCocteau Twins.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œPretty.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Dandy Warhols.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œCampbell'€™s.'€

T.JONES: '€œPsychic T.V.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œCleo.'€

T.JONES: '€œColdcut.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œTurntable.'€

T.JONES: '€œNew Order.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œCeremony.'€

T.JONES: '€œBrian Eno.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œApollo.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œEars.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œAgain, this isn'€™t the place I can adequately discuss it. For a general statement, I'€™m not real happy with it, but it'€™s not a black and white topic.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho was the biggest influence in your life?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œMy family, hands down. They'€™ve forever and always helped me stay centered. They'€™re my favorite people.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has technology hurt music?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI don'€™t think it has. I think its changed music, but it hasn'€™t hurt it. It could only hurt it if you wanted music to stay the same, which I don'€™t. I'€™m always excited to see what else will happen with music. But I do think that people haven'€™t learned how to adjust to all the technology just yet, both in terms of how to use it to make records, and how to market and sell them as well. Everyone'€™s kind of flailing, convinced that downloading music and consumer-level recording gear will be the death of music. Music isn'€™t going anywhere. In the 80'€™s, people were saying the same thing about Midi and synthesizers, that they'€™re killing music, and that everything worth writing has already been written, etc. Music didn'€™t die, it just changed. I really don'€™t think it'€™s that big a deal now either. People just have to figure out what to do with all the options they have now, and adjust.'€

T.JONES: '€œIn The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius writes, '€˜It's my belief that history is a wheel'€¦. Rise up on my spokes if you like but don't complain when you're cast back down into the depths. Good time pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it's also our hope. The worst of time, like the best, are always passing away.'€™ What other works of art, literature, songs, or whatever helped you maintain?"
BEN COOPER: '€œBooks in general are a life-saver for me. Whenever I'€™m down, I can read and it takes my mind off of things. There'€™s not enough space in my head to feel shitty and concentrate on a story.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was your last dream you remember?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œMost of my dreams are very tense and unnerving. I'€™m sure there'€™s some psychological reason behind this, but I don'€™t know it. My last dream was no different. I dreamed that I was trying to help someone I know, but couldn'€™t.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is music lacking these days?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œIn a personal way, I wish there were more composers working now. I realize there isn'€™t much of an avenue for it outside of film soundtracks and such, but I would like to see more instrumental pieces being written and sold like other records. But overall, I think music is doing fine. I'€™m finding at least 4 or 5 new artists a year that I really like, which isn'€™t bad at all. I'€™ve changed the way I listen to music though. I try my best not to listen to music as what I would like it to be, and just listen to what it is and decide whether I enjoy it. It'€™s really easy to get caught up in a bunch of social crap and listen to music as some sort of identity-defining thing, but I'€™ve found that there'€™s very little attention paid to the music in those cases. It becomes the equivalent of deciding what you'€™re going to wear, and I like music too much to let it become that. I'€™ve never been very social about what I like, but I'€™ve become even less so lately, and I'€™ve found that I'€™m just enjoying more art in general. It'€™s nice.'€

T.JONES: '€œYou also are involved in writing and art. Tell us about your other non-music creativity.'€
BEN COOPER: '€œWell, music is kind of the last thing I got into. I'€™ve always drawn and painted, since elementary school. For the past few years, paintings have been my only source of income. When I was just out of high school, I was determined to become a writer. For a little over a year, I did nothing but write in my spare time. But my computer, which held all of my writing, completely crashed one day and all the work I hadn'€™t backed up was lost, which was pretty disheartening. So while I was working a bunch and saving up for a new computer, I needed something to do. So Alex and I started recording together again, and that'€™s when all this started. I'€™d been playing bands since middle school, and writing songs throughout the years since, but it wasn'€™t until borrowing a 4-track and recording on my days off that music really clicked. Playing live and being in bands has never been my favorite thing. I enjoyed it, but it wasn'€™t enough to make me stick with it. But when the recording thing got rolling, I was suddenly writing all the time, practicing more than I ever had, and trying to understand how to make a record. Writing and recording are by far my favorite parts of music.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some major misconceptions that people have of you?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œI don'€™t know. Locally, I mostly hang around the same people I always have. I'€™ve known a lot of my friends since elementary school, and the rest I met in high school.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is next for you?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œOnce I finish this current record and get it mastered, I'€™m gonna change gears and work on a book for a while. I'€™ve been mapping out this story for a long time, and would like to sit down and write it. I also hope to get some of the Iron Orchestra pieces recorded this year, and have been working on some short film scripts with a friend, that we plan on shooting soon. Then there'€™s the Biowulf project for summer and some touring for Electric President during fall. So it'€™s going to be a busy year, and I'€™m pretty sure I won'€™t finish all of that, but I'€™m gonna try.'€

T.JONES: '€œAny final words?'€
BEN COOPER: '€œThanks for this opportunity, Todd. And thanks for asking some different questions. This is definitely the most thorough interview yet.'€

THANK YOU ELECTRIC PRESIDENT!!!

Interview by Todd E. Jones
toddejones@yahoo.com


NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.




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