Seven Federations is the industrial brain child of Todd Ruzicka, whom is also behind the project Immune System, and he recently released his latest album, Bengamin. The album ranges in musical inferences, from the big time band swing in the title track “Bengamin“, to the futuristic “Captain Sicilano (First Federation – Italian Division)” and even the taste of a Latin mass in the interlude “Ite Missa Est“. Most of these tracks have a heavy accent on the guitar, which drives through the music, pushing it on and giving it teeth. The album was mastered at The Cage Studio, in Coventry by Martin Bowes of Attrition fame. So, with this in mind, we thought we would ask Todd a few questions about Seven Federations, the album and does he have the power of time travel…. yeah you are going to have to read on to find out.
Welcome to the Dominion of Onyx, Todd Ruzicka of Seven Federations, within the Thunderdome, though currently it seems more like an echo chamber.
Your current project is, of course Seven Federations but what was Todd up to, in the years before this project?
Since 2005, I’ve been heavily involved with my project, IMMUNE SYSTEM, which I started while I was living in the UK. IMMUNE SYSTEM was more electronic than “industrial” and I had a bit of success with the releases and with placing some tracks in indie films. But around 2018, I started feeling like I had painted myself into a corner, musically. I felt like I needed a total change and that change was SEVEN FEDERATIONS. Now, with a bit of hindsight, SEVEN FEDERATIONS doesn’t seem like such a seismic shift away from IMM SYS, but it was the shift in my mindset that I needed to feel “creative” again.
Todd, you live in North Dakota. What is the dark alternative scene like in North Dakota?
I don’t know. I don’t think it exists but, even if it did, I doubt that I’d be invited to the party. However, we are fortunate to have a really wonderful underground radio show in Fargo called Adam’s Archive on 89.1 FM. Adam, who is also a good friend of mine, plays some of the coolest and darkest music you’re likely to hear on the airwaves. Both IMMUNE SYSTEM and SEVEN FEDERATIONS get some airtime on his show and it’s been quite a help.
When did you first get caught by the industrial/electronic bug and decide this was something you wanted to try?
I think it was probably when Pretty Hate Machine came out, although I had also really become enamoured with Depeche Mode by that point. But PHM really hit me sideways. I hadn’t been exposed to super dark, harder electronic music like that. I had heard some Skinny Puppy but, honestly, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at the time. Pretty Hate Machine combined song structures that I could relate to, but used a whole different sonic palette. And then, of course, The Downward Spiral just changed the game entirely and I caught “the bug,” as you say.
Who would you say are your musical influences… the people and acts that got you into the music?
Since I’ve been a drummer for as long as I can remember, my first influence would have to be Buddy Rich. I grew up with his Swingin’ Big Band live album. But pop and rock always resonated with me more. I LOVE Billy Joel. Except for his “doo-wop” phase. (Billy Joel Doo Wop sucks.) And you’re in Australia, right? I always loved Colin Hay and Men at Work. I have to admit I also loved 80s glam rock when I was a teen and that made an imprint on me, for better or for worse. And then later, I got way into heavier music but always had a love for metal with a hint of industrial that also had a GROOVE. I think that’s important. So much of what we term “industrial” music is full of cool SOUNDS but no there’s no real SONG to speak of. You need both. And again, Trent Reznor became a hero of mine, in the way that he could marry musicality with a real knowledge of digital sounds and soundscapes.
Todd, your first album, “The Arrival”, was released in 2019 and far as I can tell, this is the first offering under the banner of Seven Federations. What inspired you to create this project?
“The Arrival” was the first record, correct. It was fairly ambitious, as it’s a concept record but not so “concept” that you can’t just enjoy the songs on their own. It’s sort of a modern gnostic storyline about drawing down the Demiurge and the events that occur with the main character. Without getting too mystical, “The Arrival” almost literally wrote itself. It really just appeared, one song at a time. And apart from that, I barely remember making it.
You have released your newest album “Bengamin” and the origin of this name is Hebrew. Why Bengamin, why a buzzard/vulture on the cover and is the buzzard, Bengamin?
Bengamin is the Buzzard of the Apocalypse, mentioned periodically in the Old Testament and referenced heavily in Revelations. He has the gift of prophecy. He can also tap dance.
The track “Bengamin” seems to have a swing/boogie feel to it. Was this intentional?
Yes. I imagined it almost as a soundtrack to some scene in a honky tonk bar somewhere on the outskirts of town.
The track “Brickface” is getting a lot of airplay. What do you feel about this track appeals to people?
I think it’s just a catchy, anthemic track that gets stuck in your head a bit. It’s sort of custom-built for an arena sing-a-long . . . in my MIND.
Overall, the album has that harder edged guitar sound to it. Is this a preferred musical element?
It is with SEVEN FEDERATIONS. If there was one thing I was going for with this project, it’s a much heavier, guitar-based sound. That’s probably the main element that separates it from IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Martin Bowes of Attrition fame, mastered the album at his Cage Studio. What was it like for you having Bowes do this for you and why did you choose Martin?
I’ve been very lucky to have had two of the biggest names in industrial music master my tracks: Martin Bowes and Jules Siefert, both in England. It’s just a sense of being in good hands with them, and knowing that they understand this style of music. And they’re both super-easy to work with. Even though they’re both big names, they are still open to suggestions from the Peanut Gallery; i.e. ME.
One has to wonder if you have a time machine, as you state that “Ite Missa Est” was recorded live in 2030, in Prague…..is there something you aren’t telling us?
Time travel has long been an interest of mine and I’ve had a fair bit of success with it.
Who do you get a kick out of listening to now?
Mostly “Yacht Rock” artists: Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Air Supply. That kind of thing.
What is in the future for Seven Federations?
Promotion of the new record, considering the next step for new music and having a long talk with myself.
Thank you for joining us in our contemplations!
Well, thank you for having me!