The artist, Dave McAnally, is better known for his Ministry/Rob Zombie inspired act, The Derision Cult but this Chicago based musician also has a far more synth based project called .SYS Machine. .SYS Machine is the darker, quieter sibling, with a far more reflective soul. December saw the release of Graceful Isolation, which features five tracks and eight remixes, all created in a collaborative manner. We spoke to Dave about these collaborations, inspirations and how life is changing.

Welcome down the hole of weirdness that is Onyx, Dave McAnally of .SYS Machine.

December 2021 saw the release of Graceful Isolation and this title came out of the fact none of your collaborators ever met up in the same room. How did you pull it all together?
With everyone having to work remotely- whether its music or in other work life- it’s probably easier now than its ever been to work remotely.  For me, it was just a matter of making a list of people I’d like to work with and then with Kim and Gabe from Microwaved (who does a remix on here) we added to that list and I started reaching out!  I’d say 80% of the people who I reached out to where into it and wanted to get involved.  The other 20% was either just schedules were too tough to work or they were tied up with other things.  So it was actually a pretty easy process to line up.  

You brought some heavy talent on the album in the form of Kimberly Kornmeier of Bow Ever Down doing the vocals on three of the tracks as well as getting the likes of Assemblage 23, Spankthenun, The Joy Thieves, Miss Suicide et al to do some rather wicked remixes. How did you lure them all onto the project?  
Kim came about because she’d done vocals on my buddy Gabe’s track Save Me earlier this year and I was really impressed and it just so happened I had some instrumental tracks I’d been tinkering on that I thought her style and approach would be really interesting for.  She was immediately on board and she’s really great to work with (she collaborates with a ton of artists so she knows how to deliver and mold what she does to the tracks). 

 I knew I wanted to do remixes, but one thing led to another talking with Kim and Gabe, and we thought of people who would bring some cool flavors to the tracks and then I just started hitting folks up.  Sys Machine isn’t a big name or anything on the scene so I wasn’t really sure what would happen as far as interest.  Nevertheless, Assemblage 23 and The Joy Thieves jumped on straight away which was awesome.   Once that happened the ball just kept rolling.  Not a whole lot of luring was involved!   I suspect with people unable to play shows last year, bandwidth was freed up which helped.  

DAVE MCANALLY – .SYS MACHINE

The Derision Cult is your original project that you have been releasing music under since 2014 and 2021 saw you drop the album Charlatans Inc. in September before Graceful Isolation. Was it your intention to stay busy or did it all evolve naturally?
It was a total natural thing for me!   For a long time, I’ve always had a few projects going at once, and these two are my big ones.  I work a lot slower than it probably seems on the surface.  I’m one of those people that’ll start an idea, leave it alone for a month or two, and come back to it and maybe it’ll get finished.  The Derision Cult tracks were marinating over the course of a year and a half and while I was working on that I was also doing things that ultimately became Graceful Isolation.  By last summer, I was really excited about both and didn’t want to just sit on them for the sake of spacing out releases so I just kept on moving along. 

 I think my output will slow down going forward as I really found myself enjoying working with people vs. being a lone wolf.  I’m happy to slow my roll and make time for other people to get involved and put more work into each release.   But there’s always various things I’ve got cooking.  I’ve got about 30 blues and acoustic jams I’ve amassed over the past 6 months that I would typically release as Jefferson Dust that are in various stages of completion that I’m always working on.  Someday maybe 10 of those will be worth sharing with the public!  Same is true for other projects. 

.SYS Machine is very different to the far more guitar driven The Derision Cult. What prompted you to pursue this more electronic sound?
Sys Machine has sort of been where all my science experiments go.  I started putting things out under that moniker that were essentially toying with new synths, drum loops or whatever.   All instrumental and not really songs in as much as they were soundscapes.  In a way, it’s really just me exploring getting better with programming and all things electronic.  Once Kim got involved, for me at least, Sys Machine stopped being a bunch of science experiments and started to congeal into something that felt a little more meaningful.  So that’s where it stands now. 

Derision Cult was and is an entirely different thing.  I’m a thrash guitar guy deep down.  Those riffs are part of my DNA going back 30+ years.  So when I started that project, I had a very deliberate idea of what I wanted it to be and sound like and I’ve been evolving on that theme ever since. 

You have spoken about how you were a heavy drinker for 25 years, then decided to give the habit up. Has that been hard to do and how has this changed your perspective on life, the music you create and the music scene?
ya know it really wasn’t!  And that kind of surprised me at how easy it was to just walk away from the booze.  I just took stock of my life and health and what path I was on and made a decision.  I think the key is actually TELLING people you’re going to stop.  Like once I told my wife and friends then it was real.   I’m really happy I did it.  I feel better, I find myself less stressed out and I have more energy  and time for things I care about– including music.  It was really just the right time for me to leave that behind.  I saw an interview with Billy Connolly where he was saying you can be wild and crazy in your 20’s and 30’s and it’s a lot of fun.  But once you get into your 40’s it starts to be a little pathetic carrying on like you’re in a frat house.  I believe that to be true. the other thing was pandemic.   

I run my own businesses and I work out of my house so it’s not like I have a job to go to or anything.  Boredom sets in and you’ll be sitting there like “fuck it, I’m not hurtin’ anybody!” and next thing you know, you’ve gone through a fifth of whiskey just watching TV or whatever.  Once that started happening, I could feel my health starting to slide.  I have had friends over the years who’ve died from things like liver failure and heart attacks and all that so I knew where this path would lead.   I read that Alan Karr book about quitting drinking and that was pretty much that.  Quitting drinking has definitely helped me live more in the moment.  I find myself with a lot more time since my weekend mornings are free, I’m motivated to go hard all day long cos that “it’s 5 o’clock somwhere!” mindset is gone. 

As far as music and art, I think it’s a lot easier to be realistic and objective.  When you’re drinking or stoned or whatever, you can think everything you’ve done is the greatest thing ever.  Not so much when you’re stone sober.  As far as the scene, the thing that really surprised me is how little drinking really is part of people’s lives. I never really noticed that before.  It might just be more evidence of how hard living I was compared to everyone else ha.   That isn’t to say they don’t drink, but especially with artists I collaborate with, it just doesn’t seem like it’s as big of a deal to them as it might have been for me.   By the way, I don’t mean any of this to come off as a “Drinking and Drugs don’t work kids!” type of rant – cos they do!  It’s fun getting hammered and wasted.  I had a great time living that life and don’t regret  that period for what it was.   But I’m definitely happier and more productive with where I’m at. 

What bands were the gateway drug into industrial music for you?
Heh, well I’m kind of weird like that.  Psalm 69 came out around the same time Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction, Metallica’s Black Album, White Zombie La Sexorcisto and Anthrax Sound of White Noise were coming out so it just fit right in with what I was into at the time.  I didn’t really think of it as a new genre or door to open.  Of all things, I happened to be a big David Bowie fan back then too and I thought Tin Machine- or more specifically their guitar player Reeves Gabrels was a badass. 

I knew of Bowie’s other gunslingers.  I’d read that Adrian Belew was doing things with Trent Reznor and NIN so that got me curious– like “hey maybe these synth people can rock too!”.  That was sort of my moment of truth.  This was maybe 93 or so right before Downward Spiral came out – then later on Bowie and NIN went on tour together and it was like the universe all made sense!   I was living in Iowa at the time and Chicago isnt’ too far so I got wind of what was all going on with Wax Trax and I’ve been into it ever since.  So I guess you could say Tin Machine-Era David Bowie was my gateway drug haha. 

Whose music do you enjoy now or blows your mind into thinking ‘I wish I had written that!’?
I listen to a ton of things across a lot of genres.  When I’m just hanging around, especially this time of year, I’m more blues and Americana.  I think the new James McMurtry album is amazing– his turn of phrase and how he crafts stories in his lyrics always blows my mind.  I don’t necessarily endeavor to write like him, but those storyteller songwriters are a master class in how to take a listener on a journey.  The Reverend Peyton’s new album Dance Songs For Hard Times is absolutely excellent.  My daughter really likes the Rev so we’re playing that around the house a lot. 

Closer to home genre-wise, this probably sounds cliche, but I really like the fusion of blues and industrial on the new Rob Zombie.  The Joy Thieves Album American Parasite is great- lot of energy on there and I have that on quite a bit.  I’m digging the new Ministry album too!  Love Jello showing up on tracks and I’m not sure if this is a popular opinion, but I think Al’s take on Search and Destroy was awesome.  There’s some “Boy I wish I thought of that” riffs on there. 

What is in store for you in the future with .SYS Machine and The Derision Cult, plus will there be more collaborations?
Yeah man!  I’m actually working on the next Derision Cult now.  Sean Payne from Cyanotic and Conformco is producing and already I feel like it’s a giant leap forward just working with him and handing the reigns over.  I really love the sci-fi/robotic feel to what he does and I’d love to fuse that with what I do.  Very early stages but I’ve got some guests in mind for tracks.  I can’t say who yet, but there’s one that if it comes together, it’ll be a total full-circle thing cos it’s such a blast from the past and a huge influence on me personally.  So that’ll be my focus for awhile bringing that to life.   

On the Sys Machine front I literally have nothing in the tank at the moment.  I’d definitely like to work with Kim again and she’s up for it.  She’s got her own album and projects and maybe in the next year we’ll be able to share music.  But I’m really happy with how Graceful Isolation came together so I’d definitely like to continue down that path!   

Thank you so much for your time!

David Lawrie is The Royal Ritual, an Englishman living in the U.S., taught music from a young age, now involved in the goth/industrial scenes as a composer and producer. He kindly spoke to us about his project, the new album, film making and what inspires him.

Welcome David Lawrie to the darkside of the rabbit hole that is Onyx. The Royal Ritual is a new project for you. What inspired you to go on this solo journey?
The last time I had performed in an industrial outfit was with my friend Chris Coreline in 2008-2009 – when we played a string of shows, starting with the inFest Festival of 2008. It was so much fun. Since that point I have been mainly writing for documentaries, doing audio post production for film, and producing EPs/albums for various independent artists under my birth name. 

Fast forward to Coldwaves 2018, where I was in the audience with Dustin Schultz who, the night before, had performed with ohGr. It made me remember how much I wanted to get back into the fold. I mentioned this to Dustin, and we started working together in 2019. With the pandemic looming, it became more of a solo project in early 2020. Ultimately Dustin contributed significantly to two songs on the debut album, but without the initial collaboration with him, I don’t think I would have pushed forwards with the project.

As the lockdown clamped down harder on us all, I continued to work on the album. The name “The Royal Ritual” came to me on a cross country road-trip, in December 2020.

I would like to talk about the two singles you have so far released. “Pews In a Pandemic” is an observation of how commercial religion can be both controlling and coersive of their flocks, then married with the music that is harsher in sound.  Can you say what roused you to write this and influenced the choice in sound?
Firstly I don’t want to be insulting with anything I write. Whilst it is probably very obvious that I am fundamentally anti religion, I do not hold hostility towards the majority of religious people. It is no secret that I am atheist (and as close to “a-deist” as can be), but I also understand that a belief in a higher power brings comfort to a great many people, and I wouldn’t want to take the comfort of belief away from so many. 

Where this breaks down, at least for me, is in the boldness of a select “holy” few who not only claim that they have a direct communication with a deity, but they can disseminate a deistic message to a congregation – a move that, to me, is a parallel with divine dictatorship.

In the decade I have spent in America, I have really seen how bizarre things can become when religion makes good business, and the social fallout from that is a topic of great inspiration in my writing.
As for the overall sound, this was not the first song I wrote for the album, and as such, it was arranged to fit in with the already fairly solid palette of the other songs that had been written.

“Empires” is the second single and a comment that many English hark back to the ‘good old days’ when the British had a huge colonial empire which was at it’s peak during the Victorian era, with the British Raj in India, the jewel in the crown. Your song writing takes on a more classical quality and evocative of something exotic, maybe even forbidden, referring to the the line ‘when I was a little girl and you were a little boy’. How did this piece come about?
I do hope that the irony and sarcasm in this song is obvious. I also hope that my exclusion of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the proclamation of “England” and not “Britain” is not dismissed as ignorance on my part.

I wouldn’t want it to be said that I am not proud to be English, because I do love the country. Whilst its history is turbulent, it is a history from which there are many lessons to be learned. I genuinely hope that as we move forward, these lessons will inform positive change.

Me being the “little girl” in this scenario harks back to mockery in the playground, where physical weakness and displays of emotion were “girlish” traits, whereas physical strength and the “stiff  upper lip” were “boyish” traits. I’m very glad we are gradually evolving past this nonsense.

The video for “Empires” is simple and yet beautifully directed by HARUKO. How was the experience making this video?
I try to separate out my different creative outlets, and HARUKO is my visual artwork pseudonym. I have been fascinated by filmmaking for many years, and in 2013, purely out of necessity, I made my first videos with just me, a camera, and some lights for the music released under my birth name. I learned a great deal very quickly, and since then I have continued to add to my equipment and skillset. That enabled me to do the first two videos for The Royal Ritual completely isolated from other people (I had some help carrying lights deep into the forest for my cover of Phildel’s “Glide Dog”).

For “Empires” I wanted to work with actors to tell a story, and I knew that I needed to put the cinematography in the hands of my good friend, and long-standing filmmaker colleague, David Diley of Scarlet View Media. He and I have worked on films for many years, with me taking care of audio post production in many of his projects. His expertise, along with his knowledge of my general vision, meant that I could focus on the direction and project management of the “Empires” video – trusting that it was being captured to a very high standard.
I have directed videos for other artists in the past, but this was the first time using actors. A full production, if you will. I am very proud of the outcome!

As an Englishman in the U.S., do you think being away from the U.K. gives you more perspective and also a different view while in the States? Kind of a stranger in two worlds so to speak.
I have always felt like an outsider, so I am used to that feeling of being a “stranger” – I think most people who work in the arts probably feel it too!

What I have found about splitting my time between the two countries is that it has opened my eyes to layers of odd logic on both sides of the pond, and it has also left me much more humble and less opinionated about subjects on which I am not well versed, as well as being more interested in learning.

Whilst I know that my transatlantic travel leaves a large carbon footprint (which I try to offset with the food I eat, minimising the waste I create etc.), I do feel that travel is key to us all understanding each other. Until you see the “other side” for yourself, you never really know how it compares to your own situation – and I think that being able to compare makes you not only more grateful for what you do have, but also more compassionate towards other people in worse positions. Experience, not hearsay, is key to progress.

You are a sound engineer and  you do musical scores for documentaries etc. Could you tell us about these and how it has influenced how you have approached creating music with Royal Ritual?
Working in audio post production/sound design for film came about almost accidentally, even though in hindsight it makes perfect sense. Using found sounds as percussive (and even melodic) elements of my music has been something I have done since studying my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Field recording is one of my favourite pastimes.

When David Diley asked me to work on the audio for his film “Of Shark And Man” in 2012 (the film was released a few years later), it was a really exciting challenge. He told me that the main character of the film was not the sharks, nor the interviewees, but rather the water itself. Creating an almost musical sound for the water was a very rewarding exploration – almost the reverse of what I had been doing to create elements of my own music.

David Diley also asked me to compose the opening theme for the film, which helped me to develop my own way of mapping out a piece of music to visual cues.
With regards to The Royal Ritual, every single song was written with a very strong visual in mind, using techniques I have developed in both my musical and audio post production worlds. 

What can we expect from the full length album MARTYRS?
“Pews In A Pandemic” and “Empires” paint the musical extremes for the album. There is a lot of darkness, but also (I hope) a lot of light in there. As much as I focused on creating sound design elements for the musical side of things, I also spent a long time working on the lyrics – something I hope translates and resonates well with people. Words have always been important to me, so I made sure to take my time with the words on the album.

As I mentioned before, the album has something of a sonic “palette,” so whilst the songs have a lot of variety in their songwriting, I think their arrangements are tied together by a general “sound” (for want of a better term).

I am so glad that the singles seem to have been well received so far, but I feel like they make more sense in context with the rest of the album. I pieced it together with two sides of a record in mind, and I am very much looking forward to holding and spinning the vinyl myself!

What music first set your soul on fire when you were young and who do you enjoy or still fans that fire?
That question is always going to open Pandora’s Box, as far as I’m concerned, so I will try to keep it short.

The influences that jump to mind right now are Erik Satie, Pink Floyd, Arvo Pärt, Tool, Henryk Gorecki, Aphex Twin, Philip Glass, Björk, David Sylvian, Nine Inch Nails, Tears For Fears, Nitin Sawhney (and I could go on and on…)

The most perfect piece of music to me, however, is “High Hopes” by Pink Floyd. There is a long story behind that choice, but I am certain that it was that song which served as the catalyst for me truly wondering about how modern music was put together.

Thank you for your time and we can’t wait for the album MARTYRS.
It has been a pleasure – thank you!

https://theroyalritual.bandcamp.com/

The Royal Ritual | Facebook

If you are of the gothic ilk, you will more than likely have heard of Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry and if you haven’t then may I suggest you have been spending some time under a rock,,,,not the post-punk type. Guitarist and later lead singer, Chris Reed, along with others, formed the band in 1981 in Leeds, after the explosion of punk had filtered into the post-punk scene. Not long after, Reed invited Dave ‘Wolfie’ Wolfenden to join the band as another guitarist and together they would form the core writers of the music for The Lorries. I was fortunate enough to get to talk to Wolfie about the 80s, current plans/bands, friendships and the release of the wonderful live album GENERATE.

Thanks for talking to us today Wolfie. We often glamorize the late 70s and early 80s but was it easy being in a band like the Lorries? Um…that’s a good question. Erm, the Lorries kind of started around about 1981 but we’d all kind of been in bands. We saw the Sex Pistols in the Anarchy In The UK tour and that’s when it was all kicking off you know. Out of the whole tour there were only two dates that survived which were Leeds Poly Tech and Lincoln Derby and we had gotten tickets to see The Pistols at Leeds and that show went ahead. And it’s kind of like one of those things, everyone says they were there but in actual fact there were 250 people there and the line up was The Clash, The Damned, Johnny Thunders and The Pistols and that was £1.25 which I guess is like about a $1 and there was about 250 people there and a lot of people, sort of student kind of things, and probably, i don’t know, about 12 punks or 12 people wearing safety pins or 12 people who had paint splattered on their shirts and it got covered by the local press and they absolutely savaged it. And more than musically, more culturally, it was a significant event, although you knew that you were seeing something you’d never ever seen before.

The Pistols were good but the things that kind of really blew our socks off were The Clash and The Damned and all this kind of myth that punk rockers couldn’t play was absolute bullshit because you know the The Damned were, you know, a ferocious force in those days and The Clash were ferocious and they could clearly play, they could clearly play. They had put their time into learning their instruments and it was just amazing to witness, that was like watching something like a bomb go off and we just kind of could sorta play guitars but ah not to a good standard but we could do bad Thin Lizzy versions or Kiss but when we saw the Pistols and The Clash we thought this is what we must do and that’s what we did.

We formed a silly punk band and then it kind of went on from there. I think that was very true for most of the punk rock contingency in Leeds and across the UK that The Pistols were a kind of catalyst not just for music but for ideas and particularly for bands like The Slits who didn’t play in an orthodox way but because they didn’t it made them even more interesting and you never would have heard ideas brought to so many people if punk rock had not started and those ideas challenged most ideas about music, particularly with bands around like Emerson Lake and Palmer and Yes if you know what I mean…. It really challenged people’s ideals, I think that was the significant thing about it was that it empowered people who thought they didn’t have a voice or the ability to believe that they could create something worthy and perhaps something lasting or fun.

It’s amazing that The Damned are still going and that they still sound so amazing on stage. Well yeah, they are a terrific rock’n’roll band. A testament to them. You see them live and they don’t have any backing tapes going, so there is no standard for them to play, they just play.. Yeah absolutely, it’s old school and that is how it should be you know, that’s how they learnt their trade.

How did you first become associated with Chris Reed? Well I’d been playing in a band in Leeds called Expelaires and we were signed to the same label as the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes and we did a single and some records and we kind of did okay and we played with A Gang Of Four and the Mekons and, you know, we did okay and eventually it kind of burnt itself out and we weren’t going nowhere or there were no deal. And then we kind of drifted apart and I had a year off. Chris came to the last gig and said, you know I’ve got this band, would you like to play? I really like your guitar playing and I said, not at the moment, I’m pissed off with this and don’t want to do it anymore. I spent 4 years on this and got nowhere, so I spent a year getting drunk and then he asked me again and I met him and I think they had done their second single and a Peel session and he played me the recording of and I thought wow that is fucking great. That is what I want to do and so I lined up pretty well really.

It really has been very mush a friendship for you two really hasn’t it?
Yes, yes, yes, he’s had a tough time recently but you know the knowledge that he passed on, you know I owe him a debt but we have shared a long friendship, so I guess it has been fairly reciprocal that we learnt off of each other. He was the first person I ever met that was a real songwriter and we all kind of thought that writing songs was kind of jamming and out of luck maybe 10 ideas and maybe 2 were worthy of being called a song but we weren’t song writers. Chris, you know, was the first person I ever met that could sit down with an acoustic guitar and play like a four chord song from beginning to end with all the words and with all the melodies and I thought, this guy, who the fuck is this guy? Is he Bob Dylan or something you know?! And he has a god given talent, he really really has and he can do it without thinking and he’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. I just wish that he realise that.

RED LORRY, YELLOW LORRY in the 80s

So he (Chris Reed) is a very reserved person?
He’s incredibly reserved, you know. He came to see us play a while ago, he’s not in a particularly good place at the moment, you know but people are pretty pleased to see him when he socialises, he seems to have this massive self doubt which I think a lot of truly talented people do but the joy and enjoyment that has been given to lots of people through his music and The Lorries, took us around the world and changed our lives. He’s turned a lot of good jobs down really…really a lot down but hopefully he’ll get in a better place and hopefully we can resurrect the band, but when he’s good he’s very good but when he’s bad he’s very naughty.

Obviously Red Lorry Yellow Lorry have a very loyal fan base and maybe Chris is a bit reticent to say so, would you say yourself and he are proud of the music that has stood the test of time?
I think he’s slightly fragile right now. We’re amazed that people still like it really. When you are doing this, looking into the eye of the storm it could be cooking or painting or writing, you aren’t really aware of how good it is. It’s only with hindsight and time that you can perhaps look back with affection or some kind of pride but people still seem to like it and I think that is a testament to his song writing. In the same way a Johnny Cash song stilll sound great. We always said that it is always about the song and he always put the song first and he always tried to play to the song. I mean in essence we kind of wanted to be like the MC5 but play like songs that were as good as Motown. They were the two main influences really, I mean really we liked the energy of the MC5 but we couldn’t play like that but we also loved the songwriting skills of Motown, so we both had a love of that. So that was kind of our attempt to marry the two, putting them together and it came out sounding like The Lorries.

Leeds and a lot of the northern cities were veritable hot beds for the post punk/gothic scene. Do you think the politics at the time, such as Thatcherism, Falkland war, general lack of jobs and the bleak out look of possible nuclear annihilation had anything to do with the new movement and did it shape your music? I think it definitely did. In the same way all the things that we liked came from Detroit, you know it’s a pretty rough city to live in and it definitely shaped the music in Detroit unconsciously and I think the times that we lived in Leeds no one had any money. People were signing on and getting benefits from the government and trying to get by and the only real way out of it was either, other than get a real job, was to become a footballer or try and be half decent in a band. And I don’t know, you kind of messing about in your bedroom and say wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could take this music around the world and we actually, you know we kept with it and we kept going and we kept hopefully getting better and better. Made an album and that did pretty well, got a chance to go to America and these things started falling into place but it were never planned like that, we just though let’s just play the music and whatever follows at least we kept true to that ethos really and it almost worked, (laughing) it almost worked.
For some of us it did work. It still resonates with a lot of us today, the music.
Yeah the tunes still sound good.

GENERATE was released recently, which is mostly a live album with a few rare studio recordings that were on a limited CD release at a couple of gigs. Why did you decide in 2021 to release GENERATE? Well on The Lorries fan-club page on Facebook, quite a lot of people had been saying, you know, has anyone got any live recordings, has anyone got any live recordings and I think like a lot of bands, there is a lot of really bad recordings but you kind convince yourself that they are half decent probably because you were there and probably because you were in an altered state but that don’t mean it was good. Someone sent me that gig in Frankfurt, is the best recording of the band that we had ever heard and you know it just seemed kind of fortuitous and good timing and then you think sod it, it’s no good stuck in a cupboard or a wardrobe, might as well get it out there. And hopefully people will like it and we are quite proud of it and we managed to play okay that night!

It’s actually a really amazing recording because it is so clear. You get some live recordings and the quality is quite horrendous.
Yeah, I know. We were just very lucky. It was a venue that we had played a few times in Germany and Germany was very good to The Lorries and we always loved playing the Batschkapp in Frankfurt and the sound engineer had the good sense to put a cassette in the machine and have two ambient mics on. He gave us a cassette at the end of the show, we played it and we thought well that’s not too shabby and then nothing happened with it and it had been in someone’s cupboard for years and then I got a copy then I had it mastered and chopped into individual songs. It seemed good timing to put it out, not a full stock but a kind of reminder of tours, that we can sound okay.

It did sound wonderful. Would you ever consider releasing another album under The Lorries name?
Well there is another album. It’s finished. Completely finished and two of the tracks on the EP are from that album but the mixes are all pretty good but never finalized but they are monitor mixes but they are good monitor mixes. The two tracks that are from that EP are from the album and there are twelve songs all together, so there are another ten that have never been released that are of that standard to be released. But without Chris’ consent no one feels comfortable about doing it, as it should as it is his band and if he gets in a better place, hopefully it will come out, it’s a pretty basic rock’n’roll album, there isn’t much technology on the album, it’s just us playing. And I think it sounds good for that and it’s a very dry recording and you can hear everything so hopefully it will come out.


Hopefully it will because that would be brilliant. That takes me on to something else. In the 80s, you and Chris did an interview where you talked about the drum machine you used as well as having a drummer and saying you were more into analogue music and that you controlled the drum machine and the drum machine didn’t control you.
I don’t know.. I could see me saying it but I don’t think it’s true. You know the drum machine was a pain in the arse to be honest. You know, say we were going to the studio for two weeks, we’d spend ten days doing the drums and like the rest of the time doing the vocals and guitars. The drum programming took up 75% of The Lorries time in the studio but it was something Chris really really wanted to do and it was a pain in the arse! It really really was. We should have gotten a great drummer and we did have a great drummer (laughing) and sadly he joined The Mission and we were stuck using this hybrid of using the drum machine and real drummer, which live was okay but when we wanted to do it in the studio, we’d end up resampling and triggering and recording…and it took fucking ages and it was really boring. And then when we had done that we could have some fun and get the guitars out but it really was a labour of love. It really was.

Do you find that today’s technology makes it so much more accessible to using electronics?
Yeah, absolutely. There was no real easy way to do it then. We used the drum machine, sometimes we used a multi track tape machine and a drum kit, so you’d end up with like 20 channels of drums and then you have to sound check all this shit, the drums were taking the bulk of the time. But when it sounded good, it sounded good, you know the GENERATE live album is purely a drummer and that’s why I like it. We just went out on that tour and said fuck this, we’re just going to play it live and I think that what was nice to hear to prove that we could play like a band without a life support machine because that’s what it felt like it had become. Like a life support machine that we were afraid to ditch.

Recently you teamed up with Caroline Blind, ex-lead singer of Sunshine Blind to create the project Voidant. The self titled album is not the gothic/post-punk fare that we are used to from either of you. Could you please explain the premise behind it?
Well Caroline asked me to do some guitar for her on a Lorries song. She did a version of Heaven and I had been working with the guys from The Wake as well and I had started doing kind of trip hop stuff at home, stuff I could do by myself you know, just on the computer with some basic synths and I kind of make a basic tune and I said would you be interested in doing this? It’s not goth, it not..I don’t know what it is. I guess it’s kind of trip hop. And she said yeah I’ve done similar kind of things with Sunshine Blind. So the first one we did was called Death To Sleep and that turned out good and I carried on working and most of it at during Covid, both of us were at home for a year. I’d kind of be doing all the electronic backing tracks and sending them to her and then she would come up with a rough idea of the melody and the lyrics and then I took them away to a studio in Manchester where it was all edited and stuck together by a trusted friend who threw all the shit bits and kept the good bits and I trust his judgement and I think he got it right. Yeah I think it is what it is, you know, we are pretty pleased with it. It’s not what I’ve done before but that was good because we didn’t know. It’s like baking a cake but not knowing what it tastes like at the end. I think we are pretty pleased with it.

You should be pleased with it. It was a really interesting record and it also kind of points to some of your influences in regards to the covers, the tastes in music when you were young. So who did influence you when you were young?
When I was a kid, my brother was a teddy boy! Like I was born in ’56 so I’m pretty old and my brother was a teddy boy. He was into rock’n’roll, we had a mono record player there in the corner and I grew up listening to Little Richard and Chuck Berry. So that’s where I got the love of rock’n’roll was from my brother and it was a good time for pop music and the first records that I bought was You Really Got Me by The Kinks, Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones and Spirit In The Sky. And I just thought what the fuck is this noise, what the fuck is going on with this.. this noise is amazing! And it’s only later I found out that they were using a thing called a fuzz-box which made everything sound amazing so I thought this would be quite good fun to do this but I don’t know how to play the guitar (laughing). So eventually I learned, you know I had quite a good grounding in music with my brother and there was a lot of good pop music around at the time with The Small Faces and The Kinks and The Stones, you know a pretty exciting time for everyone with things like The Yard Birds all sort of like this sonic architecture that has always fascinated me the same way the Voidant thing fascinates me. You know the sonic architecture. The Lorries to a certain extent, we never really wanted the guitars to sound like a rock’n’roll band. Chris always described the songs as being like ballads and I kind of think in a sense he’s right. They are kind of torch songs, you know love songs and then (laughing) we fuck it up. So there is a lovely song underneath it and then we fuck it up with a load of noise and that’s how we did it.


Who now do you find inspiration from or enjoy listening to? I’ve always been a fan of bands like The Young Gods, really really lovely young blokes from Switzerland, Ministry I’ve always been a fan of, Killing Joke, I’ve always been a Hendrix fan, Bowie particularly the Mick Ronson era and before that The Kinks and The Yard Birds. It’s kind of cool anything that sounds interesting sonically. I band I loved from the 70s was a band called The Ground Hogs, a band with really amazing guitar playing. Things that really make your ears pop and you think that’s really interesting and how did they do that?! Someone like Radiohead is still really interesting sonically, they have that ability to make you think that’s cool, how did they do that? Things that kind of challenge your idea of what music is I think. I’ve always been a fan of blues I think.

So you like the mixture of guitar being sonic but also the mixture of the electronic industrialized sound as well?
Yeah that seems to be something easier to do at home so it’s kind of where I’m at now. You know you don’t need a bunch of other people to do that, you can do it at home so.. Synths and things can create sounds that a guitar can’t and a guitar player can do things that a synth can’t. As long as you have got a slot, you can fuck it up as much as you like which is where the fun is really, as in splashing the colours around and hopefully there is a song in there somewhere.

It seems to be Covid has brought a lot more of this style of music out in bands. I’ve seen a lot more acts in lockdown where there is a lot more industrial or synth related music coming out now and it’s actually a very exciting time. Is this where Voidant is coming from and where do you see Voidant going in the future?
Well I think we do have a plan for another EP. We did want to do it before Christmas but I don’t know whether we will. My music room I’m just decorating so I don’t have any equipment set up but we have got some ideas for songs. Interestingly enough Caroline came over when she played Whitby. She stayed with us and she’s a really big fan of Zakk Wylde and I can see he’s a terrific guitar player although his music isn’t something I would listen to but there is one Zakk Wylde song that we both agree on that we’d like to do a cover of in a 4AD kind of ideal and it’s this song called Spoke In The Wheel which I think is a fucking great song because you know it’s a really great song. I think we are going to have a bash at that and there is a song I want her to sing but we’ll come up with something else. It’s not done yet and promised another EP, Shooting Stars Only I want her to sing but it will be different to The Lorries version. So that is to be done. I think hopefully to get better at it and you know carry on, you know cause it’s what we do and it’s what makes us feel alive I think.

So the EP is coming up, might not make it by Christmas but it’s definitely coming and if Chris Reed gets back on track, then maybe a Lorries album coming out, which would be very exciting.
It would be great and we have spoken to him about it, but he’s not in a situation to commit but then again he isn’t saying no, which we can kind of take as encouraging because he’s not saying no, he’s just saying I can’t do it at the moment. So we’ll just have to see really but I think when someone isn’t too well, the worst thing you can do is to pressure someone, we try to stay in touch and encourage him. I think he is coming out to see the glam rock show at Christmas and he’s pretty supportive of that and you know it’s just good to talk to him really. He definitely needs supporting through a difficult time.

If that’s the case, what else do you see for one David Wolfie Wolfenden going in to the future?
Ah, well to finish decorating my studio and get all the boxes plugged in. I’m working on some music with my partner Fiona, who is a great singer. So there will be that, the Expelairs, the Voidant thing, hopefully The Lorries and this band our little glam rock’n’roll project which at the moment is covers but it would be fun to write some new glam rock songs. It would certainly would be fun trying and it’s fun dressing up anyway. You know it’s good fun really. I think anything that lifts people really, you know in the middle of Covid can only be good and music can do that and we all need the shared experience and we all need a connection and we all need to feel we are all working towards a common goal, all these things we are talking about like Chris and Caroline, they are connections that are worth maintaining and persevering with even though times are difficult.

https://redlorryyellowlorry.bandcamp.com/album/generate-live-batschkapp-frankfurt-23011992

https://voidantmusic.bandcamp.com/

Recently we reviewed the full length album, Isolated And Alone by Schkeuditzer Kreuz, which is a journey in some ways, into the mind of the man behind SK, Kieren Hills. How did this power house record come into being and what makes Hills tick? Read on and find out……..

KIEREN HILLS – SCHKEUDITZER KREUZ

Welcome to the weird side Kieren Hills. You started off in the punk scene. What drew you to this music?

I first got into punk some point in the 80s when I was a teenager, starting with some of the more standard, commercial bands like the Clash/Sex Pistols etc and then delving deeper form there. All the time I was looking for music that sounded “more” – angrier, louder, more real, more intense. I didn’t want to hear anything nice but at the same time didn’t know what I wanted. I lived in town in New Zealand where the access to such things were kind of limited. I am not exactly sure what the first “industrial” song I heard was but it may well have been AFFCO by The Skeptics. A song that is musically intense but also had a pretty full-on video that was played about once on TV and then was banned. It resonated with me quite strongly and I loved the driving rhythm of it and the noise and the heart behind it. From there I started looking out for more industrial stuff as well as punk stuff. I didn’t see the two as separate really. They were different ways of expressing anger through sonic violence and aural assault and they both worked for me. Punk had always been (to me) more about energy than talent – not that you can’t have talent but if your music was more about showcasing your abilities than getting out your frustrations then it seemed to miss the point for me. And that feeling seemed to flow in the industrial stuff I was hearing – it was a raw release of energy, not the showing off of chops. So, most of the early industrial bands I saw – Cell, Invisible Dead, Children’s Television Workshop etc were slightly older (than me) punks who had just gone in a slightly different direction – away from guitars and more towards performance and making their own stuff.

Congratulations on not only the new SK album but also the new Dark Horse album as well. You always seem to be involved in a project, so how many are you currently a part of and will the gothic/post punk Death Church also be recording again?

Thanks! Right now I am mainly doing SK and Dark Horse. Darkhorse has been around for somewhere over a decade and I have been in it for 7 years or so. In normal times we play a lot, tour a lot, and release a record every couple of years. These times are not normal, so we are a bit stuck. Normally we would be overseas this year. SK is a full-time thing. I work on it almost every day. I will run through my songs at least once a day and when I am developing a set for tour that gets upped to twice a day. I also make the music videos, compose the art, write the songs, do all the booking and communication and all the other stuff that a band needs to do, and it takes a lot of time. I am not complaining here – it is just true that if you do a solo thing that wants to release and play a lot, it takes a heap of work. I have recently started jamming with a couple of friends with an intention towards Japanese metal/punk kind of stuff. It remains to be seen how much time I can put into that though. Once Dark Horse really kicks off again and SK is in full flight it might not leave a lot of down time.

As for Death Church – it is definitely dead. We never wanted to do anything with different members, or any kind of lineup change so with a guitarist in NZ, a singer in melbourne and a drummer doing her own thing, it is definitely over. It was a fun ride though.

Is Industrial music something you have always been interested in or has it been a music that you have found yourself being draw to?

As mentioned before – I saw industrial as an extension of punk. Most of the people I met who were doing it when I was young were punks who were a generation or two older than me who had gone that direction via the likes of Butthole Surfers, Big Black etc and the Neubauten, Laibach etc side of stuff kind of came to them and me later even if they were working on similar ideas. Obviously, there was no internet then to find music on and those European experimental records just didn’t turn up in NZ very often. But I always loved what I heard when people were getting percussive and experimental with their sound. My first attempt at actually starting an industrial band was with Glenn Maltby and a couple other friends in the 90s. It was never going to work though. Already the ideas of what industrial was had diverged sufficiently that we didn’t have as much common ground – from Insurge to ministry to NIN, Consolidated or whatever, industrial was entering into popular music and was getting more refined and more defined. And that has continued to where industrial can mean anything from a person beating a piece of sheet metal to club music with slightly harsher/more attacking drum tones than what you might hear at a mainstream nightclub.

Something I was pondering the other day – Punk is a noun. And it gets a bunch of adjectives attached to it: crust, hardcore, pop etc.

Industrial is really an adjective which gets attached to various nouns – dance, metal, hip hop, goth etc

This may seem like a pretty wanky thing to spend time pondering but the reality of it shows in the way that people react. People who like punk will often check out anything that comes under that heading. People who like one kind of industrial often have no time at all for other types of industrial. So, whereas punk community pages (for example) often have hundreds of comments and reactions to every post. Industrial pages usually have nothing at all. Because it is not a community, but just a description of different factions of other communities.

You lived in Germany for a time and that is where you got the name Schkeuditzer Kreuz. Can you tell us what is the Schkeuditzer Kreuz and why you decided on this as a project name?

If you are driving from Berlin, south, on Autobahn 9 and want to turn onto the 14 to go Leipzig, the intersection where you would do this is Schkeuditzer Kreuz – literally the kreuz (cross) near the town of Schkeuditz. I was making that trip once (in the opposite direction) and I drunkenly said to my friend who I was in the back of the car with that I would call a band that one day. So I did. It is also the oldest autobahn cross in Europe but that is pretty irrelevant. Before I called it that, I did make sure there wasn’t any particularly fucked history attached to it. I did not want to call my rather silly band after a place which had war atrocities associated with it or anything like that. But no. It doesn’t. It is just an intersection. Every now and then I will run into some random German who is somewhat perplexed as to why I would name my band after an intersection, and I never have a satisfactory answer for them. They usually buy a record from me anyway.

There was a lot of Laibach influence on the first EP with the more pronounced pomp but Isolated And Alone feels a little more raw. Does it feel that way for you and was part of the frustration being in lockdown for periods of time due to covid?

In between the Give Me Nothing EP and the LP I did the D-Beat Raw Synth Punk EP and I think some of the attitude I took into that one came across into the LP. There is more noise, more anger, more distortion and more layers of synth and samples. The Give Me Nothing EP is relatively sparse in comparison, I think. Even the songs that I used on both have changed in that way. I have no idea if my next recording will continue that way or not. I have two new songs in my set now that are not on any records and not only do they not really fit in with either sound, they are not even that similar to each other. I think when I find a bit more time to sit and write I will find a direction to head in next. Give Me Nothing was interesting for me – I was learning the machines I was using and working out how I wanted to express myself with them. I still have a lot to learn but I think I have developed a bit of a workflow. Each song on the GMN EP was written in a completely different way from the others as I tried new things. I hope not to get too settled though. There are a million things I don’t know about making noise and I want to try all of them.

Did you find writing and recording the album easy or was it a labour of love?

Musically, it is not so much easy as natural. I have always written songs in my head along to the sounds I hear around me – that could be the sound of musical instruments but could also be the pumping of the coffee machine, the sound of a train I am sitting on, the slight misalignment in the wheels of my car, the cracking of the machines in a factory I used to work at or the beep beep beep of a laser level. I would write riffs in my head to them. But now I also created the beats based on them. Some songs start with something that is actually musical – a synth line or whatever, but more often than not it is with a percussive pattern which I will put noise or voice samples to, to give it direction. Sometimes this is something traditionally musical – for example on Traitor I had a melody I had recorded on my phone of the painfully loud music played from the Tannoy in the street outside of a funeral in Siem Reap in Cambodia. It is piercing and confronting and played so that everyone in the neighborhood knows the funeral is happening. I had recorded this years ago and then looped it and based the whole speed and layout of the song on that loop. Other times it might be downloaded field recordings that other people have made – from factories, in the street, in conversation…. recently I found some recordings from the deck of a North Sea oil rig and wrote a song around them. From there I will follow up with synth lines – bass, melody (sort of melody anyway), drone etc. For each synth part I will create the sound from scratch. I use an analog synth, so I start with that single wave sound and develop it until I have what I want using both the inbuilt stuff on the synth and the array of distortion pedals I use. In the end – the hard bit is the vocals. I don’t think of myself as a singer. I struggle with my lyrical output. But I have worked out a way to at least write words I can live with and then I vocalise them. I think this is probably the weakest part of my sound but I am coming to terms with it.

The most punk thing in the world is to be found to be subversive by a Communist country, however it must have been galling to have your original pressing of Isolated and Alone confiscated by the Chinese government.

Fuck but this was so weird. I had the records pressed through a broker in Melbourne who uses a pressing plant in China. So we went through the process – sent them my master and they cut it to their stamper plates and sent me the test presses. I was happy enough with them and asked them to continue (all standard up to this point) and then a couple weeks later I got a phone call – the factory had pressed my records and boxed them up to send but before they were sent, they were inspected by some official or another who decided that due to content they were not suitable for export. So they destroyed the lot. Everything. I have heard words like “subversive content” and similar but who really knows? They didn’t like it so I couldn’t have it. So we started again from scratch. New plates, new tests, new records. In the end I am just happy to have them in my hands.

Punk and industrial seem to have, for the most part become the social conscience of the music scene. How do you think this came about and does it resonate with you?

The politics of punk is what got me in there and kept me there. And industrial for me has the same feel. I don’t mean big P politics necessarily – just some kind of social conscience and attitude. Angry music without a conscience is just a temper tantrum and doesn’t hold my attention for long. This is not to say that every song must be a specific political doctrine. There are definitely SK songs that are quite personal but they are still aware of how the personal crosses over to the political.

The proceeds of the album sales are going to a charity that helps and support young Trans people. Tell us about this and what other causes you find yourself drawn to.

Yeah, all digital proceeds go to Transcend. Transcend is run by a wonderful woman named Beck in Melbourne who has been helping young trans people for many years now. I have met her personally a few times at various events but known of her for longer. She and her family are a large part of the reason for some of the trans positive law reform of the last few years. Trans people, and particularly trans youth, are often left out of any conversation on the rights of the population so I figured I would do my small amount to help. I have been involved in various causes over the years both through my music and through my actions – refugee assistance, trans support, anti-racism work, pro-choice advocacy. Mostly stuff where my big mouth and (where necessary) big body can help back up people whose voice is being ignored.

What music formed your formative years and by progression, who do you find now inspires you?

First band I really got into was The Clash. And I still love them now. Although some of my feeling for them has changed – when I first heard them, they seemed quite shouty and punk or whatever. What I really appreciate about them though, and how their influence has stuck with me over the years was their willingness to try different things and go in different musical directions and to create new sounds. From there I went through the normal run of punk bands that one does – Sex Pistols, Exploited, Siouxsie, SLF etc until one day in about 1987 when I was in hospital for an extended visit and one night nurse turned up with a tape he had made for me from a punk radio show – this opened my eyes to so much amazing music – Subhumans, Conflict, and Crass for a start but also bands like Puke from Sweden and then further down into European hardcore. I guess that was a pretty life changing moment for a 15 year old. Now days I feel I am getting inspired by something new every day. All the time I am coming across so much amazing music being made by people from around the world. From grindcore like Self Deconstruction (Japan) to evil doomy sludgy stuff like Religious Observance or Whitehorse (Melbourne) to dark curst bands like Ego (Germany) or black metal like Black Kirin and Zuriaake from China to weirdness out of the States like Hustler or whatever. Pretty much not a day goes past where someone doesn’t go “hey Kieren – check this!” and there is always something incredible attached. There is so much amazing music being created right now and most of it is available directly from the bands on their Bandcamp.

You have tour dates established for the East Coast of Australia, so what will be the plans for SK after the tour? Will there be another album and/or were there rumblings about touring overseas at some point?

So, yeah, after the tour… I am not sure. I really want to go and play in Europe. I have toured there with various hardcore bands I have been in, but I would very much like to take SK over there. Of course, that depends on what happens with the virus though. If it starts to settle, I will start looking at booking shows there. I am trying not to put too much mental energy into that yet though. Likewise, I was going to go to NZ but that is out for now. I want to add more to my Australian travels. I haven’t been to Tasmania or W.A with SK yet so will get that happening. My next recording I am not sure what I will do with that. Maybe a split with someone inappropriate. Maybe an ill advised single. I don’t really know. But I will keep going and keep creating stuff until it becomes too much like work and then I will stop. Can’t see that happening in a hurry though.

Thank you so very much for your time and looking forward to the latest tour!

Thanks for the interview. See you soon!

https://dorfpunk.bandcamp.com/album/isolated-and-alone

With the imminent release of their latest album, Horses In The Abbatoir on Freakwave Records, Shawn Tucker and Sean-Patrick Nolan from gothic/post-punk band TRAITRS, spoke to us about the album, friendship and the dark art of music.

Welcome to the rabbit hole! Having listened to the new album, Horses In The Abbatoir, I can say it stirs memories of another era, especially the around the time of the releases of The Cure’s Pornography or the Cocteau Twins Sunburst and Snowblind which is no mean feat as they are iconic albums. Do you think the events of 2020/21 have impacted on your sound for this album and if so how?

Nolan: I wouldn’t necessarily say the pandemic and events of the last 18 months impacted the sound of this album. Only in the sense that it motivated us to write the darkest album we possibly could to reflect these strange and horrible times. A lot of the songs on this record are about isolation, depression, paranoia, death, the passing of time and the meaninglessness of existence. If that doesn’t remind you of the events of 2020/21, I don’t know what will. Thematically, this is a very personal record for us both, but there is definitely overlap between that and where the world is at right now. We’re not a happy-go-lucky band, so we revel in the misery and neuroses of the modern age. It’s great apocalyptic fodder for current darkwave bands in the same way that the punk and hardcore bands in the 80’s were reacting to the Reagan era and Thatcherism. The album’s not about the pandemic or Trump or anything specific to 2020/21, but this record absolutely is the product of two people observing and struggling to survive in this depressing, anxiety-ridden age.

SHAWN TUCKER & SEAN-PATRICK NOLAN – TRAITRS


How do you feel your sound has changed since your first album, Rite And Ritual in 2017?

Tucker: I’d say the core elements of our sound on Rites And Ritual are all still there, but our songwriting and production has vastly improved. The post-punk and goth framework remains in tact, but we’re adding new elements and twists to our sound to further establish our own identity. The electronic and more cinematic parts of our sound have always been there, we’re just better at using them more effectively and prominently in our songs now. This is our most cohesive record front to back. We tried to have each song stand on its own individually as well as play a crucial role in the lyrical and musical narrative of the whole album. That was a big goal we set for ourselves: to write an album that’s as immersive as something Dead Can Dance, The Cure or Cocteau Twins would put out.

Nolan: I totally agree. James Lindsay from our old label Pleasence Records always used to say Rites And Ritual was our punk record and I think he’s totally right. It’s very raw and imperfect in some ways which is what I think people like about it. I’m proud of the album but we’ve changed so much as people and artists since then, it would be impossible to do it again. And we have no interest in doing it again. Formulas and repeating ideas contradict the reason why we started playing music in the first place. In that sense, Horses In The Abattoir is the next evolutionary step in our sound. Like Shawn says, we’re building off of and refining the ideas we started with on day one. We’re not going to start making trap or gabba goth all of a sudden, but our sound is definitely changing and evolving the more we write and record. The music and aesthetic will always be dark and macabre, but there’s so much room to experiment and play around with these sounds and ideas. Personally speaking, that’s the stuff that really engages me creatively.


You both have been friends for a long time before you started TRAITRS in 2015, so are there advantages and disadvantages to this sort of relationship in a band?

Tucker: Honestly, it’s pretty much all positive. There’s a trust and honesty and openness we share after being friends for this long. It makes it easy to create and share ideas with one another. Stressful things like telling someone something they’re playing could be better, or living together while on tour are that much easier since we know each other so well and get along as well as we do. Rarely do we ever argue, and even if we do disagree, we know it’s coming from a genuine place. There’s no ego involved or power tripping. We’re very similar in some ways and drastically different in others, but together we both balance each other out personally and creatively. TRAITRS wouldn’t be possible if you removed either one of us.

Nolan: Yeah the biggest thing is there are never any hurt feelings. The honesty and open communication really makes all decision making so much easier. At this point we’re more like brothers than band members even.


You describe your style as art post-punk. Many of the original post-punk/goth bands also met in art school, such as Bauhaus, and it was an outlet to express themselves both musically but also visually. Is this how it is for you and how do you feel your art influences your music or vice versa?

Nolan: Absolutely! I love when bands can bring in influences from different artistic backgrounds. The musical and art-based influences are intrinsically linked for us and they have been since the very beginning. We discuss the art direction in just as much detail as we do the music, sound and lyrics. The visual component of what we do has always been a huge focal point for us. From album artwork to merch to our live visuals, we see it as a supplemental outlet for us to further expand on the ideas and concepts we write about. Even more so now since we started writing and directing our own music videos, starting with “Magdalene” earlier this year. Shawn is a very gifted visual artist and designer, so it’s been a pleasure to see him apply his eye to directing our videos. It’s a natural extension of what we started years ago and I think the connection to visual art and film will become more prominent the further along we go.


The videos you have created for your singles have been visually stunning with a macabre darkness sewn through them. How much input did you have making these?

Tucker: 100% our input. We do all of it ourselves and our small crew. When the label got down to talks with us as far as videos and singles, we were a bit concerned because they wanted 4 music videos. I had my eye on some very specific people for the projects but when it fell through, Nolan came up with the idea that maybe I put my film background to use and we start doing it all ourselves. Lots of trial and error, but we just started figuring out what it would take to pull that off. The best part of controlling the video concepts and vision is I can get what I feel is the closest representation of exactly who we are as a band and what I want the world of TRAITRS to be. Basically I wanted to direct art house horror films and that’s what I did with the videos. I’m a huge fan of horror/art house films especially the New French Extremity films. From shooting into the descents of hell called nothing, to a real ghost town house hidden away from the world, to escaping the occult offerings in the woods and a hungry possession taking over the mind in the cold dark city streets. Each video allowed all of you to take a deeper look inside our world.


We all have bands/individuals that influence us in our future tastes in music when we were younger. Who were those influences and who do you now find yourself listening to?

Tucker: I still listen to many of the same artist as I did when I was younger: The Smiths, A-ha, The Cure, The Smashing Pumpkins, The/Southern/Death/ Cult,  Opposition, Big Country, The Chameleons, Pixies, Samhain, The Police, Fugazi, Jawbox, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, No Trend, Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Naked Eyes. Currently Newer listens: JJ72, Interpol, Placebo, The Joy Formidable, Autechre, White Lies, Editors, Eagulls, The Twilight Sad, Blonde Redhead, Quicksand

Nolan: A lot of fantastic records have come out this year! Old Country New Road, Lingua Ignota, Emma Ruth Rundle, The Armed, Spirit Of The Beehive, Grouper, Parquet Courts to name a few. Our fellow Freakwavers Creux Lies put out a great record last month. Local Toronto stuff like Nailbiter, Breeze and Odonis Odonis has really been blowing me away recently. This city is rich with very talented artists. I loved metal, punk and industrial music as a teenager. I was born in the late 80s, so it was the heavier bands I grew up loving like Deftones, Nine Inch Nails and System Of A Down who actually introduced me to the post-punk and new wave bands that inspire me to this day. Bands like New Order, The Smiths, The Cure, Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Can, Bauhaus, Jesus And The Mary Chain, Echo and the Bunnymen, plus great electronic bands like Underworld, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack and Portishead. The heavier bands would always mention new wave, goth, shoegaze and electronic artists as influences and I’d go check them out. Kind of like a beta version of the Spotify algorithm. 

Thank you so much for your time and this new album is a wonderful addition to the TRAITRS discography so congratulations. What is planned for the future of TRAITRS?

Nolan: Thanks very much for the kind words for the taking the time to talk to us. Horses In The Abattoir comes out on November 19 on all streaming platforms and cd. Unfortunately due to vinyl manufacturing delays, the LP’s won’t be out until December. Aside from that, with all of the Covid restrictions slowly easing up, we’re finally booking tour dates for 2022 all across the world. So keep an eye out on our social media platforms to stay on top of where we’ll be next year. We have many new cities and countries we want to visit. Words can’t express how much we have missed our fans and live shows during this whole time. These first tours back will be emotional love-fests to say the very least. Come out and say hello to the Shauns.

https://traitrs.bandcamp.com/album/horses-in-the-abattoir

TRAITRS | Facebook

We are delighted to bring you Onyx Music Review’s first interview and we are lucky to have Mach Fox of the industrial band, Zwaremachine, give us some of his time for a Q &A to talk about the new album Conquest 3000, the changes in the band and how current events are affecting them. Zwaremachine describe their style as minimal hypnotic industrial body music, which is raw, hard edged and rhythm filled with cyber punk themes.

ZWAREMACHINE

Mach, congratulations on the new album, Conquest 3000.

This new album sees Zwaremachine now as a three piece, where as previously it was a one man solo project. How did this come about?

Hi and thank you for interview and helping us get the word out about Zwaremachine and the new album. I had always intended to present Zwaremachine as a live trio with myself on vocals/synthesizer and 2 other members on electronic percussion and additional synth. Since I was using sequencers and drum machines to program and write the songs in the studio I also made sure that I could perform solo if others were not available so that is when the solo shows would happen. Over the years Zwaremachine was able to perform as duo or trio when friends were available and we could do minimal rehearsals since many of the parts were sequenced for live performances. This was great as no one had to commit to my band full time and I could have rotating members of my favorite musician friends fill in. Basically I would just need some musicians to help bring the studio recordings to life on stage. I was only booking a few shows each year from 2012-2016 and not very active with the project.

In 2017 I decided I wanted to write and record the “Be a light” album and find permanent members to
tour and record with so over a couple years I was able to try out many members while writing, arranging and performing songs that became the first full length album for Zwaremachine. At first it was difficult to find others committed to rehearsing and learning arrangements for live shows…I was able to record all parts in the studio but I had the goal of having the instrumental arrangements performed as on the record. At this point my main goal for the band was a s a live performance vehicle for these songs and I felt the album should sound like the live versions. In 2019 I finally solidified the line up I’m thrilled to have Dbot on bass guitar and Dein Offizier on drums/percussion.

With one of your band mates, Dein Offizier in Europe and then the virus bringing travel to a halt, it must have been quite an effort to write and record Conquest 3000. How did you get around these obstacles?

Digital recording technology, sampling and being able to record ourselves in home studios and rehearsal rooms played a big part in the recording sessions on this album.

Luckily I was able to travel to the Netherlands in January 2020 to record Dein Offizier drum parts on the demos that Dbot (bassist) and I had worked up in the summer of 2019.. I would have loved to get Dein Offizier into a proper studio with an engineer to record his drum parts but it just was not possible at that time and with our schedule for album. I must say that he worked so very hard on that session and we were able to record 12 songs in 6 hours in a rehearsal room that we rented at Popschool Parkstad in Heerlen,NL {Netherlands).

The 2 other producers we worked with on the Conquest 3000 album tracks were Planktoon (Sweden) and D.Corri (Ireland). We were sharing tracks via internet which is fairly common these days but also means the collaboration process is much different than being in same studio together. This also added to the longer time to produce this album as everyone has busy lifes outside of the band project. Overall I feel that it gave the album sound a uniqueness we may not have got if I was the only producer involved and I very much love what both Planktoon and D.Corri contributed.

How did you end up incorporating Dein Offizier and D-Bot into the band?

I had performed some solo Zwaremachine shows early 2019 in Europe and Dein Offizier was a mutual
friend of Kitty Sommer who does management/booking for the band so he was at one of those shows
since they are both located in the Netherlands. We later met online and I was intrigued by some of his
pictures where he was playing drums and performing in festivals with his underground percussion group at the time. We had many of the same musical tastes and he looked like a complete badass with his big metal brazillian surdo drum so I asked if he would like to join Zwaremachine on electronic percussion. He agreed to play with us and thru some discussion he expressed he would rather play his own drums instead of samples on an electronic drum pad which was an idea I had never considered but made sense as I had already added a live bassist and felt it could be another way to present our “electronic rock band” differently than so many in the current industrial/ebm genre.

In the fall of 2019 we finally met in person and had our first rehearsal where I knew he was a perfect fit when I saw him aggressively pounding his drum and mouthing the words to our songs from the set…and just hours after that first rehearsal we were in France for our first show of the Zwaremachine & Vuduvox ElektroTanz Tour. Dein Offizier and I did that tour and those shows as a duo since Dbot could not make it and it was a pleasure and honor to share the stage with him every night. It was just like he had always been in the band and I really appreciate his hard work and confidence for that tour. That is really trial by fire and he has only become a great friend and bandmate every day since then.

I did not ever anticipate to have a live bass guitar in Zwaremachine but Dbot had already been a member of early Zwaremachine live line ups on synth and electronic percussion and had also played bass in Mach Fox band from 2006-2010. I was considering a Mach Fox band reunion and we were talking about getting that band back together in late 2018 when I decided to ask him instead to play bass for Zwaremachine. He agreed to join and we released our first recording together as Zwaremachine in December 2019. It’s great to be on stage and write music with him again and I want to point out that half of the songs on Conquest 3000 were from instrumental tracks originally written by him. He is such an excellent musician and brings influences from other genres which is always welcome when we can blend that into our expanding sound.

We know for you, Zwaremachine is very much a live act with a huge accent on the visual aspect. Are there plans for live gigs again with your fellow bandmates or will you lean towards using platforms like twitch currently?

I do love the idea of presenting a visual that compliments or contrasts the music whether it is bringing
some old CRT monitors in road cases to glow on stage or building custom microphones and other stage dressing/set elements. I originally got into video art and VJ work as I wanted Zwaremachine to be strong audiovisual band in the style of Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy, Clock DVA and many from that period that matched the visuals with the music to give the audience a bit more of an experience live. We do plan to perform live again and the visuals and stage dressings/sets will depend on whether we travel to Europe or U.S. for first tour and shows since it is not always easy to bring that extra gear.

When shows and tours were first cancelled and I would get requests for online festivals and streaming
sets I originally turned those down as I wanted our live shows to be experienced in dark venues with
large and loud sound systems with a crowd…but as time went on I accepted that this could be a cool way to present our show without having to haul all the gear! Since I am also a VJ and video artist I was able to use multiple cameras, video mixers, hardware effects to present something special that I hadn’t seen others doing and with a bit of editing and post-production we ended up presenting about 10 unique livestream sets which I am proud of. The only downside to that was we were not able to have Dein Offizier with us live but we managed to record footage and he can be seen on the screens behind us for portions of the set.

During a recent interview, you expressed that you would like to bring guitar into the Zwaremachine sound. What is the influence for this?

The guitar was my main instrument for my earliest bands and it’s an easy instrument for me to express melodies and texture. I still want Zwaremachine to be driven by heavy electronics but recently I have been using guitar for some remixes and on a new side-project so I feel it might become present on some new Zwaremachine songs. Most likely it would be loaded into a sampler for live shows as I can’t be fussed to keep tuning it!

The guitar I use is a Roland Gr707 that is also a “synth guitar” which allows me to play a synthesizer or
sampler via midi from the strings of the guitar so it can be blended with a synth or any sound desired.
I also love that the guitar can be placed in the mix with synthesized instruments to make this sound that can still seems futuristic today. This idea to make hybrid electro-industrial rock is probably influenced by my favorite Wax Trax label records and this sound was hinted at in our Ripping At The Fabric EP where the synths were often treated like guitars and there was plenty of sample editing in the production. I have also been making some awful sounds with modular synthesizers that could be looped and used in future
productions.

Your moniker, Fox, is a nod to the original singer of Ultravoxx!, John Foxx, who is also an inspirational figure for Gary Numan in the electronic scene. How do you feel that people like Foxx, Numan, Frank Tovey of Fad Gadget etc have influenced your sound and who currently do you find influences you now?

Those artist and many others were using electronic sounds blended with acoustic instruments and
experimenting with production and effects in a very creative way often due to the limitations of equipment or lack of rules. The whole DIY and punk music stuff happening the same time was what gave me the ideas to try things on my own and try to make sounds that I wanted to hear. Those bands mentioned also had strong images attached and really stood out for me first for the music and also for being great live performers.

A current influence would the industrial and dark sounding electronic music I hear being made and
especially when it’s done well with modular synthesizers. Modular synthesis can produce sounds that I
have never heard before and that really excites my inner circuits as a musician and a lifelong fan of sounds. Check out TL3SS – Murkwhip or ENDIF – Falling Into The Sky for good examples.

Thank you for your time and hoping to hear more from Zwaremachine in the future!

Thank you for the interview and we will stay in touch!

http://www.zwaremachine.bandcamp.com/album/conquest-3000

http://www.facebook.com/zwaremachine