Der Prosector is a project from Florida, that seems to have come to life around 2020. Made up of four members, Ged Denton, Andy Kenealy, Jules Seifert and Digby Denton, found themselves at a loss over the state of affairs in the US during the Trump administration, as the country turned inwards with internal fighting and backwards looking. So was born the single, “Standing In The Embers“, which came out on April 15th, on the label, Armalyte Industries.
There is definitely a punk aesthetic to “Standing In The Embers“, mixed with a mid 90s industrial guitar sound, topped with more modern synths. The beats are fast and furious while the vocals are sincere and imploring you to wake up because – ‘The problem is some people want to watch the world burn And it’s on fire‘. There are also two remixes included. The UCNX mix is understated and like a creeping doom, while the Gordon Young version, named The Pyroclastic mix is stripped back with a feel of anxiety and burgeoning insanity.
They sing of Covid, violence and extreme ideology which has touched everyone’s worlds in the last few years. Ironically, we now watch another power hungry despot, happily destroying countries for his own purpose. The world burns and if we do nothing, we will burn with it. A powerful statement in a time of great upheaval from Der Prosector.
Punk music has always been a political voice. Born of upheaval and social injustice. Schkeuditzer Kreuz is the industrial project with a crust punk heart for Kieren Hills, an ex-pat Kiwi who now resides in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Previously, he released he released a cover of the timeless Discharge track, “State ViolenceState Control” but to celebrate the UK and European vinyl release with Pyrrhic Defeat Records, a brilliant new video was created by Photoyunist (photographer, illustrator and filmmaker extraordinaire). This is also the re-recorded version that appears on the album, Isolated And Alone. Filmed at a live show at Melbourne’s Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar on 21 January 2022, this is a small insight into the high energy shows that Hills excels at.
Discharge released “State Violence State Control” in 1982, making the song 40 years old this year. Even though it is a song that was written 40 years ago, it is just as pertinent now as it has ever been and SchkeuditzerKreuz is not so subtly reminding us of not only a great track but a call to not give in to the forces that try to subvert our will and freedoms. No, this music is not going to be for everyone, but for me personally, I love it and if you find yourself loving it as well, then check out the album and EPs because it is going to be well worth your while.
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……..
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 uswhat 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!
Sometimes you are privileged enough to meet extraordinary people who are talented, make a difference in the world around them and most importantly are very human. Kieren Hills is definitely one of those rare humans. From Lawson, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, he runs the label Dorfpunk, Dark Horse is his crust punk project, he has turned his hand to gothic fare with DeathChurch and has been involved in the music industry for a fair while. Schkeuditzer Kreuz is his one man industrial project and the first full length album, Isolated And Alone, was released on the 14th of December, which is a follow up to the EP, Give Me Nothing. I once described the music style as very Laibach and it still is but those harsh elements of industrial are very much present.
The song that kicks this off is the single “Broken“. From the start, you are going into Hills’ world with the warning that this is the representation of a brief psychotic episode. Massive reverb flies with the static, consuming your ears as the vocals savage your brain. It is the explanation of an episode where everything is over stimulating, you don’t want to die but the effort to actually live seems far too hard. The klaxons hail in “Warning” that has the drum machine pounding away as the music blares in.
All shall be reduced to the same particles of dust when the “Wraith” comes. The synths are almost ear bleeding in their pitch and give a sensation of dysphoria. All is lost as love and hope are wiped away to be replaced with fear and ultimately nothing. “State Violence State Control” has the blaring sirens of Australian emergencies services screaming in the background (so this is not the sort of song I will play in the car while driving because it always scares the crap out of me!!). If the title is familiar, that is because it is a cover of punk legends, Discharge, who are the godfathers of d-beat and this was also released on a split single but since then reworked and mastered for the album. It is every bit as angry as the original version, in electronic form, throwing two finger in the air to politicians, cronies and violent suppression of the masses.
Normally an interlude is a short piece to give the audience a break with some light music, that then soon gets back to the main entertainment or a bridge. “Interlude” is the interlude you are going to get and you better just hunker down and stick to the programme. It starts lightly enough with flowing synths before the rhythm picks up and Kieren informs you – It’s happened before It’s happened before And millions have died And millions have died And millions have died And millions of people have died. A warning that history is repeating itself because people either don’t want to see it or don’t educate themselves. The vocals bring forth visions of holocausts, military coups/enforcement, genocide and war.
Full of loathing and dark thoughts is “Disappointment” starting slowly and picks up speed as the those thoughts become a swirling overload. There is a beautiful synth line hidden within if one listens closely. It is like a veritable scream of fury into the aether, with the metallic beats. When someone refused to go to war because they were a conscientious objector, they were called cowards and “Traitors” to their country because they didn’t want to carry a gun and kill their own kind. Their is an urgency to this track like life itself depends on movement. Fittingly, the “Last Dance” is the final track and the track about finality. When the end comes will you have the last embracing waltz into the darkness? So I guess in a way though it sounds bleak there is a romantic side to it as well.
I am privileged to call this man a friend though I had seen him live before I had met him. In short his show blew us away. He is warm and charming, loves his family, music and pottering around in his garden because it brings him closer to nature. These things are also his sanctuary from the world and especially the last two years have been mentally difficult for many people.
100% of proceeds from digital sales will go to Transcend to help create a world where Trans, Gender Diverse and Non-Binary children are embraced and given every opportunity to thrive and flourish – the man has a beautiful heart and a keen ear.
Get in quick if you want the vinyl or cassette as they always go fast. Just to prove how hard core Schkeuditzer Kreuz truly are, the original pressings of the vinyl were done in China, finished and then confiscated after some complete and utter bastard had a listen, ending up in the whole batch being deemed subversive. That is so punker that thou. It’s an emotional roller-coaster but its well worth every moment and maybe you will find it as cathartic as Kieren Hills does because in the end we are not so Isolated And Alone.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good old ghost story that causes the hair on the back of your neck to rise, your flesh to goosebump and eyes to water without warning? It is human nature to be curious of that which we do not understand and Syd.31 explores those places in the dark where the shadow people lurk, waiting for you in the single release, “Demon Night“. Syd.31 is Dr Magic who is based in Manchester in the UK and the United Kingdom, like all cultures, is steeped in tales of the paranormal.
“When I was a kid, we lived in a haunted house. Some ‘thing’would walk down the hallway, into my room and just stand at the end of my bed. It looked like an old lady and it scared the hell out of me. Other people saw it too, but didn’t tell me until years after, thankfully. I still struggle to sleep alone with the light out…” – Syd.31
The video was shot in the haunted Antwerp Mansion, the infamous Whitby Krampus makes his presence known and if you look carefully, maybe there hints of the ephemeral shadow people. You can hear the near panicked fear in Dr Magic’s voice because they are waiting for him to be alone in the dark of the night, so they may play. There is a psychobilly aspect to the number, not just with the chord progressions but also the use of a Gretsch guitar. All this lends itself to a nicely blended industrial rocking tale of misery. Plus, have to love the middle eastern style drumming at the beginning. “Demon Night” comes off the Syd.31 album, Machine Ready, that was launched in April this year.
I will add my own side note to this. As I wrote this late in the night, the online radio ceased to work. It seems the new router we had received had gone offline but the thing is this one guaranteed to work unless there is no power. It did come back on of its own accord, most unusual…..
Kieren Hills aka DorfpunkTapes, is somewhat of an Australian renaissance man. His love of underground fare means he performs in more than his fair share of bands, from crust punk to goth, though his punk attitude shines through all. One of his incarnations is his one man, industrial punk act called SchkeuditzerKreuz. In September of 2020, the EP Give Me Nothing was released.
This is your “Warning” that starts with a nationalistic anthem of a non existent, fascist state. It smacks of Laibach as it launches, hammering into your skull, the staccato beat with wailing siren. The warning is about a population devoid of control, will find others to exert power over to prove they exist.
Metallic industrial rhythm heralds in “Amerika:, a song written in the time of the Trump presidency and on a personal computer that had no working ‘C’. The angst of watching the erosion of rights, injustice and wholesale lies are ground out by Hills.
Consumerism drives economies, drives environmental destruction, plunges many into poverty and leaves many always wanting what they do not need. Greed is the theme behind, “But What If“. Screeching electronics, contorted in the fervour before the final meltdown.
“Traitor” is a slower track in some ways with an electronic sludginess like sonic glue, however surprisingly does speed up with a near psychedelic overdrive.
Final track, “Give Me Nothing” is the equivalent of Edvard Münch’sThe Scream, a cry to escape the tragedy of life. Not necessarily escaping through death but no longer plugged into the machine that pounds away with fuzzy fury.
It’s a little gem of an EP and gets better every play. It is punchy and doesn’t pull any punches about the state of society in general but then it just wouldn’t be punk if it didn’t have something to say. Should you ever get the chance to see SchkeuditzerKreuz live, take it. The experience will blow your mind but in the meantime indulge in Give Me Nothing on Bandcamp for nameyourprice.