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Interview

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Here follows a short interview with Harry, the madman behind the dread headache-maker Albert Tross, Leader Of The Demons, who kindly agreed to slither from his bunker and disseminate just exactly what in God’s name he thinks he’s doing.

How did you find an interest in Noise?

At an early age, I started messing around with tape manipulation. Creating loops, replacing vocals to songs with weird noises, slowing down music, piling loops on top of one another, or just recording white noise and hoping for some sort of interference.
No idea where it really came from. Boredom? Soon after that I heard an early CD by Laibach, which led me to other groups like Non and SPK. The thought of doing harm to others with nothing but sound amused me, so I continued.

How long have you been making and releasing music, as Albert Tross or otherwise? Do you have any other projects currently?

My early tapes are gone for the most part. I found one, fuck knows what kind of shape its in. I might try to rip that one day. Albert Tross, however, started as a casio keyboard’s drumming and a distorted, shitty guitar. I’d guess that was around 2001.
Most of that stuff still exists, but its pretty horrible. I was eventually introduced to SoundForge, a couple of years later, and began experimenting with manipulation again.
There’s some other shit I’m working on, sure. Takes me forever to complete shit though. There’s this attempt at krautrock using the GarageBand app that’s been sitting unfinished for way too long. There’s also some shit with actual instruments that I
sporadically start and stop working on. Not sure what kind of direction I want to go with it, but it will be pretty noisy and sloppy. I also sing for Stab!

What are the inspirations behind the frightening dreamscape that is Albert Tross, both sonically and visually?

Migraines and hallucinations. I’ve had those problems for as long as I can remember. Albert Tross is my way of re-enacting the pain and anxiety.

What equipment or instruments do you use to create your Noise?

I mostly just use the SoundForge program and stolen music/sounds. I don’t think I would ever use anything else and feel right calling it Albert Tross.

What does the process of creating new material entail for you?

A clouded mind and a couple of hours of free time. I just plop down in front of the computer and start digging through this massive collection of acquired sounds. I might go into it with an idea on what I want to achieve, even then I often stray from that
plan. Its mostly just haphazard trash. I’ll create some sort of mess and sort it into a folder when I feel its completed. I usually have 4 or 5 collection folders going at a time of tracks that I feel fit a certain mood. I’ll go back to them over and over again at
a later point when I’ve completely forgotten what everything sounds like, then I’ll either work on them some more or wait until I’ve forgotten about them all over again. The whole process doesn’t make much sense.

Who do you like/listen to/follow in the world of Noise?

I honestly don’t know too much about the whole noise scene. I know the guys behind Arachnid, Atomic Cockbombs, Kap’n Krank and Mahler Haze, so I listen to and enjoy their output. Andy at Mortville shared a link for this noise outfit called Beelzebukkake, which I
thought was really incredible. Reminded me of those countless hours sitting behind a stitcher/trimmer in a print shop as a teenager. He really captured how all of those loud, abrasive factory noises can become quite rhythmic after a while.

What do you like listening to outside of Noise?

Metal, mostly. Krautrock, schlager, oompah. Shit that either makes me want to drink or break something or both. Just snagged a massive amount of recordings by a synth group called Nightcrawlers, really enjoying them.

Any releases on the horizon?

I recently completed a track for a split release with Arachnad, not sure when that will be out. Started working on some stuff for Kareeye Tapes, far from finished on that though. There’s always my usual mess of incomplete folders too. I’ve got five
separate concepts going at once right now. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do an entire album centered completely around monster movies, but I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around it completely yet. Or maybe a Haunted House album.
One of these days.

Thanks again Harry! Go scope out the ever confusing Albert Tross, Leader Of The Demon’s extensive body of work here. Bring aspirin. Bring alcohol. Do NOT bring psychedelics.

 

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American Hardcore/Grindcore/Hip Hop legend Dan Lactose very kindly agreed to an interview about the late Stinkweed Kuklinski, legendary West Bay figurehead of such bands and projects as Plutocracy, No Le$$, Shed Dwellaz, Kompund and many more, and how he came to curate the Stinkweed Bandcamp page.

How did you and Stinkweed meet?

I knew about Stinkweed long before I met him.  I had seen his tags all over Redwood City and had been listening to Plutocracy since the “Progress” demo because I went to school with Kalmex.  I think the first time I ever met him Kalmex had me drive over to his house with a my mom’s 35mm camera so I could take some pictures of a throw up he had done the night before on the side of the freeway.  I don’t know if he would have even remembered that though, I think it took you meeting him a couple times before he really recognized you as being down with him.  Through Kalmex I met all the other Pluto dudes and started hanging out at some practices and recording sessions which eventually led to me and Max skating together a bit and eventually forming what would end up becoming Spazz.  This coincided with Max deciding to leave Plutocracy and I was bummed that they were calling it quits just as they were writing their best stuff and also, I was worried people would think I had a part in that all happening.  Of course, if this didn’t happen, there would have not been NO LE$$ who were one of the most innovative bands to emerge from our small scene.  Fast forward to 1995, I’m hanging out at the Chestnut Spot with a bunch of fools and Stinkweed comes up to me and asks if I’d be down to be the DJ for a new rap group he was starting.  I told him sure but I didn’t have any equipment to makes beats.  He said not to worry and about a week later we had a 4 track and a Roland MS-1 which, alongside a Boss DR-550, is what I used until I bought a MPC 2000 in 1997.  An interesting side note is that I had actually met Tizoe before Kalmex and Stinkweed.  We met in my 7th grade science class.  I had a bunch of pictures from Gorezone and Fangoria taped to my book cover and we started talking about horror movies.  Redwood City gets really fucking small if you are a true weirdo.

Who were inspirations to you and Stinko coming up through Hip Hop, Metal and Punk?

I can’t really definitively speak for Stinkweed on what actually inspired him but I will say that some of his favorite groups, to my knowledge, were: Pink Floyd, Above The Law, Exodus, Vio-Lence, Funkadelic, Zapp, Youth of Today, Black Flag, Hugh-E MC, Terrorizer, Mac Dre, etc.  I think we both really connected musically because we both were into hip hop before we discovered punk and metal and we could see the parallels between them very early on.  I remember one of the last times I ever hung out with him he told me that music was better when punks, metal heads and hip hoppers all hated each other.  I’ll never forget that.  As for me, Soulsonic Force was the group that hooked me on hip hop and Black Flag was the band that made me want to pick up a guitar.  Once 7th grade me bought a copy of Napalm Death’s “From Enslavement To Obliteration” on cassette, the course was charted.  I still distinctly remember sitting in the computer lab at school and playing Napalm Death on my Walkman for a girl that liked me.  The look of absolute disgust that she gave me told me I was definitely on to something.

How did the Stinkweed Bandcamp page come about?

Stinkweed’s parents invited a bunch of us over to their house to celebrate his first posthumous birthday.  I got there a little early and gave his mom and step dad copies of the Short Fast & Loud and Maximumrocknroll magazines that contained the tributes I curated for him.  While talking to his mom she remarked that she could find tons of his grindcore music online, but barely any of his rap recordings.  On the bike ride home I came up with the idea to create the Bandcamp page.  The first thing I put up was actually something that Stinkweed, Tizoe and myself put together after Stinkweed finished his final stint in jail.  We had been starting to reconnect after a huge fall out that stemmed from a disagreement I had with a certain person I will not name who managed to convince a large group of my friends to turn their backs on me.  Anyways, I had a near death experience in 2007 and I think it kind of reset the situation and we all slowly started coming back together.  When Stinkweed originally came to me his main goal was to dig out all the 4 track tapes that had Zodiak Iller (RIP) rapping on them so that we could digitize them.  We had a great afternoon drinking, smoking, ripping the old tapes and reliving memories, good and bad.  We were amazed that the transfer sounded so much better than we had remembered the recordings and wanted to save it for something special instead of just throwing it on the net or a bunch of cdr dubs.  When Stinkweed died, I felt I just had to share it with everyone.

Do you have a record you and Stinko collaborated on that you feel most proud of?

I think the Low Budget/No Budget compilation was the best thing we ever did together.  It was the culmination of 15 years of making music together, going from 4 track to 16 track to 2″ 24 track to Pro Tools.  I had lost my job after being hit by a car while riding my bike to work and Stinkweed was, well, he didn’t work all that much so he pretty much took the bus to my house everyday.  Luke Sick was working part time in the town I lived in so he would roll over after work and we’d usually already be in the midst of working on something or watching a movie.  It started to become the spot to meet and be creative and the project just came together naturally out of that.  It was great to see Luke and Stinko build off each other.  A lot of people don’t know that Stinko had an engineering background and he was involved in way more than just his vocal or guitar performances.  We both worked at the same recording studio for a bit and he attended a bit of a recording school program as well.  He was also an expert arranger, obviously born with a gift.  You could play him a riff or two and he would instantly come up with a grip of ideas how to use it or would pull a cassette out of his pocket and say, “I got a sick sample for that, bro!”  Every move he made was in some way working towards creating new art in one form or another.  He never fucking stopped!

What response/feedback have you received from the Bandcamp page?

Old RWC heads have told me they are stoked to have access to songs they maybe only had on some fucked up cassette they lost 15 years ago.  Aside from that, not much, although all the responses I’ve received so far have been positive.  Bandcamp is cool, but it’s rare that someone will sit down and write some critical text about it since it isn’t a real, physical release.  That’s why your website is so great, Jordan!  So many fucking blogs just repost the links and original write up/press release with no additional commentary.  The focus is not on quality posts, but the quantity of posts.

Any new projects on the horizon for you, or any upcoming re-releases/uploads of out of print Stinkweed material?

I actually have quite a few beat related things in the works.  My first ever fully instrumental release is at the plant now.  It’s a 7″ called “Revenge of the Crate Goblins” that will be coming out in a limited edition of 100 copies on Megakut Records. We’ve had to reject the first 2 sets of test pressings so hopefully the 3rd set works and we can get the damn thing pressed! I did all the beats for a project with Foul Mouth Jerk and Gus Cutty from Gurp City South called Scoff Law.  I believe they are wrapping up mixing that.  You can hear one of the tracks here: http://gurpcitysouth.bandcamp.com/track/hot-sauce-ft-philo

I’m working on mixing down a 7″ by a young, up and coming MC named Lightbulb from the Sunset District of SF.  4 songs and I did all the production.  That will also be released by Megakut.  I just got hired by a group called Chainsaw Squid to make the intro and outro to their 7″.  I have 3 beats on a new project called Mutual Daps which is a kinda LB/NB project spearheaded by Luke Sick, TC Bonelocs and White Mic of Bored Stiff.  I just finished a remix for my homie Z-Man that will be on a forthcoming remix album that Gurp City is putting together.  Got some other things in the works that are a bit to early to really speak on.
As far as the Stinkweed Bandcamp page, I’ve been slowly upping the tracks for the Shedwellaz “Back 2 Tha Shed” mixtape which was the first release with Stinkweed’s resurrected Shedwellaz with TC Bonelocs handling the majority of production.  After that I’d like to do the Shed Dwellaz “Deadly Episodes” EP and the 2nd Kompound album, “Modern Crucifixion.”  I’d also like to add that I took this project on by myself and have just been uploading recordings that I either was involved with or lossless audio of.  I *think* Stinkweed would be into it, but like my homie Franko said, he was a crazy motherfucker who had been known to flip out on people misrepresenting his music.  For that reason, I’ve kept it all free and leave the disclaimer that if anyone involved in the recordings wants me to take them down, I will.  So far everyone has been really stoked and it’s saved me the time of burning cdrs for all the people who inundated me with requests after he died.

 

What are you currently listening to?

Da Buze Bruvas, Bangaar, Sepsism, Beatnuts, Villains, Pagan Altar, William Onyeabor, Yabby You, Om, Step Brothers, Original Concept, Paul Chain, Sir Lord Baltimore, Syl Johnson, Leviathan, Master’s Hammer, Funereal Presence, etc.

Anything You would like to add?
I guess I’d like to add that the relationship Stinkweed and I had definitely had it’s ups and downs, but I’m extremely grateful that we were so close during the last few years of his life.  We played in Torture Unit together, recorded the Low Budget/No Budget album, played a bunch of shows and communicated with each other almost daily.  He was a huge inspiration to me and it was an honor and a privilege that he chose to work so closely with me for all those years.  I loved him like a brother and miss him dearly.  There will never be another Stinkweed.

Thanks again to Dan for this interview and his support for GonzoK. You can check out the DJ Eons One Soundcloud here.

RIP STINKWEED

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Luke and Ryan of Slavestate 641A and Robocop, among other projects, both kindly agreed to an interview about their Slavestate 641A ‘Masochist’ release on Grindcore Karaoke

How did Slavestate 641A come about? What was the impetus to move away from the sound of Robocop post-‘Dead Language, Foreign Bodies?’

 Ryan: The not so terribly secret fact about this record was that it was supposed to be a Robocop e.p. Originally, Tom was going to play an electronic drum kit and it was going to be an incorporation of early noise and industrial (think SPK, Throbbing Gristle, etc.) influences into our sound. Tom couldn’t make it, and we had planned for him to double the tracks or do some vocals. That didn’t end up happening, so Luke and I didn’t feel we wanted to call anything without him on it Robocop.

As for the sound of the record, all of our earlier albums have had a different sound than the predecessor: the demo was recorded mostly live and very much sounds it, Robocop II was much more worked over, Dead Language Foreign Bodies was the first time we recorded in anything resembling a studio. We consciously wanted to move away from the sound of that record because it was a little too cleanly produced for our taste. The context in which we were recording (I was moving out of my house the next day, and we had one day to record), probably influenced the style. It was much more about experimentation and hearing what would work.

 Luke: Moving away from Robocop, in my mind, was more of a submission to the facts rather than something I would have pursued intentionally. Without Tom, I feel like a lot of Robocop’s spastic, high-energy thrashing was left wanting. Between Ryan and myself, more of the darker and dismal energies remained and I guess that was our launching point.

What equipment was used in creating the record?

 Ryan: My usual generic 7-string guitar, bass, programmed drums, waterproof contact mics, a dual square wave oscillator synth I made with a few control knobs and a light sensor, a microphone with a piezo disc attached to a can of ice-tea with the top cut off, a bathtub, etc.

 Luke: At the time, both Ryan and I were exploring analog sound/technology and building ways to capture and produce sound from scratch. We came together with some contact microphones made water-proof by a synthetic rubber as well as what I believe to be Ryan’s first audio producing synth: what seemed to be a sine wave generator with a pitch control and some modulation.

What influenced the sound of the record?

 Ryan: Swans, Godflesh, Skin Chamber, Big Black, Napalm Death, SPK, Alvin Lucier

 Luke: The sound of the album then comes pretty directly from the environment we recorded in as well as a few objects we were using at the time. The vocals to Screwdriver were recorded using a contact mic and an Arizona Ice Tea can as a resonator. In fact, we tried using that can as a resonating chamber for all of the sounds on that track but I believe we left it only on the Vocals, guitar and synth. Of course, there are also the vocals underwater. Self perception is often misleading but I think that, as far as this album goes, my overall contribution to the sound comes from thinking of stupid ways to try and use the cool ideas that Ryan has. I don’t say stupid to be self-depreciating as much as I’m referring to my complete lack of discretion for my ideas on how to employ the new tech we had. We tried and otherwise shot down an awful lot of ideas which were a little more asinine (e.g. taping the mic to a chip bag and screaming into it) but I think the fact that both of us entertained those ideas is pretty central to what we ended up creating (the same could probably be said for Robocop…). All of that and hearing Godflesh for the first time (I’m definitely the new kid on the block in our group).

What influenced you in recording ‘Masochist’ the way you did?

 Ryan: While we were referencing what we had done previously in Robocop, we really felt like we could reconfigure what we were doing so as to make it unrecognizable. It was important to do something new, because I felt like, on our own small level the vultures were coming in and picking at our earlier work. I was honestly incredibly frustrated with what was passing for ‘interesting’ or ‘intelligent’ in music and had spent three months in the middle of nowhere to think and regroup. Most of the recordings for what has become Body Hammer II were done during that time.

Regardless, I wanted to make something personally meaningful that didn’t abandon punk and hardcore but related to it in a different way. I like the idea of constructing something familiar, but formally organizing it so that it feel odd and uncomfortable. For example, the lyrics for Screwdriver was taken from lyrics I was writing, a short story, and quotes from other writers that I fed into a piece of software which reorganized the material. I’m influenced by the use of detritus in art such as Gutai, etc. and for me, the lyrics of that song remind me finding scraps of ads and junk mail in the winter slush by the side of road. There is an element of corruption and entropy there, but also of organization beyond your control.

The recording of both works was also influenced by the thematic content. Reptile Enclosure was primarily focused on claustrophobia and water. When I was around 8 or 9 years old I nearly drowned after walking on a frozen lake and falling through the ice, and the summer before I recorded Masochist, I had a really terrible case of pneumonia that for whatever reason wasn’t properly diagnosed for a month or so. I felt like I was going to drown in my own mucous. This track has a number of references to internal/external drowning. I had made an earlier recording inside of a fountain using contact mics, so we used that, as well as waterproof microphones I’d made to record some of the underwater screaming and flailing at towards the end of the track.

 Luke: All of the recording decisions we made were largely guided by the lack of time we had. Ryan was in Vermont and I knew that was gonna be our only chance to record anything face-to-face in a while so I drove down there and we had a day to buckle down and do whatever we could to create something. If you knew how much fun it was to make music with Ryan and Tom, you’d probably make the drive in a heartbeat yourself. That being said, I personally carried a lot of emotional pain into this recording and being on a time restriction really accented that at times. I was also extra pissy because my wife and Ryan’s fiance were binging on Pretty Little Liars together; if you’ve ever watched that show you’ll know what I’m talking about I think.

What are your thoughts about the finished piece?

 Ryan: Only that it contrasts very strongly from the experience of making it. Luke and I are very high energy when we’re working together, and it seemed like every insane idea we had was coming together in a way that worked well. The finished e.p. feels very cold and calculating, but writing it was the exact opposite.

 Luke: The final piece carries with it all of the memories from that day: good, bad, whatever. It also is a showcase to me for some direction(s) we may end up pursuing more fervently as we continue to make music and I find that really exciting. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ufomammut recently too so I’m hoping that we can come together for really punishing epic in the future.

Any plans for more releases?

 Ryan: I’m hoping we can have something together next year. We’ll see.

 Luke: Ryan said he’d be up here for Christmas and Tom said he’d be here for Halloween so I’m guessing that new material is inevitable in the near future. I’ve also been working on a number of different things alone up in the Frozen North that I’m hoping will get the Slavestate blessing soon. Turned a gas mask into a microphone so you know it’s eventually gonna be something cool!

Any other news regarding Robocop, Body Hammer or other projects?

 Ryan: This year we all put out a number of releases. Tom released e.p.s with Ultra//Negative and Bonethrone. Luke released the first Giantgiant album after working on it for 7 years, and I’m releasing the second Body Hammer album in December/early January. I am also finishing up a demo for a new power violence band called Abrasax that I started with Ryan Jobes (ex-Sutekh Hexen, Sunken Cathedrals, Cube ov Falsehood) and will be out via Vestige Recordings early next year, as well performing with Rhys Chatham and Night Worship in the next couple of weeks. Earlier this year I started mastering other bands starting with the Heroic Quartet/Ben Tinker + Tara Sreekrishnan split, and early in December I’m engineering a recording for Pink Gaze. I’m currently putting together a vhs of Robocop’s last show, along with some videos I made along the similar lines as Aftermathematics. I’m sure I’m missing important things.

Thanks again to both Ryan and Luke, who were paid in obscure pedals and DVD’s of terrible Bruno Mattei movies for their part in this interview. Here’s looking forward to more Slavestate 641A, and the highly anticipated ‘Body Hammer II’!

If for some ridiculous reason you haven’t downloaded one of the year’s best releases for free, do that here – GK#445