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Elektric Transfusion

November 1998

ET: When and how did Battery Cage begin? How did you come up with that name?

TN: Battery Cage started back in 93., but didn't really start to take shape until Jeremy and AJ joined up with me. So I guess we started working together in mid-94, working on some early demos and stuff like that. We had some common musical interests, and wanted to explore the technology behind it and try making some noise of our own. Things have pretty much improved over time, and are in a pretty good place right now. As for the name, when we started out we were very angry political little kids. Jeremy is vegan, I'm vegetarian, and essentially, the relevance to the name is a battery cage is a device used to store animals before they are used for food consumption. Back then we were really trying to make a pro-vegetarian statement, well, a lot of other political statements as well, but now we've kind of backed off on that.

ET: What are your primary influences?

TN: I guess that's pretty subjective. I guess the three of us are really united by our interest in electronic music, although we all like different stuff. Jeremy is really into hip-hop and rap, and AJ likes a lot of death metal kind of stuff and hip-hop. Personally, I like a lot of techno and old school industrial music, from Throbbing Gristle and SPK to Freaky Chakra and Juno Reactor. When it comes to the music that we make, we like to use a lot of weird, kind of artificial sounds and mechanical noises, stuff we sample off movies and outside on the streets and all that. So I guess that would count as an influence, in a sense I'm really into weird movies and stuff, which would count as an influence as well.

ET: When did you get into electronic music?

TN: Well, being a little older than the others, I got into listening to electronic stuff back in 88-89, around the time Skinny Puppy put out Rabies. I think that, and Ministry's Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste were the first two "electro/industrial" type albums I ever bought. It just sort of continued on from there. Even though it doesn't bother Jeremy and AJ that much, I really sort of hate guitar music. Not all of it, but anything like "rock and roll" is out of the question. I like some metal and stuff, as long as it's got some electronic stuff in there. Otherwise I'm really not interested. But also, I'm not into that whole new "electronica" thing either I really hate the Chemical Brothers and all that shit. It's so commercial and boring, who cares about it? It's VH-1 fashion show music, really bad really boing beer commercial music.

ET: Your appearance on "Boston Elektro 101" was one of the strongest on the CD. Now that SINless has ceased to exist, how is finding a new label going?

TN: Thank you very much! I like that CD a lot, there's some really good tracks on there. The Informatik, Sektor 7G, Grenadier, and Institute of Technology Tracks are really good. Since SINless has closed, we've shopped the CD around a little bit, but haven't gotten a deal or anything yet. We've tried some of the labels that we thought would be best for us, but they all had various reasons for not signing us, be it disinterest, or lack of funds or whatever.We'll get someone to put it out eventually. It's not really holding us back or anything, we're already starting pre-production on our new stuff. Hopefully, we'll get it out... I'm pretty confident about it.

ET: How did you meet Da5id Din and begin working for SINless? What were your duties there?

TN: Well, Da5id and I met after he approached us, following a gig we did with Sleep Chamber. AJ got his number and I called up one night to see if he wanted to hang out. He wanted to hear some of our stuff which I brought over and which eventually got included on the B.E. 101 CD. Much further down the road, after returning from my European tour with Sleep Chamber, Da5id called me and told me that he was looking to take SINless to a new level, and wanted to know if I wanted to come work with him on growing the label. My last job has basically screwed me from being on the road, so I said "why now?". While I was there, we were mostly planning the BC release and looking for new acts. Ultimately, Da5id made the decision not to continue the label as a "signing entity", so we closed down. So, the BC record did not come out and ad space that was reserved for that release was used for other purposes. No hard feelings with Da5id at all, we continue to be extremely close friends.

ET: What kind of gear o you use?

TN: We prefer analogue synths to the digital stuf. Mostly older stuff like Sequential [that's probably my favorite synth company], and Roland. We don't really use any of those "new analogue" synths like Nord Lead or anything. Not that there's anything wrong with those machines, but we like the older noisy, more random type stuff. And of course, we use a lot of effects, usually older stuff that has a more unique shitty sound. Old reverbs and distortion units are usually just as good as the newest stuff, they just generally have a crappy signal to noise which doesn't bother me too much. There are ways around that, and we're pretty comfortable working with that stuff. The newest pieces in our studio are the things that need to be as clean and new as possible; like our mixer [Behringer], samplers [Akai and Roland], and our computer [PowerMac G3].

ET: When you play live, how much can you actually, physically perform?

TN: Well, we don't really try to replicate anything that already exists in the song. Mostly, AJ handles the vocals, while I handle the traditional keyboard duties. This could be considered anything from doubling a bass or string part, to adding noise or effects over a part. Jeremy handles our mix from front of house and has a Sequential Pro-One that he throws noise in with. We let the DAT handle the playback of all the sequenced parts, like the loops, drums, and bass parts, and we just add stuff to the mix live. The way I look at it is: why recreate the exact version that exists on the disc already? If people have heard it already, they want something a little different than what they've heard. Because it's on tape, there isn't any way for us to make drastic changes, but to avoid boring people, we try to add weird variable sounds that can change from show to show. People have asked us if certain songs were new, even though we play them every show, just because we change the overlaid sounds so much. We try not to repeat ourselves from show to show. Maybe this would change if we were to tour, but since we don't play out that much, we can afford to come up with new parts everytime.

ET: Do you have any time of concept of stage show, or do you try to do a high energy performance?

TN: We try to change the look of what we do every time, until we hit something we feel really good about. I still don't think we've come up with a real concept or theme for our shows, but we make up for that by sweating profusely, jumping around and smashing stuff. We get a lot of energy going up on stage, and usually it's reflected by the audience. We've gotten mosh pits going that would make any hardcore band envious, which is a tough thing to do for electronic music in Boston. Sometimes, you're playing to a small room, and people aren't comfortable dancing or whatever, but you can still see them moving a bit, and you know it's hitting them.

ET: Who are some of the bands you've played with? Any interesting or horrifying show stories?

TN: Well, since we're one of a handful of bands in Boston that play live industrial music, we typically get most of the shows by default. We've played with a lot of bands: Sleep Chamber, Diatribe, Mentallo & The Fixer, Covenant, EBN, Crocodile Shop, lots of local bands [whether they're goth, techno or whatever] . The last show we did was last week with SMP from Seattle. As for interesting/horrifying well, we've certainly had our share of equipment failure on stage, anything from drum kits breaking to total loss of power [which really sucks when you're playing to a DAT]. I'd say that the best and the worst shows were the ones we did with Covenant. They were on tour in the US and Da5id was acting as tour coordinator for New England. So we got the show in Boston, which was totally amazing. We actually jumped out in the crowd and jumped around. The sound was amazing and we looked and played great. Then the next night we played in NYC at the Batcave; went on at 5:30am, played for 35 people and generally sucked. We'd been awake for too long, had gotten fucked over by the club management, and were generally in a pissy mood. People seemed into the show, and we met some cool people there, but it was a pretty poor performance. All the bands we've played with have been pretty cool, especially SMP and Covenant.

ET: Have you done any remixes?

TN: Nothing that's been released. We've got pretty busy schedules with work and all, so we don't really have a lot of time to remix other people. Some people that are slated to hand over their tracks are Din_Fiv, Grenadier, and Institute of Technology. We're going to be working on some cover tracks, AJ wants to do a version of Total Eclipse of The Heart, and I'm going to be doing a cover of Rockwells "Somebody's Watching Me" we'll see how those turn out, they'd probably be pretty fun to do at shows.

ET: What is in Battery Cage's immediate future?

TN: Right now we're busy getting our studio setup working [we've just moved], and everything. New material is getting worked on, we've got some interesting new stuff. Plus, we're always busy doing our side projects. I've almost completed the new Sleep Chamber CD, Jeremy's almost finished wrapping up his hip hop project, and I've got a couple other projects in various stages of development. For now, we're mostly trying to get shows lined up for the rest of this year, and trying to put the album out.

ET: Thanks for your time, but I'm dying to ask one last question. Has it been difficult trying to compete with The New Kids On The Block's popularity in Boston? (Word up, B-Town!!!)

TN: Well, we don't have crowds of screaming girls lining up outside our apartment throwing their panties and holding signs up for us yet, but hey, we're drinking milk, and working out, so I guess it's possible for the future seriously though, I've hung out with Jordan from NKOTB a couple of times, he's a super nice guy. He's actually got a new record coming out, though I doubt that this will affect our audience too much in any event, it all boils down to the fact that they've got a star on the sidewalk in front of Tower Records, and we don't yet.