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Grave Concerns

Hello Tyler, how are things with you?

It's a beautiful, sunny day here in San Francisco, so how can I complain? Things are great, and only getting better. One new Informatik album just released, a new Battery Cage is weeks away, and a new AEC getting mastered as we speak. Things are definitely looking up, I'd say.

How are you feeling right now as you await the release of your new Battery Cage CD in August 2004?

Very anxious! I guess the paranoid side of me is still waiting for some kind of horrible disaster to occur just prior to the release date, but luckily nothing has so far. I will feel a great sense of relief when I'm actually holding the final shrink wrapped result in my hand. It was no easy task getting this release out the door, so it will be nice to be able to see it in it's final state.

How does it feel to be on the roster on Metropolis Records, and how did this come about?

Over the years, there have been plenty of haters that said we'd never make it. So to be honest, being asked to be a part of Metropolis Records feels very vindicating. It's great to be a part of the most well known label in the scene, and things can only get bigger and better from here! As for actually getting the deal, that was the result of bribery and a lot of ass-kissing!! Seriously though, making it happen was the result of a lot of conversations with various people at Metropolis, and of course, the Informatik connection didn't hurt either. The people there are all top-notch and are really behind everything they release, and really like the work that we've done. It's possible to have a real conversation with them about music, without it being a typical record label "how many copies have you moved today" kind of experience.

Can you give us a little more insight or preview of what to expect on the upcoming Battery Cage release 'World Wide Wasteland'?

Hmm, that's a tough question. There's a lot of club oriented stuff, but it's a considerably harder sound...not terribly "future-pop" oriented. We tried somewhat deliberately to stay away from that. There's also some more metal sounding tracks, I see the word "coldwave" used a lot in reviews we get, but I'm not sure it can be accurately summed up that way. I mean, we use guitars, but there's a more energetic trance type of groove on a lot of the songs. People who are curious to know what the record sounds like should definitely check out our website (www.batterycage.com) because all the songs are there in an edited form. Definitely the best place to get introduced to our work.

I know how much you love to tour and any show that you're going to be at is going to be intense, are there any Battery Cage shows coming up to promote the new release?

It's too early to say for sure, but it's not impossible to imagine. We have always been known as a band that plays live shows, as frequently as possible, and it would obviously be an awesome thing to be able to promote the album by doing a few shows. However, now that the band is equally divided between the east and west coasts, it's a lot more difficult to arrange that type of thing. Let's just say, if I can make the financial side of things work out, then we'll be doing it.

How long had you been working on 'World Wide Wasteland'?

Oh, you know, forever! A realistic time frame would be about three years. As most people know, I'm a perfectionist, and it takes me a long time to be satisfied with the way something sounds. There are plenty of songs that never make it past a certain point because I can't make them sound the way I think they should. Then of course, you have to take into consideration the "other projects" that I was working on over the course of the last several years, there were at least 4 or 5 of them. We've had a couple lineup changes over the years. Add to that the time it takes to have what passes as a 'personal life', and tour and all these other things, and blam. Where does the time go? The scary thing is that Metropolis wants us to deliver our next record next summer!! I guess we'll have to crank up the pace quite a bit!

What was one of your inspirations for writing and recording this new album?

My main thing was basically picking up the pieces of what had happened to the band from our inception in 93/94 up to 2000. My original band members had basically left the band, and I was not really firing on all cylinders, personally or professionally. Starting to write new material was very difficult at first, but as time went by, I was able to find my own voice. Bringing in new people to work on the record was also very important, because it's all too easy to suffer from "one-person-itis". So to finally arrive several years later, with what sounded and looked like an "actual record", that was really the main focus for us.

What do you hope for the overall response of this release?

Haha, well clearly world domination is at the top of my list!! I would be very happy to be able to continue to grow our fan base and continue to make a name for ourselves. Having Metropolis behind us now is only going to help that happen! I think the record is varied enough that a lot of different people will find something to like about it. I think there are probably one or two major club hits on there that should get us some attention, so it will be nice to able to walk into a club and hear our music getting some play again.

How do you manage to keep the Battery Cage sound different from your style heard in Informatik?

Oh, I consider it an absolutely critical matter! To me, it's very important that no two projects sound alike, otherwise, what's the point of having another project? It seems like a lot of bands put out releases that sound pretty similar to one another under different names, but I guess I never saw the point of that. Battery Cage is a considerably harder, darker, more metal sound than Informatik, and definitely more rooted in the EBM/Industrial traditions. Informatik on the other hand, is much more related to trance and synthpop, while still retaining a dark edge. I do think that there are some audible similarities, mostly in relation to melodic parts and song structures, but that's about the only thing that crosses the line. I'm not sure there's a way to prevent that really.

Your latest work is with Informatik, 'Re:Vision', how do you feel about that release?

I think it's a very solid album!! I think people are reacting well to it, although I think our attempt to experiment with the "album format" has thrown some people for a loop. We were trying to push boundaries and do something different, and I think we were successful at that! And I do think that the songs are surely amongst the strongest we've ever done. It's perceived as less cohesive than "Nymphomatik", but that was partly intentional. Overall, it was moving away from the sexual theme (at least somewhat), to focus on current political problems.

Why is "Saints and Sinners" your favorite from 'Re:Vision'?

Mostly due to the fact that it has a very unique sound! Certainly different from most other Informatik songs. It just has a great groove and it is one of my favorite tracks to perform live. It has a very "stadium-rock" kind of sound, and the music and vocals mesh together perfectly. The message of the song is also critical, especially given the current political climate we live in.

What was the biggest challenge working on 'Re:Vision'?

Finding ways to outdo ourselves!! Seriously, when "Nymphomatik" was finished, I listened to it constantly. I felt that it was surely the best album I had ever worked on. I tried to constantly evaluate things that could have been improved, or done differently, so that the next record would be better. Not to speak on Da5ids behalf, but I think his goal was to outproduce the last album also. There is certainly an audible improvement between those two records! At the time "Nymphomatik" was definitely the best album we could have made, and I think that "Re:vision" has taken that over at this point!

During Informatik's brief absence, what were you working on?

Finishing the Battery Cage record became a priority. Also under construction was an album by my other project AEC, which involved bringing in a new female vocalist, the lovely and mysterious Stacey P. Plus, I did a lot of remixes during that period, by lots of bands that are starting to take over the scene; Stromkern, Headscan, Iris, Terrorfakt, etc etc. Plenty of work to keep me busy. Plus I had the added grind of moving across the country, which is no small feat. Lots of activity happening in 2003, that's for sure.

Do you have a favorite remixer that you enjoy working with both for Informatik and Battery Cage?

Not really. I like doing remixes and I like having my work remixed as well, but every one is different. Some personal favorites would be the remixes that I worked on for Iris (done by Informatik), one for Stromkern (done by Battery Cage), and one for Pneumatic Detach (done by AEC). All the remixes we've gotten from other people have been really great and very unique.

Besides music, what do you enjoy doing?

Sex, drugs, and sequencing!! Mostly I am in the studio working on or listening to music, in fact, I listen to music whenever and wherever possible. I've been making an attempt, now that all my main album projects are complete, to really try and get out of the studio more. There have been months, literally, where I have stayed in the studio night after night working on music and not going out of the house at all, other than to eat. There's plenty of San Francisco, and California for that matter, to explore, so I'm slowly trying to do that more and more. One thing that I don't do too much anymore is go out to "industrial" clubs. While I do enjoy going to see live electronic music, I don't really get much out of regular dance nights. I try to do it every couple of months though, just to hear what people are spinning, but the challenge is to keep it from influencing things I might be working on. And of course, making sure to fit sex in on a daily basis. A challenge in itself, one might say.

What do you love about the west coast?

Man, where to even start? The weather is truly incredible, the food is really top notch (and especially geared towards vegan folks like myself), beautiful women abound, nothing to complain about!! Besides all that, the mental vibe of the west coast is really quite radically different from the east coast. It's difficult to explain, but it's considerably friendlier and more laid back. The political climate is certainly more to my liking.

What bands are you currently really into and could find in your CD player?

Spinning at the moment on my desk, is a band from Iceland called Mum. Other things that I've been playing a lot lately would be: Sigur Ros, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Monolake, Front 242, Brian Eno, Lycia, Soulwhirlingsomewhere, Goldfrapp, Ellen Allien, Iris, Mesh, Curve and Robert Rich. All of them are tremendous artists, and I've really enjoyed their work. I don't listen to a lot of "industrial" music these, particularly the harder EBM stuff, it really does nothing for me...too much formulaic macho bullshit.

Do you have a favorite show experience to share with us?

It's all such a blur, it's hard to recall any specific show in particular as being particularly a "favorite". I will say that the most recent Informatik show in LA was definitely one where I felt that we had completely locked in on the audience and the vibe was flowing freely between us and them. The best live experiences are the most sexual ones, in the sense that there is a transfer of energy between us and the audience and at the end we're all soaked in sweat and completely drained of energy. And we're usually quite out of our minds beforehand, so that helps break down the inhibitions a bit as well...

Do you have a favorite place to play live on the East Coast?

Not really. Boston, being our home town, is always a treat though. Every place is different, and there's a different vibe everywhere you go. We've always had a good time playing in Ithaca New York, really great scene, and really nice people there. NYC has always been a challenge, but we've had a lot of fun shows there.

How do you and David work together?

Mostly with our hands wrapped around each others necks! Haha, no, we actually get along great. We work seperately for the most part. When we did "Nymphomatik" we were working on different coasts, so we did all of the work except for mixdown via FTP. Generally, I will write a song, and send him an MP3, and he'll say change this or that, and maybe we'll go through a couple versions that way. Then I'll record the parts, then he'll take over, really fine tuning things and making them sound extra phat, changing parts when and where he needs to. Then he tracks and produces the vocals and any new parts that he's added. Then I come over and we mix down the song. Working seperately give us a little more headspace to hear what the other is doing. Not every song is like this though, sometimes we really do work in the same room at the same time.

Do you follow the current politics, if so do you have any views to share with us?

Unfortunately, I do follow global politics, very closely. I'll try to keep this answer brief, because I could literally go on for hours. It's important to state up front that this is my opinion alone, and I don't claim to speak for my bandmates, but it's quite clear that the world is seriously fucked, perhaps beyond the hope of any recovery. It seems obvious to me that we are living in the brief moments before the fall of the American Empire, a parallel that can be drawn virtually directly to the fall of Rome hundreds of years ago. The root cause of all of this can be pinned squarely on the very nature of corporate capitalism which, as an ideology, has only one aim: to swallow anything in it's path in order to make a profit, and to hell with whatever gets in its way that might object! Even now, while the US wages a war for oil based solely on economic grounds, there is another war being waged against all of humanity, an economic war in which the rich prosper and 99.9% of the rest of the world suffers as a direct result of greed for the almighty dollar. Corporations are the new leaders, politics are merely a cover for their movements and ambitions. How long will it be before 99% of the world population is enslaved to serve the remaining 1%? Suffice to say, this answer would extend well beyond the scope of this interview, so I'll just leave it at that.

Have you noticed how fans of Battery Cage react to your work with Informatik?

I think that there are some minor differences, mostly in that Informatik fans tend to be more into dancefloor type of music, and Battery Cage fans tend to be more into heavier types of music. But really, it's a small enough scene overall that people tend to be aware of both projects and I like to think that there's enough of me in each one to make people interested in either.

What project do you feel more close too, Informatik or Battery Cage?

It's definitely Battery Cage. That project has been my home for a decade now, and is definitely a place where I can experiment the most. Informatik was Da5ids baby for a number of years before I came along, and when I joined up I wanted very specific parameters to work with, a self imposed narrow focus of what the sound "should be". Plus, Da5id is the producer, the ultimate arbiter of what stays and what goes, which I consider to be a good thing. With Battery Cage, the responsibilities are more personal. It's also a much more interactive project, with Josh, Paul, Roland and myself all taking active roles in songwriting and production as well as various other creative tasks, like directing and editing our videos. It's a nice yin/yang approach to the process. Being able to work on Informatik is a nice break when I'm stuck on a particular Battery Cage or AEC song, and vice versa.

Anything else you would like to let Grave Concern Readers know about your current projects?

Sure, first off, keep your ears open for "World Wide Wasteland" when it arrives on August 24th. Secondly, the new AEC album "sex.drug.sequence" will find its way out there soon...for people who like downtempo club music with female and male vocals, that should definitely do the job. Also, there is a new project I'm working on now with Ned Kirby from Stromkern...that will pretty much demand a new audience completely, since it's abstract hiphop, not at all industrial, I'm afraid. Da5id and I are in the initial planning stages of a North American tour, but its far too early to say whether or not it will happen. There's a new band from LA that I'm working with called Halotek, should be pretty cool. And of course, we have begun working on a new Battery Cage album for 2005...but don't expect "World Wide Wasteland Pt.2". Already we've realized that we might not crack 100bpm, everything is very dark and slow and moody, with a heavy emphasis on emotions. It's way too early to say where it's headed, but I think it will be very very different. So, that's it for me! Thanks for the interview!!