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Virus! Magazine

You started with Battery Cage in the mid 90's. How does it feel these days when you think about your first steps with B.C.? And how do you feel about the recent release of "Product" as reissue, having in mind that this album originated with other bandmembers then?

It's definitely not something I think about too much. There was a lot of growing up and mental pain associated with that period of time for me, and I try to focus more on the present and things I'm working towards in the future. We wanted to reissue the "Product" album as a sort of snapshot of where we came from, since almost no one had really had a chance to hear it when we originally finished it. I'm proud of the work that we did back then, but it's not an album I listen to very often! Jeremy has been very busy working on commercial and underground hiphop, he's got a very impressive career going. I'm sure he's lost all interest in Battery Cage and the industrial scene. AJ vanished after he left the band, and I've not heard nor seem him ever since.

I read you came out of the punk scene then so how did it happen electronic music caught you when you started with Battery Cage?

I really liked the energy of punk, but there were other problems, like getting bandmates to take the music seriously. It was a lot of fun to do crazy live shows where we would smash up the venue and run away from the police at the end of the show, but no one seemed to take any interest in recording albums or practicing. I started using electronics so that I wouldn't have to rely on other people to make music...eventually I found Jeremy and AJ, and things really 'clicked'...we became Battery Cage and that's kind of how it went.

When Battery Cage - let's call it that way - split up after the "Product" workings, you started touring with Boston's Sleep Chamber and helping out Da5id of Din_fiv/Inform├Ątik. How did you experience those collaborations?

It was a weird time for me, but it was a lot of fun too. Sleep Chamber was a really wonderful and really terrible time, I learned a lot about what to do (lots of sex!), and what NOT to do (heroin!) while on tour! Unfortunately, none of the music that I wrote for that band ever made it onto any records (that I know of!). But it was a blast doing the tours and things like that.

Working with Da5id has always been a pleaure, and I've learned a great deal making those records. We started working together back in 1997 and still work together now, so obviously we work together very well!

When listening to "World Wide Wasteland" I noticed your songs throughout the record are quite powerful, groovy and with some great melody toppings. How would you personally describe Battery Cage's trademarks in general? What's a "must" when it comes to songwriting, and how would you define a "good song"?

Thanks! I'm not sure that there are any trademarks that I could really point out, other than my voice sounding a certain way. We strive to change the music constantly, and we're very concious to avoid repeating the same thing over and over...for example, "Product" sounds very different from "WWW", and "WWW" sounds very different from what we're working on right now. On "WWW", I would say that we were very aware of the importance of dance club play, and we made a very danceable record. Our next one will be a lot different from that. We just always strive for a really BIG sound when we're mixing.

As far as songwriting, I think it's most important that you give people a good "hook" to get into...kind of like pop music, but of course with a harder edge. We tried hard to focus on writing 'good songs', which means giving people a strong melody, and an emotional sound that they can relate to...

End of the 90's you had a bad time with drugs. How would you retrospectively consider this experience with regard to the influence on you as person? Have you ever thought of, if "World Wide Wasteland" could be different if you weren't gone through this?

Well, "WWW" would surely be different sounding, and it would definitely have been finished back in 2000 or something, if it weren't for all the drugs, haha! Seriously, I think the biggest damage from being seriously hooked on drugs was just the loss of time. I didn't really do any serious music for 2 or 3 years, other than some random bits and pieces here and there...nothing too listenable. Actually, when we were going through the archives to get the "Product" remastering done, we came across a bunch of stuff that I was working on in that period. It's kind of interesting, but it needs a lot of work. Maybe someday we'll have time to go through and edit it into something interesting. There's hours and hours of loops, sequences, samples...just random things that never quite synced up to anything.

For my personal opinion, and I certainly don't speak for everyone in the band, I think drugs are an important tool in the creative process. I don't really have any problems saying that most of the initial writing phases of our records have certainly been chemically enhanced, one way or another. Drugs have a long and glorious history across all artforms; film, painting, music, writing, and some of my favorite authors and musicians have certainly been known to enjoy using various drugs to create their work.

So, while I may have taken things way too far a couple of years ago, things are much more under control now!

The title "World Wide Wasteland" as well as the (political and personal) lyrics on the album are not very optimistic. Would you say, you're generally more of a pessimistic person? Was it aching or relieving when you wrote lyrics about personal problems?

I'd agree that the lyrical direction is not very optimistic. I try to keep my heart and mind open, and I do believe that generally people have good intentions...however, this has been proven wrong for me many times. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and a 2nd or 3rd chance, but sometimes people are just out to take advantage of you, and I've certainly had that experience. The more personal tracks on "WWW" are always very cathartic for me...I can sort of express how I really feel about a situation, or a person, and not have to deal with a direct confrontation, which often just gets messy and ugly; I've learned these ways to direct my emotions in a less painful direction.

Our next record is going to be very difficult for me. It's incredibly personal, and it's really tearing my heart out while I'm working on it. I haven't even started working on lyrics or vocals, just the music...I'm sort of dreading what will happen when I actually have to start singing again. It won't be political at all, but there will be some very raw and exposed emotions...

How's your personal feeling regarding the lyrics, do the listeners pay attention or do they just concentrate on the music?

Generally in industrial music, I think the lyrics are pretty dumb...always some heavily distorted voice going on about "war and robots blearrrrrrrgh". I mean, I certainly don't usually pay attention that sort of thing. I honestly have no idea what people are listening to in our music...I didn't publish the lyrics to the record anywhere, because I felt like "if people want to sing along, then they need to pay attention". I don't use a lot of distortion, so it can't be too hard. I'm not saying that my lyrics are really that great, but they will get better on the next record I think. Personally, when I listen to other bands, I tend to listen to the music a lot more, which is often difficult since I tend to start breaking down the songs I hear into musical parts and programming terms...it does make it difficult to enjoy music sometimes.

When I listen to Battery Cage, the music spreads a special sci-fi feel, I can imagine your music in movies of that genre. Are you influenced by movies in any way?

I came very close to going to film school, so I would definitely say YES! I've always sort of taken an interest in making music that could be part of a soundtrack for a film...so there are a lot of songs on the record that reflect that, particularly "Statemachine" or "Deadmorning". One of the main things has always been for our tracks to sound really as huge as possible...

9) If you would have the possibility to shoot a movie about "World Wide Wasteland", how would it look like, what would the content be? Would you choose a certain director?

Honestly, I'm not sure that record is really worth a movie. I think the record we're working on now is a lot more cinematic than "WWW" was. "WWW" was, to me, more a collection of potential dance singles than a cohesive album...but perhaps I've just changed my tastes over time. The record we're working on right now is called "A Young Persons Guide To Heartbreak", and I think it would be perfect for someone like David Cronenberg, or maybe Mark Romanek to do a film of it. It's more of a consistent dark and sexual emotional flow throughout the record...it's a lot less focused on "club sounds". I mean, how interesting would a movie be with a soundtrack entirely focused on club songs? Probably not that interesting, I think.

I read about Battery Cage live shows being quite exciting. Can you describe B.C. on stage? Any bad/great gig you remember specially? Any plans to tour (overseas) in the near future?

The live show is a big thing for us, because we are a real band, not just a bunch of laptop toting nerds that stand around twisting knobs. We've definitely got a lot of energy onstage, live drums, live guitars, keys, vocals...plus the video wall, etc. It's pretty loud and sweaty, the way a good rock show should be! No shows really stand out as particularly good or bad, they're generally always a good time, except when we're confronted with technical problems at the venue (bad sound, underpowered PA, etc). We're getting ready to completely redesign the live shows, once the new record is complete we'll be doing a tour, at least here in the US. We'd love to get over to Europe (the sooner the better, really), but it's a bit pricey when you've got to move a drumkit and a bunch of guitar amps and synths. There will defintely be a tour sometime this year though.

You've been remixing different bands like Stromkern, SMP, Prospero, Solitary Experiments, Violent Entity, Injury. Do you like remix exchanges or is it "just a job" for you? What's your aim when you do a remix?

I wouldn't say it's just a job, we do enjoy it, provided we have the time to do it... which is becoming harder and harder these days. Remixing is a lot of fun, but I'm sort of losing interest in it lately. Usually it gives us a chance to experiment with some new type of technique or equipment in the studio...and that's a lot of fun. What sucks is when we deliver a really excellent mix and a band doesn't release it, that's pretty annoying. Our usual goal is to make a dancefloor track that will do well in clubs, but lately I think we're less concerned with that, and more into doing some experimental stuff we might not otherwise get to do, since it may not fit into the context of Battery Cage. It sort of depends on the track, our relationship to the artist, and what their expectations might be.

With your personal view as a musician, what would be your definition of "success" when releasing a record and in general?

I'm not sure the word "success" is really something I can afford to think about at this moment, I think it makes you lazy to try to consider your career a success. I sort of look at success as a very distant point on a very crooked path. Eventually, when enough people like our work and are paying for our music (not downloading it or copying cd's), maybe we'll know we've "made it". Until then, the challenge is to keep winning the hearts and minds one person at a time! I'm very happy with the work we've done and the goals we've achieved, but I can't ever stop and rest, and I wouldn't want to anyway.

Are you currently involved in any projects apart from Inform├Ątik/Din_fiv? Are you still doing AEC? What kind of music is AEC?

At the moment, Informatik is on hiatus. We released "Re:vision" this year, so we're taking a break for a while. My AEC project has completed a new record, and I'm shopping it around at the moment. It's more synthpop/electro sounding, with male and female vocals. I think the record we just finished (called "sex.drug.sequence") is probably one of the best records I've done. Stacey, who's the female voice on the record, is incredibly talented and a pleasure to work with. We're talking about doing another record once the next Battery Cage record is wrapped up, or at least a little closer to the end. The only other project that I'm really working on right now is Stromkern, doing a lot of live shows and helping out here and there with the new album. I'll tell you, the new Stromkern record is going to really be amazing, and I think is really going to prove that they're the new "big thing".

What's your opinion about the "new entertainment playground" for the young target group: mobile phones including photo opportunities and the ring tone madness going on right now?

It's a frivolous distraction from reality, nothing more. People should pay more attention to the world around them, and less on having dark electro ringtones on their phone.

When it happened with 9/11 many band felt inspired to write a song about this disaster. Now that the flood came over Asia, do you feel it would be an inspiration to deal with this catastrophe in some upcoming lyrics?

It's funny, because 9/11 brought so many knee-jerk negative reactions. We wrote "Statemachine" as a sort of voice of dissent, to try to give voice to the people in Afghanistan who had absolutely NOTHING to do with what happend in NYC. The whole event of 9/11, in my opinion, was really inspiring in a political sense because the entire episode was immediately manipulated by a bunch of rich white people to oppress other countries, specifically countries like Iraq and Afghanstan who are certainly important players on the geo-political stage. The tsunami, although it was a terrible tragedy, doesn't give me any sense of political outrage, and therefore it's less inspiring to me personally. As it is, I'm really trying to move away from politicizing my music and lyrical approach, I'm really intent on focusing on more immediate emotional connections with the listeners.

How do you consider the current industrial/electro scene? What do you think of the return of several "legends" within the recent past, for example bands like Skinny Puppy, Klinik, Front 242, Insekt, McCarthy from Nitzer Ebb, Front Line Assembly?

To be honest, I don't really listen to much inudstrial/electro music, nor does anyone else in the band. I try to stay current as far as knowing who's "hot" and selling records, but that's about it. I mean, I couldn't point out a Feindflug song at a club, for example. I just think that about 90% of what's happening right now is really boring and derivative and doesn't really excite me. Everyone is sort of trying to sound exactly like the same three bands (VNV Nation if you're future pop, Suicide Commando if you're dark electro, Velvet Acid Christ if you're more old school), and it's incredibly boring. Really, I don't even go clubbing anymore because it seems like no one gives a shit about musical innovation or interesting sounds. And don't even get me started on these musical abortions like powernoise...just horrible stuff that I cannot stand.

2004 did certainly bring back a lot of old bands that were important a long time ago. I think in some cases it worked better than others...Front 242 released their best album since Front by Front (Pulse!), and Skinny Puppy made a great record, even Ministry made a really fantastic album! I wasn't too into the Fixmer/McCarthy album, and I was never a fan of Klinik or Insekt or any of those styles. The FLA reunion album was a mixed bag, some good stuff, some not-so-good stuff.

What are your hopes & dreams for the (near) future?

I want to finish the next Battery Cage album within the next few months! Hopefully we'll be able to tour for that, and maybe do some European dates. I'm looking forward to getting the new Stromkern record out and doing some more touring for that record. I'd like to see the AEC record in stores within the next 6 months. Basically, I just want to keep working hard and making awesome records. I think 2005 will be a very important year for Battery Cage, and it's already going great. I think after we finish the next record, I'd like to take some time off and party with Paris Hilton!!! She's my kind of girl!!