March 2, 2003
Brian: Battery Cage has a new album you've been working on, World Wide Wasteland, for the past couple of years. Can you tell us how far the album has come along?
Tyler: We started production on that album back in 1999, and it's obviously taken us forever to finish. We had a lot of other projects that we were working on over that time, obviously the Informatik record that I did was pretty time consuming, taking about a year and a half. I have another project called AEC that's been kind of a nightmare getting that finished; it's been up and down but that's almost completed at this point, as well. I had another ambient project pretty much finished up before that band sort of broke up. But the past six months to a year, we've been pretty solid on trying to finish this record up and I think we've finally finished it about a month or a month and a half ago. It's out in "mastering land" getting finished up right now. We did a complete single for the track "Ecstasy" that we wrote, which is basically 4 different versions of that, all remixes we did ourselves plus a B-side. That's going to be hitting college stations pretty soon; Tommy T. (of DSBP Records and Promotions) is going to be handling the promotion on that which is cool. We should have the album back in our hands this week. From there it's just a matter of promoting it, getting the single out there, getting the record out there. We'll just have to see how it goes.
Brian: Battery Cage is one of the longer-standing electro-industrial artists in the Boston area. Is there any label interest coming your way or is this the album you'll be shopping around to labels?
Tyler: We've got some pretty significant interest from some really well-known American industrial label, I don't want to mention at the moment (laughs), in case we jinx anything.
Josh: The usual suspects.
Tyler: They seem pretty interested in putting the disc out, which is cool. With the Informatik record doing really well, they're obviously interested in furthering that and keeping that momentum happening with other projects. They've got Din_Fiv, David Din's other project, so we'll just have to see how that goes. We're talking to some people in Europe, too. They're a little more difficult to deal with, being in Europe for one thing, and the language thing is always an issue. This record has got a lot of guitars, and is a lot different from our first record (Product), which was very electronic and was very Skinny Puppy, Lassigue Bendthaus-style. This one is a lot more guitar-oriented so with Europeans it's just tough because they like very electronic, VNV Nation-esque, futurepop stuff which is the big thing there right now. We have elements of that on our record, but it's not what I'd consider a futurepop disc.
Josh: We hit them with everything we have.
Tyler: Yeah, there's a lot of guitars... it's just a matter of convincing them (the European label) that it's the right thing to do. Some of the labels like Dependent have started to go outside the futurepop sort of mold having created it with VNV, Covenant, and even Velvet Acid Christ to a certain extent. They're picking up newer bands like Babyland, who are very outside that kind of sound and this band Sulpher who is more metallic...
Brian: They're (Sulpher) actually the back up band for Gary Numan...
Tyler: Yeah, there you go... so Dependent is starting to open up a little bit. Things are looking relatively decent for us there. It would be good to have a European partner.
Brian: Everything right now, at least coming out of Europe sounds like Apop and VNV, or very trancey...
Tyler: Right, everything is four on the floor beats and very trancey, which is cool... it's certainly what people want to hear in a nightclub environment but I do think that there's a pretty substantial sector of the fanbase of industrial music that are either over it already or are just looking to get some kind of diversity and right now that really seems like the big craze. There are a few people who are doing things that are different, Stromkern comes to mind, they're an excellent band, they have elements of that kind of sound but they're very unique in the way they present it. SMP have stayed consistently original over the years. They improve with every record and have their own thing going. Labels like DSBP, case in point, they do very underground stuff, very different, harder stuff that's really cool. And then you have the powernoise thing which has really picked up. The New England area has a lot of good bands in that department. Pneumatic Detach comes immediately to mind. It will be interesting to see where we (Battery Cage) fit in there because we don't really have that homogenous sound that has developed. It's going to be too rock for some and not futurepop enough for others but hopefully it will hit right down the middle where the futurepop kids will like the beats because they're very danceable and the kids who don't like that stuff will like the guitar-driven material or the slower more metal songs we've done. Most of the feedback we get at shows has been really positive; people tend to be really into it and I think having a good, well-developed live show has really helped us out a lot.
Brian: You guys have certainly come a long way since the first time I saw Battery Cage back in 1997...
Tyler: In 1997, it was a totally different band... very electronic, synths on stage, relying a lot on the backing tape. Now we rely a lot less on the tape. Of course it handles a lot of the mechanical stuff that we wouldn't want to sit there and play, but we have a live bass player, a live keyboard player, a live drummer...
Brian: You're basically an industrial-rock band now...
Tyler: At the same time we try not to fall into the trappings of a "rock cliché" and I think we've somewhat managed to avoid that.
Brian: As long as there's no choreographed jumps or obligatory head-bobbing...
Tyler: No, I don't think you're going to see any synchronized air guitar.
Brian: It's not a Judas Priest show or anything like that...
Josh: But you will in the video we're shooting now though, it's very funny.
Tyler: We've been doing a lot of video work lately for our stuff. We're shooting a video right now that's supposed to be a parody of the creation of electronic music because the perception in the mid to late ?90s was that if you were doing electronic music you would just go in, hit a button a song comes out and you just put it on an album. Which is definitely not what happens... especially not for us. It's taken us four years to get our album done and we've obviously been busting our asses on it, so we're parodying ourselves in the video. It's still early in the process so we'll have to see where it goes and if it's as funny as we think it is and if it will get across to other people. It'll be over the top enough that people would have no choice but to see the humor in it, at least.
Brian: You mentioned before that Battery Cage has gone through some stylistic changes from 1997 when you guys were purely electro to today with you guys being a total industrial rock band. How did that change come along?
Tyler: That change was sort of gradual. We had a totally different lineup a few years ago when I first started the band. There were two other people involved and over time, Jeremy, who was our other keyboard player and programmer, left the band to do his own thing. He got more into the hip-hop thing and has his own project. He's still doing stuff... I'm not sure what he's doing these days, but his stuff has always been great so I'm sure he's doing really well for himself. AJ, our former singer, over time became a little too hard to control and became too much to deal with. He ended up being asked to leave and I've never heard from him again, so I don't know what he's doing these days. Josh had been with us as our sound engineer both live and in-studio so it made sense for him to come into the band. So he started working on tracks with me. We'd done some shows just the two of us, like this one out in Das Bunker in LA, which was not one of our greatest moments on stage. It's hard playing in a powernoise venue when you're not a powernoise act and the crowd really let us know; they were not too down with the rock-thing we were trying to do. It was better than it could have been (laughs). But it still didn't feel like a band or as strong as our previous shows. So we brought in Paul Savio, our current keyboard player, Roland Adams, who was our live sound guy, is now on board as our drummer, and our bass player Crazz who used to be in Big Catholic Guilt. They were once a staple in the Boston Industrial scene for years and years, he definitely fits our rock-oriented thing anyway. The stuff we were working on in the studio was getting more aggressive and more rock-oriented with the guitars, while shedding the Skinny Puppy comparisons. Our older material, people really couldn't dance to it, so there was really no club awareness of what we were doing. It didn't have guitars at the time, so labels like (the now defunct) 21st Circuitry and Reconstriction weren't going to touch it. It was difficult to get people to pay attention to us. People liked what they heard when they heard it, but no one was interested in releasing our first record. The label we had been on, Sinless Records, went out of business so we were left holding the bag with that one. The stuff that we started working on after that was definitely more rock, but also dance music because we knew it was important to get more awareness in clubs. As we realized that, we needed to make our live shows more aggressive, and up to the standards that we had. It just sort of evolved from there, and now we can literally walk onto a stage and play our set from start to finish with no hitches at all just because we've put a lot of work into our live show. We sought to make improvements in other areas, too. Back when we were a three-piece, we really didn't have a theme on stage, we didn't have a consistent look and feel. Now we've got a very organized look... we use projection video in our show which is critical in keeping people's attention these days. Everybody is so "televisionized" that it just makes more of an impression.
Brian: It's total sensory overload.
Tyler: Yeah, especially with "Mirror Image Enemy" which you may know from the CybOnetix 2001 compilation (on DSBP). The video for that onstage is a camera that we take and point it directly at the audience and project the audience onto the screen behind us so that they are literally watching themselves while we're playing; making them part of the show and more important to the process of the show rather than having a bunch of guys on the stage. It really does tend to break down the barrier between us and the audience. I mean, you've seen a million bands and you know how difficult it is with so many bands that get up and ignore the audience, not caring that they're even there, they hit play on the tape, play some keyboards, do the vocals, get off the stage and the show is over. I don't think the audience deserves that kind of treatment and I think it's really important to give them as much input on the process as possible. Otherwise, you don't know if the energy is there, especially in Boston which, although there have been improvements, Boston crowds just don't like to dance typically to a live show. They typically stand there with their arms crossed. And when you go to other cities, it's really different. Like in Montreal the people there go out of their minds, in Toronto, they're more restrained but you go a place like Ithaca, New York where we've played a bunch of times. And you think to yourself, "what the hell is in Ithaca, New York?" Honestly, there's not a lot, but the people who are there love the music and are totally into the scene and they go insane whenever we're there and I'm not just saying that because it's us, but I think they're more passionate about the music and they don't feel that "oh no, somebody is watching me I don't really want to express myself with how into this I really am, I have to be cool and pay no attention to what's going on." Boston has made a lot of improvements, although there are some areas that they can use a little work. It's tough especially when you see huge bands come through here. It's tough unless you're a band like Covenant or Funker Vogt or some huge, popular, danceable band, people don't really know what to do. So I think, by forcing them to be involved it gets the job done. It's a little manipulative, I suppose. It does get the crowd more interested in what's happening on stage.
Josh: I think that's one of the main reasons we've been pushing to get more aggressive in our stage presence... is to beat ourselves up to entertain the audience.
Tyler: We put that ("Mirror Image Enemy") right in the middle of our set so if the audience is just standing around before that song, once it starts they see how ridiculous they look with this high-impact music happening and they're just standing there in front of it. It literally forces them to move because they don't want to sit there and look like they don't care. It's been pretty effective and it's one of our main things that we do. And this video we're working on now parodies the process of making electronic music and the concept of being a "rock star" in this genre of music which is virtually impossible given that it's such a small fanbase for this style of music. It's the kind of thing where we're not afraid to make fun of ourselves and how ridiculous this whole rock-star mentality can be. I've certainly taken my fair share of "oh he just thinks he's a big rock star, egomaniac" accusations, which are true to a certain extent. But you have to be to make into this business because the music industry will grind you into dust if you don't give it everything you have. We put it up there to make people laugh at us and to show them we're not taking it too seriously and that we can have a good time with it. Whether or not it comes across that way is all up to the editing process (laughs).
Brian: What track are you doing the video for?
Tyler: It's a song called "Anti-Angel" which is going to be on the new record. Depending on how the video goes we may do another promo single. I was able to DJ at Man Ray the other night and played it and it went really well. Nobody had heard it before in a club environment and I was actually surprised and impressed that people were dancing to it... the floor was packed for a pretty lengthy set where I just sort of masturbated my own material all over people for like an hour (laughs). I couldn't believe that people were dancing to stuff that they had never heard because in Boston, people are comfortable with what they know, so to play an hour-long set of stuff that nobody has heard in any venue or radio station and have them move to it was pretty impressive. We'll have to see how it goes and maybe we'll do a single for that.
Brian: I'm suspecting that the video will be on batterycage.com...
Tyler: Yep. We're going to have the video done by May, hopefully. It's definitely a more involved video. We want to get more into doing videos... this one has a cast and a crew. It's a pretty high-concept shoot for what we wanted to do. I figure we can shoot it in a couple of weeks and get it up on the site but we'll have to see how long that takes. We'd been getting complaints about our website for a while whether it was from being down or inactive, so we locked Josh in a room and wouldn't let him out for about six weeks until the back-end was done. Now the site has been overhauled and revamped. It's so much better now than it's ever been; we've got a ton of stuff up there, like some videos, some live videos, a bunch of MP3s from our first album, every remix we've ever done is up there, so this video will make an appearance there as soon as it's done. It's a lot easier for us to keep it up to date now especially with the recording process for the new record being done. For a band of our size and for the style of music we do, the internet is key as far as promotion goes to get people's awareness up.