Phoenix Always Rises: How did you guys come together?
Matt: A dirty hole-in-the-wall venue, a rusty metal dumpster out back and two strung -out rejects comparing sewn on patches and half-inch buttons. Yeah, it was your typical spooky kid love at first sight story. I was supporting a long-time friend’s music project, The Minus Men and Gabe was opening as Hindu Pez. It was my first introduction to Hindu Pez and I not only liked what I heard but knew something far more sinister was in store for us both just around the bend.
Gabe: We lived together for a while. There was always talk about doing something, musically, as Matt has a lot of poetry he’d written over the years. I hear this sort of talk from a lot of people I know and I tend to hope that they prove that they want to do something bad enough that I don’t have to chase them for it. If you’re not willing to buckle down and work with me in a small capacity, how will you ever do something bigger-scale? Matt passed my silent test and proved himself very quickly. He writes interesting lyrics and they complement my ugly style of programming-n-guitar. It also helps that we like a lot of the same music, the same type of women, absurd video games, bad horror flicks, and have a strong love for booze-n-chemicals-n-chaos.
Phoenix Always Rises: You covered Marilyn Manson’s “1996” and Ministry’s “So What?” for this E.P. What Made you choose those 2 songs?
Gabe: I can’t speak for Matt, but I’ve always viewed Ministry’s So What as a classic – a standard, even – so it’s more of an homage than anything. I also made a point to change some of the guitar bits, because most of the parts on their “Mind” album – as well as live versions – are moderately repetitive. I also wanted to layer tons and tons of noises, found-sounds, and heavy, heavy drums (both live drums and drum machine) as well, to give it that heavy overkill that Ministry had in their live shows. I think it turned out well. It’s raw as dirty, back-room sex in a utility closet, but I’m happier with that as opposed to something over-produced.
The Manson track was my personal tribute to one of my dear friends who is no longer with us. That song was our get-pumped-up-and-take-shots-and-fuck-shit-up track that we’d play at max volume before we went out for the evening. It’s a great, raw track to get completely twisted to, so that was our ritual. I always think about her when we play it live. I miss her every day.
Matt: There was never any actual discussion about whether we wanted to do covers and if so which songs. We are both longtime Ministry fans and have attended many of the same shows over the years. We both have a lot of respect for Al and company and their method of creating music as well as the legacy they have made for tough industrial music. After obtaining a copy of Ed Wood’s The Violent Years we decided it would be fun to sit down and isolate all the samples that were used for So What. After forming a solid backing track we started performing the song in a house we were both inhabiting in order to entertain ourselves after we had consumed too much booze to do anything else. After that we started performing it live at the end of Hindu Pez sets also to entertain our inebriated selves. After working on a few original compositions that ended up on the EP we decided it would also be fun to cover 1996. Antichrist Superstar was very influential on us both and it takes us back to a very formative time both in the music scene and our personal lives. 1996 was both a year of becoming and the most punk rock song on ACSS. It was only fitting for us to reinterpret it now.
Phoenix Always Rises: Who has influenced your sound?
Gabe: For me, personally, there’s NIN, Chemlab, Skinny Puppy, Delta 9, Ministry, Alec Empire / Atari Teenage Riot, Godflesh on the programming, noisy side.
As far as guitars go, it’s Hendrix, Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu, The Smashing Pumpkins, Black Sabbath, RATM…just off the top of my head.
There’s a lot of other stuff that has small influence on things – hip-hop, for example – we’re both big fans of Wu-Tang Clan and Dr. Dre. I like a lot of classical music (as it shows on the abUSE album I did as Hindu Pez) and it’s bled through a bit on the full-length album we’re working on.
Matt: All of the above. I’d also like to add: Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Bauhaus, Elton John, Mister Rogers, Dr. Seuss, Frankenstein, Bobcat Goldthwaite, Jesus and Satan. Oh yeah, and a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush we nuked in a microwave.
Phoenix Always Rises: What was the recording process like for this album?
Gabe: I was mid-tour preparation with Red This Ever, playing live guitar for them. I was really pressed for time and only had roughly 2 weeks before I was about to leave for 2 months (on top of trying to finish guitar tracking for the Deathhouse Blues album, which was a much easier task, as most of that is improv), so we spent something like 5 hours a night multi-tracking guitars and vocals. Day jobs and schedules got in the way a lot. Thankfully we already had all of our electronics done, so focusing on a specific guitar tone and a certain raw vocal style was easier than having to get every single part done.
Matt: When we started getting to the finish line, it really started getting stressful. The time frame felt impossible and it started messing with our heads – the lack of sleep, the endless takes, the striving for reaching as close to perfection as possible. We managed to finish all recording and mixing before Gabe left for tour, so thankfully all we had left when he got back was the other stuff – album art, for example, which I worked on with Travis Helmkamp and Michelle Clark. They did an incredible job and really understood the concept, you can tell by looking at the booklet that they internalized it. The broken, bloody teeth on the back, the nasty splatter on the front – really nailed what we were going for. All that stuff was hand-built by Travis, the bloody photos were shot and stylized by Michelle. Those are my actual wisdom teeth that were removed in surgery on the back cover. There’s a great shot of blood circling the drain on the disc itself. Good stuff.
Phoenix Always Rises: Gabe, how would you say this material is different from your projects Death House Blues and Hindu Pez?
Gabe: Hindu Pez is really an exercise in being as – in the Spinal Tap sense – as loud as possible. Loud. Fast. Like a flaming car flying towards the entrance of a mall full of school children, screaming bloody murder. Overkill. I never thought of Hindu Pez as being something that was for everyone. If you got it, cool. If you didn’t, that’s your bad fucking luck. I’ve never really gotten too personal with it, either (until I did the abUSE album) so it was sort of a broad thing – more of a soap box for my bitching.
Deathhouse Blues is something that I enjoy, heavily, because it requires no real thought. Wanna do 12-bar in A-minor? Let’s go. And there’s no more discussion. We connect just by glancing at each other for when we’re ready for a solo, or for more vocals. It’s fun and it’s a great connection for me, personally, between my childhood – growing up on Hendrix, Santana, The Rolling Stones – and being able to pay homage to my music heroes as I grew up and learned how to play.
Phoenix Always Rises: You guys opened up for Cyanotic a while back. How did you cross paths with them?
Gabe: I’m not exactly sure who set the gig up, as there were two promoters I was dealing with at once – but Cyanotic was touring with Dismantled. We were lucky to be one of the few industrial bands in the area that weren’t defunct at that specific time. Luck and timing, I guess. I’d talked to Sean in passing through the old Chemlab messageboard (or, Hydrogenbar) a few years prior, so we’ve had a small form of a repoire for a while.
Getting to sit down and talk with the guy at length that night was a treat. I found we have a lot of the same tastes – early digital hardcore, 90’s hip-hop and gangsta rap, hardcore/gabber, ridiculous death metal, and all the industrial/machine-rock that we both came up on. It was a nice conversation. Both Matt and I are big fans and – it was Matt, actually, who bought it and had us start listening to it – we both really dig their Medication Generation album. The samples, the vocals, the guitars, the programming with the breakbeats and the drum machine…the whole thing is a tough, violent one-two punch to the throat and I think they deserve a lot more recognition than they’ve already gotten. It’s a very, very intelligent album and I like that it requires you to think about it, as opposed to so many industrial albums that are very this-is-what-it-is, so to speak. There’s a lot of clever lyric play on it, too, which is fun.
I’m hoping to do more shows with them in the future. We’ve got our musical similarities and it’d be great to share a series of gigs with them. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Matt: It was an honor to gig with Cyanotic. We had just opened for Combichrist a couple months previous but I was more at home on the Cyanotic bill. I can’t even remember the last electronic album to get me as excited as Medication Generation. If more bands in this genre could set that sort of precedence on their work I’d certainly have less venom to spew at “the sad state of music”. It’s an amazing piece of work. I would highly recommend picking up a copy. Sean is really a down to earth guy. I’m looking forward to more shows, more drinks and more chaos with him sometime very soon.
Phoenix Always Rises: What are your thoughts about the current state of music? I see on your Facebook page that you have contempt for modern music. What do you think is broken about it?
Gabe: I’m bored with a lot of things I’m hearing. Our industrial scene (whatever that means) has become very stale and I don’t feel like anyone’s trying to push it very hard in any given direction. It’s easier for bands to make the same record over and over and I, personally, find that dull. Why keep doing the same thing? I really respect bands like Ministry who turned around and made an album like Filth Pig after such a smash hit with Psalm 69. Chemlab with East Side Militia after Burn Out At The Hydrogen Bar. Or The Smashing Pumpkins with Adore after such a mega-hit with Melon Collie. Another good example is Marilyn Manson making Mechanical Animals after such success with Antichrist Superstar. Most of David Bowie’s catalog tells the same story – smashing down walls between albums to keep creating new things. The list goes on.
You’ve got to respect artists like the aforementioned David Bowie – or Tom Waits, for that matter – for having the courage to do what they felt was musically correct, simply because they wanted to. No being told what to do by record labels or fans demanding a repeat of the previous album. Bravo.
It’s not just the industrial scene, either. Turn on top 40 and you’ll find all these pop singers using a lot of the same styles and formulas, almost to a fault – or even hip-hop artists that are using the exact same drum banks and the same boring, boring formula – 16 bar verse, 8 bar hook. Fuck! Do something different!
It’d be nice to see more fearless artists doing what they want, how they want, without any second thought. I feel like a lot of bands don’t want to push a certain direction too hard or too far because they’ll become too – for lack of a better word – unpalatable – and they’ll end up with all of 5 fans that actually understand what they’re doing. Understandably, that’s the risk you take, and I understand that artists have to make a choice between a certain level of integrity and an attempt at success (whatever level we have left in the general music scene is beyond me, but I’m assuming it exists out there) so I can only judge bands and artists to an extent. They’ve got to eat, too.
Matt: Most of it has no creativity, no meaning, no point and no use. It’s completely devoid of brain, heart, balls and soul. I can appreciate the production value put into polishing that crap until it sparkles like a freshly painted Easter egg but underneath all that gloss it’s still shit. I think for music to be interesting it needs to first say something worth being said and then needs to say it in a way it hasn’t already been presented. I can’t tell one song from another on the radio. It’s all been produced by Will.I.Am, ghost-written by Jay-Z and features Rihanna. I want something different. How stupid is the average person? Fuck. People actually pay money for Nickelback CDs?! Meanwhile, I have to give credit to ICP, those two tired-ass Jesus Freaks in grease paint have convinced thousands of ugly stupid kids they can all be part of a family if they get shitty tattoos and dress like clowns.
Phoenix Always Rises: Do you think anything can ever fix it? If so, what?
Gabe: I think, if more artists weren’t afraid of experimenting, of pushing a song as far as it can within itself, and not (whether consciously or not) giving yourself a set of parameters whilst writing and recording, you’ll end up with more interesting material. It’s very easy – and I’ve done it too, admittedly – to approach writing with the mindset of, for example “this track needs to have this sort of drum machine, this sort of synth, this kind of guitar, because that’s what you’re supposed to do in this specific genre”. The problem with that is, you’ve already boxed yourself in, and you end up with songs that sound contrived.
Matt: Have you seen those videos online where people film a washing machine in the spin cycle and then throw a cinderblock into it? The washing machine then continues to spin until it fucks itself into a pile of twisted metal wreckage. I’d like to think [0PT-0UT] is the cinder block in that analogy.
Phoenix Always Rises: Where would you like to see [0pt-0ut] in ten years?
Gabe: Ideally, I’d like to turn [0PT-0UT] into a regular touring act that goes out frequently enough that you can’t ignore us. We’re still in the process of building our sound and our brand, as we’re still in our infancy, but that’s the plan.
Matt: Ten years is a long time. I don’t know. On the FBI’s most wanted list, in a snazzy white-collar federal penitentiary, dead and buried or maybe playing sold out shows on the moon. The future is wide open.
Phoenix Always Rises: Are you guys planning on touring in the near future? If so, where do you plan on playing?
Matt: We’re hoping to tour at the end of the year. We have to finish our first full-length (it’s about 6 songs in, so far) and then we have to figure out how to make a tour work – artistically, financially, etc. It’s a long road we have ahead of us but we’re working every day in some capacity at it.
Phoenix Always Rises: Name your dream tour. Name whatever bands you wish and whichever cities you would want to play in.
Gabe: There’s a lot of bands I’d like to tour with. Cyanotic, for example, would be great. I think I’ve already shown how much of our inner fanboy shows for them. I think it’d be interesting to tour with bands that aren’t in the genre, too, like something left-field. My favorite shows are the ones that have bands that are completely different. Nine Inch Nails did that a number of times over the years in their tours. Touring with Saul Williams took a giant pair of gonads, and I think Trent Reznor did it because he knew that his audience is intelligent enough to appreciate Saul for what he is. Had it been Saul Williams touring with, say, Motley Crue, he would have been dismissed as “some rapper”, you know? But NIN fans are much more open than that.
I’m hoping that we can do something in the same vein – taking the risk of having an artist so far from what we do, out on the road with us. That’s something we’ll look into heavier as we get closer to the completion of our full-length. It all really depends on funding, time, and what our options look like by the fall.
Phoenix Always Rises: Any final words for your fans?
Gabe: Thank you! Glad to have you aboard. By all means, have a shot with us.
Matt: Stay tuned. The beast is yet to come.
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