How time flies. One day I’m a 20-year-old music geek working at a college radio station and a colleague suggests that I listen to this band called Mentallo & The Fixer. Since I was a comic book geek as well, I was immediately sucked in by the name. The beats. The textures. The freeform song composition. I was elated that such a band could elicit such a visceral reaction from me, especially a band from the States. Thirty years later okay, yes I’m still a geek, but M&TF‘s debut release, “No Rest For The Wicked” remains as fresh and powerful as it did in 1992. To mark the anniversary, Re: Mission Entertainment has issued the “No Rest for the Wicked” 30th Anniversary Edition. While it has fewer bonus tracks than the 2018 digital reissue, it has everything that’s expected plus a few new surprises by way of new mixes.
No one is more surprised of the album’s staying power than M&TF‘s vocalist and programmer Gary Dassing, who, with his brother Dwayne, have been the driving force behind this band now entering its fourth decade.
Gary took time to talk to me from his home in Texas to give this college radio music geek a chance to look into the mind of a cutting edge, yet affably modest, electronic music pioneer. Funny thing is by his own admission, he’s not much of a gearhead, or a technologist of any sort.
Gary Dassing: I’m clueless. I’m behind the times and I’ll put it to you this way, it’s been probably 10 years I’ve been without the Internet. Just last month I subscribed. You can call me old school and it works for me. I’m a bit of a Luddite even though I do music via technology and tend to get more things done without the distraction of the Internet.
Sounds & Shadows: I can appreciate that. And while a lot of things have changed in 10 years, at the same time I’m hard pressed to say you’ve haven’t missed anything.
GD: Right. When I started getting online it was in 1986 on bulletin boards I had a phone modem, real archaic, ancient technology. I started out with the Commodore 64, so it’s been a while.
S&S: Yeah, the phone you’re talking to me on right now is a more powerful computer than a C-64.
GD: The music program that we used on the Commodore was setup using a timer next to the computer because it would take about 20 minutes to load the software off an old floppy disk.
S&S: Yeah, I remember those.
GD: So, technology surely has come a long way.
S&S: But since you brought it up, how do you reconcile that in your mind like that? You wouldn’t consider yourself a technologist and yet that is your means of creativity.
GD: The past year it’s been a double-edged sword for me. I practice piano with both hands at least a couple of hours a day. I was able to sight read music when I was younger. I’ll tell you a story about this. Before my dad passed away, we were at my aunt’s house and she had a piano and he said to me, “Well, can you play me one of your songs on piano?” He had listened to a lot of our music and I’m like, “Well, no, not really. I can play you a melody line, but not full-on chords.” Then it hit me that I probably should learn to play.
I was a freshman in high school in1983 when Dwayne and I were a conventional band. I started out on drums and my drumming lagged. We were playing in a lot of cover bands. One night there were these guys we had been practicing with for six months and it sort of fell apart. The singer and the bassist said, “Well, my parents said I have to put my school first”, and this and that. As Dwayne and I were driving home I was listening to a Soft Cell cassette, “The Art of Falling Apart”. This was a turning point for me because Soft Cell is an electronic band with two people. I immediately asked Dwayne why we couldn’t do what Soft Cell is doing.
In 1985 we had a lawn mowing business. I was mowing lawns and working fast food making $3.35, minimum wage at the time. I sold my electronic drum kit for a drum machine for $800, a lot of money at the time. The drum machine contained only eight sounds in it. Today, you can purchase a $200 drum machine with 2000 sounds.
S&S: I know, you can download an app that’ll give you 1000 sounds or something crazy like that.
GD: But it was our passion. We set specific goals doing music. Dwayne was a techie back then and was able to obtain software. He went to electronics school and graduated from the University A&M with a bachelor’s degree in electronics. He was on board with it. It was like his little science experiment to see if he could do it, and little by little we began buying equipment. My parents didn’t help us financially when it came to our music. They did co-sign for a loan. So, mowing lawns and working fast food we were throwing all our money on this new technology, keyboards. Back then it wasn’t heard of, especially in the United States. Everybody wanted to be into rock music.
We were musically influenced by our older sister who was heavily into music and had an awesome stereo system and buying albums of early new wave from the late 70s and early 80s like Blondie, Berlin, Gary Numan, The Cars, Ramones. She would let me into her room and play records for me and I look at album covers and was fascinated by the imagery. For me it created lyrical and imaginative emotions.
S&S: I seem to remember reading somewhere that you guys were really into the early work of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.
GD: I can tell you a story about that too. In 1983 I had heard of OMD, this is before they had any hits and were still considered underground in the US. Dwayne and I were at the mall looking into one of these bins of discount cassettes. I found one of their cassettes titled “Dazzle Ships” for two dollars and I bought it. My friends and I went out that night and I put in the cassette, and we were laughing at it because it was sort of bizarre.
S&S: It is a very quirky, eccentric record.
GD: After listening to it a couple of times, and as quirky and sort of cheesy as it could be, there was a lot of experimentation in it too. Then it began to stick, and I liked it. I think they were the first band to use an Emulator on a recording.
S&S: Dazzle Ships is my favorite OMD record, and it’s like, [did] they even know what was coming just a few short years later? How spot on was some of the stuff they did on that?
GD: It’s crazy because some of these bands, I don’t know if it was just timing, or luck. My brother and I are very fortunate. In all honesty, we sort of thought we may not get anywhere with our music, but we were going to do it because we wanted this. Passion. As it began to happen for us, I set our expectations low. I read somewhere the secret to happiness is low expectations, “Whether you’re getting started, working on a new project, or simply trying to fight self-doubt, keeping your expectations low and your standards high is the ultimate plan for success.”
S&S: Smart, so either way, it’s either you’re either satisfied, or it’s a pleasant surprise.
GD: I feel very blessed in that sense after 30 years I’m surprised we even have a fan base. I’m surprised that most of what we just released sold out practically. I’m scratching my head here thinking, “Wow”
S&S: Well, think of it this way… Now, I’m going to speak as a fan, not as an interviewer for a moment. think about what was going on at the time. Very few bands were doing that, especially coming out of the States. So any band(s) that raise that bar, whether they’re making money or they’re not making money, other artists are going to take notice. At least that’s what I get from it.
GD: I see what you’re saying. Because we broke ground in Europe first. In all honesty, I don’t know how the hype started here but I remember Dave Heckman at Metropolis. He was running the largest mail order service for underground music in America out of Philadelphia called Digital Underground and had not yet start Metropolis Records. He dealt solely with new wave, punk, and electronica of any type. He called me up one day and said, “Well, Gary, I’m thinking about starting a label and I want you on it.” I said that was cool and we started up this friendship and things rolled on from there. A lot of people sort of said to me, “Y’all from Texas?”, especially people from Europe with this romanticized idea that it’s cowboys and Indians.
S&S: They expected John Wayne to step off the plane?
GD: Right. I say “Howdy” all the time. It’s a friendly greeting with the western states in the US. The albums on Zoth Ommog that came out, Revelations 23 and Where Angels Fear to Tread. I think it sparked their curiosity hearing this because we are from Texas, and it sounded very European to them.
I was a kid in a room recording music and didn’t have a clue how the music was making a mark in Europe. My brother went out to clubs all the time. I was sort of a recluse and rarely went out and in an odd way I felt like I didn’t fit in. I’d be the kid in blue jeans and a white shirt.
S&S: Okay, you didn’t feel the need to, like, dress the part or anything?
GD: Right. To me industrial was an attitude. I remember some of the first bands I was listening to growing up that I considered industrial, like Cabaret Voltaire. I see them with the white shirt and blue jeans and maybe a leather jacket, no frills. It was about the music.
S&S: Was the dress code enforced, so to speak, that early on; especially at something like a Cabaret Voltaire gig? I mean, were you seeing a lot of like, the black and the eyeliner and the, […] “The Look”?
GD: Not in the 80s. My club days were in the 80s and hanging around a bunch of new wavers, but at the same time, there were no sub genres. If you went to a club back then you could hear The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Cabaret Voltaire. It was all a mix, listening to underground music. Now there may be a club night where it was strictly deemed as industrial or electronic but that could range anywhere from, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Test Department or Coil.
S&S: So, these are the bands that were setting the trends, there wasn’t anything really set to follow yet.
GD: Exactly. You hit the nail on the head there. Where I grew up it was a different time back then. I grew up in San Antonio and it was considered the heavy metal capital of the world. People who were into this genre, underground alternative music would meet up at a specific place. It’s not like there were Riverheads or what I consider Goths. Although some people may have had that image. It was a very colorful era. You could be a normal Joe walking in off from the street or be like my brother who had his hair Aqua Netted two feet high in the air. If you were there, you were there for the music, everyone getting along and not having the attitude like, “I’m too cool to be around you”.
I still listen to electronic music, but I listen to other forms. I was listening to, if it was electronic music back then, Project Pitchfork. I listen to Future Sounds of London, Orbital, a lot of shoegazer music and heavily into the Cocteau Twins and The Sundays.
I have a different outlook on things. I don’t listen to pop radio. I listen to a very wide variety of music and to be honest, I stopped listening to a lot of industrial around 92 or 93. I feel the more I listen to industrial I didn’t want it to influence me. Many bands today, unfortunately, in our scene, sound similar and not have one thing that defines them. I know what defines Dwayne and me. We would do a lot of instrumental pieces that didn’t fit the standard. I can give you several instances like on our first Zoth Ommog release, Revelations 23.
I remember the label manager Talla calling me saying, “The DAT tape that you sent us, the master DAT, there’s something wrong with it! There’s a pop song on the end of it or something” and I’m thinking that was a fresh DAT tape. There’s no way that tape could have gotten altered. And I began thinking about the track listing. I ask Talla, “Is it a piano piece? A nice little piano piece?” He’s like, “Yes, that’s it.” I said, “That’s meant to be on there. It represents the calmness after the storm. He’s like, “Oh! I got it. It’s artistic.”
S&S: (laughs) So you’re trying to close it out gracefully?
GD: Right, right. After we pummeled your ears. Yeah. We want you to go and let out that sigh of relief and from there on we were able to get away with doing things like that. We received a good response from fans saying they liked it. It opens the fan’s mind, so it fit perfectly in there.
Today, I listen mostly to classical music. I would say 90% of what I listen to today is classical music.
S&S: Oh, okay.
GD: I want our fans ears open to the possibilities of something otherworldly and not be defined by one genre. Industrial in the beginning was like you could do anything and get away with it and this is what I wanted. I want this for Dwayne and I so people wouldn’t be shocked if they hear something sweet or depressing but beautiful like bittersweetness after a heavy dance song. I want there to be an even mix of emotions.
S&S: Now, that was your attitude, then. Do you still feel that way now?
GD: I’ve gone through a lot of phases musically like on the last three albums. I wanted to experiment sonically. I wanted to put out ear candy that would screw with people. They weren’t necessarily songs. They were just crazy soundscapes.
S&S: I was listening to Day of Ascension just before we got on here and doing what my ear does, I’m sort of like, you know, following along and trying to dissect it. What I got from it… […] there’s the beat, that’s the bedrock, which is what the beat is for. But in your case, it’s like you sort of moved away from the whole idea of there being the treble instrument, or like, the keyboard sounds and the electronic sounds having the melodic element. It seems to me like the bassline that runs through it has sort of the melodic element to it, that locks in with the rhythm and holds everything together and then the electronics are kind of free to do whatever they want.
GD: I’ll tell you how I picked up making bass lines melodic from listening to John Taylor of Duran Duran play bass. He would always play very melodically, and he learned that method from the bassist in the group Chic.
S&S: Bernard Edwards?
GD: Yes. He plays very melodically and I’m picking up things from the past and learning things from people that aren’t in the genre and applying it to my music.
You’re the first person that I am going to tell this to. Dwayne and I have not worked on music cohesively in 25 years, since 1997. We decided to get back together in December 2021. I’m done with my experimental days; like what I did on my last three albums. It’s crazy ear candy that has no vocals. It’s digitally edited. I told him that I want to get back to my roots and if he would like to join me and hop on board. He said yes. We have 20 songs in the working stages right now.
S&S: Okay if I mentioned that?
GD: Yeah. Like I said, you’re the first person who can print this.
S&S: Excellent. Thank you.
GD: On the first album “No Rest for The Wicked”, my brother and I were not living in the same city. He moved to Austin for better job prospects, and I was in San Antonio still wanting to work on music and that’s when I wrote all the songs for “No Rest…..” I had no intention of being a vocalist. The previous vocalist we had for our previous band was great. I thought I am never going to top him by a longshot. But I had all these old vocal effects and processors that did strange things and decided to do it for the fun of it. The only people who are going to hear this are my parents and a few of my friends, right? If it sounds horrible my friends can make fun of me. My parents already think it’s noise, but they always encouraged us. They didn’t understand it, but knew we were on to something because technology was involved. No disrespect intended but my parents were country folks.
S&S: Let me segue to a question that I typically ask because I think we’re heading in that direction anyway.
GD: Yeah. Go for it.
S&S: Now. You’ve told me your musical influences and what you take away from them. Do you draw from anything outside of music, or even the arts altogether, as far as what you do?
GD: Yeah. Good question. One of the reasons we have an eclectic group of friends is my brother and I started going to art galleries at a young age. At that age it was weird material. I remember one art piece having holograms. It was the first time anyone had done anything with holograms. It had this hologram set up on glass plates in San Antonio. We met a few people there and this sort of got us going to art shows. From there we met people who were into performance art. I started doing tape loops for their shows and art displays. It was generally ambient. People would walk by and hear a loop while looking at the art.
S&S: Like sound design type of stuff?
GD: Right. But it became more elaborate. We have a friend who is a well-known performance artist in Texas. I used to do the music for his art installations. Our friend is David Zamora Casas. This is late 80s. His art shows are very elaborate like plays. It takes him a week to set up the installation and design. These are one or two-off performances. I did all the music for his shows. Sometimes, he used Mentallo material, but instrumental version to doing spoken word or dialogue over or sing his own lyrics. Most of his material was controversial at the time. He would sing about the AIDS epidemic. One of our close friends who was a DJ in San Antonio was the first person to die of AIDS in a hospice. Movie soundtracks were a big thing in my house growing up. We often buy movie soundtracks. I remember the first one my parents bought me was when I was five or six. It was the soundtrack to Jaws. Another movie soundtrack I had was Tron, which was the first electronic album we had and composed by Wendy Carlos. She’s a pioneer. It was weird to hear this type of music at the time because she was doing all these strange micro tunings. I loved it.
Dwayne and I were both in band at school and we knew how to sight read. Dwayne played trumpet and guitar and still does. I used to play the trap set and the xylophones. There are influences of that in our music because I add acoustic sounds also to our songs. I like the sound of the classical guitar. Being raised in San Antonio you see mariachis playing. I remember one time Dwayne and I sampled a classical guitar that was in my family for a long time. We used that sample to play on the keyboard and used it in a lot of songs. Fans asked who plays the guitar on your songs and we tell them that it’s a sample of a guitar I programmed on the keyboard, and they’re like, it sounds Spanish. I’m like, yeah, that’s mariachi music influencing me.
S&S: Now, this is stuff that you were sort of taking later. But what I wanted to ask was, when you were doing your hermit thing, as you put it, you’re sort of like in this creative bubble, and that you’re not exposing yourself to, like, the style of music that was being associated with you. So you weren’t listening to a lot of industrial or electro anything. Is this what you were taking in?
GD: No, no, it was like the aftereffect of what was happening. By the second album, when we got signed to Zoth Ommog, that was Revelations 23. I moved to Austin to live with Dwayne. I didn’t know anyone and didn’t want to go out and do the whole club scene. I became homesick and torn at that point because we had an older sister with severe mental problems. As I mentioned earlier, she was a huge influence on my life and many of those songs are based around her in a strange way. I wanted to capture the feeling of what my sister was going through.
S&S: So it was dedicated to her, or more written about her?
GD: God, good question. Probably both. Not every song, but yeah, my sister was a strange and special person. I idolized her. In many ways she was brilliant, but at the same time she had bipolar disorder.
We lived five miles from Southwest Research. It was a facility which was the largest primate testing facility in the world. My sister was an animal rights activist in the early 80s when the word “PETA” wasn’t even known to the public. She stood in front of this facility with a sign protesting and being the only person out there and would later organized rallies by word-of-mouth inspiring people to act and protest together for the sake of animals. If it were not for my sister, I probably would not be a musician.
Like I said previously about my sister letting me into her bedroom and play all this crazy music for me on her stereo system. She set me in between two speakers listening to music. I was a little boy and it’s just like her to inspire me to open my ears by playing a lot of Gary Numan. I remember she had his first album, Replicas. She must have bought it in 1979. I’m 53 right now and for a kid at 10 years old, there wasn’t any music like that on the radio. You rarely if ever heard a keyboard in a song in pop music back then and I was freaking out.
S&S: I’m right there with you because I had that same experience [at] eight years old. And, you hear the opening, keyboard parts of Cars, and you’re like, “What is THIS?”
S&S: I had that feeling then. I still get it now. I still love Numan.
GD: Yeah. My brother is the one who would play Numan the most. Devo was another big thing back then in our early years and he liked The Cars too. I have to say the first new wave band that was my favorite was Missing Persons. By the time I was 13 or 14 it was Depeche Mode.
S&S: Yeah. I first discovered Skinny Puppy while working on a college radio station. So I know exactly what you mean.
GD: Right. Things are different today. I remember taping college radio shows that were geared towards weird music. They called it avant-garde. I remember reading in Rolling Stone Magazine, Skinny Puppy’s “Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse”, was being promoted as the premiere avant-garde band.
S&S: At the time, I’d have to agree.
S&S: Let me change it up a little bit. I’m curious as to how your workflow is. What would a typical day in the studio for you be like? And I also want to add to that; what do you do today that’s different than what you did back then?
GD: In the early years everything was fresh, and motivation was different for me. Technology today has its advantages and disadvantages. Dwayne has an amazing recording studio. Name the instrument and equipment, he has it. For me it’s I’ve been there, done that. The last three releases that I’ve done was software driven. I want to do the opposite of that and don’t want technology taking over.
S&S: So would you consider Dwayne to be more like, the technically oriented part of the team, whereas you’re kind of more like the crazy idea man?
GD: I am crazy and more artistic. Whereas Dwayne is technical because of his degree. I think if it were not for him, I probably would still be doing keyboards. I probably would have been a keyboard player in a band not a programmer. Dwayne is intelligent and anytime there was a problem that would go awry in the studio he fixes it whereas I would be clueless.
S&S: So how did that work out during the time that Dwayne wasn’t in the band?
GD: Well, it was a learning process. […] that’s when I started really getting experimental. […] verse chorus songs went out the window. […] I was having a fun time experimenting, but at the same time, […] people want to hear songs, […] and that’s why, after this last album, I said, […] “I’ve gotten my fill doing that with the ear candy.” […]
S&S: I was listening to the record again, last night and today, and, […] it does seem like it follows not a typical song structure, but more of a stream of consciousness, […] one flows to the other. […] it’s the seamless flow.
GD: Okay, I’ll tell you why that happened. Okay, so my brother had nothing to do with that, because he wasn’t even living in the town. Part of it was the software we were using. And basically, I would, […] have my sequence in a loop, I wouldn’t have a structured song, I would just have the sequence playing in a loop. And manually as the song is recording, I would just unmute and mute stuff and change […] drum patterns in between grabbing the microphone. So it is like a stream of consciousness thing. And what I do is I record these random mixes, all in a row, on a 90 minute cassette, just sort of improvising. And I would pick out my favorite version out of the whole 90 minute cassette, […] so you’re right. There, on No Rest For The Wicked, it’s very stream of consciousness; it was very random. And I think that’s one thing where Dwayne really works out in some aspects. He’s very structured about things, […]. He, he can almost be too clinical, […] but that’s where we balance each other out over the years. And I think Dwayne records in, or Dwayne programs in a very different style. His rhythms are different. He uses different sounds than I would choose. And he definitely mixes stuff a lot differently than what I would hear. So we get this balance throughout all the songs on the album’s we’ve worked together on, […] that were the ones that later came where we really broke in and got a much larger fan base, […] so, like, with No Rest For The Wicked, […] the reason this is being put out was, Wes (Turner) (of Re:Mission Entertainment) was like, he was my merchandise guy, and I know he runs a label. He’s like, “Why don’t you put out a 30 year anniversary CD?” And I’m like, “Is it 30 years already?” […] I don’t have an ego about my stuff. […] it’s like, to me, sometimes, I just sort of try and […] pass it off as it’s only music even though it is personal to me. […] at the end of the day, […] it’s not going to change the world in any major capacity, even though people have said, “Oh, your music’s touched my life”, and, […] I mean, what can I say to that…?
S&S: When I’ve had people come up to me, especially people I’ve never even met before me, say to me, “Hey, I’ve heard your music.” It’s like having someone come up to you on the street and say, “I’ve seen you naked.”
GD: Right. […] the first time someone started crying in front of me, it was at a New York City show. And I wasn’t gonna rob them of that, because their tears were genuine. Why I wrote the song, which may not be why it affects you the way it does, but I respect that. But it was that moment where it really hit me. “Oh, my God. My music has really impacted somebody.” […] It’s not fly by night. […] but […] at the end of the day, I don’t want to come off as some industrial God who has an attitude. Because I’ve met those types of people on the road, […] in bands. They got the attitude, they think they’re the shit. And I think I’m just one of those people who’s very humble and modest.
S&S: You don’t want to be the wise old guru of electro-industrial?
GD: No, not even, […] at the end of the day, […] I’m a simpleton. […] everyone has emotions, and people just happened to, […] get some of what I’m doing. So, I feel really thankful in that respect. Um, I mean, what can I say? I feel blessed. […] I hate to say this, but I remember there came a time for me […] I get these periods, and sometimes they can be long. where I have no inspiration.
S&S: I know that feeling.
GD: And […] I need to wait to get that booster shot. But I’ve posted this story once before… I remember grabbing an issue of Keyboard Magazine, as a kid and […] me and my brother, we had one synthesizer. I remember at the time, it was the Juno 6. And this is when I had my electronic drum set and Dwayne was playing his guitar. And we had one in the house. And the only reason I bought this magazine was because Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran was on the front of it. And I remember telling my brother; I believe I was a freshman in high school; so 83 or 84, this issue a keyboard came out; and a kid with a pipe dream, I said, “Dwayne, wouldn’t it be cool if we got in this magazine one day?” And when I did, when it finally happened, that’s the day it died for me. I hate to say that, in a way. It’s sort of it was like, I proved to myself, I got in that magazine. And we didn’t even get in that magazine because of our music. We got into it because of our keyboard collection. […] When we got into Keyboard, word had gotten out that we were this band from Texas, and we had a large keyboard collection. And the issue was new bands, old gear. And we had at the time, I think 37 keyboards. […] I think the issue came out in 2000 or 1999, something like that. And that’s a fuckload of keyboards. […]
S&S: I agree. That’s nice. Oh, it’d be nice. But yeah, that’s a lot.
GD: I mean, like I said, we were addicted. […] Dwayne and I lived off of bean and cheese tacos and Top Ramen for a long time. And we suffered, […] but every time we’d walk into our music room, it felt like you were behind the helm of the Starship Enterprise. I mean, every time I walked in there, I would just get this grin on my face. Like, “I can’t believe we got all this fucking equipment.” Dwayne and I were real wise. Because when the digital craze came out, that was around like when the DX7 came out. Every one started getting rid of their analog gear when the DX7 and the D50 came out. And me and my brother went to pawn shops and we are hogging up that old analog gear dirt cheap. […] I remember buying two SH-101s for $99 apiece.
S&S: Ooh! Lucky you!
GD: My brother bought his MemoryMoog for $300. Now it’s worth it – now that my brother’s repaired it and re-soldered everything on the inside – He could easily sell it for $25,000 […]. So that was one benefit. […] one benefit about having Dwayne in the group was he had no problem popping open a synthesizer if it gave us a problem, and wiring down what the problem was and ordering the part. […] we didn’t have to pay repairman. He WAS the repair man. Analog gear breaks down all the fucking time. […] I remember the first time we popped open the MemoryMoog, like three or four huge plates, […] with all the soldering and I’m like, “Dwayne, are you sure you want to […] open that up? And do […] what you’re doing?” “Fuck you, Gary! Get over here. I need to tune these oscillators!” […] Dwayne’s really brilliant, and, […] I’m sort of the idiot clown on the side. But, […] it’s panned out, […]. I love my brother to death. And that was the one thing when we broke up. When Dwayne decided to leave the group, Dwayne wanted to do other types of music. He sort of got his fill of the EBM. And he just needed to do something different. And […] just like everyone, and like, with previous projects, I’ve remained friends with those people, because our friendship was more important than any piece of music. […] So, like, when our first band, Benestrophe, broke up, I’ve remained close friends with our first singer to this day, […] because our friendship was more important than the band. So, yeah, I’ve always had […] this good moral thing going. And I think, like I said earlier, that’s why we we’ve managed to keep going. And like I said, everything’s been icing in all. In all honesty, I’m shocked that we have a fan base. […]
S&S: Well, like I said, Some problems are good to have. […] Let me ask you this; in the last couple of years, especially with the whole COVID thing, has that thrown you a curveball as far as what you were aspiring to, like, musically? Basically, what’s it like being an artist in the COVID era?
GD: […] what it did for me was, it gave me time to actually, like I said earlier, I bought a Korg D, one digital piano. And it’s 88 keys and it’s weighted, the keys are weighted, and I want it to feel, feel, […] there’s nothing more beautiful than to me than the sound of the piano or a classical guitar. Those are my two favorite instruments. And, […] you throw a lot of reverb on it, and it’s really pretty. […] But I decided to buy that, because I wanted to start learning to play with both hands. So, I was putting in a couple of hours a day, every day for about six months, and I’ve wavered. I’ve wavered in the past six months. I only practice now about, […] a couple of hours every two or three days a week. But practice makes perfect and I’ve noticed a big difference. just playing a simple melody line. Now I can play with both hands a lot better than I ever thought I could, […] and that is what I considered, […] to me, the disadvantage of technology. It’s good in a lot of ways but…
S&S: It creates as many problems as it solves?
GD: Right. […] with a lot of EBM, it can sound too perfect. And, […] one thing I would do to offset that back in the day was I would make our shit lag intentionally. I would daisy chain a lot of stuff intentionally and have the drum machine as the last thing in the daisy chain. And it would get these strange lags where it’s like pushing and pulling just slightly, […] and not everything sounds so rigid and robotic. […] and I think that was another thing that set us apart,[…] my drum programming. I was thinking like a drummer in a lot of ways, because I used to play trap set. And I liked a lot of percussion, to whereas you can always tell a song Dwayne’s programmed because he keeps it as simple as possible. There’s a kick, snare and a hi hat. And that’s it. […] I have to have toms. I have to have cow bills. I gotta have maracas, […]. I got to have all that percussion on the side going, […] And that’s one thing we’re known for is a lot of drumming.
S&S: The drum parts are very prominent on the songs for sure […] and it’s definitely ear catching; especially the fact that (it doesn’t) sound like one trap set. I mean, I’m hearing drum sounds that sound like they could have come from a trap set. I’m hearing sounds that (could) have come from an 808 or 909. I’m hearing sounds like somebody with two ball-peen hammers hammering on a trash can. But it all comes together.
GD: Right? Well, the reason that was was because I would be using two or three drum machines at the same time. […] the one drum machine, […] that really sounded rigid for us in industrial was the first drum machine I bought was it was made by Sequential Circuits and it was called the TOM and it just sounded very industrial for lack of better terms. And then […] I got the Alesis HR16s and the Bs and they had a lot of live sample drums. So I started thinking like a drummer again. […] and when I was programming, I was programming with accents and ghost notes intentionally, […] to make it sound more organic. A lot more alive. […] and I’ve just always been drum heavy. […] that was like one of the things I always liked about going to clubs in my youth was beat heavy songs. […]
S&S: I’m the same way. […] in fact, as a drummer myself, and listening to the music I listened to growing up, it’s like I tended to emulate that, consciously or otherwise, in my playing. And it was funny that people heard my recordings and they say, “Dude, your drumming…You sound like a drum machine.” And I’ve heard that as both praise and complaint. So as a drummer myself, it’s like, yeah, I can see how you would want to mix that up and steer clear of the clichés, right?
GD: Yeah, […] the albums that really opened up for me, or taught me to be really crazy with my drumming as far as electronics were Ministry’s Twitch. When I first heard that, and Revolting Cocks’ BigSexyLand. […] it was very electronic. But the beats were just heavy. Danceable but heavy. […] you wanted to bob your head when you’re driving. […]
S&S: Yeah, but I love both of those […]. I hear exactly where you’re coming from on that.
GD: Yeah, you get what I’m talking about?
S&S: Oh, yeah. So…truth is, you’ve answered most of my questions without even me having to ask them.
S&S: Just to wrap up, and you’ve already touched on this, but I guess it’s sort of like a closing thought… You’ve already given me your take on the current state of the music scene, […] but where do you see it going next?
GD: […] I really don’t know. There came a time where I remember all electronic music was lumped into it just being electronic music. Now, there are so many sub factions on everything, […]: trance, ambient, dubstep, chill, down-tempo, […]. And even in our genre, […] there’s 10 different, […] sub factions for EBM? […] I don’t know, I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing. Because it causes a lot of divisions in some aspect. And I wish it was the days where, […] people could just all come together as a collective and get off. […] like, the days of WaxTrax. Thrill Kill Kult didn’t sound like (Front) 242. (Front) 242 didn’t sound like Ministry. Ministry didn’t sound like Frontline Assembly. […] Everything back then sounded very different. […] I think that’s why I listened to a lot of like, ambient and I listened to other groups, […] outside of this genre.
And a group I listened to a lot is Junior Boys. Have you ever heard of them?
S&S: Not familiar.
GD: Yeah, they’re out of Canada. Okay. They can actually play their keyboards, but they use a lot of really cool like jazz chordings, in their songs, even though they sound electronic, […] they hit you with these weird chords that work. And, […] to me, a lot of industrial music is […] in the minor scale. […] and it doesn’t deviate from that.
S&S: I plead guilty on that one. I write a lot of stuff in minor.
GD: […] and that’s the way a lot of industrial music is and that was [why] Dwayne started learning […] all of his scales. It’s like, “Gary, start learning your scales, […] if you’re gonna start practicing”. And he gave me this list the scales and it’s just like, […] Phrygian, Locrian, […]. And he’s like, “We’re going to do something really weird for this next album. It’s gonna sound like Mentallo. And it’s going to be danceable, but we’re gonna throw people some of these weird loops, […] that they’re gonna go, ‘What the fuck?’” […]
I don’t know, because I don’t want to knock the scene. […] I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me. But, […] most of the people getting into this are young today, and I don’t want to kill it for them. It’s their thing, […]. I come from a different time period. But I remember Paul Barker, from Ministry saying it started to corner itself at one point, […] industrial music, and it can’t break out of that, what’s in that corner. And it needs to do that, again, to be expressive. […] I mean, there’s a lot of good dance music out there even being creative today, but have I heard it […] in some form, or fashion?
[…] I’ll be honest with you. I’m surprised a scene is even still around.
S&S: In a way, so am I.
GD: Yeah, you get what I mean? Like all these bands that are from the old school, they’re touting their last tour, […] like 242 and RevCo and all this. […] And it just seems to me almost like the end of an era. […] There’s a few bands I listened to that are new, but they’re not big on the radar. One in the scene one is called Chrome Corpse. And I think he’s out of Seattle. And he’s just a kid who records in his bedroom […] but it sounds old school to me. […] it reminds me of my my youth. I think that’s why I like it. It’s very, it’s very raw and under produced.
[…] and I think he’s probably recording onto a tape deck like I did, he’s not using all this software. He’s just keeping it very minimal. […] Very minimal, very raw.
[…] I didn’t really give a fuck what people thought because I felt I […] had my integrity, I was doing what I liked at the time. I wasn’t […] trying to make a club hit, […] even with our songs in the past that were club hits. […] it was just something that happened, people happen to like, and I was fortunate in that aspect. […] but I feel a lot of bands today are doing it with pretense. […] it’s done because they want to be cool. And, […] they want to come across as hard and that and, […] there’s nothing wrong with it. I remember what it’s like to be young.
I don’t know, Jaret. […] you and I are from a different time, obviously. […] but things seem a little bit more elitist. […] but what do I know? Because I really don’t even scan the Internet for this stuff. […] if something happens to fall into my lap, and I give it a listen, and I like it. Wow. So be it. […] but I don’t necessarily go looking for music.
[…] I mean, like the last band that I started listening to a lot… They were called Cigarettes After Sex. […] it’s not even […] electronic music. It’s just real mellow […]. Ambient guitars. […] and I’ve mellowed out, […] I’m getting old, […] I don’t have that. The drive is different. The passion, […] the passion feels different. […] what else can I say?