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xmag.com : December 2000 : TV:616

It's just another Sinferno Sunday night at Dante's--meaning members of the bondage-restraint-leather crowd parade aloofly past each other in varying levels of Halloween-fuck-drag, avoiding all eye contact with studied proficiency. But
this time, the pounding industrial death disco drone of TV:616
 
echoes through the womblike walls and out on the empty street. Frontman Scott Watkins screams into the mike, looking like the overgrown, delinquent spawn of the Wicked Witch of the West, dragged through a coal mine. Keith Brown on guitar, Kong on bass and ex-Sweaty Nipple drum whiz, Brian Lehfelt, all in obligatory death-metal-industrial-electronica black, pummel away behind Scott in a monotonal ballet. Lehfelt's drums are surrounded by a tangled mass of Giger-esque hoses and dark gray, mock industrial foundry trash; a fire dancer stands on an elevated block swinging fire around her body, leaving concentric smoke trails hovering before the stage.
To these buttrock-addled, Zeppelinized ears, the electro-dance-metal of TV616 conjures angst-laden industrial factory clamor, subverting the concepts of melody and harmony. Lehfelt, Kong and ex-Threscher members Watkins and Brown have learned their metal lessons well, and parlay their harsh aesthetics into a grandiose torment with yelping vocals and mechanistic stage concept. Their self-titled CD will be released on the Elemental label early next year.
 
Jeff Hudis: Tell me how the band came together.
Scott Watkins: Well, Threscher kind of dissolved at the end of last year and we were considering getting back together after New Years, but we ended up deciding against that. Brian was working on a side project of his own called Crooked Things, and I had done some tracking on that, doing guitar and vocals; it was a lot like the stuff that Keith and I wanted to do as well. Kong was around and was available, so we just started talking... we got together and laid down a couple of songs, and it just kind of snapped right into place.
Hudis: What were your earliest musical influences?
Watkins: My personal musical influences were definitely The Cure, Bauhaus, Ministry and Skinny Puppy. Pretty much in that order.
Hudis: I heard some Robert Smith influence on the CD.
Watkins: Yeah, there is definitely some Robert Smith in there. When I was a kid, I would just set up a tape player and I would sing along with The Cure. I would just plug the microphone and the tape into the same player, and after a while it got to be impossible to get that influence out. As cool a guy as Robert Smith is, you do get tired of hearing it after a while. It's been a concentrated effort to let some of the other guys through.
Hudis: How do you guys write?
Watkins: One cool thing about this band is that everybody writes. We'll go off on our own and tinker around with ideas and bring in a skeleton of a song. We'll all get together and play on those and then decide what we like and don't like about it. Once all the pieces are finished, then we just arrange around the vocals. It usually starts organically from guitars and then if we hear different things that we want the electronics to do, then we'll let that back us up...Amazingly, even as different as a lot of our influences are, it would almost be impossible to tell which ideas are whose. When you mix them up, they all flow, and that's really uncommon.
Hudis: How long have you been together?
Watkins: We started last February, so we've been around about nine months. We took the first 3 months and just wrote and jammed and got used to playing with each other. We're still feeling it out, but it gets better every time.
Hudis: How did the CD on Elemental come about?
Watkins: We've known Cassandra and Erin from the label since they were in Eugene. They're up here now. We used to talk to John Bolt, the previous owner, not necessarily because we wanted on his label, but more because we wanted to pick his brain for a little bit of industry knowledge. Then Cassandra took it over and the label really started to move. More of the stuff that we were interested in was happening and that was publicity and all-ages shows--getting to younger people.
Hudis: I noticed in the music that you really have a lot of electronic sequencing
going on.
Watkins: We'll always approach the sequenced stuff with the intent that it is not going to be the focal point of the music. We are always going to keep the rhythm section as the dominant part of the music. We like the electronic backing because it adds melody. It really accentuates the drums on the recording, and, in a live situation, it adds a certain danceability to the music; the song can be totally hard and pounding and be danceable at the same time. So, those that want to show up and rock-out can go crazy, and then we can have everyone from the little kids to the ladies around the outside diggin' the beat.
Hudis: Are you going to try and aim any of this at dance clubs at all?
Watkins: We are, actually. We have some awesome people working on some remixes for us. We've already done a couple and have sent them to the clubs. A few of the girls at Sassy's and at Doc's have a remix of a song that Keith did called "Deep Cut," and that's working out really well. We're also having Dan Reed work on a remix right now. There is another guy, Keith, from the band Dahlia, who is doing one, too. Hopefully, those are all going to be spread around the clubs, and we're going to milk it all the way.
Hudis: Have you guys noticed since getting some play in dance clubs that there
are more women showing up?
Watkins: We actually have. There's a lot more each time. Girls are starting to rock again. I'm not sure where the transition point was, but for a while there, you were just less apt to see a large quantity of girls at a hard rock show. A successful point for us is that we have the combination of being really in your face and really danceable at the same time.
Hudis: What do you think about the state of rock right now?
Watkins: Regionally, there are a lot of great people here. As far as the overall scheme, it's hard to say. I'm not a big fan of the hip-hop metal scene, but they are doing a lot for the heavy scene in general by keeping the door open and keeping labels looking at heavy bands. I haven't had a chance to hear the new Marilyn Manson, and I'm really looking forward to hearing that. From what I understand, it's going to get back to the heavy shit. Rap metal is definitely the most dominant thing at this point in time and I just don't have that much good to say about it.
Hudis: It seems to me that the large record companies just decide to throw the big promo money behind a lot of acts that just fucking blow.
Watkins: Exactly...and you can tell people what they like if you put enough money into it. If you play it for them enough times and tell them that this is what's cool, then Joe Blow radio listener gets affected by the power of repetition. They just keep throwing it at you until it gets stuck in your head and then you go and buy it. I would say that the people who are truly keeping heavy music alive aren't necessarily in our type of genre at all; it's the people like Pantera and Slayer. Those bands who pack the house everywhere, they go and kick your ass every time without ever having a radio hit. They just get up there and beat your ass because they rock, not because they're pretty boys or because they have a bunch of money behind them. At Rockfest, Slayer put everybody in their place. They just crushed. Slipknot, as rippin' as they are, had to go up after them, and just looked like poseurs. It just put everybody in line.


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