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
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
Hudis: How do you guys
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
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?
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
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.