Thursday, January 22, 2009

BLOODYMINDED Exoteric Interview

While we are on the subject of interviews, Aldo from Exoteric/Nil By Mouth was kind enough to allow me to post this print-only interview that he conducted with me last year. It was published in Exoteric #4, in July 2008


Intrinsic Action formerly. BLOODYMINDED afterword. What are the most important differences between your main creatures?

The point of ending Intrinsic Action and starting BLOODYMINDED was to put to rest the old group after 11 years (1984-1995) of activity – to get rid of any unwanted baggage that I was dragging along – and to move onto something even more extreme, sonically, if possible. But true to form with how I tend to operate, it just so happened that the last three members of Intrinsic Action (Megan Emish, Angel Ramos, and myself) were also the first three members of BLOODYMINDED.

Is there a sort of parallel evolution also with your record activity, which led you from AWB to Bloodlust’s creation?

Without citing the entire history of AWB Recording, I had absolutely no interest in continuing with – or being associated with – the political side of that label. It was no reflection of me - of my interests or my personality – or of whom I was as a person. The idea of a clean break certainly presented itself at about the same time as with the bands, even if a bright light bulb did not pop up over my head in the most obvious way.

Among the many projects produced by AWB and Bloodlust there are Mauthausen Orchestra, Iugula-Thor and Sigillum S. Three Italian projects belonging to the old guard. What relationship do you have with the old Italian scene? Do you think that there are still noteworthy projects nowadays?

I was listening to M.B. at a pretty early point and I became increasingly interested in Mauthausen Orchestra. I began writing to, and ordering cassettes from, Aquilifer Sodality (Andrea Cernotto - later of The Sodality – at that point) in the early- to mid-1980s. My old girlfriend (and band mate in Intrinsic Action), Pamela Lynch, and I, had an opportunity to spend a summer in Venice, Italy, in 1987. While we were in Italy, we took the train to Milan, to meet Andrea. He brought along Paolo Bandera from Sigillum S, and the rest is history. I released a Sigillum S 7-inch in 1990, and I am now releasing a CD EP that collects the Sigillum S output on AWB Recording, in honour of their upcoming Chicago show (June 7, 2008). Over the years, our friendships developed, I met more of the Milan crowd, and there have been several return trips to Milan – while I have also had the pleasure of hosting several of the Milanese in Brooklyn and in Chicago. I did not meet Andrea Chiaravalli (Iugula-Thor) until the mid-1990s, while I was in New York, but we made up for lost time and we quickly recorded our collaboration (“Ensemble Sacres Garcons”). Paolo’s Sshe Retina Stimulants solo project has been an integral part of the fabric of BloodLust!, while Pierpaolo Zoppo, as Mauthausen Orchestra and M.O., has had an increasing number of releases on the label in the last 10 years.

After the busy mid-1990s rise of newer Italian p.e. and noise artists, like Atrax Morgue (R.I.P. Marco!), Murder Corp., Dead Body Love/Discordance, Progetto Morte, etc., it seemed to get a bit more quiet there by the 2000s. At least, I had very little contact with the scene, except maybe a bit of correspondence with Marco Deplano of Wertham (oh, and you). More recently, I have been in contact with Nicola Vinciguerra from the Turgid Animal label, and last November, BLOODYMINDED had four U.K. dates with Nicola, who was performing as Fecalove. In fact, Fecalove gives me great hope (and even some despair) for the future of Italian noise! Also, Gabriele Giuliani of D.B.L. has recently been back in contact, and it seems, back in action.

And what about the American scene? I think that it’s currently very dynamic and rich in interesting projects. What do you think?

The scene here in the USA is so much stronger than it ever was. When Intrinsic Action was ending and BLOODYMINDED was starting, there was Jonathan Canady transitioning from his industrial metal band, Dead World, into his power-electronics band, Deathpile. Taint was a long-term p.e. guy. Greg Scott from Final Solution was working under the name Hydra. Death Squad was going strong. Mid-1990s noise was really growing here: Macronympha, Strict, Skin Crime, Black Leather Jesus, etc. And in the period of our transition was the genesis of Slogun.

Now, I think that there are multiple scenes that overlap and that interact with each other. The new noise scene that developed here on the late-1990s and early-2000s, led, no doubt, by Wolf Eyes, has been instrumental in revitalizing BLOODYMINDED and BloodLust! The people in the Detroit scene, in particular, embraced what we were doing, and really helped to breath life back into us, during a semi-quiet period. This would be the greater Wolf Eyes/Detroit family – also including Aaron Dilloway (now in Oberlin, Ohio) – Hair Police (Lexington, Kentucky) – Greh Holger (Hive Mind, Cleanse, Chondritic Sound, etc.), Gary Beauvais (Mammal, Animal Disguise Recordings), Charlie Draheim, Ryan Oppermann (Redrot, etc.).

At the same time, on the East Coast – in Providence, Rhode Island, in particular – we were becoming friends with Prurient – Dominick Fernow also strongly supported our work – along with Peter Lee of Force of Nature (and the project Bereft) – and other Providence/Boston groups/projects such as Immaculate:Grotesque, Karlheinz, White Mice, Dropdead, etc.

Now?!? Jesus, I could fill a page about the American scene... but for this zine, of note, is the explosion of power-electronics. The guys in Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck just hosted a festival in Boston, in March 2008, which we played, and which showcased the new American p.e. scene pretty nicely. Besides the mighty TDS OGF, there is Sharpwaist, Cathode Terror Secretion, Halflings, FFH, Shallow Waters...just to name a few. Add in another BloodLust! Family member, Climax Denial, from Milwaukee. I have also enjoyed p.e. releases from Pleasure Fluids and from Liver Mortis. New Pledgemaster from outside of Detroit is on the rise. A recent discovery is Rape-X, who are from near Philadelphia, PA.

And just naming just a few other USA artists that I enjoy playing, touring with, or listening to: Envenomist/Luasa Raelon, C. Spencer Yeh/Burning Star Core, Mouthus, Religious Knives, Emeralds, Tusco Teror, David Russell, Cadaver in Drag, Raccoo-oo-oon, Sickness, 16 Bitch Pile-Up, Sword Heaven, Carlos Giffoni, Wilt, Demons, Graveyards, Lambsbread, Silvum, etc. Also, naming only Chicago noise/exprimental artists could take a while... Blake Edwards/Vertonen, Jason Soliday (I also play with Blake and Jason in Animal Law:, Locrian, Druids of Huge, Kevin Drumm, Winters in Osaka, Shattered Hymen, Plastic Boner Band, Pisspisspiss Moanmoanmoan, Death Factory, Number None, Neil Jendon/Abduction, Bruce Lamont, Oakeater, etc., etc...

(With apologies to people that I am undoubtedly forgetting!)

Let’s talk about BLOODYMINDED once again. A direct question comes suddenly to me: you often avail yourself of a female collaboration (with Intrinsic Action, too): Pamela Lynch, Megan Emish, Nicole. Why did you choose to collaborate with a category, which doesn’t often take part in the noise scene? Do you think that women can give a considerable contribution to the power-electronics scene?

Why did I choose? Why wouldn’t I choose to do so? While there are certainly less women in the noise scene, and particularly in p.e., my best times in bands are with people who I enjoy spending time with. So it would make sense that if girlfriends – or friends who are girls – would want to join in the fun, then that would be the same (Possibly better? Possibly worse, too) as with any guys who would play in the band. And there were at least two other women in Intrinsic Action, during the New York period: Razz and Sarah. And can women make a contribution to p.e.? Of course they can, but the percentage of women actively participating in the genre is so small, so the impact may be less noticeable. But in America, there are more and more women in noise groups, so maybe it is more common here, now, than in Europe???

The miniCD “Mothercare” and the first BLOODYMINDED CD “Trophy” are studded with sonic bullets of a very short duration. A rough, spare and skeletal form, which takes inspiration from punk culture. Do you agree with my statement? If you do, can you explain us something more? How much important was a punk background to Mark Solotroff?

You are quite correct. Punk and early grindcore, of course. This was a big part of the transition from Intrinsic Action to BLOODYMINDED – the desire to record and perform these blast songs – although they remain a staple part of our live show, to this day. I was listening to first wave punk from practically the beginning… Sex Pistols, Damned, etc. It is what led me to industrial groups, like Throbbing Gristle, S.P.K., Cabaret Voltaire, etc., in the first place. But it has a lot to do with discovering Discharge, around the same time as I began listening to early p.e. groups like Whitehouse, Sutcliffe Jugend, and Mauthausen Orchestra. Discharge is every bit as important to me as any early p.e. band. I saw Discharge for the first time (November 1983) within a year of seeing Whitehouse for the first time (June 1984) – and at the same club, too – The Cubby Bear. Each show offered intense sound, violent presentation, and an element of possible danger. Within a couple of years the transition to early Earache and Peaceville bands sort of sealed my interest in the short-form “blast.” We have covered the Napalm Death song, “You Suffer,” during several live shows. At one horrible show a couple of years ago, it was actually the ONLY song that we played!

The reprint on digital format of the Intrinsic Action singles under the name Peepland is recent. Peep shows, prostitution and sexclubs have always been a great source of inspiration for I.A. What do you want to communicate with this kind of elements?

I think it is simply an expression of this inspiration. It was all very in keeping with the early power-electronics aesthetic, right?

On that point, are you used to go to places devoted to extreme sex? What happens inside such rooms? Some curious anecdote?

Chicago used to be more interesting, for me, in those terms – and happily – I lived in New York before Times Square was erased. I do have many curious anecdotes, but I will leave them to peoples’ imaginations. Certainly, elements have been included in Intrinsic Action and BLOODYMINDED lyrics…

“True Crime” is BLOODYMINDED’s criminal synthesis. The serial-killing manifesto according to Mark Solotroff. What led you to release an album, which turns around such an overworked topic? What reasons lead you to get interest in true crime?

“True Crime” is a strange thing, because we started working on it in New York, in 1997, but it was not released until 2002. Granted, there were a couple of quiet years in there (1999-2000) for BLOODYMINDED, too. The point of that CD was really to put the topic to rest, once and for all… even if it happened later than I had originally planned. I just did not want to only be associated with the true crime thing, as I had been doing it since early on with Intrinsic Action. I think that I just started losing interest. The contemporary crimes were getting less spectacular, I was reading fewer books in that category, and groups like Slogun and Deathpile seemed to be approaching that type of subject matter with greater passion. I also felt that it was time for me to delve deeper into more personal subject matter and life experiences.

Let’s talk about the videoclip of “Chinatown”. How was this idea born? What message comes from those images?

“Chinatown” was basically developed from a period of time when I spent a tremendous amount of time in NYC’s Chinatown, soaking up the culture in this city-within-a-city. The video is actually shot in Chicago’s Chinatown, which is much smaller. The artist who made it, Dan Fiedler, accurately captured the narrative of the song, along with the general mood that I was trying to convey. It is one small aspect of BLOODYMINDED that I am 100% satisfied with.

After “True Crime”, you released “Gift Givers”. This album turns around the infamous ‘gift giving’ phenomenon. Why did you choose to deal with such an awkward and dangerous theme? Have you ever been present at some episodes of ‘gift giving’?

As I began to mention above, “Gift Givers” marks a transition into much more personal territory, exploring situations that I have been in, or that I have witnessed through girlfriends or friends… along with other themes related to self-harm and generally bad choices and behaviour. “Gift giving” is a broad term. Obviously, the public knows it mostly in relation to HIV/AIDS. But I think that the definition can be much broader. I have definitely been involved with and around other aspects of gifting, for better or for worse. Most simply put, my specific interest is in how far a person might go to feel closer to another person. I think that this is a fascinating concept, especially in the cold and distant age of e-mail, IM, text messages, etc.

Let’s talk about artworks. Both “True Crime” and “Gift Givers” are marked out with original and particular graphics. Floral designs and multicoloured butterflies. What do you want to communicate with those images? At a first sight they don’t have anything in common with your music.

In fact, these more nature-based images have everything to do with my music and my lyrics/subject matter. The indicators are all there in the songs. And come on, how long can a guy keep using the same old types of typical p.e. designs?!?! For me, “Magnetism” took that direction to the logical extreme. This ongoing artistic direction was instinctively developed through personal iconography, interests, and experiences.

The booklet of “Gift Givers” shows a skeletal, gaunt body. An anorexic girl. And a song entitled “Pro-Ana”. Can you talk us about this obsession, wound, mania?

It is just a subject and an aesthetic that I have followed for a many, many years, based upon personal interactions with certain people in my life. During the “Gift Givers” era, I was pretty obsessed with Pro-Ana LiveJournal pages and related websites. The thinner, the winner?

“Magnetism” is an episode that reminds of the analogical experimentations of “Bad Jack”. What leads you towards this way as regards of the most violent and ‘in your face’ attitude of BLOODYMINDED?

“Magnetism” was another breaking point for me, with BLOODYMINDED. It is my most personal project, to date. I wanted to move to another place in regards to how a song, or a theme, was presented. I allowed the song titles (and the complete album, of course) to make the statements that I felt were necessary. At the same time, I was increasingly interested in harnessing the feedback sounds that are so important to BLOODYMINDED – and for the last few years – my solo performances. I view it as the most pure BLOODYMINDED statement, yet.

A very curious side of “Magnetism” are the songs’ titles. Are they evidences of a particular experience? Maybe Pro-Ana chronicles?

I started to address this in the last question, but let me assure you that every song on that CD is directly based upon an actual personal experience. Maybe it would help to reveal the original working title for the album: “My Love Life.” While I was working on the recording, I remembered something that my mother had asked me several years earlier, and the term “magnetism” popped into my head. Now it is like a vernacular term in discussions with band members and friends. Pieter (Schoolwerth) implicitly understands the idea of magnetism, and Isidro (Reyes) has known me for so long that he had even been around during some of those “episodes.”

How was the idea of the tape series “Phase: One” born?

The “PHASES” series, which now actually includes the cassette, “PHASES : ONE” – the CD-R, “PHASES :TWO” – and soon, a triple 7-inch set, “PHASES : THREE” (Rococo Records) – and a one-sided 12-inch, “PHASES : FOUR” (Land o’Smiles/Black Lodge Series) – was meant as a way to further explore the sonic landscape that I started with “Magnetism” – to amplify the aspect of purer sound, maybe. It has been an opportunity to develop and to broaden the type of music that is typically associated with BLOODYMINDED. I think that as I was having old Intrinsic Action recordings re-mastered, and I was listening to the Source Control (SCTL) tapes, I was inspired by that long-form style… an maybe it is an analogue to the “blast” songs??? After nearly 13 years with BLOODYMINDED, I think that it is very important to keep challenging our audience, my band members, and myself. The “BLOODYMINDED PLAYS BLOODYMINDED” recording is another example of this interest. Beyond that, there was also a certain influence from the Virgin Prunes “New Forms of Beauty” series. Those Virgin Prunes re-releases had recently come out, when I was developing the ideas for “Magnetism,” and I was listening to those CDs, fairly non-stop.

Would you like to talk about your graphic and textual contribution on the Timeless’ issue dedicated to the topic of sex as the predator’s instinct?

Xavier Laradji, who publishes TIMELESS, has been a very close and important friend for over 10 years. His energy and enthusiasm for Intrinsic Action and BLOODYMINDED is absolutely a part of how this band was re-energized in the early 2000s. Whether it is a tour or just a vacation, every time that Xavier and I meet up, we are able to share in some very similar interests and obsessions, but we also, rewardingly, share other interests that may not start in the same mutual manner. Most recently, in London (November 2007), even for only one show during our U.K. tour, I was pleased to have Xavier’s energy on stage with me. James (Moy) and I had to sadly carry on the rest of the trip without him. I think that Xavier’s work with TIMELESS is vital, and it totally embodies his interests, personality, etc., like BLOODYMINDED does, with me.

Final comments?

Aldo, I mainly need to thank you for your interest in doing this interview, in the first place --- but also, I need to profusely apologize for how long it took me to answer these questions. Some people probably know how hard I normally avoid doing interviews. I really appreciate the careful thought behind your questions. It made this much better!