(My, how James has changed...or, how Xavier hijacked his way to Milwaukee)
Mark Solotroff and James Moy of Bloodyminded
Considering the myriad difficulties in keeping a band together, particularly in the fame and riches-averse noise underground, the fact that Bloodyminded is still a working unit and making vital music after more than a decade is a major achievement. The highly aggressive and extremely dark power-electronics outfit fronted by Chicagoan Mark Solotroff and backed by a crew of synth-wielding maniacs—including Milwaukee resident James Moy—has terrorized audiences with its sexually perverted and highly violent noise blasts for 16 years and counting. Even before that, Solotroff was a founding member of the seminal Intrinsic Action during the mid-’80s through the early ’90s. Before Bloodyminded’s show Feb. 18 with Wolf Eyes at Stonefly, The A.V. Club sat down with Moy and Solotroff to discuss the band’s history as well as the state of noise.
The A.V. Club: As one of the longer running power-electronics groups still performing in the US, how would you describe the noise world at the start of the group’s existence as compared to where noise is now?
Mark Solotroff: Well, for starters, there actually is a thriving and fairly cohesive noise scene now, compared to when Bloodyminded started in 1995, and things are certainly completely different, when I think back to starting Intrinsic Action in 1984, and how I could count my earliest contacts on the fingers of two hands. But even in 1995, “noise” as an accepted term was still emerging. It is sort of an awful, reductive, and self-deprecating marquee for this very multifaceted genre, but I have slowly and begrudgingly grown used to it. I am not sure if “power-electronics” is better or worse. In any case, everyone’s ability to start connecting via the Internet, right around the year that we began, has had a profound impact on this scene. Suddenly, small clusters of people around the U.S.A. developed stronger bonds, while the emerging Japanese noise scene linked in, and throughout Europe, previously “industrial” groups and scenes joined the picture. The rest of the world joined the party as message boards and social networking sites became commonplace. This connectivity has made it easier to tour, easier to acquire new music, and it has made it much easier to stay in touch with everyone in the scene.
AVC: With a style so focused and so stripped down, it’s hard to find any copycats, but where do you feel the group stands as a source of inspiration for newer acts?
MS: That is an interesting question, because over the past 16 years, Bloodyminded has had phases where we felt more alone out there, carrying on some lost tradition, while at other points, including right now, it seems that there are a larger number of like-minded groups working with some of the same ideas and energies that we immerse ourselves in. Maybe I see it more in a newer wave of artists and groups that have emerged over the last few years who reject the stance of the static knob-twiddler or trackball pusher, and who have brought some desperately needed showmanship into the scene.
AVC: The noise scene around Milwaukee has always been very appreciative of Bloodyminded over the years, to the point where certain songs have been dedicated to the city even if you are performing elsewhere. Where does this Milwaukee connection come from?
MS: I started playing in Milwaukee with Intrinsic Action in the mid- to late-1980s, and I have always enjoyed my time up there. When I moved back to Chicago from New York in 1997, it was not long before Bloodyminded played in Milwaukee—to a mostly unappreciative industrial club music audience, no less—at The Rave. From a handful of enthusiastic fans of the band, friendships developed, more shows were set up here and there, tours followed, and the circle of people that we know in Milwaukee continued to grow. The energy and enthusiasm that I have experienced with crowds in Milwaukee, and even when groups of Milwaukee folks come down to Chicago shows, is unbeatable. And it is much appreciated.
James Moy: Even at shows in other cities, mixed into crowds as thick as 300-400 people, I’ve seen Milwaukee folks stand out like beautifully sore thumbs with their extreme enthusiasm. Whether they’re starting pits song after song or screaming along word-for-word throughout the entire set, the Milwaukee fans are some of the best people to play to, and we sure as hell appreciate them.
AVC: The show at Stonefly is part of a multi-show run with Wolf Eyes, which seems like something of an odd pairing stylistically. How did these shows come about?
MS: First off, I enjoy playing with a lot of different types of groups. In Chicago, over the last few years, it is more likely that Bloodyminded will play with metal or punk or synth groups, as opposed to just jumping on a noise bill. That is as much about my varied tastes and interests as it is about putting together unusual and exciting shows for the audience. And as far as Wolf Eyes goes, specifically, we have played many shows with them over the years, whether in Chicago or Detroit or New York. And we have toured and played one-off shows with many of their related bands and solo projects, including Demons, Hair Police, Graveyards, Dead Machines, Failing Lights. We have been friends with those guys for ages, and from the first time that I saw them, nine or 10 years ago, I not only liked what they were doing, I appreciated that they had a sense of stage presence, which was sorely missing from the noise scene at that time. I was instantly hooked. But really, in the scheme of things, Bloodyminded and Wolf Eyes does not seem like an unusual pairing to me. The next night, in Chicago, we are playing with our friends Plague Bringer, a brutal grindcore/death metal hybrid. But even that makes perfect sense to me.