Friday, October 22, 2010
Interview with Elctrikchair!!
Interview conducted outside Duffy's in Lawrence, KS, on May 14, 2010.
WULF: So! You guys have just put out "Xenophobia". New album. What I'd like to say is congratulations on doing all that, and while I follow a basic outline to my interviews because I'm pretty inexperienced, you can feel free to deviate (from my questions), do whatever you want. So, what I'd like to say is-- basic starter question, how has the reception been so far on your end for this album?
BOBBY: Fantastic. It's been selling out of FYE, sold out of Relapse.com, sold out of Tower Records, sold out of Angelo's in Denver, Colorado, selling out of Best Buy, selling out of Amazon, it's been good. Really good reaction.
ANDY: And especially where we're living, every single store sold out of (it), and each store had twenty copies each.
BOBBY: Hastings sold out in the first week.
ANDY: So the album is surprisingly doing a lot better than I expected, honestly. Without any promotion or help. We're finally getting promotion on the new record, we're going to be in the next issue of Hails and Horns, coming out June 23. Maris the Great did a review, and he also...killed us (laughs)
KENNETH: Basically we got covered in a bunch of meat and stage blood and it was a fun experience. (laughs)
WULF: I saw that! That's awesome.
BOBBY: He made me lay in the snow, that kind of sucked. (laughs) "Lay in the snow while I kick dust on you!" "This better be worth it, Maris!" (laughs) But he made me the cover boy so I can't bitch.
WULF: That's awesome. I did read that interview, it was very entertaining. So, for this new album, I would like to ask, while I enjoyed (all) of the tracks, I really liked (the obvious highlights) which I would say are "Xenophobia" and "Celebrity Media Whore"... you guys can answer this each individually or whatever, but what would you say would be your (personal) favorite tracks for the album?
BOBBY: Of course you point at me first. (laughs) Strangely enough my favorite to listen to is "Dark Crystal". And the reason why is that even though we do that weird, odd hardcore breakdown at the end, the way we did it was so Mr. Bungle-y I loved it. (laughs) I just loved it.
KENNETH: I'd say my favorite is "Celebrity Media Whore". It's very catchy, it's got a good groove to it, I just love it.
ANDY: (For me) it's kind of a cross between several different songs. I would have to say my favorite is, out of all of them, "Blackened War", the oldest out of that whole bunch. We've actually had "Blackened War" since the "Citicorps" age. What happened was we did a lot of changes on the record to update the song. Another one is actually "Crossroads". A lot of people will be surprised I picked that one because that (one) was our more mainstream-sounding song. The reason why I picked that one is because it was about my friend who died in a car accident many years (ago). It bothered me for several years until I finally actually had the balls to write a song about it. (laughs)
WULF: I'm sorry to hear that your friend died.
ANDY: Thank you.
WULF: OK...now, if I were to say there was a particularly difficult track to record on this album...not that I'm doubting your proficiency as musicians or anything like that, but was there a track that you guys felt, individually or otherwise, particularly hard to nail in the studio?
KENNETH: Absolutely "Xenophobia".
BOBBY: The time changes. It goes from 8/4 to 4/4, it's at 400 beats-per-minute, and just in general to nail that eight-minute song in one take was a bitch. (laughs)
KENNETH: Yeah, it's tough.
ANDY: I would have to say "End of the World Watcher", surprisingly. You'd think that song's easy, but we had to do some interesting split-tracks in order to get the riff down, which was weird because I've never had to do a split-track before! (laughs) What it was was Eric Graves came up with a new technique because he's using pro-tools and he showed (us) new ways of making sure the riff will come out cleaner and I looked at him like he was on drugs when he asked me to do some of this stuff but I was like, "alright...". But I listened to him because a great mind will craft a great record and that's pretty much how we follow our formulas. We want the producers to help us craft the right record. Maybe what I think is right may not be what he (thinks) is right. He was on Prosthetic Records, he was in The Esoteric. I would say he would know more about what is going to sell out there than someone like me. So he showed us how to craft this record pretty proficiently, and I felt "Into the World Watcher" was the one song he showed us how to craft properly, and it took a long time to actually get that song done. It took about a month to do that song.
WULF: So more about the album. When I interviewed you for the radio show, which was not recorded, the album was kind of a concept album lyrically. Is that true?
ANDY: That is very true. Basically what starts off as a black plague...well, first it starts off with just the intro, which is "Revelation 9", which is basically starting off with the beginning...creation, whatever. Hot lava flowing everywhere. And then it skips ahead to the Dark Ages. We're talking about the Black Plague...the Bubonic Plague killing off everybody, destroying everything. Satan running rampant, owning the human race, which actually proves his dominance over God. That's what we wanted. Then it shows the progression to "Celebrity Media Whore"...false idols, not in the Christian sense, but we follow any type of false being whether it's Jesus Christ--
KENNETH: Paris Hilton.
ANDY: Paris Hilton, which is the modern Jesus, in my opinion. The story is about a girl who they grabbed out of high school and turned into a major star. Gave her everything...the typical story. She ends up becoming a crack whore at the end of the video, and dies of a heroin overdose. So we show the progression from there. Then by "Xenophobia", it skips to another story, where a kid, who is supposedly the Antichrist, is being hunted down by a bunch of Christians. What happens is that he lashes out and kills all the Christians that were going after him. It's basically like a fantasy story, kind of like the Blaxploitation films that they had back in the day where they showed black superheroes, like Supafly and stuff like that, destroying their white adversaries and showing black liberation. It's kind of in the same light, except it's atheist/Satanic liberation.
BOBBY: There's a point to all the time changes in "Xenophobia". All those weird jazz runs and all of that...that represents this kid's mind. He's going insane. And the "Xe-No!" (part) of "Xenophobia", those are representing stab wounds from it.
ANDY: And so basically we're telling a story from that...then, chapter five. This is "Blackened War". This is where we decided to start the concept because that song was actually a political song talking about the Iraq War originally. We changed up the lyrics and we talked about the War of Armageddon instead. Where everybody is against everybody, nuclear bombs are going off, everyone getting sick, getting destroyed. Diseases running rampant, and famine...everything. So basically everything's just chaotic. Then you've got "End of the World Watcher", which is basically the beginning of everything. This is about the year 2012. Now, granted, in my real-life thinking, I know I shouldn't even be saying this...I don't believe the world is going to end in 2012, but I know it's kind of a cool concept. (laughs) So what we did was link up with Phil Webb. He has muscular dystrophy. He's actually one of the head captains of the New York Death Militia in Nebraska. He helped write the lyrics to that song. He was showing us a lot of political concepts of destruction and chaos, and what we did is use his writings and incorporate (them into our songs). So we actually had help from Phil Webb because I promised him I would make sure to get one of his lyrics on one of our tracks and I'll go ahead and throw my input in there, that way it's still Elctrikchair's and I still have my writing credentials because I've got a weird thing about other people writing my music and lyrics for me. (laughs) At the very end, the last chapter, is "Dark Crystal". "Dark Crystal" was basically where the meteor comes. We make it sound all happy and make it sound more Avenged Sevenfold-y...I know I hate to use that term because it kills all of our metal credibility but the reason why I made it sound so happy is because everybody's dying. It's like a total contradiction. So everyone's getting fucking killed by this big ol' meteor, but it's--
BOBBY: It's ending the chaos.
ANDY: It's ending the chaos, so it's like a calm. So the final breakdown...the reason why we use the breakdown, was to show the final destruction. The world's dying. It's over.
BOBBY: The meteor just hit. The screaming represents everybody just screaming. We're thinking about doing a video of it where at the very end, right as we do the breakdown, we're disintegrating ourselves, but we're still playing the song and it will be a nice concept.
ANDY: That was basically supposed to be the end of the album. What we ended up doing was add a couple of tracks. The progressive jazz song, "Homeless", was actually supposed to be on "Citicorps", previously. We did not put it on there for the political content, because we already got enough heat for that last record, and it actually got pulled from shelves for attacking George W. Bush. We got blatantly attacked a terrorist band for calling him a stupid fuck, basically. (laughs)
BOBBY: On the front cover, I blatantly put George Bush with glowing eyes burning the Constitution. You couldn't get anymore blatant than that. (laughs)
ANDY: And as former punk rockers from back in the day we've always had a political concept. I've been around the crust punk scene...I'm talking about legitimate punk rock, not "Johnny Punk-Rocker" who wore Blink-182 (shirts). Blink-182 is not a punk band by the way. (laughs) Anyway, we ended up with the last song, "Crossroads". The reason why we made it such a long epic was because I promised the (family of the friend that died) that...well, what happened was that he was drunk driving and hit a cow, got decapitated. It bothered me for several years after the fact. I had a hard time dealing with that, because I actually lived with the guy. He was my roommate in school when I was going to Colorado State University at the time. That weekend we wore black armbands for his death. A lot of people thought a band-mate died but the one thing I regret is that we were supposed to do a show but it got jacked-up and he didn't get a chance to see us. I've been living with that for a long time, so we ended up writing "Crossroads" and making it really special to honor his family, so I put a little cheesy lyrics in there talking about skateboarding (and stuff). I talked about stuff that he liked to do, and I left myself out of that song. But it was really tough to deal with the whole thing, so it was my way of coping with it. Kind of like my final goodbye. So that's why with the album, if you guys order it through any type of distro or whatever, you'll see a dedication to my buddy Josh. And every year when the anniversary (of his death) comes up I write on his Facebook wall. He's still got it up, his family looks at it pretty (regularly), so I had a hard time dealing with that whole thing. There was a big funeral down in Trinidad, Colorado and if it wasn't for his death the metal show down there (on the radio) would have never happened. I put together a radio program as a dedication to his life and that's how that song kind of got started. So it was kind of in a way bringing metal to a smaller town, and I thought that was pretty cool. But that's why that song is so special. The last song we did "Remember the Fallen", I'm a huge German thrash fan and--
WULF: A Sodom cover.
ANDY: Oh, I love Sodom dude. We wanted to do it justice, I felt the Dark Funeral version wasn't very good in my personal opinion. A lot of people are going to stab me once they see this written. (laughs)
BOBBY: No, no, just the Gaahl fans and the Dark Funeral fans.
ANDY: I mean, I love black metal, don't get me wrong, but I wanted to make sure I did the song justice, so that was the key and so we just went ahead and threw that in as a bonus track.
WULF: OK, well I guess that covers the whole album then. If anybody doesn't have any final comments (I'll move on). So for future plans, then, you guys have talked about this being the only Kansas appearance you guys will be playing for your upcoming tour. Would you like to talk about that?
ANDY: With the upcoming tour we're going to start off here, but right now we're taking it slow because there's going to be a lot of breaks in between, just to get stuff together before the big summer tour. In the next two weeks we're going to be playing the El Diablo Metal Fest with Zombie Hate Brigade, they're on Crash Records.
BOBBY: It's the biggest metal fest in New Mexico, period.
ANDY: So we're going to be going down there for that, and then we're going to come home for a couple weeks because I've got some (University of Kansas) stuff I've got to take care of. But then we're going to be hitting the road with the Exmortus guys and Witchaven. And we'll be jumping off to Bakersfield (California) and doing some shows out in California and we're going to be going all the way up into Vancouver, Canada and then just kind of going around the upper west coast of Canada and then sink back down and end the tour in Arizona. We're actually going to start the tour in Arizona and just kind of (go from there). We did a special show tonight because Bob's graduating from high school so we did this special show as an "invite-only" show. Basically it was a fun, party show for you guys. The bands were all good tonight and I really enjoyed everything.
BOBBY: This actually beat out my birthday show last year. We brought in bands from Colorado and bands from Omaha (Nebraska), we had the fire marshal shut down the Boobie Trap because it just got that full. I had more fun at this show.
ANDY: And it's funny too because originally we booked that show for Avenger of Blood. They broke up right before that show happened.
BOBBY: So we decided, "why don't we have Bob just pick his favorite bands we've played with over the years?" So I literally called them all up, one by one, and said, "get your asses down here, we're playing at the 'Trap, it's going to be sold out, get down here!" (laughs)
ANDY: And so we ensured that everyone was going to enjoy themselves.
WULF: Good! Well, OK, so if I'm not mistaken then, you guys have planned out a video now for "Celebrity Media Whore"?
ANDY: What we're going to do is hire an actress to (play) the "Teenage Mistress", is what we call her. Basically the queen damsel-in-distress that dies in a bloody mess. (laughs)
BOBBY: Basically, the Lindsay Lohan type of figure.
ANDY: Except she dies. (laughs) What we're going to do is to make it special we're going to shoot it at Oldfather (Studios), just because I want it done by local guys. We're actually going to have film majors do it, get them started. Since we got the slot on MTV 2's Headbanger's Ball to do this, we want to do it more independently. The problem was that we had a few lineup changes. We were actually supposed to have this done back in January. We didn't do it because we lost our guitar player and I don't even want to talk about what happened to our bass player because it's not appropriate for me to express what happened to him.
KENNETH: We had a keyboard player for awhile.
ANDY: And she didn't work out, so we ended up moving Ken off of keyboards (and on to bass).
KENNETH: I had been playing keyboards, so I moved on to play bass.
WULF: OK, now, just as a side-note, a sub-question, was it difficult to move from keyboards to bass? Not to doubt your bass-playing skills--
KENNETH: No, it wasn't because I also play guitar and to learn it on keyboards I learned the guitar parts as well, so I know the guitar parts, the bass parts, and the keyboard parts.
WULF: Interesting. Now to get close to the end here, is there a particular city that you guys enjoy playing more than others? Who has the craziest Elctrikchair fans, would you say?
BOBBY: Oh, Wisconsin. We got the wall of death going, they stopped the show. (laughs)
WULF: Wisconsin, where?
BOBBY: Milwaukee. We got the wall of death going during "Xenophobia", I think someone Youtube'd it and put it online. It got so out of hand they stopped it because the guard-rail snapped.
ANDY: I'm going to have to say New York City. CBGB's. It was weird because at the time we were doing the whole "New Generation of Thrash" thing, during the "Citicorps" era. We were transferring over still. We were melodic death, then we kept flirting with thrash still. We had a bunch of actual, straight up New York hardcore kids show up.
BOBBY: We have a lot of FSU fans out there. A lot of FSU fans.
ANDY: We never figured out why because we were never, like, a hardcore band. Not even remotely close, but what I felt was cool was that they created this thing called "harshing". They were literally jumping off the stage while hardcore dancing and moshing at the same time. They were beating the shit out of each other, like cage fighting, a guy who broke his nose put it back into place. That was probably the most violent pit, to this day.
BOBBY: The stage was collapsing. I got hit by a tooth. They were jumping on the sound system. It was some crazy shit, and this place was packed like a sardine can, so I'm going, "if I die, at least it will be worth it!" (laughs) Henry Rollins would be proud. (laughs)
ANDY: That was the one highlight in our career that we actually got to embrace the venue that pretty much birthed rock 'n' roll that mattered. That's what I call it. I don't say just, "metal, punk, whatever". It all came from that club.
BOBBY: This was the venue that when we found out we were playing there, Andy and I looked at each other and we acted like a couple of teenage school girls.
ANDY: I'd waited my whole career to play there. If Elctrikchair just failed after that, I'd die a happy man. That's all I wanted.
BOBBY: That's really what kicked it off to take this even more seriously than we already were. After that, we looked at each other like "what else can we do?" Next goal? Wacken. (laughs)
WULF: That would be badass, for sure. OK, I have two more questions to ask. Who is the craziest band that you've ever toured with, or who is the craziest band you've played with behind the scenes?
ANDY: That's a tough one. I would have to say...oh God...
WULF: Feel free to say why or not (laughs)
ANDY: Dundee Strangler or...I would have to say...what was the other band that was all jacked up? Throwing beer bottles in the back...what were they called? I'm drawing a blank...Stillborn Portrait. They were literally doping up before every show (laughs).
BOBBY: That band disappeared in the middle of the tour. It was kind of like, "uhhh...OK?" (laughs)
ANDY: Yeah, no one knows what happened, they just kind of dropped off, out of nowhere.
WULF: Crazy dudes, huh? What was this band called?
ANDY: Stillborn Portrait. Out of San Francisco. They're just very bad drug addicts, but Dundee (Strangler) was crazier because we went to Perkins and they were throwing glasses and food at each other...it was ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it.
BOBBY: It was one of those, "we don't know that band" moments. (laughs)
WULF: Now my last question is, before I take any more of your time, you guys are going on tour...I want to know if there are any plans for your future, besides your music video? As far as new music goes, what's going to happen?
ANDY: Actually, I can answer this question probably better than anybody else. We're going in a very new direction on this (next) album. On "Xenophobia" we wanted to showcase every aspect of our speed...how many notes we can throw into a song, out fast we can play. On this new album we're going to emphasize slower tempos. We're going to emphasize the doom metal aspect of our career. We flirted with it tonight. We jammed it (out) a little bit. But it's only going to be for a couple tracks. We're still going to keep the traditional Elctrikchair sound, we're not going to forget who we are. We know who we are, and so we're going to continue doing what we're doing, but at the same time we're going to add new elements. On my own end I've been listening to a lot of Amorphis and Anathema.
WULF: Old or new Amorphis and Anathema?
ANDY: With Anathema, I would have to say more old, because they're straight up doom/sludge. Also I would say new Amorphis, on the other end, because they're more progressive, they dropped the death metal element, except on "Silent Waters".
BOBBY: Theme-wise, we're getting a little more experimental. This is going to be based on the human mind and how it slowly goes insane.
ANDY: We're doing more concepts. I feel that the band is talented enough to pull off actual concepts, we're telling stories now. I want people to pay that ten dollars and realize that they're getting their money's worth. I don't want cheap songs on the next record, I want masterpieces. If it's not a masterpiece, it doesn't belong on that record. That's how I feel about it and that's how it's going to be. You know deep down not everyone's not going to like what you're doing, but at the same time you've got to be satisfied knowing in your mind that it was worth every penny that you put into it.
WULF: Alright, well I think that about does it! Would anyone like to add anything otherwise?
ANDY: I'd like to thank our fans, over the years, who have come and gone. We respect you guys. The fans are the one's who make the band, hands down.
BOBBY: I want to give a shout-out to one of my friends over the years who supported me when we were playing to the sound guy. Not the people that come back and turn around and go "oh you're big now, I'm your best friend!" No, I'm talking the legitimate people, the die-hards. And they still follow us, to this day I get phone calls every day from them. I've got to thank them.