CHILDISH THINGS: REVEREND BEAT-MAN SPEAKS!

By Max Dropout

[audio:http://www.youbettershutupandlisten.com/mp3s/reverend_beatman_-_i_dont_care.mp3]

It was the delirium of insomnia and obscene alcohol that had numbed me to the nails puncturing the soles of my feet through worn down boot heels. The terrible thing about reaching the echelon of drunkenness where pain is bullshit is that every other sensation is strangely amplified; the holes in my flesh were nothing, but the sensation of coagulated blood squishing between my toes through spongy socks inspired stomach churning. I stood on the sidewalk, facing the street, me and my tattered balance, waiting for sweet relief in the form of a carbon-belching cab. My comprehension of time was stewed, but it didn’t seem too long before my order arrived.

A brine of piss, vomit, and gravel crackled beneath my feet as I stumbled strategically into my ride. The relief of being off my legs was orgasmic. Cold, plasmatic sheets of sweat seeped from my skin, though the acrid alcoholic stench was smothered by queer pina colada air fresheners, which hung throughout the cab like trophies. I fought my tongue’s inclination to slur and spoke my address clearly.

I relish these late night rides, where we pass the most detestable breed of person; barely upright, they surface only during the disgusting pre-dawn hour to prey on scantily clad and blacked out stragglers. This is the hour when all the most horrible things come to pass. Victimization pants on poorly lit streets like an obscene caller. We cruise scum baked nativities, the driver and I share a kindred chuckle. We know what goes on. We have a lot in common, actually.

To endure the notion that you are perceived as less than a man without reacting in the ordinary, macho sort of fashion is the greatest test of manhood. A better understanding of the value behind these trials is what separates the man behind the wheel and I from most people. It is the ignorant by which our patience has been weathered into steel idols of righteousness. We shimmering beacons of hospitality remain unflinching even the face of saliva-spewing frat boys and their mouth-breathing counter parts, both undoubtedly brain damaged from the atmosphere of cheap toilet water that seeps from their anus-like pores. I’m not saying I’m better than you, though. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just different. After you’ve had vomit thrown in your face, most other indignities become laughable. Beyond the hourly wage, there is a the spiritual reward: my tolerance thrives.

Behind my seemingly welcoming gaze lurks homicidal frenzy, not so much chained down as it is trained. I haven’t learned to love anybody. I’d rather sift chunks of puke out of urinal grating than process the universal niggers I humor on a nightly basis. Their banalities which often waft into my vicinity cleave into the very heart of my better disposition. When a pack of beady eyes surfing a heavy set of halitosis huffing jowls barks some half-witted insult at me, I still want to bask barefoot in their blood and squish the viscous between my toes like a summer baby does the salt water and sand. I want to pry their rip cage open and revel in the sputtering of their entire system gagging on fountains of blood. I want to pin them down on cork board like a fucking frog and hold Holy Communion with the contents of their bladder. I want to crack their cervix like a lobster and watch the remnants drip out of their slits. I want to send hairline factures through my knuckles by cracking them into their moron skulls. I want to bring their insides out. I want their disgusting souls to swell to the surface of their skin. I want to shellac those bruises so they never go away — and I want it on PBS so the next generation of rotting crotch fruit can see what happens when they don’t watch their fuckin’ P’s and Q’s. But instead of any of that, I embody restraint; I smile in the hope that whatever they lob at me next is something more interesting.

Earlier, behind bolted doors, I mix my complimentary drink with sickening pin sol fumes; the high is decompressing. My appreciation for silence continues to expand, and here the only sound is the willowy bartender’s clattering glassware and the few sighs we share together. This is a strange, healing intimacy. Her poor, untreated cough charges the air at the approximate time I void my lungs, and suddenly our weary grinning slap into one another. Once my bad humor has been solved and I’m sure it won’t be following me home, I phone for my cab.

Save for the driver’s peculiar accent, that night’s ride was standard. We sped and made polite gossip about underground politics as we wound Northbound toward my home. But as we drew nearer, a strange quiet infected the air between us. “Turn here,” I told him, and he looked back at me, strangely. We swerved onto my street while rifling through my pockets for loose bills, “It’s the house with the van in front of it. Stop there.”
As we roll into my driveway, he let out a strange, agonized groan. “I know this house.”
“Oh, yeah?” I quizzed.
“This beautiful… beautiful, girl. The most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in my life. My god, she was goooorgeous.”
He draws the adjective out until he almost sprains his tongue.

“I used to pick her up at the airport and take her here maybe three times a year. But my god, she was beautiful. Did you know her?”
A remote pang of pride takes a quick kick to the gut, and my mood goes sour again. “You could say that, I guess.”

I handed him a balled up twenty dollar bill for my twelve dollar ride, and I’ve lost interest in my change. I stumble during my escape. I trudge up the lawn, all the while my stomach disintegrating as memories start moving and hollering under all the shit I’d piled on top of them. The strange coincidence had sobered me. The pain of my punctured foot pads comes skipping back. And I saw her face again very clearly, resist as I might the memory. I fumbled for my keys, slipped inside, and stood in the relative calm of my living room, a little dazed.

I did know her. I would later refer to her as the Sistine in the shape of a girl. Despite the hardship and bitterness that swelled within me after our parting, I hadn’t yet developed the disgust you can use to generate distance. Simply put, she was the sort of quality woman whom you’d need to go vampire for just to get over. There just isn’t enough mortal time left to forget. Recouping from her was like recovering from a haunting, and ghosts don’t just fade, though they might vacation from time to time.

I spent the previous summer in a haze of knuckle dragging brutality following that break-up. I had developed a sense of selectivity when it came to targeting people for violence. I reserved my misdirected fury for those who needed their ass kicked anyway. I deposited frustrations in impolite faces. I identified her with general aloofness, cruelty, and smugness, and anyone who shared these traits with her needed to be stamped out. Typically, anyone comfortable with lobbing threats of violence, or who likes to inflict pain has never really had a painful encounter in their life. The value of real suffering eludes them, in much the same fashion a grown up brat never appreciates the dollar they didn’t earn through their own hard work. I’ve always felt that there ought to be a human ritual, where the minute you turn 18, you get punched in the face by an ex-convict. Kind of like a primeval bat mitzvah. Experiencing suffering at an early age is an essential component to becoming a real human being. The miracle of Bone-crushing pain can till even the rockiest land, force the barren to produce, and plant the seed of empathy and caring toward your fellow human beings in even the most stubborn personality you might encounter.

Discipline is a dying thing. People often shuck personal culpability and will trample in the name of self interest. Taking the easy way out has become par for the course, and subsequently the hard road has been blocked off by its own un-manicured decline. Sacrifice and caring have become about as fantastic as the unicorn, and are soon to be mere ceramic likenesses on some senile old coot’s shelf alongside the mythical beast I just mentioned. And while I might have been doing some sort of good with the blunt illustration of my displeasure in the form of shattering wrists and breaking ribs, I wasn’t exactly exhibiting the sort of self control and responsibility I despised my victims for lacking. And so I retired the lost cause.

The hell months congealed, my temper cooled, and I slipped down a sloped corridor of depression and alcoholism. During July, I had been bitten during one of my altercations. Subsequently, I convinced myself that I had contracted some sort of social disease, as my weight fluctuated wildly, and I could not stay warm even in 90 degree heat. Over the last two years, I had directed too much of my own time into someone else. My life was bankrupt. All I wanted was sleep and solitude; hermitage. To be as unfeeling and preserved as Saint Bernadette would have been my heaven.

That interaction with the cab driver was gathering weight on my chest. I retreated to my room, collapsed on the ledge of that naked, dust mite vault I call a mattress, cracked a beer, and rifled through a stack of CDs; I had received an unlikely album earlier in the year by Reverend Beat-Man and Herpes O’Deluxe, which fast became a soundtrack to my sulking. It was everything I had been thinking, feeling, and saying for the last year, right down to the broken English. I would lay there in its grip, like some spirit stricken churchy gimp, mumbling the lyrics, and there was peace. Even that night, that crackling, whir and that ungodly strained voice seemed to assuage the tensions building in my chest. All the Beat-Man’s phantom fingers peel back my rib cage and strum the worms strung through my ventricles, as if it were some rotting harp. The reverberation rang through my body like a lullaby. I may relate to a number of records at certain points in my life, but there are few that I can truly say had any sort of therapeutic quality. Your Favorite Position Is On Your Knees is one of them and I still revisit it with an almost religious fanaticism. It remains a relevant faith-heeling testimony to righteous hatred and the power of suffering. Above all, if you’ve ever been the subject of inhumanity, this will vindicate your longing for the torture of others.

To those familiar with Beat-Man, this collaboration with Euro-industrial purists Herpes O’ Deluxe, came as a nasty swerve away from his previous trajectory. Despite the fact that a lot of his Lightening Beat-Man releases contain a good amount of extraneous grit and noise, it was too far a departure from the usual rant and rave roots revue that comprises the last twenty years of his catalog, which also includes numerous releases with odd ball rockabilly troop, The Monsters. And not only did it seem to alienate most of Beat-Man’s regular fan base, it also seemed to disorient most Herpes O’Deluxe followers as well. It’s too noisy for the garage punk people, but at the same time, it too poppy for the industrial fans. Ultimately, though, if one really examines the album and explores the primarily organic sound Herpes produces, this may very well be the most primitive album Beat-Man has yet to produce, which is ironic since the brutish nature of his music is something for which he is often lauded. Perhaps this record was just too primitive for most… It’s just too Beat-Man for the Beat-Man fans.

The terminology of primitiveness is associated with something’s basic origin. It refers to something in its purest form; something primordial; primeval; most unrefined; potent and uncut. Almost everything which follows merely hammers itself into the crater forged by that raw blast. That chasm is defined, studied, and all rules are determined by its shape and topography. That’s why so much so-called punk rock sucks shit. It’s a bunch of people doing something entirely unnatural. By the earliest and therefore most pure definition of punk, Reverend Beat-Man is one of the only real punk rockers to float to the surface over the last decade. Beat-Man’s energy is usually over the top, verging on purely animalistic in terms of instinct and fervor. But in a sense, the presence of Herpes O’Deluxe on his last LP has coaxed out a more vicious creature than previously seen. This is no party fodder. This is a trek through an inner sanctum… a side never before seen in Beat-Man’s work. Lyrically, it’s a giant leap forward and yet remains true to Voo Doo Rhythm’s primitive ethic. Creatively, Your Favorite Position Is On Your Knees is perhaps his most primitive and therefore most original work to date.

An example of the allure and charm of sheer primitivism is best exemplified by cult film maker Ed Wood, who’s work is often marketed as notoriously “the worst”‘; a marketing ploy that peaks the naturally morbid interests of almost anybody. There is something compelling enough to make his films not only unwatchable, but also worth revisiting with some frequency. What made Ed’s films so intriguing, aside from his obvious desire to create, aside from his passion, was his primeval skill. He was afflicted with a basic illiteracy when it came to the film making process. His blind execution subsequently defined the camp genre as we know it. There was no apprehension of meeting a set criteria or doing things the “right” way. I’ve sat through my fair share of bad Ed Wood Knockoffs, which go out of their way to be intentionally, gut wrenchingly awful, but in doing so come off as extremely affected. There’s no spontaneity or freshness too it. Another sad example of something that’s had all value stripped away from itself is trendy blues rock bullshit. So refined, boiled down to the husk, and with large plastic eyes glued to the dead hide they drape around the skeleton. It is a taxidermied culture.

Beat-Man may play off of an already established platform, but he seems to be walking the edges of this respective plateau while both drunk and blind folded. Most of his impressions of Americana rock n roll defy convention and logic, and this is why the Church Of Herpes is a veritable golden vault. There’s a difference between those who understand the music they are trying to produce and those who do not. It’s a matter of throwing theory and formula into a cage with the raw urge to spit something out. While in my own mind Your Favorite Position Is On Your Knees is a painfully logical step (backward) in terms of Beat-Man’s primitivism, I still had a ton of stuff I wanted to ask the guy about the record. I fired off a battery of questions to him late one night after he told me he’d be happy to answer them. It was several months later, on All-Saints day, that I was reminded of the pending interview, and after sending a drunken reminder off to VooDoo Rhythm headquarters, I passed out. When I awoke the next day, it was Halloween, and Beat-Man’s answers were waiting for me.

I’ve heard that you’ve always had an interest in industrial music. Tell us about your ’80s industrial past?
I began as an ’80s child. Mainstream rock or disco was very hip at the time, and we as teenagers were looking for something to shock our parents. We were looking for something that was different, and believe me; at that time it was not that normal to be abnormal. There was no internet or good radio stations around. There was only mainstream shit. So, sooner or later you jump into industrial music, ’cause the parents hated that so much. It’s not music; its noise. It’s disturbing and wrong. That’s what I liked about that kinda music the most… we went to see Test Department, Einsterzende Neubauten, and Laibach, but I loved rock n’ roll, too. Eventually, we went to a Butthole Surfers gig and that was a changing point for me… it was nasty, out of control, totally on dope and just fucked up.

Do industrial music & noise and blood & guts primitive rock n’ roll relate to one another at all in your opinion?
They do if you are open minded and not a fashion nerd. Rock n’ roller or industrial fan, you know you can find in every kind of music style lots of shit. I would say 90% of all bands who say they are rock n’ roll are just fashion nerds and 10% are the real thing. Maybe industrial musicians don’t have the correct clothes on, but in their heart they are rock n’ roll. It’s the same with industrial. There’s so much shit around as well that they think, “yea, make a bit noise”… but it’ s not only that. It’s HATE. Pure HATE and DESTRUCTION, and you have to let it out, and it’s very loud.

What made you want to play rock n roll as opposed to any other sort of music?
It was the chicks. Rock n’ roll chicks are the best …and the power of the music itself. Rock n’ roll is the most direct music in the world. You can reach everybody on this planet with rock n’ roll. We played all over the globe, from South America to Asia Europe to the USA, and all over the same people go nuts for rock n’ roll. It’s not only that it may be hip at the moment. It was the same in the 90’s when this music was dead. Real rock n’ roll or love always wins in the end

How and when did you meet Herpes O’Deluxe?
We are old buddies. The town I’m from is kind of small, and every body knows everybody, so music styles melt with each other very easily. For me, it’s a normal thing, hanging around with cats who are into industrial, or hanging out with a hip hop posse or some singer-song writer who does crap popular music. It’s not such a big deal over here. Mike, the guy on the MS20, is a very old friend of mine. First, he was a performance artist, slaughtering pigs on stage, wearing them or shooting guns over the heads of people or dressing up as Hitler for his exhibitions and leading all costumers into a gas chamber. Anyway, it was really heavy shit, and Bern was totally shocked by him. In 1999, we met each other again. I was spinning Suicide during one of my DJ sets, so he said, “why not make a record together connecting gospel music with industrial?” And we did it! In the beginning, we thought that’s an easy thing to do, but it was not. You have to know that an industrial musician has songs in the head. They build up in between 20 minutes, and my songs are 1:30 at the most (laughs). It was pretty heavy to trim them down to three minutes or so. I remember in the second year, we did a song that was six minutes. They where all so happy! They said, “Yeah, we did a six minutes song!” All I said was, “Yeah! Now we do a three minutes song” (laughs). I think it worked very good. We didn’t wanna be a Suicide rip off. We wanted to do our own thing.

As opposed to The Monsters or Beat-Man proper, what is different about working with Herpes O’Deluxe?
It’s totally, completely different. There’s only thing that’s the same: it’s the beer. We both drink a lot of beer or smoke pot. But writing music (laughs)… I do songs in two minutes, and then at the end, the song is two minutes long. That’s it. With the Herpes, you go into the room, then start to smoke pot and drink, then go to the synthesizers or drum machine and searching for sounds; and after one hour, it is so fucking loud that you cannot hear your words anymore, so you have to scream the shit. You build up a song or better a feeling what you have at the moment and try to stick together as a band. You also must realize that Herpes is a TOTALLY Analog band. They have no comprehension of computers or loop machines. They don’t use stuff like that.

How long did it take you to put this album together? Did it really take five years?!
Yeah, it was five years. It was because of the brain time changing, and we had no proper recording equipment either. The first thing we recorded on was a two-track. Then, an 8-track machine was running most of the time we were rehearsing. We did rehearsal like once a week and recorded it. In the beginning, things were not as good as the later recordings… “Home,” “Seven Days,” and “Blue Suede Shoes” are very early recordings. They are funny I think, but when you listen to “Higher” then you see the step into the total craziness of the two styles of Gospel and Industrial. It’s also one of my favorite songs on the record. It’s so wrong and beautiful at the same time.

Your Favorite Position Is On Your Knees in some ways a lot less primitive. It has a lot of elegant detail. It shattered many of my ideas about what you’re capable of doing. You seem to think it’s funny that many people didn’t understand what you were trying to do though. How does that make you feel? Are you at all disappointed by the reactions?
No, I was expecting this reaction totally, but this record is a part of my life and I’m proud of that… that I also can put out music that people do not like. If I just put out music that everybody liked, how boring would that be? I would be mainstream I think (laughs). But yeah, it’s totally less primitive in the recordings. It’s much more “clean,” if you can use this word, on this record. But for me, it’s the most bluesy record I have ever done. It’s very deep and hits you on the ground. It leaves you behind with a big question mark in your brain. This is one of my records I listen a lot. I have done a lot of records so far but, this one is surely very strange, angry, and desperate the same time.

How did you predict your fans would react to the record, and how did you WANT them to react?
I predicted they’d react just like they did actually. It was perfect. They don’t know what to say. I really hope that they start to think about things, and understand that musicians are human beings, and that they have ups and downs… that they make things you can understand and things you can’t. The same with people in Palestine for example, or Iraq, or the USA. We are all people, but and everybody is 100% different from one another. We here in Europe have a lot of people who are Anti-USA, or I’m sure in the USA are tons of people who are Anti-Islam or whatever. But my message with this record is that you can make lots off different things under the same name. For me, it’s Reverend Beat-Man. This is free creativity, and I’m still the same person even when I do different things. But politicians… do they always have to say the same thing over and over again? How stupid and boring is that?

Are people negative toward Americana culture in Europe? I think of blues as being a very American thing, but I always hear they hate Americans overseas, so I was curious as to if our culture is hated, too..
You can say the same thing about Americans thinking negatively about people in Arab countries. They just don’t know any better. Most Americans seem to think people in Iran are politically extreme and violent. That’s bullshit. I know so many people from Iran. I’m blown away by this country. They are very clever and funny people. But I think it’s different with America and Europe. America is like the big brother. America is all over Europe. Americans own so much stuff over here you would not believe it. So, I think it’s more like the little one has to fight against the big one. Anyway, we all listen to American music, but we also listen to European music or African music. Politically, America has a pretty bad system. This is what I think: it’s very focused on Capitalism and it’s not actually a Democracy. I think Switzerland is the only country in the world that has direct Democracy, which means the people (seven-million) are the President. We have actually seven Presidents in our country with different directions, and they make decisions. But if it’s something very important the folk of Switzerland can decide what happens. For example, one person can say let’s get rid of the army, so he makes a voting and if more than 50% in Switzerland would say yes, we get rid of the army. They will do it. It has nothing to do with money. Everybody can make the decision.

You have said many interesting things here, but I do not think this hatred toward Arabs is as common amongst most average Americans as you might think. Arabs are such a strong part of every community throughout the country. The approval rating for our president is at an all-time low, and of the thousands of people I personally know, not one voted for Bush. I think much of our entertainment right now reflects that. Overall, it’s very Anti-Bush. The reputation of all citizens here suffers at the hands of mass media and politicians which do not reflect the attitudes and opinions of the bulk of our society.
But he got elected again. That proves the system don’t work… that maybe if you have a lot of money you can buy the minds of people or something like that. Maybe people are stupid. I think it’s the same here. People are stupid, too. They just run for a rightwing guy here in Switzerland and Germany, too. Isn’t that totally nuts to do something like that if you have a history like that in Germany? I think there are some very incredible, interesting people, but most are sheep, and they want to be lead. This is what the Bible has shown us for over 2000 years now… “run after someone. Don’t ask, just do what they say.” I think now it’s time to change. We are all part of the world and we all have the right to live in peace with each other, and we are much bigger than the others (industry bosses, politicians, etc…). I think that we have to learn to take care of the world, friendships, and… and… and.. when I’m in America, I’m also not together with the right wing guys. I’m together with people like you. People who are open minded. But that fucking money changes and destroys anybody, I tell you. I had many friends from show business who had no money at all, and now they are major stars with lots of money, and they changed completely. Not everybody, but maybe 90%. It’s so sad. We should find out something completely different. The idea of money is a thing to be changed. An apple against a few bucks or so.

Middle America is doped up from lack of real stimulating culture, and I think those people are probably the ones most responsible for putting Bush back in office. Sadly, our media is just as corrupt as our government. Certainly, there needs to be a change. Also, I think pop music has been an exceptionally important tool in making people dumb. There’s nothing to it… nothing to think about. When you stop thinking, you get stupid, and you become very easily influenced. I have no faith in the public because I see the general public whatsoever. But back to Herpes… what motivated you to affiliate and expose the Beat-Man name and Voodoo Rhythm audiences specifically to something so strange?
It was the blues. I had and still have the blues. I don’t care what people think about me, and if they expect something from me I just don’t care. I wanna do what I wanna do. Nobody can give me borders or tell me what to do… except my girlfriend or parents or my children. But the rest will not. I always had a strange sound from day number one on till today. At the moment I’m working on a new Reverend album and I use Cello and harps. I have slow songs, fast songs. I’m a man. I have love problems, and I have to write songs about it. That’s it.

You mentioned people just don’t “get” the Church of Herpes album. It makes me scared I’m not getting it either, even though I love it. Please, explain what there is to get.
Lots of people are running after a hype. Today it’s rock n’ roll, and when they hear rock n’ roll then they have a box for it, and they have an idea of how big it has to be on each side. And anything outside of those dimensions they have are therefore not rock n’ roll anymore to them, even though it really is. This Church of Herpes record is rock n’ roll, but in a very different way. I think they never will see that. When they all turn thirty, they will turn back to rock n’ roll and Bruce Springsteen or Elton John, and to them that’s great. But this Herpes album will always be underground music. It will always be something to rebel with.

The album also reminds us of a lot of ambient black metal bands. It’s thick and atmospheric. This is a haunted record! What were the conditions of the recording? Where did you record it? And are you influenced by black metal at all? If so, who?
Ambient?! Yeah, I love black metal too. I was a metal head. Venom, Celtic Frost, Master… they are all still in my record collection, but when they start with the vocals… oh, fuck, I hated that shit. We definitely didn’t want to make an ambient album. We are all around 40 years old and we did go through a lot of ups and downs and the result is on the record.
Some of your lyrics could be called sacrilegious perhaps. When you explain how you became Beat-Man, you mention that you rejected Satan. But have you rejected God, too? You scarcely write about Satan it seems. What are the differences between God and Satan and how does either affect your music today? Are you somewhere between the two?
God and Satan is the same person, and I think I’m not the only person who believes in that. We all have Satan and God in us. It’s in our heart. You can decide your self what way you wanna go. A way somebody tells you or your own way. I decided to go my own way with God and Satan in my heart. Sometimes you have to fallow the bad way to get to the good place, but all in one, we are a part of the nature and if you do something naturally it’s always good I think. There’s a Satanic Bible and there’s God’s Bible, and inside each of them there’s only advice on how you can do things. Nobody tells you what to do. You have to do it yourself. You still can decide yourself. Anyway, if you don’t know how to react to Satan, then you can not take the love of God. It’s very important to know who Satan is and it’s very important to know who God is, cause both are a part of you. If you have a problem with that, then you have a problem with yourself.

Your lyrics on the Church of Herpes record seem more emotional, sentimental, and even poetic. You are a very eloquent writer on this record. The words are arranged primitively, but it’s still very smart. You seem a lot less angry here.
You are right. It is a very emotional album, and angry and sad too. The lyrics, they come spontaneously in the recording session. I had a lot of personal problems at the time, and so did the others in the band. While jamming around and using your voice as a second instrument, you just sing whatever you wanna sing and you start to connect things together, and at the end you have a song. Different than other people with anger and hate, I have my music, and blues is made for that. Men are cry babies whether you want to admit that or not. We have always been like that, and with the blues you can let it out the best. There’s so much in this world making me angry… all the bombings, the violence, the child abusing we all see everyday in the news… and I ask you: how can you make a nice record if you have any real feelings? If I see somebody get shot in the head in front of his wife, this makes me angry and sad the same time. Then the next news is cheese from Switzerland and… and… and… It’s just so much information they wanna give us. How can we get over all that? We are not made out of stone. We have a fucking heart, Goddamit!

A lot of the lyrics focus on religion, and women, and it seems both let you down. The general feeling I get is that love and faith both make you suffer. It seems like a woman betrayed you, and god doesn’t care. What inspired this?
You are right with all you said. My answer is yes (laughs).

When I listen to this, I feel like I’m being told a story. It feels like a Beat-Man opera. Is there a story within this record that flows through each song?
Yes, it’s an opera. We were going through all the recorded songs and we saw that something was missing, and we recorded “Faith, Hope and Love” with my girlfriend Hope Urban, who was reading from the Bible on a toilet. At the end, it’s like a gospel horror movie soundtrack. If I would make a movie, I would use this record for that. It’s like a trip through Hell, but with God in the heart, and at the end everything comes together with the song “Higher.”

Explain why you chose to cover Blue Suede Shoes on this album and how it is important to this record? It’s like an assault on rock n’ roll. It’s very deconstructive and insane!
It was the only rock n’ roll song the other guys knew … we just did it for fun on a two-track. It was so different from the others. It totally fits and makes the record more interesting. I play it sometimes in my DJ set and people flip out… try it! They love it! It’s very insane, you are right.

You made mention of two shows you played with Herpes O’Deluxe, and said everyone cleared out of the room. Tell us a little more about what happened at those shows. How did all of you feel about that? And do you intend to play more shows?
No, we split up. But the shows were fantastic. Imagine this music live. It’s just not nice. The only way you can go through it is to hate it, so the people did (laughs). It was fantastic. In the final show, we had a Second World War kinda poster, and a riot already started days before we played from discussions on censorship, and on stage we had a big table with 12 girls half naked and eating chicken and drinking naughty wine. I was the preacher and Jesus and the band was all dressed as the dead. We had a huge cross at the back of the stage, which was very, very bright and the mixer was mixing the show ULTRA LOUD! There where like 800 people, and they all where blown away and didn’t know if they liked it or not. All of them had a big question mark on their foreheads.

REALICIDE: PUNK’S NOT PUNK!

By Kevin Failure

[audio:http://www.youbettershutupandlisten.com/mp3s/realicide_-_cincinnat_ispeedcore_2005.mp3]

Hardcore. The word seems simple enough, but it means different things to different people. For most of us it simply refers to the stripped down, barebones style of punk music that rid itself of rock ‘n roll’s past and blew the minds and speakers of white kids across America during the early 80′s. Many don’t realize the term has been used by people taking a similar approach to hip-hop and electronic musics for what’s approaching twenty years now. Cincinatti’s Robert Inhuman and the Realicide Youth Crew do. I visited Realicide in Cincinatti this past summer at their home: the Sugary Slimepit. It was a small, underground apartment/venue wallpapered with black and white flyers for shows they’d played and promoted. If you saw only the mutating psychedelic designs that were projected live on their ceiling you might mistake the scene for some ghetto house party filled with a bunch of burned out ravers – minds blown on ecstacy. However, the Crucifucks record blaring on the stereo would probably betray that image long enough for you to notice the intense look in the eyes of the inhabitants and remind you that this is no way a blissed out happening.

A friend of Robert’s approached me at one point in the night and asked what my impression of him was. He nodded at my response and said “the guy is like a bullet, he cuts through all the bullshit” referring to his hard gaze and matter of fact manner of communication. Every sentence out of his mouth felt like a statement. All cold facts. No filler.

Realicide, live, felt like a sonic expression of that same stoic brutality. Pummelling gabber kicks at speeds that’d make Discorance Axis jealous. Crushing industrial noise that makes Merzbow sound flat and empty. Throat ripping screams. All punctuated by the odd hardcore punk or hip-hop sample. It all made for a completely overwhelming aural assault. It renewed my faith in alot of things that had been treading on shaky ground for quite a long time.

Contemporary hardcore. How much more to the point can you get?

Tell me a bit about the concept of contemporary hardcore.
Robert:
Contemporary hardcore is just what I’d like to think are the more useful aspects of hardcore culture (and music) executed currently and without dismissing the potential of new technology, definitions, and methods in expressive media. We are currently rehearsing a Black Flag cover with drum/sampling machines and vocal references to grind and noise. Black Flag‘s message is just as timeless as it always has been but to stay relevant language often needs to evolve; same ideas but new media. Also a consistent thread throughout our work is the very blatant pointing-out of parallels between “hardcore” cultures, be it guitar/drums rock bands, gabber producers, harsh noise artists, etc. else.

You guys seem to tour constantly, and release your music either on cassette CDr or for free. What are your feelings on mp3 technology and how do you feel it effects underground music?
Robert:
In many ways mp3 technology is very much underground music at this point and this entails the good, bad, and ugly of course. The CDR and mp3 are cheaper and more omnipresent than any previous DIY medium. Pressing a 7″ seems very expensive in comparison. Duplicating tapes seems infinitely more laborious at times. CDR and mp3 media means more and faster. For a propaganda group this is awesome because the music is simply a vessel for endorsing or protesting something. And for the 14 year old kid who will grow to the 30-something year old adult with very little development of ambition or intent it is unfortunately a huge crutch and means to maintain low standards. I don’t have a lot of money, period. But CDR’s can be merely cents a piece, I know how to scam for free xeroxes, and I know how to screenprint. My publications are humble but not lazy, the media itself is a big part of the message in most cases. Yes, it is very easy to release recordings these days, but DIY methods are still something to take pride in, something that can influence just like lyrics or graphics. And as far as I’m concerned, with a positive intent and hunger for progression, the larger the edition the better. Within reason of course; then again that goes back to the mp3, an infinite edition and the closest stab at immortality a recording has to date.
Mavis: If it weren’t for online file-sharing servers such as Soulseek, I wouldn’t have found out about some of my primary influences in noise, hardcore techno, and other punk-ethic based genres of music. Websites with MP3 uploading capabilities for D.I.Y. artists offer a network to link themselves to the rest of the world. Sounclick, Myspace, PureVolume, and more are free promotion in this digital age where most of the youth audience live on the internet as if it were their actual home. MP3 technology has the ability to expose people to music they would have never given a chance if they had to pay for it. It has the ability to inspire and influence artists to move outside of their comfort zone. Try something new, put it online, promote it, no money lost on putting out a record that maybe nobody will buy ‘cuz it completely sucks. But at least an attempt to progress was made and hopefully the artist tries again and again and again. If an artist is putting out a record, MP3s are a good way to offer samples of new work, past work, and work in progress.

You often sample yourselves in your songs, how important is the philosophy behind your music to the music itself?
Robert:
Ideally philosophy is all that ought matter, but that is pretty stupid when injected into the actual world. The goal is a balance between philosophy and musicality, or I could also say between valuable communication and entertainment. If a project leans too far into conceptual it will inevitably alienate the public, and if it falls into purely the pursuit of fun it will encourage sloth and weak-mindedness. The skill of creating music that provokes and stimulates change in people while remains really fun to listen to is an amazing skill I would like to become much better at. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’d like to end up a master of pop while blowing minds with earth-smashing concepts, but it would be great to learn a balance similar to groups like Crass or Wu Tang. As for sampling ourselves, it is a very necessary tradition in order to remind ourselves we are not exempt from the copyright/originality Armageddon of the twentieth century, no one is. Stealing, in art, is one of the most relevant ways to speak about yourself and your perspective on the world. This is the almighty conclusion of the twentieth century.

You seem to have crafted a very specific aesthetic that draws a lot from underground American hardcore. What is your musical background and what inspired the path you’ve set for yourselves?
Robert:
I have no academic musical background and haven’t really noticed very much natural talent in myself as a musician, but I began experimenting and playing with taperecorders when I was in high school. When I started using my voice on a 4-track I realized I wasn’t really “gifted” as a “singer” or anything, but I knew I wanted to use my voice to tell people about myself and that music is traditionally a reliable sugar-coating to wrap this voice in. My drive and determination to be a vocalist has over the years forced me to make due with what I have, through faith that an emotional intensity can compensate and surpass for a limited physical capacity or lack of formal training. That is again punk ethics; use what you have, don’t be impaired by what you don’t have. Limits demand innovation. Jim Thirlwell’s Foetus albums in the 80′s are one of the best examples of music that inspired my work and direction; one of those guys who is working alone with very limited resources and creates these maniacal beastly layered songs, pouring everything in himself into his creative process. Later, when I was like 20 or 21, I finally found the value and appeal of hardcore, for it’s raw and liberating qualities, not the dogma and insecurity it is commonly associated with. Hardcore is a lot like church, and like any supreme religious doctrine it will be corrupted and misrepresented immediately by humanity. This doesn’t discredit the doctrine, it just reminds me that humanity fails. Anyway, the similarities to religious practices yet with enough malleability and open-endedness for me to work with, that’s why I gravitated towards hardcore. In that sense I guess you could see the Realicide project as a form of cult, and I assure you we are charged with heresy quite often by numerous people active in the hardcore scene, both by punks and ravers.
Mavis: I come from an educated musical background. I played classical trumpet for approximately 9 years, studied music theory, orchestration, and composition for approximately 5 years, and studied jazz bass and performance for a year. However, over the past two years of my life, I have been doing my absolute best to wipe my mind clean of most ofwhat I’ve been taught in those areas. For example, I can no longer read music on paper aside from rythmic patterns which I use when programming drum machines and sequencers. This is completely by choice. The dissection of music through formulas and catagories and rules, “you can’t modulate to this chord without first resolving to this chord through this cadence…” shit like that became less meaningful day by day after I was introduced to noise in late 2003. It became obsolete to me when I started performing noisey sets in late 2004. I am in no way against tonal music, melody, harmony, etc. In fact my current solo work is moving back in that direction after my last year and a half of drum-machine-gun/noise performances. The difference between my tonal music now and my tonal music up until 2004 is today I am no longer burdened with the knowledge that was intended to assist me in my compositions but ended up greatly detracting from their quality. And my non-tonal music is not an oppositional force to my tonal music now that they are created with the same mindset. Before I decided to let music theory go, I would use noisey elements such as mic feedback or banging on a piano to ruin tonal compositions I had written. By the mid-to-end of 2004, I was using those same elements to enhance my tonal compositions.

What role do you believe politics play in music? Is the way you play music and the music that you play as an individual inherently a political statement?
Robert:
Well ok first I will go over and re-check the definition of “politics’ in my dictionary, it says “art and science of government, public life and affairs, activities concerned with seeking power.” I’d be an idiot to say music isn’t political. Everything is; everything we do is an endorsement or protest according to how we want to live or what we think is the right thing. Politics are like air or sound waves; omnipresent although not always acknowledged or don’t always have to be. I breathe air all the time but don’t need to talk about it every waking hour of my day, and to be equally verbal and mundane with political issues can often suck too. There should be a balance (again) of awareness with free fun action. Don’t be swamped and pigeon-holed by subjects you detest; don’t be tricked into becoming what you hate, an alienating and oblivious-to-reality monster like many government officials.

Politics: art and science of government. In this definition I would choose to opt “apolitical,” to drop out because I do not believe in the human capacity to solve the larger problems we so extensively get ourselves into, my humanity is an anti-solution and surrender to an alternative perspective outside my own, although so much easier said than done.

Politics: public life and affairs. Excluding overlap with the first definition, this is really important to me. Why are we supposed to be so afraid of each other? Why am I not supposed to look a stranger in the eye when we pass on the street? Why is the world so neurotically passive-aggressive? I’d like to address these things in bands I’m involved with.

Politics: activities concerned with seeking power. Very very important. To the people who are after power over me and my peers, power over eachother, this music needs to be a total “fuck you.” And to the people scraping to take control of their own lives, to find a foothold and change things to become who they really want to be, we need to push them and lift them up as
much as we can.

In your travels touring the country, have there been certain people or places that you’ve felt inspired by?
Robert: Yes, although I’ve learned not to really envy other cities as much because things don’t vary that much in many ways. Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center in St Louis really revitalized my thirst for community and what a good all ages music venue needs to be. Rat Bastard’s International Noise Conference in Miami FL is really amazing, an annual pilgrimage of like a hundred artists to this festival that is free admission and non-paying, everyone goes just to contribute a short performance and be in the company of a lot of incredible people. Baton Rouge LA where these teenage kids had never seen noise or gabber punk before and they are ditching the screamo and metalcore fads, writing me about new bands they are starting, but a lot of inspiration comes from being in Cincinnati where I’m from, both hosting touring bands and observing the fluxuation of local artists. Brutal Cincinnati Damage fest or the Heinous Rave series comes to mind, in which hundreds of kids have come together for nights of excruciating noise, shrieking, and merciless gabber smackdowns. It is a good feeling to see spontaneous crowd-surfing or event-specific t-shirts at a gabber and noise themed event in Cincinnati OH.

How do you balance the symptoms of survival like work as an obvious example and your path as musicians?
Sometimes I enjoy having a job because it can be downtime during periods where my creative and social life is overwhelming and too hectic. I wrote all my lyrics and designed all flyers and record sleeves while I was a security guard for a while. Other times I’m working when I really don’t want to; I constantly remind myself it is temporary and keep my focus on moving past the period where I have to work the job, dedicating as little mental energy to the job as I am able. This summer I am technically unemployed. It is the first time I have decided to experiment with actively staying away from jobs and focusing on my real work for as long as I can. I am cutting lawns with a friend once in a while for rent money, otherwise I am trying to find distribution for records and books.

How important do you feel passion is in relation to skill or technical ability in creating art?
Robert:
Passion is mandatory, skill is an optional tool. That’s about it, but I can include a segment of this essay I wrote spring 2005 which addresses the mystique of skill: “skills, more often than not, distract and mislead away from any true importance. Skillful art is often done to pass large amounts of time in a feeble life thirsty for glory as a default sense of worth and purpose. Skillful art is a standard and a precedent with an absurd tradition to deceive and fall into vagueness through illusion, fuzzy and faint creating a mystique assumed to be brilliant and superior. Illusionary crafts are preferred largely because they are a set of rules which make it easy to say who is great and who sucks, simply at face value. They distract for such a time that there is none left to look past and evaluate content beyond aesthetic mastery (thanks, college). Art and music that serves to instill a vaporous vibe or atmosphere is usually, in a sense, cowardly and uncertain, implying that the artists rock so hard that they could say something more direct and legible but that would be beneath them; too easy and silly of course. Bullshit; I wonder how many people can look me in the eye and tell me anything at all. I fucking wonder about that. Lives whittled away through a hypothetical worth only; the possibility of message and substance; but you know dawg possibilities can suck it; we’re gonna die and soon, so get to the point.”
Mavis: Even the most talentless, unskilled, ignorant artist will develop all of these things if they are truly passionate and consistantly active in what they are doing. Passion for one’s own art breeds original style, skills, technical abilities over time.

Although your aesthetic is rooted firmly in punk, you incorporate elements from other underground cultures. What other cultures inspire and influence you, and how do you make these influences your own?
Robert:
Basically anything that can be paralleled to punk has an appeal and potentially useful influence to me. Noise should be pretty obvious, the most sensible evolution of punk music, but also grindcore (not metal as far as I’m concerned), gabber and other forms of raw aggressive rave music, and of course hiphop and rap that has firm allegiance to street life or at least real life. These are all genres that encourage inexperienced and unschooled individuals to try their hand at using music as an expressive and truthful medium. Sometimes the influence is presented very directly. For example, I have been using select lyrics by The Screamers and other bands for years now and though they originated as covers or tributes, gradually they become my own through their mutation and adaptation to our progressing style as a band. I splice appropriated lyrics with my own, I change the way the lyrics are accented or repeated. It is very parallel to the sampling process I use when sequencing electronic music. Rave culture is a good example of adapting an entire cultural phenomena to our own way of curating events. We liked the idea of a rave, the music instills such an unstoppable energetic feeling, it can be an extremely inspirational experience. We liked the ideal of an event in which the music is generated by an anonymous individual, like a DJ who is not in the spotlight and the attention of the audience is on itself instead, making the event the actions of everyone present and not one band or person. The pitfalls of rave culture are mostly all too apparent, many are cliche. We are not generally interested in drugs. We aren’t against them, but we don’t really talk about drugs or recommend them generally. So “heinous rave” is not drug-based, it is actually about the music and natural adrenaline. This makes the event even more terrifying to many traditional ravers who insist that it is impossible to tolerate gabber and speedcore without the aid of drugs. It’s hilarious. Then they want to know when the DJs are coming on. There aren’t any and when the “heinous rave” segment of the event is underway (usually after a few bands play and video gear is set up) we often just play our own tracks off a computer by the soundboard. Nobody is looking over at the soundboard, or finding some DJ veteran to hover over and worship for picking out the same mundane joke records they’ve heard time and time again. The kids that come to Heinous Rave are busy dancing, swinging off the ceiling beams, watching video feedback being scrambled, and yelling into microphones set around the room for spontaneous (and shrill) MCing. When they leave they don’t thank Realicide crew for being the sickest DJs that no one can beat, that is just the same as the rockstar shit I thought raving was a refuge from, the kids thank us for arranging the event as a whole, for taking the initiative to get everyone together for a really memorable collaboration. Heinous Rave is a means of reclaiming rave culture, the same way as a band we infiltrate and jostle the punk rock community.