There is a lot of angst and anger to the sound and lyrics of Defeat, why is this?
Gary: I just find the darker side of the human psyche more interesting, and our lyrics have tended come from events and situations that we've been exposed to. As lyrics are primarily Ant's domain, he can probably explain it better than me. Musically speaking minor keys are far more interesting sonically too.
Ant: I get inspired by what is around me and situations I find myself or others in. Happy moments inspire insipid pop tunes that don't inspire me! So I don't write lyrics when I'm happy. And singing happy lyrics on stage, which is what it is all about for me, does not excite me. It's all about getting out the angst!
A little birdy told me something of you guys in the studio at the moment, what plans do you have for the studio? Or is this little birdy a big liar?
Gary: We're working on new material for an EP right now. If more songs come then it could become an album, but it's still early days. The studio computer has a healthy collection of small snippets of chord progressions, which I expect will be tweaked and fettled (ooh, Matron) until we're happy with them. I'm hoping to change up how we do things a little this time round, and actually jamming songs, but we'll see how it pans out.
Ant: Yeah we are at the beginning of the next masterpiece! The last EP set the bar and it's hard or even scary to try to match it. We are both perfectionists and it could take a while. Or we could have a few simple sessions and some great tracks may come out.
The music industry is a harsh place at this moment, what have your experiences been so far within this cruel game?
Gary: We got the best start we could have when out of nowhere we signed with Static Distortion back in 2012. Without that we wouldn't be where we are now. Through SDR we have made contact with so many fantastic people and we've managed to establish ourselves – people are beginning to find out who we are. At the moment we're unsigned and to be brutally honest it's something that pisses me off immensely. My strengths (I hope) are playing keyboards and writing music - I'm absolutely crap at promotion. Plenty of my peers tell me to stop being a dick about it and that being on a label isn't important. In terms of getting product released digitally, etc. that's true, but to be taken seriously by some you have to be signed. At least that's my perception. That said, I have no bloody clue how to approach labels. My attempts so far (basically going to labels and saying “we're awesome, sign us”) have failed. I guess we were spoiled by having SDR approach us.
Ant: Our little corner of the music scene that we chose to be part of a long time ago is unfortunately one of the hardest to be in. You can put out the greatest set of tracks the genre has ever heard, but as Gary says, without being signed or having great promotion and gigging twice a month you have no chance. And this genre does like to troll itself instead of pulling together and getting itself heard. How hypocritical is it that all the greatest Hollywood blockbusters use industrial music as it's soundtrack but no one wants to buy those artists' music!
What has been the biggest strain on your music and how does family life effect your music and vice versa?
Gary: For me, the biggest strain is getting out to shows to get to know people. For me, my family life and my day job are such that getting out and about is very difficult for me. Playing live is something I enjoy doing immensely, but because we can't get out and about to “network” - I fucking hate that term – we don't get offered that many shows. Local venues have no idea how to promote our genre of music, and when we do local gigs we're playing to empty rooms, which is massively demoralising.
Ant: Our genre is not a mainstream one. So relevant gigs are hard to come by and usually involve travel. Which is difficult with Gary having a family. Writing and producing I feel very lucky to have Gary's skills. Promotional is so hard. Facebook helped us when starting up again a few years back but social media is so large now that we are all a tiny drop in a large ocean.
Your last EP You Know What You Are was an industrial masterpiece to say the least, how did the general press react to it overall? Are there any reviews that make you smile and if so what quotes in particular raise that smile?
Gary: Very kind of you to say so. I think in terms of reviews, my favourite quotes come from the Wicked Spins Radio review - “give it some fucking pasty, lads” being a particular favourite. The general reaction was overwhelmingly positive from those that actually bothered to review the EP – I have nothing but respect for those fine folks (you know who you are!). In other quarters the release was effectively ignored, I can only assume it was because we're unsigned. When that happens, you can't help but doubt what you're putting out is any good.
Ant: I remain positive about our releases. YKWYA to me was the culmination of 25 years of our personal and musical development. And it’s going to be hard to beat. But I have a more pragmatic view than Gary. All the reviews we had were amazing. But those reviews were seen by a small amount of people in a small genre. Maybe Gary is right and being signed may open more doors but I know we are one of the best out there. And in the future our releases will be forever out there digitally and may get the recognition they deserve sometime.
You are a close duo, but being in each other’s shoes can sometimes be annoying. So what do you love and hate about each other? And don’t worry I won’t let either of you know what each other said, no honestly I won’t :P
Gary: The only thing I “hate” about my partner in crime is his timekeeping. I'm quite OCD in my timekeeping, and I'm sure he'll tell you I get far too uptight and take things far too personally, but I won't put words in his mouth.
Ant: I only get frustrated with Gary when he openly lashes out when he is annoyed about a lack of recognition or sales. He needs to remember how good he is at what he does and learn to self-promote better! This so-called genre eats itself enough without us getting angry at our public!
When we are kids we all dream of being famous in a band, singing into brushes in the mirror or playing air guitar to Guns & Roses or Metallica. So what air instrument did you play as a kid and have your air instrument skills improved as you have grown older?
Gary: I never did the air guitar thing, as I only got into music when I discovered keyboards. I played air keyboards on the dining room table and still do it today. I'll be listening to something on my headphones at work and be “playing” the desk. I don't bloody care though – if I “feel” the music as I listen it's like an involuntary reflex.
Ant: I am often singing in the car in front of 70,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena! But for me it’s all about the rhythm. I have been known to bash a beat on the table for Gary when I have a rhythm in my head. Several of our tracks started that way! Gary's job is to extract the song from me head and he does it well!
We have lost some of the great music venues recently, which loss has hurt you most and what are your memories of the place?
Gary: For me, it has to be our most local venue, The Square in Harlow. It closed at the end of 2015. We've played there quite a few times over the years, and it's definitely going to be missed, although should it return in some form, I hope they have a better strategy with promoting bands that deviate from bass/guitar/drums. My best memory of the place is my most recent – playing our “comeback” show in August 2012.
Ant: The Square in Harlow is not completely dead yet. Hopefully it will return. But there is no industrial scene there. And I hope that Slimelight remains where it is. There is a special atmosphere there that must continue and we have had our best moments on stage there.
You have been and are a part of the Beat Cancer compilation and events, what does being a part of it mean to you as a band and have either of you been effected by cancer in any way?
Gary: I've probably bored everyone shitless with my reasons for being behind Beat:Cancer, and those that know me know my reasons. But for those that don't, basically I lost my mother to cancer a year before we released our first EP. Her death was the catalyst for me to start doing music properly. When Mark Haigh first put the idea of Beat:Cancer out in the open, I'd not actually met him but did harangue him in to letting us be part of it. He graciously allowed us to contribute and we've been involved ever since and will be as long as he wants us. Mark is a legend as far as I'm concerned.
Ant: I have had a few personal connections to cancer. For me it is the only cause I get behind because it is in all of us waiting to strike. I just hope the triggers are stopped soon.
You published your technical rider for gigs, but what about your backstage rider? What do you want in your dressing room?
Gary: I couldn't give a flying fuck about backstage riders – I don't want white sofas, rose petals or any of that shit to be honest. Frankly, I'm so pleased to just be part of the gig in the first place. For me it's the crowd in front of the stage that matters. If I could have anything on our rider, it would be the crowd at Beat:Cancer live in 2014 at every show. That show was like one huge massive party.
Ant: 10 sexy ladies pampering to my every need. Hopefully I'd still have some energy left to get on stage! And then to after party!!
OK so Family Fortunes style question, name 5 perverse things you can with candy floss/cotton candy?
Gary: Five? OK, here goes: Pink pubic hair wig. Cock insulation/lagging. Formed into a doughnut shape would make a good cushion if you have piles. Can be fashioned into a very fetching pair of underpants. Bra padding.
Ant: A rather sticky 70s style Vagina. Something tasty to create that 70s public area and eat off your lady. Edible underwear. A cushion to sit on on these naked lazy days. A scouse wig.
In a lot of your promotional shots you are both wearing suits, what sort of image are you trying to portray by this?
Gary: Those photos are from the one and only photo-shoot we did in 2012. We were going for the “insurance salesmen of industrial” vibe I think. I think it's high time we got some new pictures done, as we've become the masters of recycling the same limited set of images. We don't think about image as much as we should. Generally it's the standard uniform of black t-shirt, black jeans and black boots. I do really like some of the cyberpunk clothes (sleeveless shirts with chains, etc.), but with me being a fat bastard getting those kind of clothes is almost impossible, and I suspect they wouldn’t really suit me anyway.
Ant: Yeah it was a great photoshoot but we need something new. We are not naturally Cyber clothing type people. So why pretend!
Technology has brought about a lot of things including the way make music, what do you like and hate about technology?
Gary: I adore technology, even with its foibles. To put it simply, our music wouldn't exist without it. In fact it's the advent of recording software that's meant we can make music. We did record using tape back in the day, but it was so limiting only having 4 or 8 tracks to work with. Also, samplers ran from floppy disks and were dead slow to use. I think we're now blessed with an abundance of riches.
Ant: I haven't properly dabbled yet but technology means that the untalented like me can get involved in the writing process! Oh sorry I meant most of the current chart scene! No – seriously, we would not have released anything ever without the advances in technology.
Did you ever have a Soda Stream as a kid and if you did then what was the greatest combination of flavours that you created tasted the best?
Gary: Never had one as a kid, but I have one now, although I've never tried mixing concentrate flavours, but I may well do in future.
Ant: Yes I did and made some serious mess and noise with it when I was younger. Don't remember flavours though. Must ask Gary to use his again!
Thank you so much for giving Vampire Freaks this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Gary: Only one thing to add. Check us out. Like us on Facebook. Buy our music. You know, the usual bollocks.
Ant: Fuck the likes on Fuckbook - go buy our stuff at our bandcamp page.
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