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Voight-Kampff interview with Joe Sulier and Colin Swanson-White

© Ben Smith

While most definitely having come from a background in hardcore Voight-Kampff are anything but what you would expect.  Bubbling melodies and rhythms surge up from the underbelly of the beast and not only intrigue but seem to hypnotize and entrance you from the get go.  Off the wall guitar blaring with gnarled distortion, screaming in the synthy concoction of chaos and control.  Voight-Kampff don’t just walk a tight rope straddling styles, they seem to be at home sleeping on the razor’s edge; easily dodging labels and classification while at the same time winning over listeners worldwide.  Sometimes when you hear a band you can just tell they’re onto something, that they have something going on that no one does, something that makes them special and sets them apart.  Voight-Kampff is one of those bands.  It’s been years since I’ve heard an album with such a biting hardcore edge to it, contain such catchy and well written music.  Reverb and distortion dripping like sweat from a battered drum set and mauled guitar, Voight-Kampff are one of those rare talented bands that are actually fun to listen to.  The album doesn’t feel like a chore, there’s no urge to skip tracks or jump ahead.  Simply to take in what the band has to offer and let the music, like life, flow like fire through your veins.  With the recent rerelease of their debut cassette tape on vinyl I had to know if there was any new material coming up, what the tour schedule was like and, and well if you know me, I needed to know everything else under the sun as well.  Both founding members of Voight-Kampff, Joe Sulier and Colin Swanson-White, managed to make enough time to answer my myriad of questions and fill you lucky people in on just what they’ve got cooking for the future as well as just about anything else you’d ever want to know about Voight-Kampff!  Question is; can you dig it?
Listen while you read: http://derangedrecords.bandcamp.com

What’s the band’s lineup?  Is this your original lineup or have there been some minor changes over time?

Joe:  The line-up has really only ever been myself and Colin.  We have different people participate for live purposes, but as far as songwriting is concerned, it’s just the two of us.
Colin:  It’s always been me on guitar and Joey on vocals.  Besides Joe and I, Ashley Hohman also of Doom Town, has had the longest consistent involvement.

Where are you originally from?

Joe:  I'm originally from, and still live in, St. Louis.  The two of us lived together briefly in Minneapolis and I've lived all over the country at various times.
Colin:  Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Was your household musical growing up?  Were either of your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved with music?

Joe:  My father has been a bassist my entire life.  As a child he played in blues bands primarily so I grew up with a lot of really good blues music, classic rock and good 60's and 70's rock‘n’roll mostly.  I got to grow up seeing him play in really shitty smoky blues dives from a very young age and playing in bands is what ultimately brought him to live in St. Louis and meet my mother.  He did a brief stint in the army in the sweet spot between the Korean and Vietnam wars so he luckily never saw any action.  His only stories from that time involve smoking weed in tanks in Germany and touring Europe as a bassist with a soul group.

Colin:  My father really encouraged my sister and me to learn how to play something as early as possible.  He’s a flautist so that's how my sister and I began.  He plays Irish folk with a bunch of his friends every Wednesday and often times our house would host the session.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Joe:  Like I said, my father has been a musician my entire life so I grew up listening to his records and music.  The Beatles have been a staple throughout my entire life and are the only band I can honestly say I've probably listened to since the womb.  They've continued to have a large impact on my musical life.  My first album that I bought myself was a cassette, Faith No More's We Care a Lot when I was like seven or eight, that’s also when I got my first skateboard.

Colin:  Depends on what you mean by exposure.  Besides the above, growing up I also had a lot of 90’s R&B cassettes, as well as some Soul Asylum.  Also, when I was maybe like ten, my sister got stood-up by her friend when they were trying to see an Amy Grant concert.  She screamed and cried begging me to go until my mom guilt-tripped me into going by saying, “it would really mean a lot to her.”  I think we’re all pretty embarrassed about it.  Around the same time I used my own free will to buy a Nirvana Nevermind cassette for eight-dollars at Target, heard the Misfits and then got interested in punk around twelve and went to a silly show at 1st Ave in Minneapolis, Stray Bullets, Cadillac Blindside, Animal Chin and Link 80.  No cool intros here.  My mom was a big Everly Brothers fan and my dad and I would do the PeeWee Herman dance to The Ventures’ “Tequilla” in our unfinished basement where the only record player was, so I guess I became a fan of that stuff too.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and why was that?

Joe:  I wanted to be a frontman from a very young age.  I always had a lot of anger and aggression and I always wrote a lot, so that was the only viable option for me to say what I wanted to say before I really got heavily into poetry and literature.

Colin:  Well, I got a guitar when I was twelve and sucked so badly my friends wouldn't let me play with them, so I pretty much was like ‘I’ll show you fuckers!’  I alienated myself from everyone and failed eighth-grade practicing from the moment I got home ‘til I fell asleep.  It wasn’t much of a victory but the drive that came from that separation.  I thought records and guitars made better friends.

When and how did you all meet?

Joe:  I was singing in a hardcore band called The Breaks and Colin was playing guitar in Damage Deposit whom we ended up playing a couple shows and doing a short tour with.  Eventually he started drumming for Formaldehyde Junkies whom we also played a bunch of shows with, we just hit it off from the start.

Colin:  Joe and I had been to/played shows together a few times, but we actually hung out in Chicago one night after a show.  Can’t remember who we saw but I remember thinking that he was hilariously insane.  We drank a bunch of beer he stole from these Christian jock type dudes who I guess were friends with our Chicago friends’ estranged roommate.  They were way bigger than us and tried to intimidate Joe while he was just talking shit and dispersing the beers for us to drink right in front of them.  So after they left, having done nothing, we continued to drink their beer and destroy a bunch of really expensive shit that wasn’t ours.  Let us come stay with you ha-ha-ha!!!

What led to the formation of Voight-Kampff and when exactly was that?  Can you talk a little bit about the original version of the band Run Down?  What exactly changed between Run Down and Voight-Kampff?

Joe:  I think we both sort of discovered that we had this shared love of gothy, post-punk stuff and just started talking about how cool it would be to have a band like that.  It didn't seem realistic since we both lived in different states, but thanks to the internet we figured out we could just send songs and ideas back and forth, which led to the first batch of songs that we recorded under the name Run Down.  A few shows followed in both Minneapolis and St. Louis and we recorded a two song 7“ for Firestarter Records, which didn't end up getting released until like six years later.  Eventually we decided it would be easier to keep the band just the two of us.  I was always kinda adverse to the name Run Down anyways and we came to a point where we didn't identify with, or really like those songs anymore.  Colin suggested the name Voight-Kampff during one of my Minneapolis visits so we decided to just start fresh with a new name and new songs.

Colin:  So, I’d just been getting into some synthy stuff as well as peace-punk and we were listening to records at my house and shooting the breeze in between Midwest Hardcore Fest stuff, and it came up that we both wanted to do a punk band like that.  When Joey got back to St. Louis he wouldn’t stop pestering me about it, so I tried writing a song like that and sent it to him so he’d shut up but it just snowballed from there.  I got some TC people on board and wrote some more ‘til we had a set.  Phil was playing bass by this point and played some of it for Ryan Young, from Off With Their Heads, and the two of them got us a show opening for Off With Their Heads at Triple Rock in Minneapolis.  Matt Castore recorded us at the Alamo, where Phil and Ryan were living while Joe was in town for the show, and that became the Run Down 7”.  As we tried to do more the Minneapolis dudes became less and less involved and we eventually got St. Louis people to play the shows.  This pretty much left just Joe and I doing the songwriting so we decided to change the name ‘cause it had just turned into something totally different.  We didn’t feel the majority of those songs had aged well or aged with us and we had only came up with it for friends to play on their radio shows and for the Firestarter 7”, which we thought was never going to happen.

Is your name a reference to the Voight-Kampff test from Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Sleep of Electric Sleep or the film adaptation Blade Runner?  Either way can you talk a little about the meaning behind the name?  How did you go about choosing it?

Joe:  It is.  The Voight Kampff test was administered to test subjects’ capacity for empathy in order to figure out whether they were humans or replicants.  We both love both the movie as well as the book and the idea behind the test went along well with our sentiments towards the band I think.

Colin:  Yeah, love the movie and book.  I’m fascinated by Phillip K. Dick and his ideas as well as by sci-fi in general.

Where’s the band currently located?

Joe:  I currently live in St. Louis and Colin just moved to Raleigh, North Carolina.  So we exist somewhere between there.

Colin:  Wherever, whenever we can get together.

How would you describe the local music scene where you are at now?

Joe:  St. Louis has gotten pretty rad as of late, a lot more women at shows, a lot more bands forming and playing out.  There are definitely a decent amount of idiots who still come around, but most people see through their bullshit.  It's always been really diverse as far as musical genres and intermixing between genres, everyone from every scene is into each other’s bands and goes to each other’s shows.  It’s so small here that there's not really any room for being cliquey or elitist.

Colin:  I’m a newcomer to Raleigh and its surroundings and I work, a lot.  So it’s hard for me to say ‘cause I miss out on a lot, I don’t want to do it an injustice…

Are you very involved in the local scene?

Joe:  I also sing in a hardcore band here called Life Like who play fairly often.  I go to shows quite frequently and on rare occasions I book them.

Colin:  Not really.  Like I said before, my hands are kinda tied.  I’ve tried to do some artwork and play some music, but not too much avail.  I may start something with some of the Double Negative dudes here in the coming days though.

Has it played a large role in the sound, history or evolution of Voight-Kampff?

Joe:  Maybe lyrically the regions have had a bit of an impact, but as far as the sound is concerned I wouldn't say so.

Colin:  I try to ignore a lot of what’s going on around me when I’m writing and just make the songs I want to hear and will want to hear later on.  Different times and regions influence me more than my own time and place I think.  However in Minneapolis I do think there was a certain amount of my friends and I trying to out-do ourselves project to project.

I’m not great at labeling or describing things and I’m just not convinced that music fits into all the predefined boxes that people try to put it in.  How would you describe Voight-Kampff’s sound to our readers to who haven’t heard you yet?

Joe:  I'm not really into labels, I'd much rather leave it up to whoever's listening to try and pigeonhole us or define our sound, doesn't concern me much.

Colin:  Labels are fine with me but I never know how to describe it.  I think it’s also going to change a bit given what we’ve been coming up with as of late.

You have an extremely interesting sound, sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that you are a two-piece when I’m listening to you.  Why a duo as opposed to a traditional three-piece or something?

Joe:  The two-piece set up is just way easier since we live in different cities.  We only have each other's opinions to be concerned with which definitely makes being in the studio way easier.

Colin:  I always think the more people you have involved the better the outcome, but being so far apart and having everyone involved grinds the process to an unworkably slow pace.


© Ben Smith

Can you tell us a little bit about the major pros and cons of being a two-piece band?

Joe:  The only thing that really sucks about it is having to recruit our friends, who are almost always in at least one other band, to flesh out the live shows, which is why we rarely play live.  Otherwise it’s a very ideal stress free situation.

Colin:  Joey and I see eye to eye on a lot of things and that's rare.  It sucks wanting to do more and being so constrained though.

Did you draw any inspiration from any particular bands when it came to recording as a two-piece?  You have an immensely densely consuming and interesting sound, can you tell us about your major musical influences?  What about the band as a whole rather than individually?

Joe:  I think maybe in the beginning you could say we took some cues from bands like The Wipers but now I think we've come into our own and are really only concerned with making music that sounds good to us.  Colin can probably answer this with a little more detail since he's the primary songwriter.
Colin:  Well, minor, dark, gloomy, atmospheric, whatever you wanna call it, it’s catchy.  Everyone probably likes to go for that, and surfy.  Those are all agreeable reference points as a band I think.  I’m never concerned too much with complexity or originality, but it began with me loving all these songs that in some way or another lacked a certain amount of all the raw tones that I love and was so used to.  I wanted to translate that and make it more accessible to an ear that would otherwise refuse to hear it.  Now I don’t care so much and I just want to make things the way I like them, regardless of whether or not it’s a faux pas within the circles we’re used to running in, and I think Joe would agree with me on that point.  Sure The Wipers and many other bands like The Jam or even The Kinks definitely influenced my guitar style heavily, but songwriting I can’t really say, Kraftwerk?  I don’t know.  There’s more than one way to write a good song.

Can you tell us a little bit about Voight-Kampff’s songwriting process?  Does one of you approach the other with a riff or somewhat finished product to work on with the other or is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas in the practice space?

Joe:  There is virtually no jamming, save for this last time Colin came to town and we actually started writing our first song together.  Mostly it involves Colin recording riffs over drum-machine tracks and sending them through the internet to me, and then me trying to write lyrics to them and occasionally providing a little bit of musical input.

Colin:  It’s pretty much like Joe said, no jamming.  However lately, instead of having all the parts worked out in my head, I’ll lay down a click track to record a root note bass chord progression over, see what I can mess around with on guitar when it’s playing back and then write some sort of crude sketch of a drum beat over that to be translated later on.  That way I tend to think of things I otherwise wouldn't have.  It’s sadly as close to a “jam session” as we can come.  I could probably get together with people to work out these ideas but it’s also probably a bad idea, not only because of scheduling, but because of playing styles and lineups, etcetera.

I’m a musician myself and I think that we all enjoy the end result of getting into the studio and recording.  There’s not a lot out there that beats holding an album in your hands knowing that it’s your[s] and you made it.  Getting into the studio though, it can be a little bit overwhelming to say the least.  Do you all enjoy getting into the studio and recording?  Is it very stressful for you in the studio?

Joe:  This is the only band I've ever been in with which I love being in the studio, it had a major impact on how the record ended up sounding and being shaped.  It’s very low stress since we only have to deal with each other and whoever happens to be recording us.

Colin:  Agreed.  This is the only band I’ve been in where I actually like being in the studio.  Matt Castore is recording us and he knows how my brain works since we’ve known each other for years, been in a band and lived together.  Also since Voight-Kampff isn’t really a live band, due to distance, we can focus on production and creating a listening experience for the record buyer.  It’s a different ball game with different constraints and different freedoms.

Do you do a lot of preparatory work before you go into the studio or do you kind of let things evolve and change as they go when recording?

Joe:  Most of the songs on the LP had been written a couple years prior to actually going into the studio and recording them so we had a lot of time to sit with them and tweak them.  Some of the stuff on the record just happened last minute as a result of being in the studio.

Colin:  I used to be really anal about the songs since I was used to chaotic hardcore and this is controlled melody, but now I try to keep the song’s core elements there while leaving room for derivation to be a whimsical part of the recordings and live shows.  Some of the last minute stuff, not having heard the tracks for a while and not caring so much, is what really “made” the final cut.

Let’s take a little bit of time to talk about your back catalog a little bit.  You released the American Despair b/w Coming single from Firestarter Records under the Run Down name but I understand you two aren’t all that into the record that much anymore.  Can you tell us about the long-distance recording of that album?  How did you go about recording and exchanging recordings?

Joe:  That record was the result of a few years of sending song ideas back and forth over the internet.  We just don't really identify with the sound of those songs much anymore.  We were just starting out and trying to figure out what we wanted to do.  The recording involved a full band which featured our friends Ted Howard of Viral Mutation and the 86'ed, Phil Schwarz of Getting Even and Rock Bottom Records and Brad Stiffler of Condominium.  We recorded it all in Minneapolis with Matt Castore, also of Condominium, and it was one of his first attempts at recording a record himself.

Colin:  I think I touched on this a bit earlier.  We recorded it when Joey was in town for us to play our first show, and Matt Castore just wanted the practice.  “American Despair” was the first song I think I ever wrote and sent to Joey.  So I think we’ve gotten better at writing songs since then and also “The Coming” was, for me, two riffs that I had that were at different tempos that Joey insisted could go together.  They can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it's the best choice.  Also, I just have to say that Ryan Trudeau’s artwork is absolutely phenomenal and my layout, graphic design skills and resources have improved since then and maybe did him a disservice at that point in time; it just doesn’t do anyone justice at this point.  Mike also changed the back-fold from what I sent him.  The front cover is the bang for your buck there; Trudeau really out-did himself and all of us I think.

You released your debut self-titled album as Voight-Kampff on your own back in 2012 on cassette tape.  How was that album originally distributed?  How many copies was that limited to?

Joe:  The cassette was primarily distributed by the internet, myself and just word of mouth.  I think we made 300 of them?  And they're finally almost sold out.

Colin:  Joe handled that as I was too busy with school, so I can’t tell you anything except that I have a few inserts lying around the house with no tapes to keep them company.

The cassette has recently been pressed on vinyl by Deranged Records in conjunction with Rock Bottom Records.  How did the reissue come about?  Is the vinyl going to be limited?

Joe:  Our good friend Phil, who played bass on the Run Down 7”, approached us about re-releasing it on vinyl because he thought it was too good to not have a legitimate release.  It just so happened that Gord from Deranged had gotten a hold of the tape around the same time and approached us about releasing it on vinyl shortly after Phil did.  We told him Phil had first dibs since he asked first and he proposed just doing a split between the two labels.  As far as I know the vinyl isn’t limited.


Colin:  No limited vinyl as far as I know.  It was just mutually beneficial for all parties involved.


Can you tell us about the recording of the material for the self-titled album?  When was that material recorded?  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment did you use?

Joe:  The record was recorded in 2011 in Minneapolis with Matt Castore at A Harder Commune Studios.  As far as the gear is concerned I'll let Colin handle that since he played all the instruments.

Colin:  Gear is kinda confusing.  We used what we had and I can’t remember specifically, but it was definitely a more recent 90’s or early 2000’s Gibson SG on “The Lafayettes”, same one Matt’s always had, run through a clean old Fender Champ distorted from blowing out a 4-track cassette tape, not the amp, and matching it up later.  I can’t remember if it was an old Fender P-bass on loan, some weird Teisco factory bass or Matt’s trusty Fender jazz bass run through whatever that dude’s got; some combo thereof.  My guitar was definitely a semi-hollow body Schecter Corsair.  Honestly, I have no idea what the hell we ran it through, a Music Man, an Ampeg head that Brad from Condo’s got, a Twin-Verb?  I think it was my Music Man RD65.

Does Voight-Kampff have any music that we haven’t talked about?

Joe:  There are just some new demos for the next record that we've been working on and some older Run Down songs which were never released and probably never will be.

Colin:  Yeah those older Run Down songs will never be released and “new demos” is putting it politely.  It’s just stuff for Joe to write lyrics to, or for others to come up with their own parts, add parts on top of what’s there, etcetera.

Are there any releases on the horizon or in the works for hungry fans at this point?
Joe:  Currently at work demoing a handful of song ideas for the next LP.  We're planning on releasing a two-song single before that with an A-side from the next LP and an exclusive B-Side.  Both releases should be on Deranged again.

Colin:  Well, we haven’t talked to Gord in an official capacity about specifics, but yeah.  We were originally thinking of doing a LP but it makes more sense to do a single first, certain songs are coming together faster than others.  If there were fans whatsoever, that would be mind-blowing, but hungry fans?  I don’t even know.

Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to get copies of your music at?

Joe:  Deranged has amazing distribution so they should be available at any decent record store or distributor around the country.  Otherwise a few tapes are still available, as well as some copies of the LP and a handful of shirts, through my Big Cartel store www.josephsulier.bigcartel.com or from Rock Bottom https://myspace.com/rockbottomwrex.

Colin:  Joe and Gord handle that.  I am an imbecile.
  
With the insane international postage hikes what about our international and overseas readers?

Joe:  A German label called Cut The Cord That…Records just re-released the cassette version over there and can be found at www.ctct-records.tumblr.com.  We've been approached by at least one other European label who was interested in re-releases and European releases of the next record so we'll see.

Colin:  Ugh, you’re telling me…  European suckaz go to Cut The Cord That…Records.  Like Joe said we’ve been approached by others but haven’t gotten anything locked down yet.

Where’s the best place for fans to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases as from?

Joe:  We have a Tumblr which can be found at www.voight-kampff-band.tumblr.com and a Soundcloud www.soundcloud.com/voight-kampff-band.

Are there any goals that you are looking to accomplish in 2013?

Joe:  Recording and releasing a two-song single and a LP.  There has also been some talk about doing a European tour late next year with maybe some East Coast U.S. dates leading up to it.

Colin:  A record/tour in any capacity would be amazing.

How do you handle playing live?  I know the two of you handle the recording aspect of Voight-Kammpff but how does playing live work?  I know you’re joined by a rotating cast of other notable musicians, can you tell us who those other musicians are and what their relationship with the band is exactly?  Do they just play live or do you all get together and work out live arrangements to songs and everyone puts their own spin on the parts?

Joe:  Thus far our live line-ups haven't had any input as far as songwriting is concerned.  We've had quite a rotating cast of live line-ups which have included Ted Howard of Viral Mutation and The 86'ed, Brad Stiffler of Condominium, Phil Schwarz of Getting Even and Rock Bottom Records, Ashley Hohman of Doom Town, Tom Valli of Shaved Women and Maximum Effort, Matty Coonfield of Tone Rodent and Bug Chaser, Bryan Clarkson of The Humanoids, Shaun Morrissey of Doom Town and The Humanoids…  I think that's it.  Playing live is the only stressful part because we usually have to pull people together here in St. Louis to practice and prepare all of the songs without Colin.  We tend to only get two or three practices in before shows, usually only like one with Colin, so it’s all pretty last minute and we’re just flying by the seat of our pants.  Luckily we've had a knack for recruiting really talented people so there's never really a problem.  They're all folks that we've both been friends with in some capacity for many years and people we greatly admire as musicians.

Colin:  We always talk about all these ideas and covers before we get together but once we actually do there’s never any time for anything besides the established Voight-Kampff set, which is just the way it goes I guess.  It’s been all the St. Louis people that Joe’s already talked about for quite some time.  Minneapolis people were more the Run Down days.  We just get people we’re friends with and admire who also like what we’re doing to play with us when a show comes up.

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?

Joe:  We have one show left for the year which is a big post-punk/industrial kinda fest in Minneapolis called Terma Fest.  Other than that we did a record release show here in St. Louis and one in Chicago, both of which were with our friends No Problem from Canada.

Colin:  Yeah, when Deranged offered to do a Voight-Kampff LP Joey played Gord my other Minneapolis band Safewords and Gord ended up wanting to do an LP for us as well.  Jed from Safewords plays in Claps whose singer Pat was setting up Terma Fest and he asked me if both bands would want to play the fest as our LP release shows.  Other than that, the future is unwritten.

You have played with some seriously amazing bands!  Who are your some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

Joe:  Playing with Masshysteri back when we were Run Down was pretty rad.  Our cassette release show in St. Louis with Nu Sensae, Psychic Blood, The Funs and Shaved Women was a pretty sick bill to play.

Colin:  We’ve played so few shows and been able to play with killer bands every time, so we’re lucky.  Picking a favorite would be ridiculous.  Having a chance to play at all is amazing.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows that you’d like to share with our readers?

Joe:  Well, the absolute worst show we ever played was at the Hexagon in Minneapolis with The 86'ed and The Humanoids.  It was my last night in town before moving to Philadelphia and Colin and I had started drinking around 4:30 in the afternoon when the show didn't start until like 9 that night.  In the meantime before the show I had ingested a plethora of different drugs including vicodin, weed, coke, whiskey, beer and I think something else which I can't remember.  Colin had a broken hand at the time which was his fret hand I believe, so he was having a hell of a time just trying to hack it.  Our bassist was unplugged for most of the set and our drummer just stopped playing during a couple songs.  Ted, the second guitarist, was the only one who came through with flying colors.  I threw the mic stand into the crowd at two different points throughout the set and ended up hitting the exact same girl in the head both times.  She also happened to be taking pictures of us with a really nice camera and approached me after the set to tell me she thought it was an awesome set, to which I replied, mind you under the heavy influence of many drugs, "Are you fucking retarded?”  Needless to say she walked away pretty bummed and I offer my endless apologies to her wherever she may be.

 © Adam Degross
 © Ben Smith
© Matty Coonfield

Colin:  At that Hexagon Bar show it was my strumming hand that was broken and in a cast with two metal pins sticking out of it.  It was because Joey and I had gotten into a fight on election night, another time when we were living together and drinking way too much, way too soon and I got home and punched the first wall I saw, which was not dry wall.  More like solid oak.  Joe also broke my nose.  Ted killed it so hard it wasn’t even funny though.  The rest of us were pathetic.  Not to mention, it was one of three or four sets Ted had to play that night!?!  What a shit show.  I had MRSA on my fucking taint at the Masshysteri show in St. Louis.  Sorry, I know that's so disgusting and personal but it needs to be said ‘cause it’s really funny now.  I ended up being totally fine but I was drinking and taking pain pills all night after the show to cope with the MRSA and puked all over Shaun Morrissey’s van on the way to the sixteen-hour MegaBus ride, which I had almost puked on when I was well-slept and totally sober without MRSA on the way down to St. Louis in the first place.  Try sixteen-hours where the most painful thing you’ve ever experience in your life is the thing you have to sit on.  I can’t sleep in transit either, too neurotic.  Ha?

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Joe:  Active bands I'd say like Depeche Mode.  I dunno, I'm terrible at this sort of thing.  Inactive bands, I'd say like Cocteau Twins or something.

Colin:  Yeah, active I’m surprised Joe didn’t say Morrisse, ‘cause I know he wants that shit, me too; Adam Ant maybe?

There’s something absolutely entrancing, enthralling and engaging about physically released music.  Having something to hold in my hands, artwork to look at, liner notes to read, it offers a brief and rare glimpse into the mind of the artists that made it and make for a more complete listening experience; at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?
Joe:  Totally, the entire package is very important to me, lyrics especially.  It should create an aesthetic that reflects the band itself.

Colin:  Absolutely.  Packaging is just as important to me.  Holding a record in my hands, feeling and smelling the materials used, what information was included or omitted, how well the packaging does or doesn't allow for being integrated into one’s personal archives, art versus design.  All of this stuff is part of communicating with the audience member, and for me the packaging is part of enveloping them in an experience.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us about it?

Joe:  I sold my entire record collection a few years back because I was just sick of having all these things and possessions, so my vinyl collection is down to a handful of bare essentials and friends bands.  I have a far more extensive cassette collection these days and virtually no CD's at all.  My iTunes is pretty clogged as well.

Colin:  I had to trim some fat not too long ago as well in order to survive while going to school.  I tried to keep it quality not quantity with some exceptions along the way.  I still have a decent tape collection, Joe’s is cooler though.  My CDs suck for the most part and I have a buncha MP3s on an external hard drive.

With all of the various methods of release available to musicians today I’m always curious why artists choose the mediums and which they prefer.  Why have you chosen the media that you have for your releases so far?  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music?  What about when you are listening to and or buying music?

Joe:  I've always loved both vinyl and cassettes, they've got that warmth and character that other mediums have just never been able to capture, plus I've always loved the idea of being able to have a side A and a side B.

Colin:  LPs and cassettes are my favorite as well.  I like the two-sided distinction as well and the packaging is cooler than CDs and 7”s.  I’ve also always wanted to do a flexi or something entirely transparent like The SS LP.

If you haven’t ascertained it yet, I’m passionate about music.  Collecting it, archiving it and enjoying it.  I love music in all of its various forms, including digital music.  I cannot deny the ease of being able to take almost my entire record collection and the world of music that I have been exposed to via the internet have both completely revolutionized how I look at music.  On the other hand it’s undermined decades of infrastructure and work that have been done in the mainstream music industry.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era what is your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Joe:  I don't have much of an opinion about digital music.  I download stuff all the time so it’s convenient for sure, not necessarily better or worse.  I fucking hate CDs though and think it’s the worst format to ever exist for music.

Colin:  I would much rather listen to an MP3 than listen to a CD.  It’s convenient, CDs are annoying as hell.  They always get destroyed and I like to think I take care of my records fairly well, plus you can listen to so much more digitally while in transit.  I like to check out stuff digitally and buy what I like or what has a nice design, artwork or packaging, later on.

I try to keep up with as much music as I possibly can, so I can listen to and spread the word about good tunes!  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of that I should be listening to?

Joe:  Love The Funs and Doom Town, Lumpy & The Dumpers, Trauma Harness, Shaved Women, Times Beach, Black Panties and anything Spotted Race puts out really.

Colin:  Again, I can’t say too much with regards to North Carolina, although I did see Mercy Killings recently and they were well, sick!  But as far as Minneapolis goes, check out Mystery Date, Cozy, The Dimensionals, Temple, Claps, Rollerblade, Ex-Nuns (Interview here), Sand Creeps, Hot Rash, Victory and Principality.

What about nationally and internationally?

Joe:  Nuclear Spring from New York kills, Population from Chicago, our dudes No Problem from Canada, Final Grin from Chicago and Broken Prayer also from Chicago.
Colin:  I don’t think I’m harboring any secrets…

Thanks so much for doing this interview.  I know my interviews can be kind of a war of attrition but hey, we made it so thank you again!  Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about?

Joe:  Sick interview, thanks for taking the time!

Colin:  This was killer, thanks so much!
















DISCOGRAPHY
(2013)  Voight-Kampff – Voight-Kampff – digital, Cassette Tape, 12” – Self-Released/Deranged Records/Rock Bottom Records (Limited Cassette Tape release, 12” LP reissue by Deranged Records/Rock Bottom Records)


Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013

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