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Multicult interview with Nick Skrobisz


Noisy and brash Multicult are here to kick some ass and chew bubblegum, and right now they’re all out of bubblegum.  From early beginnings as a one man recording project, Multicult has grown into a full-fledged noise based punk rock band that’s far more cogent and coherent than most of its counterparts in the genre, not to mention decidedly more well written.  In such a cluttered industry it would be easy to overlook Multicult but from the first moment I heard Spaces Tangled I knew that there was something special, unique and altogether different about Multicult.  Something that set them apart from the run of mill noise punk bands these days.  I could yammer on and on all day about how much I like the band and make even stranger and more awkward attempts at describing their sound but as Multicult’s own Nick Skrobisz says, “I think in today’s world it’s just better to sample the goods online.  It takes almost no time!” 
Listen while you read: http://multicult.bandcamp.com/

What’s Multicult’s current lineup?  Has this always been the band or have there been some changes made over time as far as that’s concerned?

Rebecca Burchette, Jake Cregger and myself (Nick Skrobisz) are the original members.  The only exception, if one could call it that, is the self-titled LP which I did solo shortly before the other two joined.

The more people I talk to these days the more I realize that people are often in several extremely active bands at one time.  Are any of you in any other bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone else?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

I play in The Wayward.  Jake also does a grind band called Triac and another sort of postpunk thing with Highway Cross.  Rebecca used to play guitar for Fight Amputation, whom you may have heard of.  She and I also had a band for a while called Lady Piss.

Let’s take a little time and talk about your musical background.  Where are you originally from?

Rebecca and I both live in Baltimore and Jake is just outside of DC in Arlington, Virginia.  I’m originally from Virginia as well, so I guess one could call it a mid-Atlantic upbringing.

Was your home very musical growing up?  Were your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved and or interested in music?

My parents are deaf so we didn’t have a stereo in the house until I was about ten.  Then, my dad got us a stereo and he later got me a guitar for Christmas when I was thirteen.  My two younger brothers play guitar and piano respectively.  The older brother I play in another band with, The Wayward.

What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music and when did that take place?

When I was thirteen, hearing In Utero gave me such an uneasy feeling.  It sort of opened up the panacea of under the radar stuff, at the time to a thirteen year old, of Jesus Lizard, Black Flag and what have you.

If you had to pick one show, one song or one moment, a transcendent moment in music that changed the way you saw everything what would it be?

Me and my high school bandmate took my Dad’s car to Baltimore (without permission, of course) to see Unsane at a converted strip club in Baltimore called Memory Lane.  We were sixteen and it was raining immensely all the way up…  The drive from Northern Virginia was really horrendous.  Once we arrived, we didn’t have enough money to get into the show since we didn’t realize how much in gas and tolls it would take to get there.  Luckily the door was open, and the only people in the club were the Unsane guys.  They were totally inviting.  When we told them that we didn’t have enough money, and that we weren’t even old enough to even get into the 18+ show, Chris said, “just tell ‘em you’re with us.”  So we just posted up in there, watching them do a dry run on a new song, with no door guy or even a bartender present.  I got the impression that the owners didn’t even bother locking the doors of this place when it was closed.  When they played their set proper later that evening, it was the probably the most cathartic thing I had seen in my life at that point.  It was a view into what being in a band really was and why playing what one wanted, without any interest in being likeable or cool, was indeed feasible and totally worthwhile.

When and what brought about the decision that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?

It started in high school, playing in bands and playing hooky at the same time.  It wasn’t all that gradual, or all that instant.  It’s just what I’ve always enjoyed.

When and how did you all originally meet?

We’ve all known each other for close to a decade, playing shows together in numerous bands and what have you. 

What brought about the formation of Multicult and when exactly did that happen?

I had been working on demo songs on my own a lot in late ’08 and throughout ’09, and decided to bite the bullet and press them to a record.  After playing it for a few friends, Rebecca and Jake particularly, showed an interest in a live show that I booked before having any bandmates.  After the first practice, the chemistry was so natural that we decided to just run with it and turn it into a full-fledged band.

Where’s Multicult currently located at?

Baltimore, Maryland.

How would you describe the local music scene where you all are currently located?

Fantastic.  There are so many bands in Baltimore always forming and translating into other acts, and they tend to exceed or defy conventions.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?

If by “involved”, you mean going to shows and playing shows, I’d give myself a seven out of ten, versus some who religiously attend every event.  It’s really not feasible, being that there are three or four worthwhile shows going on any given night in Baltimore, which is just another testament to its vibrance.

Do you think the local music scene has played a large role in the sound, history or evolution of Multicult’s sound?

Certainly.  Rebecca especially has lived here a long time, so she can attest to that.  I think that Baltimore is just one of the most ideal environments for new ideas to thrive.  I heard recently that a lot of product-testers use Baltimore for their assays, because apparently it’s the most representative sample of the U.S. as a whole.

I seriously dig your name, it’s almost impossible to forget and has a certain ring to it that doesn’t fall into the comical pun realm that so many names do these days.  What does the name Multicult mean as the title of the band?  How did you go about choosing it and who came up with the name?

Hey, thanks!  Like most ideas, it sort of sprung up when it wanted to.  It doesn’t mean anything specifically or exclusively.  I guess it’s the opposite of exclusivity.  What’s that, inclusivity?

It may seem like a clich├ęd question, and one I assumed I would avoid like the plague when I began writing, but I can see where it comes from now and when you listen to a band that has as dense and complicated sound such as yourself I can only wonder who your personal musical influences are?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

Definitely Kraftwerk, Birthday Party, Big Black, Halo of Flies, Esplendor Geometrico, Front 242…

I love writing about music but I’m not always the best at describing how a band sounds as I’m not super interested in labeling, classifying or pigeonholing a band’s sound.  Rather than me making some awkward attempt and describing Multicult to our readers how would you describe the sound in your own words?

I think in today’s world, it’s best to just sample the goods online.  It takes almost no time!

What is Multicult’s songwriting process like?  Does someone approach the rest of the band with a riff or somewhat finished product to work out and compose with the rest of you or is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas during rehearsals and practices?  Has there been much change since the band began?

We don’t put too many parameters on it.  A pattern on any one instrument can germinate into a song; sometimes you have that song that just assembles itself.  For some songs, we let Jake run wild on drums with a full mic setup and we make arrangements based on cutups of those sessions.

Do you enjoy getting into the studio and recording?  As a musician myself I think that we can all appreciate the end result, holding an album in your hands knowing that it’s your and that you made it is an absolutely amazing.  Getting into the studio and actually recording the material on that album, well that can be a little stressful too say the least.

Oh, immensely.  It’s great.  Not really so stressful these days as we do all the recording ourselves, so we’re not on anyone else’s time when it comes to creating output.

Does Multicult do a lot of preparatory work before you head into the studio getting compositions and arrangements just the way that you want them or is there room for change and variation when it comes to recording for you all?

We are constantly writing and recording and throwing stuff away if it doesn’t click with everyone.  It’s like a sieve constantly shaking to isolate what nuggets remain.  A song will remain quite flexible while being written.  Though once it’s released, generally it’s onto the next adventure.

Speaking of the studio let’s take some time and discuss your back catalog a little bit.  2010 saw the release of your debut album the Self-Titled Multicult.  Can you share your memories of recording that first album?  Was it a fun, exciting experience or was the process difficult for you at all?  When and where was that material recorded?  Who recorded it and what kind of equipment did they use?

It was a lot of fun recording that material, very haphazard and liberating at the same time.  I had started playing drums about a year before, and was very much interested in structuring songs based solely on drums.  I wouldn’t touch the song with a guitar until the drums and bass overdubs were in place, and suddenly the guitar got a whole lot more interesting.  I found a consonance that was lacking in previous efforts.

I know that the Self-Titled LP was limited to 300 copies but who put that out?  Is the Self-Titled album still in print?

I put that out, there are a few available still through distributors I believe.

You followed up the Self-Titled album with your first single, “Open Fire” b/w “The Costume” on Amplified Noise Recordings in 2011.  Was the recording of that material very similar to the session(s) for the earlier album?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it and what kind of equipment did they use?  Was that single a limited release?  Is it still in print?

We record everything where we practice.  The Self-Titled LP was recorded in the same place, though I think the recordings have been progressively improving, with better gear acquired, techniques etcetera.  There’s also a bit more scrutiny, ha-ha.


The Open Fire 7” also contained a download coupon for two bonus tracks from the first album, “On Day Glow” and “Le Coq Sportif”.  Were the digital bonus tracks the same recordings and mixes that appeared on the debut Self-Titled album or is there any variation between the two versions?

No, the 7” bonus tracks are newer versions that Rebecca and Jake play on.

Then in 2012 you dropped your sophomore effort the Spaces Tangled album on Sleeping Giant Glossolalia.  Did you approach the writing or recording of that album differently than the Self-Titled album?  When was that material recorded and who recorded it?  Where was that at and what kind of equipment was used? 

It was quite different.  I think the variety of processes used from song to song really lent itself to the robustness of that record.  About a third of the material was written live, another third based on bass and drum tracks that Rebecca and Jake laid down, with the remaining bit comprised of songs adapted from demo recordings I sequentially made just after the self-titled record.  We used, and still use, very basic 16-channel A/D conversion along with Some Neve, Neotek and clone preamps, with a wide variety of mics.  Spaces Tangled was made with a bit more care and acumen than the first two releases.


What does the title Spaces Tangled mean or refer to?

Primarily, it has to do with limits in the choices we make and the causality thereof, but it has a lot of other implications, which made it appealing for us.

You also released your second 7” single this month (October 2013) comprised of two tracks, “Jaws” and “Luxury” this time on Reptilian Records.  I know the new “Jaws” single was released in three different limited edition versions by Reptilian.  There are one hundred copies on clear wax, two hundred on white splatter colored vinyl and finally seven hundred on black wax.  Were those new songs you recorded specifically for the single or have they been around a while looking for a home?  When were they recorded?  Where were those tracks recorded at?  Who recorded them and what kind of equipment was used?

Same place, same equipment as all the other releases.


Does Multicult have any music that we haven’t talked about yet?

Lots of new live stuff, probably half our set right now. 

Are there any plans for a follow-up single or maybe a new full-length in the works or on the horizon at this point?

New record, early 2014.

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

Direct from the labels you can get most of our stuff: http://sleepinggiantglossolalia.com and http://www.reptilianrecords.com.

What about our international and overseas readers?  With the completely insane international postage rate increases this year I always try and see if there are any purchasing options available to our overseas and international readers.  With the internet these days I know about a ton of stuff coming out, but without proper distribution they feel like a carrot on a stick to me as I just can’t afford to pay more in shipping than I am for the actual album. 

Yeah it can be tough.  Right now for European Distributors we have a couple via Kaos Kontrol in Finland (http://kaos-kontrol.org) and X-Mist in Germany (http://x-mist.de).  There will be more soon with the forthcoming record.

And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news like upcoming album releases and shows from Multicult at?


Do you enjoy touring?  Do you spend a lot of time on the road?

Of course, yes!  We don’t tour as much as some bands, but we get around.

What does Multicult have planned as far as touring goes for the end of this year?  Do you have anything planned for 2014 yet?

We’re doing a few shows in Philly, New York City and Baltimore in November and we’re working on some touring and a new Record in early 2014.

You have played with jaw-dropping bands over the years.  Who are some of your personal favorite acts that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

I think we all agree that Vaz is pretty tops on that list and we’ve been lucky enough to play with them on numerous occasions, Roomrunner as well.  Also Thrones, Fight Amputation, Shit and Shine, Xaddax, Gay Witch Abortion and Child Bite.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Unsane, or maybe Umberto or Ministry.

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


There are a lot of funny moments of us getting from show to show, but they’re too numerous to prioritize or even list, really.  Some involving skeezy motel rooms or narrowly-avoided serious bodily injury.


Are there any major goals that Multicult is looking to accomplish in 2014?

New record.

With all of the various methods available to artists today I’m always curious why particular artists choose the particular mediums that they do and why.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you are listening to or purchasing music?  If so why?

I prefer the vinyl format for release, it being the most “swank” and “baller” of the formats, though I have no qualms with tapes or CDs.  We will probably have some of the latter in the near future.  I do download a good share of music as well, being the path of least resistance to hear new material.

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

Lately, a lot of electronic stuff, Umberto, Vatican Shadow, Oneohtrix Point Never, Huerco S. to name a few in that category.  Pyrolator, Tangerine Dream, Esplendor Geometrico, a lot of my staples over the years have been more noise rock bands.  Namely Unsane, Birthday Party and Big Black/Shellac.

I have a problem, a serious, serious addiction to physical music.  I grew up with albums of all sorts around and fell in love with everything from staring at cover artwork for hours on end to meticulously reading liner notes for a glimpse inside the minds and recordings processes of my favorite albums.  There’s something entrancing, almost magical, about holding an album in your hands.  Having something to physically experience along with the sound that I don’t think will ever lose its magic to me.  Do you have any such connection to physically released music?

Of course who doesn’t want a physical copy!  I take it however I can get it.

I love CDs, I love tapes and LP.  I love DVDs and mini-discs.  If you can stick music on it I’m probably down for the cause but I am not one of those people that think digital files are destroying music.  There’s always good and bad that comes with a situation and while I agree that digital music has made it easier than ever to illegal procure music I’d also like to think that the widespread sharing has also resulted in spiked album sales for bands that would have most likely never been exposed to an agreeable audience had it not been for digital music and distribution.  On the other hand it’s crippling what we think of as the music industry and this point and destroying decades of work and infrastructure.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era what is your opinion on digital music and distribution?

It’s all give-and-take.  Your point regarding the new exposure and accessibility I think is an insightful one, and I’m okay with it.  Some of the mystery is gone, sure, but if one finds listening to music to be a tedious exercise, then good riddance.

If you can’t tell I’m passionate about music.  There’s not a whole lot out there that beats finding a new great band and picking up their album, anxiously following announcements, trying to catch shows and most importantly buying music.  I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s so much out there that’s available these days I have a hard time keeping up with everything (as if that’s even possible).  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of that I should be listening to?

New Flesh (the Baltimore one), Horse Lords, Leprechaun Catering, Microkingdom, Roomrunner, A Guide to Rational Living, Wildhoney, Hive Bent, Two Inch Astronaut, I could go on for days.  There really are tons of them.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.  It wasn’t short and I’m sure that it wasn’t all that fun or easy to get done so thanks again for making it this far.  Having humored me in almost every way imaginable is there anything that I missed or you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about or discuss?

No problem, it was a pleasure!

DISCOGRAPHY
(2010)  Multicult – Multicult – 12” – Self-Released (Limited to 300 copies)
(2011)  Multicult – “Open Fire” b/w “The Costume” – 7” – Amplified Noise Recordings
(2012)  Multicult – Spaces Tangled – 12” – Sleeping Giant Glossolalia
(2013)  Multicult – “Jaws” b/w “Luxury” – 7” – Reptilian Records (Limited to 1,000 copies:  100 on clear vinyl, 200 on white splatter vinyl and 700 copies on black viny)

















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

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