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MURDEREDMAN interview with Ron Kretsch and David Russell

© Ron Kretsch

I’ve heard the term hard rock a lot but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it so aptly applied than as a description of MURDEREDMAN.  Yes, they incorporate a lot of ideas from different places and you can hear a lot of stuff kicking around in the music, but first and foremost this is some heavy rock.  I mean seriously heavy.  Like Sabbath sounds kinda whipped when you’re through with the record heavy.  It’s so hard I wanted to call it metal until I paid more attention to the music and started to wrap my head around what was going on.  It’s strange that something this dissonant and atonal could be so freaking catchy too.  Beneath the murky mask of insanity that seems to gather at the top of MURDEREDMAN’s music like pond scum, there’s an extremely intricate and well planned structure underlying the entire thing, frantically darting and weaving about in these insanely precise little patterns.  Most bands that are this loud and aggressive don’t pay near enough attention to the structure or melody of their songs but have no doubt MURDEREDMAN are here not only to break the rules but your speakers as well.  Unleashing their debut album Love In Danger on the world last year (2013) along with a slew of sold out limited cassette releases that last few years, MURDEREDMAN is a well-oiled machine capable of basically anything they set their minds to.  Having reached the maximum amount of infiltration in their home state MURDEREDMAN are now looking to expand their empire with some touring, singles and cassette tapes or so I had heard; global domination seemed immanent.  I had to get the skinny on it all, the touring, the tapes; all of it.  Luckily Ron Kretsch and David Russell took time to answer my myriad of questions about the band and shed some light on where the band’s come from and where they’re going, so come on, let’s get murdered man!

What is MURDEREDMAN’s lineup?  Is this the original lineup or have you all made any changes over time?

David:  We are currently and probably always will be the original line up: John Delzoppo on drums, Ron Kretsch plays guitars, Rich Raponi on bass, and myself, David Russell, I'm the guy with the microphone and mirrors; but I'm going to talk a lot about the drums in this interview.

Are any of you in any other active bands at this point?  Have you put anything out with anyone in the past?  If so can you tell us a little bit about that?

David:  John has been playing drums in Clan Of The Cave Bear for the past ten years and Yeti Scalp for a little less.  Ron has another band called Banging Fragiles he'll tell you about in a second.  Rich frequently plays guitar in Matthew Wascovich's Scarcity Of Tanks and I'm active in several experimental/noise projects: Collapsed Arc (solo), Stopped Clock (with Josh Novak), COPS (with Wyatt Howland) and Jerk (my twelve year old on again/off again noise rock quartet).  All four MURDEREDMAN members have multiple releases from previous and current bands.  As for myself, my personal discography is 167 releases strong to date.

Ron:  David is correct, I’m in a band called Banging Fragiles.  We sound more or less like ‘80s college rock sprinkled with shoegaze fairy dust.  LP one of these days.  Prior to MURDEREDMAN, Rich and I played together for many years in a band called Self Destruct Button, who released two LPs, a CD, and a few singles.  Also, since David mentioned Matthew Wascovich, I believe everyone in MURDEREDMAN has been in Scarcity Of Tanks at one time or another.

Where are you originally from?

David:  I'm pretty sure we were all born and raised in northeast Ohio.  Rich and I are both from Lorain, Ohio.

How would you describe the local music scene where you grew up?  Did you go to a lot of shows when you were growing up?  Did the scene play a large part in your childhood or do you feel like it played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or the way that you play now?

David:  While I did play in a band in high school, we were the only band in the entire school.  I didn't discover Cleveland's local scene until I was in my early twenties and started playing in "local" bands.

Ron:  I got involved in Cleveland’s underground music scene just about as soon as I found out it existed.  I was about fifteen or sixteen and I saw a band called Death Of Samantha at an outdoor fest and they blew my mind.  Someone told me they were from Cleveland, and I thought “well shit, if people around here are doing stuff this good...”  So I started attending as many shows as I could get to.  Once my friends were old enough for drivers licenses, it was on.

What about your house when you were growing up?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested in music?

David:  My grandfather played drums since he was young.  On my ninth or tenth birthday he gave me a snare drum and I started taking lessons soon after.  He and I would practice together and take lessons back to back until I was eighteen.

Ron:  My father was an opera fanatic, so there was always music in the house, but neither of my parents played instruments.

What was your first real exposure to music?

David:  Beyond bonding with my grandfather over the drums, I'd say it was my experiences with high school marching and jazz band.  Not only did both of those groups play the typical school related events, but we were also good enough to do a lot of exhibition and competition shows too.  And the first two concerts I went to of my own accord as a teenager were Butthole Surfers with Flaming Lips, and Porno For Pyros with Mercury Rev.  Those shows really set a tone for me.

Ron:  The classical music I heard in the house growing up was about it until I was able to start discovering stuff on my own.  It was a big eye-opener when I found out you could borrow records from the library.

If you had to pick a single defining moment of music in your life, a moment that opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music, altered your perception of the world and changed the way that you saw everything, what would it be?

David:  For the record, hearing Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine as an eleven year old changed my tastes forever.  As far as live performances, seeing Marilyn Manson on the first date of the Anti-Christ Superstar tour in 1996 opened my eyes to the power of theatrics and performance art.  I've carried that impact with me ever since.  Live theatrics with mirrors, lights, flowers and other objects is a crucial part of my contribution to MURDEREDMAN.

Ron:  I brought home The Beatles’ soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night from the library.  I was familiar with the band name, is it possible not to be?  And I liked the cover.  I think I was nine.  My first time hearing that “JAAAAAANNNNNG” chord at the beginning of the title song was the actual moment of my Rock ‘N’ Roll lobotomy.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about?

David:  My sophomore year of high school I started my first band, No Conviction, after listening to too much Pavement and having an "I can do that" moment.  Before that, I played drums in a cover band that never left the basement.

Ron:  I started music lessons when I was in third grade with mandatory violin, and I moved on to dicking around with a bass guitar at about thirteen-ish.  I don’t think I ever “decided” to start writing and playing my own stuff.  I can’t understand why everyone who can play an instrument doesn’t make up their own music.

How and when did you all originally met?

David:  We all met within the Cleveland rock scene in late 90's/early 2000's playing in likeminded bands that often shared bills.

What led to the formation of MURDEREDMAN and exactly when was that?

David:  John, Ron and Rich started forming the band in the winter of 2011-2012.  I joined in February 2012 as the singer.  At the time we were all at a crossroads after our primary bands dissolved; Clan Of The Cave Bear, Self Destruct Button and Jerk.

Ron:  The band formed in John’s mind well before that, even.  He came to Rich and I with a well-realized concept for the band, and since our previous band had just splintered, we said “why not.”  I’m sure that if you were to time-machine back to that evening and listen to John’s pitch, the descriptions he brought to us could probably pass for a review of our first 7”.

Is there any shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

David:  High productivity at practice and in the studio, and giving the audience something more live than just watching four guys rock.

Ron:  Write, perform, record, release, write, perform, record, release, write, perform, record, release...

I know the name might seem a little self-explanatory to some people I’m always curious and often surprised by the real meanings and motivations/reasoning behind band names.  What does the name MURDEREDMAN mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?

David:  John came up with the name.  He mentioned liking the way it actually looked on paper with the palindrome moment in the middle.  That led us to make a decision to run the two words together.  I don't remember there being any other potential names on the table, MURDEREDMAN just seemed like the right choice.  I really liked the name because it fit the dark, noir, death-themed lyrical content I was working on in the first few songs.

Ron:  Huh.  I thought you came up with the name, David.  Okay then.

Where’s the band located at right now?

David:  Cleveland, Ohio.

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?

David:  I'm pretty deeply involved in Cleveland experimental, noise and synthesizer scene.  The experimental scene is very diverse and productive.  Some of the more renowned artists have included Aaron Dilloway, Bee Mask, Emeralds and Skin Graft.  I'll let Ron talk about the rock scene as I only dabble in it these days.

Ron:  I love the underground rock scene here, always have.  It’s at once wide open and tightly-knit.  Punk rock old-timers still hang out and are cool and participate musically, and new kids who turn up in promising bands are generally accepted really quickly.  People trying to be exclusionary dicks in Cleveland tend to find they’ve only excluded themselves, and that they’re not particularly missed.  But most importantly, the bands are really good.

Are you very involved in the local scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?  Do you help to record and or release any local music?

David:  We're all pretty involved in the local scene.  John and I both book a lot of shows and we all attend shows pretty regularly.  John runs Negative Space recording studio and records a lot of locals.  I run the PolarEnvy/A Soundesign record label and have been releasing experimental music mainly from northeast Ohio since 2004.

Ron:  I was a college radio DJ for fourteen years, and I often wrote about Cleveland music for the alt-weeklies and a monthly here.  Briefly, I was in concert promotions as a proper job.  It did not suit me.

Has it played a large role in the history or sound of MURDEREDMAN or do you think that you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of your location or surroundings?

Ron:  Hard to say specifically what might be different, but broadly, I’d say there’s no way we’d sound the same if we were from someplace like Los Angeles or Miami.  There’s a reason Manchester produced Joy Division and Birmingham produced Black Sabbath.  Immersion in a dying industrial city clearly shapes minds, perspectives and aesthetics.  Art from the rust belt* looks and sounds, for the most part, like art from the rust belt.  As well it should.

I feel like I’m pretty good at my job with Psychedelic Baby, at least in most regards.  The one thing that I’ve never been good at, and despite working on it I feel like I still do a terrible job at, is describing how a band sounds to people.  I just end up making these really long strange statements that confuse people more than anything else.  Rather than me taking some awkward stab and describing how you sound, how would your describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you yet?

David:  I couldn't describe us better than this Instagram post we found: "MURDEREDMAN was like if Bauhaus was on Touch And Go in 1989."

Ron:  That’s such total fucking horseshit.  We’re like if Red Lorry Yellow Lorry were on Boner Records in 1991.  EN GARDE!

Can you tell us who some of your major musical influences are?  I hear a lot of different stuff kicking around in your music and I’m very curious to hear who you would cite.  What about major influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

David:  In our first year we spent a lot of time listening to, and talking about, music after practice.  Some notable group influences would be, Amphetamine Reptile and Touch And Go, bands from the 1980's and 90's, Bauhaus, Hum, Jesus Lizard, Vaz and Wire.

Ron:  Doom metal and no-wave are present as well.  If one of us likes something, it’ll find it’s way in.

What’s MURDEREDMAN’s songwriting process like?  Is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas that get worked on a lot and kind of distilled into a song over a process of refinement or is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished product to work out and compose with the rest of the band?

David:  The majority of our songs seem to follow this process; either Ron brings guitar parts to practice, or John has a specific drum/song structure in mind, and then they write the skeleton with Rich.  I typically join in on the songs after they're two-thirds laid out and start working on lyrics.  After the lyrics are finished I work on the live theatrics while the band tightens the song.  We write songs pretty quickly, we've got about eighteen done in two years.

Do you all enjoy recording?  There’s not a whole lot in the world that beats holding an album in your hands knowing that it’s yours, you made it and that no one can ever take that away from you.  But getting to that point, getting everything recorded and mixed, especially when it comes to doing it all together as a band can really be trying to say the very least.  How is it recording for you all?

David:  It's laborious, but I think we've found a good rhythm in our process.  We're all pretty efficient and “results” driven artists.  Love In Danger took about eight months to go from recording to test press.  I think everyone else in the band has worked on albums with other projects that meticulously before, but that was my first experience crafting something so detailed.

Ron:  I love recording.  I’d love to do it all the time.  With this band in particular, it’s been especially rewarding since we all pretty much know what we’re doing, and how we want the end result to feel.

Do you all go into the studio to record or is it more of a DIY proposition for you where you handle more of that stuff on your own terms, time and turf?

David:  We've recorded two short, limited cassette releases ourselves on our own time.  But for our 7" and 12" records we went to different studios to work with specific people.  We've found that when we're working on a bigger project it's often the best call to leave the boards to someone we trust so we can concentrate on our performance.

Does MURDEREDMAN do a lot of prep work before you record?  Is it a situation where you all work out all the compositions and arrangements getting things to sound just the way that you want them, or do you all approach recording with a more cavalier attitude where things have some room to breathe and evolve during the recording process?

David:  We're a very prepared group.  We typically go into the studio with finished songs.  However, when we recorded Love In Danger, we did a lot of multi-tracking which led us to results you can't necessarily achieve as a live band.

Ron:  I personally have almost never set foot in a studio without knowing well in advance exactly where every note belonged. Our song “Diamona” was an edifying exception, but generally, I’m not at all keen on the potential timesuck of chasing half-formed ideas down God only knows how deep of a rabbit hole while the clock is ticking on your record.  This jazz ain’t free.

You guys have a pretty extensive back catalog for a band that’s only been releasing music for a few years so let’s dive on in and talk a little bit about it.  Your first release was the 2012 self-released MURDEREDMAN 7” limited to only 200 copies and’s long since sold out.  Can you share some of you memories of recording that first single?  Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you all?  Where and when was that material recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

David:  We demoed those songs ourselves at John's Negative Space studio but decided to go with Paul Maccarrone's Zombie Proof Studio in Cleveland for the actual 7" recordings.  Paul is someone we've all worked with before and respect, we trusted him to get an honest recording of our live sound that carried the power and intensity of the performances.  We essentially recorded and mixed seven songs in one day.  Paul records bands on 1/2" reel-to-reel tape if I remember correctly.

Ron:  Paul is awesome.  If there’s even a little bit of dirt on your band’s sound, he knows exactly how to make it work for you instead of trying to tidy it up.  At the time, his studio was set up in the living room of a punk house, and the session was very loose, flexible, and casual, but still perfectly workmanlike.  He captured the band exactly as it needed to be captured at that time.  I would make another MURDEREDMAN record with him.

You followed up the Self-Titled MURDEREDMAN 7” with the Self-Titled MURDEREDMAN cassette tape on A Soundesign Recording and ultra-limited to only 30 copies!  Was the recording of the material for this release much different than your earlier single?  Where was it recorded and who recorded it?  When was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

David:  The material on the tape is the same as the material on the 7" record with some extra songs from the same session, all recorded by Paul Maccarrone.  The limited edition tape was made for a weekend tour in case some people didn't want vinyl.  Cassettes are a very popular medium in Cleveland, I knew we'd be able to find a home for all of them if they didn't sell on tour.

To finish out 2012 you self-released the Dark Entries cassette in another ultra-limited run of only 20 tapes.  2012 was a really productive year for you all, was that material recorded on its own or was it part of some previous session(s)?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

David:  The Dark Entries cassingle was a special edition made for the WCSB Cleveland 89.3 FM Cassettefest Fest.  It was available for one night only.  The Bauhaus cover was backed with "Halve The Mind", which would later be re-recorded and appear on the Love In Danger full length.  John recorded those two songs digitally at his Negative Space studio.

You started off 2013 with your first full-length album Love In Danger on A Soundesign Recording and limited to only 300 pieces.  Did you all approach the writing or recording of your first full-length differently than your earlier work?  Did you try anything new or radically different when it came to the songwriting or recording?  Who recorded that material and where was that?  When was that material recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

Ron:  Most of that album was simply collected from the pool of songs we had in the hopper at the time.  The songs weren’t written any differently than any others, they were just our songs.  When the time to record approached we realized “hey, it would be nice to have this kind of song on the album, or that kind of song,” so one or two things were purpose-written, but that’s it.  We didn’t record anything extra or leave anything off.  The recording process itself is an entire article in itself, really.  I’ll do it the best justice I can, but this story could go so much deeper.  Dustin Rose of the amazing Columbus band Drose offered to record us “in this room where [he] worked, which they sometimes let [him] use on weekends.”  We jumped at the offer, since the recordings he made of his own band had a lot of sonic characteristics we coveted for ourselves.  It turned out that the room where he worked was a friggin’ hangar at the Center for Automotive Research at Ohio State University.  Nobody in his or her right mind endeavoring to build a recording studio would contrive a space like this.  The room was massive, every surface floor-to-ceiling was metal, and there was no sound baffling of any kind.  The entire floor was false and made of thick slabs of removable tread-plating, with four feet of crawl space beneath it so that one could get underneath a car no matter where it was in the room.  I’m guessing the ceilings were about forty feet high, maybe fifty.  That was the drum room.  My guitar amp and Rich’s bass amp were in the crawl space underneath the floor, and very nearly underneath the drums.  John’s drums were all double-mic’d.  One set of drum mics went straight into the multi-channel digitizer, there was no mixing board, it was all done virtually on an iMac, and the other set went into a P.A. so that more low end could be EQ’d into it and pumped into the room sound; “the room sound,” by the way, in this monstrous room, was two mics on the floor.  The P.A. speaker then went up over John’s head on a forklift, so that it wouldn’t vibrate the floor plates, and so it wouldn’t create a feedback loop into the drum mics.  It was fucking bonkers, and I still cannot believe that shit worked.  We did all the basic tracks live in one afternoon in this compound full of experimental cars.  Afterward I did a few quick rounds of overdubs just to get as much material recorded as possible with the same sound, and then we and Drose packed up our gear and drove up to Akron to play a gig at RCN Cave.  The rest of the tale is more mundane.  We took the digital files from Dustin and did vocals, other overdubs, and the final mix at John’s studio in Cleveland over the course of a few months.  John really threw himself into the process, making it all his own and using every opportunity to experiment.  Obviously it worked out.  I’ll shamelessly and unhesitatingly go to bat for Love In Danger as one of the best noisy underground rock records you’ll ever hear, and the process was an experience I’ll cherish until I die.

You also released another really limited tape in 2013, a split Drose v MURDEREDMAN on A Soundesign Recording in a limited run of 50 tapes.  Was that material written and or recorded specifically for the split or was it some material that was kicking around from previous session(s) that were looking for a home?  If they were recorded for the tape can you tell us about the recording of those tracks?

David:  While we’re always working on a new song or two, those three songs were written with the split in mind.  We recorded those tracks ourselves, same as the Dark Entries material.  We did a five day tour with Drose last July and that split was limited to the tour.  As you can see, we like doing short run cassettes for special occasions.

Ron:  I feel I should add that while they were written for that specific release, we’re sufficiently taken by a couple of those songs that it’s not out of the question that different recordings of them may end up on other releases in the future.  We do love the short runs, but we also want our strongest ideas to be potentially accessible to more than just a few people.

Does MURDEREDMAN have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single or a song on a compilation that I might have missed?

David:  Nope, you've covered it all!  The only material we haven't recorded and released is currently being developed at practice for release sometime in 2014.

With the release of the Drose split and the Love In Danger full-length last year (2013) are there any releases in the works or on the horizon from MURDEREDMAN at this point?

David:  Right now we're taking a break from playing live to write new songs.  Instead of putting that material together as a second album we're going to shift focus to smaller releases like split 7" records, lathe records and cassettes.

Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your music at?

David:  You can get our Love In Danger 12" record direct from us here, there's links to buy our releases digitally there too.  A lot of Cleveland record stores like Hausfrau, My Mind’s Eye, Loop, and Music Saves carry our releases, also Chicago's Permanent Records.

With the absolutely insane postal rate increases this last year on international postage I try to provide our readers with as many options as I possibly can as far as picking up import releases as I can.  Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to purchase your music?

David:  The Love In Danger 12" is available through SuperFi Records in the UK.

And where’s the best place for fans to keep up with the latest news from MURDEREDMAN like upcoming shows and album releases at?

David:  I run the Polar Envy website, MURDEREDMAN has a page there.  We also have a Facebook page.

Are there any major goals that MURDEREDMAN are looking to accomplish in 2014?

David:  Write at least eight new songs, reinvent the live theatrics and tour more.

Ron:  Traveling more feels like the single biggest priority; we’ll always write and record anyway.  Cleveland is a great place for artists and musicians to live, but the population is small enough that we’ve likely reached most of the people we’re going to reach here.  We believe very strongly in what we’re doing and we want to bring it to as many people as we can, and that’s not happening if we stay put.  Another step we’ll be taking is getting more active in seeking a label to work with.

Do you remember what the first song that MURDEREDMAN ever played live was?  Where and when was that?

David:  Our first show was at Now That's Class in Cleveland on April 21st, 2012 opening up for Racebannon.  "My Time As Fire" was probably the first song of the set.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes for 2014 so far?

David:  We're going to try getting out of Cleveland one weekend every month starting in March, with maybe a week-long tour sometime this summer.  First up, Chicago and Milwaukee in March.  Ohio is easily accessible to Chicago, New York and everywhere in between.  We can easily get out to a number of cities that are tourable in two to three days.

Do you all enjoy touring?  Do you spend a lot of time on the road?  What’s life like touring with MURDEREDMAN?

David:  We all come from projects that have toured, some rather extensively across America.  I think it's safe to say that we all enjoy it.  I wish we could spend more time on the road but most of us have full time day jobs so we concentrate on weekend excursions.  We're all pretty amicable and well prepared when touring.  We take time to see some sights when possible too.  We spent some extra time in Toronto with our host Tad enjoying the city and several hours taking in the majesty of Niagara Falls on the way home.  That was a great short trip!  I've always felt that touring is equal parts work and vacation.

© Lou Muenz

You guys have played with some seriously cool bands the last few years!  Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to share bills with?

David:  We played with Columbus, Ohio's Drose seven times; I think that speaks for itself.  It was an honor to play The Varnish Underground Festival in Chicago and get to share a bill with BLOODYMINDED, Rectal Hygienics and Oozing Wound.

Ron:  VAZ!  I’ve been fortunate to have played on bills with those guys since they were in Hammerhead.  Their music is still as powerful as ever, and I abidingly respect their relentlessness.  One show we played with Vaz in New York City featured, at the top of the bill, an improv double-trio of incredible players, Mick Barr, Tim Dahl and Kevin Shea vs Brandon Seabrook, Evan Lipson and Weasel Walter.  The opening band was Barr, with his co-guitarist in the prog/black metal band Krallice, Colin Marston, doing a twenty-minute guitar duet.  That night was totally unforgettable, it would have been a gift just to have been there, let alone be on the bill!  And to echo David, Varnish fest in Chicago was a great, great day, and we’ll absolutely play with Drose whenever, wherever.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

David:  Just dreaming here...  Shellac and or Swans.  A bit more realistically, Niccofeine.

Ron:  Ha, yeah, Swans would be something, wouldn’t it?  A Place To Bury Strangers would be amazing, too.  I could watch bands like Pop.1280, We Are Hex or Vaz play several nights in a row and never get bored.

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

David:  We played one of the last shows at The Charleston in Brooklyn, there was septic water leaking through the ceiling above us, the floors were fucking filthy and I play barefoot on broken mirrors…  Use your imagination as to the disgusting end result.  A year later we went back to New York and someone came up to me and said, "You're the guy who played barefoot in The Charleston, I still talk about that!"

© Sean Gleba

Do you all give a lot of thought to the art that represents the band like flyers, posters and cover artwork?  Do you have a go-to person for your art?  If so, how did you all originally get hooked up?

David:  Ron and I are both artists and designers, we collaboratively handle the visual representation of the band but everyone has a say.  John came up with the band logo and occasionally does some type design too.  When we're not handling art-duties ourselves we often involve Cleveland illustrator Jon G for flyers.

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

David:  I think we all have a fetish for vinyl as many musicians do.  And while cassette fidelity is not always the greatest, I do love the way it mimics vinyl with an A and a B side.  Personally, I favor vinyl accompanied with a digital download code when purchasing.

Ron:  Vinyl with download is overwhelmingly preferred, but I have no problem with downloads alone.  I’ve done a lot of my listening on my phone’s MP3 player while walking or cycling, so I put a premium on portability.  I’ve had an eMusic subscription for more years than I can remember.

Do you have a music collection?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

David:  When you run a cassette label you receive and trade tapes a lot.  I have over a thousand cassettes that were all made since 2006.  I have a modest record collection and a couple shelves of CDs.  But due to my on-the-go lifestyle I do most of my listening digitally.

Ron:  I have far more records than shelf space to accommodate them, and this is after some pretty brutal purges.  Plenty of shelves full of CDs and a fair-sized pile of cassettes, as well.  I’m a pretty incorrigible music hoarder.

I grew up around a pretty sizable music collection and I was always encouraged to listen to anything that I wanted.  When I was a kid it seemed like these huge shelves of music just stretched on and on forever.  I would wander up, pick something completely at random off of the shelf, stick it in the player, read the liner notes, stare at the artwork and let the music transport me away to another place.  As a result I developed a pretty deep appreciation for physically release music at a pretty young age and I don’t think I’ll probably ever fully shake the addiction that I’ve developed.  Do you have any such connection to physically released music?

David:  I'm particularly drawn to handmade objects like cassettes, especially ones that push the boundaries of packaging.  My favorite cassette is one I've actually never heard, it's Ophibre’s Composition For Disassembled Cassette.  After dubbing the cassette, Ben Rossignal meticulously disassembled every piece of it and the tape reels themselves and neatly packed everything into tiny Ziploc bags, all carefully placed inside the shell and outside of the case.  I've had it for at least six years now, I promised myself I'd assemble it and listen to it when I'm fifty.  Another favorite is the Hanson Records reissue of Wind Licked Dirt by the Haters.  It's a c0 cassette, there's no tape, just tape leader connecting the spools, which comes with a bag of dirt and the instructions, "This tape is played by rubbing dirt in it."  I take that one out and jam it at least once a month.

Ron:  I buy vinyl all the time.  I bought copious amounts of it even when the format was presumed dead.  I grew up, as I said before, in a house full of classical records, and many of my formative memories revolve around procuring and playing 12” vinyl.  And I feel this sort of, this is going to come across pretentious as all hell, but fuck it, atavistic connection to LPs.  To handling them, to admiring the covers and reading the liners while I listen, that whole experience is practically elemental to me.

If you can’t tell, I love music in all its various forms.  The one problem that I’ve always had with my collection though is portability.  I could never take enough of it on the go to keep me happy!  Digital music has virtually eradicated that problem overnight but when you team it with the internet, that’s when you get the real game changer.  People are being exposed to an entire world of music that they otherwise would never have had access to and it seems to have leveled the playing field somewhat for independent musicians willing to take the time to promote and cultivate an online presence.  On the other hand though illegal downloading is running rampant and it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle that is the internet these days.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

David:  The internet has played a huge part in exposing my sounds to people who will never see me perform.  I have a download website where something like seventy out of eighty releases are free, I'm interested in the music getting heard and getting it off the site and into your media player.  I feel like illegal downloads become an issue when you're making a living off of your music, I still have a day job.

Ron:  I like digital.  Vinyl commodity fetish notwithstanding, playback formats are just containers for songs, and ultimately what I want to hear is people’s songs.  Not one development in the entire history of humanity has been more favorable to a person who wants to hear a song than the digital takeover of reproduction and distribution.  As to illegal downloading, when I was a kid, whichever one of my friends bought an album first would let the rest of us tape it from him.  That was how we routinely procured our music.  Nobody took that for an apocalyptic social crisis except the corporate music industry, who’re the same people now ginning up all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over file-sharing.  Nobody’s being seriously hurt by file-sharing but millionaires in the artificial zeitgeist industries.  Boo-fucking-hoo.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can, I listen to stuff online, I pick up albums at the local shop and I talk to as many people as possible.  Speaking of which, is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of yet?

David:  I hope you've heard of Cleveland's Pleasure Leftists and Skin Graft by now.  This past year I've been super into Ultrasphinx from Akron, Ohio, they're a killer complex rock trio with Joe Dennis from Party Of Helicopters backed by my current favorite rhythm section.  And a little bit further south in Columbus, Ohio there’s one of my all-time favorite artists, David Reed from Envenomist, Luasa Raelon and Imvixor.  I put a record out for Envenomist a few years ago, he makes dark cinematic synthesizer compositions.

Ron:  To expand on the mention of Pleasure Leftists, they’re working a totally different approach than us to dark, gothy music; I just adore them, and they honored us greatly by opening our LP release show.  There’s the heavier Blaka Watra, who just made a really cool album, which our drummer John recorded in fact.  There’s the atmospheric and trippy GoldMINEs, who’ve had a membership diaspora and so are only intermittently active now, but are still very much worth listening to.  There’s a solo electronics project called Prostitutes who’ve released some excellent records.  There’s the solo vocalist UnoLady, who is amazing, but indescribable in a mere sentence.  There are plenty of awesome heavy rockers, like Homostupids, All Dinosaurs, Megachurch and Fuck You Pay Me.  And there’s Obnox, which is Bim Thomas from This Moment In Black History, who’s been making some serious and well-deserved inroads to the wider public.  It was my privilege to play on an Obnox record last year and so see his process up close.  As loose and gritty as his records are, his work ethic is mighty damn serious.

What about nationally and internationally?

David:  Good god get a copy of Rectal Hygienics Even The Flies Won't Touch You LP on Torn Light!  Chicago's finest.  And the new Tiger Hatchery Sun Worship LP on ESP-Disk' is incredible too, they're another Chicago favorite, and I did the album art for that one.

Ron:  Vigorously agree about both of the above.  My answer to the question of with whom I’d want us to tour is a partial answer to this one.  Also, I’ve been digging Cellular Chaos, Guerilla Toss, the Chicago math rock band Boyfrndz, a Columbus psych band called Eye, and Bruce Lamont’s Circle Of Animals project.

Thanks so much for taking the time to finish the interview, I know that it wasn’t short but I hope you at least had some fun looking back over everything that you all have managed to accomplish and some of the stuff you’ve done as a band, I know I really enjoyed learning about it.  Before we sing off though is there anything that I might have possibly missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to discuss with me or talk to our readers about it?

David:  Thorough interview Roman, it'll be great to look back on this ten years from now!  Thank you!

Ron:  I’ve had long term girlfriends who never wanted to know this much about me.  Thank you, sincerely, for taking such an interest in MURDEREDMAN.  I’m glad you enjoy what we do.

© Roxanne Starnik

(2012)  MURDEREDMAN – MURDEREDMAN – 7” – Self-Released (Limited to 200 copies)
(2012)  MURDEREDMAN – MURDEREDMAN – Cassette Tape – A Soundesign Recording (Limited to 30 copies)
(2012)  MURDEREDMAN – Dark Entries – Cassette Tape Single – Self-Released (Limited to 20 copies)
(2013)  MURDEREDMAN – Love In Danger – 12” – A Soundesign Recording (Limited to 300 copies)
(2013)  MURDEREDMAN/Drose – Drose v MURDEREDMAN split – Cassette Tape – A Soundesign Recording (Limited to 50 copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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