"Weve recorded 130+ songs in the three years weve been doing this, and about 100 of those are fully produced, with vocals, and are waiting on the record labels to issue them. All of our songs are under one minute; its a rule that we write by. Ninety-five percent of the vocals are me. Brian does a wicked pissed off Donald Duck voice." Anthony Saunders of the New Jersey group Dataclast
Ben: Dataclast have worked with Chris Dodge and his Slap-A-Ham label, how did that ever come to be? Has working with the king of nofuckingaround-core helped you out at all?
Anthony Saunders: Im sure that the support from Dodge and from Jeb Branin (side note: Branin is from Crass Menagerie and is a writer for Short, Fast and Loud zine) has helped us immensely. Dave Witte was nice enough to get us on the bill for the last D.A. show, which I suppose helps our cred[ibility]. The real problem is that its just taking so long for a lot of our records to come out. The economy is utter shit right now and its hurting the small labels badly. With some luck, well have five or even six new records and comp appearances by the end of the year, including splits with Damage Digital, Earwigs and Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
Ben: Upon tooling around your Web site a bit, it appears as though you guys are a quite informed couple of dudes. Would you say that you are a politically-driven band?
Brian Klock: Politics are really uninteresting anymore. Theres really nothing that we want to say through Dataclast. The music is the message, any extrinsic message we layer on top of our songs is really just for the purpose of counterpoint or a point of reference. The politics in Dataclast are often half-joking or what-would-happen-if diversions. If I wanted to make a serious political statement, I wouldnt growl it over 200 BPM blast beats and distorted synthesizers.
Anthony: Politically driven? Nope. Political? I suppose. Brian and I are both very interested in politics and philosophy and history, but were not activists. I gave that up in college. We do tend to approach a lot of what we do from a post-modern perspective, but to explain what we mean by that would require too much thought for me. The band is first and foremost about pushing the limits of grindcore via computers. We dont even have lyrics for most of our songs. The ones that have lyrics are usually about a few things: fundamentalism, intellectual property, ideology, perspectives on history and the truth...
All of the songs that express straight-forward political ideas are my fault, I get all riled up by religious fanatics and by Republicans, and out pours generic anarcho-thrash lyrics, like Force Fed The Party Lie.
Brian, on the other hand, likes to write stuff like the implicit abstraction is never resolved; history is no longer meaningful... scandal is the norm; violence no longer exists I love that track... It'll be on the ANB split.
Ben: My cat is about to have kittens. Either of you guys want one? Im scared.
Anthony: I love kittens. CUTE! But they are verboten in my apartment due to my lease. Doh. I think a kitten might eat Brian and Dawns tiny dog, Belle, but if they did get one, theyd have to name it Sebastian, I think.
(Side note: Peanut had her kittens. Two healthy ones and a mangled mess with clubbed feet and a spinal problem called spina bifida. Clubber died on July 10th at four days old. He/she is now in a better place. Yep, Im a sap.)
Ben: What is this overwhelmed.org and what happened to the Assume Power Focus webzine? I used to read that and Aversion Online all the time. Its tough for us folks to keep informed here in the heart of it all, ya know?
Anthony: Overwhelmed.org is a media collective; which translated into English means that it is a site that was founded by some friends who all are creative in a variety of media. Its mostly updated by Brian and myself, but there are a few others involved.
Brian: Overwhelmed.org was started in 1996 or 1997 by myself and Chris Johanesen. We always referred to it as a makeshift media collective since it was never well organized or planned. Its really just a platform for everything a group of us have done. Anytime I need a Web site, or a label for a project, I can just place it under the overwhelmed.org umbrella. I invited Anthony to join in 1998 so he could get his webzine off of Angelfire and onto a real server.
Anthony: As for Assume Power Focus, I should really put something up on the site that explains why I stopped doing it. Being favorably mentioned in the same breath as Aversion Online is a huge compliment, thank you. AO is still around, you know? I think it's www.aversionline.com. Basically, between Dataclast, my solo music, a girlfriend at the time that I stopped, and doing a lot of other stuff, I didnt have much time to write reviews, and it was just too much hassle. I now do a Web journal kind of thing that is updated frequently whenever I have consistent Internet access. Its here: http://www.overwhelmed.org/anthony
The big news is, I might be doing a new issue of APF, as a paper zine, called APF2K2 or APF2K3, depending on when it comes out. Some interviews, some articles, and a lot of movie, music, and video game reviews. Im a total slave to my Dreamcast lately. Its impacting my productivity.
Ben: Back to Dataclast, right off the bat I think of Assuck. Any
Anthony: Complete coincidence! No, really! Ok, I love Assuck. In 97 or 98, I was lucky enough to see Assuck five times. They were one of the greatest grindcore acts ever, and the song titles seemed very appropriate for a digital version of grind. Its all just data, you know...
Ben: On to the live show. What do you guys do in preparation, drink soymilk or chomp on dead cow?
Brian: Hmm, chomping a dead cow sounds mighty inviting, but Ill have to pass. I became vegan a few years before joining Dataclast.
Anthony: I was vegan when Brian was a vegetarian, and now that hes vegan, Ive wussed out and am vegetarian. Been veggie for 10 years now, dont see anything stopping that.
As for playing live, from my days in the noise scene I learned that I usually get so nervous about playing that I forget to eat all day and get a wicked bad migraine, so I force myself to eat too much. Weve only played live twice, so we dont have it all down yet. Once our records come out, were going to play live a lot more. While Im proud of the first seven inch with the almighty Pantalones Abajo Marinero on Discos Al Pacino, that was from our gore-grindy demo days and were way more tech/prog-minded deathgrind these days, so Id feel weird about showing up with material that is nearing three years old for sale while playing only the new stuff.
Ben: Tech-nerd talk: What in the fuck are you using to do what you do? And you do what you do pretty damn well, I might add. Does Dataclast use the same setup on stage as you do in the studio?
Anthony: There are about six synths at our disposal, including a fat Korg Mono/Poly 4 oscillator analog synth, and a wicked Additive synth, K5000 or something like that. All the hardware is Brians gear. When I do stuff on my own (for Dataclast, or my breakcore/idm/ambient/gabber electronic stuff), I use an Apple iBook, Logic Audio, Reason, Recycle, Reaktor and sometimes Metasynth and Melodyne. I play live using Ableton Live, which is an amazing real time audio sequencer that auto tempo syncs stuff and lets you run VST effects on to different tracks. Exceptionally useful for my techno stuff. It would take us about two hours to recreate our studio in a live venue, so Dataclast is karaoke core live, in that we bring a laptop, play instrumental mp3s (occasionally tweaked for live), and I scream over it. From now on, our sets will be on the really short side, maybe 15 songs if you are lucky.
Brian: I like synthesizers, Anthonys more into pure software solutions, but I have about a dozen synth modules, plus effects processors and other fun stuff. Everything is driven from a computer running Cakewalk and JSynthLib. If we ever end up headlining Id like to recreate a subset of our studio on stage and do some computer aided improvisation, but when were opening for a bigger band, no one wants to wait an hour for us to set up for a ten minute set. We try to set it up and tear it down really quick, its really just a laptop, some mics and amps.
Ben: How long would you say Dataclast spends putting together one of its short, fast, and oh so sweet tidbits of tuneage from start to end?
Anthony: It really depends on how crazy we get with the production. At its most straight forward, it generally takes a half hour to an hour and a half on the MIDI, depending on how in the zone we are, and then about 30 minutes to record the kick drums, then the snares and cymbals, then the guitar one, guitar two and the bass guitar synths, which are triggered by MIDI from Cakewalk on Brians ancient PC, and run through regular guitar pedals like the Death Metal Pedal, for our bass. I cant believe it really says Death Metal on it. Most synths sound like Merzbow when run through it.
The vocals can be a bitch to record. For one, right now Brians mixer is dying a slow painful death and recording vocals is extremely difficult. For two, when there are lyrics it can be really hard to get them to fit correctly. And then there's the matter of getting a good take, without me killing my throat. Back in the day we used to write the song and then record the vocals on the spot, but now we just write and write and write and then occasionally do five to 10 songs at once.
Brian: In general, Id say we spend between two and 10 minutes on every second of recording now that we know what were doing. When were experimenting with new ideas or production ideas, it can be longer. Sometimes well come back to one song week after week and keep changing or improving it. Well write a song, and then listen to it during the week and decide to change it next time we record, etc.
Ben: Is there any room to improvise during a Dataclast set, or is everything pretty much set in stone a la programming?
Anthony: The vocals, since many songs have no lyrics, and I do about five distinct voices. (Side note: the voices include scream, mid-range black metal, power violence, mortician, and Dr. Claw) Other than that, not really. Were more of a studio band anyway, I cant accompany myself five times at once like I often do in the studio.
Ben: Does Satan play a role in your lives? I hear he can be quite an interesting character to bullshit with.
Anthony: Dude, Satans a washed up sell out. Its all about Senator Hollings and his campaign against fair use. Now thats evil! I sacrifice goats to him every full moon.
Brian: Satan is really just the flipside of God in Judeo/Christianity.
Believing in Satan is just a way for someone to buy into the dominant cultural force thats been oppressing us for the last thousand years and still think theyre alternative. Ive got nothing against religion, but we really have to get over it to a much greater extent than weve managed so far.
Ben: Are you guys prepared to go the distance with this thing (side note: Dataclast), or is it more of a hobby type of thing?
Brian: Id love to get Dataclast on a big indie label and take it to the masses, but only on our terms. Im not at all interested in signing over the rights to our tracks to some corporate-entity and slaving away selling our souls via Ticketmaster night after night. Ive seen enough VH1 Behind the Music to know that what the music industry calls success is anything but. But if I could sit around day after day in a nice studio and create new and interesting sounds, yeah, Id do it full time.
Anthony: If by the distance you mean tour Japan at least once, then, yes, I intend to go the distance. If you mean do Dataclast full time and tour constantly, well, itd have to be financially viable, and considering Brian is a Linux programmer... And anyhow, Dataclast is a compositionally focused band, not performance, since only the vocals are actually performed by the band.
Ben: Influences... Why? Why? Why do ya do dis?
Anthony: Damaged by over a decade of listening to grind, coupled by my deep but relatively new interest in techno, it was pretty inevitable.
The bands that most inspire my work with Dataclast lately are Discordance Axis, Oval, kid606, Autechre, Gorguts, Origin, the Boredoms. Im inspired less directly by a lot of other stuff, especially anything that is subversive to established rules of genre. It might be old hat in the electronic music world, but you should see the reaction of metal heads to intentional glitches that sound like skipping CDs in the middle of a grind track. Its hilarious.
Ben: Dataclast got digital as fuck. Would you be so kind as to enlighten us about Digicore Far East and your ties?
Anthony: Basically, they e-mailed us, and we sent them a track. Im pretty happy with it.
Brian: Yeah, we get a lot of requests from people planning compilations who want our contributions. Often they never get released or are pretty minimal, but I was really impressed with how the Digicore comp turned out.
Ben: You guys got to play the final Discordance Axis show ever at CBGB. Any memories that stick out?
Anthony: Our set ran a bit too long, but the crowd seemed to be into it and a couple people who came from very far away (Virginia and Tennessee!) who wanted to see us arrived half way through our set, so Im glad we weren't done already. There was a bit of good-natured heckling that still makes me laugh but you really had to be there. Also, our good buddy Hagamoto from Minneapolis flew in for our show and sang with us live. Hes in Bodies Lay Broken and put out our first seven inch. He sold enough merch[andise] from his distro to pay for the trip, I think. We did a tiny tribute to D.A. in our set by sampling the same part of Akira that they opened their first seven inch with, and I said a few words about how much D.A. means to me. They are basically my favorite band of all time, and Id seen them maybe seven or eight times over the years and it was the hugest thrill to open for them. Highlight of Dataclast for me, no doubt. Being on a Slap-A-Ham record really tickled me pink to.
[D.A.] were incredible, and the last song they played was Ikaruga, and they nailed it, possibly the fastest Ive ever seen Dave play. What an amazing show.
Ben: What does the future have in store for Dataclast? Direction, recording, releases, etc.
Brian: We have a lot of recorded material that is in the hands of our various labels awaiting release, and another thirty songs or so that are not assigned to any release or are unfinished. We hope to get the backlog out and do some more split released with like-minded bands. Then well get down to working on the definitive Dataclast album, which will be much more detailed and involved than anything weve done to date.
Ben: Well, thats all I have. Thanks guys! Good luck in the future! Any parting shots?
Brian: Thanks for interviewing us. It's been fun.
Visit Dataclasts Web site at: http://www.overwhelmed.org/dataclast/
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