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brutal bastion
posted on 12-Mar-2000 by alan
interview with brutal bastion was conducted via e-mail; both band members answer questions related to brutal bastion, calear and their label - cdc.
1. Where, when, and how did this project emerge?
pHEAR: Raven and I go way back . . . 1986. At the time, we had a few mutual musical interests. I was just starting to assimilate equipment, so we'd get together to play now and then. Raven called it "The Void" and was a vocalist back then, so he'd scream over whatever I played. We were horrible. Two years later, we produced a tape together. It was a little better, but it was still horrible. Now that Raven's come of age on the boards, we're on the same page, musically. So, it was only fitting that we work on a project. The beauty about this project is that we never met in the studio. It was all done remotely. We sent each other MP3's of our parts and, since all the music was composed and recorded on our PCs, we'd add what we wanted to each others tracks and it all stayed digital.
 
Raven: As pHEAR said; we'd worked together before and I eventually started doing my own solo projects(PROXY,TX3, and Tragic Defiance). We'd always maintained a constant admiration for each others projects, and through my trials and tribulations trying to hone my craft.....pHEAR was my one and only true supporter....he'd shown me the inner workings of song writing and was on me to continue even though I wanted to through my equipment out the window. So, I'd been working in Calear and wanted to try something different that he and I could relate to and thus BRUTAL was born.
 
2. Why the name "Brutal Bastion" and how does it relate to your music?
Raven: Well, I came up with the name because I see a bastion as a safe haven and everyday we're exposed to the violence and brutality that is our society.......beyond that, we have all these issues regarding our families and our friends that just scare the shit out of us......therefor, we're never really safe.
 
3. How long have you been writing music, was it always in this direction?
pHEAR: I've been writing music since 1982. I was inspired by the early synth-pop scene, so I emulated bands like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Blancmange. I've experimented with different styles through the years, but this is my first venture into trance-ambient.
 
Raven: I started writing back when I was in my punk/goth phase '83-'84. I was in a few bands that never left our living room. Initially, it was Kraftwerk,Ultravox, and Tubeway Army that got me hooked with electronics and then I discovered Puppy,FLA,Clock DVA,Cabaret Voltaire and decided to make a go of it myself. It was all about breaking down the mainstream with experimenting with walls of sound. It took me a long time to realize that structure and theory made the pieces accessible to the public.
 
4. What inspires you to write? Is your inspiration more emotional, musical, or spiritual?
pHEAR: For me, composing pieces has always revolved around the relationship of scents and the visual imagery that couples with that. It sounds weird, but scent evokes memories of things past, which conjures up emotions from me, in one way or another. I like to set up incense or burn potpourri, clear my mind, close my eyes and just start playing the piano. When I come across chord progressions or melodies that seem to work with the scents and imagery of my thoughts, I write that down, then work out the rest. This project was very much like that. I almost felt out-of-body at times, which was a plus.
 
Raven: I always start with a sample that conjures up what I'm feeling at that time.....I'm usually in a bad mood or extremely depressed and I start writing a song.....by the time I'm finished I feel like I've exposed the scars and relieved the pain.....until they return.
 
5. What is the main theme of "the wrath?" What are some themes you have approached in the past?
pHEAR: My contribution to "the wrath" deals with me - the monster, and my inner-demons. I think, to a certain extent, most of all of what Raven and I deal with in our music projects has much to do with our mental problematic state, due to our family situations. My track "Playing God", for instance, translates the story of my family trying to mold me into something they wanted, disregarding what I wanted for myself. In turn, they created a monster which will inevitably destroy them.
 
Raven: The Wrath started out as a catalyst from where our disgust and symptomatic stresses could be exorcised. I delve into my own madness but also will, at times, attack political/social topics that are urgent issues in my mind.
 
6. What equipment and gear are you using currently?
pHEAR: I use Propellerhead's Rebirth RB-338 extensively for drum kits. I use a lot of old gear - old Ensoniq, Yamaha and Roland analog boards, along with a friends baby grand that I used to compose on. To weave all the ambient stuff on the Bastion project, I used Koblo's Stella9000 sampling software, the Unity DS-1, Macromedia's SoundEdit and Apple's Quicktime 4 Pro Authoring environment. I really tweaked every sample until they no longer sounded like anything distinguishable.
 
Raven: This entire album was done via our PCs so I used Fruity Pro,BBox,Rubber Duck,ASR-1,Acid and Sound Forge.....along with a Roland U20,XP10,Korg MonoPoly, Sequential Circuits Pro-One, Yamaha FB-01 plus ART,DOD,and Boss effects units.
 
7. You are both a part of what other projects?
pHEAR: I am the founding member of Cybertronik, a drum & bass/ambient electronic group. I'm also involved with producing other projects such as Roadkill and Missing in Action, as well as doing studio work for friends, playing drums, bass and keyboards when needed.
 
Raven: I'm currently working in Calear and am also in The Clause; a side project made up of members from Calear and Imperative Reaction. I will soon also be working with Terri Kennedy from Stone 588 on a project called Wire Junky and will also be reprising my old project Proxy with several friends helping out.
 
8. How is that material different from the Brutal Bastion material?
pHEAR:Cybertronik is very different from Bastion, although we've recently incorporated the style on a few of the tracks for our forthcoming release. For the most part, Cybertronik material consists of a house-based drum track, a fretless bass line, pianos and some of that scary ambient filler you're hearing in Bastion. Roadkill is a heavy rock vocal project that differs entirely. I like to mix it up.
 
Raven: Well, Calear is more along the harsh electro style whereas The Clause is a mixture of what Imperative and Calear sound like with a little more emphasis on the music sounding as angry as the vocals. Wire Junky will be more dance oriented revolving around the ethnic sounds of Dead Can Dance. Proxy is just all the left overs from all these bands that just didn't fit.
 
9. What musicians have you worked with in the past?
pHEAR: I was in an 80's rock band, Mirror Mirror, in the latter part of the decade. Since then, I have mostly worked alone, although I have done studio work playing keys and bass for many other bands, mostly rock oriented - The Fat Slags, Larry Shankman and a freestyle blues project with guitarist Jesse Estrada.
 
10. How is your label Coma-Dose Creations moving along? What can we expect to see coming out within the next year?
Raven: Well, Coma-Dose is a label that I've started just to get some exposure for some of these side projects that might not get heard because a lot of the bigger labels aren't interested in a band with only a few songs. And after a while we started hearing from other bands that just needed a break. So, we are just about to release a compilation entitled Aesthetics of Affliction with 16 tracks from 12 bands. Also available is the Decoy Project CD "Emotionally Uneventful". Coming in the next year will be EP CD's from both Westwerks and S.E.M;I. I'm also trying to get BETA and The Clause to release something soon. And Brutal Bastion will put out another album hopefully by this winter.
 
11. How did the label idea come about?
Raven: I'd been DJing since the mid eighties and been recording my shows and selling them to friends.....so, I put Coma-Dose Creations as the title and then when the bands I was in released tapes for sale we just kept the name as our record label. After many years of not getting any attention from record companies regarding our bands releases I just decided to start my own label. We're very small and very independent because I'd like to have a close relationship with the bands that we represent.
 
12. What other labels do you feel are presenting and supporting strong musicians in the industrial scene?
Raven: The labels I have dealt with in a very small manner have always seemed stand-offish....probably because they've never heard of Calear, but how are they to know what we have to offer if they don't give us a listen. I know this doesn't answer your question but I speak of my experience with the big boys. As far as bands that I like and what labels they're on.....I like Metropolis,Zoth Ammog,Gashed! and OFFBEAT.
 
13. How did you meet Imperative Reaction? In what way do they help you?
Raven: We (Calear) met Imperative through playing shows with them. Daev and Ted have been great friends and supporters of Calear. Daev has since become CDC's in-house mastering god.
 
15. What do you think makes up a strong industrial scene? What can we do to help make it stronger?
pHEAR: I don't feel that the industrial scene really exists anymore. It ended long ago, in my opinion.
 
Raven: I concur......the scene is about politics and mind-games. No-one cares about the bands anymore......unless you're huge. Club owners only care about the money and how many people they can get in to dance. I love to play shows but if the owners don't give a fuck about how you sound or are unable to show their support for said bands then what's the point.
 
17. Are any compilation appearances coming out soon within the next year? If so what tracks?
Raven: Brutal Bastion will be on the CDC comp. 2 tracks; Playing God and Forsaken.
 
18. What bands are you listening to currently?
pHEAR: I listen to a lot of different stuff: FLA, Plateau, Download, System 7, Kraftwelt, re-mix work by Charlie Clouser, DJ Lethal, Rhys Fulber and Junkie XL. I'm a big fan of remixes. I think it's an art.
 
Raven: Believe it or not, I'm more into non electronic bands like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, New Model Army, the Chameleons, Dead Can Dance and the Cocteau Twins.......although I still listen to Wumpscut,Haujobb,FrontLine and Numb.......oh, and lots of punk.........that's what I've grown up on.
 
19. What bands do you think are the innovators of industrial music?
pHEAR: I think Einsturzende Neubauten, DAF, and Test Dept were the innovators. After that, it became diluted and misunderstood. People were calling Skinny Puppy industrial, and it would piss them off. If they refused the tag, then I think they knew it was no longer alive.
 
Raven: Throbbing Gristle,Clock DVA,Cabaret Voltaire and I saw Test Dept. in '84 and those were what caught my attention.
 
20. Where do you think industrial music's sound is heading?
pHEAR: What's being called industrial now is heading more towards techno-dance roots. Until someone releases an album full of vacuum cleaners and bed springs being thrown against a wall, I don't see a resurgence of industrial music as it was intended to be.
 
21. What is the scene like in your area of California?
Raven: Occasionally there's a good show but the clubs out here have become disco's playing wumpscut.........that's why I enjoyed so much the punk movement...hence the name movement.....it went forward and it was about the bands that comprised the scene. If I could see a different band every night then I would go out more often.....I'll leave the dancing to the audience.
 
22. What is your live set like? How many people are involved on stage? Is there any particular mood or theme you try to convey to the audience?
pHEAR: Taking this show on the road is something we are working the details out on. We want to relay the message of the music as it was intended, with plenty of visual elements, so as not to bore the audience. Since we don't have vocals on this recording, the audience needs to be entertained in some way. Other than just performing on stage, we would like to incorporate visual media and have players acting out each scene, even treating the visual media as another performer. This requires a lot of planning and storyboarding, something that we are working the details out on.
 
23. What kind of equipment do you mainly use for your live set?
pHEAR: Ensoniq, Roland and Yamaha boards and racks connected via MIDI, a Macintosh G3 Powerbook running the RB-338 and Quicktime loops. Some pre-recorded ambient stuff runs from a Sony Mini-Disc deck.
 
Raven: Roland U20,XP10 boards and S550 Sampler, Korg MonoPoly, Sequential circuits Pro-One and a rack full of effects.
 
25. What other projects are in the works currently?
pHEAR: Cybertronik is in Exit Studios, currently working on "A Stranger Appears" due to be released sometime this spring.
 
Raven: Calear is currently working on their second album due by this fall.
 
26. Strongest new bands of 99/2000?
Neither of us has bought or seen anyone new but from what I have been affiliated with.....WESTWERKS, S.E.M;I and BETA.
 
27. Biggest disappointments of 99/2000?
Raven: pHEAR and I are in agreement with KMFDM, but he did not care for FLA's "Implode" but I actually liked that album. I was sorry to hear what happened with Mentallo and the new Haujobb also.
 
28. If there was one movie soundtrack you could rewrite, what would it be?
pHEAR: There are so many. The old slasher flicks, like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, suffered from weak soundtracks. This was mostly due to the fact that equipment was limited back then, and the only samplers available (like the EMU and Synclavier) were ultra expensive. Listen to what's going on in those movies and you'll hear a cymbal hit here, and a bottle being hit with a drumstick or something. It's really bad. I would add some really dark textures to specific scenes, and strong chord pads. Even a deep, single-note moog bass drone would add a sense of macabre ambience to it. Apocalypse Now is another movie that I thought could use a do-over.
 
Raven: I'd have to say Hellraiser, by far, my favorite series.
 
29. Are you guys fans of John Carpenter's work?
pHEAR: As a producer and musician, absolutely. Halloween is a classic. I used samples of it in "Hacksaw". His compositions in "H20" were stellar.
 
30. Anything to add?
pHEAR: I wanted to extend my thanks to you, for this opportunity to talk about our music, and for the exposure to others out there that might enjoy listening to it. For me, the values of this music are not monetary, simply artistic. To be able to make this music is an absolute gift. To be given a forum to talk about it, and explain it a little further than the record, is priceless. For more information, and to listen to Real Audio versions of the disc, please visit us on the web at http://cybertronik.webjump.com/bastion/.
 
Raven: My sentiments exactly! Thanx Al for the chance to explain the process of creating something that was more exciting and draining and cathartic than any of my other projects to date. Please check out the COMA-DOSE CREATIONS site regarding any other CDC releases @ http://members.tripod.com/orgillon/comadosecreations.htm

related links
brutal bastion home
brutal bastion "wrath" review

 
seven | article | interviews | .