The rise of the CA-based Crunch Pod label still continues and the project C/A/T, lead by label-chief Ben Arp, is more fine proof. Globally based and presenting a music style related to rhythmically Powernoise, the Crunch Pod-artists have always more and something special to offer. Be it influences taken out of different other music styles or be it art, outfit or behavior, it all sums up to be one of the leading US-labels for this music genre. C/A/T isn’t an exception and with this interview we like to introduce this highly anticipated act and the label behind.
Chain D.L.K.: Ben, currently you seem to be busy as hell with a lot of gigs and also the release of a new C/A/T-EP. Tell us a bit about the current happenings, your trips, gigs and the reactions of the fans on “Point Of No Return”…
C/A/T: Currently I’ve been busy working on several remixes for various bands in the scene. Also, I’ve been remixing some of my own material, as the C/A/T EP “This Season Of Chaos” will feature “re-works” of many old C/A/T tracks. Beyond that, I’m taking a brief break from playing live shows until the beginning of 2008 so I can work on new C/A/T material and take a short rest. I went out across the U.S. to support “Point Of NoReturn” and it was a great experience. The audiences were energetic and the promoters I worked with were excellent and professional as well. I can’t ask for much more. The “Point Of No Return” material seems to be attracting a slightly new audience to the music as I’ve strayed somewhat from the previous sounds on the earlier albums.
Chain D.L.K.: While a lot of acts prefer to be anonymous as being pure studio-projects, you’re following a lot the pattern of Terrorfakt or Manufactura, to play live as often as you can. How important is it for you to interact with your audience? Which effect do live gigs have on the sales of merchandise and CD’s of C/A/T?
C/A/T: I think playing live is crucial to the support of an album. It reaches your audience in ways just putting out an album and hiding in the studio cannot achieve. Obviously, life and “day job” obligations make it difficult for some artists to go out on the road very often. I have a pretty lucky situation where I can be gone on a moment’s notice and not worry about losing my main employment. I also think, as far as C/A/T is concerned, adding vocals to the music has opened up a whole new dimension to the live performance. It allows me to engage with the audience more and put on more of a show.
Chain D.L.K.: What I’ve always find a bit difficult to look-through are your both female band members Malice and Kat. Please explain us their function and your personal relation to both. Does the track “Malice” draw a direct dedication to Malice?
C/A/T: I’ve been in a serious and committed relationship with Kat since 2001. She joined C/A/T as a live member in 2005 to help make the shows more exciting. And she also will help me with her opinions when I’m working in the studio. She actually helps more than she would probably admit it. Currently we have her playing drums on stage – which is something she had never done so it’s taking some getting used to for her, but she’s doing well. Malice and I parted ways back in June of 2007. In retrospect, I think it was a necessary move for both of us. I’m not entirely happy with the way it went down or the immediate aftermath – as I wasn’t in the best place emotionally at the time and I think it was more of a harsh split than it needed to be. The song “Malice” isn’t about her or named for her, it was a sketch I’d come up with prior to her joining the band in 2006 but didn’t make it onto an album until “Point Of No Return”. I wish her the best of luck with her new band, “Projekt Malice”, which I believe will be releasing an album in 2008.
Chain D.L.K.: The biggest surprise of “Point Of No Return” is the fact that you’ve decided to include vocals. How did you come to this idea and which themes you like to point out through them? Or do you see vocals only as being a human-sounding effect to your music?
C/A/T: Adding vocals was a necessary element to make “Point Of No Return” work as an album I think. The whole idea of the album is, more or less, about testing the limits and realizing decisions people make don’t necessarily take them where they thought they were going. And once they’ve gone past the ‘point of no return’ it’s too late to go back and do things differently. I’ll definitely be continuing on with vocals on the next C/A/Talbum and some of the tracks on the EP will feature vocal work as well.
Chain D.L.K.: “Point Of No Return” does feature a ‘hidden’ track at the last song position. Why this? Please include some background on this piece…
C/A/T: The track you’re asking about is “Smashed (Party Mix)” which is another variation on the track “Smashed” which is on our “ATF”-EP as well as the Endzeit Bunkertracks II compilation. I wanted to remix that song into a more energetic style for live performances and decided at the last minute to add it onto the album as a hidden track.
Chain D.L.K.: Speaking on the track “Shoot To Kill” how much does it help to get those voice-samples which fit extremely well and provide the whole message? Is this still an easy-going element, to find the right samples, although you’ve created lyrics for this track? How do you generally review this sampling kind of work?
C/A/T: In the case of “Shoot To Kill”, I built the song and lyrics around those samples. I’m relying less on using vocal samples to get the idea of a track across now that I’m writing lyrics. I find most samples by accident as I’ll just hear something on television or a movie that I think would augment a song I’m working on or something to maybe build a song around in the future.
Chain D.L.K.: No interview with Ben Arp without asking for the current situation with Crunch Pod Media. Since you’re the label chief, in which way and format will the international scene continue? While some prominent labels like Dependent have stopped all business activities, how much is the work of Crunch Pod in danger through the still growing illegal download portals? An essay, please – what must be changed?
C/A/T: Well, the illegal downloading isn’t going anywhere. Every time a site is shut down, even more pop up. I think adding high quality downloads on sites like Amazon.com and eMusic is a good start. I hear many people who do illegal download complain about low-quality audio in the tracks they are downloading. If people are willing to pay more to get better quality than that is a start. We have no plans to stop making CD’s any timeSoon as it’s still a viable format to get our music out there. However, we do get all of our releases also up on as many of the legal download sites as possible.
Chain D.L.K.: While we’re doing this interview, you’re releasing a new C/A/T-EP. Please tell us a bit about the content. Any other upcoming new releases for C/A/T in the works you would like to confirm here?
C/A/T: The new EP will be called “This Season Of Chaos” and will be released at the end of 2007. I’m still compiling the tracks, but there will be some new material, remixes of some older C/A/T material and some remixes of “Point Of No Return” tracks from other artists. I’ll also be debuting my new side project, 51X (pronounced ‘Six’), on the EP as I’ll be re-working older C/A/T tracks into a new style. 51X will debut on Crunch Pod in 2008 and will carry on the style of instrumental “Industrial / Noise” much like C/A/T was in the past. There will be a new C/A/T album in 2008 but I can’t release the details on that at the moment beyond saying it will be ready around June/July ’08 and will definitely be featuring vocals.
Chain D.L.K.: What else do you expect from the future, musically and for your private life? Any new Crunch Pod-releases in the works which you can already confirm here?
C/A/T: Well, as I said above, we’ll be doing the C/A/T EP in December 2007. The 51X debut should be ready around March or April of 2008. The C/A/T album should be ready by Summer of 2008. Manufactura will be releasing a new EP on Crunch Pod in late November 2007 and then an album to follow in 2008. Caustic and Cervello Elettronico are also both in the studio currently working on albums for release in ’08. We may also have some surprises in store as 2008 is the 10th Anniversary of Crunch Pod. Personally, I’ll be busy yet again as I plan to do many live dates to support the C/A/T and 51X releases.
Chain D.L.K.: Your final words to our readers to conclude this interview?
C/A/T: Thank you for your support of C/A/T and the other Crunch Pod bands. We have a lot in store for you in 2008. This is the end of the beginning!
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy T. Rapisardi]