Chain D.L.K.: How is the new album coming and what is the general direction of it? Still keeping with the trusted electro-formula or variating on that a bit?
vM: I think that we’re moving MORE into theelectro-formula, in the sense that we are continuing toembrace different electronic-music genres, and not allowingourselves to be tied to just one.
mH: Yes, I’d agree that the new CD is even more tied into computer-generated sounds. We do still incorporate some sampled guitar and ‘found sounds’ to add variety, but the new CD is cleaner and more sequences starting and staying in the computer. Less "outboard midi" this time ’round. And the songwriting seems to be one a more "accessible" tip than the more experimental past releases [a ‘natural progression’ from Order+Joy I think]…
Chain D.L.K.: I read once where you were once a punkgroup. Does this ethic still play a part in the group?
vM: We’ve drawn much inspiration from Wire — andthey were, I suppose, the over-the top anti-punk, punkgroup… so that may be something.
mH: Yes, many from that style influence us morethan any new "Electro or Industrial" bands ofnow. We’re far more along the lines of Gang of Four, JoyDivision, The Lorries, or Wire but obviously done in an"electro" way…
Chain D.L.K.: What is your feelings about the coming of techno and synthpop and it’s impact on the industrial/electro scene? Do you think there will be a rebirth of industrial?
vM: Well, in a way, industrial grew out of a aggressive take on the ORIGINAL synthpop of the eighties… but when industrial was hijacked by the metal-scene on one side and the black-hair-dye set on the other, there was a natural inclination on many people’s part to return to a happier "pop" sound of synthpop. We’ll see a return to the aggressive EBM styling that marked the early 90s soon enough! Its all a pendulum. Techno is really a blanket-term like Rock or Jazz or Classical. Within the genre, you get so much variety. Rock covers the Beatles to Slayer… Jazz from Kenny G to Miles Davis, etc. So Techno covers everything electronic! Its natural that there is a cross-over of sounds and styles between the various sub-genres, of which I’d say real electro-industrial is one…
mH: Well put, I am into both kinds [Synth Pop orIndustrial] and I think our new stuff can have a cross overinto the more "Synth" sound as of late – wherewe definitely started out more on the"scary industrial" side of things…
Chain D.L.K.: By what you just stated it soundslike a move towards the ever-popular "FuturePop" movement. Would this be correct in saying?
mH: I’ll put it this way – to me all the Croc Shop albums sort go in a "natural progression" or timeline, and the new material isn’t so far ‘off’ from the previous releases. However, that being said, I do think that the kids who are first hearing music in this style and calling it "Future Pop" WILL enjoy this CD possibly more than previous Croc Shop CD’s. AND *that* being said, I think if a whole new slew of folks pick up on us because of "World" they would still be able to "get into" the older stuff. Unlike say a "metal" Ministry fan trying to listen to "With Sympathy" or something… the new material is more pop, and accessible than we’ve even done, but I think you can still tell it’s Croc Shop!
Chain D.L.K.: Is there such a thing in your mind as Future Pop?
vM: Nah… I think its just the same pop music played with new instruments. Eg. The ’80s New Wave scene only really took ’50s rock tunes and played them on synths. The ’00s are taking ’80s New Wave and playing it with newer synths and the legacy of techno/industrial behind them. If you want to call this Future Pop, so be it.
mH: THAT is a loaded question! Well, to me maybe there is such a thing – I guess if it sounds exactly like VNV Nation or Apoptygma Berserk, then it’s "future pop," which to me 1st started with Covenant… I don’t care for it much, myself. I like more electro, like 242 or early Ebb and I also like melodic dark music – like Peter Murphy used to make, or most Bowie… I even like the technofied Alternative ‘house’ sounds of something like Underworld or Prodigy – so all that stuff plays into my influences. Synthpop, also is "OK" in my book where there is actual pop-song structure and melodic singing [ala Depeche Mode] not like the inflated sounding "chanting/talking" over generic techno sounding loops – which is how I hear Apoptygma Berserk or VNV Nation. And as a side note, after having the very unpleasant experience of being on the same bill as Apoptygma Berzerk, I can also add that my opinion of them as decent people isn’t very favorable either!
Chain D.L.K.: How has September 11th and it’seffects on the world influenced the next CD?
vM: Not directly. Having been in NY on that day, Istill have difficulties looking downtown and not seeingwhat should be there. But musically, at least, there is noreal effect in that we are not following the down tempo, ormore melancholy trend that is happening with many otherbands.
mH: I think it has influenced a lot of my lyricsfor the album. But as Markus states, most of the new CD is"up tempo" – kind of New Order-ish in the waythat it *sounds* UP, but if you listen to the lyrics it hasa DARK side!
Chain D.L.K.: Any more plans for another Division 9or PROgrex.iv release in the future?
mH: I will most likely start on new D!V9 materialafter Croc Shop "World" sees release – inNovember; also the Hand of God project I am involved withhas started recorded new material.
vM: Its doubtful that there will be anotherPROgrex.iv release… but one should never say never.
Chain D.L.K.: For those of us like me who have yetto see a Croc Shop live show,please describe it for us.
vM: We like the idea of control and the ability tobombard the audience with sensory stimuli. As a result weutilize as much visual imagery as possible, with lightsand videos. It is possible to watch the video and listen tothe music, and have a real experience. But Mick is veryinteresting to watch as well. He has a powerful presenceon stage, but never overstated or silly, like so manyothers who seem as clowns posing dramatically forpictures and prancing about. Len and I are the musicians,although that is not to say that we just stand there. Wetry to engage the audience with our performance.
mH: Yeah, a sensory overload – we try to put on amulti-level spectacle!
Chain D.L.K.: What influences the choice of art for your CD covers?
vM: Whatever strikes our fancy at any time. Oftenthe covers have been quite "industrial" innature, in the use of violent, militaristic or abstractimagery. We obviously try to match the title and mood of thealbum with the cover art, but sometimes it is fun to trysomething different and unusual. I think the new album artfor the next release will surprise some people… that’sall I will say.
Chain D.L.K.: Was the song "Order andJoy" meant as a serious statement that "withoutorder there is no joy" or is it a sarcasticstatement?
mH: A bit of both, actually… I try to leave the lyrics fairly open ended, so that one can take what THEY want to from the song and less of whatever was going on in MY mind when I wrote them down… a lot of times I like other people’s interpretations of what is said more than my own [hehe]. I know what other bands songs say to ME… and that is more important than whatever THEY meant, so I try to "return the favor" and leave it up to the listener that way.
Chain D.L.K.: What are some of your greatestinspirations, and inspiration on the next CD?
mH: I still find myself listening to old-school style electro, or EBM, and earlier industrial or "alternative" much more than anything newer out there. 242, Clan of Xymox, Psychedelic Furs, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, the Jam, Bowie -that’s mostly what I like to hear. Also, some really off the wall "rock" type stuff like ELO, Chicago, Kiss. And other "dance" music in general; Dirty Vegas, Rick Astley, Jimmy Sommerville, a lot of "DJ" comps where the beat just goes on and on…
vM: I draw inspiration from what I’m listening to,in order to write what I need to write. So if I hearclassical, I get inspired to write classical. Jazzinspires me write jazz. The same goes for electro. Byputting something together from everything that inspires usthat makes things interesting, or often a real mess. Mygreatest *musical* inspiration was Pyramid Jazz by theModern Jazz Quartet. This was the first album I owned,gotten as a gift when I was 5. I think it made me *listen*to music rather than just hear it.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you see CS becoming a staple inthe club scene with the rise of electro in the clubscene?
vM: By the club scene, I assume you mean thecommercial clubs. It would be very nice. I think we wouldfit in nicely between the new Elvis vs. JXL and the latestKylie Minogue.
mH: Sure, we have the 4-on the floor beat that youneed for that – yes
Chain D.L.K.: What bands would you recommendnowadays?
vM: Definitely ‘Dom and Roland’ for ultra-hardDrum-N-Bass. I quite like the new ‘Deepsky" album"In Silico"… its like the combinationof techno with some electro influences. There are so manyDJ mixes out now, that its hard to say a "band".But DJ-wise, I suggest Dave Seaman and Nick Warren. Also,everyone should check out the new Bowie: heathen. Quitean interesting listen, even though it is part of thatmelancholy sound I mentioned earlier.
mH: Dubok have a great CD out called "Technicolor"
Chain D.L.K.: Is CS still based in Berlin?
mH: vM in NYC-Area, me by NJ Shore and Len in Toronto, now.
Chain D.L.K.: How does/did Berlin affect yourmusic? What places would you recommend there?
vM: Berlin is such an amazing place. Having beenan island of freedom in the middle of totalitarianism, itenjoys a certain liberty that can’t be found anywhereelse. I recommend just walking the streets to see whatadventures await behind the next corner.
Chain D.L.K.: Any plans to re-release Measure ByMeasure and Technological Optimism?
vM: It would be interesting to do so. The"lost masters", so to speak. Maybe with a DVD ofold concert footage, too?? Is anyone interested??
mH: Yeah we’d like to do a sort of ”best-of ”collection, maybe after "World".
Chain D.L.K.: Any words of advice and/orpredictions for us out there?
vM: Advice: Whatever you do now will look stupidto you in twenty years, so make sure its not permanent. =)Prediction: The stock market will begin to rise sometimein the future!
mH: My "advice" is to fight the good fight – stand up for everyone’s rights – celebrate diversity and eliminate comments, jokes or remarks that are racist, homophobic or sexist from you own language and we will ALL win out in the end. It is much to "fragile" a world out there nowadays to actively support ANY negative thought. Because while we are all encouraged to "think for ourselves" bad thoughts often support bad actions. THINK before you HATE! I honestly believe that Sept 11th’s ATTACK *should* be the BIGGEST wake-up call to people who still think that aggression and violence is somehow an appropriate way to deal with people who are different from you in some way. The idiot’s who flew those planes had only HATE on their minds, that is for sure – and even the most backward thinking bigot should be able to see how wrong the natural result of that act [which originated as a thought] turned out to be; with such a diverse group of human beings eliminated from the earth for no fault of their own! THINK, and end the HATE !
www.crocshop.com [interviewed by Shaun Hamilton]