The North Carolina Electro/Industrial scene recently grows and receives international exposure thanks to the signing of Crowdkontrol to the Arkansas-based label BLC Productions. Crowdkontrol have recently released their new album “The War On Error” and the reactions are quite amazing so far. This interview with band leader Graham Mars looks behind the curtain and offers more details on the band and its ideology…
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Graham, your musically activities with Crowdkontrol and your several projects aside of it are a bit difficult to look-through. Please fill in all relevant information out of your bio about you, the current CK band members and your variousside-projects.
Crowdkontrol: For Crowdkontrol, my main project, I am do all of writing and production of music, along with all the lyrics and take care of live vocals and some percussion. Leslie and Temper help out with vocals in a few of the tracks like “Sunburn” and “Artificial Heart” off of the current release of “The War On Error”. Matt Horton has joined up recently after mixing and mastering “The War On Error” and will most contribute a good deal to the next release. So live I am on vocals and percussions, Matt is on keys, Temper on drums and Leslie on vocals. I also do live keys and some writing for Terrorcouple which just performed at Eccentrik Music Festival in Raleigh NC. I have a hand full of other projects that are still in production and hope to release a few of them on Sonic Prison Records next year. I have been knocking around with sounds and loops since the 80’s but didn’t take itseriously until 2004 when I started Crowdkontrol. I joined up with some local bands to get some experience, most broke up over the last two years, but I gained some great experience. At the same time I joined up with Terrorcouple to help with live synths and sound, and eventually became a permanent member, writing some of the material off of the first TC release.
Chain D.L.K.: With the beginning of 2007 you’ve already released a CK full-length album entitled “Burn Your God V.2” out on Sonic Prison Records. Why now the signing with BLC, would you like to tell us the background behind this?
Crowdkontrol: “BYG V.2” was essentially an independent release. Leslie and I (both from Crowdkontrol) own Sonic Prison Records and wanted to have a safe place to release new material for us and other regional Industrial bands that needed a home. “BYG” was all of my ideas up to that point and I felt that even though we had limited resources in the production of that album, it was important to get it done and move on to the next. It’s all a learning experience and the more I write and produce, the better Crowdkontrol gets. So it’s important to me that Crowdkontrol keeps putting out new material and performing live to get the message out. After listening to the feedback on “BYG V.2”, I wanted to make sure that “The War On Error” stepped up in the quality consistency of production, so I worked with PostPro studios who have an affection for all things Industrial and really stepped up in quality. The message is clearer and the ideas come across better. I am really happy with “The War On Error” and was pleasantly surprised when BLC showed interested. I was not shopping it around and didn’t expect to sign to anyone other than Sonic Prison Records until the third release. But I already knew a bit about BLC and heard great things about them so Isigned up immediately.
Chain D.L.K.: The art of “The War On Error” shows a fragment of the Earth in a target. Please explain us your intentions and message behind it.
Crowdkontrol: The title is an obvious play on the War On Terror and the album was dealing with a lot of world issues. And while I consider myself to be an extreme moderate politically, I am very disappointed with the Bush Administration and many of the songs reflect that. I was also at a point where many religious groups across the world were rearing their ugly head and those two things really make a mild mannered person like myself get pissed off. The target is on Iraq as it seems all the world’s attention is on Iraq these last few years.
Chain D.L.K.: The track “Sunburn” sounds a bit like a fictional punishment with a religious background. Some insight about the meaning of this track, please. Religion generally seems to have a thematic impact on you, why?
Crowdkontrol: The song was inspired by actually by my wife and CK drummer (Temper). We were sitting on the couch watching the news and coincidentally there were about 3 horrible news reports dealing with rape and religious persecution upon women. Temper turned to me and said “Some people just need to be shot into space!”. We obviously could not do that, but we can write a song about it. So “Sunburn” is dealing with that and is one of several songs over the last two releases that deal with the darker side of organized religion.
Chain D.L.K.: Your tracks, and especially the straight-forward oriented pieces like “Old Machine” or “Artificial Heart” offer different layers mainly consisting out of percussion instruments. Please explain us a bit your “percussive” dedication behind this. How do you perform this rather hammering tracks live on stage?
Crowdkontrol: Our live show is changing constantly, but percussions are a very important key to Crowdkontrol’s live show. I really believe that all Industrial acts should have some one on stage banging on something. We have Temper on drums full time and I take on some additional percussions along with Matt depending on the song forming an industrial drums circle. We will be incorporating more acoustic drums in as time goes by, especially by our third CK release.
Chain D.L.K.: Regarding some live performances, it seems that they are very important for you, while the live band members seem to differ a lot from the studio crew. How does a CK gig look? How is it about the plans to storm over Germany at WGT 2K8?
Crowdkontrol: Live in the past has included about 4 of us on stage with massive amounts of equipment and confusion 🙂 With Matt Horton’s help, we have streamlined the live show immensely equipment wise, which gives us a better sound and more time to play and jump around. So now there really are 3 of us minimum (Me, Temper, Matt H.), but depending on the venue and schedules, Leslie will join in for vocals on songs that she appears on. We are not DJs so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to play everything possible and be as entertaining as possible. An Industrial show should be entertaining, that’s why I loved it as a kid. There should be lighting, video, crazy outfits, energy and things to bang on. That’s what it’s all about. If we end up playing WGT 2k8 or any other shows in Europe or on the West Coast of the US, we will may strip the show down a bit as far as equipment, but we are streamlining so much now that we may not have to sacrifice too much. We hope to get the entire crew over to Europe at some point. The great thing about CK is that we are all so easy going, no personal issues, no hang ups and a total dedication to putting on a good show, we are truly a lucky bunch of rivetheads. So if a big opportunity comes up, then we will do whatever we need to take advantage of it.
Chain D.L.K.: Lets talk on the technical side of producing music generally. Which kind of synthesizers do you prefer, hard- or software-based? Where do you see the pro’s and con’s on both kinds?
Crowdkontrol: I use a lot of soft synths to start songs (Reason, Rapture, FM8, FM7, Zebra2…). The end result of a song will have both hardware and software. But I like the idea of being able to compose anywhere and take my laptop and sound controller where ever I travel. However, live is different. I have been burned live running everything off of a laptop so I have moved over using a Muse Receptor live which runs VST plug ins on a hardware based system. Hardware vs. software in general? Well, the big argument is about sound quality and that computers can’t process as rich a sound. You get what you pay for and if I can find a good soft synth that gives me what I want, then I am happy. The real fact is that a good soft synth costs less than a good piece of hardware. So I use both live. I have a receptor for all my software synths, and a Korg MS2k for some great modulated live sound.
Chain D.L.K.: Your daily life besides being a musician. Please fill in details, relations, hobbies, and further interests?
Crowdkontrol: Temper and I own a computer consultant company, so my daily life and night life is filled with technology and Temper. Having our own business allows us the freedom to travel when needed and resources to get things done, but it also means that I have dueling responsibilities that conflict from time to time. Other than music and work, my time is spent with my family and getting ready for twins that are on the way. Needless to say Temper is going to be out of her drumming duties for a bit 🙂
Chain D.L.K.: Please let us know about your upcoming plans, some new releases you like to confirm here?
Crowdkontrol: I have finished demos for the third release and am turning them over to Matt H. right now. So that will be ready for 2008, but we want to give “The War On Error” the attention and support it needs to be a success for BLC and CK. We are scheduling a set of shows early 2008 right now and should have more details shortly. We are also working on some videos for “Sunburn” and “Conversation” off of “The War On Error” to be ready by 2008.
Chain D.L.K.: Some final words to our readers to conclude this interview?
Crowdkontrol: Thanks so much for this opportunity and please come out and see us when we come near you. Thanks to BLC and everyone who has supported us since the start. You can visit us at www.crowdkontrol.com and www.myspace.com/crowdkontrol
Visit Crowdkontrol on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy T. Rapisardi]