Longtime survivors of the questionably dead industrial scene, and one of the few I think that will never retreat. Telling us a little bit about his new lifestyle, the awesome new CD “Hexangel (Distopia/Utopia)”, and a bit about what makes this hardcore industrial juggernaut tick, this is yet another in-depth interview I loved doing. Enjoy!
Chain D.L.K.: How?s everything around your way, and how is the new lifestyle (no drugs, raw food, etc) treating you so far?
Velvet Acid Chist: I can’t sit still, I am a creative machine now, all I want to do is art and see the world. I have tons of energy, I work out all the time and it doesn?t even drain me a bit, it boosts me. I feel like a teenager but with more energy.
Chain D.L.K.: A lot of success has come around your way. “Pretty Toy” got up there with the likes of Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake on the dance charts (unheard of for an industrial artist), you?ve gotten to play with your idols Skinny Puppy, and the new CD is an artistic masterpiece. Is it becoming harder to gain that same sense of anger required for VAC?s work, or is it a license to go even farther?
Velvet Acid Chist: I don’t know, it all seems surreal right now. I just hope I am bringing good music to a dying scene that needs it badly. I hope I am creating a neat artistic escape for teenagers who are fed up with normal life… Playing with Skinny Puppy was like a dream… I talked to Ogre a bit afterwards, what a neat soul he has. I was so impressed, and so humbled at the same time. I don’t have this big huge rock star head. Yes I am extreme when it comes to some of my views, but I don?t pull the “I am a musician, I am better than you” bullshit. I think the new VAC is dark, just less chaotic, more expressive and to the point…
Chain D.L.K.: What made you decide to get back in touch and re-sign with your old European label, Dependant Records and what caused the split in the first place?
Velvet Acid Chist: Thorsten Stroht. That?s it, no other reason. He works there and does their promotions, and he is the best in the business, hands down. I want no one else but Thorsten…
Chain D.L.K.: What was the general mood going into the studio and writing this set of songs, given the drastic changes in your life and the mood surrounding those changes? What kind of moods did you have going in while playing and composing the songs, with the drugs gone?
Velvet Acid Chist: In the beginning, it was pure depression. I wrote about 3 songs before the changes and you can tell which they are… any time I write music all that comes out is down keyed, morbid things, I cannot write happy music, it just never happens. The energy to make it was inspired by my lifestyle and my discontent for the mainstream world around me.
Chain D.L.K.: The sound samples aren?t quite as easy to identify this time around, either, as they were before. What were some of the films sampled this time around, and why the more frequent use of samples?
Velvet Acid Chist: What? And ruin the fun? It?s a game… find the samples.
Chain D.L.K.: What do you feel a sample can do for a song when used properly?
Velvet Acid Chist: Samples, dialogue in something… and they also fill bridges quite well. They are meant to evoke an emotional response.
Chain D.L.K.: You are also one of the few groups with a hardcore enough fan base to make their own videos for your songs (many mentioned in the forum on the VAC site). Ever considering working side by side with any one of these fans for videos around the “Hexangel” songs? Have there been more than one version of a particular VAC video for the same song?
Velvet Acid Chist: There is no medium for it, it would be a waste of money. Sure the net works, but that is not mainstream enough, and I would want to do something almost X-rated in violence… no MTV for sure.
Chain D.L.K.: The drum sound much more organic this time around, as opposed to “Fun With Knives” or “Twisted Thought Generator” which used more bass sounds. Are the drums still generated by a drum machine or more so by a drum set now?
Velvet Acid Chist: I use a million sources for drums all the time and I change them all the time, I hate using the same sounds over and over…
Chain D.L.K.: Not to say you are becoming synthpop (which would be very far from the truth), but I also noticed a bit more of a synth presence on this CD. What brought that about and what edge do you say it’s given your music?
Velvet Acid Chist: I am into analog synths and I bought a bunch to make this record and I love the pure sound they have. I hate the VA (Vintage Analog) stuff. I love ’70es synths…
Chain D.L.K.: I heard rumors quite a while back that you were putting together a side project with both Individual Totem (love that group, but whatever happened to them?) and Kalte Farben (who have a new one coming out soon, I talked to the singer not too long ago). Was this actually true, and if so did it ever come to fruition?
Velvet Acid Chist: No this was just talk, but I would love to get all those guys together and work on something, maybe even invite Rudy Ratzinger (:Wumpscut:) into the mix. I’ve been e-mailing Ingo (Kalte Farben) again, so maybe something will happen…
Chain D.L.K.: You mentioned on the site how the artwork that accompanies each song on the CD lyric sheet tells a story about the song. For example, how does the picture of the impaled figure on the sheet for “Collapsed” coincide with the song? What will the people who download the CD miss out on without the artwork?
Velvet Acid Chist: Notice the crumbled walls in the back, its almost like an aftermath, with a preacher Goth puppet grinning. Yes it looks collapsed to me. The box is even cooler than the regular cd. The art is amazing… And buying a CD like “Hex Angel” is the cream of the crop as far as packaging goes, no one puts this kind of effort into art anymore… no one… So when you do see it, it’s worth every penny.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you do any of the artwork sketches yourself, such as when you do the rough sketches to give to the main artist?
Velvet Acid Chist: No, Shawn did everything…
Chain D.L.K.: This is a day and age saturated with many pop-laden, run of the mill Future Pop and Synthpop bands sounding like one another, that we know well. Have you caught flack so far for the hardness of the new CD or has everyone in the Future Pop/Synth Pop crowd been pretty open towards it?
Velvet Acid Chist: I have no idea, I am not in the scene to notice, but I think my new cd is hitting home with older people who don?t care for Future Pop… I won?t know for a long time what the end results of this CD will be, and who hates and likes it. I can only hope for the best…
Chain D.L.K.: What new equipment and recording tactics did you bring to the table this time around for “Hexangel”? Was much studio work required, or is the final result pretty close to what you were playing originally?
Velvet Acid Chist: I used British mixers which is a new thing, and a lot of outboard FX. Lots of ’70es synths and a lot of sampler based drum kits and samples… and yes a lot of studio work required. It took me a long time to set it all up and get it right. Months and months of tweaking. I use ’70es synths with no memories so I had to program my sounds for every song by scratch. Weee it was a fun though!
Chain D.L.K.: There is usually a list on each CD that tells your influences for each release. Was the decision to exclude that from this release a sign of wanting to abandon influence and do something completely unheard of?
Velvet Acid Chist: I just got tired of plugging other bands who never plug me… lol… and I think I am past the stage of showing respect to my idols at every turn.
Chain D.L.K.: I?m curious if EDT is still around and if it will ever make a comeback if it is defunct at the moment.
Velvet Acid Chist: It?s gone forever…
Chain D.L.K.: I liked those Quake Arena tournaments they had on there a few years ago, haha. Now there?s no one to play against anymore. 🙁
Velvet Acid Chist: Yeah, what a shame, but Unreal Tournament 2004 will have the VAC crew in full force!
Chain D.L.K.: With a lot of bands, such as Evil?s Toy/T.O.Y. or Silke Bischoff/18 Summers, whenever a change in lifestyle or music comes the name gets changed. With the drug connotation out of the music and your life, will the Velvet Acid Christ moniker change down the line or will it remain?
Velvet Acid Chist: Drugs have left their permanent mark on me, I didn?t abuse opiates, I used a lot of psychedelics. They stay with you and I still have that in my sound but its not as obvious at first, but after you listen a few times you will hear it. No, I am still the dark and twisted soul I have always been, but I am stronger, and more alive now… but I am not a hippy.
Chain D.L.K.: Any changes in your decision not to tour, especially given the recent success? Would you change your mind if the upcoming Frontline Assembly tour is really their last and you were offered a spot with them?
Velvet Acid Chist: Nope, I would turn it down. I will turn down any tour. I will play one offs in big cities, but I will never go on the road again.
Chain D.L.K.: I noticed as well a lot of the techno/trance element from before is pretty much gone. Have you used any of that same feeling or any of the rhythm patterns from techno for this new CD?
Velvet Acid Chist: A tiny bit, but its much more balanced with the Goth and industrial kid in me. I am sick of techno songs that are too long and get boring fast. I wanted to make songs with noticeable lyrics that stick and are rememberable.
Chain D.L.K.: How is the Mindflux project coming, by the way (I keep thinking Mindflux Funeral when I hear that name)?
Velvet Acid Chist: Canned. There is only VAC. I will only do VAC, forever and ever.
Chain D.L.K.: What would be good equipment for getting those hard bass beats such as the ones from “Fun With Knives” and which ones are good for that hard industrial sound (not the EBM beats, though)? Would there be any distortion involved with the latter?
Velvet Acid Chist: It?s all about over-driving signals and compression. You can use anything, almost, you just have to know what you are doing. Experiment a little.
Chain D.L.K.: Why the hatred towards Apoptygma Berserk and Ronan Harris of VNV Nation? Is it from the music or is it more of a personal thing?
Velvet Acid Chist: Lol. Because scene drama is fun, and someone needs to put those big headed rock star fuckers in their place. And yes, Ronan and Mark (VNV Nation) threatened to beat me up if I ever talked shit about them again, and made me feel like a foolish ass kisser at the Haujobb/VNV Nation show in Denver. So I just thought I would return the favor with a big “fuck you” of my own. You know, like, “go ahead, try and beat me up”. I’d love to see them try!
Chain D.L.K.: You were discovered in the beginning by Bill Leeb, and I am guessing are still good friends with him. Has he or Rhys contacted you to be involved in one of their side-projects, or have any of you collaborated?
Velvet Acid Chist: I gave CDs to Bill Leeb, Thorsten was on the “Hardwired” tour doing press for FLA. Bill gave the CDs to Thorsten without listening to them. Bill to this day hates VAC and thinks we suck shit, so who cares. That is the truth. I was never buddies with Bill, I still appreciate him giving the CDs to the Germans. I love his older music and hate his sell out shit.
Chain D.L.K.: When compared to how you composed music back on “Dimension 8” and how you compose songs/sound diagrams and ideas now, what would you say is different? Do you ever think that the songs on “Hexangel”? are the songs on “Dimension 8” evolved (in the sense that songs on each album build on one another)?
Velvet Acid Chist: Not really, it was a lot different in the old days, less gear, less sounds. So it was all crammed, and session after session, to where “HexAngel” was just hard work on all the songs until they were completed, ?Dimension 8″ was a song fest to write whatever even if it sucks…
Chain D.L.K.: Could we see any of the grindcore aspects of old come back on some of the remixes?
Velvet Acid Chist: YES!
Chain D.L.K.: And what are some of your remix plans, by the way?
Velvet Acid Chist: No remixes. I hate them. Waste of time. No one cares. It’s a waste of my efforts, I would rather do new songs.
Chain D.L.K.: I?ve been a hardcore VAC fan since “Church Of Acid” first came out, and I?ve had the same old shirt (the “Fun With Drugs” one) for over 4 ½ years or so, but it?s coming apart at the seams. Should I be a trooper and wear it out the rest of the way?
Velvet Acid Chist: Yes! I will have a lot more merchandise soon for you fans, more shirts and stuff.
Chain D.L.K.: So, what can we expect from the VAC juggernaut in the future?
Velvet Acid Chist: A singles collection/b-sides, a new CD in a year, and maybe some shows and merchandise?
Chain D.L.K.: Any good raw food recipes you?d like to share before we go (haha just pretend you have a show on Food Network minus Emiril Lugasie?s dorkiness), or any good jokes?
Velvet Acid Chist: I love making almond butter raw and spreading it on apple slices, with a tad of natural sea salt?Wee, yummy!
Chain D.L.K.: Thanks for the interview, always kickass music and for the sharp kick in the ass you always give industrial when it’s lagging like this. Good luck with the new lifestyle, and take care!
Velvet Acid Chist: Thank you for a good interview.
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by M. Pustianaz and Marc Urselli ]