Hailing out of the deep forests of Sweden, the one-man act Terror Punk Syndicate has recently earned some euphoric reactions of both, press and audience, with his debut release “Extended Playtime” (Progress Productions). Behind this project hides John David Karlgren and his music offers a wild mixture out of classic Electro/Industrial themes with the programming skills of the Canadian giants Front Line Assembly and the good old Wax-Trax-sound out of the mid-90ies provided by Revolting Cocks, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult or KMFDM. No wonder that for several listeners some reminiscences of the better days are re-animated and reason enough for us to take a look behind the curtain of this act…
Chain D.L.K.: Greetings John, first some words to you. Could you please fill in any biographical details of your music project Terror Punk Syndicate? It seems that you sort out any further band members by beating them. 😛
Terror Punk Syndicate: Yes, I’ve punched all the previous band members in the face so I don’t think anyone will be working with me again in the future! Nah, that’s not true. We are actually three guys now, sort of. It’s me, and two live members on guitar and keyboard. Only we haven’t played live yet so perhaps I shouldn’t announce it just yet. But me and the guitarist did practice once and it sounded GREAT. We practiced to “Horizon” and “Here To Take You Down” and it sounded totally amazing with the extra live guitar. Other than that, Terror Punk Syndicate is just me. It’s my solo studio project and it has existed since summer 2002. It began as a duo consisting of me and a lyricist friend who also did the vocals, but just as you explained we split after we got into a fight with each other. But TPS grew to be much better and more aggressive after this, as I moved on to a more Rock-influencedsound and had lots of new energy and motivation in me.
Chain D.L.K.: I seriously have searched some topics in a prominent forum to pick up some rants two or three years before. It was about a really depressive mood of you complaining the poor attention Terror Punk Syndicate had received in those days and the thoughts to end all music activities. I guess it has changed a lot with the signing to Torny and Progress Productions. How did this happen?
Terror Punk Syndicate: Hmm… I don’t remember this! I may have complained about a thing or two but I don’t think I’ve ever threatened to stop making music. Where did you find that? But yeah, things where looking pretty grim for a while and I didn’t know if I was ever gonna release a record. But this was mostly because I was unable to finish anything because of my perfectionists issues. I’m almost handicapped by it sometimes and I get into a veryweird and frustrating mood which is very hard to snap out of. I’ve had this problem ever since I was a teenager, I think. But at the same time I never wanna give up either. That would be to surrender. When I got in touch with Progress Productions I did feel that things were moving closer to a possible release, and I worked my ass off for another year to really polish all the tracks and make sure it was as good as I could make it. Today I don’t feel as much pressure on myself anymore, now that the album is finally released. I can sit back and relax and I get the feeling that it was worth the energy and frustration I had to deal with.
Chain D.L.K.: More and more people are arguing with the quality of current music productions and like to point out that the music itself was better 10 to 15 years before. You seem to be a relict out of the earlier days, since Terror Punk Syndicate’s style is obviously influenced by FLA, KMFDM and the US-Coldwave scene generally. An essay on your point of view, please. No interest to produce Hellectro? 😀
Terror Punk Syndicate: Well, it’s just that there’s nothing in Hellectro that I can relate to. I mean, old-school EBM and Techno is what I grew up with. My brother was in a band and had a small MIDI-studio in our parents house, and showed me how to operate a synthesizer. I was into computers at a very early age, and I’m really nerdy about those things. I’ve never been much of a club-goer either. I was always more into sitting at my computer, writingprograms and calling BBS’s while listening to electronic music in headphones. My idea of “cool” was computers, hacking, Cyberpunk movies and role-play games. I have a deep passion for music, and I want to dig deep into the things that interest me. Hellectro and new-school EBM just feels very superficial to me. There’s not much thought behind it… nothing that interests me. It feels like mindless dance music for people who dress uplike vampires, which is like the entire opposite of how I am as a person. So even though you might think there’s a radical decision behind the music I make, there really isn’t. This style I got just comes naturally to me because it’s the music I like and grew up with, and it’s what I wanna listen to and compose myself. Although I admit I would prefer to hear more old-school stuff rather than the latest Vanguard presets set to a distorted909 sample.
Chain D.L.K.: Speaking of the lyrics of your new CD “Extended Playtime”, I’m wondering why I couldn’t find a “parental advisory” sticker on it. Which mood is required to create stuff like “Here To Take You Down” for instance?
Terror Punk Syndicate: “Here To Take You Down” is about being hateful towards a person, and it was inspired by someone I met once. Like all the stuff I wrote, it can be about any person really, and not just this particular individual. But this person was being a complete asshole for absolutely no reason and I felt insulted. I may be a bit oversensitive sometimes, but what happened was completely uncalled for. So when I got home that night I came up withsome sentences which eventually became the lyrics for the song. So in this case I guess being in an angry mood was required. I usually need to find myself in a certain mood to be able to write the music I do. If I try to force something it just ends up sounding like crap. It’s usually anger and the feeling of wanting revenge that fuels myinspiration. I don’t know why, but there’s something creative to be found in that. I get the feeling of wanting to get back at someone or some people, and parts of that go into my lyrics. I think this shows in tracks like “Here To Take You Down”, “Respect”, “Dark Is The Psyche Of Man”, etc., etc. The lyrics of “Here To Take You Down” are also applicable on the current state of the electronic music scene, especially the “Industrial” one. Ifeel it’s in a very stagnant state with too much Hellectro and shit, so the lyrics can be interpreted as a comment on this.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve slated the sentence “P.K. was a cool guy and we miss you a lot” andthere’s also a track available entitled “P.K.”. Is there a connection? Please describe…
Terror Punk Syndicate: “P.K.” are the initials for the German serial killer Peter Kürten who were on a killing spree in the late 1920’s. He’s just a very fascinating character who I read about a lot and then I also saw the film “M” which was based on his life. Serial killer themes are great for Industrial music, and the “P.K.”-lyrics sort of tells his story from his own mind. It’s also one of the tracks we wrote when we were still a duo, and back then we were into Skinny Puppy a lot. I think this becomes very obvious when you hear it. If there’s any track on the album that sounds like Skinny Puppy, it’s “P.K.”. But the song could be about any serial killer really, and not just Peter Kürten. That’s why it’s cryptically called “P.K.” instead. It could mean anything.
Chain D.L.K.: Then comes “I Wish I Was Retarded” with its sarcastic lyrically content. Well, would to be retarded nowadays really help?
Terror Punk Syndicate: Oh yes, it must help a lot. I think being intelligent is not without suffering, and the more intelligent you are, the more you probably suffer. Especially in a world like today. When you discover that everyone around you are complete idiots and they don’t seem to understand a thing of what you’re doing or saying, you start thinking “why am I cursed?”. Life is tough for people who oppose the Mainstream. Every time you turn on the TV there’s always some reality show about top models, millionaires or celebrities who can’t even walk their own dog. And us, the “normal” people are like addicted to this crap. But what most people probably don’t realize is that the more you watch this stuff, the more stupid you become. But it’s not just in the media. I see clueless people around me everyday. We had a little discussion about needs in my class a couple of days ago. We were to select an object most necessary for survival. I was shocked at how many of my class mates actually selected their mobile phone as the number one object. I wanted to say something out loud, but I couldn’t find the words. I was thinking “what the hell is wrong with ME?”. I would have picked a food ration, warm clothes, a shelter, clean water, love from a person, anything. Anything but my telephone. So you know the old saying, “ignorance is bliss”. That’s what I wanted to express in “I Wish I Was Retarded”.
Chain D.L.K.: The humor gets maybe its strongest moments on “Animal Love”. I hope not to discover some autobiographical content behind this track?
Terror Punk Syndicate: You never know! No, it’s more like a continuation on the theme dealing with Peter Kürten. I guess you could say it’s “P.K.” part 2. Aside from killing people, he was also into killing animals while having sex with them. One of his favorite practices was to sodomize sheeps while cutting their throats. Call me weird, but I think that’s just hilarious and I wanted to use that in my music. I remember I had the funky slap-bass track ready and I also had the “uuh” and “ooh” samples – which I by the way sampled from a gay movie – but it was intended to be instrumental and I didn’t have any of the animal noises, I think. Then, when I wrote the lyrics and recorded them to the track, it just became the most bizarre and funniest song I’ve ever done. It’s my favorite track on the album, both musically and lyrically. It’s so totally weird and I love it.
Chain D.L.K.: How is it with live gigs, even if you’re a one-man-act? The new tracks should work well to animate the masses, so what do you expect? Any live musicians and touring plans you can already confirm?
Terror Punk Syndicate: Well, we did practice once and we’ve talked about playing live but we’ll have to see about that. I want to have a good and solid band before I get up on the stage. My biggest fear is to make an embarrassing performance, and there are already enough bands out there with a guy jumping around shouting in a microphone to a CD playback. I want to put on a good live show, and actually play the instruments live. But it’s difficult, andespecially when everything was created in the studio and nothing was ever intended or meant to be played live someday. But you never know…. maybe I’ll be standing on the stage someday, but I wouldn’t feel disappointed if it never happened. I’m a very reclusive person, and I would much rather prefer to hide in the darkness of my studio. Where I feel control, hehehe.
Chain D.L.K.: Your daily life besides being a musician. Please fill in details, relations, hobbies, and further interests?
Terror Punk Syndicate: I’m a full-time student so I go to school every Monday to Friday. When I’m not there, I usually occupy myself by reading or programming stuff on my computer. Right now I’m working on an online role-playing game which is becoming pretty cool. I got about 4-5 people helping me out on that project. I’m working out a lot at the gym several times a week and I’m doing some boxing. Other than that, there’s not much interesting going on in my life. I see my girlfriend a lot and we do different stuff together. I don’t have much friends so you could say I’m a lone wolf. But that’s okay. I’ve become used to it so I kind of like it that way now. I think if you met me in real life you would probably think I’m a big geek and not a violent terror punk! Except for when I beat up my band members, that is.
Chain D.L.K.: Please let us know about your upcoming plans, some new releases you like to confirm here?
Terror Punk Syndicate: Right now I’m sort of just relaxing and enjoying all the reviews and comments I’ve received, which makes me very happy of course. I haven’t seen a single negative comment actually. So I guess I must have made a pretty decent album! As for new releases, I did a remix for Cryo which will be on his new EP released on November, the 14th by Progress Productions. The remix is more or less like an entirely new song, so those who liked the album I did should get this EP as well. Not just for the remix but for all the tracks because Cryo is such a great band.
Chain D.L.K.: Some final words to our readers to conclude this interview?
Terror Punk Syndicate: Stay fit, don’t watch too much TV…. Be yourself. Question authority. Support your favorite bands, magazines and websites. And buy my album!
Visit Terror Punk Syndicate on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy T. Rapisardi]