Page 2

There's not been a whole lot written about the prehistory of Pitchshifter. How did the band come together - what was your musical start?

J.S.: Musically I'd say we all got together through punk. Crass, Dead Kennedys, Big Black, Subhumans, Rudimentary Peni… all that old kind of punk stuff that we all used to go and see. The bass player [Mark Clayden] is my brother, and I went to school with Johnny [Carter, guitarist] when I was thirteen. We started writin' tunes when we were thirteen. Not Pitchshifter. I think we were called Scurf or Tusk, or something stupid like that. But we used to have a drum machine, a guitar and a four-track, and we used to just write mad tunes. In the early days we were inspired by bands like Head Of David and The Swans and the like... coming out of punk into the weird, angry, total noise, kind of pre-industrial music. It gets called industrial but I don't know if it really is.

Everyone's talking how the new album is a giant leap ahead both sonically and musically for the band. But if you look back to Infotainment?, and even as far back as Densensitized, you can already see some of the beginnings of this progression. Did you know at that time that this was the direction Pitchshifter was heading in?

[ smile ]

J.S.: I think one of the things why we keep doing Pitchshifter, why it's so exciting, is 'cause we don't know. We didn't have some master plan that said, "On album number five it'll sound like this…" Every time we're just influenced by more and more things, and just what's around us, and that's what we put into the music. I think with a lot of bands it's a show. It's a show that a lot of people play. They don their stage personality or they go into the studio and they don their studio personality, and they do their thing. It's a real lifestyle.

We've spent as much time as we can trying to eliminate any pretension in Pitchshifter. We don't go onstage and go, "Yeah, hey, whassup? It's US!!" We just go onstage and do our thing and tell 'em to fuck off, you know? And with the music as well, it's just how it comes out. I don't think there's any choice. None of us are really talented musicians apart from Jim, the new guitarist, who's one of the most talented guitarists on earth... and I know a lot of guitarists. Ha! But that's what keeps it exciting for us--we don't know what's going to happen, we just go with it.

[ psi - promotes confidence ]

In the studio it's a total experiment. When you mix a Pitchshifter album, mixing this album, we had no idea if it was going to work or not. If you're doing a rock album, you can whip out your favorite AC/DC album, stick it on and go, "I want the production to sound like this. I like the kick drum, I like the guitar, blah blah..." When you're doing one of our albums there's forty-eight tracks for each song. If I push the track with the double-bass up it becomes more hip-hop, if I push the track with the guitar up it becomes more punk. It's infinite choices.

Structurally on the new album the focus of the songs is all these manic beats and crazy rhythms and samples. But it also seems like the backbone in a lot them is that hard driving old-school PSI bass line. How are the songs written? Which comes first, the electronic juggernaut or the plugged-in analog punk?

J.S.: Umm... It can be anything. Songs like "Civilised" I personally, which is the first time it's ever happened to me, had the entire song--every single note, every sample and every part--in my mind before we sat down behind the mixing desk. It's Johnny and I that write all the songs, and we sat down and did it, and it was just like, "I can't believe! Dreaming this song and it's real!" It can be anything. Sometimes I start with the drums, sometimes the bass line, a lot of times I've got the chorus. I know what I want to happen in the song, but it can be anything.

I don't think we could ever do any tunes that don't have that spider-like kind of bass that my brother plays. I think it's just this distorted fast bass that just sounds really good…

Oh yeah, it's really good, really distinctive. You hear it and immediately it's like, "Hey, I know that--that's Pitchshifter!"

[ jon and johnny - mastering the next step for psi world domination ]

J.S.: I don't think we could, I don't think we have any choice. Mark's kind of like the vibes man. If Johnny and I are writin' a tune together and he starts playing his bass and he can't find a bass line then we scrap the song 'cause it's not going to work out. All the songs that work really well, Mark just puts his bass on it and goes, "Yeah, I got it!"

In your Tour Diaries you've had your music described as "Soulless White Trash" and "Digital Punk Rock Faggot Noise Music." Personally, I always thought of it as "Music To Greet The Neighbors With."

J.S.: Ha ha ha!!

Have you come up with a suitable term for what you're doing? Is there even a point in trying to define your sound?

J.S.: Well, I think it's human nature for people to want to understand what something's like. You know, if you're trying a new food people say, "It's just like blah, blah, blah." It's just human nature. That's why people wear colors. Even alternative culture has its uniform. Everything has its uniform, you know? I dunno... it's just digital rock. It's just digital punk to me. The lyrics and the ethics are punk, all the bass lines are totally punk. But still, it will continually get put into industrial and metal categories, although I don't think it is either because my perception of industrial is not drum 'n' bass breaks with punk guitar lines. I don't think that is what industrial music is. Einstürzende Neubauten, stuff like Nine Inch Nails is more industrial than what we do, but I guess people don't want to start a new genre, they want to slide you into something.

[ mark clayden - aka spiderman ]

And we're really proud of this album. It's the only album I actually like.

<-Prev  1  2  3  4  5  Next->

[ profiles ]
[ cool by proxy ]
[ central scrutinizer ]
[ album reviews ]
[ there's no place like home ][ there's no place like home ][ there's no place like home ] [ live reviews ]
[ noise control ]
[ links ]
[ back issues ]