[ there's no place like home ]
by Mark Teppo

Justin Broadrick wants answers, and his method of inquisition is hard, brutal, and relentless. The passion behind Godflesh, Techno Animal, and a countless other pseudonymns and one-off bands, Broadrick has been creating music for going on two decades that has one singular focus: distilling the human experience into a stark singuarlity. Whether it be through the apocalpytic thunder of Godflesh, the overdriven electronic stomp of Techno Animal, the minimalist exteremism of Final, or the furious jungle rhythms of Tech Level 2, Broadrick continues to brutalize our notions of genres and barriers.

During a break between tours in February of 2002, eP's Mark Teppo caught up with Broadrick at his home in England and discovered that music is both an agent of annhiliation and a catalyst for transformation. Regardless of the sonic fury of the music that he creates, Justin Broadrick is just a man, really, just a guy looking for illumination.

You're between tours right now.

Justin: Yeah, we just did some dates around Europe and we've got about three weeks off now. We're trying to figure out what we're going to do in the States. It's been really up and down actually; we've been going from one support option to another and none of them have really solidified. At the moment, we're definitely coming over in April and May, and the plan is that we're going to do sort of a package tour with someone about the same size. Then in May we're going to come back and headline and take along some bands that we like. Prior to this, at one point, we were almost going to do Ozzfest. I don't know what happened to that. It was on the plate, and then it wasn't.

That's a lot of nü-metal there [at Ozzfest]. A lot of those bands cite Godflesh as an influence on their sound. Do you think that audience [the nü-metal fan] is receptive to the Godflesh sound?

Justin: Considering the current and past climate in rock music, particularly the nü-metal thing, what we've been finding in Europe is that a lot of young kids now who are into this type of music are picking up on Godflesh. But, obviously, the whole nü-metal thing is something that I'm quite cynical about. [Laughs] That's one thing which I think is the most positive thing to come out of it: they can hear something that is somewhat real, that isn't formulaic like a lot of this nü-metal shit is. For me, I just want to expose the band to people without any sort of compromise. I just want them to hear the band. It's all about exposure, about people hearing our music.

[ justin broadrick ]

What I've found is that even though we've won new fans in Europe during the last tour (people who are Fear Factory fans and the like), there are still people who really hate this band. Quite seriously. Even a lot of kids who are into nü-metal. They are obviously into it and enjoy that formula and the whole rock and roll aspect of it. They don't get that from Godflesh. People still can't believe that it is all still so slow or that it is so repetitive. Honestly, I don't think we're ever going to hit that sort of audience. I don't think that three million Limp Bizkit fans are going to buy our record. I think there are going to be kids here who hear something in what we do, but I don't think a whole glut of people are going to be like, "Wow, this is the new thing -- the new nü-metal thing." [Laughs] I can't see it. I think we're still a bit too abstract for them.

In hindsight, having some months away from the record, I can see that Hymns is a bit more easily digestible than some of our previous records. That wasn't intentional; it just appears to have come out that way. People leveled this back at me when it first came out and I didn't see it, but I do see it now. I've had some time since recording the album. It's easier now for me to clearly see what the record is. It does sound a lot lighter than I thought it did at the time.

Do you think that it is the pace of the music which turns off these kids? It isn't 600bpm; it isn't in their face. Do you think they aren't ready for something that is more abstract?

Justin: I was using the Internet as a source after the tour to really see what people were saying about our playing. Especially on a non-fan level, particularly Fear Factory fans or Devin Townsend fans. If people didn't like it, they found it sort of anti-everything that they think rock and roll is. Particularly young kids. Because there is no show. What nü-metal is to me is sort of a circus, like what Kiss was in the 1970s. That's how I find it. It's all cabaret. What people find bizarre about Godflesh is that it is really sort of selfish actually. It's non-communicative. I'm not the sort of person who comes on stage and yells, "Yeah, we're going to kick your asses tonight," and all that shite. I don't communicate with people. We just make music. We come on stage and I don't say anything to anyone. And that alone made people really mad. I find it really bizarre. I can't believe that people would disown a band because I'm not telling them how much I'm going to kick their asses tonight.

Or how much you're going to be their friend.

Justin: Yeah, all that shit. "Are you feeling good tonight?" That just isn't part of our dialogue. Godflesh is really there to annihilate you. It can't be that rock and roll. When Godflesh was formed, it was really about dragging heavy metal into the gutter. It had nothing to do with the celebration of heavy metal or what had come before. I don't even come from a metal background. I meet people who are like, "Yeah, before this I was into Motley Crüe." I've never even heard Motley Crüe. None of this stuff means anything to me. I come purely from an old punk/post-punk background. For me, Godflesh is about perverting heavy metal, about taking it for our own selfish needs and perverting it and twisting it. It wasn't something that we came from, something that we recognized. I mean, '70s rock I recognize. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and even early Alice Cooper. Stuff I was brought up on.

[ godflesh - hymns ]
[ give a listen! ] "Deaf, Dumb,
and Blind" MP3

It's really weird when you become part of the circus and you're meant to play these sort of games. To me, Godflesh is the antithesis of that. I don't fully understand how these things work, and I think that is part of the pleasure of being Godflesh because you're always going to upset people. People hate this band. I come across it everywhere. People really fucking hate Godflesh. [Laughs]

You've said in the past that the early records were very anger-filled. Do you think this could be a reflection of that early state of Godflesh?

Justin: Yeah. Godflesh still is, really. I think the one mistake -- the only mistake -- we made with Hymns is that we've become...well, I really wanted to make a rock record, moreso than we've done in the past, acoustically and with real drums and such. But obviously to some extent it has become -- dare I say -- more normal than we've ever done in the past. And it's not something that I really wanted to be. The great thing about the early Godflesh albums is that they're so alienating and horrific that they really do drive people apart. I'm glad; I want to be in a band that people either love or hate. I don't want to be in a band that is sort of mediocre. It's just another part of the circus and it is not something that I ever wanted to be a part of. I do take some pleasure from the fact that people really fucking loathe us. [Laughs]

You're doing something right then.

Justin: It's too easy otherwise. We wouldn't be doing our jobs properly then. I've always maintained that Godflesh will never -- and we've never had any illusions otherwise -- be selling out stadiums. There's no careerist attitude like that. It's just to make good albums and to gain something from it. It's not ambitious in that sense [of filling stadiums]. It's just a matter of making one good album after another and even challenging our most avid sort of fan.

Does that propel you in the making of the record? "Okay, they hated the last album; I'm going to make them hate this record even more."

Justin: By the time we're making the record, it is just about making music. Nothing else even comes on board. Every Godflesh record is made entirely selfishly; it doesn't take into account anything else whatsoever. That sort of outside pressure is always something that I want to eliminate. Obviously, I'm always grateful that anyone buys our records, but it is not something that I can take on board, wondering what people want from the band. I find it really self-defeating as soon as you start considering people outside yourself.

[ godflesh - streetcleaner ]

Was the name of the latest record a reflection of a more introspective nature, of a more personal nature? Is your aggression turned more towards giving yourself some sort of fuel?

Justin: To some extent. It is maturing and growing up with yourself. Especially when you make records like we've made. You look at Streetcleaner which is, I think, still one of the most nihilistic albums ever made. You look at the frame of mind I had then -- I was fairly young when we made that record, 19 or so when we wrote most of that material -- and there is a pure nihilism in there. Totally anti-everything. I couldn't come to terms with anything. It was all a struggle, and I just wanted to lash out at every target I possibly could.

I've grown up a fair amount since that record and what I can tell is that, like everyone, I was just searching for some truth, some form of spirituality. Searching for some answer to that big fucking emptiness that is part of most people's lives. For me, it's a lot of soul-searching stuff, desperately trying to find something beyond the flesh, beyond just everyday life. The Soul. Energy. Everything. I'm still not coming up with any answers and there is that frustration of not coming up with any answers. [Laughs]

Does the sonic weight of Godflesh -- the louder, faster, deeper, filling the room kind of sound -- does it fill the void or, rather, make enough noise that the Void hears you?

Justin: I've always maintained that -- for a lot of people and particularly me -- music is just a catalyst. I really do find that it is some form of energy and I'm just trying to be very pure about it, to not think about anything and let the music just come out of your soul. You have to try not to force anything. Using the sort of sounds that we do -- the dirt and the filth of the sound -- is really intentional. The whole texture of Godflesh is premeditated and highly thought about and always has been since day one. I have always found Godflesh to be a very spiritual sort of thing. Particularly in a live situation -- because, obviously, it is all about volume again -- what I'm looking for is transcendence. Definitely. That's what I hope people get from it as well. But not in any dogmatic fashion. The whole context is free. That's the sort of energy I draw from music. It's the one medium that does transcend everything, and I can really feel like I can not be "me" anymore through music and really be outside the mere mortal human being that I am. Godflesh is definitely a way of escaping myself. Sometimes that is what I'm searching for: going beyond myself. [Laughs] Particularly myself.

But it is not just about escape; it's about trying to find more, knowing that there is more. Music of this sort of power -- this sort of abstraction -- is a weapon. It's a vehicle for all these sorts of energies.

[ godflesh - in all languages ]
[ give a listen! ] "Crush My Soul"
(ultramix) MP3

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