Page 4

That's true for Pitchshifter as well. You were heavily influenced by the Dead Kennedys, and now have been lucky enough to have Jello Biafra sing vocals on a song on the new album.

Jon: Yeah, I told him, "Pitchshifter couldn't have existed without Dead Kennedys." "Police Truck," "Chemical Warfare" and all those tunes got me interested in music.

I'm curious about your opinion on the Dead Kennedys vs. Jello Biafra case.

Jon: Well, it's impossible to say unless you were there. Obviously they're going to say Jello did wrong, and Jello's going to say he didn't. It's impossible to say unless you've got the books or you were there to see what went on. It's kind of sad, though... But I don't think "Holiday in Cambodia" should be used for a fucking Levi's jeans commercial. Our stuff gets used for video games and all kinds of dumb shit, but if the fucking Meat Marketing Board came to Pitchshifter and said, "We want to use 'Genius' and we'll give you a million dollars," we'd be like, "No!"

I know Pitchshifter contributes to The Vegetarian Society, Greenpeace and what not. Have you been approached by similar organizations to contribute music to their cause?

[ 'third leg, fourth leg, everyone a hermaphrodite!' - photo courtesy pitchshifter ]
photo courtesy pitchshifter

"As Seen On TV" MP3

Jon: Oh yeah. We give tracks to Punk Saboteurs for their compilation CDs, who are against fox hunting. We give tracks to AK Press who do these CDs called Better Red Than Dead. AK Press are radical book publishers, they were the first people to publish Noam Chomsky in the U.K., they were the first people to publish The Anarchist's Cookbook and loads of stuff that gets banned because the government goes, "Oh, it's too scary. You can't have people knowing stuff like that, they might not go to work at 8:00am for a fucking dollar an hour!" You know? "We don't want people to be educated and know they're being ripped off..." So we give tracks to them and let them set up stalls at every gig.

And it does work. If I stand onstage at a sold-out 2,000 crowd venue and say, "Know what? I believe that black and white people should be treated equally because I read this book, which is out at that stall in the fucking hallway. Go take a look at it." Even if ten percent of the crowd check it out, it's worth it.

Do you ever get the urge to bring a piano back up onstage again and beat the shit out of it?

Jon: People still ask me about that! I love shit like that. I love creating nightmares. Ha ha ha! Yeah, I've thought about it, but as the band gets bigger there's more people out there that want to sue you...for one tiny chunk of piano flying out into the audience and into one guy's head. But that was a momentous occasion. It was funny, actually... It was one of those tiny gigs, like 450-500 people at the show. So we miked up this piano and smashed the shit out of it. It was "Solos with Sledgehammers." Ha ha ha! We bought the piano from some charity shop for $ wasn't even in tune.

We still throw out the propaganda flyers on the U.K. tours. We're just trying to involve people and make them fucking think. On the tour we did last year before Christmas, we'd throw out these flyers that said: "Only twelve shoplifting days left 'til Christmas." And you'd see people pick them up, look at them, and then smile mischievously. It was priceless! Just to get people to think. There are these religious nutters that stand outside and go, "Pitchshifter are evil. Do not go into their show." They hand out their own flyers and stuff.

Maybe you could get them to hand out your flyers as well.

Jon: Ha! I love shit like that. Like really bad reviews, I'll read them out onstage. "Blah blah blah...the singer wants to be the singer of Therapy? because he's got the same beard...blah blah blah...This album is completely unlistenable...blah blah blah." So we fucking read them out loud.

[ attention shoppers: only 12 shoplifting days left 'til christmas! - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

Yeah, recently the Village Voice referred to your sound as "Godflesh-lite." "Godflesh-lite?" C'mon... It's almost like the reviewer turned to one of his or her coworkers and asked, "What do Pitchshifter sound like?" "Uh...Godflesh-lite, I dunno. Haven't listened to any of their stuff for seven or eight years."

Jon: That's one of the bad things about having a band that's been going for so long: stigmatization. The band's sound has obviously evolved wildly since its inception, but there's always going to be fucking magazines that will have the heavy rock guy review it. And he's the same heavy rock guy that hated the last album. He won't even fucking listen to it. He'll just go, "Ahh...Pitchshifter are shit! They were once on Earache, they're obviously death metal then and the album's shit." And he'll do it for the next album, and the next album. And I'm like, "You know what? It can't be that shitty because there are thousands of people that come to our gigs and carve our names into their arms and bring us presents and what not. Just listen to the album!"

It's painful. It's just slack journalism. There must be a course where you can get a fucking BA with honors in Slack Journalism, because no one does any research.

I've been at a bar in England next to the reviewer of a concert and watched him get drunk and not do anything, and then go up and get the set list at the end of the gig. One of the magazines in the U.K. slagged off my friend's band, Iron Monkey--gave them a scathing review and used a photo from an old gig. The gig had been cancelled and they didn't even play.

What can you do? Writing about an album is like me... Just listen to the fucking album! That's why the Internet should be the key exponent of music, because the guy can slag you off in the review and then go, "Oh, and here's an MP3 of part of the song," so you can actually listen to it, decide for yourself, and go, "That reviewer talks horseshit! This is a good song!"

Pitchshifter have long been proponents of making samples of its music available for others to use however they like, without charge. You can download them off the website, and they've also been included on the last three albums. When the whole Napster fiasco began, you came out with an interesting perspective on the pros and cons of free downloads.

[ can you spot matt's psi tattoos? - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

Jon: I don't think you should be able to get music for free. Not in that [Napster] sense, at least. I work twelve hours a day, seven days a week on the band; I've given up other careers; I fucking sweat blood and do shit that no one else would do to make this work. If this were a proper job, everyone would have quit ages ago because no one in their right mind would ever agree to do any of this shit. After Ozzfest, we're going to fly overnight from Los Angeles to England, get off the plane and be driven to a TV show without any sleep or food. Anyone else would be, "Fuck that!" You know what I mean?

I don't believe I should not be paid for what I do. There seems to be this dirty opinion if you mention money with music. Fuck you, you know. You work eight hours in your office, then go home and download my entire album for free and don't buy it and pass it on to all of your friends. I'm thinking, "Why the fuck am I doing this?" I need to eat too, you know. I don't want to drive Rolls Royces or anything, I just want to wake up and know that I can afford rent, you know?

The question should be: How can you make Napster work for the bands? You should sell your album to Napster and they should give you an advance, or $1 for each person that downloads it from that page, or something. Cut out the entire corrupt, bullshit, fucking cocksucking music industry.

I find it interesting hearing the music industry's reaction to all this. Their position is: "Oh, you're robbing all these artists of money that is rightfully theirs."

Jon: That's bullshit.

It is. It is a total misrepresentation of the facts by the industry. No one is explaining to the average Joe on the street that the artists have already been mugged and raped by the music industry well before they log on to Napster.

Jon: Yeah, you know in any other industry the music industry would continually be in court in regards to that. But that setup seems to have gone on so long now that it is "okay." In England if I'm a landlord that draws up a contract that contravenes European law of what landlords are entitled to do, even though you've got a contract, it's worth nothing. You can't say, "I'll charge you £8 million a day and you have to pay for all this and blah blah blah," because there are laws that say everyone has a right to live in clean, healthy, environmental spaces for a certain amount of cost. But the music industry just seems to be able to do whatever the fuck it wants!

The music industry is a total stitch-up. I've been ripped off on every single album deal that we've done. Only if you're an artist that goes platinum and you're out of your contract can you get to dictate another deal. You're always gonna get ripped off. Even Prince. He changed his name, wrote "slave" on his face and all that shit.

[ ]

"Please Sir" MP3

That's the way it is. You're always going to get ripped off and you just have to accept that it's a part of making music. When that becomes difficult is when fools come up to you and fucking say, "It's your fault you cancelled the show! It's your fault you can't play in my country! Your CD's too expensive!" Fuck! If you realized the amount of shit I have to go through just to get to the fifteen steps below the bottom of the ladder, you would never, ever talk to anyone in a band like that again.

That reminds of a quote from our last interview: "If there was anything we had to change, I wouldn't go on. I wouldn't fucking do this anymore because it would be tainted. Ruin the thing I love and I'd leave it. And that's why I think we'll never be popular..." Do you wake up some days and ask yourself, "Why the fuck am I even doing this still?"

Jon: I enjoy playing live, I enjoy writing music and I enjoy the creativity that I'm afforded in Pitchshifter...doin' the albums covers and creating stuff. America has built this huge machine around what sells and what doesn't, what management company you should work with, what labels you should be on and all this stuff. And it's a crock of shit. Limp Bizkit buying radio play is the perfect example.

But you know what? I don't begrudge any band whatsofuckingever. Even the shit ones. Boy bands and those people...they know what they're getting into, and they deserve every piece of flak they get. But any band that sits down and writes their own music--even bands I don't particularly care for, like Live--I don't begrudge them anything because it's such a shitty fucking business.

Pitchshifter will never be big because we're not dumb enough. I know that's like saying, "Well, you didn't make the grade so you can pretend you're too intelligent to get big." People want stuff by Limp Bizkit. I don't want to fucking stand onstage and sing shit like that. If someone wants to do that, then fine. But for me, personally, I've always tried to involve the crowd more intelligently, be more articulate and explore new concepts. Anyone can stand onstage and say, "Guns and fucking pussy, man!" I don't think I could stand onstage and do what a lot of these lemons do.

It is annoying, and it would be great to be bigger. Not because I need to have a giant house like Bobby Brown and millions of platinum chains around my neck. It's just...uh... The band has to end. I'm pretty sure if this album doesn't sell well we'll probably get dropped by MCA; if the album does well we'll probably get picked up for another. But I can't see Pitchshifter doing more than one more album.

[ mark and matt onstage at cbgb - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

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