Brewing melodic fire: an interview with MiXE1

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   The journey of electro rock pop band MiXE1 has been a striking and thrilling rise for it and its fans; from a solo project of founder Mike Evans to a full line-up with the addition of Lee Towson and Lee O’Brien, the band has brought a fresh and vibrant breath to the UK electro scene as confirmed by the excellent just released new EP Lights Out. With an album in the works and the new EP lighting up a hunger, it was time thanks to the members of MiXE1 to find out more about the band and its members. So pry we did…

Hi Guys and thanks for letting us explore the world behind MiXE1

Mike: “Our pleasure, Pete! Fire away :)”

Shall we start right at the beginning…give us some background to yourselves before MiXE1.

Mike Evans: “Before MiXE1, I was the guitarist in an alternative metal band called Broken Butterfly X. I’d been involved in a bunch of bands and projects before (most of those with Lee T), none of them actually got to the gigging stage apart from BBX though. We got a stash of recordings from those projects somewhere (a lot too embarrassing for public consumption)! But yeah BBX was my last band; I basically wrote the music and contributed some vocal melodies.”

Lee Towson: “I’ve actually known Mike since pre-school and we’ve been writing music in some form or another for the best part of about 12-13 years now. We started off, I think, just as secondary school was coming to an end; so we were about 15 or 16 years old and we’d regularly meet whenever we could (including class time) to write and record together.

This continued into College and through University and gradually expanded to include more outside musicians. Up until this point, while we were putting together music that was coming from a serious place, most of our lyrical output was built up around all these incredibly personal jokes or references to specific situations we’d experienced, particularly during school, and it just didn’t make sense to include anybody else. A lot of my most favourite songs of ours are completely nonsensical in subject matter and often spiralled into some of the craziest stuff you could imagine; maybe one day we’ll get the bright idea to release some of it somehow (and then promptly regret it!).”

Lee O’Brien: “Self-taught drummer. Practice!? What’s that? Just don’t have enough time! Played in a few bands over the years… My last band Load went through numerous line-up changes. We managed to record an album which had a few tracks featured on Classic Rock (Track of the day) and some cover mount CD’s for their monthly magazine. In the end we split due to lack of commitment and enthusiasm.”

What sparked and inspired not only the project but your experimentation with electronics and songwriting?

Mike: “Songwriting in general – I can’t even recall how it started! A love of music, a desire to create :) What inspired the project was wanting to try a different sort of music. In terms of how MiXE1 started…Well a few years ago I was in BBX which was alt-metal. The vibe in general was heavy and some darker vibes, influenced by bands like KoRn…Dir en Grey. It had come out exactly how I planned it but I wanted to try some electronics and the big factor for me – the lyrics were quite dark, melancholy, angry – which worked and sounded great in the songs. With my changing life views and stuff, I wanted to try something more uplifting though…More positive and with a hint of romance. So I fired up Sonar and wrote the first MiXE1 song :) And from there MiXE1 has just grown and grown. I feel the songwriting is only getting stronger. Fast forward to now, we’ve got the Lee’s adding their guitar and drum input to the songs. It’s always exciting to see how a song will evolve.”

Lee T: “It just felt like a natural progression really. Though I’m actually a bass player by nature, playing guitar for MiXE1 felt like a comfortable shift due to the amount of music we’ve written together before; the familiarity in the recording environment was a big deciding factor, I think. To be honest, I’m fully aware of my lack of guitar playing knowledge and if it were any other band asking me to take up the same role for them I’d probably have refused! As for the electronic side, we had tried our hand at a fair amount of synth driven rock in the past so slotting into this project was easy enough and I do feel like I can use my more rhythmic, bass-playing tendencies to my advantage in a genre that generally demands these driving low-end parts. That said though, as we push on with recording beyond the EP, we’re adding a lot more lead guitar parts too – which is really pushing my boundaries and has been a pretty fun challenge so far!”

Lee O: “I love to keep busy with music especially writing. I’m a drummer so not very musical. I didn’t want to rely on people to come up with stuff for me to add my drum parts… end up sitting round waiting for ages (although I can’t say that for MiXE1 as we always seem to have something on the go). I decided to have my own little project MiNiMAL FiLTh. It’s all electronic, samples and stuff. I got great enjoyment out of this and it helped with my song writing skills.”

What were/are the strongest inspirations to your creativity either musically or personally? mixe1

Lee O: “For me I’m really inspired (for this type of music) by Linkin Park, Pendulum, Prodigy, Leftfield, Celldweller and Rammstein. It’s their samples, synth sounds, vocals and song writing ability that makes me want to bop :)”

Lee T: “I guess my very first influence was my parent’s record collection! I grew up listening to bands like The Damned, UK Subs, The Clash and a hundred other bands across the punk spectrum; add to that a healthy dose of reggae, new wave, Sabbath and Zeppelin and that was more or less my start in life. I still remember thinking I was the coolest kid in primary school singing Guns n Roses songs in the playground! These days my inspirations come from a wider variety of media; films, books and life experience, the people around me and of course music is always there. The palette is ever changing really! It’s a lot more fun that way, I find. Over a bunch of genres across the board, 2013 so far has been amazing for music in particular for me.”

Mike: “I’m inspired by life, my wife, my family and friends all sorts :) My wife in particular and things we’ve gone through has been a bit inspiration for the songs. In terms of other bands, too many to say really – a lot of music inspires and sometimes influences come from unexpected places!”

The band initially was a solo project for yourself Mike, was this always the intention or even early on were you looking at expanding the band, as you have since of course.

Mike: “At the time of starting the project, I thought it was always going to be a solo thing! I had no real intention of it becoming a band or even playing live – I was quite attracted to doing my own thing and not having any of the creative concessions you can find in bands. But this really was fuelled by wanting to go in a more electronic and lyrically positive direction than the main band I was in at that time. Since setting the foundation of what MiXE1 is, what it’s about and particularly with these guys – that’s not a problem at all. Everyone’s really open about the music and how it comes out.

How we became a full band… Essentially I was looking for some live band members to play a gig or two. The Lee’s joined the mix and I encouraged them to put their own spin on the songs, add their own stuff to their parts and not just to follow the recordings to a tee. We actually played some album songs in rehearsal and what they were adding was really cool and most importantly really fitting to the songs. I remember thinking that I’d love to have this stuff on the actual recordings! From there, it just made sense and felt right to become a band. We’re fortunate in that everyone really adds something positive to the songs. We were looking for a live bass player for ages too afterwards and we finally found Marcos who tears it up live. He’s really talented too but the important thing is everyone gets along. It’s a laid back atmosphere when we’re all together, fun times…exactly how it should be ;)”

Your previous bands were more guitar based how did you find creating music different with electronics, apart from then obvious, and did it open up a more expansive field to explore than before?

Mike: “Oh for sure! Even in my BBX I was using a lot of guitar FX pedals, so it wasn’t always a straight guitar sound – I was always looking to modify the sound to give it atmosphere and diversity rather than driving every song with the same sound. Moving to electronics just gives you a much wider palette. With synths, there are so many different sounds which can give each song a unique texture. The songs have more layers and get even more epic!”

Lee O: “Mine were also more guitar based. I wanted to move more into the Electro scene, maybe creating a British Rammstein. For me, being an Electro group, I can write more as I have the use of midi programs where I can create synth tunes as I’m not very good at playing the keyboards… hey it’s all creativity at the end of the day ;)”

mixe1 pic 4 Your debut EP was Module 1, tells us about it and what you learnt in its creation which helped with subsequent releases.

Mike: “My attitude for Module 01 was kind of experimental! It laid the foundations of the project – the theme which is essentially all based in a futuristic city called MiXE1. There are some references to that in the lyrics and more in the general sound of the music. But yeah it was very much a case of just seeing what I could do on my own with synths and my vocals on the first EP. I learnt a lot actually. The main thing I learnt was what my voice can do, discovering how to use it and what I can do. That was exciting. I learnt a bit about the importance of mixing through the process too. After I wrote the first MiXE1 song, my attitude was very much like…I have this song I think is cool but it’s just gonna sit on hard drive, I’ll release it so even if it’s not the most polished, people can actually hear it and maybe be affected by it. So I wrote and released the EP. These days I’m more picky about having a good mix to represent the songs well but still have that mentality of if I don’t release it, no-one’s gonna hear it so get it out there!”

There feels like your songs hold a deep personal core lyrically and musically especially in Module 2 your second EP, is that the reality and what inspires your songwriting?

Mike: “Yea definitely! Module 02 is a very specific story with four specific songs/chapters of a couple being separated, dealing with a long distance relationship, remembering a time before and finally being reunited – and the story stems straight from my personal life. The reality (without going in to the long story…or trying not to!) is that I’d met the love of my life, Amie – we were super happy but she was on a student visa and when it was about to expire, she had to leave the country (day before Valentine’s Day if you can believe it). We spent a year February to February doing the long distance thing before I finally got her back and she’s now my wife. So it all worked out well but that year was mental…All the emotion, money, stress of immigration, life changes and long distance relationship-ing etc. We communicated every day, some teary phone calls to boot. We kept positive and it’s all worked out! It was a lot of hard work but infinitely worth it. So yeah that situation comes in to so many songs – those on Module 02, Lights Out and Starlit Skin for sure.”

You have just released your new EP, Lights Out, for us your finest and most mature work yet, though I believe the songs were written between your previous pair of EPs. Did you revisit them or take them further on from their inception on the EP?

Mike: “A bit of both really! The songs were all there structurally – with the exception of ‘Find You’ which was written up to the first chorus. I initially thought of it as a ‘band revamp’ – get everyone on the recordings and see what happens. I mean again, a song like ‘Find You’ for example, it originally had an extremely simple beat and Lee OB came in with this really dynamic and involved rhythm – basically stamping his style and personality on it. Similarly on guitars, the song had none and now it’s soaked in atmospheric leads and chords. Suddenly a song has a different vibe or something unexpected has happened and we’ll feed off of it.”

Lee T: “If you were to go back and listen to the demo versions of each track (good luck tracking them down!), it’s actually mind blowing how far some of them have come.

Largely the structures remained the same throughout, but sonically you could just sense each song coming to life and taking on these whole new personalities as everyone found their groove and these new ideas started bouncing from one person to the other. It was a pretty global affair actually; each part was written and recorded over a number of days, in completely different places and then attached at the end of the day into a group email session we had set up, where we proceeded to nit-pick each song to death before shipping it on over to Lawrie at Studio X in Australia. So the whole recording process was this great experience of finishing a guitar part off one day and then receiving a new drum layer the next, maybe followed by a new vocal idea or synth and just layering this crazy musical Jenga as we went along – I must have about 8-10 versions of every track on the EP sitting on my computer with something SLIGHTLY different about each one.”

Lee O: “From what I know the basis of the songs was already there (which made our lives easier). It was just a case of adding, changing and tweaking to get them to where they are today.”

The release is the first with you all involved.  Do you think this expanded line-up and mix of ideas played a big part in why the songs have lights-out-ep-coverarguably leapt above your previously released songs, though they themselves have all help make impressive releases?

Lee O: “Without a doubt… ha-ha!  :^o ===(   trumpet, blowing :)

Mike: “Ha, yeah I would say so for sure. I mean the songs were always there – the synths, basic structure, vocals, the basic riffs…The core of the songs. What we have now is a bigger sound, a more ‘live’ one thanks to some big drums and big guitar.”

Going back a bit for clarity how did you all meet and how has the additional skills and instrumentation impacted on the songwriting?

Lee O: “At The Pink Flamingo Club, we were wearing our crop tops and chaps…. oh wait, I’m getting confused! “

Mike: “Lee T and I have been friends for years like he said earlier – think we met in the school playground playing Ninja Turtles or something! How we met Lee OB, we put an advert out for another Lee I think, right? “

Lee T: “Yeah, we felt the dynamic of communicating with each other wasn’t QUITE confusing enough so we had to actively put an end to it. So, like many relationships these days, we found O’B via the internet, on the shadiest musician network we could find and then eventually met in person in the practice room one day. The rest is, as they say, geography… or something.”

Lee O: “I suppose I’d better come clean now…. my name isn’t Lee, its Rupert………….. I’ll get my coat!”

Lee T: “You should have said Richard – we could have called the new album The Crystal Dome!”

Mike: “But yea these guys have taken the songs to the next level! Lee OB is coming in with all these creative drum ideas that blow my mind. He gives the songs so much life and added dynamics. His ideas aren’t always restricted to drums – for example, having that extra bit of verse 2 guitar without vocals on Find You was his idea. Same with Lee T, he’s coming in with some amazing guitar ideas – lots of weird chords, lots of lead guitar stuff. I never really saw MiXE1 as having much lead guitar, I always wrote riffs very rhythmically in the past. It totally works; it’s a different vibe and stamped in his style/personality. On the EP, Find You and Pulling You Back To My World had no guitar written for them at all on the demos so it was a clean slate. Now guitar is a bit part of the songs.”

Is it a three way writing creativity for new songs now or still Mike at the core of that aspect?

Lee O: “I would like to say 3 way, but I would always want Mike (The Overlord :)) to have the final say as he has driven the sound and style to a certain place and wouldn’t want to upset that. He has done a good job in getting MiXE1 where it is today.”

Mike: “Yeah everyone is contributing for sure. I would say at this exact moment in time, I’m writing the core of the songs. That’s because we haven’t really tried writing anything from scratch as a band yet, it’s all been working on existing songs and demos penned before we became a band! There’s been plenty in the backlog :)

Lee T: “Plus a bunch of rough demos and random recordings we keep finding from about 10 years ago!”

How do you personally approach your songwriting?

Lee O: “On tippy toes whilst wearing my lucky pants…..oh wait, I’m confused again!!”

Lee T: “In regards to Lights Out, I suppose we approached the songwriting in the same way we have always done and that’s with an open mind and a good sense of humour! The advantage of the way we work is there are no preconceived notions on how things should be done and there isn’t a certain standard expected from one another, so it leaves room for a real casual, yet productive atmosphere. This actually helped a lot for me over the last year, being the admittedly amateur guitar player that I am…

A huge majority of the guitar sessions for both Lights Out and the upcoming album have been in burst of about two hours at a time, 2-3 times a week and in a way I feel like it really helped shape some of the sound of everything you’re about to hear over the coming months. It was this real quick fire situation where ideas could be made or broken in the space of minutes and there was a hell of a lot of improvisation throughout, where we’d find ourselves picking out a great sounding part and building sections around these tiny sparks of ideas.

One of my favourite recording experiences so far was actually with an album track where I tried my hand for the very first time at soloing (spoiler alert!), and we literally had this one section of song repeating for nearly 2 hours while I repeated the same part with slight tweaks over and over again. It’s that level of fun and sheer patience that I really can’t imagine finding recording with anyone else.”

Mike: “Note – not all 2 hours of solo are on the album! ;) Yeah, as a band we are very relaxed, in the rehearsal room or recording. My personal approach to writing… Well I always have the music first and that will spark off the vocals. I’ll usually cycle through various synth presets until a sound speaks to me or some songs I’ll start writing on guitar and later convert to synths – the 2012 single A Spark In The Air was like that. I just write songs that I want to hear, music I’d love to have on my own mp3 player and blasting out my stereo! I do have a self-imposed lyrical rule that I try to keep things positive or if there is some subject matter on the darker side, lace it with hope. For sure MiXE1 has always been quite open in terms of what sort of songs. “

mixe1 pic 3There is a certain harder rock element and snarl to the electro sounds of the band now, was this something you ha in thoughts for a while or a thrilling consequence of the full line-up?

Lee O: “I don’t know, but I like it :)

Lee T: “Good answer.”

Mike: “I’d say for sure being a band brings out the rock elements though I’d say it’s happened very natural rather than as a conscious decision. There’s always been rock vibes to some of the tracks – listening back to ‘Module 01′ there’s rock guitars there. The majority of synth parts on the EP were already written so I wouldn’t say the intention is brand new as a result of becoming a unit – what’s happened is the band have amplified this hard and it’s come out naturally. There are more guitar parts and these are more prominent. Having an actual drummer typically means you’ll be getting harder hitting rockier drum kits more often than the very electronic ones. It gives us an even bigger sound. I definitely feel the EP has a bit of a darker tone sonically than the previous material though as said, the core songs were written a while ago so the direction isn’t a result of that – however the band definitely accentuate the rock and edge of the songs. Balances nicely with synths to my ears :)”

Has the quality of and acclaim upon the EP changed your intent and thoughts  of the direction of MiXE1 or is it still on course for your original intention?

Mike: “Acclaim-wise – It’s a fantastic feeling to get positive feedback from reviewers and fans – we’re really appreciative and super grateful for it! In terms of impact on songwriting direction – there is none. Personally speaking I always write the music I want to write and be true to myself and what sort of songs I want to make, which is a very wide range and quite open. But it needs to feel right. If anything, the EP doing so well is an indication to keep doing that :) There’s nothing greater than hearing from a fan that the music has connected with them and has been with them through times in their lives. Those messages keep me smiling for days on end!”

Lee T: “In light of the positive feedback we’re getting about the EP so far, I just wanna say a quick, but huge thanks to anyone and everyone out there who has taken the time to check it out, review it, spread the word or simply messaging positive vibes back via social media. The reaction to Lights Out so far has been way above and beyond what I expected and as my first “proper” release, the ride so far has been mind-blowing.”

Does the Lights Out EP give a strong taster of what to expect from the album you are currently working on, Starlit Skin?

Lee O: “No, not really. The album is becoming a beast. We have played more of the songs from the album in the studio than the EP, so I think that helped shape it into what it’s become.”

Lee T: “For me, I’ve gotta say that it doesn’t. The songs themselves are definitely coming from a similar place and space in time, but each track we finish up at the moment is just leaps and bounds ahead of Lights Out. That’s not to take anything away from the EP, of course, but I get a real sense of pride that I didn’t quite get with the EP. The best way I can describe it, I think, is in my own performance; not being well-versed in the art of guitar, I think my style can best be described as “winging it” and I definitely play with a ‘heart-not-head’ mentality. I think it works to our advantage, really – but you’ll have to decide when the album drops!”

Mike: “Yeah the songs on the album are sound huge. I’d actually say yes it’s a taster in the sense that we have big drums and big guitars and of course my voice and style. It’s very much MiXE1 with the new MiXE1 band vibe. So for me, it’s a taster in that respect for sure. Although I do feel the same as the guys in that the songs are coming out even better than Lights Out definitely! I’m proud of Lights Out but the songs on Starlit Skin are some of our best yet. There are a couple of more chilled songs on the album and a couple which are our heaviest yet, there’s a lot of emotion and exploration.”

Can you tell us more about the album, any spoilers ;)

Lee O: “Spoilers shmoilers…. it’s gonna have 10 original songs…. there ya go! ;)”

Lee T: “Expect to be head banging one minute and holding your hands aloft and swaying the next.”

When can we hope to see it?

Lee O: “That’s the trickiest question so far :) Well it’s nearly finished…. we have a video shot for one of the tracks (just waiting for that to be completed). We’ve only just released the EP so wouldn’t be wise to release the album too soon. Think we were really going to promote, review and tease this album before release… so at a guess, towards the end of the year.”

Mike: “What Lee said! The plan is most likely the end of the year – we’ll be sitting on the album for a while sorting promo ideas for it and things for the next release. We need to give Lights Out time to air first ;)

Certainly the songs on Lights Out at times give suggestion of inspirations from eighties and nineties artists and sounds, we mentioned being reminded of the likes of Modern English, John Foxx and even Blancmange, as well as more current people like Celldweller and Static Distortion stable mates Ghost In The Static, but is that older period one which has impacted on you most to spice your music would you say?

Mike: “Y’know what – I can’t actually think of any bands that come to mind as a big influence on the EP… At least not intentionally. I listen to a lot of music and I have so many influences – over time they become so integrated it’s sometimes hard to tell what influences are being channelled! So for sure older stuff has had an influence on me in some way and possibly on the EP though it wasn’t conscious ;)”

Lee T: “I’m similar in a way. While there were wasn’t any particular road map to writing these songs, I guess you’re always going to be influenced by whatever you’ve enjoyed previously whether you consciously want to or not. My music collection is so chock full of bands that make me say “I’d love to be involved in something like this”, it’s no doubt having some effect on my own output and it’s interesting so far seeing how other people are interpreting that. Being mentioned in the same sentence as some of the bands that people are reminded of, while listening to Lights Out, is just crazy to me I can tell you that!”

Lee O: “I feel I’m more influenced by current music, but who knows whether 80’s / 90’s music / bands like Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, Pet Shop Boys, Adam and the Ants, Madness and Genesis influence me sub consciously. They probably do in a small way.”

You have and probably are involved in other projects and collaborations, can you fill us in on those too?

Lee O: “Maybe…. maybe not :)”

Mike: “Those which are public are ‘DEP featuring MiXE1′ – a project with Mark Haigh of Draconic Elimination Projects which we started last year. We shot a video as well for one of the singles earlier in the year, currently being edited. And also ‘M3SSAGE’ which consists of myself, Gary from Defeat and Steve from Ghost In The Static. The songs are sounding great though we’re very slow as we have our main projects as priorities. Some seven string guitar action in that one!

In terms of collabs, I’ve done a few guest vocals! I don’t really get to talk about them so I’ll talk about each of the public ones! Ghost In The Static’s song ‘Lost’ was the first. A kick-ass song, I was very honoured to be on their album (it’s awesome check it out). Steve had all the lyrics and vocals written I basically sang them and added my style and threw a few extra bits in there.

Cease2Xist’s song ‘Still Not Dead’ – that came out amazing, Dayve Yates absolutely nailed that song. He told me the lyrical theme he had in mind so I just sang some bits with the idea in mind, did a few backing screams and wrote the chorus – though only Dayve is singing that bit and added his embellishments (e.g. mental high scream :D)

Most recent is Cryogenic Echelon’s ‘From Comatose’ – basically Dayve linked me up to one of Gerry Hawkin’s releases which sounded really great and we got talking. Next thing you know I was working on a track with them. The track is awesome and Gerry was really encouraging to let me do my own thing. Really great bunch of guys, seriously talented and I’m proud how the song turned out! Bonus of that collab was Gerry introduced me to Lawrie (of CE and Studio-X) who mixed Lights Out.”

What apart from finishing the album and working on the EP promotion is next for MiXE1?

Lee O: “World domination of course. Oh, and a cup of tea with a nice biscuit on the side.”

Lee T: “Next on the agenda for me is a remix of one of the album tracks. Should be interesting as I’ve never really put one together with the intention of it actually getting out there so it’ll be an experience working on it knowing it’ll be promptly ripped apart by all the guys out there who are actually good at it! ha-ha.

Other than that, we’ve been toying with the idea of how to promote the future album release when the time comes. I produced the Lights Out trailer with my video production venture: Shooting Satellite and we didn’t really want to rinse and repeat that idea for promoting the album; so we’re currently bouncing some ideas around for something far more interesting…”

Thanks so much for sharing time to talk with us guys, anything else you would like to add?

Mike: “Thanks for the interview, Pete. We just want to say thank you for all the support – every listen, every share, every purchase, every bit of feedback. It means a lot and we are very grateful!”

Lee T: “Also thanks for the great review!”

Lee O: “This is going in OK magazine, isn’t it?”

And finally, it is becoming known that I do not get on with or understand the need for remixes, though the one of  your track Part Of Me on the new EP by the great band Defeat  did impress. So finally try to convince me of the worth of remixes as a valid proposition alongside original writing J

Mike: “I feel it serves two purposes – firstly a reimagining of a song, maybe taking it in a direction not explored in the original. A good remix for me takes the song to a new place but also very much has the sound of the remixer. Secondly, it gets bands names out – if you find a remix you like, you can check out the band who remixed and maybe you’ll like their stuff. So I feel it’s a way to promote your project as well. Personally speaking I do very few remixes, I’ve only done two. Takes me a bit of motivation as with my music time, I’d prefer to just blast new material! ;)

Lee O: “I had a crack at a remix, it was my first as I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of remixes myself…. but boy it’s hard. I found it harder than writing an original song. You have to do the original justice (even though it’s probably never going to be as good as) and feel like there is a pressure there for it to be real good. People think it’s easy as the song is already written and all you have to do is jig it about a bit. It’s like redesigning something that is good and functional…. it can be done, but will you come up with a better design than the original? Hmmmm!”

Lee T: “Oooh, controversial subject! This is where I’m gonna plant my foot firmly in my mouth after telling you I’m working on one myself but I’ve gotta say it’s not often I actively seek remixes out to listen to. That said, I understand their importance in certain circles, especially in the genre we find ourselves in, as they widen the potential audience while serving as a sort of dragnet for people to check out the originals! Defeat did some awesome work with Part of Me and turned it into this awesome, dark, dance-y number that I’m sure everyone will really enjoy. It definitely sounds killer in my car!”

https://www.facebook.com/mixe1

Read the review of the Lights Out EP @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/mixe1-lights-out-ep/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/08/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Digicore – More Than Just An Ape

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UK industrial music in its varying shades and exploits has been a strong force for a long time if still arguably untapped by the media to send it deservedly deeper into the psyche of the world. Right now though there seems to be a pinnacle for the genre, a greater expanse of quality brewing within a wealth of releases over the past year parading talent and sounds that are irresistible. More Than Just An Ape, the new album from Digicore, is another adding its strength and invention to the growing plateau. It is an album which continues the band’s investigation of rock and industrial merged into a distinct confrontation veined with metal, electro, and punk , as well as one delving deeper into the modern world and its reliance on its god, technology, and its persuasion and effect on the human condition now and ahead. It is a brooding collection of songs, ones that inspire and challenge thought and emotion whilst equally inciting instinctive responses through sounds which are like an insatiable call to arms.

Formed in 2005 and consisting of Danny Carnage (vocals, guitars, programming), Matt Bastard (bass), and Cell (drums), the band spent two years crafting and creating More Than Just An Ape, the release stretching and taking the sound of the York band into new yet seamlessly evolved places and invention from previous album Without Freedom of 2011. Again released on Armalyte Industries, the eleven track album forges a sound and presence best described as Nine Inch Nails meets latter Pitchshifter with essences of Ghost In The Static, Gruntruck, and KMFDM placed in the mix. It is just a guide to a sound which at times feels familiar but with no evidence to why within its individual temptation. Fusing a wealth of other flavours into the compelling sonic narratives of the songs, More Than Just An Ape is one of those releases which deviously creep up on you simultaneously to offering an instant addictive persuasion, one which lingers long in the memory and psyche after its departure.

The opening In To Ruin emerges from a peaceful scene, church bells with an edge of discord drifting ambience slowly surrounded by an Digigorillaominous electro breath. An air of melancholy lays its touch into the brew especially with the introduction of the excellent vocals of Carnage, his tones clean, expressive, and throughout the album with a confrontational snarl. His appearance also sparks a more accelerated intensity bringing its intimidating presence though the track always has its rein gripped between its emotive sinews. It is an excellent starter and beckoning for the following You’re Not Like Me to unleash its thumping heart. Big boned beats frame the start before taking a step back for the caustic but restrained electro caresses to begin their impending scarring against the again strong vocals. Eventually the guitars sculpt their venomous presence whilst rhythms set a cage of menace and impact around the at times aggressive shift of the song. The song continues the impressive start set in motion whilst offering another of its potent aspects.

Both Disconnected and The Great Devourer provoke and expel vigorously imposing shadows, the first a carnivorous sonic expression that sucks air from lungs and hope from thoughts whilst its successor is a metallic predator where guitars and vocals which raised their growl and bite in the previous song now launch an intensive forceful stand against the ear, electro climbs offering underlying temptation to the almost Fear Factory like conspiracy. Both stand tall upon a release of nothing but peaks whilst next up I Will Not Be Afraid wraps warm melodic charm in coarse sonic washes with the vocals similarly composed to create another compelling danger.

     Hell On Earth is the best track on the release, a song which lays a dubstep/ebm dance canvas upon the ear for the sinew clad rhythmic juggling and corrosive metallic urgency to dance and rampage all over. Once more the band continually twist and evolve the gait and call of the song, creating a disorientating yet easily accessible intrigue and incitement to devour with rabid greed. It borders on bedlam and chaos but is superbly crafted and controlled to be one of the most forceful and anthemic riots heard this year.

Both the ferociously hearted Not One Of Us with its belligerent driving rhythms and the scintillating aurally toxic Don’t Belong Here leave pleasure and appetite full whilst Flesh is Weakness makes its challenge for best of honours with its emotionally charged and increasingly agitated presence. A climbing rage and sonic stimulus to mind and feelings, the song explores its and the listeners corners physically and emotionally, its challenging terms and riveting enticement just delicious.

Ending with the hellacious dance floor manipulator I Hate What I Have Become, which initially tears up the ease to which limbs can add their contribution evolving into another dramatic contemplation that wraps forcibly but enthrallingly around the body, and the brief epilogue of the title track, More Than Just An Ape is an outstanding album, one which leaves you short of breath and long in satisfaction. Offering an assessable first meeting but becoming much stronger and compelling when ridden over numerous courses, Digicore has reinforced not only their striking presence but that of industrial exploration within the UK. They stand side by side with the very best whilst holding their own distinct portion of the field. A must hear album.

http://www.digicoremusic.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 02/08/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Machine Rox – Activate Your Anger

Machine Rox

© Alex Cooke Photography

After struggling to catch a breath after the riotous, energetic and overwhelmingly exhausting Activate Your Anger EP from UK industrial/electro band Machine Rox, you can only sit back with a satiated hungry appetite and contemplate basking immediately again in the feast of satisfying sounds. Like that favourite meal you may constantly choose in a restaurant, the release is a familiar and arguably unadventurous encounter for the palate, but one which brings the deepest and fullest senses ravaging pleasure.

Machine Rox began in 2007 as the solo project of Richard Kaltenhauser (aka Richard K), a member of industrial bands Meat Machine and Global Noise Attack (who supported the likes of Rammstein, Napalm Death, and Covenant). His ideas and sounds blended the potent essences of electro, industrial, and ebm with a corrosive metallic guitar bred attack for as subsequent releases show an impacting and incendiary brawl of a magnetic encounter. The arrival of Aga in 2010 on backing vocals and keyboards brought the project into a band stance with two years later joining Aga and Richard (electronics, vocals, guitars), drummer Nuj Farrow and guitarist Valerian Oproiu added their presence for the live aspect of the band. Since then Machine Rox has supported bands such as Leaetherstrip, V2A, and Deviant UK, and played numerous successful and acclaimed shows and festivals. Activate Your Anger follows a quartet of well received EPs which has increased their stature rapidly but with the new Static Distortion Label EP and its increased aggression, intensity, and contagious energy, expectations are of this being a trigger point to even greater awareness.

The London based band immediately coats the ear in a static cursed electro rub instantly joined by heavy caustic riffs, predatory 175430660-1beats, and burning sonics as opener Move Your Body (Until You Die) winds up its lethal dance. A thumping pulse driven rampage with devilment and rhythmic belligerence in tow is an easy persuasion especially with the dual vocals of Richard and Aga offering a devil and angel seduction. Whether from the acidic melodic venom of the guitar or the bewitching wantonness of the electro spotlights and their spearing shafts of warmth, the track is an unrelenting tempest which incites a full engagement and compliance to its irresistible call.

The following Night Riots is not just content to follow in the wake of its compelling predecessor without making its own contagious declaration on the ear which it does by initially provoking and caging the senses in commanding and synapse resonating throaty beats. Hitting the primal target which leads again to capitulation before the forceful and greedy energy as well as the infectious temptation beckoning and grinning from every note and corner of the track, the band without quite matching the potency of the first track holds the passions in its grasp and takes them on an invigorating irresistible ride.

Next Nothing steps up to offer a snarl to the release which reminds of Ghost In The Static, its bruising and scuzzy sound and intensive sinews the most imposing and threatening part of the EP. It like all the songs has hooks which deep root themselves in the listener for the most potent contagion though up against the following Where You Are still looks like a novice in that department. Taking centre stage with an instantaneous swagger and impossibly catchy lure, the new song is an intoxicating hypnotist with sparking crystalline seduction and an authoritative cogent rhythmic web which enslaves the senses and passions. Virulently infectious with a presence which is like Dead Or Alive meets Hanzel und Gretyl with Marilyn Manson and Angelspit in close attention, the track is electro manna for which there is no defence.

Bringing the release to an equally riveting and explosive conclusion is firstly Time To Survive, the track bringing back a thicker muscular wall of sound to further tease and exploit the now brewed ardour towards it with insidiously entrancing sonic enticement and ravenous heavy duty rapaciousness, and finally a remixed version of Next Nothing. Though Activate Your Anger does not offer anything dramatically new, it and Machine Rox unleash a tempestuous energy exploding experience which few recently have rivalled.

http://www.machinerox.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 28/04/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Dark Energy Discoveries: The Cosmic Light EP

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    The Cosmic Light EP is an intriguing two track release by Dark Energy Discoveries which combines the shadowed corners of dark electro and industrial with the shimmering radiance of electro pop and warm ambience. It is a deathwave fuelled encounter which challenges and mesmerises in equal strength and mystery and leaves a certain desire to know and hear more.

The little info which seems to exist about the project declares that ‘A clan of inter-dimensional beings have joined forces to explore the ever-expanding reaches of existence through the intersticed galactic portals of the Ravener and record those Distant Wisdoms they uncover. They will encounter strange, enthralling worlds and realms of science, magic, and arcane knowledge. This team of abnormal sages is known throughout and beyond time and space as Dark Energy Discoveries.’ Now for personal tastes this poetic kind of story only raises more options to ignore than investigate but it would certainly be a mistake in regard to Dark Energy Discoveries. Their EP is a free release to lead into  debut album Distant Wisdom and as said an intriguing as well as magnetic invitation into the band itself.

The title song emerges from a brewing ambience of crystalline ambience complete with heated melodic brilliance and compelling electro resonance. Once into its stride the track expands to embrace the senses with firm heady beats and a consuming dark wash of emotive breath wrapped in the continuing golden electro persuasion. The dual vocals are the first element to ask questions of thoughts and reactions, the clean smooth vocals accompanied by a restrained yet caustic malevolent delivery offering a black metal vein to the now enjoyably imposing piece. To say the track is Ultravox meets Cradle Of Filth with Ghost In The Static and God Destruction in attendance would not be that far from the mark even if still vague in revealing all that is going on within song and release. It is a compelling track which lingers and continues to tease thoughts long after its departure as does its companion.

Beyond The Ashes is a gentler caress though no less impacting in sound, imagination, and in the craft to inspire uncertainties, delight, and questions. The harsher vocals this time have a more spoken narrative to haunt alongside the once again impressive clean delivery as well as the glowing electronic shards and rays of aural flames and sunlight. As its sister track, the song immerses ear and thoughts in a soundscape of glorious sonic colours and vibrant shadows which float across and around the heat of the piece.

The Cosmic Light EP captures the imagination with ease and leads to a keen desire to keep close attention on band and their forthcoming album.

Check out and grab the EP at http://soundcloud.com/darkenergydiscoveries or http://darkenergydiscoveries.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/DarkEnergyDiscoveries

7.5/10

RingMaster 27/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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KLANK: Urban Warfare

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    With a new release waiting on every click of a button each and every day, it is easy for some impressive music to slip by the attention of far too many unsuspecting ears. Urban Warfare from US metallers KLANK is one prime example, a mighty incendiary album which has yet to surface on the radar of a great many though it was unleashed last year. Consisting of fourteen slabs of irresistible industrial metal veined by magnetic electronic lures and even more seductive delicious grooves, the release stops you dead in your tracks and recruits the passions in a brawling riot of enterprise and intensive energy.

Since forming in 1995, the band has earned a rich position within the metal underground constantly breaking into wider recognition and acclaim through their immense live performances and vigorously compelling releases. Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Daren KLANK Diolosa (ex-Circle Of Dust), guitarist Danny Owsley, bassist Charlie Parker, drummer Eric Wilkins, and Pat Servedio on guitar, keys, programming and production, KLANK first smacked music in the face with debut album Still Suffering via Tooth & Nail Records in 1997. It brought muscular groove metal, industrial, and dance music together with a vengeance and brought plenty of intrigued and enthused ears their way as well as strong radio play. Its successor Numb two years later elevated the band further especially with its immense and successful single Blind, and its re-issue the following year only added to the brewing rise of the band. KLANK also made plenty of compilation appearances over this period but arguably their real dawn of recognition came through the In Memory Of… EP in 2007 and the fifteen track release Numb…Reborn three years later which included guest appearances by Jim Chaffin, Larry Farkas and Mike Phillips. Urban Warfare though is the band at its finest moment yet and the album to place them in the higher echelons of grooved/industrial metal.

The best way to describe the album is a fusion of the previously mentioned musical spicery in a richer and more potent flavour.Urban Warfare Cover Imagine an aggressive offspring of Pitchshifter and Pitbull Daycare incited to further devilment by Dope and Powerman 5000 and you get wind of the tremendous energy and invention going on. Opening on the intro A Call To Arms with its infectious beckoning and full incitement the album takes no time in offering the fullest persuasion with Unamused. Its initial caress is an electronic sway which is soon ruptured by towering riffs and thumping rhythms whilst still delivering its own warm dazzle. Into its stride the track rampages with real hunger from the bass and guitar riffs to consume the senses whilst the drums of Wilkins prey on the ear like a middleweight boxer. The vocals of Diolosa are a stirring blend of clean with enough growl to intimidate which match the stance of the song, its combative gait entwined with the melodic heat of the keys.

The title track has a Toxic Grind Machine feel to its darker shadowed intensity and malice whilst still unleashing a contagious melodic inducement to bring feet and passions to energetic life. Its sturdiness and suggested violence makes a great contrast and variation to its predecessor and the following Bigger Man, though neither of these songs lacks feistiness or a burning passion to bruise. Bigger Man is a tempest of tumultuous riffs and rhythms tempered by a virally contagious chorus and the mesmeric sultry dance of the keys. Certainly one of the biggest highlights in an album which is one big pinnacle, the song is the final piece of suasion to ignite a real ardour for the release.

Songs like the squalling and impressively abrasive Alive in Me, the quarrelsome Built to Survive with its wonderful avalanche of explosive rhythms and prowling riffs within an equally intensive and raptorial atmosphere, and the excellent Stomp You Out, continue to drive the album deeper into the heart with accomplished invention and even headier passion. The third of the trio is another disputatious encounter with a thicker industrial metal oppression and heat playing like a mix of The Browning and Ghost In The Static.

As further tracks such as the less intense but greedily imposing Blow It All Away and the malevolent Disdain with its outstanding primal predatory caustic breath work on the passions, Urban Warfare stands without any notable flaws or deficencies…that is until the final pair of songs. Now to put this into context if Eraser and Something About You was on another release they would earn strong applause for their straight forward metal and raw ‘live’ state, they certainly stand as strong songs but against what has come before they feel out of place in time and situation, simply they are pale against the rest of the album.

Despite that minor niggle, Urban Warfare is outstanding, an album all metal fans should take time to immerse themselves within. KLANK stand on the edge of the widest recognition and deserve every ounce they get.

http://KlankNation.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 15/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Digital Deformation: Self Titled EP

As great and impressive as previous album No Signal was, Digital Deformation has left it in the dust of evolution with its new self-titled EP. The new release sees Matt Powell, the creator and sole member of Digital Deformation, returning with a mightier presence, more intense invention, and simply greater titanic sounds. It is a furious onslaught of thunderous industrial energy, skilfully crafted ebm, and electronic passion, all thrust into songs which ignite the passions and moves the body into action like an insatiable puppeteer.

Since forming the project at the beginning of 2010, Powell has continually grabbed attention and greatly positive reactions. His early releases System Failure and Powertrips were harsh and gritty, their striking and confronting presences sparking good acclaim which No Signal built upon and elevated with ease. The clear control and craft which evolved across those releases has found another depth and sphere of creativity with the new EP, as well as deeper rampant energy to the still merciless antagonistic intensity.

Released through Static Distortion Records, Powell ensures capitulation to his magnetic malice from the first two tracks alone, both mighty oppressive intrusive assaults which ignite the imagination and enslave the heart. Homecoming begins first, its flesh tingling initial rub and sonic drilling soon in league with roving rhythms and muscular beats wrapped in potent melodic persuasion and electro hooks which snare the senses without resistance. Female spoken vocals splinter the track at times to temper the gruff spite of Powell but also to add an extra chill to the metallic charge. By midway the track is a prowling antagonist, searing the ear and beyond whilst chewing on the debris with an intensity as rampaging as the golden sonic taunts are seductive.

Forget Me takes no time in adding its abrasive splendour to the wounds inspired by its predecessor, its acidic squalls of corrosive energy and coarse sonic brew simply hypnotic. The track then steps back its erosion to free tight explosions of pulsating melodic spots, the electro flirting a mix of Kraftwerk and Rammstein, before merging it all into a bruising maelstrom of splendour which needs and gets a repeating. It is like a recipe, a layering of textures and flavours which bewitch individually and fuse for a heightened delicious satisfaction. Stomping with vehemence flying from every word and bone resonating beats, it is a glorious storm of fiery harmonics and intent violence.

Strong finds a fiercer furnace to its dance. It is less forceful but crawls within the ear to tease and test the senses with sirenesque female harmonies, vibrant melodic swagger, and a rabid snarl to leave its surface warm yet challenging. It is another diverse aspect to the varied and intriguing release which the following Occupy repeats in its own distinct manner. It plays like a hungry mix of electro hardcore and industrial, its hybrid gait thrilling the ear like a riot of Axis Mundi, Ghost In The Static, and Conformist.

The release is closed by firstly User Defined and then a remix of the same track by Axial Point. The original is an ever shifting tempest of ideas and energies driven by ear slapping invention and compulsive sounds. Featuring Lewis Collins of Ghost In The Static on lead guitar, the track unveils a soundscape which provokes imagery and emotion which varies from listen to listen but always leaves a residue of provocation to contemplate and be invigorated by. The remix offers a less intense take of the track, its more relaxed and drifting whispers opening up a meditative and tranquil grace to its heart. It is a strong and pleasing version but pales right up close to the inventive original.

Digital Deformation has returned with a mighty and irresistibly compelling release which leaves the imagination and passions fully quenched. Nothing else need be said.

https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDeformation

RingMaster 06/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

Ghost In The Static: Fallout

Pic – Wicked Boy Photography

Already having garnered a strong and eager fan base as well as strong acclaim for their previous album and EPs, it is not pushing the realms of credibility to predict Ghost In The Static will put it all in the shade once their new album Fallout hits the world on September 1st. The album is quite simply immense, a magnificent explosion of electro industrial metal  which takes the senses on a massive thrilling ride. If you were impressed by their previous work and who could not be with its vibrancy and cutting energy, Fallout will leave you in rapture.

Formed in 2009 by frontman Steve Fearon, Ghost In The Static explored, experimented with, and evolved an evocative and stirring sound which was impossible not to connect with. Their Open Eyed Dreamer Part I: Revelation debut album of 2011 fully impressed as it showed a band still evolving but already creating compulsive inciteful sounds. Earlier this year two EPs The Infection Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 gave a teaser to what was to come and certainly ignited great anticipation though neither gave real warning of the incendiary levels of invention and  imagination to come. The new album has more muscle and intensity thrusting through its sound though the band has not neglected their electronic and melodic side. They have evolved it all into a striking consumption of emotional blistering and concussive energy. Think Celldweller and Suicide Commando in a riotous union with Nine Inch Nails and most of all Pitchshifter and you get a sense of the storm of creativity which envelops and brings climactic pleasure to a head.

Still within the world of post-apocalyptic struggle which themes their music, the new album is not so much a united series of songs as on the last album though all are linked by an overall  vibe to stand powerfully individually or as part of Fallout. This gives it a better balance than its predecessor in many ways but no less expansive in its atmosphere and depth. It is also more direct and intrusive, the attack a perpetual and sustained insistence from the first full track to the last lingering note of the release.

Starting with Armageddon, a brief intro setting the landscape the album is set in, the release slams into the ear with the title track, a stirring electrified rub of energy upon the senses. There is an immediate hunger to the song which takes no for an answer as the guitars of  Gareth Stapleton and Lewis Collins score the senses with sharp and impactful riffs and melodic surges. The synths of Collins sizzle like acid on flesh across the air of the track to disrupt the already riled energy pervading every pore, whilst the edgy basslines of Mike Fearon simply leaves one looking over their shoulder. A step into a graceful melodic aside gives brief respite though even there the tinge of destruction is whispering in the ear. The track is openly infectious and bustles thoughts and emotions in to a sense of something even more special to come.

      Another Day builds on the excellent start to raise the temperature even higher. It is a provocative and challenging slice of invention which straight away evokes imagery and emotions. A distressed ambience opens the song with the fear and desperation of someone lost calling through the sonic distortion. The plea is smothered as the track erupts into a boiling maelstrom of energies and aural disruption. The rhythms of drummer Martin Rogers echo and pulsate within bone as the song ignites the caustic air with its contagious tarnished melodic enterprise and insistent niggling synths. It is the triumphant brassy jazz sounds though which provide the match to full rapture which lingers long after the closing return to the lonely voice.

The muscular and venomous IWTMT  brings a fluid union of metal and electronic craft to keep things stewing perfectly whilst the ferocious stomp of Saviour and the corrosive breath of Rapture just give further abrasive charges of electrified pleasure. Each and every track leaves nothing but awe in their wake but when it comes to Not Enough and Fallen Gods it becomes something almost illicit. The first is simply infection gone wild, the rampaging energies and hooks barbed with addiction making melodic poison as it sweeps limbs and senses up into a brawling and insatiable tornado of sound and passion. Once bitten the song remains within forever, a companion in sleep, thought, and those intimate moments though its rhythms make a great pace maker. Fallen Gods is the same, a song which refuses to leave without an exorcism. Like a rampant Rabbit Junk, the band teases and molests with more of their adoration baiting melodies and inspirational imagination and both confirm what a strong vocalist Steve has become. Both carry a more electronic gait in contrast to the harder earlier songs though all are perfectly unruly and powerful.

With two vocal guests in MiXE1 on Lost and Cease2Xist  in Everyone, a couple of emerging industrial/electro powers, and the closing dark elegance of Judgement Day, the album is the fullest feast of experimentation, imagination, and irresistible energy. The pleasure does not stop there though as the CD version alone contains the brilliant and slightly punky YDNTL plus the equally stunning Nihilism III, which to our mind makes the download redundant such their greatness, but do not tell the band we said that.

Fallout is one of the best albums to come out this year and within electro industrial metal possibly the very best so far. Ghost In The Static has come a long way since those early days and just keep getting better and better. Whilst you mark that release date  off on your calendars we are off for a cold shower, phew!

To find out more, pre-orders etc go to http://staticdistortionrecords.co.uk

Listen to Ghost In The Static tracks from Fall Out on The Bone Orchard podcast from The Reputation Radio Show

RingMaster 16/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Interview with Johnny Virum of Virus Cycle

Though our introduction to Boston electro/industrial metallers Virus Cycle started with the remix album Return to Zombieland and moved backwards to their debut Alice In Zombieland it was immediate that the band was one which was bold in its exploration and pushing of the ever evolving boundaries within what we will loosely call industrial music and equally imaginative. Drawing post-apocalyptic soundscapes ruled by the soulless carcasses of the living dead Virus Cycle create inventive and intrusive experiences to ignite and consume the senses. Needing to find out more about the band and their sounds we had the pleasure to fire questions at band founder and multi instrumentalist/vocalist Johnny Virum.

Hello and welcome to The Ringmaster Review

How are things in the world of Johnny Virum?

In one word: BUSY!  We have so much going on in the world of Virus Cycle.  We’re working on the post-production of our new album, playing dates on our …The Dead Are Among Us! Tour 2012, and working on bringing Bluntface Records to the forefront of the industrial music scene.

Tell us about you the man.

Not much to tell really, just a guy who loves horror movies and writes music about it.  My music runs the gamut from industrial all the way to classical music. I also like to think of myself as a history buff – I like it so much I got a bachelors degree in it (which has absolutely nothing to do with the music business, lol).

What are the origins of the band?

Virus Cycle started in 2011 after the dissolution of my previous project back in 2009.

What was the inspiration or stimulus which brought Virus Cycle into reality?

I had been out of the music scene for around two years and wanted to start a project that was pure in its originality, but at the same time, something that would be able to stand toe-to-toe with the sound that has evolved into what is now the norm of the industrial scene today.  I created what could be considered a branch off that sound: Post-Apocalyptic Industrial Zombie Tech. It falls somewhere between industrial, aggrotech and metal.

You have been creating music long before Virus Cycle, has it always been in the same general genre as now?

Virus Cycle is much more experimental and more industrial than my past projects.  Before Virus Cycle, my projects had a lot of programming but were more towards the genre of goth-metal.  I feel I can take more chances in this new project and not be as worried about something not “fitting” into the genre norm.

What are the major influences which have had an influence on your music and invention?

There are many influences when it comes to Virus Cycle’s sound.  When it comes to guitar, it’s very similar to bands like Orgy, The Birthday Massacre and White Zombie.  I use a nasty fuzz pedal with a ring modulator in it from the 90’s.  I love the sound of the ring modulation.  When it comes to vocals, I have many influences but I try to make it my own as much as I can because today everyone sounds the same when it comes to industrial music.  On the new album Skinny Puppy, The Smashing Pumpkins and Cradle of Filth were influences.  When it comes to programming synths and drums, I go for my own sound all the way around. However a big influence for programming is John Ruszin from Carfax Abbey, Collinwood 13 and Sys2matik 0vrl0ad.  In every project he does he is consistent to his own sound.  I love that.

The band name comes from the movie 28 Days Later and you use many samples and film influences to shape and flavour your songs and overall themes. Does one come before the other when creating a song, i.e. do you bring the film imagery and sounds into already composed music?

Yes, that’s what we do. I write all the music first and when I’m done with that, then it’s time to relax for a week or two and watch horror movies while picking out sound clips and writing lyrics.

What is your way of working when writing music?

First I start with the programming.  It usually goes drums, synths, guitar, vocals, then sound clips.  After that, I usually go back and forth changing and tweaking things until it works for me.

Last year saw the release of firstly Alice in Zombieland and in the latter part of 2011 Return to Zombieland. Tell us first about Alice in Zombieland and its overall premise.

The premise of the album revolves around Alice, who is lost in a post-apocalyptic land overrun with flesh-eaters.  The album is really a journey of human survival in a world of the undead.

How long was the album in the making?

The album was in the making for about a year, which was great because I could go back and nitpick as much as I wanted.

We felt the songs within it had some eighties to early nineties flavouring, would you agree with that?

Alice in Zombieland was sort of an experimental album.  For many years I have been a fan of old industrial bands like Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, White Zombie, Throbbing Gristle and old NIN so I felt compelled to record an album that sounded like it was done in 1990.  I wanted to get a realistic feel so I recorded it on a four-track Tascam tape recorder and didn’t over-master it.

Return to Zombieland was a collection of re-mixes from notable artists as well as two new Virus Cycle tracks. Let us first talk about that pair of songs Bring You Down (Forever) and City Of The Dead which with no disrespect to the other people and tracks involved were the highlight of the album. Are the songs representatives of what we will find on the new album you are currently working on?

Yes and no.  The recording of those two songs was a learning experience for me and Otto Kinzel.  This was the first time we worked together in a studio setting, so we got to know how the other worked as well as what worked for us both in the collaboration process.   We came up with many cool tricks in those sessions that will become Virus Cycle staples such as the guitar texture and layering process. The drum programming is going to be totally different on the new album. Instead of just using a simple 4-4 type drum machine sound, I am using both electronic and acoustic drum kits and more “technically complicated patterns” (as Otto describes them) that are going to be nice and layered.

How would you say the songs have evolved from those on your first album?

The songs are a lot more organized, the sound quality is much better, and I feel that it’s a much more cohesive product.

As many of your tracks they both create a thick and enveloping atmosphere, is that aspect carefully crafted or something which organically evolves as your bring your songs to life?

The songs for the most part evolve into a shape all their own.  I like to layer and incorporate many different sounds that contrast one another.  Before the song is ready, it’s pulled apart and changed so many times before the final product is complete.

The rest of the album as mentioned is cover versions of songs from your debut. What inspired the album in the first place?

I have met a lot of awesome musicians while doing this new project, and I really love their sounds.  I thought that if I could do a remix album, I could introduce some of these bands that I have grown to love to my fan base and show them how much more these artists could contribute to my work. In many cases, some of the remixes on Return to Zombieland I enjoyed just as much as the originals.

Did you go to people or they come to you about re-mixing your music?

It was a combination of both, actually.

Our favourites were a couple from Lykquydyzer, friends of the site Ghost In The Static, and Otto Kinzel, who as you mentioned has since become a full contributor to Virus Cycle. We know him from his great work with Chemical Distance, how did you two meet and what led to the full creative union?

Otto had played in many bands throughout the New England area for many years. I never actually met him, but I knew of him from being in the same scene and having mutual acquaintances. I was working on the remix album and he ended up doing a remix of White Zombie that blew me away.  So when I recorded the two new songs for Return to Zombieland, I asked him if he wanted to produce them.  He did and ended up adding some programming and played bass as well.  On the new album, he is producing and playing bass.  He has been working just as hard on this new album as I have. He is a pro and it works out so well because it’s such a relaxed atmosphere between the both of us since we both understand what needs to be done and we don’t get too hung up on timeframes so we can get the best product we can, which takes time.

The band has also joined Bluntface Records, what difference if any has that made to the new album you are working on?

I am so ecstatic to be a member of Bluntface Records. The label works very hard to promote their musicians and projects all over the world.  It’s truly an international label with some artists not even based in the US.  The main difference with working with a label versus being independent is that before, you only had yourself to rely on; now it’s more of a team effort which is a lot of help because it expands your reach. It’s also cool to be able to believe in the label that you are on. So the easy answer is musically it didn’t change the album but it is going to change how it is marketed.

Could you give as any idea about the new album and is it a continuation of your Post-Apocalyptic /Zombie theme?

It definitely is. There are a few songs that deal with topics such as human emotion and witchcraft, which is a little different from the past two albums.  However, the new album lyrically as a whole is what you would come to expect from a Virus Cycle album: a very catchy chorus and verses that tell a story.

Do you have a date in mind for its release?

The new album will probably be released this fall on Bluntface Records (shameless label plug). Right now, the album doesn’t have a title as of yet.

The past months have also seen the band sharing stages with The Ludovico Technique and Mindless Self Indulgence. Both must have been great opportunities to spread ‘the virus’, haha sorry couldn’t resist.

It was haha. I was so happy to share the stage with both bands. The Ludovico Technique is a very hard-working band.  One of their major attributes is that they have a very unique sound and don’t try to conform to every other aggrotech schtick out there. And what can I say about MSI – they are legends!  We were so ecstatic to get the news that we would be sharing the main stage with them.  They have one of the most devoted fan bases in music today. There was about 400- 600 people at that show!

How does the live aspect differ to the studio for you in creating your atmospheric soundscapes?

Whenever I start writing, I make at a major point to only create stuff that will transfer over well in a live environment.  I hate to say it, but sometimes the more simpler something is, the better it sounds live.

We both have a mutual love of zombies themes and zombie movies I feel, so before we go what is your feeling about the TV show The Walking Dead, is it dark enough for you?

I have only seen the first season of the show, but it’s really cool so far. It reminds me a lot of Romero’s movies.

Thank you for sparing time to talk with us, very much appreciated.

Would you like to leave with some final words and maybe your favourite movie or line from a movie, or even one of your songs?

I’m not going to tell you what movie it’s from since everyone should know. I have seen this move a million times since the age of 5, and I still get chills when Ken Foree says, “When there is no more room in hell the dead will walk the earth.”

Read the Return to Zombieland review https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/virus-cycle-return-to-zombieland/

The Ringmaster Review 26/06/2012

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Virus Cycle: Return to Zombieland

Return to Zombieland from Boston electro/industrial metallers Virus Cycle revisits their acclaimed debut album Alice In Zombieland with a collection of striking and impressive remixes of tracks from some of the vibrant talent around the world, each re-inventing the dark creations with their own distinct vision. It is a startling tomb of re-invention, a parallel destructive world with an equally consuming menace to its source.

The music of Virus Cycle, consisting of Johnny Virum  (Vocals, Guitar, Drums, Synth, Programming), Damaris (Vocals), and Veronika (Artwork, Social Media), is a disturbed and addictive combination of horror borne lyrics, resonating beats, and guitar grinds which scythe through and ignite the senses from within an intrusive and haunting electronic consumption. It is a Resident Evil/Doom like soundscape spawn from the carcass of Night Of The Living Dead and 28 Days Later or as the band bio states ‘a post-apocalyptic future of death and decay, ruled by the flesh-eating undead’., the film the band name was inspired by. It is this heart which provides the core ignition for Return to Zombieland.  Released February of last year Alice in Zombieland was an inspiring ‘Post-Apocalyptic Industrial Zombie Tech’ corruption of the senses Return to Zombieland is its mutant bastard sibling and equally as hungry and rewarding.

Return to Zombieland opens with two new and original songs from the band in Bring You Down (Forever) and City Of The Dead. The first seeps through the ear with an atmospheric whisper behind a film sample before disturbed predatory riffs surge in and out. Intensity increases as the monster stirs, the excellent near lifeless vocals permeating every note and syllable with a decayed breath brought on a pulsating wave of agitated beats, hypnotic bass, and scathing riffs. The track is outstanding and infectious, the instigator of much impatient anticipation for the new album the band are working on. City Of The Dead too leaves nothing but an over enthused eagerness for the future work. The track is a crawling venomous violation, its heart tar black and intent malevolent. With warning calls throughout the festering aural decay enveloping the senses ensures there is no escape from its immoral smothering, the song immense and provocative

From here on in re-mixes light up the ears in varying degrees though it has to be said there is a high consistency which leaves many other similar styled releases to shame. First entrant is The Last Man On Earth (Blutaenasche Mix). The original track by Virus Cycle is an invasive sprawl of decayed energy, a slow moving fully intrusive assault whereas the remix sparks fires of melodic energy sparking far more hope and life than its source. Preference looks to the original but the reworking is more than satisfying and brings a different face to the track which is what one asks.

The album contains three remixes of Alice In Zombieland and as many versions of White Zombie. For the first song the Droid Sector Decay Mix is the stand out one though the trio all bring distinct essences of the original to the fore. This version offers the thought of a dawning realisation of the darkness behind the subterfuge of light. None of the three captures the fearful and menacing tone of the original but this is the closest as it twists its own unique shadow. The thumping original transgression of life White Zombie is a track as infectious as it is pure evil and something the remixes capture in varying degrees. The mix by Traumatize creates a more atmospheric overlook of the brewing dark within the track creating safe warmth to barrier in the rot whilst the version by UK band Ghost In The Static gets inside the distorted energy with writhing mesmeric electro fuelled eagerness. The best is from Otto Kinzel, an artist we know from Chemical Distance amongst other projects, and who has since become a studio member of Virus Cycle. His track chews up the senses with a blistered melodic sonic fingering and a rampant primitive energy. He rivals the original the closest and again inspires a keenness to hear his future work with the band.

Other tracks include remixes of Never Again, Cemetery Hill, and Rest In Peace, the three pleasing to a descending level respectively but all intriguing enjoyable efforts. The pair of tracks from Lykquydyzer easily emerged as our favourites, the brilliant versions of The Underworld and Horror Hotel an aural contagion and the strongest infection, especially the first of the pair which dare one say actually outshines the original. With an insistent and insatiable storm to their energy both tracks leave one breathless and eager for more.

To truly get the most from Return to Zombieland you need to listen to Alice in Zombieland too which is not an effort too far and will easily be one of the more rewarding things you do as you investigate the impressive creative worlds of both albums. The pair of releases are available free from the official Virus Cycle website http://www.viruscycle.com/  so no excuses not going and being corrupted.

RingMaster 16/06/2012

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Defeat: Outbursts!

Having treated us already this year to the impressive releases from the like of Ghost In The Static and MiXE1, Static Distortion Records now introduce us to electro/industrial duo Defeat through their deeply striking Outbursts! EP. The release offers a quartet of electro/harsh EBM/industrial shaded songs with infectious melodic pop pulsations throughout. The EP mixes all elements into a sometimes crawling, often insatiable, and consistently a welcomingly lingering contagion which leaves its mark long after departure for the fullest satisfaction.

Defeat is Hertfordshire based Anthony Matthews (Voice) and Gary Walker (Synthetics), a pair of school friends who came together to create in the description upon their bio music which is ‘Atmosphere, Angst and Rhythm’ in the mould of Nitzer Ebb, 242, FLA, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan and NIN.’ That pretty much sums it up though it only gives some of the full flavour the duo has creates on Outbursts!

Opener and lead song for the release, with a video for it due soon, is Parasite, a track which instinctively accelerates an addiction with electronic hooks which have a beckoning lure and effect like silver to a magpie. The track slowly exhales its musical breath initially with a metallic call before winding up its electro heartbeat with surging pulses of sonic light. Once the almost dour low key vocals of Matthews come in within an almost restrained energy the song immediately reminds of Fad Gadget, Matthews and the shadowed atmosphere created especially reminding of the inspirational work of Frank Tovey. The song gets more excitable with eager energy and catchy electro hooks whilst the enthused surge teasing as it progresses only adds to reinforce the Fad Gadget comparison and ignite a deeper delight, the mesmeric mix of dark and lit shadows irresistible.

The title track makes its presence known next with opening thumping beats and a belligerent bass toned electro spine taunting the ear. Crescendos of frenetic melodic eruptions erupt throughout and fuel the chorus, sparking against the darkened intensity brewing from the core of the song. The track beings a flavouring of Joy Division, NIN, and Depeche Mode to stalk the sound excellently and though not as openly inviting as the opener is equally as irresistible and impressive.

How Pathetic and Bored complete the line-up of what is quite simply an impressively crafted and outstandingly thrilling EP. The first of the pair is a track spilling attitude and contempt from every note, beat, and syllable. Its agitated melodic core energy is niggly and caustically explosive at times especially when speared by the bulging and throbbing intermittent dark surge of sound. Spiteful and twisting gleefully in its own venom the track is anthemic and uncontrollably contagious. The closing track is a more soothing and warm song, well that is the initial impression it gives and though it still retains a discordant beauty and darkened harmonious presence throughout it is just as shadowed and emotionally scarred as those before it. The track soars to great heights of light and heated sonics at times but always there is the distressed undercurrent to bring a hypnotic balance.

Outbursts! is an instant and undeniable proof that electro and industrial music in The UK is on a definite rise with bands like Defeat and others brought by Static Distortion Records as examples, leading the way with quality and inventive imagination. Defeat will become a major player in their genre, Outbursts! the evidence.

http://www.defeatmusic.com

http://staticdistortionrecords.co.uk/album/outbursts

RingMaster 15/06/2012

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