Niklas Hurtig fick en pratstund med Bryan Erickson (hjärnan bakom Velvet Acid Christ och Toxic Coma) om det nya Velvet Acid Christ-albumet “Maldire”, vem Rudy Ratzinger (Wumpscut) är släkt med och några åsikter om modern politik. Utöver detta gav han också ett lovande löfte till de Europeiska fansen…
OBS! Missa inte Niklas recension av det nya albumet “Maldire” här!
Elektroskull: I’ll start with the mandatory question: How do you feel about the new album arriving in stores soon?
Bryan Erickson: It is out in America today. I am excited. October 2009 was when my last LP came out, that is like three years. Too long to wait. I had this LP done back in June and it took 3 months to get it all worked out for retail.
Elektroskull: Do you feel that it was more work with this one than with the previous releases?
Bryan Erickson: This one was easier because when I made “The Art of Breaking Apart” I struggled with my studio set up, midi timing and hardware so much that I ended up making a simple LP with acoustic guitar and minimal techno mixed. It was so strange. This time I was able to get a whole Toxic Coma LP done before I finished “Maldire”.
Elektroskull: Yeah I was just getting to that. It seems that you are just bursting with energy in making music right now…
Bryan Erickson: In the past year I have made 3 LP:s. “Satan Rising” from Toxic Coma, “Maldire” from Velvet Acid Christ (VAC) and “Mauvais” from VAC to come out next year.
Elektroskull: How is that. Have something personal happened that awakened your creativity?
Bryan Erickson: No. Renoise. When I committed to Renoise being my sole musical Digital audio workstation everything got so simple and fast to use. I was able to get ideas out really quick and I don’t have to fight menus and stupid VST instrument drum track routings. Renoise is why I can do music really fast now. There is music in my head 24/7.
All I have to do is listen and a song pops into my head. All I have to do is pick up a guitar and riffs come pouring out of me. Most digital interfaces make you think too much when you use them and that turns off the creative spirit and turns on the logical side of your mind. With Renoise I don’t have to think about the interface as much so the creative side still is in control.
Elektroskull: And that leads me to my next question: How was the transition from hardware based creation to software. Was it a monetary issue also…
Bryan Erickson: I still use hardware, but a lot more software. I used the Virus A and Mopho a lot and on “Mauvais” I used the Korg Micro X, Kronos and Trinity a ton in Renoise. I used a lot of software this time because I wrote the Toxic Coma LP and got really good results with it. Loud punchy sounds and kick ass arps.
Software is expensive too. I mean each of the good programs are like 500 bucks. Omnisphere, Trillian, Zebra, Ace, Diva, Sylenth1 and some of the Arturia stuff. It’s not cheap to own it all, that is an illusion. If you pirate everything sure it’s cheap but I buy this stuff so it still costs money for me.
Elektroskull: You mentioned that you focused too much on the technology with some hardware. Is that based in your fascination for technology and nerdy stuff like strange audio-machines and such?
Bryan Erickson: No it was bad on “The Art of Breaking Apart” because I had the future retro revolution and a modular I custom built from analog haven. Manual programming hardware sequencers is a pain in the ass big time and it made me loop things too long because it was so hard to change the notes. On the modular I would spend 2 days making a sound, then I would write something then make another sound taking 2 days.
When I work with the Virus and am able to save sounds it’s so much better. Even if it doesn’t sound as fat and wet as a modular or old analog I can get ideas done quick and make sounds super fast and save them. I love my Virus A so much. More than the Snow and TI because it’s so much easier to make sounds right from the front panel.
Boutique modular is no fuck when you are trying to make an LP. If you want to dick around and make funny strange loops it’s amazing, but man they never stay in tune or track or scale good either… annoying… they sound wicked though.
Elektroskull: I’m glad that you have the setup needed to be able to concretize all your ideas. How important is a well functional environment for a musician?
Bryan Erickson: Well, to capture the spirit of a song I feel it needs to happen fast, because if you work to long on a song you get burnt out on it and then the passion for it dies so your performance when making it suffers. You have to really get the ideas captured fast so you don’t lose the spirit.
Elektroskull: So the time from idea to a track need to be shortened?
Bryan Erickson: For the bulk of the work yes. After you get the main song written and the vocals and lyrics, you can always come back and do some post production and do fills and sound-fx and mess with the arrangements etc. But the initial spirit must happen fast or you end up faking it and not feeling it cause your burnt out.
This is why it is crucial to work with interfaces that do not hinder the process.
Elektroskull: I just wanted to ask you about your musical influences. Beside acts like The Legendary Pink Dots I have gotten the impression that you also listen to some Scandinavian black metal…
Bryan Erickson: Black metal is not a staple. I go to black metal shows more than I listen to it at home because they kick ass live. At home I listen to music that makes me think or feel. I like old black metal like Bathory, Napalm Death and old Cradle of Filth.
Right now I am listening to a post grunge act called FOE. I fucking love it. My favorite LP in 5 years: “Bad Dream Hotline”.
Com Truise, everything he has put out I think it’s amazing chill music with great 80s loud modern production.
I am not listening to new EBM or Industrial or Goth. I only listen to the 1980 – 2000 EBM and Goth.
In the 2000s, it’s been Ladytron for me. A Place to Bury Strangers, Health, The Knife, Fever Ray and Tegan and Sarah’s old music.
Elektroskull: Yeah a lot of different styles indeed.
Bryan Erickson: Funny huh!
Bryan Erickson: And some of the Blonde Redhead stuff I like a lot too. I still listen to Snog though. Snog is like religion for me.
Elektroskull: So do you have any track on other (non-commercial) industrial acts like Dead When I Found Her or Object?
Bryan Erickson: No. I am really picky about vocals. I like strange unique vocalists who do not sound like a typical person’s tone walking down the street. If the voice sounds too normal I automatically will not be a fan of it. I like eccentric vocal tones.
This is what I hate about most of the music in the EBM-scene now. I will say that I like Feeding Fingers though.
Elektroskull: So you don’t take impression of other modern pieces of Industrial in your music making?
Bryan Erickson: No. I listen to old Wumpscut, Covenant, Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Ministry, SPK, Test dept. I never get sick of that and can listen to it over and over.
I think there is good talent out there, but it’s just not my cup of tea anymore.
Elektroskull: So I guess that you don’t care about the success of other bands of today. Do you get envious sometimes?
Bryan Erickson: That is not true. I want all the bands on my label to do well. Even if I do not personally like it. I feel like we all help each other out when we sell and get the label money so it’s a pool we all get paid from and can tour and things. I loved being on a label with KMFDM, VNV Nation, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy and all the others.
By the way I rediscovered KMFDM. I was never a huge fan for a long time and recently bought all their LPs and now I cannot stop listening to them. I love “Hau Ruk” and “WW3” and “Attack” so much.
Elektroskull: Hehe yeah I’ve been there done that. But for other bands…
Bryan Erickson: Here is the thing as well. If you want me to sound unique I need to listen to and learn how to play other forms of music. If I stay in my genre I will never bring anything new to the table.
Not only that, I want to name drop the bands I like in hope of bringing some of those fans over to our scene. If that makes any sense… Get the fans of FOE to check out VAC and Psykkle and KMFDM.
Elektroskull: Yeah I guess that you can sound too stream lined if you only listen to the same kind of music you yourself create.
Bryan Erickson: Yeah I would end up using “onntz onntz” and detuned “Alice DJ – Do you think you’re better off alone”-trance lead sounds in my music like all the dumb EBM bands are doing today. No thanks!
When I did “The Art of Breaking Apart” I had hopes to bring some Tegan and Sarah and Death In June fans to the VAC table. To bring them over to check out other Metropolis bands too. It didn’t work out…
I should have tried hard to promote to those Neofolk and Indypop scenes…
Elektroskull: And that is what separates an artist from a music creator?
Bryan Erickson: I don’t know if you have noticed but here in Denver the club scene is dead. It used to be 1000 people on Saturdays and Sundays. Now its 150… So I don’t care what is popular in a scene that is 150 people on Sunday in my town. If that makes any sense.
I miss when our scene packed the clubs in the 90s. Still old Covenant, Haujobb, Wumpscut, VNV Nation kicks the shit out of all the new crap out there. This is the better music too.
Elektroskull: Do you actively try to get new audiences to discover your music?
Bryan Erickson: I want the scene to expand and get big, not get refined into sub genres.
I do sometimes when I am promoting on line. I think this will save the scene more, getting new blood, new people. Not just catering to the small 150 people in the Denver crowd. If that makes any sense…
I think it’s boring to just play keyboards I like guitars too…I go back and forth.
I also think the fashion ruins the scene. When people get snobby about the outfits and treat normal looking people like shit who come to a club to enjoy the music.
Elektroskull: What would you say is your biggest moment in your VAC-career, so far..?
Bryan Erickson: When we got signed to Offbeat Records in the 90s. This opened the door for everything we did. No matter how many hard times I have with Stefan Herwig. I owe him for putting us on the map. Thorsten Stroht did it before him though. I owe those guys.
I like Distorted Memory and that is a new band…btw
Elektroskull: Hehe ok.
Elektroskull: If you actually got paid this time, would you tour Europe?
Bryan Erickson: I think we will play the festivals but I must be the one to set it up and get the money. No middle men, no cutting others in. WE ARE PLAYING EUROPE IN 2013 if the earth doesn’t blow up.
Elektroskull: About that. What is your view on music labels, agents and other “middle hands” in the music industry?
Bryan Erickson: Oh and I love Psykkle and Darker Days Tomorrow and the Twilight Garden for new scene music.
Bryan Erickson: Glad you asked this. This is a big deal and something people are very ignorant about.
MARKETING MUSCLE IS HUGE in the world of music. If I try to sell something myself on my web site only a handful of people actually look at my web site, like maybe 150 people.
This will not amount to shit. Even if I get it posted on all the music blogs, maybe 500.
Now compare this to Metropolis. Metropolis over the years built up a huge marketing empire. When they release something all the retailers know about it, the djs know about it, the scene knows about it. More than just the hand full of blogs and the bands official web site that only their hard core fans look at. My record label is not a middle man. They are the ones who made me huge. “Fun With Knives” sold 40000 or something like that. I could never do that on my own.
I don’t have the marketing muscle with my web site to pull that off. That’s why when people leave Metropolis they learnt the hard way. Selling your music on your own is tough. Because iTunes, Amazon and the others won’t advertise you worth a shit. Metropolis has a huge mailing list too with like a hundred thousand people on it. This stuff took years to build up.
So I do not mind letting Metropolis make money off of me, because they made me famous. And people do not understand the marketing side of this shit and think yeah, cut out labels and the artist will make more money. Yeah, but then only 150 people will know about it. That is the down side.
Elektroskull: So what are your feelings about music piracy of today. Did you start out with the same ideals in the early 90’s that the pirates of today struggle for?
Bryan Erickson: Piracy is too easy now, that is the problem. I am against mainstream piracy. I do not blame the people. Hell, look at it like this. Say I am driving down the street and on this one street there is a bunch of stuff just laying there for free. Hell I would probably take it too. The problem is the internet service providers (ISP).
Elektroskull: Do you have any roots in these sub-styles, hackers, pirates and so forth. Programmers, computer nerds in general?
Bryan Erickson: I used to be a hacker when I was 14 to 20. I even got busted, so yeah. But I stopped that ages ago. My biggest grip is that the internet providers know they can stop piracy. But if they do less people will buy their service. So I see the internet the same way I see the TV and radio. I don’t care if people stream my shit or even copy it as long as I get compensated for it. The ISPs should pay me a decent amount of money every time someone transfers one of my songs. Then I would not even give a shit. But no, they make billions while all us artists are getting the shaft. So I place my blame right on the internet service providers.
Think of it like this. A local shopping mall. If someone started selling pirate goods in a shopping mall the cops would come instantly and they would be evicted by the land lords. Why in the internet, is this not the case?
There are no internet police or anything, its anarchy. And this is BAD in a world where people can buy 6000 rounds of ammo and shoot up a movie theater or download and distribute child pornography. It amazes me that no one is watching this, no one is policing it.
Just like if someone broke into my home and stole my shit I would blame the city and the cops for not patrolling enough to protect my goods.
Still the people who are profiting off of this piracy are the most disgusting to me and that is Youtube, Google and all the internet service providers.
Elektroskull: I guess the debate is whether the ISP’s should censor sites and users it would be a step towards 1984.
Bryan Erickson: NO not censor, police! That is ridiculous. We have police in our malls and on our streets and we can say whatever we want, but if I steal and rob then I get arrested.
Is that censorship?
Fuck no. That argument is silly to me. I don’t think they should bust people. The ISP should raise their rates and pay us artists. This way no one goes to jail and everyone is happy. If the TV and radio plays my music they have to pay be mechanical royalties. The internet should as well every time a file of mine is transferred. This is what I think should happen. Not censorship.
I think everyone who provides entertainment, and information should make money from the ISPs. They make tons of profits and the people who provide the goods make nothing. The internet is like an expensive toll road that never pays the shops anything.
Elektroskull: One point of view is that copying digital information doesn’t remove the source of the information (Like if it were a theft) but only as the word mean, copy the information. And that itself leads to another discussion. Should all copying be banned?
Bryan Erickson: No, but if the internet is used to spread it free, we need the ISPs to pay us the way the radio and TV has to pay us. In the end everyone should still have to pay. The radio and TV cannot play our music unless they pay, same should go for the internet.
Elektroskull: If we should move on with your blog. You have a very open style on www.velvetacidchrist.com. Both with your fans and what you publish. How come?
Bryan Erickson: I don’t understand the question.
Elektroskull: Well it seems that you happily publish posts of old VAC-tales.
Bryan Erickson: I do this for the hard core fans. I should just write a book.
Elektroskull: Is the blog a way to tell your story about your music career. Like some write their memoires for this reason?
Bryan Erickson: I think so. I try hard to promote the things in life that I really like as well.
Elektroskull: Yeah. The first thing that comes to mind are all your reviews for various things. Like games and other electronic stuff
Bryan Erickson: Yes. I try hard to help other artists whether they do video games, music or movies and TV. I want them all to do well. I am not selfish like that. I shine the spotlight on others, not just me.
Elektroskull: Seems like you really want to help the creative community. Or at least the community that creates the stuff that you like.
Bryan Erickson: I am inspired by them to create so I want to give back to them. I love art and think everyone who makes cool art should be rewarded and nurtured and compensated. I am not a Mitt Romney. I know I did not build this shit myself so I try to give back to all those who helped pave this road I walk on.
Elektroskull: In a post you did for “Maldire” I read that you wanted to honor the witches and pagans of old Europe and that you wanted to honor your roots. Do you have relatives or family in Europe?
Bryan Erickson: Yes, my last name is Erickson. LOL I just hate the mainstream: philosophy, religion, music, art…
I always root for the underground, the underdog. I feel so sad for all the people oppressed by the mainstream morons of any era.
Elektroskull: Yes, Erickson does indeed sound like a Swedish or Norwegian name. Would you be interested in doing some genealogy (the search for old roots and relatives)?
Bryan Erickson: My family members have and found some bad seeds, murderers. LOL I am willing to bet Rudy Ratzinger is related to the current pope as well. LOL
Bryan Erickson: I am not related to the pope though, thank goodness.
Elektroskull: To round things off here I just wanted to ask you something quite personal, not directly related to VAC. Have you had or do you have social phobia in some degree?
Bryan Erickson: Yes, I fear crowds. Why it is so hard for me to play live shows. I have to get really drunk to lose my fear of crowds. In a former life I think I was lynched or something. Maybe in China, death by a thousand cuts or something brutal. So I try hard to avoid crowds most of the time and only break it for live shows.
Elektroskull: Is that why there has been pretty few VAC live shows? How many has there been by the way?
Bryan Erickson: Well not really. A lot of the no-VAC-show-things happened because I was convinced by dumb people long ago that a tour bus is the only way to tour. And I finally figured out if I rought it and tour by van and take days off I can make money. I was lied to by people.
Tom Shear told me how to make money doing it so I owe Assemblage 23 big time. I like their music too by the way. Even the new stuff.
Elektroskull: Yeah I saw your blog post about that. So can we expect more live shows in the future?
Bryan Erickson: I hope so. I want to tour for “Maldire” and “Mauvais” for sure.
Elektroskull: That sounds good. And I hope that I and my fellow VAC-fans get the opportunity to see you live in Europe in the near future.
Bryan Erickson: Cool! Thanks for taking the time to chat with my useless ass…
Elektroskull: Yeah it was fun. I think I got all the answers I wanted. And hopefully our readers too. So thank you so much Bryan and good luck with the upcoming tour!