Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Total Control Interview

I basically heard about Total Control through a combination of Chaz from Bull City Records and Maximum Rock N Roll’s year-end issue, wherein Total Control got a lot of mentions in peoples’ top 10 lists.  It’s different than the hardcore that they cover a lot, but it is kind of a mixture between a bunch of genres, which makes it difficult to pin down.  There are synthesizers.  There is aggression.  There is darkness.  There are drugs.  And ultimately, there is brilliant song-writing.  Their album “Henge Beat” came out in 2011 from Melbourne, but is also distributed in the United States.  It’s truly an album in the purest sense in the words.  It’s one of those pieces of work that can be admired in snapshots, and certain songs are much more conventional than others, but it can also be enjoyed as an entire experience.  That’s how I think it was meant to be heard.  As an album.  You put on Side A and when that’s done you flip it to Side B.  Cause that’s what these guys wanted and truly what they made.

A Nearly Naked Group of Total Control Members
I e-mailed the band after checking out their tumblr, which can be found HERE) and Daniel Stewart, the frontman pretty much, got back to me really quickly.  It was awesome working with him.  He’s a smart guy and answers in nearly academese.  He references Nietzsche and Philip K. Dick, which weirdly have a sort of overlap.  Maybe it’s the whole insanity thing.  I don’t know.  But there are a lot of influences on his songs, which he talks about and ultimately names it Henge Beat.  It’s a good name.  Henge.  Beat.  It’s a good name.

He also runs a zine called Distort.  It’s cool.  I haven’t got my hands on a copy yet, but I’m trying to.  I’ll let you know about it.

Anyway, he’s a good explainer and a good talker and smart.  So here’s what we said to each other

Jordan:  How did you decide on the sound that you guys wanted?

Daniel:  Any impression we have given of having made a decision regarding the sound of the band has been erroneous.

Jordan:  Have you all played in other bands before?  How do your experiences in music impact total control?

Daniel:  We have all played in bands before. I can only address this personally. Straightjacket Nation's effort to make pure, cold-hearted, aggressive and violent hardcore has had an impact on the lyrics I wrote for Total Control, which are less direct in subject and tone. The UV Race are an incongruent punk mess, and Total Control share an element of this affection for frantic punk that never wholly coagulates into that "tight" ideal of the nerd and the taxman.

Jordan:  How would you define the music that you make?

Daniel:  What you're asking for could only really be arrived at critically by someone engaged with the music we've made from the outside, and not elucidated from my own experiences. Not that I don't consider this stuff all the time - my existence is mired in hectic self analysis - but I'm not too sure any response I give is going to express anything true about myself or the music we make, just whatever cave I've dug myself into at that point will be illuminated.

An attempt at a definition of our music from my perspective would have to involve my understanding of what Georges Simenon was attempting when he wrote his romans durs, what John Brannon meant when he said "another day of nothing", that feeling of self assurance fractured by external chaos that Joan Didion captured in her early essays, Only Theatre Of Pain, "world peace can't be done", an anti-Village Green or a negation of sentimentality for the past or any kind of mythology about the "self", unpleasant use of hallucinogens, an affection for the dialogues of Salinger and his expression of the fad of psychiatry in the US at the time, dread, doom, apocalypse, Bladerunner, PKD's paranoia, Ray Brassier's confrontation with Nietzsche, Roxy Music, Low, INTEGRITY and most importantly, David, Zephyr, Mikey, Al and James

In short, henge beat.

Jordan:  I definitely thought there was a lot of punk elements in the new album, henge beat.  Did you guys come out of a punk background?

Daniel:  Sure, we all grew up playing music, have all played in hardcore and punk bands at some stage of our life, the record certainly reflects affection for UK punk, Rudimentary Penis and Wire.

Jordan:  What themes do you think that the album tackles?  Is there a story to it?

Daniel:  I'm not too sure I could adequately discuss what musical themes the album tackles, but lyrically the songs are concerned with sex and death.

Jordan:  I basically heard about the album from maximum rock n roll.  They gave your LP a lot of love.  How has that been?  Has there been a lot of good response?

Part of the Henge Beat Cover, but only if it were a Cube
Daniel:  I did not read the issue where they gave Total Control a lot of love. I haven't been reading music writ for a while, as I've been attempting to finish my own mag for the last year (distortcult.blogspot.com). So I'm not too sure how that has been, if that's what you meant, and whether there has been a lot of good response, I could not tell you.

Jordan:  Do you all plan on keeping making music and releasing total control stuff? (please say yes)

Daniel:  Yes

Jordan:  What’s in the future in terms of recording and touring for the band?

Daniel:  What we do is secret.

Jordan:  What's on your radar in terms of good stuff to listen to that's out or is coming out?

Daniel:  My radar has a shallow range. As far as new music, I stick with local bands I can see live. So the best stuff I've heard lately is from Dead Boomers, Repairs, Forces, The Zingers, Tax, Lakes, East Link, Lower Plenty, Ham Hock, Woollen Kits, Soma Coma, Royal Headache, Peak Twins and Nun. Everything else I listen to right now is from the 1960's (Love, Kinks, VU), or it is BLACK SABBATH. Most of my spare time is spent reading and writing, I don't do a lot of earnest tune chasing. I can tell you I'm excited to hear the new Boston Strangler LP, and Stab released a great single last year.

Jordan: Anything else you'd like to say?

Daniel:  I've been around this block twice now. Looking for something. A clue. I've been looking for clues and something led me back here. Yeah. So here I am. It could have been me, the one who was at Ringo's place when the shit went down. Hey. I know how it is. I've been there. We've all done bad things. We've all had those guilty feelings in our heart. I'm going to take your brain out of your head and wash it and scrub it and make it clean. I don't know. But I'm going to have to settle this. First we're going to check the hole and see what we can find. We're going to get nice and wet, and you're going to spread your legs. Oh, that's good. So you know me. You know my reputation. Thirteen inches of tough load, I don't treat you gently. That's right. I'm Brock Landers. So I'm going to be nice. So I'm going to be nice. So I'm going to be nice, I'm going to ask you one more time. Where the fuck is Ringo? I am a star. I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star. I am a big, bright, shining star. That's right.

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