Jester: How did your 1997 tour go?
Erie: Very well actually. When you're on tour and you're dealing with everything, it's really easy to think that things aren't going that well, but when you get back, and you hear some of the horror stories other people tell you about their tours, you realize that just pulling off a tour at all is an amazing feat. We had fun, we learned so much, we met a lot of really cool people, we made contacts for future tours, and generally helped give Luxt the "name recognition" that we drastically needed being a band just starting out. But again, the all important thing we got out of the tour was an education.
Jester: From what you have learned about that tour, what will you do differently in the future?
Erie: Unless you're a band that's toured a lot, and has a lot of contacts, info and a good feel for where to play in each town. A booking agent is a very necessary thing. Without someone who knows the "Industrial" type places in each town, their "good nights" to play etc. you're just shooting in the dark. And being that touring is very expensive, that's not a good idea. So working hard to get a booking agent, and working hard to keep lines of communication open with them is a very important thing.
We also learned that you must let every one of your band members know before hand that touring is about business first. The promotion of the band is the single and ultimate goal of touring. Not drinking. Not getting laid. Not having fun. Just promoting the band. If you happen to partake in the other "perks" of being on the road, great. But they're definitely a second thought.
The last thing we learned on tour is that when writing an album, as a band that plans on playing live a lot, you must consider how those songs are going to translate to a live forum. If the songs aren't very energetic, it's twice as hard to portray them live, and not nearly as fun, which also damages your live show.
Jester: What can we expect from the new album?
Erie: Energy. Every song on this album, including the slower ones, were written with the key element of raw, live energy in mind. We've been very pleased with their translation from cd to the stage, and our live shows reflect that greatly now.
As for the sound of Luxt, we have acquired a lot of new, high-quality gear, and our sound quality reflects that. But we have also paid a lot more attention to dynamics and the explosiveness of the sound: knowing when to be quiet and knowing when to ramp up into a climax. Once again, it comes back to excitement, and pulsating power behind every song to feed off of the audience in a live situation, which enables us also to feed that energy back to the audience, which as we all know, makes for a much more enjoyable live show.
Jester: You have had a number of live line-up changes. Why?
Erie: Well, Feist and Israel have gone on to work on their own projects, one of which I have done quite a bit of producing work on. Israel has been replaced on keyboards with Dave Hubbard, who also plays drums and guitars live. Phil is still on guitars, but also plays some keyboards live. Anna has taken over the bass playing duties in between singing. We have also gone back to using backing tracks on stage. This came from a realization that without a mechanical backing, it's just not Industrial. It's what people want to hear, and I don't blame them. We never started playing everything 100% live because we didn't like the idea of backing tracks. We did it because it was fun. But with the new songs, the backing tracks have been thinned quite a bit in comparison to our old way of doing things, and the sound makes us happy. Really happy.
And just to get things out in the open as well. Without trying to hurt anyone's feelings. Just matter-of-factly, Feist and Israel made touring difficult for us. They just have a different idea about what touring is. They thought, and I think they still believe, that touring is all about partying, drinking and seeing how extremely blitzed you can possibly get at every chance. I think it's about pushing your music to the masses, and meeting and talking to as many people who are interested in your music as possible. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to do as much public relations work as I would have liked, due in part to the fact that I spent a large amount of time either watching to make sure backstage areas weren't being destroyed, our equipment wasn't being stolen, and our van wasn't left outside, filled with equipment with all of the doors ajar with an open beer on the roof sitting in front of a cop car all by itself in Baltimore, or that I was recovering from the fact that I had to do 90% of the driving for various reasons. This is not a complaint, I would do it again, but not by choice. So things have changed.
Jester: The rumor mill says something about a Luxt side project. Is there any truth to these rumors?
Erie: Several actually. If you count Phil's band N-Vitro ,which contributed a remix to Razing Eden, an electronic/noise side project of Phil and Erie, Butch Grinder, and Anna and Erie's all electronic side project, Nimpf, which has already gotten some label interest, plus a few production projects as well. Nimpf is definitely our main focus as a side project though.
Jester: What was it like playing at the 21st Circuitry's 1997 label showcase, Industro-Rave?
Erie: The Industro-Raves are always fun. I do think that they might benefit in the future by including other than only 21st Circuitry bands. I know this might mean we end up not getting included, which wouldn't make us happy, but I do think there would be a much larger interest in something that included other big name acts. So much so, that it might be able to happen twice a year. Late spring would have a massive turnout in my opinion. The Industro-Rave is a really cool idea and a lot of fun, and we hope we can be a part of every one.
Jester: Will you be contributing to Newer Wave II?
Erie: Yes. We've done a few tracks, and I'm pretty sure that our version of "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats will be the track included ultimately.
Jester: Why did you choose to cover Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir'?
Erie: Well, while we were recording Razing Eden, we were watching VH1's "Legends Series" and they were profiling Led Zeppelin. When Kashmir was played, both Anna and I agreed that it was an incredible song, and that we should try covering it. Honestly, I didn't know how well we could pull off something like that with the original being such an incredible song, but overall we were very pleased with the outcome. It took me almost two hours just to figure out the chord progression of the "non-lyrical chorus" parts. It's a rather complex arrangement.
Jester: Why all of these cover tracks?
Erie: Well, covers have a theory behind them. If someone listens to your band for the first time, and they aren't familiar with your sound, maybe they won't be open to your sound, maybe they won't understand where you're coming from, maybe they are too busy hitting on the chick at the bar to give you a real listen etc. But if you play a song that they're familiar with, your chances of catching their ears is greatly increased. If you can not only pull off a cover song, but do an interesting version of it, you have a greater chance that the people listening might just "get" your sound, and therefore also stand a larger chance of gaining new listeners. So it's a marketing ploy. But it could also have something to do with enjoying "Industrializing" songs while trying to keep their original integrity. I know some people would prefer to hear a very "altered" version of songs, well, our covers are not for them. We're really into song structure, so we like to keep the artists' original intent as intact as possible in doing covers. We won't pretend to think we know how the artist "should have" recorded the original. Obviously in some way we would have had to admire their arrangement, or we wouldn't have chosen the song in the first place.
Jester: Jezabel 13, Disrepair, Razing Eden. Two out of three album titles contains biblical references. Why?
Erie: Jezabel is a character who is unknowingingly fitted with an AI brain implant as a child who is part of a story I've written called "Subcit 13.3" so it's kind of a combination of our own things rather than a biblical reference. Razing Eden is taken from a separate story I've been writing about New Orleans as a religious mecca 100 years or so from now and is now referred to as "Eden". The story revolves around different warring religious sects, hence the title "Razing Eden", or, in effect, demolishing paradise, leveling heaven, etc. Strange thing about that is, on our way driving into New Orleans, we saw a exit sign for "Eden Lake".
As for religious references on the albums, being that I write all of the lyrics, I have to say that religion in general just puzzles me. It's a man-made thing that is worshiped as if it were spiritual. Religion has become the scientification or "physical" explanation of spirituality in my eyes, and it's actually rather humorous to see all of the thousands of different versions of any one single religion that exists.
I think that religion gives God, or whatever it is, a bad name. Many bands, and I won't name names, are using the whole "satanist" thing right now in a lot of ways to play the "bad boy" role and defame the average Christian God. But I think we're mocking religion from a different standpoint: from the origin of the "idea" of religion, any religion; mocking the fact that anyone thinks that they can explain anything about what happens after you die. No one knows. No one can know. Sure, we can guess, we can hypothesize, but anyone who thinks that not only do they "know", but they can dictate a code of conduct from that "knowledge" is loopy. It's hilarious to me, so a lot of that mockery is reflected in my lyrics.
I think that spirituality is something that is quite personal, and that religion has a function as a seed for questioning in the minds of those who can eventually break free from it and find their own beliefs. I believe that there is something, but I won't arrogantly pretend that I know what it is or isn't. I'd rather base my beliefs on feelings than words. Words are just encapsulation of ideas, and I don't think you can encapsulate what I consider to be spiritual.
Jester: Who designs all of your album artwork, t-shirts, posters, etc?
Erie: Well, that's kind of a sore spot right now. Erie does all of the artwork designing of posters, t-shirts etc. BUT, on Razing Eden, our label insisted on bringing in someone else to do the artwork, or at least some of the artwork. We weren't very happy with this idea, being the control freaks we are, but we figured it better to compromise on the artwork than the sound, and thought it might be nice to see how someone else did it. Let's just say we're not as happy with Razing Eden's artwork as we could have been. The back cover was our original design and remains pretty much exactly as we gave it to the label, and the front cover is similar, but for some reason, the label insisted on darkening it a lot. We're actually very happy with the album on all fronts, but the artwork is the one area we would have preferred to have more control over.
Jester: I was looking really closely at the album covers and it dawned on me that Anna was the face on the cover of Jezabel and your face was on the cover of Disrepair. Is there a story behind this?
Erie: Actually, that's Anna on both. The front cover face of Disrepair is actually a contortion of her face from the picture on the inside of Jezabel Thirteen Three. The story is that I liked the theme, and went with it a second time. The picture on Disrepair represents the embodiment of the "personality" of a huge city or in this case, "Megaplex", which the title of the album's name was taken from the line "Factory of Disrepair" in Megaplex. That's also why there's a waterfront skyline below the face as well.
Although many of the lyrics are personal at times, or relate to the way I see things personally, many of the thematic elements are taken from the series of ongoing stories I write. Originally, Razing Eden was going to have all of its themes taken from the characters and tales behind the "Razing Eden" story, but many of them ended up coming from personal experience as well. I think it's important to have a little variety in that respect. Witchhunt, Spite, & Lies of Angels (1 & 2), were taken directly from the story, while the rest are based loosely on those ideas, or on my personal life and views. "Technochrist (Second Coming)", being that it's a remake of "Technochrist" from Jezabel 13.3, was taken from Subcit 13.3. The "Technochrist" is a character in that story. I like him a lot, so we resurrected him.
Jester: Does the club night that you run in Sacramento still continue to primarily fund the existence of Luxt?
Erie: Fund? Funny word that. Yes, Biomech still exists, but I surely wouldn't say it "funds" anything. It's still fun to do, and it's a great place for us to play shows. But funding, sadly, still comes from the day-job thing.
Jester: What does the future hold for Luxt?
Erie: Well, in the near future we're planning a midwest tour in April/May, a West Coast tour in July, and a full North American tour in the fall. We're just going to push the hell out of this cd for the next 18 months or so. Then it's back to the studio and on and on. As for things beyond that, just absolute world domination!