Interview with Kerry Smith of Piece Machine on 3/9/96 in Brooklyn, New York.


Jester: To start things off, we are going to go way back to the first tape you sent me which was a solo project called Fulcrum.

Kerry: One of many names I've used in the past.

Jester: How did you go from Fulcrum in Richmond, VA to Piece Machine in New York City, NY? What prompted the move, and how did you initially become involved with Piece Machine?

Kerry: I was going to school in Richmond, studying music. The small scene that was present there died and the semblance of a life that I had also died. A bunch of things kind of crapped out at once. So I had some family that lived outside of NYC and I decided to come stay with them for awhile. Shortly after I got here, I saw an ad in one of the music stores looking for a band member. That is a stereotypical thing about New York: starting out by reading an ad. I called the number and it turned out to be the band's manager. I listened to tape, and it was pretty good so I auditioned. I was then kind of accepted into the band. The manager was putting the entire band together until the writer, John Hopkins, came up to NYC. So, John moved here maybe a month later and we hit it off. He's the main writer but he can't play guitar, so that's where I came in.

Jester: Is any of the older Fulcrum material ever going to see the light of day now that your involved with Piece Machine?

Kerry: Yes., That's one of the things that I'm working on in my spare time, which there isn't very much of, between my job, girlfriend, and Piece Machine. My main focus for the past year and a half has been to get my career in order, and get my skills together. I've been writing more material and starting this summer I will be re-recording some of the older stuff and some new material that I'll be releasing under another name, probably, Razing Icons.

Jester: I think someone has gone and used the name Fulcrum recently.

Kerry: Well, I didn't really like it. The named that I was using in the interim was The Chaos Engine, and that I really liked. I got that from a video game. It was only made for Amiga and Atari, so I thought it was a pretty obscure, cool reference. Then Warner Music picked it up, ported it over to IBM, and ran full page ads in all kinds of magazines. So I would probably end up being sued if I used that name. I'll be using Razing Icons from now on.

Jester: You mentioned to me earlier that Piece Machine was shopping around for a potential band manager and a label deal?

Kerry: There are couple of people that are looking at, and are interested in us. Things seem to be finally falling into place. The first year we were trying to get the line-up tight, and learn the songs. The second year was us playing out and garnering a following. Now it seems like things are starting to look up for us. We've been on a couple of compilations. (COP International and 21st Circuitry) We've gotten some good press, and we've gotten some bad press which has actually gotten us a lot of good attention.

Jester: I think I saw a real bad review in Industrial Nation.

Kerry: Yes. The scene report in Industrial Nation kind of breezed us over the first time. The actual review was insulting. It was like, 'God damn all these NIN clones and why do they all have to use the word "machine" in their name?' I went and looked at all the guy's other reviews, and he was obviously into dark, ambient music, so of course he wouldn't like our stuff. I don't expect everyone to like it, and I don't really want them to. We've had some dogs for songs in the past, but I think we've filtered them out.

Jester: You posted on the net recently that you were spending a great deal of time in the studio recording in hope to release an album?

Kerry: We'd done a demo on our own. I don't think that, at that time, our skills were quite at the level that they needed to be to produce the music. I've now been working as a composer and engineer for a few years and John, the singer, has been working full time in the studio for the past year as an engineer. So we both feel a lot more comfortable in going in with a sound we want to create and, coming out with a finished product that we are happy with. So we've been re-recording the old material along with some new stuff. There is talk of putting it out as a full-length CD. We got some money from licensing a track to a CD-ROM developer to use in their catalog. That's kind of the plan. But right now, we're waiting to see if any of these offers we have from labels and management happen first.

Jester: So if no label interest occurs, it will still be released independently, but if you happen to get signed to a label you'd use the music for your first album?

Kerry: Yes. We were originally planning to put the CD out because we ran out of demo tapes and we wanted to re-record all of the old material anyway. Then all this interest started coming our way, so we decided to hold off on releasing the CD until it all panned out. We're still in the process of recording all of the music. We want to have good recordings for ourselves just in case.

Jester: Are you still pretty much a local New York band? Or have you done a few small tours to the Boston and Washington D.C. area?

Kerry: Right now it's pretty much been around New York. We're trying to arrange a few shows in Philadelphia and Boston, and once we start to do that, I have some people to contact in other cities. Basically we could play anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic area, but its just too expensive. It's hard for us to take time off and rent a van, because when you live in Manhattan, you don't own transportation, and your rent is high. We'd like to do it, but we're just waiting for the right opportunity. There are so few venues that are around for the crowds we play to, and our music has just started to become known.

Jester: You mentioned that Jason McNinch of Lick, and Van Christie had done a few remixes of some of your tracks.

Kerry: They did two remixes for us. Jason went to school with John, and to hear John tell it, he helped Jason get the job at Warzone...which I believe. After we had finished the demo, we asked Jason if he wanted to remix some tracks for us and we sent him a tape. He was working on a mix when Van Christie came into the studio and got into it. They finished two mixes and sent us back the results, which came out fantastic. They were just amazing. I also just finished a remix for the new record, whenever that will be released. It is a more dance-floor oriented mix, because I don't think we have anything that is really in that vein. We do have some things that are danceable but I wanted to do something a little more obvious. We're talking with Terminal Sect, who are friends of ours, about doing a mix as well. So hopefully, there will be some alternate versions of our material when we finally release an album.

Jester: How many demos have you actually put out? I have a copy with only three songs on it and the Industrial Nation review mentions something about seven songs.

Kerry: As we have been working on new material we've been releasing demos with whatever material we currently have available. We don't actually have any more copies of the tape demos .We just run off, on demand from industry, the three core songs that we've been using to shop ourselves.

Jester: 'My Time', 'Goin' Off' and 'Back to Earth'?

Kerry: 'Ugly' is the third song. We actually don't play 'Back to Earth' any longer.

Jester: That was the one song that I didn't like on the demo.

Kerry: We don't even play that song live anymore. I am kind of glad that we got rid of it. We have a couple of great new tracks. One of them IS kind of slow and guitar heavy,('Blind') and is something that a lot of people are not going to quite understand because it is different than all of our other songs. I think it will be nice break. A lot of the stuff we do, especially live, is really chaotic. This track is a much slower, intense type of song that will give us a break from jumping around when we perform it.

Jester: I actually managed to find the sample from 'My Time' the other day.

Kerry: "Sow the seeds of discontent, Remember to never trust anyone under thirty?"

Jester: The sample comes from the end of 'Planet of the Apes' when Charlton Heston is riding off into the sunset.

Kerry: That's interesting, I didn't know that. I knew about the Perot samples and some of the samples in 'USA' are from 'Pump Up the Volume.'

Jester: All of the press information that I've read on you band has failed to mention any musical influences ,of any kind, on your music. Has Piece Machine been influenced by anyone in the creation of it's music?

Kerry: I don't think that our influences are completely obvious. There are some things that are. John is really into dance industrial stuff like Meat beat Manifesto and Consolidated. That shows through a lot. I'd like to think that we just write music well, and don't really try and incorporate anyone else's musical style into our own. Just understand why and how they composed the music that way, instead of stealing it. A lot of people slam NIN, but I think Trent writes good material, irregardless of where he got a lot of his sound. I think his songwriting is good. KMFDM has gotten even better, especially their rhythm. If there was something we'd swipe, it would be their rhythm. Their programming is so tight. Anyone like Lord of Acid, Rage Against the Machine, yadda, yadda, yadda. I don't like to blurt out references because there isn't just one band that we're all in love with.

Jester: Does anyone else do music on the side besides yourself?

Kerry: We all kind of fuck around with our own music. The other guitarist, Karla, is really into death metal. She is also friends with En Esch from KMFDM and she used to be in Clay People.When we got our drummer, Mike, he said he was a jazz drummer who had only played in thrash bands. He is very into technical things. He is really good at keeping us on our toes.

Jester: Do you find that the band really works together well with the current lineup?

Kerry: Yes, once we've agreed on how a song should be. John basically writes almost everything and I'll come up with parts, and we'll show them to the rest of the band and bounce the idea off them. Sometimes there is friction but once we've agreed on it, we make it as tight as possible. Otherwise it's worthless.

Jester: Any finals words?

Kerry: I really got to come up with an answer to that question. A lot of people have been asking me that recently. I could say something really stupid and trite, but I won't insult your readers.


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Last Modified: Monday, 24-Sep-2012 16:44:32 MST