Interview with Spaz & David Trousdale of Sphere Lazza on 2/29/96 via phone.
Jester: Are you happy with your release on Fifth Column Records, "Incinerate", and Hard Records, "The Enemy Within", and the way that both labels have been treating you?
Spaz: On the Fifth Column release, as a label, I really like them. They have done a great deal for us and we're not even one of their bands. They have done a great deal of advertising. So I can't really complain there. As far as the money issue, it really wasn't specified how we were going to get paid on our contract. I look at it this way, taxes are due really soon so I assume they will want to send us something before then. I could use the money but I don't want to come across as being really money hungry. We're in this more for the fun and the music.
Jester: On the area of touring. I knew you played a short time ago down in Orlando. Are there any plans to tour outside of the Florida area?
David: As a matter of fact we have been talking with Marketing Mania. They have been handling acts like Electric Hellfire Club & Spahn Ranch. They have been talking about sending us out on the East Coast with one of their bands, Skin Dot. Last weekend we played with them and Prophecy of Nothing from Orlando. It looks like were are going to tour later this year after the release of the new full length album.
Jester: Are you still involved with the metal band on the side Spaz?
Spaz: No! I am done with the metal band. That was a long time ago.
Jester: Is that a good riddance or rather a mutual parting sort of thing?
Spaz: I'll admit that I like to keep myself very open minded on the musical level. If you went through my CD collection you'll find a little bit of everything. I am pretty much influenced by just about everything. I like to keep an open mind. On the new album, there will be the appearance of keyboard solos and am using in a few places a blues style keyboard lead. It works really well with what we're doing. So it was more of a mutual parting.
Jester: You mentioned before about you working on a new album, could you elaborate a little more about it?
Spaz: The name of the album is, "Paradigm Shift".
David: We're trying to integrate the psychedelic experience and voudouism and show the parallels between them. We have been very politically oriented in the past and it is going to be a little bit of the same type of thing but with a little less straight forward type of politics. It is more personal. It will be a concept album. There will be a story about an individual who kind of finds himself facing this type of religious political manifestation. It is kind of an ecstatic experience.
David: Kind of like when Timothy Leary was doing the psychedelic experience. Using that and the movie "Altered State" to show what it is like to go inside one's self and find what you are looking for. Musically it will be a combination of both of our albums. It will have the melody of "The Enemy Within", but the force of "Incinerate". We will go back to using distorted vocals on a lot of things. There will still be a few undistorted tracks. We've added a guitarist as well. Our guitar played is writing some of the new stuff also. It is not your typical death metal guitar riffs. He is like a keyboard player. An atmospheric style with effects almost like a keyboard.
Jester: I could have almost have seen "The Enemy Within" as a concept album. The entire album had the 'Big Brother' motif running through it.
Spaz: That is kind of how we stumbled across the idea for the new album. We had been talking for awhile about wanting to do a concept album and we suddenly realized that everything we had written for the new album kind of fit into place. I could agree completely with your evaluation. Almost everything we've done kind of ties together and has been leading up to this new album.
Jester: You actually have two aptly chosen song titles on your previous albums which have a great deal to do with the psychedelic experience. LD-50, short for Lethal Dose 50% and MK Ultra which was the code name for the CIA organization in the sixties which tested drugs on hippies. Any particular reason behind those titles?
Spaz: I have to admit that I wrote and sang LD-50. I was just going through a magazine and it was mentioning drug testing on animals. It really kind of hit me in a strange way enough to inspire me to write a song about it. I don't really want to act like I am ignorant about animal testing because I don't really know for sure but I feel there are other ways to test products without having to resort to animals. When they are making perfumes and they spray them into the eyes of rabbits, to me that is bogus.
David: And similarly with MK Ultra, I had this same experience. I was reading an article in Rolling Stone about three years ago. They had uncovered the CIA scandal. It really wasn't anything new because there had been some books written on the topic but it was suddenly in the public eye again. I can see why it would be a common topic for a lot of experimental bands.
Spaz: I must admit that when we had written those songs were not aware that anyone else had used those titles as topics.
Jester: Nigel Ayers of Nocturnal Emissions who also wrote tracks by those names suggested that there out to be a compilation album where each band would donate a track all titled the same about a specific topic. With the intention of every band coming at the topic at a slightly different angle aimed at their own personal definition of the topic.
Spaz: That is actually a good idea.
Jester: The other track I was curious about was eMpTyVee only because I use that derogatory slang for MTV all the time.
Spaz: Dave wrote the lyrics for that track and I came up with the title. When MTV started out I thought it was a great thing. I loved all that early eighties electro pop. Back then MTV basically was music television.
David: Now they have delved into politics, game shows, telemarketing, the whole thing.
Jester: It is a huge corporate propaganda machine.
Spaz: Exactly. That is how we look at it. That was our little reasoning behind it. I don't like MTV and I don't watch it anymore.
David: It wasn't completely aimed at MTV alone either. It was more against corporate television like the nightly news. Using brainwashing as a tool to market their perspective on issues.
Spaz: In 1992 during the Presidential election. It was very slanted. You could see how people were being painted with a great deal of bias. Even if you knew nothing at all about politics you could watch MTV for a week and subconsciously you knew who you were going to vote for even if you didn't even bother to research either candidate. I think they are like that about a lot of other things.
Jester: I noticed you included your lyrics on the more recent album, but on the older release you didn't, any particular reason?
David: A lot of it had to do with budgeting. We really didn't have a budget for the liner notes.
Spaz: David writes a lot of lyrics.
David: I do write quite a bit.
Spaz: On "Incinerate" we really didn't have any idea what kind of budget we would be working with. Ken at Arts Industria kind of threw the cover together and submitted it. As far as we knew were we just going to get a single page insert. We didn't know if we would have space to include lyrics or not. All of our upcoming albums will have lyrics if we are budgeted for a booklet insert.
Jester: Skipping back a few years how did you get involved with Ken at Arts Industria to release the original cassette version of "Incinerate"?
Spaz: I bought a Signal to Noise tape prior to me knowing that Ken was in Signal to Noise and I really liked it a lot. I ended up purchasing the entire catalog. He then became interested in who I was and I sent him up a tape. Since then we became really good friends. We spent a lot of time helping each other out. We're pretty friendly guys. Laird Sheldahl of Thine Eyes just came down to visit in January.
Jester: I actually meet him and interviewed the rest of Thine Eyes back in October when I was in Portland.
Spaz: He came down and hung out for a week and we took him all over the place. Here is a scoop, he programmed one of the songs on the new album. He is a really talented guy. I just turned on my computer, keyboards and samplers and just let him go. Three hours later he spit out a song.
Jester: What was the motivation behind the Klothos side project that you released a track on the Construction No. 009 compilation?
Spaz: My motivation is when I have nothing to do which is generally never. Sphere Lazza is really starting to evolve into something different than what it was. Klothos is more or less my original musical vision. While Sphere Lazza goes down one tangent, I am going to take Klothos down the original path. I also have a New Age project. I have eight songs written, all untitled with no project name.
Jester: How many tracks do you have written for Klothos?
Spaz: I have another track finished which will be on the next Arts Industria release. I have like about five songs musically complete. 'Isolation' which is the one on the released compilation is the only completed track. I've gotten a lot of mail from Klothos which surprised me because it was just a project I was doing on the side. I was pleasantly surprised that people have written me telling me that they enjoyed the track not even knowing that I am in Sphere Lazza.
Jester: Was the project named after one of the three fates? Clothos, Atropos & Lachesis?
Spaz: Actually it was named after a Klingon star cruiser.
Jester: I kind of went and pulled a deep Greek context from it and it was off just a little.
Spaz: I am a huge Star Trek fanatic but it is interesting to know that.
Jester: The Three Fates from Greek Mythology, one weaves the cord of life, the next measures it and the third cuts it.
Spaz: I need to check into that. As soon as we're done here I am going to look that up. You've peaked my interest. However I am sad to say it is named after a Klingon ship. I do wish it was named after something with a little more meaning.
Jester: We have exhausted my little list of questions, anything else you'd like to add?
Spaz: Yes. We are now a four piece band. Alec LaFrantz plays guitar and does a lot of the song writing now. That will make a difference on the album because you will be hearing someone else besides me writing the music. We have a percussionist/drummer named Jason Smith. He plays electronic drum pads, and percussion. Most of the drums are still programmed but he actually is doing live drumming as well. It is good that we now have an actual drummer who is listening to the music.
David: It kind of adds a new dimension and depth.
Jester: What was the motivation behind adding two new members? Was it because you knew you would need more help if you were going to tour?
Spaz: Nobody ever makes a decision based on one reason. That was one reason because we thought that the band was growing and we would need help on the road. We figured that we would get the live performance all worked out. I invested a huge amount of money on lights. We are putting together this giant TV wall. Part of it had to do with that David had worked with both of the guys earlier. It was getting to the point that I felt that my song writing and electronics alone were becoming stagnant and we wanted to try something new. I am a bass player and I'll be playing that on the new album on some of the tracks. Just having these different variations to choose from adds more depth to the band.
Jester: Is this going to be the first time you will be using guitars?
David: Actually on "The Enemy Within" there were a few tracks that contained guitar tracks. One was 'Saturated'.
Spaz: It's like I said, Alex can do things on the guitar that I can't do on keyboards, like harmonize. There is guitar throughout the entire track but you don't really notice it until it is pointed out. He is also on 'Blueface'. He mixes right in with the synthesizers.
David: The difference is that he doesn't play normal crunch guitar. He is more the avante-garde type. He blends in and adds another layer of sound.
Spaz: I will say that on the new album we have done some crunch guitar type sounds. Once again it is not the death metal thing. We just want to give the music just a little more punch. Earlier on 'LD-50' there was sampled guitar, also 'Cyberchrist'. We even used a loop from a local band on another track.