Interview with The Aggression on April 2, 1996 in New York City

Jester: Let's start off with everyone introducing themselves so that the readers can have an inkling as to who you all are.

Tom: My name is Tom aka Whit. I am the guitarist, occasional bassist, and the snappy dresser in the band.

Mark: My name is Mark aka PH7. I play guitars and sing on a few tracks.

F.J.: My name is F.J. aka Hype Factor. I am the vocalist, play the bass guitar, and do far too much programming for my own good.

Jester: What is the deal behind the stage names that you are now no longer going to use?

Mark: We just do it.

Tom: We don't just do it, because I didn't choose my nickname. I don't go up to people and say that my name is Whit. F.J.'s name, "Hype" stemmed from the fact that he blows everything out of proportion and makes it a lot bigger than it really is.

Mark: I was given my nickname before I was in the band so it wasn't my fault.

F.J.: Everybody who hangs out with us just has a nickname. You already came with one so we can't make one up for you!

Jester: Could you go into a little detail on how you got involved with Chris Randall of Sister Machine Gun and ended up in Chicago at Warzone Studios with him doing production on your last demo?

F.J.: The whole Warzone idea came long before we even met Chris. We had started recording an album called "Inevitable" and had all the electronics laid down. About ten or twelve songs in all. We were thinking about going to mix it in Chicago at Warzone. Through the wonderful world of cyberspace, I struck up a friendship with Chris, who got us a good deal there and offered to help out. Before we got to Chicago, all of our material was recorded on a 16 track. They don't have a 16 track at Warzone, So we ditched the whole album to do a new demo to secure a contract. Some of "Inevitable" may see the light of day again, but not likely. The songs you heard on the original set of demos were from that album. Only two tracks on that demo were never truly finished. At that point, 1994, we really didn't know how to record this kind of music properly. So instead of doing an album that wasn't recorded as well as it could be, we choose to scrap most of the older material and start from scratch with a new demo. We had actually preprogrammed most of the older stuff on disk before we had got there but our old keyboardist had fucked it up and we took an extra day of pre- production with Chris sequencing the three songs ("ARENA 85", "DISPOSABLE MEMORIES", and " EVIL'S CROSSING")

Jester: You were telling me earlier that the name of the new album will be called "Icon OO".

F.J.: But you can't say why it will be called that! That could change as well...

Jester: You said that the new album has actually already been programmed, correct?

F.J.: Not really, but we do know what all of the songs are going to be. Everything is written. The three of us have played it all in a live atmosphere before. We spent all of last weekend working on more material. We just finished most of the sampling for it. When writing, we first load all of the sounds into the K-2000 and make loops. Then we create the song structure and jam it out for a few weeks, eventually playing live alongside the DAT. I would say that everything should be ready in another couple of weeks if we have to go into the studio to record. If Jared can ever tell us which Ministry song we can cover for the 'With Sympathy' tribute, we can also write that and record that track as well. We just finished the last song for the album last night, but we're gonna write more material.

Jester: You mentioned something about producing a Quicktime video for Whit's sister?

Tom: Yes, she had to make a thirty second film for a multi-media class. We had nothing else better to do. We sat there and jammed out half of the new songs acoustically for her video.

F.J.: It was funny, I did the Chris Connelly style vocals to the music. We're gonna try and get it on the Web page so people will know we have a sense of humor. I want to fuck around more like that playing our music acoustically to hear what it would sound like without computers. Did you manage to make it to the Acumen acoustic show?

Jester: No, Jamie put me on the guest list, but I couldn't make it. It wasn't supposed to be anything serious in the first place. The idea was if you broke up into fits of giggles halfway through the set that it was okay because they hadn't ever played their stuff acoustically in front of a live audience before.

F.J.: This album is going to have some experimental stuff on it. It is not going to have any acoustic songs, but there are going to be some unconventional electronics on a few tracks. Just some random noise with a beat and them playing acoustic guitar somewhere in the background. The track that Tom sings ("PERMANENT") is more of a spoken word thing with non traditional electronics behind it. It sounds like Vangelis with guitars, it'll open the album.

Jester: When you said that you 'scrapped' all of that older material, did you mean that it would never see the light of day, or are you going to ever resurrect some of the tracks that you didn't save on a future release?

F.J.: Anything that was previous to Warzone we are not going to do anything with, except what's on the demo.

Jester: How many new songs have you written for the upcoming album.

F.J.: There will be eleven on the album, but we'll have written maybe 14 or 15 by the time we hit the studio. There are going to be two or three hidden tracks. Each of us are doing a sort of a moody ambient electronic track on our own. Mine is finished. You know how Sister Machine Gun put 'Strange Days' before the first track? We are going to try and do something like that, but in the middle of the album. We want to try and design it so that you have no idea that the tracks exist, unless you happen to go back a track into the hidden tracks by accident with a scan or select. If we choose to do it that way, otherwise we might use the tracks as filler spaces like Chemlab's 'sutures'. A lot of the album is much slower than before. When you hear it you'll notice that the guitars are not as prevalent in the mix so the album will flow nicely between the main tracks and the stranger stuff we choose to put on it. One of the songs, "COCKDIESEL" is sort of a half paced guitar track with a piano solo in the middle. We might also do a remix album or single if we can.

Jester: That's what I liked about the house version of the track you played for me earlier ("DISPOSABLE MEMORIES", remixed by the band with Jason McNinch). It was so distinctly different from the original version of the track that you might be hard pressed to make a comparison.

Tom: That's what we like about it also.

F.J.: That was the entire idea. The stuff we are doing now is a lot more dance oriented, which is why we came up with the idea of a remix album. I don't want to be classified as just a "guitar" band. The whole thing about the remix album or EP is to release a collection of tracks remixed by artists who create a remix that sounds totally different that the original version.

Jester: You trying to get people outside your specific industrial genre to do the remixes?

F.J.: Right, if I was to get someone off Fifth Column to do a remix, I'd get someone like POD or Cameron Lewis of Ipecac Loop to do it. Because they don't do guitar industrial, and it would make the remix that much different from the original version. My idea as a programmer, for the stuff that was not experimental or slow - the standard style of Aggression track, I wanted them all to be remixed into something extraordinarily different than their initial form. Right now were still trying to find the correct level between the guitars and the electronics in our music and to find our own unique sound. I think we're getting really close on this album. People who know us are gonna be really surprised when they hear just how electronic this album is while still retaining the trademark aggression guitar sound.

Jester: The initial impression of the demo that you played for me earlier is that each track begins and ends really well. Kind of like the way Front Line Assembly has the elaborate header and trailer for each of it's tracks. As for the rest of the track, you've moved away from utilizing the guitar at the forefront of the mix and have relegated it to act as more of a harmonizing tool rather than being in your face. It ends up sounding that much better because of it.

F.J.: The newer stuff that we just finished writing is even more like that.

Tom: For example the song we were working on yesterday (tentatively titled "SEASON OF TERROR"), I was actually sitting down next to the computer while F.J. was working and thought of a guitar section that you wouldn't want to appear on the track because it would drown out all the programming. I wrote most of the guitar parts to be use as back- ground filler, not as an annoying riff that just gets played over and over again in the foreground. I wanted to just put the guitar parts in and mix them real low. The layering on some of the new tracks is nothing like any of the older material.

F.J.: The old demo sounded too thick. The new stuff is nothing like that, despite having much more going on. A lot of the change is because the old keyboardist Ash wasn't involved in writing any of the new material, and now Mark and Whit have written a great deal more of the material than they ever have before because of it. Last weekend I got so much work done because I had the extra introspective of Whit in the writing process and as such, the tracks we finished sounded a lot different.

Jester: When was the last time you played live?

Tom: Last summer we played with bands like Clay People and Piece Machine, but we haven't played since then. We've just been so busy writing new material, working, and graduating that we haven't had time to play live. We only barely have the time in the evenings to write new material not to track down venues to play and rent a van, and all the shit that goes along with playing live.

Mark: We also want to finish recording all of the new material because it is so much different than the older stuff.

Tom: If we played a live show with half of the older material and half of the new material it would sound like shit. We want to finish up the album and play all the new material live when we perform again. The older music just pales in comparison to the new material. If we played the new stuff next to the crap we played live in the past the crowd would hurt us.

Jester: How is the music scene in New York?

Tom: Any scene, be it industrial, hardcore, punk, grind, is terrible right now.

F.J.: It's time for another musical revolution to get all the scenes off their ass. I think that the new Skinny Puppy album is going to do for the industrial genre what Ministry's "Land of Rape and Honey" did in the past. The whole nineties industrial scene needs a swift kick in the ass to get it moving again. "The Process" will be seen as much more of an influential album in ten years than anything released by Nine Inch Nails. I tend to think that industrial types are mature Goths. I have a feeling that a Gothic element is going to seep back into the industrial movement, even in our own music. We have a ballad for christs sake that we might put on the new album.

[ The remainder of the interview evolved into a 'State of the Industry' discussion on the direction of the industrial genre and strayed away from anything pertinent to the band and thus was cut to protect the band and the innocent.]

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