Jester:How did the tour go?
Tom: It went well, it was too short, and the crowds were small in some places, but that's not different from what I expected. Our fans are really into it though, and their enthusiasm is motivating. Kind of strange to see all these people you don't know from Adam, and they totally know all the music. As things have expanded, that's really the most intersting thing. Seeing who this all has reached.
Jester: What does an Alien Faktor live show look like?
Tom: The last tour was very stripped down. We have used videos, projections, lighting, smoke, the usual trippy stuff, but this last tour was really stripped down. There were four people in one truck, so we couldn't do much additional stuff.
Jester: Who else is in the live band besides yourself?
Tom: Lars Hansen (from Oneiroid Psychosis) does keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals, and Mike Hunsberger is my full time guitarist.
Jester: Did you record any of the live performances from the tour to possibly use later like you did on "Listen!"?
Tom: No. The last set we did was really more of a "rock" set. I would like a live document of that, but it would be too complex to record the way I would want it.
Jester:What motivated you to form Decibel Records? Why did you expand with the creation of Feedback records?
Tom: I have told this story so many times, and its not really very intersting. I started Decibel as a vehicle for Alien Faktor. Now Feedback addresses the noisier, more psychedelic, less dance oriented side of that.
Jester:Has working on the label taken time away from your music, or has it simply allowed you to find more outlets to sell your music?
Tom: Interesting. Actually, I'd have to say both. Certainly working with great bands like Oneiroid Psychosis, and even Severed Heads has increased my contacts and distribution, it is a tradeoff. I am just now, after several years of trying to contain this beast, beginning to take time off, to work on my own music. It is a totally different process than I am used to, and quite frankly, we'll see how well it works out.
Jester:What is your favorite release on your record label?
Tom: Thats a really tough call. I am one of the few label owners who won't release anything unless I really like it. That means there is a tight quality control. I don't even care if it will sell. If I like it, I put it out. Period. Fortunately, a lot of people seem to agree with this point. So naming a favorite is like picking from some of my favorite albums. I do think the latest Oneiroid Psychosis is my best production to date, and their songwriting is pretty epic.
Jester:When did you first start writing and composing music? What motivated you to write music in this particular genre?
Tom: As long as I can remember I have been dabbling with musical forms in some way. I got into computer programming in like 1979 or something, but I didn't actually work with synths or programmed music until about 1986. The early music of SPK, Whitehouse, Skinny Puppy, and Foetus were big influences on me. They created a zone, an atmosphere that has not been heard in other genres of music, I think. That is what spoke to me. The excitement that I could participate in that was uncontainable. I became obssessed.
Jester:While a large portion of your songs don't have lyrics, the most profound songs seems to be those that do. Where do you draw your lyrical influence from?
Tom: Usually I find myself under a certain amount of mental pressure, and all of a sudden this stuff starts pouring out. I've recently discovered a bunch of stuff about automatic writing, and I laughed, because thats what I've always done to get the best lyrics.
Jester: My favorite Alien Faktor track is 'Ego Death'. What is that song about?
Tom: I really prefer to let songs stand on their own, but in this case, I'll do a bit of explaining. I won't get too specific. The reason is, I think things connect with people because of their own perception. Imposing your own reality over the top of that can ruin the original feel someone has for a song. I know great works of art and music have been that way for me. Ego Death, and large portions of Desolate, were written at a truly low point in my evolution as an individual. I was basically hitting bottom on tape, and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders (of course self- imposed) The whipping boy reference is an ancient one that refers to being scapegoated, villified, and generally the song is about looking back on my life thus far and seeing death ahead of me and feeling a tremendous amount needed to be done. At the time though, it was pouring out a lot of negativity.
Jester:What is the scene like in Northern Wisconsin? Is LaCrosse still the best place to see live bands?
Tom: I don't know. I live in Milwaukee, and just try to stay out of public. I'm really not a big scene guy anymore. I have too much to do.
Jester:How did you meet Dan Streng, the graphic artist for most of the Alien Faktor releases?
Tom: In art school. Dan is an incredible graphic designer, 3D computer modeller, and industrial designer. I really like the feel he has given a lot of my work. He also does covers for the comic book Scud:-The disposable Assassin
Jester:What does Alien Faktor as a project and as a name mean to you?
Tom: It is an extension, a slice of myself. Pure and simple.
Jester:Your music is very diverse, ranging from caustic electronic nausea (i.e. noise), to almost club-like dance material. Why do you write such diverse material?
Tom: Because I can't stand repetition. And no matter what anyone tells you, consistency is just a marketing tool. It is fucking boring to do, and insulting to the intelligence of the fans of music. I like being totally creative, and never once worried about how the diversity would be perceived. I think the fact that a lot of people have clued in to it says a lot about this genre and the music industry in general right now. I could write a whole album of Ego Deaths, and ultimately that would be a lot easier than changing every element over and over, but I wouldn't like it, and I'm a selfish bastard.
Jester:How did you meet and arrange for bands like Apparatus NC, Hate Dept, Spahn Ranch, & Decree to remix your material on Final Expenses?
Tom: I hand picked em all. Some were just a phone call, saying hey, I like your new album, wanna do some work for me? Others were long time friends. All of them were people that I felt were extremely competent, and that I wanted to represent Alien Faktor. Again, it was a decision about artistic freedom, and I felt these peole would get out what I wanted.
Jester:What is your favorite song you have written and why that track?
Tom: The first thing that comes to mind is 'Dawn' from "Final Expenses." No one pays much attention to it, but to me it is a transendental piece of music. That is something I would like to do more of.
Jester: When you sit down and start writing new material, where do you usually begin?
Tom: I'm not sure. It is different for each song. Sometimes I am motivated by any single element. It never goes the same way twice. A lyric may set me off, a sample, or other stuff. It is always different.
Jester: Why did you choose to release the obvious non-industrial Machine that Flashes project on Decibel Records?
Tom: Because it's really good. And I guess, ultimately I have been somewhat disillusioned by the narrow mindedness of some of the "industrial" scene. I thought it was about individuality. Now I guess I have a different opinion, which I don't care to go into. I'm not saying that Decibel is changing focus, were not. But I thought that MTF had a perspective that Decibel should support. And I feel that a lot of people should as well.
Jester: Are you already working on new Alien Faktor material?
Tom: Always, I have a whole album "Arterial Spray and Cattle Mutilations" finished, and another "chaosfear" about halfway.
Jester: How has the press response been to your releases? Obviously you know my opinion, but I'm curious about other people's perceptions of Alien Faktor.
Tom: Overall good. I don't really pay too much attention. I
can't concern myself with what others think about my own exorcism. I don't do
it for them, so ultimately if they like it, thats nice, but if they don't well
I guess I just don't care. I am my own harshest critic anyway. I could go on
and on about whats wrong with all my records. I think that's true about a lot of