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Interview with Crocodile Shop - conducted by e-mail 2/2/99

Jester: What is the significance of the title of the new album "Everything is Dead and Gone"?

Len 9: Well, I interpret it as a title of rebirth if you will. Everything 'old' is Dead and Gone, and now only what's new exists. Crocodile Shop has undergone significant changes over the past year or so. It seemed fitting to title the album accordingly.

Mick: Len hits it right on the mark. We wanted an optimistic sounding title to contrast the bleak lyrical content.

Jester: How did your tour in Europe go?

V. Markus: Very well. The German fans were near rabid, to say the least. While playing one of the shows in a huge old, Communist-era hall in the former East, the audience physically pushed us back on stage for several encores, to the point where we were doing "electro-improv" songs because we ran out of "encore" material. The general acceptance was great, with the people being very enthusiastic and friendly.

Jester: How did you end having your albums released in Europe on Out of Line?

Mick: Metropolis licensed the first release "Beneath" to them and they decided to release our second records with a bonus live disc we recorded on the above mentioned tour. They also put out a few T-shirts & the "MetalWerks" remix CD. However, it doesn't look like we will ever work with them again.

V. Markus: The head of the label was a fan, who took the opportunity to license the product from Metropolis. He really felt we had something that the European fans would get into. We managed to build a strong fan base through his efforts.

Jester: Will we ever see a country-wide US Crocodile Shop tour?

Len 9: That's in the planning phase as we speak.

Mick: For the next tour we want to start out in the mid-West & work towards the West-coast & then back, so as to definitely hit there for once! We've actually done most places OH, Minneapolis, Toronto, Quebec, CT, Ottawa, DC, PA, VT, RI, and of course NYC & NJ. So it's just that Left coast we have to hit!

Jester: Why was "Soviet" released on Tinman records instead of Metropolis?

Len 9: We needed a home for all of the remixes that were piling up, and we decided to do a limited run to take on tour with us. Jeff from Tinman was doing merchendise on the tour & willing to work within our tight time schedule. Metropolis Records gave him their "blessing", so to speak, to release it. They in turn would distribute it after the tour.

Jester: How did you go about choosing remixers for "Soviet " & "Metalworks"?

V. Markus: After doing most of the remixes on "Crush your Enemies" ourselves, we really wanted to showcase other artists take on our stuff. We picked what we felt was in many ways the most different takes on our stuff, rather than remixes that weren't that different from Crocodile Shop's own versions.

Jester: What were the circumstances behind the merging of DAMn! and DMZ magazine?

Mick: Well, the basic 'concept' of the Danse Assembly Music Network is to bring all sorts of facets of this electro-underground together including Writers, Artists, Musicians & Labels. DMZ actually approached DAMn! due to the fact that they were interested in a lot of the same music as DAMn! covered. They were impressed with the overall aesthetic of DAMn! and wanted to contribute in a way which led to their content slipping into DAMn!'s layout abilities.

Jester: I have seen almost a dozen album covers attributed to DAMn! productions during the past year. How did you get involved with designing artwork and printing film output for so many bands?

Mick: We are connected to a number of bands & labels who benefit from the hard work & fast turn around everyone here at DAMn! provides. these same labels have expressed to us that they had enough of the usual excuses from the graphics/music industrys such as endless delays and mistakes. They have turned to a like-minded and over-ambitious company such as DAMn!

Jester: What does the future have in store for you side projects D!v!s!on #9 and others? Will Subliminal Gravity or the rumored project with Athan from Spahn Ranch ever surface?

V. Markus: SubGrav will emerge eventually, the majority of it being on-line now. I'm dealing with a Southern California label doing DJ-only vinyl releases to get the trax in clubs. Meanwhile, I'm still hoping to get some kind of side-project going with other artists, like Athan and others.

Len 9: I'm currently working on a project called Mortmain with JFM3. It's a much more experimental and harsh than anything we've done as Crocodile Shop. It's listenable and sometimes danceable noise.

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Mick: I will be working on a new D!v!s!on #9 CD sometime this year. Hopefully I'll have some time to get to that soon. Although the 2nd CD is still available "DubNbass:OmenII" The project with Athan never really went anywhere, we were waiting for some DAT with samples from him when the idea seemed to get dropped.

Jester: How were you affected by the collapse of Fifth Column Records?

Mick: Very badly. I was working on at least three releases for them during the time of the collapse. It really came as a downer and like all other artists on the label, they still owe me money! The proGREX.iv project CD managed to slip out just before the Fall. I am really happy Crocodile Shop decided to go with Metropolis, since FCR was one of the other offers on the table at that time.

V. Markus: The label was going to release SubGrav. So I suppose the effect was rather major to my side-projects as well.

Jester: What is your opinion of the current state of the underground electronic music scene? What do you think is the greatest problem hampering the commercial success of underground electronic music?

V. Markus The current scene is growing, again. There's a marked return to the solid foundation of electronic music, with the lines being blurred between the different genres, including techno and Industrial. Electronic musicians, whether aggro- or trippy are all realizing the commonness of the technology. It's nice to see purity of a synth and sampler replacing the need to conform to some conventional guitar and drums standard we had a few years back in Industrial. The greatest hindrance is still the relative facelessness of the music. We all know Underworld, but we could be sitting next to Karl Hyde, the enigmatic lead-singer, and never know it. MTV has a hard time ,with music that has no face, which is why Prodigy and Trent make it, but bands like the Orb are relegated to commercials. The masses need some recognizable pop-band kook types who not only do the music but are willing to prostitute themselves on eMpTyVee. Electronic music is and always will be a primarily underground form, which is fine by me.

Len 9: I thing the underground electronic scene is stronger than ever due to cheap and accessible technology and a stronger-than-ever do it yourself spirit. Many albums are conceived and executed entirely in home studios. Long gone are the $200/hour studios. As far as commercial success goes, it's no different than music all throughout history since the invention of radio sponsors. Radio stations only play what they're told to or paid to play, and the general public only listens to what the radio stations play. People who genuinely love music look further than the radio. All in all, Electro artists can revel in the satisfaction that they are cutting edge because they are, sonically speaking, light years ahead of anything that is commercially successful. That is much more gratifying to me than MTV! We are not only writing new songs, but creating new sounds, which haven't been overused for the last 75 years! In fact, they were never heard until NOW! Creation of new sounds is the ultimate. It gives something to your brain that it doesn't recognize at first, something that you created!

Jester: What artists or band would you consider you greatest musical influence?

V. Markus I still consider Depeche Mode to be my biggest influence! They were making very dark music fifteen years ago that was all synthesized. I loved the idea that they were able to create this great mood using only synths. I spent my paper-route money to buy a Korg Poly-800. This led me to listen to other all-synth bands like Skinny Puppy, also an early influence. I bought Smothered Hope on vinyl about two weeks after it was released which showes my age.

Len 9: I know it's a cop-out, but seriously, one artist or band is way too limiting. To name a few of the biggest influences, I would say Joy Division, Kraftwerk, Syd Barrett, Swans, Coil, Scorn, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Devo.

Mick: For me without a doubt it's been New Order all along.

Jester: Why this particular artist?

Len 9: It would take hours to explain their influences and concepts influencing me.

Mick: I can sum it up pretty easily: They put forth a heavy dance beat that's based on Electronic Disco and the lyrics are generally morbid as hell, but put across in an almost Pop way and their presentation of the package always is an impressive one. Depeche Mode, Cure and Skinny Puppy are all runners up, for sure.

Jester: If you could choose any one artist / project to collaborate with musical, who would it be?

V. Markus Well, after the above answer, I'd have to say David Bowie. He's arguably one of the greatest living legends of pop-music!

Len 9: Wow, that's another tough one! I guess I would have to say Michael Gira of Swans fame. He is, to me, the most versatile of experimental musicians. He can take music from chaotic noise to a tear-jerking love song within 2 bars. It would be intriguing to see how he works, and to feed off of hisinfamous range of emotions.

Mick: Brian Eno, since Dali is dead and never really did that great a job producing records anyways.

Jester: Now that you have released four albums and a three remix releases where does Crocodile Shop go from here?

Mick: More! Just more and more releases. We can only think about what new sounds and influences will be brought into the mix for the next release. To me we are still just scratching the surface!

Len 9: Well, for me, Croc Shop has just begun, so I will continue in the direction I have begun (tainting the mix with my sounds!) My studio, and future technology in general, has a lot to offer Croc Shop so it can only continue to grow.

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