Interview with Diatribe - conducted via telephone - 5/7/97

Jester: Why did it take so long for you to finally release a full length album?

Mark: It was a combination of things. We were not working on the album for all of the last two years because I was in school. School was over two hours away so for a portion of the time we were not even writing music. There was also a certain gap between the time we finished the album and the time the album was actually released. So in reality is was more like two years of actually writing the music compared to the three to four years that it actually took between releases.

Jester: Do you think that you lost some of your fans because there was such a long time period between your releases?

Mark: Possibly. It is hard to say.

Jester: Have your tours that you have been on since the album was released had decent audiences?

Mark: To be honest I didn't know what to expect since we had never played on the East Coast before. I wasn't sure if anyone had even heard of us in that part of the country. We did have some pretty good shows. I am sure we lost a few people because of the time between releases but there are probably just as many people who would want to buy it if they knew about the album.

Jester: Are you going to be touring again this summer?

Mark: Yes. We are in the process of trying to find another band to tour with. We want to tour the whole US and we are ready to tour right now. However we want to coordinate with another band to avoid touring by ourselves and being forced to play in tiny venues. The sooner we tour the better as far as I am concerned.

Jester: Is San Jose a good area of the country to be living in for the type of music Diatribe is associated with?

Mark: It is not the best. San Jose is the worlds biggest suburbia. There is a huge scene in San Francisco, but it is more Goth now than anything Industrial. However, it doesn't really matter because when we do play here we pack the venue. There are a lot of people who are really into our music locally but there really isn't a thriving scene. Then again I don't think there is a thriving scene anywhere at the moment.

Jester: Has Chase kept you up to date on the sales of your album? Do you know if it is doing well?

Mark: To tell you the truth, I don't think it is doing that well, but I am not really sure. Unfortunately the album was on the shelves in the stores an entire month before a single CD made it out to radio stations, clubs & magazines. So as far as the timing of the marketing, I don't think it went the way it was supposed to go. At this point, I think we need to tour. Then we need to advertise a lot when we tour and hope for the best.

Jester: Do you have day jobs to help supplement your music?

Mark: They don't supplement anything, they are our only form of compensation. I make money during the day and spend all of it on Diatribe in the evenings. I end up working more than I want to, so it can be hard to dedicate myself to the music sometimes.

Jester: What first lead to your decision to write music that incorporated both electronics and catchy guitar hooks?

Mark: For me it is about the overall mood. The music has a voice and an overall attitude than can come from a lot of different instruments. It is not limited to just keyboards and guitars. However we did start out as a keyboard only band. Later, when I started working with guys who played guitars, I decided to incorporate those instruments to help me achieve the the overall direction I wanted my music to go towards.

Jester: I can see your album being one of those releases that the guitar crossover crowd would really enjoy. Is it your intention to create songs that are really catchy, or is it something that just happens?

Mark: So many people keep telling me that same thing. The reason why it hasn't seemed to do well with that particular audience, is because Re-Constriction doesn't market to that type of crowd. We end up being marketed to the niche audience who doesn't like much guitar in the music.

Musically we have just developed our sound as we have gone along. We have never intentionally wrote a song a certain way to reach a specific audience. In the beginning, a melody wasn't that important in the music, but as time went on it became much more important. We ended up experimenting a lot to create thick sound textures and then added guitars. I also learned how to sing better as time went on and it all came together. We ended up writing songs based around a certain melody rather than a really cool sample like we did with some of our older material.

Jester: Do you find that it is easier to write songs now, than when you first started?

Mark: Yes. You learn and you start to try things in certain musical directions that you have never tried before.

Jester: Do you or any members of the band have any type of formal training?

Mark: I took drums when I was a kid. I did try to take keyboards lessons but it didn't work out well because I couldn't learn to read the music. I simply didn't have the patience to learn how to read music. However learning the drums was definitely a good foundation that helped me write music in the future.

Jester: I noticed that the production on this album was amazing. When I look at the liner notes, it said that you did almost all of the production and engineering yourself. Have you had a lot of previous experience with production and engineering?

Mark: I have pretty much just worked on Diatribe production exclusively. It is a combination of the studio and micing instruments more times than I care to remember. Over time you just learn the best methods to use for the type of sound you want to record. In the case of the album, most of the music was written in our home studio, and only the final mixing was done in a professional studio. The equipment in the studio really helped out a lot as well.

Jester: Are all of the guitar and drum parts on the album live as opposed to sampled?

Mark: It is a combination of both. All of the guitars are either live or looped pieces of the same guitar parts. The drums are mostly sampled, and programmed. However, on 'Junkyard', and 'Sister', there are actual live drums on the final mix along with electronics. To really mix live and sampled drums you really need to write the music in a real studio for it to sound good. Unless you have really expensive microphones and a lot of tracks to play with, it is almost impossible to do in a home studio.

Jester: How did you arrange to have Kim X from Cop International perform on 'Web', the spoken word track on the new album?

Mark: We put out our first EP on COP International so we have known her for a long time. In this particular case, I was looking for a very unique vocal sound for this track. Kim just happened to have a really unique ethnic background that worked perfectly with the song.

Jester: Of the ten songs on the album, were they written at two different time periods?

Mark: Yes. Because it took such a long time period to write the album, some of the songs were written in different groups. Most of the songs at the beginning of the album are the new songs, and those at the end are the older material.

Jester: Where do you draw your inspiration for your lyrics?

Mark: Mostly personal experience. Usually the music is written before the lyrics and the music has a certain mood that helps me visualize the lyrics. It just sort of turns into something after awhile and eventually the lyrics evolve into something with a meaning. In the past it was much more abstract but now it is much more personal.

Jester: What would you consider some of your strongest musical influences?

Mark: Those change almost on a weekly basis. It used to be hip-hop, but right now it is a lot of jungle, techno, and even some punk. Just about anything really. I don't listen to a lot of industrial music so that type of stuff really doesn't influence me much. The ideal thing is to take jungle, drum & bass and add some really simple punk guitar chords like we are doing at the moment.

Jester: Are you actually working on new material right now?

Mark: Yes. Unfortunately, we don't know when we are going to release any of it. I'd like to release another single or an EP with some of the new material but I don't know if our record label would do that sort of thing. However, I would really love to release three or four of the new songs somehow, assuming that we don't end up touring really soon.

Jester: Are you still under contract with Re-Constriction for another album?

Mark: I think we have to release one more full length album with them. I'm not sure if EP's or singles count for the sake of the contract.

Jester: What is the significance of the female that seems to grace all of your record covers?

Kevin: I wouldn't necessarily place a big significance on the artwork. It was something that just kind of happened. The first version was something that I did for myself and it kind of evolved into album artwork. Form there it kind of stuck and I have been building on the same theme ever since.

Jester: Are you still doing artwork for other bands' album covers?

Kevin: I really haven't stopped, but I haven't done much lately. However when I do artwork for other bands, I try to keep it as separate from the Diatribe material as possible.

Jester: Are you a professional artist?

Kevin: Art has been my living for the last ten years.

Jester: Have you received any professional training.

Kevin: No, it was just something that I have always been involved with. Once I got out of high school, I did a lot of skateboard graphics and logos to make money. Recently I have moved on to making album covers, and artwork for video games and magazines.

Jester: Did you enjoy touring with Skold?

Kevin: It was really different than touring with Diatribe. The shows were not really that good because the fans were not really into the music that was being played. It was because of the fact that the first half of the tour we opened for the Genitorturers and the second half was more of a radio promotion thing. We did travel in a tour bus, which was nice, but the Diatribe tour was a great deal more fun, regardless of it being shorter.

Jester: Would you ever want to tour with another band again?

Kevin: No, I don't think that I will do that sort of thing again. It was more of a one shot deal because I was really low on money and they offered me a salary for the tour. However, it was good tour experience because at the time we didn't know if we would ever tour as Diatribe.

Jester: When you tour, what do your live shows look like? Do you have any visual, films, or props? Or it is just the four members of the band up on stage?

Kevin: We used to use a lot of props and visuals. The stage used to be so cluttered that we could barely move on stage. Recently we have narrowed the stage show so that people don't get distracted by the props. However we still use lights and video when we have access to it. We have scaled it down to just the music.

Mark: We also still bring our own lights to a show because they seem to have a bigger impact than other props. When we used to use videos, people always pay attention to that rather than our performance. In the case of the lights, it just helps to accentuate our music rather than detract from it.

Kevin: We have talked about adding some props back into the live shows but it is both an issue of money and the fact that we would have to haul all of the props with us on tour.

Jester: Who designed most of the props in the past?

Kevin: We all did. We even had some outside people help us.

Jester: What would you consider you favorite song off the new album, and why that particular song?

Kevin: My favorite song is 'Lands End', because it has a good mix of guitars and slower synth sounds. 'Junkyard' is also a favorite of mine.

Mark: That track was probably one of my favorites as well until I got sick to death of it. At any given time, my favorite song is the most recent track that I have written. Right now my favorite track is 'Ultracide' which is not on the album

Kevin: I tend to like the songs which use less guitars and more electronics parts.

Jester: Going back a little. How did Lee Popa and Ogre end up helping out with production on the "Nothing" EP?

Kevin: It was just through this weird connections of friends who hang out with some weird people in Chicago. One of my friends, who is a skateboarder went on a Ministry tour and met Lee. He happened to bring along a tape of Diatribe material and he played it for Lee. Lee liked our music a lot and he came out to California to help us out because he felt that we had some potential. He also brought Ogre along to help out whom he had met during the Ministry tour as well. We've been friends with both of them ever since.

Jester: You've mentioned working with skateboarders on several occasions. Have you ever had the chance to do music for any skateboard videos?

Kevin: A long time ago, a Diatribe track was used on a Santa Cruz skateboard video. Chase was also trying to arrange a deal with another skateboard company, but I don't know if anything ever happened.

Jester: Have you ever had a desire to make a real video for one of your tracks?

Kevin: Lately, we have been talking a lot about doing a video.

Mark: We want to do a video, but we need to work out all the equipment details because we won't have a lot of money to spend on the project.

Jester: Is there anything else you would like to add in conclusion?

Mark: Just that our music doesn't fit any of the normal stereotypes. We have heard from people who normally don't listen to this type of music, who have really enjoyed our album. So please don't rule out our music just because we happen to be marketed to a certain audience of listeners. Give our music a listen and you might be surprised at what you hear.

Kevin: Please go check out our web site. It is an official site now and we hope to get audio samples up on the site really soon.

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