Interview with Rhys Fulber of Front Line Assembly on 2/29/96

Color Photos by Karen Johanson Copyright © 1996

B&W Photos by C. Mueller

Jester: I was listening to Hard Wired and I got the impression on the album were actually previously slated to be released on Millennium. I had heard in the past that you had actually scraped a large portion of what was intended to be Millennium and I was wondering how much of Hard Wired is new material and how much of it is older material?

Rhys: All of the material is new. To me it doesn't sound similar to any of the tracks off Millennium at all. With the exception of the fact that there is guitar present on it. On Millennium most of the guitars were sampled bit on Hard Wired they are not. The songs we wrote previously for Millennium had more of a 'nice' feel to them, not anything like Hard Wired. The majority of those tracks came out on the Noise Unit record titled Decoder. That stuff is more like Eurotrance.

Jester: Are you planning to release any more singles from Hard Wired besides Circuitry?

Rhys: There is a single called Plasticity which is out in Europe and I think in America soon which isn't on the album. It is part of the same sessions. So yes we are releasing a single but it is not on the album. We kind of did the same thing on Caustic Grip with Virus. We kept it off the album to release later, this is kind of the same thing. It gives people a reason to check it out because if you release it as a single that is already on album no one is really going to care.

Jester: I had heard about the video for Plasticity on Much Music.

Rhys: Are you from Canada?

Jester: Actually no, I'm from Indiana, I just heard about the video via people that I know in the Vancouver area. We don't get Much Music down here. Our cable companies don't carry it.

Jester: I actually haven't seen the video. I've seen just about all of your older material, but not Plasticity.

Rhys: We will also be releasing a live video later after the tour. It will have some live concert footage from our German tour in October. We shot live video on a whole show. Also on the video will be a majority of our older videos, like Mindphaser. It will also include some interview material as well as a live CD that will come out later.

Jester: So this will be the second live album that you've released?

Rhys: The first one really doesn't count.

Jester: It was actually live vinyl from the Gashed Sense & Crossfire tour.

Rhys: It's terrible.

Jester: Yes, the sound quality was atrocious.

Rhys: There are reasons for the sound quality which I won't go into here but it was terrible. The new one sounds awesome.

Jester: What kind of layout will you be using on the new tour? I knew on the Tactical Neural Implant tour you had a live drummer and a wall of video screens. Are you going to do the same sort of thing on this tour?

Rhys: We are not going to have a video wall because a video wall is a mind game like you can't even imagine. We are going to have maybe some visual stuff. We are going to concentrate more on lights than we did last time. This time wer are going to have some video and some programmable lights. In Europe we had a really nice light show. We also have a drummer playing a full kit as well as a guitar player. When people hear the live record people will understand. Now we're really a live band. The only thing on tape anymore are the basslines, some of the loops and the unplayable sequences. Everything else is pretty much live. As live as Front Line Assembly can be.

Jester: Who is going to be the drummer on this tour?

Rhys: The drummer is Adrian White. The guitar who played guitar on the album, Devon, he had a project called Strapping Young Lads which was kind of a heavy metal type band. We are basically taking the drummer and guitar player from that band. Adrian White and Judd Simon will be touring with us. They also did the European tour with us and it worked out killer. They play really tight and machine like, which is just what we want.

Jester: Are you going to be playing guitar on any of the older pre Millennium tracks on the tour?

Rhys: No. The tracks off Tactical Neural Implant we don't play any guitar on. We don't cover the whole set with guitar, we just have it we it is supposed to be.

Jester: I had wondered because on Nitzer Ebb's last tour they were playing guitar on every single track even all the older tracks which had never had guitar on them before.

Rhys: It wasn't even good guitar. It was kind of wimpy, whatever guitar. We like to use the guitar for the heaviness of it, not just take up space. We play guitar on Resist from Caustic Grip. There is a guitar sample towards the middle and the end and we play that live. He doesn't play all over the song. He just plays on the Millennium and Hard Wired tracks for the most part. The only older song that we added guitar to was Body Count. On the live album that track sounds really heavy.

Jester: It sounds like your going to have a huge set.

Rhys: Yes we will be playing a lot of music. We we just hammering that all out with Die Krupps earlier today. They are coming with us on the tour as well and we are trying to figure out the entire set list because we can't move all that equipment onto some stages.

Jester: It sounds like you'll be playing a lot of older material as well as stuff off the last two albums.

Rhys: The song won't be overly long. We will be keeping it so it won;t become boring. In Europe we played the same set and a lot of people want to hear the older tunes because they like them. We keep it balanced. We play a bit off the last four albums. We basically also let the people in Europe picks songs that people might want to listen to live. We haven't tour in such a long time that we don't really have a perspective on what the fans want to listen too. Then we kind of took that into account and organized the set list with that in mind. it is pretty cohesive and it flows well. In Europe we did kind of play a long time but the last time we were there they complained that we didn't play long enough. We just don't want it to get boring. I can't watch a band myself for two hours. No matter who it is.

Jester: How do you select Numb and Die Krupps as tour mates?

Rhys: We didn't really have much to do with that. Our label, Metropolis wanted Numb on from the very inception of the tour. Our German label Offbeat figured something out with Die Krupps. I am very happy with brining along Die Krupps. The other choices we had, I didn't think they had the right kind of musical style. I actually like Die Krupps record, we were doing remixes for it last night.

Jester: I had heard about a remix album where you remixed a few Die Krupps tracks and they remixed a few of your tracks.

Rhys: The remixes sound really good. I am excited for it to come out.

Jester: On the topic of some of your other projects, I had heard that you were either just starting work of finishing work on the new Delerium.

Rhys: We just finished the music. The vocals have yet to be completed.

Jester: Will you still be working with Kristy Thirsk of Rose Chronicles?

Rhys: Yes. We have been in contact with Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance and we will be using some of her vocals on a track as well. I think that Sarah McLachlan is doing a track as well. This album is going to turn into a big scene because the last album sold so well, especially in Canada. It sold better than any of other records ever have.

Jester: I noticed that that came as sort of a surprise.

Rhys: Yes, it basically got marketed from angle that had nothing to do with Front Line Assembly, which is good because it doesn't. It appealed to people who would never but a Front Line Assembly record. Which is good. That was what always bummed me out about the side projects. We both felt like they were really different but it was just the same crowd of people buying it. Thats great but we could reach different people with Delerium. It is much easier to listen too compared to Front Line Assembly.

Jester: Are there any new Noise Unit or Intermix albums in the works?

Rhys: No. All of the recent albums were written a long time ago. The past few years we really haven't don't much with the other projects because we been busy with other things. We have been concentrating on Front Line Assembly and Delerium and I'm doing lot of other things on the side. We don't really plan on doing much with the other projects for awhile.

Jester: It just seemed that you've released a lot of stuff in the last ten years in comparison to other people in the genre.

Rhys: This is all we do. We don't have day jobs or anything. We just make music. A lot of times we just have to make a living so we'll do other projects just to make money. It was just like if you were a painter and you got commissioned to paint a portrait. Like those Noise Unit tracks that used to be Front Line Assembly tracks. This is all we do, we pretty much work on something all of the time.

Jester: On the topic of videos, where was the Millennium video filmed?

Rhys: Chicago and Seattle.

Jester: Really? I was trying to figure out where some of those barren locations were set at.

Rhys: The sand hills were in Seattle. All of the other stuff was in Chicago.

Jester: Where was the Plasticity video filmed at?

Rhys: Vancouver.

Jester: On the Synaesthesia albums that you are doing the mixing production work for Cleopatra. How much of those albums are really you and Bill and how much of it is R. Deckard?

Rhys: R. Deckard is someone we gave access to and uses loops for and mixed. Someone we were kind of helping out.

Jester: So it's not a side project, it's just production work.

Rhys: Yes, it is kind of like a favor.

Jester: The reason why I was asking was because a lot of the stuff on the two albums sounds like pieces from your other projects.

Rhys: It is all of our equipment.

Jester: You mentioned that you were working on some other extra curricular projects yourself. Are you doing remixes, playing in other bands?

Rhys: Remixing, production. Mostly working with rocks bands.

Jester: Like the stuff you did with Fear Factory before?

Rhys: Yes, like the remixes we just did for Die Krupps. I also just did some mixes for a Canadian rock band called I, Mother Earth. I mixed a single for them. I also did something for another rock band called The Tea Party which is stuff that is completely away from the genre. It's great, I like it a lot. I love to do stuff like that. I've been getting a lot of offers to produce from various places. I'm also going to be doing more work with Fear Factory in the summer time. I doing something in Europe called Nailbomb this summer, its like an industrial metal side project with the guys from Sepultura.

Jester: What about Econoline Crush?

Rhys: I just produced their records, did all their keyboards and programming. I am going to do another record for them this summer as well.

Jester: Has there been a lot of influence in the directional change in Front Line Assembly to add guitars as a result of working with a lot of these rocks bands?

Rhys: I've always been into guitar music. The main thing with Millennium was we had done the Far Factory remixes previous to that. We were on Road Runner which is a big metal label. Even back in the late 1980's I used to listen to a lot of thrash metal and didn't there was really any difference between it and industrial music other than the type of instruments used and maybe the cheese factor is a little higher in metal bands. Guitar used when executed right, the sound is pretty similar. When we were doing the songs that we didn't use on Millennium we just thought they were too wimpy. We had always thought that Front Line Assembly was an aggressive band. We thought that adding guitars made it exciting. It was something new for us and it made it sound heavier. We used the guitar the same way we used sequence lines so I didn't see it as much of a change. We had used guitar in some older tracks like Provision in the past. The guitar seems to make the music that much more powerful. We got it right on Hard Wired. On Millennium we were experimenting. Definitely on Hard Wired we fused the two together very well. We didn't think we were going to sell more records because if anything that wasn't the case. It was more like pleasing ourselves. We could have made another Caustic Grip or Tactical Neural Implant but we figured what was the point? We wanted to do something new. Hard Wired is kind of like bits from the last three albums.

Jester: Going back to Delerium. Was it your idea or Dossier's idea to release the Reflections I & II compilations with only two new tracks each?

Rhys: It wasn't our idea, that is the kind of thing that labels do. Although I think we will be releasing a collection of Front Line singles like that later. A lot of people in Europe can't buy those old singles. Most of them are out of print.

Jester: On the cover of Hard Wired, someone mentioned that the model was actually Bill Leeb, is there any truth to that?

Rhys: No. We don't even know who that is. Dave McKean did it. I think he said it was his wife. The Plasticity sleeve has pictures of us in it. They are kind of mutated and are originally from the video.

Jester: I was really impressed with the artwork for Circuitry and Hard Wired.

Rhys: Have you seen the limited edition boxed set?

Jester: Actually yes. The whole package is amazing.

Rhys: Dave has done the coolest covers. The cover for Millennium was excellent. The new Fear Factory cover was stunning. He did one for the new Skinny Puppy Brap release which is excellent as well. All of his work has been excellent.

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