Interview with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh - conducted by telephone 9/16/96

Jester: How does it feel to be only 27 years old and be responsible for over forty separate musical releases amongst your various musical projects?

Justin: Is it actually that many? I was talking to someone about this same issue the other night and how I really should be in my mid-thirties with the amount of material that I have been involved with. That is only counting all of the music that had appeared on record since I was sixteen. The one bad side is that I really do feel a great deal older than I really am. It it crazy when I actually think about the volume of material that I have written. The problem is when I write so much material, it is hard to just sit back and realize just exactly how much I've truly done. Any time I seem to have a new product being mastered, I have always been in the studio writing something else. That is real excitement for me, just waiting for something new that I have written finally being heard by the public. Especially if I've take some risks on the new material. I never really ever give myself the time to just back and rest.

Jester: Is there any sign of you ever slowing down?

Justin: To be honest my schedule gets heavier and I do more all the time. Each project becomes more of my own as time progresses. Now each project has grown into it's only little world. Some of the material is so radically different that the audience who buys my record isn't even aware of the other material that I've been involved with. Techno-Animal in Europe is marketed towards a techno dance crowd and most people would not even realize that I am the same person behind Godflesh. That is very cool in itself. Creating and listening to music has always been something very exciting for me so I really enjoy that kind of thing. I have to admit that my music is a very singular obsession in life.

Jester: How has running Headdirt Records changed the way you look at music?

Justin: I've pretty much wrapped up the entire Headdirt Records issue. Not because it was a bad business but I don't have time for it because there is so much music that I want to release. I do have a new label at the moment which is called Low Fiber(sp?). It is a techno 12" label only. It is a very underground, dark, threatening type of music that you might not even hear in the usual club scene. I am having much more fun running that than I was running Headdirt because Headdirt Records was primarily a guitar music label. My patience for that type of music has pretty much run out with the sole exception being the music that I am writing in that genre. That scene has really dried up in my opinion so that was why I went into a vinyl only techno type direction.

That is the current area that interests me the most and allows me the most freedom to work closely with other artists. In fact the label is so small that it doesn't even operate in a 'business' type sense. I've never wished to run a large label because i really don't like that sort of thing. I'm at odds with the business, but I like to release records, so if I can release them myself, for myself than I'll do it. I really enjoy the control and hands on aspect. When it comes down to making 'business' type decisions I don't really want to have to deal with that at all. I've had all sort of bad experiences with that and I never want to be the one dishing out the shit like most labels seem to lately. Obviously most of the projects that I do in comparison to Godflesh are quite small, so this type of arrangement is perfect for me.

Jester: Can we expect a tour with the release of the new Godflesh album?

Justin: Yes! At least everyone is hoping so.

Jester: Have any type of formal offers been made yet?

Justin: There have been all of the usual offers but nothing that I am 100% comfortable with. Initially we wanted to go headline a tour in the US for the first time. We want to at least play for an hour or more and give people a real taste of the band for the first time. No one wants to see us once every two years, playing for thirty minutes, playing for some band they could not give a shit about. On the same token, every label wants us to go out out and sell them more records and as such expect us to play a type of support position again. The supports we are being offered right now don't make any sense to us. We are really particular about who we play with this time out. On a personal level there are a lot of bands who we get along really well with but on the musical levels there is an extreme clash. There has to be some type of connection besides the band loving us. That has always been the first stipulation of touring with a band, the fact they they really enjoy our music. We will only open for someone if they request us and our music is somewhat similar.

The problem at the moment is that drummer in the band has left to play for Primus. We've just picked up a new drummer, Tim Parsons, who played for Swans and Prong. Now we can't immediately tour because Ted has 'just' joined the band within the last few days. We are still working out all of the details. There was supposed to be a tour at the end of October with The Genitorturers. Personaly I know them really well but their show really doesn't mesh with anything that we do. I don't think that it would work out very well so I am still in search of a 'perfect' bill at the moment. Obviously time is against us because we have to come out and play with the record is new. However, we don't have any serious commitments made of any kind yet.

Jester: You always seem to have a lot of problems whenever you tour. I remember the mishap back in 1992 when you were opening for Skinny Puppy.

Justin: We did play 75% of that tour even though we missed the first 25% due to bullshit immigration problems. That particular issue was because they were changing a lot of laws at the time and it was our bad luck to be caught in the middle. All of that is rooted to the fact the first time we ever came to the US to play in 1990 we arrived without a work permit of any kind. The few shows that we were suppose to play in Boston were all done informally and we had no sort of legal method to play those shows. We promptly got kicked out of the country without even playing. The problem was that no one had ever bothered to inform us about the formalities. We were actually interrogated in a serious fashion which included swearing a formal oath. We were treated liked terrorists and then immediately put on a plane back to England. So every time we have come over since we have had that extra obstacle to climb over to get into the country.

Jester: Why did Brian choose to leave the band after only playing on one tour and one album?

Justin: Our relationship with him was very strange to begin with because he is essentially a session drummer. For us he wasn't because we could not offer him any type of monetary endorsement. He did it for the love of the music and because of our friendship but he would not commit himself to anything permanent. He is the type of drummer who can drop a loop on a Nike ad and earn a quick $5000. He doesn't need to slug around venues or play small shows because he is extremely talented. So that was a bit of a weird point between us from the start.

He has always performed 50% financially and 50% out of love for the music. I've always performed entirely for the music and have never cared about the money. It's a small wonder that I've actually made any type of money of my music at all. It's never been anything that I've ever strived for. The case with Primus was that they were the people who he spent the most time hanging around with, essentially his buddies. When he toured with us during "Selfless" he mentioned that Primus had initially asked him to join then but he had already made the commitment to us. It's not like he was tied to us in any formal fashion.

The thing about Ted Parsons is that he really loves the band and he has a vested interest in our music. he really enjoy what we are doing and wants to help us. For this record having a live drummer is the most important thing, so having someone in the band like Ted is very important.

Jester: So why do you have so many different and varied musical projects?

Justin: For me it is the way the music falls on people's ears. For projects like Godflesh, people still consider is a winning proposition regardless of the varied scope of the music. Obviously it is a very singular, hard core sound to it, but there is so much more outside of that genre that goes into it. A lot of it has to do with my listening tastes. I have always listened to a broad range of music and was bright up to appreciate all forms of music that it has carried over into how and why I write my own music. My parents always listened to anything that motivated them without ever having to listen to a particular style. They were never obsessed with a singular segment of music.

That is why I make so much music because I am so dissatisfied with the singular facet of music these days. For me it is very integral to my existence. I need to satisfy all of the internal, personal requirements for myself with the context of writing my music. There isn't a single day where I listen to one single form of music. Music as a language is very broad and doesn't have to exists into one context. However I do like to work within a particular context or style and be very direct with that project.

Jester: By that same token it is really evident how much you've grown as an artists within a single context since I started listening to your music in 1992.

Justin: There is a great deal of varied musical input on this record just like you said. I have always thought about my music at a very personal level so that it why I always try and stretch the boundaries of a particular project. I like to keep projects like Godflesh as far from being derivative as possible. Purely because it is self drawn and created from so many varied sources. The record has been the best received album in years and I attribute it to it's varied scope. I am really happy about that because that is all I want out of music.

Jester: Do you fell that political and societal influences affect the way you write your music?

Justin: Yes. Especially years ago. Now it has become such an introverted activity it has become very much outside of anything that isn't very personal. Over the years there has become a process of locking ourselves away from the outside world whenever we record and this album is no different. It is all really self indulgent. Most of my music is purely self indulgent anyways. I try to avoid talking about anything that extremely personal but obviously we can't avoid all outside influences. We all can't help being aware of out environment. As it is Godflesh has always dealt with resignation type issues.

I've always stressed that no matter how hard it appears, Godflesh is not a dogmatic music. Musically is it, but lyrically it is not. I am just not interested in sloganeering any longer, I did that sort of stuff when I was in Napalm Death and I feel that it was a very primitive musical outlet. That all came from being over obsessed with punk rock as a kid. We've matured since then so we have realized that we can't really change anyone but ourselves with our music.

Jester: Throughout all these years of writing music have you established any type of formal methodology that you use to compose your music?

Justin: The initial starting point can be quite rigid, but then we try to get as far outside that point as possible. We still try to keep entact our original intentions but we want to encompass many different elements. A Godflesh track can be very simple to write. Sometimes I can just pick up a guitar and search for an element that means something to me. Then I work until I comes up with riffs and other more solid items. Only on my other projects is there very obscure type of music being made. Yet in those cases it has been a very conscious decision to work that way. I use those projects to get away from the rigidity of Godflesh. I enjoy woking in areas that are really loose to avoid feeling constricted. All of the limits within Godflesh are really self imposed to stay within a certain set of strictures. That is the point of Godflesh anyways.

Jester: Are you a formally trained musician or are you self taught?

Justin: I am totally self taught in every area. I play most instruments as well as enginer or produce and not a single elements has come from training. The only person who taught me how to play the basics was my step father. At the age of ten, I had become obsessed with playing punk rock so he taught me how to play the three important chords. That was the extent of any of my training. I discovered the basic essence of punk rock at the age of ten by knowing those three chords. I went along on my own from there. I am really glad for that because I have found so much more imagination in other people who learned that way. For me every experience has always had to have been hands on and self taught.

Jester: In there anything you'd like to add in closing?

Justin: Hopefully everyone will come and see us live when we finally tour.

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