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Interview with David Thrussel of Black Lung, Snog & Soma - conducted by phone 6/5/98

Jester: I know you are playing a few live dates on the East Coast. Any chance of a Snog/Soma/Black Lung tour for the entire US?

David: I am planning a total of three dates. Washington DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. I want to play more shows but I could not fit them into my schedule. I made a commitment to be back in Australia so I could only fit in a few live shows and bit promotion while I was here.

Jester: The new Snog album "Buy me... I'll Change Your Life" seems to be heavily influenced by classic Country & Western. Is it due to your current fascination with Lee Hazelwood?

David: I warned you that I was a huge Lee Hazelwood fan, but no one took me seriously. If you listen closely to the last half of "Dear Valued Customer", you can hear quite a few slow, electronic, Countryish songs there. So I didn't think that this album was that drastic of a change for me.

In the past Snog has written a lot of dance floor material and while it has been successful, I kind of felt that I needed to write something different. I intentionally try and do something new with every Snog release. I do not want to get caught up in the musical trap of remaking the same album over and over. This is the key reason why it took me more than three years to write and release this album. I wanted to wait until I had something new to say and a new way of saying it.

This time I wanted to really make sure that the songs were the core focus of the album. I wanted to focus on very structured and traditional song writing. I think that good song writing is a dying art in the genre of music I am involved with and that is a shame.

For this album, the lyrics came first and the music was totally written around their framework. It was certainly a different way of writing music than I have done in the past, but I was aiming for a very precise and tight collection of tracks.

Jester: Why did you decided to cover 'Make the Little Flowers Grow'? Why that particular Lee Hazelwood tune?

David: Mostly due to the lyrics. That track is from the first solo Lee Hazelwood album called "Trouble is a Lonesome Town". It was originally written in 1963 as a Country concept album. Each song has a little story and this track spoke to me.

I happened to be listening to the track while I was in the middle of writing the new Snog album and it spoke to me. I ended up writing the lyrics for the track in my notebook alongside all of the other lyrics I was working on and they seemed to fit so well together.

A friend of mind did make the statement that this is the most depressing Snog record I have ever written and the only message anyone can derive from this record is that at least one day you will die and that will be you salvation. I thought that opinion was a bit bleak but it did fit the mood of that cover song.

Jester: Was "Make the Little Flowers Grow" released as a single?

David: Yes, it was released in Australia. We are tossing the idea around for the next single to be released in North America, but I don't know what it will be yet. I definitely enjoy the contrast of the happy music and the somber lyrics for that track, but I don't know that Metropolis does. I think the label wants to release either "The Human Germ" or "The Ballad" as the next single.

Jester: Why did you decide to write a real ballad?

David: I had to. The temptation was just too great. So I figured if I was going to write a ballad for the first time, I was going to have to call it "The Ballad" to be honest. I knew people would see the track title on the record and would assume that it wasn't a ballad, but I tricked them and wrote a genuine ballad for the album. That will teach people to second guess me.

I wrote that track because I really enjoy those spooky 1960's Western ballads. I really enjoy the classic Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra tracks like 'Sundown' or 'Sand'. Obviously I had to work in a bit of a Spaghetti Western influence and some odd electronics. Lyrically the song is very critical about our predicament as a species on this planet, which still fits within the usual Snog theme.

Jester: Are there any plans to re-issue older Snog albums?

David: It is something that Metropolis and I are thinking about. Originally the "Remote Control" EP was meant to please people asking for re-issues. However, "Lies, Inc." and "Dear Valued Customer" are still theoretically still available in the US via Machinery Records, so I don't know if we can release it. Eventually I hope it will happen, but I cannot make any guarantees.

Jester: The Black Lung album "Psychocivilized Society" has been out quite some time on Nova Zembla in Europe. Will Metropolis ever be releasing it domestically?

David: The album has been out six months in Europe and I have been so busy writing this Snog record and touring with Black Lung that I haven't had time to even think about it. I guess I have been a bit of a slacker since that album has been the most successful to date. Actually, there is a brand new Black Lung record that just came out called "Extraordinary Popular Delusions". The European tour I just finished was in support of that record.

Jester: "Psychocivilized Society" is one of the most noisy Black Lung releases I've heard. Why the directional change to dissonant chaos?

David: Abrasive sounds are just what I am interested in when I write Black Lung material. I definitely want to generate a different atmosphere with that project than with Snog or Soma. I tend to write Black Lung material as my little audio playground. I tend to throw together several hundred different sounds when I am writing a track and collage them all until my systems crash. As soon as my samplers, synthesizers, and computers all crash because I have filled them so full of sounds, then I know that the track is complete.

Jester: Why did you decided to use so many tracks from "Rhic-Dom" and "Uncomfortable Questions For Comfortable People" on the new album?

David: Those singles were only released in Australia. Nova Zembla is a German label and they didn't want to release singles for the album so they convinced me to use material from some of the EP's on the full length. Originally "Psychocivilized Society" was going to be a live album derived from about 50 DAT tapes I had recored during performances, but I felt that the sound quality of the live material wasn't good enough. So I structured the music for the album in a similar vein to the live material I had been performing. I very deliberately constructed the album as if it was meant to be live.

Jester: What happened to the IMCC web site? It disappeared? Did the powers that be finally place you under their control?

David: The web server is down and it has to be moved to a new provider. The site has been down for the past two months since I have been out of the country. It will get fixed when I get back home. I don't run the web site myself but I direct the updates and changes.

Jester: What do you have planned for Soma in the future?

David: I have been very busy with Snog, but Pieter and I have a rough plan to work on a new Soma record as soon as we both are free. We are planning on getting together later this year after we are done promoting other projects.

Jester: I know you are a member of MACOS which is an organization against the copyrighting of samples. Why did you choose to join MACOS?

David: There are a couple of different reasons. The first is that I use a large number of samples from other sources and I don't want to be a complete hypocrite about it. I don't want to be like U2 and sample other people but then turn around and sue you if you sample from them. I think it is only fair to let people sample from our records.

In fact sampling from other bands is kind of fun. For a while Atom Heart and I were sampling each other back and forth for a few releases. I used some samples from an Atom Heart track that ended up being used on a Snog track from "Dear Valued Customer". Atom Heart got a copy of the record and composed a track comprised of material he had taken from my album. It was all done in good taste and was very fun.

The second point is really a moral issue. We live in a society where we are totally bombarded by media, advertising, and news crap. Yet for some bizarre reason, it has been assumed that broadcasters and advertisers have a right to assault us with their medium without our permission. 99% of the media is equivalent to audio and visual pollution. I think it is a very lousy assumption that these people think they should be allowed to bombard us with all these lies.

So I think that ethically and fairly, I have a right to reuse and reinterpret all of that media. I think I have a complete right to repackage all of this crap into something a little more meaningful. This doesn't apply to just the mainstream media, but all kinds of media. I don't have a television myself, but I spend a great deal of time in airports and I am subjected to a great deal of lousy television when I am there. Whenever you ride a bus in Australia, the driver has the radio playing all sorts of commercial crap.

In the end, I think that sampling is a form of self defense. I subscribe to the idea that Negativland has promoted, that once something has been broadcast, it belongs to the public and anyone can use it anyway that want. To me it is just common sense. If you broadcast something to the entire world, how can you say that you have exclusive rights to it. You have just given it away for free by broadcasting it.

Jester: We talked briefly about the Unabomber back in November of 1996. What do you think of him now that he has been caught, confessed, and is now serving time?

David: The U.S. Government states publically that Ted Kazcysinki in the Unabomber, but who really knows. You can never be too sure of anything these days. Believe it or not, I really do have admiration for the Unabomber. However, rumor has it that it is really a group of people and not a single individual.

I did get a really distinct impression that the government was denying him the right to a fair trial from the beginning. I think the government is frightened to allow him to have a proper trial because he would be able to publically state all of these issues the government wants to be kept secret. Essentially, they shunned him out of his legal right to a fair trial.

The hypocrisy of it all is that the U.S. government kills thousands of people ever year across the world and they are locking up this single guy for killing a handful of people. Obviously, if I knew someone who was killed by the bombs I would be upset. Of course it is a terrible thing, but how can a government who killed 200,000 Iraqis fairly prosecute a man who has only killed a handful.

Just exactly how many terrorist do we have in this country anyways? Three or four? The government uses these few people to introduce all of these draconian laws just to try and stop a handful of militants. All of the militant organizations have been so infiltrated by the government, they effectively run them anyways. Who is to say who is the terrorist and who is the police?

Does anyone really know how their country is run these days? I certainly have no idea how my country is being run. Obviously every important decision is made in secret, for the benefit of a few small parties, which is the technical definition of conspiracy. By the legal definition, every Western country is run by a conspiracy. Just think about it.

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