Interview with Eric Chamberlin of Index - conducted by telephone 1/7/97

Jester: I noticed on the new Index album that Cody has left the band. Is that true?

Eric: Well, Cody was still in the band when we found out that the label wanted "Black Light Twilight" to come out. A few months went by and he wasn't contributing anything to the new album because he was really involved with school. Then a year after we found out about the album he had only written two pieces of material that we wanted to use. So I asked him what his priorities were and he said that it was school. I then told him that Index required more of his time and attention if he wanted to remain with the band and he agreed. So in the end we went our separate ways. He might be back in the future, but it remains to be seen.

Jester: So a large portion of the change in musical style on this new album is because the material was all written by you?

Eric: Yes, but one thing that most people don't know is that most of "Sky Laced Silver" was all written by me as well. Cody only contributed to four pieces on that album. One of the reasons for the change is that COP initially told us that "Black Light Twilight" didn't have to be out until April of 1997. Then they changed the date because "Sky Laced Silver" was doing so well and they wanted to keep up the momentum. Since I had so much material I figured it would be okay to compile some older material alongside the new material. I also thought it would be okay to submit fewer vocals tracks and include more ambient type stuff. It wasn't something that I wanted to over do so expect the next album to definitely be more aggressive.

Jester: Are you working on any other projects besides Index?

Eric: Right now I am working on a new solo project that is going to have more of a techno influence without sounding generic. It is going to be more along the lines of FSOL, not very industrial, but still plenty of strong electronic music. I don't have a name for the project but it is supposed to be out in a few months.

Jester: Is that project going to be released on COP as well?

Eric: Yes it is. I've gotten a couple of other signs of interest from other labels but COP is letting me do what I want to do. I am still under contract with them for another Index album and they are letting me do this side project, so right now I am very happy with them.

Jester: How did you originally get in contact with COP to release your music?

Eric: When we first started working together as a band we made this cheesy demo tape. We were not sure what to do with it because there isn't much of an electronic music outlet here in New Mexico. So we flipped through a wide variety of music magazines looking for record labels advertisements. We sent out about ten demo tapes and COP was the first of two labels to call us back. Silent Records was the other and they were just looking for a distribution deal but we didn't have the cash to press and print CD's ourselves. We decided that COP was the right label because they really liked our music a lot and seemed to understand what we were trying to say. I'm actually glad that we made the choice because even though they are still a small label, they are growing and gaining a great deal of credibility. Christian & Kim both work really hard for us so I think it was a good choice for someone young like myself just starting out.

Jester: Have they given you any figures on sales or feedback?

Eric: We are selling in the very low thousands. I guess that we are really popular in Europe and the albums have received excellent feedback. Europe is definitely the place where this type of music is more accepted. I think a lot of people latched onto our music simply because it has a lot more melody than some other Industrial bands. Kim always sends me copies of reviews and they are all really encouraging.

Jester: Why is Index located in Albuquerque, New Mexico of all places?

Eric: The reason I actually came here in the first place was because I had graduated from high school in Hawaii. My dad had just retired from the army and I decided to move with my family because my future was unclear and it was too expensive to remain in Hawaii. Why I am still here, I don't know.

Jester: What do you do besides music?

Eric: I work at the airport as a luggage handler. I can't make a living at it yet, but it is allowing me to expand my musical boundaries. In fact I just wrote music for a commercial here locally the other day. Things like that will actually pay me, rather than the small amount of money I end up making off the band. My eventual goal is to score films so some of that might be more apparent on the ambient tracks on "Black Light Twilight".

Jester: Do you think you might go back to school and get some musical training in the future?

Eric: I might learn how to read music just for the sake of it. When you start to mingle with the people who have money to pay you for your talent, it helps to at least look like you know what you are doing. I've tried to read music but when I try to look at a piece of music on paper and then play it, I can't do it. So I just try to memorize it and play it by ear.

Jester: How did you originally get into music?

Eric: I used to live in the Philippines when my father was in the Army. I lived there back when the break dancing craze was huge. So all of my friend's fathers would go back to America and bring cool music back for us. The first time I had experienced a synthesizer was on an electro funk record from the west coast by Egyptian Lover. That was when I knew there was something really cool to make music with on this planet. So in high school I got a drum machine and played around with some of the sequencing basics. Then I met Cody and Kurt at the University of New Mexico, bought a keyboard and started making music.

Jester: Have you ever played live with Index?

Eric: We have played live many times. However it has only been around here, with the sole exception of a disastrous show in Denver. When we play here a friend of mine helps out with visuals and such. Playing live is okay, and I want to be able to tour, but it is simply not feasible because I don't make enough money to be able to do it. Also, I don't have any other bands members now. The label wants to take me to Germany sometime this year for some shows but it really all up in the air.

Playing live is really fun, albeit really nerve wracking the first few times. I was so scared during the first song we ever played live that my arms went numb. You really kind of have to play live to be able to reach more people, so with luck one day we will do a real tour.

Jester: Is there a reason why all the lyrics on both albums are all written by hand as opposed to being typed as on the first EP?

Eric: That is something that I did. The whole reason that started was actually an accident. On "Sky Laced Silver" we typed the lyrics into the computer and we sent a disk out to the guy in California who did the artwork. I don't know what happened but the disk arrived blank. By the time the layout was started we were close to deadline so I wrote the lyrics out by hand. People kind of liked the way the lyrics were done on that album so I decided to do it again on "Black Light Twilight".

Unfortunately the whole inside of the booklet and the lyrics on the new album looks like crap. The manufacturing deadline was so short that the artist didn't have time to do anything with the inside of the liner notes. The cover art is really amazing but when you open it up it looks like an old black and white Atari screen. So the next album is going to be done somewhere else because of this mishap. My brother is a graphic artist and has a little studio where he works, so I am going to use his company on the next album.

Jester: Where do some of your sound sources come from in your music?

Eric: I get a lot of sounds from movies and warp them a little. The synth sounds are sometimes taken from a preset and then are usually changed a little. I do love to make my own sounds and I usually do that 99% of the time, but sometimes I do use presets. Right now all I have is two analogue keyboards and a sampler and I do everything on those. I sample a lot of stuff off CD's and old 12" singles. Also every once in a while I'll go outside with a DAT machine and a microphone and sample random things.

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

Eric: Probably one of the coolest bands is Clock DVA. I also used to listen to a lot of OMD. Front Line Assembly is perhaps my favorite electro/industrial type band. I have so much other music in my collection that I would not even know where to continue. Just looking at my floor I have a Psychopomps album lying right next to a Van Halen album. I'll listen to any type of music with the sole exception of country.

Jester: Would you be interested in collaborating with other artists in the future?

Eric: Yes, I think that it's a very cool way to do music. On one hand it is fun to have your own band where you get to make all the decisions. It is also cool when you work with someone else because they will often have a totally different idea about what should happen next in a song that I would have never thought about.

I'd also like to be able to do a remix for Front Line Assembly or Mentallo & The Fixer. I have received offers for a couple of small time remix offers which are cool, but I'd also like to work with some bigger bands as well.

Jester: Have you received a lot of press contact from the new album yet?

Eric: I've done a few interviews but it has been three weeks since I've done one. The album is just now coming out in the US even though it has been out in Germany for almost two months. I think it will start to pick up after a few months because that is what happened on the last album. It just seems to take a while for the press to get interested.

Jester: What would you consider the most favorite track you have ever written and why that particular track?

Eric: That's a hard question. 'Wait For Me' off "Black Light Twilight" has to be one of my favorites because it has a really pretty piano sound on it. I think it stands out from the rest of the industrial stuff on the album more than any other track.

I also liked the 'Thorn' remix off "Sky Laced Silver". I really liked the thick synth sound on the original version but the song was originally done on a keyboard that we didn't have any longer. So when we got a few more samplers we redid the song in the manner that we thought was more appropriate.

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

Eric: Just that the next album is going to go back to a more aggressive sound. I also wouldn't look for any other extra bands members in the future and keep a look out for the side project.

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