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Interview with Luxt, Sacramento, CA - 2/1/97

Photos by Jester Copyright © 1998

Jester How did Luxt first start?

Erie: I had been into the Industrial scene for a long time and then I got out of it because I thought it was dead. It was about 1990, Wax Trax went bankrupt and all these clone bands were on the market. Then suddenly I woke up one day and there were hundreds of album to listen to out on labels like Re-Constriction, Cleopatra & 21st Circuitry. I got excited about the whole genre of music and started paying more attention to the scene again. After seeing a few shows by local artists I decided that it was something that I could definitely do just as well.

Anna: We were in another band together and decided to try our hand at an industrial/hybrid side project. That side project became a main focus before long. I had been playing keyboards for a while, then Erie showed me how programming worked and we've been writing songs together ever since. Erie had been programming everything in our previous band so obviously I don't have as much experience as he does in that area, so I write the core of many of the songs and then he produces it into it's final form.

Erie: Adding Anna really made another member of our previous band, really mad because he lived with me, had access to all of the equipment, and yet never did anything with it. Anna came in and after the end of a week she had written two songs.

Anna: I spent hours writing tiny pieces of songs. The second song I've ever written, "Subcutaneous Grin" always seems to pack the dance floor. Personally I feel that it is a very simple song but for whatever reason people seem to enjoy it. It took me five hours to just write the introductory portion of that track.

Jester Where did Chalkhead Records originate from?

Erie: We had to have a name for the label that we put out our first band on. Chalkhead was just a name that I took from this long story that I have been writing for years. We originally used the label as a distribution tool but it failed miserably. Then we started to use it as more of a on line music resource to allow local, unsigned, industrial bands a chance to be heard. Unfortunately it was something that people never really became interested in.

We ended up getting out of the label scene because it was simply too expensive and time consuming. We decided to go label searching because being on a label gets you better promotion, advertising, and label clout. It's amazing how much easier it is to sell your album when you are suddenly on a label. In the end Chalkhead died once we got signed and started working on the club simply due to lack of time.

Anna: Eventually the label turned into Chalkhead Productions with the eventual goal hopefully producing other people music.

Jester: What gave you the idea of starting your own club, Biomech?

Erie: I've been playing shows in this town for over six years. I've put on shows myself or had been given shows by local venues. Pretty soon I learned that promoting shows wasn't so difficult, and promoters usually put in the least amount of effort and ended up with all of the money. So I figured that I could do exactly what they were doing and end up in control of the money myself, and in turn put on better industrial type shows because most promoters don't know much about putting on that type of show.

Originally I started doing a risk sharing shows. All of the bands on the bill would agree to share in covering the loss if we failed to make money. We never ended up losing a cent. So that was how we put on shows for some time because it forced the other bands to promote to prevent them from losing any money. But that meant that I was supplying all of the sound equipment and running it myself and still getting the same amount of money as all of the other bands. Eventually I got sick of everyone depending on me to put together the entire show myself, and the club was much more successful than any show we'd ever done. Now I try to motivate the bands to put on shows for themselves, much the way that I did, but they aren't too long on motivation. Biomech really wouldn't be possible at all without Anna, she's the big organizer and the hardass when it comes to money, I tend to be a pushover.

So anyway, about a year ago we started on putting on shows at another venue that has since been closed down by the city, with the idea to attract out of town bands so that we could rub elbows with the right people and hopefully get signed. The first show from out of town was Hate Dept and UNIT:187, both of which were on 21st Circuitry who eventually signed us. Obviously the concept worked rather well.

Anna: Biomech has worked really well for us because we can play our music and get an instantaneous crowd response. We can also arrange to play whenever we want and open for bands whom we choose to bring into the club. It might seem kind of one sided to other bands in the area, but then again, they aren't doing anything at all to help the scene so who are they to talk about us being selfish?

Jester: What does your live show look like now with all of the new members?

Erie: The one night you saw us (back in July) we were all crowded on stage with Scar Tissue's gear.

Anna: We only had four people then and now we have five which is cool because it looks like we finally have a complete band up on stage.

Erie: It is really more of a performance-oriented show now that we have a full band playing most of the music live on stage. Plus the new songs are much more energetic and that makes you more likely to get into what you're playing. Now that we all have wireless equipment we really move around a lot. We even have to tape the keyboard down because Israel is all over the place when he plays. If we built some kind of special contraption to hold his keyboard on its stand, it would be destroyed after a few shows anyway, so it's better to use duct tape. I think it all really helps to keep the attention of the audience. We have really tried to focus more on playing music rather than props. We have also toned down our dress so our shows are less something to stare at and more something to watch and enjoy.

Jester: Do you have any plans tour?

Erie: There are no firm dates yet but we'd like to begin touring sometime in June. We had planned a national tour for March/April, but that got canceled for us by one of our real jobs. Now we're looking at a national tour in the early summer.

Jester: What cover song did you contribute to the Newer Wave compilation?

Erie: We did a cover of "Cars" by Gary Numan. We also did a cover of "Winter Kills" by Yaz that will be appearing at the end of our new album. We reversed the traditional vocalists for both songs. Anna sang on the Gary Numan track and I sang on the Yaz track.

Jester: When you were practicing earlier I noticed that you have a really unique drum kit. Can you go into a little detail about how you built them?

Erie: I took twelve inch pads from Dauz and bought the cheapest drum set we could find. I pushed the pads against the top heads of the drum shells and stuffed the bottom of each shell with packing foam and bubble wrap. They look really cool for something that we made really cheap. Basically it is just electronic drum pads stuffed instead an acoustic drum shell that really looks professional.

Jester: Where do you get most of your sounds and sample material to make your music?

Erie: I don't use any voice samples in Luxt because I used to sample tons of voices from movies, and one of my former band-mates would use them in his own songs. Needless to say, I got burned out on the movie quote thing after a few years of it. So most of the sounds you hear in the music now are samples taken from my guitar or bass. I love to use the pitch wheel in conjunction with the sequencer. It is almost like scratching in rap when I am playing with the samples. Step timing can give you some wild effects too.

Anna: We don't use any preset synth sounds. We actually program and sample all of the material that we use ourselves.

Erie: I also sample all my own drums because I can't stand the sounds built into drum machines. I use a lot of compression and distortion to make the drums sounds bigger, fatter, and uglier. Distortion works wonderfully on sampled loops. I've also just sampled myself banging on things out in the garage for some tracks as well (like the beginning of "Darker Times"). However, because we live on a busy street it really doesn't work that well. I always seem to end up recording all of the background street noise in with the stuff I am banging on.

Jester: What would you consider you favorite track you have ever written?

Anna: That is really a hard question. I seem to go back and forth on having a certain favorite one or two tracks. For performing reasons, "Not of My Kind" is my favorite because I can really go off on it and I don't happen to be playing any instrument during it.

Erie: I used to really love "Megaplex", but because it was on the beginning of the demo tape, but I have gotten kinda sick of listening to it over time.

Anna: "Hate Song" used to be my favorite because it started out really slow and then becomes more aggressive as it goes on. I also liked "Darker Times" because Erie pitch shifted the vocals on it and they sound really eerie.

Jester: What would you consider you strongest musical influence?

Erie: Definitely Depeche Mode.

Anna: I hate to say but I really think Siouxsie and The Banshees would be my greatest influence. Hopefully people won't think that I am trying to mimic her. Siouxsie just happened to be the person who influenced to want to sing and perform.

Jester: Your lyrics have a tendency to be very in depth, extravagant and very well thought out. Where do draw some of your lyrical influence from?

Anna: He writes all of the lyrics. I simply am not proficient at lyric writing and don't really have any interest in writing lyrics either.

Erie: I've gotten to the point with my lyrics that I can turn a thought into a certain textual code. I draw influence from mostly everyday life. In one particular case I simply could not think of lyrics for a particular song. So after getting off the phone with my ex-wife following a rather bitter discussion I wrote a song about her which ended up being titled, "Intent". Generally I try not to make a song seem very deep and I try to avoid letting people know exactly what is going on inside my head when I write a certain set of lyrics. I think it is really cool when a person can interpret a song for themselves and have it become very personal to them even when what they get out of it is very different from what I had originally envisioned the song to mean.

Anna: One thing that I have noticed about his lyrics is that they often have a double meaning. You can read them and think they mean one thing when in reality the actually mean something else entirely. You interpret it one way because that's how what it appears to mean, but if he explains what it means from his own perspective is also makes sense in an entirely different light. That was always the one big thing I liked about Siouxsie and The Banshees was that their lyrics have double meanings as well.

Erie: I tend tend to write a lot about sex, honesty, dishonesty, and raw human emotions. I kind of feel like I am a strange person simply because I have never done any drugs or been drunk, so I kind of look at life a little bit differently than most people. I used to live where I had a two hour drive every day to get to work So I had a lot of time to myself to think about a myriad of different topics and formulate my personal philosophies about life.

Like I mentioned earlier, I have this ongoing story that I have been writing for quite some time that I draw a lot of influence from. The story is about a possible future society on this planet. In fact, to me science fiction is what Industrial music has always been about. This type of music is a type of "speculative fiction" about the future and where we are going.

Jester: How have people reacted to you taking a more aggressive female role rather than the stereotypical reserved sound that is currently very popular?

Anna: It's hard to say because we really haven't had a great deal of feedback. However, the people that have said something have constantly mentioned that they enjoy the fact that I am not singing all pretty and ethereal. There are also people who have been shocked by it and cannot grasp the concept of a strong female presence in this genre of music.

Siebold of Hate Dept has been perhaps the most vocal person giving us constant positive feedback about our music. He always mentions to us that will will probably go places because we are doing something new, innovative and different.

A lot of people are often taken off guard because they expect me to sing in a typical "pretty" female way on stage instead of screaming or growling or belting out the lyrics like I sometimes do. There have even been comments that they felt they would have enjoyed the show more if they had understood what I had been singing about. I think these people aren't getting what they expect, and it might not gel with them. It's not like I don't sing on stage, I just don't happen to sing in the accepted ad traditional format of a female artists in this genre.

Erie: The way that she sang was based on how I wrote the lyrics and how I thought the lyrics should be sung along to the music. I always wrote things perhaps a little lower than other people would have because I simply cannot sing those high parts.

Anna: If you listen to the difference between the vocals styles on the two albums you can definitely here a difference in styles. I think I finally found the perfect level at which to sing on this new album and you should be able to notice the difference right away. There are also some things that I'd like to change but have simply been unable to do because my vocals chords are not flexible enough yet.

Erie: So far the feedback has been overwhelming good. The only negative comments we have received are by those people who are frightened by the idea of a women being strong and in their face. But then again, negative feedback can be quite a good measurement of success.

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