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Interview with Shane Benson of Noxious Emotion - conducted by e-mail - 2/6/98

Jester: You went on a brief tour in the Fall of 1997 with Nocturne on the West Coast. When the tour was over, Nocturne broke-up and you obtained their keyboardist, Megan, for your band. Would you care to elaborate?

Shane: Nocturne broke up for their own reasons. They told me later that they were going to break up before, but decided to wait till the tour was complete. Had I known this before booking the tour I probably would have asked another band to tour with us. As it is, it all worked out for the best, I got along well with everyone in Nocturne, they were all great people and I had a great time on the road with them. We all became pretty close friends while on tour. Somewhere near Denver, Megan started jumping up on stage and playing drums with us. I found out they were breaking up before the last show in San Jose and was actually surprised, I thought they had a lot going for them and was a bit disappointed to see them break up. A couple weeks after the tour, Megan gave us a call and asked if she could sit in with us and everything just fell together from there. It is not any kind of secret that there is a lot of friction between Mike and myself, so having Megan around has actually smoothed it out some.

Jester: I know you are on rather good terms with Sascha of KMFDM. How did you arrange to have Noxious Emotion open for KMFDM on their recent West Coast tour dates?

Shane: Actually, Sascha gave me a call and asked if we would be interested in playing with them. We just worked out the details from there. Sascha is great guy and has helped us out. I'm not kissing ass when I say "Thank you Sascha! It is really appreciated."

Jester: How much of your material do you play live? I am wondering because whenever someone is playing keyboard on stage, they seem to be playing very little.

Shane: The main sequence is running off DAT, while Darren and Megan are playing along on drums. When Mike is on the keyboard, he is actually playing a lot of keys live. He is perhaps one of the best keyboard players I have seen. When I'm behind the keys I play very little, mainly low synth keys, the occasional sample, and starting and stopping of overlaying sequences. If you hear a fuckup, I can almost guarantee you it is me making it.

Jester: You are a highly successful Northwest Electro band and a former NEC member. Yet, you never managed to obtain a record deal. To what would you attribute your success?

Shane: We have been offered record deals and have never been happy with what the labels were asking us to change or do. We have been asked to add guitars, change the lyrical content, add more chorus and one label would only sign us if we recorded at their studio under their direction. They had too many rules, so we kept doing it ourselves. Finally Mike put together his own label, ADSR Musicwerks. I know he is planning on signing two bands next year and he is already working on three compilations for future release.

I think staying together no matter what, the ability to work out internal problems, and to keep making and playing music has been the best thing going for us. When we first started playing shows, we were god awful. I cringe even thinking about some of our older shows, but we just kept doing it. Now I like to think we have made some kind of progress. Mike and I had never been in bands before and we did everything by the seat of our pants, we've had countless bands, people and clubs fuck us over, but we just kept at it.

Jester: What is your opinion of the current conditions of the Northwest Industrial scene?

Shane: I think the Northwest is one of the hardest areas in the U.S for bands. Seattle is perhaps one of the hardest places to play. After about four years of playing live in Seattle we are just now starting to get people at our shows and we still do better in other cities. We can barely ask for any kind of guarantee in Seattle. I wouldn't have it any other way though. I think it has really hardened us. I see a lot of other bands from different cities who have had it a lot easier and I don't think many of them deal well with the pressure. I think there are a lot of good bands here in Seattle. I just wish more of them would stay together, unlike Noisebox and Christ Analogue. I feel SMP is without a doubt the best original band in the U.S, let alone the Northwest. The clubs are fine, I rarely go out anymore, living my life at home nowadays, but when I do the clubs here they always seem to be packed.

Jester: Who came up with the concept of "Count Zero", with the ingenious track countdown to the middle of the CD?

Shane: The whole idea of the track countdown, future, past, present and the Gibson "Count Zero" theme was all Mike's idea.

Jester: The lyrics on "Hallowed Ground" were more stream of consciousness, while those on "Count Zero" were more in a pop standard. What brought about this change?

Shane: I can't really say for sure. It wasn't on purpose, it just turned out that way. I felt the lyrics were a lot deeper on "Hallowed Ground", but I had more fun with "Count Zero". We have been recording some new songs and I feel there is a lot more meaning and emotion in the newer songs, musically as well as lyrically. Mike and I are both so much different now from when we started, I think this is really starting to show in our music, more so in the newer songs.

Jester: Can you describe for me the normal process of how a Noxious Emotion song is written and recorded?

Shane: For the most part Mike will program by himself. Then play me what he's been making and I'll pick out what I like and we will spend some time with us singing on it. After a couple hours we can usually tell if we like it or not and then we will just record down at Mike's studio. Nothing too complicated, the hardest part for us is finding the time and getting together.

Jester: Has the Internet played any significant role in helping you promote Noxious Emotion?

Shane: Yes, the Internet has been great for us. We keep pretty busy with e-mail and our mailing list. We have been getting about ten to twenty e-mail messages a day and our web page has gotten pretty busy over the last few months. We hired on Traci Trash to take over a lot of the e-mail and updates to the web page because it was just becoming too much. We have been getting a lot of the KMFDM fans coming over to us and asking to be reps, wanting to help out with any kind of promotions and we have done a lot of sales as of late over the web page. I think we have found our own little groove on the net and I'm real thankful for it. It has been our best method of getting our music out so far.

Jester: Who was responsible for the artwork / T-Shirt designs for "Count Zero"?

Shane: The actual image on the Cover of "Count Zero" was drawn by Heather Ivy, Sean Setterberg's wife. Mike came up with the fire background and theme. The small noxious ball in fire, on the back of the CD and the opening page of our website, was mine.

Jester: You once sent me a video for a track off your first album. What made you decide to make a video for that track?

Shane: I believe that was for 'FPMO'. It seemed to be the track of choice back then, even now it seems we always get a lot of requests for that song. We have talked about putting together a video for 'Loveshocked' and 'Street'.

Jester: I know that you video tape almost all of your live performances. Are you planning on ever releasing them in some type of professionally compiled format?

Shane: We are not sure about that. For the most part the quality is bad on the recordings. We have tossed around the idea of throwing clips of lives shots within a video somehow. There are some great moments in those tapes.

Jester: Did any members of the band have any formal musical training?

Shane: No, I thought that would be obvious. The closest any of us come to any kind of training would be Darren. He played in a high school marching band. I always find this funny but I don't think he sees the humor. Sorry Darren.

Jester: What is your favorite track from "Count Zero"?

Shane: I tend to go through phases. 'Loveshocked' and 'Street' were my favorites, but I always seem to find myself liking 'Steril' the most. The funny thing is the original version of 'Steril' was recorded for RAS DVA Records's "There Is No Time II". I think the original was a much better recording. The vocals were done a lot better on the original but the track never made it to "Count Zero". The track will have to wait for the RAS DVA compilation, which we thought would be out long before the release of "Count Zero".

Jester: If there was one thing you could change about the Industrial scene, what would it be?

Shane: I would like to change all the attitude. I can't believe how negative most of these people are. At times it seems like nothing more than a big fashion show and if you didn't dress for the ball your not cool enough and deserve to be treated like shit. I see it happening so much and I could really give a shit how much someone knows about music or many times someone has their body pierced. I think you get the idea, if not read the lyrics to 'M.A.R.K.-13' off "Count Zero"

Jester: What does the future hold for Noxious Emotion?

Shane: We are now taking our time recording a new album which will be titled "Symbols". We are going to try shopping this release to some labels willing to work with us and not want any kind of long term deal. There has already been some interest. We are hoping to land a label with decent distribution and a more varied listening audience. We are also looking for a bigger band to tour with next summer and if that doesn't work out we will just do it ourselves again.

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