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Interview with Numb - FENIX, Seattle, WA - 5/7/98

Photos by Jester Copyright © 1998

Jester: Are you happy to finally be headlining a tour?

Don: Actually, we have only ever opened for a tour once and that was for Front Line Assembly. We have usually headlined tours in Europe and at least one West Coast effort with Waiting For God. We have played a lot of live shows, just not a lot of them in North America.

Jester: Why the decision to go more in a Noise-Techno direction with this album?

David: The style of music used on the album had more to do with the physical constraints of the instruments we own rather than any conscious effort. We basically just took the path of least resistance when it came to writing this album.

Don: This album was an experiment for us, in that we wrote it very quickly. We had another album that was finished that was getting entangled in all sorts of legal issues, so we decided to sit down and write "Blood Meridian" very quickly so we could meet our release schedule.

I think that the whole of the album was written was done differently than on any other release. We didn't set out to compose a more electronic album, it just came out that way. In terms of noise, the album uses more controlled precision with it's sound. Earlier albums used a great deal of noise and feedback, but in a more abrasive and chaotic manner.

David: The actual song structure of this album is very Pop oriented. There are a number of intentional hooks written into the music. Personally, I feel that the album is very contrived, but because the way we work as musicians, the end result seems very undisciplined and unorganized.

Jester: What would you say David has added to the band now that he has been with you awhile?

Don: I think that he has worked out really well so there has been no need to change vocalists. There is a really interesting empathy that has developed between us that has sparked a very beneficial creative process. There is a commonness of vision between David and I that allows us to approach music from two very different angles and meet at a happy medium.

David: A fairly good balance has been achieved between us very quickly when it comes to writing music. While we both have our individual musical areas that we are better at than the other person, we have worked very hard for this to not become too polarized. A lot of the success we have together is that we can actually tolerate each other as people. So no matter what difference of opinion we might have on a subject, there is a eventual compromise because we both realize that the music has to be written. The whole Numb project has taken precedence over either one of our egos.

Jester: It has been almost half a year since "Blood Meridian" was released. Are you working on new material for Numb?

Don: A new album is already half written and is schedule to be released in October. It will be called "Language of Silence". It's sound is even more different than other Numb material. The album was actually conceived before "Blood Meridian" but it could not be released due to legal issues with a label in Europe. Since the songs have been around awhile, we have been reworking them again.

David: Also, some of the material didn't really sound that good live when we started rehearsing for this tour so we scrapped them. A large reason why we are touring now is to explore playing our newer material live and learn how to write songs that sound good live.

Jester: What do you have planned for upcoming remix work?

Don: We remixed an Esplendor Geometrico track that was just released as part of a remix compilation for Gift Records, but that remix was done over a year ago. We are involved with a single being released on OffBeat records that has run into some complicated licensing issues that will be out soon, hopefully. There will be a few remixes of 'Desire' as well as a reworking of a Mentallo & The Fixer remix of 'Blind'.

Jester: Is that O-Files 3?

Don: That is the title of the OffBeat Records compilation. We were originally supposed to have four tracks on that release, but there wasn't room for a new track called 'No Remorse', so it was cut.

Jester: Do you have any soundtrack or documentary work upcoming?

Don: Not at the moment recently. It is very difficult to get involved with that type of work anymore because it has become very competitive. In the past, you could find soundtrack work by just talking to people in the industry. Today, each movie house has it's own suite of artists that they choose for a project before any outsider is considered. The moment big money is involved, people get nervous about who they give the money to unless the artists has a solid track record for quality material. About 60% of the soundtrack work these days goes to the same 12 people. Of course those 12 people farm the work out to a team of artists, but nevertheless soundtrack work has become a commodity. Remember, each film nowadays has a orchestral score usually written by someone like Barry Goldsmith and a rock score which usually conists of the current crop of Top 40 artists.

Jester: What is the status of the Sin project?

Don: I don't know if that project will ever materialize. We wrote a track for a Cleopatra cover compilation, but nothing else. It is very difficult to match our schedules with the vocalist Madeline. A few labels have taken an interest in the project, but we just have to coordinate the logistics to actually sit down and write an album.

Jester: Will the new Fourth Man ever get released?

David: It is doubtful. Almost every single side project I have been involved with has been placed in mothballs for the past two years. For the time being, Numb has taken up all my time.

Jester: Are you interested in promoting yourself on the Net or have someone do a web site for you? You had two pages for Numb at one time, but those are gone. Do you think the Internet helps in getting you a bigger audience or keep your fans more up to date?

Don: There were three of four rather extensive fan web sites, but I really haven't looked around recently. I am surprised that they have all disappeared. I'd like to put something official up in the Fall to coincide with the release and promotion of the new album. It makes the most sense to coordinate this all together.

Jester: Are we going to hear 'Push-it' or 'Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" tonight?

Don: We are going to actually perform both tracks. The whole point of the covers were to rethink the way the track was written and perform them from our point of view. When the TV Terror compilation was first pitched to us, the kind of songs they were suggesting were pathetic. So we had to sit down and think of something to cover and 'Mr. Rogers Neighborhood' made the most sense.

David: Don had heard of the television program, but he had never heard the song. I ended up playing the theme song on cassette to Don over the phone and he ended up playing this wall of noise back to me. We really haven't done that many covers, so it has been rather surprising how large profile those two tracks have been. Both of them were mentioned on MTV News when they were released.

Don: For 'Push-It', we tried to avoid being more hip than the band who first wrote the song. We would rather take a decidely unhip song and turn it into something totally unexpected. The funny thing was, a Hip-Hop label heard about the cover and from that single track, the label wanted to see if we had other material for a possible Hip-Hop release.

Jester: What type of vocal distortion do you use?

David: You name it, we have used it. There is no specific tool or technique used. It is all a matter of what works and what we have on hand at the time the lyrics were being layed down. I will agree that over time I have refined my techniques, but most of it has to do with the physical delivery and proper microphone techniques while singing.

Don: David has a naturally raspy voice to begin with, so it doesn't take much to distort his voice. We also do a lot of post-production processing to distort the vocals into something no one could ever sing.

Jester: Your original demo cassette was called "Blue Light". Where those tracks ever released elsewhere?

Don: Some of them ended up on the first Numb release and most of the rest of those tracks ended up on the recent re-issue of the album on Metropolis Records. That album contains just about every one of the older Numb tracks we still have the master tapes for. I hesitate to call them master tapes since many of them were recorded onto a two-track cassette recorder in a bedroom with a television in the background.

Jester: What is your favorite track on Blood Meridian? Why that track?

David: The track for me that has the most variety of flavors to it is 'Critical Mass' with the live introduction. The feedback that I have received from people about that track has been very much in-line with what I was thinking when we wrote it. I enjoy all of the different musical elements thrown together into that track all at once. The amusing thing is that 'Desire' and 'Critical Mass' are actually two halves of the same song.

Don: In reality, "Blood Meridian" is only five really long songs. We just broke it into ten tracks because twelve minutes songs don't work well live or on the radio.

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