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Interview with Scott Sturgis of Pain Station by Kevin Congdon - conducted via e-mail, 10/4/96

Kevin: What direction are/did you take the full-length? And how does it differ from your earlier material?

Scott: Well, I think the most noticeable change in direction, to me anyway, would be in the tempo of the songs. The average tempo for the songs on the album is probably real close to 100 bpm, if not lower; with the demo, the average was probably closer to 130 bpm. I've also tried experimenting a bit more with different noises...sampling various, sometimes mediocre, sounds and manipulating them through effects to create new ones to add a rougher edge to the melodies. Also, on average, guitar samples don't have as large a presence in my new material as they did on the demo. At the time of the demo, they were a new thing for me, but now, I'd rather rely mainly on electronics to fill out a song. Personally, it gives me more freedom to experiment.

Kevin: What do you attribute your favorable reaction from the Net to your band to?

Scott: That's hard to answer, really. I mean, I'd hear different things from different people on what they liked about my demo material, the only material most people have heard up to this point. Many people cited my rhythm programming as a favorite part of the music, which for me is the most enjoyable part of writing. Others said they could identify with my lyrics, which was surprising to me, seeing as how personal they tend to be. Some liked the guitars really well, others liked the pure electronic songs. I guess it just depends on the individual.

Kevin: Are you still planning to move to Chicago? Why that city?

Scott: Well, it's not concrete at this point, but it's something my wife, Jenny, and I are strongly considering, but probably won't happen for another year or so. Why Chicago? Well, that's the same question I ask myself frequently...Heh. First off, we've got friends there, Chris and Lisa Randall (Mr. & Mrs. Machine Gun). Jenny and Lisa are best buddies and I'm hoping to get them closer together just to cut down on the monster phone bills. :) Seriously, though, having friends in a city as big as Chicago is a definite plus. Also, being signed to Decibel now, that'll put me that much closer to Tom and the label, in Milwaukee. Also, it's a great city to be in if you're an industrial musician - it's just the mecca, isn't it?

Kevin:What was it like recording your stuff with Tom M. and Chris R.? Did you feel you got a lot from them? We're you happy with the results?

Scott: It was an absolute nightmare! (Heh...just kidding). It was great. It was the first time Tom and I had met, but we hit it off (he might tell a different story) and got along and worked together really well. The first night I got up there, he introduced me to cheese curds (uh...deep fried pre-cheese and heaven on earth) and I will be forever in his debt! I'd worked with Chris a little before, so I pretty much knew what to expect. Tom and I worked pretty closely together, but Chris was on a tight schedule, so I communicated to him what I was going for and let him take it from there and it was impressive to watch him in action. And yeah, I'm very pleased with the final outcome.

Kevin: How did you hook up with Tom to release your debut on Decibel?

Scott: I got a letter from him in the mail saying that he'd heard my song "Cringe" on the Coldwave Breaks compilation and that he was interested in hearing more. So I got together what new material I had been working on and recorded a cassette of the rough, no-vox versions of these songs and sent it to him. I think I ended up sending him a couple separate tapes of stuff over the period of a month or so. Then I got a call from him and the first words out of his mouth were something along the lines of, "Do you want to put out an album?" That's all I needed to hear.

Kevin: How much money did you end up spending sending out those free demo tapes? Was it worth it?

Scott: I'd say with recording costs, postage and envelopes combined, I probably blew about $400-500 on sending out the 200 or so demos. Was it worth it, though? All I can say is HELL YES. Radio play is a necessity and I thank all those djs who deemed my demo worthy of it, even as bad as the sound quality was on that thing. Also, I appreciated the reviews people posted to rmi and wrote in zines and the word of mouth thing was definitely a big help in getting me noticed.

Kevin: How did you come to be on so many compilations for an unsigned band?

Scott: Well, I entered that Alternative Press "Crossover" contest in August of '94 with "The End of You" and was lucky enough to be one of the chosen bands on the "AP - The Contest" comp on Zoth Ommog, which is the label I give the most thanks to as an influence on my own music. Unfortunately, that comp went absolutely nowhere, for whatever reason, and a lot of people haven't even heard of it. As for "There Is No Time" (Ras Dva), I'd talked with Ric Laciak for quite some time prior to the release and wanted him to keep me in mind when I finally got some material recorded. He heard "The End of You" and liked it well enough to put it on the comp. And with "Coldwave Breaks" (21st Circuitry), I'd sent Don a demo when I was looking for labels to notice me. He liked both "The End of You" and "Cringe," but "TEOY" was already under contract with Zoth, so he opted for "Cringe." I was actually disappointed that I had songs on only three compilations, but I guess they were the right three to be on.

Kevin: Are you doing music full-time or do you have a "day" job to support yourself? - If you work a "day" job, does that give you more motivation to do music?

Scott: Oh, I WISH I was doing music full-time. Like most, I do have a day job, and a shitty one at that. I'd say that it does motivate me to write, to some extent, because I get a lot of my daytime frustration out of my system by writing music.

Kevin: Any foreseeable plans to do any small tours? Have you played any live shows? If yes, how was the reaction?

Scott: No, nothing foreseeable. I've played live shows with other bands, which weren't anything to write home about, but I've yet to take Pain Station out. Tom's (Muschitz) been asking me about that, but I'm just not sure at this point. Right now I'd have no idea what kind of crowd I might draw and how much good a live show would do me. If the feedback I get from the album is favorable, I may consider it, but for now it's just a 'wait and see' thing.

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