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Interview with R.U. of R.U.O.K? - Zoot Suite, Portland, OR - 8/20/98

The kind staff at the San Francisco Mental Health facilities allowed me a few moments before the NXNW performance of the Quantum Loop artist R.U.O.K? to speak with the leader of the band R.U.. It became quit obvious after several minutes of discussion, and R.U. constantly referring to himself in the third person that he had a few too many rogue personalities running around instead of his head. What follows is a quickly disintegrating discussion that displays the cascade failure of R.U.'s personality into that of a deranged mad man.

Jester: You were supposed to perform at the Industro-Rave II last October. What were the circumstances that caused you to cancel that performance?

R.U.: We were. Our sampler died. It is one of the key items of equipment we use. We were unable to fix or find a replacement sampler prior to the start of the show, so we decided to cancel the performance. Had we not canceled that show, tonight's show would not have existed.

We went upstairs after the event to say our goodbyes and we ran into Steve Watkins of Scar Tissue who was putting on black and red make-up. Right at that moment it occurred to us that we needed a better set on stage. Since then, we have worked a great deal on props, lighting and costumes.

Jester: Have you performed since the cancellation of the Industro Rave event?

R.U.: Yes. We played at our CD release party in San Francisco. That was the first time we used costumes on stage. My nurse wheeled us out on a gurney strapped in our straight-jacket. She then proceeded to remove all our restraints and allowed us to play.

Jester: I noticed all you have a number of props on stage. What role do they play in your performance?

R.U.: The props serve as distracting elements on stage and really are there to just look cool. However, the cue cards on the easel are integral to the show, but you will have to wait for the show to properly understand their use.

Jester: What do you do outside of your music and studio?

R.U.: My doctors keep us locked in a padded cell for our own safety. When they feel we are ready, they let us out to write music and occasionally perform live under carefully monitored circumstances. They also let us play with board games and puzzles.

Jester: Do you enjoy performing?

R.U.: Yes and no. We enjoy the actual act of getting up on stage and performing. However, we do not enjoy the waiting and the stress. Our doctors monitor us closely before each to show make sure we don't have any problems.

Jester: Whose idea was it to shoot your promotional photographs with a shaved head and the band name stenciled on your scalp?

R.U.: After the failure of our first show we shaved our head because we thought the Techno crowd would be able to interact with us more. We play a guitar on stage along with sequenced music. Having long hair along with a guitar isn't conducive to good fan interaction if we are supposed to be a Techno-ish act. It seemed only logical to shave our head and don make-up to match the artwork on the album. We want to give people a good show. Now we choose to remain bald and wear our make-up all of the time. It has become part of our nature.

Jester: Where do the ideas for the diverse spoken word dialogues originate?

R.U.: Before they locked us up, We used to be in another band. We always used to write short stories, which our doctors say was the first sign of our impending mental breakdown. We left the band after our mental collapse. However, once we were hospitalized, the doctors thought it would be cathartic to allow us to continue writing music by ourselves and it seemed only natural to use our stories with that music. Most of our stories are based on real life experiences of ourselves our others. Our clinical physicians felt it was important to speak about these issues in our music to help our treatments.

Jester: Why did you decide to cover 'Baby's on Fire' by Brian Eno?

R.U.: We originally wrote that song for inclusion on a tribute album back in 1995 that finally got released last week. Because the release took so long, we decided to pull our submission and include it on our album after Quantum Loop took advantage of a state law allowing for artistic funding of mental health care patients. Ironically, the compilation has a version of 'Baby's on Fire' on it by another artist.

Our three favorite artists are Eno, Kraftwerk and Laurie Anderson. Thankfully, we were able to obtain a brief furlough when Kraftwerk played in the Bay Area this summer. We were very happy!

Jester: How did you first get involved with music?

R.U.: We used to play in a lot of guitar based bands in our youth and became very bored with Rock music. We then stumbled into Tangerine Dream on accident. Then we decided to try and make electronic music on our own. We wanted to make music that had not been done before. We got started writing electronic music in 1988 right when it was becoming popular. We intentionally write music that is not dance oriented because we feel that it has been overdone. We want to continue to write music that few people and preferably no one else has done before.

Jester: What is your favorite track from your debut release? Why that track?

R.U.: We have a least favorite track, but we will be keeping that a secret. We can't really say what our favorite track is. It is like asking us to choose who our favorite analyst or doctor is? We are treated by dozens of doctors and analyzed by even more diverse selections of medical staff. We simply cannot decide on a favorite.

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