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Interview with Steve Watkins of Scar Tissue - conducted via e-mail - 7/16/98

Photos by Jester - Copyright © 1997

Jester: How did you go about choosing the people that you wanted to remix your material for "Rebuild"?

Steve: I basically told anyone who would listen that we wanted to do a remix album. We posted it on our web site, posted to and e-mailed everyone we could think of. Once we had more offers than we could take, we started being a little selective and began sending out the DATs. Two people who were interested but couldn't work around other time commitments were Don Gordon from Numb and Dave Wright from Not Breathing. I still hope to squeeze some remixes out of them at some point.

Jester: What is your favorite remix(es) from "Rebuild"? Why those?

Steve: I really like the Cleen, New Mind, and Nerve Filter remixes. And I'm surprised I do, since they're the more "Techno" remixes, and that's a genre I normally don't like. But those mixes sound so good. The production quality is amazing.

Jester: Are you still drumming for 16 Volt now that the band has migrated to LA and to a new record label?

Steve: I've drummed for 16 Volt once since they moved to LA, for a series of 4 shows in LA, San Diego, and Arizona. This was before they signed to SlipDisc. But now that I'm so much more busy with Scar Tissue than I was when I first started drumming for them, I think it would be tough to find the time. I'm pretty sure they'll find another drummer in LA for their upcoming tour. Which is fine with me, since I could never commit the time that they would need now.

Jester: With the exception of 'Crashtime', you haven't used vocals on a track since since Dofino left the band. Why is this?

Steve: Incorrect! After Dofino left I did vocals on 'Stance' and 'Powerclone' on "Seperator". Part of the reason we've have less vocal songs after he left is that he was a vocalist. Without him, I didn't feel pressured to have vocals in a song, only if the song needed them. I started writing more songs that didn't require a human voice, not because I didn't have a vocalist, but just because those were the song styles that came out of me. Phil also writes non-vocal songs, and I'm very happy about that!

Jester: Percussion seems to be your predominant musical element of choice. Is that mostly due the use of live drums during performances or something else?

Steve: All my life I have loved percussion. I don't know why, it's just how I'm wired.

Jester: Where did you come up with the idea for the 'devices' theme and tracks that appear at the end of "TMOTD"?

Steve: "The Memory of the Devices" is a line from a letter written by Antonin Artaud. I wrote it on a napkin while reading one of his books.

Jester: On "TMOTD" there is a track called 'Crying Response Machine' and another called 'Laughing Response Machine'. What is the linking element between these two tracks?

Steve: Musically, there is no linking element. We just liked the way they sounded together, and I wanted to use those song titles together, so we did. Now I have a two part question, as well as a long, response which I didn't expect to go into when I first read the question.

Why do you think people, not necessarily you have a tendency to assume or hope that there exist deeper elements or meaning in artistic pieces those people happen to like? What does it feel like when the search for deeper meaning reveals an ordinary, frivolous, or meaningless foundation? I know it's happened to me, so you're not alone. My explanation for it is that we, as admirers of art, need to separate the art from the artist. The "artist" is just a channel for the art, a doorway that the art uses to enter our world. That a beautiful thing comes through a certain doorway doesn't mean the doorway itself shares those qualities.

Jester: Can you tell me a little about Tao, the newest member of the band. How did you meet? What were the circumstances that lead to him joining the band?

Steve: I went to a party at a friend's house in Santa Cruz, and Tao was the DJ there. He was just so cool, and his DJ style was exactly what I had been after to compliment our music, including his choice of vinyl. So I got his number, called him a few weeks later, and had him come over to our studio. I was working on remixes for New Mind at the time, and I played the tracks for Tao. He got into them, started laying stuff over them, and that was it. In true Scar Tissue style I hit record on the DAT, and his improvisational and spontaneous scratches are what appear on the two remixes I did for New Mind. One is on our "Rebuild" CD, the other is on New Mind's remix CD.

Jester: You seem to be really into some of the noisier percussive bands these days like the new Speedy J, Decree, Disjecta and many of the Ant-Zen bands and it shows in your music. How did this change come about?

Steve: What change? We've always loved that style of music. It's just that there are more artists now exploring that territory. An unsigned band here in the Bay Area, 5000 Fingers, is exploring that style to great effect, so I'm happy that it's becoming an exciting and accepted area of electronic music.

Jester: What is your opinion of the current Power Noise scene that Ant-Zen seems to be spearheading?

Steve: I only recently got introduced to Ant-Zen, through their double CD compilation. I am really glad that they seem to be doing a great job of marketing that style to people who up to now have been into more traditional electronic music styles. I lump electronic Industrial into that as well. The style is more than fifteen years old, so it qualifies as traditional.

Jester: How did your other project Form/Alkaline originate?

Steve: I don't want to answer this yet, beyond saying the typical it was another outlet for our music.

Jester: Will we see any other output under this name besides the track on "The Glory of Destruction" and "Cyberbabies" compilations?

Steve: We are submitting another track for the "Glory of Destruction II" compilation. And we have a lot of material recorded that could certainly fall under the Form/Alkaline name, but may end up as Scar Tissue. It depends on what our label wants to put out.

Jester: What do you think the chances are that the "Cyberbabies" compilation will ever be released?

Steve: I think it will definitely be released. I don't recall ever hearing this much talk about an unreleased CD. Labels that don't want to release it are, in my opinion, stupidly turning down the best free advertising they could get.

Jester: You have released two albums, a remix collection, and have appeared on numerous compilations. What does the future hold for you musically?

Steve: Well, we go through some long stretches of inactivity, but then we'll get a spurt of creativity which yields great stuff. I sometimes get scared that I'll power up the sampler and have no new ideas. It hasn't happened yet, and even if it does, at least I can produce Phil's music.

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