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Interview with Society Burning - conducted by telephone - 8/13/97

Jester: Why did it take so long for your debut album "Tactiq" to be released?

David: Part of it was our fault and part of it was due to bureaucracy. We had originally started recording the album back in 1995. At the time we were spending a great deal of money in a recording studio in Golden, Colorado. We were sick and tired of working with ADAT's and other pitiful gear, we decided to pay $50 an hour for quality studio time. Unfortunately the tracks didn't end up sounding as good as we expected.

Previously we had farmed out some of the older tracks to other artists to remix. So around December of 1995, Chase informed us that if we could not get our mixes up to par that he was going to start replacing tracks on the album with remixes. We sort of panicked and as the final deadline for the album approached Chase called us back and suggested that he just use the remixes for an EP release rather than on the album.

We ended up coming to an understanding that within three months of the release of the EP, the album would be released. "Entropy Lingua" hit the stores in March of 1996 and everything was looking good. Unfortunately we were having problems being satisfied with the quality of our mixes. Six months passed and we finally buckled down in our home digital studio. We ended up reworking six of the eleven tracks on "Tactiq". Those tracks ended up sounding 150 times better than any of the material we had recorded in the $50/hour studio which totally enforced the DIY concept in us again.

By October of 1996, we had the album completed to our satisfaction but once again bureaucracy hit us. Since we had already had an album released and several other artists on the Re-Constriction roster did not, we were forced to wait our turn again. Ultimately, I think the final product is worth it regardless of the length of time it took to get released. I am much more satisfied with the work that we did in our home studio than with the professional studio work.

Jester: I was really impressed with how you reworked some of the older material that had originally appeared on self-released cassettes. I was surprised by how fresh the material sounded even though a track could have been from four years ago.

David: The reason why that material sounds so different is because a while back we had wanted to update our sound for some live performances. This all occurred during the time when we had recorded the unreleased "State of Decay" album and had started to shop it to labels. We spent some time bringing the older material up to speed with the newer tracks. So as our sound as a band kept evolving, we kept re-recording our older material to keep it sounding current. However, in October 1996, we finally declared the older material as complete and have abandoned all future changes to those tracks.

Jester: How did you first meet Chase and eventually arrange a record deal through Re-Constriction Records?

David: Back in 1991, Chase had a job transporting cars from one city to another. He had just released the first If It Moves compilation and decided that it would be an opportune time to scope out the underground Industrial scenes in the cities he passed through. He was in Arizona when he called two college radio stations in New Mexico looking for bands. By pure circumstance one of our former band members was hanging out at one of those radio stations and he talked to Chase. So, both of them hashed out a time and place to meet when Chase passed through Albuquerque.

We all converged and gave Chase a copy of the "Is God in Showbusiness Too?" cassette that we had recorded the previous spring semester. During the recording of that album I happened to be the caretaker of the New Mexico State University recording studio. We had a 16 track recorder at our disposal 24 hours a day and I happened to have keys to the music building. The following semester we recorded "Plague" and then took a long hiatus.

Jester: That was around the last time I spoke with you. You managed to send me a copy of a multimedia demo on diskette and mentioned something about a CD-ROM album before you disappeared.

David: Unfortunately, at the time we could not sell anyone on the idea of the CD-ROM concept. That was kind of a bummer because we wanted to get people hooked on the concept of throwing a CD-ROM comic book on the end of our album, including band biographies and other material. Of course a few years later major record labels started doing just that. We had ended up being far too ahead of our time for our own good.

Jester: Why did you finally change your name from The Watchmen to Society Burning? Was it due to legal issues associated with the DC comic by the same name?

David: No. However, it did end up being a legal issue revolving around two other bands that were fighting to use the same name at that time. After we had released our second cassette we found out about two other bands with the same name so we decided that it would probably be in our best interest to change our name.

So, about 5-6 months after moving to Denver I came home from a rather difficult day at work and was seething in front of the television set with a beer in my hand. I was watching a protest demonstration against nuclear weapons testing that was being performed by climbing a building. I ended up sitting there thinking how amazingly absurd that kind of protest was. To this day, I still haven't been able to make any connection between protesting nuclear weapons and climing a building.

While watching this event on television, I started to think about how stupid the protest was and how society must be burning. I started to think about that statement and realized how catchy it was. I presented the idea to Boom one day in the studio and he liked it. Armed with this new band name, we managed to make the cut for the If It Moves "Rivethead Culture" compilation. We ended up submitting a track from "Plague" under the new Society Burning name.

Jester: What is the Denver scene like these days? Are you still planning on moving to San Diego?

David: Unfortunately we are still trapped in Denver for financial reasons. Luckily there seem to be quite a few new Industrial and Techno acts starting up around the area. Yet the people who seem to be really into the music don't have all that talent and vice versa.

Right now I am attending the Colorado Institute of Art to get my associate's degree in Computer Animation. Ultimately the degree is my meal ticket to eventually move me to California. I really wouldn't mind programming video games games for $50,000 a year either. I've got about a year to go and then watch out California, here I come.

Jester: Are you still working in the comic book industry doing artwork?

David: Yes. Right now I am wrapping up a four chapter piece called "Morpheus Laughing". It is a rather engulfing project and it seems to be taking up quite a bit of my time. I hand drew all of the pictures, scanned them into the computer and did all of the coloring there. So going to school for computer animation seemed like a logical progression for hobby I really enjoyed.

Boom and I have always been quite a graphic arts team. I have always been the dominant raw artist while Boom has always been the layout person. Between the two of us we seem to be able to catch quite a few eyes.

Jester: How did Tracy join Society Burning?

David: Actually she is Boom's wife who happens to have once been a Miss Teen Colorado. She joined us a few years ago after we spent quite a bit of time trying to find a live keyboardist who didn't have an ego problem and yet still had a decent set of playing skills. Out of absolute frustration, I asked Tracy to join us onstage. I mentioned that she didn't actually have to play and she amazed me by saying that she had a few years of classical piano training in her childhood. Within only a few weeks she was playing live with us. She is a definite trooper and can pound out music during a live session amazingly well.

One of the things that seems to amaze people is that we try to play as much material as possible live. So on the DAT tape we only include the sample loops and sequence parts that no human could ever possibly play. To that effect Boom and I will switch back and forth between vocals. When I am singing he will alternate between keyboards and rhythm guitar, and when he sings, I mainly just play guitar. Eventually we want to make our shows more of a multimedia event. We want to have the normal visual interaction with the band along with an intergrated array of generated visuals to enjoy.

Jester: Are you planning on doing a small tour now that you have finally released a full length album?

David: We are hoping that maybe by fall we can do a west coast tour but don't quote me on it. We want to get at least a week long tour organized and we will keep our web page up to date with current information. Right now we are borrowing some friends net space at NMSU from John Holden who did some of the artwork on the "Entropy Lingua" cover. Hopefully we will be able to acquire our own domain name soon and move to our own site.

Jester: Are you working on any new material right now?

David: As a matter of fact we have been working constantly on new music since the album was completed. We just did a soundtrack for a CD-ROM game called "Doctor Tomorrow's Guide to the Future". The game is still in beta testing at the moment, but hopefully it will be in stores by Christmas. For the CD-ROM we chose to do more of a Techno groove on around thirty tracks.

Also, DJ Twitch, Boom and myself all just finished some remixes for Iron Lung Corporation's "Chemikaze". All three of us went for our own individual styles for three separate remixes to give us a chance to branch out on our own and experiment.

Finally, aside from working on the new album, we are working on a new project called "Cyber-Punk Fiction". We are currently doing six tracks on the soundtrack. It is rather all encompassing as we are also working on parodies of the movie samples and conversations that appeared on the original soundtrack. I get to play Vincent.

Jester: Do you ever find out what is in the briefcase?

David: In our version it would probably be a laptop computer. Much to our joy we are doing all four of the surf tunes on the soundtrack so we have to design some pretty crazy sounds to make them sound passable.

Jester: How long are most of those tracks?

David: A lot of them were originally short but we are taking some liberties songwriting-wise. We probably only use maybe 1-2 riffs from the original version and then head off towards a moody direction. We go anywhere from 102 BPM to 160 BPM in a single song. Tracy will also be making her vocal debut on that album as well. If things go well, we might start up a new project with her on vocals exclusively.

Jester: What is the secret track 69 on the "Tactiq"?

David: 'Stand & Deliver' by Adam & The Ants. It is a better version of what appeared on "Shut Up Kitty". We ended up reworking that track back when Chase was till considering re-issuing "Shut Up Kitty" at the same time he released Operation Beatbox. The mix on "Shut Up Kitty" had always been a thorn in my side because the recording environment for that track was just atrocious. It ended up costing us less than $100 to rework it so it was well worth it.

Unfortunately the distributing company that was going to release the new version of "Shut Up Kitty" folded as a record label. So Re-Constriction chose to release 16 Volt's "Letdowncrush" and Operation Beatbox via I.R.S. records distribution. In the meantime MCA Records picked up Cargo Records so it looks like the new version of "Shut Up Kitty" has been shelved indefinitely.

Jester: Was your record released through MCA?

David: Unfortunately it was not. They looked at "Entropy Lingua" and saw that the sales were not that good so they choose to not pick us up this time around. For an EP that wasn't promoted and didn't have any backing interviews or advertising for it, I thought it did rather well. We are hoping to redeem ourselves with "Tactiq". So far we have been meeting with very positive press and I am hoping we can get it out there and keep moving up the musical feeding chain.

Jester: How did you first get involved with making music?

David: It all started when I was five years old. I begged my parents to buy me a piano and by the time I was nine they had buckled under the pressure and sprung for piano lessons. Unfortunately my piano teacher had the Hitler method of teaching and kept hitting the sheet music with a metal ruler to force me to keep time. I stuck with it for a few years while going through a period of absolutely hating music.

By the time I got to high school I found that it was easier to meet girls if you happened to be in a rock band. So I started playing on cover bands, all the while working on my own compositions on a four track recorder in my bedroom.

By the time I got to college, I had started networking with other musicians. As fate would have it, I eventually became one of the instructors for some of the recording arts classes. Before I started teaching, I was working in the college recording studio where I met Boom who was recording for a band called Your Mother.

I didn't run into Boom again until 6-7 months later when I was having a rather bum weekend. It was really late in the evening, all the banks were closed, I was out of money, didn't have an ATM and I was out of cigarettes. So I decided to wander onto campus to bum some smokes from someone I knew. I wandered by one of the dorms and ran into Boom. I bummed a cigarette off of him and we started talking. By the end of the bull session we had schedule a jam for the middle of the week.

He showed up with his guitar the following Wednesday and we ended up writing 'Crash'. We had a natural synergy together and we have been writing partners ever since.

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