Sunday, February 26, 2012

Erik Stenglein/Northless

Northless has a distinct, focused sound somewhere outside the monotony of sludge and the other genres they get lumped into, but not too distant to feel unfamiliar. NPR may have summed it up better than anyone else by dropping the annoying genre tags and comparing them to a “woolly-mammoth-riding-a-humpback-whale-through-Stonehenge.” As ridiculous as that may sound, pick up a copy of Clandestine Abuse and try to tell me that they were wrong with that analogy. You won't get very far. But, there is more to them than endless pummeling riffs and driving rhythms. This band is undeniably sincere. DIY to the core and pissed off at all of the right things. Erik Stenglein, guitarist/vocalist, has been a presence in the Milwaukee DIY scene for years now. He's played with hardcore juggernauts: Protestant (bass,) grind overlords: Half Gorilla (drums,) math rock virtuosos: Vacations (guitar) and soundscapists Captivity (guitar/pedals/noise.) Needless to say, he's a talented individual and its been a pleasure knowing him for the past few years. 

Northless seems to be an ever-evolving project with a rotating cast of super-musicians, can you briefly explain the origins of Northless and how it's became what it is today? And where did the name come from? does it have a specific meaning or is it one of those “open to interpretation” things?

Northless began in August 2007, in the basement of the super sketchy house I was living in here in West Allis, WI. For the previous 5 years, I had been playing guitar in a band called Vacations (math rock/prog type stuff) with Dan, who was the first drummer for Northless. Essentially, and from my perspective, there were some creative and personal differences that drove that band apart in the end. I really just wanted to do more with my time and musical energy. I pretty much told Dan that I was going to quit the band, and when he heard my reasoning as to why, he decided that it was in his best interest to follow suit.

Dan and I agreed that we wanted to continue playing music together. All I knew was that I wanted to play heavier stuff again. I literally had no pretense about it. We started off looking for a bass player, and found one right away in our good pal Scott Lashay (awesome tattoo artist and musician who plays in Drumlins, and Lines & Terminals currently). We had our first practice in that shitty basement I mentioned earlier. I came armed with the first riff to the song “Await The Fires of Man”, which is the first song on our first demo. We pretty much wrote that song at that practice and spent the next 4 months writing our first demo.

As with most bands, the lineup and, to some degree, the sound of the band simply evolved over time. Scott exited the band in May 2008, so we decided to continue on as a 2 piece, just guitar and drums. I bought ridiculous amounts of amps and cabs until we had over 1800 watts running at one point. It was a lot to haul around, but it was loud and heavy sounding. Dan and I wrote the music for the 7” split w/ Protestant, the “Leaving The Wolves” tape, the “No Quarter for The Damaged” LP, and a tune called “In Heaven” (which eventually ended up on a comp LP released by Inherent Records) together. We also did some touring in there.

Eventually, Dan decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue drum instruction at M.I. I was pretty bummed about it, because I had lost both a good friend and a tremendous drummer. I was going to dissolve the band and quit music altogether, until a number of people came forward with interest in playing in Northless with me. I decided that I would give one last shot, and ask some of my favorite musicians in the city to play with me. I asked Nick to play guitar, and John Gleisner to play drums. They both agreed. John Grant, a great pal and musician, asked to play bass and of course I was thrilled to have him in the band.

This became the lineup that wrote and recorded the “Clandestine Abuse” LP. Shortly after the record was done, John Grant decided to quit the band and move to California (notice a theme yet?) to pursue his new career. We had no bass player and kinda panicked. Our good friend Jerry Hauppa (amazingly talented guitarist of Concentric, Bled Awake, tons of others...) decided to fill in for us on bass until we found a replacement. One year, a couple tours, and some ape jokes later, and Jerry decided to join our band for real in Fall 2011.

...which pretty much brings us to now!

Anyone who has ever set foot in a band setting knows the hardship of finding and keeping a competent drummer, let alone someone of Dan Opgenorth's caliber. That guy is a beast. I'm sure it was a nightmare trying to find a drummer with a fraction of his talent, what was it like filling his shoes? How on earth did you find on John Gleisner? He seemed like an unlikely match, but Jesus H. Christ – he's a machine! (I saw him play an entire set with mono. He was pouring buckets of sweat and looked like he was going to literally die in front on me, but he was relentless and driven and he never missed a beat. Impressive would be an understatement)

Dude, you pretty much said it all right there. As I mentioned, I was bummed and of course worried about finding even a passable replacement for Dan when he left, because that guy had a style like few drummers I'd ever played with. He was so in-the-pocket and hard hitting. He played the songs we wrote together extremely well, and was a great friend on top of that. Hopefully someday I'll see him again...

However, it didn't take me long to realize that John Gleisner not only filled his shoes, but wore an entirely different set of shoes that I think has served the band even better overall. John used to play in the band Mahogany Throttle, who were an excellent local Milwaukee prog/math rock band. I remember having wanted to play with them so many times when I was in Vacations, but it never worked out. I also remember downloading a shitload of their tunes for free off their website years ago, and driving around in my car jamming to them.

I don't even know what to say about John. He's a fucking beast. He's like the love child of John Bonham, Keith Moon, Bill Bruford, and Buddy Rich all in one. Of course he hits hard as fuck and plays huge drums, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. John has a swing that separates him from other drummers out there, who just metronomically plod along without any real feel. John has the bombast of 10 drummers in one, and can play shit that is seriously mind-blowing. I love being able to come in with some whacked time signature riff, only to show it to John and have him rocking to it like he wrote it himself in like 30 seconds. His feel and sense of dynamics is better than any drummer I have ever played with. He knows when to play a lot, and when to play not a lot. I can't say enough good things. Having him as a member of the band has been absolutely incredible.

It seems as though Clandestine Abuse has brought out more of the majestic post-rock and technical math-rock elements that played less of a role in previous albums. How does being a four piece band as opposed to a two or three piece affect the song writing process? Do you still do majority of the writing and present it to the band or is there something else going on? 

It's interesting that you would say that, because I actually thought that “Clandestine Abuse” laid back on a lot of the post-rock elements! I know that from my perspective, I tried to do less of that because I just think there are so many bands out there that do the “post-rock” thing better than we do. I just want to play heavy, discordant, dissonant riffs most of the time. I write tons of weird shit at home in the Northless tuning that I ultimately toss out, because it's maybe even too whacked for what we do. For as out-there as we sometimes get, I always try to have that element fit within the context of a song. A song, to me, is not just a bunch of riffs thrown together. It has to make some kind of sense, with some sort of unifying theme or idea or melodic pattern.

The “math rock” element is a reflection of who we all are as musicians. We have all played in prog bands, but love heavy music, so it was only natural that we'd nerd out a bit. I think we'll always have elements like that in the band, more than likely...

Having a 4 piece configuration is so much more liberating. It opens up the sound to so many different melodies and harmonies and so forth. Even just having a second guitar is so great, especially one as amazing as Nick. He does so many cool things that simply would not be possible with just one guitar. Jerry is also an amazing bass player. His melodic sense is incredible, and I'm really excited for people to hear how his sound is helping drive the direction of our new material!

The writing process in Northless is pretty democratic, in that we all contribute ideas to the mix. For example, Nick wrote two songs entirely by himself for the band, and those are going to be on our next releases. John will be singing by himself on a tune as well! He's the Liberace of drums (I kid, I kid). In the end, I do still write quite a lot of the music, and to some degree, I try to steer the direction of the band in a way that is commensurate with my overall vision of Northless. As time goes on though, I am confident that we'll continue to evolve and bring new elements to the sound. 

Gear is obviously a major piece of the puzzle that is Northless. I'm sure you could go on for hours about current gear, previous gear and gear that might be implemented in the fact I know that you could! So could you touch on some of the major key pieces that make up the distinct sound that gear nuts everywhere have been drooling about? It almost seems like the more members in the band, the less amps get used. Is there a method to this madness or is it just another progression in the search for the perfect tone? 

You're right, I could nerd out about gear forever! Haha. Well, I'll try to keep it short (I've been doing a shit job of that thus far). The first most important element is the bass rig. The Ampeg 8x10 is ubiquitous to good bass tone...period. The head is a Peavey. It's 400 watts all-tube, not unlike an Ampeg SVT, but louder. We need an insane bass sound to fill whatever room we're playing in. The next most important element of our sound is our custom Emperor cabs. They are 4x12/1x15's. As soon as we got those cabs, the sound filled out in a way that I'd never heard before. Loud, warm, biting, but with HEADROOM, which is what's important to sounding loud.

Nick and I of course have shitloads of pedals between us: fuzz/distortion/overdrive, delays, weird chorus pedals, ring modulators...all kinds of shit. For me, my main fuzz pedal has been a revolving door in the last year or so. I have this Boss Metal Zone that I modified myself that I have really enjoyed, but I recently switched that out for a couple others. As of this very moment, I have a Blackout Effectors Musket v.1 fuzz sitting on my board. It's like a green Big Muff on steroids, with a mid knob, which is absolutely essential to being loud. I also recently procured a Black Arts Toneworks Black Forest overdrive, which is easily the best overdrive I have ever played (the Death By Audio Interstellar Overdriver is a close second). I have that on my board now as well, driving the Musket. I get tons of gain and fuzz with that sound.

One important element of tone that guys overlook is strings. I am very picky about my strings for tuning down, mainly because I have to look far and wide to find strings big enough! I use a 0.15-0.80 LaBella set, and occasionally an Ernie Ball Baritone set. The bass strings are custom Rotosounds. They kick ass...If you're going to tune down, get your guitar set up by a professional and use the heaviest strings you can find that you can still bend. Turn your gain knob up. Turn your midrange knob way up. Bass and treble to taste. And, of course, put your volume knob as high as you can. That's the real secret.

Northless has some releases on the horizon; a 10” record and a split with UK's finest post-hardcore outfit: Light Bearer. This must be exciting for you and the rest of the band, especially coming off of the success of Clandestine Abuse. What can we expect from these releases and more importantly when can we expect them? Will there be a tour or two after their releases?

Exciting would be an understatement! Alex, who is kinda the head guy of Light Bearer it seems, was in this amazing band Fall of Efrafa who I have incredible respect for. Light Bearer is a perfect example of a band that does the “post rock” thing better than we do, so we'll leave that to them while we keep trying to rip off Unsane and Crowbar at the same time, haha...So yeah, we're releasing a split 10” with them. The cover art is out there already and looks insane. The record should be out by summer, I'm guessing. We're recording soon...

As far as what to expect, I think these songs we've written recently are pretty diverse. The two songs we are planning to contribute to this are both some of our heaviest, I think, sonically and in content. One song Nick wrote, and it's super heavy and melodic. The other is a bit more noise-rock influenced and more chaotic, but with some really dark and discordant riffs in it like what we're known for, I think.

We're also in talks with Halo of Flies to do a very special release to commemorate the 5 year anniversary of Northless, which will be August of 2012. Mum is the word on that right now, though. More to come...

As far as tours, we're hoping to get out a little bit later this year. Personal lives have made it more difficult to tour at this point. I just took a new job and so that has impacted my ability to take vacations and so forth. We'll definitely be playing out a lot, though. That'll never change!

A band of this caliber could easily put DIY on the back burner, especially with Clandestine Abuse selling like hotcakes and people like Cory (Halo of Flies) and Adam (Gilead Media) behind the wheel of DIY distribution. What drives you and the rest of the band to stick to those DIY roots?

DIY is simply the best way to go. It's extremely difficult to hand over the reins to anyone else when it comes to your vision, and your expectations of how things should go. A lot of people have said stuff like “I heard this band and thought they were bigger”, or “how come I never see this band on bigger tours?” and so forth. All I can say is this: we work really hard at what we do, and we go where it takes us. We're not the kind of band that tries to give blowjobs to some big, hip label, or to any hipster asshole bands, just to get our name in a magazine or a song on a comp or something. Cory and Adam are two close friends of mine, and have been for a long time. They release some of the best music out there today, and I am honored and humbled to be able to work with them as I have. There aren't enough words in the world to express my gratitude to them.

My personal hope is that people see what we do as sincere, because whether that is the perception or not, it is absolutely 100% sincere art...period. It's an extension of my being. I play music as a form of spiritual, existential release, and for fun, and that is it. I have great fun playing shows and meeting cool people in cool bands. I love spewing hate on stage. We'll play with anybody. We just love to play.

And finally, your line of work outside of the band clearly has a an effect on the general concept of Northless. From the lyrics to the chord changes, could you briefly explain how your own personal struggles and experiences translate into the music you create?

Where to begin, haha...Well, in short, I am a hate-filled person. I have been pretty angry and hate-filled for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a place filled with ignorant, violent assholes. I was always on the defensive, and I learned really quickly how shitty people could be. I finally started really fighting back against assholes once I got older. I spent a bunch of years unsuccessfully trying to avoid violence, but in the end I would always get into some shit with one person or another. Looking back, I should have fought more. I always tried to be the bigger person, but in truth, none of those people deserved my mercy. If I knew then what I know now...Someday, they'll all pay, though. I promise you that.

As I've gotten older and wiser, I've learned to despise humanity even more. I have my close family and friends, but in reality, I have no desire to interact with most humans in this world. I feel like lashing out all the time. I feel like killing every moment of every day. Sometimes I shoot guns and it helps a bit. It's hard not to constantly just choke people, it really is.

I've been a social worker for 8 years. Maybe I'm the wrong person for that job, I dunno...haha. I've done a lot of good and helped a lot of people, but the things I've seen and experienced during that time have really taken the blinders off and put me into a place that is kinda hard to deal with a lot of the time. I have seen so much misery and suffering and violence. It has affected me in a way I can't undo. A lot of people ask me if I'm depressed, to which I reply no, I am not depressed, I am realistic. If people have been through what I've been through, seen what I've seen, they would be the same way I think. And if not, it doesn't matter. Fuck 'em if they don't get it. In the end, we'll all rot together...hopefully them first.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gilead Fest

APRIL 28TH & 29TH, 2012 in OSHKOSH, WI
Beginning around 3:00 PM
(Bleak funeral doom from Nashville, TN.)
Listen: Loss Blogspot

Ash Borer
(Black metal from Arcata, CA/Portland, OR.)
Listen: Bandcamp

Fell Voices
(Atmospheric black metal from CA/NY.)
Listen: Bandcamp

A Scanner Darkly
(Reuniting for the fest w/guest members. Sci-fi grind/sludge.)

(Scathing sludge/doom from Salem, OR.)
Listen: YouTube

Get Rad
(Fast hardcore from Milwaukee, WI.)
Listen: Bandcamp

(Doom from San Fransisco, CA.)
Listen: Bandcamp

(Aggressive and fast hardcore from Milwaukee, WI.)
Listen: Halo Of Flies

Arms Aloft
(Melodic punk from Eau Claire, WI.)
Listen: Bandcamp
Beginning around 1:00 PM
(True Baton Rouge drone. Performing their Tyrant LP live.)
Listen: Thou Website

(Relentless black metal from Minneapolis, MN.)
Listen: Bandcamp

The Body
(Noise/sludge from Providence, RI.)
Listen: At A Loss Recordings

Mutilation Rites
(Thrashy black metal from Brooklyn, NY.)
Listen: Bandcamp

(Misanthropic sludge/doom from Milwaukee, WI.)
Listen: Bandcamp

(Solo black metal project of M. Rekevics. Rare live performance)

Baby Boy
(Heavy punk from Baton Rouge, LA.)
Listen: Bandcamp

(Atmospheric doom from Iowa.)
Listen: Floating Cave Soundcloud

Darger + Plague Mother
(Two ohio noise projects playing a combine set.)
Listen (Darger): Darger Soundcloud
Blog (Plague Mother): Blogspot
Electric Lounge & Lanes. 405 Washington St, Oshkosh, WI 54901.
Photo of the space within the Electric Lounge:
This show will now be ALL AGES. The venue has agreed to go without serving alcohol for the two days of the fest so we can remove the age restriction.

Tickets are on sale NOW! There will only be 250 tickets available for each day, don't hesitate. I anticipate the festival selling out during ticket pre-sales.
There is a good chance there will be NO tickets available at the door.
 get tickets here:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cory Von Bohlen/Halo of Flies

Cory is the smell of cigarettes and the taste of coffee embodied. He's what I like to call a lifer, DIY to the core and in it for the long hall. There isn't much else to say about the guy other than the fact that he's been there and done that and there is a good chance that he's going to keep doing it long after you've dropped out. I've got mad respect for him and it was an honor for him to answer these questions for me.

What is Halo Of Flies? When and how did its formation come about?

Halo of Flies is a record label first and foremost. i also sell records/do distribution for other labels, via trades or through wholesale purchases or consignment. 
Do you consider HOF to be a business, if so what role do DIY ethics play in its success?

Not really. For starters i am not legitimate, so i dont have much to say as far as 'business' goes. I strive to be fair, friendly and fast in all facets of the label. I dont make bands sign contracts, nor do i hand them stacks of cash. Everything i do is mostly sealed by nod or handshake. I have grown a ton over the last five to six years, but i still operate mostly as i did then. I use the networks that DIY Punk/Hardcore provides to perform daily 'business' and wouldnt be doing this if not for that same networks existence. Friends helping friends for the most part. If what i did with Halo of Flies was shaped entirely by standard practices of 'real' record labels, id never have started it, and for sure wouldnt have lasted if i did. 

The fact that HOF is a strongly rooted in DIY ethics translates into something of a not so profitable business, how does the financial end work out? Does it internally finance itself or are you forced to take financial hits now and then?

True. And since i don't keep or have to keep strict financial records, thats hard to answer with any real certainty. Lets say when i am putting out a lot of records, i dont deposit a lot of my paychecks from my day job. On the other hand, i probably spend more on postage and the production of records in a year than i make at said day job, and i almost always have the same (decent amount of) money in the bank and available for more releases. Id say its a 'break even' proposition.

You put out records for bands from around the world, not just Milwaukee, was that your intention or were you more focused on Milwaukee bands during the inception of HOF?

Well initially, the plan was to release records for my band and other locals. I had plans from the start to branch out, but it happened faster than i think i imagined. Now i think i have 3 locals on my 'roster', with the others being spread all over from California to Poland. 

Larger labels take interest in the records you distribute, as of late Southern Lord, with bands like Masakari and Milwaukee locals Enabler, do you consider that to be a symbiotic relationship or can it be somewhat threatening?

Yes, to some degree they do, with Southern Lord being the glaring example. They (re the owner Greg) are more interested in what they like, and are encouraged to check out bands via other bands on their roster and friends just like i am or you are. In the cases you mentioned, its a fairly symbiotic relationship. We all want the bands to do well, and for our releases to do well, and above else we like the bands and stuff they do. In all honesty though, larger labels can offer a lot more than i can, and i do wish sometimes i had their resources and/or buying power. I could release a lot more awesome stuff if i had the money, influence, etc that Southern Lord and their ilk do. But hey, more power to them for finding cool stuff to release. It only helps the band and me in the end.

What steps do you take to get HOF and the bands it represents out there as far as “advertising?” Do you do much to promote the name or is it firmly rooted in word of mouth? Do the relationships HOF holds with other labels help that process?

I run a few ads. I send out copies for review. I send review/preview copies to certain blogs/websites that have taken an interest in what i do or what the bands i release do. I post a lot on a few message boards. I don’t do much, but through the kind words of loyal customers and the bands themselves, people definitely seek me out. There are some very loyal folks out there who speak very highly of me and the label. That helps immensely. In that there lies a responsibility to them as well, and i try my damndest not to let them down. As far as other labels, i think we all have a common bond and respect each other. And of course we get stoked about each others activities, and do our best to talk each other up when we can.

You play in the Milwaukee band Protestant. Protestant is a household name in the punk community in Milwaukee, did that play into the creation of HOF?

Yep. Ha! If you say so. Maybe because we refuse to leave after nearly 7 years. Yeah it did. I started the label when i was almost 34 years old. We had 20 year old kids releasing our records previous to my involvement. Nothing against youth, as i'm just a kid with adult money, but i think i/we knew what we wanted and how to do it a bit more than others interested at the time. So it was only natural, as i was already doing distribution of our records and had been aware of what it took to run a label via long discussions over the years with other label folks.

What are some releases that we should be looking forward to from HOF?

SUFFERING MIND / PROTESTANT split 6"  - milwaukee hardcore vets vs. polish grindcore kings - OUT MARCH 2012
AMAROK / ENTH split LP - California doom vs Polish doom - OUT MARCH 2012
RUINED FAMILIES s/t 7" - blackened hardcore from greece - OUT FEB 2012
SNIGMORD demo TAPE - melodic norwegian punk - OUT SPRING 2012
ENABLER 'all hail the void' LP - milwaukee metallic hardcore - OUT APRIL 2012 
NEGATIVE STANDARDS I-V 10" - brutal bay area hardcore - OUT MAY 2012 
LIGHTBEARER / NORTHLESS split LP - Uk post metal vs Milwaukee doom metal - OUT SUMMER 2012
MASAKARI / GRIN AND BEAR IT - split 5" - ohio crust/hardcore kings vs Ohio pv/hardcore ex Antilles - OUT JULY 2012
LIGHTBEARER silver tongue DLP - UK post metal - OUT FALL 2012 

ENABLER / DRAINLAND split 7"/ NOT ON TOUR n.o.t on tour TAPE / MOMENTUM whetting occams razor LP / PROTESTANT stalemate 10" (repress) / ALPINIST / MASAKARI split LP / NORTHLESS clandestine abuse DLP / THE ASSASSINATORS i disse morke tider 7" OUT SOON / LATER in 2012: SUFFERING MIND / PROTESTANT split 6" (feb2012) AMAROK / ENTH split LP (feb2012) RUINED FAMILIES 7" (feb2012) SNIGMORD demo TAPE (feb2012) ENABLER lp (april2012) NEGATIVE STANDARDS 10" (may2012) LIGHTBEARER / NORTHLESS split LP (summer2012)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Peter J. Woods

I've known Peter for a handful of years, only more recently on a personal basis. He's constantly moving forward onto his next creative endeavor and I'd go far as to say that he is the single most important presence to Noise in Milwaukee. It's a bold claim, but anyone who knows of him will undoubtedly say something similar. I remember very clearly the first time I saw him perform. He was the first act in a line up of hardcore and metal bands (he likes to book mixed genre shows, something I've grown to appreciate to no end.) I was familiar with noise enough to know that I wanted nothing to do with it, I thought it was a stupid concept and I meant to show up late to miss his set. Fortunately I didn't miss it and it blew my mind. Over the next year or so I started to attend shows he set up until I went to my first Noise Fest. Ever since then I've been bugging Peter to tell me what he thinks of my sets and what I can do to improve. But he's not just important to me, sure I dig the material he puts out but he's much more than just a performer, he's the backbone of something I've grown to love: Milwaukee Noise and Experimental.  

Can you briefly explain noise and other experimental music for those who might not know or for those who would like to know more about it?

The best way to describe is to give someone a cd and make them listen to it, but I'll try my best with word. First, take only the parts of those pink floyd songs where they stop playing songs and just start making weird sounds. Second, add lots of distortion pedals, but only sometimes. That's the best I can do. really, its just a play on sounds. Its not about melody, rhythm, or structure, but a layering and collaging of different, interacting tones. As for experimental music, I like to define it in contrast to "classical" music. Classical music, to me, is any music that works within a specific form with strict directions. This does include the common use of the term classical, but also includes things like hardcore (3 chords bridge chorus bridge chorus, go home). Experimental music is the opposite, acting outside of rules or boundaries, or acting in a constant state of breaking them.  

Tell me about your own projects and how they reflect against other Milwaukee artist.

If we are specifically talking noise, I have four major projects. First, I perform under my own name, doing a hybrid of experimental/absurdist theatre (think Beckett) and harsh noise. Second, I perform with Phoned Nil Trio, which is all improvised noise that often strays into very bizarre, absurdist (think Ionesco) territory. Third is xALLxFORxTHISx which is a very specific project in that it is all straight edge themed power electronics. Finally, I perform as An Extremely Loud Silence, which is similar to my solo work but specifically uses beckett scripts as source material. I think this differs from a lot of Milwaukee artists because they hold true to the city's industrial roots (the industrial scene thrived in town during the late 80's), performing very traditional industrial/harsh noise/power electronics. The stuff I do usually operates outside of those genres into something a bit more theatrical, minus xALLxFORxTHISx, but thematically that is separate from a lot of the deviant ideas that show up in harsh noise.  

How does the noise community in Milwaukee differ from that of other cities? It seems as though it thrives in cities along the rust belt can you say anything about that?

It's mostly different because of how tight knit the whole community is. People cross pollinate between sub-genres, which is very very nice. As for where noise is popular, I think the rust belt just has a specific taste, that being traditional industrial, harsh noise, and power electronics. Since everyone around these parts does that material, a lot of people that make that style of music stay close to home due to comfort and also more appreciative audiences, meaning that new dudes that pop up are doing similar stuff. Little bit of inbreeding, which isn't bad. As for outside the rust belt, there are a lot of thriving scenes, just not a whole lot of the old school industrial stuff.

What does FTAM stand for? When did you start FTAM and why? What kind of material do you put out? How does these project differ from your own?

Fuck the Art Museum. I started it in 2006 after I put on the first noise fest as a way to collect everything I did under one umbrella. This eventually gave way to the label of the same name. I really just started it as a way to brand myself without having to put my name on EVERYTHING (although I put it on a lot of stuff already). When people see the letters of see one of the boring fliers I make, they know what kind of show they are in for. The material I put out varies and is completely based on what I like. I ask a lot of people I have respect for and every once in a while someone I am not familiar with passes me a demo and I release that as well. The projects are all over the place, from harsh noise to drone to gabber to hip hop to free jazz, which is what separates these projects with my own.  

Tell me about Milwaukee's Noise Fest that you hold annually.

The Milwaukee Noise Fest is a three day event that hosts mainly Milwaukee’s harsh heads, but also brings in a number of different artists from the midwest all the way out to both coasts. Over three days, nearly 30 acts perform in a variety of different sub genres. The biggest goal of the festival is to invite new comers to the genre into fold by showcasing a wide variety of styles (and picking artists that represent the best of those specific sounds) while also giving everyone already in the scene a chance to hang out with out of town friends. So yeah, it's pretty much a fancy slumber party.

What role do DIY ethics play in Noise, not specifically in Milwaukee but as a whole?

If DIY ethics didn’t exist in the scene, the scene wouldn't exist. This is a very strange genre with a very small fan base, so if the artist didn’t do all the work, then no one would. Beyond that, I don’t know. I like to think that this is a life style that my fellow artists value and hold up above their egos, but I highly doubt it. Mainly, it seems like a way to get on stage.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


In the upcoming weeks, I will be posting interviews with people heavily involved with the DIY music scene in Milwaukee and beyond. I have nothing but pure respect for these individuals and it has been an honor to be able to talk with them. These are the people that keep DIY alive and thriving. Interviews with: Cory Von Bohlen, who's in the metallic hardcore band Protestant/runs Halo of Flies, Peter J Woods who performs with various projects/runs FTAM, Jay Linski the mastermind behind Bullart/everyone's favorite weirdo, Erik Stenglein the driving force behind the band Northless and hopefully many more to come!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whiskey Toothpaste

Whiskey Toothpaste is my project. Its firmly rooted in power electronics and heavily influenced by Milwaukee artists such as: Peter J. Woods, Blessed Sacrifist and Custodian. This was a performance from 1/29/12 at the Borg Ward Collective, a DIY venue for music and art. The community based around this noise is small but tightly knit. I will be focusing on this community as well as other facets of the independent Milwaukee music and art scene. Enjoy.

Whiskey Toothpaste at The Borg Ward (1/29/12) from Bullart. on Vimeo.