Waffle irons and chainsaws, dancing radioactive twine named Bobubbachuck. This is the story of Son Of Rust, a Portland, OR, based band of electronic mayhem and scathing lyrics. Coming up hard and fast from riffage.com, SOR have been pushing into new musical territory. See the review of their release, Silicon Gene in Legends #95. We recently electronically cornered techhead frontman, Justin Coope, and threatened to take away his Internet access if he didn't rattle off some answers for Legends. (---Pan)
Describe some of the creative techniques used to achieve specific aspects of Son of Rust recordings.
Just to clarify - This is Justin, front-man for SOR answering these questions. I'm sure the other members of the band have their own motivations, but, for the sake of getting this interview done in a timely manner, I'll be the voice of the band for now.
We try to be as unconventional as possible when it comes to electronic music, not because we don't think we'd like using the more professional software that is currently the norm, but because we a: don't have the money, and b: don't have the patience. We've all been scripting tunes with old-school tracking programs (I started with ModEdit, and am now using Impulse and Digitrakker) for many, many years, and it's just too hard to break the habit. We'll spend DAYS trying to make get the quality up to snuff, however - adding in various MIDI and real-time sequences off our keyboards and throwing in strange samples.
Describe some of the processes involved in composing and evolving soundscrapes.
I'll get a tune stuck in my head on my lunch break, in the bathroom or on my way home from work that I just can't get rid of. By the time I get home I'm aching to get it out onto the 'puter and that's exactly what I do. Usually it helps if I'm really angered at myself about something, but always it's about getting things out of my head that I can't get rid of.
What images illustrate your visions of a "New Dark Age?"
Images of an extreme technological society. Gibsonesque to the bleeding edge. I can't wait to see bio-implants become the norm!
How do environmental and social stimuli of the times and local geography influence the developments of Son of Rust compositions?
I do my best to write about what motivates me. Usually it's something benign and over-clichéd like being screwed over by an ex, but god damnit, that's what pisses me off and that's what most people can relate to! I like to go on a bit about the sick, sad people who live inside computer-constructed fantasy worlds a bit, to poke fun at the blinded norm and all the paranoid freaks, but generally I write about things that I don't like to think about. Helps to get them outside and away from to a place where I can analyze and categorize them.
What changes in the music industry have caught your attention most during the '90s?
Oh, god, the hip-hop... the terrible, terrible hip-hop frenzy. I personally think this whole rap/hip-hop phenomena is just a symptom of the general dumbing-down of the entire human race. I mean, how else could a 909 loop and a bass line accompanied by broken self-worshipping sentences be called art? Not only is hip-hop horrible music, but it all boils down to a high school-esque popularity club where every "artist" who knows Sean Combs gets their music played on MTV, and every one who doesn't gets shot. Wow, yeah, actually, just like high-school. Popular music makes me want to smoke crack.
When not completely focused upon Son of Rust, what do you do to support yourself?
I'm a total tech-geek. I work on computers all day long, finding ways to break software for a major player in the software industry...we're all tech-heads (in SOR), as a matter of fact.
In what ways will Son of Rust live performances differ from its recordings?
Our studio recordings are largely programmed. In other words, none of it is really us sitting down at instruments and JAMMING, it's all scripted like computer code. For the live shows we cut out most of the scripted stuff and fumble around with keyboards and guitars trying desperately to look like we know what we're doing with the damn things. Most of the time it works pretty well. I've been shocked more than once. :)
Who are current members of Son of Rust, and what roles does each perform?
Justin Coope (me) started the band, writes most of the music and lyrics and does most of the fronting vocals. Ben Purdy plays ALL the guitar parts and writes some excellent music and lyrics (Common Ground and What Am I Now?). Michael Pacheco sings backup, writes music and lyrics (This Time and others).
Please describe the themes employed on recordings by Son of Rust.
Just one recording so far. It's theme is best described as "I'm lost, I'm used, I'm powerful, I'm evil, I like computers, people are sick."
How do you relate with the music created for Son of Rust?
My music (I really can't say this for the rest of SOR) is everything about me that I hate and want to get rid of. All of the egoistic superficial begging for forgiveness desperate needy CRAP is what I get out there and away from what I like to think of as what I am. When I revisit my pieces I revisit places within myself that are deeply meaningful and hurtful, but without them I would be pretty damn boring.
What would you like to accomplish through Son of Rust into the dawning of the new millennium?
I would like to see us getting out there on some form of a tour, to play some weird locations and meet some weirder people. I'd like to see more fans out there hearing what we've got to offer and loving it. I would like to develop a new form of life out of a pipe-cleaner and some radioactive twine that I could keep as a pet and call Bobubbachuck.
What other recordings, outside of Son of Rust, have been released by its band members?
I personally released a CD under the band name Vermillion called 12:01 about 4 years ago. It got some positive A & R by Taxi but when I started playing live by myself I got freaked and quit really damn fast. Getting up there alone with maybe some people who didn't give a shit about the music either way just wasn't my thing. I feel a lot stronger about what we're doing now.
What other side projects are currently being developed?
We're working on the side on videos for a couple of the songs. Due to the fact that we're all geeks we can do some fabulous digital FX with video stuffs, so we're really going for a professional edge. It's taking a long time but we hope the results will be worth it.
What will you entitle the next release by Son of Rust, and when will it be available?
Dangerous Characters. We're trying to keep the two word double-meaning digital feeling thing going on. After that will be Vicious Cycles.
Who will be distributing your next releases?
Anyone who wants to. Riffage, definitely. Us.
Where else might readers find releases by Son of Rust available for purchase?
http://musicians.riffage.com/sonofrust is our site on Riffage.com where you can find our newest songs and our CD's for sale. http://www.1201.com/silicon is our official homepage.
What are you looking for now in terms of new musical influences?
Anyone who's good at what they do. I look for artists who show real talent in specific areas and try to figure out why and how.
Which shows have you seen during the past year that impressed you the most?
Alien Crime Syndicate was good in Seattle. Not much else really impressed me all that much. :)
Backing up to now, what motivates you to continue performing and recording music as Son of Rust now?
Plainly and simply, if I didn't perform and record, I don't know what the hell I'd do.
Looking back, what mile-stones have been most notable for Son of Rust?
Damn, well, our first show in Ashland, definitely. The first time we got together and played in my tiny-ass bedroom, the first time I heard Ben's and Marty's music and went, "damn, that's good!" and the first time I turned on my Apple IIGS when I was 6 and never turned back.
Let's say it happens, you 'make it BIG' and retain complete control of your own music even, what then? How would you describe your music, and your motivation to continue as Son of Rust?
I have this crazy desire to take the easy road out and be like every other artist and say, "Nothing will change, our music will stay exactly the same." Ohhhh, how that's a total lie. If I had the money I'd put together a real damn studio, work with REAL equipment and spend all of my time locked in there paying people to shove pizza's under the door and not sleeping for months on end. I have a feeling the music would get a whole hell of a lot better. Ohhh, yeah. A HELL of a lot better.
Could you illuminate any significant details that may have influenced the development of sadness in your music?
Significant details? Do I really need a reason to complain about my life? Everyone's got problems... I guess that's how life is. I don't think mine are more important than anybody else's, I just think that maybe some people can relate. Also, I think people should accept the technological direction society is going, embrace it, and attempt to accelerate it.
When touring and dealing with a million-and-one decisions, how do you manage to work so well together without the instruments in hand?
Sheer, unadulterated luck. So far we've kept moving onward by sheer will, even when faced with hundreds of technical difficulties (in one show, the mic's all fed-back, the monitor speakers exploded and the synth levels randomly fluctuated). It's tough, but no matter how horribly a show goes, it's always a freaking blast.
What particular interests might you explore along the route of this next tour, if opportunity permits?
We might explore actually hanging out with people after the show. So far we've been kind of reclusive thanks to our fear that everyone's going to hate what were doing. Now that we've discovered that that's not entirely the case, we'd very much like to try and actually have a little fun. That will come soon. :)
What new opportunities would you seek and develop to advance the music of Son of Rust?
We'd like to employ the talents of a good drummer to trigger midi-switches and fills, as well as a decent bass player. I'm going to take some vocal lessons and smoke less, or more, depending on what sound we're shooting for. :)
Any re-mixes from previous releases?
Yes. Silicon Gene and The World You Live In are both re-created cuts off my first album, 12:01.
What changes have been made in Son of Rust during the last year?
We played our first live show - and now we're gearing up for more.
What songs have been in development since last year?
All of them. None of the cuts on this promotional release are set in stone... in fact, since the printing of this album 5 of the songs have gone through almost complete re-production.
Considering other musicians with which you have performed in the past. What experiences seem most memorable for you and what have you been able to draw out of those experiences and into Son of Rust?
At a battle of the bands we met a group called Honeytree Lane who's lead singer snapped a guitar strap half-way through the show and begged for a replacement. Ben's loaning of his precious "lucky" guitar strap led to a fairy-tale romance and a torrid love affair with the lead singer, none of which actually happened.
To be honest, our touring has been so infrequent that we haven't got any *REALLY GOOD* stories, so I'll pass on this one.
Where will you be traveling during the course of your next tour?
ANYWHERE BUT OREGON.
When and at what location is your next tour set to begin?
What gear are you using to develop music for Son of Rust?
We are using ancient tracking programs, a really nice new Roland synth (I forget the name), a Korg M1, a generic electric guitar, a bunch of various vocal processors and mixers, Sound Forge, Cool Edit Pro, a few cheap computer sound cards, a chain saw and a waffle iron.
Which songs required more significant development in production?
We put at least 4-5 months into every cut. I can't think of a single song that required more attention than any of the others, so this is a difficult question to answer. I care deeply about every cut on this promo.
Which musicians have won your admiration in the music industry and why?
I'm going to be totally clichè and say Trent Reznor was probably my biggest influence. Kurt Harland/Paul Robb of Information Society come in a close second. Reznor because he was undeniably the first to really bring on a total revolution in computer music (in America, at least). Before him everything was plinky 80's emotionless crap. After, people suddenly realized "HEY! This can have actual FEELING in it!" I loved it. I ate it up. I reveled in it. Paul Robb/Harland because they made me feel like I was an actual person, and that it was okay to like computers and be weird. Those guys were weird. Weirder than weird. Thank god.
Besides performing live from one gig and tour to the next, what other forms of media will Son of Rust explore in the future? And, if applicable, have you already begun to explore beyond the routines of 'record & perform'?
Ohh, definately video. All of us are amateur film directors at heart, and although that leads to a lot of symantec problems, it also leads to some great digital video work. You'll see some incredible stuff coming out of our web pages fairly soon, that is, after we finally maim each other enough to settle upon who's got the right ideas.
What new goals will you focus upon now?
Finishing a final cut of this album. Developing some kind of fan base in the area. Playing live more often.
What more would you like to share with our readers?
Thank you for reading! Listen to our stuff and tell us why you like it or don't! We are really, REALLY, not just saying this, REALLY want to know if people are getting what we're saying...don't be shy now!
How can music enthusiasts best contact Son of Rust for more information?
Hit our website or give us feedback on Riffage. You know the URL's.