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A Dirty Dozen with DEAD AGENT – January 2020

| 19 January 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Electro-Industrial Act DEAD AGENT officially announces the release of their new EP, SGT_SLTR_MLN.  This album was born of a collaboration between visual artist sgt_slaughtermelon / Matt Wallace and producer Funkatron / Ed Finkler.  The only vocals on SGT_SLTR_MLN, from the track “Frentik,” are entirely generated by computer. The lyrics are adapted from David Berkowitz’s infamous “Son of Sam” letters.”  We get Ed to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

There are lots of interesting bits in the samples, I think. “Bit Shifter” has a couple clips of interviews with Ed Kemper. The guy is fascinating in how articulate and seemingly put-together he is, but he also did absolutely horrific, unspeakable things. I find that dichotomy within human beings fascinating, and perhaps a bit too relatable.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I grew up with 8 older brothers and sisters, and there was a lot of music in the house – lots of late 70’s rock like KISS, Boston, and Yes. Lots of riffs and rocking shit. It wasn’t until 5th or 6th grade where I started buying some music, which involved a lot of hooky hair bands like Bon Jovi and Europe (The Final Countdown. On vinyl. I had it). In 6th grade my older brother gave me a copy of U2’s The Joshua Tree. Dubbed, as one did back then. He also had a couple of the 7” singles from that album. Folks nowadays probably don’t think of them this way, but U2 was a weird, dark band – for a massively multi-platinum album, The Joshua Tree is dark and ethereal, with just enough Americana in it to bring people in. But “With Or Without You?” How is that a hit single? Weird times man. I think that album and the aesthetics associated really got me into music deeply. I guess I always wanted to be able to be a musician, because who doesn’t want to be a rock star? But I got more into it from watching my brother play guitar. I “borrowed” his equipment and dicked around on that a lot. At the same time, I started getting into electronic stuff, like PWEI and early Nine Inch Nails and Front 242. So I  bought a BOSS DR-660 drum machine, and fucked around with that a lot, playing guitar with it and doing shitty covers of “Wish” at live shows in VFWs. Kinda all went from there.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I could make a big list, but here are a few key albums: Pop Will Eat Itself – The Looks or The Lifestyle, Metallica – …And Justice For All, Beastie Boys – Check Your Head, Mark Snow – The Truth and The Light, Front 242 – 05:22:09:12 Off, Yuzo Koshiro – Streets of Rage 2

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Only five? This will be tough. I’d say: Chemlab, Front Line Assembly, The Prodigy, Ice T, and Rage Against The Machine.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Oh man. Pie in the sky, I would love to collaborate with The Edge. A little more realistic, I would love to do something with Jared Louche.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Great question. If it’s someone familiar with the genres I touch, I’d say “electro-industrial.” I usually reference FLA and The Prodigy as a quick description. I pull from a ton of influences though – game soundtracks like the Mass Effect OST, breakbeat, hip-hop, dark noise/ambient stuff, EBM, melodic death metal etc. If it’s someone not familiar with industrial stuff, I’d say “dark electronic music.” One time a friend of mine called it “end credits music for a Netflix anime.” That made me laugh.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Being able to create something art I enjoy, and knowing I made it. Then, sharing it with other people who dig it too.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I’m the band, so, me. There are no sing-alongs except when I sing to our cats.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I was a little starstruck when I got to meet Graham Crabb last year at Cold Waves VIII. PWEI has been a huge, influential, important band for me since I was 15 years old. I definitely went fanboy on him, but he was kind enough to tolerate me.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

If money was no issue whatsoever, I would do music and video, with some web development. As it is, money is an issue, so I work as a web and software developer. It’s a pretty decent gig, all things considered.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I don’t really have regrets, despite the fact that I basically set aside music for almost 20 years, and only came back to it seriously in 2019. I never had a plan for my life, and I’ve struggled a long time to figure out who I wanted to be. I’ve struggled a lot with anxiety and depression – and I still do. But I think I ended up where I should be, doing the things I should do. I hope I have a good amount of time left to keep it up.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would very much like to be part of the recording sessions for U2’s Achtung Baby. That band has been so important to me over the years, and watching – maybe contributing! – to that process would be amazing. I was already a big U2 fan at 17 or so, but I remember as a teenager listening to “The Fly,” the first single released before the album, and thinking “holy shit, these guys are pulling in stuff from things I listen to!” Electronics, breakbeats, fucked up noise, carving it up into hooks and songs. That was such a right turn for them after Rattle and Hum. Kinda felt like maybe I was on the right track. And I was.



Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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