Some questions for JohnXMcClane!

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JohnXMcClane is a band that i stumbled upon on the (almost) legendary Vinod Karki-channel on YouTube. Needless to say, they play powerviolence, with a hint of hardcore thrown in. One of the more surprising things is that they’re from England. Kent, to be more precise. Since I haven’t heard, or at least haven’t noticed bands in this genre from England at all, it’s a shocker. The band itself consists of Ryan Thompson (guitar), Josh Jordan (bass), Joe Stokes (drums) and Tom Boughton (vocals). They’ve just released their first EP, which contained eighth track of hardcore meets powerviolence, in a totally shredding hysteria. One thing that is noticeable, is their sound, which is a little bit unique. Like a special little snowflake. All kidding aside, they’ve got some originality, which goes along well with the traditional elements of powerviolence. Anyway, I got a hold of Tom Broughton, the vocalist of the band – and asked him a couple of questions about the band, powerviolence and much more. Like Spazz shouted in one of their songs; “Sluta!“, which means “Stop!“, but we’ll never stop!

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Some questions for Image Of Life!

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Image Of Life is an interesting person, whom you may or may not know, but that’s irrelevant. According to himself, at least. He heavily indulges in what he calls “nihilist pop”, a sub-genre which he himself has coined. Not much can be said about him, but the overtly misanthropic and nihilistic music that he makes. The first album that appeared was a self-released cassette titled “Last Letters From Leper Colony“, which featured ten songs, all written between the years of 2010-2012. After being featured on Kristopher Reinshagen’s list in “favorite musiks of 2012“, on the ninth place – he delved into further anonymity. Until he surfaced once again, now to be featured on the Chondritic Sound roster, as he released a double-single in 2013, by the name of “Weight Loss In Wartime / Walking In The Dark“. This original minimal synth purveyor is not to be known, but we shall make sure to know him a little bit better. Therefore, I asked him a few questions, ranging from his albums, his person and a little bit of everything you’d ever want to know about nihilism.

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Some questions for Ashrae Fax!

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Ashrae Fax could be legendary by now, but they chose not to be. All kidding aside, I wrote about their album “Static Crash” a long time ago. Their background is in Greensboro, North Carolina – which lies in the United States of America. The band mainly consists of Alex Chesney and Renee Mendoza. What can really be said about them? They’re imaginative, to say the least. Combining elements of electro-pop, dream pop and gothic, together somewhat hard-hitting industrial undertones. One could say that they’re really original, and then one could agree with that statement. Now they’re back, to play a couple of shows. Also, because the label Mexican Summer decided to pick them up and re-master their first release “Static Crash“. So, I wanted to ask them some serious questions, and some that were not. A chilled out experience which would be an easy read for everyone that would bother with it. Have fun!

Why did you choose to reunite to play live, and release a re-master of your “Static Crash” album?

– Mexican Summer made us do it. No, really we want to support them supporting us, if that makes sense. We need to get out there and play some shows for the people who want to see us. It’s simple give and take.

Since you’re releasing it very soon, I wanted to ask you about the album itself. What was it like in the process of recording it?

– It was recorded in a 16-track studio on black face ADATs. Shitloads of outboard gear with patch bays and a 20 channel 8 bus console… we could go on and on. The gear part is fun to talk about, but still is pretty simple, we didn’t fuss over it, we just got takes and moved on. But we cut it really close because we booked tour before the record was done and were busting ass to get copies made and silkscreen the art work the day before we left.

You’ve teamed up with the Brooklyn-based label Mexican Summer for this re-master. Why is that?

– They found us really. We had no serious intentions of doing any more releases or putting anything else out. We had a successful small run re-release on Hot Releases’ label and were toying around with the idea of doing more when Mexican Summer emailed us. We had lots of material to work with so we signed up to release our entire discography.

What have you two been doing these years when you weren’t occupied with Ashrae Fax?

– Alex has been playing electronic/techno music as Faster Detail. I got married, played in a band with my husband called Filthybird for about 8 years of that time, started a tech career, bought a house. Mostly normal life stuff with music as a second job.

You’ve already gotten some rave reviews on the re-master, as I send you this. Any review in particular that got you “going”?

– I really liked Surfing on Steam’s review. I felt like s(he) really got it and shined light on the things that make our music unique. Especially the vocal performance which I think really sets our music apart from the abundance of dream-pop/goth-synth bands that are out now.

I’ve also been wondering, for some time now – who’s the man portrayed on the album itself and why did he get the pleasure to find himself on the front of it?

– It’s actually a female Chinese Air Force pilot. Our friend Scab Von Havoc from Aluminum Noise created that art work for us and it has stood the test of time.

Since your music is comprised by so many different influences, aesthetics and the likes – what kind of “aim” do you have with your songs, both lyrically and musically?

– Lyrically, the aim isn’t always clear. Some songs are more about sounds than words while others tell more of a story or are words about sounds. Musically, we just wanted to make something futuristic. And to make the kind music that we wanted to hear.

I’m not sure that people know that much about you two. What’s your background?

– We’re both X-cons.

Alright, you’re playing live in North Carolina and on the Hopscotch Music Festival later this year. What can one expect?

– A four piece band comprised of the original Static Crash players: Alex, Renee, Mike, and Robert. Some dancing. Probably some awkwardness and shoegazing from some members as we get our sea legs back. Maybe some singalongs.

Thank you for answering these questions. As I’m a robot, I expect you to leave your message here in the end. What have you got to say?

– Word up.

Head on over to Ashrae Fax’s bandcamp, so you can listen to two tracks from their re-imagined release “Static Crash!“.

Harvesting #7: Through deeper electronica armed with Featureless Ghost?

Welcome back to another edition of Harvesting. This time around I’ve been experimenting in between different forms of writing. I’ve decided that I wanted to continue with the five questions asked for different artists, bands and underground phenomenons. So in this harvest I’ll be deepening your interest in the following: Featureless Ghost. A duo consisting of Matt Weiner and Elise Tippins, which have been around since 2007. They have also been performing in Something Colds venues some time ago. Therefore I’ll also be revealing something new coming their way. Hope you enjoy this edition of Harvesting and I also hope that you’ll come back, hungering for more and more. I’ll be having a great feature tomorrow that you should not miss out on. But now, back to the interesting duo Featureless Ghost. I took some time to ask Matt Weiner and Elise Tippins five questions and I’ll also review one of their latest tracks in this edition.

So I get that you’ve been making music together since 2007, but where did it all begin and why the name Featureless Ghost?

– Our musical collaborations took on many forms and styles before we fell into the music we make as Featureless Ghost. The first official FG recordings were made in the beginning of 2011. Everything we had done prior to that lead us to where we are now. Our style was much looser and more experimental before FG, a lot noisier too, and it wasn’t until we both became more confident vocalists that we felt like we could attempt the sort of minimal-synth/dark-pop songs that we’re writing now. As far as the name goes, Featureless Ghost is a concept we picked up on from reading, thinking about, and talking about identity: the spirit-ghost, and the information net. Our songs definitely come from this space.

Could you tell me anything about the creative process behind your releases up til’ now?

– With the exceptions of “Projections” and “Biologically-Sound Cyber-Bodies,” the recording process is almost identical to the live performance. We write everything on our live rig (which doesn’t include a laptop) and try to limit ourselves to things we can pull off using what we have in front of us. We do have a few synths and drum machines in the studio that we don’t use live and will sometimes pepper the recordings with them or sample them on the MPC to trigger as we need. Synths are both sequenced and hand-played over the drum sequences written in the MPC and vocals are performed and processed live on top of it.

What kind of landmark memories have you had in your time together as Featureless Ghost?

– Our first tour of the midwest in April and May 2012 was a pretty special time. We were treated extremely well in each city and got to meet some amazing bands/artists and play to some great crowds both large and small. We didn’t go broke, although Elise got terrible bronchitis and felt miserable for a good chunk of the trip but she stayed strong and powered through regardless. It was a good first tour and definitely made us realize the benefits of hitting the road and linking up with new people.

You’re going to release your debut-LP now in October, are you stoked about it and could you reveal anything you haven’t revealed about it?

– We are extremely stoked to be releasing this LP, “Personality Matrix.” If you go to our bandcamp page you’ll see that we have 5 releases out, but unlike “Personality Matrix” none of the releases we have out are really representative of where we’re at now and where we’re going. The only way to know, without hearing the upcoming LP, is to catch us live.

Thank you for letting me ask these questions! What do you have in store now in the near future?

– Thank you! Coming up we have a tour of the East Coast and Canada and we are currently working on some new songs and recordings for upcoming FG releases. We’re always working on something new! We have also co-founded a label with our friends Chris Daresta and James Andrew called “DKA” and we will be releasing the first 3 DKA cassettes before the end of the year and have plans for future vinyl releases as well. We also have a bunch of FG videos produced by Fantastic Lands (Elise) in the works that will be released over the next few months.

The most interesting part about this song is that it sounds timeless and share the components of what makes Featureless Ghost stand the test of time. I think they have a different approach on this single if you compare to the other songs. But they’re essentially the same. If I’d think wishfully, it sounds like they’ve taken care of the more minimalistic touches that can be found within their music and made that their top effort. At least when I listen to this song, the wonderfully monotone, but at the same time varied song is drilling itself right into my eardrums. There’s some kind of retro feeling to it as well as futuristic, but I guess this could be because they’re good at that balance. It’s not obnoxiously nostalgic, yet it’s at the same time futuristic. A feeling that comes to mind when I listen to it, is that it’s got a calm and controlled tempo, yet it’s got that pushy kind of drive that turn things up a notch. Basically, it’s also built around the vocalists different expressions vocally. That sounded pretentious of me to say, but I think they get more room to experiment with their vocals in this song than they’ve had in songs prior to this one. So I’m hoping for a new turn on their behalf, and I’m also dying to hear another single-song that I can listen to.

Au revoir for this time around! In the next edition of Harvesting, namely the #8th, you’ll find yourself on familiar grounds.