Interview with d.A. Sebasstian by Brad Meyers via the internet over the course of several days.
Brad: You've been kinda low profile the last few years, what have you been doing?
d.A.: I started a couple of record labels and small on-line distribution company. Bought a house, put out some records...same old shit. I just haven't been playing out.
Brad: When was the last show you played?
d.A.: With Kill Switch...Klick, we played a Seattle TV show called Eye On Seattle back in '97. That was right after our coast to coast U.S. tour. Jeremy Moss was on bass and Jeffrey Venturo played drums. Marty Aguilera who had played drums on the tour, was back to playing with his band NuMantra, so Jeff filled in.
Brad: What's going on with Kill Switch...Klick now?
d.A.: Earlier this year Cleopatra Records released Milkin' It For All It's Worth a "best of" collection. I also finished up an ambient disc for Invisible Records called Almost Ambient Collection Volume One, that's supposed to be out early 2002. Invisible also re-issued Organica. I've also started hanging out with Mike Ditmore again. We've been talking about playing some shows in 2002 with a new bassist, Wes Griswold. It's still just talk, but we'll see what happens.
Brad: Is the Almost Ambient Collection disc new material or older stuff?
d.A.: It's a mixture. There are tracks from Organica and Beat It To Fit, Paint It To Match. I actually re-recorded "Her Trembling Hands" with Courtney Hudak doing the vocals. She has such a powerful voice, she really pushes the song into new territory. Jennifer Hope also does some excellent guest vocals on a new track "Lost Like Innocence." The whole focus of this CD is the more ambient and ethereal side of Kill Switch...Klick. Most of the songs are instrumental. I also used Reason software on quite a few songs. That software is unbelievable! So easy to create with. I recently began importing my sampler sound library into Reason. That's been quite an undertaking as I have thousands of sounds that I've collected over the years. I'm a definite "sound freak."
Brad: I recently saw several Kill Switch...Klick CD's in a Walmart. How does that make you feel? Does that mean you're no longer an underground artist?
d.A.: I don't know at what point an artist is or isn't underground. I mean does undergound mean non-mainstream or just unknown? I'm a quite a bit of both of those depending on who you talk to . I don't know Walmarts criteria for selecting music, I'm sure they have buyers who select what they think they can sell. If someone buys my CD's off my website or from Walmart or some other store, it doesn't matter.
Brad: Your new label is Go-Kustom Rekords?
d.A.: Yea, it was called Irregular Records, until I found two other labels with that same name. I changed it to iRegular, you know dropping one of the r's, but that got too confusing. The Go-Kustom name came to me in late 2000. I did some research first, before I invested in domain names etc. I made up a quick logo and that was that. The first "official" Go-Kustom release was my self titled solo CD. After that came the Hold The Vocals... instrumental tribute and discs by The Penningtones and Bill Wolford's Head. I released more CD's in the first year of Go-Kustom than I did the previous 3 years as Irregular Records. I've got 5 more releases set for 2002 including Teen Feeding Frenzy! a teen idol tribute, a surf compilation and The Flathand 5 compilation.
Brad: Several of your CDs have Quicktime movies that you did with Brent Watanabe, is that something you'll be doing more of?
d.A. Brent and I worked on several projects together. I've known him for 4 or 5 years. He did the Kill Switch...Klick video for Produkt (Mass Market Mix) back in '96 and I starred in a few of his earlier short films. I was an eager guinea pig, but not much of an actor.
Brad: Are you working on other short films with him?
d.A.: No- I've actually started making films myself. I went out and purchased a big assed Mac and Final Cut Pro 2 and several Digital Video Cameras and I've been scripting several screen plays. I'm hoping to get a crew together in middle of 2002 to do some shooting. I can't really talk about what it's going to be, because that would let the cat out of the bag. I just hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. Video is a whole other world, it has similarities to composing music, but the canvas is much broader. It reminds me of when I was 12 or 13 years old and I had been writing poems, and gotten pretty good, and decided I wanted to turn the poems into songs. Now I want to turn songs into movies.
Brad: Like musicals?
d.A.: No it's all visual to me. I see my songs in my head as I'm writing them. Kinda like a mental slide show. Especially with the lyrics. I see peoples faces that I'm writing about. Take "Follow Me" for example. That's probably one of my best know songs to date. When I wrote those lyrics I could see the girl- who is actually this "death angel" luring a dying man into the next world. I could see her face and her gestures as I was penning the lyrics. It came almost as a vision. later when we made the video for "Follow Me," I was able to describe the picture in my head well enough to create her on film. Our old back-up singer Avette was very good at interpreting what I was explaining. She was definitely the best "actor" of all of us in that video. Cleopatra actually just re-released that video on DVD...anyway it was making that video and working with Brent Watanabe years later that made me realize I wanted to create more in a film context. That's why I made the DV plunge.
Brad: Back to your self titled d.A. Sebasstian CD, that's kinda of a hodge podge in sound.
d.A.: Hodge Podge? Well I wanted to get something out that was different than what I was known for as Kill Switch...Klick. I've always been into old X, 45 Grave and The Cramps and wanted to throw a bit of psychobilly surf guitar into the mix. Monster Monster, the opening track, was big on The Cramps influence, but with a Tom Wait's - Bone Machine inspired drum track...you know all crash crash crash, boom boom crash!
Brad: So your using guitars, the dreaded "G" word, again?
d.A.: Yea- I thought it would be untypical of me to go the other way...you know? With KsK I was so vehement about our "No Guitar" policy, I mean that was the title of our newsletter! What I was opposed to more than anything, was all these guitar jocks of the 80's and 90's trying to solo all the time. When that mentality died, I had no enemy anymore. I felt it was time to explore the guitar again. When I was recording the Johnny Cash tribute we released on Irregular Records back in '98, I was exposed to all these alternative country guitarists, that had a down home kind of approach to the instrument. I saw that as musically healthy, and it really inspired me. Around the same time I was doing a remix for Gene Loves Jezebel. I found an acoustic guitar sound I really liked and that sound became the basis for the Kill Switch...Klick - Organica album.
Brad: Jeff Venturo played drums on Organica?
d.A.: Mostly I sampled bits he played and then worked them into songs as loops. That gave Organica a modern but more organic sound. All the sounds on Organica were acoustic in nature. No synths or electric guitars. That's why I called it that. Like organic-electronica. Jeff also played on "Isabella Rossellini" off my solo album. That drum track was from a session we did for the Flathand 5 side-project. I got all these drummers in my studio and we just recorded track after track of rhythms. Jeff Venturo, Jeremy Sever, Dan Weber and Jeff Rogers. I'm still putting the Flathand 5 album together, but this one drum track ended up on my CD. It didn't really fit into the "world rhythm" vibe of the other Flathand 5 tracks.
Brad: Who else played on your solo CD?
d.A.: James Whiton, an exceptional upright bassist, John K. Speck on trombone for "Isabella Rossellini," Jeremy Sever on drums and percussion and Rob Leland Jones on drums for "The Underdog Vs. Mr. Establishment." Elisha-One did a remix of "Monster Monster" as well.
Brad: How has using guitars and more diverse outside musicianship changed your music?
d.A.: Well it's inevitable that working with new people gives you new approaches and ideas. Last year when I was recording the demo's for Faith & Disease's - Beneath The Trees I was amazed at how Eric and Dara could pull all these different types of musicians together to form a cohesive final recording. Faith & Disease has a certain sound, but all styles of musicians work on their albums. I have a similar philosophy. You can learn from other musicians and their styles of music. Working on the Johnny Cash tribute back in 1998 had a profound effect on my composition. Here I was going along for years, like an industrial bulldozer, churning out all these albums on my old Atari computer, drum machines and sampler. Then I run into these guys who never use sequencers or drum machines. They build songs up one track at a time on a tape deck. It made me remember how I used to do things back in the '80's. I realized what a slave to the machine I'd become. Still when I went to see them play live shows, I was thinking, "Man that would sound so much better with a few drum loops and samples thrown in there." Old habits are hard to break.
d.A. in his studio 2001.
Brad: What type of label is Go-Kustom Rekords?
d.A.: Pretty much what ever music I like and want to release. My musical tastes are very broad, much broader than most people realize. I mean, I got known as this "electronic and industrial" guy, but I appreciate all types of music. From my punk roots to a recent taste for the Delta Blues. I like so much music it's hard to focus on just one style. I wanted Go-Kustom to have a "lo-fi indie"slant, but given the variation of the bands who actually appear on our compilations, I don't see that. The Penningtones are an alternative country band. Bill Wolford's Head is all over the musical map. My CD was elektro-billy somethin' somethin'. I think as I get more albums out on the Go-Kustom imprint, a picture will emerge as to what the overall vibe of it is. Right now I'm just having fun getting this music out to the public.
Photos by Brad (I need a digital camera) Meyers & Shanelle