An interview with d.A. Sebasstian by Alexander Dankin
Kill Switch...Klick has been one of the higher profile industrial acts in Seattle since it's inception in 1991.
KsK started as a solo recording project of d.A. Sebasstian and became a live entity in early 1992 when
Michael Ditmore joined as elektronic percussionist. The band line-up has changed many times as
Sebasstian and Ditmore sought out the right members. The current group also include Matt Cekosh on
percussion, Drew Harlander on keyboards and Anastasia on backing vocals.
IN: What does the name Kill Switch...Klick mean?
DAS: Well, there is a kind of story behind the name. I was working at Microsoft as a landscape grunt.
I was on mowing duty, when the mower I was using began to sputter and cough. These lawn mowers
have what is called a "kill switch" to shut them off, so I thought, "I'd better hit the kill switch," and
then it hit me what a brilliant name for my project. But then I thought again, it is a common term and
someone somewhere must have already used it. The words just kept rolling around in my head, and
this was at the same time Jeffrey Dahmer and his cannibalism were all over the news casts. So I started
thinking, " I wonder if Dahmer had a kill switch that just went...klick," and there was the name,
Kill Switch...Klick. I knew nobody would have that. The problem is the dots, people always forget the
dots. Klick was an afterthought.
IN: Who are your influences?
DAS: Cabaret Voltaire, Gary Numan, Killing Joke, PiL and of course David Bowie. Cabaret Voltaire was
the first band I ever heard use distortion on the vocals, their song "Nag Nag Nag" opened my eyes.
In 1981 I was in a punk band and used to hang out at a radio station in Redlands, California called
KUOR. That's where I first heard Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, Throbbing Gristle, etc.
Another turning point in my life was seeing Gary Numan on Saturday Night Live. His futurist look
and Prophet 5 sound got me into synthesizers. Killing Joke was more of an attitude influence as
well as PiL. I know Public Image Limited suck now but the first four albums were brilliant.
Bowie is a master craftsman, a song writer's song writer. "Heroes" is one of my all time favorite songs.
IN: What is the NEC?
DAS: The NEC stands for the Northwest Elektro-Industrial Coalition. It is an organization we started
in Seattle to promote our type of music in the Northwest. We had to become political because
promoters and club owners were ignoring industrial acts, saying we just didn't have the draw. The truth
is just the opposite, we have more of a local following than many of the butt-rocker bands these promoters
would have us open for. The NEC has changed all that and given us a voice. We have a bi-monthly
newsletter called The Misery Foundation. We encourage other cities to do what we have done, start your
IN: How do you see the Seattle scene, the "grunge" thing?
DAS: I am originally from California, and Seattle reminds me a lot of Los Angeles in the early 1980's.
Whenever you have a labeled music that is the "big thing," you have record companies turning every
stone to find copy-cat bands. This was true in L.A. with Glam and Gypsy Rock bands, and it's true now
in Seattle with the Grunge bands. I was on the east coast in Washington D.C. in 1987-1988 and hung out
at the 930 Club and DC Space. I liked that scene much better, bands like Trisect Deafen, Furnace and
Batz Without Flesh. I worked sound at DC Space a couple times, and it left a lasting impression on me.
I L.A. at the time, drum machine bands were frowned upon as "fake," but in DC it was common place.
I ended up in Seattle in 1990, not for musical reasons, but things ended up the way they did.
IN: What is the SLAMBAR?
DAS: The Slambar is a four stringed percussion instrument I built and designed. I play it with two
screwdrivers. It works kinda like a pedal steel guitar, but has a deeper sound, more like a bass or detuned
guitar. The Slambar has one bass and on guitar pickup so I can run different effects on each section.
Not having frets enables me to slide into notes and all over the place. I am learning what it can do
as I go. The thing about inventing a new instrument is there isn't anybody to teach you how to play it.
IN: How does the Slambar differ from a guitar?
DAS: The Slambar is a percussion instrument, therefore it is more aggressive than a guitar, it is more suited
for industrial music because of this. It also doesn't lend itself to the stereotypical head banger riffs,
because there is no fretboard finger contact. The Slambar has its limitations, but definitely has a sound
all its own. I am really sick of guitars and guitarists' macho bullshit. Any idiot can learn to play electric
guitar in a year or so- well enough at any rate to get by in a rock band. Virtuosity is dying at the
hands of the computer chip; Music is becoming a product of the mind, not the finger tips.
IN: What equipment do you use?
DAS: Roland S-550 samplers (Mike has a S-330), Korg DW-8000, Yamaha TG-33 sound module, Casio CZ-101,
Roland PM-16 percussion brain, an Atari 520 computer upgraded to 4meg with Hybrid Arts software,
and various ancient drum machines.
IN:How do you feel about the label "industrial"?
DAS: It doesn't mean what it once did. I think of industrial as Test Dept., SPK, Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing
Gristle. I don't think new Ministry is industrial, I would call it distortion guitar loop music. I call what
we do lo-tech because mostly we use old gear, and our studio is in my garage. But still this is the means
of producing the music and not the music itself. Our music is all over the place, that's the beauty of using
samplers, you can drop a sitar onto a Motown rhythm section or have a cello play a solo over a hardcore
piece. Anything is possible, the only limitations are your mind.
IN: Your video was banned in Canada. Why?
DAS: Ahhh, the "Follow Me" video. Well it's pretty tame but the Canadian TV show Soundproof refused
to play it because it had scenes of bondage. We had a scene where the line in the song is "the door opened
to the room of nightmares" so we tried to create such a room. We had a girl hanging upside-down, a
dead king, a she-male shackled to a wall and a woman being flogged. This was too much for the Canadian
IN: What is the goal of KsK?
DAS: To destroy the current complacency in the music industry, to make Seattle known as a musical and
artistic community, not just the home of Pearl Jam.