THE FOLLOWING IS AN INTERVIEW I DID FOR "SPECIAL INTEREST" MAGAZINE FROM FINLAND.
To me, it seems like Slogun really got injection of energy by the series of biz card CDR's. Musically and packaging too. While these releases are small edition, and perhaps not heard by as many as the real albums, how do
you value/rate the whole process of making these releases?
Those biz-card cd releases really got me motivated again to get into the complete process of recording and also planning the art and lay out of a theme/idea for a release. For me, that series was one of the
highlights of my whole Slogun run. I just had so much fun with those releases. At the time I really missed all the cool packaging that went into releases that I remember from the 90's. I missed the days when
you'd get a package in the mail from Marco/Slaughter or Sounds for Consciousness Rape, and there was so much more going on with each release. It was awesome. It was so much more personal and hands-on.
The idea of listening to the material and not just hearing it, but also holding the packaging in your hands and examining every inch of it, KNOWING it was all done by the artists himself. Just felt like you were looking into something so much more valuable and meaningful.
Anyway, after a while I just felt that it would be cool to do something like that again, even if it was for a little series in very limited number. I really did get into those releases, especially the "Two By Four" release. My god I spent a ton of time on that one.
For me that whole process of doing something like that is part of my make-up. I'm thoroughly task-driven and all about organization and execution. So having this assembly-line project in front of me where I have to spend hours repetitively doing the same thing over and over again to achieve a certain goal, that appeals to me, always has. Just look at my "sick at home" art. It's the same thing. I can just spend hours drawing hundreds of little circles, or using a fine point ink pen to fill in large areas of white paper to complete a larger goal. I guess it's like therapy for me. I can shut off all the dumb shit I'm constantly thinking of. You just get started and shut everything else out and focus on what's at hand. Also, the end result is just so satisfying. More so than some Digipak CD or standard jewel case release. For me the visual aspect of a release is just as important as the sounds that are recorded onto it. It has to be an entity as a whole where the vehicle that presents the "music" is just as studied as the music itself. Sometimes I feel that the visual even takes over and becomes my central focus, whereas the music is was enabled me to get the visuals out to everyone.
Bloody Roots, looks like album, that was long time "bubbling under". I recall t-shirt of the design appeared already many years earlier. How was the process of this album and what kind of turning point it is compared to past Slogun?
Yeah with the "Bloody Roots" album, it seemed there was an obvious turn in theme and topic with past Slogun releases. But really the themes were always there. But this time I brought the more self-reflective issues, and the stuff I was, and still am, going through in my life, as well as what I see more and more around me everyday, to the surface much more. It's funny because so few people seemed to catch onto what was going on. I was really starting to reveal just how much of the early, "true crime" stuff was really about my hate for myself, my insecurities, my weaknesses and humanity's bullshit in general. The True Crime angle was a convenient topic to push forward just how pathetic human beings really are in their day to day life, on a smaller scale. You know? I just keep coming back to the fact that we are all so quick to judge others, point out their failures and shortcomings, justify our weaknesses and vices, and just "hate" at the drop of a hat. And I'm "OK" with it. I really am. I understand what we are and how we need to go about things to make life much more "manageable". But it's the fact that most others don't want to see it, own up to it. They don't want to fucking stop and take a second to be honest with themselves and understand why they do what they do, for no reason other than their own miserable anger and sadness at life. It's amazing when you think about it. I mean on a very small, day-to-day basis, all the little things we do that really serve no purpose than to just make ourselves feel better, regardless of if it's wrong or unnecessary. I certainly fell into that trap, as you know from hanging out with me in NYC, with my drinking and "other" things that I quickly came to rely on every fucking day. It was as natural for me as eating or sleeping. It just was 'life". And in our present day pathetic "me" culture it seems to get worse and worse. Look at "reality" tv. It feeds right into this. It's entertainment that just allows us to judge others, laugh at them, point out all of their failures, just so we can temporarily forget our own misery and unhappiness. These days just reading a good book or watching a good movie isn't enough. We have to be entertained by others' problems or misery. Look at "Celebrity-Rehab"! I mean, really? Do we NEED to drown ourselves in other peoples misery to forget our own? It's just incredible that there is this fake "save the world" mentality out there these days, almost like this naive "neo-hippy" movement. Yet our narcissism is growing exponentially every day! Society "wants" to care on a greater level, but when it comes to the everyday, the REAL challenges in life on a personal level, we're getting more and more sheltered and uncommunicative. We just REALLY don't care, we just want people to THINK we do. But let's just admit it already. Let's "Be Real" and take care of our own and be honest, instead of this patronizing "Peace and Love" bullshit that does nothing but create this illusion of happiness that has no depth to it. I don't know, living in NYC I just see people as more and more pathetic and nasty and childish than ever before. And I'm not innocent of this either. I just feel that we're getting so much more "fragile", self centered and disconnected from each other, even with all the technology and "connectivity" that exists these days.
Slogun has been visiting europe and Japan more often than the "usual" PE bands. How do you see experiences playing live and differences of domestic and shows abroad?\
Well, for me the traveling did nothing for me as "Slogun" and everything for me as John Balistreri. I really come from such an ignorant culture. Sad to say but it's true. You've all heard me talk about it. But it was just this way of living your life where there was nothing "out there". There was no need to explore or even try to do anything worthwhile. There was no value to meeting new, different people or seeing things that perhaps made no sense to. I mean it was such a prevalent way to think that even when I would take the subway into Manhattan to hang out away from the neighborhood out of boredom, my friends would laugh and literally say "why you goin' there? what the fuck is in Manhattan?". A very sad, boring, close-minded way to live. It's the main reason why we got involved in our gangs and crews. Very ignorant, clannish mentality. That's where I got the "Us Against You" theme from. I was drawing from that time in my life when we didn't trust anyone we didn't know. So for me, traveling and just
fucking being forced to see different places, people, and the act of getting on a plane as if I was getting on a subway, that just changed me in ways I never could have imagined. The traveling part of it all really was the first time in my pathetic life I felt happy about some shit. Really. I started to feel "lucky" that I was able to get on a plane with friends and travel to god knows where and do shit that I would NEVER have thought I could do years before. It just made life worth living if you want to get really lame about it.
As for the differences of playing live internationally as opposed to playing domestically. Well, the more I think about it the more I'd have to say that it's all the same. Really. I literally just thought of this with your question. But really, you have the people showing up that are really into it, as "fans" or whatever, you have the people that are "scenesters" and are there for whatever social value they get out of it, and then you have the "accidental" tourist who stumbles in and they tend to be hilarious since their reactions to a PE show are a full range of emotions and reactions. But locally or internationally it's the same, except for ONE thing. In America it's all about the "ENTERTAIN ME" factor. The crowds almost feel like they are ENTITLED to be entertained to their liking or they complain and cry like bitches. Especially nowadays with the internet. Not all shows of course, but enough that I took notice when I started performing. It's hard to put into words. I just always felt that outside the states people really get into what they are "into", whereas in the states people have a much more casual approach to things. They're not as "ardent" a fan. I'm sure many will disagree, but it's all about our personal experiences, and that's what I've taken out of it so far.
Recently Slogun performed perhaps the first ever live show, where you did actual songs. Not just some "collage" of lyrics over constant electronic sound, but the songs. How was this experience? Will there be possibility to witness such live actions in future?
Yeah that was the "10th Anniversary" show that Kollapse put on this past December. "Live" is too kind a word I think, since all the sounds were from my laptop, which is the first time I ever used a laptop live. But I did have structured tracks, exactly like they appear on an album (in this case the new album, "We Human Animal"), and I did actually do "proper" vocals. That is, I actually screamed the vocals as they are on the album, to an extent. You see, as with the new album, I just felt more control over all the material, both in recording the album and performing it live. It felt great actually. I think I just needed something "new" and that's why I took this approach. I was really burnt out with the way I was performing or recording. I wasn't interested anymore and I started messing with digital audio software, which really does allow you to have so much more control and better execution with what you're trying to accomplish. Now, I'm sure there are those reading this that are thinking to themselves, "Duh!" But you have to understand, all this shit is new to me! I still recorded analog onto a four track cassette recorder and re-working stuff was just awful and a pain in the ass. Now here I see this shit and I'm like, "Damn, I can actually move that over a bit, add some more effect on that, shorten this, and there you go." All part of the freshness and newness of doing stuff now. It has made me interested again and excited about working on some more material. As for future performances. I don't really know where I'm going as far as performing. I really do not like performing at all actually. It's the travel that keeps me doing it to be honest. But if I do perform again in the future, I'm almost positive that it will be the done the same way as that show. Again, it was just fun for me to do, and it
didn't make things feel "old". So basically I don't think the old "violent/confrontational" shows are going to happen any longer. At least not on my end of it. Who knows what the crowd will do...
Latest album of Slogun, to me, sounds like perhaps most ambitious works of Slogun. Where each song is crafted quite carefully and even including little of acoustic sources. It also sounds that you may have changed your gear a bit. What are your impressions of this and how it has been so far received by others?
First off, I have to say. I never intended on doing another album. To me Slogun was now going to be a project where I would do limited B-CD or Mini-CD releases in elaborate packaging, etc. So "We Human Animal" was really an amazing accident that came about only because I found myself playing around with this software that was included with this USB turntable I recently bought. Again, as I stated earlier, I never used or even played around with digital editing software before, so it was like a new toy. So as I was playing records onto the computer and using the software to MP3 the tracks, I noticed that you could do a lot more with it than just "rip" records. And to be honest, I wasn't even paying attention to what I was doing at first. I was taking bits and pieces of sounds and manipulating them with the effects filters that came with the software, just to play around and kill some time. That's what happens when you stop drinking, AND get married, AND have a wife who is in Nursing School, studying all the time! You have so much extra time on your hands...It was after a couple weeks that I began to listen to what I did and thought, "Shit, I can make a good track from that." So I went back and listened to the other pieces I put together and thought to just try and see where it went. Originally when I was playing around with the sounds I was doing, I was purposely trying to get that "European P.E./ Death Industrial" sound I missed from the 90's. I was specifically thinking of Soldnergeist, Stahlnetz and bands like that. So it was after a couple weeks that I began really recording material for a new album. So I went back to all my Slogun master tapes, and these very old BBC Sound Effects LP's I've had for over 20 years, and began putting tracks together little by little. So instead of pulling out 1/4" cables and analog keyboards, etc, there I was sitting comfortably in front of my computer, recording tons of new shit, and exactly the way I wanted it to sound. It was indeed my most ambitious work yet, because for the very first time I really spent time going over tracks again and again, re-doing anything I felt needed tweaking, repositioning anything that needed to be tweaked. You see I've never done this before. I always recorded in one take (so to speak) with each channel I was recording. It used to be very straightforward and "One take-One try" type of mentality. This time I really took the time to get "into" each track and play with the atmosphere, to get the spacial effects I wanted, and creating the backing to what was to be the vocals, which I recorded analog, then converted into the tracks as needed later on. So where before, I would record an album let's say in one day. This time I took a couple of weeks of constant playing, tweaking, even rerecording if necessary.
Slogun is most known for launching the term "true crime power electronics". And this very traditionally "american" cultural phenomena had been covered by power electronics groups from dawn of the genre, but not to same extent. Can you explain a bit the transition of this "old" subject matter to what Slogun is now?
Well, the transition was something that seems obvious lately with Bloody Roots or We Human Animal, but really, the underlying thrust of everything I talk about, and always talked about, is still the same: PEOPLE ARE TRASH. I just used true crime as a glaring example of that. True crime fits because not only is the killer himself weak and pathetic to do what they do, but generally speaking the whole situation brings out so many unsavory characteristics of the general population that I just get disgusted by humanity. From the victim, who in many cases I genuinely feel is a born victim for whatever reason, whether by their own doing or someone else's, or the media and how they exploit and use these tragic situations to basically make $$ when you get down to it, to the readers and "followers" (like me) who actually get some form of entertainment out of it all. Let's face it, man we are nasty things, and it never escaped me. And please believe me, I'm just as guilty with it all as far as what I hate about people. We are all just liars, cheats, hypocrites and whatever else you want to throw in. So there you have the obvious connections to the new album. With Bloody Roots, it was my disgust with my own life and what I lived with, went through, where I came from, and I just tied it lyrically with the True Crime theme, but on a much more scaled back, figurative way. That I guess was the first real step, and the new album just went straight ahead and brought the underlying theme to the forefront.
Do you think Slogun could have something "positive" in it? I remember years old discussion where the idea of your doing material based on NYC train noises. Is it possible to inject cultural references of surrounding neighborhood without it being.. bloody? I recall mr. William bennett mentioning how little he sees word "cunt" used - simply descriptions of juicy energy filled sex - opposed to some themes of serial killer anal rape. What would the positive local influence for Slogun?
Well, to be honest, and this is going to sound hilarious, I always wished people would take some positive out of what I do. It may be ridiculously abstract, or seem like a tremendous reach, but my whole fucking point with Slogun all these years is WE ARE FULL OF SHIT, let's just be honest, admit it and "be real". People are just so full of shit, and we just lie so much to OURSELVES as well as others that I don't even know if we really understand what the "truth" is anymore with our own lives and what is not. You now? In other words, why do we do the things we do everyday, the choices, the reasons? I usually find that if people really stop and try, I mean TRY to really study themselves without the bullshit, and ask themselves real questions as to why they are where they are, or why they did something in particular, they would be surprised at what they find. The thing is, I truly believe people have almost lost all capability with being really honest with themselves. Brutally honest where they need to accept the
hard truths that may shed an unsavory light on themselves. I just think that lying is such an intrinsic part of our lives, that it's almost impossible to know what the "real" you is now. And today, where we have these fucking blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc, EVERYBODY has a "voice", and their bullshit is just amplified even more! Me included! As for the "local" influence: well, for ME and where I come from, the ONLY influence was negative I guess. I look at my life today and really see that what I would consider positive as far as my life currently is, it all came out of negative things in relation to my local influences. I really have lived made life and made my decisions as REACTIONS to negatives that I felt were forming my life at the time, or to bad advice people were trying to give me. Anything good in my life, positive in my life, is in SPITE of where I come from, who raised me, the advice I was given. So in regards to Slogun, ironically enough the "Positive" influence my local life has on me is that it was so negative and formed my reactionary personality, leading to how I see things, explain myself, etc. So instead of crediting any of it, it's more a "Fuck You" to all of it.
THE FOLLOWING WAS SHORT INTERVIEW FOR THE BLOODLUST BLOGSPOT FROM CHICAGO, IL.
What have you been listening to lately?
MAGNETIC FIELDS; DEAD CAN DANCE; ADULT; THE 6THS
Have you been to any interesting concerts recently?
NOPE. THE LAST CONCERTS WERE BOTH IN OCTOBER: KILLING JOKE & MAGNETIC FIELDS
Can you name a favorite film, or two (or a television program), from the last few months?
"COCAINE KINGS", GANGLAND (SERIES), AMERICAN GANGSTER (THE SERIES NOT THE FILM)
Have you read a good book lately?
A FEW ACTUALLY. "THE TWILIGHT OF AMERICAN CULTURE"; "A NATION OF VICTIMS"; "A HISTORY OF THE PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE: 1903-1957" AND I JUST STARTED "DUMBING DOWN".
Have you attended any recent art shows worth mentioning?
JUST "THE OUTSIDER ART SHOW" IN NYC TWO WEEKS AGO WHICH WAS A BIT OF A LET DOWN. A LOT SMALLER THAN PREVIOUS YEARS.
Do you have any current obsessions of note?
1-THE NEW PRESIDENCY; 2-READING: ANYTHING ON THE DUMBING DOWN OF THE U.S., AND ANYTHING ON THE "CULTURE OF VICTIMIZATION" IN AMERICA; 3-MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Please tell me what recordings, projects (any medium), etc., you are working on right now, if anything.
THE NEXT "SELF" SIDE PROJECT FULL-LENGTH, A "SLOGUN" FULL LENGTH DVD, AND CREATING A TON OF URBAN LANDSCAPE SCREEN-ART USING PHOTOS I'VE TAKEN AROUND NEW YORK CITY OVER THE YEARS.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
GET HITCHED TO MY LADY, GET BACK TO JAPAN TO PERFORM IN THE FALL, MAKE IT THROUGH THIS ECONOMIC BULLSHIT, SEE THE YANKEES WIN IT ALL, AND VACATION IN GREECE.
Is there anything else that you would like to mention, announce, or hype?
"BLOODY ROOTS", THE NEW SLOGUN FULL LENGTH, SHOULD BE OUT BY FEBRUARY/MARCH.
THE FOLLOWING IS AN INTERVIEW I DID FOR "ZERO TOLERANCE" MAGAZINE IN THE U.K..
For those unfamiliar with Slogun, it's origins and it's general philosophy / intent, can you give us some background to the project, how you got started, how Slogun has evolved over the years etc?
Well Slogun started back in 1996 with
my first release, "Sacrifice Unto Me", which was dedicated
to Richard Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento. Slogun pretty much
was a manifestation of a bunch of my interests at the time, especially
True Crime literature. Mix these interests in with my life growing
up in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, coming out of the NY Hardcore/Punk
scene, graffiti, and just being an obsessive record and true crime
book collector, and everything pretty much fell into place to
There is no "General Philosophy" with Slogun. It's just me, and how much I hate all the bullshit around me. I just really had/have so much anger towards people, although I like to think I've been calming down in my old age. All this negativity gets too fucking exhausting sometimes. But I guess this feeling of "exhaustion" is the biggest evolution in the project over the years. If you listen to the last couple releases, and read the lyrics, it really has slowly crossed over from true crime material to self-hate material. The project really has become my outlet for all my frustrations and exhaustion on the way I see things, the way I see others, basically the way I live. After years and years of constant annoyance by others, it's starting to turn inward and make me annoyed with myself. I guess that's what happens when you get old and married huh?
Nevertheless, what has driven Slogun as a project, and what continues to drive it is anger, pure white-hot anger. I just let things bother me than most people do. I have a tendency to let things fester and grow in my gut, so it needed a "healthy" outlet. A lot healthier than going to jail or ending up dead.
As for how it all got started in the first place, well that's where a bit of luck jumped into the picture. Yeah I had all this interest in topics so constantly covered in this genre, I was an angry prick who hated society and all the hypocrisy around me, and I already knew of some bands that were out there doing "violent stuff", but to really get into it all and get familiar with what I needed to do as that last step, well, that takes us to Mr Solotroff now doesn't it? Onto the next question...
How important as the influence of Mark Solotroff been on you as a PE artist? The connections obviously there from Intrinsic Action, but I was wondering to what extent he inspired or motivated you with Slogun?
Basically, I don't think I would have
done anything without Mark's motivation. It was already about
a year since I performed as part of Intrinsic Action during the
summer of 1994, and Mark and I were working together at a NYC
record store together. It was great, all we did was hang out,
listen to what we wanted, treated customers like garbage, and
talk music or anything else that popped into our heads. Almost
immediately after playing with I.A., Mark was relentless about
me starting my own project. He would come in with the new "Buyers
Guide", a weekly newsprint magazine that people sold all
sorts of stuff in (a printed "Craig's-List" so to speak).
He would always point out what I needed to buy and what I had
to do as far as recording, etc.
I really thought it was too much work to start up a project, especially since at that time in my life all I wanted to do was BUY records, not make them. But Mark just kept telling me to do it, and after buying my first piece of equipment, it really just steamrolled from there. It literally was within a week of getting my first keyboard that I was spending hour after hour trying out new sounds, building on what was to become the material that would form my future side project "Self", that I was hooked.
I was lucky because this was right around the time Mark formed Bloodyminded and started Bloodlust! records, so he was incredibly productive and always working on something at the time. He was releasing tape after tape, and he asked if I'd be interested in having my first release as part of this awesome series he was working on. I jumped at the chance, and well, the rest is history I guess.
True crime is clearly a key component of the Slogun project. The lives of serial killers, in particular, have frequently provided PE artists with material. Where does the attraction lie, do you think? Is it that a serial killer represents almost the ultimate in extreme person-type, and that PE tries to represent this sonically? Or does it go deeper?
Well I really can't speak for anyone
else to be honest. I really have to speak for myself as I'm sure
we all have different takes on the subject matter.
For me, as I stated earlier, I genuinely had an interest in killers since I was a child. I don't know why, really. I was always fascinated by these modern "boogeymen" that made everyone so scared. It was incredible.
Anyone who knows me knows the story by now on how the Son of Sam killings culminated in Bensonhurst Brooklyn in 1977, with his last victim living right around the block from me. His name was/is Robert Violante. I saw the the media storm that Sunday morning in front his house, people crying, the city scared out of their minds. Can you imagine? Women in NYC were actually cutting their hair short because it was assumed the killer(s) were attacking women with long hair. For an impressionable eight year old it was just over the top.
I don't think that a serial killer is an example of the extreme person type. To me part of my fascination is the fact that the serial killer is the ultimate example of a lonely, disconnected person in society. This is a person who has absolutely taken himself out of life, out of the everyday, and emotionally shut down. They go about creating these crimes that ironically make them a celebrity in our twisted culture, and yet they are alone, following their compulsions with total disregard for their lives and the lives of those around them. I really do believe that each killer is a reflection of the culture they lived in. People like to think that these guys are anomalies, freaks of nature that have no connection whatsoever to the world that produces them, but they're wrong.
Nevertheless, True Crime, serial killers, mass murderers, of course it lends itself to this genre of music for what it is: extreme topics of humanity that shock the listener or anyone who happens to come across this stuff. I think it's more of an example of the type of person who becomes involved in the genre. It's the type of person INTO this stuff that eventually finds their way to PE. The seeds were already planted so to speak, enabling me to have a creative outlet that I can use my interests and "obsessions".
Kinda following on from that: pardon the pun, but do you think that serial killers (and crime more generally) has been touched upon so often in PE that it has lost some of its impact? Are we desensitized through over exposure to the crimes of killers? Of course, it's quite possible that desensitization might come through general over-exposure through all media. Would you agree?
Well, that would have been a valid point
in the 80's or early 90's or so. It seemed that the media was
reporting on a new killer every week! But here in the States,
I think that there has been a real effort to NOT report on serial
killings since the 90's.
What I think has been going on as far as PE is concerned is that everyone thinks they have to follow this formula to start a PE project. Killers, Disease, Kiddies. These are all the "magic" elements that were laid down years ago by Whitehouse, Sutcliffe Jugend, SPK, Throbbing Gristle, etc, and everyone just followed. Of course there were/are many bands that did NOT follow this path, but more often than not it has been the case. I guess people looking back can assume the same about me and Slogun. Can't blame them if they do. Again, bottom line I think that it comes down to the type of person who finds themselves wanting to get involved in this type of music. Usually it's a person with dark interests who suddenly realizes there IS a genre of music that deals with serial killers, pedophiles, etc, so they are drawn in and begin adding to the genre and it's related topics that drive it.
I DO actually think that in America, we have become sheltered from serial killers in the past two decades! I think that if a "classic" killer develops in the near future, one so heinous that he forces the media to report it, people would shit their pants. All America has been exposed to recently is what I like to call "fantasy killers": Sopranos, Dexter, American Psycho (the movie), etc. It's all wanna-be fantasy killers that people can enjoy without feeling guilty.
Take away the "fantasy" and make it real, with dead prostitutes, dead kids, whatever, and people suddenly become righteous and rally against this "monster". They deny the entertainment of it all. The media exploit the killers and their work, make their money, have their news-breaking "specials" with ad-revenue piling up, all while claiming to delve into the killers story with the intention of the greater good. Bullshit. It's all bullshit. I really think that people have NOT been exposed enough to the dark side of humanity in the last 15 years or so. We have become more and more "safe".
Your work speaks of violence and does so, it seems to me very knowledgeably. By that, I don't mean you perpetrating violence, but as someone who has experienced it (seeing it around you etc). Is that an accurate assumption? Can you tell us a bit about how violence around you has shaped you as a musician?
Oh man. Well, I'd like to think that
my experiences growing up and how I've used this in my writing
has set me apart somewhat with Slogun. Basically, I grew up, and
recently moved back to Bensonhurst Brooklyn. It was like growing
up in any other American city in the 70's and 80's with gangs,
"turf" etc. HOWEVER the biggest difference growing up
here was the Mafia presence in our lives. Whether people want
to admit it or not here, and you would be amazed at the ignorance
of Bensonhurst residents who grew up right around it, or straight
up denial of it existing, it really was a part of any kid's life
here if you were hanging out on any corner or schoolyard. I mean,
if you were a homebody who just went to school, went home, and
stayed inside it wasn't really a problem. But if you were a normal
kid hangng out n the schoolyard playing sports, or on the "corner"
with the guys, then you would at some point end up wrapped in
some bullshit that was going on. Somebody was always "related"
to someone. You know? So an innocent fight over a basketball game
or some girl would turn into a much more serious affair. On the
bright side, there were no cars getting stolen or homes getting
burglarized back then. No one was going to chance that!
But really, even though growing up where I did was great. Nice neighborhood, lots of kids playing sports, etc, the downside was just all the bullshit as we got into our late teens, early 20's. All the "coolness" that Hollywood likes to portray about the mob is just a fantasy. Too many friends going to jail, murdered, and wasting their lives for nothing. I see some of these guys now and they look 20 years older than me because they are so beat down. We were brought up to be combative, angry, and we didn't trust a soul. We looked at anyone we didn't know with suspicion. Just an angry way to go about your day to day life. You know? Hell, In the summer of 1988 alone I went to eight funerals because of some mob war going on. Lost some friends in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
I was lucky though. I knew there was shit out there for me to do, and by 12/13 years of age I latched onto Graffiti and music around the same time. So even though I was still hanging out in the 'hood, sometimes more than I wish I did, I was still mentally "out" of the 'hood since I was going to hardcore shows, different areas of the city to write graffiti, and most importantly meeting new, different types of people. I knew that the 'Hood way of life was not for me. Yeah I got into trouble because of situations you can't help, and bottom line when there was a problem and it involved a close friend, you had to help out, I was already laying down the groundwork to make sure I didn't end up some wanna-be mobster with no life but the neighborhood. So really it was graffiti that brought me out of the neighborhood mentality: Here's this Sicilian kid from Bensonhurst hanging out with black kids from Manhattan, Bronx, or Hispanic kids from Downtown Brooklyn or Spanish Harlem. It made me realize there was just as much bullshit, if not more, in our nice little neighborhood as the rest of the world, and it made me get out there and do more than the average "guido". I'm sure if a lot of the guys I grew up with would have allowed themselves to experience more and not be scared of leaving their comfortable neighborhood, they would have made it past their 18th birthday or would not have been incarcerated the rest of their lives. Their heroes wouldn't have been Gotti, Gambino or Gravano, but maybe Biafra, Jordan or even 23 Envelope!
Old school graffiti is important to you: to what extent does your art influence your music, and vice versa? I ask this as Jonathan Canady mentioned that his early paintings were very much a pictorial representation of Deathpile. Do you think your art says the same for Slogun?
While I don't have graffiti plastered
all over my releases (except for "Kill to Forget"),
of course graffiti has been a major part of everything I do, especially
my graphic design work, which is my profession. Any graphic work
I have done in my life, especially Slogun design, has a graffiti
influence without it bashing you over the head.
Really I think Slogun ITSELF is the representation of me and everything I've been into, or done in my life. The art is carried through the music project since the project carries it all out there for everyone to see. I mean, if it wasn't for Slogun who the hell would know about the artwork I do? Who would know about my interest in Graff or the whole True Crime thing? It's enabled me to throw it all out there and see who gives a shit so we can start some dialogue.
I have to take time out here and say that graffiti for me, specifically old-school graffiti from it's inception to about 1975 or so, is more than just one of my big obsessions in life. Just studying it all, befriending the original masters and talking about it now, 30 or 40 years later. It's just amazing how a bunch of untrained "bad kids", 10-16 years old from some of the worst areas in America at the time, developed this art form that to this day is HUGE, and now is such a part of mainstream America as far as advertising technique, etc. It cannot be overstated: Graffiti, besides Jazz, is America's greatest contribution to the arts in my eyes. It's because of where it came from, and when, that makes it such a strong example of life influencing art. There was no "school", no training, no studying except for sitting on some train station bench for hours on end, usually cutting classes during the day to DO this, and watching the trains go by. It's incredible if you allow yourself to appreciate where it came from and how it grew.
Anyway, needless to say that when I was really exposed to this this stuff, when I started doing it myself, I was immediately drawn in. Being into graffiti back then, you couldn't help but learn history, not only of just the art itself, but of the city. Unless you were a moron, you picked up bits and pieces of history of neighborhoods, classes, ethnicity. It was wild for some kid who grew up around Italians and Irish people all his life, somewhat sheltered. This was all new to me and it blew me away. It became a major part of my life and it still is. Just the other night I had dinner with Riff 170, one of the early masters of graffiti who "invented" so much style back in 1972/73 that it's still drawn upon today. Now think about this: I'm a 40 year old Italian guy from Brooklyn having dinner with a friend who is some 50 year old black guy from the South Bronx, and our connection, the reason we are friends and having dinner in some Chinese restaurant in Chinatown in 2009 is because of this outlawed art form that we were doing years apart some 30-40 years ago. Fucking hell.
It's so different now with this globalization of graff. It's cool, don't get me wrong. But I was lucky to get into it at the very tail end of it when it really was "ours". That is, it was such a New York thing that it was about neighborhoods, NOT countries. Totally different feel. I was in Barcelona Spain a couple weeks ago with my wife, and as I'm walking down the street I was picking off tags on the walls from people who live in NY! And it's not the first time. In Japan I was spotting tags from guys I knew. And of course you can say I'm up to the same old shit with my Slogun-sticker attacks anywhere I go! I never travel without a few hundred Slogun stickers to strategically place everywhere when I travel. It's amazing how different the whole graff-game is now.
Do you think that power electronics has a lot in common with genres such as hip-hop and hardcore in that they reflect reality in all its brutality? They seem to me to be genres which reflect harsh reality and hold it up for all to see. Do you think that there is an element of commonality? If so, would you say that hip-hop (rap, or whatever) and hardcore have influenced your PE work? And to what extent do you think that Slogun therefore represents part of New York's underground heritage in the same way as, for example, a band like Agnostic Front?
ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY! I could not agree
with you more actually. I just think any of the "hardcore"
genres fall nto this pool of reality and how it's thrown out there
for all to see. You take the Black Metal scene out of Scandinavia,
the Hip Hop scenes out of these "urban" areas for black
kids or hispanic kids, you take the hardcore/punk/oi scenes out
of the white areas. It's all a common thread of working class,
poor people who have this as their only outlet. Power electronics
is the same. With the PE acts you generally find a background,
a "beginning" that lead whomever to this material. So
you have the kids from the metal scene eventually getting into
noise/PE, or you have (like me) the punk/hardcore kids who eventually
find their way to this stuff. It's great talking to people into
PE and finding out what they REALLY listen to. You know how it
is, it's a progression that we all went through to get here. All
the anger I had that lead me to Cro-Mags, A.F. and even stuff
like Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys somehow lead me to dramatically
different stuff like Neubauten or T.G. or SPK, which of course
leads you to PE eventually if you're looking for more.
I don't know if people will say that I "represent" the New York City side of things as far as PE or Noise is concerned, but I'd like t think it ended up that way. Sure I had that in mind when I started, and it did find it's way into my work in the last 15 years or so, but I never went over the top with it. Really it wasn't until the last album, "Bloody Roots" that I really made an effort to make it about Brooklyn or whatever.
However there were many times after a live performance that people would remark that I looked like a "rapper" when I perform. The way I walk around the stage or scream lyrics. Funny. THAT I can promise you was not planned. It's just my influences from the past and what I thought was the "way" to perform.
And, finally, what's next for Slogun in terms of releases etc? What can we expect from you during 2010?
Well, as I mentioned before, the last
album, "Bloody Roots" was released this past August,
and that took a bit of time to come out. I don't have the drive
like I used to to pump out material. And my life has gone through
some major, major changes in the last year and a half or so.
However, for the upcoming year I do have plans on releasing the final piece of the "History of Violence" CD series, to be titled "This way Comes", which is a re-release of all the early Slogun 7's and compilation tracks.
I'd also like to finish up the second full-length "Self" release, my side project of dark ambient material, which takes a lot more time to work on than any Slogun release.
I'm sure some other ideas will pop into my head, but at the moment I want to work more on my artwork and some writing. I think Chris Sickness and I are slated for Japan next year, which is always welcomed...So hopefully we'll do a small tour again in Japan, three or four shows towards the end of the year.
That's about it for now. Thanks for the interview.
Before founding Slogun, you were involved in a project called Intrinsic Action. It has been existing since 1984. In which period of time was it exactly? What were you personally able to gain from that time?
Well, in 1994 Mark from Intrinsic action
and I worked together in New York City, and we were (and still
are) close friends. He needed someone to perform with him for
a few live I.A. shows and asked me to do it. I ended up performing
live for about four shows, and doing some very minor recording
I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from all of that, as I had no experience whatsoever before that with the whole process of recording any type of music/noise. From there I learned how to start my own project and what was necessary to get a release out.
How is the relation to Mark Solotroff (Intrinsic Action, BloodLust!, AWB Recordings) today?
As I stated before, Mark is to this day one of my best friends, and even though he moved back to Chicago in 1997, we do a good job of seeing each other a couple times a year. And as evidenced by the re-release series, "History of Violnce", we also continue to work together as well.
What made you found Slogun?
It was really all Mark and his encouragement actually. I really didn't plan on starting my own project. Back then I was a collector, not someone who recorded his own material. He just kept telling me to start my own project, suggesting what equipment to buy, and it all fell into place from there.
The name of your procject, Slogun, refers to the song of the same title by SPK (which can be found on the album "Auto Da Fe"). Was there any further influence by SPK?
Not really as far as what I wanted to do with my project. However, that track made an impression on me that almost no other piece of work ever did! To this day it still rings true. One of the greatest tracks ever! And to think that it was created back in the 70's! Unbelievable!
Talking about HipHop: what was the reason for HipHop influencing your work?
Well, as much as any other stuff I listened to growing up, early Hip Hop was a major influence on everything I did, and still do, performance wise. Growing up where I did, and being involved in the graffiti scene in New York in the early 80's, Hip Hop was there for me just as much as the New York Hardcore scene, the goth stuff I listened to, and the industrial material as well. I guess Hip Hop most influenced the "attitude" I brought into the "Slogun" project, especially live.
Violence is a subject you refer to very often in your music. What do you find so fascinating about it and how does it influence your music?
I come from a very violent background.
Violence has always been a part of my life, whether it was me
personally or my friends going to jail, committing crimes, fighting,
I've always been fascinated with how people react to violence of any kind. Too much to get into here, but especially with America getting "weaker" and "weaker" every year, and the male population becoming more and more emasculated, I enjoy the fact that the more violent people in this culture, me included, are looked down upon NOT because of us being brutes, or monsters (which is what our detractors may say), but because they fear us. People in general fear others who feel free enough to put them in their place instead of crying about it, like THEY do. I HATE the weak. I HATE men who like to talk shit but yet shy away from REAL confrontation.
Serial killers are another subject you seem to be very interested in. What's the exciting and thrilling thing about it? Is there a serial killer you have special interest in?
Serial killers are just an amazing reflection
on the culture they lived in. A sociological speciman of the times
so to speak. Look at any killer and you'll see specific problems,
reflections on culture from when they "operated". It's
also always amazing how society reacts to them and their victims.
I've said it before: I absolutely LOVE the hypocrisy when people
feel some sort of false sorrow for some dumb crack-whore victim,
even though these same people NEVER cared about the whores, junkies,
etc when they were alive. It always takes a death to make someone
care. Ridiculous. Why do people even waste their time lying like
that? You know? It's ok to just admit you don't care.
I've always had a special interest in certain killers: Son of Sam, Green River, Zodiac, Panzram, Glattman, Cleveland Torso killer, Karla Homolka, among others.
Let's call them serial killers performing a classical craft. Besides them, there are mass murderers who kill for political reasons. Where do you see the difference between, for example, Stalin and Ed Gein? Which kind of murder would you sentence first?
Oh I don't know. Here we'd get into the
whole debate about mental disease and the differences between
political or random serial killing. Sure, they may be killing
because of the same mental disease, or psychological problems.
I do see that. However, the idea of a serial killer, somewhat
powerless, becoming powerful through his actions is far more intriguing
to me than some political despot who kills for his own paranoid,
yet goal oriented purposes. I do find them interesting, like Amin,
Pot, even religious zealots like Jim Jones, etc. But for me, serial
killers are the most interesting.
As for another subject the people in Europe have many different opinions: how do you judge the governmental work of George W. Bush?
American government, as is America itself,
is quickly falling into a hole from which it will struggle to
escape in the future. This country is fucked. In every way imaginable:
Culturally, Socially, Economically, etc etc etc. The Bush administration
is just one glaring example of how screwed up this American population
really is. It is a country of "victims", people who
refuse responsibility for anything they do. Americans like to
blame everyone else for their own problems. American youth are
dumber and dumber and it's getting worse. The public school system
is in ruins. And the rich get richer, while the divide from rich
to even middle class is growing wider and wider. I'm disgusted
with this country. And what terrifies me is that the rest of the
world seems to be drawn to American culture and it's results.
As I travel around the world I see the American influence everyday.
Scares me to death. No hope for the world, and George Bush is
a perfect example of all this.
On April 20, 1999 two students were rushing into Colombine High School and killed 12 other students. These two belonged to the so called "trenchcoat mafia" which listened to Gothic music. In combination with murder at schools, Gothic music and "bad" computer games tend to be referred to by the media pretty often. What's your opinion about that?
Oh that's all bullshit. Those were two
kids in a culture that easily provides guns and other weapons
that were bullied, made fun of, and finally took action. I say
good for them. It was totally obvious that they were mercilessly
picked on, made fun of, etc by the "cool kids", the
popular kids, and they got back. I love it. Sure, this happens
everyday and there is a much more "responsible" way
to deal with it. But hey, every once in a while the people acting
poorly have to pay. And in this case they did. Fuck them. I'd
rather die knowing I got my revenge than live and knowing I never
did a thing. But like I said before, in America, it' never "my
fault". It's always someone else's fault. No one wants to
admit that they created these two monsters that shot up a school,
they just want to blame someone else, or something else like music,
tv, etc. Fucking joke. Luckily for me I was taught to take responsibility
for everything I do. My parents taught us that whatever happens
is up to us and what we make of it.
You once said in an interview you supported death penalty. In another interview, however, you said you adored serial killers. How is it possible to combine these two statements?
First off, I NEVER said I "adored"
serial killers. I've always had an interest in what they do, how
they function in society, etc. Basically I always felt that serial
killers were weak, pathetic individuals as well. I hate the actual
person they are, because they are so weak they NEED to feel powerful
over someone else. They need to confirm to themselves so much
of what they are NOT. In other words, they lie to themselves as
much as they lie to others.
With this, yes indeed, I am very in favor of the death penalty. Problem is, the idea is good, but the way they try and carry it out is all wrong. The death penalty should ONLY be used in indisputable, clear cut cases. When they try and use the death penalty in a case because it was a "Murder 1" case, you leave too much room for error. Then, when it happens that someone was in fact innocent (because they tried using the death sentence in a case that was NOT clear cut), all the liberal bleeding hearts use it to try and abolish capitol punishment.
Besides, another argument I HATE is that the death sentence does not deter future crime. Who cares?!? I don't believe in sentences for deterring crime! I believe in PUNISHMENT!
When thinking of "self-administered justice", what does spontaneously come to your mind?
"TRUE JUSTICE". That's what. I was brought up to be someone who does NOT believe in calling the police or looking for help outside my family and friends. When something happens to me or someone I care about, I call my family, my friends, NOT the law. Fuck the law. Someone fucks with me or mine, and I will take care of them myself. Life is too short to rely on strangers who don't really care about you. Think about it. Police are only there to collect a paycheck, and do their job as basically as possible. They have their own life, their own family to worry about. I don't expect them to sacrifice everything for a stranger like me.
In the beginning of your career, you refused to perform live. Then, however, you played at the Deadly Actions Festival. So far you have performed live pretty often. In your opinion, how has your attitude towards live performances changed? Have the performances changed as well?
I guess I never thought that I would
be able to perform exactly the way I wanted. Later on I was proven
wrong. The only reason I even did the Deadly Actions festival
was a free trip to France. How could I pass that up? So I went,
and then realized that I could indeed do some of the things I
wanted, and decided to perform more.
There was a dramatic change in the "slogun" live shows. Around 2002 (at the God Blast America festival), it became a much more violent, "interactive" show with the audience. Since then it has basically stayed the same. The crowd being part of the performance, the yelling, berating, etc that everyone has grown to expect.
Since already talking about performances: did you enjoy your shows in Germany?
Oh absolutely! The first, in Mombris, which was set up by my good friends at White Rabbit, was incredible!!! A night I will never forget. Being able to perform with Dagda Mor was awesome. Fun time with a lot of friends and a lot of drink! Then in Berlin in 2005, one of the best planned shows I've ever been a part of. The guys at L.White were incredible. Fun time as well, and Berlin is one of my favorite cities! Love that place
Which event in your musical career do you especially keep in memory?
The event that will never be topped was
my show in Chicago with Brighter Death Now in June, 2003. The
most chaotic, insane, over the top show I have ever done. If you
were there, you would know what I mean. It was just the perfect
show. Girls fighting, people trying to choke me, bottles thrown.
It just never ended. So violent and chaotic. Insane. I had ten
people doing vocals with me, while two people controlled the sounds
on stage. Pure noise terror!
With three re-releases this year you're pretty active again on your label Circle of Shit / BloodLust. How come?
I had the re-releases planned for over five years already, originally as a box set. When that fell through, I always wanted to release it all as a series of CD's. Finally, last year Mark from Bloodlust! And I decided it was time. Along with that I finally got interested again in recording new material. It was quite some time that I recorded any new stuff. So right before the Japanese tour in November of last year, I began recording again, and it felt great! Now this year I have a few new releases planned, while also finishing the last few re-release CD's in the "History of Violence" series.
Now let's talk about your releases. A 5 CD box with your first recordings should have been released. Have you knocked this idea on the head again?
No, this is the re-release series that
I mentioned earlier. Instead of a box all together, I decided
to release it as a series. Six CD's with a bonus seventh disc
later on of early 7" tracks.
The albums "Will To Kill" and "Written In Blood" have been designed with blood amongst other things. Was it your blood? What did you want to express by that?
I just wanted the design to be "complete". And blood was an essential element to the design for the subject matter involved with each release. On Will to Kill it was my blood. On Written in Blood, I don't know who's blood it was.
Were you in touch with Koji Tano (MSBR)? Is there a special reason why you did not contribute to the Tribute Compilation? You did so in 2004 as regards the "Denzatsu" Compilation.
Koji Tano was a friend of mine. He's
actually the one who brought me to Japan the first time. I just
felt that I wanted to deal with his death my own way. Nothing
personal to they guys that put that tribute together, but Chris
(Sickness) and I released the Japanese '06 tour items in memory
of him. The Denzatsu comp was something Koji put together before
he died. I worked with him directly on that.
What may we expect from Slogun in the future? Will there be any new releases?
I have a few new releases planned. Soon there will be a two-track business card cd releases called "Every Cut a Little Deeper". After that I plan the next Slogun full-length release, as well as a split LP release with Control. Then there should be a split 12" as "Self" (my side project) with Omei (Sickness side project). I also plan on finishing the second "Self" full length sometime this year as well.
How would you judge the development of the Industrial scene in the USA? In comparison with Europe, are there any differences?
Well, the most obvious difference to
me would be that the European scene is definitely much more political,
whereas the American scene is much more "art" driven,
or more on the violent side. As for development in America, I
don't know. It does seem to have grown very much on the "art"
side. But as for the violent stuff, it seems like it has gotten
How do you judge the position of Power Electronics and the Noise scene in general? Do you think there's a change, and if so, why?
Well, both the noise and power electronic scenes kept the small "scene" mystique about it, although the P.E. scene of course remained a lot smaller over the years. I just don't feel that "noise" in general will ever get as big as it is now. That's about it with bands like Wolf Eyes, Prurient, etc. As for Power Electronics, I could never imagine it getting any bigger than the small scene that it it now, which I prefer!
Is there any artist you would like to collaborate with some day?
Over the years I have had the best luck
performing and collaborating with all my favorite bands/friends,
but there is ONE glaring omission, PROPERGOL! Jerome is a good
friend of mine and I hate that we haven't had an opportunity to
perform live yet. But we do have plans for a collaborative release,
so that will have to do for now. I really have been lucky with
Which other artist have influenced you? Are there any works you'd describe as "absolute must haves"?
I guess the artists that influenced me in one form or another would have to be the following: SPK, Sutcliffe Jugend, Intrinsic Action/Bloodyminded, Iugula Thor, Ramleh, Soldnergeist, Brighter Death Now in the "noise" scene so to speak. However, I have been equally influenced by bands such as Virgin Prunes, Princess Tinymeat, Crass, Minor Threat, Rudimentary Peni, Swans, Joy Divisionthe list goes on and on.
What do you think of EGO shooters? Do you play yourself?
I like them a bit, but never really got
into them. I'm older (38 years old), so I always gravitated towards
older arcade style video games and such.
But I did play on a Paintball team for a few years. We were actually called the "Porn Lords", which we took from Bloodyminded/Intrinsic Action. That was a lot of fun.
On your web site there's information about a graffiti book in which you deal with graffiti art from the 70s. What brought you to this subject? Could you tell us more about the essence of that book?
Besides Baseball, my other big passion
is original, old (pre-1977) New York City graffiti. I myself wrote
for years in the early '80's and the interest only got more intense
as the years went by. I am friends with a lot of the original
masters from the late 60's, early 70's, and these guys are great.
They started a completely new art form out of the streets on NY
and it still has not been appreciated enough, although the corporate
world likes to exploit it for their own personal gains. Yet it
is still viewed upon as just an eyesore created by a bunch of
The book is about all the very eary guys that have long been forgotten, many of them who got caught up in the drug crisis in NY in the late 70's and died years ago. I just really feel that there should be some sort of documentation of this before the history gets even more blurred.
On the web site www.sickathome.com you present some of your works. Could you tell us more about that?
Just some stuff I do to calm me down from time to time. A few friends suggested I make a web site for all of it so I did. Just some drawings I do while watching television, after work. One of my many obsessions in life: "The American Dream" of a house, backyard, white picket fence. A nice example of a simpler, less complicated time that is long gone.
Now some closing words to our readers! Thanks a lot. J
Nothing much else to say. Hope to travel
more, perform in places I've never been to, meet new folks, and
get drunk more!
Fuck the world! Bensonhurst, Brooklyn style. Thanks, take care. johnb
Slogun is a power electronics act that delves into true crime and specifically serial killers. Do you feel that you are idolizing these people?
I guess to anyone that doesn't know me, sure, it seems that way. But my angle with all of this is to throw America's (and slowly the rest of the world's) obsession with crime and violence back at them. I love the hypocrisy. Don't get me wrong, I come from a violent background and I have no problem with it. But it seems more and more people get their rocks off on the stuff and then if something happens to them, or they feel threatened in any way, they go "crying home to momma". Pathetic and weak if you ask me. It's not just the serial killer that we turn into celebrity. Look at the Mafia (Soprano's, Gooodfellas, Godfather) They are like God's the way we portray them. Ridiculous. Take it from someone who grew up with all these mobsters in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn: "It ain't pretty".
When you read about particular killers do you look for anything in particular? Does their crime (be it involving children, men or women) dictate whether they will be included in your music?
Not at all. I just find certain individual cases more interesting than others, like still unsolved cases (BTK or Clevelands Butcher in the 30's), or guys that never regret what they did right up to their execution (Panzram, Wesley Dodd)...certain things pop up that catch my eye, but it can be anything at any time...I don't look for anything in particular though...
It is unsolved cases that fascinate me most. People often ask me (as if I'm some fucking expert) 'who is the greatest serial killer ever?' Greatest can mean many things; it is an enigmatic word that is far too relative. However, my response is usually a gruff: 'the one who has never been caught'. Bundy, Toole et al failed by being captured. Comment?
Sure, I agree. What I like to imagine, almost a kind of "ultimate serial killer", are the ones who killed a string of people somewhere in time and the authorities never even made a connection. Even though there would be no "fame" in a case like this (even the cleveland butcher and such gain fame even though they are never caught), can you imagine how many serial killers there have been who killed a string of people and there were never any connections made? That's just an incredible thought.
Do you respect serial killers?
Hell no, that's ridiculous...I think they're fucking pathetic weak shits who can't "deal" so they do what they do...It does amaze me though, again, how they are written up or reported on like they're so "crazy" or "monsters". PLEASE! these are guys we'd all kick the shit out of for fun when they were in the schoolyard when we were kids. I have no respect for them, I have no sympathy for them, like I have no sympathy for a $5 crack whore or scum-junkie...why should I care? They're pathetic victims like the people they are killing.
My favorite part of serial killing is not the actual event, but the aftershock; family and friends crying about their loss. How about you?
That's funny, because my interests really
focus on people like you that say shit like that, and what you
would do if someone came along and raped and murdered your mom,
or sister, etc...how would you react? Interesting...don't get
me wrong, I love it when a "parent" is crying over the
slaughter of their "princess", who just happened to
be selling her pock-marked ass on the street for her next fix
at the age of 17...hilarious! where were these parents when their
little girl was doing all this? Responsibility people!
Now, even though I read up on all this shit and have this interest in the phenomena of serial killing, I don't sit around and get psyched at seeing some person's pain when they lose a loved one to the hands of a killer...
My favorite part would have to be society's reaction when a serial killer is caught. The fact that they are still surprised and say dumb shit like, "We would have never guessed", or "he was the nicest guy", give me a fucking break already!!! I'm sure every "monster" recorded has SOMEONE that can say "he was a nice guy"...stupid...
I find that type of logic somewhat flawed. The chances are miniscule You could replace that with the following analogy: Let's say I loved hockey (which I don't). Now my mom could be hit by a puck and die (it has happened - just not to my mom) or gangraped and killed by the Toronto Maple Leafs (she's still crying in the shower over that one) and I am certain that I would still love hockey (which I don't). Comment?
Yeah, I see what you're saying, but in my experience people who thought one way always seem to react the opposite way when something hits close to home. You may be totally comfortable with it, as I am actually, but most out there talk a good game, then cry like a baby when suddenly it's them on the other side. An analogy can be made with the recent tsunami near india. Sure, it was a terrible thing (blah blah blah), but when all this incredible "donate money, help the victims", etc started, the local TV crews were hitting neighborhoods that had large Indian or Sri Lankan populations, and everyone was like, "Help the relief efforts! Please!". Now, I couldn't help but wonder how many of these people donated money to any other relief efforts, or even helped on 9/11...you know what I mean? Everyone is out for themselves and then they cry when it blows up in their face. But I ask you. Are you comfortable with the fact that if something terrible happened to one of your loved ones, and some dude comes up to you and has genuine glee at your pain, would you be like, "fair enough"? Or would you rip his head off?
Many more people die from fighting (or simply getting beaten on) each year than from serial killers.How do you condone one kind of violence as fun, but another as weak and pathetic?
Hold on a second. I don't condone any violence, or consider it "fun". But I'm not going to lie, I sure fucked up a lot in my past, getting into fights and all that. I don't look back at it all and think, "cool." It's just one of those things we did growing up: bully and be bullied. These days, on the other hand, I'm not going to just go up to someone and "pop" them for nothing, but shit, if someone fucks with me or someone I care about, I don't know about you, but I NEED to do something! I can't live with myself if I just let it slide. Fuck that! I just meant that the image that is usually created regarding these serial killers is amazing considering that if you really just take a step back and look at them, you'd realize that they're these weak, usually timid shits who were trying to get back at the world the only way they knew how. There are exceptions of course. Guys like Panzram, Kraft, Berdella and even Dahmer to some extent.
In my opinion humans are born true to our nature and as we age we are innundated wiith rules and laws and morals. Do you believe that people who kill randomly and for no other motive than the pleasure of taking a life are more human than most people who live within the laws of man?
That's silly! to be "human" is to be a law abiding citizen with social interaction and an appreciation for others! The way you describe it, that's just another animal, and I feel that IS INDEED the way we are born, but we learn to be civilized...Not that there's anything wrong with getting in touch with our "wilder" side, but remember this, make sure you can cover that check! I'm not the toughest guy in the world, and I always know there's someone stronger and crazier than me: that makes me HUMAN! if you're cool with being the way you describe, expect to get "knocked off" by the first guy who has the ballls to do what has to be done when you indulge in that "primal" side...there are always consequences! civility is necessary on some level or else every weakling and "pussy" out there is fair game...
I disagree. First off I will agree that civility is necessary, but it is not our instinct that drives us to compassion. It is nurturing. At birth all you know is pain, but you are taught manners, mores, norms, laws etc. Many studies show that man is not only savage, but egocentric (the Stanford Prison Experiment where men were chosen to 'play' either guards or prisoners. The 14 day study had to be halted at the 6th day because the guards abused the pathology of power, or the southern University study where 100 sophomores were asked if they could get away with raping any woman they wanted - with no chance of being caught, would they? 100% said - fuck ya!) Man gravitates towards violence and is not stymied by right and wrong, but fear of reprisal. Comment?
I agree, but to be more "human"
would mean to kill for survival, not just for hell of it, or sexual
gratification. Wouldn't you agree? I wouldn't necessarily agree
with the last statement you made about "right and wrong"
and "reprisal"...There are many people who are indeed
stymied by right and wrong (me included)...And by the way, any
study with college sophomores doesn't fly by me in THIS culture!
MTV is GOD and the whole "bitches and ho's" scene rules.
That's more a reflection on the times we live in. I'll bet you
that the result would have been different 30, 50 100 years ago.
In Culture Asylum magazine you are quoted as saying: "Power Electronics is definitely a developed scene. It's gotten as big as it's ever going to get. It can't get any bigger." With Whitehouse sounding almost melodious with their "Birdseed" album, do you still believe that Power Electronics cannot find a wider audience?
Absolutely not! This pathetic "music culture" we live in now heavily relies upon MTV to force feed them what is "supposed" to be "good"...and the nice folks at MTV or VH1 would never, ever accept the lyrics and subject matter that PE focuses on. Political Correctness still reigns, and it expands beyond Racial issues...Imagine me doing "You were asking for it" somewhere where the masses can see it...never happen....
Perhaps not in the truest essence of power electronics, but Wolf Eyes recently signed with Sub Pop Records. Comment?
It's funny, in my original interview (which I lost, so I re-did it here), I mention Wolf Eyes and their success. But, although I consider them friends and enjoy what they do, it is not anything close to Power Electronics. There is NEVER any fear or tension during one of their shows, and the material covered is not what I consider PE. Guys like Bloodyminded, Taint, Deathpile, Suttcliffe Jugend, etc, that's PE!
And on the topic of whitehouse: I have noticed a disgust towards vagrants and especially prostitutes in your work. It makes me think of Sotos' Pure #1. Do you feel a kinship with his older style of writing?
Not really. I don't identify that much because that was HIS outlook on what was surrounding him. I can't ever say that we have "similar" views. We're different people with different ideas. I CAN say that I have no pity for whores or any other person who uses excuses for where they are in life. We are what we are, and we have no one else to blame in the end. Sure we all get shafted by many in the course of our lives. Some much more than others. But the fact remains that it is up to us to get out of whatever situation we are in. we have become a "victim" society in the last 30 years or so (thanks to the bullshit, hippy-loving, left wing ideas born out of the lame-ass 60's), no one seems to take responsibility for their actions anymore. I was brought up in a hard-core sicilian household where YOU took responsibility for your actions. Fuck that weak, "it's not my fault" way of thought!
Circle of Shit is a reference to Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. Do you read much literature and/or fiction as opposed to true crime?
Not really. I really enjoy reading history books or social/cultural history books. I'm not a great fan of fiction, although I'll get interested from time to time.
If I kill enough people - will you write a song about me? You could tell everyone how I was such a nice guy!
Well, if you killed enough people I'd like to think you'd never be caught, and I'd never even know what you were up to. You know, the "ultimate serial killer"!
I am dying (pun fully intended) to get my hands on your box set: History of Violence. How is that project progressing?
Actually, I have some really big news for the new year. I have already begun working on a series of re-releases of each of the cd's that was supposed to be in the box set. I have decided that because of various problems, I will release these cd's under my own label over the course of a year, but NOT in box set form. One re-release every two months. I still have not finalized all the exact plans, but rest assured, I have decided that to mark my 10 year anniversary of Slogun, I will begin re-releasing these in '05 into '06 (the anniversary year)...Just keep an eye out on my web site for that!
Anything else upcoming?
Besides the re-releases, there will also
be a re-release of my "Written in Blood" cd (with the
"I Travel" cd as a bonus add-on) by the french label
Force Majeure, and I have a project with Jerome from Propergol
in the works as well. There are some other things here and there,
but the best way to keep up is the "Upcoming" section
on my web site.
First can i have name, age, role/position in scene, brief history/genesis narrative:
My name is John Balistreri and I started
Slogun about 10 years ago (when I was 26) here in New York City,
or more specifically, the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn which
is where I was born and raised. The Slogun project is really just
me. However, when I perform live I have my core live members in
Sasha and Shane (from Noizguild) and Chris (from Sickness), along
with any other friends who want to be a part of that particular
I wouldn't consider myself really part of the new york "noise scene", as I find that scene a lot tamer and accessible than what I do, and it's evident by the fact that I'm not really invited to participate in any of these "noise" get togethers like the "No-Fun Fest". Even though Whitehouse is playing, it seems that everyone stays away from the real violent, aggressive end of the spectrum. I'm sure there will be many who disagree, but it's expected.
Why do you think there's been a spotlight placed on certain noisier aspects of the NYC music scene? I've gone to "noise" shows for more than a decade and am used to audiences of 5-10 people (even at post-MTV-mention Harry Pussy gigs!), so the fairly huge response to something like last year's No Fun blew me away. I mean, why noise now? (And speaking of No Fun, any bands not playing this year you'd like to see up there next year? More power electronics?)
Well, I'm not surprised at the growing interest in noise, or the noise scene that is accepted right now. I don't want to sound like a punk-ass, but it's all harmless, "safe", yet everyone can feel like they're part of some "cool underground" scene that "NO ONE REALLY KNOWS ABOUT"...PLEASE! People are always looking for something that they can call their own. The progression of underground music is naturally leading to this. It's just pathetic because people are only willing to go so far. Then they stop dead in their tracks when they're peering over the the real UNDERGROUND end of the "scene", or whatever you want to call it. Thank God for that though, as it allows those of us who are really interested to have some space at the shows WE want to go to (like the early Swans shows, or Missing Foundation, or Power Electronics shows today). As for the No Fun Fest. Well, it would be nice to get some of the more violent, aggressive bands like Control, Grunt, or Taint in. Or maybe some of the local acts like Navicon Torture Technologies or Viodre, or Sickness even, which I could not believe were not asked to play. Interesting.
Do you think a scene exists? If so/or if no, who are your kindred spirits/bands?
A scene here in New York? Well, again, there sure is SOME "noise" scene going on as far as the "artier" noise stuff (knitting factory shows, Thurston Moore and his entourage, etc). But for me, there is no scene here whatsoever! Hell, we have better reception at any of the shows we do around the world than here! Reaction to the real violent aggressive material is always poorly accepted here. Very interesting considering NY has always had this "Hard Core" image. It "ain't" in the noise scene, that's for sure! As for me and "kindred spirits", well, the list would be bands like: Control, Bloodyminded, Deathpile, Sickness, Taint, Propergol, Grunt, Skm-Etr, NTT, Con-Dom, Grey Wolves. Just to name a few.
Can you trace any sort of lineage? There's that recent Kill Your Idols documentary by Scott Crary, which ties DNA and other No Wave acts to Black Dice and less raucous groups like Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc while also taking some critical these-new-cats-are-media-whores jabs. Living in NYC, do you ever think back to the early Swans and company downtown history?
Absolutely! And thank you for mentioning them! I think in New York it all goes back to the unbelievable work bands like the Swans, Missing Foundation, Of Cabbages and Kings, and early Cop Shoot Cop. I also think there was always this connection to violent stuff like the Hardcore scene (Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags), and the earlier bands like Suicide (pure genius!). It's hard to try and construct a thread to today's "noise scene" in New York. It was put together by so many influences that were amazing in their time and place.
How do you define noise? (Here, I'm looking for vague and crazed or super specific subjective riffing....or whatever)
Well, let's be honest, "Noise"
is exactly what it is- "noisy" sounds put together and
presented as "music". You know what I mean. But naturally,
people have always had the need to break anything down to create
smaller groups and exclude others, so there's Japanoise, Art-Noise,
Power Electronics, etc. I don't care for any of that actually.
It's useless and pathetic. But before anyone criticizes me for
using the "power electronics" tag all the time, I just
LOVE the fact that so many little "noise-boys" hate
it so much and cannot deal with being confronted and yelled at.
And the "Power Electronics" term has so many hated connotations.
The reactions I get are priceless.
Hell, what is Noise? It could be some experimental Pink Floyd, it could be any of the japanese stuff, it could be early Current 93 or even Psychic TV et al. Now bands like Wolf Eyes are considered noise. "Noise" is material that does not follow the traditional structure of "music", which can still be such a general definition it's not worth getting into. Forget specifics, forget scenes and sub-genres. It's "noise" for god's sake! But for me noise HAS TO be violent. It has to make people feel uncomfortable. There has to be confrontation and NO IMAGINARY FOURTH WALL WHATSOEVER!!! If it's not traditional music it shouldn't be performed that way either!
What prompted you to get into the field of Power Electronics?
I got into it when i was working with Mark Solotroff from Bloodyminded/ Intrinsic Action about 10 years ago. At the time i was pretty much losing my mind trying to figure out how i wanted to get all this "shit" inside me out (art, music, writing), and it all pretty much came together when i started mapping out the "Slogun" idea. Power Electronics was perfect for what i wanted to do, which was mix in my interests (True Crime, Graphic Design, Noise) and my background (gangs, graffiti, Brooklyn, etc).
Since the name SLOGUN is taken from an SPK Song how does that define your music?
Simply put, in one sentence, "Therapy through Violence." just perfect. It's sad that nowadays we are trying harder and harder to convince everyone that the "physical" side of man is terrible. It seems that everyone has forgotten that "Man" is both equal parts physical and mental. Actually quite pathetic and weak. Leave it to the weak to try and put forward this idea of social advancement through the elimination of "bullying". Just like the weak, no?
What was the incident that inspired you to take the topic of true crime as opposed to other issues?
Well, as far as my interest in serial killers, it was when the final "Son of Sam" attack happened in my neighborhood when i was eight years old. The victim who survived the attack (the girl died) still lives around the block from my folks. I saw the media in front of the house, his parents crying. It was incredible. Then having my mom telling me what happened. Damn. It was the best type of horror story for an eight year old who loved horror stories. From then on i was following any type of serial killer story, and what a time it was: Bundy, Suttcliffe, Ramirez, Hillside Stranglers, Gacy, Rolling, Green River, etc.
How did you get involved in working with BLOODY MINDED and how does that differ from your work with SLOGUN?
Like i said before, i worked with Mark in Intrinsic Action right before he ended that project in 1994/95. Then he switched gears and started Bloodyminded/ Bloodlust! Recrodings, and that was when i began Slogun. Mark is one of my best friends, has been for a long time. We worked at the same record store in NYC. I can't really say what the differences are between Slogun and Bloodyminded because i don't want to speak on Mark's behalf as far as what his projects mean to him. For me, the one big difference between Mark and I is our backgrounds. I am very very influenced by all the "Hood" gang stuff i did growing up. Lot's of stupid things that filter their way into all my writing, no matter what the topic of that particular track. That's why I'm always mentioning "Bensonhurst, Brooklyn" and all that mob-mentality stuff. We were all just these angry sicilian thugs who bullied and got bullied. A constant "back and forth" of "tougher-than-you" bullshit.
What other projects are you working on other than your music and art?
Well, besides the Slogun stuff there's
the "Self" project, which had it's first LP released
recently by Self Abuse. It's dark ambient material based on some
other interests of mine. I also have my collaborative project
with Henrik from Folkstorm/ MZ412 called "Incinerator Intl".
Our CD "Head On" will be released in March on Old Europa
Cafe in Italy. Then there's a big surprise release (which i am
mentioning for the very first time here) called "circle of
shit", which is "cut-up" work i did back in 1992/3,
way before Slogun. Basically splices of a lot of my favorite artists
material. It was originally a tape i did for friends, but Mouth
Records convinced me to re-release it. Should be out in April.
As for the art and writing. I'm starting to put together a "slogun-book" of lyrics, other writing that didn't end up in song-tracks, etc. Then there's the "Sick at home" art stuff i do. Just recently got back into the flow of things with that. That's about it. Trying to calm down a bit and get the fuck out of dodge, travel more this year without the music tie-in.
Do you see the power electronic movement as a new scene or as a well developed scene?
Power Electronics is definetely a developed scene. It's gotten as big as it's ever going to get. It can't get any bigger. How? What people like Grunt, Taint, Bloodyminded and I do will never be accepted by a bigger audience. Especially the live shows. Way too over the top. Again, the weak and full of shit. They all want to be "down", but when called on it, they all run away and call me names. whimps.
What do you live shows consist of and do they vary show to show?
My live shows basically consist of me and a bunch of friends (sickness, skm-etr, bloodyminded, noizguild, deathpile, NTT; whoever is with me) "throwing up" whatever we're feeling at that time. We each do and say whatever we want, independant of each other. It's all about the "here and now". It has NOTHIONG to do with Slogun per se: lyrics, tracks, etc. I always wanted "live" Slogun to be a different entity than "studio" Slogun. They vary by who is there, type of crowd, place of venue (europe, U.S., Japan). That all contributes to the type of show, violence, interaction that happens from show to show.
What methods do you use to create the SLOGUN sound?
Very simple actually. A few analog keyboards, pedals, samples, and lot's of vocals...Nothing new, just all in the combination.
Dating back to your CD "Pleasures of death" what was the premise behind the song "the collector"?
The book "The Collector". The idea that there are people out there who "take" others for their own property and we don't have a clue. Just how many people do you think are out there being kept captive by others? Amazing thought. Great book, great idea.
Pertaining to US sound vs. Japanese sound, which do you like better and what do you find as the biggest quality flaw of the one you don't like as much?
Well, by US sound and Japanese sound do you mean "noise"? There is no Japanese Power Electronics that I know of. American Power Electronics is definetely my favorite for all the reasons i stated before, the vocals, the background, etc. As for noise, i'm not a fan of it except for a few artists like Sickness, Skin Crime, guys like that. But it's the guys like Grunt, Propergol, Control, Taint, Strict, brighter death now that keep me on my toes. Love them all.
Are their other Power electronic artists that you would wish to work with in the future? Why?
Actually, I've been fucking lucky over the years. I got to perform with everyone i want to perform with except two glaring ommissions: Grunt and Propergol, and I'll be playing with Grunt in March of this year. And Propergol and I are friends and plan on some shows together in the future. So i've done very well. Luck.
What do you feel are the differences in stage performances that have "audience participation", no matter what genre?
Audience participation makes everything so much better for me. To be honest, that's all i care about when it comes to live shows: how much fun my friends and i are going to have. I don't really care what the audience thinks. Audience participation makes it a brawl, a chaotic mess that leaves everyone spent, exhausted, yet exhilirated, whether they liked it or not. The traditional show: i.e. performer and spectator, is so fucking boring. why the fuck would anyone want to just "watch" a power electronics show? how boring is that shit? this genre was MADE for participation.
Are there any major festivals in the work that you are going to participate in, in the States?
Like i said before, in March I'm playing three shows with Grunt, Taint, Bloodyminded, Control, Sickness, Moment, Deathpile, and a few others. Should be fucking awesome.
Do you have any final words?
Not really. Just one thing, for anyone
who comes to a power electronics show, if you find yourself insulted
or offended by anything at the show, this genre is NOT for you.
Having opinions is one thing. But if you can't stay through a
performance without being offended, leave.
SLOGUN is well known project... but I still think we should start this interview with brief introduction... of you. Who is mister Balistreri? How old are you and where are you come from? What people should know about you when they meet you for the very first time?
I guess I'll start with the fact that I'm 36 years old, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I'm just a Sicilian guy who is obsessed with baseball, old New York City graffiti and serial killers, as well as collecting things. If you're not "real" with me, I don't want to know you.
:: I recall that your project's name comes from notorious composition of SPK. The track affected you so much that you have decided to start creating your own music... am I right? Don't you think that even today SPK is one of the most influential and at the same time one of the most underrated bands in the history of contemporary music?
Spk did indeed influence me a great deal. The first time I heard the track "SLOGUN", i was just blown away. It made everything else that people considered "violent" a joke in my eyes. It was pure chaos. I don't know if SPK is considered underrated, they always seem to be mentioned along with Throbbing Gristle, Non, etc when it comes to the early stages of "Industrial" music. If you mean underrated by the "masses", fuck them, they do not matter anyway. They all still think that Trent Reznor is the "Godfather of "Industrial Music"! It's pathetic.
:: You have started your project when you were very young and it's pretty common for youngsters to choose violent and extreme styles. SLOGUN is till alive and kicking, even more - it is as violent as never before. Usually, the older people get the softer music they play. And it's pretty common for bands to become 'softer' with every new album. But it's not your case. So, what helps you to create music without compromises for years?
Well, to be honest I wasn't exactly young when I started SLOGUN. I was 26 years old. As a project SLOGUN will never become "softer" because I will end it before it can get there! I was always an extreme person and short of temper, and getting older has not changed things. As a matter of fact I seem to be getting even more short of temper with age. Creating any new material has thankfully not been a problem for me. I just tap into my frustration with my own life and what I hate about me and those around me to project it through my music.
:: I'd like to ask you about your pre-SLOGUN activities. You have mentioned that you were collecting analog keyboards, so I guess you were into experimental electronic music. Am I right?
Well, I was into a lot of different types of music, but when I started messing around with equipment I can tell you the exact piece that inspired me to try something, and that was a track by 23 SKIDOO called "Just Like Everybody", which to this day just blows me away. It MADE me want to create "music". Things like CURRENT 93'S "Christ and the Pale Queens", Coil's "Wrim Wram Wrom", or even Gilbert & Lewis' (Wire side project) "3R4": pieces that are repetitive, droning, long works. That's what inspires me to do things.
:: Power electronics is not a music in 'typical' way, it's sound-oriented, and 'sound' is most important for any PE band. Some people think that this kind of music is very easy to make: turn on computer, play around with some programs and that's it. In some way it's right (for beginners), but almost every serious harsh noise/ PE musician creates sounds with various self-made equipment and know-how machines... what about you?
I have always just created sounds and textures with whatever I can get ahold of. When I started SLOGUN I was in the middle of this craze of collecting old analogue keyboards like Moogs, Arps, and Rolands, and I would play with them night after night, combining their output along with video tapes, old records, anything I could think of. But honestly, I was never one to "create" my own equipment or gadgets. But I would NEVER be a "computer" guy either. I never used a computer and never will. I just love to have old keyboards and old Walkmans, record players, etc to create everything. I wouldn't say that PE is easy to do, but at the same time I don't think it's terribly difficult to do either if you have a clear idea of what you want to produce.
:: SLOGUN's discography is quite impressing. Plus you took part in various festivals and shows almost all over the world. I recall, you have visited even Baltic States not long ago - it's almost Russia. What do you consider as SLOGUN's most important achievements so far?
For me the most important achievement as "SLOGUN" has been the travelling. Being able to travel to places like Japan, Lithuania, Latvia as well as Western Europe and performing has been amazing! I never thought that doing this "SLOGUN" project would allow me to travel around the world for free and see things I never thought I'd ever get to see. I remember when I toured Japan, it was an early afternoon and the guys and I were out eating some late breakfast in a parking lot, sitting on the floor watching people go by, and I turned to Thomas from Control and laughed, saying "You know, this is amazing. We really got no business being here!" And we all started to laugh. Funny enough, "We got no business being here" became the Tour "Slogan" for the European tour the next year.
:: ...and how do you imagine SLOGUN's ultimate album? Was it already written or you are still on the way to perfection?
I really have no ideas for an "ultimate album". I really don't. But I do have thoughts of an "ultimate show". The show I did in Chicago on June 13th, 2003 with Brighter Death Now and Projekt Hat was as close as I've come to the "perfect show". It was just pure chaos. People fighting, girls throwing things, the audience yelling and screaming at all of us. At some points you could not make out the "performers" from the "audience". It was one big mess. Everyone was just exhausted, energized, and beat up at the end of it.
:: Could you tell me about your most important interests beside music? Are there any?
I have too many interests actually! My life is all about interests. It's honestly the only thing that keeps me going. I am absolutely obsessed with Baseball for starters. I am a Baseball encyclopaedia. I have a giant New York Yankee tattoo on my leg to show it. Another "obsession" of mine is old New York graffiti. I wrote graffiti as a kid in the early 80's but I was always more interested in the first few years of graffiti, 1969-1976 or so. To this day I am friends with many of the early "Kings" and frequent get-togethers. I am also currently working on two books on early graffiti: one of my own collections of early pictures and one with the legendary early master, "Tracy 168" who is actually the person credited with coining the term "Wild Style"! I am also an obsessed True Crime enthusiast/ collector. Killers, Mobsters, etc. I have always been terribly interested in criminals, killers, etc since I was a child. Then there is the obvious: an extreme obsession with music of all types. Everything from Industrial, Goth, New Wave, Punk, Hardcore, Hip Hop, classic rock, Goa Trance and Techno. I love all types of music and cannot live without it. My favourite music acts are varied: Dead Can Dance, Dead Kennedys, Joy Division, Brighter Death Now, Death In June, Minor Threat, Velvet Underground, and of course SPK. There are many more interests but I could write for hours talking about them, (New York Subway history, New York City history, Living Dead Dolls, Documentary movies...)
:: You told me that you are interested in graffiti. In our part of the world it's pretty popular, but, in my opinion, it's totally amateurish and ugly (I talk about my city). I really do not understand what is so special in spraying letters on buildings. May be things in the States are different. So, I'd like to ask you the following: do you think that graffiti already could be called as Art? And what makes it different from other types of Art?
Well it's absolutely a different thing for me here in New York. I hate to sound bitter, but to me, the only graffiti worth a damn is original New York City graffiti from before 1980. Anything since then is popularized garbage! By 1980 the "art-world" got a hold of it all and exploited it, turning it into what it is today, "MTV-Bullshit".
I am friends with a lot of guys who started it all around 1969/1970. You have to understand, as a kid growing up in NYC, there is such a connection between these old writers, what they accomplished, and how it connected with us here in the city, growing up on the streets. Us younger kids identified with these guys. They created something so amazing, something that became so widespread worldwide, and they had NO IDEA what they were creating. These were kids from the streets of New York with no formal training in art. What they created on their own is nothing less that incredible. I don't care how nice graffiti looks today, and how artistic it is, it pales in comparison to what the innovators did in the early 70's with NO REFERENCE. You have to remember, these kids were INVENTING this stuff, not copying anything from the past. They were creating the past!
So, it's more than the "art" itself that engages me, it's the sociological importance to urban history that keeps me obsessed. Where else will you find and art form that was CREATED by kids between the ages of 10-15 with NO formal training, no guidance, no vision: just to gain "fame" by writing your name as much as possible around the city you lived in. And look at what it has become now, all from those handful of kids in the late 60's/early 70's.
:: Your violent music is creation of violent soul or it's your answer to this violent reality?
Everything I have done with SLOGUN is a reflection of my life, and my experiences. I took these experiences and wrapped them around the subject of "True Crime" to keep a sort of distance between me and the project, but the "feel", the chaotic energy is all from my life and those around me. I come from a nice neighbourhood, but with a famous criminal background: Bensonhurst. All "Mafia". All angry young Sicilians with chips on their shoulders ready to bash someone else's head in. And on many occasions it did happen. We fought a lot. Many of my friends ended up dead or in jail. It still amazes me how we were so accustomed to violence as children. I saw my first dead body at 9, had about seven of my friends murdered in the summer of 1988 alone, and attended more funerals in one year than most people attend in a lifetime.
:: How do you imagine a typical SLOGUN's fan? And what do you expect from your listeners?
I would like to think that the "typical" SLOGUN fan is someone who doesn't care about what anyone else thinks, does what they want without worrying about "image", and is "real". No bullshit, no "weak" shit. As far as what I "expect", I don't expect anything. I just want them to honestly enjoy my material for what it is, and feel free enough to criticize me if they felt they had to. I just want them to be "real" and honest.
:: SLOGUN's compositions consists of two vital parts: violent power electronics and vocal/ your messages. How important this second part for you? How do you choose words for your music? And do you expect that people will receive your message, understand it?
The second part, or the lyrical part, has always been the most important part of any SLOGUN track. The words and delivery of those words are what I am about with this project. The sounds and samples are secondary. It was always the my intention to deliver lyrics the hardest way I could, and I hope, the hardest way ANYONE has done before or since. That's what I want to be remembered for with SLOGUN: The vocals. I never worry about how much people "understand" what I'm talking about. I just have to write what I need to write and leave it at that. I've been fortunate enough however, to hit a nerve with people and have them "connect" with me on some level. I guess there are a lot of pissed of people out there.
:: How fertile American soil for harsh industrial music? What do you think about PE/ noise scene in the States?
The States has never been "open" or fertile for any type of "experimental" music. Sadly, Americans are very reluctant to any type of "different" material, whether it be film, music or even art. As fort Power Electronics, it is almost "non-existent" here, terrible. America is indeed an "MTV" culture. The worst of the worst!
:: Our medias create image that typical American is always a patriot. Do you consider yourself a patriot? And what do you think about the situation when your motherland became world's dictator?
I really don't care. I'm not terribly "political" or "Patriotic". For me life is too short to worry about such large-scale things. On the other hand I am tired of others from other countries complaining about America. They can all go fuck themselves and shut the fuck up. They should all stop their whining. As far as being the world's dictator, that's a ridiculous argument anyway because nations seem to love taking our money and accepting our help when they need it, but then they complain when they realize it was at a price. Nothing is for "free" and life is a bitch, so they should not be surprised when they are screwed over. People suck, there's no other way around it. I know that American politicians do not care about me or those around me, and people outside of America should realize this as well while also understanding that their own politicians and government do not care about them as well. It's all a joke! But you must realize that your media is lying by trying to create this myth that the typical American is a patriot. It's a lie. People have more important things to worry about (jobs, family, etc) than our corporate run sham of a government.
:: My other question would be about your obsession - True Crime. It's mentioned even on your site. So, you collect books and videos about this kind of things, or your obsession is more serious you are doing researches?
Well, it's been well documented that my interest in "crime" as a subject alone has a personal importance (where I'm from, my friends and family, etc). It's what I am and where I "come from", but as a child I started hearing about all these guys on the TV (Gacy, Bundy, Hillside Strangler, Danny Rolling). It was fascinating to me! It was like the "Boogeyman" really did exist. The "Son of Sam" killed his last victim in my neighbourhood! I remember the morning after, his last victim lived around the corner from me! He was shot through the eye and his girlfriend was killed. Remember, I am 36 years old, so when I was about 10, there were all these killers on TV and in the newspapers. It was an "active time" for serial killers. I just latched onto the subject then and kept reading more and more, become more and more interested in all aspects of serial murder (The "why's, where's, when's, etc). As with anything else I'm interested in, I become obsessed and throw myself into the topic full-on.
:: Crime, maniacs, murderers are some sort of national heroes in the States. They are on TV, on pages of papers and so on... Don't you think that today's System itself creates new criminals? It looks like young generation grows up in atmosphere where violence is a norm and killing a man is OK. The good examples are those serial murders in American schools.
Before I answer this, I have to say, it's not fair to say that America creates "National Heroes" out of these serial killers. That's not rue. Maybe that's what your media wants you to think. But believe me, sure, the American media covers, and sometimes sensationalizes these murderers, but they are far from looked upon as "Heroes"! I think the word you want to use here is "celebrity". American media has always created "celebrities" from tragic news events, and not just serial killers (look at the Mafia, Susan Smith, Yusef Hawkins, etc). Also, please remember, those kids who shoot up schools are NOT serial killers, they are spree killers, and there is a HUGE difference! If I turn around and shoot a bunch of people on a subway at once, that does not make me a serial killer. I won't lie, children nowadays do indeed grow up with extremely violent imagery, but that is not the problem, it's the home, the "family", or lack of it, that creates violent children, NOT the media. In America there are way too many children growing up without the correct adult supervision, and we are NOW paying for it. Children need adult influence. They need guidance, but in American culture, with widespread divorce, or both parents working everyday for long hours, kids are growing up learning things on their own, making their own judgments, and that is tragic. Also please remember that America is not the only country with the "Celebrity of Serial Killer" problem! Great Britain Has been doing this for years (Ian Brady, Jack the Ripper, etc), as well as Germany (Peter Kurten, Fritz Haarman, etc). It's always easy to point to America for the world's problems, but let's be fair, we haven't cornered the market on irresponsible behaviour! People are the same all over, and we as a species are pathetic, weak individuals who refuse to take responsibility for our actions (It's always someone else's fault!)
:: And your another obsession is NY Subway history. A lot of cities have subways, my Minsk has a subway, but I hardly can say anything entertaining about it. So, you study when certain stations were built and so on? Or NY subway full of mysteries and secrets?
The New York City subways were built over 100 years ago, and there is a great deal of history in the subway, and how it influenced the city's growth in the far edges of the city. Places like Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx all grew the way they did ONLY because of the development of the subways. These areas were too far for people to live, and still work in the city-center.
The subway here in NYC is an amazing system of tunnels and elevated tracks that thread their way through all types of neighbourhoods, from the good to the bad, but it still keeps everything "connected". And for those of us who wrote graffiti or were just curious enough to venture down into the tunnels, there are many secrets and "underground lairs" that are fascinating!
There are people down there that have been there, LIVING, for years and years, never coming up to the surface! I have come across families that are living in the tunnel system, with electricity, heat, water. It's amazing. You should check out a great documentary called "Dark Days", which is all about these people.
:: BTW, what is it Living Dead Dolls?
Ah yes, I should have explained earlier. "Living Dead Dolls" are a series of dolls that are "Dead". That is, they are dolls of "dead children" that come packaged in coffins, some of which are based on well known figures like "Damien" from the movie "The Omen", or "Lizzie Borden", the axe-murderer from the 1890's. They are quite collectible and are famous worldwide among us crazed collectors. If you go on ebay and type it in, you'll be surprised at how "big" it is!
I saw Slogun live at the Empty Bottle in Chicago on June 13, 2003. During their set I felt something that I hadnt felt at a show in years. Fear. I was afraid of them. Im a very cynical person. Whenever I see a band try to be scary, my first reaction is to laugh at them. But this was different. Slogun werent scary in the Ooooh, look at me sense. I mean I felt physically threatened. Not in some "Ok, ha-ha this is show biz" kind of way where theres lots of posing and menacing looks. No, I really thought that someone in Slogun might take a swing at me. Never mind the fact that I had met John Balistreri the night before and found him and his collaborators to be friendly people. That didnt matter. This was their show. It was them against the crowd. If I was in the crowd, I was the enemy, and I ran the risk of being punched, pushed or even strangled by John or any of the 10 people collaborating with him that night And while I was afraid of the possibility of meeting physical harm, their set was invigorating. They had barreled their way through my cynical exterior and made me FEEL something. At that show, I realized that Slogun is misanthropy in action. This isnt a group of rich kids talking about misanthropy for shock value this is a group of people actively involved in warfare against other people. Slogun is John Balistreri. All recorded music/noise is John and only John. For performances, John collaborates with a variety of other noise musicians. I talked to John over the phone in July 2003. I actually had a lot more questions for him than whats in this article, but I just let him rant for a while and he ended up answering my questions without me having to ask them. Honestly, it was kind of hard to get a question in edgewise. Hes a talkative guy.
IN: Is Slogun a product of your upbringing in Brooklyn?
JB: It is. Id say like 99% of it is. But, I took a topic [true crime], and mixed that in with my attitude and outlook on things. Thats all from the neighborhood. Where Im from is just something you have to experience. Everyone was just this walking time bomb. Always fighting. Basically just a bunch of thugs hanging out bored, nothing to do. Middle class, all from nice families, but were bored, and were just standing there, so what do we do? We fight each other. Fight other people. Bunch of thug, wanna-be mobsters hanging out on the corner figuring out who they are going to shiv next! [laughs]Im Sicilian, and where Im from is very blue collar. [People felt like] theres nothing outside the neighborhood. There would be times when my parents would ask me, "Why do you go into the city so much?" You have your few blocks and whatever, and thats it. Why would you need anything else? Personally, it drove me fucking nuts. [laughs] It made me such an angry young man! I was not one of the many people who got into noise from hearing about Whitehouse. Believe it or not, Mark from Intrinsic Action was playing at this club, and he played and I was like "What the hell is this?". And from there I just started out [about] all this stuff. It was the perfect outlet!
IN: Im a little ignorant about New York neighborhoods. Is Bensonhurst is part of Brooklyn?
JB: Yeah, Bensonhurst is a part of Brooklyn. Its the biggest Italian neighborhood in New York City. By car, its not even 10-15 minutes from downtown Manhattan. Saturday Night Fever was filmed out here. That was shot on location in Bensonhurst where I grew up. I actually grew up on 86th street. The opening scene of [Saturday Night Fever] is [Travolta] strutting down the street. That is the street I grew up on.
IN: Is that the same area where they filmed Summer of Sam?
JB: No, Summer of Sam was filmed in the Bronx and Queens. But, the connection to Bensonhurst and Son of Sam is his last attack. The one where Susan Moscowitz died and the guy, Robert Viollante, lived. That attack was in Bensonhurst. And to this day, Robert Viollante lives right around the block from my parents. I remember the next morning after the attack. I remember Sunday morning, me and my dad were walking up the block to the candy store to get the paper. I was eight years old at the time. I remember the police, his mom- Ill never forget his mom, at the top of the steps just crying. I remember just asking my dad "What happened? What happened?" and we didnt know what happened. And then, minutes later were buying a newspaper, and "Oh my god!" My dad was explaining it all to me. It just blew me away.
IN: Did that start a life-long interest in serial killers?
JB: I would say, in a way it did. At the time, I really didnt understand what that was. But, I was totally interested in that situation. Luckily for me, my mom wasnt the type of person to hide things from her kids. I guess the Son of Sam thing let me know that things like that existed. I actually remember this stuff on the news. I totally remember the Hillside Stranglers, and Bundy, and the Gacy stuff. By the time I was in high school, thats all I wanted to know [about]. The Son of Sam thing, that was the first time I had even imagined that there was something like this thing where this guy goes around killing people! I mean, yeah, people kill people, I knew that from my neighborhood. But [with serial killers] there was this wild thing where look at all the attention hes getting! It was like a game! As a kid, it was so strange to me. OK, this person got shot and killed, but why does everyone care? Why are all these people in front of his house? Why this one?
IN: You think that part of the publics reaction to a serial killer is that it hits close to home? That it couldve been them?
JB: I guess. Every once in a while you do get these killers, like Night Stalker who was just totally random killing quote-unquote innocent people, blah, blah, blah. The bottom line, as much as people do not want to admit it, it is entertainment. Thats the way we look at it. A lot of the shtick behind what I do with Slogun is this whole "Fuck you, man." This false sense of security and civility and whats right and whats wrong and whats proper conduct. Lets face it, we love this shit. We eat this shit up. Im talking about the general public. Barnes and Noble would not have True Crime sections in the middle of America if the stuff didnt sell. Joel Rifkin, who was a serial killer in New York , who killed like eleven prostitutes, and Im talking crack whores, and yes, some people end up in positions like that because of horrible things that happened to them in the past, and Im not overlooking that, but, the bottom line, if I pass a junkie on the street, I dont give a shit. I dont give a shit about that person. Up to a point, we should all be responsible for our own lives. The general public feels the same way whether they want to admit it or not. Lets say you have this husband and wife who are in New York for the weekend who just want a nice night out on the town. How many homeless people and prostitutes and crackheads do they pass during the night? And they dont give a shit. Then the next day when they read about them being killed, theyre like "Oh thats so horrible!" That just kills me! Why is it horrible? Dont even try to say that you give a shit! You dont care! Its OK to say that you dont care that theres this guy going around wiping out crack whores. Its not written anywhere that you have to care about this, and you dont. So, dont lie! As far as this attitude behind the stuff I do, my attitude is just "Fuck you! Stop bullshitting! Youre all full of shit!" Even though I play around with different angles of the idea, it really originated with [serial killers]. Why is it wrong that Im very entertained by this stuff? I like it. Im entertained by it, its not like a sit in my house wishing that there was a new serial killer going around killing people. Im not psychotic! But I'm entertained by it! I dont think that theres anything wrong with admitting it! Serial killers are important from a sociological standpoint. What a great example of the culture we live in. Not to quote someone who I really think is annoying, but Charlie Manson said, "Im just a reflection of you." My god! Such a little stupid statement, but I honestly believe that its such a true statement. I dont know if youve noticed, but in the last ten years there has been an effort by American media they purposely do not cover serial killer stuff in any way. Rarely does that stuff get mentioned anymore. There has been this effort to downplay it over the last ten years. You get little bits and pieces where in the 80s they wouldve done a full blown story on it.
IN: Why do you think the media is doing that?
JB: Look, since the 1950s the P.C. liberal left ball has been rolling. Its just been getting more and more ridiculous. Whats happening now is its been rolling so far that the political correct are becoming right wing without even knowing it. Now, theyre the ones who are telling us what were allowed to think and what were not allowed to think. Or whats acceptable to say. Its just ridiculous, and it carries over into everything. Were such a bunch of wimps now in this country. Our culture is so female-driven. It really is. Man has totally been emasculated. Look at TV. Look at the commercials. The woman is the smart one in the relationship. Shes the one whos making all the decisions. Shes the one who manages the family. And the guys the bumbling idiot. And, dont get me wrong, I mean, whatever. If thats the case in your family, more power to you. There has to be a balance. Im not right-wing. Im not conservative. Im nothing. Im just a guy who is living. Its amazing how liberal weve become. Because of it, things are getting censored. Youre not allowed to touch upon certain things. Now, youre not allowed to express any opinion even if youre not being rude! Like, stating a fact. Like me going up to a girl in a bar, and if shes being rude to me, the fact that if I turned around and said to her "Youre a girl. I could fucking destroy you. Physically speaking I could destroy you." You know, oh my god, Im like a beast. How dare me. Can we not express fact anymore? Can we not express whats real because it might offend someone? Its scary. Where are we going with this? Ugh, god. The way we coddle children. The way children now are really the head of the family. Its just frightening. It is refreshing that at least in some parts of the world, the family unit is still what it was meant to be- its a fucking dictatorship, man! And Im down with that! When I was a kid I was down with that. I knew my father was the head of the family. And I knew what he said, went. And I knew that every time he slapped me around or something, I kid you not, I deserved it every fucking time! Because I was the moron doing something stupid. Nowadays, [people think that] the family unit is a democracy. No, its not! Im sorry, but your child who is under the age of ten has no say in anything. No say. The fact that we now give kids too much say in the family unit is absolutely terrifying. Thats also reflected in TV. Like in the Apple Jacks campaign theyve had the last few years with again where its usually the Dad, its always a man, by the way, in these Apple Jacks commercials thats asking, "Well, why do you eat them?" and the kids have this little snotty remark "We just do". You know, parents just dont understand, theyre so stupid. "You know what? Let me backhand you a few times, then well see who understands! Ill tell you what, why dont you take your Apple Jacks, get the fuck out of my house, and go eat them out on the fucking street. Then well see how much you like Apple Jacks!" With the intent of trying to be a better people, were getting worse. Weve totally lost control. Were so worried about offending other people and saying the wrong thing, and yet we let our kids go to shit. God, I know I must sound like an old fart right now, but Jesus Christ, man. Until parents start being parents, were fucked. Its not going to get any better. Its sad, because this country is going to shit. Were slowly killing ourselves. Enough of this whole dividing people. I think we divide people more and more and more and more. Classic Rodney King, man! Cant we all just get along? If youre black, I dont care if youre black! Youre my friend! I dont give a shit! If youre a Jew, I dont care if youre a Jew! Youre just my friend! And if youre a girl, fine, but I dont give a shit! To appreciate everything, were dividing everything. I hate the fact that at power electronics shows, theres not one black person. At the Chicago show, there was one fucking black guy. It bothers me. Why? Why is it like that? Why does it have to be like that? What the fuck? Im not trying to be a part of some white fucking thing. Im just doing what Im doing. And that big old rambling, by the way, will give you a good idea of why the Slogun shows have been like they have lately! I [have] strayed away from the serial killer thing. Have you ever seen one of my earlier shows?
JB: Id be standing there, and Id be shouting out even though I never did actual lyrics in mind, Id remember certain songs, and what the idea was about it, and just go with it. Once God Blast America happened, thats when it all changed. Venting and going off on people. In this case, when its more in that environment, we are full of shit. Chicago was great because I was saying "Im full of shit. Were all full of shit. Im full of shit. Youre full of shit." Whatever.
IN: Since GBA, what shows have you done besides Chicago?
JB: There was a show in Boston with Chris [Goudreau of Sickness] in January. So three shows like that.
IN: Has anyone gotten the wrong idea about your shows since then, and called the cops or anything?
JB: No, nothing like that. Lets face it. No ones going to stumble into a power electronics show not knowing what it is. Its such a small scene. The only people who are going to be there are the people who know what its about, or girlfriends of guys who know what its about. As far as people getting the wrong idea, the only people I can kind of think of in that situation would be like the venue. No, theres never been a problem like that. But, that I would understand. If someone stumbled in and saw that, I would expect them to be like What the fuck is going on? Holy shit, look, theres a fight breaking out! What kills me are these motherfucking posing sons of bitches, who think they like extreme music, [and] get offended by what I say! You know, my background IS fighting. This is my background. Im not saying that everyone thats into power electronics has to be a thug. Of course not. I left that [life]. Im one of the few guys who got out of my neighborhood. Im saying "Fuck you! Prove it to me! You want to be down with me? You want to be down with what Im saying? Prove it to me! Someone, right here, right now, hit me." And Im standing there and no ones doing anything, and its just as I thought, youre all a bunch of fucking pussies. My point is, Im just saying, you know what guys? Were all full of shit. We know it. So, one, at least admit it. And two, dont walk around like a jerk-off like "Oooh, I got the latest Slogun release" or whatever release and then in the privacy of your own room, masturbating to the idea of "Oooh, yeah, I could be a serial killer." Quite honestly, at a power electronics show, anything goes. If I go to a power electronics show, and the motherfucker takes out a gun and shoots me, yeah, Ill be surprised and a little bit bummed. "Oh shit, look, I got shot." But, its not like the next day [melodramatic voice] "I cant believe he took out a gun and shot me!" ANYTHING SHOULD GO. If we're supposed to be the most extreme music out there, you shouldnt be surprised. Dont come to a show if youre worried about getting hit. Or youre worried about getting offended. Its like going to a GG Allin show and being surprised that youre walking out covered in shit and that he punched you in the face. Then whyd you go? You knew what you were going to. What next? Are we going to have to have everyone sign a disclaimer before they walk in? And if I offend you, Im very sorry, but this is what youre getting into. And the thing that scares me about this power electronics scene is it is getting a little bigger. It cant possibly get BIG, but it is getting bigger. It is becoming trendy within this little scene. Theres already this trendy element to it. Theres this acceptable thing and a non-acceptable thing. Everyone wants to go watch Genocide Organ do their thing, and basically look at the video behind them, and oh, the holocaust and Germany, mother Europe, thats cool. Thats acceptable. But then when me and Chris or Keith [of Taint] or Mark from Bloodyminded start doing what we do, people start getting a little uncomfortable. They dont like it. Why? Because were throwing it in their face! Ive noticed after shows a few people would kind of resent what were doing. And you know what? Thats fantastic. Its beautiful. There was a guy who was pissed off that after the [Chicago] show [that] I was nice. He was angry that I was talking to people, and that I was hugging people. What the fuck, man? What am I supposed to do? Take out a knife and start shivving everyone who comes up near me? This is entertainment. I am venting my shit, but it doesnt mean that I have to be an asshole! I hate to say it, but a lot of the guys into this stuff are guys who could never defend themselves. And, I respect that. There are fighters and not fighters. I understand that, but dont walk out of a power electronics show and be offended by what I said! And be like "Why does he have to say things like that?" Oh, Im sorry, I didnt stick to the script! Im not in front of you screaming and making believe Im a serial killer. How gay is that? To me, thats ridiculous. Im not going to stand there, and [melodramatic voice] "and I grabbed the girl, and I raped her and blah, blah, blah and I punched her in the back of the head. Look at me! Im making believe Im a serial killer! Oooh! Were all crazy right now! Were living in the moment! Were making believe were serial killers!" A whole room of about a hundred of us! How stupid is that? A serial killer doesnt get in front of people and say things like that! His whole life is like the loneliest life in the world! Yet, to make everyone happy Im supposed to be screaming like Im a serial killer. But, Im not allowed to hurt anyone. Theres this gray line forming thats soon going to be black as far as whats acceptable and whats not. And I might be pushing it, or Keith might be pushing it. I guess it all started in November when Keith Taint did Deadly Actions and there was a little incident with this friend of ours [who] was part of the Taint show. Something happened at the show where he slapped this girl in the face. The bottom line [is] youre at a power electronics show! [That] pissed me off because thats Deadly Actions. Thats like one of the biggest if not the biggest noise/power electronics festivals going, and suddenly people there are going to get offended? Because a girl got slapped? Excuse me? I should be able to take out a baseball bat and crack your head open! Oh, were all tough power electronics people, but a girl is still a girl and a guy is still a guy. No, it dont work that way. No. If a girl is tough enough to go to a power electronics show, shes tough enough to deal with whatever happens in there. If a girls tough enough to slap me in the face, shes tough to have me slap her back in the face. Thats the way it is. At least thats the way I feel. Its [usually a] girl whos the only one doing something. The only one with balls in this place. And then of course, the guys start to do stuff. Oh, right, NOW youre going to do something because a girl embarrassed you. Its hysterical.
IN: You know, one thing about the Chicago show, I was impressed by how many women came out to it.
JB: Yeah! Unbelievable! I was absolutely amazed by how many girls were at that show! That was great! This girl who I still e-mail now, she was great! [During the show] she kept making the motion with her hand like Im just flapping my gums. And I love it! Sure, during the show, I sound like Im pissed at her and I want to rip her fucking heart out or whatever, but I love that! TELL me what you think! And it was the girls who were doing that shit! Another girl was grabbing me and telling me "Fuck you! Fuck you" or whatever. Jesus Christ, are these the only people comfortable enough to say whats on their minds? Everyone else is just standing there like the arty/farty : [quiet, reserved voice] "Im here. Im experiencing this. Its an event." I dont care! I dont want to stand up on a stage. I dont want to stand above you. Its not the point of all this shit. It should just be crazy. It should just be like nothing makes sense, you know? Its already changing. Its sad.
IN: Did I read that you used to be a graffiti artist?
IN: What was your tag?
IN: How long were you doing that for?
JB: From like 81 to 87. I graduated from high school in 86, and I kind of just stopped. I just did. I dont know why. But, also by then, it was dying out. Im real big on graffiti. I still am obsessed. God, it was so amazing back then. It was really just venturing out of your house in the middle of the night, and just doing what you were doing. It really was just like this wild network of kids throughout all of New York City. It was just so amazing. As a twelve year old kid, I knew these kids from the worst projects in the Bronx to the richest neighborhoods up in Riverdale or whatever. By 84 or 85 it started changing. By like 87, they successfully got rid of some of the graffiti on the trains. That kinda killed it. I still go to these like graffiti conferences, and I still keep in touch with a lot of people. As Im driving or walking around, I look at all the graffiti and stuff. Back then it was just honestly, graffiti had the biggest effect on my life.
JB: Yeah. Thats the first thing and the only thing that got me out of my neighborhood in the beginning. Thats what made me realize that theres a lot more than Bensonhurst as a kid. At a young age, eleven [or] twelve years old, mingling with other races and shit that was amazing to me! Im from Bensonhurst, man, theres only Ginnies! Im hanging out with these kids, and just seeing New York City for starters, and just doing this stuff, and I was getting known. And youre meeting new people. You cannot know how it felt at two in the morning. One, the fear of God that your parents figured out that youre not home. The fear that my father would absolutely destroy me. Two, getting caught by the cops. Three, youre in the middle of a train yard at two in the morning, god knows where. A neighborhood that youve never been in in your life. A neighborhood that you didnt even know existed. Youre there with a few people you havent known that long, or maybe even just met that night. Bombing a train, and youre trying to do something that you drew out at home. Youre there for like 3 or 4 hours, and all of a sudden its done and youre like "holy shit". Then later you actually see that train the next day or a couple days later and youre trying to take pictures. Its like the best thing, man. To get really a great idea of that whole graffiti thing, in the time I was doing it, I dont know if youve ever seen that documentary Style Wars?
JB: Its out on DVD now. It was done in 84. Actually one of my trains is in there too. Its a great documentary. Its that whole breakdancing, hip hop and graffiti thing, but back then when it was just starting out. You get a great idea of how it was, because now its just totally different. You get writers that set up these international things, and permission walls. Theyre doing walls that youre allowed to do, and thats all cool, but graffiti was an outlaw thing! You were doing something illegal! And now its totally changed.
IN: Have you been able to get any of your old graffiti friends out to a Slogun show?
JB: In Boston, my friend Shawn, that was the first time he had ever seen a performance. This other guy Chris I know came. They were just blown away. They loved it. Thats what kind of sucks about power electronics. With all the things I said that were problematic with our culture now, man, if so many of these fucking thug guys from all over the country knew that power electronics existed it would get a lot bigger. If you wouldve seen these guys they were just so juiced up after the show. They totally fed off it. If a lot of these guys had a chance to see it, theyd be into it. The emotion out of it and the energy out of it. Because it IS totally where theyre coming from! Because its where I came from! Thats actually what I was trying to do with the Chicago show. Like months before, I already knew that I wanted the Slogun set to be like a gang thing. I wanted us to look like a gang in front of everybody. The week before we were in Philly, I was going over everything. I just wanted to stress to everyone, "I know [some of] you guys dont do vocals, but theres not supposed to be a supposed-ta. Do whatever the fuck you want to do at that moment. If you want to leave the show, leave. If just want to throw something. If you want to just sit there and jerk off. Do whatever you want to do, because its all about whatever each individual wants to do, fuck the fact that were doing a show. Fuck the fact that were performing. It has to be this attitude where we do not give a fuck about you guys. Were just doing our thing and thats all." Damn, man. As far as the Slogun set goes, I thought that was one of the greatest things Ive ever done in my life. It just worked out exactly the way I was thinking about it months before.
IN: It was a great show. One for the ages!
JB: I just wished there was more audience participation, but what are you going to do?
IN: Will your 6 cd History of Violence be out by press time, January 2004?
JB: Definitely. Its a 6 cd boxset. Its the first seven cassettes I did. They were limited, obviously. Limited is such a stupid word! Not many made. Theres going to be a seventh cd that you mail in for thats going to be like the first four seven inches and then the first couple of compilation tracks that I did. Next month the only non-power electronics thing Ive ever done is coming out. Its kind of ambient stuff being released under the name Self and the title of the album is The Mind and the Matter. That, and Im waiting for Cold Meat Industry to release that Incinerator International cd I did in collaboration with Heinrich of Folkstorm and MZ 412.
IN: Is there a story behind God Never Gives Me What I Want?
JB: [laughs] The interesting story behind that is that at my last job, I used to work for this big electronics place that sells computers. I used to work in the Mac department. There was a bunch of guys who we all really got along with. All we would do all day is just look at the women coming in and out. We had our own language. We had hand signs to let everybody know what was going on. Someone would yell out "Yo, do we have stock on SY?" and SY meant "schoolyard". Which meant there was a gorgeous 16 or 17 year old girl in the department. So, thats how wed let everybody know. Or wed be like "Oh, man, I think I ran out of MDC". Which means mother-daughter-combo. It meant that there was a mom and a daughter who were hot beyond belief! It just became such an obsession with us. But at the same time youre watching all these girls and you get frustrated! So, one day my friend Tommy comes in out of nowhere enraged. Rage, like the guy was ready to punch something! We had these terminals where we would put in our sales. I was just standing by mine, and saying it to no one in particular, pissed beyond belief, [my friend says] "FUCKING GOD NEVER GIVES ME WHAT I WANT!" I turned around, and went "What the fuck did you just say?" He turns around, and hes like "Oh. I fucking hate this man. God never gives me what I want." What are you talking about? "That fucking girl over there", I looked and it was some gorgeous fucking woman. And I was like "Oh my god, that was brilliant! God never gives me what I want!" And I just started writing it right there! Im like "Dude, thats a power electronics track! Im writing it right now!"
Well John, start with the recent release of "Murder U.S.A". The package composed by four postcards that point out the four cardinal points and the title, hides some conceptual aspect? Do you consider the United States as United Homicides?
***Well, throughout the eighties the united states was indeed the capital of the serial killer, and the American mass media did indeed approach it all with open arms. It was actually this infatuation with the serial killer that created this image of the united states as a country "in love" with their celebrity serial killer. As it turns out, over the last ten years or so, the politically correct way of thought here has turned 180 degrees, where we ignore what's going on, and make believe that 'all is good" here, and none of that happens anymore. We all know it does, and I love the fact that people love to lie to themselves and think all is well. I cannot honestly say that the united states Is the capitol of mass murder any longer, but I can tell you that there are a lot of these guys doing their business, and the media has taken this idea of " don't acknowledge, don't tell" attitude, and for what? Because we all want to think that we're safe? That everything is good here? Bullshit! It's just as bad, if not worse, than before!
By the way of United States. How does the project of "United States 2" with Propergol? And what is your role in this project?
***Well, propergol is honestly one of
my favorite projects! Period!! I had the pleasure to meet him
in germany when I performed there in september 2001, and he is
brilliant, nothing more to say! With his genius in producing great
soundscapes, and my vocals, which seems to be a perfect match
for Jerome, we plan on something great on cd. I trust Jerome with
all my being, and I know that he will release something that I'll
be proud to be a part of!
How do you see the scene power-electronics European in comparison to that American? Do you believe that the extreme sonorous violence of projects as Slogun, Sickness and Deathpile fully reflect the social reality of USA, in comparison to projects less "hard" of Europe?
***well, it's quite involved when you
compare the two types of "power electronics". In america,
we are much more "street". That is to say, we concentrate
on the violence around us everyday. Whereas in Europe, it seems
that they are more interested in the "political angle of
it all. As I'm sure you know, Americans seem to care very little
about the political side of things because we feel that it does
not affect us personally. We are not convinced that the government
has our best interest at heart. As a matter of fact, we know that
they do not!! I personally think that the bands like sickness,
deathpile, and bloodyminded reflect all that is prevalent here
in the united states. I do not give a shit about politics, I do
not believe in politics. I care only of my friends, my family,
and that's itfuck everybody else. Life's too short to worry about
such utopian things!!
What is the aim of Slogun? Is a way to discharge your violence or do you consider him as a rifle (slo-gun), in short a weapon to beat to whom the urban violence in New York listens to yourself?
***Well, I honestly cannot say what the
aim is of slogun. I just have all these issues here inside me,
and I get them out, especially in live performances!! I really
do not care about many people. Life is way to short for me to
lose sleep over people I do not know. You know? I guess if there
is an aim to it all, it is to be brutally honest with yourself,
no matter what. Fuck it. If you cannot do that, then you might
as well just kill yourself. Honesty is everything, no matter what!
Are well-known that the phenomenon of the serial killers is a fundamental element for Slogun. But does thing interest yourself more? The naked and raw homicide or the twisted personality of the murderer?
*** what interests me more than anything else is the "reflection" on our culture. All crime that exists is closely tied to the culture it thrives in. whether it's post world war one germany, the "fee" '60's of America, or the cold, unfeeling 80's of the world, crime, especially serial killings (or stranger murders) rise and fall with the influences of the times. I love it when the masses feel as if the human animal is getting more civilized, which is the furthest thing from the truth.
Remaining in circle "serial murders", what is the role of your web site Circe of Shit? What is there beyond an accurate literary search?
***it's just a site (which I have neglected
for some time now!!) for anyone who needs some info, bio's or
a bibliography for true crime. The main reason I put it together
was because I had a lot of people asking me questions regarding
rare serial killer books. So I figured I'd put a basic site together
with some sort of list. I fanatically collect serial killer books,
and appreciate those who do the same. From there I decided to
do some profiles on some of the more obscure killers, then some
of the ones I find most interestingit was just a nice companion
site for the slogun site.
Recently you have added another web site. This time the matter they are your drawings you can speak to me of this your passion for the art of the drawings?
***well, I have always been interested
in the all-american idea of a "house with the picket fence
and backyard", you know, the great American dream. And early
on I realised this was something I would never have since I never
lived my life like the "normal" people. But deep down
I would love to have a nice simple home with backyard, etc. kind
of a twisted situation for me that I deal with constantly. I was
an architecture student in college originally, as I was always
interested in designing and drawing homes, so it all recently
came together when I began drawing as a form of self therapy,
to calm me down. Lately there have been many fucked up things
in my life that have really tested me. So I decided to just draw
houses, homes, etc, like a child would, with an added touch of
the graffiti writing I did years ago here in new york city. I
am obsessed at the moment with drawing these pieces. I really
don't know where it will go, but I am just drawing to distract
me from everything else going on in my head.
Corll, Kurten, Sodeman, Sutcliffe, Dahmer.. who the most interesting figure of the serials circle?
***for me, guys like Green River, Dean
Corll, Carl Panzram, and all the really obscure figures like Sodeman
and Glattman who for one reason or another never garnered much
attention, even though they were just as vicious and ruthless
as all the others. For some reason I was always really into Dean
Corll. Just an incredible case. And Fred and Rose West. Heather
was a cutie.
Slogun has been more times criticized by a binge of listeners power-electronics as deprived of any musical base, pure free violence. I belonged to this school of thought, but then I have understood that your sonorous proposal is a malignant germ that slowly strongly consumes yourself to hits of carcinogenic sound. Do you want to leave a comment to whom reputes your jobs without neither head nor tail?
** ah, I don't give a shit about what
people think about my work if anyone has seen any of my shows
recently, they can tell you I REALLY DO NOT CARE WHAT OTHERS THINK.
As a matter of fact, I am tired of people who listen to power
electronics, yet if I hit them during a show, or insult their
girlfriends who were stupid enough to come, they get upset with
me, or ask others why I feel it necessary to insult them. Fuck
off. For me, this is purely a physical, confrontational medium.
That is what I enjoy, that is what I want to do. I hate shows
where the audience just stands there, watching in awe like a fucking
radiohead show. This is not a scene for worship.
For me, it's all about the vocals, the noise is just there to accompany the "substance", the "meat". Happily, I have friends who feel the same way, such as bloodyminded, deathpile, etc.
In "How It Ends" I have found a voice more taken care of and less shot of violent vocals. Is a prerogative that reserves to the dimension live?
***that record was not live, as everyone
thinks. It was recorded here at my place like all the other releases.
But yes, I wanted the vocals to be more straightforward and clear,
to reflect the show I did in germany earlier that summer. But
it is in fact a "studio" recording.
On the stage you are accompanied from four people. Also when you compose you use you of collaborators? Or can Slogun be considered it as an one-man band?
***slogun is indeed a one-man band. I
record alone, and write alone. But when I perform live I have
my friends help me. They are shane, sasha and viesturs from noizeguild,
chris from sickness, and whomever is at my show that I consider
friend (Jonathan from deathpile, Mark from Bloodyminded, etc).
the more shows I do, the more people I want to perform with meeventually
I want to do a show where we outnumber the crowd!
Friday 13 June you will play with Brighter Death Now and Proiekt Hat. Does thing wait yourself from this evening?
***I cannot wait for that show. I was
just in Chicago to stay with my friend mark from bloodyminded,
and it was great! I want this show to be explosive. I have some
plans, we'll see what happens. I figure at least ten people will
help me on this one!
Self Abuse, Eibon, Force Majeure, Jinx, Death Factory, Slaughter, Armed and Loaded Because you have always changed label to every releases?
***I love releasing something on different
labels. Why stick with one all the time? I was lucky enough to
have all these different guys ask me to release something, so
why not? I really feel that the power electronics circle is a
small one (especially back then), so to have releases on labels
run by my friends was inevitable.
Your last name is clearly Italian. Does your family have Italian roots? Do you have some contacts with the Bel Paese? If yes, thing thinks of Italy?
***Oh yes I am Italian. Actually, I am
Sicilian! I am first generation American as my parents are from
sicily and came here just before I was born. I was in italy last
year, in Venice, rome, Florence and sicily. I love it there, especially
Lido of Venice, and Erice Sicily, two of the most beautiful places
I have ever seen in my life!!! Besides a few aunts and uncles
from my mothers side who are here, ALL my family is in italy.
What is changed in New York after the attack to the Twin Towers? Somehow this tragedy has changed your attitude with Slogun?
** a lot has changed in new york after
9/11, but to be honest, it's all bullshit. I'd rather not talk
about it all. As for slogun, it hasn't changed a bit, if anything,
it has strengthened because of my infatuation with america's love
affair with violence, and now that something like this has happened
here, America acts as if they suffered something unique!! The
nerve. We can watch tragedy everyday on television, but as soon
as it happens here, we are mortified, what about the rest of the
An inevitable question on the next homicides? (Next releases and live-act)
***The next big thing is the 6-cd box
set on jinx which will comprise my first seven cassette releases.
I also have a few other things coming out, like my side projects:
Incinerator International with Henrik from MZ412/Folkstorm; America
2 with Propergol, and my own side project: "Self:The Mind
and the Matter"
Do you want to add something?
Yeah, life sucks, and hopefully i'll be dead soon, or at least roaming the country in a haze. Thank you and take care
So, how's it going? Anything special to mention out of the ordinary daily routines?
--Well, I guess that the big news is the "History of Violence" 6-cd box set that's coming out soon, my first seven releases all together on six cd's, with a 24 page booklet. Other than that, it's all the same.
What do you do beside Slogun?
--I'm a graphic designer, so I'm always working on stuff like web sites, flyers, etc. But lately I've been going back to drawing a lot. I kind of neglected that for a long time. So I'm trying to draw a little everday, away from my computer.
Where does your interest for seriel killers derive from? Or is it just an easy topic to feature in Power Electronics?
--I know it seems rather convenient to deal with serial killers/true crime in this genre, but in all honesty I was obsessed with serial killers since I was seven or eight years old. I've been fascinated since the Son of Sam was killing around my neighborhood. His last victim still lives on the same street as my parents! I remember the morning after David Berkowitz's last shootings, the girl died and the man lived, (he was the guy from my street) my dad and i were walking to buy the morning paper, and there were all these police around, and I remember the victim's mother crying outside the house. It just amazed me. I was reading everything about what happened. Then shortly afterwards the Hillside Stranglers, John Gacy, then a few years later, Richard Ramirez, and Danny Rolling, there seemed to be a new serial killer every month! Anyway, when i did start thinking about doing something like "Slogun", I knew right from the start that I was going to deal with serial killers, and nothing else.
Of all the featured serial killers, which one do you consider being the most fascinating one? Do you at any state fantasize of killing people yourself?
--I've always been really interested
in Dean Corll, Carl Panzram, Green River (Until recent events),
Jesse Pomeroy, Harvey Glattman. God, there's so many to choose
from. Each one is so different from the rest, you know? So each
story is incredible in it's own right.
As for fantasizing about killing people. Shit, everyday, but not for some stupid "serial killing" reason. I just fucking think so many people do not deserve to live. I'm so tired of all these assholes walking around.
There's a lot of violence present in your lyrics, at least on the mental side. How does this aspect affect your personal life? How about your live performances; are they violent?
--Well, I was asked this once before,
assuming that the material affects my life. But it's actually
the other way around. My life affects my material. Everything
I write about is what's already going through my head. Sure, I
may throw a "serial killer" spin on it, but it's all
stuff I see, feel, or think. The world is an ugly place, and I
see it all the time. I guess you can say I'm a pessimist, so it
comes through in my material.
As for my performances, it depends on the show. I can do a low key show because I may not be in the right mood. But when I am, I guess they can get confrontational. They should be. All power electronics shows should be teetering on the possibility that someone is going to get hurt, whether it's the performer or the audience. This is not a genre that should have any surprises. I'm tired of people going to these shows, and getting upset when an artist gets a little "too violent" (see the recent "Deadly Actions" and Taint). Fuck it, DO NOT GO TO THESE SHOWS IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET HIT!!! It's that easy...
You have been in the noise scene for some time now, how do you see the progression the scene? What influenced you in the first place to start working on harsh elements? What do you want the listener to get out of your powerful material?
--Well, I think that the Power Electronics
genre has pretty much stayed the same since i got into it. It
really cannot go anywhere because of the material covered by the
artists and the actual "sound". It's not going to be
the next "big thing". But for a lot of us, that's exactly
what we want. We didn't start doing this because of some want
I guess I was influenced to work with the harsh stuff because of Mark Solotroff of Bloodyminded/Intrinsic Action. We worked together at a record store for years, and he just kept telling me to start something of my own, since i was already listening to bands like Sutcliffe Jugend, Brighter Death Now, Con-Dom, etc. Actually, if it wasn't for Mark, I would have NEVER started Slogun.
All I want the listener to get out of my stuff is whatever naturally comes into their head. I do not want someone to feel as if the "have to" see or hear something. It's all up to them. For me, the reason I do this stuff is because I love to deal with things that show people how horrible and nasty we humans really are. We are not these wonderful, loving creatures we like to think we are. We are all full of shit, and we can be very vicious and selfish.
What do you think is the best part of playing live? Is there by any chance a possibility to see Slogun perform in Finland one day?
--The best part of playing live is the
release of energy I get. Seriously, it is amazing to scream and
yell and hit and grab, telling the audience what you think. I
improvise a lot in my live show, and it's just like an open forum
for me to spew all my bullshit to those there, watching me. After
a show I feel fantastic, totally relieved!
I'd love to play finland someday! I would just like to see the country personally, even if I do not get to play. It can happen in the near future.
Is 'porn lords' some sort of a graffitti designer or just a name for a friend providing you photo material?
--"Porn Lords" is in reference
to a group of us here in New York city who hung out together,
got drunk together, and hit porno shops together. We even had
a paintball team called the Porn Lords. Sadly, as life goes on,
you lose touch with people here and there, so we rarely see each
other anymore. By the way, we came upon that name one night when
i performed with Bloodyminded (Mark Solotroff) in 1996, and we
were drinking afterwards, and were just screaming out "Porn
Lords, on the move, making their way...", the lyrics to Mark's
song of the same name. Great stuff.
As for the graffiti part, that was me doing all of it. I wrote graffiti here in NYC for years around 20 years ago, and still have close ties to that culture. It's actually the most fun I ever had in my life, going out and "bombing".
Whose blood is splashed in the package of 'Written In Blood' and what is the source of the picture under the inserts (tied-up girl with chopped head)?
-- I honestly do not know who's blood that is. It is either Stephane from Nuit et Brouillard, or Jerome from Propergol. That's just my guess though, I'm not 100% sure. The guys I just mentioned got most of the artwork together. They did a great job of packagaging with that release! I was very happy!
Does your ordinary day consist of pure electronic music or does it involve a lot of other music as well? What kind of other music do you listen to in that case?
-Actually, I don't really listen to much harsh electronics. I actually still listen to a lot of old punk stuff like Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Black Flag, etc. That's my background really. But I listen to everything. All types of music. If i do listen to noise, it'll be Grunt, Propergol, Soldnergeist, Strict, Anenzephalia, Brighter Death Now, Control, etc. But I can also listen to N.W.A., Virgin Prunes, Bo Diddley, or Death In June. I listen to it all.
Do you have any favourite artists in the noise scene? Do you know any Finnish ones?
--Well, I mentioned some earlier, but here goes: Grunt, Propergol, Strict, Brighter Death Now, Con-Dom, Control, Anenzephalia, Dagda Mor, Deathpile, Taint, Bloodyminded, Iugula Thor, but there are more. Besides Grunt, all I know is from the compilation CD of Finnish artists, which was really good.
Is there in America a particular noise scene concentrated in a certain area, like the case with Florida death metal in the beginning of the '90's?
--In america there really is no noise scene. It is scattered all over the place, little pockets here and there. Unlike the death metal scene in florida, or the hardcore scene in New York, the noise scene does not have a central focal point here in the states. Actually, the music scene in general sucks here. A couple of good bands like The Liars, or Interpol.
Does anyone assist on any of your works? Would you have other collaborators in Slogun?
--Well, when i record material for a release, it's just me. I do all of the material alone at home. But when i play out live, I am assisted by Sasha and Shane of Noizeguild. They perform with me everywhere. I guess Slogun would always be just me, but I did collaborate with Henrik from Folkstorm/MZ412 on our "Incinerator International" project, and am soon working with one of my favorite acts, Jerome from Propergol on "America 2".
As reading the lyrics of several publications of yours, I've got a picture that you feel comfortable dealing with filth/white trash. I see you positioning yourself among the filth, and on the other hand I see you as an outsider judging the scum like Robert de Niro in 'Taxi Driver'. Do you have interest on sociological matters or are they just good material to feast/chew on?
--Wow, Sociological matters are what drives me. That's the reason I started doing any of this! I have a very BIG MOUTH on sociological topics. Especially American youth culture and our culture of irresponsibility! I was brought up by my strict Italian parents, and they taught me that I wasto be responsible for everything I do. However, in this country, no one wants to take the blame for anything anymore! It makes me sick to my stomach everyday! I wouldn't say I position myself with the trash, but I do feel that I am just like anybody else, nothing special, and I cannot stand it that we try to make EVERYONE "special", like we have to make everyone think they are more than they are! Some people were just made to pick up garbage! You Know? Not everyone was supposed to be "special" in life! I don't like to judge someone for no reason. But I just love to open my mouth when someone opens theirs! I love debating someone's opinions if they let me know what they are. I'm tired of living in this ultra liberal, pansy assed, demasculated culture of mine. We allow too many people to cry their way to whatever they want, we are afraid to point out anyone's shortcomings, and it's pathetic.
What's the slogan of SLOGUN?
--Don't really have one, but "Fuck the World" is a good start, or even "Therapy Through Violence".
Thanks for your time and patience, and for the end; anything you wish to channel to the readers?
--This is for all those people who "listen"
to Power Electronics, yet seem to be surprised or shocked by violence
during a show. GET OFF OF IT!!! DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS STUFF, OR
ATTEND A POWER ELECTRONICS SHOW, IF VIOLENCE OFFENDS YOU!!! In
this genre, NOTHING should shock you!!! Recent events at a recent
festival makes me feel that people just do not get it. This is
a very violent, extreme genre, and I would think that by the time
you got to this point, to listen to this stuff, you've heard or
seen it all. Nothing should upset you! Now, you may not agree
with what the performer says, but to be shocked and offended.
Give me a break! And another thing. DO NOT JUDGE A PERFORMER BY
HIS PERFORMANCE! Just because the artist is doing something extreme,
it doesn't mean he's out there fucking chickens or skinning young
boys! Get to know the artist before saying shit about them on
those dumb news groups!!!
And with that, all the best to you, and thanks to those who give a shit!
>At the beginning please give us some historical facts about SLOGUN!
Well, I started Slogun back in the beginning of 1996 after working with Intrinsic Action for a spell. That got me to thinking about putting my own project out, concentrating on my favorite topic, serial killers.
>Is there a relation between the project title SLOGUN and the SPK track from the album "Auto Da Fe"?
Absolutely! "Slogun" the SPK song is one of my favorite tracks of all time! One of the greatest industrial tracks recorded in my opinion! The sound, the lyrics, and to think it was done over 20 years ago! Incredible.
>The main topics of SLOGUN are serial murder, violence and crime. Why you are interested in those subject matters?
I've always been interested in true crime, since I was a kid. But I guess I really got into it all as a teenager, like most others. However, instead of it passing as some sort of fad, I really began to study them and I just got immersed in the whole topic. That was over ten years ago and I've been reading and studying ever since.
>You are from Bensonhurst/Brooklyn. How about the whole situation at home?
Well, Bensonhurst sure has it's history, the Mafia, gangs, etc, but growing up, I guess it was like any other kid growing up here in the neighborhood. I had my fights, my problems, and good friends, some of which are now dead or in prison. I guess you can say that it's the same story as anywhere else, but different situations. A bunch of friends ended up going down the wrong path, and sadly I've seen a number of them buried. Young guys too. It's a shame, but I understand why it all happened. I decided to concentrate on some things while others decided to "fuck everything". We were bored, so we fought, we were pissed, so we fought, I couldn't keep doing that after a while, so I left that whole scene and concentrated on art, music, etc. Probably saved my life really.
>In which way do you think about the death penalty in your country?
I LOVE the death penalty! I am for it and I would gladly take the job as executioner! I have no patience for people who harm others for their own personal gain or satisfaction. And yes, this does also apply to serial killers! Although I read about them and collect true crime literature, I would gladly be the one to execute them! Fuck 'em! I feel that they should expand the crimes eligible for the death penalty not only to those who commit first degree murder, but we should consider executing any repeat criminal. If there is someone who is a life-long criminal, kill him. They've done nothing to better themselves, and they harm others, so kill him. They wasted their lives anyway, so who's going to miss them? Their pathetic families who failed with them anyway. Please! They lost the chance to save them years ago, so fuck them all.
>Please explain us the phrase "Therapy Throu Violence"!
Well, it is from the SPK song "Slogun", and it's so perfect! I guess I've had my own sort of therapy through violence growing up, getting into fights with those that deserved it! (I've never attacked anyone for no reason! I have to be provoked) What's better to relieve the everyday problems we're all having than to beat the crap out of some low life who's hurt an innocent person? Needless to say, I'm also for vigilantiism, however, it's sad that most people who'd like to go after criminals themselves lose sight of what they're doing quickly, and they soon become criminals themselves.
>Do you write the lyrics before or after creating the sound?
Usually I'll just get into a writing groove where I write until I run out of ideas. I don't write for the release. Sometimes I'll write over 20 tracks in a sitting, and save some for the next release. The sounds come later when I decide to start recording, regardless of the lyrics.
>In which tradition you put into order the sound of SLOGUN?
I guess if you had to, of course it's power electronics! That I cannot deny, it's what I wanted to produce from the start, and it's where I've been all along. I'd say it's more along the line of a Sutcliffe Jugend than Whitehouse. I'm not really a fan of Whitehouse actually, never was. Sure, I expect the readers right now to be laughing at me for saying so, but it's true, I have never tried to mimic the Whitehouse sound, or even their topics.
>Which equipment do you use for recordings?
I have a bunch of old analog keyboards, like Moogs, Arps, and Rolands. I also heavily rely on my collexction of guitar pedals for effects, like distortion, boost, meatbox, grider, etc. I have a multi-track at home, as well as a DAT recorder and other recording stuff.
>How does your social surrounding area accept your extreme sounds?
Well, my social surrounding are comfortable with it. My girlfriend, whom I live with, knew what I was about before we ever lived together, and when I lived at home with my family, well, they were used to a lot worse with me, so that wasn't a problem. It's funny, but even others who find out what I do, like at work, become interested in it, in one way or another. Luckily, I tend to surround myself with open-minded people, so the reaction is always positive.
>Describe a torture for your most hated enemy!
Well, there are endless possibilities, I guess the best would be to kill their family in front of them as they watch helplessly, then torture and kill them as well, but I don't know what a person would have to do to warrant that, now do I?
>How could I imagine a SLOGUN performance? Are there any plans to present SLOGUN live?
I guess there wouldn't be that much as far as visuals in a Slogun show. I haven't performed live yet, but I have confirmed for my first show to be in France for the Deadly Actions festival put on by the Nuit Et Brouillard people in Lille. That will be on November 3 & 4. Should be fun. I have some ideas, like surrounding the stage in "crime scene" tape, who knows, we'll see.
>You have made various cassettes, vinyls and compact discs. What is your favourite format?
Of course, my favorite is CD, just for the conveinience of it all. As a record collector, it's nice to have LP's and 7"s, but the CD is just so easy to deal with, and you can still get nice with the packaging.
>I read about an acetate LP ("Kill To Forget") on JINX RECORDS. In which occasion you release this expensive item? Do you plan a re-release to make the stuff available for other interested persons?
Actually, it wasn't my idea to do the limited edition LP. That was Jeffrey at Jinx, and it was brilliant! He did a fantastic job! He just wanted to do something special for his first release, and I was more than happy to oblige. I have to admit, I was extremly surprised that it sold out so quickly! But the material was later released in CD form, with extra material, so no one was left out.
>The re-release of "The Pleasures Of Death" was done by CMI-sidelabel DEATH FACTORY. Are they your best "partners in crime" for future?
I like to think so. Roger at CMI is releasing another re-release CD of mine, "Glory of Murder" shortly, and we did have plans a while back to produce at least one more cd, of original material later on. As for being partners in crime, well, as much as we can be living so far apart! Brighter Death Now is perhaps my favorite artist at the moment, and Roger's a really nice guy, so I was happy to work with him.
>Can we expect re-releases of other sold out cassettes?
Oh yes! My big plan is to re-release my first five cassette releases, along with some of the early 7"s as a five cd box set. It will probably be out in 2001, I want to take my time with it, but they have to be re-released since a lot of people keep asking me for copies.
>When you look back on your works, which one do you like best (and why)?
I guess my favorite would have to be "The Pleasures Of Death", only because that was the one that was where I pushed the vocals out into the mix, instead of burying it like I used to. It was the first release that was really powerful.
>Do you see differences between the noise scenes in America and Europe? Do you like Japanese noise projects too?
Oh yes, the European Noise scene is probably the most important scene, with bands like Genocide Organ, Con-Dom, Grey Wolves, etc. However, they tend to be more political, where as the American guys, like Taint, Deathpile, Bloodyminded, and myself are much more violent, more into crime and the dark side if life, which is a perfect reflection of where we live. For me, American true crime is the purest form of the genre, because I know the guys doing it, and we do live our lives accordingly, we surround ourselves with the stuff we talk about, and although Mark, Keith, and Jonathan (from the bands mentioned above) are really nice people who I get along with very much, they'd destroy you in a second if they had to. As for the Japanese stuff, I can't say that I'm a big fan. I do understand the cultural significance of what they're doing, but I just don't "get into it." It's not for me.
>Could you tell us the last books you have read. What are your favourite LPs/CDs in last months?
Well, this is where I guess you all will laugh yourselves to sleep! My tastes are everywhere. As for music, my favorite acts are bands like Dead Can Dance, Dead Kennedy's, Crass, Joy Division, Goa Trance/Techno, SPK, Brighter Death Now, Soldnergeist, Cocteau Twins, there are so many things I listen to, depends on my mood. As for books, besides the true crime material I'm always reading, and Stephen King books for quick entertainment, I recently re-read some Camus, Caleb Carr, and history books. I read as many history books as possible.
>Which concrete plans do you have for future?
Well, who knows!? Really? Probably get old, play golf, and attend as many baseball games as possible before I die. For the near future, I'm working on more Slogun material, I'm doing Web Design/Graphic Design, and I want to begin work on a book that I've been meaning to do on a group of early grafitti writers from the early 1970's that influenced a lot of kids in NYC later on.
Well, to anyone interested, check out my web-site at www.slogun.com, e-mail me with any questions you may have, and fuck everyone! you don't owe anyone anything! Let them come to you! Thanks for reading...
>1.How and why did you start Slogun?
I started Slogun because I wanted to do something where I could combine my interests (art, noise, writing) in one package. I was already very interested in Power Electronics from my work with Intrinsic Action and my good friend Mark Solotroff, that it all seemed perfect to start Slogun.
>2.Your music/noise is really violent. Is that reflection of your daily life/surroundings or just violent fantasy?
I guess you can say that it's a combination of both actually. I grew up in a somewhat violent area, and all the energy that I used to put into fighting just went into creating chaotic noise. This worked well with my intense interest in the True Crime genre, so everything meshed together I guess. I can't say I have a real "violent fantasy-life" actually. I think to have a fantasy life filled with violence is quite sad to tell you the truth. I'm always trying to get away from violence, so I certainly would not be fantasizing about it.
>3.You are living in NY. Do you think it gives you/your music some effects?
Living in New York is not as bad as people make it out to be. It is the safest "big" city in the country! It's true! But seeing certain things over and over can have an influence. It was really my particular area of Brooklyn that formed my thoughts going into Slogun. Not really the NYC aura that people think exists.
>4.I have read your interview few years ago and you said
you wont play live, because serial killers wont
>appear in public. But now you do some live perfomances. What makes this change?
I did in fact say that I wouldn't play live, but when Stephane and Sylvie from Nuit et Brouillard offered to fly me out to France to do the Deadly Actions festival with Genocide Organ and Ex Order, I couldn't pass it up! When would I ever get the chance to do this again!? So after thinking about it for a while, I decided to go, and I am so glad I did. Besides, Mark from Bloodyminded told me I'd be a fool not to go, and I agreed! I met a lot of nice people, and had a real good time. After that festival, I decided it wouldn't be too bad to do a show every once in a while! So now expect an occasional Slogun performance now and then.
>5.You seem to enjoy Deadly Actions. Maybe you have some interesting/funny stories?
Well, Lina Doll (Deutsch Nepal) drunk out of his mind, naked in the parking lot was funny, and seeing the all too serious fans was a little funny too! I was trying to make everyone laugh, yet there were some that looked so serious they wouldn't even crack a smile! Some people should really lighten up! I'm a serious person myself, sometimes too serious, but in a situation like that, where we're all meeting each other for the first time, RELAX!!
>6.Serial murder is one of the important subject, ( I think
) of Slogun.Why? And who is the one you are most
Well, I've always been very interested in serial murder. I can't really explain why, but it amazes me when someone destroys their lives by destroying the lives of others! It's incredible to me. The depths to which a serial killer falls, to satisfy a primal need is amazing! Can you imagine how lonely the life of a serial killer must be? And all for the satisfaction of some primal lust!? Amazing. The most interesting of all for me is the Green River Killer from Seattle in the early 1980's. He killed over 40 prostitutes while being intensly hunted himself by the local police, yet he was never caught, and suddenly there was a rash of similar prostitute murders down the coast in San Diego when the Seattle muders stopped...I'd love to think it was him, and that he just stopped one day and lived out the rest of his life. But it probably didn't happen that way. He probably killed himself or was arrested for something else.
>7.Do you have any favorite musicians,writers etc that affects your music,way of thinking and attitude toward life?
Wow! There are so many I respect and that have affected me. Well, I will just list a bunch of people: Dead Kennedys, Crass, Nick Blinko, Brighter Death Now, Intrinsic Action/Bloodyminded, Virgin Prunes, Dead Can Dance, 4AD Label, Joy Division, Velvet Underground, 23 Skidoo, SPK SPK SPK!!, serial killers, 20th Avenue Boys in Brooklyn, Wax Trax, Vaughan Oliver/23 Envelope, Princess Tinymeat, early Current 93, Death In June, Coil, Exploited, Non, Swans, NYC Goth/Industrial clubs (1988-93), NYC subway grafitti, and many more! Hope that helps a little.
>8.Cd "Kill to forget" is a reissue of your LP.
What does it like? Ltd 100 or so? No one around me knows
>about this LP.
The LP was a very limited acetate (33 copies), that was incredible as far as packaging goes! Jeffrey at Jinx did an amazing job! It was the same material as the cd, in a bound hardcover case (like Genocide Organs "Remember") with an original piece of my collage artwork. It really came out nice and I wish many more could have gotten one, but it was so expensive to make!
>9.Any future plans?
Well, I have a few more releases coming out, and my web site is still up there for all to see (www.slogun.com). As for the future of Slogun, who knows? I may stop it soon, or I may stop it in a year or so. Too early to tell!
>10.Thank you for answering long questions.Any final words?
Final words...hmmm...well, anyone who wants more info on my shit can go to my site, and you can also link up to my other site "Circle of Shit True Crime Pages" for serial killer profiles...thanks to you for the interview..f.t.w.
>1. Could you explain how SLOGUN got started?
I started out in a band called INTRINSIC ACTION, with a good friend of mine who now does BLOODYMINDED. After a while he convinced me to try something on my own. So, in February of 1996, I began recording my first release, "Sacrifice Unto Me".
>2. What kind of emotions do you expect the listener to have listening to your music? What is the listener supposed to understand in your music?
I just want the listener to have an open mind, and to try and feel the chaos and pain of death. I want them to feel surrounded, almost trapped, as the noise and vocals envelope them. In a sense, I want them to relax, and just accept what's coming out of their sound systems.
>3. If you could visualize your music, what would it be?
I guess it would be a frozen picture at the moment of a terrible explosion in a crowded industrial factory. Lots of flesh, metal, and blood everywhere. Just chaos, confusion, and terror.
>4. What exactly is so interesting with serial killers?
What I find so interesting about these people is their reflection on society. If you study these killers individually, without "dismissing" them as monsters, you will find that they are the product of their surroundings, whether it is family oriented, or the community they grew up in. These are not people who grew up thinking "I want to be a serial killer when I grow up." They slowly evolved through personal hell, and without even realizing it, became what everyone terms a "Serial Killer". People should not ignore the deep meaning of a killer like this. It seems that society is so concerned with thrying to understand addicts, whores, and petty thieves, yet they do not want to understand these multiple murderers because of some false sense of morality. It's just silly.
>5. What do you think of serial killers portrayed in movies and T.V.?
More often than not, it's just ridiculous! I mean, a movie like "Copycat", of "Kiss the Girls", it's just laughable. However, there are a few good portrayals, like "Buffalo Bill" in "Silence of the Lambs", or the main character in "Rampage". It's a twisted contradiction with these movie-makers. They don't want to "like" the true make-up of a real killer, again, for some stupid sense of morality, but they'll try to clean it up a little so they can do a movie on a topic they feel is "worthy" of their effort. It doesn't make sense. They're not trying to inform the viewers, they're just trying to make a quick buck.
>6. You mentioned in another interview that the serial killers that don't get caught are the more interesting. Do you think you would get caught?
I wouldn't answer that. As much as I read about these people, and am fascinated by them, I still DO NOT fantasize about being one. I'd be the first one to say that after studying one of them, and learning all we could, then we should just kill them. Forget prison, forget trying to "rehabilitate" them for a world that they'll never see again. So for me to try and put myself in their world, I just can't do it. Although, I probably do have an "edge" since I've read up on everyone.
>7. What would be your victim of choice?
The victim of my choice, in regards to victims of serial killers, NOT MYSELF, are nasty-ass crac whores. I am just so sick of these empty-headed, zombie-like shelss that walk around, doing nothing but taking up space. Living in NYC just makes you really feel sick of these mutants. I personally HATE people that waste their lives on "junk", then have to resort to crime to get more junk. What a waste of a life! So when I hear of someone targeting these "non-people", I just have to laugh, since suddenly, everybody else, who feels the way I do, are shocked and dismayed at the "horror". PLEASE! They don't care about the victims when they're alive, so why do they care about them now? Fucking hypocrites!
>8. What kind of knowledge do you have on serial killers? Are you THE encyclopedia?
I would never say that I'm the encyclopedia! There are a lot of people that know so much on the topic. Sure, I know a lot. But so do other P.E. guys like Mark Solotroff of Bloodyminded, Keith from TAINT, and Jeremy from STRICT. We just collect the literature, and read every bit of it. We share the same fascination.
Personally, I'm the type of person who wants to know as much as possible on what interests me, such as true crime, baseball, and grafitti to name a few.
>9. What is the most terrifying side of violence?
The most terrifying side of violence would have to be the randomness. Put aside "familiar" crime, or crime that is committed by a familiar face. There is a lot of crime out there that is totally random. You can never plan for it. Many innocent people have their lives shattered because of some low-life who decided to do what he/she did at that moment. Muggings, rapes, murders, it's all a lottery of sorts. That, to me, is terrifying!
>10. How much of an impact has your environment had on your personality and your music?
Probably the biggest impact on my personality is where I grew up. I'm from a part of Brooklyn, New York called Bensonhurst. Pretty much a nice, Italian, middle-class neighborhood with a massive underworld of violence. There is a huge mafia presence, as well as a gang-oriented sense of being. Growing up there, my friends and I were always fighting some other kids, and more often than not, we were even fighting ourselves. Violence was always a part of our lives. Funny thing is, we all eventualy grew up, calmed down, did what we had to do, but as I run into a lot of these guys now, we all still have this violent side that never goes away. It will always be with us.
>11. Is violence in everyone? Are some peole just hiding it better than others? Do people just release it differently?
Oh sure! In my opinion everyone has a violent side. Some just do not deal with it, others do. It's all a matter of perception. Some like to percieve violence as childish, or brutish, while others like to think, or in my opinion KNOW, that violence is a part of nature. It is absolutely natural to have this violent side. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as you use it fairly and intelligently. If someone fucks with you, and you are innocent, go for it. Kick the shit out of them to show them that it will not be tolerated. But if you go around, picking on people for the fun of it, then you deserve what you get in return.
>12. I think your music is very "urban". How would SLOGUN sound if you were from Upstate NY?
Who knows!? I just could not relate to it. It would probably be just as noisy, but the vocals, and of course the lyrics would be totally different. It's all a matter of experiences.
>13. What is your ultimate goal with SLOGUN?
I don't have any. I just want to do this as long as I find it entertaining. Then, when it's not, I'll stop. That simple. No plans, no expectations.
>14. What do you think about gun control? Is it really a solution?
Of course not! That's like blaming the weapon instead of the perpetrator. Absolutley laughable!
>15. What are the next projects?
Well, I have a couple of more CD's on the Death factory label, as well as CD's on the Jinx label. There will also be a 7" on Self Abuse, as well as a full-length "Dark-Ambient" LP called "Self" on their future side label, Terminal Ward. This is my first, and probably last attempt at ambient stuff. These are all done, and ready to come out.
>16. Anymore comments?
The usual. Hail the Porn Lords! And F.T.W. Oh Yeah, GO YANKS!
>1. The name SLOGUN comes from a track by SPK. For those who may not be familiar with this, please give a little information about it.
When I fist heard this track, (from their 1978 LP AUTO DA FE) it blew me away! It was as if it was strangling me! It's so fast and aggressive. And with lyrics like, "Kill Kill Kill for innerpeace," I just felt it was the perfect piece about murder, and all the socio- and psychological aspects as well. For those not familiar, this was a piece released way back in 1978!! So ahead of their time! Now he's "Mr. Hollywood" doing soundtracks for the biggest movies around! Go figure.
>2. There are recurring themes of death and murder in SLOGUN. What aesthetics do you try to purvey, as far as the actual sounds are concerned?
I try to convey this frantic, rolling death. A setting of chaos at the moment of truth. All your senses are working out of control, everything is flashing before you. Just intense confusion and fear. The smell of sweat, the ringing in your ears, the darting vision. Everything coming together and leaving you scared, and yet excited to see what's next.
>3. The first time I heard the track, "This is it-right here" it just made my entire body go numb. There is something extremely terrifying and paranoid about it, but at the same time there's a subliminal sort of energy happening that brings "comfort" at the same time. One analogy I come up with is the feeling of shock/disbelief of witnessing the most horrid thing you could imagine, but by the trauma of it you are drawn to a state of mental pacification-which of course is just an illusion. What is your own personal interpretation of this piece?
It was just an interpretation of a killer in his own little pathetic world, talking to himself. Trying to justify what he was doing and why. In a sense he was talking about the victim in front of him, and saying, "Look at it. How can I NOT kill this?", to the voices in his head. This is about someone who cannot seperate beauty and death. I'm happy to see that you did get the aura of calm! That's the moment when the victim finally stops fighting. It's a strange phenomena that happens in most cases, where the victim actually comes to grip with what is happening, and almost gives in to the killer.
>4. "Listen-Never" carries a much less subdued aesthetic, and is far more honestly brutal. While there is an element violence in all of your tracks, the feeling in this one is possibly the most abrupt and deranged. Do you associate the mood of "Listen-Never" to be the regression of a killer from a state of (relative) control to a complete lack of? Would you agree that this is the most psychotic track on the album? If not, what is?
"Listen-Never" was my idea of the classic schizophrenic killer. Besides the obvious battles with the authorities who are trying to apprehend him, he has this continuous internal battle with himself. He does realize what he's doing, at times, but there are these other voices in his head that he cannot ignore, that are telling him to "listen". There's this struggle in his mind to speak up. Sometimes the "sane" side is loudest, but too often than not, it's the other side that makes the most "noise". It can be about that moment of regression, however, if you agree that this is something that happens not once, but many times in the life of a serial killer. For me, the most "psychotic" track is "Straight to your heart." This is a piece about the murder of innocent people at the hands of a killer who is envious of a famalies' good fortune. The setting I had in mind was someone who is acquainted with this nice, suburban family with beautiful children and proud parents, and it all gets destroyed by a man who wants to possess this as his own. Of course, the only way to do this in his mind is to "take away" thses children, and to "have them forever".
>5. "The Collector" is about killing prostitutes and drug addicts. Do you think certain types of serial killers are less-shunned than others? It seems like a guy who kills two children will get his face plastered on every newspaper in the country but a guy who slays 40 crack bitches will get no more than a small article. Do you have any comments?
Without a doubt, serial killers who prey upon the "trash" of our society are much less talked about than guys like Bundy, or Ramirez. It's one of the main reasons I became interested in the topic of True Crime. It's stunning how the masses do not realize how hypocritical they are when they react to certain crimes. First of all, it is plain to see how they put a value system according to your position in life. A crack whore, or homosexual, is something they want to be sheltered from, so they don't care as much when they're getting wiped out. HOWEVER, morally, they must put on this mask of shock, since they have to "look good" in front of peers. Hypocrites. The never cared for these victims when they were alive, and they don't care now. Personaly, I laugh whe I hear whores or crack-heads are getting killed. What do I care? They were wastes when they were alive, so fuck'em.
>6. Does your extremely misanthropic side exist only n the form of SLOGUN, or has it carried over into your everyday life more and more? Do you find power-electronics to be a means of therapy or is it pouring gas in the fire? Do you ever think one day you're going to snap and mow down a dozen people with a chainsaw?
SLOGUN is actually a product of my personality. However, if you met me, I'm quite personable. I generally like people. That's why I hate them. Make sense? Time and time again I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but they always prove that they're shit. People are so pathetic it makes me sick! I must admit, recording all of this stuff is quite theraputic. Feels good. In all honesty, I don't know if there is a correlation, but I haven't gotten into nearly the amount of trouble since I started recording in '96. So, I guess you can say it calms me a bit.
>7. Speaking of chainsaws, I was thinking one day about "chainsaw suicide". The sensation of feeling a sharp, motorized piece of steel ripping apart your insides must put you into shock almost instantly. Do you imagine there would be any real pain in doing this? Do you think death would be instant?
I honestly don't know. Guess there really isn't anyway to find out huh? But I would guess there is a split second of severe pain, but there wouldn't be enough time for the brain to process the information, since you're now dead.
>8. Does power electronics exist as a facet of extreme counterculture strictly as a form of music, or is it just a small part of a much larger spectrum? What books or films do you enjoy that are related to serial murderers or death?
I think power electronics is just a part of a very visible subculture of REALISM! Granted, it's more severe than most, but it does, in my opinion, go hand in hand with film, writing, and art. It's even making it's way into the mainstream. I don't think examples are needed here, it's all over the place, even though we live in this pathetic politically correct society that tries to sugarcoat everything! It seems to me that there are more and more people who want to deal with things on a much more honest level. Enough with the bullshit! Enough with the fake "Hollywood-style" life that suburban America tries to force-feed us! Most people live a hard, strenuous life, and we don't want to be patronized! As for books or movies, well, obviously the whole true crime genre of books is what influences me the most! I fanatically collect any true crime literature. I was never big on movies, although I appreciate "Henry" or "Rampage". There may be a few others of course, but adaptations of Non-Fiction always annoys me. There's always too much room for interpretation there, and it's always crap.
>9. What have you to say about Cold Meat Industry? How did you get in contact with them, and how well have they distributed your works?
I like Cold Meat Indusrty very much! I'm not too much into all that neo-folk stuff, too pansy for me. All these deep men and women yearning for the "fatherland" or times of yore...yawn. Get over it! I wish I was 5 again, but it ain't happening! It's done, move on. But basically, I love the Death Factory stuff: Tombstone, Valefor, and Sutcliffe Jugend. But first and foremost, Brighter Death Now is UNREAL!!! Roger Karmanik is absolutley brilliant with BDN. It's one of the few acts I'll keep long after I get rid of everything else. They've done a great job distributing my work. A lot of it has to do with the reputation of the label. Let's be real. But even after the intitial shock of hearing my stuff, they came around. I hope! Getting in contact with him was easy since I was already a customer for a while. Again, there was a time where I was crazy about the label, so I'd buy stuff left and right. Through this time we got to know each other, and out of courtesy, I sent Roger a release, which he liked. The rest just followed.
>10. I find SLOGUN on the same level as ATRAX MORGUE. What is your opinion of them?
Marco Corbelli is a friend of mine, and he's done so much with his label, SLAUGHTER. I do enjoy Atrax Morgue, and I'm glad to see more cd's of his work. "Woundfucker" is amazing! And the "Dead Bag" collection of his first seven releases is a favorite of mine. Now if he'd use more vocals!! Being compared to him is nothing but a compliment! However, I really don't see too much of a similarity there. But thanks!
>1. Greetings John, and welcome to RITUAL. Any particularly important facts in the SLOGUN history you'd like to make us aware of ?
Well, I'm already coming up on five years of Slogun, which surprises the shit out of me...It was really all a test of boredom actually... I had nothing else to do at the time, and Mark from Bloodyminded suggested I try my own project, and here I am...
>2. Your records are among the most violent and disturbing produced nowadays. Why so much ANGER in what you do ? Are you seeking a sort of catharsis through what you play or are you just witnessing violence and the negative aspects of reality ?
It's not so much "anger" as
much as it's frustration. I am so sick and tired of so many things.
I'm tired of political correctness. I'm tired of MTV culture.
I'm tired of irresponsible people...the list goes on and on. It
all comes out when I work on new material and I relate it to what's
bouncing around in my head.
As for some sort of catharsis, I guess you can say I've already gone through one, and this is how I deal with it. The violence I witness or witnessed, as well as the negative aspects of reality are all part of it. Frustration, anger, fear, exhaustion, apprehension: it's all a part of what I feel comfortable with in my work.
If nothing else, what I get out of the music I do is a release.
>3. Do you think that rage and primordial impulses could be a good companion for a musician or maybe a calm approach is more helpful in better focusing ideas and concepts ?
I feel that it's all important! If you can't tap into all your emotions when you're working, what's the point? Rage is important, but so is everything else. There can be rage while still focusing on a particular idea. I guess it's all up to the individual isn't it?
>4. Murder and more in general death seem to be very popular themes among the creators of harsh electronics. Is there a particular reason for this ? Don't you think that this could lead to a certain kind of saturation and to a sort of "cliché of violence" ?
Now, think about it! "Harsh Electronics"-What
else is it going to deal with?! If someone wants to deal with
beautiful love, they're not going to do any harsh stuff.
Anyway, there is in no fucking way a "cliche of violence". Anyone who listens to this type of stuff (i.e.: noise), and says such a thing is someone who never really experienced violence first hand, and they should go listen to something else. I've seen a lot of people dismiss violent artists as "typical". BULLSHIT! Violence is everywhere, and if they don't want to see it, that's their problem. What the fuck are you supposed to do noise (P.E.) about, "the good things in life"?
I don't want to talk for others here, but it isn't a coincidence that the guys that focus on violence (Deathpile, Bloodyminded, Taint, Strict, etc) have witnessed it all firsthand. Hey saturation? That will only happen when people get bored of violence, and that's not going to happen as long as everyone just relates to it in their own unique way. We all have a story to tell.
>5. Your favourite musicians (past & present) ?
Joy Division, Dead Kennedys, Dead Can Dance, Virgin Prunes, older 4AD artists, Brighter Death Now, Velvet Underground, Death In June/C93, Suicide, Crass, Crispy Ambulance, Rudimentary Peni, Black Flag, Cocteau Twins, old Wax Trax, Coil, Birthday Party, Big Black, Mass/Rema Rema, Gary Numan...the list goes on and on...
>6. We all know you like releasing ultra-limited editions of your works. What's your opinion about the extremely high quotations of certain industrial records & about the growing "collecting" madness that's possessing industrial freaks ?
Hey, as long as the demand is there,
why not? As far as the "limited editions"...well, I
think it's safe to say that there's only so much you can make
when you consider the cost. We are still doing these releases
with our own money. When you do a release with nice packaging,
how much money do we all have to lay out? And if you throw in
actual art, it's also tedious to make 500 or more of an item!
Imagine 500 copies of my "Kill to Forget" acetate! it
would have taken forever to finish those.
As for the collectors collecting them, well, as a former record junkie, I can always appreciate that! It's the thrill of the hunt for that elusive record! It's the completist in all of us!
>7. Your relationship with TECHNOLOGY ? Could the equation: more technology = less creativity be true, and could a musician become a slave of machines ?
Oh that's all bullshit! No matter what the devices, creativity will always be there. It's all a matter of what the artist wants to do with what they have in front of them, whether it's high technology, or a stick! Musicians are a slave to their minds, it's up to them to relate the story with whatever they see fit.
>8. Your opinion about MP3, free diffusion of records, cd-dubbing and the other "copyright-destroying" activities that are arising so many doubts and troubles in the music world ? Are they helpful or harmful for the musicians ?
I don't give a shit about MP3's one way or the other. They're helpful and convenient, that's about my whole opinion of it. I don't think it's stealing when people trade, it's been going on for years (cd-r, cassettes)...for the first time in recording history, common people can control the distribution of music, and that scares the record labels...well, fuck them all! I think MP#'s can only help a musician.
>9. What about live performances ? Is it easy for you to bring your music on stage ?
Yeah, it's pretty easy...jeez, I can
do a SLOGUN show with a walkman, two effects pedals, and a microphone!
how easy can it get!? I don't even memorize my lyrics, I just
go up on stage and think of something and take it from there.
>1. First of all I'd like to ask about the history of SLOGUN. When, and how, was the band started?
I formed SLOGUN in February of 1996 after working with INTRINSIC ACTION for a little while. I liked the ideas of Power Electronics, and I wanted to start my own project, concentrating on a specific topic (True Crime) because of it's implications on society in the late 20th century, particularly in the United States.
>2. Many people call you the most "dark and dirty" ambient band in the world. Do you really repute yourself as one of the darkest bands in the world?
I wouldn't say I'm dark. I'd like to think I'm one of the most "in your face" bands in the world. I want everything to be out in the open. No mysterious angles, just stark, sheer chaos in every piece I come up with. Now, BRIGHTER DEATH NOW, he can be dark!
>3. How did you come up with playing such music? If it can even be called "music"! Does it reflect your view of the world?
It just seemed to me that this type of "noise" was the purest, most honest type of "music" around. It sounds silly, but when I listen to BLOODYMINDED or DEATHPILE, I'm hit with nothing but the truth about an opinion or outlook. It also reflects the environment of the person conveying the message. That's why I think it's interesting to listen to acts from Europe, and then compare the to American acts. There is a clear indication of where they are from. Of course the stuff I do reflects my outlok on the world around me. Sometimes people ask me if the music I do reflects my life. It's funny, because they don't realize that the only reason I get the musical ideas I get is because that's the way my life IS! The music is a product of my life, not the other way around.
>4. I would like you to talk a ittle more about your latest release, "The Pleasures Of Death". First of all, how do you explain your style, and where do you get that sound? And please explain the term "True Crime Electronics".
Basically, I guess my style would be heavy electronics with an urban (NYC) angle thrown in. The noises I develop come from the same sources as other P.E. bands (keyboards, pedals, etc.) but it's the writing and vocal style that gives me a sound that can be identified with "SLOGUN". There really is no "secret" to my sound, as other bands can sure as hell tell you. It's quite easy. And if anyone tells you otherwise they're lying through their teeth! "True Crime Electronics" is just what it sounds like. I only deal with True Crime, and I wanted to make this clear to everyone. I don't care about S&M, politics, and especially deeply religious issues! Serial Kilers are an amazement to me, and will always be the focus of my work.
>5. Are you absolutely satisfied with "The Pleasures Of Death"?
I'm very satisfied with the way it came out! Granted, since then I've made my vocal style even harsher, but I ike this release a lot, and it marked a good turning point where I abandoned the "spacier" noise sound and went more towards the heavy, abrasive sound of today.
>6. I see you have a pretty long discography. Tell me some things about your earlier releases.
Well, my first two releases, "Sacrifice Unto Me", and "The Will To Kill", are non-vocal releases, which was basically just me trying to find my "style". I do like them, but it's painfully obvious that there was a lot going on there. It wasn't until my Slaughter release, "A Breed Apart", that the vocal style came in and I began stripping away the noise. After that I just pumped out releases on Less Than Zero, Murder Release, Labyrinth, Soffitta Macabra, and Self Abuse to name a few. It's been going well, and I thank those guys who let me work with them.
>7. How did you get released by Cold Meat Industry? "Pleasures of Death" was released on their side-label Death Factory. Are you satisfied with this label at all? Is there any competition among the CMI bands?
I got hooked up with Cold Meat because Roger liked my tape, which he later released on CD. I was acquainted with him in the past, since I was a fan of BDN, and CMI itself. I sent him a copy of my work and it went on from there. Now, it seems that I will have three cd's, and maybe even some other stuff associated with him. Cold Meat has always been one of my favorite labels. And Brighter Death Now is one of my all-time favorite projects. He is the "SPK" of today! I don't know anything of the other acts on CMI as far as competition. I'm not really in contact with any of them.
>8. In your bio it states that you have your own label, "Circle of Shit". Why did you use such an extravagent name? And what's been released on the label?
Well, honestly, the name comes from a well-known literary work, and I'm sure the readers are familier with it. For me, it's the perfect name for my opinion of what's around me. I've released SLOGUN stuff, and plan to release other acts in the future. I'm taking that slowly right now since there are so many other things going on in my life.
>9. What other "ambient" bands do you recommend listening to? Who are your favorite bands? And who had the biggest influence on your sound?
Now, first off, I am not "ambient". If you mean power electronics, I strongly recommend Bloodyminded, Deathpile, Strict, Grunt, and Taint for their violent angle. These are my favorites, as well as Iugula Thor, Soldnergeist, and Brighter Death Now.
>10. For the perfect atmosphere, when and where do you recommend listening to your material?
I think you can listen to this anytime! But for me, it's when I'm walking the streets of NYC, in the middle of the day, with thousands walking by me everywhere.
>11. Ca you tell us about the instruments you use to create such hellish sounds?
I have a collection of old analog keyboards, as well as effects pedals, recorders, microphones. The usual crap. Pretty much what everyone else has.
>12. How do common people react to your stuff? I know most of them can't even imagine that such music exists. Are news people, besides music magazines, interested in what you do?
When people are exposed to this, believe it or not, they usually just calmly say that they don't like it, but they understand the message. Really! I've never had a "bad" reaction to it. Sure, they never knew it existed, but they realize that there is so much out there they aren't exposed to. No one is rushing to my door to ask me questions, especially the media! It would only be a bad thing anyway, so I'm happy about that! They're all generally ignorant anyway!
>13. What are your opinions on religion? Do you put yourself in there anywhere? And how do you feel about al this new-found Satanism and Paganism?
I think it's all a matter of choice. Me? I don't have any beliefs. I don't look down on any of it, but I think it's a farce. I don't waste my time with religion unless it directly effected someone to go out and kill. That's about it.
>14. What is your opinion on Christianity? Does religion have any effect on your music?
I was raised Catholic, but when I got older I stopped that quickly! I honestly don't waste my time with it. Satanism, Paganism, blah blah blah. I just worry about me, my family, my girlfriend, and my friends. Life's too short.
>15. What are your plans for the future? Any new ideas?
Basically, I just want to produce as much as I can before I get too lazy/ old, then I'll just call it a night. My first "dark ambient" LP will be out next year, but it's probably my last. As for Power Electronics, I'll just see what happens as it comes. I may quit tomorrow, I may quit next year, who knows?
>16. What have you heard about the Lithuanian Metal scene?
No idea! I don't care much for the metal scene actually. No offense! Growing up I was always into punk, industrial, and rap.
>17. What was the first metal band you heard? What bands made the biggest impact on you?
The first metal band I heard was probably some mainstream crap off the radio, don't know who though, although Venom made a small impact on me. I must admit that! My main influences are everywhere. Bands like the Virgin Prunes, Crass, T.G., SPK, Current 93, Dead Kennedys. It goes on and on...
1-Please explain the genesis of this project:
Basically, after being in Intrinsic Action for a few shows, helping out my friend Mark Solotroff, I got the bug to do something of my own, incorporating all of my interests into one. After a while I picked up a couple of keyboards and started messing around with sounds and ideas, and it all kind of fell into place really quickly. I always knew what I wanted to concentrate on once I got the ball rolling, so it didn't take long for me to zone in on material. Right from the start I knew I would deal with violence, specifically serial murder, as well as adding a personal touch with the whole Brooklyn/ "Fuck the World" thing.
2-The name Slogun comes from the classic SPK track of the same name. What is the connection for you?
To me, this track is the ultimate, the purest work of art dealing with what the whole Power Electronic idea is about. Just read the lyrics, albeit short. When I first heard "Therapy through Violence" and "kill kill kill for inner peace" it just knocked me on my ass. It's just my opinion, but that song just captured the whole essence of murder. The chaos, the confusion, the aggression, and the reasoning for such action. More than any other piece I've ever heard. If I ever heard that track live, I would have just beat the fuck out of anyone who was near me.
3-Your subject matter seems to revolve exclusively in the realm of serial murder, why is this?
At the risk of sounding like a bullshitter, I honestly have been interested in the subject since as far back as I can remember. When the whole "Son of Sam" went down here in my neighborhood in 1976/1977, I was obsessed. It was like the "boogeyman" coming to life! I was fascinated from the beginning. Berkowitz's last victim lived right around the block from me, and I remember the morning after his last kill, all the police cars and people crying. For an eight year old kid, it was really exciting. As I got older I just read up on all these "monsters" and became interested in the whole topic. Serial murder is the finest example of how false our so-called "civility" is. Society likes to think that they're getting better and better on the whole. However, that is the furthest thing from the truth. We are not getting better and better as a species. We're getting more and more pathetic as we go along. With all this, I just felt that the only topic I could really concentrate on, and really bring out the energy I wanted, was True Crime.
4-Who do you consider the most interesting serial killer and why?
Hands down, the most interesting killer has got to be Green River. I don't care what anyone says, the fucker wiped out about four dozen low-life whores, and got away with it! Whether or not he's alive has nothing to do with it. He was never caught for these murders even though there was a massive task force gunning for him. And he continued to kill in the same area as the police were searching. I like to believe that this guy is still out there, doing the world a favor by "taking out the trash" so to speak. Besides him, I was always into Dean Corll, and Carl Panzram. But it was always the guys that were never caught that got me. Let's face it, that's the name of the game! The Torso iller of Cleveland, the child-killer of Ann Arbour, and currently this whore killer in New Orleans that's responsible for about 30-40! That could be something.
5-Some of your newer material seems to also have a violent sexual aspect to it that is very personal sounding due to your most recent use of up-front vocals. Is this personal fact/fantasy or another manifestation of your serial murder interest?
I'd have to say it's more of the serial killer aspect continued. I just wanted to have a more "in your face" presentation to my material. At first, when I started Slogun, I wasn't concentrating on the vocals as much as I do now. Once I began putting more thought to writing, I didn't want it buried in the mix, almost nullifying the effort. In a sense, I just wanted the vocals to just reach out and grab the listener by the neck. On a personal level, it has more to do with whores than anything else. Whores, like scum-junkies, are wastes of space to me. There is no reason for them. So when I hear of some guy wiping out a bunch of crack whores, I just have to laugh. Especially when the community is repulsed by it all! Come on, who are we kidding?! These people never cared about these women before, why do they care now? They're just too fucking pathetic to admit that they agree with his actions as well. Hey, the more of them killed, the more elbow room for me.
6-You are a very polite and reasonable individual to deal with in person, yet you seem to have a very violent side to yourself as well. Can you discuss this?
I guess I'm just getting out all the anger through the music now. It wasn't always the case though. You have to understand where I grew up. Bensonhurst, Brooklyn is pretty wild. I never appreciated it when I was growing up, but as I began telling others the stories of my childhood, it dawned on me just how fucked up it all was. I'm not trying to make my situation so unique, but we did some fucked up shit when I was a kid. Everything was based on violence. Either we beat the shit out of each other, or we always had brawls with guys from different neighborhoods. We were very territorial. The whole gang thing, with a "mafia" twist. So many of my friends were either killed, or imprisoned, etc. Just a mess. I just found out last week that a bunch of guys I used to run with back then are now dead. It never ends over there. When this is what you were taught, it stays with you for a long time. You can't help it. Even when I stopped hanging out there, and went to college, etc, I was still very violent. I still am to some degree, but I'm trying to calm down a bit.
7-You once mentioned to me that you haven't performed live because you feel a Slogun performance would have to include physical violence against the audience itself. Would you please elaborate on this idea?
There are a few reasons why I feel the way I do about playing live. First off, the whole idea of these serial killers I speak of is NOT to get up in front of everyone, yelling out "look at me! Here I am!" You know? To me, not playing live, not having a picture of me in my releases, goes along with the whole idea I'm trying to put forward. I like the idea of "laying low". Secondly, I honestly could not care less about playing for anybody. I'm flattered that people get into my work, but I feel I don't owe anyone anything. Playing live seems like a chore to me. Fuck it, if I'm not doing it for me, it's a waste of time! Lastly, and most important, If I can't really put together a performance that encompasses what all the subject matter is about, why bother? To me, the ideal show is a show where the audience knows that they better be prepared to cover their ass when they step through those doors. It's like, "If you think you're bad-ass because you listen to violent music, show me!" I'm sick of all these nerdy wimps who talk this violent stuff, meanwhile they can't even fight their way out of a paper bag! I know this makes me sound like some other noise guy we all love to hate (you know who you are!) but when I see some arty-farty piss ass watching one of these shows, I feel like I have the right to chellenge him, see if he can back his ass up.
8-On the same note as the previous question, how do you feel about the decision of the band Whitehouse to no longer perform in England and America due to violent reactions from their audience?
Well, I just don't get it! The whole point is violence. But I do understand that the promoters probably give the Whitehouse guys a lot of shit for it. So if they really feel that it's just not worth it, more power to them. But, if it's truly because they don't like the violence anymore, then it's time to pack it in. But I doubt that this is the case here.
9-To the outside world America seems to have a reputation as a very violent country as a whole, certainly serial murder occurs more frequently here than elsewhere. Do you feel this perception of America is correct?
It depends. Violent crime is much more rampant on the whole. However, ironically enough, we're much more "civilized" in different ways. In this country we're obsessed with "saving" everybody. We do not tolerate domestic violence, child-abuse, etc. Not to say that it's accepted anywhere else, but it's certainly not dealt with the way we deal with it here. When you think about it, we're actually becoming quite "soft" here! As for serial murder, it's a sign of our culture. I don't want to get into the whole thing here, but it's already evident that as time goes on, and our culture is embraced by others, they will match us as far as crime, particularly serial crime, is concerned. As for the state of this country, I think America is burying itself as long as it's acceptable to take no responsibility for our actions. We live in a society that always looks to other for the blame. I think the mantra for the 90's is, "It's not my fault." It's never "my fault."
10-Do you see the current rise in the recognition of power electronics in the experimental music "scene" expanding or diminishing in the future?
I think it will expand a little more, but it won't go that afar. I don't think it can, it's too violent, over the top. Noise will be accepted much more because it's harmless. I'll probably start wars with this, but to me, it doesn't take much to slap together some loud noise, and package it nicely for the buyers. They can listen to it, and read whatever they want into it. Everyone creates their own acceptable violent level. Generally, people love to think that they listen to "sick shit", but come on, they don't know "sick shit" until they listen to real power electronics. I could be talking out of my ass about all of this, but I have yet to hear anything that compares to this genre as far as violence is concerned. I don't think the masses will ever be ready to embrace this stuff.
11-If given the means of murdering anyone you wished in the world without reprucussion, who would the top three individuals be, and why?
Too many people to choose. Personal figures asideGod, it could be anyone from Tori Spelling, to Oprah, to a million others! Throw in Frank Sinatra as well. And Rush Limbaugh. And Michael Jackson! My dream is to have some sick fuck bomb one of those gala events (Emmy's, Oscars, etc) while on live TV. I might shoot a load right there!
12-Explain your use of the "Fuck the World" phrase (slogan)?
It started when I was about 13. It was a crew I was with when I wrote graffiti. These guys were really crazy, and they hated people as much as I did, so I started using that as much as possible. I eventually got it tattooed on my back (just like they did) and it went from there. Bottom line, people suck. They've proved it time and time again, and they can all go fuck themselves.
13-Do you find your interests in the subjects of murder, suffering and abuse to be detrimental of beneficial to your life and mental health?
I don't think it's played a part in much of my life actually. If anything else, it desensitized me to a lot of things, and fucked with me a little, but nothing serious. I like to think that it's made me a little more tolerant of people since I'm fully aware of just how pathetic they are.
14-Do you have any hope for society?
None whatsoever! Seriously. It's all going downhill from here on in. But who cares. Whatever happens happens. Sit back, enjoy.
15-Any final comments?
One thing, as always, this goes out to
the Porn Lords!!