photos by Paul Ward
Sydney's cyberpunk revival culminates in the creative node ANGELSPIT - indie zine distro ZOOG with design diva and hair extension artist DESTROYX team up to destroy PAs and have helluva good time in the meanwhile. ANGELSPIT is Sheep on Drugs meets Lords of Acid of the new era. We really really had to talk to them.
THE DOSE: R. U. Sirius countercultural icon and truth ranter once said, "Cyberpunk is what cyberpunks listen to." How do you define cyberpunk now, at the beginning of 2006 and how does ANGELSPIT embody this concept?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): For us, Cyberpunk embodies a 'Do It Yourself' attitude through art, by using technology against the status quo. Technology is a tool for motivation, not procrastination. So often does technology become the basis and focus of music and creativity, which is not what it is actually designed for - to be a tool for creative expression.
THE DOSE: How important is style and the glossy cyberlook for you, how much do you adhere to "Style over substance"?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): We work in the field of aesthetics, so we pay a lot of attention to style. This doesn't mean that we don't put a lot of substance into our work - we pay a lot of attention to details - musically, lyrically and aesthetically.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): All of these things are interconnected for us. You can't easily separate imagery from music, so we put a lot of detail into both the music, the artwork and our presentation as a band. A band's presentation really effects the way audiences perceive music.
THE DOSE: Which do you prefer, first-generation Mirrorshades cyberpunk with VR, cyberspace, sprawls and ICE or second-generation CP with social impacts, nanotechnology, politics and a continuous disconnection with the previous punky attitude? Why?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): A mixture of both attitudes. How can you separate political activism from the punk attitude?
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): We embrace technology as the driving force behind our music. We use it to create our music, and the social effects of technology forms the basis for many of our lyrics.
THE DOSE: How strong is the Australian cyberpunk community, who are the key people there, who are the main communities, where do they hang out, what special Australian CP books or movies are there to look out for?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): Due to the size of Australia's population, Cyberpunk is more of an influence than a subculture. It is greatly interwoven within the goth industrial community as well as the avant garde art scene.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): In Sydney there is an art collective call MechAnarchy who have cyber shows/installations with bands, artwork, robotics, fashion and interactive electronic installations. Of course, who can forget Stelarc the posthuman performance artist and Severed Heads the original founders of cyber electronic music.
THE DOSE: Which part of fuck off don't you understand? Is your slogan and knowing your music and reading your previous interviews it's pretty much understandable. Whence comes the angst, what are the first three things that your anger would destroy if you could focus it?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): 1) John Howard (Australia's Prime Minister and a weak, vacuous, greedy capitalist) and George W. Bush (for obvious reasons), 2) Television - it's the most effective form of brain washing & breaking the human spirit and 3) Consumerism - it makes people unhealthily competitive, noncommunal, uncreative and unhappy. It makes people dissatisfied with who they are, instead giving them impossible ideals and notions of what they could be.
THE DOSE: How did Nurse Grenade realize from an idea to an EP - what were the steps from listening and partying to music to making your own?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): We've always been creative together - we used to make zines together and also ran a zine distro for a while. Making music was the next step.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): We decided to put down a couple of tracks, and Nurse Grenade was the result.
THE DOSE: Gnarling riot grrl vocals, riff-infused electronica, pounding beats - ANGELSPIT's music definitely calls for images of Johnny Silverhand of CP2020 and feels like an organic mixture of lots of bands with the same kind of anger management problems, from RevCo through Sheep on Drugs to the Thrill Kill Kult, even. Who (and what) were and at the present moment, are, your greatest motivations?
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): Our favourite bands and influences are Sonic Youth, Skinny Puppy and of course some of the other bands in Crash Frequency like Stark and Tankt. We also listen to a lot of 80's music and noise, like Converter, Navicon Torture Technologies and Haus Arafna.
THE DOSE: How does a usual and powerful ANGELSPIT gig look like?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): Two very angry people jumping around playing with vocoders and theremin, making lots of noise with effects units. Sometimes we have background visuals, sometimes we have big backdrops, sometimes we feature freaky dancers. It's all about anger, chaos and energy.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): We also have a large merch stall, featuring our medical inspired range of accessories and the usual items like CD's, pins and arm bands.
THE DOSE: The dream ANGELSPIT gig with the ideal crowd, tech and visuals. Describe it!
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): TECH: Lots of stuff on fire.
VISUALS: Large robots which move through the crowd spraying blood on people (thinks Survival Research Labs). In an adjoining room, there would be performance art before the show, with an art exhibition adorning the walls.
LOCATION: Abandoned medical research facility. It would be like moving through a horrific movie set.
STAGE: More fire. Lots of modular synths (not on fire), very fucked up visuals, 10 piece band (lots of drummers and percussionists). Japanese Butoh dancers.
...plus some more fire.
THE DOSE: Your first material, Nurse Grenade is a powerful, noisy, anger- and idea-filled EP. You decided to release it on your website complete with remixes by and to the Crash Frequency bands (CF being the definitive Australian goth/industrial band collective) in MP3 format. Why MP3 and not releasing it via the official, legal and financial way?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): It was the easiest and fastest way to get the music out to people. If you can't afford it you can download it for free. If you want to buy it, you can do so off the website or at a gig.
THE DOSE: As a band and part of the music industry, what's your opinion about MP3 and file-sharing? Is it good, bad or somewhere in between? Do you use file-sharing programs to check out bands or find new music? Is downloading and sharing a maintainable method for getting in contact with music?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): We encourage people to share our music. We often send CDs to people who have no credit cards and tell them to copy it and give it to their friends. We're at the position where we don't do this for a living, so we can afford to give our music away for free. On the other hand, there are some bands who make an entire living out of music, so they can't afford to give all their away for free, so if you want to support them - buy their CD! If you want to support us, SHARE OUR MP3s!!!
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): We are not trying to make money out of Angelspit. We are trying to make a statement. The more accessible the music is, the more people can gain insight and enjoyment from the music. I love file sharing personally, and have found it to be a great way of finding rare and interesting music which you can't find in music stores. People don't make mix tapes anymore, they swap entire music collections.
THE DOSE: Your evolution is coming to phase two with your album called Krankhaus. What is there to know about it, what's the concept, who did you work with on the album, what about its distribution?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): Krankhaus pushes the ideas of extreme decadence and the lengths people go to, in order to obtain entertainment. In the conceptual artwork we created a time period inspired by post WW1 Berlin - with ts extravagance and depravity. The characters of the imagery see the human body as a canvas for entertainment.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): At this stage, we want Krankhaus to be an independent release, but will be seeking international distribution. Musically the album will be extremely clangy industrial with a noise influence and a dark pop edge. Nurse Grenade used a lot of prominent percussion. Krankhaus incorporates this feel with a lot more big, fat modular synth lines.
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): There is a lot of bass.
THE DOSE: You are part of Crash Frequency, a collective of Goth/Industrial bands. How does collaboration take place, what do you share and what does CF give you what you'd lack without participating in it?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): Support and encouragement. We share contacts and help each other get exposure to DJs, radio stations, record labels.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): We often have gigs together, remix each other and release compilation CDs.
THE DOSE: What is there to know about the Australian G/I scene? How huge is it, what are key cities and venues, what are the styles and bands (both local and non-local) that are currently adored? What about local talents?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): To find out what's happening in the G/I scene, check out a website called Australiangothic.com - It has all gigs and news for all states, including New Zealand. Sydney and Melbourne are the main cities with the most clubs and gigs, which is understandable considering they both have populations of 4 million people. Brisbane, Hobart, Perth and Adelaide also have vibrant underground scenes.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): Bands to check out: Tankt, Ikon, Angel Theory, The Crystalline Effect, Lux Voltaire, basically all the other bands on CrashFrequency.com. Stylistically, Australian Goths are very adventurous with clothing, and are extremely innovative dressers. People aren't afraid to try something new here.
THE DOSE: DestroyX, you are not only doing ANGELSPIT but also actively doing HairSurgeon, an extreme extensions business. How did the idea spring up? How many people are working with you on the project?
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): HairSurgeon consists of Head Surgeons: Zoog and Destroyx, Matren Vulpy and Nurse Wendy. It started out by doing hair for ourselves, but through selling hair over the web and locally it has become a full time job. Most of our sales are for Europe and USA.
THE DOSE: How much do you intertwine with the model industry? Which more famous scene-related models and photographers would you like to work with and why?
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): I don't consider myself to be a model in the conventional sense. However it can be fun to create dark and fucked up imagery with artists and photographers. All girls in the alternative Gothic scene seem to be models and suicide girls now days - I'm not like that. That seems to me to be a commodification of the female body in a particularly conventional manner - it's not overly expressive of self empowering. Having said that I did enjoy working with photographer Helen White (Oyster, Vogue, Cream Magazine) on the Krankhaus photo shoot and look forward to coming up with more conceptually interesting photoshoots in the future. I'm also very interested in styling and concept driven photographs, and perhaps will dabble in those areas in the future. My favourite scene photographer at the moment is Nadya Lev (nadyalevphoto.com), and maybe one day I'll have the pleasure of working with her!
THE DOSE: With bands like Ayria, Unter Null, Pzychobitch and Angelspit as well, the girl factor is rising in the industrial scene. Please comment.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): Fuck yeah! The industrial scene used to be very male orientated, and in some aspects, still is. To me, the male voice represents the machine and the female voice represents the soul and the emotive nature. The ‘angry male' vocal can sometimes become a formulaic cliché, yet an angry female vocal can be very chilling.
THE DOSE: Besides Angelspit, HairSurgeon and CF, what do you do in your 'normal' life?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): I'm a full time design student at university.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): I work on websites for bands and also help out with AustralianGothic.com.
THE DOSE: What are your plans for 2006 and the years beyond? Any chance for a European tour to rock the riot crowd?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): FUCK YEAH! We will be spending 2007 in Germany and 2008 in London and we will be playing as often as we can.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): We are extremely excited about touring Europe and have heard awesome reports about the European scene.
THE DOSE: Any plans for a video clip sync'd to any of your tracks? Fuck Fashion or Head Kult would really stand out with even some freaky and talented Flash animation or some frantic black-and-white fastforward brash nightmare like a Shozin Fukui movie.
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): We have some horrifying videos in the works for Krankhaus. They will be extremely disturbing.
THE DOSE: What would be the movie ANGELSPIT would to a soundtrack to?
ANGELSPIT (Zoog): Tetsuo (1988) which is directed by Shinya Tsukamoto.
THE DOSE: Finally, what message do you send to the DOSE readers?
ANGELSPIT (Destroyx): Thank you to all the readers for your support and listening to our music. We're looking forward to meeting you when we tour in 2007. We're very excited about the new album, and can't wait to share it with you in mid 2006. Make music, make videos, make zines - get active!
KRANK IT UP!