Know your past, buddies. Ric Laciak and his newly resuscitated label called Ras Dva surely raises a few eyebrows and makes proud eyes water. With Mentallo and The Fixer back, it was sort of time for other dormant methuselahs to return. Ric talks to us about how he got to be the name he is, how the industrial scene and doing a label was a different thing at the beginning of the nineties. As we said. You gotta know your past.
THE DOSE: He renowned label Ras Dva is finally back in 2006. Ric, could you please sum up the label history and achievements to our younger readers?
RIC: First of all I would like to thank you and your readers for your interest and support. I can understand and respect what you are doing for the bands and fans of the music; and it is very much appreciated. Without going into details and boring your readers with a small Ras Dva history lesson; it basicly started with me being a fan of electronic industrial music in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I understood the love (or obsession) for the music. With this great love for music, I auditioned for a radio show on Milwaukee's top Alternative Radio Station, WMSE, quickly receiving a time slot.
I have Tom Crawford, the current station manager, to thank for introducing me to Zoth Ommog; which led me to working with Gary and Dwayne Dassing - followed by a short working relationship with Talla 2XLC. Around that same time, Paul Valerio started publishing his now famous Industrial Magazine "Industrial Nation"; which I discovered while spending my life savings at Atomic Records in the early 90's. I liked the magazine so much that I contacted the publishing department, and began writing reviews, interviews and articles. One thing lead to another and I was working for Talla 2XLC at Zoth Ommog in Germany; who influenced me in starting Ras Dva. In 1995, Ras Dva released what was our most successful release to date, "There Is No Time".
THE DOSE: On the Side-Line forums, in 2005 July you said you don't have any real plans on restarting the label and in November you came forth saying "We are back. www.rasdva.com" What changed in those four months?
RIC: I really had no plans of resurrecting the ashes of Ras Dva in 2005, or 2006 for that matter. 1997 and 1998 were the last years the label was active, and sold off most of it's rights and stock to Metropolis Records in 2000. In the middle of 2005, fans contacted me via email; and expressed great interest in the history of the label, and wondered if there would be another release.
Needless to say, I opened many old boxes, documents, and listened to the old songs and demo tapes; waves of nostalgia washed over me. I was interested in industrial music again. Over the years, I had limited contact with Gary and Dwayne Dassing of Mentallo and the Fixer, and we basically picked up right where we left off. One of the biggest challenges I had was adapting to the way the music world works in 2006, which has changed since 1994. One of the first things I did with Ras Dva in 2005 was a web presence with www.rasdva.com I also worked with Gary and Dwayne with there web site at www.mentallo.net and the new project "Reign of Roses". It's amazing how times have changed, and the skills needed to survive in this age of instant information and gratification.
THE DOSE: There definitely is a wave of revival among the second generation of electro/industrial bands - was this surge behind the resuscitation of Ras Dva?
RIC: I am so pleased that many of the bands from the 1985 - 1995 time period are making come-backs. As before, I want to help others, such as "Mentallo and the Fixer" and "Reign of Roses". I never really got much feedback in 1994, so it's nice to see the positive response on sites such as MySpace and Side-Line. To answer your question, I missed the music and wanted to help the scene in whatever way I could.
THE DOSE: Do you plan to collaborate in some musical project like a while ago in Parking Lot In Drug Form with Mentallo?
RIC: That project, "Parking Lot in Drug Form" was nothing more than some fun in the studio. It was a one-off experiment with Gary and Dwayne. We even took a funny "band" photo in Waco Texas, with Mt. Carmel in the background – right after that place burned down. I have been working with Gary and Dwayne on several new ideas; but I don't want to let the cat out of the bag yet. Needless to say, there might be some limited new Ras Dva releases coming out later this year – or in 2007. We are planning some legacy releases, and want to continue the Benestrophe volumes with III and so on...
THE DOSE: You also worked for the Industrial Nation magazine - what were your experiences? How could a fanzine like that exist and survive today? Are paper fanzines needed, do they still have a niche in the Internet days you can build upon?
RIC: Industrial Nation was a great experience for me. I am thankful that I got to work with so many talented people. Your question regarding a paper magazine, versus one based on the web is a very good one. I honestly believe that times have changed; but there still are fans out there that want to hold their articles while reading them – not just log on to a web page. Then again, with the web you are able to reach out to a world-wide audience, instantly and cost effectively. With this great ease of publishing on the web comes a lot of less-than-professional attempts at journalism.
I wish I had a better answer for you, however – you can have it both ways today. Technology has gotten so cheap, so fast, that one can easily print "on demand" paper versions as needed; in addition to a virtual-version online. The fan will vote with their hard earned money when they purchase a copy and show their support.
THE DOSE: Checking back the video of the WMSE 91.7 times, you apparently had one hell of a time. Do you plan to do an industrial-related shoutcast/realmedia broadcasting?
RIC: Yes, working at the radio station was fun and I miss it greatly. I have thought about doing some sort of Internet broadcasting, however I fear that it would just get lost in the crowded bandwidth. My musical archive ranges from material from 1985 to 1995, so you could say my industrial music is rather dated. Also, I would not want to get involved with the legal problems of "fair use" and "copy protections" - many of these bands are not around, so there is no way to contact them for fair usage rights. I will however continue to present interesting material online, such as some rare new videos from the Mentallo boys; both new and classic footage.
THE DOSE: How come you released the Benestrophe materials on the Ras Dva website? What was it more - a Ras Dva-kind of promotion or a Mentallo kind of promotion?
RIC: Gary Dassing and I both agreed to further promote Benestrophe and Ras Dva by making these recordings available for free online. Both recordings sold well in 1994 and 1997, however many fans did not get to experience this project. We are planning much the same for the www.mentallo.net site in the near future as well.
THE DOSE: What are the main differences between the classic e/i era of 92-94 and today? Are bands - in general - better or worse, their concepts more positive or negative?
RIC: This is a very good question. As with all music, it is a matter of taste and individual style. In the mid-1990's many people enjoyed my taste in music for example; while others did not care for what I was doing. When I was able to compile the artists on the "There Is No Time" compilation, I was able to influence many people to further explore the current crop of artists. The differences from 10 years ago are clear if you have been following the trends; it's still electronic, EBM or Gothic... some of the new bands build on what came before them, some innovate, while others copy. I can't really answer your question, since there is so much good music still out there, while at the same time – so much bad music as well... this was true 10 years ago as well.
THE DOSE: How do you see the industrial scene in ten years, how will it sound and feel like?
RIC: Ah, an easy question that is intuitively obvious to the most casual of observers. In 10 years, the sum of human knowledge and entertainment will be available for instant consumption. No longer will we pay $20 for a movie contained on a DVD, or $10 for music contained on a CD... or $0.99 for a song as a MP3... when we want to watch "A Movie" or listen to "A Song", we will simply request it, and there it is... we'll be charge a small fee each time we enjoy it.
Believe it or not, this will be cost effective for us, and profitable for the music and movie makers. This will also allow for industrial bands to finally get paid in the future. But don't quit your day-job just yet. Oh, and in 2016, I will be waiting a full year for the price drop on the $1,000.00 Sony PS5; better known as the "PSV". The PS4 just didn't do it for me.
THE DOSE: There is an unprecedented amount of musicians (lots of them actually talented!) who release their material through MySpace and other community sites or even p2p systems. The labels - on the other hand - are closing their doors before newcomers due to the risk that consequently arises. What do you think is a possible way out of this huge globalized playground?
RIC: I agree, this is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Today, we are able to reach people quickly and cheaply around the world - but at the same time, artists who work many hours on their music, do not get paid their fair share. For many years, I blamed the Internet partly for the downfall of Ras Dva. Ras Dva was built on promotional CD's to radio stations, DJ's and Print Magazines. We marketed ourselves with full color paper catalogs, bulk mailed through the postal system. In 1998, the Internet really started to take off, by 1999, if you didn't have an email address – you got left behind. Fans need to understand that artists work many hours, writing, recording and releasing their music.
If people just download copies of it for free, these talented artists will stop working on their music – and find some other way to feed their families. In the 1990's, news stories about how a CD cost under $1.00 to press and then sold by the record companies for over $10.00 - would upset me. Even back then, people forgot that a blank CD was worth only $1.00, and the music it contained was the valued item, no one would spend $1.00 on a CD with 72 minutes of silence on it.
The same problem exists today. People are forgetting that music has value. If some one wants to give their music away, then so be it. I really don't like music as .mp3, they really don't sound that great, but it's a great way to take the music with you, but buying it this way – I feel this is selling the listener short. As I said, we are moving to a "on demand" world, with music and movies... and it will be up us as fans to be honest and fair when getting the new release by "so-and-so", otherwise you'll wonder what ever happened to your favorite band, why aren't they releasing albums anymore?
Just imagine for a moment if your employer could download a program that did your job for free – there would be no need to pay you. Would you really want to sit in your office without a paycheck, week after week?
THE DOSE: The future of the copyright system is another crucial point. Do you see any major change on the event horizon of the copyright mechanism?
RIC: It's hard to say. The easy answer is that the industry will come together and provide a delivery system that has a full quality audio source, much like 5.1 today, and build in a universal encryption, based on a subscription; much like Digital Satellite Television. Again, imagine you are in the mood for a Skinny Puppy concert; you'd be able to enjoy the audio or video at the push of a button.
There would be no need to copy it, since it will always be there for you to enjoy, anytime. Since you pay per view or listen, it's cheaper than buying the entire recordings of that artist or producer. Your collection would be a database of your favorite bands, songs and movies; and you would be able to better explore music... you could visit that cool record shop in Germany, just like you always wanted to.
THE DOSE: What new challenges and problems or limitations do you encounter now as a label that haven't been an issue in the nineties?
RIC: One word. Internet.
THE DOSE: What plans do you have for your label in the forecoming years? Which bands do you want to work with in the near future, what is there to know?
RIC: Current plans are to further develop promotional methods online with the web site. As in the 1990's, I had to learn many new things to push the limits of the label; there is no difference today. Today, a label owner needs to learn new things to push the limits of today, while planning for the future. I am working closely again with Gary Dassing on a new series started with the release of the Benestrophe material in 1994. I am also exploring releasing on 12" vinyl, as I strongly believe that there is a market for those.
THE DOSE: Ric, thank you for sharing your words and ideas with us - what final message do you have for our readers?
RIC: It's been a pleasure. I'd like to thank all at "The Dose" I'd like to most importantly thank you, the fan, for reading this interview! Getting this far in this text means that you are a true fan of industrial music, you will not let it die! Thank you!