Sunday, December 6, 2009

Front Line Assembly interview

Interview with Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber of FLA
Originally published in Side-Line magazine
by Evan South

I caught up with Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber after their
live concert of Delerium featuring Conjure One. After
a few questions concerning Delerium live and in the
studio we jumped into the subject of the new Front
Line Assembly...

Part 1 with Rhys Fulber

Rhys, you've had a long break between FLA albums...

RF- It was better that way, because if I had made a
record earlier, I wouldn't have been in to it, that genre
of music left me sort of... I just wasn't that interested.
It would be cool to make something more on the edge.
Bill talked to me about it, and we just started kicking
around some stuff. The first stuff we wrote was a lot
more trance progressive house, but we just found our
way. The record is very modern but at the same time
it's got all the classic Front Line elements...
It's not even so much as a stright up industrial record
because it sounds so modern and it has a lot of
melodies and Bill's best vocals, I think ever, are on the
record. So for me it is a very satisfying record because
it is modern sounding with new things, but at the
same time it has classic bits and pieces that people will
recognize as Front Line. The single is the club songs,
and not really representative of the album. The album
has a lot more variation on it and a lot more slower

So obviously taking all that time off helped...

RF- I felt way more inspired and had a lot of fresh
ideas. There are no samples that are recognizable,
none of those sort of things. None of the dialogue is
from films, it's all random recorded material. It's a
whole different flavor of record for Front Line

Do you think the new FLA material would translate
well in a live setting?

RF-Some of it, for sure, but that's a whole other
mountain to climb later, we're just trying to get through
this tour, and we'll see what happens. But I think it's
one of our strongest albums we've made as Front Line

Do you look at the Delerium tour as a way to see if you
like being back on the road again?

RF- I like being on the road, I think it's fine, I was
looking forward to coming out and playing these
shows. Compared to the studio schedule I was
keeping the months before this is pretty chill, so I like
it. It's nice to go out and travel and play music, and of
course I'm excited about my Conjure One project, it's
a chance to be out there.

Any plans for another single or EP off the new FLA

RF- I don't know. We haven't thought about it. We
just put the first single out "Maniacal" because it's the
"club" record. The album is more slow and mid-tempo
material. So we just put out the fastest song as the
single. I like the single, but I really dig the depth of the
album and I get more out of the deeper and more
melodic tracks that are on it.

Part 2 with Bill Leeb

Give me your take on the new Front Line...

BL- I think it's really depressing, myself. I just find life
and music depressing a lot of times. I'm just in a weird
state of mind. I find the lyrics, to me personally, are
really depressing. I'm in a strange state of my life, with
my age and everything...I'm not sure I know what being
happy is right now.

Did the new material feel fresh to you, or did you feel
you rehashed some of the same old stuff?
Did working with Rhys again give you a different

BL- I just think life is different and we're both so
different than when we were 15 years ago. It's
impossible to be a rehash since we don't even have
the same gear we had back then, everybody's in a
different mindset. 15 years is a long time in a persons
life, the way you look at things and feel about things.
It's just really a different kind of record to me.
To me I don't really care if we sell 200 copies. I guess
we felt like we started the project, it was a good vibe,
and we might as well end it together. Close the chapter
on it... I really don't give a shit if 3 people buy it. It's
something we had to do, I had to do, and we did it.

Did you have to do it for any sort of contractual

BL- No, nothing like that. I only do one-offs on
albums. I only do it if I want to do it. That's why I
don't have a manager, that's why I don't sign to majors.
I'm always fiercely independent. We've never done
demo's, I don't want anybody telling me what kind of
song to write, or what I should say or feel or think, so
that gives us the ultimate creative freedom.

What are the chances of Front Line touring again?

BL- I couldn't give you an answer. It's too big of an
"if" of everything...if this, if that...

Is the Delerium tour a good way of finding out if you
like being on the road again and performing live?

BL- It's kind of weird doing Delerium because I'm
used to being up front with the mic. With the mic you
have a lot of power and you really control the crowd.
You live and die with every show. Being in the back,
you feel kind of insignificant even though it's your
music and you're watching people perform it. I'm still
not sure that I'm used to that concept, everybody's
playing your melodies, your basslines...

So would that influence you to get back out as the
front man in FLA?

BL- No, I don't think so. I just think Front Line is kind
of done. What can we do to make it worth while to go

Do you feel you've gone as far as you can go or the
sound is not going to evolve anymore?

BL- It's not that, I just think that kind of music has a
limited audience, and all the people that like what
we've done have seen it, so why do it again, and have
the same people come out and tell you the same thing?

What's the outlook for any future Front Line beyond
the new release?

BL- I can't give you an answer on any of's too
definite. I could decide just to never do music again,
that's the kind of person I am. Rhys likes to be in the
industry and he's evolved with the whole L.A. thing,
but I'm kind of an outsider and loner now. I might
disappear for 10 years and come back with an organ
project, that's the way I am.

Would you do anything else in the music business,
possibly production work for others?

BL- I don't want to work on other peoples music, I
have no interest in that at all. I've seen it, I've been
around it, it's no fun. If that's how you want to make a
living, great, but I have no interest in doing that kind of
work at all.

Looking back on the last 20 years, is there a high point
/low point in your career?

BL- The only thing I could really say is having 50
copies of a cassette that you sell locally, and 15 years
later evolving into this, enough said. Anybody can do
it if they want to...

Final thoughts/comments?

BL- Let's just get through today and tomorrow. I'm
the eternal optimist as you can tell...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

KMFDM interview

Interview with Sascha K. of KMFDM
Originally published in Side-Line magazine
by Evan South

After almost 20 years KMFDM is still doin' it again.
After last years ATTAK they present us with their
latest assault on our senses, WWIII. We sat down
with the mastermind and corruptor of youth Sascha
Konietzko during the big WWIII tour...

Let's start with the development of the new album

WWIII marks a whole new line-up for KMFDM, and
also marks a transition from years and years of a
revolving door project to a fixed band lineup. The
addition of a live drummer (Andy Selway) has had its'
impact on WWIII. The way we produced the album
was in reversion of all the other albums. We started
this time not with the machine bits, but with the
organic stuff, where as in the past the human element
was more or less the last step in the production. So
this record was more organically grown.

How do you see the new album as far as the lyrics,
with the political overtones?

There are a couple of songs that are very out there,
everything else totally falls in line with KMFDM.
Pity for the Pious, in light of following a song like
WWIII, could be seen as a political song, though I
don't think it was intended as one. The music was
done by Selway, Hodgson, and myself, the lyrics were
written by myself, Lucia, and Raymond, and that's
how it all worked out. In comparison to Attak,
which more like a patchwork of a song here and a
track there, some Skold tracks, all kinds of stuff
flowing into the return of KMFDM, WWIII is like a
steamroller non-stop. It's one forged piece of metal.

How is the tour going, and how do you determine
which tracks you will play live?

The tour is well. We've done about 27 shows so far,
the whole thing is 36 dates in 40 days, like the usual
KMFDM grindcore type of excursion. As far as the
playlist, we have to play most of the new album for
sure, and we went through all the songs and figured
out which ones work best in a live scenario. And of
course there is a certain amount of classics we have to
play. There are a bunch of tracks on the backburner
that we will prepare for the next tour, and bring out a
few more of the old ones, maybe rearrange some of it
and come up with a new exciting setlist for the next

WWIII and ATTAK were released fairly close
together, about 1 and 1/2 years apart. Did you start
writing WWIII imediately after ATTAK?

We started writing right after the return from last years
Sturm Und Drang tour. We just went straight into the
studio and did it. It took 10 months, and we never
stopped or looked up to take a breath, we just did it,
bang! We didn't have any material sketched out
beforehand, we did it all from scratch.

Are you still doing production work for PIG?

No, it was planned, but it never happened. We laid it
out last July, a gameplan for the next year, and nothing
that we predicted happened, everything went a
completely different way. So I did not produce any
PIG or end up playing bass on any of it. I was
completely enamored in making WWIII at the time.
Raymond didn't participate in WWIII until the last
stage. We mixed the whole album in June and it was
not until late May that Raymond came out and made
his contributions to the album, and that's because he
was really busy doing new material for himself, which,
by the way, will be coming out under WATTS.
So PIG is basically dead, or suspended at this point,
due to all kinds of changes. Jules and Andy relocated
from London last fall and moved to Seattle, and that
basically took the band away from Raymond, and he
formed a new team of people that he worked with
under the name WATTS.

Any return to the old side-project of Excessive Force?

There was something that was floating around last year
but I shot it down because of a number of reasons.
One is the little bits of material that was written for X-F
flowed into the WWIII production, and also I found
out that apparently there is a Canadian white
supremacist band that has a similar sounding name, so
spare us the confusion. There's no point in relaunching
X-F at this point, it was a little dance side-project.
There wasn't that much written, it was two tracks. One
of them became "From here on out" and the other one
became "Jihad".

Lucia also has a solo project out?

Yes, it's available now as a self-release. She was signed
to Universal and they had a lot of difficulties and
dropped a lot of their artists and she got her rights back
and released it herself. Lucia and I began writing on her
solo album in late 1999, and proceeded throughout the
year 2000 with a bunch of material. She got her deal
with Universal in early 2001 and it was planned that her
album would be going in more of a soft direction than
the stuff we had worked on. So the harder stuff flowed
into the ATTAK album and some of it flowed into the
SCHWEIN project that Raymond, Lucia, myself and
the members of Buck-Tick did that year. So a lot of
the material got shifted around over time , but it's fair
to say WWIII, with the exception of the couple of
tracks planned for X-F, was completely given birth
right then and there instantaneously.

How have you been dealing with changing labels in the
last few years?

What we're seeing since the end of the relationship
between KMFDM and Wax Trax is a general trend of
the music industry falling into this big black hole.
Unfortunately for us we're not in a situation where we
can finance 10 months of production time ourselves.
We don't have any financial reserves. If we did we
would for a long time now have our own label. The
problem is we always need a constant stream of
income in order to sustain ourselves. Once we can
break that vicious cycle we will definitely be putting
the stuff out ourselves. Label hopping is the most
unsatisfying thing at this point. It is totally frustrating.
You have to break in new people every time and
explain it (the concept) all over again. But we're
making it, we're surviving.

Any comment on relations with former band members
(En Esch and Gunter)? Any attempts to come back

I wish I could comment. I have no idea what they are
doing or where they are. The last I heard they made it
way down to the bottom of the barrel and apparently
have joined Pigface, but that's all I know. I talked to
them in early 2001when it became hands on that
KMFDM was reforming, and they indignantly refused
to be a part of it. Then they turned around and started
telling all this weird shit, basically badmouthing their
own former bandmates. It was kind of sad, but that's
the way people are.

What are some of the other members up to? Will Tim
Skold make a return?

Cheryl Wilson (guest vocalist on various KMFDM
recordings) is one of the most sought after voice-over
people in the Chicago area and Bill Rieflin (KMFDM,
Ministry) is now drumming for REM. Skold (now with
Marilyn Manson) has sort of discovered himself as a
rock star, I guess. I hear stories from fans that
approach him that he's not really approachable
anymore. We don't need people with big egos in this
band. We are a D.I.Y. punk rock outfit and that's what
we do best. We don't need any snooties or
megalomaniacs of that sort.

What are the future plans for KMFDM?

There's going to be a little bit of a hiatus in the months
of December and January. We're going to be finishing
up a project we've been working on for a while, the
Spider-Man 2 video game soundtrack. We will also be
working with a local Seattle band on production for
their album, a band called Charlie Drown. This current
tour is definitely going to go on, we're working right
now on setting up gigs in Australia, Japan, and Europe.
There is also talk of returning to the USA in April or
May and doing another leg of the tour here. There will
also be a DVD released from this tour which will
probably come out in March or April, just right around
the time that we go back out on tour again.