For the latest interview here on amodelofcontrol.com, we’ve caught up with Eric Gottesman of Everything Goes Cold (and quite a few other bands, which he’ll explain about shortly) over e-mail, to talk about his new album, his old album, his old bands and a whole lot else.
The photo of Eric at Kinetik is my own work, while the two new shots were Photographed by Matia Simovich, Glitched by Morgan Tucker. The Spotify playlist is a collection of EGC and See Colin Slash songs selected by me.
amodelofcontrol.com: Eric, it’s been some time since vs General Failure. What have you been up to in the meantime?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): I have literally been sitting alone in stony silence in my underground lair, waiting. Scheming. Also playing a lot of games on my phone because it’s hella boring down there.
Also, everything else. In 2012 we released The Tyrant Sun the prequel EP to the new album [Ed note: duh, should have mentioned that, really, especially as I bought it…]. We toured with Aesthetic Perfection and Faderhead, Imperative Reaction (with Ludovico Technique and The Witch Was Right), and Caustic. I toured playing keyboard for Ayria when we went out with Project Pitchfork, and did a few shows on bass with Grendel, Shiv-R, and most recently GoFight. I’ve been pretty busy.
amodelofcontrol.com: The new album Black Out The Sun strikes me as having a much punchier production in particular than before – made clearest for me by the difference between the original and current versions of The Iron Fist of Just Destruction. How do you feel your new work compares with your old?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): Production on the new album was done by Wade Alin, who was the guy behind one of my all-time favorite bands of the American coldwave era, Christ Analogue. Wade has done a ton of other stuff you’ve probably heard as well, but the thing that really sold me on working with him was his work on Dead Letters by Stromkern. That sound on that disc is powerful and moving in exactly the way I wanted. And if you listen to the old Christ Analogue album, In Radiant Decay, you can immediately hear the influence that disc had on my work- if you compare almost any song on there to I’ve Sold Your Organs On the Black Market To Finance the Purchase of a Used Minivan… It’s very obvious. So that’s the situation with the production.
As for comparing my new work with the old- The most obvious change that I think people will notice is the tone. vs General Failure had a lot of humor to it, and a lot was very upbeat, emotionally. There’s no “funny” in Black Out the Sun though, strictly speaking. There’s still a strong sense of satire, but it’s a lot more pointed. Both in terms of music and lyrical content the new disc is more pointed, and focused. The last one was in many ways a love letter to industrial music, and that was challenging in a sense because industrial music in general does not lend itself easily to love songs, so I had to use humor to express that idea by bringing out the things I really love in it. But Black Out the Sun has a lot of honest anger to it, and that really changed things. I also think I found my own voice a bit more firmly with the new album. Exploring a bit more outside the industrial music scene, I got really into chiptune/8-bit music, and that plays a prominent role. It fits easily into what we were doing before, but it solidifies the atmosphere I’ve always wanted the band to have.
amodelofcontrol.com: How did EGC come about in the first place? I first heard you through my friend Nigel who used to run the Dark Assimilation radio show, who played me …Minivan. That must have been 2007/08, and we played the hell out of it at various club nights subsequently…
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): Well, from 1998 until 2002, I had a band called See Colin Slash, which was myself and my friend (and college roommate) Greg Dunn. We were young, and we were all over the place musically. We played a lot of silly EBM songs and a few more “serious” industrial rock songs and a bunch of acoustic folk reworkings of club hits. It was a huge mess and it was occasionally brilliant, but we were both pulling each other in drastically different directions – Greg was getting interested in world music and bhangra and all sorts of weird crap while I was… Well, I was playing in Psyclon Nine, which I suppose about sums it up. We were challenging each other, but also limiting each other. Anyhow at the end of 2002 Greg was moving away, and we decided to end the project with a farewell show and a remix disc in early 2003, and I ~immediately~ set about working on a project that would let me do all the stuff I couldn’t do in See Colin Slash. That was Everything Goes Cold.
I had all sorts of ideas about what the project was going to be that never came to fruition – I wanted to be like Numb-meets-Hate Dept. or something, and wanted to be very serious and emotional, and I wrote some material at that time that did eventually make it in to the band that Everything Goes Cold became- I even played early versions of IGNORE and Don’t Quit Your Day Job as instrumental numbers on all hardware synths and standalone sequencers at some crazy underground party in 2003. But my time was being occupied by Psyclon Nine and Ayria and Deathline International and who knows what else at the time, so I kept making half-hearted attempts and doing something real with EGC but made little progress outside of an Unter Null remix and an Ayria one.
Finally, in 2006, Caustic’s Unicorns, Kittens, and Shit came out, and it reminded me that I was much more comfortable being witty than I was being emotional, and that the perfect song title could save anything. I wrote …Minivan, I found a band and got a disastrous show opening for Combichrist (Pro-tip: If you start a new band and you’re not sure what you’re doing yet, don’t have your first show opening a huge show for the biggest band in your genre,) and there we were. It took me another year and a half to get the Prepare To Be Refrigerated EP going, but it happened!
amodelofcontrol.com: In general, much of your music you’ve been involved with has had a lighter edge – have you always found it important to never take things too seriously in your music? (Something that can’t be said for many other industrial-connected artists…)
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): Some of that has to do with my personal comfort. A lot of that lightness reflects how I am in reality, so it’s naturally how I write. But every time I get a question like this – and I get them a lot – I think that it’s important to point out how important humor was to the origins of industrial music. There’s nothing unusual about using it. Industrial owes much of its ideals and aesthetic to dadaism, and bands like Throbbing Gristle, Foetus, Skinny Puppy, and Ministry have all used humor and satire regularly and poignantly in their work. Earlier today I read a great interview with Chris & Cosey in which they spoke about it directly. The whole dour dark and humorless atmosphere that people associate with industrial now is really particular to the strains of EBM that were popular when a lot of us who are now in the scene were first coming of age. And there’s nothing bad about that, I love :wumpscut:’s older stuff and Funker Vogt and all those guys, but they’re not representative of everything that industrial music can or should stand for. And when I first got started with EGC – even at the peak of that dark EBM’s popularity – there were people like B00l3 and The Gothsicles and Caustic who were all confronting that notion directly.
I hope people will start realizing how diverse this music can be, and work harder to maintain that diversity. Things have changed a lot in the last few years, mostly for the better. If the releases of the past couple of years are any indication, this may be one of the last times I answer this question.
amodelofcontrol.com: Saying that, Hardcore! still seems to hold up in it’s gentle ribbing of industrial/goth cliches and styles (even thousands of miles away from the West Coast in London…and I was probably guilty of a some of those cliches myself). Are you surprised that so little seems to have changed?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): OH MY GOD HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW THAT SONG. I spoke a bit about See Colin Slash earlier, and it just amazes me that people are aware of that band at all. We played like five shows, ever! We didn’t put out a properly distributed release until four years after the band ended! WHAT.
As for the question- I’d say things really HAVE changed. Drastically, even. A lot of what that song was mocking was the commitment to the trifles of alternative-ness that seemed so important back in the ‘90s. There was an idea at the time that if you didn’t have a hairdo that could NOT be made to look even remotely normal, and piercings you never took out, and an obsessive and utterly isolated lifestyle circling around all those things, that you were a “weekender”, or a poseur or something. Sometimes I’ll describe that kind of thing to younger people I know now in the goth and industrial scene and they look at me like I’m a space alien. The proliferation of the internet has federated the world’s alternative scene. A 15-year-old kid in a small town in Kentucky can access a VampireFreaks community or an obscure industrial release on Bandcamp or iTunes just as easily as I can from San Francisco. It has altered our landscape in ways we probably won’t even understand for years to come, but we’ve been experiencing subtle changes in tangible ways for years- when you look closely at the fashion trends, and playlists, and crowds at alternative events, you’ll notice that the mainstream has moved closer to us while we’ve moved closer to them. I’m not sure if I think it’s better or worse that way, but it is different.
Hardcore! was about a world where everybody listens to Blutengel. I don’t think any of us want that.
amodelofcontrol.com: You’ve been involved with a number of other bands, either as a contributor or remixer. Would you say that the assistance bands offer each other in the “scene” helps to push everyone to better things, or does it just reinforce the cliquey nature of it sometimes?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): Well, I think all of us sometimes feel like industrial music is just a mutual admiration society, where we all buy each other’s releases and pat each other on the back. That’s a difficult thing to address. One of the things that makes alternative music scenes so great is that they value and encourage artists, but we wind up in these situations where the entire audience at a show is a musician and everybody is trying to foist their work on everybody else.
I don’t think the “clique” thing is a real problem, and I never have. Every time I’ve witnessed somebody complaining about cliques in our industry, it’s because they’ve behaved poorly and it came back and bit them in the ass. But the mutual admiration society thing IS a problem – we need to have consumers as well as producers to be a healthy artistic environment. I’d like to encourage people – especially younger people – not to feel pressured to create if it’s not really your thing. You don’t HAVE to be a musician, or a DJ, or an artist, or anything like that to be a valuable, cool person in our little micro-societies. All you have to do is be decent, show up and enjoy yourself. We need more people to do that.
amodelofcontrol.com: Our respective home areas have two of the longest-running “scene” clubs in the world. In this internet age, do you think they are still important for breaking new music, or has that responsibility switched entirely to the internet now?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): I think a lot of it has switched to the internet. I’ve had a long-running argument with DJ Decay, who runs Death Guild (San Francisco’s 22-year-old goth club institution!) about the amount of new vs. old music being played- he wants to have a more even spread, and I want a stronger emphasis on new music. As the genres we listen to age, it becomes trickier to represent a selection of music that will keep everybody happy – for some people at a nightclub, “old music” means Siouxsie and the Banshees, for some it’s VNV Nation’s Praise the Fallen, and for some it’s an album that came out two years ago. For a DJ to keep everybody dancing in a smaller market, all of those audiences have to be catered to, to an extent. Rev. John at Das Bunker believes that the best move is to tweak the audience’s preferences by getting them used to new music quickly, and I like that idea, but it’s difficult to strike that balance without driving away the devoted older crowd.
If your local club has great DJs who are staying on top of the new material, you can still discover music that way. I still do sometimes! But it’s important to keep in mind that even the most progressive club DJ is playing club music, and music selected to keep people dancing and drinking. It’s always been that way. So for people who don’t or can’t go to clubs, the internet is of course an invaluable resource for new music, but even the most fervent clubgoer would be well-served to diversify their music discovery resources.
amodelofcontrol.com: Ok, music geek time – is that a Poppies sample (the drum roll that opens Def Con One, if my ears are not mistaken) that pops up in Iron Fist of Just Destruction? Presumably the Poppies are an influence on EGC, but what got you into making music in the first place, and what music influenced you to do so?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): Yes, it is, although perhaps the more interesting sample in there is the recurring “ready to take me” which is NOT Brittany Bindrim from I:Scintilla (who sings on the chorus and the long version of that line on the bridge) but in fact a pitched-up sample of Reagan Jones of Iris singing Lose In Wanting on that band’s first album.
The Poppies are a HUGE influence on EGC- possibly the single biggest. A lot of what made Black Out the Sun come out as it did had to do with their career trajectory – the bulk of their work, especially earlier on, is very light-hearted and sometimes even humorous, and that makes Dos Dedos Mis Amigos feel even more powerful than it is on its own. Our old keyboardist, Conan Neutron of Victory & Associates, once mentioned that the name Everything Goes Cold sounds like it could be a reference to Everything’s Cool – that wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, but it definitely fits. That song, Underbelly, Fatman… Well basically that entire album – scratch that, that entire BAND is a huge deal for me. I don’t know what I’d be doing without them. Oh hey, and just in case Crabbi is reading this: HEY, COME TO THE US AND TAKE US WITH YOU.
As for what got me into it in the first place- when I was in high school I joined this oh-so-‘90s alternative rock band because I had a crush on the drummer (who I did eventually date. HAH!). We were playing stuff that mucked around somewhere between Primus and Nirvana with none of the positive qualities of either, up until our guitarist (Who now leads a sweet swing band, Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five), got Psalm 69 by in the mail by mistake, from one of those “20 CDs for a dollar” clubs that were big back then – Columbia House or BMG or something. He kept it because the art was cool, played it for the band at a rehearsal, and anyhow like a week later we were all wearing eyeliner and fishnets and listening to LeÃ¦therStrip.
Prior to that I had an affinity for music, but nothing special. I listened to a lot of ‘80s stuff, and I’d sang in choirs at school. But once I discovered industrial (and goth and deathrock and everything one might have related to it in the ‘90s) I had something that really spoke to me, and I thought was really important. The idea that there was this whole culture and art form that was dark and heavy, but not connected to the idiots I associated with metal, and was talking about things that were important and cool to me at the time, like computer hacking, was an overwhelming discovery. I was committed to being a part of that, and – different though it may be today – I still am.
amodelofcontrol.com: …and what about now – there seems to be a rush of great new music in the “scene” at present, all going in different directions with what we might call a familiar sound at least. Any particular bands that at present have got you listening and want to recommend?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): Oh yeah, it’s a fantastic time for us right now! There’s so much great new stuff it’s hard to know where to start. The new Alter Der Ruine album, of course, is absolutely amazing. Easily the album of the year. I just saw them with Mr. Kitty, who has totally revolutionized my idea of synthpop. ∆AIMON of course, and some of the crazy acts to come out of the witch house scene, like GuMMyBeAR and Ritualz. Legend, and Necro Facility, who have both basically arrived at the best parts of futurepop by approaching it from completely and utterly different perspectives. The new Cryogen Second EP got to me in advance, and that’s an incredible industrial rock record- and Left Spine Down’s Caution is one of the best industrial rock records of all time, and that’s still pretty new. I’m pumped about the new Cyanotic. I’m pumped about Youth Code. There’s a band called LabXIV that put out this amazing old school EBM EP a while ago that still blows me away. GoFight, who I had the honor of playing bass for at Terminus Festival in Calgary, and Cygnets, a totally unique synthpop/britpop pile of weirdness that I saw there. Encephalon. Mend. Comaduster. Distorted Memory. Older bands who are still putting out amazing stuff like Haujobb, Hate Dept., Covenant… I could go on forever. It’s a great time. And then the chiptune stuff I’ve been absolutely loving lately – our friends Crashfaster have a new disc out right now, Superchroma, and I’m loving Bit Shifter, Virt, Trash80, Slime Girls, and basically everything on the 8bitpeoples label.
amodelofcontrol.com: What does the future hold for EGC. And is there ever a chance of you playing the UK, for example?
(Seriously we’d love to, and I hope it’ll happen in the next year or so.)
Anyhow we’re about to embark on the first leg of our US tour with Crashfaster, so catch us on that if you can. Hopefully we’ll be setting up another leg to that before the end of the year. After that I’m not totally sure yet- I have a pretty drastically different plan for the next album, and it’s gonna be tough to pull off. We might finally manage to piss some people off with it.
amodelofcontrol.com: Finally, how’s Edgar dealing with the new material and a return to the public eye?
Eric (Everything Goes Cold): He’s angry. He’s very, very, very angry. I’m pretty sure he just bit the leg off a 6-year-old at a Burger King, and he’s been pelting people with car parts and watermelons for the past week or so in preparation for the tour. So, you know. The usual.
Everything Goes Cold’s new album Black Out The Sun is out now. The band then go out on a small US tour next month.