Talk Show Host: 042: Cesium_137

As we accelerate into 2018, it is time to resume my interview series. The first one of this year talks to an act who are returning after a few years away, and resuming operations after an unexpected tragedy.

It may surprise some to learn that I’ve been quite the fan of the trance-influenced industrial-electro of Cesium_137 for a great many years, and it was something of a surprise to me to find that a new album was coming at all. Isaac Glendening of the band was kind enough to spare some time to answer my questions, and the images also come courtesy of Isaac and the band.

On another note, part of my plan for this year is to talk to more of the new breed of artists in and around our scene, to find out what is coming next, perhaps looking at the future as much as the past, and that will start over the next month as time allows.

In the meantime, let’s talk to Isaac. It’s some time since the last album (over five years, in fact) since Science and Sound. What’s been going on in your world since?

Isaac Glendening: I took some time away from music to pursue a Muay Thai fighting and coaching career which has been fantastic. Training for a fight occupies so much time and left very little for music and family. Vince was supportive, patient and knew I would be back. I also started teaching music technology to kids in local libraries as a part of the Maker movement and built up a successful program. That work led to giving a talk at World Maker Faire in NYC. Coupled with an academic piece we wrote, our work brought us to being offered a book deal from the publisher McGraw-Hill which my spouse and I just released with them. I try to live with few obligations in order to pursue the things I am passionate about. The problem is, I seem to have an endless well of enthusiasm and tend to be a bit of a zealot, so I’m constantly up to something without any rest. C137 have always struck me as outliers – while you first appeared around the “futurepop” period, I thought there was more of a trance influence to your sound than just about any other band – even though songs like Regrets had a harder edge.

Isaac Glendening: The shift in its own sound came from having deep roots in EBM and synthpop while discovering psytrance as well as other types of dance music. It was strange with the timing of it but I won’t deny that the sound of our contemporaries had an influence in some way. There just no avoiding that music and some of our good friends pioneered that sound. There was also a bit of time between the writing of our first record (Advanced/decay) and Elemental where I was no longer an angst-ridden teenager but an adult out in the real world. The first new track I’ve heard from the forthcoming album Rise to Conquer is Confession, which is perhaps brighter and more optimistic sounding that C137 ever have been. Does this reflect on where you are right now?

Isaac Glendening: If you listen closely to the lyrics, they are far from “happy”, but speak from a place of deep loss. I always loved those bands with the happy tunes but the lyrics were the complete opposite and it tends to show in our music. The whole theme of the album is about rising from crippling emotional issues, recognizing one’s own faults and learning to be a survivor instead of a victim. The theme of loss became more profound to us towards the end of the production, as we were both dealt with an unbelievably heavy blow. Our former bandmate and co-founder, Matt Cargill, had died unexpectedly in his home of natural causes. We almost didn’t finish the work but pushed onward in his memory.

[Ed: I did not know about that. Really sorry to hear this news] What can we expect from C137 in 2018, aside from the album of course, and what are your hopes for it?

Isaac Glendening: We have an exclusive remix on the Electronic Saviors compilation up next. Depending on how well the album does, we will play strings of dates or a tour and are hoping to release a single based on album feedback. I spoke with Vince last night and he seemed very excited as he pays more attention to the social media feedback more. Which is odd because I manage it but never check the stats. Ha! The world of music has changed so much in 6 years….with this album I have made conscious decision that I’m just going to let this monster loose upon the world and see what happens. The industrial “scene” has changed immeasurably since the release of Science and Sound in 2012. What’s your take on what C137 are returning to?

Isaac Glendening: I honestly have no idea and that’s kind of cool with me. Being out of touch, I think, helped me to put forth my best work to date. I’m not trying to be aloof, trust me when I say that I am not that cool, but I need to remain in this little exile state as much as possible if I want to continue to write what makes me feel fulfilled personally. Vince is far more of an extrovert than I am and is sort of my link to that world. He fills me in on things and I still listen to some of what comes out thanks to Spotify but that’s all sorted by their algorithm. It is very much a scheme of selective exposure for me. I understand that you were pretty young when C137 was formed. What inspired you to form a band at that point, and what are your memories of your early experiences and influences?

Isaac Glendening: Matt was the driving force behind it at the start. He encouraged me to write music, pushed me when I secretly felt low and was happy to be a part of it all. Matt and I played everything from punk rock squat houses to opening for Covenant and And One on a big stage. I look back fondly on our beginning and especially around the time Vince joined us. Vince and I take turns being a bit crazy, it is a good balance and often causes some interesting situations. Vince and have had our share of dealing with crazy situations in life and on the road for sure. Looking back, I went from living in a closet where I slept on a couch next to my gear and having to use my Mother’s living room as a rehearsal space to owning a pretty sick production studio that takes up an entire floor of a house. We have toured while making loads of friends, had so many adventures along the way and I wouldn’t change a thing. You then reissued a lot of your earlier material about a decade ago. With the benefit of some distance from it now, what do you think of those songs now?

Isaac Glendening: I always ask myself, “what was I so angry about?” Music is therapy for me, it’s bloodletting and so I bleed the demons out and move on. I think technically they are good songs and I’m fond of about 90% of them. I really enjoy some of our slower pieces and what Vince and I do with the four part harmonies. I would love to go back and re-record a few pieces with new ideas in play. Away from your own band, do you listen to a lot of other music – and if so, what?

Isaac Glendening: I listen to a few bands such as Empathy Test because they are brilliant with their simplicity and beautiful sound. Some other bands I dig currently are Battletapes, HEALTH (in love with them), Joywave and of course IAMX. I’ve been making a return to older Diary of Dreams records as well but probably because it’s winter and the season always puts me in the mood for that music. If I want to pick myself up I listen to Panic! At The Disco (blame my son for that one) or The Weekend because their music just makes me smile.

Rise To Conquer is out on Metropolis Records on Friday

Leave a Reply