Last Saturday, I ended up heavily involved in Stay-In-Fest. As well as DJing an early afternoon set that seemed to go down well (setlist: /DJ/Guest/098), four online/video interviews that I’d conducted with different artists over the previous couple of weeks were broadcast.
/Talk Show Host/066
/Chris Peterson talks about Jeremy Inkel
/Talk Show Host/Links
/Talk Show Host/2019-20
This is the second of those interviews to be posted here, and in many respects was the most difficult interview to conduct. Jeremy Inkel passed away in January 2018, aged just 34, having been a prominent member of both Front Line Assembly and Left Spine Down, not to mention also working with many other bands and DJing too.
Inkel’s relative youth was a striking loss to the wider industrial scene. A career of such promise snuffed out way too early, and the announcement recently of a posthumously-completed solo album Hijacker has just reinforced this. Chris Peterson, his long-time friend and bandmate in Front Line Assembly for a while, graciously agreed to talk about his late friend, and I’ve no doubt that it was a difficult thing for him to talk about. I offer my grateful thanks to Chris, as well as to Jacek Kozlowski at Artoffact Records for helping to arrange this.
All of these interviews will also be available on the /amodelofcontrol.com Youtube Channel, and this one is embedded below.
A note about the interviews on amodelofcontrol.com. This is now a long-running, occasional series, occasional because of the fact that I only interview artists when I have something to ask, and when artists have something to say. I don’t use question templates, so each is unique, too. Finally, I only edit for grammar and adding in links, so what you’re reading is the response of the artist directly. Thanks, as always, to the artist and indeed those that help to arrange such interviews.
This is Adam from /amodelofcontrol.com at Stay-In-Fest, and I’m with Chris Peterson over in Vancouver.
/Chris Peterson: Hello folks, hi Infest, love you guys!
…and I can see your (Infest) water bottle behind you…
/Chris Peterson: (reaches behind him) still on-sale for the lovely price of £9.99…
They get around, they’re everywhere, those things.
/Chris Peterson: That’s my trophy!
So how are you doing, Chris? It’s been a year since we saw you over here, and the world has changed.
/Chris Peterson: Yeah, I miss seeing people at shows horribly. We’re doing good here in Vancouver. All things considered, we’re blessed to be under control somewhat and getting outside here is pretty easy to do right now. Come winter, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult, but we’re hanging in there and can’t wait to see people again, and have this over with. Do what you can, folks, and let’s get this thing done.
I hear you on that front. Missing Infest was the one that really hurt. When that got announced I was like “aw, man, we’re really in this for the long haul, now”.
/Chris Peterson: Yeah, and there was that moment when everyone was trying to save things and postpone things, but yeah, it’s been too hard – the logistics, you can’t see into the future, even next summer is a concern – even if things open up the cost of getting around could be way different. We’ll see what happens, we’ll get there.
Indeed. What we wanted to talk with you about today was the new release that’s coming out on Artoffact, Jeremy Inkel’s solo album that I knew nothing about until it got announced – it seems that he was busy in the backroom, on his own work. I understand that this was a goal of his, that he always wanted to release his own material at some point?
/Chris Peterson: Yes, from the time that I met him, when he tapped me on the shoulder at a gig, way way way back, and introduced himself, he was always working on solo material. His first project was called Binary Holocaust, have you seen anything of that at all?
I don’t think I have.
/Chris Peterson: OK, so he performed as a solo act as that, and it was always his solo thing, and we’ll definitely look at the files on that, and see what was put out and might be still around. He was always working on stuff, and like the more live P.A. set, half DJ/half live performance thing, with keyboards and whatnot, and with Binary Holocaust, and with Hijacker, since we started working together, and on these tracks that he was working on by himself, he became so busy that they were always sat there in the background, like every artist always does – you do everything, you say yes to everything, and your own projects get put aside.
Having heard all these, and when we had the bad news of his passing, and I was helping his father Michel clear up the storage lockers, and putting all the pieces together that were left behind – everything he had, to make sense of all that, Michel said that he’d heard all this music that he does, and he’d like to see that come out, and yeah, I couldn’t say no to that. So we did some detective work, and it was a long process – I’ll just ramble on with this one, because what happened was that he had several computers dotted here there and everywhere, I needed some help from Sasha Keevill who was working with him on the last Front Line Assembly material to track things down, clone the hard-drives and work out what was solo material and what was collaborations, or got used for Front Line Assembly – he had so many songs, so you had to sort that out as well.
But also, interestingly enough, when I worked with Jeremy, he had a dryboard up with all the projects on it, the goals we needed to accomplish, ticking things off always felt good. He carried that on all the years, and he had several photos on his laptop of different stages of his dryboard – so we could look at song titles, and it said “here’s my solo album” in the corner with all this other work and different song titles, it was really detective work through my buddy’s hard-drives, going “OK, I think we have an image of the songs that he wanted to be on this album, let’s find them and see what state they’re in”, and they were in various states of completion. So there we are, that’s the chain of events that led up to “we can do this, it’s gonna be a bit of work, let’s get in there and get it done”.
The first track that has come out from the album has surprised me a little bit, it’s kinda…funky. It’s got this real funk groove to it that I was not expecting in the slightest.
/Chris Peterson: Considering the scope of the album, I was interested in that choice too – that’ll be Jacek (at Artoffact) there. It’s a fun track – we were doing the vocal treatment for that track with Craig Jensen of Living Room Project and my wife Kerry (Vink-Peterson), don’t know if you’ve heard that project, Jeremy always loved what we were doing with that, he was excited for us to submit some vocal tracks for that but it never got finished. What I did find was that he’d organised all those files in such a way that I could actually mix it track-by-track, that one and Hypnotized were both songs in separate folders with every track bounced out so that I could mix those without any fingerprints on it. I’ve heard those tracks a lot, I know what they were supposed to sound like.
Some were more difficult, you had to go through rough mix versions, you could immediately tell that some he didn’t finish that mix, but it was the most finished mix we could get. We just made it as continuous as I could, premastering and that was great. But yeah, that’s a funky track, and that’s him singing on it, too, which is really interesting as when listening to the vocal tracks, and you’re hearing his voice coming through. I’ve had that experience with Tod Law from Unit:187 and the tracks that he didn’t release, trying to finish them.
When you’re hearing your late friend’s voice like that, it’s…different. It’s comforting and haunting both at once, you know? If you look behind me, these are his speakers that he was working on all of that, too. I picture him beside me when I’m mixing sometimes, nodding along…
The boy had groove, you know? He loved his funk, he loved his big basslines and grooves. That’s a funky track, I love it.
Let’s go back a bit here. So, you’d known him for a long time, he just tapped you on the shoulder at a show? This is literally how all this came about originally?
/Chris Peterson: His first foray, he was like barely fifteen years old, and he was promoting a show – Strapping Young Lad and Zimmer’s Hole for his first show, he was punching right over his weight there! He always had a love for the metal scene, too, he was so diverse. So back at that Zimmer’s Hole show, and Tod Law used to play samples with those guys (there was a lot of crossover between the two bands playing, too). Jeremy comes over and taps me on the shoulder, says hey, introduces himself, and I’m like, funnily enough, Rhys (Fulber) is working across the street on some Conjure One material at Warehouse Studios, let’s go drop in on him, and we got talking after that. I thought the kid had a great energy, and he had his own band Left Spine Down with Kaine Delay, and all the miscreants in that band.
They were a sloppy, energetic mess that band, but I thought these guys had great heart, lots of ambition…they’re not gonna be stopped so at the very least I could help them out, drag them into the home studio, and show ’em some stuff. They started sounding better, and we helped them become better recording and producing artists, that was a very early stage.
It’s funny with Jeremy, he’d never just walk into a room, he exploded into it (gestures) pieces everywhere!
It was really fun. I instantly liked him, I worked with his band Left Spine Down for almost five years, I think, with all the singles and EPs, and then the album (Fighting for Voltage), before they went and had Dave Ogilvie produce their last one. He didn’t get pulled into the Front Line Assembly situation until the MSI remix came along, and I had other things to do, so Jeremy and Bill (Leeb) worked on something exclusively together, and took that one home. And Noise Unit‘s Voyeur also started introducing Jeremy to the Bill “camp”, per se. The MSI remix and the Noise Unit work were like, now Bill’s seeing this, and after the time I’d spent with LSD, I thought that yeah, there is something there with this guy that we want to bring in. That’s roughly the chain of events in my eyes. It’s a long time ago, of course, but he was a great guy with these crazy bands and all this ambition, and there was no way he was going to be stopped by anyone, he gets into the Bill machine, and it goes from there, it just went so fast after that. Like I said earlier, he wouldn’t say no to very many projects, so that man got busy in a hurry.
I remember when I first heard Left Spine Down, it must have been on one of the early Glitch Mode compilations (h0rd3z ov thee el33t), ‘cos we heard U Can’t Stop The Bomb on one of them, we were like “Woah, this is great, we need all of this”. But you’re right, there was this energy to them, there was a punk side but there was a hell of an industrial side to it too. It was a riot of all kinds of things going on at once. I never quite kept up with all the remixes they later released, but that (first) album was great, and had an energy like no-one else at the time.
/Chris Peterson: Yeah, it’s funny. The very first thing they put out, before I got my hands on them recording-wise, was a lot of different things. They had so many influences, so it didn’t really sound like one cohesive thing, and then just looking at them, with the energy and attitude, I thought, you guys, if you take drum’n’bass and punk rock, and just smash them together, and kick it down the alley, that’s what I want to go for. Jeremy responded right away with these breakbeats, and then with the guitars smashing in, and we’re like “yep, this’ll work”. The perfect vehicle for their energy, right, and Kaine was very punk-ish too, it was great to see them shape that thing and boy, did it ever go places for them. Touring with RevCo…mission accomplished for them, they had a blast.
Does my memory serve me correctly that he was on the Artificial Soldier tour, so that he came over with Front Line for Infest in 2006? My memory of that show is sketchy at best…
/Chris Peterson: That is the case, around the time that we first started dragging him around with us, with Jared Slingerland on guitar, also from Left Spine Down, Jared left that band at that point. So yeah, he started with that, and I think it was the US Tour, the ill-fated bigger tour that was Jeremy’s first tour with us, though.
We didn’t see Front Line in the UK for over a decade. I missed the 1995 shows for reasons best known to time, when I was younger, and the next opportunity we had in the UK was 2006, and that Infest show, everyone went nuts for it. It was like “wow, it’s our first chance to see Front Line in a decade, we’re there” and they came on and opened with Vigilante and yep, it’s all gonna be fine. And they were so loud, and it was exactly what we wanted. I’ve seen Front Line so many times since, because every time they’ve come back they have this power live, and no matter who’s in the band, or how many are in, there’s a clarity in the sound that few other industrial bands have managed live. Some bands only manage it live and not on record, but they manage both, and I’ve never been sure how.
/Chris Peterson: Quite often the people involved in the production of the record, are also involved in the production on the road. If you look at the sound desk and see Greg Reely, you know it’s going to be a good night. Or Ken Marshall, on it goes. Bill has always had a very high bar for the people that he wants to work with, and how things should sound. It’s not cheap to do that – the money could have been put elsewhere, but when I was in the band, it was put into the production. I remember back in, when was it, 1993, we carried around the video monitor wall, all CRTs, and carrying around all that was a right pain in the ass. The man loves to put on a show, so.
I still have on my shelf the original VHS of Live Wired…
/Chris Peterson: I wasn’t on that one, so… (Gestures to the side) back to the shelf, get another one!
Hey, I don’t have a VHS player anymore, it stays there in the box, right?
/Chris Peterson: Nothing’s forgotten anymore – the internet remembers…
Isn’t it just! Jeremy never seemed to stop, he was always involved in something, there seemed to be this well of creativity. Most musicians I know are like that anyway, but he seemed to be at turbo speed all the time, there was always something he was involved in.
/Chris Peterson: That energy was so magnetic. Everyone’s pulled into it, and obviously with Bill and Front Line, there’s this feeding from that energy. We loved being around that. Much as he exploded into a room, he also lit that room up. So those long days in the studio, those long tours, all of that, you need people like that around you that love what they are doing so fucking much, it reminds you and you see it through their eyes. Maybe I’ve been to a club five, six, seven times, but seeing it with him makes it all new.
Small wonder that he had so many people wanting to work with him. He also had – and this was tested again in the Noise Unit song, where me and Craig Huxtable also worked on that first track Illicit Dreams, where we passed our music ideas onto Jeremy, knowing that…I knew back then that he had this sense of arrangement that was between a musician and a DJ, because he could do both, so he knew when to drop things and to pick them up, so people recognised that pretty quickly, that you could just hand him a bunch of stuff and he’d come back with “Oh, great arrangement, thank you, now it makes sense”.
That made it a quick turnover for that kind of thing for him, too. He’d send you something back within a week and you’d be like “oh, thank you!”. And again, to the detriment of his own stuff. Here we are now, going through really old files, looking through old hard drives to find out what he was doing for himself.
It’s one of those things, isn’t it, you see that and I realise that in the writing that I do, in that I have a Work-In-Progress file, and some stuff that sits on there for years. I sometimes go back to it and go “oh right, I should pick up that thing I left five years ago, because I never got ’round to finishing it at the time”. And I suddenly see what you guys mean, when you say “I’ve got these music stems that I never quite finished, I should probably get ’round to finishing them sometime”, but life gets in the way, we’re not a scene that’s full-time, right?
/Chris Peterson: Yeah, life get’s in the way. I’m one of the only people I know that I work with in this that doesn’t have kids. Talk about life getting in the way, right?
It’s easy to forget that, and for fans to ask “why aren’t they releasing more stuff”, because we have other things, it isn’t just about music. Sure, music is important, but life has to go on, and that means seeing your friends, that means doing what you need to do to survive. Sometimes music has to take a back seat, right?
/Chris Peterson: I might have to take care of something else, things can come up. When you’re a young guy, you don’t care about what you eat or anything else, you could put out an album a week! It’s not that you get older or cranky or slow or anything like that, it’s just like you say, life gets in the way, and people become more and more important to you, I suppose it’s being so myopic, going “I’ve gotta be the man, rising to the top”, which leads me into something. When you do take on that much, that it becomes a health issue at some point. You could see that was becoming taxing towards the end.
Obviously he died so young, what do you think his legacy is going to be? Do you think that’s already known, in the way that he did things?
/Chris Peterson: I was first to speak after Michel at his memorial, and I just threw what I wrote down out there, but I think his legacy…he did what he set out to do and so much more. It doesn’t feel like…he was way too young. And obviously there was much more to come from him, but at the same time, knowing him so young and knowing what he wanted to do back then, and seeing him do it and so much more than even he expected or anyone else might have. His legacy is going to carry on, he did a damned fine job of showing how you can realise your dream. He just wanted to be on-stage, and playing, and meeting people.
Everything he did was the dream. It wasn’t like he needed a record, it wasn’t like he needed a yacht, he just loved music and he loved people. He got to put those two things together in a spectacular way, and he touched a lot of people, so that is his legacy there.
There’s also another part of it, where besides us putting the solo material together there are several collaborations, as we spoke about earlier so many people wanted to work with him, so I’ve made sure files were made available to the people collaborating with him, and there’s a lot of people I know that had “this song” that they were working on with Jeremy that they wanted to finish. So I would imagine, and I hope, and I’m trying to push people to do this, get these songs finished so that we can talk about the wave, as there will be more and more albums coming, even with his band Left Spine Down, there will be lots of unfinished material or tracks that didn’t completed and whatnot to work with. So I’m going to be reminding everyone that I can think of that he worked with that people need to complete those tracks and keep putting them out there. And let his parents know about them too, so that we can channel those into his legacy too.
This album (Hijacker) is benefitting the Food Bank in Vancouver, a great charity that gets money directly into the people that are going to be making a change here, and certainly I’d like to see any future collaborations come through these channels, so that either we can release it when they release it, or send those royalties from that back to the Food Bank.
We’ll see how it works out. I know there’s a lot out there that’ll be worked on, and I’ll be urging them to keep up on it. We were just talking about how tracks get lost in time, but no time like the present.
At that point, we’ll wrap that up here, and thank you so much for joining us today, and Jeremy Inkel’s album Hijacker is out on…the physical version is out 06-Nov – digital on 03-Nov, on frontlineassembly.bandcamp.com.
/Chris Peterson: I hope you all enjoy what you hear, and remember how much this man loved making music, and loved making people happy, and I hope it puts a smile on all your faces in these troubling times.
I’ll no doubt be spinning it sometime soon. Thanks for joining us today, Chris, and hopefully we’ll see you again at Infest sometime in one musical form or another.
/Chris Peterson: I’ve only done two so far, so Craig was saying we’ll change our band name and show up again!
We’ll sign a petition for you to come back again, it’ll be great.
/Chris Peterson: Sounds good, I wanna break the rules, come on!
Great to speak with you, and thanks so much for joining us for this.
/Chris Peterson: Anytime, thank you.
Highjacker is released on 06-Nov on Artoffact Records.