Crazy, Innovative Music
Interview with: Genghis Tron
Genghis Tron are one of the latest Relapse signings, a label famous for its death/ grind as well as for its high-quality inclassifiable outfits for music connoisseurs. Genghis Tron are on the verge of releasing their second full-length, "Board Up The House", an outstanding prog/ experimental album. So Hamilton, responsible for guitars and drum programming, kindly answers a few questions for our 'zine via e-mail.
Q: Hi, I'm Blanca writing for Dark Music Site, congratulations to your new album... are you satisfied with it?
Hamilton: Thanks! We're very satisfied with the album. We spent an immense amount of time writing it (a full year, without working) and a lot of time recording + mixing it as well (25 days in the studio). I'm relieved that it turned out well.
Q: How did the recording/ production process work? Do you do everything on the computer, and then record the live instruments?
Hamilton: We program all of the drums on computers, but everything else is recorded via performance. None of the keyboard melodies are programmed -- they're all performed by Mookie and Michael. It's a very tedious process to record all of the elements for every song!
Q: How do you play your stuff live? Do you play the synthesizers live, or is it pre-recorded?
Hamilton: The live performance is similar to what happens in the recording. The drums are programmed, so we just play them off of a sampler. But other than that, we try out best to re-create all of the keyboards, guitars, and vocals on the spot live. It's not easy!
Q: How did you meet? How did the band Genghis Tron evolve?
Hamilton: We all met in college. The three of us were friends, and Mookie and Michael were roommates. Michael and I talked about the idea of making crazy, innovative music for a long time before we actually took the time to try it out. The two of us wrote a few songs and recorded demos in my dorm room, and when we realized that neither of us wanted to do vocals, we asked Mookie to give it a shot. Thus Genghis Tron was born.
Q: Did you want to do something as strange and experimental as you're doing now from the beginning, or did it just happen?
Hamilton: We definitely had a goal in the beginning to make interesting music which we hadn't heard anywhere else. It remains a goal every time we write a song -- although we've learned that it's more important to write a compelling, powerful song than it is to write a crazy song with 20 different parts. But with "Board Up The House", I think we're getting better at achieving both things -- writing music which is unique, but also compelling beyond that initial quality of being "different".
Q: You make a hard to describe mix of music, what are your influences or backgrounds?
Hamilton: Between the three of us, we have a lot of influences. We all grew up on a wide variety of music...some of our all-time favorite artists are Drive Like Jehu, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Melvins, Meshuggah, King Crimson, Aphrodite's Child, Kraftwerk, Cryptopsy, Immortal, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Burzum, Autechre, Botch, and Boards of Canada. Those are definitely artists who I'd say have directly influenced the music we've written. There are tons more, though!
Q: Your new album includes even more different influences, what inspires you?
Hamilton: While we will always remain influenced by the artists we grew up (like the ones listed above), we're also avid listeners of new music and we love checking out new stuff all of the time -- whether it's newly released albums or old stuff that we've discovered for the first time. So we probably are being constantly influenced by whatever albums we listen to.
Q: Can you tell me anything about your lyrical approach?
Hamilton: Unfortunately the lyrics are taken care of by my bandmate Mookie, so I can't answer that question! I can say, though, that "Board Up the House" deals with a lot of the concerns that the three of us have about the future -- global warming, the energy crisis, American foreign policy, and terrifying levels of global urban expansion, amongst other things.
Q: How did you get on Relapse?
Hamilton: They offered us a record deal in early 2006, about five months before Dead Mountain Mouth came out. We didn't sign with them until the beginning of 2007.
Q: Do you think you've got a chance with the metal/ HC crowd who listens to the Relapse stuff? Or do you get more fans from the alternative scene?
Hamilton: I think Relapse has developed a reputation as a label which releases innovative, unique music...there are lots of bands on the label which are even less heavy than us. But luckily, we don't have to worry about how we're marketed or who we appeal to. It's hard to say which scenes we appeal to -- most of our shows have a pretty diverse crowd of attendees, which is great because we're not from any "scenes" ourselves.
Q: Genghis Tron - what does the name mean?
Hamilton: It's just a stupid joke which our friend Jared suggested to us...unfortunately it doesn't mean anything!
Q: I saw that you've alreday got tour dates for the US, any chance of you guys coming over to Europe?
Hamilton: Yes! We're coming over to Europe in May with Zoroaster and Nachtmystium. Unfortunately, we won't be hitting Spain, but we're hopefully coming back to Europe later in the year and will hit Spain next time!
Q: Last words?
Hamilton: None that I can think of... thanks for the interview and let me know if you have any more questions! I hope Spanish GT listeners dig the new album, and we can't wait to play shows in Spain -- hopefully soon!