EC: I've heard some good things about the magazine.
DV: Feel free to wax on when you want to then ...
Let's confirm that Saviour Machine is in fact a band alive, and never defunct.
EC: We're definitely alive. We never ceased to be. We just kind of disappeared for a while, from the U.S. at least.
DV: That was back in `93?
EC:The last anyone heard from us would have been November `93. When we returned form the U.S. tour, we went back into the studio to work on Saviour Machine II.
DV: So how long were you actually in Europe?
EC: After we finished Saviour Machine II, in the summer of `94, we did our first tour of Germany and we did that tour November/December of `94. And then we also toured Germany and Holland in May of this year.
DV: What kind of places would you play there?
EC: Sometimes large clubs and sometimes small arenas. We'd do a lot of things they called "tech halls" there, and what it is is like a basketball arena, like a college basketball gym. Nice capacity - two or three thousand people.
DV: Kind of like a small dome thing?
EC: More like a big auditorium - a basketball gym.
DV: I recently played in Holland at Flevo Fest and one of the things that impressed me was that for such a small country, they had extremely elaborate and current production.
EC: Yeah, very. That's the most amazing thing about Europe - is all the technical side of the production. Lights, sound ... everything is very accommodating. That's one of the reasons that we really enjoyed touring over there. The level of professionalism is up to par.
DV: Did you actually spend all of that time on the road, or did you set up a temporary residence somewhere?
EC: Most of the time on the road. And then when we weren't on the road, we stayed with our manager. He lives in Germany.
DV: Does anyone have visas and family that they left behind?
EC: Yeah. Everybody's married but Jason. And two ... three of us have children, so it's tough. Actually the show in March - March 25, in Allen, Germany was recorded (this is where the live video and live CD came from) and my first child, my daughter, was born six days before the concert. So she was born and I hopped on a plane three days later. I missed the first month of her life. But I'm making up for some lost time now.
DV: You must have a very understanding family.
EC: Yeah. Definitely.
DV: Well, I'll have to admit that I haven't seen either of the Live or the IICDs, so you'll have to kind of brief me some on those.
EC: I'll send you everything.
DV: I'd be thrilled.
EC:At the end of this interview, I'll make sure I've got your address right.
DV: Especially if they raise any additional questions, it'd be nice to go back to them. Do tell me some about the live show. A lot of our readers are East coast readers and a lot of our readers are Southeast readers, Texas and stuff, so a lot of us have never had any opportunity to see you before in any form. Tell me some about what you guys do when you hit the stage.
EC: I'll send you a video and then I'm sure you could elaborate more than I could, but, yeah, the live performance is very theatrical, to say the least. It's quite a production, I guess. It's kind of like rock theatre and we basically bring the songs to life with visual imagery. The show is very surreal and very intense. I think maybe it'd be better if you saw the video. You could elaborate on it a bit. But our live production is very expensive to put on, and a very elaborate thing, and that's why we haven't done many tours here in the U.S., because there's a certain level of professionalism that's missing from a lot of the venues here in the States. In order to put on a production like this, it takes an extreme amount of dedication. And so far, the European promoters, agents and so forth - crews, all the people on the crews are just amazing. That's really one of the reasons why we haven't done the states for a long time. It's just very difficult to put this on here in the States.
DV: Is the live show something that the entire band has sat down and scripted out together?
EC: Basically we come up with a set list. And while visualizing the set list we keep in mind what songs we know we can bring forth with certain imagery and things like this ... We do try to appease the fans by playing songs we know they want to hear. But a lot of the set is combined with the more popular tunes - combined with the elements that we really like to bring forth in the music.
DV: And what would those elements be, in your view?
EC: Well, like in the set for instance, "Carnival of Souls," and "Legion," and "World of Love," "Jesus Christ," "Love Never Dies," and these kinds of things. These are very popular songs in Europe. I believe "Jesus Christ" actually charted on German metal charts. So we've had a lot of success with a few tunes and they're getting ready to release "Love Never Dies" as the next single. We shot a video for that recently - I'll tell you about that later. But some of our favorites in the set are when we bring more obscure tracks forward - things like, "The Wicked Window" and "The Stand," for instance. It's really kind of crazy to play a seventeen-minute song live - that's kind of the centerpiece of the show. And of course, "Killer" and things like that are always great to play live, so it really is a combination, I guess, of some of our favorites and some of the fan favorites.
DV: How much of the show is actual performance and how much is triggers or timed DATs?
EC: Oh, actually our live performance is 100% live. What we do is strip the arrangements down a bit. If you'll notice on the Saviour Machine records, the two albums have quite elaborate production - choir and things like this, huge string arrangements. What we do is, obviously we don't pull off the choirs live, so we try to avoid songs that have choirs in them, and we change the arrangement a bit and maybe use another instrument to bring that melody forth. But really the string arrangements are there. And with guitar parts, if there is four or five parts in a song, layered, Jeff will usually use a combination of the pieces and kind of tweak the arrangement a bit, but basically in the arrangement process, we try touring forth all of the main parts. It's not quite as massive as the record - it's a bit more raw. But at the same time, all the energy, passion and emotion is there. I guess it's just utilizing what you can out of a five-piece.
DV: That also justifies putting out a live CD, if you significantly change the way it sounds.
EC: I'm sorry. There's someone outside my window with a weed-whacker. Now I've shut it. Will you please repeat that?
DV: Yeah. I just said that that also justifies putting out a live CD, if you significantly change the sound. A lot of people do put out live CDs that really shouldn't even bother.
EC: Yeah, right. I guess on this album and video, you can hear the subtle differences, and it is a bit more raw - but some of the tunes sound very close to identical. And then some of them sound slightly different. But of course any time, Ithink the main difference is in vocals. Live, you change the way you enunciate things. So there's different vocal nuances and things like this. We've had a really really great response off of this live album and we're really really pleased with the production of it. The sound quality is really good for a live album and we're really happy with that.
DV: Did you track it to a Tascam, or some kind of digital machine?
EC: Yeah, it's like a Tascam ADAT.
DV: A D-88.
EC:They did. They brought in three of these mobile units for twenty-four track live recording. And it was all digital, so it's a digital live concert.
DV: Yeah, I think that the Tascam's will lock to SMPTE, which would be your video feed. That makes sense.
EC: Right. Now, on the video, we ended up doing the video completely analog. So it's done old style - It was just too expensive to do it digitally.
DV: Does that also mean that the video had a different mix?
EC: No, actually what we did was, we edited the video analog to th final mix from the CD, and then basically took the master music from the CD and dubbed it back to the video. So basically, we scrapped the sound from the video and put the digital sound back on the video. So it's an analog video with digital sound.
DV: Tell me some about 1993 and what it is that was so controversial in the first place.
EC: I'm not sure. [laughs]
DV: It was to do with the tour, is that correct?
EC: You know, there was probably enough controversy brewing before we ever went out. One of the things ... Before the first Saviour Machine album came out, there was quite a buzz about it. Frontline had done quite a, I guess a push, as far as pushing this image out and stirring up some things. I think there was plenty of controversy before the album even came out, before anyone had even heard it. I think more of that had to do with the look of the band and so forth. Basically what happened was Frontline ... From the beginning we were kind of doomed with Frontline. Two weeks before the record's release date, Frontline went under. And their whole executive staff left. I'm sure the story's been told several times by other artists. The whole executive staff left. The whole marketing team. All the people that had signed Saviour Machine, all the people that we had worked with, developed with, and so forth. The people that shared a vision for Saviour Machine had left and when that happened we were basically sitting there with a big question, wondering where to go from there. The had pumped everybody on the release date of this record it this set it back four weeks. And I think the CDs weren't even available until a month after that. So from the beginning, it was kind of doomed. It never got the full push that it was supposed to. But it really has to do with the fact that a whole different group of people came in and tried to rebuild the company. And that group of people wasn't the group of people that signed Saviour Machine and shared a vision with us. So it was kind of a struggle from the beginning. It would be like, in a way, getting married and, uh ... [laughs]
DV: Waking up with someone else.
EC: Exactly. I couldn't have said it any better.
So what happened is the controversy's brewing and this new company's not even prepared for this. And didn't know how to react to it. And so what they wanted us to do was basically to go out on the road, take a show out on the road, tour to promote the record, and meet people and answer questions. Things like this.
DV: Pretty standard fare for artists on that label. Many others.
EC: Yeah, sure.
DV: Did you attempt that?
EC: Yeah, in October/November of `93. We did some dates here in California and then hooked up with deliverance for a co-tour. And Deliverance and Saviour Machine went on the road for what was supposed to be three weeks. And it ended up being closer to a week and a half to two weeks. Basically the tour was going very responsive -we met a lot of great people and great fans. We were bringing a scaled-down version of the show. I wasn't even in makeup. We basically brought a theatrical show on the road. Saviour Machine has a theatrical temperament, even without makeup and props and this sort of thing.
DV: Were you pulling your own production with you?
EC: Yeah, absolutely. We brought big statues, and a big mask, and a slide projector, and chains and stuff for a stage set. We brought a tour out on the road that we could pull off quickly. The reason I didn't go out in whiteface on that tour was, well it was really two reasons: one was that I couldn't bring my makeup artist with me out on the road - she couldn't get the time off. And the other thing was Frontline wasn't real hip on the idea of me going out with a white face, so they were trying to get us to tone down the controversy, not escalate it. So we basically took something out and had a tremendous response. It was a great tour, while it lasted. It's the infamous tour. Night after night on the road, we were pulling in great audiences and noticing that there was a problem between Saviour Machine and Deliverance, but we were opening the tour, and we were happy to support them, but one of the problems was that after a lot of the shows, the audience would filter out and I think it started to create certain ego problems. It created bad vibes between the bands. We were very excited to be on the road and were expecting much less than it was. We were expecting to be a supporting act and I think that we were very surprised when we went out there and found that there was that much interest in Saviour Machine. And I think it kind of bothered Deliverance to some effect.
DV: And again, this is a very typical thing. This happens often in the world of rock and roll. It's part of the business, and people getting into it know that. Especially with a five-piece opening for a three-piece.
EC: I hate it. I absolutely hate it. You know, for Jimmy Brown and myself were very good friends at the time. He was responsible for helping us hook up with Frontline initially. I don't know whether or not to thank him for that now but ... actually everything worked out great in the end. He really was an avid supporter of Saviour Machine. We visualized this tour together. We came up with the idea of this tour together and it would be great. It just didn't turn out quite the way we had hoped it would I guess. It all came crashing down in Minneapolis. There's been widespread rumors about what actually went on there, but the bottom line is that the tour came crashing down there. We had had great success on the tour. I had booked he tour myself basically, did all the booking and all the arranging. But there was one date on the tour that I didn't book, and that was the New Union in Minneapolis. Jimmy and Deliverance's people booked that show. And I said, "Great."It was a bit out of the way for where we were going, but he assured me that this place was really happenin'. He just said, "We gotta play there -the place will be packed. It's just not an opportunity we can pass up." So he assured me it would be great. And he was right on many levels. We got there. The place was absolutely packed - hundreds of Saviour Machine fans, hundreds of Deliverance fans. Great, great night. The problem was that we felt immediately by the vibe that we got from the people that own the club, [laughs] we got a really bad vibe. We could tell that we weren't wanted there. Saviour Machine specifically was not wanted there. And I found out after the fact that we were never wanted for the venue but that Jimmy had convinced them to put us on the venue. He said, "This is a tour. We're touring together. Saviour Machine has to play." We got out onstage and the place was great. The fans were going wacko -they were a great crowd. And we were just doing what we always do. And four songs into the set, they pulled the plug on us. And I've heard a number of reasons why:this visual imagery, or this visual imagery, or whatever. I've even heard things as ridiculous as, just because we had candles onstage. Absurd kind of things. The bottom line is that they didn't want us there and they were looking for anything they could to get us off of that stage. They pulled the plug and the place just went nuts. It turned into something that was bordering on a full-blown riot think the fans were ready to burn the place down. People yelling things from the audience and throwing things at the management and the bouncers and this sort of thing. Eventually the cops came and Iwas never arrested, but I was held in ... contained for three or four hours on the misdemeanor charge that they wanted to get me for - inciting a riot - [laughs] when what I was actually trying to do was get them to settle down a bit.
DV:So they had told you to stop after your fourth song and you did?
EC: No, they actually pulled the plug. They cut the power off.
DV: And you addressed the crowd from the stage a capella?
EC: I did. I said, "This is a pure example of why I'm standing here today. This is a pure example of the hypocrisy, the judgmental idiocy the plagues our society unfortunately." And then it escalated and people are yelling out, "Let the brother speak the truth,"and "The New Union sucks." [laughs] It was just really comical on a certain level. I can honestly say I've never felt so at the brink of seeing something get so out of control. But there was a certain level that it escalated to that, as the bouncers are taking me off of the stage and clearing our equipment out, it was like a movie. It's just hard to describe. It was a full-blown dramatic event. I think when the bouncers grabbed my arms to take me off the stage, I think that's when people lost it. And so it was just a bad situation. But I yelled something from the stage and told them to stay cool and chill and if anyone wants to hear what we have to say, unfortunately they can't hear the rest of the set, but we can talk to them out in the parking lot or something. They kept fans away from us for hours and hours and hours. You know what was great is that they did everything they could with the police and with their bouncers to keep fans away from us. They kept us basically locked up for hours in a back room. And finally when we were allowed to go outside, I think it was ten below at the time. It was freezing. When we were finally allowed to go outside, a guy came up to us and said, "There's two hundred kids or so across the street at the White Castle," this burger place across the street, and these kids, these fans had waited around all that time just to talk. It was just amazing, and one of the most memorable nights of my life, I can say. You know, to this day, I treasure the fans from Minneapolis, even though it may be a long time before we ever play there again. I can say that some of the best letters I've ever received here have been from Minneapolis and they still come from Minneapolis. That's really cool.
I'm sorry. I made that story really long.
DV: Did you ever speak with anyone of authority from The New Union?
EC: Oh yeah, absolutely. The owners.The owners, personally. The owners personally told us why they pulled the plug and so forth, and they were just convinced that we were heathens. They were just convinced that we weren't of Christ because of the imagery that was on stage. We tried to explain to them the this is art. And some of the imagery is disturbing and some of it is intense, but this is the world that we live in. This is not only a spiritual message, but this is also a very strong political and social statement that we're making here. They just didn't see it that way, I guess. But the bottom line is that there was just too much of a gap between what we were doing and what they thought we should be doing. A very conservative place. A place that brings in Christian metal bands and considers themselves on the cutting edge, but at the same time, how many Christian metal bands are on the cutting edge?
DV: Did you get paid?
EC: That's a great great question. It sounds like you know something about the specifics here.
DV: I don't. But I've been in some situations before, myself. It seems like a valid question from many angles.
EC: You see, we've been waiting for this interview for a long time. There are a lot of things that we've wanted to say about this event, and you've just hit on one of them.
Yes, we were paid off my The New Union - because we obviously took a hit in our merchandise sales, and we were contracted to play for an honorarium that night, they owed us money. They pulled the plug. They locked us up. And they offered us a substantial amount of money to keep quiet about a lot of that. For example, they forced, they ordered Deliverance, specifically Jimmy P. Brown to make a statement from the stage discrediting Saviour Machine and apologizing for us, or they wouldn't let Deliverance play either. They said they would smear Deliverance's reputation with ours. We saw them do this. We saw the owners make this threat and tell Deliverance what they had to say. I can say that that was one of the most difficult things to see. Jimmy and I had a good relationship before that. I loved him. And I couldn't believe that they did that. It was assumed after that that the tour was over. I think we all went home, and Deliverance went back out to try to fulfill a few dates and it didn't work well or something. But we all knew right then that it was over. And The New Union offered us a few thousand dollars as hush money to just leave and not really talk about this. To this day, I feel a bit like I sucked down a few ideals in accepting that. But at the time, we felt like they had us -they had us contained, they had our equipment, they had stopped the show, they had the P.A., and we were hungry and far away from home. And you know how things are on the road. So we took it. And we left.
So anyway ... on to more positive things now.
DV: Yeah, let's. One of the things I was curious about was the process of you purchasing the rights to your material and your new company.
EC: Well, we left off with the first album. After the tour, ended when everything came crashing down in November of `93. We came back and went into the studio, recording Saviour Machine II, off and on. Frontline wanted to release the band, basically. What happened was, when we got back from that tour, Frontline didn't want to have anything to do with us. And they were begging us to leave. The thing is, the only reason that we weren't forced to leave is because we had a contract for two records, on which we had spent a long time negotiating.
DV: And the label didn't have an out?
DV: Now that's weird. Usually the label would have the options, not the band.
EC: Yeah, usually the label would. That's why we had a guaranteed two-record deal with no outs. And I spent a year negotiating that deal.
DV: Well did they do anything like attempt to give you such a diminutive budget that it would be a discouragement.
EC: That's another great one. You know, you've got a lot of insight here. You're asking great questions. What happened here basically is: They couldn't force us off the label. They were ... They hadto make Saviour Machine II. But it didn't say how much or how little they had to put into it. There were certain stipulations from the first contract that said that they had to put this percentage of the royalties from the first record toward it, a usual, standard record deal thing, and basically they did the bare minimum. And see, the bottom line is that Frontline was ripping us off from the beginning. There's no doubt about that. And every artist that's ever been with that label will tell you that Frontline was ripping them off.
DV: I was going to say that this is not the first time I've heard that.
EC: Yeah. There is no doubt. We're talking about false royalty statements, mock royalty statements, funds that were supposed to be available and weren't available ...And as far as the numbers go, I had friends inside the distribution company ...Ihad friends inside two or three different distribution companies, Iwon't name them for certain reasons obviously, that gave me really good ideas of what the numbers were. And [laughs] the difference between fifteen thousand records and six thousand records is pretty astronomical. And we would get statements form Frontline Records stating that we had done six thousand units when we knew, and had people on the inside confirming that it was absolutely much more than that. And then, so it was just bad news. And then we started checking around with other bands on the label and found out that the same thing was happening to them. It was just a bad situation. You know, it's business. And all business, the record business is a nasty business. And I think the most unfortunate thing is to be so naive as to think that just because it's a Christian label, quote-unquote, that it's not business.Unfortunately, that's all it is. And this is nothing against the fans, the kids, the adults that are fans of Christian music. You know, it is what it is and it's here for them. I absolutely feel blessed that I can be a part of this. And Itreasure every one of Saviour Machine's following - friends and fans. But as far as the industry itself, it's a big joke. It's a big joke and it's a big game. It's no better than televangelism or any of the other forms of using the name of God to make money.
DV: It's very interesting to me that you made a point of saying that it's no reflection on the fans, because those are the only people that I know of that get offended when someone ... well, you can call it talks-down or you can call it tells the truth ... harshly criticizes the industry. I do it fairly often myself. But really my criticism lies within the industry. And the people within the industry are so aware of it that they're not gonna be offended. The consumers are the people that get upset, and they are easily the cleanest part of the slate.
EC:And that's kind of the Catch-22, is that the fans, he music-buying public, they want their product, they want to consume, therefore, you can't bite the hand that feeds you. And therefore, they're not going to abolish the system that they've let be created. It's just really a tough situation. I wish there was some way around it. There are little rays of hope because of people like Mike Delaney of RadRockers and True Tunes, and these sort of things, you know. There's rays of hope of ways to get around some of the corporate crap. (Excuse me - but it's a subject that ...well, you can use that word if you'd like. I'll leave that up to you.) Because of certain people out there trying to make a difference, there is a way around some of the corporate identity and some of the red tape. But the bottom line is that people are constantly being fed crap and they continue to take it. Without sounding like a total revolutionary here, there's gotta be something done. And we just got so jaded with it, that `s one of the reasons why we're at where we're at now.
I've drifted far away from what I was talking about, so I'll come back. Got back, went back into the studio, but they made it very very difficult for us to record the record. We engineered the record ourselves. We've always produced ourselves. But we engineered the record ourselves. They wouldn't even provide us with an engineer.
DV: That's astoundingly difficult, especially for your kind of music.
EC: Yeah. We're in a multi-million dollar studio [laughs] with gear the we can't even sound out, let alone figure out. It was quite a learning process. But we basically recorded, produced, and mixed Saviour Machine II ourselves. And unfortunately, with all that work that went into it, Frontline, we had a guarantee in a stipulation of our contract that they would press a thousand copies for us. So they mastered it very cheaply, put a cheap package on it ...our artwork - I gave him some really interesting ideas for the artwork, and our outline of what we wanted, and they tried to do a decent version of it and it came out okay. But the problem is that they mastered Saviour Machine IIhorribly. And that's why we've now remastered it and repackaged it.
So they made it hell for us basically to record the record. We were recording nights because they wouldn't give us days.
DV: Were you in Frontline's A studio?
EC: Yeah, their A studio.
DV: Ah, so they have control over the schedule.
EC: Absolutely. When we recorded Saviour Machine I, we were their babies, you know. We were treated with some sort of royalty. They paid for just about everything and really took care of us while we were in the studio. And with Saviour Machine II, we were sleeping in my Jeep and eating lots of doughnuts. I'll tell you one thing -it was quite a learning experience and quite a trial of the human experience. But we pulled through and that's what makes it all the more special.
Now the development that is really amazing about this whole thing is that this whole tim, during this horrible period, as we're making a record under these forced pretenses, as far as the arrangements, we're making this record and everything is really bad, things are looking really bad for the future, and I was wondering where things were gonna go, and it's kind of like starting all over, it feels like. And then all of the sudden, I start getting letters from Germany. And Imet a man who is now my manager. His name is Matthius Mittelstadt, one of my dearest friends in the world. He started writing letters, saying that he got turned on to Saviour Machine because he knew some people here. He knew people at RadRockers, Mike Delaney's company, he knew some people at Frontline through some former business deals ... he's a music buyer who owns a music store in Germany. And he also worked as a sales representative for Pila music which is a Christian distributor in Europe. So he basically had a lot to do with getting Saviour Machine over to Europe, product-wise. He basically helped negotiate the deal between Frontline and Pila music to license out the Saviour Machine product to Europe. And when that happened, I guess it just went nuts. The letter turned into phone calls soon and in his phone calls, he began to tell me how successful Saviour Machine was doing, and he began to send me these tremendous reviews, very eloquent reviews, by the way, and better press than I'd ever seen before. And we'd seen some good press here in the U.S. before, but sometimes there was a problem with the literature, a problem with the depth of the reviews and so forth. But these reviews were amazing. And he was telling us about how tremendous the sales of the record were and the buzz that was going on over there. And we didn't know what to believe. We trusted him, but at the same time, people are positive in the music industry and they're constantly trying to pump you up with this or that, and this guy was serious and we never really knew it until we first landed on German soil. And his vision for a tour in Germany happened four months after that. Saviour Machine II, right off the bat, went crazy over there. Thousands of copies were sold over there right away and it just took off from there.
What basically happened, getting up to your question, because of that tour, the first tour of Germany, because of that tour and how successful it was, Matthius, our manager, his brother Rina, who is now out co-manager, tour manager, production manager and he does all the graphics and artwork for our records, these two brothers together made an offer to Saviour Machine and said, "Listen,. we believe in this so much that we want to form a label. And we want to buy the rights to all Saviour Machine product." And so what we did was we came up together. They put a tremendous amount of money in, and Saviour Machine raised the rest. And we basically went to Frontline with an offer and bought the rights to everything.
DV: Including your publishing, too?
EC: Everything. 100% rights. And we now own everything, masters, artwork, all publishing, everything. What we did was we found out through friends in the industry that Frontline was going bankrupt. And these rumors had been afloat for a long time. You know, we felt like, God, they're squeezing us constantly. You know, they never say they have any money to do this and then they master our record cheaply and all these things and we just thought they were being jerks about the whole thing. We thought they were telling us they were broke to pacify us and we never believed them. But then we found out that it was kind of true. And we found out that they were just inches away from filing bankruptcy. And the word was that they were going to file bankruptcy the first of `95, the first of this year. So when we got back from the tour in mid-December, right before Christmas, I walked into Frontline and bought the masters. And we bought the rights to our music for considerably cheaper than they were worth because ... I guess it was just a good business move. I mean, the bottom line is, this is how companies get bought out. They were hurting We found out that they were hurting, so we made them an offer that was reasonable, but much less than they would have taken if they were flourishing. And so we walked away with everything and ironically, we probably saved the company. That's the most ironic thing: As much as I despise this company, as much as I would like to see it rotting in the earth, [laughs] I probably had a lot to do with saving it because of buying those masters. That's funny isn't it? So I'm sorry, to the record-buying public.
So we formed MCM Music, which is our label now. And it's a temporary thing: it's our two partners in Germany and Saviour Machine, and we're all partners in this.
DV: I assume the M's are for their names, and C is for Clayton.
EC: Right. Mittelstadt, Mittelstadt and Clayton. So it's basically a partnership of brothers. My brother and myself and he and his brother Rina. And of course the rest of the band, it's just that the MCM logo looked good. [laughs] And so we formed this label, and we're just going from there. Our first venture on the label was to record a live album and produce this live video. And they just felt so strongly about the live element of Saviour Machine that, to use a German term, they were "absolutely conwinced." [laughs] So they were "absolutely convinced" that we should do a live video and shoot a concert and make this available to people. And so we did. That was the first project of MCM was to do the live video and the live CD, and then we remastered and repackaged, and then repackaged Saviour Machine I, and now we're beginning the process of what I would love to end this interview with whenever you're ready, when I've answered all of your questions. I'd like to talk about what we're working on now.
DV: Actually, we are at that point.
EC: We're at that point? In the ballpark?
DV: Yes. I would like to know your vision for Saviour Machine III and a general direction for what is next.
EC: Well, basically, before I answer that question, I'd just like everyone to know where we're at right now with MCM, just to let the fans know what's up. Can I get this? Why Can't Iget this? When can I get this?
Basically, we're doing mail order right now. Delaney carries it. True Tunes carries it. The Berean chain of bookstores carries it. They're almost like a chain of independents. They have been so supportive. I didn't expect a conservative chain to carry our music and when they did I kept expecting a backlash, but they've been nothing but truly representative of what a Christian should be as far as being non-judgmental and so forth. So it is in some stores. A lot of smaller stores are carrying it and I think we've got it in some bigger stores like Long's and things like this, but right now you can buy Saviour Machine products in about thirty or forty stores in the whole country. And it's not much but it's better than nothing. We're doing our own distribution: I'm like up to my neck in work right now.
DV: So you're also fulfilling and collecting yourself too.
EC: Everything. Fulfilling and collecting, myself, that's the hardest part. It's really hard for me to make those nasty phone calls and say, "Hey you owe us money for this and that."I have a real problem doing that. I can't make myself do it. There's thousands of dollars out there that I'm supposed to collect and I can't make myself do it. So maybe I'm not cut out to be a businessman. I never was. I'm put in this situation where I'm doing this not because I want to, but because I have to or nobody else will do it. It's horrible. We're running our production company and everything right out of a little small office right here in California. It's a small distribution company, but you know what, it's working. And the only thing that kills me is just that it's a lot of hard work. We package the packages ourselves. We do all the shipments ...everything. It's fun, but at the same time, it's very tedious. But I think the thing that keeps us inspired to do it is that we know that the product is getting out there to the people that want it. And that's the most important thing. It's a tragedy for people to not be able to get it. So, basically we're just looking at the future. We're gonna do this as long as we have to do it. We're shopping for a major deal right now, in Europe. Our manager is shopping. We have seperate distribution deals all over Europe right now and we're going to stay with this until the right record deal comes along. We've turned down three offers in the last year and ...
DV: Who offered you deals?
EC: We turned down roadrunner, the biggest of the three.
DV: Roadrunner is a stateside label, right?
EC: It's an international label. They have offices in Japan, Europe ... They started bands like Sepultura, Biohazard, and things like this. But they were really interested in Saviour Machine and we negotiated with them for some time.
DV: They've flirted with Christian music for a while.
EC: Yeah they have. They have. But that was one of the problems, was that they just had no vision for how to market it. How do we market a Christian band? We're going, well, don't market it as a Christian band. Just market it as music and people will find out what it is. So we negotiated with them for some time. We've had a couple of other good offers in the last year. We're talking with Massacre right now in Europe . And we're talking with Intercourt Records - which is also a European label And there's one other label and I can't remember what the name of it is. I try ...I don't really stay on top of what's going on right now. All, I know is that there's lots of deals on the table and we're basically negotiating for the best one. I leave that completely to the management because I don't like to have anything to do with it. So they're looking for the right deal. In the meantime, we operate as we will with MCM, and the product is always available. Anything that we have is available through mail order, and we try to make it available in the stores, as many as we can. And more stores are coming, and that's the best thing - out of the woodwork, I'll get a fax and it'll be a new store that says, "Hey, I heard I could get this from you, and we'd love to carry Saviour Machine in the store." So the best thing about it is that we weeded out the meek from the strong. Stores that don't wanna have anything to do with Saviour Machine, that's fine, no problem. We have a very specific database now. We don't have to go out and seek a market. The people that want Saviour Machine seek out us now. Really it's divine order and it really is nicer for us because we're not constantly having to justify ourselves and play this game of can you do this and can you do that. Can you be more conservative? And don't do this because then this store won't carry you and then this store won't carry you. It gives us the artistic vision and the true freedom to follow what God has appointed us to do, and that is do what we do. There's no holds barred as far as restrictions right now. We really love the freedom.
Which really takes me into the last part of this which is sharing with you Saviour Machine III. For the last ten years that I've been a devout and dedicated Christ=ian. I've been a Christian basically my whole life. I was raised in the church and of course drifted away in my teen years and had some severe problems with this and that. That's another interview. I drifted away to the dark side and played around with a lot of things that I shouldn't have played around with. In the end I came back to my father and He brought me out of what I was in and redeemed me. I've been, I would say, a practicing Christian for about ten years. In those ten years, I've made the last seven years of my life really dedicated to the study of prophetic scripture. The study of prophesy started off as a hobby and turned more into somewhere between a passion and an obsession. My study of the Bible and all prophesy regarding the end has been the basis of my life for the last seven years. Saviour Machine is now venturing into what I will call our final project. It's a last chapter. We are composing a trilogy, and there's the irony between Saviour Machine III -it's three records. We're composing a trilogy. It'll be over three and a half hours of music. The term that we've picked up around the band is that it's a soundtrack for the end of the world. We're writing a trilogy -the ultimate concept record of the greatest story ever told. And it is the entire prophetic word on the end brought to music. The entire concept record of all prophesy regarding the apocalypse.
DV: So that would be Daniel and Revelation primarily.
EC: Daniel and Revelation, Ezekiel and Corinthians, I could go on and on. But obviously Daniel and Revelations are the two main prophetic books as far as the end. Ezekiel has quite a bit. And there are some shadows of the end in the four Gospels obviously - the second advent. But the bulk of the prophesy ... there's quite a bit in the old Testament. But Daniel and revelation are obviously;y the key. And it's everything. It's a massive puzzle put together. Also, over the course of this, studied and read a thousand books from people like Hal Lindsey to Jack VanImpton and these kinds of things. Anybody who writes anything on The End, I'll read. You compare your own knowledge of the scripture with their knowledge of it and sometimes you find out that you're in the same ballpark. Many times you find out through the course of study and putting this puzzle together that a lot of people have written great books on the end found many similarities. There are so many things that are truly being seen. It said right in Daniel that it was sealed until the end and that no one would understand the prophesy until towards the end. You realize that for two thousand years, there was only a handful of things written on Bible prophesy. And in the last fifty years there's been thousands upon thousands upon thousands of things written. It's all just a sign of the times.
DV: Well, the same could be said about romance novels. Not all of them were written for noble reasons, and the samples are corrupted if they've read each other's books.
EC: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we're talking about ... I mean think about all the apostasy and the heresy involved in the translation of the scripture. And lots of New Age books on the end.
DV: Nonetheless, you believe that if you were to subtract the effect of pop culture out of the total, there would still be a drastic jump in the awareness of prophetic scripture?
EC: Without question. And that's far from my only reason for believing that we're near the end. The biggest reason is the one major event that happened in our century. It happened when on May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation again. And in 1988, Israel will reach the point of being completely self-governing. That is an astounding fulfillment of prophesy and a necessary event for the remainder of the End Time prophesies.
DV: And you're attempting to score it.
EC: Scares me to death. But we're devoted to doing it. The first part of the trilogy will release around the end of next summer - September. The second in 1998, and the third at the end of 1999. The project as a whole will be called Saviour Machine III - Legend.
DV: Nice wordplay.
EC: There's a lot of angles to the title.
DV: So what about the writing of this? Are you now composing the whole thing? And won't that become problematic when you and the band want to write new material in 1998? Sounds like you've really boxed yourself in.
EC:An excellent question. We have to have a plan, a map of where we're going, but we're writing the music as we go along. Obviously, it does all have to relate, and there is some pressure now to have themes that can bear reusing in 1999, but that's the beauty of it -- each album will sound new and reflect the time, while being a part of the whole.
DV:Daunting task. I don't envy it. Tell me this, then are you going to play a three and a half hour set in your 1999 shows.
EC: Probably not. As we go along, we could play old and new, but what we'll probably do is have a video of the first record on the tour following its release, and the same for the next two. Then, for someone to get the entire visual effect, they could watch them concurrently. That would be difficult, but interesting.
DV: Sounds like you've got your work cut out for you.
EC:It's the most exciting, most terrifying thing I've ever done. Nothing has been done to this scale before and I've often wondered why Christians didn't do it. They are the keepers of this incredible story full of drama and power ...and now I know why - it's enormously challenging. When we're through with this, it'll be time to stop.