By Brett Powell
B: You went off your medication to record Alien – how did that affect you and the recording process?
Well it taught me a lesson; it taught me that I needed it. The whole process of this record was going through this big …like is this really something that is necessary? Then I went off of the medication and… it was just TOO MUCH - ALL the time. And that’s what this record is about, about finding all those limits…and the last track on it, the noise track is supposed to be about what you find out, and what you find out is that you can’t handle it. The record is an exercise in going “well let’s just prove to myself whether or not I can handle it.” The kid screaming at the end of the record is supposed to be like going “nope, cant handle it” its just the chaos of it you know…It’s just too much all the time, I find myself fighting myself and not sleeping. I find myself now back on a lower prescription and I found that I can now feel as much as it to where I need to be productive, not to where it’s overwhelming me. I’m manic depressive. I think what happened is that when I was in my mid 20’s I took too much acid. I think I screwed up my brain. I was too old to take all this stuff in and it all just kind of affected me too hard. I came out of it almost with too much information, and I think that in life with too much….the end result of knowing too much just makes it more difficult to pee, and order coffee. Because life doesn’t change. Even if you did find the secret of life, and the secret of life was really bleak and horrible, even if that was the case…you’d still have to live…or you’d have to kill yourself…and with that mind…you just have to…I guess… know your limits. And I didn’t until this record.
B: Does music really help keep everything together for you?
Music is always the after effect of something that has been happening in my life. So if the stimulants for the particular year have been calm and placid, I end up writing things that are a reflection of that. But if I have a year that’s really topsy turvy or chaotic and over the top then the music ends up being a reflection of that. Luckily I’ve got enough musical outlets that I can devote those particular emotions and feelings to certain things. It’s like … vomiting, it just comes up, and some days it’s this, some days it’s that. Sometimes I listen to my music from my old days and its like “holy shit dude…” and other times I listen to my music and its like “Aw dude that’s great” and other times ill listen to my music and go “eh”. But you can’t really control your music all you can control is putting the effort into making it a reality. As a musician I find that until I actualize the music it rolls around in my head and it just gets stuck there. And you’re just stuck with songs in your head, but if you record em and get em out...like last year I had a really weird year so I made a really weird record. But having made that weird record I can sit back and go OH --TESTING LIMITS… EXPLOSIONS…OVER THE TOP… LOSING IT…LOST IT…INFO DUMP…END! GREAT -- Alright…Nowww I can make a record that’s really beautiful, that’s really happy and uplifting and use things that are designed to make you feel really nice…but after that I might go write a pop-speed metal record. Its like I write stuff until I get bored of that scene, and then I write something else. And those scenes I get bored of…how quickly I get bored of it depends on what stimulants I have in my life.
B: Is producing bands more of a love to you then performing?
Not at all this is the first tour that I’ve been on that I’ve realized there’s actually a scene that accepts what I do. I’ve had my head so buried up my ass for so many years...people don’t know what we’re doin. People still don’t but there starting too and as a result of that I’m kinda like goin “cool!”
B: The live set was really impressive, the crowd really enjoyed it.
D: Ya it really is, and the response has been like that consistently throughout this tour…this tours good for us because there’s a lot of bands that aren’t like us...so when we do come on it’s like “what the hell is that?” Whether or not people like it…there gonna take notice. This last Strapping record is a weird one but it’s good because its really honest. The Strapping entity has always been a huge outlet for us…it’s like sometimes I’m playing on my computer and I’ve got some crazy plug-in on my recorder that does some crazy shit that you’d never use cause its so like…fucked up...but I always think wouldn’t it be great to have a band that could use that as a feature. Because it doesn’t matter if it’s fucked up, as a matter of fact the more fucked up it is the better. So with Strapping...the sky is literally the limit. When you got a drummer like Gene, and a guitar player like Jed…and everyone getting in there and contributing you got collectively 80 years of metal knowledge. It’s just something that keeps outdoing itself. “Oh yeah? Well ill do this…Oh yeah? Well ill do that...Oh yeah? Well ill do that…” and at the end…me as a singer, I bug out… I fuckin freak out …and make static noises…and then on to the next record. As a form of that kind of cathartic relief…Strapping is great for me cause when you want something to bring it, it brings it, if you don’t then don’t listen to it, listen to something thats nice. But there’s just sometimes when you want to crank it, you want it to say certain things, and Strapping says those things. The whole release of ALIEN…it never pats you on the back…it never gives you an “oh it’s ok” cause it’s unrelenting, and fucking horrible…but sometimes life’s like that.
B: What do you think of the new Darkest Hour CD you produced?
D: Its great…it makes me want to listen to it, which a lot of discs don’t. We worked on getting everything really tight…they didn’t want to change their style cause they’ve been doing it for so long. But if you start having pan flutes – and gnome singing background vocals, people are gonna be pissed at me. So I was just like let’s make a tight version of you guys, beginning and ending, tie it all together. I really like it, it’s not a style I’m totally into but I think it’s really cool.
B: Of all the bands you’ve worked with – Soilwork, Lamb Of God, etc. who’s easy to work with and not easy to work with?
D: I’m good with working with crazy bands…because I’m crazy too...well I’m not crazy, but I can definitely relate to people who are so.... I usually get the call for the freakazoid bands like “whhhaaaaooooaahhhhh!!” at the same time, the studio becomes a big puzzle, and it takes a lot of delegating and work to sort of make all those pieces from a hundred different places of work to come all together into one song. The process I find super rewarding. I really love learning more and more and more about computers so I do all my recordings digitally. I’ve never worked with an asshole, in any of the bands I’ve ever worked with. I’ve lucked out.
B: Are you planning on making the next Strapping record even crazier?
D: No, less. The whole idea for the next one is – fun…black-metal-pop. Not even black metal, that real extreme sense of caustic sound...mixed with big choruses in 3 and a half minute long songs. Every Strapping record is gonna be different. There’s no way we’re gonna do City 2, SYL 2, Alien 2, each record is definitely Strapping, just Strapping in a different time. So people can expect from Strapping something constant and different at the same time.
B: As far as being a producer, who do plan on working with in the future?
D: Well I’ve been pestering GWAR…there always like “…never know…could happen…” I’ve got tons of things goin, but I don’t consider myself a producer yet. I’m gonna be a producer when I get older and get finished w/ performing music. Right now I produce friends stuff. Even if it’s not for a friend, it’s for a friends...friend. and those projects I’m doing are making me the producer that I know I will be so that when I start sitting down and doing it FOR REAL like...this is my studio, and we’re doing it this way. Then I’m gonna have it down to such an art people are gonna come to Vancouver expecting a certain product.
B: What’s most important to you outside of music and what sacrifices have you had to make for music?
D: Trace…my wife. I’ve had to make tons of sacrifices…I’ve been on the road for 7 of the 11 years we’ve been together.
Trace: 14 years hun.
D: Oh, haha, 7 of our 14 years together. We just hope it gets more popular to justify what we’re doing.