Interview with Crash-Scan

Interview recorded on 30/10/2015

Ezekial - Photo by Lenscraft Media
Ezekial – Photo by Lenscraft Media

Altearoa:
How did Crash-Scan get started?

Ron:
I sort of started it just making stuff on the computer. Me and my mate Hoani wrote a few tracks and showed them to Bryan. I was going to play bass originally and Hoani was going to play guitar, we found a vocalist but he moved to Melbourne. Then Hoani and I found Bryan for keyboard, so I moved to vocals, Hoani moved to bass and we had Kate on guitar.

Bryan:
Hoani was originally the guitarist, then he left, and moved to bass. Kate, my partner, came in on guitar for our first live show. We tried to find a vocalist but they were all a bit shit or ended up not being keen, so we decided Ron could do it.

Ron:
Even though it was a bit shit, better the devil you know.

Bryan:
That was 2006 when I got asked to join, with the first live show in 2008 and our first album release in 2009. The album was pretty much done in 2008. The writing process is very different for Crash-Scan, the recordings are finished before we attempt to play them live, and it’s not the sort of stuff you can jam because of the electronic elements. Especially the drums and often because everything is so cut up and re-sampled and fucked around with, sometimes it’s not playable live, especially some of the guitar riffs. The guitarist has got to learn shit that’s been cut up and spliced and reversed.

Ron:
I’ll come up with a riff and if I don’t like it I’ll just start chopping bits out of it and then putting it back together until it’s something better instead of sitting there trying to play it.

Bryan:
Sometimes it’s a bit fast, a bit weird, but that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to make the music you like rather than limiting yourself to what you can do live. That was definitely something with the second album, we put more of an emphasis on writing the songs the way we wanted to. As opposed to the first album that was a lot more, we have a guitar line, we have a keyboard line, a bass line, and we can’t add anymore because we can’t play it live. Whereas we’ve got multiple guitars in the second album, I’ve started playing guitars live as well. With the first album we could pretty much play the whole thing live if we had a drummer. With the second album there’s just too much there for the five of us to pull off live, could probably do it with seven, just a couple more people on samples and drums.

Altearoa:
What sort of influences do you have?

Ron:
It’s probably changed quite a bit over the years. To start it off I guess it was kind of Ministry, Nine Inch Nails a bit of Meshuggah. A lot of different metal and industrial really.

Bryan:
From a production standpoint I’d say some of the earlier industrial like SPK and Test Department, Skinny Puppy. Early Ministry, not early, early, Ministry, but after their synth-pop phase. More recently Front Line Assembly especially their album I.E.D. My intro to industrial when I was younger was probably Shihad’s Churn album. I didn’t have much exposure to underground music at that point. Churn put me onto Killing Joke and that put me on to things like Sisters of Mercy and Skinny Puppy and it went on from there. We try to incorporate the cut up sampling from the early experimental stuff in the seventies, Throbbing Gristle and stuff. I don’t like listening to Throbbing Gristle but I like what they were doing.

Ron:
It’s the same with Author & Punisher, I didn’t really like a lot of their albums until the recent one, but I liked what he was doing, building all his own machines etc.

Bryan:
It’s the processes and the concepts that I’m really into even if I might not like the result. To me that’s what industrial is about, taking things that aren’t meant to be music and turning them into music, it’s a bit diluted these days with sampling being so prevalent but those early guys were taking machines and tape-loops and turning them into interesting rhythms, power tools, smashing things up.

Ron - Photo by Lenscraft Media
Ron – Photo by Lenscraft Media

Altearoa:
How would you define Crash-Scans music?

Bryan:
I call it Post-Industrial metal because I want to differentiate it from industrial and industrial metal. I see the term industrial as much earlier, the late seventies to the late eighties.

Ron:
The post-industrial era was more things like Skinny Puppy through the eighties and nineties.

Bryan:
We do take influences from industrial and post-industrial. Industrial has turned into a word that encompasses far too many genres, people use it to refer to modern EBM which I don’t think bears any relation to industrial what so ever. Aggrotech and that sort of thing. We do take a lot of influence from metal riffs and time signatures but we bear very little relation to the industrial dance scene.

Ron:
I don’t think we really sound anything like the big German industrial metal or industrial dance music.

Altearoa:
So what kind of audience are you looking for?

Ron:
We’re not looking, really, for an audience. We’re just making music and if anyone wants to listen to it, that’s cool, if you don’t you don’t have to.

Bryan:
The whole reason for the band was making music that we wanted to listen too. If we want to listen to it I’m sure there are some other people that enjoy it. We’re not really looking at a market, which is probably bad when it comes to getting our music out there, but if we made what people were in to it would be boring for us because it’s not what we’re into. It would be more commercially successful but fucking hell if you want to be commercially successful make some pop music or dubstep or something. Why water down the music you want to make to reach a market and not go all the way. If you want to make money go make money. We’ll probably never make anything out of music but at least we try to have some integrity, artistically.

Altearoa:
Is there anything or anyone that has really helped you along the way?

Ron:
My sister Rachel, she gave us a big chunk of money to release that first album, which was pretty cool.

Bryan:
Rachel’s been a pretty big supporter. Greg from Valve as well, just because he let anybody play, let us play. Our first show was actually a Shadowplay show, so those boys, Brad, and Duncan, we’ve played with them, with their bands or at their shows many many times.

Ron:
Nocturne

Bryan:
Nocturne were pretty cool, they did a feature in one of their magazines about us, we played one of their release shows up in Auckland as well.

Vivian - Photo by Lenscraft Media
Vivian – Photo by Lenscraft Media

Altearoa:
Would you say it was a supportive scene in New Zealand?

Ron:
There isn’t really even a scene.

Bryan:
It’s not big enough. Some people are supportive, some people aren’t.

Ron:
Who are we playing too really? There’s metallers and goths but not really a post-industrial metal scene.

Altearoa:
No rivetheads?

Bryan:
No, theres not really a rivethead scene. The thing is the rivetheads were into their music in the early nineties and they’re sitting at home now, most of the time they don’t even know that people are making music like this out there, live. They’d come out if they knew it was going on but it’s hard to get the news out there. It’s similar to something I’ve been doing with the Noise.Drone.Repeat nights at Valhalla. It started out really small, but after I went to a Merzbow show at Bodega and the place was packed, I was astounded that there were that many people out there that would be keen to listen to harsh noise. I just didn’t think it was going to happen. The Noise nights have gotten a good following now, comparatively.

Ron:
What has been really good about noise nights is all the different genres. Indie bands and metallers coming out and making noise. All these different scenes coming out.

Bryan:
You have the jazz school guys coming to it from a purely intellectual standpoint, the black metal drone guys doing sort of freeform ritual stuff. These different scenes coming out, performing, and appreciating the music on the night. There are so many people that don’t know this stuff exists but it’s starting to get out there and become its own scene.

Altearoa:
Would you say that’s one of the biggest issues, just getting people to hear about what’s going on?

Bryan:
Absolutely, everything is so over-saturated on the internet, nobody looks at event notifications any more.

Ron:
And there are desperate self-promoters out there that just make people bored with the whole thing.

Bryan:
We’ve always been kind of shit at promotion.

Ron:
But we’d rather be shit at promotion, than look desperate spamming shit all over the internet, because people just aren’t going to read it.

Bryan:
Any one that sees our facebook page will know that we don’t spam people, we’re really mellow about it, not pushing stuff in people’s faces all the time, because I hate that.

Ron:
I think I’ve blocked a lot of people for doing that sort of shit.

cs4Altearoa:
What other problems have there been?

Bryan:
Other than apathy? Jobs, day-jobs, trying to be creative after working a day is pretty fucking hard.

Ron:
I don’t work very much so I try to dedicate a lot of time to making music and getting shit sounding good. The hardest part of Crash-Scan was really the start. Getting members, once we got the ball rolling, it wasn’t that hard to replace people when we needed to.

Bryan:
Our members have changed a fair bit. It’s been Ron and I primarily.

Ron:
At the core. Hoani and I were the core members at the start now it’s me and Bryan and whoever else is around.

Bryan:
Vivian has been with the band for some time now and was involved heavily on the last album. Pretty much all of the members have played both bass, and guitar, at some point. So they’ll switch from one to the other and we’ll get another bass player in, or another guitarist in. There’s been a lot of change in the line-up.

Altearoa:
What sort of advice would have for people starting out?

Bryan:
Just get out and do it because there is absolutely nothing stopping anybody. Regardless of the amount of money you’ve got… well maybe not completely regardless of money.

Ron:
If you’re skint you’re a bit fucked.

Bryan:
No, if you’re skint, you can go to the library and use their software. Do stuff with online audio programs, you can do it and release it without huge amounts of money. There is nothing stopping you from making music and releasing it on the internet. I mean it’s definitely nice to have good gear but there is a lot of free stuff out there.

Altearoa:
What has been your best moment with Crash-Scan?

Ron:
The gig after that show in Christchurch.

Bryan:
Yea, after playing to nobody in Christchurch we had a fantastic gig in Wellington where everything just went off. Big crowd, everybody was receptive, loved it. That was actually the Horrorlition gig which was a bit weird because normally large lineups, with seven or eight bands, normally that sort of gig is terrible to play. It was just a great crowd and it really felt so much better than playing to five people.

Altearoa:
What about your worst moment?

Ron:
Opening for Cripple Mr. Onion. The laptop fucked out, we only get three songs in, and we couldn’t continue.

Bryan:
That was terrible, we tried to continue, rebooted all the machines, got 30 seconds into the next song and it all just collapsed again. We had to just walk off stage after three songs, which was really shit, it was a gig I’d been looking forward to for ages because I really like Cripple Mr. Onion. Just felt a bit embarrassed by it I think. That was the night I broke my keyboard stand.

Altearoa:

Stephanie - New Percussionist Photo by James Peryer Photography
Stephanie – New Percussionist
Photo by James Peryer Photography

What are the future plans for Crash-Scan?

Bryan:
In about a months’ time we’ve got a new EP coming out. Five song EP, it will be released digitally for free, and we’re releasing it on cassette as well. Just to take the piss and be a bit of contrast to our last USB release. So next one I guess we’ll go backwards further and release it on vinyl. Probably get some lathe cuts from Peter King down the country.

Ron:
I wonder if we could write out some piano tabs. The ones that you feed into the piano.

Bryan:
Player piano stuff yea that would be cool. A little further away working on the new album with our new percussionist. We don’t have any songs for that yet.

Ron:
But we’ve got heaps and heaps of little bits and pieces.

Bryan:
So we’ll push those together into something when we can. I know Ron wants to do an album, I’d rather do an EP, just to get it out faster. When you’ve got that many tracks to produce it takes a while but we’ll see.

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