and how did Cesium_137 get started?
In High School actually, I ran the electronic music lab and Matt was
to be my successor after I graduated. We became good friends and started
working on music together. Then once I graduated I saved up to get my
own gear, and we eventually started a band. We kept it pretty much secret
for a bit, as both of us were really sick of local bands who had potential
but their attention starved egos made them braggarts with nothing more
than a band name. Eventually we were ready, and picked up Vince as our
live drummer....now he is 1/2 of the "band".
Matthew Cargil is no longer with the band. What was the reason for his
I just don't think Matt was happy with the state of things. Our old
label was sitting on the first album for well over a year, and every
time we asked about a release date it was a different story. When those
songs came to press most of them were like 3 years old. How can anyone
be excited to promote music they've had in stock for so long? There
were other issues in his life as well, and this prompted him to join
the Navy. In fact, the odd coincidence is that he swore in to the Navy
on 9/11. I called him up and was like "Do you realize what happened
today?", and his response that it was an even better reason to
join up. He is very happy now, keeping democracy safe.
Vince: I joined Cesium originally as a live electronic
drummer to add to their performances after being approached by Isaac.
At the same I was working away at another local EBM band. I was in both
for a while, even playing twice in one night once when we both were
booked together. The other project I was in came to an end, because
my newer songs were becoming too complex. Where my old band rejected
these ideas, Isaac embraced what I was coming up with; thus my role
with Cesium increased to a full time member. A role where I could write
freely and unrestricted.
Why did you leave Tonedeaf Records?
You could say it was creative differences, or a difference in work ethic.
Either way it wasn't pretty. To put it simply, "professionalism" is
key to me, if it isn't there, then I leave. I handle all of the business
aspects of the band, and my wife is the accountant; and we both saw
that Cesium_137 was on a sinking ship career-wise. Don't get me wrong,
a LOT of good was done on that label when some modicum of focus existed,
but then it just faded hard.
Vince: It was becoming apparent in the closing months
of the work on "Elemental" that Tonedeaf was in trouble, because
the other acts on the label had albums that were not being put out anywhere
near on time, and things were becoming highly unorganized. We were putting
a large amount of time and money into the new release with what I felt
were the best ideas we've come up with yet. We were working together--better
than we ever have, and when Isaac started expressing a serious concern
for our future, I agreed based on what I saw. It was a little more difficult
for me however, because the owner was a long time friend.
What brought you to Metropolis Records?
Well, we knew the guys down at the office and passed along demos from
"Elemental" to them, and they were just really excited about
the music. Next thing I know they put the demos in the hands of the
owner, Dave Heckman. We completed the album in the meantime, and he
picked it up.
How would you describe your new album "Elemental"?
It is the true face of Cesium_137. This album is a blend of EBM, anthemic
trance, hard IDM, and a good synth pop base to work on. Honestly, we
don't really listen to much of the new industrial stuff out there. I
have a few favorites of the new generation, but we are pretty much fans
of all types of electronic music. We basically drew upon these influences,
as well as our classical music backgrounds and took off from there.
We listen to everything from BT to Kenna to Erasure to Infected Mushroom
to Paul VanDyke...so if all of those guys got together and put out a
record...well that's "Elemental"..at least to me.
Vince: "Elemental" to me is a series of musical
concepts that attacks specific genres of electronic music. I particularly
did not want the cd to be the same style throughout. I'm a person who
obsesses over dance music, and like such a wide array of it. The concept
of it being an "industrial", "EBM", or whatever other stereotype that
the underground scene puts on it had no bearing on me when I was writing.
I wanted each track to not be your typical dance song, but to be an
emotional experience where a world could almost be imagined. I'm someone
who enjoys everything that is sci-fi, and fantasy a great deal and I
wanted that part of who I am apparent in the songs. To simplify, the
goal was to take the listener on a musical journey. If you notice many
of the songs have emphatic bridges, as well as a multitude of chord
progressions. I think that this allows the listener's subconscious to
really rise up to a higher, thought-provoking level during the tracks.
The experience thus achieved is then larger than just the typical pop
song. I also don't listen to any Industrial-type music these days, the
scene to me seems to just be recycled material taken from the trance
and techno scene 5 years ago. However, as our scene copied facets from
others and become an inflated fashion show, other dance scenes have
grown exponentially as well as the complexity of their music. It amazes
me that fans of this once great underground scene can tolerate it.
How did Andreas Meyer (Forma Tadre) and Bruno Kramm (Das Ich) get involved
with production work for "Elemental"?
Vince and I were both too busy at the time to handle all of the production
(although we did most of it), and needed to outsource some of it. However,
outsourcing a creative property is a bit heavy a task, as it is "creative".
So we went out to a bar one night, had a few drinks and talked about
the new direction we were headed in, with a few songs in production
already. We mapped out song structures, voicings, and influences...it
was a very "scientific" process really. A lot of artists in this scene
think they can handle the whole production process, and have really
lowered the bar regarding production value. We think that a composer
can often get "too close" to a particular song, and his judgment is
then clouded. From there we jumped off the idea of "who would we like
to work with". What was great was that we didn't care who was popular
at the time because we were fairly disconnected from all of that. So
we knew Bruno has an extensive classical music background, and would
be able to handle two of the tracks we had been working on. There is
a heavy amount of articulation in the chord structures and voicings
of those tracks, and I couldn't think of anyone else who could handle
that. Andreas Meyer has been a hero of mine for many years, while Vince
hadn't even heard much Forma Tadre material. Andreas had just completed
remixes for our friends Daniel Myer and Tom Shear, and here I thought
he must have either retired or sacrificed his life to some elder god.
So I got his e-mail, we began correspondence regarding the direction
of this new album, and spawned perhaps our most fruitful relationship
with a Producer to date. We have become great friends with Andy in the
last year, and are currently working with him on new material. He is
just an all-around solid guy.
Vince: Yes, I would like to add that working with Andreas
Meyer has been an extreme pleasure and I think great things will come
of our coordinated efforts in future compositions; because our visions
of electronic music are very similar.
Some songs on "Elemental" have additional vocals provided by Petra DeLuca.
She has a beautiful voice that compliments the songs she's featured
on. Are there any plans to make her a permanent member of the band?
We love this girl. She brings such life to the mix of Cesium_137, and
totally rocks on stage. In fact, we have written new parts for her to
our older material, really putting her wide vocal range to good use.
As for becoming a band member, Vince and I have a real strong vision
of how we see things, we compose in unison, so it would really disrupt
the flow to add another composer to the mix in terms of song-writing.
Vince: yeah, at the very least we do have plans to
use her on future tracks, and we see no end to her and Eric Shans performing
with us live as they add a great amount to the show. We are a "band"
that is always in a state of practicing for playing out; because we
think watching a band perform their material on stage is just as important,
if not more, than listening to the cd.
What band(s) would you like to remix? And what band(s) would you like
to remix Cesium_137?
Remixes are my thing, Vince really just comes in on the end of those
projects. We would love an And One remix...man those guys really make
a great effort in their remixes. Personally, I would love an Atom Heart
remix...maybe get him to go with the Lassigue Bendthaus flow he established
years ago. We have worked with a lot of great remixers already. In fact,
we are sitting on Imperative Reaction and Haujobb. remixes that were
supposed to be on an EP that is long extinct. We are looking for a way
for those mixes to see the light of day soon.
Vince: I'm actually not a big fan of remixing. I think,
on occasion, there's a time and a place for it, but too often it just
seems to be a quick way to make money. I do on occasion remix when someone
specifically asks me too by name; such as the Australian band Paradoxx.
Those songs end up sounding so different from the original the Isaac
and I have termed a new phrase for them, called "redos". I guess if
I had my choice of any band to remix it would be ones that I always
admired when I was into the scene like Nitzer Ebb, Erasure or the Petshop
boys. Perhaps from the style of music that I'm into now maybe Tiesto,
Ferry Corsten, or Paul Van Dyke.
Are you involved with any other music projects besides Cesium_137?
I actually am working on my BA in Music Industry at Drexel University,
which puts me in touch with a lot of different artists. I do production
duties for various types of bands, but my favorite project to produce
is Phenotract. I produced half of their album entitled
"Within a Second", recently released on Tinman Records, and
it really explores areas of House music, Industrial, and IDM. I did
a lot of sound design and percussion on that disc, and am very proud
of the way it turned out.
How do you feel about the current state of the industrial, EBM, synth-pop,
darkwave music scene?
It's really all just one big collage anymore, isn't it? And is mostly
stagnant. There are a few artists out there, like Seabound, who are
really doing something different! But with every band that makes its
mark, brings something new to the table, there are like twenty that
do nothing but rehash that sound. The fact that some of these discs
receive the amount of praise they do is appalling. You have Haujobb.
who just releases disc after disc of pure genius, and they go less noticed
than some of these guys who are doing nothing but generating 90's techno
with thick basslines, and a sad little boy who "didn't get the girl"
making a weak attempt to sing on top of it. Then you have these bands
that have been putting the same album out for ten years now, and they
live off of this shit. I want nothing to do with that.
Vince: I haven't bought any music in that genre in
quite a long time and have no desire to. I agree with Isaac's view that
its just all rehashed material, quite literally from dated techno. I
guess my best assessment is that somewhere along the line a few years
back someone got elements of Trance music, watered it down for the Goth/industrial
scene, put odd lyrics to it, and put it out. To people who have never
heard real, underground Trance music, it must have sounded new and fresh.
Then these other bands that wanted to survive in the new era of only
a handful of major labels were forced to copy it. So now they make up
a bunch of different titles for it like "future pop" or whatever else.
Meanwhile... Trance, House and Techno music has blossomed out of just
the warehouse rave scene of the 90's, and has exploded into this whole
new arena where the music has gone far beyond Industrial in terms of
complexity, production and sound design. For people who really love
dance music, like myself, it's actually a very exciting time. As the
music is just advancing...exponentially. So it just amazes me how people
in the underground scene we to cater to openly accept the same dated
material over and over. It's a shame really, that it's just been reduced
to an over the top fashion show, and the focus taken off what is actually
important... the music.
What do you think of the term "future-pop"?
Categorizing something under a new name doesn't always help break it
from the bonds of stereotyping which I think the progenitor of the term
was trying to do. I can see where that "famous Irish composer" is coming
from when he went about initiating that category. The term "industrial"
can be a deterrent to any potential consumers, because it carries a
thick history which breeds certain connotations in a person's head before
they even listen to the material. Simply put, does VNV Nation sound
like Throbbing Gristle?? NO! So call it what you want. Call Cesium_137
future pop if you want....it wont take anything away from the music.
Our biggest crit is that we are too diverse...how the hell is anything
"too diverse". How can you limit an artist in this day and age when
technology has provided many great tools at his disposal for making
things interesting. I mean we are using cutting edge technology, inventing
new signal processing techniques that people can barely comprehend without
a calculator and a degree in physics handy; and all of this with pop
Vince: Future pop? I must be getting old. Does that
mean I am listening to music that actually doesn't exist yet?
Isaac: Yeah Vince, its this great new technology where
you enter this temporal shift thing....its much like T3 with music instead
of cyborgs with austrian accents.
What's your opinion on downloading music?
You go to my site, and look at the pics....Yeah, I am the big guy...you
share my music...I find you.... HA! Actually, I think everytime we do
an interview we get this question in some form, and the answer is always
a little bit different. It amazes me that people have enough time to
rip tracks, upload them, scan the artwork, upload that, and claim they
are supporting their favorite bands. That's pure bullshit. I am not
going to go all Lars Ulrich on people who fileshare...I just don't like
it when it when it hurts the independent music industry. The big labels
have had it affect only a certain small percentage of their earnings....the
smaller labels are going out of business left and right.
What are your plans for 2004 and beyond?
Touring and working on new material. We already have a few mixes in
the works and are very excited to get them out! We are planning something
special that will sort of bridge the gap between "Elemental" and the
next full-length. Other than that, I am reading loads of fiction and
comics! We are both HUGE Batman fans.
Vince: RIGHT! We're now 5 songs past "Elemental" and
we're very excited over how they are shaping up. "Elemental" was a dream
come true for us, but that is just the gateway for what is to come ahead.
Expect the music to evolve to a smoother form while still maintaining,
at times, increasing the intensity level...epic qualities our songs
intrinsically perpetrate. We will not be one of those bands who puts
the same cd out for 10 years.