God Is The Machine: Infidel Interview #50
First of, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about both of you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, what instruments you can play, and where you live would be pretty standard?
Hi, I’m Chris Coleman, I'm a 25 year old Nerd/Geek, whom lives in Ogden, Utah. When it comes to performing live I’d consider myself an accomplished pianist, I also love to play the drums and guitar (however I'm not great at performing those just yet), but for composition I enjoy and prefer to spend countless hours to create unique and diverse sounds using what resources I have available. Aside from music I’m quite the Otaku, and Gamer grew up on the NES, SNES, and my Gameboy. I read tons of novels mostly ranging from Fantasy and Science Fiction. I’m also in the process of creating a video game with a few of my buddies, where I’m in charge of the art, music and sound design (of course I do programming but in my opinion it’s a necessary evil).
I'm John D Jones III, a 40 something viking living in Provo, Utah. I play Rhythm and Acoustic Guitar with 6, 7 and 8 strings as well as Fretted and Fretless Bass. I fiddle around with ambient sounds on keyboards, PC based sequencers and can keep time on the drums, though I won't call myself a drummer.
What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
Chris: Nine Inch Nails, Celldweller, David Bowie, Gary Numan, Deftones, Depeche Mode, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Dream Theater, Opeth, Infected Mushroom, Aerosmith, Foo Fighters, Gesaffelstein, The Glitch Mob, Faunts, Queens of the Stone Age, Rammstein, Roy Orbison, System of a Down, SeamlessR and Sigur Ros are my main sources of influence, and honestly the list could go on and on and on. However there is no day that passes that when I'm having writers block or just in the mood to sit down and listen to an album I turn to what Trent Reznor has created, I will always feel inspired to write, compose, and continue the eternal struggle of Mixing and Mastering.
John: Everything influences my music, be it a thunderstorm, a really heavy television show episode, reading about someone's death and what it was to wake up not knowing that it was the last day they had on Earth, what went through their mind in their last moments. Really anything that makes me think deep about it's implications acts as an inspiration for my music.
As for bands, there were so many. When I was a kid, stuff like Queen, Boston, AC/DC, Pat Benatar, Pink Floyd and Heart all played a role in me wanting to pursue playing music, I'd say though that Iron Maiden and early Metallica, particularly: …And Justice For All really set in stone my desire to pickup the guitar and start playing like they were playing. Justice is probably the single most important album in giving birth to my current style; all the crazy time signatures, tempo changes and complex arrangements are still very evident in my playing today. And bands like Meshuggah, Immortal and all the bands that Christian Muenzner and Hannes Grossmann play or played in continue to develop my ideas onto the foundation that …And Justice For All laid down for me.
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics to write about? What draws you to those themes?
Chris: Most of my themes and topics I write about are from my novel/s I've written and have been unable to publish, and many different hypotheses, theories and philosophies - mostly things that strike me odd and in confrontation to what is described as what people assumed is natural or what is perceived to be normal when it comes to religion, government, morality, and/or just what we think it is to be human. That being said I love a story with growth, and I find the most growth from characters that overcome the darkness within themselves to create a light/path for others to tread (because I can relate to those type of characters with my experience). John: I don't write lyrics as much as I used to, the idea of darkness, despair, contrasted with closure and redemption tend to permeate the concepts I develop when writing music. I've been working off and on for a decade on a concept album called Dead for my Dewpoint project that involves the existential and emotional journey of an unsavory character in the throes of dying the the consequence of what may or may not await on the other side and each of the movements of this suite captures musically these feelings somewhat well, at least in my view point. I'm drawn to these themes, the darkness, despair etc because of my own personal experiences in my life. As for the obsession with death and dying, I think we all are concerned with the impending end we will all face someday. I use music to provide an outlet for my concerns. What would you say would be you short term, and long term, goals for your band? What do you see in the future for your creative output?
Chris: Short-Long term for is to build a fan base where as the money wouldn’t be an object (I’m sure we could all agree that it’s not fun living paycheck to paycheck), so we could just solely focus on the music, and our personal lives and so we could continue and reinvest the money we earn to make our mid-long term goals happen.
Another long term goalis to play live sets, but those live sets are movie based whereas we wouldn't be the center of attention but rather the story and sound would be. Sure we'd be onstage and people could see us, but it would be the movie we'd be playing along with that would show our fans the message we're portraying, for me I've always wanted this from when I go to concerts because sure it’s fun to dance, but I'm a more laid back kinda guy and I’d prefer something more visual to associate the music I'm listening to and sit.
John: I just enjoy making music. When working with someone else, I seek to add to their vision my unique perspectives without compromising their own vision. The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!!
Is collaboration something that is actively important to you? Do you have any individuals you are particularly successful, or unsuccessful, in collaboration with? Has there been any collaborative based songs that you would say stand out to you?
Chris: Absolutely, Girlflesh has been featured in our song hollow, this song alone holds the highest play count on my SoundCloud page. Soon I’ll be featuring her in another song called infernal because of the success of hollow, as well as the success of doing two remixes for her, that are both featured on her remix albums.
On a different note I've been quite unsuccessful with most other people and I'm not bothered by it, because understandably it’s because they’re busy or just not invested in the idea after all. I’ll send out stems for the project and they may send me back one or not even at all. It’s been interesting to see so many people say they’re interested and then fall through the cracks, but fortunately it’s taught me what to expect from people that aren’t really invested in a thought or idea and has made it simpler for me to pick out the weeds.
John: Most of the collaborations I've taken part in have been revolved around one particular member's vision. Most of which have resulted in cover bands and no original material created. This has been frustrating to me over the years, but I've taken part anyways because the experience is what counts.
In 2010, I began a collaboration project called Obfuscation: Arise with a very talented musician Remi Sinato. Remi took an old recording I made and remixed and arranged it into this awesome Half Life 2 with Thrash Metal guitar mashup we called Reflections. He only added drum samples and a few vocal effects but otherwise, to my awe; created all the rest of the mix using the two guitar parts. He made it sound like there's a dozen instruments going on and I was mindblown. The project fell through however after this demo was created, Remi went through a few rough things and he chose to focus on other things in his life.
What sort of processes do you go through when making music? Do you have a formula(s) that you follow, or do you feel it out as you go along? Or is it more of a mixture of the two?
Chris: For me I have a set sound and progression that I have in mind before I set out and create a song, and in the end normally it’ll have those ideas but it’s never what I expect it to be because I’m still learning so much about sound design, people may say that all the sounds have already been played, and I completely disagree with that statement because sound is the most unique sense we have, meaning we have more to learn from it.
John: I very rarely actually set out to write a song. When songs get written, it starts out with me just jamming on a groove and building on top of it, changes have to flow naturally from one part to the next during the jam for me to include it into the piece. It rarely happens on a start to finish process, I'll get stuck on the bridge or something and just sit on the piece until I can get that natural flow from the written parts to the missing part(s). I've had songs that I started in the mid 90s that took me until 2011 to finish, though usually I'll get a piece completed in a week or two, I have written a song from start to finish only once. But ultimately it's just a make it up as I go kind of thing. I feel this makes the music more authentic, more original than if I try to write to some formula.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically? What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
Chris: No, I started practicing the piano at 5 years old because I’d sit at the piano trying to compose music. I thoroughly enjoy sound, that being said sitting down and just practicing is a bit too boring for me and I never feel a sense of satisfaction after mastering a song. On the other hand when it comes to composing I'm all for it hands down. I know the importance of practice but I’d prefer to practice scales than other material, because I’d rather just listen to the people who played it because it’s their story that they needed to tell.
John: No, not really, I've been obsessed with music as long as I can remember. As I've aged things do take on new meaning, but the core tenets remain similar. Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What's your relationships with presets?
Chris: I spend most of my time crafting my own sound, and in my opinion effects are just part of crafting the sound. Song crafting is most of the time a second thought or an afterthought. Most of the time presets are just a guide in the right direction, almost like a tutorial on how to make a VST sound a certain way, but other than that I don’t use presets (the only two exceptions are the 1st 2 songs I wrote for GITM).
John: I tend to dial in a tone and stick with it. I find that it's too easy to get into preset hell where you spend weeks futzing with a preset and are still not happy with it and you've lost all that time when you could have been at least playing your existing songs, if not jamming out new riffs/parts/etc.
When it comes to influence and inspiration, and creativity, there is often a fine line. It's been said that all the sounds have been created, and all the notes played. Do you find it important and/or difficult to come up with "original" sounds? Or do you focus more on what sounds good over trying to find a so-called "original" sound?
Chris: To reference the last question, I spend lots of time making sound. Not necessarily because I want to be original but because I want my music to sound the way it’s portrayed in my music. However I do find it important to make a sound that people can associate with your material whether it being a certain voice or instrument that you use commonly, because I find that originality has nothing to do with one sound, but how a song is composed, performed and pieced together. In other words it’s not important to me to be original as it is important to me to create a soundscape.
John: I've always strive to have my own sound. I tend to avoid learning other people's music to avoid absorbing too much. If there's a badass technique or something someone else is doing, I'll sit down and learn that part of a song to work in the technique into my repertoire, but never 100%, there's always a touch of Dewpoint to everything I learn. I'd say my biggest struggle is that my own stuff ends up using the same grooves or I'll write 887 different arrangements for the same riff or chord progression. I tell myself that these are just 'themes' but I don't buy it and these things sit on the shelf collecting dust until I can find that natural flow into something that answers the existing stuff. When you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both? Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?
Chris: Right now I'm limited to software because of money. I’d do more hardware if it was accessible. I primarily use Harmor to generate my sounds, but I will always write the song using my piano/midi controller first. John: I'm a hardware guy, for electronics, just give me a cheap stomp box or some free vst and I'm set. I guess I gotta have a strong reverb and good flexible delay and a light chorus. I'll dial in different levels for the three of these depending on the need, but I don't deviate from these three core effects. Obviously a fat overdrive is essential when I wanna really mosh it up.
Are live shows an important part of your career? Do you feel the most home in the live performance or in the studio? How come?
Chris: Yes, it is my hope for live performance to be a big part of my career, that being said I will have to balance the flow of new music and performing. But I haven’t crossed that bridge yet.
John: Ehh, I've only played live a handful of times, either a full on improv jam at a keg party and there was that one time I was a roadie for another band and only the drummer showed up, I picked up the bass and the other roadie got on the mic and we just started warming up with Hall & Oats' version of You Lost That Loving Feeling at this Biker Bar in San Jose, California and they made us play that damned song for 3 hours... I still hate that song to this day and that was back in... 1991? Well, I did used to play guitar for a church band, we played mostly light rock stuff on Sundays, I guess that counts for playing live, eh? But I'm for sure a garage guy, give me my guitar/bass and amp and a two car garage and I'm home.
Other than what you currently produce, what other sorts of genres, instruments, and sounds would you like to use in the future? Are there any people you would like to collaborate with in the future artistically, musically, or socially?
Chris: For me genres aren't really important so much as the themes. I'm not sure if that makes sense but I'm more about generating a feeling that flows with the story. Genre's do help with feelings, but I don't think it wise to be limited to any one set genre because there are so many ways to express emotion. My preferable thing to do is fuse different genres together to help create that story because it tells the story from different perspectives. But if I were to label my music as a genre it’d be labeled as industrial, because it’s just experimental electronic music.
John: Well when Chris approached me to work with his project, I was a bit surprised and honored. Most of the stuff I'm probably going to do will be some form of metal, even if it's a mashup with other genres. I expect this project with Chris will attract some attention to my playing and I may get approached by others to contribute to, I'll cross that bridge when it comes.
Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?
Chris: I would have to say that I found a few people that are truly interested in my music that they have added to it, ie: John, and Girlflesh. They’ve kept my experience fresh and new, and I'm excited to keep it that way, I will never stop learning.
John: Ehh, my crowning achievement was getting out of that Biker Bar alive, lol. Really if I accomplish nothing else but inspiring someone else to make their own music or art, than I'll be inspired to continue. When it comes to non-musical media, what do you find yourself most inspired by, and what about it draws you to it as a source of inspiration?
Chris: The world of people around me, and the night sky. I love anything that has to do with space. And then there’s novels (Brent Weeks, Terry Goodkind, Orson Scott Card), video games (FFTactics, Elder Scrolls, World of Warcraft), anime (Bleach, Gundam, Ghost in the Shell), and every now and again movies (Donnie Darko, The Matrix, Fight Club).
John: Breaking Bad really surprised me in how much it influenced my outlook on a song... The character development really related to me on how I develop songs and arrangements. That said, I've started looking for character development in other movies, tv shows, novels, etc and to see how these methods can be of inspiration for song development. I'm also a Perl Programmer and that has manifested itself into my music development as well, though that's particularly difficult to explain.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
Chris: Don’t care about what other people think of you. There will always be those people who want to see you fail because they can’t succeed.
John: Play, create, then play and create some more. Someone will listen and be inspired. Ignore the haters, they'll always be there, listen to those who you inspire, those who inspire you and never stop getting better. Remember in art and music there is no such thing as failure, just a lot of opportunities to learn and grow. Destroy Erase Improve!!
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