For Issue 6 of Astral Noize, we let Modern Technology‘s RAGE Zine take over several pages. In this excerpt, the band’s Owen Gildersleeve talks with Silent Front frontman Phil Mann on his art, new music with X’ed Out and the state of our country.
We were excited to host your first X’ed Out show back in December at our last Human Worth night – you guys killed it and everyone loved the new material! How’d that band come about and what are your plans? I hear you might be recording?
Thank you, we really had a great time and was a great first show for us and a really positive thing to be a part of too.
Well X’ed Out started up around a year or so ago with two old friends, Addy [drums] and Joe [bass] who have been in and around music for years and both play several instruments themselves. I’ve known Addy for years through the DIY scene and I used to live with Joe and rehearse at his studio (Studio D, Kingston) It took us a while to find our feet at first and had a few people come and go that we wanted to include and write with from the get go. But I think to a degree we rushed that somewhat, and didn’t start simple first. I feel with music you can be backed into a corner a bit sometimes (for lots of reasons) so I was quite conscious of that, and initially I wanted to start something up where I felt there were no real boundaries to what we were doing, and what everyone has to offer and we could keep moving and changing as we go and that we can add and develop our own thing as organic as possible. So we backed it up a bit and started on the main instruments first, then added to the core parts (guitar/bass/drums) later. This actually worked out a lot better, as now we are starting to invite people in and do projects with us that we’ve laid the ground work on and if it works and continues to work then great, if not then no harm done.
My other main concern also was time. I’m really not a fan of sitting on my arse and twiddling my thumbs, I like to get things done and the more people you have the more chance there is of things not getting done. It’s just the nature of that. Me, Joe and Addy have such a great connection so for us that was a great basis for everything, and they are both very hard workers and passionate about music too. So rather than say this is us and that’s it, we’re saying we’re the frame work and if you want to climb on to what we’re building then great. Saddle up sally! We also wanted the live show to be as immersive as possible, so the 3 of us have created our own videos from source footage and our own collections of stuff we’ve filmed and all sat down and got creative as we can with those, which we play through a projector, for each set we do to key in with each song we play.
We also added samples and triggered sounds to our live performance to enhance it all too. This will also make up for when players might not be able to attend a show. Double barreled! I really do feel it’s important to go as far as you can and your abilities will allow when being creative, especially in this modern time when we have so much at our finger tips to help the process and especially where DIY is concerned (hence why it’s called Do It Yourself). And it’s so awesome I have two great friends that want to get stuck in and do that, and that we can all be a part of everything creative we do. So we aim to do “projects” as opposed to album after album of the same thing. Currently we have Adam “Fez” Faires from Working Men’s Club (drums) playing Trumpet on our first release which is looking like a 6 track E.P with some interludes also and we may add a couple more instruments (piano/saw), but this initial release is going to be fairly heavy so we have to work on what suits best.
After that we’d like to do a few splits with other bands we admire, plus have plans for other projects in the pipe line. 4 track multi instrumental EP which will consist of mainly atmospheric songs and quieter stuff, plus a 30 minute track which we may release and perform at a few shows. An album too. We are due to record the E.P. with Wayne at Bear Bites Horse in April, and to make and release a video for one of the tracks also. But until then we have a few great shows coming up, Sunday 5th April at Aces & Eights (Tufnell Park) with Trigger Cut (G)/ (your fine selves) Modern Technology/This is Wreckage/ Lassiters and we’re also playing Smash it Out all-dayer at the Brixton Windmill 18th July. Apart from that we just aim to keep the creative engine stocked with coal and burning hard.
You also work as a very (very) good tattoo artist! How long have you been interested in illustration and when did you first pick up a gun?
You sir, are too kind! Well I’ve been interested in art alongside music since probably the age of 7, I would say and have always been doing one thing or another related to it over those years. In fact my first art project, so to speak, that I can remember was making my own guitar from elastic bands and a tissue box and decorating it at the age of 9, which fell apart instantly if I remember haha! Then started to play the guitar at 11/12ish. I remember my primary school being pretty up on creativity and they did quite a few things to nurture that (but maybe that’s all primary schools?). Unfortunately that all changed when I decided to take art and music at secondary school, as they had a very different idea to me on what consisted of what art and music is meant to be. I always tell people my worst two grades at school were art and music. Which they were. When I played a song on my guitar at the very last assembly of secondary my music teacher came up to me and said “I had no idea you could do that”! From then on I knew I was doing something right.
I’ve always done little art projects throughout the years though, album art/gig posters etc. But my main focus for the last 20 years has been music and touring with Silent Front really. I had so many job stints it verges on insane (Video shop assistant/care taker/youth worker/window fitter/assistant in a lab that used wind tunnel). But I’m a strong believer in things happen for a reason and you can take something positive from everything, as the universe isn’t just made of negative forces. All these experiences just fed into my tattoo career now, especially playing in Silent Front as music and tattoo are very closely related.
I actually started tattooing quite late (at the age of 30) compared to most people, but it was certainly the right time for me to start so that’s all that matters and I wanted to find something I was passionate about that I could do for the rest of my life, and tattooing seemed like a logical step (I have always been getting tattoos/have friends who are tattooists) and something that I felt I might be good at and have something to offer it. But I definitely started the “wrong way” by buying a shitty machine off ebay, I had no idea how to use even if it did work well, and started marking people I know with fucking awful stuff (that some of them still like to remind me of). But I learnt the hard way that tattooing and drawing are two very different things, there are rules and if you don’t do something right the first time it will follow you for years. I remember I heard someone I tattooed from my room going to get a cover up of some shite I did on their chest, I was so, so embarrassed I put the machine down straight away. In a Bin. After that I pushed on and managed to get an apprenticeship at a good studio. I worked my Arse off doing 7 day weeks practically for 2 years, fitting windows in the pissing rain and cold mon-Friday and drawing/tattooing all weekend and evenings alongside touring etc. any self-employed person, as I’m sure you know, needs to work hard and be self- sufficient as possible and really I have the DIY scene to thank for that in part. It’s taught me so many amazing things. So now it’s verging on 10 years I’ll be tattooing and I’ve never ever looked back. I honestly believe Work hard and focus and you can achieve anything.
Last year was a rough one with that political shitstorm and unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s getting better any time soon… What’s your take on the current state of affairs? Do we have any hope?
Well where and how do we start unpacking that question? I’m not going to lie, my faith in other people’s love for each other was low after the Brexit/Trump votes anyway and I thought time would iron out the errors of people’s ways. But then came the latest vote, and the cold concrete floor that is people’s lack of love for each other smashing into us, and to me that’s the biggest thing. It was a sign more than anything for me that people are very confused and misinformation is rife.
It’s chaos. People have been fooled into hating each other, they only care about what’s closest to them, and they are so blind their willing to piss on all that and everybody else because of that. People have been fooled into hating the wrong things and not the people who have put those divides in place. It’s a shit storm? It’s a fucking black hole, sucking in and crushing everything it swallows. When you have someone from one of the poorest areas in Briton vote for Boris because they think Corbyn is a terrorist sympathizer we are in trouble.
Things have gone completely black and white on all sides, when the answers are very, very grey to lots and lots of issues. They are using a weapon they’ve crafted for years, to a degree, against their own people and that weapon is a lack of educational funding. They are betting on people like that to read what’s in their local tory influenced red top paper and go no further with it and have their mind made up. Hello pride the great denier, the great divider. They’ve been starving the system for years and it’s worked. Aside from that, I really do think the divide from comfortable and rags as massively increased and you only have to look at the vote turn out to see that. The lack of numbers and the age groups. Predominantly the older generation showed out, alongside the working class (who would of usually voted Labour) so you have them two groups and then you have the massive, massive group that never showed up at all, and I think I have a bigger problem with them as political sides offer different things to different people and you can understand that (when information is offered that’s actually true and clear), people vote for what (they think) effects them.
This lack of turnout is a total and definite sign of privilege. Some might suggest that it’s a sign that the standard of living has got better, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. When people care more about their fucking material goods and who’s winning big fucking brother this season or what’s the last episode of GOT going to be like, or which prick your about to lamp in the traffic jam behind you, which your causing, as put a one inch bumper scuff mark on your shiny new BMW, while their government totally shafts its most vulnerable and is slowly taking apart an amazing health service (that they may need one day) you really know we are in a sad state of affairs. And those people should be fucking ashamed of themselves, and not just because it could easily be them next.
It’s a disgrace when it takes 10mins from your day to get informed, and 10 minutes to walk out your door to a local polling station to put an X in a box (That’s two less X’s than in the average Christmas card. Maybe they need to start putting three boxes next to each party’s name in future, so people are more careful before they sign something that could be sent off to a family less fortunate that might effect them very badly). People have been turned inside out, because they feel powerless, which only kicks up more dust. And the balance is way out as far as distribution of wealth has gone.
I think a lot needs to change, but first the lying needs to be outlawed. Three strike rule. Any media outlet or government official caught lying more than three times, its goodbye, fuck off, see ya! Then again they make the rules right. What was that about a shitstorm again?
Issue 6 drops Friday, click here to order.
Interview: Owen Gildersleeve