Seeing as Pitchshifter have been on a two year hiatus, I was wondering if you’d be so kind as to remind our readers as to who the members are, what roles you play in the band, and your age.
J.S. Clayden: Vocals/Programming
Mark Clayden: Bass Guitar
Jason Bowld: Drums
Dan Rayner: Lead Guitar
Tim Rayner: Rhythm Guitar
We are all old enough to know better but too young to be quitting.
Having been a fan of your music since 1996, I’ve had the privilege of seeing you develop and hone your stylistic music since the release of Infotainment. How do you feel about being regarded as pioneers and torch bearers for the underground British metal community?
Accolades are always nice. Of course there will always be haters who say the opposite, but the people in the know will know that Pitchshifter has done their time and earnt their place. I think to be honest, the thing we did first was to meld the collision of styles together well. People used to laugh at me when I told them I was putting drum and bass breaks with metal guitars and punk vocals back in the day. Now pretty much every piece of production music you hear on TV has those elements. There aren’t many bands that have been using electronics & guitars since ’89. I would like to be remembered as pioneers of the melding of those elements.
You’ve often cited industrial music as being a source of inspiration for your music and yet have gone beyond the confines of industrial music to explore other genres (such as drum n bass electro and punk) in order to develop a sound that can truly be called your own. As open-minded music enthusiasts, I was wondering if you would be so kind as to disclose some of your other influences in defining your band’s sound and philosophy.
We have always taken influence from anything we like, no-holds barred. I personally get as much inspiration from Dead Kennedys as I do from Led Zeppelin or Hendrix. Likewise, books by Fante, Bukowksi, Wolfe, Castenada, Thompson and equally from movies by Chronenberg and Lynch. Seeing the original line ups of bands like Crass and The Smiths was an influence in our political thinking. The late ’80s / early ’90s were heady days in UK politics!
Speaking of influences, what was it like working with punk luminaries such as Jello Biafra?
Jello is an awesome guy. He is a consummate professional also. For the track ‘As Seen On TV’ he came to the studio, busted out 6 takes back to back and we were done. Amazing talent and his lyrics are always topical and poignant. He is the real deal. Add to that the fact that he’s actually a nice person and it’s all good. Often you meet people you have admired for their art and they are horrible in person. I am glad to say Jello is not in that category. He’s a great guy. I would work with him again in a heartbeat.
Jello Biafra once ran for mayor. Do you think that someone from a punk music background could make an effective mainstream politician and what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of pursuing a similar path in English politics?
The system of snakes and hyenas will do everything in its power to keep those from outside of the system, outside of the system. You have to be squeaky clean to make it in that game and any decent musician is about as clean as used toilet paper.
Having maintained an outspoken sense of pride in adopting a confrontational stance to your politically charged songs, I was wondering what the publics reaction was to your monarchy baiting, anti-royalist song ‘Un-UK’?
‘Un-UK’ went down well. Well, I did get punched in the head by a BNP supporter once, but that was the only negative aspect of releasing that tune. And to be honest, it was a pretty sad indictment of the party and that individual. If you dont agree with what someone is saying, try to beat them down physically until they stop. Genius. To be clear though, ‘Un-UK’ is about the royal family and the class system. It is NOT anti-UK. The UK is a great country that I love. My beef is with the system. Kings and Queens are not noble, they are thieves, bullies and overlords. They get to sit in the national treasures our ancestors paid for and we upkeep, while we go to jail if we try to set foot on them. Any decent forward-thinking country had a revolution and offed their heads. There’s still time kids.
Do you think ‘Un-UK’ was a contributing factor towards your reason for relocating to LA. Also, what do you like and dislike about the UK?
No. I moved to the USA because I met the woman of my dreams and she happened to live in LA. No political statement, just pure love.
UK Likes: great minds, great inventors, great sense of humor, great parties, great beer, marmite, Rock City, The Astoria, the history, Monty Python, tons of great music.
UK dislikes: horrific weather, bullshit political system, expensive, lethargic epidemic, chavs.
Given that ‘Un-UK’ was heralded as a renaissance of the defiant spirit of the Sex Pistols, how do you feel about the recent success of Green Day and the “new punk explosion”. Do you think well ever see another band again which embodies the explosive nature of the Sex Pistols and the 70’s punk scene?
No. What’s done is done. Each new generation has to relive that epoch and ethos, but the Pistols did it first, last and only. I thought Atari Teenage Riot were the new Pistols, but they fizzled out. Green Day is great music, but much more melodically structured and they have their A-game on. Nothing I have seen since ATR is as raw as the Pistols. I live in hope!
What’s your view on the current state of the alternative music scene in England? Are there any bands which you would like to recommend to our readers?
I am so incredibly out of touch with what’s in in England that I am in danger of going full circle and inadvertently becoming hip again by proxy of my un-coolness.
Moving onto JS Clayden’s new home turf, whats the American music scene like and what bands would you recommend as being worthy of an honorable mention?
Recently I have been listening to everything pre-1980. Go figure.
What motivated you to incorporate Bill Hicks phrase “You are free to do as we tell you” as part of the B-side to your ‘Genius’ CD single in 1998?
Bill Hicks was a f**king genius and his work deserves to be heard by as many people as is humanly possible. He’s the Fante of stand-up comedy.
LISTEN TO ALL OF HIS WORK IMMEDIATELY.
As a band that has made pioneering use of new technologies to advance your sound, what problems have you encountered when using samples as part of your music? Also, how have you dealt with the difficulties of infringement issues when dealing with samples as part of copyright material?
Have you ever considered the possibility of having your own radio show and would you ever consider podcasting as a means of reaching out to your fans and extending your audience?
Hey, radio might be fun. I am hella busy though, hell knows when I would get the time. I have DJ’ed in the past, both rock and drum and bass. I dug it, it was a lot of fun. Jim and I got the dance-floor jumping in Rock City downstairs with some slamming D&B a few times. They were memorable days!
What record labels do you particularly admire and do you have any horror stories of your own when dealing with record companies in the past?
Pretty much every record label I have been on sucked ass apart from a few exceptions. The best label I have been on is PSI Records. They treat their bands well, they deliver on time, they pay royalties, they let you do what you want creatively . . . .
What spurred you to set up your very own record label and did you encounter any difficulties when doing so? Also, if you could sign any artist/ band (alive or dead) to your label, who would it be?
We wanted to release a double CD for the price of a single CD. No labels would go for it. They wanted max profits. We wanted to thank the fans with a freebie disc and didnt really care about max profits, so we told them to shove it and started our own label. What artist alive or dead would I sign? Walking Seeds, The Jam, Hendrix, The Who, Tull, Specials, Zappa, Helmet, DJ Shadow, Slab, Deftones, Quicksand (we could go on forever).
If you could release the ultimate compilation (featuring 12 tracks), what would it be and who would be on it?
That’s a tough one. Too many good tunes. Heres a selection (in no apparent order):
01 Living in the past: Jethro Tull
02 Going Underground: The Jam
03 Teenage Kicks: The Undertones
04 Crosstown traffic: Jimi Hendrix
05 (Anything from) Endtroducing: DJ Shadow
06 California Uber Alles: Dead Kennedys
07 Dazed and Confused: Led Zeppelin
08 Born To Be Wild: Steppenwolf
09 Monkey Man: The Specials
10 Ruby My Dear: Thelonious Monk
11 (Anything from) Skullfuck: The Walking Seeds
12 Happy Jack: The Who
Speaking of tracks, what can we expect from your new 6 track EP All For One And None For All (which is going to be given away free with all ticket purchases for your upcoming tour)? Are there any plans to make it commercially available after the tour and will you be following this up with a new album?
The Track Listing is as follows:
01 – Burning (Out Of Control)
02 – Does It Really Matter?
03 – Pre-Disposed (To Sickness) This Is Menace feat. J.S. Clayden
04 – Burning (Out Of Control) – Meltdown Mix
05 – Does It Really Matter? – Heat Treatment Mix
06 – Burning (Out Of Control) – Molotov Mix
The 2 new Pitchshifter tunes are different in style. Burning is like www.pitchshifter.com 2006 and ‘Does It Really Matter?’ is a look forward, with a more sung vocal style and more accomplished song structure.
Plans for a new album? Who knows. Might be fun. We’ll think about it. You can pick it up from the PsiRecords.com store while stocks last.
One of the main reasons as to why I chose to attend Staffordshire University was because of Jim Davies’ recommendation in the institution’s course program brochure. As a longstanding PSI fan, I was wondering if Pitchshifter will ever consider collaborating with Jim Davies and whether he’ll be returning to the fold in future?
Jim and Pitchshifter are still good friends. Our clashing schedules just meant that we didn’t get to work together after that period. Who knows what might happen in the future. The Rayners are great guys and we are totally happy with them on guitars. Jim actually recommended them. So it’s all good. An extended family.
What books are you reading at the moment and what books would you say have been a determining factor in defining Pitchshifter’s philosophy?
Right now I am re-reading The Fall by Albert Camus. Great work.
Defining authors?: both Fantes, Burroughs, Castenada, Wolfe, Thompson, Bukowski, Camus, Bataille, Kerouak, anything edgy.
What is your favourite era in Pitchshifter?
Touring: on tour in the USA with Gravity Kills.
Experience: my first tour of Europe in a van.
Life: meeting my wife on tour in Chicago.
What would you like Pitchshifter to be remembered for in 20 years time and if you had the opportunity to sum up PSI in three words, what would they be?
Kick ass live. Dead dead good. No fucking compromise.
I would like to be remembered as a band that pioneered the meld of heavy guitars and breakbeats.
And finally, do you have any final words for our readers? They can be anything, anything at all…
WE LOVE YOU GUYS!!
Peace – JS