The techno-punk trio returns with a fierce album and views on creepy synths, the Thai Elephant Orchestra and sex in the internet age
The recent resurrection of early nineties Berlin-based cult band Atari Teenage Riot casts frenetic techno-punk music upon a new generation. Their anarchist-libertarian attitude pervades: dissect everything, bypass limitations. Digital hardcore innovators Alec Empire, Nic Endo, and MC CX Kidtronik spoke to Dazed to share their fascinations and motivations.
Dazed Digital: You mentioned that someone wearing a suit to a punk rock club could be the most punk rock person there because he is not conforming to what everyone else is doing. What influences your personal style?
Alec Empire: Some of our fans would kill me for saying this, but I find that fashion is way more exciting than the music scene. Designers take risks, most musicians can't. When I go to the Comme des Garcons store in Paris, I have ideas for 10 new songs. I love what Hedi Slimane did for Dior. Ann Demeulemeester… Alexander McQueen… Vivienne Westwood pieces work well on stage. It is important that the audience doesn't pay too much attention to what I wear, or it immediately takes away from the 'musical credibility'. In our time if you look bad and have a beard, people assume you're a genius. I'd never give into that marketing approach.
DD: Who are your favourite authors and visual artists?
Nic Endo: Guy Bourdin, Maya Deren, Stanley Kubrick, Simone de Beauvoir.
CX Kidtronik: Ramm:Ell:Zee (R.I.P !)
DD: What influences the ATR visuals?
Nic Endo: I began doing all the graphics and photos by accident. The previous designer had a nervous breakdown… I focus on bringing out sides that are not seen by most. For example, New York in the early eighties, old-school hip-hop, Afrika Bambaataa, Jonzun Crew, Bad Brains, CBGB’s, Blondie, Sonic Youth have more to do with ATR than nineties Berlin.
DD: What was the most unusual space where you recorded music?
Alec Empire: I recorded the album "Low On Ice" in Iceland in a tent in the nineties when we played there with Björk. It was freezing. Certain places make you create in a different way, if you're open to it.
DD: What are your favourite lesser-known music festivals around the world?
Alec Empire: Offset Festival in the UK and Berlin Festival in Germany. You are not treated like a cow on its march to the slaughterhouse. I am talking as a music fan.
DD: What are your favourite music blogs?
Alec Empire: Big Stereo.
DD: What are your guilty pleasures?
CX Kidtronik: Miami Vice television series, 1984-1989. Laphroaig single malt Scotch whiskey.
Nic Endo: Watching Mad Men and listening to Faith No More.
DD: You’re throwing a themed party. What’s the theme?
Alec Empire: Nibelungen.
Nic Endo: Belle De Jour.
DD: What synthesizers would you describe as the creepiest, the sexiest, or as otherwise distinctive-sounding?
Alec Empire: The Memorymoog is creepy. It makes you think of the darkest Portishead songs that haven't been written yet, those grey Sunday afternoons. The ARP 2600 is sexy, and it still sounds so modern! A new synth I love is the Metasonix Wretch Machine… love in the middle of a firefight.
DD: Which musical influences have you recently crossbred with unlikely genres?
CX Kidtronik: Nineties style horrorcore rap and Thai Elephant Orchestra music… a song that bounces back and forth from slow hardcore rap to gabber.
DD: Which ATR production techniques have changed since the nineties?
Alec Empire: In the nineties samplers played a major role. Now, software like Ableton, Melodyne, Waves adds to that. The goal is to make music more exciting, more alive, more physical. Create new worlds, instead of just creating the old world faster and easier.
DD: What are the current issues that ATR plans to confront?
Alec Empire: The most obvious one is Obama's politics. CX is perfect to criticize what goes on in the US. It is not as simple as it is often covered in the media. Important issues are cyberwars, sex in the internet age, human trafficking, the concept of government, nation states in a globalized world, and the death of the mainstream music industry.
ATARI TEENAGE RIOT TOUR SCHEDULE:
17.11.2010 BUS PALLADIUM PARIS / F
18.11.2010 ARTS CENTRE COLCHESTER / UK
19.11.2010 THE CORPORATION SHEFFIELD/ UK
20.11.2010 UNIVERSITY SOUTHAMPTON/ UK
21.11.2010 MOHO MANCHESTER/ UK
22.11.2010 ASSEMBLY HALL LEMINGTON/ UK
24.11.2010 THE ARCHES GLASGOW /GB
25.11.2010 BUTTON FACTORY DUBLIN / IE
27.11.2010 AUTUMN FALLS FESTIVAL BRUSSELS / BE
28.11.2010 EFFENAAR EINDHOVEN / NL
29.11.2010 FRANZ.K REUTLINGEN/ GER
30.11.2010 BAHNHOF LANGENDREER BOCHUM / GER