A Death Cinematic Interview

There aren't many projects these days that leave me in awe.Let's face it,in the age of the internet,it is truly a most-difficult task to create anything that hasn't been seen before.Which is why finding A Death Cinematic,and his design project,Simple Box Construction,was such an epiphany for me.Everything about the world created by ADC is so fully realized,that you can not help but become a player in his universe,even if only for a little while.From the amazing dronescapes of the music,to the feeling you get holding a product that the artist himself designed by hand in an attic....it is a tangible experience that most artists would kill to have.I must say,that it was a complete honor to speak with A Death Cinematic about the process behind his homespun creations.

HAMMER SMASHED JAZZ:Your latest release,"A Parable On the Aporia of Vengeance and the Beauty of Impenetrable Sadness" is often described as the sound of a coming apocalypse, but to me it sounds very "post-apocalyptic", very desolate and bleak..it makes me think of abandoned, dusty towns years after the bomb dropped. Is there a specific concept behind the record?

A DEATH CINEMATIC:The short answer would be that yes, there is a specific concept behind the record but it is not just that simple. the specific concept is really just specific to me. there are themes that i tried to express that would point the listener, or maybe invite the listener into this other world. but how the listener interprets that and what themes stand out to him or her is really up to them.

i think the timeline of the events on this album is the days right after the apocalypse. the final moments of humanity as we know it and then our struggle to accept the fate of our own fevered nightmares. there is a desolation to the sound but also a harsh abruptness and sometimes a peacefulness. there are several different underlying themes and subtexts that i try to allude to. i tried to imagine those days where everything i know is no longer there. that now i have to react to a completely different reality that i am unprepared to deal with.
i also tried to imagine the strange vastness and emptiness when most things manmade would be gone. there would be a beauty there, there would be sorrow too and a sadness... i also tried to imagine the survivors and them exacting vengeance against that which they believe created this new reality. the final theme or concept is that of the aporia. the inherent contradiction in these themes. like the way a horizon looks when it is on fire. from a distance it is quite beautiful and mesmerizing but you know that things are being destroyed and changed violently, never to be the same. the closer one gets to that inferno or the closer that inferno gets to you the less beautiful it becomes.

a lot of the visuals for my imagination came from the city i live in. there are blocks here that are completely desolate and abandoned and it just looks like nothing lives there but something does because there is a light on or tire tracks in the grass. it is abhorrent destruction and ugliness, all the decay and apathy but there is a stillness there like the city is slowly just giving up the ghost. a sorrowful peace. in a way a beauty. it is really quite hard to explain. i guess that is why i make the sounds and take the photographs and do the art. as far as what specifically does humanity in on the album. i leave that up to the listeners. kind of like choose your poison, what terrifies you the most?

HSJ:I've heard that your music is improvised, but a lot of "A Parable" sounds written to me, especially the opening track, which is one of my favorites, as it just sets the tone so well.

ADC:it is true everything is improvised but again it is not that simple. i don't write songs or parts of songs. i don't memorize them. i don't practice them. if you asked me to play them for you i would be unable to do it. one of the things i'm interested in is the intuitive act of creativity. i like the quality that sound has of changing with time as it is being made. my favorite songs are the ones that when i listen to them at the end i say to myself, i wish that track was longer. there is that moment that i really enjoy when the track comes to an end and i don't want it to. the transient quality of a really good track is something that appeals to me greatly. the nice thing is that when it is recorded you can relive the experience at a later time of your choosing.

in a way that is how i approach the playing of my songs, the never to come back home again quality to the sounds passing. it is like being moved into a transient world and allowing yourself to be enveloped by it completely. music does it very well but so do books and movies too.
the tracks usually start when i hit record because i like something that i happen to be playing. then i go out searching for other sounds that might go with the initial recording and somehow start to solidify the concepts.

some parts on A PARABLE... might sound more "written" because i was more selective in how i put the tracks together. with more experience i have a better understanding of what i can do with the guitar and effects so there are more specific sounds that i would try to encapsulate but still maintain that raw kind of energy that comes with playing intuitively. i have also been getting better not only on manipulating the guitar and the effect but also how i mix and master the songs. that part of the process is not improvised. in those stages i am trying to take the raw improvised material that i put down on tape and hone them. i push and pull out sound while hiding other ones as i flesh out the concept. however i am always limited to what was initially recorded.
usually late at night i do a lot of searching with the guitar and effects. there are very few distractions and the world seems to be almost completely still. sometimes everything lines up and sounds good and the tracks just come together, all i do is capture them. other times it is a task that is a bit more arduous. sometimes there is days between the layers sometimes only minutes. i know that in certain parts the layers don't quite line up or mesh exactly and that is left in on purpose, i'm not interested in polishing everything out. i guess i like some grime and grit but i also appreciate intricacy and skillfulness and being succinct and concise with the sounds.

HSJ:So how long did a Parable take to complete. Your recording process sounds very intricate, maybe compulsive even. Also, it's just you and your guitar, right? So what guitar(s) and gear do you use?

ADC:it is strange. the recording of parable was just several months but they were quite intense. i guess you can say i was in the manic state of creativity. i slept little and recorded a lot. things just flowed out. the mixing and mastering took quite a bit of time because i had to learn a lot about all that stuff and there was a lot of trial and error. since then i have learned a lot more and when i listen to certain parts of some tracks i think to myself, "oh, now i know how i could have popped out this or that part and just give it a bit more subtle emphasis." but i don't think i'll be re-mastering a parable anytime soon. i have moved on and some of the new stuff is better mixed and mastered.

yes, the process is quite intricate and sometimes i have to remind myself to just leave it be, that at this point this is the most or best that it can be. all the sounds come from the guitar, amp and different effects. sometimes i pull in radio signals through my amp so i try to record those too but all the noises and ambient sounds are made on the guitar and amp. if there are sounds that i want, i try to get my guitar to sound like it. i like exploring all the means at my disposal which often means doing a lot with very little. all these things influence the aesthetic of all that i do and to me that is a very important element.

as far as gear, i have a line six modeling amp; a flextone III and i play an american deluxe fender telecaster. i use an octave pedal, a cry baby, a big muff pi, plus some other distortion pedals and different tremolos and stuff like that. a loopstation and several delays. i also have some pedals that were broken and i have taken apart. with those i manipulate the sounds with screwdrivers and paperclips. recently i invested in a digital 8 track recorder, a tascam. all the stuff i recorded thus far was done on a borrowed four track cassette recorder. i like the four track for its simplicity but digitizing the tracks and trying to get them to line up was always a bit of a daunting task. with the new recorder i hope some of that will become easier. i am not a purist as far as analog or digital signal. frankly, my ear can't tell the difference and most of the stuff i do as far as sharing the music is done online and hence digitally.

HSJ:I really love A Parable for the amount of twists and turns it takes. Are you pleased with the result? Does it closely resemble what your original ideas were?

ADC: overall i am pleased with how A PARABLE... came out. i have never done anything like this before. so there were a lot of things that i now see that i missed but those things i can only improve on future recordings. i think it resembles the original concepts quite well, especially if some of the themes mentioned above come through to the listeners. in addition to the audio there was the visual and the challenge of putting out a larger edition and yet keeping all the covers handmade. visually i think the cover turned out well even though there were some redesigns and compromises and unforeseen expenses. it is all part of the wondrous learning of putting out your own stuff. as a whole i think that sonically and visually i got very close to my goals with A PARABLE... i didn't hit all of them because i see where i could make small improvements but this leaves me something to work toward to.

HSJ:I was lucky enough to find your music through WitchHouse Records, and later Winepress Records. What's the relation there with Winepress, and is WitchHouse still going? I really love little DIY labels like that.

ADC:i must say i share your passion for tiny diy labels. what they might lack in technical quality they more then make up in heart and creativity. there is a certain aesthetic to them that is warm and indelibly human. there is also an urgency about small labels and the small editions they put out that i appreciate a lot. the idea of making things because they need to be made or expressed is one that i have been in love with for a long time.

witchhouse and winepress are both great labels. my relation with winepress so far has only been for the dvdr single and nate has asked if i would like to join his online band, blue greed. i am not sure if we'll be releasing stuff together again or not. i am definitely not opposed to it. i guess we'll wait and see. he just became a father not too long ago so i think the label just scaled down a bit. as far as witchhouse, i don't know if it is around or if it is coming back. there was some really great stuff on that label.

HSJ:Speaking of which, Simple Box Construction is your visual side of things (or label)...and the packaging you do is just stunning. Where'd the idea to use veneers as CD packaging come from?

ADC:simple box construction is not really a label, at least not in the normal sense. i don't think i'll be putting out other artists under simple box construction. there will be splits and stuff like that but mostly it is for my visual art editions and for a death cinematic cover and merch production. i am really pleased that you like the packaging. to me it is a very important aspect of the releases. i feel it helps to set up the context for the concepts and it is another form of expression. with simple box though i am also going to do a lot more editions of hand-bound books of images and boxed collections of photo series... limited t shirts, stuff like that.

the idea for the veneer covers came from my background in wood working and visual arts. almost all the art i make has some kind of wood incorporated into it. i just really love the material. it is warm and easily manipulated but it is also strong. not to mention that there is something inherent in objects that are made from wood that i just love and appreciate. also certain species of wood and trees have such rich histories where the utility of them becomes, in a way, symbolic. there are many connotations that these species bring forth that i try to exploit. (this is also true of other materials too.) so when i started to make sound and music i wanted to incorporate those qualities into what i was doing, veneer just seemed right. it is thin and flexible and easy to use. i plan on utilizing it for a while. hopefully in new and creative ways.

HSJ:I know that the visual side of things is very important to you, and I feel very fortunate to have gotten a copy of your "Veins Like Trenches" DVDR, which was very limited (and really lovely). Will we see more films accompanied by your music?

ADC:yes, for sure. VEINS LIKE TRENCHES... dvdr was something i was quite pleased with and i want to do more of that type of thing. i would love to use film and moving images somehow when i start to play live shows. i have some ideas for short films and how i want to make them. in fact i have an idea for another dvdr single. it is for a shorter track but i am thinking of a longer film. there would be a lot of footage before the music would come in and hopefully that would set the tone for the music track. that won't be for a little while though. right now it is just something that rattles around in my skull. it would be a very small edition maybe even smaller than the VEINS LIKE TRENCHES... dvdr.

after that i would like to do something a bit more involved then just a single. working with other people on films is something that i would also like to do, where it becomes a more collaborative process. there is a guy in england his name is ashely who does a lot of very minimal short films and he calls his film project crayon films. he did a short film for my track, I FEEL YOUR HOMES BURNING DOWN. you can catch it on his myspace or my myspace page. he also has a website called kicktheghost.co.uk. he just went and made this short film and one day emailed me and asked if it was okay that he did it. i told him that it most certainly was and that he can feel free to do it more. very cool of him to do that.

HSJ:So you've hooked up with Demian/ Hemingway and Dead Accents for a release right? Who found who there?

ADC:i feel quite fortunate that i get a chance to work with demian/ dead accents/ hemingway. the more i talk to him the more i see we are on the very same page. i admire what he is doing and i really like the stuff he makes, visual and audio. dead accents is putting out a spilt for a death cinematic and hemingway. broken press is doing the printing on the covers. simple box contributed the photography and demian did the drawings. i have yet to hear their side of the release but i am looking forward to it. my tracks for that split were done around the same time that i did A PARABLE.. they are two tracks that go together really well and they are some of my favorites. i'm eager to hear them again. it should be soon.

i am not sure who found who first. i just remember it was early when i first started a death cinematic and either i or they (hemingway) asked to be friends. we traded some stuff and they asked me to do a split. they were the first to ask, even before witchhouse. i am quite honored. i think this is going to be a great release. i would love to work with them again in the future. dead accents is another outstanding diy label and broken press is an outstanding diy press. some of the best out there.

HSJ:Favorite Sabbath song?

ADC:this is not an easy question to answer. i am very fond of the first six sabbath albums. very fond of. i guess the songs that stick out are snowblind and paranoid. these however are subject to change at will.

HSJ:So, are we getting some more ADC soon?

ADC:yes, quite soon. there will be some visual stuff coming out from simple box construction: a book of images, a box of a small series of photos, and a small collection of artcards that accompany a short poem i wrote. the simple box construction blog/ website will soon be officially announced and launched. very soon there will be the split with hemingway on dead accents. after that there are several other split releases. one with sons of alpha centuri from the uk. simple box is doing the covers for that and i guess it is the second official audio release from simple box construction. a bit after that there will be a 3" single released on a small label called la-bango. an exclusive 20 minute track. it is recorded and just needs to be mixed down and mastered.

i have also been contacted by the crowned heads of europe and the light of shipwreck to do splits and i am very excited about doing both. i hope they are still into it. i should be recording things for those soon. you will also be able to find some exclusive tracks on some outstanding compilations coming later this year. while all this is going on i am also going to be recording some stuff for blue greed. it is nate from winepress, rick from insect explosion and al from scotch tapes/ frequent sea/ MCPIBTYCP. i am very excited about this project as well. i already heard some tracks that nate and rick worked on and they sound great. i think they might be waiting on me at this point so i have to get on top of recording my parts.

finally, sometime in the spring of next year i hope to be at least working on the new full length. but all these things are contingent on other things that i have no control over and can change quite rapidly. in a nut shell that is what i am working on. it is hard not to get overwhelmed.

once again thank you for the interview. i appreciate it immensely.


Anonymous said...

Dude is seriously one of the greatest all around intuitive artists in the DIY community.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely.Holding his releases in your hands is a wonderful experience.A Parable is easily in my top ten of this year.