12/31/2017

Interview: David Thrussell (Snog) (Part 1)






01. How did you start making music and when did you realise that you are going to be doing it for real? When did you decide to start Snog? What does it mean, how did you come up with the name?

This is all a long time ago, you know. It was an accident, of course. I was actually a visual artist, i was going to art school and was doing this visual art thing like sculpture and printmaking and these kind of things which I like actually and the thought of really being a musician had never crossed my mind for one second. But one day my friend invited me to DJ at his gig, because he realized I had a lot of records. He was doing a concert down the road and the people that run the venue liked my DJing a lot so he offered me a job there.  I was at art school and I had some friends - and we formed a band, just for a joke really. Completely just for the laughs. We played at this thing that they have here, called the Battle of the Bands. It’s when different bands have a competition and etc.  And we were at this thing at the art school - just for a joke, absolutely. In fact, this band was called Black Lung. We called it Black Lung and it was kinda like industrial jazz really. We had a really good jazz upright base player and a kind of jazzy drummer and also someone playing keyboards and then I was playing - I had a 4-track recorder thing and the tapes. I was playing tapes of speeches and noises and had a sampler as well, so I was playing those samples and noises. And it was really like industrial jazz - like this thing exploding and people talking and yelling. With these jazz drums and jazz base going on. I thought it was quite good in a strange kind of way, and we ended up winning. We won this competition, which was a complete shock... and somehow I just fell into this music thing. It was a complete accident and I had some other friends and we formed a band as well. We called this band Snog. We had all sorts of other stupid names for this band because I never thought this thing would last more than one week. We wrote some songs and I liked the idea. My idea was to make the combination of music because I like a classic, an old songwriting things.. 

My father was listening to Johnny Cash and country music like Tom T. Hall. I grew up in the country and when you were in the country then you listened to country music. This is what they played. I liked this kind of classic songwriting with intelligent lyrics and a good thing to say. Just wanted to combine this thing with electronic music because I liked electronic music. I also grew up on it, my father had a very wide taste in music, so he was playing Johnny Cash one morning and then the next morning he’s playing the soundtrack to Clockwork Orange. This is also a very important record to me.

Logo


I remember, I was very young when I heard this record. I was like 5 years old and father used to play it a lot. Maybe I was even younger, 4. Very young. I remember hearing this record and being amazed by this music, because I knew enough about music to know that this type of music was very old, ancient kind of music like Beethoven, but it was done in a very modern style with the synthesizers. This music was very mysterious to me. I was really hypnotised because it was both ancient and of the future at the same time which I found amazing. So that music really interested me in synthesisers and this kind of electronic music sound - but I also was interested in songwriting and what I would call intelligent lyrics. Not stupid. And so with Snog I wanted to put these two things together because as far as I knew then, and I was very young then nobody was  really doing this. People who were writing songs that I liked like Tom Waits or The Swans or something like this - they were doing this in that traditional instrumentation kind of way, which is fine, but I wanted to put it together with an electronic music.  I knew a little bit of Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb which I liked - but I wanted to do a different thing, to do songs about the everyday experience that I found nobody was really talking about. Going to the supermarket, going to the bank and the mundane reality of modern life in capitalism. Of course I’m probably wrong, I’m sure people were talking, but I was not aware of it. I wanted to put these things together and that was the original idea behind Snog. It has always kept doing that thing really. Like I said, I didn’t think that it was going to last more than one week really. But that was what we were doing and I thought it was kind of different to anybody else that I was aware of and I thought it was kind of interesting and valid and we played lots of concerts in Melbourne and Australia and it was impossible to get a record released here at that time. That was a long time ago and it was completely impossible because at that time in Australia everybody was obsessed - if you were in independent music (like we were) everybody just wanted you to sound like The Ramones. This was the only thing.. And I have nothing against The Ramones, I think The Ramones are fine, but this is not what we were doing.



«We called our band Snog. We had all sorts of other stupid names for this band because I never thought this thing would last more than one week»


Every record that was released in Australia I mean there were some weird industrial things which I knew about -  I saw SPK, Severed Heads, but they had no Well if you tried to release a record in Australia then, which we did - we had a demo tape taken to all these people in Australia. Nobody in the music business in Australia had any concept of these bands at all, they did not exist as far as the music industry was concerned. It was just The Ramones and bands that sounded like them. We made these recordings and in fact we recorded the Corporate Slave which was our first single. It was recorded in 1990. We tried to get it released in Australia because we lived there so this was our only option at the time, and no one was interested at all. Actually year or two later, we understood that the music we like - this kind of electronic music like Front 242 is coming out in Europe so.. let’s go to Europe. Let’s go to Germany and see if someone will be interested. We jumped on the plane - we had no idea. Nobody in Australia knew about this kind of music. You could get one or two of these records at an independent record store, but otherwise nothing else is known about this music. So we jumped on the plane to Germany and went into a record store and found a magazine that was probably like a front page of those techno and electronic music magazines. We just opened it up and looked for the company that had the biggest add and a phone number or something that we could find and this week it was Machinery Records. We phoned them up and they laughed and said: «You’re from Australia, that’s hilarious, do you sound like Midnight Oil or INXS?» and we said: «We don’t really, we don’t sound like any of them». They kept laughing at us thinking we were really silly, but we gave them a demo tape and they came back and said that they actually really liked it and «Let’s release this thing». So this is the story of the first Snog record.

02. Which music did you grow up with? What do you listen to these days? How did your music tastes develop?

Well I guess I still have one foot in this, what I would call the roots music, the country music. Actually Im listening to a lot of very obscure hillbilly music.  Im also listening to this kind of avantgarde and electronic music. I’m also running a small record label that is re-issuing some of this weird hillbilly music, we’ve also done a lot of this Italian film music, italian library music; or production music - because there are some things in there that I really love. I’m not listening to any pop-music at all really.. Whenever I hear this music, I don’t like it, it feels creepy to me and weird. Honestly, I have a very big collection of records here.  

Today, I’m listening to an old-singer called Howard Vokes. We've just put out a record by a guy that I’m very fascinated by, called Red River Dave, who is like a newspaper but also a hillbilly singer at the same time. He is singing songs about tragedies or assassinations, murders, some eventor people dying - putting out a song about Marilyn Monroe’s death and assassination of John F Kennedy.

I’m listening to a musician called Raskovich and his album Science & Technology. Some gospel music - for some reason I really like this music, because I think it is not at all materialistic, because I find this materialistic view of the world depressing and actually wrong.

03 Did your studies in the art college influence your music career? Poetry, literature, music, painting – what were you interested in at the college?

I was most interested in the Dada guys, that’s not because I’m very learned about them; I’ve read some books about them yes, but I’m not an expert on these guys at all.  I simply liked their spirit. I liked their mischievous nature, they are being provocative, asking questions, causing trouble and being very cheeky I was drawn to the surrealists but not always - sometimes the surrealists are kind of boring actually. Im doing lots of big etchings, some prints of machines and characters - like people who would represent different facets of our society, of capitalism or the way out society works, doing lots of characters like this. If you look at some of my original pieces of art work from this time, they are on some of our records. There is a couple scattered on various records here and there. 

We had to do art theory which I hated. I thought our theory was the most terrible thing in the world. Telling people what to think of a piece of art I think is a mistake right there, and also, - this whole thought control process and telling people how to interpret things and what to think about them - I thought it was terrible, I hated art theory. It made me wanting to throw out bombs and set the building on fire. 

In my view lots of people have a different opinion about this but in my view the best thing about art and music and film writing - in all these creative areas is when they are provocative in some way. So almost anything that is provocative - I approve of. Because I think, this is just my nature, I like to provoke things I guess, but also it is important because our whole society is too comfortable intellectually and too small intellectually so it’s good to provoke simply to try to make things a bit bigger intellectually. 

04. You often have anti-consumerism motives in your music, you mention McDonalds and other companies. What is the background of this?

In my view (and of course this is a question you can talk about for hours and hours and hours, but I’ll try to give you the simplest ideas that I can) this corporate influence on our society is very evil. It seems this corporate influence really controls our politics and completely controls our media and worst of all largely controls the way people think and interact with the world and each other.


Snog

You can argue about how powerful it is of course, but I think it is too powerful. No matter how powerful you think it is or it isn’t - I think it is too powerful. 



«The are some missiles and all this    kind of stuff, of course, but the        biggest battlefield is for control of      people’s minds»


And this is something I guess I have been kind of obsessed with since I can remember. This comes through in our music. It’s an important topic and there is not enough art and music about this topic - and there is not enough resistance to this corporate power in our society.  This is not a theory. Snog doesn’t have a headquarters marketing department or research department that tells us that we need to be talking about this «thing» or whatever. I’m writing the lyrics - this is what i’m thinking about, this is what goes through my mind, it’s not a deliberate thing. We don’t have some idea that we should be doing this because this is good for marketing. It’s what is on my mind and it’s what i think. I haven’t heard many songs about it and it is our contribution for better or for worst.

05. What do you think about the works of Chuck Palahniuk? In the «Fight Club» he described the consumer generation. Do you agree with his point of view and why?

I’ve read a couple of his books which I quite like, I’m not exactly sure what his point of view is, I guess he is against this thing. That was quite some time ago that I have read some of his books, but regardless of whether I agree or not agree with his point of view; I think these are all very good questions to raise.  I’m happy for people to raise these questions. I thought that Fight Club was a good film really. I haven’t seen it since it came out. I heard from somebody that was connected to the film, that they basically pulled the stunt to get the film made. They had a fake script so they would approve the script (20th Century Fox) and the film would get made. Then, Rupert Murdoch saw the final film, he hated it, thought it was the worst thing that was ever made and tried to pull the plug on it and get it not released.  I think that’s really interesting if it’s true or it’s partly true - I have no idea. But even if it’s partly true I think it is a nice story. I heard a similar thing about the other film which I really liked, called Idiocracy

Idiocracy (2006)

The film was made and then the 20th Century Fox hated it and they tried to bury it as much as they could because it talks about the media’s influence in making people completely stupid. And it was also very very funny at the same time.

06. What kind films are interesting to you personally? Can you recommend something?

Yeah, I’m interested in all sorts of films, but I mean the whole variety of thing - actually it’s not exactly a film but one of the most striking things i’ve seen recently is Black Mirror TV series. I think it’s really great, otherwise I’m not really watching television ever. I did watch one other television series I enjoyed, which was The House of Cards, because I like all this political intrigue. I found it very entertaining. It’s kind of bullshit in a way, because there is all sorts of things that they won’t talk about which I think is really interesting - they won’t mention the banking industry or finance industry. They are invisible, the arms industry are invisible, Israel is basically invisible, I find it fascinating what they won’t talk about. Nevertheless it’s still pretty interesting this political intrigue. And I liked that. In my view it was basically based on Bill and Hillary Clinton.

I’m kind of allergic to this all Hollywood bullshit stuff generally. There would be some exceptions of course, but generally honestly I have to tell you my theory is that (and you may disagree with this, you may think I am a lunatic in fact), Hollywood is really kind of like an arm of the Pentagon. I think that the mainstream media is basically an arm of the Pentagon as well. I was talking to a friend of mine who works in Hollywood and we were talking about the economics of it, which makes no sense. Even just the basic economics of Hollywood makes zero sense at all. There is no way that this blockbuster, these stupid hopeless pathetic moronic blockbuster movies that they make again and again  an ever make any money, it’s not economically possible. It’s beneath an insect to watch these things.


«In the college we had to do art theory which I hated. I thought our theory was the most terrible thing in the world. It made me wanting to throw out bombs and set the buildings on fire»

Even if they’re completely stupid, they can possibly make any money. I have read the amazing article some years ago about how the Pentagon couldn’t account for three trillion dollars or five trillion dollars of its budget.. trillion! Trillions of dollars! They can’t say where it’s gone, or where they spent it or who they gave it to. They just can’t account for. And that’s an amazing amount of money. This figure is incredible. Some of this will be going to Hollywood and some of it will be going to mainstream media because I don’t think mainstream media is in any way economically viable because it doesn’t make any sense, that they can afford to do this crap. Hollywood and mainstream media are incredibly good machines for controlling people’s minds. They are really fantastic at this. 

And I think that the biggest battlefield in the world really is the battlefield for the mind, there are some tanks and there are some missiles and all this kind of stuff, of course, but the biggest battlefield is for control of people’s minds and this is where the battle is. It’s in Hollywood and in mainstream media. After this American election of last year it has become obvious. Hillary Clinton.... In my view she is a monster - you’ll be better voting for Satan than for Hillary Clinton, but since she lost I think mainstream media made it obvious, very very obvious that they want complete control, that they do not like not having control over the story. They will make up this story - I’m sure you are aware, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about this, this whole bullshit, Russian collision thing - it’s like a child fantasy story. It’s bullshit, it’s clearly bullshit. If there was any evidence - I would listen to the evidence. But there is none. There is nothing, nothing. But still the story is going on and on and on for like a year. This is a very good clue that the mainstream media is just about control. 

To be continued

Interview: David Thrussell (Snog) (Part 2)
Interview: David Thrussell (Snog) (Part 3)

Snog releases

Questions: Ilya Kudrin/Faith

Big thanks to Magda Kozuba and Mikhail Kidt