By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 2003
Matt Zane may have first made a name for himself in the adult film industry, but these days he’s focusing on a musical career. His industrial-metal band, Society 1, recently returned with a new album, “Exit Through Fear.” Several years in the making, the disc was actually completely re-recorded in order to include a revamped line-up and truly capture Zane’s vision for the project. The result is a great rock record that transcends categorization. We got Zane on the phone to talk about the making of the album, the “Nothing” video (“the first real suspension ever done by a singer in a music video!” according to their bio) and other topics.
I noticed that the CD has a pretty short running time, even though it has 10 tracks. Where you intentionally making all the songs short?
Matt: “Well, we had some longer tracks that were supposed to be on the record. But to tell you the truth, there’s not really a reason behind it. We had 14 tracks for the record and before we signed to Earache we were funding it ourselves. We ran out of money, and couldn’t finish a couple of the tunes. We actually had a song called “Mother Father” that was longer, more of an epic piece. But we just didn’t have the funding, because it was the second time we were recording it. So we only wound up with ten tunes, and that’s that. At the time it was done and we shopped it, we said ‘here it is, do you want us to do more?’ and they said ‘no, no, it’s good enough.”
Since you re-recorded the album – how would you compare the original version to the one we hear?
Matt: “That record compared this one…. the version that’s actually been released is far better, probably at least 5 to 10 times better. I just think that we had a lot of time to progress in our writing skills. I’m very happy with the end result. I guess the only thing I’d have liked to happen differently would be to have a few more tunes on it.”
Are there particular songs that you think improved more than others?
Matt: “I think all of them improved dramatically. I haven’t listened to the original version in a while, so I can’t think of any in particular. We’d been recording this version for 2 years. I think all of it just got a lot better.”
What made you decide to go with a label this time, as opposed to self-releasing?
Matt: “I didn’t understand how difficult it is to release your own record, to get it in the stores. My reasoning was, ‘I’m on VH-1, I’m on MTV, I can tour around the country, I’m in Spin, Rolling Stone…. It’s going to be easy to sell my record.’ So I started my label, and started trying to sell it. But I didn’t really understand that a lot of it depends on how strong your distribution is. I didn’t matter how many times I was on television, or how many tours I did across North America; I just wasn’t going to get it in the stores. And I ended up losing a lot of money on it. Really I don’t care so much about that; it was just frustrating because I felt it could have reached a lot more people than it did. So when we finished the second record, we had the idea that if no one wanted it, we could release it ourselves.
How we got introduced to Earache was that I’d been talking to Al [US president of Earache] for a couple of years because I helped a band on my label called December get signed to them. And then I did a video for one of Earache’s bands, December Wolves ‘Porn Again Christian.’ When I started to shop it to labels and the offers started to come back, I’d call Al for advice. And then eventually I thought ‘these guys seem really cool’ and just said ‘hey Al, I’ve got a crazy idea, what do you think if we do this together?’ So I sent him the record, and he liked it, and everything went from there.”
How did you come to work with Paul Raven from Killing Joke?
Matt: “Paul Raven was in the band for a while. He decided to join when he heard the demo version of the album. So he got in the band, and we actually played a half a dozen shows with him, and he played on the record. But between the time of mixing it and getting signed, he became a little anxious… he’s basically a legend….. and decided to go off and play with Godflesh. We had to get someone to fill in while he was gone, and when Godflesh ended up dismembering, we had already gotten somebody. He just said ‘ok, good luck’ and is off doing other things now. But it was a great honor to play with him, and have him on the record. It was very cool.”
How do you tend to divide up your time between music and the porno industry?
Matt: “Before, I would go to work and do all my porno stuff in the morning and then do music for the rest of the day and night. As far as the shooting, I’d just have to allow the days for that. But now I’m taking a break from actually directing anything, because now I’m on a label and they’re helping out with touring and press and so forth. I focus on music, and that’s the way it will be until it can no longer be like this.”
What other projects have you been involved with?
Matt: “I had a spoken word record entitled “Words As Carriers.” I was doing an independent film called “Contrasting Views Of People Living An Artistic Life Style” which was also released and reviewed and so forth. Previous to that I did the first Society 1 record. And in between all that I did a bunch of music videos.”
Who would you say inspired or influenced you to get into music?
Matt: “Well I think some of the first people that I was influenced by were The Doors, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Zappa. People of that nature.”
What was the inspiration behind the “Nothing” video, and the suspension sequence?
Matt: “The way that I look at it these days is that most videos are nothing more than glorified commercials. And I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do something that would actually return the video to an art form and inspire people. Rather than just be something they would be compelled to go buy because it was pushed into their brain as a commercial. I wanted to create something that had a little more substance and meaning rather than just be a bunch of dudes jumping around in a room. So I guess that was my initial inspiration for the video. And also, it was another opportunity for me to push myself and push my physical limits. I feel that anything that pushes boundaries, especially physical boundaries, is beneficial to creativity and expanding the mind. It worked really nicely with this ritual that I wanted to perform.”
For those who have the CD but haven’t seen you live yet, how would you compare the disc to your performances?
Matt: “The CD is one thing. It’s put together really well. But if you want to hear exactly what the cd sounds like, you might as well stay home. Because that’s not what we do live. It’s got a rawer edge to it, and we don’t have anything on tape or anything along those lines. Plus, we have a certain crowd involvement to the show. There are 2 live shows that take place; there’s the show that contains the music, and the show that contains the audience participation. Which can range from anything like a near riot to mild violence to people having ecstatic pleasure and bliss from the experience.”
Are you the main songwriter in the band?
Matt: “Well, I have been in the past. On the most recent album, I wrote a lot of the material. My guitar player, Sin, who is the main other writer in the band, wrote some of the material and played all the guitars. But from this point on, it’s going to be a collaboration between all of the members and me.”
Have you started writing new material?
Matt: “Yeah, we had 2 months after the last tour, which ended around New Year’s. We took that time to write some material and just get a catalog of new stuff ready to go whenever the time comes to do another record. And we’ve been writing equally and all together and spontaneously. It’s been working out great. I’m really excited.”See all interviews →