With a growing number of American industrial bands making guitars figure prominently in their music, Xorcist’s sound comes as a nice change. The solo project of Bat, who also runs the CyberDen BBS, Xorcist creates highly structured, entirely electronic, “cyberindustrial” dance music. The songs are highly aggressive and manage to avoid repetition without adopting traditional musical techniques. Xorcist currently has an album out, “Damned Souls,” as well as an ep, “Bitches.” The CD version of the latter also includes “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a cover of the Nirvana song that Bat did for the Re-Constriction “Shut Up Kitty” compilation. Bat recently completed the second Xocist album, “Phantoms”, and took the time to do the following interview by e-mail.
What made you start recording as Xorcist and what type of musical background (influences/experience) did you come from?
What made me start recording was the desire to merely get my music out there. I wasn’t too concerned how many people would think it sucked or was great, but was more interested in creating something from scratch. Taking it to completion without any outside help. Xorcist is pretty much just myself, not because I don’t want to work with anyone else, but because if you want something done right, you better do it yourself.
Influences range from that dark period of time known as ‘New Wave’ to classical to punk to soundtracks to … it’s all over the place. I was even at the 2nd US Festival… and NOT on New Wave day.. Heavy Metal day… another dark page from Xorcist’s past.
Experience has drawn from just that. Hanging out and talking, working with people in the field, be it keyboard techs, performers, sound designers, etc.
How many releases have you had?
Official? 2.5 – Damned Souls CD, Bitches EP and the Bitches CD w/Smells. Unofficial? (Demo tapes, compilations, etc.) Somewhere around 15-20.
This style of music doesn’t seem radio-friendly enough to become mainstream, but then again noisy indie guitar rock didn’t seem like it would either but has. Do you see aggressive electronic music as something that will come up from the underground in a big way? Do you even want it to?
Every dog has its day. People are getting bored to death of the grunge/rap thang and this kind of music always pokes its head out once in a while only to be replaced by another form of ‘alternative’ rap or grunge… I think it’s going to have to be a situation where a station just has to play it, for a few hours a day here and there. But before some major FM station does this, LA will have to look a lot more like Blade Runner.
What made you cover “Smells Like Teen Spirit”?
It was suggested to me at approximately the same time I was thinking of actually covering it. The ‘spirit’ aspect had a natural Xorcist ring to it, and I already had samples for it from 6 months ago during a sample-fest… so when Chase from Cargo suggested it, that got me off my ass to record it.
Do you play live at all? If so, is it a problem adapting the music to the live setting?
I did play quite a few shows. Toured from S.F. to San Diego and back twice. It’s a blast. But Xorcist shows are technically taxing as well as physically. Adapting the stage to the correct environment has always been my motto… but each show has been different in a way… The place is usually a mess by the time the show is over… things like broken bits of statuettes, smashed keyboards, burnt bible pages, cylume light paint… etc…
Regarding your live show, do you use other musicians? What type of instrumentation do you use and how do you deal with the sequences (live or DAT)?
The first Xorcist show(s) were just myself on stage with my entire studio with drum pads, 5 keyboards, and an Atari ST… It was live sequencing and playing nightmare complete with head mike…
From there, I had other musicians help out, giving them parts to play that I would drop out of the arrangement and if they ended up improvising a bit, that was cool as it gave things it’s live feel. The last show equipment wise, consisted of 3 members.
Luz Sid: EPS + Juno 106 both live
Mr. Meanor: EPS live. 2 Drum pads to central PM-16 & a cymbal.
Bat: EPS + ??? (could be a SY-22, DSS-1, whatever I feel like draggin) live.
4 Drum pads linked to central PM-16.
Rhythm Stick linked to PM-16 Midi In
PM-16 MIDI out routed to THRU
PM-16 THRU routed to Bat’s EPS for live triggering of sounds
PM-16 MIDI THRU Split to Atari ST which was programmed to display graphic images depending on the instrument triggered. (Video Drums)
DAT : Yes, this beasty provides the backing tracks. About 40-60% of the material. It’s more reliable then a sequencer.
Spoken word samples seem to play a big part in your music. Do you have any favorite sources? When in the song writing process do you select the samples? Do you ever actually write around them?
Samples are/were a big part of some songs, yes. Sometimes, I’ll come across samples that sound either so intense or so silly that they must be used. I usually find the sample first and stock up so to say. 50% of the samples are just pulled because of their content, and then others are pulled as they inspire. Writing around samples is kinda a given, I think. It sounds pretty weird to just plop samples randomly into a song with no real meaning…
Do you tend to dedicate equal time to Xorcist and CyberDen?
Yes, but usually not at the same time. Right now, CyberDen is the main focus as it needs to be really stabilized, although I’ll take 24 hour breaks to work on new Xorcist material, such as the new stuff for Phantoms I am working on now which should be done this week.
Do you see advances in the “information superhighway” making traditional music distribution obsolete? If so, will this have a positive or negative effect on the artists?
Not while we’re alive. It’s gonna be 100 years before we’re really going to be able to easily, inexpensively and with little hassle, be able to log onto a network, stick a disc into a drive and tape a few buttons to then be presented with a band’s latest CD 5 minutes later. The technology to do that is too expensive right now. Sure, it can be done, but not for the consumer Joe… Anyways, where would we be able to hang out if not at the local record store?
What is your full name?
Peter Stone, but I adopted the name Bat after doing a show with another band who also had a singer who went by a name that was often truncated to “X” – Since people knew me as Xorcist, (Also X), it got real confusing that night. Hence, Bat was assigned to me because of my love for the creatures.
How did you go about getting signed?
I spent hundreds of dollars making my own demo tapes, duping them, printing and meticulously cutting out my own tape inserts, etc…. and sent them everywhere. I finally got a call back from a legitimate person, Don Blanchard, who ironically had found my tape at the bottom of his backpack 2 months after I gave it to him. He told me he was interested in starting a label and wanted to use Xorcist as its first release. The rest is history.
Also, the reason I say legitimate is because there were a lot of shit heads out there who didn’t have a clue… be careful out there.