G-Class from Dayton brings the party midweek at Skully’s as a poetic threesome hip-hop comparable to any popular artists rolling in Diablos and tossing paper around…they got the females in the “Wear Your Sexiest Outfit” competition on the dancefloor despite the rough crowd and heat-exhausted clientele. Everything was tight in what must be a tough genre to work in…I expect these guys to be making many more appearances in the future. Check out their free release at giftedclass.bandcamp.com – Stevey Seven
Peter Keller interviewed by
Ian C Stewart
Peter, hello. Is there anything you’re feeling particularly mouthy about at the moment?
Well, I am getting older, so I’m getting more tempted to yell at kids to get off my lawn, or to complain about their rock-and-roll and hula hoops. I look forward to getting old, because I can then get away with being mouthier.
Let’s talk about your musical/sonic influences. Who are your biggest influences and why? Who were your early influences?
As for direct influences, the groups I first heard back in the 80’s such as Controlled Bleeding, Nurse With Wound, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire, Merzbow, and the like were obvious touchstones for me. Although I have always had an appreciation for cold distorted sounds it seems; one of my earliest memories I’ve had is being in my crib and hearing the sounds of motorcycles going by. Obviously I had no idea what a motorcycle was, but even then I was hearing how the pitch and frequency of the sound changed in the distance as the soundwaves traveled across the landscape. I was also captivated by the sound of thunder at an early age. It was a sound that terrified me as well as made me awed at its power. If I’m able to project even a fraction of that same feeling, then I feel that to be my success.
Where do you see your music/sound/creation heading?
I have been taking a bit of a break from recording anything new. My project as Bacillus is not dead, so it will pop up again; it’s just not apparent when that will be. But when I do, I may experiment with longer-form releases, something that is as gritty as before, but with more cold atmospheres. I will likely make sounds in the same way as I’ve done in the past; I don’t see myself using laptops and software to construct them. I still prefer the warmth, the messiness, and the hands-on experience of analog.
What’s in your home studio setup?
Everything I use is analog, even today. I use cheap/broken tape players, turntables, an array of pedal effects, a couple of cheap mixers, some homemade circuits, a variety of broken electronics that make sound, a mess of cables, an a workhorse of a boombox that I’ve had since the 1980s that has the delightful idiosyncrasy of being able to play two cassettes at once. My “studio” is basically a junk heap.
What’s your latest release?
Ha, “latest” is quite relative for me. My latest release was back in 2010. Of material I recorded in, I think, 2003 or so. Cipher Productions from Australia has put out Bacillus – “Anthracis” business-card CDR. Probably my briefest release for someone who is known for putting out albums that are 20 minutes or under. This time it’s four tracks in less than 6 minutes dealing with Anthrax (1. Inhalation of Weapons-Grade Spores in De-Staticized Aerosol Agent, 2. Encapsulated for Environmental Resistance, 3. Exotoxin Production Resulting in Hemorrhage and Edema, 4. High Level of Antiphagocytic Virulence Factor).
Can you describe your writing/working methods?
I don’t write so much as I construct/destroy. I take existing music sources and degrade them down to the point of nonrecognition. I scratch and sand down records. I find cassette tape flapping in the breeze on the side of roadways, and make loops from them. I take discarded/free cassettes and pull out the tape, crumple it, expose it to the elements, rub magnets on them, and so on, then spool them back in, sometimes recording over it. I pour glue over records, then peel them off and play the result. I splice segments of these raw sounds together, layer them, and run them through a varying bank of distortion, EQ filters, and such to get a dynamic wall of rough raw textural sound. I basically physically wrestle sounds down to submission.
What else made you decide to start making sounds of your own?
When I saw how simple it was to make a racket. The first time I hooked up a boombox to another cassette recorder and ran a tape (I forget which one. Maybe a Depeche Mode tape) through with all the levels set at maximum, and loved how the overloaded circuits turned a poppy synth sound into an angry spittle of rhythmic distortion. But I didn’t want to make noise for noise sake, as I saw very quickly how many other people were making a racket once I connected with the cassette scene. So I developed a concept that was parallel to the physical degradation of the sounds, one of disease breaking down the body, and focused on applying the ideas of disease, microbiology, pathology, pandemics, and so on to a narrative of sound as infections. That’s how Bacillus came into being.
Are you active in your local music scene?
Very much so, although not so much in the performance realm as I used to. I have played live as Bacillus, as well as under other names for other concepts (Natural Order, The Genitals), but I have been much more active as a nightclub DJ. I do so around town (in Seattle) under four different names, spinning four distinct styles: DJ Misanthropologist (noise, dark ambient, death-industrial, etc.), DJ Coldheart (old-school goth/industrial/coldwave/postpunk), DJ Dubonnet (1920-30s jazz/blues), and DJ Pelvis (1960s mod/garage/fuzz/funk/freakbeat). So I’ve been quite busy doing that and putting my extensive music collection to work.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
In a sense, I collaborate with different musicians every time I pick up one of their records or cassettes to alter. What I’ll probably do in the future is use recordings from musicians who have died from disease.
What other artists are you excited by?
I listen to a wide swath of music, and I’m always digging to find the obscure gems that time forgot. Every week I come away with something intriguing, whether it be rare soul, coldwave, vintage blues, old synth landscapes, or something that’s off-the-wall weird that makes me laugh to hear it. Lately a lot of rare minimal wave has been reissued, so I’ve been enjoying that resurgence in interest. There hasn’t been much “new” that I’m excited about; it all sounds too much like things I’ve heard in the past, and I prefer the original sounds more. I constantly find new sounds by digging around through past history, and I enjoy being able to share them by DJing, so much so that a friend commented that “it’s like having a music historian as a DJ.”
What’s next for you, musically/sonically/creatively speaking?
Music will always be a big part of my life, whether appreciating it or creating it. I can’t say what I’ll be creating any more than I can say what I’ll be listening to. But I’m excited to hear what comes next, whether it comes from me or someone else.
What did I forget to ask you?
“Have you checked your smoke alarm lately?” Yes. Yes I have.
What’s the URL for your website?
My exciting ancient Web 2.0 site: http://www.freewebs.com/bacillus/
BACILLUS on Discogs
BACILLUS on NoiseMP3
Thank you, Peter!
Ingrown Records compilation, Bandcamp and limited edition cassette
Derek Poteat drops guitar science with the brief “Abbreviat,” fresh and experimental sounds from the start. Tearo is next, “Let’s Die A.I.,” drops a nice break, under heavenly synths, this could be John Foxx or Bill Nelson for all I know. Nice.
Tesla Recoils’s “The Penal Colony” is more toward the soundtrackish end, with layers of blustery synths flying all around the place. Tight! Treasure Hunt is next, “Dillard’s Shopping” is pure Magnetic Fields, or Ken Clinger, same thing, swirly synth pop. Lovely. Orphaned Holograms “Ascension Dimension Disintegration” is very much like modern Skinny Puppy, which means a nice beat out front, twiddly synth bits, echoey samples and the occasional machine noise. Break it down. I hadn’t planned on writing about every single piece on this compilation, but Wyss’s “A JPEG Jam” is so fucking cool, I had to mention it. What the hell, Peter Gabriel vibe or something, uplifting and then a dubstep breakdown? Outstanding. Bryce Eiman drops “The Corm Tunic,” reverbed synth swells for 2.5 minutes, can’t go wrong. Shit yeah. Caucasians’s “Pious Bias” literally sounds like a surveillance recording of some dudes playing keyboards in a room, maybe reversed & echoed backwards, it’s very cool. Dead Chimp “Twisted Fuck” is fun, bouncey, dancey, bassy and amusing, which is all I’m asking for. Come on. Fun and funny samples, I hope they’re supposed to be funny. JoieJoieJoie’s “Les Iguanes” features enervating wordplay and asian percussion & melodies & stuff, plus oh my god an actual TUNE and a SONG with LYRICS, oh my god. Devastatingly cool song, with so many good things about it, I can’t stand it. First Dog To Visit The Center Of The Earth gets the last spot with “Perdido,” which is 7 minutes of jammed synth weirdness. I enjoyed this whole thing, what an unexpected treat.
Ian C Stewart
THE ERNIE FOUR
“One Baskervoid Frottage: 30 Minutes With The Ernie 4” Bandcamp stream
Soulful echoes from distant times and spaces, layered and sliced like bisecting the universe itself. This piece is thirty minutes of continuous feelings, the inner tentacles of the mind feeding back on itself. Cross sections of fear enfolding themselves and each other. There are moments. Echoes that sound like trains colliding and collating? The synth? drones throughout and toward the end taunt you, teasing you with what could’ve been! This could’ve been a lost Cyberaktif b-side after all. But no, it couldn’t. It wasn’t, it didn’t. This overarching crescendo comes home, the end. What, do it again? Okay. Let’s go one more time.
Ian C Stewart
“Blowing Chunks Of Theory” CD album thing
Mostly? entirely? instrumental? Fun musical and sonic puns about music, like “Diamonds & Pears.” “One Mile High” is slow and spacey, like a Prince song played at 20 BPM? This album is not like symphonic dubstep dirge digeridoo glitch-witch or anything out of left field, Russ is giving ya/me what ya/I want, which is great songs, great production, great performances, great fuckin’ guitar tone that makes me wanna pick up a guitar myself, and drumming that sounds like a live drummer, except better. It ain’t fuckin’ rocket science. “Vitreous Humour” is another favorite, it’s like rocked-out MIDI files of a Marilion song or something. Hah. “Eat The Sun” contains some symphonic elements, don’t get me wrong, some cool phrasing, fiddly bits, cool shit to go around. Also, “A Tin Teardrop” which is bulbous, also tapered? No, but it does sound like a fitting tribute to Dr. Beefheart & His Electric Teeth. “Insomnia,” god DAMN those drums are cool! “Try Eating That (In Stereo)” and “Leaping Stink Snow” are an humorous pair of homages maybe to the “Zoot Allures” era, and to Frank’s Synclavier years respectively. Or I could be totally wrong, fuck if I know. “Stale Trident” brings the proceedings to a close, in grand, lighters in the air, fog machine, laser finale fashion. Get it now, stop reading this. Shut up.
Ian C Stewart
Manscaping MP3 2012
What it’s not: music, fun. What it IS is is…. layers of feedback and noise to tickle and delight your inner ear demon. Twenty one minutes of what in the holy crap is that supposed to be? Feedback, effects. That type of thing. There are different elements, it’s not just one continuous drone. It’s like, let’s layer the biggest pile we can possibly do, all at once, till it kind of peters out toward the end. Why not. It’s not bad but it’s also not very enjoyable to listen to. If given the choice between Peer Group and Lynyrd Skynyrd, I would still choose Peer Group. I hope that never happens.
Ian C Stewart
AUTOreverse #14, summer 2011
Ian C Stewart
John, thanks for answering a few questions. Let’s start with that old chestnut, influences. Who are your biggest musical influences and why?
If you mean who do I think I want to sound like, that depends on when the release came out. My style has changed a couple of times since I started in 1986.
My earliest experiences with electronic music were Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. I was crazy about anything with synthesizers in it.