Skinny Puppy on Being Used for Guantanamo Torture: "Maybe a Prisoner Was a Fan and Secretly Enjoyed It"
Photo by Emilie Elizabeth and John Kraw
Deep in the hells of Guantanamo Bay, extreme bass music rumbles from Bazookas as federal agents use the music of Skinny Puppy to torture prisoners.
It's a fact that has been confirmed by the pioneering industrial band, and that inspired its latest album, Weapon.
Now, if you've never been to military prison, rest assured the Skinny Puppy tunes are the best part. So try to avoid being detained by the feds and shipped off to a detention camp. Instead, go see the band in concert at a place like Grand Central Miami.
Yesterday, in the run-up to that show, we here at Crossfade caught up with founding member cEvin Key to talk about cops, weed, and classic 808s.
Crossfade: How do you feel about your music being used to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba?
cEvin Key: We were gonna invoice the U.S. Government for musical services. But what's funny is maybe they came across a prisoner who was a fan and secretly enjoyed it. Like, it sounds bad to the guy doing the torturing, but the guy getting tortured is like, "Hey, I heard this before. Can you turn it up?"
You're Canadian. What do you think about Justin Bieber getting deported?
I think that's brilliant. He's acting like such a twat. He deserves it, for sure.
Haven't you ever been stereotyped for the music you make?
It's weird, because every time we go through a border or a check point or get stopped by the cops, there's always one guy that's like, "Hey, I'm a fan." It happened just the other day. We got pulled over in Arizona and they found all our weed and busted us and took it away. But I think since one of the guys said he liked us that they just let us off with a citation, so it was a lucky situation in the end. I think that military guys and people in the police force tend to like intense music.
What's your live show like for somebody who has never seen it or even heard of you before?
Whether it's 1985, or '92, or 2004, or whatever it might be, we've approached it the same since the first day. We bring a heavy balance between theater and music in a live setting. You have the three-dimensional visual aspect from our projectors and films, a transforming and transitional stage that I can't define, you have to see it to understand it, and a huge beautiful crew making it all work. It's a whole integrated performance that's like a time capsule that makes industrial music slightly relevant again for a brief moment.
Photo by Emilie Elizabeth and John Kraw
What about the bass?
Oh yeah, a lot of fuckin' bass. Bass friendly, for sure. I love bass. I even have a bass bra. I'm wearing this thing on stage that is actually a vest that is a polymer that is attached to these electrical current wires that vibrate in a perfect tone on my spine. SubPac invented it and I think it might be the next level of feeling music on an extreme level without damaging yourself.
What are some of the tools that you used to compose the music on Weapon?
We used a lot of our original equipment that we've held onto for the past 30 years. Now it's worth a ton of money. We kept with our original analog 808s, 909s, multi-kits, Minimoogs, and we supplemented by interjecting the great modern synths to create new textures.
What about programs for all the other producers out there?
Logic9 is what I mostly work in. And I love Renoise. Everybody uses Ableton, but I typically only use it for small pieces and then try to focus my work center around Logic.
My studio has been a work of passion for 20 years and it's all synced up within that environment, every clock in the room. It's sort of a combination of a new digital audio workstation and an old analog one, so it's amazing.
What's your history with Miami?
Crazy. We've been playing there since, like, 1987. Giant rave shows, wild shows at the Cameo Theater. Also, two of my best friends in the world are from there. Shout out to Otto Von Schirach and Nayib Estefan. I'm in with the Cubans.
You speak any Cuban?
Yeah. Oye, Broye. I love that.
Skinny Puppy. As part of the Shapes for Arms Tour 2014. With Army of the Universe. Friday, February 7. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $26.50 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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