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QRD #65 - Getting by with friends
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Jason Young
Jamie Barnes
Mike VanPortfleet
Scotty Irving
Shaun Sandor
Ben Vendetta
Ben Link Collins
Nick Marino
Joe Kendrick
Brian John Mitchell
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Scotty Irving
Scotty Irving
Interview with Scotty Irving of Clang Quartet
October 2013
Scotty Irving
Scotty Irving is Clang Quartet.  Experimental & caustic noise in the name of Jesus Christ & one of the most controversial, loved, & important parts of the Silber family.

QRD – I’m planning a new QRD that is mainly me catching up with friends. Hope you can take part.

Scotty – No. I don’t even like you.

QRD - How did you get into building your own instruments?

Scotty – It started when I began to search for sounds outside of what normal instruments could give me, but later on I did it because I wanted to make an object that was more personal. Building the things I build is an extension of what I do with drums & percussion.

QRD - How was the Japanese tour?

Scotty – One of the best experiences I have ever had as a musician/performer, & as a person in general! Being able to perform with people who have either influenced my own work or just happen to be people whose work I am fond of was beyond anything that mere words can say. Being able to visit the country whose pop culture has always been a major love of mine was pretty sweet, too!
QRD - Do you have to build new instruments for a tour like that? If so, what do you do with them at the end of the tour?

Scotty – I just condensed the ones I am currently using. I was able to bring almost every homemade item with me in just two very full suitcases. Drums, cymbals, & amps were already in Japan waiting for me, which was a WONDERFUL relief.

QRD - Do you think your recordings or the live shows are more important?

Scotty – The live shows still have top priority, but the recordings have helped me get the word out there, too.
QRD - A lot of your recent releases are recordings of live performances, but your early performances were more studio experiment oriented. Do you think you’ll move towards studio stuff again at some point in the future?

Scotty – Well, the two most recent releases are both studio recordings. The Poison Of Unforgiveness on Blossoming Noise, & Demons & Swine on Therapy Tapes. Both of these were taken from a mammoth recording session from summer 2012. I used nearly every instrument I own!

QRD - Do you see “noise” as a slanderous term?

Scotty – If it is a slanderous term, then I am guilty of slander. Noise for me, as a  performance term, means any noise that may fall outside of normal pitch or tone. I usually use the term HARSH NOISE, because that is what it probably is to most people outside of this field. People outside the noise scene usually associate the word noise with something they either don’t like or cannot identify.

QRD - How is the noise community different from other music scenes?

Scotty – For the MOST part, the noise scene seems to have people in it who have ideas, performances, or sounds outside of the so-called normal music world.  My personal experiences with other genres of music have lead me to believe there is more of a community sense in the noise scene than there is in some other music scenes. I am sure that some would debate me on that!

QRD - Do you ever build instruments for other people to use?
Scotty – Not yet. I DID build a small art piece for Carly Ptak of Nautical Almanac out of some old props I once used in Clang Quartet.

QRD - I know every so often you deconstruct & reconstruct your instruments to keep the show fresh. How do you know when it’s time to switch it up?

Scotty – When I get bored. HA! Usually I wait until I have to replace something that breaks, but sometimes I change things in an attempt to improve them. It never fails, I will finish an instrument & be happy with it, then soon afterward, I will decide it would have worked better if I had done it another way. AARRRRUUUGUGGHHHHH!!!
QRD - If someone calls your show performance art instead of music, how do you feel about it?

Scotty – I would agree with them to a point. My show is three parts: Drums/Percussion; Harsh Noise; &, yes, Performance Art. I still think that is the best way to describe the whole show.

QRD - How many shows do you do a year lately & how many would you like to?
Scotty – I am happy to say that the shows I play these days are more on the quality side if not quantity. Several years back, I performed 150 shows in one year, & many of them were not worth the amount of effort put into them. In 2012, I only performed around 50 or so shows, but those were much more of what they should have been. I try not to be TOO picky, but I do not accept every show offer I get.  It is pretty bad when you have been around for as long as I have & certain people still try to make you pay the same dues you paid when you were a beginner. How many shows would I like to do? Not sure of an exact number, but I would add some more if the opportunities were there.
QRD - With the physicality of your live show, do you think the intensity level may change as you get older?

Scotty – Every year I do this show, I consider that! So far, so good. But I am not under the false impression that I am always going to be able to perform a show like the one I do now. If I can no longer make something work the way it should, I will either change it or stop doing it. One advantage I DO have is the show keeps me in better shape than I would be in without it!

QRD - On & off I know you have a lot of musical projects. What do you have going on besides Clang Quartet currently?

Scotty – Don’t pass out, but at this time, pretty much Clang Quartet & nothing else. I did play some improvisational drum set shows with Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple, & much more!) on the Japanese tour. I would usually perform with him after the Clang Quartet shows every evening. I also played with Atsushi Tsuyama (also of AMT, etc.), Taro Tornado, & Nani Satojima. Taro & Nani are both drummers, & Makoto had it set up on some of the shows for me to join one of them in a double drumming performance, which is something I have seldom if ever done! It got me out of my comfort zone.
QRD - How did you end up using the small bass drum that you use & how do you get it to sound as big as it does?

Scotty – What you are referring to is a bass drum with a kit I have had since 1981. It is a 1967 Ludwig kit & the bass drum is only 18 inches in width. To be honest, I think the workmanship of the drum itself is where the volume comes from. I also use types of drumheads that bring out more depth in the sound. Could be the bass drum pedal, too. Probably all of the above! Why do I use that kit? It sounds amazing!!! I also use another kit with a larger bass drum, too. By the way, on the Japan tour, I played a different kit each night. If I had had to do that years back, I would have been scared to death. Now, I just sit down & play. Guess those 34 years of playing have given me SOME confidence over the years!
QRD - Anything else?

Scotty – Thank you for interest in what I do, & for helping me do it when I really needed it! God bless you, my friend.
Other QRD interviews with Scotty Irving:
Christian Musician interview  with Scotty Irving of Clang Quartet (March 2011)
Clang Quartet interview (July 2002)