Sebasstian interview may 23, 1996
dA Sebasstian is best known for his band Kill Switch...Klick. In addition to KSK he has a lot of projects going on including his really good ambient/spoken word/experiments recorded under his own name.
QRD – what market do you feel your music could be or should be more popular in?
dA – probably in the punk rock alternative type field. just because I think thereís a lot of things about KSKís music that would appeal to that group of people if they actually heard it. but because itís not (by most rock writers) put into that category. a lot of those people donít hear it. so, I think if more of the punk & alternative type journalists were writing about KSK, weíd actually do a lot better in that market.
QRD – what do you think has been your biggest break so far & what do you think is your biggest possible break in the next year?
dA – the biggest break that KSK had was obviously signing to Cleopatra. before that we were signed to another label that didnít do anything for us at all, & releasing tapes on your own you can only do so much. Cleopatra were really the people who got our music out. as far as bigger breaks, I think once this third album comes out that weíre working on right now, it will solidify the new sound of Kill Switch...Klick & thatís going to do a lot more for us than the first two albums did.
QRD – how do you feel about the apparent death of music as a universal aesthetic; that a hundred years ago it was seen as a link to god & universal consciousness & therefore appreciable by everyone, but now individuals only appreciate a small spectrum of whatís produced?
dA – well, the problem with most composer-musician-audience relationships is that the audience looks at the composer as a commodity, as a product. they actually look at the musician in terms of a candy bar or as a household item like a blender or something. rather than looking to creative people as an inspiration. some of the younger people still look at musicians & people who are doing things in the music field as being connected to god, or being part of a bigger thing that way; but I think most people nowadays treat music as a commodity, or just as something they put in the cd player to make them feel a certain way & they donít really take into account the creative aspect of the music in relationship with everything in life. I kind of feel that people in general donít look at music in a spiritual sense, they look at it as a product. & that to me is a real shame. like you kind of hinted at in the question, Beethoven & a lot of those people were considered very spiritual to the people who listened to the music & were moved by them. now itís not that way. in fact, what is religious music now? christian rock? thatís pretty sad.
QRD – what do you think of aliens & ufoís &/or mankindís current fascination with them?
dA – I think people are looking for a change right now in the world. & because they donít know how to make the change happen, they look to outside forces. I think a lot of people want to believe in ufoís & extraterrestrial intelligence. Iíve believed since I was a little kid that thereís life all around us. probably closer than we think. I believe people in general right now want to believe in that because they donít know how to change the world & they donít like the direction that the worldís going in. I get a sense that most people feel that way. & sometimes I think that a lot of people feel that if aliens landed theyíd say, "oh, wow, now we can change the world, everything will be different." rather than some cataclysmic disaster changing everything.... most people picture aliens coming as a peaceful process or an enlightening process, but still having a scientific edge. thatís appealing. I was actually thinking the other day if the aliens landed, would that increase or decrease the amount of christian believers in the world? I feel it would actually increase a lot of the religious beliefs rather than just blowing them out of the water.
QRD – do you prefer dogs or cats & why?
dA – I like them both. I wish that theyíd make a dog cat combination. maybe a dog that could give birth to kitties or maybe a mixed litter of cats & dogs. I like cats because theyíre very self-sufficient, but I like dogs because they would do anything for their master. theyíre very noble that way. theyíd never even think twice about giving their lives for their master. but at the same time cats are cool because they donít expect you to take care of them. itís kind of a more loose situation.
QRD – at what age does someone become old or come most in danger of becoming old?
dA – I think it varies with the person. everybody has their own timeline & when they think theyíre coming to the end of it, I think thatís when they get old. Iíve met people in their thirties or forties who died in their fifties & acted very old in their thirties & forties.
QRD – do you think in the past five or six years the business of music as an artform has changed with its growing popularity?
dA – well, to me music is always art first. it would be nice if I made enough money off my music to survive, in the sense of a job. but it seems disproportionate the way that the major record companies make money as oppose to how much money the artists themselves are making. itís really sad that music has become a business. Iíve always thought it would be cool if we lived in a socialist society where people who created music would automatically be given the things to live & to survive just because they were creative. artists & musicians & all other creative people so they wouldnít have to worry about their day to day struggle. thatís kind of an idealistic way of looking at things, but thatís how I wish it was.
QRD – what author do you believe most under appreciated & what one over appreciated by american pop society?
dA – I think Stephen King is the most overly appreciated. Iíve only liked one of his books that Iíve read & I donít care for any of his work. under appreciated... probably Jack Kerouac. Iíve always been a Kerouac fan. he is appreciated, but I donít think his impact is truly felt. a lot of people donít know how heís influenced society on the whole. for instance, "grunge" was a Kerouac word invention, read The Dharma Bums.
QRD – with presidents appearing on Mtv, does our culture seem to have corrupted into a "B" seventies sci-fi movie?
dA – yeah, I donít know. you mean Clinton being on Mtv? I think heís just trying to get as many people interested in what heís doing as possible.
QRD – Dole went on too.
dA – well, I liked Saturday Night Liveís on Dole when he was in the Real World skit, that was really funny. checking out girlsí underwear & stuff. "what are you talking about?" yeah, I think itís pretty sad, but I think itís just these guys trying to manipulate the media to the fullest extent. & they see the power of Mtv & I think they want a piece of it. theyíre trying to cash in. thatís the motto for the 90ís, "tune in, turn on, & cash in."
QRD – when listening to your own pieces do you find them unfinished or imperfect? do you have any you feel are complete?
dA – yeah, itís weird, it depends. some of the songs arenít complete, but theyíve already been released. especially if I go back & fix or change something & then re-release it; Iíve done that with a couple of songs & actually made them sound better. there is a constant flux. generally when I deliver a DAT tape to Cleopatra I feel that that album is as good as it can be at that point. so it is complete. sometimes a couple months go down the road & I decide to mutate it or change it a bit. I think thatís one of the cool things about the acceptance of the industrial genre for the artists to change or to re-work their stuff. itís almost parallel with classical music where a composer would write a symphony & do a performance of it in public, he might then decide he would take out the whole center section or re-write the ending or whatever. the audience kind of understood that. so I feel that all my songs are finished with the potential of becoming unfinished.
QRD – what is your favorite media to convey art?
dA – that changes. sometimes itís sculpture, most of the time itís music; but sometimes music gets to feel too much like a day job, especially when Iím getting into the tedious parts of mixing. at those points, if I break away & start to do sculpture, it seems like the music comes faster later. the same thing with poetry, sometimes Iíll be writing a poem & itíll give me an idea for some music, so Iíll go write some music or it will be an inspiration for a sculpture. they kind of intertwine with each other. basically poetry, sculpture, & music are my main forms of expressing myself.
QRD – when you look back at all the bands youíve been in & projects youíve been involved with, which are you most proud of?
dA – thatís a hard one. the obvious answer would be Kill Switch...Klick because it was my idea from the beginning & is my main project. but thereíve been some earlier bands that I was in that I am really proud of. a band called Freaks Amor that for me was a big step; I was really proud that I made it into that band. I had been playing in a three chord punk band that was my very first band, & then got accepted as a bass player & trombonist for Freaks Amor. which to me at that time was a really big step because they were playing regular shows in Los Angeles & getting opening slots for Suburban Lawns & Kommunity FK & bands that I had a lot of respect for at the time. so to me that was a real proud moment in my musical life, being in that band.
QRD – having been the main force to form the NEC & successfully obtaining places for non-mainstream bands to play in Seattle, have you thought about forming a national group for the same purpose?
dA – well, the whole thing with the NEC was really regional. because of the grunge thing in Seattle, a lot of bands were doing things that were getting pigeonholed into the techno & industrial genres & werenít getting as much attention. what the NEC was essentially trying to do was get recognition for these bands locally, it wasnít supposed to be national. the NEC served the purpose that it was originally intended to do. since then itís really changed. itís been difficult to keep it together too, because thereíve been points where some bands didnít agree with other bands on things. things almost fell apart quite a few times, so on a national level I donít know if it would work. I had talked with Michael Brighton of GEAR magazine a long time ago who was trying to do it on a national level with the Power Grid Network & he had a lot of problems getting bands to take part, especially when these bands were thousands of miles away. their level of commitment was not so high. with the NEC we would go to meetings every month & so we had to look at each other & say, "are we gonna get this done or not?" & that helped. I donít know if it would work on a national level.
QRD – is there anything important you feel people should know?
dA – I have a son, his name is Sid. & having him was very important to my life & kind of changed a lot of things. I think itíll be reflected in the next KSK album.
QRD – the american dream is to be wealthy, do you feel itís enough to simply get by?
dA – getting by should be enough, but the dream shouldnít have anything to do with money. I think the whole american dream being based on financial gain – thatís wrong. the american dream should be to be your own person & to be happy with who you are. the pursuit of happiness, thatís what it was originally – which is money for some people, but not for me.
QRD – what kind of candy would you be?
dA – a Kit Kat.