Sebasstian interview conducted by e-mail october 10, 1999
dA Sebasstian is best known for his industrial-punk band Kill Switch...Klick, but he also does ambient music & has recently started his own record label.
QRD – You recently started your own record label, what was the reason behind this & why did it change to Irregular from Indvsta?
dA – I have always wanted to have my own label... though it has turned out to be more work than I had initially envisioned. Kill Switch...Klick had completed its 4 album deal with Cleopatra Records & I started pitching KsK to other indie-labels & then I thought, "What the fuck am I doing? These labels don't have much more to offer than what I could do on my own in a few years." Me & Jeffrey Venturo had already layed the ground work for the legal end of an independent label so it was just diving into it. As far as the name goes, it's changed yet again, the new company name is iRegular.com & is heading into multi-media territory. We already have a video of short films available & are working on a Kill Switch...Klick LIVE concert video, featuring footage from shows in 1995- 1997 as well as two TV appearances. Indvsta Mvsic is still the name of my publishing company, I used that as a label name back in 1995 when my first solo CD came out, although it could be argued that all KsK CD's are my "solo" recording projects.
QRD – & are things working out with the new label, is it accomplishing its goals? How big do you hope for it to become realistically?
dA – Oh yeah, things are snow balling. Officially iRegular (pronounced – eye-regular) has only been active for one year. Since then we've put out 4 releases including the one video compilation, been getting international airplay for our releases & secured distribution deals with Redeye Distribution & NAIL Distribution, although NAIL hasn't done much for us. The new KsK album has actually started making money over the initial pressing costs. That's a lot for a company who’s only been around for a year. It is frustrating though having had a label with instant in-roads, that you no longer have access to. You have to start all over. The goals are to build a web presence, our new domain is iregular.com & the site should be up by winter this year. I think this could be huge if we get the web thing going & further our distribution.
QRD – You put out a Johnny Cash tribute as your first release, why did you choose this rather than the new KsK album?
dA – Both were in production at the same time. I had to make a decision to put the KsK album on hold for a few months while I finished recording the bands for the Johnny Cash comp. It was difficult, but looking back I think I made the right decision. Also releasing a compilation of that type was a good boost for "label identity", rather than people assuming that iRegular was going to be a vanity label for Kill Switch...Klick, which it isn't.
QRD – The new Kill Switch...Klick record has drastic re-workings in varying styles of older KsK songs, why did you decide to do this & what has the response been to it?
dA – For the potentially last Kill Switch...Klick record I wanted to do something different, & I had been messing with my acoustic guitar a lot. I decided to do an acoustic based rendition of KsK material. That was the original idea. I am very happy with the results, it is one of my favorite albums so far that I've recorded. The press has seemed to like it as well. CMJ really liked it, & it's charting nationally on college radio. It's outsold the Johnny Cash Tribute 2 to 1 in its first few months. But local radio stations here in Seattle have ignored it, I think they haven't even listened to it. They probably assume it's more of the same from that "electronic/industrial band." That’s the problem with being pigeon-holed into a genre, it can really limit your success.
QRD – You seem to have several projects you're working on besides KsK these days, is KsK drifting away from being your main project? Do you think KsK will ever start to play live again extensively?
dA – KsK is dead! Well, at least for now. I will be releasing a remix album of KsK stuff next year, but no more new material. I decided to drop the band name & just go by my own name. I really got tired of people asking – "so what do you do in Kill Switch...Klick?" As far as projects, I have a new thing called The Flathead 5 that should be out early next year. I started with 5 drummers in the studio & actually built the songs up from the percussion tracks. It's very tribal & "Tom Wait's Bone Machine Era" sounding. I've also done remixes & recording for Faith & Disease & Diamond Fist Werny, & hope to have a new dA. Sebasstian EP out by February 2000. As far as KsK playing live, I might do a reunion show or two... Mike Ditmore, my old drummer keeps talking about it, but that's it. I'm getting into multi-media & my new performances won't be music only events. I want to incorporate dance, theater, music & massive amounts of video... kinda like Lori Anderson shows. It's a whole new millennium ya know.
QRD – How is the new dA. Sebasstian solo record different from the first one, One Minute Endless?
dA – Well I've got two new albums in the works; the EP is almost done, it’s called Contaminate Me, but I had to put it on hold while I finished up the remixes for Diamond Fist Werny. Contaminate Me is mostly electronica style songs, kind of ambient like One Minute Endless, but more contemporary sounding. I've also just bought 3 new guitars, new synths, & a new drum machine & just started writing with 'em. The new sound is electric guitar based, but with serious electronics pulling it out of conventional guitar context. I'm going for a Chris Isaak meets Gary Numan sound. We'll see how soon I can get it done... probably by 2001. I'm also planning on re-issuing One Minute Endless without the plastic fencing cases, so regular retail stores can stock it.
QRD – You've started working on recording for other bands, do you just work with them as engineer or more as a producer giving them direction? Would you like doing this for any bands in particular?
dA – Each band I've worked with has different needs. And Christ Wept just needed an engineer. They were so set on what they wanted, so when I recorded their CD Destroy Existence, I was just an engineer, although I did give them advice on the final mixes of things. The same went for SMP when I did their demo. Faith & Disease has been different because I'm writing most of the keyboard lines & working closely with Eric & Dara to get they sound they want, but also giving advice. I would say that's more of a co-producer situation. I'm really proud of the work I've done with them... I just wish I had more time to do more. On the Johnny Cash tribute I was both engineer & producer, along with the bands & Jeffrey Venturo, except of course for the tracks we didn't record. Several of the artists on that CD had never recorded before in their lives so it was imperative to coax them into their best performances, that's a lot of what a producer does, helping the artist to fully realize a musical goal. As far as other bands, I'm so busy with my own recording projects that I don't seek-out production work, but I always enjoy working with Faith & Disease, they are an exceptional band.
QRD – I know that live you played autoharp on a song, do you ever plan to release the re-workings you had of songs you played for your 1997 tour?
dA – I write all kinds of short opening pieces for our live shows, “Rise” from the ALT. album was actually one of those intro pieces. I used the autoharp to start those shows. I would come out just by myself with my "electrified" autoharp & start singing this little folk song & then this small noise would start & build & build & build, jet sounds & screaming & machine noises until I was completely drowned out by noise. I would keep on singing completely oblivious to it all. During the whole thing the band members would come out & get into position & then all of a sudden the noise would stop, & into the first song we'd go. It was a very dramatic intro.
QRD – I know a few years back you released a chapbook of poetry, are you thinking of releasing another?
QRD – Actually I've expanded on Damnit Already Shutup, & plan on releasing a paperback version possibly with CD next year. It's one of many things on my to-do list. I haven't had the chance to write as much as I used to because of family time & getting the label going, etc. But hopefully all that will change as the label grows. I also plan on putting out my 1997 tour diary in paperback. The version that was published in The Rocket had to be edited for space reasons. They did a good job, but killed some of the content. I plan on having tons of the pictures I took on tour in it as well.
QRD – What type of monster would you most like to be & what kind do you identify with?
dA – Well that's a regular subject in my house! My son is 4 & has a Godzilla-Dinosaur-Dragon fetish. He's always asking me "Which one is stronger, Godzilla or T-Rex" & so on. I think I'd like to be a Dragon, with big bronze colored wind worn wings & a long silver & dark green neck. I'd like to breathe fire, cause that would be a trip, but I wouldn't burn any villages if they played music & made abstract artwork for me. Otherwise they'd fry!
QRD – What decade this century do you think has produced the best music?
dA – The fifties, with all the Jazz & R&B. It was a time of the American counter-culture awakening. I have always identified with the Beatnik mentality, more so than the hippie or even punk ones. You also had the birth of Rock & Roll & Rockabilly & a serious interest in other cultures music & art. There were also big avant-garde movements.
QRD – What's you favorite piece of musical equipment?
dA – I know this will fly in the face of what I've been preaching for the last 5 years, but I just bought a DeArmond Starfire electric guitar. I had it set-up as a Baritone guitar so it sounds real low for a guitar, kinda in-between a bass & guitar. Its lowest string is tuned to a B flat. I've been playing the hell out of it since I got it. I also just got a Korg Electribe A. It's freaky! It's got just a few knobs, but it makes these very strange noises instantly, it's very inspirational.
QRD – Are there any myths about yourself you'd like to end or spread?
dA – Yes, I can be an asshole, but only when provoked. & NO I'm not related to the songwriter John Sebastian, the guy who wrote the Welcome Back Kotter theme song.
QRD – I know you moved around the country fairly extensively in your twenties & a couple of years ago you were thinking about moving to europe, are you still thinking about moving or do you plan to stay in the Seattle area?
dA – I don't know. We have been trying to buy a house in Seattle, but the prices are out of control. The traffic is shitty & the music scene is stale. I've thought of moving to Europe, but my wife is a French citizen & she doesn't want to right now. We've even talked about Austin, Texas... who knows. For now I'm stayin' put.
QRD – Is there anything specific you think people should be aware of in life?
dA – I think people need to be even more aware of what we are doing to the planet. After having kids, I've become even more aware of what kind of place we are going to leave the next generations. I think we are this place & need to be aware of it...WE ARE THE EARTH!
QRD – What are your upcoming plans & what else would you like people to know?
dA – I've got too many to list, hopefully
next year will be a big one for iRegular, so I can get all this creative
jizz out of my system & into the public's mental pubic regions. I hope
coming the millennium will bring the positive world changes everyone secretly
hopes for... even the money grubbing wall streeters. Now isn't that