Ventana interview conducted by cassette & mail june 1998
John – what does he mean by that?
Mitch – I think he means the fact that we're a little bit obscure & not mainstream.
Jason – well, I think we're always going to, by the nature of the band, remain away from the mainstream. because it seems that the mainstream is very stagnant & the motto itself stands against that. I think we are by our very nature not mainstream.
Kim -- I don't think people are ready for it.
Mitch – the question is "would we like it to stay underground?"
Kim – yes.
Mitch – but then again I wouldn't mind doing what we do & selling hundreds of thousands of albums.
Clara – I just want the music to take itself to wherever it's supposed to be. it's not like or dislike. I just want it to grow to where it's supposed to go.
Jason – granted, it would be nice to have more money to do more stuff....
Mitch – really, regardless of if people buy it or don't buy it we're gonna keep doing it. I think a lot of stuff would be a lot easier if we had at least a little bit of money. if we were selling more than just over a thousand per release it would be nice.
QRD – do you think anything content wise will keep you underground?
Kim – yes. I think lyrics are a big part of that.
Mitch – why? because we mention poo-poo?
Kim – no, just in general. it's lyrics that you have to sit & read & think about. I mean it's not catchy or pop lyrics & I think that has a lot to do with the underground aspect of it.
QRD – why did you feel you should put together a compilation over releasing more of your own material?
Clara – because I think that other people's music should be heard, too. I would like to have a label that would put out a lot of people's stuff including our own, not just be our own.
Mitch – the idea when we made Scuss was not to just release our own music.
Clara – it's a vehicle for underground music.
Mitch – hopefully one day we can put out whole cd's of other bands & stuff which goes back to the first question. if we had more money, there'd be more money for Scuss. it will always be underground. there's no doubt about that.
QRD – what instrument do you think is the essential part that keeps your songs from becoming noise?
Mitch – I guess this is assuming there's something that's keeping us from devolving into noise. I think it's the ukelele.
Jason – I was thinking bongos.
Kim – it depends on the song.
Jason – we're not a noise band. at times our improvs can maybe seem like they're a bit noisy & even the stuff we just come up with at times is noisy, but it all is very structured. it's definitely not just a random noise type situation.
Mitch – to me this question only really applies to one song & that's "City in Linger," where the drums are the only thing really with structure in the song. the rest of it is a blatant attempt at making noise. everybody just makes noise.
Jason – the drums & vocals hold it together.
Mitch – but that's an exception.
QRD – do you play live to promote your recordings or record to promote playing live?
Kim – neither. we play live to play & we record to record the songs.
Clara – if one's more than the other, we play live to promote the recordings, like on tour. you play live so people can hear you so they'll buy the cd.
Kim – but half the time we go on tour we hardly even play stuff that's off the stuff we have for sale. usually by the time we record a cd we're not even playing half that stuff anymore.
Mitch – I think that's true with a lot of bands now. it's how it goes.
QRD – some of your recordings are out of print, do you plan to re-release them?
Mitch – The Philosopher's Stone seven inch & the Living Soil cd are out of print & hopefully one day there will be enough interest to re-release Living Soil. & then maybe if we gather enough various materials from the seven inches & twelve inches & stuff it would be cool to re-release it. but at least from my point of view, I've thought about it before, we would keep certain things about each release unique to that release & not re-release everything, not compile every single thing onto a cd because that makes those releases not as special. that's my idea.
Clara – the only way I would re-release anything would be to totally re-mix them. I don't believe in bands re-releasing things.
Jason – you wouldn't want Living Soil re-issued so more people can hear it?
Clara – I love that record, but no.
Jason – what about someone who'd right now really love to have Living Soil?
Clara – I'd make a tape.
Mitch – if it ever comes to the point where it seems like a worthy investment for someone to re-release it....
Clara -- I wouldn't put my foot down if everybody else wanted it & say, "no."
Jason – if it was my call I'd say, "god-damn, put that thing out, I love that disc."
Kim – I'd put different artwork on it to differentiate it from the original thing.
Mitch – I'd like to put it out with "Acrylic Grimace" which got mixed down & recorded then but was never released. that would be great as an added track.
Clara – see, what I would like to do is find really weird recordings of some songs & put them in place of the ones that were originally on the cd.
Jason – maybe re-master it. it's an awesome record, it's one of my all time favorite records.
Mitch – this is coming from Jason & that was long before he was in the band.
QRD – do you currently have any label obligations?
Mitch – hopefully, we're going to release an ep on Shoestring locally. it's not an obligation, we haven't signed anything for it, & we don't have to do anything after it. & then hopefully we'll be signed up to Unit Circle for two it looks like.
QRD – where do you think or hope underground music is headed?
Kim – I hope it's a surprise.
Jason – that's good. I hope it's a surprise, too, because right now there's nothing too surprising in music that I hear on the radio.
Clara -- I hope underground music stops following just the same trends as mainstream music does. it's not very eclectic anymore.
Jason – what did the paper say? six percent of the population are now in the mainstream. it's taken over.
Kim – so surprise us.
QRD – how influential do you think the image of the artist is to the works' aesthetics?
Jason – well, I look like shit & I don't think we sound like shit, so I don't think it's all that important.
Mitch – I think the image we project is that of a group of people without a pre-fabricated image, but just being themselves. we do try to do visual stuff, but we don't try to pose or whatever.
QRD – what's Cemetery Man all about?
Clara – one of the greatest movies ever.
Jason – go rent it. you can rent it. maybe in raleigh you can rent it.
Clara – it's about a man....
Mitch – I think the question is about our interest in it....
Clara – oh, well... it's like a Dawn of the Dead zombie movie. it's a nineties zombie movie that... you can't write a better song about anything except zombies.
Mitch – the short answer is it's a zombie film & it's italian. what more do you need? the guy studied under Argento. it's got this existential bent to it underneathe that makes it particularly amazing.
Clara – I didn't just sit down & write the lyrics. I wrote out something because I was so possessed by the movie & read it later & it was totally Cemetery Man & it just fit with the music. we didn't write a song about Cemetary Man on purpose.
QRD – what's your favorite Swans' song?
Clara – that new Body Lovers' one.
Mitch – I would have to split it up between early & late period because I think they're equally as good, but so different from each other. the song on Filth "Stay Here." that song definitely....
Clara – "My Body Disgusts Me." I like that song.
Kim – I'll just have to stick with anything off of Children of God.
Jason – for the late period, the Swans Are Dead Jarboe version of "I Crawled." that's a good song.
Mitch – I'd say maybe "The Sound" or "Power
& Sacrifice" or "Beautiful Child."