Ok, fellow former teenagers of the '90s. Who here gets a little bit excited when NIN comes on the radio?
I certainly do. "Closer" is, in fact, my karaoke song of choice, even though when I look out at the audience, I see concerned faces. That's because my rendition involves a lot of growling.
So when Art Versus Industry, a local pop/goth/synth outfit known for their NIN channeling, let us know they were playing the Crystal Castles after show on Wednesday -- well, I admit I was intrigued. That's because their lyrics are very emotional, very non-ironic, which is unusual here in Austin. And, refreshing. Because sometimes I get bored with irony, you know? Sometimes I want PAIN. Not very often, but sometimes, when I fear I'm walking around with a bit too much ennui.
Ever-fabulous Eavesdropper Megan interviewed the trio, so I'll let you listen in on their conversation. Here she is, being hilarious as usual:
If Trent Reznor and Robert Smith had a baby, it would be a machine…obviously. And this baby machine would grow up and play music. Throw in a light show that rivals Ghostland Observatory’s and you have Art Versus Industry, a sophisticated, dark band that really isn’t anything like Trent Reznor or Robert Smith. If it were up to me, I would categorize their music as highbrow goth avant-garde punk pop synthesized, or HGAGPPS for short--but don’t you dare simplify it to just ‘electronic rock’. Hell, nah.
But before that, learn all their secrets:
Art Versus Industry only formed just last March, and yet you’re already opening for
Crystal Castles. Is Satan your overlord?
Avi: (Laughs) We all serve many masters, in fact, we’re all paying off our debts with interest at an APR of eternal infinity.
Matt: Nintendo is my overlord.
Nick: It turns out Satan is a sucker for sexual favors. But seriously things have happened pretty quickly for this band. I think we have managed to strike a chord with those who might have heard our music or seen us live and it has just spread by word of mouth.
Avi: We’re beyond fortunate and are excited to be a part of this show- we really don't take it for granted.
I can’t seem to find only one or two words that encapsulate Art Versus Industry. You’re like highbrow goth avant-garde punk pop synthesized, or HGAGPPS for short. How would you describe your music?
Nick: I love that description! I think that once people can find only one or two words that pigeonhole our sound, then I think it’s time we got more creative. I would definitely classify us as a rock band. I don't like getting into sub genres and sub categories when we never really set out trying to write songs that would fit a certain type of style or sound. I just describe it as ‘death by synth’.
Matt: Our music is way too hard to encapsulate. It really is song-specific really, such as trip-hop/goth, avant-garde/electronica , trance/punk, etc. So maybe just electronic rock to be simple—but that’s a grave injustice to what we’re doing.
Avi: Wow. That's single-handedly the crème de la crème of musical categorization. I don’t even think we’re worthy of such a category, but I’ll take it.
In all seriousness, there are elements of everything in what we do. I like to describe what we do as ‘the future’. What is the point of limitation when we can channel everything we love about Wu Tang Clan, The Beatles, and Rasputina in the same song without resorting to self masturbatory, pretentious snootiness? I’m a sucker for great hooks and pop sensibility, so we focus on writing good songs alongside our ambition to do something challenging, innovative, and unique.
On a sidenote, you think we can get Waterloo to put us in the "HGAGPPS" section? (Looks at Nick & Matt)
Your shows are more like performances, really, combining primal beats with theatrical lighting. Is it a collaborative effort?
Matt: Having our shows being theatrical performances, rather than the lackluster plug and play was definitely a conscious decision on our part. It not only gives our audience what they deserve, but we also get what we want. We all have great respect for bands that go above and beyond in a live setting and provide an escape from reality for their concert-goers. We hope to captivate minds at every show, presenting something that meets our standards in what we'd expect to see if we were coming from the audience's perspective.
Nick: Absolutely, we collectively decide on how each song should sound and look live. We put a lot of time and effort into our live shows and we are really proud of the end result; which is exactly why you should come see us play with Crystal Castles this Wednesday.
Avi: Just to resonate on what Nick and Matt said; this entire beast is the culmination of three people united by our love for music and all that it has to offer. We all collectively vow to ensure every body in attendance is entertained and continually push ourselves to deliver “shows” that are larger than life, despite the setting. Even coffee shops are targeted prey to our strobes.
You’re compared to NIN-a lot. Is that fair? Was that a huge influence or just one of many?
Matt: The NIN comparison is flattering, but I think often overused simply because of a general lack of awareness in this specific scene of music. There’s no possible any modern musician has not been influenced one way or another by NIN, but they are just a small part of the complex puzzle of influences to our art.
Nick: I feel that the comparison to NIN is a huge compliment but at the same time I think this comparison only happens because that is the one and only point of reference the general public has for music like this. I personally think that the two bands are tremendously different, and I think people will think the same once the Art Versus Industry record is released. I come from a completely different musical background so they weren't a huge influence for me. I do love me some Josh Freese though.
Avi: Personally, it’s endearing to be associated in the same ballpark as NIN. There’s a lot worse to be compared to. I’m just a fan of music that pushes boundaries in general and I’m fortunate to have developed a varied sonic palette and have a pretty wide range of appreciation. Reznor is undoubtedly an artist that had caused a paradigm shift in our pop culture and we hope to do the same in some impactful capacity. My primary influence has always been life and experience; hopefully that honesty shines through in what we do.
Thanks to Art Versus Industry for photos.