heavy metal

Society 1 Interview

Society 1 is a band that will always have a certain place in my life. In 1999 it was a Society 1 concert where my now wife and I had our first date. She had never been to a heavy metal concert till that night. After the show we ended up at Society 1 frontman, Matt Zanes place for one of his legendary after show / porn parties. Looking back, it probably wasn't the best place to take my wife as she wouldn't speak to me for weeks afterwards, yet in some ways I think her introduction into this new world was her Garden of Eden.

The Gauntlet: What's been going on lately?

Matt Zane: Right now we recently released 'Years of Spiritual Dissent' which is a CD and DVD. The CD basically consists of tracks which were on our first two records, as well as a couple covers and b-sides along with one new track. The DVD is a behind the music style documentary that chronicles the band from its' inception to its' current status. There is also bonus footage and a bunch of photos and things of that nature.

The Gauntlet: Is the DVD part of a limited edition release or does everyone get it?

Matt: No, we are actually packaging it with every CD. I told the label when they wanted to announce we were on Crash Music to maybe re-release some of the old albums as a lot of people weren't able to find them in a while. I wanted to, but I also wanted to give the people who bought the first two albums something too. That's why we threw the covers on there. I said we have always excelled in the format of video so why don't we give them something that will really blow their mind. Let's give them something that will be worth their money. I wanted to give them a good idea what we are about. Let's make the DVD so provocative in a sense that they wouldn't mind if they hate the record. It is like Jackass meets Girls Gone Wild with music thrown in there. It has so much tits and ass and shenanigans. Regardless if you are a fan of the band, you can get into this and enjoy it.

The Gauntlet: The DVD is great. I really enjoyed the format of the documentary and how the band took time with it. It's not the typical throw 20 minutes of concert footage together and we are done with it.

Matt: I appreciate that. We felt that as well. We tried to make it so anybody who has never heard of us before can put it on and be interested when they watch us. Our original edit was about 1 � hours and we knew our hardcore fans would get into it, but we wanted to make it like a Behind the Music documentary and we cut it down to about an hour. We wanted to make it entertaining for everyone to enjoy. The bonus footage is to see what we are like between the songs. It is just onstage bantering and antics.

The Gauntlet: The CD contains a lot of old material from the first two albums. Was anything done to the tracks or is it the same material and version on the albums?

Matt: Yeah, it is all remastered and a couple of the songs were remixed. It was funny because the bass player called me up when the record came out and said he only liked one track off 'Slacker Jesus'. He said 'I don't know if it was the remastering or remixing, but I really like the record now.' So I guess we did a good job with it.

The Gauntlet: The original 'Slacker Jesus' album was all recorded on analog equipment right?

Matt: Yes, it was believe it or not. That was a nightmare. It was before pro-tools was available to the average public. The studio we were in was just starting to fool around with Q-base. We were recording the record in 1996.

The Gauntlet: Was anything done to clean up the analog tracks? Industrial music really has a shelf life. If you go back and listen to some older bands, stuff sometimes sounds outdated.

Matt: What we did was gave the masters to Mark over at Crash Music and he took it from there. He brought a guy on to re-master it. We weren't very involved with it, we were more involved with getting the DVD together because we had to go through and open the vault. We had 300-400 hours of footage to go through. We could have easily filled up a 5 hour DVD but we wanted to do something more concise.

The Gauntlet: Does a video crew follow you around 24/7? For an underground band, you have a ton of footage and all from various angles.

Matt: It really depends on what part of the documentary you are referring to. In the early days, we had camera crews all the time following us around. It was non-stop. There is enough raw footage out there. At the time I shot 100 adult movies and ever show we did. When the porno wasn't a prominent money making force, I still had some money saved up. We didn't really have the means to shoot every show. The most frustrating thing to me about the DVD is they will watch it and say that was pretty crazy, but they are only catching a glimpse of what it was like. We didn't have the manpower to shoot every show. For the 2004 tour, we did over 200 shows and only shot like 40 of them. A lot of stuff happened on that tour that we the camera crew wasn't there for. People never believe what you have done unless you are somebody like Motely Crue. If you are Society 1 and don't have that platinum record on the wall, you can say we had 100 people and rush and tear the stage apart causing a riot and nobody will believe you. That's why when never talked about it, we didn't have any video footage to back it up. We do what we can; we have a roadie film whatever we can. Everyone has like seven jobs when we are on the road.

The Gauntlet: The CD contains two cover songs, 'Who Are You' by Black Sabbath and 'Sick Things' by Alice Cooper. I found it to be an interesting song choice as Alice Cooper is a born again Christian and you are a Satanist.

Matt: Well regardless of Alice Cooper being a born again Christian, I don't think that the youth of the metal scene understand his involvement in the heavy metal theatrical movement as well as the heavy metal itself. He was responsible for so many bands after him embellishing upon what he had done. One of the things I think a lot of people don't get is his early career, his first six records. Alice Cooper has always been one of my favorite artists as well as Dirt's [bass]. I really wanted to do something that I felt encapsulated his musical capabilities and I felt showcase what he was doing in his early career and also choose something that hasn't been done a lot and chose a song that hasn't been done a lot. It is my favorite song and no one has attempted to cover it before. I also don't think he was a born again Christian back then when 'Billion Dollar Babies' came out.

The Gauntlet: The DVD is sexually explicit and quite graphic, have the usual Christian groups chimed in yet?

Matt: No, there hasn't been. There won't be unless it sells a million copies. The government doesn't care unless you are making noise somewhere. I don't think we have a large enough fan base where it is really going to cause a problem. If for some reason I get on a couple talk shows in the next couple months, then there will be an issue. I think the DVD is under the radar. A lot of the sex scenes are implied. There are boobs on it, but there are no hard cocks or penetration anywhere. There is no extreme violence or extreme sexual situations. I think it all falls under the code of conduct one has to follow when releasing an R rated film.

The Gauntlet: Is what you do shocking to you?

Matt: There was a time when Sin said we became strict outlaws. We had to elude the police in certain counties and we were being fined and kicked out of clubs. I also had some felonies come down on me. It was at that point that things became shocking to me. It almost became this self fulfilling prophecy where we were trying to portray this image and idea and where living to this idea. When I was living at this point, I literally became afraid to walk out on stage. At this point things became shocking to me. There would be protests when I showed up and cops would be holding me after shows. I was being banned from counties and motorcycle gangs would chase us from town to town. That's when things got a little over the top. I don't know of many bands that can share those stories. As far as shocking goes, those are the things that shock me. As far as being suspended on stage and getting in fights, those things don't shock me.

The Gauntlet: How do you keep from becoming a parody of yourself like Marilyn Manson?

Matt: That is really an amazing question you just asked because that is exactly what happened to Marilyn Manson. This man in the mid-90's was viewed as the anti-Christ. He was very effective in what he did and nobody can take that away from him. The fact of the matter is in the coming years he did become a parody and it is a joke. Nobody is afraid of the guy now. He lives over the hill now from my office in the suburbs. I think ultimately what you have to do is once you do something that is real and not planned out and not manipulated or packaged, you have to let it go. You say that was a great point in my career and move and progress to something else. That is what I did on the tour that followed the 'Exit Through fear Tour.' People kept asking what I was going to do that would top that tour. People kept saying I was a guy that took everything to the next level. A lot of people showed up to the shows expecting something of that sort and it wasn't a possibility. I think it would have become a theatrical performance like a play if I kept trying to do something like that. I decided to just change and if you change into something you weren't doing previously I don't think you can become a mockery or parody of that. You did it, it was true and honest, you let it go, and now you progress into something else that is true. That is what Marliyn Manson should have done. When he released 'Mechanical Animals,' he should have stayed in that line of behaving and creating. People would have said 'wow, what he did during 'Anti-Christ Superstar' was very effective and very real and he had the balls to go and do this other thing.' When his sales didn't follow, he tried to go back to the other shit. I am not going to do that just because 'The Sound That Ends Creation' didn't sell as well as 'Exit Through Fear,' I don't all the sudden start smearing the paint again and try to get felonies again. I stuck with who I am and finished out the tour.

The Gauntlet: Do you try to top yourself?

Matt: I don't really try to top myself. At times it was about what else can I do now. Now, in terms of performance, when I did the Sound That Ends Creation Tour, I wasn't trying to top the previous tour. We went through our Van Halen phase, the Jack Daniels onstage and big jump kicks. I went out with jeans. People were saying I was supposed to be some super goth guy. I wasn't trying to top it, I just wanted to experience it myself and do something different. We want to keep it fresh always and move forward. I have said it a million times, we don't try to make up for the fact we don't sell millions of records. We really have that freedom because every fan base we lose, we gain another. So it really isn't an issue to top ourselves.

The Gauntlet: Will there be a tour in support of 'Years of Spiritual Dissent'?

Matt: We are not going to be touring on this one because we are basically recording a new record right now called 'Sadist Messiah' and we want that to come out early next year and then that's the one that we want to tour on. 'Years of Spiritual Dissent' is just a way to wrap up everything. It would have been nice to do one tour with all that material and that style and put together some big thing, but it just didn't come about. Sin went on tour with the Revolting Cocks and moved to Texas. We haven't seen him in 5 months. I don't feel it would have been right to do a tour without him. We are just so into letting go of everything we did previously. We want this new record to start something new.

The Gauntlet: 'Sadist Messiah' will or will not feature Sin?

Matt: The guitar player on 'Sadist Messiah' will be Atron. He was part of Prong and Rorschach Test.

The Gauntlet: What is Sin's status in Society 1?

Matt: As far as I know, he might be coming back to the fold after we finish the record. The basic thing is that he decided to do that Revco Tour and he hasn't been around for 5 months. We had to get another guy to write with. It doesn't make sense to not do the record with Atron. I talked to Sin about it and he understands. He moved to Texas and is now 1500 miles from us. I told him when we get back to touring we'll talk again and we'll just go from there. Anything is open as far as the future is concerned. I think anything is opened as far as the future is concerned. A lot is going to have to deal with him as well. He was the only one of us that decided to go and break the group up and do other things and play guitar for another act. That might be where his head is at. It has been a long time. It is a matter of seeing what will happen and what comes out. All I know and can tell you for certain is Society 1 will go on and we are already demoing the new record. We already have a producer, we already have a studio, we already have a agent. As far as who will tour for that record, it is up in the air.

The Gauntlet: The song 'This is the End' on 'Years of Spiritual Dissent' is a newly written song. Is this in the same vain as the new material you have written?

Matt: Absolutely not. Not at all. We have almost twenty songs written and every 7 songs is different. So the album can go one of three ways. We are waiting for the producer to hear it and say "let's go in this direction." Right now as the record stands, everything I wrote is extremely dark, very occult like and about hell, heavy and just all over the place. It is really my type of stuff. The stuff Dirt wrote is more rock oriented and more straight ahead. Girls seem to like it for whatever reason. Then there is Berserks' stuff which is more progressive. He is the drummer so he writes in odd times and it has a different feel and sound. We are just waiting till we are down for the producer to hear it so we can gravitate to one sound. If I only wrote the music I could tell you what it would be like. We get too close to the music. Obviously everyone wants their songs on the record.

The Gauntlet: Is the band a democracy or autocracy?

Matt: No, basically what I do is let everyone have a fair shake and they write whatever they want. I'll just give it to Wade North, our producer and let him do it. It doesn't mean if those songs don't get pick, they won't get on a record or b-side later. We always let the producer chose as we don't want any animosity if someone's song isn't picked.

The Gauntlet: When you played Download Festival you played without the DAT machine. Has this opened your eyes to maybe write more organic songs without the 'fifth member' of the band?

Matt: The story of what happened was when we went to Europe, the DAT machine blew up on the plane. We had to do the entire tour over 18 countries with no DAT machine. So we were just playing as a four piece for three months. No programming or nothing, just the pure band. We thought we were Van Halen [laughs]. Did it open up our minds? Listen, every song starts off with just bass drum, guitar and vocals. The programming is just an after affect for us. If you take it out of our music, it sounds different but does it still hold up, I think so. I think if you take out the programming from a lot of these other bands, people would be surprised what they sound like. We just turn up our instruments louder that's all. It just sounds different and sounds a little less electronic and a little more metal. We play a little differently to compensate for it since it is not there. We have never doubled guitars or vocals or any of that shit. We write as if we are a band. If it works in the rehearsal room, then we go into the studio as there is a strong song there. We'll have some type of sampling on the next tour and if the machine breaks we'll go on. When you are on tour, if your gear breaks you get it fixed, but we had such a shit road crew and we didn't have time to get it fixed so we just kept playing without it. It was a fun tour though, very liberating. It was all live all the time. It gave us a sense of what a lot of bands in the 70's and 80's felt like. There were a couple of scary nights. It was fun, like I said. I don't know if you saw our promo disc, but we really thought we were Van Halen on that tour.

Visit Society 1 at:
My Space
Official Site

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Tags:  Society 1  , Matt Zane - vocalsinterviews

    August 15, 2006

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