Blownload, Exageist, Dream in Red, Primitive Race… Erie Loch is one of modern music’s busiest songwriters and producers; even so, he took the time to speak with ReGen about his music and his career.
An InterView with Erie Loch of Blownload, Dream in Red, Exageist, and Primitive Race
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Erie Loch is a true renaissance artist in the underground music scene – whether remixing, promoting, DJing, producing, or singing, he is certainly one of the most prolific and most accomplished musical entities working today. As the front man for alt. and industrial/rock bands like Blownload, Luxt, and Dream in Red, the man behind the sexually charged dubstep of Exageist, and one of the primary personalities behind industrial supergroup Primitive Race, it can be surmised that Erie Loch is never not busy creating some of today’s most exciting new music. But let’s let the man himself do the talking, for ReGen had the opportunity to speak with Loch about his music and his career over the years, sparked by the recent reemergence of Blownload after a hiatus of several years. Not only does he discuss the future of his musical endeavors, but also takes a few moments to discuss the advances in music and video technology, with some words of encouragement for all aspiring and hungry artists to remove all obstacles and keep creating!
You’ve had your hands in various projects and bands over the years; obviously, in each one is a different set of collaborations. What can you tell us about your own creative process and how it changes from band to band?
Not to play favorites, but which would you say has been the most rewarding for you?
Loch: They’re all rewarding in different ways. Blownload is great for the energy, variety, and experimentation and live craziness and fun. Dream in Red and Gods of the Wasteland are great for melodic, hooky, emotive song structures and being able to stretch my vocal wings. Exageist is great for playing with the fun electronic toys and trying new shit sonically. Razing Eden lets me enjoy making dark, heavy, yet still melodic songs. Luxt was really more of me learning how to mix styles and become what I am today. There’s a lot of venom still from how that band turned into something I didn’t want to be doing and then crashed and burned with Luxt. It was also a great learning experience as to what not to do when it comes to self-esteem and being secure with yourself.
Overall, I’d have to say I enjoy writing hooky and melodic songs. Quirky, heavy, and fun are great, but not quite as deeply fulfilling. Obviously, I can’t just do one thing… I get bored of anything after a while and need a change.
You recently announced that Blownload was once again rehearsing together – what can you tell us about the years in between, and what prompted the band to reunite now?
Loch: Well, we did the RevCo/Jim Rose tour, which in retrospect, was the best tour I’ve ever been on. I think there was a lot of negativity because the tour was booked into these larger venues, but the turnout just wasn’t there, so there was a lot riding on it and, at least for RevCo and the people involved, there was some darkness. But for us, it was fucking great! Sure, it’s a 1000 seater, and there are only 300 people here, but there are 300 people here!!! So it was great for us. Ha!
Then we did the Lords of Acid/TKK tour, which, onstage, was heavenly. 35 minutes every night of playing to packed houses of people who just fucking loved what we were doing. Behind the scenes, it was a fucking train wreck. We were all pulling double duty, which was how we got on the tour. I was the tour manager, and the rest of Blownload were crew for the other bands. Of course, a certain other band (that didn’t have the word Acid in the name) thought that meant that we were their personal assistants as well. We were also supposed to be on the bus for the tour, but a certain other band (*ahem*) ruined that for us after about five shows… so we were riding, sleeping, and generally living in a Kia Minivan that I couldn’t actually even sit up straight in for the rest of the tour. It was just too much. Two of us came back with pneumonia by the end of the tour. I had a gun pulled on me on the tour bus and had to disarm the guy with the help of TKK’s drummer, who broke his hand on the guy’s face and he had to drop off the tour. Our former guitarist (Jesus, who had replaced Goht after the RevCo tour) would flake to go play rock-star-alcoholic-slut every chance he got when it was time to load, so by the end of the tour, there was a lot of hate between certain band members. Shortly thereafter, Sprocket moved to SF, Jesus quit, and Blownload just kind of dissolved.
I spent the next couple of years doing mostly electronic music, developing contacts, doing remixes for people like MINISTRY, Tweaker, RevCo, Lords of Acid, Ego Likeness, FLA, etc. and got in to Primitive Race, started Exageist, and then Dream in Red – rReally honed my craft with electronics again.
About a year ago, Sprocket moved back to Sacramento, where we’re based, and started playing drums with us in Dream In Red. I’ve been hinting to Goht about doing Blownload again, since we always said we were still doing it; we just needed the right circumstances. But Goht had just had a kid (sorry for the pun) and it just wasn’t possible. Well, last week, it became possible again, and within a day we had practice and five shows booked. Ha! We just played last night for the first time and it was fucking electric! We’re all so pumped. Crash, Goht, me, and Sprocket is the lineup that was meant to be for Blownload.
Are there plans for a tour or a new album?
Loch: Yes! We are already writing a new album. And tours? Yes, please – as many as possible!
Along with Chris Kniker, you are one of the primary driving forces behind Primitive Race, as well as Mark Gemini Thwaite. Aside from the other collaborators (Tommy Victor, Andi Sex Gang, etc.), how did Primitive Race come together, and in what ways do you feel the results have lived up to the band’s original conception?
Loch: I’d been working with Chris for a few years as he helped get me involved in various projects, tours, mastering, studio work, remixes, videos, etc. And one day he called me and said, ‘I want to create a band with a bunch of cool people and I want you to be in it and help me make it.’ So I said, ‘Of course!’ Chris sent me bass ideas, I turned them into music beds for a bunch of songs, and then about two years later, the album came out. I work very fast, so the amount of work I put into it was pretty large, but the time I spent on it was very small in comparison to how long it took to finish it since we had to work around everyone’s schedules. It was only frustrating because we wanted it to be available ASAFP. The fans were pissed because it took so long, but in a big way, we were too. Not through anyone’s fault, mind you; just because getting that many people to work on something like this is monumentally challenging. We were never in the same room with each other. It was all long distance, file transfer work. I got to work directly with a bunch of great people on great music. And I was very pleased to find that Tommy Victor and I worked very well together (don’t tell anyone that I’ve been a total PRONG fanboy since the ’80s). Since Primitive Race finished, I’ve had the privilege of co-writing the music on four songs on the last PRONG album, which has gotten extremely good reviews. Tommy and I plan on working together again for the next PRONG record. You can imagine that it’s a fucking dream come true for me.
As for the production aspects of Primitive Race, when I was running my studio, my motto was ‘I can polish a turd, but I can’t polish a fart. You have to give me something to work with.’ After a few years of proving that I can, actually, polish even farts, it was great to be given a lot of good material to start with; much easier to work with gems than turds.
What can you tell us about PR moving forward?
Loch: Chris is planning the next one. He has clear ideas of what he wants to do and who he wants in it. I kind of stay out of it and try to give him what he needs sonically, which can change, but that’s why he likes to work with me. I’m good with shifting gears randomly. We work well together, and he appreciates what I’m capable of. I love Chris. We’re also great friends.
In each of your bands, you explore different styles – i.e. dubstep in Exageist, sleazy metal in Blownload, industrial/rock in Primitive Race. As a producer and a songwriter, what do you find to be the major challenges in approaching these various styles – keeping up with new developments in those genres, new artists, etc.?
On that note, what do you see or would like to see as the next step in the evolution of technology – not just in music, but overall – and why?
Loch: I would love to see people who are clinging to their own genres and/or sonic ideologies ever-so-tightly to expand and use that technology to break out of their bubbles. Mix different styles, take some chances, take some risks; stop saying, ‘I will never,’ unless you follow it with ‘limit myself.’ Technology, to me, means one thing above all else: an unlimited sonic palette. I use it to mimic, copy, and then assimilate styles I love… and even styles I don’t love so much. Just use tech to free yourself from restraints. I see all these people wanting to ‘go back to all hardware’ and lust after all this vintage gear… hey, more power to you all. But I was a hardware-only guy for many years because computers couldn’t keep up with what I wanted. But I left hardware synths behind happily. Computers caught up. If you want that ‘warm vintage tone,’ great! Go for it; nothing against you. But if I can have a room full of dozens of different synths inside my computer, fuck yes, I’m going to use them! I had a whole studio full of expensive gear and realized I was doing everything inside my computer. It was an easy choice for me. I think most people who do the vintage gear thing just want the status of it; usually the ones who talk about it a lot. The ones who truly do something with the gear, regardless of what they’re using, don’t waste a lot of time telling you about it; they just do it.
Are there any plans to release new Exageist material?
Loch: Yes. Exageist is myself and my wife, Adriana ‘Pinky’ Onyskin. She’s dying to get back into the studio with me ASAP. I have my own home studio now and I’m getting a new computer system next month. Up until now, I’ve been using the same 10-year-old computer to do everything. Needless to say, it’s a much slower process than it will be with a decade jump in processing power. It’s way past time for an upgrade.
You’re also known as a director of your own music videos – what are your thoughts on the way the internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) has kept the art form of the music video alive? What do you feel is or should be the next step in the way audiences can experience music in a video form?
Loch: Video is the one thing that bands can do to really get their music out there. You’ll get a person to watch a video 100 times before you get them to just listen to your song on the internet IMHO. People are very visual, and the internet has only enhanced that fact. The technology is cheap as fuck now and really easy to use. The trick is looking at what you want to do vs. what you can logistically, monetarily, and practically do. If all you can make happen is a performance type video, then make a bunch of those – as long as you make them; it’s always better to have more of them than less. Make one for every song on your album!
I’ve also been doing graphic design as a ‘day job’ for over 20 years, so video is really just an extension of that. It’s a little known fact that I also used to shoot and edit porn professionally at one time for a couple of years. That’s where I honed my chops making music videos. With porn, it has to be done fast with minimal budget… meaning no budget. People get this idealized dream of what videos are supposed to be. I don’t get bogged down thinking it has to be perfect, and I like to use the negatives as positives when I can – graininess, quick cutting, shaky camera, etc. can be passed off as ‘edgy.’ Watching Nine Inch Nails videos taught me that.
It’s the internet. 12-year-old kids are making tons of videos. Why aren’t musicians doing it more for themselves? I think that’s the next step – the thought that an album is a collection of songs and videos… for each and every song.
Similarly, you’re known for your very energetic live performances – what would you like to see as the next evolution in the way musicians engage audiences in the live environment?
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation
Dream in Red
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube