Mar 2013 22

Roger Jarvis (of Kevorkian Death Cycle and HexRx, as well as co-owner of Negative Gain Productions) Nick Viola, and Squalor talk to ReGen about HexRx, touching on upcoming releases and the band’s creative process.

An InterView with Roger Jarvis, Nick Viola, and Squalor of HexRx

By: Corinne De La Coeur (DarkIvyException)

In 2005, Roger Jarvis turned what was going to be a new Kevorkian Death Cycle tracks into an entirely new project known as HexRx. Jarvis created HexRx to be an ever changing project with each release sounding different from the last and unique from other industrial artists. From X to D to the more recently released Serial Hex Addict, fans will hear different vocalists and catch a different overall theme. In December of 2012, the band agreed to talk to ReGen before a performance at the Mechanismus industrial show in Seattle about their music and how they keep things fresh and evolving.

 

You’re pretty busy with all of your musical projects – Kevorkian Death Cycle, HexRx, and co-owning Negative Gain Productions. Does any project resonate with you more than another?

Jarvis: Actually, it varies from project to project. Right now, I’m focusing on Kevorkian Death Cycle and playing live with HexRx. Kevorkian Death Cycle’s new album is almost finished and then we’ll get right to the next HexRx album.

Does any album or EP feel more significant to you?

Jarvis: Actually, no; they’re all equally special. To me, each album or release is a different thing because, from the beginning, I wanted new vocalists, a new feel, and I wanted to tie it all in so it’s still HexRx, but it has this… I don’t want to say multiple personalities, but I want to give that feeling that it’s going to be different every single time, but it’s going to have that same rapport to it.

Each vocalist changes per album. How do you pick who will sing for each album?

Jarvis: This one here (pointing at Squalor), I was scouting him for a long while.

Squalor: Based on looks

Jarvis: Based on looks, but I mean, I love his visual presentation of things. So I got a look at him and thought ‘He’s freakin’ HexRx;’ that is, what I envisioned. But it all has to do with the feeling of the album. For example, the next E album coming out late 2013 is going to be more danceable and clean – a little noisy but clean sounding at the same time. So you have to look at the variables – what would Squalor bring to the table, what would Nick bring to the table? I mean, Nick is Nick.

Viola: Outside of Roger, longest standing member of HexRx

Jarvis: Yes, and now he’s doing vocals too; having two vocalists for me is awesome. But basically, I just feel it, I go with it, and the music kind of dictates how it is. HexRx is beyond me and I always wanted it to be that, always wanted new people to come in because it is beyond me.

The vocalists write all the lyrics too, yes?

Jarvis: They write all the lyrics.

Squalor: I wrote all the lyrics on Serial Hex Addict. That’s what I’ve written so far. I’ve written other stuff; just nothing you’ve heard… too bad for you.

How do describe the process of creating a HexRx album? From the moment you have the idea to putting it together and releasing it?

Jarvis: Honestly, it begins with a feeling, what feel I want for the album. Because HexRx, there’s an end to it. It’s a five album project, so it’s very specific. It’s the feeling I have at the time. Right now, I have more of a dance feeling, so I wanted to have that clean, smoother sound.

Viola: Generally, when we make tracks, there’s that one sound we play with and it ends up shaping everything. That track will spawn something else.

Jarvis: Yeah, it could be one sound that just opens up the whole thing.

Is there anything in particular you think remains consistent with each album or EP?

Jarvis: The consistency is that it is always ever changing and that’s what keeps, for me, HexRx alive. For me to keep it interesting, I like to have newness, I like to keep being inspired and keep going. This is the reason HexRx came about. I wanted it to be new every single time and by having a vocalist that inspires me at the time, and by whoever is writing with me at the time, that’s the inspiration for me to just do it.

How would you describe the themes of the previous releases and what themes can we expect or upcoming albums?

Jarvis: Upcoming albums… well, I definitely want to have the monsters album. I love little monsters whether they are really sickening or really cute. I just love monsters. So there will be a monster themed album.
The next one, E is still developing. I know the sound, the feel, the look visually, but I don’t know the theme yet.
X was supposed to be another Kevorkian Death Cycle album that never came together, so I had these tracks and I started interviewing and I found this one person in Wyoming. It was interesting working via internet, transferring files back and forth and things like that. So it kind of took on its own its own feel, which was primarily Kevorkian Death Cycle. D was intentionally very noisy and dirty. It was produced that way, it was written that way. X was more a newer Kevorkian Death Cycle, so I thought I have to rewrite my whole thinking of what I was going to do with it.

What about Serial Hex Addict?

Jarvis: That was more Squalor, I really left that up to him. That was kind of his baby in a sense visually. Musically, Nick and I wrote it.

Viola: We just created a form for him to run crazy with.

Squalor: Yeah, and that’s why I was really drawn to it. They let me be me and do pretty much whatever I wanted and allow it to work with the band. They trusted me with that. So in that, Serial Hex Addict, I just really wanted to get something out of myself that has been in there for a long time. I always wanted to be in a band and always tried other mediums to execute my ideas, but this fell into my lap at the right time. I was going through love issues and decided to be cliché, if you will, and exorcise that from myself utilizing the music they had given me. So I did everything with the idea that love is a drug – that’s where the title Serial Hex Addict comes from. Not about serial killing but the addiction to love or this or that. So the songs that I wrote lyrics on for that album pretty much center around a ‘me against you’ idea. The songs I’m writing for E will pretty much steer clear of all that. Nick and I are both working on that, but what we do with HexRx is we let it tell us what we’re supposed to be doing with it. This is actually what drew me to the band in the first place – it just sounded organic. When they brought up the idea of me becoming a member of this band, it felt very natural and organic. That’s where all my stuff comes from. I really like natural and organic things in the emotional sense. I like real, raw emotion, so plan on more raw emotion from my mouth, but not about love probably.

You guys sampled a lot from The Human Centipede movie; could you tell us why?

Viola: It was awesome!

Jarvis: Right? If you sit through the movie, you just think, ‘What the fuck do I think about this? Do I love it, do I hate it? Do I really love it?’ It was dirty too! On one spectrum, it’s a horror movie. It’s crazy. Like Hostel or Saw, it’s that human torture. And then on the other hand, it’s almost like a porno too. I mean, everyone’s going ass to mouth and it’s just gross! So for us, it works out because, musically, we try to convey that polar aspect with pretty synthesizers with distorted drums or really harsh synthesizers with cleaned up drums. It’s that juxtaposition that sets the EP.

Viola: Yeah, it could be a sample that sparks us. Like, ‘Shit, this is the whole mood! This is theme of the whole thing!’ Sometimes, it’s the samples that make the song.

Squalor: We’re sample junkies, I text him (Viola) samples all the time, nonstop. ‘Did you listen to the three I sent other day? They’re classic!’

Jarvis: There’s a whole world of cool shit to sample. Some awesome ones Squalor brought to the table were from Live Freaky, Die Freaky, the Charles Manson movie, and them using the term ‘Hex’ in the movie… it just fit. I told him, ‘Shit, we’re going with it.’

What artists would you say you’ve been inspired by the most?

Jarvis: We’re very old school. I’m not going to say my age or date myself, but I grew up with Skinny Puppy, I grew up with Throbbing Gristle, things like that. That, to me, is what industrial is, what electronic music is. That’s my core. The new sounding things, I like it and I can appreciate it, but I can’t connect with it. So I will always go back to the older stuff; whether it be Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, Front 242, that’s where I go.

Viola: I grew up listening to old industrial. Yeah, Skinny Puppy, Front 242, things like that, and so when I kind of drifted away from that scene and got more into the experimental metal side of things and then came back to the industrial scene, I had missed a good chunk of it. Now it’s more rave and dance orientated and it kind of threw me for a loop. So when Roger approached me about doing the D record, I said ‘Sweet! We can kick this old school.’ We could really take those aesthetics and the mentality and see what the logical progression would have been with technology. Back then, computers and sequencers were really primitive. Now we have these tools and synthesizers that can do mono and poly at the same time at the flip of a switch. We wanted to see the cool stuff we could make; expand our comfort zone, but also stick with a set amount of tools. In the new age, you can go VST crazy and software crazy and you’ll never find your sound because it’s always erratic, whereas when you would hear a Skinny Puppy tune, you recognized it – it was distinctive.

Jarvis: Now, it’s ‘Who the hell is this, who the hell is that?’ They’re all using the same patches. They’re all the same presets.

Viola: Nothing sounds like a Front 242 base; nothing does.

Jarvis: Yeah, it’s all trying to tell what is Suicide Commando and what is not? But don’t get me wrong; the first couple of Suicide Commando records are amazing. The new stuff has its place in the world for the new generation, but you can’t forget about everyone else, the roots. But fusing the modern aesthetic of the new industrial stuff with the ideals of the old? I think that’s what sets Hex Rx apart from a lot of the other projects in the scene nowadays.

Viola: It does. It has a unique sound to it.

Jarvis: Yeah we want to be the base of comparison for people. We may not be as popular because we do that, but we have that integrity. We’re going to do what we like and what we want to hear.

Viola: Yeah when I first met you (to Jarvis) I thought, ‘Roger Jarvis, Roger Jarvis, this sounds familiar.’ I had grown up listening to Kevorkian Death Cycle, so when I met you and finally put two and two together, I kind of lost my shit a little bit. As a kid, and coming into industrial and was old enough to understand that those keyboards made those noises, you could be one dude and sound like 50 dudes playing keyboards at the same time. And the way that all the sounds were stacked on the Kevorkian Death Cycle records was a huge influence. So for me to be able to work with you was amazing.

Squalor: I just remember being six or seven and being obsessed with the Carly Simon records and Kiss records. To me, those are very different categories of music; they’re from the ’70s. A little bit of electronic, a little bit of metal, and regular sappy girl songs. I’ve always had a huge broad taste of music for as long as I can remember. I never liked something because it was a specific genre.

Jarvis: If it’s good, it’s good. The world is freakin’ rad.

All: Freakin’ rad!

Jarvis: Actually, I didn’t notice until after the fact, but Squalor was in New York on our first Kevorkian Death Cycle tour for the first Rammstein show in the U.S.

Squalor: Totally! I didn’t even know who Rammstein was, but I knew who Kevorkian was. It was CMJ music fest and I had gotten my first credit card and bought me and my friends all plane tickets to go because Kevorkian Death Cycle was playing.

Jarvis: And that was when we first met, so I’ve known him since ’95. It’s awesome how things happened later in life.

Squalor: I never would’ve dreamed that when I was buying my plane tickets to go to New York to watch Kevorkian Death Cycle that I would a partner in a music project with Roger Jarvis.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?

Viola: Well, for example – if when Squalor met Roger but was a dick to him, he would’ve grown up thinking Kevorkian Death Cycle’s good but man, that Roger guy’s a dick. Always be cool to people, because maybe 10, 12, 14 years later, you might want to work with them. Just be cool with people.

Jarvis: You never know who you might want to work with.

Squalor: I’m not going to be nice to VAC though; he already burned that bridge. Velvet Acid Christ can suck my dick! You can quote me.

Jarvis: I love talking shop with people and people will pick my brain about sounds, but at the same time, I tell you A, B, and C, but I won’t tell you how to connect them because that’s where you put your own spin on it. We can talk all day about music, we can talk all day about synthesizers, it’s fun stuff and I love doing it, but I guess I can come off as a recluse and no one talks to me. I always say though, do what you want but never do it again. That’s how you keep it new. That’s how you keep it real. That’s how you keep it inspiring. These bands that keep doing things over and over lose their purpose. So do what you do, but never do it again. That’s been my motto. Keep a cohesive likeness but don’t do the same thing again.

Squalor: Art is meant to be wasted; that’s kind of the point of it. Build then destroy. The destroying being giving it away, you can let go of it. That’s kind of the point.

Jarvis: There are guys that’ll pump records out every six months and they won’t have the greatest sound, but we’ll actually throw away more tracks than we release. We’re constantly writing. That’s why none of the albums sound like the other.

Viola: We probably have three hours worth of music that just didn’t fit with the statement of the album. So there’s always a lot of trial and error and we don’t know what the errors are until we make them. It’s fun and it’s adventurous and that’s what keeps it fresh.

 

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