Music as therapy to exorcise the demons within; such is the effect of the Ludovico Technique as Ben V. engages with ReGen on his music.
An InterView with Ben V. of Ludovico Technique
By Grant V. Ziegler (GVZ)
With the release of Some Things Are Beyond Therapy in September of 2012, EDM/industrial act Ludovico Technique instantly made an impression on the scene. With harsh and pumping tracks like “Dead Inside” and dark and psychosexual tracks like “Deeper into You,” the band proved it was on a spectrum even more established bands hadn’t reached yet.
The group then took its fresh sound on the road with well respected acts such as Nachtmahr and Imperative Reaction. All the while, frontman Ben V. was balancing writing music and handling his Beyond Therapy record label. In November of 2013, Ludovico Technique released a remix album, We Came to Wreck Everything, featuring remixes from such artists as God Module and Aesthetic Perfection. The group then went back on tour with yet another industrial pioneer, Grendel. On August 14, the Grendel, Ludovico Technique, DJ Electronic Commando lineup landed in Dallas, Texas at the Boiler Room with local openers Sinsect.
Before Ludovico Technique amazed and entertained the Dallas crowd, Ben V. spent 20 minutes with ReGen’s Grant V. Ziegler in a noisy kitchen to answer some questions about touring, the emotional forces behind the band, and what people can do to better themselves and the scene.
Why are Grendel and Ludovico Technique such a good fit and how has the tour been going thus far?
V.: The tour has been great. I love touring with Grendel because they’re almost like a European version of us. I love these guys a lot.
How did the opportunity come together that you’d be working with them?
V.: We’re on the same label in the U.S. We have the same booking agent – Troy Hilton, who does a lot of industrial bands now. We’re both from Metropolis Records. It just made sense.
You’ve performed with a lot of great acts such as Imperative Reaction and Angelspit. What have you learned from these experiences or taken away that has made Ludovico Technique a better band?
What would you say is your original reason to do all of this?
V.: To express destructive and emotional feelings in a constructive way. You have things in your life day-to-day and after time, they could sort of screw your life up and you go off on this negative path. So, the reason I do Ludovico Technique is to have that constructive outlet for all of those negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions. We’re both in the industrial scene and you know the scene is filled with a lot of negative people.
V.: Yeah, exactly. So, I think if a lot of those negative people realized instead of complaining online all day or talking shit about one another, why don’t they go do something productive and focus on it? They’ll start to feel better. Even though my songs aren’t about happy things, I still feel better. Expressing that stuff gets it all out; it’s like sucking the poison out and externalizing that rather than keeping all that venom inside. It’s definitely more constructive than trolling people and arguing in forums all day. (Laughs)
The industrial elitist forums!
V.: (Laughs) Yeah. It’s like, what the fuck do you do? Why don’t you go do something?
That actually leads me into my next question as there are a lot of negative elements in your music despite you not being a negative person. You’ve mentioned at times hospitalizations and time in asylums. Do you think maybe at some point you might open up more about those experiences and maybe even possibly become a role model for people who are going through similar situations?
That’s a great answer. When people have talked to me about your music, it means something to them that may not necessarily mean what it meant to you. But there is something they’re taking away from it.
V.: Of course! Fans will write me and tell me what a particular song is about to them and I’ll never say, ‘No, it’s not; I wrote it.’ (Laughs) If they’re like, ‘The song is about how you like to…’
V.: Yeah! I might be like, ‘It’s not particularly about that.’ But if it’s pretty close, I’ll let it be because the truth is as long as it’s in the ballpark about what I was writing about, then they’re not wrong. They’re right for their life.
What is it that Ludovico Technique is bringing to the industrial scene that has been lacking?
V.: I don’t like to be negative. I don’t think the scene is lacking anything. There are a lot of great artists out there. One thing the scene is lacking is people who go out and find all these great artists that others have found and are aware of. I think the most negative thing about the industrial scene is the laziest of some people to find out what our scene is doing. The scene is strong; the community has an immense amount of talent. But if you only listen to the same five bands for 10 years, you’re going to think everything sucks because nothing new will be inspirational. One of my biggest words of advice would be go searching in the industrial scene for new music because there is a lot that’s coming out.
There’s just so much emotion in your music and it’s especially brought forth when played live. Where does the energy to carry those emotions come from and how do you keep from burning out?
V.: I think because I know it’s better to do it onstage than at my house. It’s better to have that expression of negative emotion in an orderly fashion and a place like a venue or stage and just let it out. It’s better than being at home where it could come out in any way, shape, or form. I’d rather save it for the stage and blow my load onstage, so to speak, than to allow those negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions to just come out anyway in daily life. I think we all understand that sometimes you can just lose your shit. You can be anywhere doing the most mundane thing and then you’ve had enough. It’s some snapping point. That’s why it’s good to have an artistic outlet. That’s where I get the energy. That’s the place to do it. No one will get hurt. It’s art. It’s music. I go full force.
You’ve gone from independent, to Crunch Pod, and now to Metropolis Records. How have your experiences over the years changed because of that and what’s your weigh-in about the indie vs. label argument?
V.: There’s something I want to tell the fans and listeners and people who follow what you do as well as those who follow us who are electronic musicians. A long time ago, before we were signed to Metropolis, I used to think, ‘There’s the big guy, they probably don’t treat their artists so great and they can do whatever they want because they’re Metropolis.’ If you’re in the industrial scene, no matter how super cool you are and how elitist you are saying, (in a sarcastic voice) ‘Oh, Metropolis sucks and they’re so big,’ if they were to call you and say that they’re going to put out your album, you would say yes. One thing I want to let everyone know is that Metropolis treats its artists very well; especially compared to other contracts I’ve seen. You would think they wouldn’t be as well because they could get away with it, but they offer more. I get more royalty percentage from Metropolis than any other label I’ve been with or other contracts I’ve seen. They treat you very respectfully, like you matter. I love the label.
There seem to be some color schemes in your art and stage performance where everything is in black and white. Why is there are a focus on that element?
V.: That’s where the shadows live. People like to live in this gray world, but there are a lot more things that are black and white in this world than people would like to admit. We like to think the world as gray as possible, where there are infinite choices. But there are important things that are just black and white – life and death, love and hate, and all these things. We live in this gray extreme. It’s funny, when you start to remove things like color, things become clearer without all the distractions. To remove all this coloration and see exactly what matters, there it is.
I know in every interview, someone asks you about your name, so I apologize for this question. I know what Ludovico Technique means and where it comes from, but why was that scene from A Clockwork Orange so inspirational to you that you decided to name your band after it?
V.: For those who don’t know what it actually is, I’ll explain it. In A Clockwork Orange, the main character Alex is given an experimental treatment to get free sooner – the Ludovico Technique is the treatment they give him when they’re holding open his eyes. When I was picking a name, I didn’t want to pick something that would lock me into one corner. You see a lot of bands’ names and you’re like, ‘Well, they named the band that back before they did other stuff.’
Like the bands who have 3’s where E’s are supposed to go?
Beside your namesake, what other media or entertainment do you draw influences or inspirations from?
V.: As far as influencing music, I draw a lot from film and visual art. Even just living and seeing the world around you. You can take so much from it. You can take it all in, filter it through, and what comes out is Ludovico Technique. I may be listening to a form of music that’s so far off the beaten path from industrial orthodox that I’ll come in and the music will come out as what you see and hear now. If most fans knew what I was listening to at home or at a bar, they’d be like, ‘What?! The guy who makes that listens to that?’ Of course I do because as a person who loves music, you realize we’re not 16 anymore. Have you ever been in a car with a metal guy and try to put on anything other than metal? He looks at you like you’ve just insulted who he is as a human being. Listen bro, we’re not kids anymore. Have some balls and go like things. People say there are guilty pleasures. I think you should just have pleasures. Who cares what anyone else thinks? If you want to listen to anything other than industrial, do it, because that artist is doing the exact same thing. Every artist you love in the industrial scene listens to a broad range of things. If it’s good enough for all of us, it’s good enough for you.
How do you manage your time between touring, writing music, and your Beyond Therapy label?
V.: Beyond Therapy is specifically for lesser established bands to get more established. Things for Ludovico Technique have been picking up, so I’ve been focusing more on that. Once we get back from this tour, we have to record and release the next album. Hopefully, we’ll be in Europe after that.
If you were to exorcise all your demons, who would Ben V. and Ludovico Technique be after that?
V.: If I become devoid of demons. I’d stop doing this. It wouldn’t be right doing something and faking it. We all know those bands and we can see them doing it. As soon as they don’t feel it anymore, you can tell. If you’re really into music or art, you can sense when they’re not into it anymore. The day that I feel good or I don’t need Ludovico Technique anymore, despite the fact the band is to help me with my demons, then I’ll just do something different.
Finally, if you were to actually give the Ludovico Technique from A Clockwork Orange to someone, who would it be and what would you make them watch?
V.: I want to pick a politician I hate, but I don’t want to get political publically. Because the Ludovico Technique is something I’m not pro, as far as the process, I don’t think I could do that to someone because it’s like I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
Ludovico Technique Website http://www.ludotechnique.com
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