Jun 2019 18

Matt Fanale puts his dong in his hand and his money where his mouth is as he speaks with ReGen about his musical bromance with Eric Oehler in Klack, performing in numerous festivals in 2019, losing sleep for music’s sake, and more.


An InterView with Matt Fanale of Caustic, Klack, and daddybear

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Often treading the fine line between humor, humility, and hubris, Matt Fanale is a unique individual in the underground music scene. Whether he’s abusing your eardrums in Caustic, driving you to dancefloor madness with Klack, or playing the 8-bit vampire Sega Lugosi in The Gothsicles, Fanale’s provocative and varied approach to electro/industrial music has made him one of the scene’s most prolific figures. And yet, beneath the acerbic wit is a man whose sophisticated outlook has made him a voice of reason and inspiration whether he likes it or not… and he probably doesn’t, but we didn’t get into that in this InterView. No, instead, Matt Fanale spoke with ReGen Magazine primarily about his numerous festival performances in 2019 – including Sanctuary, Terminus, Mechanismus, and ColdWaves – and the growing difficulties in touring and performing live as an underground artist. Besides that, he also breaks down for us his partnership with longtime friend and musical cohort Eric Oehler in Klack, the current nostalgic trends of synthwave and post-punk, balancing his schedule as a family man with numerous bands, as well as affirming that Soul Man actor C. Thomas Howell is not actually dead (although one might argue after The Hitcher sequel that nobody saw or even asked for), and has a few words about living in the future without the hoverboards humanity was promised.


Let’s start with Klack, which has released in January the Introducing the 1984 Renault LeCar EP. To start with the background, you and Eric Oehler have worked together extensively; what sparked the formation of Klack? What was the idea behind it, and in what ways has that idea developed as you’ve continued to put out Klack releases?

Fanale: Eric came up with the sound of Klack doing a Gothsicles remix. He thought it had a cool early 242 vibe and he asked if I wanted to help explore the sound for shits and giggles. The idea has always been exploring new beat and early EBM roots, but we’ve gotten into early-to-mid ’80s synthpop too. We’re basically doing whatever we think is fun and are amazed how many people have come along for the ride.
It probably doesn’t hurt that all of our releases are pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp. Quite a few people chip in though, which is always appreciated.



What is the songwriting approach for Klack, and in what ways does it differ from what you do in Caustic or daddybear / what Eric does in Null Device? How has Klack brought out different facets to your songwriting – both of you together and individually – if it has at all?

Fanale: I ride coattails to Eric’s musical prowess on this one. He puts together clips and I see which one inspires ideas for me, either lyrically or with samples I’ve gathered. I usually lay out a basic track and toss in the samples and rough vocals, with the lyrics usually calling out for which one of us is on main vocals, but I do my best to sing so Eric gets the gist (I sound terrible as Eric, for the record).
So, for the most part Eric does the music and I write the words, though Eric wrote some of the lyrics on the LeCar EP.
Most of this is a total departure from my work on Caustic and daddybear, where I do everything on the music and lyrics side. For Eric, he gets to nerd out with a different sound library than Null Device, and the themes in Klack are pretty different than any of our other bands.

I quite enjoyed your cover of ‘Pump Up the Jam,’ but more so the way your cover of Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ seemed to get to a more insidious nature behind the lyrics; was that the intention?

Fanale: Thanks, and that was pretty much where we went right away. I suggested the cover and Eric put a little taster of the music together. I recorded the vocals to a click track to keep the tempo and I ended up sounding like Jean-Luc De Meyer a little and Eric just ran with it. I found some old timey samples that worked in the context of the song and Eric kept refining the sound until it hit peak creepy. I thought the image of the binoculars for the cover image illustrated the point even further.




It made me think about the current trends of nostalgia – not just synth and retrowave and the resurgent post-punk sounds, but also the way people are re-examining older music/lyrics, finding other meanings, etc. What are your thoughts on how perceptions of older music, art, and movies are changing?

Fanale: I think everything can and should be seen through a new lens, but that doesn’t mean it should all automatically be discounted and condemned. I think a lot of music is easier to give a pass to, but there are always exceptions. Most of the stuff that people find offensive now was pretty offensive then, but people accepted it more at the time… or unfortunately, didn’t feel safe enough to speak up. In terms of film, a lot of John Hughes movies are really questionable in parts now, but that doesn’t mean you throw out the whole apple just because some of it is rotten. It’s really a case-by-case basis. Sometimes I think the movies are funny on a totally different level because you get the ‘holy shit, they would never make a movie like Soul Man now!’
Okay, Soul Man was always crap. R.I.P. C. Thomas Howell, who isn’t actually dead.

Klack performed at this year’s Sanctuary Festival (Klack’s first festival appearnce), and will be playing Terminus and ColdWaves. First of all, how did you come to be part of the lineup for Sanctuary this year?

Fanale: Chris asked us last year too, but we needed time to get the live rig and more music going. Eric and I are performing in a way that’s totally different than any of our other bands/projects, so Eric needed the time to pull everything apart and see what would work best. We did a ‘test show’ in Madison earlier this year with Nevada Hardware and were able to iron out some live glitches that way, so I think we’re ready for Sanctuary and the other fests we’re playing. We’re really excited to be a part of such great lineups.



You’ve performed at ColdWaves in various capacities; as well, the event showcases newer bands and styles along with veterans and long-lasting acts. What are your thoughts on ColdWaves as an event and its significance to ‘the scene’ and it’s continued development?

Fanale: I think it’s incredible and it has become such a positive thing coming from such a horrible tragedy. I know Jason puts in an immense amount of work organizing the fest and, like you said, drawing from the rich history of legends that play, but also giving chances and basically introducing a huge U.S. audience to artists like KANGA, Boy Harsher, and High-Functioning Flesh. I don’t know if these were the shows that ‘broke’ these artists into our bigger consciousness, but I know the reaction after their sets had huge ripples at the fest, but also online. I never take for granted how lucky I’ve been to be able to play the fest a few times, even if last year was as a sub for Die Krupps. This is one of the brass rings bands reach for in our scene, so it’s been nice to fondle it a few times.

What is it about ColdWaves that you personally connect with?

Fanale: Most of my initial introduction to industrial happened when I was in school in Madison, WI. The close proximity to Chicago meant a lot of WaxTrax! got up here and a lot of folks who grew up with that scene coming to school here. I’ve been doing this long enough to have the privilege of knowing a lot of the artists performing every year too, so it’s always a family reunion of sorts. There’s never enough time to spend with everyone I’d like to, but it always makes me incredibly happy to be around so many friends from all over the country/world.

Festival Banner (Updated)

With touring becoming an even more difficult prospect, what are your thoughts on festival events becoming the best way to experience a band live?

Fanale: As a dad, it’s become my main way to justify hitting the stage. I absolutely love touring, but my schedule doesn’t accommodate it. I’m really fortunate to be doing most of the main U.S. festivals this year as Klack, Caustic, or both for Terminus.
On the other hand, it is frustrating to know that touring has become more difficult on some levels because of that, especially for newer bands wanting to gain some momentum, if anything, to try and get those festival spots. Caustic was mostly a fly-in type of gig for me. I did do a few ‘official’ tours, but I always designed the project to be able to work with local talent I could draft in for the show. That meant not being able to play certain places early on because I didn’t know anyone who could party onstage with me, but it worked out more often than not.
With so many fests happening now, it’s getting harder to even get people out because of the competition. There seems to be the camps of people that love either the old ’80s-’90s stuff, the brand new stuff, or the stuff that was popular in the early 2000s. It’s still pretty hard to get people to pony up for festival ticket prices. Honestly, it’s all stressful as hell no matter how you swing it. I’m just glad to still be in the mix.

You also released the daddybear UNF! EP in March; as a certain irreverent humor does resound in most of your projects, what are the determining factors for you when choosing which band/moniker a song will be released under? Obviously, Klack is collaborative with Eric, but for the others, do you have a set of criteria to follow?

Fanale: daddybear (always in all lower case or all caps) is a significantly more limited palette than Caustic, as it focuses more on EBM/new beat/acid/techno simplicity than the carnage of a lot of Caustic tracks. Less is more with daddybear, and I’ve had a lot of fun exploring the sound.



We are now in the year 2019 (Blade Runner, AKIRA, etc.). As electronic and industrial music have often explored themes of sociopolitical and technological upheaval, what are your thoughts now as we pass through time – in other words, how our perceptions of ‘progress’ and ‘the future’ change as the fictions of the past come and go?

Fanale: Other than we were really off in our predictions? I WANT MY HOVERBOARD, MOTHERFUCKERS!
I’m honestly not sure. My sound and lyrics haven’t explored those themes that much and I’ve always been more of a comedy guy when it comes to movies. I’ve seen and read most of the big influences, but all I know is the future is pretty damn grim at the moment, but I’m trying not to lose hope. I’ve got a family to take care of and it’s important to me to be a good person and try and fix stuff as much as possible for them. That’s not a very grr spit industrial thing to say, but I’ve never really given a shit about being a superstar rivet guy anyway.

I’ve lost track of all of your releases over the last year-and-a-half – American Carrion, the two Dead Meat volumes, Hustle and Mate, all the Klack releases, daddybear, etc. On top of studio work, live shows, and raising a family, how do you maintain such a prolific pace?

Fanale: The easy answer is I don’t sleep much. I also know when things are ‘done’ for me. At the moment, I’m keeping pretty chill. I released a lot of Caustic last year. Outside of my monthly Patreon track, I’m not really planning anything new for Caustic for a while; daddybear and Klack have been my priority.



Anything we’ve not touched on that you’d like to discuss? What else have you in the pipeline that you’d like to share?

Fanale: Stay tuned for some new daddybear and Klack this year. Otherwise, check out the Klack, daddybear, and Caustic Bandcamp pages as there’s a ton of pay-what-you-want music there.
And support ReGen by sharing this damn InterView or whatever else you like on here! Word of mouth is everything.


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Live Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)


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