In this first of a three-part InterView series with the members of Society 1, vocalist/front man Matt “The Lord” Zane speaks with ReGen on the latest incarnation of the band, its musical and creative evolution, the return of guitarist Sin Quirin, and life as a working musician.
An InterView with Matt “The Lord” Zane of Society 1
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Revered as well as reviled, Society 1 is a band that has led a tumultuous existence. Spearheaded by front man and vocalist Matt “The Lord” Zane since its inception in the late ’90s, the band has skated on the edge of the mainstream with a darkly industrialized metal sound that has led to comparisons to the likes of Marilyn Manson and Dope, all the while following a singular and unique path that has seen the band achieve soaring highs as well as debilitating lows in its pursuit of creative and spiritual freedom. Through it all, Zane’s determination and creative drive has enabled Society 1 to survive, exploring various musical styles from industrial/rock to blues and even spoken word, performing at several major festivals around the world. With the release of A Collection of Lies, featuring several new and unreleased tracks, the return of longtime guitarist Sin Quirin, and a comic book in the works, Society 1 cranks the energy level to maximum!
Matt “The Lord” Zane speaks with ReGen in this first of a three-part InterView series to let us in on just what his band has in store and what keeps him going in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Society 1’s current lineup, featuring newer members like Beau Ashley and Iorden Mitev and longtime members Sin Quirin and Dirt Von Karloff, seems to be the most stable it has yet been. What can you tell us about the collaborative process among the band members and how it’s shaping the new music?
Zane: Beau in a sense is becoming integrated still because he had to come in with three guys who have toured the world together and have known each other for years. I think he’ll be involved more on that part, but right now, as far as what he offers, his feel and how he may approach some songwriting within his own style. Some of that still comes through. They have a bit more to go. I believe it’ll happen in time. I’m always just after the best songs, so whoever’s writing the best stuff – if that means it’s Beau in the future, if that means it’s more Sin-based riffs, if it means more of Dirt or two of us or three of us, it’s just whatever it is. Zeppelin used to do the same thing; it was more John Paul Jones and Robert Plant at certain points, and at certain times Jimmy would come in, and sometimes it was all of those guys… same thing with the Doors. We’re a real band, just out there to get the best thing we can, and whoever’s doing it at the time is what I go after. This isn’t like Nine Inch Nails where I’m Trent and that’s it and you can offer shit but whatever.
So it’s changed as all things do. When you go see Alice Cooper now, he even admits it’s a family-oriented show. In the ’70s, he was the devil. It is what it is. Every time we get up on that stage, we’re just happy, because it’s amazing. I’m standing on that stage and people are coming to see me. 20 years later. How wild is that?
While Society 1 is often considered industrial/metal or some derivation of that, your style and influences show a much more rock-oriented approach. What are your thoughts on how so-called industrial techniques have found their way into modern rock, and how you feel that label applies in this day and age?
Besides Society 1, you’ve been developing a career as a director of music videos, having done not only your own, but also for Wayne Static and Orgy. What are your plans for this side of your career and how does it differ on a creative level for you from what you do in Society 1?
Zane: I love making music videos. To me, it’s a challenge still to this day because there are so many technical things you have to learn in order to make your vision come to life, and I’m still definitely within that process. For me, it’s a challenge and I enjoy a good challenge – it’s fun. It’s just another way to be creative, and that’s pretty much it. You don’t get any recognition from music videos; no one gives a shit. You barely get credit half the time. You really have to have a love for it, a love for filmmaking, if you get involved. And I do; I definitely have it, and I believe there’s a future for me within it on a lot of levels, whether it is through commercials or music videos or possibly movies or television shows. It’s just another creative outlet I enjoy. Now, why do I do it and how does it compare in terms of Society 1? I get paid for all my directing and DP and editing. That’s how I make my living right now. Whereas Society 1… we do make money; there is money starting to come in from it, obviously from the merch and the shows and the CDs and stuff, but it’s not how we support ourselves. It basically pays for itself, but it’s done out of love… pure love and a passion for creating and performing. So in that way, they’re different. If Society 1 gets back to the point where it becomes a viable source of monetary return, great! But right now, it’s not there. That’s how it differs. So I have to view the music videos as more of a job than more of a pure creative outlet.
Society 1 has played throughout the world, famously appearing at the Download festival in 2005. What is the potential for the band to embark on a full tour?
Zane: It’s funny, because the opportunity presents itself every two weeks. I can’t drop the names because you’re bound to not talk about them, but we’ve been offered tours all over the world already. It happened within the first three months we were back. You wouldn’t even believe half the tours we were offered. You’ve got to remember, we’re not on a label anymore. So I could sit here and make some excuse to you and make it sound like we’re too cool for school and I’ve got to go direct another video, but the reality is this… I got a call from Europe some time ago saying, ‘Hey, do you want to come do this tour with this band?’ And I got a call three weeks before that for a tour in the States. The reality is because we’re not on a label and because gas prices are that much higher than they used to be (Laughs), you really have to think about if you’re going to take the tour or not. Do we want to go do them? Absolutely! But I’m not about to go in the hole $20,000 so I can go fulfill some rock-cock fantasy. Do I want to bring the music to the people, do I get the offers, do I get people writing every day asking when I’m going to go to Houston or England or France or New York? Yeah it happens, absolutely. But as much as I’d like to go there, I’m not going to jeopardize my stability in life to do that. I’m too old for that at this point in time, and I don’t need the ego boost. I’m not saying we’re not going to do it, but the situation has to be right in order for it to make sense for all of us, and that’s when we’ll take those opportunities.
You’d some years ago suffered a back injury that you were recovering from when we last spoke in 2011. How is your recovery going?
Sin Quirin has spent nearly a decade out of the band and has earned a name for himself since then. How did he come to return to Society 1?
Zane: He was actually gone for nine years out of the band. It was a really weird thing that happened – we were asked to play a club out here that is run by this guy named Skum Love, who is one of the main dudes over at Schecter Guitars. I’ve known him for 25 years, maybe. He called us up and said, ‘Hey, will you come play my club?’ I said sure and it just so happened to be the same day as Sin’s birthday, and Sin is endorsed by Schecter, so Skum decided to make it a birthday show for Sin without talking to us about it. When I heard about it, I called Sin and said, ‘Dude, it’s going to be really weird if we play your birthday show and you don’t do a song with us. Why don’t you do a track?’ He said yeah, we discussed it… to make a long story short, the show was good; it was almost sold out. When he came up onstage, the energy went from eight to 14. People really, really seemed to get into it. You could feel there was something there. After that happened, it made us both kind of step back and go, ‘Wow, we didn’t think people cared that much.’ Sin has a great career. He’s in MINISTRY and we were coming back slowly, but the fact that when the two of us got together something else seemed to happen meant we had to acknowledge it. So we started talking about it. And that’s how it happened.
Society 1 also has a comic book coming out, No Salvation. What can you tell us about this title? Will it be based on the band’s biography, or will it be a fictional story with the band as characters?
Is there anything you’d like to add before we close out?
Zane: Thank you so much, man. We need all the love and help we can get – it’s not an easy game out there anymore.
Society 1 Website http://www.society1official.com
Society 1 Facebook http://www.facebook.com/society1
Society 1 Twitter http://www.twitter.com/society1music
Society 1 SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/society1
Live Photographs by Kaley Nelson, courtesy of Kaley Nelson Photography (http://www.KaleyNelson.com)
Sin Quirin Photographs by Dean Karr, courtesy of Dean Karr Photography (http://deankarr.com)
No Salvation by Dominic Valecillo (https://www.facebook.com/dominic.valecillo)