Jan 2013 14

Ben DeWalt (a.k.a. DJ Hellraver) of Terrorfakt, a relentless power noise group that assaults oil drums and eardrums alike, speaks with ReGen about politics and the music business.

An InterView with Ben DeWalt, Andy Morgan, and James Smith of Terrorfakt

By: Corinne De La Coeur (DarkIvyException)

Terrorfakt has gained some infamy for aggressive touring since the band began in 2001 and for their revolving live members including, but not limited to, Eric Gottesman (Everything Goes Cold), Wilhelm Curse (The Electric Hellfire Club), and Steve Archer (Ego Likeness). However, since the band’s latest album release, Re/Evolution in 2009, Terrorfakt’s touring has slowed down, keeping fans eager for new album releases and live show dates. The announcement of Terrorfakt coming to Seattle drew a large crowd to Mechanismus, ready for noise, grinders, and some live onstage destruction. Before the highly anticipated show, Ben DeWalt agreed to let ReGen InterView him along with live members James Smith and Andy Morgan. DeWalt shared some of his thoughts before launching into the InterView about the industrial music scene and what he has liked and disliked about it.

 

DeWalt: When I get home, I sit on the couch and watch TV and take the dog for a walk; that’s pretty much my rock star life. I’ve got $50 in my pocket that I got from Andy, who now has no money in his pocket. We really don’t do the whole ‘rock star’ thing. There are other bands that are on our label, Metropolis, and in this scene (the noisy industrial scene), they’ll book a show and charge $20 to get in. They’ll actually ask for such a guarantee that the door has to charge that much. And on top of that, they’ll charge $75 for a VIP package where you can come backstage, meet the band, and get your stuff signed, and, you know, hang all over them and treat them like ‘rock stars,’ and I just find that stuff to be pretentious bullshit. We’re just regular people and in the grand scheme of things, this scene really isn’t that fucking big. Even the biggest band is still a drop in the bucket in the ‘real music scene.’ We’re just regular people; we do this for fun. I don’t really make any money doing this. I just do it to hang out with my friends, get to travel for free, and break shit on stage and ruin my hearing and drink Jack Daniels and Jägermeister backstage.

Terrorfakt used to tour extensively, playing hundreds of shows in the course of a few years. How did you manage to keep that momentum and stay sane?

DeWalt: Well, we were never sane. I think at one point, we did 450 shows in three or four years. It was constant. I’d be home for maybe two weeks at a time. It’s kind of this snowball effect where once it starts, it just doesn’t stop. I’d be on the road; halfway through a tour, I’d be booking dates for the next tour. So the momentum comes from keeping it going and never stopping. Otherwise, it would all come to a screeching halt and you lose your drive to get out there.

Is that why the touring has calmed down recently?

DeWalt: Yeah; that and the whole downloading music thing. That really killed merch sales for a lot of artists and merch sales are pretty much what keep bands alive on the road. You’ve got your guarantees that you get from the promoter, which covers van rental and hotels, but it’s the merch sales that help pay your rent while you are away, pay your bills, buy your gear that you need for the road, and to cover the day to day expenses of being on the road. So CD sales have slumped, everyone is more into downloading stuff illegally and buying digital downloads, which are cool but still take money out of the bands’ pockets. So we, like a lot of other bands, realize that we needed to get day jobs. Then you can’t go out and tour for three or four months straight. You have to figure out a way to subsidize that loss of income. Downloads kind of killed it. Right here in Seattle, there used to be a really awesome record store called MusicWerks that is gone now because people stopped buying CDs. They’d rather download it than pay the $10. I still buy CDs. I buy CDs, DVDs, vinyl. If there’s a movie I can’t find on DVD, my dumb ass will buy it on VHS. Even if I do download something, I’ll still go buy the album.

Do you see yourself touring more in the years to come?

DeWalt: I don’t know; it’s hard to say. I have a dog. I have a day job that I make good money at so I can’t really fuck that up. The older I get, the more I revert back to music I grew up listening to and the more disgust I get from the new stuff I’m hearing. I’ve just kind of regressed to the old stuff and I’d rather sit at home and listen to punk rock records and go to punk and hardcore shows.

Morgan: We stay away from the term ‘midlife crisis.’

DeWalt: Yeah, sure, midlife crisis.

Morgan: I’m right there with you, man.

DeWalt: Sure, we’ll go with that – flashy cars, tattoos. But yeah, I’ve just got so much other stuff that it’s hard to dedicate time to what’s going to be a financially losing venture. And I don’t want to do what some of the other bands are doing: charging $25 for tickets, VIP packages, and meet and greets. If you’re into that, cool. If, for you, that’s what the music scene is about, cool. More power to you. I’m just not into that type of shit. I just want to hang out, have a good time, and blast loud music. I don’t want to do the rock star bullshit.

Three years passed before Re/Evolution came out, and now that another three years has gone by, do you plan on releasing another album?

DeWalt: I plan them; I just rarely have time to sit down and do it. Again, the older you get, the more responsibilities you have, you find that time escapes you. Free time has become a luxury and rarity, but if I had the opportunity, I would. And I would like to as soon as I get the chance.

Terrorfakt was created because of 9/11 and the politics at the time. How would you say politics have changed and how was that reflected in music most recently for you?

DeWalt: That’s a loaded question. I will say that I really love this country. The United States is one of the most beautiful countries in this world. As far as our government goes, I can’t stand it. Love our country… fucking hate our government; even post-Bush, especially post-Bush. Presidents, regardless of whether they are Democratic or Republican, it’s the same shit, different suit. Everyone wants to think ‘hope and change’ and that it’s a different president who’s not Bush. They’re right. It’s not Bush, but it’s the same bullshit just with a different spin on it. What with the NDAA thing, the detainment of our own citizens for no reason, the drone planes that are decimating civilians. And the person authorizing that gets a Nobel Peace Prize? How does that fucking work? Politics are just so goddamned hypocritical. It doesn’t matter if they’re Democratic or Republican; they should all be wiped out. I’d vote for Cthulhu.

Morgan: ‘Why choose the lesser evil?’ From my standpoint, without getting too political, is that our country was founded to have career politicians. You’re supposed to represent your people… your people. And we’ve gotten away from that. We’ve just gotten guys who are in it for the money. They say they’re doing what’s best for the country but they’re really doing what they think is best for our country without listening to constituents. That’s just my opinion.

DeWalt: The country was also not founded to give out hand outs to people who have a false sense of entitlement. To hear our president say ‘there comes a time where you’ve made too much money, it’s time to redistribute your wealth.’ Why is it against the law to be rich? Why is it a crime to have money? If you have money, you’re suddenly this awful person. We’re leaning towards a very socialist take on politics. I don’t see anything wrong with having money, if you work hard and you earn it. If you sit on your ass all day because you don’t feel like working you shouldn’t be entitled to what I’ve made.

What would you say is the biggest difference between creating music for Terrorfakt and creating music for T-Faktor? Does one project feel more personal than the other?

DeWalt: I would say that the difference is to try to keep Terrorfakt a bit more structured. T-Faktor is when I just want to experiment and see what kind of fucked up shit I can create. That’s probably the biggest difference between the two. I kind of take off the gloves and take off the boundaries. Whatever I feel like writing.

What can someone expect from your live performance tonight at Mechanismus?

DeWalt: Five drunk people trying not to fall over on stage; hopefully, no stab wounds. Hopefully, no one gets hit in the back of the head with a sledgehammer. Wait, we don’t have any sledgehammers tonight, do we?

Morgan: We do.

DeWalt: Shit.

Smith: If you have a cell phone, just dial 9-1 and wait to hit that last button. You’ll know when.

DeWalt: Depending on the crowd, we can play anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half. Depending on if they start throwing stuff at us and saying ‘get the fuck off the stage.’ So we’ll see how it goes. I would like to do the full hour-and-a-half; it’s fun.

On Facebook, you post a fair amount of links to help rescue dogs. Would you say that animal rights is a passion of yours?

DeWalt: It is one of my top passions. It goes back to a lot of prejudice and misinformation as to which dogs are good dogs and which dogs are bad dogs. There’s really no such thing as a bad dog. There is such a thing as good owner and a bad owner – good people and bad people. They are the ones who condition and raise dogs. The whole thing with Pit Bulls is that they are the big enemy now of the media. Many years ago, in the ’60s I think, it was the Doberman. In the ’70s, it was the German Shepherd. In the ’90s, it was the Rottweiler, and now they’re going after the Pit Bulls. One of the reasons they’re going after Pit Bulls is because they say they have the highest bite rate, but the reason they have the highest bite rate is because they are the most bred dog. So if I have a million Pit Bulls and 25 Chihuahuas, where’s there going to be the biggest bite rate? As far as family dogs, the highest bite goes to the Labrador Retriever, which is the ‘American’ dog, the L.L. Bean dog. They’re great dogs, but no one reports on it. I was attacked by a dog. My neighbor had a Chihuahua, and I was sitting there petting the dog and all of a sudden it turned around and snapped my finger. So what should we do? Should we euthanize every Chihuahua that we see? It’s ridiculous! You can’t blame an entire breed based on the actions of a few who are mishandled.

Morgan: Mishandled, mis-trained, or abused. Abuse is a big one. A lot of people think just beating a dog will make it bend to your whim. You’ve got to teach the dog respect, yes, but there’s more than just beating a dog.

DeWalt: There comes a time when you beat a dog enough it will turn on you or turn on the first person that puts their hand towards it. It can only take so much and you can’t really blame them for that.

Morgan: Every animal has its time limit and you put them in that sort of situation.

DeWalt: I have a Pit Bull at home. He’s four years old and 85 lbs and he thinks he is a cat. He will curl up and sit in my lap. The only time he’s ever barked at someone was when people come running up and go ‘oh he’s so cute!’ and they’ll put their hands in the air like they’re going to pet him. Then they’ll back away and he wonders why they’re backing away. Then he’ll start barking but it’s not aggressive barking. He just wants to know why they’re not petting him. But they see a dog that the media describes as these awful dogs and suddenly opinions are formed and prejudices are made. It’s racial profiling.

 

1 Comment

  1. That was definitely THE most memorable and destructive shows ever. Opening for Terrorfakt was a huge honor.

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