Aug 2013 24

ReGen catches up with the Italian masters of electro to see what exactly makes the latest effort so special and why audiences everywhere should take notice.

An InterView with Marco Visconti and Marko Resurreccion of XP8

By Lola Babalon (LolaBabalon) and Damian Glowinkowski (DamianG)

With six full-length releases under the belt and countless EPs echoing through the industrial dance floors, XP8 deservedly is for the electro scene a much needed quality constant; an act that for over 10 years has been delivering a stream of energizing and fresh music, purposefully engineered to reinvigorate the tired muscles of rivetheads everywhere. But panta rei, even for Italy’s biggest electro export and the latest record marks shifts in new and exciting directions. Never ones to compromise and still propel forward with unstoppable momentum due to their fans lasting support, XP8 presses on with the band’s biggest and most focused release to date – the crowd funded, self-released conceptual piece, enigmatically titled Adrenochrome. Before the album begins to dominate DJ sets like The Art of Revenge and Burning Down did in the past, ReGen is here to dig deep to see what mechanisms shaped the band’s new record.

 

Your new album, Adrenochrome hit the shelves on the first of June. Can you explain a bit about how it is different from your previous releases?

Visconti: Adrenochrome is a departure from XP8’s usual path in several ways. For one thing, this is the first album we have released entirely on our own, without ‘the support’ of an external record label; we already experimented with this process with the last two EPs, but as you can imagine, a whole album is a different story. This has changed a lot of things on a practical level for us, but for the public it should be a totally painless transition.
The album was released digitally and subsequently licensed to labels who might be interested in printing physical supports. Adrenochrome is also our first proper ‘concept album,’ where all the songs and their lyrics are inspired by the novel of the same title that was released together with the music.

How did the decision come about to make an album that’s conceptual?

Resurreccion: I wrote the first version of the novel a long time ago; in 1996, to be precise. A life ago… I always wanted to do something with it that wasn’t confined to trying to have it published as a book. At the end of the day, I am not a writer. I am a musician, but I always thought that it had a potential as a cyberpunk story.
When we entered the demo phase after the previous release, I happened to stumble upon the files on one of my drives during a backup session and it struck me that we could use the 11 chapters that make the novel as inspirations for 11 songs. We could then use the release of each chapter online to leak snippets of the relative track and thus build up to the proper album release. The novel is based in London and it felt right to finally use it now that both Marco and I have moved here. Once the decision was made, I basically gave the novel a little touch up, especially on the dialogue, and proceeded to write the lyrics.
Music in this case is a combination of previous demos that we fit within the concept structure and new material written from scratch with the novel’s lyrics being the starting point.

Tell us a little bit about how the songwriting process works for XP8.

Resurreccion: If we have a ‘method,’ I think it could be summarized as this – we write on our own, then we select potential tracks together, I then start mixing and developing demos and we attack it together trying to sculpt a final structure of the song. Once we arrive at that stage, I do the proper mix and Marco lends his ‘fresher’ ears and DJ perspective along that process. I usually write all the lyrics, a process that mostly happens after the song passes the selection phase, unless the lyrical content is the actual driving force of the song, like in Adrenochrome in fact.

Adrenochrome seems to be a structured and finite entity with no remix tracks typical for EBM/ electro releases. Do you plan to release a remix EP at a later date?

Visconti: There are no remixes on the actual album, and we realized that our crowd it not really keen on the concept of a remix EP any more. It seems like they want more original tunes, and while they might enjoy the occasional remix, there’s not a big request of this kind of releases, if ever there was in our scene to begin with. What I can tell you is that there will definitely be remixes of tracks from Adrenochrome; in fact, Syrian, Informatik, Kant Kino, and FabrikC are already working on their own versions of ‘Night Run’ and ‘Information,’ and more are being arranged as well because we just love to see our music remodeled by artists we like. But I think those will see the lights on compilations or as internet freebies as opposed of being pooled up in an actual release, with the possible exception of the digital edition of the 7-inch vinyl we’ll put out later this year – another ‘son’ of the super successful crowd funding event we ran in May.

It’s been over 10 years for the band. Looking back, what were some of the highlights or most memorable moments?

Resurreccion: My memory is a joke; I am just very forgetful… but to be fair, I also don’t really like to dwell on the past in general. It’s just not something I do.

Visconti: I’m the exact opposite of Marko… I remember everything. It’s almost scary, in fact. But even so, there are just too many memorable moments to choose one, and as Marko said, I too prefer not to dwell in the past. Let’s see what the future brings while living the present to the fullest!

XP8 has been labeled a ‘futurepop’ act. How valid do you think labels are in music these days?

Visconti: Labels are a marketing tool, pure and simple. They mean absolutely nothing in terms of music making, but they are terribly important when you try to put your music out and reach people with it. If you end up with the wrong label stuck to your back, there’s very little you can do to get rid of it – something we learned the hard way.
For quite some time, I was desperate to shake the stigma off, because to me, ‘futurepop’ was a very defined moment in the EBM/electro/industrial evolution and I didn’t want to stick to one sound. I see XP8 as a progressive act. I just don’t understand ‘conservative old-schoolism’ as a valid approach. If you don’t at least try to move forward a little, you should stick to playing cover versions of real bands in a pub. That said, today, I kind of changed my mind about the ‘futurepop’ label, because I think of it in literal terms.

There are always those who say that the ‘scene’ is dying. What are your thoughts?

Resurreccion: I don’t think about the scene.

Visconti: Complex topic. I have long thought that the ‘scene’ was dying indeed… mostly because I didn’t like the current trends and didn’t want it all to go that way. While I still generally think we are not yet out of the shit, I somewhat believe the ‘scene’ will never ‘die.’ It evolves, and sometimes it takes steps backwards. But it’s still out there. Maybe it’s shrinking, or maybe in a few years we’ll see how much it got bigger. Surely, something needs to change; people need to learn to embrace change and new influences or it will stagnate as it stagnates in the past six years or so. If we could stop idolizing everything that Germany throws at the rest of the world, it would be amazing too… but there are good pointers that this is happening already; look at how the British scene has improved in the span of a mere three years, with two (soon three) big festivals fully established and a lot of very promising newcomers. There is hope… it just doesn’t come easy, like all good things in life.

What projects are you working on besides XP8?

Resurreccion: Right now XP8 is all I have the energy to work on…

Visconti: I have been toying with the idea of a side project for some time now… and as Marko had to pull from the tour, I realized that if I want to keep on touring as much as I like to, I might just have to kick start the said side project once and for all. Now, if only I could find a proper inspiration… all I can say for now is that it will have huge occult, esoteric, and Lovecraftian overtones.

Recently, you announced the cancellation of your North American and Canadian tours. Can you tell our readers what lead to that decision?

Resurreccion: Well, I thought Marco’s post on our page was clear enough… but still. Basically, since I moved to London in 2011, I started working as an AV technician, first as a freelancer and then fulltime.
This year my day job has developed further and it has made it impossible for me to take on week-long tours for the time being, so we had to regrettably cancel the tour this year.
I might be able to use my leave for touring in the future but that’s totally up in the air for now, so for awhile, we are restricted to shorter trips in UK and the rest of Europe.

XP8 performed at Vampire Party in Antwerp, Belgium on April 6, along with Suicide Commando, Soman, and Aesthetic Perfection. How did that go?

Visconti: Judging from the amazing reviews we got the very next day, I’d say it went extremely well! The whole party has been a huge success. It’s been, to my memory, the first crowd funded festival in our scene and that alone already shows how much the people in Belgium wanted it to happen; a true success on its own. Onstage, we were also joined by Surgyn, with whom we performed our little snarky tune ‘Eins, Zwei, Drei, FUCK’ along with an inflatable pool (yes, you read it right) and general madness. It was crazy and fun!

A lot of old and new bands use Kickstarter as a platform for releasing old and new material. You’ve managed to hit your goal within 18 hours. How did that correspond with your expectations? Did you anticipate such an overwhelming success?

Resurreccion: No, we did not expect that kind of reaction at all. It really was overwhelming! We would have been satisfied with reaching the set goal by the end of the campaign; we would have considered that a success!
I suppose it can be said that a lot was due to the support demonstrated by our ‘industrial friends’ on Facebook and other platforms; they went out of their ways to repost and generally share the information with their followers… it was touching and a joy to watch unfold.

Obviously now that Adrenochrome is ready, you took that album on the road and played a launch party in London. Was it a relief for you to finally play the new material in front of the live audience? And where are you going with Adrenochrome now?

Resurreccion: After the London gig, we had the chance to bring Adrenochrome to the other side of the Atlantic, to the audience of the very successful Terminus Re:Loaded Festival in Calgary. In the very near future, we’ve got Summer Darkness in Utrecht, a long awaited return to the Netherlands, and then a few dates in Italy and the UK later this year.
Basically, we’ll let the album take us where it must, and we will follow.

And in regards to your performance at the Terminus Festival in Canada, would you care to share your feelings? How did it feel to be a part of such a massive and diverse event?

Visconti: My immediate reaction was to post on my personal Facebook that Terminus truly and completely redefined the festival experience for me. Now, I have been lucky to bring my music pretty much everywhere in the world, playing every festival there is and seeing all kinds of different situations. Some are very good, like Resistanz and Infest in the UK, and some are very popular while offering a terrible experience to most bands that play them (no, I won’t name them!). But somehow Terminus was able to raise the bar, proving that you can offer a great, mixed lineup from all the various realities of the big industrial music umbrella and keep your crowd happy for three days in a row while selling out the event as well.
And there was no drama, no egomaniacs (there are way too many in this scene, and most of the time, the worst are those who portray a ‘positive’ image); only a great feeling of camaraderie between all the bands involved and a great feedback from the fans. Hell, I even got to crowd surf to Combichrist!
I think that other festivals from now on can only learn from the Terminus lesson, and in fact, it’s a pity that Kinetik did offer a very similar lineup in 2010 without generating the same amount of hype or enthusiasm, but I am sure it’s only because it took the world three more years to realize there’s much more in ‘industrial’ in the 21st century than the countless clone bands coming from Germany.

You have mentioned that you both live in London now. As artists, critics, and also an audience do you feel tightly connected to this living tissue of industrial organism? Could you reveal some of the inner workings and thoughts regarding operating in such close proximity to fans and other bands to our readers?

Resurreccion: I believe it’s an absolute must for any so-called artists to regularly go check out other acts live. It’s healthy and inspiring and at times you can learn a lot. We don’t do it just to schmooze… honest!
London, but also the rest of the UK, and its (for lack of better words) industrial scene is a powerful attractor for a lot of talent and it’s a blessing to be here now. Peer pressure in this case is a good thing because we’re all trying to be better than the next band and that can only improve the overall quality of the output.
Detractors will always be ready to tell you that ‘Oh, it’s not as it used to be’ or any such depressing drivel, but don’t be fooled; they’ve been saying that crap since the ’60s.
As for an insight of the inner workings, it’s all about the booze and the bass.

And to finish the InterView off, would you briefly answer the following question: If we were to sit down for a follow up in another 10 years, where would you like XP8 to be?

Visconti: I’d rather retire XP8 by then, because we wouldn’t be credible doing what XP8 means now. I’d like us to evolve into something a little more abstract as our external shells will start to show wear and tear… musically, we’ll always try to push the forward button, and let’s see where it’ll take us.

 

Leave a Comment

*