Nov 2023 21

Now signed to Metropolis Records and with a new album out, ReGen Magazine speaks with genCAB about the band’s darkly creative paths of post-industrial and gritty electro.
 

 

An InterView with David Dutton of genCAB

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

It can be difficult to pin down just what makes genCAB such a unique entity in modern electro/industrial. As the primary creative outlet for David Dutton, who has cultivated a reputation as a reliable performer and collaborator with the likes of Imperative Reaction and Aesthetic Perfection, his songs are as compositionally challenging as they are striking in their melodicism and slickly produced appeal, often deviating from the standards of the pop formula in favor of a more fluid stream of musical consciousness that doesn’t betray an inherently catchiness that drove past efforts like II transMuter and Thoughts Beyond Words. Despite some touring misfortunes last year, genCAB regrouped and is stronger than ever, now signed to the great Metropolis Records and having now released Signature Flaws, presenting some of Dutton’s most accomplished and dynamic songwriting efforts yet. ReGen had the opportunity to speak with the man about his creative process, throwing in a bit of gear talk, his improved singing abilities, live performance, and all the other factors to genCAB’s success.

 

Your songs, while highly melodic and filled with memorable hooks, never seem to follow what many consider to be a ‘standard’ formula (the pop mentality of verse/chorus/bridge, etc.). Would you please tell us about your songwriting process, particularly on Signature Flaws?

Dutton: I feel like a lot of the time when I’m working on something, I feel more inclined to write linearly. It’s usually more of an effort for me to go back to an idea like a chorus more than once. I was always told that this was kind of wrong, but I think those kind of rules really just tie into popular music and are generally for tying just a couple ideas together. Generally, I find myself overwriting a lot, but if one part relates to the previous in any way, it can still sound pretty self-contained. That’s just the way I seem to be wired.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of creating music for genCAB, both from a composition and a production standpoint?

Dutton: For me, it’s definitely keeping a sense of space for the important things. I’ll riff on a few bars for a while and find a dozen things that I want to do at once sometimes. In a way, that can make filling out the rest of the track a little bit easier as it goes on, I guess. A huge issue that I used to have was CPU usage, but I’ve upgraded so much recently that I usually only run into that problem when a track is basically 95% done now. Compositionally, I used to really worry about genre, but I’m a lot more content now with doing what serves the particular song and not worrying if it’s ‘industrial enough’ or anything now. That was really freeing for me.

 

 

Regarding your vocals, while still featuring plenty of effects, there seems to be a great clarity in the tone of your voice vs. the earlier material. How much of this comes from the improvements in production/mastering these days? Would you say that you have more confidence in your abilities as a singer now?

Dutton: Thanks! Yeah, that was the thing I was most proud of with the recent stuff. I did totally invest in a good mic and a good preamp, but I used to be really self-conscious about recording my own vocals. A while back though, I moved into a pretty remote house, and that slowly allowed me to get more used to trying things out. I also figured out that my voice is a little higher than the stuff I was really influenced by, and once I had accepted that and started transposing what I was working on to fit that range, that’s when everything came into place. Now, I just seem to write in that area automatically. I also add a lot of harmonies, sometimes low, but sometimes pretty audible.

Prior to the album, you’d released a revised version of ‘Perish the Thought,’ which came about due to recomposing the track for your live set. In doing so, what sorts of decisions – in terms of production and performance – do you feel you make in your newer music vs. 15 years ago?

Dutton: There were so many. Getting started, I just cobbled everything together and hit play, and it was a huge mess! No bass in some sections, no space for things that needed it. I ended up recreating most of the original parts, but made sure that they could all play nice together. And then, of course, with the vocals, I was able to go up an entire octave on parts without it sounding out of place, and not only did I do that, but I added a lot of harmonies that could have fit in just fine in the original.

 

 

In what ways would you say that Signature Flaws represents the logical evolution of genCAB?

Dutton: As far as Signature Flaws, I tend to stay a little longer in the non-traditional sections than I used to. I’m not even sure how I made sure consciously that it would relate to older songs (maybe aside from ‘Version3’), but it’s been pointed out to me that some tracks, like ‘Cancer Causes Life,’ seem to be related to a track like ‘Expired Inside.’ Or ‘The Badge’ to ‘Of Love & Death,’ which is cool because lately, I’ve almost felt like II transMuter was separate from everything I’ve done in the last three years.

What have you found to be the major difficulties with live performance, as it applies to genCAB; what’s the hardest part of translating your music for the live environment?

Dutton: One of the more recent problems was trying to develop a light show with it, but without involving a computer at all for that or tracks. Right now, we can run the show and run separate tracks, but are still looking how to make our hardware lighting setup play nice without someone manning that in real time. We’ve also stripped it down to me doing vocals and occasional keys, and Tim Van Horn doing drums. For the life of me, I can’t sing and play guitar well at the same time, but in the future, I’d love to add someone who could play guitar and keys since so much of the newer stuff has those elements peppered in. The other issue is just the expense of touring. We really wanted to cover the dates we missed on our tour last year, but I was out of work for a while, and it was just impossible.

In terms of how the electronic scene has evolved, where do you see it going? Other artists have recently made some bold predictions about live shows being a thing of the past in the not-too-distant future – what do you think about this and how it might play out?

Dutton: I think there are a lot of newer artists out now with open minds, which was something that I felt was almost lacking when I got started, and I love how diverse any band in this scene can sound now. I definitely know what they mean about shows being harder to do farther from your local area, but I don’t think it’ll completely die out. I think most live acts will probably be smaller outfits, two or three people at most, just to save on expense. Honestly, I hope it strengthens local scenes though. There’s a local night around here in the Easton, PA area called Coven that books a lot of bands local to our area that has a lot of support. I’d hope that all around the country there are more nights like that.

Just for a bit of gear talk, what pieces of equipment or types of sounds are being made now that are exciting you and giving you some inspiration?

Dutton: I think the thing I’ve been most stoked on now is IRs and amp sims. I had a shoegaze band for a while, and recording guitars in an apartment the old fashioned way was a real pain. I got a Neural DSP Quad Core a couple years ago though, and it’s constantly being updated and sounds great. I’m also too poor to afford a bunch of old school synths, but I’m really happy with the way u-he Diva sounds. Infiltrator 2 is my favorite multi-effects. I’ve been really in the box lately. As far as people doing production, I’m really into what ARCA has been doing and I’m really into the space in a lot of alternative R&B stuff that’s been coming out the past six years. It still sounds like it’s from the future.

 

 

Signature Flaws is your first release with Metropolis Records. Would you tell us how you came to be signed to the eminent label?

Dutton: It was a pretty organic thing actually. I went to a Kristeen Young show in Delaware and Jim Smith was there. I already knew him from when I was with Aesthetic Perfection and Imperative Reaction and were just chatting. He asked what I was up to, and I was just about to wrap up that album, with no plans as to what I was going to do about releasing it. I wasn’t even fishing to be signed, but I’ve grown up with Metropolis Record releases that I’ve loved since high school and always thought of them as being a staple for that kind of music in the United States. So needless to say, I was pretty excited. I met with him and Gail Heckman at a MINISTY / Gary Numan / Front Line Assembly show a couple of weeks later and got an offer I couldn’t refuse!

Working with labels like Metropolis and Negative Gain, and with so many more avenues for independent musicians to distribute their music and be heard, what are your thoughts on the state of the industry – will we still be bound to labels in the foreseeable future?
How do you feel the labels you’ve worked with thus far ae exemplary of directions that the industry could or should take?

Dutton: I don’t think it’s totally necessary nowadays depending on what your goals are, but personally, I like having a team behind me helping to push it. A lot of us do what we do by ourselves all the time, and I think it’s nice to have some support in that way. Plus, I still believe there’s some merit to being added to a collective legacy. You just have to make sure that those people believe in what you’re doing and are looking out for your collective interests. There are a few labels out there just putting out anything they can get their hands on, essentially abandoning the artist after the first couple of months before release. All of these things need nurturing so that all parties can be successful.

Outside of music, what do you most enjoy? Movies, books, hiking, cooking, etc.

Dutton: I’ve been really big on hiking lately. I’ve been considering making a career change to become a park ranger, but I’m still looking into that. I have also started brewing beer again. I take it very seriously and I’m very meticulous about crafting recipes and making it. I also found that I play a lot of video games. I’m big on ‘Souls-likes,’ though lately I’ve been replaying Cyberpunk 2077. I was also hopelessly addicted to Skyrim and modding about a decade ago.

What’s next for you and genCAB? Will we be seeing another tour soon? Any music videos in the works?

Dutton: I’ve decided that I’m going to take a short creative break, maybe like six months, before I start making myself write again. But next year, we really want to focus on playing live, at least in our area. There were a couple of videos that fell through, but I have everything I need to make one of them. I’m just waiting for the free time to shoot it.

 

genCAB
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Metropolis Records
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Photography provided courtesy of genCAB

 

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