Audiences have been waiting more than a decade for the Canadian industrial/rock band to return, and with the patience rewarded with the release of 2018’s Orogenesis, Clayton Worbeck lets us in on what’s been going on in Stayte.
An InterView with Clayton Worbeck of Stayte
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
It has been 12 years since Canadian industrial/rock band Stayte released a full-length album, although that is not to say that the duo of Joshua Bradford and Clayton Worbeck have not been productive in the interim. With a bevy of remix, production, and guest performer credits, along with a holiday EP in 2013 and a spoken word comedy album in 2017, the pair have perhaps made the greatest impact outside of their primary band as residents of Al Jourgensen’s 13th Planet. With 2009’s Sex-O Olympic-O and 2010’s ¿Got Cock?, Bradford and Worbeck were key members of the Revolting Cocks, followed by a brief excursion in The Great Americon, before returning to their main band to produce the long-awaited follow-up to the acclaimed 2007 album The Two Sisters. Finally seeing the light of day in July of 2018, Orogenesis demonstrated just how far Stayte had come in the intervening years with what could possibly be the band’s most accomplished effort, chockful of arrangements as colossal and production as titanic as the most imposing mountain range. Clayton Worbeck took the time to speak with ReGen about the long process of creating this audio mountain, touching on the songwriting and production, as well as reminiscing about the time spent with the Revolting Cocks, creating film soundtracks, and the difficulties of touring.
Your latest album, Orogenesis is the first full-length album of new material under the Stayte moniker since 2007’s The Two Sisters (not counting the Dear God! and There Will Be Bleeps EPs). While you have released music under your various other outlets and worked on soundtracks for movies like Dead Within and Island Zero, what can you tell us about the gestation of this album?
: Yes, Orogenesis
is the follow up to The Two Sisters
. Those spoof EPs were ridiculously good fun, and for some reason or other, we decided to release them?! Orogenesis
took much longer than I’d like to admit to, but I’m beyond happy we stuck with it to see it through. All the side projects had an impact on the gestation, but life outside music played a much larger role over the span of that decade. Orogenesis
refers to the lengthy process of mountain formation, and it truly was like making a mountain – piles and piles of recording sessions, mixes, and countless other challenges, fewer and fewer people involved in the process as we got closer to the top. And when it was finally done, only Josh and I were involved… and we were in different countries at that.
We started writing and recording the first incarnation of the record in 2008 at MINISTRY’s El Paso studio while they were on tour. In late 2008, we had a preliminary version of the album that was supposed to be out on 13th Planet Records the following year. For several reasons, that fell through and we put it on the backburner. We didn’t come back to it until 2011. We realized the album had much more potential and started the next phase of recording and mixing. This reworking continued in between side projects and live shows until 2014. At this point, all the recording was completed and half the mixes were done, but I had gradually lost interest in completing it. I knew there was no way of pushing this release via a label, a tour, or self-promotion. All this made me wonder why I should bother putting more time into these songs. Simultaneously, I had become quite busy scoring feature films. So, the album went on hold again and at that point, I honestly had no intention of finishing it.
But then in 2016, I started getting random e-mails from fans asking about what was happening with the new album. I happened to have a break between films and I spent some time listening to the Orogenesis
mixes again, and I changed my mind. The album was totally worth releasing, especially for the fans who had stuck with us for all these years. I got to work finishing the remaining mixes and the album was mastered in late 2017. The final delay was due to the slow turnaround when releasing vinyl.
In what ways do you feel its themes – musical and lyrical – are an extension of what you’d approached on The Two Sisters? Or are they?
: I don’t feel that there are many (if any) extensions of The Two Sisters
on this album. To put it in perspective, we wrote and recorded most of The Two Sisters
before Josh and I joined the Revolting Cocks. The touring and studio work we went through from 2006-2010 honed so many aspects of our individual musical abilities and that more than set the stage for Orogenesis
to be its own thing.
Similarly, from a production standpoint, how do you feel you’ve progressed Stayte’s sound and way of doing things over the course of your discography? What would you say defines the ‘Stayte sound,’ if such a thing can be defined?
Worbeck: Essentially, the ‘Stayte sound’ happens whenever Josh and I collaborate in the alternative rock/electronic/industrial genre. You can hear it in all of the non-Stayte projects we’ve worked on together. Any of those songs where both of us were involved in the writing process could easily be on a Stayte record.
From a production standpoint, I think Orogenesis is the ‘Stayte sound’ that I’ve always wanted. I know we’ve written some great songs on past records, but the production was always a struggle. We were too quirky to get decent funding from a label back then, so it was it was always D.I.Y., from the recording sessions right through to mastering.
You’d released the song ‘Dead Do Tell’ as a special Halloween track in 2015, and it now appears on the album. Was it intended that the song would be a preview of what Orogenesis has to offer?
Worbeck: It was. At the time, we were planning on releasing the songs as a series of four EPs. It’s worth noting that the Halloween 2015 version of the song is not the same (or as good!) as the Orogenesis mix.
Appearing on the album are Richard Patrick from Filter and Bruce Lamont from Yakuza. What can you tell us about their involvement and how they came to be part of the album?
: We wanted to collaborate with quite a few musicians on this record. Timing was key, and Richard and Bruce were the two whose schedules lined up with ours. I’ve been a fan of Bruce’s work for years and knew he could add something special to this record and he came back with an awesome batch of recordings for us to work with. They became a huge part of the opening track. I love what he did with the track and am so excited he was able to be a part of this record. He completely nailed the dystopian vibe we were going for.
Working with Richard was incredible as well, but different because without Filter, there would be no Stayte. Filter – along with MINISTRY, Faith No More, and Jane’s Addiction – were so influential to us that working with such an icon on Stayte material was surreal. We didn’t have a lot of time to track with Richard, but it turned out better than planned. He ended up contributing vocals to two songs – ‘So Quick to Turn’ and ‘Reservation.’
Also in the interim, you’d become part of the core creative team behind the last two RevCo albums – Sex-O Olympic-O and ¿Got Cock?. In what ways did working in RevCo affect your outlook on Stayte? What were the greatest lessons you learned in being part of a band with such a legacy, and what do you feel you took from it into the new Stayte material?
: We were offered the opening slot on the 2006 MINISTRY/Revolting Cocks tour, but our band and management couldn’t make it work. This was a big deal at the time because it made us really question the future of Stayte. The band needed to take that next step and being unable to follow through on such a golden opportunity was frustrating to say the least.
A month or so later, Josh and I were offered roles in RevCo. We experienced so much during those two records and the tours – unbelievable highs and devastating lows. But after all was said and done, it only reinforced the idea that this new Stayte material needed to be released.
The year prior to the album’s release, you put out the Dear God! spoken word album, which was rather hilarious in its bait-and-switch of seemingly tackling sociopolitical issues of the day, only to descend into absurdity. While a spoken word album is not unusual in itself, it’s not the most common thing for an industrial or alt. rock band to tackle, so what motivated its creation in the first place?
Are there plans to produce another of its kind, perhaps as a series? I’m sure that in some ways, you welcome the adverse and confused reactions some may have to its flippancy, but is there ever a concern that such misunderstanding would be taken the wrong way?
Worbeck: We did it for laughs. We’ve always had elements of humor in the live show and perhaps not playing live for a few years contributed to this hasty move into comedic recording. And it’s more than possible for us to do something like this again.
As mentioned, you’ve also done score composition for Dead Within and Island Zero. How did you come to be involved in those productions? What would you say is the most prevalent difference in your approach toward writing music and production for a movie vs. for Stayte?
What are the similarities?
: Dead Within
was a project Josh was working on in 2011-2012. I was brought in near completion to help mix the score and add a few extra cues. Since then, I’ve done several feature film scores and love working in the film industry.
I find scoring to be so different than writing a Stayte album. With the albums, I’m a creative director and can essentially do whatever I want. There are themes and concepts that weave through the records, but nothing on the level of a screenplay. With a film score, I’m supporting someone else’s creative vision, and it’s thrilling to be an integral part of making sure the emotion of that vision comes across as best as possible.
The soundscape element is similar to what I do in some Stayte songs, but with a film, I can go incredibly deep into sound design and completely disregard traditional pop/rock song structure. One thing that’s similar is evoking feeling and/or drama. Incidentally, there are some Stayte placements in a drama feature I recently scored – it’s called Madhouse Mecca
and is out now on iTunes and all the other digital platforms.
It’s been quite some time since Stayte toured, and while touring is an expensive and difficult venture (as you’ve effectively shown in your Walking in the Land of Wind and Ghost DVD), what do you feel you’ve accomplished as a live unit that would most benefit a Stayte tour today? Are there plans to take Stayte on the road again?
Worbeck: I would love to do another tour with Stayte; the last few shows we played were a blast. Quite a few things would have to happen before we’d be able to tour again (financials being a big one), but I know we’d return to the stage if/when it’s possible.
The first track on the album, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ features Bruce Lamont’s saxophone refrain that repeats throughout the song; gives it a very bluesy, mournful quality that contrasts quite well with the epic sound. That’s something new for Stayte and isn’t all that common in industrial/rock… well, I say that, but there has been a greater propensity toward it in recent years – Nine Inch Nails famously used a sax quite a bit on Bad Witch, while Scandroid used one on his “New York City Nights” single. As ‘industrial’ music and a lot of underground styles were founded on new sounds and instrumentation, what are your thoughts on the incorporation of different instruments in modern industrial and alternative music these days?
: I remember seeing NIN open for David Bowie in the ’90s and Trent played a sax live during the set. It was really cool and definitely stood out, but it seemed like more of gimmick than a key part of the music. Now, it seems like there is much more focus on instrumentation, not to mention the creation of new instruments and sound devices. I think this is long overdue and will only lead to good things.
‘Bitter Spider’ seems to take a few jabs at the tendency toward commercial mindsets in the industry, which even today still seems to be a prevalent attitude in the big money machine. Stayte’s been struggling against that machine since the beginning, and the song gives me a good chuckle, but at what point do you as artists become jaded to it?
Worbeck: You have to chuckle. It’s a cheeky song, and kind of catchy. It’s hard not to become jaded at times, but to focus on that negativity and let it get to you is bad news. A better idea would be to focus on creating the kind of music you want instead of chasing the latest trend.
What’s next for Stayte?
Worbeck: Good question. We’ll have to wait and see!
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Band photography by Andrea Warner, courtesy of GoLucky Photography
Live photography by 3QuarterMoon