AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED’S J. RANDALL “VAPORIZES THE MUSIC INDUSTRY”
Nowadays, fucking everyone is on Twitter — the President, Snooki, Napalm Death, Lady Gaga, and pretty much every famous/infamous/inconsequential figure imaginable is out there constantly micro-blogging away. One entity I never expected to stumble across on there was Agoraphobic Nosebleed vocalist/lyricist/mindfucker J. Randall, but lo and behold — he is indeed a tweeter. An offhand remark about his desire to do a few interviews about recent happenings in Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s world caught my eye, and I couldn’t help it: I took the bait.
Thanks for being down to do an interview, dude! I’m glad I caught that particular tweet. Your Twitter account is a constant source of hilarity, hostility, and opinions, and you’re clearly unafraid to say exactly what you’re thinking. How did you get hooked on Twitter? Who are your favorite users to talk to and berate?
Relapse sort of nudged us to start personally updating all these different kinds of social platforms, and for me, Twitter was the most doable of the lot — short and fast, just like old ANB. When I started, it was sort of an experiment in social suicide, but now I just soap box the piss out of everything on there. I think like only 1% of the people who use Twitter use it to it’s full potential. My favorite Twat Swappers are probably Vice Magazine, Low Card Skate Mag, Gary Busey, and Hubba Wheels for their “Good Morning Wood!” posts.
How has social networking changed the band-fan relationship?
It’s more like anti-social networking — bands seem guarded about sharing up anything accept product and event-related shit. There is nothing personal getting aired out, and bands these days and are short on expressing their opinions about anything, It’s just new avenues for promotion for them. I really don’t go on the internet to “socialize,” but I do share my thoughts on shit and appreciate the feedback I get. You would sort of figure this would be a way for bands to express themselves, get their message across etc. It used to be that at least some bands would form around a idea but these days it’s all big riff, little thought. If people like Kurt Brecht of DRI, Ray Cappo of Youth of Today, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, etc., had these kind of options to self-publish back in their salad days, I think they would have been going the fuck off with it!
Yeah, I was sort of schooled on the whole “deathcore” thing a few weeks ago by some people and it seems pretty corny. If the kids are into it, whatever, I guess. I don’t get the “frat dude” reference unless frat dudes are rocking Zac Efron haircuts and skinny jeans these days. When I was a teenager, the only scene I was really into/ hows I ever went to where hardcore shows, and at the time, we used to relentlessly shit on and dis bands that had those same chud, chud, chud mosh parts that these bands seem to be writing around. I miss when hardcore bands sounded like hardcore bands and not like shitty over-produced metal bands. At least somebody came up with a shitty name for it.
You’ve also been talking about the decline of the music industry, and have mentioned how you empathize with the record labels, as well as being clearly on top of your shit when it comes to digital distribution issues, copyrights, and the business at large. Do you see any hope for the music business? In five years, will CDs be gone and labels defunct, or will some new entity have risen to sell music, rip off bands, and promote records?
CDs are very quickly becoming a novelty item, like vinyl and record labels — [they] eventually are all going to go the way of the wooly mammoth and become extinct. Some of the bigger labels I could see possibly becoming A&R firms for band /artists in the future, but for the time being, I think bands need to be very careful of labels offering to post their music on iTunes. A label has no manufacturing costs with digital distribution and isn’t creating or distributing a product for you, so why should they get any piece of that action when you can publish your own shit on iTunes for next to nothing? You don’t want, down the road, to have some has been person/label disappear from your life and just be collecting royalties from iTunes on your work.
I do empathize with the labels to a point, because a lot of them do work very, very hard, but a lot of what’s happening has less to do with piracy and more to do with their failure to adapt and unwillingness to change. Their are a lot of 30 to 40+ year old record collector snobs running these larger labels, with outdated tastes in music, trying to sell music that other 30 to 40+ year olds might have liked or bought back in the day, before they had kids and a mortgage they’re struggling to pay.
They are putting metal before making money and are completely ignoring the biggest demographic for music sales: kids and early 20 somethings. If your trying to run a serious business that has any sort of hope of succeeding, you can’t afford to not pay attention to what they are listening to or worrying about being a sell out.
When did metal become “safe?” Do you personally feel there are any bands out there still pushing the envelope and putting their money where their mouths are?
Metal has always been a sheep in wolves clothing. You can write songs about depraved shit and put as many skulls, gutted women, etc. on your record sleeve as you want, but metal is just theater. When I had made the comment about metal being “safe,” I was talking about how, out of [all] music trends, metal has had the least negative social impact. It’s not like hip-hop — it has no hardcore, widespread negative influence on popular culture — it’s not really music people party to, it never really has attracted massive drug use, women, tragedy. Financial woes of failed musicians aside, The Doors, The Beatles, The Dead, Pink Floyed and Phish have each ruined more peoples’ lives than every facet of metal combined.
“Expecting women not to fuck around is like asking them not to eat or shit anymore; you will never be everything to a women — get over it!” might be my favorite of your tweets (as a lady who thoroughly agrees with your assessment!). The lyrics in ANB could be construed as being heavily misogynistic, but you personally seem to be quite the opposite, and one of the members, Kat Katz, is, in fact, female. I think the inclusion of a female voice makes the bizarre offensiveness of the words even more powerful, and provides a nice little mindfuck for people with notions of what women “should” be like. Is there a feminist message lurking beneath ANB’s surface?
It’s always been insecure men, not women, that have slammed me a misogynist. They think women are something they need to champion, protect and modify their behavior for in order to score/keep. It’s funny, because a lot of these same idiots are the jealous, controlling ones who really resent/hate and don’t trust women. Most of these guys can’t even handle the idea of their girl masturbating or thinking about other men, never mind being cool with them fucking other people. All the women I know are into men being men and are big on honesty. Women don’t trust “nice” guys for good reason — when they can’t keep up the nice guy act they turn mute and get all hurt about them talking to other people. I like me a bad bitch and I’m cool with a women in a relationship talking to and fuckin’ whoever they want. I’m really into women being women and just doing their thing and if I love somebody, I love them for the right reasons. I love them for who they are.
That said — I can’t stand all this phony psycho bitchkiller shit that’s out there. If you come across something in our lyrics that seems to lean that way, it’s just me making satire of the emo-tormented, hurt pussy vocals these bands just love to indulge. I mean, describing a break-up with a girl like it’s the fuckin’ apocalypse… “You were my heaven ablaze… blah, blah, blah, bullshit, bullshit, waste of time, bullshit”… is weak. These same broken-hearted bands write about MURDERING women all the time and never get called out as a misogynist because it’s written all faggy and shit, but because I’m a white dude and use the word “bitch” — it’s over.
Agorapocalypse was shockingly listenable, in that you guys came up with recognizable songs with structure, as opposed to your trademark schizogrindmindfuck approach of the past releases. What brought about this change? Should we expect to see a kinder, gentler, slower AnB from now on, or was this record merely a deviation from deviance?
I wasn’t really that involved with Agorapocalypse, aside from the lyrics and pre and post production of the record. I know when we did the record, the whole retro-thrash thing was happening, and we wanted to explore what a post-thrash sound could be. On the Apartment 213 split, we went for a post-power violence sound.
I don’t think anybody should expect anything from us, we do what ever the fuck we want. I know Scott [Hull], as a producer, loves to single-handedly put other bands to shame and just slam the fuckin’ door closed on whole genres of shit. Though I’m not always on the same page with everything he wants to do, I love that attitude, and it’s a total honor to be working with him still.
The lyrics on this record (as well as the other ones, really) are pretty ridiculously fucked up. There is a lot of violent, pornographic imagery, which begs the question: What kind of porn are you into? What are your favorite sites to patronize for inspiration?
I ain’t into porn –I like to fuck, and if I want to jerk off, I’ll do it with or on a woman. My computer and I don’t have that kind of relationship.
After all these years, why does ANB still use a drum machine instead of a human drummer?
Drummers are a fuckin’ pain in the ass, you got to “rehearse” with them, set up all that shit… fuck that. Plus, all the decent drummers are in, like, six bands. I ain’t even trying to give the illusion that this is a “band” — the process for us is more akin to how hip-hop is produced, and I like it that way.
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this one, but I’ve gotta ask –- are ANB going to play live anytime soon? If so, when? If not, why the hell not?
I personally am not a “performance” artist, I can not just manifest staged rage and act all aggro just because it’s go time — I’m not that theatrical or dramatic of a person. If the rest of them for some reason need the ego boost, they can go ahead [and perform live]. I don’t really care.
What are you working on right now? I know you’ve got a Despise You/ANB split happening, splits with Agents of Satan, with Lack of Interest, with Thrones…what else is in the pipeline, with ANB and on your own?
Well, I’ve been doing a lot of video stuff of late, editing skate videos, etc. I’m not really into “music videos,” but I do this blog for Bastard Noise called “Annex One” that has tons of video content I created for it, and is something I’d like to start doing for ANB’s new website. I also just recently did a fifteen minute long analog noise piece for the new Noisear record that’s coming out on Relapse. My buddy Pete Benumb did some spoken word stuff over part of it, sounds pretty rad.
Probably the soonest new release you’ll see from ANB is our split 5″ with ANS on Tankcrimes. Both bands cover songs by Boston Skatecore legends Gang Green — below is a promo I did for Tankcrimes for the release. It’s a remix of a video that Ryan Sinz of Dios Mio cut to our cover of “Alcohol.” The footage is of ANS and Cross Examination doing a trans-tour van beer bong at like 90 mph! It brings drinking and driving to a whole new level — just watch the video!
Sadly, we started working on this record prior to Agorapocalyse, it just took us forever to get back on track to finish it. Our side of the record is sort of all over the map, and the finished songs sound so different now from what I originally tracked over. The version I’ve been listening to for months is raw and pissed, sounding sort of like that Slayer album Undisputed Attitude, where they do all those old punk and hardcore songs. In the finished version some of that still comes through, but it’s more produced and built up like our material on Agorapocalypse — with Kat and Rich’s vocals added, layered in spots, mad guitar solos — it sounds pretty nuts! Massive! Scott is extremely, extremely happy with how it came out.
The Despise You material on the split is probably some of the most important hardcore that’s been written/recorded in the last ten years. I have listened to their half of the record everyday since I first got the material from them a couple months ago and it just owns — it fuckin’ owns!
The photo is from Joe Rodriguez’s Gang Life In East LA. It’s a photo that was taken seconds after a drive-by shooting in Boyle Heights circa 1993. Chris Elder and I wanted this to be in every way a urban hardcore record, the ANB material unfortunately steered away from sounding the part but our lyrics definitely are still on point.
What’s up with this 4-way simultaneous album release you guys are doing for “the next AnB album?” Is it a KISS-style solo album bonanza, or just a cool way to tie in upcoming releases from the three members? What will your joint with Hull be like?
We kind of want ANB to sound like twelve different bands. People hate that shit, but whatever. Scott and I wanted to do a classic sounding Cali punk-hardcore record sort of in the style of Bl’ast and Black Flag, but that really ain’t Rich and Kat’s bag. Rich is a total 80’s Hesher and Kat’s all gloom & doom. Scott had the idea on each of us working with him on our own record. I was all about it, because I really do miss working just with him on shit and I haven’t really been able to since Honkey Reduction. I’m pretty sure Rich could use a break from dealing with me also — he and I don’t really see eye to eye on much, we are about as different as two people could be.
Any parting words or apocalyptic messages you’d like to share?
“If the shoe fits slam it up someone’s ass,” hahaha… no, I think I’ve said plenty. The trolls I’m sure are going to have a fuckin’ field day with this.
Kim Kelly (or Grim Kim, if we’re being formal) scribbles for a number of sweet metal publications (Terrorizer, Brooklyn Vegan, Invisible Oranges, Hails & Horns, and tons more), promotes wicked records with Catharsis PR, and road dogs for your favorite bands. Keep up with her exploits & numerous band recommendations on Twitter, or peep her blogRavishing Grimness.