As the world of politics and the corporate media seem to be in such disarray, it has been hard to understand why not more artists are rising from the madness and standing against the system while empowering the listeners to wake up. After searching everywhere for a band willing to bring back this old "punk" attitude, I stumbled upon a Canadian based project mixed with members of The Black Halos and Frontline Assembly named Left Spine Down. With their unique blend of straight ahead old school abrasive punk mentality and adding an extra "oomph" to the punch with a wide variety of different programming. With their first full length album 'Fighting for Voltage' just hitting the American market this Sept and a tour in the works I wanted to peer behind the curtain and give to you in their own words where they came from, where they are going, and how they fit into the current state of events. So I give to you with great honor Left Spine Down:
DeathWish: It would seem you have the perfect blend of leading members from a punk and industrial background, which I am sure was easier said than done, how did it come together so well?
kAINE: It all happened by fluke. When I met Jeremy we were both local DJs at an all ages night in Vancouver; I had done a couple of remixes for local artists (Landscape Body Machine and Urceus Exit, respectively) and Jeremy expressed he wanted to work with us to some extent. At the time LSD was just an experiment; Matt and I had a demo done with Jeremy and had wanted to release a 4 song EP. A year or so after that Jeremy worked his way into being a third member, Jared had jumped into the ring and we got a few songs going. By this point we already had the interest of Chris Peterson, who, naturally, was sharing the LSD demos with a few of his mates,(Bill) Leeb being one of them. While Fighting for Voltage was being realized a Noise Unit album cropped up followed with a couple FLA albums and tours... all with our boys being involved. Tim's been an outsider looking in for a while... for what exactly I'll never really know... maybe it was for the right moment, or the right songs, to hit him. Whatever it was, it did, and it felt right to have him join when he did (2006). Denyss came almost simultaneously with Tim. They even ended up living together. Their like the "rhythm section package deal". Denyss just showed up to the party one day and never left. We put a bass round his neck and we found out he's pretty good at the guitar too.
Jeremy: Well, the line up has changed a lot since the bands incarnation, but we sort of just ended up this way. I think the band was more of an industrial outfit when it first began, and has become more of a punk/electronic band, as a pure result of rejecting a lot of the BS standards of what is expected and accepted as "proper industrial ebm,type music, ect" and trying to stay away from being just like everyone else. For a while it was just 4 of us, no drummer, just 2 guitar players, my keys and beats, and kAINE on vocals. Even by that point we were writing more "punk style" songs and breaking away from the usual. We opened for local punk bands like DOA and the Black Halos,as well as industrial groups like CombiChrist.Then once Tim and Denyss joined, it became much more of an explosive live show and even more organic, without losing the electronics. I'd say the only hard thing about it was how long it took to get it to this point. With a sense of focus and understanding as to what our sound is, rather then discovering it, which is what is going on in "Fighting For Voltage". It was written over the course of 5 years, mostly in the last 3. The first 2 years we played allot of shows, and were just fucking around with gear, and learning.
DeathWish: having members from Frontline Assembly and The Black Halos, how has this affiliation influenced you in the writing of 'Fighting for Voltage'?
Jeremy: FLA was always a big influence on me as a teenager, and definitely one of the reasons I began making electronic music, so I'm sure it influenced Voltage in many ways, even though voltage sounds nothing like an FLA record. It was a real treat to begin working with Chris Peterson on this record, and ending up in FLA was the last thing I expected to happen. As for the Halos angle, that was more recent. So you will hear more of Denyss on the next record, although we did get him to record a few tracks for songs we had already written when finishing up Voltage. I'm really glad he got in on that, hes a really talented guy and the ideas hes already bringing to the table are really where I want to go with all of this. His efforts on The Black Halos "Alive Without Control" and recent "We Are Not Alone" were very credible. He's a good song writer, and a great live player.
DeathWish: After listening to 'Fighting for Voltage' it would seem you are first band categorized as "cyber-punk" to truly get the right feel for what punk was. Personally I always felt it was more about the attitude and message rather than an actual style. What does the word punk mean to you and what bands come to mind when you look back on it?
kAINE: Punk can be either perceived as a dated, time-specific genre that had its place in history or it can be an ever evolving genre, based on the philosophy it carries on and the immediate surroundings that influence the subjects in question. I like to believe in the latter, seeing a lot of aggressive bands in our digital age that have the same philosophy lately. I liked "iPunk" a little better, it seemed more fitting in a 21st century overload kinda way. I mean, we almost live that kind of reality, don't we? Dubstep parties, designer drugs, digital jobs and finances... Gibson wasn't too far off. Cyberpunk? Tomato, To MA to.
Jeremy: Oh man, thats a big question., ok. Well, i used to spend most of my teen years going to punk shows. I felt i learned a lot about life and being aware of whats going on around me through the punk and alternative scene, much more than school ever had. I was always a huge fan of punk and hardcore music like NOFX, Bad Brains , Sick Of It All, AFI (old AFI in particular),Dead Kennedy's, SNFU, Propaghandi, The Offspring, Integrity, The Vandals,Assorted Jellybeans, Guttermouth, Sex Pistols, DOA, Strife, Pennywise, His Hero Is Gone, The Exploited, Rancid, The Misfits, Black Flag, D.B.S., Bad Religion, and honestly, i could name a thousand more that i liked.
Denyss: That's pretty much it right there. It is an attitude and approach more than a style as far as I'm concerned. I tend to think that when electronic artists try to tackle the punk thing, their sense of "enough is enough" generally goes out the window. What has always attracted me to punk rock was the rawness and vibe, and a lot of groups seem to kind of miss the point. When something is right, it's just right you know? Anyone can play three chords, but what matters to me is when it's played in a way that's real and genuine. I'll always love the New York movement, but my biggest influences have always been the UK stuff like The Damned, The Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Fingers etc. I owe a lot of my playing to more raunchy and filthy gutsy guitarists like Greg Ginn(Black Flag) and Johnny Thunders(New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers), so they and their respective bands also make it into that list.
DeathWish: I am interested to know what are your feelings on the current so called "punk movement"?
kAINE: I don't know. What is Punk anymore? That's probably the toughest question I've had. I suppose it has mutated to every corner of the world, now hasn't it? When you have bubblegum pinups calling themselves punk and the Sex Pistols still touring with the same songs they wrote 30 years ago, maybe "No future" wasn't too far off. But while that being said about both extremes, who's to say what it is now? I on one hand believe that a whole lot of bands out there calling themselves "punk" and writing candy-coated pop songs have no place doing so, but hey, I'm just a guy in a band writing fast aggressive songs that may or may not be "punk" enough for even the most devout hardcore "punk" fans out there, so what do I know? I know what I like, and I hope the audience likes it too.
Denyss: There are still a good chunk of bands out there that I really dig, but as far as what's being passed off as "punk" these days, it's pretty discouraging. I'm glad that bands like Sick Of it All and The Bouncing Souls are still managing to pull kids in and I've thought Leftover Crack was rad since the first time I heard them, but to these new bands? Your compressed guitar tones sound like crap. And sing through your mouth not your nasal cavity you whiny little bitch.
DeathWish: I had read in a previous interview about how the acronym for the band "LSD" ended up becoming such on accident, yet some members of the band have a love for the words of Timothy Leary, what other free thinking idealists would you say have influenced you in your music and how?
kAINE: The LSD thing was an accident. We had a blind dart throwing contest over the name and found out the abbreviation later (at the hospital). As far as the influences are concerned, Andy Worhol's world view resembles the colors I see every morning (ever since that dart incident); William S Burroughs' Cut-Up technique seems to apply naturally to our music; Denis Leary, the other Leary, unrelated, but I like his style; Max Headroom for being the original Talking Head; and Ignignokt, the Moonenite character that scared the hell outta Boston in 2007. With a few batteries and a middle finger. Now that's Fighting for Voltage.
Jeremy: I'd say William S Burroughs has been a big influence, as well as Johnny Rotten, Genesis P Oridge, David Lynch, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop to name a few.
DeathWish: I know that the very respected Chris Peterson has worked both on your debut EP 'SmartBomb" and 'Fighting for Voltage', and while I realize he is no stranger to you having worked on Frontline Assembly and Noise Unit, how was the approach and attitude different with the creation of LSD's material?
KAINE: I think while Chris had been producing all kinds of records from dark post-punk no-wave (WILL) to heavy industrial, dabbling into the electro (FLA, Skinny Puppy, Download) to singing monks and female vocalists (Delerium) to the sonic apocalypse that is Decree, it was still both an exciting and refreshing challenge to make this record with him. By all means, we had him in mind when writing the new material, so much that upon befriending him we always naturally passed our demos along to him for an opinion. One day it just kinda clicked; Reset and Hang Up began the flow of songs that came out of the studio. We had an amazing time seeing this come together, while the songs came naturally the work became this challenge to contain such powerful mixes into a single, two-track, audible medium. Lots of time and sweat were put into this record, and without ALL of those involved, Fighting for Voltage wouldn't be the record it is. And I'm quite astonished by it, personally.
Jeremy: Well, we wanted to do something different. While that is easy to say, its not so easy to do all the time. I had to do allot of learning when it came to making this album, and Chris really pushed us to go over the edge with our sound and not feel confine to "what is expected of an industrial album" and the stigma of being related to an industrial band like FLA. The problem is everyone expects it to sound like FLA a lot when it comes from this camp. Or the same production even. We wanted this to have the feel of a Stooges record, or an old Pistols record, but electronic, and fast. Chris was listening to a lot of DnB music at his place all the time, and we would pre drink at his place a lot before going out to a party or club, and we all seemed to agree that DnB was the shit. So naturally, we ended up just taking a lot of the elements of that music that we could, and mix it with the punky.alternative rock elements that the band liked. The first songs to come out the way we wanted were 3 years ago when we did Re Set and Hang up. Those were the first 2 real Chris Peterson LSD tracks that really made us feel like we were doing something fun and different. Once you have a blueprint, then you can finish it off, its only a matter of time.
DeathWish: Sticking to the production level topic, 'Fighting for Voltage' was mastered by Shaun Thingvold who has worked with everyone from Skinny Puppy to Lamb of God, how did that union come to be and how has it changed your own prospective on your material and its' direction?
kAINE: Shaun was the final stage of it all. When we had the songs written, played live, recorded, over and over again, mixed, and ready to go, there finally comes a mastering session. Chris one day was playing back some Decree material that literally blew me the fuck away. Like Marty McFly and the oversized guitar amp in Back to the Future, it was JUST LIKE THAT. A creepy guitar riff flows thru his PA and as I walk into the room... BAM! I knew it wasn't just the booze. This was dynamic I would KILL for. So I threatened to kill the next person I saw if we didn't at least pass our album to Shaun to hear, and luckily, he liked it enough to master it. I think we may work with Shaun again. I like his ears.
DeathWish: Now back to more of the personal reasoning behind the music. It would seem the general status of world politics is in utter chaos, what issues personally inspire you in your writing?
kAINE: The utter chaos of it all. It'll get worse too, watch. What inspires me is all over the place. It's on the internet, it's on TV, it's in everything I experience from the job I go to every day to the neighborhood that I live in to Quentin Tarantino to the money I don't have to the crap that public media channels feed us day in and day out. It's all cleverly organized chaos, and with the world getting bigger the chaos only grows with it.
Jeremy: The bombing of Iraq was my main inspiration for writing the lyrics and music to the song "You Can't Stop the Bomb". The sense of helplessness ive felt when it comes to misinformation from the media, the government, or religions being forced down my throat was a big inspiration to the lyrics and music for "Flip the Switch".
DeathWish: We were speaking about Punk earlier, and recently I heard comments by legendary punker Jello Biafra who stated that he was shocked at how people seem to be asleep these days with everything going on, what are your personal thoughts on the publics' reactions to what is going on these days?
Jeremy: Obviously Jello is right. There isn't enough going on to react to the sudden takeover of our health, personal lives, freedom to speak, and right to education. I look at footage from the 60's and wish it could be like that. Let the fucking tear gas fly, it's time to make change, otherwise it will be the death of us all. There is no reason or excuse to allow half the fucking things we allow to happen, happen anymore. Bottled water anyone?
Denyss: The media is a powerful control mechanism. When you assault the public with irrelevent issues about their health, sexual performance and social status it's relatively easy to coerce them to ignore what's going on in their environment. I wouldn't say asleep so much as I would distracted. It's not like information isn't readily available. It's just not prioritized.
DeathWish: Most importantly what impact on society or at least with your own fans would you like to leave with your music?
kAINE: That people still can make good music to rock out to amongst the chaos of it all. Not really to make sense of it, but just to embrace it, celebrate it, and hopefully come to understand it, finding the answers along the way.
Denyss: Get out and do something with your life. Have fun. Enjoy your time. Use it well.
Don't sit and become a product of your situation or environment. Have the audacity to do it all for yourself.
DeathWish: Now some of the people on VampireFreaks' might not be old enough to remember what an original Punk show used to be like, what artists from that era have you seen live and what influenced you about seeing them live? Do you incorporate that feeling into your own live shows?
Jeremy: Well, I already listed a ton of bands in the above, so I'll stick with that.
Denyss: I'm still a bit of a spring chicken myself, but I'll do my best. Two of my first ever punk rock shows were NoMeansNo and DOA. I had never seen a band or an audience for that matter with that much energy and lack of inhibition as I had NoMeansNo and I've never forgotten what it was like to see that for the first time. I never even got to SEE DOA because the police shut it down after three songs. I saw the Black Halos for the first time when I was 17, and that's when I knew that punk rock was the most honest expression I had ever seen that I could relate to. Every time I step on that stage I try to play to myself when I was 17.
DeathWish: I know that Jeremy is also still working currently with Frontline Assembly on a new album, I am interested to know what direction is the new material going to take and when can we hope to hear it?
Jeremy: Next summer, along with a new tour. We are almost half way done, and its sounding great. Thats all i can or want to say right now. Keep up to date on www.mindphaser.com for all the news from the FLA camp.
DeathWish: I am greatly hoping to see a collaborative tour between LSD and FLA is that possibly going to happen?
kAINE: We played live with them once in Vancouver. While the show was well received, I think it was a bit tiring to play two aggressive sets in one night for some of our boys... I think it's a nice idea, but logistically it's a little more complex. But I never say never. Stranger things have happened.
Jeremy: We did a show once at the end of the USA tour and had LSD open, and it was great, but I'm highly doubtful that it would turn into a tour, but you never know. It's a lot to take on in one night.
Denyss: Only if we can convince Bill to give us a really cute goth girl to play keyboards instead of Jeremy for our set. We can't wear the poor guy out.
DeathWish: On the topic of live shows I have seen you have played with the likes of Combichrist and 16Volt, but you also played a show with The Genitorturers, how different of a world is that to play in?
kAINE: Gen was a fun and funky act to play with. We've always been involved in the fetish scene out here so it was kind of a natural thing to see her play with local girls onstage and rock out at the same time. I'd like to play more shows, or maybe even do a tour, that had more of a fetish angle. We know so many body suspension acts, bloody burlesque and the like that we can probably pull it off pretty well. We've done a couple of related events since as well and have loved it. The thing is, they're as dangerous as we are.
Denyss: We try to share the stage with as many different bands as possible. It's easy to get pigeonholed into a genre and audience as soon as you start typecasting yourself and that's exactly what we don't want to do. We want to be free to develop fans from every style and not just play with electronic acts. The past year we've been playing a lot with our friends and local punk veterans SNFU and it's been a really great experience getting to play for kids who prefer denim vests to PVC ones.
DeathWish: You are about to kick off a full scaled Canadian and US tour this fall, just in time for the new album to hit the American Market, will you be looking to get to Europe soon?
kAINE: We'll see what happens. If someone told me last year that I'd be touring all of the USA in 2008 I wouldn't have believed it. Mark, Denyss, BitRiot and Thunderdome: your magic is real, I believe in you
Denyss: We're in talks with different labels and agents as we speak, but so far nothing official has come to fruition. As soon as we get the invite, we're there dude.
DeathWish: I have seen live videos of LSD and saw that Kaine uses an actual megaphone when singing which I was quick to think was a punk statement itself, like a leader of a political rally. Was this the intended effect or am I just getting a little too crazy?
kAINE: The Megaphone thing was somewhat of an influence of that regard yes, however I owe it to Vancouver's DJ Pandemonium who loaned me his horn way back in the day to record with and that had influenced me to carry that on to the stage. I also thought of Emergency Broadcast Network in their days as a band; now they are more known under the guise of GNN (the Guerilla News Network) online.
Jeremy: We like the way it sounds and looks. 'Nuff said.
DeathWish: In closing as you are part of the industrial movement in so many ways, can we look forward to hearing your music remixed by other artists and who would you like to see remix it?
kAINE: I'd like to see a lot of artists remix our record, but artists who would most likely take our music to new and exciting places that we ourselves haven't gone or seen yet. It can be just about anyone really, but lately I've been seeing a lot of cool sounds out of our label Bit Riot, so it might be a shoe-in for a good lineup of artists to sink their teeth into our meat. There are also a lot of cool cats in the FLA camp so you never know what could crop up. Whatever it will be, you'll all see it pretty soon
Jeremy: Yes you will, and you will find out soon enough.
Denyss: We do have plans to have a little bit of fun on our next release. There will be remixes. People I'd love to remix our stuff? In no particular order, Jack Dangers(Meat Beat Manifesto), Mike Patton(Faith No More/Peeping Tom) and Liam Howlett(The Prodigy).
I would buy the band steak dinners. And lots and lots of tequila.