Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Crystal Castles Interview, mp3s, secret show!

crystal castles have a secret show this Friday in toronto , hope to see you there ,,,,,

Crystal Castles vs Bloc Party-Hunting for bitches
Crystal Castles vs The Whip-Divebomb
Crystal Castles vs Liars-It Fit When I Was a Kid

A conversation with Ethan from Crystal Castles

SvS: How would you describe Crystal Castles live show?

Ethan: A disgrace to music.

SvS: Why "Crystal Castles" as a band name?

Ethan: We were watching videos on youtube and came across a commercial for a toy version of She-Ra's castle. The ad included the lines "The fate of the world is safe in Crystal Castles" and "Crystal Castles, the source of all power." After hearing those lines I said, "We have our band name."

SvS: Are you a fan of She-Ra?

Ethan: We still haven't seen an episode. Yeah, we're named after She-ra and we haven't seen an episode of She-ra.

SvS: What factors most influenced your sound?

Ethan: When we started our goal was to create noise soundscapes over New Order beats. I like making noise with circuit bending. In the beginning we used a lot of 8-bit samples but we eventually learned how to create the sounds ourselves.

SvS: What kind of bands have influenced you as a band?

Ethan: The Stooges, Joy Division, New Order, Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground. There's a world of great noise-punk bands, 8-bit artists, weird vinyl.

SvS: Why did you change your name to "Ethan Catheter".

Ethan: I asked Alice to name me after the most uncomfortable thing imaginable. She looked at me as if it was obvious and said, "Ethan Catheter".

SvS: What kind of bands were you in before Crystal Castles?

Ethan: I was in many, many bands. I was the drummer in a hardcore band in high school. The vision and voice of the band belonged to my best friend, Pino Placentile. After years of playing in Toronto's punk scene we decided to drastically change our style and we started a folk band, influenced by Leonard Cohen and Neil Young.

SvS: That's a pretty drastic change.

Ethan: Yeah. That was the point. We both played acoustic guitars and wrote songs for years and just as we were about to record our first album he passed away. He died in his sleep of an aneurysm, brought on by medication he was taking for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I miss him so much, I still think about him every day.

SvS: That's really, really sad. I'm sorry to hear that.

Ethan: Let's change the subject.

SvS: What came next then?

Ethan: I then started a punk-metal band, I was trying to mix Stooges vocals with Iron Maiden guitars. I found great people to play with but by the time we had record deal offers, I decided I wanted to try something different.

SvS: The birth of Crystal Castles?

Ethan: Yes.

SvS: Did people think you were insane because you left your metal band on the eve of a major record deal.

Ethan: Yeah, maybe I was insane at the time.

SvS: So you leave the metal band and then what happened?

Ethan: I isolated myself from everyone for months. Working on this new idea for a band. People started thinking I had gone completely mental or I had died. Friends were writing me for months, "Are you dead?" and "Where are you?" Finally after months of these messages, I put a few Crystal Castles demos online and replied to everyone saying, "I'm not dead, this is what I'm doing now.." with a link to the Crystal Castles page.

SvS: ...And somehow a few labels found this page and offered you deals. That's what I've read anyway.

Ethan: Yeah, Alt Delete Records, a label from Nottingham discovered the page, I'm guessing through AIDS Wolf, one of my favourite bands. Alt Delete Records were trying to sign Klaxons Not Centaurs, Crystal Castles, and maybe even AIDS Wolf. I was interested in their offer because they had The Organ, a band I liked. Klaxons Not Centaurs changed their name to Klaxons and ended up putting out a 7 inch on Merok Records. Merok was owned by the roomate of the bass player in Klaxons. Klaxons then introduced Merok to Crystal Castles and Merok's next release was a recording of the microphone test that happened before we recorded our first 5 songs. I editted the 10 minute microphone test down to 2 or 3 minutes and it became our first single.

SvS: The 7 inch sold out instantly. I tried to buy it on eBay but it went for $300. I love the front cover image. Did you design it?

Ethan: No, an artist from Japan designed it. We used it without permission because we didn't have the artist's name and we thought no one would ever see it, we didn't think the single would sell. We thought it would fail and that Merok would be stuck with 500 copies of the record. The single did sell and the artist contacted us within 2 weeks of the single's release and asked for $300 for the use of the image on the record, shirts and promotional band material. Unfortunately for me, his paypal account was shut down because the art he was selling was illegal, apparantly something to do with naked children, I have no idea, so we had to make a money order for him, which we did. The only problem was that when I wrote him asking for his address so that I could mail him the money order, he ignored my messages. I've written him at least 10 times for his address. Who knows what's going on, I hope he's okay.

SvS: What was Alice doing before Crystal Castles?

Ethan: She was in a noise-punk band called Fetus Fatale. Her and 3 other girls.

SvS: She left Fetus Fatale for Crystal Castles?

Ethan: Not at first. She was playing with them up until Crystal Castles started touring. That's when she had to leave them. There was no time anymore. They're all mad at me now.

SvS: I would hate you too if stole Alice from my band.

Ethan: I wouldn't call it stealing. Alice decided to leave Fetus Fatale on her own. We both became obsessed with the songs we were putting together. Layers of circuit bent sounds or simple samples from other songs, cut up and rearranged

SvS: When are you putting out an album? How many songs?

Ethan: We are currently putting that together. We are aiming for 15 songs. It's taking a bit of time because a few of the songs have samples and we can't find some of the copyright owners. On one track I sample an obscure 1950s track and the artist has been deceased for a decade. We can't figure out who owns the copyright. Actually, there's a lot of tracks that will be left off the album because we can't find the copyright owners of the samples. She Fell Off will be left off because of this. Same with Insecticon. Which is a shame because I love those songs.

SvS: How many of the samples have you cleared so far?

Ethan: We've begun the process of clearing the Death From Above and Grand Master Flash samples.

SvS: I love what you've done with both those samples. The Grand Master Flash sample is mind-blowing. Is DJ Shadow an influence?

Ethan: Definately. Easily. Alec Empire too. Unkle. Daft Punk.

SvS: Your myspace has 500,000+ plays and all you've ever released is 1 limited 7 inch vinyl. How does that make you feel?

Ethan: We are both completely shocked that anyone is listening. We were not expecting any of this attention.

SvS: Do you hate the "Nu Rave" tag you get in the British press? It probably stems from being friends with Klaxons, who I think invented the term.

Ethan: It's obvious that there's nothing rave about Crystal Castles. The only thing rave about Klaxons is some their fans.

SvS: So do you consider yourselves an 8-bit band?

Ethan: The 8-bit scene is great. So many great artists in that scene...but I wouldn't call Crystal Castles an 8-bit band. Some songs do have 8-bit, but then some songs are based on circuit bending experiments, and then "Magic Spells" has no 8-bit or circuit bent sounds. It does have the Grand Master Flash sample 30 or 40 seconds in. Some songs have no electronics, there's an unreleased song called "Tell Me What To Swallow" which is just an acoustic guitar and 40 layers of Alice's voice.

SvS: Is it true you put a soundchip from an Atari 5200 into a keyboard?

Ethan: That's a misquote. I was asked about my current experiments and I said I was trying to "fit" an Atari chip into a keyboard. It was impossible. Those ancient Atari systems used a special chip. A Pokie chip. There's pins on the chips that fit into the Atari system and naturally don't fit into the slots of a synth. At the time of the interview, I was trying to build a bridge between the Pokie chip and the slots in my synth. They must have assumed I had later successfully built the bridge. I didn't.

SvS: That misquote has really caught on. Every article I read on Crystal Castles mentions the Atari keyboard.

Ethan: Yeah. I once said that I smushed a birthday cake into my keyboard to get my sound. Why hasn't that caught on?

SvS: Do you ever go along with the misquote, as a gag?

Ethan: Not as a gag. Sometimes I'll just agree with whatever an interviewer is saying because I'm exhausted and I want the interview to be over. They always set up interviews after I've been up all night making tracks or after flying overnight from a show. I'll say anything so that I can go back to sleep. I usually don't even remember giving them because I'm half asleep.

SvS: So what do you use?

Ethan: It changes constantly. Sidstation. Monomachine. circuit bending. Korg MS2000B. Software emulations of 8 bit sounds. Samples. Micorkorg.

SvS: What software are you producing on?

Ethan: AcidPro. Logic. ProTools.

SvS: What's Alice singing in "Good Times"?

Ethan: I didn't know that song leaked. It's not Alice. It's a sample from an obscure 80s band called Drinking Electricity. If we can clear the sample the song will be on the album. If not, we can't use it and it goes back in the vaults. How did you get that track?

SvS: It's on the internet. One of your labels probably leaked it.

Ethan: It's probably an early draft. Everything that gets leaked is unfinished.

SvS: To sum up.
Ethan Catheter threw a heavy metal record deal in the garbage.
Ethan Catheter stole the band name from She-ra.
Ethan Catheter stole Alice from the band Fetus Fatale.
Ethan Catheter stole the black eye image from a Japanese artist.
Ethan Catheter stole sounds from every source imaginable.
What do you have to say for yourself.

Ethan: Humanity should feel ashamed.

SvS: You're some kind of genius.

Ethan: Lying, cheating and stealing is rewarded? None of this makes sense.

SvS: I read somewhere that 10 bands form in every city you play in.

Ethan: I haven't read that.

SvS: Do you shun the press? Do you shun publicity?

Ethan: I don't shun the press or publicity. I did try to avoid interviews for awhile. My lips were sealed after I was misquoted a few times. I was completely turned off and didn't want to talk to the press again. It's amazing how some sentences are completely fabricated by the writer and then I'm quoted for saying them, probably to get a good headline. I've opened up again. Now I expect the misquotes so it's not disappointing at all.

SvS: How do you feel about the fact that your album is going to draw a clear line in the sand. It will be Biblical to half the people who hear it and others won't understand it and call it garbage.

Ethan: I would like to vomit now, thank you for the interview. I hope you misquote me.

I won't. Expect the Crystal Castles album fall 2007.