Earlier this summer was the debut album release of “Ultranoia” by Damage Control–a global industrial electronic act on par with Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy and Noise Unit. The release had me totally stoked, as I had been given the privilege to preview the album in its entirety prior to it being released, (which btw is absolutely fantastic and worth every penny, dollar or quid you will spend on it) and, thanks to my backdoor Aussie connection — Bill Barsby, granted a chance to ‘sit down’ with Jason and Damian for an intimate peek into the project.
Modem : So, let’s start out by telling me and our prospective readers a bit about the band and the project. I understand there is four of you: an Aussie (Damian Davis – Sydney), a Brit (Jason Podmore – Birmingham), a German (Markus App – Karlsruhe) and a Pome (Bill Barsby – orig. Birmingham/now Melbourne), which in itself sounds like the beginning of a crude bar joke. Although, joking aside, how did you all meet? Or maybe you haven’t physically met all members yet?
Jason : Ha! I wanna hear the punchline to that joke. I’m sure we’ll make a few up now. Well, Bill and I have known each other since our teens when he also lived in the U.K. We’d go out to clubs and gigs together. Travel the country on mad adventures in his Uno with huge Jamo speakers in the boot and lived in a “Young Ones” type house, too. We were always music obsessed and bonded by that. I’ve never met Markus, none of us have and although I have been to Australia to visit Bill, I haven’t met Damian either. Bill and Damian know each other well.
Damian : Good point about us all not meeting each other yet. In fact, aside from only meeting/knowing Bill personally, I have spoken with Markus several times during virtual-meetings on Skype, and Jason, whom I’ve not seen in the flesh nor spoken to. I feel through our music, that we are all long-lost half-brothers, and have an affinity just through this creative medium alone. It’s quite amazing how the age-old cliche of music being a universal language bears truth here!
Modem : What challenge did it proof to be not only in different countries, but on different continents? I know from my own online collaborations, that if nothing else, time zones alone can be a pain to coordinate. I am assuming that in a creative environment, it must be even more so, i.e. if band members are in the same studio together, creative juices may flow naturally. However if i.e. you have an idea, you have to wait for someone to respond, because it is 3 am on the other side of the globe. How did you all manage that?
Jason : I get what you mean, but it works for us. It’s like we have a 24 hour shift going on. Markus and I in one timezone, Bill and Damian in another . You know whilst you’re sleeping someone else is working and vice versa. It’s interesting. Also we don’t work by needing instant responses, it works that it can take extra time due to time zones. It’s extra time to analyze and strip things back and try varying ideas of the theme. Sometimes we are all about online at the same time and sometimes not. It’s just more interesting than all being under each others feet as say in a “local” band. We are global and very proud of that.
Damian : I’m fully behind what Jason says about “We are global and very proud of that.” This to me is the true definition of World-Music. LOL. Aside from our lack of Shakuhachi and Didgeridoo skills, we have an eclectic feel that almost crosses boundaries that are ill-defined. I myself, work in a time-zone that is completely alien to the world, let alone the band. Hehe. So, I guess it’s really the patience of the other guys to await what I have cooked up, that shows the true test of a good band.
Modem : What tools did you use to make this collaboration a success? By that I am not necessarily talking about the latest synths or software plugins used, as personally for me they all just keyboards, no matter how excited you boys get over it. LOL I am thinking more in line of Skype, Dropbox, etc. or perhaps something new you all came up with that could also be of help to there artists who face similar challenges. You do mention ‘cutting-edge’ in the album description after all.
Jason : Myself, Bill and Damian get very excited about Gear! So I will avoid that chat. We are obsessed with our machines and toys. Online is something Bill and I have worked with since it’s inception about 15 years ago. At the time things were pretty unreliable like Rocket Networks that was utilized by Cubase. Since all those years back we’ve used tools from Ohm Studio through to VST connect but lately the internet speeds in Australia hamper that. (laughs)
Damian : Well, I guess I have left it in the capable hands of the music-tech guru/s to deal with the latest music software and communication protocols to get us all to be on the same wavelength, so to speak. It has to be said that Bill’s diplomatic finesse has tied the project together and as a result, has held the ship’s course. We all have our differences, but it was Bill who found the similarities, and roped them all together in rum barrels, and sent us on this amazing voyage.
Modem : I’ve also read that the entire album was completed without any type of crowd funding. What financial strains did that generate, if any? Especially since the Industrial/Electronic music genre isn’t one that promises huge returns, unless you’re Depeche Mode … perhaps.
Jason : WTF? You mean we’re not gonna sell 500,000 copies in the first week??? We made a very interesting album with a real mix of styles, right down to Markus’s German vocals on tracks. So who know’s who we will appeal to? It’s exciting finding out. The love of music and music being our only real interests has always meant any disposable income goes on it . It’s a blood sweat and tears story, no silver spoons. We acknowledge the music industry as it is now and maybe we’ll start crowd funding or something like that in the future.
Damian : This financial pressure on me has only done me a massive kick-arse favour. I’ve stopped buying synths, and put my money where my mouth is. Literally! Straight into financing the music I make with the band. It’s a challenge enough with a Sydney mortgage, and a small family, but boy, it’s no fucking excuse to skive from this great opportunity! No regrets there! As Bill would say: “It’s a short time up here, it’s a long time underground.”
Modem : It also brings to mind the question, will there ever be a chance of seeing Damage Control live? Has that ever crossed your or any of your bandmates mind? Or will you continue as a studio-only project? What does the future hold for Damage Control?
Jason : Sure we’ve thought about it and we are kinda playing by proxy at Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) as Ohm will be performing one of our collaboration tracks “City of Ruins.” As for the future, there’s other projects, so we’ll see. Never say Never and take nothing for granted. We sure would love to join Chris and Craig at WGT, but it’s not possible this year. [Edit: Ohm did perform Damage Control’s track live in Leipzig, Germany, June 5th, 2017, which was very well received.]
Damian : It would be an amazing thrill to get up stage to perform this shit-hot material, but to actually MEET Markus and Jason, would truly be the defining moment (of this band) for me. I can’t wait. I would love to play in Europe and Canada. There is plenty of scope for me to continue this project, and any side-project ideas we may have (Spoiler alert!)
Modem : And lastly, about “Ultranoia” itself, which tune is your personal favorite and why? My favorite thus far: “City of Ruins” … I just love the beat, it’s kinda sexy and raw, and the vocals of Craig Huxtable (Ohm, Landscape Body Machine) totally do it for me. I guess I’m a sucker for growly males voices. LOL
Damian : “World in Decline” is my personal favourite from this album, I love the music, the bass-line, and it grooves along like a Mumbai cat with it’s tail on fire. I’m not sure if it’s allowed to be mentioned, but we have a few other tracks set aside that are pretty much completed, that I would love to see the light of day.
Jason : Hmmm… The album is a journey for us. “Hell’s Gate” makes that a favorite of mine. I know Bill and Markus are particularly proud of how we signed the album off with that too. So, I’d say that but I do really love “After the Fire” and “Ghost in the Attic” too. Damian’s lyrics and vocal melodies are exceptional on those. Then there’s Craig’s performances on “City of Ruins” and “Trauma.” See, it’s not easy! I haven’t listened to the album for a while, but I did today.
Modem : Any funnies that happened during production you wanna reveal? Come on, gimme the dirt … LOL.
Jason : Aha! Now we get to the part when you want me to dish the dirt and spill the beans. Like with any band there’s been ups and downs, disagreements and frustrations. Funny stories to look back on but I think we’ll keep it all in house. I think if you listen to the record, it’s all in there anyway. The journey, the chaos, the madness, the humour, the fight and energy.
Damian : Well, it wouldn’t be rock and roll if there weren’t no dirty washing. And I’ve had my fair share of being the prima-donna. But at the end of the day, we’re still together after 5 years, unlike a few other fab-fours I’d love to mention. It has to be said, that we all have some cultural differences that transcend stereotypes, yet we remain tolerant of our ‘quirks’, so let’s keep it at that then!
Dang …. and here I had hoped to get a heads up before Matt Fanale (Caustic) gets his hands on it for his “Industrial Gossip” on Facebook. Oh well… sighs. It still was a huge honor to be able to do this and I cannot thank you all enough for taking the time out your day! Especially Bill, who setup his bandmates to do this interview. Jason, Damian … and here ya thought he is a nice guy … LOL.
As for you all, I sincerely hope you check out “Ultranoia” as it is a real treat not only from a stylistic point, but the quality of the production is so well done, you completely forget that this is a debut album. No surprise really, since it has been mixed and mastered by industry veterans Chris Peterson and Greg Reely, whom have worked with Ohm, Decree, Will, Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit, Delirium, Skinny Puppy, Fear Factory; and with additional mixing (plus a remix) by Claus Larsen aka Leaether Strip.
So, don’t be fooled …. Damage Control are pros all the way around and we are sure you will be hearing more from this project in the future. Actually, since the original interview date, a little birdie has told me that the guys are prepping on their next EP, which will feature more exciting collaborations. Who? You just have to stay tuned …