As York-based electro-punks Digicore prepare to release their second album ‘Without Freedom‘ under new label Armalyte Industries in February of 2011, we thought that it might be a good time to catch up with the band’s mastermind and vocalist Danny Carnage to talk about the band’s position on the city’s “scene”, their future and the themes that are most prominent on the new record.
“Come with us and make a difference”
S] As a band that have been a part of the York scene since 2005, how do you feel about your place within it now, in 2010?
DC] I feel like we may have neglected our hometown over the past 12 months. If you live in York right now we’re probably a bit like a strange uncle you don’t see much of any more but you seem to remember him being pretty whacky. We’ve done some great things in York in the past and hopefully we can get back to a place where we’re doing great things again. The wheels have already been set in motion on this but right now, only time will tell.
S] How have your goals changed and developed since you started out?
DC] When we started this band our goal was literally ‘to do something rocky with some electronic stuff’. That was it. A vague musical intention with no real ambition behind it apart from having fun playing the kind of music we loved. Now we’ve been going all this time we’ve started to realise that we can aim much higher. We want to push some musical boundaries and bring some extremely underground sounds to the masses. We’ve started to pick up some dangerous momentum so look forward to being absolutely flattened by the Digicore machine.
S] What does the style and genre “industrial punk” mean to you in terms of values, and do you think many music fans can identify with that?
DC] We’ve spent a long time playing gigs in the industrial scene – whether it be EBM, industrial rock or other related genres, and two things that stood out were the lack of innovation and the overwhelming elitism of the fans, along with some of the bands! To me, music should be about having fun and celebrating creativity rather than trying to one up each other with who’s wearing the best clothes or who can show the greatest disdain for life. It shouldn’t be about following a formula. What’s wrong with taking a few risks and pushing boundaries? A strong part of my personal ideology is that you should be able to accept the consequences of everything you do. If you take a risk and fail you learn from it and move on. If you succeed you reap the rewards. I don’t want to listen to a band who’s every song sounds identical to the others and to every other band in that genre just because they dare not try anything new. This is especially the case with bands who use computers in the writing of their music – with some of the software tools now available you’ve got the potential to make any sound imaginable but you settle for predictable tripe? So, that’s industrial punk – having the technology available to enact change and being willing to take the risks.
S] Tell us about the new album, ‘Without Freedom’ – is there a particular song on the record that defines the band right now, and why?
DC] If I had to pick one it’d have to be the title track. It’s got most of the musical elements that we’ve been experimenting with. It’s also got blistering aggression contrasting against quiet ambiance. The lyrical content is also a good measure of what we’re about at the moment.
S] Tell us about the cover – what’s the inspiration behind its design?
DC] I wanted a really striking yet simple design that we could use to promote the album that also looked cool at the same time. I also wanted it to tell you something about the band at a glance. I started with the idea of ‘industrial punk’ and came up with the concept of the punk with a gasmask. My brother is a graphic designer and after explaining the image I wanted and the concept behind the album, he suggested it could be on a brick wall and made to look like protest graffiti to fit in with the ideas expressed on the album.
S] How does it move away and progress from ‘Self Armageddon’ and more recently the ‘End Of Days’ EP?
DC] To start with the style of the songs has changed a lot. You can really hear the punk influences, especially our shout-along choruses. Another thing is I’ve put a lot more effort into the electronics. Although I’m not quite there yet I’d like for the electro elements to be able to stand up on their own and still be interesting to hear. Programming synths and samplers is definitely a skill and I’d like to think I’m getting better at it. I’ve also really worked hard on the overall production of the album. It’s really difficult to get a good mix of electronics and live instruments but hopefully I’ve nailed it this time.
S] You have commented on the album and its vision of a dystopian future, and you have also implied that it is cliché – can you talk us through why fans of modern industrial music should listen and identify with the themes on ‘Without Freedom’?
DC] The industrial rock bands I used to listen to usually wrote songs about personal issues. These often ended up being depressive and melancholy. There was nothing wrong with this and they produced some great records. The thing is I don’t want to mourn the down points of my life – I want to celebrate the high points while making sure those high points continue to occur. Although the setting of the album is slightly cliché and more than a little tongue-in-cheek, the messages in it definitely aren’t. You can apply most of what is said to your lives right now to help you to enact positive change. My world-view has kept me happy and at peace with everything for a long time now and I’m giving it to you, just to try. It may be dressed up like a cheesy sci-fi flick but it’s all there. Whining about your unfulfilling life gets you nowhere. Come with us and make a difference – first to yourself and then to others. If you can’t see the wisdom in all of this then maybe you should go back to writing poetry while weeping in a darkened room that opens with, ‘Dear diary. My life is a black abyss…’
S] As a band that often draws comparisons to mainstream industrial music like Atari Teenage Riot and Rammstein when reviewed – how do stop yourself from mimicking them in the writing process and keeping that raw and original edge?
DC] It’s become easier since I’ve started writing the punkier stuff and we’ve carved out a style that is very much ‘ours’. There will always be an element of copying – intentional or not, in anyone’s music but as long as you don’t set out to be a rip-off merchant I don’t think it’s too big a deal.
S] It seems like the only thing stopping the band from gaining more attention over the last few years, has been the lack of touring – are you going to be playing live more consistently in 2010/11?
DC] We have plans with Armalyte to do a UK tour to support the release of the album and we’re hoping to gig with much greater regularity than we have been doing. We’ve got our programmed lighting rig back in action and we’ve got one or two other tricks up our sleeve to really take our live show to the next level.
S] What is the band dynamic like at the moment – do you all share the same vision for Digicore’s future?
DC] I think I can safely say we’re all pushing in the same direction. We’re all extremely excited about the release of the album and we’re all working hard to get everything together for the release and following tour.
S] As a band that has released one album commercially (‘Self Armageddon’) and a free EP (‘End Of Days’), what have you learned this time around?
DC] ‘Self Armageddon‘ was a bit of a rush job, in the end so I guess I’ve learned to take my time more when producing the album. We’ve also learned that all releases and no gigs doesn’t really pay off! Life is one long lesson though so I’m sure I’ll learn things from releasing this album that I never realised before.
S] You seem to be fairly active on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, how useful has that been when spreading the word of the band?
DC] It’s a brilliant way to connect with fans – either passing on news or just having some kind of interaction to help spread our name. Don’t forget it’s a two-way street too – it’s a real confidence boost to see the number of fans you have steadily climbing!
S] What do you hope to achieve from out of your recent signing to UK alt-electro label Armalyte Industries?
DC] Besides the release of the album and upcoming tour, we’re hoping for a lot of extra exposure and an incentive to pull our fingers out of our arses and get on with it. The label has been extremely supportive so far and we’re confident that between us we’ll be able to achieve some really cool stuff.
S] As a band that have been at the centre of York’s alternative scene throughout your history, can you tell us about some standout bands for you in the north and Yorkshire at the moment?
DC] In York there’s Testtone3 who play a really cool mix of electronica and guitar rock and are well-worth checking out. Death By Electro Giants are from Newcastle and have a really interesting take on KMFDM-esque industrial rock. Last but by no means least there’s Flesh Eating Foundation [who are technically from the Midlands…] who do digital hardcore stuff and it’s awesome!
S] What’s the best piece of advice that you have received when it comes to your music?
DC] Simply to not give up.
S] People often say that apathy is a huge problem in the area when it comes to supporting bands and artists within the alternative bracket – how do you keep yourself motivated if this is the case in your opinion also?
DC] It’s not so much about keeping motivated as it is about motivating your fans to come out and see you. You just need to work harder at promoting yourselves locally. It can be hard when you feel like no-one cares about what you’re trying to do, especially when it’s clear to you that your music is the greatest since the dawn of time! But, if you force yourself to put some effort in the pay-off is worth it. Also, I’m in this for my enjoyment at the end of the day so if no-one else is interested it’s their problem, not mine.
S] Digicore also runs an events night in York called Synaptic Decay which features alternative and electronic artists – what’s the goal with this night and will it become a regular event?
DC] The idea behind Synaptic Decay is to put on nights featuring bands that are actually worth seeing – not necessarily mega-stars, just really good bands. At the moment I’m trying to stick to rock, metal and electronic crossover bands but may be branching out. I don’t do it to make money and all the profits are split between the bands that play. I just want to offer a genuinely decent night for bands and punters to have fun at.
S] If you could remove the soundtrack from a film, and place Digicore’s music in there, what film would you choose and why?
DC] It’d have to be one of those ‘cheesy’ sci-fi films. Maybe Johnny Mnemonic because although I accept and embrace the cheesiness of it, it fits the setting of the new album.
S] What’s the best thing about being a member of Digicore?
DC] I’m writing and releasing exactly the music I want to listen to and I’m getting recognition for doing it. What else could you ask for?
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