Recently we were lucky enough to catch up with Canadian digital punks Left Spine Down. Two members of the explosive five-piece: kAINE D3l4y [vocals] and Denyss McKnight [guitar] talk us through everything from iPunk to their plans for a new record and the possibility of a trip over here in the future.
“Punk for the iPod generation, not digital hardcore but digital punk rock”
S] How did the original concept for the band form, obviously you amalgamate elements of your other bands into the sound, but how did LSD come to be?
KD: The band began making noise from Vancouver’s alternative club scene by about 2003. Matt, Jeremy and I were off and on with a drummer (Adrian White) and we began toying with the idea of mentor/drinking buddy Chris Peterson to make a record with us. Two more line-up changes and about 2300 gallons of Whisky later, ‘Fighting for Voltage’ is on (some) store shelves. Getting to that point was in fact a breeding time for us as a band, and while our sound did eventually mould itself into what it is now, a lot of the songs on the record were actually written long before all these incestuous liaisons with other groups. Ever since the band began we always wanted to make a loud and fast electronic punk rock record. Like Prodigy covering L7. But with more Feedback. Fuck yeah!
DM: I’m not sure there was anything really deliberate or planned out about how the sound started, developed or will continue to sound. We play what we think sounds good, and that’s pretty much all we ever pursue. I can’t recall any time in this band where I’ve heard anything like the expression ‘It’s not Left Spine Down enough’. This whole thing is basically a product of the individuals who have participated up to this point.
S] What are you most looking forward to about going to Europe and possible shows in the UK? – Are there any opportunities currently opening up (given your vast array of contacts) that you can tell us about?
KD: I’m stoked to come to Europe. I haven’t been there since I was a kid. As far as any possible detail, I’m only hearing whispers in the LSD/Synthetic camp about it. Nobody’s told me to buy a new suitcase yet!
DM: Well we haven’t been over yet, but we’re sure as hell looking forward to it. My times in Europe with other projects have given me a taste of what that part of the world is all about in reference to how bands are received and treated. It’s a lot different. Europeans, I am compelled to admit, love music that much more. There’s more passion and intensity. While our style of music is slowly developing a following over here, we feel we would be right at home in Europe and the UK. Things that are a little more forward thinking are generally more embraced there, whereas here, the current trends tend to reflect a much more “retro” taste. The North American prefers regurgitation whereas Europe seems to want a fresh meal.
S] What does cyberpunk mean to you guys now in 08? How do you believe it can change for the better?
KD: Cyberpunk/iPunk, to me, can be perceived as… clever disorganization of media manipulated by man made machines. In other words, A Media Fucking Machine.The more crap we get thrown our way, the more data we accumulate. You ever see these TV Carnage tapes before? This Canadian guy in a ski mask cuts up all sorts of TV and cleverly edits it to excite and titillate parts of your brain in ways you never thought possible by television. If you watch enough of it, you can actually feel high, or violated. It’s like freebasing TV. I’ll never be able to think of “Three’s Company” the same way ever again….. Now THAT’s Cyberpunk!
DM: I think now there is just a little bit of a different culture to draw from aesthetically, musically, media wise etc. It’s kind of sad that now, anything involving a crazy hairstyle and a keyboard is considered “cyberpunk”, so it’s weirdly enough, just as irritating as when the term “punk” first started to get thrown around a little too freely. I don’t think the ideals or ideas themselves have changed all that much. But it does seem to be getting a lot of attention these days…
S] All of the band are obviously skilled musicians, and you have a strong image that really works with the Cyberpunk/iPunk tag – who comes up with the art direction and do you guys have any other projects you would like to develop in the future?
KD: I think the art direction was always within the general spirit of the band. Casey O’Brien fleshes our ideas out and makes them bold. When we were making ‘Smartbomb’ in the studio, Jeremy and I had this giddy idea of the bathroom man blowing his brains out, using the “explosive” warning logo as the head. We added a tie and it became a conversation piece.
We’ve always been these media junkie gear freaks that always convene in suburban basements filled with miles of cable and electronic equipment. We’re now dabbling in the idea of Stage Props; our live setup now consists of four LCD screens and a projector, displaying TV cut-ups amongst our logo and other video sources. I actually own a set of 12 fully functional cathode ray television sets, most of which I like to display multiple sources of video footage upon at once.
I had just commissioned Luke Detheridge to help me build this insane prop out of a shitload of computer junk and household plumbing parts. We love little media gadgets and William S Burroughs. 76.5% of the samples you hear on Voltage are of my own cassette cut-ups. The other 23.5% comes from this all night session we had on December 23, 2023. We’re filming a music video we’d like to release in the near future. Although I think we’ll have fun.. perhaps a physical digital release or something. Also, Casey O’Brien is our visual meister when it comes to album art, video cut-ups and merchandising. He’s also in the lab for the Last Daze video as we speak. The TV set photo sessions with Thana Fauteaux and Michelle Sykes have actually evolved into this top secret multimedia film project we’re currently working on. I’d like to eventually make a short film, or maybe write or participate in a graphic novel or TV show in the future.
DM: All I can really say is keep your eyes on the future. Who says we haven’t come up with stuff yet?
S] Can you explain the themes that you look at in your songs, they are easy to move to and accessible to many different genres, but can you elaborate on which songs mean the most to the band?
KD: Fighting for Voltage is a concept record, and the story can be pieced together if you’ve heard it back to front about 444 times. In the dark, with no sleep, or food. We’d like to elaborate on the concept more; maybe we will reveal a few elements of the story onto the next record.
DM: I can’t really answer that for the band, but I can say that each new thing that comes out means something to me in a different way. Not so much lyrically (as that’s not my job), but more in that there is always something really extreme going on in the band, and every new song kind of represents that period of time.
S] What will be your main goals for 09 and can you share some ideas on how a new record (following the remix album coming in April) will see LSD develop? Will there be any guest spots?
KD: Oh yeah, our remix album will be released in 09 and we do have a few surprises in store with that. The next album’s being written right now. We’re currently exploring new territory, experimenting with time changes and lyrical themes rarely touched upon before. I’m excited to see what next year brings. According to my astrologer, travel and new career opportunities await me next year. They never mentioned anything about my unpaid bills though. [Sighs]
DM: Well, the newer material is more organically written. It’s time spent in the room as a band working parts out live and then doctoring them electronically. We still have song skeletons derived from Jeremy’s initial programming and keyboard lines, but we now have the opportunity to flesh them out in an almost garage band kind of way. It’s a really interesting mix. We are including a couple of covers on the remix record, so you’ll get to see some idea of what we listen to at almost every chance as well as the actual remixes. On a new record? I certainly hope we can get a couple guests going on it. There are scores of people I would love to work with, and a lot of friends I would like to see in print next to us. SNFU, are you reading this?
S] Why did you choose to submit your material for remix, what inspired you to submit ‘Last Daze’ and how were you impressed with the submissions you received?
KD: We toyed around for a while with the idea of a remix. Since nobody really buys singles anymore, we decided to see how many people would be interested in participating in a remix album project and we were overwhelmed with responses. Now we’re looking at the possibility of making this a multiple format/issue release. It’s quite interesting and we’re currently exploring the technological possibilities on how we can release this new remix album in a new and creatively exciting way.
DM: ‘Last Daze’ just seemed like the obvious choice when we came up with the idea. It’s the most played, most requested. It has the best response live; everyone just seems to gravitate towards it. I have been really impressed with the independents I’ve heard so far. A lot of our fellow Canadian up-and-coming counterparts really pulled out the stops and really gave us something to chew on. As far as the others, well, you’ll just have to wait and see I’m afraid.
S] How did the tag iPunk come about, was it merely just a way to separate yourselves from the pack, or was it a particular event that triggered it?
KD: One night in a dimly lit house party, Chris Peterson, Jeremy, Matt and myself were chitchatting and this drum n bass 12″ that’s been on heavy rotation (on our home systems) became the virtual blueprint for Hang Up. We had this mess of breakbeats and industrial percussion mangled with punk rock guitar and we began to structuralize it like an electronic 12″ single you’d hear in a club, while still retaining the punk rock element of the guitar and vocal. Halfway through the session I quipped that we might as well be called iPunk cause we were transferring data with iPods and recording everything into Apple computers. There were no tape machines to be found in the studios we had built and sessioned at. The whole thing was also quite funny because it perfectly described our sound to those who didn’t understand what a Drum & Bass/Punk rock fusion would sound like. Punk Rock for the iPod generation; Not Digital Hardcore, but Digital Punk Rock.
DM: I think actually, it was that time kAINE slipped and hit his head on the bathroom sink and he came up with the idea for the flux capacitor.
S] Do you find that with LSD there are a different set of emotions that inspire you when you write and perform in contrast to when you as individuals perform with your individual acts [Jeremy Inkel has Front Line Assembly] and you Denyss had The Black Halos?
KD: I’ve only written for LSD full time for well over five years now so I myself can’t really answer this question with incredible detail. I am, however, working on this little electronic pop project that may or may not be revealed for a while. I rather see this as exploring than differentiating emotions. When I write I don’t think “this is for LSD” I just write. Most of the time it finds a place on a LSD recording.
DM: With the Halos, everything I wrote was an attempt to write something timeless and ageless. With LSD, it’s not quite as simple as the technology alone dates us. Now I’m just trying to write good songs. Obviously, I’m a little older than when I was with the Halos, so I will have a new set of emotions and experiences to draw from for inspiration. Performance wise, again, the two are totally different in all ways. Aesthetically, musically, the crowds, there’s nothing really the same about the two worlds. And there’s nothing really the same about Denyss Halo and Denyss McKnight.
S] What kind of show would you ideally like to bring to the UK; do you have any ideal visuals and concepts you would like to use? What message do you have for your fans in the UK?
KD: I’d like to bring our whole show to the UK. We have this new multimedia rig we’re just getting the hang of, and hopefully by time we reach the UK we’d be able to put on a semi-conceptual rock show, interacting with the audience and crew using multimedia on the stage as an instrument. Projectors, vision mixers, live cameras, the lot. As far as a message to the UK goes, simple! Buy our music. Add to Playlist. Increase Volume/Awareness. Threaten your local DJ to play our songs. Heavily. And by any means necessary, get us into your country so we can play shows for you! We WILL Rock You!
DM: I feel our show is capable as it is. We’re always stepping up our game anyway naturally, so we never feel the need to push ourselves. We do it anyway. To our fans in the UK; we’ll be with you soon. Let’s start a new war.
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