Interview With Skrufff

Floods[Skrufff] Starting with the reissue of Temple Of Transparent Balls: why have you decided to re-release it (and why now in particular?)

[Martin] We decided to put the entire back catalogue in order and out of the hands of people who’ve never paid the band for these releases. All the old contracts had run their course and enough was enough.

[Ken] “Now” is as good a time as any…in the best sounding version we can?

[Martin] Plus, it helped that we’d started working with Soma, they’re a great bunch of people who leave us alone and let us do what we do. It makes a change for us not to have to do everything oursleves and it gives us more time to do the creative stuff for a change.

[Skrufff] How much do you relate to the music in the same way as when you made it?

[Ken] It was several lifetimes ago Jonty, but the spirit is still the same. Back then I was overjoyed to be pressing our own records, and making a tiny bit of a difference. Now I can fit my entire wall of shop-bought records onto a hard disc. People don’t seem to be as “moved” by music as they once were. A good tune used to get people talking, buzzing, and excited. Now you’re lucky if you can achieve a momentary ripple in their pond. To answer your question, I?m too fucking livid to ever make “that type” of music again. The world has changed, as well as myself.

[Skrufff] What mindset did you have then? (Were you more idealistic, optimistic, ambitious- or less?)

[Ken] Oh, completely. I was naive, trusting, optimistic, and foolish. I genuinely thought we were a “rock and roll” band, in the tradition of the Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned, etc. Us against the world. Looking back, it was the best way to be, because I had a genuinely excellent time. Over the years I?ve matured into the view that chasing fame and fortune is an empty pursuit.

[Skrufff] Switching to Floods: the press release talks directly about using Prozac to record it: was it a deliberate experiment or were you already an experienced, regular user?

[Martin] Yes it was deliberate; I’ve never experienced it before and don’t think I would want to again. Don asked us about the tracks and I sent him the notes from our diary that explained what we’d been up to.

[Ken] I was a regular user for a while, Seroxat, too. There was a period in my life when I was so low I wanted the pain to end. I don’t mind admitting that I needed it to get through each day (which as Black Sifichi says “drags out into eternity”). New drugs have been developed since the Prozac prototype, and they target less of the brain. So it doesn’t feel like the rubber sledgehammer that it used to. I think Prozac got a bad press from people without depression taking them and calling them “happy pills”. If you are depressed, they are “lifesavers”.

I don’t do any “state” drugs now though. I came to the conclusion that they were drugs of control and sedation, and that I was perfectly right to be feeling the way I was. If I have any problems now, at least they are my own.

But, if anybody out there in Skrufff land is severely depressed and debating whether or not to take them, I would not hesitate to recommend them. At least with their aid, you will get to fight another day and that?s all it takes, another day. and you may feel differently. You can always stop taking Prozac but you can’t stop being dead.

[Skrufff] What conclusions have you reached: will you be planning on doing it again?

[Martin] As I don’t suffer from anything that the drug was made to fix I’m not sure what I was supposed to be feeling, as there was nothing for it to relieve.

I personally find it a very controlling and dulling down drug. I could read, drive and make music on it but I couldn’t communicate that well and couldn’t remember what people had said to me a couple of minutes ago – which was very frustrating as I had to keep asking people to repeat themselves over and over. I found the whole thing an emotional struggle against the floods of false feelings the drugs supply and it also magnified a lot of my emotional feelings – which I also struggled a lot with as they’d come washing over with the force of coming up on a good E.

[Ken] No, I?m not going back there again. I ended up resenting the fact that every day was the same. It’s great that you don’t visit the inky black depths of inner despair but conversely, you never get to feel any leaping joy, elation, or inner laughter either. What is a life, without both?

[Martin] The ‘dull” edge on life is certainly not for me but I can see how they help get people through, but I’m not sure if that’s living.

[Skrufff] Was staying in total silence for 2 days hard while you made Floods? (Revelatory? Transcendent, Dull?)

[Martin] Not really, sometimes we don’t need to talk at all while making music, the 3 of us don’t feel the need to fill silence and just yabber on.

[Ken] Easy.

[Skrufff] How much do you subscribe to the view that struggling aids creativity?

[Martin] I don’t really, the classic starving artist is usually a middle class bore with rich parents and nor do I feel that drugs have actually aided that many people, of course it depends what you can take away from the drugs and reapply, it’s possible to evoke the feelings the drugs give you but I don’t think it often transcends into normal life. E doesn’t seem to have done the nation much good, apart from making people more apathetical.

[Ken] I guess, looking back at the history of recorded music, some form of struggle has helped many artists to fulfil their potential. But I don’t “subscribe to the view” that all artists have to be poor to be credible.

[Skrufff] Why did you decide to talk about Prozac, given that most people keep their usage discreet?

[Martin] We don’t have a problem with talking about drugs, more people should because there’s a lot to be learnt from it. There’s no shame in drugs and with lots of people suffering and using Prozac it would be a much better idea for people to start talking about it than keeping it behind closed doors.

[Ken] I guess that’s because “most” people are embarrassed about it? Like they are not “normal”or something? The psychiatric drugs are medicinal tools and like Martin says, I don’t have a problem with talking about my experiences honestly and openly.

[Skrufff] Sometimes other people just get on your nerves, for no reason, just being is enough (Quoted from the press release for Floods): what common characteristics in people tend to irritate you?

[Martin] It’s pure hate on some days for me. I’ve no idea what the reason is but some days I just don’t want to be around other people at all.

[Ken] “Hell is other people” ~ Jean Paul Sartre. I can’t stand other people’s opinions, Jonty. I moved out of cities, so I wouldn’t have to suffer their bullshit. I’d quite happily be blasted out into space never seeing another soul again. I don’t hate other people…each and every one of them is a star…but I?d rather
they weren’t in my orbit.

What most irritates me about the people of Britain, is the fact that we’re embroiled in two wars that nobody wanted, and we have an un-elected chancellor telling us what to do. Blair fled, before he could be impeached for war crimes. and the git, Brown, isn’t giving us a chance to vote him out for another two years. Now *that* is irritating…

[Skrufff]How conscious, or concerned, are you, about whether you get on others nerves just through being yourself?

[Martin] Beyond our family unit I’m not concerned about what others think of me, I know there’s only two phases with me, I’ve either got your back completely or I’m wishing you dead in hotel fire. There’s no middle ground.

[Ken] As a bipolar sufferer, immensely concerned. On a down swing, I?ve learnt not to inflict myself on anybody; I hide away like a hermit monk until the mood has passed. In an upswing, I don’t give a fuck what you think about me (because we will both be dead in 100 years anyway).

[Skrufff] What makes you happy?

[Martin] Music, Art and Reading.

[Ken] the sublime and the ridiculous (the Tao).

[Skrufff] The title Floods is very topical: how much do you perceive global warming as a threat to society? (How much do you care if places like New York and Miami are swamped?

[Martin] I think we are fucked and it may be just too late to reverse things.

[Ken] Funny you should mention it, because hand on heart; I don’t care if New York or Miami are swamped. If it could take California with it, I would be over the moon.

Way too much bullshit comes out of America. And I?m so very fucking bored with its politicians, it’s pseudo-scientific epidemiological Nazism, and it’s puritanical suppression of the free trade in medicinal herbs. Criminal cartels and terrorist organisations have thrived because of their bullshit. I’d be sorry for the loss of life, obviously. But if it means I can grow what I want in my own garden and their un-democratic prohibitions are unenforceable. Bring it on. Anarchists (along with fat people, smoking people, and drinking people) are waiting to inherit and live in the ruins of capitalism. It won’t be pretty. Be it may be more free. You were talking about mindsets earlier?… well, this is one that we definitely need to shake off. Capitalism’s greed and excess has fucked the planet. So I hope you understand why I would have little sympathy. It’s not that I?m uncaring, or inhuman. Honest.

[Skrufff] You?ve been out of the public eye for much of the last decade, did you ever quit music altogether- start doing day jobs? (If so, what?)

[Martin] Black Dog have only ever taken two years out from recording (production and many remixes happened in the 2 years as well) and you interviewed us two years ago when we released Silenced on Dust Science.

[Ken] Jonty, we’re not poptarts. We?ve not been in the public eye, because there is no wish or desire to be in the public eye. It doesn’t help sell records. People just download or copy it from their friends, whatever. All the treadmill of celebrity does, is drag you down, and tire you out with the same questions, again and again. and again. I don’t think I could handle working for somebody else anymore. Apart from the break (following deaths of family and friends) tBd has been quite busy over the last 10 years. A look at the discography will tell you that, dude.

[Skrufff] Rave culture’s seen millions experimenting with ecstasy; how much do you believe that was about people self-medication?

[Martin] I wouldn’t say self-medicating, I’d say escaping from the shitty life and crap that’s happening around them for 8hrs

[Ken] It was a lost opportunity. The door opened and we all looked through it, we glimpsed a world where everybody was a brother and sister, united in love.
but 99% of the people went back to their day jobs on Monday morning.

[Skrufff] What would you say to an 18 year old considering experimenting with ecstasy today?

[Ken] You are an adult and you must make your own choice. Trust your supplier, because our puritanical and draconian laws have driven the trade of “controlled substances” into the hands of unscrupulous criminals. Be aware that even with pharmaceutically pure MDMA, you *may* die from an allergic reaction but the chances of this are extremely slim, to say the least. It would not be honest of me to neglect to mention this to you.

Remember to drink lots of water and surround yourself with friends and good companions. I hope you have a good time. If it’s your first time, don’t be tempted to neck six or seven of them at once …. just the one, eh?

[Skrufff] what do you make of today?s club culture?

[Ken] Different generation now, isn’t it, Jonty? The vibe it reminds me of northern soul all-niters but there are no cigarettes and everything is a little bit too squeaky clean and nice, some venues are like “keep fit” clubs with people posing and posturing others are more down to earth. Bit of a mixed bag, I suppose. different cities, different scenes, hasn’t it always been that way?

[Martin] I still enjoy it and there’s still a lot of good people and promoters out there, so while it’s still fun, I guess we’ll still be involved.

[Skrufff] any plans/ ambitions to perform live as Black Dog?

[Martin] We’ve been playing live for the last two years, were have you been Jonty 🙂

[Ken] I dislike “performing”, but with these guys, playing out live is good fun and tolerable.