death is my poorly-tuned Spanish guitar with two missing strings
DEAD ANGEL is:
editor/tyrant for life/prime maggot: the moon unit [email@example.com]
assistant maggots: fuzzdoll, brain, yol, etc.
special adminstrative tyrant: the headless sno-cone girl
BLABBING WITH ANAL SADIST
In brief: Anal Sadist is an American noisemaker (William Christman) who, when not assaulting people with his own forbidding wall of electronic chaos, often appears in the Haters and also runs Turbine Industries, a tape and CD label devoted to extreme music. (He's also the moderator of the difficult-l list.) Check out what he has to say below:
DA: You've been playing for a while now -- what made you take up the noise mantle in the first place?
WC: I have a great love of big, bombastic noises going on around me. And up to 1987 I had been borrowing electric guitars and employing feedback fuckery although I quickly ran out of people to borrow amps and guitars from. I began screwing with generating sound on a Macintosh in 1986-87. I found that I could write a Hypercard stack (a simple programming language) and manipulate sounds through that and make some incredibly annoying pieces. I had been working at a college radio station (KFJC-FM, Los Altos Hills) and trying different sound collage stuff. That eventually went on to The Hellfire Club which was a noise radio show that I and a friend (Les Scurry) did. We did a lot of live pieces ourselves as well as having K.K. Null, The Pain Teens, The Haters and others on to play live. We kept it up for about five years.
DA: Has noise been your only musical vocation, or have their been other things (earlier, later)?
WC: I actually played trombone and baritone bugle for nine years in both classical and jazz settings. I played the violin for two years and have dabbled with bass guitar and piano. I am now teaching myself piano but not necessarily for noise music. When people ask me what I play, I usually say "sampler".
DA: I see you're influenced by Merzbow... but what other, more exotic (or unexpected) influences are swirling about in there?
WC: This sounds trite but I like Stockhausen quite a bit and am a huge fan of John Cage. I also am affected somewhat by Varese and Subotnick and other modern composers. I also am fond of composers/musicians/poets that use words in repetitive or unique ways.
DA: What -- if anything -- are you trying to accomplish artistically with both the recordings and the performances?
WC: I like to create an enveloping, smothering and encasing set of sounds. I am quite addicted to physical bondage and use the sounds I generate in a similar manner. The performances and recordings are done primarily for me; it's music/sounds that I like to listen to in a relaxed setting. Ultimately, I'll use the sound for an extended SM scene involving myself and my partner.
DA: Tell me about the very first release, AUSTERE -- how did that sound in comparison to what you're doing now?
WC: All of AUSTERE was generated on a Macintosh directly to tape. The sounds were from various sources but mostly movie dialogue that was manipulated until unrecognizable. Now, I use more tone generators and a small sampler now along with portable tape players. I found it was a pain in the ass to cart a Mac around even if it was a Powerbook (laptop). Plus, it seemed to be a bit more pure to use relatively lo-fi sources instead of some CD quality samples. Can't have the sound be too clean, y'know.
DA: You still do all the packaging for your releases yourself, correct?
WC: All of the packaging for all of the releases on Turbine are done by me. The cover for the Gerogerigegege single was from Juntaro but the rest has been generated by me.
DA: How does recording come together for you? Are there certain areas you like to explore (captured conversations, sampling, loops, etc.), or is it more freeform than that?
WC: I usually start with a new sound or part of an existing recording and build on that. Sometimes there's a concept or idea but it's nothing rigid. Found sound and conversations are my favorite material to work with as is static and distorted sound. I usually set a tape in motion and record various combinations until I'm bored then wait a few weeks and then go back and listen. I'll usually use sections of what I've recorded and sometimes go back and manipulate them for a second time. I have found some amazing sounds by duct-taping a portable tape recorder inside of my car's engine compartment and then driving somewhere, recording all the while.
DA: Your live performances appear to be quite a bit more elaborate than those of the average noise performer -- how do you approach setting up these performances?
WC: I like to have some sort of motion on stage rather than have 2-3 static people pushing buttons. Even if the motion is limited to playing a treated guitar, it works. If I'm playing by myself, then I'm the only button pusher and that's ok too. All of the live pieces are unique and there's no "set list." Actually, I made a set list for J. Exby when we opened for Merzbow but that was just a joke. I like to have a lot of red light bathing the stage--it gives the players a otherworldly look. I usually break down my entire studio for a performance. The mixer, the sampler, the two-by-six- 'tar the tape decks and all of the pedals. If you've seen Merzbow's table of stuff, it's pretty much like that. The content of the performances vary as I've have had a interpretive dance performance and I've had my partner do both a homemade guitar whipping and a mask/fetish type thing. As long as there's something else to look at that ties in with the basic concept of the performance, I'll use it.
DA: How difficult is it to get all the elements in place and integrate them smoothly into the live experience?
WC: The live shows are pretty random. It's easy when all of the gear is set up correctly. I usually go over with the performers what I'd like them to do--I conduct most of the time. Sometimes the most chaotic and unorganized ones go over the best. The performance at Anomalous Records (when they were in Los Angeles) was the most sparsely attended, it cost me a bunch of money to get there, there was broken equipment and other annoyances but the performance was very powerful and dense. We actually had to tell people sitting along the back wall of the space that the show was over when we were done. It was like they were pummeled into the wall-- they took a long time to get up and out.
DA: You went to Japan in 1991 to go into the studio with Gero. and the Nihilist Surfin' Group -- what happened to those tapes?
WC: They're probably on Juntaro Yamanouchi's gigantic tape wall at his house. We did some pretty wanky stuff that night. He played, NSG played, I played and then did a group noise thing. That was the best part. Juntaro and I haven't spoken in years and are not on good terms so he might have recorded over them or something. It seems that finding out that Juntaro is an asshole is a fairly universal experience...
DA: How did that trip lead to meeting Shelley Hollingsworth and what is her relationship to AS at this point?
WC: Shelley and I are very good friends and confidants. Juntaro arranged a meeting the first time I was in Japan at the Shibuya train station near the Hachiko statue (Hachiko is a famous dog in Japan). They even had a big sign that said "Welcome Anal Sadist." It was cool. Shelley was there for a while but left before I got there. The next time I returned, Juntaro introduced me to her. We immediately hit it off and spent hours talking. I think Juntaro got pissed because of it-- they weren't on the best terms either. We became close real fast as we have a lot of common attitudes and ideas. Shelley was part of the very first Anal Sadist live performance. She's living in England now (she's from there) and we talk twice a month.
DA: You played at Tokyo's Theatre Poo in 1992 with Shelly H. Can you tell me about how that went and the reaction to it?
WC: It was interesting because I was on business in Japan (I used to work for Apple Computer) and I arranged everything via fax with Shelley. So it was a balancing act between setting up the show and paying attention to my work stuff. We spent all day Sunday working out the segments of the show and gathering props and other stuff for the show. We inadvertently shoplifted the big piece of plexiglas we used in the show from this really cool shop called Tokyu Hands.
We played to about 25 people in Theatre Poo which during the day was a snack bar and off-track horse and dog racing parlor. There was some semi- psycho guitar player that opened for us. We had a two-part show worked out: both parts were based on dreams Shelley had. Part one had her flitting around the patrons of the club with a gauze blindfold and in step with the smooth static and a repetitive jazz sample riff. Part two had her tied up and attacked by me with much harsher music. We used most of her tiny flat's toy chest for throwing around the club. For a few moments, the music was on autopilot. For the most part, the show went well. I hyperventilated about 15 minutes before going on and nearly fell down the stairs going out of the club... I think that we had a lot of fun choreography in the show and that's what grabbed people's attention. We got polite applause. Someone videotaped it and it's pretty neat to watch it now. The music bears little resemblance to what I have done since then.
DA: I notice you mentioned that the piece featured a loop collage of scanner dialogue... what do you think about the use of pilfered scanner conversations, particularly in light of the whole flap over the Gingrich deal?
WC: I feel that anything in the airwaves is mine for the taking. I LOVE scanner captures of cellular phone calls. They're fascinating because most of them are incredibly mundane but there are a few that knock me out. One was a cellular phone call that mush have cost $150 or more as it was a 90+ conversation that involved an on-the-phone seduction which included a phone-sex session that I would bet no one would ever get via a phone-sex service. It's too bad that I didn't have a tape recorder handy; it could have provided hours of source material. Oh and by the way...fuck Gingrich.
DA: For that matter, what do you make of Scanner, in which Robin Rimbaud has built a musical career out of this form of "phone terrorism"?
WC: Honestly, I've never heard any of Robin Rimbaud's material. But I'm sure it's something that I'd like based on the premise.
DA: Around the time of CHAW/SHOTGUN HEAD, you started producing your own homemade guitars... are this standard guitars, or something else? You're using them in performances now, aren't you?
WC: I use any scrap wood that is lying around (I do woodworking as a hobby). A two by six piece of wood (pine usually) is my favorite to work with. I have a variety of pickups, machine heads, bridges and other parts to work with. I like to use all of one type of string (an E string, for instance) on all of the positions and tune them the same as well. I use copper alligator clips and other clip devices to alter the sound. As I mentioned before, I've had one of the guitars whipped with a riding crop. I fed the output into a phaser and turned it up to ear-piercing volume. Very effective. I try to use them in every performance using them differently each time. Fred Frith taught a one-evening seminar at Stanford University in the early 80's-- I went and was very intrigued and influenced by his ideas of guitar "playing."
DA: Can you elaborate on your experience with opening for Hijokaidan? I'm sure that must have been a noisy evening....
WC: Yeah, it was noisy but it wasn't as good as you'd think. The Anal Sadist portion of the show kind of sucked as the homemade guitar fell apart after just a few passes with a string tensioner-- I mean the bridge just flew off making it impossible to use. We blew out a power strip running the right side of the PA within six minutes. We ended up playing everything through a Marshall amp with one microphone. It stopped and started and I was generally disappointed with it although many people came up after and said they liked it.
As far as the rest of the show... a lot of people think that JoJo is God or something. Quite simply, he's not. He's just a guy who has taken advantage of every opportunity to make noise and market it. I don't find a lot of what Hijokaidan does live to be earth-shaking. I do think that the recorded material is very well done however. I was really looking forward to seeing Hijokaidan for the first time but it really sucked in a lot of ways. There seemed to be no point whatsoever in what they were doing. The crowd was so sucked in by the "King of Noise" label that Hijokaidan could have come on and made farty noises for their set and the crowd still would have thought it was the greatest. It's that kind of sheep mentality that makes me ill. There are a handful of people that would have you think that they're "in" with JoJo and therefore that makes them cool. People that make a career of associating themselves with "Japanese noise artists" in an effort to try and be a cool and hip to an audience of sheep are a load of crap. Fuck 'em all with a dirty stick. Japanese noise artists are not gods-- get over it.
DA: In 1994 you began performing with The Haters. How do you interact with them -- are you a full-fledged member of the group at this point? What are those performances like to you (as opposed to AS shows)?
WC: I am a full-fledged member for as long as Gerald wants me. I only perform with The Haters when they play in California. I usually am the provider of power tools. I love performing with The Haters because Gerald has a unique vision and knows what he wants to accomplish with every performance. It's nice to have that when performing because it makes it easy to execute his plan. Gerald is an honorary member of Anal Sadist as well. I consider myself very fortunate to perform with The Haters.
DA: You opened for Merzbow in October of 1995; can you elaborate on that? I'm sure that was also an ear-shattering experience....
WC: It was a good show. That was when we did the guitar whipping. Actually, I ran out of gas and cut the show a bit short. What I mean is that I felt that the sound had done all it could have done and it wrapped up way before the 25 minute slot. Merzbow and Reiko came out and watched the whole thing. The band on next (also the people who organized the show) were pissed but fuck them-- they obviously don't know when to quit. They completely sucked; they played an excruciating 50 minute "set" that combined all of the trite and cliche things about noise. Jeezus, it was horrible... Fortunately, Merzbow was waiting in the wings. His performance was worth sitting through the crap. It was sonic and buzzy and a wall of whooshing noise. His "singer" was an interesting bit of diversion and didn't add to or take away from the music.
DA: How exactly are you involved with AMK? You appear on the new PLAY CD, but that's about all i know in that regard....
WC: AMK and I have been good friends for several years. We met when he came on the Hellfire Club radio show to play some of his label's (Banned) material. It's also how I met Gerald of The Haters. AMK is a regular member of Anal Sadist and in return I mix and manipulate some of his work. That's what I did for PLAY. We're going to continue to work together and I look forward to our performances together. We play turntables and cut-up flexidiscs and have a blast. We're actually doing a performance at the end of April 1997. AMK is probably one of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever met.
DA: What are you up to at the moment and what's on your agenda for the near future?
WC: I've gone through a period of silence that has mostly been forced due to my regular job. When working 60-70 hours a week, I just don't have the time to do anything. Hopefully, this will end soon-- I get to hire a person to take up some of the load. I have a CD's worth of material just waiting for someone to release. I'd do it myself but need to find the time. I was on the Merzbow tribute compilation recently-- that was neat. I'll probably start recording some new material in the summer. I also plan to kick-start Turbine as well as I've let that stagnate as well. I can't compete with Anomalous or RRR so I may start carrying some other stuff in my catalog. I think that noise is mostly dead weight these days. In 1992-93, Ron of RRR said that "Japanese noise has shot its wad." I didn't believe it then but I totally believe that now. I may do some live stuff as well with a local "progressive" music group that puts on experimental shows.
You can contact Anal Sadist by sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
turbine industries: http://www.turbine.com/turbine
super strong machine mailorder: http://www.turbine.com/SSM
anal sadist webpage at http://www.turbine.com/turbine/sadist.html
austere magazine: http://www.turbine.com/austere