Tell us a brief history of DHI and the reasons why you decided to make industrial music instead of polka or dance music, you like being poor and unknown or what?
We became interested in the industrial esthetic after seeing performances by Toronto-based bands such as Sturm Group and Varoshi fame, between 1985 and 1987. Sturm Group were using samplers in an expressive and original way, along with guitar, bass, drums and a vocalist. Their performances were very theatrical, thanks to a great frontman, and also included metal percussion and minimal synthesizer work.
Another band - Varoshi Fame - also were impressively theatrical when they performed. This band was mainly based around percussion, though, and was extremely political.
Although both bands were exploring ideas far outside of conventional rock
music, they seemed to be able to generate a lot of energy in their
audiences. That kind of energy was something that we aspired to create.
Other influences, like Skinny Puppy, Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 also played a part in inspiring us to do our own thing.
DHI's story began in 1987, with Graf and I creating "soundscapes" by improvising with synths, samplers, record players, tape decks and various effects, etc. A year later, Max joined us on keyboards and we started releasing demos. In 1991, The Chemical Land EP was released, and was followed-up by the Machine Altar Transmission album in 1992. Nocturne replaced Max after the recording of those releases in 1991, and has been with us ever since. In the fall of '93, the Bitter Alloys EP came out. Speed joined us that year on guitar, bass and backing vocals. Then, in the spring of 1994 our final CD, Pressures Collide was released.
Van Richter Records put out Bitter Alloys/Pressures Collide as one CD in '96, and now they've just re-released our first EP and CD as Transmissions from the Chemical Land.
From 1988 to 1996 we played a lot of shows, and had the good fortune of meeting dedicated fans wherever we played. Some bands that we performed with included The Young Gods, Alien Sex Fiend and Front Line Assembly.
You can't hide the fact that you're canadians, you're making good industrial music (giggles), what do you think about the canadian industrial scene and do you think the fact that being canadian help being signed if you wanna start an industrial outfit?
I honestly don't believe there is an industrial scene anymore. I think a lot of die hard "industrialists" have branched out, and are interested in many other musics that are forward-thinking and fresh.
For most people, I don't think that the industrial genre alone can fill the void left by mainstream music.
You're signed on Van Richter records, why this label than any other, do you plan to move to the states?
The idea of living in the States doesn't appeal to me. And as far as Van Richter goes, we started working with them because they approached us with a reasonable offer. Any label that takes the initiative to reach out to a band is worth considering.
What inspires you? life, death? and how do you manage to create something different getting each time far away from the cliches of the genre?
Everything in this life inspires me. Staying away from cliches is easy. Cliches are boring. What's the point of creating music according to what's been done before? Music should be about inspiration, emotion and discovery - not about slotting your ideas into a template, and condensing them down to four minutes for radio play. I wanna live.
You opened for Front Line Assembly in 1989 (correct me if I'm wrong), that must have been a great push for a young band? did you got any feed back or advices from them?
I remember Rhys as being a nice guy. I think we went for pizza after the show, and Rhys gave us a bottle of Bushmills. Anybody that breaks out the booze for us gets into my good books automatically!
Is the addition of a guitarist in DHI changed the way you composed the music?
DHI has always had a guitarist actually: me. When Speed joined us in '93, our live shows benefitted from the overlaying of two guitars. Our sound became bigger.
What's so special about the way you are doing your samples? Where do you take them?
Well, I'm afraid you'll have to tell your readers what's special about our samples! We don't tend to analyze them. We create them based on mood, and what might be appropriate for whatever composition we're working on.
Our samples mostly came from our own sources, whether they were from guitars, water in a bathtub, vocals, powertools, violins, electric razors, percussion, room ambiences, etc.
How a band like you guys avoid ear damage?
What should we expect from DHI in the coming months?
Expect us to be working under a new name: Transformantra. We'll be playing this New Year's Eve at Sky High, which is being held at the National Trade Centre, at Toronto's CNE.
Our first 12-inch has just been released on Silver USA, and a CD will follow on January 27th. The sound of Transformantra is DHI with the vocals removed from the mix and a very different approach to our guitar work (more atmospheric and expressive). We began the new project in the summer of '95 when we realized that the original concept behind DHI couldn't be taken any further, and that if we were truly going to progress (artistically) it would make sense to renew our spirit and create a new name to work under.
By not concerning ourselves with verses and choruses, etc. we have enabled ourselves to write longer pieces of music, and explore some very unusual, and groovy arrangements.
The future is looking bright!
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Do you think you'll still be doing industrial music or you'll start doing new age or ambient material? (giggles)
Is anybody really doing "industrial" music in 1997? I think the best artists are those that are able to take influences from all over, and ultimately present something new in their own material.
New age? Uh, no.
Ambient? Well, I think Brian Eno already mastered the concept of ambience in the 70's, actually.
DHI PAGE | NEXT INTERVIEW