Plastic Noise Experience: Are You Experienced ?

Interview by Ken Holewczyski

Plastic Noise Experience are being labeled part of the second wave of German EBM to make its way across the ocean and into the dance floors of America. Clause Kruse, vocalist and programmer, along with Stephen Kalwa on additional Synths strike back at the onslaught of Aggro-Metal with their previous release -196°C,and the new release "Neural Transmission". Their sound reminds you of FLA or 242, but darkly minimal.

Ken: Tell me a little about your musical experience prior to PNE. Claus was operating under the name "Plastic Terror". In what sort-of vein was this early work?

Stephen: Claus had made some experiments with electronic music in the form of some really experimental "sound effects" and sound collages,and mixed them together with brutal analog FM-sounds and spherical filings that reflected the direction of electronic music at that time. It sounds kinda crazy,but I'm trying to describe how Plastic Terror sounded at that time.

Ken: Is any of it still available?

Stephen: Claus only recorded on tape at the time and its no longer available.

Ken: When and how did you and Claus meet and get together?

Stephen: We met in a small discotheque in Mindon,which is our home town, and got to know each other in late 1989 and realized we were on the same wavelength. We talked about music and whatever and planned to get together and start experimenting on a musical project.

Ken: Did you immediately start working together or did your working relationship develop more slowly?

Stephen: No that really was the start of PNE. A kind of quick start,I think.

Ken: What is your musical background?

Stephen: I hadn't done anything musically prior to Plastic Noise Experience and I had learned to play guitar at that time, but when I had gotten to know Claus, it was absolutely clear to me that electronic music was the right way for me to realize my musical thoughts. In that time, I was listening to more guitar music like Sonic Youth or Husker Du, but also Kraftwerk and Cabaret Voltaire, so perhaps that is why PNE's sounded very tough in the beginning.

Ken: Was there a single factor that made you form PNE together?

Stephen: No there was no one deciding factor. We made some experiments together and noticed that we like the results and we called our project Plastic Noise Experience and that was all.

Ken: Who does what in the group as far as song writing goes? Is the writing split equally or is there a lot of give and take?

Stephen: In short,we both do everything. Claus and I program our own songs on our own. In the beginning it was very easy for us to get together because we lived in the same town, but today, Claus lives in Hamburg and I live in Aachen, a distance of about 600 kilometers. So now we meet once in two months for several days to record new material. Normally the lyrics are my work but this depends on a case by case basis.

Ken: The music is firmly rooted in the EBM catagory with a wonderful understated quality. Do you find yourself fighting an urge to overproduce,or does this style of writing come naturally? It seems it would be easy to continue producing multiple layers of tracks,but you opt for a stripped down quality that I really appreciate. I like to hear the effort and voicing put into a particular part of a song rather than having to strain to hear what's buried in the mix. Is this a conscientious song writing philosophy?

Stephen: We are like a small, independent project, and we want to sound like that. We don't like to over-produce songs where you can hear more from the producer than from the musicians. Many bands are mixed up in big studios with producers and everything, but this is not our style. We record everything in our little studio in Hamburg, and when it murmurs or cracks, then we have the character of sound we like. We want the sound raw and harsh, without any extra makeup - more aggressive and direct.

Ken: What do you think of the current EBM scene? "Industrial" music seems to have become, at least in America, over dominated by the metal/industrial hybrid and EBM's grasp of the dance floor has been overtaken by techno. What are your feelings on the state of EBM today, both in Europe and the states?

Stephen: Yes, in Europe, there is also a wave of electro-metal-crossover music, but I think it is more to expand the variety of musical styles and nothing more. Electro-metal here is relatively new and some people like this. But when time goes by,the new becomes the real dimension.

Ken: I was drawn into this music by Front 242 and FLA and find I still enjoy this material. Do you still listen to this style?What other music influences what you produce?

Stephen: In Europe, there are enough bands doing real electronic and that will never change. As far as I know, in the electro-scene, there is a confirmed community that doesn't want to get in touch with commercial techno, with exceptions of course, and therefore, techno is no alternative to EBM. Only from America do I know about electro-metal crossover. We are still listening to old electronic material like Klinik, Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire, Insekt and things like Front 242's "Geography". But we also listen to new material live Dive, and in general, industrial and some techno.

Ken: Are you an active part of a local music scene? Many electronic musicians seem to remain isolated from their local scene and only really connect with their audiences when on tour. Do you have any relationship with an industrial scene with any other bands?

Stephen: No, we are not part of the music scene. We meet our audience only during concerts and we are in contact with some, but they are only a few. Claus perhaps is in a industrial scene in Hamburg, but there it is also too small to mention. We have a good relationship with several bands, but they would probably be unfamilar names in the US. For example, Paracont, from Osnebruck and Notstandskommitee and Serpents from Hamburg. The main problem in Germany is, that most bands are not on our wavelength, because they have an idiotic rivalry, where it is more important who is better known or more important. Our best contacts are Dive and Insekt from Belgium, which is a totally different world compared to Germany.

Ken: What are your current activities and plans?

Stephen: Last year we re-recorded old material from 1989 through 1991 for a double CD called "Transmitted Memory", with some new version of old songs and that is out in Europe. In America,the CD will be called "Neural Transmission". Claus formed a solo project called Gaytron and worked on a full length CD and two mini-CD's which should be out by now. We are also working on a new CD for KK Records.After that,we will probably do alittle tour,who knows? There are no concrete plans for the future and it goes like the past - wait and go.