Coming out of the steel industry area of Essen, Germany, Testify are bringing their aggro-industrial sound to America via Van Richter Records. A side project of the seminal European EBM outfit, The Fair Sex, Raskal and Myk Jung takeover what you thought was going to be your average interview and fill it with sarcasm and strange humor. You figure out which is which...
Ken: Seeing how you've been together for almost ten years, what's it like to hang around with you guys?
Raskal: We are not really friends. In fact, we hate each other. although I feel deep respect for Myk, Moses, George, Eddie and Mathias. I just can work with people I feel this kind of artistic or mental link to.
Myk: I agree. Moreover, it's very boring to hang around with these bandmates. We don't party. We don't drink anything but milk and mineral water. We don't take drugs, we just invent music working with each other. We bore ourselves to death.
Raskal: But we are playing soccer and improve our bodies at "Albinsky Fitness."
Myk: I can't really enjoy that.
Ken: Are there other bands you consider your friends or that you hang around with?
Raskal: Not really that we consider friends, but there are a lot of musicians around here.
Myk: I have no friends anyway.
Raskal: No surprise to me.
Myk: being on tour, we sometimes meet the guys from Project Pitchfork or Love Like Blood, Pink Turns Blue, secret Discovery or others. For a fleeting moment, we accompany each other like old friends, but then the tour is over... (a tear in Myk's eye)
Ken: Do you pursue any outside interests?
Raskal: The Fair Sex and Testify have got a great soccer team. Overmore, I am trying to play basketball. While I was working a job at a record company's marketing department, I discovered a passion for the managing and selling of music. And, I'm a fan of system-chaos theory.
Myk writes pornographic literature, but he won't tell ya. Overmore, he rips teenage girls, maybe he'll tell that.
Myk: "Ripping" or "raping?" Do I really do both?
Raskal: He's a coward.
Ken: Were there any personal events that took you into music? Any driving forces that keep you motivated?
Raskal: I never can stop it. There's always music in my head, so that other people think I'm nervous, although I'm just in music. There is always something forcing me. I don't know what, but when I let it go, it develops on its own and sometimes with great dynamics.
Myk: Driving force? It is this always, always being dissatisfied with what we have achieved. It's a mental disease, probably. It is always the lack that I feel instead of enjoying the improvements.
Ken: I can relate to that.
Myk: What took me into music was Jagger on stage in 1976. Of course, I was too young in that particular year, but I saw pictures in 1977.
Ken: What kinds of music do you listen to? Any favorite bands, recent or past?
Raskal: I buy nearly everything that causes a stronger feeling. Actually, I'm on a trance-techno trip. The music that means the most to me is that of Pink Floyd, although I had a time when I was often listening to Front 242. It was to have this kind-of futurelust approach. You want to know about Ministry and NIN, don't you? The first time I heard Psalm 69 was while I was mixing the Testify EP in the studio. I loved Halloween and other Ministry pop songs in the '80's. Maybe Al discovered TFS material in 1987, before releasing "The Land of Rape and Honey," and decided to change his taste.
NIN is too much rock and roll for me. Excellent production, but too conventional in structure. All-in-all, it's brilliant and pretty ill. What is most inspiring to me is nature, especially near water and all kinds of science fiction films.
Myk: Nothing inspires me and that is a lie, of course. I'm afraid to say that sometimes I come across a title that I urgently wished to have written on my own.
Ken: I been receiving quite a few German releases the past months and I've really been wondering what the German industrial/ electronic scene is like these days. Is it as active as it appears to be? Is it a cohesive scene, or many individuals producing a volume of work?
Myk: In Germany, there probably is not a cohesive scene, at least not for us. Maybe it's a pity.
Raskal: maybe it's why industrial and electronic music is so popular? Most of the German releases are boring me. name me something I should listen to.
Myk: What about Plastic Noise Experience, Spermbirds, Nice Gods Bleed or Die Krupps?
Raskal: They are o.k. I am just being a bit arrogant.
Myk: As usual.
Raskal: For sure.
Ken: What really brought about the creation of Testify? Does playing aggro- industrial fill a space missing in The Fair Sex sound, or are you just branching out in different directions?
Raskal: Because industrial was becoming more and more popular and we were afraid of missing the train. testify was always part of TFS. There are a lot of people in Germany saying that we invented the electronic/guitar cyber sound. When I listen to TFS tracks like "Boredom Kills," "Black Anger," and other early works I get an impression of what they might mean. In '93, TFS was becoming a kind of dinosaur for us, we couldn't move it anymore, we had problems with each other, so Myk and I decided to do something different. It was just a joke in the beginning, but jokes sometimes have their own dynamics. It was really refreshing and now we can't stop it. In fact, Testify is kind of a catharsis for us. And now we have our minds free to do the ultimate TFS works.
Myk: The idea of starting something like Testify came about in 1991, yeah. Perhaps because TFS was becoming a little bit too smooth, too harmless, too complacent, too effeminate, too elaborate. Perhaps it was just a logical step -
Raskal: What do you know about logic?
Myk: - to form Testify in 1992, in the beginning, with L'o, the old TFS guitarist. I agree that Testify is closer to being primal than TFS titles like "Black Anger," "No Excuse," or "Boredom Kills," than TFS in 1992. In '92 I didn't know anything about the on-coming industrial boom and I'm not sure if I'm glad about this phenomenon.
Ken: Seeing how you have been involved in the ebm/industrial/electronic scene for almost ten years, what has surprised you most about the development of this type of music? Do you feel it is still growing or has the avalanche of guitar-based industrial thrash seem to push the electronic side into the background?
Raskal: maybe some people see no further possibilities in developing electronic music, unless they're doing a crossover. I've read such statements. Maybe people saying this are the same people who usually use factory presets. I feel really challenged about developing electronic music out of itself beyond fucking techno. The next TFS release will make TFS become a inventor/initiator again. It's not that we won't use guitars, but not in the usual crossover way. Not in the Testify way, either.
Myk: That is something we have to discuss, horny bub.
Raskal: No ore discussions, you metal arsehole.
Myk: You trance-wanker.
Raskal: Heavy homo.
Myk: Shite techno-pilepoop.
Now, to answer your question, the musical scene of now, is always the answer to the dissatisfaction caused by yesterday's scene. The EBM scene became boring by the pure electronic sounds and sequences which we have had since the mid '80's. So then they discovered the new aesthetics of the new heavy guitar-riff sound. It was time to combine these features. perhaps an electronic band of nowadays proves its strong will to be resistant to the current development, proves strength by not putting heavy guitars into their arrangements. there will come another chapter -
Raskal: Yes, the new TFS works.
Myk: - after this phase, during which even bands like Front Line assembly do this mixture. Some day there might be an overkill of the crossover thing, but personally, I wouldn't be too happy about it.
Ken: With both bands are still active, does Testify mark a change in direction for both bands? Is a metal/industrial side project a progression of The Fair Sex sound or are the two projects completely independent? I imagine at times it could be difficult to draw the line on where one project ends and the other begins.
Raskal: It's impossible to draw a clear line between both projects. Personally, it isn't he same, except that Myk and I are the heads of both projects. For me, TFS is the more electronic one. Single sounds play a more important role. testify has got more bpm's and fucking metal guitars. I hate it. Sometimes I wonder about my Beavus and Butthead gestures when I'm programming Testify guitars. But really, the transition is surprisingly easy. last year we were touring til the thirtieth of November with TFS and on the first of December the Testify tour began. we were different persons from one day to another. This was astonishing to us, too, although we had to calm down rough Trade's anxiety before doing this double tour thing. the two projects stimulate each other.
Myk: Even if both things are not two sides of the same coin, they are indeed akin to each other. One is the harsher, younger brother of the other, but not more virile. TFS is still alive, which will be proved. Indeed, it's not too easy to draw the line sometimes. It happens that I'm walking about with new vocal ideas in my head, and although most times I'm sure about where to place this new idea, it sometimes happens that the newest "TFS vox idea" ends up as a Testify hook.
Ken: Who's writing the Testify material? What sort of message are you trying to give? Your lyrics are peppered with plenty of sexual references and a few comments on racial tensions. Is the neo-nazi thing happening around where you live? Are you commenting on that particular situation in Germany?
Raskal: The main writers on the actual releases are Myk and I. I did most of the programming and production, Myk does most of the lyrics, except "Futurelust" and "Ride" - that's my poetry!
Myk: Neo-nazis are a minor group in Germany's society. Nevertheless, we have nothing for them but hate, hate, hate. They are sick. We have no understanding. Nail them.
Raskal: Their actual fun is kicking foreigners (or those they think are foreigners) out of moving trains. During a concert on the last tour we could solve the problem with the help of the crew for 2 hours.
Ken: Violence is definitely a running theme on "Testify 01," so is this a reflection of personal experiences? Have you been exposed to a lot of violence?
Raskal: Myk is violating me all the time...
Myk: Violence is one of our main themes, of course. Violence you meet on every corner of this planet of punishments, even in your own innermost cells, so that maybe you start not only hating the whole world, but even hating yourself. Isn't it a theme worth shouting about? These themes are akin to old TFS themes, of course, being the offspring of the same crazy minds, but while the TFS'lers always stress to be the good guys, the "avengers" who curse violence and are the weak ones who suffer from the world's injustice, the Testify'ers don't let themselves be burdened. They hate, they love, the live, they hurts, ba, ba, ba. they are not as noble as The Fair Sex, not so magnanimous, not so well- educated, they just are, for a while, okay?
Ken: The sound of Testify is near-primal and quite punk in its delivery, making it more akin to metal than other cyber-industrial bands. Are you going to keep Testify in this current direction? What is the next step for the project?
Myk: This "near-primal" region you talk about, which is perhaps close to punk and heavy metal is a region where I like to work. Raskal probably prefers the more electronic, EBM side of the project. The result of our works will always be found somewhere between these two poles probably.
Raskal: We won't stop doing our kind of cyberterror. There's a lot of new material. Moses W., the guitarist on the last tour is now a 100% member of the band. The fresh wind blowing thru our minds and machines strikes on. We'll do a tour early next year.
Ken: What do you considered to be your influences, musically, literary or whatever?
Raskal: Suddenly there was a guitarist standing in front of me and my sampler, offering me his guitar cable like it was his prick. I didn't know what to do and plugged it into the Akai. What happened wasn't nothing spectacular for this procedure. It was just inspiration Befruchtung Genesis (not the band, you know).
Ken: What are your impressions of the American industrial scene? How do you think American audiences will perceive Testify?
Raskal: I hope they'll hate us. I've got a lot of strategies on how to conquer the enemy's districts. Due to my experiments in my own laboratory (one of those where the future is made today), it was possible to create a time-machine with which I could take some old friends of 1944 into our time, to prepare World War III. One new machine I've constructed is a Scheibe-Wurf-Maschine. Don't be afraid.
Myk: I'm a little ashamed now. I've met some of your 19944 friends yesterday, handed them over to some of my special demonic pals (me being the Graue Eminence of fucking German dark Wave, you know).
Ken: What are your thoughts on bands like Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM and Ministry?
Raskal: KMFDM are too old-fashioned. they still sound like the '80's. They are too slow, no real surprises.
Myk: I like them all, natuerlich mag ich das.
Myk and Raskal added that the photos of them aren't authentic and are just hired studio models and then lapsed back into shameless insulting and bickering. I wonder how they ever get any music written.
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