DV: Thanks for agreeing to do this long-distance interview. First, can you tell us more about the band's name? How does it relate to the band's musical and/or philosophical vision?
MJ: In the beginning, as you perhaps know, Testify was founded as side-project of the stone-old German electronic group The Fair Sex, and that was in 1992. The idea behind this was to start a new project with more wrathful and aggressive features. In those day we had the feeling that The Fair Sex had lost a little bit of its original bite, so to say. We wanted to "testify" before the world that we were still able to create the Scream Of Anger, in a very purer form than TFS. Even before we wrote the first Testify-titles, we had the name for that project. So indeed there is somehow a connection between the ideology of Testify and the band name. But I don't think that band names must always reflect any visions or messages, by the way. Probably some band names came into being by mere intuition, or random, or a fey mood of the moment. So it was with The Fair Sex, if I might mention this.
DV: Crack the Mind is one of the best releases I've heard in the recent onslaught of industrial/techno metal bands. It has a more industrial/techno feel than the previous releases, which had an even more metal flavor. Do you see this as a natural progression for the band?
MJ: Thanks for appriciating our new mini-album. But you must be aware of the following fact: This piece consists of two quite different ingredients: The first five titles are new material of the band. They alone represent how Testify sounds in 1998. And those five titles might even be more metal-bound as the previous releases. And I think that will be Testify's course for the future. The last four titles are remixes by other artists, and they are quite a contrast to our new stuff: While we (at least thought to) strengthen the metal-side of Testify, all the remixers focussed on the electronic side of Testify. So the result is very interesting: Starting with track 6 the listener gets to know a totally new musicial construction, the hidden face of the band, so to say, which we would never have brought into the open in the way it was done by the remixers. And we enjoy the result! This album is a very interesting and contradictive work, because of this two-sided coin (which is the habit, as it comes to my mind now, of coins - to have two sides). So, for everyone who is looking for CD's with really two sides, this album is a MUST! (Har, Myk trying to do very smart promotion).
DV: On the new CD, songs like Violin really stand out musically and lyrically "violin so fragile and obscure/violin blue noted wizardry/violin dark violin/violin you're the pain creator." The imagery here is darkly beautiful. What is the meaning(s) behind these lyrics?
MJ: Violin indeed might stand out a bit, presenting one or two new features. The lyrics belong to these features, as you obviously have noticed. (And I'm always glad about such listeners who seem to be very deep in the matter, by the way!) For the lyrics of Violin, don't have the normal "hatred and anger"-Testify-stuff, but a theme aside these main-themes: This obscure violin is a metaphor, if you like, for something which stirrs the heart, by its softness and fragileness, by its beauty which is so great that it is beyond enduring. Beauty that in the end is creating pain, by its measurelessness. That sounds quite theatrical, eh? And I don't know why such a theme came into my mind. Wretched intuition, probably. And interpreting these lyrics with such theatrical words gives them a weight that they don't have. It's just a little trip into different matters, probably only because I had no inspiration for the good old anger-themes, when I had to sit down and invent something.
DV: Another song that stands out lyrically is "Guevarra." "We're dead alive/we're toys and slaves/of the doller-dice/with no-one to shoot us out." More compelling imagery. What (or who) in the modern world inspired this reference to Che Guevarra?
MJ: To give an interpretation to the Guevara-lyrics will bring about even more dramatical words, alas! The title is a kinda attack against the growing hollowness of this planet, especially the hollowness that is brought into being by commercialization, by the flat senseless exploitation commited by the media world. An attack against the western ideology that makes human beings into slaves of the machinery: The machinery of consumption, which ever searches for new markets, to find always new slaves, over the whole globe. Crude Kapitalism in the form of the late 20th century, as Che Guevara would have fought it, perhaps. Or would he have become a fat capitalist, if he had not been murdered? With no intention to shoot us all out of the thrall of the money?? - That is perhaps the positive aspect of being shot in a situation like his: You always stay young and angry, you become the incarnation of the of the pure-minded revolution, the violence of which is only directed against the villains the world! A modern Black Avenger, a real superhero... All these thoughts melted into the Guevara-lyrics, and I warned you before: now we have a bundle of real dramatically sounding words, including a big social-aspect. All preacher-like, and somehow phrases-like. And that is often the big advantage of the lyrics themselves compared to their interpretations: They might come out less phrases-like. I hate old phrases. And I have just given you so many of them, that I will make a little break now. In order to puke.
DV: One of the most distinguishing things about Testify is the really strong lyrical content...none of the usual "fuck this and that you stupid motherfucker" type lyrics that really don't say much, show a lack of lyrical vision, and for some reason seem to permeate the majority of industrial metal/electro releases. I believe that this alone helps separate the band, in a positive way, from other bands in the genre. Any thoughts/comments on this?
MJ: The scream against a somehow paltry world, the will to shake the audience, not to give them stupid love-and-heartache-popsongs, might result in "Fuck this and that!"-lyrics. To be honest Testify is producing nothing else but lyrics of that kind, only avoiding motherfucker-phrases. Probably only because of our vocalist who doesn't stop to burden the band with what he thinks "artistic" heavy-themes-lyrics.
DV: Is your American fanbase growing as a result of the positive MTV exposure you've received? How would you describe the differences and similarities between American fans and European fans?
MJ: That is not easy to answer. Indeed I don't know anything about a positive MTV exposure. I should look more often into our Website, or gather more information what is going with Testify in the States, eh?! And that we have fans, is new to me. Nobody ever writes us a letter, or so. And nobody ever visits us after concerts in the backstage! And now you know how paltry and boring the life of a Testifyler is!
DV: On the new disc, there are mixes by Die Krupps, Die Warzau and Plastic Noise Experience. Clearly, the band must admire the work of these fellow recording artists. What other musical influences does the band have? Any lyrical influences?
MJ: Indeed we admire their work! And at this point I want to mention the great remix of the not-so-popular-Dave, engineer in the Skyline Studio where the album was mastered: the remix of Queen Whore, track 7. A fine piece is that, as well as the others! Other musical influences? Testify do nothing but trying to copy Ministry, as the whole world knows. Lyrical influences? The main lyric writer (uh-me) would probably shout: Influences? Everything comes exclusively out off my innerst! - But only few know that he is reading Fantasy-stuff and that he copies every line he thinks to be of some value.
DV: I wish the band the best of luck in the future and I owe all of you many thanks for the pleasure of this interview. Any last words?
MJ: Thanks for your nice words! Any last word? A cool message or so? Let me think of something... Aaah! I have it! So: Don't feel burdened by weighty words I've used Go on with normal carelessness.
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