Testify

Interview by Marsha Knight


I am here with Myk from the German band Testify and there are a few other members who are not here, right? The lineup for the moment is Rascal, who is from The Fair Sex, Moses on guitar (who has been with Testify since 1993), and myself - that is the center of Testify. We have a new guitarist, Oulf, who I hope will be staying with us. Testify started as a little project, a side project of The Fair Sex. I hope it will develop more and more into a band, it's getting stronger and stronger.

So everybody else is back in Germany? Yes, this trip was not forseen even by myself up to 7 or 8 days ago. I didn't know I was coming to LA.

Many people have compared you to Ministry, would you call that an accurate comparison? Of course it is in the same direction, I could not deny this. Although when we started performing, arranging and recording our first titles in 1992, Ministry's Psalm 69 was not yet released, so I do not like it when people say, "ah, the great succes of Ministry with Psalm 69 made you perform similar projects" because this Psalm 69 was, at least for Germany, a very important release. This kind of cross-over had been made popular by that album. It was a great breakthrough for this kind of music, and because we were releasing shortly after, it was not easy - it was a bad accident for us. But nevertheless, I appreciate, of course I appreciate Ministry's work, I have no problems if anyone compares us with, or cites us as being, um, epi what's the name? Ah, never mind if anyone thinks we sound like Ministry!

I didn't think the comparison was fair - I heard your CD before reading anything about you... Epi gone! Is that an expression which exists in the American language?

Um, I don't think so. Probably it does not exist? In Germany, it is epi gone. (I don't know how this is spelled - I couldn't find anyone else who had ever heard this expression. -ed)

How else would you say it? If you try to be exactly like your idol.

Imitate? Imitate! Epi gone - that's a German word for imitator.

And that's our German lesson for today.
I was listening to your Ballroom Killer - The Blitzkrieg Mixes ep, and you covered the Sweet song "Ballroom Blitz". Whose idea was that - how did that come about?
To cover "Ballroom Blitz"?

It's a strange song to decide to cover. Yes! But you see, if you mention it like that, on the other hand it's a good idea. The contrast of such a teeny-bop pop song, to bring it into the '90s but in fact it was not my idea. I never liked Sweet, to be honest. It would have never occurred to my mind to try such a thing, but Moses happened to be a Sweet fan in the early '80s, and it had been in his mind toake a cover of this particular title "Ballroom Blitz". He suggested the idea and we accepted, and said, okay let's try it. We had two options, to make it similar to the original, and then to ruin it a little bit more; so we have two versions of this title.

I was noticing you don't have any songs in German. Have you done anything with German lyrics? No, not yet. We have never made any title with German lyrics. Perhaps we'll do it, I've never thought about it really. Don't know why. For me, the English language is more suitable for industrial music. It's harder to put German words into a musical background. We'll try it one day.

You were mentioning The Fair Sex before... tell me a little bit about them, how they influence Testify and vice versa. Concerning Testify, we had reached a point in 1992 where it was hard to handle. We did not know what direction we were going, and dissatisfied with the German 1992 release Spell of Joy. I don't know if you have heard it, but there is an American release called Machine Bites.

I have it, it's very good! Oh, thank you very much! Many of the titles from Machine Bites are taken from the European album Spell of Joy. But we're not so satisfied, it seems they lost a bit of our bite, sharpness, our aggressive mood, which were found on earlier Fair Sex albums. It was very smooth, keyboard like. So for 1992 we wanted a break, to make something differend, more harsh, more aggressive, more peaks, more bites. So then Testify came about. It was in the beginning to have a break from The Fair Sex, to try something else, to bring out a little bit of this emotion burning inside, not that flabby stuff from Spell of Joy. But of course, if you like it, I appreciate that. There are great titles on Machine Bites and on Spell of Joy.

So how would you describe the sound of The Fair Sex to everyone else? The sound of The Fair Sex, that's not easy. To me it's quite arrogant, quite unique. It's a meld of many features which we rob from everywhere and combine. This combination of musical features I haven't found anywhere else, to be honest. It's strange. Which doesn't make it any easier for us—many say The Fair Sex is "made of flesh", or to use another German expression, "we are sitting between all chairs". Which means you do not belong to this direction or that direction, but you are somewhere in the middle. That makes it not easy for us. It's quite unique, it's not as harsh as other stuff, it's more atmospheric. It has more melody, but there are some harsh parts. Probably you haven't heard it yet, the new The Fair Sex. On this record you can plainly see that the contrast is widespread. There are fragile, almost ballad-like titles, and again, on the other side some titles sharper with more bite, which I am happy about.

I like the combination on Machine Bites. I hope you like the new album, Labyrinth, as well, or even better I hope. I like it better because it has more of everything.

(it certainly does have more of everything - I was graced with a copy of Labyrinth upon completion of this interview, and, well, I wish I had some of the drugs Myk was on when he wrote this! A truly thought-provoking, mesmerizing cyberopera - similar in style to early Skinny Puppy but with more continuity. Bravo!)

How would you describe the sound of Testify? Oh, I don't know, it sounds like Testify!

The guitars are very metallic, very hard. They should be metallic, even in "Ballroom Blitz", which is a pop song. There are metal guitars and screaming, but it remains that some of the pop song is coming through.

How was it working with "Fluffy" Auerbach (engineer from Ministry, Skinny Puppy, and countless others)? You see, we have not worked with him, that is seen him personally. We have sent him the material and he worked with it. We corresponded by fax and telephone. I hope we will work with him more this year so we can perhaps meet him in person! The results of his work are great! "Spoil (the wingtip mix)" is my personal favorite.

I like the "Ride the Fuck Me and Stop" mix. That's another great track. On the album, it's a very slow number, it's half-time; here we have taken it double-time, which makes it quite different from the original.

Do you plan to tour the States - either Testify or The Fair Sex? We hope so. There are plans concerning The Fair Sex on tour in autumn, a package tour with other European electro-bands. Perhaps Leaetherstrip or Project Pitchfork. We are not quite sure of the status right now. As for Testify, I hope we will in the next century!

How do you work together in a creative sense, and who has what influences over certain aspects of a song? How does a song come into being? Concerning Testify, first we start out sampling the guitars, and recording guitar riffs, until we have quite a pool of many ideas. Then we take the best pieces and re-arrange them through the synthesizers, sampling, drum machines, and bass lines.

Is there anything else you would like to add? Oh, I'm so tired and lethargic! And thoughts of Angelyne have puzzled me. So nothing comes to my mind again.
Except Angelyne.(for those not in the LA area, Angelyne is the peroxide-haired silicon postergirl who purchases billboards for her own picture and cruises the city in her Barbie-pink Corvette -ed) It was a very nice day, talking to you was very nice and I look forward to going to this Stigmata club. I will enjoy my last two days in LA, and meet Angelyne in her pink Corvette!


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