Hello this is Myk, vox of Testify, doing this interview.
What news can we include in the article that will be relevant to readers in November and beyond?
Myk: Hhhhm, Novemder and beyond... I am sure that we will be working on new material, at least gathering ideas, writing new songs... Kullv (guitar) and myself, moreover will be drinking German beer, very likely, while gazing into November fog down in the valley of Neandhertal. A vision of real hopelessness, believe me!
Almost every review we read mentions Ministry, if not NIN or both. Was that really the point of moving from goth to industrial? Or are the comparisons latent or after-the-fact? In other words, did you set out in any way to be a "Ministry-type" band?
Myk: I very much admire NIN, so I ought to be pleased to be compared with NIN, especially because I think that Testify's Industrial Metal is somewhat different from Trent Raznor's sound-constructions. The nearness to Ministry can't be denied; indeed when we started in 1992, we did not lose sight of Ministry's activities which had some influence on us. (Though I should mention that Testify is older than the legendary "Psalm 69" album of which I must ever read that it has influenced us massively).
Flipping through tracks from albums past to present, we notice a trend towards "heaviness"... if that's what you can call it. Guitars come more to the front, synth fades a bit, perhaps noise samples are more prevalent. One thing that stays the same is tempo. Testify seems to hold to a slow grinding beat of the sort that headbangers and drunk ravers pray for.That's our appraisal... what would be yours? ...and what were the motivations for those progressive moves?
Myk: Yes, the trend to more heavyness, being manifested, so to say, by the growing thickness of guitar-sound, for example, is indeed a feature of our development. It is something that we had in mind to reach, a process we kind of planned.
Similarly, you are described as a "speed" or "aggro" industrial band, yet speed really plays no part in your sound, which remains slow, dark and introspective. In a world where metal has gone "nu" and consequently faster and more bass-driven, how does Testify fit into the mix.
Myk: I appriciate your diving into the depth of our discography - but some of the older Testify-works you have perhaps not listened to yet. The first album, "01", for example is indeed full of very speedy, very raw material, mostly beyond the 200 bpm-limit. Even on "MMMYAOOOO", our second full-length-release, you find very speedy tracks such as "Pink Goblins" or "Trash 21". But whereas tash 21". But whereas the metal scene in general may develop into the direction of more speedy stuff, Testify indeed may walk a path of their own - growing more slow and dark. That is the way that we personally develop.
What parts of life go into writing a Testify track? Reactions to what? Frustrations with what? Or does it come purely from imagination?
Myk: There is something eating in us, of which we not always know the source. Dissatisfaction about what this life offers. Frustration about the very fabric of human life - and a great amount of personal anger: I think that the results of our creativity reflects a bit of all these features. For some reason we feel that we can't be satisfied.
What are your thoughts on the above direction of metal today, and what has happened to the phenomenon bands like Ministry or Skinny Puppy stumbled across 'round the Psalm 69 days?
Myk: Indeed it might be that for me, personally, the two bands mentioned above mean more than recent trends - whereas for some other band members it might be the other way round. Perhaps we should not be that careless about modern trends, but on the other hand: We are best in exactly doing what we do. However: terms like "retro" I do not appriciate very much, and I'm not someone always clinging to the past. Let's wait how things will develop further-on.
Tell us a little about your move to Van Richter and how that is helping in your aim to infiltrate the American market. Can we expect some of your own tours, or link-ups with the various circuit tour beasts that now enjoy such "Triviality Beyond Acceptance" (if you'll excuse the pun).
Myk: From a German label we moved to Van Richter in order to step into US scene- do you think our aim has been to infiltrate the American market? Nice expression. And a worthy aim. Yet the strategy of what will follow after now releasing "Triviality Beyond Acceptance" still has to be worked out.
Do you often encounter foreign stereotypes of Germans when abroad? Like what German phrases do you get yelled at you, or silly uninformed questions asked by people or fans you meet?
Myk: There are not that many stereotypes that were yelled at us; but I must admit that I know of some stereotypes - for example that Germans were asked whether the Nazi-phenomenon is still very important or if we ourselves have a close relationship to phenomenons like this - which of course is something we utterly reject, being more sort of left-wing-guys.
You've often railed about Germany and the "techno" reputation its music scene generally carries. Do you find it difficult to shed that preconception? Do people view you first as Germans and second as a band?
Myk: I think they view us first as band, luckily. But with no doubt the "technoid" image of German music sometimes is hanging like a vast shadow upon us, and sometimes we have to explain why Testify is not a pure EBM-band. The features of electronics in our contructions will always be quite countered by other elements such as guitars etc. That's our ideology, and this should not be shattered by the fact where we come from.
For those of us who never had the opportunity to get a taste for German life... what would you say are the best bits about growing up/going out/entertaining oneself in German life? Conversely, what are the downfalls?
Myk: First of all you should get the taste of German beer - sorry kind of misplaced joke... I think that Germany is quite a liberal, cool place to live, to work. The scene is interesting and alive enough to entertain oneself. And it is closely connected to the surrounding countrie's scenes. The European view to things.
Is there a home-country stigma placed on bands who try to focus on outside markets like America? Any feeling of pride among local German bands that they want to promote their own scene in their own country, and down with the ones who desert it for greener pastures? ...just curious.
Myk: I don't think that such "patriotic"/ schemes are really important. It is cool to be present in Germany, and crossing the borders to foreign regions ought to be cool as well. It is important not to lose your own way of handling music and philosophies; everything else should not matter that much.
Perhaps nowadays when we think about German music, we hear more about bands like Rammstein or Alec Empire. Would you say there is any pressure or "influence" (if you want to call it that) to follow what's current, or as you've said in interviews before, are you content "waiting for the 15-year revival" and sticking to the sound you want to make?
Myk: That is something we have stated? I just can't recall, but I think I still can relate to that statement. We keep on being faithful to the music we personally prefer. Yet 15 years is a long period of time in rock music. I'm astonished that we planned in such long circles of time. 12 years of waiting should be enough.
Where have you toured, and which are your favorite destinations in general?
Myk: Mostly we toured exclusively thru regions of Mid-Europe. There were several experiences we enjoyed very much, but I cannot say that we have a favorite destination, only favorite events that sometimes cannot be repeated/ in the same location.
Does this "brave new world" and all it's hiked security and nationalism stand in your way as a touring band? What difficulties does the "new" situation pose, and what do you think about the whole mess?
Myk: If indeed the development grows further-on into directions of stronger nationalism, atmospheres of fears and /diverging/ cultures, then it would be a fatal evolution which should be fought. I hope that "brave new world" attitudes will shrink again.
Furthermore, since our roots are in Japan, we'll ask: Have you ever played there? And what's your impression?
Myk: Regretably we were never there. I hope that this will change some future day.
We count five albums... are we missing anything, or are only a portion released in the U.S.? ...we just want to be accurate in telling readers what's available.
Myk: The US releases were:1994: "001"1995: "BallroomKiller"1996: "MMMYAOOOO" 1998: "Crack The Mind" and now: "Triviality Beyond Acceptance" (I think every work is still available)
The Fair Sex still selling? Do you find fans of the old carrying over into the new? And how do you feel about that?
Myk: The Fair Sex is just about to start anew. I think people interested in TFS will be old fans, as well as new. But that has to be confirmed by the near future.
As a band, do you only practice/write/record together, or is there a deeper bond with the current line-up? What sort of things do you get up to when you're not "working"?
Myk: Of course there are deeper bonds. Kullf (guitar) and Myk spent many nights of severe drinking, and the other join in not too seldom. Some of the guys I work with I already know since schoooldays that are long since past.
Regarding this novel Myk wrote... "Lord of the Earrings" (was mentioned in some interview he did). What is the story behind it and in it, and as I assume it is a play on the Tolkien explosion going on right now, what kind of comment are you making by putting out a novel at this time? Is it in any way related to the band, or just a personal project?
Myk: This is a personal project of myself. Indeed it is a parody/ on Tolkien's book, kind of slapstick fantasy. I wrote it in 1999, before I knew about the big Tolkien explosion, but I released it last year, perhaps, wicked-minded asI am, to share in that explosion. I indeed plan to translate the novel into English language, and then it will be "The Lord Of The Earrings". So far there is only the German version: "Der Herr Der Ohrringe" (as a little translation lesson now)
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