InSoc Interview: 07/97 - Keyboard magazine.

In 1990, Kurt Harland told us to "think about it". In '93, he and his bandmates thought about it and went their separate ways. This year, Kurt and Information Society are back, and doing it his way.

"In 1988, Information Society was three people" says Harland, "Paul Robb, Jim Cassidy, and I." In '93, Paul and Jim reached a point where they no longer wanted to do the band, and I still did. When I was in the band with them, it was something that we did together - which means that it wasn't exactly what I wanted to do or what they wanted to do. Now I'm doing what I want to do. It's unlikely I'll be in the Top 40 now, but you'll be able to buy the album and know that you're getting something more original."

After previewing a few of the new songs, I'm convinced that Kurt's description of today's Information Society is on target. "High drama, bombast with madness, beauty and power." It'll be half very driving, intense music and half overly dramatic experimental stuff."

A large part of the new sound comes from Kurt's sound-designing prowess; he beta-tests for Sonic Foundry. " A third to half of the work is designing the actual sounds." he explains. "You get the sound in the sampler, you pull it into your computer, you mess with it in Sound Forge, think about it, and you go through lists of sounds. It took me five months to design the database for all my sounds."

Speaking of samplers, Kurt uses "two Akai S-1000's and one S-1100. We also use a couple of drum machines and the [Kurzweil] K-2000 Orchestral ROM sounds. {note: I used the Roland JV-880 a lot, too, and loved it.} A Mackie 32/8 and 1604 are the choices for mixing. Interestingly, the heart of his system is a homemade computer. "I'm a real modular type of computer user," says Kurt. "I buy the parts, and I build it for my needs. At the moment, the motherboard is a P90, but I want to get a P200.

In addition to their heavy reliance on Sound Forge, Kurt and company use "this really old but beloved DOS-based, no-graphics sequencer called Sequencer Plus Gold by Voyetra. And here in the studio, Steve [producer Steve Seibold of Hate Dept.] uses Cakewalk Pro Audio." Harland describes Seibold as "an unbelievable sound designer." {note: Actually, I think Steve said that about ME}


Information Society's first '97 release is a remake of the Gary Numan classic "Are 'Friends' Electric?" on Cleopatra records. "It's probably my favorite song in the world," Kurt confides. When asked why he chose an indie to release this work, he said pointedly, "The major labels didn't want it, but I think they'll change their minds. Indies like Cleopatra understand what I'm trying to do, but they have limited power to fund me. I've been caught between a lack of interest from the people who can fund me and a lack of funds from the people who are interested in me. It doesn't matter, I'm just paying for it myself."


Harland's main source of funding comes from his tours. "one of the advantages of having a substantial track record behind me," he explains, "is that I was able to go to Brasil and do a tour specifically to get the album on budget. I'd rather go to the record labels and say, "Here, this is done. Do you want it?"

Look for more live dates in the future. And not just any tour, it will be "the kind of show we've never done before," he promises. "I need to do the album and live show the way I always wanted to make it - at least once." Kurt's vision of the new show is "all-electronic, all live, no tapes, no sequencers. I'm hoping to have five people onstage, including me, with each person having their own setup using drum pads and keyboards. There will be lots of movement."


Harland has irons in other fires, as well. "I like to go back and forth between working on the band and working on music for video games. I did a SeGa Genesis game called X-Men 2 - The Clone Wars; then they had me do a CD version of the music for LaserLight to release. I also did music for a game called BALLZ3DO, and a SeGa Genesis cartridge called Nightmare Circus. When I'm finished with the album I'll be doing another [video game] project. It's really necessary if you're in a band to have something else to give you balance and perspective.

- Robert Semrow