InSoc Interview: 08/97

Interviewer: So, it's been 5 years since the last Information Society album, what have you been up to?

Kurt: I've been working on the new album, which is due out 09/23. I've also been doing music for video games. One of the songs on the new album ("Don't Be Afraid") is being used in a game. (Ozar)

Interviewer: In 1992, when "Peace and Love, Inc." (a great album, I must add) came out, the music scene was changing. Nirvana and the whole grunge movement was taking over the airwaves. Also, your label at the time, Tommy Boy, started signing on more hip-hop acts. Did the band feel somewhat displaced?

Kurt: Yes. But we never really fit on Tommy Boy. One far edge of what we did overlapped with another far edge of what Tommy Boy did, for a while. Beyond that, we always were about something different from what Tommy Boy was about. I'm not saying they didn't like us. Tom Silverman, the owner, liked us a lot and really wanted to push what we were doing. In the end, though, it just got to be to divergent and therefore inefficient for them to keep on doing our albums.

Interviewer: Right now, bands such as Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers seem to have brought "electronic"-based music into the mainstream. Do you think that "electronic"-music will be the "next big thing?" Does this change your outlook for the future?

Kurt: Whee. Let me see... is this the 6th or the 7th time I've heard that since we started being an all-electronic act in 1982...?
   I believe that this is what will happen: Although there is currently a validly definable genre which you could call "Electronica", and that the labels want to sell it to the record-buying public, by the time the labels have quantified and defined it in a way which can be sold at Best Buy, they will have lost the disctinction between it and "techno", and at that point everyone will lose interest. I mean, remember The Shamen? They're electronic, and their songs started coming out in at LEAST 1991... was THAT Electronica, or was it techno? Remember Howard Jones? Remember Art Of Noise? Remember Kraftwerk? Remember Buchla? I think the labels will all drop this "Electronica" thing so fast it will make your head spin, and they'll do it within 12 months. That's about the minimum time it would take a new band to change their direction to accomodate the new trend, write new songs, record them, get them to a label and get signed. Just as they wrote their names on the paper, the label would drop thm and say that Electronica was last years news, and couldn't they try doing something with a more Nebraska Corn-Rock Rap kind of feel? Start all over again....
   Electronic instruments do affect the music produced with them, just like any other instrument. As a "genre" however, I doubt it will ever achieve a solid enough definition to count for much. Watch. In 9 months, everyone in the record industry will be saying "It's just techno again.", and they'll be off to chase Russian Reggae, or spoken word, or whatever. If I were a label, I'd invest in white rap masquerading as "spoken word". Like Cottonmouth Texas.

Interviewer: It's always seemed to me that InSoc was obsessed with technology - do you agree (or am I being an idiot - for which I apologize)?

Kurt: I really don't konw what "obsessed with technology" means. But I can guess, and assuming my guess is right, I'd say entertained, not obsessed. I like and respect newer technologies, but I don't revere or worship them. I revere music, and my gear merely suits my needs and personality better than pianos and guitars, it doesn't make me different from other musicians.

Interviewer: Do you ever fear that critics may see a new InSoc album as a "cash-in" on the "electronic movement?"

Kurt: Uhhh... That would really make me mad. Critics were confused about what those "black boxes" were on our stage show in 1982, which, near as I can tell, was about 14 years before anyone ever used the term "electronic movement".

Interviewer: InSoc really isn't a band anymore is it? You are Information Society...have you thought about recuiting new members?

Kurt: Well, you need to make a distinction between the live show and the business of making albums. I'm the only one who owns the band, I make the decisions, and I make the records only with a producer. But there will be people I hire and pay a weekly salary to be the touring group. There will be some turnover, but I HOPE that they'll all be with me for a long time. One of them is my brother, and I'm sure he'll be on stage with me for as long as I do shows. Interviewer: Speaking of band members, do you still communicate with Paul Robb or James Cassidy?

Kurt: Yeah, we talk. Actually, Paul is managed by my manager. Jim sort of disappeared. He didn't continue in the music industry after he quit InSoc. Paul did. (

Interviewer: Ex-bandmate Paul Robb wrote and produced much of InSoc's back catalog, was it odd not working with him on "Don't Be Afraid?"

Kurt: Odd? Uh... No? I can say this: It was great being the only person besides the producer. Paul and I disagreed on everything, and it made the process of making a record very painful for both of us. I'm glad that's over.

Interviewer: What was it like working with Steve Seibold, and how much influence did he have on your work?

Kurt: It was wonderful. It was undoubtably the best experience I have ever had working on music with another person. It was the first time I'd been in the studio with someone who was really on my same wavelength. Also, with only me "in" the band, there was a very simple power structure to deal with. Steve really understood and liked the kind of music I wanted to do, and he was able to add exactly the stuff I had trouble doing myself.

Interviewer: You seem to interact with your fans a lot more than other bands do, after all, not many bands create their own websites and allow fans to email them. (this isn't really a question, but a confirmation, isn't it?) Has fan support kept you going?

Kurt: Really? Well... Then other bands are either behind the times or foolish. Our culture has to a large extent transcended the remote-icon-worship phase, and I believe it's moved into what I would call the distributed-access-fame phase. What I mean is that although I sometimes worry that too much personal visibility will destroy my appeal and make people disinterested, (this DOES happen...) it is more true that I can generate a loyal network of people who support the band partially because they feel that they're taking a small part in a community that has formed around the band. This would be impossible without the internet. It would have been impossible on our first album, even.
   It is now possible to both appear to be a "famous artist" and yet have homey chats with just about anyone. The reason for this is precisely the impersonal barriers that internet communication throws up as compared to meeting in person or talking on the phone. It is impractical, time-consuming and dangerous to put your home phone number on your album or let people come to your house when they write a fan letter. E-mail and IRC, on the other hand, are virtually effortless for me, and really give people a sense of connection with the band. HTML documents ("The Web") can distribute information and advertising that would have cost MILLIONS only 10 years ago. I mean, 10 years ago, how else besides expensive advertising could you possibly make up to 10 million people aware of your band? I believe that helps me.

Interviewer: Why did you decided to sign to Cleopatra? How are they treating you?

Kurt: They were the only label that wanted me. They're ok.

Interviewer: The initial reaction to the material on "Don't Be Afraid" is that's much darker than InSoc's previous work. Do you agree, and if so, what can this be attributed to?

Kurt: Yes, that's accurate. It is attributable to the fact that that was ALWAYS the kind of stuff that came naturally to me, but that when I was doing the band with Paul, I was trying to follow his vision of what InSoc should be. Artists who follow can never perform as well as artists who lead.

Interviewer: Why did you decide to cover Gary Numan's "Are Friends Electric?" (i know that you answer this question in the website, i just need it "for the record.") And have you heard any other cover the ones by Nancy Boy or the Replicants?

Kurt: 1. - It's my favorite song of all time.
   2. - In 1993, when I first recorded my version of it, I felt the time was right for covers of Gary Numan songs. I told everyone that this was the case, and no one believed me. Now look. Sigh.

Interviewer: There was recently an '80's flashback on MTV, where they showed you and Paul sitting down, having a chat with good ol' Downtown Julie Brown. Do you ever reminisce about "the old days?"

Kurt: "Reminisce"? Not really. I wasn't as comfortable with being in a band then as I am now.

Interviewer: How does it make you feel when all that some people remember of InSoc is "What's On Your Mind?" (Even though you've done LOTS of great stuff since then).

Kurt: It doesn't make me feel anything. This is the case because of radio and MTV. So what? They heard the song, they saw the video, they chose not to buy the album, but they remember hearing the song. That's not a problem.

Interviewer: Any plans for the future? A single? A tour?

Kurt: Like I said, new album - 09/23. Touring is in the works, but I can't yet say exactly when. I will say though, that it will be the best InSoc live show ever. I'm not using any tapes. All live, all electronic, NO DAT.