SNOG, Black Lung, Soma, an experimental movie that has only been screened in Italy (i.e. ‘The Andronechron Incident‘) and a crime film (i.e. ‘The Hard Word‘). If you are wondering what is the thread that holds all these elements together, it takes the form of musician who answers to the name of David Thrussell. This is a musician with an acute social perceptiveness who has the ability to mix a myriad of ideas in such a similar way that a painter mixes colours to create a new one. It is interesting that where an idea is hinted in the music of Black Lung, it is quite clearly revealed through a song by SNOG. So in the end one should listen to the music of both projects in order to get a grasp of the intended message. At the same time if you think that each song by SNOG deals with only one issue at a time, then you must prepare yourself for a serious ‘roller coaster’. One could say that David Thrussell through all his projects, ‘copies’ the way media are bombarding us with information, in order to raise our awareness about the (intentionally?) hidden aspects of this information and the complexity of our lives. The trigger for developing an interest in a musical project can either be the richness of references in the music and lyrics or perhaps equally a seemingly absence of such richness. I managed to somehow crystallize all the hints that have been offered by David Thrussell, since 1992, when I saw both SNOG and Black Lung perform live at the 24th WGT in Leipzig.  Ahead of the release of yet another exciting SNOG album called ‘Compliance’ in three days’ time (October 16, 2015) David Thrussell (DT) talked to Blauerosen about the cynicism of the word ‘compliance’, Noam Chomsky, eastern philosophy, what time is best to listen to a Black Lung album, Jello Biafra, the upcoming album and of course so many other things. So pick your favourite album by Black Lung or SNOG and as you listen to it make sure that you read carefully what is contained within the lines as well as what is between them! It was a great pleasure to talk to David Thrussell and we can’t be more impatient to listen to ‘Compliance’ later this week.

Snog--press pic 2013 3Blauerosen: First of all let me start by saying that it’s a pleasure talking to you. I like the music that you have released especially because there are so many references in it. From the covers, to the lyrics, the sounds and the influences, each album deals with so many things at the same time that I feel as if I am opening an encyclopaedia about life in the 21st century. Snog are preparing the release of a new album in October which will be entitled ‘Compliance’. This title is evidently different from most of the other SNOG albums and it intrigues me as, from what I have understood, ‘compliance’ is a word that few people would expect to be used by SNOG. Can you talk to us a little bit about this new album and its concept?

DT: Hello Nadia, it’s also a pleasure. Well, ‘Compliance’ is a word that I became very interested in, I guess, a few years back. I found it interesting that a word (that appears to me to be quite distinctly negative/sinister even) was evolving in a faintly Orwellian way to be quite acceptable or even desirable. People often wanted to be ‘compliant’. Buildings and practices must be ‘compliant’. All of a sudden a dark word became ‘rehabilitated’. People, in fact, wanted desperately to be ‘compliant’. Perhaps I found it represented our human devolution in a humble, small way. In Melbourne, Australia there is an enormous government building called ‘Civic Compliance’ (a name so frightening that it is simultaneously almost funny) where people go to pay fines and government fees/extortion. So at some point I decided that the next SNOG album would be called ‘Compliance’, I can’t really explain why, but the word does fascinate me. And the title track was actually written after the album was named. I think the album is quite different for us, not quite the grand and intricate production that the last two albums have been, a bit more DIY and modest/simple. I wanted to strip things back a little, simplify, and construct electronic Cabaret songs with just drum machines and simple synths. A reaction our own larger productions and a desire to make simple but strong music. And I realised that really, I want SNOG to be a kind of Electro-Cabaret, or at least what I think Cabaret is (honestly I’m no expert) but what my feeling or impression of Cabaret is. After the album was finished I studied Cabaret a little more (to diminish my ignorance!) and I read the book “Voluptuous Panic’ which was fascinating. Also perhaps a little of the rough DIY attitude supposedly of original punk, but filtered an odd Cabaret band from outback Australia.

Blauerosen:Earlier this year SNOG and Black Lung released a compilation album ( ‘A Curious & Exotic Journey Into Sound &Philosophy’) which featured Veruschka (who provided backing vocals for SNOG in the past, Pankow, a favourite Italian band and Hecq ).This album was released by your own label Omni Recording Corporation. This is the first joint album of Snog and Black Lung. What prompted this joint release?

PrintDT: For some time I had wanted to do a release of unknown and unreleased SNOG and Black Lung material that didn’t quite make it to ‘proper’ albums. Then, when we knew we were playing at WGT our French label (MTronic) proposed a joint release and I thought it would be perfect – I already had most of the track list worked out in my mind. So although some of the songs are recorded years apart, some quite old, some very new, I think it held together quite well, and presented a different side of what we do.

BlauerosenSo far the releases by SNOG and Black Lung (your second band) almost coincide, should we expect a new album by Black Lung as well soon?

DT: Black Lung has already released 3 albums within the last year or so. While they have been successful, honestly I’m a bit exhausted and will take a break from Black Lung for quite a while to ‘re-charge’ my spiritual/philosophical ‘batteries’.

BlauerosenWith Black Lung I noticed that lately you are moving more and more away from melody and embrace simple minimal/industrial rhythms. The last album ‘Muzak From The Hive Mind’ was almost non-music. It sounded similar to the music of John Cage. At the same time observing the releases of SNOG I noticed that the atmosphere of my favourite album ‘Buy Me…I’ll change your life’ and the fascination with the music of Johnny Cash and Lee Hazlewood that this album brought with it, have not been replicated. Do you already know which directions the bands will follow in the near future? Should we assume that there will be no another album like ‘Buy Me…’I’ll Change Your Life’?

DT: I’m glad you like ‘Buy Me…I’ll Change Your Life’, at the time we recorded that album a lot of people thought it was a crazy idea to make this electronic/roots/country/folk hybrid record-thing (whatever it actually is). Quite a few people told me it would be a failure for sure. But, nevertheless it was exactly what I wanted to do – and so we forged ahead into the abyss. I never try to predict or plan an album, I just feel that the songs are like little people or souls that we have a duty to bring into the world in the best and most appropriate garb we can. The songs are like small animals that will scurry out of our hands and run off into the woods. We are here simply to help them be born. Well, you know, I love ‘Muzak From The Hive Mind’ as an album. It should be listened to at 4am in the dark, with all the lights off. Then it will make sense. The truth is, I have no idea what comes next.

BlauerosenDo you have plans for a European or an American tour? Is London, a town where you would like to perform?

DT: It looks like there will be a SNOG U.S. tour April 2016. No further plans for Europe or the U.K. after WGT at this time. Yes of course we would like to perform in London sometime but there are no concrete plans at this stage.

BlauerosenFans of Black Lung and SNOG had a unique opportunity to see you perform with both projects in the 24th Wave Gotik Treffen this year. I enjoyed both of these completely different (in terms of atmosphere) shows, very much. I also had the chance to see clearly the conceptual difference between these bands. Did you enjoy the festival? Which of the two shows did you enjoy the most?SNOG live @ WGT 2015

DT: Hard to say which I enjoyed the most, both are so different. SNOG, the deep, earthy songs of the human soul squeezed through machines into the crumbling technological world. Black Lung – the machines themselves speaking from the depths of their hearts to those closed human ears that simply aren’t listening at all. Because both projects birth so differently (SNOG often starts with the lyrics – too much so maybe and Black Lung often starts with pure sound – an experiment or mistake captured) I can’t really compare them too much. Like children you can perhaps recognise their differences , but not really choose between them.

BlauerosenSNOG is a multifaceted, complex, project which during gigs, offers an intense experience at many levels to the audience. Being in the audience at Volkspalast in Leipzig, I noticed people being mesmerized by the rhythms and at the same time being evidently confused by the lyrics, especially with your last song called ‘Al Qaeda Is Your Best Friend’. Did you notice this and if yes what do you have to say about the reaction of the audience?

DT: Honestly, no I didn’t notice this confusion in the audience. But if there was confusion I am glad of it – so much music is just so predictable and is really like sonic masturbation – giving people exactly what they want, when they want it. I could not be happier if people are confused by the lyrics – questions and doubts are good – perhaps a conversation is possible, not just sugar for the sweet addicts.

BlauerosenAs SNOG you provide quite explicit sexual references both on stage and through the lyrics in some songs. I remember that, except from you, the three other musicians that were on stage, were wearing whole body PVC uniforms. Is you aim to shock your audience by singing songs such as ‘The Cocksucker Blues’, ‘Spermy Man’ or is this and the stage appearance, a cynical comment towards the sex industry?

DT: Well none of those really. I would be surprised if a PVC outfit would shock anybody really? Actually we were thinking of slavery and bondage, I’m a little obsessed with the concept of slavery, because I think really we are all slaves (despite the hype about individualism/consumerism etc etc). Psychic slaves, slaves to materialism, slaves to destructive pattens, slaves to banks, slaves to habit, slaves to the dominant paradigm, slaves to trauma and slaves to history. I wonder whether slavery is the natural human condition, or whether we were breed to be slaves or live in a vast psychic prison.

BlauerosenAs Black Lung you appeared on stage wearing a pig’s mask. What is the symbolism behind this?

DT: The choice of Pig Mask was pure intuition. Perhaps a tinge of Gerald Scarfe or Animal Farm. I do just like the idea of a loud, intense concert delivered by a pig. The noise of the slaughterhouse as performed by the pig. I guess this really is the BL_1sound of Black Lung. Sleek Slaughter-house ambience for the post-capitalist post-human collapse.

BlauerosenYou have said that you stopped your training as an artist in order to be fully devoted to music. The albums of SNOG remind me of the paintings of pop artists who were very critical about mass production, advertisement and the overall vanity of the promoted lifestyle in the late 1950s.Have you done any other non music related art projects throughout the years? Have you ever felt that music cannot express a particular idea or feeling and that another art form could do this?

DT: Well since I quit art school, music has kept me very very busy. I guess I have recorded some spoken word albums and I do have a heavy hand in the visual presentation of Snog and Black Lung (for better or for worse!) but I do miss having the time and opportunity to concentrate on visual art. I guess I have written a smattering of short stories and film projects over the years but never had the time to do much more. I think that music is a particularly singular, flexible and effective art form (to a point) but of course you can’t really distill ‘The Exegesis Of Phillip K. Dick’ into a 4 minute pop song.

snog_3BlauerosenYou have said in the past that if you ruled the world you would enforce complete nudity. Do you think that clothes complicate things?

DT: I do like nudity – in theory and practise. There is something attractive about removing the tribal and status uniforms and levelling people out to just the body and spirit (as long as the climate permits). And of course I always liked Jello Biafra’s idea that all policemen should be naked and businessmen wear clown suits.

BlauerosenIn your album ‘Dear Valued Customer’ you have mentioned N.Chomsky in the acknowledgments. Could you share with us how he contributed to this album or your thinking perhaps?

DT: Noam Chomsky’s analytical deconstruction of institutional iniquity has always been compelling and his recent apocalyptic turn entertaining and empathic, but he (along with most ‘Left Gatekeepers’ – notably aside from Gore Vidal) is probably too comfortable in the bureaucratic fabric, too invested in the ‘politically correct’ status quo or too unimaginative to really deeply and profoundly critique the post-capitalist juggernaut. Personally, I apply this litmus test to any source, publication or person’s opinions – if they violently adhere to the mainstream paradigm of the JFK assassination or the 9/11 attacks then they are lacking in intellectual, historic and political vigour.

BlauerosenIn the Black Lung album entitled ‘The Depopulation bomb’ there was an extract of a speech by Donald MacArthur about a specific research program. Could you share with us how his ideas have influenced your music and the sound of this album in particular?

DT: There probably isn’t really room here – but briefly – a cursory examination of history and recent events would most likely lead one to the conclusion that the greater mass of humankind are sheep – or cattle – led to slaughter, captivity or vivisection by an overlord class of ideological and fiscal vampires. A war is being waged against humankind – but we are ourselves are mostly unaware of it – blinded by baubles, distractions and broadcasts. I guess you could describe the sound of ‘The Depopulation Bomb’ as ‘paranoid electronics’. But it is a resolutely justified paranoia. And it is the sound of that silent war – transmuted into rhythm and shuddering soundscape.

BlauerosenIn your albums, both as Black Lung and Snog, we notice references to eastern philosophy and martial arts through samples that we hear within the songs (i.e. ‘Somatime’, ‘Dear Valued Customer’, ‘The Bilderberg Group’).Do you find inspiration in eastern philosophy and if yes, which aspects do you find more interesting?

DT: I’m no expert on Eastern philosophy and mostly I have a lay person’s understanding of it – but some aspects are definitely attractive of course – the Hindu and Buddhist invocations to detach from the material and simply witness events are attractive certainly on one level – perhaps they are the best the lamb can hope for as it enters the slaughterhouse? Other traditions (Gnosticism, Sufism et. al.) also promulgate useful departures from the mainstream of religious thought (hence why they are probably nearly extinct!). But of course, surely every tradition or school of thought needs to be evaluated on its merits not just on its perceived authority? While many traditions have kernels of wisdom, all institutions are by their nature corrupt and simply exist ultimately to perpetuate themselves.

BlauerosenIs the song ‘The Illuminanti’ making reference to the Illuminati and if yes could you share with us what aspects of this organization or masonic sects in general you find inspirational/interesting?

DT: Naturally secret orders/brotherhoods are interesting. Though from the outside they, of course, appear exclusionist and perhaps sinister, from the inside no doubt they seem fraternal and possibly necessary for the ‘saving of seeds’ – germane ancients ideas and practices preserved in ritual and esoterica. Whether they are truly ways to preserve knowledge, provide a locus for professional boosterism or sinister machinations, I have no way of knowing – probably some combination of all those aspects I would suspect.snog_2

BlauerosenThis song ‘The Illuminanti’ has no lyrics and its samples bring to mind the music of old computer games. Is this just my idea or is there a symbolism in this?

DT: Like all these songs, there was never a grand plan, just ‘intuition’ – would be the most generous description you could use (or chance/accident), though now you mention it, conflating The Illuminati with computerisation, mechanisation and control through the use of those sounds does indeed seem quietly appropriate.

BlauerosenYou have said that at the beginning the Australian media were behaving in an alienated manner towards SNOG because they found the music to be ‘…too weird…’. Has this changed throughout the years?

DT: The Australian media has no interest in Snog, and we in turn also have no interest in the Australian media. The love (or lack thereof) is profoundly mutual.

BlauerosenWhat do you think about Australia being part of the Commonwealth?

DT: While I might stop short of encouraging abject onanism in the service of Queen, Monarch and state, one can only experience the true joy of prurient release while focused intently on Queen and Corgis. We take the ‘David Cameron’ approach to Queen and Commonwealth, one should be intimate with all nature’s creatures and have a loving embrace/sexual congress with all livestock in the farm.

BlauerosenYou have been quite critical of the mentality of Australian people in the past. Do you think that Australia has influenced the music you are composing in any way?

DT: Australia is a great place to write critical, cynical, satirical music about the dismal state of humankind – you have everything you need in front of you – a nation of 24 million sheep humming their way to the slaughterhouse through a pastel maze of strip malls and inane gadgetry. Australia is an incredibly relaxing place, the constant somnambulistic sound a salve to the jaded 21st century nerves, a deep national snoring conducive to golden slumbers and sickly sweet dreams.

BlauerosenYou have said that in your opinion slavery has never ended, that it is now the multinational corporations, investors and entrepreneurs that ‘’own’’ the people. For the past few years there have been uprisings in many parts of the world and at the same time political activism has challenged things in many ways and many parts of the world. Do you think that there can be any hope and optimism in these endeavours? Do you think that any of this has the potential to change our world for the better?

BL_2DT: I am largely pessimistic in this area. The great majority (perhaps all of us really) are merely puppets dancing to the piper’s tune. We murmur a little when our womb of convenience gets threatened, otherwise our heads are down chasing a few shekels and some ‘Skinner Box’ thrills. Which is ironic really, because we the people have all the power, we just don’t know it and we don’t know how to use it – a massive (and massively expensive) web of distractions and lies has been built around us to enslave our minds and bodies. There are ‘trillions’ of dollars ‘missing’ from the Pentagons budget – I suspect much of those ‘missing’ trillions are spent constructing a fake reality to capture minds and spirits, energy and thought.

Blauerosen: Compared to 50 years ago, people worldwide, even in regions where censorship is high, have access to much more information. In parts of the world where censorship is not as high, one could even say that there is so much information around that it becomes difficult to retain the essence of things. Do you think that information makes people more aware about things and actually opens any possibilities for change?

DT: Well in theory yes, but in practice perhaps no – the internet seems to me to be a poisoned chalice – a mind boggling resource but alas also a mind-boggling distraction and misdirection – ‘liking’ some FB post or ‘action’ achieves nothing (or even less than nothing) in the real world. I am suspicious of the gifts the internet brings, because with the Trojan Horse of (apparently) limitless information and interaction comes the invisible burden of atomisation, delusion and ultimately profound powerlessness.

Blauerosen: At the same time that people can have access to more information we notice that parts of the world seem to have embraced religious fanaticism. This seems to be a situation that would trigger a comment from SNOG in the form of a song. What do you think about this?

DT: It’s a big topic, but if one thinks about, say, a media brand like ISIS – I doubt it is anything less than a whole U.S/Saudi/Israeli creation. Zbigniew Brzezinski created the policy of inflaming so-called Islamic Fundamentalism, and it has been an incredibly successful tool for empire, confusion and profit. Today the fraudulent hoax of Muslim extremism captures people’s imaginations and creates the perfect cover for imperial machinery.

Blauerosen: You are a member of MACOS (Musicians Against Copyright Of Sample) and I noticed that in your albums the © symbol is crossed out. You have said in the past that you believe that once a song is out there there’s no reason why anyone should not be allowed to use samples of it. Copyright to me, seems to be an already outdated concept especially with the popularity of crowd funding platforms that engage the audience with the artist and so the outcome seems to be a collective work of art. What is your opinion about crowd funding do you think that is has challenged or annulled the whole idea of ‘copyright’?

DT: Copyright is a large and problematic discussion, certainly it is true that ideas and passion are above value, but meanwhile corporations make vast profits out of copyrights and artists almost always are exploited and stumble/starve.

snog_4Blauerosen: Snog’s albums are released through Metropolis while the music of Black Lung is being released mostly through Ant-Zen. You have also collaborated with other labels throughout the years. Do those labels share your views on copyright?

DT: Strangely, generally, yes. In an imperfect world, most labels and artists I know (only a small number really) just want to survive and propagate ideas that they find worthwhile. On the cosmic timescale however, let’s be realistic, we amount to little more than specks of dust rushing past a forgotten dune. While our efforts and intrigues may have some odd transient purpose to ourselves, on the cosmic scale they are infinitesimal. While I recognise the incongruity of saying this, perhaps on the larger scale we would be better off without an entertainment industry altogether. While we do yearn to play and sing, the greater purpose of entertainment today is to distract, mislead and disempower. All we as individuals ever really wanted to do we reach out to the disaffected, those at the margins who are told they are alone and quietly let them know that secretly there are many who doubt the beast.

Blauerosen: On several occasions musicians have opposed the use of their music from political parties or from other sources on the basis that their music is being badly exploited. Recently Michael Stripe from REM has vocally attacked Donald Trump for using the song ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it’ in his presidential campaign. On the other hand, copyright law is supposedly safeguarding the intellectual property of the artists and as a result royalties are supposed to be paid the artists. What is your opinion about these facts?

DT: The obscenely wealthy, and the corporations that carry out their bloodwork, do as they like, the rest of us pay to play.

Blauerosen: Let’s talk a bit about Soma. I have noticed that there haven’t been any releases for quite some time. Have you stopped working on this project?

DT: In theory no – we talk about making a new Soma record sometime, but the reality is that Pieter Bourke and myself live hours and hours away from each other these days and that makes it hard to be ‘in the room’ (I don’t really like collaboration via remote). People do ask me about it a lot. Write to Pieter! He thinks nobody is interested.

Blauerosen: Finally I would like to ask you about the film scores that you have produced for the movies ‘The Andronechron Incident’ and Scott Roberts’, ‘The Hard Word’. Is composing music for someone else’s concepts more or less easy than writing music for your own projects? These are very different movies in terms of atmosphere ‘The Andronechron Incident’ is an experimental conceptual movie while ‘The Hard Word’ is a crime movie. Which of the two inspired you the most?

DT: Sometimes it is actually nice to take a break from self-generation/self-motivation and work to a brief or at least bounce off someone else’s creation. But, for me, the project must be interesting, just chasing shekels is hard work (and grim for the soul). ‘The Andronechron Incident’ and ‘The Hard Word’ were very different projects, the former a near mythical confection/confabulation of time/space displacement, the later a gritty, idiosyncratic Australian crime piece. Really very different to each other, each with their own, odd magic.

Blauerosen: Thank you very much for this interview!

 

‘Compliance’ is available to pre-order here: http://www.metropolis-mailorder.com/product.php?prodnum=MET+994 and will be released on October 16, 2015 by Metropolis Records

Blaue Rosen box

 

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