Q&A with Tim Skold
Sheila Rene': Tim, darlin' welcome back to the world of rock and roll.
Tim Skold: Ho, ho, ho. We lost track of one another.
SR: The RCA rep in Dallas, Bob Osbourne brought me just a single on this project. I flipped and started getting this set up. I was so delighted to find out that it's you.
TS: That's strange and good.
SR: I don't think I ever paid attention to what your last name was when we worked together on Shotgun Messiah.
TS: Hold on I'm going to change phones. I'm having problems hearing you.
SR: My little Tim Tim. In '93 you and Cody split up to try some new things.
TS: The general response at the label was that we made that last album only to get dropped which blew me away. We thought it was an amazing album.
SR: Me, too I loved the industrial leanings on that album for Relativity. It's been a long time coming for me, but I finally love industrial today mixed with everything.
TS: Yeah, I'm still a bit butt-headed like that. I think music should be played and on Violent New Breed we played all that stuff. There's a lot of programming involved but if you look at a sampler or computer after a while it becomes an instrument. It is still music. There's a lot of ways you can cheat these days with a lot of factory presets and the owners manual will give you all the short cuts in the world. After a while you get bored with that and you start creating and it becomes just another tool.
SR: Then you want to get with a band from there.
TS: I have my band together. We're getting ready to tour.
SR: Who are the members?
TS: Kevin Marburg is my bass player from Diatribe; and The Duke, is on guitar from the ex-Idols and B.J. is my drummer. He's the same drummer I had on the Violent New Breed tour. He plays an electronic kit that's really cool.
SR: The Idols were an alternative band as I remember.
TS: I think they were a punk band. Relativity did a number on them too.
SR: Do you enjoy making music music by yourself as much as working with other folks? You wrote all the music and played all the instruments on this one.
TS: Exactly. Music is strange like that because it always has two sides to it. It's a double edged sword. To reap the benefits you have to put in the work and it becomes a lot of work. I start second guessing myself because I'm not really a guitar player and I'm not really a drummer. I can pull it off with technology and make it different or strange or new. It's like that with singing too. I'm not really a singer either. I was debating this very question when RCA signed me from the demo only. I thought about putting together a band then and that would take a long time. I just wouldn't just hire people it would've taken some time to find the right people. I decided to do it myself and I had a couple of false starts. I lost my direction a couple of times, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It's not a run-of-the-mill prime example of industrial today. If you dig deeply into this album, it's quite different.
SR: How did the signing with RCA come about? Through a demo?
TS: I was sitting around doing demos like I always have done. I got my first SIM keyboards, sampler in late '88 or early '89. I've been doodling and doing my own thing, like a hobby. I do music for a living and music as a hobby too.
SR: I'm fascinated with all the different mixes you've done on these songs. I got into your website and listened to a couple of them. It took me a while to download them properly.
TS: My site is user hostile intentionally. It's too tricky to be easy. One of the reasons is that there are so many websites out there that I wanted to put together something that was like a puzzle. You have to rack your brain for a while. There are some instant gratification things there too. The blinking lights for instance; but you have to dig in to get it all.
SR: I signed up for the free stuff and sent you an e-mail.
TS: I had some problems with my provider and now I'm with earthlink.
SR: Me, too. I think their set up is working great.
TS: I'm happy with them too.
SR: What did you learn new while recording this album?
TS: I learned tons of things constantly. I started out in Seattle with Mark Walk. He took a break from the Ruby album to start working with me. We had lots of fun and I learned a lot from him. The stuff we actually ended putting up on tape, we weren't that happy with. He had to get back to working with Leslie Rankin. I took off for Chicago and worked with Howie Beno. He does some really amazing stuff, but we had the same thing happening there. I love him, we had tons of fun, but after three months, what actually got put on tape I wasn't happy with either. I took of for Los Angeles and hooked up with Bill Kennedy and Scott Humphrey. Everything started falling into place with those guys.
SR: I just love the sound.
TS: There a lot of things that are appealing to that sound. There's also a bunch of stuff I don't like. A whole bunch of bands do it the easy way too. It's so obvious and ruins it for me.
SR: Gravity Kills talked about how much longer it took to do their latest album because it was so industrial. Do you find that to be true?
TS: It all depends on who you're working with. The deal with the machine is it might argue with you, but it's never going to quit on you. You can keep pushing it and working until it happens the way you want it to. On the other side, you can second guess yourself forever and there are millions of versions you can try just to make sure you have the perfect one. After a while, I started realizing that it's about the essence of the song. You have to start looking there instead and that has nothing to do with a factory preset.
SR: This album, for me is a carthisis of what's been going on in my life for the last year and a half. The exorcism of sorts. Was it that for you as well? I find myself getting into the P.A.M.F. (punk ass mother f**er) tune.
TS: That was custom written for a record company management meeting that was held at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning at RCA. I wasn't too happy. I was under the gun to be happy, but I was really stressed out. I wrote everybody a song and played it really loud to them all.
SR: I especially like the old blues voice that kicks it off.
TS: Oh, yeah.
SR: "Void" with words like 'it's dark and I'm lonely..all I remember I'd like to forget...' I was reading a Billboard magazine article where you talked about some down and out years on the streets of L.A.
TS: Most definitely. The industry is very touch and go. One day you're on top of the world and you're loaded then a short time later you have a hard time remembering where the hell it all went. You don't have to be a big star to feel those waves coming and going. It applies to everybody in the business. After all, most of us are commodities to these multi-million dollar corporations.
SR: There are days I love it and then days where I hate the whole scene. It's a constant struggle.
TS: It has to be though. Everything is linear. Sometimes I get flack from changing and trying to do new things. Look, I tell them, I can't be the same person all the time. I wouldn't like that at all. You have to try new things and go somewhere in your life. Sometimes it seems as if it's all a big, black negative pit of hell, but after a while you look back and say you know things happen for a reason. One thing generally leads to another. For those who it comes easy for, eventually take it for granted and it doesn't mean anything any more.
SR: I think you have to struggle for it to mean anything.
TS: Nothing worth having, ever comes easy.
SR: Are you still smoking?
TS: Yeah, I'm still smoking cigarettes. I wish I would, but I don't think I ever will.
SR: You've done some remixing for other bands. Is that fun?
TS: When I do a remix I do it with just the tapes. Management will talk to people and if someone is looking for me to do a remix I refuse to ...most of these things are contracted and designed for certain markets. I don't have a name so I don't have to worry about the big bucks. I have total and complete freedom. If I like the music I'll go for it. If you like it, use it. If you use it you pay me. What I do is take the tapes and break it down to what I consider that very day to be the essence of the track as I hear it. It's not really that involved and usually doesn't involve the artist at all. It's kind of an ego trip. It's fun and I notice from doing a couple of other people and then going back to remixing my own stuff, that it gave me a certain objectivity or distance from my material.
SR: I'd think that it would be a great learning tool.
TS: It's great because you can totally experiment. Some people want it to sound like the SKOLD album. I say 'no, I'm not going to do that.' That's my sound. Some people I've worked with were utterly and bitterly disappointed. The Prong mix, the controller mix, I though they'd hate it, but they really loved it.
SR: That's my favorite mix that you've done. There again I didn't know that the mixer was you at the time.
TS: Okay, yeah. Cool.
SR: Do you think remixes are going out of style. I talked with Sacha from KMFDM and he thought it was getting passť. It's all been done.
TS: I beg to differ. I love the old KMFDM. I'm an old die hard fan. He actually came down to the studio in Seattle when I was working with Mark Walk. I'd really love to work with him one of these days. Maybe I can do a remix for them, (laughing) and change his mind on the passť thing. He's right in a way, because just like everything else, it's a bunch of generic crap. Like everything else, when it becomes popular you get a certain mass production feel over it and it generates just average junk and that's no fun. I still hear mixes today that really blow me away. It comes and goes in waves just like everything else.
SR: Let's talk about the videos from this album. The first reel was totally blank. Then the second one came in with "Chaos."
TS: There's a reel that has five versions. One track is "Anything" and now I hear they're pulling that one off since it's a bit too obscene for them.
SR: A little spanking never hurt anyone. Then there's the black fingernails flipping everyone off.
TS: Exactly. You've seen it them.
SR: The worst one I've seen is the Danzig one. They did that after Trent did the machine that eats the guy.
TS: I wasn't trying to go for that. For me, it's really tongue in cheek. It's very humorous to me. Music doesn't have to be fun, but sex has to be, I think.
SR: How's your private life these days?
TS: It's going okay. It's like remixes, they come and they go. I didn't mean that. It's part of life. I have a girlfriend. We've been going out for a while. She checks my head every once in a while.
SR: She keeps you planted on the ground.
TS: She at least tries to.
SR: When did you and Harry talk last?
TS: It's been a couple of months. We talk on the phone regularly.
SR: What's he up to these days?
TS: He's doing his own thing and working on putting a tape together. I heard three songs not too long ago that are amazing. He's a brilliant songwriter. You have something to look forward to from him. We never really broke up because we didn't, couldn't or wouldn't want to work together. It was just more that it was forced upon us through a lot of help from Relativity Records. Whatever we would do would end up being Shotgun Messiah and after a while we just got tired of having the name be so stigmatized.
SR: I always loved the name.
TS: Yeah, it is a great name. We ended on an up though. Maybe not sales wise, and maybe the industry considered it to be a low point, but creatively that was the peak.
SR: The album you did in Sweden. It was very dark album.
TS: It was a hard album to make, but we're really happy with it.
SR: Do you hear any new bands out there that you think has a chance?
TS: I listened to two so-called industrial samplers with a bunch of bands on it. I'm having a hard time distinguishing one from the other. If you like dance music, the Hard Floor's Home Run album might be for you. I keep that one playing in my car. The 16 Volt album is pretty good. I've really been listening to some old Swedish punk bands lately. We're talking about doing some cover tunes.
SR: What's your take on the Internet?
TS: I was listening to K-Rock's show, "Love Line" which is a host, a doctor and kids call in with their problems. One kid was actually speaking, you could tell that this guy rarely speaks to people but spends a lot of time typing. He was actually speaking as if he was a typewriter, fragmented as if he was typing. It was really strange. Hey, this is the earth. We can't help the way we mutate. We'd like to think that we're in control, but we're not. We're way out of control. We're wrecking the place that gave us birth. We're going to be influenced by machinery. We're pathetic when it comes to that stuff. They say that the first babies with four toes are going to be born because no one walks barefoot anymore. You're going to have four toed kids who walk around unable to speak in complete sentences.
SR: I'm excited about the whole Internet experiment.
TS: Anything good is abused by certain people anyway. It doesn't have to be intentional. Abuse can sneak up on you without even knowing it.
SR: What's the tour going to be?
TS: We're working on it. The hot rumor is that we'll go out with Genatortures and Chemlab for six weeks.
SR: If they've seen your videos they will certainly think you fit in with that tour. She's very intense. I can't believe the stuff she does on stage.
TS: I saw the Genatortures open up for KMFDM once. What I hear from people is that they leave a lot to be desired on the musical front. I don't like to slag people unnecessarily though.
SR: I don't have any problem with Chemlab though.
TS: They're classic. If anybody, they should be the yard stick of industrial music more than Trent Resnor. Then again I don't write the history books do I? No, money writes the history books .
SR: Are you able to keep up with your e-mail?
TS: I'm still a couple of weeks behind. Did you mail me through that little box on the website?
SR: Yes, I did.
TS: Those are a big hassle to me. They come over as files I have to open in simple text. I still have an old Quadra. It's very useful in my music.
SR: You use it to write on.
TS: Yes, totally. Programming, the whole thing. It's a very stable machine like that. I'm not even going to do the power thing until there's another generation available.
SR: The new generation of power Mac's will come from Power Computing here in Austin. Apple gave them the full speed ahead signal to begin producing the Mac clone which will be really fast. We don't need those superhighway companies any more and soon we won't even need a provider at all. It'll just come into our house from the street at fast speeds.
TS: Then I'll wait for one of those. That scares me more than anything. It's the wild west. Everything is questionable. Have you seen the new Toshiba machines? It's a home entertainment system that has a television, stereo, cassette player, answering machine, clock radio and a 486 PC Computer in one box. It's crazy.
SR: Anything you want to say to your fans?
TS: Yeah, watch it buddy. Today's endorsement is Quick Keys. It beats Apple Scripting keys any day. I'm having problems with my Free PPP now that I've gone 7.5.5. I spent all night upgrading my system. It shows up in the folder but not in the manager.
SR: Tim, it's been great talking to you. Good luck with this new album. I'll be checking you out when you get to Austin. Can't wait to hear "Hail Mary" and "Devil Inside."
TS: I'm actually having to pull both of those songs out of the set. We have to make it half an hour long as an opener. Let me know when you're coming down to see me and I'll put them back in the set.