Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Forces Interview


[PURESTENCH: New Forces - when did you start this label? What were the main influences and ideas that went into the creation of the label? ]

The label was started in the spring of 2010, so it is about one year old at this point. I started New Forces in order to have both a vehicle for releasing my own material under the "Breaking The Will" moniker as well as for releasing material for friends and projects I want to hear more from. Aesthetically and thematically I'm very interested in political violence and history. Later summer / early fall I will be releasing the first New Forces industrial-historical document, which will feature Breaking The Will, Nyodene D, and Steel Hook Prostheses. Thematically the release will focus on the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, and will present a variety of archival and historical writings, photographs, and other media in addition to the music. If all goes as planned there will be other industrial-historical documents in the future. In my head they encapsulate what I want New Forces to be, hopefully that translates into reality.

[PURESTENCH: What are the main goals and aims of New Forces and how do you select which artists you want to release? ]

The simple answer is I approach artists I enjoy and follow closely. I also like to put out a lot of material from the Midwest, particularly Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis / St. Paul). Some of the best harsh noise in the country is coming out of the Midwest, and I think here in Minnesota some top tier artists are lately getting well deserved recognition, such as Grain Belt, Wince, Gnawed, Baculum, and several others. I try to push my own work with Breaking The Will to keep up with the high standard being set around here, and I'm excited for the prospect of seeing these projects continue to evolve and improve. Hopefully New Forces can contribute to that.

[PURESTENCH: Like many other labels I have interviewed you seem to have only released cassette tapes. Are cassettes the only means of expression for your label or will you release wax and/or CD/CDr's as well? Do you feel that the cassette format is the best format for Noise and Power Electronics? ]

So far I have only released cassettes, but I would like to release vinyl in the future. That is something to build up to. My obsession with harsh noise seems to be linked to a concurrent obsession with hearing harsh noise on cassette tape that I can't fully explain, but I do enjoy tapes in that they encourage me to sit down and listen to music through my stereo rather than simply putting them on the ipod for listening to and from work.

[PURESTENCH: You have quite a number of "HNW" releases on your label. What is your interpretation of so-called "Harsh Walls" and what is it about this very specific sub-genre that you like? Who are some of your favorite current artists doing "Walls" these days? ]

I guess I don't feel like I've released that much wall noise aside from the Richard Ramirez cassette boxes (Werewolf Jerusalem, Fouke, Crash At Every Speed). Richard's material is particularly suited to multiple cassette releases because he is able to bring an incredible focus to a very minimal palette of harsh noise textures and stretch them into a full composition. If you give him several sides of cassette to work with you get to experience a range of sounds.  I certainly don't place the primary emphasis of New Forces on wall noise. For me, wall noise is simply an extremely aggressive and heavy approach to harsh noise that comes out of the work of some of my favorite artists, such as the Incapacitants, The Rita, Macronympha/OVMN, Dead Body Love, ect... Like any micro-genre, there is worthwhile and exciting material that gets released as well as boring, contrived, or unnecessary material. There are certainly elements of the wall noise aesthetic that are appealing such as the minimalism, aggression, textural focus and heaviness, but when people become too rigid in their definition or too contrived in their presentation I tend to lose interest. The harsh noise presented by New Forces will take on a variety of forms and approaches.

[PURESTENCH: Do you have any personal favorites among your releases? Do you have any projects on your label? ]

It's hard to pick a favorite. I'm lucky in that every piece of material I've released is something I
would have purchased if another label had put it out. Visually, I love how the Fouke triple cassette box turned out, the full color jungle images ended up looking amazing. The Koufar - Death of Myself tape is special in that Mack took a totally new approach to the material, went out on a limb and created something very unique, and the results are stunning. He's one of the best current vocalists in power electronics. The Custodian tape I released also stands out, simply because Jon works with a very minimal and familiar set of sounds, but that tape ended up sounding very different than his other releases while maintaining the same Custodian "sound." Quite a bit heavier, like getting crushed to death by concrete.

My primary project is Breaking The Will, which took some time to evolve but has settled into a dynamic and slightly cut-up approach to harsh noise. I've released two Breaking The Will tapes on New Forces, and will probably do more in the future. Breaking The Will will appear on an upcoming cassette box on the excellent Skeleton Dust Recordings alongside Being, Skin Graft, and Weak Sisters, definitely worth checking out for a diverse cross-section of current American harsh noise. I also have a side project called The Sun Turns Black that has made an appearance here and there.   

[PURESTENCH: What do you think of the current Noise/Power Electronics scene? ]

There are plenty of releases continually coming out that keep me interested, so I certainly don't have a pessimistic or bad attitude. There is more good noise than I can even keep up with, so that more than cancels out the garbage. I haven't been involved since the 80's or 90's so I can't really speak to how things are now relative to the past. Oskar Brummel, who does White Centipede Noise, commented on the Minnesota "scene" in the interview he did for you so I'll just echo him in that we have a small but strong group of harsh noise, industrial and power electronics artists here. As far as things I've been listening to, I will say that the Joe Colley - Disasters of Self record is probably the best record I've bought in the last few yours, you should probably track it down.

[PURESTENCH: It is not rare in this genre for labels to release "limited" amounts of each title. Why do you think this is, and how has it been for you? Do you ever intend to increase the number of releases which you put out or do you prefer how it is now? ]

For the next few releases I plan on bumping up the edition size to 100 copies. Most of my releases so far have been in an edition of 50; in some cases that was perfect, in some cases I could have done more. From the label-running prospective it has been nice to not have a large inventory as I've been moving around some in the last few years. As far as limited releases, there is certainly a "collector" aspect, which I participate in, that is both positive and negative. I don't need to lend one more voice to that debate here. For New Forces, my goal is to produce releases in a manageable amount for me logistically and financially while trying to make sure there is enough to go around. If the invisible hand of "hype" causes a sudden increase of interest I'll adjust accordingly, but for now 50-100 copies is enough to satisfy the harsh-heads that buy from me, and I'll just slowly change my practices as label growth demands.

[PURESTENCH: Just recently you released a Black Metal cassette by a great American band, El-Ahrairah. Will we be seeing more Black Metal releases from this label in the future? ]

El-Ahrairah is a local project that I came across while working at a record store in Minneapolis called "Extreme Noise." They were selling two of their demo tapes on consignment, and I listened to them on a whim and thought the material was excellent. I don't plan on black metal being a regular element of New Forces, it's not where I want to put most of my energy, but I certainly don't rule out the possibility of there being another black metal release in the future. El-Ahrairah is going to have a full length coming out on wax soon so keep on the lookout for that.

[PURESTENCH: Do you have any advice for someone who would want to go out and start a Noise/PE label? ]

Get advice from people that have been doing it for awhile, they can probably preemptively solve problems that will appear. Take the idea of "quality control" seriously, push yourself to put out excellent releases.

[PURESTENCH: You have been releasing material for a few years now. Is there anything that you would like to change in the future to make it better? If you had infinite resources what would you do with the label? Where do you see New Forces in a year from now? ]

If I had infinite resources I would release vinyl, but beyond that I don't have any grand aspirations.
It's not like I could sell 1000 copies of any of the things I've released anyway, so as long as myself and the artist are satisfied with the end result and there are other people taking an interest I'm happy. Graphic design and art aren't things I have a natural affinity for, so I want to keep pushing myself to make each release look great. A year from now I would like to be working on a vinyl release and releasing more material from my favorite artists, as well as expanding the conceptual boundaries of New Forces.

[PURESTENCH: What should we expect in the near future? ]

The future will see the release of tapes by Wince, Bryan Tholl (who used to record as "Is"), a Breaking The Will / Bachir Gemayel Collaboration, Wood & Rope (the harsh noise side project of the guy behind the black metal band "Altars"), a double cassette box by Vice Wears Black Hose which is a collaboration between Richard Ramirez and Sam McKinlay (The Rita, BT.HN), the first Industrial-Historical document which will feature Breaking The Will, Nyodene D, and Steel Hook Prostheses. There are other things in the works as well, I'm very excited about 2011.

[PURESTENCH: Any last words... ]

Thanks for the interview, folks can hop on the New Forces mailing list by sending a message to newforcesnoise at gmail dot com. You can also keep up at

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