Today Is The Day – Interview

int_todayis_groupTODAY IS THE DAY is a musical anomaly.Their latest offering, “Temple Of The Morning Star”, is yet another compelling and volatile chapter in their discography. By capturing the purity and passion of emotions unhindered Steve Austin and crew have truly and deeply carved a niche for themselves in the halls of extreme sonics. What follows is a phone conversation conducted in mid-March ’98 – Scott – (Taken from Worm Gear #7)

Why don’t we start with the departure from Amphetamine Reptile, and how you ended up with Relapse, it’s something that I always sort of felt might or should happen. It seemed like you were beyond Amphetamine Reptile even early on.

Right, no, I know what you mean. We put out three records on that label, and it was a really good thing for us to start on in a way, because it was kinda small and everything. They put our stuff out and everything, and just like after a period of time we were like… One thing we just really want to have people find out about our records, and two have certain sects of people find out our records that didn’t find out about them before. We ended up running into Matt and Bill at a show with NEUROSIS at The Great American Music Hall is San Francisco. They were like, “Hey when you come back through Philly we’d like to come see you and say hey….” So they came down and we went and ate some food and hung out and talked. It’s like after getting to know those guys we realized they were into really, really, heavy music and really, really, experimental music and weren’t afraid to have the balls to be behind it in a big way. So I was like, god, this is pretty cool, these two guys seem to have a great thing going and they really like us a whole lot, so we just figured it was a good idea to do.

Did you have problems separating from Am Rep?

No, I just called him up… We were supposed to do one more album for them, and I just told them that I really wanted to move on and do something different, and I didn’t want to commit another record. So he understood, he was like, ‘I know what you mean, we put three out, and if you want to try doing it with somebody else then it’s totally cool, I’m behind you.” He was totally cool about it.

The new album features some line up changes, as did the album before it, what has lead to so many line up changes. Is it recruiting the right musicians for the sound that you want on a particular album, or has it more like personality conflicts?

It’s part of both, I mean, TODAY IS THE DAY at times has been more like KING CRIMSON, or something like that, as far as, we’re not like a traditional band where there’s a story book about three people and they’re together forever. It’s like, through different times we have gone through a lot of different things, and the main thing is like each album, whoever has played with us on the records, like the first three records pretty much two out of three same people… We had a great time playing with the first bassist, but he had things to move onto. Jamming with a keyboardist was a different touch for our third album, that was a fun thing to do, but the same thing there. The last album… it’s just the continuation of both music and life. In the 90’s life is a lot heavier than it was in the 60’s, I was just saying to one of my friends last night that people don’t realize today there’s fuckin’ bills, there’s child support, there’s alimony, there’s taxes, there’s just all this fucked up shit that comes down on guys, who are artists, who want to play music… It’s like, when you try to make more than one person’s life gel with someone else’s and then you put all of those factors in there it makes it really, really hard to ever keep something with the same group of people in for longer than three or four years. People change and their lives change, so it’s a part of both.

Right now, it makes me really happy, because we’ve only had two different drummers in TODAY IS THE DAY, the one on the first three albums, and the one on the new album… Now, my partner, that I played with on the first three albums is back with me playing live and that’s fucking great, so in essence, we have two thirds of TODAY IS THE DAY from the original line up in there. Even if we didn’t, it would still be the same to me because I believe in TODAY IS THE DAY more than anything in the world. I have it tattooed underneath my skin from long ago, and it just means a whole lot to me as a philosophy, besides being a band.

One thing that has always sort of surprised me about the band is that people are either fanatical about you, or have absolutely no idea who you are. There’s nobody that is indifferent, they either totally love you, or have never even heard the name…

Or it freaks them out beyond repair (laughs)…

Have you found this to be true, and if so why do you think it is?

It’s such a drastic shift in gears to go from listening to pretty much most music, and then hear TODAY IS THE DAY. I was in the car yesterday, and the radio happened to be on and some fucking Classic Rock song was on, and in the middle of it being on, I thought to myself… I was thinking about the first song off of our first album, like six years ago, which is old to me, called “Black Dahlia”. So this was the first piece of Rock that we ever made, I think it was some shit like ERIC CLAPTAN on the radio, and I was thinking this guy is supposed to be like a master. This would be like the equivalent of a cartoon book versus the Sistine Chapel or something, meaning like, we’ve always wanted to make different kinds of music… When you do that and do different things, for instance, a lot of the things that we do musically… Music is feeling, so if you do things right, you can control how someone feels through music. Most music is based around 2/4 or 4/4 time, almost like doing an inside out reversal, almost every single part in every single riff in all of our songs is not in 2/4 or 4/4, it’s like backwards. It’s almost always in odd time. It’s going to create a different kind of feel, so that coupled with the sound and the sheer force of it all, it’s like a lot of times when they get in contact with it they’re like, “Whoa, this is kind of fucking me up, it makes me feel nauseated, or I feel like pulling my hair out.” That’s the reaction that comes off of it, some people want to go for something real, and they want to experience it and they want to feel it, and they are the ones that are into it. Then those that like your passing music listener, they’re not gonna really… sometimes they may not even get it, they might say, “this is tripped out Noise” or something. I don’t know it’s just a weird thing to me, because I’m playing in it and it seems really natural to me. But like I said I could be riding in a car and hear some other crap and just think to myself , “god it seems like we make such fucking weird music compared to everyone else.”

When did you first realize that most of humanity should be drowned in their own chamber pots?

I think it was after like, pretty much, getting a mind of my own. Like when I was a little kid I didn’t really know what was going on, my parents carted me from one state to another, moving me back and forth. So, a lot of times I didn’t have friends to really figure things out with or talk to. It’s just weird as I got older, like in my teens, I had a mind of my own, and it was like it seems like I don’t fit in anywhere with people… At the time I was a little heavy, like I was a fat kid, like I weighed 200 pounds and was five feet tall. As I got older, I grew up I realized after I got thin that, it’s was so shitty that people would fuckin’ treat me bad when I was fat and then treat me cool when I was thin. That coupled with a lot of other weird things, experiences with other people fucking me over and stuff, it made me realize… You gotta really be careful man, because there’s just not that many people on Earth that you can truly trust, and the rest of them you can totally not trust, because pretty much it’s every man for himself these days.

The lyrics have always dealt with the brutality of relationships and the general uselessness and drain of people on the whole, you sort of talked about how you came to this, but how do you deal with these things in day to day life?

Well you know, I’m really cut and dry about things, it’s like the people I surround myself with are people that I really love, and truly, truly, truly care about, and we get along, and there’s a connection and there’s a bond between the people that I hang around. I don’t really even have that many people in my life, it’s like, my girlfriend, my mom and the two guys that I play with, and then my friends that I work with with music. Other than that it’s real basic, I just found… you gotta be like that, if somebody is going to fuck you up once or twice then they are always going to fuck you up. It just a lot better to choose who you spend your time with and then make it be a quality thing rather than quantity.

There is a lot of violence outlined in the lyrics, of varying degrees, but it’s heartfelt violence, not b-movie butchery. It’s a genuine, sort of frustration of emotions just exploding rather than some lunatic… It seems very pure, how do you respond to that….

I have a really, really bad temper in a way that I keep under control, and the temperament… Temper means how much you can handle of “bad” until you get pissed off and have an outward reaction from it. I have an amazing amount of temperament to control it, but as far as being sensitive to things going on… If something hurts me or fucks me off, that cuts right through to the quick and… A lot of the actions and pictures I want to paint through words, and things that I’m saying, are scenes of full on outrage and action as far as how I feel. It’s not really a conscious thing it’s more or less a feeling of at the moment, like this.

I’m not attacking you with this question by any means… women are not portrayed in a very favorable light on your albums, is this because they are clearly and inherently evil, or are you dealing in specifics?

(laughs) Right, no, I mean it’s both. I feel I’m just as hateful towards men as I am women on the record, I pretty much hate everybody. I’m just saying that most women are fucked, just like most men are fucked. I think it sticks out in the graphics, or the lyrics a lot of times, because there’s a big taboo about depicting in art or movies or anything, negativity toward women or violence or anything. When you have an ax in a woman’s skull on the back of your album that kind set people off in a different kind of way. It’s just like anything., there are good women and there are bad women. I have had my heart broken before and at the moment my heart is in amazing shape. It’s just the reality of the way, there’s a lot of bad people and there’s a lot of good people.

Given the choice, what would be your preferred method of massive depopulation?

I think we’d go ahead for a full global nuclear assault. That way it would end it really, really quick for them, and they’d all melt. Pretty much, me and my woman hiding in an underground cavern to be able to reproduce the next race.

What impact do you think coming from and staying in Tennessee has had on you personally as well as on the success of the band, or the output of the band?

I think a lot… when you live in a place that’s known for being cool or something, or there’s a lot of art or a lot of things going on you can get caught up in following ideas of what people think is cool. When you live in a place that’s considered fuckin’ uncool it takes twice as much balls to stand out as an individual in a place that’s way more conservative than it is in someplace where it’s… For instance I think it’s a lot harder to be a freak in the South than it is up North, because there’s freaky people everywhere in the big cities. Down here it’s so rare, people down here just freak out on like, strangeness or any kind of different qualities.

I grew up in Northern Michigan, so I know what you’re talking about…

Yeah, it’s like out in the sticks… I lived in Michigan for awhile too, and even in Detroit… You sometimes want to ask yourself “what the fuck? I can’t believe how close minded these people are.” At the same time, even though our world has come a long way, and we have computers and everything else… To really think about it man, people are still just so fucking retarded as far as level of imagination or competence that anybody has is just unreal, and that’s the reason that the world, a lot of times, is just such a bland place to live in. It’s all based on money ruled by people who lead the masses, giving them exactly what they want, which is a lot of unsatisfying garbage.

It’s amazing what will shock and offend people…

Still to this day, it’s so crazy.

The presentation of the new album with both the cover and the title begs the question, what has Satan done for you lately? Are you a Satanist, or was it a bit of camp, the image is just great.

It’s only two different things, one is the cover represents mind expansion and freedom of thinking and it happened to use to theme of a pentagram as the egg, it could have been a cross, it could have been a heart, it could have been anything. It just happened to be the pentagram, which made it all the better because the idea that it gives off of Satan recreating, fucks off people a whole lot, and I like it a whole lot. You couple that with the picture of us with the white shirts on, and that idea… We are a team, and we are a military unit about what we do, and like I wanted to have us all wear the same thing in that picture to show a symbol of unity. The white shirts represented a lot of different things… I thought it would come out looking like a computer cult or something like that, which is the way I wanted it to look. Overall, the name of the album is “Temple Of The Morning Star”, it the name of a Satanic church in Denver. I don’t know, 1997 these are the things going on around me, and this is the way I dress up my room.

Gordon (Relapse Promo God) had mentioned to my co-editor that you guys played a show at a college for the deaf, or something?

Do you mean the Rochester Institute of Technology show? They had a signing person interpret the lyrics and everything while we were playing. It was unbelievable, it was very funny watching the expressions this guy was doing to TODAY IS THE DAY. In another way it was kind of cool, because all of the expressions he was doing were really, really powerful gestures, so it was kind of weird to see somebody sign TODAY IS THE DAY music.

You seem like a band that really enjoys doing shows, I’ve seen you a few times, and one of the times I saw you there were only 4 people there, and you still played your asses off, how important is turnout when you think about whether or not a show went well?

Oh, thanks man… Not at all, sometimes when we play shows and there’s like three or four people there I’ve had an amazing time. Remember, I hate people, so less people means less aggravation, so me and the guys can actually get it on musically and have a good time without all of the crap going on around us. It’s like everyday when we play we’re playing individually for ourselves, and together as a band… I put up with life all day long and everything, and when it comes time to do TODAY IS THE DAY music, that’s a moment when it really doesn’t matter if there’s anyone in front of us, or five people or a thousand. It’s really nice when there’s a lot of people and they feel it, and it’s moving them, but there’s two dudes standing out there, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m playing Rock to make myself feel.

What three books and or movies would you consider essential?

“The Last Temptation Of Christ”, “Taxi Driver” and the first Alien movie.

How would you like your epitaph to read?

He lived till he died.

I guess that’s it for what I have, do you have anything else that you’d like to add or promote?

I could tell you about the two new books that my fiancee and I have written. She’s written a book called, “Wine Is Our Friend And Other Heavy Metal Objects” and I have a new book, also with her , coming out on Cosmic Printing called, “The Origin Of The Mullet”. Chapter one, Bruce Dickenson… Other than that let all of the TODAY IS THAT DAY people out there know that all is well, and that new ideas are forming. It looks like new TODAY IS THE DAY will be in stores next Spring, probably about March ’99 to bring us into the end of the world.

~ by scottsplatter on January 3, 2009.

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