Interview – Wet-works Ezine
Gothx [Wet-Works] Why was the name Null Device chosen for your project?
EO: Basically, because I'm a computer geek. The name comes from that world, and I thought it would be clever. I think there's one unix systems programmer out in San Jose who finds it hilarious.
EG : My girlfriend asked me the other night why so many electronic band names sound like they came from something on Star Trek. I didn't have a good answer for that.[Wet-Works] Being that Sublimation is your first major release, are you surprised by all the great reviews?
EO : Well, yes and no. I'm proud of the work we've done and think it's a pretty solid album, but I'm still surprised at how effusive a lot of the reviews have been. Especially since the album doesn't really sound much like the really popular stuff that's out there in the genre.
EG : I'm glad people like the album, and it's especially nice when people say, “Hey, this doesn't sound like everything else that's out there.” Still, you can't be an artist without hearing the worse in your music, and by the time it's out to be released you get pretty sick of most of it. My favorite Null Device song is always whatever's newest.[Wet-Works] What inspires you to write your lyrics?
EO : I'll let Dr. Goedken handle that one.
EG : Hmm, I'm not sure. Being emotionally moved, I guess. This can happen through my own personal experiences, reading the newspaper, watching a good film, whatever. I like to write in contrasts in my lyrics. Say one thing and then it's opposite. Let the listener think about what that means, hopefully give it their own meaning.[Wet-Works] Since you both live in different states, is it more difficult to make your music?
EO : It has disadvantages, yes, in that it's hard to get immediate feedback on something and the sort of back-and-forth interaction takes longer. But on the up-side, Eric G can hear a track completely unbiased, not having hear the 25 different bass drum sounds I've tried or whatever, which allows him to have a really clean perspective. And then his lyrics can – and have – come to me from anywhere in the world, which adds to the experience.
EG : We haven't tried it side-by-side very often so we don't really know if it would be better or worse. I visit the studio at most a couple times a year, and we usually get something accomplished then but if I was there more often I doubt it would make it much easier. Eric does most of the physical work to record a song. My contribution is more conceptual and, fortunately for me, can be done just about anywhere.[Wet-Works] What do you believe makes your music stand out from other synth pop/ebm bands?
EO : From my perspective, I think it has a lot to do with where we take our influences. While I do listen to some synthpop, I get the majority of my musical ideas from other genres and styles – drum-n-bass, jazz, classical, world music. Not all the influences have obvious effects, but they mold the songwriting style and process.
EG : I think we focus our songwriting on making an album that really meant for the home listener, not as much for the dancefloor. I don't know what the other bands intentions are, but many of them seem more dance-oriented than we usually are. There's nothing wrong with dance music. In fact, it's essential for dancing. But most of the albums I really like connect more to my brain & heart and less to my feet & hands, and I'd like Null Device to try to do that as well.[Wet-Works] What made you start experimenting with different ethnic sounds and backgrounds?
EO : I've always been fascinated with non-western music. It's an entirely new palate of sounds and textures. I may not be able to accurately play a lot of those kinds of music, it's still a great source of ideas and inspiration.
EG : Eric also likes to experiment with ethnic food.[Wet-Works] Can you tell us what a Null Device show is like? Do you use any special visuals or effects?
EO : We've got great backing videos, courtesy of Dr. Goedken. We also have an unconventional lineup for a synthpop band onstage – it's me on vocals, guitarist Dan Clark, and bassist Chuck McKenzie. I've watched enough electro bands either mime their way through a performance or just look bored pressing keys – let's face it, it can be hard to “rock out” when you're hidden behind a bank of keyboards – so I decided to be unapologetic about the synths being on backing tracks, and I found some dynamic instrumentalists. It gives us a lot of freedom onstage, and makes the whole thing more organic. Dan's an amazing guitarist – he's got a background in music composition but also fronts a punk band, so he's got that “punk energy” in addition to some seriously deep musical talent. We've revamped a lot of the songs for the show, so they don't sound like clones of the album versions, and we're right now playing a few new tracks too.
EG : The backing video gives me a chance to re-interpret the songs a little bit. And I think if you're gonna do a live show, video is a great way to bring a more full experience to the concert. Especially for electronic acts where some of the music is not “live.”[Wet-Works] You're currently working on material for your next album. How different will it be from Sublimation?
EO : I'd say it's more ambitious than Sublimation. You can still tell from the vocals and the arrangements that they're Null Device songs, but the scope of the songs is bigger and the production quality is higher. There're more “real” instruments, there's an even wider variety of styles, we've got some collaborators on board, and so forth. I'm just having a lot of fun with it.
EG : I think the sound is a bit thicker. There's kind of an international theme to the lyrics and well as in the instrumentation in several tracks I don't think this album will seem as synthpop-oriented as Sublimation. Still, it's not finished yet so it's hard to say how it will end up.[Wet-Works] Can you give us any details about your side projects Ensku and The Advanced Toothbrush Orchestra?
EO : They're both sort of dumping grounds for various musical ideas. Ensku is generally me twidding about with synths and bringing in a vocalist who's not me – right now it's mostly a breakbeat project but I've also done a few house tracks under that name. With any luck, an Ensku track I'm working on right now should appear on a compilation. The Advanced Toothbrush Orchestra has mostly done ambient/IDM stuff for film soundtracks. I've not really touched that project in a while, but it may get resurrected eventually.[Wet-Works] From what I have read, you both have successful day jobs. If the opportunity came that you could make a living at your music, would you quit your day jobs?
EO : I'd love to be a full-time musician, provided I could still have fun with it. I like what I do for a living, though, so I'm not going to complain too much either.
EG : I'm not sure. I've invested a lot of time in science, and I don't know if I'd be willing to give it up for art. I wouldn't give up art for science either. Though, it's a bit harder to do biochemical research part-time.[Wet-Works] Why is it when we talk to God we are praying, but when God talks to us we are put into a loony bin?
EG : Maybe God loses credibility every time he tells the other deities that he hears our voices.
EO : Because most of the people who claim that God is talking to them are paranoid schizophrenics. Or televangelists.[Wet-Works] Any final comments?
EO : Making music is damn fun. Everyone should try it.