Bay Area musician (and former See Colin Slash/Psyclon Nine member, amongst others) Eric Gottesman is promoting his long-awaited Bit Riot solo debut for his coldwave-meets-appliances band Everything Goes Cold. The debut is “vs General Failure” and it’s a tight, focused mess of themes and influences ranging from sci-fi to the toil of working a day job to… Lots of random weirdness. Frankly, it’s just fun as hell and well worth the wait.
Normally when I write interviews I have a series of carefully planned questions, but talking to someone like Eric Gottesman is like talking to four chatty 13-year-old girls after a Jonas Brothers concert at once-the dude (much like me) doesn’t shut up.
But he’s also massively entertaining, and so for this interview I thought we’d just IM away and see what happens before he took off for his Everything Goes Cold CD release party at the famed San Francisco industrial night Death Guild.
Matt Fanale: How are ya?
Eric Gottesman: SPENCER TAMBORA
Eric: That is your name for the interview.
Matt: FUCK YOU GOTTESMAN!!!!!!
Eric: FUCK YOU TAMBORA
Matt: Okay, so give the short explanation of when Everything Goes Cold started and why it’s taken so damn long for you to get a full-length out.
Matt: (and if you lie I kill you.)
Eric: Uh… I’ve been too busy playing shows with Caustic once every six months?
Matt: FUCK YOU GOTTESMAN!!!!
Matt: RICHIE SAMBORA!!!!!
Eric: HE’S YOUR LONG LOST BROTHER
Eric: I spent my entire ride home trying to settle on that name and you’re going to use it, dammit.
Matt: You realize any answers you give may end up in the interview.
Matt: Or I may change them to make me seem funnier. (note: No answers were changed. They were all left naturally hysterical.)
Eric: I presume that all of this is ending up in the interview unedited.
Eric: Yeah, well…
Eric: fuck you, tambora.
Matt: Ehehe, we’ll see how long it is.
Eric: Okay, back to the question: When See Colin Slash finished, I was busy mostly with Psyclon Nine, and I knew that -eventually- I’d get around to doing something else on my own, so I started sporadically writing and remixing stuff under the name Everything Goes Cold. I played in a gazillion bands as a live member or whatever in the interim, but when I finally left P9 in… ’07? I finally was able to make enough time and energy to actually put this thing together. So I spent the end of ’07 through mid-’08 firming up the concept for the band, putting together the live show, and then eventually recording the EP (Prepare To Be Refrigerated- ed.), and then this past year on the album. Oh, I also spent the end of ’07 through mid-’08 being really, really, really drunk. With you some of the time, as you may recall.
Matt: I recall nothing.
Matt: Oh, wait, that was you. That’s right. Recalled.
Matt: Where’d you get the name from?
Eric: I got the name from a crooked boat salesman in a pink trenchcoat with a string of human nipples sewn in to the…
Eric: The thing on the inside of a coat.
Eric: The lining.
Eric: I actually somewhat regret the name.
Matt: I don’t believe you.
Eric: I don’t believe you, Tambora.
Matt: DON’T LIE TO ME GOTTESMAN!!!!!!
Eric: DON’T MESS WITH ME TAMBORA.
Matt: Few artists do ‘concept CDs’ these days, especially in the industrial genre. What made you want to tackle it and is it something you’ve always wanted to do? Do you think in the age of downloading that this makes the CD’s cohesive themes more of an asset or liability?
Eric: Well, it isn’t -really- a concept CD. It was going to be- it was going to follow the storyline of the comic and the super secret CD messages, but I had a few songs finished that really wouldn’t have fit that, but that I really wanted on the album, and I eventually kinda scrapped the idea.
Eric: The only song left that’s really part of the concept proper is “Ice Brigade”.
Eric: As for albums in the age of downloading…
Eric: Well, I like albums. I know, intellectually, that they’re an artificial construct of economy and technology from the ’60s that has no real musical reason to exist, but I really enjoy cohesive, one hour long sets of music by one artist. That’s how I like to buy music, and I try to make music that I’d want to buy. Whether the album- much less the concept album- will survive the next decade of music technology, I have no idea. I hope that it does, because I don’t want to see music devolve back in to a huge mess of singles. But I don’t know.
Matt: Is that how you listen to it, or are you big on the mp3 “shuffle” feature?
Eric: I do both. Half the time I just leave my iPod on shuffle and let it take me where it does until I have to skip past a Caustic track, but I listen to entire albums a lot too.
Matt: How do you think Everything Goes Cold’s sound would have changed had you only been working on this project the whole time, i.e. what do you think you learned from all your years working in other bands?
Eric: Well, I think I learned a lot more about the business side of things from being in other bands than anything about -writing- music.
Matt: I assume your writing skills improved working in those bands though. Do you prefer working alone or the collaborative process?
Eric: I mean, the way I write orchestral parts and how to arrange a good dance track and elements of music that people grab on to… those sorts of things were all ideas that definitely developed with my time in P9.
Eric: But most of the other bands I’ve done very little -writing- for.
Eric: In theory, I want to collaborate. In practice, my best work comes out alone.
Matt: Fair enough.
Matt: Like Cyanotic and Rabbit Junk, you’re a modern “coldwave” band– what drew you to that sound and do you think you’re a part of a new renaissance of the style?
Eric: Most people don’t want to collaborate with a guy who’s naked and covered in duck fat while he licks his computer.
Eric: So. For WRITING, it’s tough.
Matt: I actually believe you’re wrong on that one. I happen to love duck fat.
Eric: You’re not most people.
Eric: You are.
Matt: Yes, I am. And I’m every woman.
Eric: But not in that way.
Eric: I have stopped typing because I am now singing “I’m Every Woman” to myself. Softly. (editor’s note: I’m Every Woman was a Chaka Khan song that was covered by Whitney Houston in the film The Bodguard. Remember when people actually paid to see Kevin Costner? Probably not, as you were born after that came out. Kevin Costner’s a tool. Good in The Untouchables, though.)
Matt: Good. Are you naked?
Matt: Wanna cyber?
Eric: Let’s cyber.
Eric: I’ll be the suffering industrial artist and you be the creepy interviewer.
Matt: So, uh, what are you wearing?
Eric: I’m wearing my own band’s hoodie.
Matt: Wow. That’s hot.
Matt: Nothing else?
Eric: No, but I have a stuffed walrus on top of my monitor.
Eric: It’s a puppet.
Eric: Technically, I could put it on my wang.
Matt: Please do. Then I wouldn’t feel like the only one.
Eric: No. I’m going to go back and answer the coldwave question instead.
Matt: Fine. I was done when you said “puppet” anyway.
Eric: When I first got in to industrial music, back in ye olde 1990s, I was a teenager and not particularly interested in the high-and-mighty ideals that the genre was based on. But I was angsty and angry and most metal that I heard seemed ridiculous to me and had themes I didn’t give a crap about. So when I discovered that there was angsty, angry music about computers and cyborgs and crap… well, that’s what I got in to. And of course later I got really involved in the other stuff, but ultimately I’m here for the dorky Neuromancer themes.
Eric: So, since Everything Goes Cold was the first band I’ve ever gotten to make the decisions unilaterally for, I went that direction.
Matt: Name your top 3 old school CDs/artists that have influenced this, and top 3 new ones.
Matt: Meaning for your album and sound.
Matt: And you can mention me as all of them.
Eric: Oh man. okay, I’m actually gonna do 3 old school industrial discs, 3 coldwave discs, and 3 new industrial discs. Otherwise this won’t work.
Eric: In no particular order:
Eric: Old school industrial: 1. Die Warzau – Bigelectricmetalbassface 2. My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult – Confessions of a Knife 3. Foetus – Nail
Eric: Coldwave: 1. Diatribe – Diatribe 2. Christ Analogue – In Radiant Decay 3. Hate Dept. – Meat.Your.Maker
Eric: New industrial: 1. Caustic – Booze Up and Riot (yeah shut up) 2. Combichrist – What the Fuck is Wrong with You People 3. Rabbit Junk – ReFrame
Eric: Oh- also Babyland. All of it. But I wasn’t really sure which list to put them in.
Matt: Ehehe, Babyland gets top billing.
Eric: Pretty much, yeah.
Eric: Most people may not know that their old oil drum (the big one that Smith ran the grinder on for many years) is in my studio.
Eric: I didn’t use it on the album though.
Matt: That’s awesome.
Eric: Oh, also Dismantled’s Standard Issue should really be in that last list somewhere.
Matt: Going back to See Colin Slash for a bit – have you considered playing any of the old See Colin Slash tracks with Everything Goes Cold? Hardcore is a killer track and still as relevant as when you both wrote it.
Matt: (and I’m just being pushy as I’d love to hear that song in the ‘Everything Goes Cold style’.)
Eric: We actually just played “Stand Defeated” at an Everything Goes Cold show in November! We’ve played that a few times.
Eric: Not “Hardcore!” though, if I never hear that song again it’ll be too soon.
Eric: If we were ever going to play another See Colin Slash song, I’d probably choose “You Make Me Feel Like Morrissey” or “You and Your Commie Friends”. I think the latter would actually fit with Everything Goes Cold, but the former is my favorite thing we did.
Matt: Both excellent tracks.
Matt: So what are your dreams and plans now that you’ve finally got an album out– Touring? Remixing? Ice cream flavors? (or “flavours”, for our Euro readers)
Eric: We’re going on a tour remixing new ice cream flavoors.
Eric: See what I did there, Tambora?
Matt: Yes, and stop calling me Tambora.
Eric: Stop calling me Reese Pantolienne.
Matt: Okay, now I’m going to ask you some questions that I gathered from Facebook
Matt: And no, I’ll always call you that. (note: Matt never called him that.)
Eric: You gathered questions from Facebook?
Eric: Were they questions to me?
Matt: Yes: From one James Archibald Smith: “What’s that smell?”
Eric: Have you done this before? Can you ask me somebody else’s questions instead? Or in addition?
Matt: I do what I want. I’m Matt fucking Fanale.
Matt: And Amanda fucking Palmer, if she were hairier and had eyebrows.
Eric: Well, as I stated right before we started the interview, at that time I had to pee.
Eric: Since you may have noticed that I haven’t stopped typing, Mr. Smith can glean his own answer.
Matt: Well why don’t you go pee then?
Eric: Amanda Palmer should take the hair from her armpits and place it above her eyes.
Eric: It could be an art project!
Eric: I don’t get the “no eyebrow” thing.
Eric: I find it highly distressing.
Eric: I like eyebrows.
Matt: You’re in the goth/industrial scene and don’t get the no eyebrow thing?
Matt: En Esch?
Matt: You after I shave off your eyebrows again?
Eric: I get it on En Esch. Have you ever seen footage of En Esch with hair?
Eric: It’s terrifying.
Matt: No, that would ruin my world.
Eric: Don’t watch the “More and Faster” video, then.
Matt: And I don’t need it ruined again.
Matt: WELL I WON’T THEN!!!
Eric: I have a photo of En Esch and I touching tongues somewhere.
Eric: I could send it to you.
Eric: I could.
Eric: If you want me to.
Matt: This doesn’t surprise me, and yes you should send it to me.
Matt: With a pic of your walrus puppet on your wang.
Eric: Maybe I will.
Matt: No, you definitely will.
Eric: Was “what’s that smell” the only question that Facebook generated?
Matt: No, but you were whining about peeing so I didn’t get to another one.
Eric: Incidentally, the funny thing here is that people probably think we’re joking.
Eric: In fact YOU might think I’m joking.
Eric: But I’m not.
Matt: I know you’re not joking. You’re totally weird.
Eric: But I need my girlfriend to get here to take the picture. The walrus is too big to hold the camera far enough away.
Matt: I think most of the other questions were answered and/or inside jokes.
Eric: I’ll tell her to take the picture.
Eric: And she’ll say, “For the love of god, why?”
Matt: That sounds good. I’ll use it as the promo pic for the interview.
Eric: and I’ll say FOR SPENCER TAMBORA.
Matt: Then you’ll say “It’s for Matt!” and she’ll say “Ohhhhh.”
Eric: Well, maybe.
Eric: Give me the best inside joke question.
Matt: “Are you a firm believer in Competent-Core?”
Matt: From one Erica “Unter Null” Dunham.
Eric: Then I’ll explain it at great length, thus making it unfunny to readers, and no longer funny to those for whom it is “inside”.
Eric: I know who it’s from!
Matt: I assume it’s an inside joke as I don’t know what it means
Matt: I know YOU know, but it’s for the readers.
Eric: WE FOUND AN IN-JOKE YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT.
Eric: Should I still explain it at great length?
Matt: Yes, and I’ll write out my last question that’ll actually pertain to the interview.
Eric: It might be funnier if I just responded with “ooooOOOOoooo, DAVID DUTTON” and left you in the dark about it.
Matt: That works, too.
Eric: I actually don’t think I can explain the Competent-Core joke without insulting way more people than I’m willing to insult publicly right now.
Matt: How many people would it actually insult?
Matt: Less than 7?
Eric: More than 7.
Matt: Like 12?
Eric: Hold on, I’ll ask Erica.
Matt: IS IT ABOUT ME?!?!?!! GODDAMMIT IT BETTER NOT BE ABOUT ME!!!!!!!
Eric: IT’S ONLY A LITTLE ABOUT YOU
Eric: [7:42] &st;Eric Gottesman< matt wants an exact number of people that it would insult
Eric: [7:43] &st;Erica< 3.14 million
Eric: [7:43] &st;Erica< the square root of infinity
Matt: That’s a lot of people.
Eric: It’s a lot of people.
Matt: Do you think it’s harder to be seen as a serious artist when you’ve got an obvious sense of humor in your music in a traditionally non-humorous genre?
Eric: Yes, and it’s even harder when there are “humorous” artists like Caustic muddying the waters for the rest of us.
Matt: And do you think attitudes are changing now that artists such as yourself, The Gothsicles, B00le, and others are also in that category?
Eric: Actually really yes, and it’s a huge pain.
Matt: And Caustic is a terribly serious project. It’s hard to camelcrunch all those fart noises.
Eric: Firstly, we do have a good number of completely “serious” songs, as do b00l3, and you. The Testicles, not so much.
Eric: That didn’t work.
Matt: I know what you were getting at.
Eric: Brian (Graupner, aka darkNES) always does that thing where he replaces the “goth” in “Gothsicles” with something else.
Eric: I just chose “test” arbitrarily. It didn’t work.
Matt: Do you think that the humorous songs tend to overshadow the more serious ones? Or, alternately, the tongue-in-cheek nature of the titles makes them harder to take seriously?
Eric: You know, I expected them to, but they actually haven’t. when we put the EP out, we thought of “I’ve Sold Your Organs on the Black Market…” as the single, and I thought we’d have a really hard time selling the two serious tracks on there… but actually, while people still seem to be buying that disc for [that track], invariably the thing I hear back about the most is “FAIL”, which is one of the serious tracks.
Eric: What I was really going for there was the Pop Will Eat Itself serious song thing.
Matt: I can totally see that.
Eric: PWEI does a lot of very jokey songs, but if you’re really in to them and then you hear, say, “Eat Me Drink Me Love Me Kill Me” or “Everything’s Cool”, they have a really augmented sense of drama as a result of the fact that you’re not expecting it.
Eric: It’s like listening to a comedian talk politics.
Matt: I find it strange that people rarely give the respect to people who can make them laugh and (maybe) think a bit (like PWEI ) than those who beat them over the head with how EEVIL they are.
Eric: If you like the comedian, they can probably do a pretty good job of making you think when they act serious for a minute. I want to be George Carlin, or even Jon Stewart, in that respect.
Matt: Agreed. I was thinking of Jon Stewart in that way too.
Eric: Well, I think some of that’s a maturity thing, as much as it pains me to say that. What with the internet and everything, a lot of people are coming in to industrial music through the eeeeeeeeeeevil and the gasmasks and whatnot, and while previously I think people would get in to something like that and then graduate in to something more complex, there’s a bit of a dearth of emotionally or politically complex stuff in the genre at the moment.
Matt: I think so, or it’s simply not getting much play. I’m sure there’s a lot out there– it’s just hard to find it in a sea of bands.
Eric: Which is not to say that the stuff out there is -bad-, it isn’t (well, some of it is), but the eeeeeevil stuff is very straightforward. You know what you’re getting pretty immediately. It’s not like buying a Laibach record where you can sit there and debate about what they really meant with that “Saw” sample.
Eric: Well, beyond that, I think people who would be making the complex stuff are leaving for other genres. Which is a shame, because I really, really love industrial music.
Matt: I think there’s a lot of unexplored territory for the genre, personally, and that’s one reason I really admire what you and a lot of other bands are doing presently.
Matt: To kiss your ass for a moment.
Eric: I definitely think so. I think some of the really outstanding albums of the last few years really show that off. genCAB, for example.
Matt: Okay, we should finish this up. Any words of wisdom for the fans out there?
Eric: Words of wisdom.
Matt: Or something stupid.
Matt: Or a good recipe for pizza.
Eric: Words of wisdom:
Eric: “Write like you’re The KLF. Play like you’re Scooter.”
Matt: That works.
Matt: And, sadly, those are better words of wisdom than I could share.
Matt: Thanks Eric. Have a great release party at Death Guild tonight.
Eric: Maybe I will, Spencer.
Eric: Maybe I will.
Matt: GODDAMMIT MY NAME ISN’T SPENCER TAMBORA!!!!!!
Eric: FUCK YOU YES IT IS TAMBORA
Spencer Tambora: FUCK YOU GOTTESMAN!!!!!!!!
— interview by Matt “Caustic” Fanale (December 2009)