You may remember way back before October 2002 we asked you to submit a few questions that you would have asked Chris Vrenna, given the opportunity. Well, they were answered rather promptly, but I was back in college and generally things were busy as hell, and (despite valiantefforts by WhitechapelMolly) this fully conducted interview has gone unposted, sitting in my inbox for about four months. I hate doing things like that.
Thankfully, there is about two feet of snow outside, and the chances of me going to work tomorrow are next to nil, which gave me the bright idea of taking care of a few projects I'd let sit too long. The first of which is this interview, which comes as we draw closer to the release of the Tweaker DVD, and while Chris is currently formulating the follow up to The Attraction To All Things Uncertain, which is tentatively referred to as Tweaker2. To help fill you in on what's been going on, we've also borrowed generously from the online diary that Chris has been keeping at the forums on his website, where you can get the scoop on new Tweaker net-exclusive releases and chat it up with a good variety of people. Anyhow, I think four months is enough stalling, on to the questions!
TNINH: The question most people had asked was pretty much - are you touring?
CV: Not right away. I'm working on the second Tweaker record, and am going to wait till then to do a tour.
TNINH: Passing on a question from quasar in Russia, "Chris, what do you read?"
CV: Mostly gear manuals! haha. I sadly have very little time to curl up with a good book.
TNINH: A fellow named Randy asked, "would like to ask Chris Vrenna what ever became of the track with Burton Bell from Fear Factory singing on it. People who were lucky enough to get the early version of "Attraction to all things..." raved about it, and I was disappointed to find that it wasn't on the final release!"
CV: Yeah, when ALMO folded and I got to rework the record for Six Degrees, I did change the tone of the overall picture, so some of the heavier tracks like the one's with Burton and Xzibit were left off. I think both of these tracks (I Am The One w/ Burton Bell and Ready-4-War with Xzibit) are going to be on the upcoming Tweaker DVD.
TNINH: Andrew Welch asked, "What do you think about some of the other acts to sign with Artist Direct? Namely Mellowdrone."
CV: I have only heard a little of Mellowdrone and thought it was great. He's very talented. I am actually looking forward to hearing his record when it's done. I think Artist Direct is doing a great job of signing cool different sounding artists.
TNINH: Someone named Spiderclaw asked if he could borrow fifty bucks. That means it's time for me to start making up questions.
CV: I've only got $11.78 and 3 sticks of Extra gum in my pocket. Will that do?
heard of many a pro-tools oriented musician straying further and
you asked that. I have just about every soft synth that works within
ProTools, but to be honest, I still prefer my hardware. I think they
sound richer, and tracking them through good mic pres, compressors,
and eq's futher adds a dimensionality that software cannot touch.
TNINH: You apparently produced a track by a self-proclaimed electroclash act Formate. What do you think of this 'electroclash' movement, with it's hearkening to the darker side of the 80's synth-pop sound?
CV: I love it. The 80s was my youth, so there is a special place inside me for that. I'm glad the kids today are discovering it.
TNINH: Any ideas where you're going to go with the follow-up to TATATU?
CV: I'm putting ideas together right now. The record will be weirder than the first, with more live drums. I've been rediscovering my instrument, and been having fun playing drums again. Other than that, you'll just have to wait.
TNINH: (cliche alert!) Heard any tracks that have particularly caught your ears lately?
CV: My favorite new music is the new Primal Scream, new Sigor Ros, and new Peter Gabriel. [ed. note - new circa Oct. '02]
I've talked to Joe Sorren about doing the cover for the next record and we are currently discussing images for the cover. So, yes, as of now, my favorite artist and good friend, Joe Sorren, will be involved in the next record.
I alluded to much more live drumming and that raised the question of the amount of programming on the next record. Although we're writing the songs with a fairly organic basis, I still love the crazy noise loops and psychotic, brooding, ambient beds and, try as I might, they will always be a part of tweaker.
The first record was a very dear story to me that was a fulfilling way to express my weird instrumental music. I may be getting old, but I still enjoy an album that has some sort of consistent thread or attitude and not just a bunch of random songs that don't have any deeper meaning when put together. Although the second record may not have a deliberate storyline, as we are writing there has become a subconcious theme to all of the music that I plan to flesh out as guest vocalists join the project. Three or four songs into the writing, I realized that there was a consistent mood with different emotions, and, over time, and still tonight as I write this, it is still opening itself to me. Hopefully when it's done, this collection of songs will be something that resonates in your head as you fall asleep.
I think everyone is born with talents, but it takes work to bring these talents out, and we all must start somewhere and at sometime. At a young age my father noticed I may have a talent for drums. He got me lessons but I had to practice every day for years to develop that talent. My first remixes were for very small bands. It took years of doing them before U2's "Elevation" came along. Even with tweaker, there was much to learn from making TATATU that I am now applying to the next record.
I'm now moving into
a new phase on the tweaker record. I am starting the fun part of sound
experiments and actual tracking. On the last record, I started with
noises and loops, and THEN put them into songs later. On this record,
I really want to focus more on the songwriting itself first. We've all
heard the philosophy that a good song should stand up being played simply
on accoustic guitar or piano. I tried to apply that on this record,
and not HAVE to rely on my production to make an emotive song. So, we
wrote songs with the same patches, presets, and samples just so that
the focus would be the content on the music, and not the SOUND of the
Interview conducted 10/17/2002 with additional material from tweaker.net. Layout and design by Leviathant. Photography by WhitechapelMolly. Special thanks to Jeff Antebi. Do not reproduce without permission. Article ©2003 The NIN Hotline.