Schizoid: The Next Extreme

By Laura Wiebe

In 1999 a small but international underground label called D-Trash Records released a noisy, electronic and metallic record called Enough is Enough! – the debut from southern Ontario digital hardcore artist Schizoid. Band and label followed up with another full-length, All Things Are Connected, the next year, marking D-Trash’s first officially pressed release under its new DTECH imprint. Approaching two hundred CD-R and pressed albums and thousands of mp3s later, D-Trash is about to unleash its latest DTECH offensive, the first collection of original Schizoid material released since 2000: The Next Extreme.

What is “The Next Extreme”?

It’s a final unshrouding of the veil, a revelation. It is chaos, self-destruction, tyrannical negativity and misanthropy. It’s a kind of Hell. It is the apocalypse that’s long since happened, as much as it is the one we all yearning for. It’s the cathartic answer to desperate questions and longings. It’s like every nuclear bomb in the world going off at once. It’s the end of and the new beginning of a perpetual series of tribulations. It’s also the 16 songs of my third SCHIZOID album.

What musical activities have you been involved with that have kept you from releasing your own original material until now?

In the last years while being/in SCHIZOID, I performed in a few other bands. 2000-2008 I was the vocalist/early bassist for DEAD OF WINTER, a true black metal band that ended up getting our disc on PROFOUND LORE Records. We played many, many shows. Also I was in an abstract experimental duo called EXIST, and was the bassist/vocalist for an animal rights-driven grind band REALITY TERROR.

I also started remixing other bands. Some exclusively for the bands, such as RED HARVEST, MORTIIS, AGNOSTIC FRONT, CANDIRU, and ATARI TEENAGE RIOT, as well as mix duties for many D-TRASH Records’ artists.

With the release of 2000’s All Things Are Connected I found myself in the driver’s seat of the D-TRASH label and found myself becoming a publicist, an accountant, a graphic artist, and sound engineer, over the course of our 150+ releases. It’s very rewarding but time consuming work with now over 100 artists on the roster. This has built a foundation for what happens now with SCHIZOID. I feel I’ve definitely paid my dues.

As you indicate, the history of Schizoid is tightly wound up with the history of D-Trash Records. Can you discuss that relationship a little – how D-Trash and Schizoid are, perhaps, interdependent entities?

I always liked the idea of the band spearheading the label that they release through, getting things done instead of the band and label acting uncooperatively. Whether it was EXIT 13 and early RELAPSE or DEAD KENNEDYS & ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES. MAYHEM and DEATHLIKE SILENCE… or specifically ATARI TEENAGE RIOT and DIGITAL HARDCORE RECORDINGS. ATR epitomized the digital hardcore sound and championed it.

It’s the same thing with SCHIZOID. There is definitely a musical relation between SCHIZOID and D-TRASH, and to some extent this album is a reflection of the direction that I’ve been trying to steer D-TRASH in over the years to differentiate our sound: nasty, tough, cyberpunk music.

I got a tattoo of the SCHIZOID tri-mark on my right shoulder, my first tattoo. Once I’d got it done, right away I knew that my left shoulder should wear the D-TRASH triskele, which it now does. That’s what it’s like. I wear both on my sleeve literally.

How has the writing and recording process worked for you this time around?

My last SCHIZOID full-lengths were almost like learning what my sound was in public, and were put together very quickly. The recording process this time remained virtually the same as before (Acid 2.0, Fruity Loops 3.4, Cool Edit Pro 1.2), but the writing process changed a lot to trying to write “songs” instead of “tracks.”

There had been skeletons of songs, but they must have been written and re-written hundreds of times to get to where they are now. For many years, I wrestled with self-critical attempts to write “the perfect SCHIZOID album.” Some songs started to become a struggle not only figuratively, but literally; I found myself lyrically mocking the point or purpose of even recording much less finishing the album itself, in the headspace I was in.

Production-wise this time, I got invaluable help for the final product with a mixer, JOHN POOLEY, taking the separated guitar, drum, bass, breakcore, et al. tracks, and doing a better job than I could of figuring what levels should be what. As well, I finally found a mastering guy who knew SCHIZOID and knew the type of “big sound” that I was looking for – kudos to MARTY FAMINE.

Can you elaborate on your collaborations on this record? What did each artist bring to the tracks they contributed to? How did the collaborations work in practical terms?

Each of the 16 songs on The Next Extreme has guest vocals. Basically, I made a short list of all-time fave vocalists that I would like to work with from D-TRASH, approached them with the lyrics, the BPM and a demo of the song and said “Go nuts, do your best screams how you think is right.” A lot was done over the internet considering D-TRASH’s worldwide reach and that they could not be physically present.

I’ve guested on many of the label’s artists’ songs and I wanted to return the favor. There is a whirlwind of my own shrieks, screeches and grunted lyrics so having another voice in the wall of noise of a song was not out of place. I approached the idea of an every-song cameo with caution, wanting to avoid sounding like a guest on my own disc, or having unnecessary addition to the songs I wrote. I shouldn’t have been surprised at how well everyone nailed the parts and understood what was necessary. I’m proud enough of my comrades in D-TRASH or the scene to bring them along for the The Next Extreme experience.

You talk about The Next Extreme being a more negative collection of recordings and ideas. To what extent has this change in tone been informed by personal experience and/or how much of it is a matter of the broader contemporary social/political climate?

This time I didn’t want to make a political causes album. I still retain every word of what I said previously on the last album in songs about either animal rights (“Food For Thought”), the redistribution of wealth (“Extinct And Obsolete”), or the shadow governments and New World Order (“All Things Are Connected”). Everything that the late 1990s/early 2000s prophesized would happen politically, economically and socially has unfortunately happened.

The Next Extreme, if anything, is an anti-causes album. Sure it was shaped by the G.W. Bush/Harper years. New songs like “Real Evil” talk about the populace’s ability to overlook mass suffering as collateral damage. “Slaviour Saves” dissects the infotainment state of our culture and many of the false martyrs of the celebrity scourge. “Mainstream Underground” attacks the state of both the underground and mainstream music cultures for their mediocrity and elitism.

However, politics were not my aim in writing this. Over the past decades I’ve lost two friends to suicide. One of them, my brother in DEAD OF WINTER, Kaehl, was arrested for attempted murder, determined mentally unfit before taking his own life. I’ve been divorced. I was laid off, and on food stamps, starving. I lost my house to the bank. I’ve had stalkers. I’ve filed bankruptcy and lost everything. A lot of songs deal with the day to day drudgery, resentment, apathy and loss of another schmuck whom the “American Dream” (should we say, Canadian Dream) failed. Many of the years in DEAD OF WINTER and Kitchener and later in Toronto definitely kept a perpetual storm cloud over my head. For years this album felt like the last thing I would ever do, before ultimately killing myself as well. Unfortunately for my enemies, that ended up not happening; instead, the disc was completed. “What doesn’t kill you…,” I guess, right?

What were some of your biggest musical influences for this record?

Black metal like LEVIATHAN, XASTHUR, CREBAIN, WEAKLING, MAYHEM, BURZUM, DARKTHRONE, NIVEN DIV 187, BLUT AUS NORD. Writing material for DEAD OF WINTER was probably the biggest possible inspiration for taking my guitar experience with the Covered In Metal covers album (D-Trash, 2003) and developing my style to a more ‘necro’ sound. As well, classically, SCHIZOID was definitely influenced by industrial/metal/etc. like MINISTRY, PITCHSHIFTER, CANDIRU, ATARI TEENAGE RIOT, DEAD WORLD, MONSTER VOODOO MACHINE, MEATHOOK SEED, ULTRAVIOLENCE, SOULSTORM. And all of my personal favorite D-TRASH Records releases were a big influence and inspiration.

The Next Extreme has a very multi-faceted existence, from the title-track video, to the remixes, to electronic, CD and cassette versions of the album. Do you think this development is, in a sense, characteristic of the underground genres you’re operating in, or have there been other circumstances at work here?

This is a very specific response to the trend towards a format-less musical marketplace. I’ve seen many very good albums get lost in the sands of a thousand other “Status Updates,” albums that were relegated to “mp3 album” status, no-named files with no art. I’m a collector. I have thousands of CDs and vinyl, for starters. I will NOT let my hard work be marginalized or forgotten. Some friends even ask why I’m pressing a CD digipack of it? I say release a cassette, an MP3 digital, a 2xLP vinyl, a laser disc, a VHS, an 8-track, whatever it takes to get these songs heard and remembered by even one person. This is the time and I don’t want any stones unturned. It’s “Do what you can with what you have” like it’s always been, the DIY way where the limit is your own ambition and effort. There already has been to date a 7” split with HUMAN HERD containing the title track as a B-Side to a ’45, a music video for the title track, an 18-song remix album based on the title track, and this is all part of a massive snowball-effect that I’ve strategized over the past years in readying this release.

Tell us a bit about the live recordings you’re in the process of making for The Next Extreme.

I have been performing SCHIZOID in a live capacity for some years, either operating solo or with a live guitarist. Now I’ve recruited TalixZen/PANGUISH to perform live noise/FX/vocals for me. We have, this year, played a number of shows, with a setlist of “Side A” of the album, tracks 01-08. We performed a set of this July 25, 2012 and recorded it straight to soundboard. I’m looking at hiring a live bassist to perform these songs as well, and we intend to do the same run/process with Side B. We’ll see how these turn out and hopefully they’ll find a release during some cycle of The Next Extreme. I want to, optimally, get to the point where we’re playing the album, the whole hour, all the way through, at least for some shows. I’m a fan of the bands who play their entire new album front to back. It’s badass.

What’s next on the agenda for Schizoid? And for D-Trash?

I have so much personally, emotionally invested in this album that I can’t necessarily think of “what’s next” especially after trying to find closure to something that felt like it was eternal. “The Last Extreme,” the last song, hints at what’s ahead. What can you do when each page of the last chapter becomes another prologue to a series of New Extremes? Try to find purpose through struggle. I plan on touring a lot for this album, hopefully to start getting to the USA and especially the UK. We’ll see where it goes from here. D-Trash will always continue doing what we/they do and this album is a big bet for us to put onto the gambling table and go “All In” with. I’d sure say it’s about time this happened.

As of August 1, 2012, D-Trash Records has The Next Extreme available for download (http://schizoid.bandcamp.com) and on cassette and is taking pre-orders for CDs to be shipped September 1. The album will also be in major digital download stores at the beginning of September, and on October 1, the CD will be officially released for retail sales.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.