THE SCREAMiNG JETS
|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS DESiLLUSiON
THE BLASPHEMOUS AND THE BEAUTiFULWhen I spoke to WESTIN HALVORSON of DESILLUSION, it was raining like crazy outside. It was just the sort of setting you would expect when interviewing a member of gothic-industrial band based in Seattle, but according to HALVORSON, the port city known for its rain and fog was engulfed in sunshine. Within the past couple of months, DESILLUSION has released their E.P. BLASPHAESTHETIC and the boys have gone all out in terms of production. With production cred from the like of BRIAN DIEMAR, RAE DILEO, and STEVEN BIER JR. (MADONNA WAYNE GACY of MARILYN MANSON), BLASPHAESTHETIC does what all great industrial music does - treats all things sacred and profane like theyíre kid stuff and connects to the disaffected adolescent that slam dances inside of all of us.
WESTiN HALVORSON OF DESiLLUSiON
TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT THEiR E.P. BLASPHAESTHETIC
WORKiNG WiTHMADONNA WAYNE GACY
AND CARRYiNG THE TORCH
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with WESTIN HALVORSON over the phone. Here is how it went.
Is BLASPHAESTHETIC a hint o f a larger work to come or is this a stand-alone release?
Oh this isnít it. We have about four other songs that are not on the E.P. that we were going to include on a full-length release but the general consensus of what people like about us isnít quite in yet. Weíre heading more towards the more aggressive industrial sound as opposed to keeping things soft and techno-y with guitars here and there. Weíre going to go back in August and record a new CD. With this release we had some material that we really wanted to record and we thought people would like it. Instead of releasing a whole album we just thought weíd release an E.P. and keep it cheap. This way, everybody can get a good feel for what kind of music we play. Before anyone spend fifteen bucks on an album, everyone wants to make sure that they like the band.
So long has DESILUUSION been together?
This current line up has been together since last June, but me and GALIN have been doing this for two years solid.
Why the change in line up?
Well you know how flaky some musicians can be. GALEN has been the only one that has stuck by my side and has helped to push for his band to go somewhere. Our bass players were always lacking in that. They had either succumbed to the rock n roll lifestyle too fast an started doing drugs or they just couldnít handle the hours with a day job and being a musician at night and to have to do it all over again starting at seven oíclock. The band as it is now is finally complete. JOEY is our solid third member that is going o be there forever hopefully.
With the band having this industrial metal sound, do drugs find you guys a little more easily?
With that kind of psychedelic music you do get that kind of crowd. They do find us but there are hundreds of other things that we could do to entertain ourselves as opposed to doing drugs. Alcohol is about the only thing that any of us do and we donít even do that too much. We usually like to keep things very professional until our day off Ė then we will let loose and fucking live.
Well now that BLASPHAESTHETIC is out there for everybody to hear, how do you feel about the finished work?
I feel really, really good. Right before the E.P. was nationally released, we went on tour with COMBICHRIST and BLACK LIGHT BURN throughout the Midwest and the eastern part of the U.S. We are very well established band up here in Seattle and it has been a really long time since weíve had to be the opening act. Normally we are the headliner or the direct support for the headliner. Psychologically, people donít really respect the opening band but the attention that we got and the sales we were racking up on those dates Ė they made me feel really good! All of the people who would attend the shows hit us up on MYSPACE and say that they listen to the E.P. constantly. Theyíre like ĎI fuckiní love it! I wanna hear everything you guys have done and canít wait to hear what else you guys have got.í SO I feel really good about it. With MADONNA WAYNE GACY from MARILYN MANSON at our side recording us and vouching for us, I just feel like itís good all around that we donít get a lot of bad things said about us. And if we do, it is by someone who is the jealous type.
You just walked into an observation of mine. For an E.P., youíve got a lot of producers.
We do. Iím really happy with the names that weíve got. A band that I knew went to England to record with the guy who produced NINE INCH NAILS for a little while because they thought that guy wouldíve been a name to sell their album and it turned out like shit, they got no buzz from it because everyone was like ĎI know NINE INCH NAILS, but I donít know this guy! All I know is TRENT REZNOR!í SO I think that we took the right path by being produced by people in bands that already have a foreknowledge of what kind of sound that weíre going for in the studio. As long as you push that the right way, people catch on really quick - especially GACY, who hasnít put his name on anything other than his solo project since MANSON. In the greater scheme of things, we are the first project that he has done since leaving MANSON.
Youíve also opened for THE GENITORTURERS.
I saw a show of theirs when I was eighteen. I had always had a really sheltered life but to see piercing like that on stage was devastating to me.
I was raised Christian and went to a Christian school through seventh grade.
I went to a Catholic School and seeing the GENITORTURERS was an experience Iíll never forget. Never seen anything like it since.
Yeah, its debauchery incarnate right there.
Their lead singer GEN was something else.
Yeah. She is a fine person if you ask me. Despite her show Ėher as a person and her ethic and the way she treats people Ė she is an ace in my book. She treats people the way that they deserve to be treated. Any blonde with big tits that is mildly good looking is going to have some amount of ego and that is to be expected. I expected a lot more ego from her than what I experienced. She is just a really cool person.
What are your shows like. It sounds like you music lends itself well to some pretty interesting visual ideas.
We put a lot into our show Ė ever since we first started. We knew it was going to take a lot to get people to listen to something new in Seattle. Seattle is a very hard crowd to impress. Itís kind of like L.A. The scene is so oversaturated. For every band that is god there are twenty-five others that are just shit. We knew that we were going have to do something to get people talking. We invested so much damn money in lighting. We donít have the same show every time. That is one thing that I think is really awesome. We will do something noticeably different whether it be the way we dress or the way the lights are set up. Weíll position them differently. Iíll jump and Iíll rile the crowd once in a while. Itís just very energetic. We sound a lot more metal and a lot heavier live. When you see a person onstage going crazy and rocking out that influences people to do the same. When Iím up there, Iíve got to lead the pack. Sometimes Iíve probably incited the crowd a little too much but itís a rock show. Hatís what weíre there to do. Weíre there to put on a rock show. Even people that donít like our music that come to our show say ĎI donít really like your kind of music, but you guys put on the best show Iíve seen since I can remember!í.
What drew you to music in the beginning?
Iíve always liked music ever since I was a kid. Even when I was going to Christian School I felt a real connection to it. It could me feel a way that nothing else ever really could. Itís kind of like masturbation. Its about the same as sex, it just isnít as good. Itís just a pure emotion that you can synthesize from anything else. Growing up I was a very desperate youth. I had a lot of problems in middle school. In a Christian school I didnít fit in because I lived my life in fear and I was constantly miserable and when I transferred over to a public school, here I was this guy wearing all black who didnít fit in it that Christian school and thought that Iíd fit in a little better at the public school but that wasnít the case. I got into a lot of fights and I got jumped a lot by a local gang bangers and stuff. I was shot at and stabbed. Through all of that, music was just something that I could cling onto. It was as if the artist that I was listening to was singing like he had been there and I felt like I wasnít alone. I think I got into music in the same way that most people who have something to say got into it. Hey had something to say and they wanted people to hear it. I grew up listening to KORN and NINE INCH NAILS. Theyíre all getting old as shit and they are not what they used to be and donít have much longer to go in the music business and I feel like Iím trying to carry the torch.
You grew up listening to KORN? How old are you?
Twenty-two. Still young.
Talk about your band mates and what it is that that each of them brings to the table both musically and personality-wise.
GALEN WALING is a classically trained musician. He sort of fell into this whole thing. GALEN rode the wave but not as much as JAY. GALEN brings that insignificant piece that you synthesize with synthetic drums. You canít fill that void with a drummer that doesnít have vision. GALEN has vision. He canít play too much otherwise the drums will cover up everything and he canít play too little otherwise what the fuck is the point of having drums. He is just the perfect fit for the kind of music that Iím playing. Personality-wise, GALEN is just a really low key and really nice. He is just an observer. JAY KELLER has a winnerís attitude, which is one of the things that I love the most about him. He is a hard worker, he doesnít bitch too often and he knows that the job isnít getting done by itself. We have to go out there and make our success happen. Some bands think that all youíve got to do is open up a MYSPACE page and people will listen and thatís not how it works. Youíve got to shove it in their Goddamned faces and JAY is willing to of that with me. Joeys is always showing great enthusiasm and is always trying to get better at the bass. If you want to know my personality, Iíd probably give you a biased opinion.
What songs stand out for you the most form this E.P. and why?
Itís a toss-up between two songs. The title track stands out to me the most because I try to keep my lyrics as abstract as possible so that way many people can relate to it. Whatís the point in writing something unless people can relate to it. They like to know what your singing about but they piece together what your singing about just by interpreting the lyrics. They canít do that if you are being too direct. BLASPHAESTHETIC was the only cong where I was able to articulate Ė in an abstract way Ė my views about the coexistence between people and organized religion and that is what that song sands out for me. I really feel like I accomplished something with that song. I really like how heavy it is. DESPERATION has that really dark vibe to it. The music and the lyrics just accent each other perfectly. If I was listening to that song and there were no lyrics, those are the kind of words that would be going through my head.
How does songwriting work for you?
Normally, Iíll write the music before I write the lyrics but sometimes I will be walking around and Iíll start doing poems in my head or something and then Iíll bring it down to a musical level. I just spend hours out in the band room with a melody in my head and Iíll write down that melody and write ten different things on top of it and put them all in different parts. Iíve got all of the necessary musical equipment to not be limited to what kind of sounds I have to work with, so there is no risk of running dry on material. I get writers block once in a while but after I mix it all down and Iím happy with the song, Iíll make a recording and listen to it on the shittiest stereo possible and if it sounds good, its ready to bring to the band and start rehearsing it for live performance.
Since starting DESILLUSION, what has been the biggest surprise for you?
To be honest with you, I never really expected anything. I had no idea or concept of what any of this was going to be like. I had no illusion about making music and making a million bucks and having people loving me and signing autographs. I just expected people to connect to the music but at the same time I didnít. I also didnít expect us to become as successful as we have become as quickly as we did. Right now, Iím starting to expect certain things. Iím expecting things to get a lot less stable and more spontaneous.
What would you like someone to come away with after theyíve heard this CD?
I think that anybody who gets their CD listened to wants a person to walk away and walk right back and listen to it again or like it enough to put it on their I-TUNES so that they didnít have to walk away at all. Iíd like them to walk away with that one song that they really connected to playing over and over in their head. Iíd like for them to connect to it and if they feel that way, then they are really not alone. I think that is one of the biggest killers of people who are jaded by the experience of being alive Ė they always feel like they are alone. They think they are so unique that no one else can connect with them, and normally those are the kinds of people that listen to music and I want them to know that weíve been their and weíve done that and that you donít have to give up.