Scissor Shockís Adam Cooley is unlikely to
ever garner the sort of underground legend status allotted to Merzbow or
The Haters, although his unusual assemblages of sound have led to a
dedicated following amongst lovers of unconventional music. With releases
out on several noteworthy microlabels, as well as a whole bevy of
compilation appearances, Cooley has proven himself an enormously
productive and continuously innovative sound sculptor. As his Scissor
Shock outfit nears its end (at least for the time being), Cooley reflects
on his past musical meanderings and answers our incisive, insightful, and
occasionally grotesque 20 Questions. Read on...
1. Scissor Shock's sound has changed
considerably over the years, and awhile back you cut ties with the egrind
scene. What sorts of genres and sounds have you been experimenting with as
of late, and what would you like to try in the future?
First of all, thanks for the interview. I get
interviewed about once a year, and this interview has the most interesting
questions I've been asked yet! Anyway, I never felt a
part of the egrind
scene; when I was first making this music, I was the only one making it
that I knew of. I mean, I was doing what is now called egrind back in my
band Stagedive Suicide when I was 12 (approximately a decade ago), before
I knew Libido Airbag or SMES or whoever ended up becoming the egrind
"originators". It just seemed like a natural fit. Somewhere along the way,
a thousand dumb kids started screaming over Fruity Loops and people
suddenly started appreciating the music I was making. By that point, I
REALLY wasn't interested in making it. I never called my music grindcore,
to the best of my knowledge, though I did scream, and there was a drum
machine. I was more interested in no wave music and stuff and the idea of
a drum machine being arrhythmic, a style I still explore a bit. Also,
don't get me wrong, there are some egrind bands I love (Kindergarten
Hazing Ritual, Gigantic Brain, It's Okay We're Chainsaws, Bubblegum
Octopus though he's a bit too poppy to be labeled "egrind".... and a few
others), but I feel like there is just too much crap out there nowadays,
and I always felt a bit "outside" of that, even though I've obviously done
splits with some of those bands and some people in that scene have helped
me get to, uh, where I am today, I guess. The point is, when I started
making this stuff, I was just trying to do something different... making
music no one else was making because I wanted to hear it. And I've pretty
much changed my sound dramatically with every album, because there's no
point in repeating myself. In the process, it has alienated potential fans
and record labels and such who want me to release something that sounds
like something else I'd done. Which always makes me curious, because I
have no idea what albums of mine people have actually heard and what sound
I'm associated with... for all I know, people could be basing my entire
project from the songs on myspace. Basically, the stuff I'm writing at the
moment sounds like Jandek, with actual riffs, doing a prog rock western,
in collaboration with Captain Beefheart. I guess.
2. What is there to do in Columbus,
Indiana? What's the music scene like?
I live in a town of 50,000 people, and for
whatever reason, there has been an active and interesting musical scene
here; lots of creative and even like-minded musicians and LOTS of bands,
usually started by some combination of the same handful of people. I mean,
garage surf bands, psychedelic bands, lots of experimental punk and
electronic bands, even a band that sounds like Goblin (frequent Dario
Argento collaborators). Lots of intelligent, open-minded, talented people
have come and gone here. The problem is, there are no places to play... we
played a few shows here but got kicked out because even though there are
some open-minded people, the MAJORITY of people are ignorant fuckheads. We
pretty much have to drive 30 miles away to play a show nowadays. But
that's okay. I don't really connect with most people around here, though
the few I do connect with... I wouldn't trade them for anything in the
world, and I often collaborate with them.
3. What's on your stereo as of late?
I mainly listen to drone, actually. Drone...
and the old stand-bys: I always tell people they need to get the entire
discographies of John Fahey, Thinking Fellers Union Local # 282, Sun City
Girls, Slowdive, Jandek, Captain Beefheart, Cerberus Shoal, and a few
releases by Boredoms, Jim O'Rourke, and Merzbow. That's all you really
NEED in life, though obviously my musical tastes reach a little further
4. How much attention do you pay to
reviews of your releases?
I think they're interesting, because I'm
basically sending albums to people who probably have no idea what to make
of what I'm doing. I don't even know if my music is that GOOD, I don't
ever listen to it, but I know what I'm doing is at least INTERESTING. And
certainly most reviewers say things along those lines, "Unique!
Innovative! I never want to listen to it again though!" I'm fine by that.
I pretty much agree! Sometimes, it's more important to influence a lot of
people than to actually be consistent all the time. When you're doing
something that is clearly "experimental", you're going to REALLY divide
people. But I know I have a few fans who aren't reviewers who love
everything I've done. So... whatever. The music is out there, people can
do what they want with it, you know?
5. Your lyrics and song titles are bizarre
and often quite shocking. What inspires themes such as apocalypse and
6. Digital music versus tangible, physical
Doesn't matter. There won't be much physical
product much longer. One year, I sold a whopping 155 physical CD's.. that
was YEARS ago, maybe 4 or 5? Nowadays, I sell maybe 20 in a year (myself;
I have no idea what the labels sell off of me, probably not much). Why is
that? The interest in my music has definitely only gotten bigger, I've
made way better music, and I've released stuff on some respected
underground labels. I get new fans all the time. So... I just think people
are starting to lose interest in physical product in general. Which is
fine by me to an extent, I never made money off of the physical CD's I
sold, anyway; I sold them for the price of shipping and handling. The only
problem is, I LOVE physical products, and I love all these little labels,
which feature plenty of smart, open-minded people working impossibly hard
for releases that'll only be heard by maybe 50 people. So, I hope it
doesn't die, and I think it won't die out COMPLETELY, but it's certainly
getting to that point. I just want people to hear my music, in whatever
form. I'd be doing this stuff anyway, even if I had no audience
whatsoever. I just wish some labels would get more appreciation for their
hard work and effort.
7. Would you rather drink a pint of
diarrhea straight from the source, or a pint of garbage juice
fresh-squeezed from the truck?
I guess it depends on what the garbage and
the diarrhea are made of. Generally, I'd like to think diarrhea is a
little healthier than garbage... garbage is a broad term, right? I mean,
that could include oils and other weird chemicals... yeah, diarrhea,
8. Your "influences" list on myspace names
about half the bands on the planet and spans quite an array of genres. Are
there any genres you don't like at all?
No. I tend to find something good in
everything in life. Even if it's something I hate, I'll try to pick one
element that appeals to me. I like quite a bit of mainstream pop, country,
rap. There's something cool in everything, even if it's just a silly 2
second slide guitar part or some weird synth tone. Whatever.
9. Lately you've had a string of releases
on Jay Watson's Placenta imprint. How did that happen and how has it
Jay is a great guy, very friendly and easy to
work with. He sent me some Placenta stuff, including DENTAL WORK who are
excellent... and he got very interested in my band for whatever reason (I
have no idea why people like the stuff I do), and he wanted to work with
me for a while but I played hard-to-get, as I usually do with labels for a
bit. Haha. But yeah, I decided to do a clearing-of-the-vaults album and
throw together all these weird rarities from the past 5 years. He did a
great job on putting that release together, and I think it's a good album
for people just getting into Scissor Shock and also, strangely, since
every song sounds SO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, it also may be one of the
weirdest albums ever made. It sounds like 20 different bands, really.
Anyway... I plan on putting out the next full length through him if he
wants me to. It's up to him.
10. You've been a part of many bands and
have also formed several solo projects. What are some of the highlights?
I donít know. Haha. One of my favorite things
to do was with Steev (ex-xdiedenroutey label owner, Warmth/Roxanne Jean
Polise/etc), this thing called "fragment" which was 80 minutes of nothing
but very short clips of low and high frequencies. Excruciatingly painful
but very minimal noise glitches, unlike anything I've ever heard in the
field of extreme music, and I don't think many people have heard it
because we both kind of made a pact not to send it to a lot of people and
to have no samples of it online or whatever, but I loved that album. I
pretty much collaborated with whoever wanted to collaborate with me for a
while but at this point I'm pretty busy, since I mainly just focus on my
other band, Robe., when I'm not writing new Scissor Shock songs.
11. Where do you keep all your archival
recordings? How often do you go back and listen to your old stuff?
I never listen to them. Anyone that wants to
hear any album of mine can go to www.last.fm/music/Scissor+Shock where I
have 'em all up for free except for some of the split songs and the
current rarities release. I'll put those up there sometime in the future.
12. How did you become connected with
I think I met Steev through a Mindless Self
Indulgence newsgroup or something. We both thought each other was
brilliant and we decided to work together on some stuff. Very fun. I miss
Steev (I never talk to him anymore) and that label.
13. How does your OCD interact with your
music production? Your songs are often quite random and
"all-over-the-place," which to me is quite different from the typical OCD
mold. Is music your outlet?
Yeah. I actually have OCD, according to a
doctor 5 years ago, and I was on pills for it, and it didn't help. But it
doesn't really affect my life. Basically, everything I own is
alphabetized, all my clothes are color-coordinated. I'm obsessed with
order. Though my songs seem all over the place, to me there are some
sounds and themes that run throughout the songs I constantly go back to.
Though it doesn't seem like it, my songs are very structured, probably too
structured, and I'm trying to get away from that for the next album, but
no matter what I do it still has a distinct sound. Either way, I haven't
really thought about how OCD has affected my music; certainly, I'm a
perfectionist, my music doesn't SOUND technically perfect, but it's
perfect based on how I WANT it to sound, if that makes sense. But even on
the next album, I'm going to have someone co-producing it for the first
time ever (!), just because I want to do something completely new.
14. What sorts of movies do you enjoy? Any
favourite films or directors?
Oh, that's a loaded question. Movies are my
life. I review movies for Netflix, and I'm actually currently #155. Of all
the people on the site reviewing movies, I'm ranked #155. I'm a big movie
dork. I really could go on and on all day for this one, but let me just
list a few of my all time favorites: Hana-Bi, Eureka (2001), Sonatine,
Dolls, Violent Cop, Period Piece, Touch Me in the Morning, Garbanzo Gas,
Everlasting Pine, Bride of Frank, the Corndog Man, Reflections of Evil,
the Killer, ZERO, Migrating Forms, Back Against the Wall, Combat Shock,
Fatty Drives the Bus, Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy, Izo, Maniac, The Gates
of Hell, Tenebre, Beyond the Darkness, Stalker, Bad Lieutenant, Night
Train to Terror, Visitor Q, Pinnochio 964, Tetsuo, Videodrome, Dead
Ringers, Dead Zone, Tokyo Fist, Death Powder, Mulholland Drive, Wild at
Heart, Blue Velvet, El Topo, Long Live Death, Holy Mountain, Once Upon a
Time in the West, Dog Star Man, Fallen Angels, Fulltime Killer, Eli Eli
Rema Sabatchthani?, Lucifer Rising, Chungking Express, Survive Style 5+,
Clean Shaven, Pistol Opera, Bullet Ballet, Liquid Sky, Doom Generation,
Totally Fucked Up, The Living End, Nowhere, Taxi Driver, Possession, Blow
Out, Koyaanisqatsi, Sombre, I Stand Alone, A Clockwork Orange, Man Bites
Dog, Heart of Glass, The Beyond, Happiness, Last Life in the Universe,
Riki-Oh: Story of Ricky, Brain Damage, Begotten, Home Alone, Deep Red,
Barton Fink, Freddy Got Fingered, King of Comedy, Casino, Hard Boiled,
Aguirre: Wrath of God, The Untold Story, Body Double, Obsession, Dressed
to Kill, All About Lily Chou-Chou............ jesus. I'll stop now. My
favorite director is either Giuseppe Andrews or Takeshi Kitano, though I
also love Dario Argento, Larry Cohen, David Cronenberg, Brian DePalma,
Abel Ferrara, Shozin Fukui, Lucio Fulci, Stuart Gordon, Frank Henenlotter,
Werner Herzog, [early] Peter Jackson, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lloyd Kaufman,
Ki-duk Kim, H.G. Lewis, David Lynch, Takashi Miike, Gasper Noe, Chan-Wook
Park, Martin Scorsese, Jan Svankmajer, Shinya Tsukamoto, Brian Yuzna, John
Waters, John Woo... and the Coens. Whoo! I am in the early process of
making a film but right now I'm too busy absorbing all the films I've been
meaning to see but haven't gotten around to yet. I have approximately 150
old movies to watch and I've officially seen every film that I've ever
been interested in in the least. Then, I can just watch new films!
15. What's your day job?
I stock 3rd shift at Wal-Mart, doing frozen
foods... Heh. Real spectacular answer, eh? One day I want to be a
secretary... I forgot to list "Secretary" as one of my favorite films.
Anyway, I can type 149 words per minute. So, I'm good with my fingers.
That wasn't a joke.
16. Allegedly, your live performances are
infrequent but spectacular. I've seen the pictures! How does Scissor Shock
music translate to a live setting?
Ah, yeah, live performances are infrequent,
mainly because there's nowhere to play! But I just try to make every show
different. There are some videos on Youtube of live shows with more coming
soon, if anyone's interested. Sometimes they're noisy and, uh, "free",
sometimes they're a bit more structured. I donít know. I just try to make
17. What would you consider the highlights
of your discography?
I dunno, I think every release is better than
the one before it. So, the next one, definitely! I'm a bit embarrassed by
the early stuff, but that's most people's favorite. Hmm... A lot of
people's favorite is THE MARS TRAVOLTA, but I know a few fans of mine who
hate it. TEASE THE SKELETON was well-received. Hell, I don't know. I don't
care. Just, everyone: Get every release, delete the ones you don't like,
and share the rest on Soulseek. The end.
18. What would you do with a million
Not much. Get a better car. Probably not be
much happier than I am (not) now.
19. What is your favourite colour? Justify
Glow-in-the-dark green. Because.
20. What's next for Scissor Shock? Also,
do you have any words of advice for the young'uns?
Well, I'm going to record a new album called
SHRINE TO SALVAGED JUNK. There are a few unfinished songs on the myspace
for it now. It's probably the last Scissor Shock album... if not just for
now then definitely for a looooooooooong time. My main focus is my
drone/doom/experimental band, Robe. (http://www.myspace.com/robetheband)...
I'm much more interested in that musical world, and I can actually
re-listen to it without cringing, so I'd consider Robe. my main band now.
It took some time to get to that point in my life, since that music is so
dark that I didn't always connect with it, but I feel like the music I
make in Scissor Shock is going to start resembling Robe. If I don't stop
now, considering that's the music that interests me. So, why not just put
all my creativity into one band instead of doing two similar ones? So,
perhaps when I'm feeling saucy in the future, I'll do some new and weird
Scissor Shock stuff. But it'll be a lot more interesting for me to keep
calling the next album the last one I ever do, regardless of whether or
not I change my mind. Hah. I have secretly ended Scissor Shock a good 4 or
5 times but ended up continuing it. So, we'll see. Sometimes, I just don't
see the point in continuing it. Perhaps this whole paragraph could be
considered words of advice. Don't end up like me.
Thanks for the interview, Matt!
conducted by Matt Shimmer
SHOCK ONLINE |
SHOCK ON MYSPACE