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Most heavy music is designed to sustain a high, but Philistine is designed to achieve the comedown

Interview with Philistine.
P>Philistine is a young project from the US, that play extremely heavy and crushing doom, inspired by the likes of Godflesh and Halo. They released their first effort in 2004 (Consume and Devour) by themselves on CD-R and MP3 for free. I contacted Natas Corpsegrinder (what's in a name?) for some explanation on what Philistine is all about.


Consume And Devour cover

Hello Natas, let me begin by asking something about the origin of Philistine. How did you and Slave Voltage come where you are today with the project?

The origin of Philistine was a natural progression, not something that I jumped into without previous experimentation.  I have roots in all the various styles that I've combined for use in Philistine.  Whether it's the industrial/noisecore samples, or the tritone guitar chords I use, they all have their base in something I've done previously. Philistine is the result of various influences and periods I've gone through in the last decade.


Judging from the articles on your website, you have a very clear goal you want to achieve with Philistine’s music: catharsis and submission. In other words, the creation of a sonic attack that will break and numb the listener into a state of harmony and peace. Would you care to expand on this a little?

It's about being tired.  Most people have had the experience of being so tired that even places that would normally be uncomfortable to sleep upon, are extremely pleasant.  Having sex is a similar phenomenon, if I can be somewhat crude for a moment.  Think about the tension you feel before having sex.  I would equate this with an agitated feeling.  So this is the imbalance or aggravation that most people experience during normal life.  Next would be the actual act itself. This is similar to listening to or taking part in music.  Everything is heightened, and becomes much more emotionally charged.  The senses are amplified and you can feel energy coursing through your body.  Finally, we have the big comedown.  The massive expenditure of energy at the end puts you in a state of acceptance.  It doesn't matter that you're all sweaty, naked, or vulnerable. You're entirely at peace and just relax and let everything wash over you.  It's the exact same result I'm trying to achieve sonically.  Most heavy music is designed to sustain a high, but Philistine is designed to achieve the comedown.


Natas Corpsegrinder

Does this effect also count for you, the musician? Do you find your style of music to be particularly purging to play?

I find that it does count for me, but strangely I find resonance with other people's music more often. I would suspect that I'm desensitized by my own creations by design. I already know the emotional strings to pull, so it doesn't come as a shock.


Besides the purpose of the music itself, I can also detect a more political and philosophical statement in the lyrics. I take it you are not fond of the wars and mentality of modern humanity?

That's a correct assumption.  I'm rather dumbstruck by the things I see going on around me.  It's hard to process really, because the magnitude is so great, yet at the same time I'm somewhat removed from the situation.  It's this horrible thing that's removed entirely from my hands.  I think that's why it's one of the primary topics I focus on, because it's those eternal, unchanging negative forces that I need to deal with as a person. If it's a small scale event in my life, then I can work through that, but if it's something beyond space and time, then there is no practical solution, and I need an outlet for that.  The evil of humanity and the callousness of nature are these abstract opponents, and trying to deal with them is like trying to strangle a ghost.  You're never going to get anywhere, so you just have to accept that, through whatever means you can summon, and move on to those things that you can change.


In any case, I believe you have achieved your goal, as I certainly feel better after listening to Consume and Devour. The emphasis on crushing, pounding, rumbling, etc. in the music, lyrics and articles makes the album actually become the hammer that beats the listener into submission.

Excellent, that's the goal.  Even though the music is "negative", the end result should be positive. It's just a different approach for a different scenario.  There are times to beat and times to be beaten.  Philistine is music for being beaten.


About the music itself, you name a few modern bands to make clear in which tradition you are playing, namely that of Industrial Doom/Death. Besides an obvious influence such as Godflesh and Crowbar, are you influenced by pioneers of the Industrial genre such as Laibach and Swans?

Post-industrial is definitely an influence on Philistine.  Previous projects I've worked on have been much more straight post-industrial, similar to NIN, Laibach, KMFDM, and the like.  It was my first exposure to harsh electronic elements, and the first time I realized the heaviness you can achieve without the traditional band setup of guitarist, bassist, drummer, and vocalist. As far as the Swans go, they were never much of an influence on me, although I do have respect for them and their take on the world.  I would say they are more of a secondhand influence on me.  I do like the new Neurosis & Jarboe album quite a bit though.


Our reviewer, Matt Zuchowski, also named Zaraza as a similarly sounding group. Had you heard about these Canadian Industrial doomsters before the review was published? Are you familiar with them now?

I was familiar with Zaraza before the review was published.  I like the sterility of their music. It was a sound that I had experimented with before, and I think we have similar roots in bands like Laibach.  For Philistine I was trying to get away from that influence a bit and add more organic elements.  I feel that Zaraza and Philistine are definitely branches on the same tree, yet growing in different directions.  I also have much respect for the way Zaraza conducts themselves in the doom-metal community.  They are an asset.


What are your musical preferences besides the tradition you play in?

I'm into a lot of different subgenres in the aggressive music spectrum: noisecore, industrial, thrash metal, death metal, techno, hip-hop, ambient, hardcore, nu-metal.  I'm not into most pop music, country, jazz, or rap.


Consume and Devour is available for free on the web. Obviously this is a conscious and (in my opinion) good decision as it makes the music widely available. However, the quality of the album is high enough to justify a normal demo or album release. Why did you choose the free distribution option? What is your opinion of the (underground) musical industry nowadays?

Just to clarify, a demo is available in CD-R format as well as the free MP3 release, for those who would like a hard copy.  I've debated the idea of signing a formal music contract, but would only do so to reach a wider distribution.  If I were to align with a label like "Southern Lord" or "Relapse", I would have the potential to reach a greater amount of people than a self-release, yet at the same time, I would be restricted from releasing it for free.  It's a balancing act.  I chose the free distribution option, because I feel that I can reach more people that way at the moment, and at no charge to anybody.  If a label like "Southern Lord" would want to sign Philistine, then I'd have no problem joining with them.  It's really about what's the most helpful at the current moment.  It's obviously not about money, as anyone active in the genre can tell you.  I would like a higher quality release in regards to CD pressing, and booklet reproduction, however, and a proper release would solve this.

I think the musical underground is alive and well.  Peer-to-peer file trading is helping with the spread of material, but I hope that it doesn't push the old style of distribution and communication away.  The combination of the two is a synergistic effect.  The biggest problem I've seen is that everyone is juggling real life problems with their musical efforts, be it website, zine, band, or label, and it makes for slow growth.  It spreads people thin.  I would like to see some major players in the underground unite to solve this.  There seems to be a willingness to cooperate, but someone with clout needs to set it in motion.  How many tiny CD-R only labels do we really need?  Why not pool the resources and become something more?


The Devil in the Oven

Are you or will you be playing live gigs?

There is no live music for Philistine at the moment, unfortunately.  If there was an opportunity to do so, then I would.  I don't expect this to happen anytime soon, since there is a severe lack of able musicians willing to play this style.  Even so, Philistine will always be a studio band at heart.


When can we expect new material?

Soon.  I'm guessing by fall of 2004.  I've discussed producing a split release with a few respected individuals in the doom community, and hopefully something will come of that.  Worst case scenario is that Philistine will pound out a solo EP later this year.  This is all speculation of course.  There's also a Misfits cover song that has been recorded and should be posted on the website soon.


What’s up with that mysterious “devil-in-the-oven”?

Just sticking things where they are "not supposed to be."  When people see ordinary items in unusual circumstances it really invokes an uncomfortable feeling.  It's similar to the cemetery scene in the movie "Easy Rider", or the VHS tape in the movie, "The Ring".


Thank you very much for your time. Until next time… any last words?

It was my pleasure.  Anyone interested in pushing the boundaries of doom, or pursuing some type of collaboration is encouraged to contact me.  Get crushed.

Visit the Philistine bandpage.

Interviewed on 2004-08-19 by Oscar.
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