Interview with Roberto Massaglia & David Foreman,
Saturday 5th June 2004
Written by Gordon Taylor of Infectious Unease Radio
I first met Robert and David when I was DJing at the Blue Velvet Bar in Melbourne Victoria Australia, a place where all bands and DJs would come and chat, network or just chill in the relaxed setting. I was taken by their charismatic personality. I had always enjoyed their music having a powerful industrial electronic sound, the lyrics covering many political and social issues. Naturally I interviewed them live on Infectious Unease Radio. They express an intelligent energy in their music that is unique. They are a band who are very much into networking with other bands and organizations. They work with others to make a wonderful lasting music subculture for everyone. They are a band that have toured with many other bands including international acts such as Sheep On Drugs, Chaos Engine, and Covenant. They are a hard working band that are very modest about their achievements and are very charming to talk to.
DATE: Saturday Jun 5, 2004
BAND MEMBERS: Roberto Massaglia, David Foreman,
Despair ltd. cd 2k1
Devolution. cd 2k2
Strip Off The Gilt. cd jan2k4
“Invisible Scars”“Fiend Issue 3 CD”
‘Elite’ [inst. club mix]- septic 2
‘Dodlike’ [iconoclastic mix]- electrauma 6
‘FDlip ’em out’- a.s.i.n.g.e.d
‘Bruises’ [body ripped]- dissonant structures
AT WHAT AGE DID YOU BOTH TAKE UP MUSIC, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE UP MUSIC? AND WHAT ARE YOUR BACKGROUNDS AND HOW DID YOU MEET? AND WHEN DID TANKT FIRST BEGIN?
David Foreman: Well for me, I was inspired by the electronic music coming out of Germany, Belgium and Canada in the mid to late eighties most of which I discovered through a brilliant radio show on Melbourne’s 3RRR called the ‘Flying Fish Show’ which ran from 1987-90
Roberto Massaglia: pretty late for me, considering that I never considered myself a musician, David approached me one night in a local club after watching me jumping around like a maniac on a couple of tracks and asked me if I wanted to be part of a band, naturally I said yes and what came next is history.
WHAT PREVIOUS BANDS HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN? WHAT STYLES OF MUSIC DID YOU PLAY IN THESE BANDS?
David Foreman: none, I was a virgin before Tankt.
Roberto Massaglia: when I was 17 years old I had a short experience in a band called Hogs formed by with classmates, nobody could play though and that
WHAT INSTRUMENTS AND EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE WHEN PRODUCING AND PERFORMING YOUR MUSIC?
David Foreman: bare knuckles and a screwdriver, I’m still into hardware, I
haven’t yet been converted to soft synths, although Roby has just started dabbling in those particular black arts.
YOU HAVE RELEASED SEVERAL ALBUMS. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE MUSIC AND LYRICS? HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO PRODUCE, AND WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS OF PRODUCTION! YOU HAVE USED SAMPLE ON SOME OF YOUR COMPERSITIONS WHERE DO COLLECT YOUR SAMPLES FROM?
David Foreman: phew! The first two releases came about rather spontaneously
really without much of a plan other than to make music, I suppose our remix of ‘elite’ was the first conscientious effort at producing a club track, and indeed, a club track that included some sort of political/social agenda, as for samples, we don’t really use them much, a bit of ‘trainspotting’ on the track ‘spiders’ and some ‘Romper Stomper’ and ’Black Adder’ dialogue on ‘Dejava’ just for a laugh, we like being the ugly Melbourne boys!
Roberto Massaglia: I think anger, frustration have had quite an impact on most of our lyrics, that doesn’t mean we are angry people though.
HOW HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN FOR STRIP OFF THE GILT?
David Foreman: On one hand- people have contacted us expressing their appreciation of certain songs, some people have ‘understood’ our point at combining so many different styles and elements together, whilst some of the labels and distributors we’ve exposed it to have shown an emphatic dislike of it. A certain promotions company in Europe suggested that we’d have difficulty getting any club or chart action with the album, which made us lament the state of being an underground band and still having to toe the line of chart riggers and label politics, but a part of the problem in Europe at the moment is the rather conservative music industry climate- even amongst independent labels- as a large distributor called EFA went broke earlier this year leaving much monies owed to small labels, and under these circumstances not many new bands can be signed as there is little capital left to invest, but out of this is some good news for us… Sydney based national distributor MGM has agreed to release the CD for us in July/august, and this in turn will hopefully help interest distributors overseas.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO PRODUCE STRIP off the GILT
David Foreman: way too long, 18 months in total, with the last three months burning me completely out, we gave ourselves a final deadline and then pushed hard to reach it, by the time the mastering process was underway I hated the whole album! It’s very tough trying to fit the huge amount of hours of writing, recording, mixing and all the other sundry band related things into a life filled with fulltime work and relationships, and to keep a balanced perspective of it all, with each release our expectations get higher and the perceived work load gets bigger, but I’m telling you now- the next release will NOT take
HAVE DONE ANY REMIXS FOR YOUR MUSIC OR FOR ANY OTHER BANDS?
David Foreman: we’ll pretty much only remix for a band we like, I’ve just finished one for the crystalline effect, and we’re doing one for cold stream temple from New Zealand, and I’ll be getting around to remixing one of resurrection eve’s old chestnuts soon, we’ve remixed some of our own tracks for live performance- given that live electronic music can often be predictable, I think it’s worthwhile producing interesting new versions for the live shows.
YOUR MUSIC HAS BEEN ON A LOT OF COMPILATIONS. WHAT COMPILATIONS WHERE THEY?
David Foreman: check the website… www.tankt.com.au for the list, there’s about five I think, we are currently mixing a cover version of a track called ‘Dead Days’ which will go on a tribute CD to the awesome Texan electronic band Mentallo and the Fixer- the project of Dwayne and Gary Dassing, we’re on the CD attached to the latest fiend magazine.
YOUR MUSIC HAS MANY STYLES OF SOUND. TO PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT OF HEARD TANKT HOW WOULD OF YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND TO THEM?
David Foreman: Electropunk, maybe, it’s so hard to categorise really, which is
both strength and a weakness for us.
Roberto Massaglia: I think that Laura from Sublevel203.com did a pretty neat
description of our music without necessarily label it, so here it is: “The music itself is a bit industrial, a bit EBM, and good ol’ rock-n-roll.”
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ANY SIDE PROJECTS?
David Foreman: not right now but never rule it out for either of us
Roberto Massaglia: a project called Zippo strain has taken form, but my first priority
is with Tankt.
WHEN YOU GET THE TIME WHAT MUSIC DO YOU ALL ENJOY LISTENING TO?
David Foreman: these days mostly sleazy dance grooves, I like sexy tunes.
Roberto Massaglia: I find quite difficult to listen to just one genre, it’s much
easier for me to tell you what’s playing in my stereo right now – an
electronic based Italian project called Nova.
WHAT GIGS DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST AND WHAT WAS THE AUDIENCE RESPONSE?
David Foreman: Hobart in November 2k1 was cool, the crowd really got into it and we got well looked after, I had a brilliant weekend exploring Hobart and going for an adventure in the Huon Pine forest and chasing snow, Sydney in December 2k1 was cool too, my first time in Sydney, and like something out of a film, I also enjoyed the most recent gig here in Melbourne [Achtung in march 2k4], I think I’m now beginning to find my own stage presence, Roby is such a dynamic and in-your-face performer and I think we really compliment each other having Mav and mark contribute so much to our live sound certainly helps as well. We’ve just come back from another trip to Sydney, where we supported
Covenant, we were very primed for the gig and we pulled off our best performance to date, also it was great to play in front of a large appreciative audience, we got a huge reception, and we thrived on it, Sydney always provides a surreal experience.
Roberto Massaglia: Yeah Sydney rocked, it was good to have some friends dancing and singing with us on stage.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY GIGS IN, WHICH YOU HAVE NOT SO MUCH ENJOYED?
David Foreman: Adelaide October 2k1, by the time we got on it was just us and the pokies in the room opposite, and the plastic pot plants, true!
IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL INCORPORATED WITHIN YOUR PERFORMANCES?
David Foreman: we try to have an interesting backdrop, banners and video
projection, and Roby and I try to be as dynamic as possible, we want
to combine the best elements of punk and electronica in our shows.
WHEN YOU HAVE A PERFORMANCE WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU ARE ON THAT STAGE. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU FEEL? WHAT SORT OF EMOTIONS DO YOU GO THROUGH WHEN THE EYES OF THE AUDIENCE ARE ON YOU?
David Foreman: sometimes I get into ‘the zone’ and can’t remember the show. I
like to perform sober. I’ll maybe have a beer before I go on stage to settle some of the nerves, but I love that feeling of being on the edge, in Sydney I was very conscious of being aware of my surroundings, and especially of the audience, and I managed to take a lot in this time so I was happy.
Roberto Massaglia: If we don’t get technical problems, generally we engage the
audience much more.
WHICH BANDS HAVE YOU PERFORM GIGS WITH?
David Foreman: Dandelion Wine, Immaculata, diffused Fusion, Isomer, Resurrection Eve, Sheep On drugs, Chaos Engine, Angel Theory, The Crystalline Effect, Jekyll Switch, Snog, The Redresser, Rim 60, Bride Of The Atom, Covenant, Novakill.
WHAT MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD WHEN PLAYING LIVE?
David Foreman: Getting laid is always a good one, 😉
Roberto Massaglia: ditto
DO YOU HAVE ANY FUNNY OR INTERESTING EXPERIENCES YOU WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT?
David Foreman: plenty, but not many I wish to have known to a larger audience! Seriously though- although the financial rewards for being in a band are non-existent, there are compensations, like the brilliant people you get to meet along the way, the supportive people out there make the whole thing worth it…
YOU RECEIVED PRESS, ELECTRONIC PRESS, RADIO AIRPLAY AND DJ AIRPLAY FROM AROUND THE WORLD. WHAT COUNTRIES, RADIO STATIONS AND DJ HAVE BEEN POSITIVE ABOUT YOUR WORK?
Roberto Massaglia: David. And I of www.elektrauma.de has always been very supportive, you yourself Gordon www.infectiousunease.com – likewise… primary, blatant propaganda, so to synthobserver at www.synthpop.ru, also the guys at Sydney gothic have been great in talking us up! We notice that ‘elite’ gets on play lists all around the world, and lastly Stéphane Froidcoeur of Side-Line magazine in Belgium has printed two excellent full-page interviews
with us… [sorry to anyone I’ve forgotten…]
APART FROM BEING IN TANKT WHAT OTHER CREATIVE THINGS DO YOU GET
David Foreman: nothing- everything beyond Tankt is reactionary for me.
Roberto Massaglia: Being a graphic designer and all, I naturally enjoy designing other people CD covers, apart from that music is my first concern.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE SUBCULTURE IN AUSTRALIA?
David Foreman: it’s probably the same as anywhere else on many levels, there’ll be a small dedicated hardcore who are music purists through and through, here’ll be those who are into their clothes, and there’ll be those into both, Karl from Sydney Gothic mentioned a rather salient point the other week, that Australian audiences seem to be more open to different styles than most overseas audiences, I believe this is true when comparing the reaction to ‘strip off the gilt’ by Australian audiences and Europeans, the Australians are more likely to ‘get it’, but I’m also sick of the politics and squabbling in the scene, guys- get over it! Roby and I, with some other like minded Australian bands, are in the process of setting up a small collective with the notion of exchanging support and promotion, ideas, and skills with each other, to help create a stronger professional movement for us all, rather than working individually we hope to combine our strengths and give ourselves a little more power in what is, unfortunately, an over-saturated industry, we’re just struggling to survive!
IN, WHICH COUNTRIES DO YOU, RECEIVE THE MOST RESPONSE FROM?
David Foreman: it has been from Germany up until now, maybe more Australians are about to discover us.
Roberto Massaglia: let’s hope so, I’m quite tired of eating cat food!
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
David Foreman: I’m going fishing mate…
Roberto Massaglia: living in Paris sounds more and more appealing.