Pigwalk (Century Media)
An interview with vocalist Bonz
by Scott Hefflon
There’s a year and a half between ’94’s Snappin’ Necks and the new release, Pigwalk. What have you been doing?
Touring. Constantly touring.
The new material sounds sooo much heavier than the last. Was that mostly due to Devin Townsend’s production, or was it a stylistic change?
Both. Mostly, we just had more say-so concerning the production of this record. Last time, we just handed it over, it was produced, and we were handed back the finished record.
How did you hook up with Devin?
We met him in California. He was already a fan of the band, both the music and the message, so we just hit it off. When it was time to do the next record, we called up Devin to see if he could come out. He packed up his sample stuff, his little overnight bag with his, like, two or three outfits, and he came down for seven weeks to bang it out with us.
Pigwalk sounds a lot like Strapping Young Lad; it’s got Devin’s fingerprints all over it.
He’s got great ideas, so we didn’t mind him doing whatever he wanted to do.
The only thing you may have lost in the monstrous production is the difference between your rapping lead and Rich’s death-roar backing vocals.
Last time, we really wanted to push that out and make it really dramatic. This time we wanted to pull it back, keep it subtle. The last record didn’t really capture our live sound at all, so we wanted to make a record that could get that across. The last one was also the result of four years worth of work. Some of those songs we don’t even perform anymore. We were more funk-oriented in the beginning, but we’re much more machine-oriented now. Not sterile, but like Fear Factory, or something.
Are there some people that resent the changes you’ve made?
Some. When Rich first went overseas, some people were making accusations about Devin writing the songs, playing all the guitars, doing all the vocals, and we were like, “Huh?” If you listen to songs like “Not Promised Tomorrow,” “F.O.D.,” and “2 Minutes of Death,” those were the last ones written for Snappin’ Necks, and they could probably be on the new record and fit right in A-OK. We’re not alternative, but we are an alternative. Some places call us heavy, some call us metal, some call us alternative. It’s weird to have so many tags, and always be the same band. It’s confusing, but it’s alright. Pretty soon, we’ll be in “have to” status. No one likes to “have to” play a certain band, but that’s what happens. That’s what happened to 311. It got to the point that there was such popular demand, mostly ’cause they toured so much, that people had to start playing their records.
CIV might be thought of the same way, except they’re poppier than you are, and they (as Gorilla Biscuits) come from a hardcore background.
Hardcore is another tag we hear a lot. People think we’re from New York. When they find out we’re from Atlanta, they don’t think we’re as cool anymore. If we were from L.A., New York, or Chicago, we’d probably be the bomb right now.
You probably get more Rage Against The Machine references than anything else, ’cause they’re rap/hardcore and you’re rap/metal.
Yeah. I’m a rapper. I come from a hip-hop background. From the jump, I’ve listened to rap all day long that’s all I listen to. I’m proud to work with a live band. We do it totally different than Rage; we have different guitar styles, different vocal styles, different topics. They’re still caught up in what they hate, I trying to provide solutions to the things I hate. I’m talking about on a domestic level, not a political level. If I wanted to be a politician, I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m an entertainer, but I want to educate while I entertain.
You never get political?
No, I don’t want to talk over people’s heads, or over-generalize, or get into conspiracy theories, I’ll give you facts. I’ll give you what I’ve seen. I worked for the government, I was in the Air Force for four years. So if you want to talk ’bout the government with me, you better come correct. It’s not just us against the world, or them against us, it’s the world against the money machine. If you think the United States is the beast itself, you’re wrong. It’s the United Nations. They all work hand-in-hand, and we just get to play world police. And we’re gullible enough to do it. We’re all souped up on a powertrip. And they’re just laughing. I see the ridicule when I go to other countries.
We aren’t fighting for survival anymore. We aren’t even fighting for freedom, we’re just bickering over creature comforts. Not only are we lazy, we’re greedy and bitchy.
Hell, we’re fighting for extinction. Planet Earth has been here for a lot longer than us, and it’ll be here long after we’ve blown ourselves off it. We may take half of it with us, but it’ll mend and we won’t.
I noticed a lot of the lyrics deal with the dangers of what we do to ourselves. I know you’re pro-pot, or pro-choice to smoke pot, but I’ve see some anti-alcohol sentiments.
But songs like “Monkey Behind the Wheel” are a different story. We’ve lost friends to drinking and driving, my dad bounced off two trees and ended up in I.C.U., and I wound up in the hospital because everyone got drunk, and the only one that could drive was an inexperienced driver. It was foul weather, and I ended up in the hospital for three months. I was in traction for over six weeks, had paralyzation in my left leg, and that taught me a lesson. I hit one of the bottoms. The three lowest points in life are dead, hospital, and jail. When you’re in hospital, there’s nothing you can do for yourself. You’ve got to degrade yourself to enemas, there’s that sick smell of sterile death that makes your head spin, you’re helpless; it fucks with your psyche. And when you’re locked down, you’re caged like an animal. There are no choices, and there’s no freedom.
People are always saying they feel trapped, either in a job, in a relationship, or whatever. It’s just a matter of what you’re willing to risk losing if you walk away.
You’ve just got to be strong. Only the strong are going to make it through in this world. I’ve been through two of the lowest points, so I’ve only got one chance left. And I’m workin’ to make it happen.