(This interview originally appeared in NOSEBLEED fanzine Issue 9 in 1993. Elements of the introduction appeared in a different form as a short piece on the Young Gods in NOSEBLEED fanzine Issue 6 in 1992).
You are now entering unmapped territory... by the year 2050, those of you who have taken the healthy option at 45 and spent a few years in suspended animation could well find yourselves commissioning a sonic architect to sculpt an atmosphere for your high rise habitation cubicle... In 1987, elements of the press labelled the Young Gods as sonic architects. The music press said a lot of interesting things about the Young Gods. Their uniqueness was difficult to ignore. This group comprised a stonemason, a condom machine technician and a “nobody in particular” who contracted a dose of hot fingers when he sighted a prototype sampler in New York in 1984. Since then it’s been thieve, dismantle and restructure with the likes of Wagner, Gary Glitter, Kiss, Mozart, Stooges, Ruts, Schoenberg and others from the last 300 years of popular music. It almost seems as if the Young Gods have been lurking around the astral plane for centuries, observing and taking notes of which raw materials to work with once they metamorphose into a late 20th century classical industrial rock band (I’d love to see what they might have done to restore ancient monuments had they been archaeologists!). Their first LP “THE YOUNG GODS” established them as the ultimate bootleggers... like magpies in a record shop swooping down and grabbing shiny objects. Amongst the sound carving and mutilation and improvisation, the Young Gods still use a real drummer, something that puts them on a different level to the synthetic likes of Front 242 or the Revolting Cocks. To top it all off, Franz Treichler’s vocals are gruff and domineering, exactly what you might expect a Young God to sound like. The beauty of their music lies in the fact that they’re not tied to a typical four piece band structure. The Second LP “L’EAU ROUGE” was critically applauded and twisted a kind of antiquated carousel music into their layers of noise. The third LP “THE YOUNG GODS PLAY KURT WEILL” saw them release an album of classical covers that would win them acclaim from die-hard punks as well as opera fans. “ TV SKY” - The most recent record (released earlier this year), was pre-described by the group as being more “Americanised” and heavier on guitar samples with vocals in English. This might have been the end of their unique sonic masonry, but ultimately it was a logical progression, a huge success and became their most accessible record to date.
The Young Gods played Ireland for the first time on July 21st 1993 and NOSEBLEED spoke to composer/vocalist Franz Treichler prior to the gig.
BOZ - You played the Limelight in Belfast last night, how did you find that?
FT - Well lots of thoughts cross, you know, I mean the gig itself... I thought it was brilliant personally. It was so fucking warm that it was a big sweat box. I mean, Belfast is a crazy city and you follow the images you get in your brain... we were just driving around and seeing the people and the way they react, the way people keep on going and all this stuff. I think they kick ass. I'm glad we played Belfast... It's like a big ball of energy in the air.
BOZ - How did you feel about coming down over the border ... every hedge you look there’s a soldier with a gun pointing out?
FT - After Belfast this is like routine because in Belfast you get this in every street and every corner and so it's like you know it's going to be the last one you see. Actually it's good not to see soldiers for sure.
FT - Because we thought... many reasons, one of them is because we thought we never captured the live atmosphere in the studio, the other one was to kind of get a Polaroid of one night of the last tour and the third reason was purely marketing... to have a product coming out because we have no new LP because we've been touring the last year with the new material... so I think it's good to still have the name around, you know. I like the album because of it's simplicity in a way, it's just one show, it's not like you take part of this show and the songs we played badly, we avoided to put them there and then the rest we mixed them down. Some are great, some are a bit more tired but I like the general atmosphere... it’s like a “Best of” but it's not a “Best of”, you know... l think it's good.
BOZ - When you’re writing do you specifically try to inject an element of shock into the songs?
FT - Not an element of shock... but an element of surprise, yeah... because surprise is a bit different than shock. Surprise is something that opens your mind, you know... I think that shock closes your mind and I like to play with an element of surprise and the sampling is really good to be able to do that with so you can jump from classical songs to guitar. The surprise with the last LP was that there was no surprise... shock - yeah, it shocks you a bit but in a positive way. I think it kicks my ass, it's not like "punch my face", it's more like "AARGGH"... you know... there's a big difference for me.
BOZ - Do you ever become wrapped up in your music construction process to the point where it becomes an obsession?
FT - Oh yeah... and I get really frustrated and I generate lots of pressure mounting in my head. I don't like to put myself in a state of pain or any shit like that, you know... but it comes naturally that I get antisocial because I get introverted and I can't talk to people so much until it's done because then it's a big challenge each time.
BOZ - And how important is the way you present yourself on stage??
FT - I don't know... I don't really calculate. I like to, every time I walk on stage in the afternoon, I try to see where is my place and so on. I think it's getting important for me to get some sort of feedback from the audience. I like physical feedback... just like people expressing themselves more than watching. I didn't bother myself much before because I thought that people can just listen and enjoy but now the material is a bit more physical so I like to have some kind of physical response, but... how important... the thing is we don't specifically look for an image and I have a few things... well every time I talk to the light man for things I don't agree on it's like... when people they can't see my face, that's the only thing that's important to me, that people can see my face because most of the time, the light men, they do lights silhouette style back and forward because it impresses people more and I personally like if people can see who is singing and if he's grinning or laughing or whatever. That's important but that's one of the only points.
BOZ - So you’re not trying to work the crowd to a point of violence where everybody goes mental and gets to be a pain in the ass?
FT - No, because I think that... I like energy but if it turns out to be too violent and just like... I don't like it when people, they stage dive with their boots first ... and I like it when people they enjoy themselves and I think lots of slammers just want their ego to be there and to show themselves sometimes, but if they jump around a lot I like it.
BOZ - That makes it more fun for the band?
FT - Yeah, it's more fun, of course... because it's more direct. When it turns out to be too violent I hate it.
FT - Switzerland is a strange country... it's a country of different contradictions than Ireland but you have many of them also... but behind the soft face you have lots of things happening that make you think. The thinking in Switzerland is for the people to get blinded by, maybe the comfort and so forth... and then you take everything for granted and so to me, it was very important for me in the start because it was my environment that made me want to do some music at some point and just like to try and express some feelings or emotions... but it's inspiring especially because of its geographic position because you have all these countries around you and you have access to many different cultures and that's the positive point. I get inspiration basically from anything so it can be if you're talking to friends or anything you listen to, it doesn't matter if I listen to the record in New York or Geneva but I like moving along, travelling makes me more creative than sticking to some plate.
BOZ - So which language suits your singing more?
FT - It depends on where I find myself, that's why I did the last one in English... because I was living in New York, you know... so I switched to the English language in my brain, not because I'm especially competent as I am in French, but just the fact that I was there in a different culture, different environment. It's not going to change completely my approach but it’s going to have an influence... just from day to day details and there are things that I'm sometimes just not able to catch, it all depends on my state of mind... it's the way it works... I don't mind, but I don't think I'm ever going to write in a third language because French is my mother language and I think that it's much more of a challenge than singing in English.... But to write a whole LP in English was opening a lot of possibilities. Where I would like to go is to get it to a point where it doesn't really matter if it's French or English... it's like one big language.
BOZ - So you’re using the vocals primarily as an instrument instead of the lyrics or what you’re saying being important?
FT - It's always important to me what I say because words have some kind of weight even if you sing surrealistic or whatever. I think the poetry, getting the words together is very important to me. If I had no more words I don't really think I would sing actually, because words are the link... the language that is created by the sounds and words would be different if it was only the sounds... yeah, so it's very important... I don't know the word in English but it's like very... KKKKKKK!!... You know... I throw away a lot of the stuff I write.
BOZ - Your gig schedule this summer – you’re playing with a lot of people like the Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Faith No More... they’re all very different from the Young Gods. Have you played with that sort of mix before?
FT - Yeah... we've played with Sonic Youth but we've never played with the Chili Peppers... but these are festivals and it's not the same as playing a gig supporting Sonic Youth or something because there's lots of bands... you just concentrate on what you're doing and meet some of the people. We know lots of these people. When we played Phoenix festival we knew the people from Consolidated, we knew the people from Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Silverfish, Faith No More... and I don't mind who would be good to be on a bill with us... I think all the contemporary people who try to do it their own way... I respect that. All the bands I named, I think it's good to be on the same bill... Sonic Youth is a different story... I'm not a great fan of Sonic Youth. I think that they do great sounds and great layers of guitars but I think what buzzes me more is the vocal approach but that's just purely a matter of opinion.
BOZ - And when you’re touring do you get the opportunity to meet the people coming to the gigs and discuss your music?
FT - It's not always possible, sometimes I'm disposable, sometimes I'm too tired but it's a very sudden thing to tour... because you’re one day, one city and you go on and at some point you can't party every night because you have nothing to give anymore, you know, you drag, so you try to just make a balance and appreciate the moment even if it's short... but I meet lots of people and that's a privilege of touring. The other side of the card is that I meet them for 5 or 10 minutes and I'm not going to see them again for the next 2 years and they're going to change, maybe physically, maybe their minds, you know, they don't stick music any more or whatever... so you try and make it pretty intense in just a few minutes and cut the crap.
BOZ - What about people’s opinion of what you’re doing at that point, if someone says they don’t like this, it’s crap etc. Does that influence your next step at all?
FT - If it's pertinent... of course...
BOZ - ...if somebody made a remark and it kept bugging you?
FT - Most of the time, people, they don't come to you to say it's crap because they're ashamed to say it or they think you're going to punch their face or whatever, you know, but... I know myself when it's good and when it's not good... I'm quite critical and it doesn't make my ego shine when people go "Yeah!"... And I try to figure out why they like it and look at their faces if they smile because you know... that's inspirational sometimes... with people, they have this distance from the band and I don't have that. Sometimes they just put a few words together to describe what they like and if they don't then it's quite a funny way to look at it.
BOZ - Do you think the Industrial tag suits the Young Gods well?
FT - To tell you the truth I think the best tag would be rock, but I think industrial, weII, why not... of course we came out of this time where bands started to get the influence from cities and the atmosphere, from cities and the electricity and all that kind of stuff and that's what for me is industrial. Now the tag has turned out... you're an industrial band if you have a distorted vocal on top of lots of noises and samples from movies or from politics... that's typical industrial, specifically in America, but... why not, I don't really mind.
BOZ - What about Throbbing Gristle, industrial before samplers?
FT - Throbbing Gristle was making music, was searching for new sounds and going outside new boundaries in music with the tools they had at the time and if samples would have existed they would have used it, you know... no limitation but they are what I would call industrial... that’s what I was talking about before. We come from there... I mean these were the bands, you know, early Cabaret Voltaire... that's the essence of industrial music to me more than KMFDM.
BOZ - When you’re choosing samples... Say, you like Motörhead or the Stooges, would you specifically go to one of their records and think, “I want a sample from them because they’re a brilliant band”...
FT - Yeah, mostly I do that because I like them and I like their sound and to me it's all these little tributes to all these people that I like. It's not very often that I sample a band which I don't like but I do it sometimes because I like the production or the sound of the guitars or the drums... but most of the time I get kicks because I like the record and I hope they can recognise or hear it, you know, these kind of things... we had Paul Fox from the Ruts... that guy you met upstairs, he noticed because he was doing some sampling... he noticed that in some songs, we sampled the Ruts and he knows the guitarist Paul Fox ... he's just playing in pubs, he's not very involved in music anymore... for him it's like... miles away, what we're doing but he was like, " Oh yeah, it's my guitar, great! “... It was brilliant...
BOZ - Do you get worried that a band you like... say you stole a Stooges sample and Iggy Pop turns up at you doorstep and says “ I’m going to sue you”?
FT - No, I never worry because in rock everybody's stealing off everybody
Anyway... it's the story of rock’n'roll, you know, you steal a blues riff from John Lee Hooker... and then you take a riff from ZZ Top and it's just like boogie here and rock'n'roll there and a riff from blah, blah, Zeppelin, Stones... so it's a big fucking mill, for it and I like that and I was never bothered, I think it's like keeping on the hue of the story. We had one case... it was the Orb. I did a remix for SKINFLOWERS. At some point I would have liked him to do it but I think the record company wouldn’t pay or he wasn't disposable, so I did it myself... I sampled him, you know... and he didn't appreciate it actually...
BOZ - Do a lot of the people you sample find out about it?
FT – No, no they don’t...
BOZ - So Gary Glitter didn’t find out?
FT - I didn't sample Gary Glitter, I did the song but I didn't sample it... and he knows...
BOZ – That’s even more blatant...
F- Yeah, but when you do a cover version and you declare it's a cover version then they don't care because they get the rights and it's purely "Oh you did my song? Thank you! Thank my bank account"... but somebody played the song to Gary Glitter and he said, "Oh, it's very interesting, I like its originality"... that's a start...
BOZ - A lot of industrial bands play on the regimental and totalitarian side... the press picks it up as fascism... is this a problem for the Young Gods?
F- There's been a few misinterpretations of people who needed that just to carry their message, you know, that's just like "Les Enfants" on the second LP because you have the drums and stuff so that was about the only time but... I don't think we carry any major kind of power. We don't treat it, like the controversial teenager trying to promote the political right or pro left... I think we just try to talk about emotions and I don't want to get involved in it all... You know it's easy to sound fucking massive and huge and impress people and to have, like, things going on... for example, Laibach... I like the way they do music, it's fascinating, you know, they just always give this kind of image that was bugging me, even if maybe I don't understand it but it's not clear and at some point I like people to be clear... of course if I listen to Laibach I start thinking what do I like about this and what do I hate but of course a lot of people think it's right wing and if you go to a gig of Laibach now you have lots of fucking right wings and Nazis in Paris or in Germany and I think it's bad karma.
BOZ - How do you compare the Young Gods to Laibach... Do you thing there’s an influence there?
FT - If they were a big influence on us... Laibach... I don't think so... I think people who influenced us when we started were more like the Swans... early Swans... specifically the second LP I would say and a mixture of everyone’s tastes from Jimi Hendrix to punk bands and psychedelic bands. I mean we all were listening to music since we were 10 years old... about 20 years now I would think, but back to Laibach I think that their last LP... yeah, it's a masterpiece of sound, you know...
BOZ - Do you have any interest in the industrial culture side of things... the way people investigate a completely different walk of life?
FT - You mean, like the Genesis P-Orridge way of life?
BOZ - pretty much, yeah...
FT - I had interest in that, all that culture, you know, the numerology and Aleister Crowley and all these side things of industrial bands but not that deep, I’m more a floating mystical soul than searching for doctrines... I don't stick to any of this...
BOZ - Speaking of Genesis P-Orridge, what do you think of his situation at the moment... you know... he’s in exile in America.
FT - Well I think it's relevant to the ongoing extreme conservative attitude that still goes on, you know, the surface is just a surface and in a way it's incredible that this can happen nowadays. I don't know how far he had to go... whether be was forced to or just because he felt pressure, I don't know the details, I didn't follow the thing... maybe you can tell me...
BOZ - Well the details were basically that they went to America because the Authorities in the UK were threatening to put their children into care following a raid of his home by the Obscene Publications Squad...
FT - Yeah, that's the worst example of what someone can do to you... fuck... yeah, so I guess that's the English mentality at some point...
BOZ - Would you regard yourself as being religious?
FT - Religious is such a bad word nowadays, you know, religion has been... fucking the whole world in the name of religion the whole time so I don't like the sound of it, you know, but I do aspire to something which I barely can reach and music is helping me to kind of understand, show my beliefs or something like that. I understand it as a language for the soul and it cures my negativity but not in a way I exorcise my hate and this kind of stuff, you know... in a sense that it's something that's getting older from the socially basic point of view... but I had a religious upbringing and I learned good things but I stopped everything when I was about 12 and now I think to stick to any religion is ridiculous, I think or maybe I don't know all of them but I think all of them, the main religions are making things more complicated...
BOZ - You’ve been covered in a lot of metal magazines recently... how do you feel about that??
FT - Yeah, well it's getting confused again, I like it because you have industrial bands with guitars and a few metal magazines can talk about the Young Gods ... The ultimate band without a guitar... You know, it's getting confused and I like the fact that it still fucks up peoples’ brains that you can do something without a guitar. I love guitars, I've been playing guitars many years myself and I might come back to it myself some day, sooner than I expect maybe... I don't care, I mean we had an article in Tatler magazine, we had articles in Kerrang... it's just like the greatest fanzines or whatever...
BOZ - On a completely different level, how have fans of classical music reacted to the Young Gods?
FT - Fans of classical music... we've got fans of contemporary classical music because... especially at the start... not because of this last LP because it's nonesuch a thing in there but... yeah... we get reaction to this, coming to the show...
BOZ - Was that especially around the time of the Kurt Weill thing??
FT - Before also, but Kurt Weill for sure at some point opened different doors, you know, like all this scene of kind of moral culturally involved people into classical music... in some countries like Germany they grew up with Kurt Weill at school and everything so it would be a bit over the top for them, you know, they're fed up with all this Kurt Weill thing but the rest of the world, specifically the French countries, they don't know much about Kurt Weill, you know so ... We learned a lot from doing Kurt Weill... a lot, just about all sorts of melodies and stuff, about the masterpiece... the guy, he knew the good people, how to associate himself and keep his avant-garde approach and stick to a very popular result, you know... That's what it's all about... it's not like educating people, it's far off it in a good way...
BOZ – Do you think you’re doing the same thing by taking metal and classical and punk and crushing them into a big ball?
FT - Yeah, I like to think about it this way, one music, one people...
BOZ – And what roll does punk play in the music of the Young Gods?
FT - Oh, just the attitude I think, the fact that you're here to kick first your ass and then pass it forward and what I like about punk, you know, what punk was... it just wiped the whole pretentious and arrogance of the music business with it's clichés and it went to a basic form of energy and a melting pot of ideas and creativity and that's brilliant... everybody could get something out of themselves through the feeling of just a guitar or whatever and everything was in the attitude... and I grew up with it when I was 15-16 but not in England so everything was something "there" and we were...
BOZ - Listening to Johnny Hallyday?
FT - No I wasn’t... but... there were a few good punk bands in France, you know... but anyway... the energy was great and I think that most of the punk bands are really pathetic now... it's just like, “I want to get fucking pissed, yeah!” and that's it... but there was something really good about it.
BOZ - Do you bring a lot of music on the road with you?
FT - Yeah, but not that much, I personally need a lot of music so I do take some stuff but we have a fucked up system in the van and we don't always have music because some people don't like it so instead of “No put this on...” we don't bother but I take all kinds of stuff...
BOZ - What did you bring with you this time?
FT - I brought Louis Jordan.
BOZ – Can you tell me about any audience problems you’ve had?
FT - I had one time, a glass... an empty glass sort of smashed on the wall behind me... that was in Austria... It's a fucked up country anyway... but I was thinking, “Wow! It came very close to my head” and it came very close to our drummers head behind me and you can hear it on the tape recorder because we taped the show... and then I thought, “fuck! If I get it in the face I could loose an eye” and stuff and... just an audience where you have 200-300 people, what do you want to do... stop for one asshole? You don't even see who it was so if that happened to me and I noticed who it is I would have something to say... I try to cool it down and you get paranoid for one or two songs, you know...
BOZ – Do you reckon the Young Gods is the most important thing in your life?
F- Well... I think it's a mixture of things that are important to me. I find that a balance between the Young Gods and... well, yeah, I could say that it's the most important thing to me so far.
BOZ – What’s next for the Young Gods?
FT - We're going to write another album. We start in a week... I start writing when I listen to records... just like Steve Albini... get creativity from someone else!