Australian post-industrial project, Kollaps, famous for their harsh, aggressive yet peculiarly harmonic music and even more extraordinary shows, have an upcoming album Until The Day I Die. Symphonies of noise, brutal shows where the artists expose themselves to the attacks from the audience, and checking one’s limits and the limits of their audience make them absolutely unique. If one may achieve a certain individual balance through the most ear-hurting, fierce industrial, it’s definitely Kollaps. We talked about the Dadaist and Burroughs inspirations, the new LP, the tour and life in relation to the pandemic, the tour and life in war times, and more with Wade Black, the leader of Kollaps.
interview by : Karo Kratochwil
Your new LP Until The Day I Die is a bit like a barb wire ballet, hurtful, painful, but beautiful and graceful at the same time. Vocals fading away in a sea of brutal, violent sounds and the fine, precise line that leads it, harmony and brutality, noise and your own message, personal poetry sent out in the form of lyrics, a truly deadly combination. What’s behind it? What was the inspiration for the particular release? I keep asking because I believe the motives behind every release may change, especially considering the dynamic situation we are living in.
Wade Black : Thank you for these very kind words. There was a lot of intention behind the release to elevate the songwriting and express a transitional period in my life where a lot of critical decisions had to be made in order to regain control of myself, my health, and my sanity. During the creation of the record, I was also very inspired by my new surroundings in Switzerland and Italy, where there are many heavy Catholic images, churches, and general ideas that are mostly quite absent from my old environment in Australia. It was important to me that my new surroundings were deeply entrenched in the music and so I applied a lot of this into the lyrical content of the album and twisted it with romantic ideas, some genuinely romantic and loving and in other parts abusive and cruel. I had also begun to appreciate the collage work of the beatniks and Dadaist, and so I used the cut-up method popularized by William S. Burroughs for the lyrics to be more organic and self-generating.
The LP was utterly self-made, you composed, produced, and released it, is such kind of artistic freedom liberating?
WB : Yes, it was very liberating but also, there were a lot of technical challenges for me to overcome. I feel a sense of pride in the album because it represents a turning point in the band where we are now able to be completely self-sufficient however, to the contrary, the human cost for me personally was high, and I can’t help but feel as if I traded the chaos of how the prior records were made into a different burden. Ultimately I prefer to work this way, and I also have preferred the results of working alone and taking more time on the album, both in writing and mixing.
You’ll be on tour in April, visiting Germany, Belgium, or the Netherlands, to name just a few. How do you feel about coming back and meeting your audience?
WB : I’m actually on tour now traveling from Mannheim to Paris with my friends Brighter Death Now and Of The Wand & The Moon. I’m very pleased to be touring at the moment and feel grateful to be able to do so. People all over Europe have shown a lot of kindness to me and the project itself, and it’s something that I’m bottomlessly appreciative of. On this tour, we rehearsed quite relentlessly to make sure that we were delivering a high quality and unique experience for our audience. Most of what we are playing is from the new album Until The Day I Die and it is wonderful to be playing some of these more new and elaborate tracks.
As discussed during our last interview, you changed the way you perform during live shows, not exposing yourself to direct attack or violence anymore. What are the audiences in Europe to expect, will there still be the Kollaps element, or is there a total change of style?
WB : : I still feel quite conflicted about this, actually, some of it has happened already on the current tour, and it is not that it is now a ruled out possibility, but there are moments that I feel as if the destruction of myself is of benefit to my enemies and I now seek to be a fully functional and a force of opposition, somehow to me self harm now lacks focus. I feel that self-harm and showing blood, my blood, to our audience was the single most genuine thing that I could do on stage; however, it became misconstrued and expected, and regrettably, the intention behind it was not translating well and became toxic to the art of the performance.
I love the way how voice operates with the sound; it’s like a dialogue between vocals and melody, giving space to each other even though the music is really brutal, aggressive, attacking, and harsh. It’s noise, industrial in its most pure form. How is such a combination of the two possible to create a peculiar harmony?
WB : Well, I injected a lot of melodic moments into the music of the new album with the intention of making more dramatic and contrasted moments, a lot of this was done with synthesis and piano playing. Afterwards, I “colored” the songs with harsh moments. Most of the tracks from Until The Day I Die can be played alone on a piano or an acoustic guitar. The roots of the album are musical, and that is what separates it from the preceding albums and, I think, what makes it more special.
Tell me more about how your work on the album. When I listened to it for the first time, it sounded like a sonic outburst, impromptu. Still, the second listen revealed the hidden traits, how do you compose the sonic line, vocals, what instruments or materials did you use. Is it definitely not only instruments as we may traditionally understand them?
WB : The album has extremes of both sides; as I mentioned, the majority of tracks can be broken down and played on bare traditional instruments however, I also recorded cement cylinder blocks being dropped from a bridge, tortured cellos and guitars, power tools, I recorded a factory in Italy with a field recorder, and we used all the “classic” industrial staples such as power tools, metal grates, knives, drills. Probably there are quite a lot more unconventional sounds on the album that people interested in industrial music will enjoy despite the reliance on music and composition being the backbone of the record. With this approach to the record, I attempted to create moments that would combust, fall apart, and reanimate into true moments.
You mentioned there would be a video to one of my favorite tracks on the album, “I Believe in the Closed Fist”, if I understood correctly? Was it a self-made production as well?
WB : Yes, I’ve recorded and completely self-produced a video for “I Believe In The Closed Fist”. It’s ended up being somewhat of a snuff film so I am unsure of how to release it and, indeed if it is possible for it to get a release in a traditional sense. I’m considering a possible VHS release, or maybe it can be released on Pornhub. It’s quite a big production, over 8 minutes in length, and so many hours have gone into the making of it, so I would like it to be released one way or another.
How you feel the new video corresponds to your previous ones and the less violent approach you decided to take?
WB : Regarding the violent aspect of Kollaps, the record itself is more violent than the previous two, substantially so, quite a bit more physical wreckage of equipment was necessary. It is only the relentless self harm as a necessity for live performances that I have felt can be detrimental or misunderstood to the art of the project and even still this has not been completely abandoned. The difference between the new video compared to previous releases is that this new one is entirely self produced and so I feel it is closer to my vision for Kollaps and for the music itself and a closer representation to my feelings about the world generally. I was able to be more selective with the imagery and obsess over the edits and take much more time trying to achieve an outcome that I’m happy with. In the past, quite a few compromises had to be made with making videos due to time constraints, financial constraints and also the creative constraints that occur when you try to work through someone. If I’m to be honest, I’m not a very collaborative type. I feel like I achieve my best results creatively when working completely alone which is why Kollaps has taken such a shift into self-production on multiple fronts.
Apart from the April tour and the LP in June, what else can be expected from Kollaps?
WB : A length tour of the USA.
And the last question, we are hanging in between two realities, at least that’s how I feel, after the pandemic and war. How does that make you feel?
WB : The pandemic. What can I say? May it spread. The war in Ukraine is something that I’m troubled and sad over. I’ve many friends in the east and two good friends in Ukraine that I’m in contact with. They’re both in Odessa, which is currently safer than other cities, and I hope it remains that way; and that the Ukrainians are able to push out their invaders as fast as possible.
To wind up our interview, are you ready to kick the stage again?
WB : Forever and always.
Thank you very much for our conversation.