Angelspit – Bang Operative – Interview with Zoog Von Rock

By Sara Rael…

Angelspit opens their latest album with a smack to the face with the track Stims. True to form till the synthwave blast hits you and you fall apart like leaves for the nostalgic references to late 70’s to early 80’s synth age. Superimposed over the synths are dulling vocals that elicit visions of a decrepit streetlife, one you thought you’d be living in 1999 with your green screen hacking device and ocular implants.

We took a moment to speak with Zoog Von Rock and old friend of Machete Girl Magazine.

Sara: Great to see you mate and great to have you back in the Magazine. I checked it was Issue 8.2 where we last had a poster of you which was six years ago. Fill us in on some of the changes the band has gone through since we last saw yaz?

Zoog: Thank you Sara, it’s great to have Machete Girl up and running again!

The last 6 years have been a lot of fun!

Angelspit released 4 full length albums, 3 remix albums, co-wrote an album with The Gothsicles, co-wrote and produced albums for Lorelei Dreaming, May May Graves and Miss Ballistic. We also had 2 national USA tours, plus I moved to Chicago, then to LA, and got married…!

Sara: Thank you so much for the latest trode distortion, I listened to Bang Operative and its fucken excellent work. There’s also some unexpected moments. I was banging along to Advertised Lie and about a third of the way through, I found myself bursting out with laughter. I think if you can evoke such a range of nostalgia, enjoyment and emotion you’re on the right track. Honestly, I’m blown away by it. What was the mega intelligence behind this insanely good album?

Zoog: Thank you – I am honoured you like it!

I drew musical influence from a very inspiring time – 1978 to 1981, it was a very important time in the development of electronic music.

Living in LA was a huge influence which made its way into the music, instrumentation and lyrics. LA feels very futuristic – it evokes images of flying cars and massive dystopian synthesizers.

Sara: Originally you guys were from Oz and now you call LA home and have a new band member who joined in 2019, can you tell us about some of the changes in the band and how this has affected the music? I can see that music still has the in your face quality which is something, I love and fits right into the cyberpunk world, but there seems to be so much more involved in this than in earlier albums I’ve heard.

Zoog: Cherry Bligh is an English vocalist with an electro lash/metal background. She’s got a great voice and we are both coming from the same place – musically and politically.

We’ve talked at length about the state of the world – these conversations have been weaved into the lyrics. Cherry appears on Bang Operative, and will be featured much more on the coming albums…which are becoming heavier, faster, harder, darker.

Sara: You mentioned ’78’ to ’81’ I recall this was around the time I had my first 8 track, one was from Twisted Sister (I got to meet Dee Snider last year which is the only reason i mention that). What specific influences are you talking about and have you had a chance to interact with any of them/ it?

Zoog: 1978 to 1981 was a golden time for the music industry and for music technology – these two elements fed each other in a way that changed the direction of music.

In the late 70s, labels did not know what was coming next. Disco fizzled out, Punk did not become the financial boom that was expected…so there was no marketing direction.

…meanwhile young musicians where selling their guitars and buying synthesizers – which where becoming increasingly affordable. Synth-driven bands were appearing in clubs, which grew a new audience, which supported new record labels, which got the new “synthwave” music on the radio, which attracted more fans and major label interest…so the original synthwave movement exploded, and became the new punk music the industry was looking for.

There were no “genre rules”, no labels pushing bands in tried-and-true directions. The fashion was equally experimental. It was a great time of invention. The innovative spirit of the original Synthwave movement was a key inspiration to Bang Operative – no rules, just a new frontier and the risk needed to explore it.

…which is unfortunately completely different to the current synthwave movement

Which seems to be bound to strict genre rules, neon lights and 80s vector graphics of skylines, grids and palm trees.

“Delicious Delicious, my how boring” Liquid Sky

Sara: One of the things that I find in this cyberpunk dystopia we are living in is that it doesn’t measure up to the fantasy that we had in the 80’s of “hover cars” and other predictions where cyborgs and autonomous artificial lifeforms are a reality. I know as a magazine, we try to carve out our own meaning of cyberpunk and dystopia. Is that something similar to what you do with the music because your sound is very unique?

Zoog: Cyberpunk is everywhere. It has become a necessary lifestyle enforcement. No chip implants or freedom of information, just more rigid corporate control. If you are not addicted…err connected, you do not exist.

Your news feed is determined by an algorithm. Your dating, friendship and socialising choices are determined by another algorithm. Heaven forbid you make conversations with someone outside your digitally induced echo chamber…you may actually learn a different perspective.

Conversations revolve around memes and terminology determined by “all the internets”. In the early 90s the Internet was like the Wild West, but with more tacky animated buttons (thanks Andy!). But now it’s safe drivel which is pushed to you from “trusted sources”. Google, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook…”don’t be evil” my arse…I think the Internet needs a high octane injection of evil, delivered by the masses who are bored, disillusioned and distracted.

It’s turning us into The Matrix, but there is not Neo to save us. Just turn it off. Make your art, create your magazine, blast your music into the cybersphere. Don’t let apathy kill us. ANGELSPIT is a violent reaction to the great weapon of mass distraction. Get informed. Get motivated. Vote.

Sara:Tell us more about the cyberpunk influences of LA.

Zoog: LA is visually inspiring when shrouded in smog…especially at night. It suggests huge bulky sounds. Watching the endless rivers of traffic seep through the city like molten lava, filled with people who are (most likely) unhappy with their situation. These things suggest lyrics. I find LA a cold city – it’s difficult to make a connection with people here. The loneliness and desire to escape has been the biggest influence.

Sara: In the world of blatant social media insanity, online speed dating and fucking memes, what are your tactics for pulling in a crowd at a gig when people want to stay at home and play with their trodes?

Zoog: I am bringing the gigs into their homes. ANGELSPIT has launched a TWITCH channel, and this year we start streaming live shows – from our studio. The cool thing about this is I can use the synths live, I could not do this on tour because they are too big, heavy and expensive to lug around (it takes me 3 weeks to patch the entire studio together!).

This new approach allows me to experiment and try something different, and share it live.

Sara: Are we expecting to see some more rad cyberpunk looking video in the near future?

Zoog: I am currently cutting a video for STIMS -it’s glitchy, abstract and weird. I am hoping to release it soon. I am working with The Liar – who created a distortion pedal that distorts old style tube TVs instead of a guitar – it’s INSANE! It’s wonderful to SEE distortion and hear it. Distortion creates new vibrant saturated Columbus – as sharp as razors and gritty as sand poured in your eyes…I love it!

Sara: Is there anything else that you haven’t told anyone else that you want fans of Machete Girl to hear?

Zoog: We are using our Patreon as a platform to test and refine new tracks – which are becoming harder, darker more cyberpunk. Patreon is cool because it allows me to interact more closely with ANGELSPIT supporters. I am getting comments and ideas about the tracks as I release them – which is awesome because people are helping me shape the tracks.

We are also releasing videos to help you make your art happen – exploring production, synthesis, marketing and also looking at depression and other topics that effect artists. It feels good to make music that descends into hell.

Help us make more magazines, webisodes and articles by supporting us on Patreon or buy our cyber brains a coffee!

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