Godflesh has consistently redefined their brand of extremely heavy industrial music since their beginnings in the late 1980's. Their latest innovation, Songs of Love and Hate is no exception. I recently had the opportunity to converse with and interview singer/guitarist Justin Broadrick (spelled wrong in interview!) via phone outside his hometown of Birmingham, England and to share his insights and opinions for your reading enjoyment.
First, I want to talk about your new record...You use both drum machines and a live drummer on this one. Why did you decide to do that and hw has it been working out?
Basically, the drummer, Brian [Mantia], he toured with us and played live drums on the Danzig/Type-O-Negative tour and that worked out really well. We wanted to do it in the first place anyway because we wanted it to be more physical. We felt we'd gone really far with just machines. Obviously not to its limits, nothing's got a limit anyway, really. We wanted the mechanization that's always there, we just really fancied the complete human feel on top of it, to swing more and give it an extra dynamic. We used him on the tour and it was great and we just really got off on the energy, the blast you get from a drummer behind you as well. So, we were like, "What the fuck, you've got to record on the new album, it's going to make so much sense." And he was down anyway, so it was like, "Ok."
Did that affect the way you wrote the music at all?
Not initially, but it did affect the way we mixed the album. We sort of recorded all that shit before we put his drums on. The he added his drums and we sat back and listened to it and we were like, "Alright, we can approach this differently to any other way we've ever mixed!" Cause certainly there's a new scope, that acoustic sound. So we just mixed it accordingly to make it a really live-sounding record. It really just broadens the whole rhythm section even further. But he's just left us this weel, I'm afraid. He's just joined Primus.
He joined Primus? He's not going on tour with you?
No, but we're just about to hook up, hopefully, with this drummer from New York, Ted Parsons, who's in Prong...'cause Prong pretty much split.
Prong is playing with Type-O-Negative here tonight...
Is that what it says? I bet you they aren't there. I'm serious. I bet you find out tomorrow that they didn't play. I'm meaning to call Ted at home tonight. You'll find out, just wait and see.
I wanted to ask you about the general feel of the music and your lyrics, especially how your lyrics contributed.
It focuses a lot on the darker aspects of experience and fear, things along that line.
Can you comment on that?
In many respects, Godflesh builds with the same things throughout each album. Which is like that whole package of what Godflesh is. I guess. Which is the realization of inner fears and paranoia as weakness and recognizing these things as well. It's more like awareness. I mean that's what Godflesh is really about, is being overaware and being hypersensitive, which I guess is what sort of people we are, and the music and lyrics consequently are complete with that angle. For us, it's like therapy, because you can deal with all your worst things through the music. All your fears can come out through this and be sort of...I mean it doesn't solve anything at all, and that isn't really the point. It's really selfish, you know, it helps us more than anything and we hope that it sort of has the same effect on other people in whichever way they choose.
That's another thing. It's really not one-dimensional. The first track "Wake" off Songs of Love and Hate seems to take that in a different direction
It's true. It's not really negative. "Wake" is more about ignorance, which is what a lot of our stuff deals with anyway. Like the way people decide that something's right and that's the norm and everyone should fit in with that. It's about, like, artificial laws, things that don't mean anything, just things that man creates and says, "You will fall into line with this and anybody who falls out of it is automatically wrong!" What "Wake" is saying is, "Wake up to that--There is no right or wrong!" And there's only someone writing rules for us to follow really, whereas it's all bullshit and nothing really exists. All that stuff deals with the core of things, subjects that most people want to run away from. It's really just necessary. Things like death even, I'm just sort of one of those people. I'm obsessed with my fears, so it really comes out.
The name Godflesh is synonymous with a certain psychedelic mushroom. What's your opinion on drugs?
Yeah, exactly, well...[laughs] I enjoy certain drugs, you know, but I mean nothing. I used to be quite an acid casualty, really. I've had a fair amount of hallucinogenic experiences in my life that I don't really care for it too much anymore. I've sort of gone far enough. I've reached that peak with hallucenogenics. I was doing ecstacy for about a year--an awful lot as well. I mean, I'm one of those people who dabbles in anything and everything. I've got that attitude of, like, everything's there to check out. I just need to experience really, I think, learning, gaining knowledge through experience, whatever it may be. I'd never say to people, "Yeah, do lots of drugs." because obviously I'd be leveled by people for saying that sort of shit. For me, drugs have made Godflesh what it is, I mean, with certain drugs, I wouldn't be doing this really. the only drug I use recreationally, all the time, is dope, basically. That is my life. I'm smoking right now.
Songs of Love and Hate is your sixth full-length recording. What keeps you motivated to keep making records
More than anything, sometimes we'll see a gap with what we do. Many people might take our sound or be influenced by us but they'll never take the core of what is Godflesh, and I think if somebody else could do it better, in my eyes, then I wouldn't bother. I still don't hear anything which is on the core that Godflesh does really. I still find it necessary for us to exist because there isn't anything in rock music that is like Godflesh. It's still a unique proposition and its still genuinely different and all-encompassing. There's so much in Godflesh that people just can't repeat really, and there's a form which is it's own form. And that's it. Godflesh is more like the future, whereas most other music seems content taking more from the past. I think we still absolutely push forward and that's like, a really important thing. I mean, that's what I like about music...music that challenges and has always got fresh ideas and new outlooks.
So, will you be playing in Buffalo anytime soon?
Yeah, definitely. I bet it will be with someone else but year, we'll be there. I'd say we should be in the states by the end of October, early November.