I’ve got four Reservoir Dogs posters in my house," Jason Hubbard exclaims.
"It's my first movie obsession." Which is why the Penal Colony drummer's
favorite track on their new album, 5 Man Job, is the T.H.D. mix of "Extremist."
The samples are all courtesy of Tarantino's film.
"I listen to the samples on
their remix and laugh uncontrollably for hours, Then I'll put the movie
on, and go back and forth between the two. "
Even the album title is a
reference to Dogs, although it also sums up the record's contents Frontline
Assembly's Bill Leeb, Genesis P Orridge, Leather Strip, Spahn Ranch's Matt
Green, and T.H.D. all created mixes of old and new Colony songs. Besides
picking up on Colony's Tarantino fixation, T.H.D.'s version is also closest
to the band's own. Amazing considering "Extremist" was one of the five
new songs, and they were working blind.
"What we sent everyone was
guitars and vocals, nothing else," Colony singer D Madden explains. "They
had no idea how the song was supposed to go. They had to figure out everything,
even the timing of the songs."
"That's why they all sound
so different from the originals," Jason adds.
And why they sound so much
like themselves? "Exactly," D laughs.
Job's an exciting album, but
it doesn't sound like Penal Colony. D's favorite mixes, by Genesis, may
not be rave, but are immediately identifiable as his. Leather Strip and
Frontline are equally recognizable. Only Matt Green left behind his own
desolate stylings for an entertaining techno-industrial romp. Colony are
thrilled with the results, but have some concerns. "My biggest fear is
that people will think Cleopatra [Colony's label] took this band that kinda
sucked, and doctored it to make it sound good. Or think, “They sold out.”
They didn't. We were offered an opportunity
to do something that no idiot would turn down. Cleopatra bought us some
time to develop and progress, not unlike what TVT did for Trent Reznor.
The stuff he handed in originally sucked."
Which isn't to suggest that
Colony's originals sucked. The initial plan was to release a two-CD set
featuring their new songs alongside the remixes and a CD-ROM. But with
a delay in artwork, the set was abandoned, and Job and the CD-ROM were
released on their own. However, Colony's versions are now available on
a cassette titled $5 Shake. That's a Tarantino reference from Pulp Fiction.
D describes Shake as "Meat Beat Manifesto meets Black Flag, pretty much
how we sound live."
"NIN meets the Beastie Boys,
listening to a lot of Cypress Hill," Jason explains. "I do most of the
sampling, and I'm into hip hop and rap, and we're all big '70s disco fans.
Both descriptions are accurate. There are strong percussive beats, punk
energy, waves of guitars and an industrial edge. Quite a progression from
their debut Put Your Hands Down's punky, coldwave sound. As D notes, "It's
going to throw a lot of people for a loop."
But the band seem to delight
in throwing fans musical loops. Colony itself was a shock for the Goth
fans of the members' previous bands: Ex-Voto and the Texas Vamps.
When Voto relocated to New
Orleans, D remained behind, looking to do "anything to get away from Goth."
Vamps Jason and bassist Chris
Shinkus were equally keen to move in a new direction, but just didn't know
how. D provided the opening with the sampling knowledge he'd gained from
his house and rave friends. All three wanted to recreate punk's energy
without sounding punk. And thus Penal Colony was born.
D's highly symbolic lyrics
continue to be based on his own experiences, but rather than dealing with
specifics, he attempts to convey emotions. "Most of it just deals with
the absurdity of things. I don't really know what I'm writing, I just allow
it to take over. Eventually, I can usually make sense of what I was trying
to say. Sometimes I think I know what it's about, but a year later I'll
get a completely different meaning out of it. And I get different things
out of them depending on my mood."
The lyrics are included on
the CD-ROM, which D sees as a technological revolution. "The future's going
to demand that artists have a more encompassing knowledge of manipulation
of the mediums. Or a knowledgeable freelancer like yourself? "Exactly."
Penal Colony is obviously where the future