Prepare for the Coming of the Eternal Masters
Prepare for the Coming of the Eternal Masters
רְשִׁימ֥וֹת־תֹּ֖הוּ | Preemptive Strike 0.1 - Pt. 1 the interview
By: Noa Artzi
PES 0.1 can easily be listed among my top 10 musical crushes of 2015. Although originally they do not come from the dark realms of Black Metal, which as many of you know, is my comfortable natural habitat, you still cannot deny the connection between PES and Black Metal, as imminent from their latest effort, Eternal Masters.
In fact, my first and fateful encounter with this band happened through my constant musical pursuit within this wonderfully dark subgenre. I was looking around for additional projects in which members of Ad Hominem, another musical crush from the same year, took part in.
And by sheer chance I stumbled upon this project called Punishment Systems. After getting totally blown away by their music, I went on to research the twisted minds behind that thing, only to find out that the other previously unknown member of the team was a guy called Jim The Blaster, that comes from a band called Preemptive Strike 0.1 that plays EBM. So far, it didn't sound that much appealing to me but I was rather bored so I googled their name.
The first thing I clicked on simply dropped my jaw to the ground.
It was a video clip for a song called The Death of Talos, which was taken from their then latest effort, Epos V. Flashes of what seemed like sped up clippings from an old school Sci-Fi film were woven among scenes of the band jamming against a backdrop of ancient ruins. But what caught my eyes and ears most in all this was the band's powerful stage presence and music.
The music was unlike any modern day EBM I've heard before. Powerful, aggressive, masculine but at the same time very melodic, catchy and at times even epic. It was surprisingly subtle, complex and interesting compared to anything that has come out by any band in the genre that emerged after all the technological advances which enabled almost anybody to produce music on their home computer. Perhaps it was all so due to the fact that the band has been around for a while and has had the experience of producing music using actual hardware instead of VSTs. The vocals were harsh, aggressive and angry and could have easily found themselves at home in a Black or Dark Metal song. The heavy, punishing beats were spiced up by riffs played on traditional Greek instruments which came and went as a brief Mediterranean ocean breeze among the ruins.
The visuals accompanying the song were equally captivating. The vocalist, an average sized, albeit amazingly muscular man in military attire and protective goggles conquered the stage by shaking his fists, barking at the viewer, smashing stuff and drumming on empty oil barrels while his shoulder length hair flew all over the place. The other two band members backed him up in an equally intense manner, jamming on their keyboards and occasionally coming up to the front to do their own share of yelling.
I was expecting a rather bland, predictable, uninteresting piece of EBM, that compensates its lack of musical taste with crazy stage attire, but as it is probably known by many, expectations may sometimes go wrong, for better or for worse, and I'm glad my expectations were totally wrong this time.
It is useless to say I immediately started following them on social media, only to find out that the band was planning to go on hiatus for an undetermined period of time. Fortunately, these plans ended up not being carried out and the band soon spoke of their desire to tour several countries, one of them being Israel. Eager to expose the local crowd to my newfound discovery, I contacted the band and connected them with a few local producers, but the fact that the band's Israeli fan base was so limited and the lack of a local production company that specialized in this kind of music prevented it all from happening.
Fast forward to the not so distant year 2016, I've managed to sample almost all of PES's discography to find out that the Kosmokrator was one the band's better releases. 2016 was also the year I started writing for reshimotohu.com, so when I discovered that a Metal oriented MCD was on the way, and that the said release will include a collaboration with the infamous Polish Black Metallers Iperyt, I couldn't have been happier and more excited to sample their latest output and share my thoughts on this musical discovery with the rest of the world.
I contacted the band for the second time asking them for a promo copy only to find out that back then promos were still unavailable. In the meantime we've agreed to do this interview, so that the local crowd can also benefit from a brief introduction with PES0.1. I used the fortunate opportunity to ask them everything I've ever wanted to know about the band and they've come up with a few interesting behind the scenes stories that may hopefully pique some local interest in their music. So without further ado, I give you Jim and George of PES0.1.
Epic, Metallic Electro
1. Describe PES's music in your own words for the local audience who doesn't know you, from your own point of view.
George: We started PES0.1 in 2003 as a side-project of another band we were involved in at the time named Transmitted Terrorpulse. This band was guitar-driven Industrial so the purpose of PES0.1 was to be purely electronic. I would describe it as Dark Electro in those days. Later we started adding elements from other electronic genres and Eastern sounds. This is very obvious in our last 2 albums – T.A.L.O.S. and Epos V, which also focus heavily on Greek mythology. At the same time though we also created tracks with Metal influences and eventually released two EPs of Industrial Metal, Pierce Their Husk and the newly released Eternal Masters in collaboration with bands from the Metal scene. So really I can’t put a clear label on our music as a whole since it’s a real mix of genres and styles.
2. Any background in other musical genres? If so, what got you into these other genres?
George: As I mentioned above originally we both came from a Metal background before being involved with Electro/Industrial. And we are still fans of Metal which is what creates the clash of styles in our own stuff.
JIM: I have a Metal background, as George said, up until 1993 (I have been a drummer in many Metal bands). Then I got into industrial music and from 1995-2011 I listened only that (and never played real drums again). But I came back to Metal approximately in early 2011, and I am currently into 65% industrial 35% metal with regard to my cd/vinyl purchases.
3. What got you finally into making music? What got you into creating/becoming a fan of the whole dark electronic genre and why?
George: I became a fan of the genre after hearing some Industrial-influenced bands like Fear Factory and becoming curious about it. I guess the album that ‘converted’ me was Front Line Assembly’s Millennium. The way I got into making this kind of music was basically Jim saying: “You want to start a band?". Simple as that!
JIM: The first industrial minded album that I got was MINISTRY: ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ back in 1992 but I got into the sound with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY: MILLENIUM in 1994. As I have said many times I believe that this album was made by aliens and not by humans! It is incredible how this record was made with the technology of 1993/94! But finally the record that convinced me that industrial music was the harsher/heavier and sickest music of all genres was NUMB’s DEATH ON INSTALMENT PLAN in the summer of 1995.Then I said industrial is the only music that I want to hear! And I kept my oath until 2011. But never say never…!
4. Being a musician myself, albeit in a different genre, I'm interested in the process in which PES's music is created. What is the process of writing and recording a PES song?
George: I pretty much start with a simple idea for a melody and start evolving and building on and around that. I wish there was some great secret to reveal concerning the process but it really is just that. So I put together a basic version of a track and then the other guys work on it adding their own parts and eventually it comes back to me for finalization. It goes the other way too. One of the others starts a new track and we bounce it back and forth till it’s done.
5. What kind of atmosphere would you like to convey to your listeners with your music? What would you want them to feel?
George: My favorite musical genre is actually Melodic Death Metal so I try to convey the same feeling I get when I listen to my favorite albums and songs. Dark, melodic, powerful but also uplifting in a sense is what I’m trying to achieve.
JIM: On the contrary I want to add epicness to the track that I contribute and that is obvious in EPOS V, the album that I contributed 100% to and I planned from the beginning to sound: EPIC!
6. One of the things that got me into PES is your Death of Talos video clip. Are you planning to shoot a video for Eternal Masters' material? Any interesting stories from the filming process of The Death of Talos?
JIM: No it is impossible to shoot a video from this material as the members of the Metal bands that gave us their parts live in different countries so far away from Greece. But be sure that we will shoot one from our forthcoming stuff. And surely I have some interesting stories to share with you from the filming process of DEATH OF TALOS. First of all, do you know that the shore where we shot some scenes is the original one from the myth of the Argonauts that came to Crete and kill this Bronze Giant?!!! It is located 80 km from our base near the town that Yiannis DSEQ lives in and 5 km from the factory (Yiannis is the owner so he is in fact an ‘’Industrialist’’!!) where we did the most of the shooting. So we went to this place on 12/8/2014 in 35C heat and personally I had a very hard body building training session early in the morning in my town in order to be very muscular/fit for the shooting (with a combination of a hard diet without carbohydrates). So 10 minutes after our departure I had a hypoglycemia crisis and I had to find something sweet with carbs to eat! Then the heat exhausted us and if you look carefully this can be seen on our faces! Finally, the area was full of cats (over 30!) that were wandering around and our video director needed to erase them from the final montage!
7. Do you think video clips are important nowadays? If so, why?
George: Video clips are, in theory, a great way to promote a strong track or an album especially if they manage to capture the song in a visual format. However, they are expensive to produce and it’s hard to quantify how successful they actually are in producing a result in sales for example. Personally, I don’t care too much for video clips but as you say the ‘Death of Talos’ clip reached you and sparked your interest so I guess it worked!
8. What’s up with these huge protective goggles that are part of Jim's stage attire? Is there a story behind these? Where did you even get these?
JIM: Well from the beginning of PS0.1 I wanted to not show the whole of my face and I didn’t want to be easily recognizable. So I have also worn sunglasses, jokey hats, protection masks, even an alien mask that you will see in our new shootings! These glasses are my favorite ones and a part of my scene image and it is a pair of authentic military protection glasses that soldiers wear when they operate in the desert. I got them from a store that sells military equipment.
9. Speaking of stage attire, one of the things I admire about you guys is that you keep it rather simple compared to other modern EBM bands. Is it a deliberate move as to let the music speak for itself?
George: I don’t believe in having a ‘stage persona’. I’m just a guy that likes making this kind of music so that’s what I put my energy into, not cultivating some kind of image. What you see is what you get. I’m not against it especially if it works within the context of the music but it just isn’t for me.
JIM: I would say that my persona in the scene is to have a military and angry look but I dress in scene quite closely to how I dress in my normal life. I am always wearing band t-shirts. What I hate is when the bands of the scene have an ‘androgynous’ look in their lives. This is far away of my tastes and attitude. Back in the 90’s I learned that dark electro/industrial was music for real men not for sissies!!
1. In the summer of 2015, you guys almost put the band on hiatus, but fortunately you've decided to resume your activities. This means that you've got a very strong drive that helps you overcome all adversaries and keeps you going as musicians. What is that which keeps you going?
George: Well, it’s no secret I put myself on a sort of hiatus. 2013 and 2104 were rather difficult years for me personally so I didn’t have the drive to keep going at a steady pace. For many months I didn’t work on any new music. I still helped out with some tracks and I also assisted my friend Fredrik with Cynical Existence but involvement with minimal really, especially on Epos V. After Epos came out I had to think whether I would give up completely or not. I decided I still had music I wanted to make, it’s a hard habit to break I guess! Even now that we have finished the upcoming album I still have ideas for new tracks. I decided that if I’m even going to stop it will be because I no longer have it in me to produce something new and not because of external circumstances.
JIM: I felt very bad for very different reasons than George. I was expecting much more success with Epos V – as it was ‘’my album, my child’’ especially with the cover of Sabaton’s Coat of Arms. This success never came and I think that it happened due to bad promotion from our label and the terrible economic situation that Greece was in in July of 2015. How was it possible for the German audience to listen and dance to our tracks and for the DJs to spin them and put us on the charts when my Greek compatriots were blaming Germany for our economic crisis and memorandum? Then I thought: I did my best I gave to the fans something totally different, something that had been played for the first time in this genre and we gained nothing. Could we offer something more? At the end of July, I decided to stop my activities. But after some serious conversations with George and the motivation of my wife, friends and anonymous fans we both decided on August 3 to continue the band removing, all the traditional and mythological elements and to turning back to our roots.
Jim, I knew you've always wanted to do Metal, and that you've done some collaborations with mainly Black Metal artists, but what made you want to finally cross over to Metal with PES0.1?
JIM: Let me disagree as what happened was exactly the opposite. At the time when PS0.1 was established (2002) my relationship with Metal was very bad - I just listened to 4-5 Metal bands. Then after 9-10 years I came back to Metal and I made PUNISHMENT SYSTEMS2 with Kaiser of AD HOMINEM and the remix MCD with them, etc. It was a matter of time, I like to explore new territories and not to stick in the same genre. But nobody knows what our next step will be. There is a possibility to write a 100% dark electro album and then back to collaborations and Metal…It depends how I feel. Time will tell…
Speaking of which, of all Metal subgenres out there, what is it that you find so appealing in Black Metal that makes you want to collaborate and create within this genre?
JIM: It is not only Black Metal bands but Death Metal ones as well. If we add Dark Metal with electronics we have the 3 genres whose fans and the bands themselves, at a percentage of 10%, like electronics or at least don’t ‘hate’ these experiments. I would never ask a Power/Epic Metal, Classic Metal. Thrash Metal band, etc... I know that they are purists and consider all this as shitty techno music. I made some efforts without success to approach Viking Black Metal bands as I love this style of music even if I know that there was very little possibility they would accept. Finally, I would like to inform all your readers that I hate whatever sounds ‘rock’ such as vintage rock/occult rock, progressive rock, stoner, post, sludge and also whatever sounds ‘core’ such as Death/Metal/Math core, so this is my relationship with Metal.
Why did you choose to collaborate with these specific bands for eternal masters? Are these bands you regularly listen to?
JIM: I searched for months to find those bands. I was close to booking bigger names or bands that belongs to my favorites such as RED HARVEST, RAUBTIER, DIABOLICUM but after some coincidence and misunderstandings this didn’t happen. Then I had many negative or no answers at all from many bands. But finally I managed to book these 6 bands. I have original CDs and vinyl from all these bands so yes, I listen to them even if they are not my favorite ones.
How did you work on the songs together with all these bands from abroad, and how did you get in touch with all these bands in the first place?
JIM: Regarding the recording process I only met Tuomas Saukkonen from WOLFHEART personally and we talked about the collaboration face to face. I think that he accepted mostly due to the fact we are both passionate about hard bodybuilding than his taste in electronic music. Also, I knew the guy from BORGNE as we both have our projects (mine is PUNISHMENT SYSTEMS2) on THOSE OPPOSED RECORDS. IPERYT were recommended to me by the label boss of ODIUM /SONIC HELL. After George and I wrote the basic form of a track I sent detailed instructions to all about where to add vocals and where to record the guitars or the synths except IPERYT who I let free and you will realize why when you hear the results! Then when they all sent back their parts we refined the tracks and finally our producer went to work on them and gave us this excellent result!
What are your personal impressions from working with these people? Would you like to collaborate with them again?
JIM: I have the best impressions even if I was forced to push them to complete their parts. The most easy and fast collaboration was the one with EIBON LA FURIES and the most difficult and slow one the one with WOLFHEART as they are the biggest name and the busiest one. With regards to collaborating again sure, why not? Even though it would be better to find new collaborators.
What are the lyrical themes in Eternal Masters? Is there some kind of message you would like to convey with these?
JIM: No we don’t want to convey any message but only our love for pure sci-fi films. So the plot of ETERNAL MASTERS refers to the film MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, MERCILLESS TYRANT to the FLASH GORDON series (the tyrant is Emperor Ming!) and PLANET ERADICATED to the cult 1953 B-movie THE MAGNETIC MONSTER.
What are your sources of inspiration for the music and lyrics of Eternal Masters?
JIM: I gave the answer above about the lyrics and we took samples from the movies that I mentioned and as regards the music surely we have images from these movies in our minds at the time of composing and especially me as I was singing MERCILESS TYRANT. I had the morbid face of Emperor Ming in my mind as he was laughing, planning to destroy humankind!
Are you planning to play these songs in gigs? If so, the whole format of the gig is going to be more like a Metal gig. How do you feel about that? Is this something you've always wanted to do?
George: Although we would love to be able to perform the new songs live, truly live, it will be logistically very difficult. We would have to get a guitarist and drummer to be able to do that and that would drive the cost of performing live way up. Honestly, I don’t see it happening at the moment.
JIM: We could play these tracks plus the ones from PIERCE THEIR HUSK with prerecorded guitars but do you think that a metal audience would ever accepted this?
You've recently moved to a new label due to the different style of latest album. Does that mean the next albums will also lean toward the Industrial Metal side of things?
George: The label we were on, Infacted Recordings, is mostly an electro/Synthpop label. There were a few bands with a harsher sound there for a time but now it is mostly focused on that sound again. At the same time our sound has gotten heavier and heavier so it was a decision made purely on that basis. It makes more sense to be on a label that is promoting that particular sound so we moved to DWA whose label boss Jamie we have been friends for a few years now anyway. As for the future and what it holds for us…I’m not ruling anything out but I’m not confirming anything either…
Beyond PES 0.1
What are your top 5 Industrial Black Metal albums and why?
George: I suck at list personally. Can I give you my favorite Metal albums of the last couple of years? They aren’t Industrial Black Metal but I’m sure Jim will provide those. Anyway, here they are in no particular order: Insomnium – Shadows Of The Dying Sun, At The Gates – At War With Reality, Behemoth – The Satanist, Sulphur Aeon – Gateway To The Antisphere, Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud, Vektor – Terminal Redux and Be’lakor – Vessels. They aren’t 5 either…told you I suck at this!
JIM: I can’t tell you which my 5 industrial black metal albums are as the term limited me but I can give you a list with my 5 industrial/death/symphonic black metal albums so:
I) SAMAEL: SOLAR SOUL
II) RAUBTIER: BESTIA BOREALIS
III) THE BROWNING: ISOLATION
IV) RED HARVEST: INTERNAL PUNISHMENT SYSTEMS
V) FEAR FACTORY: MECHANIZED
The SAMAEL one is the best metal record I have ever listened to in my life! And the others I can’t believe how mechanical and inhuman they are. If you have to give you my best pure industrial black metal album it is MYSTICUM’S PLANET SATAN.
Do you have any active side projects/collaborations outside PES0.1?
George: I mentioned earlier that I am involved in Cynical Existence. We are nearly finished with that album (its title is ‘Dying Light’) too as it’s currently in the final production/mastering phase. It’s also Metal-infused Electro but much different to what I’ve done with PES0.1. It’s less heavy, more melodic, mid-tempo stuff. Check out the latest single ‘Through My Eyes’ if you are interested.
JIM: Yes, I have PUNISHMENT SYSTEMS but we are on hold-see details below- I was very excited with this and it was the first time that I earned enough money not only to pay for the recordings… Yiannis has DEGENERATED SEQUENCES and as far I know he will continue the band.
Speaking of PES members' side projects, I'm totally in love with Punishment Systems and Degenerated Sequences. So much as I'd want to do a separate interview on these two. Will we be seeing another Punishment Systems album? What's going on with DSeq's latest release?
JIM: other Punishment systems? Better ask Kaiser of AD HOMINEM! I would love to do it but he is the basic composer (guitar, bass and vocals) and I follow with my drums and the electronics. I think he is very busy with his main project as he had a tremendous success with his last album ANTITHEIST due the moving to a big label (OSMOSE MUSIC).
With DEGENERATED SEQUENCES Yiannis did at last find a label (ADVOXYA) to release his stuff but I think - and I don’t know for what reason - the label f**ked him. Zero promotion on the contrary to the rest of its roster. No reviews, interviews, nothing! Even I think that DS style is unique!
George: I asked Yiannis about Degenerated Sequences and this is what he said: “The release was not promoted much. It mostly had old-school appeal and got few but very good reviews due to its traditional European Dark Electro sound which is missing from the scene nowadays.”
What do you guys enjoy doing besides music?
George: I do a lot of sports when I can, mostly basketball and tennis and working out at the gym. I also enjoy listening to music obviously, love going to the cinema, reading, cooking and of course spending time with my wife and little girl (by the way, she says my music is “nice but noisy”!).
JIM: My hobbies haven’t been changed for the last 20 years even if I have a family now and I spend a lot of time with them and are: Hard bodybuilding (as far as I can as the years have passed…) that is why I have the nickname JIM THE BLASTER, playing football but mostly watching as I am fanatic with the team that I support, watching movies at the cinema and most of all buying tons of vinyl and CDs and listening to music.
Thanks for your cooperation. I hope I didn't get carried away with the number of questions I've thrown at you here. As a longtime fan, I couldn't resist the opportunity. J
George: Thank you too. This was a fun interview!
And What Have We Learned Today?
The moral of this whole tale is if you're a musician, you should collaborate, as it definitely spreads your music like a plague. Oh, and you should make sure your most awesome shit pops up first on google. Otherwise you lose.
By the way, I've written most of this during a train ride while blasting Extinction Reprogrammed, one of the earlier releases by PES0.1 on my headphones. I was just another passenger typing away on the phone, my mind fully detached from the world outside and hooked on the small screen which was in turn hooked on tight to the train's power grid. Modern technology at its finest. An unsuspecting visitor from another world would have thought that the machines have finally taken over, and would have turned his ships back given the lack of a living species to conquer and enslave. I wonder what the guys in PES would have thought about this theory of mine, as I didn't get a chance to ask them about that in this interview, mostly because it's a rather stupid and irrelevant theory I've made up on the fly.
So until the next time, open your minds but not too much, and watch out for evil aliens, or machines, or whatever.
Noa Kushnir October 201
Preemptive Strike 0.1 - Eternal Masters
Planet eradicated. The cover artwork for PES0.1's latest release.
Preemptive Strike 2016
Music for real men, not for sissies.