Before I even get started here I have to be fully transparent. I am a big fan of Caustic and he’s honestly one of the main reasons you’re reading anything on my website at all right now. Quite a few years ago I posted something on his wall at Facebook and not only did he respond, we had a full on music conversation. It was a sea change moment for me and in that conversation grew the roots of Echosynthetic. That’s when the idea started forming that not only could I write about electronic music, I could also talk to the artists that are creating it and that maybe, just maybe, they’d be receptive to it. I bandied around with a few projects that fell through, worked on movie reviews (which were popular but my heart wasn’t in it), and once I came back home to electronic music it has all fallen into place.
My love for industrial music began with Wax Trax! Records. We had two great mom and pop record stores in the town where I grew up and if I saw the Wax Trax logo on a cassette I had to have it. It led to my love for Front 242, Front Line Assembly, KMFDM, and many more. My interest in industrial music never waned, but I started to get disillusioned with it over the course of the 2000’s. That’s around the time I discovered Metropolis Records and Caustic’s The Man Who Couldn’t Stop. Not only had I found an artist who tapped into the feel of those old Wax Trax! albums I loved so much, but he was doing so with a subversive sense of humor that was so unlike the rest of the industry. Needless to say, I was hooked. Once I discovered he had a huge back catalog to dig through I was even more excited.
So, here we are now, coming full circle to the interview. I know it sounds like Matt slipped me a $20 bill and said, “Hey buddy, make me sound really good”, but you can’t pay for better publicity than that of a true fan. Alright, now that I’m done being a fanboy, let’s get to why you’re here! Caustic!
Echosynthetic: You’ve earned the “I Survived Industrial for Over 20 Years” badge. How has the industry changed over that time?
Caustic: Almost 20, but been in the scene for at least 25. In some ways it’s better and in other ways it’s worse. There’s a ton more opportunity for DIY artists like myself to get our names out there. Caustic started in 2002 and was able to gather a following on places like MySpace and LiveJournal. I really think I barely got in the door in the time where this stuff exploded and there were a billion bands out there. I found my niche and have been riding it ever since then.
On the downside there’s zero money in the music industry now, unless you hit the big time. That’s fine for me, as I’m not doing this as a full time thing as much as I’d like to, but I have a lot of friends struggling to make ends meet doing what they love, where 15 years ago they’d be in a lot better shape with sales. There are sites available helping out artists like Patreon (www.patreon.com/causticmusic is mine), that help offset expenses doing this stuff and help bring in SOME money, but by the same token if you aren’t willing to hustle you’re left in the dust. I can see why people burn out so fast these days.
Echosynthetic: How have you changed over that same time span?
Caustic: I’ve settled down a lot on the chaos level in terms of my real life, and that’s fortunately translated to, I think, better music and shows. I was talking to someone I’ve only gotten to know recently and telling them stories of me a decade ago and they couldn’t put the two people together. I channel my crazy through the music now, and that’s good by me. I’m much happier now.
Echosynthetic: You’re very active in social media with your fans. What are the benefits of staying connected with your audience?
Caustic: On the base level I don’t see myself as much different as anyone else. I’ve just got the mic. I prefer to talk to people and not at them. I don’t think being aloof or mysterious works that well anymore, with notable exceptions, but Caustic is a force of personality as much as it is the music in some ways. More people probably know me for my shirts or memes I’ve done than the music, and that’s cool. I have plenty of people on my social media sites who aren’t into my music but they’re into my message.
I don’t think a lot of artists think about building a foundation of support when they start, and that’s always been a goal of mine, consciously or not. It may only be a few hundred people that I know have my back, but that’s plenty for me to get to do what I want without compromise. It’s important to me to be cool with people and show them respect. I’ve only had to be a jerk a few times to people, and usually those weren’t actual fans, just trolls. Like I said, there’s not a lot of money in this, and I’m far from being in the high echelons of popularity, so I prefer to stay in the pit with the fans rather than pretend I’m above them in any way.
Actually, that reminded me of a show last year I went to—I was at Skinny Puppy and ran into someone who recognized me in the pit. Later on Twitter he was bugging out that he was moshing with Caustic. I thought it was funny because why WOULDN’T I be in the pit at a Skinny Puppy show?! I’m first and foremost a fan, too.
Echosynthetic: You frequently share things you’re listening to. What do you have on heavy rotation right now?
Caustic: Ah hell, I’m all about the new Drab Majesty album called The Demonstration and iVardensphere’s new one Exile. Otherwise I’m listening to a lot of old Rancid and Prince, who finally has a lot of his catalog up on streaming sites. I’m woefully out of the loop, but podcasts like We Have a Technical are super helpful for slapping me in the head on new music. Rodney from the Dead Milkmen doesn’t ever shut up about what he’s liking in industrial either, so he’s a good resource, too.
Now that I’m in full gear on the new Caustic album I’m mostly just listening to my demos when I have time and figuring out what I need to add to them musically and lyrically.
Echosynthetic: What do you think about rap embracing so much of the industrial sound?
Caustic: Is it? I honestly don’t listen to too much outside of the few obvious ones that incorporate the sound like clipping and Death Grips. I’m into Run the Jewels and the new Tribe Called Quest, but otherwise most of my hip-hop listening is old school stuff I was into from the 80s and 90s. I’m way out of the loop. That’s cool if that sound is getting in there, though. I’m all for it. It makes me feel better about wanting to rip off Wu Tang.
Echosynthetic: Ministry or Skinny Puppy?
Caustic: Even though I think Uncle Al lost his way several albums ago, it’s Ministry for me. I still remember hearing Thieves the first time and it scared the crap out of me. Everything up to Filth Pig is pretty much untouchable to me and I won’t pretend doesn’t inform my sound. Hell, the whole Wax Trax sound is a huge inspiration me. If it’s something you’re into as well I think you’ll be all up on the upcoming album.
Echosynthetic: If you could only own three albums, what would they be?
Caustic: The first three that come to mind are Faith No More’s Angel Dust, Techno Animal’s Brotherhood of the Bomb, and Jane’s Addiction’s Ritual De Lo Habitual.
That list will change in 5 minutes, but I love all three of them so that’s what I’ll go with.
Echosynthetic: What plans do you have for 2017?
Caustic: I’m pretty sure I’ll finish the new Caustic this year. I’m nine or ten demos in but want to put together another five or six to see what the best ten are. I’m having a lot of fun with it though and have played a few tracks live and gotten a solid response.
I’m also hoping to nail down more Causticles with Brian from the Gothsicles and, once she has a little more time, get some new Beauty Queen Autopsy in the proverbial can. My main focus at the moment is the new Caustic though, as that’s where my momentum’s at right now.
Echosynthetic: Guilty pleasure song that you love on the sly?
Caustic: I really don’t believe in guilty pleasure songs, but a song I still really dig that most people seem to hate is Sublime’s What I Got. Most people associate it with the lame-ass frat boys that love that stuff but I just dig the song.
Back to your earlier question regarding how I’ve changed? I don’t really care about criticizing stuff other people like anymore. Most things aren’t meant for me and weren’t created for me. Everything I don’t like is just static, so I change the channel over to stuff I do like. I haven’t got time for static. There’s too much great stuff to be into without wasting energy on crap I don’t want to hear or see.