Amnestic’s harsh, kinetic brand of American cold wave has been a rising force in the Phoenix goth/industrial scene for the last two years. Since their debut album Real Bad Day on Glitch Mode Recordings in 2014, Brooke and Sarah have been making lots of noise.
As they gear up for a show an appearance at the 8th Annual Mustache Massacre, a show in San Diego, and a spot at a Chicago festival that includes all their labelmates, we caught lead singer/songwriter Brook for an interview.
1. Give us a history of your band and a rundown of your current lineup.
I started Amnestic in I think 2012. I came across some songs I had written on an old hard drive and was like eh, fuck it. I’ll try writing music on my own again. A few months later I had enough songs for an EP and started looking for a vocalist since I originally intended on just writing the songs (aside from vocals) and playing guitar live. Around the same time I met Sean Payne who runs Glitch Mode Recordings out of Chicago when I saw his band Cyanotic on tour with Front Line Assembly. I was really blown away by his production style and his music which sounded heavily influenced by a lot of my influences. We’re both hella sci fi/action/ movies in general nerds so we hit it off really well. Anyway, Sean told me I should just try doing vocals myself so I decided to give it a try, recorded vocals on a few tracks, and sent him those demos. Several months, trials, errors, and headaches later I had a fully produced/mixed/mastered 9 song LP called Real Bad Day. Fast forward a couple years and here we are.
As far as the live band is concerned I just do vocals. Sarah recently switched from guitar to keyboards, Aaron plays guitar, and depending on his schedule Xian will play drums.
2. Your debut album “Real Bad Day” came out in August 2014. What was the writing process like on that album, and how does it differ from what you are working on now?
Well the date August 29th itself was kinda important in a fun way because I’m a huge nerd and it’s the anniversary of Judgment Day from The Terminator movies. It was kinda a weird process. Some of those songs were written like 10 years ago so they got taken apart and put back together with new sounds and software. It was a massive learning curve. The process is a lot more streamlined now, and the new songs are turning out to be a lot more electronic-based and “dancey” or whatever I’ve gotten a lot better grasp on the technology and production aspects so the songs sort of naturally come together a lot more complete from the beginning. That allows me to focus more on creating and not worrying about having to go back and un-fuck a bunch of little things here and there prior to sending it out for final production/mixing.
3. If you could open for any band, alive or dead, who would it be?
Ah fuck, I really I can’t name just one…I guess a couple that should be pretty obvious are Front Line Assembly and Fear Factory. They would be awesome since they’ve been massively influential and put on amazing shows. Other than that…like an awesome line up of Garbage, AFI, and Depeche Mode. They’ve all had a big impact on my music too.
4. What are the biggest obstacles that you have run into so far with recording and playing live music?
Aside from my mental health? In terms of recording just finding the time is a major issue. A lot of people don’t understand how time consuming programming and recording can be. People who work on computers a lot whether it’s music, graphic design, IT, etc. know how taxing it can be on your eyes and ears. But in the end it’s so rewarding when you have a song that you made with a machine.
As far as playing live, being the new kid makes it a bit difficult in terms of “climbing the ladder” or whatever when we have such established bands. Luckily we’ve had a lot of help from some of them like Hardwire, The Audio Virus booked us for Go-Go Disco last year which really helped us sorta find our niche, The Strand have been awesome too. Dave Strand is a really awesome human being for helping me pull myself together at our first show. I never thought I’d be performing as a vocalist and I think I would have literally vomited or passed out had he not talked me down a bit. Aside from that…I don’t know, having a full-time live drummer would be cool.
5. You have a few shows coming up in the near future, including a couple of out of town shows. In addition to gigs in San Diego and Chicago, you are playing the 8th annual Moustache Massacre on March 12th at Pub Rock in Scottsdale, AZ. What new tricks do you have up your sleeve to make these shows memorable?
Tricks…umm…I dunno! I’ll probably rant about wanting to bang cyborgs or something? One thing that some bands do that I always thought was rad is changing up their arrangements or sounds when playing live. It’s nice to be able to give people something to new to listen to that isn’t just pressing “play” on the computer and basically giving them a slightly louder version of what they can hear on bandcamp. It also makes it a lot more exciting for us to play the songs live.
As far as the performance aspect is concerned I was never too interested in a lot of theatrics. Like tons of face paint, crazy outfits, and stuff? Nothing against bands that to do that, it’s just not really my personality, ya know? The first types of bands I saw play live were either metal, punk, or the industrial metal/cold wave who usually put on really great fucking shows because of all the energy that comes from just being enthusiastic and sounding great. We spend a lot of time making sure the synths, backing tracks, guitar tones, and other audio effects are dialed in properly. I’ve seen a lot of bands over the years who like, even if their songs are good, their sound is just kind of harsh on the ears because of frequencies clashing and such. I realize that’s not always the bands’ fault, but we try and mitigate that as much as possible.
6. You are also playing at Klub Therapy in San Diego is 03/19. How did you get involved with that show? Who else are you sharing the stage with?
We’ve been really lucky in that people mention us to others that live in other parts of the country and even other parts of the world. Our name was mentioned to the promoter of Klub Therapy who got in touch with us via Aaron (our live guitarist) and asked if we were interested, so we figured why not? One of my best friends Sam who does lighting (and plays keyboards for awesome and fun holiday-themed Rammstein tribute band Krammpstein) is coming down from LA to do lights for us. We’re really excited about that. We’re also playing with a band called Darks of Heaven who sound really stompy and some great DJs. Should be a fun time.
7. Your Chicago date is scheduled for 04/09. What can you tell us about that gig?
It’s the Glitch Mode Recordings Showcase. Like a small festival with Glitch Mode artists including Cyanotic, Rabbit Junk, Relic, Venus in Aires, Breath and Decay, and DJs Audio Flesh, and Jason Novak (from Acumen Nation and Dj? Acucrack which is rad too because of the massive impact those acts have had on electronic music). Were also really excited because Chicago is kinda like the central processing unit for machine rock so that’s awesome while at the same time rather humbling.Amnestic really wouldn’t exist in the capacity it does now without Glitch Mode Recordings and Cyanotic making me realize that there’s still a place in this world for dancey, aggressive, sample-laden electronica, so sharing a stage with those people is really kind of an honor. Everyone out there has been really welcoming. We’ve made really good friends with a lot of people there so yea, absolutely fantastic. Oh, and pizza!
8. What is next for Amnestic?
Aside from the shows? Just finishing up a new EP which should be out in the next few weeks called “One Possible Future”. After that I just kinda want to chill and intake media, but continue to write, and play shows to stay active. When I’m not staying busy I get really anxious and/or depressed, which I guess is kind of a necessary evil considering the music I write.
Ticket link for the Mustache Massacre:
Klub Therapy in San Diego:
Glitch Mode Recordings Showcase in Chicago: