Tommy T. seems to live and breathe industrial music. He's not only the central member of Diverje, a collaboration of musicians from around the world, but he also runs the label DSBP, participates in such side projects as Bio-Mechanical Degeneration (with Vince Pujol of Electro Synthetic Rebellion) and does solo work as In-FUSED, a project devoted to old-school experimental EBM. We spoke to Tommy recently about his newest Diverje album, The Distortion Chamber, Vol. I, and the trials of running a record label in the 21st century.
G&C: Tell us about the history of Diverje, and how you came to take the approach of working with such a diverse group of musicians.
Tommy: Diverje has always been an evolving and diverse group of musicians doing electronic/industrial music with energy and originality. Each album is a bit different from the next, and having so many different members through the years it has made it very fun and challenging. I work with many musicians mainly 'cause it is a good way to keep things fresh and growing, and options stay open for the future. We started out as a metal/industrial hybrid back in 1996 and recorded a couple albums with that style, and then more of an EBM approach came in with splashes of power noise, rock, dark electro and so on. At the end of 2000, we released On Skin, and that album did really well; we had more of an EBM flow and had some club hits as well. "On Skin," "Regret" and "Disconnect" -- a Converter remix all did really well to spread the name. 2:40 am was our first double-CD and had tons of remixes on it from all kinds of projects and really took the diversity to a new level; we had 30 tracks or so on that one lots of fun and some really killer remixers added in their style to the Diverje vocals and composition. Amphibian was going be a single disc, but when I heard all the remixes that came in, I was like, "Nah, this is going to be another double-CD. Too many kick-ass remixes to be heard," so it turned into that. One side is all new and original, and Disc 2 is all remixes of tracks from CD 1 by some of the best bands in the underground scene. The "frog album" was a very risky one, and overall did very well, even though it was not a typical EBM album. It has some weirdness to it, for sure, but a lot of great EBM and dark industrial-style songs filling it up. We also had some nice merchandise ideas and products come out of that one for "the amphibian lovers." That brings us to the present. The Distortion Chamber, Vol. I is what I feel to be the most complete Diverje album yet: all new tracks, no remixes, and a lot of diversity as well as controversial subjects and a black humor to it that's not found in many CDs in the electro/industrial scene anymore. I was listening to a lot of diverse stuff when writing, including AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and it has that kind of attitude in the lyrics, as well as Combichrist, Run Level Zero, the Mercy Cage, Biopsy, Rotersand, Psyclon Nine, Depeche Mode, Queensryche, Disturbd, Razed In Black, Colony 5 and lots more bands that inspired me along the way. This CD has done really well for us, and continues to sell well and get great response on radio and clubs. We encourage all to play our stuff more!
G&C: The Distortion Chamber, Vol. I includes collaborations with people from as far away as Australia. Can you tell us a little about the process of creating a new Diverje song?
Tommy: It's always a mixture of ideas, music, lyrics and sending music back and forth through the Internet or on CD-R. Whoever works with me has lots of freedom, and there's never any pressure or problems, really; I can write lyrics and vocals to all kinds of electronic stuff, so that helps, and I love writing music as well. I like having a global influence, and it does keep me on my toes and very fresh in the overall writing approach.
G&C: How do the songs translate live? What's a Diverje concert like, and do you have a regular lineup for performing?
Tommy: The sound is real good live! We have a different lineup, all locals and brothers of mine from other acts and solo projects. We have a four-piece band playing live no boring laptop stage musicians here! Two drummers, both playing electronic kits and various percussion, standing up and rocking out with us! I handle the vocal duties, melodies, shouts, screams and insanity, jumping around onstage all drunk, and Kent on the keyboards adds some awesome texture and new sounds to the mix. It is a very energetic performance and getting better each time. We will be doing lots of shows in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado...and California is on the agenda, too.
G&C: Are you working on any other musical projects right now? When might we expect the second volume of The Distortion Chamber?
Tommy: Right now I am also working in Bio-Mechanical Degeneration with Vince P. of Electro Synthetic Rebellion and Diverje. That album is called Exoskeleton and should be out on DSBP by late December or January. The project will be big with many Diverje fans, for sure. There're more instrumental tracks, though. Vince and I share the vocal/vocoder duties. I also have my solo project in-FUSED, which is an on-and-off-again kind of thing. I do it for fun mainly, and I have one solo CD out called Misplaced on DSBP with that; that is more of an old-school electro/noise and instrumental mix. Vol. 2 of The Distortion Chamber is in studio sessions now and sounding really nice. We will have eight new tracks that will be EBM for sure, lots of harsher vocals, and dancier than ever. The other eight tracks will be remixes of tracks for the dance floor as well. We want this one to really make the clubs shake!
G&C: You're very outspoken against illegal music downloads, but DSBP still has a very strong online presence. What advice do you have for bands or other labels trying to promote their music without being victimized by piracy?
Tommy: I don't have any advice for the band and labels. We've got to keep doing what we need to do; that's about it. Don't give up, but be aware. I have advice for the fans of music, though, so here goes: if you want your favorite bands and record labels to keep putting out the music you love, then support them and buy CDs from the bands you like, and support the labels, not the downloading services cashing in off you all and not paying the musicians or labels right, and definitely don't be downloading the stuff illegally and making excuses for stealing the music. Would you like it if we stole cash from your pocket and your livelihood? It's that simple.
G&C: What other upcoming plans we should know about? Any upcoming DSBP releases you're particularly excited about?
Tommy: Yes, I am always excited about our DSBP releases. Everyone should check out our website at www.dsbp.cx and hear the bands that aren't the overplayed same old shit. I am excited about Vince's Bio-Mechanical Degeneration album and the new Encoder and Rein-Forced, and new Diverje and Severe Illusion as well. It should be a good year, and hopefully people don't stop buying CDs altogether, and hopefully they stop following the mainstream and corporate trends that just aim at their pocketbook and making everyone the same being. Be an individual and support the real bands and labels that are authentic and easy to talk with and listen to and who have kick-ass prices and albums. I also look forward to playing live everywhere we do and rocking people's asses in person and drinking and playing with girls.
G&C: Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
Tommy: Feel free to smoke it up with me anytime. We are here to give you live electro/industrial in a fun and partying atmosphere with just enough seriousness to keep things diverse and cool. Let's keep this scene alive and stop downloading and pissing us all off. Thanks for support. Enjoy the new album; our new T-shirts kick ass, too! Visit our websites, and let's keep the party going!
Interview courtesy of Livid Looking Glass Magazine
Diverje on My Space
photo by Emily Nash