When you allude to GRENDEL, most people instantly think of the mythological figure of Beowulf saga. Yet in the dark music industry, it actually reminds of a very praised aggrotech band. GRENDEL's reputation is not to be proven anymore. Everything actually starts in 1997 under another name. In 2000, the band becomes GRENDEL and its first CD is being promoted. Under the label Noitekk, the combo from the Netherlands releases a demo EP, Inhumane Amusement before End of Ages in 2002 but especially the excellent full-length album entitled Prescription : Medicine in 2003. The powerful mix of harsh vocals, distorted and noisy background synths is a win and clearly reaches the listener's dark soul. If many bands in a dark music industry in expansion at that time release one single album before disappearing, GRENDEL is nothing alike and keeps maturing while its popularity keeps growing years after years. In this context, Harsh Generation EP is probably one of the biggest turning points for the Dutch combo that releases nothing more than a EBM masterpiece with some songs that combines melodic elements and violent vocals such as Harsh Generation, The Judged Ones or the sensuous Dirty. Since then, it seems that the combo is just back on track with a new album and new dark materials. Can their new album be even better than the previous ones ? Let's meet GRENDEL's mastermind, JD Tucker.
JD, nice to hear you today. Many EBM and Industrial artists find their inspiration in their insatisfaction of life. I assume it has been the same for you. Can you introduce yourself a little bit for the ones who are not familiar with you as an artist ? (some words on your background, your aspirations, your lifelong dreams, your mood in the early days of GRENDEL .. ) What did inspire you to create the band's music ? And in which does EBM reflect or serve your musical and philosophical messages in GRENDEL ?
Starting out in the late '90s, at the young age of 15, it goes without saying that my aspirations, motivations and dissatisfactions/frustrations were considerably different than they are now. And to be honest, it such a long time ago I can barely remember or relate to what made me tick back then. However, over the years, I've found that this genre of music lent itself well to channeling any concerns, anger or fears I may have at that time, ranging from contemporary politics & social issues to more personal matters.
Many say that GRENDEL matured, just like its members. Who is the new JD? Is he a newly satisfied man ? What is the impact on the band ?
Without a doubt, there's been a lot of progress, both musically and philosphically. Especially in the last five years, since the release of 'Timewave Zero', having moved to London, returning to & completing university, starting a new successful career besides my music and facing a good amount of challenges along the way. All of this has drastically changed me as a person and my outlook on life in general for the better, as you'd expect. To coincide with this, it's also changed my philosophy as a musician : Although I've always preferred to do things my way, I came to realize just how many concerns I carried subconsciously regarding how others would percieve what I was doing, which subsequently stunted my musical growth. I now work quite impulsively, drawing on any influences I personally feel work, which is resulting in some great results and so much more pleasure & satisfaction in the process. There will always be people who share your vision & desires or are open to it. They are the people who truly matter. Besides that, I also take on an increasingly disciplined and professional approach to how we work as a band these days.By the way, if dark music comes from out of anger and frustration, do you think that a happy man has the abilities to create EBM or Industrial music ?
Absolutely. It doesn't matter how well you are doing in life, deep inside there will be that flame burning. It's just a matter of staying in touch with it, so it doesn't consume you. Despite all the positive personal progress I mentioned, there's still enough going on in the world to fuel that fire. And let's be honest ; kicking off your shoes at the end of the day, sitting back, pouring out a drink and raising a finger to all things dire is one of life's greatest pleasures. It's necessary and healthy. You've got to have some fuckoffishness in you to get through this all, and especially to be involved in EBM or Industrial music.
You already revealed that GRENDEL is thematically inspired by literature and movies. What books or movies managed to catch your attention lately ?
Since the 'Timewave Zero' album, I've moved on a bit from the primarily science fiction focus. Major inspirations for my current material & approach would be the work of Peter J Carroll, Joseph Heller, William Gibson and Robert Anton Wilson. As for movies or shows, I've drawn influences from stuff like Kafka, The Prisoner, Judgement At Nurenberg, The Keep, Holy Mountain, Fellini's Satyricon, Ex Machina, Adam Curtis' work and various documentaries.
Cyberpunk movement mainly deals with the idea of human destruction by techonology and ultra-civilized corporations power over mere humans. Yet recent times revealed that machines could also be the most efficient weapon for people to fight those corporations. Machines provide new opportunities for work, cultural exchanges, new life perspectives. Is technology really the threat nowadays ? Haven't we gone beyond the concept of fear of technology to embrace it and beat the lawless corporations at their own game ? Can we talk of a rising post-dystopian movement ?
I think the biggest problem we face now and, rightfully so, should fear is the effect of how we interact with the world and with each other through social media. We live in our own ideological echo chambers or bubbles, divided and unchallenged. This means it's easier to have select information fed to us, by means of algorithms, and subsequently be convinced we perceive the ultimate truth on matters. However, when things don't turn out how we expect them to, many lose trust and faith in the world and feel that they have been wronged, oblivious to a possible majority who are fed a completely different 'reality'. In a way we have escaped reality, while the real world outside our 'bubbles' has continued. I also beleave that the hyperindividualism brought on by social media has led to this ressurgeance of '80s-esque me-first mentality. If you grow up as a digital native, in a digital world where everything is based on ego boosting approval ratings, it's no wonder that you feel you should receive some kind of reward in the real world for doing the right thing. Once you discover that isn't the case, the tendency is there to opt for that hyperindividual digital 'reality' and miss out on valuable life skills. That said, I do also of course see the many benefits of social media, as much of a double-edged sword it is, and I must make clear I refuse to play the blame game regarding 'millenials'. That's one big old man 'gaslighting' mindfuck, in my opinion, as the problems we face are far more widespread than one age range or generation.
Let's talk about your upcoming album now. Which direction will it take ? In comparison with Harsh Generation or Timewave Zero, what could we expect it to be ? Any details or anecdote to reveal about it ?
In comparison to my prior work, as stated before, my influences have become increasingly eclectic and impulsive. These range from '80s – early '90s EBM/Industrial/Coldwave/Postpunk to folk, chamber, cinematic, medieval, musique concrete, ambient or world music. I have also made a conscious move away from many pitfalls of the genre and opted for many organic and unique sounds. This has been done through use of multi-sampled materials & instruments (note by note, velocity by velocity), use of various forms of synthesis (both analog/modular and digital), combining old & new technology and creating own sounds, minimising the use of presets. I'd say one of the most effective choices was to completely avoid the use of any 'supersaw' or 'rave' leads, which have been overly common in the genre and most of all in 'Electronic Dance Music'. This has opened up the doors to richer sounding and far more interesting alternatives and I can't say I feel it's missing in any of the tracks. Rhythmically it's also a lot more adventurous and I've given the music more space to breathe and groove.
Is 'Age Of The Disposable Body' really the planned name for this new album ? What does the title mean ?
The album title refers to two things ; The rise of the 'disposable workforce', social budget cuts under conservative governments and disappearing middle class, leading to a decline in living standards, while being turned on each other through various tactics. On the other hand it refers to the need to put less emphasis on our imposed superficial physical greed, fear & vanity (distractions) and find personal strength on a (non-organized religious) spiritual & mental plane. The need to rise above the crawling, be enlightened and enlighten.
It naturally leads to this question : Do you have some touring projects coming up in a near future ?
We will be touring again from September onward, starting off in Rotterdam Holland, as part of the Baroeg Open Air festival, then heading on to Chemnitz in Germany and on to Oslo in Norway, with more dates to follow (hopefully some in France as well). Plus, we're working toward the next North American tour in Spring of 2018, which will be quite extensive. We're very excited to get back on the road again and deliver the new material from 'Age Of The Disposable Body' !
All news regarding GRENDEL are on :
(c) Demona Lauren
for VerdamMnis Magazine