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Home > All articles > CHEMLAB > Chemlab (Jared Louche) - interview (2005)
Chemlab (Jared Louche) - interview (2005)
2005-11-04 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz | e-mail interview

NINa: Actually I will not focus only on the old Chemlab records because your creativity exceeds far away from music. You're active in the poetry, writing... Do you performance or paint too?

Jared Louche: I experiment with lots of different disciplines in 'the arts' because there's so much I want to do and life's too short not to try countless ideas. I'm the total ADD-driven artist.
I gig all of the time and it's not always a full-on rock show. I perform all over town (and tour as well) in the capacity of storyteller/poet/liar. These shows are a mix of twisted tales of New York where I used to live and of some of the insane delinquents I knew there, stories about running a supercool-but-utterly-doomed record label, about working on Wall Street as a banker for a few years, about anything I like.

Often I'll do a few songs from Covergirl or Hardcore V just with CD backing tracks and give a lap-dance or two in a feather boa. It's dark and sordid and funny and sad and apocalypse-lounge and very much a context within which I can do anything I like. and frequently do. BBC World Service radio often asks me to write topic-specific poetry or stories or give on-air performances and I love working with them. Very professional people, and it doesn't hurt that they've got a listen base of 150 million.
For many years I did a lot of performance art pieces of all kinds with a group I created called FLEX. It was essentially me and whichever artists I wanted to work with at the time and the events were both legal and illegal, in clubs and knocking 'em down in the streets and many of them very confrontational. I did a series of endurance pieces, modern crucifixions (spelled 'cruci-fictions' because it was loosely questioning the validity of using the Bible as a work on non-fiction) and countless other events. Some were small-scale and some of them were much larger and required that I deputize friends to help me realize them.

I once told the tale of Peter Rabbit using a bowl of blood and a skinned rabbit carcass. Pretty. I've attached below a picture of one of these countless performances. It was an illegal performance-tribute/memorial for the artist Joseph Beuys who had just died. I did it in a local three-level gallery that was having an opening for three different artists that night. I was annoyed that much of the American art community seemed so blasé about the death of such an important conceptual artist and so I decided to thrust my performance into the gallery. It was aggressively guerilla, I made reference to some of Beuys' work in the piece and I fucked up the wine and cheese opening as well, and although that was a pleasant benefit, it certainly wasn't my main thrust. The performance was fantastic and unhinged and painful and a total spectacle.

As for painting, you definitely do a lot of research, NINa. I usually paint for a year or two and relieve the need to do it that tension-builds, like having to set fires some times, and then I destroy them. They're very personal creations and not for the public at all. I'm not a painter just because I fuck around with paint. Paint itself doesn't make one a painter any more than standing in a garage makes one a car or simply going to church makes one a Christian. I'm currently painting an all-black book, different textures on every page and some of my texts buried underneath that can never been seen. I'm almost done and then I'll burn it sometime over the winter, or tie it in a burlap sack weighted down with rocks and throw it in the Thames. I've never had an exhibition nor do I ever expect to. I could do a show where I stand in a gallery and tell people what each of the pieces looked like before I trashed them. Interesting idea for a performance though. Would make for a great video.

You wrote the book entitled "A Handbook on How to Wreck Other Peoples Lives". What was it about?

It is a jejune and sophomoric collection of poetry and jagged riffs about death, depression, loss and all of the other predictable topics and time-worn approaches you'd fully expect to find in any other notebook of high school writing except I was long out of high school by then. It came out in 88 and went into a second printing and then sold right out, strangely. I periodically see it on ebay. I'm always tempted to go on and tell the buyers to pass on it. It's not a great collection and I'm not particularly interested in it or proud of it. It needed a lot of editing that it never got and isn't going to now. I know that there are certain people that like it a lot and to them I say: 'Congratulations. I hope you continue to enjoy it'. For me it's impossible to see past the faults and frailties. I feel that way about all of my work to a greater or lesser degree, but the book is the one that I'm the most critical of because it's the biggest pile of shit.
What's it about? It's about me as a dead thing. Oo-ah.

Is 'The City of Ondo' already released?

Sadly not, and it looks like it might not come out under that title at all. It's quite a sprawling, multi-faceted project that incorporates many different musicians and visual artists and is a nightmare of organization. As a collection of tales from the rock'n'rollercoaster it's grand and Gorgon-esque in proportion, but it's nowhere near done. I'll let you know, believe me. I keep getting distracted from it by other things.

I've read something about your cooperation with the art installation group called Art Attack. What was the main idea of working with them?

I was a founding member of Art Attack and worked with them from 82 to 91. it was a site-specific, sculptural, guerilla art installation group. We did a lot of installation art across the US East Coast as well as in Europe. It was a group whose main philosophy was that museums and most galleries have an elite, exclusionist approach to showing artwork and we wanted to work directly counter to that idea. We rejected their approach and erected 90% of our work in public places so that regular people would encounter it as they were going about their lives. Encountering artwork out in the world when you're in a shit mood and late for work can be shocking, arresting, relieving or irritating, but it's impossible to ignore and have some reaction to. As a lot of it was site-specific work, it related directly or obliquely to the surrounding environment. One of my favorite pieces was on a block of buildings soon to be demolished, we deconstructed a house. We cut out a roof-to-ground, side-to-side diamond from the front of a 2 story house with chainsaws and then painstakingly reassembled it inside of the building.

We cut out a massive hole in the floor so that the diamond constructed from the front of the house could spin inside the house. Tribute to the deconstructionist architect Gordon Matta-Clarke. It was a killer project that definitely shocked people. Stunningly, silently beautiful as well. Below are pictures from another, similar project.

Sadly, there are no pictures available for me to show you of the diamond-chainsawed house, but these are shots from another deconstructed house, this one in Virginia, dissected in a similar vein. The second photograph shows the roof actually descending into the interior of the second floor and bisecting the whole house. It's a bit dark, but you get the idea. The whole building was illuminated from the interior so that it threw long shadows out into the surrounding world.

What's about the project Apples & Snakes?

It's just a poetry organization in London. They put on shows and do some educational work. They agent for me for a lot of the educational work I do in schools, universities and prisons.

What was the collaboration between the National Gallery and the Lilian Baylis School?

That was a poetry/creative writing project with 12 year-old kids from the Lilian Baylis school. It's a very rough ghetto school with an arts orientation. The project ran for a whole term and was based around the topic of Metamorphosis. I took the kids into the National Gallery, one of the largest and most prestigious museums in the world, and we looked at and discussed a series of four paintings that reflected different perceptions of Metamorphosis in Art and Culture. The students developed writing around the topic, we engaged in arguments about whether or not the paintings were relevant to the writing, critiqued each other's work and, at the end of the term, presented select material to the school in a performance. I then took a group of 8 of the kids into the national Gallery again and recorded their poetry in the NG's in-house studio.

All of the work and the recordings were on display for a year at the NG. That's similar to a lot of the educational work that I do in London. I spend a lot of time getting groups of people, from little kids to adults in prisons, to think creatively and discuss ideas intelligently, produce unexpected and boundary-challenging writing and tackle their fears of performing it in front of a group of people, be it 12 or 1000. it's incredibly rewarding work, pays well and pushes all of my creative abilities all of the time.


I always was interested in those intriguing "sutures". It's very characteristic for Chemlab :D Is there same bright idea with them?

The sutures are a surrealist-conceptual conceit that we started on our first release '10 Ton Pressure'. They're places for us to freely experiment and fuck with sound. Often they make reference to earlier Chemlab material, encapsulating bizarro in-jokes. They're a sonic stitch that binds two torn pieces of song-flesh together. Segues. They're the music between the notes. All of the sutures from 'Burn Out', for example, are taken from a vinyl copy of the first EP. We scratched it, dragging the needle heavily, back and forth across the damaged grooves, letting it drop into different, somewhat recognizable spots. We then sampled some of those sounds and dropped them in. They were eq'd, especially the very first one, to really torture people's speakers. They almost shredded the tweeters of the speakers in the mastering house.

There was a mention on July this year about Gabriel Shaw of Mindfield and some others in the new Chemlab's line-up. Has it been confirmed already so you can introduce your new crew?

Yes, I'm working with Gabriel. He has done some amazing work with me to resurrect the live band and help get it out under the lights. Really hard work, and he has an excellent vision of what's needed, almost intuitive about my concerns and I think that we'll be working together for a while. I've no idea what the future of Chemlab recordings will be, but we'll see. I'm saying nothing more right now as everything's in flux. As for the rest of the line-up it's Jimmy Pistol on bass and Regan on keys though they're not permanent. I'd like to get LeviTKK back to playing bass with me and rope in my old drummer Servotronik because he's a little fucking machine. We'll see what happens, but for the moment, the shows that we're doing are with this line-up.

Are you in touch with Dylan?

Unfortunately not. When he left Chemlab and NYC he decided he never wanted to make music again and never wanted to speak to me again. Too bad, and he's been good to his word. He hasn't made any more music and he hasn't spoken a word to me at all. I've tried to get in touch, but to no avail. I tried to find him to tell him I was getting the band back on the rails and would he contribute, but still nothing. He's a great writer and a genius in many ways and I'd love to make music with him again, but just like me he's dead hard work, easily distracted and possessed of a great desire for oblivion. He blames me for all of his addictions, but I figure that if I can stop being a dope fiend then anyone can, and it's six years that I haven't done any smackcrackpillsbooze.
I think that he should pull his stranded ship out of the waves and up on the dry shore instead of yelling about there being a titan storm howling all around him. Fucking take control. I did. I miss him, but he wants nothing to do with me. I could spend the whole interview talking about him, but I think that, to a certain extent, that's unfair and also massively pointless, like discussing my history as a 'next-to-die-trainwreck' drug addict. He's history. Interesting history, but ancient. The recordings stand as the important part of our relationship. However, it's time to move on. Future now, motherfuckers!

Were you gonna enter for Tapeworm project? You're credited as an unconfirmed artist here at 9inchnails.net/Tapeworm website.

It's cute to be included in the list, but no one ever got in touch with me about it. I'd be interested though I've seen projects akin to that founder drastically on egos and time-drag. It's easy to make a mole-hill out of a mountain of talent. It happens a lot though I think that Tapeworm could've been pretty amazing. If someone asked I'd certainly be up for adding my two cents of shit'n'confusion.

Is Pigface an open project for any musician bound with industrial rock stage?

Pigface is Martin Atkins' project and I don't really have anything more to do with it than to sing occasionally. I've toured with them and had some hilariously times, but I'm not the guy who makes any of the decisions about its direction or conceptual future. In many ways, that was one of the main things that attracted me to it at first as well as the people involved at that time. I've been the manager, singer, writer, conceptualist, tour boss and router, brainstormer and main face for the band from the beginning, so it's a treat for me to be in a massively diminished role when I'm out with them. I simply have to show up for rehearsals and then get on the bus, roll off for the gigs, riot the stage and spend the rest of the time hanging out with musicians I respect, meeting old fiends and kreepy-kool kids who've come to the shows. I don't have input in, know or care or what's going to happen to Pigface next. I've got so many things happening in my world, Pigface's just an occasional vacation for me where I get to get my rocks off. and that's exactly how I like it.

Besides, if one takes Pigface too seriously it loses the major thing it has going for it: its frivolity. Its capriciousness allows it to do anything at all and not be restrained by concerns about propriety or any requirements to play the predictability game. Pigface could decide to do a whole show of Elvis tunes channeled thorough Throbbing Gristle via Alice Cooper and it would be the right thing to do at the time.

I've registered at Chemlab Hydrogen board and what did I read about? There's a thread "Tribute to Chemlab". It sounds interesting to hear that Cyanotic and Flesh Field are ready to re-interpret Chemlab's songs. Will it be released on the CD?

It will. I hope you'll excuse my reticence here however. This is an uncertain project at the moment and I hope you'll indulge me in remaining somewhat mysterious. Certain projects that are both interesting and have complex dynamics tangled in their wire-nested hearts demand silence until they're in the can. This is a genius idea started by some Blackout Tribe members of the H-Bar (Chemlab web site) and I want to guard it well so that it can launch when well stirred. I'll tell you about it as soon as I can. Suffice it to say that I think it's going to be a killer.

It was interesting when 16 Volt, Chemlab, Haloblack and other musicians made H3llb3nt (pretty letters ;)) and such songs like (my favourite) "3 Murders, 3 Nights", "Overloaded" or "Rubber Girls With Knives" were recorded. Is H3llb3nt over?

Not as far as I'm concerned. It simply goes on long hiatuses because all three main engines behind it (Bryan and Eric and I) always have so many other projects cooking up at the same time. We're none of us particularly good at time management and everything gets in the way. Currently I know that Eric's deeply involved in writing a new 16 Volt record, Bryan's always cutting remixes and working on making his new band X-Lover take over the world. I'm deep in the process of working on a couple of different albums and have finally heard back from Mark Spybey (Zoviet France, DVOA, CAN et al), for example, that his studio's back up and running after a major disaster and that we can finally finish the experimental noise-story album we were working on. Details on that soon. So, it's hard to get the time to focus on the next H3llb3nt record, but we'll get there. The jet's not out of fuel yet.

There is a song called "Atariteenagefuck (suture)" on the Hardcore Vanilla record. Did you want Alec Empire to react? ;)

Not at all. Didn't really think of him at all at that time. it was going to be ATARITEENAGETIMEBOMB for a little while as well. It just came to me as a title that sounded irritating and strange and hilarious. It's a suture built out of another song, run at triple time. Just seemed right to us at the time. It was late. It always is.

Hardcore Vanilla again. There were also engaged such artist like Raymond Watts (Pig), Anna Wildsmith (Sow), Meg Lee Chin and Jason McNinch Lick, Damage Manual, Pigface) amongst all. Did you want to have either famous names or good sounds on the record? ;)

Good sounds made by damaged friends in fact. The name-recognition just isn't an issue, that's for the record label to sweat about. We just wanted to rope in the freaks that might help make it more interesting than with just the three of us launching sonic rockets. H3llb3nt always has guests and this time these were they. Raymond's an old friend and Bryan has worked with him a lot recently. He and I have talked about doing a record together for years though it has yet to come to fruition. Anna slunk in as she happened to be in town seeing Raymond. Jason's an old friend of mine though he had more to do with the production. He played some amazingly deep-gouged torn guitar on my solo record 'Covergirl' though. Meg coughed once on a song and we sampled it. Incorporating them made for a broader selection of flavors regardless of the industry's desire to exploit.

The list of musicians you've worked with so far is really amazing. Let me mention some of them: Julian Beeston (Nitzer Ebb, Cyber-Tec, Pigface), Jason Novak (Acuman Nation, Cyanotic), Martin Atkins (PIL, Ministry, Killing Joke, Damage Manual, Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy, Pigface), Charles Levi (MLWTTKK, Chemlab), William Tucker (Ministry, Foetus), Geno Lenardo (Filter, Chemlab)... Why haven't you worked with Trent Reznor or Dave Ogilvie yet? ;)

I've toured with Trent and hung out on and off with Dave years ago when Puppy smeared through town and played at my club in the 80s. I'd love to kick chaos with both of them, but the one thing that has always dictated the way that I work and the people that I work with is my lack of money. Everything's done on bartering, favors, mutual respect and friendship. Very few of the discs that have come through me have lots of cash tied up in their chests. There's simply never been enough money available to me to pay people much when it comes to working with me, so the people that appear in my musical omniverse do so because they want to be one of the hurtling satellites spinning through the noise-field. It means that I've worked with, and continue to work with, people that are doing it purely for the noise and the collaboration. It goes all bruised sometimes, but I've been really lucky to work with excellent musicians and producers.

There will be a come back of three industrial rock bands soon - Pitchshifter, Hate Dept. and Gravity Kills. Will Chemlab also join and release a new record?

I actually released my new record before either Hate Dept or Pitchshifter, in the spring of last year. It's an album called Oxidizer released through Invisible Records. This coming spring will see the release of two more records, the main one being a tightpack-bomb called 'Rock Whore versus Dance Floor'. It's a sprawling disc of remixes from Oxidizer featuring Cyanotic, Terrorfakt, Cubanate, Die Warsau, Adam Grossman (Ministry, Skrew) and countless others. As for an even newer Chemlab album (I know, OXO's not really new at all by this time!), we'll see what happens next. I can promise you that, whether or not it's a Chemlab record, I'm busy working on a couple of things and they'll see the light of day soon. Put your ear-hole to the metal plate, you'll hear.

I'm sorry, some standard question now :) What are your favourite bands and records?

That depends on when you ask me. I think everyone knows I'll mention Iggy (in particular 'The Idiot') and Bowie at some stage so I'll just get them out of the way right now. I listen to many, many things all of the time and choosing a favorite's really impossible. right now I'm enjoying Tom Waits 'Closing Time' and Cyanotic 'Transhuman', Frank Sinatra's 'Live at The Sands with The Count Basie Orchestra' 1966. I've loved Skinny Puppy since I saw them for the first time in 84 and 'Bites' and 'Remission' still hold strong. Lull 'Cold Summer'. Early Lou Reed. Most of Sonic Youth. 16 Volt, everything. Monk and Miles. Chopin's 'Nocturnes' and Satie's 'Gymnopedies'. Hanatarash. Sindaddy 'IntelligenCIA'. Nails and Manson. The Rolling Stones classics like 'Exile', 'Let It Bleed', 'Beggars' and even 'Goat's Head Soup'. Merlin. Early Fugazi. Ministry until 'Filth Pig'. Girls Against Boys especially 'Venus Luxure Number 1, Baby'. Dead Boys 'Sonic Reducer'. Young Gods. Queen Adreena 'Pretty Like Drugs' though they're at their best live because they're a bomb waiting to explode and one can never really be sure what's going to happen next. Stan Getz' whole samba period, perfect cocktail music. Coil, all of it though 'Scatology' stands proud. Belfagore's first record. The first BRMC disc. Mazzy Star. Roxy Music, everything, but that's as much of a surprise as Iggy. Throbbing Gristle and SPK and Kosmonautentraum and Neubauten, no surprise there either. Foetus. Birthday Party in particular and early Nick Cave. Hank Williams. I think I'd better stop there because, as I'm sure you can tell, this could go on all night. Right now I'm listening to AIR's soundtrack for the amazingly spaced out and bittersweet 'Virgin Suicides'.

What software, samplers do you use during song writing process?

Powerbook G4, my note book and a rollerball, micro-point pen. Black. I'm not the programmer and never have been with any of the bands I'm involved in. I contribute song writing ideas and extensive arrangement ideas, but I don't program at all. I should, but I don't. I'm just the meat in the machine-fuck. I've always been lucky enough to work with people who are talented enough to know how to translate the fucked up ideas in my head and make them sound like something more than just a broken air conditioner, though that can sound pretty cool as well.

Is there anything you'd like to tell your fans in Poland?

If you're interested in the music, come and check it out at: Hydrogenbar.com or over at Myspace.com/chemlab. There are shirts and discs for sale on the H-Bar site. And I'd dig playing shows in Poland, so if anyone has a solid connection for us to start talking about gigging there, get in touch. I want to come over and make some noise!

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