Child of Industry
An Interview with Adam Sherburne
The following interview with Adam Sherburne was conducted shortly after Consolidated's release of Play More Music. Part of the interview appeared in a local entertainment newspaper shortly before the band's Houston performance. Here is the interview in it's entirety.
Mark/counterculture: What kind of response do you get from people who participate in the unique format of your show, where you invite members of the audience to speak?
Adam/consolidated: It's pretty diverse, and healthy either way, whether it's ignorant, articulate, or just in the middle. We think it's a useful indicator for us, and for the audience to hear our ideas as well.
Mark/counterculture: On the "Veggie Beat Manifesto" track, I heard an audience member say he was having a good time dancing when you "bummed him out" by showing footage of animals being slaughtered.
Mark/counterculture: Don't you feel responsible for ruining his day?
Adam/consolidated: I can't assign what value of what quotient of credit we'll take for ruining his day. I'm sure there's something else contributing to it, too.
Mark/counterculture: You have people who come to your show to slam, people who believe in what you say, or disagree, people who get pissed off because they pay and hear something that's not what they want to hear, or see. What's the ideal Consolidated show?
Adam/consolidated: The one criteria we have is that people respect the other people who paid the same amount of money (to see the show). Other than that, whatever opinions they have, that's fine. Young men who come to kill each other, and the few male-behaving women who defend them, we have a problem with that. Other than that, anything is fine. The ideal audience member is someone who says something brilliant so we can stick it on the next record and enlighten ourselves and anyone else who cares to listen.
Mark/counterculture: I heard you say to an audience member, "You'll make the next record for sure." Are some statements, like the intro to Play More Music, just that blatant when you hear them?
Insert/audience member: "If you don't like fascism, don't play industrial music."
Adam/consolidated: Nobody ever said any *@#^ that hard. It just became immediately apparent, he was God for the next record.
Mark/counterculture: What's the word on Murder One (who spoke on Friendly Fascism)?
Adam/consolidated: It's funny you should ask. I just spoke with him three nights ago for the first time since '90 or '91.
Mark/counterculture: Where is he now?
Adam/consolidated: He's still in Chicago and he's still doing well, and he's rapping, and he's probably going to travel with us through the Midwest. He's brilliant, but he'd gone underground and there was no way to get a number from him until he emerged with his rap group, the Organized Crime Unit, and had solicited my booking agent. And so, I got his phone number and called him Monday night, and (found out) he's doing great. It was really weird though, because he definitely vanished.
Mark/counterculture: What about Paris and Crack M.C.?
Adam/consolidated: Paris has pretty wide recognition as a street hip hop musician. He was signed to Tommy Boy, which is a division of Warner. They, like with Ice-T, refused to release his record because of its content and its artwork, so he had to releases his record independently. We think he's brilliant. He differs from us on many issues. We were recording the album (Play More Music) in the aftermath of the (L.A.) riots and we felt that both he and Crack M.C. would articulate the feelings and emotions of Black American males better that anything else, and so we just let them roll with it.
Mark/counterculture: What is the message at the end of Play More Music? Is it that you're not Fugazi, or that they're way harder?
Adam/consolidated: Yeah, well, Fugazi plays everywhere for five bucks, plus they didn't happen to be traveling with a group from Europe who required way more money just to get to the States. They didn't happen to be selling their t-shirts in a club that takes a big cut, and we had no power in this situation, because we had agreed to go out with this other group and they made the rules. However, it didn't make any sense defending that in that particular bit. It just made more sense to realize that people are looking for a way to knock you down, and that was to satisfy those people so they can either get over it and move on with the substance of our work, or just get over it, period.
Mark/counterculture: I was impressed with the Native American sampling on "He." The legacy of the Native Americans is important to me because, in learning about them and their peaceful and respectful beliefs, we can learn or understand where we, meaning those who brought European and Western ideals, have been wrong throughout history.
Mark/counterculture: How do you see the Native Americans today, and in your music, can you make people aware of their plight?
Adam/consolidated: The leaders, tribal leaders, musicians, artists and a few aligned regional politicians are doing what they can on a legislative level. For us, that song is a kind of symbolic thing, the use of a flavor (musical style, or sample) representing or referring to Native Americans is just symbolically analogous to the worst product of Eurocentric male devastation of culture. The song is actually a sort of metaphor for patriarchal Euro-devastation of all culture, not just human, but animal and nature. But, I'd say that Native Americans, by their isolation out of U.S. cities, out of any sort of access to mainstream culture are far more crippled than any other oppressed groups, and it's such a tragic scenario. When you drive through reservations, you hear and see the conditions under which they're living, how the government steps all over their tribal leaders to use their sacred grounds as ^#@*ing toxic waste dumps, to harvest timber, develop on their burial grounds....
Mark/counterculture: They are a passive and less formally united peoples, so they don't defend themselves well in our current system. The whole meaning of their existence has been to be at peace.
Adam/consolidated: I think a lot of tribes are (passive). I think some tribes are not. Some tribes are aggressive at defending their lands, and very nationalistic as it were, but I just think they've had it beaten out of them. There's no sense of heritage that would allow for the kind of pride and unity required to make some collective gathering of tribes on a political or cultural level, like in the African American community. It's a brutal history.
"They're just products of commodity entertainment coming from different technological origins and cultural backgrounds."
Mark/counterculture: Another unique feature of Consolidated... Your lyrics are well written, lengthy editorials. Why do you put so much (effort) into it when other rap groups get by with far less lyrical effort, not to mention many industrial bands that do little more than produce a beat to slam by?
Adam/consolidated: There's a conscious attempt to not use any romanticized, or very little rock or rap poetic jargon. There's some that slips in every now and then, but the idea is to stay away from, on a rock level, any sort of abstracted, codified, ambiguous lyrics. On a rap level, (to stay away from) any traditional hip hop braggadocio usage, and hip hop rhyming style. First of all, it is apparent I can't rap. But I think it's a conscious decision in the text to demystify the power of what we (society) think is a dangerous language. So, a lot of it comes out sounding like editorialized news wire. But, at the same time, that may change, too.
Insert/definition: "fas-cism: a political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."
Mark/counterculture: Do you think fascism exists in this country and people just can't recognize it?
Adam/consolidated: Absolutely. And, I think a lot of people do recognize it. I definitely believe it exists, not in the exact same way it did in the '30s, but it incorporates the same kind of principles and tendencies of nationalism, imperialism, corporate government, heavy militaristic emphasis, no division between business and government, fundamentalistic trends, (and) religious association with the State. I think that's quite apparent for anyone who's willing to look at it. There are a lot of people who recognize it, but don't want to use that term for obvious reasons. They think it's been destroyed and that it has so much specific meaning to that historical period. We think it's important to choose what historical terms you're going to use and that it is important enough to bring it back up. Because we do think, although it's not the same kind of fascism you had back then, it's definitely that and needs to be recognized as such.
Mark/counterculture: A great example for my next question is the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest. (Many) people are convinced that because of its endangered status, environmentalists are causing layoffs in the timber industry, when that has really come about because of higher profit-making and mechanization. Why is it so easy for industries, with the help of government, to misinform people?
Adam/consolidated: Absolutely. One thing that's very important is that if you have an economic clamp on people, they're usually too hungry and desperate to sit back and have the privilege of cross-examining, and so, first of all, we live in a totally union-busted labor society, so there's no real opportunity for descent among laborers, especially in the timber industry here in the West. But, it's been apparent for years that so much timber has been wiped out that in addition to automation, there's just not a need for a labor force. Even the timber industry realizes there's going to have to be a reduction in the rate at which they're felling forests.
"Your kids give you a lot of faith that they are going to do better than you are, even though there's going to be more of their peers that are going to be more *#@^ed-up than we are."
Mark/counterculture: Are there any worthwhile industries that a person growing up in the United States can look forward to being part of? Profits and misinformation dictate everything from petroleum, energy and plastics to entertainment and music. What can a young person do today to have pride in whatever their life is about?
Adam/consolidated: That's a great question. I would say that it's that way in any field, like you said, so realize it. You butter your own bread and wake up every day realizing the contradictions you're about. I'm not necessarily trying to stay in the music business, but I'm here for the moment. Whatever, (your life) is going to be wrought with contradictions and problems. You have to decide how important it is for you to examine those problems, or live in denial, or just not worry about it.
Mark/counterculture: People seem completely unwilling to acknowledge the environmental problems we create. Do you ever feel that life on this planet is disintegrating?
Adam/consolidated: Yes, and the same goes for inter-human relations. We just refuse to admit it and we believe we're getting the right story, when we're so deceived and given misleading information all of our lives, in every aspect of our education. But sure, the only thing to do about that is decide how resigned or optimistic you want to be about it.
Mark/counterculture: Environmental groups are often labeled "extremists." Many believe in the adage, "Desperate times call for desperate measures," and don't believe anything positive would happen if it weren't for people who will take extreme action. What action would you like to see people take in this country to change things?
Adam/consolidated: I'm a life-long believer in non-violence, but that doesn't preclude drastic action. I think one of the members of Earth First! had the best plan. When Judy Barry went up there to Redwood Summer -- she's the woman who got her car blown up on the way to Redwood Summer with Daryl Churney. She was going up there frequently during the spring and winter of '90 and '91. She was the one who was talking with timber workers, because she was a union organizer for years. So, she's just got a real clear perspective on the fact that we're all in it together. There's no reason to think you're going to win your struggles on such simple measure as us against environmentalists, when the point is, in a corporate society, those interests are definitely pitting you against each other. And so, I'd say tree-spiking, tree-hugging, and not being afraid to go speak with timber activists. At what point do you say you're being too risky, or threatening physical harm on somebody else. I'm a pacifist for sure, but at the same time, like they say, "Desperate times...."
Mark/counterculture: And the future for your children?
Adam/consolidated: I wake up every day. It's tough, but at the same time, your kids give you a lot of faith that they are going to do better than you are, even though there's going to be more of their peers that are going to be more *#@^ed-up than we are. The best example to look at is your mother, wife, or the women around you that have been, for thousands of years, going through life making things happen, taking care of the kids, even though they've been degraded generation after generation, century after century. In the midst of whatever chaotic, seemingly apocalyptic scenario, I think there's a lot of places where you can draw positive inspiration.
Mark/counterculture: I know you don't advocate drugs, but you are for decriminalizing drugs. How can that be, for someone who can't differentiate the two?
Adam/consolidated: No theory, but just a previous historical understanding of what prohibition of these things does -- (which) is only create, like they have now, an even more sophisticated and twisted reflection of society's greed and pathological intuitions. And, all I mean by that is, when you're spending money to incarcerate youth, you're not taking drugs out of their community. When you're not giving people a job or any reason to live, they're going to find some way to escape. I'm not an advocate of drugs, nor am I a condemner of them. Until we have some education and commitment towards healing and treating, and prevention, you aren't going to find any kind of cheap cure by creating a police state.
Mark/counterculture: Your last tour through Houston was the first time I've seen you play guitar in years.
Adam/consolidated: Since the Ale House.
Mark/counterculture: Is playing guitar live going to be part of your performance again?
Adam/consolidated: It definitely is. It's logical for us to incorporate conventional rock, the same way we incorporate hip hop, the same way we incorporate techno-slash-industrial. Whatever, just to keep the audience off guard and make it clear that we don't endorse or have allegiance to one stylism. One is not separate or superior to the other. They're just products of commodity entertainment coming from different technological origins and cultural backgrounds.
Mark/counterculture: Every time I talk with you, you're never certain what's in store for Consolidated. Where do things stand now?
Adam/consolidated: Even more uncertain than when I last spoke to you. Our recording relations (are) coming up for renewal, or dispersal. Times are tough. My family and I moved up here (Oregon) for the reason it was just impossible to stay in the city (San Francisco) and be involved in the project. But, we'll do this tour for sure and then go home and discuss it again, and see if we can't keep it going, if it's worth it, if it's not damaging to everybody's personal life.
Mark/counterculture: Is there anything you miss about Texas, other than good ol' boys and klansmen?
Adam/consolidated: They've got plenty of that up here, and plenty of drag queens, (and) prostitute apartment complexes, not in Portland, but in San Francisco. It's a nostalgic, romanticized memory of when you didn't give a *#@^ about life and you had no responsibilities, and you took no responsibility. It's brilliant -- the best fantasy escape camp ever.
Mark/counterculture: When will I see Consolidated back up the Yeastie Girls on David Letterman?
Adam/consolidated: We'd love to if it could ever happen. Absolutely.
Mark/counterculture: Any last statements?
Adam/consolidated: No, I just have to bust out of here and pick up my kids.
Mark/counterculture: Well, I assure you, in a world dominated by conservative media and corporate entertainment, it's good that people who otherwise wouldn't, can have the chance to hear views like yours.
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