Guitarist/producer Justin K. Broadrick is no stranger to the pages of XLR8R, having shown up here in numerous guises, like Techno Animal (with The Bug's Kevin Martin), Jesu, and Pale Sketcher. So on the occasion of Jesu's recent release, Ascension, we decided to quiz him about his heavy-metal past, his favorite artists of late, and what that mysterious "K." stands for.
How did you first start getting into metal and industrial music?
I got into metal as a kid once I heard my first Black Sabbath album, but punk and post-punk were my first musical loves. The band Crass led me to industrial, namely Throbbing Gristle. I was hungry for more, so I enquired a lot and discovered so much.
Who were your childhood heroes?
My step-father, for being musical (he was a guitarist, influenced by Hendrix and Dave Gilmour) and exposing me to great records. Hugh Cornwell, guitarist/vocalist from
The Stranglers—the band that first really impacted me as a child, and by child I mean pre-teenage, which I guess you do too. Before the above, in 1977, when i was eight, I think Darth Vader was my biggest hero.
What does the "K." stand for?
I have two middle names—first Karl, second Michael—but never liked the KM, so K does the job.
You are easily one of the most prolific artists in your field. What drives you to be a part of so many different musical projects?
A love of hearing and making music, and a love of the depth of music and the depth of expression available. If one has the time and energy to devote most of their life to making music, then why not? I strive to make 'perfect' records, yet I know I never will, so I chase that dream by attempting to realize the sounds in my head. I chase that dream on an almost daily basis. I'm often schizophrenic with my music. I am thoroughly immersed when I make a record, so much so, that by the time I complete it, I am so sick of it and its vision, I have to move on—usually to something that is the polar opposite.
Follow up: When (if ever) do you sleep?
Believe it or not, I do, and through age and possibly now through vigorous exercise, I am not an insomniac anymore, kept awake by constant buzzing ideas. I can't sleep long, but I do actually sleep... haha.
What's the best new metal band you've heard? Best new industrial band? Best new ambient/noise band?
That's hard to answer, all of them. Mainly due to the classification aspect. Hmmmm, I am not even sure what 'industrial' is anymore or what it ever was, to be honest. Prurient has been my favorite 'new' 'noise' artist, but he has also been making music for some time. He could be termed 'industrial,' too, since I see industrial as noise-based music, not essentially rock music. Ambient, also, is endless in its definition. I used to think of ambient as 'beatless,' in a very Brian Eno sense, but people call my band Jesu 'ambient'!!! So I have no idea... again. 'Metal,' too. With metal, for a number of years, if it's new, it's generally black metal that I listen to... or, say, Meshuggah. I don't listen to much new metal, nor old metal, for that matter... haha. "New" to me would probably be defined by around the last two years, so ambient could be Taylor Deupree—not really new, again...hmmm.
The title track for your Seventh Heaven EP seems to be a new direction for Pale Sketcher. What's currently influencing the music you make under that moniker?
A lot of what I used to love about old-school 'electronica' and some of the new... again, a wide range: Aphex Twin, The Field, Oval, a lot of old drum & bass, early garage/grime, RZA, Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound, what I do with Jesu, Brian Eno.
Ever try your hand at drawing?
Drawing was my first choice of expression as a kid, before I turned to instruments. I'm fairly incapable now though, unfortunately. Should've pursued it.
What was it like playing in Napalm Death? Were those guys totally out of their heads?
Errrr, well, the version of Napalm Death I was a part of, the Scum LP 1985-86 period, is not the same guys that are in the band now. Additionally, we were all around 14-16 years old when we were Napalm Death, so we were all a little unhinged. I would say any young kid making that music and that age must have had problems... hahaha.
Make the gearheads weep. Tell us about your most coveted piece of equipment.
There's a few... hard to choose, but I love my TL Audio tube mixing desk. I also really love my Anamod ATS-1: It's a hardware analog tape simulator, and it emulates two-inch tapes. I use it on everything.
Your old collaborator, The Bug, just remixed "Seventh Heaven" for your EP. Any chance we can expect a Techno Animal reunion?
Yeah, he did that as his King Midas Sounds guise, which is actually three of them, not just him... No, there'll never be a T/A reunion. Kevin, quite rightly, never goes back. I, quite wrongly, sometimes do... haha.
Work with any good bands in the studio lately?
I only ever work with myself in the studio, currently—less arguments, more peace and quiet. I produce others without them being present. It's nice.
Of every song you've ever had a part in, which three do you hope to be remembered for most?
I've not made them yet. I hope one day I will. I hope one of the songs off the new Jesu album, Ascension, will be a strong contender for one of the three.
If you could spend the rest of your life doing anything outside of music, what would it be?
Trying to be able to make music, probably.
Ascension is out now on Caldo Verde.