Us & Them Articles

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Article #1:

From: Metal Hammer Magazine (July 1999)
Submitted by: Kev Chan

Peeling Back the Flesh

The Birmingham duo of Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green were pioneers of the industrial sound, using brutal guitars combined with loops and beats. Their style has had a significant influence on many bands, with Fear Factory being one of their biggest fans. Pete Gabler talks to Justin about Us And Them and what makes the frontman tick.

Pete Gabler:
Tell me about growing up in Birmingham. How did it affect the music you went on to make?

I was brought up in a really depressing council estate. My mother and father split up when I was about one year old due to too much drugs - my dad was a heroin addict so my mum promptly got rid of him because he was totally fucked up in the head. He was a bass player but was incapable of playing the bass because of heroin.

So my mother and stepfather brought me up. They had a band, and she was a bass player and my stepfather was a guitarist, and he taught me how to play the guitar. So even though we lived in a really shitty neighbourhood, the music transcended my environment. It was like a release. I wanted to emulate all my favourite punk bands. That's basically how I got in Napalm Death. I bumped into Nick Bullen (sic) at a record shop and he was into Discharge and Crass, and we got talking. It was like, 'Well, I play guitar,' and he was like, 'Well, I've got this band.' I just sort of hooked up with him there, and then somehow ended up in the band."

Why did you feel the need to move on from Napalm Death?

We'd been doing it for about a year-and-a-half already before Scum, and I joined a band called Head Of David. I'd got tired of the speed thing really quickly, the novelty wore of really fast. And also the fighting in the band was getting a little too much. We'd be in the rehearsal room, and halfway through Mick [Harris] would just jump off the drum kit and him and Nick would be rolling on the floor! And I wasn't involved in any of this - I come from a really nasty, rough area but I wasn't the sort of kid who was out on the street with a knife - I was more the guy who would sit locked in his bedroom listening to music."

When did you meet G. C. Green?

About a year before doing Scum. Because I was in such a shit area, if you saw anyone who look remotely like they were into decent music, you talked to them. That's how I got talking to G.C. Green and Paul Neville, who was on the Streetcleaner and Slavestate albums, and this other guy called Dermot Dalton, who plays live with Godflesh. I was looking at the Stranglers T-shirts they were wearing and I only knew about two people at school who liked music. The rest were just thugs. It just went from there.

When you listen to earlier releases like Godflesh and Streetcleaner, how do you feel? Do you think they still hold up now?

Yeah. I mean, our influences were quite obvious at the time and I've never made any pretence about who I was influenced by, because I was heavily influenced by Swans, early Black Sabbath and Killing Joke, and you can really hear that in the first two albums. But I still think we did something different - we were basically a tad more metal than these bands, and we were still using machines. They stand up as a document of what was possible during the late '80s, in terms of something that was different, brutal and abstract.

Did the Songs Of Love And Hate album reflect your feelings at the time, particularly about the ending of the Columbia deal?

Yeah. A lot of that spite and shit from Columbia deal and everything really came into play on Songs Of Love And Hate. I think that Love And Hate In Dub is a better record than Songs Of Love And Hate anyway.

Did you have any inkling before you recorded Songs Of Love And Hate that you were going to do a remix album or did that just happen after the recording?

The seed was really planted, really. Just for our own amusement, we were fucking around with the mixes, we were seeing how far we could go with different mixes, and it seemed really attractive. I remember saying to G.C. Green that we should do something with this, and I love remix culture anyway, but there's a lot of tokenism with dance remixes that's quite horrible. That's why we do it ourselves because we have a vision of what we want to achieve, instead of having to draft in other people to give us a vision.

For a lot of people Love And Hate In Dub totally surpasses Songs Of Love And Hate.

Yeah, I agree with them. I mean, that was how I felt myself, I really did. Songs Of Love And Hate appears flat in comparison now. There was just a lack of dynamic, but this dynamic was heightened on Love And Hate In Dub. There were so many faces to Godflesh on that album. That really excited me and really influenced this album. But I think we could have gone even further with it. That's why we are going to do Us And Them In Dub, because we just can't resist the idea. Songs Of Love And Hate to us is now flat, and Love And Hate In Dub took it further...well, Love And Hate inspired this album so if we do a dub version of this album, then surely we can go 10 steps further.

How do you feel about bands like Fear Factory taking stuff you did years ago and bringing it to a commercial audience? Don't you feel disappointed that you haven't achieved that level of success?

Yeah, I mean initially I was. Many years ago, when a lot of bands started doing this, I was really bitter and in fact I started to see my bitterness from the outset and started to think, 'Shit, I'm going to get swallowed up by this.' I could see myself literally being consumed by bitterness, and I had to just resign myself to it. And then I met a lot of people from these bands and realized that they're really nice people as well. We get on with them and it's great.

The first time I met Burton from Fear Factory he was just a huge fan, really complimentary. It's like, 'Well, you took some of our sound, you're a big band, but you're still a fucking fan.' And I knew that Godflesh is totally incapable of bringing our music to a larger audience unless we start wanting this sort of shit. Perhaps it will happen, because at least some barriers are broken down now, so maybe people will start to get it. But we are essentially very uncompromising - we'll never do anything just to make a buck or sell a record, so I guess we'll always follow our hearts and our instincts to the maximum and that's it. So I recognize the fact that we just won't be what these bands are. Good luck to them. They took elements of our sound and they can bridge a gap that we can't. I guess I've just got to resign myself to it really. It's funny really because a lot of people in big bands will sing our praises, but it's never transferred into sales. I mean, we can be comfortable off it, and I can sustain a living off it just about, but obviously you look at bands that have taken a bit of what you do and they're loaded! (laughs). It's a good job I'm not really eaten up with it - I could've eaten up to fuck with it years ago.

Where does Godflesh go now?

I think it's going to become, for want of a better word, abstract, but not abstract in some avant garde sense, but just fresh. I think this album's really touching on places we can go, and I just want to go further than what this album's touching on. I've actually got your review for Us and Them here, because like I said I'm obsessed with criticisms, whether they're positive or negative.

Er... I think I was fair about it. Wasn't I?

Yeah. A lot of people have said to me, 'Have you seen the Metal Hammer review?', they've been saying it's a fair fucking review, and it's a good-looking review. You've got a lot of fair points there.

To me, you're pretty much on the nail, because a lot of the things you've said are questions I've had about the record anyway, and like I said, I never think any of our records are the bomb anyway. I reckon if I did think, 'This is 110 percent killer,' I'd probably stop making the music.

Have you started on the dub version of the record yet?

I'm just accumulating ideas. I wish we could start in the summer but we're going to be doing a lot of touring for the record. But even last night I was kept awake by fucking ideas. It was getting frustrating actually, because I would love to start it now. But I want to be really fresh with it.

You'll probably prefer the Us And Them In Dub album, because the stuff you like will be magnified, and I think a lot of the songs that are probably still where the older sound was are going to move into completely fresh areas. I'm starting to lose all limitations of what I thought Godflesh should be. Our albums are never perfect, because there are some songs that just bomb, and some tracks that just stay at square one, and those are the tracks that I do, in time, want to eradicate. I really want everything to be that fresh and I think we can go that far on Us And Them In Dub. We'll just keep pushing it. I still don't think there's anyone like us and I really think we can still make an impact.

Article #2:

From: Bent Crayon

Hardly an article, nor a review...more like a blurb

Us and Them takes the Godflesh sound further into the beat driven rock stratosphere, injecting the darkest end of dance culture into its cold, rigid base. Ranging from the snarled bludgeon of Defiled through the beat blasted I, Me, Mine to the somber The Internal, the album maintans a fragile balance between loathing and melancholy and provides a truly compelling, memorable aural experience.

Article #3:

From: Metal Hammer, February 1999

"It took me a month before I could talk about this album objectively, because I was that immersed in the project. It's also about 65 minutes long so it's an effort to sit through it!

This has been the most difficult LP of our careers. Previously we've been too deliberately self conscious; solely concentrating on making Godflesh sounds. This time we're taking onboard what is happening around us musically.

We've taken from the deepest end of the underground dance culture and put it into the base of what we do. Godflesh will always have those crushing guitars in the mix but this time we've written what I'm tempted to call 'proper' rock songs over the top of the beats. I think 'Frail' and 'Black Boned Angel' showed the way we've improved upon it. In the past we've always been proud that a Godflesh song flows at its own pace, but this time the tracks hit their peak a lot quicker. My favourite is the opening track, 'I, Me, Mine' - in true rock fashion we've shot our load in the first round."

Article #4:

From: Earache

Nihilism and pessimism seem to follow Godflesh like a morose deathbag - every album, whilst musically different, comes shrouded in an aura of disenchantment and bleakness, fuelled by bile and loathing. From the cover artwork to the song titles, it's clear that Godflesh are not interested in making comfortable listening experiences. With a title of Us and Them, the new Godflesh album is not going to change that. Tracks named as bluntly as 'Defiled,' 'Live to Lose' and 'Witchunt' leave little room for doubt about the content and subject matter. It's just as well then, that through all this density and sombreness, Godflesh manage to consistently create intriguing albums.

Godflesh's influence on the modern-day heavy music scene is well documented. Though not solely responsible, the Birmingham based duo (Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green) were among the first to introduce a distinctive 'industrial' sound through harsh guitar toning and the use of loops and beats. Godflesh pre-date the current trend for 'techno influenced rock' (popularised by Marilyn Manson) by several years. With experimentation now acceptable and even demanded, the challenge for Godflesh is to find new ways of combining sounds and ideas - one listen to the immense wall of sound that comprises 'Us and Them' is enough to show that when it comes to innovation, the band are still light years ahead.

Whereas Godflesh returned to a heavily guitar based sound with 'Songs of Love and Hate,' the subsequent remix effort 'Love and Hate in Dub' became arguablymore of a favourite over time, as it re-worked the songs in a more free form way that allowed them more depth and subtlety. Continuing that trend, 'Us and Them' relies largely on a huge beat-driven feel that initially feels quite overbearing. Subsequent spins reveal that the approach gives Godflesh more versatility and freedom to punch home their bleak messages. As Broadrick comments, the band have looked to broaden their horizons still further: "We've taken the deepest end of underground dance culture and put it into the base of what we do. Godflesh will always have those crushing guitars in the mix but this time we have deliberately written what I'm tempted to call 'proper' rock songs.'

The material ranges from the snarled bludgeon of 'Defiled' through the beat-blasted 'I, Me, Mine' to the balladesque 'The Internal.' Mass appeal isn't on the agenda though - Godflesh remain determinedly obscure and hermit-like, making infrequent live appearances, seemingly content to leave their sour outlook available on a 'take it or leave it' basis. At the end of the day, you either get Godflesh or you don't, but to simply dismiss it on account of its unconventional nature would be wrong. Godflesh probably don't give a fuck either way - they have more pressing things on their minds.

Article #5:

From: Earache

Birmingham duo Godflesh have completed work on their new album, titled 'Us and Them.' Recorded at Avalanche Studios, the album sees Godflesh experimenting further with the heavy beat driven direction that characterised the band's last effort 'Love and Hate in Dub.' The Godflesh tradition of old - harsh vocals, caustic guitars, hard beats - are given a denser, bleaker treatment this time around, as Godflesh experiment further than ever before with the concept of the beat-driven rock song. The full tracklisting for Us and Them, scheduled for a May 17 (UK) release date, is as follows:

  1. I, Me, Mine
  2. Us and Them
  3. Endgames
  4. Witchunt
  5. Whose Truth is Your Truth?
  6. Defiled
  7. Bittersweet
  8. Nail
  9. Descent
  10. Controlfreak
  11. The Internal
  12. Live to Lose

Messers. Broadrick and Green will hit the road for a full European tour upon the album's release, details of which will be announced soon.

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