Litany Interview::: Bill Van Rooy (Download & The Tear Garden)
Posted 12/13/2000

Scott::: I think the biggest question out there, for those who don't already know you, is who the heck are you? what's your background?

Scott::: Regarding Download's 'Effector,' what was your contributions to the songs 'ego dissolve' and 'ayahuasca'?

    Bill Van Rooy::: Well, nitpicking who did what on which song can get a little iffy, every track is, more or less, a group effort.

    But uhhhh....

    My contribution to 'ego disolve' was the chain reactiony synth intro and some synth bass work. There was a bunch more I wanted to do on it but I worked on it right as I was heading off to London, and by the time I got back the track was done. Its a damn fine song, an almost free form jazz drum beat made heavy and doused with ethereal ambience. Its one of those songs that, to me, demonstrates just how well kevin and phil play off each other musically.

    As for 'Ayahuasca', I kinda birthed that one, I did the base tracks, and arranged a kind of skeleton, the basic rhythm and the hand percussion that comes in half way through, etc. Kev and Phil defintiely took it to a place that blew me away.

Scott:: ...and what exactly does 'hand percussion' mean? i'm referring to your contribution on The Tear Garden track 'Castaway' from the new album 'Crystal Mass.'

    Bill Van Rooy::: Well, if you listen to Castaway, pay attention to the rhythm. You'll hear standard drums, but on top of that you'll hear a "ethnic" percussion part kind of hanging over it... that's me. Kevin snagged me and said "Bill, do some native percussion on this track"... (fwiw, I tried to go for a bit of a shag tobacco (gavin friday) type of feel, because thats what the bass in that track reminds me of.) It's programmed, not played by hand, so "hand percussion" _is_kind of misleading.

Scott::: What is it like working with cEvin Key and Phil Western, from a musicians point of view?

    Bill Van Rooy::: It's great, I'm constantly learning, growing, changing. Both Kev and Phil are very accomplished/experienced musicians, and being thrown into the middle of things so to speak, I've had to learn a whole lot really fast to keep from drowning.

    At first it was really wierd working with someone who was such an inspiration to me, I was afraid to make any comments or criticisms or change anything... but after a while I got a bit more confident, and I no longer feel like I'm working with cEvin and Philth of Download, it's more like I'm working with kev and phil, my friends. They're such amazing musicians, and very very easy to work with, so I've been able to adjust pretty quick.

    One thing I've learned is to be a lot more spontaneous in the creation process, whereas before I was very logic driven/methodical. I'd never touch the keyboard, everything I did would be programmed directly into the sequencer. Whereas now I'm more inclined to noodle around on the keyboard, play something and then fiddle with the MIDI data until I'm happy with it.

Scott::: I know you have your own band/project too. what are you working on now?

    Bill Van Rooy::: Robert, my music partner, and I have been working together for about 3 years or so, kind of working on tracks, re-working on tracks... But we never actually got anything recorded to our satisfaction. This past September we finally dropped the cash for a hard disk recording setup, complete with dual processor G4 (yay!), so we're in the process of fixing up and mixing our older tracks along with writing a few more tracks. We're now to the point where we're ready, as people and musicians, to start really focusing on getting some music released.

    The partnership is a wonderful give and take and a learning process for both of us. Robert comes from a totally different school of thought than I do, he's more interested in classically influenced music, creating movement and texture with melody rather than rhyhtm, whereas I approach music from a kind of esoteric point of view, thinking in terms of noise and rhythm and concept. That's not to say we don't overlap thoughts from time to time, tho. It makes for a nice brew, I think we tend to avoid the trap of cold emotionless music that so many electronic acts get stuck in. (at least I think/hope we do)

    The music we make ranges from very harsh/aggressive electronic (I'm hesitant to use the word "industrial" because of the connotations it brings) to very beautiful "intelligent pop", and everything in between. The Download/Puppy influence is probably apparent in my style, but I don't think we sound anything like them.

    Not to get too self important or overestimate our place in the world, but one of the things we're trying to do is side step the sterotype of gay artists being fluffy or campy. Lesbians are great at popping out serious artists into the pop music consciousness, but the gay male community keeps spitting out Ricki Martins and Backstreet Boys and Elton Johns, while its fun, its never really taken all that seriously. With the exception of Coil, who is relatively obscure/exceedingly uncommercial, I'm really hard pressed to name any serious gay musicians.

    I'd like to note, though, that I think our music transcends sexuality. We're a pair of musicians who happen to be gay, not a pair of gays who happen to be musicians.

    We (our tentative name is DMT, but I think some rap band already has the name so who knows) plan on releasing an album sometime in the near future, hopefully with the subconscious stamp on it. :)

    One of our most pressing projects at the moment is doing soundtrack work for performance artist Ron Athey, a friend of mine and a brilliant artist.

    We did some soundtrack work with him last year for a series of solo performances, which came out really well (I hope to have the music tacked on to the end of the first DMT album). The pieces were performed everywhere from France to London to LA (its a really cool feeling to know that music I've done has been so far reaching). His next piece is slated to be performed this coming January in Denmark, and I'm scrambling to get the music written/finished in time. Locking myself up in the studio until all hours of the night, trying to keep everything restrained, not going over the top. Our main way of working on stuff for Ron, since it needs to be way more noise based and less "music" based than anything else we do, is I get most of the basic tracks recorded and then Robert comes in and does his thing. Then from there we mold it into the final product.

    It's daunting, but with the new recording setup, its made a lot easier... it allows me to work more on impulse. Ron's work is very primal and emotional, ranging from harsh/brutal to beautiful. I guess some people might call "high art", and I really enjoy being able to be a part of that.

    My main goal, however, is really to just meet the Indigo Girls. :)

Scott::: any plans with cEvin or Phil on any future project?

    Bill Van Rooy::: Oh yeah, definitely. We've already been working on the 2nd album for metropolis now for um... well, a long time. And whenever the subconscious family tour goes down, I definitely hope to be a part of that. I want to get my grimy little fingers into as many projects as possible, get my name out there, get experience, learn, grow.... Balancing a day job and music is a pain in the ass tho, so I don't get to do as much work as I'd like.

    Posted on Litany