Plague Haus makes an appointment with the surgeons of sickness, L. Kerr & J. Stillings.
First of all, let me kick things off by saying thanks for agreeing to the interview. I think I’ve established the fact to you both what a gushing fanboy I am when it comes to your music. For the completely uninitiated, when did SHP first rear its ugly head?
L. Kerr: Steel Hook Prostheses came to be on a cold dark November night in 1999.
I know both of previously played in other bands/projects. What are you your musical backgrounds? I know for me SHP has elements of what I’d relate to extreme metal in the sound.
LK: We’ve known each other and have been best friends since 1988, we’ve shared a passion for music since day one. Being in the outskirts of South Dallas, our access to any music (mainstream or “underground”) was at the local record stores. Our exposure was limited, but we managed to enjoy it and found some classics. We then started taking cassettes and splicing different parts from different songs to make other songs. Then in 1991, we formed a hardcore/punk band called Steel Toe, which broke up after a couple of shows and a lost demo tape. We then parted ways by me leaving to serve in the military. While in the military, J. continued in the search of the perfect sound by playing in several local deathmetal/industrial bands, supporting such bands as Mortician, Dying Fetus, Pyrexia, and many others. When I returned in 1999, there was an opening the current band he was in and we resumed the journey once again. We then started playing around with different drum machines and keyboards and started creating a sound that would be our own. When first starting in the electronic music, we played with such acts as Savak, Zymosiz, Asche, Converter, and Morgenstern. The repetitive beats and rukkus didn’t last too long and the SHP sound was then born in 1999. On of our first shows performing as SHP was opening for Ah-Cama Sotz and Winterkalte.
Texas has produced a lot of great bands in many different genres, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like SHP. Do you think environment plays any part at all on your sound? Maybe the isolation of not being part of any big regional scene keeps you from being too influenced by others?
LK: I do think that the isolation and exposure to all of the local mainstream bullshit has kind of forced us, in a way to come up with this sound. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some amazing local different genre bands over the years that have been a definite influence, stuff like Stickmen With Rayguns, Rigor Mortis, Sedition, Pantera, and Willie Nelson. Over the years, we have discovered that there was one project that has similar sounds is Control Resistance. We were in contact with him a few years back, but over time, has drifted away.
Do you feel any special camaraderie with other TX bands or any that you consider above average allies?
LK: Yes, there are several comrades that we do consider above average allies. First, starting out locally is the band Awen. We have known Erin and co. for several years and will defiantly do more shows together in the future. Goat is another local act that is a close ally as well. As for other Texas bands that we’re above average with is Richard Ramirez/Black Leather Jesus/etc..etc.., T.E.F., Concrete Violin, Static Storm System, and Taint.
You’ve done collaborations with Richard Ramirez, Goat and Invercauld that I’m aware of. Is there anymore of those on the horizon or anyone you’d like to team up with?
LK: We have contributed sounds to a couple of Navicon Torture Technologies releases. And as far as collaborations have gone, there are a couple of remixes by Control and Azoikum on the SHP L.White release “Torturous Anxiety,” not really too much more in existence at the moment. There is a collaboration of myself and Erin of Awen that is currently festering and possibly on the verge of recording more. Also, there is a collaborative effort between myself and Marspiter/Transcendent Device that will be releases within the next month or so. There are also more collaborations with Invercauld and Rosemary Malign that are on the way as well.
J. Stillings: I am exited to announce that me and an old friend from the Metal days, Jaime Spears (former Torment Defined) will be putting together a project called Hades Infernum. The sound we are aiming at will be a serious effort to fuse black metal and PE/Death Industrial.
What in the fuck is up with all the medical atrocities connected to your sounds? Did either of you suffer some bizarre medical trauma at the hands of a sadistic nurse or are you maybe just expounding on something we all fear already and making it darker?
JS: I like to deal with subject matter that makes me nervous or uneasy. All of the above makes me feel weird so it keeps me on edge to write about shit like that.
Plus I spent a lot of time around the Dallas VA medical center in my formative years where my mother worked. I saw a lot of freaky shit around there that stuck with me for a long time.
Are there any bands that you would say influenced more than others? Any that made you say, “That’s what I want to do!”
LK: I’d say that our sound is heavily influenced by Ex.Order, Megaptera, and Brighter Death Now. There are many other projects that are influences, but those are definitely the ones that stand out.
JS: Yeah the influences are endless. Big fan of MZ412, Atrium Carceri, Archon Satani, Stratvm Terror etc…
Are either of you currently involved in anything outside of SHP?
LK: I’ve been working on my solo stuff (Habeeb) off an on and am currently in the process of starting it up again full force. I’ve got a couple of labels that have contacted me wanting me to do a release for them. I’ve got to get busy.
JS: I do solo work under the name Metaconqueror (Noisy Blackened ambient). Currently working on a release for Syzmic Records.
As of this interview, I believe your current discography can be seen atdiscogs.com/artist/Steel+Hook+Prostheses. Do you have anything coming up your working on?
LK: There is one early, early release that we did and a biz-card that we passed out but forgot to hold on to a copy. So if that will show up on Discogs. com, then I will be totally surprised. Soon, we will we working on another full length and we will also be working on a 2 disc release containing our 3 inch CDr releases plus other surprises.
JS: Yeah working on a new full length for Steinklang Industries from Germany.
You guys used to run the Cyber-Blast-Records label, correct? Is that over now? I seem to remember reading something about you starting a new one?
LK: You are correct. For the most part, it’s dead. There is one more release that I need to release on it before burying it… perhaps this fall, I will complete it and put it out of its misery. It has served it’s purpose. And yes, we have started up a new label called Clinical Records, our first release is Invercauld’s latest release called “Deamhan.”
Aren’t you doing some production work as well? Can you mention any releases you are or have worked on?
LK: I have been producing every Goat release since 2001. I’ve also mastered most of the Night Science III CD compilation. Other than that… nothing else really. I’ve assisted Blood Moon Asur (have known him for many years as well) of Dagon/Crimson Moon in recording some incredible keyboard tracks for submissions to be included in Crimson Moon, Leviathan, and Xasthur releases.
JS: I have been mastering a few releases for Malignant Records. So far I’ve done the Eidulon, Koerperwelten, Phragments and of course SHP. I’ve done a lot of work for individual artists as well, Rosemary Malign, Sewer Goddess, Xamul etc..
I’ve seen you guys play twice now and was completely blown away both times. How important is the live ritual to you and do you enjoy it or just consider it a necessary evil?
JS: We really don’t get out to do live shows too often these days. Maybe one or two a year. It’s fun I enjoy playing out in very limited quantities. Starting to get the itch again. But I prefer working in the studio. I’m a bit reclusive and hate being around people for the most part.
You played the Apex Fest II that Leech from Navicon Torture Tech put together last year in NYC. What was that like? Did two good ole boys from the Lone Star State fit into the filth? Did you yell “New York City!?!?” a lot like the picante sauce commercial?
LK: New York City was a trip. The Apex Fest II was amazing. Made a ton of new friends (Leech/NTT, Lina Baby Doll/Deutsch Nepal, Jane Elizabeth/Tesco USA, Travis Morgan/NCC Records, and many more) and had a great time. The experience in a whole what almost surreal. Everywhere you looked, there was someone walking or standing. Everywhere! The venue that we played at that the Pussycat Lounge. It was upstairs over a cabaret club sandwiched between a porno shop and a pizza joint. Down the street a couple of blocks away was the place where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Hard to imagine just how tall those things were. We were there for both nights, and during the day, we met up with Jason Manits (Malignant Records) and Butch Clough (Shadowgraph Records) to have a day of laughs, exploring and visiting the Hospital Productions store. Besides the smell of piss and garbage, I think that we fit in well.
Any upcoming tour or show plans?
LK: At the moment, there are no concrete plans. The next show so far, will be the Dead Audio Music Festival 3 which will happen (hopefully) in the near future.
JS: We will go to Europe for a few shows someday. We are shooting for 2010 to make it happen.
Is there anyone in particular you guys would love to do some shows with?
LK: I would love to do a show with either Megaptera or Brighter Death Now. I saw BDN play in Austin a few years back and they totally blew me away.
Would you say there’s any basic element to the SHP sound? Is there a certain technique you find yourself coming back to or a foundation you always start with?
LK: Stay sick.
Most of your stuff has that nice, dirty analogue vibe, a lot of morbid ambient tomes, but nothing that sounds like it came from some computer program. When I saw you guys live it was like be pummeled with this massive wall of sounds but looked like you had a minimum amount of equipment. Is that basically the way you record as well?
LK: Together, we’ve got a small arsenal of guitars, keyboards, samplers, effects racks and pedals, and regular and contact mics. When playing live, we like to keep the amount of equipment to a minimum. Less shit to tote around and lose.
Is there a particular place you draw inspiration from like old medical journals, movies or fucked up cell phone pics of half of some guys’ leg?
JS: Yeah man, all that shit. Freaks, tumors, deformities. BDSM movies, concentration camp footage, all of the darkest aspects of humanity.
HA! About the leg cell phone pic. Some friends of mine found a cut off leg on the shore of a lake near here. They sent me a picture taken with a cell phone. The first thing I asked her was “You fucking kept it right??” Crazy man! They called the cops. But indeed a lucky find!!
What about projects outside of music. Are either of you into painting, sculpting, sketching, writing, raping, pillaging or some other artistic outlet?
LK: We both have been artists more the greater part of our lives. For the past year, I’ve been tattooing and J., for the most part, has been my canvas. I also did the artwork for the last Hateplow release “Moshpit Murder,” which was released in 2004.
JS: I am a very busy metal sculptor. I do most of my work in the winter months due to the intense, hellish Texas heat we endure 6 months out of the year.
Anything you’re currently spinning (regardless of genre) that is worth plugging?
LK: Lately, I’ve been spinning Sepultura – Arise 2LP, Proiekt Hat LPs, Love and Rockets releases and some material by the Butthole Surfers.
JS: 1349, Emperor, Gorgoroth, Phragments, Atrium Carceri. Mostly Black Metal and Dark Ambient.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to answer a few questions. As always, the parting words are yours.
LK: Thank you for the opportunity and the support! See you again soon.
JS: Thanks Jeff