Operating out of Huntington Beach, California and currently building a fan base within the larger LA scene Industrial Metal band Malfaktor is comprised of founding members Doug "Evosolution" Cheek and Larry "Orbasm" Orban III. Currently they are also joined by Sycophant, a local DJ adding a new dimension to the band's dark and sludgy sound. With one album completed, 2008's The Delay Of The Inevitable, they recently put together an album of remixes titled Remix/Relapse. As they continue to write and rehearse for an upcoming album and even a limited tour they were gracious enough to sit down with DTC for a chat regarding their own perspectives on what it's like for a relatively new and little-known act operating within a niche genre to gain a reputation and familiarity within the scene.
DTC: According to your "bio" the core members of the group rose from the ashes of a Progressive Metal outfit called Ritualistic Suicide. The sound of Malfaktor eschews any sort of overt instrumental proficiency in favor of sludgy, doom-inspired riffing and atmospheric electronics. What prompted such a drastic change of pace and do you ever consider working elements into your music that come across as purposefully skillful or even, dare I say it, "flashy?"
Orbasm: Well, Doug & I always kind of feel that working in smaller numbers is easier than working with an entire group of musicians, at least in the sense that your creativity towards something is a little more concentrated and less sacrificial to the cause of what you all want the music to sound like. Not to say that full bands won't work, it's just that when you have so many people trying to strive for one specific thing it's hard to maintain focus and get everyone creatively synchronized. We've found out, in a lot of ways, that some people just aren't as dedicated to making music either for themselves and/or for others as we are.
Sycophant: A true sign of progress and skill can be discovered in the technique by which the music is written. Every time I begin to write a new song I think about what I can do different to change the sound from the last songs. Sometimes this requires hours of exploring your options, browsing your music program features, learning styles from other musicians and learning to play new instruments. Put it all together, mess around with it a bit and you've got yourself a unique and professional sound that is always changing.
Evosolution: I think with Ritualistic Suicide came an inspired sound that was true to the whole band, at that point in time. Over a two to three year span though the inspiration for the music decayed as did the dedication of the other band members. Tim Miller (who was acquired late in Ritualistic Suicide and who also became a core member of Malfaktor until leaving the band, recently), Larry, and I saw a chance to leave the band to pursue another project and we did! Near the end of the Ritualistic Suicide days there became an urge to take the music to another level by adding another layer to the sound, another element to the chemistry. I came to the conclusion that a synthesizer could really "glue" the sounds together in a cohesive manner and most of the rest of the band didn't see it that way. Larry, Tim, and I, however, did see it that way and we began working on Malfaktor in mid-to-late 2005. Anyways, I think the big difference between the two bands is the dedication and that we are an Industrial band. I think there is an element to Malfaktor that is very reminiscent of Ritualistic Suicide, personally speaking.
DTC: What separates Malfaktor from other electronic acts that embrace heavy guitar and what aims do you seek that you feel haven't been adequately represented over the years from outfits that have come before you?
Orbasm: We love and appreciate the use of live instruments in a lot of different ways so coming from our backgrounds of tons of heavy rock and metal bands, distorted guitar is a necessary sound of choice for us. We also appreciate electronics in music to a high degree and feel like computers, keyboards and ways to build sounds from scratch are always evolving. We feel like there are no limits to what we can accomplish in music production. It's important to love and cherish the happier and brighter things in life but it would all mean nothing if it wasn't accomplished through suffering and working through hardened times. We like to remind people of the darker things in life so when little good things happen you can appreciate it more. Our stories and sounds are best achieved and expressed through dark and heavy music so we are all about combining evil-sounding elements from all different genres, such as (but definitely not limited to) death metal and industrial. We love horror and science fiction movies also, so we go about ways of story-telling in an excessive and dark manner. Anything with pure unfiltered emotions like anger or lust and heavy, over-driven guitar and bass sounds like our messed up version of heaven.
DTC: Would you say that it's important to you to have a fiercely individual identity which clearly differentiates you from other bands or are you more content to just make the music you want to make regardless of the inevitable comparisons which will ultimately be assigned?
Evosolution: I think what separates us from, at least, local electronic bands is that we're not afraid to take chances. We've been conditioned to think, as a society, not to take risks and to be kind to your neighbor and other cockamamie bullshit like that! I believe that we go outside of the box, take risks musically, and don't really care what the rest of the nearly dead genre think as they don't have much of a leg to stand on, it seems, due to the current lack of respect and professionalism in the current LA goth/industrial scene. I now know why a lot of people claim that the scene is dead as the people involved with keeping it alive, like the clubs and DJs, don't care enough about the bands to pay them for shows or promote them the proper way. We have no choice, really, to make the music we want to make as it really doesn't pay to sound like everybody else.
Sycophant: Our sound is different due to each band member's combination of style and interests. When musicians get together to jam you also get an interesting combination of equipment involved in the recording/writing that can define your sound even more. Unfortunately, we haven't been taken care of enough through many of the clubs or venues that want us to perform. I understand as a musician you must make some sacrifice and do some free shows to get your name out but we have grown so much as a band and are earning our way to the top. This respect isn't earned all at once but it has been accumulated over the years of representing our band. One of our goals is to put together an "in your face" album, full of emotion and electricity that is also professionally mixed down into a masterpiece and I believe people are starting to see that.
DTC: So then is it more important to just enjoy what you do or should one always strive to further a style of music and its capacity for artistic expression?
Sycophant: It's extremely important to enjoy the work that you create and to try to progress in the form of stylistic changes as well. As a musician it is also important for having a respect for many styles of music to influence your sound even more.
Evosolution: Our music will continue to evolve due to our individual influences/tastes in music and our ever-growing lust to make heavy, dark music!
DTC: The vocal style you employ is a little harsher than many bands with a similar sound. Do you ever get any negative reaction from prospective fans who state they would like the music more with cleaner vocals?
Orbasm: I think I've heard a little negative reaction to that but, honestly, the singing style says a lot about what he's trying to convey. It's all opinion though. Just because a woman sings opera beautifully to some it definitely doesn't mean I'm going to buy any of her music! Ha ha, it's all about how you personally conceive it. I think we're going to have lyrics in our album liners so if anyone is really somehow completely unsure of what he's trying to say at times they'll be able to figure it out one way or another. Just because someone sings in a little harsher way and screams doesn't mean that what is being said in unimportant. It's normally quite the opposite.
Sycophant: I actually have had some negative responses from people about the screaming in our music but we write our music as we see fit. Eventually we may incorporate some cleaner vocals. We have discussed it and with our habits of experimenting with our music it may be added to our sound in the future.
DTC: Is there a conscious effort to keep from sounding vocally like a Harsh EBM act or even a Black Metal band?
Sycophant: There is an effort to sound different vocally but sometimes the heavy screaming is a perfect representation of anger and feeling in a song.
Evosolution: I sing the music the way I digest it, emotionally. It just brings out the hatred and demons in me...can't really be described in any other way. I almost feel possessed by them when I sing a song like "Sarcophagus." If someone wants more clean, melodic-sounding shit then go and listen to Pop music, you know?! I sing the way I sing because I fuckin' want to sing that way. However, there is some newer material on the new album that one might consider more "melodic" in nature.
DTC: Can you paint a time line of your musical tastes over the years? What types of bands inspired your choice to pursue music and how did your preferences evolve as time went on?
Orbasm: For myself, I grew up listening to rock and techno on the radio very early on because my mom and dad never restrained me musically in any way. I ended up really liking Deftones, AC/DC, Beastie Boys, and The Prodigy for a long time. The more I listened to rock the types of bands I listened to kept getting darker, faster and heavier over the years; like from White Zombie and System Of A Down into Dimmu Borgir and Meshuggah. It led me into a sort of Gothic phase, too, at times. So during all that I loved Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails and Alien Sex Fiend kind of stuff as well. My tastes are pretty scattered throughout the years of my musically-interested life but I've always had cravings for deep and dancey electronic music like Crystal Method, The Prodigy, Dieselboy, and Technical Itch. It took awhile but when I found out that there was such things as dark electronic music like Industrial and EBM it instantly won me over, with groups like Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, Nitzer Ebb, and Front 242. What my favorite was and still is in many ways though was my love for Industrial or electronic music that implemented live guitars like Ministry, KMFDM, and Nine Inch Nails. It's especially great when people that used to be into more live metal bands form more electronic elements with it to create amazing groups like Godflesh, Bile, Static-X and Fear Factory.
Sycophant: There are many bands that inspired our music, including Skinny Puppy, NIN, Apop, Wumpscut, Marilyn Manson, SITD, Razed In Black, Suicide Commando, 2raumwohnung, Funker Vogt, The Birthday Massacre...just to name a few of my influences. I've come to realize many people can write good music and totally suck on stage. I have come to realize that stage appearance is just as important as the quality of the music, which is why we are beginning to invest in the appearance side of the show. There were two shows that really stick in my mind as great performances, Pigface and The Impotent Sea Snakes. Those bands had immaculate stage performances with their talented stage crew and lighting effects. I grew up with grunge music, rock, punk and some classic popular music. During high school I started getting into electronic music and dancey stuff and that's when I began to write music with computer programs like Fruity Loops and Sonar. I later discovered Reason and Cubase and refined my music skills in a more Industrial fashion.
Evosolution: I am inspired by older rocks bands such as The Doors, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and more recent rock/metal bands like Ozzy, Black Label Society and Pantera. As far as direct inspiration for Malfaktor my favorite bands to listen to would be Tool, Meshuggah, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Swans, Revolting Cocks, Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills and countless others. I think our music is a throwback to a lot of those artists but mostly to older Industrial music. Not naming any names but I am not really a fan of newer Industrial music as it doesn't really do much for me. All I hear is repetitive themes and the same techno/disco beats. Makes me sick, actually!
DTC: Are there any specific acts people would be surprised to learn were an inspiration to you?
Orbasm: I do love to relax away from all the harshness while listening to classical music (Beethoven & Mozart), trip-hop (Massive Attack & Portishead) and reggae/dub (Bob Marley & Black Uhuru are awesome).
DTC: What compels you to create music at a time when there seems to be a glut of acts out there vying for the money and attention of music fans?
Orbasm: We make a lot of things for ourselves to exorcise our own demons but we try to do it in a fashion that will hopefully connect with others. We welcome anyone to feast upon the things we create. We're here to tell our stories. We won't spoon-feed you but you can take away and listen to anything you'd like from what we've done.
Sycophant: For a musician there is always a need to write music. There is not a day that passes where I'm not thinking of music. It's like an addiction.
DTC: Then how do you go about rising above the fray and getting noticed in the current market?
Sycophant: We will rise above as our skills and experience develop in the passing years.
DTC: But do you ever feel a sense of futility in trying to get noticed and appreciated for what you do?
Orbasm: Even though there has been a flood of new groups and bands in this more digital age we still know and believe that it takes skill but mostly massive dedication to stay on the top of the waves of constantly new music and surprisingly there are not as many people out there who are nearly as dedicated to getting ourselves there as us.
DTC: Do you think that the wide variety of social networking sites are an enormous help in regard to promotion? Besides those outlets what other areas have proven indispensable when it comes to getting the word out about Malfaktor?
Orbasm: We like creating new and innovative things that no one has heard yet so we love that people are interested and as long we have the internet it becomes a lot easier to find and seek out the people that want to hear more of us. Music and social networking sites like MySpace, FaceBook, SoundCloud, iTunes, Amazon and YouTube help us reach out to people so much easier. We couldn't be here continuing to grow without giving credit to those sites.
Sycophant: This is a good question for Doug because he is a networking master.
Evosolution: Thanks, Matt! I really just took it upon myself to "network" as much as humanly possible. I think this is because I suffer from insomnia, plus my most active times are between 10PM and 5AM. I don't do any drugs, as I have been like this since I was around 12 years old. I must say though I use this time up late to really get some hardcore work done for the band and so far it has paid off! I actually like working late into the night as it is quiet, calming and a perfect environment for me compared to the hectic, busy daytime hours that I work and try to have a normal family life. Very demanding and complex getting schedules to not clash but I am, as Matt said, a "master" at making it work for me as it is essential for any band. I don't think most bands put a lot of time into networking, as much as they should, anyways. I've booked all of our past shows from online sources, for instance! It's very important to me and I will gladly keep carrying that "torch," so to speak!
DTC: You've had a number of people pass through your lineup over the last couple years. What factors (faktors?) contribute to maintaining a solid working relationship with fellow band mates and what lessons have you learned in bringing new people into the fold?
Orbasm: We've definitely learned a lot through the people we've worked and made music with but I think one of the biggest things is that even though someone can be extremely talented as a musician you still have to learn to focus your skills and intent for a greater good. There are a ton of great musicians out there but not a lot of them have much ambition or dedication in wanting to make serious use of their talent. You can be the best guitar player in the world but if you can't take the time to steadily work and aspire for your goals you'll never get anywhere with your potential.
The reason our band is a sort of "revolving door" at times is because we know not everyone will be in it for the long haul. So, we then hire people that can still want to give their talent or creative input, even if their time-frame is not long-term. We get people that understand that we're all out here to help each other create better music than the filth the radio has been playing lately. There are not too many restrictions we have for each other except that if you aren't ready to dedicate yourself entirely to making extreme and sonic sounds then you aren't ready to play with us.
DTC: So how has the dynamic between Doug and Larry remained strong throughout the history of the act and what has been the metaphorical glue which has kept you together?
Orbasm: Doug & I both understand that skill isn't acquired overnight and getting your messages out there isn't easy. We both love when we can utilize the fullest potential of our talents from each other and from fellow musicians. Doug & I are good friends that just have a lot of the same interests and we both pursue music as a professional career and as a life-long interest in making interesting sonic sounds!
Evosolution: People can come and go in bands but, like Larry mentioned, he and I have a strong friendship that bleeds itself into the music we make. Unlike a lot of past band members Larry and I see potential in each other and that is the main reason this band has survived through the passing of so many members. I just love the guy...who wouldn't?! Like story; when we acquired Sycophant, Matt quickly bonded with the band as his other band, No Last Resort, was dissolving. His solo project, Sycophant, hadn't seen much light in a year or so and he saw an opportunity to join Malfaktor, as live support at first then as a full-time member later on. We'd known Matt since Malfaktor first began and we liked his Sycophant music so it wasn't really a big deliberation between Larry and I whether he was fit for the job as it came naturally to him. I must say that I really like the chemistry between the band right now!
DTC: How do you view your own local scene in relation to others within the country and even the world and is there a lot of support for newer acts from what you've witnessed?
Sycophant: Our scene seems to be very basic when it comes to live performances. It's unfortunate for many bands that there are so many people that would rather dance to a DJ than see a live band every now and then. I have seen a good amount of people that attend the shows for the band depending on location and what day of the week it is. In our current economic situation we are lucky to have so many fans!
DTC: Is that what you generally find that the scene is lacking; support for local performing bands? Is there anything else that you feel might give it a boost?
Evosolution: I think a lot of bands these days, in any genre, are feeling the strain of the economy. So, in turn, less people are buying anything material, including CDs, band t-shirts or even concert tickets. I really haven't seen much of an impact on us as we are fairly new to "merchandising" but I have seen a degradation locally in people attending shows. It's unfortunate and I hope this doesn't become the downfall of live performances. As far as our scene, like I mentioned before it's more or less dead as there are really only a few bands that hold it together, most of which originate outside of Los Angeles. Support for newer acts can vary from band to band but I don't go "clubbing" anymore so I'm not key on what's hot and what's not.
DTC: Are there any key players within the scene, in your own estimation, that provide the necessary platforms or even springboards for which you are ever grateful?
Evosolution: I think we've gotten where we are at on our own, no disrespect to any band that we've ever played with but we have paid our dues and have marketed our band without anyone else's help but our own. If anyone is to thank I would have to thank the people that we've interviewed with...thanks!
DTC: How do you approach the live performance? Is there any theatricality to what you do or is there more of a reliance on just reproducing the sounds adequately?
Orbasm: It's all trial and error. You have to get a lot of people to listen to your music to find out which ones are there to care about it so we love playing our music live because when you find the people that do care it's an incredible connection. Like I've said we love horror and sci-fi movies and I personally love comics, so we obviously enjoy getting theatrical with our performance. I feel like it's important to try to make the songs from the album sound even better when played live because people are actually taking time out of their lives to come out and see you perform so we like to put on as much of a show as possible! I love when groups have played certain songs so much that they add-on and change how they play it so, when it's done live, it's different and fresh.
Evosolution: I think the live performance of any band is where the focus needs to be directed. Sure, having a great album is a win for any band but being able to duplicate that recorded sound or emotion can be difficult to accomplish. I believe our live sound is a lot better than our recordings, which involve several takes until it is done right. A live performance, however, is only attempted once a night so it needs to be done right in order to be successful. We have put all of our energy and focus into our live show and I don't think many of our fans, that have been fortunate to have seen us live, can argue that.
DTC: Given unlimited resources what would you like to pull off on stage?
Orbasm: If it was up to me every show would have a theme, so we'd be matching villains or henchmen from a movie or comic with a massive movie backdrop right behind us, playing different abstract clips of Giger and Dali art...ha ha! It would emphasize our name a bit, Malfaktor, which essentially means "evil doer" or "bad guy." I like our name because even people with good morals and dreams can still be considered villainous or insane by others in a certain perspective.
Sycophant: It would be nice to have a performance that was flawless, but, for a struggling band, you tend to run into issues every once in a while. I have noticed that many venues have horrible sound setups or inexperienced sound guys. If we had the opportunity, it would be nice to upgrade our live gear, like mixing boards or EQs, and possibly add a sonic maximizer.
Evosolution: I'd add more visual effects such as lighting and fog, etc. and live projections via a video projector. I am currently in the process of acquiring these necessities, as I see them fit, so they will eventually make their way into our live show.
DTC: Do you foresee being able to make any money through the band? Is trying to establish a living through music a reasonable goal anymore or are you more content to just have the opportunity to create and play music you enjoy?
Sycophant: Money is always an issue with bands. Equipment is expensive and wages are low. Any chance we get we try to upgrade our gear. Making money is difficult for bands due to the cheap, money-hungry venue owners who don't like to pay the bands they book. It has been an issue on some occasions but there have been a good amount of people willing to pay for a band's talent. The more important thing is having to opportunity to create the music you love and work with people with similar interests.
Evosolution: We make some money through our merchandising and digital track/album sales but it is not nearly enough to cover the costs rendered through the music-making process. After getting our first album, The Delay of the Inevitable, arranged, getting it mixed then mastered, paying someone to do the album artwork and then finally having the album pressed it can add up to a lot of fuckin' money! It is definitely not cheap, by any means, but it is essential and worth it when you get back the final product! I don't regret anything I've done except not doing it enough.
DTC: How do you currently juggle employment at a day (or night) job with band matters and responsibilities?
Sycophant: When shows are booked, we all try really hard to fit everything in our schedule. Sometimes our jobs give us a bit of trouble when requesting time off but they can understand certain situations with proper notice.
Evosolution: I have a lot of priorities including my family and "day job" so it's not always easy and there are plenty of clashes between all of the above but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love my life and what I do and I know we'll be doing this for a long time.
DTC: What sort of gear are you using to create Malfaktor's sound?
Orbasm: We use a computer program called Reason by Propellerheads to create most of our electronic elements in Malfaktor. It is an extraordinary tool for making sounds and music from digital scratch. It has helped us for years now and I also use it for my solo project, Orbasm. I love, but am definitely not limited to, Ibanez and Schecter bass guitars with protection by my Coffin Case shell. For my bass set-up I use Galien-Krueger amps and a kick-ass multi-effects pedal by Line 6. I love live synths so we've invested in Korg keyboards. Right now we own a lovely R6 model synth and a mini-Korg.
Sycophant: Reason 4, Cubase SX3, Oxygen, Micro-Korg, ES1 and ERMKII, Sound Audigy ZX2, Behringer power speaker and mixing boards, Digitech FX, JBL speakers, Shure mics, Moogami cables...
DTC: With the remix album you have allowed other artists to reinterpret your works. When you listen to what someone else does to a song you put together what sorts of feelings does that elicit? Does it serve to expand your own repertoire of ideas?
Orbasm: I have always loved remixes and remix albums, in general, because I love hearing the different interpretations of songs that I love. I find it fascinating that someone can stay within the boundary of the song while changing the mood or bringing out certain sounds that originally weren't as noticeable as on the original version.
Sycophant: It's great to hear what other people can do with your work. It's inspiring and educational.
Evosolution: With Remix/Relapse, I didn't know initially what to expect. During the final phases of The Delay Of The Inevitable up until its release I came up with the idea to make a remix album. We all agreed that it sounded worth doing but through my networking I really got the artists together and even had to pay some of them! It was worth every penny and the final product was really an accomplishment! I actually held a "Create the Cover" contest with our fans and it really turned out to be a success!
DTC: Have you ever thought that an element, which was included in the remix, should have been something you thought of yourself when initially writing the song? How much of a competitive spirit, if any, arises from such collaborations? Ever get jealous over a peer's skills?
Orbasm: Even though I personally remixed "The Dethroner" as Orbasm there was definitely no feeling of jealousy or wanting to have the coolest remix on the album as I'm extremely open to others wanting to collaborate or mixing up their own versions of our songs. It is just really cool hearing songs of ours portrayed under a completely different light. I felt like certain emotions were even more brought out in the remixes and just about all of them were a lot more dramatic, in a good way. It was really surprising that when, after all the remixes were sent in by completely different artists, the entire tone of the album was kept intact! Also, all of the songs flowed nicely together in the order they were arranged on the album.
Evosolution: I am very competitive in nature as I played sports my whole life up until a few years ago but we really had fun with this album so there really was no, "Wow, I wish we would have done that," or "Damn, their version sucks more than the original"! I loved every remix and we're still getting more back! I wouldn't be surprised if they turned up as singles or if a B-Sides type album popped up out of it!
DTC: What are your plans for the next album? Will you be heading in any bold new directions or are you merely refining your existing sound?
Orbasm: We're going in directions we haven't before and we couldn't stay the same if we tried! We're all always open to breaking new ground musically. We have re-worked a few songs that are older and didn't get any use in our old band, Ritualistic Suicide, or even on the previous album, The Delay of the Inevitable. For the most part though, most of it is pretty fresh. We like being as deep, melodic and dark as humanly possible. I think we're conveying that in a much clearer way this time around.
Evosolution: On the upcoming album we are really focusing on where we are now, musically. The last album seems like it was done so long ago that how couldn't our sound change?! I like the new material we've created so far and I look forward to getting to the recording phase as we're currently just barely beginning to rehearse it. I think it sounds more progressive, in that it kind of centers around a theme and the mood of the tracks feels similar, like they are all woven together...have a sort of a pattern. Although there is this kind of "pattern" or "rhythm" to them they all sound, individually, as different as possible! It's weird how it all works but I think our fans will see the indirect similarities within the tracks.
DTC: Has there been any interest shown by labels or imprints?
Evosolution: I feel they haven't given us a chance as we are not a "run-of-the-mill" Industrial band and that is fine with me. I don't want to sound like a cloned replicate of the last band that had any success...makes me sick just thinking about it!
DTC: What would you say to a prospective listener who might read a description of your sound and dismiss you immediately? How might you go about entreating someone to give you an honest shot at impressing them bearing in mind the "been there, heard that," mentality on which many music admirers seem to be falling back?
Orbasm: We are dark, heavy, mechanical and dramatic but danceable so if any of that sounds appealing in any way, check us the fuck out!
Evosolution: If you want music that is from the heart but is also brutal and dark then please check out Malfaktor. If you want pretty, pedigreed-looking faces and hair then check out emo or pop music.
DTC: To what are you most looking forward in regard to your big CD release show on January 27th at Club Hell? What does Malfaktor have in store for the unsuspecting denizens who descend on the club that night? And what can you say about the new CD which might pique everyone's interest?
Sycophant: It's a secret... shhh! But, I will say the new CD, having songs with a Sycophant influence, adds a nice touch and you must check it out.
Evosolution: The Club Hell show on January 27, 2010 has actually been canceled due to unforeseen ongoing construction at the Ivar but it will be rescheduled so keep checking back on any of our Malfaktor pages and please keep your eyes glued to our band as we will unleash our new album sometime in mid-late 2010! It will blow out your eardrums with its pulsing bass and seduce your clothes off so stay up-to-date with Malfaktor at these fine profile websites: