Among the pioneers of industrial, one of the legendary names that should not be missed, is Blackhouse.
We are talking about Brian Ladd, founder of Blackhouse, who since eighties has contributed greatly to the evolution of power electronics. Today we are pleased to ‘fill the pages’ of Last Day Deaf with a piece of high importance.
So Brian, thanking you very much for your time, I think we can let the ball roll…
Let’s get a bit back, in 2015, in Leipzig. After 31 years the world has had the good fortune to see you live. Tell us a little about that experience.
People have been asking for Blackhouse to play a live gig since I first started in the year 1984. Always I have refused, because I found it to be a useless, frightening & boring idea. Still, the requests came and I entertained (in my mind) the idea of perhaps playing live one day (always!!!), but the climate & conditions were never ever quite right. How could anyone offer me anything valuable to advance my musical career??? I mean, I had all the albums coming out & more planned… Why would I EVER play live??? (this is the setup). But…Several years ago, I was approached by a music festival called Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany. I told them… I assured them that I was definitely NOT a “goth’’ band. They didn’t care about that. I assured them that I absolutely had no intention of “performing” a “show”. That was OK with them. I told them that I would probably STINK! They said it’s OK…. People WANT that Blackhouse stench!!! And so on and so on. The banter went back & forth… eventually, they enticed me to take a look at their festival… so I investigated. IT’S HUGE! Oh my gosh! It’s H U G E! Like… GIGANTIC! It looked sooooooo gooooooood! (this is the lead-in). To me… I thought “this is the exact perfect thing I have been waiting for… for my first official Blackhouse gig”. (…delivery). And it was. I was very honored to partake in WGT 2015 – the biggest, baddest, coolest, raddest festival in the world for industrial, EBM, goth, experimental, electronic etc… ever. I am very blessed to have been asked to play such an event. I’m very lucky. And Proud. 100% top. WGT is THE BEST!!!! Not only had I never played an official Blackhouse gig before, but I’d never been to Germany before, so it was a fantastic experience for me to get back to a country which is so important to MY past – as I had a righteous German Grand-Mutti who I loved very dearly… and also because it’s GERMANY – a country which I respect and admire. It was a win-win situation. It was. And the gig was good and fun… and Dark Vinyl Records has released said gig on vinyl and cd. And it sounds good. I am very blessed. But you already know that. I told you.
And rightly to leave a lasting impression of this unique experience to posterity, comes a vinyl reissue. With the particularity of being able to listen to improvised material pregevole quality. How has this production impulsed?
I love your choice of words. (I don’t know what they mean, but…) How shall I proceed? Let me put it this way: When I accepted the honor of playing at WGT 2015, my task became clear. My goal & duty was to provide the audience with a TRUE BLACKHOUSE experience. There was only one shot at a FIRST GIG – right? So I decided to deliver the goods that people wanted… wanted to… receive. After 31 years and many albums, I had a good roster to choose from. So many albums & so many songs!!! So…Looking back: it was easy… Plus, I also ASKED my Facebook fans what songs they wanted me to play!!! It was easy to pick my main faces & the faces of my fans. Sure. Easy. Blam! And because of my playful nature – because of who I am – because of how my fans feel about me…. and because I am a PROFESSIONAL, I delivered the goods… (some classic BH songs) … Glued together with on-the-spot improvisation and audience interaction, which I absolutely LOVE!!! My goal was to create a unique experience… even for the diehard Blackhouse fan who has heard it all. Me. (?) So I did that. The audience enjoyed it, I enjoyed it… the gig is cemented permanently on vinyl and cd and…. I am happy. I can rest easy. It was good. Yesssssssssssssssss. I really lucked out. Imagine if I had stunk really bad, and I’d have to try and talk it all down & make excuses for it. Ugggggggg. I’m so lucky. Thank God it was a good gig!!!
So shall we be lucky enough to hear something new very soon?
SO lucky for you!!! There is a new LP album out! It’s called ‘Ignite Blackhouse Youth’, and it’s a clear vinyl LP record on the No Emb Blanc label from Germany! It’s chock full of groovy Blackhouse beats, rad samples, raps from Craig G (Juice Crew All Stars) and of course, the trademark vocal stylings. It’s good. Really. Really good. Really. Trust me. Good. And…I ALWAYS work on new material. At this point in time (Feb 2017), I have at least 2 full albums of material that I would love to have released. It will be. THEY will be released… once the World catches up to my ART. That’s the way it always is, you know. I feel like I am in a time warp. And I mean that. It’s all very odd. I’m at a point where… well… like… in 1991, there were people who just didn’t understand what I was doing with a release like ‘The Father, The Son & The Holy Ghost’. There’s a long tape-splice segment where it’s… all these sound effects… all these sounds. After it was released… The label – Antler-Subway (in Belgium) sent me all the feedback about the release… Playlists…questionnaires about the songs. NOBODY understood that sound effects segment. Nobody! They just didn’t get it. Years later, I got a letter from a fan and he told me “After all these years, I finally get it! I get it!” and he went on to explain what that whole sound effect segment meant to HIM. It was great. This is the kind of interaction I want! It’s incredible. So yes…. I’m always out of the loop – out of time – misplaced. Odd. But I do catch up. Or… the world catches up. Whatever.
Blackhouse. A particular name by many meanings and provocations. Tell us the roots of your project?
It was the year 1984 and of course I was a huge fan of “industrial” music. At 25 years old, I figured I knew everything there was to know, so I created a band called Blackhouse. I mean… I loved the SOUNDS of the band Whitehouse… (sounds… because was it “music”??? I’m still not sure, but yes… YES it’s music) but the lyrics of Whitehouse pretty much… suck. Come on. Such nasty, petty stuff, right? So I decided to make the anti-thesis, and that was Blackhouse. Like Black Flag/White Flag, you know. Quite silly, actually. But there you have it – eh? But now? Really? I don’t know. I just do whatever I want. It’s no longer a “reaction” thing. It’s an ACTION thing.
PS: We’ll touch more on that name thing later!
Why have you just chosen the power electronics as a musical style?
There was no choice. Things just happened. When I started, there was no such thing as “Power Electronics”. People just did what they wanted. It was after, that somebody (probably a self-important wanker) decided to coin it as Power Electronics. Ahhhhh – who cares? People… groups…bands… “artists”, we just do what we want. There’s no need to label us. (too much!!!).
So we would like to know what your relationship with religion….is?
Don’t tell my Wife, but…yeah…It’s intimate. Real intimate. I’ve been there. In the thick of things. It’s like a jungle… a jungle of intellectual babble, right? And there’s an Angel on your one shoulder, and you ask it for guidance. On the other shoulder, a lil’ devil (and yes, they are ALL little, hello?) telling you to give in…………. “givvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve in….. If it feels good do it.” Well guess what?!? Yadda yadda yadda…. it’s not worth it. Ya gotta be true to yourself. Reality is real. Madonna bites it. Whatever. Right on.
PS: WHAT was the question again???
Oh yeah. Blackhouse is the first Christian Industrial group. Yes, I’m a Christian. Am I a Saint? Absolutely not, but I believe in God and I believe that Christianity is …valid. ??? Is that an OK term? Valid? I embrace the fundamental principles. I believe in the Power Of Go(o)d. It’s so much more rewarding than the “power” of bad. That’s a losing proposition. There are so many types of mind-think, and/but I believe that it’s organic for humans to strive for good instead of striving for the bad. I KNOW most people feel the same. A lot of people say “what is ‘bad’?…. define that”. I think I just did. So for me… Christianity just sums up what I believe and what I was brought up on. The Infinite Power Of Goodness. ADD TO THAT, that I have actually SEEN The Face of Jesus Christ in a church window. Believe me: at age 7, it’s a powerful imprint. And then there are other instances in my life that prove to me that something is definitely going on. There’s a unifying presence in this Life. I see it every day. Something is going on. I see it & feel it. Do you?
One of the characteristics that best highlights the uniqueness of Blackhouse is the lyrics. As you build them Brian and especially what are the aspects of our society and our world that you tend to describe?
On one hand, I like to praise The Good. On the other larger hand… I like to splay the guts. I’m tired of “Turn The Other Cheek”. That can only last… oh so long (It’s over), so I think…. no… I believe… no… no… I KNOW that the next step in the political/evolutionary scale = Divinity. It’s self-awareness. Like AI. Really… I’m for overt the top confrontationalism. My goal is to agitate. I mean to stir things up. That’s what I do. Friction is what I am after… chafing. One of my favorite quotes is “The Goal Of Comedy Is To Offend” …by Larry David, the creator of the hit TV show ‘’Seinfeld’’. But to me it’s not just Comedy. It’s everything. I like to challenge tired old ideas and defeat them. Blam blam blam. I’m also interested in purposely ambiguous statements. It’s very satisfying to destroy somebody’s “rock-solid belief system”, the first step in doing that, is to instill doubt into their logic. And it’s not just about “destroying” their belief system or making them doubt it…. it’s also about making people re-think and re-affirm their viewpoints… to reinforce them and make them stronger! It’s negative and positive. So I am as controversial, arrogant, ambiguous and challenging as I can be. That is what interests me. Thought provoking. Yes.
You have always been described by many as the opposites of Whitehouse. Your thoughts about it?
As I explained earlier, I created Blackhouse not only as a “tribute” to Whitehouse, but also as a mockery/parody. If they (Whitehouse) represent “white” with whatever it is they do, my goal was to create a BLACK version of it… which is really quite a gas, because it’s a total flip of the obvious associations of good/white, and black/evil! But you know, I have been around for over 30 years, so those associations have naturally evolved. I’m not concerned with a tribute/mockery of the band Whitehouse, anymore. Those days are over. Whitehouse doesn’t even exist anymore…. how relevant could a mockery/parody or tribute be? I’ve outlasted the band Whitehouse!!! So where’s the “fun” in referencing them??? None. No. I’m more concerned with the political Whitehouse now. The power. The power of the biggest political mover is much more significant than being related to some obscure (but hugely influential and great) band that doesn’t even exist anymore. My sights are set higher. In regards to this…The White House????? …it’s not even my true…”enemy” anymore…now that Obama and Bush are gone!!! (Obviously, I kind of like Trump! OH NO!!!!!) Naaaaaaaaah. My enemy is the dark power. My enemy is evil. I refuse to even capitalize it. I don’t respect it. I exist to fight it. Fight what? Fight what war? The eternal war of good against evil. This is the arena I occupy. It’s the super-bowl of Life. This is the game I am playing. At war with satan isn’t just a record. It’s a way of Life. Every day of my Life, I fight evil. That is what interests me : fighting evil. Evil is such a no-where trip. Useless and derogatory. Mundane. So….. It’s my duty to fight it. It’s a good vibe to fight it … to fight evil…Plus???? It’s FUN!
Let’s return for a moment to your work. A beautiful musical capital. Which one is your most representative album and why?
My personal face is ‘Five Minutes After I Die’. Musically… or I should say SONICALLY, it’s very dear to my ears. And emotionally, it’s very dear to my heart. Rhythmically, it is chock full of awesome electronic rhythms – which I have ALWAYS supported & I’m known for that. Plus.., it’s got the “industrial” sounds of buildings in collapse & grating sewer grates… And it’s glued together with the lock-grooves from my first vinyl album ‘Hope…’ There are lots of vocal treatments with fuzz-tone & delay unit. The lyrics are over-the-top diatribes about life, death & salvation…It’s got a main theme which pops up over & over again…. and it’s one unified piece… like a rock opera. Frankly, it’s considered the first NOISE OPERA, and rightfully designated as THE FIRST CHRISTIAN INDUSTRIAL NOISE OPERA. And I’m very proud of that, by the way… being the FIRST is always the best. The First Christian Industrial band… That’s good! I invented the genre! The first (Christian) Industrial Opera? These are things that interest me. These milestones. I’m proud of them.
PS: I’m also proud to have created the first “lock-groove” on a CD (the 25th Anniversary Album on M-Tronic)!!! I’m very happy & proud about stuff like that!
From a veteran like you, can you tell us what is your vision of modern power electronics? Is there any emerging band that has impressed you?
To be honest, I don’t really hear music as categories or genres. OK – I do… but I don’t “choose” bands based on some prescribed genre like: “power electronics”. I just like SOUNDS. Whether it’s something most people call music or what they call noise. I don’t hear it like that. It’s just SOUND. SOUNDS. That is what I hear. Sounds. And it’s not like the old days. In the old days, I wrote reviews of records. I was GIVEN many many records to listen to and hopefully I would review those records. That was my job. Now? I am not afforded that luxury. Sure, many bands & individuals send me their music to get some advice – some feedback… but back in the day, I was bathing in records. I was very lucky. I knew all the people who ran the labels… I got all sorts of freebies…. sure? Now? I must buy the stuff. So, my palate is very limited. Still? I don’t hear a lot of great stuff. Because it’s all been done before. SO LITTLE of what is presented to me is actually…INTERESTING. It’s easy to put on a CD at a party and talk & eat & drink over it, like it’s aural wallpaper, but I have never been interested in that background music as viable “MUSIC”. What is it doing that is any different than another? New sounds? New intellect? Fresh ideas? This is what intrigues me. YES. That music still exists, but the pickin’s are slim. I’m very picky. And I refuse to name any names, because I can’t think of anything OUTSTANDING. OK?
Well, I thank you very much for your time and your availability. The last thing we ask you is to leave a simple message for Last Day Deaf.
THANK YOU for the opportunity!!! THANKS! “Leave a simple message for Last Day Deaf? OK. Rock on. That is my message. I mean, what else is there? Rock on. ROCK ON. Do what you want to do… no matter who tells you that it stinks or to do something different. Be yourself. Just do that. Cuz otherwise, what have we got? Something else. Something we have seen & heard before. Nobody needs or wants THAT. Am I right? Yes. Thanks again!