Cut Rate Box

After witnessing an astonishing, energetic live performance at the London Garage in December, on tour with Assemblage 23 and Diary Of Dreams, it felt like the right time to discover more about this dark electronic act. With a stronger upbeat sound on their latest album Dataseed and some very positive feedback, it looks likely they've succeeded in their dream of conquering Europe.
Richard Hobbs talks to G. Wygonik.

1. Can you give a brief introduction of yourselves and tell us how the bands name come about?

g.: g. here - singer & lyricist. We both share songwriting and production. Clint does most of the arranging of ideas into final tracks. As the story goes, I was sitting on an above-ground subway train - looked out the window and saw a decrepit old building with a lovely water-tower that just said "cut rate box". I knew that was it. It stuck.

2. Your debut album New Religion was released in year 2000, but Cut Rate Box has been recording material since 1989, with a selection of early tracks now compiled onto a cd as "Distemper Anthology 1989-1993" and available from your web site. Firstly, why did it take over 10 years for your first album release, how different are these anthology tracks to present day recordings, and is there potential material to release another anthology from 1993-1999?

g.: From the inception of, I was moving around the US every 6 months or so. It was hard to get settled enough to release anything outside of limited edition cassette releases. "Distemper" came about after getting a lot of support from Jayson of Permission Magazine, and Paul of Industrial Nation. I had to release something more substantial. Even after the release of "Distemper", I was still moving around a lot. In 1997(?) I settled in New Orleans and finally felt "at home." Subsequently, I was able to finally focus more on getting signed and releasing material. We currently have two cd's worth of rare and unreleased material that we sometimes give away at record release parties, to special friends, etc., and I'm currently compiling a third cd worth of other old material.

3. The band has settled in New Orleans after much relocating within the US. What significant differences have you noticed with the attitude towards the electronic scene throughout the various cities you have been based?

g.: Everywhere I've lived, the electronic music fans have been small in numbers, but very passionate about their music. I've been surprised that even in some of the smallest towns, there were seriously hardcore and knowledgeable electronic music fans.

4. New Religion strikes me as a rather dark album when compared to your latest, more dance orientated album Dataseed, can you comment?

g.: I think musically, we've both always been dance music fans. It’s just been recently that I think we've been able to write decent dance-oriented music. I personally think that the lyrics on "Dataseed" are just as dark and bitter as "New Religion", but the music sometimes masks that - which is okay. It hits people on different levels, and that's what I like.

5. You seem to favour collaborating with various guest vocalists, which is a unique feature of Cut Rate Box. What interested you in this idea and how do you select the right voice for the song?

g.: We don't necessarily favor working with guest vocalists, it just kind-of ended up that we had some great opportunities that we took advantage of for "New Religion". Working with Victoria (of Claire Voyant) on "Enigma" was really the only time we specifically wanted to work with a certain vocalist.

6. In Europe, Cut Rate Box is promoted by Accession Records and in the US, by Gashed. I understand that Gashed are having a few problems at the moment, so how does that affect your promotion of Dataseed in the US?

g.: Well, Gashed! is officially closed. We will be releasing "Dataseed" in the states on Exploration Records / Mars Colony Music. They are very excited about the album, and plan on putting a lot of backing behind us. The surprising success that came from what little promotion Gashed! did, will be greatly overshadowed by what's to come.

7. Are there to be any singles or remixes released from Dataseed?

g.: There will be a state-side promotional single containing several remixes from "Dataseed" - including a remix by dj Tony Estrada, and another by a big-name artist (though I can't say who until the mix is in-hand - just in case :-). We also have a remix of "Brittle" coming in from Stromkern and a remix of "Thinair" coming in from Light of Euphoria. We are not sure of their final outlet, but we have several options pending.

8. I saw you perform live in London last December with Assemblage 23 and Diary Of Dreams. I was particularly impressed with your performance and also how well the crowd responded. What was your opinion of this trip to the UK, how good were album sales and feedback from the event and how important do you feel it was to take part in a label tour such as this?

g.: Well, first of all, it was a dream to actually tour Europe based on the merits of our music, which is completely overwhelming. To see the response of crowds all over Europe was just the icing on the cake. We met a lot of people who knew who we were, and a lot that had never heard of us, but after our shows we would consistently get the same good feedback from both types. The tour certainly helped record sales.

9. A few more comments on your live performances, I've noticed your songs are reproduced more upbeat live than the album versions and also that there was the inclusion of a third member to the band on tour.

g.: We remix everything for live performance - even if it's just a subtle change here or there. The tempos stay the same as the cd, but I think the energy we put into our performance adds an excitement that just isn't captured on cd.

10. Who / what have been your biggest influences musically and lyrically, and what are your favourite Cut Rate Box songs so far?

g.: My biggest musical influences have always been bands like Front 242, Coil, Japan / David Sylvian, Cabaret Voltaire, Gary Numan... as for favorite C.R.B songs, well, that's a tough call. I mean, I don't want to release any song that I don't like. :-) I currently really like “Thinair” (the domestic version of Thinice, and the version we played live).

11. A bit of salesman talk now. How would you convince me that Dataseed is the album I should go out and buy?

g.: hmm.... how about "it won't make your testicles shrivel and fall off”?

12. Anything to add?

g.: 2873 + 645