With credits as label boss of the DSBP label, cyber-radio DJ & musician, Tommy T Rapisardi is undoubtedly one of the hardest working people in the current electro/industrial scene. With his band Diverje releasing their latest album 'Stitched' CARL JENKINSON decided it was time we had a chat with the man himself & here's what he had to say....
Q. Tommy, you've just released your sixth Diverje album 'Stitched' which brings together a whole host of musical talents, among them Vince Pujol, The Argentinian band Alien Produkt & Josh Taylor of The Mercy Cage. Running DSBP doubtless brings you into contact with many talented musicians so is it important for you to give each album a greater range of musical flavours than might be the case if you were to work alone?
TOMMYT:I think its great to keep each album a little different from the next and to progress as well.I have been very lucky to be working with so many talented and creative electronic musicians.Running DSBP has definately given me oppurtunity to work with them and help them out as well as them helping me out. The writing process is very natural for us and we take our time and the different combinations of artists really make each album diverse and very intresting.
Q. Do you feel, then, that this latest release, shows an progression from the preceeding album 'The Distortion Chamber'
TOMMYT: "The Distortion Chamber" which was released in 2005 has a heavier sound and incorporated more diversity and some guitars as does this new one. They are songs that you can "picture" being done LIVE and with that kinda energy and feeling to them. Playing lotsa LIVE SHOWS have made the songs and vocals stronger overall, I think. I do think we have progressed with each release though, mainly in production and overall sound.The songs are more catchy and dancey as well as harder edged on this album.
Q. How much input did you have on the music or is your forte vocals & lyrics?
TOMMYT: I have lots of influence on the music and I do write some as well as additional synths I do, but I have lotsa help and the programming is up to whoever is doing it.I do write all the vocal/lyrics though.
Q. I guess a lot of people would have been surprised by your cover of the J. Geils Band track 'Come Back'. Was this your way of saying there's more to life than just industrial music & that you enjoy more popular musics too?
TOMMYT:I don't like most "pop music" though..but I do like lotsa old school rock and metal songs.. I always enjoyed that track as a kid and wanted to bring it back to life as I revisited it a couple years back and it still sounded great to me. I like how the song rocks out and still has some great programming and synth parts...its such a cool Live track to do as well...the fans really seem to love it when we play that one at shows. It definately shows a different side of us and I like that.Keeping things unpredictable and diverse is fun...too many bands play it safe these days and all their songs sound alike..its hard for me to understand how some of these bands have such large followings when I hear em and cannot distinguish from one song to the next...as a musician I always like to try new things and don't want all our songs to sound the same.
Q. One attention-grabbing track is 'Ho For Show', where did the idea for the track come from & what is the spoken ranting all about?
TOMMYT: "ho for sho" was originally gonna stay all instrumental as I was working with DIVIDER on the music...then I watched the movie "40 year old virgin" and loved it...it had some funny comments, real banter going on there, and that part is in the electronics store with Steve Carrell and one of his co-workers girlfriends lecturing him on how to treat women, when he is just covering for his friend so he doesn't get bitched out by her..its funny stuff...and its meant as funny and not a sexist thing or anything like that..its just comedy, I like to have at least one funny song per album..
Q. The closing 'Mainstream Collapsing' is possibly one of the angriest tracks you've ever released, particularly the vocals which any punk band would have been proud of. I'm guessing there's a definate inspiration behind this piece, too?
TOMMYT: this piece was totally inspired by the tired and fake hollywood scene that makes up mainstream pop music these days...the old men running the record labels and with no idea about what is "really out there", playing it by the book, the same old shit getting worse and worse and sometimes people gotta talk about it. Fact is,if you are a hot, young woman and can sing a little bit, you can become a huge star and make millions for your looks and sex appeal..it's rarely about talent anymore in the mainstream..it's sickening!! It's not about songwriting, or being original or even talented! I get so annoyed by the TV shows I come across and seeing the lipsynching on late night "live show" appearances, its such bullshit. I just had to go off on how corrupt and evil the mainstream is by using some direct examples..
Q. You seem to be something of a lynchpin in the US industrial scene, what with running the DSBP label,Cyberage Radio & your various bands which is all very cool but I've always wondered how do you find enough hours in the day to do all this?
TOMMYT: Its not easy at all bro..I am always trying to find the time and I have to keep a good balance and make sure I take care of all that needs to be cared for. Running the label and doing music production is lotsa fun and its different from DJ'ing or playing LIVE. They each have their fun moments to them and its a trip. I think doing all these things keeps me intrested in them all and never getting bored and inspired to keep progressing.
Q.So how did you originally get interested in industrial music in the first place? What assets did it have that made it right for you?
TOMMYT: As a kid I found New Wave/early electronic music on the college radio station in NY.In the 80's I was already liking most of the rock music I heard but then when I heard new wave and punk and early electronic/experimental music, it just felt "right" to me..I enjoyed it so much and none of my friends understood me or why I liked the stuff, so I mainly hung out by myself as a kid, and listened to lots of music and found what I wanted to do from that. The first "industrial bands" I heard and enjoyed were Ministry and Skinny Puppy in the late 80's.It was too hard to start up a new wave band back then, as keyboards were way expensive and software wasn't even around yet..so it wasn 't nearly as crowded of a scene as it is now,thats for sure.I was in metal bands for most of my life until around 1996, thats when I finally could afford my own keyboard and started writing industrial/electronic music.
Q. Although little known in the UK Diverje has actually racked up quite a sizeable discography, starting back in 1996 with 'Electrodiums-The Passage', talk us through each one & your personal feelings about them, any concepts you particularly wanted to explore or messages you wanted to push at the time, etc?
TOMMYT: Are you kidding me? we are HUGE in the UK!!;-) Well, we do have lots of fans and supporters there, but no, we aren't huge..this is mainly due to us being on an indie label as opposed to a major label like Metropolis Records.If you are releasing your music independently in this day and age its very hard to get "big" anywhere. We have released 7 albums...heres the rundown of what we DO have out...
1996 DSBP#1004 Electrodiums / The Passage 1998 DSBP#1019 Existence / Program Remix 2000 DSBP#1030 On Skin 2002 DSBP#1043 2:40AM 2003 DSBP#1060 Amphibian 2005 DSBP#1071 The Distortion Chamber 2007 DSBP#1085 Stitched
Yes, each album has been a progression on the last and we have had some albums which are heavier, and incorporate some guitars, and we have had some that are more electronic all the way with diversity in styles within...we have had lots of great remixers really twist our songs into new directions as well.I always recommend the latest 2 CD's to people though as I think they are our best efforts.
Q. I referred earlier on to your various & numerous contacts & this was doubtless a factor in making the '2.40AM' the hefty release that it was. What prompted you to start this project & where did that title come from?
TOMMYT:"2:40AM" basically followed in the success of the "On Skin" CD. Lotsa bands and friends loved that album and wanted to do remixes for us, and I gave out lotsa remix kits and didn't realize I would get as many back as I did. When the remixes started rolling in I was intrigued by the diversity and sounds, so I had to keep most of them and by then the album was way over the length of a single album..so we just added on more remixes, some rarities not released on CD yet and a couple new tracks, and made it our first Double CD! It was something I always wanted to try anyways since its not so common...It would have been better if it was more like "Amphibian" which has a disc of all new music and then disc 2 is all remixes. Releasing 2 double CD's in 3 years was a fun and intresting journey. The album name "2:40am" came from how at that point it always seemed when I was working late night on music, recording or getting baked that it was 2:40am..I always would notice that time on my clock it seems...it was strange but every night at 2:40am something fun was going on..so...it seemed like a natural title for it.
Q. With bands as varied as Assemblage 23, Monstrum Sepsis & Da Riot Squad all participating I guess it fulfilled all your hopes of demonstrating the full range of electronic music but were there any other styles you'd have like to have covered but couldn't due to the lack of space?
TOMMYT:That album covers lots of areas though...trance,drum-n-bass, power noise, Industrial,EBM, synthpop, IDM, experimental,Glitch,etc...I mean I don't know if we missed any styles on that one...its really cool because of that too.
Q. Was it always your intention to make it a double or did it take on a life of its own that left you with no choice but to do so?
TOMMYT: Yes, it took a life of its own, just like "Amphibian" did..but I think I am done with double CDs now.Theres a lot more work and cash involved in releasing them too and its hard to ask for a higher price to sell it.
Q. As well as Diverje, you've also worked as In-fused, releasing one album, 2004's 'Misplaced'. What are the differences between the two, would you say?
TOMMYT: In-Fused is mainly a solo project and not based on EBM or industrial music only, it has more of a experimental and instrumental quality to it but I do like mixing in some vocal tracks. It's been a while since I did anything for that project though as most of my focus is on DIVERJE and all that goes into it, and the DSBP label and my Cyberage Radio shows seem to take most of my time now. I do plan on bringing the In-Fused stuff back though soon..I will release another one in a year or 2 with new sounds, probably some collaborations too..working alone gets boring to me..
Q. Additionally, 2006 saw the start of your collaboration with French musician Vince Pujol bearing fruit with the album 'Exoskeleton'. What prompted you to start this project & is it an ongoing one?
TOMMYT: The Bio-Mechanical Degeneration project was started by Vince as another outlet for his masterful programming...this one was meant to be 1/2 instrumental and 1/2 with lyrics..I asked Vince if I could join in and provide some synths and programming as well as vocals and he was totally cool with that idea, so we did co-write lots of stuff and he did some solo stuff on here as well. The album has a very sci-fi/ fantasy feel to it, and lotsa cool samples and a mix of darkness and dance music. This is a project that will continue as well...we plan on releasing more music in the next couple years.
Q. Whose idea was the sci-fi concept?
TOMMYT: That was Vince...he talked about it, and I was very enthusiastic about it, since I am a big time Sci-Fi movie lover as well.I love doing that, and theres not many bands that do it like this.
Q. There seem to be a good few US bands that receive very little exposure in the UK & mainland Europe,which ones in particular do you feel we should all be checking out (apart from you own, of course!!)
TOMMYT: I think the problem is that UK bands do good in UK and European bands dominate the European charts, clubs, stations..Its very hard to breakthrough in Europe unless you are on a HUGE label or have lots of cash from being a rich kid....which none of us are...so...we just keep working at it, and every sale and supporter from overseas is always a special one for us. There are many great US bands that people should check out, I will recommend some of our DSBP Records bands for instance.. NOISE PROCESS, TAU FACTOR, REIN-FORCED, DERMA-TEK, VERTIGO VENUS, ENCODER, ANDACULOID...and theres lots more bands I enjoy from the states..I will be as brave to say that my favorite bands seem to be American bands.
Q. I guess no Diverje interview is complete without mentioning DSBP; how is the label going? It seems that, in these downloading days, running a label is something of a risky proposition. how do you keep going?
TOMMYT: Yes, downloading has really hurt the industry,and everyone will say it now...I was saying this years ago and people would mindlessly argue with me and oppose me, as the smart ones knew what was up and happening...now that "everyone"thinks they are a musician with their hacked software and all, and with their dreams all being stomped down by lack of any intrest or CD sales it makes it hard for any new bands even if they are good to be signed anywhere, cause CD's are a losing venture unless the band is already known and has selling power. More than ever its too hard to work with "brand new bands"with no track record. The DSBP label is doing well though.We still have good sales on some of our bands and others are just getting more known...the new DIVERJE has been a HUGE success and almost ready to press another 1,000 of them.. The band has been around for awhile, and since this is our best release yet it seems to be selling like it should, really well. Many other bands are doing well here and continue to get more known as people wake up to the fact that there is Industrial music beyond Metropolis Records. The Clubs are really narrow in the USA as well and seem to only play Metro. bands so its hard for the "rest of us" to breakthrough...but we do our best. We aren't signing anyone "new" for a bit here as we want to work hard with the bands that we have already released and have a history with us. Bands like E.S.R., DERMA-TEK,TAU FACTOR, VERTIGO VENUS, ANDRACULOID,NOISE PROCESS, REIN-FORCED and ASSEPTIC ROOM should be HUGE everywhere, and we will keep working on getting them there..
Q. So what is the immediate future going to bring from you, both as a musician & label owner?
TOMMYT: The future will bring more music, more releases, lots more hard work, and having as much fun as I can handle. I think its good to be serious and make lots of music, but its really great to enjoy yourself along the way and party with as many cool people as you can.I guess I like to live life to its fullest and indulge in the "benefits" that are there for me. DSBP Records will continue on and do things "our way" as always...:-)
Q. Any last message to anyone reading this?
TOMMYT:Thank you to anyone who reads this and has supported the bands or label here..we appreciate it and we are nothing without you!! Thanks for the interview and your support through the years!!Its great to share these times with you all and check us out anytime at..