“I have an article somewhere saved where the writer at some point said in the article ‘Marilyn Manson better move over his blown out asshole, because Society 1 is in town.’ “
Excerpted from the interview with Anita Malloy and Steve Pinkerton, July 7th, 2018.
Society 1 were pioneers in the shock metal scene – transitioning in the early 90’s from adult film to rock and metal music and performing the first live suspension show in front of a crowd of 80,000 people at the Download Festival in 1996. We spoke to Matt Zane about his newly released documentary – a recently found and previously unreleased snapshot and span of the band from about 1996 to 2006. The documentary explores the behind-the-scenes and is a glimpse into the rock n’ roll life of the late 90’s, and it also establishes Society 1 as the innovators they rightfully are.
Anita: There was a 2006 documentary video that you’re promoting?
Matt: Yeah and that’s basically what we’re talking about right now. What it is, its a found documentary that was never released and when we stumbled across it we thought it would be a really cool thing to put out. We’re in between albums right now so that’s basically what we’re promoting, it’s a really interesting documentary. For anybody thats into rock n roll documentaries and likes that kind of entertainment, it’s a real trip to watch. It kinda follows the band from its beginnings up until about 2006 when we did the suspension show at Download and it’s got a lot of great cameos in it, from Sin Quirin from Ministry to Paul Raven, Klepto Kennedy that helped produce Nine Inch Nails, de Prume from White Zombie, so it’s just a fun and interesting little video time capsule to watch, and that’s why we just stuck it up online for everybody to see for free.
Anita: That’s pretty cool. You have the “It’s Yours Now” video on your Facebook page, is that your current song?
Matt: No, the last music video that came out was a video for “No Control”. It came out about 6 weeks ago, it was our last and our 9th music video off of our last album. That’s basically gonna be it until the next album. If you haven’t seen it you should check it out, it’s a science fiction based music video that is being told over two parts. So it’s actually only the first part of the story, the sequel’s going to finish up on the new record. It’s Yours Now was the first music video that was released from the last album We Rise From the Dead.
Anita: That is really, really cool. In the documentary, is that song, “This Is The End” –
Matt: Yeah, what about it?
Anita: Is that the song that was in the documentary?
Matt: Yes but that song came out in 2006. I believe that was a B-side to The Sound of End’s Creation which we used to put on the documentary because we wanted to offer an unreleased track with it. Unfortunately that documentary didn’t get released but that song was released subsequently. I think we did a music video for it after that which can be found online for your viewing pleasure.
Anita: What album was that on?
Matt: I think that was on an album called The Years of Spiritual Dissent.
Anita: Who were the three members of InZane? I think it was Alister, Syd, I can’t remember the third one – it was the three people that were like, chronically fucked up – and I also recall an awesome puking scene in the bathroom. That was just absolutely amazing.
Matt: Well, the documentary follows pretty much all the members from ’99 or ’96 til 2006, so I mean there’s a lot of different players in there. But the most notable that people always gravitate towards are obviously Sin Quirin because he went on to Ministry, he’s currently in Ministry, Ivan de Plume who was the drummer from White Zombie prior to being in my band, Paul Raven who was in Prong as well as Ministry – he’s now passed away. He was a bass player. Those are the most notable – oh and also ad7 from Powerman 5000 was our drummer for a short period of time, as well as Preston Nash of Dope. So we’ve had a revolving lineup of very notable characters and those are the ones people tend to show the most interest in obviously because of the other projects that they’ve had prior or after.
Anita: I thought your video was raw, and metal as fuck.
Anita: I loved it!
Matt: It’s a very interesting watch. It’s definitely worth it, especially for fans, or non-fans that just want a sneak peak into the rock n’ roll lifestyle of that time period.
Anita: What do you remember of the 90’s?
Matt: Everything – I’ve got a great memory so – I’ll tell ya this, I think it was the last decade of great music to come out. I remember everything about it rather fondly. I wish that we still had that caliber of bands and musicians around right now, but it is what it is. Maybe it’ll come back around in 2020.
Anita: Do you have some time to talk to Steve from The Metal Channel?
Matt: Sure, if he’d like to, of course.
Steve: Hey Matt, how’s it going?
Matt: Hey Steve, how are you doing?
Steve: Doing pretty well – can’t complain, it’s Saturday! We had thought that was a Midwest thing, “It is what it is.”
Matt: That could be an East Coast thing, I’m originally from the East Coast. I dunno.
Matt: I tend to say it a lot because I just – there’s nothing else I can say about certain things. I mean you can’t think of any logical explanation why rock music was so amazing in between the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and then all of a sudden it just went to shit after.
Steve: Exactly – right down the shitter.
Matt: There really isn’t any explanation, so I’m beyond trying to explain it and think of the explanations. So therefore that saying seems to encapsulate everything that I’m trying to express.
Steve: Something that I noticed especially because I do remember you guys from the late 90’s, it seemed like you guys were like Marilyn Manson dialed up 3 or 4 notches.
Matt: You know, it’s really funny that you say that because we were. I have an article somewhere saved where the writer at some point said in the article “Marilyn Manson better move over his blown out asshole, because Society 1 is in town.” I remember another article saying “Marilyn Manson isn’t crazy enough to even attempt to think about what my band was doing with suspensions, and the writer didn’t think Charles Manson would be crazy enough.”
So yeah, we kinda got that reputation.
Steve: Shock Metal. You guys were a lot heavier too.
Steve: I can hear a lot of elements of thrash in there.
Matt: Yeah, there really was. Unfortunately we never really ascended to the heights in terms of popularity that Manson did but that’s just part of the music industry. It was being said, but I never really thought too much about it. I was just kinda thinking we were doing what we were doing, and that’s what it was. If people wanted to say whatever, they could say whatever. I will tell you this, I believe that if we had just come out a couple of years earlier, around the exact same time that Manson did, in ’94 versus ’96 –
Steve: Oh yeah.
Matt: I think things would have been very different for us career-wise. I do feel that he got the head start with the whole shock-rock thing, and kudos to him! You can’t take it away from the guy, you know? He managed to get the whole image / shock rock thing together and down 2 or 3 years before us, and now he still has a massive career. Where as my band, we still exist but obviously we’re no where near the level of accomplishments or success that he is. So it’s just the way that it goes. I think the big problem is that I was just a couple of years younger than Manson. If I was just a bit older and I’d managed to get my band out in ’94 versus ’96, with all the famed stuff that we were doing, with the suspensions and the whole bit, it would be a totally different story. We’d be having a very different interview right now. That’s the way the music industry goes though, there’s winners and losers man. There’s something to be said about being at the right place at the right time and being hooked up with the right person. He got hooked up with Trent Reznor, he was just that guy that was at the right place at the right time with the right people and he managed to benefit from it, where I was a couple of years too late.
Steve: It’d be the other way around. He’d be opening for you and they’d still be the Spooky Kids.
Matt: You know what, I mean it’s arguable. It really is. People would laugh at me for saying that but you’ve gotta really understand, when you look into terms of music history, there’s a lot of really strange things that have happened that a lot of people just don’t get. It reminds me of a really crazy story. Nobody’s gonna remember this or even think about it because this is really dating myself but back in the 80’s there was a guy on the local scene that used to do all the jump kicks and the splits and stuff, something like that. Apparently it’s rumored that David Lee Roth went and saw this guy perform and stole a lot of his stage show from him. This guy was interviewed back in the 80’s by some local magazines and he said “Oh, David Lee Roth stole all my tricks, and this and that.” Maybe David Lee Roth did, maybe David Lee Roth didn’t, maybe this guy was doing it at the exact same time David Lee Roth was. The point is, is that David Lee Roth just broke it first. That became part of his stage show. At one point he was the biggest, greatest rock n’ roll frontman of all time and his thing was those kicks. Obviously they’re a phenomenal band and I’m a huge Van Halen fan but imagine how different of a band it would be if David Lee Roth didn’t have that stage show?
Matt: People will say, “Oh well, things would have been different if this happened or that happened.” I’ll reply, “Well, it didn’t happen that way. Things happened the way that they did, there’s nothing that you can do about it at this point”. That’s why I think that this documentary is cool, it shows a little bit of what was going on for all the people that missed it. So in a sense it gives us a little more validity than we had before because we get so much from people who think that we were just a rip off of so many things. Another great example is that Jane’s Addiction have been including suspension artists in all of their shows. I’m a huge Jane’s Addiction fan, I’ve even performed with Dave Navarro at the Wayne Static memorial, which you can view online. The point is that they started doing it a year after my band had been doing it for 5 or 6 years. A lot of people don’t know that we did suspension, they all think that we ripped off Jane’s Addiction because Jane’s Addiction is a bigger band that came before us. That’s why I think, again, the documentary is really cool because people will start looking at dates and realizing, “Oh my god, these guys were playing in front of 80,000 people while Matt Zane’s suspended” and this was years before Jane’s Addiction started doing it. I think that part of the documentary is really interesting because you can put things on a timeline and see where we fit into rock n roll history. It also clears some things up for people tending to make their own assumptions that everything that we say happened didn’t actually really happen.
Steve: I think it also helps establish you guys as the pioneers that you rightfully are.
Matt: I’ve been approached by a couple of people that have watched the documentary and they said “This is going to be really great for you guys because it’s really going to establish you. There’s going to be a resurgence in the band and it’s going to bring a lot of attention”. I think that if people actually watch it they would be right. I wouldn’t disagree with you and I wouldn’t disagree with the people that approached me but the problem is that nobody’s watching it, that’s the issue. That’s why I’m talking to the press and trying to get it out there. It’s very difficult for people to take interest in a band that they think is a non-existent entity. If you can get them to sit down and watch it long enough, they walk away from it going “Oh my god, I had no idea.” It’s been a very big challenge to get people to actually watch it. Let’s face it, when Anita contacted me to do this interview she was just looking to interview the band. She had no idea about the documentary and it had been out for a week, the press outlets had posted about it. Look at the idea that she had of the band prior to watching it and then after. I mean, it really opens up a new world entirely and that’s why I’m not doing anymore interviews with anyone until they have watched the documentary. I’m tired of trying to catch people up on this massive history because the band has been around for 20 years now.
Steve: Absolutely. In particular, I think if Trent had noticed you guys instead of Manson first that would have put the band around the globe more times than you could count. At the same time I know in this day and age its possible for just about anybody to either make a comeback or suddenly be catapulted back into the spotlight. That’s the beauty of the internet, and really, that’s part of why places like TheMetalChannel.net exist. Especially for talent like yours that should be heard and should be seen by everyone, for anyone that isn’t getting that kind of exposure we can try to go ahead and raise the bar a bit.
Matt: Once again I appreciate it and that’s why I do interviews to talk about these things. It’s still an uphill battle, trying to constantly re-establish yourself at this point hoping to convey to the people that you’re worth watching or listening to. All we can do is try and that’s it, there’s no other thing that you can do. You can give up or you can keep trying. I have an optimistic point of view that at some point, somebody’s going to stumble across my little piece of rock n’ roll history and go “Oh my god, this guy was the first guy ever to suspend in rock n’ roll history and sang it and he didn’t do it in some club, he did it in front of 80,000 people”. “Oh my god, this guy started in adult entertainment and then made it into rock n’ roll and toured the world, even made it onto MTV.” Nobody’s ever done that in the history of rock n’ roll either. So on and so forth and they’ll go down the line and they’ll kind of see some of the worth and if not that then the entertainment value in it. I’m relatively young, I’m going to be 44 in a couple of months so there is still time for somebody to come across it at some point or some new kid to become a big new filmmaker. Maybe just like the story that happened with Anvil. You never know but we can all be hopeful.
Anita: It also inspires people to keep going, never give up, don’t give in, don’t quit. It does send that powerful message. Thanks for your time Matt… cheers! \m/
Society 1 are:
DV Karloff – Bass
Iorden Mitev – Drums
Maxxxwell Carlisle – Guitar