The distance between the worlds of EBM and guitar-oriented industrial tends to be far-reaching and well documented. Thus,
it makes for an interesting turn of events that it is the frontman for the decidedly synth laden mindFIELD who helped get
coldwave legends Chemlab back on stage. As the live guitarist for the first Chemlab shows in seven years, Gabriel Shaw certainly
has a foot in both worlds.
Currently working on the follow-up to mindFIELD's 2004 release, "Singularity," as well as preparing for an upcoming
DJ stint, Shaw discusses juggling his multiple spheres of influence.
Rock Star Journalism: Were you completely satisfied with the "Singularity" album? Is there anything you think you
will do differently for the next release?
Gabriel Shaw: I don't think any artist is ever completely satisfied with their album. But yes, I'm pretty happy with it,
and I can even listen to it every now and then (laughs). For the next album, I'd like to bring in a producer and really work
on the production quality of the album. I think "Singularity" sounds good, but I hear all the technical flaws in
it every time I listen. I know I did the best I could, but I guess I'm just a perfectionist.
RSJ: You've mentioned that you don't particularly like writing lyrics. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
GS: MindFIELD went through an all-instrumental phase a few years back, and I think I did some of my best writing then.
There are plans to release an instrumental retrospective album this year, actually, called "Traces" -- I've collected
all the best tracks I made from 1999 to 2002 and remastered them. All we need is the cover art at this point, so hopefully
the disc will get released by this summer.
To get back to writing lyrics, yes, it's my least favorite part of the writing process. I'm not sure why, though. It takes
me months to finish the lyrics to any song. I pick apart every word and probably analyze them too much. I just never feel
like I have anything to say beyond the feeling of the music itself. So, when I do come up with something, it's usually extremely
personal to the point that it only makes sense to me or extremely vague so that everyone can read what they want into it.
But I do put a lot of thought into the words, since a lot of people pay attention to it and almost seem to judge you based
on them. I just hear so many people make fun of lyrics; I guess it makes me self-conscious (laughs).
RSJ: You released "Singularity" on your own. At this point, are you actively seeking a label?
GS: Not really, since I'm still writing a new album. Once I have it finished, I do plan to shop it around. With "Singularity,"
I didn't know what to expect. I had no idea if anyone would like it or if it would ever sell. I figured that I'd stand a better
chance of attracting label attention if I proved myself first. So, I released it on my own and did all the promotion, booking,
etc. I think we've done very well for a band without any label support in this scene. Our first live show with the current
line-up was opening for The Cruxshadows in front of 400 plus people, and we got an amazing response from the crowd. Since
then we've shared the stage with Stromkern, Psyclon Nine, Ayria, Mindless Faith and even headlined a few shows of our own.
So, when we look for a label, I hope to find one that will help push us even further.
RSJ: I noticed you have remix kits available on your site for several of your songs. Are there any plans to put together
a remix CD?
GS: I'm thinking of releasing an EP with remixes and new tracks. But so far people have been very slow to get their mixes
back to me. Mostly, we were getting email from people on MySpace asking if they could do a remix for us, so I thought, "Why
not?" But for now, the project is on hold until there's more material to work with.
RSJ: You've said that when you started out playing in Massachusetts, it was mostly a metal scene. Has the area's musical
climate changed at all since then?
GS: Well, the first ever mindFIELD show was back in 1996 with a completely different line-up and name. It was a different
music style then, and I was living near the city of Worcester. Worcester is a big metal city, and it's host to a three-day
metal fest every year. So, every time we played out at local clubs, we'd almost always end up opening for a metal band. It
actually helped us stand out, and we were nominated for Best New Artist one year by the local paper. But ultimately, it took
moving out to Boston and changing the line-up before things really started to get going for us. The scene in Boston is still
pretty small, but again, that can help you stand out.
RSJ: With its emphasis on the synthpop/EBM sound, mindFIELD is a long stretch from your roots in metal and grunge bands.
Do you ever have interest in doing anything more guitar-oriented again?
GS: The grunge stuff I was doing was back in high school and never really did anything more than play at friends' parties.
I've always loved electronic music since I was a kid. It wasn't until 1994 when I got my first keyboard and 4-track that
I was able to start making the music I really wanted to. But, yes, I would love to do a more guitar-oriented project again
and keep toying with that idea.
RSJ: You've said that you tend to be picky about where you play your live shows. What do you need from a venue in order
to feel that you can put on a good show?
GS: I think this is the most misunderstood comment I've made. We will basically play anywhere we're asked. However, if
I check the place out in advance and see that it has a terrible sound system, I probably will politely decline the offer to
play. People don't really understand my thinking on this when I turn down shows. If the sound is crap, the audience may dismiss
you as being bad live. A lot of work goes into a live show and very little money in return, so it should be worth the effort.
But it's more than that. Electronic music depends on a good sound system. There's no acoustic drum set on stage, no guitar
amps, nothing providing sound. So, if everything you're doing is coming out of two speakers, they better be good. Some spaces
are conducive to electronic music, some aren't. We've been asked to play at a local club a few times that I just don't feel
comfortable doing, since every band I have ever seen there sounds horrible. I just feel it's better to play less often and
at choice venues, than to play a lot of mediocre gigs whenever.
RSJ: Recently, you've been playing guitar with Chemlab live. How was the San Francisco show?
GS: San Francisco was probably our best show yet, as far as the recent ones go. Boston had great sound, New York had a
great crowd, but San Fran just blew us away. I mean, there was a pit raging for almost the whole show! Not to mention the
city is just great to visit. I've just been trying to help get the Chemlab machine up and running again, and we've played
some great shows since its revival. I love playing guitar again, and it's such a change of pace from mindFIELD. Regan [Miller],
who plays keyboards live with mindFIELD, is also playing with Chemlab now and is enjoying it a lot. Our band is made up of
close friends, and it's become like a family now. It's been an interesting experience working on this project, having been
a fan of theirs for so many years. I'm loving it.
RSJ: Jared [Louche] mentioned that he originally got involved with you through his broken word shows. How has the experience
been working with him?
GS: Jared's a funny guy, and I like him a lot. The guy has a knack with words and poetic imagery. It's been great getting
to know him and working on stuff together. My old roommate hooked us up when Jared was looking for a keyboardist for a Boston
broken word gig. So, I put together some soundscape type stuff with noise loops, and it seemed to fit perfectly with what
he was looking for. I kept in touch with him afterward and kept bugging him about putting Chemlab back together and touring.
He basically told me that Dylan [More] was no longer interested in doing music, all the band's gear is gone along with the
backing tracks and everything, so it could never happen. So, I programmed a few Chemlab backing tracks on my own and proposed
a plan of how we could make it work. He really liked what he heard, and, well, here we are.
RSJ: Do you have an interest in working on the next Chemlab record?
GS: Oh, of course. But I'll leave that up to Jared. He calls the shots on all things Chemlab. He has asked me to help
work on his next solo album. So, we'll see what happens.
RSJ: Also amongst your other projects, you've been the touring drummer for Mono Chrome. Do you think you'll be doing
anything else with them in the future?
GS: Yeah, I love playing drums too. Again, it's a departure from the other projects, and I love that. I've talked with
Clint [Sand] about Mono Chrome recently, and he's played me some new tracks. So, a new album is in the works. I know Victoria
[Lloyd] is busy with the new HMB album and touring at the moment, so I'm not sure when it will happen yet. There's been some
talk of having me help out on the HMB tour, which I'd love to do. But I don't want to jinx it, so I'll keep quiet about that.
RSJ: Tell me about your work as DJ Ionnokx. What kind of tracks do you spin?
GS: I love DJing. I spin mostly EBM, industrial and some trance. I have a huge CD collection, and it occurred to me one
day that I should try my hand at DJing with it. So I started experimenting with beat matching on a friend's system, and my
roommate got me a gig at Manray. I got to sub for the resident DJ Chris Ewen and had a blast. I've done a few spots here and
there at local goth/industrial nights for the last few years. I will soon be sharing a weekly gig with DJ Punketta Doilie
in Harvard Square, which will be a lot of fun. I can't wait!
RSJ: Outside of music, you've done a lot of web design work. What's been your most interesting project to work on?
GS: Yeah, I have to do something to pay the bills in the meantime. The web and graphic design work I do is alright, but
I don't really enjoy it at all. I really hate sitting in front of a computer all day long, and it makes it even harder for
me to come home at night and want to sit in front of the computer some more to write music. It's slowing down the writing
process for the new album. But, I did go to school for design, and I can't really think of any other job to do, so, might
as well. As far as the most interesting project goes, I did some Photoshop and XML work on the latest Volkswagen website.
I'm most proud of the mindFIELD site though.
RSJ: I read that you played at some Apple Macintosh computer shows. Was this something you got involved with through
your web design work?
GS: This was years ago during the instrumental band phase of mindFIELD. I got the gig through a friend who was an Apple
rep. They wanted a live musical act for an outdoor trade show, and I jumped at the chance. We got shut down though for disturbing
the peace. The office buildings nearby were pissed about the noise, since it was during normal business hours (laughs). But
we played as long as we could before they cut the power on us and got paid by Apple just the same, so no big deal.
RSJ: When do you think you'll be back in the studio with mindFIELD again?
GS: Soon I hope. I need to get off my ass and just get to work on that. But there's just so much I have to do at home,
and work takes up too much of the day. It's really hard to find the time. In the past I've always written my demos while on
vacation or between contract jobs. I can't seem to make music while holding down a standard 9 to 5 job. I need to win the
lottery and quit my job or something, or else this album will never get finished.
No, I don't know, I need to figure out how to write again, as strange as it sounds. It's been a couple years now, and
I had a different way of writing back then. I have a completely different studio setup now as well. I'm making the transition
from hardware keyboards to VST soft synths, but my computer has a 350mHz processor. So, it's a matter of upgrading everything,
finding the money, finding what works, etc. I have two completed songs now and four more in the works. I really hope to have
something finished this summer. That's the plan as it stands right now.
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