The following interview appeared
in the Summer 1993 edition of Grim Humor (Volume 11 NO.3)
"The Con Demek
Tune is a dense, noisy, provocative collage-respectful, intricate
industrial music that is rarely heard anymore. Their ensemble
utilizes guitars, violin, tapes and cybersonics (?). Highlights
include extensive guitar manipulation and voices appropriated from
radio and/or television..."
(review of the split 7" track on Erl, by Ron Rice, H23 mag. #3,
The following interview was conducted with
Damian Catera, via a couple of air mail letters, at the start of this
year. Apparently his/Condemeks first interview, the majority of the
answers were written in a bathroom stall at Damians work whilst
hiding from the supervisor. If youve been suitably intrigued by their
Oven Contribution to this editions split 7, or Ron Rices quoted
comments above, read on...
motivated Con Demek to exist? And, indeed, has this motivation
changed since forming?
It's difficult to pinpoint one fundamental
motivation for forming Con Demek; I think it was a combination of
things, though. Namely, an interest in the critical valuation of
belief systems combined with a penchant for music and sound
construction. At the time of Demek's formation (back in early , 86),
I was in college studying political science. During this period I had
done d series of writings that I loosely grouped under the title
'Discorging Elements', which was released in May, '87. I think the
motivation has definitely changed as I've gotten older. In the
beginning, I had a sincere yet naive belief in the power of music as
a tool for social change. I don't really see it that way any more.
Music is just one commodity amongst many, whose influences are not
definite. Generally, once a critical message becomes part of a
marketable commodity it negates its initial power. As I've grown
older, l've grown more cynical about any possibilities of positive
social change, though I still see a necessity for ways of thinking
beyond rigidly systemised thought processes, and I think humanity is
on a collision course with self destruction- so, If there has been
any motivational change for me, and I think there has, then it's
changed from primarily political to primarily aesthetic and self
Were you involved with
music, in any way, prior to Con Demek?
I've been involved with music, in one way or
another, for nearly my entire life. My infatuation with electronic
processes goes back to my early teenage years, when a friend and
myself would go down to this underground tunnel with a portable tape
recorder and throw stuff around, scream and generally raise hell.
Then we would take these recordings home and combine them with guitar
noises and other things. We had no idea what we were doing and it
would be years before I saw this as a viable mode of expression.
Between that point and the foundation of Con Demek I played in a
teenage cover band and also actually performed as a folk musician for
Have you performed
live? How, if so, does your approach to this compare to your recorded
Con Demek has performed live on several occasions
but it's only been during the last three years that we have developed
what we consider to be a quality live presentation. Demek
performances are now multimedia presentations that combine video with
live and pre -recorded sounds. People generally seem to enjoy the
intensity of our shows but we see ourselves primarily as a studio
orientated project. If we do two shows a year, that' s a lot.
Performing involves lot of work. We, therefore, prefer to channel our
energy into recording and creating video works. Our music definitely
sounds better recorded than live.
Can you outline
your releases, be sides the 'Dogmama' album and split single with Joe
Colon, for me? These are the only two items that I'm aware of...!
'Dogmama' was our second full length release. Our
first full length release was the previously noted 'Discorging
Elements which was self published back in 87. Most recently we
appeared on the RRR 100th release compilation 7" and a cassette
compilation put out by Reign of toads magazine.
How well received
have your records been, either in the states or worldwide?
The response to our releases has been
fundamentally positive. We've always received generally favourable
reviews and positive letters from all over the world. Considering the
nature of our material, I've always found this somewhat surprising.
The only bad press we ever received was from local music critics.
How much is spent
on recording? Furthermore, is all of the material primarily
improvised in the studio or fully prepared/rehearsed beforehand?
I could easily take the entire interview to answer
this question but I'll try to be as concise as possible ... Con Demek
does not really have one singular creative paradigm but I can think
of a few general methods by which we go about creating. Generally, we
don't work the way that most musical projects do. herefore, we don't
rehearse pieces before recording. Usually, we assemble pieces
gradually over a period of time, during the recording process.
Usually, I'll come up with a rhythmic idea or sound construction and
use that as the basic framework for a piece. Then I'll record my
contribution and give copies to Jay and Steve without any specific
instructions for what they are to contribute. They then interpret the
existing material for themselves and make their contributions. In
this light, the pieces can be seen as interactive processes that are
somewhat alentoric in nature. This is the way we create the majority
of the time. Very few decisions are made in advice. Some times, Jay
and I will get together and jam, like normal musicians, and come up
with ideas that way. Nobody in Con Demek as a rigidly defined task,
so everyone is welcome to contribute in whatever way they are able.
Steve handles the majority of the visual output. He is an avid
desktop video freak who can do almost anything visually with a
computer. We all contribute to the video material as well, though.
Generally, we don't stick to the rule that the video has to be
narrative for the audio. Often, our videos are just another layer of
concepts that are not subservient to the music.
How often do you
actually get together as Con Demek? Are there any other music related
projects that you're involved with?
Jay, Steve and myself have known each other for
several years. We have a relationship that transcends any of our
collaborative, creative ventures. Therefore, I'd say we set together
more often as Jay, Steve and Damian than as Con Demek. We rarely
record as a unit. The only time we get together as a band' is to
rehearse for our sporadic performances. I'm the only one, at this
time, who has any musical ventures outside of Con Demek. Recently,
I've been involved with a group called Community Service Project,
which is a rock, noise/improvisational unit. The drummer in C.S.P. is
a friend of mine, Mike Lopez, who is in a band called 5-Chin-400, who
recently had a 7" released on Erl. They are a great band that I
think will someday become a formidable presence in the independent
What do you all do
outside the band?
Steve works as a computer programmer for a book
publisher. Jay is currently studying philosophy on a graduate level
fellowship. I've worked for the past seven years as a janitor in a
state bureaucracy. Recently, I've developed a disdain for cleaning
toilets and am working on going back to school to possibly study electronic music and video.
We're all united in our hatred for work and a shared lack of career
Has being based in
New York helped or hindered Con Demek's progress, do you think?
People that live outside the U.S. tend to believe
that New York consists solely of New York City. The fact is, we live
in Troy (and Albany) which is 150 miles North of N.Y C. We often go
down to N.Y C. for shows, but it's a really expensive place to live.
One beneficial thing about living upstate is that it's relatively
cheap. This, in turn, has enabled us to build up our home audio and
video studios. So, I'd have to say that living upstate has definitely
aided our progress greatly.
What do you hope to
reflect in Con Demek?
A willingness to exist free from dogmas and
orthodoxy of all varieties, and to laugh at life's violent
contradictions and absurdities.
And, what do you
hope the listener will get from Con Demek?
The listener/viewer is free to get whatever they
want out of Con Demek. We' re not on a mission to manipulate peoples'
minds. We just want to fuck with them a little bit.
OK, let' s go for
something more inane now ... What's the musical climate like where
you are, in general?
The area that we live in (generally known as the
'Capital District') has historically had a pretty reactionary musical
climate. The majority of the bands fall into two general groups:
those who are way behind the times and those that are total slaves to
trends. The area seems to be going through its 'grunge' thing now,
whilst five years ago it was the R.E.M. thing. Most musicians and
journalists in our area have always hated the kind of music we
create. There is, however, a small minority of bands that seek to do
unique things, which is good. One positive development is the
increasing enthusiasm for offbeat music. It seems that the younger
listeners are more open-minded and want to be challenged (Wish I
could say the same for those over here Ed.)- Five years ago, this
just wasn't the case. The bottom line for Con Demek is that we'll
continue to create, regardless of the cultural climate in our
locality. The music scene has never been an important motivational
factor for us.
Finally, lets have
a rundown of your plans, forthcoming releases and suchlike, please...
Right now we're finishing a full length video
which we hope to release sometime later this year. We're supposed to
have a track on a compilation CD on Isomorphic Records, from
California. Beyond that, we're still looking for a label to handle
our third full length release.