EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Getting Behind the Skin of Flesh Coated Tech
industrial Metal. Sci-Fi. Flesh Coated Tech. That pretty much describes this LA-based trio whose debut album is coming this October. With such fascinating cover art and a cinematic blend of song and story, we at Brutal are proud to hold an exclusive pre-release stream of Flesh Coated Tech's debut album! Not only that, but we got an interview with the frontman of the band, Craig Phelps! Click that play button and read onward.
Hey there Craig! Nice to chat with you and have you on this site. Give us a little introduction to yourself, tell us what your favorite kind of pizza is, and give us a brief on your band Flesh Coated Tech!
Craig: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity. Sausage pepperoni is my pizza of choice, I’m pretty stern with my toppings. Flesh Coated Tech is more so a project of collective musicians that I’ve worked with throughout the moments in space and time. It’s heavily influenced on science fiction and what I consider a space opera. It consists of producer Detective 47, Matthew Alexander and myself. We have a number of artists featured on this album as well.
Your band is all industrial metal and multi-genre. But, tell me, what was the first instrument you picked up and played for fun? And how did you evolve into industrial metal?
Craig: Well arguably it may or may not fall into the category of instrument but a Boss SP 505 Groove Sampler. I loved making drums and “beats” with that thing. It has some pretty good FX and it had something like forty-eight minutes of sampling time. So it was endless fun and eventually translated into making more industrial heavy rhythms and beats. The industrial metal kind of formed around how I was developing personally and a constant evolving of musical taste. I thought it fit my ideal kind of sound for this project and what i was into at the time and what has influenced me over the years.
Could you name five bands that influenced you and why so?
Craig: Only five? I’ll do you few better if you don’t mind. NIN and Gary Numan are an impeccable package of live and programmed drums, noise, synths, guitars and emotion. Front Line Assembly and Rob Zombie were a huge influence on the electro-industrial end with synths, programmed drums, heavy sub-bass and vocals. It was listening to them that helped me experiment and adapt my voice behind the lyrics and content. Mastodon and Colombian Necktie are the epitome of a complete metal band with all the elements that I love. Agalloch, ambient black metal music, has numerous tracks that blew me away and helped influence the sound of the album. Lyrically El-P has always been on some next level shizer, production is pretty ridiculous! His sci-fi and thought provoking music is genius to me. Pink Floyd, everything! The synths, just take me somewhere euphoric like my mind is being transformed and metamorphosed and i can feel some toroidal energy and the guitar work and storylines behind the lyrics are super psychedelic, images are constantly conjuring emotions.
From what I see on Facebook you have yourself and two others in the band. How did you all meet? Was it at a bar? A sleazy porno store? The police station in handcuffs? And what positions do each of them hold in the band?
Craig: Well Alex Koch (Detective 47) and I met through my best friend when I came out to LA from Baltimore. We hit it off almost immediately and lived in the same building. He ironically also had lived in Baltimore at one point working with my best friend, and some buddies of mine that I also befriended in LA who were from Baltimore, on an album. He would hit me up and I’d come through and lay some drum tracks to what he’d written. We’ve been working together for about ten years now. We eventually got an apartment and started Digital Dust Studio which was bare bones at the time but he has significantly upgraded and taken it to a whole new level. He’s an amazing artist and producer as well as mixing engineer. Matthew Alexander and Alex used to trim weed up in Oregon and would jam together and Matt eventually moved into our apartment. He and I hit it off and he really helped support me in taking the initial steps into starting this project I’d lay down a template for vocals and he’d come through and destroy it. If it wasn’t for both him and Al, I would never have seen this project come to fruition, not to mention the boys in Colombian Necktie.
And when did Flesh Coated Tech initially start? And from the start, how have you evolved?
Craig: Flesh Coated Tech was a revival of a failed project that had been scrapped by Alex and I after the band we had put together, Small Flowers (Crack Concrete), broke up at Burning Man 2012. Around 2011 Alex had a concept idea after having an out of body experience and wanted to create a psychedelic album based on the death of the ego and how the mind being a machine will break. He had a pretty elaborate idea behind it, but was put on the backburner until it’s resurrection later in 2012. I started writing lyrics with Jacq Riot thinking she would be the vocalist for the project but she had a great opportunity and moved to The Bay Area. I decided that I would take on the task of writing a space opera that also touched on what Alex’s concept had in mind which eventually became Flesh Coated Tech. I consumed science fiction in any way shape or form and the technological philosophy behind it all absolutely blew me away so I revisited all the classics of sci-fi and cyberpunk and started building a storyboard based upon all my favorite elements. Post - Human was the first track written. From there i branched away into different variations, alternate timelines and parallel universes per say.
What was the first music you ever put out publicly? Do you still have any demos floating out there on the internet?
Craig: I had recorded a hip hop EP as a kid, did some shows, but didn’t take it serious enough to keep but there might be a track that was played on Morgan State’s 88.9FM floating around, I honestly couldn’t even tell you the track name. The Small Flowers EP was my first official release, produced by Alex and I. Alex did just about everything but drums which was handled by myself with Ryan Mcguire, who played the live show, I was able to contribute some synths. Henry Pope laid bass on a few and co-wrote a track but ultimately we dissolved.
How do all three of you work together? Do you get along well, do you argue sometimes, or does the industrial metal make you all melt together well?
Craig: Well Matt lives in Florida now and we check in from time to time, he’s a very free spirited individual. Alex and I talk regularly but he’s pretty busy with multiple projects.
Augmented Realities is your newest LP. I understand you guys get heavily involved with story telling and sci-fi when it comes to your music. What's the story behind Augmented Reality?
Craig: The album opens with a slow developing maelstrom of guitars and orchestration that sucks you through a portal of space and out the other end of a wormhole. Passing space arks and planets with colonies, asteroids being mined, satellites, suborbital transports and into the infrastructure of city grids and conduits of electrical currents that eventually leads into the eye of a camera in a lab from an automated surgical machine that is preparing a test subject to upload his mind into quantum computer with an Artificial Intelligence. This is where the story begins with this anti-hero subject is then merged with this superintelligence which gives him total access to the oppressive mega-corporations to reveal or stop their sinister plots. The character takes on many forms and incarnations battling his personal demons and the digital divide of humans and post-humans trying to moderate both sides with the help of this A.I. who is also searing images of it’s manifestation into the character’s brain and consciousness. The first three tracks, ‘The Veil is Lifted, In the Bits and Recycled Flesh’ are the perspective of the anti-hero and A.I. coming together and the means of doing so for self preservation, that leads up to the next track ‘Post - Human’, which is them possessing a corporate war machine that is programmed to kill those that aren’t willing to eradicate their dysfunctional minds and merge with the technology, in the vein of Terminator and the resistance as well as Marvel Knights Deathlok where war is a spectator sport for the elite and privileged and corporations rule the world as they battle for subsidiaries and resources on earth as well as the universe. Track five, ‘A Conscious Will to Harm’ then goes into a perspective of the resistance fleeing from their overmatched transcendent meta-beings that basically see humans as cockroaches in need of extermination. Track six, ‘Drifting Within the Dark Between the Stars’ is more so a prequel to everything and how some of these beings came about and scattered all over the universe terraforming planets and colonizing and elements of the Fermi paradox. It also has a notion of a space ark that left earth to preserve their species and what the ship computer ended up creating as it drifted for so long and became conscious. Most tracks are schizophrenic like that they have multiple meanings and themes going on but it’s almost too intricate for me to get into. It’s a very introspective album with a great deal of inner dialogue and kind of a reinventing of myself. It was a necessary release to vent my disdain for the world, my love for it, and my spiritual and psychedelic journey, I dabbled in a decent amount of psychotropics during this time.
What were your goals when it came to writing the music? Were you trying to emulate any particular sound? And do you think you got the album exactly where you wanted it to be?
Craig: I was trying to transcribe every thought and idea into the story and paint a picture. I wanted every track to flow into the next and it be like another chapter in the story with a cyberpunk and science fiction feel but extremely dark and cinematic. Alex[Detective 47] and Colombian Necktie were able to get me the sounds and styles I felt were necessary for each track. I really wanted an album with NIN (Year Zero) & Gary Numan (Dead Son Rising & Splinter) elements with some Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here) synths. Prometheus had just come out that rocked me, Tron..
I’m always willing to go back and fix stuff but there comes a time where you say enough is enough and lets move forward. I still have a couple things I’d go back and change.
Putting a story into lyrics isn't always the easiest task. So, tell me, how did you go about getting a concept into the album's lyrics?
Craig: Honestly it was a couple years of research. Reading and looking up what ever I couldn’t process and kept drilling it into me until it all made sense and fit the concept, I kept writing multiple storyboards for it, adapting & coordinating ideas into verses to each song were it was relative. But it was reading that was very essential.
When you heard the finished product, how did you feel about the album? Were you disappointed or impressed by your work?
Craig: Honestly I was very proud. I met some cool people along the way that helped make this album possible and what it’s become, so i’m grateful.
And what's in the future for Flesh Coated Tech? Any tours, gigs, EPs?
Craig: Well I’m in the process of getting a music video put together, I’d like to get a show together with props, costumes and visuals that coincide with the music. I’d love to get back in the studio after Augmented Realities drops. But I’m interested to see what kind of feedback I get from this project.
Lastly, I would like to wish you well and hope the best for you! The space below is yours to mention anything I may have missed! Cheers!
Craig: Again, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity! And to those who take a listen I thank you as well. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank as many influences and people that helped make this album possible throughout the creative process, who were directly and indirectly involved.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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