Hello Citizen Anomaly and welcome to Brutal Resonance. Let’s do a warm-up question. What are three of your favorite albums of all time and why?
Max: Hey! First one for me would be “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails. Groundbreaking production and songwriting, and sheer emotional intensity. Always blows my mind. “The Fragile” by NIN is a close contender.
Another would be “ObZen” by Meshuggah. So many good tracks and classic moments, super heavy and mind-bending. Also “Lateralus” by Tool. This one influences in many ways, especially with the mind-expanding mystical metal explorations.
Dan: It is definitely tough picking just three, but I’m sure you get that as a response all the time! Since Max beat me to the punch by mentioning “The Downward Spiral”, I’ll instead have to say one of my favourite albums is “Year Zero” by Nine Inch Nails. That album in particular dropped at the peak of my angsty teen years and its heavily digitized soundscape often bleeds into how I approach my own music production.
Second would have to be Skinny Puppy’s “Last Rights”, which pried my mind’s eye open with a crowbar as to how far of a journey an audience could be taken (Especially when I heard the track “Download” for the first time, holy shit!). Whilst Strapping Young Lad was a mainstay in my younger years, Devin Townsend’s other projects have kept just as strong a hold on my interest as they always had. Because of that, my third album pick would have to be “Ocean Machine” by Devin Townsend, in particular tracks 10 to 12, but that whole album was often on loop when I took the hour-long train ride to the School of Audio Engineering back in 2011.
I know there are two of you in the band. Introduce yourselves and tell me what each of your duties are in Citizen Anomaly.
Dan: I’m Dan, aka ‘DANouncR’. For the most part, Max is definitely the song-writing powerhouse in the project. Otherwise, I do the bass, most of the synths, samples and cover the gaps with anything drums-wise. I’m also responsible for the mixing and production of the album overall.
Max: I’m Max, aka mIXAM, and I do the guitars, and some of the drum programming, with some synths and samples here and there.
Max, you were a student of Paul Wardingham, the instrumental cyber metal solo artist who’s signed to Enigmatic Records. What did you learn from him? What’s the one piece of advice he gave you that’s most important to your musical theory?
Max: I learnt a lot from Paul about guitar, songwriting, production and mindset. The best advice was “Good songwriting and creativity will always beat having high levels of technique. Technique is there to free your creativity from limitations.” Paul is a legit genius, and I am very grateful for everything he’s shared with me. One of the greatest musicians ever in my eyes.
So, let’s talk about your origins. You told me that you had no experience and a couple of laptops. What made you want to make music?
Dan: During high school our experience mostly amounted to random jams in each other’s garages, doing covers of Deftones, System of a Down and Metallica (At least as well as a bunch of 14 year olds could). During one jam in particular, one of us was messing around with a power-drill (Don’t ask me why!) and Max’s guitar pickups were close enough to send it through the amp. That moment in particular sparked my interest in music production, beyond simply jamming on the bass.
After graduating, it only made sense to me to join the School of Audio Engineering, getting a diploma. Soon after, Max and I built ourselves a reputation for being ‘travelling bards’ amongst our friends. We’d bring a laptop, a shitty little MIDI controller, Max’s guitar and portable amp to the trippier parties and always tried to make the weirdest sounds we could.
Now that we’re a little older, a little wiser and more settled down in life, we wanted to bring our work to the rest of the world.
Max: I’ve wanted to make music since I saw videos of Metallica playing live on the internet as a teen. Our high school friend group tried to form a band, but weren’t organized or dedicated enough at the time. When I found out about Nine Inch Nails being a one-man-band, being Trent Reznor mostly by himself, it gave me the inspiration to start making music without a band.
You are from Gold Coast, Australia. Tell me a little bit about the scene over there; is there a lot of places to dive into industrial music? How did you first hear the genre?
Max: There’s a few industrial or goth nights at venues here and there, but nothing major. I’d first heard industrial music when I heard Engel by Rammstein and really liked the electronic and rock fusion, it was something unique. Later I got into Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, NIN, Marilyn Manson & Skinny Puppy as a teen and explored the genre from there.
Dan: I don’t really think there’s an Industrial scene on the Gold Coast, the clubs basically play the Top 40 kind of stuff. I’d have to thank my older brother for dumping a metric tonne of random albums on me as a kid, that was how I even knew about alternative music to start with. I wasn’t into everything he gave me, but Marilyn Manson, Aphex Twin, A Perfect Circle, Tool and Nine Inch Nails stuck out from that pile the most. Being a geek with a decent enough internet connection paved the rest of the way, from forums to word-of-mouth, Max and I got into the habit of showing each other new bands and genres we’d find. It became pretty obvious we had a lot of common ground in all things industrial or even dark ambience, especially once we found the likes of Skinny Puppy, Throbbing Gristle and Coil.
And who came up with the name Citizen Anomaly? And what does it mean?
Max: I think I initially came up with it for a MySpace one-man-band project idea I had when I was 15 or something. It was a cool name though so it hung around for various demos me and Dan made in the following 10 years.
Dan: Max is definitely responsible for that one. We’re both huge fans of the Half-Life series of games, I believe the second one was released shortly before Max made the Citizen Anomaly page on MySpace. The dystopian themes of Half-Life 2 and the silly angst I had about life and authority as a teenager formed the perfect storm of approval in me when I heard the name “Citizen Anomaly”.
I liked it so much because it made me think of a small cog (aka a ‘citizen’) breaking the mould so drastically it had to be designated an ‘anomaly’ officially, which I guess my teenage self thought was kind of badass. Just about any old Guitar Pro project, midi file or demo we were involved in over the last decade or so since always had the name “Citizen Anomaly” and it only made sense to keep using it.
You’ve your debut album coming out on May 6th titled “The Paradoxic Project”. What does the title of the album stand for and how does it connect to the music?
Dan: The name and concept for the album’s theme was something I originally came up with during those train rides that I mentioned earlier. Travelling between two cities always gave me an aesthetic dose of their industrial sectors, leading to the outskirts and eventually the plains, fields and rivers in between.
“The Paradoxic Project” was a reference to the album’s first, original concept back in the day. It was originally based on the ‘paradoxical’ theme of forcibly man-handling reality, information and our environment to sustain a controlling domination over the lives of others, while also forgetting that life itself is innately wild and chaotic in nature. We also wanted to tie in a ‘paradox’ of fusing electronic/industrial elements with something like progressive metal, which is why the name stuck around since.
I understand that “The Paradoxic Project” is a concept album. What’s the story involved?
Max: The general concept is that humanity is somehow subjugated by machines and AI. They enter into a conflict with the machine and AI world, which in the end ultimately neither is the victor, but nature itself.
Dan: My original idea for the album’s concept back in 2011 was somewhat pretentious and definitely too ambitious. A double-sided theatrical concept album, of all things. It was going to be a story about a population of people confined to the most artificial and ‘man-made’ environment I could think of at the time: A self-sufficient cube-like structure of megalithic proportions. The inevitable creeping tendrils of nature and the world outside the ‘cube’ eventually seep into it, revealing itself to the previously ignorant population while also breaking down the structure around it, eventually inspiring a ‘civil war’ which results in a zero-sum.
Don’t worry, I don’t take myself so seriously these days!
We had since taken a huge step back and kept things way more general, basically how Max just described it. We wanted to now instead give a foundation of context and let the imaginations of our audience decide on the details, but you can still pick up on a few fragments and echoes of the original concept, here and there.
You both have side-projects as well. Dan as DANounCR and Max as mIXAM K-Ultra. Both of these are rap projects. What do you have planned for these projects and do they overlap into industrial music?
Dan: DANouncR is mostly a project that’s an output for the random electronic/hip-hop beats that I make in my spare time to throw onto Soundcloud now and then. While I mostly make instrumentals, I’ve also been listening to way too much MF DOOM and wrote a few rhymes of my own as a result. A lot of the time, I like to be a goof and not take things too seriously, which is the kind of space that DANouncR exists in. I’m always looking for any excuse to use mechanical samples, glitchy sounds and darker ambience though, so don’t be surprised if any DANouncR releases ends up having the same at least now and then.
Max: With mIXAM, I basically had to face the challenge that I wasn’t any good at rapping. So I did a 30-track challenge where I’d learnt and covered 30 rap verses of various difficulty to make me better at rapping. It certainly worked, but I am not done yet. There are sonic boundaries to push in rap, and I am definitely looking to mix it with the industrial sound - so expect to hear something from me later this year.
Lastly, I’d like to thank you for your time. I leave the space below free for you to mention anything I may have missed. Cheers!
Max: Thank you very much for having us and thank you to everyone who has supported us and supported this project. This first release is a trilogy of releases, with the other 2 coming later this year. They will be taking these ideas to a whole different level, with darker and heavier themes.
Dan: Thanks for letting me ramble about our album! I also want to thank everyone who checks out The Paradoxic Project, even if you don’t end up loving it. I’m still always grateful that you took the time to listen. No matter what, we’ll always be playing and experimenting with our sound and the places it can take its audience and we can’t wait to show you the depths we reach in our second release: Mag’yorlith.
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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