Scorn interview

Originally published in ‘zine issue #11, 1994

Scorn is a band from England that has some famous members from the grindcore scene. Of course, Scorn is about the farthest thing from that sort of sound one can think of these days. The new album, Evanescence, is a lot different from the band’s previous material, but so are all the other records different. Here the man behind the madness, Mick Harris, has a few things to say. 

D.U.: How is everyone taking to the new album?

Mick: Oh, fine. Earache seems to be working a lot hard—well, God, I’ll be honest. They did nothing with Vae Solis, they did nothing with Colossus. Which is a shame because we’re as happy with those recordings as with the new one. Obviously, our new one is gonna be our favorite because it’s the last thing we fucking recorded, but they seem to be behind this one. In England and Europe, it’s gone down really well. I can’t say it’s a major success—I’m not looking for that with Scorn, I don’t expect it to be, but people have finally discovered Scorn, and a lot of people think that Evanescence is our first record, y’know what I mean. They don’t know anything about the background of Scorn. But yeah, things are going quite well.

How are you guys gonna pull off the songs live these days?

It’s not a problem, y’know what I mean. We play to a backing dat tape, for starters, which is the backbone of Scorn songs. It’s just the backbeats and sequences put down to a backing tape. On top of that, the bass is 100 percent live, the vocals are 100 percent live, the guitar is 100 percent live, and on top of that, the loops are live. A lot of extra samples are thrown in on top. Now, on stage, there’s just two people. Nick’s on stage and Jimmy’s on stage—Jimmy Plotkin, who plays guitar for the band. He’s American. Nick shows super 8 films as visuals, which work really well. Because, basically, where we say “live,” it’s live as much as we can make the music live, but it’s not like people running around on stage, sort of thing. It’s very still. And I’m behind the board controlling the whole thing and also manipulating the whole sound in general and then adding a lot of loops and live samples on top of it. So it’s a decision that we came to, obviously. See, I used to play drums in Scorn. We just had a meeting between me and Nick, and I said, “Look, I just wanta be in control of the sound. I can’t trust sound engineers anymore with our sound, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s as important as what the playing is for us to feed off each other.” So we put it to the test, and it works perfect. It’s just a perfect show for us, I mean, the sound and the visuals.

Artwork showing the Scorn lineup

What ever happened with Pat McCahan, anyway?

Yeah, we tried Pat, a friend of mine, and it just didn’t work. Pat’s style was just too rigid, it was too straightforward. Pat likes to play straightforward chords in a more rock-orientated style, and we just wanted a more loose, psychedelic-sounding guitar. So that’s why Nick ended up playing guitar on Colossus. I was sort of half-happy with what we were getting, guitar wise, on that LP, so I approached Jimmy for this record. We just let Jimmy improvise in the studio. We just ran the tapes, and it fuckin’ turned out perfect.

Are you still doing the Painkiller thing?

Yeah, we just done a new record. It’s titled Execution Ground, and it’ll be coming out on Subharmonic Records, which is through Caroline in America. We recorded it two months ago, so it’s got a pretty quick three-month turnaround, which is really good news, and it’s a double pack. It’ll be coming out as two CDs, and what can I say? It’s Painkiller, we just took it further, and I think it’s the best thing we’ve done so far.

What do you mean when you say you took it further?

We just took it further, y’know what I mean. It’s like, we’ve just brought in a lot more ideas, and we’ve just really fucked it up. We’ve just took it even further than what it is. It’s still 100 percent improvised. This time we just also did some loop tracks as well, where we actually looped drum patterns, threw it in, and then jammed again on top of that. So it’s still, everything is improvised, y’know what I mean, there’s nothing really worked out. Okay, the loops are worked out: you’ve got to obviously record them, you’ve got to sample them, loop them up, throw them on a sequencer, and then record them back to tape. It only took two days to record again, it was just an in-and-out procedure, and it worked. It’s a spontaneous effort from all three of us, with Oz the engineer, because really, as far as I’m concerned, Painkiller’s a four-way effort. Without Oz, the sound engineer, who goes out live with us and has done all the records so far, it wouldn’t be Painkiller. I’m really excited with this new record. It’s nice, we’ve just took it further, and it’s interesting. It’s Painkiller. That’s all I can say. It’s a mixture of the first two records with a lot of new stuff thrown into it.

Artwork showing the Scorn lineup

So what do you want people to get out of Scorn? Is it just for them to enjoy it, or is there something more than that?

Just enjoy it, you know what I mean. Scorn is just something, for me, that people can listen to and get a lot out of. It’s something people can move their bodies to, if they want to. You can dance to it, because the grooves are there. I dunno. For me, I get 100 percent pure pleasure from it, whether it’s listening or dancing. There’s no messages within anything Scorn has got to say. It’s purely music from our hearts and what we feel for, and I think that’s essential. It’s prob’ly why there’s so much shit music around nowadays, because people don’t think of it that way. They’re just straight out there to make a dollar, and that’s what most people are concerned about. I think music over the years has gotten worse. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve got old, or [pause] I dunno. I just analyze music a lot more. I don’t think we’re doing anything fuckin’ more special than anybody else. I just feel and I know that we’re doing it because we believe in it. There’s no other reason before that. I think that’s positive. ■

Photos: Scorn (courtesy Earache)


One Reply to “Scorn interview”

  1. Great interview I hardly read anything on SCORN back in the day… Now am curious to read bout the conversation about Painkiller !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.