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Crack War


Fondé en 1995 par King Riff, c'est aujourd'hui Obscuratron, alias Jason Stamberger, qui mène Crack :WAR, groupe californien sonnant comme l'enfant - vénéneusement - naturel de Black Sabbath et Throbbing Gristle. En seulement deux albums, le disco morbido-industriel de l'étrange et mystique combo de San Francisco a été, logiquement, repéré par Tigerbeat6 puis Gigolo Records . Entre electro-goth grand guignol et " punktronica " cagoulée, l'univers musical de Crack :WAR, à base de piailleries punk, de rythmes électro pervers et d'assauts de bruit rose psychédélique, évoque Numbers et Adult. autant que Suicide et Cabaret Voltaire. Interview avec Jason Stamberger alias Obscuratron.

When and how was Crack:WAR born ? Why did you chose that particular name, does the WAR shall be understood as "we are rock", "war"or both ?
The band was originally the dribbling brainchild of former member King Riff, and existed as a rotating cast of fools and noise junkies, all freely improvised. but the current version began about 2.5 years ago because King Riff thought L'Erin and Le Kim were hot and he thought i knew how to use a mixer. he had some digital hardcore beats he had to get off his chest. ha ha ha

WAR is short for "we are rock", but it just worked out coincidentally. i think it adds a more sinister and violent aspect, which is present in the music at times. not everyone was happy with the abbreviated name, but then again, not everyone was too thrilled with "we are rock" either. so here we are.

Who are Crack WAR ? How would you introduce you and your characters ? Who does what in Crack WAR ?
I play synthesizer, beats and electronics. i like psychedelic music and travelling.
L'Erin sings and plays synths and bells. She designs clothes and does the graphics.
Le Kim sings and makes drum sounds. She also designs clothes and does the graphics.

We have very limited superpowers, and our characters are questionable as well. especially after we've tipped a few.

What are your connections with the San Francisco musical scene ? Obvious common points can be seen with the angry 4-to-the-floor rock of Numbers ... but comparisons can also be made with muscled disco-electro-rock of Gigolo . do you agree ? How did you happen to become part of the Tigerbeat6 crew ?
We share some aesthetics and motivation with a lot of other San Francisco musicians, but we also share beers, apartments, stages, drugs and probably a veneral disease or two with them. but there were a lot of bands that sort of popped up at the same time, and most of the good ones are still around. everybody here plays in everyone else's bands, so there are a lot of incestuous side projects involved. but not with our sisters or anything like that. and Numbers are buddies.

I'm not so sure that we have a lot in common with other Gigolo artists, at least in a philosophical sense. that tends to be more DJ/club-centric, where we are more of a band. and i haven't really heard too many parallels musically. although i do really like the Pink
Grease track from the Gigolo comp. but i wasn't too familiar with Gigolo until recently, outside of the Tuxedomoon reissue and a few scattered recordings. i just heard the new Hell record, some of which is really good. alan vega's on it, which can never be bad thing.

We hooked up with Kid606 and Tigerbeat6 originally on a social and housemate level, but he was a fan and offered to help us out, which he did, even taking us on the road with him. and the label has started putting out a wider variety of artists such as ourselves, Numbers and Total Shutdown, who are also good buds.

Apart from the trendy electro-clash influences ...
Ouch! I would have to argue that we don't have any "electroclash" influences, as what we've done together and separately has pre-dated and emerged concurrent with a lot of that. electroclash is a trademarked marketing idea. and we attack the idea from a different stance. although you could argue that there are some similarities with some of new electro music, like adult or dopplereffekt, especially on our earlier recordings. but we've moved on to other things.

... Crack WAR's aesthetics brings us back to post-industrial era (you sometimes sounds very vintage industrial noise ... kind of Throbbing Gristle) or sometimes further back to Krautrock myth or electrobeatniks in the mystic imagery you create and in your recycling and mixing of psychedelia and electronic. What are your main influences ? Are you aware of all these retro elements in your music/aesthetics ?
Well we are very aware of that, but i'm old enough to know better than to want to ape eighties techno-pop, much of which was pretty shitty in the 80's, let alone now. but what is exciting to me is to pick up where so much creative music from '75 to '82 left out when it was trampled and packaged and sold as new wave. modern music went into a heavy dry spell for 15 years, especially when it came to electronic rock or pop music. the transition from Fad Gadget to Kajagoogoo was rapid, and it was all downhill from there. so the goal of making adventurous, noisy, diseased electronic rock music was there from the start. it was a noise band that somehow became danceable and sing-along-able.

Both the music and the lyrics have moved in a more psychedelic direction, which is a direct reflection of what music two thirds of us listen to. So it was almost unavoidable. and it seemed to grow naturally from the more absurdist aspects of the earlier records, which were homages to cave love and deconstructions of disco lyrics. both the music and lyrics are more layered and dark.

How did you happen to issue this Animal Trap 12" on Gigolo ? Any other plans on this label?
Gigolo associate Tommie Sunshine became a fan, and he brokered the whole thing for us. we talked about doing something for a while, and the 12" was the result. we may do another single with them, and in the future, who knows. but we are really looking forward to meeting all of them this spring.

The "rock" dimension of Crack WAR , since "you are rock" , aren't you? should be really effective live. Do you often play live ? What is it like ... are you disguised ...
We really feel that the live show IS the band. it is something that is always on the verge of falling apart, which it often does. and playing everything live as opposed to laptops etc. makes it so it is different and wrong and confusing at every show. there is a more visceral approach to it, and more chaotic. it sometimes approaches a more Sun Ra plane, obviously not in the jazz sense, but in the layered chaos attacking and overwhelming the rhythm. but some people actually hate the live shows, although they like the recordings because they want to hear it clean and formal, not transmutated and slightly uncomfortable. some people are the
reverse. we like those people.

Between Silent Fantasy and Cosmic Mind Flight, there is a clear evolution towards more abstract structures and harsher sounds, will this tendency - if you see it as such - will be confirmed in your new/next works ?
Kind of hard to say. we have one new track, for a single on 333 Recordings, that takes the pastoral and creepy psychedelia to it's logical end, and it may be the "softest" thing we've done. but some more recent songs are tending towards bombast and doom, like Earth or Sleep playing disco.

What will be your next releases, by the way ?
The single on 333, a single on Gigolo, and hopefully a full-length by the end of summer. and there is a remastered, remixed vinyl version of Silent Fantasy coming out on Kimosciotic soon. it is a very different creature than the CD version, I feel.

Interview réalisée par Christophe Taupin

Crack:WAR on tour in Europe : details on

Discographie sélective :
Live in Africa 7" (Kimosciotic)
Silent Fantasy LP (Tigerbeat6)
Cosmic Mind Flight LP (Tigerbeat6)
Animal Trap Remix 12" (Gigolo)