| Band: Opaq Face|
Interviewer: Julie Johnson
GC:= Grave Concern Question
JH:= Jeremy Herskowitz from Opaq Face
Band Name: OPAQ FACE
GC: What is the name of your band and who are the current members?
JH: Opaq Face is Rob Bishop (guitars) and Jeremy Herskowitz (vocals, keyboards).
GC: What are your musical influences?
JH: Bands such as Wolfsheim, Rotersand, and Smashing Pumpkins have been a major influence on my musical ideas. Older bands like Depeche Mode and New Order have been a constant influence since I was a teen. In addition, I find the songwriting of Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Trent Reznor inspiring.
GC: Tell us about your own unique style of music?
JH: The major focus of the band is to keep the music as honest as possible. We write songs that inspire us, and we use particular sounds that we enjoy, regardless if someone else thinks it sounds too retro or too simple or not electro enough. I think our music has a certain humility about it that sets it apart from other styles of electropop.
GC: What serparates your band from all the other bands out there?
JH: The obvious difference between Opaq Face and other bands is our extensive use of an acoustic guitar. Rather than only utilizing synth patches and layered percussion, Rob’s guitar provides a natural, organic rhythm that can only be achieved by this method. His guitar is an essential element of our sound as it provides a warm, honest texture in the midst of the digital, cold electronics.
GC: How do you go about writing songs?
JH: Writing a song is the most challenging aspect of music for me. Typically it takes me 6 months to a year to write a song. Usually I write 2 or 3 chord progressions on the piano that reflects whatever mood I’m in at the time. Then I’ll play the chords over and over for a couple of months and hope a lyric transcribes. I won’t move the song to the synth/computer until all the vocal melodies are intact.
GC: Pick one of your latest songs and talk about everything from writing it, meanings, the challenges of recording it?
JH: “Walk with God”, the 2nd track from our debut album “Close Enough”, was the last song written before production began on the CD. I had written the music for the song a couple of months before it was recorded, but I had not decided on the lyrical content. Personally I felt that the music was quite heavy, thus requiring vocals that complemented the mood of the sound. I had always wanted to write a song about death and essentially how to avoid this event. Unfortunately, I know I have little control over what will happen to me. And I suppose I am under the assumption that God has control over my fate? So, the purpose of the song was to place myself in this inevitable situation and attempt to elucidate what I would actually say or do.
GC: What was the hardest song to write and why?
JH: The most difficult song to write on “Close Enough” was “Alone”. I wrote the music and the first verse and chorus lyrics in October 2000. The song wasn’t complete until November 2003 when I finally wrote the second verse lyrics. That song is the most personal of the tracks on “Close Enough” and simply took years before I could communicate exactly what I wanted to say.
GC: What kind of recording environment do you have?
JH: We have our own private studio that utilizes both digital and analog interfaces. All of our synths, mics, and other instruments are recorded through a high end analog mixer which gives our tracks a signature “warm” sound. The music is mixed in the digital domain using a PC, however we usually prefer effects plugins modeled after classic analog equipment.
GC:How long did you spend on your latest effort?
JH: “Close Enough” took approximately 2 years to record and produce.
GC: How do you keep changing your music from album to album or plan to change it?
JH: The next album will place more emphasis on rhythm and voice. Each song will have its own personal groove, and the vocals will carry the majority of the melody/hook. For the synth parts, we are adopting the moto “quality over quantity”. We want to create sounds that are more atmospheric allowing the listener to focus on the vocals and rhythms.
GC: Do you have a personal favorite song, could be your own or other, and why?
JH: I think one of my favorite songs is “Enjoy the Silence”. I was 10 years old when I first heard that song. There was something curious and moving about it that I didn’t fully grasp until a few years later when I discovered underground music. I think its one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written.
GC: What is your latest news with the band?
JH: Currently, we are rehearsing for upcoming live shows which will feature all new renditions of songs from “Close Enough”.
GC: Where do you hope to be in 5 years with your band?
JH: Touring the world with an entourage of 70+ people and 7 tractor trailers with a luxury triple decked bus.
GC: How are people currently reacting to your music?
JH: A lot of people who don’t typically listen to synthpop have given me very positive feedback. In addition, we have received a very warm welcome from the underground community. However, in some instances its more of a “love or hate” type of reaction. Many synthpop fans quite enjoy the freshness of our guitar/synth fusion, whereas others find our sound too simplistic or too “Depeche Mode”.
GC: What would be the top 3 reasons for listening to your music?
JH: 1. We are attempting something new and working hard towards developing a unique sound. 2. An enormous amount of time and effort is spent on each song making sure it will be something that you need to hear. 3. If you listen to us now, then in a couple of years when our band is ruling the club circuit, you’ll be able to tell all your friends that you were listening to Opaq Face when they were a fledgling band.
GC: What is your best experience as a band?
JH: Hearing “And I” played for the first time at the Masquerade in Atlanta and watching people dance to it.
GC: What is most important to you in your band?
JH: Creating a sound that is unique and different from anything else and writing honest lyrics.
GC: What are you looking forward to most right now as a band?
JH: Getting free beer when we play shows.
GC: Do you have any band goals?
JH: Gaining a performance spot at an outdoor music festival, and that our music will support itself financially.
GC: Compilation experiences good or bad and why?
JH: “And I” was recently featured on the WET-WORKS VOL 5 compilation. That was a great experience. They gave us a lot of constructive feedback and kept an open mind concerning the content of the compilation.
GC: How did you end up in the dark underground scene?
JH: When I was a teenager I used to go to this club that played 80s music every Thursday. For most of the night the DJs would play cheesy 80s pop crap, but the last hour or so they would play more alternative music like Front 242, The Cure, and Nitzer Ebb. This was my initial exposure to underground music and after realizing how much I enjoyed it, I started attending the industrial/electro night they had at the club.
GC: What do you think of the current gothic/ EBM/ Industrial/ noise/ synthpop etc scence today?
JH: I think the scene is on the verge of a major change in sound. There is real pressure on bands to produce music that is “unique and different”. Everyone is tired of the ’99 – ’00 futurepop “saw wave” sound. We are listening for something new. Rotersand and Seabound are perfect examples of bands that are fusing multiple music styles with atypical, inspiring lyrics. The new VNV Nation album is another example of a major scene band attempting a new direction in hopes of bringing new fans into the genre.
GC: What is the hardest thing about being in a band for this genre?
JH: I find that much of the press, DJs, and fans in this genre have a difficult time taking a new band seriously unless they are signed to a label.
GC: What is most rewarding when it comes to your band?
JH: Hearing your song played in a club and watching people dance to it.
GC:What are some of your highlights as a band?
JH: For me, the two best highlights have been: 1. meeting so many new people through our music, and 2. just hanging out with Rob writing and recording music.
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