LEBENDEN TOTEN are from Portland, USA and play distorted to fuck noisecore punk heavily influenced by bands like CONFUSE, GAI and DISORDER. Formed in 2001 by ex-members of ATROCIOUS MADNESS the band have since gone on to release numerous 7"s and 12"s. The following interview was conducted with Frank by letter in 2006 and was originally published in Agitate #7.
Can you give us some band history? How did LEBENDEN TOTEN come about? Who plays what?
Can you give us some band history? How did LEBENDEN TOTEN come about? Who plays what?
Frank: LEBENDEN TOTEN started sometime in 2001 while Chanel and I were still in ATROCIOUS MADNESS. We wanted to have a band that was more DISORDER/CONFUSE than what we were doing. Randy had a drum set and Brie had a bass, so that's how it started. Chanel switched to vocals and me to guitar.
What's the story behind the name? What does it mean?
Frank: All it means is "living dead". It's from the German poster for "Night Of The Living Dead". I thought it sounded good and I love zombie movies. It could mean something more profound, but really that's all it is. It's grammatically incorrect in the German language though. Oh well.
How would you describe LEBENDEN TOTEN's sound? When you started did you have a set idea on what you wanted the band to sound like? What bands would you list as influences?
Frank: Oh yeah, we knew exactly what we wanted to sound like. As I said above, DISORDER and CONFUSE were and are main influences, but all the bands that could be called "noisecore" can be included. Mainly Japanese ones like GAI, DISLIKE, STATE CHILDREN, EXPOSE, DUST NOISE, SCUM etc... but also CHAOS UK. When people ask what we sound like I usually say it's faster noisier DISORDER, which is a bit accurate. I like the term "noisecore" but sometimes it sounds like you are an experimental noise band with computers or something.
What other bands have you all played in? Are any of you currently playing in additional bands now?
Frank: Chanel - ATROCIOUS MADNESS. Randy - BACTERIA. Brie - MIDNIGHT. Frank - ATROCIOUS MADNESS, FUNERAL. None of us are doing anything else right now.
Can you tell us about your latest EP "Dead Noise"? What kind of response have you been getting?
Frank: I guess we got a good reponse since it sold out. The two pressings were actually done at the same time, but one version (green vinyl with lyric translation sheet) was only available in Japan through Overthrow Records. That was 400 copies, but only 350 were for sale. I heard they sold out in two weeks, which sounds pretty quick. The other version was black vinyl and there are 600 copies. We are basically sold out of those as well. Some people said it was better than the first one, but others say the demo is the only good thing we did. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Really there is only a small amount of punks that would probably like it. I don't think we have a universally appealing sound, and some people just think we suck.
What are the lyrics to the song "Dead Noise" about?
Frank: Chanel wrote those and she is unavailable for comment, so I'll take my best shot at it. It's actually about a couple of things, which is surprising since there are only five lines in the song. The most obvious is the use of subliminal messages in the media. But not only the use of hidden sounds or images that are buried underneath what's put forward. It also means the use of symbolism and trigger words that activate a comprehension of what you are seeing or hearing that is on a different level than what your processing. I don't exactly mean subconsciously though. It's more of a different mindset that has been "programmed" to respond when activated. A very simple example is that when you become aware of "product placement" in films, you notice much more and break it down as such. That is on a very base level, and part of what "Dead Noise" is about is something much more subtle. Go see Videodrome for an understanding of how we are processed, "Time to change the program". But the song is also about a continous agenda from the past that is based on mass control. With the changing of leaders the agenda from the past that is based on mass control. With the changing of leaders the agenda stays the same, even if their public faces and pet causes differ, they are still playing out roles and goals set down by men long dead.
What about the song "Vacant Stare"? Can you go into more detail about that song?
Frank: Again, this is Chanel's song, but here goes. It's talking about how we are living in a reality defined by external influence. People living a zombified life who's basis of thought is made solid by what they are exposed to daily. The theme of which is that we are kept in a state of mind that is designed to keep us docile and moving like worker ants. Also, that world events can be the product of fabrications and disinformation, but are made reality by the majority of people believing the story. This effects everyone, even those not plugged in to the consensus reality. Even if you don't believe that men walked on the moon or the official story of Sept 11th, that is the world you live in. "Vacant Stare" is also about how people react to living in this falsified reality. That we are kept in a state of panic and fear and that people who live this way are acting it out on others. We are Orwells "Big Brother".
Do you get to play many gigs? What bands have you played with? Any plans for a European tour?
Frank: We play pretty often, mostly with other local bands. It seemed we played at least once a month, but that increases and decreases as well. We've played twice in California and couple of times in Seattle, but mostly just local shows. REALITY CRISIS, DISCLOSE, GORILLA ANGREB, DSB, FORWARD, RIISTETYT, DESOLATION... are some of the out of town bands we've played with. No plans for a European tour, but it would probably happen sooner than a US one.
Can you give us a brief Portland-City scene report? Any cool bands, zines etc we should know about?
Frank: As brief as possible. There are lots of cool bands, and minimal scene divisions. Of course if you talked to someone else they would say something completely different. DEATHCHARGE, HELLSHOCK, DOG SOLDIER, ASSASSINATE, DEADLY ULTRA SOUND (ex BOMB HEAVEN), ROTTEN CADAVER (ex RELIGIOUS WAR / BLOOD RUNS RED), THE CHAOTIC, WAR CRY, TRAGEDY... those are the bands that are more "hardcore" or "crust" or "anarcho" or whatever. But there are bands like THE CLOROX GIRLS, OBSERVERS, FLIP TOPS, TRIGGERS, ANTI-WORLD, DISGRUNTLED, TWENTY TO ONE, REJECTED DEAD and probably thirty more I can't think of. Most bands play shows together and there are a lot of younger punks coming to underground / DIY shows now. Of course there are still the older bands like POISON IDEA, SADO NATION, DEAD MOON...
What is it like living in Portland as far as the scene is concerned? What do you like and dislike about the Portland-City punk scene?
Frank: The things I don't like are the same things that every scene has a problem with: lack of all ages spaces, idiots ruining the few we do get, crappy people... that kind of thing. For the most part I really like the bands and the scene as a whole. A lot of punks have moved here in the last few years, which has been good and bad, but in the end it doesn't really matter. All my favourite US bands are here and it's an easy city to live in with lots of forest around it, good record and book stores, and great vegan food. I wouldn't live anywhere else in the US.
What fucks you off the most about the current political climate in the US? What do you see happening next in Bush's "War Against Terrorism"?
Frank: Well, what pisses me of the most is that people see Bush as an actual decision maker, and leader. He is neither, merely a puppet with very long strings. The longer people see this country and this world led by these faces the more fucked we become. I hate Bush too, and he's easy to make fun of and a perfect stand in for criticism of the disease of politics. But we also need to start recognizing the fundamental corruption of the system, democracy included. It doesn't matter what party or person is in control, because they are just forwarding an agenda and furthering the idea that we need someone in CONTROL. The sad fact is is that too many people do need to be controlled, even crave it and beg for it. So few people are willing to be responsible in their lives and slip into the reality of debt, work, and living without being alive. As for the war on terror... I see it continuing in a stream of tricks, lies, and set ups, followed by the sowing of fear and distrust, and then solutions benefiting law makers, corporations, and war profiteers that are friendly to world government. Expect more "liberties" and "rights" to be completely destroyed and more engineered disasters to decimate the population and leave us begging for help.
What's next for LEBENDEN TOTEN? Any new releases planned? What about a full length album?
Frank: Our 12" just came out on Wicked Witch from Holland. There is also a 4 way split 12" of Portland bands DOG SOLDIER, LEBENDEN TOTEN, ASSASSINATE and HELLSHOCK that is available from Hardcore Holocaust. Somewhere down the line is "Portland vs Tampere Part 2" with us, DOG SOLDIER, DEADLY ULTRA SOUND and more.
What's on your turntable at the moment? What bands are you currently listenning to?
Frank: Right now is the RUTHLESS "Metal Without Mercy" 12", a classic. The stack of records next to the turntable consists of SISTERS OF MERCY, RAINBOW, IRON MAIDEN, DISORDER, VELOCET, 1919, DEATH IN JUNE and AGENT STEEL. Oh wait! I mean DISCHARGE and CONFUSE...
DISCLOSE or FRAMTID?
Frank: Ha! Uh...
Anything else you want to say or feel needs to be addressed?
Frank: Despite rumours, we have not broken up! But we can't really do anything while our singer is in Russia and our bassist is in New York. More to come in 2006, if there is a 2006. Distort Truth Distort Minds!
LEBENDEN TOTEN c/o PO Box 40113, Portland-City OR, 97240-0113, USA.