Interview: Essential Tremors’ Code KNR Discusses Discorporation LP

Interview: Essential Tremors’ Code KNR Discusses Discorporation LP

The post-punk outfit Essential Tremors released their Discorporation LP this week via Nashville’s TRAM Planet Records. Led by bassist/vocalist Code KNR, he is also joined on the record by fellow synth players Tan and Reid Only Memory, with Pop 1280’s Ivan Drip contributing guitar work on the track, “Insektoid Quarantine.” Following up Essential Tremors’ 2016 LP The Visitor, out on Jack White’s Third Man Records, the band’s debut long-player is a self-recorded effort. Combining eerie synth-wave with dangerously addictive basslines, and Code KNR’s bleak vocal delivary, Discorporation sounds like a dire warning from some apocalyptic near-future. Intrigued, Live Eye Tv decided to peek behind the curtains, and our recent correspondence with Code KNR revealed that the musician had just relocated from Nashville to Los Angeles. While he reports that he plans on continuing the project, Discorporation might stand as the final statement from the Tennessee chapter of the group–though, only time will tell. You can read a record of our correspondence below…

LETV: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about your upcoming release, Discorporation. The title points immediately to the fact that these tracks are darkly tuned–a warning, maybe. But, before I ask you about the album’s underlying conceptual bent, let’s cover the who, where, and how that went into making this record. Can you tell us who played on Discorporation and some of the instrumentation involved? Also, where were these tracks recorded and was Daniel Tomczak involved again, like on your first EP release, The Visitor?

Code KNR: Hi, I’m Code KNR. I play bass, synths and sing. Tan played synths and did all of the programming for rhythms, sequences and recorded most of the album. Reid played synths. Ivan Drip from Pop 1280 played guitar on “Insektoid Quarantine.” The bulk of the recording was made with a Roland TR-606, Roland SH-101 and Korg Minilogue. Other random things used were an Oberheim DX, Mattel Synsonics, Arp Axxe, Korg MS-20 mini, Moog Taurus, Flower Electronics Little Boy Blue, and a plastic tube. Tan and I had to make recording fit our schedules since we both work full time and I was going to school full time as well, so we recorded at our houses on Garageband and kept the tracks on thumb drives and traded them back and forth. Running low on funds and time, along with having sporadic schedules kept us from recording Discorporation with anyone else, so Daniel Deleted was not involved.

LETV: How did the band handle the writing of material on Discorporation? Was it a group effort, or was one member more responsible for the writing? How about regarding lyrics? When do they come in the process of writing a track and who is responsible for that part?

Code KNR: I write the lyrics and most of the music and Tan writes most of the synth leads. I hate writing lyrics and put that off until the last possible moment

LETV: The record’s title seems to have multiple layers of meaning or implication. It might imply a resistance to the corporatization of nearly every aspect of our economic/social reality, or it might be seen as a pun on the Latin root “corporatio”–“to assume a body”–and thus might be heard as “gothic”/existential warning about the corporeal nature of existence. Without asking you to unpack the title specifically, I’m curious how thematics might underpin the writing of the record. Did you have the title in mind when writing, or does the naming come about after? Do thematics arise on their own, or do you go into sessions with a certain idea–or mood?

Code KNR: I thought it would just be self-titled for the longest time, but I was reading “Stranger in a Strange Land” when we finished the album, and in that book, the term “discorporation” is something similar to what humans refer to as death or a departure from the body of some kind. At that point one of the members of the band had quit, we had recorded parts of it separate from each other, and I knew the band in its current incarnation was coming to an end, so the title seemed fitting. I love science fiction, and I’ve suffered from severe depression and anxiety since I was a boy, so everything thematically is filtered through those things

LETV: The songs on Discorporation are driven by melodic and rhythmic elements but they also use a good deal of noise to add industrial ambiance. Similarly, your recent podcast mix for TRAM Planet moved between the poppier elements of vintage synth wave bands like Roni Griffith and Bad Boys Blue, as well as the harsher electronics of noise artists like Mauthausen Orchestra and NON. During the writing of a song, how do you guys deal with these seemingly different urges–the desire for melody and rhythm as opposed to more abstract, noise-driven strategies. The songs on Discorporation seem to balance those urges, but I’m curious if that is ever experienced as a “tension” during the writing process.

Code KNR: As far as the mix goes, we each took turns playing one track each. Tan is a big Hi NRG and Italo fan, Reid loves super harsh power electronics, and I picked the weird post-punk songs. The songs writing process always starts as a bass riff, then a synth lead and a vocal melody after–so the melody and rhythm come first. The noisy parts just come where they fit naturally.

LETV: On the surface, Nashville seems a good distance musically from where the band is at. In addition, it looks like you guys have played your last show and that Discorporation will be the band’s final musical statement. If that’s true, what was it like trying to be creative in a locale that seems so different? Was it motivating in any way, or ultimately a hindrance to doing your thing?

Code KNR: Nashville is definitely a good distance from anything culturally that I wanted to be around, so I moved to Los Angeles last week. I love my friends there, and some of them are doing some great things, but Nashville made me completely miserable. Being surrounded by horrible pizza party rock and hipster Americana motivated us to do something new, which I guess is good, but we would have rather not been subjected to that shit in the first place. Nashville is very safe and friendly, so it’s very easy for almost anyone to do their thing without fear of criticism, and as long as you’re ahead in the popularity contest and don’t rock the boat too much, people will come to your shows and smoke cigarettes outside the venue while you play, but that’s not very interesting now is it?

LETV: Any idea of what’s next for members of Essential Tremors?

Code KNR:
Tan: www.tanus.bandcamp.com

Reid: www.harvest.team

I want to continue doing ET here in LA if I can find the right people to play with.

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