Neurotics Never Know
A Chat with Neurosis' Dave Edwardson
by: Adrian Bromley
Being a musician is not an easy task; working hard trying to channel your thoughts and feelings onto an album. Living in this world is hard enough and some have to make sacrifices and decisions to stay true to their beliefs. In return it'll tend to make you a stronger person and/or leave some serious dents in your psyche. Welcome to the scarred world of Neurosis. For ten years, Oakland's Neurosis have managed to survive the growth period of the band, since 1987's _Pain Of Mind_, and deliver some real obscure, versatile stylings that have gone from punk to metallic anarchy. The band has shaped its sound through the release of several offerings such as _The Word As Law_ (1990), _Souls At Zero_ (1992), and _Enemy Of The Sun_ (1993). After _EotS_, the band took time out to record an album entitled _Silver Blood Transmission_ with their side project Tribes Of Neurot, an ambient noise offering, which saw their album released via Relapse Records/Release Entertainment. The band - made up of bassist Dave Edwardson, guitarist Scott Kelly, drummer Jason Roeder, vocalist/guitarist Steve Von Till, and keyboardist/sampler Noah Landis - eventually signed to Relapse and have just released their latest album, _Through Silver In Blood_. While following along the same direction as the band's previous works with an aggressive outbreak of emotions, this time the band has become a bit more spiritual and reflective with regards to their songwriting and music. The music found on _TSiB_ shows how the band has edged towards trying to get some kind of inner respect for their music as well as blowing the speakers apart. Neurosis bassist Dave Edwardson spoke recently with CoC about their debut album on Relapse, the fans of the band, and the importance of technology within music. Here is what he had to say:

CoC: Neurosis has been around for some time now. What is behind the band's longevity? What fuels the fire and keeps you guys interested in the music you create?

Dave Edwardson: Well ... the brotherhood between us is pretty equal and intense, and the fact that our perspective as far as a project like Neurosis goes always gets better, because we grow older and wiser and have more input. We get a clearer idea of what we do each time we do it, to the point where it is so natural and it is never forced. It just flows out of us working together and it is quite magical at this point. We are finding it easier and to us we are getting better and the ability to communicate is growing each time. Until it doesn't get any better, we'll keep doing this.

CoC: What ideas and strategies went into the process of setting apart _Through Silver In Blood_ from your other works?

DE: The process was a lot more natural and that was something that we had started to experience on the last record. We didn't have to be more cerebral, we could actually be more gut with the way it came out and trusting the engineer we were working with.

(The band recorded the album with producer Billy Anderson (Sick Of It All, The Melvins, EYEHATEGOD) at Brilliant and A Different Fur Studios in San Francisco)

DE: We basically knew what we were going for. I'd say this record is more of an epic undertaking than the last one. We know how to get a lot more out of one note these days and we are a lot more trance-oriented in our music as far as wanting it to be overwhelming and aggressive but at a constant flow. We were trying to develop a record that was like one song that actually means more from the beginning to the end than it does individually.

CoC: How did you hook up with Relapse?

DE: We originally encountered them when we were looking for a label for our Tribes of Neurot side-project and they were first to be interested, so we went with them. We were impressed with the enthusiasm they had for the Neurot stuff, and for them it must have been like a small release, but they did more advertising for us than our previous label (Alternative Tentacles) had done with a Neurosis record and we needed to grow as a band. AT is a great label and they work hard, but they don't necessarily want to be a competitive label and they don't have to. That is where they are at. They helped us out, and we are pleased at that, but we need to grow to survive and it seemed kind of a nice way to grow while staying independent. When Relapse got Neurosis, their enthusiasm shot through the roof and all of a sudden we are top priority and that means a lot to us.

CoC: And I guess that push is exactly what you are looking for as a band, right?

DE: Exactly. This band is our whole life. Our souls go into this band and we needed this kind of enthusiasm to let us know that people still feel we are a priority.

CoC: Has the band's songwriting had to adjust to the change in decades and musical trends? Have you been influenced by things that happen around you?

DE: Not in music. Our perspective adjusts to what is going around in the world and we keep developing a bit and being a bit more farther away from a political stance to a more spiritual one which also has to do with our personal lives and with the personal self-growth we have taken upon ourselves. I don't know if that affects the songwriting much, but having Noah join (a longtime friend from Christ On Parade) with the same mindset made all the songwriting more natural. We all have input and all write together. About our music and feelings, we understand less and less why it comes about.

CoC: Have you ever intentionally played music a certain way or wrote songs to please the public? Has it always been personal?

DE: It has always been personal. Strictly personal. We could give a fuck what anyone else thinks. It sounds like a cliche statement but when you put your full emotion into anything you couldn't care less what anyone else thinks. We really want to be raw when we do stuff. We are used to turning our fans off. Our first record was a punk rock record so when we added metal on the second one we lost some of our hardcore/punk fans. We shocked the shit out of them with the next record when we added keyboards and samples. When people thought we were gonna go prog-rock, we came out with _Enemy Of The Sun_ which was a sludge/tribal-fest, and the new one is an amalgamation of all of the above, and where we are at right now. We always lose somebody but that is probably because they are close-minded or it might not be their taste. If someone is adamantly against it, then the poor bastard must have some confines on their beliefs.

CoC: You find a lot of that with people and music, right?

DE: For sure. People are afraid to be open and they like to stick to a certain clique or in a box of musical styles and what they are supposed to like instead of taking each thing in.

CoC: With the direction of the band heading a certain way and fans growing with you over the years, do you feel the fans can now relate to what you are feeling or at least understand what you are trying to tell them with your music?

DE: I think so. I think if they have stuck around they have experienced some stuff that we feel, but I don't know if we want them to feel a specific thing because it is a personal thing and it is for us. I think we throw enough vague concepts out there so that people can get out of it what they need to get out of it. We know specifically what we are talking about but we will never say. It is intense music so if someone needs to feel that way, they can listen to our music. Or if they need to deal with anger, depression or need to be inspired with something, they can get an effort out of our music.

CoC: What is the most important thing that you want a Neurosis fan to get out of this record?

DE: For people to be inspired by it. Maybe with the emotions we reveal people can relate to it and get through that shit. To have a part of it speak to their deeper self or soul. That is what we'd like to see come out of it.

CoC: And the meaning of the album title?

DE: Again, that is one of the vague ideas that mean something to us and not the listener. I don't know if I can really go into it but basically, it is a very spiritual statement to us dealing with humanity's place in the cosmos and dealing directly with alchemy and psychedelics.

CoC: So I guess the average metaller wouldn't understand it?

DE: Yeah ... they might think it means stab someone with a silver knife. <laughs>

CoC: What is your views of the use of technology with Neurosis and the band's future work?

DE: I believe it is a tool, and a tool for us to use. Electric guitars are still technology. If we wanted an anti-technology stance, we would go back to just drums and flutes, which isn't totally out of the question, but I can't see us doing it anytime soon. Samplers are blowing the boundaries out of what you can do with music. You can make anything into a music instrument with a sampler. I mean you can create rhythmic samples out of abstract noises, and Noah is great at doing that and aiding the band's sound. I am not a big fan of it, but if [technology] is there, why not use it? Computers scare the fuckin' shit out of me, and I wish it would all end, but as an artist I feel I have to use it.

CoC: How does the live show mix with the music?

DE: It is kind of a contrast because you can't ignore the music; it is so loud and intense. We can't be ignored because we go out with 100% each night even if no one is there because that is how we feel the music needs to be expressed. We have to achieve that state to make it feel good. Music has to take over our body and control us. If you augment that with strobing lights and hypnotic visuals it helps. I mean you can close your eyes and listen, look at the stage or look above us. No matter which perspective you take it'll be overwhelming. Even if you don't like [the music], it'll at least annoy the shit out of you. We try to make a vibe out of it ... all the time.

(article submitted 18/4/1996)


ALBUMS
4/28/2013 A El Naby 9 Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay
7/27/2007 J Smit 10 Neurosis - Given to the Rising
12/13/2004 J Smit 9.5 Neurosis - The Eye of Every Storm
8/12/2001 A McKay 7.5 Neurosis - A Sun That Never Sets
10/12/1999 A Bromley 9 Neurosis - Times of Grace
4/18/1996 G Filicetti 6 Neurosis - Through Silver in Blood
GIGS
10/11/1996 A Wasylyk Neurosis / Bloodlet / Tree Corroding Your Cranium
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