Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interview With Jason Schmidt (Graf Orlock)

Graf Orlock has been bashing out record after record of their unique style some call "cinema-grind". After completing the "Destination Time Trilogy", and the release of the absolutely beautiful "Doombox" EP, Graf Orlock are back with "Los Angeles". An excellent 7" based around the 90's blockbuster "Heat". This interview was done over email.

Operation Grindcore: Why did you decide to use Heat as the concept for the new EP?

Jason Schmitd: With Doombox, we did a kind of three east coast songs/three west coast songs thing, and this time, in such a concise format of a 7", wanted to focus just on LA stuff. In this case, Heat is great, it is pure 1990s, with all the strange cop-isms and culture-weirdness involved. In that movie, there is so much going on, everyone has endlessly fucked up relationships, and the idea and implications of going for the gold have never been done so clearly.

OG: Do you think all of your releases will be based of a specific movie from now on?

Jason: It is actually was an older thing we used to do. The first 7" in 2004 was specifically Die Hard, and a 2005 backpack split release was Total Recall. Since then, we have kind of moved away from that because it doesn't make sense to use one movie for 14 songs on an LP, but every now and then it is pretty fun to focus on one individually.

OG: What is the song writing process for Graf Orlock like? Obviously there is the added variable of the audio samples, do you guys focus on how those are going to be worked into the music at all while writing?

Jason: The samples almost always are secondary. We write the songs and then decide what they will go along with, except in ones where the riffs are part of theme songs, etc. For this record, the drummer now lives pretty far away on the other side of the country, so when he was here for the holidays we took a week and wrote and recorded this to see if we could make a new approach to stupidity work.

OG: Most of your records have very elaborate packaging, do you think that this is an important element to your bands image?

Jason: I think it is an important part of the band in a lot of aspects. It stems from wanting to do things and see things that no one is doing. If we have the capability to make something worth peoples' money instead of another worthless CD or boring glued jacket, I want to do it. It adds a level of interest for us, and although a lot of times it is a giant pain in the ass, in the long run it is worth it, and no one has any say about what we will do or budgets or all of that shit. If you can think of something ridiculous, there must be a way to execute it in an affordable way. It has both aesthetic and intrinsic value I suppose.

OG: Putting out records like that isn't cheap, and since you put out most of your records on your own label is it kind of a risky gamble, financially?

Jason: Yes, but what isnt? Touring is. Buying a van is. Putting out records is just another step to that. I think if people want to do things like this but are half asses, it is never going to work and they should quit before they even start. Things like Kickstarter allow people to think they should just get people to invest on the promise of something awesome in the future, but that is usually bullshit. That is the one of the gratifying things about taking risks like that, is that if it works you keep going and if it doesnt you are doomed to fail. Just like government bailouts, some things should just stop if they can't manage their own shit.

OG: Have you tweaked the way you run Vitriol Records at all since you released your first record?

Jason: I suppose it is just pared down and more focused. It has been a pretty crazy two years or so. This Gorlock record is the 25th release, and a new Ghostlimb LP just recorded is going to be the 26th. Distro stuff has been enlarged and other things, but it is still essentially cooperative relationships with people who are trying to do the same type of thing. It benefits everyone mutually and it is great, to do projects and records with friends in different parts of the world.

OG: Who came up with the idea to literally put bullet holes in your EP cover?

Jason: Us. 7"s are typically prohibitively expensive and boring, so to kick it up a notch, I wanted to shoot the shit out of them.

OG: Tell us about your upcoming tour, and what we can expect from Graf Orlock for the rest of 2012.

Jason: Well, tomorrow (March 21) Graf Orlock goes to Japan for a few weeks with my other band Dangers, which should be fun and awesome. A couple months after that we are hitting up Europe for a month or so and going some places we have never been into the Balkans and eastern Europe, and getting into some festivals. In the future, we will be doing some east coast touring and some other domestic ventures.

OG: Lastly, the question we ask all our interviewees. If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 albums would you bring with you?

Jason: The Weakerthans "Fallow", Propagandhi "Less Talk More Rock", probably a really long Misfits tape (pre-1984)



  1. i would have picked the weakerthans' "left or leaving" but otherwise, nice.

  2. dude fuck yes to all the weakerthans love.

    grind&mince&listen to the weakerthans.