Interview by Ian C Stewart
6 March 1996
the unedited director's cut of the interview which appeared in MOO.
Click here to see the cleaned-up, pretty, edited version.
Martyr Colony is a Columbus
Ohio electronic act comprised of Arturo DeLeon, Jeffrey Muth, Mitch Meredith
and TJ Steppe.
course you have to mention Mitch Meredith, formerly of the Virgin Dingleberry
IAN: He's obviously the sex of the band.
AD: Fuck yeah.
IAN: What the hell is Martyr Colony so pissed off about?
AD: If we're pissed about anything, I don't think it's anything specific,
just the general dirt of everyday life that gets me all fired up.
TJ: People make me pro-nuclear. What am I so pissed off at? Humanity. I hate
every person that doesn't hang out in this house on a daily basis.
JM: Yeah, we're all pretty much misanthropes.
AD: And we're pretty proud of it too. I mean, so many other people want to
save the world and spread a nice, cheery message and I'm not interested in
any of that. Martyr Colony is the perfect vehicle, it allows me to shriek
and vent and spit and that makes me damn happy.
band started out as a duo in 1987, became a trio in 1989, returned to a duo
in 1994, and then became, in early 1995, the four of us, although it's had
a rotating lineup for the most part and I've been pretty much the only consistent
one through the whole thing.
AD: This current incarnation is known as The Four Horsemen incarnation.
JM: So it's been around since 1987. Listening to too many Cabaret Voltaire
records, thinking "hey, any old schmuck can do this."
IAN: I don't notice those influences so much in the music now, but I remember
seeing you guys open for The Wake in 1991 and leaving with a distinct Skinny
Puppy sort of feeling about the band.
AD: One thing we always head back to is that none of us are skinny enough
to be a good gothic band.
TJ: Except for Jeff.
JM: But I'm an electronic band. And a gothic band. At the same time.
MM: You don't have the hair for it.
IAN: Which is why I resented the MOO of the CD, because I don't think it's
really gothic/industrial like they said. It's not even vaguely gothic.
AD: It's always been really easy for people to label Martyr Colony as industrial,
and people say we sound like Skinny Puppy or Nine Inch Nails or this or that.
And we've gotten tagged with a million things that we thought we had nothing
to do with. Or things that were maybe a vague influence. But I think we've
kind of given up. If someone says we're gothic, sure. If someone says we're
industrial, sure. We used to get slammed because people thought we were too
arty and involved to be considered industrial. And now that we've got guitars
and bass and a lot more of a drivey sound, which is more in place with what
is currently called industrial, people say we think we're an industrial band.
TJ: "These guys aren't industrial, they're too RAAHHHHHCK." Anything
as dark and hateful as this shit comes off is always just instantly hit with
the Goth tag. I mean, there are no colors listening to this shit than black.
TJ: We actually consider ourselves the return of Grebo.
TJ: We want to take goth, Grebo and industrial and mix it all up in a big
ALL: MMMMMMMM, PIE.
IAN: What fruit is Grebo then?
JM: We've come full circle.
TJ: The funniest part of the Grebo joke is that we really are grebo
Fuckin' dance music played by guys who look like bikers.
IAN: (pointing to Jeff) Absolutely.
AD: it's really funny that we've gotten a really decent reaction from the
metal kids, who I figure dig the aggression of it and the heaviness.
JM: Ministry has crossed over into that and somehow paved the way.
IAN: I remember a time when every other Martyr Colony show was with a metal
AD: Well, no one was giving us shows at any other venues. We had talked to
other bands and expressed an interest in doing shows and trying different
things but, though Columbus has a killer scene, that just won't happen.
IAN: Here it comes. Time for the Columbus dis portion of the interview. I
wanted to ask you guys how it's been for you, trying to exist here in Columbus.
AD: The cool thing about Martyr Colony is that its tentacles reach a bit further
than just Columbus. I mean, we've gotten a nice reaction from people out of
the country, and out of the state and we'd like to get a better thing here,
but we're not as concerned about it as with taking care of the rest of the
MM: We're not going to win over any Columbus audiences.
IAN: But at the same time you're not going to be one of those bands that never
TJ: Oh no
Playing out is a ton of fun, and it's easier to play down
the street than in Cleveland.
AD: If we could get nice regular gigs at Bernie's or Stache's, then we'd be
doing it every other weekend. But there aren't really other likeminded bands
to play with, and the bands that are in town that have those slots aren't
going to give us an opening shot because it just won't work.
TJ: Beer-drinkin' Stache's kids don't want to see a band without a drummer
and kids who buy Martyr Colony albums don't go out to see bands. It's a lose-lose
situation really. That's what we're pissed off about.
IAN: Fucking Columbus.
AD: So instead of just sitting here and bitching and whining, we don't think
about it. We'll go play out of town. People from out of town ask us what the
Columbus industrial scene is like and we're like "Well, there's us and
then there's Evolution Control Committee."
IAN: Who isn't strictly industrial.
JM: Probably more industrial than we are, tons more old school industrial.
AD: Especially now that Mark Gunderson is doing Gaga, which is like Test Dept
JM: But he's more of a conceptual industrial musician. Just by using found
sounds and the fact that one song doesn't sound like the next and each one
is completely out there. He also has a really bizarre comedic bent that is
in everything he does. And we're just like the evil side of that, we have
no sense of humor. We are humorless. We're dark, we're heavy, we scary and
we eat our ice cream with the lights out.
MM: Don't print any of what he just said.
AD: Martyr Colony just dwells on the dark element and anyone who steps in
usually understands that. It's a real comfortable vehicle. I mean we're not
here to make pop songs or make anybody happy or just do anything for the kids.
JM: We wallow in our anxiety.
MM: We are the Bad News of industrial.
MM: Artie is Mr Lead Fucking Everything.
never know what to say on this kind of thing because I always read interviews
with other industrial bands and I just don't get it. It's morbid entertainment.
JM: They usually end up slamming all the other bands.
TJ: I don't have enough time to listen to any other bands.
IAN: All right, Mr Up The Irons.
don't sound like Pavement or the Supersuckers so we can't get gigs in Columbus.
IAN: Well, as I see it, Columbus is a barren musical wasteland to be avoided
at all costs. I keep trying to move away but for various reasons keep winding
up back here.
TJ: It's a total sucking black hole. There's never escape. I moved away five
times. It's the lonely girls who get drunk and fuck that bring you back.
AD: Yeah. Cornfed.
MM: TJ, you ran out of money.
when Martyr Colony started over with this lineup it was agreed that the four
of us would write together, and I think that's one of the things that separates
us from a lot of bands. You usually see someone who is the keyboardist and
the other guys are there playing parts he's written for them.
TJ: We all write together. Every sound gets voted on with a one collective
JM: And we're constantly trying to find new stuff to sample.
AD: And then we all start coming up with ideas and it takes off from there.
JM: We're getting faster. It used to take us two months to write one song,
just because we would needle it and tweak it and just baby and pamper the
thing into creation. And now we can do that a lot faster.
AD: And I really don't know what we sound like to other people, either gothic
or industrial fans. Because along with all four of us writing the songs, we
all come from completely different schools of music. Jeffrey is into experimental
and electronic, ie Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, Coil, John Cage.
JM: Whereas Artie has more of a mariachi Eskimo feel.
AD: Mitch is like old school punk and hardcore. TJ is like glam and sleaze
and Keith Richards.
TJ: Keith Richards.
MM: He's into both kinds of music. Glam and sleaze.
AD: And I just listen to trash.
TJ: And we all listen to three tons of hiphop.
Technology" came about because there was a record label talking to us
and they asked if we had any other songs, and we had all these loose ideas
that hadn't really come to fruition yet. It's basically what we sounded like
a year ago. It was all four of us writing together and just shitting it out.
And it came together with a lot of experimentation and mutation, so all four
of us just came down here to our studio from midnight until about 7am and
we'd just get lost down here. A lot of the lyrics came about because I had
a lot of things just lying around forever and I would apply the cut-up technique
because I write really automatically. I don't really read it. And so for a
lot of the songs we just cut things up and started slapping them together.
Some things would make sense, some wouldn't and sometimes it would just trigger
After the interview we all talked about Columbus, listened to a Naked Raygun
cover they did for a tribute compilation, clashed wildly over Scorn, made up,
and the whole thing ended in a typical fit of band in-jokes and datemaking.
You know. Typical band stuff.