DEATH SQUAD

Interviewed by Lob


"harsh synchronization combining harsh and disturbing images together with harsh and violent sounds..." Michael Contrares has been unleashing his image based audio terror upon the public for the last 4 years or so.. [Michael Contrares/Death 
Squad photo by Lob] with his project DEATH SQUAD and with his highly controversial experimental TV series, FUCK TV. Upon recently returning from a semi- successful European tour with Radiosonde, TerrorState, & Chapter 23, (dubbed the "ANIHILATION TOUR" 1998), on the eve of Death Squads 100th performance, I got to quickly ask Contrares a few questions about his motivation and future directions..


L: Okay.. so you say this show you are gonna play tomorrow is your 100th show..?
M: correct.

L: so out of 100 shows, what was the best so far? or rather out of 99 shows..what was the best time you have had so far?
M: The most rewarding show was probably this past summer, before we left for Europe, at Scott's (Arford) wherehouse in San Francisco..to me it was the best thing that I have ever done, period.

L: at Arford's wherehouse?
M: Yeah, it was the last show (before leaving) and let me tell you, let me explain why ... I guess, like to me.. doing sound, and video, and vocals have become really fucking boring.. it doesnt do anything for me... like tonight I was just frustrated with technical problems.. and I am sick of doing this.. and not just because there are so many shows that I am doing.. it is more that i want to progress. I want to take it to another level.. At the show we did at Scott's wherehouse..we stretched plastic across the whole wherehouse from side to side and set up three cubicles.. on the far left was girl, in the middle was me, and on the right was a police interogation...we had a camera on each end videotaping, and then a video projector projecting it on the wall while Scott Arford was mixing the video feeds.. It started out with this girl, she began be talking about the state of the world, exsistance of the mind.. and then the sound starts to come up.. and the camera on the left comes on.. and this interview starts.. and I'm interviewing this girl about why she is a junkie.. while the interview is going on..she shoots herself up, and then she shoots me up...and it's being projected in green on the wall..the sound comes down, the lights go out.. and it's dark.. on the right hand side this kid gets thrown through a door and into this room..into a chair, he is being interrogated for a murder...there was a liquor store robbery and there was two guys, they dont have the gun.. one of the guys got away..and they dont know if the shop owner or one of these guys killed a little girl.. a little girl was killed.. so he's being interrogated by a detective.. and they are mic'd.. and their audio is slowly brought up.. over time the cop starts getting more violent with the kid, and like he starts fucking hitting him.. on the left hand side a strobe light comes on.. and the girl starts stripping.. the first song one the first Portishead CD comes up together with her and the strobe light.. and all of the audio is up.. the music, the interrogation.. the cop throws the kid down to the floor and knocks out the power amp.. so now it is completly quiet.. at that point, I turn on this white light that is aimed at the audience..bright and white.. just shining out there at them.. and I pick up this gun that I have.. I loaded so that the audience could see that it was gun .. and then I aimed it at the audience and fired once, and it jammed.. then I fired a second time.. and I had replaced the bullets with tissue paper and it actuall punched two holes in the plastic..and then the lights went out.. and it was silent.. and the audience just stood there in silence for like 10 minutes in complete darkness.. and we all just sat there.. quiet.. and it was simply amazing.. and then it was over.. and we were about to go to europe.. and I was like.. "I dont wanna go".. I knew what I was gonna be doing in europe.. and it was so far from what I wanted to do.. that it just seemed really pointless, ..and the only reason that I really ended up going was because Scott was going, and the only reason Scott was going was beuase I had talked him into going...and if it wasnt for that I wouldnt have gone to Europe at all. I realized at that show in SF, that THAT was really the kinda thing I wanted to do...to force the audience to interact, to fore the audiene to be part of the performance..they cant just sit there passively...I want to bring them into the fold of what's going on...I mean, the 10 minutes of silence after the show, in darkness, was as much the performance as anything that happened on stage. Becuase it was the audience's pure reaction as to what had happened..and that is kinda more what i want to start doing more of.. [photo ov Death Squad live by 
Lob]

L: wow.. so to get more audience reaction ??
M: Yeah, and not only this set up, or this particular idea.. but to come up with other ideas .. other sets.. and to do them with actors, and sound, and video, and pull the audience.. without even their consent, into the performance.. Usually an audience is so distant.. they come to a performance...they watch, they see, they applaude, and they leave. I want to cause them to think on another level.. to create a situation, or an environment that they just cant ignore...that they are forced into the center of the performance.. and not to keep it like goofy or silly but a serious content to force that deep introspection and that kind of thought.. to begin thoughts in thier heads like, "Is this real?" or "What's going on?", "How do I feel about it?", "What are my reactions to what is going on?".. to make them really critically view themselves within this piece that is going on around them.

L: wow man, that sounds really cool and intense.. i cant wait to see it.. to see you move past what you are doing now.. it sounds REALLY intense. so, are you gonna be doing anymore TV?
M: Yeah we have been doing FUCK TV for over a year.. and we're gonna keep doing it.. and we wanna get it programmed around the world. We're gonna get filmakers and video artists the materials, and were gonna rotate the tapes throughout Public Access stations in the US, and to different foriegn countries.. and then create a web site that lists every single station in the world that is carrying our TV show, and a list of the artists that are on the tapes.. and the time of airing.. to create this sorta netwerk and system inside a netwerk and a system that is allready established. Total video subversion...and we'll get people and artists that cant get thier work show anywhere else..and give them opportunity to have thier stuff shown on TV, in many many differnt places..


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