Steve Caton Interview
Added July 19, 1999
Well, you'll be asked this question ten million times before the summer is over, but I'll ask it anyway. How did this project really begin?
I ran into my good friend Matt Sorum at the KROQ Christmas gig and we started talking about recording some of my songs up at his house. Shortly after that initial conversation, he told me he knew some players and suggested that we put a band together. I've always loved his drumming, so I thought that would be a great idea. He introduced me to his friends Vinnie LoRusso and Thomas Morse, two wonderfully talented guys, and Binge was born. Tobi Skard, whom both Matt and I had worked with at various times in the past, joined up with us soon thereafter.
And did you always know you would use the Internet to market and distribute it ?
I actually woke up one morning thinking about using the Internet a month or so after the recording was finished. Since the people who would know anything about us at all , mainly GNR and Tori fans, are so active on the Net, it seemed to make good sense to me. So far the support and feedback has been great. Way beyond expectation.
The songs are wonderful on this EP, and I love the fact that they sound and feel very different from each other. Is this because they were written during different periods in your life?
Thanks! Crash and Shame are both fairly new, written around the same time. Crash started as a dance track put together by Vinnie that I later wrote lyrics to. Shame was something that I had been messing around with on guitar. Spirit in the Flesh is an entirely different story. It's a song of mine left over from my days with Climate of Crisis, a band I fronted a few years back. I brought "Spirit" to the band thinking it would fit in well with our whole concept. So I think the different feels you are talking about come from the ways in which the songs were initially started. The thread between them comes from the five of us putting each of our individual two cents in the can and shaking it up.
Will you describe the songs briefly for us ? Perhaps give us a little rundown on what to expect ?
Sure, no problem. Crash is a Rave/dance track. Welcome to Vinnie's world. He grew up musically in that whole scene. He can turn this stuff out all day and night, effortlessly. Amazing to watch him do it. Then you have Matt finessing his way through the verses and unloading in the chorus with that power that he is so well known for. The repetitive melody and morbid lyrics complete the accident.
Shame is really a techno-fied guitar ballad. Originally worked out on an acoustic guitar with loops and synthesizers added later. Thomas and I wrote the string arrangement with the intent of capturing a Bernard Hermann type of feel. The string outro is one of my favorite musical moments on the CD.
Spirit in the Flesh has an aggressive industrial vibe with everything going off. Loops, synths, real strings, rock drums and edgy guitars, distorted rantings about socio-political and religious matters. A real mess. Ha ha ha
I notice that "Shame"is the only song on the album with a dedication. Who is C.R.? Do you mind explaining ?
C. and R. are the initials of a couple of people from my past and, coincidentally, are also the initials of a few religious and political figures that I hold dear to my heart . Ha ha. Their names will, of course, go unmentioned, but I did want to thank them for the inspiration in some discreet way. A line about my own shame is in there as well.
Are your songs usually inspired by singular acts or character sketches of one or more individuals , or do you look at them as abstract constructions of moods and ideas?
Generally, I am not one who has incredible moments of inspirations. I have to make a conscious decision to sit down and write. Once I've forced myself to do that, I'll start to push words around not unlike one would do with say, finger paints. Through the discipline of trial and error, some meaning or theme begins to emerge. Once I know what the song is about, I can fill in the missing bits relatively easy.
The guitar work on this EP is really amazing. You've found a way to convey aggression and energy without using the standard "electric guitar solo". In fact, none of the guitar work on this album is even remotely self-indulgent or cliched. How do you avoid the trap of "overplaying" or sacrificing the song for the performances after accumulating such a wide technical vocabulary?
As a listener, I rarely enjoy music that overly stresses the technical prowess of the people making it. I prefer the notion of good songs played well and simply. I like to call it translucent participation. This idea is paramount to me. So, it is always my intent to take this sensibility into everything I do musically. Whether it is with Binge or any of the other projects I work on.
As many fans know, you are given a great deal of freedom when you work with Tori. She allows you to create your own musical dialogue and really does not intrude on you when you are in the studio. How does it feel working with a band when you are coming right out of such an unrestricted work environment?
Binge is the most unrestricted situation I could possibly hope for aside from doing it all myself, which I would not want to do. There is always a little bit of push and pull that goes on when working with others but then there is a lot of fun that comes with it too. There are many chance happenings that occur when working with people. Little accidents that end up being really great moments. Of course, later, we all say that we meant to do it that way. Listen to your mistakes, then exploit them. Ha ha
The songs on " Crash" are unlike anything I've ever heard , but they will stand up well next to any songs currently on alternative rock radio. Was it a conscious decision to retain some semblance of the more traditional pop-rock song format ?
I appreciate good songs more than any other musical form. I have dabbled in other types of music along the way but I've always returned to the basic pop song format. What I do find most interesting though is bringing together unrelated elements and plopping them down in the middle of an otherwise conventional idiom. Dressing the tunes up in odd juxtapositions. My guiding principal could be stated as follows: The song remains the same. Fashion changes by the nano-second.
Many fans who have had the chance to hear the EP mention the superb quality of the music and how truly different it sounds. But what if you are not listening for innovations or integrity? Do you think this EP will appeal to fans who just want a good song to play in their cars on Saturdays?
My hope is that the songs themselves, along with the groove and energy, are enough to appeal to anyone on that basic level. We are in no way attempting to overwhelm everyone with studio trickery. But, it is there for those who happen to share our affinity for such things.
Your voice sounds so amazing on this EP, Steve. I'm sure many fans will be surprised to hear how well you sing. Is it strange to realize how many people recognize you, yet do not really know what you can do ?
Well, due to the nature of my role in many of the projects I'm involved in, people do not often get the opportunity to hear the other things that I do aside from playing guitar and arranging. It is easy for me to understand. One does not get to wear all the hats all the time.
Do you enjoy the fans at the shows ? Are you taken aback by the attention? Is it easier to accept now?
I do enjoy meeting people out on the road. Riding my bike around the many towns we visit, I occasionally run into people, not literally of course, and often end up having a Coke or something with them. It's a lot of fun and keeps me out of the regular routine. You know, new faces, new stories. It's great! In fact there are a few I've met while on tour that have become very good friends of mine and who I remain in contact with on a near daily basis.
On this EP, you've not only written all of the lyrics, but you've also co-written the music, co-produced all the songs on the album with Matt Sorum, and mixed each song with Eric Rosse. Do you enjoy being involved in every aspect of your musical projects ?
I do enjoy being in the thick of it. Binge gives me the opportunity to be involved to a degree that I otherwise might not have the chance.
Will you stay as heavily involved with Binge's next project?
This project is so much a part of me, I could not imagine it being any other way.
Was it good to work with Eric Rosse again?
Eric is one of my closest friends. Exceedingly talented, open minded, creative, warm and funnier than you can imagine. He does a great Marlon Brando impression and his New Yorker accent is beyond belief. We always have a lot of fun working together and still manage to get everything done in the process. I cannot say enough good things about him and his abilities in the studio.
One of the things I love most about Binge is the way you are unafraid to experiment with new sound techniques . I remember you telling me that the chorus of " Spirit in the Flesh" features a slowed down guitar part that sounds positively demonic. Are there any other examples of this technique which stand out in your mind, and will you continue exploring new ways of creating sound ?
I love textures and especially new ones. It is one of the main criteria I use to judge what I'm doing. If the music has some nice unfamiliar sound, then I'm a happier guy for it. Since I grow tired quickly from hearing the same things all the time, I am always searching for something a little unique.
The artwork on this CD is just amazing, I can't even describe how beautiful it is. Who was responsible for those pictures, and did you work closely to ensure that the photos complimented the music ?
Shandra Vom Dorp, Eric Rosse's girlfriend, is responsible for the terrific shots. I had seen her work while visiting the two of them in New Mexico earlier this year. Her work has this amazing stark quality which I thought would compliment the music well . So when I decided to put the CD out, I asked her if she wouldn't mind venturing into the junkyard and snapping off a few photos. What I received in the mail a few weeks later was this large box packed full of all these incredibly beautiful photographs. So many, all great. She went way beyond anything I could have hoped for! It was very tough to choose between them. Jeff Zimmitti, the art designer at Triple X Records helped me pick the right ones and did the wonderful lay out job.
How do you plan on keeping in touch with Binge's fans after this EP takes off? Will you just reappear with each new offering, or will the Binge website keep your name fresh in our minds ?
Since this project seems to be revolving so much around the Net, I'm sure that that is where a lot of our contact with people will continue to be.
Several radio stations have offered to play Binge, and Tori will play the EP between sets on the " 51/2 weeks tour". Which song will be used as the " single" if you find yourself forced to release only one ?
We thought we'd leave that up to everyone else. Which one would you choose? haha!
Interview by Laurie Daniels.
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