“Caustics’ music and art is riddled with symbolism. Most of it is related to the best ingredients to bake cakes, but they’re there nonetheless.”
Does humor belong in music? We spoke to Matt Fanale of Caustic about Industrial music, the music industry and how godly Mark Wahlbergs’ butt is in jeans.
Hi Matt, how are you?
Good! Busy as hell, but that comes with the territory. Thanks for asking me to do this.
Can you introduce our readers to Caustic?
Caustic is an industrial project I’ve been doing since 2002, so this is my 15 year anniversary. It started out as a wiseass powernoise thing and it’s morphed into a little less chaotic, but hopefully no less entertaining industrial thing. I spread out my styles a lot though, with a lot of EBM influence these days, but my older stuff mixed in everything from breakcore to punk to ska to whatever the hell I could get away with.
I try to keep it fun.
How did you get into Industrial music? Who helped shape you as both an artist and a listener?
I got into industrial in high school, and seeing Nitzer Ebb open for Depeche Mode cemented it for me. I got into NIN and Ministry like any good fledgling fan, and in college there were a couple amazing music stores where I blew a ton of cash. Eventually I started DJing, then I started promoting shows, and then I started Caustic when I finally had the opportunity, gearwise.
In terms of what shaped me, everything from the bands I just mentioned, adding in pretty much all Wax Trax, Invisible, punk, breakcore, and lots of performing improv comedy. Before I started Caustic I was doing 4-6 improv shows a week for years. That helped me hone my live chops. It also helped a lot when things went wrong live. Some people freak out. I say it’s just another Caustic show.
Along with many other artists you’ve chosen to release new music through Patreon. What was your motivation to do that?
I give most of my non-label music away (I’m currently on Negative Gain, but was previously on Metropolis, Crunch Pod, and Static Sky, going back to the beginning), but making music isn’t free—I pay people to mix my stuff occasionally, and I can only do a rudimentary job mastering, so I started the Patreon to help offset my costs, provide a special experience for any fans that wanted to jump on board, and to offer tons of exclusive content.
I put out a full album last year just for Patreon backers called ULTRASANE last year, and this year I’m at the halfway mark (since I do a track a month, sometimes two) of my new album NOT ANGRY, JUST DISAPPOINTED. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun. The support is extremely appreciated too, as even if my music wasn’t mostly free musicians really don’t make a lot these days, so this offsets costs for me for all sorts of other Caustic-related stuff.
“Spread the word on artists you like.”
What have been the biggest problems with the way the music industry has functioned over the past twenty years since digital distribution became mainstream?
I’ll start off by saying my problem has never been with labels. I’ve been treated and compensated more than fairly by the people I’ve worked with, because I’ve read the contracts and made sure I wasn’t getting screwed. With that said, I think there are two sides to the coin here, as what sucks about being in the industry, like sales being dismal in comparison to even a decade ago, is that people can now hear your music any time, pretty much anywhere on the planet.
This (unfortunately) isn’t my full time job, and at times it’s irritating when I see something I’ve worked years on being put up on torrent sites when it’s not THAT expensive, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I do my best to interact with the people that support me and to be honest and a decent person, and I’ve been more fortunate than most that I can do a Kickstarter and hit way beyond my modest goals, and I can do a Patreon and find 100 or so people to support it.
You can’t get pissed and you can’t get burned out. Otherwise you’re dead in the water. I just try and stay positive, be appreciative of the people that are willing to support what I do financially, playing my stuff on their shows or at their club nights, or even by mentioning me to friends. It’s been a nice ride for me. It could be better in some aspects, but again I’ve been really lucky.
How can we (artists and audiences) fix it?
Try and buy albums or merch from artists you like. If you bought someone’s album but also have a streaming site you love, then listen to that album on the site and not just your mp3 player, as that little bit of extra revenue helps.
Most importantly, spread the word on artists you like. There are a million options out there for people, but if you genuinely like what an artist is doing more people will pay attention to what you say than what a hundred Facebook ads may bombard you with. You are the voice of the artists, so boost the signal on who you’re passionate about. I know I appreciate that more than sales a lot of the time…though getting a few bucks here and there for an album is nice, too.
“I’m plugging away, slowly but surely…”
For anyone that follows your Facebook feed they know that you have the juiciest Industrial gossips this side of a vintage synthesizer but what about you. Care to share any dark secrets from the Caustic camp?
I’ll give you three:
- It’s been confirmed that Osama Bin Laden was listening to Caustic extremely loud when he was taken out by Navy Seals. You’re welcome, America.
- Much like the KLF, Caustics’ music and art is riddled with symbolism. Most of it is related to the best ingredients to bake cakes, but they’re there nonetheless.
- It’s a little known fact, but I was an uncredited writer on the last Transformers movie. I was responsible for writing all the descriptions of how good Mark Wahlberg looked in tight jeans.
Do you have a guilty pleasure genre?
Does industrial count there, too?
Can you tell us about your future plans, tours or otherwise?
Outside of my monthly Patreon tracks I’m finishing up my next full length album. I also started a live PA thing called daddybear which I’ve been performing on and off with—I’ve got a show 7/22 with Axkan here in Madison for my new Body to Body night.
I’m releasing the upcoming CTRLSHFT album on my label Undustrial Records, as well as getting out a new beat/ebm side project called KLACK that I’m doing with Eric Oehler of Null Device.
Finally, I’m plugging away, slowly but surely, on the new Causticles and Beauty Queen Autopsy.
I’m busy, and this doesn’t even include stuff from my real life.