When I first heard of Tristan Shone’s droning doom dub project Author & Punisher I was immediately blown away. The insane industrialized sound of Godflesh slowed and crushed into something new and something powerful. Not only is this drone act a great listen, but all of the instrumentation that you hear are actually machines created by Tristan himself. I recently caught up with Tristan and asked him a few questions. Check out the interview after the jump as well as an exclusive stream of Author & Punisher‘s new track “Flesh Ants!”
How’s it going, man? Can you please introduce yourself to my readers and tell them what it is you do?
Hello, I am on my lunch break at my day engineering job, thanks for the interview. Basically, I design and play sound machines/controllers for doom drone and dub related music under the moniker Author & Punisher. Right now, I am also starting a speaker business with an old friend, focusing on very high end, loud sound.
First off, I have to know how the hell you came up with these machines. I myself find standard instruments and amplification complicated but you have created something new. Something unique.
It’s a bit of a long story, but basically, I was in a pinch in my life living in Boston, where I worked for tech companies and was totally over the strained corporate component of my life there, so I went to graduate school for art. There, I messed around with a lot of different things: sculpture, installation, video, etc., but I was always still playing slow metal, at this point, bass guitar and laptop. Then it kind of dawned on me that what I really wanted was a more physical, direct way to interact with the sounds I was making. From there it was a fairly direct route to my designs.
Secondly, where did the name Author & Punisher come from?
I went to catholic school as a total unwavering atheist so I was always messing around with Christian gags and whatnot; not to be cynical really, as I sort of enjoyed the whole learning experience as a history lesson. It was more to make the whole drab catholic existence a bit more fun. Anyway, I bought a t-shirt that listed all of these great names for Jesus, and there on the list was Author & Finisher. I swear all these other names that are now popular bands are on there… My college roommate thought the name had to be Author & Punisher. For me it was the perfect one man band name and it has some humor in it for me.
Do you do all of the writing for this project yourself? And how long does your typical song take to compose?
Yes I do. It takes a day or so to come up with something, but usually for me, since I am learning to play the machines as I am writing, the songs for a given album can take a year to polish since I just keep changing as I tour and whatnot.
When you first started performing live, how was the response to your performance? Has it changed much compared to when you play now?
The response hasn’t really changed, except that now I will have some people that know what to expect so they stand close and headbang. That’s a nice change! Ya know, I have played all sorts of festivals from street fairs to gabba things in Europe and you can have older curator types to kids with balloons and ice cream cones all kind of getting into doom metal because it’s played in a different way, and I like that. On the other hand it speaks to people’s prejudices, which exposes some human frailty.
When I listen to Author & Punisher the first thing I think of is Godflesh. I take it this band was at least somewhat responsible for the spearheading of this project?
Absolutely. A friend gave me a cd in high school and I loved it. I heard “Straight Hate” as well, by Sepultura on the radio and something kind of clicked. Godflesh, Sepultura, Melvins, Neurosis, Nile and then the darker drum and bass and dub were the remedy for sure.
You have recently signed a deal with Seventh Rule Records. Congratulations on that. How does it feel to be on a label that has been called home to such established bands as Wetnurse, Batillus and Indian?
It was great working with Heart & Crossbone out of Tel Aviv, but I really needed something local. Honestly building everything, recording, working, it’s all too much and having help will be treat. After playing Fall into Darkness, Scott from Seventh Rule and I got in touch and that was it. It has been pleasure working with them and I can tell there are good things to come. I actually did a mini tour with Batillus on the East Coast in 2010, which is where I originally heard about the label.
Your new album Ursus Americanus will be released soon. Can you tell me a little about the album? Why did you choose to name it after the North American black bear?
The difference between this album and Drone Machines is basically that there are about 3 songs on the Drone Machines album that I love, but I can’t play them live because I focused on multi-tracking the hell out of it in some places. Ursus Americanus is exactly my live set, it’s a unit. I guess I feel like the band is now alive and an extension of my body and soul, which is something I have been striving for. As for the American black bear: I like being American and I like black bears. I kind of think of it the same as I do lyrics, where as I write music, I bring in images words to accompany sounds in an appropriate way, and they may complement each other without making any sense at all. I combine these types of things to try and create devastating sounds and music.
With a style of music such as yours, it can really only be viewed as an art form. That’s how I see it, anyway. Do you see your music as an art form consisting of expression?
Yes, in all of the design, fabrication of metal, composing, I am trying to basically create a mood for myself and the audience. It’s the same thing I have been going for over and over again, almost like writing the same song but approaching it differently. I liken it to what a director does with a set of films that seem to gestate similarly. You might feel the same awful rock in your gut in all three of the films but the story is different. But to answer more directly, it’s performance art.
What is next for Author & Punisher?
Right now I am making a series of masks to be performed on March 31st as part of an ensemble I am putting together. There will be a piano and 4 or 5 people wearing voice modulating masks, screaming and singing in a circle. I have no idea what’s going to happen, honestly! Next, West Coast tour April 19th to 29th and then Europe in June. When I get back I’ll get fired most likely.
Author & Punisher will release Ursus Americanus on April 24th via Seventh Rule Records. Be sure to check out Tristan’s website and LIKE Author & Punisher on Facebook. Don’t let this slip past you. You will seriously regret it.