Interview with No Statik By Lory Gil

The first time I saw No Statik was at 924 Gilman in May of 2010. I was there to see Crow in my area before they left for Chaos in Tejas. Also on the bill were the ever-amazing Conquest For Death, Surrender, Acephalix, and Cross Stitched Eyes. Needless to say, the show was amazing.

When I arrived, a band I didn’t know was setting up on the floor. I recognized Robert Collins by his tall, thin stature and two-foot-long beard. The man stands out. I had never heard of No Statik and figured they were another in Robert’s many band projects. I was excited to see what was to come.

Excited isn’t even the way to describe the feeling I had when I first heard Ruby belting out her powerful and aggressive vocals. By the time No Statik had started, the floor was filled with enthusiastic punks and I couldn’t even see what was happening. I didn’t have to. The band was melting our faces off with minute-long blasts of commanding, invasive hardcore riffs that put a permasmile on my face. This band rocked.

No Statik can best be described as Euro 1980s hardcore mixed with traditional American hardcore and a smattering of Scandinavian influence. Their songs are slightly metallic, moody, atmospheric, and peppered with occasional blasts that rip through your skull. The experimental way they approach the hardcore genre with integrated noise and loop effects put them into a class all of their own while still holding onto the roots of familiarity.

The band released their first 7” record, Clarified, Distilled, Recomposed and has since gone on to release seven more LPs, EPs, and cassette tapes, including the most current LP release in 2013 on Iron Lung Records, Unity and Fragmentation.

Ruby Danger – Vocals
Mark Wilcox – Guitar
Robert Collins – Bass
B Rousse – Drums

Interview by Lory Gil

Lory: You are a prolific group of punk rockers. What are some of the bands you’ve been in previously?

Ruby: Scrotum Grinder and Memento Mori.

Mark: Destroy!, Impetus Inter, Lux Vanitas, Disembodied, Look Back And Laugh.

B: In the past I was in Scholastic Deth, Sseepage, End Of The Century Party, Murder-Suicide Pact, Jud Jud.

Robert: I used to be in Vaccuum, Opt Out, What Happens Next?, Artimus Pyle, Fuckface, and probably some other ones.

Lory: Besides No Statik, what bands are you are currently in now?

Ruby: The Light.

B: I’m currently in Replica and Conquest For Death.

Robert: I’m currently in Ritual Control.

Lory: How long have you been playing music?

Ruby: More than twenty years…

Mark: Just over twenty-five years.

Robert: First band started in 1991.

B: I started when I was twelve or thirteen and now I’m thirty-six.

Lory: What got you into playing music?

Ruby: Hearing Death Side for the first time, around 1991, made me want to be a vocalist.

Robert: I got a really late start, mostly mainstream metal and new wave/alternative stuff until I was well out of high school. There was no real turning point that made me want to start being in a band. I just realized that I could do the thing that I liked watching other people do.

Mark: I started using a hockey stick as an air guitar substitute around age eleven—and pop music just happened to be a little guitar heavy at the time—Prince, Van Halen, Billy Idol, Yes.  I remember keying in on the guitar while hearing Kiss, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath several years earlier. I generally liked the most edgy or intense-sounding music as I explored my own tastes, and the guitar was usually a big part of that sound. My brother’s taste and interest in heavy rock exposed me to some great stuff, but in junior high myself and a couple friends shared and planned every cassette purchase for maximum music—getting into punk, hardcore, thrash mainly.

B: I got into punk and metal young, like ten or eleven years old young, through the influence of my older brother, Victor, and my other skateboarding friends.  One day some friends—who had a guitar—and I just turned on a tape recorder and started making up simple punk songs with them on guitar and me on vocals.  Another friend came over with a bass, and we just kept going. I was twelve or thirteen. The punk scene in Tampa was vibrant and very open. Speaking of the list being thousands long—this first band of mine, called URN, got to play with Filth in 1991! We were scared of them, but it was so exhilarating to be able to play with touring punk bands from far away. We also played with bands like AC, Eye For And Eye, and Maelstrom with our crappy but fun songs. 

Lory: Do you have any influential moments you can point to that got you started down the path of musicianship?

Robert: I’d say that the major turning points that plugged me into DIY were seeing Grimple in Norman, OK in 1992 and Born Against in Cudahay, WI 1993.

Mark: The inspirations were many when I started to attend and play underground shows. The list is thousands long.

B: My influential moment was something like realizing that you didn’t need anything like formal training or much inherent talent; just passion, practice, and friends. At URN practices I would mess around on drums, then I got my own set and stuck with that ever since.

Lory: How did you all meet? 

Ruby: I have a terrible memory. I have known B since middle school. I met Robert and Mark when their other bands were on tour throughout the years. When B moved back to Oakland and I moved out here, we realized that we had never played together and he asked Robert and Mark.

B: Yeah, Ruby and I basically grew up together in and around Tampa since middle school, but then we both got out of there in the late 1990s. I moved to the Bay Area for the first time then. I met Mark when End Of The Century Party played with Impetus Inter in Tampa in like 1995. I’m pretty sure I met Robert when I moved to California in 1998. I hadn’t seen Ruby in years. Then, when I moved back to the Bay in 2009, she was here too. We basically just had to do a band [laughs]. Luckily, both Robert and Mark were around. Our chemistry took over.

Mark: I think we first played together in November 2009. Look Back And Laugh wasn’t playing at that point, and I was pleasantly surprised at both the personal and musical chemistry that we immediately had in No Statik. We had Robert’s touring expertise, and all of our enthusiasm and confidence to make things happen quickly. I think we came together with the basic idea of creating music that was as energetic as the music that inspired us, and continues to do so. 

Robert: I think I properly met Ruby in 2002, but maybe we met at a PrankFest in the mid 1990s. Met Mark and B both in the late 1990s before B and I moved away from the Bay Area. 

Lory: Regarding the Everywhere You Aren’t Looking remix tape, “Earhammer Soundsystem,” why did you decide to remix this album?

Mark:  Greg at Earhammer is so easy to work with that doing different versions of songs or using noise and experimentation to enhance recordings has been part of our recordings from the start. Greg had the idea of remixing an entire record.  We contributed some ideas, but most of it is Greg. There is a part of me that would like to do completely different mixes for every song on a record. I also know how much time that takes, and that it sacrifices some continuity on a recording. This way I get both. I love people manipulating our songs to create something new.

B: Yeah, and it was also a natural extension of the approach we have had since the beginning, which was to mix in some experimental dimensions to our music. Yet up until the Earhammer Soundsystem Tape and the other remix cassingle with Ivens and DJ Eons One, the experimental output was just on one side of a release.  We enjoyed collaborating with Greg so much on our other experimental tracks that we decided just to redo the whole second 12”.  It gets weirdly compulsive once you start taking things apart and messing with them and putting them back together. You just want to keep doing it.

Lory: No Statik has a different sound than the average hardcore band. The music takes on an artistic avant-garde sort of vibe. Who brings that influence to the band?

Robert: I listen to No Statik and I genuinely think it sounds like a combination of many of our previous bands. We consciously try to tweak things, but we are still a hardcore band.

Mark: All of us bring that influence on some level. Our experience with other projects helps us to get right to sounds that we like. I guess I mean that we’re influenced by a wide range of music and that comes through in our sound. I like heavy music with extreme sounds and a hook!

B: At our first band practice—which was actually Robert, Mark, and I sitting in a techno bar drinking and talking, since no one brought a guitar [laughs]—we already imagined incorporating some of the elemental, repetitive, driving aspects of dance music into the hardcore element. From the beginning, we wanted to push and blur the boundaries of genre a little bit.

I had just come back from living in Germany for two years where I spent much of my time dancing and chilling out to minimal techno when I wasn’t studying philosophy. Both Mark and I had been DJ’s in the past. Robert specializes in discovering and liking weird music and noise. Now Ruby has been commissioning new remixes from our friends, too. Basically, like Mark said, we just channel a wide variety of influences and enjoy the experience of experimentation and making shit.

Lory: No Statik has played some amazing shows and even toured the country. Do you have any great stories from your tour adventures?

Ruby: The bridge show at Chaos in Tejas in 2012 was amazing and really surreal for me. I had to stand on the bass drum after a while to avoid being crushed. I fainted after we played because I had food poisoning. The first year we played Chaos I was caught in the mosh, cracking and breaking a few ribs in the middle of our set. We continued to play but cut the set short because I had not figured out yet why breathing and singing were so painful. We left for tour a week later with Martyrdöd from Sweden. At first, we all thought we would have to come home early. I was crying from the pain each night we played but when we got to Vancouver people were so supportive, hugging me, holding me up, and reminding me why I do what I do, that it gave me a second wind and I was able to complete the whole tour despite broken ribs.

B: Yeah, the bridge show with Krömosom and Long Knife was one of the most unforgettable shows of my life. There is a VHS tape of it put out by Viper Video in Los Angeles. We also did a winter tour. I was on the east coast for a philosophy conference, everyone met me out there, we started in DC, played in Brooklyn on the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve, then made our way down to Puerto Rico which was so fun. Shout out to Pelu, Diente Perro, Un Final Fatal, Jose from Tropiezo, and the whole Puerto Rico crew who put us up, hung out with us, and showed us around.

After Puerto Rico, we met up with Asshole Parade in Miami and toured back up to Richmond with them. It was cool to meet up with Asshole Parade because they were around in the 1990s when Ruby and I were there in Florida playing in End Of The Century Party and Scrotum Grinder. In fact, End Of The Century Party and Asshole Parade toured Europe for two months in 1999. It was great to meet up with them and play shows with such old friends again. They are still such a good band!

Lory: How do you feel about your new LP on Iron Lung Records, Unity and Fragmentation, overall, as compared to your discography as a whole?

Ruby: I intentionally tried to be a bit more syncopated, as it is certainly not my strong suit, and am really happy with how everything tied together. It is my favorite record so far.

Robert: Ruby’s vocals are the biggest difference to me. I think her efforts reaped pretty huge dividends on the last record.

Mark: I like it a lot. We got a really good sound. It is a little grittier than previous recordings. 

B: I am very happy with it. I think it is catchier than our other stuff, yet at the same time pretty gritty. It wasn’t planned out that way. It just happened spontaneously. I love Ruby’s vocals on that record. They give me goose bumps.

Lory: I understand that Mark now lives in Wisconsin. Obviously, you won’t have very many impromptu or last minute shows anymore. How has his transplant affected the band’s future?

Ruby: I miss seeing Mark every week. His move has been tough at times but we are all committed and will continue to make this work however we need to.

Mark: I think in some ways it has insured our future. From the start of this band there have been periods of inactivity for various other projects or pursuits. Our time playing is less frequent, but super crucial.

Robert: 2014 has been more sporadic than the last couple since Mark left, but there are plans.

Lory: What’s on the horizon for No Statik?

Ruby: We are all busy with other projects and life but we are discussing getting together again this year for some shows and writing new stuff. I don’t think we will have a big tour this year like the past few years, though.

Mark: More of the same with variations, depending on what each of our life-situations allow.

Robert: What Mark said.

B: We will definitely get together sometime in the next year. Maybe for some California shows and recording, or we will go meet Mark in the Midwest. We have some invitations to do some international touring and I really hope we can do some of that in 2015.

You can take a listen to No Statik’s music on their SoundCloud page.