Tetanus Shots on Tour: An Interview with Tractor Sex Fatality by Adam Frederick

After two singles, the self-released Tiny Parts and equally awesome Live it Down (Big Neck Records), Seattle’s Tractor Sex Fatality are accomplishing the only-too-rare feat of releasing not one, but two, full-lengths records in one year: the first to be released, yet officially second album Peel and Eat (Dead Beat Records) and the Big Neck debut Black Magic, White Pussy. Tractor Sex Fatality is not casual listening. Though they tempt comparisons to classic AmRep and Touch and Go noise rock as well as more recent freak-outs like the Hospitals or the Fatals, TSF also ventures into psyche and soundtrack sounds not usually heard in your standard garage punk fare, and those who had the privilege of catching them on their recent tour with the Blowtops know that the band is not short on the “danger” commodity some lament the loss of. I caught up (electronically) with lead singer Rob for a short discussion on TSF, touring and Italian prog-soundtrack gods, Goblin.

Adam: How has having so many line-up changes affected Tractor Sex Fatality? Do you feel that having a revolving door of bandmates makes things tougher or does it help to keep things exciting?
Rob: I suppose there’s been some effects to the sound. We seem heavier and there’s a lot more bludgeon and pummel to the new songs. Less psyche leanings. It does keep it interesting, though. We started out as a more straightforward garage band, albeit a noisy one, and then evolved into almost a doom-hardcore band. I tend to get bored with a certain sound quickly. We traded some instruments around and tightened up after the first record, maybe we’ll loosen again for the next recordings. Add organs and banjos and things like that. I’d like to have some recordings with the double drumming as well… It can be hard going through members like we have, but I like evolving and moving differently to new sounds.
Adam: You just recently got off tour. Any interesting tour stories? For the benefit of those of us that live way out east, how would you describe your live shows?
Rob: The tour went pretty well. It was a great time overall. If the van didn’t suck up thirty dollars a mile in gas, it might have even paid off! As for stories… um, I blew my throat out by the third nite and Ward (drummer) had to go in for a tetanus shot. There was a lot of falling and breaking of things. A lot of dumbfounded stares. We did half of the LA show with a broken bass with one string. Somehow sold the most merch at that one. I learned it’s hard to break pint glasses off yer head. Not like in the movies. Live shows can get a little outta hand. Either we’re spot on, or we’re “spot off.” Guaranteed entertainment either way. I find great enjoyment in watching the environment collapse around our songs. I’m face down on a table somewhere, but the music is working to me. I get up and look back. Dave’s playing upside down from a rafter. John’s hunched over his amp flailing with a mic stand. Ward’s throwing the snare off the stage. And yet there’s still a song buried underneath all the chaos… maybe not a technically proficient song, but hey.
Adam: Any plans for more touring? Maybe out to the Midwest and east coast?
Rob: We’ll probably be going to Buffalo again for the Blood Feast this fall. Texas is in the works. Sometime next year maybe we’ll pull off a Illinois/Midwest area thing.
Adam: What’s the story on your actual debut, Black Magic, White Pussy? Did Peel and Eat come from the same recording sessions? Maybe you could explain a little about the circumstances regarding each record, both in regards to labels and what is unique about each.
Rob: The Black Magic LP was recorded between 2003-2004. It was when we were a six piece. It’s a lot more “spacey” sounding. Shit-tons of noises and saxophone tracks. It’s our attempt at doing Monoshock or Hawkwind or something. Peel and Eat was recorded in March of this year. It was our four piece line-up. Some newer songs and some older tunes we never recorded last time out. This is the “AmRep” record. Hahaha. It’s mostly a live, one-take blow-out. Pretty much sounds exactly like our show without having to worry about possible personal injury. I wasn’t sure how long we were gonna stay with this configuration, so I was glad to get it recorded. I’d hope people who like one will like the other, but you never know.
Adam: I’ve read that some of the earliest Tractor Sex Fatality recordings were soundtrack work? Any plans to do more soundtracks? Is Tractor Sex Fatality going to be the next Goblin?
Rob: Yeah, the first stuff we messed around with was just incidental score music for John’s (the guitarists) 8mm films. Experimental fifteen minute jam-things. Minimal drumming and three guitars making racket and squeals. I would play guitar, turntables, radio waves, whatever. Droning build-up tracks. I’d LOVE to be Goblin. We still mess around and play the tunes from Deep Red occasionally. I’m hoping to work on some films next year as a director (shorts – mock up phony exploitation trailers) and I’ve got ideas for scoring. I hope I can get the other guys into backing me on this. As for the next Goblin, I’m pretty sure Zombi takes the cake for that one. Wow. Live, they’re spot on. I’d assume at least…
Adam: Speaking of… do you have a favorite Goblin record? (If you haven’t already heard it, by the way, you should check out Roller, their non-soundtrack LP.)
Rob: Yeah, Roller‘s good, I’ve got some comp stuff with them under Cherry Five as well. A favorite? Deep Red/ Proffondo Rosso has really moved ahead of the pack recently. Like every score freak out there (and Neubauten fan), Suspiria will still lay to waste most noise rock album or soundtrack in the three decades. I’d like to also say if anyone out there is into the Avant/Noise or Dread-era Wolf Eyes, they should hunt down a copy of Todd Dockstader’s Quartermass LP/CD. Not a soundtrack, but equally as important in my mind as any Goblin soundtrack work….
Adam: Is there a huge backlog of Tractor Sex Fatality recordings from the past? If so, will those ever see the light of day? Tractor Sex Fatality box set maybe?
Rob: We’ve got TONS of field recordings. Since the first practice, a couple of the guys have recorded almost everything. Live shows, audio and video. Practices. Four-track experiments. All of it… about two hundred hours I’d assume. There’s a friend of ours making a documentary tour diary of us that’ll have a lot of show footage in it, though I’m not sure when it’ll be done. We did some early recordings with a friend’s four-track and computer that I made CD’s of once. Bart at Big Neck has the last of them. I figure if people dig Black Time and such… might as well have this out there! Ha ha ha. I like the Black Time stuff quite a bit, by the way. It reminds me of the early shit we did. Practice once, record, release. That’s brilliant to me. Just do it. Next year I’m gonna press some of the highlights of these recordings to vinyl, if anybody cares.
Adam: In your esteemed opinion, what new bands should we be looking out for? Are there any particular records you’re looking forward to?
Rob: Oh Jesus. I listen to so much stuff so often these kindsa questions are hard. I’m pretty up on my record buying like all the other music forum geeks, so I’m not sure if I can surprise anyone here. I’m excited for the new Hospitals LP. I can’t wait to see what happens with them on Load. The first record was godhead to me, the EP… not so much. But I have a good feeling about this. The Functional Blackout’s new stuff. The Worst. There’s a band in Portland called Swimmers that I dig allot. Sorta falls in between Piranhas and Popular Shapes. Golden Boys LP. The Human Eye I want to see live pretty badly. The new Blowtops (duh) and the lost Sagger record as well. There’s a Mystery Girls 7″ coming out of early recordings that destroys. Someone could send me the new Superhelicopter LP, too… can’t find it here in the northwest, damn it.
Adam: What should we be looking forward to in the future from TSF? What about your other bands?
Rob: The DVD. The Early Years EP. I’ve still got a few of the Blowtops/ Tractor Sex Fatality split available. There’s a song on a Repo Man soundtrack comp we’re doing. Maybe some more comp tracks as well. Hoping to pull off some sort of third album of art-fag-composed themes as well. This looks a ways off right now. Something really triumphant and big. Who knows? Dave’s other band (New Fangs – also with ex-TSF bassist, Karlis) has a record coming out soon and a tour in September. Their old band, the Blow Up, are doing a one-off show at the end of the month. August 27th. I suggest everyone fly to Seattle to see it. John’s always recording something and recruiting us to help. I’m just gonna sit on the couch and drink green tea till they pick me up for practice.

www.myspace.com/tractorsexfatality
www.dead-beat-records.com
www.bigneckrecords.com