In the world of industrial metal, the Americans of Lament Cityscape are a discreet but fascinating outsider, and they immerse the listener in an agonizing and distorted world. After a first LP "The Torn" in 2015, and a collaborative album ("Soft Tissue") with Theologian in 2016, Lament Cityscape released in 2020 a series of three EP, "The New Wet", "The Pulsing Wet", and "The Old Wet", and re-released "Soft Tissue (Excised Edition)" in augmented edition.
This is an opportunity for Mike Mc Clatchey, the band’s lead guitarist, to take stock of this busy year.
THE OLD WET
JeanEdernDesecrator : You finally completed this trilogy as you predicted on the winter solstice, in spite of the world mess we're going through, how do you feel about this final chapter ?
Mike Mc Clatchey (Lament Cityscape) : This EP was written in 2016 and early 2017. Unfortunately, there is such a distance from it that I'm more relieved that it's out and I can stop thinking about it and move on. Many things slowed down the process of releasing these EPs, including (but not limited to) trying to get labels to help us release them and just kind of getting jerked around for far too long until all relationships dried up. It is a very personal and very internal set of songs. 'The Old Wet' is the most explicit and obvious of the wet series.
JED : "The Old Wet" seems distant, lost. What did you want to tell musically, and with the lyrics ?
Mike : I think the nature of this project is rather distant. Perhaps creating distance or celebrating the distance. The world inside these releases seem very open and vast but there is definitely a fear or anxiety that comes with that. I wouldn't use the word "lost" with it. To me, there is a very focused intent. Being able to create this little reality certainly helps with the feelings of being lost in the real world, I guess. I'm less interested in telling a clear story or giving a message than I am in building a world that you want to escape to.
JED : A video of "Among the Dead" has been made. What can you tell us about it ?
Mike : Yeah. We've teamed with Neil Corbin several times now. He's an amazing filmmaker. He made the movie version of 'The Torn' and he did the video for 'Running Out of Decay'. As wonderful as those projects were he completely outdid himself with the 'Among the Dead' video. I feel like he turned the song into something bigger and better with his video. It was all done alone, in isolation, and he had to find new ways of shooting and layering and the outcome was just perfect.
JED : For the ending of this trilogy, some could have expected a kind of climax. Didn't you have this idea, at one moment ?
Mike : I'm not sure that there was an intention of a specific climax. It wasn't really meant as a three act story or anything like that. It was more about a broad arc. Splitting the album into three EPs, each with three songs, just started to make sense after it was recorded. 'The Torn' was an obsession on duality, four sets of two songs, even with the song and album titles. The wet series was a breakdown of a transition, which felt like it introduced a new narrator or entity. It started to feel right to be broken up into three sections. I think each EP has its own climax moment, though.
THE WET PROJECT
JeanEdernDesecrator : What is the "WET"? Nothing going on with water ?
Mike Mc Clatchey : I think I convert feelings and emotions to physical objects. Something tangible. It's easier to use language that way for me. I might fuck that language up, but it feels right in this context. To me, the visual idea of things being wet equate to being very alive.
JED : Did you record the three EPs at the same time, or was it one after the other? How do you do as a band from the writing to the studio process ?
Mike : They were all written at the same time. I had recorded the main skeleton of the songs in California. Most of the other members and collaborators live in different states so we didn't really get to see each other much during this process. Seánan flew down from Oregon to record live drums, while Peter flew down and recorded some backing vocals and percussion. Dave sent a bunch of layers from Colorado. Lee (from Theologian) and I collaborate a lot and 'A Rusting Moth' started off as a Theologian demo and I was supposed to add some things to it. I accidentally turned it into a full song and Lee kind of gave it to me. The Theologian version of that song will be released soon.
JED : It seems you had a strong idea of that trilogy, and it's visible with the artworks. You (Mike) did incredible work on them. What is your idea of visual creation ?
Mike : Thanks. It's a lot more texture-based than image-based. I'm not a great painter but I can get the textures and colors that I'm looking for. As you said in one of your reviews, the color scheme was very simple and natural and the progression from very bright to getting darker with time felt right as well.
JED : There were eleven tracks before dividing the album in EPs, what can you say about the two tracks left? Will they be released ?
Mike : Yeah. Annihilvs Power Electronix is going to release a full-length version CD called 'Wet Pneumatic' with all of the songs from the Wet series, two of the demo songs that didn't make it on to the EPs and the Theologian demo of A Rusting Moth. We don't have a release date yet, but we were planning on it being sometime in late-February or early-March.
THE COLLABORATION WITH THEOLOGIAN
JeanEdernDesecrator : The 'Soft Tissue' album with Theologian was re-issued this summer, in an upgraded edition. You felt it needed to be better ?
Mike Mc Clatchey : Well, the initial release of 'Soft Tissue' was really unfortunate. There were a lot of issues in trying to promote it and the mix and master were really rushed and there were just way too many cooks in the kitchen on that one. Lee and I loved the songs and were both broken hearted with how it was released and promoted. It's called "Excised Edition" because there were some personnel changes and we had removed all of the layers from people who were no longer involved. I got to mix everything again without any time restraints and get things where Lee and I were happy with them. Then we got to include all of the great remixes from other artists and included the PiL cover that we had been sitting on for over a year. I updated the artwork and we ended up with a release we were really proud of. It doesn't feel like it connected with people but it still means a lot to me because I learned so much and I felt like it was a turning point for Lament.
JED : There is a huge progression between the album "The Torn" and the "Wet" EPs. Did "Soft Tissue" changed something with Lament Cityscape ?
Mike : Absolutely. I'm a lot more into the idea of always growing and progressing than to rewrite the same album again. 'The Torn' was intended on being more subtle and less one-dimensional than it was, but I think I fucked up somewhere in there. I can see there being a large jump between 'The Torn' and the Wet series, but it feels less abrupt when being so close to the songs, I guess. 'Soft Tissue' pulled me out of wherever I was with 'The Torn' and I got into a very different mindset with how to create songs for Lament.
JED : How did worked this collaboration with Lee Bartow ? What did he think of the reissue ?
Mike : Theologian and Lament already had a mutual respect for each other, but through other people we had been introduced and the idea was posed to do some kind of album together. He lives in New York and I was in California at the time. We jumped right into writing the album together. He would send layers of sounds and I would kind of piece them together and write rock songs on top of them. Sometimes, I would send rock songs to him and he would send back layers for them. Almost all of the lyrics were written by Lee and almost all of the vocals you hear are his. I'm in there here and there, but Lee was definitely the main singer on that album. As for his current feelings on it... I hope he's proud of it. He should be. He did a killer job. We both hope people end up feeling something from it.
THE SOUND OF LAMENT
JeanEdernDesecrator : There are a lot of rhythmic elements in your music, with beats, real drums and samples. What is the part of your drummer Seánan in all that ?
Mike Mc Clatchey : Lament is really more rhythm-based than anything else. If we could play with eleven drummers live I would be happy. I tend to write and record many layers of percussion so when we record live drums Seánan tends to play the main live beat. Sometimes I do, but Seánan is an amazing drummer and has a specific style of playing that I love. He brings a life to the coldness that I tend to start with.
JED : The sound of Lament Cityscape is unique, playing with saturation and all kinds of destructive effects... How do you manage to do that ?
Mike Mc Clatchey :
JED : What's your approach to singing and lyrics ?
Mike : I'm so uncomfortable with that process. I feel great when they are done but I hate doing it.
JED : When listening to Lament Cityscape, I can hear influences from Godflesh and Nine Inch Nails... what do you think of these bands ?
Mike : They are bands that showed me how you can connect with people through music. I know there are times where I wear my influences on my sleeve. Like I said, I hope each release does sound different but I'm sure I can't escape my influences. Maybe I'll just hide them better in the future.
JeanEdernDesecrator : I saw you moved from Oakland, CA to Buffalo, WY... Any consequences on the band ?
Mike Mc Clatchey : Since the live band were already living in different states it didn't really change things. Our focus is to tour once or twice a year once things open up to where we can do that safely and responsibly. We had a tour booked to start late April 2020 but obviously that was cancelled. When we plan to do so we'll just get together and rewrite a set to work in a live setting, depending on what kind of tour it is.
JED : Will the three parts of "Wet" be reunited in a way or another? Seeing a concert of the "Wet" would be amazing, with augmented versions of the songs, psychedelic lights, and frightening videos, for example...
Mike : Yeah, Wet Pneumatic will include everything. We are shooting for CDs and cassettes, and maybe a small run of LPs. Were we talking about recording a live set but we'll see if we can pull that off. When we are able to do live shows again we want it to be something bigger than we've done in the past. We want you to feel something that lasts.
JED : Do you have an idea of the next step for Lament Cityscape? Do you work on some new music ?
Mike : I currently have the music done for a new album and I'm in the process of writing lyrics for it. I'm beyond excited about it and hope I can find someone to help us release it in 2021
Thanks to Mike Mc Clatchey for his answers and his availability !