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Interview: Into The Void

Interview: Into The Void

Thursday 6th November, 2014 2:07PM

As subjects of a new documentary, noise merchants Into The Void have been pulled out of the proverbial woodwork to play a string of shows. As legend tells it, the Christchurch-based group formed while the members were at art school back in 1987 and then they fell into making the shambolic sound which Into The Void became known for. Ahead of their Wellington shows and film screenings over the next we caught up with three of the band's current members, Dave Imlay (bass), Jason Greig (guitar) and James Greig (guitar), to ask Seven Quick Questions...

UTR: Hi! First off, can you please tell us a little bit about Into the Void?

Dave: The story goes the original members met at art-school but actually we all met at a bar. The current members are Ronnie van Hout (Vocals), Jason Greig (Guitar), James Greig (Guitar). Paul Sutherland (Gramophone, Dave Imlay (Bass), Mark Whyte (Drums). Not sure what music we make but it's mostly a sprawling mess of sound.

Jason: Mark and I met at art school in 1983 I think. We hit it off and began hanging out. I was into metal and Mark is Beatles freak. Common ground was old delta blues, George Thorogood, ZZ Top and most importantly The Butthole Surfers. We egged each other on to form a group… called the Deaf Mutants. I'd recently moved into a flat where Paul lived. He had the practice room on High Street and one thing lead to another and Mark and I would jam up there and Paul joined in. While Ronnie was visiting Mark once he inquired about what we were up to and “tried out“ and we had our singer… ITV Mk I. Years pass...... I meet my cousin James at gigs in Christchurch and eventually he joins , first on bass, freeing Paul to do “his thing”. Dave is good friends with James and they form Fence, who support us from time to time. Dave is musical and joins on bass for our 10th anniversary gig and isn't let go.... ITV Mk II.

Every member of the band has influences they bring to the band, consciously or unconsciously. Every body is constantly listening to new stuff so it has evolved and continues on that path. It's not a heavy metal band but it's heavy. It's not an art band...but it's art. It's our take, for good or for bad, on something we all love and think is art, and that's rock music. It's rock and it's electric.

James: They started in 1987, just for the hell of it. Ronnie, Jason, Paul, Mark. They were berserk and sounded grotty. I was a huge fan before I joined in 1992, as their bass player. I was no longer a fan, hated playing bass, roped Dave in in 1996 and switched to guitar, so I could make more noise. I'm a nurse in Melbourne.

The band’s history is the subject of recent documentary made by Margaret Gordon. How did the project come about? Was there any initial reluctance to take part?

Dave: Margaret has previously had a background in student radio and we already had a bit of a history with her because of that. She approached us about making the documentary and we thought that if anyone wants to spend that much time making a film on us, we should let them. Yes, there was some reluctance at the beginning (it's not the most natural thing to have a camera shoved in your face!) but we are pleased with the result.

Jason: I had reservations myself because of my alcoholism and hearing how that had affected the others in the band and realising how it had affected them as friends and how it had hamstrung the band. Basically fear about fronting up to my fuck up. It proved to be not as bad as I imagined and it got the band back to playing… all good.

James: The project came about because Margaret Gordon doesn't think like most people. The only reluctance we had was: "Why the Heck would you wanna do a doco on US?!". We were certainly chuffed though.

How did you feel when you watched it for the first time?

Dave: Hysterical (in the funny sense) and a bit squeamish…

Jason: Really pleased at how professional it looked... and sounded. Amazed at how much old footage had been found and how the whole story kinda played out. Happy in most of it and extremely sad and uncomfortable in a few places.

James: Nervous and stupid. It's one thing to regret saying something with a bad haircut, but on the big screen, it's a special corner of hell. But seriously, I was absolutely blown away by it. Even if we weren't the subject, I thought it was a fantastic film (still do), made with love, respect and talent on behalf of those involved in making it.

You initially started in and around art school. How are the visual arts tied into what Into The Void does?

Dave: I don't know. I hate art! But we are all cultural pariahs.

Jason: People in the art scene come and watch us play.

James: I'm a nurse. What I visualise everyday makes me wanna stick my head in my amp until it's vapourised.

Over the decades you have only produced two albums, why such a limited output? And are there any plans for any future releases?

Dave: Yes working on a compilation album with a lot of live unreleased stuff and there's plans for a live album yet to be recorded. And there's that difficult third album - watch this space!

Jason: We're lazy and we're idiots. Plus I doubt whether people in the music business would have, or will ever take us, or our sound seriously… especially in New Zealand. Now because we're too old and ugly, and back in the day because we didn't sound like, or didn't aspire to sound like, a Flying Nun band. Yes there is a compilation in the pipeline. And Mark and I would like to harass the other members into coming up with new material as well as recording the old stuff we haven't recorded yet. Better make some art to sell, to make money, to afford to make some other art....I guess.

James: We're lazy. We're a hobby band. Two of us live in a different country. We have careers. Apparently there's a compilation coming out soon. I'm told we have enough material to make a new album, so I guess I'll show up for that.

What is the most memorable gig you have played in your time together?

Dave: Christchurch Art Gallery as part of their "paradigm-shift" program. They decided to be more adventurous by getting a rock band to play in their foyer. We played and they never let anything happen on that scale ever again.

Jason: The gig in Australia in the old theatre opposite Lunar Park. The theatre was beautiful and they provided top class gear to play on. We were surrounded by arty fuckwits doing pretentious crap and we played rock'n'roll.

James: We once played to four people (everyone else had escaped to the poolroom). A guy came up to me afterwards and said: "I could play like that. That was bullshit.” To which I replied: "Yes, you could play like us, but you don't, so that's bullshit too." The most memorable show is always the last one though. Auckland was a blast!

This weekend will be your first gigs in Wellington in a long time, what can show-goers expect?

Dave: At the Dowse we'll be an instrumental soundtrack band and at Moon it'll be the whole enchilada. The band has long had a history with Flying Nun bands like Bailterspace, The Clean,The Axemen and The Terminals. We are a bit like all and yet none of them.

Jason: Expect and bunch of middled-aged mayhem.

James: We've had a lot of practices this year, on stage. We have our shit together, as much as we're ever going to, I think. You can expect some kind of cross between heavy metal and The Fall. It should be loud.

The Into The Void documentary is screening tonight at The Dowse in Lower Hutt from 6pm, and the band are playing from 7.20pm. Then on Friday night the film will be screening at The Paramount and Into the Void will be performing at Moon, head over here for details.


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