This interview originally appeared in Profane Existence #33 (Fall 1997). The interview was conducted before their gig in Leipzip, Germany during their European tour in June of 1997. Questions were asked by Jon of Profane Existence. M=Mauz, T=Todd, D=Dino.
How long have you been going as a band?
M: Six years, we started in 1991.
You guys have been together for a while, but it
seems that during the past couple of years you've been doing a lot of touring.
What's been the motivation after so long to get out and tour a lot?
T: Being in other bands besides Dystopia i think i had a lot to do with it. Mauz played guitar in Mindrot, and Dino used to
play drums in Carcinogen. So that made things go a little more slowly at
first. But I think that we all just got a lot more motivated.
D: Plus Dan left the band.
T: That changed things.
He was your singer before?
D: Yeah. After he left the band, me and Mauz took
over vocals and we started writing more music. We wanted to record and Michael
from Common Cause had us record six songs for the LP. Then we got a conglomerate
of all of our stuff previous to that and he released it on CD for us. Then he offered us a tour and we actually got knocked on our ass because we weren't even expecting to tour, we hadn't even toured the United States. We had pretty much just written songs and went into the studio and then we were doing them on tour. So it was like, the music was really fresh and to go to Europe for the first time was kinda scary. After we got back from Europe that motivated us a lot because we saw how easy it was in Europe and how difficult it was going to be in the United States. We didn't know, we had just heard horror stories. So it actually motivated us to tour ourselves.
T: We got to see how much more organized the scene out here is and I think that helped us to get a little bit more back into it.
M: For me, I had traveled a bit before, just as a person. So I got a chance to meet up with a lot of people through traveling.
So that inspired me to keep in touch with a lot of these people and come back with the band too- a network.
This is your second tour in Europe. Are things different? Do you feel more comfortable because you have more contacts?
D: Yeah and no. We're playing a lot of new places, places we didn't play last time. It's kinda new, but we're not stupid tourists anymore. We understand that you have to convert money before you go into a town. There are certain things you have to do to make the tour go a lot
M: Sarcasm never translates.
D: Yeah, that's a good thing to know that sarcasm
doesn't translate into other languages.
D: Sometimes it does, but you've got to be very careful with it.
T: We're just not freaked out all the time from having it be an all new experience. So it makes it a little more easy to
keep our head level again.
D: Plus lots of new friends.
T: And lots of old friends.
M: Like seeing someone you met three or four years
ago that came to see you.
About your lyrics... on your earlier releases they were more grim and more personal, but on more recent releases, they seem
more topical. Do you feel that this is a progression?
D: For me, it's the way it happens. For a while,
I think me Todd and Mauz were all having a lot of strife and conflict in our own lives so the band was a good release for us because we not only got anger out but were able to deal with our problems. Since we were all fucked up it was no problem. I think now, people started getting their shit together mentally.
T: Don't include me.
D: Yeah, well Todd's the exception. I'm OK I guess. As far as our last releases, the lyrics are more political, but more of
a sarcastic political thing. We wrote songs about the military which basically says that if you really decide in your heart that you want to fight for
the country and go off and join the military, that we don't want you to come back. Basically, it gives a bitter, sarcastic, go fuck yourself attitude
on the album (split LP with Skaven). The last seven inch was kinda the same, but a little more political. The new stuff that's coming out is actually
more like the CD stuff only because we've been taking a lot more time with our music. We've been trying to piece together, we're starting to learn
to vary our lyrics to get different pitches and get different things to sound. We're having more intricate lyrics these days. The last song that was written is kinda grim but it's a part of my life, I think a part in everyone's life, that's dealt with having a gun in the house and knowing that you can go upstairs on any given day and put it in at your head. The thing is, that people buy guns for protection, but sometimes they shouldn't have them in the house because the most protection they need is to not have them. They turn on themselves a lot easier than they turn on other people.
T: I like our new songs. I think we were getting a little too happy positive for a little while.
D: Well, not anymore. Actually the new songs are more along the lines of human conflict, human error, and most of all human
confusion. Not being able to explain things, not knowing where you're going
in life. Wondering if you make one decision, is it going to affect your
whole life. And when you look back on your life and see how past decisions
made you go one directions and end up meeting certain people or not meeting
other people or falling in one group and not falling in another group. It's
kinda weird, people are all growing older so we can actually look back and
start to learn. You start to get patterns in life. Maybe as you get older,
that's how you start to get wiser- to understand what patterns are going.
Mauz and Dino- you moved to Oakland recently from
Southern California. Is it difficult to keep the band going while living
so far apart from each other?
M: Yes and no. Yes because we practice less frequent.
D: Not between me and you.
M: Yeah, but with Todd we commute. We do our best.
We practice a good week out of every month. The time we spend, we're more
focused and more determined to get things done.
Southern California and the Bay Area are quite different places. What made you decide to mover there? Personal reasons?
M: Yeah, especially for me. When I left Orange County I was really having problems. I had been traveling a lot and every
time I came back it was really rough seeing so many people just trapped in their lifestyles and trapped in their crazy jobs. Most people, a lot of my friends kinda gave up. A lot of them are still interested in punk or doing something besides working or drinking, but have kind of an odd focus and kind of gave up. I have problems living like that. I'm a lot happier
now- I can sustain myself a lot easier, I can find jobs easier, I'm around a lot of people who are busy and are doing things. Oakland is a big party town or whatever, everyone drinks and stuff, but at the same time it's easier for alcoholics to survive. You're more accepted. The police aren't always harassing you.
D: As for Oakland... I don't really know why I
moved there. I was gonna move out of my house and it was really cheap to go. I thought that me and Mauz would probably get more things done, because
at the time Todd was all fucked up. I thought that we'd have band practice better if I went up to Oakland, because if I stayed out here Todd was in
this mode where he sat in his room and smoked pot all day long and hated everybody. So we came up and it was better for Todd too because he had a place to go away from all the shit that he was used to. If he ever wants
to freak out, he can come to our house, mellow out and sit around the house and play a show and do some jamming. The only thing I think is bad for you
is bus rides.
T: I usually get rides.
M: I think it's also really good for us. We still
are basically an Orange County band. We're not like "Oh, we're from
D: We're definitely not an East Bay or West Bay band.
M: But the thing is, I think it's really helpful with the networking We have a lot of friends in northern California, a lot
of our friends from southern California are coming up, bands from northern
California are coming down. It makes it more apt to travel and go out to
play a show in LA and then go play in Oakland. It makes life a bit more
D: I met a lot of nice people in Oakland, but I think Oakland sucks.
M: Basically everywhere you go... But I'm fairly happy where I am.
Your music has a really heavy and metalish sound with death metal characteristics. Its seems you would have a lot of appeal in that scene and a lot of bands as started in the same period that you
did have taken that path...
D: In the death metal scene?
T: I don't like death metal.
D: OK, here's the deal- Todd does not like death metal. Period.
T: Our earlier shit has a grind edge, or whatever. But I think it's got a lot more powerful and complex.
D: See, I like death metal.
The point of the question is- have you had any offers from that sort of scene to sign to a label or whatever?
T: No, not really.
D: Yeah, but we're not saying anything., not a
T: I don't even know what you're talking about.
M: We've never really gotten...
T: Well we got a letter from TVT Records one time
back in 1993 or 1994, but we laughed and threw it away.
M: Nine Inch Nail's record label. I think they
just got our address out of Maximum RocknRoll. Like they saw a review of our tape and wrote.
D: I had two labels mailing me stuff all the time.
Like- here, have stuff, here's a CD, here's this and that. Then they were saying- hey are you guys interested, are you thinking about getting signed?
And I said no, I don't think so. I think we're interested in trying to make it to practice on time. That was about it. We get to practice, we go "OK
we're gonna practice for five hours". We smoke about four joints, we fuck around, something's not right with the sound, someone keeps fucking
with their knobs, and then "Ooops, my string broke" on the first song. Then you sit down, you smoke five joints...
T: We're usually 45 minutes late to begin with.
D: So you end up practicing for about an hour. So you know it's really hard.
T: Some of us run around the house and stress out
all day too.
D: So, no label interest. It's all on Mauz and Todd's shoulders- D.I.Y. I can say personally that this band will never, ever get on a label. This whole thing was made by ourselves, we made everything.
It's rough- Mauz is probably going to die at an earlier age than most people because of stress and coffee. There is a lot that has to happen to do a
DIY thing, but at the end of it all, after you're completely fucking run
down, you can lift your head up and say "I did it all myself, I didn't
have no easy ride, I had no one carrying me. We did it ourselves."
We don't know, our whole lives could be over soon and it's the only thing
you could really look back at and say "I did something, I made something
for myself, and all the people who said I would fail at it and I'm a stupid
idiot can all fuck off."
So you wouldn't tour with Ozzy Ozbourne?
D: No... Well, maybe if he roadied for us and did back up vocals.
Here's something that we were talking about last
night. A lot of American bands, people and punks come over here to Europe and see the squats and the togetherness that a lot of the squats here have. A common reaction is "We could never have anything like this in the States." But the fact is that people had to put up a lot of fights
in the late '80s, and suffer pretty much what you would expect if you tried this at home. Do you agree with the attitude that it is not possible, or
do we really need to strive harder?
D: It's not a problem of police and government, it's a problem with all the people themselves. First of all, a house that
you're gonna be able to squat, say in California, if there was a squat like a ranch or a part of land, you would have less of a problem squatting that
than squatting something, say in Santa Anna, a house that the police boarded up for drugs. You move into it, you start fixing everything that's fucked
up, you start running lines and everything- you're not only gonna have to deal with the cops, you're gonna have to deal with the gang members in the
neighborhood, you're gonna have to deal with the people around you who don't want you there and will be complaining to the cops every fucking day. Up
here, it's a little different. Back where we're from, if you're poor, if you're on the street, your prone for jail. It doesn't matter what week it is, one day you know you're gonna go to jail. Because you can't be poor and on the street in America. The police want you off the streets because you make the property values go down. It's a whole different system where
we live. I could see squats happening, but only in places where they're desolate and there's no townspeople. Like on a ranch or on a farm, or maybe
a quite city. But in California, in Oakland, in Los Angeles, in the area where I'm from, if you asked me if I thought there could be a squat there,
I'd say no.
M: You're evicted three times as quick.
D: Maybe you'll be there for maybe a month. Maybe.
T: Not in southern California I don't think.
D: Yeah, you're right. I don't know. It's scary because there's guns on the street. People can walk into your squat and just hold you up and rob your shit- what you do have. Because they know
your not gonna call the cops. It works both ways. If you chose to start a squat in America, you'd have to have your own guns, and say fuck you and
fight. It can only go so far here (Europe). You don't see people with automatic weapons firing at cops. Where we live, people might do that, they might
not. But you have to realize that with one gun shot, the whole army is gonna come and blow up the house and kill everybody inside. It's a little different
here. They'll try bashing front door down first. They don't do that where we're from without throwing gas bombs and sending the swat teams in. I don't
know man, it's a hard question. We talked about this the other night, we talked about it all night long.
M: I don't think that people are as enthusiastic and will work with each other. I don't speak German, I don't speak French,
but people that are squatting here seem to have more respect for their roommates
or other people surrounding them. It seems that there's more working together
and more of a punk community. You go to all these punk houses (in the U.S.) and stuff and half the people are really energetic and doing shit while
the other half are just fucking milking it and getting drunk to no end. Or even people bickering about politics are this and that. It seams to me
that houses start up with punks or random people where they can't put up with each other or tolerate each other and a lot of shit fails because there
is already the internal conflicts. From what I've seen in Europe, people eat together, families seem tighter, I think peoples' general attitudes
toward doing things with a lot of people is more like...
M: Definitely. You're kind of on your own in the
U.S. You always have your good friends and stuff, but everyone is on their own different trip of working or loafing around. Everyone eats at different
times. There's not a common time where everyone who lives there hangs out and drinks beer or whatever. It's always more in and out.
So what do think can be done to change this?
M: Maybe put your walls down a bit more, be more
patient. That's all I can really say.
D: And be patient with people you don't know. Maybe
not so much as to let them into your house, but I've seen a lot of people in the scene come in who are new and everyone just kind of shuns them out.
Like "Oh, who's this guy?". Everything's become separated. It's not as unified as it once was. All the emo kids hang out with the emo kids,
the straight edgers with the straight edgers, the punks with the punks, the crusties with the crusties. It becomes like a soap opera and it's really
stupid. We do shows with two different types of bands so that different people will come- but nobody talks to each other. There's no sharing, no
communication. If people would learn to maybe walk up to someone, say "How
you doing", and hand them a beer, sit down with someone new and maybe learn something. Maybe start a community like that. Get a youth center or
something. There's a lot of people who write fanzines who are getting together. Maybe people who distribute records would want to go in on a house together.
You never know.
From touring around America lately I've noticed that it's been getting better. Do you agree?
D: In America I've been running into death metallers at our shows. I run into weird people. We run into hip-hop people who say
"I saw your record, we saw the lettering on it, so I thought I'd come check your band out. And I really liked it." And here, we see a lot
of weird people at shows.
M: It's definitely not always one genre of people.
D: And everyone gets along. Everyone kicks back and has a good time, most of the time. There's problems everywhere. But
it looks like there's a lot more togetherness. It's more like "Hey, we're all in the same fucking boat" type idea. Where we're from it's
more of a fashion show or a macho thing. But it's starting to improve. There's so many good bands coming out of America- so many people touring, so many
more people opening up their houses to bands.
M: And so many more people traveling.
D: It might get better if it doesn't get abused.
Tonight's gig is being recorded for a split 10"
with Eye Hate God. How did that come about?
T: This friend of mine, Jason from Detroit, had
a really good live soundboard tape of them. So that gave me the idea. Then I was talking in Colorado and we came up with this idea to share the costs
and do the split label thing. When they played in Colorado, my friend saw them, talked to Mike and hit him up with the idea and he said he'd definitely
be into it. I'll be quite broke and pretty in debt when I get home, so it's probably gonna be a little while.
You're gonna release it on your label?
T: Yeah, probably with two or three labels.
Do you think it would be strange to do a record with a bigger band that's in metal magazines and is really well known? Do you think people will give you shit about that?
T: I don't really care because I like them. We've been listening to them since before their CD was out
M: I used to write to Mike long ago. He was supposed to sing for Man Is The Bastard a long time ago.
D: That wouldn't have went over very well.
M: One thing that I like about the band is that we've done a lot of split records and it seems that every band that we've
done a split record with is totally different with each other. Different styles of music, different lyrics.
What happened with Todd getting arrested in Luxembourg with counterfeit money?
T: Some speed addict where I live stole it, and
it came into my possession. I didn't look at it that closely, I didn't figure that it could be counterfeit. I tried to spend it at a gas station in Luxembourg,
and he decided it was counterfeit and wrote down the license number of our car and everything. The police came and took me to the police station. They
sat me down into a room with a twenty pound ink blotter and two razor blades on the desk in front of me, took off their gun, put it in a drawer and locked
it. They asked me a lot of questions. I just told them it was a gift from a friend and I had no idea. So a couple of them looked over it with a magnifying
glass and they said "Oh, we think it's OK. It's just old or something." They gave it back to me. When we got back to the house the next day, we
compared it with a real 100 Mark note and it was completely fake. It was a color copy or something with some shit stuck to it.
M: The silver strip was only like chunks of it.
T: When you hold it up to a light it should thread through it.
D: It didn't do that.
T: So I was really surprised that I pulled that off. So we gave it this guy...
D: The guy probably reads MaximumRocknRoll with the one hand he's got.
M: Ha ha ha... you should stop.
D: You think something will happen? You never know.
What about rumors? Do you want to talk about this?
D: Oh God! I want to talk about this because it's funny. Basically, a friend and I were talking, and another band, Painted Thin, were having dinner and listening to our conversation. We were trading Faces Of Death videos, and he but a big 1000 pound naked lady named Fatty
Pig Monster at the very beginning of the video, like a five second clip to gross me out. We were talking about it and laughing and stuff. The next
thing I know, we get to another town and I have people coming up to me saying "So, we heard that you deal porno tapes and snuff films through the
mail and that you're a macho drunk." I said "OK, I weigh about a buck thirty five so I'm very macho. As for the porno and snuff films-
I can't even write people letters back when they send me stuff, so to run a porno distribution out of my house would be rather hard because I'm a
lazy bastard." So these rumors got around and a couple shows got fucked up. I've had to basically explain myself every night for the last eleven
M: I don't know about that, not in Italy.
D: Not in Italy. It was Switzerland and Germany and it's gonna be more because they're ahead of us on tour. But we're only
about an hour away from them in about three weeks, and we're gonna go talk to them. We're gonna learn them some lessons. So I guess that's about it
with that. Rumors are stupid, but I guess they're everywhere. It really sucks because we're over in Europe trying to have a good time, and I can't
get drunk without having to explain this shit. It also sucks because nobody asked us. Everybody just said "Oh, that's Ddystopia". First it
was the drummer, then it reflected on the whole band. It was a defamation of character, and that's really hard to clear up. I don't want to do that.
It's none of their business what I do in my life anyway until I choose to talk about it. And these guys kind of exploited that fact.
So do you think that people canceled gigs here because of these rumors?
D: One was, yeah. Then they wanted to set up more
and we said no. Because they found out it was a lie. I had people come up to me and apologize without me even talking to them. It just really bothers
be because I've been involved in this band for so long, and to have the character of this band to be defamated by something so stupid.
M: The lyrics are quite different from views like that.
D: We had a person write us a letter about the song "Love Hate". We even put a note at the bottom of the song, saying what it was about...
What's the song about?
D: It's about abuse, domestic violence, how love can be so easily turned to hate and how you sometimes hate something so much that you learn to love it. It's just about things not working out in
relationships and people's heads. The song is not about sexism- we explained it. We didn't even think we need to, but we said there might be some people...
The samples are a little rough, so we didn't want to make people to think that we're some fucking asshole sexists. Anyway, we get a letter from this
guy who says we're sexist. At the bottom, it says it's not sexist, but he claims it is. We thought it wasn't even worth it to write him back. I think
that you can't be too literal in life, if you are you miss out on a lot of good humor.
M: I think that a lot of people are always looking for something wrong with you.
Looking for holes in your character...
M: Yeah, exactly. I'm not perfect, like everyone else, and I'm trying harder really to keep my mouth shut if I don't like
somebody or whatever and not talk shit. It's a waste of my time and everyone else's.
D: It's a waste of thoughts, to spend thoughts on a person.
M: Like right now!
Well, that's all the questions I have... Anything you'd like to say...
D: Spray paint on everything, drink as much as
you can, smoke a lot of herb...
M: Be nice to your friends.
D: Be nice to your dog and no fishing without a license.
M: Don't beat your kids.
D: Yeah, don't beat your kids either cuz they'll
turn out like me and that wouldn't be good.
D: I intend to go to the doctor when I get home.
T: To make it home alive. That's about all the future plans I have right now.
M: To work on new material for a full length.
D: It'll happen, but who knows how long. We could all crash in the plane on the way back from Europe.
T: At least I'd die happy.
D: The tape is running out, so cheers to Dan from Profane Existence. Thanks for your help. I want to say that. And peace, equality, grind the mind. Cheers!
Contact DYSTOPIA c/o
Life Is Abuse
P.O. Box 20524
Oakland, CA 94620
Beach, CA 92646