This is another old find – must be from late 1997 – which accompanies the Cubanate one for Cybase23. I have re-edited it and added in a bit more information, because frankly it wasn’t very interesting. Rhys Fulber is a founder member of pioneers FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY and techno chart-toppers DELERIUM.
Gurgle gurgle gurgle! The sound is quite unlike anything I have ever heard. He does it again – a little laugh that sounds like a gurgling hiccup – almost exactly like a young infant. Gurgle gurgle gurgle! It’s absolutely fascinating. I’ve never heard a laugh quite like it – it is quite the oddest giggle in existence, and it’s utterly infectious. The laugh belongs to a chap in his late twenties, with long hair, a cute baby face and funny little glasses perched on the end of his angular nose. He looks a lot thinner than I remember him, and his hair is longer. It’s a stoner’s laugh. He’s got that hazy stoned quality about him, even when he’s sober. He laughs a lot. He’s attractive in a geeky kind of way, and he’s an underground legend in his own lifetime. His name is Rhys Fulber.
Rhys: Industrial fanzines are so narrow in their outlook. I mean, I never listen to that music.
Rhys feels uncomfortable with his association with industrial music, even though Rhys Fulber, and partner-in-crime Bill Leeb have produced some of the greatest music in the industrial genre. Front Line Assembly’s Plasticity and Delirium’s Incantation are still two of the finest dancefloor favourites in the Western hemisphere, yet Rhys is bored with the music he’s been making, and wants to try something else.
My first memory of Rhys Fulber isn’t actually what happened at all. I remember seeing one of his swansong shows with Front Line Assembly, in 1996. The empty stage was filled with dry ice and, as the plumes of smoke gradually cleared, the band were revealed in all their stark glory. They delivered a killer show and were the absolute epitome of cool.
Or so I thought.
Turns out that, actually, Rhys had wandered onstage from the side curtain, been unable to see where he was going in the fog, had fallen sideways off the stage, and had been forced to quickly run back round and back onto the stage to take his place behind the keyboard before the smoke cleared.
The funny little Canadian hippy was born in 1970 to a German father and a British mother. He ran into Skinny Puppy’s Bill Leeb in 1984, and the two formed Front Line Assembly – a powerfully caustic blend of fierce EBM beats and fledgling techno samples, which veered over the years from thrashy dance-metal to ambient soundtracky noodling. Always on the forefront of the musical mix, they threw breakbeats and whatever else was new into whatever they touched – and Rhys got plenty of work as a producer, as I met him here, working with Cubanate, became a near-permanent fixture for Fear Factory, and worked with a ton of other people, too.
On Devin Townsend
Rhys: I’m doing a project with Devin Townsend from Strapping Young Lad. He used to sing with Steve Vai. Strapping Young Lad is just him f***ing around – he’s actually far more talented than that. He just does all that metal s*** for fun. He’s got this huge vocal range, kinda like a male Bjork – he’s got a really interesting voice. We’re gonna do this album that will be like Karma (Delirium album) – like trip-hop but moodier. We want to experiment with drum and bass, bringing together various types of music to see what we can come up with. It will be really dramatic, with strings and piano. I go into it with this attitude, if you’re going to do something, don’t copy everyone else. It’s got to be original. I was talking to Greg from Paradise Lost about another project, but that’s way too embryonic to talk about.
Rhys: I don’t like tobacco. It makes me really ill… I smoke the Other Stuff. I think I smoked too much now, I’m taking a break from it at the moment. I was losing the ability to differentiate between different realities. That’s when you need to stop. So, I’m not smoking when I’m over here.” Rhys lives in Amsterdam at the moment – and if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s been adversely influenced by cEvin “joint-for-breakfast” Key, of Skinny Puppy/Download fame. “cEvin was visiting Amsterdam, and things got pretty bad, heheheh… I mean, I don’t smoke that much, even though I live there, but cEvin made me laugh, heheheh… I mostly just smoke when I’m in the studio – you can focus on things and ignore the rest. I mean, I don’t need to smoke pot, so I’m not smoking for the time being. Still, it can f*** things up, like I’ll stand in the shop trying to make the most petty decision, like what flavour crisps to choose, or I’ll have to go to the bank, and it’s like “Go back to the studio!” I can do the most complicated s***, but the little things…
Rhys: My last Front Line Assembly show was on a Canadian Awards show. Plasticity won Best Alternative Video. The Roskilde festival was the best show we ever played. We knew it was our last show together. It was amazing – it was like this big goodbye. That’s where we should have recorded the live video. The amount of people doesn’t matter, but there were seven or eight thousand people getting into it. There was just so much energy and people were so into it. It was amazing. That whole 1996 tour was cool – some of our best ever shows. I knew I was going to leave the band, so I wanted to leave on a high point. That high point was, I think, the Roskilde show.
On Side Projects
Rhys: I can’t see myself getting involved in Delirium any more. I just don’t associate with those people, not because I hate them or anything, but just because we move in different circles and I’m living in Amsterdam now. I don’t know if Bill’s going to carry on with Delirium or any of the side projects. I can’t speculate on what he’s doing, and I haven’t seen him in a while. The whole Vancouver scene thing is a myth, there is no Vancouver scene. There’s nothing there except the mountains. I miss the mountains, but nothing else. I guess that’s why I left…
On Drum and Bass
Rhys: Nine Inch Nails do drum and bass? When? On Perfect Drug? That’s a rock song! Oh, you mean that tiny little break? That doesn’t count, I mean, drum and bass? I can’t hear it.” So Rhys doesn’t rate Trent Reznor’s attempt to cash in on the D&B bonanza. Other D&B/industrial crossover acts score similar zeroes in Rhys’ estimations. “As for TVOD, they must have got their name from that Daniel Miller song. I can’t comment on this industrial stuff though, because I don’t listen to it. I listen to Metalheadz. Roni Size and Reprazent was like a new type of music. I felt privileged to hear it. In 1991 I was in London, really into the techno scene. I started to get into drum and bass then. Only now is drum and bass really happening. Now people have more identity, whereas techno started out really anonymous. With jungle, anything goes, which is really cool.
Rhys: I’m producing the new Cubanate record and we’re going for a drum and bass element on it. If you take away the vocals and guitars, you’ve got drum and bass. We’re building it up bit by bit, creating original music, rather than just using samples. We spend hours f***ing around for the right sound, and layer them on top of each other. I didn’t like using sampled beats in Front Line Assembly. I think you should do it yourself, even if it sounds bad. It shows creativity.
Rhys: We had some really interesting people in the band. On the previous Delirium record, we got this girl called Kristy (Thirsk) to do the vocals. Sarah MacLachlan sang on one record, and her backing vocalist, Camille (Henderson), sang on another. Jaqui (Hunt) from Single Gun Theory has sung for us as well.
Other vocalists on the project include Leigh Nash (of Sixpence None the Richer), Lisa Gerrard (sampled only), Jaël (of Swiss band Lunik), Nerina Pallot, Emily Haines (of Metric), and Isabel Bayrakdarian. Other than Leeb. only two males have contributed vocals to a Delerium album: Matthew Sweet (Daylight, on Poem) and Greg Froese (Apparition, on Nuages du Monde); in addition, the noted griot Baaba Maal was sampled (Awakenings, on Spiritual Archives).
The Mediæval Bæbes provided the vocal track for, and starred in the video of, Aria; the vocals are an adapted version of the vocals from All Turns to Yesterday on the Bæbes’ Worldes Blysse album. They are also featured on two tracks from Delerium’s 2006 album, Nuages du Monde.
On Bill Leeb
Rhys: We led different lives, which was fine. We would come together for the studio, and tours, and then go back to our own things. We had our differences, but over time these were ironed out. It wasn’t like there was a Loud One and a Quiet One among us. We kinda took it in turns. We’re both pretty laid back – I think it’s a kinda Canadian demeanour. The dynamics depended on the situation. Sometimes Bill would be outspoken and I would be silent, and sometimes it would be the other way round.
Rhys: I’m happier, now. It got to the point in FLA where it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Art is not a business. It’s got to be something that really means a lot to you, or it just isn’t worth doing. Production was more fun, so that’s what I left to do. Still, after a while of doing other people’s stuff, I wanted to do a project of my own. After the Fear Factory stuff is released, I get to go home and do my own stuff.
Rhys: I don’t really have anyone that I say “Wow, I’d love to be them,” or “Wow, I’d love to work with them.” I’m looking forward to working with Devin. I like Paradise Lost – I like some of their songs, so that’s pretty cool. I’d like to do some more Tea Party stuff, but I don’t set myself arrogant lofty goals. I like programming on my own, which is good. I don’t have any fantasies about who I’d like to work with, though. I mean, what would I offer them? I really like Paradise Lost, though, so it was really cool when I met them.
Marc Heal, and some of his dastardly companions saunter over from the table where they have been offering sardonic quips for the past thirty minutes or so.”DON’T LISTEN TO HIM!” He’s been yelling. “HE’S LYING!”
Go on, then, tell us a secret about Rhys.
Marc: I can give you chapter and verse. (He grins) How long have you got?
All the time in the world, honey. All the time in the world…
Marc doesn’t remember this incident. Rhys Fulber later rejoined Bill Leeb, working again on their massively successful side-project Delerium and completing Front Line Assembly’s Civilization album in 2004. Rhys continues to produce bands such as Fear Factory, and got his wish to work with Paradise Lost.
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