I don’t usually pen introductions to my Unsigned Spotlights, but this warrants one methinks. For the past few years, I’ve been fascinated by Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo Journalism. So as a wacky tribute to the writer who composed Hell’s Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, most notably, I interviewed the one-man outfit Altere in the same vein. What follows is a conversation conducted via AOL Instant Messenger – or AIM for short – and I haven’t touched it whatsoever. In other words, I didn’t cut or edit a thing, and I’m aware that it’s quite lengthy, which means you may want to print it out and read it. Either way, I think it meshes with the spirit of Altere very well. Pawel Goj (IamAltere) and I (circusofdust) had a lot of fun, as you will see for yourself. Enjoy!
Part I: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006 from 11:00PM to 12:20AM
IamAltere: who else with that SN
IamAltere: ill sue them
circusofdust: one of your millions of fans ;-)
IamAltere: lol, yeah, all right
circusofdust: so how are you doing?
IamAltere: this is not too late for you is it?
IamAltere: I'm fine, hard day at work but I took a nap
IamAltere: How are you?
circusofdust: pretty good, I've got about an hour to spare before I have to get to bed, but I'm good for now
circusofdust: listening to some Tides. what are you listening to, if anything?
IamAltere: right now the sound of the fans on my PC
IamAltere: i was going to get in the mood with some Katatonia maybe
circusofdust: nice, heh heh
IamAltere: hold I am actually getting some tea ready
IamAltere: hold on
IamAltere: always drink tea with honey, very relaxing
circusofdust: that's what I've heard. so, what are you doing for work these days?
IamAltere: I am a Teller Supervisor at a bank
IamAltere: well..an imaginary supervisor
IamAltere: they had to give me some title
circusofdust: I work at a bank, too, as you know, but I wasn't sure as to whether you still did or not. looks like you do, though. uh, yeah.
IamAltere: Yeah they forced me into an imaginary title for 3 years of slavery
IamAltere: Are you a teller?
circusofdust: yup, been one for about two and a half years thus far
IamAltere: My bank has to be the worst corporation on the planet
IamAltere: we have the highest turnover rate of any place that I know
circusofdust: yeah, turnover rates are high in the banking industry
IamAltere: all kinds of crazy stuff happen at my branch
IamAltere: yeha...but...man, my bank
IamAltere: it's crazy
circusofdust: is that what inspires Altere?
IamAltere: all kinds of fraudulent activity abounds
IamAltere: not really
IamAltere: wait is this the interview already? lol
circusofdust: I'm trying to coax you into one.
circusofdust: ha ha
IamAltere: damn your seduction
IamAltere: ...my tea needs to simmer for a bit
IamAltere: you can go ahead and ask away if you want
circusofdust: oh, cool
circusofdust: any luck on that artwork?
IamAltere: well I just checked my email and my artist gave me both covers
IamAltere: something is up with logo though
IamAltere: I do not have any pictures of myself though
IamAltere: not Altere designed pics
circusofdust: that's all right. are the covers of manageable size? like 150x150?
IamAltere: I can't just show up with my green aeropostale hoodie and designer everything else
IamAltere: uhmmm...i think so...I will send it to you now
IamAltere: you be the judge
circusofdust: cool, I've got to wait a little bit to post this stuff, however, since we just had an Unsigned Spotlight with Chickenhawk go up today I think
IamAltere: god i love that hoodie though, might just do it
circusofdust: have you signed up with UM yet?
IamAltere: nope not yet
circusofdust: 'tis a fun place
IamAltere: yeah I heard, one of teh reviewers that gave me an awesome review was raving about the place
IamAltere: whats ure email again?
IamAltere: all right i just forwarded you an email
circusofdust: the first thing I'm curious about is your actual name - Pawel Goj. what heritage did that name trickle down from and where are you located as of now?
IamAltere: see if you can open the logo, I can't for some reason
IamAltere: I am Polish. I cam to America probably eleven years ago. I currenty reside in the overtly expensive and over rated New York City.
IamAltere: (off the record) fix my spelling mistakes lol
circusofdust: I can't open the logo either, but it's no matter right now
circusofdust: nothing is off the record! :-D
IamAltere: dude NYC sucks
IamAltere: in everything
circusofdust: ha ha
circusofdust: fun place to visit, but extraordinarily expensive you said
IamAltere: people have this kind of an image of this city like it's some kind of a metrosexual haven but...it blows...
IamAltere: yes, expecially these past couple years
circusofdust: Poland: now there's a metal haven
IamAltere: yes, it is...lots of good bands...RIP Doc(greatest drummer ever)
IamAltere: what's the fascination with Poland and black metal anyway
IamAltere: it's 97% catholic or something...but..lots of satanic anguish...
circusofdust: I don't know. Stuff from Poland that's been coming across my desk as of late has been primarily death and grind.
IamAltere: lots of that too
IamAltere: brutal music for the most part
IamAltere: all right truck on dude...
circusofdust: I know it's sort of a cliche question, but what does Altere refer to?
circusofdust: what does "Altere" mean?
IamAltere: The name is actually the middle point between Alter and Altered. It constitutes change or something in the process of being changed but it has not achieved that full transformation yet. The project itself is about a spontaneous and direct musical translation of a particular emotion.
circusofdust: that's a really cool, significant meaning. do you think the whole improvisational standpoint is going to discourage labels from signing you? are you willing to compromise the one hour "rule" you have in place?
IamAltere: Yes, I do believe my music will deter a lot of labels. The improvisational aspect alone would make anyone cringe, since I am not an uber talented musician and anything that comes out may sound like third rate nonsense. However, I am willing to compromise the rule, yes. I have been thinking of ways where I could cheat it, however it would be very hard. The only way I can still keep that rule in place is if I somehow raise enough money for my own home studio. It would however, in a way, destroy the intended purpose of the project. But there has to be a way that I did not think of yet. Either way it will sound almost the same, only a bit more polished.
circusofdust: true. I mean, I think you have a lot of potential, definitely, and I want to see what you do on, say, a full-length...
IamAltere: A lot of people say that. I have tons of ideas that I would try and spear head and realize from this musical project whcih I was hoping would be a spring board of sorts to other things.
circusofdust: alas, time and money rear their heads, right?
IamAltere: Unfortunately that is the ugly side of a creative outlet
IamAltere: Although you would freak out if you would see my "recording studio" now
circusofdust: I think "Pieces of I" looks great, though.
circusofdust: "My Blood, My Tears" isn't shabby either.
IamAltere: stop kissing my ass, ill believe it when I see teh review
circusofdust: ha ha
IamAltere: Thanks though, makes me feel kind of warm and gooey on the inside
IamAltere: i really appreciate a lot of peoples comments and critics reviews
circusofdust: I have a theory that you mixed Ashlee Simpson ("Pieces of Me") with Meshuggah ("I") to come up with "Pieces of I." Is that true?
IamAltere: thats cute
IamAltere: You know...there's a musical combo that has been flirting in my mind for a while
circusofdust: who's that?
IamAltere: I always had this idea of bringing in an R&B/Pop singer for a musical song hat would sing over some technical death metal parts
IamAltere: and I have one in line if I ever get signed
IamAltere: It would sound...unimaginable...
circusofdust: I can believe it. are there any labels you think you'd fit in with?
circusofdust: perhaps JWW's Audio Savant, if you were more eclectic?
IamAltere: Off the top of my head, obviously The End Records and their many partners. I have been looking at Crucial Blast, Napalm Rcords, ColdMeat and a few others, where I will focus on with my press packages.
IamAltere: I have not heard of that one
IamAltere: im googling it now...
circusofdust: very, very small. you may know JWW from Agalloch, Sculptured, and Especially Likely Sloth
circusofdust: Crucial Blast are great
circusofdust: is/are whatever
IamAltere: the problem with these labels though is that for me to succeed I need smal financial backing. And the inside stories I have been hearing from the grapevine is that none of them will do that. Also a lot of the bands do not even break even. So my hopes have been lowered significantly.
IamAltere: Of a label taking a chance on me
IamAltere: I have everything lined up though. I can record in a decent studio for free and put out a decent EP or Full Length with almost no cost.
circusofdust: yeah, seems like a long shot since there are hundreds of thousands of bands out there, but I wouldn't give up hope. once this Unsigned Spotlight hits, you'll have Century Media practically banging down your door trying to sign you!
IamAltere: You know, maybe at some point I wanted to sign with Century Media, but not anymore.
circusofdust: any labels based in NYC that you know of?
IamAltere: none, it's a horrible city, we barely even get any shows
IamAltere: I am not much for networking either, as you know. So it would be hard for me to just go up and talk to these people.
circusofdust: I've heard it's hard to play NYC, except for like B.B. King's
IamAltere: Yes, lots of clubs closed down, horribly promotion and the booking rates skyrocket
IamAltere: I mean, shows here with In Flames do not even sell out
IamAltere: and I barely even hear about them
circusofdust: Louisville, close to where I'm based, is really starting to improve as far as amount and quality of shows are concerned
circusofdust: Got Ion Dissonance, Opeth, and Between the Buried and Me coming to town soon
IamAltere: everywhere else except NYC
IamAltere: pfff, man...if we got Opeth here, I think it would be the second coming of Jesus
circusofdust: You mean Mikael Akerfeldt himself?
circusofdust: ha ha
IamAltere: right...sitting on stage...with his acoustical guitar
IamAltere: and the camera always on him
circusofdust: yeah, you heard "Ghost Reveries"?
IamAltere: Yes I did. In my opinion, it's interesting but at this point, since Orchid(?) things have been meshing a lot. And I am starting to hate that typical off tune chugga strike guitar riff that they keep on using.
circusofdust: yeah, it's all right, but I generally stick to Still Life and earlier.
IamAltere: Still Life
IamAltere: thats what I mean, not Orchid
IamAltere: Yes, Still Life is a gem
circusofdust: My Arms, Your Hearse is great too
IamAltere: Yeah but thats more old school. I respect it as a musician and listener, but I am from the new generation. I like the newer stuff better.
IamAltere: Thats sad, the new generation...people will not know who Black Sabbath is and list their influences as In Flames, and Opeth. Sigh...
circusofdust: any plans for your future music?
IamAltere: I will finish off the project with my 3rd and final demo called (...) It is actually a spin off from the "Pieces of I" sessions which was supposed be my final calling. I had an idea during those recordings where I would just go silent and let the music speak for itself. I could not put 10 songs on the demo, so I seperated the mostly vocal parts and the instrumental pieces. I will go out with a bang though with hopefully 2 bonus tracks in the ALTEREFIED section. When this project started I wanted to also help people realize their dreams. So I took it upon myself to find musicians on myspace that are very talented and have trouble finding vocalists or wanted to know how their music sounds with vocals on it. I coerced one guy to do a certain cool bluesy project and did vocals for him in an Opethian style. And the other song that I will hopefully include on it is a very popish number. I like both of them and the music is really great. I can't wait fo rthe reviewers to say something about those two tracks and hopefully bring some publicity for those two people. Other than that, unless a label will take a chance on me, the music will probably be over. I think I somehow settled past debts with some demons when this project reared it's eccentric head, and I am satisfied with what has happened. However if I ever get to somehow do othe rmusical things, I will bring forth my R&B fusion...my acapella metal...and my classical with growling vocals styles to the front lines. Maybe...one day...
IamAltere: goddamn that was lengthy...
IamAltere: also I will be featured on the critically lambasted and roasted Metal Ostensation comiplation cd where a new vocal track called "Leave me" will appear. It's probably my 2nd most challenging vocal song next to "I'm Sorry" from "Pieces of I".
circusofdust: nice! well, man, I hate to cut you off but I gotta get going. sounds like we should probably continue this sometime soon, though.
IamAltere: continue the interview?
circusofdust: yeah, unless you don't want to, or feel like you said everything you needed to?
IamAltere: good luck transcribing this by the way lol
IamAltere: I definitely would like to continue, this is more fun then I thought. I finally et to say stuff I always wanted to say. You have to gran a dying mans(Alteres) wish right?
IamAltere: unless you feel satisfied that is
IamAltere: yes...I am very jaded, now stop thinking it
circusofdust: ha ha. actually, I was thinking of posting this as is - an unedited, uncut AIM conversation, which is most likely the first of its kind. that idea sort of coincides with your impromptu MO, but I can turn this into a traditional interview if you like...
IamAltere: no this is cool. When I was planning to interview people(comic book artists, musicians) I always wanted to post unedited AIM conversations.
IamAltere: so you can steal my idea
IamAltere: i let you
IamAltere: so thats it then?
circusofdust: steal your idea before I knew about it? heh heh. anyway, in the meantime, send me the logo if you happen to procure it. you can also check out the official Katatonia forum on UM, and you should sign up too.
circusofdust: do you want to do a part two?
IamAltere: Will do, under the monicker of Altere
IamAltere: yyou can still ask me more questions aboyt the reason behind Altere
IamAltere: why I do what I do
IamAltere: I dont know...I feel like this will be my only interview ever
circusofdust: well, it's entirely up to you
IamAltere: so I might as well go out with a bang
circusofdust: how about next week sometime, and I'll email you with a day
IamAltere: no problem, I will accomodate you anyway possible
IamAltere: and dude...ure so going to write for a publication
IamAltere: ...wait...how come u arent anyway?
circusofdust: like, in print?
IamAltere: i see your review(excellent) and your interview(equally cool)
IamAltere: I don't get it...
IamAltere: reviews and interviews
IamAltere: and I can tell you are very well educated and a great writer...
circusofdust: I haven't been offered a job, and I don't really feel like pursuing one right now, unless I'm solicited directly. Thanks for the compliments, definitely. I'd have to lighten my workload, though, by quitting one of the webzines probably, and I hope to be attending grad school this fall, so...a lot of shit going on at once.
IamAltere: I understand...I know how that feels.
IamAltere: all right go to sleep
circusofdust: I would love to write for a magazine. Metal Maniacs is cool, as well as BWBK.
IamAltere: yeah BWBK more than Metal Maniacs
circusofdust: what are you going to school for, or are you?
IamAltere: Well it's complicated now...I cannot pass calculus for anything...I can get As and Bs in everythign else besides that( I had a 90 avg in Cal 2 semesters and failed final so I failed class)...I am studying accounting.
IamAltere: I am in an internal tug of war betweeen doing something practical and ding something creative
IamAltere: and you know...my parents ae European so they have control over my life
IamAltere: so I do things behind their back...
IamAltere: like this music..
circusofdust: well, I've found you often have to resort to doing both at once
circusofdust: and losing sleep over it
IamAltere: hey...I sleep at 3-4Am everyday
IamAltere: writing reviews, stories or Altere
IamAltere: hopefully something will becomes of it one day...
circusofdust: good luck, and I'll get in touch about the next intie
circusofdust: or part two, rather
IamAltere: sounds cool, I really appreciate this
IamAltere: thansk a lot
circusofdust: it was fun
circusofdust: and you are welcome
IamAltere: goodnight dude
IamAltere: Altere signing off
IamAltere signed off at 12:19:19 AM.