Founded in 2008 by Electronic Dance producer Tebla and singer Lord K (Kult of the Skull God), Army Of The Universe make extensive use of analog gear to give their electronic/rock sound a strong dance edge. Guitarist Dave Tavecchia joined the band in 2010; in 2011, the band started collaborating with Chris Vrenna (NIN, Marilyn Manson, Tweaker), who does production work and performs live with Army Of The Universe. The group is currently on tour opening for Skinny Puppy, and to coincide with this has released a new single, “Uniforms.” The following is an email interview with the band.
Your new single “Uniforms” is referred to as ‘a tailored production for the upcoming North American Tour’ – could you elaborate on what is meant by that?
Last year we released the album Hipster Sacrifice and we thought we needed one more single for this tour a more recent release. UNIFORMS is also a little bit different from our previous productions and we believe this fat sound can be our future trade mark.
Did the fact that you’re opening for Skinny Puppy have any influence on what you’ve chosen to include on your setlist?
Not really, we have a longer set, which includes most of the singles and a good combination of songs from our first and second album. Overall very powerful, full on.
I see that you have another unreleased song that you are opening the set with and offering as a free download at the merch table. How does that work? Are you distributing download codes or using another approach? Is this a new song, or something older that just hasn’t been released before?
Yes, ACID FLOWS is a new production too, perfect to start our set. We have a QR code at the mercy table and people can scan it and download the song immediately. Like UNIFORMS it belongs to our new sound dimension and makes people dance right away.
For those who haven’t seen you live yet, how would you compare your live sound to recordings?
The difference is not huge, mostly made by the fact real analog drums are running over the electronic base. Guitars are more present too and the sound design we studied for the live set gives extra punch to the songs.
Have you been working on the next album? If so, what can we expect from it, and when do you think you’ll be releasing it?
We were working on a few songs right before we left for the tour, we have 4/5 tracks almost ready. So yes, as soon as we get back we will definitely work on the next album. We expect a late fall release, with a single which will anticipate it.
How did “Army of the Universe” come together initially? Did you have a strong sense as to what you wanted to sound like from the start?
Trebla and Lord occasionally met in Milan. The first one was a DJ and producer, the second a Rock singer. They thought it could have been a good idea to experiment and write something together. This fusion immediately worked and here we are 5 years later…
What made you chose the name “Army of the Universe”?
Trebla came up with the name, pretty epic.. The idea was to have a clear concept which could have been carried over in the years. But if you ask Lord K he will tell you they have been drinking a lot that night and that name came out of nowhere. Both guys are big time fans of visionary movies, like 2001 Space Odissey, Blade Runner, so the name was fitting the retro-futuristic vibe perfectly.
I know that the band is from Italy – are you currently based there?
Yes we are based in Milan, but Trebla spends a lot of time in LA too. We normally record most of our songs in Italy and mix them in California.
What is the creative process like within the band?
It really depends on the period. In general Trebla comes up with ideas, pass them to Lord for lyrics writings, then back together again in the studio where Dave does guitars. Some other times the idea comes from a vocal line or a guitar riff. We like to challenge each other when it comes to creativity.
Are there any particular pieces of electronic musical equipment or software that you think is key to your sound and/or creative process?
Yes, we love analog synths and drum machines. SH101, an authentic OSCAR, Trebla brings his Moog Liberation keytar on stage, TB 303 baseline, Roland’s TR 808 and 909. Software wise we use Logic and we play a lot with virtual instruments like Sylenth, Massive and Nexus.
When creating music, are you thinking about how it will be presented live, or do you not worry about that until time comes to prepare for a tour?
Not all the time. We did tracks where it was clear they were going to be perfect for the live act, but we don’t normally pre-think our writing this way.
How did you come to work with Chris Vrenna? What impact would you say he’s had on the band? Is he performing with you on this tour?
Chris has been a great guide for us. The band was born as an experimental project, Chris helped us to translate this into a more mature and solid project, without limiting our creativity. Chris added analog drums to some of our tracks and inspired us a lot while writing and composing. When you get so lucky to meet someone like Chris, a super talented drummer and producer, you can only learn.
What do you have planned for this tour with Skinny Puppy?
We have a couple of surprises, but you have to come to the show to see them!
Be sure to also check out our interview with Chris Vrenna, where he talks about bit about working with Army of the Universe.