Back in the early 80’s, Controlled Bleeding were one of the pioneers of dark, electronic music on this side of the Atlantic. The group’s extensive body of work encompass three distinct styles; aggressive, electronic dance music, gothic, soundtrack-like work, and harsh, wall-of-noise compositions. While Controlled Bleeding were between labels, members Paul Lemos and Chris Moriarity started up Skin Chamber, a side project that further explores the latter. Skin Chamber’s music is much darker and noisier than Controlled Bleeding’s recent work and reminiscent of “Knees and Bones” era of Controlled Bleeding. Their debut album, “Wound” came out in late 1991, and now they have followed it up with “Trial”. The following is a telephone interview conducted with Lemos about Skin Chamber.
Why did you start up the Skin Chamber side project?
Skin Chamber developed when Controlled Bleeding had left Wax Trax!. It was a tough situation for Wax Trax! and everybody involved and so the band took a rest for about 11 months – we just stopped. Chris and I have always had a very volatile relationship, from the time when we were recording Knees and Bones together and I think this kind of level of frustration that started out in our early music was very much happening at that time. We had just gotten together, playing drums and bass, no programming, no keyboards and were just playing. What started developing would become Skin Chamber. It really was just a different face. To call it Controlled Bleeding was very inappropriate and it kind of harked back to the early music that we did in purpose – it had that same kind of venting. We just had a need to do something that was completely different and much more visceral and maybe a different emotional level.
When you originally started up Skin Chamber, did you see it as a one-off or a continuing project?
Oh yeah, Skin Chamber to me is at least as dominant, maybe more so in the major market. I think Skin Chamber is something that’s new, it has no history behind it, there’s no big catalogue of obscure releases. And so it’s kind of in a way a fresh start in a whole new orientation for us. Because none of us are tech-heads, and we don’t really like computer music that much in terms of creating it, and so Skin Chamber is the way we like to work in an organic manner. I don’t know if we’ll be working with Roadrunner anymore, but we’ll certainly pursue the group.
Why don’t you think you’ll be working with Roadrunner anymore?
They dismantled a lot of the Third Mind label so Controlled Bleeding at this point will probably be label shopping, even though the last record did so well for us. They’ve just got big problems there, and I don’t think they’re going to support Skin Chamber either because they don’t really understand the music. Their main interest is metal and even though they experiment with genres outside of metal, they don’t handle them particularly well.
How would you describe the new Skin Chamber LP?
It just kind of continues where Wound left off. It’s a lot more focused than Wound. There’s not nearly the variation on the record. But I think the songs are straighter in certain ways but sonically a lot better. I think the production is a lot more interesting, and within it are certain structured frameworks; there’s a lot of experimentation going on. I’d say there’s much more experimentation than on Wound. The textural aspects of the record are much more interesting.
Do you keep the different projects completely separate or do you tend to come up with ideas and then decide which project to develop them for?
Oh, never. Controlled Bleeding can go a number of ways, it’s like Controlled Bleeding is almost three combinations. Joe and I work on semi-choral, progressive music, the Controlled Bleeding music I work on myself is generally very noisy, very experimental, and the stuff Chris and I do under Controlled Bleeding tends to be more ryhthmic-yet-melodic, like what’s on Penetration. Skin Chamber is a completely different entity; it’s a completely different creative process.
Do you see the two groups aimed at the same audience?
Well, I suppose. I don’t really think about audience very much when I do any kind of music. I mean Roadrunner being a metal label, even though Trial is not a fucking metal record, they’re going to market it to a metal audience. That’s the audience that they know, that’s their tried and true audience. I would say that people that are interested in any kind of noisy guitar-driven music would find Trial interesting, but I don’t know it those same people would find Controlled Bleeding interesting. I tend to think that the Controlled Bleeding audience has found Skin Chamber maybe a little difficult to deal with.
Will you be doing any live dates as Skin Chamber?
We want to, it’s just hard going from two people to the necessary six or seven people. It’s real hard to find a band for the live setting that can commit to going a month or two on the road. So it hasn’t been easy getting the thing off the ground. We did one show, and we really want to go on tour this summer. We might go out as Controlled Bleeding/Skin Chamber doing music from both, but it’s been hard getting the number of people involved that we need for a long term tour.
What is the current status of Controlled Bleeding? As far as corporate music, we’re quite possibly going to sign with a major label or another large indie sometime in the next five to six months. We’d like to be able contractually to be able to continue the smaller kind of maybe more artistic projects that we’ve been pursuing