An interview with David Reilly of God Lives Underwater
Intro by Nick Garland
It must seem kind of strange as a band to have released your first album in a period right after Grunge and right before Britney. The year 1995 is almost limbo for modern alternative music; right before the labels began to consolidate their control and squeeze out all of the independents. But that’s when I first heard God lives Underwater in all their glory. Their album Empty was one of the first industrial epics to truly catch and hold my attention with their funky blend of punk-techno-industrial anthems and dirges. They were doing something great, and we all knew it.
After releasing their album Life in the So-Called Space Age to some radio and video success, GLU seemed to have vanished from the face of alternative music. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the song “From Your Mouth,” but the collapse of their label, among other things, sent GLU packing, and even farther underground. Since then, GLU has existed primarily online and after six years they’re finally ready to release a new album. David Reilly gives a scuba diving lesson to Regen’s pHil.PTI…
What were you doing after Life in the So-Called Space Age?
After Space Age, we were floundering after touring to make record and secure a deal, and for me to try and kick my addiction. I did not until 8 months ago.
After the demise of 1500 Records, how far along was God Lives Underwater on the third album, Up Off the Floor?
We were pretty much done when they were officially gone.
How surprising was their closure?
Their closure was not surprising, as I’m quite used to music business shenanigans. It was out of our hands and our manager’s hands as well.
If God Lives Underwater was mothballed after 1500 Records shut down, how did you come across Megaforce/Locomotive to put out Up Off the Floor?
I was introduced to Megaforce through a mutual friend named Chris Schwartz at Ruff Nation. Locomotive came through Gary Richards at Nitrus Records. The two labels being involved together was pure coincidence.
Up Off the Floor, due out this summer, will be without “Choir Boy” and “Fame,” originally laid out as the first two tracks on the disc. Who made the decision to leave them off?
The decision to omit “Choir Boy” and “Fame” was not really a big issue. I could have gone either way, but was outvoted, sort of.
Having removed these tracks, what kind of vision did you have in mind for the album?
The removal of the tracks has little to do with the vision of for the album. It’s more of a small detail.
Why did it take so long to find another label for God Lives Underwater?
It took a long time to get from one contract to another. It actually changed hands three times, almost four.
How difficult was it for you and Jeff to find God Lives Underwater stalling after the momentum the band had accrued touring for Life in the So Called Space Age and the popularity of “From Your Mouth” on alternative radio?
It is an adjustment every time we came off of tour and began work on anything, but not too difficult.
Many of the bands that could be loosely referred to as electro-rock fell upon hard times at about the same time God Lives Underwater did. Why were bands like Stabbing Westward, Filter and even Nine Inch Nails unable to build upon the successes of the late nineties?
I don’t believe a change in musical trends had anything to do with God Lives Underwater’s problems. With the other bands you listed, I indeed believe trends in music played a part. I think Nine Inch Nails had other problems, but I’m unsure what they were, as he just kind of stopped.
Up Off the Floor was released online a few years back. Were you and Jeff contemplating the end of God Lives Underwater at the time?
The band has been in a constant state of flux after Life in the So Called Space Age due to personal issues, and just an overall need for change.
Could you tell us what the lowest points were for you both personally and musically?
The lowest points personally and musically were a lifelong battle with heroin and alcohol ruining my music and my relationships with the band and management. Musically, my lowest point was just simply not being there while a lot of the album components were being put together.
With the different projects between you and Jeff Turzo, is there a future for God Lives Underwater? Will there be any tours in support of the new record?
I would say another God Lives Underwater record is not totally out of the question, but touring as the original lineup will likely never happen.
How much thought has been put into the possibility of a fourth record?
Very little thought about fourth release.
Coming out of a rural town in Pennsylvania, God Lives Underwater’s sound was pure. How did the move to Los Angeles affect the band?
Moving to LA was culturally shocking, but we were given the opportunity to focus on our music in a great environment due in part to Gary Richard’s love for the music and for Jeff and me as brothers.
What has helped your creative output the most while in LA?
In L.A., the thing that helped my creative output was just proximity to Jeff for work and friendship. Same goes for Gary Richards and the players in the band. I guess the weather helped.
You and Jeff first started God Lives Underwater by making a techno song at a party. How did the relationship grow in the first few years?
The techno song made at the party is totally bogus. It was thought up by American’s staff. The relationship in the band was basically me and Jeff being very close friends since we were fifteen and then being thrown into business arrangements. As to who did what, I could generally say that the music always sounded good, because Jeff is a genius programmer/engineer/producer and co-writer. I had roots as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. We taught each other everything we know, and the result was two programmers who played a lot of instruments and wrote and produced music.
How much of your image was created by American? Were you resistant to any suggestions, fabrications or commands from the label?
American did indeed try to make an image for us. For instance, we had nothing to do with the artwork for the American releases, and they put together bogus bio and news material about us. We were resistant, and it didn’t help any.
Is it true you sent labels your demo with random pieces of garbage such as pornography or human hair just to command attention?
We sent unusual items to Gary back then to just be funny. We indeed did send trash and dead black widow babies. No hair or porn.
God Lives Underwater always recorded their albums in the comfort of their home studios leaving a lo-fi hint in their signature sound. With the advent of bedroom studios, do you think the decreasing role of the recording studio is good for the music in general?
I will always think that there’s basically no difference in home/pro studios. It all depends on what you got. I prefer to do pre-production at home and play the live tracks and sing in the studio. Editing is better at home, even relative mixing, but there’s no comparison if you can go to a studio and mix on SSL or Neve.
While many rock bands use synthesizers as window dressing on their albums, God Lives Underwater took it a step further with experimenting. Did you ever think that the electronics were a distraction from your songwriting?
Electronics could not distract our songwriting, as we never really wrote without using it or planning on using it, so everything is written with the electronics in mind no matter what.
What do you feel this technology brings to the table?
Technology brings a lot to the table. God Lives Underwater is and will always be a technology-based band; Jeff and I are part of that generation.
Since the Universal label mergers there has been a decreased emphasis on developing talent that has led to an unfortunate status quo of plastic acts packaged for mainstream consumption. Are there any bands out there producing something worthy of attention?
Here’s what Jeff and I appreciate that’s out there right now. Bright Eyes, Sparklehorse, Polyphonic Spree, Elbow, Spiritualized, J-kwan, any Neptunes’ tracks, any Depeche Mode, Ludicris, we like the latest Britney Spears record, Good Charlotte, Kenna, Coldplay, The Darkness, Eminem/Dre stuff, and obviously we have been influenced by LINKIN PARK since we were very young.
Does God Lives Underwater have any particular punk or industrial influences?
We have no punk or industrial influences beyond the standard affinity for genuine good music no matter what the genre. But Nine Inch Nails is as industrial as we ever listened to.
Anything else you would like to add?
I hope the fans are still interested in GLU and mine and Jeff’s projects, because we will always provide the fans with the best product we can for our own enjoyment and theirs.
Original Date: 2005-01-15 Original URL: http://www.regenmag.com/index.php?module=subjects&func=viewpage&pageid=93