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Abstinence - Bio


 Since 1985, Abstinence has created experimental industrial music that follows in the traditions of the Beats, the Dada movement, the Futurists, the raw vision of punk rock, the origins of industrial music, the freedom of the experimental art movement and the eternal global human rights art movement.

Many people have commented about the name over the years. The name Abstinence [to us] means; "abstaining from the redundancy of what people think." This inspires Abstinence to be staunch in a vision that isn't influenced by music/art/technological trends and to maintain a commitment to pure artistic exploration.

Abstinence utilizes tunnels, decommissioned military bases, warehouses, bathrooms, abandoned buildings, basements, freeway underpasses and various indoor/outdoor environments as sound laboratories to create unique soundscapes that coalesce with powertools, a variety of traditional analog / digital instrumentation and bombastic percussion.

Our lyrics and audio/video samples are focused on demystifying the political and societal world in which we live.

[in depth]

Abstinence ["Abstaining from the redundancy of what people think is music" that later would be clarified to "Abstaining from the redundancy of what people think."] was formed in 1985 by Darryl Hell in the heart of the "alternative rock" predominated New Jersey Shore. [location of "HellHouse" illustrated below] Hell was the bass teacher for Steve Herring, as well as people like Russell Iglay from the legendary punk bands Underdog & Murphy's Law. As they jammed the began writing songs and Hell felt he and Steve should make a go of it as they were both well respected bmx & skateboarders respectively, that rode together often.

The original structure of the project was Darryl Hell [voc, bass, tape loops, radio squelch, rhythm programming] & Steve Herring [bass, tape loops, voc]. They began their first performance with a 5 minute wall of deafening feedback in Red Bank, NJ at a show produced by Jacko Monahan. They said it would "weed out" the crowd and set the scene for the rest of the performance. Barricaded behind teetering mountains of tape machines and a Roland Echoplex with only their bass necks protruding, the area was about to see it's first experimental / industrial performance.

Most stereotypes would say that a "sleepy" New Jersey shore town like Belmar wouldn't produce a project such as this. In actuality, this area was a vibrant place for the formative stages of the east coast hippie, punk rock and metal music scenes. In the early 1970's this area also seemed to be a Vietnam anti-war stronghold.

[note] Metallica used to rehearse in Belmar when they were signed to their first label, Megaforce Records, which was based in Oldbridge, NJ. Bands like Murphy's Law and the Crowmags used to come down from NYC regularly to chill / skate / ride with Russell and Dean Iglay [of True Blue, Underdog, Child Abuse]. It was also a hotspot for the early skate / bmx / surf scenes, which generated a number of notable riders.

The original roster would last for three years, with the later addition of Bill Kuegler [guitar, backing vocs] and Jason Burns [guitar, tape loops, programming, voc]. In 1989 Darryl Hell took full control over the project, after the creation of the Fear Faktor 1 performance. Fear Faktor was an intense collaboration between Burns, Herring and Hell that produced the building blocks of the direction of Abstinence that exists today. Hell had gone through many personal struggles that had originally guided him in a direction of cathartic emotional / depression based lyrics and themes. Now he was free to delve into a more comprehensive vision beyond personal experience while maintaining an intimate and human perspective.

The "Bloody Eyes Drowning" performance would be a far departure from their previous performances. Transformed into a kind of "industrial orchestra" composer, he utilized a myriad of the top talent in the area from many different backgrounds. Jerry Franklin [progressive metal], Bill & Tommy Latshaw [metal / punk / hardcore thrash], Tommy Walling [progressive metal / punk / hardcore jazz], Mark Yard [zappa-jazz-progressive metal], Mike Scrivani [punk/hardcore metal/progressive metal]. The performances that followed would incorporate different musicians for different songs in various combinations.

After moving through the deeper throws of emotions over his mother's [at age 13] and father's [at age 23] death, which was at the heart of Hell's issues, he wanted to focus on the things in society that effected people as a whole, instead of focusing on his own inner termoil. This would be the first solo production for Abstinence by Hell. Recorded on Ross 4x4 Series 2 4-track, these tapes were raw and abrasive. "Last Rights" would be the result of this effort. [FYI - Abstinence's "Last Rights" would be a couple of years before Skinny Puppy would release an album of the same title.]

Abstinence, although originally created as more of an experimental / industrial project with death rock / gothic overtones, had turned their emotional anger outward. Powertools, chains, oil drums, scrap metal and a strong arsenal of sociopolitical analysis were used to enable Hell's vision of Abstinence to move to the next level. Visual imagery, which was used in the past as an augmenting element, had then become an integral part in their performances. The audio from their video samples then had a prominent position within the audio sphere of the project as well.

After Digital Animosity, Hell connected with musicians Greg Hunt and Terry Hughes. This brought about sequencer driven structures combined with analog linear sampling. This would create the core for what would be the "Multiple Cross Wounds" performance.

Now structurally sound within the mind of Hell, Abstinence was able to grow and mature. In 1991, Abstinence took on Mike Roberts [powertools, instrument fabrication, stage design] and Eloise Mourning [dancer / choreographer]. Mr. Roberts was exactly what Hell was looking for in a permanent member. He had very little formal knowledge of musical composition, although he had an extremely strong grasp of musical emotion and rhythm. Hell wanted this in a member because he needed to move beyond the constrictions that intrinsically abound in people with more traditional musical training, in respect to a permanent member.

M.G.R. would take a path most musical artists only dream about. His second live performance in his life would be headlining at the legendary Palladium Ballroom, New York City.

While performing with bands such as Killing Joke, Consolidated, Pigface, Emergency Broadcast Network and KMFDM, they completed the "Multiple Cross Wounds" performance and video. Immense layering, dissonant polyrhythms and strong sociopolitical themes would now become their trademark.

In 1992 they came in contact with Silent Records, San Francisco, CA. The owner Kim Cascone and Darryl Hell had many things in common. Having both evolved in the New York subculture of the 70's-early 80's, they had a perspective that was not generally seen by people that shared a later generational experience. The Furnace imprint on the Silent label had just been formed and was seeking a roster. The video "Multiple Cross Wounds" and soundtrack were sent. A board meeting would decide that Abstinence would be their first fully signed project. Hell would become the Director of A & R for Furnace Records in late 1993.

[1994] Furnace was originally interested in releasing "Multiple Cross Wounds", but Hell wanted to produce and release their new performance "Revolt of the Cyberchrist". During the 13 months of production, they met John Bechdel [killing joke/prong/murder inc./fear factory] and Paul Raven [killing joke/pigface/prong]. J.B. performed on five of the thirteen pieces. The fusing process between the artists seemed to be almost instantaneous, which was thoroughly apparent throughout the sessions. The final product embodied all that Hell had envisioned for Abstinence; furiousity and abrasive soundscapes twisted into machine rhythm groove structures.

[1995] The next full length performance/cd for the project would be "Theorem". Based on the idea, "...that an artist, when taking the role as the social critic, if driven in the correct direction will produce work that will equally entertain and inform." That goal was achieved. Paul Raven would come on board for this effort. By the middle of performing "Revolt", J.B. became a full member of the project which made him an integral part of the creation of "Theorem". The "Theorem" live performance would encompass tracks from both "Revolt" and "Theorem". At the last two performances they added two tracks from "Multiple Cross Wounds". Since Abstinence doesn't abide by the "dragging out the hits" philosophy, it was a treat for the people who had seen the evolution of the project. In 1996, Abstinence and its line-up would go through an unwanted and drastic change. A problematic distribution situation created financial problems with the label, which resulted in the sale of Silent Records. The new owner had no real interest, or vision, and saw no financial viability in the "industrial" genre, so Furnace Records three years after it's birth had come to a close. In addition, a series of personal issues that the band members faced resulted in Mike Roberts and girlfriend/Abstinence dancer Eloise Mourning retiring of both from the project.

Later in 1996, Operation Beatbox was released. The project was cool because Abstinence was the only project on the cd that had someone in it that was from that time. The track; Two, Three, Break! by the B-Boys was selected because we used to listen to Chuck Chillout [on Kiss-FM, NYC] who did incredible mixes of it almost every week back in the day. [REALLY...back in the day]

In 2003 we had the extreme pleasure to be on the "Ikebana" Merzbow remix double disk. The line-up on that is completely dope and we were [and are] honored to be part of it.

Though it's impossible to replace the vast talents, explosive performance style and intellect of Michael Roberts, nearly eight years later in 2004, musical performance artist and producer, Deftly D (Dave Dodson) joined the roster. Deftly D was a perfect accompaniment to Hell's future vision for Abstinence.

[2004] "The Path of Maximum Resistance" is a return to the pre-"Revolt of the Cyberchrist" Abstinence. It is a concept piece that wraps around the Twilight Zone episode " The Obsolete Man." Combining experimental industrial, bombastic rhythms, powertools, dark ambient and harsh multi-layered noise, "Path" draws on the full range of the many visions of Abstinence.


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