Introducing Mr Paul Catten, not only is he one of the friendliest people you could ever meet in the ‘underground’, he’s also one of the busiest! Along with stalking behind the noise moniker of Stuntcock, he’s also the brain child behind The Sontaran Experiment who push the boundaries of extreme music even further with their blend of Doom, Grind and Power Electronics. I caught up with Paul via email to ask him a few questions about his current projects which includes his shock & sad announcement that he has now left doom titans Lazarus Blackstar, read on…
I’d like to start off with Stuntcock, so firstly why the name Stuntcock?
Firstly, it’s a funny word, and probably the best job a guy could ever have I reckon! There is no real meaning behind the name other than it makes me laugh, I just thought it would be a good name for a project like that, sort of an anonymous noisy cumshot hehe.
How long has this project been in operation and what do you hope to achieve from it?
Its been around a couple of years I guess, started off with just voice, but I really started getting into sound manipulation and such, around 18 months is when I started putting stuff up on the internet I think. Just wanted to push the boundaries of the stuff I do normally, a polar opposite to The Dark Half stuff I do. There are noisier artists than Stuntcock for sure, I just wanted to create soundscapes, maybe make people listen a bit more to noise, maybe not like it, but try to understand it. I like doing extreme music, it was a natural progression.
What have you released to date?
The Reverend Of Noise on Def Recs, it was just a net release but I’m selling hard copies now. Shit loads of comp tracks, I don’t even know what labels, cant even remember, I just record and send it to them! Recently released a split with The Sontaran Experiment on Future-Noise Recordings and coming up is a split with BBBlood on Dead wood Recs… its an extensive back catalogue!
Can you give us a run down of the equipment/software you use to compose your tracks?
I do everything using Ableton Live and a bunch of plug ins, Ohmicide is one my favorites right now, along with one called Sun-Ra. Lots of chorus and flanger usually and loads of free plug ins that just mangle stuff up. Its hardly rocket science but to get it just right takes time. When I’ve done recording I put it into Adobe Audition and mess around a bit more, then to Cubase to master. Then its finished. Takes a couple of evenings if things are going well.
What inspirations do you take on board when writing new material?
Sometimes just get the urge to do something extremely noisy all of the sudden, other times I get an ambient urge. I may be playing with a new synth and feel the need to incorporate it into something. It usually ends up unrecognisable but the thought was there. Sometimes the sound is created from scratch, other times I just put any old song in there and fuck with it until its completely destroyed. Believe it or not, the split on FN has a couple of tracks that started life as John Denver tracks. Now they resemble his aeroplane.
Your track titles such as ‘When I Heard You Were Dying I Discovered A Joy I Never Knew Existed’, ‘It Still Makes Me Laugh To Think Of You Choking On Your Own Vomit’ & ‘Plan B – Rohypnol And Duct Tape’ have a humorous yet venomous bite to them, where do these ideas come from and are you really that pissed off with the world we live in?
Not pissed off, amused really, it’s a fucking disaster. The titles themselves are just an example of my persona. I’m a sick fuck really when it comes to humour, I love things like that. I’ve always loved long song titles, but the bands I’m in don’t usually share my enthusiasm so I keep them at regular length. I sit there at work usually with a pen and paper and write shit down. If I laugh at it, it stands a chance. GG Allin has used all the best titles, I just have to accept second place.
You also perform as Stuntcock live, I’ve been lucky enough to experience this colossal wall of noise twice which just blew me away, so how easy is it to replicate your tracks live, do you like to keep the structure similar to your recorded material, or do you quite happily go off on a tangent depending on your mood or the crowds response/reaction?
Live is quite simple, the tracks are already laid out, but then I manipulate them more, and add voice effects, making the original noise twice as noisy, which is the whole objective. I’m re-writing a new set for this year, probably still keep the piano section in it though. The audience reaction doesn’t matter as far as the set goes, I’m just amusing myself really, I spend half the time laughing at the sheer volume and the fact I usually discover a new method for a new sound when I play live. The last gig I did I found a way of making my voice sound like an aeroplane engine. Amazing.
And what have people’s responses been like to both your recorded and live material?
In a way I’m fortunate enough that some people know what I do and will at least give it a listen. The noise heads seem to like it as well, and I get enough offers to do comp tracks, remixes etc. Live it seems to go 50/50, but it’s a noise at the end of the day, its an acquired taste but it takes balls to get up and do it on your own so I get a bit of respect. I have managed to pretty much clear a venue before..that was good. It’s nice when its too extreme for extreme music fans, I know that my mission is going on the right path haha.
Finally the last question for Stuntcock, what plans do you have for 2008?
More of the same really, more recordings, more gigs. I’d like to do some of the experimental festivals perhaps. Maybe do a tour with somebody and put the audience through the pain barrier for 20 minutes or so. We’ll just have to wait and see, depends how busy the other beast (TSE) becomes.
Now onto The Sontaran Experiment, firstly, can you give us a brief run down of your members?
Yes, me on laptop, synth, voice and all the other bits and pieces you hear. My old cohort Mark on guitar, Rooster and Si on bass and drums respectively. Pretty much needed a bunch of local guys to ensure we rehearse regularly. Rooster and Si are pretty wise on the live front, just not got out the area enough. They are perfect for this band, me and Mark are wise to this game and the other guys are just taking things in their stride and getting on with the job in hand.
How would you describe the music of The Sontaran Experiment and what is your overall aim?
I read a review today describing it like Sunn 0))) crossed with the Melvins with a classical vibe. I couldn’t have written it better myself. Its initial conception was to put Stuntcock to a doom metal soundtrack. When I asked Mark if he wanted in on this band, my words were ‘ I want this band to push the limits, push the boundaries a bit further’ that’s how it has to be with us. The songs are fucking long but they have to be interesting, moments of beauty are mashed up with blastbeats and ultra-doom. I fell out of love with regular heavy metal a long time ago, I want this band to avoid as many of those bills as possible, and just be as bloody noisy as we can be. There’s no middle ground here, you will either love it or hate it, and that’s fine by us. We’re not doing this to win any popularity contests I can guarantee you that. I love this band because finally I’m getting to play the music I want to play, with no compromise to band mates. Mark and myself very fortunate here, because the other 2 guys are hearing exactly the same thing. Perfect.
A Sontaran is a creature from the cult TV series Dr. Who (I know that coz I Googled it!) so are any of you avid Dr Who fans and does this have any significant meaning behind your band name?
Not too sure about the others but I’m a big fan of the early Dr Who stuff, its all about Baker and Pertwee to a degree. This new Who stuff is fucking dreadful, awful. There wasn’t a great deal of thought in it to be honest. I wanted to call it Brain of Morbius, a classic Dr Who episode with Tom Baker, but some punk band were using it. First of all I just thought fuck it, we’ll use it anyway. Then one day in Glasgow (Barrabus were on tour) me and Mark went into HMV and were looking at the Dr Who DVD’s, and saw the DVD of The Sontaran Experiment. ‘Hey Mark, fancy that one instead?’ ‘ Yeah, cool’. It was that simple. The only reason I was looking at it in the first place is cos a bloke I work with looks like a Sontaran (i.e. a massive head), I was taking a picture of it to show my workmates the resemblance hahaha.
When you play live with Stuntcock, the set kicks off with you on your own which then morphs into The Sontaran Experiment, was this the initial idea when you started, or something which just happened and will this be something we will see regularly, or just 1 off’s from time to time?
The Manchester gig was just a one off really, I’m sure we’ll do it again tho, it was an incredibly noisy 40 mins in all, but most satisfying. I was already booked to play a Stuntcock set and then decided to tap the FN guys up to blag on the bill with the Experiment. Worked out just great. I may well start some of the live shows with a few moments of Stuntcock anyway, just to get people in the mood. A bad mood probably.
You recently released a split CD with your aforementioned project Stuntcock via Future Noise Recordings, how did you get involved in this release and what has the feedback been like?
Due to a mutual love of Hereford United Football Club, Dave at Future-Noise asked if I was into the idea of doing a Stuntcock album for their label of which I was more than happy to do. During the time I was doing it, we recorded a track, purely for demo/myspace purposes, but it turned out great so I asked Dave on the terrace one night about making it a split. I think its been going ok, had a couple of cool reviews, a nice Rock Sound one, which is ironic as I wanted this band to go nowhere near the rock press haha, always the way tho isn’t it? Darren at Undergroove heard it and was interested so we’re doing the album through those guys, which I’m happy about.
Your also going to be supporting Gallhammer on their UK tour in March 2008, so can you tell us how this came about?
Their agent/manager sent a few different tracks from bands to them to see who they wanted and they chose us, simple really. Complicated in another way as she also sent a Lazarus album, which put me in a difficult position at the time. Wasn’t really intending on touring at this moment and had no idea we were in for it, just had a call. Should be fun though, be interesting to see how we are received!
Gallhammer are a band that’s been getting an awful lot of positive press of late, so do you think this will be a good experience for The Sontaran Experiment and give you some decent exposure to potential new fans?
A great experience for sure. 2 of the guys have never really toured before, so they can find out first hand how fucking depressing it is!! We’ll be playing a different track each night, so it will be good fun for us, and Gallhammer are a cool band which always helps. If we can sell a few CDs and shirts each night it will be a start. 50% will love it, the other half will hate it. Perfect!
What else does 2008 have in store for The Sontaran Experiment?
Just finishing my parts on the album at the moment. This is out on Undergroove in June I think, originally titled ‘The Sontaran Experiment – I (one)’weighing in at approx an hour, and consisting of 3 songs. We’ll do a bunch of gigs and see how it goes, I’m quite excited about it really. Its going to be a real challenge for people to get it, but we’re up for the battle!
And finally, I can’t do an interview with you without asking how things are going with Lazarus Blackstar?
I just left.
Thanks Paul for doing this interview and please use this space for any final thoughts…
Yeah, thanks for that mate, and the support over the last few years, much appreciated.
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards