- wMP3.fm Artist Interview -

The Tic Tok Men
Music Style: Electronica
Taking their cues from the intelligent electro-pop stylings of bands like Kraftwerk, Komputer and Telex, their music is brimming with fun, phrenetic, electro-popping sounds to please even the most hardened electro music fan. (Dawn Marie, about.com)

Name: Seven Graylands, Atian Kroft, Dieter Blank
Band Name: The Tic Tok Men (TTM)
Age: 33, 31, 34 (respectively)
Height: 6.0, 6.1, 5.11 (respectively)
Currently Living In: Other, Other, Other (respectively)
Music URL: tictokmen.com

(NOTE: This is taken from an interview with The Tic Tok Men on 07/17/00 which appeared on www.wMP3.fm. The interviewer was Cormac Strain.)

wMP3.fm What made you choose music?
TTM Seven) With the price of commercial music, I figured it would be cheaper to create music then buy it. Little did I know the studio would cost so much when I started out. The way I figure it, each song off a commercial CD costs about $1.50 (US) to the end consumer. If I create one song every month, I should break even on the Compound by the time I'm 132 years old.

Atian) I feel it's the best form of art. It's more fluid then static images or sculpture.

Dieter) It was 50% off.

wMP3.fm How long have you been playing music?
TTM Seven) Growing up, we always had a piano or organ of some sort around the house. I really wanted a guitar when I was about 7 or 8. I got one for my birthday (a little 3/4 acoustic thing) and tried to play it. I guess my brain never adapted to the way the strings were laid out. So, this badly out of tune guitar went into the corner. I had always liked playing around on an old pump organ which lived in our basement. I just sort of took to it. I used to keep track of the keys I needed to play in a song by marking them with different coloured markers. Blue first, yellow second, etc.

Atian) I started piano around the age of 10 or 11. I got into it much more when I was 16 (when I got my first synth, a Juno 6). After that time, I was hooked.

Dieter) What time is it now?

wMP3.fm What first got you into writing music?
TTM Seven) Not sure really. I always enjoyed playing and poking out little tunes. I guess it's just in my blood.

Atian) Yes. I'm with Seven on that one.

Dieter) Yes. I'm with Atian on that one.

wMP3.fm Have you ever encountered the feared "writers block"?
TTM Seven) Yeah. Eeegh. Pretty bad once. Stumped for a few months. Everything I wrote I hated. I just didn't even want to go into the studio. I just sat and watched TV instead. And, wrote lots of words and painted.

Atian) Those were the ugly months. I am remembering that. You cried like a baby every night. Boo hoo. I suck.

Seven) Shut up Atian. I seem to recall one time where....(chuckles)

Dieter) That's it. If you two don't stop it I'm turning the interview right around and taking you both home.

wMP3.fm What one song/artist influence you most?
TTM Seven) I'd have to say Atian. He rocks.

Atian) I'd will be saying Dieter. He is the Moog Machine

Dieter) Myself. I'm the Moog Machine.

Seven) I'd like to change my answer to Dieter please. He's the Moog Machine.

Dieter) Moog Machine, machine, machine, machine, maaaaaaachine.

wMP3.fm Of any musician out there, who would you most like to work with?
TTM Atian) You might be expecting my answer of Kraftwerk yes? O.K., Yes. I would also enjoy with The Art of Noise, or just Trevor Horn. I've always enjoyed Trevor Horn's arrangements and genus.

Seven) I've got two really. Both I'm sure would be almost impossible to work with. One is Gary Numan. I think he'd be cool to toss tracks around with. Plus, I think his voice is cool. It's never quite in tune, nor out of tune. It just is. The other would be Matt Johnson of The The. Lots of passion in that guy.

Dieter) Right. First I'm the Moog Machine, now you don't want to work with me. I'm taking my Moog and going home.

Atian) Go on Dieter, tell them. Hewy Lewis. He is wishing to start a band with Hewy Lewis and be Hewy Lewis and the Moogs.

Dieter) Shhhh. What is the next question?

wMP3.fm Have you heard of DEVO's Whip It! and if you have, do you know what it's about?
TTM Atian) Yes. I am remembering that song. It's about blending your noodles

Seven) Blending your noodles?!?

Atian) Yes. Blending your noodles, popping your tart, smoking the tubby, you know.

Dieter) Someone has been missing their medication again.

wMP3.fm How many cigarettes do you smoke in a day?
TTM Dieter) 10 of mine, 10 of Sevens

Atian) Half pack or less.

Seven) 10-30. Depends on the day.

wMP3.fm What is your most embarrassing musical moment?
TTM Dieter) This interview.

Seven) I haven't really had any embarrassing moments. More like frustrating ones. Losing power on stage, forgetting lines, stuff like that.

Atian) I ripped the backside out of my trousers at a concert. That was mostly embarrassing. Not badly torn, but I did not turn my back to the crowd.

Dieter) You didn't want them to see the boxers Gina makes you wear.

wMP3.fm Of all your songs, which one do you consider your best and why?
TTM Seven) The last one we ever do. Almost always. I think because I haven't heard it much. The others, I've heard.

Atian) I have a close feeling to Remote Control. I just love how that song wrote itself. I also really enjoy Conduit. The whole idea of on-line love affairs and the great sound Seven did with the vocals.

Dieter) Software-Hardware and The House of Mirrors.

wMP3.fm What are you working on now?
TTM Seven) Now that Conduit is done, I'm taking a little time to work on a few tracks of my own. Not everything I do is Techno, so I've put off finishing a few things to work with the guys on the CD. I'm also looking at a few remixes for Internet based bands.

Dieter) I'm busy working on Ubersetzer.

Atian) As am I with Ubersetzer. Plus, I am working on a few new ideas for the next Tic Tok Men sounds.

wMP3.fm If a large TV Network wanted Sam the Action Man, but only if he was polite, what would you do?
TTM Seven) I guess that question is for me. Tell them to go boil their noodles.

Atian) Blend their noodles

Seven) Whatever.

wMP3.fm Fry or Grill?
TTM Atian) Grill.

Dieter) George Foreman Grill.

Seven) What are we cooking?

wMP3.fm What is your favourite piece of music gear or software you use right now?
TTM Seven) It's got to be the console or the Roland D-50. The console just gives so much freedom to create the sounds. The D-50 just never ceases to amaze me. Everytime I write something, I can make the perfect sound to fit it on the D-50.

Atian) I'm quite fond of the Akai AX-60. Lovely analoge synth like the Roland Juno 106, but the sounds are smoother, cleaner. It's also very musical to work with. If I could just modify it to have aftertouch, I'd be quite happy. I would then run away with it and move to Spain where Seven couldn't find me.

Dieter) This ashtray makes a rather nice sound (thunk-thunk-thunk).

wMP3.fm What are you thinking of getting next?
TTM Atian) Both Seven and I have been sweet for the Roland JP8000. Great programming interface and lovely sounds.

Seven) I would like the rack version of the Roland JP8000 (the JP8080). I ordered a Roland Trap Set. But, the company I ordered from messed it up. So, I'll be re-ordering it shortly from another company. I'm a real gear slutt. I love it all. I'm also looking into getting a bucketful of noise gates to quiet all the old synths in the Compound.

Dieter) Did you guys get a Roland endorsement you didn't tell me about? Sure, I leave and you get a fat, corporate synth sponsor. I hate you guys. I'm taking my Moog and going home.

Atian) Do that CARTMAN!

Dieter) Cartman? O.K. fine. I want a new Akai sampler. Akai samplers are Hella-cool.

Atian) Shut up CARTMAN!

Dieter) Hella-cool, Hella-coooooooool, Helllllllllaaaaaaaaaa-cool.

wMP3.fm What was the first tune you wrote?
TTM Dieter) It's called "Hella-cool". Let me sing a little for you. Hella-coooooooool, Helllllllllaaaaaaaaaa-cool.

Atian) Don't mind Dieter. He is mostly broken. As for me, I can't remember. What IS the first TTM song we wrote together?

Seven) Hmmmmmm? Was it "ASR"?

Atian) No. "ASP" was written later. Might have been '89.

Dieter) "ASR" was only a variation of the song with the big wa-wa-wa-wa sound.

Seven) HA. The wa-wa-wa-wa song. I forgot all about that one. I honestly don't remember the very first one. So many of those songs didn't even have names.

wMP3.fm What instruments do you play?
TTM Dieter) Keyboards, drums, old tape machines and this ashtray (thunk-thunk-thunk).

Seven) Keyboards, drums, a bit of Bass, a smaller bit of guitar. Plus some odds and ends like harmonica, vibes, stuff like that.

Atian) Mostly keyboards, mostly.

wMP3.fm What musical training do you have?
TTM Atian) None.

Seven) None.

Dieter) None.

wMP3.fm Where do you see music going on the web?
TTM Atian) I am thinking music on the web will see large increases in distribution and dotcom recording labels. I'll be expecting more dotcom ventures like mp3.com will pop up which will send some payments back to the musicians.

Seven) I agree. I guess we will see more mp3.com type sites. I also would guess software much like Napster will start showing up but it will be pay based. The user will start an account and through propitiatory software will browse and download songs for a small cost.

Dieter) Did they finally get that whole web thing off the ground? I am so out of touch.

wMP3.fm How did the original Tic Tok Men split?
TTM Dieter) It was that damn Yoko Ono. She was behind the whole thing.

Atian) Shut up CARTMAN! It was mostly an agreed thing. TTM started to slow of new ideas and regular life started taking over for a few of us. It was just a natural progression of any band. We had picked a date for TTM getting back off the ground. So, it was more of a break then a breaking up. Soon, we all lost contact with Brian. Until just a short time ago.

Seven) So far we haven't done a "complete" TTM song. Even after contacting Brian, we still haven't worked on a song all together.

Atian) Which is still one thing we are hoping on.

Dieter) Did I tell you guys how much I hate Yoko Ono?

wMP3.fm Did the music change in any way?
TTM Seven) Yes and no. The first few tracks sounded a lot like where TTM left off.

Atian) Quite true, but it altered rather quickly. By the third or forth song we had different sounds going on. A different creation.

Dieter) Atian and Seven were coming up with cool new bass/bass drum beats. Funkier then the older stuff. A far cry from anything Yoko Ono ever did.

Seven) The whole process of writing changed and the Compound underwent a major redesign. In the old days we would all gather in the Compound and write a song. Now, we each have our own studios and MIDI files are send in e-mail to each other. Changes are made (or not made) and the file is send on. I'll compile everything in the Compound and the song is recorded. Then the recording is passed around and approved. Only just a few times with the last CD did we ever all gather in the Compound together. Without a doubt I think just a change is writing affected the outcome of the music.

Dieter) Distance has been an issue. It's proven to be very hard for me to write songs that way. The flow and "jam" process isn't there.

wMP3.fm How does Brian's music in the interim and the Tic Tok Men's recent material compare?
TTM Seven) Brian's music, The Noisettes, is more ambient then TTM techno. He always was into the drawn out smooth synth sounds. I heard almost all of the Noisettes songs, but one called "Solar Flare Bungee Jumping" is very cool. Less structure then TTM, more old school synth work, but VERY cool. Brian has also been into the more minimal aspect of techno. I read in an interview The Noisettes did where he said something like "(he) wanted to write the futuristic type music you would hear in old sci-fi movies."

wMP3.fm Are there similarities?
TTM Atian) Not really. When working with people one inadvertently picks up their habits. I'm quite sure if you picked the music apart you might hear riffs used with old TTM, but might not. Our new TTM stuff would surely contain them.

Seven) Bass and Drums were always the backbone of TTM. They drove the music, built the main themes. The Noisettes are totally different.

Dieter) The Noisettes are great. TTM is great. There it is.

wMP3.fm Is Brian going to hang around?
TTM Atian) We are not quite sure what Brian's doing. He's been pretty mobile as of late and we are never sure where he'll e-mail us from next. I hope we can arrange at least one TTM song which has all four of us.

Interview Date: 07/17/00 - Interviewed By: Cormac Strain