Concert Sutra Spaces Out With The Subliminator

by terri sapp

Photographs by Leah Yetter

© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved 


talking with The Subliminator

click photos for photo gallery


Concert Sutra (CS):                First, tell me how long you’ve been on the music scene.


S:         Oh, Jesus!  Off and on for a very long time.  Long enough to know better.


CS:      What originally inspired you to do this musically enhanced, spoken word type of performance that you do?


S.:        I spent years in space rock bands, most notably Spaceseed.  I did vocals.  They always had a resident poet, and that is the role that I filled with Spaceseed.  That is where the twisted vocals came to be.  Back in the day I was actually a classical guitarist, but the hands are to beat up to do that now, at least in public.  So Theremins… an instrument you don’t actually have to touch.  If your hands are achy, it really doesn’t matter.  One thing led to another.  The solo set I put together in ’05.


The Subliminator on the micCS:      How did you meet up with Scared Records?


S:         Stan and I are both in show business on several different levels.  Amongst that we are stagehands, like 90% of all artists we have sometimes straight jobs, and sometimes straight jobs are stagehands.  Yeah…Interesting tales there… does the name the Bishop TD Jakes mean anything to you?


CS:      The Bishop!


S:         Who made him a bishop anyway?  Uh, he’s a religious hustler of the lowest sort, and comes to town once a year for Megafest.  He books the Dome and the World Congress Center…it’s huge!  It lasts about a week, a turnout of about 150, 000, and it preys on poor black folk and the gullible.  For the purchase of his CD for 49.99, you too will go to heaven!  I wish I could sell a CD for that much, of course all I can offer is a cheesy sticker.  But, yeah, uh, I wasn’t feeling very well that day, but went to cruise out to work and next thing I know, I am throwing up blood in the bathroom.  I hear this voice behind me saying, “Dude, you ok?”  It was one of my riggers, and I’m saying, “I’m fine…BBBRRRRAAAAHHHHH (simulates puking)…get back to work…BBBRRRRRAAAAAAHHHH (again)!”  Long story short, I almost died that day, but that was also the day I met Stan Satin, who is the voice behind me right now.  I mean, how punk rock is that?  (In a devilish voice)  I met him while I was in the bathroom throwing up blood!  After I left Spaceseed, I was label shopping, but not for long, because I met Scared Records.  And ever since then it’s home!


CS:      I love Scared Records!


S:         Oh yeah!  Preserving the past and looking to the future!


CS:      That’s a good one!


S:         Yeah, it is.  It pretty much covers what Scared Records does. 


CS:      Are you going to be involved in the next showcase?


S:         Of course, I will be involved.


CS:      Tell me about the instruments that you use.


The Subliminator on the ThereminsS:         Theremins!  Optic Theremins!  It is an instrument you play by blocking ambient light, and the sensors inside of it.  As you block the light, depending on the distance or the angle of attack, your tone changes.  The rhythms and what have you.  They don’t store anything.  You have to actually play it.  It’s not just pushing a button.


CS:      So when you’re playing are you actually looping as you go?


S:         Yes.


CS:      Is that a separate entity from the pedals on the floor?


S:         That’s for vocals and yes I do loop vocals.


CS:      I see where you’ve been voted in the Creative Loafing for the Best Spoken Word in Atlanta in the consecutive past years, and I’ve seen your picture in the Loaf several times.  I think that is widespread coverage, because everyone in Atlanta reads the Loaf.  How do you feel that that sort of widespread press helps you get people to the gigs?


S:         Well, it helps me book more gigs!  I was voted Best Spoken Word artist in Atlanta for 2006, 2007, and 2008.  When I went out on tour, they called me and said they wanted a photo shoot, and I said, “OK, fine, what is this for?”  They said, well, we can’t really go there.  I told them I wasn’t playing again until I got back in town, which would be over a month.  They said let’s do it now.  So we went to Lenny’s, and they let me borrow the stage and turn the lights and sound on so we can get a photo shoot.


CS:      That is really super cool.  I really love the pictures that they use.  Not for that necessarily, but I’ve seen pictures that they use to publicize your gigs.  You are outside somewhere…


S:         AAAHHHH, I’ve been using that as my tour poster.


CS:      I really like those pictures.  I can imagine that you musical process is probably a bit different from the average everyday band’s musical process.  How do you to putting this stuff together?


S:         Usually it is the lyrics that start out as a piece of poetry, then I’d just use the music as a framework to stretch that over.  So lyrics first and then I work up music to go with it.  One or two pieces that I have are just straight spoken word with no music.  You heard one tonight.


CS:      When you make your music, does it vary from live performance to recording, or do you improvise a lot…


S:         I improvise a lot.  I have a certain framework that I use in some structure.  It usually have some sort of beat to it and it never comes out sounding exactly the same way twice.  That is by design.


CS:      It seems like to be the kind of thing that is always changing.The Subliminator rocking the Theremins


S:         Uh-huh.


CS:      Sometimes when I hear your words, I feel that you could double as a comedy act.


S:         A comedy act…


CS:      Very dark comedy… it trips me out the shit you talk!  Do you think that maybe having a more sarcastic and cynical type of a sense of humor helps you come up with your material.


S:         Yes, Absolutely!


CS:      Do you feed off of what’s going on in the world?


S:         Oh Yeah!  Massive stupidity…oh yes… some of my stuff is of a political nature… what can I say?  Actually, some of my better political pieces are actually old but they are becoming more relevant every day.


CS:      Being pissed at the government is always pretty much going be there, right?   And the people…


S:         Shaheed is a piece that I read it when I was with Spaceseed, and it didn’t quite make the cut.  So okay, fine, I now just do it on my own.  I dusted it off, and here we are.  Depending on the crowd.  I may or may not throw it in the set.  Recording wise, I try not to get too far away from what I can do live.  Okay.  There are a couple of pieces on the CD that are not included in the live set and a couple of live pieces that won’t make a CD either.


CS:      Speaking of CD… how was your time with Recalibrated and Rake?  How did you enjoy the experiences of working with Stan and Zod?


S:         Oh, it was great!  Stan is a wizard producer and gets it, okay.  He is constantly coming up with good ideas.  Zod is a brilliant engineer.  I owe a huge debt to the cats for getting Recalibrated made.  It was an exploration, okay.  Rake didn’t take as long.  We had a clearer picture of how to record me.


CS:      I can imagine how that might be a different process.


S:         It is kind of oddball.


CS:      I’ll bet there is a lot of improvisation going on, which is impressive because improvisation is difficult, in my opinion.  I am curious to see what will be on the next record.  I missed the song tonight with the line, “…your lips upon my buttocks…”  (laughs)


S:         AAHHH, your lips on my…yeah… Exploding Hearts… didn’t do that one tonight… that one is on Rake.


CS:      So, are you going back into the studio with Stan and Zod (of Vietnam)?Vietnam at the Eyedrum


S:         Yes.  I may wind up doing some tracking in Miami, because Scared’s got a lot of projects going, but my finished products will be released with Scared Records. 


CS:      Something to look forward to!  For those who have not had the pleasure of being “Subliminated,” how would you describe your material to the masses?


S:         As kind of a blending between space rock and spoken word… avant-garde…very left of center… different.


CS:      I think that what you do is a form of high art.  With a great message of course that should be spread worldwide, and I want to know your plan for making that happen.


S:         The next few months I’m going to be busy making the next CD.  I generally tour by motorcycle, so this kind of limits me to the warmer months.


CS:      I guess you don’t have much to carry around!


S:         That’s true.  It all goes in that blue road case.  It keeps the overhead low, which allows me to do a tour is and bring them back in the black instead of in the red.


CS:      And you get to do what you love doing, which is awesome!  Do you take anybody with you when you tour, or is it just you and your bike?


S:         I don’t have room!  I don’t even have room for T-shirts, okay!


CS:      That is so sad!  I was wondering about the art that you had up on your MySpace profile for a while.  The one that seems to show the activity of the Theremins.


S:         That was done at a club in Jacksonville, by the art department.  Any venue I play I send out the promo kit, and I sent the standard tour posters down there, but I’d been there about a year previous, and that was taken from a photograph of me playing.  I’ve had a lot of good comments on it, so I think that is what’s going to be the next tour poster.


CS:      That would be awesome!


S:         The next round of stickers too!


CS:      I have to ask to your boots have an alternative use other than the obvious working the controls and whatnot.  They look like they are very multipurpose boots.


S:         They are not fashion accessories! 


CS:      They look like they could do a lot of stuff!


S:         They are basic riding boots.  Granted I’m not writing tonight, but it’s a very rare occurrence.  I haven’t owned a car in many many years.  I borrowed a pumpkin and turned it into that for a few hours, which allows me just to throw my gear in the back, not worry about packing it up, and all of that.


CS:      Looks like you could survive Armageddon in those boots.


S:         I once kicked a botts dot going about 140 mph coming out of Daytona Beach one time, and good boots is the only reason I still have a foot.


CS:      Scary!


S:         Yeah, well, it hurt like hell.


CS:      Well at least you still have your feet.


S:         Oh Yeah, for a while at least!


CS:      What next?


S:         I will be in Asheville, NC at the Garage on July 23rd; in Wilmington, NC at the Bottega Gallery on July 25th; in Hanceville at the Space Camp Festival on September 11th; and in Decatur, GA at Kavarna on September 12th.  Always keep an eye on my MySpace page for the most updated schedule.


To view Leah Yetter’s fantastic photo gallery, visit:  For more information on The Subliminator and his schedule, go to