Electronic/industrial band ANY QUESTIONS? has released Archive: 1991/1992: a 2CD collection that includes special edition CD releases of their 1991 Industrial classic, Don’t Ask, and their 1992 soundscape masterpiece, Darkness. We’d like to thank them for the interview.
Hello and thanks for the interview. First, the obvious question… where did you come up with the name, Any Questions?
In 1987, there was a large-scale US anti-drug campaign that was all over television. The PSA shows an egg frying in a frying pan with the voice-over saying, “This is your brain on drugs… Any Questions?”. It just stuck.
Seriously though… As with all stories of legend, this one has become blurred through time. As it is remembered now, Ttam Troll, mC2p4, and another friend were throwing around various band names back in September 1989. Ttam Troll said that he wanted a band name that would leave fans without any questions. The friend said, “That’s it… Any Questions?”. Thus, the band name was born.
So you’ve just re-released some archived material from the early 90s. Why now? What else do you want to say about these recordings?
Over the history of the band, we have gone back and re-released some of the early cassette-only releases from our catalog on CD. We had previously done this with 1992’s Prey For Death and last year with 1990’s Illegitimate Release 1990. These “Special Edition” CD versions all have remastered audio and feature bonus tracks, limited edition DigiPak packaging, and illustrations by Eyes of Chaos creator, Mike Bohatch.
Don’t Ask from 1991 and Darkness from 1992 are the last of our early cassette-only releases to receive this “Special Edition” CD treatment. Our harsh Industrial sound emerges on Don’t Ask and forms the foundation for our later sonic experiments. On Darkness, the electronic experiments and sonic soundscapes contained within herald the beginnings of our Imbued Vagary project.
You have another project you work with called Imbued Vagary? What are the similarities and differences between the two projects?
As the credits on the 2001 Imbued Vagary – electronique CD release states, “Imbued Vagary = Any Questions?”. Imbued Vagary coalesced into being in 1989 as an outlet for the electronic experiments and sonic soundscapes that core members Ttam Troll (electronics and electronic percussion) and mC2p4 (electronics) produced which didn’t fit the Any Questions? mold.
Darkness, with it’s all instrumental Soundscapes, can really be thought of as the first Imbued Vagary release even though we didn’t officially use the Imbued Vagary moniker on a release until 2001.
How has the compositions evolved from the beginning of the project through the current recordings?
More gear and larger studio spaces in which to perform and record in. When we were first beginning music recording and studio building in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, we had to save, scrimp, beg, and borrow to get our projects done. We have been very fortunate that over the years we have been able to keep, enhance, expand, and at times repair the gear that we like to use.
What sources do you use for any found sounds or field recordings?
I would say more sought out sounds than found. We are of the old “sampling school”. Much of our sample library comes from Horror and Sci-Fi movies. That’s not to say we don’t also use found sounds or field recordings but they are not a primary source in our music.
“Darkness” almost has a bit of a horror soundtrack vibe. Do you take any inspiration from movie or video game soundtracks?
We are big Horror and Sci-Fi movie fans but those weren’t direct inspirations for the music on Darkness. The main inspiration was the addition of a Yamaha TG33 digital synthesizer module in 1991. On the original Darkness release, all three songs (You Have Nowhere To Go, Procession, and Ice Rift) were composed by Ttam Troll while exploring the sonic boundaries of the synth. For Darkness (Special Edition), the 3 bonus tracks (Inverted Fire, Pain Impulses, and Positive Results) were composed by mC2p4 after the addition of a 2nd Yamaha TG33 and his sonic experiments with the synth at the then fledgling Floating Fish Studios II.
If you could share the stage or collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
There are so many artists and bands from all types of genres that we’d like to share the stage or collaborate with. The early ‘80s Tangerine Dream line-up of Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke, and Johannes Schmoelling would be high up on that list.
In the Industrial music scene, we have always liked and still have much admiration for the members of Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, and Front 242 so we’d always be interested in any collaborations with their members.
The list goes on…
Are there certain themes within Any Questions? What are the motivations/What is the inspiration behind the project?
Looking back over our catalog, an overarching theme would be the extent to which man goes to be inhumane both to each other and to other lifeforms. Through the years, we have explored a number of different themes as well have tried many different styles of music but we have always tried to keep an underlying sense of Industrial (either ominous or intense) structure/flavor to the music we create. Synthesizers, samplers, electronics, and effects have always been a part of our electronic music landscape. We love electronics and we believe it shows rather readily in our output.
Can you take us inside the Any Questions? Studio and let us know what the tools of your trade are? What balance of physical instruments and software synths do you have?
We have a great love of hardware synthesizers and have been amassing our large collections since the mid ‘80s. At that time, it was mainly digital synths, samplers, and drum machines as well as analog recording systems. Later, as we moved into the ‘90s and beyond, formats switched somewhat. We began acquiring more analog synthesizers and equipment but moved to digital recording systems. One of the most impactful changes in our studio was when in 1991, we moved from hardware based sequencing on our Ensoniq ESQ-1 to computer based sequencing with the purchase of our first Atari 1040STe computer running Steinberg (then Steinberg/Jones) Cubase software. Since then, we never looked back. For a full rundown of our equipment list, check out https://floatingfish.com/equipment-list.
What would you like the future to hold for Any Questions?
We are greatly interested in doing more film work. We have already scored a few films. The first being an indie horror film called FrightWorld which was released in 2008 on Brain Damage Films and a science-fiction film called Interstellar Invasion which has yet to be released. We have always wanted to compose electronic soundtracks for film so if we get the chance to do more of those, that would make us very happy.