Harsh electronic two-piece Prolife rose from the ashes of now-defunct Brisbane death rockers Slug Guts, and have already set heads spinning with their singularly terrifying sound. Heavy club rhythms and evil sequenced synth are overlaid with spasms of noise and harrowing outsider crooning, producing a listening experience easily as unsettling as their name. With their killer debut 7" just released on Sacred Bones (and another due in April through It Records), I caught up with them to talk about boredom, using hearing damage as song writing tool, and just how upset they'd like their audience to become.
THUMP: What was the genesis of this project?
Nick Kuceli: On the last Slug Guts tour, we were in New York and pretty fed up, we knew that was gonna end. It was a reaction to the whole band thing, we wanted to do something fresh.
James Dalgleish: We could see ourselves getting bored with doing the same thing. We knew that whole guitar/bass rock thing had to end for a bit—to give us some space to re-evaluate things—so we thought let's do something electronic. We wanted a project that was just the two of us—where we didn't lose anything in the band interpretation.
Nick: There are parts that we still want to keep of band shit, we always want it to be engaging for example—
James: And extreme or harsh in some way—we listen to a lot of intense shit.
The first few Prolife gigs I saw, you pretty much changed the entire project every show.
Nick: We have short attention spans.
James: Everyone else is "I'm techno", "I'm a rock singer", or "we're a sleazy blues band". This is just like, we are whatever—and that feels really good for us—we don't even know what we are gonna do next show.
Where do you guys think you sit in terms of techno? I feel like you're definitely in that world but also somewhere very different.
Nick: I definitely wouldn't call it techno—techno is a faceless nothing. We're more experimenting with forms.
James: I like the idea that you can have techno as a dirge, and then pop as a glistening, thought-out thing. We like to mix them, we're never satisfied, we can't just do techno and we can't just do songs. There are no rules, and usually no resolve. We just make what comes out.
How much does your band scene experience colour this project?
James: We've left that world of certain sounds for certain scenes. Our name is not marketable, just like that It Records doesn't have an identity. We make music that doesn't fit in a box, so hopefully we can create a new vibe. Having said that, our ears have been depleted in the same ways from playing all those shows together. We try and fill the gaps that have been depleted—with white noise or static—because we need that. We can't have that gap or we'll feel like we are alone in the room; we need those missing frequencies filling up the space.
As you guys start releasing stuff how likely will you be to play those pieces live?
James: I reckon we'll try to do bastardised versions of them. We just wanna keep people guessing so it doesn't become boring. It's so annoying to be bored at a show.
Nick: There's nothing worse. People leaving straight away saying "fuck this" is still a better reaction than being bored.
James: Under our collective belt we probably have like 20-25 years of listening to music, and in that time you're gonna get cheesed off, sick of listening to Top 40 or the new trend, it just becomes so tiresome. With compression and iTunes and shit it's like, "I'm not even fucking there someone is listening to it for me". People are actually stoked when you go in and you plug a pedal in halfway and it squeaks. There'll all "oh my god!"
It's also great to see projects develop over time. A lot of artists deny their audiences the chance to watch that evolutionary process. It's cool to be able to say, "I saw Prolife once and they were doing this, then I saw them a year later and they were fucking doing something completely different"
James: "They sucked the first time and they sucked the second time—and I respect that!" But if we did suck twice, we would have sucked in a completely different way. Maybe we tried something: it failed, or worked, or was loud for a bit. But if we failed the second time, if we did the exact same set and then failed twice in a year, that would be truly depressing. The sheer fact that we have moved around to different places, I think there's something in that. I don't want fashion or genres to be a part of it. We wouldn't be happy if we were being patted on the back for following someone else's drumbeat.
Prolife's debut 7" 'Overheated' is out now on Sacred Bones.
This article originally appeared on Thump.
Miles is the only person we know who really can play the theremin. Follow him on Twitter: @M1le5Br0wn