Second Square To None

Papercut - Untitled (EDIT) by sstn noise

Coming from a band backround this week's Noise Series features zombie movie and high volume level aficionado Gary Morrison, a.k.a. Papercut, who gives us this interview:

What are your reasons / motives for making music, and how you arrived at this style?

I'm not entirely sure what my motives are other than trying to recreate the noises I constantly hear in my head. I've been playing in bands since I was a teenager, starting off in a band that was kind of punky and Pavement-style stuff. Somewhere along the line we discovered Sonic Youth and early Mercury Rev albums. The musical ideas mixed with dissonance and noise was really inspiring to me and totally changed what I considered to be "music". The noise bits soon became my favourite parts and it wasn't long before we started incorporating extended noise jams into our music. Me and the bass player in that band used to always play around with his 4-track recorder. One night we were messing around and ended up recording a noise track by running a heater fan through microphone and a load of guitar pedals. We didn't record anything like that again but the idea of recording just pure sound without melody was something that stuck with me.

Eventually that band fell apart and I ended up playing in a band that is far more quiet but still use noises and stuff in the background. After wanting to do it for ages, one week I set up a load of equipment in my room and just started recording electronic improvisations on to my minidisc recorder. I then mixed and layered these improvs into one long track on my computer. I played it to my good friend Steve Fanagan who runs Slow Loris records and he wanted to put it out. That was the first Papercut release, although bits were a bit more mellow then the stuff I do now. I had intended for the Papercut thing to be a one off but a gig soon followed and since I hadn't thought of a new name I stuck with Papercut. From that, I ended up getting a few more gigs in fairly quick succession at the Lazybird night. By this stage the name had truly stuck, despite my efforts to come up with something else. The more gigs I played the more noisier they got.

I recorded a few more small run cdrs for various folks, most of which sold out, but somewhere along the line I just stopped recording and just stuck to playing gigs. I also introduced a bit more drone elements into my set as I have kind of gotten bored of the whole constant wall of noise thing. Now that I have a nice new place to set up and record, I intend on getting back into putting out cdrs and stuff. I also have a couple of nice gig recordings I intend to put out too.

What sort of environment it is intended for , and what is the intended effect on listener (if any)?

Well I really approach my recorded output and live shows pretty differently. The recorded stuff has to have more layers and details because I would get really bored otherwise. Nothing bores me more than a noise cd that doesn't change over the course of 20mins or so. Just because it's not musical, doesn't mean it has to lack dynamics. The layers need to be there to reward repeated listenings too or else people will listen to your cd once or twice and then never again.

The live sets I approach differently. They're improvised and as a result can vary greatly depending on a whole host of factors, such as my mood that day, the other bands I'm playing with, the power and quality of the P.A. System etc. I like to perform loud and to let the sounds become as physical as possible. I love the power of bass frequencies being played at loud volumes and the effect that has on the listener, and also the venue I'm performing in. Most of my favourite gigs have been ones where I can feel the venue shaking and the stage vibrating underneath me. I played a gig recently as part of the DEAF Festival, which was probably my most favourite one so far. They had an amazing P.A. in there which could handle all the bass frequencies perfectly. My gear was being moved around from the vibrations on the stage and I could feel certain frquencies in different parts of my body. It's a far more physical thing than listening to a cd in the comfort of your own home.

There's no real intentions behind what I do, it's just something that amuses me and allows me to make an unholy racket every so often. I just try to create something that would excite me if I heard it at a gig or on a stereo. The fact that other people seem to be in to it is something that still blows my mind!

What sort of equipment you use (e.g. computer, hardware, home made gear, circuit bent stuff etc.) do you use to make your sounds?
I use all of the above really. I use a mix of shop bought stuff, oscillators and pedals I've built myself, and stuff I've circuitbent. My initial recordings were all done straight to minidisc, bounced on to an old pc, and mixed using some pretty simple software. That computer eventually got filled up with stuff so I've started robbing my girlfriend's laptop and using Reaper to record.

In terms of sound sources I tend to use certain things for playing live. My regular go-to things would be an pocket AM radio I circuitbent a few years back, a feedback loop with a fuzz pedal and an octave pedal in it, a Sirkut SNB noise box, a homemade dual oscillator, and a circuitbent buddhist chant machine. The circuitbent radio is good for white noise washes which can then morph into screeches and squelches depending on what way you turn the dials. I use the feedback loop to create bassy drone textures. The Sirkut SNB is usually used purely for high end frequency stuff while the homemade oscillator can cover high end screeches and low end drones. The circuitbent buddhist chant machine just has a pitch dial added. This lets me get some lovely low end drones which eventually turn into digital mess if I pitch it down fully. I also use a couple of pedals for loads of delay and reverb!

When recording I tend to use a lot more stuff as I've accumulated and built a large number of noisemaking devices and guitar pedals over the years. I usually end up grabbing loads of different things, setting them up, recording about 10mins of improv, taking it all apart and starting over again. Once I think I have enough, I load the tracks into an audio editor of some sort and then overlap and mix them together to create a single longer track.

Any memorable noise-related incidents/ interesting gig anecdotes?

Not really to be honest, most folks I've played with are resonably well behaved. I occasionally get people with confused faces asking me "What WAS that?". That's about as rock'n'roll as it gets really. Sigh.

Info on upcoming gigs, preferred web address, releases etc.

The only release currently available is a collaboration with Wrecking Ball (Steve Fanagan) on Deserted Village. That can be gotten from here...

There will hopefully be something else out in the near future though.

Keep an eye on for news and stuff

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