In 2015 a quartet of “timezapped neuropunks” calling themselves Expander released a six song demo. This first demonstration of Expander’s sci-fi crossover insanity, known as Laws of Power, was initially issued in the form of 25 cassette tapes. That same year saw the reissue of their demo by Caligari Records, as well an eponymous self-titled 7 inch recorded at GodCity Studios with Kurt Ballou. Since appearing out of nowhere and embarking on their weird mission to save humanity from its own creations, Expander have signed to Nuclear War Now! Productions for the release of their debut full length.
Today we are privileged to bring you an exclusive stream of that full length, titled Endless Computer, in its entirety, plus an action-packed and bizarre yet surprisingly informative interview with two of Expander’s four constituents.
First, here is Endless Computer, easily one of the most energetic, unpredictable and genre-boundary-obliterating records you’ll have heard in some time.
KEYMASTER (drums) reporting in. I am the one of the communication officers for EXPANDER CORP. I will note my answers with `KM` below!
GENERAL HAM (vokills) salutes you. Illusionaries noted with ‘GH’!
How was the recent show with Antichrist (SWE)? Got any pictures we can see?
KM: Well, it was an outdoor show in central Texas right in the middle of summer…suffice to say, it was HOT AS HELL.Those guys didn’t care and still slapped hard! Most of Austin’s real heads were out there banging in the heat anyway. By far, one of the best parts of being in the band is getting to play with sick bands (like Foreseen, who recently came through from Finland) that have traveled so far to play this area.
GH: All photo evidence of the gig was confiscated by special agents of the Authority Spire sector 74B, formerly known as Red River Assimilation Zone of the third Austin, TX microwar. This is naturally the case when Expander is engaged in its sonic transmissions, as the special ministers of the EC are hot on our trail.
How about a Wu-Tang – “Can It All Be So Simple Now”-style introductory breakdown of all four members of Expander?
KM: I will privately slide you the fire side project mixtape featuring Expander members after this interview. I am Keymaster, drummer and communications officer. I am also principal recordist and archivist of the band. General Ham is vocalist, logistics manager and communication officer. Swirly is the bassist and aviation officer for the Hellvan, our highway vehicle. Guzzler is the guitarist and chief equity analyst of the band.
While recording this LP at GodCity, Swirly had a daughter named Emma, who was bred to replace the first one of us to expend our human carapace.
GH: I would just like to shout out Guzzler for being the real life embodiment of a true cyberpunk living on crypto-currencies, strapping into Biochron space shoes daily and wielding the most futuristic riffs this side of the galaxy!
Take us back to pre-Expander times. How did it all come together? Who built this Geochronmechane that I’ve seen referenced?
KM: Regarding the formation of the band, Expander operators were chosen based on a report that ranked area humanoids on technical proficiency of respective instruments, knowledge of esoteric music culture and overall compatibility. GH and myself formed the core command of the operation and later sought additional commanders when we realized the full scope of the mission.
I’m not at liberty to discuss the origin or function of the Geochronmechane, but can say that significant research has already been done on this timeline to conceptualize it. General Ham is much less protective of his knowledge, so he should explain.
GH: We are the astute followers of the late visionary and architect Paul Laffoley. In our travels and exploitation of space-time, we were able to receive an exclusive transference from his Oversoul. To delineate the specifics of his Geochronmechane would take years, as it is not just a device but also a collection of protoconscious energies, paranormal phenomena, synchronicities between gender interval evolutions, biotemporal manifestations and qualitative measurements of the connections between time, fate and free will. But in basic terms, it is the third design phase of the time machine–from Earth–in the ages of the first-born type II civilization. Current (2017) mission directives are to protect these instructions and deliver them to the alliance forces, whose bases have moved to undisclosed locations since the Diamond at Mt. Archuleta was crushed and desecrated by The Mayor born of the Ovum of Filth.
What’s brought you to back to this era, though? Why now?
KM: For humanity, this time on Earth is a golden age trending toward an ugly future of automated control by evil forces. We don’t believe these are surmountable without significant resistance, but we thought it best to sound the alarm now.
Least importantly, this sub-genre of music is being made dull from ignorance and a Luddite-style worship of the past. The potent music made by Texas bands such as Impalers, Iron Age, Mammoth Grinder and Power Trip certainly helped to charge our own retaliation. Texas does not fuck around when it comes to making hard-hitting music.
GH: It’s imperative that humankind begins taking action against the cosmic slave-masters and their nefarious devices of control in 2017. We are here to start the neuropunk invasion and awaken those trapped in a recycling slumber! We intend to gather ‘round all junklords, timegrippers, chemfreaks and flat-footed lunkheads to let the revelry begin.
Among the three criteria for potential Expander band member compliance, you list a “knowledge of esoteric music culture.” So which records are those that are absolute prerequisites for being in Expander?
KM: We enjoy a lot of different music and try not to limit any influences from creeping into Expander’s music. Endless Computer LP was influenced in part by the following records (and more):
GH: These selections are albums that are ones that are enjoyed by all members of the band. Keymaster and I have been banging that Ravens Creed record for a long ass time now. Criminally underrated thrash metal that’s spiteful as hell. Ben Ward gives what is probably one of my all-time favorite vocal performances, he sounds like a freaking monster. Highly influential for me although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sound that mean. Hopefully one day.
That Daughters LP has some of the most fucked up guitar sounds ever. Top tier noise rock and a pure joy to slam in the van on the way to a gig. Really gets the juices flowing and grabs ahold of my drug-bone.
Surface to Air is one of the best synth/kraut rock records ever. I know Keymaster worships A.E. Paterra and for good reason the drumming on that record is beyond slaying.
Craft — one word — RIFFS!
But yeah like Keymaster said we love a lot of different stuff, we’re all pretty much music nerds. We want to eventually do a music oriented podcast under Night Rhythms Recordings so look out for that!
The new album was record at GodCity Studios with Kurt Ballou. What made Expander choose to work with Ballou?
KM: The strange answer is that Kurt actually drew us to GodCity, much to the credit of SWIRLY. Without the rest of the band’s knowledge, he submitted our first EP to a contest that MetalSucks was doing with Converse to have Kurt record bands in a really nice studio in their headquarters.
The rest of us didn’t even know this contest existed, and one day, we get an email asking if we could come to Boston to record with him. It was a total shock! Kurt’s proficiency as a musician and engineer is common knowledge, so the opportunity to work with him as a relatively unknown band seemed like a total scam. I wasn’t 100% convinced until I saw an email from his AOL account. That’s how you know it’s real.
We flew to Boston and recorded two songs for the Expander 7” that we did for Doomentia Records in one day during September 2015 at Rubber Tracks with Kurt and Robert. The studio is located in Converse’s corporate HQ in downtown Boston, loaded with high end recording gear like a Neve console and nuclear-powered, refrigerator sized studio monitors.
Meeting and working together for the first time with such a time restriction is naturally stressful, but we had a great session and everyone really enjoyed working together.
GH: After communicating with Kurt and realizing his dedication to making our record sound exactly how we wanted it to, I was quickly reassured this was the right move for the capturing of this recording. I believe our music warrants not only a studio that can capture the heaviness of the riffs and neck-snapping rhythmic changes, but also an engineer who can let the odder melodies and elements exist with an unfiltered clarity. It is our intention for the record to purely represent what you would witness live in the chances our bodies end up in your area. In the end, Endless Computer has been fully realized as the best warning beacon we could have discharged!
Kurt Ballou wasn’t the sole producer on Endless Computer, though, was he? Who is Robert Cheeseman, really?
KM: The word “producer” has a connotation to some that Kurt may have had a hand in performing or instructing the songwriting. He would be more accurately described as having engineered the recording. This is a silly distinction we sometimes have to make to defend our own musicianship.
There will be articles published about Robert Cheeseman in future issues of Decibel. He’s Kurt’s venerable studio assistant at GodCity; the guy running cables, placing mics and performing surgical tom editing. He plays bass in a band called Spirits. Y’all watch out for this dude. He’s been doing killer recordings of live bands lately.
GH: Bob Queso is a true gentleman that helped me keep tabs on my Coors Light consumption to keep buzz levels optimized without overheating my ego plasma-packs.
Tell us about Authority Spires, and about the best way to topple them, please.
KM: Authority Spires are noxious, cylindrical devices deployed in the automated age and eventually controlled by the Endless Computer. When the Moon Wizard and Red Witch discover blueprints for the Advanced Soul Matrix, the Endless Computer will activate information monoliths in deep space. Human agents will then create bastardized forms known as “Authority Spires” for resource and culture control, but these are eventually compromised by the space-time quantum computer for unknown purposes.
GH: Our only chance of toppling the system of corrupted Authority Spires is to psychically project through the War Terminal into the True Front Line via the GCM. There, battle wages against dreadful Monarchs, humanoid harvesting deathcanals and a system of cybernetic virus intelligence overlords. If the alliance between humanity and the Orange begins to crumble under the weight of this new world virtual-war, Cold Orbit stasis must be engaged and further remote regions of the universe must be sought.
What does Expander require to operate at full capacity? When you play live, what booming sentinels tower behind you?
KM: Without a doubt, we prefer equipment produced by independent manufacturers and engineers over anything produced by automation. I have a preference toward Fibes drums, a now-defunct Austin, TX brand. All of our speaker cabinets are produced in Chicago, IL by Emperor. Swirly’s bass was built in Pensacola, FL by Electrical Guitar Company and his amp made in Seattle, WA by Verellen. Some of the independently-produced effects pedals we use are made by Fuzzrocious, Dunwich, Amptweaker, GCI and Atomium.
GH: Dude, KM had Guzzler’s name emblazoned on the neck of his guitar it’s so extreme and bad ass. Also Guzzler has been painstakingly trying pedals and amps to get his “anti-tone” (the fucked up lo-fi sections of the album) sounding perfect in a live setting. He’s just about nailed it now with the help of his new amp and pedal upgrades.
Have you taken the Hellvan out on tour yet? Will you be touring on Endless Computer?
KM: We’ve done a few Texas shows, but nothing outside of the state yet. We did use the Hellvan to cart our gear up to Salem (for the LP recording) and back this year, though.
As far as touring, we are just waiting for the right opportunity. There are certain bands and people we are pestering to partner up for a tour, but the time has to be right for everyone involved. If someone reading this wants to do a tour with EXPANDER, get in touch. Don’t worry though…we will be coming to your city/country eventually!
GH: Yeah we wanna ride out, man. Someone from a German review of Endless Computer just said “EXPANDERS ARE NOT AFRAID OF TROUBLE!” And that’s for sure true! We are coming for you soon!
Let’s talk Nuclear War Now! Prod. Even considering Villains, Expander stick out like a mohawk at a funeral doom “gathering.” How did the deal come about?
KM: Like John Titor was able to use military technology to inject message board posts in the early 2000’s (he never actually traveled from 2036), General Ham was manipulating NWN forums to connect with YK. Once that connection was established, our timeleech systems succeeded in establishing a release plan through the label. How else do you explain getting a mostly pink, purple and green album cover to come out on that label?
In all seriousness, it feels subversive and we’re content being outsiders. RIP Villains, too. I don’t know if we’d be on the label if it weren’t for that band and their “street metal” influence on us.
Can you leak anything regarding the contents of the Endless Computer Die Hard?
KM: One cool thing is that the limited release will include an exclusive screen-printed patch designed by Rok from Sadistik Execution. He was jacked in way back in the 1990’s, so it was easy to connect in present time. There is also an Endless Computer passkey sticker I designed that is exclusive to the release.
How does Expander figure into the future of our simple race?
KM: Expander provides the perspective to view humanity as a single race that must look to the stars to escape insane systems of control and massive ecological decline. We are another link in a chain of Texas music that mixes punk attitude with heavy metal and other weirdo influences. Hopefully this music inspires other people to push these genres into the future!