Condemned To The System
Released January 7, 2014
Seminal grindcore band Nausea released a genre-defining album in 1989's World Downfall. A quarter of a century on, they have put out its critically-acclaimed follow-up, Condemned To The System, helped by the production skills of new bassist Alejandro Corredor. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to Corredor about the tracks on the Los Angeles-based band's new album and his past in the Latin American hardcore scene.
You grew up in South America and played in a couple of hardcore bands in Colombia for 18 years, including Sin Salida from your teens until you moved to LA about four years ago. Hardcore's a traditionally political genre - what's the scene like there?
It is very active, very political, very violent, for good and bad. There's all sorts of hardcore scenes nowadays - right-wing, left-wing, animal rights activists, human rights activists, etc. In the case of Sin Salida we, as members, grew apart as we became older. I joined the band when I was 16 and by the time I left, one of the members of the band had been killed after joining a right-wing paramilitary army, very unfortunate. Another moved on to have a shot at real life, family, kids, etc - and I realised the world was fucked and a very unfair place. I ended up getting closer to the punk rock scene, totally left-wing, activist kids. I felt more at home there, even though some people forcefully wanted to associate me with the off-time activities of the other members of the band. I stood my ground and stayed there, but eventually that got old too and I moved away from Colombia and all that craziness. I don't identify myself with any political party. Obviously I'm closer to the left of the spectrum, but I have friends from all walks of life and I respect them all.
Nausea have a solid live reputation and have been touring extensively over the past few years. You've just been playing Mexico - how were the audiences there?
Audiences in Latin America are just insane! We are VERY passionate about our music. In the Third World, you live a very extreme lifestyle - you are surrounded by violence and poverty, you always harvest a lot of frustration and feelings of rejection, "normal" society doesn't like us, and the feeling is mutual, so growing up, some of us turn to extreme music for relief. So for the kids in paces like Mexico and others alike, a grindcore show is a family gathering, our thanksgiving party, it's our time to rage!
What do you make of the politics in Colombia and South America more generally at the moment?
Man, it became unbearable for me to live in Latin America. I'm too sensitive to all that stuff to live around it. If you think the 99% of the people in the developed countries have it bad, your heart would break forever if you knew how most people in the least fortunate territories live. To some, life really is pain. The intervention of foreign capital and its influence in most of our governments has only been beneficial to the powerful. Multinational corporations finally have bought the last men standing in Latin American offices. As we say: "The rich get richer, the poor stay poor, working hard, all for nothing." There's a few countries that stand against American and European corporations. While Brazil and Paraguay have left-wing presidents that look after their citizens, places like my home country are ruled by corporate puppets that would sell their flag and their mothers for a handful of dollars.
What did you make of the internet rumour - supposedly false - that legendary British heavy metal band Iron Maiden had used piracy data to plan tours of South America?
I love Maiden. I hope this is not true - it would be very disappointing if any of these accusations were real.
You're relatively new to Nausea, but you mixed and mastered the new album yourself. Was the fact that the album contains many reinterpretations and reworkings of previous works by this seminal grindcore band daunting in any way?
Not at all, it actually was a lot of fun working on my favourite tracks from the band's catalogue! We all sat down and chose the songs we felt showcased the present sound and ideology of the band. I believe the tracks on Condemned To The System tell a bit of a tale about how the band got back together and how the record came to be - at least, that's the way I see it.
What do you think you have brought to Nausea's sound?
I tried from the get-go to add my own flare. I suggested a lower tuning and right off the bat I tried to work on new arrangements, both for the old and the new tracks - production work, if you may, since that's what I do, audio production. I think you can just put the new record and, if you are familiar with the old material, you'll hear my contributions right away.
Please take us through the album tracks and the meanings behind the songs...
"Freedom of Religion"
This song is about the stupidity of having imaginary friends. Religion has been disappointing humanity and pretty much fucking it all up since the beginning of times - but hey, at least you are free to believe in dumb shit, so be my guest.
"Does God Need Help?"
The title says it all. We firmly believe that, if there's a god, he definitely needs a hand administrating this planet, 'cause these results can't be the work of a superior being - unless he hates us all, that is.
"World Left in Confinement"
Same deal here, if there was ever a god, he left a long fucking time ago…
"Cries of Pain"
This song is about poverty in the world, the suffering of mankind, the stress imposed by life in modern society…
"Hate and Deception"
I love this one. When [Nausea's guitarist-vocalist and founder] Oscar [Garcia] brought in the initial idea, I was going through a very nasty sentimental separation. I woke up one day and realised I wasn't only being cheated on and fucked over, I was sleeping with the enemy. Sometimes the ones you love are the ones that have the easiest access to the tools of your demise. The song wasn't written specifically about this particular situation - it was about being disappointed by our gods and our rulers, but this is what it means to me, so there you go.
One of Oscar's tracks on World Downfall. We had the pleasure of having Matt Harvey from Exhumed doing vocals on this one. He's one of the brightest and literate individuals I know - it is such a pleasure chatting with him. Anyway, this track is very political. Oscar was quite the visionary when he wrote these lyrics back in 1988. Look at the world now, owned and operated by corporations, businesses and franchises - we blew it...
This deals with the people locked away by crimes they didn't commit and the resurgence of privately operated incarceration facilities - really fucked-up shit...
"Fuck the World"
This sums up our ideology as a band - we believe in nothing and we trust no one. We care for no one's opinions, follow no one's rules and bow down to no man - fuck the world and everything in it. It kinda is already fucked, so nothing new here...
"Condemn Big Business"
See "Corporation Pull-In", same deal…
"And We Suffer"
We wake up… and we suffer! Life in modern times, more or less…
"Absence of War"
...doesn't mean peace, the business of war and the fear-mongering that incite such craziness.
Thanks for speaking to Green Left Weekly.
Cheers man, and grind on!
Listen to and buy the album here. Read a GLW interview with crust-punk pioneers Doom here.