Wednesday, May 11, 2011

...Semonik happily answered some questions (WTII Minifest Interview #2 - Jim Semonic of Rein[Forced])

Seems Harmless enough.
 After doing the Caustic interview, David Shock of WTII Records liked what I had going on with my style of questioning. So, after interviewing him as well, the idea of talking to some of the bands that are playing at the WTII Records Minifest sprouted. Today, we have Jim Semonik. Front man of Rein[Forced].

Falken : Alright sir, here we go with the inquisi... I mean interview. For my readers that don't know who you are and what you do, so let's start there. What is it that you do to pay the bills outside of [rein]forced?

Jim: What's up brotha. Parentheses in the wrong spot bro, LOL. Okay here goes.

Falken: oops

Jim: I'm a panhandler. Well, I guess that's just half true, haha. That's also making the assumption that being in Rein[Forced] pays ANY kind of bills. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that having a band and putting out records is a difficult endeavor these days. You have to market yourself well to survive. Just because you might be signed, it shouldn't stop you from busting your ass to get your stuff out there. I digress, though. In addition to the band, I am a music manager/buyer at an indie record store here in Pittsburgh called Eide's Entertainment. I also promote concerts under Distortion Productions and DJ occasionally. I'm never bored, I can tell you that, but back to the original question, these aren't big bill payers and I've chosen a difficult career path. While I have a Psychology degree from Penn State University, I don't have a masters. I chose early on to follow my dreams instead of submitting to a temp/office job that may pay $ but I'd be miserable working at. Money<Happiness.

Falken: Well, being happy is the best way to go about things. I try to do the same myself.
You mention promotion and DJ'ing every once in a while. Is that something you do to keep relevant in the scene, or is there something else to it?

Jim: Remember the first Rocky movie where Micky tell him to go home because he won't make it as a fighter. Rocky begs him to stay on to work at the gym because he just needs to be surrounded by that atmosphere. I feel that way about this music and the folks that make it. I need to be around it. It's almost like an IV to me. I started DJing at Penn State University on college radio in 1997. In 1999, I was brought on as a resident at Pittsburgh's longest running club night, Ceremony. It closed it's doors in 2009 and went for 12 years. I was a consistant DJ there for 10 of those 12 years. It was quite a tour of duty. Nowadays, I live a bit far from the city and the commute is rough with gas prices. I will guest dj at some different nights every once in a while but DJing isn't nearly as fun as it used to be for me. I am kind of disgusted by seeing DJs make money off of stealing music. So I have kind of moved on from that scene.
Promoting shows and playing live is where my heart is. It's live music that got me into this and it is what I live for. I run a company called Distortion Productions (also a cd distro) that I started in 2000. Bands I wanted to see never came through town, so initially, I wanted to expose folks to stuff they might not be used to seeing. I have since done 94 shows and have done quite well at it, surprisingly. I love meeting and talking with different artists from around the world. It gives me perspective and I feel very lucky to work with the artists that I have. I also love collaborating, so at any given show, you may see me up there with the headliner, doing a song with them. It's about having fun. There will be some collabs at the WTII Minifest and on Electronic Saviors 2.

Falken: That's awesome. I look forward to finally meeting you face to face at the fest (you could probably talk John in to some sweet Reload action during our set). So walk me through rein[forced]. When did it start, who came up with the idea of the band... I will be the first to admit, I fell off the music scene wagon a while ago. I'm trying to get back in it as best I can.

Jim: I can't wait either, brother. There are so many interesting bands and wonderful people involved. It's exciting. Rein[Forced] started technically in 2003 when the members of Forced quit doing music. I still consider it the same band as the spirit and the sound are the same. I met the Forced guys in 2000. We put out Cherophobia on DSBP in 2002. After the guys stopped doing music, 3 other local musicians stepped in to fill the gaps. At the wishes of one of the previous incarnation's members, we changed the name to Rein[Forced]. We played with some heavy hitters as both bands, Pigface, TKK, Chemlab, Funker Vogt, FLA, Acumen Nation, Assemblage 23, Haujobb, etc. As Rein[Forced], we cut Futile Longings of A Condescending Man in 2006 on DSBP. That's when things went downhill....we lost a keyboardist 2 weeks after the cd came out and the other singer quit to pursue his own band. We started working on X 2007. Then I started getting sick.When that happened and I realized I might not be around, so I put into motion what would become Electronic Saviors:Industrial Music To Cure Cancer. After recovering, we resumed work on the album and finished recording vocals mere weeks ago. We just need to get the music tracks to Dan Clark and finalize some art stuff and we should be good to go. We signed with the great WTII for this one.

Falken: The Electronic Saviors project was amazing. I am sad to have found out about it so late and wasn't able to get a copy. I had no idea at the time about your illness at all. I just knew that some guy was putting together this awesome compilation to give the proceeds to cancer research. I've lost people to the disease in the past, so I thought this was a great cause. Word on the streets is that you're doing it again. Is it going to be bigger and better? Who is in on it this time around?

Jim: Wow, thanks man. I appreciate that. Saviors is my baby and what I'd really like to do is 3 of them total...George Lucas style After I got sick, I knew I had to do something to help others going through this and we ended up raising over 20K. I got to work with so many amazing artists. It's still to early to tell how big the second one will be. I know a number of bands will be returning like Ego Likeness, The Dark Clan, Deathline Int'l, Obscenity Trial, Encoder, TERRORFAKT, SMP, Caustic, The Gothsicles etc. There are some that won't be, though, because they are working on their own albums at this point like Tom from Assemblage 23 and Rexx and Dracos from FGFC820. However we have some new guys coming in...Diverje, Am Psych, Edge Of Dawn, Ghost and Writer and a super secret collab called CANCERFACE. I'd like to do some kind of DVD with footage from the release parties and such. There will be a lot more unsigned talent on the digital dropcard this time as well. Oh, by the way, I can get you a copy as I still have a couple The first one will be really hard to top, but we are bringing back Jeff Confer and Samantha Johnson for the artwork. The plan is a gold color scheme with our beloved cancer-borg and his wife this time around. Gold wristbands, and shirts that say Electronic Saviors: Killing Cancer Cells One Beat At A Time! Also, charities will be decided by the bands involved as well as myself this time around.

Falken: Fantastic. So, lets wrap this whole thing up with the ever awesome lightning round. seven questions, 7 answers (long or short, your pick)
1) favorite band - live
2) favorite band - studio
3) Cancer is a ....
4) Favorite food : (I didnt say all the questions were going to be music related)
5) Your opinion on social media as a promotional tool:
6) The current industrial scene is:
7) At WTII Minifest 2 I am most looking forward to seeing:

Jim:1. Chemlab or Hocico
2. 16 Volt
4. Pizza, it gotta be from the right places though.
5. Positive. It's quick and efficient.
6. More concerned with djs than live bands. I hate that.
7. Die Warzau since I haven't seen them since 1995.

Falken: Awesome. Thanks for all your time in getting this Q&A done. You didn't have to do it, but I am glad you did. I look forward to our meeting in June!

Jim: Thank YOU for thinking of me. I can't wait to party with you in Chi town!!

Come check out Jim with Rein[Forced] on Sunday June 12th at the Abbey in Chicago and all of the other bands at the WTII Records Minifest II starting on June 9th!

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