Interview: H3rwig Maurer

Cover of "Automind"

Cover of Automind

H3rwig Maurer is a pretty cool guy with talent to spare. He’s a musician, producer (as Smack3000), composer, sound editor for films (including The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto, and K-PAX, as well as providing scores for Hate Crime, Zen & Zero and episodes of C.S.I. among scores of others), graphic designer and photographer — and he’s probably got more things brewing that I don’t even know about. One of his first bands that got some notoriety was the Mankind Liberation Front, with Ran Pink (and later with Ran’s brother Tal), who had one — unfortunately unreleased outside of promo copies — self-titled album on RCA, and a followup, Automind, on Reality Entertainment. H3rwig’s new musical project is New World Revolution, and his new CD (and 50-page comic book, created with James Mathers) is available now via CD Baby, and the music-only is available as digital downloads via SnoCap.

P.S. — He’s totally right about The Filth.

Part the First:

At this moment in time, what is your favorite song?

H3rwig Maurer: Today… The Knife’s “A Lung” on their first album, which I recently came across.

What’s your favorite band that you don’t think a lot of people would have heard of?

H3rwig Maurer: Chrome.

What, if anything, is on any particular wall (your choice) in your domicile?

H3rwig Maurer: Mostly my own stuff to be tested. Then there are tons of drawings that James Mathers whips out when we brainstorm on ideas, and then we tack them onto the walls, and they end up there pretty much permanently then. And one great shot of Allan Ginsberg sleeping, on the day before he passed. My friend Terrence Miehle took it and gave it to me. If anyone knows him, have him contact me, he’s lost somewhere on the streets of NYC last I heard. [Ed. Note: If you know Terrence, email me via the contact links above, and I can pass anything along to H3rwig.] Have some cool small prints of Geoff Traxler. Then there’s the Native American coyote mask. And this really great trace of an electrical fire I had here a while ago, one wall has this ashen burnt entity due to it, one of the best works of art ever.

What’s the strangest thing you own?

H3rwig Maurer: Maybe my Violet Ray device?

Of the things you’ve done, what’s your all-time favorite (however you want to interpret that, be it artistic works, actions, whatever)?

H3rwig Maurer: probably the instrumental sound-scape for “Galactic History” (which is for sale via snocap right now!! hint!)

Who’s your favorite visual artist (excluding yourself)?

H3rwig Maurer: Dave McKean I like a lot. But probably James Mathers. And my Austrian buddy Alexander Steinwendtner, check him out.

What are the five most recent films you’ve seen?

H3rwig Maurer: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Nomi Song, Closer, Eastern Promises (Widescreen Edition), Videodrome .

What’re your top three movies?

H3rwig Maurer: Crash (Cronenberg’s, not Paul Haggis’s Hollywood piece), Paprika, Fantastic Planet.

Do you own any original artwork, and if so, whose?

H3rwig Maurer: James Mathers, Alex Grey, Terrence Miehle, Geoff Traxler, Gilbert Johnquest.

What is your favorite game?

H3rwig Maurer: That would be Sega’s Phantasy Star Online, although I haven’t played it in 5 years or so. ;)

What sort of pie do you enjoy?

H3rwig Maurer: My mum?s banana cream pie.

If you could say one thing to David Byrne, what would it be?

H3rwig Maurer: Can I produce your next album?

Describe some horrible/otherwise amusing local commercials.

H3rwig Maurer: Haven?t seen any in too long, nothing that comes to mind.

What are your five most favorite books in the world?

H3rwig Maurer: Just five???? That?s tough?. Aleister Crowley: Book 4, J.G. Ballard: Cocaine Nights, Herman Hesse: Steppenwolf , Philip K. Dick: A Scanner Darkly, Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash, Swami Vivekananda: Raja-Yoga.

What is the most boring thing you’ve ever experienced?

H3rwig Maurer: Fixing audio for DVD releases at Sony to make rent money.

If you could name a child anything in the world, what would it be?

H3rwig Maurer: Planet Earth.

What would be a better weapon, a gun that fires dogs or a gun that fires cats?

H3rwig Maurer: Cats.

What is your favorite meal?

H3rwig Maurer: Rice & mung beans.

What is reality?

H3rwig Maurer: A human’s (read “avatar’s”) interpretation of the projection created by the insectoid bird spirits of the “higher” dimensions.

Part the Second

I’ve noticed a progression to a heavier, rockier sound from the first Mankind Liberation Front album to New World Revolution — is that intentional?

H3rwig Maurer: No, it?s just what happened. Sort of going back to my roots, which are in punk rock and noisy guitars. I guess I was always the heavier element in MLF; so it?s only natural that my current solo project is headed into that direction, more fuzz guitars, more wall of sound. Plus these days I am focusing more on jamming and performing, rather than just recording in the studio exclusively, so I just pick up the guitar more often, come up with heavier riffs that are fun to play real loud.

Why was the first MLF album not released outside of promo copies? It was really good, and it seemed to get good reviews.

H3rwig Maurer: We didn?t get enough airplay on the mainstream/Clear Channel radio stations within the first few weeks? release of the single, so that was that….. At some point RCA just didn?t call us anymore…. kind of what you hear of Major labels I guess. Cant help but feel a little bitter, but at the same time I believe things didn?t work out for MLF due to our own inner conflicts, I personally wasn?t ready for that kind of success, might have killed myself with drugs and excessive lifestyle back then.

How much input did you have on the Karmakaze comic book?

H3rwig Maurer: James drew it all by himself, but he and I conceptualized most of the stories together, except for “Robot?, which was really all his idea. I had had the vision to do the comic for a while, and we locked ourselves into my loft for 3 weeks and banged it out, I ended up doing the actual layout and simplistic lettering, and graphic design elements of the whole comic myself, pretty much out of necessity, no one else was around to volunteer without getting paid. ;)

Do you see NWR continuing as a much more multimedia experience — sort of building on Karmakaze’s included comic?

H3rwig Maurer: Yes absolutely, the comic is only the very first baby step. I see a live space-rock sci-fi opera, that?s what I’m working towards. A concept film including some of the animated comic and elaborate music videos are most likely the next steps towards that mondo live musical, which will take a serious amount of energy and talents.

Are you a big comics fan?

H3rwig Maurer: I have had my run-ins with comics. Wouldn’t call myself a real fan. I loved Batman and Spiderman as a five year old. Then later in the mid-nineties I came across all the alternative Vertigo stuff, and was amazed by what the comic medium all of a sudden had accomplishing: writers like Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Peter Milligan had collectively created this whole new approach, which seemed very futuristic and socially relevant to me. But I sort of lost interest after the initial excitement, the “movement” didn’t really go anywhere I feel. While there are many alternative comics today, nothing exciting like The Invisibles or Preacher exists anymore, at least not to my knowledge. Now many of these comics are being adapted into movies, and of course The Matrix ripped off all of Morrison’s genius concepts, but all in a much tamer and less raw form than back then when I felt drawn into that world. I still pick up anything Morrison puts out these days, The Filth is the best comic ever, go buy it. Seriously. I mean it.

Both MLF and NWR have names implying political upheaval — why?

H3rwig Maurer: I definitely think we collectively need to organize and set things straight in order to grant further existence to our species on this planet. Plus, I have this theory that I’ve been programmed by other-dimensional entities to spread fake pseudo-revolutionary ideas, for a reason that remains somewhat obscured to me. But those beings seem quite benign, so I roll with it.

What do you think is humanity’s ultimate purpose?

H3rwig Maurer: To decide on what its ultimate purpose is.

Who are some musicians working today you wish had more fame?

H3rwig Maurer: Jen Turner, Mick Harris, Fred Giannelli a.k.a. Kooky Scientist, Sofa Surfers, Simone White, Mike Chylinski.

How did you get into photography?

H3rwig Maurer: Always been snapping shots a little at least, but never were too serious about it. I did some experimental stuff back in Austria to create slide shows for live shows of bands I was playing in, grainy pixilated close-ups of images from TVs mostly. Very influenced by my friends Terrence Miele and Geoff Traxler, who did these cool b&w raw photo experiments, I met them in my late teens. After a long break I later I got heavily into it when Ran (partner in MLF) and Michelle (Ran’s wife) gave me one of those Russian little plastic cameras for a birthday, then Michelle showed me around in a color darkroom for an afternoon, that was it, I was hooked. Working with my hands, manipulating negatives and printing in the darkroom offered me a great Zen-like contrast and to sitting in the studio in front of a computer day in day out, a great new way of balancing and expressing myself.

It seems the theme of communicating, particularly on a mass or global scale, comes up a lot in your work — what is it about communication that interests you?

H3rwig Maurer: Its the most likely way to implement what I believe is important for positive social change and evolution. Media & communication systems are responsible for spreading the building blocks that we use to piece our “reality” together. If we manage to pipe out different building blocks of a more empowering and benign nature, everyone out there in the world (at least all the media consumers, which I guess is somewhere around 99% of the planet’s population?) will piece together new improved “realities”, increasing the chance for a collective survival, or at least drastic increase in standard of living, of our species. I believe mass-media offers a beautiful opportunity to change EVERYTHING. (Of course I realize that then someone else will have to fix whatever unplanned havoc we just created by replacing the current insanity with our new utopian ideals….)

Does your preference for analog techniques in your photography transfer over to your music and production work?

H3rwig Maurer: Not so much actually. I use a few analog synths (especially my SH101 can be found in pretty much every song I ever record), and obviously try to utilize good analog mic pre amps etc, but I think my way of recording and producing is hyper clean, I often get criticized for being too clean, many of my friends say: you need to dirty it up!” maybe that?s why I like to be so raw in my photography, to balance my OCD cleanliness I display when editing tracks in Pro Tools? Not sure.

What other visual artists do you find yourself drawn to?

H3rwig Maurer: Mostly friends and peers around me. People in my scene that come to mind are Geza X, Timothy Williams, Alexander Steindwendtner, and of course my recent co-conspirator James Mathers. An artist whom I don?t know personally, but who I have repeatedly come across and sticks out, in a very serene and inoffensive way, is Luc Leestemaker, a Dutch artist. I like Basquiat’s work quite a bit, whenever I see any of his pieces I connect with his revolutionary tone. Even though he is hopelessly over-hyped nowadays. I guess that?s what you get for being a dead artist. ;)

Do you have interest in making films with some of the same techniques? as your still photography?

H3rwig Maurer: Yes, been meaning to go there with 8mm film at least. So much to do, so little time!

If you could collaborate on a project, musical and/or visual, with Anyone in the world, who would it be?

H3rwig Maurer: David Lynch.

Why David Lynch?

H3rwig Maurer: I really respect his success in bringing truly abstract and artistic works to a relatively large audience. And his sensibility is just beautiful, it displays an intimate understanding of the human psyche & experience. Plus especially his focus on sound and music in his movies makes him very interesting to me.

What kind of stuff does a sound editor on a film do?

H3rwig Maurer: In sound editorial all the various elements audio elements are put created and put together, from dialogue to production sound, to post-production effects of any kind. I have been specializing in creating the “backgrounds”, the atmospheric elements that establish location, time of the day, mood. I find this to be the most creative aspect in this area of work, and I have been lucky to focus on that mostly when working on films.

Do you have a favorite project you worked as a sound editor on?

H3rwig Maurer: Apocalypto and The Passion of the Christ is a tie. Same movie essentially. ;) Despite all the controversy and bad press, I love both those films, and vast amounts of my sweat & tears went into them, definitely very emotionally attached.

Would you like to talk a bit about the NWR Deprogramming Division stuff — what it is, and how it works?

H3rwig Maurer: Its basically a sub-organization of the NWR, which has been created to distribute free information that I believe can help people make more out of their lives, become more empowered, take charge of themselves and find what it is that makes them fulfilled, what gives them purpose. Specifically, we are talking about ambient music pieces that contain guided meditations, hypnosis sessions, or subsonic frequencies that aid in meditation. We have some visual projects in the works too right now; the goal is to have a steady flow of new pieces that are distributed online. The Deprogramming Division is looking for active input and contribution from YOU and hopes to establish physical groups that meet in various areas of the country, to create a network of empowered healing sci-fi magicians, to aid their communities.

Do you have any other projects you’d like to mention?

H3rwig Maurer: PS/TA, the Psycho-Iridescent Space/Time agency. Our answer to NASA, bringing space/time travel to you right here right now, without any of the dinsaur-ish clunky metal machines. We have a great PS/TA coloring book for children, teaching the young ones all there is to know about the fascinating way our space/time continuum works. Since we are all already engaged in some sort of space/time travel, merely by living, we might as ell do it consciously and with best intentions!

Galactic History, collaboration with former government-psychic Stewart Swerdlow. You can download mp3s of it right now via snocap; James and our friend Jordan Albert are working on making a visual animation of Galactic History. We already have a whole batch of wonderful color drawings, James’ has utterly outdone himself, and we are very excited.

Another project out there is James’ Children’s Guide For Astral Projection, currently available in comic book format. I would love to present it as an animated Deprogramming Division piece or PS/TA project.

Oh yeah, James and I are working on a Deprogramming Division CD with booklet geared for Yoga studios and fans.


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