Jon Chang has been redefining grindcore since 1992 with Discordance Axis, and continues to do so with his new band, Gridlink. Jon took a quick break from blasting out blisteringly fast hyper grind to tell M3 about illegal downloading and the destructive side of human nature…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Jon – My name is Jon Chang. I am the former singer of Discordance Axis and Hayaino Daisuki. Currently I sing for the band GridLink. I am also the lead designer at the indie game shop Echelon based in Queens NYC. and I double as creative lead at Haley Strategic, a weapons manipulation and tactics training company based in Montrose, Colorado. My first graphic novel, Black Powder \\ Red Earth, is currently being serialized and released at this time.
What inspired you to form Discordance Axis and Gridlink? What is your own musical background?
I was inspired by a lot of things ranging from heavy metal, thrash metal, grindcore and video game soundtracks to anime, video games and science fiction books.
My background as a musician is I am a failed guitarist (LOL) I could never get a handle on creating with the guitar so I got into singing. My favorite bands were the most intense so I tried to emulate them and eventually found my own voice. I also craft the lyrics and art that wrap all the bands releases.
Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
I think the Internet has driven the price of most creative media quickly down to zero. Most people find it easier to download whatever they want and give nothing back to the people who created it. This has forced creative people to look to alternate means to support their creative endeavors.
Very few touring bands can make money as touring bands. They are compelled to produce merchandising and develop their art into a business. Moving forward I think most artists will be forced to look at corporate sponsors (sneaker companies, soft drinks, car companies, liquor and beer) to support their art.
Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
I don’t believe the digital age has killed the record store, no more than it killed the book store or comic book store. People killed these things.
People are mercenary in trying to get the lowest price possible. They don’t care that they destroy the eco-system that serves as a local bedrock to an artform, they just want cheap. And the cheapest thing is free. So they take what they want until there is nothing left. It is typical of human beings to exploit things they want until they are destroyed. It’s depressing to see.
Artists and stores can choose to work with these trends or try to fight them. The ones that fight human nature tend to close. There are always exceptions of course, but the reality is the most successful artists/businesses recognize these trends and alter what they are doing to prosper in the face of these trends. It’s pretty calculated but that’s how the world is.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
I love vinyl but I no longer have a record player or the space for a full stereo so the reality is I listen to most music through earbuds on my iPhone. I think this is true of most people. I buy most of my music on MP4, unless the packaging is spectacular and I must have a physical copy or it simply isn’t available in a digital format.
The main reason? Space. As an adult with a family, I no longer have unlimited space for a record and CD collection haha! Ideally I would like to own the records or CDs and them dump them down to MP4 for daily use.
Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
It hasn’t for me. Then again, I am notoriously selective when it comes to these things. I won’t speak for the world, but if a record doesn’t hold my attenton from start to finish, it’s unlikely that a single will stick in my head very long. Of course, there are exceptions. Sex Machineguns’ “Aikoso Subete” is such a catchy single that I listened to that one track on repeat daily for over 3 months straight.
What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
You can’t fight human nature and win. Laws that attempt to do so are pissing in the wind. We as creative people must adapt or we will be shuttered.
Finally, what does the future hold for Gridlink?
Our focus is and remains creating new music. We work on new records slowly, ruthlessly trimming any song that is not giving us goosebumps, and continue until we are satisfied that we have something unique to offer.
We like to play only a few shows a year(if that) because those shows will have a lot of meaning to us personally and hopefully, those that attend.