Masters of noise Winters In Osaka have been melting brains with their deep feedback odysseys for many years now, and have collaborated with everyone from Brutal Truth to Bongripper. M3 spoke to WIO’s Adam Jennings about free records, the digital age’s effect on attention spans & making music without the use of instruments…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
WIO – Hello! My name is Adam Jennings. I make experimental music in the band Winters in Osaka, from Chicago. We have been around for close to ten years now. We have had numerous lineup changes in the past, but have now settled with a 7 piece lineup that also includes Mike Golen, Jim Haras, Dean Costello (Harpoon), and Nick Dellacroce (Bongripper), Mackenzi Chami, and Andy Lippoldt. We create music with droning amps, looped guitar riffs, drum machines, pitchshifted vocals, hammond organs, scrap metal, and tape loops. I continue to use my original setup, which consists of three, nearly broken tape decks, and a few analog delay pedals.
What inspired you to start Winters in Osaka? What are your own musical backgrounds?
The project started in the summer of 2002. I was 17, and was running a cassette label named My Lai Productions. I was releasing a lot of grindcore, and I was doing trades with people from around the world. Eventually, I started to get alot of noise tapes from Japan. At this time, I was influenced by Japanese grindcore like Unholy Grave and Gore Beyond Necropsy, and noise artists like Masonna, Guilty Connector, and Merzbow.
So, as you can see, the “Osaka” in the band name is a homage to the country that inspired me to start making music. The early WIO tapes were field recordings captured on a microcassette player, which was transferred over to a regular cassette deck that had dying batteries. Once the transfer was made, I was feeding it back into another tape deck, but slowed down.. I would continue doing this, about 30-40 times, then finally
using the last transfer as the master tape. I loved the Japanese noise music, but never used any pedals, or instruments other than a few tape players.
What was the reasoning behind making some of your recent releases, like the Mutual Collapse album, available for free download?
It should have happened a long time ago, I just finally got around to doing it. The Mutual Collapse CD was pressed in an edition of 200, and sold very quickly. Now, an edition of 200 is really big for us. We are all very proud of the album, and felt that more people should have the ability to listen to them. This goes for all our releases. We have uploaded a few songs from our new LPs, so people can hear what we sound like in 2012. Up until recently, the only site we had was a Myspace page, which only had clips from an old album, which did not properly represent what we were doing today. Bandcamp has been incredible, and we plan to upload many more tracks from long out of print albums, as well as make some songs available, that are exclusive to the website.
What benefits and/or disadvantages have arisen from this distribution method?
It’s all benefits to me, really. Our records are self released, or put out by other labels in small runs usually. This is unfair for those who didn’t have the chance to pick up a record in time, or for someone just interested in seeing what the talk is about. They might like us and start buying LPs and tapes, or they might think we are complete rubbish, at least we gave them the option to download it and try it out. I’m not upset about “losing money”… there is no money in noise.
On average, how many people would you say still pay for a release when given the option to download for free?
Hard to say really. I can’t speak for anyone else, but from my circle of friends who download music on a regular basis, they all continue to buy music regardless of downloading. I spend a lot of time downloading old grindcore 7 inches, or mixes etc..But,I also visit my local record stores about 5 times a week to pick up special orders, or browse through the new arrivals. However, I like to own the whole product. I wanna hold the artwork in my hand, read the lyrics and experience the whole album. There are some people who are content with a shitty MP3 rip of an album, and not have a clue as to what the art looks like, or what the bands looks like etc… That’s just crazy to me.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
I work a lot, and also go to school, so it feels like I am rarely home. But, on those glorious days off, I love to sit at home in front of the speakers, listening to vinyl. Nothing beats the experience for me. Now of course, cassettes play a huge part in my life and for the band, so I also love cassettes. CDs seem to have lost their charm over the years, with the vinyl resurgence, and I am guilty, like many other people, of selling my CD collection. I have repurchased everything on vinyl, except for the few grindcore discography CDs that are not yet available on vinyl, or burns of albums that I refuse to pay hundreds of dollars for. Now, I am constantly on the run, so most of my time is spent on public transportation, listening to music on my iPod.
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 have seen a few record stores close, yet I have seen some local record stores thrive, being constantly packed with people and always getting in great selections… However, yes I do not think these record stores and the industry in general is making as much money as it did in the 90s. However, there will always be collectors, whether a casual record buyer, or someone who wants to reach the status of John Peel, owning music will never completely go away.
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?
Totally. As I mentioned before, I am guilty of this too, I skip through tracks on my iPod constantly. Maybe the digital age has killed the ability for people to focus. Too much time tweeting, and checking Facebook notifications and text messages. Maybe listening to an album in its entirety is asking too much for those consumed by such a fast paced world.
Then again, when on a crowded bus, I wanna hear all killers, no fillers.
What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
Copyright laws are horribly outdated. The SOPA and ACTA acts are going to cause more headaches and sadly more people are going to get hit with “the law”, when in reality we should be questioning things like the “Mickey Mouse” Bill and how it sounds idiotic in 2012.
Finally, what does the future have in store for Winters in Osaka?
There is a lot in store! We just released a split LP with Fossils, and are in the process of reissuing our whole back catalog, in the form of 8-90 minute tapes. We are doing a split LP with Amps for Christ, which will also feature vocals from Eric Wood of Bastard Noise on our side. We are doing a collab LP with psych band-Plastic Crimewave Sound, and a collab with Japanese noise legend-Astro.