Testify - Bewildered, dazed and confused
Myk Jung and Sven Stone, vocalist and drummer from Testify respectively, discuss their failure, so far, to become the biggest band in the world.
German band Testify came about in 1993 as a side-project to the EBM band The Fair Sex. At the time, industrial music was reaching an unprecedented level of popularity, with Ministry and NIN getting heavy MTV rotation and bands like the Young Gods and KMFDM receiving more attention as a result. The scene was set for new European bands like Testify to actually have a chance at worldwide fame. As a result, Rascal Nikov and Myk Jung, who were in The Fair Sex, decided to focus fully on Testify, for the simple reason that Myk thought Testify were better than the older band.
At first, it seemed as if everything was going fine. With their first release, "01", they were dubbed the "next Ministry", leading to the Ministry associates Keith "Fluffy" Auerbach and Howie Beno mixing the follow-up, "Ballroom Killer". Their third, "Mmmyaooo", which was produced by Skrew, established Testify as a cohesive unit, banishing all remaining perceptions of the band as simply a side project.
However, despite the collaborations with a few big names, no-one could have failed to notice that their latest album, "Crack the Mind", hasn't exactly set the world alight. The band has learnt, to their displeasure, that the "next Ministry" accolade they held dear ranks alongside the "new Nirvana" and the "next U2" as the industrial world's own meaningless and overused cliché. Myk was very disappointed to discover that they were not the only band to be dubbed the "next Ministry".
"We thought nobody else would be compared in this way to Ministry. We thought we were the best 'Ministry' ever and never though of it as being dubious. We were so proud, but this is over now."
The revelation provoked a more extreme reaction from Sven, 'though one must presume he has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
"Myk, you always told us that we were celebrated as the new Ministry! You promised us fame and wealth! I ought to think about leaving this band."
Of course, their experiences are not unique. The popularity of industrial was quickly followed by a very steep decline. Even Ministry have failed to recapture the hype that surrounded "Psalm 69", despite two subsequent releases, and it remains to be seen if the same fate awaits NIN's new album. Myk is unsure of how much of a decline the scene in general is undergoing, and, for the most part, is unconcerned.
"If the industrial scene is already on the decline, I would regret it and wait for the revival in 15 years. More terrifying to me is that Testify seems to be on the decline."
Another problem facing them is the over-saturation of the market. In the past 6 years, hundreds of "next Ministrys" have emerged, all clamouring to be top of the heap. Testify face a level of competition unprecedented in the history of the genre. However, as Sven pointed out, the band's origins hold a potential advantage.
"Thru Myk and The Fair Sex, we have names reaching into the dark past where the market was not so overflowing with bands and names as nowadays. This may help. On the other hand, I haven't noticed this helping so far."
The glut of new bands, matched with the distinct lack of major label interest has led to a decline in production standards across the genre. The crisp, clean sound that typified the industrial explosion in the early 90s is now restricted to a relative few of the bigger names. Whether or not Testify should make an issue out of this is a bone of contention within the band.
"Myk, shall we be arrogant again? We could answer: This is not a bad thing! Testify will always keep the quality - and so we will be outstanding in the crowd of inferior stuff."
"This is no good! We will not say anything like this, we will not walk again the path of arrogance!"
The band does feel that coming from Germany puts them at a distinct disadvantage when trying to sell records in the States, one that's shared by most European Industrial bands. While they are signed to Van Richter, a US-based label with international distribution, they do not have the same clout as a band signed to a major-aligned label would have. While they do know that they have to move forward, Myk also sees the pitfalls of signing to a bigger label.
"To be on a big label may be grandiose - and it may be your disaster: forgotten and lost between many better-known groups. But, I would dare it again."
"Crack the Mind" proves that this may not be an idle hope, in that the band has managed to attract some big names to remix their tracks. It features remixes by Die Krupps and Die Warzau, 'though it also shows that sticking with Van Richter may be worth their while. Die Krupps they already knew from touring with them in '93/'94, but Sven points out that most of the contacts with the remixers, including label-mates Plastic Noise Experience, were handled by the label.
Testify intend to keep chipping away at their disadvantages in their plans to become famous. Myk already has plans and new material in his head.
"For the time being, I'm too bewildered and dazed and confused. I have to bring all the plans in due order to be able to know what the next step might be."
Sven jokingly explains where his problems come from:
"Perhaps you are so bewildered because of your drug problem and your growing age and the fact that, since May 1979, you have been drunk each day?"
"That may turn out to be the very foundation of our misery…"
Girl the Goth.