It’s been 20 years since the world has seen or heard from ‘90s industrial headbangers Circle of Dust. Its creator Klayton was forced to move on after label shutdowns, leaving the project to age in the unreachable vault for years. Klayton’s spent the past couple decades creating multi-faceted bands with sounds scraped from the toxic barrels of sci-fi industrial waste with evolving musical imagery, in Circle’s wake, taking a more instrumentally diverse unconventional route with Celldweller. In the early ‘90s without experience, he was accepted into the Christian scene with Argyle Park but was deemed too dark for the secular light. Regarded by many fans as a genre pioneer, he’s melded industrial atmospheres with electro-rock and cyber metal with the relentlessness pursuit of a T-1000 on a mission. It is a musical scope fueled by a steadfast love of horror and science fiction with a seemingly endless creative thirst for progressive musical exploration.
After a prolonged search Klayton has finally obtained the rights to the Circle of Dust catalog including Argyle Park’s solo release Misguided, giving old-school fans reason for celebrate. Argyle Park was an odd fit for the Christian scene but being early in his career at the time, he was just happy to be making music. He’s released new tracks Contagion and Neophyte from the upcoming (untitled) record due in December. To update Circle’s sound and production he’s remastered each record with modern day cyber shine, stinging like Alien dripped acid on steel with a heavy industrial bite. The re-mastered versions include Circle of Dust (now available), Brainchild, Metamorphosis and Disengage, each will be loaded with bonus material and released eight weeks apart on his FiXT label. The modernized versions are his ultimate vindication from that period coming full circle “I never had the chance to re-release these albums because I didn’t own them,” Klayton says. “They’re being re-released by me because it’s the first time in 25 years that I’ve owned the masters and finally have the rights to my music.”Klayton thinks fans will be excited about the extra material, updating. “[There’s] about an hour per disk right now, so I’m looking at over the course of five releases, there’s six hours of bonus content. Unreleased demos, unreleased versions, B-sides, for die-hard fans, they’ll love it.” With seven new songs finished for the upcoming record he has a good idea of what the end product will be. Contagion voices the mechanical mouth of the machine assembled with Fear Factory-like cyber thrash and Ministry circulatory injected attitude, while Neophyte dances to a more electronic gothic atmospheric edge.
Learned results from bad deals, bad experiences and years of barely surviving with little to no control over the product have taught him to be a better, smarter business person. Klayton will release all future musical projects through his FiXT label, born from a DIY philosophy. “If I do this myself, even though I don’t know how to, I’ll figure it out. At least I know I won’t screw myself over. So I created this.” He learned the tools of the trade on his own and hopes to sign other artists who will benefit from his knowledge. “I’m doing all this work for me, I can bring other artists along and have them benefit from all the hard work I’m doing.”
A studio obsessed multi-media business entrepreneur, he’s a workaholic by nature and choice with hands and fists in other projects including Scandroid, movie/video game music, and a clothing line among other ventures. “I don’t find myself being bored very often.” The studio is his sanctuary of sound and his favorite place to be. While touring is part of the game, creating music is his daily vacation. As far as the lighted stage goes, there will unfortunately probably never be a full blown Circle of Dust tour as he faces enough challenges with current band Celldweller, though there might be a chance he’ll throw in a Circle song or two in the set.
Considered an industrial pioneer by many for his expansive influence he takes it as a compliment, “I’m thankful people view me in that light, that’s great,” he says. “I don’t really analyze what I do as far as I’m gonna pioneer this movement or be instrumental in creating this sound, I keep music in my head and keep messing around with instruments until I get it to come out. I’m not on a mission to create genres, I’m thankful people include me as part of the creation of that sound.” Creating music is his perpetual process, if it’s in his head, he’ll do it. “That’s the beauty of being on your own label, calling your own shots you can do whatever you want.” He remembers the role-given days when he was signed to labels, saying “you can’t do this or we don’t like this song or change that”. He’s thankful for experiencing the bad situations to get to this point. He may have naively signed deals back in the day, fueled by the desperate burning desire to make music at any cost, with no money and all the drama and baggage attached but if he hadn’t there would have been no other choice but to give up and get a regular job. He’s been able to clear his own path since, creating a personal eco-system that supports his career allowing for total creative freedom. “I can do whatever I want, when I want,” he says. “I’ll never say I’ll never do something. I also know ‘never say never’ because I said never before and I said I’d never talk about Circle of Dust again, that part of my life was done and I finally bought the masters back and that’s all I’m talking about right now.” He loves musical exploration but doesn’t like traditional genres. “For me genres are very limiting, I never really understood them or cared about them.” He loves a challenge and is always hunting for new sounds and ideas.
Current band Celldweller is a much more developed project than Circle of Dust was; however the re-mastered Circle disks sound a lot better than they originally did. In the beginning with no formal training or education he didn’t know how to properly produce, and there was no how-to YouTube videos back then. “I had to use my ears and a very limited amount of gear to make the albums,” he says. Sound wise Disengage might be the best representation he’d send new Circle of Dust fans to with pointed fingers toward the new tracks. He’d send new fans to Celldweller’s End of an Empire as his modern, current sound.
His first musical epiphany as a kid came from grandpa’s radio introducing him to Mr. Roboto’s vocoder created voice. His first thoughts were, “What is that?” and “How do you make that sound?” Early influences included prog, new wave, with a heavy entrenchment of Slayer, Metallica, Sepultura, Exodus, Sodom and Trouble. Playing in a few bands early on gave him guidance but discovering Skinny Puppy and Front 242 inspired him to become a self-taught multi-instrumentalist. The day he got a keyboard with synthesizer he became a one man band. Since day one his love of horror and sci-fi has bled their way into his music. An avid Blade Runner and Alien fan with a soft spot for Outland, as a youth he loved immersing himself in other planetary worlds. Being a big Star Wars fan, having watched The Force Awakens multiple times he’s happy it was Jar Jar free. He also has his theories about who Negan’s victim was and that characters fate among The Walking Dead. The good and the bad have gotten him to where he is today. When it came to making music for the first time he paid the price going through massive debt with no money, barely surviving by touring. His memories of recording in his parent’s basement, a secluded starving artist gave him his current band moniker. He’s now fully living his dream, no day job needed. His music is his lifeblood, “That’s what I was put on earth to do.”
Klayton retells one Spinal Tap road moment about a show in Denver during the opening song. He laughs off the experience as mortifying if they’d realized what was happening, in the moment. After breaking into the first song, the tour manager screamed, “There’s no sound!” Someone had turned off the volume mixer and a jammed packed house heard nothing, unbeknownst to the band. Fans thought it was an intentional pantomime and the kicker came after the show when fans said they loved the opening comedy routine.
As far as calling it quits someday Klayton never envisions retirement. “When you work for yourself you don’t work a day in your life,” he says. “You’re doing it because you love it, it’s your passion. I love to work. When they take my body to the morgue and lower me in the ground, that’s the time I’ll have to quit. I don’t see myself slowing down.”