Los Angeles based metal band Society 1 has always been strange and unusual. While that may not seem that unheard of for a metal band, Society 1 has always managed to take it to that next level. LA Weekly once described the band’s lead singer Matt “the Lord” Zane as an embodiment of “Morrisonesque shamanics and Satanic self-determination.” Founded in the 1990’s by Zane, the band has just put out its 8th studio release A Collection of Lies which is currently available for download on itunes. The album harkens back to the days when metal was meant for angry, alienated people and not hipsters looking to impress their friends. It is definitely an injection of heart into a music scene that often seems cookie cutter now days.
Throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Society 1 began making their indelible mark on rock history in various ways. For instance, on March 11 2004, at LA’s Key Club, Zane became the first rock singer in history to perform live while “suspended.” For those unfamiliar with the term “suspended,” it means he had hooks pierced through the flesh of his back and then he was hoisted up in the air, supported only by those hooks. Society 1 released several albums including Exit Through Fear, the bands Earache Records debut in early 2003. In 2004 the band was banned in Milwaukie for Zane’s allegedly exposing himself on stage, in true Jim Morrison fashion.
The band took a break after 2006’s The Years of Spiritual Dissent released on Crash Music. Society 1 guitarist Sin Quirin went off to play with Ministry and Revolting Cocks, and Zane wrote a book entitled Transcendental Satanism. When asked about this period in Society 1’s history Zane had this to say: “I had stopped creating music and performing for various reasons, none of them good, and was basically spending my days practicing Yoga and trying to heal my body. “
Zane made the decision to get back into music one night after a vivid dream: “One night I had I dream I was walking away from a city and before I left the outer edge a friend of mine who passed away took me from the people that were trying to lead me away and said, ‘I need to take him now.’ We turned to walk back into the city only to find my arms were growing tired. I looked down and saw I was carrying numerous books with their pages blowing in the breeze. I saw the writing within the books and it seemed to be accounts of my experiences throughout life. As I walked I couldn’t hold them as they grew heavier and I began dropping them as I collapsed to my knees letting out a guttural scream of mental and spiritual agony. It was too overwhelming, I couldn’t continue and that’s when my friend picked up the fallen books and helped me continue forward. She looked at me and said ’we have to get you to the studio.’ I awoke and took that as a sign to return to writing and recording music again.”
As of late, Society 1 has made a triumphant return to the Los Angeles music scene, with guitarist Sin Quirin back in the fold. When asked what it was like returning to the music scene Zane said this: “ As far as returning to the scene it happened as if any new band were beginning to play to a certain extent. I began asking the younger bands around who the promoters were and the lead singer for Diminished 7, Alex Cresioni, helped put a Halloween show together with a local promotion called Hollowbody LA. We recorded some of the show and released it. It went well. Apparently people were expecting me to look like shit since at the time I was almost 40 but to everyone’s surprise I could still pull it off. From there we booked another and then another. Before you know it we performed more locally in LA than any other rock band. “
On Quirin’s return to the band Zane described it this way: “We were scheduled to do a show for a local legend named Skum Love who is also a rep for Schecter Guitars. It just so happened that it was close to Sin’s birthday so Skum decided to make it Sin’s night. I thought it would absurd if we played his birthday and he didn’t get up and jam on an old tune so I gave him a call. We did a song together and people loved it so we talked and decided we wanted to work together again. Unfortunately Sin became sick after that but thankfully recovered but then Ministry decided to do a world tour. Right now he is wrapped up with that and his DJ gigs but he is in the band will return for shows and recording in the future.”
Society 1 is now back to business as far as making music is concerned. While deciding what direction A Collection of Lies would go in, the band came back to ideas that it had not had a chance to explore before the break. As Zane put it: “A lot of it was ideas we had started to work on after The Sound That Ends Creation but were never fully realized. I figured why not begin where we left off and finish what we started before moving forward. It’s a great bridge to what we are recording and performing now. I like to see what I begin through until the end. I believe in the commitment and respect to the process. I’m very happy with the album. It’s definitely one of the most musical and song driven we’ve done.”
When asked what fans can expect as far as this album compared to their previous ones Zane responded: “There is less yelling. I’m just over it. There are a few on there, but the singing outweighs the yelling and that’s the first time we’ve tipped the scales in that direction.” This change is definitely evident in songs from the new album like “She’s Dead” where Zane’s vocals are a bit reminiscent of Alice Chains singer Lane Staley. Asked how he would categorize Society 1 musically Zane said, “We are a rock band these days plain and simple with a little industrial twist.”
According to Zane, a typical song writing session for Society 1 goes like this: “it starts mainly with a riff from anyone in the band and I’ll take it from there as far as lyrics/melody. Then I’ll bring it back to the band and everyone will add their energy to it. If I feel it needs more after it gets to the studio I may call in some friends for programming or may do it myself. Not a lot of jamming these days due to time restraints. Time is money as they say. Still try to keep it as organic as possible. Not into all the computers for music. Just give me a guitar and I’m ready to go.”
Known not only for his music, but his ability as a performance artist, especially in the world of suspension, one wonders if that will again play an important role in Society 1? Zane explains that they have not done any shows involving suspension since their return “…but we are in talks with The Download Festival to do a 10 year anniversary of our suspension show overseas in 2015.They say they are interested so we will see. Nothing is 100%, but if they say no we may do something in LA. Not sure yet. Definitely want to do it one more time.” Zane is referring the bands legendry performance at the Download Festival in Derbyshire, UK, in 2005. Zane upped the suspension ante by using 4 hooks inserted in his back (instead of the usual 6) to hoist himself 10 feet above the stage. Zane performed for an entire 30 minutes held in place by the hooks.
Zane has been known for being a pretty avid Satanist, he has been interviewed on the subject for various projects including the 2006 documentary Revelation 666, a half hour special that explored the significance of the numerical sequence “666.” When asked what role Satanism plays in Society 1’s music today Zane said this: “After I wrote my book on the subject I let it go. Don’t me wrong I agree with a lot that is within those pages, but as far as being labeled a Satanist I suppose I became frustrated being associated with a group of people I didn’t really have a lot in common with. The themes in my music may be dark now, but no overtly satanic themes are present anymore.”
As far as Matt Zane the author goes, it appears he is putting his focus on other projects as of late: “After Transcendental Satanism, I did release a poem book entitled Release And Demise. It’s available on lulu.com. it is some really dark material that was created in a semi consciousness state. You know that place right before you fall asleep and you’re in between both worlds? That’s were that book was written. It was actually recorded then later transcribed. After those two releases people really became in a way upset about me not creating something that talked about the obvious, porn and Society 1. Or I should say talking about all the debauchery. I didn’t want to write something blatant. Instead I wrote a book called Posts, but never released it. The book was life lessons with my personal stories intertwined, but after reading it I realized it just went too far and I would never be able to escape the negative stigma that would be attached to me due to the material. I may write more in the future but as of now my time is scarce.”
Some maybe familiar with Matt Zane the porno director, hence why many demand tales of his past debauchery. However, these days he also lends his talent to other forms of directing, being the true Renaissance man that he is. He currently makes music videos for other artists, as well as Society 1. He recently did a clip for the Society 1 song Lifeless, which can be found on You Tube. Zane had this to say in regards to how does making videos compares/differs as an art form from creating music: “It’s a thankless job. You get no credit even though you are the one creating what people see. Do you know anything about who directed Closer by NIN? Greatest video of the 90’s and no one could pick that guy out of a line up if you had a gun to your head. Trent Reznor wouldn’t have a clue how to create visuals like that yet people just give the artist all the recognition. In that way it’s very different but I enjoy it because to me it’s a challenge. I’m not a gifted director and it’s not something that is easy for me. With music I get on stage and you know that’s my thing. Directing is something I have to really work for and am constantly learning and being humbled.”
Society 1 will be performing a Halloween show October 29th at Skinny’s Lounge in North Hollywood. Fans can download A Collection of Lies on itunes or purchase a physical copy at:
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