Jim Kaufman - Opiate For The Masses

March 18, 2005

Photo Credit: www.thegauntlet.com

Tell me a little bit about your band.

We're from Phoenix, AZ. We started about six years ago. We are an electronic, hardcore rock band. We love playing music.

Your music is reminiscent of Tool, Ministry, and Marilyn Manson. Are these big influences on you?

Oh yeah, definitely those three bands are huge influences but we have definitely a wider range of influences than that. Definitely Pink Floyd has been a huge influence on us. Some of the guys listen to anything from David Bowie to Cannibal Corpse.

That's definitely a wide array of bands. You guys are releasing an album called The Spore.

Yeah, on April 26.

Tell me a little about the new record.

The Spore is a full album. We're really proud of it. The first song on the record is called "Introduction" and the last song is called "The End". It's an autobiography if you will about each member in the band and what we've gone through to get to the point of recording that record. Hopefully it relates and I'm sure it does. A lot of people that have heard it said it relates to their lives as well. It's like a story but it's a very heavy, very emotional record. It takes the listener on a journey and really covers all musical landscapes and all emotional environments. We're really happy with it.

When you say it's an autobiography of what brought you guys to this point, in what way? Have you guys had a rather difficult journey?

I think everyone's journey is equally difficult. We haven't had a hard time. We've been having a great time. It's been awesome but it just tells the story of, for me, being born and dealing with growing up and realizing that you're not like everyone else. You have this passion for art and that you're not going to let anything come in between you and that passion. There are some songs that talk about conformity and there was a time in our lives where we had to question "should I be playing football? Is that what I want to do? Do I need to go to college? Should I continue playing music because that's what I love." It's about doubt. It's about reassurance. It's about just being. It's about life. It's about the cycle of life I guess you could say.

People should pursue things they want to pursue instead of doing things they think others expect them to.

Yeah, that's always been the band's motto. To try to get people to think for themselves and listen to what they want to listen to. Not what's being shoved in their faces. Wear what they want to wear. Not what is popular at the time. Just be what you want to be. Everyone in the band has done that and stayed true to ourselves. I think that's important.

We live in a day and age where people get their opinions from whatever talk show host they watch on TV. They don't read up on things and form their own views and opinions.


You guys were on the Vans Warped Tour.

Yeah, last year.

You've also had the opportunity to tour with Ministry and Orgy.

Yeah, and Avenged Sevenfold and The Bled. We had a great time last year. We did some amazing tours. We learned a lot from being around those guys who have been the people that we've looked up to for pretty much our entire lives. I've been a Ministry fan so it was really great for us to work with those guys.

That band is incredible.

They're even better now than they ever have been. They're just on fire. Al really pulled it together and really did a great tour. Just being on the road with a guitar player like Mikey Scaccia and having him available. We were hanging out at night. He'd come on the bus and we'd jam because I had my Pro-Tools rig in the back lounge of the bus. He'd come in and we'd demo songs together. Just sitting there with a guitarist that I totally respect and we're hanging out at night after a gig and we're writing songs together. It blew my mind. It was really awesome.

I thought it was really cool to see Al kick his drug habit, get married, and really pull his life together like he did.

Yeah, he has a great wife. She's awesome. It's great that he's sober and that he's making great records. I think he's made the best record in my opinion that he's made ever. I think that "No 'W." is fucking awesome.

I think so too. You guys are getting radio airplay for your song "Up To Me". How are people receiving that song? Do they like it pretty much?

Yeah, we've gotten some really great feedback about the song. It's been taken very well. We're just trying to get the rest of the album out there and let everyone else hear the rest of the songs. There are 14 tracks on the album and that's just one piece. It's definitely gone over well but I just can't wait for the album to get out.

The album is coming out on your own label.

Yeah, American Voodoo Records. We're working with WARCON. They're distributing it. We're excited.

What led you to start your own record label?

That's a good question. Opiate has showcased for every label there is numerous times. We've been in negotiations with a few different labels from time to time and we were never able to...I think that we attached too much weight to signing a major deal when we were growing up. Because we've been doing it ourselves for so long and we've been able to tour and we have great management and we have a great team of people surrounding us, we just decided that it would be great to do it ourselves. I'm very interested in the different aspects of music. I love having a label. I love being able to sign bands and help them get somewhere that they can't get without that sort of catalyst. I didn't know that I would sign the band when I started the label. I just wanted to start a label and we ended up signing the band which is a weird thing but it was great. We love it. It lets us be in control of at least the creative side. No one really can tell us what songs to record or what producers to work with. We have the say that way and that's something that's always been really important to us. Being able to maintain creative control.

It goes back to people pushing stuff in your face.

Right, we don't want to be molded. We don't want to do something that we're not. I know this is a great opportunity for us to maintain that control.

You guys are in the midst of the Taste Of Chaos tour. That started February 18 and will end on April 2. How has the tour been going so far?

It's been great. It's amazing to be out on the road with those bands and just being along with Kevin Lyman. Seeing how a professional tour is run like that. It's been awesome for us.

You're out on the road with Killswitch Engage, My Chemical Romance, and Senses Fail.

The Used. My Chemical Romance, we've toured together before. Most of these bands we've never toured with or it was something like the Warped Tour where there are so many bands we couldn't really get personal with them. All the bands on this tour are such nice guys and it's definitely a family. We're having a great time.

I guess the attendance is pretty heavy too.

Yeah, they're selling tons of tickets and the kids are loving it. Kevin's really put a great thing together. He's really doing something important for the fans.

Absolutely because that's a good variety of bands. There's something for everybody.


When you guys get off the Taste Of Chaos tour, what's up next?

I think we have a week or two off and then we're doing a big headlining Phoenix show which is our CD release party out here. There's potentially an L.A. CD release show but that's not confirmed yet. We're playing the Marquee Theatre in Phoenix on the 15th of April and then we're out with Eighteen Visions starting April 27th through May 18th and that's going to be mostly a Canadian and North American tour. I think most of the shows are in Canada.

Sounds like a pretty heavy schedule.

Yeah, we're pretty much booked for the rest of the year which is great.

You have a video playing on MTV's Headbanger's Ball called "Heaven".

Yeah, that's a song actually that's a remix that a great friend who is an amazing producer, Charlie Clouser, did for us. It was actually off our last record although the remix thing is on the new record. "Heaven" is available on The Spore but it was something off our last EP which didn't have national distribution. We made the video ourselves and it's awesome. It's crazy. We never thought that that video would make MTV but it's great it did. We're shooting a video as well in between these tours for "Up To Me" which should be amazing. We have a great concept in it. It's going to be totally cool.

Can you tell us a bit about what it will be like?

It's very dark. The song is about being at the total bottom and feeling that there's really not much left. Having the only person that you feel a connection to just walk out and leave you there by yourself but then realizing that without that, you wouldn't have been able to pull yourself together. The video is going to show all the depths of how low I guess I was when I wrote that song. It's about being inspired through anything. Even the most fucked up shit should inspire you and should make you a better person. The video is just very dark. There's some live footage and then there's this whole concept thing. I can't really explain it. It's pretty cool. I think everyone will like it.

I imagine. I think when things get really fucked up, you're either going to sink or swim.

Yeah, pretty true.

Any other thoughts or comments?

We did a new website, www.opiateforthemasses.com, and it's really cool. We just got it up a couple of weeks ago so we got that going on. It's awesome. Things are great.

Opiate For The Masses