SUN: It's all underground stuff that I do. It's not really commercial venues or anything. I've been doing rooms for the last four years, since the Rave scene started in San Francisco. What I did in those rooms was experimental collages of sounds. The first one I did--there was about ten thousand people--it was called Toon Town. The scene was extremely psychedelic, probably the most psychedelic thing that ever happened in San Francisco since the Sixties.
SECONDS: Psychedelic in the sence that everyone was on drugs or that it was "mind-expanding"?
SUN: Probably eighty-five to ninety percent of the people there were tripping on psychedelics. When I was a kid I grew up in Chicago and my father had this coffee house called The Witches Haven which was a speakeasy for the Beats that hung out there and a lot of the Black Panthers and Chicago Seven and all these radicals that were hanging out with my dad. It's like the same thing, only much more technological now, and more mind-altering.
SECONDS: It's expanded from just being confined to a coffee house ...
SUN: It was psychedelic back then, too, but it was different in the sense that the rock & roll industry had not developed. It was still fresh and people like Hendrix and The Doors were just beginning to be formulated. It hadn't become a marketable product. It was still a wild experience. I grew up in that and my father was a Satanist--he actually went on to become an atheist.... The Witches Haven was in Old Town, which is like Haight-Ashbury. Actually, it doesn't even exist anymore. When I grew up in this place, there was hundreds of thousands of people tripping their balls off in this area and it's been completely eradicated off the planet. It's weird--when I got into this scene in San Francisco some people actually remembered The Witches Haven. It was really strange because these people are in their fifties and I was just this little kid running around this place. It was kind of like the hangout for a lot of bizarre characters that would come out of the woodwork at three in the morning.
SECONDS: How did you go about recording Mystery School, ATOI's first CD?
SUN: Basically, we did that in my friend's house and just channeled it. There's no rehearsal, that's just what comes out. The spontaneity is what I'm into. I'm really influenced by Bill Nelson, Austin Osman Spare's automatic writing, and stuff like that is what I try to do with sound. Another things that I work a lot with is processing. I work my processors like instruments. Most people just reverb or echo effects as a little touch-up, but to me those are as much of an instrument as my keyboard. I'm very much into experimentation and that's what ambient music is--it's not really music, it's more of an experiment in sonic research. We consider ourselves librarians of sound. We're trying to inject a virus into the music industry and transform the entire music industry into something extremely mind-altering. In a way, you can say hallucinogenic drugs in the Sixties gave birth to processing technologies. The Echoplex and early delay units were the beginning of an evolution of technology that manipulates time and sound. In the future, I feel this technology is going to be used as drugs. It's what we're doing now. It's like having a laboratory where you can alter consciousness. You can alter the way people think because they're hearing sounds they've never heard in the history of worlds; they're hearing stuff that their ears have never witnessed.
SECONDS: But hasn't music always affected consciousness?
SUN: Yeah, absolutely. But now processing to me is like psychedelic instruments. As soon as you get into the world of processing everything becomes psychedelicized.
SECONDS: Maybe you can define what you mean by 'psychedelic music', because the average person is going to think it's the genre of Sixties' Acid-Rock.
SUN: It's music that blows your mind to infinity. It comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. It has no beginning and no end. It's like sound that comes through that's non-classifiable. It just exists and can't be labeled. If people really expanded on psychedelia and expanded their core self--like Neitzsche would say in The Superman--if you were channeling the Superman right now, what would that sound like? This is something that keeps people obsessed with their art, is that there's a pressure from within that's driving them to channel this thing that will give people the inspiration to activate their own art.
SECONDS: You felt rock & roll becoming an industry is what destroyed its power to affect things. Wouldn't that happen with any form of music?
SUN: If they smell money to be made, these guys have their scientists and psychologists studying the trends--and believe me, they're all over the Rave scene trying to see if they can make money on it. If there's a particular point I'm trying to make it's that the industry is run by people who are not just in it for the money but they're in it to prevent certain things from coming out. I do believe there are some definite conspiratorial situations going on behind the scenes. They want to prevent the real shit from getting too popular. It's very hard to describe.
SECONDS: Why would they want to prevent something genuine coming through if they'd profit from it?
SUN: Well, the thing is ... that's a good question ... It's like, if there's this particular music that would be labeled anti-Semitic then they will work to suppress certain things if they get out of control. I don't think you or I or anybody is at the level of power that these people are at. And this isn't even the music industry; I'm talking about politics and the world banking system of the New World Order.
SECONDS: What's the tangible effect of this kind of conspiracy?
SUN: Instead of encouraging revolutionary thought it drains it out. I think that's true now. People in rock & roll want to dis the Rave scene as some kind of disco trip--and let me say right here, right now: this is no Disco. This is some of the hardest shit I've experienced in my life, and I've been in rock music since I was ten years old. I had a cover band; we did Kiss songs, and Queen, and Mott The Hoople, and all this shit. The Rave scene is the future. People are tired of paying twenty bucks to watch somebody play and then go home. They want to stay all night until the sun comes up, and that's what happens in this scene--it's all night and all ages. They're trying very hard to suppress this with the Criminal Justice Bill in England. The Rave scene in England is so huge. They estimate half a million people are raving on a weekend in England. That's a serious threat to the government. The government realizes this thing is so huge and the power in that music is so strong. It gets people trancing and dancing for ten to twelve hours on psychedelics. That's the kind of excitement that was going on in the Sixties. The government tried as hard as they could to suppress that kind of radical thinking.
SECONDS: What I wonder is what's particularly revolutionary about ten thousand people taking drugs and dancing for fifteen hours? In what was are they a threat to the government?
SUN: Not all these people are doing drugs. The whole thing doesn't revolve around drugs, but for sure there's a lot of people doing mind-altering substances. If not that, there's a lot of pot being smoked.
SECONDS: The people I've known who do that--my impression of them is that they do absolutely nothing. I'm not saying just pot specifically, but I think pot is a drug that has a pacifying effect on people.
SUN: I would say that, too, that if anyone thinks pot is not addictive they're full of shit. Maybe it's not physiologically addictive, but psychologically it's totally addictive. It gives you the illusion that everything's okay, and everything's not okay. Everything's really fucked up.
SECONDS: So why would it be good that there are unprecendented numbers of people smoking pot?
SUN: I'm not saying that's good or bad; it's just a phenomenon I'm witnessing. To be honest with you, I outgrew that phase when I was a teenager. I did massive quantities of all these things ... I don't need drugs to get me high. I'm not into the Hippie thing. If you can't get yourself high--if you need something to get high--then you're really fucked. Being fucked in this society is common. People are really fucked up; they need something to get high. They need their whiskey, their pot--but then there's the flipside, which is Shamanism. Shamanic use of power plants to get visions is a whole other thing. In this culture, we're very weak on Shamanistic use of power plants. Down in the Amazon, if the warriors didn't have DMT they would not survive; they would never be able to adapt to the forest. Native American people as well--their visionary Peyote. Same thing in Mexico--the San Pedro cactus and psilocybin mushrooms. Native peoples throughout the world are into medicine plants for healing, enlightenment, and spiritual purposes. You can look at their art and their strength and you can see behind it there's an elder who knows how to initiate the younger people.
SECONDS: Is that knowledge equally applicable to everyone?
SECONDS: It seems to me that magick is, by its very nature, elitist. Part of it is furthering your own agenda and really not caring what everyone else is doing.
SUN: Well, a big word that comes up in LaVey's doctrine is "pretentious". I do not want to sound like I know anything. I could talk for ten months about all the different levels of garbage I've gotten myself into. It all sums up as sounding pretentious, like I really know something. The bottom line is this: I know that I have a responsibility to myself. My intention is realized in the music that I'm doing. I'm intending to put something out that's going to make people think. People can dissect it or make it seem like I'm trying to be pretentious, but I know what I'm trying to do. I'm going uphill all the way here. Everybody wants to hear the straight rock & roll, 4/4 guitar, bass, and drums, with somebody screaming in your face. I've done that. It's no longer interesting to me. I want to do something different. I think I'm doing my true will. The word that comes to mind is 'virus'. There's negative viruses and there's positive viruses. I think the ambient thing is a positive virus. It's going to make people in the music industry think. I'm interested in reaching musicians. I would like to see them do stuff that blows my mind. I outgrew the music industry when I was twenty years old. I was in music, when I was a kid, to make money. I was the only thing I could do to survive. I either had to create my own gang or get shot up in the other gangs. That's what it was for me, the only way to survive in Chicago--you have to have your family. That's what we did. We had this little gang; we were in some serious shit in there. I remember once in Chinatown we were playing in this Chinese Cultural Center and there was a serious riot. We're still blaring away on stage and there's people with baseball bats. There I am, fourteen years old, we're playing Kiss songs, stoned out of our fucking minds ...
SECONDS: What sparked the riot?
SUN: The Italians came into the Chinese neighborhood. My best friend was Chinese, this guy from China, Peter Lau. These Italian guys came in to start a fight. This was my childhood, this is what I grew up doing--these free concerts in churches and cultural centers throughout Chicago. It was a wild scene. I'm not a fuckin' wimp, but if you don't carry a gun and you're dealing with people who are carrying guns ...
SECONDS: ... you're an idiot.
SUN: You have a choice: Do you want die or do you want to live? See, my guitar was my gun. This is where it gets really political. Am I a pussy because I don't want to be stockpiling arms? I've got friends who do stockpile arms and they're ready for whatever the fuck comes down the tube. I want to do art, man. I want to make music.
SECONDS: But you obviously have no problem with carrying weapons.
SUN: I don't know, there's all kinds of problems I deal with. Chicago is a brutal place. Chicago is a mean, ugly, cold place. I've witnessed shit, gang warfare, and it's pointless. These people are not aware. My outlet was music. In the Nineties, I think people are realizing that getting signed to a major label and getting a big budget is the only way you can survive. It probably sounds to you that there's a lot of chaos in what I speak, because I am in a state of chaos and I have been since I was born. My mom was a prostitute. She worked in the red light district in Chicago on Rush Street. I remember when I was a kid and I'd go to these places that she'd work and they'd have full-blown orgies on stage. They don't have that anymore.
SECONDS: Pornography was far more extreme in the Seventies than it is now.
SUN: Now it's all on video so people don't go out. It's in their house. What's happening now is people are getting more isolated. People are getting alienated to the point where they don't know how to relate to other people anymore.... I think half the people out there would commit suicide if it would be painless. If you set up a painless vacuum they'd just walk right into it. This is where it gets very metaphysical. Who's really in control here? Is it the aliens? Is it the Masons? Is it George Bush and the Knights Templar? Is Reagan a 32nd degree Mason who killed Kennedy because he wasn't a Mason? Who's in control? Is George Petros a CIA agent? It's a real question.
SECONDS: Or is anyone in control?
SUN: I'm not saying I have anything figured out. I don't claim to have all the answers. I think I have a couple, though.... I think where humanity goes from here is a serious thing. My own personal philosophy is that China is the key to the revolution. People keep babbling that Communism is over, the Wall is down in Germany, but they don't even talk about China. The karma of the Tibetan magical systems--it was a tribal culture that, when it was destroyed at the beginning of the Sixties, all this knowledge of Tibet is now accessible to the Western mind, but before 1959 nobody knew jack shit about Tibet.
Interview by Michael Moynihan for Seconds Magazine (#34)
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