Born Backwards - 2001
Interview with S. Cinca

With their last album, And We Washed Our Weapons In Sea, Frodus unvieled their final manifesto, a cold glimpse into the future of society and music. Fortunately, The Conglomerate lives on in the form of the Archival Project, which is working on repairing and rereleasing the Frodus back catalogue. At the Macrock Festival, I managed to find Operative Shelby Cinca, former guitarist and singer of Frodus (currently playing with The Cassettes) . The conversation jumped between various topics, from Frodus' mission all the way to Refused and Shelby's opinions on socialism. He even let slip some top secret information on what the future may hold for the former operatives of Frodus

You want to introduce yourself?
Shelby Cinca, guitarist for the Cassettes. And Vocals.

What was Frodus' mission in life and what is it in death?
There's many missions of Frodus but I think in the lyrics it was pretty clear the mission was kind of like expanding more on the slogans that we toyed around with. It was like 'Delete False Culture,' and just death and paranoia. The world we live in that is developing around us, it's almost like a science fiction cult, kind of like real cold, almost very robotic, drone-like reality. Just reminding people where it could go maybe.
And in death, just those things still living on, lyrically or almost as a school of thought, if you will. Now we just launched the Frodus SETI team, I don't know if you saw that on the website. So it still lives on, a lot of the things we talked about just on a different level.

Did any of that come from Nation of Ulysses? Like the 'band as something else' theme?
I guess maybe in a root sense of the theme but I wouldn't say any more Nation of Ulysses than Devo, you know? I mean Nation of Ulysses was a little more Dadaistic and kind of weird posturing where I feel like we where a little more straight forward. I guess as far as bands kind of having like a theme, yeah.

It's funny that people still argue whether Nation of Ulysses was real or not.
Hopefully people will argue about that with Frodus, but I think it was a little more clear what we were about.

What's the Cassettes' mission? What are your ideas behind it and where do you hope to take it?
The Cassettes it's more just to make soulful rock and roll songs. Not quite as lofty as a mission as Frodus but just kind of an outlet for more melodic songs that I've been writing over the years.

Where do you hope to go with it?
Just wherever, I've detached myself from the idea of a true goal. With my projects, I just like to create a situation and put it out there and it just has a life of it's own.

What do you consider to be 'False Culture'?
I guess, Fabricated Culture. In a lot of senses, like pop culture when someone creates a musician, like a Brittany Spears-type character. It's like a label and a business develops a musician and creates what that person is and all their songs so they sell millions of copies. There's no real soul behind it or anything, it's just like a piece of soap, you know? It's just a product. And because it's something that's really seen on a large-scale just because of advertising and the money put behind it, it becomes a part of culture in it's self, modern day culture.

How would someone delete it?
Just choosing what you accept and what you choose to listen to or take in, like material that you read, like news or you know music.

So by taking away your support from it, you destroy it?
Yeah, exactly.

Why do you think Explosions translated into a Frodus song so well?
I always felt like Frodus had a lot of the similar themes as Devo did. Kind of tongue-in-cheek

De-evolution through technology.
Yeah, and just kind of the whole corporate 'We are the Devo' squadron or whatever. It just made sense and it was kind of a more obscure song, it wasn't a single or anything. I thought that was kind of cool and it was a song that could be translated as a heavy guitar riff.

I heard you recorded it in a barn or something.
Oh, I recorded the bassist from The Cassettes, his other band, Dead Meadow, which Tolotta Records puts them out, which is Joe Lally's label, from Fugazi. And their second record we went up and recorded in a barn in Liberty, Indiana.

Did it sound good?
Yeah it was awesome. They were going for a real kind of Led Zepplin thing. So we got away and got into the vibe. A dog came in and hung out during the sessions, it was crazy.

Is this really the end for Frodus? You seem to be keeping this alive, pretty much.
Well, Frodus has three releases this year, our back catalogue and stuff. It's the end as far as a band that ever played live. Actually, secretly, Operative Jason Hamacher and I and another unknown operative that hasn't worked with us in the past, we're all conspiring on something new. It may be called The Black Sea.

The Black Sea?

What are the dates for all the upcoming Frodus and Cassettes releases?
The Cassettes release comes out in the Fall on Lovitt records. The new Frodus stuff is coming out spread throughout the rest of this year, in June is the live CD 'Radio-Activity' which contains 77 minutes of Frodus live Radio performances.Then next up is a double CD of out of print material, 7"s, and rarities. No title yet for the release. Then a re-release of the album 'f-letter' remixed and remastered.

If Rock and roll is war, who's side are you?
I'm on my own side.

A rogue operative?
I guess we're more of a guerilla force.

What happened with Bluebird?
Bluebird was just... Well, The Cassettes weren't really happening at the time and there wasn't much musically happening for me. They kind of asked me to play in the band. I was like 'I don't even know what to do,' I was a little creatively frustrated so I was like 'Ah, what the hell.' And I did it and it was cool and they're all friends of mine but it wasn't something where I could really put as much of my voice in it. I don't know, while I was doing it I just kind of realized it wasn't something I wanted to do. I mean I love those guys, they're all cool and stuff but it just didn't work out, wasn't feeling it.

What's The Mind Control?
It's my graphic design tendril.

Is it just you?
Currently me and whoever else I hire for certain jobs if the need arises.

What's with the paper rustling and phone ring at the beginning of Conglomerate International?
You can't figure that out?

It's just that the phone rings so much
At the end it does.

At the end too, it's a really annoying phone ring.
Well the guys trying to get his papers and the phone rings and he doesn't want to answer it. Then when he picks it up and it's the Frodus Conglomerate coming at him, he freakin' hangs up that phone and he's like, 'I gotta get out of here, where the hell are my keys?' and he's looking all around and then the phone rings again and his mind is just overcome. Then it kicks in.

And then what's the ending? Is he just gone and the phone keeps ringing?
Well, if you listen to that record it was the beginning. The record begins with the end of a story, kind of chapter two of a story lets say, but when the record ends you hear the ambient music and then the phone rings. So if you listen, the beginning is ambient music, the phone rings and someone's there to pick it up. The idea is that it loops around.

So is it calling somebody else?
I guess we were meaning it to be is like your phone is ringing. The phone just keeps on ringing. It's just like 'What's going on? Am I in it now?' Are you gonna pick up the phone? I didn't figure out a way to get actual phones to ring, to transmit the frequency so like your own phone would ring. But maybe if we reissue it and with cell-phone technology and things are different maybe it'll be a little more subversive in a real-world sense.

Like the lawnmower man?
You know, I don't even remember that movie.

It was pretty bad. But all the phones in the world ring at the same time at the end.
That's a beautiful thing.

What are your favorite movies and TV shows because science fiction seems to have a really big impact on your work?
I guess Logan's Run is one of my favorite movies and THX-1138 and Brazil.

Oh, I fucking love Brazil.
The Dark Crystal, I love that. What else do I like?

I just like Terry Gilliam movies in general.
City of Lost Children. As far as television shows, I don't even have a television so...

So you haven't seen the new Star Trek?
No I haven't, unfortunately, I love Star Trek though. I love Wrath of Khan. It's one of my favorites.

KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!! You remember that? Kirk he gets all crazy, that was awesome.

What was it like touring with Refused and could you tell they were about to self-destruct?
I could tell they were gonna self-destruct when we first started going on tour with them. There was a lot of clashing of egos and stuff, a little weird. It was cool, you know I like all those guys but definitely I felt like when we toured Europe for the first time in 97 with this band Nine from Sweden it was much more of a real vibe. They were just psyched to go there, we were psyched, it was more of this awesome comradery. But with Refused it was more fighting, it was weird. It didn't feel as much a fellowship as like when we toured with Nine. Because it was a little bit of a skewed relationship within the band when we were touring with them in 98 and more so when they came to the US. In fact, it was such a bad vibe when they came to the US, I was like, 'I hope they break up' cause it just sucked. It was so negative and when you travel with a bunch of people and they're just negative people it just it sucks, you know?

What do you think of their bands since then?
The (International) Noise Conspiracy?

And Text.
I think Text is genius, I really liked that, great musicianship going on with that. And I think International Noise is really cool as far as like a garage rock type thing that they're doing. However, I think I'm gonna They're friends of mine and I love them dearly, but I think just by singing a lot of their socialist things and in like selling five t-shirt designs is pretty pony, really.

And being on MTV2 24-hours a day?
I mean, I can understand that since they're trying to spread a message or whatever. I guess if you want to spread a message through a large mass of media, you want to work within the media and spread it. Kind of like a propaganda tactic or whatever. But the t-shirt thing, it's definitely extremely capitalist and any band could operate without selling shirts, I mean Fugazi's done it all along. They just said, 'this is our deal,' and they did it people believed it and are sticking with them. So I mean, in that sense, I guess it's a really minimal thing and I guess bands need to make money and they could argue that but I think it's not necessary. I don't know..

(an empty cardboard box comes flying across the room, and Shelby looks around for the culprit)
That was interesting. Oh, it's Brian, haha.

(Brian says over the megaphone, 'This interview is over!') Ohh! I'm being censored by Lovitt. I think the concept of Socialism is a cool thing but I don't think it'll work because in the end, humanity is flawed. It's so easy, when you put so much power in the government it's just like socialism is more government.

It's like Stalin.
Yeah exactly and I was born in Romania and it totally went awry there in Eastern Europe and stuff. I know why my parents fled Romania to come here. And I know my friend who does Day After Records in Czech Republic, he tells me how different it was with punk shows under Communism and Socialism. It just sucked. It's a lot of intelligent philosophizing what they're doing but I think in practice it'll work. I mean, there's never going to be a perfect system, it's just the way of human nature. It's so much easier to just have the bits of greed in your mind and just take the money. It's so much easier to do that. People become corrupted and twisted it's just a fact pretty much throughout history. I mean there will never be anything perfect and civilization and humanity will keep on going up and down and learning and figuring out what works and different things will come and go. I think there could be a form of ethical capitalism. I think now it's kind of like the Dark Ages, capitalism's so insane that we're just raping the land. There's more and more money on a such a big scale, like making a WalMart of the world. I think eventually people will look back and be like, 'Yeah, that was really insane that people even did that and that was a method of conducting business.' And that'll probably be the point where most of humanity are living on Mars because we terraformed it and there's a big whole in the ozone. If we last that long, I have no idea. That was a little long-winded, I'm sorry there.

They can do the Highlander 2 hole-in-the-ozone-shield-covering-thing and charge everybody for it.

What do you think of the current trend of underground bands going garage or classic rock?
I think it's pretty cool, I mean I like a lot of that stuff. So I don't know, it's just like anything, there's some cool stuff out there and it's a trend. It's something people have been always doing. Like I was always really into garage when I worked at a record store in like 94-95. I was a member of the Estrus Crust Club, they're a Bellingham, Washington label that's been putting out garage bands forever. I would subscribe to the Crust Club and get all these 7 inches and singles, I was totally into it. It's just like anything, things exist in the underground and it just comes around where that one genre is popular and it just keeps on cycling, you know?

What's with the getup?
I'm just kind of having a good time really.

Ok, I think that's it.
Right on. (Shelby then walked over to the Dischord Records table, stood two feet from them and used to his megaphone to ask, 'Do you take Republic Credits?')