Scientific Superstar Creator Paul Gallant Interviewed
Paul has always been an experimental creative person. In his early tweens he began exploring different talents and interests until he discovered playing the guitar. Many musicians stop there, but as he mastered one instrument, it was not long before others followed. Then different styles, and then digital sound, recording techniques, etc. You get the idea.
Fast forward to years later. Always a storyteller, he began thinking about an autobiographical approach that he could embrace and made sense for who he was as a creator. Rather than a traditional written story, he crafted the initial chapter as a script to be adapted into comic form. He felt a visual story would tell better with the music he was creating. He asked me to craft the first chapter and away we went.
The following is a brief interview with Paul:
Since we’re brothers, I’m going to skip over basic questions go right to some specifics about music and the music/comic combo you put out as Scientific Superstar.
We moved to the South (of the US) and specifically Raleigh, North Carolina at a pretty early age. So you essentially grew up here. But I would not say your musical growth was specifically related to this area, except the influence of the people you met here. While I probably pre-dated you by a little on discovering Punk, your tastes were somewhat different from my persistent loud grinding hardcore and metal style tastes of that time (Ok I haven’t changed). Could you talk about those bands that you really enjoyed as a teen and were even influenced by?
Well way early on I listened to mostly commercial crap until you got me into punk/hardcore of the early 80’s. I also picked up some metal from you. One of the most famous Daniel Gallant quotes from that time was “You are not ready for Slayer yet.”
Looking at the bands you created (co-created) in the early days, you all were very funky even before bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers popularized it. Locally you were in stark contrast to the waning hardcore scene at the time. What led you and the band down this unusual path? How did local fans respond to you all?
A bit after I started exploring beyond punk I started getting in to early Peter Gabriel and Gary Numan. On the quirky side I discovered They Might Be Giants and Tom Lehrer. The first version of my first band My Kat Randi was actually a drum machine, accordion and guitars. There was no funk to be found. The funk part of My Kat Randi didn’t last too long after I discovered bands like the Boredoms and John Zorn’s Naked City.
Once you started doing solo projects and duos you quickly began experimenting more and more with digital sound and electronica and continued to mix in traditional instruments. You’ve always listened to a fair amount of experimental music so I can see a natural evolution. As you continue down this path how do you develop your samples and how has that changed over time?
When I first started sampling I had an 8 bit sampler hooked up to my Amiga 2000. This was a revolution for me at the time. I was like “wow” I can sample any sound anywhere and bring it into my songs and arrange them with software called a sample tracker. This was also a popular way to write music for video games at the time but it was really fantastic for experimental stuff.
Getting to the music comic combo Scientific Superstar. You’ve read your share of comics, but I would not call you a dedicated fan. How did you come up with the idea?
Yea, I’ve always been sort of a “part time” comic book guy. I was only into very specific stuff and was never really a collector. I had an idea for a story that followed some of my early 20’s antics. Music was everything for me back then so I felt like it should have an accompanying sound track.
It is clear that in the story you are drawing from your personal experiences as a young adult. You are telling a very “day in the life” story, so it is hard to tell where you were heading with the story. Can you expand on it a bit beyond the first chapter?
I already wrote the second issue of the comic. It tries to develop the characters a bit more and is focused on a location called “The scrap yard house.” This was a real house in Atlanta that was so ridiculous that it could be it’s own comic.
You were telling a really engaging tale there. Since life kind of forced me to bow out from illustrating it after the first chapter, you initially asked Brian Walsby to continue, then that sadly evaporated. Can you talk about how that played out and if you have plans to continue the story at some point?
I would like to do the second issue but finding someone to draw it is a huge barrier. I’m offering pay for anyone who would like to pick up the task. Maybe someone reading this will contact me?
You’ve been nice enough to have 5 tracks for folks to listen to off of the album. Would you like to say a few things about the band and the album?
The songs included with this issue are all written and performed by me. Two of the tracks are an attempt at a “Theme song” And the others are experiments in trying to capture the mood of the scene.
Lastly, your new project Kattalax (original name withheld upon request) with Wayne Leechford has had more success getting local radio play and has a higher level of polish than most of your projects (in no small part thanks to Greg Elkins and his recording studio Pershing Hill Sound). Would you like to say a few things about your collaboration with Wayne and your approach with the band?
This is Wayne and I’s attempt to write music in a genre neither of us have really explored. I’ve always dabbled in electronics but never made it the actual focus of the band. The vocal and lyric writing process is very different then what I’m used to so that is kind of the point. Wayne has been enjoying implementing real instruments into the electronics as well.