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Interview with Colin Marston of

Byla and Infidel?/Castro!

Left to Right: Marston, Zeleny, Lerner.

Colin Marston, is currently in Behold...The Arctopus, Dysrythmia, Infidel?/Castro and Byla. He also runs a studio called PAINcave Studio. He plays assorted instruments, as well as a Warr guitar (a 12-stringed tap guitar!) and a 6 string bass. Behold...The Arctopus is a three-piece, and is the craziest technical band I have heard for quite some time.

1. How many bands are you in and what are their names and genres?

Colin: Behold… The Arctopus (Warr guitar) – instrumental metal

Dysrhythmia (bass) – instrumental rock

Infidel? / Castro! (various instruments) – experimental electro/acoustic rock/ambient/noise

Byla (guitar) – ambient

I also have a solo death metal project that I've been working on off and on for the past few years.

2. What is your setup in Dysrhythmia? Behold...The Arctopus? How long have you been playing? How long did it take to master the Warr guitar? What model do you have and what is the tuning on one of those?

Colin: In Dysrhythmia I play an Ibanez btb 6-string bass with a pick into a Hartke 3500 head with an Eden 410 xlt cabinet and a Roland JC-120 guitar combo. I play a 12-sting Raptor Warr Guitar (which has been discontinued) in Behold… the Arctopus into the same amps plus an extra Crate 2x12 combo. I also use various distortion and delay pedals in both bands. I've been playing the Warr for about 8 years (and am by no means a master on it!). I use "standard" 6x6 12-string tuning


1. D

2. A down a 4th

3. E down a 4th

4. B down a 4th

5. F# down a 4th

6. C# down a 4th


7. C

8. G up a 5th

9. D up a 5th

10. A up a 5th

11. E up a 5th (unison with 3rd)

12. B up a 5th

3. Did you study theory anywhere?

Colin: I studied music theory in high school and again in college, but it was not my focus. I went to study recording primarily..

4. How do you go about the writing process for Behold...The Arctopus songs? How do you record (and with what programs)? Have any tablature?

Colin: The writing process has varied. The songs on "Arctopocalypse Now…" were written collectively by Mike (guitar) and myself before Charlie (drums) was in the band. This includes most of the drum ideas since we actually recorded those two songs with drum machine before he joined. The 3 songs on "Nano-Nucleonic…" were written with Charlie in the band and he contributed drum parts to all those songs. I wrote all the Warr and guitar parts on "Estrogen/Pathogen Exchange Program" and most of "Sensory Amusia." "Exospacial…" was probably the most collaborative song. Since then, Charlie wrote a song, "Transient Exhuberence," with parts for everyone, although we edited and changed much of it as a band. I've also written two songs with parts for everyone, "PAINcave" and an untitled one.

The songs written by one member were all scored out on paper and learned by the band. The first couple songs only had a few notated parts, the majority being written on the instrument and never written down.

The trend has definitely been going more towards writing everything out. I like it that way because you can get extremely detailed and particular with the music. I tend less toward writing repeating riffs and more toward writing melodies and organically flowing lines when I score it out. I also have a much easier time composing the guitar and drum parts if I can see everything in front of me. I score everything in a computer notation program which will instantly play back my ideas, which is great because I can instantly hear the way various parts are working together.

Most songs are written pretty instinctually, but I've made a concerted effort to employ theme-and-variation into the new material rather than loopy, riff-based ideas. "Estrogen/Pathogen Exchange Program" is particularly mindful of that concept since it was written using Schoenberg's 12-tone compositional technique.

The two recordings we have out right now were both recorded the same way: the drums were tracked to analog 2" tape and the guitars and mixing were done in ProTools (computer-based recording program). We recently recorded for a split with Orthrelm, which was all done in ProTools. Inbetween recordings I moved into a space which is also a recording studio, so now we have much more time and flexibility in terms of recording (but alas, no 2" deck!). Regardless, the new recording is the best sounding thing we've done. The last two records were super rushed—we only had 3 hours to track each instrument!

5. The writing process for Behold...The Arctopus, how do you guys come up with the crazy riffs you do? What scales do you use or practice? How long does it take in recording sessions, and what do you do to remember riffage?

Colin: Some of this is answered above. I don't practice scales—fuck, I hardly practice at all! (this is not something I'm proud of… I just don't really have time since I have so many projects).

As I said, the last two recordings were done under extreme time restraints because we were getting free recording time in the studio where I went to school. The new song ("PAINcave") we recorded for the Orthrelm split was recorded in my studio, so we had more time. For the new song we tracked the drums in a few hours, the next day did warr guitar, and the next 2 days did guitar. We got VERY meticulous with this recording, just taking all the necessary time to get everything exactly the way we imagined it.

Remembering music that others write for you can be challenging. That's usually what take the most time in getting a new song together. We composed music pretty quickly, but learning a song take many months. It's a slow but extremely rewarding process. Listening back to the newly recorded and mixed "PAINcave" is a pretty amazing experience for me since I wrote it about 2 years ago. So much work went into that thing….

6. Ever thought about incorporating vocals into any of your music? Will we ever receive a full-length from Behold...The Arctopus? How many tracks will be on the new split? How did you find Charlie Zeleny, and do you think he resembles Baba Booey?

Colin: Early on Mike and I talked briefly about having vocals, but quickly agreed not to make it a priority—we needed a drummer about 4 billion times more.

We have been talking about making a full-length, I think we'd like to make something more in the 30 minute range instead of under 15 minutes, but it won't be for a while since there is still much music left to be written, learned, recorded, and released.

The new split will have one 5 and half minute track.

Charlie found us through a free internet ad we placed. We were a "band" for a year and half before finding him! Who is Baba Booey?.

7. Will you contrast and compare Epicene Sound Systems, Troubleman and Relapse Records.

Colin: Epicene is the newest of these labels. They are fantastic. They've been extremely supportive of Behold and Infidel? / Castro!. Fantastic guys too. They really care about putting out amazing un-heard-of music even if it won't sell. I have the utmost respect for what they are doing.

The whole Troubleman thing came about since our frind Mick from Orthrelm had a series on that label called Vothoc. He offered to put it out if we didn't find another deal. The Troubleman deal was limited edition and included no promotion, tour support, or anything else—only distribution. They have better distro than Epicene and we love Mick, so we decided to do it.

I haven't recorded with Dysrhythmia yet, so I technically haven't put out anything of Relapse before. They are a much larger label than the other two (I mean they have a STAFF). They are also a genre-specific label unlike the other two. They are in the habit of doing tons of promo for their releases which is nice, but they are run much more like a business for better or worse. They have nice things like in-house booking and large recording advances.

8. What is your part in Infidel?/Castro! and Byla? How were these groups started? I've heard you use a lot of pedals and effects, etc. Mind naming a crapload of your equipment?

Colin: I play guitar, drums and bass in Infidel, along with performing all kinds of sonic manipulation. In Byla I just play guitar.

I've known George from Infidel for most of my life and we were in our first two bands together. That group came about whenever the 3rd member of our band was away and we were bored. It also came out of the desire to make music that strayed from a particular instrumentation and went outside of music alone for influence.

Kevin and I started Byla before I was in Dysrhythmia. I met him since we both lived in Philadelphia and I was a Dysrhythmia fan. We discovered we both liked ambient music and wanted to explore slower, more meditative music to counter the often frantic nature of our respective rock bands.

I don't use that many effect. The only effects I use are distortion and delay (and occasionally a heavy chorus). I use a morley distortion pedal almost all the time. I also use a big muff and a boss metal zone. And then for delay I have a boss dd-5 and a boss ps-3 for delay and chorus.

9. What's the craziest thing that has happened to you at a show or on tour?

Colin: Not many crazy things have happened to me on tour. Although when Dysrhythmia was touing with Jucifer last spring, Jucifer's rodie started getting beaten up by a swarm of Christian hardcore teenagers for drinking a beer.

10. Any other hobbies besides music? Why do you do your hair the way you do? Is it true you're vegan? Are you straightedge as well? Why are you vegan?

Colin: Music is pretty much all I do. I work as a recording engineer and I spend all other time working on my bands. I not a very multi-faceted person.

My haircut is in honor of Blacky from Voivod!

I am vegan, but not straightedge. I'm vegan because the meat and dairy industries are less efficient in the use of energy and resources than that of the vegetable. It takes more land, people, food, and electricity to support livestock than plants. Raising animals also results in more pollution and damage to land, not to mention that animals are often treated very badly, especially in factory farm atmospheres, not given enough space and shot full of hormones so that they will produce more milk/eggs/flesh.

11. Do you have another job, or are you a full-time musician? You play any videogames?

Colin: I run a recording studio for a living and I don't play video games anymore (although I have many fond memories…)

12. Influences! Who?

Colin: Cynic, early Ulver, King Crimson, Martyr, Death, Swans, Neurosis, Trans Am, Darkthrone, Meshuggah, Squarepusher, Bartok, Berio, Schoenberg, Penderecki, Voivod, Gorguts, Magma, Universe Zero, Noctunus, Morbid Angel, Esoteric, Khanate, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Melt Banana, Depeche Mode, The Champs, My Bloody Valentine, Ruins, Skullflower, Tool, Anacrusis, Art Zoyd, Metallica, Atheist, Weakling, Shellac.

My friends' bands have been a SERIOUS influence on the music I make: Friendly Bears, ThoughtStreams, Orthrelm, Zs, Flying Luttenbachers, Time of Orchids, Kayo Dot/Maudlin of the Well.

13. How do you feel about file-sharing programs?

Colin: I think they're a great way to discover and preview new bands. I also think people should be responsible and still support musicians by buying their records.

14. Anything you want to end with?

Colin: Thanks for the interview! It's 4:30 am and I'm really tired!.

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<---Take This Link Back.

---Link to Behold...The Arctopus

---Link to Behold...The Arctopus' myspace

---Link to Dysrythmia

---Link to Paincave Studio

---Link to Infidel?/Castro!

---Link to Byla