Godflesh: Heads Ain’t Ready

December 01st, 1997 | Category: Essays, Interviews

Justin Broadrick“I think Hip-hop is more important than any sort of Rock music,” states a resolved Justin Broadrick matter-of-factly. “Most of the beats are fatter and heavier than your average Rock n’ Roll riff.” Justin is the head of one of our planet’s most brutal ensembles. England’s Godflesh plows monolithic basslines and ear-searing guitar riffs over Hip-hop’s most brutal breaks. Their sound has been pummeling eardrums for nearly a decade now, and most of their fans don’t even get where the music is coming from. You see, Justin is a total Hip-hop junkie.

Songs of Love and HateNot realizing what a total Hip-hop head Justin is, people tend to miss the low-key references to the genre in Godflesh’s music. For instance, their latest disc of remixes called Love and Hate in Dub (which consists of remixed versions of songs from their last record Songs of Love and Hate) kicks off with a clever KRS-One sample, and tons of Godflesh fans completely miss it. “Some people even think that it’s me!” laughs Justin, “And I’m like, ‘yeah right!’

“I’ve done lots of interviews with these Metal magazines and they’re really confronted by the Hip-hop thing like, ‘what the fuck is this?!’ They really don’t get it that I’m really into Hip-hop.” And he is. Justin can ramble on all day about the finer points of the Wu-Tang Clan’s lyrical prowess or the virtues of a solid Premier instrumental or how El-P from Company Flow is guesting on one of his side-projects’ next records… Not exactly knowledge Godflesh fans expect their leader to regurgitate so readily.

“I mean, given the choice between Venom, Emperor or some other Black Metal band and KRS-One, Jeru or the Wu-Tang — you know which side I’ll pick. You’d say the same thing yourself!” He says laughing. In fact, if Justin could’ve had his way, Love and Hate in Dub would’ve been blessed by his favorite Hip-hop gods. Originally, he wanted to get Hip-hop’s top producers to remix the songs.

“Ultimately, we’d want people who were so out of our context that, first of all, it would’ve cost us loads of money,” Justin explains. “I mean, we’d love to get people like DJ Premiere, RZA, and a lot of European drum n’ bass, breakbeat sort of people as well, but the big stumbling block is that we just don’t have the sort of label support behind us at this point. These days, we have to be much more self-sufficient.” Since Earache couldn’t really pay the fees for the Rzarector or Primo, Justin was resolved to do the mixes himself. “We have our own bastardized idea of what we can do Hip-hop-wise anyway. It comes out even more perverted this way.”

StreetcleanerGodflesh, which also includes the mild-mannered Benny Green on bass, and Brain Mantia (now of Primus) and Ted Parsons (ex-Swans and Prong) switching out on drums has always pushed limits in one direction or another. 1989’s Streetcleaner is the seminal Industrial-Metal hybrid sound that bands all over the world are still trying to recreate — and Godflesh has been innovating since and has never looked back. Five full-lengths and two EPs later, Justin is still trying to shed Godflesh’s Metal skin.

“All of these Metal magazines are so pissed off at the way that Metal has been treated that they don’t even want to take a look at something like Hip-hop,” says Justin noticeably frustrated. “They think that it’s worlds away from where they are. I try to stress to them that I’ve always hated Metal. I’ve just used and abused it. I’m not from that background at all. I’ve never, ever been some sort of Metal guy. I think people like to think that before we made Streetcleaner that we were some long-hair band who’d just discovered Industrial music when that’s not the case at all. The first music I was into was Punk rock. It’s so hard to convey these ideas to these people. They always come to me with how Metal should go back to what it was in the eighties, and I’m like, ‘bloody hell!’ I’ve always found Metal rather conservative.”

Next up for Justin and Godflesh is their last full-length for Earache in the States (their American contract runs out after one more proper record), and Justin plans on moving on with a bang: He wants to drop a double-CD worth of body breaking beats on the public. “I’ve been really inspired by Wu-Tang,” Justin explains. “I like the idea of just bombarding people with so much at once.”

[SLAP Magazine, December, 1997]

Further Posting: