Discussing Cold Waves Fest Roots
Ever since the passing of industrial and metal legend Jamie Duffy, Cold Waves music festival has taken sprite to honor both his passing and his memory. Focusing on a fun and artistic way to prevent suicide and help out those in need, founders Jason Novak and David Schock have been running the festival with full hearts. We got a chance to talk with them regarding the history of the festival in its regard to Jamie Duffy, as well as talk of the bands performing this year.
So, let's get straight into it. Cold Waves was originally formed after the passing of the much celebrated Jamie Duffy. Tell us a little bit about the man and how you guys got to know him.
Jason - "The man Jamie Duffy was my partner in musical crime, a bandmate since 1994. He joined Acumen shortly after we found our sound and his first show with us was opening for KMFDM after we had struggled for years playing shitty local bars! We went on to produce the albums of all our different projects, plus wrote and produced for Chemlab, Pigface and others. He was a constant in everything I did musically from 1995 to 2011."
David - "On June 21st of 2012, Jamie Duffy passed away in the early morning hours, leaving behind a legacy much greater than his known contributions to the industrial and metal genres. Even if you didn't know Jamie Duffy, odds are that you still KNEW of Jamie Duffy and his work as he served as stage manager or as the soundman at many of your favorite Chicago venues such as the House of Blues, Cubby Bear, and Cabaret Metro amongst many others. He appeared on, mixed, produced, engineered, remixed or just plain influenced many of your favorite bands such as Chicago's very own Ministry, Sister Machine Gun, Chris Connelly, Sister Soleil, Method Man and more.
In addition to being a sound engineer and producer, Jamie was also well known across Industrial Music's landscape for his contributions as a member of the Coldwave/Metal hybrid band, Acumen Nation, and the Drum and Bass project, DJ? Acucrack not to mention his appearances on Pigface, Chemlab and Cyanotic albums.
Jamie Duffy's contribution to the Metal and Industrial genres crosses over from releases on major record labels such as Warner Bros. Records and RCA records, to large independents such as WaxTrax!Records, to the smaller independent labels such as Invisible, Underground Inc, CrackNation records, WTII Records, Fifth Column and Metropolis records so it is more than likely that Jamie Duffy has touched you in some way even if you didn't realize it at first.
I originally met Jamie just through the bar scene as we both loved the metal and industrial genres. We were the same age, wore backwards baseball hats (don’t judge, it was the time when everyone did that) and frankly were often mistaken for each other. We would share our music stories over whiskey shots and cold beers. Jamie would go onto to be a sound man for several of the shows I booked, and eventually had an album (Acumen Nation’s 'What the F**k') out on WTII Records."
In regards to personally working with Jamie, how involved was he in your lives? I understand he was very influential in the industrial and metal genres, but how did he directly influence the two of you?
Jason - "Continuing with that… He was an uncle to my kids, he came to our home for holidays, he was a brother. We played in three bands together, we traveled together for years and were creative partners for almost twenty. Jamie passing wasn’t just the loss of a local musician or bandmate, he was family."
David - "I spoke a little bit about this in the previous question but Jamie just loved music and loved to talk about music. Throw in his shared passion for sci-fi movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger and it was a match made in heaven and I do consider him to be like a brother to me. Back when I first started out booking shows as an independent promoter he often gave me advice or just saved my ass with his volunteering to work sound for me from time to time. The guy always gave everything he could to everyone. I can still remember him telling me to check out this new band he was working on their demo with called Soil and how they were going to get huge one day. Once again the Kidd was right."
When news reached to you regarding of Duffy's passing, how did you initially respond and how heavy did the news weigh on you?
David - "I was at work at the time when my wife called me with the news; I didn’t want to believe her. I still had a full shift to work so I waited to stay off of social media but once I got home and saw that my entire news feed was about Jamie, I have no shame in telling you that I broke down and cried for hours."
I understand that Duffy's passing also sparked the idea of Cold Waves. When was it that the idea originally came forth, and when did you guys realize it was transforming from just an idea to a reality?
Jason - "When Jamie passed, so many performers and friends were profoundly affected. The idea of a memorial show sprang up soon after his services, a way for all the people who loved him to pay tribute, and then it became a way to help his mother pay for funeral expenses, etc. The event was a great success, sold out over 700 people and showcased performances by 14 bands. People immediately urged us to keep it going, people who loved the spirit of the event and saw it as a way to celebrate Jamie and Chicago and industrial music. Over the years it just keeps growing, and we hope to build it even further. "
David - "The whole experience is such a blur to me as emotions were running so strong and so heavy at this time that Jason and I may even have different opinions of how this all went down. But essentially the entire Chicago music scene was in shock, not just the industrial and metal scenes but also the venues and sound engineers because he affected so many people. There was just so much grief that we knew we needed some kind of outlet for people or to have some kind of positive message because in these scenes drug abuse and alcohol abuse was not uncommon and we felt that there were several more people who suddenly went into high risk. We couldn’t face the idea of having even more people possibly take their lives so we went to work on the inaugural Cold Waves show. Jason was an established musician who has toured all over the world but he had no real experience at booking shows or putting a festival/multi-band performance together. I was an independent promoter who had been booking shows for several years prior to this and had been expanding them into larger and larger lineups and into multi-day events. Well somehow in a very short period of time we assembled the initial lineup, threw together a plan and sold out an 800 person venue. I have to tell you that I get too much credit for all of these events and Jason really does deserve most of the accolades but I do want to throw out props to Jamie’s roommate, Paris, who ran sound and did so much backline work for two straight days during the initial show. We honestly had no idea if this idea would work or how we would fit twelve bands, I think it was twelve bands maybe even thirteen, in one six hour show and have it not be an absolute train wreck but we think Jamie was with us that night because it all ran smoothly and on time. The whole experience from idea to reality happened very quickly, so quickly in fact that I feel my memory would betray me if I tried talking about it in even more detail."
Cold Waves isn't just about Duffy, however, it is also about suicide prevention. What goes on during the festival to shed light on suicide prevention?
Jason - "We work with a charity called Hope for the Day, a local organization that uses music and the arts to subvert depression and fight against suicide. They are very punk rock and metal oriented, focus on a much more relatable way for kids to reach out and find hope. This year we have set up a few things with our sponsors to raise even more money, like iconic Chicago burger joint Kuma's Corner donating $1 for every 'Burger of the Month' they sell, which is an homage to our Cold Waves headliner, Godflesh. We also have a great raffle set up with some customized art, music, even instruments to raise even more for them. We plan to have a kiosk set up for HFTD so they can spread their goals and offer people chances to volunteer their time and effort."
David - "Even though the festival is continuing to expand and grow it is very important for everyone involved not to lose sight of why we are here. We obviously work with Hope for the Day and there are brochures and information everywhere. We try to use Jamie’s image in all of our artwork to remind people. During the shows Jason or myself, or Jamie’s mother Pat or Jonny from Hope for the Day will get onstage in between sets to talk a little bit about suicide prevention and staying strong and also having hope. Last year Jason and my wife, Jean, put together a very nice pamphlet about the show with some additional information about HFTD and Jamie. This year you will see an even greater emphasis being put on this message including interactive art, hash tags and photographers trying to spread HFTD’s message."
And, if you two had anything to say to anyone who had thoughts of suicide before or even now, what would you tell them?
Jason - "There is always a better tomorrow, hope on the horizon, reasons to believe in yourself that you may not even know exist, so reach out, share your thoughts and talk through the pain. Never give up and shut down, robbing yourself of great things right around the corner, and truly crushing those around you don’t even realize love you as much as they do. Life is hard, that’s part of the deal, but there is strength all around you, just have to reach for it."
There is always a better tomorrow, hope on the horizon, reasons to believe in yourself that you may not even know exist, so reach out, share your thoughts and talk through the pain. Never give up and shut down, robbing yourself of great things right around the corner, and truly crushing those around you don’t even realize love you as much as they do. Life is hard, that’s part of the deal, but there is strength all around you, just have to reach for it.David - "Over the past four years I have had scores of people reach out to me in their darkest times via social media because of my association with Cold Waves and HFTD. I am definitely not a licensed therapist but all I can do is listen to everyone and give them the time they need and show them some compassion. I often tell people not to be afraid to reach out if they need help, because seeking help is not a sign of weakness but is actually a sign of strength. I will also tell your readers that we belong to a community of like minded people who have like problems and issues. If they, or someone they know is suffering right now please reach out and talk to someone. If someone they know is trying to talk to them please listen to what they are trying to say, if they haven't heard from someone lately and are worried please check in with them and drop them a text, email or phone call. Everyone is trying to deal with their struggles on their own but if we opened up and reached out to others in our 'Industrial' community, that struggle gets just a little easier as they will find they aren't the only one going through it. Doesn't matter if its drug addiction, alcohol abuse, a break up, separation or divorce. They could be suffering from a death of a friend, spouse or family pet; they might be bullied or have faced abuse or even just struggling with unemployment. It doesn't matter, just try to please reach out to someone to talk about their problems, it can and will make a difference."
I also have read in multiple places that Cold Waves has not only sent heart warming messages throughout the audience, but was able to help bond people together and sort of act as an entirely surreal experience Would you say that what Cold Waves is able to do is that of magic?
David - "I briefly talked on this a little bit in the previous question but the entire 'Cold Waves' and 'Industrial' community are like minded people with like problems. Bringing everyone together and trying to knock down the stigma of Suicide brings everyone a little closer together. There is still a good amount of sorrow from Jamie’s passing and that also unites people in their grief. We often use the term 'Cold Waves family' and that truly is what it has become and even though the numbers may grow to 1200 people in the venue at any given time it feels as if everyone has something in common and something to talk or bond over. I can tell you that it is unlike any other festival or concert experience that you will have and it will touch your readers like nothing else."
Now, let's talk a little bit about the bands playing at the festival. Who are coming to the festival and who are you most excited about seeing?
Jason - "All the bands are high on my list, but I’ve been working on this Severed Heads thing for a couple years, and after booking three shows for Front 242 last year and handling all their logistics, this year it has been a pleasure and a new learning experience to book and handle seven shows for these guys, a personal labor of love! Also proud to have coaxed Paul Barker to play his first show ever as Lead Into Gold, and since I toured with Front Line Assembly three times over the years, it’s going to be fun to host those guys properly at this event. Fucking Godflesh? Yes please. And I gotta mention the night before, the CW kick off party on Thursday where our original band with Jamie, Acumen Nation, performs our first album 'Transmissions from Eville' in its entirety. That’s going to be a real friends and family kind of party, before we buckle down and bust ass for forty eight hours straight."
David - "COLD WAVES' goal to showcase Chicago's relationship with industrial music featuring rare and classic fore bearers along with innovative newcomers has never been more realized than with this year's line up. The godfather of industrial doom, Justin Broadrick brings GODFLESH back to the US for their second tour since an almost 20 year absence… The same time away from our shores as SEVERED HEADS, the Australian electronic trailblazers with a slew of iconic Nettwerk Records releases. Also championing a near 2-decade American hiatus, POP WILL EAT ITSELF should have many a music bucket-list keeper making check marks.
Featuring original Skinny Puppy member Bill Leeb, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY promises classic material from their Wax Trax! days, along with LEAD INTO GOLD, the iconic Paul Barker (Ministry, Revolting Cocks) project and their debut performance. Often credited with inventing the dark ambient genre and an original member of SPK, Brian Williams brings LUSTMORD to the Chicago stage for the first time. No less music royalty when regarding the Chicago stage, Chris Connelly's new project COCKSURE promises to revive the true spirit of all things Revolting along with festival organizer Jason Novak.
Leaving last year's audience in awe made it easy for AUTHOR+PUNISHER to book a rare back-to-back festival appearance, literally the physical embodiment of industrial music, along with another technical innovator, Matt Schultz's long dormant LAB REPORT and his anti-tank-guitar. Keeping things mysterious and experimental, New York's dark prince of noise and Hospital Productions founder Dominick Furnow will bestow a rare PRURIENT performance upon us.
This year's link to the actual cold waves genre, RORSCHACH TEST promises a walk down Slipdisc memory lane, while electro fire starters HIGH-FUNCTIONING FLESH play the role of LA industrial critical darling this year. Already a household name synonymous with heavy music production in Chicago, Sanford Parker unveils TWO FROM THE EYE. Finally, Kansas City's HUMAN TRAFFIC kick things off with a new style of l'enfant terrible electro-grime punk.
I know Jason is probably most excited about seeing Severed Heads but I’m beyond excited to see Lustmord, who almost never performs live or when he does it’s only for very special occasions and also Pop Will Eat Itself, with whom I am a huge fan boy."
Has there ever been any one moment at any of the previous Cold Waves festivals that have really stuck out to either of you among any other moments?
Jason - "Watching Front 242 from the sound booth last year was a treat. I saw them in 2011 at the Wax Trax Retrospectacle and thought to myself, God I hope this isn’t the last time I see them! And then to personally reach out, negotiate, book and plan their whole trip to the US three years later was surreal. Also watching a long-time friend of ours (Kevin Kacmerik) onstage present Jamie’s mother Pat Duffy with an honorary brick from the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, engraved with Jamie’s name, was incredibly special. And I gotta mention Burton Bell from Fear Factory just hanging out all weekend during the second year, guesting with three to four bands, pulling raffle winners on stage, and just being the all around kickass dude that he is. People walk away from our festival knowing they witnessed something special. It’s a good feeling."
David - "Every one of the festival’s performers over the years have left memorable experiences but the biggest one has to be the finale of the inaugural show where all of the participants got on stage to sing an 'industrialized' version of 'Juke Box Hero'. There is footage of that special moment online and it will send chills down your spine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB5UysxpaO8
The other moment for me, which sent a smile to my face which lasted for days, was during Cold Waves II. I had invited my friend Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory to come and hang out all weekend and take the whole experience in. Well not only did he hang out all weekend but he helped to MC the event and jumped on stage with nearly every single one of the acts performing. But watching him jump onstage and sing Bile’s version of the J. Geils' classic “Love Stinks” was just too surreal for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rkdqllGKwk
Where is the festival taking place this year and how have you improved it over last year's festival?
David - "The festival is again taking place at the Cabaret Metro, which is a 1200 person capacity venue. Over the past few years we have tried several ideas, some ended up being good and some not so good but the festival is ever evolving and trying out new things. We are trying to actually make the weekend feel like a 'true festival experience', and this year we welcome back Revolution Brewery as one of our sponsors and are excited to announce a new partnership with Kuma’s Corner who will be setting up a food tent outside so we can feed concertgoers. Those are two names in Chicago food and beverage that couldn't be closer to the Cold Waves identity and spirit than if we started them ourselves. This year the festival will offer rare and unique artist and product raffles, DJs, with a new expansive stretch all the way to the G-Man (bar located next door to Metro), allowing attendees a chance to grab a bite, have a seat, and enjoy the music and live video feed from the newly dubbed 'Cold Waves Lounge'. Kuma’s has also stepped up and designed a special September 'Burger of the Month' in which a portion of those proceeds will also go to HFTD and there is a location right next to the main hotel and is walking distance from the venue."
One of the more important questions, I would think, is where people can purchase a ticket for the festival and what other sort of vendors will be at the fest aside from the bands?
David - "People can pre-order the tickets online via these 2 links and tickets may still be available day of but last years events did sell out and we are anticipating more of the same this year. Ticket prices each night are $46 and a portion of the proceeds does go to the charity, Hope for the Day
I also understand that Cold Waves is associated with a charity. What charity is it and how involved are they with the show?
David - "We work with Hope For The Day, which is a nonprofit movement committed to utilizing music and the arts as a defense mechanism to suicide. Their alternative approach strives to offer education, prevention and hope through creative expression.
Hope For The Day’s vision is to bring communities together in order to shed light on the unfortunate topics of depression and suicide. They wish to share the deeply personal connection creativity can have in fostering an environment of positive change to the suffering. They view art and music as a highway to the heart; two things that have allowed humanity to express our emotions for millennium. They wish to reduce suicide rates while inspiring and empowering those who need help to get help."
Outside of Cold Waves, are either of you involved in suicide prevention programs or anything of the like to help out the cause?
David - "Both Jason and I try to volunteer with Hope for the Day as much as we can but with full time jobs, families with children, our record labels and shows (both booking and performing) our schedules do get pretty packed. I also book the Chicago cancer research charity show in conjunction with Jim Semonik’s Electronic Saviors cause every two years and are also hoping to start, or for better wording, follow up, another smaller scale noise, IDM, experimental, ambient cancer benefit show with relations to Don Hill, aka Millipede, who passed away earlier this year and maybe even expand that to two days as well."
And is there anything else you wish to mention at this current time that I may not have mentioned regarding Cold Waves or Jamie Duffy?
David - "We believe in Hope for the Day’s message and the cause in which they stand. We will never know if Hope for the Day could have prevented the loss of our good friend but we do know that if Jamie Duffy would have been aware of, and would have donated some of his time to HFTD, that he most definitely would have positively impacted others' lives. Everyone who is reading this interview has talents of your own and many of you are artists and musicians. We are asking people this year that in addition to sharing Hope for the Day’s message, that you also donate some of your time and talent to their cause. You all can make a difference in people’s lives."
David, you run WTII records. Playing a bit of catch up, what news can you bring us from the label? Has there been anything stirring around the nest that you can tell us about?
David - "Actually 2015 has been one of our busiest years we’ve had since about 2004 and we feel our roster has actually never been stronger. March saw the return of Sister Machine Gun with their 'The Future Unformed' EP and we have had several high profile releases by Chant, AlterRed, Autoclav1.1, and ESA (Sept 4th). Personally, one of the most exciting releases that is coming out soon is with Chicago’s Comasoft and their 'Let’s go all the way' Ep. It’s a cover of Sly Fox’s classic song and I seriously think it has actual crossover potential to rival Orgy’s 'Blue Monday'."
And, Jason, you are part of numerous projects and run Cracknation records. Same question I asked David; have you anything exciting that you can tell us about in regards to any, some, or all of your projects or record label?
Jason - "The label has quieted down a bit, but outside of funding and producing Cold Waves, I’ve focused on two newer projects, Czar and Cocksure. Czar is more of an experimental metal project with a couple albums out and who toured with Killing Joke a couple years back, gets all the heavy aggression out, while Cocksure (recently signed to Metropolis) is my project with Chris Connelly, allowing him to take care of some unfinished business channeling his old Revolting Cocks alter-ego. The Cracknation catalog is pretty vast and fun and I’m super proud of it, but harder and harder to run a functioning successful label these days, for sure."
And, lastly, I would like to thank you gentleman for your time and interest, and I hope Cold Waves kicks ass this year.
David - "We want to thank you Steven for your time and this interview as the questions weren’t the normal 'Cold Waves' fare. I have felt recently that the message and our cause was getting lost a little bit in the noise of all of the bands performing and I feel like a lot of your questions managed to put the focus back onto Jamie Duffy.
We also want to thank all of the musicians and DJ’s who performed at Coldwaves I-III and the ones who will be performing at CW IV and we also wanted to take this opportunity also to thank you, the fans, who made this one of the most memorable weekends of many of our lives that people look forward to all year. We hope to see all of you again at future Coldwave festivals and rest assured our work here is not done."
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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