Heathen Harvest: Introduce your musical project, Eaten by Children. What on earth inspired you to come up with that name?
Rob Hart: It's just me and a load of junk. The name actually came about from a conversation I was having with my girlfriend about a play she had just finished reading - Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams. The whole play is haunted by the absence of a character, and specifically the mysterious reason for his disappearance. It later transpires that, whilst in Europe, he was eaten alive by a group of young boys. Anyway, I was looking for a name at the time and my girlfriend said 'why don't you call your music eaten by children?'. It's not really meant as an allusion to the play - I like the fact that it's a very strong, emotionally charged image and at the same time fairly ambiguous - "what is being eaten by children, why?"
HH: Your debut release "The Sword Swallower's Grave" has an absolute cocktail of different sounds and feels, aside from sounding like a shot of heroin to the brain, what musical projects inspire your sound?
RH: There's probably thousands of influences floating around but I'd say there are two main ones that inform pretty much everything I do - Smog and Nurse With Wound. Smog because his output is so personal - you sometimes feel like you're locked in a confessional with him when listening to his records. I've really tried to create a similar level of intimacy on this album. Of course, an "intimate noise record" might sound like a complete contradiction in terms to a lot of people, but to me there's something incredibly personal and introspective about the total intensity and immersion you can experience from a great noise record. As Mark E Smith once said, "it really cleans your head out"
Nurse With Wound really informed the eclecticism of the album. He's one of the only musicians who explores surrealist ideas with a real level of conviction. The really disruptive, sharp cuts on his "Spiral Insana" album were a really important reference point for me, as well as the hypnotic soundscapes on stuff like “Homotopy to Marie”. I'm also really influenced by a lot of avant-garde films, the trance states induced by Stan Brakhage's flicker films or the deadpan humour in John Smith's work.
HH: I distinctly detect traces of Steve Albini on the album. Track 4 especially sounds like "Kerosene" with much more urgency. Is this intentional at all?
RH: I'm not really an Albini die-hard but am certainly a fan. I've always been really frustrated by my complete ineptitude on the guitar and managed to thrash most of it out of my system on that track.......
HH: "Sword Swallower's Grave" was released with 200 copies. What's next? Aside from a few compilation tracks, how can the public get their opportunity to hear you?
RH: On the back of SSG I've been asked to do a few different things for other CD-R labels which I'm working on at the moment. I'm also contributing a track to a compilation on Wrong Music's Net Label. I imagine that, with the rise of downloads and file sharing, physical formats will become more specialist and factors like packaging will become increasingly important. One of the main aims with my label (State Sanctioned Recordings) is to produce handmade, tactile products that people will want to own. I’d also really like to do a series of themed 7”s and a DVD of my film-work, but these will probably be longer term projects.
HH: You recently started playing a few live shows in the UK. How were these received? Sounding like the bastard son of Merzbow and Kraftwerk must have certainly instilled a nice audience reaction. Are there plans to expand your audience?
RH: The first gigs I did were with Wrong Music in Brighton, where I would just savagely attack my set up and see what would come out of it. It would generally result in about seven minutes of horrendous mess followed by an unexpected silence. I've since developed this very physical approach to take in more layers but I still use a lot of volume and some rather unhealthy frequencies, There's often a sense in which the audience is being physically pushed around by the level of noise. Generally audiences have been pretty receptive, although there have been a couple of occasions where I've looked up at the end of a set to be greeted with 30 or so entirely bemused faces.
Going back to the Albini thing, when I saw Shellac live, I was really intrigued by the way in which they'd all stop playing at exactly the same moment and start jumping up and down. Your ears had become so attuned to hearing loud, amplified music that it was really jarring to suddenly find yourself listening to just the sound of their feet hitting the stage. I've incorporated this idea more and more into my live sets by mixing unamplified sound sources in with the electronically-produced elements. This pretty much consists of stabbing hair clippers into old radios and rattling rusty tea-tins full of nuts and bolts.
HH: As far as Sampling goes, to what ends did you pursue to accomplish the sounds? I detect hints of piano, and some tube-like hisses. Were most of the tracks recorded around London?
RH: The whole album is built from either my useless attempts at playing instruments or recordings I've made of strange occurrences that have pricked my interest. I really believe that if you want to capture a certain atmosphere, it's most effective to be as direct in your approach as possible. If I want something to sound claustrophobic, I just go to a place I find claustrophobic and make a recording. Even the much more electronic-sounding sections are built from simple processes like distorting an old drum machine - it's really very lo-fi in a lot of ways........
The last sections I recorded were in London although much of it was done in Canterbury and my home town of Wimborne prior to that. I love the fact that London's got so much stimulus to draw from. I've recently been working on some Super 8 films of different parts of London, which act like a sort of note pad for different events and landscapes I stumble across. I've recently begun incorporating some of these films into my live shows, often by feeding the same piece of footage through two projectors and then overlaying the two images.
HH: Ultimately, It is only a matter of time until you break the barrier. With labels such as Cold Spring now stocking your debut album, there is certainly a demand. Can we ever expect the album to be made more available?
RH: Well, if anyone wanted to give it a wider release I wouldn't say no because there's a large chunk of my life invested in it. For the moment, I'm planning to just continue playing a lot of gigs and working on new material. There certainly seems to be a growing level of interest, so I’m just trying to keep up with the momentum of the whole thing........