* Introduce yourself. Who is the person behind Wertham and Foresta di Ferro. What is he currently reading, listening, watching, eating and how is he feeling?
I am Marco, I am 36, I work for the documentation/marketing department of an IT company, in desperate search of a new flat, and with a little spare time left for leisure related activities. I just ate bruschetta, in this very moment I am listening the coughing of a co-worker but last record to fill the silence around me was ROGUES GALLERY collection of sea songs and IANVA’s latest masterpiece “Italia Ultimo Atto”. Last movies watched: “The great ecstasy of Robert Carmichael”, a pretty disturbing movie suggested by Martin (Shift). I owe him one. I am reading Nicolai Lilin’s “Siberian Education” an interesting novel based on truth about life in the Siberian Towns, where traditional criminals move themselves with peculiar rules, in contrast with the less romantic lifestyle of new Russian mafia.
* Tell me about the very beginning of Wertham. What was the trigger that you've started this project? And also I think this was not your first touch with sound? Maybe tell me more about the pre-Wertham times too. What musical background are you from? What ideas and movements were the most influentive for you or there were none?
Wertham was born to express several interests and obsession into sounds and visuals. For quite a long time, it was rough and primitive experience due to the limited gear in my possession and my rough approach to creativity.
I started playing music when I was 15, as bassist player, then turned vocalist for a couple of hardcore/OI! Bands. I got involved actively into radical electronic experience around 1993 and self released some tapes with names like VERSCHWORUNG 156, EBOLA TERZA FASE, RETROGUARDIA ATTIVA. They were inspired by Italian sick-electronic masters Teatro Satanico, failing to be as effective due to too limited equipments and lack of perspective. Two out of the three projects were done with Walter Piano (Progetto Morte).
WERTHAM and FORESTA DI FERRO were born in 1995 .
I have been very influenced by a variety of people and projects, yet I can say that my main inspiration back then was 100% early industrial/PE projects. I was, amd still am, a keen reader of political writings, psychology, criminology, etc, and being young and ignorant it probably gave me a distorted vision of reality which I still proudly have.
I can openly say I am still very amazed by early futurist vanguards, the attempt to reform life itself with new form of aesthetic, but I can’t say it has been affecting the sounds I record. I leave art to those who live it, understand it and make shitload of money with that in the back of rich collectors.
I am much more interested in street life, jails, slums, red light districts and suburbias than art galleries and museums.
* What about the title of your project - Wertham. I think it is connected with Frederick Wertham and his protests against mass media. How was this name born and what is it's connections with the project itself. In style of Whithehouses/Mary Whitehouse? And why is this person important for the whole conception of yours? If this is not connected to F. Wertham then please explain your title.
I had been reading a variety of books and articles regarding juvenile delinquency and his name was recurring from time to time, to then discover that he’s been working with American’s earlier serial killers (E.G. Albert Fish).
Subsequently I got familiar with his work related to comic books and the whole mass hysteria behind it. It sounded good, it wasn’t an English name and it was perfect. I was moving my first steps as script writer for a well known comics series and the thing stroke me on personal level.
I am interested in mass culture and its misconceptions and the witch hunt launched after “The seduction of the innocents” was very inspiring. Incidentally, it was proven that many of these comic books were present on the bookshelves of many young offenders; it was funny thinking that apart from being alarmed by explicitly gruesome images, he forced himself to see sexual references in apparently innocent drawing.
I find intriguing whatever is done for society’s good to then turn into a complete disaster, the way scapegoats are found and become icons of filth and evil even when ambiguities are explained and sorted out.
The way humans defend themselves from social scares will never stop amazing me. I know there is nothing original in my interests, and I am not the first one to dwell within these fields, but my perception of reality starts and ends there and I have no interest in widening my perspective . The fix still works, why should I experiment something lamer?
Herr Wertham was cool also because he said that batman was gay, which is something I have been convinced about even when Frank Miller attempted to turn him heterosexual in his dark masterpieces.
* It seems that Wertham has made a break of almost 10 years since your last release in 1999 till 2007 except of one 7" in 2004. And later on - these were very productive years for you. Did the thoughts finally purified and you've returned to creation or the creative process was continuous and there was no need to release something or there were some other reasons behind that?
Too many ideas and not enough focus.
I made some releases to leave a trace and say to myself that I had started, but I think I started feeling at ease with my owns stuff only around ANTICITIZEN (although I still love the “Skin and bones” track). I have focused on something else waiting to reach the level I wished to have since the very beginning, recording many hours of stuff and reaching what I wanted after having proper equipment and clearer ideas. It would have been useless to waste sounds away just to be visible.
* There is a strange and interesting mixture in the themes you explore. As I see them - it is some sexual fetish + hatred towards the "crowd of grey sheeps" + simple and logic observation of the surroundings. Which of these (if I am correct) is the most inspiring factor for the creations of Wertham? Overall it seems that, let's say Pigsty - it is so full of hatred towards so called "natural" factors of life in modern days. Though when it is presented in your way it really starts to disturb. Is the main inspiration here - next to you - in the simplest accidents in life? Or you need something BIG to shake you?
Wertham is quite free in the subjects exposed, all offspring of personal obsessions and experiences. There are three main themes. Main one is everything I have experienced on first hand or I have been able to witness on people I know. Then there are general themes that struck me, mostly related to violence, crime, sex and anything worth living for.
Then there is a scarce, yet quite inspiring, interest in historical/political/social happenings, with there no intention whatsoever to preach regarding any subject.
Social biology is the most inspiring subject. The way humans interact as individuals or groups when something unforeseeable happens, especially if of a violent nature.
* Pigsty and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Does this album have something in common with this work of italian director/writer?
Nope, although PPP has been an inspiration for several reasons in other fragments of my experience..
The title pigsty came in mind when I was living in Suffolk (UK; everyday of my British self-exile I had been driving through a huge open air pigsty with big fat dirty pigs playing in the mud waiting to be butchered.
It was the first thing I was seeing in the morning and despite the fact I find pigs funny and somehow cute, that smell made me sick and made me think how unhappy I was to have moved in such village.
Walking in Ipswich town center gave me the same exact feeling, yet the smell was a mix of bacon, sweat, fish&chips, tandori and aftershave.
PPP impressed me with almost everything is done, his poetries, movies, books... Many observations related to the media and capitalism. His perception of beauty and its sex habits that led him to a tragic, yet announced, death.
It’s intriguing how a registered sex offender was capable to reach such sainthood fame within certain ranks.
I have happily taken part to Rustblade’s tribute compilation in his honour to pay my homage to the artist/man/sex pervert.
* Wertham seems to explore more and more the themes of "white trash" way of living and their ugliest/most distinct sides. Is this the path that Wertham takes from now on or it is just what concerns you now. If so then why and when have you arrived to this theme? Street life as I know is somewhat very close theme for you. Is it just the branch of that theme?
Constant interaction with such sort of subhumans, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and UK, made me appreciate the fact I wasn’t one of them. My relationship with has never been that entertaining but was inspiring enough to face them in a different way in my writings.
A amusing thing I witnessed while living in East Anglia has been that most yobs/chavs I met weren’t belonging to low classes, (nothing against poor people, proletarians or bums... I could become one soon) but had a job (mostly self emp'loyed carpenters, plummers and electrician), an house and more money than me but acting exactly as those violent stereotype you read about.
Ken Loach painted many of these people like victims of society, while they proved themselves to be less noble and unlucky than how that idiot still make money with, drinking their life to hell and breeding numberless mongrels with oversized teenage barflies.
* You've released Wertham under such big labels as L.White, OEC, Tesco and at the same time - this year your release showed up at Corrosive Art Records that specialises in very limited and very little editions of releases. What are the advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons of having a deal with little and big labels?
I am 100% satisfied of people I have been working with until now. Most of them were friends before working together. So I can’t say I can see any disadvantage on that, be them “big” established names, or smaller labels.
I have been the only problem of all these production, being myself very slow and messy.
The only people I had problem with were the guys behind the “Fidelis Legio” thing, who stole money and never returned trades, but luckily it was only a sampler and they seem to have disappeared from planet heart with the money of all subscribers and the copies of the many projects involved.
* What is the worst release that you've released? For you personally? Or there were none such and it was simply the reflection of the time and creations at the certain moment of life?
I think all releases were exactly as they were supposed to be when they have been released. They captured that moment. I find some tracks obnoxious and boring, I should have put more effort in. Probably my side of the split tape with Origami Replika was boring, I only like the last track.
I don’t like some tracks on ANTICITIZEN and BODY JIGSAW, sometime I think they both would have been better as 7”s.
* What connection lines are there between Foresta di Ferro and Wertham? What common themes are these projects sharing? Are there such or none at all?
The connection is me and the fact that John Murphy is constantly developing sounds for both projects. No common themes apart from crime related song and the use of analog sounds in some parts.
* Your thoughts about neofolk scene nowadays overall? Is there still sincerity left or it is more of clothing/fashion etc. thing to show-off? And using of symbols simply for provocation without knowing what are they about and so on? To be cool dude with military uniform etc.? Tell me your oppinion about that.
I don’t care about so called neofolk. Music is either good or bad. I still enjoy martial oriented music and still friend with many of the people involved. Trends come and go even in the most radical scenes, best thing is to go to sleep and wait the ridiculous attempts to be something they are not disappear.
There are great people, great projects and I am glad to see spawning traditional/ethnic oriented projects rediscovering true traditional sounds and experimenting with their own instruments. I am bored to death by DIJ wannabees, but there are still many excellent projects around: Andrew king, strumpercht, scivias, waldteufel, blood axis, arnica, naevus, riharc smiles, die weisse rose, werkhraum, der blutharsch, triarii, etc.
* What about You and literature? I've read somewhere that Pigsty was based on some never-released book. Are you a writer also? If yes, then what are your main topics of interest while writing, what themes do you explore, how are they similar and how they differ from those that you explore in your musical projects. Also, what are the differences between creating sounds + lyrics and writing a book/article/novel/poem? Which is easier for you? And which is more pleasant? Maybe you could recommend some writings of yours to read? It would be very interesting.
“Memories from the pigsty” is partly based on my English diary which I will use again for a couple of future releases. I have been writing most of my time, reviews, articles on several subjects, texts for graphic novels, researches and now marketing/technical documentation. There is interest at the moment for a “Memories from the pigsty” book but I need to sort out some issues before focusing on that. It would be a mix of real experiences (mine and of other two friends who lived in London in different moments) and fiction. The style is exactly the same of the CD.
I have problem in writing reviews at the moment, lack of focus, like an attention deficiency disorder plus my Italian worsened when living in Albion. Another excerpt of the unreleased book is featured on French mag, L’ACEPHALE, more to come in future.
* Does there exist a theme that you wouldn't explore with your projects? Some sort of taboo or so?
Anything that I find either boring or uninteresting.
I would be avoiding using certain specific images that illegal in Italy since it would be a stairway to jail and I feel to be more useful free than locked-in.
* Your way of life if you are not against. Tell me your attitude towards straight edge philosophy. Why is it good and why not. I guess after living such a long time by some so called "rules" in the surroundings that are overconsuming drugs and alcohol - that's absolutely nothing, but anyways, why have you chosen to take such a path of life, when did it happen and so on. Or it is just so and it is simple and clear for you and you wouldn't even know how to describe the things that are absolutely clear?
I have been straight edge since 1987. I started drinking and taking intoxicants at a very young age but luckily a bunch of friends ended being junkies, overdosed, HIV positive, suicidal, drunk in car crashes, before everything turned to habit and this made me draw a line between being clean or be the next in line. I know there are shades of grey in between black and white, but back then it was either being as I am or being one of THEM.
I was pretty aggressive and alchol was making thing worse, especially considering I wasn0'
I was heavily into hardcore punk (still am) and it was a great season to live until moralistic stances, anti-this/that, and pussy scared barefoot nerds crying and complaining that women were excluded by slamdancing started poisoning it all, so I completely skipped the “scene” and focused on more interesting / sexually charged subjects. Give me Blood for Blood, give me Integrity, give me Slapshot, Negative Approach, Cro-Mags, and not whiny emo political correct shit. Most of these people never had to spend one day of their life in the street and don’t know what they are talking about and what the real underdogs have to go through shit while they whine about sexual indecision and feel guilty for their unsolved family traumas.
I do not consider myself part of any "movement" at the moment, but I still prefer to spend my money for records and not to feed drug moguls, to wait my body corrupt itself without me putting him under strain with intoxicants.
I like to be in control and to be blamed for action I deliberately decide to do and be happy to be wrong knowing it was my choice to damage something/somebody.
I have been raised in a place where the shitty hippie mentality of “never trust somebody who doesn’t drink or take drugs” was deciding to you on which side of the stick you were supposed to be, that was enough to keep straight for a few more years and being still happy to be confronted from time to time and be the one to bang the stick.
Evereybody is free to do whatever he wants until he steps on my garden.
* What are your thoughts about politics/human behavior/happenings in the world at the very moment? Are we going downhill or maybe it's the time for "spiritual Renaissance"? What is good and bad about this globalization and rise of materialism? Or there is no need to think globally about something for everyone is responsible for his own actions and life and the world is just the person himself (and his close relatives in case there is a need to add them too).
Interesting question. No spiritual renaissance, no downhill.
Eternal stability. History ended, we are just walking on a flat line where the global market is an ever expanding machine, differences are turned down.
We are distracted by fake enemies, but nothing changes, everything is going on as it started. SAome little crisis, some new dream makers (Obama), some new foes to feel the need of protection (Iran, Korea, Afghanistan), etc. etc.
There may be some wars, there may be some disasters but the direction is clear, one world, one language, one man, one filth.
The alternative is arising awareness, organize, destabilize. But the SYSTEM is too strong at the moment and it's becoming always bigger with unexpected happenings that are making all old "revolutionaray" ideologies whitering. I am not envying those who still live in the illusion of having a mass-scale revolution and are completely unable to miss the real point of acting locally. They are missing the bus.
* If some guy would come to you and ask you "Mr. Wertham, I would like to make some power electronics release, but I don't know where should I begin. All the themes seem to be taken already, the sounds played so what should I do?" What would be your answer?
Watch your neighbourhood, see the horror in daily life, and describe it using its real colours. Try to make the listener smell the ruins you describe. Enjoy.
* The worst and most disgusting sexual experience you could imagine?
Two fat naked black crackwhores puking on each other.
* Do you like live performances? If so why? Because as I've noticed you were having gigs not so seldom.
Yes. I definotely enjoy playing live, especially doing collaborations (as it happened with John Murphy and Karmanik), but next year I will slow down a bit to focus on expressions of different nature.
I have been repeating myself too much lately and having to travel miles to stay in a place only 48 hours is becoming a bit consuming.
I plan to stop at least until next Autumn.
* What about you and religion? Do you follow any external advices/orders how to live or no? Why?
No. It’s a waste of energy and time. I am interested in religions, tradition, etc. But I do not believe in a higher power to rule us.
It's just a matter of money and control. Religious expressions may be interesting, but it is something I would dream to see confined in reservations and museum.
* What you can't stand in ART and what makes an ART worth your attention? Themes, subjects or whatever?
It interests me either if it show the unshowable or speak the unspeakable, or if it gives me strong emotions and the illusion of project me into the heights of something unexplainable. It must either interest me or capture me.
There are several "artists" I find amusing in various fields, but the whole money thing surrounding it makes it look less valuable than it should be.
I have been very much into body art, yet the whole attempt of giving social messages through it made it become something restraining and not liberating as it was supposed to be.
The form should speak itself, contents should be secondary or at least not explained. I want to wonder and be surprised, not teached.
A millionaire telling me the world sucks is number one on my hit-list.
* What about the future plans of Wertham? of Foresta di Ferro? Any live performances, releases, other activities?
I am going to take a break from most things. Apart from the new WERTHAM cd “Bodies under siefe” and a couple fo releases that are already in the works I’ll stop all music activities for some months. I’ll be focusing on the new project CALIGULA031 in the meantime. I have already recorded many hours of stuff I am confident with, I just have to edit artwork.
* What book, record and random thing would You take while going to the unknown island for a period of time?
“Atlas of legal medicine” by Weimann & Prokop, “Great white death” by whitehouse and a CD player to play the aforementioned CD.
* Any last words, questions, shouts, answers, stories or so.
Thanks for the intriguing interview. 2010 should be a slower year for me due to work commitments, but watch out for news in the next months on wertham.wordpress.com.