IRON LUNG's Jensen Ward and Jon Kortland

Last year we spoke to the heavy duo about life, death and their recent release 'Sexless // No Sex.' Here's what they had to say. 

FOULSOUTH:  Who are your main influences?

JENSEN WARD: Rudimentary Peni, SSD, Swans, Beethoven and Crossed Out.

JON KORTLAND: Genre bands only.

FS:     What made you both decide to start Iron Lung and keep the minimalist approach to a huge sound?

JW: Jon and I had a band before Iron Lung called Kralizec that was the two of us and a singer named Eli. It was a project band. I liked the idea of boiling a band down to the bare essentials. And we did that one without bass on purpose just to see if it would work. It did. All you need is a beat, a riff and words. Hell, sometimes you don't even need that much to make a good song. So we took that basic recipe and twisted it until it sounded honest.  

JK: "Arc Lamp" is proof that sometimes you don't even need a riff to make a good song. 

FS:     How has your chemistry evolved since 2000?

JW: We have only grown stronger and more hive-minded. It's scary how in tune we are now. Jon has always been great to be in a band with. I think it's because he is a crazy person magnet so he's had a lot of wild experiences to help shape his outlook. I don't envy some of the punishment he has has endured from "fans". He has awesome ideas and great taste. Also he keeps his head in the real world so when shit starts getting weird in the atmosphere he acts as a guiding light for me.

JK: Telepathic tightness since 1999. We have had so many crazy times and adventures together over the years. Give us the Zener ESP card test if you really want to find out.

FS:     How do you feel when critics assign lofty genres and empty, exaggerated analysis to your music, completely missing the point? 

JW: Mostly it makes me laugh. We've been called all kinds of wrong shit over the years, "death metal" and "grind" are the two most common. The best genres put on our sound are "techno grind", "old school reacharound", "avant crust" and "talented". We know who and what we are and anyone with their own brain can figure it out if they take the time. The real shame is that a lot of people are too lazy to take the time. Though it is that laziness that makes some of the best faux intellectual analysis of our music and that shit is always a hoot to read. "Chasing that brass ring into the stratosphere and cashing cheques along the way...".  

JK: Since most "critics" these days are 12 year old wiki-speak "musicologists" mistyping half truths into tablets or iphones, I try to avoid that kind of nonsense. However, it is impossible to fully blind myself to the world of inexperienced blowhards attempting to cement a place in a punker than thou realm that will last all of 5 minutes on an evolutionary scale. I guess that's how I feel about most critics in this post post-modern world.

FS:     How is playing in Iron Lung different, or more cathartic, than playing in other projects? 

JW: Having only one other person in your band raises all the stakes. If it fails it fails bigger. Blame is easier to assign but the path to correcting those errors materializes a lot faster too. Conversely, when we absolutely kill it (ahem, 99% of the time) the satisfaction is intensely pure and direct for us. 

JK: Telepathic tightness.  

FS:     How have opinions toward two-pieces changed since the late 90s?

JW: They aren't the ugly ducklings they used to be, that's for sure but people still think they're weird and somehow not a "real" band. That is until we get up there and start blasting and then they say some shit like "Man, you guys are heavy for a two piece." I enjoy correcting that statement, "We are heavy for a nine piece, motherfucker. We just do it with two." 

JK: The 2-piece band is now the most popular band format in the world!

FS:    Why Sexless//No Sex?   

JW: For me it was two things: having a mind numbing repetitive job that was ruining my body and seeing people around me drowned by emotional instability and mood altering drugs. People who are unhappy do rash, ugly things to each other, yet when their feelings are removed they lose their spark. I was feeling like that too even though I don't take medication. Just being is not enough. Life is for living, merely existing can fuck right off.

JK: So that experts on our band and people we have never met can become outraged by our "hard-lined anti-sex" message. 

FS:     You’re given the opportunity to tour anywhere with two other bands. Where would you go and who would join you?

JW: The next places I'd like to see shake themselves sick are Mexico and Brazil. Never been to either place with the exception of seeing Juarez from across the bridge in El Paso. I don't think that counts. It's like saying you've been to Iceland because you had a layover on the way to Europe. If I could take anyone with us it would be Condition and Dreamdecay. I know this is a dream team type of question but those two bands are absolutely sick live and full of the best people to walk this planet with.

JK: Dream scenario: 1978 version of SPK and "Funhouse" era Stooges touring abandoned oil rigs. Everything is legal in international waters, right?

FS:     How have the scum of the earth assholes you’ve come across in life influenced your music? 

JW: Fuel for the fire.

JK: Blessed be the human animals.....

FS:      Clearly you know what you like and what you don’t. What don’t you like?

JW: Smooth jazz. The term "staycation". Hot liquids. Weak drumming. Bands that pigeon hole themselves out of the opportunity to be creative: "This is my demo era Die Kreuzen band, Sick People...", shouldn't we just enjoy the DK demo for what it is and make some new music? Dog hair. Undiagnosable illnesses. Crutches. Overpriced, overhyped reissues of mediocre nonsense. Fake "freaks". Bar punk. Carob chips. 90's revival. Touring in Europe. Pixelated artwork. Porn without Seka. Guitar Center. The bible (any version). Rose colored glasses. This list could keep going and going but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of good things in the world to balance the scales with.

JK: I really dislike games.   

FS:      What are your plans for 2015?

JW: We will play one show in Seattle. That is all. This year is ours to do as we please with. Maybe I will take a shower. Probably not.

JK: Try to dig myself out of a hole.

FS:      What will be etched on your gravestones? 

JW: "Life. Tried it, didn't care for it."

JK: I am hoping for an unmarked, shallow grave.

Foul South Magazine