Interview: Consolidated


Consolidated’s latest album, Business Of Punishment, was released in September. They are three educated white boys rapping in a hip hop band. Consolidated has been compared to the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy many times. Their music is closely aligned with that of Hiphoprisy—heavy on the politics and the beats. Last year they released Play More Music, which drew some criticism for the inclusion of many, many taped audience confrontations. The audience confrontations are present on the new one, but they close the album. If you don’t want to listen, you don’t have to. Consolidated is currently on tour without a Utah date. One could be in our future. SLUG spoke with Mark Pistel, seeking his opinions on music and politics with a Utah slant.

SLUG: A woman running for Congress in Utah is using a $500 tax credit for every child a family has as one of her campaign promises. This tax credit will be funded by cutting back on money provided to the arts and job programs. Any comments?

Consolidated: She wants to take money away from the arts and job programs? Is she a staunch pro-life person?

SLUG: Probably. 

Consolidated: Yes, I’m not saying that I figured, but it’s probably an incentive for people to have more white children. I’m of course making assumptions, but it’s a pretty frightening thing. Whenever you give incentives to people for having children rather than education, job training, and culture such as the arts and you have an incentive for children there’s always some kind of strange religious reason in back, or some anti-women statement. I mean it’s a good way to keep women at home by making them have children. It’s a good way to control women, giving them incentives to have children. I think it’s pretty frightening that a woman would be behind this. 

SLUG: There is also a proposal that anyone be allowed to carry a gun in the state of Utah as long as they are of good moral character. 

Consolidated: What’s good moral character—hunters? Good moral character is different for everybody and everyone. It means a different thing. Someone that hunts for recreational sports, I see them as having no good moral character. However, the elks may think that a hunger is great gift from God. I think for a person to carry a gun shows that you have no moral character. Societies that let people carry guns in my opinion have no moral character. I’m completely against guns and they should be illegal. 

SLUG: Closely aligned with the gun issue is the showing of a video on hunting by the local PBS station during their fundraising campaign. The video included a soundtrack provided by Ted Nugent which is only available through PBS stations who show the video. 

Consolidated: Was the show trying to show how stupid he was?

SLUG: I have no idea, I just talked to people wanting the soundtrack.

Consolidated: So sad, really sad. That’s amazing, public broadcast doing that in Utah. They’d never do that in California. I’ve seen that video, I think it’s the same one. Even if it’s not I know what videos he’s made. They’re like snuff films. They’re live footage of him killing animals that are usually enclosed in hunting ranches and can’t get away. He’s a coward, a disgusting human being.

SLUG: Gangster rap music is extremely popular with little white boys. Their parents buy it for them without knowing what their children are listening to. Why do you think gangster rap is so popular while guys like Consolidated with a different political message can hardly get any commercial acceptance at all?

Consolidated: It’s sort of the way the popularity of Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger is much greater than that of Noam Chomsky. People buy Bruce Willis movies and they buy Arnold Schwarzenegger films and they buy other violent movies before they’ll buy a documentary or a Noam Chomsky film. I’m not comparing us to Noam Chomsky, but in some ways I am in the sense that our culture is based around guns and violence. Rap, I’m not saying all of it, but the gangster rap is based on the same sensational, male violence. It’s a rite of passage for young boys to see Bruce Willis kill ten people in five seconds in a movie. It’s the same rite of passage that we have in gangster rap, it’s becoming a man at 12 years old, carrying a gun and being macho. It has a lot to do with living in a culture that is violent. Living in a culture where women are not respected at home, women are not respected in public life, and gangster rap represents this sort of macho male rite of passage where being insensitive to women and being violent and aggressive is rewarded. It’s attractive to young men growing up in that environment anyway.

SLUG: Another highly political band, Crass disbanded because frustration with their inability to change anything through music alone was causing them to want to commit acts of revolution attempting change. Do you see any of that happening in Consolidated?

Consolidated: I think Consolidated has come close to breaking up in the past. A lot of it has to do with the politics not matching our personal lives sometimes and the music taking over our political beliefs. When the music starts becoming more important than our personal lives and our political beliefs then you have to start taking the situation in hand and realizing what’s the most important. Consolidated has come very close to breaking up because of this. I think it will cause the band to split soon. I don’t know whether it’s this album, the next album, or the one after, I just don’t know. But it’s definitely difficult, just being a human being in today’s world and dealing with your personal life and having a political life. Can you imagine adding a band that’s political and trying to have a personal life? I know that my personal life suffers, I don’t see my family very much, I’m always busy, plus you add the politics to it and you don’t even get to be seriously involved with your politics when you’re always doing music. Also double the fact that you’re making certain statements and you’re out being a pop band, it’s hypocritical and it is very, very weak. 

The interview concluded with a question about Consolidated’s confrontations with the audience during their live shows. I asked if they’d ever been physically attacked. The answer was no. Finally, London Records sent a Consolidated Bandzine as part of their promotional packet. I asked Pistel if they’d ever considered including the Bandzine as part of a CD package similar to what Alice Cooper did by packaging a comic book in a limited edition with his latest. Consolidated has never though of the idea, but they believe it is a good one and future albums might incorporate the Bandzine into the package. 

After wishing Consolidated well on their tour and encouraging them to book a Salt Lake date, the conversation ended. Consolidated knows they are somewhat hypocritical. They advertise the fact and that advertisement is much more honest than say a television evangelist preaching chastity while visiting hookers on a regular basis. –Lenny

Read more from our October 1994 Issue here.