Steel Hook Prostheses is one of the leading acts on American power electronics scene and John Stillings is one of two heads of this monster (the second is Larry Kerr). He’s also known from his technical work for other musicians. A very active person. And talented as well.
How would you summarize this past year on an artistic and personal level?
The past year has been spent doing lots of mastering jobs and working with other artists. I have kind of set my personal work aside taking on as much mastering work as I can handle to generate revenue. I’ve spent a better part of the year heavily investing in my home studio and arranging/ reconfiguring equipment to optimize my workflow. It seems to have been an incredibly productive year for everyone as there has been no shortage of work. Steel Hook Audio Mastering has been in demand like never before. That being said, it’s left me with very little time to work on my own music. I have a very demanding full time job and a 5 year old daughter to keep up with. It can be quite difficult to balance it all at times but I am a workaholic. I’m just not content being idle.
Which album have you listened to most often this year (not necessarily released in 2014)?
I have listened to a whole hell of a lot of stuff this year. I rarely get to listen to albums for pure enjoyment. It’s usually mastering releases that consumes most of my attention. I have to listen with a focused, analytical ear. Not so much paying attention to content, but overall composition, density, unintentional noise, recording flaws, flow etc. If I’m just going to listen to something to relax I will put on Klaus Schulze’s ~ Timewind or Nurse With Wound records. One stand out from this year was Gnawed~ Feign and Cloak released by Malignant Records. This album to me is a benchmark of the state of modern American heavy electronics. I didn’t do any post production on this which let’s me enjoy the listening experience more. I’m able to bypass my analytical ear and just take it in as a casual listener. The work is really well produced.
What was the best gig you’ve attended?
I think I went to a total of 3 shows this year. Two of them I was performing at. I don’t get out to shows too much these days. I do most of my music work on the weekend and there is always something I need to be working on. I would rather work in the studio and make a few bucks towards putting a new piece of gear on the shelf or buy some records that I’ll keep for a lifetime. Going to shows always seems to leave me with a blurred memory and empty wallet! Now being in my 40’s I prefer a good night’s sleep and the satisfaction of production.
But yes, best gig I attended by far was when S.H.P. played with Brighter Death Now, Deutsch Nepal, Raison d’être, Black Leather Jesus and Filth in October.
What was the best non-music related cultural experience you’ve had?
Really nothing significant this year.
Was there any event within this past year that has significantly influenced your philosophy and outlook on life, or your perception of the world around you? For instance some specific place you visited, people you met and so on?
My daughter started Kindergarten this year so that was a big deal. She is my only child and we are pretty tight.
Was nice to meet Roger Karmanik and Raison Peter this year for the first time in person. Cool to meet Peter Deutsch Nepal again. I had met him before a few years back when we did a gig together in New York. I had fun drinking late into the night with those guys. Several friends flew in from around the country for that gig. Was really great to see so many people together in person.
What was your greatest disappointment in 2014?
I had some personal health issues that got me down for some months. But that is currently resolved and I’m in a much better place physically as of now.
Your plans, hopes and expectations for 2015?
I plan on recording a lot of material this year. Have a few split releases planed with Kadaver, White Walls, The Black Scorpio Underground and United Front. Will be working toward a new full length Steel Hook Prostheses album. Will also be working on new material with K.S.K.N.P.
Vinyl reissue of S.H.P. ~ Wounds Bathed In Piss Water on Malignant also a K.S.K.N.P. 7″. Physical releases of Pharoid and Caduceus albums on Steel Hook Recordings. Probably one or two I’m forgetting.