Interview With Big Time Kill - "We’ve evolved with each album to be more blatantly electronic"
Boston electropunk duo Adam Schneider and Ben Caccia began their journey into the music world together back in 2014 as a series of experiments with computer-processed guitar techniques, and thus Big Time Kill was born. Drawing influences from post-punk, industrial, and alt-rock where they add funky and hook driven synths to the mix to give their unique sound.
Big Time Kill self-produce all their music and videos, and those that have had the pleasure to see them perform live know that they give an energetic performance indeed, a guitar wielding duo alongside a audio visual onslaught of synchronized lights and triggered samples.
The group has previously released 2 EPs, the 2018 full-length album Shock and
Awe, and a variety of singles. They’ve also contributed official remixes for a number
of electro-industrial acts such as HEALTH, Assemblage 23, Panic Lift, Night Club,
Interface, The Gothsicles, MORIS BLAK, and Rabbit Junk.
Their recently released EP Recovery is a genre-twisting collection of songs exploring existential anxiety. The album’s four tracks blend into a fever dream of melodic pop-influenced hooks, chaotic synths, orchestral flourishes, and mangled post-punk guitars.
A chat with Adam and Ben has been long overdue, and so the unscene finally caught up with them both to delve into their craft...
Q. Hello and welcome both to Goth-Ick/ unscene.
Hey, thanks for having us!
Q. Your new E.P. Recovery has recently been released. How did this project come together and is there a specific theme(s) behind it?
We never write with a theme in mind, but there’s usually some kind of subconscious thread we find that ties all the songs together in the end. The songs are all written with a focus on each individual track in isolation without thinking about the bigger picture usually. It’s a bit like working on a small section of a large abstract painting. Once we finish that section, we need to step back and look at the whole and derive the meaning from it, looking for connections between each individual piece. In the case of the Recovery EP, spending a year in isolation due to the pandemic led to reflection on a lot of things about the world and ourselves, and the album ultimately is about accepting yourself and that it’s okay to feel like you’re different or outside the norm.
Q. You have such an iconic sound indeed, mixing electro, guitars and funk sounds. How did BTK form and become what it is today?
Ben and I have been friends since college and have done various music projects together for a while. Back in the early 2010’s I moved up to Massachusetts after being in New York for a few years, and started talking with Ben about ideas I had for starting a duo. Initially we focused a lot on how we could do things differently, like process and glitch out guitars to make wild new sounds or use sequenced lights in place of a live drummer. A lot of our early releases were in the mindset of being a guitar rock band that is enhanced by technology, kind of like how Big Black used a drum machine to give them a unique sound. I think we’ve evolved with each album to be more blatantly electronic and “production forward” with our tracks, which lets us pull from a lot more genres and be more playful with our ideas.
Q. What are you listening to outside the Goth Industrial scene that influences your style?
Lately some of the acts we’ve been listening to a lot are stuff like Sparks, Jamiroquai, Run the Jewels, Algiers, The Presets, Steven Wilson, and Clipping. As far as bands that directly influenced our style, I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say NIN, but it was more acts like Devo, Peter Gabriel, Faith No More, and Roxy Music. I always kind of gravitate towards weirdo art rock that likes to experiment, but has strong melodic songwriting skills at their core.
Q. How do you divide the songwriting between you both? Do you each have a specific role throughout the process?
Adam: I usually kick ideas over to Ben and get his feedback on things pretty early on when a track is really rough, just to see if it has any legs. I’ll construct the basic outline of the song, and then when it’s starting to come together pass it over to Ben who lays down his ideas, which in turn influence my ideas and how I approach the song. It’s kind of like a game of tag where we go back and forth.
Ben: Once I receive the sketched track with its initial form I get to work laying down different instrumentation to enhance the arrangement. This can be guitars, synths, transition sounds, and other sound design elements. I recall recording a blender at a bar once, sending it to Adam, and it eventually ended up being used in a track as a layer. I tend to air on the side of giving far too much material and over producing. I then rely on Adam to pair it down or edit it creatively.
Q. Album Vs E.P. Vs Single. What do you think works best for you?
We both really enjoy the album format, but the way people discover and listen to music in 2021 definitely seems to reward releasing singles. We’ve released 3 EPs at this point and I think they’re a happy middle ground. With the EP format you’re not forced to stay within the same creative bubble for an extended period of time, so you’re more free to change the creative direction at will, but it also provides more substance than just a lone single. In the end I think each format has its own benefits, and we’ll continue releasing a mix of singles, EPs, and LPs.
Q. Adam, you work for a video gaming company, does this influence any of your sound or lyrics, and have you considered doing any soundtrack work for games at all?
I’ve actually already done soundtrack work! I did most of the music for the XCOM Legacy Soundtrack that was released with an XCOM expansion a few years ago, and before that I got to do the soundtrack for a Nintendo DS version of a Transformers game. In both cases I got to really lean into my industrial and electronic influences, so it was a lot of fun. Most of what I do in games is sound design, and I think that’s indirectly influenced by my music work and vice versa. The tools and techniques I use to design a huge laser gun blast are similar to how I produce a big kick or snare drum, but it’s just done in a different context.
Q. Over the last year with shows being cancelled due to Covid-19 how have you coped as a band in that aspect, and now with things starting to open up a little more do you have any plans for any live shows in the near future?
We already do all of our songwriting and collaboration online, so none of that actually changed. What changed the most was just the stress of the situation the world was in. There was definitely a period of time near the beginning of the pandemic where we just put all music work on hold to prioritize focusing on our health and families. Now that we’re seeing things open up more, we’re cautiously optimistic about planning for live shows, while still focusing a lot on recording and releasing more material.
Q. You have played at a few Goth-Ick/ unscene shows over the years, which one sticks out in your mind more than the others?
The show we did with Pop Will Eat Itself, Stoneburner, and The Gothsicles was great! It was just such a fun and solid lineup from top to bottom, and PWEI’s unique sound is so inspiring to me, so it was surreal getting to play with them.
Q. We at the unscene bumped into you at Weird Al Yankovic's Strings Attached tour when it came to Boston in 2019. So, if Yankovic contacted you to ask if he could parody one of your songs which one would it be and how do you think he would change it to fit his style?
That was such a killer show! Weird Al was what pulled me into music initially as a kid, and I honestly probably wouldn’t be doing music today if it wasn’t for him. In classic Weird Al style it’d probably be food related, so maybe he’d turn our song Hush into Mush or something.
Q. Many thanks for taking the time to chat with us, over to you for any final words you wish to share...
Thanks again for having us! We’re looking forward to when things open up and we can play Providence again, it’s always a great time!
You can purchase the Recovery EP and BTK's back catalog from their Bandcamp page:
And be sure to check out Big Time Kill's social media platforms and official website: