dIStOrT tHe wOrLd – An interview with Dan Stewart


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(This interview appeared in Unbelievably Bad magazine)

It’s hard not to be a hagiographic cunt when interviewing someone like Dan Stewart. This interview has been at least a year in the making. It was slow going because he was studying full time, working full time, singing and playing in three killer bands, putting out the most excellent zine Distort, and smearing all over the motherfuckin’ world. I received emails from him in Poland, whilst on tour in Copenhagen and from the shitter in Melbourne. Social capital anyone?

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Which conspiracy theory is floating your boat at present? Y’know which one puts the lead in your pencil or the feather in your cap?

I haven’t paid much attention to the vogue in paranoia: government corruption and corporate dominance, nanotechnology and mind control, secret societies and death cults. It became overwhelming how much misinformation and poor research one had to wade through to get to something that seemed barely reasonable, which I think was the key to it all, one had to leave reason behind and dive in with the alfoil wrapped tight around the head. Conspiracy theories attracted the irrational and insane of my mind, attempting to find a reference and framework for why the world is so fucked, or they are a very funny and enlightening insight into the need to believe in “something”… but personally they don’t provide anything beyond that, and I needed something more. It became as self-defeating as the anarcho-commie propaganda I devoured as a teenager.

I’m still firmly behind the irrational and insane minds, but I think attempting to systematize and understand conspiracies is useless to me. I got a kick out of how Psy broke the world record of YouTube hits on Dec 21 2012. The most notable event of the day!

My interests now lay in the history of philosophy from outside the academy and institutions, and studying how the development of technology has affected mental stability and tact. I’m big into tact and manners and how they relate to crime and the law.

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Does that mean that when getting pinched you shouldn’t call the arresting officer a cunt and offer to suck his prick? A bit of a stab in the dark perhaps, but maybe you could explain how tact and manners relate to crime and law? (By the way, I was shattered when there was no societal upheaval on 21/12/12)

I wrote that poorly, it would be better to say that I’m interested in tact because it’s law everyone knows about but it’s not really written or explained. I’d probably have expressed this better if we didn’t start this interview while I was drunk in Copenhagen. But I shouldn’t have explained that, and you shouldn’t have asked.

I reckon when you’re getting pinched keeping your mouth shut is a good idea.

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Many moons ago we had a chat about hallucinogens, I believe it was a rainy day on Bourke Street. Trams trundled past and people rushed around under their umbrellas as we chatted about LSD and psylocibin. If I recall correctly, you expressed a desire to try DMT. Why do you like the Kinks so much?

Nicely done smearing of two disparate points. The Kinks: they are far from being my FAVOURITE band, or the best band ever, or anything like that. I wrote a little about this in the most recent issue, but I had a profoundly effecting period of mental instability when I was reading a lot of Nietszche and Heidegger and listening to The Kinks obsessively. Something about the fragility of Ray Davies was infectious, and I found myself reading too much into their songs. I wrote about them to break through this cold grip. It could have easily been the Velvet Underground or Death In June or Scott Walker or Nico at the time, I’m an obsessive and my obsessions careen into one another and take hold in their own way to drag me through the dirt or raise me unto the highest hope. It just happened that at the time I needed to exorcise, this was what was fucking me up most!

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I thoroughly enjoyed your zine “Life stinks I love the Kinks” – completely unexpected and very refreshing. I learnt from that publication that the Kinks were the first band to use distortion by cutting a hole in a speaker. What is your favourite hallucinogen?

Hallucinogens: ha, this was quite a conversation. At the time I was still intrigued with LSD, but since I’ve had a few bad trips and it’s all about mushrooms. I’m wary of DMT. I learnt the hard way that hallucinogens are best taken communally, and mushrooms seem to work best in this respect. I’m all about sharing. I live to give.

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A wise man once said “Obsession is a by-product of being passionate about something” What are you obsessed about these days? The wise man was me by the way.

Wise words from a wise man. Right now, I’m obsessed with getting high and watching Trailer Park Boys, reading Susan Sontag, Yukio Mishima, the list goes on, Drew, 2014 obsessions:
Backgammon, Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers, Dusty Springfield,
Jean Genet, Pink Fairies Kings Of Oblivion, Nico, Emil Cioran,
the New York hardcore scene past and present, Death In June,
Marc Bolan and T Rex, Low Life and the incredible Dogging LP,
CCR, Pan Sonic’s live record from this year and most back catalogue, the John Cale record Paris 1919, the Burial record from last year called Rival Dealer, a dice game called Cleveland 3s, Copenhagen, Withnail & I, that film that just came out called The Drop, Georges Bataille, a Helmut Newton photo shoot with Natassja Kinski, most any record coming out on Posh Isolation, Cool Death or Toxic State…

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What is the current line up in your band, who are your influences and what is the CRAZIEST gig you have eva played? Only joking! That’s one of the things I like about Distort – you don’t ask the stock standard band interview questions that are about as exciting as watching two dogs root. If Straightjacket Nation were a novel which one would it be and why?

Crime and Punishment. I started it ten years ago, I still haven’t finished it because it’s harrowing and I’m terrified that it’s the absolute pinnacle of literature / experience and once it’s over, I’ll disintegrate.

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When I first read Distort in Melbourne I was blown away – the content and professionalism of the writing really stood out. I thought; here is a man teetering on the brink of madness. What are your future plans for Distort?

I will hammer at it. I have no good reason to stop doing it, aside from the teetering into madness you identified correctly. As long as I’m writing I’ll be publishing, and I’m fortunate to have an audience comfortable with the fluidity of Distort. Future plans are to continue writing about underground music in Distort without ever aligning it with any coherent “scene”, retain a confrontational voice without being domineering or self-congratulatory, have a laugh have a say mate oi oi. Hostility to academia and commerce and the like. Release good records by good bands. Live fast DIE.

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I notice that you still produce Distort the ‘old fashioned way’ – cut n paste, photocopies etc. This is obviously a deliberate choice and a lot more labour intensive than Photoshop. What is behind these Luddite tendencies?

Force of habit streamlines work process. There’s nothing Luddite about it, really: I write it on a computer and print it out on a printer and scan it with a scanner. I don’t think it’s very old fashioned at all. It’s the most modern magazine out. Buy it today.

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Do you think subculture is still relevant in the internet age or has it just become another device which companies can use to market their products to automatons?

I haven’t thought much about subculture, or counter-culture, since I was a teenager, so I’d say it’s irrelevant to me, on the better side of 30. I think subculture has always been a marketing device. Counter-culture is war against the state and popular culture. Anything less is the compromise of careerist artists attempting to find a niche, like Distort. I could write about the internet for a while. Ask me some more questions about the internet Drew.

Alright fruitcake, I’ll ask ya some fuckin’ questions about the motherfuckin’ internet.

What are your thoughts on Social Media and how it affects the way we communicate and relate to one another?
I avoid social media. Most everyone I meet suffers from social anxiety in 2015. The link between this experience of anxiety and use of social media is strong enough to make me wary. I don’t mind vanity platforms like Instagram, but ultimately I’m disinterested in networking or connecting online. I am socially competent. I like real world conversations. I’m living in a material world and I am a material girl.

Are you a fan of Goatse?
Not a fan.
(Head over to and judge for yourselves kids!)

Have you bought drugs off the darknet – and if ‘no’ why the fuck not?
I haven’t. I don’t trust.
(Use multi-sig for transactions and encrypt your messages and you will be fine kids!)

Do you think that Oculus Rift has the potential to turn the web into a real cyber-space ala Neuromancer?
You are a level far beyond me Drew. Oculus Rift has no resonance with me.

Do you think crypto-currency will be the money of the future?

Crypto currency is the money of 2015. I can’t see anyone making the move back toward gold standard. When it comes to questions of finance or the economy, I’m fucked.

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Let’s just say that you are sitting at home one day when a naked maniac sporting a full erection and a Walther P38 pistol bursts into your room and presses the gun to your head. He forces you to make a choice, Total Control or UV Race. Which band would you choose?

I would take a bullet before selling out my bandmates to a naked maniac sporting a full erection.
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By your estimate, who are the Australian bands to watch in 2015? (You can leave out Low Life – genius cunts)

Power, Brando’s Island, Orion, RIP FKR, Triple O, Dez 3k, Oilyz, Backstabbers, Liam Osbourne, Cooper Bowman, Ms. Dez, Prag, Police Dogs, G.O.R.E., Nicky Crane, Simfuckers, Total Last Chaos Attack, M.O.B., Royal Headache, TOMMY T & HIS MATES, Soma Coma, Hyperspace Vision, Dracula Tarot etc., Teuton, etc.

And finally…Beatles or The Stones?