The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Monday, November 24, 2008

Take 5 With Matt "The Lord" Zane of Society 1

Following the departure of two of his Society 1 band members including face man guitarist Sin in a controversial move to Ministry, Matt "The Lord" Zane fell into a momentary despair. Having already embraced the role of antihero on the road with Society 1, Zane elevated his stature--literally--as a metal performer by embedding hooks into his flesh and singing while in suspension overtop the stage. Zane's most memorable live performance would be the Download Festival from a few years back, that was, until he recently broke Criss Angel's suspension feat at six-plus hours.

To that point, Matt Zane had been largely known as a rabid porn director and a fierce mongrel onstage who would just as soon dick with his audience as much as playfully spank their ladies' asses backstage. Times have changed and as the music industry has grown monstrously competitive since Society 1's original romp during the "nu-metal" phase of the late nineties, Zane has been forced to adapt. He has had to address the loss of a record label, the adversity of watching half of his band split on him and even an overall lack of enthusiasm for his creative passions.

Sit with Matt Zane for awhile and you'll get a brother who will talk gently and comradely--antithesis to his raucous stage persona--and you might come to the conclusion he's had to pay a dark penance for some of his previous' life's debaucheries. On the other hand, the times are slowly coming into a golden age for Matt Zane and Society 1 again. The band is reinforced with a new guitarist Eric Franklin and drummer SikRick, they have a download-only concert album Live and Raw available to their fans, much less a new studio album in progress, Sadist Messiah.

Zane has also returned to the bread-and-butter porn industry, which he has utilized to cross over heavy metal and sex in a video digest format, Radium, plus his other series Tattooed and Tight and Punk Your Ass. Society 1's calling card song "This Is the End" is hardly thus; one might say Matt Zane's second coming has only just begun...

MM: Some may see the art of suspension as sensual, some as gratifying, some may even see it as puritanical, but to me it reminds me of old native rites of passage where a male would submit himself to say, suspension from above the pectorals. Has the suspension art been a sort of rite of passage for your own being?

MZ: I don’t know; I would’ve answered this differently prior to my six-hour suspension. A lot of people talk about these experiences and having these revelations because they’ve suspended and they think they’re a step above the average human race because of the things that they’ve done. I have to say that from doing them it’s a very positive experience and it can lead to self-confidence and a better understanding of one’s own capabilities. I don’t necessarily think there’s that many spiritual experiences being had by people performing suspension unless they’ve really pushed their bodies to the limits as the Native Americans did. You’ve got to remember, those rituals I believe were done for days at a time with a shaman or some leader whispering stuff in the person’s ear as a passage into manhood. The Sun Dance, which was developed later, they used to dance around that pole with hooks in their chests until they ripped out and it was an offering of flesh. They actually had to perform that four years in a row! It was an offering to all directions, North, South, East and West. The Hindus used to use suspension and they would incorporate fasting—as well as Native Americans—and all of these various other things. So I think prior to my six-hour suspension I definitely had a sense of accomplishment and confidence and I guess awe for the mere fact that I was able to conceive and actually be able to commit myself to something and go through with it. But the six-hour suspension I think was definitely more along the lines of somewhat of a spiritual experience. I mean, at certain times I was having auditory hallucinations and forgetting where I was and perceiving the objective world very differently. It was almost as if a dream state and the objective world was crossing over each other, so on and so forth.

MM: I know you usually do some meditation prior to suspending, so I imagine you had to do even deeper meditation in order to prepare yourself for six hours!

MZ: There’s a video on my YouTube channel showing me a day prior to the suspension and I don’t really seem that nervous, and even ten minutes before I go up, for whatever reason I wasn’t very concerned about it. I don’t know why. It was something that didn’t really move me in a way that led me to being fearful of any of the experience. It wasn’t until I actually got into the situation and I hit the fourth hour that the reality of the situation started to set in, and that’s when the autograph sessions and pictures had to stop. I really couldn’t talk to people at that point; I had to really focus within myself and use all of my breathing and powers of the mind or the ability to meditate.

MM: When you talk about Society 1 existing to sort of create a new image for you outside of porn director, obviously the suspension act has become a large part of your public identity now. How do you feel about that?

MZ: It’s kind of interesting, because I really went from being the porn rocker guy to being the suspension rocker guy. It’s almost as if it was like I went to rehab and found religion, you know, it’s like I stopped doing drugs and started loving Jesus! That’s what happens with a lot of those people. With me, it was almost like I traded one for the other. There really wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision on my part, but it nevertheless became something very apparent and it’s very associated with who I am and what I do. I don’t mind talking about suspension and performing it, because if it was something I really wanted to get away from I would’ve stopped doing it after the first couple or even after Download. A lot of people didn’t think I’d ever do anything crazier than performing on four hooks during a whole set in front of 40,000 people, but opportunities arose and I managed to do a couple of different things to push it even farther. I don’t necessarily think that bothers me. I’m in a different spot in my life than I was back then. I guess ultimately back in the porn days I was just feeling somewhat apprehensive about being pigeonholed as one type of thing. Now that it’s been ten years I can openly say yes, I direct those films; it’s a part of who I am and I enjoy it. Yes, I sing in a band and yes perform suspension.

MM: Let’s talk about the title Sadist Messiah a minute. You’ve talked about people believing in and throwing themselves at a hypothetical messiah in many of Society 1’s songs, and I’m gathering that trend’s going to continue on this album?

MZ: Sadist Messiah is going to be more speaking about an abstract individual rather than a very specific person. It’s going to be talking about primarily the situation that was created for me in my life with the ex-guitar player and the agent and everything that happened, being let go by Earache, and all of these obstacles that were created and put onto me. In doing so, hopefully the way I’m perceiving it, these things were messengers in a sense, but they were teaching and showing telling me things through causing pain. So the Sadist Messiah is actually an abstract form of circumstances that kind of aligned themselves and you’re subjected to them to learn something and to be saved in a certain sense through emotional—and in my case physical—pain. Everything that happened was bad and you add to that a neck injury to the point where it got serious.

I don’t do drugs anymore, and I haven’t really said this publicly, but it got to the point where the pain was so bad I got actually addicted to a painkiller because of my condition in my neck, though I’m not on them anymore. When I got to that point I realized there had to be something wrong and I really pursued going to the doctor and x-rays and so on and so forth in order to find out what was wrong with me. You’ve got to imagine dealing with all of the psychological aspects that’s happening to you and then you have to deal with all the hassles happening to Society 1 and then all of the physical and subjective things that are happening because of the pain and all the outside things that are happening as well. You add all of those together and it was definitely a very interesting journey of which I hope to be on the tail end of now, and coming up for air to tell the tale. So the record really deals with a lot of that, with the people that I’ve dealt with and again also just reaffirming my lack of faith in God! (laughs) As well as the devil and the plague and the interaction between the two; I guess the opening track “On Earth as in Hell” really sets the mood for the entire record.

MM: The last time we talked, I got the impression the whole sexual part of your life was getting mundane to you. Now you have the Radium, Punk Your Ass and Tattooed and Tight series going, so that naturally leads to ask how much sex excites you these days. Given your tone, it sounds a lot better.

MZ: Yeah, I went back to the industry and I’d been out of it for six, seven years because I was doing that whole push with Society 1 and the industry is completely different than what it used to be. It’s turned into a whole different animal. One of the things that’s very different is there are so many girls you couldn’t shoot them all if you wanted to! There’s something that’s kind of exciting, and there’s a whole bunch of new faces, new people and it’s just kind of exciting to me again. Plus the opportunities that were presented to me in terms of the types of things I’ve been able to create is exciting as well. I’m not a total nympho or over-the-top with sex, but I’m not disgusted with it like I was towards the end of my last run.

Copyright 2008 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute


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