Florida by way of New Jersey grind quintet Bodies In The Gears Of Apparatus doesn't dish out the kind of brutality that, say, your average run-of-the-mill metal band might on a good night. That would be giving them away far too easily. Listening to the group's recently released Simian Hybrid Prototype and you get the impression that BITGOTA are almost amused with the kind of angst-ridden bile they're capable of spewing at listeners. There's a deranged recklessness- like the way a kid might torture a stuffed animal- that makes BITGOTA simply far too impassioned and captivating to place with the rest of the death/grind heap. 2005 is shaping up to be a big year for BITGOTA as Relapse is releasing a split EP between the group and Canadian death/metalcore nightmare Despised Icon in January, while the group has intense touring plans for the rest of the year in the works. I got a chance to sit down and chat with BITGOTA's mouthpiece, Josh Vitale, about the band's past, present, future.
Scene Point Blank: First, the basics: How did BITGOTA get together?
Josh Vitale: We got together in August 2002, looking to play old school grindcore mixed with the quirky grind of Human Remains, Brutal Truth, etc. However, mixing in our own shit of course.
SPB: What does your own shit consist of?
Josh: [Laughs] Well, we listen to a lot of atmospheric shit- and mind my spelling- Neurosis, as well as some stoner and crusty doom shit like eyehategod.
SPB: How do you guys try to incorporate all of these influences into your sound? Or do you try at all?
Josh: Well, those are just our influences, we just went out trying to be quirky, but not fucking retarded like most of the bands out now. I hate "nu" grind bullshit, and we've never been a part of that.
SPB: What is "nu" grind exactly?
Josh: Fucking crap like fashion-oriented bands that have five second blast beats. Kids who care more about their hair and belts than their music.
SPB: Are we talking about Daughters or The Locust now?
Josh: I always considered The Locust to be more of a power violence act, and Daughters is just 'nu' grind crap fucking shit. They both appeal to a wide variety of people, but a great deal of morons as well.
SPB: Well, metal's always kind of been like that, don't you think? A lot of other music, too, for that matter.
Josh: Yeah, the metal scene is just as close-minded and fashion-oriented as the punk and hardcore scenes. All of them have their uniforms and we never fit into any of their standards. So fuck 'em: if they don't like us cuz we're not pretty, or we don't have gauntlets...fuck them.
SPB: Is that why, as you told me earlier, you guys always have trouble fitting in at a lot of shows and festivals?
Josh: Yeah. We'll play metal shows, with evil ass fucking bands, and we'll get a good response, but an odd one at that. Same thing with hardcore/punk oriented shows. We just don't fit into their idea of what's cool.
SPB: Is that how the name came into play? "Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus". Are you guys trying to put something foreign (i.e. your music) into an otherwise well-oiled machine (i.e. hardcore or metal scenes)?
Josh: [Laughs] I think you're one of the first people who gets it. Our name, that is. Our name is taken from a speech actually, and it represents exactly that to us.
SPB: Whose speech is it taken from?
Josh: Mario Savio. I'm not too familiar with his background other than that he did most of his shit at Berkley and had a lot of radical views.
SPB: Cool, cool. So, is that basically what the name means to you?
Josh: The name, to me personally, means sticking up for your own thing, and not giving into so-called norms. However, it could mean something totally different to someone else. That's why i'm glad we got our name and not just some bowel movement.
SPB: [Laughs] "Obfuscated Digestive Tract"
Josh: Among others.
SPB: What sparked the move from New Jersey to Clearwater, FL?
Josh: It's cheaper to live as musicians here. I mean, the northeast is expensive as shit, and grindcore and death metal never paid our bills, so...shit, fuck it! We came to hick ass Florida.
SPB: Are grindcore and death metal paying your bills now in Florida?
Josh: Soon to be. We're not where we want to be yet, but I know we will be soon enough. And, hell, we all have back up plans.
SPB: Where do you guys want to be?
Josh: I can't give you exact numbers- but enough for our bills- we don't care about much else. We want this as a career, not a hobby.
SPB: How far do you feel like you are from reaching that kind of status?
Josh: In all honesty- less than a year. It doesn't take much to pay bills, you just need to keep touring and making new merch.
SPB: Speaking of which, I understand you guys have a new split with Despised Icon coming out on Relapse in January. How did you guys hook up with Despised Icon and Relapse?
Josh: Well, we owe it all to our friend Drew who heads the Mailorder Department at Relapse Records. He hooked us up with them, and then contacted Despised Icon about it, too. We're really excited about it and hope to tour to advertise it very soon.
SPB: How about the full-length that came out earlier this year, Simian Hybrid Prototype? Anything you'd like to say about it?
Josh: It's actually more or less our discography. We thought we were going to break up when we went through lineup changes, and released it on a whim. It's been pushed nicely and has been doing relatively well. It's all of our older shit from 2002, very crust influenced grindcore. Loud and painful [Laughs].
SPB: So where are you guys headed, stylistically-speaking, now?
Josh: Musically...more in a death metal-influenced direction without getting boring. We're keeping the quirky aspects of it and mixing it with politically fueled lyrics. A lot of fun, man.
SPB: That's something i really dug about BITGOTA when i first heard you guys: the music's really intense but i can tell that there's a sense of humor bubbling underneath (i.e. the Half Baked sample from "White Trash Whore", for example).
Josh: It's just pissed off shit, dude. We're mad at everything and a little sarcastic. Our older shit was more about degrading people, women, and so on...
SPB: [Laughs] Was that the impetus for the SOD cover? Do you guys really hate the Middle East?
Josh: Okay, I don't agree with that song, those lyrics or that band. My other dudes are all conservative for the most part, and I stick out like a sore thumb. But I'm the lucky dip shit with the mic, so...I got talked into it, basically. Well, not basically. I just did.
SPB: Conservative, politically-speaking?
Josh: Yeah, whereas I just hate it all: right-wingers, left-wingers, anarchists...they're all bullshit artists.
SPB: Ah, so now we know the REAL reason BITGOTA moved to Florida!
Josh: [Laughs] My band needed to be in a Bush state...nah, not really. I'm just happy I have the mic, like I said...
SPB: [Laughs] Or else your drummer would be yelling "Bush in '08"?
Josh: Basically, to be honest...
SPB: All right, moving on...how do you maintain your voice every night?
Josh: I drink a lot of tea and lemon on tour...and I can't afford to buy anything else besides cigarettes...so, basically a strong diet of tea and cigarettes.
SPB: Cool, cool. So, backing up a little bit- how did you first get into music and when did you start singing?
Josh: My dad plays in a glam rock band that was big in the eighties called Enuff Z'nuff. He gave me my first Napalm Death CD, Sepultura tape, and shit like that. I started using my mom's karaoke box thing, and started screaming into it around 13 and have been ever since. I love it to death.
SPB: I remember Enuff Z'nuff! How did you hook up with The Spew Records in Italy?
Josh: Once again, we have to thank drew from Relapse for helping introduce Giorgio and The Spew to us. They contacted us, and we just released our shit from there. That label has a great work ethic and has put out shit like Cock and Ball Torture and Leng Tch'e.
SPB: What do you guys have planned for the new year?
Josh: We'll be touring a lot to be honest. The west coast this spring and Europe this summer. We're looking forward to it.
Interview conducted by Jonathan.