Music

Com Truise Has Seen Blade Runner 300 Times, Will Out Sci-Fi Your Ass

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Seth Haley has long been mesmerized by how people in the past once processed the future. As Com Truise (one of many musical aliases used by the 20-something from Princeton, NJ), Haley maps out “mid-fi, synth-wave, slow-motion funk” (his words) that’s deeply smitten with science-fiction-heavy storytelling, sounds, and visuals that emulate aesthetics from the 1980s and, to a lesser extent, the 1970s and 1990s. His 2011 record Galactic Melt houses a plot that roughly follows the world’s first android astronaut making his initial trip to space, with technobabble-fixated, futuristic-sounding titles–“Terminal,” “Air Cal,” “Flightwave,” “Hyperlips”–augmenting the scenery. Melt is really one of those instances where you have to keep your senses prepped for minor story cues ahead of time for them to count (there’s no way to trace it otherwise), but they do work well to flesh out the synthetic scenery when you hear about ’em. If you have any doubts regarding Haley’s deep allegiance to the works in the genre from the Reagan years, you have any number of items for proof: Com Truise’s palette of stargazing synths, the tripped-out geometry of Galactic Melt‘s cover art, or the Terminator-goes-gangster-noir clip for that record’s “Brokendate.”

Unsurprisingly, Haley is a devout sci-fi geek. In a 2011 interview with Digital in Berlin, one of the facts he shared about himself was “I watch Blade Runner once a week,” which is pretty much all the reason we needed to chat with him about such subjects. Before Com Truise participates in a New Year’s Eve show alongside RJD2 and Chrome Sparks at Gramercy Theatre on Monday night, the enthusiast of THX-1138, Neuromancer, Philip K. Dick, Boards of Canada, and Gary Numan shares his thoughts on the recent Alien prequel, where he stands on the critical Star Trek versus Star Wars issue, and how long he plans on scratching this niche.

What attracted you to science
fiction in the first place, and what’s kept you attached to it after
all these years?
I think sometimes you’re automatically born with something that you can’t really explain. I’ve always been into computers from growing up and stuff like that. I lived in a small town, and my best friend got a computer a long time ago. We didn’t have a computer as a family [until] a
couple of years after he did so I would always go over to his house and come play on his computer. I just got really into computers that
way, and when we finally got our own, you could barely get me off the
thing. I think just doing that kind of stuff got me into science
fiction for the most part.

I can just
remember seeing movies on TV like Alien and
Terminator and stuff
like that, and I felt like that was me. That was something that I
could really relate to for the most part, as it made me feel normal
to like, you know what I mean? I never had a problem with telling
people science fiction is my favorite genre. The exact moment when it
started, I’m not sure. When I first really got into music, the first
band I ever really loved was Nine Inch Nails. I consider it
industrial kind of music. The sounds in that music and the
correlation between the sounds in those types of films connected
themselves, and I just was automatically drawn towards it from
listening to that kind of music. I can’t really pinpoint what got me
into it, [but it involved] watching films and playing Nintendo. We
had this NASA game. I don’t remember the exact title of it. It might
be in the house somewhere. It’s literally the hardest game ever.

It
was a strategy game for the first Nintendo system. I don’t know if it
was NASA, but it was a space shuttle game. When I think back, it was
the most boring game probably ever, but for some reason, I loved it.
I don’t think I ever made it past, like, level five. The shuttle
would launch and you had to do all the pitching and rolling. You had
all these lines that would go across the screen; you had to stop
exactly in the middle, but they were moving so fast. It was not fair,
but it just kept me sucked in ’cause I always wanted to get further
and see what the game was all about, but you always had to do all
that space shuttle stuff. I can’t remember the exact title.

Was
it
Space Shuttle Project?
Hmm.
I’d have to look it up and look at the actual cover for the game.

I
read one interview with you in which you said that you watch
Blade
Runner
once a week. Then, I read
a later source that mentioned you no longer do that. Which is
accurate now? Do you still watch it pretty often or is it more
sparing?
It’s
more sparing. I actually was having this conversation this past
Friday with a bunch of friends. We were playing poker and just
talking about science fiction movies and trilogies and stuff like
that and the pitfalls of keeping a franchise like that going. When I
was writing Galactic Melt and
[Com Truise’s 2010 EP] Cyanide Sisters
is when I first really got into Blade Runner
because I had never seen it. I probably walked past it a million
times in the movie shop and I was just like, ‘Ah, Harrison Ford. Ehh,
I’m not so interested.’ Didn’t really like the font very much. It was
just judging the book by its cover. I didn’t see it until I was 23,
22 maybe. I had seen it all my life, but for some reason, I never
caught it on television or anything like that. I was just not
interested at all.

Then,
one day I was low on movie selections, and it was a buy one, get one
[offer], so I was like, ‘Hell, we’ll give it a try.’ I went home and
I watched it. I just about punched myself in the face. I was like,
‘Why did I wait so damn long to get into this movie?’ Then, I went
berserk and watched it nonstop–at least three times a week when I
was writing the music. Every time I watched it, I felt like I saw
something different. Sometimes, I rewatch movies a lot, just because
you focus on the actors and stuff like that, and you kind of miss
what’s going on in the background, so I always felt like I would see
some different piece of technology or look off in the corners when I
watch the movie more than straightforward into the camera. I would
just notice things. I think I could watch it now and still see
something that I haven’t totally thought about in the movie. It’s a
fairly deep movie, but in the end, it’s a film. I think what really
made me so susceptible to it was sound design alone. You could turn
the movie off without the picture and just listen to the sound design
and the dialogue and the music, and it’s just beautiful. And then
[there’s] just the smoky quality the whole movie has. I love the
tint, the cinematography. It’s probably my number one movie.

But
I remember saying that in that interview that I don’t watch it as
much anymore just because I’m not really home and I don’t really
watch movies on the road because any moment I’m trying to get sleep
or just relax. Back to this Friday, I was just thinking with some of
my friends, ‘All the stuff that used to inspire me, I don’t really
watch anymore.’ YouTube alone, I used to surf and look at the B
science fiction movies that are hard to acquire, and I would just
download the trailers off of YouTube and rip sounds out of ’em and
mangle ’em up and put ’em in songs. They didn’t sound anything like what
you would expect as far as sampling goes, but I don’t really do that
anymore. Then, I woke up Saturday morning and did some Christmas
shopping, but the whole time, I couldn’t wait to get home and get
back into things I used to, so I think I’ll probably watch Blade
Runner
tonight.

How
many times would you say you’ve watched
Blade Runner
overall if you had to guess?
Probably
at least 250 times, 300. I lived by myself in New Jersey before I
started touring. I was probably working on music for about a year and
a half before I quit my job in advertising and went out and did this
stuff. I was on the rocks with my girlfriend so I was just staying at
home and eating frozen pizza and watching Blade Runner
nonstop. I bought the original
edition, and then I went back out and bought the special edition with
the little briefcase with all the little trinkets in there–the
hologram cards and stuff. Once I got that, I had the five-disc set,
so I’d watch all the versions over again, back and forth. I would
watch the documentary-type stuff in there. Just for fun, I would
watch the made-for-TV version that has the voiceover stuff from
Harrison Ford. It’s terrible, but I would watch it. It felt
different, you know? I feel like I burned myself out on it, but I
think I’m finally ready to get back.

I don’t remember the last
DVD I purchased. I kind of miss it, but at the same time, it’s less
stuff to carry around. But I think what I have in my collection will
hopefully stay with me forever and if I have a family someday, I’ll give it
to my kids and say, ‘These are some movies you’ve definitely gotta
watch. If you don’t like ’em, that’s fine, but this is what your dad
was into,’ you know what I mean?