Q&A with False Icons

False Icons will perform with Blackwater, The Teeth and Slave to the Kill at 10 p.m. March 1 at The Cell Block, 154 W. Third St. Doors open at 8 p.m.

The band features John Bechdel, who toured as a keyboard player with Fear Factory from 1998 to 2004 and became Ministry’s keyboardist in 2006, on guitar, vocals and keyboards; David Brown on bass and backing vocals, and Jon Hendershot on drums.

Hendershot will be doing double duty for the concert, as he also is the lead singer of Blackwater.

Recently, the Sun-Gazette chatted via email with Bechdel and Hendershot about False Icons, the upcoming show at The Cell Block and what was almost a real Mexican standoff.

MATTHEW PARRISH: What’s a False Icons show like?

JOHN BECHDEL: A False Icons show is primarily about the music, not many antics. We don’t wear make-up or costumes. It’s a live band with a lot of keyboards and programming. Many bands are either live or occasionally use programming, or all programming and a little bit live. Our sound is an equal mix of both.

MP: How would you describe the band’s music?

JB: We combine electronica with industrial rock to create our own sound, but there are a lot of influences from some of the bands I’ve been in, especially Killing Joke, which was my favorite band growing up.

JON HENDERSHOT: Coming from a more metal-hardcore music background, I like to think that I add a certain heaviness to the sound, adding an additional aspect to the music.

MP: Has the band performed at The Cell Block before?

JB: We played there once in the fall of 2005 for a Hurricane Katrina benefit. We had been wanting to do a show there, so it seemed like a good opportunity to play. It was on a weeknight and there weren’t a lot of people there. We couldn’t fit a projection screen on the stage so we had to put it to the side. It went okay. One woman recommended we play some covers, like Nine Inch Nails. I told her we’re not a cover band, but we do play one Killing Joke song.

MP: What do you think of The Cell Block as a venue?

JH: Growing up as an “underground musician,” playing at any random VFW or fire hall that would rent to a bunch of rowdy kids to play our music, a lot of the kids I spent time with frowned upon The Cell Block and similar places due to the clientele, and the “typical” bar bands playing there all the time. It just never seemed like a place that would have “our” kind of music there.

Luckily, however, The Cell Block is awesome enough to now be one of those places that lets us rowdy kids (now 20- to 30-somethings) perform on their stage once in a while.

MP: JH, you’ll be singing with Blackwater that night as well, right?

JH: Yes, I do vocals for Blackwater. We’ll be playing that night as well. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve had to pull double duty at a show (play with two different bands at the same show), but luckily I’m doing two different things in each of these bands – vocals in Blackwater and drums in False Icons. It should be a great time.

MP: Do you ever just randomly go into your Blackwater-scream-voice when you’re hanging out with your girlfriend?

JH: Honestly, I don’t know where my “Blackwater voice” comes from. The music starts and that’s what comes out. A number of people are shocked to hear it, since I’m generally pretty quiet otherwise.

MP: JB, do you ever get tired of talking about Ministry?

JB: Not really, I think that’s why I do it – so I can talk about it. Actually, touring has a lot of down-time and the travel can take a toll. We joke about how people think we’re “living the dream,” but often it doesn’t feel that way – when a tour bus breaks down, or the septic tank backs up or stops working, getting woken up at dawn at a border checkpoint with sniffer-dogs in your face and customs agents searching through your belongings, or having to fly with all the gear and dealing with post-9/11 airport security screening.

That said, there are those brief moments when we’re on stage and you kind of realize, “Wow, I’m on stage with Ministry playing next to Al Jourgensen, Joey Jordison and Mike Scaccia … among some of the best players on the planet, doing what I love and what I’ve worked for my whole life.” Those moments are short but extremely powerful and make dealing with all the other stuff worthwhile.

MP: Any crazy stories from the road?

JB: Once, we (Ministry) were in San Antonio. We had just started a tour and we did a few shows, so everyone was starting to relax a bit. Al wanted to go get a drink, so we all walked down the street to the nearest bar. We didn’t quite realize it was Cinco de Mayo. The place was a Mexican bar filled with a lot of Mexican couples with big hats dancing to traditional Mexican music. We just stormed in, Al first. They tried to stop us, saying “No gangs, no gangs,” but Mikey was already at the bar ordering ton of drinks. At first, the bartender thought he was ordering for all of us, but Mikey was just ordering for himself. They realized then that if nothing else, they were going to make a lot of money. At that point, the DJ realized who we were and started playing New Order for some reason. All the dancing stopped and everyone started staring at us like, “Who the heck are these people and what happened to the music?” I was bit worried, but just then, Al went out onto the dance floor and started dancing to Depeche Mode (an image I will never forget) and some of the crew guys went out and started break-dancing. I guess that was the ice-breaker, because, suddenly, this Mexican guy in a big cowboy hat was came up to us and said, “My name is Armondo and you should dance with my wife.” Soon, the DJ went back to the traditional music and everyone had a great time.

MP: Why should people come out to the False Icons show at The Cell Block?

JB: …it’s a great chance for locals to come out and hear and see something very unique. Also, industrial and electronic music can rarely be found in this area, so, it would be a good chance to experience it without having to travel further to a larger city.

For more information about the band, visit www.facebook.com/falseicons.