If you don’t already know about Pink Reason, I’m not sure this little intro paragraph will do anything to really explain it. It was the work of a guy named Kevin Debroux, who sometimes used it to be a punk band, an acoustic solo project, an electronic experiment, the worst live show you ever saw, the best record you heard all year, or whatever else he decided it should be. Recently, he decided to put an end to Pink Reason, and I reached out to get his thoughts on the Pink Reason past, and his musical future (which includes his DJ collective and recording project found at patternwreckcognition.org). May every musician strive to be this passionate, intense and non-boring!

When Pink Reason first started, what were you aspiring to? Multiple albums and tours, a demo to share with friends, something in-between?
Originally the idea was to record an album, which was to be titled “Cleaning the Mirror”, and then take my life. I’m aware of how silly that sounds, but that’s the truth.

How old were you at that time? Did you tell other people about this plan, or was it more of a secret?
I was in my early twenties. I dunno if I’d laid out the plan for anyone in so many words, but I’d guess my closest friends and bandmates had an idea. I wanted the cover to look like Damaged, only with a gun instead of a fist. We’d all constantly make jokes about our own mortality. There was a lot of madness and death around us. I just saw all those guys last month. We’re all scattered now, but we came together back home in Green Bay since our buddy Shawn Failure was in visiting from China for the first time in five years, and it was beautiful. I felt pride seeing them.

Do you look back on your early twenties with regret or embarrassment at all?
Nah… like Shawn used to say, “punk means never having to say you’re sorry.” I think I did the best I could considering the circumstances. Back then my mother used to tell me regularly that I needed to leave the area for somewhere more urban and progressive. Easier said than done. Maybe you can understand this coming from Allentown (I assume), but, I come from somewhere with very few opportunities, especially for someone like me. There are certainly some isolated incidents I am not proud of, but I have always been very proud of what I was doing musically back then. Even when I was doing it, I felt it was special, personally, and I thought some people would find value in it, though few did there, then. I always assumed it would be something that would be discovered and appreciated by a small group of people after I was gone.

How much do you think becoming a father plays in all of this, from reminiscing about your wild early twenties to putting Pink Reason to rest entirely? Was it a profound change, or just a new life adjustment?
It’s a pretty profound change, but I don’t know if it’d be fair to hang my decision to end the project on my kid. If anything, having a child has made me take making music even more seriously than I had for years. I feel pretty lucky to have made the family I have, because I’ve seen in others how having children can extinguish the flame of creativity by force. Booking shows “professionally”, I have to hear from people all the time about why they have to cancel something last minute, or why they can’t play a show that’s perfect for them, and it’s always because of work or kids. I believe it’s possible, although not easy, to be both a good parent and retain who you are in the process. I didn’t end Pink Reason to slow down, I felt that Pink Reason was holding me back.

I know what you mean – when you have a kid, your spare time becomes more precious, so you make it count. What was Pink Reason holding you back from? From an outsider’s perspective, it didn’t seem like too demanding of a project, more like something you did when you wanted.
I can see how it might seem that way, especially with some of the gaps between records and such, but it never has felt that way for me. It’s been quite the opposite the whole way through. That’s largely the reason I’ve burned through so many bandmates. For me, personally, I’ve always felt that my relationship with the project bordered on obsession. I’m aware many people would guess the opposite, but I’ve always been pretty particular about what I’ve been trying to do with the band. It’s so intensely linked to myself, and who I am, or at least who I have been, that it’s forever impossible to find people who will sustain the commitment to the project I feel I do.

It’s interesting you say that, because I have heard so many different people comment on Pink Reason live along the lines of “I’ve seen them play some of the worst shows of all time, but when they are great they are really great”. Is that something you’re aware of? I’ve always admired your willingness to do things that most people might think really suck, to dare to fail, maybe.
I have heard that before! I don’t even necessarily disagree, but who knows if I see eye to eye with people on which shows were good and which were not. For me the project has always been about brute force reality. I don’t personally care much, at least in the abstract, for bands that hit their mark every single time. That may sound like a cop out, and hell, maybe it is… I’m not a real musician. I’m not a professional. I’m a conduit. I used to work with a drummer who would nod out mid song, regularly. I know a lot of people didn’t care for that lineup, it was pretty damaged, but in fact, I was going for a totally damaged sound with that lineup, and his drumming reminded me of my own on Cleaning The Mirror. I don’t even really know what people expect from our live performances because different people like different things about the band. Some people hate Cleaning The Mirror and only like the singles. Some people dislike the singles and only like Cleaning The Mirror. I heard some real serious complaints about the first song on Shit In The Garden, but I guess those people weren’t aware that the second Pink Reason release were tracks on a breakcore compilation. One of the Pink Reason tracks I rapped on; the other was digital hardcore.
It took years, literally, before virtually anyone liked Pink Reason live. When I told people back home in Wisconsin that someone was putting out a Pink Reason LP, people straight up called me a liar. I’m not being dramatic for effect. That happened.
I feel the success of a performance is determined by the energy and my own subjective experience. If I enjoy myself, it’s a success. If I’m pissed off or depressed afterward, it was not. I’ve found most often strangers and acquaintances will want to talk to me most after the performances I’ve been upset with, yet when a show is successful, it’s usually my bandmates who wanna talk and hang out. There are of course exceptions, but that’s been my general observation.

Speaking of success, it seems safe to say that Cleaning The Mirror is going down as one of the best underground rock records of the ’00s in the eyes of a large number of people. Surely you are affected by its praise somehow, right? Did that affect the way you approached Shit In the Garden?
I am grateful for whatever impact Cleaning The Mirror has made. From a creative standpoint, however, my relationship with the album is a bit more complicated. Shortly after it was released I came to the realisation that in some way, Pink Reason was radically altered by its release and reception on a fundamental level. To involve others in the way I did on Shit In The Garden seemed the natural course. It wasn’t the approach that was different so much as the circumstances. I think that’s audible in the songs and recording, as it should be.

How was Pink Reason altered by the release of Cleaning The Mirror, can you explain that? Why did involving others on your second album seem natural?
It’s simple observer effect. Developing any kind of audience altered my own personal circumstances which in turn affected the project. When I was recording Cleaning The Mirror, and it was assembled with recordings that spanned a few years, I was isolated. That changed to a large extent when that album was released, however, and one result was the opportunity to collaborate with new people, and I took advantage of that opportunity because I enjoy making music with people. It’s not as if I had been working alone on purpose.

I know you are looking back at Pink Reason in a generally positive light, but is there anything you wish you did that you never got a chance to? Any tours you regrettably had to say no to, songs you meant to record that never ended up anywhere, people you wanted to punch but didn’t?
I have regrets, of course, and shit I have to carry with me that’s uncomfortable. I guess that’s life though, and this has been my life for the past ten years. Brendon Annesley and I were working on another Australian tour for Pink Reason when he left us, and that’s been one of the most difficult and painful things I’ve had to deal with through this project, is getting to know, and then losing him.

I feel like historically, Pink Reason will be placed in the second-wave Siltbreeze resurgence of great underground bands… does that feel alright to you? Do you feel any sort of camaraderie with the other bands Siltbreeze was putting out around 2007-09, like say Ex-Cocaine, Eat Skull, Sic Alps, Psychedelic Horseshit, Factums, etc.?
Psychedelic Horseshit are some of my closest friends and collaborators, and I’m buddies with some of the others you mentioned, so I I’m proud to be associated with them, but I could say the same about the scene back home where I came from, with bands like Hue Blanc’s Joyless Ones, The Jaguar and Teen Anal Terrorist who I also played with extensively, am very close with personally and have shared fluid membership with, or the scene in New York with bands like Pop. 1280, Modra, Twin Stumps, Drunkdriver etc… I guess Siltbreeze is known for releasing things that resist easy classification, so in that way I feel a part of that lineage, but I also hope that my music holds up for people outside of that context.

Is there anything Pink Reason did during its career, that you felt like people really missed? Like a particular song, or live show, or record or whatever, that you personally thought was fantastic that didn’t get the reaction you thought it deserved? Or vice versa: anything you did that you thought was so-so, that people absolutely loved?
I was disappointed with the general lack of interest in Shit In The Garden. It was difficult to get that record reviewed even. I guess I should be grateful I even had the opportunity to release it though. People are fickle, and I think Cleaning The Mirror was released at the right time to have gotten the attention it did. I guess that was just dumb luck, mostly. I can pretend there was talent and songwriting involved, but if that’s what is key, why does so much great music go unheard? There were a couple, I guess “catchier” songs I wrote early on that had the effect of annoying me somewhat, because I felt like there was something obvious about something being catchy, so when someone would tell me they liked those songs best, I felt they were somehow insulting other things I was doing, because I didn’t feel as emotionally attached to the songs. As I was attempting to write something catchy, it wasn’t catharsis. It wasn’t automatic. Early on I was interested in drawing in listeners by making the music hypnotic. Now, I guess I don’t have any problem with something being catchy, and I don’t think something is inherently weak or hollow because it is, but I had to work through hangups I got growing up in hardcore.

Now that the Pink Reason name is retired, what’s next? Are you focusing your efforts on your label, Savage Quality?
I got a few things coming up with Savage Quality that I’m pretty excited about. You should expect vinyl debuts from Glacial23 and The American Jobs in 2014. I’m still making music as well. I’ve feel I’ve been getting more accomplished now that I’m moving on from Pink Reason, actually. I have many creative outlets outside of that project, and I feel liberated to a large degree since when I released that first 7″, it was what I considered to be a posthumous release. The project was over, and I had finally saved up enough money to do a 7″, so that was it. I’d closed the book on it. If Tom Lax would not have offered to do the LP, nobody would have ever heard anything more. At that time I was booking primarily electronic shows, playing in an experimental/industrial project, participating in weekly rap battles and that kinda thing. Last winter some friends and I started a group called Pattern Wreck Cognition, and we put together events called Future Maudit that bring together experimental video artists and DIY live experimental techno/industrial musicians. I’ve been pretty excited about that. They’re aesthetic is very dystopian and psychedelic. That’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve been doing lately. In January we’re doing our first all-night event at a warehouse in Indiana. It’s gonna be called Snow Crash and it’s an extension of Future Maudit, and like those events, it’s going to feature musicians and video artists from all over the midwest. I’ve also started taking DJing more seriously the past couple of years, and have been doing more of that lately.

What kind of music are you DJing? Are you DJing in a sense of providing a live mix with continuous music, or more of a “playing songs in a row” sort of setup?
Depends what’s going on. I spin stuff at punk shows, and do a semi-regular goth/industrial night, but I have the most fun spinning electronic stuff. I DJed a breakcore/speedcore party in Cincinnati that was a lot of fun not too long ago, and I’m about to go to Lafayette soon, where I’m probably gonna be spinning a lot of industrial, EBM, minimal synth and dark techno type stuff.

I know you’ve lived all around, but I can’t help but associate Pink Reason with midwestern America. Do you feel like the Midwest doesn’t get its proper due from the rest of the states, regarding the experimental or punk communities? Or are you generally operating with very few other people taking part and supporting you locally?
I don’t know that’s true about the Midwest in general. Between Detroit and Cleveland for proto-punk, the Midwest as a whole for hardcore, Detroit and Chicago for electronic music, Columbus for indie-rock, I think the Midwest is well recognized, and deservedly so. Today, thanks largely to the internet you could be from anywhere and get your music out to people. It helps to tour a lot. Locally Pink Reason got a lot more support in Columbus than it did anywhere in Wisconsin, but that worked in waves too. I think the bands who get the best local support here are the bands that play the local band game, playing local music showcases, and community functions, which are very popular here, but never interested me much, apart from benefit shows.

Alright, final question – there will be a Pink Reason ‘reunion’ some point down the road, right?
Which lineup?

Any – I’m just talking about another show, or recording, or anything under the ‘Pink Reason’ name.
I was playin’. I’m really focused on moving forward at this point. I don’t have any future plans for Pink Reason, outside of the upcoming EP. I’m sure if there are any reunion shows it’ll probably be up in Northern Wisconsin where I don’t have any fans that aren’t a part of the band themselves.