X Marks The Pedwalk biography
The seminal electro-industrial band was begun by schoolmates André Schmechta and Jorg Bohme (also known as Sevren Ni-Arb and Regan Eracs respectively) in 1987 near Münster, Germany. They were originally called Scarecrow, but after leaving their first label with Talla 2XLC to join his new Zoth Ommog label , the band was renamed X-Marks the Pedwalk (the name coming from a short story by sci-fi/fantasy author Fritz Leiber about a future dystopia where vehicular manslaughter is considered a sport). Over the course of three years they produced three maxi-singles (ARBITRARY EXECUTION, DANGER / DISEASE CONTROL, ABATTOIR) each more successful than the last, before releasing their first album (Freaks) in 1992. Another maxi-single (Cenotaph) and the first European tour followed shortly after.
With the success of the tour and increasing popularity Severn chose to withdraw from college and devote full attention to the band and pursue music production as a career. He also setup the now famous T.G.I.F.Studios where in time over 50 CDs would be recorded by acts such as Eco, Evil's Toy and Armageddon Dildos. Regan wanted to go in a different direction, so he departed and was replaced by Sevren Ni-Arb's brother Thorsten Schmechta (aka Raive Yarx) for the next maxi-single (The Trap) and the second full-length album (Human Desolation). A second European tour was conducted with even more dates and better attendance than the first. Almost immediately after the tour yet another maxi-single (PARANOID ILLUSIONS) was released.
Always looking to innovate and further differentiate the band from other industrial acts, in 1994 the sound of XMTP was enriched by the addition of the vocal presence of Sevren's future wife Stefanie Eckmann-Schmechta (aka Estefania). Their third full-length album (The Killing Had Begun) featured her input and an increasingly rich and nuanced soundscape This was followed by another tour throughout Germany and their first official "Best Of" album (Air Back Trax).
XMTP stunned some fans with a changed stylistic approach for the 1995 maxi-single release (Facer) which featured a mature, techno-influenced club sound. Initially rejected by industrial purists this sound was a precursor which was to define modern EBM and Futurepop. A year later this sound was further refined on their fourth full-length album (Meshwork). Although this album drew criticism from long-time XMTP fans at the time, it gained the band a larger following abroad in the U.S. In time this album would come to be widely considered not only one of XMTP's finest but a modern EBM masterpiece against which others are measured.
The 1996 XMTP album (Drawback) was the fifth and final album they were to release on Zoth-Ommog. Although the band lavished effort on the project and considered it one of their finest, pre-occupation on techno side-projects by management at their label meant it received little promotion and the haphazardly planned support tour never materialized. With the birth of his first son and frustration with record labels in general (and the mismanagement of Zoth Ommog in particular) Sevren chose to suspend the XMTP project indefinitely and take a prolonged hiatus from music. Shortly thereafter Zoth-Ommog folded and shuttered it's doors forever.
Interest from the industrial community continued for XMTP despite difficulty finding material, so seven years later in 2003 the band assembled and released a 2 x CD compilation album of rarities, unreleased tracks, and B-sides (Experiences) for the loyal fanbase, seemingly as a final milestone on the project.
However, with the growth in popularity of industrial and ebm amongst a new generation of listeners the demand for XMTP material has only increased unabated. To meet this demand in 2009 the owner of the industrial label Infacted Recordings and former Zoth Ommog A&R Manager, Torben Schmidt, established their Digital Division and made Sevren the offer to make the entire XMTP catalog (as well as a number of XMTP side-projects) available for download on popular services like iTunes, Amazon, Napster and Musicload. Pleased by the high volume of downloads the decision was made to re-master and re-release two of the earlier maxi-singles (Abattoir and Cenotaph) as part of Infacted's limited release ALLTIME CLASSIXX COLLECTIONS. Not merely re-issues, these limited to 1000 pressing special editions also contain live versions, tracks from rare out-of-print compilations and previously un-released remixes added to the tracklistings.
Sevren Ni-Arb and Raive Yarx had harbored thoughts of new material over the years since retiring and met in early 2009 to discuss ideas and methods for a new approach. They came to the conclusion: XMTP would be back with a new album! Encouraged by the reception of their back catalog from listeners both new & old, the group spent the year polishing concepts that had been considered during their long hiatus. In 2010 XMTP released their first new album in nearly 15 years ( Inner Zone Journey). Once again, they made a stylistic shift from their established sound, opting for a more mature sound that featured a fusion of elements of ebm, trance and synthpop to forge something new. Initial fan reaction was mixed yet again, but the album has received wide critical acclaim as one of the best releases of 2010 and a welcome return of XMTP. They performed both new & classic material live to huge crowds at the 2010 Wave Gotik Treffen festival in Leipzig, Germany cementing the message that at long last...XMTP was back!