This interview was conducted before a re-scheduled show in the Kansas City area.
I found the band in a playful, yet contemplative mood. This made for a very long, and rather circular interview that led back to certain concepts, and rounded out with a good look at the major goals of Rogue, and the rest of the Crüxshadows. Feel free to read the first part of the interview, where we playfully examine the idea of "Philosophies" within the context of working with modern music. Or else you can start here, but start with the knowledge that while some of this introspection was rather serious. At the same time there was no pretension in the air, and for a good part of the interview, we were having a fairly good time. We hope you have a good time with this one too...
Rev. S: How has the road lately affected you? Has the road given you some new things to think about, and to process into new material?
Rogue: Ooh that's a really good question, I don't think its the 'road'.
Rachel: It's not the road itself!
Rogue: although Chris and I today were having this discussion about how every place we were driving has played some role in history, and has been seen by eyes, and there have been battles....
Rev.S: and Trails !
Rogue: I am sorta wandering in my mind here about what I am trying to say, but everything was something, before it became what it is now. That has nothing to do whatsoever with the bands philosophy. If you are saying "has being on the road given me some ideas about new material", then yes! Being alive gives me ideas for new material! Day to day experiences, if you have the desire to look deeper into them and draw material out of them, then you have the ability to create art. It's that sort of ability to observe, when paired with the ability to create, and create adequately, then we hopefully are able to make something that is worth some value.
Rev.S: Kind of like a process, or the process is the product type attitude?
Rogue: <making an objectionable face to the concept> Eh , well it is a process but it is not, it's more like a... <thinking to self> it's more of a dissection of the process, than the actual process itself. The process varies from time to time.
Rev.S: We might be getting too involved in individual technique, learning to play an instrument is not the same as being able to say, mimic the noises of a passing train or something like that as it is happening to you.
Rogue: Right, but what I am saying is I don't sit down and say "OK I need to come up with the part that makes this valuable", or "O.K. I need to come up with a way to say this in a way that catches peoples attention". It's not quite as deliberate as that, but that is truly what I am trying to do!
REV.S: Of course, yet you have your own 'flow.'
Rogue: Yes, Flow. I think flow is a good way to characterize it!
REV.S: On to the concept of labels, if you have to label yourself, how would you go about labeling yourself. For example, what would you think if someone wanted to label you a 'psychedelic' band with the idea of the root of the word psychedelic, mental manifestations?
Rogue: I think the problem there, you get caught in a lot of stereotypes with that type of classification. I have no problem with t he classification of 'Goth'. You want to call me Goth, I am Goth! <smiling> If you don't think I am Goth enough for you, well then fine, you can call me what you want. Call me 'crap'!" <we all explode in laughter>
Rev. S: Unfortunately I think crap is more of an adjective, than a classification. Unfortunately there is no truth in advertising department, allowing a crap section in the record store.
Rogue: Yeah , unfortunately, your right!
Rev.S: I guess the easiest place to put you is under 'C' for Crüxshadows!
Rogue: yeah and that is right next to 'crap'.
Rev.S: Right, right , but hopefully your a lot better!
<by this time we may have gotten out of control, many thoughts here broken up by laughter, and some really bad jokes...>
Rev.S: <regaining control, sort of> Once again, I am coming into this show tonight with a bit of a 'blind spot' as I have only heard a few things, and I am hoping to be blown away. A lot of people will be coming out tonight, and they have only an inkling of what to expect. Maybe they have seen the website, or been recommended this show...
Rogue: Most people have heard us in clubs. That's really where our popularity is, the clubs really have made us. To the art making process, we try to make music that is danceable, we try to make music that people would like to hear. We try to make something of universal significance, of value, to place out into the world. We try to take ideas and concepts and build them in such ways that they can carry those emotions, for example taking myth and using it as a vehicle for a particular emotional direction, so there are many levels to the songs we write, So I think the people that we do reach, we reach because there is an awful lot of thought about what goes into the music, and what it means. If you like it because it sounds good, that is fine with us. If you like it because you can rip it to pieces, and dissect it and have some greater insight into it. That is good too!
REV.S: That is probably a very good idea to be open to the idea of being dissected anyway.
Rogue: So are we psychedelic? I think that implies that we are part, and party to the drug culture. We are not.
<reviews note: These words happened to be in my head during the performance, especially while they played the accapella version of White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. I don't doubt the words of Rogue, yet it was what I would consider, a well crafted moment of psychedelica!!!>
Rogue: I am not a proponent of drug use, I have seen it ruin more lives than I care to speak about. To that end I don't encourage anyone to do something which harms themselves. For whatever value they think they are going to get out of it. I believe that kind of thinking is more of an excuse making than anything else.
REV.S: Usage on a certain plateau, becomes more of a crutch...
Rogue: I personally consider myself a 'straight edge', although I don't like the negative connotations with that either. I am not about preaching to people and telling them what to think, or how to act! I am not about encouraging people to do things that are negative, and I try not to do things that have a negative impact on a person as well.
REV.S: That's grand, and that is sometimes the best you can hope to do.
Rogue: How do we characterize our music? Gothic works for me , 'New Wave' works for me. We are heavily influenced by a lot of 'New Wave' music.
REV.S: what about 'Synth-Pop' as a label.
Rogue: yes, 'Synth-Pop' works for me. I think that we don't quite fit with a lot of the 'synth-pop' music, but I think it describes some of the best stuff that is coming out of this genre of music.
REV.S: I heard a term for bands like Apoptygma Berserk, and Covenant, I'll throw this one at you, 'Trance-Pop'.
Rogue: don't like it. <laughs> It's one of those words that everyone would take as meaning something different. It might make a good designator in 50 years when people are looking back at it and many things are being jumbled anyway.
REV.S: It could be too ambiguous, you could put new Madonna and others into that category. <laughter>
Rogue: One of my favorite terms I'd like to resurrect is the 'New Romantics', back in the late 70's early 80's the 'New Romantic' movement was exactly what I am talking about, and it actually became known, or became part of the 'New Wave'.
Rev.S: So what was some of the bands that were more "New Romantics" then?
Rogue: I think that , Duran Duran is probably the most notable.
Rev.S: And that got swallowed up by being just purely popular.
Rogue: Bands like Roxy Music, and even some of the 'Bowie' stuff falls into that category. Unfortunately, many of the bands did not become very popular.
Rev. S: Would somebody like Iggy Pop fit into that in a 'punk' sorta way?
Rogue: Well, 'New Romantic' was actually a reaction against 'Punk' , it was taking 'Punk" and going the other direction. You'd have a better time fitting Adam and the Ants into the 'New Romantics' than Iggy Pop.
Rev.S: Yeah, I was being extreme there!
Rogue: Yeah, well that's one of the areas where I got a lot of my influence, bands like the Psychedelic Furs, Thompson Twins, Echo and the Bunnymen. Music that was introspective, and yet related to me in a way that made me want to move.
Rev.S: It didn't seem to go too deep and introspective.
Rogue: I don't know about that , I can give you some examples that would be good arguments.
Rev.S: Well. yeah I guess for example there was Thomas Dolby, and he was introspective about the cold harsh computer age reality. A colder time, yet we still had to think about where we were.
Rogue: To an extent New Wave was like 'Disco' with a soul, 'Punk' with a heart. It was , a hybrid of everything that had come before, and in being such a hybrid it was unique unto itself. You can make no references to 'New Wave' music existing before the 80's. In a way I think to some extent it was the last original type of music to come about...
<thinking to self for a moment> well maybe I shouldn't say that.
Rev.S: We'll just strike that from the record. <maybe not>
Rogue: There has been a few recently, and actually I can't even say that because 'Rap" and 'Hip-Hop' were there then, and they are original too, maybe I need to take that back.
Rev.S: I guess it would be hard to come out as an act , and not fall into a category. No one really wants to step out, and just be placed into a 'genre'. Yet every now and then several groups comes out doing something on a similar wave, and they all agree that they are a part of a certain movement, and therefore strengthen the idea of the category. In your case your related to Goth, yet it is kinda cool that your accepting of that, and your fine with those that might not be able to accept you in that realm.
Rogue: Well, from a person stand point, you know I personally ,and all of the band members pretty much are a part of the scene. So it is difficult to separate us out as artist away from that association. I don't think is really my role neccissarily to determine where my significance, or lack of significance is in the tome's of music history, but if I were to categorize, I would say we are more of a 'Goth-wave' kind of band.
Rev.S: Goth-wave' I like that, I think I like that!
Rogue: to some extent we have tried to push that, were trying to score our own little revolution.
Rev.S: The first 'Goth-wave' band.
Rogue: And maybe bands like Bella Morte, whom I have a lot of respect for, maybe they will get on our bandwagon, and we can form a movement of some significance. <laughing at his own thought>
Rev.S: I like where that ended, so I think we should end it here. We must thank all the members of The Crüxshadows, even Kevin who opted to have Rogue do all his talking. This has been a really fun interview, and I hope the Starvox readers will enjoy it as well.
conducted by Rev. Alexavier S. Strangerz 23.3
all Pictures, and manipulations therfore of, done by www.ZenkaoS.com
~interviewed via Email by Psionic Imperator
It is no secret that I am in love with music that is instantly evocative. I have loved music of this type ever since I first heard Celtic Frost's "Tears In A Prophet's Dream" back in the days of DeathMetal's ascendance. It is a burning passion, finding new music that fits this pattern, music that is at all times introspective, emotional, invasive, shy, and mysterious. Many projects have come and gone that have touched on these themes, most with great success. Less common are the projects that do more than just flirt with the concept, those people like myself who feel driven to explore this medium of expression to it's fullest extent. Such a project is Gridlock.
is a persistent belief that dark-electronic music is devoid of new ideas.
This is entirely erroneous, and anyone familiar with the soundscape work
of Gridlock knows this. Spearheading a wave of talent produced by the now-legendary
Pendragon Records label, Gridlock stepped into the spotlight with their
first release, 'The Synthetic Form'. Along with such names as Individual
Totem and Velvet Acid Christ, 'Gridlock' became a buzzword in the underground,
synonymous with 'groundbreaking'. Showing a startling ear for mood, Gridlock
stood (stand) head and shoulders above so many of their contemporaries.
Proving themselves capable of incredible growth, their second release 'Further'
was light years beyond what they had already achieved with ' The Synthetic
Form', setting the new standard for textured soundscapes. The trend continued
with the release of '5.25' and doesn't appear to be slowing down with the
upcoming 'Trace' release on [<unit>] Records, a division of Possessive
Blindfold recordings. I was honoured to be given the opportunity to pick
the brains of the creative forces behind Gridlock, delivered to you in
the form of 20 questions.
Starting with the basic "5 W's", let's setup some basic information for those readers not steeped in the history of the project:
Who are the members of Gridlock?
Mike Wells and Mike Cadoo
In your words, what exactly is Gridlock?
Mike: I'd say it's an outlet of expression. The expression being who we are at the time. Time changes and so does the expression.
Cadoo: Yeah I guess you could say gridlock is ever evolving.
When did Gridlock form?
Mike: I started the band in 1994 and just did a lot of experimentation and writing. I met Cadoo in 1995 as the sound of the band started to take shape, and a friend coined the name "Gridlock" for us shortly thereafter.
Where is Gridlock currently located?
SF bay area
Why was Gridlock formed?
Cadoo: I think we both got tired of the confines of "live" music and wanted to try something that had no boundaries.
Mike: Exactly, I had been playing in live bands for quite some time before that and felt that electronics would really open a lot of doors, every song being completely unique and tailored, as opposed to being confined to guitar/bass/drums/etc.. So after taking a couple of years to experiment a "sound" really started to come together which was the direction I wanted to be headed in.
What would you say the philosophy of Gridlock is, if any?
Cadoo: I really don't think there is a philosophy??? What do you think Mike??
Mike: Originally I can remember some specific ideals and goals. Now I see our philosophy as two things. One, "what we can get away with", and Two, "what boundaries we can push".
What Gridlock track would you say is your Favorite?
Mike: Probably a new track we've just finished for "Trace". Doesn't have a title yet. Why? I'm usually more interested in what we're doing rather than what we've done.
Cadoo: I would have to say "scrape" it's just all over the place musically.
Who would you list as the prime influences on Gridlock's sound?
Cadoo: This one is tough...but I think the bands that influenced us the most when we started is Skinny Puppy, Fields of the Nephilim, and Autechre but that's changed alot. we've been influenced by so much along the way ..from things like My Bloody Valentine to dom and roland to and and back again...
Mike: Early on when the band was starting, I was influenced a lot by the more traditional Industrial acts. Not so much now. I think we pull from all the things we listen to from Ambient to ZZ top...well ok, maybe not ZZ top.
Continuing along the influences thread, what family members have had the deepest impact on the members of the project?
Mike: One half of my parental equation has always been very supportive, thank you mom. As for impact, I suppose the problems with the other half of that equation resulted in some good material on "Further".
Cadoo: I would have to say my parents they always encouraged me when it came to music.
What was the first album you ever purchased?
Cadoo: damn I can't remember that!?!? huh...I think it was a kiss record.
Mike: AC/DC's "Highway to Hell", still love it.
What was your first concert?
Mike: ZZ Top
Cadoo: ZZ Top? yeesh!
Mike: Oh and Freddy Mercury???
Cadoo: OK OK...beards over balls anyday!
Denny's or IHOP? (It always seems to come down to these two after a long night at a club...)
Mike: Hopefully a Speakeasy
So when you're not out clubbing, what do you find yourself reading?
Mike: Bukowski, Kerouac, and owners' manuals
Cadoo: Bukowski, grooves magazine and the SF weekly
So what does Gridlock find itself listening to the most these days?
Cadoo: I've been mainly listening to a lot of IDM (arovane,spark,funckarma), christoph de babalon, and venetian snares.
Mike: A lot of Detroit, Glitch, IDM, House, etc... for artists I'd say Theorem, Swayzak, Sean Deason, Arovane, SND, Funkstorung, Sutekh, Taylor Dupree, Bola, Shuttle358.
Seen any good films lately?
Mike: Yeah, I watched "Scarface" again recently, what a film. And "Barfly" is always a staple.
Cadoo: No I really don't see to many movies it takes up too much of your time.
So, what are your day jobs? Or does Gridlock pay the bills yet?
Cadoo: Oh no... it doesn't pay the bills...i'm a web designer.
Mike: Yeah no doubt, it's done out of desire, not for profit. I'm an application developer.
You did a tour with Individual Totem.. Got a favorite tour tale?
Mike: Yeah, the guys from Totem loved Budweiser. That was fascinating and great for us. We got the imported beer. Awesome guys though. Wish them all the best!
Cadoo: That seems so long ago i can't remember....
What's the strangest thing you have listed on your tour rider?
Cadoo: You wouldn't think this would be strange but...Payment.
Mike: We got paid once?
Cadoo: Yeah and I think it was in turkish lira....
Wrapping things up, I'd like to touch on your decision to leave Metropolis/Pendragon and sign on to <unit>. Was there any one thing that happened after Pendragon was purchased by Metropolis that sealed your choice to leave and join <unit?>
Cadoo: We thought that Metropolis would be a step up ...but in reality it was a step down. metro is strictly a units and money operation ..where as Pendragon (the one run by Colm) was for the love of the music first and units and money second. Metro didn't get behind us at all and that's understandable. When your an experimental artist on a label with such big, more mainstream, acts like Bauhaus, VNV, and Frontline, who sell a whole hell of a lot more discs than we ever would, your bound to get lost in the shuffle. So we left.
We were fortunate to learn, from working with Colm, how great it can be
to work with a label that is truly interested in EVERY artist that they
have on their label. After Colm's departure, we started looking for
a similar relationship with another label, as it turns out metro just didn't
fit that mold, so we looked elsewhere.
for the release of "Trace" on [<unit>] records sometime early 2001.
For further information on Gridlock, as well as monthly prizes and such for the Gridlock fan community, go to
http://www.creative.net/~gridlock/ and browse around.
In the back of the club with Jimmy (singer/guitar), Adam/The Diabolical
Dr.K (Bass), Scott (Drums)
~review and photos by Kimberly
addtional photos courtesy of Kevin @ Skully Records
(Scott gallently lights his lighter so I can see the questions)
Kimberly: Which bands have you been influenced by, besides, Elvis?
Jimmy: Oh, Jesus Christ. Well, definatly Link Ray and The Cramps, and a lot of Sun Studio stuff. You know- Elvis, Carl Perkins. Plus a lot of the industrial bands. You know, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails.
Dr. K: Definatly The Melvins, though they have nothing to do with psychobilly.
Jimmy: And Roy Clark.
Dr. K:And Buck Owens.
Jimmy: We watched a lot of "Hee Haw" growing up. It's integral to The Psychocharger spirit.
Scott: Johnny Cash, above all.
Jimmy: He was the original man in black.
Kimberly: I have a theory the he and Jim Morrison were the first goths.
Jimmy: That's a very valid point.
Kimberly: How did the band get together?
Dr. K: That's an interesting sotry. It goes back a few years. Jimmy, why don't you kick off the early history of the band?
Jimmy: OK. [When] the band actually started, it was just myself making tapes at home because I had this whole concept of this band- this industrial rockabilly band. And I couldn't find anyone to commit to the idea. Everyone said that it was too far out, that I didn't know what I was talking about. So I started making tapes on my own and I sent them out. The response that it generated as really good; people started saying that they wanted to see the band come out and play. Of course, I booked these shows, and I didn't have a band. It was kinda do or die, so I just started recruiting people to play shows. It just became a revolving door [of band members]. This all happened down in Miami. Then I came up to the city started the band here. I knew Adam from high school. Or, should I say, The Diabolical Dr. K.
Dr. K: You've just given away my secret.
Kimberly (laughing): Not like it's written all over you. (I point to his gas station shirt with a name patch that says "Adam" on it)
Jimmy: We've known each other for like, twenty years. So we came up here, started the band. That's when we met Scott, about eight months later.
Kimberly: Sweet. How long have you guys been in New York?
Dr.K: We've been doing this almost a year and a half.
Jimmy: We started in July of '99.
Dr. K: Yeah.
Kimberly (Scott lights his lighter again so I can see): Thank you. How does New compare to Florida?
Jimmy: You know, there is no comparison. I will say this-the one thing Florida has is that the media is more in tune with the local music scene. You know, up here when they're talking about local music, they're talking about Sonic Youth, all the heavy hitters. That's all the local coverage you really get. But in Florida, there are a lot of 'zines, and they focus on the independant music scene. In that respect, Florida's kinda got the edge [on New York]. But as far as bookings and shows, this is pretty much where its happening.
Dr. K: And that's an attribute- to stick out in Florida. Because there's so many bands, it would be really hard for the media to cover them all.
Jimmy: Its a real frenzy up here.
Kimberly: What's the coolest Halloween costume you've ever worn?
Scott: Yoda, definatly Yoda.
Dr. K: I did the Flying Monkey from "The Wizard of Oz" motif. The ape face and all.
Jimmy: I played a gig on Halloween, and I'm pretty minimalist, so I just wore a Domino's pizza box.
Dr. K: That was certainly the least expensive.
Jimmy: Definatly was. I just pulled it out of the trash.
Dr. K: You were just trying to play "Hide the Pepperoni".
Jimmy: I'm the pornographic pizza guy.
Kimberly: Are you guys voting this year?
Scott: Well, if I was registered, I would.
Dr. K: Could you just say that Scott's doing an absentee ballot?
Jimmy: Dr. K is casting his vote for Gore. And I'm writing in-
Dr. K: Al Goldstein.
Jimmy: Yeah. Al Goldstein.
Dr. K: Jimmy's a First Amendment freak.
Jimmy: That's it. I'm writing him in.
Dr. K: Oh, no. You know who's your president.
Jimmy: Yeah! I'm writing in Charlton Heston.
Kimberly: That's a joke, right?
Jimmy: I'm very much into the NRA.
Kimberly: Ted Nugent is their VP. I walked out on him in concert.
Jimmy (pointing): Blasphemer!
(I relate the very un-PC things Ted said when he opened for KISS during the summer)
Jimmy: That was a little much.
Dr. K: Well, if Ted would just shut up and play the goddamn music...
Kimberly: Yeah. That would have been better.
Jimmy: I respect the hunting, but he doesn't need to pull that xenophobic shit. He's cool enough on his own. He's just becoming a grumpy old man.
Kimberly: Is there anything I missed that you wanted to tell the readers of Starvox?
Jimmy: Send us all your unwanted pornographic tapes, stay in touch with the website.
Dr. K: Rock the vote.
Scott: Porn covers it, I guess.
Kimberly: Thanks, guys.Interview with Psychocharger
with Fate Fatal of Deep Eynde
~Interview by Kimberly
Kimberly: Suicide Drive just came out. How is it different form the band's other albums?
FF: It s a lot more raw. It think its a lot more influenced by the idols I listened to before. A lot of influences by Lords of the New Church, to Ramones, a lot of old school stuff we were infuenced by. Its less polished than City Lights. It just seemed to me, as we're moving into a different era of music in a way, I wanted it to be a little more raw. I think its time for a revolution, and I think that that's the only way its ever gonna happen. (Laughs) There I go withthe whole revolution thing again.
Kimberly: No, that's OK. I'm big on that, too.
FF: I think that revolution can be a dangerous word, though. Some people might take that wrong, but I'm just going to have to use that word. A revolution means that its time for change of music, and a change in thinking. And for people to realize that its just not safe to sit down and not do anything. They think that its all taken care of, but its just not the case. Its time to really fight. When things are too comfortable, and you think everything's OK- thats the time you should be looking. When people sit around and think America's the best country in the world- America sucks, basically. America's so great at the expense of other countries. And we'll see a lot of change happen. I talk to a lot of fifteen, sixteen year olds, and they're ready for it. But in terms of what I do, as far as the music, it tends to be a little more raw. A lot of people who are listening to the old music are going, "I don't knowabout this" because its a little scary, or whatever. Its just another branch of me. I don't know if anyone's heard of my industrial band, Kittens for Christians, but it started out in that aspect, so I'm just experimenting with different types of music. But to sum it all up- there IS a revolution coming. And I definatly want to try and light a fire for it, if I'm not around. Its time for people to start thinking. Its tiem to start having more action. We had the '60s and the 80s. Now we have the 2000s, so we know something is coming.
Kimberly: I hope so.
FF: One of the things my teacher in school taught me- all the things she taught me weren't anything that had to do with classes at all. She taught me that this isn't the end. There's always a change.
Kimberly: There's a saying in New York that if you like New York you can't like LA, and vice versa. What do you think about that?
FF: That's a bunch of bullshit because I've been in every state, and New York has so much to offer. I'm native to Los Angeles. My relatives were American Indians so I'm totally native. And what LA doesn't really have is a culture. So many people move to LA wanting to be a movie star or a musician and they're not. (Laughs) [There are] a lot of bitter people in Los Angeles. A lot of superficial people in Los Angeles who live off glitz and glamour instead of a culture. No one tells you the truth out there.
Kimberly: No offense, but I've been to LA, and- ick. Can't take the vibe,
Yeah. Its a totally different scene. Its my hometown, so I'm a little bit
partial to it. But then, I'm also partial to Montreal and New York City.
They each have the ambiance that I crave. I don't know how to explain it,
but there's just a different way of thinking. You have people here who
get along, as opposed to Los Angeles. where people
just don't. Everyone is so isolated . Here, people have to get along. Its a great thing. I wish Los Angeles was like that, I really do. But a lot of people come to LA and spit on, throw trash, shit on it. LA has such a bad rap, it really does. But there is a culture there, the Mexican culture that everybody disses. People come to LA and they think
how cool it is to live on a street with a Mexican name, and they don't realize that it is a culture And then they went and kicked 'em out.
Kimberly: America does that.
FF: Yeah. I wish I could kick everyone out who doesn't belong there. The weather is nice in LA all year round, and its kinda a buglight to everyone. They all think its the ansewr to their problems.
Kimberly : You've made your involvement in S&M very public. What's the pull of masochism for you?
I call it the wall of how far people will go. Where's your breaking point?
Some people have different breaking points. Everyone has walls to crack,
or break. I was kinda obsessed with experimenting for awhile. Now it's
almost on a spiritual level, in a way. That's not to say its still not
physical. I used to go to parties and get auctioned off as a slave. Thats
a funny experience, because it happened while I was growing up. I was going
on stage, there was this auction, where you basically auction off your
body so people can do whatever the
fuck they want to to it. So I go to this guy and I say, "You know, I've never done this before". I dont wanna go on stage. So the guy gets up and tells everyone I'm a virgin [to this whole thing]. Boom! I went for three or four hundred dollars.
Kimberly : That's funny.
FF:But when you figure out where your limitations are, in S&M or whatever, you learn to appreciate it a lot more. I don't know why I put myself in that aspect. I used to go to a club where you sign a release form. So if anything happens, they're not responsible for it. Nex thing I knew, I was basically nailed to a cross.
Kimberly: That's pretty intense.
FF: Yeah. I was tied to this cross, and there were pins all over me. You get to the point where you're like, am I doing the right thing? I'm not so sure. But I love it, and it's definatly a part of my life. The problem with it is, there are certain people that don't understand when to stop. And that's a problem. Certain people think that when you say "no", they should just keep doing it. That's when bodily damage happens. This one woman had a thirty foot long whip with a cobra at the end of it. She opened it like this (he demonstrates), and she cracked it on my back. She's the only one who can opertae that, and it really fucking kills. So I remember I was chained to this, um, structure and I'm all naked. I was looking at this girl who was chained across from me, she was naked too,and I remember saying-
(This stupid drunk girl comes in and starts babbling about how the band rocks)
FF: Anyway, we were both wondering what the fuck we were doing. But I crave it. You get to the point where I wanna see how far I can take my body. You know, you saw the scars...
Kimberly: I've heard of them.
FF: I have them on my back because they're for me, not for anyone else.
(He shows them to me, and I run my finger along one of them)
Kimberly: Those are beautiful.
FF: It as very painful. There's two different ways of doing it. You can cut, or this cauterizing thing to take it off. That's what I did, this guy Steve does it. So your grounded to this machine that cuts and burns at the same time. It's fuckin' painful as all hell.
(Drunk girl insists on taking a picture)
Kimberly: How did you feel about the E! channel using the Deep Eynde's music for their episode of the show "Hollyood Nights" on the club Coven 13?
FF: That's something I wanted to express. The E! Channel as certainly trying to do the right thing on that night. I haven't seen it, but I was invited down that night with a bunch of other people. They definatly had a curiousity for the gothic scene,and that's my whole life. But I find that the enviorment they created that night was a false enviorment. I was a little upset knoing that they only invited down bands who dressed gothic that night. I don't have a problem with that per se, but they were trying to push their sales pitch.
Kimberly: It seemed very superficial when I saw it.
FF: Yeah, it was totally bad. They should have interviewed artists and people who really lived, breathed and starved for it. Because I've done that, and those people are going to give the proper love and information.
Kimberly: Are you going to vote this year?
FF: I'm going to try. I want an absentess ballot, because I'm going to be out of town on that day. I'm going to try my best. We're actually playing an anti-America show on that day in Winston-Salem, where they have the debates. It's very important for people to vote. I don't want to be a hypocrite and not do it, but I am on tour and I'll try my best to do it. It's always best to remember that people have to the power to change. If Bush gets elected, I'm thinking so be it, because then people will see how fucked up this country really is. People don't realize that between genetically altered fruit to the homeless, the issues aren't being brought to attention, because McDonald's is keeping a smile on your face. We're forgetting that the real sense of living is about having respect. Having respect for people who do differentthings, the elderly, supporting the homeless. I don't understand. People think we're gonna live forever.
Kimberly: That's an American attitiude.
FF: Yeah. And we as goths, or anyone ho sings the blues- Poe, whoever. People have been singing the blues since the beginning of time, and they've always been looked down upon, because we have a sense of our own mortality. There's nothing wrong with that. And people who do have a problem with that don't realize that they'll be gone one day. I don't have a problem with that. I know that because I've been around death way too many times. I've seen too many people die. You know what? Fuck them all. I wish I had the same sense of thinking when I got involved in the whole scene. It's makes you appreciate life so much. You see colours you wouldn't have seen before. As for the E! channel, they anted to interview me. And I thought, I don't want to be interviewed next to some weekender. I've starved for my art. I don't want anything I have anything I say right next to them. On a last note, I called them and said that if they wanted to interview me, they should do it on my own turf. They called up and thanked me, but they were only into doing the superficial thing. In the end, they asked me to use my music, which was cool.
Kimberly: That about does it. Thanks.
~interview by Matthew
In 1998, by an off chance I received a promo of a CD called Pneuma from a duo of musicians called Sunday Munich. It was the pairís debut, and it was sincerely one of the strongest debut CDís I had ever heard. The CD housed a collection of twelve painfully gloomy and introspective songs that delve straight into the deepest wells of the human psyche. Mid-tempoed grooves, hard processed trip hop beats, haunting cello passages and sparse guitar work are fused together brilliantly by composer/programmer Avis while the unique female vocals and the soul-baring lyrics of Sarah Hubbard complete his musical vision.
Sunday Munich contributes a much needed and desperate twist to the genuine emotive and musical capability of darkwave music. For the past two years I have treasured this band and have been proud to share their work with friends and audiences whenever I DJ in and around Pittsburgh. They have returned this year with a follow up to Pneuma entitled Vinculum. Sunday Munich is one of dark musicís best-kept secrets. A world of enveloping and transcendent electronic music has yet to be heard, and I would like to take the time now to introduce readers to this exceptionally gifted and deeply moving project.
Starvox: Well since you guys are relatively "new" to most people, lets start at the beginning...
Starvox: How did you and Avis meet and start creating Sunday Munich?
Sarah: Avis and I met in Chicago and became immediately inseparable. A few months later we moved to Florida. He was writing all the music for a project called Allegory when the singer went to jail.
Starvox: To jail? What for might I ask? If itís not too personal?
Sarah: Yeah some old warrant...no one really talks about it. However this didnít stop Avis from writing music and when he wrote what later became ďElaborate Schemes.Ē He convinced me to give doing vocals a try. The first album went to press two weeks later.
Starvox: Thatís a wonderful song...
Sarah: Thanks it is literally the first time I had ever sung.
Starvox: Really? No formal training or anything?
Sarah: Yes I had done my share of shower serenade but never for a band.
Starvox: I always thought your voice was similar to Alison Shaw from the Cranes. Would you agree with that comparison?
Sarah: I adore her vocals and am extremely flattered by the comparison.
Starvox: You are very welcome. Itís the innocent, 'childish' aspect to her voice. I hear that same quality in your voice, especially on ĎPneuma.í So overall how would you describe Sunday Munich to people who've never heard you guys?
Sarah: How would you? Thatís such a hard question.
Starvox: Well, I would say very stark and moody darkwave...trip hoppish. Portishead meets the Cranes in a very dark alley. There is a very sensual aspect to the music as well.
Sarah: What we try to explore is our inner architecture, what is reflected back when you look into the mirror, the things you donít want to see... all the little truths.
Starvox: There is a sincerely personal expressiveness in the music, which a lot of bands in the 'gothic' genres are missing. What fuels the passion in the music?
Sarah: I use music as a place to vent. I write from a very personal point of view. I wouldn't know how to do it any other way. I have a sincere and overwhelming adoration for the music Avis composes. When I hear a track for the first time it usually just moves me somewhere else. In that place I am free to explore both myself and what the music is saying to me.
Starvox: Songs like "Smallest Tragedy" are almost too painful to listen to they are so personal yet you are drawn in by the way the music is pieced together. So basically Avis composes the music on his own and presents it to you to write the lyrics and vocal melodies?
Sarah: Yes. It works slightly differently with Lee, the male vocalist on the new record but basically it is constant process.
Starvox: I have always been very curious of what 'Sunday Munich' means...is there a story behind the band's unique moniker?
Sarah: It is the ultimate contradiction. Sundays are planned to be this relaxing day of worship yet what inevitably happens is that people become some one else. They pack away what they repressed during the week and put on their best suit and tie and pretend. They are liars in the face of their god. Munich has both a beautiful and sordid history.
Starvox: I wish all bands were that creative when coming up with a band name!
Sarah: Thank you. I think if you are going to be known by a name you should put a little bit of thought into it.
Sarah: Although I cant take the credit.
Starvox: Avis again? <grins>
Starvox: So what is his musical background? Is he classically trained? I think the cello is the final 'edge' to the music and I think it sets you apart from other bands.
Sarah: He is entirely self-taught.
Starvox: That is so inspiring!
Sarah: If he is interested in exploring what a new instrument can bring to the music he will lock himself in a room until he can play it.
Starvox: So did Avis start Kyan Records to release the Allegory and Sunday Munich CDs? Does he plan on signing other acts?
Sarah: Yes that was the original intension. I think we might focus on this project for a while but...you never know.
Starvox: I remember the "Praying For Something New" compilation Kyan released in 1999. A very straightforward response to the stagnance of underground music it seemed. Do you feel the 'scene' is saturated?
Sarah: I donít know. I think if people mean what they are doing the more bands the better. Everyone has something different to say and for everyone who is saying something there is someone who will be interested in hearing it.
Starvox: Well, lets talk about the new CD of course. 'Vinculum' is the follow up to 'Pneuma' and there is a remarkable progression...
Sarah: In the music or vocals or comprehension?
Starvox: I would say all three. Your voice sounds much more mature. Was there a conscious effort to vary your vocals to be slightly deeper?
Sarah: Between the recording of íPneumaí and ĎVinculumí we spent a lot of time writing and working. I was singing up to three hours and day and Avis was writing non-stop. I think we just matured naturally. Kind of came into ourselves a little more.
Starvox: Yes, the music as well is much stronger...with the addition of more acoustic guitars, reverberated clean guitar harmonies, and of course the new male vocalist Lee. How did Lee come to work with the band?
Lee and Avis have been working together musically for quite awhile and
have been friends for ten
years. He did a few vocal tracks for the new record and it floored us. We fully intend to keep him around and working with us.
Starvox: Was he apart of any other band or project?
Sarah: Yes, he was one of the members in Allegory.
Starvox: I like the male/female vocal variation...it works very well...especially on the track "Going Back.Ē
Sarah: He inspires me a great deal.
This question is for Avis. ĎVinculumí seems more 'beat' inspired
and trip hoppy. Was there a
conscious effort to try to be more 'club friendly?í
Avis: ĎVinculumí seemed to kind of get away from me in ways. I went in with no idea of what I wanted to do and just let the chips fall where they may.
Starvox: The CD is very transcendent.
Avis: Do you think?
Starvox: Very much so. It is absolutely enthralling.
Avis: Thank you.
Starvox: I am actually listening to the track 'Phone' right now. Where are those choir samples taken from?
Avis: That was a song that means a lot to me. The samples come from about three to four different records. It is about talking with someone on the phone and you know you hate them but you have to talk to them, so you can try to end what you have been doing with them. It is more or less about hating someone. There was a time like that I just felt free of all their shit.
Starvox: Well I am going to play Devilís advocate here. I think that most narrow-minded of critics might complain that the CD is basically the same pace throughout. How would you respond to 'trendy' DJs that want 120 BPM music constantly and dismiss Sunday Munich for being too slow?
Avis: The music I write is about my internal architecture. It is about me, and me trying to tell myself the truth. I thank there are enough bands out there trying to write music that people will like. Do not get me wrong, I want people to like what we do but I write for me, and if other people like it, that is good too.
Starvox: In my opinion, a lot of so-called Gothic music is not remotely Gothic in its atmosphere. There are few bands as provoking as Current 93, Sopor Aeternus and such anymore. I think Sunday Munich is about as Gothic as you could get in terms of the mood. Would you agree with that?
Avis: I grew up with Current 93 and Death In June. But to answer your question I would hope that one day we would be found with the real of that music. But I do not think we are strictly gothic.
Starvox: Were you pleased with the outcome of the new release then?
Avis: I think I would like to have more of Sarah on this next one. On ĎVinculumí there were four people that I worked with. I think I just want to work more with Lee and Sarah. I think I want to hear more of them. I also think that ĎVinculumí was too long.
Starvox: Actually, I thought the length was perfect [16 tracks, 70+ minutes]. You get utterly lost in that CD.
Avis: Do you think so?
Avis: Cool, I was hoping for something like that. Thank you.
Starvox: You are welcome. I donít know much Latin unfortunately, so I was curious what 'Vinculum' means and also the phrase 'vinculum quippe vinculorum armor estí that appears in the CD sleeve.
Avis: I am going to let Sarah go off on that one.
ĎVinculumí is a term expressed by Giordano Bruno meaning bond or tie. All
the different layers in the bonds of love and hate and all the intricacies
that go along with that. It most adequately expressed
to us what the record was and is about. Although I canít pretend to express Bruno in its fullness.
Starvox: In terms of playing live, are there any possibilities?
Sarah: We are actually playing live. We have a show here in Atlanta on the 21st of December and a few unconfirmed dates after that.
Starvox: So will it just be the three of you on stage?
Sarah: No we have a girl named Brianna who did vocals on a few songs on the new record. She plays keyboards and does a bit of singing. So itís just the four of us.
Starvox: So you guys are in Atlanta now? Did you have plans to relocate to Chicago at one point?
Sarah: We still do. Different atmospheres lend different flavors to the music. We intend to record each record in a different environment.
Starvox: I was curious about the puzzle piece that is included with the new CD. Any comments on that?
Sarah: Did it make you think? And stop for just a minute?
Starvox: YES! (Laughing) My friend and I were like 'we have to buy ALL the CDs!'
Sarah: Then it is doing its job. There are a total of 4000 pieces.
Starvox: WOW! So I assume it does form some kind of picture then?
Sarah: Yes, but mostly words. All hand written.
Starvox: Thatís so cool. So all over the world in a sense, there is a fan with a piece of the puzzle.
Sarah: I like that idea.
Starvox: Definitely. How did the cover of 'Wish You Were Here' develop?
Sarah: Lee did such an amazing rendition on his acoustic that we had to include it. There is so much said in that song that we agree with. We all grew up with it. It has been places with us each individually. Now it is a piece of the three of us together. Pink Floyd is a phenomenal band.
Starvox: I certainly wonít argue there. I thought it was a great interpretation of the song. One last question. A lot of fans have always identified with bands like Faith & The Muse, and early Dead Can Dance because the sense that the band members were romantically involved. Is that the case with you and Avis?
Sarah: Yes. On a certain level though I think all band mates are intimate or at least should be.
Starvox: As long as it doesnít end up like Fleetwood Mac of course! (Laughing)!
Sarah: (laughing) Music [should] supercede all the petty shit in my opinion.
Starvox: So could you give the full information about your show on the 21st for our readers near Atlanta? Hopefully people will go check it out.
Sarah: It is at the Masquerade. We are playing with a few other bands. Weíll more than likely go on last. I am unsure what time the doors open and/or ticket prices.
Starvox: But the venue is the Masquerade?
Thank you. Well are there any last words, requests, words of wisdom
you would like to say
to the readers about Sunday Munich?
Sarah: I am always interested in how the music affects people...their questions and comments so everyone should feel free to email me. And in the most honest and sincere way, thanks for listening but more so thanks for HEARING us.
Thank you for doing this, and thank you VERY much for your kind words they
mean more then you know.
Sarah Hubbard: vocals, lyrics
Avis: cello, guitar, loops
Lee M. Helms: male vocals
additional assistance by:
Brianna Westfall: additional female vocals
Melissa Mileski: additional female vocals
Michael C.: additional guitar
P.O. Box 14024
Atlanta, GA 30324-1024
P.O. Box 190552
Miami Beach, FL 33119
All photos belong to www.kyan.com
by Sonya Brown
This Ascension hails from sunny Santa Barbara, California. Santa Barbara, and its sandy beaches, are strategically located along the Ventura highway which snakes through southern California. Tourist vendors sell brightly colored kites and wind socks with streamers along the sandy sidewalks against the uniformly Spanish-American architectural backdrop of this college town community. Doesn't sound remotely "goth" or "darkwave" at all, does it?
When I first encountered This Ascension, I immediately thought of the beautiful outpost-Missions I had visited throughout various periods of my life. The seraphim-like operatic vocals of femme vocalist, Dru, makes me feel as if I am listening to an angelic entity singing now in a neglected, long forgotten cathedral. I find that I have visions of a grand movie being filmed in any of these cathedrals and some sordid, Godfather-esque dramatic scene plays out to a powerful This Ascension score for the film.
Why, then, does This Ascension choose such a brilliant location to showcase and headquarter their music? And how successful and thriving could an underground, particularly gothic, music scene become amid all the "high-fiving" trendy pre-dominance of Southern California's touristy haven which is Santa Barbara?
This Ascension vocalist, Dru, provides some insight...
Sonya: While listening to your latest release, Sever, I felt as if I were back in the beautiful missions of Santa Barbara. Do you receive any inspiration from such sources?
Dru: While we all really appreciate the beauty of this environment, I think at first if anything the band got together as a reaction to living in such a place. Santa Barbara is so homogenous. Most of the buildings are of one style and colorówhite stucco with the red curvy-title roofs. Iím surprised they arenít handing out tickets to people wearing black walking down the street. When we first started playing out, there was only one or two places that would even have us-- and they both closed pretty quickly. Then weíd find a place that was good, play there a bunch of times, and then the club would go, "Oh, we arenít going to have bands any more. Itís too much of a pain. Weíre just going to have DJís." Well this attitude is still pervasive in Santa Barbara and probably worse than ever. There literally is only two places in the whole town to play if you are a loud rock band, and they have their band nights the same evening. Brilliant. One is a surf/sports type bar that itís really hard to imagine us in. But our friend does the booking, so if I know her she will make the best of it.
Sonya: What would you most attribute as your inspiration?
Dru: Early on I became infatuated with girl bands like The Go-Goís and The Bangles, which really helped get me into alternative music. This was way back when theBangles sounded kind of like the Beatlesónot many people knew who they were yetÖ obviously both bands became major Top40 stars as well, but at the time alternative music was really something specialónot like today, ha-ha. I was also inspired by heroines of film and literature, everyone from Medea to Sigourney Weaverís RipleyÖ also heroic women of the real world such as Cleopatra and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Sonya: Major Influences?
Dru: I feel close to a very wide range of music. I admire the brutal honesty of Billie Holidayís voice and the playfulness of Ella Fitzgerald. When I heard Billie Holidayís rendition of "Summertime," and "Strange Fruit" (which I then learned was not a Siouxsie song) it knocked me out. I hadnít thought of music as so "bare" yet so powerful. To me the only thing that comes close to Ella Fitzgerald today is Liz Frasier or Diamanda Galas. That must sound really crazy, but think about itóthey all show insane range and agility and they all sing in jibberish. I am lost in the spirituality of Lisa Gerrard. Itís no exaggeration to say that the woman has made a connection with higher powers. This is why singers were revered in ancient times because people thought they could make contact with the gods or heaven. The first DCD song I heard was De Profundis, and I seriously didnít know that music even remotely like it existed. So I got into that band very quickly. I got to see them a few times and Lisa Gerrard once solo (and Brandon once solo, which was also great). The Lisa show was at McCabeís guitar shop in L.A., a venue that couldnít hold more than about 100 people. So that was really neat. I think an interesting thing about Lisa is that she dresses so plainly when she plays. Donít get me wrong she is a beautiful person, Iím just noticing that she wears a big white robe that almost takes all emphasis away from her physical appearance. This to me just lends more to my theory that sheís almost like a vessel for the music of the universe, god, or whatever you believe in. People that watch her are attracted to this connection she has-- itís not at all about her connection with the audience. I know I could never be like that entirely, but I do strive for that spirituality.
I am very attracted to the Eastern European singing style of Hungary and Bulgaria, but I havenít figured out how to sing like that. One of my all time favorites is Márta Sebestyén who fronts a band called Muzsikás. They play a range of folk/Gypsy/Jewish music from Hungary and Romania. I got to see them this year and I was just floored. Vocally some of Lisa Gerrardís more tribal pieces resemble this style. But there is a tremendous emphasis placed on the "connectedness" of the band with each other and the audience. Itís very personal, like you are all family. I guess ultimately Iíd like to make people feel somewhere between this and what Lisa does.
Sonya: Formal Training?
Dru: I always have enjoyed singing, even when I was really little. I was in chorus in junior high but when I started high school we moved, and the new school had no music programóthis kind of thing to me now sounds unacceptable, but it was a very humble area. I didnít sing again with a group until college, where I was in the chorus for almost four years. I wasnít a Music major so the choir I was in was mostly just for fun. There wasnít a lot of formality about it and we spent most of our time just trying to sound decent. But I was exposed to a wide array of classical and folk pieces. Thatís probably when I got into Hungarian music because we did a lot of Bartok. I also got very interested in Renaissance and Medieval music then.
I joined the band with very little experience. It was almost a fluke. I think mostly the guys just liked me. I seemed like a cool person that would hopefully come across well on stage. And maybe it seemed novel to have a girl in the band after trying out 3 guys. It was hard for a while. The first couple years I had some bad shows all right. J One quarter of college I took a deficit load so I could work on music a little more. But like with all things, the more you do, the better you get. It was nice because at some point I changed from someone who often has bad shows but an occasional good one to one that normally has good ones and an occasional stinker. I know now that Iím at the level where I could never NOT sing. Iím always looking for people to hook up with and excuses to sing. Iím really glad for the band because I donít know if I ever would have explored this avenue otherwise and itís such a big part of me now.
Sonya: Is there a particular category that you prefer to use to describe your sound?
Dru: No, but I wouldnít necessarily put us in the Gothic category. I know, there seems to be a bunch of bands that say "Hey, Weíre not goth!" when asked this question, and if everyone reacts this way, then whoís left to actually be goth? When people like Andrew Eldridge say they arenít goth and they hate goth I canít even believe it. I donít mind getting put in the gothic categoryóon the contrary, itís helped us many times and weíve made new fans solely based on the association. But actually I think we have more in common with bands like Tori Amos, Radiohead, Failure, VASTÖ just really heartfelt music that people donít always warm up to right away. One of my favorite reviews of us says we combine U.S. alt-rock with goth/ethereal and I think that is true.
Sonya: The songs "Mysterium", and "Columba Aspexit" - is the language Latin? Can you explain what these songs are about?
Dru: These are both religious songs. The translation to Mysterium is at http://www.thisascension.com and I do have a translation of "Columba," if people want to email meÖ I have to still find a place for it on the site because people ask about it a lot. I think both songs are way less interesting once translated. "Mysterium" basically celebrates the birth of Christ and is a traditional Celtic songóI donít know who it was by originally. I borrowed the melody from Connie Doverís interpretation of this song (with kind permission) and the band re-arranged it. "Columba" is a song by Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century Abbess who was really ahead of her time (back then women were rarely educated unless they were in a monastery), She became renown as a visionary, composer, poet and naturalist. When I say visionary, I mean it literally. She had a lot of visionsÖ she was Iíd say afflicted by them, and they are immersed in practically all of her songsÖ Columba is really complicated, really symbolic. It presents a vision of St. Maximinus as a celebrant of the Mass. I donít know anything about him except that he was patron of the Benedictine abbey of Trier, Germany. I hope no one would be too disappointed if I just said I really liked these songs and didnít really focus on their meaning.
Sonya: Your music would also be wonderful as a movie score - have you ever considered doing such a project?
Dru: Yes this would be great! So far we havenít done anything except for very small films, but that is still fun to be a part of. This question is addressed more fully a couple questions down from here. We would be interested in any films definitely.
Sonya: What is your favorite song to perform live, and why?
Dru: Everyone has their favorites, and these sort of rotate. I really like doing "Love Lost Years" now, even though itís been around a little while. "I Wish" is a great song live but difficult to pull off, because it requires Tim to play dulcimer as well as finding people to play multiple percussion parts. "Sever" is always great live because itís so high energy and really grabs people. It suits my voice very well, I never have trouble singing it. People say sometime I sound like Gracie Slick (who you Ďyoung-ensí might not know sang in Jefferson Airplaneóweíll just forget about Starship, ok) and Sever could be an example of that. Itís really similar to her range and style and she always sounded so alive. Another really nice one is "Swandive." It really comes across beautifully liveóitís a perfect mixture of attitude and softness.
Sonya: Are their any plans for an upcoming tour?
Dru: Weíve always been the kind of band where everyone has a lot going on outside of the band. People are really focused on their careers and such. Not only did Matt start a multimedia company but he also lives in Texas. But I hope to get something together in the Spring once itís warmer again and then hit the East Coast. Itís been a while since we were there.
Sonya: The inclus