The evening was cool and clear. I sat outside in a courtyard filled with the sound of strings. But unlike a DeBeers diamond commercial, the music throbbed and pulsed, replete with pauses and stops. In places, the meter was purposefully faltering and sluggish, but the band can play these chaotic rhythms in perfect lockstep with each other.
Much of the music is dark and brooding, but the band itself is lighthearted and whimsical. Though they sing about things like drowned little girls, they laugh and spray silly sting on each other during shows. FtBT’s string section dress in odd, brightly-colored outfits that would not look out of place on the eccentric old lady behind the counter at your friendly neighborhood herb shop. Some songs have a Celtic feel to them; others are hooky and hummable. Vocal duties rotate throughout the ensemble, but it is primary the women who sing.
The bassist, Kevin Sims, is an impressive player. I could recommend bass players go to a Flash to Bang Time show for the lesson in technique alone. With no guitar, a bass, and two cellos, no player is stuck holding down the low end for the entire show. This frees up one of the cellists to make high squeaks and other incidental noises or the bass to be used more like a guitar if it suits the song.
Readers in the Atlanta area are perhaps familiar with FtBT’s cellists. The band leader, Linda Stipe, hails from Athens. Perhaps you’ve heard of her brother, Michael? The newest member of the outfit, Diana Obscura, joined earlier this year and also plays with Aphelion. Rounding out the lineup are Amy Heaton on violin and mandolin and Charles Greenleaf on drums.
with the seriousness with which they have constructed their compositions,
the casual, offhand manner of the band was well-suited to their outdoor
show at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Gallery. They seem to spend
a lot of time preparing for shows, so they can afford to relax on stage.
With a lot of variety and originality in their set, FtBT kept my interest
the whole time. Though the two opening acts were unmentionable, the
free admission, fresh night air (as opposed to a smoky club), and the cheap
beer meant there was nowhere else I’d rather have been.
to Bang Time:
Atlanta Contemporary Arts Gallery
May 30th, 2001
Showbox - Seattle WA
~reviewed by Jyri Glynn (of 3SKS)
(photos courtesy the official website: http://www.ohgr.net/)
When one ventures out to see a performance by a musical icon, expectations tend to be higher than normal. May 30th in Seattle, WA was one of these nights and my expectations were certainly elevated. Though I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ogre share the stage with KMFDM a few years back, it had been close to a decade since I had see the man solely front his own act. I certainly hadn’t forgotten the early shocking performances from Skinny Puppy with Ogre orchestrating the central focus of a spectacle. Televisions wrapped in barbwire and strewn across the stage. Ogre convulsing like a mad man soaked in stage blood. This was the launch of the post-punk electronic movement now known as Industrial Music and Ogre is at it again, pioneering the future of the underground music scene.
With the familiar hint of SP-like instrumental keyboards and hard-hitting drums, the band, Ohgr stormed the stage. Much to my delight Ogre was once again accompanied by his old Skinny Puppy band mate, cEvin Key, who sat behind a drum kit so large you, could barely see him. Another proverbial face was Tim Skold from KMFDM backing cEvin rhythmically on what appeared to be some type of MIDI bass.
The instrumental intro came to a climatic end followed immediately by the 80’s sounding track, Suhleap. Hair in face, outfitted in camouflage attire with the lighting just dim enough to keep his face unrecognizable, Ogre proceeded to stagger around the stage with a wooden voodoo mask taunting his audience. As the set carried on with songs Devil and Earthworm, I observed the dancing wave of the crowd erupt in movement. Though this was a bit varied from the mosh pit dancing days of early puppy performances, the crowd was cosmetically similar. Yes, this was certainly the same Ogre who’s experimental theatrics paved the way for the early industrial scene.
The set continued with Solow and was followed by a track I had not yet heard. This unidentified track was also very danceable with just the right amount of 80’s dance flare. Ogre continued to recite the lyrics “Feeling like a god…” throughout the song with a slightly different variation of vocal effects than previously utilized. Xmas lights appeared on the drum set and William Morrison’s keyboards during this song. I wasn’t sure if there was some hidden message behind this; however, when Ogre adopts the stage there usually is some significant correlation…or maybe I had just drank way too much by this point and was interpreting way too much into it all! I suppose this is more likely. None the less, it was an interesting effect.
To the back of the stage, I took notice of a video wall of televisions stacked three high and three across. Ogre certainly has a fondness for video presentation in his shows, so I anticipated a great deal of eye candy. Unfortunately Ogre later explained that due to “technical difficulties” they were unable to get the video wall to work. This was certainly disappointing, as I later learned that the video display is quite amazing.
Oghr continued their set with the first track off their album, WELT, which is, titled Water. Hearing this track played live was slightly heavier than heard on the CD, which I must, confessed I enjoyed immensely. With the conclusion of Water, Ohgr yelled, “What the fuck is the name of this song?” and immediately the band broke into a second song I had never heard. With this questioned fired into the audience, I half expected the band to break into some old SP tune. I was unable to find out if this new track was something we will hear on the second Ohgr album; however, I have been told that this album is already in the making for a next year release. Based on hearing additional new material, I believe this certainly will be a highly anticipated album.
Pore was the next song and I must say I was a little disappointed with it. On the CD itself, Ohgr raps this long series of lyrics and does it at a speed that is frightfully amazing. This was not repeated in the live performance, however which leaves, me to believe that possibly Ohgr’s vocals are alter on the recording.
The set continued with the track Kettle followed by Minus which certainly has a serious Nine Inch Nail texture to it. Loki DerQualeled provided skillful guitar riffs dressed in a dark green Forest Ranger uniform complete with badge and black tie.
Preceding their encore, Chaos concluded the band’s set while Ogre danced and swung his microphone above his head in the air. cEvin pounding his drums in a thunderous tempo replicating a style inherited exclusively from the lair of Skinny Puppy.
For the encore Ohgr played two additional songs, one of which was unknown to me; however, Ogre revealed the second as a new song written by cEvin and added that it would be appearing on cEvin’s next album. This song was titled “Frozen Sky” and was my favorite of the night. The execution was exceptional, beginning with an atmospheric feel and developing into a surreal, dance melody. With this climatic finale the band vanished the stage leaving the audience aspiring for the next show and release of this celebrated musical project.
"...smarter than the average bear..."
~interview by Matthew
Mary is one of the hardest working and experienced female musicians in the dark metal underground, and she is not just another passive angelic soprano vocalist. Instead, she is an accomplished bassist whose musical contributions are just as physical and as relevant as any long-haired guitar-shredding male. Her first streak of infamy was with the early 1990’s band Mythic, which was an all female death metal act, complete with daemonic, sepulchral vocals. She has since worked with several hardcore, punk, and metal bands, most notably November’s Doom, one of the most successful and influential bands within the Gothic/Doom scene. She is now back in her hometown of Pittsburgh strumming thunder for the legendary doom rockers Penance. Mary is a fun and lively young woman, as beautiful as she is talented. And without a doubt, she is surely a Woman Who Rocks! Read what Mary has to say about her work throughout the years and what she is up to these days with Hammerheart America. But whatever you do, never ask her what it’s like to be a girl in a heavy metal band! <winks>
Starvox: How did you get involved with music, and specifically, how did you begin playing bass?
Mary: My first serious run with music started when I was 7 years old playing drums. I took private lessons from a jazz drummer/percussionist for some years and continued to play until I was about 14 years old. I think my love for such musicians as Jack Bruce, John Paul Jones and John Entwistle lured me away from drums and towards electric bass guitar. My first bass was bought for me when I was 15 by a bunch of good friends for my birthday! (How cool is THAT?) I immediately began playing in punk bands and actually went on to major in music in college and actually acquire a degree in jazz performance. It's been downhill ever since.
Starvox: If you could, please list what bands you have worked with over the years and in which ways are/were they personally significant to you?
Mary: Ha ha! I think every band I was in held a great deal of significance for me. I have actually been in about 35-40 different bands ranging from death metal to rockabilly. My favorites were Mythic, Wormhole, The Rowdy Bovines, Master Mechanic, Em Sinfonia, Novembers Doom, filling in for Submachine and now playing in Penance.
Starvox: What are some of the most notable experiences or valuable lessons you have learned in working with all these different bands?
Mary: Learning how to play alongside new musicians is an all around great experience. It's FUN and satisfying and that's what makes being in bands worth pursuing. If we were all doing it for the money we all would have quit two months in. I have enjoyed playing with many different styles of bands as it has taught me more about truly learning my instrument in general. Being open minded about different styles of music is very unhip these days, but in all of my nerdiness, I still believe that it is the way to be. I still hope to be playing at age 65, probably in a blues band or something!
Starvox: What style of music do you enjoy playing the most and why? Doom? Hardcore? Death?
Mary: I hate to sound wishy-washy again, but I really enjoy playing a LOT of different types of music. I must say that I had the most fun playing punk, doom and rock and roll. Again, I'm looking at this from a "fun" standpoint as there is no way in hell that I could ever actually make a living off of being a musician.
Starvox: Mythic was one of your first bands. As an all female death/doom band, how did the three of you manage to overcome all the gender stereotypes?
Mary: You know, at that time, I think that people were less likely to gender-stereotype OR race stereotype others within that scene. A lot of people involved with what was considered to be the metal/death/doom/grind scene were people who were looking to produce and represent music that focused on individuality, thus ALL were welcome. I have watched it get progressively worse, especially over the last ten years. I think that sexism and racism have unfortunately become more widely accepted in underground metal and it's the number one reason why I choose not to support so much of the "scene" in this day and age.
Starvox: Why do you suppose women are always pushed to the back of the metal scene? Perhaps more specifically, why do you suppose metal is so often regarded as a strictly male phenomenon?
Mary: Because talented female musicians are smarter than your average bear and usually gravitate towards music that they can actually make a CAREER of, such as jazz or classical. Just kidding! :)
Starvox: One of the most, dare I say, ‘popular’ bands you worked with was Novembers Doom. What are some of your fondest memories of your experiences with them and how did you hook up with them in the first place?
Thanks to a friend named Milo, I was introduced to Novembers Doom personally
when I moved to Chicago. (5 years ago) It was the typical situation
- They needed a bass player and I was the new kid in town, so we all exchanged
numbers, scheduled rehearsal time and played. It was great - they
are amazing musicians - some of the best I've ever played with to date.
The whole time I was in the band was a great time. We had a lot fun playing together and I wouldn't trade those times for the world. They made my whole experience living in Chicago a positive one. They were and always will be family.
Starvox: One of the most common mistakes fans make is that you also provided back up vocals for "The Knowing" release. Who actually did sing on the album, just for the sake of facts?
Mary: Thank you! He he! The vocals on past Novembers Doom releases were performed by Cathy Jo Henja. Cathy unfortunately decided to relocate to Florida and we really scrambled to find an equally great vocalist to fill her shoes. We were never able to find a proper replacement for her, so my very good friend Sarah, who had had some singing experience in the past, stepped in to help on some tracks on the latest album. She did a great job and we were happy to have her participate on our release.
Starvox: Why was your time in Novembers Doom so brief?
Mary: Well, I did a good 3 years with the band and when I decided to move back to Pittsburgh it became clear that the distance would present a problem the band in the long run. My departure was strictly demographic. We tried to do it across the miles but as they became busier and busier and I became involved with other musical ventures in Pittsburgh, we realized that it would be best for a new person to step in and replace me.
Starvox: You are now working with Penance, a traditional doom metal band centered in Pittsburgh. There is quite a history with the band; they could often be referred to as unsung heroes in some cases. Would you mind giving our readers a brief overview of the band?
Mary: I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play with Penance. Those guys have more of a history in doom than most by a long shot. In the mid 80s, Penance was known as Dream Death and were forerunners of what we classify as doom. I honestly could not put their history into my own words and do them proper justice, so I'm going to be cheesy and tell everyone to check out the bio and discography on the Penance web site at http://www.penancemusic.com! There one can find an extensive bio on the band as well as info on Matt Tuite and lil' ol' me, the new members.
Starvox: How did you come to work with Penance? Do you contribute to the song writing process and if not, will you in the future?
Mary: When I ran into the Penance guys at the Emissions of the Monolith festival last year, I told them that I was going to be relocating back to Pittsburgh in the fall and asked if any of our friends happened to be looking for a bass player. They said they'd keep in touch and let me know. About two months before I moved back, they E-mailed and said that their bass player (Ron) had decided to move out of Pittsburgh and that we could get together and play a little when I arrived home for good. We did and it worked out great. We have already come up with a lot of new material and everyone contributes their own instrumentation to the songs. The majority of the riffs are written by Terri, Matt and Mike though. Five brand new tracks will be included on our upcoming release, ALPHA AND OMEGA, on Martyr Music Group in August. If anyone is interested in hearing the new stuff, they should go to the Martyr site (www.martyrmusicgroup.com) for updates on the release.
Starvox: You are also currently working for the American branch of Hammerheart Records, which is stationed in Pittsburgh. How did you hook up with Hammerheart?
Mary: I have known Maria who runs Hammerheart America for a few years.She was living in NYC when we met but our paths crossed NUMEROUS times when I was living in Chicago, if that makes any sense. Aside of the fact that we shared mutual Chicago friends, we got to know each other better as she released two CDs that I contributed to on her label, Martyr Music Group. Since I had worked in indie distribution while I lived in Chicago and had experience on the sales front, we joked about the idea of me moving back to Pittsburgh and working for Hammerheart out of my house. A few months later I did just that. Maria came to visit a few times and we came to the agreement that Pittsburgh is financially and geographically a good place to run a business, so she actually picked up and moved the entire ooperartion here. With the addition of Jorge Orsovay to our previous crew of two, things are now moving along nicely.
Starvox: What would you say sets Hammerheart records apart from other metal labels?
Mary: I enjoy the fact that although Hammerheart has built a strong reputation on releasing material of the metal persuasion, they don't shy away from releasing artists that are a bit more cutting edge, such as the folk cultured based bands Hagalaz Runedance, Corona Borealis and Hekate. They still focus on putting out bands that they truly LIKE as opposed to how many records they could potentially sell. I also believe that they are honest and upfront with their bands and that's a pretty hard thing to come by these days. I actually have NEVER been a fan of the music industry itself, so I could not work for a company that was dishonest or unfair to their artists. Hammerheart is very supportive of the people that they back and they treat their label as a "We're all in this together" operation. I like that very much.
Starvox: Hope these stimulate your thoughts. One last question, what’s it like being a girl in a metal band?? <laughing>
Mary: Hmmmm, let me see. Well, it's a lot like being a girl in a metal band!!!!
(Pittsburgh Punk at its FINEST!)
~Interview and photos by J
Salome’s Wish, one of Atlanta’s newer bands has recently come into its own. After opening for some internationally acclaimed acts at the Masquerade and the Echo Lounge, they’ve been in the studio with a top-ranked producer and are currently handling the June residency at the Star Bar. I recently caught up with their frontwoman Sue and guitarist Noel at Sue’s house, where she lives with her husband/band manager Travis. The house is all about music. The occasional parties there always feature music, and I can remember seeing Fiend Without a Face, the Vessels of Sin, the Unsatisfied, the Fabulous Lounge Punks, The Stimulants (Sue’s other band) – all luminaries of the local scene play in the living room over the years. I arrived to find a Joy Division video on the TV, the former bassist for Salome’s Wish (whom they still are friends with) delivering flyers for an upcoming show, and guitars in every room. Travis wanted me to see a Last Dance CD-ROM he’d gotten his hands on. Justin, from Birmingham’s oddball punk band the Nowhere Squares, was in town and crashing on the couch for the weekend, entertaining Noel’s girlfriend Christine while Noel and I talked about guitar players. We all had a few beers, and it went something like this:
J: Sue, in your pop-punk band the Stimulants, you have never been afraid to throw other influences and styles into the mix, such as psychedelia or surf, when you feel like it. Why, then, a separate goth band?
Sue: Because of Noel. That’s the best answer because I’ve never truly co-written with somebody else.
Noel: What about before?
S: I’d show up with completed songs and they just write their parts.
J: What’s with the name? Did somebody read Oscar Wilde?
N: Nope. It was fun. I was only vaguely familiar with the story of Salome. I was hanging out with our friend [Gors from the Flowers for Luci] one night and we didn’t have a name and Sue and I knew that we were going to keep writing, so we were like, “We need to put a name to this.” I was hanging out at [Gor’s] rehersal pad one night and I was like, “Hey, you got any good names?” He was like, “Yeah, I got a good one. I’ve always wanted to use this, but I’ve never really felt I had a project to use this. Try ‘Salome’s Wish’.” He had Salome’s Last Dance, the Ken Russell play, which is based on the play by Oscar Wilde, which is based on the fucking biblical story. I though, “Hey, that’s perfect. That just transcends so many fucking barriers. You’ve got the theater, you’ve got the decadence, you’ve got all the big words‹everything right there that you can just fucking run with. I want to play off it a little bit more, it just hasn’t happened yet.
J: You mean dress up like Nebuchanezzar and stuff?
N: No, not even that. We’re going to get our thing going and we’re going to have a really cool, poetic rock ‘ roll band. I want to play off that a little bit more, but I don’t really know yet. I don’t want to do the obvious thing. I don’t want to do the shave your eyebrows, bleach your hair red, pierce your cock bullshit. I want everybody to be able to get together and have a good time. Preferably everyone drops their robes and has sex or whatever, does drugs, just everybody does whatever the fuck they want to do. If they can do it while we’re playing, then that’s awesome. That’s where we’re at.
J: Christine, how do you vote on the cock piercing part?
Christine: I’d prefer he not do it.
J: Sue, you want Travis to?
J: Justin, do you have a girlfriend?
J: Would she go for cock piercing?
Justin: She probably wouldn’t care as long as I didn’t show it to anybody else.
N: We’re going to work Oscar Wilde in there. Oscar Wilde is the man. He doesn’t really hold much bearing over the name, but we knew it would piss people off.
S: Well, mostly piss people off who are trying to do ads for us. “How do you spell that again?”
J: Back to the name: If there’s no repercussions, you can chop off anybody’s head and get away with it, whose head would you chop off?
N: Do you have to tell why?
J: No, you can just say the name and people can assume.
N: Mark Wallace.
J: Who is Mark Wallace?
N: He’s a porn star.
J: I’m going to have to ask for an explanation here.
N: I forget the actress’s name, but Mark Wallace performed in a porno movie knowingly dodging his AIDS test when in fact he ended up be positive. This chick has tested positive for AIDS and I think that’s really shitty. I always thought I was down with Mark Wallace until I read about that. See, we’re sociopolitical.
T: Rush Limbaugh.
J: That’s not one you have to explain.
J: Noel, how did you meet Sue?
N: Through our pals Nillah. I was in another band called Psychoactivate here in Atlanta with this guy named Andy Williams. He was a strip club DJ. I knew directly out of Macon I wanted to do something; I didn’t give a fuck what was going on around me. After a few years and zero gigs I finally figured out this probably isn’t happening. I left. I had a brief stint with Flowers for Luci.
J: When did you play for them?
N: For about two weeks. Trey replaced me.
J: What did you play for them?
S: He can play anything.
N: Much misery segued into me working with Joseph McKenny for a little while and he asked me to out to the Point to see this band Path of Allyson. I thought, “You know what, I’m glad somebody’s actually trying to test this flavor out on the local scene.” I hadn’t seen anybody doing it‹I didn’t know anybody. I signed their mailing list; Nillah ends up getting their mailing list. We’re bullshitting back and forth, they seem all right, so I go see them one night at the Dark Horse. It was a Wednesday, not a Friday or Saturday. They asked me what the fuck I was doing. I said I was writing songs, romanticizing about having a female vocalist. They were like, “Well, there’s one here tonight, but she’s in another band, but she might be up for doing something else. We’ll introduce you to her.” And that was Sue. So I’m a lucky bastard. Don’t accuse me of my karma not being correct. I went out one fucking night and it’s over. When I first heard her sing, it was really over. I got busy. I started smacking the depressive things. Now I just want to have a fucking good time. I’m tired of being a depressed little bitch.
J: Sue, what were doing at the Nillah show? Were y’all playing?
S: No, I was just hanging out, watching the Nillah folks.
N: She was networking.
S: Yep. Shakin’ hands and kissin’ babies.
J: What was your first impression of Noel.
N: What a dork!
S: No, no.
J: Was Noel drunk?
S: Well . . . yeah. I liked him. It just clicked. Something in my head said, “Oh, he’s cool.”
J: What did y’all start doing together first?
S: He had an extra room in his house, and he’d just gotten a Triton keyboard. He sent me a tape. We e-mailed each other a couple of times.
N: She was going to hook me up with this other chick . . .
S: Katherine Moye. But then I got the tape, I was like, “No, I want to do this shit.”
The day she finally showed up I was sitting around going, “Yeah, she’s
not going to show up. She’s going to hate me. I’m a dork. Fuck,
Carolyn’s going to fucking piss her off or something. She’s going
to think I’m a flake, I don’t have a rehersal pad. I just got this
keyboard. I don’t even really know what the fuck I’m doing.
She came in and, literally, just like she did every single time.
She was like, “Play it again. One more time. Okay, let me try it.”
And not a fucking word would come out, but nothing
but the most authoritative of melody. And she read it perfectly and she laid it out and just knocked my fucking ass out. It was perfect, because that was the worst relationship I’ve been in in my life. I felt like Chris Chandler. It was like, “I know what the top of the dome looks like all too well. I know how many dots are up there and everything.”
S: I clicked with the music. The first three times we hung out we wrote three songs.
N: Sue is my wife in music; it’s an inbred musical marriage.
J: Do you get in bed to write songs?
J: Then how do you write songs?
Justin: In the back seat of a car.
S: Lots of acid. No, we haven’t had that much acid.
N: So far, what’s gone down, which I think is about to change‹we’re going to start having other people initializing shit‹I’ll be in some sort of crazy-ass mood and I’ll hear a wind chime or a car and I’ll hear a three part melody. It can be anything. I’ll hear something and it takes me somewhere, sort of like Björk’s character in Dancer in the Dark, that kind of thing. Anything can have some kind of melody. That’s where it’s been so far and just kind take it and make something totally poppy and leave it open for her to come in. She comes in and reads it and is like “Okay, Let me try it.” And it’s great. We should probably have thirty, forty, fifty songs by now, but it’s just not that easy.
J: Sue, where to you get your words from?
S: A lot from the past. I’ve been digging up a lot of skeletons and looking at them.
J: How far back are you going?
S: Childhood. I think all the first songs are a lot about kid stuff, since this is the babyhood of the group, so a lot of them are like a little kid in a thunderstorm kind of lyrics.
N: It’s like Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland. I’m the same way, but neither one of us knows where the other is coming from. It just happens to work.
S: It’s really a change for me to stretch out and do a little more wonder and sadness‹the wonderful sadness kind of things.
N: It’s sort of a chance to reach back to those people who were sad and say, “It’s all right.”
Justin: I think when you go back, it gives you experiences to write about that may have been traumatic at the time, but you’re so far away from that, that it’s easy to put that stuff into perspective. If you took a traumatic experience now, you’re like, “I don’t want to write about this crappy car wreck I got in yesterday.”
N: You can also see some other little kid and see what situation they’re in.
Justin: Childhood things are real universal.
J: Tell me about your keyboard player since he’s not here.
S: He’s brilliant. Totally brilliant. That was my first impression of him. He’s sort of like the absent-minded professor sort of brilliant.
T: He was doing a lot of improv.
S: Yeah, at art galleries and stuff.
N: He was also playing bass in a church. His mother is very Christian. He got paid for it.
S: He’s putting a computer together right now. That’s why he’s not here.
N: He’s a web engineer.
S: We love him.
N: In the failed project I was in, somebody referred me to him. He said if I was into Steve Severin-style bass playing, he’s the man to get. I get his number and I call him and he’s nice enough‹neurotic as fuck, but nice enough; but the problem was he’s not talking so much about rocking and everything else. He’s totally into electronica. Will Colbert, also from Flowers for Luci, did our first show, but he fell asleep in the studio. I figured that wasn’t a good person to have. I talked to the other guy again and to my surprise he said, “I’ll try it.” I didn’t believe him, but now he’s so into it, he got a computer and Logic Gold software for it.
J: Does he run your drum machine?
S: Yeah, he’s running the Triton right now. He has three keyboards I’ve seen.
N: He’s really come into his own. He’s found his place. Initially, I programmed the drum beats, but he’s much more technical that I am. He’s brought a SCSI board and a fucking Zip drive into it, so we’ve can have quick loading times and don’t have 45 seconds between songs.
J: How’s the temporary bassist thing working out for you?
S: I don’t know. You’re moving out of town, aren’t you?
J: Yeah, I talked to Noel about that but I was already definitely moving to 'Frisco by that point. That would be so much fun. I liked your old guy, though. He had such a sense of style.
S: But he wasn’t into it.
T: Trey was into it, but he’s more into the visual stuff.
J: He was all Smiths-looking the time you did Nomenclature. He had his little argyle sweater and this Morrissey haircut. I knew where this guy was coming from.
S: He started not being into it anymore. I got together with him and said, “Are you in or are you out? 'Cause we’ve got a lot of shows coming up.”
J: How long have you been playing out as a band?
N: Really only about 8 months.
T: The first time they played out was the Star Bar. They did three songs. They only had three songs.
J: For the Stimulants’ residency?
N: Yeah, last June. This June it’s Salome’s Wish. Two Junes in a row.
T: The first real show was at the Echo Lounge. They got lucky enough to do it with the Last Dance, who’d come out from Hollywood, and Bella Morte.
N: How’d we end up on that show?
S: Mike Cuccaro. Remember we only had four days to get ready?
J: So how’d you land the Star Bar residency?
N: We sent our keyboard player. I think it involved nakedness and a boa.
T: June is the month for Geminis. Sue is a Gemini. Her two bands are a manifestation of her two-sided personality. It also fits in with her two consecutive June residencies at the Star Bar.
J: Give me the week-by-week rundown on the Wednesday lineups.
S: The first week is total angst. It’s Drill Team and Sonia Tetlow; I mean STB. Our second week is our artsy week, with Vietnam, and also Crybaby. Our third week is the bomb: Summer Solstice. We’ve got the Flowers for Luci and Myssouri.
T: We’re going to have some passes to Reunion at Nomenclature each week to keep the usual Wednesday crowd from having to pay two covers.
S: The last week we’ve got Spectralux and Tourmaline.
T: They’re sort of like Underwater. They’re new and they’re good folks. They’re real ambient.
J: What’s up with this goth stuff at the Star Bar? It’s a rockabilly joint.
T: We’re filling the place up with fog. For the Summer Solstice show, we’re going to rip out the red meat Americana and make Elvis wear his death mask. But the Star Bar has been open to every kind of music. I’ve seen bands get on stage that didn’t have songs longer than 30 seconds. They have all sorts of music there. It seemed like the right thing. I like the atmosphere there. One of the bartenders also works at the Chamber. A lot of people have said we’re crazy for having that kind of music in the Star Bar, but we’re doing multi-genre shows. Johnny Cash wears black, so screw it.
The Flowers for Luci
Oscar Wilde¹s Salome
Path of Allyson
~interview by Jett Black
(photos courtesy of the SMP website)
(From the biographical details found inside http://www.smphq.com/ the SMP website...)
SMP's music has been described as cyber-punk. A blend of Industrial-Dance and Rap-Rock. It's danceable, aggressive, diverse and complex. Those who appreciate Rage Against the Machine, Prodigy, KMFDM, PM5K, Meat Beat Manifesto and Ministry will find SMP has something impressive to offer.
Terminal, SMP's 3rd release is on the ADSR Musicwerks record label. Terminal enjoyed a stay on the top 40 CMJ RPM charts, was featured on MTV's popular Road Rage program and spawned a 21 date tour across the US. Upcoming CD, Hacked, is the much anticipated remix CD of the favorite tracks from Terminal. Artists such as Stromkern, Flesh Field, Any Questions?, Thine Eyes, Mindless Faith, Doll Factory and several others lent their production skills to the project. Hacked will be available this summer.
SMP's previous two releases, Ultimatum (ADSR/Catastrophe Records, 1998) and Stalemate (Cargo/Re-Constriction Records, 1995) brought SMP to a broad audience with 4 national tours, and extensive support from the press, including Outburn Magazine, Sideline Magazine, CMJ Magazine, The Seattle Times and Alternative Press. Both CDs were in heavy rotation with the countries club and radio DJs, and the band enjoyed a spot on CMJ's RPM charts for several months.
SMP's live show is an astounding experience that sets them far apart from their contemporaries and has impressed thousands of fans across the nation. Furious drumming, grinders throwing out sparks, and raw punk rap vocals all set the stage for their thumping bass lines and strong melodies for a dancing crowd.
SMP was founded in 1992 by Bazinet and Sean Ivy and the pair wrote and released Stalemate in 1995. In 1997 Ivy took a brief hiatus from the band and SMP's 2nd CD, Ultimatum was written and produced almost exclusively by Bazinet. In 1998 Ivy returned for the Terminal album cycle and will have tracks included on Hacked.
now, a few words from SMP by Jason Bazinet
Jett: Who are other musicians appearing on SMP recordings?
Jason: Jeremy Moss, whom I've been collaborating with since Ultimatum. I met him while he was playing bass with KSK. He's a very talented guy in many ways and shares with me a love for hip-hop. So him and me click pretty well. Lance Hayes fronts the band Meat Distributors, but I believe he's working on a new project right now. He is a great singer and songwriter and I've always been fond of his voice.
Jett: Tell us about the instrumentation and musical backgrounds.
Jason: I've been playing the drums since the 4th grade. I have some jazz experience as well. I started singing and writing songs via the sampler in 1992. Initially I was into punk rock, but it seemed that Industrial was almost more punk than punk in the early 90s.
Jett: Who do you admire most in LIVE musical performance?
Jason: Off the top of my head I thought that Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Babyland, Hate Dept, Razed in Black, NIN, TKK and Pigface all had great live shows. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see bands like the Circle Jerks, Fear, Dead Kennedy's and Black Flag.
Jett: When & where will SMP tour next?
Jason: 2001, the USA. If I have anything to say about it.
Jett: What do you enjoy most so far about performing LIVE with SMP?
Jason: I love touring and meeting people that enjoy our music.
Jett: Please describe the setting where you meet to rehearse.
Jason: Somewhere in the seedy underbelly of the city of Seattle. That's all I can say.
Jett: Where do you do most of your recording?
Jason: All the recording is done at the smphq. It's moved around quite a bit though.
Jett: In what ways will your live performances differ from recordings?
Jason: We try to make our shows a real show. We don't see much point in having people come out to just listen to the CD while we stand around on a stage. We want people to be entertained, so we try to really make it something to see.
c What other side projects are you currently considering and developing?
Jason: I plan to take over the planet, legalize crack and ban Everquest.
Jett: Describe the feedback you have received in response to your music.
Jason: Everything from 'SMP are gods!' to 'SMP sucks!'.
Jett: How do you determine what aspects of poetry, and lyrics will work with your musical intent.
Jason: Nothing is off limits, it's pretty much off the cuff type of stuff.
Jett: What will you entitle your next release, and when will it be available?
Jason: It will be called "Hacked". You will be able to purchase it at http://www.cdbaby.com/smp
Jett: Who will be distributing your next releases?
Jason: Metropolis probably.
Jett: From what have you drawn upon most to develop your music?
Jett: When did you start developing a commitment of recording and performing music?
Jason: 1998. Before that I was unfocused.
Jett: Please tell our readers about the origins of SMP. Who has had the most influence upon your progression as a musician?
Jason: Originally I was an inventor, not a musician. I decided as a point of national pride we Americans should reach the moon before the Russians. In our attempt to reach the moon we were struck by cosmic rays and crash-landed back on earth with musical powers. Needless to say our rocket launch was unauthorized and went unnoticed by history.
Jett: Where else might readers find your music available for purchase?
Jason: Try http://www.industrial-music.com or http://www.dsbp.cx
Jett: What are you looking for now in terms of new musical influences?
Jason: Harsh industrial & abstract hip-hop.
Jett: Open the resume and describe a few of SMP's proud moments.
Jason: We've worked hard for everything we've gotten, so its hard to pin-point particular moments. I'm proud of all of our releases, our tours. We've had some amazing shows. Everything we do, we do ourselves. It feels good when you decide to tour, you book the tour, you promote the tour, you drive across the country, you do the shows and it all goes well.
Jett: Which live performances have you seen during the past year that impressed you the most?
Jason: Hate Dept was pretty good. All the synthpop I saw was pretty weak though.
Jett: How do you know when you connect with your audience?
Jason: You can usually feel the vibe of the room. If you're playing rooms with over 1000 people it's probably a bit harder.
Jett: What innovative concepts would you like to focus upon in your future performances and recordings?
Jason: A pile of per-diem recording money and an engineer in a mini-skirt would be an improvement.
Jett: What is the greatest drain upon your motivation to unleash the music you produce?
Jason: The vultures and roaches of the music business really get me down sometimes. It's hard to keep up the fight when the business end of it is so exhausting.
Jett: What motivates you to continue performing and recording new music?
Jason: What else would I do?
Jett: Describe some of the creative techniques and instrumentation used to develop your recordings.
Jason: For the virtually non-existent budget we are given we do pretty well. I don't want to give any secrets away though.
Jett: What new opportunities are you exploring and developing to advance your music to the general public?
Jason: We are working with BMI to get our music into under-bugeted TV shows and movies.
Jett: Tell us a bit about the most memorable performances you have had with SMP to date.
Jason: Front 242, cuz a lot of people were there and it was just a lot of fun. Vanilla 'the-funky-rhyme-killer' Ice cuz everyone gave us shit about it. Every industrial elitist griped about us doing that show, but some really good things came out of it.
Jett: How is SMP evolving?
Jason: I am growing a third eye that spots the true intentions of lying fake industry people.
Jett: Tell us about your musical gear. What do you use?
Jason: I use an ASR-10. So how about a sponsorship Emu?
Jett: How do you manipulate gear, technology and know-how to unleash the music?
Jason: I read the manual like everyone else should.
Jett: Tell us about sampling and how it weaves into the music.
Jason: Sampling is very important to SMP's sound.
Jett: How do Internet resources impact how you are able to expose and market your music?
Jason: Anyone with a computer can find and purchase our CDs at http://www.cdbaby.com/smp or download some mp3s at http://www.mp3.com/smp2
The Internet has definitely been useful to us.
Jett: What milestones have been most notable for you in the development and advancement of your music?
Jason: Well we've certainly had a lot of doors to kick in along the way but I still don't feel we've gotten what we have coming yet.
Jett: When is your songwriting most productive?
Jason: When I'm under pressure.
Jett: What brings you to a stage of productive lyrical development?
Jason: Anger, depression, hope, any strong emotion or introspection. I wish I were better at getting what I think out to people. I have too many ideas for various things that I am unable to do or express.
Jett: What lies ahead for SMP musical developments?
Jason: I refuse to fade into obscurity that's for sure. Hacked is coming out soon. Keep your eyes on http://www.smphq.com
Jett: Which songs required more significant development in production?
Jason: The song "September" was a real bitch to mix so I re-wrote the entire track using the original vocals. "Take a Trip" was also a real bitch and we needed to drop a song off of Terminal due to time restrictions, so it got bounced. Those 2 songs are still unreleased and will probably remain that way.
Jett: What challenges have you experienced thus far in expressing your views through music?
Jason: The challenges are dealing with labels and promoters. Some of the people in this industry are hideous.
Jett: Where can our readers find on-line audio of music by SMP?
There are a pile of MP3s at http://www.mp3.com/smp2
Other than that you can find us all over Napster of course.
Jett: Where can readers write to with any further questions and feedback?
Jason: There is a messageboard at the SMP website: http://www.smphq.com or if someone wants to email me personally I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org For business stuff contact SMP management/Deirdre at email@example.com
Jett: What have you cooked up for SMP in the next few weeks and months?
Jason: Hacked is in being worked on right now as well as some work for a couple compilations and we are working on some original material for a future release, too.
Jett: What does SMP plan to accomplish by year's end?
Jason: The SMP remix CD, Hacked will be out in 2001, plus a tour as well will happen. Several compilation appearances and remixes will no doubt happen.
Jett: What hats do you wear in the production process?
Jason: All, except for Final Mastering. I like to be involved in all aspects of production. Putting the material together for a CD is a lot of work, I'm not going to just hand it over to someone to finish it.
Jett: What other musical projects can you tell us about?
Jason: SMP is my life.
Jett: What more would you like to share with our readers?
Thanks for all the support. The fans and supporters are really important
in keeping us going.
the SMP website www.smphq.com
for more info, pictures, and downloads. Contact SMP manager Deirdre
Wehrman for more info or interviews. firstname.lastname@example.org
with Trance To The Sun
~interview by Mike Ventarola
(All Photos: Copyright www.trancetothesun.com
Artwork Copyright:Ingrid Blue)
Trance To The Sun's career has spanned the gamut of numerous concert appearances from 1994 up to 2000, with potentially a few more on the way.
Their album releases include the current work, Atrocious Virgin, along with Eleven Years and Counting, a retrospective MP3 CD that should be available until February 2002. Additional full CD releases include Urchin Tear Soda, Azalean Sea, Venomous Eve, Bloom Flowers, Bloom, and Ghost Forest.
Despite the many line-up changes and transitions, band creator Ashkelon Sain remains the ingenious creator of some highly sophisticated works. His classical music training along with his independent spirit for coddling the muse of impromptu creativity has made the musical work a vast dichotomy between serious and tongue in cheek. The sense of morbidity that splays across the panorama of playfulness embodies the essence of work to be cogitated on a much grander scale. When all is said and done, Trance to the Sun create music that remains a legacy for the underground scene now and in the future.
reviewing the latest work, Atrocious Virgin, for Starvox (see April's
Archives), I had the pleasure of interviewing band members Sain and
Ingrid Blue. Despite the vast number of releases and the multitude of interviews
they have given, there were still some questions that were missing
from former interviews that as a reviewer and fan, I just had to know about.
What follows are the gracious answers to the questions posed to this enigmatic
Mike Ventarola: It seems that your first gig was 3/11/94 and your most recent one was 7/7/00. Compare and contrast those two experiences, earmarking major points between the two that led to your growth to where you are now.
Ashkelon Sain: The first thing that comes to mind is that in the year of the Dog with the sun in Aries I knew everyone in the crowd, but I knew next to nothing about performing on stage with a sequencing device to back us up. By the following year of the Dragon with the sun in Cancer I knew next to nobody in the crowd, but in the realm of combining live players with electronic ones, I had gained a reasonable expertise.
I recall one outstanding gig, Atlanta 1996. Afterward Zoë and Gordon Sharp (cindytalk) took off to their own hotel, I can’t remember where everyone else went but just myself and our roadie were left to pack the wagon in the snow and push some lovely goth boy’s car out of a rut and then chase it on foot as it careened down a hill and save it just before it smashed into a wall. The time was 5 a.m. and we were in a rush because there was a set of gorgeous goth girls waiting to take us to breakfast at Denny’s. Upon us being ready-engine-running, they set off at 70 mph one-way-street / wrong-way. When in Rome...
We found ourselves on the freeway doing 90 with a light snowfall. An exit featured a red traffic light whose cautionary advice was not heeded, and the present Atlanta fuzz was eluded thanks to my clever employment of no headlights. I realized just how drunk I was after I had ditched the car in the Denny’s parking lot, made a mad dash for the door and smashed my head as I opened it. Breakfast was delicious and the coffee was superb. I might also add that I’ve dined at well over 100 different Denny’s restaurants and the best one I’ve found is located on the east side of Albuquerque off I-40.
And the point being, there are methods in the music business, which must be adhered to if you are to do it right, or do it at all. Some are challenging, some are frightening, and still others are potentially deadly. Moreover, you will never know what being a working musician is like until you’ve done it. The job description is rewritten every 5 minutes and one’s most important asset outside of musicianship is the ability to adapt.
MV: In one interview you mentioned that your primary influence behind your work is sex and all the significant emotions, such as heartache, rage and passion. Which songs could the reader program the CD player to in order to incite lust for an all night horizontal experience?
AS: Allow me to clarify one thing. Sexual energy is a source of magic, and a source of witchcraft. I am drawing upon that same energy to create music. But the worlds I aspire to reveal through the use of sound are by no means limited to those of copulatory interaction. That aside, I can readily see from 8 years of steady fan mail that our albums have inspired numerous lustful occasions between our audience members.
We now have seven official releases, and a horizontal all-nighter might still necessitate all seven played end to end. But to draw in a little closer, I can say that without a doubt that “Venomous Eve” and “Atrocious Virgin” convey the most erotic energy.
MV: Do you have any plans to record a Cd that is purely compatible with physical intimacy?
AS: No. I am just not that big of a pervert.
MV: Do you think there is a lack of dark music that relates to sex on the physical level outside of the fetish genre?
AS: Not if you consider The London Suede. (and certainly not if you consider Barry White!) That may leave a few niches to be filled however.
Ingrid Blue: I can’t help but add Tindersticks
MV: Which promoters have had good integrity that you would trust to work with again? Feel free to bash the bad ones too if you like.
AS: The good ones might kill me if they suddenly received an influx of booking inquiries from lousy bands as a result of my endorsements. And the bad ones are prone to violence plain and simple. Bearing that in mind, I’ll still say that Fernando in SF, Scary Sarah in Chicago, Loon in Cleveland, Violet & Rick in Seattle, Michelle in Detroit and Joe in New Orleans have provided us with some remarkable show experiences. They give a fuck and they know how to do so properly. On the other hand, there’s a guy in Rochester who can suck my thick wrought iron fire poker.
MV: Ingrid, you have been singing with the band since 1997. Before this you were the violinist. How did it feel to go from the musician sector to the front person of the band? How intimidating was the initial experience? Do you still change the lyrics when doing live shows or have you developed a routine that fits with Ashkelon’s regimentation?
IB: to answer your last question first, I usually don’t change the lyrics when I’m on stage, because the feelings contained within the songs are for me still relevant... when I no longer feel real singing them, however, I do change them a bit.
I don’t consider myself to be working within constraints of guidelines set up by Ashkelon. We improvise and reflect on stage, are real and in the moment and completely free, completely tuned into each other and the strength of our music. The only constraint either one of us has on stage is the limit created by working with a drum machine...a thing I personally want to change soon.
There’s a freedom obtainable only by having a full band... I never really was the violinist for Trance To The Sun, I was more just a guest musician...there was a gap in the music which I was able to fill at the time...no live shows or anything. I was scared shitless the first time I sang for ash, but once we started working on songs, because of the strength of our friendship and our obvious synthesis of musical tastes and ideals, it became natural almost directly.
MV: With Atrocious Virgin, you managed to come up with a few tracks that are “danceable Pink Floyd” in some respects. How far have you come with meeting this goal that you set for yourself so many years ago?
AS: The sound I had in my head at the age of 14 when I proposed a “Danceable Pink Floyd” is only remotely similar to, and in no way superior to the sound I am known for now. And I find that ancient resolve more amusing than anything else. It shows that you can’t predict what your dreams will really be like on the day you wake up within them.
MV: After many lineup changes, most folks would have thrown in the towel. You continued to move forward with a tenacity that is beyond compare. How did you find the strength and determination to continue with the band after all the personnel changes?
AS: Extraterrestrial intervention.
MV: You have hinted at ET’s in other interviews. I am sure by now folks who have followed your progress and read your interviews must be bursting to know more information about this comment. With the dawning of the new millennium, what could you expand on regarding your experience with ET’s?
AS: The more objectively I look at the world and ask why things are the way they are, the more abstract it all becomes for me. Why is the world round? Why does it spin? Why does the moon float around it in a circle? Why is a dragonfly so beautiful? By what mechanism am I even capable of thinking? Are crop circles the graffiti of Nicola Tesla’s grandson?
I suppose that’s why I’m moved to take up instruments and forms that one might consider normal and use them to create a sound that seems relatively abstract. The world we take for granted becomes increasingly bizarre to me the more I learn about it, and the more I observe it and think about it.
And yet, modern science frustrates me. In my mind, it’s all full of fiction - and I don’t trust the answers that it has to offer for my questions. The man who conceived of the concept of the Big Bang, for example, was a Russian working for Stalin. He was ordered to come up with a Creation Theory that would be compatible with the Soviet State. I don’t buy the notion of the Big Bang any more than he did. I think that Stephen Hawking’s work in explaining the theoretical physics behind such an event are a monumental waste of a brilliant mind. When Charles Darwin presented the theory of Evolution, he held the Christian God responsible for it’s processes. No proof exists that Evolution is real... Evolution has never been more than a theory. More than 100 years have gone by and no absolute proof has been presented. But who remembers that “minor” detail anymore?
I disagree with this form of science, where fictional ideas are brought forth and accepted as fact while the world’s most brilliant minds rush around trying to provide supporting evidence. In that situation, people tend to ignore evidence that disagrees with the proposed notion, and the quest for truth progresses absolutely nowhere. The search for Black Matter is a prime example. I’d prefer a sort of science that begins with the Known and bridges that toward Unknowns. I’d like to someone to begin an explanation on the origin of the universe by first explaining why the Moon and the Sun appear exactly the same size in our sky, and how that came to be. Modern Science seems to me to overlook life’s most basic clues in favor of outlandishly contrived notions, which bear a substantial analogous resemblance to the religious texts, which Modern Science would wish to supplant. (don’t even get me started on Organized Religion)
Conceptually, Extraterrestrial Intelligence has no place in Modern Science because it is not useful in any theoretical sense as a proposition to explain scientific facts which are not yet known or proven. Yet it raises questions that can’t be reconciled with the narrow outlook that Modern Science so willingly aspires to. Therefore, any discussion of Extraterrestrials at this time in our culture cannot truly progress beyond the realm of Science Fiction until our present notion of what constitutes Science-Fact stands revealed for the Fiction that it is.
Until then, I’m keeping quiet. I’m not Whitley Strieber; I am a musician.
IB: I just do whatever the little green men tell me to do.
MV: If you could impart any profound wisdom on the human race, what would it be?
AS: I would love to impart some wisdom, but that’s the reverse of the process by which I could ever hope to do it. I require others to observe a moment of wisdom if and when I exhibit one inadvertently.
IB: Okay, I have to do it. I don’t think that I am in the position to tell people how to live. I have however, just recently learned the hard way that in order for me to achieve all of my goals and aspirations, I am going to have to buckle down hard on two main things: 1. live in the moment. The next minute is as much of a mystery as what happens after we die. It’s not then or tomorrow...but right now that matters, and 2. The easiest person to deceive is yourself. That’s it. Neither new nor particularly complex ideas, but all to real for me right now.
MV: What suggestions or insight could you give to a band member facing a similar challenge?
AS: Keeping any expectations of a new member reasonable and realistic, and not choosing anyone out of desperation. You have to choose band members the way you would choose a magnificent smother, I mean, significant other.
MV: How do you feel about Mp3.com and do you think it is the blessing for indie artists that it touts itself as?
AS: They are actively pioneering a business idea of monumental significance. There are extreme unknowns. This hasn’t been going long enough for us to know if it represents a blessing, but it does represent a reaction to the decline of radio and the decline of quality output by the major recording companies over the last 15 years. And it does change the way musicians do business. It also encourages creativity by placing within reach an honest measure of success for someone completely unknown, even if that success does not come in the form of bundles of cash.
MV: How do you feel about MP3’s technological impact with bringing you a newer fan base? Did they succeed or fall short of the mark?
AS: I would not hesitate to call it a success.
MV: Where do you think the majority of interest for your work is coming from: the net goths or via word of mouth?
AS: Take those two and factor in our extensive compilation appearances, results from touring and a core of long-time fans... it’s a complex and diverse picture.
MV: What overall theme would you hope that fans comprehend from Atrocious Virgin?
AS: We don’t require that anyone grasp these things in the exact way that we do, and that’s why we write so metaphorically. We are not telling anyone what to think. To be honest, the album just happened as the result of events in the lives of its makers. But this did sort of lend a theme: The death of love and the subsequent onset of metamorphosis. And I do think the album holds together quite well under that premise, if a specific premise is needed.
MV: Have your top 10 favorite albums changed since your interview with Rev Banshee?
IB: probably...my favorites change all the time. My current favorites are The Cramps bad music for bad people, Tindersticks self titled album, a cd of the birthday party ash compiled and burned for me called Invitation, Jeff Buckley’s “Grace”, Lead Belly’s absolutely the best, anything by Nick Cave but mainly let love in, this new band called Paris Combo, April March’s Paris in April, anything by Kristen Hersh.
For the last two weeks I’ve listened to little more than New Order &
I’ll list some favorite