If you live in the Pacific Northwest, chances are you know 3SKS and if you've been lucky, you've had the pleasure of seeing this amazing band in concert. Party goers at the Pre-Convergence show in Portland no doubt remember them fondly, and attendees at this year's Attrition show in Seattle were treated to another captivating 3SKS performance. Lead by the soaring, sometimes beautifully mournful vocals of Sean Sonnet and the classical electric-violin wizzardry of Jyri Glynn; the band is held solidly together by guirtarist Michael Nevler and drummer Louis Izador. Rather reclusive of late, the band has been busily locked up in their studio where songs are being cultivated for their long anticipated follow up to PXC: Happy Death Heaven. In addtion, the band should soon be releasing re-mixes of "Mendocino Girl" (listen for the beautiful addition of Spanish flavored acoustic guitar) and their exceptional reworking of an old Nitzer Ebb favorite - "Lightning Man."
Luckily for StarVox, 3SKS was kind enough to agree to come out of the studio for Sumerland's CD release concert on May 18th with LoveSick. Fans will be treated to 3SKS favorites as well as getting an opportunity to hear some of their new, unreleased material. We thought we'd push our good fortune even further and ask the boys to indulge us in an interview.
"..This is the splendor that made me buy my first set of lipstick and eyeliner. This is the make believe that I thought I lost more than a decade ago. Save one for me…" ~ Legends Magazine---------------------
StarVox: For people not familiar with 3SKS, tell us when you guys started and a bit about your backgrounds (what different bands you've played in, etc). How do you think you've progressed/matured as a band?
Sean: I’m very fortunate we found each other! Our backgrounds are very diversified. And we all work together to create this immense sound. It all began for myself when I was 14 listening to KROQ in Los Angeles. I started in music with LA bands 'Project November' and 'Prey For Rain' in late 80's. I went on to a great band called ‘Genowen’, which will surface again, I am sure! And then I founded 'Tri-State Killing Spree' in 1996, which has now become 3SKS. I met up with Jyri a year later. He answered a guitar ad we put out in the 'Rocket'. He's been my best friend ever since. Mikey and Louis had been working in a band together called 'Craving Grace'. So it just so happened they came in, and it's been magical ever since! Older and wiser, we have matured greatly, and consider ourselves very seasoned in the great pool of song. I have a lot to thank these guys for. We are a family, and we all give it everything we got. First time I have worked on a project without a weak link.
StarVox: Your self released CD,Happy Death Heaven, did pretty well considering it was a self-release. Fans are pretty eager for a new one, how's that coming along?
Louis: Progress is being made. We've upgraded our recording equipment and taken a while to record a single and get used to the system. We've got about half the album written, and are kicking around ideas for the other half. We will be releasing singles as we go along, so if you're a 3sks fan, fear not, you will hear some new material soon.
Sean: PXC was a collection of songs written over the years with elder members of the band. It represented a brew of emotions and moods. It began with strength and ended with exhaustion. Our new album is themed, it's songs focused, and written by all of us. It’s in this album that I can say will be very profound in deep subject matter. There is nothing remotely hopeful or happy about ‘Fire & Brimstone”. But more so ones realization that there is nothing else to hold onto, nothing is forever, and devastation is the only thing you can depend on. This fire and brimstone are cold. Its world has no flame, no life, no existence, and no hope. One merely breathes. Any hope is like tracking a ghost through the fog. It's the realization point you hit when you finally come to terms with the bitter reality. Dreams are just dreams.
Jyri: The new material
definitely has a "darker" overall feel to it and with the new line up,
we are certainly approaching the writing from a different angle than the
last album. Louis' electric drums and Mike's playing styles certainly change
the feel in a positive way. 3sks fans wouldn't be disappointed!
"The beauty of this band is the almost perfect assemblage of melody and counter melody...Everything from the artwork on the CD sleeve to the production on this CD is seamless... It is a soundtrack to time – as words go up on the screen from your latest adventure – it'll define that moment for you from now until eternity. " ~ StarVox
StarVox: I think one of your strongest points for 3SKS and what sets you apart from others, besides the amazing vocals, is that you have an electric violin. Are there plans to use that to your advantage in the new CD?
Sean: Well, in addition an amazing guitar player and an astonishing drummer, (smiles), we are using every asset to record. This also helps a lot in the producing stage, as we are producing this ourselves. So this album will be full-hearted 3SKS. Jyri has always been an extreme asset to this band. And his violin is going to be pushed to the limit with this next album. I can see in his eyes he wants to show off! (laughs).
Jyri: My newest toy is a MIDI violin; which allows me to play just about any music instrument/sound through a synth processor. Nothing like being about to play Tuba with a violin! Heeheehee!
StarVox: I have privileged information that you'll be releasing a promotional-only single for the cover/remix of "Lightening Man". Can you confirm that? What can we expect to hear on that as far as musical arrangement goes? I know I got to spin an early mix of it at StarVox live and the crowd loved it... any time line for its release?
Louis: "Lightning Man" is done as of last Saturday. Here's your copy (hands Blu a burned copy of 3sks first release since PXC). If anyone out there reading this wants a free copy, just get in touch with us.
Sean: Well, when we decide to cover a song, we make it our own, as we did with ’Time After Time’ on PXC. Our version of ‘Lightening Man’ will be more aggressive than Nitzer Ebb’s original version, as well as very different. The ragtime is hidden, and we have produced our own arrangements. But the song is still there. And Jyri shares his vocals with me on it! This is definitely another direction for us. Mikey has enslaved some definite mean hooks! This will very much become a club hit.
StarVox: You've been asked to be on some pretty impressive compilations. I know there's at least three that'll be coming out this year with you on it. Care to talk about those?
Jyri: Yes, we certainly
have been honored with the appearance of 3sks on a number of really great
compilations coming out this year as well as a movie soundtrack. The movie
is an Indy film, which will be, titled "Tempest Eye". As for compilations,
we are being featured on the next "UnQuiet Grave III" Cleopatra compilation,
which is due out in June, I believe. Also we are very excited about a benefit
album that is being released this summer called "Bangs". (http://www.retroeighties.com).
This compilation benefits Tori Amos' R.A.I.N.N. foundation for battered
women and is actually a collection of different national bands performing
cover songs from the eighties. There is a really great UK compilation coming
out for the Whitby Goth Festival over in England too. This has a really
great line up of artist featured on it. One other benefit compilation that
I would like to mention is one called "Only Sorrow". This album was released
as a tribute to the late Ellen Lawrence, whose life was tragically cut
short in an unfair manner. All the proceeds made from the sales of this
CD go to the Ellen Claire Lawrence Memorial Scholarship and I believe Starvox.net
will also be distributing/selling this.
"The CD doesn’t lie – in person they are what you hope they’d be and more. Sean’s vocals are smooth, liquid streams cascading over well-structured bass, guitar, drums and keys while Jyri’s electric violin adds neo-classic flavor and texture." ~ StarVox
StarVox: A lot of your song lyrics are dark - either about betrayal, sorrow, or even some angry religious content. Who writes the lyrics and how are they inspired?
Sean: For the most part, I write the lyrics, but we have four lyricists in the band, so that will change come this next album I’m sure. Betrayal and sorrow? Hmmm. I know for me, that if I had to live my life over, I would never dream. I would live alone. I would never believe. Whoever wrote, “it’s better to have loved than lost, than never to have loved at all” obviously never loved, never felt pain, never knew betrayal, and probably spent too much time writing stupid apothegms anyway. And religion is just tiny insane minds grasping for air in their sea of guilt. I usually wouldn't care until they joust their pointy little fingers in my face with tales of fiery lakes. I don't hate invisible gods, but I despise ignorant and judgmental priests of nothingness.
StarVox: Whats the writing /recording process for you guys? How do you develop new songs?
Sean: Someone comes up with an idea, a “riff”. It goes from there. I know one of our new songs called “The Pulling Sea”, Louis started writing a drum part and I toyed with the keys. Jyri came in and wrote an enchanting violin part, and Mike dazzled all of us with an exquisite bass riff. In the end, the piece was very majestic. But now in the studio, it’s much more formal and exhausting. But the end result is the same…magical.
StarVox: Do you consider yourselves more of a live band or a studio band?
Jyri: That is a hard question for me to answer because I personally enjoy playing out live more than sitting in a studio 24/7 but I have to say that we work our asses off in the studio. Our music is very "thick" in that we layer many tracks into each song we write. The last song we recorded, Lightning Man, utilized 48 tracks on the final mix down. These were the tracks that were selected from over 110. This is not because the other 62 tracks were shit; just that these were the ones that mixed down the best! We like BIG sound and we try to manifest the same powerful sound in our live performances as well.
Sean: And we are known for our live performances! We have been able to give them the huge 3SKS sound and the theatrics take it so much farther.. Quite mesmerizing to see on the crowds faces. And we always enjoy seeing that in our fans.
StarVox: I know you're
playing an upcoming show with Sumerland and LoveSick. I know there's some
pretty funny stories between you guys and LoveSick.
How did you meet them?
Jyri: Sean and I first met Jeran of LoveSick back a few years ago in a bar called the ColorBox (which no longer exists). We originally came to the show to see one of LoveSick's opening bands. I started talking with Jeran up at the bar and we really hit it off. He was just an awesome guy. Once they took the stage, I was really impressed. We ended up driving to Boise a few months later and had the pleasure of sharing the stage with them. It was a blast!
Sean: Jeran is genuine too. I hate fakes, and Jeran is his own poet, priest, and possessor. And he makes me laugh.
StarVox: Musical influences? Musical favorites?
Louis: I would say that I'm not necessarily influenced by any particular drummer. I think I'm more influenced musically by the sum of all the music I've listened to in my life. But my favorites are Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, Catherine Wheel, the Verve, The Smiths, Van Halen, Slayer, Oasis, Afghan Whigs, Love and Rockets, Iron Maiden, and Radiohead.
Jyri: I listen to a wide variety of music ranging from classical composers such as Mahler to industrial artist like Skinny Puppy/Wumpscutt, to more ambient bands like Dead Can Dance and Delerium. It just depends on my mood(s).
Sean: I couldn’t live without my music. Most of all Stevie Nicks, 80’s metal, and Ozzy! But I like listening to the wind, and rain, and sometimes influenced by the screaming kid downstairs from my house. Such thin walls….
Michael: I really love the music and lyrics of U2 and Pink Floyd more than any other band out there. I am however also a huge fan of Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy (mainly Tear Garden), Radiohead, NIN, and lets not forget one of the pioneers of gothic lyrics into mainstream music ( Jim- Doors).
StarVox: What's the NorthWest's music scene like?
Louis: I think most folks say it's dead. It's certainly not alive and kicking, but I can't help but wonder if that's because there aren't any really great bands up here right now. I mean, how can you have a "great" scene with crappy bands? I'm not saying all the bands up here are crappy. Some of them are good, but besides Rorschach Test (who can't seem to keep it together), none of them seem really great.
Jyri: I have to agree with Louis in that the music scene here is pretty "underground" lately, but I do think there is still some really great talent floating around between Portland and Seattle. Hell, Sumerland blows me away every time I get a chance to see them. Another really great Portland band is Written In Ashes. There is a music scene up here; it's just very separated most the time, which I find strange. I really wish bands up here would network more often.
StarVox: Each of you - describe the other members of the band in one sentence each.
Louis: The members of 3sks are like separate personality aspects of a single mind: Michael represents the whole sexuality side, Jyri represents the anger and indulgence sides, Sean represents the emotional feminine side, and I represent the logical Spock like side.
Jyri: I'M NOT ANGRY, just opinionated, goddamn it! (Laugh)… I have to pretty much agree with what Louis said though. Mike's a pervert, Sean's a girl, and Louis is pretty logical! We do seem to balance each other out though!
Sean: A GIRL! Just because I have long hair! Hmmm, okay, so I get emotional. I just feel things more than other. I just search the soul more… A girl, what freaking ever! Oh yeah, and I’m sensitive too! Haha.
Michael: I don't believe that I'm perverse in any way. So I LOVE Sex!!! It’s an art, and I enjoy being creative. As far as the rest of the band, I think the words of the one called Louis fit the best.
StarVox: What's your favorite cartoon?
Louis: Print-wise, probably The Far Side by Gary Larson. As far as TV type cartoons, ... I think probably Space Ghost. I'm constantly laughing while watching that.
Jyri: I have to say South Park!
Sean: Spongebob Squarepants, I so love Patrick!
Michael: The Little Prince- When I was little I never watched all that Sesame BS ( I always thought those puppets were too pretentious), The Little Prince was real. He would just go to a different planet and make friends with whatever was here when things on earth didn't seem to be right. I, to this day, dream of living this concept.
StarVox: What'll be engraved on your head stone?
Louis: Oh, hopefully something smarmy like "Louis Izador, 1970-2382, good son, husband, and father" - you know, pretty basic.
Sean: Death is really surreal for me. I guess I would leave it to whoever cared enough to write something. Guess that’s why it’s important to be everything you can. I don’t believe in forever and ever.
Michael: My ashes will be split in 3 ways. Each portion will be released in different sites. One in the Desert, another in the Ocean, and the third in the Mountains. Since I’ll be coming back for more abuse anyway, kind of like a relentless jester, it is likely that I will not have a head stone (it insinuates finality).
Jyri: "I told you I was fucking sick!"
Catch them LIVE
Friday, May 18th @ The Catwalk in Seattle Wa
Celebrating the CD Release of SIVO with Sumerland
~interview by Anthony (aka BlackOrpheus)
While Gary Numan is considered a pioneer in the field of early electronic music, I've always been a passive fan of early work in the genre. It sounded cold and crude at the time, and by today's standards it sounds cruder still. I have always been a fan of Numan's voice, and abilities with song and arrangement. Purists may nay say, but his revamping of old classics is timely and well deserved. If a stylistic reworking makes any great song palatable to modern ears, I support it. I believe it is just the hook, which ultimately leads them back to the early source material. In researching this interview, I learned a great deal of Gary Numan. There have been a great many opinions concerning the man. We are organic beings, and resist though we will, we are forever caught up in the cycles of change. It would be the height of arrogance to believe character is defined by "period moments" in ones life. Ego, survival, or plain stupidity, motivate a great many expressions of self. I like to think of us all as works in progress. So, without further ado, let me present one such work - Gary Numan.
BlackOrpheus: You've been called many names, but I've repeatedly seen you referred to as "Gazza". Can you account for the origins of this moniker?
Gary Numan: It's a
rather annoying attempt at familiarity usually by people I hardly know.
It seems to be an English obsession to abbreviate someone's name or distort
it in some way. I have no idea why. A quirky by-product of an island mentality
"It's very easy to talk about and plan when you're sitting at home by a warm crackling fire drinking tea. It's quite another to be in a dying machine over the ocean and thinking you're going to die."
BO: I understand you own an old English manor house. What can you tell me about it's history, relative location, and distinguishing features? Is this your only home, or do you have any other residences around the world?
GN: I wished. I own
a four bedroom house that was originally built in the 1930's. In fact more
than half of it was added, rather badly actually, by the people that owned
it before me in 1988. It sits in four acres of quite
lovely English countryside about an hours drive north of London. Splendid views of rolling hills in all directions. It's only distinguishing feature is a large crack up one of the walls that I really must get fixed. It is my only home although I'm looking into buying something in America soon.
BO: It's well known that you are an accomplished pilot. a) You've flown around the world, I believe? b) I don't imagine you're logging much flight time of late? Do you own your own planes? c) If so, what type? d) Can you share a couple of the more extraordinary adventures on your around the world flight? I understand you were arrested in India? Did they treat you well? What kind of conditions were you kept in?
GN: Yes, I flew around
the World in 1981. I don't fly too often at the moment but I do keep my
hand in with periodic practice. I have an aeroplane called a Harvard,
I believe it's called a T6 in America. It's a World War Two
ex military plane. We were arrested in India on suspicion of spying and
smuggling. We were kept under armed guard for four days. We were
threatened often, but not actually hurt in any way. We were kept in what
was for there a decent room. To me it was like a flea bitten pig sty but
I'm probably a tad fussy. Other interesting things that happened
included a double engine failure over the Pacific Ocean at night which
was pretty scary. The right hand engine starting to break up over the Arctic. Lot's of things like
that. Adventure is a funny thing. It's very easy to talk about and plan when you're sitting at home by a warm crackling fire drinking tea. It's quite another to be in a dying machine over the ocean and thinking you're
going to die.
BO: A lot of singers are becoming actors, and a lot of actors are becoming singers. I've heard some mention of your acting in a comedy. Any truth to this?
GN: I had a 'don't blink or you'll miss me' part in a British comedy. It was enough to reinforce my belief that I am to acting what Adolf Hitler was to world peace.
BO: I have to ask, what are your feelings about "Cars"? I imagine you've made excellent income off the song? My frustration with "Cars" is that it's become too easy to seize on that song as "the" song that defines Gary Numan. It's just about the only Gary Numan song regularly heard on commercial radio, it's cited on countless compilations, and an all too common club track. Barring that one song, most people are shockingly ignorant about the breadth of your work.
GN: My feelings about it are similar to yours. I'm proud of it but it has hindered as often as it has helped my career. It does not define me at all. In many respects it is one of the very few pop songs I've ever written. The other 300 or so have tended to be heavier at times, or just shit at others.
BO: You've been married for about four years or so now. Please share with us what marriage has added to your life, personally, and professionally. I understand you have a lot of animals about the place. Is this owing to Gemma's influence? I remember reading years ago, that while you liked animals, you had none.
GN: Marriage hasn't made any difference, but being with Gemma, married or not, has changed my life completely. She is the missing part of me, now in place. And it's a huge part. She is the rational, kind, reasonable, thoughtful, caring side that seems to be missing when I'm alone. She is the bridge builder between my temper and people around me. She is my smiling contact with the rest of the World. Without her I feel naked, clumsy, aggressive and helpless. I have no comfort without her, no wish to breathe even. If I don't die first we will die together. We have two dogs and six cats and Gemma is constantly trying to add more but I think 8 is enough for the time being. I love my animals. I'm very involved with animal rights in the UK. I've had animals since I was a tiny child.
BO: I was deeply grieved to hear bout Gemma's miscarriage. I have some sense of how much the pregnancy meant to both of you. a) Have you decided to try again? b) Had you considered adoption? c) Why is being a father important to you now at this point in your life? For what reasons? How did you come to put it off so long?
GN: We have to go
the IVF route. We've tried again and failed a few months ago.
This morning we had more embryos implanted so we are still trying.
We'll consider other options when we feel we need to. Being a father now
has to do with being with the woman you want to spend your life with. That's
the reason I've waited this long.
"It was a horror story, pure and simple. It looked at the fictional idea that we had badly misunderstood, and badly translated the Bible. And that God was dark and evil."
BO: Even as early as 1985, I'd heard you didn't drink or smoke. Has the clean living paid off? Still holding to it? How about healthier eating habits? I've read that married men live longer, partly owing to the care and nurturing that having a wife affords them. Have you found this to be so??
GN: I've never drunk and I've never smoked. It's not a moral thing, I just don't like the smell or the taste. If I liked drink I'd be pissed off my face constantly probably. I do not eat healthy. In fact I have no interest in healthy living or healthy life styles. Eat what you want and if it makes you fat, try eating a bit less of it. I can't say much about living longer due to my wifes nurturing as I don't know how long I'm going to live. Gemma eats absolute rubbish and can't cook a single thing so the nurturing is in different areas to food. Her sexual appetite and sense of adventure will either kill me before my time or ensure I live forever. It depends on the next few years I guess.
BO: You were quoted as saying that a lot of the inspiration for your new direction, was culled from your experience of music in American clubs. Do you think industrial music is more popular here, than in Britain?
GN: We don't really have many industrial clubs. Hardly any at all. Industrial music is definitaly more popular there than here.
BO: I've read that the British release of "Dominion Day" was disappointing? For a long time, Britain was your largest fan base. With the disappointing reception of "Dominion Day" in Britain, do you think that's changing? If so, where do you see new fans emerging? How is the market for your work overseas? Have the remasters of "I, Asassin", and "Warriors" been released yet? I'd read there would be no new tracks included on these. Is that still the case?
GN: I have no idea about Warriors and I, Assassin. They are being put out by an old record label and I'm not kept up to date with their plans. I'm not really interested in what happens to rehashes of old albums anyway. Dominion Day was a case of simply not getting the record into the right shops at the right time. A simple admin. fuck up basically. I didn't draw any career conclusions from it at all. It didn't have a disappointing reception, it just didn't get delivered to the shops. It would be crazy to draw conclusions simply because of a record company delivery date mistake. New fans will emerge wherever, and whenever, the new songs get heard. That's my sole mission. To get the new stuff heard. Not to get involved on old album re-releases, not to go on TV and play Cars, not to do 80's shows, just play the new stuff and move forward.
BO: As a new audience is opened up to you through covers of your work, and critical praise, are there any pending side projects, or collaborations in the works? I'd heard of a possible project with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Has that moved forward yet?
GN: Billy Corgan has said he wants to work on something, Trent Reznor has talked about co-writing. I hope these things happen but they are both massive stars, and no doubt very busy. We'll see what happens.
BO: I understand there was something of a backlash against the album "Sacrifice" by "Christian" people. I thought I'd read that they were primarily Americans? What were their objections? And I have to ask how your album even came to their attention?
GN: Religious people
don't like their God and beliefs being dismissed by people like me. I rely
on the fact that they will turn the other cheek and then 'forgive me, for
I know not what I do (or say)'. I'm sure if God was pissed off with
me, He's quite capable of sorting me out all by himself. He
seems to ignore me totally which is probably what they should do.
I have religious fans, ex fans now I guess, so maybe the album came to
objectors attention via these people. I don't really care to be honest.
I'm just a small Englishman from a little country a long way away.
I'm hardly a threat to God now am I?
"He was found on a park bench, dead, with the needle still in his arm. A note pinned to his chest said simply, 'Cremation please'."
BO: My response to Exile was deep and immediate. I hadn't connected with a piece of music in that way for a long time. I've read a lot about your various influences, everything from Clive Barker's"Hellraiser" to your subsequent response to the outcry against " Sacrifice." Was this truly a creative exercise for you, or was there some element of spiritual release and or exploration?
GN: Absolutely nothing to do with spiritual release or exploration. It was a horror story, pure and simple. It looked at the fictional idea that we had badly misunderstood, and badly translated the Bible. And that God was dark and evil. On the album He begins to show his true colours. Angels pissing on the graves of children. It was all pretty dark, but it was fiction. I don't believe there is a God at all so how can I believe that He is evil?
BO: What religious denomination were you raised in? At what point in your life did you break with your faith, and what instigated that break?
GN: I wasn't raised in any religious denomination. I was even excused religious instruction at school when I was 13 after I'd convinced the headmaster that I didn't believe and that I could better use the time learning something else. Even as a small child I thought it was all nonsense. I've never waivered from that opinion for a second throughout my life. If religion makes people happy; if it gives them comfort or the strength perhaps to cope with loss, then I have no problem with it. But when it is used to intimidate and corrupt, to frighten and take from the most needy, then I have a problem with it.
BO: I understand you consider yourself to be atheist? Would you say that being atheist precludes one from having some sense of "inner life" or even spiritual practice? And if it doesn't, how do you reconcile that to a total absence of some divine presence, however far removed from traditional definitions?
GN: I have no interest in an inner life. I'm kind of busy dealing with the outer life. I do not need, or miss a spiritual leaning. I do not believe that it would make me a better person. I do not believe that a lack of belief in God makes me a bad person in any way at all. I do not believe in a greater purpose, God and the Devil, any of it. But I am honest, faithful, hard working, kind to strangers, most of the things that make me nothing to be frightened of or that needs some kind of spiritual 'fix'. The problem as I see it is that people that believe can't leave me the fuck alone. Be happy with your faith, let it give you whatever it gives you but please try to understand that it's not for me, or any of the millions of others that don't believe.
GN: I've heard you postulate the question in Atheism's defense as " If there was a god, how could he allow the suffering in this place and fail to act in defense of his creation?" I will postulate another question or two. In one-way or another, all of us are creators. If we had the capacity to create a life that responded to us out of free will or because it was programmed to respond to us favorably, which would we choose? If we gave that creation free will, and interfered every time we thought it was making a mistake, or thought we could help, would that creation ever truly be capable of self growth or love for us? Would they resent our interference? Would they turn to us only in times ofcrisis or necessity? If there is some higher power, I believe we were given a free will -self - determination. We aren't playthings for someone else's amusement. We can pollute the planet, our bodies, etc. as much or as little as we choose to. But having that choice, we also live with the consequences. I would hope that most of the life we make here would depend on ourselves. The environmental, medical, and cultural challenges arethings we can rise to, together. If we can't, we will band together as we so often do against those things we have no power to combat. What are your thoughts on this?
GN: I will create a life hopefully. And I will interfere every single time it does something that I think is a danger to itself, or to others. What do I care if it resents my interferance if I can stop it from pouring a boiling kettle over itself? What kind of 'creator' would I be if I let my little creation hurt another? To create something and then give no help or guidance is actually a great cruelty. And that just about sums up your God1 as far as I'm concerned..
BO: I've heard a lot of anger and sorrow in Pure. Those emotions are entirely understandable in light of your recent loss. It doesn't sound like the rage and reproach of an atheist however. There is no one to blame as an atheist except the cosmos or the self. Did the seriousness of your daughter's plight lead you to call upon divine intervention? If so, how did you feel about doing so in retrospect?
GN: I have never prayed, and never will. I have faced death many times, in sick and dying aeroplanes. I have NEVER asked for Gods help. Why is it so hard for you to accept that I DO NOT BELIEVE? What strange arrogance makes you think that I would call upon divine intervention2. If what you believe is true then the bastard made the decision to take her in the first place. Why would He change His mind and give her back to me? Because He felt sorry for me? Because he made a mistake? Surely not? A mistake by God himself?
BO: One of my favorite songs from among your albums is " A Child With the Ghost." Would you tell me what you're willing to about this song? I think it is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.
GN: It's about a friend of mine who commited suicide because he was a heroin addict. God works in mysterious ways indeed. He was found on a park bench, dead, with the needle still in his arm. A note pinned to his chest said simply, 'Cremation please'.
BO: On an artistic level, what moves Gary Numan? What artists, authors, musicians, and cities inspire you to want to create, and why? What album has moved you the most in the past six months?
GN: I haven't been moved by an album in the last six months if truth be told. I like Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Snake River Conspiracy, Marilyn Manson, Fear Factory, Limp Bizkit etc. Inspiration comes more from just being alive in the World and feeling what's happening. I don't look at a musician as a source of inspiration especially. Listening to other bands helps in a technical sense with recording techniques and the like but life itself is inspiring.
BO: What's ahead for you in the near future? Are you already at work on the next album? If so, will the themes mirror those of the past three albums? If not, what change of direction will you take?
GN: I have started on the next album although it's only prep work at the moment. It will be a harder, more aggresive, probably even darker version of 'Pure'. I like where I am musically at the moment but I'm convinced I can do it better.
BO: In conclusion,
I'd like to extend my utmost gratitude to Gary Numan and Spitfire Records
for this unprecedented opportunity. It means a great deal to me,
because this music has moved me deeply and often over the course of my
listening. I want to strongly encourage those of you unfamiliar with
the Gary Numan of the past six years, to go and find these last three albums.
"Pure" is as stirring a piece of artistic craftsmanship as any you're likely
to encounter in a market glutted with insincerity. Thank you again,
on behalf of StarVox.Net and myself.
Web Site: NuWORLD
1 - You may have noticed that Gary appears to mistake me for a Christian, when in fact I am not. My beliefs are rooted in the eastern tradition, and philosophy. I researched this review extensively, reading reviews and interviews going back 15 years. I found the subject of his beliefs seldom if ever alluded to. His atheism was never on trial. I respect his beliefs as I respect those anyone else. I knew people other than myself were confused by the themes couched in the lyrics of his past three albums. I feel that one's beliefs do certainly impact ones artistic creations. My intent, was to elicit clarification on the matter of belief, nothing more. I invite all of you to listen to these albums, and to read the lyrics. Gary Numan's output right now is some of the finest, most consistent music of his career. My experience of his recent albums has been deeply moving, soul stirring. It's quite a remarkable achievement for any artist.
2 - I asked this question based on the lyrical content of the Pure album, I invite you to draw your own questions or conclusions.
(photo credits: Projekt & the band's website)
Pittsburgh’s lowsunday are
currently at the epicenter of attention within the dark music scene.
After being signed to Projekt records to re-release their second full-length
elesgiem, there is a lot of excitement and promise about the
direction of the band’s career. It is my pleasure to see the band
finally achieve the status they whole-heartedly deserve, as myself and
dark music fans all over Pittsburgh have faithfully followed the band for
years on the local club circuit. To see our hometown shoegaze heroes
make good is truly an honour for us, but most importantly, for the rest
of the dark music world who will now get a chance to enjoy what the band
has to offer.
I caught up with front man Shane Sahene, who graciously took the time out of his immensely chaotic schedule to answer some questions to help shed light on what is quickly becoming a small phenomena known simply and mysteriously as lowsunday.
Starvox: Originally, the band’s name was Low Sunday Ghost Machine. From where did such a name come and why did you opt to shorten it a few years ago?
Shane: As time goes by, the past tends to re-define itself. From this perspective now, Low Sunday Ghost Machine was my interpretation of the relentlessness of change and it represented a post-resurrection sort of view of life and aliveness. It represented a surrender of resistance to change and the painlessness that comes with it. lowsunday, one word, lower case, says more with less. There are countless interpretations. Eventually a name becomes an icon for a feeling.
Starvox: Over the years you have been compared to Joy Division, early Cure, and Slowdive. Are you comfortable with these comparisons? What other musicians or personal experiences have inspired you yourself to create?
Shane: We have grown to become comfortable with the impressions we have left people with. When you stare at a painting, some focus on the positive space. Others focus on the negative space. Some focus on the reflection of themselves within the context. We are all products of our inspiration. We are our own greatest influence. We converse through sound by each other’s actions and reactions. We believe that there is a watercourse in some ways predetermined by truth. We search for this relative truth in the writing process.
Starvox: The latest album, while possessing a dark, indie-rock flare, seems to rise above being pigeonholed and develops a definitive sound of it’s own within the genre, still dark yet more accessible. How would you yourself describe your music and what elements did you try to explore further on the newest release? What elements did you decide to leave behind?
Shane: The only conscious decision in the process of capturing "elesgiem" was the decision to find this truth I had just mentioned. The element left behind was simply the threshold in which we explore our strengths and weaknesses, which are both the same thing. Of course when it was all said and done, it was just a snapshot in time, twelve pages of a diary. He who creates and walks away, lives to create another day.
Starvox: There have been several line-up changes throughout the years. Yet you have successfully kept the band’s sound and focus in check. What would you say is your drive in keeping the band afloat and how did you manage to do so? What works so well with this current line-up?
Shane: Thank you. Love is the drive. Escapism has always been a motivating factor, tempered by consciousness. I have an endless desire to project the presence of hope to those that are slipping along through this ocean of the life experience. Some of us stay close to shore, some of us our testing our buoyancy. We work so well together because we allow each other to find our individual thresholds, with respect and the caring for one another serving as the safety line. We appreciate our chemistry, which is the fine print of success. It propels synchronicity and unification, which refines our ideas.
Starvox: How long have you been playing guitar and singing? What were some of the projects you were a part of (if any) before Low Sunday?
Shane: Silently witnessing the recording process in my cousins recording studio was the catalyst. It was magical. I’ve been playing guitar for sixteen years, and *publicly* singing for ten years. As a teenager, the Subhumans, Government Issue, The Damned, and Half-Life were important to me. The projects I was involved never got off of the ground, nor were they intended to do so. Pure noise. An occasional show at the Electric Banana [Infamous underground ‘dive’ bar in the Pittsburgh area – Ed.] was the outcome we had desired. Introspection rolled in and everything shifted. Old House Angel was my last band before lsgm. Very And Also The Trees inspired.
Starvox: I usually avoid “techy” questions in interviews, but I was curious what type of equipment you use to create your guitar sound. What kind of guitars, amps, and effects processors do you use?
Shane: Shawn Bann plays a Jazzmaster through a Mesa Boogie Trem-O-Verb. Bobby Spell plays a Musicman Stingray5 through an Ampeg SVT Pro4 amp. I use Epiphone Dot guitars with Gibson classic 57 pickups going through a Marshall jcm2000. I rely heavily on a Digitech Space-Station. Shawn, Bobby, and I are always experimenting with various other noisemakers, trying to see how much we can disturb our "sound". We are all extremely "tone conscious.” There are times where you would hate to be in a room with us! We drive ourselves mad looking for "sound,” even though we are well-aware that the "song" is the only substance to be concerned with.
Starvox: One of the first things an audience picks up about lowsunday live is the amount of energy the band puts into its performances. Despite being a rather laid-back style of music, your performances pack quite a punch at times. What fuels the fire?
Shane: The fire is fueled by the motion of sound through our bodies. We are purists in the sense that if we don’t feel our skin vibrating. We are lifeless. Our best performances are those where we are most hypnotized by the feeling of being lost in the pulse of things. It’s regrettable at times, but the soundperson is almost always the determining factor in the end result. You can paint an amazing picture, but the photocopy is only as good as the resolution and the way the machine interprets color, a mixture.
Starvox: You are a very shy front man when compared to many other flamboyant and theatrical vocalists at the helm of other dark rock bands. You often sing with your eyes closed or droop your head low. What are some of the images or thoughts that are going through your mind as you play?
Shane: We are elitists when it comes to our fans and our music. For the most part it is an introspective and intelligent scene. We don’t feel the need to preach to the converted. I wouldn’t go as far as Johnny Lydon went in a recent TV appearance, stating that "people pull poses when they want to distract the fact that they are talent less", but I would say that we lack a desire to mask ourselves and our message. We stay in contact with our weaknesses and strengths. I close my eyes when I want to heighten my other senses; it facilitates me in the escape. It completes the circuit and lets the energy absorb. I imagine the sound as a liquid drowning the room, filling our lungs, soaking us. We don’t care about everybody, just the ones that have a thirst in their eyes from the fatigue of their own introspection.
Starvox: Will the debut self-titled release be made available again, or are you moving on from that period of the band’s career?
Shane: We are living for today. We have landslides of ideas that fight for priority. The low sunday ghost machine CD is available through our website: http://www.lowsunday.com But as the supply dwindles, I can’t say for sure whether we would re-press it or not. Our efforts will always be focused on what’s new. We have had lots of response from around the world on that disc, so it depends on the demand. People seem to have appreciated the cold isolation and empathy reflected in those mixes.
Starvox: You guys have quite a number of songs that have not appeared on any releases, one in particular entitled “Skylab,” that absolutely must be captured on record. Will that song appear on the next album?
Shane: We have tons of unreleased material. "Skylab" most likely will appear on the follow up to elesgiem. "diamond rain drain", " a letter from the moonbase", the trance-looped "polarized", and "when you wait" will also most likely surface. We will only know when we get to the bottom of the recording and writing process, which will be sometime this year.
Starvox: You mentioned “Diamond Rain Drain,” which is an incredible track that appears in your live sets, and it boasts a more aggressive guitar sound. Can we expect more material to have a similar vibe in the future?
Shane: The dynamics will increase, the soft gets softer, and the heavy gets heavier. Our best material has yet to be brought under control. It is so stream of conscious that we have difficulty de-engineering it to learn what it is. As in life, we strive to see more vividly into our creations.
Starvox: Even though elesgiem is just being released through Projekt this month, when can we expect to hear a new lowsunday album?
Shane: Most likely it will be next spring. The better a record does, the longer it must have time to takes its course. There is an incredible buzz taking place with this release of elesgiem through Projekt. We see it as a winning situation either way. It has made it to #5 on Projekt’s best seller list for the month previous to it even being released, and we are already close to being sold out of this first pressing from Projekt, due in part to the Projekt web store. http://www.projekt.com it may be later than next spring if all of the indicators for "elesgiem" being a successful release are correct. We may occasionally put a track at mp3.com, regardless of whether or not it goes on the next release.
Starvox: Supposedly, MTV’s “The Real World” wanted to use a few songs from you guys as background music for the show. How do you feel about this? What songs have they chosen to include?
Shane: MTV had called us over the past winter, while we were in the process of signing with Projekt. The music director was very interested in our sound. We were shocked by this phone call! It’s not everyday that MTV calls. We don’t know what songs will be used, but we are fine with it and proud that we did not make any sort of artistic compromise in order for the interest to materialize. We are all products of our environment. Americans are saturated by commercialism and limited to strict diets of money fueled - nuclear powered attention getters hitting us over the head. It’s nice to be given an opportunity to slip into someone’s life and anesthetize them in between the assaults on their perspective.
Starvox: You recently appeared on television for a local PBS program called “On Q.” How did that opportunity arise and how did everything go?
Shane: It was a lot of fun. PBS is a beautiful platform. Manny Theiner, who has been a huge friend to lowsunday, had spoken with them. They heard "elesgiem" and it was quite simple orchestrating the event. Television is an inflexible environment, especially for those who don’t spend much time on TV. That’s us! It was comical because we are like this serious gloom pop band, at least we thought we were, that’s playing at the Virgin Mega-Store in NYC, thinking we are too kool. Meanwhile, across from the soundstage is Mr. Rogers' television house and we had to squeeze our way around the castle where Mr. McFeely often consoles the King of the Land of Make-Believe. It’s a wonderful memory that gives us plenty more reasons to laugh at ourselves...
Starvox: Pittsburgh has been very receptive to your music over the years. Will Low Sunday continue to stay in Pittsburgh or are their plans to relocate?
Shane: It’s an interesting question. The Internet allows everyone to be in the hotspot to some degree. Yet, it’s crucial for us to connect with our fans in other cities. We will tour in the U.S and Europe any chance we get. We have all spent time in other cities or countries. We have concluded that most places are subtly different once investigated. As an artist, one lives within their passion and perceptions. The trend these days seems to be of corporations forcing artists to migrate to the "not so hot-spots". Just for the survival of their art. Pittsburgh keeps overhead low and is situated nicely within reach of many other major cities. Home is where the heart is, that we cannot change. Culture sometimes takes a backseat.
lowsunday – official site:
lowsunday – Miss Joi’s fan
lowsunday – Tamara’s fan
lowsunday – Mp3 site:
shane sahene. vocals. guitar
a t vish. drums
shawn bann. guitar, synth
bobby spell. bass
P.O. Box 10651
Pittsburgh, PA 15235
P.O. Box 9140
Long Island City, NY 11103
~interview by Blu
(photos by Blu and Jennifer Gibbs
LoveSick with Sumerland and 3SKS at StarVox LIVE in Seattle)
Jyri from 3SKS handed me a CD one day and said, "We've played with this band before. They're from Idaho. I think you'll like them." "Idaho?" I said, "what's in Idaho?" I had my doubts about any band from Idaho. Months later, after reviewing the CD and meeting the band myself on a few occasions, I'm begging them to come play at Sumerland's CD Release on May 18th at the Catwalk in Seattle. Led by Jeran Dahlquist, LoveSick is a five man band who spins tales of heartache and pain with the best of them. From the moment I saw Jeran and the boys walking across the street towards a martini bar, sunglasses on and dressed to the 9's, I knew they were something special. Horribly charming in person, they made the rounds at a recent StarVox LIVE and have already made a name for themselves in Seattle. Needless to say I'm eager to see them perform live. Jyri told me they put on a good show, and Jyri's usually right. After having met Jeran, a cheery figure to say the least, the sadness in his lyrics sometimes seem in great irony to his outside persona. I tried to get to the bottom of that, and well, he was rock-star-mysterious to say the least. Read for yourself ...
StarVox: LoveSick is from Boise, Idaho. Not exactly what you'd think of as an underground music mecca, but it must not be all that bad if you're there. What's it like in Boise? What do you do there when you're not doing music?
Jeran: Mixed feelings about this question. One that I myself might ask, were I not from such a place as Boise, but being from a small town environment. I've analyzed the whys and hows, and while some details make no sense at all, others make perfect sense. It seems that isolated places make people want to reach out for something more. Certainly, this doesn't hold true with the mainstream ANYwhere, but subcultures seem to breed well in confined spaces, which Boise definitely is. Just like anywhere a person calls home, it truly isn't that bad -- to us, mind you. I've heard countless stories from "out-of-towners" about how mundane the city is, but with the keener eye for the finer points (which can only be obtained from actually existing as a part of the environment itself) it is actually quite nice. There is little distraction from the necessity of burying yourself in your art, but enough going on to make a night of escape pleasurable. Really, it doesn't matter where you are nearly as much as who you're with, and we are all very blessed to have found each other, speaking of the band members and extended "family" so to speak. Our nights away from music tend to be spent drinking and "whatnot," dancing, playing pool, seeing other bands,and enjoying the pleasures of "personal life," which are...well...personal. The city has a small-community attitude in general, which obviously has positive and negative aspects, but we have become very adept at avoiding or diffusing the less desirable elements we come into contact with. Boise is where we hang our hat, and it will always be home no matter where our paths lead from here.
StarVox: For people unfamiliar with LoveSick, give us a little background history - how long have you been together, who is LoveSick, etc..
Jeran: LoveSick is made up of Jeran Dahlquist (vocals, guitars), Ryan Powers (keys), Thom Keithly (guitars), David Schafer (bass), and Landon Shaffer (drums). I put the band together in '96. The choices for members just fell into place. We were all drawn to each other by a common love for less-appreciated (or at least less-recognized) music and the eventual culmination of our desires and disgusts led to what we are now. It was really -- and has continued to be -- an amazing orchestration of timing and persistence, of which we are all fortunate to be a part.
StarVox: You've played some pretty impressive concerts - opening up for Morrissey for example. What was that like and do you have any other memorable concerts?
Jeran: Opening for Morrissey was great. We wear our influences on our sleeve, and give them a lot of credit for what we do. Obviously, Moz is one of those people, and we felt very lucky to get to spend time sharing a stage with an icon like that. We were well received by the fans, even though we took certain...risks, I guess you'd say (we closed our set with a faithful cover of The Cure's "Pictures of You"). Another shining moment for the band was playing the Cure Convention in Hollywood. We headlined the evening, playing an hour and a half on The Palace's stage, where acts such as Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, and The Beastie Boys have opened their tours. That night was glorious, shared with a wonderful (albeit packed) audience. We've been asked back, so we'll see what comes of that. There are other shows that have been equally as exciting, some for more personal reasons than others, but those two are probably the most "commercially impressive" Isuppose.
StarVox: What are some of your musical influences? What would we find in your CD player?
Jeran: The band has pretty obvious influences I think, but we would definitely cite The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, The Smiths, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, and various other "biggies" as far as the eighties underground scene goes. Newer influences would include Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson (although for some reason I'm a bit hesitant to list that one), etc. As for myself personally, lately you would only find a handful of bands in my CD player...I've been really into VNV Nation, Apoptygma Berzerk, Wolfsheim, SilkeBischoff. What can I say? I've been in the mood to dance! Gary Numan and Slowdive have been making fairly regular appearances in my stereos as well. Other bands I am a huge fan of are Love & Rockets, Severed Heads, and ANYTHING that Stephin Merritt (of The Magnetic Fields) does. That guy is truly amazing. I am also a deeply-closeted Simon & Garfunkel fan...the secret's out. Oh -- and Johnny Cash. Ah well...
StarVox: Even though you all live in Boise, I know that Jeran at least is in Seattle quite a bit. What’s the connection? Are there any clubs you like in particular in Seattle?
Jeran: I like Seattle a lot, and am in the favorable position of being able to visit there somewhat regularly at the moment. Seattle tends to be my escape when the frustrations of small-town life get to be too overbearing. I also must admit that you've seen me more often of late due to "other interests" in the Emerald City. That's as far as I'll take you on that one, but if you frequent the same clubs as I, the mystery will be revealed quite readily I'm sure. Those clubs would generally be The CatWalk or The Vogue for dancing, Tini Big's on 1st and Denny for martinis (my drink of choice -- oo! Also that raspberry beer stuff that The Vogue serves...DAMN!), and I hear Metropolis is nice, but I haven't been just yet. I think that about covers it.
StarVox: You have one self-released CD I believe, which we reviewed in StarVox a few months ago. Any plans for a new one? (I'm greedy like that - more more more!) How is the next CD different/similar?
Jeran: We are currently in the process of recording new material for an upcoming release. We are taking an entirely different approach to the recording process this time around, taking one song at a time from start to finish before moving on. It's a bit slower, but the songs are much better for it in my opinion. They each get the attention they need and deserve. We just finished up the second song, and have a lot of time booked through may to finish up three more for a five song demo we're putting together as a teaser for the entire album. The music is much more dynamic than our previous efforts, and the maturity that's taken place in the band over the past few years is coming through a lot in the writing. I'm excited about what we're doing, and can't wait for people to hear it. It's a really nice feeling, I must say. Also, we've just received word that Porl Thompson (ex-Cure guitarist and artist) will be designing our album cover, so that's very pleasing, to put it mildly. All of a sudden I'm incredibly impatient to complete it!
StarVox: What's the writing process like for you? Many of your songs on the previous CD are sad, mournful love songs... love gone awry, love lost, love betrayed. Oh my.
Jeran: Yeah. My mother wants to know the same thing. "Why are you so sad?" The truth is, I'm really not. Not on the surface anyway. The music we do is the main reason why I'm NOT a sad person. Writing is an incredibly therapeutic process for me. It's how I channel the things inside of me that I need to get out of my system into art. The songs have definite sources that inspire them, so they're not just fiction. But if I'm writing about a negative aspect of my life, the point is that I'm dealing with it, and chances are that it is history by the time you're hearing about it in my songs (with a few exceptions that seem to just want to hang on forever). It's a very selfish thing, really. Don't get me wrong -- I appreciate it immensely when other people are able to relate to and enjoy the results -- but I do do it for myself first and foremost. Anyway, the process itself is the most beautifully horrible thing imaginable, honestly. Um...were you wanting specific details about the WAY I write? That just occurred to me...hmm. Ah well. Ask me again later. Expect more of the same from our next project, lyrically. If you liked the words on the last album, you'll probably like these as well. Pretty much the same subject matter...love...sickness...you know.
StarVox: What's something we should know about LoveSick?
Jeran: This might be easier to answer if you asked what you SHOULDN'T know...
Jeran Dahlquist 041501