I find the band in the midst of preparation for the evenings performance. Rogue has taken a break from the set-up to discuss philosophy with a local fan who helped connect the venue with the act. Chris is still adjusting things, and Rachel seems to have just enough energy to pause, and smile at Rogue's presentation. Kevin too is in a good mood, although quiet, he comes and goes through out the interview, but wanted Rogue to have any official words to spot-light here. This show was moved from another venue the night before due to schedule conflicts, and it doesn't seem to be an issue. The show is going on.
REV.S "Chris will you describe what your keyboard style is, and how it plays in with your part in the Cruxshadows?"
Chris. "I organize the show." <pause>
REV.S "Like a conductor?"
Chris. "I'm talking about the actual logistics of the show itself."
REV.S "Do you ever change the set list, or is it the same?
Chris. "No! We always do the same thing."
Rogue is now aware I have begun, and is ready to talk.
Rogue. "Within a tour at least. We will change things for the next set of shows. When we do a show we might as well be doing a play, or a musical."
Chris " For example, I don't know if you've ever noticed. We don't generally...uh , well, stop! Most bands will stop between songs, and we don't do that. "
Chris."We go straight through, non-stop, start till finish."
REV.S "So you help organize the rhythm changes?"
Rogue."There are a lot of program changes that he does. You know I would say it is more accurate to say Chris is our computer based keyboardist. He runs the MIDI and computer based things that need to be done. He trigger the samples and plays keyboards too, but he is the guy that makes all the technical things happen onstage."
REV.S "I see you have another set of keyboards..."
Rachel had just re-joined us from the other room. She had ran away screaming in joy that WWF was playing on the T.V. After the interview, I was tempted to tease her about it , but Rogue has been encouraging everyone to not be ashamed of things you enjoy. I have to agree with that, besides, it's hard to tease someone as nice as Rachel.
REV.S "So tell me what your corner of the Cruxshadows are about."
Rogue <interjecting> " She is the talent."
This causes an explosion of laughter amongst the band.
Rachel." I think everyone is talented..."
Rogue." Rachel has a high degree of musical skill, and where Chris is kind of a computer theory keyboardist, Rachel is more of a...er."
REV.S <interjecting> "classically trained?"
Rachel."I come from keyboards more from the piano side. "
REV.S " So you come from theory, and Chris comes from science."
They all seem to agree with this.
Rogue. "Yes, almost perfectly."
REV.S <quickly focusing directly on Rogue> "So where do you come form?"
Rogue. <slightly taken aback> "Uh, well I am the person that decided that was needed [the theory and science], to accomplish what I need to do."
Once again laughter from everyone in the room.
REV.S "So. You decide you need a musician and a technician."
Rogue."Well we needed someone who could, say , work an arppegiator."
Rachel gestures toward Chris.
Rogue." we also needed someone who can play with two hands, while doing even something else with their foot!"
Everyone gestures back to Rachel.
Rogue. "She is a very talented violinist as well as a keyboard player."
Rachel. " Violin is actually my primary instrument, I have a degree in college for it."
REV.S "So you have a degree in violin, did that make the keyboard an easy instrument to puck up?"
Rachel. "I took Piano when I was younger."
REV.S "How much violin should I expect tonight then?"
Rachel."About half the songs."
Rogue."Yeah About %50."
REV.S "Great, so we can see how the set up is now on the sound end, the technical side, but since I found you discussing philosophy, I am curious if there is a central Cruxshadows philosophy?"
Rogue<ready for this one> "Hmmm, In what sense!"
REV.S <slightly taken aback.>
Rogue. "Well I could give you some of my personal philosophies, but I don't think anyone central thing drives the Cruxshadows. It is more of an amalgamation of many things."
REV.S "How long have you been performing as the Cruxshadows."
REV.S "Similar members at all?"
Rogue."Actually I am the only original member."
REV.S " So has there been a lot of changes that would prevent a core philosophy, or a collective conscious so to speak."
Rogue." No, It's just that the Cruxshadows are quite literally spun around my vision of things."
Chris." He's the mastermind!"
Rogue."I'm the visionary if you will. If I can be so bold to use such terms for myself."
REV.S "Well, I think it is fair of someone who thinks of themselves as a visionary, to turn around and say so."
I don't really think of myself as a visionary, yet it is my role in this
band. I'm not real big on arrogance. Some
people think I am arrogant, but I really don't care for arrogant people, and I hope that I don't seem as being and arrogant person."
REV.S "I was warned ahead of time, actually, that you are awfully easy to talk to, and that you might talk my ear off. so I am hoping to get a good Rogue rant during this session."
Rogue ' O.K. you just might get one."
REV.S "Well then with time permitting, lets get more into your personal philosophy.
At this point Rachel is nice enough to point out that the sound man has yet to arrive. So there is no rush until he is there for the sound check.
REV.S " I see you have some of your own lights, you seem prepared for any club/venue situation. "
Rogue." Yes we produce all of our own sound, we need no mic stands or microphones [from the venue] we just hand the sound guy two lines out and then EQ for a particular room. We are prepared for almost any situation."
REV.S "So how long has this line-up been together."
Rogue." Approximately two years. Chris has been with me the longest. Incidentally he used to be a roadie, and he sort of learned the philosophy, if you will, and how things worked. He knew where we were going, what we were doing or trying to accomplish, and he subtly became part of the band without being in the band. Then when the opportunity knocked he was the first choice to bring because he was already here.
REV.S "Comfort on the road is probably an important thing."
Rogue."Definitely, and he knew how things were done and was definitely a part of the organization He's actually been in the band for three years, in truth he as bee n a part of The Cruxshadows, but not officially. There is another person, Trevor Brown. Who jumped on at the same time Chris did. He was a very talented keyboard player, and all around very knowledgeable, musical, individual. He has since retired, although I make use of him all the time. I'll call up him up in the middle of the night and say 'Trevor, I need help with this...'"
REV.S "This is back at home base?"
Rogue"yes, Trevor is like my Tech Support.
We laugh and throw a few bad tech support jokes around...
REV.S "So it seems like we are actually looking at the science of the Cruxshadows. Maybe even moving toward the Religion of it. For lack of a better term."
Chris."It is more like an art!"
Rogue." Well to reference back to the discussion from before you turned on the microphone, I think you have to have a number of different elements to make art that is valuable. One is you must have strong concepts, strong ideas, strong emotions. Another is strong technical proficiency in order to execute those emotions, ideas and philosophies. I think a balance of those things is what makes art that is truly valuable."
REV.S "Valuable to society?"
Rogue. "I mean valuable in a Universal sense. If it is capable of getting a message to people, and they like to listen to it, and it is valuable that it is a message when it gets there! There are lots of people who write really great pop songs to listen to, but you are getting hit with absolutely nothing of value. On the other hand there are lots of people who write songs that are incredibly emotional and charged with personal experience and something valuable to say, but the persons involved could not play their instruments to save their lives.
REV.S "Not as technically proficient, yet very emotional?"
you have both of those things I think it is difficult to create something
with the significance to last. So that in a way is a marriage of
science and emotion or the artistic, for lack of a better word, philosophy.
We shall end part one of this interview here. I was told by Lisa Feuer of Projekt records , that I should check out this act at some point. This was right before the New Orleans Convergence. My travels did not take me to that year's Convergence, but luckily they have taken me to see this lively, thought provoking act.
Chris Brantley- analog modeling, keyboards.
Rachel McDonnell-keyboards, violins.
Kevin Page- guitars
~interview by Blu
(photos courtesy of The Ghoultown website and Mouse)
Ever since reviewing the Gothabilly comp put out by Skully Records, I've had my ears open for this growing underground genre. Gothabilly, or deathrockabilly as some people call it, is a sizzling unique monster all its own that's springing up all over quicker than you can say "Night of the Living Dead". Bands like The Brickbats have been doing it for a while and have paved the way for an infusion of new bands like The Gettin' Headstones, Spectremen, The Krewmen and from Dallas, Texas (how fiendishly appropriate) with a western twist, comes Ghoultown.
Ghoultown, with its Western twist on undead rockabilly, has been in existence less than a year but has already made strong waves in the underground music world with a cameo and soundtrack in a movie, inclusion on several comps (including the upcoming Gothabilly 2 comp from Skully Records) and hard-hitting 3-song EP and a full length and comic book in the works.
Since I was in town for the weekend, I thought I'd test my luck in trying to convince Count Lyle from Ghoultown (and yes he does look that fiendishly suave in person) to do a spontaneous interview for StarVox. And just as you might expect from any Southern Gentleman, even if they are the undead kind, Count Lyle immediately obliged and agreed to meet me at The Church - a local Dallas night club.
finding the quietest corner possible (and believe me that was a chore!),
I set out to get the scoop on Ghoultown...
Lyle: Yeah, we've been together almost a year now. It'll be a year in May, so 11 months. The band is fairly new, the concept I had for several years prior to actually getting the band together. The band I had before this was kind of a hard core horror/sci-fi kind of thing, and we started doing some heavy country/spaghetti western stuff. It really kind of struck a chord with me, so I wanted to expand that. The other band broke up, so I got the opportunity to go ahead with the Ghoultown concept. So its barely been a year since I've had this band actually together.
Blu: Wow, so in that year you've generated a lot of buzz already because you have a comic book coming out, and a guest appearance in a film.
Yeah, I've been in several bands over the years, you know, with varying
degrees of success. But really, I mean ever since the first time
we played with this band I could really feel something was different about
it. The response I was getting from people, not just saying "Hey man, that
was pretty cool, man." It was more like "Man, I've never seen anything
this," or "I've always wanted to see a band like this," or whatever the comment was. I could feel that it had some potential. We played maybe 6 or 7 times when we had someone approach us about doing a movie soundtrack, you know. On up from there, we've got some compilation appearances. We're going to be on like four compilations this summer, and we've been recording some tunes for that. So its really been snowballing into something.
Blu: So are you guys doing the comic book yourselves, or did an artist come up with that?
The whole comic book thing actually came about before the band did.
I'm a writer as well, and I've published some fictional short stories like
horror stories and such. I was doing a novel which was a gothic western
type novel. It was post-apocalyptic Texas zombie cowboys. It
has a lot of saloons in it that were a mix between Gothic clubs and topless
bars, but old west. I'd have this band always playing in there. It
was kind of like the
Ghoultown band. Being a musician is kind of first before being a writer, and so I was like "man, I really have to start this band for real." I'd have this band always playing in there. t was kind of like the Ghoultown band.
Being a musician is kind of first before being a writer, and so I was like "man, I really have to start this band for real." It was a little different different concept when I started. It was a little more sit on stools and play wearing long, black dusters. But when it evolved, I started doing the band and it kind of came out of the novel, and the comic book was my next idea as well as the novel.
So I write all of that stuff, and I've been getting to it as I have time. I have a comic book company out of Houston called Badmoon Studios that just picked up the Ghoultown comic, so they have their own team of artists. Because you don't want me to draw it, trust me! <heh heh> So I'm writing, trying to get together the scripts. I mean, this probably won't come out until early next year, but I'm getting that together to do the comic book. And there's even other things. I have a meeting with somebody from, I won't say the name of the video game company, but its like one of the biggest video game companies in existence right now, and we're talking about a Ghoultown game.
So what I'm trying to do here is not the band running around as superheros. This is really a Gothic western with the characters, and the Ghoultown band is a very minor part of it. There is a link between reality and the Ghoultown world, but I'm trying to kind of link together all of the media like my writing, and the visual graphics, and the music into something that is kind of a whole world. Its connected. It doesn't just end with the music, or end with the comic book. Its a big task for me to do because I write all the material, and all the songs.. All the stuff. Eventually it will all come out.
Blu: So does that mean you're going to be bringing more characters to life with the band possibly? Like you just added a firedancer.
Lyle: Yeah definitely! We have a big stage show that includes our Goddess of Fire, and we have some upcoming guests and stuff on stage. Those will definitely be played into all of the other media somewhere down the line. Its all in the master plan, if you will.
Blu: How did you get involved with the film, American Nightmare?
Yeah! Someone had signed our guestbook early on when we got the website
up at ghoultown.com. I try to answer all of the mail whether its
the PO Box or the website, and I kind of started talking to a guy who ended
up being the musical director for a film that they are filming in Texas
called American Nightmare on Highland Myst Films. Our stuff was kind
of just perfect for what they were doing. They kind of wanted a From
Dusk Till Dawn kind of a feel with the music as a big part of the movie.
Its definitely a B Movie horror slasher, but I'm big into movies and
particularly horror films so, you know, I was all over that.
director came out and saw us play, and he loved the band so much that he
went back and rewrote a scene so that we could actually appear in the movie.
Which is, you know, a total honor for me so now I get to be in a movie.
Well, you know, we need a Ghoultown movie someday, too, so. You see,
its all playing
into the master plan I say again. <heh heh>
Blu: Right now you have a 3 song EP out, right? Are you working on a full length?
Lyle: Yeah. Its been kind of lame that we only have a 3-song out. One of the reasons for that is that its really developed what I was trying to do. We have 6 members in the band with a trumpet player and 3 guitars. So we wanted to let it really flesh itself out. I mean, "what is this band all about, and what is our potential?" rather than you know, putting this band together and 3 months later try to record an album. We did the demo just to get gigs, but it came out really well. People were begging to get a CD, so we went ahead and put that out. We've done 3 additional songs that will come out on compilations. So we've kind of been, you know, sticking stuff out there without recording the big, debut album. But we are going to get in the studio this summer, and get that album out because I think we really need to get that going.
Blu: How did you start working with Kevin at Scully Records?
Somebody tipped him off, I believe. He has a suggest bands on his
site, and somebody I guess suggested us. I sent him a promo, and
he called me on the phone like 2 days later, and he was like "We love this
stuff." So he's taking one song off of the 3 song EP, and we recorded
one specially for
the Gothabilly 2 compilation. So we have 2 songs as Ghoultown, and in addition to that, he was asking about my former band The Killcreeps, which occasionally we do shows as The Killcreeps. So I sent him that, and he picked a song off of that, so I have 3 tracks under 2 different bands. Its really cool!
Blu: I read on your website from indiemusic.com, they called you "Bonanza meets Charles Manson". That's really cool. What kind of influences, what kind of music do you bring into that?
Lyle: Really, my influences are all over the place. The comment "Bonanza meets Charles Manson" was the only thing I could take out of that review because they slammed us. They said we should watching Clint Eastwood, and turn on the radio, and learn how to write music. That our music has no relevence to the musical community. Of course, that was good in my eyes. I was like "Thank you, I'm trying to do something different." I don't want to turn on the radio and listen to everybody else. I mean, I do listen to the radio, and I know what's going on.. But that's not me. I just play.
Everything I write is what I want to see in a band, you know. There's not really a band like Ghoultown, its just something I wanted to do. But the influences probably come more from movies and comics than they do from other bands. You see some Cramps and Johnny Cash and Danzig in our music, or whatever. I like all of those bands, but I don't necessarily sit down and try to recreate any of that. That's just the comparisons people make. They've made all kinds, but you know movies like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I'm into old horror films. Black and white horror from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, you know. All of the Universal.. Dracula, The Mummy. You know, I've always been into horror and I don't know, I wanted to do something a little bit different with it. I mean, if you go play punk and put in horror, you're The Misfits. If you play metal and horror, you might be Rob Zombie. I was like "What can I do that's a little bit different, and put in my horror spin?" Fortunately for me, I have kind of a country voice, and I'm from Texas so it kind of just naturally developed. Maybe I can, you know, kind of fuck up country music with horror.
Blu: So its safe to say that your live show is big on the entertainment aspect. Can you describe your live show a little bit? Are there props or a story line that goes along?
Lyle: Yeah, I think there's as much to be gained from our live show as there is hearing the band. We go all the way with it. We wear, quote unquote, costumes. I mean, we wear black hats and I guess gothic makeup. Its a little bit different everytime we play. We have some props like cowskulls on polls that breathe fire. We have a firebreathing girl, The Goddess of Fire that does a fire show. We have some tombstones that a set designer for a haunted house has built for us. We've had a lot of contributors to the band. I've been amazed at the people wanting to contribute something to Ghoultown. Not asking for pay or anything. They just like it, and want to do something for us. So we've built up a nice set of stage props and such. I kind of compare it to, but we're obviously not on the budget level, but if KISS were a country band, that would be Ghoultown.
Blu: So you guys play a lot here around Texas. What gigs do you have coming up?
Lyle: This is the first time we've done this, but we have 2 shows in one day next weekend in Houston. We're playing some kind of street festival, which should be interesting because we'll have the innocent bystander subjected to some Ghoultown. We're playing at a small club that night. We play here in our hometown, Dallas, probably every 2 or 3 weeks at most of the major clubs. We try to put a different spin on the show. Sometimes we dress down, or dress up. You know, you'll see something different. We're always writing new songs, and playing crazy covers. We play a country-fried version of Hell's Bells. We play some Johnny Cash covers. Things like that. We play a lot here around Texas, but we try to offer something unique every time.
Blu: Any plans to go out of state yet?
Lyle: Yeah, that's in the works. We're trying to keep our jobs long enough to pay for our debut album, and really set ourselves up to get out there and saturate some other cities and other states with our show. We're kind of ramping up, and getting the buzz. Getting these soundtrack deals and recording all of these songs. We're doing an online label, so I'm funding everything. So my cursed day job is kind of paying for everything, so I'm trying to time it right.
Blu: Any last parting words?
Lyle: Uhhhhhhh.. Keep music evil!!
Blu: Yea!!!! <hahaha>
Lyle: <hahaha> I read that on a shirt somewhere! <hehe>
Blu: Thank you, Lyle!
film American Nightmare
*Special thanks to ::Cyberina:: for helping out with this interview, for the tape recorder on short notice and for transposing it for me :)
~interview by Michael Otley
of Paris existed in the early nineties when the use of synthetics and acoustics
had both been well explored in popular music. Even the idea of combining
them had broken ground years before and then heard on the radio in quite
popular songs. But somehow as an artist if you played with a sequencer
you were rowing against the current. Judgment of Paris found their
own unique sound with their various live instruments, both acoustic and
electric, usually played over synthetic sequences. The three main
artists, Joel, Brad, and Christian, made the music that came to them, often
referred to as world music with gothic influences. The albums are
quite eclectic in style, quite difficult to categorize sweepingly, but
indeed with an overall original feel. They eventually went their
separate ways, Judgement of Paris being somewhat of a launching pad for
other creative movements and projects in their life, musical, personal,
etc. Judgement of Paris went mostly unnoticed in their time.
So what happens to bands that make a couple strong albums and split in
the middle of their third effort? Well, if they're lucky a record
label like Projekt will find them half a decade later. Projekt Records
re-released Judgement's two full length albums,
Conversion and Signal,
with additional material added to each CD, including the material they
had been working on for a third release. The three are still in touch;
here are their thoughts years after the
Judgement of Paris represents my first successful, creatively satisfying,
musical collaboration with two people, Brad and Christian, who have probably
had, creatively speaking, the most positive influence on my life thus far.
The creative confidence I developed in Judgement of Paris increased my
interest in working with other musicians, and lead to the
composition of a couple of soundtracks for live theater in Minneapolis, perhaps my most enjoyable work as a musician thus far, work I would like to do more of in the future. In addition, almost six years after the band's demise, Judgement of Paris continues to be the sonic barometer by which I measure my growth as a musician and composer. And despite the technical flaws of both recordings, a handful of the songs are still meaningful to me.
Brad: To answer the question, I'd say that it makes me realize what a creative whirlwind we were in at that time in our lives. It was immensely satisfying to work with Christian, Joel and Richard at that time. Christian has always had a million brilliant musical ideas kicking around in his head. I felt like I was sort of a funnel of sorts. I created most of the sounds and Christian gave them life in the way he used them. The way this period affects my life now is that it makes me long for collaboration! My current life as a photographer is a lot more solitary, at least creatively. Working with Judgement of Paris back then was just a constant creative exploration and satisfaction, and we essentially breathed music and sound from the moment we woke up. Honestly, hearing the reissues on Projekt really made me want to work on another album and try to recapture the same magic, but factoring in how much we've all grown since these albums were recorded.
It's a weird balance of satisfaction and frustration. Judgement of Paris
had many promising elements, but I never felt like we put them all together
in the way we could have done. Really, I have always considered myself
the weak link in some of the older recordings, because I never felt like
a very strong singer or lyricist. On the other hand, each
of my musical projects since then have lacked certain elements that I still admire about the Judgement of Paris stuff. When I went back to do the remastering on the two CDs, I was really surprised at how good some of the instrumentation was. There was also a really unique mood to the second CD that I've never really found in anything else, even my own material.
StarVox: Judgement of Paris was obviously an important creative time in your lives. What would you see happen differently, after all these years, if you were to pick up Judgement of Paris again right now?
Christian: A lot of the more technical aspects of singing, songwriting, recording, mixing are more familiar to me now, so we would probably have a more polished finished product. Since we now live in different parts of the country, the type of collaboration would be different than it was when we all lived in the same house and worked on music at every free moment. In a lot of ways I think it would be better.
Christian mentioned, we'd definitely feel more comfortable with the recording
process, and we've learned a lot since then. Christian has developed in
nearly every way, particularly vocally. I haven't done anything musically
since the last time we played live, 1994? Our tastes have probably changed
quite a bit since then. I'd expect another Judgement of Paris record to
be both more serene and more explosive and bombastic. Joel and I live in
Seattle now, and we'd have to pass ideas back and forth to Christian and
whoever else is involved via DAT, cassette or sequencer file. While
we all look back on the first two albums with fond memories, I think the
direction we were going when we packed things up was a better
direction than anything we've recorded. We were experimenting even more at that time and I think we're all hoping another record would have more guitar on it again. We recorded both of the first albums rather cheaply in our home studio, so I'd expect a third album to be a much more elaborate production. Judgement of Paris left quite a few scraps and ideas
unfinished, but we would start fresh with all new material. It's difficult to sit here typing about the past when I'd love to be working on another record! Right now, we're all involved in quite a few things in our livesthat are keeping us from getting started, but I know we want to make a 3rd album a reality.
Joel: In light of Christian's ability to create fairly polished finished products from his home studio, I think Brad, Christian and I would probably have a lot more fun if we were to record a third album together than we have had in the past. I mean, to me, recording has always been the most enjoyable aspect of being in a band, because you can shape the finished product at your leisure, and, in the end, you have something tangible to show for your efforts. Recording the first two records was a memorable experience that brought the three of us closer together, but now that Christian knows a lot about mixing and mastering, we can concentrate more of our creative energy on the moment ideas are generated between us, those wonderful times when you first come up with a compelling melody, that could only happen as a result of the three of us being in a room together, and you sit back and marvel at its possibilities. To be more precise, those moments are the best part of being in a band. Before I moved to Seattle, Christian and I had worked on music together on and off for about 12 years. It is so easy for us to improvise now; I would relish the opportunity to see how the three of us interact after a six-year absence; it would be like discovering the joy of our unique interaction all over again.
StarVox: The two re-releases on Projekt are very rich and eclectic albums. Anyone listening to the CDs would say they hear a lot of different stylistic influences. But as individual artists creating your own music, what would you say are some of the specific moments on those releases that work best for you?
Christian: The first 5 songs on Signal really work for me. I am really glad we put that record together the way we did. Everything about those 5 tracks really clicks, even the stuff that usually makes me self-conscious like the lyrics and singing. All those songs have such a strange mood which was unique to Judgement of Paris.
I agree with Christian, and would add that the first and last song on Conversion
are really indicative of our style and mood at the time. We were working
in a huge, cold, brick warehouse with high ceilings while recording everything,
and those two songs best capture the ambience of that studio, which was
actually our living area also. Signal, to me, is a much
more satisfying record as a whole, as it blended our increased interest inelectronic collage with the warmer, more organic elements like dulcimer, bass and guitar. I'd say my favorite song on both albums is, without question, "Grind". I would have recorded that song differently if we could turn back time, but that song came out exactly like I envisioned.
Joel: Most of the songs that are still meaningful to me are found on Signal as well. "Grind" is also my favorite piece. To me, it's an accurate one-song representation of Judgement of Paris's cold but cathartic sound, but I also like the last song "Signal Two". The song started out as a live improvisation, but we recorded it in two takes in the cramped attic of a house we were sharing in St. Paul. After completing the second takeand listening back to the mix, Richard, who played fretless bass on the song, said something like "I'll probably still like this song years from now." Years later, our friend Tim told me that he thought my dulcimer part "sounded like rain." I also like many of the instrumental tracks on Conversion, the two Brad mentioned as well as "Untied", "Balance", and the last minute of the song "The Lessons", where Katharine is singing. In addition to the speed and ease with which we recorded them, those instrumentals still manage to transform any environment in which they're played, although I haven't listened to them in a long time.
StarVox: Some additional material is included on each of the re-releases, would you like to comment on these?
Christian: These were mostly demo versions for songs that were never finished. In most cases they were almost complete, but didn't have lyrics. If you listen you may notice some nonsensical mumbling at points. There are more recordings like those lying around that I hope will end up as mp3s or something.
The extra material are, in each case, songs we worked on before and after
these releases that were never finished. They were recorded at home, sometimes
under very primitive conditions. Tangent is the name of
the third album we were starting when we were unable to continue the band. I really like the original version of Signa, which has a sort of Skinny Puppy mixed with The Who feel. Had we continued the band at that time, it's likely that we would have pursued a more aggressive sound in addition to the more ambient material. There was actually quite a bit of material that
we cut from Signal prior to it's release, but it's still not part of the bonus material.
Joel: Christian and I had a couple of different songs in mind for the extra tracks on Conversion, including an instrumental from our very first cassette-only release entitled The Season's Life, but we couldn't find a copy of it in Brad's shoebox full of DATs that contain probably one tenth of the band's material. Christian has three grocery bags full of tapes from our early days, most of which aren't very good, but, every so often, Christian will pull one of them out and find an interesting track that we usually have no memory of constructing. Tangent is one of the last things that Brad and Christian worked on before the band broke up in late 1994. It's a rough version, but it's our only version and I'm happy that it made it to CD.
StarVox: The photography and packaging for these releases is simply beautiful. Were these photographs used in the original releases?
Bradley: Thanks. The photographs were the same as the original releases, but used quite a bit differently. We wanted to re-issues to have an ECM-esque sort of timeless feel. I think Christian's original release design for Signal was amazing, though.
The only modification I would make to Brad's answer is to add that the
booklet image in Signal is different from the original photo, the
back yard of someone's house on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, that would have
been an appropriate alternative set for the spaceship landing scene in
Encounters of the Third Kind. The new photo is a shot I took
front of the fake Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas last January on my first, and assuredly last, trip to that city. I really love Brad's photography and I hope we can use more of it if we record another album, but Christian had a wonderful design for the Projekt re-issues that he didn't have time to complete.
StarVox: One of my favorite moments of listening to your CDs was when I heard the gentle and subtle guitar strums behind "Anything", just under the synth, the interesting drum track, and dulcimer. Throughout your works a large variety of instrumentation is used. How do you feel this variety helps to mold the overall Judgement of Paris sound, and with so much variety is there a struggle to keep it cohesive?
Honestly, I don't think any notions of variety and cohesiveness ever entered
our minds. We love the instruments we used and just composed around them,
although almost everything on Signal was written around the synth
parts. We just assumed with most sequences that we'd add fretless bass,
guitar, hammered dulcimer, voice, live percussion and whatever else fit
the song. The song you mentioned, "Anything", was the only song where
producer Chuck Zwicky played bass and I played live synth over the top.
I love the way he plays bass. Our approach to playing live over sequenced
parts allowed us to try alternative versions quickly and not limit ourselves to any preconceived ideas about the correct way for the song to be recorded.
Christian: Back then we made very little attempt to keep things cohesive, although we did have the sense not to release some of the more dance-oriented tracks that we did on the side. In the beginning, I never wanted to be caught doing the same thing twice. I think we did eventually settle into a particular type of instrumentation on Signal.
Joel: At the time we recorded Conversion, I could only play two instruments, hammered dulcimer and hand percussion, so I tried to push both instruments onto as many songs as I could! But in all honesty, the only attempt I recall at cohesiveness was the manner in which Christian and I decided the order of the songs on Conversion. We had written some material for a documentary on public television and much of the music that was not used, some of the more effective pieces, in my opinion, ended up on Conversion, interspersed between the vocal tracks. All of us liked the idea of alternating between instrumental and vocal tracks, and, in hindsight, that choice gave Conversion a kind of short-story continuity, in the sense that the songs, to me, take on an added meaning in relation to each other and are, thus, meant to be listened to in order. But the decisions were made very quickly; one of us wrote out a song order, the other made some minor changes and the final order ended up sounding a lot more calculated than it actually was.
StarVox: It's interesting that these releases are a retrospect for you, but completely new albums to most people that hear them. Any last words on how this makes you feel?
I'm pretty excited, actually. The one we thing we never were able to do
back then was reach people that might appreciate what we did. I mean, we
always had a few admirers here and there, but we never really tapped into
a general consciousness with what we were doing. I think there are people
out there who would have enjoyed the stuff back then if they had heard
it, and who may well enjoy it now. Projekt Records obviously has a long
track record of raising awareness of music that is ignored by the mainstream,
and I think they have certainly done this with Judgement of
Paris as well. On a personal level, it's also forced me to have respect for my entire back catalog of musical
projects. The kinds of things I'm doing now are entirely different from what we did then, and sometimes it's been easy or convenient for me to turn my back on the musical experiments of the past. Now that my first project has been re-released, it's kind of like hearing it again for the first time. I can enjoy getting back into the mindset we were in at the time, and can appreciate the way it helped shape everything I've done since then.
Bradley: Like Christian and Joel, I was happy to learn that Sam was interested in re-releasing them, because the original releases didn't get the same level of distribution. We received some good reviews in major magazines, but not everyone could find the CDs. I think we were also interested in adding the additional material to both CDs as a note of finality or closure for that era of our music. The first thing I felt upon listening to the re-issues was the fact that our sound is still somewhat anomalous today, and hearing them brought me right back to the mindset and energy we felt during the creation and recording process.
I, too, am happy that Sam was willing to help re-introduce Judgement
to a whole new audience. As I wrote in our web site bio, we were
one step ahead, or behind, what people were looking for at the time.
But in our hometown of Minneapolis, more people are experimenting with,
and are receptive to, synth-based music and I believe our band would have
been more well received if we were playing now as opposed to six or eight
years ago. But even if we were sonically anachronistic and never
reached the audience that we had hoped to, the music we created is still
meaningful to Brad,
Christian and myself, although we each like different songs, and a handful of others, mostly other musicians, and that's enough for me. The rest of it, what a lot of other people define as success, is out of our hands anyway. Nevertheless, Sam has expressed interest in a third album with Judgement, and, even though we've all moved on to other things, I would relish the opportunity to work exclusively with Brad and Christian one more time.
re-release of Judgement's two full length albums, Conversion and
Signal are available through Projekt at:
de Voltaire: An Intimate Dialogue
Every era produces a personality that best typifies its zeitgeist. The Voltaire of "The Age of Enlightenment" was one such personality. He is regarded as one of France's greatest writers and philosophers. He was highly regarded by the idle rich, for his cleverness and rapier wit. That isn't to say that he escaped reckoning for his impudence. "He was a poet after all, and poets were meant to be beaten". It was amusing for an injured nobleman to see the object of his injury humiliated as well.
The age we live in has produced a man of no less import. His name aptly enough, is Voltaire as well. The arena's in which he exercises his gifts are stop-motion animation, music, and comic books. Those qualities that made the Voltaire of yore a hotly courted presence at every get together, are present in the Voltaire of today. He is a man of unusual charm, and wit.
I became acquainted with Voltaire at Convergence6. I was won over by his easy familiarity, and unflagging sense of humour. It was a delight throughout Convergence to speak, and drink with him. I immediately formed the intent to interview him at the close of that weekend. Voltaire's most recent release Almost Human has afforded me an excellent premise. It is a collection of wry observations on the foibles of spiritual beings having human experiences. And now, the moment you've all been waiting for - the interview...
Well, good evening Voltaire what an unsurpassed delight to cross blades with you once again. Please feel free to express yourself freely here. The content of your responses will be presented in full, we live in a free society after all...
In your own words, please tell me how you came to choose your moniker Voltaire. What significance did the man, or his ideas have for you, so much so that you would appropriate his name? Let me note, that you've acquitted yourself admirably in its use.
V: Nope! I shall tell you no such thing! Every body should have their mysteries. This one will be mine. I will tell you this though, Voltaire (the dead one! as opposed to the Undead one!) was one of the greatest minds and personalities of the last thousand years. Not because he had so much informational knowledge, which he did, but because he saw through the hypocrisies of humanity and commented on them through satire. In essence, he was able to educate people about the world around them by making them laugh.
I imagine you are a man of liberal education. In your estimation, is formal or informal education of more use to the artist? Do you think that the strictures of a formal education, can impede and/or cloud the development of ones creative force?
V: You imagine incorrectly. I never went to college. I graduated High School as a Junior so I never had to do my fourth year. Not that I'm so damn smart mind you, but because my desire to get the hell out of school and away from all of these loathsome people that I was forced to spend my days with was a GREAT motivational force. I think that schooling is important for some. I mean let's face it, do you want to be on an operating table and hear the surgeon say, "I've never done this before but uh, that organ is a pretty color. Let's start with that one!" However, some of us are better off without schooling. I teach film at a university here in Manhattan. I tell my students that it's good that they are in school because they have access to all of this film equipment. But at the end of the day, you don't need to go to school to be an artist. You either have it or you don't.
Can you give me some sense of why you were drawn to stop-motion animation as an art form? Is it the focus of your animation endeavors, or are there other disciplines within the field of animation that interest you? If so, what are they and why are they of interest?
V: I was always a fan of monster movies. From as far back as I can remember, I was always running to the TV to see some monster eat some other monster. Then I saw the films of Ray Harryhausen and there was just something very magical about his creatures. They looked absolutely real to me and that made me want to find out how he brought them to life. I started to read about his films in magazines like Starlog and Famous Monsters of Filmland and it was there that I was first introduced to the technique of stop-motion animation. I got a super 8 camera when I was ten and started making my own films. I got my first job as an animator at age seventeen animating a commercial for Parker Brothers and I've been doing it ever since.
I really love the whole process of stop-motion. Unlike computer animation, stop-motion requires that you make an actual model and I really enjoy that. I've always been big on action figures so in essence, I get to make all of these cool toys. And after the commercials or films are done, I keep the models and display them in cases. My apartment is full of monsters! It's really nice to look around and see all of these creatures that I've animated.
I understand you've originated a couple of comic books Chi-Chian, and Oh My Goth. By what avenue did you arrive at comic books as a means of personal expression? How has this form of art fulfilled your need for expression? How has it been received thus far? What kind of following does it have nationally and internationally?
V: Okay this is the part where I get myself shot! I have to admit that I never read comic books as a child. I really preferred watching movies and so I got into animation.
In 1989, I was directing a television commercial in Tokyo when I received a call from Bandai, a Japanese toy company. They told me that they were interested in having me come up with an idea for a film that I would direct for them. At the time I had only made 30 second commercials and 10 second MTV station IDs so I was really stumped as far as where to begin creating a long form project. That night in an outdoor cafe in Harajuku, I started to think about the possibilities of making a film. I thought, "If I was going to tell a story, who would it be about? Who would this character be that would be so close to my heart that other people would be moved by this character's story as well?" Right there Chi-Chian was born. I started to draw her on the table cloth in front of me. I got back to NY and got really caught up in the day to day of my directing career. I didn't have time to consciously work on the Chi-Chian story but over the next 8 years, I would think about her a lot and draw her on napkins every time I went to a cafe.
Eventually, her story had grown into this HUGE saga! I knew everything there was to know about her world, her history, her parent's history and so on. It was time to get the project in motion. However, at the time I was sort of at a loss as to where I was going to find the 14 million dollars necessary to make this film! That's when it occurred to me that I could tell her story in comic book form. It would require no initial investment and I could do all of the work myself. I started going to Yaffa cafe in NY every night at midnight and drawing what would become the first issue of the Chi-Chian comic book series. It took me about 6 months to draw the first book! As I mentioned, I had never read comic books so I REALLY had no idea what I was doing! After the book was done, I took it to The Sci Fi Channel. I was directing station IDs for them at the time and pitched the idea of creating a station ID for them with the Chi-Chian character. They liked the designs and commissioned me to create a 10 second ID. In the piece, a stop-motion Chi-Chian electrocutes (ever so coyly!) a giant robot with several thousand volts of electricity. With the Chi-Chian spot running on Sci Fi, I sent the prototype of the Chi-Chian comic book to Sirius Entertainment and they happily agreed to publish it. They commissioned me to create a 6 issue series. I was really happy with the way the book came out and how the story developed but was majorly disappointed by the way it was received. It simply didn't do as well as I wanted it to. I attribute the lack of sales to 2 things: first of all, there was really very little if any promotion and advertising so most people never even found out it existed! secondly: she doesn't have big tits and she doesn't kick guys in the nads! (a popular trend in comic books these days that feature a female lead character)
Luckily for me, I received an email from the Sci-Fi Channel's website a few months ago. They remembered the station ID that I did for them 3 years ago and asked me if I would be interested in creating an animated Chi-Chian series for their website!!! So now I'm in production of a 14 episode animated series! The trailer for the series launches on Halloween at www.scifi.com and it's like NOTHING you've ever seen on the net! It's the very first stop-motion series created in FLASH. Instead of drawing all of the images, I actually make models, photograph them, scan them into the computer then have them animated in FLASH. The series is completely photographic. Imagine Tim Burton getting together with Ray Harryhausen and H R Giger to make a Japanese Anime and that will give you an idea of what this thing looks like!
It's really exciting and sort of ironic. 11 years after the creation of Chi-Chian, she is finally an animated project as I had originally intended.
As far as Oh My Goth! goes, I started playing shows in Manhattan in 1995. At the time, I was doing solo acoustic shows and like most musicians was looking for a way to advertise my performances. I always felt that handing out flyers was a bit of a bore and sort of impersonal. At the end of a night out, I would empty my pockets of the twenty or so band and goth club flyers onto the counter and never look at them again until way after the fact. I wanted to do something different and that's when I came up with OMG!. I was inspired by those religious tracts that they hand out on the subway. You know, the ones that have a picture of Bart Simpson on the cover and you think, "Oh cool! A Bart Simpson comic book!" Then you get to the end and there's suddenly all of this religious scripture explaining why poor little Bart is going straight to Hell for riding a skateboard!!!
I started creating little religious scriptures of my own called Oh My Goth! In these 8 page booklets, I would be chased by the minions of Satan as they tried to prevent me from playing another show and somehow by the end it would end up with the information for my next show. I would draw them in a night and then spend hours and hours at Kinkos copying, folding, stapling and hand writing addresses on them. I must have made thousands of them! My goal was to provide people with five minutes of free entertainment. Whether or not they came to the show, they would at least be laughing for a couple of minutes. I would also hand them out at Goth clubs and let me tell you, it was pretty funny to see a hundred kids sitting on the floor in the dark reading these things and trying not to laugh out loud (wouldn't want to let your friends see you smile, now would you?!) OMG! took on a life of its own. People would come up to me on the street and ask me when the next issue was coming out.
So, two issues into the Chi-Chian series, I somehow convinced the folks at Sirius to publish an Oh My Goth! series. I was drawing issues of OMG! in-between creating issues of Chi-Chian. It was SHEER MADNESS!!!!! I practically lived at YAFFA cafe. Surprisingly, the Oh My Goth! series really took off and did better than the Chi-Chian series. I created 4 issues which were later compiled into a graphic novel and I am now working on the 3rd issue of Oh My Goth! Humans Suck! (the second OMG! series)
Having probed your interests in animation and comic books, let me ask about the music. Why music? I've heard Devil's Bris and now Almost Human. I've seen the live show, and I am amazed with the alacrity with which your music moves. It's very singular in my listening experience. Tell me, what does music mean to you? Who do you enjoy now and in the past, for what reasons? What styles have influenced your music? Unwind here, tell me about your thoughts and feelings as regard the direction your music is taking, and where music is at this point in time in it's development.
V: Alacrity? What the hell's that?!!! I didn't go to school, remember?
I had a band in junior high school called First Degree. We played covers of Rush, Judas Priest, The Kinks, etc... basically, what ever we thought was cool. We probably sucked something awful! But if we did, we didn't know it.
I never stopped writing and playing music. I just did it at home for my own enjoyment. Then one day I was invited by a friend of mine to see a "solo, acoustic, Goth performance" he had booked for a local club. I was like, "Sole, Acoustic, Goth? Is that possible? Where's the drum machine? Where are the electric guitars?" After the show my friend asked me what I thought and I told him that I thought it sucked! I said, "I put on a better show every night in my living room!" He called me on it saying, "Okay, well then you're doing your show here at the club next Sunday." I was like. "DOH!" And so I played my first show in March of 1995. I had so much fun that I just kept on doing it! (Animation is a slow and painstaking process that takes days and days of me working by myself to create a few mere seconds of moving images. Playing live shows is completely different. You get an immediate response from the audience and I LOVE THAT!)
At the time I was listening to Tom Waits a lot (especially Rain Dogs) and I was a fan of the local band Rasputina (three chicks singing and playing cellos in turn of the century underwear! Woo Hoo!). I was really enthralled by the possibilities of creating contemporary music that had an old world sound. I also didn't want to create the usual mopey, feeling sorry for yourself crap that is so prevalent in the scene, so I started writing songs that were satirical and damn near (dare I say it?) funny! From my very first show, it really struck a cord with the audience. I think people in the scene are so use to having to pretend that they are sad ALL of the time, that it was refreshing to have someone encouraging laughter.
I eventually formed a band comprised of violin, cello and drums with me singing and playing acoustic guitar. Within a year of our first show as a band, we were signed by Projekt. We put out our first CD in June of 1998 called The Devil's Bris.
Two years later (August 2000) we released our second CD, Almost Human. (Hey wait a minute! If my comic book is called Humans Suck and my CD is called Almost Human, does that mean that my CD Almost Sucks?!! SHIT!)
I was really nervous about how people would react to Almost Human. It's a bit different from Bris. It has a bit more of a contemporary sound. I grew up listening to 80s New Wave and that really seeped into this record. I wanted to create a CD that sounded like it was written by a New Wave band in Victorian England! It's lighter and bouncier than Bris and I was afraid that fans of Bris would hate it. I was really thrilled at the reaction. It's gotten very positive reviews most of which say it's a better record. People usually hate it when a band alters their sound. I know that when Depeche Mode started doing the more guitar oriented stuff I was pissed! I would have been happy to hear 12 more Violators! It's a really sticky business. You have to be careful not to alienate your audience. I try not to let those kinds of things affect the way I write music though. I just write what I want to hear then cross my fingers and pray that other people will like it as well. I think the moment you start creating music based on what you think people want to hear, you compromise the integrity of the work and start writing shitty pop songs.
why I've decided that my next CD will be all Gangsta Goth tracks.
(relax! I'm kidding!)
You make your home in New York. Why New York? Where were you born? If the choice was yours, where would you call home? Why? I understand you travel a great deal. Where have you been? In terms of the goth "community" how do goths compare with their counterparts from one state to another, or country by country? In your estimation, where does the healthiest "scene" exist, all finery and attitude aside?
V: I was born in Cuba, had the misfortune of growing up in New Jersey (hey, it's really tough being a freak in NJ) and now I live in NEW YORK FUCKIN CITY !!!!! As far as I'm concerned, NY is the center of the world! This city has such a great energy, especially for a nocturnal soul such as myself. There is something to do 24 hours a day. I am a total workaholic and this city is really conducive to working ALL of the time if that's what you want to do.
New York has its curse, though. When you first get here, you're amazed. Everything is so exciting, everything is right out of a movie. Literally! You go to the super market and there's Christina Ricci standing next to you squeezing tomatoes. And you're like, "I'd like to squeeze HER tomatoes!" Celebrities feel at home in New York because people don't bother them here. New Yorkers tend to be pretty desensitized to that sort of thing. If you have a three foot high, purple mohawk, your the "normal" guy! In most other places, people think that anyone on TV or anyone on the radio lives on Mount Olympus, like they are not REAL people. I dated Debbie Harry for a while years ago and people in my home town (West Orange, NJ... UHGGGG!) were having a heart attack about it.
after you've been here for a few years, you get use to the pace of things
and things don't seem so other worldly.
Then eventually, you start to get bored of NY and decide to go somewhere else. But when you get there, within 2 days YOU WANT TO FUCKIN KILL YOURSELF!!!!!!!
If you are a type "A" personality, NY is the place for you. But be warned, if you get use to NY you will never be able to live anywhere else. I've been around the world and Tokyo is the only other place I could live. They are just as psychotic as New Yorkers. They work 20 hours a day there. I love it!
The hi-jinks provided in an election year, must afford you many opportunities for mirth. Please describe an animated scenario as it applies to those vying for the office of president.
V: Oh God, I don't know. I hate politics. Politicians are like Goth scene promoters. The only people who would want the job are power hungry morons that have no discernible skill other than talking a lot of shit! I don't trust anyone who wants that kind of power. Or fame for that matter. There is NO good reason to WANT to be be famous! Fame is a terrible thing. It limits you. You can't go anywhere, you can't just relax and be yourself in public and people who have never ever met you think they are your best friend. (I know this for a fact because I'm convinced that Bjork is talking directly to me and sending me secret messages in her songs! ; )
Success is a different thing. Having the financial freedom to do what you want to do is very liberating. God knows I don't want to do anything because I HAVE to!
Please tell me about your impressions of Convergence6. How do you think it compared with Convergence past, and other such gatherings of gothic folk? What were the highlights for you? What did you think of Seattle, had you seen the northwest before? I understand New York won the bid for Convergence7. What are your feelings on that? To what extent will you be involved in your own city's plans?
V: Convergence 6 was one of the very best events I have EVER had the pleasure of being a part of! It was run SO DAMN WELL ( and I'm not just saying that because as we speak one of the organizers (Violet) is asleep in my guest room!!!!)
It was just so damn fun and I met a lot of really great people. The club we played at (The Show Box) was amazing! (Great sound! Two thousand enthusiastic people in the audience, sharing a stage with Peter Murphy, etc! What more could you want?)
Seattle was a trip! I had no idea that we were so popular there. I heard my songs in every club I went to. You know, they say a prophet is never appreciated in his own land... ; ) I was convinced that my songs were a dance floor killer! Here in NY, people will be jumping up and down to Ramstein and one of my gay assed waltzes or tangos will come on it's like... "time to go get a drink, honey!" In Seattle I was really thrilled to see people enthusiastically swaying about to "When You're Evil" like a bunch of drunken, gypsy pirates! (as it should be!) I felt really at home there.
As far as C7 is concerned, I couldn't really tell you much about it. I haven't been approached by the organizers and unless a ton of people come from way out of town, most of the people here have seen me play a bunch of times. I LOVE LOVE LOVE playing in NY. The crowds are really good to us here. But playing out of state gives us the opportunity to bring our show to people who have never seen us before. And that's a very good thing.
For curiousity's sake, I have to ask about your involvement in the goth community. Where were you, and how old were you when you first heard BauHaus ? What is your connection to, and affinity for gothic folk? I also believe you're providing a valuable service in skewering their pretensions in song and comics. Kudos.
When I was seventeen, I was a stone cold Duranie! I wanted soooooo desperately
to be the sixth member of
Duran Duran. (You should see pictures! I looked like the illegitimate love child of Nick Rhodes and John Taylor!) At some point in the 80s I started getting into The Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxie, etc.... I gave up the purple lip gloss for black lipstick and the spandex pants for the darker, all black wardrobe I wear to this day. Ironically though, I never knew there was a Goth "scene"! I listened to the music, dressed the part but spent most of my time working or spending time with my girlfriend. It wasn't until 10 years later (around 1995) that I was walking down the street and saw some girl decked out in Goth attire that it occurred to me. I said to her, "You look really great. Sorry to bother you but, is there a place where people who look like us go?" (I mean, besides the cemetery!) And she was gracious enough to take me to a big Goth club called The Bank (now defunct). I was SHOCKED!!! It was like the place that time forgot! There were scores of goths lurking in dark corners and swaying around like evil hippies like no one told them that it wasn't 1984 anymore! I was sooooo happy to find a place where weirdoes like me could congregate and revel in our love for that forgotten time in music history. Of course, most of the people there were about 10 years old (which I couldn't quite figure out) but hey, more power to them! In a time when young people are force fed N Sync and Britney Spears, I have a lot of respect for kids who CHOOSE to be a part of something that is not considered "cool" by the mainstream. It only reaffirms to me that their interest in the genre is genuine and they are involved because they truly believe in it and not because it is the trendy thing to do.
I understand you have a new project in development with the Sci-Fi Channel. Would you be willing to share the details of this new venture with me? I'd also be interested in hearing about the Oh My Goth graphic novel, if you'd care to share?
V: As I've mentioned, I am in production of a 14 episode animated series based on my first comic book Chi-Chian. This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened in my career! I LOVE Chi-Chian! She is a character that is very close to my heart. She is an innocent young woman, very pure of heart, living in a dark, future New York (after the New York/ New Jersey War!) who struggles to hold onto her purity while being surrounded by evil, ignorant people. It is such a pleasure for me to be able to bring a character that Goths can identify with to a mainstream audience. I hope that it can in some way expose "normal" people to the Goth esthetic and mentality in a positive way. Unfortunately, Goths are rarely seen in the mass media and when they are they are usually portrayed as evil, goat killing, Satan worshiping, chicken sucking freaks ( I for one, haven't killed a goat or sucked on a dead chicken in weeks!). And as far as the Goth audience is concerned, outside of Tim Burton's films, there is so little for us to look at that out there. There is a huge deficit in quality Goth entertainment! (how many grave rubbings can you do before you just want to fuckin chop your head off?!) Now because of the photographic nature of the series, file sizes are going to be unusually large, so please be patient with me and I promise to do the very best job I can to make the longish download time worth the wait!
Tell me about a day in the life of Voltaire. How do you spend your day? What are your passions and causes? Do you volunteer time, or money to...oh, soup kitchens, the forgotten children's fund, or subversive political organizations?
V: Yes, I am presently collecting money for the Voltaire needs a vacation fund! I'm sorry to say that I am an incredibly self centered person whose constant obsession is creating comic books, music and animation (and undoubtedly a host of other projects that I have yet to get to) There aren't enough hours in the day to make all of these projects come to life. So I chose the ones that I can get done and bust my butt about 20 hours a day to make them happen. I really am truly an obsessive workaholic.
My cause is (above and beyond just exercising my creative demons) educating people about the horrors of the human species and the terrible things we do to each other. I hope that through entertainment (and humor) I can in some way change the way people behave towards one another and help them to stop being such DICKS! to those of us who are different and don't quite fit in to the mainstream's perception of what is "normal". I also strive to reach out to people who don't quite fit in if just to tell them that they are not alone and that they are right in believing that the way the world mistreats them is WRONG!
At the moment, my daily schedule goes as follows:
11:00am My interns show up at my place and we begin work on the Chi-Chian series We make rubber animation models, photograph them, scan them into the computer, do Photoshop work on the files, I draw storyboards for the episodes, direct the animation, spend time on the phone with the marketing, publicity and e-commerce departments and engage in the day to day administrative duties of directing and overseeing the production
7:30 pm Interns go home. I keep working on-line with the animators. In-between downloads, I work on writing songs for the next CD. I book shows, answer emails, book convention appearances and do these ANNOYING INTERVIEWS!!! ; )
12:00 am I go to Yaffa cafe and work on Oh My Goth! Humans Suck. I know it's weird that I draw in a cafe but I need the loud music and non stop coffee to keep me stimulated (not to mention awake).
7:00 am Go home, go to sleep
11:00 am It all starts all over again!
In-between there somewhere I make time for my family and play with my son. I don't have much of a social life other than things that sort of involve work. I don't have much in the way of friends. (Boo hoo, that's so Goth!) Most of the people I consider friends are people I'm working with cause we have something in common (my work). I travel quite a bit, usually going to conventions or to play shows or the occasional commercial job out of town. I like this kind of travel because it encompasses the three things I enjoy most; meeting new people, seeing new places and work.
My one great, totally recreational activity is wandering aimlessly around Manhattan (and occasionally picking up an action figure.)
I understand you're a father, and husband? Tell me about the ways in which these roles complement your life and art? How old is your son now? What kind of hopes do you have for the future he'll live in? Make three predictions about the near future.
V: Being a father kicks ass! I happen to be blessed with a son, Mars (2 and a half), who has a GREAT personality and a wonderful, usually happy temperament. Also, I can use him as an excuse to buy more action figures! The one down side of father hood and being a husband is that I have to try to be conscious of the time that THEY require of me. I can get very carried away with my projects and forget that I need to be around for them even if it's just to BE there. It took a little bit of time to get use to, but now I insist that we all take the time to have dinner together and spend a couple of hours afterwards just being together. I also really enjoy putting Mars to bed. It's a nice, quiet time. We lay in bed and read books. (mostly Halloween books! hee hee)
I hope to instill in my son a sense that he can do whatever he wants to do in his life. We've traveled quite a bit. He just got back from Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand with his mother. I want him to know that this is a huge world with many different cultures and perspectives. I'm sure that he will grow up to have a very broad outlook on life.
predictions for the near future:
1: Both Bush and Gore will die in a freak accident and somebody whose really wimpy will be our next president at which point we'll be invaded by Canada and be forced to learn bad French.
2: Goth will become the next big thing and everyone who is presently Goth will start listening to N Sync and Britney Spears and seem really subversive.
3: India will drop an atom bomb on Pakistan but not before Pakistan's atom bomb goes off course and accidentally blows up Tibet. Richard Gere will be in Tibet at the time so it won't be a total loss.
Honorable Mention: London After Midnight will not win a Grammy.
What are your plans for Halloween? What do you have planned for New Year Eve? What kind of projects are you involved with at present and upcoming? Please feel free, to take this time to share anything you'd like to on a personal level.
V: The Sci Fi Channel is doing a simulcast of the Halloween parade from NY and they have commissioned a costume designer to create a Chi-Chian costume. So there will be some hot Asian model dragging a huge worm down sixth avenue. I don't think I want to miss that! No plans for New Year's as of yet. We're suppose to go to some crazy Caribbean island for a friend's wedding around Christmas so there is talk of staying down there for New Year's Eve.
New projects: Besides all of the wacky shit I've already mentioned, I have created a short film for the Cartoon Network's website (www.cartoonnetwork.com) called Vampires From Outer Space that is loosely based on Oh My Goth! That should be on line around Halloween.
On a personal note, I read every email I get. I try to respond to every single one. And I am not wearing pants right now.
Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview with you! I hope I haven't been too long winded! I hope to see you again soon!
It was a pleasure to have this opportunity, I'd like to thank Voltaire and Projekt Records. It was a privilege to dialogue with you once again, compadre. I appreciate the Candide(ness) of your responses. I wish you every success in the future, and hey, don't be a stranger...*
Credits used in this article:
1. Voltaire - Halloween 1999 in NY, picture by Kimberly for StarVox
2. Lisa from Projekt/Black Tape For a Blue Girl with Voltaire at C6 in Seattle 2000, by Blu for StarVox
3. Voltaire - courtesy of Voltaire's webpage
4. Chi-Chian - courtesy of Voltaire's webpage
5. Oh My Goth! Graphic Novel - courtesy of Voltaire's webpage
6. Oh My Goth! issue 2 - courtesy of Voltaire's webpage
7. The Devil's Bris CD Cover - courtesy of Voltaire's webpage
8. Almost Human CD Cover - courtesy of Projekt's webpage
9. Voltaire - courtesy of Voltaire's webpage
10. Voltaire as Master of Ceremonies on the gothic cruise, C6, by Blu for StarVox
11. Voltaire live in Concert at DragonCon 1999, by Blu for StarVox