Being an all girl band in the Gothic scene is not a completely unusual thing, but Seventh Harmonic are, in and of themselves, completely unique. A mix of Middle Eastern and Gothic influences, they have constantly and consistently evolved and recreated their music and sound, a never ending journey filled with exciting and enlightening changes.
We all sat down in a lovely wine bar in Camden earlier this year...the classical music in the background, the lovely deep couches lent itself completely to the sound the band creates and the depth of their talent and inteligence.
Seventh Harmonic have undergone several changes in members, most recently, Amandine left to persue opportunities outside of the UK. This has not deterred the ladies and their steadfast belief in music and in what they themselves create.
Jezebel: What is the main difference, with the cast changes, to the music of the band?
Eilish: There's a slightly more middle eastern sound sneaking in - there were elements of this before, but they are now becoming evident in the vocal lines.
Jezebel: You recently played Eurorock and there have been mixed reviews as to the experience of the musicians..what was yours?
Eilish: As musicians it was useful to reach a wider audience (althought the actual audience present was very small and consisted mainly of other band members!) Still, we met Frederick and Ulf from Swedish band Severe Illusion and joined them on stage to play at the end of the night which was great fun and very loud! Also, the Sideline people were very nice to us.
Caroline: All the bands bonded really well, mainly because we were all so outraged at the deal we'd been given! I think the pre-selections committee needs to seriously readdress their policy of making bands pay a large sum to to play (as well as for all their own transport and accommodation), then taking a hefty chunk from their merchandise...and then making them pay to attend the other day of the festival! Combined with the lack of audience, I would not recommend any band play the preselections. It irritates me that bands are supposed to accept a raw deal and not subsequently speak out because they are worried about how it will impact upon their career...but on a less cantankerous note, we managed to ponce way more beer out of the bar than our alloted 5 thimblefuls each... ;-)
Jezebel: Where do you think Seventh Harmonic falls in the gothic world? More ethereal? Or does it have its fingers in many different genres?
Eilish: Well, my Granny likes it and I don't think she'd have a clue about the different genres and sub-genres of the modern underground scene!! People with a wide variety of tastes seem to like it for different reasons and can usually relate to some part of it. I guess they would be better informed as to which category our music fits!
Caroline: I'm not interested in any pigeon holes, and I try, almost wilfully sometimes, to write material with different influences. People have different perceptions of 'gothic', 'ethereal' and other terms anyway...I would say our sound encompasses both these elements and many others, but never lingers in any one camp (except that of copious reverb...!)
Jezebel: There is a strong Middle Eastern influence in the music..that being ostensibly I would guess from Kate. What other influences strongly lay claim on the band and where do they comes from?
Caroline: The Eastern influence was around before Kate joined, but she has been a complete godsend as we have been able to develop that element, which I was very keen to explore, in a fuller and more 'real' way in the light of her musical background and knowledge. Other influences...well, I guess it's pretty obvious that Dead Can Dance are a huge influence on myself and Kate especially, and one of the reasons I admire them so much is because they embraced so many genres and styles. I listen to many things, but when I write the music I don't consciously try and incorporate anything or anyone - what comes out is as much a surprise to me as anyone else!
Jezebel:There also seems to be a strong spiritual side to the lyrics. Where does that come from?
Caroline: Well, we are performing lyrics written by five different people now... But all of us have 'spiritual' beliefs of some description. I believe a lot of people go looking for some kind of fulfilment outside themselves when what they need lies within.
Jezebel:There aren't many all woman bands to begin with especially in the genres and labels that can be applied to the band. Do you find it to be a positive or negative?
Eilish: DEFINITELY a positive thing ;) Great from the PR point of view(!),although we have come across a few sound engineers who take my natural blonde hair to be the yard stick by which our combined technical musical expertise is measured...people also think that there is a man lurking somewhere who is responsible for our backing track, but it is all Caroline's work. She also happens to be a top class drummer, hence the interesting driving rhythms driving the music. But, don't forget Paul who duets with Kate on occasion - as far as I know, he is a man!!
Caroline: I never consciously set out to start an all girl band - the embryonic formation of SH was actually myself with a male singer and male guitarist. I've rarely found the fact that we're all girls to be an issue, apart from the infuriating instance cited by Eilish above. Actually, it's great as the girls sure know how to shift CDs...I never ask how... ;-)
music has been used in a number of television shows and
documentaries. Tell us more about those. How, if at all, has the music been influenced by the project or has all the music previously existed prior to co-operation with the projects themselves?
Caroline: Well, a bit of both - we've been asked to allow 'Swansong' to be used on a forthcoming Anglia TV documentary about goth entitled 'Sex, Death And Eyeliner'...I also compose for film (on a very small scale right now, of course!) but as I compose such a large amount of music, I do tend on the whole to largely use pre-existing material as I've generally something that fits the bill for what I've been asked to do so far (no slapstick comedies yet, obviously...) Though Eilish is actually one up on me in that department as she played violin on 'Secrets of The Dead' recently!
Jezebel:Is soundtrack music, etc, something that you would like to get more into?
Caroline: Absolutely, it is my ultimate ambition.
Jezebel: What music influences the sound of Seventh Harmonic? I hear so much of The Changelings and even Rhea's Obsession..what bands would you compare yourself to.? What contemporaries?
Caroline: Well, it seems a bit egotistical to compare ourselves to the bands that influence us so I won't, but we all love Dead Can Dance, Faith And The Muse and Lycia. In this country, I can't really think of anyone who is treading a similar path stylistically - it is always a big problem to find appropriate bands to play with - so I don't really know if we have any contemporaries as such, but we have a great amount of respect and friendship with our fellow UK bands on the scene.
for Eilish -
Jezebel: How did you get such a various and diverse training background?
Eilish: I have always been interested in music and learnt to play quite a few instruments by ear (as a result of my family's irish background) and developed a passion for the piano (for which I had formal training form the age of 6) and then, later the violin (which I started to learn at 9)I studied it at Uni, but, thankfully was not put off! I learnt to transcribe and arrange by simply being the only person dumb enough to volunteer for various projects (I have a nasty habit of becoming wildly enthusiatic about something and then getting landed with having to do it!) and discovered that I could transcribe by ear from tapes, which is quite useful! I have written music for plays etc on commission and have several orchestral pieces trapped in my head, just dying for the moment when someone needs them to be written out. Personally, it is only more recently that I have considered my musical background to be quite diverse. Up until then I never really thought about it!
Jezebel:With so many difference experiences in music, what is the common thread between all of them that propels the sound that you yourself create?
Eilish: Anything I write could have been inspired from anything I've heard in the past. I particularly like strong sonorous harmonies of the mournful kind! I get a very strong sense of whether I feel it works or not and will try many ideas before I'm happy with the melody/harmony. Of course, other people may not agree...!
Jezebel: How does your Celtic background influence what you do today and what you create?
Eilish: Well, it influences my intense liking for Guinness! Like all of the other styles of music which have formed my musical background, the celtic style is apparent from time to time. There are some violin techniques that definitely give a more celtic sound and seem appropriate for more wistful, desolate pieces. Also, the celtic tradition of imrovising and playing by ear had certainly come in useful.
Jezebel:So, you have been teaching yourself on guitar and bass, when can we be honoured to hearing them being played live for us?
Eilish: ah, well, that's pretty unlikely unless it's VERY late at night and the alcohol has managed to convince me that I can play anything, whilst simultaneously convincing my ears that the sounds they are hearing are in fact perfect examples of what an acoustic/electric guitar/bass should be!I think the accuracy would be directly proportional to the amount of distortion required! It would be a true Beavis and Butthead moment, that's for sure!
for Caroline -
Jezebel:You mention that you like to travel, yet stay at home..how do those two things work together?
Caroline: I live in London where there are so many distractions, and it's easy to get swept away by them...as my time is so important to me, I choose to stay at home and compose and use the solitude to try and clear my mind. But as we all know, perspectives away from one's own environments and thoughts are so important, hence the travel. I hunger for new places and new people for fresh impressions which will bring me inspiration...everything that happens to me I try and quantify as something I can process and share through music, if that doesn't sound horribly pretentious.
Jezebel:Where have you travelled to and where do you dream of travelling?
Caroline: Like most people, I'm not as well travelled as I'd like to be! I've explored quite a lot of Europe, which is beautiful...but the trip that made the most impact on me was a month's visit to the natural parts of California (OK, so I partied in San Francisco as well!) Yosemite and Big Sur especially are incredible places, and I was so inspired I returned and formed Seventh Harmonic immediately - something, after years of playing drums/bass in other peoples' bands, I never dreamed I'd have the courage to do. As for where I'd like to go...well, everywhere except Belgium! Russia, Mexico, and Nepal/Tibet are quite high on my list of priorities right now...I'm hoping to go on a trip when we've finished the third album, which we're currently in the midst of recording, time permitting.
Jezebel: As one of the more driving force of the band in terms of being its main producer, how do you handle that responsibility and in some ways authority, yet still retain equality in the band?
Caroline: I don't think any of us have ever really looked at it that way - obviously I write the music and run the band in general, but everyone contributes what their time allows them to. The fact that the three of us have a very strong friendship (Eilish and I have known each other for over 10 years) means that everyone is very upfront about what they want; and as far as the music goes, we share a very similar vision anyway.
Jezebel: Do you prefer working at producing your own music or do you find relief in having others do so?
Caroline: Well, I have a clear vision about what I want sound wise which I'm 95% capable of achieving by myself, but others know all the technical minutiae of mastering that I've never had the time, inclination or equipment to go into! The perspective of another is really important, especially when you yourself have been working on a song you've literally heard hundreds of times, and the ideas of those we have so far worked with have really brought the songs into their own. For 'The Ascent' we really had time to work properly on production with John from Interlock (a band more unlike us you couldn't imagine) and his ideas and contributions to the album were absolutely stunning.
Jezebel: Tell me more about how the music is formed. What is the process that goes on in the creation?
Caroline: It's not really that complicated - when I've the house to myself I position myself in the sun (if there is any) and write something, usually every day if I can but not so recently as I've been working on our new album. The songs then get passed onto Kate and Eilish to do their parts over - as they have such demanding jobs this is currently the only way we can function, but I really want us to start writing altogether soon.
going back to the idea that you are one of the main producers of the Seventh
Harmonic sound and of course, use computers to do so..what do you think
of the computer influence in today's music? Do you feel that it somehow
interferes with imagination in music and leaves it somewhat soulless?
for Kate -
Jezebel: Why Egypt? What is the fascination with the country/culture and language?
Kate: Actually it wasn't really a matter of choice; I was studying Arabic in Leeds and you had to go and live there for a year as part of the course. Although come to think of it I do seem to recall changing my course from Music to Arabic when I found out about the year abroad! I've always been fascinated by ancient Egypt but having lived there and studied the language and culture, my interest has extended to its more recent history and that of the Middle East in general. I think a lot of people in the 'west' don't realise how much we owe to that whole region; culturally, scientifically and artistically. It's a place that draws you in...though I would advise against anything that involves camels.
Jezebel:What influences affect your vocal style?
Kate: I'm not sure what my vocal style is; is 'style' the right word? I don't consciously try to emulate anyone else; I think that would be a mistake, but obviously you can't avoid the influences of those singers you've listened to a lot. Strangely enough the singers I admire the most are male, but they all have what I would call 'distinctive' voices rather than conventionally 'good' ones. I always thought Ian McCuloough's voice was great (Echo and the Bunnymen) but I hope I don't sound at all like him! Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (late great Pakistani qawwali singer) did amazing things with his voice. I've listened to a lot of 'world' and 'folk' music, and people like Sheila Chandra, Natacha Atlas, Kate Rusby, Lisa Gerrard, Liz Fraser and Siouxsie probably also share the blame for some of the sounds I try to make. I've been having some lessons with an utterly brilliant gospel singer lately but don't worry, I'm not about to break into a rendition of 'Saving Grace' or anything.
Jezebel: How in earth did you find the dulcimer? Why choose that over more common and well-known percussion instruments? What other instruments do you play?
Kate: A friend of mine had one and I fell in love with the sound, so I had to get my own. There are several places where you can get dulcimers in this country; I got mine from Oakwood in Leeds. It's not quite as difficult to play as it may look, once you get your head round the tuning (it's remained pretty much unchanged since mediaeval times). It's great for building up these percussive, rhythmic figures, yet it's so resonant you can build layer upon layer of harmonies at the same time. You don't have to be amazingly good to get a lovely sound out of it; it plays itself, in fact it's the perfect instrument!
Jezebel: Of course we will need to go through the favorites:
Eilish: Practically all of the books I read have been recommended by friends. My friends are a diverse bunch, as are their tastes in literature so I end up with an equally broad range...a bit similar to my musical background!!
Caroline: I tend to read a lot of philosophical books that give me headaches, but 'In Search Of The Miraculous' by PD Ouspensky, all about Gurdjieff's Fourth Way system, just blew it straight off! I haven't read any fiction for years now, but when I did I found the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake the most incredible work, in every way...exquisitely rich language and imagery, I can't recommend it highly enough! I also loved 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho, a beautiful simple story about following your dreams.
Kate: 'Dune' by Frank Herbert.
Eilish: Love 'The Shining' cos it unnerves me every time I see it! Also 'Withnail and I' cos I have very fond memories of the people who introduced it to me many years ago. Ooooh, and I really like 'Amadeus'. The last good film I saw in the cinema was 'The Others' wonderfully eerie atmosphere supported by the sheer lack of soundtrack at times.
Caroline: I love anything unconventionally romantic ('Amelie', 'Wings Of Desire'); anything that grips me psychologically; or anything with an adorable talking pig ('Babe'). If I'm not walking out of a film streaming with tears of some description I want my money back! 'Clockwise' never diminishes in hilarity for me, no matter how many times I see it.
Jezebel: The favourite album on that deserted island?
Rachmaninoff predules including the op.3 c# minor one all of op.23 and
Nick Drake 'Way to Blue' compilation
My Dying Bride (any one - I have yet to hear one I don't like! - some top violin lines!)
I guess The Police's track 'message in a bottle' might bring hope on darker days!!!
Caroline: No contest - the first three Dead Can Dance albums! Also 'Les Marronniers' by Collection D'Arnell Andrea I might well throw items of clothing out of the suitcase to fit in.
A diverse trio of ladies. A diverse sound. Yet one thing binds them together, amazing talent and dedication ot the music they create.
They are also great to get a little tipsy with!!!
http://freespace.virgin.net/seventh.harmonic/ - website
with the UK's DJ Dave "Exile"
So you would think that finding a gothic rock club in London would be easy, wouldn’t you? I mean London is one of the birthplaces of the genre. Any given night should have a night where you can sit and here the great guitars and sounds of gothic rock.
No – it’s not that easy.
But after searching, asking the right questions, I found the right club and even more importantly, the right man. A DJ that believes in the gothic rock genre and not only tries to keep it going through clubs, but by giving the chance to new bands to become part of his setlist.
I was lucky enough to have Dave sit down over a few nights and answer some of my questions. I normally am not a Q&A kind of interviewer, I generally hate them. But this was so seamless that it made sense just to give you what Dave gave me. What strikes me about Dave is that unlike many DJs who do it for the glory, perhaps the recognition and maybe the girls, Dave does this for the love of the music and the people.
And so – the questions….
Jez: How long have you been djing and what initially got you into it? Is that reason still there to keep you going?
Dave: Not as long as people usually assume! Apart from being “the guy in charge of the music” at a few small, private parties, my first actual DJ experience was the first Exile, in October 1998. Basically all of the clubs I had enjoyed going to had either closed down or changed drastically. I was fed up with having nowhere to go out that I enjoyed, and also I was aware that even those clubs weren’t playing a lot of the music that I personally liked, and I felt that music should be better represented. A friend of mine, Simon, had the same sort of passion for industrial music that I did (and still do) for goth, and he had done some DJing before – pub nights, university radio, that sort of thing. So I approached him with the idea of the two of us putting on a joint goth/industrial night – originally as a one-off. We hired a venue, gave flyers to everyone we could think of, and the night came… and what a night it was! The place was packed and everyone seemed to have a great time, including us. So we did it again the following month… and it’s still running over 3 years later, despite the fact that Simon and I now both live over a hundred miles from Bath, and both have other commitments.
Jez: What were you like as a little kid? Were you the music guy who knew it all, every album, song, band members etc? Were you one of the freaking goth kids? One of the typical out of the mainstream kids?
Dave: Certainly my music taste was always a little bit different from that of my peers. I grew up on The Beatles, since as a kid all I had was my parents’ Beatles records and an old “box” record player that must have survived from the sixties – it was red and cream, and played 16s and 78s! The first “current” band that caught my attention was probably Adam & The Ants in around 1981, and from there I got into various types of post-punk and indie. Somewhere along the line I discovered The Cure, who are certainly the band that has influenced me most over the years, and were largely responsible for steering me in the direction of goth.
Jez: How do you perceive the scene has evolved over the last few years?
Dave: Certainly it’s changed greatly since the mid-to-late-90s. I think what’s happened in the UK is that the industrial and goth scenes have become closer than they ever were, and EBM appears to be dominating the club scene. Some of this has industrial elements, but much of it sounds to my ears very like 80s electro/pop with the addition of modern dance beats. The American scene (as perceived by an outsider!) seems slightly different – as well as the EBM stuff, some of the goth music here seems to be taking on what I would class as trip-hop elements – I’m thinking of bands like Hungry Lucy, Rhea’s Obsession or even the latest Shroud album.
Jez: Where do you think it is going?
Dave: Judging by the way things are in London, we can expect the music to take on (if possible) more and more mainstream elements, to focus more and more upon a “contemporary” sound and on filling dancefloors. This is highlighted by the way that even old-school industrial bands are starting to sound more and more dance-oriented – recent Project Pitchfork material being a prime example.
Despite this, I’m sure there will continue to be new bands in the punk-goth and goth-rock areas of the scene – Belisha are a particularly good example of a recent UK goth band. I also think there will always be some bands outside of that, who are prepared to simply follow their own direction – bands like Leisurehive and Womb in the UK, who are more art-school-experimental, or Descendants Of Cain who are moving away from their previous slightly Nephilim-like sound into more ethereal areas – some of their recent material in particular reminds me of This Mortal Coil or Dead Can Dance. However, whether such bands will continue to be associated with the goth scene is dubious. The goth scene for a long time provided a forum for some of the more experimental areas of music, but as the scene moves further and further away from its original principles (as I interpret them), this may no longer be the case. In that scenario, such bands may well do better by looking outside of the goth scene altogether for an audience.
Jez: What do you think of the advent and advance of techno (bleepy crap) into the gothic scene?
Dave: It’s no secret that I am strongly opposed to it! I think it has its place, but (in the UK) it is now dominating the goth scene to such an extent that music which is less accessible, less danceable, or sounds less “contemporary” is largely ignored. I’m of the opinion that if an unusual and creative band such as Bauhaus were to hit the scene tomorrow, it’s entirely possible that they would get precisely nowhere. The whole nature of the scene has changed, and not for the better in my personal opinion.
Jez: Do you think, as perhaps bubble gum metal was (i.e. Poison, Bon Jovi etc) in the 80’s, that it is a fad that will perhaps have its affect on traditional goth and slowly and inevitably fade away leaving just a few of the bands – hopefully the good ones?
Dave: Unfortunately I don’t. As I see it, the spirit that spawned and sustained the original UK goth subculture is largely absent these days – the passion and intensity simply doesn’t seem to be there. I have a theory that this is true of society in general, rather than just the goth scene, and that it may in part be due to social and political changes in the UK since the early 80s. These days everything seems to be geared towards marketing, style and image, and instant gratification, and I feel we’ve lost something important along the way…
Jez: Do you consider yourself a traditional goth? Hey – do you even consider yourself goth?
Dave: Hmm. For many years I fought against the label – to this day I still occasionally protest “I’m not a goth, I’m a Cure fan!”. I’ve never been very keen on some of the goth stereotypes – for example, I don’t have an obsession with low-budget horror, and I’m not into the fetish scene. However, I certainly do feel a strong affinity with some aspects of goth(ic) culture, and as I co-run one goth night and DJ at several others it would be difficult to seriously deny it these days, and in a sense I don’t want to. As the goth scene becomes further dissociated from the things I personally care about, in a sense saying “yes, I am a goth” at least means “my” side of goth culture is represented in a small way.
Jez: What do you think are the merits of goth, traditional and rock goth that captivates you? Why is seemingly your personal mission to keep it going in clubs, etc?
Dave: It varies from band to band. Some, like early Mission (UK) is just good, lively music (and in their case, there may be an element of nostalgia for me!), but the bands that mean most to me are those that manage to get passion and intensity or atmosphere into what they create. I love the Chameleons because of their passion, Fields of the Nephilim because of their atmosphere, Bauhaus because of their imagination. The best example I can think of is the “Pornography” album by The Cure, which combines emotive, imaginative lyrics with music that is both intense and atmospheric. It doesn’t seem to matter how often I hear it; it’s still a masterpiece!
Jez: Who do you think are the bands that are going to be successful in keeping traditional goth alive?
Dave: Well, there are undoubtedly some good young bands out there as I’ve already mentioned, but I think it will take more than the bands. The problem is that the scene as a whole is moving away from traditional goth music. In that sense, it doesn’t matter how good a band is if no-one wants to listen. Perhaps the bands most likely to succeed are those that might appeal to others outside the scene, especially the younger element. These days that may well mean changing the way they are perceived, since image seems to be everything these days!
Jez: Why do you think there was a hole a in the scene which enabled techno to get in there? What made that hole and how does one repair it?
I think there were many factors involved, and I’m not sure it’s possible
to give a simple answer! However, I’ll try.
One factor was probably the music outside of the goth scene. Whatever we might like to think, goth doesn’t exist in a vacuum – in a sense its isolation in recent years from other genres could well be part of the problem. In the early days, punk was the popular alternative music, and goth music originally grew from punk, with some later influence from the glam/new romantic scene. During the mid-80s, alternative rock and metal had to a degree taken over from punk, and so the goth-rock bands emerged. During the 90s, indie and rock became more diluted, and bands like the Pixies and Carter USM gave way to increasingly bland guitar bands to the point where in the UK the indie bands have virtually become easy-listening coffee-table music. I think that from the perspective of an alternative-minded young person, guitar-based music became increasing “uncool”. Techno was now seen as the alternative, with bands like The Prodigy combining commercial success with a degree of “shock value”. This had an effect in the goth scene, and much of the focus switched to the industrial side of things as guitar-based goth was going through something of a lean patch.
Another later factor may have been the element within the goth scene that is attracted to 80s synthpop and new romantic – as softer, moe accessible EBM developed from industrial, it seems to have taken on 80s pop influences, which perhaps explains why it appeals to certain elements within the goth scene.
All of these are obviously from a UK perspective – things may be very different in the US. Perhaps more importantly, they’re also from a personal perpective – I’m sure many people in the UK would disagree with me!
Jez: What is the live scene in London like?
Dave: I’ve lived in London for less than three years, but in that time I’ve seen the live scene decline dramatically, particularly since the demise of Nemesis Promotions. For a long time Michael Johnson (Uncle Nem) was one of the few promoters prepared to put on sizeable goth gigs – I’ve seen some great bands play Nemesis gigs at Camden Underworld! Now London is reduced to mainly small, pub gigs with the odd large gig from long-established acts such as The Mission (UK). As far as anything in between goes, it’s pretty much restricted to EBM and industrial bands.
Jez: What is the club scene like?
Dave: Very EBM dominated. As far as traditional goth music goes, London is in a pretty bad way, especially when compared with large cities in come other countries, notably Germany. In London we have Slimelight every Saturday, which does play some goth but is fairly EBM-focused; Malice every Tuesday where we aim to play mainly traditional goth music, although the genre breakdown varies considerably according to the clientele on any given night; and Tenebrae one Friday per month, which tends to be the “big” night for the trad crowd. There are also a few goth pub nights and several EBM/industrial club nights.
Jez: Why do you think there is a lack of cross-Atlantic sharing? I.e. American bands getting over here and UK bands getting over there…forgetting the problems with paperwork. Do you think, as Phildo does, that a band believes it has to make money in order to go on tour? As most bands who have become famous starved for a few years and most likely lost quite a bit of money even in the pop genre – do you think, if the “I am not touring if I don’t make money” attitude is justified considering the genre of music? Is this the stumbling block to cross over success/exposure?
Dave: Money is obviously a major issue. There’s no getting away from the fact that transatlantic flights are not cheap, especially when there’s equipment to be transported. Also, the fact that the “trad” element of the UK scene is now very small means that even the bigger American bands might well struggle to fill a medium-sized venue (say, 3-400 capacity) in a large city here. Within the goth scene, most musicians have day jobs, so taking a month off for a foreign tour is often not feasible even where the band is able and prepared to stand the financial loss (although the US perspective on this might well be different due to cultural variations).
This is compounded by the differences between the UK and US scenes. Many UK goths are quite rock- or punk-oriented and tend to think of American goth music as a bit too ethereal for them. Personally I like quite a lot of American stuff, but it’s not popular in the club scene, although things may be different in the live scene (such as it is). Certainly when Diva Destruction played in Birmingham quite recently they got a very good reception (from me, amongst others!)
Jez: Alrighty to those dj skills of yours – now how do you choose your set list? How do you incorporate the requests, especially those that you don’t like? How often do you cringe at the requests whether reading them, or heaven forbid, having to play them?
Dave: I see DJing in the UK goth scene as a fairly complex balancing act!
have to cater for several different factions, which often involves triyng
to second-guess what the crowd wants from appearance, what they’re already
dancing to, and reading between the lines on the request sheet.
You have to play enough well-known stuff to keep a reasonable dancefloor and ensure that people feel they’ve heard some of their favourites, but enough new or lesser-played stuff to keep things interesting for the regulars who don’t want to hear the same bands/tracks every week/month.
You have to make each track fit reasonably well with the preceding one, but always be working from one style to another to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
have to keep the crowd happy, whilst trying to work in the tracks you want
to play – particularly important if, like me, you want to support new stuff
that’s possibly heading in a different direction from the majority of the
On top of that, you have to try to work in specific requests. Like most DJs, I do make an effort to play requests where I consider them on-topic, and of sufficient quality. If there’s stuff I really wouldn’t be happy playing, I try to avoid owning it – examples would be 80s pop such as Soft Cell or Dead Or Alive, plus stuff like Marilyn Manson.
Jez: What does a new artist and or song have to have, in your opinion, to make it into your set list?
Dave: It can be one or more of a number of things. If I think the crowd will like it, and it’s reasonably on-topic, that will do. Sometimes it just has to be something that affects me personally – I try to play what I consider to be good music, even if I don’t feel that the majority of the people in the club would agree – I became a DJ as much to support and promote the music I value as to give people a good time.
Jez: Do you think that djs have a responsibility within the community (gothic or otherwise) to further artists, new artists, or is it their job to play what the people like? Explain the fine line that I would think needs to be tread there.
Dave: I’ve sort of covered this in my previous answer. Personally, supporting the music I like is a big part of my reason for DJing, but some other DJs are happy to just play what people want – sometimes on “party” occasions I DJ more that way myself. I certainly wouldn’t criticise DJs who take that approach – it can be a hard enough job as it is without making it harder for yourself, as pushing new stuff tends to do.
Jez: What keeps you going?
Dave: Stubbornness, mainly, I think!
That and feeling that I’m doing something worthwhile by introducing people to some good music they might otherwise not have heard, and even making a small difference to the careers of bands whose work I appreciate. DJing and running clubs can be hard work, and can sometimes be a fairly stressful and rewarding experience, but when you fill a dancefloor with a brand new track that you think is great, and someone comes up to the DJ box afterwards and says “that was fantastic – what was it?”, it can also be very satisfying. If I feel I’ve DJed really well, played lots of great music and given people a good night out in the process, I go home happy.
Jez: What is in your CD player as you answer this?
Dave: When I started it was a Chameleons gig from about ’83 in Berlin, but now an Avaritia promo has just finished and I’m just about to listen again to a brand new (and rather excellent) Belisha track, and work out how best to fit it into a setlist… when playing unknown stuff, the choice of preceding tracks is all-important. You see – always working!
Jez: Red or white wine?
Dave: At last, an easy question!
Red, every time – as I type I’m enjoying a rather nice Shiraz.
Jez: Are the hours that you have to keep intrusive to having a “normal” life?
Dave: Very much so, especially with a day job. Getting home at 4am on Tuesday nights is the worst – my sleep patterns are terrible!
Jez: Does being friends with so many of the bands in the UK, especially London, goth scene have an affect on you?
Dave: Not really, once I got used to it. I’ve never really felt in awe of any of them – most of them have turned out to be very nice, down-to-earth people. I tend to steer clear of anyone I suspect of having a real ego problem!
And that is one thing that you cannot accuse Dave of….having an ego problem. And that is one of the reasons that he and his club nites are so popular in London and Bath.
Dave is one of the innovators of the scene in truly a unique way, holding tight to the traditions and origins of gothic yet scanning and searching for new bands to push the genre further and the UK is lucky to have him….and no…US….you can’t have him….he’s all ours.
~interview by Stephanie Quinlan
"We've always said that when we do a new Chaos Engine album, it has to be one bigger in every direction than the one that went before, and I think we've really achieved that this time. We didn't get the string section in that I was hoping for, and that's my only regret regarding this album."
I'm almost certain that Lee Chaos is joking as his voice crackles down the phone line from Cheltenham, UK. The famously aggro Chaos Engine with a string section? The band have just finished recording their latest album, Escape Ferocity, and as per usual, Lee Chaos is taking great pleasure in confounding expectations.
"There are tracks on there that come across like prog-metal nightmares, there are ones that are virtually instrumental, as well as huge ambient pieces." Lee continues, furthering my confusion. " There are actually 23 tracks on the album, some of which last for under 9 seconds and some of which are these big pieces that fall apart at the end."
Formed in 1994 amidst a haze of machinery, drunken revelry and multi coloured mohicans, The Chaos Engine are a music writer's nightmare. They lurch wildly all over the musical landscape, assimilating everything from 80's pop to punk, metal and techno into a startlingly cohesive musical concoction. Spearheaded by the infamous and charismatic Lee Chaos, lyricist, vocalist and all around mastermind, the band's first release was the 1994 EP "Conspiracy". It was followed by a dizzying array of EP's, demos, cassettes and bootlegs, culminating in 2000's More Songs About Sex And Angels, as the band embarked on a campaign of persuasion through sonic assault.
"When I met Huw (guitarist, percussion) he was Djing in a club, and even before he could play guitar I said 'I want you in the band because you've got the right frame of reference'." Lee reminisces. "We have two new members of the band, Rawbin 99 (guitarist) and Vere Kevorkian (bassist) who have taken the sound in a completely different direction as well, being into both hard EBM stuff and American glam metal. There's a real mish-mash of styles in the band. This album has really shown a diversity of sound that allows the other guys in the band to have more control over what their instrument is doing."
"It's an extension of what we were doing before, but it's more aggressive, and yet more pop. There are more pop hooks. We've actually managed to capture some of the aggression of the live show."
Chaos Engine live shows are already notorious in the UK, where they've played at the legendary Whitby Gothic Weekend and performed with a variety of well-known acts, including Projekt Pitchfork, Rosetta Stone, Attrition, Das Ich and The Horatii.
The Chaos Engine are booked to play Convergence VIII, the annual net.goth festival that is taking place in Montreal from May 31 - June 2. Their performance there will be North American audiences' first glimpse of the oft-mentioned intensity of the band's gigs.
"It's getting a little bit out of hand at the moment." Lee says somewhat ruefully. "The last few gigs we did were in Reading and Cambridge in the UK, and at the latter show, I don't actually remember a great deal of being onstage. The intensity just completely blanked it all out and it was a very full-on show. After that show, people were afraid to speak to me. It's good because everything that goes wrong gets bottled up, and I tell myself that the next time I'm onstage, it's all coming out. The band now is feeding on that as well. We've got three other guys onstage who are equally intense and intimidating. It's really quite a frightening unit we've put together."
If those frustrations couldn't come out onstage, what would be the result? Lee's answer is quietly intense, as though this is something he's thought about often.
"If I didn't have this outlet, I would probably be in prison. I genuinely think I would have done something very scary by now. I can't imagine myself any other way than having that outlet."
Another one of his outlets is Wasp Factory Records, the maverick label that he formed to release Chaos Engine material, and which is now home to a motley assortment of bands whose sole unifying factor is their incompatibility with the mainstream. Lee describes the label as an openly collaborative environment.
"Because I made all the contacts while setting up the label for The Chaos Engine, signing other bands just seemed like a natural progression. I try to make it as ethical as possible. We're quite generous with the way we run our contracts. We don't restrict people from working with other artists. Our thought is that people can use us as a springboard to going out and dominating the world."
Much in the vein of labels like 4AD, Mute and Creation, Wasp Factory Records artists share an intangible quality that even Lee, as the label founder, can't quite put his finger on.
"Every time we try to define the Wasp Factory sound, there's always a band left over that isn't defined by that, so we don't define it anymore. We just know what makes a Wasp Factory artist. Fundamentally, I think the thing that makes Wasp Factory work is that we all still believe in the power of the songs."
Keith Richards once said that music is like sex, air and food. Some people need it to stay alive. At the risk of sounding cliched, I ask Lee to define the myriad roles that music plays in his life.
"It's like an addiction." he replies. "It allows me to bring together all the creative elements I enjoy in everyday life. For me as well, it's part of my whole ethos. I really feel the benefit of helping artists whose work I appreciate and Wasp Factory allows me to do that to a large degree. It's part of being a Good Samaritan for a whole bunch of outcasts, freaks and misfits. I want to be one of the good guys."
One of the ways in which this desire manifests itself is in the Chaos Party, which Lee uses as an means to express his frustration with the lack of support in the UK for young artists. For the past three years, he has run for Cheltenham City Council, not so much out of a desire to win a seat, but more to jolt the existing council members into action.
"It's a way for me to vent my annoyance at the middle class attitudes of the country and the way the youth are treated at the moment." he explains. "In 1998 Cheltenham had a really good music venue that was partially owned by the council, and for reasons I won't go into, they closed it down and promised that they'd reopen it somewhere else, which never happened. I think they thought that by shutting down the local music venue, it would make all the kids go back indoors and behave themselves, and there wouldn't be any nasty punk kids running around. The Chaos Party was my way of saying that there are youth here and they need to be represented and we're not going to go away until you do something about it. Every year, when the local elections come up, I use it as a way of banging on about the fact that there's nowhere for bands to play locally. One of the things I've been very passionate about is keeping the local scene going."
Lee's signature files reads "If you're not part of the chaos, you're part of the order", and he recognizes that the cathartic benefit he receives from the chaotic intensity of performing is shared by his audience.
"People do need somewhere they can watch punk gigs and fling themselves around, and stuffy old councilor's might say 'oh, aren't the children being violent?' whereas I think that having this outlet makes them better people." he exclaims heatedly.
The Chaos Engine are looking forward to initiating the masses at Convergence VIII, where they will be performing with electro-pop labelmates Swarf.
"We plan to do the gig and then unwind in a spectacular style. I'm really looking forward to Convergence in that respect."
Even down the transatlantic phone line, I can hear his evil grin.
See them at C8: www.altgothic.com/c8montreal
~by Stephanie Quinlan
We're all in the same room at last. I'm huddled in one corner, my tape recorder clutched to my chest. They're sprawled, at their ease, all over the remainder of the room. Occassionally, one of them turns to me with a wolfish grin, and my heart skips a beat. I'm about to interview Capt. Matt's Armada Featuring Axel (Where Trevor Writes All the Songs and Does All the Work).
In my many years as a goth, I've thrilled to the cheekboned elegance of Peter Murphy, swooned to Uncle Andy's stentorian drone, and waited in vain for the reunion of Alien Sex Fiend, but nothing compares to the reality of interviewing one of the most infamous goth bands ever.
The years have taken their toll once this rakishly dashing group, and no wonder, for their excesses were the stuff of legend. The Mighty Sex God Axel, the famously charming and egotistical bassist, is still a depraved hedonist, while Trevor Furious, the chronically underappreciated guitarist, holds true to his self-proclaimed role as the band's true visionary. Capt. Matt is as smarmy and lecherous as ever, in true lead singer fashion. Together, this unlikeliest of alliances forms a legend.
Formed sometime in the early 80's, Capt. Matt's Armada Featuring Axel (that's what they were originally called until they had to alter their name to soothe Trevor's wounded ego) came together under a series of circumstances that can only be described as miraculous. While in Perth, Matt rescued Axel, who was languishing in white slavery aboard a Canadian naval vessel. Comrades in arms from then on, they were wandering the bars one drunken night when they ran into Trevor, writing dark and moody songs. He complained to them that everyone kept stealing his songs - "especially that short purple guy with the platform shoes!" Recognizing him as a kindred spirit, Matt and Axel immediately offered to help Trevor perform his songs. As one, they broke into the nearest music store, stole all the instruments they needed, and thus "Gland Ho!", their landmark debut single, was born.
The unstoppable trio released two albums, Johnny Voodoo Bones Syphilitic Monkeys and Live!, the much-coveted album where they broke up live onstage and marched off in separate directions, leaving their audience to listen to 55 minutes of speaker hum. After an extended absence, CMAFA are back with a new album called In Search of Elvis.
So why come back now?
Axel stretches and reaches for another beer.
"It was fan response that brought us back" he says sincerely. "Well that, and the fact that I ran into this guy in Bangkok, an Aussie bloke name of David Gerald. I was pimping transsexuals at the time, and he was keen to get his hands on one. Well anyway, he told us all about this computer news thingy called alt.gothic where people were still singing our praises. I wandered on in, and then this bloke called Bob invited me onto his radio show with an Irish chickie named Saigon who's throwing a festie called Convenience 8 in Montreal. Trevor, daft cunt that he is, called in ranting and raving. Apparently he'd been stuck in Nunavut for all those years."
"And all because of a trumped-up shoplifting charge!" interjects Trevor indignantly.
"I always had visions of world domination, and when I heard Axel on that show, I thought 'Oh god, it's twatty!'. I called in to set things straight and to tell him to fuck off."
Initial animosity aside, the band soon realized the marketing potential of a reunion, and decided to capture the glory that should always have been theirs, but was tragically lost in a haze of sex, drugs and alcohol.
"Being a rock star is a fucking tough life", proclaims Axel, "but we do it for the music, the kids, the charity and the sexy death chicks."
Matt, meanwhile, had been working as a lounge singer/comic book clerk in Japan, and was a faithful reader of Tentacle, which featured Axel's self-described "tasteful arty haiku about tentacle rape." The Mother Goth Brain was working overtime, and it was only a matter of time before Matt caught wind of the impending reunion. Unbeknownst to him, and indeed, to the rest of the band, their mysterious fourth member was about to resurface. The Armada, you see, ended up being the nickname of the band's drum machines, all stolen by Matt from various rock luminaries, most notoriously Uncle Andy, which is reportedly how he ended up in debt, hating goths and being a miserable git. It probably didn't help that Matt beat up Uncle Andy after stealing Doktor Avalanche, just for good measure.
It was not always thus, however. Back in the halcyon days, Insatiabelle Isabelle was the band's drummer, a tiny manic dark-haired dervish flailing madly away behind her drum kit. Too drunk to know a good thing when they saw, Trevor, Matt and Axel accidentally left her behind in Des Moines, Iowa, after a particularly rough gig involving a bar brawl and headless toucans.
Stranded in the American mid-west with no money or ID, Isabelle was forced to support herself through unconventional means, while the band, instead of replacing her, stole one drum machine after another.
"I was supporting myself by selling my underwear" interjects Isabelle, suddenly emerging from the closet where she'd hidden herself in silent disapproval of her bandmates' antics. "Matt stumbled across them in a vending machine in one of seedier parts of Tokyo, and he tracked me down and begged me to return."
Matts snorts contemptuously at this, but Isabelle ignores him imperiously.
"I am the glue that holds this band together." she declares, claiming that it was her galvanizing influence that was the true driving force behind the reunion. "I could have guided them to greatness if only they hadn't lost me almost as soon as I started playing with them."
Axel, clearly growing impatient that attention is being diverted away from him, takes an energetic swig from his beer.
"So anyway!" he bellows. "The first thing we did once we reformed was to go to Germany, track down Uncle Andy and beat him up again cause the last thing the world needs is more bad German techno made by washed-up goths. We're the true future of goth."
Desperately trying to gain some control over the interview, I ask the band what their influences are.
"Speed" says Axel. "And Elvis Presley, always Elvis. Very early Genesis. Test Dept. Einsturzende Neubauten. Hey, did you know that Jah Wobble learned everything he knows from me?"
"Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins" adds Trevor."We're moving into a progabilly sound these days."
"Inuit throat music." Matt says this with a straight face. "I'm all about Inuit throat music. And Iggy Pop. He taught us how to masturbate onstage."
Isabelle sits in haughty silence. It's the quiet ones you have to watch.
Rumours are rampant that Capt. Matt's Armada will be very special guest stars at Convergence 8, the annual net.goth festival being held in Montreal from May 31-June 2, 2002. Maddeningly, none of the band members will confirm or deny this, but I spy a French language phrase book in a corner of the room, as well as some empty bottles of Fin du Monde rocking back and forth in the breeze.
Dare I ask about the inflatable riding penis? The exploding toucans? The infamous Attack of the Snapping Turtles gig, where Axel set several snapping turtles loose into the audience and then snapped pictures of hysterical audience members with turtles hanging off their noses?
No, I have something better in mind.
Night is falling, and the band is looking restless. Axel and Matt are primping in front of the mirror, bragging about all the "hot birds" they're going to pick up, while Trevor glares at them sullenly, muttering under his breath. Isabelle has vanished as suddenly as she appeared.
"One last question then", I say brightly.
Any truth to the rumour that Capt. Matt's Armada Featuring Axel were involved in the untimely demise of Cramps' guitarist Bryan Gregory?
As one, their heads whip around. Three burning pairs of eyes are focused on me, and every hair on my body is standing on end.
"Um..I mean..I'm not saying, or anything", I stammer. "I just heard, you know.."
"What bollocks is this?!? What the bloody hell are you suggesting??"
Axel's face is inches from mine, looking like a snake about to strike. Matt and Trevor are right behind him.
This is my cue to get the hell out. I grab my tape recorder and dash for the door, bobbing and weaving away from their clutching hands as a volley of curses rains down upon me.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Capt. Matt's Armada Featuring Axel (Where Trevor Writes All The Songs and Does All The Work) are back with a vengeance.
help us, everyone.
~Interview by Stephanie Quinlan
Did you know that if you get up early on a Saturday morning, there's this weird stuff outside called daylight? The cats eye me curiously as I make my way to the phone to call Liz Green, vocalist for Swarf, the electro-pop wonders from Brighton, UK.
It's midday in the UK, and Liz sounds impossibly bouncy and cheerful as she greets me. So how long have Swarf been together then?
"We've not been together that long. In 1999, Andy Stock (programming, live synth and sequencing) and I thought it would be nice to do something together. Chris Kiefer (more programming, live squelches and rushes) joined the band proper in 2000, and we played our first gig at Camden Underworld. We spent about a year before that, me and Andrew, listening to songs to figure out what made them good and why, and taking time to figure out what kind of music we wanted to make."
Liz and Andrew are the resident DJs at Low Life, Brighton's longest running alternative club. I was curious as to what impact their years of Djing has had on the way in which they create music.
"We write very much with the club in mind, with what we know will get the crowd up. As a DJ, you tend to recognize that, and it definitely helps." says Liz emphatically.
"We make our music in line with what we like, and we're not really trad goths at all, to the point where guitars are banned. We've been asked if there will ever be guitars in Swarf, and the answer is categorically no. Absolutely not. Everything is 100% electronic and that's how we want to keep it."
No guitars? That's almost enough to make a trad goth like myself flee in terror, but Swarf are not slaves to the beat, but seducers of it. Liz's rich voice, which reminds me of Annie's Lennox's sultry stylings, slides in and out of the synthesized rhythms with ease. Swarf's first and thus far only EP, Fall, was released last year to very positive reviews, and rumour has it that a full length album is in the works.
"We have ten new songs written for the upcoming album." Liz confirms. "It will be very different from Fall, I warn you. Fall was done on very old equipment. The new album is going to be a bit down the middle between being quite ethereal and quite banging on the other end, and we haven't decided which way to go. The album's going to have storming dancefloor tracks on it, and then the next song will all these nice harmonies and things, so it's going to be quite a mish-mash of stuff."
A brief discussion of her main musical influences reveals that Liz is a Leonard Cohen fan. I mention that he's from Montreal and next thing I know, we're comparing notes on what we might say if, at Convergence 8, we happen to wander into a lonely cafe at 3 AM and find Leonard Cohen sitting there. Open mouthed speechlessness seems to be the consensus.
Convergence 8, the net.goth festival taking place in Montreal from May 31-June 2, 2002, will be Swarf's first North American performance along with their Wasp Factory labelmates The Chaos Engine. By all accounts, Liz is an energetic performer, and resilient as well, considering the position she found herself in during a recent performance.
"Did you hear what happened at ElectroFest? Oh my god, it was every band's nightmare!" she gasps, managing to sound dismayed and very pleased at the same time. "We were on quite early, but we had a massive crowd, and it was a really nice atmosphere. I just charged on, the sound was brilliant, and I was going a bit mad, just running around onstage and having a lovely time. It was just before the last song and Chris says to me 'There's a problem'. You see, we don't use DAT tapes or backing tapes. It's all live, and his laptop crashed, and there was nothing we could do except wait for it to reboot. The audience is standing there waiting to be entertained, and I thought 'Oh God, what do I do?'. I told the only joke I know, I heckled the audience a bit, told a few more jokes. It took about 5 minutes to reboot, and in the meantime, I'm being a comedian! It lifted the atmosphere because it's not the sort of thing that happens every day, and when the final song came on, it was absolutely electric. For the rest of the night, I had all these punters coming up to me telling me jokes in case it happened again!"
Lee Chaos of Wasp Factory Records obviously liked what he saw, because he offered to sign Swarf after seeing their debut performance at Camden Underworld in London. Liz recalls that they all crept onstage "like terrified little bunnies", and the next day, not quite believing that they'd just been offered a recording contract, they emailed Lee "to be sure that he actually wanted us."
"I think Wasp Factory is unlike any record label you will ever see," Liz says thoughtfully. " Most of us are orphans, or don't have much family, and from my point of view, I've now got this extended family. I'm just amazed by it. All the bands get on well together, and Lee just presides over us, very proud of what he's done.
"He gets this grin full of pride whenever anything goes right, and his chest puffs out like a robin. Think of a bird in winter."
See them at C8: www.altgothic.com/c8montreal
--- BEGIN FORWARDED MESSAGE ------
There are two stories behind CMAFA.
Captain Matt's Armada featuring Axel (where Trevor writes all the songs and does all the work) introducing Insatiabelle aka CMAfA (wTwatsadatw) iI aka CMAfa w/Twats In (for short)
The band are:
Captain Matt, singer.
Axel, bass guitar.
Trevor, lead guitar (writes all the songs, does all the work but gets none of the recognition).
Insatiabelle was the drummer prior to 1985, and then disappeared until 2002.
Most of the story has now been revealed on alt.gothic through the posts of the various band members, and their long-standing fans J Captain Matt's Armada featuring Axel was formed 'back in the day' <some point in the early '80's - the protagonists aren't too sure of the detail as a consequence of excessive substance abuse>.
While in Perth, Matt rescued
Axel, who was languishing in white slavery aboard an Icelandic Pirate Whaler.
They were wandering the bars one drunken night when they ran into
Trevor writing dark and moody songs. He complained to them that everyone
kept stealing his songs. Recognizing him as a kindred spirit, Matt and
that Trevor would have more luck if he actually performed his songs. As one, they broke into the nearest music store, stole all the instruments they needed, and thus "Gland Ho!", their landmark debut single, was born.
Insatiabelle was the bands drummer, but nobody really knows how that happened (but she sings on Gland Ho!, so she must have been there).
The band toured heavily, for a number of reasons. Primarily, tho' because it allowed them to run away from their bar tabs.
It was on one of their early tours that Insatiabelle 'left' the band. After a particularly rowdy gig in Des Moines, Iowa the band fled, but accidentally left Insatiabelle behind (Captain Matt's fault). They noticed when they arrived in Chicago, with a gig that night, but no drummer.
Fortunately, the Sisters of Mercy had just played, and the Captain had always loathed Andy E. So he beat him up and stole Doktor Avalanche (painting a big skull & crossbones on the side to disguise it). Unfortunately, they had to run off after that gig, leaving the good ship 'Insatiabelle' behind.
This set a pattern, and as a result Andrew Eldritch owes his record company a lot of money (which is why he is such a skinflint) and hates Goths ('cos he identifies them with CMAfA).
Captain Matt's Armada featuring
Axel recorded 2 albums - '
Captain Matt's Armada featuring Axel Says Johnny Voodoo Bones Syphilitic Monkeys' and Captain Matt's Armada featuring Axel Live (pronounced 'liv)
They broke up while recording 'CMAfA Live' on December 19th 1995. The album runs as follows: Applause. 30 seconds of song. Trevor stops playing & starts complaining about how he's fed up with never getting any of the glory even tho' he does everything. Big argument breaks out. We storm off stage. 65 minutes of speaker hum.
CMAfA's greatest hits were "Gland Ho!" and "Quit Your Bitchin'" (especially "Gland Ho!").
After the band broke up, Axel moved to Bangkok to write Hentai Haiku and pimp transexuals, Matt became Big in Japan as a lounge singer, and Trevor was unable to leave Canada because of shoplifting charges, so he retreated to Inuktituk.
They played all over the world, but due to bad timing, hopeless naiveté and sinister conspiracies, They never got any recognition, which is why they only have a cult following.
They've played _everywhere_ over the course of their career. N.Am., England, Europe, the Middle East (the infamous 'Jihad' tour, where Peter Murphy supported them and found Islam), Australia & NZ, and indeed everywhere else, except (possibly) Antarctica.
They did a tour of SE Asia called 'Holiday in Cambodia'. They did it 'cos they were so fucked up on drugs & booze & shit that they took the DK's exhortation seriously.
It was after that that they decided that they needed to straighten out, to _struggle_ against their inner demons as it were. So, they decided to make things easier by touring places where drugs were relatively inaccessible.
So they went to the Middle East (from Istanbul to Islamabad, from Medina to Marrakesh, from Adan to Al Basra and every major city in between).
They were known for their kickass stage shows (including exploding toucans and Axel's Giant Psychedelic Riding Penis among other things).
After hearing about the popularity
of the band on a.g. (from a passing David Gerard), Axel started posting
to a.g., and was invited by Macross to appear on his show
the same week that Siobhan had come down to be interviewed about C8. By some freak, Trevor heard the show, called in, argued profusely with Axel, and when Siobhan offered sex & drugs, they agreed to put aside their long standing hatred of each other to reform. Axel finished the interview with a cry of "See you all at Convenience 8".
Captain Matt's father got in touch with the band shortly afterwards (the Captain's band had broken up, and he was stuck in Tokyo, with no money, no work permit, and a severe foot fetish to support) and asked if they would let him back in the too (captain Matt that is, not his father). Realising that their voices were both too damaged by smokefor them to be able to sing, Axel and Trevor reluctantly agreed.
The biggest surprise tho' was when Insatiabelle showed up.After years spent earning enough to pay off the bands bar tab in Des Moines, she had been searching for them, without any luck, but now thanks to their new found presence on the Internet she was able to track them down.
How could they refuse (she could sue their arses of for one thing, if they tried)?
So, now CMAfA have reformed, and as a compromise to the ego's that make up the band they are now known as "Captain Matt's Armada featuring Axel (where Trevor writes all the songs and does all the work) introducing Insatiabelle".
The alternate (a.k.a. real) version runs something like this, as told by Axel:
Siobhan & Casper are having difficulty finding decent Canuck Goth bands that don't suck to play at C8
One Saturday night in October, hanging out at my place drinking more booze, after the bars had closed, Trevor & I were drunk and got talking about music.
A gothabilly band was hatched. Matthew Ardill was invited to join 'cos he was also there.
Casper & Siobhan (who were also there) promised us that we could open C8 if we could get an act together (assuming, that as with all drunken ideas it would fade with the hangover).
I had never played a musical instrument before. Trevor had played bass several years ago. Matt had never sung.
So, we learned.
Isabelle, Trevor's girlfriend, offered to play drums for us until we got a permanent drummer (she was planning to go to the south pacific in early 2002) or a drum machine. Instead she got addicted to this being in the band and stayed.
The CMAfA idea was cooked up as a way to generate an interest within the Net.Goth community, especially alt.gothic so that by the time we played C8 a decent chunk of the audience would actually want to see us.
Our first performance was in my kitchen on New Years Eve, in front of about 40 people, and Sio & Casper agreed that we sucked so surprisingly little for a band that had been playing together for less than two months that we were booked for C8.
Since then we've developed in leaps and bounds (to the amazement of Casper in particular, who was expecting us to sound so bad that he would get lynched by the crowd).
Addendum by Siobhan:
Having CMAFA play at Convergence was one of those hair-brained schemes that we honestly never thought would go anywhere.
Once we realized that they were actually serious about it -- to the point of working their asses off to get themselves to a point of musical competance on stage -- it started to genuinely appeal to us. This is the exact kind of thing that Convergence is supposed to be all about. Something invented by a.g people *for* a.g people -- and with the whole newsgroup in on the joke.
And watching the meme spread has itself been part of the fun.
Montreal will never know
what hit them.
Hail Eris... ...All Hail Discordia