Once again time snuck up
on me and I've seen several bands lately and haven't had time to do individual
write-ups, so here, for a second installment, is a review of shows that
have passed through Seattle lately and deserve mentioning.
Oct 31st, 2001
@ The Catwalk - Seattle, Wa
The Deep Eynde stopped in Seattle on a mini-tour of the Northwest and by luck, their schedule made them available on Halloween night. I can't think of a more appropriate band I'd want to spend that particular night with as I had long been a fan and envied those in NY last year who got to see them perform at CBGB's for the Skully Record's party (see pictures of this event here). The band, led by theatrical frontman, Fate Fatal has a reputation for putting on a high energy show and they did not disappoint.
Despite there being numerous activities going on through out the city that night, a good group of costume-clad eager fans made the trip downtown and were greeted with Halloween decorations and free promo materials including issues of SideLine Magazine.
By the time The Deep Eynde took the stage I had lost track of Fate and hardly recognized him when he grabbed the microphone clad in an impressive skeletal costume. The Fly had become an un-dead version of Elvis, their bass player was a Motorhead look-a-like and Hal-Satan seems to have gotten into a nasty, bloody accident - along with his drum kit. The band certainly spared no expense in plunging head long into the holiday. Their set list consisted of songs from their most recent EP - Suicide Drive along with a cover of the Misfit's "Halloween."
I'd have to say this was one of the best performances I've seen this year in terms of energy, musicianship and over all entertainment. The music was catchy, danceable and Fate can sing like no other showman live - his voice a smooth blend of gothic, deathrock, psychobilly, punk and cabaret. I don't think he stopped moving once and my friends and I marveled at what great aerobic shape he had to be in to keep that pace up.
The Deep Eynde -- they've
been around for ages, a legend in their own right and a band that I don't
think gets the recognition it deserves yet. Baby bats could learn alot
from them. If they come to your town, see them. You won't be disappointed.
Here's to the old guard - no one does it quite like that anymore!
(see more pictures of this concert by clicking here).
@ the Catwalk & The Breakroom
Fall - 2001
I've seen the Spectres perform three times now and every time I come away even more impressed with this humble Seattle band. I've seen my share of psychobilly (gothabilly, rockabilly, whatever-abilly) bands and I have to tell you, the Spectres posses a element of professional competence that I havent seen in many others. The psychobilly scene, like many other musical scenes, can be a victim of fads and trends and some people venture out into it thinking that if they wear the right clothes, use the right gimmicks and learn the basic chords, they can call themselves a band. I've seen lots of mediocre and just plain badly boring bands. Its not hard to tell the difference from the wannabes and the folks who's heart and soul are in it.
The Spectres are the real
deal. Its in their blood - its not a trend or something they thought they'd
do just to look cool. When you watch them play you know its something they're
driven to do. Infact, they dont even let themselves latch onto a specific
label, instead describing themselves as "Prime-Evil Gut Bucket Rock n Roll
for Drag Strip Demons and Nitro Junkies". Impressed yet? You should be.
Each member of this trio pulls their own weight and them some with JR wailing
away on the drums, Austin plunking out the bass lines on an upright bass,
and Jesse James pulling double duty on guitar and vocals. I dare you to
find a band more dynamic in sound than this. They'll go from all out righteous
ragings complete with insane drums breaks, bass solos and slicing guitar
riffs in songs like "Hellbent" to smoothed down, dirty, greasy jazzed
lounge like in "Voodoo Doll" to laid back, hilarious country in "Blood
Suckin' Cowboy" before you can even bat an eye (see our CD review here).
The musicianship of this band is so good (on CD AND live) that they
make it seem almost way too easy.
(see more concert photos here).
November 16, 2001
@ The Breakroom - Seattle, Wa
If you're into Psychobilly
at all, no doubt you've heard of Mr Badwrench before. I first became familiar
with them on the Skully Records comps (they've been on all three) and have
long held a special place in my heart for songs like "Gasoline" (see our
here). It seems
nearly every band in this genre has something good to say about these guys
so I was more than thrilled to have the opportunity to see them play here
in Seattle. Having had a few email exchanges with lead man Buster Kretin
as well as having heard his big, gravel-filled vocals on their CD, I was
surprised to see him in person - laid back, talking to fans and friends
and pretty reserved. On stage it was a different story though. Definitely
a man with a knack for showmanship, from the first note to the last he
was rebellion personified - climbing amp stacks and monitors and strutting
back and forth on the stage possessed. I was delighted to see that several
fans in the audience knew the songs by heart as they sang along to "Drop
Dead Beat" and "Bad Ass Dad" and audience members who weren't familiar
with their songs came alive when they performed a cover of Billy Idol's
"Rebel Yell". My only complaint that night was the volume on Buster's
mic - he was sometimes drowned out by backing vocals or by the instruments
and I was straining to hear that resonating rumble that comes across so
well on CD. Regardless, the fans must have felt it -- as witnessed by the
sometimes over enthused moshers that sprung forth on the floor inspired
by the aggression in the music. Most definitely a band to catch live if
given the opportunity - bring a good pair of boots, some grease for your
hair and watch your back side for spontaneous pitt eruptions.
(apologies to the band for not having a camera that night - finding out your batteries are dead once you get the venue kind of sucks...)
@ Battle of the Bands (Everett, Wa) & The Vogue (Seattle, Wa)
The first time I saw the Sins live was at a Battle of the Bands final in Everett, Wa. I was so preoccupied by the obnoxious hordes of Limp-Korn-wannabe's that I really didn't enjoy the show nor did I feel like braving the crowd of drunken cap-wearing yo boys in order to see the band up close (so goes the case in the suburbs I suppose). When Jyri's wife got knocked across the room by rude kids who thought they knew how to mosh, I had had quite enough. Obviously the most talented band there, they came in second to a group that had been smoozing up to the radio reps all night long. In any regard, the thing I most regretted about that night was not getting to really concentrate on the band I had went there to see... Thankfully, that's been remedied because I got to see them open up along with The Prids, for Gossamer recently at the Vogue in Seattle.
Coming from a strong gothic-rock background with influences ranging from the Fields of Nephilim, The Doors and Black Sabbath to Skinny Puppy and the Legendary Pink Dots, you might expect a powerhouse of aggressive music --- and you'd be correct. They put on quite a show fueled by unknown individual emotional drives. Mild-mannered and usually quiet Dexter becomes a mad-man wielding a bass on stage, Chris wails on drums, Lee is a towering guitar god, Jyri enchants and seduces on electric violin and Jeff (Nightmareboy) has the vocal chords to go verse to verse with the most ominous male voices out there. Someone at the show said he kind of reminded them of Billy Idol and hell, that's a huge compliment in my book. This band fears nothing - even braves hick bars in the middle of nowhere and manages to charm the heathens so if you hear their next gig in the boonies, its not a misprint. See them if you can - well worth their admission price for the energy you get in return.
The Sins on AmpCast
November 29, 2001
@ The Vogue
Opening their set with the mysterious song “Memoreyes,” I think the crowd was taken aback by this reserved looking band. It began with dark soundscapes that floated out creating a smoldering atmosphere, something twisted and black out of a Pink Floyd film and suddenly there is unexpected screaming and now the audience is hushed, eyes fixed up on the stage rapt in attention. And while they seem to get classified as indie/alternative by some people who might not recognize their talent goes beyond that; I hear tinges of dark, lengedary bands like Joy Division, And Also the Trees and New Order. Mistina is absolutely captivating on stage playing her bass like a woman possessed - she is intense and beautiful, innocent and dangerous all in one movement. The shared male and female vocals work well together and the percussion is complex while the guitar adds appropriate textures. They have a distinctly European feel to them and will be, in time, a band that is greatly respected by crowds who will come to see them full of wonder and awe. Check them out before they get big - you can brag, " I knew them when"...
~interview by BlackOrpheus
like to present to you today, our own interview with Christopher Gray aka
Adagio of Gossamer, the critically lauded Ohio based band.
StarVox: What year did Gossamer as a fully functional, and productive entity come to be?
Christopher: It was right around Halloween in '95. Or '96. I can't quite remember! That was when Aaron Grooms, Gary Thrasher, and I formed the initial lineup and began working on our demo release, The Zero Decade.
SV: Give me a little background on that contingent of the Ohio music scene that supports the dark music genres. Is the scene healthy? Can the fans really be counted on to turn out for shows, buy albums, and support the bands in otherwise non-financial support roles?
Christopher: It's a mixed bag, and everchanging. Ohio has a lot of pockets of cities with people very active in the scene. Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are the largest cities, but Dayton and Toledo have also had wonderful, receptive, and rabid fans and supporters. ;) The number of folks that turn out for a live show is always going to be less than the number that will turn up for a regular dance/DJ night, but that's to be expected. We actually seem to be doing the best in new cities that we've never previously performed in. We're really looking forward to hitting the West Coast, provided that the details work themselves out over the next week or so. If we haven't played out in a city in a long while, and if we, the promoters, and local fans truly bust our butts to flyer, mail, spam and do everything we can to get the word out, the turnout is generally good. We can't quit the day jobs yet, but we're trying. ;) The fans have been nothing less than wonderful... their word of mouth and popping the CD in for their friends, and bringing the CD to the local DJ/club is still the best way to spread the music.
SV: I understand you've had the opportunity to share the bill alongside many well known headliners. What if anything, has such experience taught you personally, and the band professionally?
Christopher: Primarily, that the majority of them are very down to earth and approachable. Cop an attitude with your fan base, and you'll lose them. Most of them regularly man their own merch tables, and talk with the fans. Wayne Hussey(Mission UK), Mike Van Portfleet(Lycia), and William and Monica (Faith and the Muse) are still very much personal heroes to us, only now we have the privilege of being able to call them 'friends'. Aside from attitude, they've also taught us that you really have to have both great music *and* an enjoyable stage show to have any sort of longevity.
SV: Have you toured nationally or internationally? If yes please briefly detail the experience(s). If no, do you have plans to in the future?
Christopher: We've primarily played in the Midwest over the years, with a few East Coast dates thrown in here and there. The most we've done as far as touring is play an extended weekend for several dates within a day's drive of our hometown here. Provided that things fall into place properly, we hope to be able to play the West Coast in the coming weeks! As far as internationally, we hope to play Toronto in 2002. A European tour will largely depend upon the success of our next release. Don't forget to catch us in New Orleans at GothCon 2002. We'll be the very first act of the event on Thursday, March 28th night at 9pm. It'll be an unforgettable experience!
SV: I gather from your site, that you have three eps under your belt and numerous compilation appearances to your credit. There was some mention of your first full length release "Closure" that was slated for a 2000 Summer release. What became of that, I saw no further reference to it?
Christopher: It was released last fall on Carpe Mortem Records and is available directly from the CM site. (Yes, they take credit card orders.) It is also available through amazon.com (their international pages, too!), just do a search for Gossamer...and please add your reviews there! It is also distributed by Metropolis Records, any local record store that carries Metropolis releases can order it in. Closure is also available through Projekt's Darkwave catalog online.
SV: "Closure" was to have brought together various demo material, and some new material. It also said a track listing hadn't been decided on. Has/was a track listing settled upon? If so, what was it? Also, could you share a little about the new material on this release?
2. Sweetest Misery
3. Resurrection: resurrected
4. Her Ghost
5. Deceit & Betrayal
6. Hollow Eyes, Hollow Soul
9. Sin Again
10. Shell Full of Sand
11. Run [Wayne Hussey Mix]
Most of the material is a collection of our work over the years, a lot of it appears on the EPs available. However, all tracks were remastered or re-recorded. Some have a completely new sound to them. As some of you know, we spent some time recording with Wayne Hussey. Unfortunately time constraints and other roadblocks got in the way of our completing the album with him. We have some roughs of a handful of songs, which are available at our mp3.com page (http://www.mp3.com/gossamer). Unfortunaetly, the only song we fully completed with him that appears on the album is the final track, his mix of Run. Mission UK completists alert! Some of his backing vocal and guitar work is featured on this song, as well as some of the tracks at mp3.com.
SV: I was admiring the beautiful art work that comprises the body of your ep covers. Can you tell me about each piece of art, the process for choosing a cover, and how the ultimate choice is arrived at for a cover?
Christopher: I wish I had a more interesting answer, but generally deadlines are the motivational factor in making the ultimate choice. ;) Mike Manard, our ex guitarist did the majority of our EP covers. The compilation Of Passion and Remembrance that we put together on our home label, i.D. Records features the incredible artwork of Andy Bennett, who has worked with us over the years. In addition to his comic book releases, I believe his art has been featured in some of the White Wolf player guide books.
SV: Could you share the band's experience with MP3? Has the exposure been successful in promoting the band to a larger record buying audience, or at the very least made the world more aware of your existence and what you do? Has it generated any business/professional opportunities?
Christopher: Mp3.com has been *wonderful* to us the past few years. We've garnered many great, supportive, new fans as a direct result of the site, even people that generally don't listen to gothic music in general! Before the release of Closure, we held the #1 spot in the gothic rock, industrial, and electronic genres for a very long time, as well as many top 10 and top 40 ratings. We were almost in the top 40 for alternative rock as well. Unfortunately, we had to pull all of the album tracks off of our artist page due to contractual obligations, and we have lost a lot of our ratings there due to a lack of fresh material being placed up there. Hopefully that will change as we put up new songs in the coming months!
SV: I have to ask; What is the story behind "Gossamer Ate My Balls (www.geocities.com/sunsetstrip/stage/1395/ )?"
Christopher: Oh no.. You found it. :) That's a very old page...The scary thing is, we found out from the anonymous webmaster that the site has generated more than 15 million hits, I believe. That's a lot more than our home page at http://www.idrecords.com/gossamer ! I'd like to think that the site has at least brought a *few* folks over to the real site. Ate My Balls pages are disgusting at worst, free promotion at best. :)
SV: I.D.Records is an Ohio based production group that books, promotes, records, and distributes. I understand you manage many of it's daily affairs. Are you employed by or did you originate the enterprise?
Christopher: Aran and I originated it. John, the gossamer keyboardist assists with it.
SV: . What part does it play in the promotion of Gossamer, and the dark music scene in general?
Christopher: Well, back when we had a lot more time, money, and steam we pushed it hard. We put out the aforementioned compilation, "Of Passion and Remembrance" in an effort to help promote the bands that appear on it, giving the majority of the CDs to the artists themselves to distribute. Aran masterminded a second compilation "A Shoulder Where Death Comes to Cry". i.D. was/is basically the catch-all umbrella that we operate under when not doing gossamer-specific things, such as promoting shows and bringing in national acts. We'd like to revive it a bit, but with Carpe Mortem Records picking up our release of "Closure", we've been doing what we can to push that release. i.D. will continue to support the scene, and we hope to be able to put out some full length releases by specific artists in the future, now that our distribution contacts are much better.
SV: I understand you are a classically trained artist. I'm sure many of us have seen this reference made over the years. Would you tell us about what exactly that entails for the artist undergoing such a course of study? How might it contribute to the overall creative efforts of such a musician versus one who lacks such training?
Christopher: By classical training, I was referring to my background in performance of classical music, and my private voice instruction. I had opera and theatre scholarships to 2 different midwestern universities. Unfortunately it wasn't enough money to further my higher education.
I fortunately had the ability to do a regimen of 2 performance classes, and an hour of private instruction and exercises daily. It's something I really miss. Classical performance generally focuses on tonal quality, posture, power, and proper enunciation. However, some of those good habits have to be unlearned to do more 'rock' type vocals. Passion requires subtlety, and unconventionality.
There are a lot of artists in the scene out there that have good music... but the lead vocals are sometimes lacking proper tone or pitch, or buried under a ton of effects. Classical training or private instrucation can definitely help, and is well worth the investment. It can make many artists' performances and releases that much stronger, and hence, more marketable.
SV: How would you describe and characterize your personal creative process and then seperately, that of the band as a whole?
Christopher: Our writing styles and methods vary greatly within the band. Personally, I prefer to use my Bass VI/baritone guitar to write. It has a lower tonal range, similar to my voice. It's great for writing vocal melodies and melancholic leads. (For reference, The Cure's "Disintegration" and most Joy Division/New Order, and Cocteau Twins releases heavily use the Bass VI.)
Sometimes it's a riff on the Bass VI... sometimes it's a chord progression I've worked up on my 12 string acoustic or on a synth... And sometimes I've jotted down some lyrics I like that need a home. I'm not the best at programming/sequencing/loops/etc, so I generally hand those duties off to Aaron or John.
Aaron and John, on the other hand tend to start with the sequence (drums and keys), and work it back from there. It varies for them as well, sometimes they have a sheet or two of lyrics that we try to flesh out.
SV: What was your response to Sept.11th? Did it help spur you on to greater creative output, as a means of channeling your emotions? Or did it have just the opposite affect? What feelings are associated with it now?
Christopher: It pretty much numbed everyone at first, and then brought up some feelings in the band that hadn't been there before. We weren't sure what to do. We had a lot of friends in New York. Luckily, no one we knew was hurt. But you can't help empathize. John, Aaron and I are all ex-military. One doesn't necessarily associate staunch patriotism with gothic musicians, but we felt very strongly about the situation. It occurred right after we had lost our ex-guitarist Mike, and right before we began a string of shows. We donated a large portion of the proceeds from those shows to the American Red Cross. Now? The fear and anger have quieted a bit. Now I feel more disgust than anything, due to the mob mentality and paranoia that is spreading like an epidemic. I mean, banning sons by Anthrax from the radio? Come on. There's being politically correct, and then there's just plain dumb hypersensitivity. I'm also disgusted at the greed that a lot of folks are exhibiting. "All proceeds from the sale of (mass-emailed product x) will go to the victims." Yeah right. The true inspiration comes from the citizens of New York. These diverse people, in a city that is known for its crime, greed, and corruption pulled together and helped one another out.
SV: If you had the opportunity to share one thought, or one long held personal truth with as many people as possible, what would it be?
Christopher: Being kind is more important than being right.
SV: What are the band's long term goals? What's ahead for Gossamer in the coming year?
Christopher: GothCon, more shows, and hopefully a new release!
SV: On behalf of Starvox.Net, i'd like to thank Gossamer and Adagio most especially for taking the time to speak with us today.
Christopher: Thank you for the opportunity. Hopefully we'll get to meet a lot of you out West soon!
an interview with Barry Bennett
~interviewed by Michael Otley
MiLkBabY's music is the kind born from true improvisation. Even what I had guessed was based on a loose structure was but a mirage created by the vast land of common musicianship and understanding. Intuition's role here is open and expansive as these three artists mingle in the glory of self-expression, and what I might call contact improvisation. Barry, Tracee, and David all work off of each other in slow transitions, stable ambience, as well as occasional abrupt changes in mood to create their own environment from the existing one.
Their first full-length implied muse-iks begins with the powerfully percussive "Cowboy Song" led by Tracee's dry and upfront vocals. The lengthy, mostly instrumental "Climbing dREam: almost unteathered", is an evolving ambient journey reminding me at times of KIVA (Steve Roach, Michael Stearns, and Ron Sunsinger), but more modern where Christopher Lee (experimental guitarist and recording engineer formerly of Thought Industry) contributes guitar sounds that could never be recognized as such.
The second release, hUmaN, fully employs the heavy use of delay that has come to dominate much of their performances. Track 2, "Chrysalis lake part II" brings Tracee's use of delay on her voice to the front, while Barry's extremely inspired and inspiring voice sings and chants wordless vocals behind the march of djembe and percussion. Track 3, "poor soul", is sweet with delayed and looped electronic sounds and Tracee's sweet vocals on top for most of the song.
While all their recordings are bits of improvisation compiled without the use of overdubs, their latest, sTRangE JuKeBoX: Live at Mother Fool's as the title suggests captures them in their element, live performance. The first track, "that Drifter's song", lulls you into the album with gentle keyboards and empty atmosphere. Most of the tracks here really showcase the percussive nature of this particular performance. A very inspired album rooted in their experimental performances.
speaking of performances, I was able to catch two of their shows on their
most recent tour; the first of which was my very first MiLkBabY experience.
An eclectic array of instruments including electronics, drums, and mics
covered the stage. The performers created an amazing ambient background
over which they tossed inspired vocals which they weaved in, out, and over
with delay and looping equipment. But for me the show laid the foundation
for which I could expeirence MiLkBabY, this time prepared for the impeding
atmosphere of their recordings and shows. I saw MiLkBabY again the
next week, and this time I allowed myself to be swallowed up into an unabrashed
sphere of sound. The bass of the electronics overtook the large club
and I sat down looking up. I loved to see them move and bob, especially
Tracee moving in her dancer's spirit, letting completely loose. And
Barry's voice, sounding as if inspired by an animal spirit from some lost
StarVox: Barry, the other two members of Milkbaby just left on an extended trip for Europe. How do you feel?
Barry: Well, now I am kind of excited about it, even though for a while the thought of it made me quite nervous. What to do without my cherubs? [laugh] The first thing to point out would be that this is not a break-up. You all might not know this, but Tracee is quite a modern dancer and has danced for several well-known companies here in the USA. It has always been a dream or goal of hers to try to dance in Europe for some of the wonderful choreographers over there. The band as a whole believes that we could have an audience there and we were working toward being in a position to get over there and play. This past tour and this new record on Uvulittle, sTRangE JuKeBoX: Live at Mother Fool's, are big steps toward that. I think more people have access to our music now than we've ever had before, but a dancer only has so much time to pursue things at a certain level. They needed to go for a while now and I would never stand in the way of people who are dear to me. I just am not in a position to want to head over there without a firm plan. I am lucky to be making my meager living through music completely and I don't fell like stepping away from that right now. I have a girl I love and a family I want to be nearer to at this time. I am totally in to touring in Europe, but not relocating. Their plans are more vague. So for now we fractalize and explore away from our musical siblings for a bit. I will create an entity called MiLkBabY pRiMitiVE, as in a primitive form of MiLkBabY. It'll be a forum for solo performance and for collaboration with other musicians on a show by show basis, or to try a specific experiment. MBP will tour in the states and perhaps do a recording for release, see how things pan out; I may do some things just under my own name. They'll do some performing under the moniker, eBaBy, as in Euro or Electronic BabY. [They have played a couple of shows in Hull, England already]. That's how they can spread the MiLk message. [laugh] Hopefully through that they can create an opportunity for us to do a tour together over there. Its all exciting and a bit scary which is fun. We've been completely into each other for four years. I am curious to hear the music that'll come out of being separated. It'll make us stronger for when we are all together again. I think we'll look back on sTrangE JuKeBoX as a great document of a time when were really firing on all cylinders as a band. Really happy with it. The Chris Lee sessions that we laid down while on tour were very cool too, cause we were playing almost every day for three weeks.
StarVox: Speaking of Chris Lee, both your debut release, and the next studio release were recorded with Christopher Lee of Thought Industry fame. Tell us how Chris got involved and what it is like working with him.
Barry: Chris is an intense guy. he is like a pit-bull behind the mixing board. He has a really great ear and is very inventive. We met through a mutual friend and when he moved to Chicago after he left T.I., we struck up a friendship. I actually played in his first post Though Industry band, Glassy. He recorded Implied muse-iks with hardly any gear at all. We were his guinea pigs for his and he made a real cool sounding record with very minimal gear, and that's tough. We place a lot of demands because we record so many tracks at once. You know we don't, or at least we haven't as of yet, laid down a single overdub on a record. Anyway, he moved to Maryland and now he has a full blown studio and does it for a living. So when we decided to tour east, we knew we had to work with each other again. We spent our days off on the tour holed up in his studio and we laid down a bunch of great tape. It helps to actually be sleeping in the room you record in. [laugh] This time with Chris it is going to be a full on collaboration. We are going to leave him with the material and have the freedom to edit and construct songs from the tape. He might even lay down some guitar or bass passages. It is all pretty open to his contribution. As I've said, we've never had any overdubs before; and usually we are very involved in the mixing process. This time we are giving Chris some space. He can take it, cause we just released sTRangE JuKeBoX so we are not in a hurry with a release deadline with this material. We can let him tinker for months, mix, remix, and just check in on progress from time to time.
StarVox: On your most recent tour you had a lot of shows in my home state, Virginia. Any reflections on playing in Virginia?
Barry: I tell you what. I am an old southern boy from Arkansas so I was really pleased to soak up the vibe that the Virginians had to offer. [laugh] Really they were very very very warm to us there. Super nice folks and the tour would not have been as cool if VA was not involved. Props to Richmond and Norfolk especially. Did I just say props? In Norfolk we got stopped by the police for being a "suspicious vehicle". We were looking for the beach and our tinted windows and out of state plates aroused attention. Once the policeman decided we were not terrorists, he was very kind and gave us directions to expedite our late night quest for the ocean. [laugh]
StarVox: Your live shows are improvised, though I did notice a pattern in the two shows I saw on your tour, like there was a loose structure overall and that you were free to go anywhere, but maybe you were most comfortable with a kind of loose routine. Any thoughts?
Barry: Well, I wouldn't really call it a structure. There is no plan going into a show, and on that tour in particular I, and sometimes David, would mix up what instruments we would play from show to show. Like maybe one night I would play djembes and keys and run a certain chain of effects on vocals and synth. Maybe the next night I play electronic percussion and switch all my effects chains around or maybe I bring out all the gear I am carrying. David would normally mix up more with combos between a larger electronic drum set and his small electronic pads, but unfortunately we were robbed after our 1st show of the tour and he lost his drum set. I was also working with an unfamiliar small djembe. I felt the skin start to finally breaking in around Pittsburgh and it was really singing in VA. As far as a pattern for the shows, many times we do kind of start more ambiently. More space to test your ears and see what sounds you hear, not come barreling out of the gate, do something quiet to let the audience in on the secret that they need to focus in and be there with us. Many times we do build to some really brisk tempos. It is usually a much needed release for us and the audience. I always tell people when they are complimentary after a concert that a show is as only as good as they want it to be. If the audience is open and giving and feeding us with energy, then we have no problem returning that light and energy tenfold. Sometimes we do come right out with up-tempo stuff at the top of the show. We did in DC and it was really cool. We ended with a cover of "Deuce" by Kiss. It all really depends on who starts playing and what they are playing. There is no plan in that. Sometimes Dave likes to go right up and play quietly before we even start, and he'll be serenading Tracee and I as we get plugged in.
StarVox: On the tour you were paired with very different bands, from the progressive and aggressive "jazz-core" band Dysrhythmia to the very gothic Heaven Falls Hard as well as others. How does the band you are performing with affect your music, and how do you end up with such diverse support?
Barry: First off, I must say that I really enjoyed both bands that you mentioned. Very very different from each other, and seemingly very different from us, well we are different from most groups. [laugh] But if you really think about it, you can hear a thread of brotherhood between all of those groups. With Dysrhythmia, we share that pure exploration that they have, plus there is a certain amount of technical proficiency going on in MiLkBabY. A lot of real give and take rhythmically and switches in tempos, not being afraid to play against each other. With HFH, it is that sense of darkness and the emotionalism in the music. Getting something out the only way you can imagine. Good bookers and promoters can find those links in groups that go beyond just a sound. Poor ones pass on us only because they can't think of anyone to book for support or tell us how much they love the record but are afraid that their crowd won't get it. That is one reason that I am very thankful for the goth community. Anyone who thinks that that subculture has narrow tastes are very sadly mistaken. I mean MiLkBabY has never set out to cater to any genres. The music takes us where it takes us where it takes us. When DJ Batty first heard us and putting us on goth oriented bills, I worried a bit that we wouldn't be goth enough for them. I was happily mistaken. I feel that MiLkBabY is not afraid to hold up a mirror to something that may be frightening and find unabashed beauty. I think anyone who can appreciate that could land in our camp. But to get back to one of the points you wanted to get at, the group with us on the bill does affect us a bit. If only that their energy becomes part of the soup from which we all will be feeding, right?
Interview with Judith's Christopher David
(photos property and courtesy of Neue Ästhetik Multimedia, Inc and Judith)
In 1995 after putting the highly respected band Requiem in White to rest, Judith was born and made its debut at CBGB's in New York City for an annual event called "Night of Misanthropy." They released a full length CD called Föhn later that winter and within a year they had charmed Europe playing at the London Sacrosanct Festival, the Sanctuary Festival (Switzerland), and later at the UK's Whitby Gothic Weekend. After a year of playing and exposure; 1997 saw them release a CD/EP called Sahara Seas as they stretched their reach further into Europe by playing in Italy at the "Ascension of the Gods Festival" in Bassiano. Their third release, La Rêveuse was put out by Neue Ästhetik Multimedia in 1998. In 1999 they went on tour with Faith & the Muse for the Blackout A.D. tour covering an extensive 23 cities in just 8 weeks. Always ones to seek more exposure in other countries, in 2000 they played a 3 day festival called "Hall of Dreams" in Porto, Portugal before coming back to the States to begin studio work on their fourth and current release - Play of Light. Not bad for the 6 years eh?
I owe my fascination with Judith to Michael and Brian from DeadAir in Atlanta which used to air on WRAS FM when I lived there (you can now catch the show online here. ) They played the hell out of Judith on that show and it wasn't long before I fell in love with songs like "Mirror" and their cover of Bowie's "Andy Warhol." The deeply romantic sentiment in their songs, coupled with dark, but powerful music and Christopher David's sultry vocals made for an irrisistable combination. I remember seeing them on the Blackout AD tour and was amazed at how well their sound transferred in live settings. Michael and Brian were up front with me -- dancing maniacs the entire set (to this day I don't think I ever saw Brian as excited to see a band he was when Judith took the stage). Judith has always been a classical band in its musical elements - a precise and careful blend of acoustic and electric guitar, organic and electronic instruments constantly putting out quality CDs that successively showcase their growth as a band.
Before they embarked upon a mini tour of Italy in December, Christopher David, founder of Judith, was kind enough to answer some questions for us about their new CD, the band in general and what lies ahead...
StarVox: Play of Light took a while in coming out since your last release. A lot of fans (like me) were almost rabid by that time in need of a Judith-fix. Did it take that long to develop the songs or were there hang ups along the way?
Christopher David: With Play of Light we really wanted to make a record that would denote a new beginning for the band. The CD took about a year to make, including the writing, arrangements and production. There were no real hang-ups other than the norm. We did have a change of personnel, but that really didn't hinder the process; it actually sped the whole thing up a bit.
SV: How's the reception been so far?
CD: Suffice it to say, the reaction thus far has been very good. You probably wouldn't be reading this interview if it had been bad. But one must take reviews with a grain of salt. I don't tend to read reviews as far as good or bad goes. I am just interested to see if the person writing the review took the time to really listen to the CD. There are a lot of subtleties that are just missed unless you listen very closely. No one has yet to pick up on the hidden message on the CD. That is the test.
SV: Judith is a three piece now -- what's the instrumentation like?
CD: We have simplified the band. Although we have added some sequenced tracks for texture, 3 is now the magic number for Judith. The instrumentation is: myself guitar/vocals, Damian James-bass guitar, Brian Veit-drums/percussion. That is really all that is necessary at this point. We have always thought of the band with the idea that less is more. As it is, most of the places that we play live can barely handle our sound. We are looking forward to playing the larger venues next year.
SV: I've noticed there's a bit more electronics in this latest CD compared to the ones in the past although it certainly hasn't lost it guitar-themed rock edge. It seems to add nice textural accents and layering to the songs. Was this a conscious effort to keep it modern sounding in the sense the electronic bands have had a huge popularity growth as of late or was it just a part of the normal progression of the band?
CD: The key word here is modern. I love layering organic instruments with electronic sounds. That said, we still wanted to retain the essence of Judith. I believe this CD will be seen as a transitional release for the band. I have always wanted to dabble in the electronic realm, but due to limitations with certain aspects of the band, we were never really able to pull it all together. The changes that have been made within the group have opened up a new world for us. We have added the electronic elements because they fit nicely. Perhaps as you put it: a progression in sound. We are always looking for new sounds, new territory and new ways to create music, although I wouldn't go so far as to call Judith an "electronic" band. We do, however, want to retain the dichotomy of the group, juxtaposing the organic with the electronic, the hardness with the lightness, all while still continuing to develop the melody and song writing within the band.
SV: Your lyrics are often lavish and rich in romanticism, mysticism and sometimes symbolism. What's the song writing process for you like? Do ideas and subjects come to you first and music is added later? Or does music come first?
CD: The writing of each song is a completely different experience for me. I haven't been able to fix upon a specific formula, which most bands tend to use, in order to create a new song. If something works in one song, it usually fails miserably in the next. I like to have a visual image in my head to start out with. In fact, I mixed most of Play of Light with a copy of the CD cover taped to the top of the mixing board. I was mixing to the image. I probably write songs the same way.
SV: The sense of romanticism has always been prevalent in Judith songs. Is this a premeditated trait or is it a part of the way you live your life that just happens to come out in your music?
CD: Romanticism holds the key to happiness. Similar to most people, I would prefer to be happy than unhappy. I draw a lot of inspiration from the happier of emotions experienced within the human spectrum, romanticism just happens to be the one in the forefront, at least most of the time.
SV: Any formal training on vocals or is that all natural talent?
CD: I have not had any vocal training up to, and including, the recording sessions for Play of Light. But subsequent to Play of Light, the idea has crossed my mind. Why--does something sound funny to you? :-)
SV: Oh... not at all - its lovely. Do you work with an overall vision for Judith -- i.e., you know beforehand what you'd like it to sound like in tone and theme, or does it just develop naturally?
CD: We have a "Judith" vision, which is to never accept mediocrity. For the most part, I know what kind of tones I want to hear on a track before it is recorded. But that is not to say that I have not made a couple of mistakes which ended up changing a song completely. Pleasant surprises can happen when mistakes are made. Where would the world be today without mayonnaise or Penicillin?
SV: Do you prefer the studio over live shows?
CD: I definitely prefer the live environment to the studio. In order to finish with a well produced CD, one needs to pay careful attention to each and every detail in the studio. From volume, to tone, to effect, everything is under a microscope. This gets to be very tedious at times. It is definitely a love-hate relationship. With the live shows, you are just letting it all hang out. You have all the parts in a show laid out beforehand, but it is a "living for the moment" kind of thing. The spontaneity of the live environment is really what attracts me. Every show can bring something different into the equation.
SV: Who developed the cover concept and did the artwork for the new CD? Its quite beautiful. Its also the new visual theme on your webpage right?
CD: A friend of ours, Lisa Gill (of arteffex.com) created the imagery for the CD. We had a general idea of what we wanted it to look like. She took our basic idea and created a couple of different versions. We worked very closely with her to create the end product. Taking someone else's vision and making it materialize is quite a talent. We were very happy with the end product that she came up with. We really feel it captures the true essence of this CD.
Yes, we felt that with this release, we wanted to create a complete package, so we just morphed the CD cover art into the website as well.
SV: One of the things that struck me about seeing Judith play live for the first time (a few years ago on the BlackOut AD Tour in Atlanta) was the sense of style the band had on stage visually - clean, sophisticated, proper and tailored. After digging a bit more, I've noticed you always appear to have a very dignified and gentlemanly but modern sense of fashion. It shouldn't have surprised me then, to see links to fashion magazines and designers on your site. Is it fair to guess that sense of fashion is an element that you strive for in presentation professionally and otherwise? Have you been able to attend any high profile shows?
CD: Fashion goes hand in hand with this music, as it does with most. I never want the music to be overshadowed by the clothes, but the two should complement each other. We were doing the "Victorian thing" for a while, but like everything else, one needs to grow and expand their horizons. I often try to imagine what the modern Victorian would be wearing today. Contemporary designer clothes are often made with something extra, similar to fashions of old. If you have ever seen an original Victorian garment, you can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into making clothes back then. I think many modern designers have continued that tradition. Unfortunately, for most, the price is quite out of this world. Just compare a suit from Dolce & Gabanna to one from "The Men's Warehouse", for example. Actually, there really is no comparison. The cut, the fit, everything is just perfect on the D & G. It is the attention to detail that impresses me. Living in NYC, it is hard not to be somewhat involved with fashion, and I have attended various shows over the years, including an amazing Betsy Johnson show which included Bjork as a runway model. She was magnificent. I've seen some Anna Sui shows on occasion as well.
SV: More questions in regards to links on your page. I noticed several from the UK - Placebo, Bowie, Suede, the lovely Bjork, and some that I've had a huge fascination with lately -- The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and GoldFrapp. These type of bands, although accepted into the mainstream by the media and audience, have always remained edgy and definitely managed to keep their individuality and drive rather than being consumed by the industry machine. I've also noticed that your marketing has been geared towards alternative and indie markets. Is it safe to say that one of your goals as far as the success of Judith is to be accepted completely into the alternative markets? Are you ever worried your association with the goth scene or your getting labeled as a "goth band" might hinder that as I know its been a struggle for quite a few bands I know.
CD: Judith is "marketed" to whomever is interested in listening to "new" music. Whether they are alt music fans, Britpoppers, mainstream boyband lovers, Brittany Spears "want to be's" or the fringe of goth/industrial/experimental/ebm, you name it. If people are interested in hearing new music, then I won't mind if they listen to Judith, (chuckle chuckle). I am personally always looking for new bands to listen to.
Judith has always had a certain edginess. Placebo, Bowie, Suede, BRMC all have that certain "extra something" that I hope people see in Judith as well. One thing Judith has in common with the other artists that you mentioned, is maybe that we are all constantly trying to stretch the boundaries instead of working within them. As I said before, mediocrity just won't do. As far as Judith being a "goth" band, I don't think I have ever said that we were. If people think that we are, I don't have a problem with that. (If people think we are a country and western band, that is fine too). I remember after one show we played with Switchblade Symphony a couple of years back, someone came up to me after the show and said, "you're not a goth band, you are just a rock band". It was said, I think, as a dig. I took it as a compliment. So much for that.
Being in a band is a struggle no matter what. I count myself as fortunate to have been able to travel the world with Judith and meet and hangout with some really terrific people, see some new places. It really doesn't matter if you are labeled as this or that, if you are good at what you do, people will let their eyes and ears be the judge. The fact of the matter is, you need to be true to yourself and not try to be the next this or that. The music I write for Judith is created naturally--it just comes out. You cannot force yourself to write one way or another, at least I can't. I think the biggest problem we face now is that Judith does not sound like anyone else, judging from the variety of artists people have compared Judith to: The Damned, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Placebo, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Pulp, Jeff Buckley, The Cure, Black Sabbath, The Nephilum and Stabbing Westward, just to name more than a few. The only thing tying these bands together is the fact that they are all very good at what they do. We feel honored to have been included among those ranks.
SV: Would you/have you ever considered major label support or do you prefer independent labels?
CD: Of course I would consider major label support. Anyone who says they wouldn't is just lying to themselves. You can always say no to the deal if you don't like the looks of it. But you cannot say no to the deal which is never even offered.
SV: I was quite thrilled to hear you had been chosen to perform at GothCon in 2002. What peaked your interest in playing at that particular convention?
CD: Well as I am sure you know GothCon is a charity event to promote the awareness of HIV and AIDS. It is a great cause, and living in New York City, the affect that the disease has had on the world is very apparent. So many creative people have died of this illness. GothCon is a excellent cause, so if anyone is planning their vacation for March, make a point to come down to New Orleans and support the event. There will be some fabulous vendors, along with great bands, all supporting a truly worthy cause. What else could one ask for? Don't forget to say hello.
SV: GothCon has been traditionally a very social convention especially since its held in one location over a weekend. Can we expect to see you out socializing with the masses perhaps?
CD: Of course. We all enjoy meeting and talking to new people. So for those that are planning on attending GothCon, please come up and introduce yourself.
SV: In all the cities you've played in the U.S., which ones stand out in your mind? How about in Europe?
CD: We have had some phenomenal shows throughout the U.S., but some of the most memorable cities would have to be LA, Chicago, Tampa, Boston, Cleveland and of course New York. We also had a great show in Seattle, I seemed to recall it was at the Fenix Underground, which as I understand, was partly destroyed in the recent earthquake.
As far as Europe goes, there is just such a disparity in people and culture from country to country. Playing one event (for Sanctuary Org.) in Switzerland a couple of years ago, some fans had told me they had traveled 16 hours on a train just to make the show. Now that's dedication! We also played a show in the hills just outside of Rome at an open air festival. The crowds in the streets (both locals and fans alike) were so huge, we almost couldn't get back to our hotel because of the amount of people trying to get a chance to talk to us. Playing the London Astoria for the Sacrosanct Festival (our first European show) was also fabulous, since its vast stage has always been home to great bands in Britain.
SV: Speaking of Europe, you''ll be traveling soon for a few dates in Italy. This isn't the first time you've played in Italy. Is there a specific attraction towards that country for you?
CD: Italy exudes art. It is one of the most inspiring countries in the world. Everywhere you look, there is something that amazes the eye. Italian food ain't bad either... there, they just call it food though, (chuckle). Italy doesn't have much foreign cuisine.
SV: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? If you live in any time period, when would it be?
CD: I don't think I could live in any other place other than New York City. Once you live here, everywhere else pales in comparison. Don't misunderstand me, there are many other places that I have visited that take my breath away or excite me, but there is no place like home. As far as time period is concerned, I would like to take a trip into the future, la la la la la....
SV: In your opinion, what would be success for Judith? When could you say, "we've made it" ?
CD: Success is a constantly moving target. I am not sure I will ever be able to say "we've made it". For Judith, I am not sure what "making it" is. (I am sure if I had a gold record on my wall, answering this question would be a little easier). We do have high aspirations. Judith is really just getting started. We have been trying to find ourselves as a band for the last few years and I think we happened upon something about halfway through the recording of Play of Light. We are planning on recording a new CD in 2002, so you won't have to wait so long for the next one as you did with Play of Light.
SV: Are there any bands you've been dying to play with on stage?
CD: I would love to play with Placebo, BRMC, Pulp, Suede, JJ72. Having interviewed the majority of those bands for the Sentimentalist, a magazine I co-edit, I would love to share the stage with them.
SV: What's a typical Judith fan like? Do there seem to be some common elements among your listeners or are they quite a varied crowd?
CD: The typical Judith fan is intelligent, creative and very loyal. When we first played the UK, we had a whole contingent of Germans, Italians and Swiss, some of whom traveled along to see us in the other cities we were playing as part of their holiday vacation.
SV: You've said you'll be touring the U.S. later on in support of this new CD. Will you be traveling alone or will someone headline for you guys?
CD: The plans have not been finalized yet, so your guess is as good as mine.
SV: During your career as the founder of Judith, you've remained very quiet about your personal life often times refusing to answer questions that weren't specifically about the music you create. Are you just a very private person or is there a reason you keep out of the spotlight? Is there a lighter side to Christopher David?
CD: No comment; (just kidding)...It all depends on my mood. If I don't feel up to answering a question that doesn't have any relevance to the music, I will just pass it by. It is really all about the music. Are you really thinking about your keyboard as you type your e-mails? No--you are just using it as a method to accomplish your task at hand.
SV: Anything you'd like to add?
CD: Hopefully we will be playing some shows on the west coast next year so keep an eye out and do come up and say hello. Thanks very much.
Neue Ästhetik Multimedia, Inc.
new "Play of Light" CD now available on the NAM online store at www.asthetik.com
Hear new tracks on mp3 at http://www.mp3.com/judith
Reggio Emilia, Italy Sunday December 9 @ VAMPYRIA (Presented by Ascension Magazine)
Rome, Italy Saturday December 8 @ The Jungle Club (personal appearance only Judith will not be playing)
Rome, Italy Thursday December 6 @ Club Alpheus
New York, NY Monday October 15, @ CBGB's 1313 Alchemy
Providence, RI Saturday October 13 @ The Green Room w/Holy Cow
New Haven, CT Friday October 12 @ the Tune Inn
Boston, MA Thursday October 11 @ the Middle East w/ Holy Cow
Judith has also been asked to play for Gothcon 2002 The weekend of March 28-30, 2002. Gothcon is a charity event to further the awareness of Aids and HIV