Those of you upset by In The Woods… deciding to call it quits have most likely been paying attention to Green Carnation. After all, ambitious metal is hard to come by these days. And while the overall number of creative bands is steadily climbing, the number of generic bands continues to sky-rocket. With that being said, I’m one of those In The Woods… fans who has been paying close attention to Green Carnation. And to find out more about them, I interviewed their lead visionary, Tchort.
Eric: This release is being marketed as having a wide variety of instrumentation, and its use throughout the album is very evident. Did you go about selecting unique instruments to include on a "metal" album, or was it just something that happened over the course of conceiving the work?
Tchort: I knew up front what instruments I wanted to use on the album. You see, we did a rehearsal tape of the album, the drummer and I, because I was going to be busy with my other bands for almost half a year, so we didn’t have time to rehearse the album during this period, so we did this rehearsal tape, so that I wouldn’t forget any of the music or arrangements (I cannot write notes, I always have to remember what I write). So I when I had this tape, I was able to think of new ideas and instruments in a more constructive way, than when we were actually playing the song. Some of the ideas I had for additional instruments, were ideas I came up with when I was listening to this rehearsal tape, but the major part of them was ideas I had for a long time.
Eric: The two Green Carnation releases compliment each other really well. I see Journey to the End of the Night as a sort of mourning, almost even a purging of negative emotion... and consequently it's far darker than the new release. Light of Day, Day of Darkness feels more like a cleansing. Did you originally plan them to work this way?
Tchort: I think it was a natural progression and emotion change, because the first album was dealing about the death of my daughter while most of the new album was written around the period where my son was born, so basically there were two totally different eras reflected in both albums. I also feel that the first album is darker and has a negative touch to it, while the new one is more positive if I may use that word. The new album also deals with the opposite feelings I have been going through – loosing a child and having a child.
Eric: Writing a single track of an hour in length has to be very demanding. What kind of song writing process did you follow for this? Are there any natural breaks in the music that allowed you to split things up?
Tchort: I think the whole album consists of natural breaks and parts, but my intention was already from the beginning to make this as a one track album, so I put a lot of effort into the arrangements of the song, to make it interesting and full of different emotions, but still you can link the parts together with this red thread that goes throughout the whole album. That was my intention at least.
Eric: Why did Christopher and X Botteri leave the band? (I notice you still dedicated it to them lyrically, but I haven't found any information as to why they didn't play on this recording.)
Tchort: They decided to leave metal music and the scene, as we know it. They are still doing music, but in their respective solo bands, doing albums that are only sold to friends and possible via the Internet. Very fragile and experimental music. All in all, the main reason is that they have personal problems and playing in a band being connected to other people, didn’t work out for them anymore, which is also why they put In the Woods dead.
Eric: Compositionally, your new release is a lot more complex than Journey to the End of the Night. Why did you make a return to more traditionally "metal" rhythm guitar to fit the new complexity?
Tchort: Because that is more me. I mean, I write my music using riffs, while X botteri uses a lot of effects and sounds when he is writing music. I think the basic change is the change of composer. I co-wrote the first album with X Botteri, while I wrote the new album alone, so that fact alone, gives you the answer why the new album is more guitar based. Its how I write my music.
Eric: How much input do the other band members have on the song writing?
Tchort: No input at all. I wrote all the music at my house before presenting it to the drummer, though I spent a lot of time in the rehearsal room with him to arrange everything properly. All the basic tracks were recorded before I presented the music to any of the additional musicians. Obviously their playing style have a big input on the sound, that is also the reason why I wanted additional musicians, to have a little extra touch, that I myself couldn’t give. The producer was very helpful and creative when we were working on the string parts and vocals arrangements as well.
Eric: Were you in any way directly influenced by the music of In The Woods...? The contribution of musicians from that band automatically establishes a link, though I've always felt that Green Carnation has had different goals and aims (despite moments of musical similarity).
Tchort: I am probably influenced by their music, as I am a big fan of their last albums, but I don’t think that the link between In the woods and the new album is so obvious as it was on the first album. I mean, on the first album, X Botteri (who writes all music for ITW) wrote half the material and he along with his brother has a very distinctive style of playing. I always felt that Green Carnation was more metal than ITW ever was.
Eric: Musical comparisons are difficult enough to come by, though the feeling I get when listening is wholly different from just about anything I've heard. What has inspired you to create these epic works? I'm sure the album dedications reveal at least part of the intended aim...
Tchort: I see this album as a mirror that reflects my whole musical career, as a musician and as a fan. I mean, I tried to make all the influences and inspiration I have the last 15 years come out on this album. This was my first solo album and I wanted it to include “everything”. I mean, I grew up with Wasp, Kiss, Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Sabbath, Crimson Glory, etc. And I played in various metal bands myself, so I mixed all of the mentioned and I have used riffs that were intended for Black Metal bands, riffs that were intended for Death metal bands, etc. I just changed the rhythm, maybe turned off the distortion or play it slower on the album, to make it fit. Emotions, feelings and life experience/happenings, are basically being reflected in the mood of the album.
Eric: I have to congratulate your use of the saxophone. When I read there was one used here, my cynical side kicked in and I was excepting to hear metal mixed with traditional saxophone playing; something along the lines of Fleurety. What led you to include this instrument?
Tchort: I like the saxophone and I have for a long time. I heard it being used in films and it sounded great, when played a certain way. It have a lot of feeling to it I think, and I thought I would give it a try in the middle part of the album, where I am trying to draw the listener down, almost make them dizzy and sleepy, before I kick off with perhaps the most intensive part of the album. I knew from the Carpathian Forest albums we had recently done, that there was a guy available for sax playing and he knew how to play the instrument the “correct” way - which I was looking for.
Eric: Is there anything else you'd like your listeners to know?
Tchort: We are going to do some live shows in 2002, among them being the Wacken open air in Germany, which should be a big challenge for the band. Green Carnation hasn’t played since 1992 so I am going to write a live version of the album, that I also hope can be used as a live album. I am currently working on the third album, although no one should expect a follow up on “Light of day…” as that was a one-time thing. Now I am going for short songs… I haven’t done that with Green Carnation yet hehehe
Eric: Thanks a lot for your time, and for providing us with such unique music!
Tchort: Thank you very much for your interest and kind words!
Carnation - Official Web Site:
an interview with Rik MacLean
~by Edwin Somnambulist
(drawing by Black Daisies, CD cover by Katie Miranda)
Anyone familiar with electro-etherial music has no doubt heard the name Mara's Torment. Based in Toronto, Ontario, Rik MacLean numbers amongst the most talented artists that Canada has to offer. Rik's most special gift is his ability to fashion simple sounds togteher into complex emotions, and then weave those emotions to form sensual soundscapes and stories. Always witty and insightful, it was a great pleasure to interview Rik on a wide variety of topics.
Edwin Somnambulist: I guess the first question would be how did you get your start in music?
Rik MacLean: Well, to be honest this compromises my secret identity, but after my parents put me in a spaceship to flee the imminent destruction of my homeworld, I found myself in a laboratory where I was bitten by a radioactive spider...
Anyway, after all that stuff settled, music appealed to me when I was younger as something that was far more expressive than language. I was a pretty insecure kid that didn't really know how to say what I wanted to say. As time went on I found myself writing songs in my head to convey what I was thinking, how I felt. Eventually I started playing music when there got to be so many songs in my head that I was running out of places to put them.
It's kinda interesting how playing music parallels learning how to speak. When you first start playing, you have a limited vocabulary (notes), you might not be able to string sentences (or songs) together, only phrases (chords) at best, and your grammar (musical theory) is practically non-existent. As time goes on, you become more able to connect words and ideas, and before you know it you're having a conversation. I guess this is the same for any sort of learning process, that there are bits and pieces that are comparable in any situation, but it's a pretty good comparison in my mind.
ES: Tell us a little about the early formative years of your musical career and schooling and some of the important events that shaped your musical career into what it is today.
RM: Career? I hesitate to say that it's a career, that word gives it such a sterile feeling, like it's something I do for a living, something that pays the bills, and I can assure you that there are no bills being paid by my music at this point. Anyway, the single most important musical moment for me was hearing the song "Ashes to Ashes" for the first time ever. Just to experience something so beautiful, so true, so different from anything that I'd ever experienced in life up to that time, it was a total epiphany.
The second most important moment was that first moment of recognition. When I started playing music, all I wanted to do was to release something that a complete stranger would tell me they enjoyed, so I recorded my first cassette as Mara's Torment, and I printed up 50 copies, and I mailed them to like every zine I could find at the time. And sure enough, somebody mailed me back to say that they liked it. And it was the best feeling in the world, you know? All of a sudden there was a credibility to what I was doing, and a validation to the music I was making. That feeling was pretty awe inspiring...
Other things? Well, one day when I was alone in my study, a bat flew in through the window and I realized my calling in life. Villains are a cowardly lot...
ES: Where do you find a lot of your inspiration comes from when you're creating a piece?
RM: My experiences as an international man of mystery are often the best source material, but when that fails I almost always try to write with the idea of documenting a time and space that I'm in. The songs I write are like journal entries, and reflect different periods in my life, my development. So I guess my main influence when I write is me. Hmmmmmmm, that sounds so pretentious. Lemme try again... I guess it refers back to the idea that music is a way of expressing things in a more eloquent way than language allows, at least my command of language. When speaking, I always feel very uncomfortable that I don't have the right words to say what I mean, that I don't have enough vocabulary to express myself. With music, I'm feeling more comfortable with communicating so it would be natural in my mind to keep a musical journal. Hmmmm, see this is a total example of me not being able to find words to say what I mean to say. I'll try to write you a song instead...
ES: Do you find living in a big city like Toronto provides you a lot of ideas for music?
RM: I've always subscribed to the idea that cities are living things, not just a support structure, and with that in mind I'd say yeah, the city has influenced me with various interactions that I've had with it.
There's actually a very particular case of the city influencing my writing during the time of The Barrier of Skin. I'm a really big fan of The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, and in one of the issues a character makes reference to the idea that cities are alive, and that people are the virii that spawn the cities. They also suggest that a city communicates with us through graffiti that we see, images that pass beyond our peripheral vision, stuff like that. So anyway, about two summers ago, there were these chalk drawings that started appearing on walls, a box with the outline of a head and shoulders with a cross through it. Very minimal, very Keith Haring in design. And I'd see these drawings on my way to work, and over the course of the summer I'd see more and more of them, and it got to the point where I could count maybe 200 on the walk from my home to where I work, it was totally wild! And I guess in keeping with the idea about communication that I just told you, I was positive, POSITIVE, that this was the city trying to say something. You have to remember this was the summer of Y2K paranoia, and I was spending all my day at work doing prep for the apocalypse, so I was sure that the city was making some sort of dark premonition or something. It was all very strange.
...And I guess as I thought more and more about this idea, the idea of communication came to mind, how we talk, how we express, how we say the things we do, so a lot of that went into TBS. A lot of other ideas were in there as well, but the concept of communication, reaching through to another person, interaction, how we do it, what we say, these were all big things in the writing process. So, ummmmmm, yeah, ummmmm, what were you asking me before?
ES: Is there any musical gear that you're partial to?
RM: I do love my Roland XP 80. It's an awesome keyboard, and I totally love it. I'm pretty solid with Roland equipment. Right now I'm just starting to get into computer based writing, but I still prefer the feeling of keys under my fingers...
ES: Do you feel making music is a partially physical or sensual experience for you then?
RM: Mmmmmmmmm, there's a physical feeling with keys and stuff, 'cause it feels like I'm doing something, I'm working towards a project, an end goal, a finished sentence or idea. I like the idea of making something, and that doesn't come across as well for me when I use the computer to write. Computer written songs seem somehow, ummmmmmmmmm, they seem like they come from the computer rather than me, I just pull them out and put them together, whereas a song written on the keyboard feels more like something I've channelled myself.
As for sensuality, yeah, there's always a feeling of sensuality when you're revealing yourself, a sense of being naked before another. There's a feeling of anticipation, a feeling that something is going to happen.
ES: Lately, you've begun to get into the DJ'ing side of things. What was the inspiration for this new-found interest?
RM: Okay, actually, the DJ side of things is a bit of a misnomer, 'cause it's really just a means of presenting my stuff that works in a DJ setting. Over the last year or so I've gotten really uncomfortable with the idea of live performance. I was starting to get body issues, and I was tired of the fear that a flash pot would burn off my eyebrows. And really, the snake and lion thing was getting a little tired for me, you know? I had to change the act. Sooooooo, I started thinking of different ways to present myself, to do something that would work better in a live environment, and the idea of packaging myself as a DJ seemed very interesting, as it would create a new dynamic to the live setting for me.
Usually at a Mara's Torment show I'd get up on stage, I might have a movie, or dancers, or a large purple octopus or something, and I'd play my songs, and it became a really awkward environment because there would be a focus on creating a spectacle out of these really personal, really intimate moments of mine that I just didn't want to share that way anymore. So by presenting things in a DJ format, I can put on a disc, mix some songs, and fade to the background. People can still come, still experience the music, still reflect, be involved or whatever, but the spectacle of performance is moved away so it becomes closer to the idea of intimacy that the songs are about, you know?
Soooo, yeah, the idea of being a DJ is really just an opportunity to present my own music in a different way. Do you have to play other people's songs if you're a DJ? That's me, rik the self-centered DJ...
ES: What do you feel have been some of the uppoints of your career? How about some of the lowpoints?
RM: Uppoints? I think any time somebody contacts me out of the blue to say that they enjoy what I'm doing is an uppoint, I'm still thrilled by every person that appreciates my stuff. Other things? I've played with some really great bands. I've been offered deals by some really interesting record labels, which has been very flattering. I've met a lot of fabulous people and made a lot of really great friends as a result of my stuff. I've collaborated with some wonderfully talented people and made some music that I've been really proud of.
Lowpoints? Before I started doing Mara's Torment I was in a bunch of groups working with other people, and though I worked with some really talented folks, I had a lot of difficulty working with other people. And for the longest time I felt I HAD to work with other people, that I couldn't do something on my own. And one day I challenged that idea, and that's when MT was born... Since then things have been peachy keen and swell. I've had some moments that were less appealing than others, a few bad reviews, some really bad shows, but I love what I do so I try to see any of the less good things as being learning experiences to make things better in the future.
Wow, did I say that? That totally goes against like eight schema maintaining behaviours that my therapist and I have catalogued! I smell breakthrough!
ES: What direction do you see your musical career heading in the near future?
RM: Using the word career again eh? I would like to be able to continue making the music that I do, continue to explore new ideas. Directions will be determined by whichever way the wind blows, you know?
ES: Is there anything you'd like to try that you've not had a chance to yet?
RM: Well, I've never had sex on my birthday. I dunno why, it just seems to be that on my birthday I always end up sleeping alone. Somehow that doesn't seem right does it? Ummmmmmmm, musically speaking there are a number of things I'd like to try, but of course if I say what they are, somebody will beat me to it, so I'm keeping that all under wraps right now...
ES: What would you say are the top five albums of all time?
1. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) by David Bowie
2. Pornography by The Cure
3. The Dreaming by Kate Bush
4. Juju by Siouxsie and the Banshees
4.75. Hips and Makers by Kristin Hersh
4.77. The Lush Garden Within by Black Tape for a Blue Girl
4.82. Hope Was by Soulwhirlingsomewhere
4.87. Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart
4.895. The Burning Circle and then Dust by Lycia
5. Gone to Earth by David Sylvian
and a whole bunch of other discs that don't come to mind right now, but I'll prolly remember as soon as I've sent this email back to you...
ES: What's in your pockets right now?
RM: That's my favourite question in the whole wide world!
My cel phone, my Hell-o Satan touque, a bent straw, a flyer from a show that I didn't go to, a ring from a smoothie I bought at Juice for life, my Gargamel figure, some sorta comic preview thing, two open packages of Dentyne Ice gum, my phone bill (who do I know that lives in Niagara Falls?), my visa bill (mostly restaurants and CD stores), my hydro bill, my passport, my keys (both nacelles have fallen off the Enterprise I'm afraid...), my phone book, business cards from my therapist that I write appointments on, an HMV discount card (one away from a free CD), the phone number of somebody I met at a club that I'll prolly never call, a receipt for the latest issue of Vanity Fair (I loooooove Vanity Fair), assorted ATM receipts, a Tylenol vial that has two Vitamin C tablets, a B12 pill, and a couple of St John's Wort pills, assorted change, a twenty, my wallet, a photo of a friend that I miss very much, and a note with what my roommate wanted on her panino from last night's dinner run...
ES: Tell us a little about your new disc, The Last Night is the Hardest.
RM: The Last Night is the Hardest should be called The Next Album is the Hardest to finish. See, I started work on it the day that I got The Barrier of Skin back from the printers. The trouble is that I started working on too many things at the time, too many projects, too many shows, and as time went on I found that I'd spread myself too thin. I was writing from too many different perspectives, and it's taken me a while to do something that reflects the continued theme I have in mind for the disc, but I think it's finally happened. I'm hoping to get it mastered in January, and then from there it'll be ready prolly in the beginning of February. March at the latest. I'm really looking forward to it's release, it's been a long time coming, you know?
So what does it sound like? Oh, you know, mournful, forlorn, haunted, with an underlying sensuality. A smouldering eroticism. With an accordion. And a kazoo. I maintain a sense of humour despite my mournful forlorn haunted ways. It's okay. I think people who have appreciated my earlier work will enjoy The Last Night is the Hardest, and I hope that people that haven't heard any of my stuff will be interested enough to check it out. If you're into aural landscapes, the sounds of subway trains, beating hearts, and sweep pads galore, then this is the disc for you...
Once again the cover is done by the brilliant and talented Ms Katie Miranda who is one of my favouritest people in the universe. It's a beautiful painting that she did to reflect the subject matter of the disc, and it's quite stunning. I'm very lucky to be able to work with somebody as cool and as talented as Katie, she's totally in touch with what I do musically...
ES: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
RM: Yeah, I wanted to make this totally cheap plug for this soundtrack that I did over the summer for a film called The Beauty of Industry. It's a movie by a man named Gordon Williams about machines falling in love, and it's totally different from anything I've ever done before. It's like this totally amusical antimelodic backwards looping grating metal machine fragmentary nonmusic thing, and ummmmmmm, I quite like it. It's available to hear (and to buy...) on mp3.com for anybody that's interested, but it's completely different from my normal stuff, so be forewarned. It's something I'm very proud of, but it's sort of gone without much promo as a result of my being busy with the new disc. Check it out if you get the chance...
And while you're checking stuff out at mp3.com, you should also check out Mercurine! They're the most awesome band I've heard in ages, and I think they're awesome. Their addy is http://www.mp3.com/mercurine Oh! And you should also check out Ashkelon Sain's new project Submarine Fleet! He creates this ambience that I'm totally in awe of, his addy is http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/309/ashkelon_sain.html Oh, oh, oh! And you should check out DJ Triptech at http://www.ampcast.com/music/11154/artist.php 'cause he did some remixes for me, and ummmmmm, he does good stuff. And then and then and then and then-
Okay, I'm calm now. I should add that I only recommend that you go visit other sites once you've finished reading all of the groovy articles in this edition of Starvox in their entirety. I wouldn't want you missing anything here before you move on, right? Right...
ES: Thanks Rik, it's been a pleasure chatting with you.
Torment Official Website: http://www.corpusnet.com/torment/
Mara's Torment mp3's: http://www.mp3.com/marastorment
~interview by Eric Rasmussen
If you listen to enough Scholomance, you’ll probably start to develop a twitch. This is really some crazy music, but somehow, it works. Maybe just because there’s a certain honesty behind it, or because the composers have some real aim with their work. Whatever it is, Scholomance is a name that will most likely become more prominent as they continue to release great albums. Looking to find out more about the band, I interviewed Scott Crinklaw. He handles guitars, keyboards, piano, and percussion.
Eric: It's really difficult to label Scholomance. The best description I can come up with is some unholy combination of Cynic, Arcturus, and Children of Bodom. And even that comparison doesn't begin to cover the different facets of your music. What bands and styles of music have influenced you? Is there anything else (non-musical) that has been inspirational?
Scott: Our influences to play metal go back many years really. We've all been playing in bands for around 12 years or more. Early influences to start playing were Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Kiss, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, and old Metallica. Later we got into death metal when it started to come out and were always into the technical bands like Death, Athiest, Cynic, Obliveon, Supuration, Malevolent Creation, etc. Right now I'm listening to new stuff by Arch Enemy, Virulence, The Dillinger Escape Plan, As The Sun Sets, Cave In, Vortex, and Winds. We keep an open mind about what we listen to. We also listen to tons of Shrapnel bands and solo artists as well as Celtic music, classical, and a bit of alternative like Bjork and Tori Amos. Non-musical influences are actually the greater driving force behind me personally as I don't wish to sound like anyone else. Life influences us, people, social interaction, injustice, religion, hypocrisy, lies and truth, lust, love, and hate. Those are usually the things that bring out the most aggression in this band.
Eric: You do some of the best drum programming I've heard in metal. If it weren't for the technical aspect and precision of it, I might have never even noticed there wasn't a real drummer in the band. Are you interested in expanding on the programmed drumming, like with the more exotic sounding percussion in "The Next Step," or the industrial tinged intro of "The Psychology of Demons"? Or would you be more interested in using a real drummer in the future?
Scott: I'd say the programming will continue to get more complicated. Technology is certainly not something I'm afraid of utilizing so I'll use everything at my disposable to get the desired sounds. I try to keep things somewhat realistic and driving while maintaining a level of technicality that fits into the grand scheme. We are currently looking for a drummer for the next cd. This is a long way down the road, but we're keeping our eyes and ears open for the right person. Obviously they'd have to be an accomplished drummer and to add to that, we gotta have someone with nearly flawless meter for the kind of stuff we write. It's possible this may not even happen as finding the right person for us is going to be a huge challenge. If we can't find anyone I'll continue to be the programmer as usual.
Eric: The keyboards play a much stronger role this time around. Especially on the second disc of The Immortality Murder, I really enjoyed the solo keyboard pieces. Do you and Jimmy Pitts split up the song writing pretty evenly?
Scott: Yeah, it's close to evenly split. We don't really have an orthodox writing style. He writes much differently than I do so our parts are usually composed completely apart from one another. We try sometimes to co-write songs but it's difficult to get together enough with different schedules. He does all the electric shred keyboard solos though. I'm more of a piano player than a keyboardist.
Eric: As with the debut album, I'm really impressed with your guitar playing. There seems to be a much more powerful feel to the guitars this time around, and I noticed there is more rhythm oriented playing than on "A Treatise On Love" (hence my earlier Cynic comparison). Why did you decide to move away from the frequent wild soloing on your debut album?
Scott: One major thing that we felt was wrong with the debut cd was that the guitars didn't sound strong enough. There were a lot of things that got buried on that album. If you hear those songs live, it's a whole different story. This time I wanted the guitars to be more up front and to have a much heavier feel. It seems like with a lot of technical music, the guitars just don't grab you by the throat so I wanted them out there strong. I wanted to try and get my live guitar sound as well, which we came really close to getting. I really enjoy soloing but this material just didn't warrant it as much as A Treatise On Love. The lyrics and riffs were so much darker and more ominous that a lot of solos may have taken away from that feel. My piano parts were also more challenging and so a balance was needed between the guitars and pianos too. I may well go crazy and do a lot of complicated solos on the next album!
Eric: What prompted you to include an all instrumental second disc with this release? Personally, I think it adds a lot to the value of the album. I listen to both discs equally.
Scott: Mainly for me, it was something I wanted to do for my family and some close friends. You can probably guess our parents and other family members wonder what the hell is up with the harsh vocals. So this is something they can listen to. We also were considering the progressive fans out there that couldn't handle the more aggressive vocals. We sort of have two different fan bases, those being the prog fans and the death & black metal fans. Then we decided to do the piano improvs to add something extra to the instrumental disc as Jimmy and I both really enjoy classical music on its own. We even left all the mistakes on the instrumental cd to give it more of a live feel. It all turned out pretty good and may be something we'll try out again in the future.
Eric: Some parts of your lyrics sound very anti-Christian. Others make me wonder if perhaps you're questioning your beliefs or just exploring several avenues of thought. Can you offer some insight on what lyrical aims you have? Is the idea of religion being used as a metaphor, or is it a literal discussion?
Scott: Religion and spirituality play a huge role in our lyrics. While it's not still something I wish to debate all the time, we all still get rather irritated with religious beliefs in this country. I don't have a problem saying we're anti-christian, but I don't want people to get the idea we're pro-satanism or any of that nonsense either. We are absolutely not a satanic band. We tend to pick apart the flaws of all organized religion as a whole. You could say we're just for free thinking and strength in the individual, which is a rare thing these days. It can get very literal but it's also metaphorical in many instances. Religion plays a part in the first four songs on this album in that it is something the character in the lyrics is strugging with, and something that's driving him further into madness. I got to incorporate some of my own beliefs into the lyrics while also trying to pen things as this character would experience and perceive them. When our new website is done, you'll be able to understand some parts a bit better as there will be some additions and clarifications to the lyrics. With the other songs that aren't part of the concept, you'll be able to find more literal interpretations of religion within the lines themselves. We don't have any real aims with what we say. We write what we feel and we add them to the songs as they fit.
Eric: This is a bit of an aside - but one of my friends is still twitching after having heard one of your tracks (in a good way, that is). The complexity and technical aspect can be disorienting at times, at least on the first few listens. This definitely helps to make a more extreme statement than otherwise possible. How do you think that aspect of the music fits with the lyrical message and cover art?
Scott: We don't mind disorienting people at all! We like music that takes a while to figure out - the stuff that you can keep finding new things in months after you get it. It's difficult to find music like that. I haven't really had that experience as a listener since Gorguts "Obscura" came out. Our new cd is really quite heavy but it also ended up very complex, so it's extreme in several ways at once. With technical music like ours, it would be silly to have simplistic music and artwork. The lyrics and artwork have to be in the same league. Luckily that comes naturally for us. The lyrics for The Immortality Murder and the artwork are made to feed off one another. I spent a lot of time working on the layout and getting everything to look as it should. My other passions include drawing, painting, and digital art so I of course wanted everything close to perfect as I could get it. Overall, the entire cd is a very complex puzzle, and there are more pieces coming!
Eric: Are you working on or planning any side projects? I really enjoyed the more atmospheric and electronic/industrial tinged moments from the debut (mainly in "The Psychology of Demons..." and use of samples), it'd be neat to see you expand on those sounds. They seem to have less of a place with what might follow The Immortality Murder.
Scott: Actually I think you might enjoy our first promo demo tape. It's got an industrial edge that is much more focused on the keyboards and electronics. It's a very cold sounding release and I am still proud of it. We've come a million miles since then, but to me it stands on its own and completely captured what we wanted to do at that time. As far as side projects, we don't really have anything that we plan on releasing in a major way right now. Jimmy worked with Ron Jarzombek of Spastic Ink for his next album as you may know. Personally I've wanted to do something more guitar oriented on the side, minus the keyboards and a bit more rhythm based - still technical, but more in the vein of stuff like The Dillinger Escape Plan or Cave In. I'm really into samples as I'm a big movie and film buff. We ended up not using any on The Immortality Murder since the vocals turned out so good, but we may use them again someday if there's a place for them. There's always cool stuff to find a use for, or we may create our own cinematic enhancements.
Eric: Your debut sure demanded attention. In comparison, the new release is a lot more organized and thoughtful, there seems to be a greater emphasis on the songwriting. What direction are you headed with the sound now?
Scott: Actually we kind of feel the songs on the debut are better written, whereas the new material is crazier and more disjointed than ever, but it's nice to know people can get into the flow of the new songs. I'm not sure where the new material will go. You can bet it's still going to be technical as hell and always heavy. I expect the guitar riffs to get somewhat weirder and probably more disharmonic. I'm messing with some odd tunings lately. We also plan to make the next album a full concept piece as our two cds so far are just partial concept albums. I've got a lot of ideas for the concept and it will likely be something very interesting indeed.
Eric: Any final thoughts you want to share with your listeners?
Scott: I just want to encourage people to give us a shot and check out our cds. If any musicians in technical bands are reading and wanna swap cds, drop me a line too as I love to trade. We like to hear from our existing fans too and try to keep in touch with everyone. Thanks for this interview to you Eric!
Eric: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, and best of luck with your music!
(guitars, keys, percussion) - XscholomanceX@aol.com
Jimmy (vocals, keys) - email@example.com
http://www.theendrecords.com/html/scholomance.html (new Flash site)
www.angelfire.com/sc/scholomance/main.html (currently being rebuilt)
(photos courtesy/property of WASP and D.U.S.T.)
D.U.S.T was formed in 1998 in Cardiff, Wales by Mikey (vocals) and Naamah (bass) as a means to live out their larger than life musical visions. The addition of guitarist Xtian clinched the deal and by 2000, the exuberant three-piece shook the dust of the old millenium off their heels and rushed forward on the crest of a glam-rock riff.
"I met Naamah whilst still in another band, a sort of dark indie band, more Radiohead/Placeboesque)." says Mikey. " The band had (for me) run it's course and Naamah and me decided to form D.U.S.T. as an antidote to the way the new alternative scene was going. We had a few guitarists before we met Xtian. When we started working with X, things just clicked into place. We had it in our heads that we were going to create a large scale show for the smaller venue and hopefully we're getting closer to it all the time!"
D.U.S.T are signed to Wasp Factory Records in the UK, an indie label established by the enigmatic Lee Chaos as a means of giving a voice to an eclectic assortment of bands. Under their auspices, D.U.S.T released a fierce, gripping debut album entitled "From the Sublime to the Obscene." With their shimmering guitars, driving bass rhythms and plangent vocals, it's no surprise that the goth scene in the UK has come to regard D.U.S.T as one of their own. Mikey's reaction to being asked if D.U.S.T are a goth band was pleasantly even-handed and open-minded, given the tendency of many other bands to run screaming at the very suggestion.
"Shit kicking drug guzzling TVs out of windows Rock 'n' Roll ain't dead. It's just plastered on some eyeliner and slipped into a slinky little PVC number..." - WASP band bio page
"Ah! The "G" word!! Hehehee! It's one of those questions that usual spells professional suicide for any band (Goth or not) - deciding on what genre you are!!! I don't even know, to be honest."
"Goth seems to mean so many different things to different people." he continues, "I know many Goths who would argue that D.U.S.T. are definitive Nu Trad Goth, then on the other hand, there are those that argue that we are not Goth at all. I've never really understood it myself, I just like the idea that fans of music that I like are also fans of D.U.S.T. The Goth audience here in England are a varied bunch - yet they all seem to accept the sub-genres of the scene (let's face it - the scene is no where near big enough not to!!!). They're also a united front, hehehe!! They stick together even when they're bitching at each other!!! As for D.U.S.T. fans, they have the strangest sense of humour I've ever seen! They all have a sense of the madness that we advocate!"
The band was lucky enough to play at the most recent of the legendary Whitby Gothic Weekends, which Mikey described as "a bizarre experience. Whitby doesn't appear to exist in normal time and space!! The audience, generally speaking, varies from 100% mad for the show and 100% apathetic to music in general but we played a good set and the crowd were up for it. We had a good Rock'n'Roll weekend with our good friends Swarf playing the same bill we kicked up quite a riot backstage!"
Continuing his musings, Mikey, who speaks of the gothic and industrial with a mix of pragmatism and affection, commented that the British music press tend to distort the state of the scene.
"There's a misrepresentation of the goth/industrial scene in the British media, especially in places like Kerrang, and NME, that it's a failing scene.", he explains. "It's not a failing scene at all, but more of an underground scene that is, for the most part, happy to be so. It doesn't want huge exposure because then it will just be glossed over, like metal was in the 80's."
At this point, the interview devolved into a brief 80's lovefest, wherein Mikey confessed his love for early Motley Crue, and who was I to argue, being a bit of an Alice Cooper fan myself? He bemoaned the way the style and energy of the early glam-metal acts was quickly taken over by the dreaded "hair bands", while pointing out that the glam aesthetic has been making a comeback with the likes of Placebo and Orgy.
"As soon as the glam rock flagship was out there, there were so many imitators who are terrible. What was Poison all about? They glossed over the whole rebellious glam rock punk thing, and I would hate for that to happen to the goth/industrial scene because there's so much raw talent there."
"There was sense of pride too in the 80's, a sense of ego, do you know what I mean?" he asks rhetorically, sounding wistful. " 'Look at us! Aren't we wonderful?' Rather than putting your scruffiest clothes and singing about how crap the world's going to be for your children."
"There's no sense of decadence anymore, and there hasn't been for a long time. There's no celebration anymore, there's a lot of negativity and personally, I couldn't get onstage and put a lot of passion and energy into something I hated that much. If I'm angry, that's fine, because anger involves energy, but I couldn't imagine a whole set of anger and misery. How are you supposed to enthuse your audience with that?"
A second album is in the works, a darker, heavier album which Mikey describes as sounding more like their live performances. He feels that the diversity of styles that D.U.S.T travels through is one of the band's primary strengths.
"In the 70's, Queen and Bowie did so many different types of music, but it was always Queen, always Bowie, and that's hopefully the way we're going with this, where we'll have lots of different styles but always with the same kind of nuances, the same kind of edge that we've always implied. A major label might pick up on just one aspect of that, and want us to make a whole album of just that one style, which for us would be a major compromise."
With that caveat in mind, Mikey sounds prepared for any success and challenges the future might bring, and offers a final thought on the current musical climate.
"I also think that we don't have the snobbery we used to with regards to crossing genre borders. Everything used to be quite single-minded in the 90's."
- Label home page
http://www.D-U-S-T.co.uk - Band home page
with The End Records
hearing enough material from The End Records, I decided it would be a good
idea to interview the label. Why? Well, personally, I can’t seem to figure
out how they find so many good bands. Their most recent releases especially
are some of the best CDs in metal and all the hybrid genres surrounding
it that I have heard in a long time. To find out more about the label itself
and how/why they get and release all this good stuff in the US (as the
bands are from countries all over), here’s our interview with The End:
StarVox: How long has your label been around? What inspired you to start it originally?
The End Records: The whole idea developed in 1997. It first began as a project to help some unsigned bands (Mental Home, Sculptured, Nokturnal Mortum, Odes Of Ecstasy) get some exposure in the scene. After a lot of research, I and my friend from college, Sergey Makhotkin, decided that we may as well just start a label and release the albums ourselves. The first release, Mental Home “Vale”, came out in January of 1998. It only seems like yesterday so I guess time flies fast ….
SV: I think most anyone familiar with your catalogue will want an answer to this one - how is it you have found so many great bands? They seem to come from all over the world.
ER: Basically we will sign a band if we like it. Our utmost priorities are musical talent, originality and artistic integrity. We knew from the very beginning what we were after so we made a name as a label that releases quality music. We receive tons and tons of promos and we just get to select the ones we like the best. There is no magic formula. We release music we like. We try to be professional and always work closely with our bands. In fact, our bands do tend to recommend other bands to us (i.e. Sculptured helped us discover Scholomance).
SV: What are some of the 2002 releases we can look forward to?
ER: As you know we are releasing Scholomance “The Immortality Murder” and Green Carnation “Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness” in January. In February it’s Virgin Black “Sombre Romantic”. I would not elaborate on them as I believe you are reviewing them in this issue.
April, it’s Winds “Reflections Of The I”. Out of Norway, and consisting
of exceptionally established musicians, they offer an astonishing mix of
classical music, with dark progressive metal.
In May, it would be the new (and it seems highly anticipated) album by Agalloch “The Mantle”. You cannot imagine how many e-mails I get about this release.
those not familiar with the band they offer a very emotional style of dark,
melancholic folk metal.
Besides that, there will be a release by Ninth Level and possibly Sculptured and Love History. We are working on a couple of other things but since nothing is confirmed yet I cannot reveal and details yet.
SV: What kind of distribution are your CDs getting? I've noticed that Rasputins (a diverse music store in Northern California) is carrying several of your releases now.
ER: We just secured a nationwide distribution with The Telegraph/IDN which we are very happy with. So far they have been very supportive and they seem to be able to get our releases in all the mainstream stores. Besides that we also sell to various underground/indie/metal shops directly. This one works in conjuction with our online mail-order (The Omega)
SV: The press response you've been getting lately has been overwhelming, you must feel like you're doing something right! How does it feel to see The End finally get so much recognition?
ER: Yes, it seems that 95% of the comments we receive are positive and many times the reviews too good to be true. To me it seems that we always had good following but now more people know about us. We also grew as a label, we are more experienced and at the same time can afford better studio budgets for our bands, more advertisement, etc. We are still a small label though and we will always focus in releasing good music.
SV: Is there anything else you'd like to tell to fans/customers/metal warriors?
ER: Just a big thanks for all the support and if you have any question let us know. You can always get info, updates, MP3 tracks, etc from our site at: www.theendrecords.com
Icon of Coil
@ The CatWalk, Seattle, WA. 12/8
~reviewed by BlackOrpheus
(photos by Jessica Dana)
The night started out like so many others in Seattle. There was a light drizzle, but it didn't seem to dampen the spirits of early ticket buyers and their tardy, but hopeful peers.
Doors opened at 9pm, and I was swept in on the black clad crest of eager show goers. I mixed and mingled for an hour, availing myself of the bars ample offerings. It must have been a poor club night elsewhere as this seemed to be the citys largest draw on this night.
Local band Glis opened, and played a capable, though not particularly inspiring set. Glis possesses technical skill undoubtedly, but it lacks what VNV, and Icon had in spades: a stage "show." I'd like to see this promising band, make more of an effort to develop rapport with the audience. This could be accomplished a few different ways, the most immediate thing I thought of was to move around the stage more. They were more stationary by comparison with the acts that followed them. A very few bands can connect with the audience by virtue of the music alone. The passion and excitement generated on stage, is directly proportional to the audience response. Glis has a real asset in An'drea, whose vocals and presence hold the promise of better shows to come.
Icon of Coil. I own "Serenity Is The Devil." I'm chagrined to reveal that it was an album that I hadn't really connected with and I'm at a loss to explain why. That is...until they took the stage. Andy LaPlegua is a gifted and charismatic showman, and his enthusiasm was communicated successfully to a crowd that grew ever more responsive with each successive song. They ran through most of the track listing on "Serenity Is The Devil" with standouts like Shallow Nation and Floorkiller. I might add that I was fortunate enough to meet LaPlegua and Sebastian Komor and found them to be very friendly and down to earth. As I listen to "Serenity Is The Devil" now, I have one final piece to add: if you like well crafted, infectious industrial dance tunes, go and buy this. It's excellent.
I had the pleasure of seeing VNV Nation about a year or so ago for the first time. That show was a benchmark for me at the time. This latest show was no exception. The set was by turns energetic and thought-emotion provoking. VNV Nation is fortunate in its ability to trek through the shadows that blanket the psyche, and return again to report on them. More than that, they can still find heart enough to fiddle while Rome burns and inspire the audience to listen AND dance with them. There are few bands in the genre that can tackle the subjects they do, while maintaining audience rapport. My favorite song of the evening was "Carbon," a song I've been as yet unable to place. It was as sobering as it was stirring. The lights came down, and there was the music and the voice. But what a voice! It was as though it expressed in proxy the very lament, the pain of this very planet we call home. The verses were punctuated with the projection of facts and statistics on air quality, etc. behind Ronan. My attention was held on a mental and emotional level, and the connection between artist and listener was complete. It was one of the most striking moments I've ever xperienced at a show. The show was not sparing with the dance singles everyone expected, but this moment did it for me. If you aren't familiar with VNV Nation, they come with my strong recommendation.
Icon of Coil: iconofcoil.com
New York City
~by Kevin Filan
(photos property and courtesy of the Contempt Website)
Conceived in 1998 by a loosely-knit gaggle of Goths, Contempt is one of New York's longest-running Gothic/Industrial events. The venues and the dates have changed over the years, but the name and the core idea have remained. Contempt was founded as an alternative to New York's infamous Scene Politics and General Bullshite. In a city filled with egos and ruled by greed, Contempt is a nonprofit group effort, a free-form cooperative which welcomes input from party-goers.
This month's incarnation of Contempt is being held at Twirl, a club which has become home to several events left high and dry after the legendary Mother closed its doors. (Those of you who haven't yet heard of Mother are invited to check out http://www.mothernyc.com and see for yourself what the fuss was all about). For most of its history Contempt was held at Mother; since then it has moved between Twirl and the Frying Pan, a boat moored off the Chelsea Piers.
For those of you who don't live in New York, a history lesson is in order. Cabaret licenses were first introduced during the Harlem Renaissance 1920s, in an effort to keep amorous Negroes from getting too chummy with the White women. Nobody enforced them for decades, until Mayor Rudy Giuliani came along. Without an expensive and difficult to acquire cabaret license, a New York bar can be shut down if three or more of its patrons are moving rhythmically at any one time. Absolution, another popular Goth night, was forced to close after police raided CBGB's Gallery. Fortunately, Twirl has a cabaret license, so we can stomp, jerk around and screw in imaginary light bulbs to our heart's content without fear.
cover charge is reasonable, $7 or $5 with flyer or printed email invite.
Like many other New York Goth events, Contempt is nonprofit: unlike those
events, the folks in charge set it up that way. $20 or $30 covers
are not unheard of in New York; Contempt keeps their door charge low by
avoiding comps and guest lists and by relying on volunteer help.
It helps take
some of the sting out of Twirl's drink prices ($6.00 for a Red Bull?! $4.00 for a bottle of water?!?).
codes have been the subject of innumerable flame wars and arguments, particularly
in New York. Events without dress codes all too often are overrun
with fratboys who have heard that Sexy Deth Chix put out; events with dress
codes shut out people coming to the club from work, etc. Since its
inception Contempt has had a "no dress code" policy. I still note
that a lot
of people have turned out dressed to the nines; there are nearly as many creative and sexy outfits here as at "velvet rope" events like ZenWarp or Click & Drag. The founders of Contempt, and many of the regulars, are "old school" Goths. There's plenty of eyeliner, velvet and PVC... and not a lot of "Hey, dude, Halloween's over."
Unlike most New York clubs, Contempt's DJs not only take requests -- they encourage them! Ideally, this would mean you'd hear lots of talented but lesser-known artists, interesting obscure tracks, and homegrown music promoted by friends. Sometimes this happens; other times you get the usual requests for And One, Covenant, VNV Nation, etc.. Still, the mix is never boring... and if you don't like it, you can always bring your own CDs next month.
is set up for comfort; there are lots of large, soft couches around, particularly
in the basement area. DJ Puzzleboy is spinning a "chill lounge" set,
throwing a lot of trip-hop and ambient music into the mix. It sounds
great, and it reminds me just how much "Gothic" music has changed over
the past few years. Industrial has influenced/blended with Psytrance
Detroit Techno, while Goth incorporated synthpop and 80s nostalgia, and now illbient and world music. Some purists bitch about the Good Old Days; to me, all this merging-and-blending suggests that the genre remains alive and vital.
For three years now Contempt has managed to keep up an "old timer's club" without sliding into "the Contempt clique." It remains one of the most popular, comfortable, and accessible events in New York's Goth scene. If you're visiting New York and get a chance, you should definitely check out Contempt.