Immortal is one of the great black metal bands of our time. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're a driving force in Scandinavian metal and they won't go unnoticed. Before seeing the band live we had a chance to chat with Abbath back stage. Abbath handles all guitars and vocals in Immortal, and he had a lot to say about his work.
Eric: How satisfied are you with the new album?
Abbath: Well, 80%.
Eric: So is there anything you'd change about it?
Abbath: There are a couple of songs that would have been much better if we took time. But we are definitely on the right path, on the right track. We improve every time. Also working with Peter, so we're definitely in the right direction but it's not ultimate. There are a couple of songs still which never came out the way we wanted.
Eric: Did you like working with Nuclear Blast this time around on?
Abbath: Nuclear Blast is definitely the right choice for us, you know. It was time for us to move on and Nuclear Blast is the perfect ally.
Dibrom: So it definitely helped increase what you guys were able to produce on this next album you think? It had an influence on this?
Abbath: Our album gets distributed much more now. Like Osmosis they don't have distribution in the states for example. Our music and all you know, albums will reach out to more people. Also, Nuclear Blast pay much better. Because it's a life, we live this. It's a full time job.
Eric: It is a lot harder to get ahold of Osmosis releases here.
Abbath: Yeah I know, it's crazy. I can't believe it still hasn't got any distribution here. Our back catalogue is impossible for Americans to get. So it kinda sucks.
Eric: Do you think the better production represents your sound better? You know, there are a lot of people that like the older black metal production which is a little rawer.
Abbath: We were never satisfied with Pure Holocaust. People say it's a classic, cool sound and all that. I hate the sound on Pure Holocaust, it sucks. Great songs on all of our albums but I hate the sound of it. We don't want to change anything we leave it. We don't play so many old songs on this tour. We got a new bass player and we're also sick of playing some of those old songs. We are planning to go home to rehearse some of those old songs we never play live. And also change some of the bass parts to make them more powerful so there's not this big gap live between the newer stuff and the older stuff. So all of it sounds powerful.
Abbath: We already have done that with "Battles of the North and Blashkryh" which we play in this set. They sound much more powerful now. On the first albums before we started to with Peter we were pretty much producing ourselves. We had no guidance, we had no idea how to change some of the guitar to make it sound better. This and that, we were very inexperienced. First thing to start working with Peter was the perfect choice because we had this great dialogue. He has told us starting to what we need to what so it's getting better and better you know.
Eric: The guitar sounds more powerful this time around.
Abbath: What magazine is this?
Abbath: The sound on Sons of Northern Darkness is killer. It definitely has the sound it deserves. It still irritates me and Horgh. Other guys you know they love the whole album. But two songs there never came out the way we wanted, it really irritates us.
Eric: There's more of an epic feeling on this album too, on some of the tracks.
Abbath: Yes, also we tried playing more heavy stuff this time, make it more complex, more interesting. Because we have a very wide inspiration. I also think this is probably one of the most intense Immortal albums, even though we have slowed down. We have done so much blast stuff. We ve some on the album but when we do blast it has to be ultimate. On Blizzard Beasts for example everthing has to be [hums fast rhythm]. We think differently now, but we are still Immortal.
Eric: Slowing down makes the faster moments all the more powerful too.
Abbath: "Tyrants" was supposed to be a blast song, with the main riff there was supposed to be a blast beat too. But we changed it, we tried to make it heavier, and I think it's way more interesting.
Eric: So does Sons of Northern Darkness pretty much represent the way you're headed?
Abbath: Yeah it also has opened up ideas for where we want to go now on the next album. We were going that direction but we will go heavier. We will still have the intensity and blast stuff but we will make it more atmospheric, more heavy, more intense stuff for the next album. We will experiment a lot, you know, with the old traditions.
Dibrom: So you're trying to introduce more variation?
Abbath: Well we are not *trying* to do, we are doing. We just follow the, what do you call it, the instincts. It's not like we have to do this and that but we have this feeling. I only started to work on songs, new stuff, and it's wide, very wide. Is it hot here or is it me?
Dibrom: It's kinda hot haha.
Abbath: "Antartica" never came out the way we wanted, same with "In The Kingdom Cold". But I always liked the song. It's different for me and Horgh because we work with the songs. We like the songs but they are not like all that we really wanted them to come out. I guess all bands have songs on their album which never came out the way they wanted.
Dibrom: Always striving for perfection...
Eric: They still do fit on the album really well I think.
Abbath: Yeah they do, somehow. But... it irritates us you know, it could have been ultimate. It feels like we repeat ourselves too much on those songs.
Eric: Compared to older releases you have been moving towards a lot more variation in general.
Abbath: Yeah, it's a lot to have seven albums, and we feel like this is just the beginning. We have a lot to learn still, a long way to go. We don't feel any stagnation in anyway.
Dibrom: That's cool. So you still have lots of inspiration and ideas?
Abbath: Oh yeah. In two weeks when this tour is finished we are going to work two months. So I know that I will write a lot when we come home.
Dibrom: How has the tour been so far?
Abbath: Tour has been really good. The European tour was a big success. Over here it's interesting, it's different. Can't compare Europe to the United States. We got off to a slow start with Manowar but now things seem to loosen up, especially Manowar. We've got three bands on our bus, good bus. Cool guys, two other bands, there's no fucking around. And it seems like we have a lot of time to make this tour work. In some places there haven't been much people. In Kansas, 75 people. But everybody did a full show, even Manowar. 75 people and they gave a full show.
Dibrom: That's cool to see.
Abbath: Yeah. Manowar, for them this is like a warmup tour, like a rehearsal tour for them. Because there album is not out yet. When it's out they will tour Europe and then they will come back here for more. For us it's more like a "Hello, we are Immortal" kind of tour you know haha. Even though we were here in 2000 we did so little. We definitely had to come back and do more at the end of the year.
Eric: This is just your second time out here for a tour then?
Abbath: Yep. In 2000 we only did seven shows on the east coast and one show in L.A., then seven shows in Mexico and that was it. So yeah it's very interesting. We find real dedicated audiences everywhere, even though it's not so many. For example in L.A. it was crazy. Last time we played in L.A. we headlined for 400 people. We played at the Palace and it was awesome, you know the Palace in L.A.?
Abbath: And also Dallas was awesome. We played in Arizona, that was cool. It's a little up and down. Like yesterday we played here and there were only about 100 people. Today they say it will be packed. People also want to see Manowar and since it's Friday they waited till today.
Eric: I think this will probably fill up tonight.
Abbath: I don't know why they set up two shows for us here.
Eric: I've noticed they've been doing that with most bands coming up here now. I'm not sure why they do that either.
Abbath: Like today there will be no space on stage for us. It's going to be a good show anyway. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of Manowar freaks there today. So far the Manowar audience, fans have reacted very positively to our band. Also Joey DeMaio, he really likes Immortal stuff. We played three festivals in 1999 and in the first festival there standing on the side Joey came over after the show and he liked some of our stuff and I said yeah, why shouldn't you, a lot of our stuff was inspired by old Manowar stuff. For example on Withstand the Fall of Time [voices the riff], that was inspired by "Battle Hymns." Some Maiden stuff you know... we never really thought about it but you know Solarfall? [sings the guitar theme] A guy came over to me and said "that sounds pretty much like Where Eagles Dare." We are making it our own way, all bands are inspried by other bands.
Abbath: Also I called my mother in Dallas and Joey DeMaio had been on Norwegian television. And he said hey, we're going to do a tour with Immortal, good band. I heard from a lot of people they were assholes and they support bands like shit. But not with us, we haven't experienced that. Actually they're really nice guys.
Eric: And which other bands are here? Catastrophic and...?
Abbath: Catastrophic and Havoc Hate, great guys. It's a very interesting tour actually. It will be good to come home anyway though. Two more weeks. Come home and take a break. We have Wacken festival in Germany, [lists festivals in Belgium, Germany, and Holland], four big festivals. Two of them with Slayer, about time I get to see Slayer and probably meet them. They're the band I respect the most on this planet. It will be really good for me. They can tell me to fuck off, I won't care.
[laughs all around]
From that point the interview portion of the conversation ended. We couldn't help but note the irony in what Abbath had said about meeting Slayer. After all, we were thinking it'd be ok for Abbath to be a jerk and banish us from his presence as long as we got to meet him. As it turns out, Abbath is a real down to earth musician, and was a lot of fun to talk to.
It's when he puts on his corpse paint, perhaps first rushing into a telephone booth, that he transforms into the black metal warrior we know best.
Immortal - Official Website:
The Revival and Restoration
of Real Music:
An Interview with David Zimmerman and Johnny Indovina of Memory Burn
(photos by Loreliz Satterlee courtesy the Memory Burn website)
As someone who likes real music, i.e. not created completely on computers, it has been a sad couple of years. The proliferation of music that is not from the soul but from a hard drive can make a person like me doubt that real music will survive. But having received the CD Memory Burn, I know that real music, which comes from the heart, the soul, places deep within, using real instruments as the tools for expression….that is never going to die.
Memory Burn is a band that
is so filled with talent that it is a kind of dream come true. Johnny Indovina,
the fabulous vocalist of Human Drama, Steve Canton who is a fixture in
Tori Amos projects, Raging Slab drummer Rob Cournoyer, bassist Mike Mallory
and pianist Dave Zimmerman, both formerly of Miracle Mile all come together
and give breadth and life to Dave Zimmerman's vision of a screenplay exploring
the way a person deals with grief and loss in their lives. (see the review)
With thousands miles separating us, a live interview, was not in the cards, but Dave Zimmerman and Johnny Indovina were
kind enough to give me some of their time and reply to an e-mailed interview.
Jezebel: I have read through your press material and the interview on your website about you, David, wanting to write a screenplay and this album being that. But what prompted you to write about this subject matter of dealing with loss and grief?
David: I have always found myself more comfortable expressing those subjects in my music compared to more positive ideas. This may be partly due to life experiences, however these emotions seem more intriguing to me. In a film sense I have never been attached to "Hollywood endings". I have always preferred films such as "Last Tango in Paris", "Apocalypse Now", or "Deerhunter"
Jezebel: As the music for the screenplay has been written, is the script far behind? Do you have the storyline set?
David: I have the storyline, however the screenplay is in process. I am writing it myself and it's my first, so it may take awhile.
Jezebel: The idea of dealing with loss and grief has been associated with the infamous Five Stages of Grief, developed by Dr. Kubler-Ross. They being Denial, Anger/Resentment, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. did you use these at all? And even if you haven't, do you think you have covered all of these stages and with songs?
David: Although I didn't use the stages as a guideline, they do apply here in my story, albeit the songs are not necessarily in order. "Time" and "Beneath the Sand" would be Denial. "Fear" and "Why" would be Anger/Resentment. "Stillborn Dreams" would be Bargaining. "My Private Hell" would be Depression. "Freedom" would be acceptance.
Jezebel: You have assembled quite a cast of distinctive and talented musicians to work on this project. Did they have a chance to influence the writing of the music and lyrics? What kind of distinctive "touches" do you think each of them put onto the project.
David: The cast didn't influence the writing with the exception of Johnny, whose voice I heard in my mind while I was composing the songs. Additionally, his lyrics have influenced my own and I felt the need to excel in that area in order to interest him into doing the project. I do seriously believe that each musician added something special to the CD. In Steve Caton's case, his guitar work was so strong and expressive that I can't imagine what the album would be in his absence. He really was able to show his skill in blending his classic sounding melodies into Johnny's vocals. Rob Cournoyer added his steady jazz rooted influence to bring the songs together and more importantly, to keep them together in a rhythmic context. Mike Mallory played his bass to perfection, adding his melodic lines to blend the rhythm and vocals seamlessly together. I'd like to add that Jim Wirt did an unbelievable job on the backing vocals. He wrote those vocal parts himself, and added a whole new element to my music. I feel blessed to have that cast on my CD.
Jezebel: Johnny, with Human Drama, you are the head, the leader and the driving force. What was it like to give up that role and take on someone else's material and idea for an album?
Johnny: The songs. I think David wrote a fantastic album. There are so few these days. I love the idea of a "concept" album and enjoyed every minute of it. Just being the singer for a change was a nice thing. It was also one of the easiest production jobs I have ever had. David along with Steve Caton, Rob Cournoyer, Michael Mallory and Jim Wirt made the job a breeze.
Jezebel: The music on the
CD is so reminiscent of those that you mention as your musical influences,
Beatles, Pink Floyd,
Led Zeppelin, Stan Getz, ELP. How do you feel that you have taken those influences and evolved the sounds that are core of those artists?
David: The thing that stands out in my mind is that we were able to blend all of those influences into one project where they all can be heard together. I think it was natural for me to want to express that, considering how much I love those artists.
Jezebel: Johnny, on this album, I hear a David Bowie-like sound in the quality of your voice, a la the Ziggy Stardust era. Did you approach this project differently vocally and tailor it to the style and influences of David?
Johnny : Not at all. I took what I felt was David's intention to communicate, and tried my best to that. It is a nice compliment to be mentioned as "Bowie-like" though.
Jezebel: What kind of feedback have you had on the album?
David: So far the reviews have been excellent. It seems to appeal in different ways to many people. A good deal of them have referred to the album as very classic sounding and emotional.
Jezebel: Are there plans for further Memory Burn albums? And would it be with the same line-up?
David: Yes, there will be more Memory burn. Yes, with the same lineup. My feeling is that if it's not broken, don't break it.
Jezebel: What about touring? Are there plans?
David: There are no standing plans for a tour at present, however it could happen.
Jezebel: Johnny, I can't ~not~ ask about Human Drama. Momento's En el Tiempo is a best of album of live performances, but there hasn't been a studio album from Human Drama in quite a while. Will we be delighted by one in the future?
Johnny: We actually have finished the new CD and are negotiating for release. We are very happy with and cannot wait for it to be available. Tentatively titled "Cause and Effect."
Jezebel: For both of you. I know that David, you have been asked this before, but perhaps you could elaborate. Where do you both feel the music you create sits in the music world?
David: I believe that my music encompasses a classic, yet fresh approach to a changing industry. There are so many "Vibe" bands out there that lack substance. I feel my songs have a more sophisticated framework, both musically and lyrically, which gives the listener more to relate to. I believe that this is the kind of album in which one can hear more as they continue to listen… say the 5th or 6th time; it may change for them, and continue to change. I believe each song is stronger within the body of the other songs compared to each individually. As far as the place that Memory Burn sits in the music world… I'm not sure yet. Let's see what happens…
Johnny: If you are asking about Human Drama, I think that there will always be a place for heartfelt honest music. We have found a place in many people's heart, and I hope these folks continue to spread the word of our existence. As with Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, great music, no matter how underground, will survive the ages. I hope Human Drama carries on long after I am gone.
Jezebel: What do you think of the music world today and where do you think it is going?
David: I think it's somewhat like the stock market has been in the last 2 years. It seems to be going in the "Correction" mode. I think it may take about 5-10 years for the big record labels to run their course and perhaps it will be all independent labels that pop out of the snow at the end. Technology has not been kind to the big labels, but for the small ones it's been very kind.
Johnny: Does no good to complain, so I will not. As I said above, great music and the artists that create it will always be around. I just hope the music industry make it a little easier to find these artists than they have recently.
Jezebel: How influenced are you both by the trends within the mainstream music world or do you take more from the past?
David: I take more from the past. I seem to be only minimally interested in what's happening in the mainstream. Perhaps that will change.
Johnny: All from the past. When commercial music was art.
Jezebel: Human Drama has a rather large gothic following, do you think that this music will attract those same admirers? Or is it for a different audience all together?
David: I believe that Human Drama fans will appreciate Memory Burn for many of the same reasons they appreciate Human Drama. It's not the same band, but it has a lot of similarities. I'm sure there are going to be some that don't agree, however mostly it's been positive in that regard.
Jezebel: Johnny, what influenced your decision to work outside the Human Drama realm?
Johnny: Again, great songs. That and I love to work on the creation of albums. I have produced a few things and think that may be where my future lies.
Jezebel: A pet subject of mine is the usage of computers in music. I can see the need and the necessity of using them in production. But what about in creation of music?
David: I come from the old school of good old-fashioned "Hash it out on your instrument" style of writing. It works for me, so I'm not planning on changing that for the time being. Perhaps for some it can be a tool in which they may be able to do things with programming that they would not be able to do live. I can see that as being an advantage for that type of composer.
Johnny: Should be no rules, though I think that some folks have come to rely on the computer a little too much in the creation. Just my opinion. I think the art of songwriting has taken a step backwards.
Not with them around……with people like Johnny Indovina and Dave Zimmerman around the future is looking quite good for music….
(photos by Tina Korhonen courtesy of KM's website)
There are times when being a journalist can be very dangerous. You will have to have your wits about you, check over your shoulder for someone following you, keep your eyes peeled for enemy fire. You could be sent to Afghanistan. Perhaps the Gaza strip. Belfast at the height of the conflict.
An interview with Killing Miranda.
On and off, I have had my experiences with KM…Irish Dave and myself and boyfriend drinking at the Dev. Belle walked with us to the tube one nite from the Dev. Years ago I offered a very drunk Rikki a candy at the Dev. And now, back to the Dev, I would be interviewing them together, collectively. (shit we REALLY need to find a new pub).
Individually, I knew these were great guys, but collectively, perhaps would they be too overwhelming for me? Rikki (Filthy Rikki, thank you very much) is known for being forthright with his opinion, a nice way of saying that he tells you what he fucking thinks and if you don't like it, fuck you. Belle, although always seemingly like a fragile flower, has an underlying tension about him that you know, if you hit the right buttons, he would explode. Irish Dave is a hard drinker, strong presence. Alien Dave is the dark horse of the group, looking seemingly young and innocent but with a real intensity to his playing. The reputation of the band proceeds them regularly. Hard hitting, no compromises, big time drinkers, womanisers on speed.
Look, I am only 5'2" on a real confident day….I was scared.
For apparently no reason.
This interview came about after talking to the band informally at the Judgement Day Festival in Austria. I think Rikki finally found a journalist who wasn't going to ask "what is your favourite colour?" (an all time favourite inside joke) and sent me an email after the festival agreeing to an interview and offering a no holds barred, nothing held back, nothing sacred interview.
And so….it began…..off to auspicious start with me forgetting to pull out the adapter and the first twenty minutes of the interview being lost. Irish Dave had to work so we were down one Miranda. And Alien Dave was stuck on a bus somewhere after a train crash in Potters Bar made his travel into London a nightmare. Down two Mirandas.
So I sat with Rikki, his girlfriend Charleen and Belle.
So - what did we lose in those twenty minutes? Only some of the best conversation between two former dj's. Belle had a famous stint in the Electric Ballroom on Friday nites, well before it became a nirvana for bad music and EBM. And Rikki had dj'd in college. Actually Irish Dave was a dj for years at Slimelight.
Rikki: We are NOT the Slimelight band.
Evidently that has been written more than once. So let us get this straight. Killing Miranda is NOT the Slimelight band or A Slimelight band. Yes, Irish Dave did dj there. Yes, the members of the band have frequented the place. But they neither were formed there nor live in the walls there (like some kind of gothic mice).
Back to djing. The conversation, especially as Belle described, "creating a flow of the music." A subject that really brought up the passion within Belle, he and Rikki both feel that djs in the London scene are failing at being djs. Playing crap music, not listening to the requests and likes/dislikes of their audiences.
More importantly is changes in their label. No longer with Nightbreed, they have left them and are seeking management with signing to a major label soon to follow.
One thing that has to be said about the band, which I learned during what became a very long evening, and experiences in Austria and with individual members, is that this is a band of individual personalities and egos. I don't want to say "Spice Girls" although we did joke about it. But there are very separate personalities here that actually do blend, meld and confront each other in such a way that makes a seriously interesting and provocative mix. I was soon to find out that everything you think about KM is true and everything you think about them is false.
We jumped in quickly, once the technical difficulties had been fixed and the drinks had been bought. There have been lots of changes for the band, many of them personal and probably the most important of them the new addition of Rikki's son, now nine-month-old Kiernan. Having a child and being a musician in a band is not easy, but "I have this big support network. We both have big families. It's easy to know people are going to help us out if I need to disappear."
But as we all know, it's more than who is going to baby-sit. "I don't know if it changed anything about the band. Personally. I wouldn't say it has exactly mellowed me because I am still as opinionated as ever. I'm still opinionated. I am still a nasty piece of work in some respects." And has the hard-hitting lifestyle that Rikki and his band members are known for changed? He admits to drinking less and has given up, sans one lapse, to the speed that made him paranoid. What it has done has actually affected the band in a positive way, "Yeah, I am more focussed and a lot more hardworking on the song writing side than I was. And I think that's going to show particularly, it began to show towards the last session of Transgression by Number and I think it will show seriously on this album that I am a lot more focussed and I lot more on the game (no, I am not a prostitute). I am a lot more on the ball." Yet, the decrease in drugs has not lessened the ego or confidence (call it what you will) of Rikki. "I have worked on my craft. I have not just sat there and said, 'I am a genius. I am good enough.' I think I am a genius. But I think I can be a lot more of a genius and I have looked at myself a lot more critically since I came off the drugs. And said, 'Okay there are some things I was doing wrong, musically.' I have sat down looked at that. And made a serious attempt to improve. For probably the first time in a long time, really said, 'is what you are doing good enough? Genuinely good enough' and that is a big step." In doing so, Rikki went and revisited the first album. "I looked back. I looked at the first album by Killing Miranda and said it was a load of unfocussed bollocks on the whole."
Belle: "Ha, I told you that then."
Rikki: "At the point I was a bit clouded in my judgement. I think now I can be realistic and say that Transgression By Numbers, to me is as good an album as any other goth band has released recently. But it is still not good enough."
Rikki: "It's still nowhere good enough."
Belle: "That is why I am your biggest critic."
Rikki: "I think I listen to external criticism."
Belle: "I think you are better now. It's the internal criticism that's more important."
Killing Miranda, especially the outspoken Rikki is not at all against lashing out and putting the measuring stick they use for themselves up against other bands. And to them, the bands and the scene just don't measure up.
Rikki: "This scene needs a rocket up its arse. It's far too blasé, far too self deluding that goth is actually going anywhere or doing anything or genuinely good at the moment. I think the whole scene needs to do what I am doing and have a good fucking hard look and at why we are so underground and why we are so alienated from mainstream music and why we are so ignored."
Whether that is the actual choice of the bands to remain underground is not something Rikki will debate. "If the bands were good enough, goth would be in the mainstream." Since other scenes, such as punk, have been able to reinvent themselves while keeping the core of the original genre in tact, "They are selling millions of records and punk is just as old and just as alienated as goth ever was. And if they can do it, why can't the goth scene?" And Rikki has the answer. "You have to honestly appraise that and say the bands are not good enough. The underground scene that is composed of us, Chaos Engine, Dream Disciples, JUDITH and so forth and so on. I am not saying these bands are not good at all. But I strongly feel that they are not good enough. And that includes us."
But not only that, Rikki has the solution. "All it takes, just like it happened with punk, is one band. In their case I think it was Offspring Realistically, they're a pile of shite as far as I'm concerned. But they took punk from nowhere to somewhere and they did it on their own practically." And Killing Miranda want to be the band for gothic music. They realize there is an entire market out there that the scene is all but ignoring. Unafraid of the goth label, as some bands are these days, they see it as something that is part of them and accessible to them "A whole army of kids that, to me, they don't really know necessarily what goth 100% is, they are not necessarily involved in the goth scene, but to them, they are goths, they believe they are, and that is good enough for me. All that is required, if you look at it, there is a short step, a very short step, a little bridge, and all it takes is one band to bridge that gap and it can go stellar again. It can be done. It can be done."
As many bands lament, KM hates the elitism that is prevalent in the gothic world in all aspects, but especially in music. As Belle explains, "They look at what they like. People are very bad at picking up the connections between one band or another."
But is that what they see their role as? "No," explains Rikki, "We will never be a band that the elitists are going to like, You are not going to get someone whose CD collection consists of Dive and Wumpscut and Suicide Commando going, 'I like KM'. You're not going to get someone, who, on the whole, whose CD collection is Fear Cult, Lacrimosa, the real hard core rock band, gothic, going 'I like KM'. To these people we are an acronym."
He hasn't seen the collection of a goth, former punk, dance teacher with a musical theatre degree with a love of jazz and swing (mine)….but I digress.
Knowing what they aren't leads to the conversation to what they are, their role, their mission, which is being able "to provide that bridge that we are talking about. If you go to a KM gig at the moment, we have the one thing that other bands don't have. We are getting the 17 year olds with the Slipknot hoodies and stuff coming to our gigs and liking us. And I am not the least bit ashamed about that. I think we are doing it the right way and I think we are maintaining our integrity and maintaining what KM is about. But providing this important bridge. Providing a new commercial scope and a new horizon for the gothic scene."
Belle concurred, "If we didn't think that we would have given up. But this is not us saying that. We have had that in live reviews."
Ah reviews, opinions. KM not only receives them, but is able to dish them out very well and in Rikki's case, with quite a lot of strength, frankness and attitude which makes enemies, fans and perhaps friends. He does not feel that his outspoken attitude has hurt the band and sales, in fact quite the opposite, and that is evident as we went into more of the nitty gritty of the scene.
Rikki began, "I believe the leaders of the goth scene, the people who see themselves as running it, the Jo Hampshires (the woman who runs Whitby), have made a fucking mess of it, a fucking mess of it. And I do not like to see the elite running the scene that I care about into the ground. And making it impossible for bands like us to make money. And fucking right I will speak out and fucking right I will make myself heard and I don't care it upsets a few people. You have to look at it from this point of view. Okay, people are allowed to have their opinions. I don't want everyone to like us. In fact, I would be perfectly happy for a substantial part of the goth scene to hate us, because that shows we are doing the right thing. Because, as you said yourself earlier, there is an element that want to keep it underground, that want to keep it as nice little girl own get together on the north east coast of England twice a year where we can all sit about and ignore the bands and gossip.
They speak of Whitby, the twice-annual gothic "music" festival held in North East England. Over the years, it has become, to many band's minds, and many people's minds, more about fashion and socializing than about the bands.
Belle is just as angry and as resentful of the scene, "They want to have it under control for themselves."
Rikki: "And we are the black sheep, the outsiders and the dark horses. The fact is that it is working well with us. We are saying bad things. We are bad people. But we are real people. I find it rather bizarre that goth bands are adopting this "oh it's all wonderful and we're all happy and we're all one big happy family."
Alien Dave, "That is not fucking gothic," as he sat down with his drink after finally arriving.
Rikki: "The reality is you hang about with bands and every one slags off everyone else behind their backs. We just don't do it behind their backs"
Belle: "We are doing it now."
But, as this was a no holds barred interview, their honest opinion of Jo Hampshire and obvious disdain of Whitby brought up a subject. A few years ago, their former bassist, Chris, was involved in a fistfight with the boyfriend of Jo Hampshire (the organizer of Whitby) after Chris discovered him allegedly vandalizing KM equipment. After the fight, Chris was arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison. From there, rumours spread like wild fire that Jo had ordered a blacklisting of the band from all London venues, from all gothic shops and with that, in order to survive, the band had fired Chris. I related this to KM, with dramatic results.
Rikki: "That is NOT what Chris was thrown out of the band."
Belle: "Complete fucking bullocks."
Rikki: There is a simple reason why Chris left KM. We booked a five-day recording session for Transgression By Numbers, to go in and record the five remaining songs. And he didn't turn up. And that is why he was effectively sacked from KM. After his fight and before his prison sentence."
Belle: "Nothing to do with nothing else."
The band stood by Chris throughout the trial and tried desperately to exonerate him. But as Belle explained, "One of the main witnesses was in the States at the time and we couldn't get a hold of her." Having to go up with no defence witnesses and as Rikki says, "the other two people (prosecution witnesses) who said they saw it are liars, as far as I'm concerned. I can't be 100% sure as that. But I sure as fuck did not see them there."
And since then, the band has stayed in touch, "Chris remains a good mate and I respect him as a musician. And all fucking credit to the guy, he took his sentence like a man. And he went in there and he took it on the chin. One week in there and I would have topped off myself. I'm not that strong of a person. And he came out of it a better person and he seems to me now a lot more focussed, making a lot more of his life. He might not be in KM, but he's making a lot more money doing what he does."
But as you read this interview and as I experienced doing it, Rikki is the "force" in the band so to speak….and it's hard for him to keep himself bottled up. The other members don't really have a presence on upg (uk.people.gothic) or in interviews.
Belle: "Various reasons for that"
Alien Dave: "Can't be bothered."
Rikki: "They don't get the perverse kick out of it."
But do they always agree with what comes out of Rikki's mouth or well, fingers?
Rikki: "Hey, what comes out of my fingers? I thought you were referring to something else!"
But even the bio on the website could really be rewritten to be "about Rikki." Does the rest of the band feel on the backburner?
Belle: "Not anymore. Possibly in the past. I think when we started…basically Rikki started. Rikki was the one who came up with the name, KM."
Rikki: "That was Kylie Minogue."
Belle: "Yeah that's true. Okay, he knicked it off of Kylie Minogue. Ricardo, as we call him, he came up with the name and he did the first EP pretty much by himself. Although if I remember rightly I was supposed to work with him on that but I hadn't seen him for ages and he wrote his number on a piece of paper with my eyeliner and of course, when I got home the next day, and the eyeliner had all gone to smudge so I ended up not working with him. The band then got pieced together. And it was very much Rikki's thing. And obviously he is very vocal to this day." As Rikki was being held back by his lady.
Rikki: " I am really struggling to keep quiet."
Alien Dave: "I don't think I would want it to necessarily change."
Belle: "He's a good spokesman."
Rikki: "I think I have sold an additional 500 records by being a godshite."
Belle: "Probably a little less. We are all quite vocal in our own ways. May be not in such an obvious way….We all connect but we all have our own thing. And I think that's very important"
Rikki: "They think it, I say it."
Belle: "If you can slice us open, you would see the same amount going on in everyone and I think that's very important. And that it is why it works. I have been in so many bands and this is best fucking band I have ever been in."
Rikki: "Oh he's been drinking."
Belle: "No quite seriously. Probably if I wasn't in this band with these guys, I would have cracked up."
But they all do have their individual roles. Sort of like the aforementioned Spice Girls?
Belle: " I think I'm a cross between Ginger and Posh."
Rikki: "Hmmm, good question. I rather like Manchester United and I would shag David Beckham, so I would be Posh Spice."
And would Alien Dave be Hidden Spice? As he is not seen as much as the others?
Alien Dave: "They have very strict curfew at the home. They don't let me out much."
Rikki: "See, in Area 51, they have strict regulations."
Belle: "Look, we may not all mouth off like Rikki. But, we seem to fit together very well. We are all as strong as each other in our own areas. It feels like a real band. We have been through so much shit as a band and individually."
But what about their other "role" as one of the wilder bands in the scene? The hard drinking group of guys?
Rikki: "I think that's really me and Irish Dave."
Belle: "Well I fucking well hope so."
Rikki: "It's a cultural thing. Like me and Irish Dave, who are the serious Slimelight goers, or well, used to be…."
Belle: "I used to be."
AHHH, back to Slimelight. Can't get away from it. It is such a clichéd, yet important part of the scene. And it's where many bands find the drugs and the alcohol that is throughout the gothic music scene. But, in some ways, Slimelight is what KM represents, the gothic underbelly. "The reality is it's a "my club" and gig oriented scene and <drugs> do happen. I have heard amphetamines described as the gothic drug and I think that is fairly accurate. About 70% of the goths I know are regular or infrequent users of amphetamines. It's crazy to pretend that it doesn't exist. I am not saying you have to. Anyone who doesn't and can still enjoy it has my ultimate respect. But the reality that most people are going end up like me…you are going to take drugs, you are going to drink, you are going to have sex that you regret…hey, that's what KM represents lyrically, image wise." Rikki extorts and explains.
They are annoyed at the bands pursing "this very odd vision of the goth scene as being a bunch of middle class type kids intellectually addressing their concept of rock and roll."
Rikki: "It's an excuse to dress us, go out, take drugs, and shag people."
But they feel being the underbelly, the black sheep, the "David Lynch's of the gothic world," works in their favour. "Whether you like it or not. The people who are pushing it a bit are always going to be. Going to last longer, than those who aren't, " Belle argues.
And as they are ready to say negative things about bands, people, when people are doing it right, they are happy to say so. "Judgement Day is a good example. When I ran into Das Ich, I do admire what they have done. They were certainly doing the electronic, gothic, industrial cross over long time before anyone else was and they do it fairly without compromise and I really respect it. And yeah, I kissed their ass for an house saying I felt they were fantastic," Rikki says.
And if you ask who else is doing it right, they are ready to tell you. Alien Dave is getting more into Godhead. Rikki feels another bunch of "dark horses" are Squid. Although Belle thinks their original work was "shite," Rikki argues that their CD Bitter Saint Abortion and their live gigs massively impressed him. And adds Static X as another band, "coming with something that sounds really mental, really out there."
And of course, as you talk about who is doing it right, you get back into who is doing it wrong,
Rikki: "Heard them, don't really like them, sorry."
Belle: "Too early to tell. May be more promising than they appear."
Alien Dave: "If they could write a good guitar riff, it would help."
Belle: "They suffer from bad production."
Descendants of Cain?
Rikki: "Very Fields of the Nephilim"
Alien Dave:" Never seen they play at all. I do see them drinking at Gossips a lot."
Rikki: I like what JUDITH was doing. It's not 100%, same with us. But there was potential there for a lot of development. But there seems to be this culture of the overly reverbed guitar in America.
Alien: "If you can't play, they add reverb!"
And they leaving their label and being in search of a new one? They say that they never really "left" Nightbreed, but that it stopped existing in the form that they were originally. "Staying with Nightbreed would not even be a step sideways, it would have been a massive step backwards because they don't have the resources, the money and the distribution when we were with them at full peak." They have nothing but great things to say about the label and those associated with it. Especially that it has lasted as long and they respect the amount of time, work and dedication that keeping a cottage industry label takes.
Belle: "It's a lot harder than it looks."
Alien Dave: "People downloading their mp3s don't really appreciate the amount of work that goes into making a record, recording it, putting it our, promoting it."
With so much on their agenda, so many challenges ahead of them, do they see the end of the tunnel or will there be a time when Killing Miranda give up?
Rikki: "Maybe. We are all in our late twenties. Time is not on our side. I don't want to be doing this when I'm 40….38 is about my limit. That gives me about 9 years. Rock music is a specific art and it's a transitory art. It exists within a specific time frame. Four guys get together, play the music that they write on electric instruments and have fun doing it. The power of rock is about communication between a band performing their own music…performing the music they write and believe in."
And that is what Killing Miranda is. A band that writes and performs the music they believe in, within a scene that may not believe in them, but that they believe in and want more for and from. And they will demand it. And get the fuck out of their way in the meantime.
An Interview with Susperia
Since the recording of their
original demo in 1999 entitled Illusions of Evil, Susperia has been
the topic of much interest in the metal community. Comprised of many
musicians with well known histories in the Blackmetal scene, Susperia has
started with a solid foundation both musically and within the community.
However, according to the band, it has always been their goal to provide
something different in their musical endeavors from the majority of their
brethren. Having just released their second full length album entitled
the vocalist from the band was eager to talk with me about what's in store
for this release and to explain some of the ideas behind the new album.
Dibrom: Compared to your first release, Vindication seems to have quite a different theme. Where did this come from?
Athera: It's a natural development really. It just happened that way, it's not like we sat down after the release of Predominance and said like "Ah! Now wer're going to have a major change" or something at all. Cyrus just continued writing music, and then when I heard what he came up with, you know, it was like dramatically different but I heard it was something that I had to change the vocal approach a bit. Actually it was excellent timing really because I wanted to find my own unique style which was my personal voice and not some typical blackmetal screaming. It was also good timing for him to finally develop the various style and the sound we were looking for. We feel like now we are much closer to what we set out be when we started this band, you know? The first album was like a bit of this and a bit of that and then whatever, jumping all around, but this is much, much closer to where we should be.
Dibrom: What do you feel is the main expression that you are trying to get across with this new album?
Athera: Well it's definitely not a concept album -- it's got an individual cover design, individual titles, and individual songs. The total expression would be like we are like a kind of a universal band, that we can appeal to all those different genre people without having to go out and play a specific style of metal. We can appeal to all the people in the various circles and subgenres without having to go into a specific direction. It's the metal we want to play - it's how we want metal to sound.
Dibrom: Do you think that the title of the album reflects this?
Athera: Well the layout actually, because of the little fetus growing inside the womb, instead of some typical metal cover. It's like a symbol that we are a little "metal baby", ready to be born and get out there. It really symbolizes the band, that we are still young but "here comes the devil horns already!". The title is more like a response to some people that did come to us with a negative or strange attitude. You always have these individuals and I don't know what's up with them but there were mostly good critics for Predominance. You have these individuals though, people who try to judge before getting into the music and having checked it out or having bought it. Some of these people were just coming at us with some sort of attitude or something...
Dibrom: Yeah, a lot of times you see people who are really just unopen to new ideas and afraid of something different.
Athera: Yeah, like us being in a situation where we actually do have the former Dimmu Borgir drummer. Yes, we are aware he has a history with Dimmu Borgir, but he is not with Dimmu Borgir anymore. We're just like five friends who have built this band together from scratch. He happens to be one of the members, true, but we're still just the same five friends trying to build something new here. So that's where Vindication comes from -- to clear from all criticisms.
Dibrom: On the new album, the vocals seem to be quite a bit more developed and are more powerful sounding than on your last release. How exactly did you accomplish this?
Athera: As I said, when I heard what this new material would turn into, I felt that the guys were taking this to a new level now and I really wanted to perform on the same level as the other guys. Not that I don't believe in myself of course, but guidance and professional help are always welcome, so we decided actually to hire this vocal producer. So I was off in Sweden working on the vocals while the rest of the guys were in Norway recording the rest of the music. At times it was frustrating, trying and sometimes failing, and at times I lying on the floor screaming with laughter and then getting up and trying again. Just the time being alone working on this and being face to face to with a professional, it was a really positive experience.
Dibrom: Do you guys plan on using a similar approach for future releases?
Athera: Yeah. I really enjoyed this way of working. Whether it will be the same guy or not, I don't know.
Dibrom: It seems like the production on the new album is overall improved compared to the last release. Is this the result of a more direct involvement of the band with Peter and Lars?
Athera: Yeah. Peter was not that involved the first time. Also, this was due to the fact that the first time we were there, well, was the first time -- the guys didn't know us, they didn't know our music. In the last year though we have really become friends with the two guys and going back there was really the right choice. Peter really wanted us this time. We sent some pre-production material right before he was about to close the studio and he was like "I'll take you guys, I'll fucking produce you guys. Come now, I want you guys to come down!". No kidding, he told us to come over right away. This time, due to our friendship and the guys being more aware of who we are, and what we want to be, it was a more comfortable situation, and much easier to work in. Also, it was great for Peter as a closing to his studio. You know, he's been in this business for about 6 or 7 years and the reason he's closing is basically because of all the extra work he's been getting. He started the studio originally for him and his friends but it grew into something much larger and so now he's closing it down. So it was really the honorable thing for him to work with us this final time and of course we could really benefit from this. Norwegian "Scream" magazine for example said something like "If you plan on going to the electronics store and buying a new stereo system, Susperia is the album to really show it off", so it's turned out really well.
Regrettably, at this point
the playback of the interview became unintelligible due to some sort of
technical malfunction during the recording process. However, to summarize
the conclusion, Athera went on to say that the band is excited about their
new release and that they really feel like they are moving in the right
direction with Vindication. They feel that they have a solid release
here and the band urges our readers to go out and check out the new material.
The band feels that this album truly offers something different in the
metal scene and that ultimately, it will appeal to a wide variety of metal
fans if given the chance; you never know, you might really like what you
Susperia Official Website:
Nuclear Blast Records:
Demons, Dreams and Diocletian:
a conversation with Boyd Rice
~by Andi Jarrett
(photos from Last Sigh - taken by Jasyn Bangert & Courtney Tittiger
and from the Long Live Death website)
It's Sunday, May 5th. I'm having a beer with Boyd Rice at the Columbia Hotel in London. Last night, he played a gig as Non, with Death In June at the Slimelight. It's odd, in a way, to find Boyd at the Columbia - the rock 'n' roll hotel which The Stooges, The New York Dolls and many other rock icons have made their temporary touring residence over the years. Boyd Rice is definitely not a rock 'n' roller. He's one of the pioneering artists in the industrial genre. His career stretches back to the 1970s when he pioneered the use of tape loops, cut-ups and found sounds to make such groundbreaking records as 'The Black Album', which was designed to be played at four different speeds. His interests are bewilderingly diverse: everything from machine-made noise to ethnic instruments, 60s girl groups to psychology and magick.
This is not my first meeting
with Boyd Rice: the first was at Boston's ManRay club back in 1997, also
at a Non/Death In June show. In a strange way, our London encounter continues
from where we left off at that time. What was originally intended to be
a fairly formal interview developed into a freewheeling conversation that
went beyond music and misanthropy and into dreams, philosophy and magic...
Andi Jarrett: When we met at ManRay, I asked about your roto-guitar. Did you ever have any plans to do any more self-created or adapted instruments?
Boyd Rice: Yeah, I've been meaning to do that again for ages, but whenever I know somebody who's going to sell a guitar, they promise they'll sell it at a certain price...and then they decide to trade it in for a new guitar. So, I've had a lot of bad luck with that. I've had probably a dozen people tell me this! Rozz Williams was asking about the roto-guitar. I didn't want to buy a really great guitar...he said, "I have an extra guitar! I'll just give it to you, I'll mail it to you!" Then, like a month later, the guy hung himself. I shouldn't see that as being my bad luck, but it's just the way it seems to go. Rozz wanted to make a record with me, too, and we were going to do it, but I was out of town for a week, or something, and there were a dozen messages from him when I got back. I didn't return them right away 'cause there was a million messages on my machine. Then, it's like, a few days later, somebody calls up and says, "You know, Rozz hung himself today!" I said, "But this is April Fool's Day! This is probably some sick joke!"
AJ: I remember a lot of people saying that! Yeah, that was a very sad thing, and I think that it would have been wonderful if you two had gotten together to collaborate, because I always think that what Christian Death were doing, especially early Christian Death with Rozz, was much greater than, say, what Marilyn Manson is doing. I think Christian Death were more a precursor to that sort of thing. What do you think?
BR: I don't know, maybe they were the first people to bring back a sort of glammy ethic to this kind of music. I think Marilyn Manson is tapping into a lot of archetypes, and I just think that the prototypes worked really well. You know, he's just, like, manifesting them.
AJ: Anyway, he's a minister for the Church of Satan now - and you've taken over Anton LaVey's role?
BR.: (Laughs) No. People were saying that the night I heard Anton LaVey was dead. They said, "Is it true you're going to be Anton LaVey's replacement?" I said, "No, no, no." I've been very little involved with the Church of Satan. I mean, I still talk to Peter Gilmore; he runs it out of New York. I've just gotten into other various researches, - deeper into the whole occult esoteric sort of thing. I thought Anton LaVey was a genius, but most of the people who rally around him have been dodgy to say the least.
AJ: That's what I was thinking, and that's why I was very interested in talking to you about it, because on the Church of Satan's website there's all this stuff with Zeena LaVey complaining about her father.
BR: Well, Zeena's just a really screwed up chick. She's really intelligent, but she just can't follow through those ideas. She knows them backwards and forwards but can't apply them to her own life; she has to resent somebody for the fact that she's an utter failure, so who better to blame than her father?
AJ: That seems to be the main story between parents and kids anyway.
BR: Well, you know, some famous people swear they'll never have children because the children of people who are geniuses are invariably just fuck-ups. Who knows why Wagner's son never did anything great? Think of the great men of history; how many of them had sons that went on to do as much or more than they did? But it's ironic, because if there's any child in the world who had no cause to rebel against her parents it would be Zeena LaVey. She grew up in an atmosphere where there was just nothing to rebel against.
AJ: Yeah. It's a very open-minded atmosphere, do what thou wilt and all. I think that people who do best in a free environment are people who are basically very balanced.
BR: I think the people who aren't [balanced] do terrible in a free environment, because they're left to their own devices, and those are the kind of people who, ideally, need somebody to tell them what to do, how to do it, when to do it. They're good at following orders and carrying out instructions, but they aren't self starters at all.
AJ: So, would you say your biggest complaint against humanity would be the sheep mentality?
BR: No, I think the sheep mentality is there for a reason. It doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that it's not recognized, that there are different strata of people. There are people at the top, there are people at the very bottom, there's a lot of people in the middle. Maybe forty years ago, people were satisfied to be at the very bottom, they were satisfied to be in the middle. Now,everybody wants to be a unique individual, and I've never really met very many unique individuals, except for, like, Tiny Tim, or something like that. Left to their own devices, people will naturally want to dress like other people, have a shared identity, you know, like people who think they're being unique by putting earrings in their eyebrows, or something. You see hundreds of these people if you go to downtown London. It's not an expression of individuality at all, to participate in the ways of man. So that doesn't bother me about humanity. I just think humanity is dishonest with itself.
AJ: If people were more aware of what they were doing, and their reasons for choosing to do it, that would be the best thing.
BR: Well, if they were just aware that "This is my station in life". It used to be, if you had a good job cleaning toilets in a hotel, you were very happy to have gained employment. Now, it's looked down upon. It's, like, "I'm better than this!" And a lot of people aren't better than that. A lot of people, you know, that's probably the best they can contribute to society - cleaning toilets for somebody. Or making sandwiches in a Subway shop, or McDonald's, or something like that.
AJ: It must be a terrible thing, though, to have this desire to be something greater but not the capacity. That must be very painful.
BR: That must be the most horrible thing on earth, 'cause it's always been really easy for me to do anything I want to do. I mean, if you know what you want to do, then it's obvious what you need to do to achieve that, and, there's no thought involved. Just on this tour, the people who were driving our van, we had to explain to them how to park. We had to say, you know, go over here, point the van this way. These were the people who were supposed to be in charge of our tour! it was like talking to somebody who was inside an airplane; you see these movies where somebody's in an airplane, the pilot has had a heart attack and you have to talk them in. You know, now you want to turn right, and you want to do this.
AJ: During your performance at the Slimelight, I remember you saying, "Where's Diocletian, Vlad the Impaler, Ghengis Khan? We need you now more than ever!" So, why now more than ever? What would you say is different, now, at this point in history?
BR: It's that there aren't any strong leaders. There's nobody who takes decisive action.
AJ: But what about people who are obviously trying to, even in their own dysfunctional way, like Bin Laden? Certainly, they have a bizarre sort of will that is not broken no matter what. They just go ahead, and they do what they want to do. They try to take control and nothing seems to stop them. Wouldn't you say they were intense in themselves?
BR: In a primitive sort of way, but you've really got to wonder how much a guy who rides a donkey is going to change the world! (Laughs). I mean, I think those people are utterly hopeless.
AJ: They may not have the means, but they have the will. You have to give them that!
BR: Yeah, but the will without the means is, like, I give you a Jaguar, but I don't give you the key. So, you're sitting in this beautiful car, with all this horsepower, but you aren't able to turn it on, or drive it anyplace. It's worthless.
AJ: Yeah, I see what you mean.
BR: I mean, I don't think these people have that much determination, because, if they kept it up, like on that first day [Boyd is referring to the September 11 attacks] they could have brought the whole world to its knees and they haven't. Everybody is saying they have these suitcase nuclear bombs, and they're going to destroy a whole U.S. city. It's like a terrorist with a nuclear bomb is like some gang member with a gun; you can't have it without using it. It's like some room temperature I.Q. guy gets a gun in his hand. He's got to shoot somebody, and I think those people are the same mentality. So, I mean, I wonder how big a threat they really are, except for causing minor disturbances every now and then.
AJ: Well, maybe the power is with someone who has the means. Maybe the power lies in somebody who is a much more subtle person and is doing things gradually behind the scenes. What do you think of that?
BR: Yeah, that's what I think people who control the world are doing.
AJ: What really excites me today is the possibility of people using their minds to stir things in a certain direction. Being catalysts. I think that's the best way. You could say, in a way, you are one of today's influential people who could stir things in a certain direction, in a certain area. So, really, the new and best terrorists are the artists.
BR: That's exactly right. Nothing's more powerful than idea whose time has come. If you're interested in that, you should really read this book by Gustav LeBon, called 'The Crowd'. It was the first text about the psychology of the masses; it was a huge influence on Stalin, Hitler, Roosevelt. All these major political figures read this book, and it was a huge influence on them. And now, it's kind of looked down upon because its analysis of the public psyche is just so harsh, so brutal, saying people really just need to be dominated by a strong leader. People basically - I'm not explaining it well, but basically it tells how ideas become forces unto themselves. It's like, an idea can be around for a long time, and new ideas don't have any prestige. It doesn't matter whether the idea is a good one or a bad one, whether it's valid or not. That, if an idea has been around for twenty years it takes on a reality that it didn't have when it was first uttered.
AJ: So, you could even say, if thoughts are giving a lot of energy than they become entities unto themselves.
BR: Yeah, Bloom wrote a book called, 'The Lucifer Principle', and it was basically about that. He calls it a meme; it's like a gene, but it's an idea that becomes an entity unto itself, and it takes over people's consciousness.
AJ: When I think of the other dimension, too, something beyond death and what things become, I think of a world where vague things in this world - like ideas - become more clear in the other dimension.
BR: That's pretty theoretical. What's your basis for formulating this idea?
AJ: Just an idea I had. I always think about many different possibilities, and that's just one of them. When I think of angels and demons, things like that, I think of them more as thought and energy forms with quality. People have called them angels or demons for whatever reason, but they're just basic energies that take on a sort of color, too, - when you think about auras and what not. And experiences of the abstract, in that sense. For instance, in many different cultures, people have said that the energy attributed to St. Michael is red. Then, the bodhisattva, Manjushri, who has a lot of St. Michaelesque qualities, has an emanation that is red. Really, though, what I think these cultures have done is they have labeled an energy as something anthropomorphic to make it clearer to them. The energy is universal. Do you see what I'm saying?
BR: Um, I have about three or four responses to various aspects of that.
AJ: I'm very interested in the universal, by the way, and how people absorb it.
BR: Hmm. I'm not sure how to respond to something like that. But, I know one of the things I was going to say was there is a concept by Talpas, you've heard of Talpas? This is an idea that is so absolutely realized that it becomes a thing unto itself. There was a case someplace in the east coast of he United States, where people living in a building - over a period of three or four decades - always saw this strange figure appear at a certain window. He was dressed in black, and he always wore this floppy hat; people had seen this figure for years and years, then, suddenly, somebody had realized that the place where this apparition always was, was in a room that had belonged to a very famous writer who wrote the radio series of 'The Shadow'! A lot of these things that you're talking about, like the angels and demons thing, are in a lot of the research I've been doing into really ancient mythologies and things. What I've discovered is that all the angels and all the demons were based upon actual historical figures.
AJ: Sure, archetypes.
BR: They aren't archetypes, though, because the prototype comes before the archetype. For an archetype to exist, in all these cultures, there has to be something it's based on. There were living people who were viewed to be gods by some cultures, and they were viewed to be demons by other cultures. If you look at all the names of these demons, for instance in Judaism, Asmodeus just means the Lord God. All these old gods' names were just titles, and they were titles of deified kings who ruled the ancient civilizations. The idea that there are these entities out there, that, you know, can be summoned, - people always did summon these people by invoking their names in Babylon, even in Christianity.
AJ: But I think that when you summon something, it must come from you - the energy that you have.
AJ: And you just call it to the forefront, it takes over, and then it accomplishes what you want it to. That's what I think magick is. I think it's the 90% of the brain that we don't know about and don't use, but can use, if we are in touch with it. That's why, a lot of the time, I'm against all this cell phone stuff. I don't use cell phones because I don't like constant invasion twenty-four-seven, having to be in touch with something outside me all the time. I need that time to get connected here (pointing to head).
BR: Time for undirected thought.
BR: There seems to be less and less of it these days.
AJ: What do you fear most?
BR: Not very many things. My fears are mostly irrational things that aren't even within the realm of possibility, but, since I was a child, I had a fear that if I looked in the eyes of somebody passing in the streets that their minds might instantaneously switch, and I would be trapped in their body, and they would be trapped in mine. They would get my mind, and I would be trapped in some really dreary person's body, mind, and life (laughs).
AJ: That's quite something else!
BR: It is. It's never going to happen, but it was always, like, what if this were possible? That would be horrible, because, my whole life, I've just looked at other people and thought what do they think? What do they do with their lives? What's going on here? It's creepy! It's even creepy for me to conceive of, like, a lot of people that I interact with during the course of a day. For example, what would it be if you were the guy who comes to Leicester Square to sell souvenirs and stand outside the stand all day? Then, what does he do for fun after he goes home? After he puts in his time, he goes home and probably does something that's equally dreary!
AJ: When you do something like that, there's obviously not much to reflect on afterwards. Yeah, I've wondered about stuff like that too. I had a really strange dream; I'll tell you after the interview.
BR: Did you hear the album I did with Doug [Douglas P. of Death In June] recently, called 'Wolf Pact'?
AJ: I haven't yet, no.
BR: Because one of the songs on there is a dream I have about going to this ancient temple. Everybody coming there is wearing camouflage uniforms with these hoods, and their faces were painted camouflage. I hear this English voice, I look around; it's Doug, and he's totally dressed in camouflage and I say, "What are you doing here? What is this place?" And he says, "Oh, this is the most ancient temple in the world. I come here whenever I'm in this part of the world." I then say, "Why are these people wearing this, like, weird military camouflage?" He replies, "Oh, they worship the forgotten father. He's an unknown god, and, to be like unto him, they have to wear camouflage so they will be unseen and anonymous." It was this long complicated dream, and, as soon as I woke up, I called Doug in Australia, told him about it, and he said, "That's really good! You should write that down, we'll do a song about that. And we did. It's called "Forgotten Father."
AJ: I'll definitely look for that!
BR: Yeah, it was a great dream; it was one of those epic dreams that was just like a movie. It went on and on. I couldn't even include all the stuff in the song. But, I've had dreams in the past, where, at a certain point, I would be aware that this was a dream. I felt, well, if this is my dream, I can make it into whatever I want it to be, -- I'm going over to this hill, here, and there will be a thrift store. I'll go into the record department, and I'll find a Lesley Gore record I don't own!
AJ: You probably recently heard about Frank Tovey.
BR: Yeah, I got a call on my machine the day before I headed out to Europe. That was unexpected.
AJ: Yeah, very healthy guy, and then this congenital heart disease just cropped up again. It was a shock to me, too, because I saw Fad Gadget for the first time recently, and he did the cartwheels on stage and everything. I just found him to be so fit, and apparently he had new ideas for Fad Gadget - having got such a positive reaction from his resurgence. Anyway, what was your most memorable point of working with Frank and what will you miss most about him?
BR: All of my early tours of Europe I did with Fad Gadget, so we spent a lot of time together on the road, clubs, and hotel rooms after concerts and stuff. Then, when I recorded that album with him, that was really great 'cause we just went in there with no ideas, no musical equipment, and just used the stuff in the studio to create a whole album. So that was really good. But, I haven't really talked to him in years and years; we had some falling out at a certain point. I mean, I still have the great memories of him, I still think he was a brilliant performer - a charismatic performer - and I still think that first Fad Gadget album was one of the best electronic pop records ever. It's a shame that it didn't get the attention that other people like The Human League and Gary Numan got. They were really huge, and I felt like their music didn't hold a candle to Fad Gadget. I don't know where Frank missed the boat, but I thought he should have been really huge - much huger than he was, anyway. But, yeah, it was one of the best live shows. He would do shows where he would play in a bar...he would jump off the stage, onto the bar, with this long microphone cord and just dance down the bar, knocking people's drinks over! But it was great fun, and everybody liked it.
Oh! I know an anecdote about Frank! He always did this thing where he would jump into the audience and rub up against everybody. One time he did this and the next day, he had this weird rash on his arm. So, he goes to the doctor. The doctor said, "Oh, that looks like scabies, but no worries, I'll give you this ointment. Just put it on, it ought to take care of it straight away." So he does this, and, like, the next day it's much bigger. Then he puts even more ointment on it, and, the next day, it's bigger still! Pretty soon, it's on his whole arm and is coming over on his chest, his side. He looks up scabies to see what it is, and it's lice that lay their eggs under your skin, or something. So he reads this, and he's just horrified that there are all these eggs gestating under his flesh. He freaks out, goes back to the doctor, and, it turns out, that he doesn't have scabies at all. The huge rash was an allergic reaction to this ointment that was supposed to cure the original thing!
AJ: Did he ever figure out what it was to begin with?
BR: No idea. He just stopped putting the ointment on, it went away, and he was fine.
AJ: A lot of EBM bands claim to have their roots in Industrial, and people like Gary Numan, Kraftwerk. What do you think of all this doof doof doof stuff? Does it get you down?
BR: What's EBM?
AJ: Electronic Body Music.
BR: Oh! I assumed it was the stuff we were hearing every place in Europe, where you go into mom 'n' pop kind of restaurants.
AJ: No, more like Covenant, VNV Nation, Apoptygma Berzerk.
BR: I'm 45 years old. I don't keep up with this stuff. I stopped keeping up with popular music years and years ago.
AJ: I was just curious, 'cause it drives me up the wall. It all sounds the same, and I love the old noise and Industrial. It's raw and there's more of a 'happening' feel, sort of a process of discovery, instead of just having everything pre-recorded on a little machine.
BR: Yeah, well it's probably similar to the stuff I've been getting, because this stuff seems to be everywhere, and it's like, being played real loud, old people have to listen to it you know, I'm sure everybody doesn't enjoy this kind of music. For the last fifteen years, there's this stuff that's been marketed as Industrial, or having its roots in Industrial, which is some weird kind of electronic dance music, and I don't know what the connection is between that and industrial.
AJ: What would you say those specific bands are?
BR: I don't know, I just mean that, in the eighties, everyone was saying Ministry was Industrial and all these bands that came out of Chicago, and they didn't seem the least bit Industrial to me. They grew up listening to Industrial music, but they didn't seem like that. But, I mean, Industrial is a really loose kind of category.
AJ: And it has become looser as time goes on, as has Gothic, and all that kind of thing.
BR: But I never really felt the Industrial thing was appropriate to me. I thought Industrial music was, like, people doing music that had some noisy bits added whereas I was doing noise that had some musical elements added. So, it's rhythm, but it was noise and rhythm. It never really seemed like Industrial music like Throbbing Gristle or the other people in the genre.
AJ: When you come to England, what do you wish you had more time to do?
BR: Everything. I was taking cabs all over town today. I went to the church where Jean Cocteau painted a mural, off Leicester Square, and, it's like, the last two times I've been here, I've wanted to do that. I really want to go to the British Museum and see some of their Sumerian and Babylonian stuff. That was the top of my list of priorities. This time was the Cocteau church, the Notre Dame de France by Leicester Square, and the British Museum. I did one of them. Then I wanted to see this movie, 'Revelation', and it was playing right near the Cocteau church. It starts now. It was the first showing today, and I was not going to get to see it.
AJ: Oh well.
BR: But that's always the way. When you're traveling, you're driving right past amazing things, and there's just not the time to stop and see them. Although we saw a bunch of really good stuff this time around.
AJ: Anyway, my last question is - I promised my husband [Uncle Nemesis] I'd ask this. His question is: Do you think the World Serpent crew are a bunch of flaky hippies?
BR: I don't know about the hippy part, but yeah, they have been very flaky in their dealings with me, which is why I left them. I left them several days before Doug, and it's not like we put our heads together and said, "Let's both leave." I'd given them an album, obscure girl group stuff, 'Music for Pussycats'. This was supposed to be done four years ago; I re-mastered this whole CD's worth of material and they said, "As soon as we get this, we can have it out in two weeks." It's, like, two years have passed. I was listening to my copy of the CD one night, and, I just thought, I'm bored dealing with these people. So, I called them up and said, "Listen, I'm not going to do anything more with you, this is tedious, waiting on you people."
AJ: Yeah, my husband was after them at one point, about information on their web site. There was nothing there about a Sorrow gig he was promoting and people were trying to figure out various things. They just said something like, "Somebody else does our web site". The idea was that they never stepped out of the office much. I don't know the specifics, but it was something silly.
BR: The thing is, they aren't even a record company, they're a distribution company. If I come to London, Mute will have a car pick me up at the airport; they'll put me up in this hotel, and they'll arrange all these interviews. World Serpent doesn't do anything, and yet they have this attitude that they're a record company. Even when Record Collector magazine called them and said, "We want to do an article on Boyd Rice and his whole career from beginning right up till now," they (World Serpent) mentioned it to me, and I said, "Well, why didn't you set up an interview?" They replied, "Well, uh, I don't know." I said, "Well, get in touch with them, set up an interview, cause while I'm in town, I can do this. This is a major magazine, and it's distributed at all the Tower Records in the United States. This would be a good thing, you know, more people know about me, more people buy records. It's good for you as well as for me, because you're selling these records, and you'll be making half of the money."
They never did it, and the next time I was in town, I said, "Contact these people! You know, this is an opportunity being missed." So they called up Record Collector and they said, like, "Oh, gee, the guy who wanted to do the article left the magazine nine months ago!"
From the point of view of being a business, they should have recognized that this was something really easy for them to do, and it takes very little effort. They could make more money, but they don't even care - judging by their actions, they don't appear to care. So, I know that when I was with them, I was selling less and less. However, I would go back to the United States, and every time I toured, my royalties from Airplane would double, triple, and quadruple! I knew that the interest was growing exponentially, but, for whatever reason, they were moving less and less material all the time. I think, at a certain point, they (World Serpent) had a lot of the most interesting bands that are out today. Now that me and Doug have left, they're putting out some really marginal stuff.
AJ: There's a lot of good stuff there, but I feel bad because these bands aren't getting the promotion they should get. It's very sad because I think that there are many interesting thinkers and creative people on this label, especially of the Gothic variety. What I liked about World Serpent, was that every band there, had this interest in magick in common, but very different ideas about it.
BR: Yeah, but you see, these people don't know the first fucking thing about magick. They don't have a mystic bone in their bodies. How can you promote something that you have absolutely no interest in and no understanding of? It's like, they're not even passionate about it. They hate most of the bands on their label. They were always totally abusive to Doug, always making fun of Coil. I would see these exchanges and would think, why is a person like Doug, who is bringing a hell of a lot of money to their label, treated like shit time after time as he goes in there?
AJ: And my question would be, if World Serpent thinks the task is so odious, why do they do it?
BR: Money. They make half of Current 93's royalties, half of Coil's royalties, half of Nurse with Wound's, and, at one time half of my royalties, half of Doug's. With this, they all have houses, cars, money in the bank. They put out stuff they think is shit because they know a certain amount of people buy it. They've said to people on their label, "We hate your new CD; this is total shit, but maybe we'll sell a few copies.
AJ: Ugh, God!
BR: Yeah, it was just very boring dealing with people like that. I played someplace in London and Mute rented out the whole bar upstairs, at this place, and threw a party with all the liquor you could drink for free. One of the people from World Serpent showed up totally drunk, insulted Daniel Miller, the founder of Mute Records, and then fell down the stairs. I think he maybe threw up on himself; this has been a number of years, so I forgot. But, I mean, this isn't civil behavior!
AJ: I find it unimaginable that there are people like that out there. I mean, I know there are, but there's a certain naivete in me that still can't believe it. How could people justify living by living that way?
BR: Yeah, I know, and the thing is, if they were just totally into the business aspect of it and were on top of that and did everything just perfectly in terms of being businessmen...people who run businesses should be businessmen; they don't necessarily have to be mystics or passionate about what they're doing if they do their job properly, but they're being neither. They aren't fish nor fowl. They aren't doing the music because they are passionate about it, but, at the same time they aren't running their business in a really calculated strategic way. That I would appreciate, at least.
At the end of the interview, I'm left with a greater idea of how this man's interesting mind works, some educational reading to check out, and more than a few ideas for my own esoteric research. I give the big bald leather-clad man a warm hug that's well received and hope to have many more opportunities for continued conversation with him in the future.
- Andi Jarrett.
The Boyd Rice/Non page within the Mute Records site: http://www.mute.com/mute/non/noninfo.htm
The text of the feature on
Boyd Rice which appeared in Re/Search: The Industrial Culture Handbook,