The one thing I have come to quickly appreciate about Southern California is its multicultural diversity - especially within the underground scene - which is far more evident and accepted here than in other cities I've frequented. The crowd was an eclectic mix - as diverse as the Los Angeles area itself - goths, rivetheads, rockabilly, club kids and deathrockers (mainly here to see Element I assume). Standing outside in line before the club opened I got to meet a very nice couple - Hector and Joanna - who gave me some insight into living in Los Angeles and the hispanic culture within the underground scene (hmmm - a future article? perhaps!). They told me not as many people show up for gothic nights at this club but usually the Smith's (Morrissey) Night (can you imagine?) is packed. As the crowd was finally let in I was a bit concerned to see that all the males were given pat-downs by security guards before entering the club. I had to open my purse and camera case for inspection. While Hector and Joanna had assured me this was a safe part of LA, I wondered if they had previous incidents at this club to warrant such precautions? I don't think I've ever seen a pat-down at a club before. There certainly was no lack of security - uniformed officers could be seen almost everywhere outside, in the parking lot and inside the club. Obviously familiar with regular patrons, they chatted, waved and said hello to some and after a while, I forgot they were around. $4 to park in their lot and $5 at the door and I was in for just under a 10 spot.
I'm always curious to check out new clubs and venues and Element's gig provided a perfect excuse to see what this club was all about. Myself and others who had never been there before were rather impressed with the physical look of things...2 different rooms for dancing complete with their own bars and a large smoking patio outside. It was decorated in a lush, trendy style: leopard spotted carpet and glossy hard wood floors adorned the ground; comfy yet elegant sofas in red and faux fur lined the walls with plenty of seating; giant mirrors provided backdrops and tables were decorated with fabric and glitter. I even noticed large plants (nice to see greenery in a club!) and props in the rooms in the form of giant celtic crosses. Obviously the promoters of the night took a bit of time to cater and decorate for their clientele which is nice.
The music in the room where we waited for Element to take the stage was an odd assortment besides being entirely too loud (when I have to yell at the top of my lungs into someone's ear and the they still can't hear me -that's pretty bad). It was not a good place to try to carry on a conversation and after a while I just stopped talking to people. At first they were playing alot of fairly good goth rock (if not a bit too heavy on the old standbys). I was pleasantly surprised when they played The Chameleons - albeit the over played "Swamp Thing." They played a handful of Souixsie's most well known hits. At one point they played "Assimilate" by Skinny Puppy which was a song I hadn't heard in a while and a welcomed treat but then, for some reason, they broke into an EBM/synthpop set (perhaps they changed DJs?) and a headache began to set in as the relentless thump-thump-thump pounded away at my ear drums. I noticed some people sarcastically bobbing their heads along with the numbing synthetic beats. My ears are still ringing this morning.
Another thing I've noticed about this community is the level of support given to fellow bands and friends. I saw people there from Release the Bats, Diva from Divalux, Mark Splatter from Deathrock.com, Frank the Baptist and members of Frankestein along with Ghoulschool regulars. It was great seeing these people turn up on a Sunday night to support Element.
The club, pretty as it might be, is certainly not set up for live bands - at least not at this point unless they make some improvements. From what I heard, they just started doing live shows so maybe it'll take them a bit to get into the groove of things. They have a very small, unfinished make-shift stage set up in the corner of the dance floor. You could not realistically get a complete drum kit on it let alone other musicians, amps and monitors. Speaking of monitors - the band was delayed going on because apparently - there wasn't any. Oh dear. Eventually someone found one and the band - good natured as they are, went on without complaint or incident and it seemed as though the sound guys were busting ass to work out the problems. Unfortunately, there was only room for about 4 people at the front of the stage - the rest of the room taken up by tall amp stacks which stood on the floor blocking the view not to mention it was incredibly LOUD if you were standing anywhere near them. I'm not sure how much people in the back could see the stage and I suspect you couldn't see Jeremy or Dave unless you were smack dab in the front row. The club definitely needs to work on that.
The band played something new for the first song of their set ("Suspicion Breeds Confidence") - all the while fighting feedback and adjusting sound levels. Shane commented he couldn't hear vocals in the monitor and I suspect it made him a bit uncertain. The first two songs he seemed to hold back a bit but by the third song of their set, most of the sound kinks worked out, they seemed to settle into their performance skins and were more at ease on the stage.
Highlights for me included hearing the melodic yet darkly sinister "Goblins," the dance floor worthy "The Sound of Angels" (which I could listen to on repeat for ages) and the raw grittiness of "In the Nitetime." Dave plucked away at bass lines - steady and sure; Douglas was a man in motion continuously tinkering with things back in the corner - either with the synth or the stripped down drum set; and Jeremy - stone faced - made his guitar playing look smooth and effortless. Shane took on the role as the tortured vocalist/mad artist - twisting and contorting around the mic stand, looking skyward towards unseen forces, curling down towards the ground and at one point, nearly launching himself into the crowd to the terrified delight of a couple in the front row.
There were times that the sound levels seemed to jump out of balance - I sometimes strained to hear his vocals. In the middle of "Collapsing New People" - their surprise tribute to Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) - despite only being able to make out bits and pieces of what Shane was saying - the sentiment was conveyed quite effectively and I got a bit choked up. I know that Frank was a huge influence on Shane's music and that he - along with alot of other musicians and fans - will truly miss him. I was also happy to see/hear the reaction of some of the crowd - who obviously knew who the song was by and why it was being played. And finally, they finished up their set with another new song which I'm positive is going to be a huge hit called "Skeletons." It had a guitar driven but atmospheric almost UK vibe to it akin to New Model Army or And Also the Trees. (I know, I know ...but trust me on this one).
All in all, despite the sound problems with the venue, Element was energetic and well worth the wait. I would have danced had there been room. Here's hoping to see them in a bigger venue soon...
(see all the photos from this show here)
official website: http://www.papabyrd.com/element/
yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elementsdeadheaven?yguid=4343680
Lords Of The New Church
Underworld, 19 April 2002
~review and live photos by Uncle Nemesis
For those who've just joined us, perhaps a little bit of history is necessary here. The Lords Of The New Church were a punk supergroup of sorts, formed in 1982 by Brian James (The Damned), Dave Traganna (Sham 69) and Stiv Bators (of NYC's Dead Boys). I remember buying their first-ever single, 'New Church' on 7" vinyl from the now-defunct Virgin store in the Oxford Walk shopping mall in London. It cost 79p, and featured a fetching picture sleeve depicting Stiv nailed to a cross. I confess I haven't played that single for a good few years, but it's still tucked away in my record box...and it's nice to know it's there.
The Lords derived their name from the concept that rock 'n' roll was the new church for 'the kids', and their music was a swaggering brand of desperado-rock that touched base with the energy of punk, and the decadent aspects of the then newly-emerging goth scene. They released three studio albums (plus various singles, compilations, etc) and gigged absolutely everywhere. They never became megastars, but during the 80s they blew up a good rockin' storm, and made that mysterious crossover territory between punk and goth their own. In short, The Lords were probably the nearest thing we ever had in the UK to a Deathrock band.
The band went through assorted line-ups along the way, until at the end of the 80s the proverbial in-band tensions caused them to split for good. Stories still circulate about that final London gig, where Stiv emerged on stage for the encores wearing a T-shirt upon which he'd printed the music press advert placed by the other members of the band, seeking a replacement vocalist. That incident signalled the end of the Lords. Stiv went on to record a solo album before meeting a rather un-rock 'n' roll death in Paris (he was run over by a car) while Brian James became once more a member ofThe Damned, and played with the band on several 'original line-up' tours.
All of which means it's a surprise to find that The Lords Of The New Church have reformed and are back on the gig circuit. There's a new line-up, a new single, a new website: all of a sudden, The Lords are a current band again. This gig is the Lords' first London appearance for...well, I'd rather not think how long. Makes me feel old! A motley collection of glam-goths and late-model punks fills the Underworld: the desperados are back in town.
But first, the support bands. Opening the show is a fairly standard riff-and-shout punk band called (if their hand-sprayed banner is any guide) the Flatpigs. They're a three-piece, and they sound like a million other latter-day punk bands: staccato, barked vocals over bash-bash-bash music. They're well-drilled and tight, and the fact that the drummer takes most of the lead vocals and the bassist is a tall, gangling rasta give them a certain novelty factor...but in all honesty, we've heard this kind of stuff so frequently over the years that it just sounds like generic punk-by-numbers now.
The second band, Nurotica, turn out to be a far more interesting proposition. They're nothing to do with those rather tiresome nu-metallers Neurotica (and let's be thankful for that!), and the only thing they have in common with the Flatpigs is that they're a three-piece. Yep, the classic power trio line-up of guitar, bass, drums...and nothing else. This in itself is refreshing to see, especially after experiencing umpteen goth bands who tie themselves down to ticky-tocky drum machines and pad things out with pre-recorded backing tracks. Nurotica manage to make a multi-layered, complex sound from their minimal instrumentation. The guitar sometimes nudges the style of 'Killing an Arab' period Cure, while the overall package drives along with the bite and guts of vintage Pixies. It's impressive stuff. Although the band seem to have their own following (many of their songs are greeted with cheers of recognition) they're new to many people here - but they're obviously making an impact, as the area in front of the stage steadily fills up with interested punters, keen to see who's making this cool and intriguing noise. We'll definitely file Nurotica under 'further investigation required'...
And then, it's time for the stars of the show. After a flurry of roadie-activity on stage (The Lords Of The New Church seem to have roadies for everything - drums, guitars, beers, towels - you name it) they're on. The new frontman looks like a young Mick Jagger. Dave Tragenna also looks impressively youthful and lively: only Brian James seems to have been weathered by the years. He looks older than time, his face as creased as an unmade bed. He hunches over his guitar, playing with an economy of movement that suggests he's conserving his energy and letting the younger members of the band do all the leaping around. But still...they rock. Oh, most definitely. The set is essentially a 'greatest hits' workout: 'Dance With Me', 'Russian Roulette', 'Method To Our Madness', 'Pretty Baby Scream' - they're all here, plus a smattering of new songs. Curiously, the crowd don't go particularly wild. There are a few bodies jumping around down the front, and a few plastic beer glasses are lobbed at the stage (an old-skool punk sign of affection for a band) - but the full-on mosh I was expecting to kick off doesn't really happen. Most people just stand and stare, giving the band full attention, but not really getting into things. Maybe this illustrates that The Lords still have some work to do here: they can't expect automatic adulation from the fans. They're going to have to *prove* themselves!
The Jagger-esque singer aquits himself well, but he doesn't have that mad, bad, dangerous edge which was so much a part of Stiv's on-stage persona. That, in a nutshell, is probably the difference between The Lords then and The Lords now: these days, they're essentially a bunch of amiable good-time rockers, cheerfully knocking out a good old rock 'n' roll performance, but without that certain tinge of darkness, that feeling that things were being taken to the limit, which Stiv's louche presence brought to the band. Stiv also, it must be said, had a more powerful voice - certain songs tonight feature the presence of a second vocalist, who comes on and hollers loudly into his mic, and then vanishes backstage again. He's no great *singer* - I can only guess that his role is simply to inject a little more power into the vocals. Stiv never needed that kind of help!
The Lords throw in a cover of The Damned's 'New Rose' (a song written, of course, by Brian James), a toast to Stiv is proposed, and they finish up with a rendition of that first single, 'New Church', which seems to be based around a Bo Diddley riff. Strange, I don't remember the original single sounding like that - perhaps I should dig it out and play it again! Final verdict? A good rockin' show, and a welcome antidote to the EBM-dominated stuff which seems to be everywhere these days, but as I wandered out of the venue I couldn't escape the feeling that The Lords in their present incarnation are getting dangerously close to good-time bar band territory. Fun stuff, to be sure, and it's good to hear the old songs and all - but their cutting edge just isn't as sharp as it used to be...
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
Lords Of The New Church official website:
An excellent Lords Of The New Church fan-site - probably the best place to go for information on the band: http://www.angelsinexile.i12.com/lords/html (plus they have more photos from the Camden show)
Lords Of The New Church interview:
Bators fan-site: http://www.stivbators.com
The Damned's site: http://www.officialdamned.com
Sham 69 official site: http://www.sham69.com
Nurotica's website: http://website.lineone.net/~nurotica
April 26-27, 2002
~review and photos by Jezebel
Years ago, during and after the Blackout AD tour, I swore to all that was holy and otherwise that I would never go on tour again. It wasn't that the tour wasn't fun (it was)….but the idea of endless miles of road, bad food, icky hotels, shitty promoters, rude stagehands and backstage areas that were lacking in amenities but filled with egos just didn't sit well with my delicate nature. So what the hell was I doing driving out of Zurich towards Dornbirn, a blip on the map of Austria, at 9pm?
Gosh, I am so damn glad I did.
We arrived at the Hotel Krone, where all the bands and DJs had been booked into by the promoter, and were seamlessly checked in by a courteous receptionist who didn't even blink an eye at myself, Steve Carey (ex-This Burning Effigy), Simon Rippin (NFD, ex-Fields of the Nephilim) and his girlfriend. With a smile she sent us to our well-appointed, lovely, clean, pretty rooms. After what had to be the saltiest pizza ever created at a nearby restaurant, we settled into our rooms. I was suspicious already and assumed this was some sort of mirage and next day, when sound check would begin, THEN we would have the true and more accurate experience.
An early and delicious breakfast and we met up with our travelling companions over some of the local-brewed beer. Steve and Simon discussed the details of Friday's evening's Nostalgia show. In 1997 at the Sacrosanct Festival, the bands who had played had, in a drunken and insane moment, went up on stage and did a gothic all-star karaoke cover band. Playing and singing some of goth's most recognizable tunes, it had gone over incredibly, and now on Judgement Day's 5th anniversary, the promoter, Paul Cuska wanted to recreate the evening….this time with a bit more planning
We took a ride over to the venue to see what was what. We were immediately welcomed by some of the most organized and nicest stagehands I have yet to come across. We were offered coffee, tea…a place to sit. And once time had been arranged for sound check etc, we left, to return a few hours later.
There, we met the others who would take part in this insane event. Keep in mind, there had been one, that is ONE, rehearsal. That rehearsal included Steve, Simon and Daniele Tartaglia (ex-Burning Gates) in London. Joining them on the stage would be Michael Korner from Funhouse who would play second guitar and sing "Deliverance" by The Mission, Michele Piccolo (ex-Burning Gates) singing the two Nephilim songs, a New Model Army song and a Cure song, Rikki from Killing Miranda who would do his best Ian Astbury impression for a Cult addition and finally, Belle from Killing Miranda who was keen to get out from behind his drum kit and support Simon's playing with a small set up of his own.
What we had was (Killing Miranda were playing Saturday night and all had come to the sound check as Irish Dave was joining a second line-up) the members of probably four of the hardest drinking, wildest, talented and most well known bands in the UK/Europe gothic music scene. We had either a recipe for disaster or the ingredients for a miracle.
And me? I sat on the sidelines. Offering to get some beers if anyone needed, as it seemed that this was a refrigerator that never seemed to empty no matter how many trips I made up the stairs. A quick, efficient sound check (dare I say that?) and we were all off happily to the hotel, with plenty of time to get ready, have some food, relax. Are you confused as I was?
Back at the venue a bit later, we found ourselves in the backstage area, with beer, relaxed, calm, some minor details being sorted out, everyone cooperative, friendly, professional.
As the band took the stage, the crowd of about 300 pushed towards the stage. The show had been well promoted and for an event such as this, the crowd was large and was also ready.
From the first few chords of Preacherman, I knew it was going to be magical. And it was. The crowd roared, the band played with enthusiasm and strength. Michael Korner was really ripping into his guitar part, circling his arm over and over again throughout every song, getting the audience even more excited and flared up. Daniele, standing with one foot on a monitor and staring down over his shades was an imposing presence. Steve looked his uber-cool self, sporadically looking around and enjoyed the energy of the crowd and of his fellow band members.
Michele took the stage and the crowd roared. He got them well excited and ready for Rikki, who pounced on stage and asked "Who likes the Cult?" and to an enthusiastic roar, out came his cover version of Sanctuary. Who needs Ian Astbury? We had Rikki and his own spin on one of the corner pieces of gothic music and made the crowd dance, sway and sing along.
Simon was pounding and beating in the back, playing drums and generally enjoying the freedom. But even more so, was Belle from Killing Miranda, who away from the confines of his huge kit, was having a blast, using his hands on his cymbals, just splattering at them full tilt, using this sticks to bang out some background rhythm, dancing and just generally having a fine old time.
And it wasn't just that. Michele came back out for his new Model Army song, "Here Comes the War", smeared with what we later found out was shoe polish. With his short, cropped hair, "I swear it was the Terminator coming right at me!" explained Steve later, "Let's go Arnie"
Getting "serious," Michele talked of how there is war everywhere. We must fight the war and with a few more beats of Simon's manic drums, we were off. The crowd just absolutely losing itself. New Model Army fans doing that arm dance that is so synonymous with them. He followed up with "For Her Light" (FOTN), and the crowd was still high on it all, wanting more.
And they got it. Michael brought himself and his guitar away from the left side of the stage to take up the center mic to do what we all wanted to hear. Funhouse doing Mission. And the crowd loved it. Lapped it up. And he loved it. He smiled and laughed at the amazing reaction. Perhaps after so many years of the Mission comparison - it was about time he lived up to it and became just a little bit of Wayne for us before our very eyes. (and yes, it WAS about his ex wife)
Ending the set was Michele back again….this time to sing a cover of the cover by Creaming Jesus of The Cure's Forest. Forget the fact that he couldn't remember half the words. The words "and again and again and again" and "lost in the forest, lost in the forest" became the mantra of the weekend as he skilfully made forgetting the words an asset to his version.
As the band left the stage, there were hoots and hollers for more. Unfortunately, the band hadn't even thought that this would go over well, let alone be such a success and had no more to give. But the crowd were not to be left completely unsatisfied…..
Up came Paul Cuska (Kiss the Blade), Karsten Girke (Darc Entries) and Irish Dave (Killing Miranda) to take on the crowd. And did they. Irish Dave's renditions of Alice and First and Last Always gave everyone a great time and with his dark glasses and Carl McCoy inspired hat, was a presence on stage (Rikki better just watch out……tee hee). Following him was what we all later found out was a young local boy (really he was quite young) who debuted that nite…that very nite. He did Christian Death's "Spiritual Cramp" and Bauhaus' "Bela Lagosi". The crowd loved them and they got an equally enthusiastic response. The young lad's last song, Bela Lagosi's Dead of course went over, as a perennial favorite among goths. Although I think he may have indulged in the wine just a bit too much before his performance and ended up lying on the stage muttering, "Bella Lagosi's dead" even after the rest of the band had cleared the stage.
After, the club became just a club again and we mingled. Although the dance room was being dj'd by a number of well-known DJ's, I couldn't get into the sound and had to leave for either the upstairs backstage area or the uni like lounge area. Perhaps it was a cultural difference, but I couldn't get into the crowd or scene. Maybe because the bands were so good, I was ready to go home. I was done. But we did leave early. Unlike many of the others who stayed until the weeeeeeeee hours of the morning. It is my understanding that Austrian bars stay open until the last person leaves…this time it being about 6am.
Saturday and we were left to our own devices for most of the day. Dornbirn is a lovely city. Although late to ignite (the bars were dead on a Saturday as late as 6pm, odd to us from London), it was a simply elegant and friendly town. And cheap. The local brew which was delicious was only about 3 Euro for a pint - about $3…which may sound okay to Americans, but to Brits….that was phenomenal. And with an excellent exchange rate, we were able to get wine, beer, and cigarettes at next to nothing.
Back at the venue just in time to hang out a bit before Killing Miranda got to the stage. They were all relaxed and calm and ready to do what they do best, rock a venue onto its ear.
Taking the stage after Darth Vader's Death March, they opened up and got on a roll that never stopped. Rikki was alive and working hard to get the crowd involved with the show, daring them to applaud and cheer louder, challenging them to make more noise than the Italians could. Alien Dave was jumping around and generally looking like the sweet little kid he reminds me of…having the time of his life. Irish Dave stood or rocked, tearing out great sounds. And Belle, never a drip of sweat from that man no matter how hard he bangs out the driving rhythms that are the backdrop and spine to the KM sound. The band seemed, well, unimpressed with their performance. But shouldn't have. The crowd may not have been as loud and extroverted with their reaction as the night before, but a true indicator is that from where I stood, no one left once KM started playing and the crowd increased throughout the set. And hey - that merchandise table was quite busy afterward.
Okay, I should have stayed for the rest of the bands, but I was torn away by helping out at the KM merchandise table and chatting away with them. But from the reaction of the crowd as I could hear it, the rest of the bands went over well. The crowds were generally happy, satisfied and enjoyed the entire festival.
The festival….let's get back to that idea - festivals. With so many festivals going so dreadfully wrong, i.e. Leipzig last year, this year's pre-Eurorock, it is encouraging to know that festivals can be put on without hell having to be suffered through. Everyone associated with this festival was cooperative, professional and well, nice. You never felt that anything at any time was ever out of control or left to chance. When any problem came up (and there were only minor ones) they were dealt with in such a professional and efficient way that you realized nothing really was a problem, there were only solutions. The musicians all felt that they were treated fairly and given the freedom and respect that so many promoters fail to give to their artists. This is no Whitby (no offence to it intended). This was not just about fashion and oh yeah, there happen to be some bands playing. This is about music and fans who love it and the scene. Promoters who want the best for the bands and their fans. But you know what….forget all I have said, this is a small intimate festival and if I keep telling you all how great it is, it might become too big and lose what makes it so amazing…So….um yeah…it sucked.
as we frantically tried to get back to the airport on Sunday morning (never
book at 10am flight when you have an hour drive to the airport and don't
get home until 3am the night before drunk)….I remembered why I originally
wanted to be part of the music scene. The creative people, the energy of
live performance, being part of something that brings people a lot of happiness.
Soppy, yep - you bet it is. But perhaps I need to thank Paul of Judgement
Day for one thing - reminding me that gothic music and touring is not hell….but
just as decadent and exciting as you have to be to be sent there.
Judgement Day Festival
No url available
INTERVIEW WITH JULIAN TULIP'S LICORICE
~by Sonya Brown
Eclectic, like a candy store filled with exotic and brightly colored treats, Julian Tulip has the best confections! His "Licorice" is sweet vocals, spoken word and bizarre poetry intermingled with electronic brilliance. The Umbrella Party, Licorice's latest release, takes you into a world of strange taxi rides where dolls aren't supposed to bite.
Julian Tulip lives a life of bobble-headed dolls, retro-shaded lamps, strings of Christmas lights, and nostalgic movie posters. Alternating shades of darkness with sunshine-bright fields of flowers, Julian brings a flair to spoken word. If Julian were unable to express himself musically, I believe he would be one of those nomadic street souls wandering through eternity, mumbling genius phrases to himself. His moto "we pull up and the freaks arrive" illuminates his side-show persona.
now gives Starvox insight into his slightly distorted world...
SONYA: Please tell us about your unique style of combining spoken word with your music... what creative processes occur during the creation of your music?
TULIP: I have always been intrigued by spoken word artists who are inspired by, and talk about, life in the real world - the dark and dirty stuff we all feel. You know, like jealousy, scorn, crisis, sorrow, all those not-so-pretty things that we all go through; only some of us are more effected and scarred by it than others. I hate it when it's real, but love it when I write about it. A lot of my music includes a little spoken word, mostly because it works so well with my flow and texture, and that I feel it gets my lyrical story across better than singing sometimes.
SONYA: What usually comes first for you, the poetry or the music?
TULIP: Poetry, almost always.
SONYA: Some of your lyrics are rather eclectic and often fairly bizarre, where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?
TULIP: I get my words from my writings and I make my writings out of all the weird stuff happening in my life. I don't think my writing is all that weird, but I also think that 75% of the lyrics out there suck. My words come from a lot of places, but I am mostly inspired by relationships and the ever too common 'circle of friends drama'... the wonderful, wonderful drama that always makes for a good verse.
SONYA: I picture you sitting in a coffee shop somewhere watching people as they come and go. Please tell us what you like to do for fun when you aren't making music?
TULIP: I don't really hang about in cafes. I used to, but not much lately. When I'm not making music, I am usually working on one of my websites, typing my book, with my friends or at a bar. I have also started a multimedia business - www.strangehighway.com. Developing that consumes a lot of my time.
SONYA: Book? Tell us about this book!
TULIP: The book... a week in the life of an outcast, journal stories and twisted experiences. I have boxes of journals, napkins, matchbooks and all the other stuff I've been writing on for the last several years. I decided to make a strange, disconnected book out of it. I also plan on accompanying each story with some photos.
SONYA: What is your favorite place to hang out in Portland, Oregon?
TULIP: Lately it's been my house, but other than that I like Embers on a Wednesday, the Matador and the nickel arcade on Belmont.
SONYA: You recently purchased a new toy... please tell us about it, and the other gear used to bring Licorice to life.
TULIP: Ah my sampler... I got an Emu E5000 ultra, she's a nice toy. It's simply another boy toy that makes cool sounds. I've been using a lot of soft synths lately... HALion, Pro52, Scorpion, Waldorf Attack... stuff like that. I use Cubase to sequence and Soundforge to edit. My studio is pretty small but it's good. I have some decent outboard gear, like my sampler, a Lexicon MPX effects box and a Roland VS880ex multitrack.
SONYA: Where do you most like to perform live... and what future tour plans do you have?
TULIP: I like to perform in other cities, actually. It's a bit more fun for me. I have only done about 15 shows in Portland, and I enjoyed all of them. I think the Tonic was my favorite, hard to say. I have put together a pretty nice band and we are discussing a tour now, but the plans are up in the air until the cellist gets back from Australia. I also need a guitar player if you know anyone.....
SONYA: How does your live performance differ from your recordings?
TULIP: Well, the biggest changes are made on the piano/voice songs... I change lyrics and alter the arrangements sometimes, just to have fun with it. Every song I perform live is a bit different than the recorded version, I make the heavier songs heavier, the darker songs darker, and the pretty songs uglier.
SONYA: Do you ever use samples? If so, what is the most unusual sample you have ever used?
TULIP: I do, but not so much on my first 3 records. My newer material uses tons of samples; still, the most unusual sample I have used is one I found. I came across a cassette someone made at a funeral, and the 'we are standing here today....' part I used at the beginning of 'Juliette Loves Me' on the SULK record. Yes, I know I am going to hell for this.
SONYA: I can imagine you doing a movie soundtrack. What do you consider the best movie you ever saw? What movie would you most like to do the soundtrack for?
TULIP: I would love to score movies and I am sure I would make a classic soundtrack. The best movie I ever watched would probably be "Basquiat", it's one of my favorites, who knows though. I would love to do the soundtrack for a foreign film like "City of the Lost Children", or an offbeat domestic film like "PI" or "Clockwork Orange".
SONYA: Please tell us about your work with Single Cell Orchestra...
TULIP: We met through a mutual friend several years ago, and we became close friends in the following years. He's a very talented guy. We have done tons of work together, including 'We Should Hang Out More Often' on the SULK record. We even recorded an entire album of electronic chaos together in San Francisco. He has all the other music we recorded, mainly because the material was more his type of music and I would rather him put it out than me.
SONYA: What other side projects or collaborations with other artists do you have in the works?
TULIP: I am working with Form/Alkaline again, they sent me a CD of about 20 songs to talk/sing on and I did my thing. I am waiting for them to finish it. It is amazing material and I am lucky to be the vocalist. I may record a bit more with 16volt, depending on their schedule, and I am recording with a few local bands. One called Z0xx, he helps me on live shows and he wrote that little Xebox sounding segue at the end of 'You'll Probably Die Young'. As far a side projects I have too many to list... One is a spoken word, cello and noise project that I have been putting together for years... it's a lot of fun and I hope to release some of the material.
SONYA: Do you have any other releases pending?
TULIP: I have finished recording another record called Ice Cream for Freaks. I'm touching it up now and I plan on releasing it soon, maybe next spring. Some of the tracks are at www.mp3.com/licorice. It's a weird and beautiful record, like all my stuff. I am enjoying messing around with it, making it perfect. I am also recording a 2 cd record called Upstairs, Downstairs, I hope to finish it by next summer.
SONYA: You seem to have a wonderful sense of self fashion - please share your thoughts on fashion... and what is your favorite piece of clothing?
TULIP: That's so kind. I have no thoughts on fashion except: girls clothing is far cooler than guys clothing (and it fits better) and Satan is khaki and some sandals. My favorite piece of clothing is my Gary Numan t-shirt.
SONYA: The track "Juliet Loves Me" is my favorite SULK track. Please tell me a bit about Juliet.... is this a real person?
TULIP: She is a real person, we were friends a few years back. We were real close friends, she had a real strong inside to the dark scene and she took me out to some real weird places. I loved it. I wrote all of it down and made a song out of it. I miss her, she had a slow way about her.
SONYA: What can you tell readers about the recording differences in your newest release The Umbrella Party, and your debut CD, SULK?
TULIP: The biggest difference is that The Umbrella Party was recorded entirely in my own studio. I was able to mess around for hours on smallest details. SULK was partly recorded that way, but it was also recorded in some pro studios that I was working for at the time. The benefit of my private studio is that I can spend hours getting it right, the down side is that it's not a $100,000 studio with $5000 mics and a drum room. My next record is going to be another combination of studios.
SONYA: When and where will The Umbrella Party be available to the public?
TULIP: when: I plan on releasing it this summer, depends on if I can get some help. Where: hopefully everywhere, I have two good records to distribute and a third one I need to get mastered... and a fourth one being recorded. I have the goods.
SONYA: I notice versions of the track "oh" are on both SULK and The Umbrella Party... After the release of The Umbrella Party, will SULK still be available? Why did you decide to include "oh" on both cd's?
TULIP: 'Oh' is quite a bit different on The Umbrella Party, It's a more subtle, creepy version. The SULK version of 'Oh' is like a shattered, twisted Carnival ride. SULK will definitely be available after I release The Umbrella Party, I tagged it on to the end of The Umbrella Party because people really liked the new version and since it's such a short song I figured It wouldn't hurt.
SONYA: The Cinderella Theory seems to be a running theme in the Umbrella Party. What is the Cinderella Theory?
TULIP: The Cinderella Theory applies to girls. The concept that Cinderella is now a perfect, happy girl in every way, a real role model. Beauty paid off and now everything is perfect. A lot of my lyrics are about girls who want so hard to be accepted and fit in somewhere, but they can't and never will. sorry.
SONYA: You mention taxis in both SULK and The Umbrella Party... what is the importance of taxis to Julian Tulip?
TULIP: Taxis are best after the party. A lot of weird things have happened to me in the back of a cab. There's something about being chauffeured by a total stranger that I love. Maybe I have a cab fetish.
SONYA: The track "you'll probably die young" on The Umbrella Party cd is hauntingly beautiful and I love the keyboards. How long have you been playing keyboards? Have you had any formal training on keyboards?
TULIP: I have been playing keyboards for about 7 years, and I have never had a lesson in my life. There is going to be a longer, more emmersive version of that song on my next record by the way.
SONYA: Please tell us about your contribution to the compilation A Cage Went In Search of a Bird.
TULIP: Somnimage contacted me about writing a track for the compilation. I got some of Kafkas diaries, re-arranged the text and recorded it. That, and music played backwards and help from Chandra, a friend of mine, she's the girl talking in the background. I'm a big fan of Kafka, and I'm lucky to be on the comp, it's real good.
SONYA: How long has recording music been a part of your life?
TULIP: I have been recording music for about 5 years, on and off. Now that I have my own studio, I record pretty much every day.
SONYA: Where does Julian Tulips' Licorice go from here?
TULIP: I want to look around for a decent label to put out my records (something I have been putting off until I was certain of my musical direction), keep recording, and hopefully go on some tours... keep myself busy... the basic stuff we all want. I am working on a music video now, which I will post on my website as soon as I finish it.
Julian Tulips' Licorice
A Vision in Black
Dolls Aren't Supposed to Bite
Pieces of Trevor
My Invisible Ashtray
Pieces of April
Scissorkiss and Sugartit
Pieces of Miguel
Crumb (The Umbrella Party)
Pieces of Chandra
Sticking Pins in Francis
Another Morning To Burn (Wallpaper Dress)
Pieces of Doris
Juliette Loves Me
The Day Gina Lost Her Smile
April Needs to be Kissed
Funeral Jewelry and Fairy Liquid
Taxis are Fun
We Should Hang Out More Often
Regan of All About Eve
(photos by Mick Mercer)
The reunion of All About Eve was unanticipated but was completely appreciated. With all their side projects, no one ever thought that AAE would ever see the light of day again. But - for the past few years, the fairy lights of AAE has been mesmerizing audiences throughout the UK (damn when WILL they come to the States).
The ingredients of well crafted music, interesting and believable lyrics combine to make AAE one of the bands in the music world that has never perhaps reached the pinnacle of fame, but have had long lasting affects on the music scene and musicians. Some of these are to be released on a new CD of old Eden releases, b-sides and some pre-Phonogram demo's under the title "Return To Eden - The Early Recordings."
I have been lucky enough to encounter Julianne Regan over the last year or so not only as an excited fan in her audience, but backstage and in social occasions as well. So at ease with herself and with what she does, she gives off a serene and contented aura and of course, you yourself all of a sudden forget you are speaking to "her" and find yourself just enjoying an interesting, funny and charming women with much to share and much to create.
even luckier….I was able to get some time with her now, as the Eves continue
Jezebel: All About Eve has been back together for over two years now, but what prompted the reunion?
Julianne: The reunion really just kind of happened. The Mission had three UK dates and Wayne called up Andy and asked him if we'd like to get back together and be their support for those dates. Andy met me after work one night (yes, I'd had to fall back to earth and get a 'proper job') and laid the idea on me. He said afterwards that he thought I'd tell him to 'f*ck off' but he caught me in a good mood, feeling all positive and mature, and so I thought 'why not? It really was that simple. I don't know why I just went for it. I think it was just such an odd thing to do, you know, I was working in an office, pretty happy with things, music and all that stuff all gone behind me, but, I just felt curious and thought it might be fun.
Jezebel: How did you feel about the overwhelmingly welcome reaction you received from the fans?
Julianne: Couldn't believe it. I thought that people would've forgotten us or just thought we were past it and that we were a bit sad and very irrelevant. No way did I think that we'd get such a warm and positive response.
Jezebel: Has that continued since the initial reunion shows?
Julianne: Very much so. On the whole, we've just done a load of acoustic shows and that's been a very different kettle of fish. Still a warm reaction, very warm, amazingly so when it's just a girl and a voice and two guys and two acoustic guitars. At times, the fever pitch has been like at an electric show! It never fails to amaze me that people get off on us so much. Call it low self-esteem!!
Jezebel: As you have told your fans through your website and the discussion group, Marty (Wilson-Piper) has left the group and is now working on solo projects in New York and a new guitarist has joined…..how does this affect what the Eves are doing now and what kind of change do you think the fans will hear in the overall sound of the group?
It can only be a good thing really. With Marty, it had come to the point
where his main band, The Church, were having a sudden increase in activity
and that caused a conflict of interests. We'd always managed to strike
a balance and plan ahead carefully until recently, but, it had come to
the point where Andy and I had to decide whether we were happy for AAE
to be a side project, or whether it was worth more than that. We decided
it was worth more. There comes a point when you've 'reformed' for a couple
of years where it starts to feel cheap and embarrassing that you are still
churning out songs from ten years ago without lighting a few fireworks
with new material. For example, Marty has been away with the Church for
a couple of months now and was only going to be able to do two days rehearsal
before the May tour. Two days. That's not enough to rehearse the old stuff
never mind write and rehearse anything new. Also, as he has just relocated
to New York, AAE with him in the line-up was always going to be a part-time
thing and Andy and I want to go for it!
The new guitarist, Toni Haimi sounds great. He has a different style and sound to Marty, in fact, he has more in common with Tim (Bricheno, original guitarist) than he does with Marty! He has a style of his own and plays the old stuff with verve and breathes life into it while injecting his own thing into the new stuff. He's pretty much the perfect AAE guitarist for this century! He can play dirty and play sweet. Just what we need…and he lives in Kentish Town ……and that's a lot closer than Brooklyn!
Jezebel: With the departure of Marty, how will the sound of the new material you and Andy are currently working on change if at all?
Julianne: Well, we are free to experiment a little more. We aren't going to turn into Portishead or Eminem, but we can incorporate loops and more 'modern' drum sounds into our thing. Marty was a bit loop-phobic. I think he despaired of Andy and I sometimes, thinking that we were fashion-followers. We're not; we just keep our ears and minds open and don't want to be buried alive by our own 'old' sound.
As for guitars, well, Marty is a bit more traditional than Andy and I. Not that he's old-fashioned, he just has a sound and plays to that sound. Which is fine, but, not if you are trying to break out of your own confines. I think Toni, once he's settled in, will help us take risks.
Jezebel: Tell us more about the new material you and Andy are working on? I understand it has a lot more reverb there and is a lot more edgier than previous work from the Eves?
Julianne: Well, it's hard to be objective really because when you first write a song, it sounds new and radical and then when you've done a few rehearsals, it starts to nestle in nicely alongside the old stuff. But I think it's just that I'm used to it now. There are loops, but nothing to scare anyone. The songs are still 'songs' because that's what we like and that's what people who are into us like. There are more 'strange noises' creating atmosphere in the background, the guitars range from choppy and in your face, to sparkly and spangled. I think it's still very much us, but, a more 'contemporary' version, just, growing up without getting all Radio Two and AOR.
Jezebel: You were a main part of so much of underground music history, being the "voice" in Severina, being involved with Eves and your professional relationships with people like Wayne Hussey, etc, but with the break-up of the Eves and after some of your other projects such as Jules et Jim, we didn't hear anything from you for a while. What were you up to and how have those experiences influenced what you are producing and creating now?
Julianne: I just went to ground really. I thought I was fed up of music but I was just fed up of the industry and the disappointments and frustration of that side of it. I took a bit of time out, did a kind of solo project called Mice, did an album under that name, released it, record company folded a few weeks later so two years work down the drain… Jules and Jim is an ongoing thing and totally different to AAE and that was a great diversion for me…But I was quiet because I had to gather myself and decide if I still really wanted to do music and whether I had anything to offer. I think I thought I could just crawl under a stone and be left alone but it was only a matter of time before I was dragged out again!
Jezebel: You have worked with so many different people over the years outside AAE, what prompts those relationships for you? How do they affect your work with Eves or do you try to keep them separate?
Julianne: All the things I've done have really just fallen at me. Someone asks me to do something and depending on how confident I feel and how much I like the stuff, I'll decide whether to do it or not. When Steve asked me to do some singing with This Burning Effigy, I thought, well, let's hear it, I heard it, loved it and did it. It was great. It reminded me I loved singing and I loved LOUD things! The Mission support thing was like slipping into an old shoe. Great confidence booster and fun. Mice was a great experience as I was very hands on in the production, did about 70% of the song writing myself, artwork, everything, played more guitar than I'd ever done before…Jules et Jim is an amazing way to learn about grooves and schmaltzy Euro-cool-melodies……….Everything I've done, even if kept totally apart from AAE, will have a subtle effect on AAE just because it becomes part of my experience. I think it's great to work on stuff outside. It brings air and light into my contribution to AAE. It's like the project Andy had when AAE was inactive, The Lucy Nation. The way he worked in that project, the sounds he crunched out, the atmospheres he created, well, AAE can only benefit from that kind of broadening of horizon.
Jezebel: The Eves, particularly yourself, seem to have a good connection and communication with their fans….unlike many other bands that seem to dismiss the importance of them. I know that you post to the yahoo newsgroup from time to time. Have you "spied" in on it to see what is being said? How do you feel about some of the intensity of some the fan's devotion to you and the band?
Julianne: I have had spies report back to me! The intensity is flattering. I feel that intense about music I listen to sometimes. I think the 'devotion' can verge on 'perceived ownership' with a small handful of people in that they are hypercritical if you don't do what they expect you to do, but on the whole I think they trust us and give us the benefit of the doubt and wait and see what happens. It's fine and dandy until someone turns up at your door on Valentines Day with chocolates, flowers and tarot cards!!
Jezebel: As a fan myself, I have always found that your shows are so different from many other performers in that you include your audience in such a respectful and intelligent way. Do you enjoy performing? And as the Eves have done both this year, which do you prefer, acoustic or semi-electric?
Julianne: I love performing when there's a good chemistry between the audience and us, and between members of the band of course! Sometimes, to be honest, it can be hit and miss. But it is usually 'hit'. You just have to leave worries and gripes in the dressing room if at all possible. There are usually A few magical moments on even the worst night of a tour for us! I think we're lucky I that we enjoy the music so much. You can tell if a band is bored / just doing it for the money / going through the motions.
As for preferring acoustic or semi-acoustic then I would have to say neither because I am so looking forward to the FULL electric tour in May!!
Jezebel: And what song do you enjoy singing the most? Of course that leads to the question, which of the Eve's songs are your favourites and why…
Julianne: At the moment, my favourite song to sing is probably 'Outshine the Sun' from our Ultraviolet album. Favourite Eve songs? Well, "In The Clouds", for the memories of the innocence we had when we recorded it, "Outshine The Sun", because we always try to blow the roof off when we play it and it's uplifting but sinister too, and "Phased" because it is always verging on 'out of control' when played live, and it makes me feel like I have access to space and the Universe without the use of drugs!
Jezebel: And if you could tell your fans one secret about yourself…
Although I am quite a deep, sensitive soul, who weeps at sad films and
stares at the stars most nights, I LOVE going to IKEA with Andy!! Hmmm,
contemporary Scandinavian light fittings and flat-packed furniture does
it for me every time!
~ By Matthew
I remember the first time I heard a Projekt artist. It was Love Spirals Downwards, and their first release, Idylls and I bought it on a whim when I saw it reviewed in a catalogue by Relapse Records, where it was described as beautifully depressing with angelic female vocals. I was blown away, needless to say. Next I stumbled across Lycia’s A Day In The Stark Corner. I laid in my room for almost a week and just absorbed every note, painful and soothing all the same. I began asking myself “What is up with this Projekt label? Is every band on here this good?” And then I heard Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s This Lush Garden Within and I felt like I was listening to not only music that reflected my own inner emotions, feelings of deep lonely sadness, and frustrations, but I felt like I was listening to the music I would create for myself if I were able to. I then remember thinking, “Maybe I should write music too?”
I could gush for hours about the impact Projekt records and Black Tape For A Blue Girl have had on my life and my own artistic aspirations. Nonetheless, I think it is pretty plain to see the importance it has had on me, and I am just one of an incalculable amount of people that have been affected so profoundly by Sam Rosenthal’s musical vision and the bands he has shared with the world through his record label. Projekt Records is to dark music fans today what 4AD was in the 1980s, and that is certainly something to be proud of.
caught up with Sam Rosenthal, and we discussed a wide array of things pertaining
to the latest Black Tape release The Scavenger Bride, which hit
stores last month and has already received rave reviews from all over the
place. He offered insight into the creative process and his
own artistic vision, the difficulties and pleasures of running a successful
label and finally, the upcoming three-day dark music extravaganza, Projektfest,
which will be held in Philadelphia over Memorial Day Weekend.
Starvox: The Scavenger Bride is the first official ‘concept’ album you have ever really done. Did you intend this album to be a little less personal than usual?
Sam: Yes, I suppose so. Like I say to Lisa, 'I write in my journal less these days, because there aren't many things wrong with my personal life...' And that probably also applies to my lyrics, as well. In the past, I dealt a lot with the things I was going through, the confusing and painful situations I was going through. Things with Lisa are very good, so I don't have that "bad stuff" to write about. The natural evolution is to deal with things that are a bit less directly about me. A bit more intellectualized, yet still back to an emotional core.
Starvox: Where did the story and ideas originate?
Sam: Lisa and I were in Italy right around New Years 1999. We went to a Museum of Medieval Torture, and there was a device called "the scavenger's daughter" which was used to pull people in upon themselves. I liked the name and also the metaphor - in so far as we often crush ourselves under our own weight. We let external things be the "force" that we allow to destroy us. That was the first idea that went into the album....
Starvox: Why Prague?
Sam: I'm a big Kafka fanatic, so that was the first reason. I guess that as the story developed, I felt it was very European and it would be nice to set it in a European city. As it would seem a bit twee to set it in London 1913, or Paris 1919... I felt that Prague was a good choice.
Starvox: What roles did each of the different artistic and literary influences play in sculpting the story?
Sam: Oh my.... It's really hard to pick a specific song and say "this was purely inspired by such and such" because there are so many different little threads woven into the core of the album. I think that all artists liberally borrow from other artists. If they are talented, they can hide what they have appropriated to the point that it seems like original work. However, I prefer to attribute when the theft is very direct..... So "the whipper," "like a dog/letter to brod" and "the doorkeeper" all have Kafka influences directly imbedded in them.
Starvox: The lyrics on the new album are much ‘grittier’ than usual; there is a very realist tone to the album’s imagery – was this intentional? Did you want to try to transcend expectations?
Sam: Transcend expectations? Um, I don't look at it that way. While I will agree to purposefully grittier elements, it had nothing to do with trying to *not* exceed... but rather with making the story more realistic. To give it some definite corners and edges, rather than being purely ethereal. For example, I wanted "the lie which refuses to die" to be a story that is very tangible, you can picture that one.
Starvox: One of the things I initially disliked about The Scavenger Bride is that a great many of the songs on the album were really short, and seemed to be merely fragments or sketches. There were a lot of great melodies, harmonies, and ideas that seemed like they could have been developed into more intricate songs. I know that the album is meant to be listened to as a whole, but what am I missing or misunderstanding about the album?
Sam: Well, to say they were "sketches" is to suggest that the songs are incomplete, and I don't see them that way. I think that you said something to that effect in your previous Starvox review, as well. Let me say that those shorter songs often got *just as much* work as a longer song, so they weren't "easy" or "throw away" songs for me. I felt it would be interesting to challenge myself, to see if I could get everything I needed said in a minute and a half. It would have been easy enough to stretch "the doorkeeper" out to three or four minutes, but to me that wasn't necessary. "The doorkeeper" and "the whipper" are stories that jumped off from Kafka Parables. They are short asides or interludes, within the whole story. For that reason, the shorter the sweeter. The more exact they could be.
As far as if there is something that you are missing or misunderstanding about the album.... mmm? That's hard for me to answer. A song like "like a dog/letter to brod" is four shorter song-segments that segue together.... dissolve together. I could have dissolved other songs together to make longer movements, but I liked them as shorter elements.
Starvox: The new CD doesn’t seem to be as heart wrenching as past works. Do you feel that Black Tape is moving on to ‘lighter’ realms – a greater focus on more modern introspection, and gentler atmospheres as opposed to depressive lamentations? It seems like you have reached a point in your life where you have partially filled the emptiness that was so apparent on your early works. There is still something earnest and honest about your music, that is for sure, but it seems like the really painful confessions have moved into an understated celebratory and optimistic attitude.
Sam: Well, I suppose that really depends on how you look at it. I see reviews that call it bleak and full of angst, full of pain, and unending.... blah blah blah. Personally, I feel that every album has a sense of optimism. A sparkle of hope, or a glimpse of the path that needs to be taken in order to get to a better place. I agree that I am personally much happier in my life, than I was in 1993 or 1986.... But let's not make the mistake to suggest that I'm putting out groovy happy cheery music here (laughs).
Starvox: (laughing) Of course not! You had several guest musicians appear on the album – Michael from Unto Ashes, Christopher from Judith, Brett from Audra, and Martin from Attrition. How did all these collaborations develop? Did you initially write these parts for these particular people, or did it all come together afterward?
Sam: A little bit of both. For example, I had the words that Martin speaks in "the scavenger daughter" well before anything was written musically. I emailed him the words and asked him to record them and send them back to me on a CD - R. Then they sat around for a while 'til I found the right song for them. Michael from Unto Ashes came in when songs were well under way, and we made stuff up in the studio.... nothing was really planned. I would just say, "Try playing something here, and let's see what happens...." And he'd come up with something I enjoyed and then we'd lay it down. With the vocals, I always write the melodies and words, and then send CD - Rs to the various singers to rehearse with. Sometimes they are VERY EXACT, such as most of what Elysabeth sings.... and sometimes they take liberties with it, such as "a livery of bachelors." My guide for that one was quite over-the-top. Very Bowie or Adrian Belew. Then Athan brought it back a bit, which is fine... because I knew what I sang was just a bit *too* wacky.... Though I knew he would make it work, when I was writing the guide melodies.
Starvox: Any fun studio anecdotes you would like to share? Who was the easiest and most fun to work with? Do you plan on recording any more collaborations on future Black Tape albums?
Sam: Certainly. I had a lot of fun with everyone in the studio, this time around. Each session was great, because it got me a bit closer to having the album created, and also because it put more flesh upon the skeleton I had created.
Starvox: The new CD has a cover of Sonic Youth’s “Shadow Of A Doubt.” At first people might have a hard time relating Sonic Youth’s music with Black Tape, but they have quite a few very dark and atmospheric songs on their earlier albums. Before I even heard the cover, being familiar with both bands, I could easily hear the way you would have handled the music. I knew the jangly guitars and bass lines would perfectly translate into your characteristic echo piano sound. But I was wondering how you actually got into Sonic Youth and what sparked the idea to cover the song?
Sam: I've been a Sonic Youth fan since "Evol" back in 1986. I don't love everything on the albums from that period, some of it is too punky for me (which isn't to say that I don't enjoy "Death Valley '69" or "Starpower"); but the stuff with the minimalist influence is really great. "Shadow of a doubt" is one of my favorites they have done, and I have thought about *how* I would cover it. It was actually the first song I recorded for the album (there was other stuff I recorded in the first half of 2001, but it was all scrapped).
Starvox: You had mentioned to me in the past that Kim and Thurston really dug the cover. What did they have to say about the song?
Sam: Oh no, I didn't say they gave an opinion on the cover. They just seemed to think it was cool that I recorded a cover of that song... Let's just say there hasn't been a lawsuit, which I guess means they are "happy" with it (laughs).
Starvox: Not so much on the latest album, but many of your lyrics seem extremely personal; do you ever feel vulnerable revealing so much of yourself to your listeners?
Sam: Naw, I don't have a problem with that. On one hand, I feel that all art should be extremely personal. On the other hand, I feel that you never know when something is *really* personal, and when it's maybe about somebody else or just something that I made up! There's a lot of personal stuff on the new album, but it's hidden behind characters I've created. So that makes it harder for you to figure out which is which....
Starvox: How would you say your views and values have changed over the years with Black Tape? How have you grown as a person, what valuable lessons have you learned?
Sam: I'm definitely a much more secure and defined person, now. If I had to deal with the 1986 personality of Sam, I wouldn't have much patience for him. Because I really permitted people to lead me around by the nose. I was a doormat much of the time. Over the years, I have really learned how to deal with this problem, and I don't take shit from people any more. Is that's too brutal of me? I'm 36. You'd hope that by 36, I'd have learned how to deal with that...
Starvox: How would you describe Lisa’s impact on your life?
Sam: Some people have the mistaken belief that finding a safe and loving relationship is a bad thing for an artist. That it will lead to stagnation and happy songs. I have never believed that. I think that security and love allows you to be who you really are, rather than who you pretend to be to try to impress people. Lisa and I both have room to live our lives, without feeling confined by our relationship. So, we have a lot of freedom to be ourselves and we stay together because we WANT TO, not because we feel forced or obliged to.
Starvox: A lot of fans have long admired and commented on how perceptive a lyricist you can be, especially regarding the inner thoughts and emotional conflicts of women. What is your secret? How can the rest of us dogs get in better touch with our feminine side? ;)
Sam: Well, that's a tough task for any man.... and it would be hard to give an answer in an easy to follow program. I think that listening and empathizing is key. Also thinking and letting your intuition through. Stop doing what you think "guys should do" and start listening to your heart.
Starvox: On the last two albums, the image of a ‘bride’ is obviously prevalent. Both presentations are very complex and differ in many ways. How would you describe their differences and what in your personal life, if anything, lead to the shift in perspective?
Sam: The Bride in "As one aflame" is a very Duchampian Bride. She's very untouchable, untouched. She hasn't really experienced life, or hasn't really understood what she's experiencing. The Scavenger Bride, is much more of this world, much more in the experience. It's also that her character is more thought through and developed. Instead of just sort of appearing in some songs on "aflame," I knew the bride of the new album would be there throughout.... so there's more flesh and bones.
Starvox: What is it about the image of a bride? There are always darker toned Romantic metaphors and allegories dealing with brides in literature – everything from German Gothic tales to Dickens’ “Great Expectations” and I am sure a lot of other more obvious examples. But what is it about the figure of the bride that has such a tragic potential to you?
Sam: Well, Marcel Duchamp liked the idea of a bride, because she's a person in transition. In a theoretical way, the Bride is at the pinnacle of one state (virgin) before the transition to the married state. It's not so much about deflowering, as it is about a build-up of emotion and energy that is *about to be* redirected to a new state of being. In a way, it's very mathematical or geometric, the way he conceived the bride as a motor of desire. This interpretation, then, really has nothing to do with romantic metaphors; rather with very intellectual subplots and mechanisms. There is a lot of erotic energy being harnessed in the bride, then.
Starvox: Do your views reflect your own personal insecurities or fears of marriage? Or perhaps more accurately, are these images you use a kind of exorcism, flushing out fears that you have overcome over the years and with experience?
Sam: Well, I've never had a fear of marriage, so I would have to say 'No.' When something is right (like my relationship with Lisa), I had no emotional worries about marriage. The Bride is a character, in that sense. [She is] much more about eroticism and desire, then the tangible facts of marriage. If you look at the bride as she is dealt with on the two albums, there's really not much about the Bachelors... certainly they aren't dealt with as equals... but on the other hand, it's not a bunch of criticism of the concept of marriage. There's very little about marriage at all.... except in the story on the new album that's titled "nothing I can say" with the last line where the bride thinks: "you ask if I’d like to be your bride? I don't even think I can be your friend." Aside from that, it really doesn't deal much with marriage.
Starvox: Can you recall, if you don’t mind, the very worst and insulting review that Black Tape has ever received? I don’t mean flippant or immature dismissals of the music, but accomplished writers or journalists that meticulously picked your music apart and it really got under your skin. What advice can you give in overcoming harsh critics and how do you think criticism has affected your growth as a musician?
Sam: Well, I don't really think that an accomplished writer has ever picked my music apart, as you describe. Mostly it's this. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of reviews I have received, I seriously doubt that more than a handful of the writers ever really seriously gave the album a complete listen, or repeated listens. So they review it based on their misperceptions and the press material we send. My point is that I take it all with a grain of salt because ultimately their comments don't make a bit of difference. That said, years ago I use to really get upset about bad reviews. Because I would build up anger and dwell on how I would reply, but there was no way to get my comments back to them. Anyway, one of the stupidest reviews of yore was from the L.A. Weekly, a lot of that typical snide "holier than thou" writer crap. Nowadays, I look at it and it doesn't bother me too much. Back then, I took one of his comments (that my songs were "emotionally impotent") and used it in the lyrics to "The Hypocrite is Me." There are a number of occasions where I have taken a nasty comment and turned them into words for my characters. I think that's the best revenge.
As for advice.... critics don't matter. They shouldn't stop you from creating the art you want to create....
Starvox: Now for something a bit more pleasant – what about the most flattering review? Do you ever feel awkward at how expressive your fans can be about your music and how much it means to them?
Sam: It is a bit weird, in so far as I cannot experience the music that way. I can enjoy the music.... but it can't be as special for me, because I'm too close to it. And also, I'm *just a guy* Just a guy who happens to make this sort of music. So I cannot delude myself and think "oh yeah, I *am* a genius, you know!" because that's just absurd. I'm a guy who makes this music....
Starvox: Projekt has come a long way since it’s inception. Do you feel you have accomplished what you had always hoped? What are your current goals and aspirations for the label?
Sam: Since I never had any particular goals, I would say that 'Yes,' I have achieved what I had hoped to do and then about a thousand times more. I never thought I'd be doing this for a living. Either putting out my own music or other people's music.... as far as goals.... paying the rent, paying off the credit cards, getting this interview finished (laughs)...
Starvox: I would imagine you are quite a busy man. What is a typical day in the life of Sam Rosenthal? Besides running the label, what other day-to-day obligations do you have?
Sam: I get up between 7 and 8.... I start working at Projekt as soon as I get down the stairs.... and I stop working between 6 and 8. That's pretty much what I do every day.... It's incredibly busy at Projekt right now.... after the festival, things will slow down a bit and Lisa's going to have our baby.... after that, I plan to start work on a new album.... then I'll start spending a bit more time on music, till it gets to about 20 hours a week on music, and only about 40 hours at Projekt.... I'd much rather be doing that!
Starvox: How do you manage to set aside the time to accomplish so much?
Sam: I really don't have many analog friends. Most of my friends are people I email, like Bret from Audra or Steve from Area.... I certainly don't go out of the house often enough, which is a drag since we live in Queens which is really close to Manhattan, and there's so much we *could* be doing. We went to the Zoo last week....
Starvox: What is the most frustrating thing about running the label? What are some of the biggest hassles and let downs you have experienced?
Sam: Honestly, the biggest let down is the way many of the artists don't take their careers as seriously as I do. They stumble, shoot themselves in the foot, act like amateurs, and get me to waste a lot of my time and money on them.... when they really don't have the commitment they need to have. I have come to expect this failing, from most artists, now. I try as hard as I can, but I know they are gonna let themselves down. I am working hard to separate from that, because I have spent too many years as a mother bird to them. NowLisa and I will have our own baby.... and these other baby birds will need to jump out of the nest. Probably crashing into the pavement. I'm finished catching them, however. How's that for blunt? (laughs)
Starvox: (Laughing) SNAP! Moving right along…on average, how many orders a day do you guys receive? What are some of the all time best selling albums (either Projekt or Darkwave releases)?
Sam: We're doing about 450 orders a month through the website, which is up about 60% from this time last year.... Best selling albums are the first two from Love Spirals Downwards, Black tape's "Remnants of a deeper purity" and "this lush garden within." I gotta say, though, that "the scavenger bride" has had the most pre-orders through the Projekt site of any album I've released.... so that's promising.
Starvox: With all due respect to each and every band signed to Projekt’s roster, which band is your absolute personal favourite and what about their music excites you so much?
Sam: Well, this one is gonna get people angry with me.... I really love listening to Steve Roach's albums. They are very good music to "get away" from Projekt.... I also absolutely love Audra's two albums. I think they really capture a great rock side of things.... ok, now everyone else can tell me I suck!
Starvox: What are some of the other current bands that have excited you as of late and why?
Sam: I don't even listen to bands that I *do* like.... so I certainly don't have any thoughts on bands that I don't....
Starvox: What are your opinions on the decreasing emphasis on atmosphere in popular Gothic and Darkwave music? Do you think that Goth music is veering off into an unfavourable direction? What is your opinion of the whole Electro and EBM craze at the moment? Do you feel that these kinds of bands overshadow or maybe even threaten Projekt?
Sam: EBM has been around for almost a decade.... I don't think it has had any effect on Projekt. Nothing threatens Projekt, because we live in a big ole world, and we can all get along, to conclude Rodney King's dream...
Starvox: I am not sure how aware of this you may be, but Black Tape and a lot of the leading Projekt bands have had a very positive influence on Dark Metal music. I know that Peter Steele of Type O Negative and Nick Orlando of Evoken have expressed how much they love Projekt’s stuff. Have you had a chance to hear any of these bands? Did you ever think that your music would appeal to such a wide audience?
Sam: I have listened to Type O Negative, and like a good deal of what I have heard. I have not really listened to any other bands who have mentioned Projekt.... but here's an interesting aside. I heard from David Lynch, recently. Yes, the director! And he told me he's a fan of black tape for a blue girl. Now *that* is incredibly cool, because I love his movies.... as far as Projekt having such a wide appeal. I know a lot about our mainstream appeal, since we sell a lot of our records at Borders.. We sell to everyone, honestly.
Starvox: What is your personal favourite Black Tape album (or song) and what about that particular work do you feel is so strong and definitive of your ideal vision of the band?
Sam: Of course I must say the newest album. Not just because it's fresh in my mind, but also because I think "the scavenger bride" really achieved what it was intending to do. I think it's very complete and whole, conceptually and musically.
Starvox: After the final recordings of a song, how close does your music usually come to what you had initially imagined or envisioned? How do you know when a song is not going to make the cut?
Sam: I know a song needs to be scrapped when it bores me.... I record a lot of songs that never get out of the "electronics" phase. Which is to say that I have put together the chords and basic melodies, but they just aren't going anywhere for me.... so they get thrown back into the sea, and I try again. The reason there aren't any black tape outtakes is because I don't record anything extra. I don't have the rest of the band come in and record on a song that I don't think is gonna make it onto the album.... because that'd be wasting their time. "floats in the updrafts" and "a livery of bachelors" were two songs that were giving me a lot of grief on this album. At times, I was pretty sure they were gonna be scrapped. I told myself to stick with them, and let the rest of the band do their parts.... and then I would decide. I'm glad, because "livery" is a favorite. I like the way it ended up. I have to be honest and say I don't "envision" songs before I start. I work on my collage, and at some point I see where it's going and *then* I envision the rest of it.
Starvox: You are very fond of cats, I have gathered. Tell us about your favourite pet and why they were/are so special to you?
Sam: Well, I have only had two kitties. Vidna, who sadly died of Feline Leukemia in '97, and Harley who is our cat today. Here's a funny aside. Harley used to love to lay on top of my monitor, because it's warm up there. I just got the new Imac, with the flat screen.... it took Harley a while to realize that when you jump onto the flat screen, there's nowhere to land, and you crash over the top into the basketball like base of the computer on the other side. Meoooow-crash! We say that Harley is a cartoon cat, because whenever she jumps, she makes a meow when she lands. Real cats don't do that. It's something that a cat in a cartoon would do....
Starvox: (laughing) That is hysterical – cats are always so entertaining. So, I usually find the ways in which specific individuals discover dark alternative music to be interesting. How did you start getting into this kind of stuff and what band (if any) inspired you to say: “Hey, I want to write music too.”
Sam: Well. I was really into Alice Cooper and Jethro Tull in my pre-high school days (1976-1980). Cooper was definitely dark, and Tull was definitely diverse.... that led to Eno, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk in high school, in the beginning of the 80s.... it was around that time (1982) that I started making my own music, as well as getting into synth pop like Depeche Mode (the first two albums, man!), Gary Numan (a redneck friend played me the "Cars" single), Ultravox and John Foxx (get his "Catherdral Oceans" album from 1996!)...
Starvox: I know you have mentioned in the past that you are not too familiar with Classical music. I think that would surprise many fans, considering how well orchestrated your music is. How do you manage to compose such densely structured music with no formal education or general reference points?
Sam: Don't really know, honestly.... I just put together the notes and chords that sound good to me... and this is what happens. It's all intuitive.... Over the next week, I have to figure out what I'm gonna play off "the scavenger bride" at the Projektfest. If I was a talented classical musician, it would be easy to pick out the notes.... but I’m gonna have a painful time figuring out the parts I played.... oh well, right?
Starvox: I probably should have mentioned this a lot earlier in the interview, but Projektfest is coming up VERY soon and there is quite an impressive line-up. What determined which bands were to be chosen? Wasn't there a vote via the Projekt mailing list or am I mistaken?
Sam: We *did* ask on the Projekt list, but it kind of told me what I already knew. That people really wanted to see black tape for a blue girl and lovespirals. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate that people wanna see us.... and I think it makes for a fantastic line-upto have all the big bands (Black tape, Lovespirals, Voltaire, Mira, Steve Roach) there for the fans. It's going to be really great. And you are right.... it's coming up really soon!
Starvox: Memorial Day Weekend. I know I am excited, especially for Unto Ashes and Mors Syphilitica. With you guys playing, it’s almost like an added bonus! How far back into the Black Tape archives will you be going for the show?
Sam: We have a couple of songs off "Ashes in the brittle air" and one off "A chaos of desire." We'll also be doing five songs off "the scavenger bride," because it's our new album, right? ;)
Starvox: Sounds great. However, I was a bit confused about something: Originally, I thought I saw that Human Drama was performing - now it just states Johnny Indovina. Will this just be an acoustic performance or will he have a live band with him?
Sam: It's Johnny Indovina *of* Human Drama. He'll be singing and playing guitar, accompanied by Mark on keyboard. I hear that Lisa might be playing flute on a few songs. She's done more shows with Human Drama in the last two years then she's done with black tape!
Starvox: Well, sounds fantastic. Glad to hear about such a great line up. Thanks for answering all of this review. How many years older are we now? Any last words of wisdom for our readers?
Sam: Don't listen to what people tell you is the way thing are "suppose to be." Many of those preconceptions are based on capitalists trying to empty out your bank account. Do what's right for you.
Tape For A Blue Girl: