Ah, this brings back memories. Walking in to the Borderline’s faux Tex-Mex decor - all fake adobe and corrugated iron - is a surreal experience given that we’re in a little basement in London WC2. But at one time, I used to be down here quite regularly. Back when I was in The Showbiz, I used to promote gigs at this venue. In fact, I like to think that some of the best-ever Nemesis shows took place in this odd little cellar beneath a Mexican restaurant in Soho. The only reason I gave up on the Borderline was because a new manager took over, with a brief to make the place pay its way or else. Apparently, the venue had been losing money and was being heavily subsidised by the Mexican restaurant upstairs. The manager’s remedy was brutal. Overnight, the rental fee increased to £800. Add VAT to that, and independent promoters suddenly found themselves expected to fork out the best part of a thousand pounds just to get inside the doors of the club. This, for a 275 capacity basement which doesn’t even have a dressing room! Well, suffice to say that with such a massive up-front cost weighing the gig budget down, there was only one solution. Nemesis gigs abruptly ceased at the Borderline at the end of 1998, along with many other shows which used to be organised at the venue by independent promoters. We’d all been priced out.
I suspect that the Borderline management’s policy of charging like a rhino for the use of their venue backfired somewhat, because these days the place does not rent itself out to independent promoters at all. All gigs are now arranged in-house. This effectively means that ‘specialist’ areas of music such as goth, which tend to be well-nigh incomprehensible to anyone who only knows about mainstream stuff, don’t get a look-in. Fortunately, this is not a problem for All About Eve. The band’s history of chart hits and mainstream media coverage, and their general above-the-parapet profile, means that they can get a gig at the Borderline more or less any time they want, while bands which only enjoy goth-scene status would get knocked back. I’m sure that if Faith And The Muse - a band who could effortlessly fill the Borderline any night of the week - were to approach the venue’s management for a gig, they’d be turned away with a polite but firm ‘Sorry, guys, never heard of you!’ All of which, if you ask me, just goes to prove that independent promoters with specialist ‘scene-knowledge’ are necessary. Mind you, the way things are going these days, a substantial private income would also seem to be necessary. But I digress.
Mike from Manuskript is wandering around the venue, trying to find members of his band. It’s almost showtime; time to get on that stage. ‘The last time we were here,’ he remarks to me, ‘it was *your* fault!’ True - Manuskript last played the Borderline in 1997, at a Nemesis gig. Tonight, the band’s presence is All About Eve’s fault. The two bands struck up a rapport when they both played the Whitby Gothic Weekend in November 2003, and the Eves invited the ‘Skript to join them at the Borderline. This isn’t a particularly easy gig for Manuskript: they’ve got to win over a venue full of All About Eve fans, many of whom, I suspect, have never heard of Manuskript - or, indeed, any bands at all from around 1989 onwards. It has to be said that the age profile of this gig is biased somewhat towards the grizzled old codger end of the spectrum. But Manuskript bounce into action regardless, and wallop out a set of their spiky pop tunes with as much verve and enthusiasm as they can squeeze onto the small stage. Mike, the consummate frontman, fixes the crowd with a knowing, raised-eyebrow glance, and they’re away. Interestingly enough, the band have taken to throwing in their traditional cheesy pop cover - currently ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ - right at the start of the set these days, which is a brave move. It would be so easy to keep the cover for the grand finale, and go out on a guaranteed big cheer. But then, Manuskript don’t need to rely on vamped-up chart hits of yesteryear to boost their audience reaction - not when they’ve got killer tunes of their own, like ‘Crash Site Compassion’ and ‘Semaphore In Thunderstorms’, which hit the spot with unerring accuracy every time. The band do seem to be working hard tonight, giving it all they’ve got to provoke an unconvinced audience into some sort of reaction - and their efforts pay off, because by the end of the set the audience is clapping and cheering like they’ve just seen the headliners, rather than a mere support band. A result.
There’s a short break, during which anonymous stoner rock drizzles out of the PA. We’re entertained by the appearance of All About Eve’s set-list roadie, who fusses around, sticking umpteen set lists to every available surface on stage. I feel like calling out, ‘All About Eve are only a *four* piece band, y’know!’ He even consults with the guitar roadie about the precise angle at which he should position Julianne’s set list, near the vocal mic - a bit this way, or a bit that way? Ah, that’s about right. I can’t help laughing at his antics. I’ve never seen anyone pad out a simple little job with such furrowed-brow obsession. But hey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - you know you’ve made it in the world of rock ‘n’ roll when you have a special roadie for the set lists!
All About Eve arrive on stage to the traditional rousing reception. They’re playing to an almost totally partisan crowd; virtually everyone here tonight is a fan of the band from way back. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good in that the band can be sure of an upbeat, successful gig. But it’s bad in that if the band genuinely intend to have an ongoing career in the twenty-first century, they’re going to have to pull in some new fans. The thirty-and-forty-something fanbase will doubtless continue to show up to the gigs, aware that they’ll be in for a nice nostalgic night out. But you can’t build a contemporary career on the back of middle-aged nostagia-seekers. Somehow, All About Eve are going to have to wrench their fan-demographic in the direction of The Kids. I’m sure All About Eve themselves are aware of this, because it’s clear that the band on stage before us is a leaner and meaner beast than the old-skoolers might expect. The fans might want nostalgia, but it’s obvious that the band intend to cut the crap and make a ram-raid on the future.
Gone are the hippy-folkie trappings which, at one time, threatened to drag All About Eve into easy-listening coffee-table hell. No more long flappy skirts, no more sit-down ballads, and most of all - no more Martha’s Harbour! All About Eve, twenty-first century style, are a zestful new-waveish rock band, all crunchy guitar and pell-mell rhythms, with Julianne Regan herself, dressed in fetching post-punkette attire, letting rip in a full-on style which reminds me that she posesses one of the great rock voices - when she allows herself to rock. Fortunately, tonight, rocking is definitely allowed. The set contains old songs (‘We were doing our O-levels when we wrote this,’ remarks bassist Andy Cousin, as the band dig ‘Suppertime’ out of the back catalogue) and new songs. In particular, I’m arrested by ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, a sharp, pithy slice of contemporary rock with one of those classic kick-down-and-accelerate moments as it revs up into the chorus. It’s exactly the kind of song that could - and should - be heard on a regular basis, bursting out of the playlists on radio stations such as XFM. So far the song is unreleased, but when it eventually does appear on CD I certainly hope All About Eve have someone on their side with enough promo-clout to make it happen, because this would make an ideal calling-card for the new, improved Eves.
A large part of the credit for All About Eve’s new, no-shit sound must go to their guitarist Toni, a glam-rocker from Finland who whacks out the chords like he’s channelling Hanoi Rocks. It’s unfortunate that, try as I might, I can’t get a decent photo of him. He’s over on the cloakroom side of the stage, frustratingly out of range of the Borderline’s fancy new computer-controlled lighting rig, which seems to be set up with dance-floor effects in mind, rather than stage lighting. As a result, certain areas of the stage remain in semi-darkness throughout the show. Back in *my* day, when the venue simply had an array of good old fashioned par cans around the stage, this would not have been a problem! The audience don’t seem to mind - they greet all the songs, old and new, with enthusiastic cheers, and laugh delightedly at the on-stage banter, as the various members of the band try to catch each other out with quips and one-liners. It’s good to see four musicians so obviously at ease with each other, and at ease with their music.
I’m slightly astonished to admit this, but I think I’m turning into an All About Eve fan - and I speak as one who’s diligently endeavoured to avoid the band for the best part of two decades. Thanks to the efforts of friends who’ve been diehard Eves fans for years, I’ve always been able to keep up with the band’s output - one of my ex-girlfriends is even in the video for ‘Wild Hearted Woman’, if you know where to look in the crowd scenes - but I’ve never been particularly grabbed by the music until now. But *this* incarnation of All About Eve really does seem to be cooking with gas. Yep, I’m impressed.
I suspect the band’s biggest problem, as they try to carve out a new career path in the months ahead, will simply be to convince the doubters that things have changed. The band’s reputation as winsome folkies is so firmly entrenched that it will not be easy to shift. The Borderline’s own flyer describes the band as ‘Gothic folk rockers’ - as a catch-all description, that’s not as bad as it might be, but it really doesn’t do All About Eve justice. Re-invented and revitalized, they’re like a new band again. If they can capture a new audience to supplement the long-term faithful, their best times may yet be still to come.
see all the photos from this show here
The official All About Eve site (also contains info on Julianne Regan’s various other musical excursions): http://www.julianneregan.net
The ludicrously minimalist Manuskript site: http://www.manuskript.co.uk
The Borderline: http://www.borderline.co.uk
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
(MIKAELA PEARSON, JIM LAMPOS, THOMAS LAIL, HAJJI MAJER AND BOB LUKOMSKY)
Lucky Cat Cafe
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
January 31, 2004
~review and photos by Kevin Filan
According to Conventional Wisdom, avant-garde and experimental music is an arid intellectual exercise. You may find it “edifying” or “interesting,” but never “entertaining” or “fun.” Angelique Turner (Princess Coldheart), the promotional mastermind behind tonight’s event, must have been absent the day they dispensed this truism. Dogs Blood Rising is both avant-garde and accessible, experimental and enjoyable.
This is due in no small part to their venue. Too many experimental events take place in sterile, uncomfortable spaces that look like the bastard child of an art gallery and a Stockholm public toilet, with staff whose moods run the gamut from indifferent to surly. The Lucky Cat is warm and welcoming, with comfortable couches, smiling bartenders, and a “coffeehouse” vibe. This helps put patrons in a relaxed mood, the better to appreciate more challenging music and multimedia performances.
Tonight’s events begin with a solo performance by Mikaela Pearson, lead singer for Curse. Accompanying herself on an autoharp, Mikaela treats us to her arrangements of Papago Indian chants and the Orphic Hymn to Night, as well as poems from lesser-known but greatly talented women. Anne Kiligrew’s “Farewell to Unsubstantial Joyes” (written not long before she died of smallpox) may well be the most Gothic poem written in the 17th century. These poem/songs are accompanied by projections from computer/multimedia artist Adam Kendall of Hellbender Film Project for a blending of ancient and modern that ultimately becomes timeless.
At first glance, Jim Lampos would appear to be a strange choice for an evening like this. He’s a classic “roots-rock” musician, doing an acoustic set which owes more to *Nashville Skyline* era Bob Dylan than to David Tibet. All doubts fade once Jim strums the eerie opening chords to “Franklin’s Milestone.” This is American folk—a combination of Elizabethan-era popular song with African-American blues. It’s plain-spoken and unaffected and haunting as cold breezes whistling through tarpaper shacks. Lampos follows up with a Blind Willie McTell blues tune, then “Ithaca,” a soft ballad that crackles with unspoken tension. In some ways, this is the most “experimental” set of the evening... and the most successful. It’s the last thing you’d expect to hear at an avant-garde event... which, of course, is quite in keeping with the spirit of the avant-garde.
Thomas Lail, Hajji Majer and Bob Lukomsky are more in the “classical avant-garde” vein. Hajji and Thom play guitars while Bob provides accompaniment on keyboard, iBook and various other toys. Their music owes a great eal to free jazz and improv; cut loose from the restrictions of chord progression and tonality, the performers are left to create a structure on their own. The first installment of their piece seems to be a voyage of discovery. They meander about, never really finding the Perfect Groove. Things pick up during the second half, a piece which has the grandeur of classic Godspeed You Black Emperor! with a harder, more metallic edge. It’s an interesting chance to watch the creative process in action; their set succeeds as a whole, despite (or because of) the moments where the musicians don’t entirely gel.
Dogs Blood Rising has been operating for over six months now ... an eternity in New York’s fiercely competitive club scene, particularly for a night where you’re more likely to hear Psychic TV and Current 93 than Covenant and Beborn Beton. It’s a courageous event which is succeeding in a city where many “safer” cookie-cutter-Goth-by-Numbers events have failed. Its continuing success is proof that you can both challenge and entertain an audience... a lesson which many other promoters here and elsewhere would do well to learn.
see all the photos from this concert here
Lucky Cat Cafe
Global Noise Attack
The Water Rats, London
Friday 23 January 2004
~review and photos by Uncle Nemesis
Here we are in 2004, and the London live music circuit seems to be in the throes of a much needed shake-up. Flag Promotions, who have been our principal providers of goth/industrial/whatever gigs over the last few years, appear to be pulling their horns in somewhat. Flag’s frequent shows at club venues such as the Underworld and the Garage, which have effectively been the mainstay of the London gig-calendar in recent years, are suddenly conspicuous by their absence - and a new bunch of promoters seem to be coming through, with new ideas, different venues, and a selection of bands which looks beyond Flag’s policy of rounding up the usual suspects for gig after gig.
One of the new breed is the London deathrock ‘n’ roll band Devilish Presley, who, in true ‘grab the controls’ fashion, have launched themselves on an unsuspecting scene as promoters under the name Pity For Monsters. This is one of their gigs, and tonight Devilish Presley have lined themselves up to play a set, rather incongruously surrounded by a selection of take-no-prisoners industrial-metal acts. Strange bedfellows, perhaps, but there’s a good atmosphere in the venue tonight which hints that the gig is going to work. I should also note in passing that the bar has Shepherd Neame Master Brew on hand pump - yep, this is definitely going to be a good one!
Global Noise Attack are tonight’s opening band, but they’re not exactly new. They’ve been around for a few years now. In fact, I once nearly promoted the band myself, back in 1999 - but the show never happened. I lost frightening sums of money on the infamous gig which Gitane Demone didn’t play, and was therefore forced to cancel many of my subsequent plans. Global Noise Attack were one of several bands who lost out because of that little episode. (As you might imagine, there’s a story behind all this. I’ll tell it, if you like, but be sure to buy me a beer first. I’ll need something to cry into.) Tonight, the band rampage and roar through a set of stripped-down industrio-rock - no fancy stuff, just a drum machine beat and some heavy-duty riffs - while the vocalist spends more time offstage than on. He careers around the crowd, looming over assorted audience members like a grizzly bear who’s just spotted lunch, climbing over the PA stacks, and up-ending himself so we can all admire his arse. Naturally, everyone in the audience stands calmly by, displaying traditional British stoicism, pretending that nothing unusual is going on. It’s a bravura performance in terms of sheer spectacle, but after the set it’s the larking about and the crazy off-stage antics that I remember, not the music. That might be something for Global Noise Attack to think about: they need to make the music as attention-grabbing as the singer’s showboating if they’re to move onwards and upwards.
Maxdmyz have also been knocking around the gig circuit for a few years. I remember seeing them a long time ago at the Underworld, where their schlock-metal show incorporated a scantily-clad girl on obviously mimed keyboards - clearly nothing more than an excuse to have a sexxy deth chyk on stage. That’s the essential point about Maxdmyz - they like to do that ol’ shock ‘n’ outrage thing, but what’s outrageous these days? Packing the stage with hawt rawk chyxxx who don’t have any real reason to be there is not, by itself, anything special. Fortunately, tonight, Maxdmyz come before us in revised form: no more gratuitous mime-artists. Their current line-up sees the addition of a female singer, who has great stage presence and all but eclipses the band’s male vocalist with her energetic hollering and stomping. She’s like Johnny Rotten’s crazed little sister as she flounces and rants her way around the band’s heavily rhythmic metal-riffing. Musically, Maxdmyz are as tight as a duck’s arse, and even though I’m not usually a fan of metal in any of its incarnations, there’s something exhilarating about the way the bassist, guitarist, and drummer hit every riff bang on the nose - they couldn’t lock together any tighter if they were conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. But it’s not all precision riffs and freaky vocals. The show incorporates some, er, ‘performance art’ interludes in which a fearsome cyber-skinhead has piercing needles inserted into his arm by a cheerful young lady who, on close inspection, turns out to be Interlock’s bassist. None the worse for his new perforations, the cyber-skinhead then comes out with an angle grinder and sends showers of sparks flying everywhere while the band rage and rumble around him. All this adds to the spectacle, although in truth none of it is particularly startling or original. Everyone from Leechwoman to the Chaos Engine are doing the angle-grinding thing these days, and Maxdmyz’s piercing routine only looks shocking if you haven’t seen the Genitorturers. In the end, we come back to my original point: you simply *can’t* be outrageous any more, because it’s all been done. Maxdmyz are recycling old ideas here, and it’s all starting to look rather lame. If they can’t come up with anything new (cut the drummer’s head off, maybe?) then I think they’d be better off ditching the wannabe-shock-horror performance routines altogether, and simply let the music do the talking.
Devilish Presley are the jokers in tonight’s pack, in that they’re not by any means a metal band. They do, however, rock most convincingly. That’s quite an achievement when you note that Devilish Presley are a duo: that rumbustious, tub-thumping drum sound which powers their music along is coming out of a small black box. Nevertheless, the band have a gritty, physical presence which grabs the attention of the crowd. Johnny Navarro is a manic, wired madman on the lead vocal mic, throwing shapes and wrenching tortured squeals out of his long-suffering guitar, while over on the stage-right mic Jacqui Vixen gives her bass a good walloping and belts out the backing vocals as if she’s auditioning for the devil himself. This is the factor which makes it all work: the two members of the band hurl themselves into their music without the slightest restraint. It’s a full-on blast from the start of the set to the end, and you just can’t help being swept along by the sheer gung-ho spirit of the performance. The songs are bare-bones rockers, delivered with suitably high levels of bile and wormwood: in short, it all just *works*. Now, I’m not going to give any hostages to fortune here, and predict that Devilish Presley will become the next big thing, but the fact remains that their brand of no-frills, mad-bastard rock ‘n’ roll is a very welcome new development in a scene which, in recent times, has seemed in danger of disappearing up its own arse. If you’re bored with straightforward Gothic Rock outfits who can’t see further than that hackneyed Sisters/Mission/Nephilim thing, if you’re frustrated by bland EBM merchants endlessly recycling a watered down VNV/Covenant/Apop sound - here’s something which, in this context, counts as new and cool. Paradoxically, given that Devilish Presley’s influences are drawn from rock’s classic past, their presence here might just help to push things in a new, and definitely more rockin’, direction.
And finally, here come Interlock, with their own peculiar brand of left-field metal in full effect. Interlock make a heavy, but always controlled, noise, which borrows a few essential moves from mainstream metal, but then puts them all through the patent Interlock blender along with a bewildering array of other influences. The visual side of things is carried by the band’s two vocalists - one male, one female. That’s a fairly standard line-up for metal bands these days, of course - but if you’re under the impression that Interlock do some sort of Lacuna Coil/Evanescence thing, where a sternly dominant male voice alternates with a sweet little choirgirl, allow me to knock that notion aside right away. Hal Sinden and Emmeline May square up to each other like prize fighters, and fire lines of vocal at each other as if they’re fighting a duel. It’s almost worrying to watch them go at each other hammer and tongs: I catch myself wondering if it’s all just part of the show, or if they’re going to carry on like this in the dressing room afterwards. Meanwhile, the rest of the band stand aside from the melee (the bassist, in particular, maintains an air of zen-like calm throughout) and churn out a rhythmic bump ‘n’ grind which manages to be oddly danceable while remaining firmly in the rock zone. It’s not that Interlock are any kind of crossover band: it’s more like they just don’t recognise any musical boundaries. Why, if they feel like doing a cover of Bjork’s ‘Army Of Me’, then, dammit, they’ll do just that. A good old fashioned mosh breaks out among the fans at the front, and the set roars and shudders to a close.
By now the bar has run out of Shepherd Neame Master Brew, which I take as my cue to depart. It’s been a good gig, and all the better for being something different, something away from the usual run of London goth-stuff. If tonight hints at what is to come, 2004 should be an interesting year.
see all the photos from this concert here
Devilish Presley: http://www.devilishpresley.com
Global Noise Attack: http://www.g-n-a.co.uk
The Pity For Monsters gig page within the Devilish Presley site. A slightly confusing display of gig-info (the gigs are not necessarily listed in date order, and full info about bands etc does not necessarily appear alongside every entry), but it’s all here if you work at it: http://www.devilishpresley.freeserve.co.uk/Html/pity.htm
for beer monsters:
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
with Andy Deane, Gopal Metro, Tony Lechmanski and Micah Consylman of Bella
~by Gina Caminiti with introduction by Gina Caminiti and James Bourdette
(photos by Blu)
Among the revival of the underground scene, Bella Morte from Charlottesville, Virginia is one band who has captured my attention at full force. The band formed in 1996, and has three full length albums and an EP behind them. Presently in 2003, they have been hard at work with new material slated for a forthcoming release. When I was approached to do the interview I was more than happy to oblige, as their live performance is definitely not to be missed. After having had the opportunity to get to know a little bit about these four down-to-earth individuals after only a couple of shows, it was quite evident that they are hard working, tour loving and fan appreciating guys, minus the rock star ego's.
GC: Where does the name of your band Bella Morte come from? Who came up with such a perfect name for your style of music?
Andy: Gopal came up with the name, being the clever one of us. I think that we've stayed true to the atmosphere the name alludes to. Kind of an emotional horror film if you ask me…
Gopal: True 'nuff, you know what I'm saying. Word.
GC: I understand your working on new material, will it be an ep or a full length album? When should we expect to hear the new material? Title?
Andy: The new material should hit shelves this coming spring, though we haven't yet finished label negotiations. We haven't titled the new disc yet, but the name "Distance" has been thrown around a bit. Time will tell! Oh, and it's a full-length.
Gopal: We've also started writing new material for the next DREP. Tony's been coming up with some really good material. Yup. It's true.
GC: Does your new material differ from the last? If so, how?
Andy: Well, for one thing, we're using the very best equipment money can buy on this one and we're in a state of the art studio. It's amazing just how much the tools you use can shape your finished work! It will still be a mixed bag of sounds, but I expect the guitars to be more dominant on this one, mostly because Tony wants to be a rock star and none of us have the power to stop his mighty force. (laughs)
Tony: And don't you forget it!!!
Gopal: Every time you write a song there is new influence. This record has quite a heavy dose of war. We've never really touched on that before, so that's new. And we have definitely experimented with both sound productions quite a bit. It has been a lot of fun, and a huge growth -period for the band. I don't quite know where the final product will stand, but we sure as hell enjoyed creating it.
GC: Will this new work be out on Metropolis Records?
Andy: Ummmm, we think so. We'd love to talk to major labels as well, but we are definitely interested in another Metropolis release as well.
GC: How's it going being on Metropolis ?
Andy: It's been very good thus far. It's a little lonely being one of very few bands not doing EBM on the label, but I think it's cool that they support the diversity of our sound.
Gopal: All the folks at Metropolis rock
Tony: And the other Metropolis bands that we have been played with have been very cool to us.
Gopal: So it has definitely been a good time with them so far.
GC: How far would you like to see Bella Morte go?
Andy: As far as we can! I'd love to turn on the radio and hear our stuff, and I really think it will happen for us if things keep growing the way they have been. The key for us is to stay true to our sound and things will fall into place as they always have.
Tony: I think we will do well, besides, don't forget the mighty force. I'll turn some wheels if I have to! (laughs)
Gopal: Being on the radio or MTV would be pretty cool, as long as we don't have to deal with all the crap that goes with it. I don't think either Andy or Tony would last five minutes on a "Real World" set, but I would love to see it happen. *grins evilly*
Micah: I really think that the only thing that holds a lot of really great underground bands from hitting it big is the production of the album and the right marketing, and I can really say that we will have any good marketing, but the new album has great production so hopefully that will carry us some where.
GC: Does the diversity of each song depend on the members outlooks or the time and period of each album or both?
Andy: I'd say both, definitely. Plus, I'd blame some of it on our attention span, which tends to linger somewhere around that of a three year old. Why do the same style over and over when we have so many influences to choose from?!
Tony: I don't think that we could do just one style of music because we come from such different musical backgrounds. If we tried to do just one thing we would all end up unhappy and there would be no point.
Gopal: I'm trying to convince the guys to do another reggae influenced song. And we have this sort of twenties influenced flapper song coming. And I STILL want to do that Polka number, hehehe.
Micah: I would agree, we are all into such a variety of music that it is next to impossible to keep doing solely one thing.
GC: I've seen Bella Morte perform at least a half dozen times or more, always an unforgettable experience for me. With your incredible stage presence and performance. Andy you went from latex to fake blood, what will you do next?
Andy: Who knows, we always seem to come up with something. Though I must say, that fake blood at the last NYC show wasn't our idea! A fan threw that on me… I jumped out into the crowd and when I came back onto the stage I was covered in blood! The guys in the band (and half the audience) thought I had hurt myself.
Gopal: I keep trying to convince him to wear a Wendy's uniform. He's a talented server of fries. On second thought, we ALL are talented servers of fries. Maybe Wendy's uniforms are going to be the new band thing? Hmm...
GC: I know you are trying to get a drummer for your live shows, how's that coming along?
Andy: Great! We picked up a fellow named Jordan and we've been practicing long hours! We hope to start showing him off by the first of the year. Jordan's a good guy, and once he described something as "weird like Mars".
Gopal: Jordan rules, he's picking the stuff up, even the stuff we didn't expect him to get, like it was nothing. And his writing style and personality mesh really well in the group. I'm pretty psyched about his being here.
GC: Will you ever go into the direction of having a full time drummer instead of a drum machine?
Andy: Definitely, though we'll always use some electronic sounds and backing tracks. Some of our drum lines require more than two arms and legs, and Jordan doesn't have any extras… yet!
Micah: That is true, that is why we were thinking of selling our old drum machine to buy some new arms and legs on the black market and finding a doctor in Tijuana to sew them on for us.
Gopal: mmm hmm hmm hmmm, I've been working... yes... working in the lab...AAAHH hahahahaha... and I've come up with a plan.... SPIDERS, JORDAN MUST EAT SPIDERS. AHHHH HAH HA HA! The drum spider will live in his head, yess... yessss.... yesssssss.....
GC: Ever think of doing a documentary project with you guys playing live, video's, interviews and interacting with fans? Nothing to fancy, more like a D.I.Y. video project. Something creative and imaginative with some zombies and other creatures thrown in there.
Gopal: That whole MTV/radio/main stream marketing thing, we're working that tip too. "Road Rules: Bella Morte", aww yeah, 2004 baby. WOOO HOOO DAYTONA RULES! Seriously though, we just shot a video for Living Dead with a Mr. Shawn Decker of Synthetic Division fame (I just finished tracking his latest EP, so keep posted folks). Chock full o' cheesy zombies, wonderful cooking recipes and a gruesome death by refrigerator door, yessum it's the greatest. And we're in the works with him for something quite like you described already. If we manage to keep our asses in gear you may actually get to see it some day.
Andy: We've been discussing that for a while now! I think it would be great! Ummm, I'll get on that now. Really.
GC: What's your favorite thing to do when you're not working on new material or touring?
Andy: Watching horror films or writing songs.
Gopal: I am sadly way too attached to my computers. I spend like 10 hours a day sitting in front of the damn things. I learn a lot, and the internet is a wonderful world of goodness, but I can feel my muscles decaying *grins*. I'm also about half way through welding a lovely bedroom set for my girl and I. I've finished a canopy bed, and am halfway through a lamp, with a dresser and a vanity to come. Awww yeah.
Tony: Music. I really don't do much besides playing guitar. I like to watch movies too, but I guess that's about it.
Micah: Writing new songs just for fun, art, boxing, and eating.
GC: What are your likes and dislikes?
Andy: Likes - ghosts, zombies, football, Iron Maiden, Michael Myers. Dislikes - Bitching, squash, TV commercials
Gopal: Likes - Warhammer 40K (yes, I know... ya bastards.). Engineering pretty much anything, with an affinity for audio. Sitting in the dark and listening to the wind (and no matter what Andy, Tony or Micah might say, they like it too). http://www.heavengallery.com/fenslerfilms/index.html (hell yeah).
Dislikes - Getting fucking stuck. Spam. New school Gothic (these kids need more balls!) And the Death Rockers need to quit whining. And Punk needs to go back to it's roots. And Synth Pop needs to go back to Europe. And Country needs to get rid of the "New". And Reggae needs to get rid of the "Rap". And Rap needs to get back into rhythm. And Noise needs less rhythm. And where the hell is Rock and Roll? The Forty Boys, that's where. Damn straight.
Tony: Likes - Iron Maiden was a good one. Guitars, listening to music, going to shows. Dislikes - Andy, Gopal, Micah
Micah: Likes- horror, CNN, Johnny Cash, activity. Dislikes- The Golden Girls, Hank Williams Jr., The Disney Channel
GC: What's your best dream and your worst nightmare?
Andy: Best Dream - Existing with a few friends in a world dominated by zombies. Shooting 'em and stuff. Worst Dream - A six hour N'Sync concert.
Gopal: Best Dream - "Tales from the Flat Earth" or "Book of the New Sun". I'd fucking love to live in either place. And yes, I'm a dork... Screw you. *grins*. Worst - um... watching my friends and family die slow and painful deaths, then having to brush all their teeth, one at a time, with a little Big Bird shaped tooth brush? Sure, why not?
Tony: Best dream - I kind of live it right now. Worst- Do you know who Kathy Griffen is? I suppose conversation with her would suck because she gets on my last damn nerve.
Best- A Zombie Dream I had two nights ago that Bella Morte was a zombie
movie and that we were all undead and rocking out in a house on a cliff,
that a whole car full of "Know What You Did Last Summer" kids came
in, and we ate them.
Worst- Last week I dreamed that I could never crap again...It really scared me...seriously
GC: What's your favorite scent?
Andy: woman-scent (laughs)
Gopal: Well, woman-scent's pretty nice, as long as it's Beth's. I'm not too fond of fried chicken though. I am a fan of Frankincense, old churches rule (that's the building, not the chicken), and roses. Yup, I'm the only one in the band that still calls myself Gothic.
Tony: fried chicken
Micah: Not Andy's ass.
GC: Favorite past time?
Andy: Watching horror films, reading Rue Morgue magazine, hangin' with the cats
Gopal: reading sci-fi or fantasy. Playing video games. And I'm getting pretty heavily back into the Yoga Sutras. I had a damn fine youth.
Tony: As I said, I love films and going to shows, and in fact I'm going to see Billy Idol tonight!
Micah: music, art, being active, eating, crapping.
GC: What do you like best about touring?
Andy: All of the great people we run into along the way. We have friends all over the country which makes things so much more fun!
Gopal: I think we're all in pretty much the same state of mind there. Tour rules, it's nice to keep moving as long as you really take the time to enjoy it.
Tony: I will have to agree with Andy, we meet so many cool people and get to see a lot of great places.
Micah: getting to see the country. And sleeping in a van.
GC: Roses and Wine or Pretzels and Beer?
Andy: Ummm… I don't think I qualify for this event.
Gopal: Roses and Beer, definitely Roses and Beer.
Tony: If I had to pick one I would say pretzels and beer. Roses and wine are too nice and classy and I don't know much about that. I'm not all that nice and I definitely have no class.
Micah: Twister and cheerwine
GC: What is your best childhood memory?
Andy: Just hanging out with my dad. Great guy that dad of mine.
Gopal: I have a lot of pretty kick ass childhood memories. I was raised in a fairly secluded environment, and it bred good things (at least not counting me). I love the hell out of my family and have a ton of good memories with them. Christmas was always cool.
Micah: discovering that you can get scrambled porn on hotel cable.
GC: Most memorable musical event you have been to?
Andy: Iron Maiden concert this year! That, or my first GWAR show when I was 15 or 16. Or maybe the first punk show I ever saw which featured a great local act called Hedonistic Cravings (RIP).
Gopal: I dug the hell out of Neubauten, and Eek-A-Mouse puts on a hell of show. Most memorable though? I don't know, I don't go out enough. C8 was pretty damn rad. For a good show though, check out the Cruxshadows or The Last Dance. Both can be quite a good time!
Tony: Iron Maiden and Poison… That's right, POISON!
Micah: Probably the first time I saw Morbid Angel.
GC: Favorite quote?
Andy: "When hell is full, the dead will walk the earth." -Dawn of the Dead
Gopal: "Philosophy will not satisfy us. We can not reach the goal by mere words alone. Without action, nothing can be achieved." - Swami Satchidananda
Tony: " I don't give a fuck, I'm the hucklebuck" -Hucklebuck
Micah: " There is a Chorus in hell...and that is the sound of razors slashing flesh" -Hellraiser
Special thanks to Mike V. of Hidden Sanctuary http://www.hiddensanctuary.com
with Elend: Part 2
~by Matthew Heilman
We just can’t get enough of Elend. Having missed the opportunity to participate in Joel’s initial round of questions to the band, I took the liberty of contacting Renaud with the hope of expounding further upon the band’s music, lyrics, and philosophies. He humbly obliged, and building on many of Joel’s discerning queries, even more fascinating insight into the minds of these ‘tragic’ maestros has been provided. For a project that has been making waves in the underground for years, we are proud to have been one of the first zines to give them a chance to more thoroughly illustrate many of the concepts behind their multi-faceted and intricate music.
Matthew: You mentioned other 'related common projects.' What other musicalstudies are you involved in and what are these other music projects like incomparison to Elend?
Renaud: These projects have not yet been released; there are two collaborations of both Elend composers which have crystallized during the last years and which will maybe be issued in the near future: we have been writing experimental “avant-garde” orchestral music that goes beyond what we initiated on The Umbersun: Ensemble Orphique. This was to be our common project subsequent to the completion of the Officium Tenebrarum. In contrast to Elend this music involves a more ambitious kind of writing music. It means a lot of work and really should be seen against the background of contemporary “serious” music or sound research. We have also been working on Statues, very violent dark industrial, which allows us to deal with musical violence per se. Apart from that, we also work independently from each other, in various styles. Iskandar Hasnawi has got a trip-hop project (A Poison Tree), which I find quite original. And I am involved in various other musical activities ranging from jazz to metal.
Matthew: Your use of synthetic instruments is and always has been extremely commendable. Especially on "Weeping Nights" and "The Umbersun" -- I have yet to hear a music project that can recreate such gigantic orchestral sounds with such authenticity. What kind of synthesizers did you guys use? (Unless that is your big secret!)
Renaud: We started with rather basic machines, synths by Korg, Roland, E-mu, Kurzweil. Our first samplers were an Akai Sampler and the E4XT by E-mu. The Kurzweil K2000 we had bought long ago can also work as a sampler. We still use all of them, but only parsimoniously. Musical equipment has evolved incredibly during the last decade, and still has many surprises in store. We mainly work with PCs and integrated sampler instruments now; we have quite a library of sampled instrumental sounds which mainly consists of CD-ROMs available on the market, but also of recordings done on our own, such as the totality of the industrial noises you can hear on Winds Devouring Men. What I am always wondering about is the fact that with the possibilities one has nowadays, everybody should potentially be able to produce quality music on his own. And more and more people are making music at home; but apparently this hasn’t changed much in the quality of the output. The problem with this democratisation of music production (which is principally a good thing, I want to emphasize that) is that everybody thinks he can become a star overnight with self-made demos. And this is obviously not enough.
Matthew: In regard to the Officium Tenebrarum cycle: Why "Paradise Lost?" Can you explain why John Milton had such a profound affect upon you and Iskandar? Your presentation of Lucifer corresponds with the way that 19th Century Romantics sympathized with his character, and the way in which they viewed him as the hero of "Paradise Lost." I had always figured that you were just taking the Romantic motifs and providing a musical interpretation of them, but a lot of folks might have misunderstood Elend and assumed you were Satanists.
Renaud: Stylistically, Milton has never appealed to me. Ezra Pound qualified Milton’s verse as rhetoric, and he is absolutely right: it is one of the best examples I know for what one would call “verbosity”. Unlike Shakespeare, Milton attempted to reproduce epic Latin verses in English; some might argue that he has achieved something unique, but I don’t find this a very interesting issue. Now, as far as Paradise Lost is concerned, Iskandar Hasnawi merely chose it as one of the starting points for our cycle, as a sort of exposition. It would be wrong to see our treatment of the figure of the rebellious angel as being in accordance with 19th century Romanticism. Milton’s Satan, “majestic though in ruin”, counts among the first depictions of this originally evil figure as the heroic rebel impersonating decadent beauty; the forerunner of the ideal Romantic artist. Elend never followed this path: you will note that everything in Elend’s Officium Tenebrarum evolves around the hopelessness of rebellion and the inescapability of death. There is no Romantic glorification, neither of the fall, nor of the rebel per se. If there is any kind of fascination in Elend, then it happens on a much more abstract level, which is mainly connected to musical matters. The Miltonian position inevitably leads to Satanism, which mainly inverts the roles but achieves exactly the same results: a Manichean view of the world, with the worshipping of one single patriarchal figure. In our earliest interviews back in 1994 we emphasised that we were not concerned at all with what happens to this figure after the fall – the lyrics of the first album, which are still set in a Miltonian context, close with the building of Pandemonium, the point where the rebel is about to turn into God’s counterpart, and therefore loses all his relevance for our concept. You will notice that although we started from Paradise Lost we never once used the name “Satan”: we deliberately turned to the term “Lucifer”, the “bearer of light”. Originally, this term was applied to the planet Venus, the “Morning Star”, because it appears shortly before sunrise. In this sense Christ is described as the light-bearer of the Apocalypse (Rev: 22,16). But since the same star also appears with the setting sun this led to the following remark in Isaiah’s satire on the death of a tyrant: “How you are fallen from heaven, / O Day Star, son of Dawn!” (Is: 14,12). But the medieval biblical tradition, where “Morning Star” had been translated with “Lucifer”, understood the descent of the star Venus/Lucifer as the fall of the lord of demons. Therefore, the name “Lucifer” has been associated with the figure of Satan since the Middle Ages. In Elend, however, we kept the parallel between Christ and Lucifer, and elaborated a complex reflection, on an almost archetypal level, on the symbolic process of denomination in Christian theology and on the nature of the Christian religion, which sees itself as a religion of salvation. You could read the lyrics as Iskandar Hasnawi’s logbook of his struggles against the Christian religion; they are interwoven with many images and personal references that are alien to this tradition. Our cycle was a personal interpretation of one of the founding myths of the Western cultural imagination. We took many liberties with biblical or theological texts. You could even call it a dreamt mythology; and thus, there is not such a great distance to what we are doing on Winds Devouring Men.
The fact that the Officium dealt with themes partly based on Western philosophy and theology has led people to believe that Elend have had more than mere abstract interests in the matter. The point is that what we tried to achieve with this cycle (which can more or less be summarized as extreme violence and most oppressive darkness in music) had to be presented in a comprehensible form, and most people in our culture are familiar with the Christian religion and related topics, also regarding deviating interpretations in philosophy or literature, such as Paradise Lost. In order to produce our tripartite maelstrom toward absolute darkness we thus looked for a symbolical figure that could embody this process (Lucifer). From a Catholic ceremony designed to welcome hope and light as the symbol of Christ’s resurrection (the “leçons de ténèbres”), held on the three nights before Easter Sunday, we achieved a descent into utter hopelessness and emptiness (hence the name “Elend”). In addition to that, the Officium Tenebrarum (or “Office des Ténèbres”) cycle was structured according to the sequence of these masses; although I find many details on the past albums not perfect in retrospect, our concept was very elaborate both in form and content; and very coherent, too.
Matthew: Are you aware that the English band Paradise Lost sampled a choir part from "The Umbersun" on their latest release? I always found that amusing -- as if they were apologizing for using the name Paradise Lost when you guys were the true Milton aficionados in the dark music world!
Renaud: Iskandar doesn’t really appreciate their music, and I haven’t bought their last few albums myself, so we were totally unaware of the fact that they had sampled us. But we have checked thanks to your remark. As you know, they used the solo soprano opening of “In the Embrasure of Heaven” as the opening of one of their songs. They didn’t mention us in the credits of the album, though. Need I say more…
Renaud: Anyway, you are absolutely right in presuming affinities to orchestral music. I can give you a list of composers which I think are esteemed by both of us, and in whose tradition we like to see ourselves. I will try to keep it short: Mahler, Strauss, Bartók, Varèse, Scelsi, Messiaen, Xenakis, Ligeti, Nono, Henry, Górecki, Penderecki, Pärt.
Matthew: Those are the very composers that I had always assumed had a deep impact upon Elend, especially Górecki and Penderecki. Are you at all familiar with Penderecki's opera for "Paradise Lost?" I myself have not heard it since, as far as I know, it has never been recorded. But I know that it exists! I was curious how similar it might have been to Elend's work and if had any significant influence upon you.
Renaud: No, we have never heard it either. In 1996/97 we weren’t familiar with all of his works, but those we knew certainly motivated us to pursue our own experiments with musical violence. We have developed our own methods of composing rather independently from the learned school, but in retrospect we notice that the composers we appreciate have worked along similar lines, without our knowing it. Although Penderecki’s concern with religious matters is completely alien to both Elend composers, his seventh symphony (Seven Gates of Jerusalem), which was written approximately at the same time as The Umbersun, shows some interesting similarities to The Umbersun, conceptually, but also compositionally. It was quite surprising to listen to it when it was released on CD in 2000. So maybe we will have another surprise when his Paradise Lost will be available.
Matthew: Where did you and Iskandar study music, and what specific degreesdid the two of you earn at University?
Renaud: Regarding music we are autodidacts; except for a thorough basic musical education in our teens. We learned to play a few instruments, like the violin or the piano, but we never really had the opportunity to study composition in a scholarly context.
Renaud: We have never been interested in gothic at all; I don't think that it has anything to do with dark music. Metal does not count as dark music either, but it is a style that is concerned with musical violence, and this is what we appreciate. I still miss this kind of barbaric, violent approach in many metal bands. But fortunately there are some people of whom I think that they have understood the essence of metal - Immolation, Morbid Angel, Cadaver Inc., Dillinger Escape Plan, Cephalic Carnage, etc.
Matthew: You claim that 'Gothic' really doesn't have anything to do with dark music. Are you referring more or less to the fashion and image associated with the Gothic club scene? Because from my perspective as a 'Gothic' DJ and a literature major with an emphasis on Gothic literature, I would say that the atmosphere in most of Elend's music strongly mirrors the atmosphere of dark Romantic and Gothic literature, and unlike many current club bands, Elend could be referred to as Gothic without any aesthetic hesitation. I would say this as well about bands like Dead Can Dance, Sopor Aeternus, and even some of the early Gothic Rock bands like Bauhaus, the Banshees, Christian Death, etc. It seems to me that many of the purest 'Gothic' bands do not want to be associated with the term. I understand that I may have a rather unique or more academic impression of the term Gothic, but why, in the case of Elend, do you have an aversion to the term? There needs to be more quality bands out there that 'reclaim' the word and its proper usage!
Renaud: Because Elend is as far removed from Gothic proper as from the music scene that took over the term. As a literary movement, the “Gothic” was mainly concerned with the revival of a certain historical period and what was believed to be part of it; there was a fascination with the obscure, the supernatural, the occult, etc. It is obvious why the term was applied to a particular wave of pop bands in the 80s, and we could argue whether it was deserved or not. But I don’t see any connection to Elend in either movement. There is a naïve sentimentality at the heart of the literary, or scholarly, Gothic – and the same holds for the entirety of the Romantic movement; for the English current with Shelley, Byron, Walpole, Lewis etc. as well as for its offspring that were the French Decadents, Baudelaire, Lautréamont, Lorrain or Huysmans. The Romantic approach is not ours, which has more in common with Modernism or Futurism and the Poundian re-appropriation of antiquity. The musical references to Romanticism on the past albums were linked to the Officium: I have already outlined its textual dimension above; the music was intended as a kind of survey of the complete Western musical tradition, from the Renaissance to the middle of the 20th century, growing more violent and dense on the one hand, and more modern on the other, as it advances. We have never been drawn to Romantic music, but this doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge its inventions and its role in the evolution of the Western tradition. Actually, everything that happened between the Baroque era and Richard Strauss is of little interest to us, emotionally. This is also why we are turning to other traditions with the new Elend album: we have done the most out of the Western tradition already. Among the bands you mentioned I guess you can call the Banshees or Christian Death gothic bands. Sopor Aeternus is a circus clown, and Dead Can Dance is definitely not a gothic band. What we principally don’t like about the gothic scene is a certain attitude toward life, and all that goes with it, including image and fashion of course. It is essentially a nihilistic movement; we find such tendencies repulsive. We have always kept to the human dimension, the earthly, the temporal, even in our confrontation with theological material. Our recurrent emphasis on violence and hopelessness must not be mistaken for the Gothic fascination with the morbid; this does not interest us at all. Human consciousness first of all means being conscious of the inevitable end of one’s own existence. Death is significant because it shapes human experience, but there is nothing delightful in death or disease.
I really would like to be told specifically why Elend has been associated with this scene. Melancholic atmospheres? George Clinton can also be melancholic, and no one would say that funk has anything to do with gothic (Debatable…Gang Of Four, Turn Pale, PIL, etc – ed. Matthew) The instrumentation? Density? Violence? Then Penderecki would be gothic, too; and besides, there don’t seem to be any gothic bands to which those aspects apply. The literary references to the Western tradition? That is not specific enough. Maybe these misunderstandings are connected to the theme of the fall of the angels; I hope that my remarks on the Officium concept will have shed light on this matter. Our understanding of dark music involves the element of dramatic tension; you have to know Richard Strauss to comprehend that tension is the essence of our work. There is none in what is commonly regarded as “gothic” music. We can only always point to ancient Greek tragedy (mainly Aeschylus) for a better understanding of what we mean. I should stop using the term “dark” in connection with music; with ours, and with music in general; it doesn’t mean anything. “Tragic” is the only suitable term to describe Elend.
Renaud: It is pleasant to know that people from diverse musical backgrounds are able to appreciate what we are doing. But we don't really mind about the reception of our music. We were first signed to a metal label in 1994, which made the metal scene the first one in touch with our work; but at that time Elend was much more easily accessible for somebody familiar with extreme metal - and there were many misunderstandings of course. The new cycle we are beginning with Winds Devouring Men might not please this audience that much, while people who approve the album without knowing the previous work might be shocked when they are confronted with its raw violence, the screams, the uninterrupted torrent of violence that pours from it.
Matthew: Was this one of the reasons that you decided to leave the screams and growls behind? In an effort to further emphasize the more 'serious' aspect of your music? You sort of tested the waters with this in the past, with the Weeping Nights disc which was material from the Les Ténèbres Du Dehors release, without the male screams. But they were back in full forceon The Umbersun? Will they ever make a return to Elend?
Renaud: Maybe, but very likely not in the current cycle. They would be out of place here. We use screams in Ensemble Orphique, for example, but they are not male screams. Violence can be expressed in many ways, musically, and they don’t always have to be the most obvious. But once again, this is a matter of point of view. Screams will be more likely to shock the listener, because they are not common in what you could call the musical mainstream. And maybe the reason why non-metal audiences find the new album more appealing is the fact that the overall atmosphere on Winds Devouring Men is more melancholic than oppressing. But violence is still there, of course, and it is much extremer than before, notably on some tracks in the middle of the album. I personally think that some passages with layers of dissonant strings, rhythmical elements and distorted noises are the most violent ones we have ever made. But they are merely outbursts: they are unexpected and surprising, but will not trouble the average listener too long. I think this is the main change compared to the previous album: nothing on The Umbersun was really “surprising”. Once you entered the flux with the first piece it brought you to utter wretchedness like in a programmed ride; very brutal of course, but very predictable.
Matthew: The integration of 'Industrial' elements was a nice surprise, and provides a similar kind of rawness and intensity that the screams provided on the earlier albums. What inspired you guys to do this? Are you fans of early experimental Industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle and Einsturzende Neubauten? Or are you taking your noisey cues from contemporary 'serious musicians' like Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass?
Renaud: We quite appreciate the approach of Einstürzende Neubauten. But I would rather point to the work of Pierre Henry or Iannis Xenakis than to others as far as “noises” are concerned.
Matthew: Whereas most of today's experimental artists just create noises with their computer programs, you guys actually went out and made these noises, or at least sampled real life sounds? Where did you guys do this? What all did you sample?
Renaud: The major part of our industrial samples was recorded in a metal embossing factory here in Austria. We recorded workers on their machines and also used some of the machinery available there in unconventional ways; some of the sounds thus recorded were later re-designed on the computer. Apart from that, we record whatever we believe to be interesting; ambience sounds we happen to come across or unconventional noises we produce on our own with devices we construct for this specific purpose. Most bands that use “industrial” elements in an extraneous context have recourse to sample CD-ROMs that are used everywhere else (in films, television series, computer games etc. ). There are not as many as you would think, and we know most of them. Just listen closely to the sounds used in the X-Files. You will find them in many other places. These samples are extremely well done of course, and they have an excellent sound quality, but you will always be limited in your scope. Using them is just like using instant food instead of preparing a meal with choice ingredients. In recording and treating our own sounds we can be sure to achieve a result that has not been heard before. There is no real innovation in this domain, except in industrial music proper, in electronic music and in contemporary serious music – anyway, all these ideas reach back to the Musique Concrète of the 50s and 60s. Or even to the Futurists in the early 20th century. We do not pretend to be innovative in having recourse to this principle! We merely believe that there are still some interesting things to be done with “noises” and with programming. It is possible to produce music outside of the norms of a conventional instrumentation; and working with one’s own sounds is a much more interesting process than admiring and using the work of others.
Matthew: There has always been such a remarkable similarity between the clean male vocals in Elend and the vocals of Brendan Perry (DCD). In many ways I always felt that Elend picked up the neo-classical strains that Dead Can Dance abandoned, in order to pursue their more ethnic influences. Elend really fills that void quite well. Was this at all intentional? (I wouldn't ask if the similarities weren't so strong...)
Renaud: Not at all! We have always appreciated Dead Can Dance of course, but I wouldn’t subscribe to the idea that we are continuing what they began; it would neither do justice to them nor to us. Their way of writing music is fundamentally different from ours, their sound too. Our music has always been dramatic and complex, both harmonically and structurally; theirs was primarily concerned with readability, even when they integrated exotic or unconventional elements. In addition to that, we have always attempted to achieve an overall acoustic sound, i.e., a sound closer to recordings of serious than of popular music (we have only really managed this on the last album, due to the obvious reasons I talked about in the last Starvox Interview). Brendan Perry is an outstanding producer, and the sound of Dead Can Dance’s albums is very clean, even clinical, in some ways. I am not saying that one approach is better than the other; it is merely a question of different concerns. But anyway – one must never forget the role Dead Can Dance played in the development of popular music. There have not been many bands with the same approach; one should never forget that they synchronically used contemporary and archaic instrumentations or structures untypical within the context of popular music in a period when everything evolved around conventions. I believe that we are indebted to this very approach – it is for this particular reason that we stated our respect for them in the credits of our first album. In this regard they were pioneers, which we certainly are not. As to the male vocals – there are similarities in the tone colour of the voice, indeed; this is a curious coincidence, but there is nothing we can change about that!
Matthew: So what's next for Elend? Will fans have to wait another five years for the next album? Is Winds Devouring Men the first instalment in a new conceptual cycle?
Renaud: Yes, the new cycle comprises four albums. Actually, the next album is scheduled to appear approximately one year from the release of Winds Devouring Men, which would be spring 2004. We are currently working on it and have already started recording some pieces. The pace will not be as slow as on Winds Devouring Men, this time. The music is faster, more violent, more bizarre, if you prefer. The two subsequent albums will be released in 2005 and 2006 (if everything works out as planned). Beyond that, the future of the project is uncertain.
Matthew: Thank you again for answering our questions. Best of luck with the latest release and all your future endeavours!
Renaud: Many thanks to StarVox, especially to you and Joel, for the interest shown in Elend and for giving us the opportunity to do two really in-depth interviews!
Prophecy Records: http://www.prophecy.cd/
Websites (* both were listed as is in the CDs booklet, but neither page
seems to be up at present time)
~Interviewed by Anthony Flores
(photos from the band's website)
about five albums, eps, singles, and various remixes to their credit; you
might think the band IN STRICT CONFIDENCE would enjoy far greater recognition
in the community. You would be wrong. In the international community, yes,
in the US, no. Their first release
Cryogenix was released
in the US on Metropolis in 1997! I only became aware of them 2-3 years
ago. But, when I did, I made acquiring every album a quest of Holy Grail-like
proportions, and I wasn't disappointed.
Their music has been described as dark electro, industrial/grindcore, it is all of this and more. Germany is a nation reknowned for it's heavy industry, and more appropriately; its gothic and metal traditions. Is it any wonder that the band's 2002 release Mistrust The Angels should be such a stellar example of the bands evolving artistry? It is with the greatest pleasure, that I introduce the band to StarVox and it's far flung readership.
Starvox: Greetings, thank you for agreeing to speak with StarVox.Net today. (A) In preparing for this interview, I came across several conflicting dates for the beginning of IN STRICT CONFIDENCE. For the record, what year was the name chosen and the creation of music under the name begun? (B) I understand you began making music earlier in the 90's, underthe name SEAL OF SECRECY? That was a great name! What happened to it, is itstill active or protected against future use?
ISC: (A) Under the name IN STRICT CONFIDENCE we are doing music since 1992.
ISC: (B) We began in '89 or '90 creating music. At this time four persons were integrated in this project. After a big split, just Jörg and Dennis kept the idea of the band alive. But, we had to choose a new name. A former member of the band in 1990 was also Stefan Vesper, who found his way back to the band two years ago.
STARVOX: I've heard you describe your other project "Control LED Fusion" as a more dance oriented endeavor. I've always considered IN STRICT CONFIDENCE as perfectly danceable music. What elements specifically differentiate the one from the other?
ISC: Steffen Schuhrke is the leader and creator of CF. I met him in the '90's and we started cooperating with band. I think CF's sound is more harsh and straight, ISC more emotional, melodic and deeper. By the way, the name is simply CONTROLLED FUSION - but funny idea with the LED too!
STARVOX: Please tell me a little about the band. HOW and WHERE did you originally meet?
ISC: We've known each other more than 13 years. In the area we lived, there wasn´t a music scene dedicated to what we were doing, just punk and rock bands. We loved electronic music from the 80s. One day, we bought our first keyboard and knew that was it!
STARVOX: What kinds of interests do each of you have (i.e.hobbies,sports,reading,etc.)
ISC: Music is our main interest, so there isn´t too much time beside that for other hobbies at the moment.
STARVOX: (A)Would you please share with us a little about your association and activities as they pertain to the labels Bloodline and Minuswelt?
ISC: We canceled all works with bloodline before some time which was a necessary step, like it was before with zoth ommog. We created minuswelt musikfabrfik to have our own platform to release our music. In germany with soulfood/sony music as distributor and strong partner. We have total 100 percent control of the label.
STARVOX: I think most artists could credit others with particular work and artistry that inspired them to want to create.(A)Who were those artists for you, and (B)for what reasons? These might be musicians, artists, writers, etc. (C) What specifically inspired MISTRUST THE ANGELS?
ISC: That´s difficult, I think all our life inspired us. Little details I don´t remember and big things like personal experiences. There were a lot of artists we really loved, but I don´t know how much they influenced us. Like Skinny Puppy in the past, it has been our favourite band, even we don´t sound like them now. In general, we love music with deep emotions, like Skinny Puppy, Bjork, or older Delerium etc.
STARVOX: I think the art of creating music, writing, and touring canas incredibly as it sounds be a very lonely and isolating one.(A)In what ways has the pursuit of making music negatively affected your personal life? (B)Have you reconciled yourself with the losses versus the gains in pursuing this vocation?
ISC: It´s a strange life we have, that´s sure. It's difficult with partnerships, if the other can't accept your way of life. Yes, I think it´s a hard test for the partnership. If you are successful, it might be easier to get sex, but much harder to find a real love.
STARVOX: The last I heard, the band lived all over Europe. This arrangement isn't all that uncommon from my experience. As a band, how does this work when creating music? Does it pose any kind of problems at all?
ISC: The main part of the band creating music lives in the center of germany within 30 miles of one another, so this isn't the big problem. But it's true that our live members and crew which support us, come from different countries all over europe, like norway, spain, etc. It´s difficult and expensive to get all these people together, but we don´t want to change this crew since it´s our family.
STARVOX: What albums are you listening to right now?
ISC: The last things I have heard right now, have been the albums of Linkin Park and Conjure One/Rhys Fulber.
STARVOX: Do you consider yourselves political? What do you think about President Bush's war in Iraq?
ISC: All that the Germans have learned about democracy since the second world war from the states, Bush and his men are destroying right now. This is not democracy, it goes back to middle-ages and the right of the stronger one.
STARVOX: (A)What's ahead for IN STRICT CONFIDENCE in 2003? (B)What is the band working on at the moment? (C)When if ever will we see a west coast tour of the US?
ISC: We are working on new songs at the moment, a new single is planned for late summer, plus some concerts and festivals all over the world. Whenever it will be possible to find someone to organize a tour over there and all the band members find enough time.
STARVOX: I'd like to thank the band on behalf of STARVOX.NET and it's readers for their wilingness to share a little about themselves today. We wish you all the best in the future and hope to see you playing dates in cities near us soon.