Question have been asked, and will be destroyed… by answers!
There are good bands, and then there are, well, extraordinary bands. I don’t know if you’ve already through lived that feeling of hearing a band for the first time and then you’ve been awestruck by the music that you’ve just witnessed. That was exactly what happened to yours truly when I first came across Frankenstein, hands down one of the fucking best live-bands I’ve ever seen. Fronted by the incarnation of L.A. Punk Rock, Dave Grave, the band which is in existence since 1985 finally released its debut-album called An Ugly Display Of Self-Preservation, which contains many live-favorites as “Lovecraft”, “Jesus With A Big V8”, “She Casts No Shadow” and “Devil In A Bottle”. In addition to that Frankenstein recently signed an exclusive record-deal for Europe with the rather new but steadily growing Fiendforce Records-label. All in all these were reasons enough for me to get in touch with my beloved fiends again. So I took the chance and talked to the Franken-family about the past, the present and the future.
Thomas: Hallo, my lads. It has been a while since we’ve last had the chance to have a chat, and with the impending European release of your fantastic An Ugly Display Of Self-Preservation in front of us, I think that time couldn’t be more right in order to check out what you guys have been up to in the last couple of months. So who is with us tonight?
Stevyn: We’ve got Dave Grave, the mouth of the band (ex-Voodoo Church, The Rotters).
Dave: Wie geht’s, Thomas?
Stevyn: We’ve got Jermz (Element, ex-Faith & The Muse, Kommunity FK) on rhythm guitar.
Jermz: Thomas, hallo!
Stevyn: Of course, Mister Bart Sinister (ex-Bloodflag) on bass.
Bart: That’s right. I'm Bart Sinister, bass player and King of Beers.
Stevyn: And, please allow me to introduce our new lead guitarist! From the swamps of New Orleans, the Guitar Witch-Doctor, Mr. Tommy Marseilles (ex-Rotting Human Flesh, Antisept)!
Tommy: Hello, Thomas!
Stevyn: And I’m Stevyn Grey – just a loser who hangs out with these guys (Ex: Christian Death, Mephisto Walz, Shadow Project, Van Halen, The Beatles, The David Hasselhoff Experience).
Jermz: What have we been up to?
Dave: Well,all we've been up to is playing show after show, and stitching the album together one piece at a time.
Stevyn: Hey, here’s something that the readers might be interested in. Thomas Thyssen and I have been friends for…how long…? Hmmmm… 12 years now! Wow! And we’ve only kissed once… I’m saving myself for that Special Night.
Thomas: Sssssshhhhhhht. Damn it. Talking about privacy, Mr. Grey, eh? Anyways, the history of Frankenstein dates back way to the early 80ies. Dave, would you please give us a short overview about the history of the band, and what you were up to before Frankenstein was founded?
Dave: My first attempt at Frankenstein was back in '85, when the first L.A. Death Wave had peaked, before the Goth and Industrial scenes got bigger. I'd started a band called Zombie Legion back in 1979, which later became the original Voodoo Church in '81. I quit Voodoo Church and started Bone Cult, a big club phenomenon that never played, but got lots of free drinks - among other things. After starting Frankenstein, I also started another band, The Screaming Things with Mojo Bone from Rocket ’88 and Ringo Slug who would later become Harry Drumdini of The Cramps. The Screaming Things broke up, more all-star line-up changes for Frankenstein, and so on and so forth. Frankenstein was built out of bad flesh, and over the years some parts fell off, and others were sewn on. The current band is the end product of an ugly past. They seem like nice guys...
Thomas: …yeah, right. Maybe on the first impression. Your debut is going to be released on the German Fiendforce Records-label. How did you guys get in contact with them?
Stevyn: When we were shopping around for a European label, we came across this new name “Fiendforce – The Home of Horror Punk” and we thought “hmmmm…sounds very interesting!” They heard our stuff, got back to us and the rest is history, as they say. Actually, the last time I was on tour in Europe, filling in on drums for my buddies of The Last Dance, my good friend Dolores Lokas from Motherdance - our European booking agency – and I went to meet with Thorsten from Fiendforce. He took us out to Mexican food (!) in Cologne, got me really drunk and the next thing I knew, a contract was put in front of me. By the way, Thomas – do you think they’re really serious about that “owning my first-born child” clause?
Thomas: I am pretty sure they are. Just look at Thorsten. I mean, he is some scary-looking dude…
Dave (interrupts): I'm very pleased with them. They're doing a run of CDs and 12-inch vinyl in green, I believe. I'm looking forward to meeting them in September. Up to now, for me, they've only been words on a screen.
Thomas: Vinyl rocks of course. They’ve been putting out some stuff on vinyl for some time now. Over here in the Old World many people see you as some kind of an allstar-band since nearly each and every one of you guys has performed with many legendary acts from the Deathrock and Goth-genre. What do you think about this, and how would you respond to people who think that you guys are legends?
Tommy: I'm not sure what to say about "a legend". We enjoy creating and performing. It is a part of who we are.
Bart: I think that I am working with some of the best musicians that I have ever worked with. I'm honored to be playing with these guys.
Dave: I’ve just gotten used to being widely unknown! But I'm happy someone's been paying attention to that noise we've been making. We'll do our best not to disappoint you.
Thomas: I’m sure you do.
Stevyn: Actually, I think we’re legendary in the same way that the Yeti, or the Loch Ness Monster is legendary. In fact, has anyone ever seen the Loch Ness Monster and the members of Frankenstein in the same place at the same time? Coincidence? We’ll let you decide.
Thomas: Now that’s a good point, Stevyn. An Ugly Display Of Self-Preservation mainly features very old material of Frankenstein which was newly recorded for the album. Can we expect something totally fresh for the - hopefully - second album, or is there still enough old material left in the drawers?
Bart: We are currently writing material for the next album, but expect some surprises as well.
Dave: An Ugly Display Of Self-Preservation is just what the title says...a body of work spanning three decades and two centuries. I wouldn't call it a "Worst-Of" album, because there is worse to come.
Thomas: I don’t know why, but I really doubt that, Mister Grave. How long did you guys work on the album? And how was it to work with our fellow buddy William Faith on producing the CD?
Dave: Recording and mixing was great, it was getting the thing out that was a pain, but satisfying. Like a really good shit.
Dave: I love working with William, but I don't know if I'd shit around him. But seriously, now the shit is out, and it is floating your way.
Bart: He made me feel very at ease in the studio. I learned a lot from him.
Stevyn: Most all of us have known William for a long time, and as you know, some of us have previously played with him as well, so of course there were no real problems. It helped that we all drank a lot of beer together and then recorded the entire album naked.
Thomas: Bloody old perv, Stevyn. Although your sound can’t be labeled as being Deathrock or Goth, you attract many people from those audiences, and songs like "Lovecraft" and "Devil In A Bottle" are frequently played on respective events over here. What are your thoughts about that?
Dave: I created Frankenstein to keep the Rock in Death Rock, Horror Punk, or whatever name is written on the toe-tag. And who doesn't enjoy tales of murder and mayhem? I'm happily surprised at the response we've gotten.
Bart: I think that we are a great rock n' roll band, and you can't deny good Rock’n'Roll. Even the great Deathrock bands are rooted in rock n' roll, such as Rozz’ many bands or the Sex Gang Children, just as an example.
Jermz: I think the fact that the music appeals to so many different tastes in music is what makes Frankenstein.
Tommy: Non-mainstream rock, whether it be Deathrock, Goth, Punk, or whatever, generates zealous emotion in its audience. As different as each genre is, they are cut from the same cloth. Frankenstein has a new sound and energy influenced by the sounds of old that appeals to multiple audiences. Evolution of music yields inspiration.
Stevyn: Our biggest fans seem to be split into three groups: Deathrock & Goth kids, Punk Rock/Psychobilly people, and women serving life-sentences in prison. We don’t question it, we just love them all the same.
Thomas: So Rock’n’Roll for sure has had the biggest impact on the Frankenstein-sound, right?
Bart: Yeah, I love rock n' roll, and am always inspired by bands like the Stooges, but I listen to all types of music.
Jermz: Hmm... Influences for making music with Frankenstein? They're probably rooted under 20 feet of rotting swamp water
Dave: I grew up on a steady diet of late night horror movies, twisted rock and roll, and the Cold War. Over the years, I've been a fan of Alice Cooper, Iggy, The Cramps, The Screamers, Birthday Party, Foetus, poorly recorded garage bands, blah-blah-blah… I was born a Frankenstein.
Tommy: Tiny Tim, ABBA and Frank Sinatra.
Stevyn: Definitely ABBA.
Thomas: You definitely need a man after midnight, Stevyn. One song in particular, namely “Lovecraft”, will be included on numerous compilations in Germany like for e.g. on “Pagan Love Songs” and “This Is Horrorpunk II”, and has become a massive clubhit in the Old World. What do you think about people shaking their booties to your tunes?
Bart: I love it!
Jermz: I think it's great! Does anyone have video of this booty shaking?
Thomas: Maybe you can make your own while you’re over here?!
Tommy: Excellent, however you haven't yet really experienced it until you have lived through it Live on Stage. September 2004 – those who experience it with us will know.
Dave: Are people "shaking their booties" to “Lovecraft”? DO YOU REALIZE THE CONSEQUENCES OF DANCING TO TALES OF ELDRITCH BEINGS? STOP!!!
Thomas: Hehe. One of my personal faves of the album is "She Casts No Shadow" which was also included on the fantastic “New Dark Age”-compilation which was released by our friends of Strobelight Records. Provide me a little insight into that great piece of music.
Dave: "She Casts No Shadow" and another song "Thunderjug" are both dark lessons taught to me by bad women in my misspent youth. Emotional scars inflicted on the way to becoming a monster.
Thomas: In September Frankenstein will be headed for Europe for the first time in their history. Over here you’ll be headlining the “II. Pagan Love Songs”-festival for e.g., and play alongside some other cool acts as Devilish Presley from the U.K., Germany’s own Bloody Dead And Sexy, the Italian True Goffs of Ordeal By Fire, and the uprising Horror Punk-outfit The Other…
Tommy: Hold on tight, it's going to be a wild ride.
Bart: I can't wait. I look forward to coming to Europe to tour the album and meeting everyone over there.
Jermz: It'll be an invasion unlike any other. Be there or be dead!
Dave: It promises to be an ugly display of some kind! I'm looking forward to this tour! Real Beer! Different voltage! New faces! New arms, legs, parts...
Stevyn: Ich habe eine Frage für dich, mein Freund, is that right, Thomas?
Thomas: It is. Go ahead!
Stevyn: For the Frankenstein tour, can we expect there to be a “Thomas Thyssen tour diary” like there was for a previous tour with “another band” – we don’t need to mention the name – where we spent some quality time together on the road. Remember?
Thomas: How should I ever forget?
Stevyn: “Day 1: Woke up. Got drunk with Stevyn. Drank until I passed out”, “Day 2: Woke up. Got drunk with Stevyn. Drank until I passed out”, “Day 3: Woke up. Got drunk with Stevyn. Drank until I puked then passed out” etc. “One Jaegermeister too many, Mr. Grey…”
Thomas: I feel embarrassed. It’s time to get this thing done, I guess. So what are you guys planning for the future?
Tommy: Plans? I plan to sleep until noon.
Dave: Future? I curse the future with the legacy of this band, and hope it leaves a bad after-taste.
Thomas: It’s been a pleasure talking to you guys. Only a few more weeks, and then Europe won’t be the same never ever again.
Jermz: Thanks, Tom, and see you in a few weeks!
Tommy: Chill the beer, we'll be over shortly.
Bart: ...and free beer for all!
Thomas: We’re good hosts. You know that, Bart!
Stevyn: Thomas, what do I have to do to make you love me the way that I love you…?
Thomas: .oO (Geez!)
Dave: Thomas! We have the underpants you lost at the pool-party, the last time you were here in California. They're disgusting! If you don't want pictures of them all over the web, you will meet our demands... I am an Aesthetik Terrorist, you know.
Thomas: Okay, I’m outta here!
~ Pagan Love Songs ~
see the StarVox Frankenstein photo gallery here
~interview by Eric Rasmussen
Ihriel of Star of Ash and
Ihsahn of Emperor are the brains behind Peccatum, and they were kind enough
to provide us with some insights into Peccatum’s peculiar brand of dark
Eric: Peccatum is popularly known as Ihriel’s band; is there any basis for this? Do you work on the project evenly, or is there a clear “band leader”?
Peccatum: We are unfamiliar with this opinion. In Peccatum we both equally share responsibility, work and input. For Lost in Reverie everything is so co-written that it is hard to sort out who had the different original ideas for themes, arrangements, instrumentation and so on.
Eric: You create some really neat jazz atmospheres on Lost in Reverie, which admittedly surprised me. Are you fans of jazz? What inspired you to incorporate jazz percussion into Peccatum?
Peccatum: Not necessarily in general terms. Within some genres we are more fascinated by the sonic potential, rather than the musical expression. For this album we wished to have a very versatile drummer, and with Knut Aalefjær and his experiences from the Norwegian Philharmonic Orchestra, several jazz-acts and contemporary performances, we got just that.
Eric: When you write songs, what do you typically want to communicate to your listeners? Are you seeking to establish a particular kind of atmosphere or mood?
Peccatum: All music is also about communication, though we do not pick the counterpart (listener) in advance. With this record we kind of worked our way from scratch with applying various writing techniques as well as locating and following three guiding stars; the dreamy and ruthless movement of water, Theodor Kittilsen’s “Svartedauen”( the black plague) and French Surrealism. All felt well suited to underline as well as build the dreamy and decadent claustrophobic and unpredictable atmosphere we wished to create with “Lost in Reverie”. In many ways it paints the beauty of the mad, the contagious and the invisible.
Eric: Are you planning to tour with your new material? Is it possible that Knut Aalefjær would tour with you?
Peccatum: We have no immediate
plans to follow up this release with live performances. This is merely
due to lack of time with building a new label as well as pursuing new musical
challenges. On the practical side we would need to hire quite a few session
musicians in order to get this show on the road, and that in itself is
quite a big project. However, we’ve already had some offers for concerts,
so we might want to follow up on this at a later point.
Eric: Ihriel, has your Star of Ash project significantly affected the way you view Peccatum’s music? How do the two projects differ?
Peccatum: All musical work
will leave you with new experiences, and so was also the case for me with
Star of Ash. One of the things I learned most from was not thinking traditional
band constellation, but independent songwriting, which in turn opened new
possibilities. The two projects differ obviously musically, but also in
what they wish to achieve. Star of Ash is in many ways more resigned and
at ease, while Peccatum reach for darkness and aggression.
Eric: Ihsahn, your clean singing is more expressive on Lost in Reverie than in anything else I’ve heard you do. How have you developed your voice since your time in Emperor?
Peccatum: Simply by random, chance and what I aim to express – different music generates different singing. That’s said, production-wise this album is also more intimate, leaving the voice more upfront in the mix.
Eric: What drives you to fill your songs with such bleak and desolate lyrics?
Peccatum: It’s all from the heart.
Eric: There is a genuinely creepy vibe to many of the tracks on Lost in Reverie, and the artwork/packaging with the CD seems to capture this feel beautifully. Who did you work with for the art, and how do you go about transferring sound to images?
Peccatum: Thank you. We are very happy with how the artwork turned out this time. The greatest step forward for us was not only to work with the right people (art/fashion photographer Siren Lauvdal and the designer duo Trine and Kim), but also to take control of all aspects concerning the final result of the album. With music being a very abstract art form, the visuals on an album becomes its clothing and how you’d like to present and elaborate it.
Eric: Are you both currently involved in any other projects? How do you manage your time between Peccatum and your other work?
Peccatum: Time is something we really should have more of, so it comes down to coordination and priority. Sometimes one outlet has to be kept on hold in order to push another forward. At present we have quite a work load with both Peccatum and Mnemosyne Productions. In addition to this Ihsahn is writing material for his forthcoming solo-album.
Eric: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans? Parting words of wisdom from Peccatum...
Peccatum: Thank you for the
interview Eric, and greetings to all dark music lovers with these words
from the photographer Joel-Peter Witkin:
“The subjects of my work are not freaks, degenerates of the grotesque. They are us”.
Be sure to check out our review of Lost in Reverie for more information!
Ihriel - Vocals and instruments
Ihsahn - Vocals and instruments
Knut Aalefjær - additional percussion
Peccatum - Official Site:
The End Records (US):