BlackOrpheus has the distinction of interviewing Martin Bowes, of the seminal UK trailblazer, Attrition. Their new album "The Jeopardy Maze," is a gratifying melange of the familiar, and unexpected.
Martin, I understand The Death House was created in conjunction with a role playing game you were developing. Please, tell us about your training, and interest in gaming.
M: "The Death House" soundtrack was inspired by the film "Night of the living dead" by George A. Romero. It was the first "official" recording we ever made. They were disturbing, improvised electronics! Yes, I worked on a game to go with it! It was 1982, before computer games had any depth, so it was a board game. I made 10 copies I believe. It would actually translate well to computer though. I never allow a game anywhere near my computer! It's full of music, a little art and that is enough!
I see a lot of gimmickry, that buys 15 minutes of fame. Gimmickry doesn't sustain careers though. Do you feel a willingness to rely on technology, undermines a musicians development of the fundamentals? What does this bode for the future of music in general?
M: Everyone relies on technology...from a computer to a synthesizer to a guitar to a drum to a fork and spoon...it doesn't have to undermine anything...it is just a tool and it is up to the individual to use it in a creative way, in an inspiring way.....of course this rarely happens....but i don't think we would necessarily be better off without these tools...sometimes there are gimmicks, yes...but i think we see through them in the end...
Please give us a glimpse into your creative process. What sources do you rely upon, for inspiration? If you can, be specific as they relate to the latest album. The cover art for your records is a great example, as well as the poetry cited.
M: My inspiration can come from anywhere...of course the obvious music, art, film and literature...but really the greatest inspiration comes from my everyday existence....a chance meeting, a turn of phrase, an overheard word....everything I write is about everyday life, and specifically about my life....mostly my songs are concerned with many things at once...the way we live is much the same...but occasionally I focus on an issue...vivisection for example going back to "Monkey In a Bin"...."The Jeopardy Maze" is like much of my work in that it is concerned with the great struggle with life, death, love, sex, god and our religions...
I have heard Attrition described as industrial, gothic,darkwave, ethereal, ambient and a host of other inadequate misnomers. If you had to describe the music, how would you characterize your own music?
M: I have probably used some of these myself! It is difficult...people need labels and yet we are labeling something that can never be..."a little slice of life" perhaps...
Tell me about the creative relationship that exists between you, and Julia. How has her involvement in Attrition, influenced the bands direction with each successive album? Tell me a little about her background, and interests. I hear her voice described as "operatic" continually. How would you characterize it?
M: I have worked with Julia, on and off, for many years...although she has not appeared on every album....really it is my own work that has influenced the bands direction, although Julia's input was great and very important...I am now working with a new singer...Christine...who is very powerful...but not in an "operatic" way...more gospel/rock....it is interesting...Julia may or may not reappear!...it has happened before!
Classical stylings seem to be an ongoing theme in recent Attrition releases. I think it suits the music extraordinarily well. Can you tell me about when, and why you made the decision to delve into this sound to the extent you have? Please tell me how you, and Franck Dematteis came to be acquainted. What do you feel your collaboration together brings to the music?
M: I have been inspired by classical music for a very long time...but only more recently could I realize it within Attrition...Franck was a long time fan...he's been into the band for 10 years before he wrote to us and offered his services...it worked very well on the "3 arms & a dead cert" album, bringing in his classical training on violin and viola and this led to the "classical" work of "Etude" and later collaborations...and more in the future...i feel his organic, natural approach complements my electronic programmed work perfectly....two completely different sound sources working together to create something greater than both...
What kind of climate exists in the UK, as pertains to the support of the arts? How are music, and musicians encouraged? Alternately, how do you feel the support at home, compares to that afforded musicians in the US?
M: I don't know if musicians are encouraged greatly....it is never a "proper" job....but there are openings here...and even courses aimed at training people in the use of music technology...( I teach one when I get the time!!!....)...I don't know about the US, I suspect it is less supportive than here as everything is based on a financial footing there....you could probably tell me!
I'm sure you're exposed to a great deal of emerging new music. Is there anyone that piques your interest of late? If so, why?
M: Oh...I hear a lot of new music, and there is so much good music around...maybe hard to find, but it is there....I hear drum n bass, ambient, neo-clasical and much more....so much music these days...
If you had time, or the inclination to address the band's critics; what would you want to share with them? What could you say, that might enable them to listen with a more receptive heart?
M: I didn't realize we had any critics! Ha! Well, I don't mind what people think, everyone has their own path, and their own reasons for their choices....I could never be understood by everyone...I am touched that anyone at all understands what I am saying.....I hope I can pay back a little of what was given to me....
Please tell me about the response to "The Jeopardy Maze," as a record, and live. Were you satisfied with the end result? If not, which elements fell short? Which elements met, or exceeded your expectations? What's next for the band? Do you think you'll explore the use of classical still further? If not, what direction lies before you?
M: I am NEVER satisfied with end results...sometimes they come close...but I am forever searching for something more...this is what drives any artist on to the next project....it is impossible to pinpoint specific elements...every song has it's strengths and weaknesses, and personally I may criticize something that another may find perfect...but the response has been very good...and we have been offered more shows this year than we ever had before...in the USA and Europe....so in that way I am pleased...and I know I am going in the right direction...with a long way to travel...which is fine....next?....I want to expand both the use of electronics and the use of classical elements...perhaps a string section next time...and more played and sample elements....always something new....on a different level we have 2 new releases planned for early next year...a live album..."Heretic Angels"...taken from the last US tour...and an album of remixes..."The Hand that Feeds" following quickly on it's heels....we are already planning tours in Europe and the USA to support them....
Please check our website, and email us if you would like to be kept informed of our various activities....thankyou
behalf of StarVox.Net, I want to thank you for your time, and your candid
replies. I wish you every success in the future, with "The Jeopardy Maze"
StarVox.Net, where even the silence does not go unheard...
Web Site: http://www.attrition.co.uk/
Interview with Bella Morte
intro, additional commentary and photos by Blu
On Sunday, November 7th, The RaZor Skyline and Bella Morte took over the tiny neighborhood bar called Dottie's in Atlanta, Georgia for the Hallowed Sky Tour. Being enthusiastic fans of their music and adoring admirers of their sensitive lyrics, Sheryl and I couldn't wait for the chance to talk to this ambitious trio. Little did we know we'd encounter such charismatic souls that night; their presence much more impacting then was ever guessed at. Andy, Bn and Gopal gave us their full attention for this interview prior to the show on the quiet, back porch of Dottie's.
From serious talk about their past, life, and their musical goals, to completely off the wall, no bars held humor, the one thing that rang true through the entire evening was the realization that, "these guys are for real." No masks, no pretentions...as you'll see. We walked in as fans, and left as friends. ~Blu
Sheryl: Ok, you're on tape!
Blu: You have to do obligatory introductions. Who do we have here?
Andy: I'm Andy...the singer.
Bn: Bn, the guitar player and keyboard player, sometimes.
Gopal: And I'm Gopal the bassist.
Blu: Very cool, so how's the tour been going so far?
Andy: [we're] having a really good time, attendance is varying here and there but everybody's enthusiastic every where we go. Good shows - some goth kids, some punk kids here and there. Definitely having a good time.
Sheryl: The first question I have is, all of you grew up in the middle of no where. I was curious as to what type of influences you had at a young age cause there seemed to be sort of an unveilng that took place in the teen years - [is there] anything that is relevant to how you turned out today?
Andy: well my parents got me hooked on horror films very young. I'm as big a horror buff as you'll ever meet. So I've been watching horror films for a very long time. I was into the metal stuff like Kiss and all that back when I was a very young kid. I dunno, I grew up and didn't dig society a whole lot and there was punk rock waiting for me around the corner and then goth rock and all that stuff.
Sheryl: From your introduction to punk rock and goth rock, where did you find that growing up in Virginia?
Andy: Actually, in these small towns you'd be surprised because in a big city you go to a goth show and there's goths there but in a small town like Charlottesville, where we're from, there was a band called Hedonistic Cravings and they were kind of a mix of punk and metal and you had everybody coming out. You had death rock kids, you had the punk kids, metal heads, skinheads and everybody kind of went to one club, had a good time, no trouble. So when you're in a small town you find out about a lot of different music vs. being stuck in one category cause if not everybody comes out to support these gigs you don't have any gigs. So it's a very cool place.
Bn: I basically grew up in a very strong Southern Baptist household so I rebelled against that because all that was very pushed at me. I got into metal in my teen years. Around 18 I got turned onto The Cure, Souixsie, and Psychedelic Furs and that's sort of where I went from there and like Andy, I got into horror movies a lot at a very early age. Not much to do in a small town but sit in your room and listen to music and...
Andy: Cause havoc.
Gopal: I'm uh, I'm the "other guy" in this story. I grew up in a ecumenical religious community.
Andy (aside): snake cult!
Gopal (laughing): not at all! Its really cool place that I called Yogaville actually and its in Southern Virginia. It was awesome. Gothic rock was like the first thing I got into when I could dress myself and I was able to buy my own music. I was really heavy into The Sisters of Mercy, Severed Heads, it progressed from there. Later on, Andy and I met and I started getting into the older stuff - Alien Sex Fiend, Sex Gang Children, Brilliant - Brilliant I love, Killing Joke...
Andy: They're Brilliant!
Bn: Very profound.
Andy: and we formed a real
Gopal (seriously): Gothic Rock is my love. It's the scene I'm meant to be in. It's my life.
Sheryl (to Andy): One thing I was wondering about from reading your bio, you said something about "The Immortal Chorus" and I was wondering if that was just a piece of music that influenced you or...?
Andy: No, they're a band actually from Tennessee. Have you heard of them? (no) Yeah, nobody has, but what happened was they kind of got me into Goth rock. This club Trax in town- they get tapes all the time from people trying to get gigs there, and a friend of mine happened to be there and the owner was like, 'I'm getting ready to throw out all these tapes, is there anything in here you want?" And he was digging through, (he's a metal head) and found this tape, it looked kind of cool - the cover and stuff, and he played it and was like, "man that sucks!" So he gave it to me and I was like "wow, these guys are good!" I fell in love with them. They're called The Immortal Chorus. I got in touch with the guy on the web years later and I got two CD's, they're well defunct now. But yeah, it meant a lot to me. I remember spending a lot of nights alone with that music.
Bn: that demo rocks.
Andy: Yeah, it's a great demo tape. It's better, in my opinion, than the CD's. They never put the demo tape out on my CD to my knowledge.
Sheryl: There's something that one of you wrote [in your bio], a phrase that says, "the masks they all wear" and a little while later, "then life became a game." On a personal level I found that really intriguing and I wondered if you wanted to extrapolate at all?
Gopal: You walk around, and so many people you talk to present a face. They present an aspect of themselves that... I mean, its so rare to find somebody secure enough within themselves to walk up to you and say hey, 'this is what I am, this is what I'm about, this is who I am,' with no shields up, nothing, no walls. And everybody else is wearing a mask. We live in a college town and you walk down the street and they're all in there doing the same thing in the same headspace. When you talk to them, if you sit down and ask them, "what do you do?" "Oh I go out and get drunk and go to a party." "No, what do you *do*?"
I don't know. I learned that at a very young age. I grew up in a community where I was isolated. The most kids ever in my school was 25. And I was thrown out to this very hill-billy redneck public school and was just mentally beaten for being different, for being...
Gopal: yes, I'm dominating.
Andy: The real truth is they
wouldn't let him out of the gate cause if you go past the gate, there's
a guy with a gun who would pick you off no matter what age you are.
Gopal (seriously): so going there, I learned, that it's hard to find truth. It's hard to find real people out there. And that's again why I love this scene so much. More often then not, the people you meet are honest and are true.
Sheryl: How does life become a game in light of what you just said?
Andy: A game finding out if they're real or not. Meeting, trying to locate people that are honest, people that aren't putting on a front to impress you.
Gopal: Life for me is a game, over all. It's fun. That came out of being lost. We all get lost at some point in our lives. We all have to find out why we're here, what we're about. For me, there is no reason to be here except to be alive. To live life. To have fun. To enjoy yourself. Whether you find enjoyment in sitting there being mopey and dark, which there's definitely fun...(giggling)
Andy: nooo contradiction
Gopal: or uh, going out and playing stupid games like Putt Putt golf or whatever
Bn: Laser Tag
Andy (looks in disgust at Gopal): You just said "Putt Putt Golf" on our damn interview...
Gopal (smiling to Andy): I was saying it for your benefit.
Andy (directly to the mic,
slowly and concisely): Putt Putt SUCKS.
(HUGE round of laughter)
Andy: leave that shit in there about Putt Putt sucking. I think it would be better if they just called it "Putt."
Gopal (trying to get back on track): But, life is meant to be lived. I'm here to have fun, I'm here to enjoy myself. And that means the pain as well as the pleasure, that means everything. I'm going to live life every second as best I can.
Bn: Indulging in all emotions.
Gopal: Yeah, everything. For me, the reason to be here is to experience.
Sheryl (to Bn): That's an interesting thing you just said, "indulging in all emotions," because it seems from your biography that you've seen a hell of a lot of pain.
Bn: I don't really view it as a negative thing. Its part of life. I've grown from it. I'm in my ideal place now. I've got a couple really close friends and we make music together. Except for him. (punches Andy - laughter ensues) I hate him.
(whining) He's the reason for all the pain.
But um...its not like its been... its not like I walk around "oh my life's been so rough." Take it in stride. It can't be bad all the time. Its gotta be good sometime.
Blu - do you think going through pain grounds you more? Like with people in the suburbs whose life is so happy and cheesy all the time, that when something does go wrong, they can't handle it? Do you think that's a basis for this community being more grounded?
Bn: Yes. I mean, its just
more realistic of like...not everything rocks. There's alot of shit...
(general laughter at the phrase "everything rocks").
Andy (in a beavis/surfer
dude voice): Like...chicks ROCK. But when I fall on the steps... nu uh!
That's SO lame!
Bn (*trying* to be serious
again): no, definitely, I feel if you're in touch with all emotions then
you're probably a little more realistic then like what he said - of wearing
the mask where everything's so hunky-dory all the time...
(at this point, MORE contagious laughter erupts upon hearing "hunky-dory")
Gopal (playfully offended): He said "hunky-dory" !
Andy: I'm sorry, we've gone through Putt Putt and hunky-dory.
Sheryl: Do you all write the songs together? Or are those a community effort?
Andy: We just started writing together-as far as um...
Bn: the three of us...
Andy: well, me and Gop formed the band in 96'. So far its been me and Gopal writing lyrics. We don't put our names on individual pieces because this is a BAND. There'll be a piece of music he wrote or a piece of music I wrote but after a couple years I forget who did 'em and it ceases to matter. Because this is *us*, ya know?
Sheryl: the song is a production of the three of you?
Andy: yeah, exactly. And now Bn's in the band and its really solidified what we're doing since I guess February.
We had this punk kid playing guitar for us and he was a great guy. But he wanted to be punk. His new band is great. They're called (leans into mic) "Steel Toe Alarm Clock." Check em out. Pluggin' for Frizzle! Yeah, his name is Frizzle and he's a great guy. We left on very good terms, picked up Bn and things have just been clicking. We just started writing together...
Bn: real good chemistry from the get go.
Sheryl: there seems to be a definitive love and loss type theme in the lyrics...
Andy: oh yeah, definitely. My big thing is that I've always loved reading classic ghost stories.. George Oliver, Robert Ingman, just things like that. I love hauntings...I'm really really moved by ghost stories where...
Gopal: the tragedy...
Andy: yeah, and the subtlety
(a discussion of Gothic Tales from Oxford Press ensues)
Andy: In the first story, "The Fragment," you get three quarters of the way through the story and its like (surprised, chin drop expression)...and the rest of the document is honestly and truly lost, it doesn't exist anymore. It frustrated the crap out of me, I'm like, "uhhh!" He's just going to the tower and its... (momentary pause) umm, Putt Putt golf. (big laughter)
Sheryl (to Blu): I've got to show you that book, you'll love it. (to Andy) But when you said George Oliver...
Andy: You've read him huh? "The Beckoning Fair One"? That's the best story *ever* written.
Bn: according to Andy...
Andy: No! Its in Guinness,
"Best Ever Written."
Blu: You guys are very literate. One of our staff writers, Anthony, reviewed your CD earlier and he was talking about how your lyrics are akin to poetry...how they could stand on their own as prose.
Andy: that's cool. That's important to us.
Sheryl: I actually considered having one of your songs read at my wedding but I decided it was too sad...
Andy: wow! That's very cool..thank you. (chuckling) If you guys get a divorce, have it read there, "Hunny!".... (laugh) Putt Putt Golf...
Blu: do you guys have any other aspirations for writing like a book of prose or novels?
Andy: I've wanted to write a book of short horror stories for a very long time. And one thing I love to do - we haven't done it with Bn yet cause we've been very busy with the band, but Gop and I just go out, find a secluded place and tell ghost stories. Its alot of fun. Its a dying art- you don't hear of alot of people who'll go and just make up stories as they're speaking whether they flop or whatever.
Sheryl: "chautaqua"...its a word for a traveling story teller. Its exactly what you're describing. So there's a word for what you do!
Blu: On your CD, everything on that CD is very deep- about relationships, feelings... but Where Shadows Lie is like a totally fun, just rockin' song. How did that one come about, its so different from the rest?
Gopal: that was one of the early ones...
Andy: that was one of the first ones ever written, it was a lot slower at the time, but you'll see tonight. Our CD is one thing, our live performance is another. We're alot more about energy than dramatics when we play live. We're about kickin' ass...like...
Bn (laughing): rockers!
Andy: yeah, we still do all the stuff and all, but I think a live show needs to have energy. People are paying 5, 10, 20 bucks to see us I wanna make sure they get *every* cent worth of what they're paying.
Gopal: There's alot of goth shows out there - and some people do it really really well, but alot of people out there just stand. And they just stand there, and everybody stands there for about half an hour. But yeah...we're about energy. We're about life. We're about, again, having fun. Our live show is definitely aggressive as opposed to passive.
Sheryl: Would you like to see your fans play a role in your live shows?
Andy: Oh dude yeah...
Gopal: They do!
Andy: We had this kick ass punk kid up in Pittsburgh, who'd just jump up on stage and start skankin' and everything...
Gopal: Dance ya know, dance!
Blu: And chant Putt Putt while you do it...
Bn: I find that playing live - alot of times I give what I get. I come out ready to jam out songs, but when I see the crowd moving alot, it gets me *so* much more into it. Its like, "yeah!" to see them enjoying it as much as I'm enjoying it. Its just such a high, its a rush.
Gopal: People in goth clubs [at concerts] don't dance enough for such a dancey style of music. You go into a dance *night* and everybody's out on the floor...but [with live shows]...
Blu: they kind of like to sit back and listen...
Andy: They won't tonight though.
Blu: So you guys have a few more legs of this tour left?
Andy: Yeah, two more nights after this.
Gopal: Then home.
Andy: I could live on the road for a while. I love it. I don't care- livin' out of the van... Rock N Roll lifestyle.
Blu: So what are the plans for the new CD?
Andy: We got enough songs pretty much already. We're excited because we haven't recorded with Bn yet...
Bn: Well, [we did] a couple songs for compilations.
Sheryl: What compilations?
Andy: We're on Witchcraft, that just came out on Cleopatra. We're on Vampire the Masquerade soundtrack...
Blu: Any parting words from you fine fellas?
Gopal: Spice Girls. There we go. Its said.
The RaZor Skyline http://www.razorskyline.com/index2.html
~interview by Kimberly
Kimberly talks with Bitter Grace's front-man Lapis.
1. How long has the band been in existence?
A good 15 years.
2. What does the name Bitter Grace signify?
The word "grace" is another term for blessing. In my life, my musical talent is a blessing. However the amount of pain and loss that I have endured because of my musical passion, has made this a "bitter blessing" or, a Bitter Grace.
Don't get me wrong I am my music. It's the only reason why I bother living. But even I have to admit that it is at times extremely painful.
3. What makes you attracted to the gothic aesthetic?
I don't think I was attracted to it. I simply did what I truly felt inside. The dark overtones, the tempos that I chose were all about how I was feeling. I got pegged into this genre. I am what I am...
True Goth touches on the sincere honesty of the human condition. The loss and the loneliness of being. Not too many other styles do that. I don't think that there can be a greater truth.
4. Do you think your music coincides with that aesthetic?
Yes, simply because of the sheer honesty that goes into the words and the music.
Now, technically people keep calling us "Old School Goth" which is cool; it has a certain cold charm to it. Ironically, when we first started up the Grace, way back when, we were part of the new Goth sound that was reemerging. But then it shifted away from us... And it left us where we are today. Instead of us concentrating on a techno dance sound/image - we concentrated on the words and the music ... just like true Old School Goth
But whether old or new, the truth of the human condition will always persist.
5. You said onstage tonight that Bitter Grace's album is coming out soon.
Yes, Right now we are in post production with "...Prelude" a CD EP with about 5 or 6 songs. It should be out in about 2 to 3 weeks.
It's a little sampler of what are full length CD "... A Deeper Kiss" is going to be all about. We are very excited. And the CD should be out around February.
6. After the album comes out, what is the band's next project?
More shows, Our next gig is opening for "Gene Loves Jezebel" Dec 11th, down in Virginia Beach. We have a ton of video work that we are trying to nail down. And we are negotiating a tour down in South Africa... Busy busy busy
7. What kind of music can we expect on the new album?
A really diverse sound. Still Bitter Grace at the core - but with some very interesting new influences. Very driving, deep and moving.
8. What kind of expectations do you have for the new album?
I expect to be breaking some new ground. Some of the songs that we are doing are really out there. It's a creative storm. We are not holding anything back this time.
9. Tell me about the new lineup. Will it be permanent?
I hope that they will be. This has to be the best incarnation of Bitter Grace in years.
We have Patrick former "Faith
and Disease" guitarist
We have Scott former "Caledonia" guitarist
We have Chris former "Soviet Sex" bassist
We have Adrian old "Bitter Grace" alumni and former "Figurehead" drummer.
And we have Thiery another "Bitter Grace" alumni.
I'm very excited and extremely lucky to have a team of players of this caliber working with me. The CDs will show it as well.
10. What is Bitter Grace's major musical influences?
Well, We are always growing. So the list goes on and on. But primarily, David Bowie, Sisters, Bauhaus, Lords of The New Church, The Damned and a lot more stuff.
Vocal wise I feel a strong influence from Anne Lennox and David Bowie with a little Sade in there. Yeah, I know...Go figure..
11. Any last words or personal comments you'd like to share
Just that it doesn't matter what you call it. As long as it moves you.
And please know that when words and music touch your soul and move you - Make no mistake, there is absolutely nothing casual about it.
It is perhaps a greater intimacy.
~Interview by Kimberly
After the amazing Halloween concert at Albion in NY, Kimberly got a chance to ask Rogue some questions involving their new CD "The Mystery of the Whisper" and the future outlook for The Cruxshadows.
1.Any plans for a rerelease of your first album, "Night Crawls In"?
Rogue: not just yet, and honestly- probably never in its original state. we were younger...all of the tracks are sort of wet behind the ears, and it is somewhat embarrassing. But there does seem to be interest, and if people want to hear them....who knows....
2.The band has made many lineup changes. Do you think that this one will be permanent?
R: You have to do what works best for the music, for the band and its survival. I have little tolerance for activities or behaviors that threaten the realization our goals. There have actually been a few members that never made it on to any of our discs. Some of them were great, others had their problems. In addition to that....I am a little hard to get used to...and it takes commitment and desire to make the kinds of sacrifices I ask for. I love the current members and I hope they stay, but ultimately its up to them. I don't see any changes any time soon
3. The Cruxshadows have a track on "Resurrection of the Warlock". I never figured you guys for T-Rex fans.
R: well we're not really. But it was an opportunity...and it was a challenge. T-rex influenced our influences- David Bowie, Bauhaus, Duran Duran, psychedelic furs, and so on....so maybe it was like finding roots for our roots or something. (shrugs) I don't know.
4. Your new album is much less angry, much more sad than "Telemetry". Was this a conscious decision on your part? (BTW- "Monument" is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. Everytime I hear it, I have to sit down and cry. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.)
R: sad? really? no, not a decision per say, it was more soul searching and in the end a very personal album for me. Music helps me to get at the epicenter of my strange little world, and I spent a lot of time...well...alone when I put it together. Some of the songs were written during one of the most difficult periods of my life....but quite honestly it is similar in the respect to Telemetry. But I think emotional is a far better description then "sad".
5. What do you think your rising popularity is due to?
R: are we getting more popular? well, i couldn't say...but i suppose the answer would be because people like us more....(smiles)
6. What artists have influenced The Cruxshadows music the most?
R: geez- wow- too many to name. I would say the Romantics and their world-view that personal emotion- love, hate, strength, vulnerability, self sacrifice, sadness, happiness, introspection- is the true worth of humanity, and that we enrich the life experience through understanding and empathising with one another. We are influenced by the alienated individuals who have expressed themselves in poetic, and often dark sensibilities. see....there are a lot of people who fit that criteria.
I have many heroes.
7. Are the bands songs a collaborative effort, or is each part of the song written by individual members?
R: I write the songs. But I can still be open to suggestions from time to time.
8. What is the main message you want to send out to your fans?
R: I want people to feel the heartbeat of the world around them. I want to share perspective and experience and imagination and realities which often can be overlooked, disregarded, or misunderstood. I want to share my mythology, and the depth that gives it life. I want people to dance with the words, thoughts, and feelings that were hammered into each song, motivating their own expressions of similarity. I want to say something worthwhile....
9. Now that the new album is complete, what is the band's next project?
R: well there is much to be done currently in terms of promotion and touring... but I suppose we will start work on another album.
10. What does the title of the album refer to?
R: there are clues left throughout the disc. But it makes reference to a sort of metanatural/supernatural conversation.
11. Much of The Cruxshadows music has references to Egyptian mythology. The band's name though, refers to a Juedeo-Christian symbol.
R: Mythology can be used to inject symbolic meaning. Christian, Greek, Egyptian, whatever...if it can carry my thoughts....its fair game.
12. How has The Cruxshadows music evolved over the years?
R: well, I hope its gotten better....but really....it has gotten more openly personal...and perhaps darker as a result. At the same time it is more open than ever to the idea of cross-genre influence...which hopefully makes it richer and more textured....but that is a subjective assessment.
13. Any final words?
R: not really...eh...how about -go buy our new album "the Mystery of the Whisper"....(laughing) thanks....
The Cruxshadows Label: Dancing Ferret See aslo our Feature on The Cruxshadows at Dragon*Con in the September Archive of StarVox Dragon*Con Pictures
by Jett Black
Southern Gothic, enchanted by sultry vocal elegance and classical strings instrumentation finds no greater form than that of Gropius (named after Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus architectual movemnet). North Texas venues everywhere proudly present Gropius to fans from absolutely *every* walk in life.
Gropius performances feature three sexy goth babes. Melissa Adams, vox. Julie Carpenter, violin & cello. And Amy Boyd, viola. All three Sirens, as sexy and as groovy as they the music they create together, are often found movin' and groovin' at the foot of the stage throughout every performance. Masterfully sawing away on classical strings; violin, cello, and viola, Julie, and Amy join sultry vocalist, Melissa through each exquisitely harmonized masterpiece in modern rock music. Gropius *is* groovy-gothic. It is sexy, seductive and contagious.
North Texas venues everywhere proudly present Gropius to fans, dancing and singing along to the best damned Southern Gothic music available sans any adulteration by electronics, thus far. Go on! Do yourself a favour! Beg Gropius to come play at a venue near you! Texas bands *do* like to travel, too!!
Listen now as three Gropius musicians gather to discuss recent developments and plans for the future.
Melissa Adams - Vocals
Julie Carpenter - Cello/Violin
Amy Boyd - Viola
Richard Sanchez - Percussion
Matthew Koch - Bass
How does Gropius interact with the broad demographic range of audiences attending Gropius performances?
Amy: Suprisingly very well. We have opened for many different Dallas acts such as Hellafied Funk Crew, The Tomorrow People and the late Course of Empire.
I personally like opening for "non-gothic" bands. We get a very good response from these audiences. It's nice when big burly guys in overalls and backwards baseball caps or girls in "Spice Girl" attire come up to me after a show and say, "I normally don't like the whole gothic thing, but you guys are so different, I like it!" They sign the mailing list and come back to our shows.
It's nice to think that we can actually open people's minds to something they have never heard before!
Melissa: Our interaction with the audience depends on their interaction with us. If they get into it, then we feed off of that. When people stand there and stare at us, it's hard not to do the same back.
Rich: On-Stage, Melissa is great. She interacts with the audience in a very cool way. Off-Stage, I know I'm a bit more quiet and reserved. I don't walk around like, "Hi. I'm the drummer for Gropius." None of us are like that. It's not too often someone comes up and goes, "you guys are God!" I would be taken back and really flattered. At our last show, we saw this girl who was singing along to all of the lyrics, and none of us knew her. We all thought that was really fuckin' cool.
Gropius has opened for a variety of well-known Darkwave and Gothic recording artists: Switchblade Symphony, Lycia, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Gitane Demone, Nocturne, The Seraphim... just to name a few. How has this helped increase market exposure for Gropius?
Rich: I would hope a-lot. It's great meeting these people. Mainly, I am concerned with the whole scene in Dallas. It is comparatively small. Like, I recognize a lot of Gothic show regs, but it's great too, I guess, in some way, be a part of that scene. It's still relatively underground and very real, like punk in its earlier years. You still won't hear gothic music on any syndicated Dallas radio stations. It has a lot of room to grow. I like that.
Amy: We have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with these bands!! It is sort of funny but when we first started playing gigs, our fourth or fifth show was opening for Switchblade Symphony at the Impala! Talk about nerve racking! Some people in the DFW area thought we were a national act on tour with SS. Also, as a result of playing with Projekt bands, we were asked to submit a song for an upcoming Projekt compilation!
Melissa: I'm not sure that the act of playing with those bands really boosted our exposure directly. Most of the people that attended those shows had seen us or heard us at some point beforehand. Perhaps they were more willing to accept us after we opened for a bigger act. The main thing that playing with those bands gave us was a better resume. It definitely would have been harder to play The Church if Switchblade Symphony was not a reference.
In terms of broadening the fan base and general support, how ambitious is Gropius now?
Amy: Very!!! Since the release of our first full length CD, we are shopping the market for labels and more out-of-town exposure.
Melissa: Pretty damn ambitious!!! We all like gothic music and the gothic look, for the most part, but we have many other influences that we are trying to incorporate into our sound. We aren't prejudice against who listens to our music. The gothic label often alienates people who would normally listen to our music; therefore, we are trying not to put ourselves over as some major gothic mecca of music. Please don't misunderstand me, we don't pretend not to be gothic but that is not all that we are.
Rich: Well, the most we can do is make good music. Which is the whole point.
I just have faith in the people who come to the shows and buy the albums. I would like to see Gropius take off. I'm in it 'cause it's something original, and music definitely seems to need that. We are playing as much as possible and, hopefully, what we do speaks for itself.
Covet the Senseless, the lead-in track on Songs For Walter, address' what concepts? What is this song about?
Melissa: I was a very unhappy little person when I wrote the lyrics. It really addresses the idea that you don't know what you're missing if you never had it. There are good and bad points to everything. Blind people may never see the flowers, but they'll also never see how grotesque death can be. The horror and beauty in life exists solely in how you look at things. My passion and emotion can be seen as wonderful, but they can be a real pain in the ass, too.
Swich Licour has an altogether more seductive mood and altered pace to its production than other tracks on the full-length cd. How does Swich Licour differ from other tracks on Songs For Walter in terms of how it is performed and recorded?
Amy: Swich Licour is a very interesting song. The string parts were written with a more chamber music style. Really all the instrumental lines, including the drums, stay the same through the entire piece, while the vocal line intertwines the melody though it.
Melissa: Swich Licour does not allow for much improvisation. It is a piece in which every instrument is interwoven very tightly. If one person misses a beat or a note, the whole song is screwed. I think we got that song down in one take, two at the most, and that is really all it took for the other tracks. Swich didn't have many overlaid tracks like the others. We kept the melody simple. I can't speak for anyone else, but when it is performed live, I feel mesmerized almost. It has a liquidity about it that just makes me want to move like water.
Rich: Swich is a really simplistic song in comparison to say, Penitant Roses, or Dawn Of The Sun. Like almost all of Songs For Walter, it was recorded in one take, then we added overdubs, and such efx here and there, but not a whole lot on that song. I always felt Swich Liquor, Vodoo Girl, and Herring are the songs that stick out the most on the album. Of course, we take a different approach every time we write. We are ever growing.
How did Swich Licour initially become a song-candidate for Gropius?
Melissa: I learned to speak Middle English very crudely when I was about thirteen. I loved the way it sounded and I just thought it needed to be a song. When we wrote a song that I was stumped for lyrics too, I found that the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales would fit very well. I speak it properly now since I took a course on Chaucer so it doesn't sound as goofy as it used to.
Since the release of Songs For Walter, what other songs has Gropius been working on?
Rich: Plenty of unreleased songs like Serpents Face, Adagio, Lord Randall, Sequestrian (which we made for a projekt comp), and some older ones like Swamps, and I Got Mine. We play these all at shows.
Amy: We finished a song for an upcoming Projekt compilation, and with the addition of a new bassist we have been working on a lot of new material. The band as a whole is going in a new direction. I can't wait to start on another CD!!
Melissa: We have written around three or four songs, one being Adagio, which has a Middle Eastern feel to it. Unfortunately, after the cd was completed, we didn't have time to write much because we had to find and train a new bass player. That was another fun set-back. There were some older songs that we weren't able to put on the cd that will make the next one.
How can readers purchase a copy of Songs For Walter?
Melissa: I believe readers can do so through our website. Go to http://www.gropius.net, then go to links, then to Um Die Ecke. Under Um Die Ecke there should be an option to purchase. Boy, I hope I'm right.
Rich: Vibes in Denton carries the album. Also, they can contact us over the net at either Skinny.net or Gropius.net, and e-mail us if you want one. Or come to a show and we'll sell you one ourselves.
Amy: They can either come to a show or they can go to: http://www.abbadon.com/umdieecke and order online!
Matt Groening. In the 'thanks' section of the cd insert for this release, you thank Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, Life is Hell, Childhood is Hell, et al... Why?
Amy: That was James', our lovely ex-bassist, idea!
Rich: Why not? We all watch the Simpsons, and now Futurama. We also thank Brack from Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast, and Monty Python. Why? Just because.
Melissa: Groening really has a beautiful sense of irony and sarcasm. He doesn't sugar-coat things, he just points out their absurdities. Of course, I didn't thank Groening so you'll have to get the real answer from the ex-bass player.
Penitent Roses, is it still available? How many copies were originally pressed?
Amy: Penitent Roses actually only had 6 tracks, one was a studio track while the other 5 were live tracks recorded at various clubs around Dallas. There were only 200 copies of this CD they were all numbered and signed by the band!
We are hoping that if we ever get big, these CD will become sort of collector's items. As far as I know, there are no more, we sold out back in October (1998)!
Rich: All the songs, except for Penitant Roses, were recorded live.
Will Gropius release any remixes from these two cds?
Amy: I dont think we have even considered it!
Rich: Don't tempt me.
Melissa: I don't know. Anything is possible. I'd much prefer to concentrate on writing a whole sleugh of material than messing with one songs original composition. I imagine remixes will come when we hit a massive writer's block. There is a silly techno version of Dawn of the Sun but don't bother looking for it anywhere.
Where and how did Gropius form?
Rich: Gropius originally formed in El Paso and was basically a complete different line up. The senior member is Melissa she's been here the longest. Back then, there were no strings just bass, drums, and a singer.
Melissa: The drummer asked me to audition for vocals since he had heard me audition for another band that fell through. I auditioned for the bass player, a guitarist and the drummer and was accepted. We soon ousted the guitarist; he just didn't work for us.
Amy: I didn't join the band until Feb of '97. Julie (violinist) and I met in Kharma Cafe in Denton one after noon. She was talking to someone I happened to be sitting next to and we all just fell into a conversation. She noticed my viola case and asked if I would be interested in playing in a band. The rest, as they say, is history!
How did Gropius end up re-locating to the Denton/Dallas area?
Melissa: The bass player and I got engaged for one thing and wanted to get the hell out of El Paso; but the main reason was that my parents decided to move back and I lived with them at the time. The bass player followed and we eventually convinced the drummer to follow suit.
Do any Gropius members 'moonlight' on musical side-projects?
Amy: Julie and Lee do...
Melissa: Julie, the violin player, is doing a side project with Lee, our manager, and some other people. The line-up has changed, so I don't exactly who all is in the band.
Rich: Julie is in a side project with our ex-bassist James called Die Atom Kinder. Amy is in the UNT (University of North Texas) orchestra. And me, I do a lot of Techno at home.
Will Gropius tour this year in support of Songs For Walter?
Melissa: God, I hope so. We are playing in Houston on the 5th of June. Hopefully, we'll have more chances to play outside the Metroplex and Texas altogether.
What would you like to accomplish through Gropius before the end of the millennium?
Rich: A paid, out-of-state gig.
Amy: To get signed, and tour!!
Melissa: I want to be playing outside of Texas. A record contract would be even better. Maybe it will happen in 6 months Who knows?.
What contributes to the lyrical development of tracks on Songs For Walter?
Melissa: Some of the lyrics were written when the first bass player and I were having troubles. Without him to piss me off, I've had to deal with writing about my faults and insecurities. That's kind of embarassing. There are lyrics that are pure nonsense or tell a story that has no relevence to me, though. My lyrics usually come from very low periods in my life. When I feel the worst, I write the best.
How will Gropius advance from it's local supportive fan base into the great beyond?
Amy: Getting the word out there, WAY out there, hopefully within the next year!!
Rich: I guess word-of-mouth is the best, and most honest, advertising. I just hope for more, and more exposure. We will keep concetrating on making good music.
Melissa: Luckily, we have friends all over the U.S. They better help us out, Damn it!! I'm thinking of claiming that I had sex with Ken Starr and possibly get some press from it. TeeHee.
What personal activities do you, or would you like to include into your leisure time?
Amy: Um... leisure time. Isn't that that thing where you get to do stuff you like?? I can't seem to remember when I had that, or the funds to do the things that I like! If I had the time, I would like to work on some different projects, expand my viola-playing horizons a bit. It would be good to get some different influences. I would also love to have horses again. I rode/trained horses for over half of my life, I really miss it!
Melissa: I don't really have much time for leisure activities with work and the band; though the band is the leisure activity I've always wanted. I've been interested in martial arts lately, though I don't have the money to do anything about it. The main thing I've wanted to embelish is learning more about Eastern culture. It's terribly fascinating.
Rich: I write music constantly. I play several instruments. I guess, if I were in a relationship, I'd do that. But I'm single, and good that way. I also do Kung Fu, meditation, and I'm a nature boy.
What would you like to share with readers today?
Gropius is hard work, and well worth it. We have not been stagnant since
we began. We're always exploring different techniques and realms of expression.
If there is anything that someone wants to hear us do differently; just
wait, we're getting to it.
Gropius http://www.Gropius.netGropius@necronom.com management: http://www.abbadon.com/umdieecke
The first Gropius fan site: http://www.skinny.net
One year after their CD " Blessed Deviant, " Killing Miranda are preparing to release their new 2 track EP " Teenage Vampire" dedicated to the gothic and alternative lifestyle. Vassago sits down to discuss what lays in store for them with Rikky and Alien Dave.
To begin this interview could you give us a short briefing about the band's history?
Rikky: Killing Miranda is kind of an accident. Basically we seem to be drawn together by fate as much as anything else and we're like a big ugly oil slick across the calm waters of British Goth Music. The rest of UK Goth I thought seemed to be trying to make this nice polite little in-joke of a scene and I wanted to basically fuck that up the arse. So I started writing songs that I thought would screw with people's heads.
AD: Yeah, and now you're all stuck with us, getting bigger and sicker by the day!
Killing Miranda released the first EP "Burn Sinister" as 1-man project. Was it hard for you to find other members for the band or was it your passion that lead you to release this 4-track ep without any assistance?
Rikky: I wanted good musicians but I also wanted people who could laugh at the basic absurdity of Rock Music and who understood the art of controversy. As a unit we don't court the fashions of underground music, we mess around with them. It was hard to get the right guys but I did so there you go…
In February 1999 it was time for "Blessed Deviant" to be released. This album earned a lot of good criticisms. Was it something you were expecting to happen or a surprise for you?
Rikky. It'll be years before I can answer that question without a lot of internal conflict. Perhaps we could have made a more polished record at the time but not without compromising the vision we had for it. We wanted to make something unique that fucked with your ears and your mind and we pretty much succeeded. Hopefully with our next release we can show the quality we're now capable of while still challenging ourselves stylistically.
AD: Really I think that with something like this there are going to the people that really love it (and send us nice letters etc...) and there are going to be those that are very critical and really not like it. I don't think there are very many people that think it's average, and that was the intention. We feel its much better to produce something that gets a reaction either way than something that is just mediocre and gets ignored and produces no response whatsoever.
KM sounds different comparing "Burn Sinister" with "Blessed Deviant". Was a major aspect of this, the new members that joined the band or something you were planning to do anyway?
Rikky: I honestly don't know or, indeed, really care. The songs were all quite old on both releases and there was no conscious effort to change beyond the fact that we get bored doing the same style more that a couple of times. I understand how some bands think it's important to have a sound and give people what they expect release after release but sadly I was born with this "artistic integrity" thing. Sue me.
AD: Yeah, basically it's a new product. There's no point putting out an album exactly like the EP because people already have the EP. If you're a car manufacturer or something you don't put your new car on the market and have it exactly the same as the old model, you make modifications and tweaks here and there and hopefully each new version is a step forward from the last.
All the criticisms about how Killing Miranda sounds, failed. How do you define KM's sound?
AD: Define the KM sound? Why? Why put boundaries on your creativity and limit what you are "allowed" to do. The whole point is that there is no definitive KM sound. You just wait, the next single is in the style of 1950's big band jazz. Honest.
Rikky: It makes you think. You can't vacuum or masturbate listening to our music- it demands your attention and you may love that or hate it. It depends how much you like to masturbate I guess which is why I maintain that all the critics who don't get our music are Wankers.
"Teenage Vampire" is on its way. It will be in the music stores in February 2000. What can we expect from this new release? If you can, name me some of the tracks and tell a few things about them.
Rikky: It's just a single. Two Tracks. We're very excited about it though as it's far more representative of our live sound than the other CD's and will show people what we can really do. We figure if we can sell 2000 copies of Blessed Deviant in 6 months we can shift 20,000 of this in 6 weeks. It's that much better.
AD: It also gives a bit of a hint of what to expect from the next album.
The new EP is, in someway, dedicated to how someone feels, being on the fringes of society. Why the use the word "Vampire" for these people. You want to point something specific?
Rikky: "Teenage Vampire" is kind of code for gothic and alternative people generally. We wanted to get back in touch with the raw emotions of teenage rebellion on that song- to get that feeling of "I'm gonna live forever". It's therefore more of a "teenage" than a "Vampire " thing. Still. I wanted to be a Vampire when I was 18 and now I want to be 18 again. It's a vicious circle.
You have said that :" Some people take life way too seriously and are too pretentious to ever laugh at themselves". Can you analyze these thoughts ?
Rikky. Well I always preferred bands like the Cramps and the Misfits to many "Goth" bands because they were dark but did it more tongue in cheek. I think the Goth scene has lost touch a little with it's sense of fun and become more of a pantomime than anything else. The humour is very camp as opposed to Ironic these days. We need to get back to being outrageous and sexy and dangerous and the key to that is self-knowledge. You need that glint in your eye, that fire in your stride and you need to be cool.
AD: Lets face it, if you can't laugh at yourself occasionally you're going to get very upset when you find other people laughing at you, and to be honest, looking as messed up as we often tend to do, some people are gonna laugh. Of course most just usually run the other way MWUHAHAHA!
In the song "Pray" ( one of my favorite KM songs) the starting words are: < I don't believe in god but I am afraid of him>. Is this to do with something specific or is it just because most people believe that the world will end soon and afraid of the judgment?
Rikky. I think Pray is about how god and technology have become one now. Technology has moved ahead of humanity. You can find discarded computers on rubbish dumps with the plugs cut away because people can reuse the plugs. What this means is that much technology has almost religious symbolism to us- we pray to it like stone age man prayed to his carved fertility statues but just as surely we can't fully comprehend how our prayers get answered.
Any tour plans after the new release??
Rikky. We're playing mainly abroad from the UK. We're doing a few dates in the United States in May and we hope shortly to be able to confirm tours in Finland and Germany and possibly a festival appearance in Belgium.
AD: Playing live is one of the things we enjoy most about all of this, getting out there and getting in peoples faces. We'll never be away for long - we get withdrawal.
You have played the song "ALICE" from Sisters Of Mercy in live concerts several times. Is this because you admire this group and if you can , name me some artists you admire.
Rikky. Well we only play a brief snatch of "Alice" in the middle of our own song "Taking Over" because we felt it fitted a bit. As for artists I admire at the moment it's gotta be David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Pixies and Skinny Puppy but tomorrow it could be different again…
AD: I really admire anyone who sticks to their guns, works hard and doesn't come across like some fake. As Rikky already said, David Bowie is a total star and is still fantastic, Iggy Pop is another that gets the Peter Pan seal of approval. Others that spring to mind right now are Queen, Nirvana, Black Sabbath, T-Rex, I could go on for days here….
Ok guys. Thanks both of you for your time. Hope to see you soon.
Contact: Killing MirandaKMHQ 29 Juniper Court Grove Road, Hounslow, TW3 3 TJ
by: Nightbreed Recordings 2nd Floor, 177 Wollaton Street Nottingham, NG1
5GE, UK Interview with Lycia
~by ::CyBeRiNa FLuX::
Lycia as a band has been in the forefront of the gothic music scene for nearly a decade now. Recently, they have begun a variety of new projects as well as rekindling the old. StarVox is pleased to present to you conversations with Lycia's Tara Vanflower regarding their past, their present, and their future.
CF: Lycia has recorded at a surprising rate of nearly 1 CD a year since the debut in 1989. That must amount to a lot of time in the studio writing, recording, and mastering. What do you fill your time with when not working on music?
TV: Free time!?! What's that!?! Basically our life consists of work. On the rare occasion we get to do something other than work, we go for coffee or dinner with friends. This is actually a problem for us because it's not good for either of our health to being running at this rate. (Mike more so than me, he handles the brunt of the load) More or less something will have to change soon. In other words.....You can count on there NOT being one release per year for much longer.
CF: Tara joined Lycia in 1995 after sending a fan mail to Mike. Tell us the story.
TV: Well, a friend of mine sent me a dub of Ionia and I immediately fell in love with it. I wrote Sam at PROJEKT for Mike's address and we began corresponding. After a few months of writing and swapping tapes and such, he asked me to come out and sing on a few tracks. (Which appeared on The Burning Circle...) and then I joined the live band. Basically we've just never been apart since. We were married three years ago!
CF: Mike's had some recent battles with diabetes. That's a pretty traumatic life experience for those involved. How would you say that experience has effected the music you are making now, and will make in your future?
TV: Everything affects the music we do. Every experience is in some way or another incorporated into our work... whether intentional or subconscious. All that we've gone through the past few years has definitely caused us to step back a bit and ask "is this all worth it?" The answer is still unresolved.
CF: During that period of ill health, you nearly dissolved Lycia. What rekindled that flame and inspired you to keep from burying the band forever?
TV: Mike's newfound health. There is always this desire to create. It would be a lot easier if that desire would go away actually! But it doesn't.....and so we continue on struggling. It seems easy for someone from the "outside" to look in and think "what's the big deal....just keep working". But it's very different being on this side. Basically everything we do is criticized from top to bottom. Either people give us thumbs up, or thumbs down. Everything we do we do passionately, and to have what you've poured your heart into be reduced to sales figures and whether or not "the kiddies like it" is very frustrating. Factoring in that we make very little money at this and all the extra work it puts on our shoulders, and adding in the fact that mike's health is somewhat unstable, it makes us question ourselves all the time. We aren't sure what the future holds for any of this......but right now we are going full steam ahead. I guess I gave you more of an answer than you actually asked! Heehee
CF: You two have been keeping yourselves quite busy! In addition to beginning work on a new Lycia release, you have a side project called Estraya that also has a release due in January, and Tara has recently completed a solo album. Why have you decided to branch off in so many different directions?
TV: We have so many ideas we have to branch out. There's a lot of music coursing through these two brains......and thusly we have to do something with it! Like I said....it would be easier if it would go away!!!! But at the same time, life would be pretty pointless. I guess we're trapped!!! Haha
CF: Tell us about what we can expect on the upcoming Estraya album.
TV: Well, it's very minimal. Very slow, swirly and very, very personal to us. I think it's most comparable to parts of A Day in the Stark Corner. It means a lot to us because it is our first effort independent of PROJEKT. Mike took all the photos and designed it completely. So not only is the music personal, but the design as well. Samples can be heard at http://www.mp3.com (listed under ESTRAYA)
CF: In Lycia, you've had a lot of band members come, go, and come back for more. On the new album you are working on, you have two former members returning. What do you feel this will do for the album?
TV: Well, it just breathes new life...or rather.....OLD life back into the band. Giving the album a more "band" feel to it. It's always interesting to work with other people because they bring in ideas you wouldn't have thought of. Plus, Mike really wanted the release to have a sound comparable to the very first Lycia stuff.....and John Fair is the only one capable of capturing those drum programs right!
CF: You both have been through a lot in your personal lives as well as professionally. What do you do to unwind, and what helps you gain inspiration?
TV: Again......unwind??? What's that!! Well, I do a lot of praying. I feel like talking to God and getting things off my shoulders really helps me to focus and let go of things I have no control over. Mike likes to walk and meditate. We try to go out to the woods and hike as often as we can....which isn't nearly as often as it should be. We also find creating is a way of letting things go, and documenting things, like a diary of sorts. But when all the "business" crap gets involved it sometimes takes what you created and makes it alienating.
CF: Whether or not they are influences on your work, what are some musicians, artists, authors, and other people that have most greatly touched you?
TV: This list could go on for days......so I'll give a brief list: As far as music goes: Swans, The Cure, Killing Joke, Faith and the Muse, Switchblade Symphony, Steve Roach, Eleven Shadows, Daisy Chainsaw, Bjork, WIRE, Bauhaus, Legendary Pink Dots, Yellowman, Echoe and the Bunnymen, Death In June etc etc etc Authors: Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Anne Rice, the Bible etc etc etc As far as people go, I find a lot of qualities in pretty much everyone I know that inspire me to one degree or another.
CF: Thank you so much Tara. StarVox really appreciates you taking time out to speak with us. Good luck in all of your current and future endeavors!
Lycia Estraya Tara
Listen to Estraya on mp3.com
Lyciummusic firstname.lastname@example.org P.O. Box 1263 Kent, OH, 44240-1263
Projekt Recordsquestion@projekt.com P.O. Box 166155 Chicago, IL 60616
The RaZor Skyline
~by Sheryl (additional commentary and photos by Blu)
The Razor Skyline visited us here in Atlanta with Bela Morte on the Hallowed Sky Tour. Blu and I take a seat with them on the back porch of Dottie's while the band light up their cigarettes…
Blu: So how has the tour been going so far?
The Gun: It's been interesting. It's cool to play period, but like when we played in Pittsburgh, it was a huge - there was like 500 people there.
Karen: It's gone from like, the best show we ever did, to the worst show in four years!
The Gun: It was a disaster. The monitors went out-
Karen: Yeah, a complete disaster - no monitors on stage- and the soundman didn't know how to do sound-
Sheryl: Was it the venue?
Onyx: Well, the promoter wasn't so nice, either…he would just look at us and go, "well, deal with it."
Karen: Let's just say it wasn't one of the highlights of the tour.
Onyx: The equipment went down and I was playing drums just from pure memory… I don't know how I even got through it. Usually you follow a sequencer, but I just made up a lot of it myself.
Sheryl: Are you locally a Seattle band?
The Gun: Well, Karen lives in Seattle, and Onyx and I live in San Francisco. We started the band in Seattle, then I moved to San Francisco.
Sheryl: So you existed during the grunge rock rage of Seattle. What was that like?
The Gun: We were part of the Northwest Electro-Industrial Coalition, with bands like Noxious Motion, and Kill Switch Click and SMP, bands like that. That was pretty cool because grunge was the thing, and we kind of stuck together and formed our own little niche, there, so to speak. We would all go to each other's shows, which were small. A lot of bands from the NEC got signed, SMP got signed, Kill Switch Click got signed, and we're signed, so that's cool.
Sheryl: So how has COP International been for you?
The Gun: It goes up and down. They were really cool with our first CD. With this CD, I think that hey are going through tough times, like Battery who was their main band just left, so -
Karen: They're hanging on, but they've been having some financial problems, just like a lot of the small labels.
The Gun: Lots of labels have gone under, so it's a testimony to their savvy that they're still around, even.
Karen: And their commitment, too. A lot of the small labels have just died…
Sheryl: Your fan base seems to have increased a lot over the past few years, especially being on comps-
The Gun: We have a song on Diva X Machina 1, and 2, and we're on the Hex files comp.
Sheryl: But you had a different singer at the time that a couple of those songs were released on to comps.
Karen: Charlotte Shai.
Sheryl: So do you have songs on comps that are with Karen?
The Gun: The one on Hex Files is Karen-
Karen: The Diva 1 is me - Charlotte was on Diva 2, and Silicon Warfare.
Sheryl: Do you think that your fan base has increased over the past couple of years?
The Gun: It seems like it, just from our website and the email we get from it - we get about four or five emails a week from all over the world
Karen: It's been a steady progression, since we started. It's been slowly building up through word of mouth-
The Gun: We did kind of get some momentum going then we slowed down for a bit, now we're regaining the momentum that we had
Karen: Because in 96-97, we did Convergence 3, there was a lot of momentum going on, then I left, and Cory [The Gun] went to San Francisco, and then Charlotte was in and that wasn't working, so there was this big, year and a half-
Sheryl: You also had some legal problems, too-
The Gun: That didn't slow us down too much, that was a minor glitch in the big scheme of things. Our CD was recorded, we were still Journal of Trauma, the artwork was all done in the theme of Journal of Trauma, and we were all ready to go to print, that's when we got the email from the American Association of Trauma Surgeons, they were going to sue us-
Blu: I'd like to know how they even found out about it, though
Onyx: They were trying to get a website called that.
The Gun: They have a website now called Journal of Trauma-
Onyx: But when someone would do a search for Journal of Trauma, we showed up!
Karen: So they have obviously done a search and went, 'oh, who's this,' so it was interesting, because I actually did a lot of research on trademark law-
The Gun: We were ready to go to court with them-
Karen: We could have if we would have had money and an attorney. We were really not in trademark violation because it has to do with the product and if it's related. And obviously a medical journal and a rock band are completely not related. But obviously they havemore money and more legal power.
Onyx: It would have been long and drawn out.
Karen: And it was two weeks till our CD was going to be coming out. It was ready to go. Luckily it got caught before it went to print…and the one compromise that they did do, if they can be considered cool at all, was they did let us keep the CD title for Journal of Trauma, because that would lessen the confusion a little bit, so they let us use it for that one time thing.
Sheryl: How did you end up choosing the new name?
The Gun: We had to brainstorm for a couple of weeks, and we'd call each other and say, "how about this?" I actually came up with it. I used to live in Seattle, and Seattle has this really cool skyline, they call it the emerald city, because it looks like the Emerald City. I noticed when I would go to the clubs downtown, that when I would look up and see the stars, that you couldn't see them, all that you could see were the buildings, and the wires, and the streetlights and you might catch a piece of it here and there, and that's how I came up with the name Razor Skyline.
Sheryl: Regarding Convergence, that must have been exciting for you-
Karen: That was cool. We were just like, 'Wow! Convergence! Great!'
The Gun: Yeah that was cool, there were a lot of people there…
Blu: Usually the Convergence crowds are very energetic and have a lot of audience participation…
Karen: It was a good crowd.
The Gun: The venue was kind of lame…people were cool about it so…
Karen: People were cool, it was a supportive crowd. We started in Seattle where until you've been around for a long time, people don't-
The Gun: if it's a local band, people are like, 'well, they're local, who cares.'
Sheryl: Do you have a problem with being labeled as a Goth band?
The Gun: Not really, I mean, when we signed to COP, they were an industrial label, and they were all adamant that we were an industrial band. I said, "I think we're gothic…but I'm not sure…"
Karen: But if you sign us, we'll be industrial!
The Gun: Then when they saw the results of the CD coming out, and the magazines that reviewed it and the pictures and everything, now they're all behind it.
Karen: I don't mind being labeled as gothic, and from what we've seen, people besides Goth people like it, and that would be the ideal. To retain the gothic audience which is where we came from, and to be able to branch out so that a lot of people can enjoy the music.
The Gun: In Indianapolis they put us on the alternative radio station…
Karen: And after the Pittsburgh show, these metal guys came up afterwards, and were like, "you guys rock!" It was funny-
The Gun: Seattle's like that, it's a really metal town. You've always got all these metal heads, going, "dude, man…"
Karen: "Queensryche!"-It's a complement though, so it's fine.
Sheryl: So you want your fan base to branch out-
Karen: Yes, we would like it to branch out. I mean, we all like that music, and that's kind of where we all come from but Corey's got a lot of other roots, like wave, and I'm like, old old punk, and we listen to so many different things ourselves, that we hope other people besides Goth will like it.
Sheryl: I did notice that you all shared a lot of the same influences in music-
Onyx: It was really strange, we all sent our bios to each other, and were surprised by all of the common bands…
Sheryl: Do you feel like you have a message or a point that you want people to get when listening to your music?
Karen: I want people to enjoy the music. I don't think that there is a focal point - like, the Razor Skyline stands - for: you know, like we're adamant about this issue and that. Lyrically, certain things come out, I have a lot of concerns about the environment, and politics, women's issues, and I think that comes out lyrically. One of the things I've noticed is that a lot of gothic bands don't really get in to that too much, it is more of the poetic…but with my punk back ground, I tend to write a little bit more- -
Onyx: It depends on the mood we're in. Her lyrics change all the time from talking about religion to the environment to 'me' - also spousal abuse -
Karen: There are different things I'm looking at and studying and I'm constantly changing learning new things and reading…
Onyx: Like Criminal Art, she wrote that song in like two hours! We were trying to record something that wasn't working and we started talking about past relationships we had and jerks we had gone out with, and the next day she had this song about spousal abuse written.
Sheryl: What are the local scenes like in Seattle and San Francisco?