- The Empire Hideous have attitude, which makes all the difference...
The most important difference." ~ Mick Mercer,
In the December
issue of StarVox, we were proud to be one of the first publications
to interview Myke Hideous about his decision to resurrect The Empire Hideous
- a band whose 13 year legacy and departure from the scene in 1997, had
left some fans on the verge of despair. Add to that a growing mass of Misfit
fans who were curious to hear and see what the former front man's other
band was all about and you end up with quite a demand for The Empire's
return. On January 19th, Myke's promise to resurrect the band for his fans
became a reality and despite a raging snowstorm, The Empire Hideous performed
to a full house and managed to win over new fans proving that after 4 years
of silence, the band hadn't lost its power. Then again on February 16th,
The Empire Hideous took main stage at Dancing Ferret's DRACULA'S BALL in
Philly. And then it began: a buzz... a trickling and then a flood of inquiring
emails, questions on how to get merchandise, DJ's wanting promos. People
were getting curious.
Surprisingly, what started out as a simple promise to fulfill a few shows to fans in the Northeast, has now pushed the band on a course with destiny. Fans are demanding more - more recordings, more shows, even a tour. Most recently, Myke has informed me that a publisher has finally picked up his autobiography which should be ready for release some time this fall. Where will all of this take them? That remains to be seen but if the buzz on this band isn't enough to convince you that you need to check them out; the outspoken, frank, and sincere nature of Myke Hideous definitely makes him an interesting character study and something you don't too often find these days: the true heart of a musician who's willing to pour their blood into their band and see it through to the end.
Myke talked to me just after the first show in New York about what it was like playing live after such a long break, details on their video, To Build An Empire as well as indulging in some fun personal trivia...
Blu: So your show in New York was on January 19th - how'd it go? (despite the horrible weather)…
Myke: Well, the weather did have some effect. We got half as many people as we expected, but despite the weather, we had a good turn out, considering… I was running around like a freak all day. I get nervous before a show sometimes - I become a real bitch, and that night was even worse than usual because of the weather. Plus it was the first show I had done with Hideous in four years, so I was even more of a bitch. But the turnout was good - the promoters were happy, everyone was happy, except for me - I sat there and sulked all day…
Myke: I just wanted to go home and sleep after the show. During the gig I was really annoyed. I heard a lot of technical things that bugged me but no one else would have noticed. I absolutely hated the show up until the day I saw the video tape a week later. We didn't do that bad!
Blu: Did you have a lot of old friends and musicians turn up for your show?
Myke: None of them showed up…
Blu: They didn't ?!?! Get out of here. Like the guys from Middle Pillar?
Myke: oh well yeah, they were there, of course they were there - James, KD and Jen. I saw a few people who climbed out the woodwork. There were people that came from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, NY state and South Jersey. Those people fucking RULE! They braved the weather. We were there at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, so we were there before the snow really got bad and when we left at 4am, it had already melted. You know, up here, we get a little bit of snow and no body remembers how to drive.
Blu: How long was your set?
Myke: We played for an hour and then did a 5-minute encore.
Blu: Did anything odd or strange happen during the show?
Myke: One really nice thing that took place during the show was when we played "Dead Season" which is a cut off the Victim Destroys Assailant CD and I noticed roses were being thrown up at me… rose petals. We actually did the song differently than it's recorded on the CD. It's an acoustic song but I changed it for the live show and added bass and drums. It sounded really nice - I was happy with it. At the end of the song people started throwing roses onstage, I was getting hit in the head - petals were flying down like it was raining on me and I thought to myself "wow, this is cool."
Other than that, I don't think anything weird really happened. It was very tight on stage. We had a guest keyboardist named Kimberly from a band called Bow Ever Down and she played keyboards for us, so there was six people onstage and it was TIGHT. We couldn't move. I stood in the same place the whole night with my leg up on top of the wedge monitor. Everyone was asking me if I was going to do any theatrics for the show? Things like sticking needles in my head or get whipped. But since we really didn't have any room there was no way I could execute anything of that caliber. I was barely able to expand my lungs to take a breath!
Blu: What was one of your favorite songs to play live?
Myke: That night?
Myke: I think "You Follow" was done really well, and I think "God and I" turned out really well. I don't know if I'd say they were my favorites but they turned out really good. Watching the video, you can see what came out good and what didn't. "This Dead Season" was good too.
Blu: Who taped it - a friend? Mark?
Myke: Yeah the same guy who shot To Build An Empire, Mark Steiner.
Blu: Do you think you might use that in the future for a new video?
Blu: Did you get any feedback from the show?
Myke: Without sounding pompous and to be quite honest, every person that came up to me said how much they loved it. They said it was the best show they had ever seen…
Myke: …My response to them was, "you're full of shit, it was a horrible show…"
Blu: …cause you walked away thinking it was bad right?
Myke: Yeah, I walked off stage and said, "I'm not even coming out." But I did eventually. I rested for about a half hour and then every body was bitching and moaning at me, "Go out and see your public!" I did see a lot of new faces in the audience though.
Blu… people who had probably never seen your show before…
Myke: Yeah, and every person who spoke to me afterwards did nothing but commend us about how good the show was… I kept saying, "thanks a lot…but you're crazy!"
Blu: Yeah, take your compliments! Did you sell merchandise that night?
Myke: Yeah, we sold everything. I brought along not only The Empire Hideous stuff but SS99 stuff as well and that sold. We sold the Myke Hideous action figures made by artist Ronnie Yost from CA.
Blu: I know people who want one of those…
Myke: Well, there's only two left of the SpY99 ones. Ronnie did a remarkable job on the Misfits Myke figure. He placed it in a hand made coffin and it said Misfits across the front. Then he sent me one he did of SpY99 from SS99 and it was fully packaged in plastic with a gun, a knife, a pin…
Blu: (laughter)…you with your accessories!
LIFESTYLES OF THE INFAMOUS
Blu: Speaking of merchandise, I talked to James from Middle Pillar the other day. He was laughing and said he was surprised that in the first interview we did, that you didn't mention the SpySociety99 underwear…
Myke: Oh, the thong! Absolutely! That's one of our best selling items. It's the hottest thing. I've seen it on girls and it looks fantastic!
Blu: It's a really nice logo…and you've got ties and shirts…
Myke: Anytime I have to wear a tie I wear that one including my visits to funerals and weddings! Our bass player from SS99 (Agent Que) designed it. He designed our website as well, along with the stickers and flyers. He came up with that logo and I said, "This is great, we've got to stick with it" and we've used it on everything we put out….And the thong underwear, oh my god it's a great seller.
Blu: Yeah, I think James is really tickled they sell thongs for you at Middle Pillar.
Myke: It's a good item!
Blu: James said, he went to your studio for a party once and he was amazed! He said it was a museum and there was all kinds of crazy stuff all over the place - a six foot killer rabbit. He said that next time you do a video; you should do a "Lifestyles of the poor and infamous" and do a tour of your place…
Myke: (Laughs) Actually, going way back to when I was thirteen, I started to collect a lot of really interesting stuff. Now I'm in my 30's and I'm a friggin' pack rat. A lot of artists will collect a lot of stuff - I have skulls from animals and people, I have a human skeleton, human hands and feet, a shellacked mummified dead cat, fetuses in jars, mannequins dressed as rabbits and doctors. Its home with it's gargoyles and tombstones and religious artifacts like Jesus Christ and St Joseph, paintings I've painted hanging on the walls, tables with stuff attached to them that I've made - a lot of shit. I'm looking around right now… I've got a 6' cross that I got from the Christian Youth Center across the street that they were throwing out, tacked to it is a skeleton…
Blu: So we're talking about some pretty large, substantial pieces…
Myke: …Yeah huge. I have one mannequin that's dressed up in an outfits which is a surgical scrub covered in blood that I used at the last Hideous show when I was pierced with the needles back in '98. I have another one wearing a mad scientist's long white coat and the other one wearing a gorilla suit with a rabbit's head and alien hands. It's holding baby Jesus.
Blu: I hope you never
have to move! That's a lot of stuff.
TO BUILD AN EMPIRE: THE VIDEO
Blu: So I have questions about your video To Build An Empire. I was mostly surprised that you got Bryin from Loretta's Doll…
Myke: …to do it? To do anything.
Blu: yup, when I think of him, he seems so serious. I don't normally think of him making fun of himself or doing anything humorous so the fact that you got him to answer the door dressed up in that shirt with a towel on his head and to do that skit was just great.
Myke: I think Bryin, and this is only my opinion, respects me a lot - as I respect him. There was a point in the early 90's that I was dealing with a bad reputation. I had a bad falling out with a bass player and a guitar player and there were a lot of rumors spread and it went back to bands like Requiem in White. There was all this shit being said and it really gave me a bad rep in NYC. We couldn't get any gigs. Nobody wanted to book us because it was being circulated that I was a prick, among other things. So what happened was, CWHK from Sunshine Blind told me to contact Bryin from Suffering Clown who was doing a night at CBGBs every year called A Night of Misanthropy. It was a huge gothic event that would sell out and he'd have about five or six bands play. I had called him, we spoke, I sent a press kit to him. He got back to me and said, "to be quite honest with you, I've heard you're a real asshole." And I said, "where are you hearing this from?" and he told me and I explained the whole situation to him and he understood. I went out of my way to prove myself to him and for that show and the people as well, and I came away being educated on lots of things like that.
Blu: It's too bad when scene politics play into stuff like that - local bands should support each other more than anything else. Anyway, I think the scene with Loretta's Doll was one of the funniest things in that video… other than you stealing the bra from Sunshine Blind's laundry line.
Myke: Yeah, that was a good one.
Blu: Who were the guys in the house that slid down the fire pole?
Myke: That was a band who is no longer together called Where I Wake Warm. As far as I know, they're no longer around. We met up with them around the early to mid 90's; we played a couple of shows with them and they just disappeared.
Blu: There were quite a few good bands in that video - Sunshine Blind, The New Creatures…
Myke: …Loretta's Doll,
a band at the time called Glue Gun. Remember the chick who was yelling
at me in Yugoslavian? She was in a band called Glue Gun - that's Noli and
she's now in a band called Novakseen.
Blu: No, really?
Myke: He had really long hair and he says, "ok, so you're playing a show at midnight and these guys show up at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and basically live at the club for the day."
Blu: That was him?! Wow... never would have known…
Myke: Also there was another guy at that same location with long hair that looked almost like Corey Gorey - that was Joe Pla. Joe and I started SpySociety99 together.
Blu: Voltaire was in there introducing you guys.
Myke: Yep, that was when Voltaire and I had just met. In fact, he was opening for me back then. We played our first show at Connie Island High together and we got to talking. I wouldn't say we're best friends, but we're close friends and when we see each other we do nothing but act like 9 year olds and talk about boobs and sex and girls and who's gay and who we want to have sex with. We're like two class clowns together. Seriously though, I had admired him so much for his work as an artist and as a musician and the spark of intelligence and wit that comes out in his music, I wanted to get to know him better.
Blu: He's vastly talented as an artist and I think the scene really has no clue sometimes just how talented he is. He's pretty modest about the things he's accomplished.
Myke: His artistic talent is really amazing.
Blu: Back to the video - what was the deal with that diner in the video?
Myke: There's a popular diner out here called the Tick Tock - which was recently featured on that TV series called The Tick. It's just a diner we go to sometimes to hang out and get great food. It was a Sunday afternoon in the video and we were actually heading to North Jersey to shoot footage for "Power the Empire" and "To Build an Empire." We stopped because we wanted to get something to eat. We just walked in the door about 2 feet and said, "How long is the wait" and they said, "45 minutes" and we said, "goodbye!" And that's the extent of the Tick Tock diner in the video.
Blu: Just a comment on the video - I enjoyed the concert shots - especially "Parasite's Bible."
Myke: Thank you. Yeah, the "Parasite's Bible" video footage was a whole show shot at the Pyramid (NYC) with Glue Gun and the Brickbats. In particular that gig was supposed to be the last show as Empire Hideous. I was going change the name. I had venders involved and everything for that whole event. It was a packed night. It was dubbed the Blasphemous Opera. The whole name change/last show came about because I was having a problem with my drummer at the time. He was playing with a band that he said he was going to quit in order to play with Empire Hideous full time, but he turned out to be a mercenary and he'd get paid to do the gigs with this other band. I was disappointed because he was living with us at the time and I wanted him 100%. We had a big fight. We also had an ethereal/ambient side-project together called Pnuema. I quit the night we had the fight because he wanted to play for the other band. I got fed up and I said, "I'm going to break up the band." It was really hard dealing with him at that time. He had a lot of problems.
Another interesting thing that happened at that show, I was getting ready to go on and a good friend of mine, (Brian Lytle who used to whip me on stage) bumps into me with this big box and he said, "Myke, you gotta see this! You gotta see this!"
"Wait a minute," I thought to myself. I know Brian always has something up his sleeve, so I brought him back down to the dressing room and I open up this box. There's a crowd of people standing around me. It was a skinned cow's head - eyeballs, tongue and all. Just imagine it with no flesh - all red and bloody and veiny…
(mutual sounds of disgust)
Blu: It was good concert
footage. It really does give people like me who don't get to see you guys
live, a good sense of what your show is like.
ASSORTED GORY DETAILS
Blu: In one of the other interviews you did recently, you mentioned that last year you went into the hospital for an operation?
Myke: Actually, it wasn't that major, but it was a pretty serious ordeal. I'm still kicking myself in the ass - I had my own surgery video taped and I accidentally taped over it. I'm so pissed about that. In December of last year, I was diagnosed with having a nerve tumor, which usually occur on hands or feet, but I had this one on my chest and had to have it surgically removed. The beautiful thing about the whole incident was the fact that a personal friend of mine Doktor John, not only performed the operation but allowed me to bring my own video camera in and have an assistant shoot while I was under. I was going to be the first kid on my block with my own surgery on video. Like an idiot though, I taped over it with a Mr. Monster show. Damn! I could KILL J-Sin!!
Blu: Got any gruesome scars?
Myke: Oh, I have plenty of scars. This one was only 2 inches long. I have others that are about 15 inches longs, a 7 inch scar on my back, a 3 inch scar on my left forearm next to 3 other 2 inch scars that were self inflicted.
Blu: Here's something I dug up about you that you never mentioned. (Myke laughs) You're a DJ?
Myke: Yeah, you didn't know that? I thought every one knew that.
Blu: well no, I don't live in the Northeast, maybe everyone up there does. I feel so left out! I thought that was cool as shit.
Myke: Every Friday night I DJ at an alternative/gothic club called QXT's in Newark. I'm downstairs in the "Lair." I spin gothic/punk, the usual. I also DJ on Wednesday nights - I have my own night called Infestation at Connections. I book bands, I DJ all kinds of music - everything from lounge, deathrock, swing, pyschobilly, punkrock, industrial, techno, goth to straight hardcore…everything.
Myke: I used to work for a music newspaper. And when I did, over the course of 5 years, I acquired about 3,000 CDs and I said to myself about a year ago, " I really should put these CDs to use, I've got so many of them..." I've got CDs I haven't even opened yet. Before I started DJ'ing I literally had to take about two weeks to listen to what I had to figure out what I was going to play. I had stuff I didn't even know I had. That's how I started DJ'ing.
Honestly, I prefer my Wednesday nights because I get to do anything I want. Like on Friday nights they're pretty strict about what they want to hear. They want goth. (in a whiny voice): "Can you play 'Temple of Love' by the Sisters of Mercy?" "Can you play 'This Corrosion' by the Sisters of Mercy?" "Can you play 'Lucretia' by the Sisters of Mercy?"
Oh my god, can you guys just step out of the Sisters of Mercy room for just one second? I can play the Pixies and then throw on Public Image Ltd and nobody will come out and dance because people are so uneducated about music and then I can put on "Temple of Love" and boom, seventy-five-thousand people show up on the dance floor. It can be the year 3000 and they'll still be dancing to "Temple of Love."
Blu: I find it really ironic too that Andrew hates the goth scene so much and yet people insist on requesting it and dancing to it. There's so many other bands out there that are better and more appreciative. If you were to look at any documentary about rock through the ages they certainly won't mention Sisters of Mercy but in the goth scene they're huge.
Myke: I think Andrew really needs to see the light. The whole goth thing with him - he really needs to lighten up. (in a British accent): "We are a Rock n' roll band!" You're a fucking goth band and you know it. And you should be proud of it.
Blu: So anyway, I was just impressed to find you had yet one more talent…
Myke: Oh boy…well I keep myself busy with a lot of things honestly. I do the DJ thing to make a little extra cash. Don't get me wrong, I do love spinning music, I just wish some of the people in the clubs really understood… you know what it is? I'm older, and a lot of the people coming out to the clubs - they're 21, even up to 25, and they don't know who the Pixies are, or early PIL or Lords of the New Church. Some of these kids aren't educated on who these great bands were (or still are) and they don't dance to it. And it really annoys me. If I danced, I'd be out there on the floor dancing to some of the music I play…
Blu: …so you don't?
Blu: You mentioned this before, not in the last interview, but to me, you have a cartoon collection?
Myke: Oh yeah, I have a very, very impressive cartoon collection. I've been recording cartoons on videotape, since 1985. I started out recording Bugs Bunny and Looney Toons and it just progressed from there. I have 31 6-hour long volumes of videotape of Looney Toons, Bugs Bunny, Pink Panther, Cow and Chicken, Walt Disney. Then I have stuff like The Simpson's - every episode ever; I have Duckman, the Critic, Futurama, Family Guy, The PJ's, Angry Beavers, Real Monsters, all the Munsters episodes.
Blu: That amazes me…the amount of time devoted to that…
Myke: yeah, like I said, I started in '85 and still, to this day, record them every week. I should sell them on Ebay, I could make a killing - they're all edited, all the commercials are cut out.
Blu: Tell me 3 things you want to do before you die.
Myke: Good question. One of them is I'd like to own a house in Arizona.
Blu: Really? Do you have an affinity for the desert?
Myke: Um… I like solitude. I want to be out in the fresh air, where it's clean, away from the city. I'd like to spend more time in Nordic countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway. When I was there with the Misfits I was blown away - it was so beautiful! And the women there are beautiful… and the men too! And #3, I'd like to see my music career rise to a higher level of success. Success in that is like immortality to me.
And as always... the tape ran out before we were done talking but that seemed as appropriate an ending as any. I'd like to personally thank Myke for taking the time to indulge my every question and for attention to details behind the scene. Much gratitude to Janet for the kick ass live shots. And perhaps we'll do this again sometime soon to keep you guys updated on the latest Empire Hideous plans to take over the world. Rumor has it plans are in the works for a West Coast Tour this fall... Stay tuned boys and girls...
For info as it happens, keep
an eye on the Official
Empire Hideous Website.
Empire Hideous: www.empirehideous.com
All Empire Hideous Merchandise
is available from Middle Pillar
Bronx Casket Company
The Empire Hideous
Only Time Will Tell and 12"EP
(out of print)
~reviewed by Blu
I don't ever complain that StarVox isn't a paying gig. Of course it would be nice if I could quit my day job, but the satisfaction of putting out something you believe in more than makes up for it in my opinion. Of course, the occasional perks are nice too. Such is the case in this review. Only Time Will Tell (1994), The Empire Hideous's first CD, is out of print and no longer available. After hearing the song "Parasite's Bible" on the video To Build An Empire, I was desperate to have a copy of it. Myke came to my rescue and sent me a CDR which included all the tracks from Only Time Will Tell as well as five tracks from an early 12" EP (1990) -- also out of print.
Only Time Will Tell has a great selection of songs and some fans ::cough cough::: feel it might make an excellent re-release - possibly with remastered tracks with the new Hideous lineup. Besides "Power the Empire" and "Kissing Your Poison" (which appear on Victim Destroys Assailant and I'm Dead, You're Dead, We're All Dead), all of these songs still sound very current and could stand some new club play but are sadly not readily available to the public.
"To Thread A Needle" is classic Empire Hideous - steady bass line, chiming, beautiful guitar melodies and Myke's emotional vocals which murmur delicately at first and then build to a crescendo. The tension escalates higher and the guitar becomes harsher - distortion grinding in, urgent and forceful.
Track 3, "Impious" is a real gem and a collector's item for any Rasputina fans as it features Julia Kent playing a mournful cello line - long, sad, drawn out notes as religious chanting goes on in the background setting an almost renaissance tone before a sinister bass lines slithers in with ghostly guitar screams. Myke's vocals are at first spoken word; then morph into something more like an instrument themselves as they hover and waiver an exotic melody. Although it starts out slower in tempo, it picks up speed halfway through as the drum beats gets more lively and Myke preaches on like a dark bishop. I've tested this one myself - it's quite fun to dance to - it lends itself to alot of serpentine and seductive moves (hint hint to the DJs - the chicks will dig this one and will look good dancing to it).
"November" - a song that got much praise in the video, To Build An Empire, by fans who connected closely with it in an almost spiritual manner, is a beautiful piece full of bitter sweet sentiment. It is one of those songs you immediately hum along with before you even know the words. It's full of longing and sadness, imagery of the fall and the ending of the seasons and lives, harvest and Death. Stunning.
The Autumn horizon wakes me from my sleep.And finally, rounding out Only Time WIll Tell, is "Parasite's Bible" - the song that started my obsessive desire to have a copy of this CD in the first place. The chiming guitar lines contrast against a contemplative bass line - serious and pensive and Myke sings of darkly religious toned crimes and hardships. The chorus is desperately driving, awe-inspiring, kicking full of energy and you're forced to move with it - lips pressed tight in determination. Something about this song begs me to dance -- deathrock thrash lost in it completely. It's mesmerizing and powerful all at once. Out of darkness comes a sort of peace in the release of it. In a related note, I've been listening obsessively to alot of Fields of Nephilim lately whose influence I see more and more in Empire Hideous material. I recently re-read what Mick Mercer wrote about FoN in his first book, Gothic Rock Black Book. He said, "...and in amongst the ground glass savagery, smoke, fried pain ... there are moments of spellbinding beauty. Odd patterns, shapes pulled out of potentially nauseous tendrils, then tamed and re-shaped." And I immediately thought of these songs... I couldn't write a more perfect description of The Empire Hideous.
The five songs on the 12" EP may be the most varied of all Empire Hideous material I've heard. Infact, I think they have the potential to reach an even wider audience with some of these songs. If you've read the first interview I did with Myke in our December issue, you'll remember him commenting on how their first guitarist was much more of a metal man than the rest of the band, and here, in a few cases, you'll see proof of that as there are some hair-band style guitar solos. Not bad mind you, just not what you'd find in Empire Hideous songs these days. Still, I think its a great opportunity for even traditional rock fans to plug into this band.
"Devious Child" is harsh and very punk in it's tempo and sound - Myke's early influences definitely showing in this - a blend of The Damned, The Misfits and the Lords of the New Church. You could definitely build a mosh pitt with this one. Then "Tower of Empty Hallways" does a complete 180 and goes psychedelic rock (almost Doors-style) as Myke's vocals are mere haunting whispers splayed against acoustic strumming. It's a beautiful song. "The Flies" takes us back to the rock/punk edge with hair metal power chords dominating the chorus while "Letters from Puppets" has claim to my favorite song off this collection. Much like "Parasite's Bible" in tone but not as driving in tempo - it's a more melodic piece with a great guitar part and really displays Myke's incredible vocal talent more than any of the songs on this EP. Interestingly enough, even though these songs are great, you can definitely notice the development in his vocal stylings in later recordings compared to this one. He seems to be holding back a bit here - afraid to let go, too in control of his voice and not reaching its' full potential. I think that's why the idea of hearing some of these re-recorded now would be completely fascinating. And finally, "Wild Wife" is a hilarious song - totally meant to be one of those drunken, bashing, party-toned brawls. It actually would be a perfect fit in a psychobilly night club. It reminds me alot of Eight Ball Grifter and Demon Speed. There's even a great B-Movie scream near the end of it as Myke sings "She's Alive!". Perfect for all those flame-flanked, hell razing, zombie lovers. I probably need to take my copy of this to Ghoul School next week...
Only Time Will Tell
Empire Hideous 12" EP
Bronx Casket Company