There's a new freak show in town that combines old fashioned rock n' roll with elements of surf, new electronic music and techniques, dance beats, darker gothic sentiments, thought provoking lyrics that push the buttons of the right-wing status quo and creative live entertainment the likes of which I can almost guarantee you've never seen before. Their highly unusual and varied style prevents them from being labeled in any genre you'd try to place them into - they're not gothic, or rock, or metal, or even shock rock. Perhaps the nearest to a label as I could give them is going to be a description I picked up off their web page - "The Munsters meet Batman with Quentin Tarantino Directing." While their live show is all about entertainment, energy, outrageous props (their onstage antics sometimes remind me of Gwar) and showmanship - there's some serious issues being delt with amongst the fun. They've played venues with bands who encompass everything from hardcore rock to gothic. Its all about having fun folks. Ladies, gentlemen and freaks of all ages (well ok...you *should* be 18+ <cough>), sit back and be prepard to b entertained. I give you Gamma and The Blessed Virgin Larry...
SV: When and how did the idea for The Blessed Virgin Larry come about?
Gamma: In Early 1999! I had just come out of a signed band, (They were on several major labels-MTV- So on). Disillusioned and pissed at everyone from the Phony Baloney Band types to the "the corporate machines" in the "Business". I decided I was going to do things my way and fuck the rest!
SV: What's behind the name? Is it a simple play on words or is there a story?
Gamma: We had about 50 names written down and was asking friends to pick their favorites , or add a name! A close friend to the band (Josh Sanders from Seattle), came up with TBVL. From that point on, TBVL was the name everyone fell in love with.
SV: You've done all your own cover art so far with graphics and photographic manipulation. What do you use and how to do you get the ideas for them?
Gamma: I am the biggest Macintosh freak! I use allot of programs, Photoshop w/many plugins, Black Box, Logo Motion, Painter, Poser, Premiere, Avid, plus many more. You see, I am not just another party gurl in a pretty skirt, I am always playing and working on something computer related. As a matter of fact, I fix all of my friend's computers when they crash or need upgrading. I love it.
SV: Have you had any formal artistic training or are you self-taught? Do you feel that by doing your own artwork on the covers that you can further push the ideas you're trying to convey?
Gamma: No training, I am self taught. I use to work for different music magazines and I learned as I went. Dick éBoy is the real artist. He creates with his hands. Painting / Drawing / Sculpting / Welding, he is really quite talented! And he has recently sold a few of his more killer works! I just do what I do, and if it is cool, I use it somewhere. We also even take submissions from anyone who emails us artwork.
SV: Your music and videos seem to be a fun meld between comedic characters but serious musicianship. You're self described as, "The Munsters meet Batman with Quentin Tarantino Directing" and "Creepy/Surf/Rock/Techno/" Is this band all about fun and games or is there a serious message somewhere in there that you're trying to convey?
Gamma: We have recently been categorized as the Grandfathers of - "Psycho SurfGoth"! And I really love this new Genre. Except we have only been together a little over a year, so how can we be Grandfathers? Hee hee.
Our serious message is, "Believe in yourself an You will be Strong"! We are labeled a Satanic group because of our attacks on organized religion. But..that is far from the truth. I do not even believe is satan.
SV: Speaking of Quentin - what's some of your favorite movies (any genre)?
Gamma: Train Spotting / Reservoir Dogs ! Anything that makes you cringe.
SV: Each band member has a rather descriptive name. What role does Gamma play in the band as a character and is there a significance to the name?
Gamma: Gamma is the Ring Master of the biggest circus in town!
SV: How about the rest of the band?
Gamma: Dick éBoy has been Dick éBoy since he started in the business! Cid Ronik was sitting on Alantis Morrisettes Tour Bus making fun of her song Ironic, when he changed the words to I am Cid Ronik and it stuck!
SV: Much like Charles from Seraphim Shock - you are very outspoken about the potential dangers of organized religion almost brainwashing people. You've studied various religions and learned your facts. There's two pages of your website donated to your thoughts on this in which you state that contrary to what the uninformed public likes to think, TBVL is not at all about Satanism -rather, the freedom to think for yourself (as Satanism itself would be considered a dangerous organized religion). You've suffered a lot of criticism from religious organizations for what they believe you're preaching - would you like to address that here? Is it safe to say that you purposefully push some of their buttons?
Gamma: It is my pleasure! I believe that jesus was a great man, but not the son of gOD! He had great vision and teachings, but actually they are Buddhist teachings that were around for 500 years before his birth. When Jesus was a lad, he went to India to learn, and learn he did. These are sometimes called the lost years in which he disappeared from when he was 14, not to return until his late 20's. Which is still all good, Buddhists are the real deal. About 70 years after we killed jesus, christianity and what we now call Catholics were formed and then separated as two different religions. We have killed millions of people ever since in his name. The bible was written by Man not a gOD! What I really hate is religions that preach "You'll go to hell if your not of our denomination"! FUCK YOU. Self-righteous pukes make me sick. They need to smoke a big phatty and chill the fuck out and worry about real issues, like fucking Aids, and Cancer. Homeless issues, Fucking pisses me right the fuck off! Anyway you can read more of thoughts at our main site. www.audiogalaxy.com/bands/bvl
SV: Would you like to share any personal stories you've had dealing with organized religions? (any stories from when you were growing up?)
Dick éBoy: " Yes! I was forced into to attend church no less than 3 times weekly for as long as I could remember. On top of this I attended Fundamental Baptist schools until I left for college. I cant even begin to explain the mental trauma this still causes me to this day. Iíve recently renewed contact with several childhood friends and guess what, they all had similar experiences and problems as a direct result of their strict religious upbringings. I think we really need to open our eyes and see how destructive christianity is in any form. Just look at the ridiculous problems it causes in our government. We canít make any sensible decisions to better our country because it might upset the fucking christians! Well I could go off for hours on end so Iíll shut up before I sound like a self-righteous fanatic myself!
SV: You have four projects out right now ("CANYOUSAYTANIC", "2" , "Leviticus" and "Nineteen Ninety Nine") / and a fifth one (The Jesus Conspiracy") in the works. Have these all been self produced? If so...that's a pretty impressive presentation for a band still making it on their own. Is it safe to say that you're into this for the long haul rather than to make a quick buck?
Gamma: Definitely! We are not trying to be millionaires right now, we would rather have the public listening to our Music! We give every song away on the internet for free. If a fan wants to buy the CD and support the group then great, but if a fan is broke or does not have a credit card, they can still get our stuff! I produce everything myself, even though I have allot of experience, it is not for the reason that I am so great or anything, but because we can't afford a Trent Reznor type producer to come in and spread his magic!
SV: How did you end up getting Christian Moriarity (MTV/PLAYBOY) to direct your video "I'm Killing You"?
Gamma: Christian and I go way back, and he is a bigger mac freak than me, so we get along like gang-busters. When he first saw my picture, (as Gamma), he did not know that it was me in the makeup. He had called the TBVL voice mail to set something up, which I had a friend call him and set up a meeting. We I walked through the door and was introduced, he about fell over in his chair. It was agreat moment, the rest is history.
SV: Any memorable moments you'd like to share about the filming of your first video?
Gamma: I learned that it costs allot of damn cash to shoot a decent video. When the film is $250 a second, and the camera is $900 a day, and the location is $1,500 for 8 hours, processing was $1,000 alone. We had racked up $10,000 very quickly. The highlight of the video actually never got shot, because of financial reasons mostly. The preacher was suppose to be miniaturized as a marionette, and Gamma was suppose to operating the strings. It just didn't happen. But in our opinion, the video still kicks ass!
SV: What does the motto "Believe and Be Strong" refer to?
Gamma: Allot of Idiots think it is a cult reference, or a religious statement! Nope, None of the above! It means "Believe In Yourself and You Will Be Strong!" Don't believe in a bunch of bullshit, believe in yourself. You are what matters!
SV: Very important question: boxers or briefs?
Gamma: This a very good question, and we have been wanting to address this issue for some time! "Our band does not believe in the restrictions of under garments! We all believe in personal freedom!"
SV: What can one expect from your live show? Is there a big production effort involved?
Gamma: Giant / Huge / Big / Gigantic / Hard / Hairy / Large / Phat / Loud / Fast / Thick /Nasty / Fun / Messy! The answer is a definite Yes! We have some special suppress planed for our upcoming show in Dallas, that will become part of every show through the end of the Tour.
interview with Claire Voyant
It's been five years since Victoria Lloyd, Chris Ross and Ben Fargen founded Claire Voyant, five years in which their love for music has earned them a dedicated following and already 2 excellent full-lengths of beautiful goth-pop and swirling ethereal to their name. The California trio signed to Accession Records last year and slowly obtained an impressive collective of industrial and eletronica artists to remix songs off of both their albums. Time Again is out now and none other than bands such as Covenant, haujobb, VNV Nation, Assemblage 23, Front 242 and handful of other talented musicians appear on it, giving their own interpretations of Claire Voyant's unearthly sound. Starvox conducted an interview with the band via email to find out about their opinion on the final result of this remix album, their passion for music and their plans for the future...
Starvox: After a fairly long silence you have now returned with an impressive remix album, a signing in Europe and the prospect of the rerelease of your previous albums. Was there an actual break for you in the time that has elapsed between Time and the Maiden and Time Again or have you spend it preparing for this "comeback"?
I don't know if I would call this a comeback...Time and the Maiden was
released in November of 1998 and now the remix album was released about
4-5 months later than we expected, but there have been no "official" breaks
or planned comebacks. This was an idea we had that just took a lot longer
than we originally thought, but I think it is worth the wait.
Starvox: The line-up of Time Again is nothing short of impressive, with some of the industrial and goth scene's biggest names like haujobb, VNV Nation, Covenant and even the legendary Front 242 contributing to the album. How does it feel to find your work retouched by these artists? And what are your thoughts on the final outcome of the remixes?
Victoria: I loved the idea of these greats touching our music. It seemed extreme, in a good way. I am so grateful to Colin and Adrian for introducing us to these great bands. I am also very proud of our "not so famous"(yet) remixer's contributions. I think they hold up to the big boys!
Starvox: What is your part in the production of a remix album such as this, apart from, of course, the credit for having written the original tracks?
Victoria: Not a whole lot. *s*
Starvox: Your first two releases, the selftitled debut and Time and the Maiden, are now out of print and heavily sought after. How do you look back on these albums? Would you have taken a different approach if you were to start all over again?
Victoria: Like any artist, I think I look back at these albums far to critically. When I turn off my mind and just listen to them, I am very proud of them. They are wonderful snapshots of where we were at the time of their recording. I can't say that we could have taken a different approach to any of our work...it is very spontaneous and mystical how we work together...
Starvox: Have you been working on completely new material as well? If so, when would a new full-length possibly see the light of day?
Victoria: We will have a new release very early next year. February/march time frame. We have a whole album of songs in various phases. We have had a long time to just create.
Starvox: Chris & Ben: As far as any of the newly written material goes, how would you define your current sound? Are you still venturing further into the electronic field? On the same note, do remixes like the ones on Time Again influence your own style of songwriting?
Ben: I think the new material we are working on is just an extension of what we have always tried to do.....write strong songs that encompass interesting parts and relate well with the vocal arrangement. The big challenge for us on the next album is going to be blending the things we love about electronic music with a more organic sound that we have yet to explore. I know we are all excited about the new material were writing and recording. In one way or another I think we are always being influenced by are surroundings...... I'm sure the remix album will be another facet of that.
Starvox: Victoria: Your beautiful poetic lyrics have a very timeless feel to them, seemingly focusing more on the natural elements than factors such as time and place. Is this a subconscious result or do you make a point out of trying to achieve this? How would you describe the feel and sense of them yourself?
Victoria: I try and create a new atmosphere that is inspired by our music...I want the song to evoke images and be emotive without tying the song down to a , say, relationship song or "story telling" I like a loose interpretative style. I appreciate a well told story in lyrics, but I also think that sometimes the story can overpower the music or detract from the "feel". I am working on evolving some structure and intent more for the next album. As I mature as a lyricist I find that I have things I want to say through our music that will be more direct and very personal. "Her" and "Blinking Tears" are the songs dearest to me for they are very personal prose. They scratched the surface for me.
Starvox: When time does seem to have a place in your lyrics it often brings forth images of (Greek) mythology. Is this a particular interest of yours?
Victoria: Time is a recurring theme for me. When I look at all of the songs( or they are pointed out to me by pesky bandmates:) that reference "time" I laugh! I am obsessed with time. My favorite quote from Emily Dickinson is "That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet" With this in mind, I think that all spectrums of emotion should be relished and explored. Every artist is searching to describe, sculpt, paint,compose " moments in time" Greek Mythology was the inspiration for "Iolite" and is an endless fascination for me. It will reappear, I am sure in many albums to come:)
Starvox: Chris&Ben: At what point do you bring Victoria's lyrics into play when composing a song? Or do you usually go by a more "jam session" style way of creating your music, inspiring vocals by music and vice versa?
Ben: I think it really depends on the mood and vibe of the idea we are working on. Sometimes Victoria's vocals are written after the first few chords are put together and sometimes Chris and I will need to get more of a structure down before the vocals can be finalized. I would have to say no two songs are written the same way. We all feed of each others energy no matter how the song is put together.
Starvox: With a seemingly endless horde of bands occupying each genre of music, and more waiting in line, how do you prevent your music from turning into a mere product and keep it a "heart and soul" accomplishment?
Ben:I think it all comes down to creating what you want to without compromising. If you stay true to the original vision of your ideas.........you really can't go wrong.
Victoria: I truly believe that there are enough music enthusiasts in the world for virtually all bands. We would not become a product because we are not competing with anyone, and commercial success is not our only goal. We don't compromise ourselves because then you start chasing fame for the wrong reasons, opening insecurities and losing the gift and pleasure of making music. There are tons of people with, "a better voice, a better look or a better "whatever". There is only one Claire Voyant. If our hearts are in it , it will be as unique as we are.
Starvox: For many bands labels represent a necessary evil nowadays. They're a vehicle to distribution and publicity, but at times also seem to dictate the sound and image of their artists. How does Accession Records, your new European label, compare to this rather negative opinion on labels? And is the search for a capable US label still an ongoing one or do you have something concrete in the works?
Victoria: Accession records has been wonderful to us. They do not possess the negative qualities of most labels. Adrian works very hard for his bands and is an extraordinary person. We wish we would have found him years ago. The US label search has been crazy and with a lot of despair. We are hoping that Accession will get US distribution.
Starvox: This summer you will be travelling to Europe to attend the German Wave Gotik Treffen. What kind of a live show will you have in store for the audience there and is there a chance of a nationwide tour throughout the US as well? [Note: this interview took place right before the WGT.]
Victoria: Sadly, we will not be doing this show. We are hoping that we will be performing at Eurorock in August. Since we are in California, it is very expensive to travel to Europe.
Starvox: Victoria: You will be working together with Daniel Myer (haujobb) on a new project. Could you share a little more info on this?
Victoria: The project I believe will go under the name "HMB" This collaboration has been great! Most of the tracks are finished and the album will be released on Flatline Records in Europe sometime this Summer. It is a strange concoction of "industrial-pop" I am very proud of the project and should have some sound samples on our web site soon:)
Starvox: It's hard to imagine that you could be even busier than you already are, but does Claire Voyant or any of you individually have anything else in the works as far as music goes?
Victoria: The next CV album is top priority now...we are enjoying this time to focus!
Starvox:On behalf of Starvox I'd like to thank each of you for taking the time to answer these questions and give us a bit more insight into the artists behind Claire Voyant. The best of luck for all your future endeavors, and if there's anything you'd like to say in closing, now's your chance.
Victoria: Spay or neuter your animals!!!!
Email Claire Voyant: firstname.lastname@example.org
Official website: http://www.clairevoyant.com/
Official label site: http://www.accession-records.com
~interview by Vassago
SV: To begin this interview, I would like to tell me few thing about you and Charles, how you two met and how you decide the creation of E6D.
E6D: Well to start out Charles and I had a previous band before hand, but to go back even further, it all started when I used to work at sound warehouse. Oh god I hated that job! Anyway I was working the help desk when this guy comes up to me and asked me if we had some Celtic music and I showed him the way, I asked him if he was in a band, and he said yes He had a new industrial band that him and a friend put together. Well I told him that I played Keyboards and also Drums. He was "cool we need a Electronic drummer." But he wanted to check with the other 2 members before he could say anything .. well to make a long story short, I never got his number, but that night I went to a club with my friend Lisa that night, I just so happen to go to this club I never went to.. But as it turns out all of them where there dancing to MCL- New York, Every since then we have made history together..
E6D: Yes, We have worked very hard for this, different sound, it is alot of music jammed into one. Charles and I have seen many sides to music and listen to alot of music. We wanted to come up with a completely different sound, we really wanted to do what we like to best, and that is write from the heart for many years we have just followed the trends of everything else but, we didn't feel like we were being real to ourselves and our fans. We don't liked to be classified as anything cause we strive to use different techniques on each and every song. But there will always be those people that want to fit you on that next bandwagon. But we will see ..I want the music to be unpredictable, like a really good film.
SV: It is difficult to name your music even though I could name it Cold wave. Tell me a few things about how difficult is to experiment with all these sounds and instruments.
E6D: Not very hard at all, when you like what comes from it, but it does get challenging when, people expect the impossible. Reason being, we write so much music, we have all these songs and yet we never feel satisfied. Its like a drug to me. I have to keep writing and writing or I feel like I am withering away. Cold wave naaa.... We are very happy happy people. Its just society that brings us to write Dark and cruel things. Not all of our songs are about Killing and the destruction of the planet. He he ... No seriously .... I love life, and good bottle of Scotch.
SV: You have a new member is in the band - Airyk Waterz- how did you decide to add a new member in the band. Was it for the studio work or his assistance for live shows?
E6D: this guy is great... He is a permanent member of E6D ... He is exactly what we have been looking for ...Very Talented and creative guitar player. He will be playing with us on the next Demo or album if we get signed before hand. And also the show... Airyk is a good guy, and he has already written 3 new songs for the band and, Damn they're good. This guy is going to take all the way. He adds what he like to call The big brass BALLS to the band ... Just that extra punch that was needed in some of the songs, and also very good acoustic, be looking for some of that on the next Demo.
SV: So you believe that he'll give a new face to E6D and that his influence will affects the groups sounds? You mentioned something about acoustic partsÖ
E6d: Yes acoustic, Indeed!!! We strive to be who we are, and we want to stand out from all of the other bands. Anything goes with us even acoustic, every member in this band is very much into David Bowie and all of the Glam Superstars, we love ballads and just really seeing what the hell where going to next. Im really thinking about maybe even incorporating alot more live instruments on the next Demo.. with electronic. But Airyk has a sensitive side to him just like Charles and I .. And we really admire that he can show that side of himself.. What I mean is .. well we do have some pretty Elton Johnish and Queen Rock Opera type Ballads that will probly be on the next Demo.. I was kind of nervous to put them on the first demo... But I feel that people really do appreciate the sound that we have... and has given us that extra push to give all to world..
SV: Has any record label shown interest for E6D?
E6D: Well to be honest we haven't had time to shop this stuff around. But we do know for a fact that we our demo songs are on 2 compilations. But every one we have had contact with has said nothing bad about us All the write ups about us have been great. So I guess that we are doing something right. I thinking it wont be much longer before someone see the potential in us. All we can do is keep on trying.
SV: What are your dreams for E6D to be in few years under the line?
E6D: Well this is hard cause I am speaking for the band .. But I do know that all 3 of us want nothing more than to be remember by the people who we have touched with the music..to say that we made a difference in someone's life.
SV: You have written song about revenge, Serial killers. What are the sources that influences you and how do you translate them to songs? >
E6D: Well that is just the tip of the Ice when it comes to the music. We didn't really intend for all of the song to have that correlation with each other. I believe that it was the stories that we acquired.The influences come from drinking each other under the table at a bar. We will sit there and come up with the most interesting idea that comes to mind and ponder over it, the research it then write it ... if that makes and sense.
SV: In the song Crash 2000 you talk about the millennium and generally the future on earth. Why so pessimistic about the new millennium? Do you believe that changes will take place and how fatal will they be for human kind.
E6D: Crash 2000, gee. That song is funky. It grooves with a bizzare ending. I love it, It is so true - the words are so true to our life. Every one will change, they have to you cant stop change. This world will eat you alive if you sit back and relax. And that is what we mean - trends and fashion flows out with the old every thing goes ..this world is on a path of destruction.. if we don't realize the damage we're doing we're gone. As "Cloning things and slicing jeans everyone stop-Cause were so FUCKED UP" And tere you have it ... That's basically it. Peace would be a start.
SV: Forever haunting is talking about a ghost who came back to revenge his death. There is a similar movie known to all of us as THE CROW. Was this move the inspiration for this song and do you believe that someone can return from the land of the dead to revenge his/her death?
E6D: Well this song is about a ghost, not the crow. But if one imagination thinks that when listening to the song, sure. The song does relate alot to THE CROW. But it was taken from a ghost story that we once read in a book about this early English Man who was poisoned by his wife. He was not , lets say the most innocent of people. His wife wanted him dead. So had him killed. Unlike the crow he was killed for no reason he was just there at the wrong time. This man was hated by everyone, and was a bastard, and was part of royalty so it wasn't that easy to kill him. But when she did he was pissed, and came back to revenge his death and eventually drives her insane.
SV: Tell me few things for the new demo that you just released. New songs on it?( titles-description)
1. Those thing you never Do Very ambient, creepy, erotic, with hard Fu*king Bass
2. Crash 2000 Dance-y, BASS Heavy, And what the hell Were we thinking on the ending? It goes a little nuts. Good song
3. Fallen AngelCreepy, Rock Electro Trance, Hostile lyrics, Cars influence on Solo, Hooky
4. Forever Haunted grooven-boinky boink Music, Electro ambient rock, Haunting Lyrics, Very Trippy To
5. Those things you never do - medley short, just works off the first song, about the time to "off" yourself type medley. Bonus Tracks........
6. Silent Keys Good beat, bass-y, sad, and the first song we ever recorded
7. Fallen Angel Re-mix, Cool samples, Creepy, Really pound that melody in your brain
Thanks for everything. Hope to hear from you in the future.
~interviewed by Michael Otley
photos by David Goebel ("ivygothboy" ) at C6 in Seattle
It is a special thing when two individuals come together to create art. I see Eric Cooley and Dara Rosenwasser as two very different individuals with a shared vision. They began working together in Faith & Disease back in 1992 and have kept the artistic flame burning strong. Their music is often described as dark and ethereal due possibly in part to Eric's dark album cover art and flyers. Their fifth album entitled Lamentations: A Collection is comprised of tracks mostly from their previous releases, and more or less sums up their first nine years together and with various past members and guest musicians. Faith & Disease is one of those bands that gets stronger with each release, becoming more refined and continueing without hesitation into their unknown musical destiny. I hear their music becoming more and more confident as well as organic, so it is with great expectation we await their next studio session and sixth album release.
SV: Let's start with your most recent release, Lamentations, which is a collection of songs from your previous releases. What prompted this collection CD?
Lamentations seemed to us to be a fitting end to not only
fulfilling our final contractual obligations to Ivy, but to archive for the public all that Faith & Disease has been over the years.
Eric: And hopefully people hear not only the growth from those albums, but acknowledge the thread that runs between songs that Dara and I do. I felt that F&D needed a time marker like Lamentations to allow us to begin with a new era, and begin developing the songs that could have been recorded, but were not ready to.
Dara: We wanted to save our new material for the prospect of a new release on Projekt.
SV: Correct me if I am wrong, but this collection includes pieces from every Faith & Disease release except for the third CD, Livesongs: Third Body. Why leave off all the material from this CD?
Dara: The Livesongs disc was an obscure capturing of live performances. I honestly wasn't that pleased with my performance during some of those shows that have now been forever documented. I suppose we never reprinted because we wanted it to be a rarity to have, for those hardcore F&D fans!
It's important to know that Livesongs reflected a time of the band
that is now gone forever. It was intended to capture what we had
done the most at the time, which was playing live, practicing to play live,
it was our focal point for a long time, and people always said things like
"They are better live than on record." So I wanted to document that, but
not sugar coat it like most live albums. I wanted a bootleg feel
to it with mistakes
and feedback and all, and those who understood it loved it, but others took great pleasure in pointing out it's flaws.
SV: Let's talk about Insularia, your most recent studio full-length, which came out in 1998. The overall feel of the CD is light with some darker moments. Dara, you have mentioned that the weather was nice while recording Insularia. Did this have an influence on the overall feel of the album?
Dara: The sun, that's not as silly a connection as I thought at the time. I've come to love sunshine, ocean, and the lack of rain! I suppose recording Insularia in the summertime had a lot to do with the productivity that came out of those sessions. June and July are the absolute best times to get anything done in Seattle because of the constant grey-dull that perpetuates itself for the majority of the year. The bodies of music that we create have always been an echo of our personal states: pleasure, emptiness, love, disdain, etc.
SV: Did you go into that session with a fixed idea about how you wanted to come out of it and how Insularia should sound?
Eric: Yes, and we got it. I was careful about picking all aspects of that record, the studio, tape, engineer, guest players, and it all turned out as a cohesive idea, and mostly it moved us a little further out of the margins of our genre. Emotionally, Insularia took a lot out of me, but Dara and I both agree it's our most satisfying body of music, so far.
Dara: We knew going into the studio that the final sound and feel of Insularia would be so distanced from any other album up to that point. Eric and I knew that our sound had changed and that this album would shed a new light on what we had become as Faith & Disease. Indeed, with the release came glowing reviews, excellent feed back from friends and fellow musicians and the great satisfaction of realizing our music was finally crossing over to audiences who might never have given us a listen in the past.
SV: I consider "Baudelaire" one of the darker songs on the CD, thoughcertainly very beautiful. Is this song about the French writer Baudelaire of the eighteen hundreds or something else all together?
Dara: Oui! You are correct. I have always loved Charles Baudelaire's poetry and spirit of his verse. So in recording and performing the song "Baudelaire" it has always been my intention to pay homage to a poet who unmistakably and so simply captured the souls of his words.
Eric: Another song that Dara and I effortlessly created; I just plunked down that guitar line and she sang in French over it, it was so easy.
SV: One thing Faith & Disease has done consistantly is cover songs. One of the covers on Insularia, "I Come and Stand At Every Door", was also previously covered by This Mortal Coil; however, your version is completely a capella. Stripping this song to the bare emotion of the voice seems to be effective, but why choose this particular song and why this album?
Dara: Upon first hearing the rendition of "I Come and Stand" of This Mortal Coil, which was originally a Byrds song, I knew that Charlotte and I would have great fun with our own version! Charlotte and I are great lovers of a capella singing and although she did not record this song with me on Insularia, it became a great vignette for the album and during live performance.
SV: I've noticed in live performances of this song, instruments are added, like a keyboard drone and some percussion.
Eric: At our live shows, after Dara and Charlotte do "Hashivenu", which is a vocal only song most of the time, we felt that "I Come and Stand" needed density, so the drone keyboard in D mimor, an idea borrowed from Tibbeten music, and the skin drum were added to fill it out a little.
SV: Certain songs from Insularia, especially "Old Dusk Dakota", remind me of The Cowboy Junkies. You even cover their song "Witches" both on this release and on Livesongs.
Dara: We both heard this song in the dark at a party.
Eric: There is very little in common with F&D and Cowboy Junkies, other than an obscure but beautiful song of theirs we covered.
Dara: We fell haunted by its organic beauty.
SV: The dark imagery and art from all the releases help maintain Faith & Disease's darker public image.
Dara: What Eric has done to sculpt an image for this band is amazing! He doesn't get enough credit! All of the CD art has been his idea for the most part. He has done all of the graphics and compiling for albums, fliers and all things promotional. In doing so, he has married our beautifully-somber music with the ideal aesthetic.
SV: I saw one of your live shows in 1998. The show was very soft andsimple and actually reminded me of the band Low. When I mentioned this to you, Eric, you said you've known them a bit. I also know you've played with them. Do you have some kind of relationship with Low?
Eric: I just happened to be at a club they played on their first ever tour, even before thier first CD came out, and stood there mesmerized by their music along with about 5 people in attendance. After about 2 songs, as jaded as I am sometimes, I was convinced this band was brilliant. So we played with Low a few years after that, and I've kept in touch with Alan a little, and have some mutual friends in Seattle.
SV: You've played shows with quite an ecclectic group of different artists. Any that stand out particularly in your mind, or do all the shows run together, or do you feel something else all together?
Dara: Our show with Rasputina, Love Spirals Downwards, Low, and the entire 1998 tour we did with Trance to the Sun!
Eric: I can basically recall every single show and remember some detail about it, which always amazes Dara.
A live video has even been made for "Marie Don't Sleep In Your Makeup".
A public access program in Orange County, California, Drop Serene, taped
your September 10th, 1999 performance in Anaheim, California made a video
for the song from the two separate tapes recorded, and has aired the song.
How do you feel about the video for "Marie Don't Sleep..." and Drop Serene?
Eric: I like it, and there is a certain atmosphere she captured on film, or created, that reminds me of early Factory/4AD/post-punk images.
Dara: That was a strange show in Anaheim. I would have preferred no documentation!
Eric: But Dara? What about Venus Virus?
Dara: Venus Virus! I had almost forgotten the hours of amusement she gave us!
SV: Hmm, ok. You've also had videos for a couple of other Faith & Disease songs. How do you feel about videos?
Eric: They end up looking silly after a while, and although we'll doanother one, sometimes music like ours is better left to the imagination than shots of us playing live, or worse, acting out a narrative.
SV: I first heard Faith & Disease on the black tape for a blue girl tribute release Of These Reminders. Is this where your relationship with Projekt first began?
Dara: Initially that is how we became familiar with Sam and Projekt. We had previously met him at one of our San Francisco shows back in 1995(?).
Eric: But I knew of him before that, I ordered The Rope through the mail when I was in my teens. We sent some very early crude 4-track demo tapes to Projekt even before we were on Ivy, and he'd politely send us notes back saying things like "I like it, but it's not what we're looking for." Then we played in Chicago a few years ago, with the very simplified lineup, no drums, just flute, vocals and either bass or guitar, and he and Lisa encouraged us to do more in that vein.
SV: You've now signed to Projekt and your next studio release is scheduled to be out in Novemeber of this year.
Dara: I will be going to Seattle to record our new album for Projekt and to play Convergence. We are blocking out a week-long recording session as soon as I arrive mid May.
Eric: The album will be out on September 12th, if we get it done and make the dealine.
SV: As far as you know now, will this new material be a continuation down the organic road you were on with Insularia or will we hear a different Faith & Disease altogether?
Eric: Once again, the thread that runs through everything Dara and I create will be evident.
SV: Obviously being signed to Projekt means more exposure for Faith &Disease, do you have any other thoughts on what this means to you?
Dara: I am anticipating more communication between Projekt and ourselves. RykoDisc distribution will help eliminate the headaches of dealing with smaller, less professional distributors. Overall, less stress for Eric and myself. A new hope!
Eric: Yeah, it hasn't been officially announced yet, but everyone who has heard so far has reacted favorably.
~interview by Blu
(photos courtesy of The Ghoultown website and Leigh Latsaw)
Ever since reviewing the Gothabilly comp put out by Skully Records, I've had my ears open for this growing underground genre. Gothabilly, or deathrockabilly as some people call it, is a sizzling unique monster all its own that's springing up all over quicker than you can say "Night of the Living Dead". Bands like The Brickbats have been doing it for a while and have paved the way for an infusion of new bands like The Gettin' Headstones, Spectremen, The Krewmen and from Dallas, Texas (how fiendishly appropriate) with a western twist, comes Ghoultown.
Ghoultown, with its Western twist on undead rockabilly, has been in existence less than a year but has already made strong waves in the underground music world with a cameo and soundtrack in a movie, inclusion on several comps (including the upcoming Gothabilly 2 comp from Skully Records) and hard-hitting 3-song EP and a full length and comic book in the works.
Since I was in town for the weekend, I thought I'd test my luck in trying to convince Count Lyle from Ghoultown (and yes he does look that fiendishly suave in person) to do a spontaneous interview for StarVox. And just as you might expect from any Southern Gentleman, even if they are the undead kind, Count Lyle immediately obliged and agreed to meet me at The Church - a local Dallas night club.
After finding the quietest corner possible (and believe me that was a chore!), I set out to get the scoop on Ghoultown...
Blu: How long as Ghoultown been together? Is it fairly new?
Lyle: Yeah, we've been together almost a year now. It'll be a year in May, so 11 months. The band is fairly new, the concept I had for several years prior to actually getting the band together. The band I had before this was kind of a hard core horror/sci-fi kind of thing, and we started doing some heavy country/spaghetti western stuff. It really kind of struck a chord with me, so I wanted to expand that. The other band broke up, so I got the opportunity to go ahead with the Ghoultown concept. So its barely been a year since I've had this band actually together.
Blu: Wow, so in that year you've generated a lot of buzz already because you have a comic book coming out, and a guest appearance in a film.
Yeah, I've been in several bands over the years, you know, with varying
degrees of success. But really, I mean ever since the first time
we played with this band I could really feel something was different about
it. The response I was getting from people, not just saying "Hey man, that
was pretty cool, man." It was more like "Man, I've never seen anything
this," or "I've always wanted to see a band like this," or whatever the comment was. I could feel that it had some potential. We played maybe 6 or 7 times when we had someone approach us about doing a movie soundtrack, you know. On up from there, we've got some compilation appearances. We're going to be on like four compilations this summer, and we've been recording some tunes for that. So its really been snowballing into something.
Blu: So are you guys doing the comic book yourselves, or did an artist come up with that?
The whole comic book thing actually came about before the band did. I'm
a writer as well, and I've published some fictional short stories like
horror stories and such. I was doing a novel which was a gothic western
type novel. It was post-apocalyptic Texas zombie cowboys. It
has a lot of saloons in it that were a mix between Gothic clubs and topless
bars, but old west. I'd have this band always playing in there. It
was kind of like the
Ghoultown band. Being a musician is kind of first before being a writer, and so I was like "man, I really have to start this band for real." I'd have this band always playing in there. t was kind of like the Ghoultown band.
Being a musician is kind of first before being a writer, and so I was like "man, I really have to start this band for real." It was a little different different concept when I started. It was a little more sit on stools and play wearing long, black dusters. But when it evolved, I started doing the band and it kind of came out of the novel, and the comic book was my next idea as well as the novel.
So I write all of that stuff, and I've been getting to it as I have time. I have a comic book company out of Houston called Badmoon Studios that just picked up the Ghoultown comic, so they have their own team of artists. Because you don't want me to draw it, trust me! <heh heh> So I'm writing, trying to get together the scripts. I mean, this probably won't come out until early next year, but I'm getting that together to do the comic book. And there's even other things. I have a meeting with somebody from, I won't say the name of the video game company, but its like one of the biggest video game companies in existence right now, and we're talking about a Ghoultown game.
So what I'm trying to do here is not the band running around as superheros. This is really a Gothic western with the characters, and the Ghoultown band is a very minor part of it. There is a link between reality and the Ghoultown world, but I'm trying to kind of link together all of the media like my writing, and the visual graphics, and the music into something that is kind of a whole world. Its connected. It doesn't just end with the music, or end with the comic book. Its a big task for me to do because I write all the material, and all the songs.. All the stuff. Eventually it will all come out.
Blu: So does that mean you're going to be bringing more characters to life with the band possibly? Like you just added a firedancer.
Lyle: Yeah definitely! We have a big stage show that includes our Goddess of Fire, and we have some upcoming guests and stuff on stage. Those will definitely be played into all of the other media somewhere down the line. Its all in the master plan, if you will.
Blu: How did you get involved with the film, American Nightmare?
Yeah! Someone had signed our guestbook early on when we got the website
up at ghoultown.com. I try to answer all of the mail whether its
the PO Box or the website, and I kind of started talking to a guy who ended
up being the musical director for a film that they are filming in Texas
called American Nightmare on Highland Myst Films. Our stuff was kind
of just perfect for what they were doing. They kind of wanted a From
Dusk Till Dawn kind of a feel with the music as a big part of the movie.
Its definitely a B Movie horror slasher, but I'm big into movies and
particularly horror films so, you know, I was all over that.
director came out and saw us play, and he loved the band so much that he
went back and rewrote a scene so that we could actually appear in the movie.
Which is, you know, a total honor for me so now I get to be in a movie.
Well, you know, we need a Ghoultown movie someday, too, so. You see,
its all playing
into the master plan I say again. <heh heh>
Blu: Right now you have a 3 song EP out, right? Are you working on a full length?
Lyle: Yeah. Its been kind of lame that we only have a 3-song out. One of the reasons for that is that its really developed what I was trying to do. We have 6 members in the band with a trumpet player and 3 guitars. So we wanted to let it really flesh itself out. I mean, "what is this band all about, and what is our potential?" rather than you know, putting this band together and 3 months later try to record an album. We did the demo just to get gigs, but it came out really well. People were begging to get a CD, so we went ahead and put that out. We've done 3 additional songs that will come out on compilations. So we've kind of been, you know, sticking stuff out there without recording the big, debut album. But we are going to get in the studio this summer, and get that album out because I think we really need to get that going.
Blu: How did you start working with Kevin at Scully Records?
Somebody tipped him off, I believe. He has a suggest bands on his
site, and somebody I guess suggested us. I sent him a promo, and
he called me on the phone like 2 days later, and he was like "We love this
stuff." So he's taking one song off of the 3 song EP, and we recorded
one specially for
the Gothabilly 2 compilation. So we have 2 songs as Ghoultown, and in addition to that, he was asking about my former band The Killcreeps, which occasionally we do shows as The Killcreeps. So I sent him that, and he picked a song off of that, so I have 3 tracks under 2 different bands. Its really cool!
Blu: I read on your website from indiemusic.com, they called you "Bonanza meets Charles Manson". That's really cool. What kind of influences, what kind of music do you bring into that?
Lyle: Really, my influences are all over the place. The comment "Bonanza meets Charles Manson" was the only thing I could take out of that review because they slammed us. They said we should watching Clint Eastwood, and turn on the radio, and learn how to write music. That our music has no relevence to the musical community. Of course, that was good in my eyes. I was like "Thank you, I'm trying to do something different." I don't want to turn on the radio and listen to everybody else. I mean, I do listen to the radio, and I know what's going on.. But that's not me. I just play.
Everything I write is what I want to see in a band, you know. There's not really a band like Ghoultown, its just something I wanted to do. But the influences probably come more from movies and comics than they do from other bands. You see some Cramps and Johnny Cash and Danzig in our music, or whatever. I like all of those bands, but I don't necessarily sit down and try to recreate any of that. That's just the comparisons people make. They've made all kinds, but you know movies like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I'm into old horror films. Black and white horror from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, you know. All of the Universal.. Dracula, The Mummy. You know, I've always been into horror and I don't know, I wanted to do something a little bit different with it. I mean, if you go play punk and put in horror, you're The Misfits. If you play metal and horror, you might be Rob Zombie. I was like "What can I do that's a little bit different, and put in my horror spin?" Fortunately for me, I have kind of a country voice, and I'm from Texas so it kind of just naturally developed. Maybe I can, you know, kind of fuck up country music with horror.
Blu: So its safe to say that your live show is big on the entertainment aspect. Can you describe your live show a little bit? Are there props or a story line that goes along?
Lyle: Yeah, I think there's as much to be gained from our live show as there is hearing the band. We go all the way with it. We wear, quote unquote, costumes. I mean, we wear black hats and I guess gothic makeup. Its a little bit different everytime we play. We have some props like cowskulls on polls that breathe fire. We have a firebreathing girl, The Goddess of Fire that does a fire show. We have some tombstones that a set designer for a haunted house has built for us. We've had a lot of contributors to the band. I've been amazed at the people wanting to contribute something to Ghoultown. Not asking for pay or anything. They just like it, and want to do something for us. So we've built up a nice set of stage props and such. I kind of compare it to, but we're obviously not on the budget level, but if KISS were a country band, that would be Ghoultown.
Blu: So you guys play a lot here around Texas. What gigs do you have coming up?
Lyle: This is the first time we've done this, but we have 2 shows in one day next weekend in Houston. We're playing some kind of street festival, which should be interesting because we'll have the innocent bystander subjected to some Ghoultown. We're playing at a small club that night. We play here in our hometown, Dallas, probably every 2 or 3 weeks at most of the major clubs. We try to put a different spin on the show. Sometimes we dress down, or dress up. You know, you'll see something different. We're always writing new songs, and playing crazy covers. We play a country-fried version of Hell's Bells. We play some Johnny Cash covers. Things like that. We play a lot here around Texas, but we try to offer something unique every time.
Blu: Any plans to go out of state yet?
Lyle: Yeah, that's in the works. We're trying to keep our jobs long enough to pay for our debut album, and really set ourselves up to get out there and saturate some other cities and other states with our show. We're kind of ramping up, and getting the buzz. Getting these soundtrack deals and recording all of these songs. We're doing an online label, so I'm funding everything. So my cursed day job is kind of paying for everything, so I'm trying to time it right.
Blu: Any last parting words?
Lyle: Uhhhhhhh.. Keep music evil!!
Blu: Yea!!!! <hahaha>
Lyle: <hahaha> I read that on a shirt somewhere! <hehe>
Blu: Thank you, Lyle!
film American Nightmare
*Special thanks to ::Cyberina:: for helping out with this interview, for the tape recorder on short notice and for transposing it for me :)
~interview by Kirin
Impaled Nazarene. For fans of black metal, not much more needs to be said. These guys have been shredding ears off for a long time. Those of you just jumping into the fray will like to know that Impaled Nazarene was formed in 1990, and they're from Finland. You can find extensive bibliography and discography information on their official web page, which is listed at the end of the interview. The questions in this interview were answered by Mika Luttinen, Impaled's vocalist since day one. So, without further ado, let's get on with it!
Kirin: I want to ask first about the recent situation in France with censorship. I understand that you were not allowed to use the word "Satan" in your concert, that you were not allowed to sell any of your merchandise. How did they enforce your lyrics? Did someone actually stand there and watch you perform to see if you slipped an odd "Satan" in here or there???
Mika: Actually we could sing satan as much as we wanted to. We couldn't announce the song titles with the word Satan on them, totally ridiculous. We had to tell the audience "next one is song number 3 from Ugra-Karma". There was French secret service there to make sure this wouldn't happen. We found out that there were in every gig the secret police to see what we do. We are labeled as "potentially dangerous people" who could start "satanic" riot.
K: How did the concert go? Were the fans aware of the situation, and how did they react?
Mika: It went ok but I felt very uneasy with the fact we are being followed and controlled like this. I did tell the audience what is going on but I am not sure if they understood as they tend to speak pretty poor English, especially in southern France. We also advised our support bands of the fact that there's police present so they wouldn't go out and smoke pot or something.
In your official statement, you say that the band uses the symbols and
lyrics it uses, for entertainment purposes only, and that the lyrics and
symbols are not to be interpreted as reflecting your own personal viewpoints.
This may be a bit conflicting or confusing for your fans, who might believe
that your music *does* reflect your personal viewpoints and beliefs, and
who, in fact, may *count on* those being your personal viewpoints and beliefs.
To some fans, this may be construed as insincerity on your part.
Do you have any comments on this?
Mika: Yes I do and you have totally valid point there. This statement is actually for the police and our lawyer pretty much made the draft...my original version was pretty much: Fuck off and die you fucking fascist little hitlers. I wouldn't have done any statement at all to tell you the truth but Osmose (our label) asked for this so we had no choice. The worst case scenario would be that they would ban us from playing in France so in that light, I am sure you agree that then this statement makes a lot of sense. And of course we stand behind every fucking thing we do but sometimes you have no choice but compromise.
K: I also understand that the video for your song "Cogito Ergo Sum" has been banned in your home country of Finland. In 1999, you had to cancel some shows in Australia, and so were effectively banned there as well. You endure hassle after hassle from everyone from Hare Krishnas to youth Communist groups; if in fact your music does not reflect any of your personal beliefs, why do you continue using symbols and images (lyrically and otherwise,) that are so distasteful to so many people? Wouldn't it be easier to just make happy pop music, or even black metal that has been watered down so that it's more acceptable and palatable to a wider range of people? What inspires you and moves you to keep making the music you do, and using the images you do, inspite of being hassled almost everywhere you go?
Mika: As I said, we stand behind our music and lyrics. I am not going to censor myself to make things easier because then I would loose my own self-respect (which is already minimal). Besides, it has been only a few incidents after all. The video was shown later in Finland by different channel so no big deal. We had one show cancelled in Australia (but we managed to book another one as replacement so not really a total loss). The Hare Krishna thing was a bit different; we used a painting for which they happened to own the copyright (which we did not know) so they sued us. It was settled outside of court and we lost. I hate communists and they did sabotage (or try to) one of shows in Paris but they fucked up. They broke electricity down but this was during a performance of our support band so it made no difference to us. Why we play what we play is simple: We love extreme metal music. If I was loving happy pop, I would do pop music then. I don't so I do metal. Lots of things make me puke and I use the band to bring my message across. If commies or religious freaks have a hard time swallowing my shit, big fucking deal 'cause I don't give a fuck about anything. If I have to prostitute myself doing neutral statement like that in order to keep playing in France, then I will do it because music is my life.
K: The new album, Nihil, has glorious cover art. Who is Fournier? How can fans find more of his artwork? Does he ever show his work in galleries or is there a website or anything like that which people could go to?
Mika: He is a French painter, I don't know too much about him. He does have a website (I haven't checked it out). Check it yourselves: http://www.multimania.com/thehorn/
K: The sound on Nihil is truly breathtaking as well; very brutal, very different from what you had done before on Rapture. Are you happy with your new sound? Is it closer to what you had always aspired to, or are you simply adding to your original vision of what you wanted Impaled Nazarene to sound like? Stated differently: Do you feel you have progressed into a sound that you had always strived for, or have you simply added to a sound that you were already very happy with?
Mika: The sound is finally great, I would put it that way. We did everything differently this time. We changed studio, didn't bring our own shitty backline but rented everything. We didn't record live like before, this time everything was done instrument by instrument. We recorded sober and not with hangovers like before. In other words we did everything professionally like we should have done with every album. We just didn't care before.
K: In the lyrics of Nihil, you talk a lot about a disappointment about the world not ending, and there seems to be in the lyrics also the notion that because the world has not ended, perhaps the disappointment is harder to deal with than the devastation would have been. Whether or not these lyrics are meant to be only for artistic purposes, I think a lot of people do feel either a great sense of hope that the world did not end, or a profound sense of depression that perhaps things will not get better, and perhaps they will only get worse. I know that for myself, it is very tempting to stay in a place of total nihilism, and not even expect any changes whatsoever that would make being alive a more pleasant undertaking. For yourselves, does writing these lyrics and playing this music at least give you any sense of cleansing or any sense that your rage is something that eventually empowers you as individuals? Do your fans tell you or make you somehow aware that your lyrics and music are cleansing or empowering for them?
Mika: Writing Nihil was psycho therapy for me. I had total shit year in 1999,my best friend killed himself, I lost an uncle who happened to be the only relative who understood me. I basically changed the direction of the lyrics totally. I found nihilism and realized I had become nihilist. I actually really did believe that doomsday was coming and was disappointed when nothing happened. So Nihil reflects that. All five previous albums were basically about the coming of doomsday or armageddon and when this did not happen, I just said fine, I will go to different direction lyric wise. This is the first time that I have gotten so much feedback from fans, they really seem to like what I did on Nihil. Lots of people have told me 1999 was their shittiest year as well. One guy told me once that Latex Cult helped him to stay alive after his girl ran away with some other dude. So we get sometimes feedback like that.
K: Would the fact that your music made your fans feel a sense that someone understood their despair and their anger matter to you, or do you not care about that?
Mika: I don't really think too much about that. It is kinda weird.
K: It must be very irritating to you to have lyrics like "I do as I please, I have my own rules" (from the song "Nothing Is Sacred,") and then have to put up with officials in many countries harassing you and telling you can't play, or you can't say certain words. Obviously, few of us can actually do totally as we please in this world, if we want to stay out of jail, but do you feel that because of your music you at least have an internal freedom, or a sense of pride or accomplishment because you push the limits and have as many of your own rules as you possibly can?
Mika: Excellent question!!! The thing is that Nothing Is Sacred is about SEX. Of course it irritates the fuck out of me that we are being controlled but the song isn't about that at all. I must say that I don't really think of freedom at all, I don't give a shit about it. Well, now I am contradicting myself here... this is fucking hard to explain. Let me put it this way: I don't think that any of us can do as we please as there is always somebody pulling strings behind your back. I just don't waste time thinking of these kind of subjects, my interest lies in heavy metal, booze and sex. I tend to blind myself of things that make me pissed off-- I'd rather drink and party.
K: Would you care to talk any about the lyrics to the song "How the Laughter Died?" If so, I would say that this song is a bit different from all of the others; there is an odd sense of hope or contentment within all of the loss and the destruction. Would you be willing to talk at all about what these lyrics mean to you, or what your were thinking about when you wrote them? If you'll permit me to be such a wanker as to say so, I really like this song, because it reminds me of my pet tarantula. She doesn't have big eyes, but I will say that when I'm having a really shite day, I like to just spend time watching her or holding her because it makes me feel better. In other words, "The more I know about people, the more I like my tarantula." <<laughing>> Sorry. That's my own interpretation of the song, and what it means to me, but it would be excellent if you'd talk a little about what it means to you.
Mika: This is the most personal song for me; I really don't want to talk about it too much. I didn't realize it myself but you are right, there is actually a bit of hope in the lyrics. This song is about my life, how it was going and I was really looking a way to escape from it. It just came to me that I wish I was a spider so I could escape. The eye part is (again) related to sex-- don't ask more. I must punish myself now for the fact I have written about hope because hope is useless. At least all the hope is blown into dust on the next track...
K: Forgive me for being a complete brick idiot, but if you don't mind answering-- what do the letter and numbers at the end of "Nihil" signify?
Mika: Another extremely personal thing. I didn't want to print it so it is a code, pretty easy to break if you know a bit of Finnish alphabet.
K: Okay, I've gone on quite enough. Thank you for your patience, and for answering my questions. Warmest regards to all of you, and I wish you continued success and a lot less hassles in the future. Censors suck!!
Mika: Thanx to you too-- one of the most interesting interviews ever!!! Censors suck indeed but any publicity is good publicity, right???
P.O. Box 1896
1000 Brussels 1
[Do NOT write the band's name anywhere on the envelope or your letter will be returned. Write only to the address exactly as written above.]
Impaled Nazarene site: http://www.iki.fi/mega/IN/
Photo Credits (in order of appearance):
ni4= Impal;ed Nazarene logo
in = This photo was taken by Vesa Ranta, the drummer for the band "Sentenced."
in2= This photo © Kevin Marshall 1999
ni5= the cover of Ugra Karma
ni3= From the latest album which is now up... called "Nihil"
ni6= the album "Rapture"
ni7= the album titled "Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz "
in1= photo property of Impaled Nazarene
~interview by Matthew
(photos courtesy of LSD)
of the earliest acts to be signed to the Projekt record label, Love Spirals
Downwards is one of the driving forces that shaped the newest wave of ethereal
music. Consisting of guitarist/programmer Ryan Lum and vocalist/lyricist
Suzanne Perry, the band has appealed to fans as widespread as indy shoegazers,
new age sentimentalists, gothic club kids and further and farther beyond.
Some of the most emotional and stirring music of the past ten years comes
from this California project, and I had the opportunity to discuss the
band and their history and future with founder Ryan Lum.
STARVOX: Well, letís start from the very beginning, where and how did the two of you get together to form Love Spirals Downwards?
RYAN: Love Spirals began with me in the late 80's, writing and recording songs on my old 4 track. I worked for quite some time before finding my own sound. I tried singing myself, but wasn't satisfied with that. In my search for a singer, I worked with Suzanne's sister, Kristen -- but it turned out that Suzanne had a hidden talent for singing, which was very complimentary to my music. Once I discovered that, we put together a demo, came up with a band name, and the rest is history.
STARVOX: What is the significance/meaning of the bandís name? A lot of people get a kick out of the abbreviation to LSD. Was that intentional?
RYAN: We really didn't intend any meaning with our band name. Suzanne and I were listening to the radio one night and heard a New Age program talking about "love spiraling upwards," which we thought was amusing. Somehow we decided that it would make a good band name, but then later changed it to "downwards" because LSD is a catchier abbreviation. Its not like weíre big LSD users -- Suzanne is against drugs, in fact. I thought it was pretty cool to be invited to do the "50 Years of Sunshine" album because of the perceived reference to LSD, though. I admire Tim Learyís work so it was great to have been involved in a project with him.
STARVOX: Have either of you worked with other bands in the past or recently? Any production credits for you?
RYAN: I used to jam with friends, but nothing was an actual band. I've done a little bit of work for other bands like Closedown, Lycia, and Black Tape, so I do have some credits on their albums. Actually, Claire Voyant just released an album called "Time Again" which has a song that I remixed with my new collaborator, Anji.
STARVOX: What life experiences or philosophies have led to composing music as emotional and in many ways, spiritual as LSD?
RYAN: Love Spirals has always been a very spiritualexperience for me. When Iím working on music, itís very much like being in communion with God. I just let the music flow out of me. Some of my inspirations are the Mazatec Mushroom Veladas, who vocalize to invoke the spirits of their sacred mushrooms, and the Huichol Indian Shamens, who play guitar for hours on end during their ceremonies.
STARVOX: How long has Suzanne been singing and what is the extent of her vocal training?
RYAN: Suzanne never sang with a band until LSD. She said she used to fantasize that she was the heroine of Disney musicals as a child, so I guess she always had a dream of singing.
STARVOX: A lot of her vocals are just expressions, if you will, and the amount of emotion she expresses is absolutely incredible. So what are some of the things that she thinks about when she sing? What images occupy her mind?
RYAN: I think Suzanne would basically try to imagine what exotic place the music had come from, and create vocals to enhance this feeling. We were often inspired by food, as mundane as that may seem. I would contribute the inspiration of many of our songs to good eating experiences we shared. "Idylls" was profoundly influenced by the great Indian food we were eating in abundance at that time. As for later recordings, "Iíll Always Love You" was influenced by a plate of chicken and waffles from Roscoeís that she brought to the recording session. It added some much-needed funk into both the bass line and her vocals, I think! Seriously, though, she was trying to imagine what an R&B singer would do on that song, and "Misunderstood" is what came out.
STARVOX: How many different languages does she speak/incorporate into LSD?
RYAN: Suzanne used words and phrases of different languages in her vocals, like Dutch or Gaelic, but most of it is merely made up to give the impression of Italian, French, or Hindi. "Alicia" is actually in Spanish, but it's just some travel guide text we had handy. It¹s much more about the feeling than the meaning with her lyrics.
STARVOX: I have read or heard somewhere that you guys were not pleased with the debut CD "Idylls." Is this true and if so why?
RYAN: I was just making due with the limited gear that I had at the time. I've never been happy with my bass sound, so my bass lines have always been compromised, and I was just getting by with the keyboard and drum machine that I owned. I used a lot of guitar back then because that¹s what was most available for me. If I'd had the gear I have now, it would have probably been a completely different album. But then again, a lot of the stuff I use now hadn't even been invented in 92!
STARVOX: That¹s funny, because I actually VERY much liked the bass sound of that album! I thought it was very full and hypnotic. It has a very lulling quality and I have heard a lot of people comment on the bass guitar sound of LSD's early work.
RYAN: I ended up using much more simplified bass lines that I would have liked, because my sound is muddy. Rather than playing unique bass melodies, I just followed along with the guitar to fill out the frequencies. Iíd still like to get a nice bass and amp setup sometime, but that¹s lower on my list of "things to buy." Iíd like to be a perfectionist, but if I were, Iíd never had made any albums. I donít have the money to be a perfectionist.
STARVOX: There are a few songs of yours that really touched me for various reasons. I was wondering if you could give us a little info on a few of these following tracks: ďI Could Find It Only By Chance," "Sidhe" ďPromises," ďPsyche" or ďIllusory Me."
Suzanne has become somewhat infamous for not wanting to discuss her lyrics.
Itís obviously a very personal experience for her, as she doesn't even
share them with me in most cases. Sheís always stressed that she would
like listeners to come up with their own interpretations. "Psyche" is one
Kristen's songs. I'll give you the lyrics to make of what you will.
Psyche (Kristen Perry)
Here I reap barley, corn and wheat,
In this field dark and bleak,
Eros holds the keys I seek,
Psyche's tasks to complete.
I loved him blindly,
Never saw his face by day,
I loved him nightly,
From my lips Venus fountains drip,
Eden howls behind garden walls,
Reed pipes for wantonness.
I held the lamp,
Suspicion beheld his face,
I held the lamp,
My lover flew away.
In the shadows of passion's throws,
Love's harvest seemed so cruel,
Black rivers cross beauty's domain,
Mortal world you begin to fade.
STARVOX: Themes of love and its loss as well as celebration are essential to your music, however, more alienated themes of sadness and despair seemed to encompass the earlier material. Was their any event in particular that curved the outlook or direction of the band?
RYAN: Once again, this is treading on Suzanneís territory, which is shrouded in mystery. Iíve always thought of our music as beautiful and spiritual in nature, without any real pin-pointable content.
STARVOX: What inspired the incorporation of break beats and dark trance/techno elements into the newer releases?
RYAN: It's just a matter of my changing interests and gear upgrades, really. I discovered Good Looking Records between "Ever" and "Flux," and their bands really changed the way I thought about music. Before them, I had never heard any dance music that I would like to create myself. I incorporated some break beats on "Ever," but I hadn¹t realized their true potential in my music yet. One night I had a religious experience listening to "So Long," by Seba, and since then I¹ve been changed. Atmospheric drum ní bass is a perfect blend of ambient/ethereal electronics and dance beats, just as beautiful and emotionally inspiring as the Cocteau Twins to me.
STARVOX: Are there any plans for the band to strengthen these elements so as to gain a greater club appeal?
RYAN: I¹ve never really planned out what I¹m going to do with my music, so its always a surprise to me how its going to turn out. I can say that the material I¹ve been working on since "Flux" has all had a much stronger drum ní bass focus, with a lot of saxophone and Roades piano, and less vocals. The remixes on "Temporal," as well as our cover of "The Little Drummer Boy" (which we gave away as a free mp3 download this past Christmas) and the remix of Claire Voyant¹s "Bittersweet" are all pretty indicative of what the new sound is like. Right now I have three new songs on dub plate that Iím using in my DJ sets. It is pretty cool to see people dancing to my tunes, but altering my music for clubs isnít strictly what Iím doing. I still feel that Iím struggling to get the jazzy atmo sound how Iíd like. My most recent track, "Spanning Time" is the first I think is pretty right on.
STARVOX: So you are currently working on new material? When can we expect a new release?
RYAN: Yeah, Iím slowly working on new stuff. Iíve got the 3 tracks I completed for dub plates, but as far as the next release, thatís a tough question. Projekt asked if I could get an album together for 2001, but I don't think that's possible. I haven't gotten back into an "album mode" since "Flux" was completed. All of the music I've worked on has been on a per-song basis. The new songs are all about 9 minutes in length, so they're far too long for an album's use. I still don't know if I should try to make edited versions to use for an album, or if I should release a d¹n¹b style EP (two pieces of vinyl with a song on each side), or look into having 12" singles pressed -- its just such a different thing. Drum ní Bass isnít album-oriented, it's single-oriented and Projekt isn't geared up for vinyl, so I'm at a loss as to what my next step will be. For now, I just work on music when I'm inspired and press on with my DJ career. I figure that when the time is right, it will all come together for me. That's how it's always worked in the past.
STARVOX: Where and when do you DJ? Perhaps some of our readers on the West Coast would like to come out and hear you spin sometime?
RYAN: I DJ around Los Angeles and San Francisco mostly; just whenever and wherever Iím booked, you know? Iíve done a few gigs at The Top DJ Bar, in San Fran, for La Belle Époque, which is like the West Coast Mecca for Atmospheric Drum ní Bass. I¹ve also played the Virgin Megastore a few times, opened for bands, done art events, parties, radio shows - actually Iíve spun a number of times at KUCI, in Irvine, for various shows andevents. LSD has played live there a couple times, too. We always list upcoming events like this on our news page at the website, so check that often to keep up with the latest event schedule.
STARVOX: Being a musician myself, Iíve always been very curious what equipment you use(d) to create your guitar sound. What kind of guitars did you use and what effects? What equipment are you currently using for the electronica aspects?
RYAN: You should check out my entry at the GuitarGeek.com website! He put up a great illustration of my setup. Of course, I didnít used to have the whole Pro-Tools thing going on, thatís new for me, but I have the same guitars and effects racks/pedals still.
STARVOX: The newest release is a best of collection, can you tell us a little about that? There are a few previously unreleased tracks on it.
RYAN: Since I didn¹t have enough new material to put together an album this year, Projekt suggested we do a "best of" styled album. I wanted to take it a step further, by including the two remixes from "Flux." It¹s not really a "best of," though, since we don¹t really make hit songs. I chose my personal favorites, and put them in an order that I thought flowed well and gave a good overview of the band¹s work. I liked the idea of doing a retrospective because we gained a lot of new fans with our last album, "Flux." "Temporal" gives a nice summation of our career before that point, and also gives you a hint of where the sound will go from here.
STARVOX: There is no mistake that you have a wide range of fans, however, for the most part the music is considered a branch of Gothic/Ethereal. Are you comfortable with this tag that is associated with LSD? Or do you hope to expand on this by bringing in the electronic elements?
I never understood why people lumped us in with the Gothic thing, other
than the fact that we happen to be on Projekt. Of course, Projekt wasn't
really going by the "Gothic" name when we signed on with them... Ethereal
is a fine name for us, and I still think Love Spirals has a distinctly
ethereal element to it. We¹ve never known what to call the music,
and never really felt like we belonged to any one group of music. The new
material is really the first that could definitely be called by a genre name, and that¹s Atmospheric Drum ní Bass. But who knows if Iíll stick within that genre alone? I may fool around some downtempo stuff, or even some jazzy house.
STARVOX: I think the reason many people may have lumped you into that category might have just been the passionate and extreme melancholy to the music. It greatly appeals to the more 'sensitive' Goths. It¹s beautiful music. I mean, it by far doesn't have a death rock appeal or any of the cliched vampire/drama or what have you, but it definitely has a haunting 'Gothic' ambiance to it that does appeal to that audience. Again, it all depends upon what you personally interpret Gothic to be. Itís more of a mindset rather than a style for me, and the hardcore Goths that enjoy your music.
RYAN: Well, we¹re certainly not about the fangs and capes aspect of Goth! As far as mindsets go, I¹m one of the mellowest people you¹ll ever meet. Suzanne and I both have a crazy sense of humor, something which doesn¹t really come across in the music, but people notice it when they meet us. Suzanne has never been a gloomy girl, and neither of us have any interest in the dark side of life, or any of that stuff. But, you know, I still don¹t know why people say Dead Can Dance are Goth either. Brendan Perry is probably even less Goth than I am!
STARVOX: How do you think the music scene has changed over the past ten years and how has this affected the band?
RYAN: The sound of Love Spirals Downwards has been influenced as much by the invention of midi and hard disk recording techniques as much as anything and I think that may be true for much of modern music. The rise of DJ culture has obviously affected the band as well, because now I¹m promoting the band by going to clubs and shows as a DJ, not a live act. In time, I may find a way to incorporate the two, as others are doing, like Bukem and his crew. The Internet is also becoming a formative factor on music, and bears close watching to see just how important it will become in the music industry.
STARVOX: What artists (music, lit, art, etc) have inspired LSD? What music do you enjoy listening to the most lately?
RYAN: At the start, I was into 60's psychedelia, like Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane -- that's the sort of music I thought I was making with "Idylls." Then I got into Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and the Shoegazer thing with "Ardor." Seefeel and Massive Attack got me started thinking more electronically and beat-oriented, but the funny thing is that I've listened to electronic dance music throughout the entire history of Love Spirals. I went to underground raves in the late 80's; I was even in charge of the Day-Glo rooms for a popular club. I wasn't totally sold on any dance music genre until I heard atmospheric drum n bass, though. Seba and PFM, in particular, have really inspired me. I also really enjoy downtempo music. I'm currently grooving to LTJ Bukem's new album, "Journey Inwards" and his Cookin' label series of EPs.
far as literature is concerned, I¹ve always been a big a fan of
Kerouak. I share his love of Mexico and Northern California, and appreciate his vibrant descriptions of the places he traveled. I enjoy the other beat writers as well. I was a Philosophy major, so I was exposed to many different schools of thought, and still enjoy reading Philosophical works. Zen and Tibetan Buddhism strike a chord for me, on the Eastern side. I really love Herman Hesses' adaptation of the original Buddha myth in his book "Siddhartha." And I¹ve devoured any writing I could find on ancient and modern psychedelic shamanism -- particularly in college, when the band was coming together.
STARVOX: Does LSD exist at all as a live element?
RYAN: The band doesn't have any live set up at this point. There¹s been talk with my current collaborators, but I don¹t feel I have the time to dedicate to that right now. It¹s an awful lot of work to translate the music to a live format, so Iím keeping up with my DJ career as an alternative to playing shows.
STARVOX: Will LSD always be just the two of you?
RYAN: LSD has used additional musicians and vocalists here and there since the very first album. I tried to include all of them in "Temporal," actually. Jeff was on "Idylls," Jen on "Ardor," Kristen and Rodney were on "Flux," and Doron was featured on a remix for "Temporal." I'm working with him a lot now, as well as his friend, Gabe. They're two buddies of mine who are classically trained in Jazz, but make House music. Doron plays sax, and Gabe Roades piano. I've also been working with Anji on my latest songs, for vocals and a bit of songwriting input. So Love Spirals is definitely not just a duo.
STARVOX: The two of you make beautiful and immortal music together, There is obviously a deep connection between the two of you. (If this is not too personal) what is the status of your relationship with one another?
RYAN: She's like my little sister.
Well thanks a lot Ryan, I have been a fan for awhile. On behalf of
our readers, and myself, I thank you for your time.
The CDs can be purchased here, as well as autographed photographs of the band!
A very well-put together site!
~by Joe McComb
basic nature of Savatage can be explained best by including all of its
elements: metal driven riffs with orchestral accompaniment as well as multi-part
vocal harmonies and counterpoint. Starting out as a pure metal band,
Savatage has evolved into a metal orchestra. Their music has depth
meaning in addition to power and aggression. It ranges from acoustic to blazing metal and everywhere in between.
Joe: What's the name of the new album?
Chris: I believe it's going to be called "Poets and Madmen"
Joe: When will the album be released?
Chris: I think they are saying the 3rd week in September so I would say anywhere after the middle of September or beginning of October.
Joe: How would you compare this album with previous albums in terms of concept and overall sound?
Chris: Well, number one, there is no concept, so it's different than the last two in that way. The overall sound is more of the classic sounding Savatage, it's a little more guitar oriented like the "Gutter Ballet" and "Streets" type of sound. It's hard to explain, but it definitely has a feel to it. It's hard to describe without hearing it. It's a little more aggressive than "The Wake of Magellan".
Joe: What do you use for inspiration when you start writing songs?
Chris: I usually don't think when I'm writing; it's sort of a bad thing to do. Every once in a while when Jon is missing a part I will then tend to think in terms of what the song might need or different places to go with it. But if I'm writing things a lot of times, I'll just be practicing and screwing around and I'll come up with a riff and build from there. A lot of time I will just be walking down the street and something will come to my head and I'll go home and try to remember it and play it.
Joe: Who does most of the writing?
Chris: On this record it's pretty much Jon and me writing all the music and Jon and Paul are writing all the lyrics.
Joe: For all the musicians...what equipment does Savatage use to get its sound?
Chris: I use Jackson guitars. As far as the amps go, it all depends. Sometimes I was running my amp like Criss Oliva used to do in the old days; running an amp signal really clean and distorting it on the floor which enables you to get really rich clean sounds. Lately I have been running straight into the Marshall's, Peavey Classic 50's or 5150's. It all depends.
A lot of the sound comes out of your hands and the particular guitars you use, so there are way to many elements involved to really know what exactly gets our sound. For the most part we are straightforward; there aren't a lot of tricks involved.
Joe: I have noticed you had a different setup each time that you were performing.
Chris: Yeah, I switch things up from time to time. As my playing matures, and my hand gets stronger, I need less and less to get sound. So I've been trying to simplify it so I can get the most consistent sound everywhere. I have been finding that the newer Marshall models are really good for plugging straight into. I might put a chorus or delay through the effects loop to make the clean sound more rich.
Joe: Why did you leave your previous label and join Nuclear Blast records?
Chris: Well, I think it was time. Time for Savatage to get a little more attention, a little more personal. This record is so important to us and our careers. Our popularity is big in Europe and we are breaking out in South America. We have been concentrating a lot of attention on the two but we didn't want to go so unnoticed in America. Not that Atlantic hasn't done a great job for us, because they have. But they have TSO [Trans Siberian Orchestra] now and they're really focusing a lot of the organization's energy on them.
Joe: Do you feel the new label will try to make you more mainstream?
Absolutely not. If anything, I think they are going to try to
increase the Savatage awareness factor as much as possible. It's really all the record company can do, if we were giving them a mainstream album that's where they would go with it. It's very far from mainstream. The feel is a straightforward Savatage album. I think there are certain songs on here that have the potential to be played on the radio but we haven't written anything that way with that intent.
Joe: Unfortunately, it seems like you are unnoticed to a degree.
Chris: Yeah, but we have a very strong core audience. We have reached high levels in other countries but we really feel we can do that same thing here if the awareness factor is made higher.
Joe: Now that Al Pitrelli has left, who will take his place?
Chris: We don't know that just yet. Right now I'm doing the record and if nobody comes about before the record is finished I'll be finishing it myself. If someone comes along that we feel really wants to be a member of the band and will really fit in, maybe then we might have him play a couple solos here and there on the album. For right now, I'm definitely going to finish all the guitar tracks and start throwing down all the leads.
Joe: So you will definitely have a second guitar player for the tour?
Chris: Yeah, I think we need to. The sound of the band has gotten that way. If there is a remote possibility that we don't find anybody that we will go out as a five piece. I really think the band's sound live needs the other guitar there.
Joe: Will Jon every play guitar again?
Chris: Probably not.
Joe: When your career started off, the band's name was Avatar, what lead to the name change?
Chris: There was another band called Avatar. When Savatage released it's 45 under