Every once in a while, a CD comes my way that takes a bit of time and extra research. I've been listening to The Heraldic Universe for a couple weeks now and its fabulous. When I and every other reviewer out there say that it defies classification, that its truly unique, etc., - we're not bullshitting. I can't even begin to tell you what this CD *kind of* sounds like or reminds me of. Infact, it seems to have created it owns term - "glambience."
Back to my original preface though - I had to do research. Something like this doesn't get created without some kind of phenomenal story behind it. Who is the guy behind the lipsmackingly beautiful androgynous photos? What in the world are his influences? Who uses an allusion from *A Private Correspondence* - a 20-year series of letters between authors Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller as a title to their CD? What's the motivation and the goal here? And more over, what's "Peace n' Glitta n' Phasion" about eh? The promo packet provided some answers but it was the webpage that provided the information I sought.
The first sentence of the biography page won my heart: "The main theme of Glampire has always been the possession of personal power, inner strength, and self-love.*" Amen! Sign me up. If only half our population loved themselves...well, you know how that saying goes. His influences range from KISS, David Bowie, Jane's Addiction, NIN, The Cure and Curve (beginning to get the picture?) "Additional visuals included a varied diet of Aeon Flux, 1984, and the works of William Gibson, Shakespeare and his contemporary John Webster, and Eugene Zamatain.*" All that resulted in what you see before you today - a composer, a producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. Most notably is his guitar work which is as unique as his vocals - some glitter crazed meld of retro rock, glam, goth and futuristic sound.
with a Cause?
Like many bands these days, Glampire is defeating the creatively stunting notion that you *have* to have label promotion and backing to be successful. Completely dependent upon self-promotion, Galmpire has been featured in publications like The Miami Herald, Paper Magazine, Seconds and Out Magazine.
From his webpage:
"No longer do we depend on the 'Industry' to expose great new musesick. There are no reasons or excuses to wait, worry or watch - only reasons to explore and experience. Your personal choices and opinions have an impact when you vote with your dollar...And finally, what's the secret to a Glambient life?
Always listen to your heart, as your heart does not lie...At no time during the making of that record was there any outside puppeteering or corporate opinion to sway the vision, creation or presentation of the art. In a world of formula driven 'bands' and nepotism that extends beyond the family (but includes the school you went to, the attorney you have and the club you hang out in), you can be rest assured you're getting (and will always get) Glampire musesick as it was originally manifested.*"
Heraldic Universe: The CD
"Super Sad" opens the CD with a dash of elegant bitterness and cynicism in the lyrics and lots of retro sounding music complete with a pseudo brass section. Its an automatic groove maker, baby. "Happy Again?" comes next with its twisted keyboard sounds, laid back tempo, infectious chorus and ripping guitar. "Peace n Glitta n Phasion" features smart piano playing by David Matos while "My Own God" is destined to become the club favorite and scene theme with crunchy guitar blended with sampling and beautiful self-confidence. "Love is a Muscle" is just as addictive and quite possibly my favorite track with its guitar driven funky groove. Switching gears completely, acoustic guitar paints a pretty picture in "Shake Me Take Me Make Me;" while "Lie of the Land" and "All that Glitters" showcases a more cyber/futuristic sound and revolves around social/political themes. "Sell Your Love to the World" is a great example of what draws me most to this band - not only is the music seamless and superb, there's a message behind it. Opinionated, outspoken lyrics dominate this song denouncing everything from the hypocrisy of organized religion to blatant materialism.
I could go on and on about these songs - the talented musicianship that shines through them and the smart, emotional lyrics that make up the words. But this is something you must really hear for yourself. No amount of descriptive adjectives will do this justice. If you're looking for something new that somehow strikes a familiar chord deep within; if you're looking for something you can believe in as real and truthful; if you're looking for something that dares to be different and tells you its ok to be yourself - get a copy of this. Your world may never be the same again.
- Super Sad
-Peace n Glitta n Phasion
-My Own God
-Love is a Muscle
-Shake Me Take Me Make Me
-Twice as Strong
-Lie of the Land
-All that Glitters
-Sell Your Love to the World
-Build a Machine
The Beginning of Terror (1997)
Pretty Scary (1998)
Glitta EP (1999) *with the prescient "My Own God" and "Happy Again?", as well as B-sides from Pretty Scary*
The Heraldic Universe (Halloween 1999)
*Quotes from the Glampire Website
The Heraldic Universe CD can be purchased from the Glampire Website (www.glampire.com)
511 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011-8436
~an interview by Admortem and Sheryl
(photos by Blu)
After meeting all of the members of Seraphim Shock, Admortem and I sit down and discuss their local scene, what Denver's been like for them, and becoming established:
Charles: Everyone that could possibly try to take a stab at us has taken a stab at us in the last 6 years. They keep thinking somehow were going to fall apart and we're not good enough.
Q: -But you still draw huge crowds-
We're drawing huge crowds in Denver now, not club crowds, like theater sized crowds. It's nice. You don't even have to say anything, you know.
Q: The song "After Dark" is a great club song, and I played it a lot when it came out on the Goth Box. It's re-released on Red Silk Vow-
Charles: We were under some pressure for a time in getting that to Cleo[patra Records] so it wasn't mastered properly, that kind of bothered me, I really like the song but the version that went on the Goth box I don't think is half as good as the one on Red Silk Vow.
Q: What was it like being contacted by Cleopatra to be on the Goth Box compilation?
Charles: It was really strange because the band was living in this horrible house- called the spider crypt by reputation - I woke up one morning and there was a message on my answering machine from Cleo. It was strange; I remember when we got our first fan letter from the Goth box. That was pretty trippy. It was a good feeling.
Q: Why did you choose to only do an EP?
Strictly financial- at this point we are still on our own and to be able to tour and do everything we are trying to do [on our own]. It's ertainly not a writer's block thing - we definitely want to make that clear to our fans. I know a few bands who have been around the "scene' for a long time and it takes them like 3 to 4 years to put out songs, and they HAVE financial backing. I don't know what the problem is. I don't know if it's an ego thing - that's definitely not the case with this band. We would put a song out like every week, because we have so much material that's on disk that no one's even heard yet.
Q: Are you looking to sign with someone?
Charles: Yes- we are looking to sign with a major though. At this point we don't feel like any of the labels that are interested in us could really do anything for us that we can't do for ourselves. There are certain bands out there that I feel like would be on major labels today, and they aren't because they signed early on with an independent, and the independents try to stick people - 'you can have our band for x- amount of dollars, and it ends up costing people there careers. We are definitely not one of those bands that are trying to sty underground. I want a major label deal. Anyone and I don't care what you look like. You could be a cowboy or a trucker- but if you're listening to our music and you like it and it does something for you and you're at our show, and you're throwing that energy back at us, I don't care what you look like. That's the other thing- we're definitely not a scener band. I know we have glitter and make up so we get thrown into the hard-core Goth thing. Our crowds vary - sometimes it's the show and sometimes it's something else - at the Switchblade [Symphony] show, 650 people were there, and the place was a mob. The last show we did in Denver was probably the most aggressive audience we played for in 7 years.
Q: As far as progression goes - are people locally taking you seriously?
Charles: Absolutely- and the promoters take us seriously. We're playing with Xymox on Halloween night, it's a coheadlining show, (and it's not an arrogance thing). FLA canceled their segment of the tour and the promoter was like, who's going to build it, who's going to bring the people? So it feels good. Because we've been doing it in Denver since May of 94 and even if people don't like us, they have to respect what we can do as far as numbers go. And we haven't gone away. That's the most satisfying thing. So many people thought that Seraphim Shock would just fizzle out. My brother left the band (Greg, the guitar player on Red Silk Vow) he got married, and had a baby. I think a lot of people are like, if this person leaves and this person leaves, the band is just going to disintegrate.
Q: So how did you deal with him leaving?
Charles: It was hard. Really hard - I was angry. Greg has his wife- she's awesome, she's a beautiful girl, and their baby, I love my niece to death, but there was definitely a part of me, that was like, god damn it, you're supposed to be in MY band! But we were fortunate enough. We were in a position where we did have a little time. It was right after we had gotten done touring in 98. And we started looking for people and then Michael showed up-and that's kind of a story -
Michael: I didn't get it the first time- but I'm here now that's all that matters.
Charles: Right - then Zach showed up, and we actually have a real pianist and synth player on stage with us now, the guy rocks, he's a really good player.
Q: Each of you looks very distinctive - there are obviously different aspects to the band, from the industrial to the metal to the Goth - what do you each bring to the band?
Charles: I'm 30 years old, and a lot of my influences, people in the Goth scene just cringe when they hear them - bands like Black Sabbath, and Wasp, and the shock rock bands of the 80's, Motley Crue - but I was also in to Christian Death, the Cure, and those bands. Dave and I have a lot of metal in our past -(to Dave) what are you, 26 now? Zach is kind of a misplaced new waver from the last decade or something. Michael is just metal. He's like Gun's n Roses all the way!
Michael: God damn right -
Q: It's evident in your songs, but not overwhelming. It makes for a great evolution of those sounds.
Charles: That's what we're going for. We're trying to take a little bit of everything. I definitely have roots as far as the punk rock theme goes as well. I was really more of a scary punk rocker than like a Goth when I first started doing the whole hair and makeup thing in the mid 80's. There was no Goth. Everyone was punk rock, and the death rockers were really nothing but freaky punk rockers and everybody hung out together. There was not like this, "you're punk, you're Goth, you're hip hop" thing.
Q: What has your video release done for the band?
Charles: It's given us credibility as far as quality… there was a lady from LA who did the editing, and there were 80 minutes of film for that video. So people only saw 4 of the 80 minutes. There were huge scenes that never even made it on there, and I was just really happy with the quality of it. Obviously, from the awards, people have recognized that. The Philadelphia, the West Palm Beach in Florida, the Denver… MTV called us…we're waiting to hear about getting some air play on their independent show.
Q: How do you feel about that?
Charles: I'm sure we'll get shunned from the hard-core Goths, but we're not looking to make the hard-core Goths happy. We're a Halloween band because we want to be a Halloween band, not because we want to be gothic. There are bands that set out to be part of the scene. We're not like that.
Michael: If people aren't going to like us because we have a video on MTV, then they suck anyway-
Charles: We don't care about those people. The shows that we are throwing in Denver now have dancers, four twenty foot columns that line the stage, the show starts off with Dave and Michael on these things, there's a bedroom scene, there's a little girl with a little doll, it's become very much a production, and I want to let people see that on the road. As long as we're doing what we want to do, we don't really care what anybody else thinks. If they sold out.
Michael: There's a difference between a sell-out band and a band that just wants to have a broad impact. I want as many people as possible to hear our music. Period.
Q: Do you consciously think about trying to make a club hit?
Charles: To this point, we haven't. There have been times where we kind of joke… after a CD is done you can step back from it, listen to it, and think, if the kids get a hold of this and if its marketed correctly - but that can be for anything. I don't sit and write for the idea that I'm going write the perfect song. If anything, because we have so much rock in our music, we've been shunned because we're not dancy enough.
Q: "After Dark" seems to be such a great club song-
Charles: That song almost didn't make it. I couldn't finish the lyrics originally. We wrote that song in the summer of 95. Half of our material got chopped when we recorded Red Silk Vow. Now I look at it and think it's a great song, It's really not until you start getting the feedback though, that you know it's a great song. I remember when Red Silk Vow first came out, and the apprehension, wondering how is this going to be received, people aren't going to like this… and then we got great reviews straight across the board.
Q: When you perform in concert, what one song do people want to hear the most?
Charles: At this point, it's After Dark. Simply because of exposure.
Q: Do you have a favorite song that you like to play?
Charles: Right now we have a new song that's coming out next month on a compilation, and because it's the new song, it's my favorite. It's really hard because we always feel like we're two years behind because we don't have the money to create material out to the public and we've got such a back log of music that no one's even heard. Like, Beyond Forever, is a really old song.
Q: What's the new one called?
Prey. It's specifically done for the Masquerade vampire game, the role playing game. We got a phone call and they're putting together a soundtrack for the next edition.
Q: Where can people get the CD?
Charles: It's being released next month, they can check our website for information.
Q: How has the tour been going so far?
Charles: It's been really cool to do two full nationals. But the scene is very frustrating. I am tired of playing in front of people that don't move. I know that everyone pays their dues… all of the promoters have been great… it's hard to play shows with major national acts, like Xymox, Type O Negative, and know that you can hold your own, or better. And then go do a show for like nine people. We did a show last week in Detroit, and there were nine people there. All nine of them that were there bought merchandise… we throw out so much, and it's really hard when you're playing in front of that. I remember starting out in Denver and what it took to get us recognized and start a draw and build a reputation. We just want to play in front of more people. Not because we need to feel like Rock stars, but the energy thing. The Goth scene is so self-defeating. People won't let it grow because they're very elitist about it... every year, everyone says Goth is really going to break through. Bull shit. It's not going to break through because people won't let it break through. I'm not an advocate of taking something and slapping it up and making it the next big thing, but as a performer, we feel like we're getting burned, because we put a lot in to our shows. And the bands that don't put a lot in to their shows end up hurting us. Promoters don't want to pay, and the fans don't come out, because they've seen so many crap bands. I don't want to sound like we think we're all that, but everybody's given us positive feedback…
Q: What effect did the Columbine shooting have on the local Denver scene? How did it effect you?
Charles: They pulled Rammstein, they pulled Manson, they tried to pull Front Line Assembly, they arrested some kid for wearing a trench coat - it was tolerated fascism. What the hell would they have done if the kids were wearing cowboy boots and a flannel? Arrest everyone? Put a ban on flannels? The kids were disturbed because they were part of a hate group. Everybody's got to take their shots. Anyone dressed in black was an easy target. There was a lot of crap.
Q: Were you pressured to make any statement as representatives of some sort?
Charles: I was asked to be interviewed by some guy at the television station. The shooter had one of our promos in his room. I was just like; I'm not going to apologize. No way. We made some sort of disclaimer on our website. But it's not because I gave a rat's ass. I don't mean to sound cold about it, but I could've easily been one of those kids when I was 15 or 16 years old. I was running with some of the wrong people. Fortunately, I went this way, and I survived… I in no way condone what those kids did, but some of the people that are pointing fingers and saying, this is the reason that this happened, fuck them -open up your eyes and look at the society. It's one big plastic joke. Your society is what brought all of this shit together in the first place - your system. And they are sitting there pointing fingers at these people on the outskirts… Then again, it's obviously not a situation where we think someone has the right to go and just start killing people -
Michael: But some kids are just fucked up. That's all there is to it. The kid could have been wearing a pink tutu. It doesn't matter. He was just fucked up.
Charles: Not only did he go and kill everybody, but he was making damn sure there would be no retribution, either. He was like, ok, fuck all of you, I'm going to kill your sons and daughters, and then kill myself too so that you don't have anything to come after. I think that was the hardest thing for everybody in the situation. When the kids took their own lives, they took any sort of sense of justice away.
performed by Admortem and Sheryl, October 18, 1999~
HeXensNacht @The Riviera, Every Monday 18 and up
Atlanta's Priemere Goth Industrial nightclub open 24 hrs
1055 Peachtree street, Atlanta GA.