The Naked and the Dead
(photos provided/property of Greg Fasolino and
The Naked and the Dead - no duplication permitted
Earlier this year I stumbled upon a thread on the Deathrock.com newsgroup. Everyone seemed to be going crazy over a '80s New York band called The Naked and the Dead. DJs were foaming at the mouth. Rumors were going around about reunion tours and a very friendly and humble Greg Fasolino - former guitar player for the band - was fielding questions all the while chuckling to himself in disbelief that people would be interested in something that happened so long ago. He had put up mp3s for the band on a whim and in the hopes of preserving it for posterity; never really expecting this kind of overwhelming positive reaction from the scene's youthful movers and shakers. So of course I had to go download the songs myself - and I was blown away. Here was the sound of the '80s post-punk movement in all its rebellious, gritty, Aqu-netted glory and god it felt good on the ears. The vocalist purred and wailed like a Banshee (Siouxsie that is); the bass lines were rumbling fat melodies; the percussion punchy and the guitar raw and emotional. Here is a musical gem we had missed somewhere along the way - that *should* have been played alongside bands like Siouxsie, Alien Sex Fiend and Sex Gang Children all this time. It could have been lost to us but thanks to modern-day technology - namely, the ability for bands to upload and create mp3 pages instantly giving people worldwide access to their music - we have the opportunity to hear it for the first time. What was old is new again and is getting appreciated by a whole new audience.
The Naked and the Dead have quite a story
to tell - where they've been, what it was like back in the '80s New York
club scene (quite a delicious insight!), and where they are now. With April
being the month to mourn the loss of Rozz Williams - and now Frank Tovey
- I am even more keenly aware of our musical legends and am determined
that StarVox does its share of pointing them out lest they slip off into
obscurity unappreciated. There's a wealth of underground musical culture
out there to be had. So read up young bat-lings; The Naked and the Dead
are still around and with a little coaxing, they may even come out to play.
Greg: We were indeed massive Sex
Gang fans - probably our single biggest influence along with the Banshees.
What I particularly liked about SGC back then (which I think was reflected
in Naked and the Dead), was firstly the way they managed to be very arty
and mysterious, while still maintaining a real sense of punk urgency. Their
lyrics were full of these wondrously arcane socio-historical references
- almost mythological - yet their music was still very grounded and tribal,
very piercing and powerful, and filled with lots of unusual time signatures
and dramatic shifts in mood and tempo. We picked up on all of these motifs
to a large degree.
That March, Lori and I went to see Andi Sex Gang perform at the Peppermint Lounge and interview him for my fanzine, and there was this tall kid standing in front of us, his huge Aqua-netted hair almost blocking the view. We three started talking, and once we found out that Christopher played bass, and that he was influenced by a lot of the same bands as we were - Sex Gang, Death Cult, Banshees, etc. - the wheels were set in motion.
Although I wrote a lot of the Naked and the Dead music, the band's sonic framework was from day one really based around Christopher's acrobatic bass playing, much as Sex Gang were. And David was the missing piece of the puzzle. Our first drummer, John Grady, was affable but didn't really have that tribal heartbeat rhythm inside him, and we were sort of floundering. David, who'd been in Acid Bath (a joke high-school Alien Sex Fiend tribute band) with Christopher, stepped in during mid-June 1985, and immediately the combination clicked, and we came up with "Cassandra" and "Taboo" during David's very first rehearsal. Later that same night, the four of us were having a drink at the bar in Subway, and I seem to recall David suggesting "The Naked and the Dead" as a band name, after Andi's song, which at that time, was unreleased (we had it on a bootleg tape I'd made of the Pep concert). It fit the sort of mood we were looking for - sex and death are such perennial prime subjects! - and that was that.
As a side note, during my years as an editor
at "Reflex," I became friendly with Andi, and he once had me send him a
tape of The Naked and the Dead's live cover of "Sense of Elation." Although
we'd gotten a line or two of the lyrics wrong, he was kind and said he
Greg: Everything really did go in hyperspeed...those gigs came only a month and a half after we'd started writing the songs in the set. We were very determined and motivated, though - and I tend to be super-organized, so we didn't waste much time on irrelevant matters. We had a lot of other lucky advantages: We were already part of the Subway scene, I had my own crude rehearsal studio and a network of music acquaintances from doing a fanzine, and we had great friends in NYC like Joe Truck, who basically guided us through the whole process of getting gigs at CBs and recording a demo.
As for age, I sometimes forget just how young we all were, especially Christopher and David. Lorianne was eldest at 21, I was 19, but Christopher and David were a mere 16 years old! We were quite naive, but I think part of the continuing appeal of The Naked and the Dead is the youthful energy and lack of inhibition - it was not formulaic or overly contrived music.
And yes, I was blown away being onstage. I'd never even been to CBGB prior to playing there, and just walking in the door, smelling the stale beer and seeing all the ancient punk graffiti - it was like visiting the Sistine Chapel or something. I was in awe to be on the same stage that had birthed the Ramones and Cramps. Long live CBGB!
Christopher: It was great. I don't know how much of it was related to age, but I distinctly remember there being a certain buzz in the air. Lots of cool people, lots of really great bands, going to shows all the time and seeing bands like Skinny Puppy at small venues like Danceteria - and of course the local bands we were friends with. There definitely seemed to be a community, a very freaky little community, unlike anything I've experienced since… it was pretty intense.
Blu: Sadly things ended that same year and many of the band members went on to try their hand at other projects. Quite a rollercoaster ride. What brought about the end?
Greg: Many different competing factors conspired to end the band before it really should've, though the actual deathblow came from Christopher, who back then - and this isn't at all a criticism of him - had an artistic attention span that wasn't extremely long, and he was known for jumping around from one interest to another. I'm not sure if he became bored with The Naked and the Dead, but he did eventually lose interest.
In retrospect, our flameout trajectory was a very common one for post-punk bands in NYC in the '80s - play CBs, make a demo, then split up. Of all the bands from that scene that we were friendly with, only Of a Mesh and Fahrenheit 451 were able to last more than a year. Putting out a record was daunting; only those two bands, Brain Eaters, and Kretins managed to release any vinyl. There was such a limited number of places to play, a small pool of fans to reach, almost nowhere to get airplay... I think that after we finished our demo, we sat back expecting something to happen, and it didn't - WNYU played "Taboo" once or twice, and the few reviews we received took many months to be published, by which time we'd already split up. It wasn't like today, where the internet and mp3 technology make it possible to disseminate music instantly and widely, with almost instant reaction. Being in a band in New York back then, especially such an underground genre as deathrock, was to some degree an exercise in futility. So most of the bands reached a plateau in a short time and then fragmented...we weren't really an exception.
Another part of it was a kind of musical dry spell we ran into. During our first few months we wrote nine songs, then spent September '85 making the demo. When we resumed trying to write songs in October, we just assumed they'd continue to flow as easily. We were all so inexperienced at being in a band, we didn't realize this was totally normal, and that all bands go through writer's block at times. By November we'd created one really intriguing piece of music, which we never arranged with vocals (it was posthumously titled "Crown of Thorns" after one of Lorianne's unused lyrics), but it was too little too late; the damage had been done and we were somewhat demoralized.
Stylistic differences also eventually surfaced; Christopher was a Cocteau Twins devotee and was interested in creating less aggressive, more atmospheric compositions. This was anathema to Lorianne, who was a rocker at heart and hated ethereal stuff; she felt that we should pursue a harder Alice Cooperish sound, more like 45 Grave were doing at the time. I think she also was not entirely comfortable with the gothic image we'd gotten; she was sensitive to some criticism we got from some non-musician friends who thought we were too cliched, so she morphed from Siouxsieish garb to a sort of Berlin cabaret look. David and I were definitely the two who were most content with the band as it was, and would probably have just kept going.
At some point in December '85, Christopher called me to say he was leaving the band. Since his bass style was so integral to The Naked and the Dead's sound, the rest of us decided to dissolve it. I was kind of shocked and saddened, but back then we all thought there'd always be bigger and better things around the corner. I didn't even have time to mourn, since within a week, I got a call from Joe Truck, whose trashabilly band Chop Shop (who I'd loved) had also just broken up, and he immediately suggested we join forces. Joe had been a guitarist (in Scarecrow) and a frontman (in Chop Shop), but wanted to try his hand at drumming. Lorianne also was leery of singing again, and wanted to try bass. We recruited another first-timer on vocals, a friend and Staten Island radio DJ named Robert Rowan Conroy, and thus formed Burning Rome, a band which only lasted a few months. This just reinforces my point that most bands back then were constantly forming and splitting, rarely lasting long enough to make a real impact.
The Naked and the Dead's dissolution was
totally amicable, though - all of us remained friendly and continued to
hang out at each other's parties, and go see everyone's new musical projects.
I was a big fan of both Christopher's band The Children's Zoo, and David's
band The Ochrana; both of those bands rehearsed at my studio as well.
Christopher: Yep, that was me. I felt like we were in a rut, and I guess I just wanted to do something else. You might call it youthful artistic wanderlust. Ah, youth!
Blu: Give me your impressions of the deathrock/punk/club scene as you remember it from the 80s. Any particularly fond moment or strange incident you'll never forget - playing onstage or otherwise?
Greg: Being underage in the very early '80s, and living in semi-suburban Queens, I missed the heyday of NYC's true punk clubs like Hurrah, Mudd Club, and Max's Kansas City. By the time I started driving into Manhattan for concerts in 1983-84, there was absolutely no place at all to go to listen or dance to what we called post-punk. I should clarify that the terms "deathrock" and "gothic" weren't in widespread use yet; we tended to put bands like Bauhaus, Cure, Joy Division, Joke and Banshees under the same umbrella as not-as-dark bands like Gang of Four, Bunnymen, Fall, Chameleons, Furs, PiL and outsider acts like Birthday Party and Virgin Prunes - we called it all "post-punk" or sometimes gloom-rock. When Sex Gang and the Fiends hit, you started hearing the term Batcave music bandied about, but "gothic" didn't take hold as a label until '85, and deathrock I think was more of a California term then. Oddly, the West Coast bands never toured in NY, so until late '85 we were still pretty ignorant of Christian Death and Kommunity FK (we knew and loved 45 Grave since they were played on college radio) .
Anyway, clubs like Danceteria or the Pep Lounge were great for shows, but were musically uninteresting hangouts - when the bands were offstage, the DJs played the same music every other club in Manhattan was playing: Madonna, Run-DMC, discofied new wave like Bananarama and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. There was still a punk presence at CBGB, but aside from the hardcore matinees (a scene which held little appeal for me, being dominated at the time by slamdancing and generic bands), it was all hit or miss. If you liked deathrock in mid -'80s New York, you were by necessity kinda isolated from others of your kind. That's where Subway came in.
When my Modern Poetry college class began
in fall 1984, a big bearded giant of a man in the back of the room got
my attention and demanded to know if the X-Ray Spex button on my jacket
meant that I liked cool music. When I replied in the affirmative, this
guy, Ed Rapacki, invited me down to the opening of his new punk club, which
was to be called Subway. Ed was then the doorman, later to become Subway's
manager, and he's still a best friend to this day. In any case, Subway
was named appropriately - it actually was in a real subway station, in
grimy Rego Park, Queens - you could ride the train in from Manhattan and
get to the club without ever going aboveground, though most of the initial
clientele were from the Queens and Long Island punk scenes. I still remember
the initial thrill of walking through the door and down the stairs of Subway
for the first time in November 1984, hearing Tones on Tail "Christian Says"
wafting thru the smoky air. Then Sex Gang's "Sebastiane" came on and I
thought to myself, this is heaven. It was cool to finally meet others into
this music; Lorianne was one of them. When we were introduced that evening,
the first thing she said was that her favorite bands were Bauhaus and The
Damned - the idea to eventually form a band with her probably got stuck
in the back of my mind right then and there.
Unfortunately, despite its success, the owner of the space was uncomfortable with its goth-punk ambience, and in October of '85 he closed Subway abruptly in favor of the venue's previous incarnation as a gay Latin disco. Still, you know the classic remark about the first Velvet Underground album, how it sold a few thousand copies, but everyone who bought it started a band? Well, Subway probably never regularly drew more than a few hundred people, but they did all start bands, and many of the regulars - myself, Ed (now a CD importer), Burgess (now at TVT Records), devilocked Jack "Macabre" Sheehy (now with Dutch East), Michael Grimes (VH-1), Luis Carus (Junk Records), Glen Cummings (Ludichrist/Scatterbrain) - ended up in some aspect of the music biz.
The other historically important club in the mid-'80s scene was the Lismar Lounge, which opened in NYC early in 1987 and continued for quite a few years. Lismar were really keen to book deathrock bands- Christopher's band The Children's Zoo played there several times with Of a Mesh. It wasn't as exciting or closeknit a scene as Subway, but you could definitely hang out and listen to decent music, and several bands formed from meeting there, like David's The Ochrana.
David: I think Greg captured the scene in his description really well. Almost everyone seemed to know each other or know someone who knew someone else. Since New York City and Long Island are such populated areas, it's amazing that the scene was so connected.
Some of my fondest memories were nights spent at Danceteria. One night I was leaning against the first-floor elevator doors next to this really tall guy with a big black hat. It took me a moment to realize that I was standing next to Andrew Eldritch from the Sisters of Mercy. Things like that would happen often. You never knew whom you would meet on any given night - that's what made the experience great.
I also think playing at CBs was a great experience. To be 16 years old and playing on the same stage as legends was just amazing. My friends back home in high school would never quite believe the stories I'd tell on Monday mornings.
Oh, yeah and one more: the Cocteau Twins show at the Ritz (1985). One of my first alternative concerts. The music, the smell of weed in the air and the overall atmosphere was just intoxicating.
Christopher: All of it was strange.
Blu: How DID you guys get your hair to do that? Curious minds want to know the gravity defying secrets.
David: We'll its actually an ancient Chinese secret. Seriously, if I remember correctly, there was a lot of trial and error with getting our hair "up". Friends would suggest gelatin, but I never thought it worked well. Sugar and water was good, but it would be hell in the summer; every fly, bee and bug would nest in my hair! I even recall purchasing a gallon of hair lacquer and actually washing my hair with it - that hurt and was very flammable.
Finally, and I think Chris can attest to this, a good combination [was] day-old dirty hair and Aqua Net Extra Super hold, sprayed in on in layers, and then firmly crimped (with a trusty crimping iron) worked wonders. Once you crimped your whole head in these waffle-like sections, we would pull the sections apart and then tease them with a metal comb. After that it was all about straightening the ends and cleaning it up! Of course this took an hour or two which meant you didn't wash your hair for a few days or for some of us a week - Uhmm...Chris.
Greg: David explained the hair stuff, aka The Secrets of the Aquanet God, so well that I don't have anything to add. Back then it was often considered au courant to get it as high as possible while having the back and sides as short as you could. There were variations, you had the most popular bouffant Siouxsie/Robert Smith style, then there was the Porcupine (a la Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen, which was sort of pineapple shaped), and the hairdo I myself used, The Vegetable, which was also called The Broccoli and resembled a big mushroom (I was dubbed Vegetable Man due to the Jesus & Mary Chain song). People who opted out of these did the Andi Sex Gang-style spikey do, or sometimes the devilock.
I think Christopher generally was considered the King of Hair then....I don't know anyone who got it higher. I have a photo of him in the act of creation (he used up a whole can or more of Aquanet)....
Blu: Now, flash forward to today. Greg - what made you decide to put these songs up on mp3 sites? What did you hope to get out of it at the time?
Greg: Well, I think it all really started in the summer of 2000. I was reorganizing my music room and came across the original reel-to-reel master tape of The Naked and the Dead's 1985 demo: the four songs "Taboo," "Cassandra," "Carousel," and "The Gate." Back then, the engineer Tim had given each of us an audiocassette copy of the demo, but over the course of 15 years, my cassette had become so degraded and dull it was unpleasant to listen to. On a whim, I asked my pal Steve French, a NYC studio producer, if he could take a look at the reel-to-reel and attempt to salvage it. Despite the age and mildew, Steve was able to restore and remaster the songs, creating digital files which I burned to CD. Still, after burning another CD copy for Christopher, I didn't think twice about filing the material and forgetting about it.
Then in April 2001, I found Deathrock.com. I was blissfully ignorant then that there was any real interest in old-school deathrock. To be honest, I didn't even know "deathrock" as a viable genre existed anymore, or that there were any younger fans of dark music who hadn't totally bought into the whole late gothic scene with its Sisters imitators, faux-industrial crap, and corny vampire obsessions. I'd recently acquired a new computer system with mp3 capabilities, and was busy transferring all my old rare decaying live/demo tapes to digital. I came to an unreleased album by a semi-obscure British deathrock band from 1982 called Ritual, who were related to Death Cult and UK Decay (their "Mind Disease" single was a real favorite with The Naked and the Dead back then). Anyway, I was curious to find out more about Ritual, and in my web search, hit on Deathrock.com. I wrote to the site's creator Mark Splatter regarding Ritual, and noting that he was a fan of my old friends Of a Mesh (who I thought had been completely forgotten in the sands of time), I also mentioned my involvement in the '80s NYC scene, and we started corresponding and trading info. I loved his site and continue to find it a real treasure trove of sonic data. Mark absolutely blew me away with his knowledge and enthusiasm, and his thirst for information on obscure deathrock and the '80s NYC scene in particular - if anyone deserves credit for provoking The Naked and the Dead's reformation, it's Mark Splatter. I burned him some CDs and scanned him my collection of memorabilia from that scene (flyers, photos, etc.) and he was so psyched that he starting creating sites on Deathrock.com for The Naked and the Dead and the other old-school NYC bands like Of a Mesh, The Ochrana, and Chop Shop. This kinda got me thinking, if Splatter digs this and finds the whole idea of obscure '80s deathrock to be worth excavating, maybe there's other people out there who'd also like it. That was really my sole motivation - preserving this unheard music for posterity. A few people referred me to MP3.com, so I started making sites for the dozen or so old NYC bands I was involved in or friends with. Some of these proved quite popular, but The Naked and the Dead site just took off, in a way I never expected. We started getting fan mail from Norway, Belgium, Australia... It was really exciting in a wacky pinch-me sort of way.
Blu: I first ran into the band's name on the deathrock.com newsboard and people were going ape over the songs you had posted to mp3. What was your reaction to people's enthusiasm?
Greg: As I continued to visit the Deathrock.com board, I noticed people starting to mention Naked and the Dead (including Katz, who coincidentally, was the man who reviewed the band's demo in "Flipside" zine back in 1986) and the other bands in the '80s NYC deathrock scene who I'd done sites for like Scarecrow and Brain Eaters, and it was immensely gratifying for me as a musician, as a fan, and as a music historian. I suppose I felt that my packrattish archiving of so much of this music and memorabilia was finally meaning something, that it was being utilized in such a cool way to fill people in on a very underlooked scene. In the end, it's all about the music, and most of this stuff - not just The Naked and the Dead - never reached a big enough audience back in the '80s. So if I can help deathrock fans who'd really like it, to discover it now, well, that's a thrill for me.
Christopher: Still continues to and will probably always freak me out.
Blu: Now here's the part of the story that I really like. I remember people asking about a reunion on that newsgroup and Greg remarked that he didn't even know where the other band members were. Consequently, people started chiming in saying they knew this person or that and shortly thereafter, you three were emailing each other right? That had to be immensely exciting! You've even gotten together in person a couple times? What's it like getting back in touch with each other after all these years?
Greg: Actually, Christopher and I had been in contact for a few years before that. We had stayed friends in the '80s, but after catching an Alien Sex Fiend concert together in early 1992, we lost touch, as he lived the life of a sailor for a few years and moved around the country. In late 1998, he came back to Long Island and a mutual friend alerted me to his whereabouts, which was practically in my backyard, so our friendship quickly resumed itself as if no time at all had passed. We would reminisce about The Naked and the Dead occasionally, and jammed once or twice, but there didn't seem to be any impetus to dust off the old music in any way until the whole mp3/Deathrock.com stuff took off last year.
Following The Ochrana gigs in 1988, I completely
lost contact with David and had no clue where he was. I ran into him only
once, circa 1993, in NYC's Penn Station in-between trains, but we didn't
have time to chat and I didn't catch his address or number. When I started
creating the Naked and the Dead mp3 sites last year, I wanted very much
to get in touch with David and tell him about it, but I didn't know where
he was and couldn't find any internet listings for him. This January, David
was at work surfing the web, and on impulse, typed in "The Naked and the
Dead", and thus came across the sites. At the same time, some of his old
friends, these cool girls Claudia and Laura who were on the scene back
in '85-87, found the Deathrock.com board and saw my postings there regarding
The Naked and the Dead and Ochrana and how David was "missing," and they
alerted him. I got a nice email from David shortly thereafter, and in February
2002 we all met up for a few drinks at this bar Von in Manhattan.
Blu: Were you nervous about meeting each other again? What were expectations like?
Christopher: No, not at all. I was excited about it. It wasn't just Dave, but, that whole gang of weirdo girls (I mean that in the best way) we hung out with in high school. It was nice to see that even as responsible adults (parents even) everyone's sense of humor was still demented as ever. It was a relief in a way, and we just seemed to pick right back up where we left off.
Greg: I was a bit nervous and definitely excited. It was wonderful for Christopher and I to see David again, for sure...both for the nostalgic quality of being able to reminisce, and also for renewing an old friendship, and the pleasure taken in seeing how well people have matured. David obviously has made a great life for himself, and we both have young children, so there was a lot of common experiences and adult things to bond over that we might not have had when we were naive teenage deathrockers. Since then David and his family have been over my house a few times, and it's really nice to be back in touch.
David: Personally, I was really looking forward to seeing Chris and Greg. For the past several years I had thought about tracking down both of them but always felt awkward doing so. This was a great opportunity to see how everyone had changed and talk about the things we still had in common.
Blu: So I hear rumors you guys are toying with the idea of playing together again - even if it's just to do a couple one off shows? So is it safe to assume that over the years you never really stopped being musicians at heart?
Greg: After talking it over with Christopher and David last month, we decided to officially reform for the first time since 1985. At this point we're not sure where the comeback plans will go, whether it'll just be a few reunion gigs later this year, writing some music, or maybe, hopefully, some new recordings. In any case, we're in no rush and since David and I have families, there's only so much time we can devote to it.
Once a musician, always a musician, I think. Sometimes other priorities divert you from playing an instrument, and none of us did much of that in the Nineties, but yeah, I think all of us to one degree or another still held on to that identity inside.
David: When we were first reunited,
the thought of playing together again entered my mind almost immediately.
Even though I had played in several bands after The Naked and the Dead,
none compared to the experience and musical collaboration between Chris,
Greg, and me. I haven't played drums in about five or six years, but everyday
I think about playing again - definitely a musician at heart. I can't wait
to get started.
Maybe we will play just a few gigs, but I could see doing something more committed if it feels right. I would like to do some new material as well if the boys are game. In fact, I've written a bunch of new songs with this in mind.
Blu: The attention you've gotten from Deathrock.com and your mp3 sites has even inspired some DJs to spin The Naked and the Dead tracks at current deathrock club nights?
Greg: This has been a pleasant surprise, or maybe I should say, a shocking surprise? I think we all always felt the songs were powerful and accessible, but I never imagined there'd be club play for this old music...so it's an added treat for us. I know Mark Splatter's played us at Ghoul School, which sounds like an amazing place to hang out. Rick Mortis has played us at House of Voodoo in San Francisco. Maya and Spider B. from Sanctuary in Lausanne, Switzerland really love Naked and the Dead, and have been spinning it since I sent them CDs.
Our friend William Gibbons (who grew up with Christopher, and was The Naked and the Dead's roadie back in '85) recently moved to Beijing, and brought a copy of our CD with him. He recently emailed me to inform us that "There is a club not too far from where I live, where I've made some friends. Well they asked me to bring in some music for them and, yup, you guessed it, The Naked and the Dead went over huge! It's funny as hell to see Chinese goths dancing to Naked and the Dead, what a pisser." Imagining this borders on the surreal, but there's an even more odd tale I heard from Thomas Thyssen from Pagan Love Songs in Germany. He had emailed me a few months ago, looking for more info on the sites I did for Joe Truck's bands, and I mentioned The Naked and the Dead and referred him to the MP3.com site for downloading. He surprised me by saying, "The funny thing is that 'Cassandra' of The Naked and the Dead is a regular on our playlists for ages. A friend of mine had the song on a tape copied from a tape, copied from a tape, copied from a tape, if you know what I mean." Somehow, one of our old demo cassettes from 1985, of which perhaps only 50 were ever made, wended its way halfway around the world, and years later came to this deathrock DJ in Germany who liked it enough to burn his own copy and spin it. That blew my mind completely.
Blu: I know some of you have kids - are any of them old enough to listen to music? What do they think of the music you used to do?
Greg: My son Rudi just turned three,
and he already loves music, though he doesn't really have a grasp of chronology
at all yet - he's still in an eternal present, there's no past or future
beyond a few days. So he doesn't understand that Daddy was once in a band
David: My daughter Sophia is only 10 months old; much like Greg's son Rudi, she is not aware of musical styles. My wife and I make sure we expose her to a wide variety of music like classic blues and jazz, classical, '80s post-punk, etc. I don't think she'll ever hear Britney Spears in our home!
Blu: What do you guys do these days career wise?
Greg: Well, during The Naked and the Dead's lifespan, I was simultaneously publishing a local NYC fanzine called "Heaven Down Here." I enjoyed it so much I ended up majoring in journalism, interning at "Spin," and eventually becoming managing editor of a national alternative-music mag called "Reflex," working alongside my rockcrit mentor Lou Stathis (RIP), and getting to interview so many of my heroes (from Iggy and Alice Cooper, to Gavin Friday and Peter Murphy). Very much a dream come true for me, but it was a bit ahead of its time, and the owners (the brain trust of stoner mag "High Times") sabotaged us. When "Reflex" was killed a decade ago, I felt wholly burned out by the music business, so I started working for a friend, who trained me in his family business of forensic genealogy, which basically means finding missing people and tracing their family trees for the courts...sort of like a mix of private investigation and historical research, which proved very mentally stimulating.
Currently, I work out of my home office, preparing the research reports for the courts, as well as managing the computer system for my wife Susanna's business - she's the owner of a gourmet chocolate shop. I'm also back in school, studying website construction.
I still occasionally do some music writing when time permits: The last few things I'm responsible for are the liner notes to Peter Murphy's "Wild Birds" collection, and numerous entries in the 1997 book The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock; and I've continued to help write the website biographies for my old friends in Alien Sex Fiend.
Unfortunately I have no knowledge of Lorianne's current activities. After we went through a difficult divorce in 1992, she cut most ties to her past and moved to New Orleans; I haven't seen or spoken to her since. Last I heard, she was working in the cosmetics industry and residing in the French Quarter. Since we have no way to contact her - even if we did, I doubt she would care to be involved - and we three are still based up here in greater New York, we've decided to reform without her. Nonetheless, I'd like to state for the record that we wish her the best, and continue to respect the seminal contributions she made to The Naked and the Dead's history.
David: I currently work for a health-care communications firm. I coordinate the development of news stories with both professional (trade) and consumer journalists. Much of the work I now do involves writing, video production, and project management. Unfortunately, it doesn't involve music or the arts. I save those interests for my personal life.
Christopher: Well, basically I'm a shiftless dreamer- currently I'm in-between jobs and collecting unemployment… In reality I'm a woodworker - by turns, a wooden-boat builder, furniture maker, and budding graphic designer.
Blu: Greg, I'm sitting here holding the Wild Birds CD Sleeve, and re-reading it and it’s so strange to see your name stapled on the end of it now that I know who you are. What a small small world indeed! This kind of thing always boggles my mind - much like your tape finding its way to Germany. How did you get the opportunity to write that up? I imagine it was a bit intimidating? Trying to capture the essence of Peter's past CDs in a limited space? You did a wonderful job with it …
Greg: Thanks for the compliment, though at the time, I hadn't written anything in a while and I was so rusty. You're dead right: nailing the Murphy essence over such a career was tough. Deadlines came and went and I was still procrastinating, but the end result, I think was satisfying for all parties. I had interviewed Peter several times at length back in 1988 for the cover of "Reflex,", and found him to be the kindest, most interesting interview subject I'd ever encountered (he asked me to come meet him the next day during the photo shoot and talk some more; he even requested I bring in my sizeable Bauhaus bootleg cassette collection for him to pore over). It was nice to reconnect with him, albeit via email from Turkey, and we had some nice off-topic conversations about fatherhood and gardening, if you can believe it.
As for how I got that gig, I was recommended to Beggars Banquet by a music-biz friend, Ken Weinstein, who I'd worked with during the "Reflex" years. Ken used to work in publicity for Beggars.
Blu: What bands or kinds of music do you guys listen to now?
Greg: I am and have always been
an obsessive and omnivorous music fan. My eclectic collection contains
approximately 8,000 different LPs, CDs, and 45s, of every genre and era
you can imagine. Although there's certain styles I concentrate on aside
from deathrock (mainly classic punk, new wave, alt-rock, '70s rock, '60s
pop), you might find me on any given day listening to some John Coltrane,
dub reggae, Debussy, old heavy metal, or 1930s country blues. I still follow
the old artists I always loved that still make good music, like Iggy, Neil
Young, Tom Waits. As far as modern (ie, the last decade) sounds go, my
favorites would be Suede, Jeff Buckley, Massive Attack, The Strokes, Radiohead,
Air, Elliott Smith, and Stereolab. About the only stuff I don't like is
what's chart-popular now - I loathe nu-metal, modern R&B and country,
any of the last decade's hip-hop.
Every once in awhile I'd still find a band I loved and befriended, such as New England's underrated horror-noise act Holy Cow, or Californian mystics Red Temple Spirits (who I ended up working with, doing booking and promotion for their 1990 East Coast tour), and I enjoyed seeing Shadow Project live, but in general, I missed most of the '90s as far as goth and deathrock are concerned. I still have no clue what EBM is, or what such terribly-named bands like Wumpscutt sound like, for example, but if the sort of technofied semi-industrial stuff I heard at the few "goth" clubs I visited in the '90s is any indication, it's not to my taste at all. I was guest DJ twice at a trendy goth club called Mesh here in my hometown Huntington back in 1993, and I was appalled that the clubgoers hadn't a clue when I spun Killing Joke, Misfits, or Chameleons - all they wanted to hear was Sisters, Front 242, and the like.
Thanks to internet entities like Deathrock.com
and StarVox, I am just now getting back into deathrock after this long
hiatus, so there's lots of current music I haven't heard yet. So far I
really like The Brides, my friend Will's band Duct Tape Pussy, and I am
especially impressed by Cinema Strange. I nabbed their debut from Deathrock.com
and was amazed at how such young musicians were able to authentically channel
the spirit and sound of early-'80s bands like Sex Gang and Prunes - they're
pure Batcave, and are one band who I know we would've loved back in the
old days. And though most of the Projekt stuff is too static for me, Christopher
turned me onto Love Spirals Downward a few years ago, and they've become
a favorite band for me to chill out to.
Christopher: My musical taste also runs the gamut from Cocteau Twins (still my all-time faves), PJ Harvey, Billie Holiday, to lots of various old jazz and blues. I love all types of reggae. I still love The Stooges, The Fall, The Beatles...I could fill pages.
Blu: Give me one sentence describing each other.
Greg: Christopher is mercurial, artistic, and possesses a bizarre sense of humor. David is humanistic, perceptive, and musical.
David: Tough question. First I would say that both guys are great people, kind, creative, and generous. To me, Greg is like the archivist. He's the guy you go to for knowledge - particularly musical knowledge. He's always had his feet on the ground, focused, and well tempered. There's a reason he has a lot of friends. Chris is the charismatic one. I've known Chris since we were 14 years old and he has always been able to get people's attention without trying. Both creative and talented, he's a great down to earth person.
Christopher: Very naughty, naughty boys!
Blu: What does the future hold for The Naked and the Dead?
Greg: I think it's too early to predict, since we'll have to see what it sounds like when the three of us start playing together again. Since our original vocalist is AWOL, we need to look for a replacement*, obviously female and based roughly in the NYC area (we live in Brooklyn, Long Island, and New Jersey, respectively). In the meantime we'll relearn the old songs, maybe write some new ones, and get our gear back in shape.
Is all this kinda self-indulgent? Maybe, but it's damn fun to be not only reliving the excitement of the past, but doing things with The Naked and the Dead that we weren't able to 17 years ago.
David: I'm looking forward to doing a reunion show and a few new studio recordings. We'll see where it goes from there
Blu: How can people purchase your music if they're interested?
Greg: Well, certainly we're going to recommend the StarVox compilation CD "Trinity Vol. 1.," containing "Cassandra," when issued later this year! All of our original material, in both studio and live incarnations, is available for download on MP3.com and IUMA.com.
Also available directly from me is our self-released 2001 disc The Naked and the Dead, a complete 74-minute collection including the band's four-song 1985 demo; over a dozen live tracks including our covers of "Sense of Elation," UK Decay's "Duel," and The Stooges' "Real Cool Time"; rare rehearsal tracks; and a radio interview. Since my aim is to disseminate the music rather than profit, I'm only charging $6.00 per CDR, just to cover my expenses. Intrigued parties can contact me via my email address or write to:
The Naked and the DeadIf any record companies are interested in a wider release of the 1985 material, we'd be more than willing to license it.
Blu: What websites do you have relevant to this band and/or its members?
For The Naked and the Dead proper,
there's the official site:
For Christopher's 1986-87 band The Children's
For Greg and Lorianne's bands Burning
Rome (1986) and Rawhead (1986-87)
*Post Script: Join StarVox in congratulating The Naked and the Dead's new vocalist Julia Ghoulia (of Sleepless/The Brides)