We are going back into the year to bring you an EP that was released in May of 2021, called Beautiful Hell by Orcus Nullify. Orcus Nullify is the project for Bruce Nullify who lives in South Carolina. On this EP he plays bass, guitar as well as being the vocalist, while enlisting Ant Bannister (Sounds Like Winter, Def FX) to help with drum programming. Bannister is also Mantravision Productions who mixed and produced four of the six tracks.
There is a sonic appeal of the beginning of “Beautiful Hell” the title track. An ode to those who have taken power by the throat and wield it unjustly whilst telling you it is for your own good. The guitar work very much stands out in a whirling maelstrom. Even though the drums are programmed, they sound super good on “Night Dance” and this unearthly, witching hour two step takes you away to the edge of what is real and that which exists in the night. I am going to guess “Under The Eye” was written about Trump and his administration, as he divided a country and made others unwelcome in a country they called home. The music evokes a certain circus feel, though a creepy one with a full freak show attached.
Pete Burns of Kill Shelter, produced “Fall From Faith“, a title that probably needs no explanation. I hear little bits of Southern Death Cult in this, such as the guitar riffs. A nice bit of bass playing is highlighted in “NightBird“. Again the drums harken back to something a bit more old school. The last track in “Pandemonic” is an instrumental with the voice overs that could be heard on the news in the US speaking about the shocking speed Covid-19 overran countries and that governments acted so slowly. It is the litany of missed opportunity to a sludgy drone of music.
I hear a lot of influences in this EP. From Bauhaus to Christian Death and Southern Death Cult plus a few others as well. It is gothic darkwave but I would even say this definitely crosses into deathrock as well because I think the songs would have suited Rozz Williams’ style very well. But Beautiful Hell is also an creation of it’s time, written in isolation with political tensions running high and a wish for something more eloquently dark to drag them away..
In the last few years there has been a big revival of the post-punk scene, with younger bands emerging with the older stalwarts, proving they can hold their own. London’s Ghosts Patterns are one such younger band and September of 2021 saw them drop the album Infinite, which is their debut full length, after releasing the EP Oracle in 2020. Comprised of members Terry Hale (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Somrata Sarkar (vocals), Letitia Austin (bass) and James Walker (drums/percussion), they are going to lead you away with their shoegaze filled odyssey.
This album from the get go puts you in no doubt of what the band is about. The almost instrumental,”Intro(Death Wish)” is the beginning of the sonic journey through reverb and sound sculpting with sighed ahhs. From there, we are launched into “Lie In Wait” where we are truly introduced to the vocals of Hale, that grace the guitars without feeling like a separate entity and the insistent idea of a person waiting to pounce and while they do, concentrating on their breathing. Intricate bass playing marks “Oracle” with the vocals of portent by Sarkar. Dark and brooding with glimpses of Siousxie And The Banshees both percussion wise and melody, as the mists of Apollo close in on you.
No one can live in a “House Of Lies” for it is bound to fall and this track wends its way as a snake would before it strikes, with it’s cold reptilian beauty. The guitar and drums are so perfectly in sync. There is the buildup of “Sway“, where the vocals waver between discordant and resolving, maybe imitating the unpredictable nature of walking between danger and safety. The guitars and drums never letting you lose your focus. A joyous exuberance in “Feel It Out” and everything screams out that one needs to twirl around to this, as the guitars sing out in such an uplifting manner.
“Safe” drones away and I’m not sure if they really feel any more safe with the crashing music followed by lulls and then repeated. Title track “Infinite” has an almost languid Middle Eastern quality which makes this piece even far most interesting. A warm and inviting soundscape that seems to portray an eternal factor. The final track, “Goodbye, False Dreams” swirls and pulsates with the disappointment of lost hopes then wiping them away with the wash of melodic overload.
The band have taken the tracks “Oracle” and “Infinite” from the EP for the album and honestly they are great numbers that deserve a bit more attention. The noise-scape quality is akin to the early years of Ride or The JesusAnd Mary Chain, of whom both have used wonderful melodies wrapped in sonic walls of noise. It is nice to see bands that share the vocal duties as this often can give their music a completely different sound. GhostPatterns have an obvious love of reverb and driving rhythms mixed with ambient vocals that are wistful But nothing is infinite, so make sure you check out this album..
If you drive west of Brisbane, through the beautiful countryside, you can reach Mount Nebo on the land of the indigenous Jinibara people. This is also the home of Ghostwoods, a new project by musician James Lees. Lees is better known in the scene for the more rock’n’roll style bands he drums with but he has found this didn’t quite feed his soul.
“During lockdown last year, I lost most of my work, so I had a lot of time and was pretty much isolated here at my place in Mt Nebo so the seclusion and influence of the environment throughout the winter was really strong. I had made a start on the project prior to this, but the lockdown made me turn back to the music for solace. Another element of the project is for me to do some music with my partner Karl who plays bass and some acoustic guitar – he also loves playing super-dark spooky music, so he agreed to this pretty readily!” – James Lees
There is the magical tinkling of chimes that heralds the dark tones of the slow, deep piano and cymbal that is “Dark Moon“. It might be a flute that mournfully cries like a storm bird in the night. Soon joined by an electric guitar that languidly plays as if it is somewhere on a grim bayou. Anticipation fills the air and dissipates again with chimes like the frost in the heat of a new day. There is something austere and aloof about “Spiral Up” and yet a sadness pervades throughout, until the saxophone invades to bring a sense of longing. All the while the synths swirl of pulsate beneath, a creature wanting to escape. The recording of parrots crying out at the beginning and end of the Panoptique Electrical remix of “Dark Moon” is so utterly Australian. The mix by Jason Sweeney, is such a powerful noise inspired soundscape that almost is on the edge of becoming overwhelming and yet does not. You could swear it was trying to consume the light and air around it as it becomes a vortex, circling. Final track is “Spiral Down” and this is a much more electronic in feel than “SpiralUp“, however oddly the flute in the back ground gives it an unearthly feel in combination. The morose tones of the blues sax in juxtaposition with the ground swell of electronic noise .
Though this is James Lees’ project where he played piano/synths/drums/percussion, he fortunate enough to collaborated with Mark Angel on electric guitars, Karl O’Shea on bass guitar/ acoustic guitar and who is also in the band Daylight Ghosts, as well as Andrew Saragossi playing flute/clarinet/saxophone. These are very emotive pieces created in a time of uncertainty, in a remote and timeless landscape and a lot of that seeps into music.The Ghostwoods are mysterious and once you go in, you might not come out the same way…….
If you are of the gothic ilk, you will more than likely have heard of Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry and if you haven’t then may I suggest you have been spending some time under a rock,,,,not the post-punk type. Guitarist and later lead singer, Chris Reed, along with others, formed the band in 1981 in Leeds, after the explosion of punk had filtered into the post-punk scene. Not long after, Reed invited Dave ‘Wolfie’ Wolfenden to join the band as another guitarist and together they would form the core writers of the music for The Lorries. I was fortunate enough to get to talk to Wolfie about the 80s, current plans/bands, friendships and the release of the wonderful live album GENERATE.
Thanks for talking to us today Wolfie. We often glamorize the late 70s and early 80s but was it easy being in a band like the Lorries? Um…that’s a good question. Erm, the Lorries kind of started around about 1981 but we’d all kind of been in bands. We saw the Sex Pistols in the Anarchy In The UK tour and that’s when it was all kicking off you know. Out of the whole tour there were only two dates that survived which were Leeds Poly Tech and Lincoln Derby and we had gotten tickets to see The Pistols at Leeds and that show went ahead. And it’s kind of like one of those things, everyone says they were there but in actual fact there were 250 people there and the line up was The Clash, The Damned, Johnny Thunders and The Pistols and that was £1.25 which I guess is like about a $1 and there was about 250 people there and a lot of people, sort of student kind of things, and probably, i don’t know, about 12 punks or 12 people wearing safety pins or 12 people who had paint splattered on their shirts and it got covered by the local press and they absolutely savaged it. And more than musically, more culturally, it was a significant event, although you knew that you were seeing something you’d never ever seen before.
The Pistols were good but the things that kind of really blew our socks off were The Clash and The Damned and all this kind of myth that punk rockers couldn’t play was absolute bullshit because you know the The Damned were, you know, a ferocious force in those days and The Clash were ferocious and they could clearly play, they could clearly play. They had put their time into learning their instruments and it was just amazing to witness, that was like watching something like a bomb go off and we just kind of could sorta play guitars but ah not to a good standard but we could do bad Thin Lizzy versions or Kiss but when we saw the Pistols and The Clash we thought this is what we must do and that’s what we did.
We formed a silly punk band and then it kind of went on from there. I think that was very true for most of the punk rock contingency in Leeds and across the UK that The Pistols were a kind of catalyst not just for music but for ideas and particularly for bands like The Slits who didn’t play in an orthodox way but because they didn’t it made them even more interesting and you never would have heard ideas brought to so many people if punk rock had not started and those ideas challenged most ideas about music, particularly with bands around like Emerson Lake and Palmer and Yes if you know what I mean…. It really challenged people’s ideals, I think that was the significant thing about it was that it empowered people who thought they didn’t have a voice or the ability to believe that they could create something worthy and perhaps something lasting or fun.
It’s amazing that The Damned are still going and that they still sound so amazing on stage. Well yeah, they are a terrific rock’n’roll band. A testament to them. You see them live and they don’t have any backing tapes going, so there is no standard for them to play, they just play.. Yeah absolutely, it’s old school and that is how it should be you know, that’s how they learnt their trade.
How did you first become associated with Chris Reed? Well I’d been playing in a band in Leeds called Expelaires and we were signed to the same label as the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes and we did a single and some records and we kind of did okay and we played with A Gang Of Four and the Mekons and, you know, we did okay and eventually it kind of burnt itself out and we weren’t going nowhere or there were no deal. And then we kind of drifted apart and I had a year off. Chris came to the last gig and said, you know I’ve got this band, would you like to play? I really like your guitar playing and I said, not at the moment, I’m pissed off with this and don’t want to do it anymore. I spent 4 years on this and got nowhere, so I spent a year getting drunk and then he asked me again and I met him and I think they had done their second single and a Peel session and he played me the recording of and I thought wow that is fucking great. That is what I want to do and so I lined up pretty well really.
It really has been very mush a friendship for you two really hasn’t it? Yes, yes, yes, he’s had a tough time recently but you know the knowledge that he passed on, you know I owe him a debt but we have shared a long friendship, so I guess it has been fairly reciprocal that we learnt off of each other. He was the first person I ever met that was a real songwriter and we all kind of thought that writing songs was kind of jamming and out of luck maybe 10 ideas and maybe 2 were worthy of being called a song but we weren’t song writers. Chris, you know, was the first person I ever met that could sit down with an acoustic guitar and play like a four chord song from beginning to end with all the words and with all the melodies and I thought, this guy, who the fuck is this guy? Is he Bob Dylan or something you know?! And he has a god given talent, he really really has and he can do it without thinking and he’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. I just wish that he realise that.
So he (Chris Reed) is a very reserved person? He’s incredibly reserved, you know. He came to see us play a while ago, he’s not in a particularly good place at the moment, you know but people are pretty pleased to see him when he socialises, he seems to have this massive self doubt which I think a lot of truly talented people do but the joy and enjoyment that has been given to lots of people through his music and The Lorries, took us around the world and changed our lives. He’s turned a lot of good jobs down really…really a lot down but hopefully he’ll get in a better place and hopefully we can resurrect the band, but when he’s good he’s very good but when he’s bad he’s very naughty.
Obviously Red Lorry Yellow Lorry have a very loyal fan base and maybe Chris is a bit reticent to say so, would you say yourself and he are proud of the music that has stood the test of time? I think he’s slightly fragile right now. We’re amazed that people still like it really. When you are doing this, looking into the eye of the storm it could be cooking or painting or writing, you aren’t really aware of how good it is. It’s only with hindsight and time that you can perhaps look back with affection or some kind of pride but people still seem to like it and I think that is a testament to his song writing. In the same way a Johnny Cash song stilll sound great. We always said that it is always about the song and he always put the song first and he always tried to play to the song. I mean in essence we kind of wanted to be like the MC5 but play like songs that were as good as Motown. They were the two main influences really, I mean really we liked the energy of the MC5 but we couldn’t play like that but we also loved the songwriting skills of Motown, so we both had a love of that. So that was kind of our attempt to marry the two, putting them together and it came out sounding like The Lorries.
Leeds and a lot of the northern cities were veritable hot beds for the post punk/gothic scene. Do you think the politics at the time, such as Thatcherism, Falkland war, general lack of jobs and the bleak out look of possible nuclear annihilation had anything to do with the new movement and did it shape your music? I think it definitely did. In the same way all the things that we liked came from Detroit, you know it’s a pretty rough city to live in and it definitely shaped the music in Detroit unconsciously and I think the times that we lived in Leeds no one had any money. People were signing on and getting benefits from the government and trying to get by and the only real way out of it was either, other than get a real job, was to become a footballer or try and be half decent in a band. And I don’t know, you kind of messing about in your bedroom and say wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could take this music around the world and we actually, you know we kept with it and we kept going and we kept hopefully getting better and better. Made an album and that did pretty well, got a chance to go to America and these things started falling into place but it were never planned like that, we just though let’s just play the music and whatever follows at least we kept true to that ethos really and it almost worked, (laughing) it almost worked. For some of us it did work. It still resonates with a lot of us today, the music. Yeah the tunes still sound good.
GENERATE was released recently, which is mostly a live album with a few rare studio recordings that were on a limited CD release at a couple of gigs. Why did you decide in 2021 to release GENERATE? Well on The Lorries fan-club page on Facebook, quite a lot of people had been saying, you know, has anyone got any live recordings, has anyone got any live recordings and I think like a lot of bands, there is a lot of really bad recordings but you kind convince yourself that they are half decent probably because you were there and probably because you were in an altered state but that don’t mean it was good. Someone sent me that gig in Frankfurt, is the best recording of the band that we had ever heard and you know it just seemed kind of fortuitous and good timing and then you think sod it, it’s no good stuck in a cupboard or a wardrobe, might as well get it out there. And hopefully people will like it and we are quite proud of it and we managed to play okay that night!
It’s actually a really amazing recording because it is so clear. You get some live recordings and the quality is quite horrendous. Yeah, I know. We were just very lucky. It was a venue that we had played a few times in Germany and Germany was very good to The Lorries and we always loved playing the Batschkapp in Frankfurt and the sound engineer had the good sense to put a cassette in the machine and have two ambient mics on. He gave us a cassette at the end of the show, we played it and we thought well that’s not too shabby and then nothing happened with it and it had been in someone’s cupboard for years and then I got a copy then I had it mastered and chopped into individual songs. It seemed good timing to put it out, not a full stock but a kind of reminder of tours, that we can sound okay.
It did sound wonderful. Would you ever consider releasing another album under The Lorries name? Well there is another album. It’s finished. Completely finished and two of the tracks on the EP are from that album but the mixes are all pretty good but never finalized but they are monitor mixes but they are good monitor mixes. The two tracks that are from that EP are from the album and there are twelve songs all together, so there are another ten that have never been released that are of that standard to be released. But without Chris’ consent no one feels comfortable about doing it, as it should as it is his band and if he gets in a better place, hopefully it will come out, it’s a pretty basic rock’n’roll album, there isn’t much technology on the album, it’s just us playing. And I think it sounds good for that and it’s a very dry recording and you can hear everything so hopefully it will come out.
Hopefully it will because that would be brilliant. That takes me on to something else. In the 80s, you and Chris did an interview where you talked about the drum machine you used as well as having a drummer and saying you were more into analogue music and that you controlled the drum machine and the drum machine didn’t control you. I don’t know.. I could see me saying it but I don’t think it’s true. You know the drum machine was a pain in the arse to be honest. You know, say we were going to the studio for two weeks, we’d spend ten days doing the drums and like the rest of the time doing the vocals and guitars. The drum programming took up 75% of The Lorries time in the studio but it was something Chris really really wanted to do and it was a pain in the arse! It really really was. We should have gotten a great drummer and we did have a great drummer (laughing) and sadly he joined The Mission and we were stuck using this hybrid of using the drum machine and real drummer, which live was okay but when we wanted to do it in the studio, we’d end up resampling and triggering and recording…and it took fucking ages and it was really boring. And then when we had done that we could have some fun and get the guitars out but it really was a labour of love. It really was.
Do you find that today’s technology makes it so much more accessible to using electronics? Yeah, absolutely. There was no real easy way to do it then. We used the drum machine, sometimes we used a multi track tape machine and a drum kit, so you’d end up with like 20 channels of drums and then you have to sound check all this shit, the drums were taking the bulk of the time. But when it sounded good, it sounded good, you know the GENERATE live album is purely a drummer and that’s why I like it. We just went out on that tour and said fuck this, we’re just going to play it live and I think that what was nice to hear to prove that we could play like a band without a life support machine because that’s what it felt like it had become. Like a life support machine that we were afraid to ditch.
Recently you teamed up with Caroline Blind, ex-lead singer of Sunshine Blind to create the project Voidant. The self titled album is not the gothic/post-punk fare that we are used to from either of you. Could you please explain the premise behind it? Well Caroline asked me to do some guitar for her on a Lorries song. She did a version of Heaven and I had been working with the guys from The Wake as well and I had started doing kind of trip hop stuff at home, stuff I could do by myself you know, just on the computer with some basic synths and I kind of make a basic tune and I said would you be interested in doing this? It’s not goth, it not..I don’t know what it is. I guess it’s kind of trip hop. And she said yeah I’ve done similar kind of things with Sunshine Blind. So the first one we did was called Death To Sleep and that turned out good and I carried on working and most of it at during Covid, both of us were at home for a year. I’d kind of be doing all the electronic backing tracks and sending them to her and then she would come up with a rough idea of the melody and the lyrics and then I took them away to a studio in Manchester where it was all edited and stuck together by a trusted friend who threw all the shit bits and kept the good bits and I trust his judgement and I think he got it right. Yeah I think it is what it is, you know, we are pretty pleased with it. It’s not what I’ve done before but that was good because we didn’t know. It’s like baking a cake but not knowing what it tastes like at the end. I think we are pretty pleased with it.
You should be pleased with it. It was a really interesting record and it also kind of points to some of your influences in regards to the covers, the tastes in music when you were young. So who did influence you when you were young? When I was a kid, my brother was a teddy boy! Like I was born in ’56 so I’m pretty old and my brother was a teddy boy. He was into rock’n’roll, we had a mono record player there in the corner and I grew up listening to Little Richard and Chuck Berry. So that’s where I got the love of rock’n’roll was from my brother and it was a good time for pop music and the first records that I bought was You Really Got Me by The Kinks, Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones and Spirit In The Sky. And I just thought what the fuck is this noise, what the fuck is going on with this.. this noise is amazing! And it’s only later I found out that they were using a thing called a fuzz-box which made everything sound amazing so I thought this would be quite good fun to do this but I don’t know how to play the guitar (laughing). So eventually I learned, you know I had quite a good grounding in music with my brother and there was a lot of good pop music around at the time with The Small Faces and The Kinks and The Stones, you know a pretty exciting time for everyone with things like The Yard Birds all sort of like this sonic architecture that has always fascinated me the same way the Voidant thing fascinates me. You know the sonic architecture. The Lorries to a certain extent, we never really wanted the guitars to sound like a rock’n’roll band. Chris always described the songs as being like ballads and I kind of think in a sense he’s right. They are kind of torch songs, you know love songs and then (laughing) we fuck it up. So there is a lovely song underneath it and then we fuck it up with a load of noise and that’s how we did it.
Who now do you find inspiration from or enjoy listening to? I’ve always been a fan of bands like The Young Gods, really really lovely young blokes from Switzerland, Ministry I’ve always been a fan of, Killing Joke, I’ve always been a Hendrix fan, Bowie particularly the Mick Ronson era and before that The Kinks and The Yard Birds. It’s kind of cool anything that sounds interesting sonically. I band I loved from the 70s was a band called The Ground Hogs, a band with really amazing guitar playing. Things that really make your ears pop and you think that’s really interesting and how did they do that?! Someone like Radiohead is still really interesting sonically, they have that ability to make you think that’s cool, how did they do that? Things that kind of challenge your idea of what music is I think. I’ve always been a fan of blues I think.
So you like the mixture of guitar being sonic but also the mixture of the electronic industrialized sound as well? Yeah that seems to be something easier to do at home so it’s kind of where I’m at now. You know you don’t need a bunch of other people to do that, you can do it at home so.. Synths and things can create sounds that a guitar can’t and a guitar player can do things that a synth can’t. As long as you have got a slot, you can fuck it up as much as you like which is where the fun is really, as in splashing the colours around and hopefully there is a song in there somewhere.
It seems to be Covid has brought a lot more of this style of music out in bands. I’ve seen a lot more acts in lockdown where there is a lot more industrial or synth related music coming out now and it’s actually a very exciting time. Is this where Voidant is coming from and where do you see Voidant going in the future? Well I think we do have a plan for another EP. We did want to do it before Christmas but I don’t know whether we will. My music room I’m just decorating so I don’t have any equipment set up but we have got some ideas for songs. Interestingly enough Caroline came over when she played Whitby. She stayed with us and she’s a really big fan of Zakk Wylde and I can see he’s a terrific guitar player although his music isn’t something I would listen to but there is one Zakk Wylde song that we both agree on that we’d like to do a cover of in a 4AD kind of ideal and it’s this song called Spoke In The Wheel which I think is a fucking great song because you know it’s a really great song. I think we are going to have a bash at that and there is a song I want her to sing but we’ll come up with something else. It’s not done yet and promised another EP, Shooting Stars Only I want her to sing but it will be different to The Lorries version. So that is to be done. I think hopefully to get better at it and you know carry on, you know cause it’s what we do and it’s what makes us feel alive I think.
So the EP is coming up, might not make it by Christmas but it’s definitely coming and if Chris Reed gets back on track, then maybe a Lorries album coming out, which would be very exciting. It would be great and we have spoken to him about it, but he’s not in a situation to commit but then again he isn’t saying no, which we can kind of take as encouraging because he’s not saying no, he’s just saying I can’t do it at the moment. So we’ll just have to see really but I think when someone isn’t too well, the worst thing you can do is to pressure someone, we try to stay in touch and encourage him. I think he is coming out to see the glam rock show at Christmas and he’s pretty supportive of that and you know it’s just good to talk to him really. He definitely needs supporting through a difficult time.
If that’s the case, what else do you see for one David Wolfie Wolfenden going in to the future? Ah, well to finish decorating my studio and get all the boxes plugged in. I’m working on some music with my partner Fiona, who is a great singer. So there will be that, the Expelairs, the Voidant thing, hopefully The Lorries and this band our little glam rock’n’roll project which at the moment is covers but it would be fun to write some new glam rock songs. It would certainly would be fun trying and it’s fun dressing up anyway. You know it’s good fun really. I think anything that lifts people really, you know in the middle of Covid can only be good and music can do that and we all need the shared experience and we all need a connection and we all need to feel we are all working towards a common goal, all these things we are talking about like Chris and Caroline, they are connections that are worth maintaining and persevering with even though times are difficult.
Recently we reviewed the full length album, Isolated And Alone by Schkeuditzer Kreuz, which is a journey in some ways, into the mind of the man behind SK, Kieren Hills. How did this power house record come into being and what makes Hills tick?Read on and find out……..
Welcome to the weird side Kieren Hills. You started off in the punk scene. What drew you to this music?
I first got into punk some point in the 80s when I was a teenager, starting with some of the more standard, commercial bands like the Clash/Sex Pistols etc and then delving deeper form there. All the time I was looking for music that sounded “more” – angrier, louder, more real, more intense. I didn’t want to hear anything nice but at the same time didn’t know what I wanted. I lived in town in New Zealand where the access to such things were kind of limited. I am not exactly sure what the first “industrial” song I heard was but it may well have been AFFCO by The Skeptics. A song that is musically intense but also had a pretty full-on video that was played about once on TV and then was banned. It resonated with me quite strongly and I loved the driving rhythm of it and the noise and the heart behind it. From there I started looking out for more industrial stuff as well as punk stuff. I didn’t see the two as separate really. They were different ways of expressing anger through sonic violence and aural assault and they both worked for me. Punk had always been (to me) more about energy than talent – not that you can’t have talent but if your music was more about showcasing your abilities than getting out your frustrations then it seemed to miss the point for me. And that feeling seemed to flow in the industrial stuff I was hearing – it was a raw release of energy, not the showing off of chops. So, most of the early industrial bands I saw – Cell, Invisible Dead, Children’s Television Workshop etc were slightly older (than me) punks who had just gone in a slightly different direction – away from guitars and more towards performance and making their own stuff.
Congratulations on not only the new SK album but also the new Dark Horse album as well. You always seem to be involved in a project, so how many are you currently a part of and will the gothic/post punk Death Church also be recording again?
Thanks! Right now I am mainly doing SK and Dark Horse. Darkhorse has been around for somewhere over a decade and I have been in it for 7 years or so. In normal times we play a lot, tour a lot, and release a record every couple of years. These times are not normal, so we are a bit stuck. Normally we would be overseas this year. SK is a full-time thing. I work on it almost every day. I will run through my songs at least once a day and when I am developing a set for tour that gets upped to twice a day. I also make the music videos, compose the art, write the songs, do all the booking and communication and all the other stuff that a band needs to do, and it takes a lot of time. I am not complaining here – it is just true that if you do a solo thing that wants to release and play a lot, it takes a heap of work. I have recently started jamming with a couple of friends with an intention towards Japanese metal/punk kind of stuff. It remains to be seen how much time I can put into that though. Once Dark Horse really kicks off again and SK is in full flight it might not leave a lot of down time.
As for Death Church – it is definitely dead. We never wanted to do anything with different members, or any kind of lineup change so with a guitarist in NZ, a singer in melbourne and a drummer doing her own thing, it is definitely over. It was a fun ride though.
Is Industrial music something you have always been interested in or has it been a music that you have found yourself being draw to?
As mentioned before – I saw industrial as an extension of punk. Most of the people I met who were doing it when I was young were punks who were a generation or two older than me who had gone that direction via the likes of Butthole Surfers, Big Black etc and the Neubauten, Laibach etc side of stuff kind of came to them and me later even if they were working on similar ideas. Obviously, there was no internet then to find music on and those European experimental records just didn’t turn up in NZ very often. But I always loved what I heard when people were getting percussive and experimental with their sound. My first attempt at actually starting an industrial band was with Glenn Maltby and a couple other friends in the 90s. It was never going to work though. Already the ideas of what industrial was had diverged sufficiently that we didn’t have as much common ground – from Insurge to ministry to NIN, Consolidated or whatever, industrial was entering into popular music and was getting more refined and more defined. And that has continued to where industrial can mean anything from a person beating a piece of sheet metal to club music with slightly harsher/more attacking drum tones than what you might hear at a mainstream nightclub.
Something I was pondering the other day – Punk is a noun. And it gets a bunch of adjectives attached to it: crust, hardcore, pop etc.
Industrial is really an adjective which gets attached to various nouns – dance, metal, hip hop, goth etc
This may seem like a pretty wanky thing to spend time pondering but the reality of it shows in the way that people react. People who like punk will often check out anything that comes under that heading. People who like one kind of industrial often have no time at all for other types of industrial. So, whereas punk community pages (for example) often have hundreds of comments and reactions to every post. Industrial pages usually have nothing at all. Because it is not a community, but just a description of different factions of other communities.
You lived in Germany for a time and that is where you got the name Schkeuditzer Kreuz. Can you tell uswhat is the Schkeuditzer Kreuz and why you decided on this as a project name?
If you are driving from Berlin, south, on Autobahn 9 and want to turn onto the 14 to go Leipzig, the intersection where you would do this is Schkeuditzer Kreuz – literally the kreuz (cross) near the town of Schkeuditz. I was making that trip once (in the opposite direction) and I drunkenly said to my friend who I was in the back of the car with that I would call a band that one day. So I did. It is also the oldest autobahn cross in Europe but that is pretty irrelevant. Before I called it that, I did make sure there wasn’t any particularly fucked history attached to it. I did not want to call my rather silly band after a place which had war atrocities associated with it or anything like that. But no. It doesn’t. It is just an intersection. Every now and then I will run into some random German who is somewhat perplexed as to why I would name my band after an intersection, and I never have a satisfactory answer for them. They usually buy a record from me anyway.
There was a lot of Laibach influence on the first EP with the more pronounced pomp but Isolated And Alone feels a little more raw. Does it feel that way for you and was part of the frustration being in lockdown for periods of time due to covid?
In between the Give Me Nothing EP and the LP I did the D-Beat Raw Synth Punk EP and I think some of the attitude I took into that one came across into the LP. There is more noise, more anger, more distortion and more layers of synth and samples. The Give Me Nothing EP is relatively sparse in comparison, I think. Even the songs that I used on both have changed in that way. I have no idea if my next recording will continue that way or not. I have two new songs in my set now that are not on any records and not only do they not really fit in with either sound, they are not even that similar to each other. I think when I find a bit more time to sit and write I will find a direction to head in next. Give Me Nothing was interesting for me – I was learning the machines I was using and working out how I wanted to express myself with them. I still have a lot to learn but I think I have developed a bit of a workflow. Each song on the GMN EP was written in a completely different way from the others as I tried new things. I hope not to get too settled though. There are a million things I don’t know about making noise and I want to try all of them.
Did you find writing and recording the album easy or was it a labour of love?
Musically, it is not so much easy as natural. I have always written songs in my head along to the sounds I hear around me – that could be the sound of musical instruments but could also be the pumping of the coffee machine, the sound of a train I am sitting on, the slight misalignment in the wheels of my car, the cracking of the machines in a factory I used to work at or the beep beep beep of a laser level. I would write riffs in my head to them. But now I also created the beats based on them. Some songs start with something that is actually musical – a synth line or whatever, but more often than not it is with a percussive pattern which I will put noise or voice samples to, to give it direction. Sometimes this is something traditionally musical – for example on Traitor I had a melody I had recorded on my phone of the painfully loud music played from the Tannoy in the street outside of a funeral in Siem Reap in Cambodia. It is piercing and confronting and played so that everyone in the neighborhood knows the funeral is happening. I had recorded this years ago and then looped it and based the whole speed and layout of the song on that loop. Other times it might be downloaded field recordings that other people have made – from factories, in the street, in conversation…. recently I found some recordings from the deck of a North Sea oil rig and wrote a song around them. From there I will follow up with synth lines – bass, melody (sort of melody anyway), drone etc. For each synth part I will create the sound from scratch. I use an analog synth, so I start with that single wave sound and develop it until I have what I want using both the inbuilt stuff on the synth and the array of distortion pedals I use. In the end – the hard bit is the vocals. I don’t think of myself as a singer. I struggle with my lyrical output. But I have worked out a way to at least write words I can live with and then I vocalise them. I think this is probably the weakest part of my sound but I am coming to terms with it.
The most punk thing in the world is to be found to be subversive by a Communist country, however it must have been galling to have your original pressing of Isolated and Alone confiscated by the Chinese government.
Fuck but this was so weird. I had the records pressed through a broker in Melbourne who uses a pressing plant in China. So we went through the process – sent them my master and they cut it to their stamper plates and sent me the test presses. I was happy enough with them and asked them to continue (all standard up to this point) and then a couple weeks later I got a phone call – the factory had pressed my records and boxed them up to send but before they were sent, they were inspected by some official or another who decided that due to content they were not suitable for export. So they destroyed the lot. Everything. I have heard words like “subversive content” and similar but who really knows? They didn’t like it so I couldn’t have it. So we started again from scratch. New plates, new tests, new records. In the end I am just happy to have them in my hands.
Punk and industrial seem to have, for the most part become the social conscience of the music scene. How do you think this came about and does it resonate with you?
The politics of punk is what got me in there and kept me there. And industrial for me has the same feel. I don’t mean big P politics necessarily – just some kind of social conscience and attitude. Angry music without a conscience is just a temper tantrum and doesn’t hold my attention for long. This is not to say that every song must be a specific political doctrine. There are definitely SK songs that are quite personal but they are still aware of how the personal crosses over to the political.
The proceeds of the album sales are going to a charity that helps and support young Trans people. Tell us about this and what other causes you find yourself drawn to.
Yeah, all digital proceeds go to Transcend. Transcend is run by a wonderful woman named Beck in Melbourne who has been helping young trans people for many years now. I have met her personally a few times at various events but known of her for longer. She and her family are a large part of the reason for some of the trans positive law reform of the last few years. Trans people, and particularly trans youth, are often left out of any conversation on the rights of the population so I figured I would do my small amount to help. I have been involved in various causes over the years both through my music and through my actions – refugee assistance, trans support, anti-racism work, pro-choice advocacy. Mostly stuff where my big mouth and (where necessary) big body can help back up people whose voice is being ignored.
What music formed your formative years and by progression, who do you find now inspires you?
First band I really got into was The Clash. And I still love them now. Although some of my feeling for them has changed – when I first heard them, they seemed quite shouty and punk or whatever. What I really appreciate about them though, and how their influence has stuck with me over the years was their willingness to try different things and go in different musical directions and to create new sounds. From there I went through the normal run of punk bands that one does – Sex Pistols, Exploited, Siouxsie, SLF etc until one day in about 1987 when I was in hospital for an extended visit and one night nurse turned up with a tape he had made for me from a punk radio show – this opened my eyes to so much amazing music – Subhumans, Conflict, and Crass for a start but also bands like Puke from Sweden and then further down into European hardcore. I guess that was a pretty life changing moment for a 15 year old. Now days I feel I am getting inspired by something new every day. All the time I am coming across so much amazing music being made by people from around the world. From grindcore like Self Deconstruction (Japan) to evil doomy sludgy stuff like Religious Observance or Whitehorse (Melbourne) to dark curst bands like Ego (Germany) or black metal like Black Kirin and Zuriaake from China to weirdness out of the States like Hustler or whatever. Pretty much not a day goes past where someone doesn’t go “hey Kieren – check this!” and there is always something incredible attached. There is so much amazing music being created right now and most of it is available directly from the bands on their Bandcamp.
You have tour dates established for the East Coast of Australia, so what will be the plans for SK after the tour? Will there be another album and/or were there rumblings about touring overseas at some point?
So, yeah, after the tour… I am not sure. I really want to go and play in Europe. I have toured there with various hardcore bands I have been in, but I would very much like to take SK over there. Of course, that depends on what happens with the virus though. If it starts to settle, I will start looking at booking shows there. I am trying not to put too much mental energy into that yet though. Likewise, I was going to go to NZ but that is out for now. I want to add more to my Australian travels. I haven’t been to Tasmania or W.A with SK yet so will get that happening. My next recording I am not sure what I will do with that. Maybe a split with someone inappropriate. Maybe an ill advised single. I don’t really know. But I will keep going and keep creating stuff until it becomes too much like work and then I will stop. Can’t see that happening in a hurry though.
Thank you so very much for your time and looking forward to the latest tour!
A new single has dropped for Norwegian band, Painted Romans called “In The Hour Of Fear“. Thomas Sejnæs (bass), Jan Ottar Nystad (keyboards) and original member Mats Davidsen (vocals, guitar, drum programming) making up the dark, post-punk/pop styling that is Painted Romans, who have been active since 2007 with an array of albums but are finding their niche in the renewed interest in post-punk.
Oh my, Davidsen is giving us the deep and gravelly gothic vocal treatment along with those 80s inspired guitars and hooks. The synths give a mysterious air in the background while the guitars chime out, unmissable and constant. Lyrically there almost seems to be a list of the types of people found in a horror movie, the types that get picked off one by one by some mysterious entity.
I love the guitar work in this because jangly guitar is very much a staple of the post-punk scene, though vocally I was reminded of the deep male vocals of many of the early 90s European goth bands. So, you might not be in need of a fright or even a bite but there is always time “In The Hour Of Fear“.
Sometimes you are privileged enough to meet extraordinary people who are talented, make a difference in the world around them and most importantly are very human. Kieren Hills is definitely one of those rare humans. From Lawson, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, he runs the label Dorfpunk, Dark Horse is his crust punk project, he has turned his hand to gothic fare with DeathChurch and has been involved in the music industry for a fair while. Schkeuditzer Kreuz is his one man industrial project and the first full length album, Isolated And Alone, was released on the 14th of December, which is a follow up to the EP, Give Me Nothing. I once described the music style as very Laibach and it still is but those harsh elements of industrial are very much present.
The song that kicks this off is the single “Broken“. From the start, you are going into Hills’ world with the warning that this is the representation of a brief psychotic episode. Massive reverb flies with the static, consuming your ears as the vocals savage your brain. It is the explanation of an episode where everything is over stimulating, you don’t want to die but the effort to actually live seems far too hard. The klaxons hail in “Warning” that has the drum machine pounding away as the music blares in.
All shall be reduced to the same particles of dust when the “Wraith” comes. The synths are almost ear bleeding in their pitch and give a sensation of dysphoria. All is lost as love and hope are wiped away to be replaced with fear and ultimately nothing. “State Violence State Control” has the blaring sirens of Australian emergencies services screaming in the background (so this is not the sort of song I will play in the car while driving because it always scares the crap out of me!!). If the title is familiar, that is because it is a cover of punk legends, Discharge, who are the godfathers of d-beat and this was also released on a split single but since then reworked and mastered for the album. It is every bit as angry as the original version, in electronic form, throwing two finger in the air to politicians, cronies and violent suppression of the masses.
Normally an interlude is a short piece to give the audience a break with some light music, that then soon gets back to the main entertainment or a bridge. “Interlude” is the interlude you are going to get and you better just hunker down and stick to the programme. It starts lightly enough with flowing synths before the rhythm picks up and Kieren informs you – It’s happened before It’s happened before And millions have died And millions have died And millions have died And millions of people have died. A warning that history is repeating itself because people either don’t want to see it or don’t educate themselves. The vocals bring forth visions of holocausts, military coups/enforcement, genocide and war.
Full of loathing and dark thoughts is “Disappointment” starting slowly and picks up speed as the those thoughts become a swirling overload. There is a beautiful synth line hidden within if one listens closely. It is like a veritable scream of fury into the aether, with the metallic beats. When someone refused to go to war because they were a conscientious objector, they were called cowards and “Traitors” to their country because they didn’t want to carry a gun and kill their own kind. Their is an urgency to this track like life itself depends on movement. Fittingly, the “Last Dance” is the final track and the track about finality. When the end comes will you have the last embracing waltz into the darkness? So I guess in a way though it sounds bleak there is a romantic side to it as well.
I am privileged to call this man a friend though I had seen him live before I had met him. In short his show blew us away. He is warm and charming, loves his family, music and pottering around in his garden because it brings him closer to nature. These things are also his sanctuary from the world and especially the last two years have been mentally difficult for many people.
100% of proceeds from digital sales will go to Transcend to help create a world where Trans, Gender Diverse and Non-Binary children are embraced and given every opportunity to thrive and flourish – the man has a beautiful heart and a keen ear.
Get in quick if you want the vinyl or cassette as they always go fast. Just to prove how hard core Schkeuditzer Kreuz truly are, the original pressings of the vinyl were done in China, finished and then confiscated after some complete and utter bastard had a listen, ending up in the whole batch being deemed subversive. That is so punker that thou. It’s an emotional roller-coaster but its well worth every moment and maybe you will find it as cathartic as Kieren Hills does because in the end we are not so Isolated And Alone.
We seem to ending the year with an explosion of great gothic fare and New York’s Crimson Brûlée released their debut EP onto the world on December the 7th. Gustavo Lapis Ahumada explained how the band came about…
It was early 2019, Billy Keith and I were sitting around in the studio listening to tracks from our new EP at the time, “Don’t Let Go”. As we listened, the idea of incorporating keyboards into our band “The Witch-Kings” came up. There was only one person that came to mind and that was Nicole Eres from my first band “Bitter Grace”.
Sadly, halfway into the night it had become obvious that the chemistry wasn’t there. Out of respect for our brothers in “The Witch-Kings” we decided just to assemble another project keeping the Kings intact along with its dark, heavy-handed guitar-only vibe.
Nicole, Billy, and I got together to play and it was magic. We then chose Crimson Brûlée as the official name. After the departure of our bassist, Johan, we picked up Jaime Filomio on bass and then Oscar Arias on guitars later on.
The synergy and the tunes were fantastic – more melodic and brighter, yet painfully melancholic. Then in early 2021, we got word that Johan had passed away. A real tough loss, as he was a brilliant musician and one of the coolest cats ever.
We spent the latter half of 2020 through 2021 recording our EP “Tragica” which was released in December. The EP is dedicated to Johan. It is important to us to play live shows in 2022.
“I Came Back To You” is the first single to be lifted from the EP and it is has one of those really joyous choruses that belies the actual horrifying reality that someone forgave the person that they love of any misdemeanor. Talk about a suffering for love. But this really is a jewel of a song with the female backing vocals and wonderful guitars. The ominous electronics bring in the monstrous “Nothing Dies Forever“. This is goth and roll with all the trimmings of horror references and undying love.
There is the brooding darkness of what has been in “Restrained” while you will endeavour to find “Where Tarantulas Roam” which is yet another corker of song. The rhythm section is heavy and fluid while there is is a sublime mix of synths and vocals, an unholy religious experience. “Why I Wear Black” is probably the most electronic heavy of all the tracks as the synths duel with the guitars. It reminds me a lot of the movie The Lost Boys with the vampire references and the struggles of a vampire hunter.
The rest of the EP contains four radio friendly edited versions of the first four songs or in other words shortened versions. In a way it is a shame to cut these tracks back as they are good the way they stand. After all no one told Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was too long and Andrew Eldritch decided “Temple of Love” should get a twelve minute remix and both always fill dance floors. I can hear why there is the comparison to The Awakening both vocally and musically. The combination of electronics with solid guitars and those strong vocals just ticks all the boxes. This is a really strong debut and gothic rock is undead and doing it with style.
Industrial music actually covers a lot of scope, from heavy dance music to experimental, ambient noise and this is where we introduce British band, Decommissioned Forests. So far there have only been singles released by the three men behind the project, though the latest single, “Ants Part 1” will be on their debut album Industry.
From the start you can hear the undeniable homage to Coil in their spoken word phase and Rael’s utterances are uncannily like the late John Balance. Ants Part 1 (Our Last Supper) is just over nine minutes long and is like a dissonant journey that seems pleasant, yet the lyrics are the disembodied oddities of strange and disturbing sequences. The one running thread is the ants running riot over the picnic as they transcend the existence of this plane it seems. The band agreed the track “Functional Programming For Humans” was their favourite to play in the studio.The low tones almost could the far off church organ while the quirky sounds could be firing synapses while the commentary is how not feel any emotion like an automaton unless it is turned on. Grand soundscape with cold barren wept vistas. The last song is “Base” and the first bars start like a droning sea shanty though this drone is sinister and full of loathing as the piano enforces it’s disappointment.
Decommissioned Forests (is) the result of friendships going back to the beginnings of this century and a shared love of the darker post-industrial world of Coil, Current 93, Cabaret Voltaire and Nurse With Wound. In this collaboration, Daniel Vincent (of cult space rockers The Resonance Association) handles the music, ably abetted by Howard Gardner (the multi-media artist behind Non-Bio, Pillars of Golden Misery and Down With Freedom), whilst the vocals are channeled by Max Rael (the lynch pin of post-industrial noiseniks History of Guns) – Decommissioned Forests bio says it better than I can. You can hear those influences so clearly in the music these guys create and there is definitely a passion for the genre. There is a timelessness in a way to Decommissioned Forests, not only the themes but expressions of love, loss, life and always the ants.
Black Doldrums are from London and since their inception, self released their first EP, before signing to ClubC30 and releasing two EPs on that label in 2018. 2021 saw the duo sign to Fuzz Club Records, become a trio and now fans are eagerly awaiting the debut album, Dead Awake, but in the meanwhile the first single has been dropped this month called “Sad Paradise“.
I am just going to put it out there, these guys could have listened to a lot of Joy Division and lead singer, KevinGibbard’s vocals are a dead ringer for Ian Curtis. Like Curtis, his voice is deep and emotive which spoke to a legion of young people of the day and still does. A song about watching people float through life without really leaving anything remarkable to show for their existence. The music is glorious and pulls at your heart imperceptibly with the guitar chiming out and the driving rhythm section. Some of the progressions reminded me a lot of EchoAnd The Bunnymen or Jesus and Mary Chain which is never a bad thing with the psychedelic swirling guitar noise.
Jared Artaud of Vacant Lots, who are also on Fuzz Club, produced and mixed the new album, which is due for release in March 2022 and so far he has done a sterling job. So we wait to hear this debut album but if the single is indicative, it’s going to be a lush affair.