From whence Robin Hood made his name, we can find the Nottingham gothic group, In Isolation and to celebrate fifteen years of making music, under this moniker, they have compiled an album with twenty-eight of their songs. That is a lot of music! All four members of the group have been in notable goth bands in the 1990s, so introducing Ryan Swift (vocalist/guitars), John Berry (guitar), Mike Sinclair (bass) and Tony Ghost (drums/percussion). This bunch of likely lads have indeed also written music for/or had music chosen, for both movies and television, which isn’t a bad accomplishment for some Notts boys. Their music is beautiful and contemporary, with fingers trailing back into In Isolation’s gothic roots and I was able to ask a few pertinent questions of the band, with the wonderful Ryan (congrats on getting married!!), answering for the whole. What makes a band like In Isolation tick?…. apart from antioxidants, you will have to keep reading to find out all about everything.

Welcome to the crypt, British goth-meisters, In Isolation. There is tea and biccies, but don’t mind the spiders, they just get a little grumpy when ignored.

Thanks for the biscuits, we’ll have chocolate digestives (dark).

You are celebrating 15 years of being a band and releasing albums under the In Isolation name. Did you think the project would last as long as it has?

We had no idea what to expect when Ryan and John decided to combine their differing songwriting approaches, or what form the music would take. We would have hoped for more albums out after this long, but we do like to take our time to get things sounding right, and being self-funded always adds a frustrating edge to releases in terms of lead times, so we’ve probably done pretty well to get out a 28-track album this year!

The band is made up of Ryan (ex-Emma Conquest), John (ex-Die Laughing), Tony Ghost (ex-Every New Dead Ghost) and Mike (ex-Dick Venom & The Terrortones). You all really cut your teeth in the UK gothic scene in the 90s, when we were seeing the second wave. What was it like being in the scene at that point, especially in your home town of Nottingham?

It was pretty great. Nottingham was a good hub for all things goth, and even now after 30 years or so we’re seeing many of the same faces frequenting local goth nights (such as Spellbound and Nightmare). We always had touring 90s goth bands visiting the city, such as Rosetta Stone, The Marionettes, The Ancestry, Litany Of Fear, Autumn Of North and Space Rats (guess who’s been rifling through their demo collection) and you were always guaranteed a good night at The Old Angel, The Salutation Inn and Rock City. Way too much alcohol was consumed, but we could take the vicious Newcastle Brown hangovers in those days!

It seems Notts was a hot bed for young goth bands. Why do you think this was and what is the scene like now?

It just seemed that everyone in the Nottingham scene had an artistic soul, many in a musical sense, so new goth bands were being formed every other week. Nottingham is an incredibly creative city, I think that’s partly why many of us have hung around for so long. The scene hit a bit of a dry period in the late-Noughties and into the Teenies (or whatever those years were called), but out of nowhere around five years ago, the alternative club nights were swamped with young goths, and now the scene appears to be flourishing.

How did In Isolation come into being?

Ryan and John initially hooked up as two separate bands, one as a semi-continuation of Emma Conquest and the other to follow on from Die Laughing’s heritage. Neither successfully worked out, but the writing partnership between John and Ryan seemed to have potential, so a brand new project was started. It took a whole year to decide on a band name – originally ‘Isolation’ was the only name that could be agreed on, but after a quick check on the newfangled ‘internet’ thing we’d heard so much about, we realised that disappointingly there were five other bands with the same moniker, so we plumped for ‘In Isolation’.

The cohesive, wonderful sound of In Isolation speaks of a creative friendship between the band members. Am I correct in assuming this?

Thanks, you are correct. We rarely come to blows when writing and I think that we all act as mediators to achieve the best results. There is little ego involved in this band, which helps with the composition. Even though we give it our all at gigs, we always hope the quality and earworm-ery of our songs will help to entice our audiences in to balance off the lack of ego-driven performances.

You have put together an album of 28 tracks, titled ‘Albums | Singles | Soundtracks – an Anthology 2007 – 2022’. How did you go about sifting through all your music and coming up with these 28 tracks? What was your criteria?

If we’re honest, as we’ve not altogether been the most prolific of writers the compilation consists of pretty much our entire 15-year output; two albums-worth and an expanse of singles. We only excluded our early song demos (‘Primordial’, available from inisolation.bandcamp.com), a couple of prior ‘extra’ tracks, and the average single ‘High Art’ that was previously semi-released. We also omitted the excellent remixes which were produced by Matt Pop who has worked with a host of well-known bands; many who had hits in the 80s such as Erasure and Kim Wilde. We didn’t feel that Matt’s dancefloor-based hi-NRG remixes matched the tone of the Post-punk/New Wave/Darkwave tracks on the anthology, so our 4-track EP of Matt’s remixes is available as a standalone release.

The cover is photos of you guys, as youngsters. I must say my heart is with the child with the ice cream! Who is who?

John (guitarist) is the Mr Whippy fan! Ryan (vocals and guitar) is the seated 11-year old in the repulsive brown jumper, Tony (drums) is in his preferred position behind a drum kit and Mike (bass) is the one playing the guitar. It is a departure from our usual record covers, but it fits the brief and the archival nature of the shots meant we didn’t have to book a photographer!

Out of all those tracks, there is only one cover version, Bauhaus’ “She’s Into Parties”. How influential was Bauhaus for you?

Tony was the biggest fan of the original song, but we all acknowledge Bauhaus’ huge standing in the scene. We’ve covered a multitude of songs in a live capacity, such as ‘Love My Way’, ‘Just Like Heaven’, ‘Love Is A Wonderful Colour’, ‘51st State’ and ‘Treason’ – they always seem to come from the 80s, but we may surprise our audience at some point!

I am fairly impressed that you have had quite a few tracks included in movies and TV series. How did this come about and is it something you would like to pursue?

Our single ‘The Wrong Girl’ was chosen by the producers of ‘Zombie Hood’ (still streaming on Amazon Prime) as they were fans of the track and felt our appearance matched the feel of the movie (we still don’t know what they meant by that!) The director decided to cast us performing the track in the film and offered us a snippet of dialogue opposite some chap that was a Big Brother contestant. Hilarious! They cut out Ryan’s improvised line, ‘What is this place?’, which was a huge error of judgement as one of Hollywood’s best-kept scriptwriter secrets/superstitions is that a movie will definitely become successful if that particular line is included. Check out every movie you watch from now on – you’ll rarely not hear it somewhere along the way. 😀

The director of ’Seepers: A Love Story’ requested a song for their soundtrack because of our work on ‘Zombie Hood’ and a filmmaker in Canada used a couple of our tracks for his horror shorts as he was simply a fan of the band. We continue to keep a lookout for new films that might be interested in our stuff. As NASA’s newly-launched James Webb Space Telescope is using much of its time studying the TRAPPIST-1 solar system in the Aquarius constellation, we’re hoping that newfound information will inspire movies and TV shows to be created on the subject – this in turn may generate interest in our song ‘TRAPPIST-1: A Space Anthem’, particularly as NASA are already aware if it (“here at NASA we are thrilled by your anthem”), and because the astrophysicists who first discovered that the conditions are correct for water to exist on the TRAPPIST-1 planets have got behind the track on several occasions.

I know it is a bit like asking which is your favourite child but is there a particular track that stands out or is something close to your heart?

John has a fondness for ‘Infinite’ and ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’, but his favourite is ‘Berlin’, and Mike’s choice is ‘Parlance’. Ryan has an affinity for ‘Loving The Ghost’ and asserts that ‘Estrangement’ has appealing Smiths-y vibes as well as a nice string arrangement, although the track and music video that stands out to him most is ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’. Tony also votes for ‘Berlin’ and ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’. As a slushy footnote, ‘Infinite’ is close to Ryan’s heart as he wrote the lyrics about his then-partner whom he married in August of this year.

Looking back so far on your musical careers, do you feel this is the most productive and sustainable project you have been involved in?

Certainly, in as much as it brought back memories of our various projects, such as filming, directing and editing the video for our cover of ‘She’s In Parties’ and the time spent working with 15+ animators around the world on the music video for ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’. However, we’re currently working on the next album, so although we are proud of the current anthology, our creativity and energies are being focused on bringing to life a whole new chapter of recordings.

Has Covid had an impact on the band performing live and recording over the last few years?

Sadly, yes. We had to cancel a few shows, but on the bright side, we had time to reflect on what In Isolation was as an entity and, going forward, the type of songs we’d really like to listen to ourselves. Our writing skills have improved during that period, so we are having a good time coming up with new ideas for future output.

What acts/bands drew you into the gothic scene and influenced you to become musicians?

John was inspired by Punk bands of the late 70s, which ultimately led him down a slightly skewed path into goth, including his favourites The Cult. Tony has a fondness for Adam Ant and Japan which again paved a way into the darker side of 80s music. Mike has a synth-based background and is eclectic in his tastes, and Ryan is a fan of New Wave chart sounds of the 80s which pointed him to The Sisters Of Mercy and ultimately to 90s bands such as Rosetta Stone. We all had a drive to write and play music, and the dark/romantic/energetic aspects of goth suited our musical temperaments well.

What do you find yourself listening to these days?

A hugely mixed bag reaching back to the 60s. Movie soundtracks are inspirational, and although Top Of The Pops is no longer around to bring the country together with the best music available, there are a few good bands out there to be found such as CHVRCHES, Desperate Journalist, Drab Majesty and Zola Jesus.

If you could choose a movie to write songs for, what would it be about?

Maybe a dark-flavoured rom-com (not one of those really cheesy unfunny ones, of which there are so many). Something intelligent with clever humour and interesting plots and twists, utilising classic actors that recognise thoughtfully-written independent films, such as Tilda Swinton or Gary Oldman. We could bring contemporary dark tunes to the soundtrack as well as scoring the movie (we dabbled in orchestral arrangements for some of our more recent outpourings).

What is in the future for In Isolation?

Tony would like to tour the world, given half a chance, and we would certainly be keen to hop over to Europe to play the likes of the Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival. We are feeling pretty prolific at the moment in terms of songwriting, so we should have something exciting for your ears soon!

Thank you from the bottom of my dark little heart for your time

And cheers, Adele, for letting In Isolation loose on Onyx Music Reviews!

Albums | Singles | Soundtracks – an Anthology 2007-2022 (28 tracks) | In Isolation (bandcamp.com)

In Isolation | Facebook

One of this year’s best post-punk releases, has to have been Kill Shelter’s Asylum, out on Metropolis Records (US) and Manic Depression Records (EUR). Edinburgh based Pete Burns has crafted an extraordinary album with beautiful guitar riffs, wonderful melodies and amazing guest artists featuring on many of the tracks. Asylum has given birth to two great singles with Agent Side Grinder and Stefan Netschio of Beborn Beton, as well as tracks with the likes of Ronny Moorings (Clan Of Xymox), William Faith (Faith And The Muse, Bellwether Syndicate, Shadow Project), Antipole, Ash Code and Valentina Veil (VV & The Void).

For me, the most noteworthy thing is the message behind the music, a reminder that many souls out there are looking for safety, searching for solace and finding sanctuary anyway they can from terrible circumstances. Human trafficking, political/war/famine refugees and those caught in domestic violence are just some of the examples. Music can move you, show you heaven and hell, speak of love and loss but most importantly tell us stories that need to be heard. This interview with Pete was started just before the release of the album, in a series of emails. He is both gracious and articulate, unfortunately catching the dreaded plague (covid), which has hit Pete heavily at the end. I am grateful for his time and forging ahead, so this interview is about his influences, friendships, music and the beating heart of Asylum.

Pete Burns, mastermind behind the dark, post-punk act, Kill Shelter, welcome to the mourning grounds of Onyx, where we enjoy a cup of tea with our maudlin.  

Thanks so much for inviting me over.  And thanks for the very kind intro. I feel at home already…

I must admit that I am flummoxed as to what a superb musician and composer, as yourself was doing before Kill Shelter, plus you have a name that if you google, you end up with a certain other Pete Burns. So, what were you involved with before this project?

I started playing guitar when I was nine and I always wanted to make music… it’s been a big part of my life. I’ve written music for TV, Radio and Film and have been signed to various independent labels over the years in various guises but Kill Shelter feels very different to me.

I had thought about adopting a stage name but I never settled on something that I liked or felt comfortable with. Ironically, Burns isn’t my birth name but that’s a long story so let’s not get into that! Changing my name now would feel a little bit pretentious and I’m okay with the associated anonymity as long as people get to hear my music.

You are based in Edinburgh and there seems to be a strong dark alternative scene there. Do you find the history of this ancient fortress lends itself to influencing your music?

I do love Edinburgh, I find it a very inspiring city. We have lots of green spaces and incredible gothic architecture. It’s quite a cosmopolitan city (especially during the festival) and I like the diversity and energy that brings. I often think that I should make more of my connection to the city through the work that I produce but it would need to be done in a contemporary, non-cliched way.

What led you to creating Kill Shelter?

I reached a point where, musically, I just wanted to be myself. Kill Shelter didn’t start with wanting to make a specific type of music or fit a specific genre… it’s a product of me being true to myself. There are sounds and chord voicings that I naturally gravitate to and that’s where I feel most comfortable.

I also felt I had things I wanted to say. Music has always been a form of self-expression for me and I started Kill Shelter at a very dark time in my life. It was, in some ways, a way to process things. You can really hear that come to the fore in the lyrics of “In Decay” or in the lyrical content of “A Haunted Place”.

For me, music, like art, should have purpose. The name Kill Shelter itself was designed to be provocative. My work challenges human behaviour, morally and ethically, and I think it’s important to highlight difficult subjects like injustice, domestic abuse and inequality alongside more existential themes, like mortality and the human condition. I believe that art should, in some way, make people reconsider their thoughts, actions and beliefs.

I gather you don’t think of yourself as a singer, as you have so many guest musicians on your tracks. Your 2019 album, “Damage”, has a plethora of talent on it. How did you end up connecting with all these people?

Yes, you are right. Although I wrote and sang all the lyrics on the Kill Shelter & Antipole album “A Haunted Place”, I don’t think of myself as a natural singer. Some people live for it and I’m always listening for those stand-out vocalists who move me in some way or other. You can’t beat the intensity of an amazing vocalist. With “Damage”, I wanted to work with emerging artists who’d already made an impact on me. Each one of those contributors had created at least one track which I would happily include in my “all-time favourite songs” or “wish I’d written that” list.

Whilst working on “Damage”, although I had a fair few connections and friends in the emerging scene, some people had, unsurprisingly, never heard of me. I always write demos with specific people in mind, which is a very different process from just having a demo and thinking “who could I get to sing on this?”. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some extremely talented people on the Kill Shelter releases and I really don’t take this for granted. I’ve also made some great friends along the way for which I’m eternally grateful.

I find it interesting that there has been such a resurgence in the post-punk scene, which is quite delightful for us that love this genre, that took flight from the late 70s/early 80s. Who or what, do you think is to thank for this breath of fresh air?

Well, they say if you keep a suit long enough it comes back into fashion (laughs). I also wonder whether the resurgence of so many genres and subgenres of music is linked to the accessibility of music and musicians. Community is so important when sustaining interest in what can quickly become a niche genre as people’s tastes and attitudes evolve. There have been waves of interest in post-punk over the years, with the last major underground wave starting to peak around 2018, following the 2011 revival when certain bands helped pave the way for others, notably The Soft Moon, She Past Away, Lebanon Hanover, Soft Kill, Drab Majesty, Trentemøller, Boy Harsher… the list goes on.

There was a lot of very good music being produced at that time and, I think, the diversity of influences helped broaden the sound and widen interest in the genre itself. I believe this, in turn, helped rekindle flames of interest in older listeners whilst providing something alternative for a younger Hip Hop-fuelled generation. Scenes can go stale very quickly so it’s important that new music feels fresh, inspiring and exciting, otherwise it just won’t sustain itself. There are mainstream and larger magazines that won’t touch post-punk bands anymore, regarding it as passé. However, some bands continue to have longevity, retaining a strong following through the peaks and troughs of the genre’s popularity and there will always be innovators who care about pushing boundaries despite listening numbers which may not seem significant in the grand scheme of things.

Recently, you released the brilliant single, “The Necklace”, with Agent Side Grinder, but this is not the first time you have recorded with the Swedes. Can you tell us about the track “The Necklace” but also your relationship with Agent Side Grinder?

Thank you. I’m really glad you liked it and thanks again for the review! I’m a big fan of ASG’s work and they’ve been brilliant to work with over the years. “Into the Wild” was my second remix and was a big deal for me. I love the original track. Similarly when they dropped “Doppelgänger” in 2018, I thought it was outstanding and was very keen to work with them more formally. I wrote the demo for them and chatted to Johan about a high level concept for the track aligning with the theme of Asylum (which remained undisclosed at that time). He wrote the lyrics then sent a draft with his guide vocal in place to give me a sense of it ahead of the studio recording. The vocals on the final track are a blend of Johan’s and Emanuel’s voices – which combine incredibly well. With the vocals in place, I restructured and re-arranged the track accordingly, checked they approved and, with everyone’s agreement, we had The Necklace.

Likewise, for the video, we discussed the approach and ASG enlisted the help of Jacob Frössén to shoot their scenes in Sweden. I filmed and edited the incidental footage, including shots of myself, here in Edinburgh and looked after editing and post-production. Again, we shared everything from the “work in progress” to the completed stage to incorporate everyone’s feedback. I know it’s a big ask to shoot footage for the video in addition to being involved on the track at a fundamental level, so it was massively appreciated and was a highly collaborative experience. They are an incredibly professional outfit to work with and I’m absolutely delighted with the result.

Pete, you mentioned that your latest album is based on the theme of ‘asylum’ which is indeed what it is also called. “The Necklace” is about domestic violence and finding an inner sanctuary.  Can you elaborate more on this theme and why you chose it?

When working on full length releases with multiple collaborators, I like to work with a strong narrative idea to help glue the various elements together. With these releases, I always have the title and concept in place ahead of recording. The word Asylum itself can be interpreted in various ways and it perfectly encapsulated a lot of the thoughts I was having at the time of writing. Domestic abuse has risen over 30% in the past two years and I find human injustice hard to ignore. These thoughts permeate my work. People will always interpret lyrics differently but there are underlying themes of human trafficking, domestic violence, seeking refuge, disillusionment, sanctuary and personal mental health on the new album. I find the abuse of any type of power abhorrent and there is a further subtext that runs through the lyrics on the album too.

Kill Shelter & Agent Side Grinder

Do you feel music is a type of asylum, so to speak?

Absolutely. Music is an escape for many people. It can transcend the everyday and provides a sanctuary and a personal place for people. It allows you to dream and experience different things, to explore your feelings, reflect and connect – it’s an immensely powerful thing. Making music has always been a cathartic process for me. When I start to write it’s always a direct reflection of how I’m feeling at that moment but it can help me process deeper stuff too. I have lots of cyclical thoughts when I write but that can also cause me to go to very dark places which can be hard to pull out of sometimes. Making music is a very emotional journey for me and I always put my heart and soul into my work. It would feel meaningless to me otherwise.

You seem very prolific. What do you think drives you to create?

It’s complicated. Sublimation is a big part of what I do. I take a lot of really negative, destructive thoughts and feelings and try to make something more positive and life- affirming with them. And hopefully the output is something that some people will relate to. “Euphoric melancholy” is a phrase that I’ve used before but I think that it’s so much more than that. The word prolific scares me as I always associate it with a  lack of quality or self control. I’m always busy and have a lot of creative projects on the go at once… that’s my idea of contentment and how I distract myself. If I’m not doing music then I might be designing or creating art in some form or finding some other outlet for self-expression. You might be quite shocked at just how many projects I’m working on, not including the numerous archived demos that I don’t think are very interesting. I also feel like I’m very rapidly running out of time and that’s a huge motivation for me to try and capture something or achieve some sort of unrecognised personal ambition before it’s too late.

The newest single is “In This Place” which features Stefan Netschio of Beborn Beton on vocals. It has this beautiful serpentine flow to it and Netschio’s vocals absolutely bring a dark quality to the track. Why did you choose this track as the next single?

Stefan has an incredible voice and he did a masterful job of capturing the essence and sentiment of the lyric for In This Place. The song deals with the inhumanity of human trafficking and we were keen to make sure that the subject matter was treated with respect and handled with dignity. I really love the track and, even though it’s not necessarily an obvious single, it does have a strong message and it’s indicative of the album as a whole. Stefan’s voice is incredible on it. It’s getting a lot of airplay at the moment and it is currently sitting at No 5 in the Deutsche Alternative Charts which is amazing. I think it’s fair to say that we were both shocked and delighted by that.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stefan recently. They say never meet your idols but in this case you won’t be disappointed. He’s a really smart, funny and talented person and we got on really well. We have plans to work together on a few things going forward so I’m really looking forward to that. He’s become a great friend.

Pete Burns & Stefan Netschio

William Faith is the featured vocalist on “Cover Me”. The track struck me as reminiscent of early Mission (UK) with wonderful flourishing guitar work and singing.  What was it like working with Faith and was The Mission a band you were drawn to? 

William was fantastic to work with and I feel really honoured and grateful that he gave his time to the project. His vocals really soar on “Cover Me” – it’s a very compelling performance and he interpreted the lyrics beautifully. I couldn’t believe it when I got the vocal tracks back. He’s another legend that I’ve been lucky enough to work with and it was another great experience for me.

Musically, there was no conscious decision to create pieces that sound like other bands but the early Mission (UK) is not a bad comparison! I think Wayne (Hussey) has done some great stuff over the years from his work with Dead or Alive and the Sisters and then onto the Mission (UK). He’s responsible for some very iconic pieces of music. I read his autobiography relatively recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think there was a decade between 1979 and 1989 that had some incredible music. I’m still exploring it and I’m enjoying rediscovering things that I’d forgotten about.

Pete, what was your childhood like? Was music ingrained into your DNA or were you the black sheep of the family?

I was probably a bit of both. I don’t think I was an easy child and I was definitely what you’d call an outsider. Growing up, all I wanted to do was play music – I wasn’t interested in being academic and I literally spent every hour I could either playing guitar or pursuing other creative outlets. My brother was a huge influence on me musically, he bought me my first guitar when I was nine and through him, I grew up listening to and being influenced by a lot of innovative and cutting edge music. My world was guitars, effects, drums machines, vinyl and cassettes. I’m not naturally musical, I don’t have perfect pitch and I’m not a great guitar player either but I love creating music. I’d say my passion and drive overcome my proficiency deficiencies.

It seems like the post-punk/industrial/goth scene is where musicians have a connection to everyone. Do you think of them as community and family in a way, especially with you having these amazing artists, you can call on?

The dawn of the internet changed so many things and even though it threw the music “industry” into a state of flux it has also brought a lot of people together and has allowed like-minded people to connect and for communities to form and flourish. I definitely feel connected to the scene for sure. There’s a lot of people who share that love and interest for dark alternative music and culture and there’s a lot of mutual respect and support which is great to see. There are some very toxic musical genres and associated cultures and clearly we’re not without our flaws, but overall I’d say there’s a lot of camaraderie which is very positive.

I’m really lucky to have made so many great friends in the scene and I don’t use that word lightly. I’m eternally grateful to have had the chance to meet and work with so many incredibly talented people that I genuinely admire and respect. I think that speaks volumes about the scene itself.

For the music nerds out there, do you have a favourite style/brand of guitar and synths you really love the sound of, and you use often?

I’m fortunate to have a lot of guitars, basses, drum machines and synths. I’ve collected them over the years and use a lot of them during the writing process. My go to instrument is my cherry red Parker Fly Classic which is a beautifully built studio guitar. They are unlike anything that was produced before or after. They’re not made anymore which is a great shame but I love the tone and feel of it. Definitely my guitar of choice.

I’ve also recently acquired a Yamaha SG (a classic post-punk guitar) and have started collecting vintage drum machines… as if I need another obsession. I use a lot of “in the box” equipment but I love the Model D, it’s an immediate and great sounding synth. I’ve got a virtual version of that which I’ve modded that I use a lot too. I’m also an effects junkie but that’s a whole other story…

What bands and musicians drew you into the post-punk/alt scene?

The late seventies especially were full of innovation and I think you can map my interest in post-punk and the art rock/alt scene by a series of albums from the seventies and eighties. In no particular order…

Systems of Romance – Ultravox
Fiction Tales – Modern Eon
Quiet Life / Gentlemen Take Polaroids – Japan
First and Last and Always – The Sisters of Mercy
JuJu / Peek-a-boo – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Music for the Masses/ Violator – Depeche Mode

I’d also call out Are Friends Electric by Gary Numan. This seemed like a monumental sea change single at the time and definitely fuelled my passion for electronica.

Of course there were other early stand out singles like A Forest by The Cure and Alice by the Sisters followed later by Spiritwalker and She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult that I still have a fondness for and that  remind me of that time.

Japan was my favourite band at the time and I was lucky enough to see them live a few times. They were fundamental in shaping the way I thought about music, sounds and songwriting.

You have been asked to pick your favourite songs to do a cover album of ten songs. What do you choose?

That is a very hard question and I’m not sure I could ever really do justice to someone else’s song, especially ten songs that I love. Instead, this is a list of “songs that I’d wish I’d written” but this is clearly just the tip of the iceberg…

I’m Undone – Nitzer Ebb
Ghosts – Japan
Fall in love with me – Japan
I dream of wires – Gary Numan (+ Robert Palmer version)
Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie
Waterfront – David Sylvian
Whirl – Soft Kill
Pharmacy – Ascetic
Better Learn How to Swim  – Ultrviolence
Europe After the Rain – John Foxx

These are all songs that have moved me in one way or another and that I never tire of listening to.

What is in the future for Pete Burns and Kill Shelter?

I’ll finish the third part of the multi-collaboration trilogy that I set out to do in 2018. That album will complete the set along with “Damage” and “Asylum”. 

I’m working with Antipole on a follow up to “A Haunted Place”. We have no hard deadline on that release and we plan to take our time. I have the title and working concept and we have a couple of rough demos already. I’m keen that we don’t do “A Haunted Place II” just because we can – I’m keen that it is a progression and something different from what we’ve done before.

I’ve been working on a non Kill Shelter project with Cliff Hewitt (Modern Eon, Apollo 440, Jean-Michel Jarre etc) which is starting to take shape. He’s amazing and I’m really excited about it but more on that next year!

I have a few EPs and tribute’s planned for various labels and I’m busy mixing and mastering other people’s work at my studio, The Shelter.

I’ve also started planning for playing live in 2023/24 and plans are afoot for that. 

I caught Covid really badly recently so it’s thrown out my schedule by a couple of months but I hope to get back in the driving seat soon. As well as the various works in progress that I’ve outlined, hopefully there will be some surprises coming down the line too…

Thank you for being a wonderful participant on this ghost plain of human existence ❤️

Asylum [European Version] | Kill Shelter (bandcamp.com)

Asylum [US Version] | Kill Shelter (bandcamp.com)

Kill Shelter | Facebook

Manic Depression Records & Events | Facebook

Metropolis Records | Facebook

When the clock hits the witching hour, do you ever wonder if the spectres are having breakfast at the dinner table or the creaking walls and floors are in heavy conversation, ever-while the bats squeaking outside are just vampires waiting to be asked in? If so, then Daniel Ouellette might make perfect accompany music to your thoughts. His latest album El sal​ó​n (A Happy Home Is A Haunted Home!) summons your everyday and makes it a little more ghoulish. Of course the salon is a rather old fashioned and wonderful parlour, to have tea and simply talk. This is an interview with Daniel and what struck me the most is his love of conversation with those around him. To that end, the album has songs in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, extending that idea of not limiting your ability to converse. With this in mind, please imbibe and sup the wondrous words of this conversation and don’t let the Mothra bite.

Welcome to the retro 80s room Daniel, where we use Japan’s David Sylvian’s vocals to clean the crystal, Duran Duran is life and the ghosts of yesterday haunt us with gay abandon.

Thank you so very much for having me! How nice to be around Japan, Duran2, and gay abandon!

You are a resident of Chesapeake Beach. Have you always been in this area and how do you think it has influenced you as a musician?

I am new to this area as of May 2021. I have lived in several places, but I am originally from Massachusetts. Honestly, I cannot say Chesapeake Beach has influenced me as a musician, however much of the oddness of growing up in New England has and there is that type of feel here in Maryland… The outdoors are vast and spooky and full of bats and birds and other winged creatures.

What is the post-punk scene like in Chesapeake Beach and surrounding areas?

Hmm… I am not sure if there is one here in Chesapeake Beach as I have been here for only a year. However, I am very excited to be playing my first performance of the year here at the grand opening of Dusk and Willow Designs in North Beach, MD which is a metaphysical boutique. It is quite beautiful and Jenny , who is the proprietor of the shop, is a very kind and wonderful soul to work with on this event which will be the weekend of the most wonderful Halloween. It will be October 29th. One can check for the details. However, perhaps we will bring a post-punk scene to the Chesapeake/North Beach area. Maryland has a lovely scene in Baltimore and around with so many grand promoters, musicians, DJs. I often feel like an outlier to most scenes which is not bad because I have been blessed by the wings of Mothra to have been part of everything and nothing. Heh. Very philosophical.  

Your solo project has been around since, about, 2018. What was Messer Ouellette doing previously musically and what is Shobijin (do not release the Mothra as the curtains could not take it)?

Before there was, Daniel Ouellette and the Shobijin, there was simply me solo and most of the time even when I performed with that name, I performed solo. The Shobijin was my backing band of singers and players who joined me on various performances and tours from 2010 to 2017. After that, I did a short project with a dear friend Deirdre McLaren called The Countess Zaleska, but unfortunately it was just a temporary project, but now I am mostly completely alone, but I work with a wonderful group of cohorts and conspirators like Jenny Rae Mettee of Fun Never Starts, Jason Mendelson, Elizabeth Lorrey, Don Zientara, Peter Linnane. Incidentally, the Shobijin are characters from Godzilla/Mothra films… which I see you’ve caught the wing of that reference.

Going to creep out on a limb here and say that you like to write music that you can have a jolly good giggle over…..

Why thank you for noticing! So very thoughtful and true. I love the idea of humor, horror, storytelling… making songs that can mean what I want them to, but can adapt meaning to anything for the listener… I like making songs that have a hint of wondering what is happening, but letting go and loving the experience. Some people don’t always get it and that’s ok with me. It wasn’t for them. Sometimes I am laughing the whole time inside whilst I perform or write… it is good. One should always laugh during the volcano explosion.

You released the album “El sal​ó​n” at the end of July, so how long did it take for you to complete the writing and recording?

I am not quite sure of the amount of for the writing part. It was very quick. I think it took 2 or 3 weeks of non-consecutive recording and writing. I tend to write the skeleton of the songs quite quickly. I had recorded it in September of 2021, but then some life issues happened. I was very close to leaving the planet, not by my choice, and had everything to set to be released for a posthumous release. Is there anything like an album from beyond the other side?

But I made the videos from January to March. I wrote the songs by writing the drum patterns and then recording vocals with no other instrumentation. Then I, Jenny, and Jason played the synths. I went back to touch up anything I felt like, but not much. Everything was done quickly. One song was re-record from my 2012 album The Enchantment, I made English lyrics unrelated to the original version in Spanish for the song “The Kitchen Witch…” I don’t like to translate, but I loved the sound of that song and felt like it needed a new version.

I envy people who speak more than one language and you sir speak French, Spanish and Portuguese on top of English. From what I understand, you have family members that speak Spanish but how did you end up learning the other two?

Oh no no, no one spoke Spanish in my family. I learned Spanish on my own from school, making loved ones, and living/studying in Spain. We spoke English in the house.

However, my mother’s side of the family is of Azorean Portuguese background and there were some relatives who spoke it from the extended part of our family. My father’s side is French Canadian and the same with his family.There were members along the extended part who spoke French. I learned Spanish after English, because I thought I would rebel against Portuguese and French, seeing Spain is in between France and Portugal. Heh!

I studied in Madrid for my MA. I have an M.A. in Spanish with concentration on…Drama. However, I learned French and Portuguese at school and through loved ones and travel like I did with Spanish. Sometimes, I feel shaky with all four languages, but it is like riding a unicorn when you get back to speaking a language that you do not speak all the time, it comes back, plus there is technology to help us. But many words are buried in my head.

You represent all these languages in the album and I was wondering if you see these as different parts of you, this being one reason to include them?

Yes, definitely! Language is for communicating and when we start to use any language it becomes part of us if we may have the chance to let it happen. It is gradual and takes time. When I write in a particular language it is because that song’s message and feeling requires the words, cadence, and nuance that the language contains. I have learned that after teaching, writing, and singing in multiple languages, that all language is personalized to who we are and how we express ourselves. There are grammar rules for formal writing, but for communication, especially in friendship, love, poetry, music, there should not be such rigid rules, I think. Language is constantly in flux for new expressions. We all sound how we sound because we are our sparkly selves with a need to be deliciously heard.

What I like about singing and writing in multiple languages is that it is a beautiful way to share with more listeners something that they may enjoy. It is a delightful form of connection. I am sure I sound funny in every language that I have learned to speak to someone else including in English.

As I had mentioned, I have never done any direct translations, however “Kitchen Witch” on the “El salón” does have a Spanish version called “Te odio” which is on the album “The Enchantment”. The lyrics are unrelated in theme… the recent English version is more about escape from some place and the Spanish version is about telling an ex-partner that you now hate them, and you hope they are some place crying.

Again, thank you for asking about the inspiration and artistic desire to write and sing in multiple languages. So often I have been scolded for “showing off” when I speak to someone in a language other than English and have even been criticized for the use of a language other than English in my music because the reviewer feels that it is a bit chichi if you will. It is sort of odd and a disappointing point of view to me that that is how one would look at being multi-lingual. I want to create a wonderful, supernaturally artistic, and divine ambiance of performing and singing to others about all the things one might need like vampires, ghosts, and jewelry.

The album has your tongue set firmly in cheek, as you describe everyday life but from the perspective of ghouls and legendary horror creatures of the night. How ever did you come up with this concept?

Like language, such things are what I feel a grand affinity for, the other worldly world of what may not necessarily have a definition. I like what I feel is an artistic freedom that imagination and storytelling of supernatural and other offbeat subjects that may be beyond what we only see with our eyes gives to performing and writing music. Ever since I have been writing songs, the idea of monsters, the Netherworld, cryptozoology, the spirit world, have been placed as signs and themes in my songs. So for this album I wanted to make the whole album and each song flutter around these ideas whilst making references to a haunted house in both positive, neutral, and negative manners.

Do you have have a favourite monster child off the album?

Not really. I feel like each monster needs each other. The English songs contain titles about the house and the Non-English songs contain the monsters. Hmm…But if I went on a program, I would sing “Duérmete (una noche lupina”, “O Lindo Sonâmbulo (Um Fantasma Na Minha Casa)”, and “Velvet Divan (Why Do You Always Have to Punch the Furniture?)… This is hard.. maybe I would just sing any of them.

Could you tell us about some of the people you collaborated with such as Pam Ant?

Oh Pam Ant!!! My heart dances just seeing her name! We are siblings from cosmic mothers! She is an amazing playwright, actress, and musician. She was a singer with the pop-punk band “The Toes” from Burlington, Vermont. She is a divine artist in the truest sense of the definition. We met when I was on tour in Vermont.

Jenny Rae Mettee is another supernatural sibling from another mother. She is an amazingly talent artist from Baltimore. She is a singer, songwriter, and video editor among other grand things. She heads the fabulous industrial synth band Fun Never Starts and plays bass with the equally smashing Nahja Mora. She has the same penchant for the macabre and monsters. We met through the internet by mutual friends. Check out her band Fun Never Starts.

Jason Mendelson is sweet, talented, superbly stupendous musician. He can play any instrument like the heavenly being he is. Talking and working with him is like a gift. We met whilst I was on tour in DC. He created an amazingly creative project a few years back called “MetroSongs” and as he says it was “a goal to increase awareness, appreciation, and support for public transit by writing, recording, and performing a collection of songs all about Washington’s Metro station locations, beginning in 2010 and completed in 2017.” It’s such a great project! Go check this and all his work out.

The 4th collaborator on this project was Bob Murphy who plays the synth on “The Kitchen Witch Who Stayed in the Living Room to Fold Laundry (Take me with you, Mothra!)” and he is a darling friend that I met through playing music with one of my previous cowriters and longest standing cosmic friend who is a great talent and support, Scott Harrison. Bob is a wonderfully delicious grand wit too. When he is able to come to performances, he always sweetly whispers in my ear…”Don’t f*** up!” and then he walks away. Those are the guest players on this project!

Elizabeth Lorrey and Peter Linnane deserve mention as they did the engineering, mastering, and mixing with me. Elizabeth always makes me feel confident and justified to do what it is I like to do, and Peter takes such care in making it feel the best quality it can be.

From time to time, my dear husband, Ron, guest stars on the accordion in recordings and he needs a big thank you and a vampire bite sized kiss! Hehe…

I hear not only the music, but I believe I can hear a lot of love for the written word. What genre of books or writers have grabbed your imagination?

I like that you have heard that love. I would like to think it a surprise, but Edgar Allan Poe and Washington Irving are two who speak to me. I love reading books of Buddhist philosophy, autobiographies of musicians, and variety of writers, poets, and playwrights like Miguel Cervantes, Maya Angelou, Federico García Lorca, Pío Baroja, Pedro Calderón de la Barca… I sometimes write songs that contain inspiration from a poem or novel, never am I as good, but like the way Kate Bush would do such things. There is no one genre that intrigues me to read or write from whence inspiration grows.

Why do you think you are so attracted to the old fashioned horror legends and stalwarts?

The sense of the other world, the supernatural that is or may be. I think of making music as expression of an escape. I find it far more interesting and natural to sing about a specter under the couch than to sing a love song or one of those “I did every thing right and you did everything wrong” break up songs.

Who would you say influenced you musically, early on in life?

It’s a rather eclectic and maybe surprising collection of artists. In no order of one being better than the other:

Very early on: Donna Summer, ABBA, Blondie

Early on: Eurythmics, The Pointer Sisters, Siouxsie and the Banshees/The Creatures, Grace Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Sade, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, Tina Turner, The Human League, B52s, Yoko Ono, Peter Gabriel, Thompson Twins, Whitney Houston, Bjork, Eartha Kitt, Marlene Dietrich, Duran Duran
Not as early on: Alaska + Dinarama/Los Pegamoides, Celine Dion, Big Country, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Miguel Bose, Isabel Pantoja, Ofra Haza, Desireless, Jacques Brel, Françoise Hardy, Mecano

Are there bands or solo artists that catch your ear now?

I have love Ida Maria, HK119 and Dua Lipa. I love to find music new and old that I may not have heard before too. As of recent, I have been enjoying playing classical music around the house.
A grand treat of touring and being in the music business is that in the past 20 years I have been exposed to so much music in the colleagues and contemporaries that I have done performances with: Fun Never Starts, Prima Primo, Winkie, C8bal, The Spearmint Sea, The Osyx, Kelly Spyglass, Nahja Mora, The Pilgrims of Yearning, Jason Medelson, Elizabeth Lorrey… There are so many more, but these are some recent acts that I know who end up in my mixtapes.

If you had a Ouija board, would you want predictive text on it and whom would you use it to talk to?

I think I would skip the predictive text! It likes to make up what it wishes! Wouldn’t that be a great little movie short? An impish ghost that takes over someone’s predictive text in their phone and causes funny little traumas and relationship woes for the phone user. I am sure this has happened in film.  

Now, “IF” I had a Ouija board? Hehe… it’s right over there! Hehe. I would love to talk to Ofra Haza and Juana la Loca.

Ofra Haza always seemed like a dear and would be nice to have a discussion about singing. Juana because I think her name needs to be cleared of “loca”. I don’t believe she was crazy, but a victim of men wanting to take her power for themselves.

So, when using a seers ball, what is next in the future of Daniel Ouellette?

There is a performance for October 29, 2022 in North Beach, MD for the grand opening of the Dusk + Willow Designs metaphysical shop. I am excited work with Jenny Jimenez. I will release a limited-edition compilation at the show of the songs from my last two digital releases, “Avemetatarsalia” and “El salón” as a physical printed work. It will be titled “A Corvid in the Living Room (Come on, Louise! I’ll Buy You a Drink”)”.

For 2023, I am planning to release a single in February or March and then, I think I will begin the recording of the full length follow up to “El salón”… It is already written and tentatively titled “Otherworld (When the Wolfbane Blooms)”…  

A tour would be nice. I would like to play places new and familiar. I once heard Siouxsie talk about how they like touring to places where the Banshees have never been and I like that. The unknown with a drum machines, a microphone, and a jingle bell.

Thank you for hanging in the Onyx lair!

The pleasure has been all mine and thank you for having me. May something grand and perhaps supernaturally wonderful happen to you!

El salón (A Happy Home is a Haunted Home) | Daniel Ouellette (bandcamp.com)

Daniel Ouellette

Daniel Ouellette | Facebook

The name Mona Mur has been associated with the German industrial scene since the early 80s. September the 30th sees her new album, Snake Island released on the GIVE/TAKE label and Mur amping up the guitars with guest artists such as En Esch, former member of KMFDM and PIG. So, we asked a few questions about the new release.

Welcome to the dark heart of Onyx, Mona Mur, where we can commune with cups of hot beverage and ignore the lacy spiderwebs.

Cheers!

You are unleashing your new album, “Snake Island”. How long was this album in the making and what lead up to its creation?

I was interested in playing really heavy guitars and make this an album. My friend Goldkind supported this idea by sending me some exciting electronic textures he had created. They were just perfect to play guitars on. I added strings or synths where necessary to create harmony. Vocals were the last thing I did on the tracks. So, we were sending stuff back and forth. We are already a dream team, since our first mutual album, DELINQUENT from 2019. I know Goldkind since the 80s, he was one of the first punks in Hamburg, where we both are born. He was a frontman and trombone player in his own band, then quickly became an accomplished producer of some hits over here in Germany. We had lost track of each other, then got back together in 2017 to create DELINQUENT. He is a kindred spirit without any doubt.

Was covid something that instigated the making of the album or hindered it?

To be honest – I am spending a lot of time in my own recording studio KATANA which I built over many years, doing productions for myself, for other people and for films and games. Collaborating with other people certainly became more difficult. Yet, I am used to work online, in teams. So – I was able to adjust and not so much changed for me. Of course, almost all live concerts were cancelled – which is a drag. Still, I am happy as long as have my studio where I am in charge and can do what I want.

You have said that the title “Snake Island” was a tale you heard of. Could you please tell us a little more about this story and how it has influenced the creation of your latest work?

I came across a story about a small island off the Brazilian shores, where twenty-thousand snakes dwell— deadly poisonous vipers. They sleep nine months, then awaken only when a certain species of bird stops by to breed. So, the snakes eat them and survive. The snakes are everywhere.

They’ve killed two lighthouse keepers so that the lighthouse is abandoned now. I imagined myself living on that island, maybe even as one of the snakes. I found this a very strong and malicious metaphor , it helped shape the energy flow of the music I was about to create, or rather, the painting.

The masterful En Esch (ex KMFDM and Pigface) also features on the album. Can you tell us about your friendship with En Esch and how he came to be on the album?

En Esch is one of the greatest and most unique artists I ever had the pleasure to meet. I actually know his former band KMFDM since October 1985, when they opened for the MONA MUR Band in Hamburg. You can find some footage of this live concert as well as some funny backstage stuff on Youtube. Much later, in 2007, I met En Esch when he came back from the States to Berlin. We then put out two albumstogether as MONA MUR & EN ESCH. His musical skills in many realms are universal and comprehensive, his dedication is limitless. Although SNAKE ISLAND is a MONA MUR solo album, it is always great to have him contribute something – as the icing on the cake. Like his fiercely and immaculately played guitar take on the song RAKE.

Gary Schmalzl plays electric guitar for you. What is it like collaborating with Schmalzl?

Schmalzl graced me with the wicked solo on Ace of Spades. He is another beloved friend and absolutely outstanding guitar player who has been working with many great bands and artists, like Thurston Moore, Jingo de Lunch, Bela B. and more – and he is always up for playing with me. His tone is one of a kind, his technique unparalleled. You cannot ask many people to play an adequate ACE OF SPADES solo.

How important was it for you to have that heavy guitar sound?

As I said, I wanted to play a lot of the guitar myself this time, and my style is kind of slow, raw, huge, heavy, doomy. It was the driving motor for the whole album. It seems my lave stream of expression has found another outlet.

There is the cover of the Motorhead track “Ace Of Spades”, so was Lemmy Killmeister a musician you looked up to?


Hm, I not particularly looked up. But, I admire him, as probably the most uncompromising Rock n Roller ever. Actually, I fell in love with MOTORHEAD only recently. But ACE OF SPADES for me is an exceptional song, the pure raw energy, the lyrics, the attitude. There are awesome live videos on Youtube with all kinds of line ups, I love to watch this loud at night, when I relax from a long day in the studio. “THE PLEASURE IS TO PLAY, MAKES NO DIFFERENCE WHAT YOU SAY” is just a killer statement for me.

This new album is described as Mona Mur going back to her industrial roots and you were linked with Einstürzende Neubauten. How has industrial music influenced you musically and especially “Snake Island”?

When I started out in 1981, I was obsessed with listening to THROBBING GRISTLE and LAIBACH. Also, my close friends were FM Einheit, Alex Hacke and Mark Chung of “EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN”. We hung out together, and one day I went with them to their rehearsal space in a tower in central Hamburg. I had been singing and playing instruments my entire life, since I was a small kid. I had a strong urge to create. I knew the time is right, to help shape this kind of music movement myself. The rest is history.

Jon Caffery does the wonderful mastering, known for his production work on music for such projects as Einstürzende Neubauten, Joy Division, Tubeway Army and Die Toten Hosen. What is your history with Caffery?

Jon Caffery is a long lost and found again friend. We had met in the 80s when he was in the studio with Neubauten and Abwärts and other collegues I was hanging out with. I had back then, with the MONA MUR Band, worked with Raymond „Nainz“ Watts as sound engineer. (actually, these recordings also come out soon, on Vinyl, in December). But for SNAKLE ISLAND: I only found out now, that Jon always had wished to work with me . So, luckily , this happens just now.A gift.

Do you have any favourite tracks off the album and if so why?


No, really, I love that the album has a flow of its own and you can listen through it from A to Z being really absorbed. This is what I want to achieve.

Vocally, I can hear a maturing of a singer. Do you feel you have changed vocally over the years?

Everything goes more effortless than ever, I just precisely do what I like. Very often, I use first take recordings, sometimes I even do not write down the Lyrics before recording. I am totally uninhibited, much in contrast to my early years.

Mona, you are heavily linked to the early industrial days with bands such as Einstürzende Neubauten. What was the scene like back then for yourself in West Berlin?

Actually, I am from Hamburg. So, I was in Hamburg AND Berlin, moving back and forth, crossing the Iron Curtain many times. The scene was small, exciting, elitist, excessive, loud, raw, original, intense, life was fast, the world was bleak, the big cities our play ground, no risk, no fun. I immediately loved it and became a driving force in it, as a fish in water. So much space was there to create real new, original art.

What do you think of the modern German industrial scene?

I have no idea whether there is such a thing in Germany. I rather see something like this happening in the US, like the revival of the Chicago scene around WAXTRAX ! and the Cold Waves Festival for instance, and I had a great time touring in the US and Canada between 2010 and 2015, playng WAXTRAX! Retrospectacle in Metro Chicago in 2011 as a guest of En Esch, Raymond Watts and Günter Schulz. Hope I can follow up on that. So, Germany, no idea. Also,, I do not think so much in “scenes” anyway.

Who were your musical influences when you were young?

Black Sabbath, Patty Smith, Throbbing Gristle, Laibach, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Lydia Lunch.

Are there any modern acts that you like to listen to or find inspiration in?

I love Fever Ray, Karin Dreijer being a stunning artist. I love IF I HAD A HEART which became title song in VIKINGS, so I had to watch 89 sequels of this.
I always play guitar to „RED TRAILS“ – her most beautiful and heartbreakingly painful song. If she ever needs a guitarist on stage, I ll be there. What else ? DIE ANTWOORT has some cool tracks. And HAFTBEFEHL, A Kurdish/german gangster rapper and in the same time melancholic music poet from Offenbach am Main, with a killer sound production.

Will you be doing a tour for the album?

I look into touring the US in 2023.

If you could choose any musician (dead or alive) to record with, who would that be and why did you choose them?

Play guitar for Karin Dreijer.

Thank you so very much for gifting us with your time!

My pleasure!

Snake Island | Mona Mur (bandcamp.com)

https://www.facebook.com/monamur.official

https://monamur.com/

https://www.givetake.life/

History Of Guns (HOG) has been around in different incarnations since the mid 90s. A gothic/future industrial group, they caught the ear of goth guru, Mick Mercer in the early 2000s, and he named them as an act to watch. We last heard from them in 2011, and then they went on a hiatus. Come 2022, HOG have a core three members plus the drive to create under the moniker again, which brings us to the latest album, Forever Dying In Your Eyes. Del Alien (vocals) and Max Rael (keyboards, programming) are the two original members joined by Jamu Knight (guitar) and the new release is full of future punk angst, loathing and screw the world attitude. Max, never go the full Marillion, I think Jamu deserves extra cake/beer and if you want to know why, then here is an interview…….

Welcome to the portals of light and darkness which are situated in the Onyx lounge room for convenience. Not sure what exactly they do, but they make a great lighting effect for parties.

HOG: Thank you for having us! We love a good portal. We’ll try not to get distracted by them.

History Of Guns has been around in one form or another since 1996. How did it all kick off for you guys?

Max: Del and I were both recruited by a madman called Stagger Lee into a band called Pre-Hate Machine and History Of Guns kind of evolved out of that…

Del: History Of Guns was something I had been looking for, for years. It all started in a pub over a chat to a stranger about his painted Sisters of Mercy jacket. We got talking and a few weeks later he introduced me to Max in another pub. We then spent every weekend in the studio, often all day, and often all night. We have boxes and boxes of tapes from those days that would take years to get through.

What was it like for in those heady days of youth (and excess as the 90s seemed full of that), playing to large crowds and pulling the attention of one Mick Mercer?

Del: We had some amazing times, and you don’t just walk away from that… When we started gigging, that was bloody great for me, the adrenalin buzz, WOW, I was being me for the first time and have never remembered a gig, not because I was pissed or anything like that but because that moment in time seemed to separate itself from reality.

Max: It all seemed so limitless. Jamming, partying, clubbing. Looking back, we could’ve maybe tried to things a bit more seriously earlier on, but we were having such a great time just playing and staying up all night talking. Playing Whitby Gothic Weekend was a highlight and the Futurepunk events in Camden in London. We have a lot of love for Mick Mercer, he’s supported us right from the beginning.

Do you think there has been a change in the goth/industrial scene since then?

Max: That’s a tricky one, as there’ve been times when we’ve been more involved in the scene in the UK than others. It’s sad there’s less clubs around, but then we’re not as young as we were… being out late-night clubbing isn’t compatible with having a family. We used to go to every Whitby Gothic Weekend, and keep meaning to get back there, but it’s been a while. It’s great that Joel’s running the Goth City festival in Leeds. I’d love to go back to Wave Gotik Treffen again in Leipzig. I guess thinking globally, we’re even more out of touch than we are here in the UK so not best placed to comment.

Del and Max, you are founding members. What is it like for you both to have been involved in this project for this amount of time?

Max: We’ve been through so much together over the years, both in the band and in our personal lives. When we don’t see each other for a while, I have to remember that Del’s internet persona on Facebook is very different to the Del I know in real life. Like many long-running double-acts we love each other, but we argue and fall out a lot. Things can escalate really quickly. We’ve both made many mistakes over the years, and at some level blame each other for History Of Guns not having been more successful or making any money. Basically, I do all the work, and then Del criticizes it, and I don’t take criticism very well and get upset, and then Del calls me a snowflake, and I say he lacks empathy, and it goes from there… But then these days we make up pretty quickly. I think Jamu wondered what he’d gotten into when he first joined.

Newest member is guitarist Jamu. How was he lured…into the fold so to speak?

Jamu: Del knew I was a guitarist and by hook or by crook, we ended up trying to start a project called “Mystery of Graves”. After hearing the sort of stuff I could do he called Max, and he popped over with his ivories, and it kicked off from there really, but I was very, very drunk after that…

Del: It always happens in pubs and clubs, people find out you’re in a band and they tell you they can play. Well, I have often given people a chance and met some bloody laughable characters that probably in their mind could play, and Max and I have paid studio time and just looked at one another, no words needed! Jamu is a strong character, he’s likeable so I gave him a go and he blew my mind, so I rang Max and said you have to hear this, and so that was that sorted! I think if we get to spend more time in the studio he will let rip more. I think he holds back (don’t tell him I said that… Oh damn! Odds are he may read this interview!)

Daniel Vincent is a member of Decommissioned Forests with Max but also appears on the new album. Can you tell us about the these shadowy fellows in the background?

Max: Daniel Vincent is best known for The Resonance Association (which I’d heartily recommend to anyone who likes instrumental music that pushes genre boundaries). I’m lucky enough to have been friends with him for many years. He’s been into the guns world and jammed and collaborated with us before and just about survived, we’ve remixed each other, and Del guested on vocals on a TRA track some years back.

Also, we have Jason Knight who used to play guitar in Deathboy and was our live drummer for a bit, and then our long-term collaborator and my oldest friend, Gary Hughes, who has, I think, made an appearance on every album we’ve done. We’re very lucky to have Bob Barker back for the artwork. Bob, alongside the stunning photographer Scott Wylie, was responsible for the artwork for our third album, “Acedia” that I’m naked in, so we know we can trust him.

The new album is “Forever Dying In Your Eyes” and it has been 11 years since your last full release. How exciting was it to get the new album out and what prompted you to do so?

Jamu: The album “Forever” was, I thought, supposed to be an EP, but we just kept writing more stuff, it grew into what we have released. I personally am very proud of how it turned out.

Max: When I came back to music after taking a break to do a horribly demanding college course, I was going through phases of enjoying playing and writing but kept found myself questioning everything, and doubt is poison for trying to mix or finish anything. I kept questioning what was our motivation for releasing new music. There had to be a valid reason and I wasn’t sure what it was. It’s not like we’re doing it for the money, and posterity is just as vulgar as money. And if it’s for validation or hoping for good reviews to prop up a struggling ego or hoping for a little self-esteem boost then that’s all wrong. History Of Guns has always been a universe co-created by Del and I that we invite other musicians to join and then we create a world together. Sometimes that’s just for an afternoon jam session that never gets heard after the session, but sometimes we create a world and feel some kind of urge to communicate it outwards to see if it connects and lands with any listeners out there. It’s been a while, but, “Forever Dying in Your Eyes”, is our latest communication to the outside world.

Del: Bloody life gets in the way. What are we doing? Why have we stopped turning out music like we used to? Depression? Work? Relationships? Society in general? Who knows but they are all my enemy that stops me doing what I want to do.

Your last release was “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Up At Twelve” which came out in 2011. How do you think your sound has progressed between these two albums?

Max: The wheels were coming off after the collapse of the “Acedia” tour and the rest of the band quit. Looking back, we should have stopped and taken some time out, then maybe split the album 4 material into two separate EPs as we were very much disintegrating and falling apart as I was trying to finish it. I pushed on past breaking point to get the album done and decided to include our own collapse as a key theme of the album. At some level I knew it was destructive, there’s a lyric that goes, “these songs aren’t making you better, these songs are making you worse.” I couldn’t get sober vocal takes, so after many exasperated tries I decided to include the drunken takes as part of the disintegration, which in retrospect I don’t think I’d do again.

Our two most successful albums have been the first and third, “Flashes of Light” and “Acedia”, and although one is electronic, and the other is full 5-piece band, they’re both focused in one coherent style of music and self-contained, whereas albums two and four genre-hop and are pretty chaotic to listen to. For the new album, it was clear we should try and focus again. Ground ourselves with a solid foundation which could either be a final album, or a starting point for a new chapter. This was made a lot easier by having Jamu on board, it helped us form a solid sound and style which I was able to take into the sound design stage for the album. In keeping with the theme of communication, the vocals and lyrics are quite prominent in the sound design, to get that sense that the whole piece is intended as a communication.

“You Wanted To Live” was the first single off the album, which is a very heavy and dark affair. Tell us why you chose this as the kick off track for the world?

Max: “You Wanted to Live” seems to be doing really well out in the world and we’re proud of it. The origins of the song were created by Daniel Vincent for an idea he had for a possible The Resonance Association / History Of Guns collaboration eight or nine years ago, but Del and I were in a bad place (again!) and it took a long time for us to actually do any work on our side of it. Before Jamu joined, we had a session just the two of us in Bishops Stortford with a bottle of vodka and this was the only thing we had to work on, and that’s when Del improvised the main lyric, then we wrote the verses together.

There’s a nod to Wendy O. Williams’ suicide note in there. After the session we went back to Del’s house, and I remember the night ended in a very bleak and dark place, and we didn’t see each other for a while after that. The track became very important to us as we both went on to suffer through some very difficult times, and we’d play rough versions of this track to each other when we were particularly struggling, so the track became an anthem for us, a reason for carrying on. It had to be the first single we released if we ever managed to get back to releasing anything again.

Who came up with the video for “You Wanted to Live”?

Max: That would be our fabulous video director Video Rich from Round Window Media. He also did the follow-up video for “Running in Circles”.

Your second single, “Running In Circles”, has pretty raw vocals. There seems to be a lot of angst in the album?

Del: The reason for the vocal was it was taken from a live jam that was borne at that moment. It was not a good time for me and I wanted the vocals to reflect that man’s pain. Sometimes I listen to it and cringe and wish I re-did them in tune, but would that pain come across? Who knows?

I know Max is very influenced by Coil, but who, musically, have you found influenced you into creating History Of Guns in the first place?

Max: I only got into Coil after we’d already been doing History Of Guns for eight years or so! I think Del and I originally bonded over Killing Joke, Pistols, PIL etc. Stagger Lee was very into Nine Inch Nails and Pop Will Eat Itself and looking back now I can hear all these things in our sound. Going back to Del’s flat after those early rehearsals was the first time I’d properly heard Sisters of Mercy, Alien Sex Fiend, Bauhaus etc. There were also plenty of bands we didn’t agree on and would argue about.

Will HOG be playing live any time soon?

Jamu: I do love the live experience with the guys, and hope we get out there again on the back of this release.

Max: It’s a tricky one. As Jamu says, we’d like to. Ideally, we’d take out a full 5-piece band on tour but that’s a lot of rehearsal time when we don’t live that close and have to juggle jobs, families etc. I guess if the right offer comes along, we could hopefully look at getting a band together and doing a couple of dates.

Who is the motivational force in the band and is there the mopey goth type?

Max: I do everything, and Del complains about it… Jamu tries to keep the peace between us!

Do you guys enjoy the recording experience?

Jamu: The recording process was quite a challenge as bit were recorded all over the place, along with lockdowns, bankruptcy of various studios we went to, it was hard to get a lot done in one hit, but next effort I’m sure we’ll lock ourselves into a studio for a week, with more beer and cigarettes than would be deemed healthy and smash out another kick-ass sonic battering ram.

How do you go about writing these tracks for the album and is it easy or a labour of love?

Max: Most things come out of jamming, so writing is easy. Writing and playing are the fun parts that I absolutely love and the reason why I do music. Recording, mixing, releasing an album and doing all the promo involves a lot of work that I like a lot less, which is part of why it’s taken so long. We’re very fortunate to have Michel from UTM Music Group onboard this time around running the promo. We talk about maybe getting someone else to record and mix so I can just focus on the playing and writing, but then I’m a bit of a control freak and probably need to work a bit harder on letting go of some of the responsibility as it can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. It’s why being in Decommissioned Forests is such a joy for me, because Daniel (Vincent) is the producer, and I don’t have to stress over it.

How much of your own life experiences and moods inhabit these songs?

Del: For me personally, all of the songs I have written, are bits of my life. I try to play with words so it’s not too painfully obvious what the song is about. That’s for the listener to decide. We did a song called “Conspiracy Theory” that sadly did not make it to the album just before the PLANDEMIC started. I’m sure you can see why! The music to it is bloody good, so I’m re-writing the lyric to make it a lot broader because let’s face it, you can’t keep up with this shit show musically, so I think its best just to point at the obvious and let the listener decide.

Max: We’ve always been interested in exploring the human psyche and the human condition, starting with ourselves, and then seeing what’s relevant to others. For me, and Del would disagree with this, but I think in many ways the last track on the new album, “Eyelash”, is a culmination of everything we’ve tried to do up to this point. Part of Del’s genius is to open up and access a completely subconscious layer of his own psyche whilst we’re jamming and improvising, and sometimes quite extraordinary things come out. So again, I’ve kept the original vocal from the original jam because it’s completely open and honest and raw. When he sings, “I hate me” it feels to me like we’ve cut through all the nonsense and construction of self and personality and reached a very core, often hidden part of the self, which I think everyone has to a greater or lesser degree, that part that hates themselves… and finding that, and shining a light on it, for us, for everyone, is one of the reasons why I’m in this band and have released this album.

There’s a lot of talk in the press and society currently about these alleged “culture wars” we find ourselves in, and people questioning the toxicity of things and then seeking to censor or “cancel” things that might be difficult or don’t hold up to a new standard of ethics. But, and this is just my personal opinion, to me that’s going about it all backwards, and censorship is never the answer. The only way to get to a world with less hate and more kindness, empathy, and respect, is to understand that hate, and to stop running from it or trying to just shut it down; we need to allow ourselves to feel it, and only then can we start to heal it. Ultimately, a lot of hate for others stems from an initial hatred of the self.

If History Of Guns were to record an album of cover versions, what would you choose?!

Max: We always used to say in a snooty, pompous voice, “History Of Guns are not a covers band!” But then we did some covers so can’t really say that anymore. I’d like to anything bleak in a minor key perhaps that doesn’t come from the goth/industrial world… maybe “Chelsea Monday” by Marillion.

Jamu: I know Del doesn’t like covering other artists, and I’m not overly keen on covers myself, mainly because I can’t be arsed to work out how the songs go.

What is in the future for HoGs and you good gentlemen?

Max: We have an electronic album which is done musically but just needs a couple of vocal takes to finish called, “Half Light” which is kind of a sequel to our first album “Flashes of Light”. Then I think, if we continue, we’ll build on the writing relationship we’ve started with Jamu and really push things and see where that takes us next. We’ll improvise and jam and experiment and it’ll form into some kind of shape without us trying to consciously make anything preconceived. We’ll keep pushing ourselves to keep evolving and keep trying new things and go in new directions. We sometimes talk about doing a follow-up to our most successful album ‘Acedia’ to be called ‘Anhedonia’ but I’m not sure we, or anyone else, is ready for us to go back there just yet.

Thank you for joining us in our existential crisis, which we never rush because, honestly, how can you enjoy a crisis in a rush!

HOG: We are one big existential crisis, but if there’s one thing that anyone can say about us, it is that we are History Of Guns. Thank you very much for having us, it’s appreciated.

Forever Dying in Your Eyes | History Of Guns (bandcamp.com)

History of Guns | Facebook

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You would have to say that those individuals that create harsh industrial power and rhythmic noise, are a pretty unique bunch, as they form strong and danceable music tracks. STAHLSHLAG is Sebastian Sünkler and he is also one of these amazingly talented humans. With the release of his latest album, A Zone Of Silence, we thought ‘hey, we have a few questions’ and we know the super lovely Sebastian was up for the challenge of answering those very questions. I have to say that Sebastian might have the coolest wife on the planet…..and if you want to find out why, then you better get reading!

Welcome dear Sebastian, to Onyx where all hopes and dreams can be built and perish.

STAHLSCHLAG has been around since the mid 2000s. What was Sebastian up to musically before your current project?

I started to produce music some years before STAHLSCHLAG. My first steps were kind of dark electro tunes in a project called Vicious Circle with German vocals. It was the time when I discovered so called trackers as software to make sample based music. A friend of my older brother showed Fast Tracker 2 for MS DOS to us and I was totally hooked and fascinated since using trackers is kind of nerdy programming music rather than produce in a more conventional way. I wrote two albums and also released them by myself but well it was more something I shared with friends. It was also a little different then because it wasn’t so easy to do self promotion on the web like we can do now. Also producing was more complicated in a way. I didn’t have money for good gear so I relied mostly on samples I ripped from tunes in tracker file format I downloaded on modarchive.org or I used free samples from download sites. Anyways this is how I started 22 years ago. I still work with trackers but they are modern now supporting everything I need. I just love the workflow to produce from top down in patterns putting the notes step by step and manipulate samples.

I always am curious about the scene in different countries. Where you are in Germany, what was the dark/industrial scene like when you first started out and what is it like now?

I loved my first years in the scene. I have been into it since I was 18. We had great Gothic and Industrial parties in Hamburg and awesome concerts and festivals, more than we have now. It was totally exciting. I also loved that we had many printed magazines to inform us about new music and I really loved to discover new stuff just by checking out CDs in a store. To me it was always mostly about the music and it is still like that. I think the scene here is still great. Many efforts to keep it alive even if it gets harder. COVID had a big influence on it. Small places and events closed their doors. But I believe the scene will always survive. We still have parties everywhere and the biggest European dark festivals in Germany. What I also love is the diversity in the scene in the past and now. Sure also the dark scene has its problems with weird people and idiots (like everywhere when people are involved), I still think in the end it is an open and peaceful group of people and we can be happy in Germany to have many ways to live it out.

What prompted you to start STAHLSCHLAG?

Well, the short answer is, my wife did. She asked me in 2006 to try producing music like Xotox or KiEw because she was totally into rhythmic noise and industrial. I can just say I wasn’t so much. I was more into dark electro and future pop. But well I gave it a try and STAHLSCHLAG was born. She also had the idea for the name. We produced an EP and two albums together. Fortunately Jay from the band reADJUST found our music on MySpace and recommend to a small label in Florida. It was the first home for our music and even if it didn’t work out well, the record label helped us to get noticed. I can also say that MySpace was the best platform to promote our music. I miss it. 😉 

What is it about harsh power/rhythmic noise that you love and drew you into creating it?

I think noise is such a great creative tool. You can do so much with it and to me personally it has something very meditative. I can relax so well listening to harsh noise. For the rhythmic noise, I think it is just so powerful and is the perfect companion to any beat. I love how it just flows and even in my calmer tracks, I always need noise at least as textures. Noise is just wonderful.

This year has seen you release your latest album, “A Zone Of Silence”, 2 years after the release of “ALIVE!”. So we are just wondering….why do all the albums start with A?

The first albums I produced with my wife started with A. I found it interesting just to continue like that, always looking for the right word with A to describe the feeling and topic of an album. It is a nice little challenge. 

“ALIVE!” was a stunning example of rhythmic noise. How hard or easy was it to write “A Zone Of Silence”?

It is actually always the same. I never have a real idea or plan when I start to work on new music. Everything can inspire me. Something I read, watched or listened to. Sometimes I just play around with sounds or produce something as a meditation. Making music is my escape from the world. It helps me a lot, kind of like therapy too. What really helps me too is that I never think about what’s trendy or what I should do next as a release. Of course I think you can always notice my sound but I don’t work by rules or genres. I do what I feel like and what I love. It was actually easy to write A Zone Of  Silence because first I just planned it as EP with less tunes, all slower and darker but then I thought fuck it, I will mix styles on a new album as usual. I know that I tend to be diverse on every album but this is what I love. No rules, just doing what I am in the mood for. 

There were hints in “ALIVE!” that your style was slowly changing to incorporate other sounds. Can you tell about these changes and how it affected the newest album?

One important thing to me is trying something new all the time. I love to challenge myself and since it feels like everything is possible now also in a technical view  (so many tools, so many instruments, so much computer power), I don’t limit myself. In ALIVE! I wanted to combine cheesy synth melodies with noise just because I thought why not. I had the idea it would work well together. I did it already in the past but focused more on it on the album. A Zone Of Silence was a new challenge. I noticed that I love cinematic and tribal sounds more and more, so I decided to try to mix some of it to my typical STAHLSCHLAG sounds. In the end I will always do something like that because I never want to sound the same. It would just bore me.

This album sees guest vocalists, combining their vocal talents and lyrical skill with your music. Can you tell us about each of these artists and how they came to be on the album?

One of my other ideas to challenge myself was to work with vocals in my music and because I suck at writing lyrics I was looking for guest vocalists. I got such a big feedback on a post on Facebook and I really would love to work with all people who want to collaborate but well I would have to write many more tunes then. 

The artists on the album are all amazing people, I knew before already. I met them all on social media and we worked together with remixes. I sent all demos for the album to them and they could pick a track.

Aly-x from Sublimenal Stimuli is such a great vocalist and she writes such great lyrics. She actually did two vocal collaborations for the album and I will release the second one on the remix release later this year. On this album you can hear her in Lost Dreams. She also did vocals for another unreleased song. So you will hear more of her in STAHLSCHLAG tracks in the future. Working with her is a dream. I just send her instrumental tracks and she gets inspired, writing lyrics and sending vocals back in a few days.

Chris from Morbid Echo did the lyrics and vocals for Crushed March. Morbid Echo is a great dark electro project from Hamburg, so he is kind of my neighbor. Working with him was so great too. He got the emotions and my idea from Crushed March immediately. He wrote the lyrics and sent me the recorded vocals in 2 days. Really so amazing and I am sure to work more with him in the future too.

Rick from Mikrometrik wrote the lyrics and did the vocals for Dawn of Man. Mikrometrik is a great dutch dark electro project. I have been a fan of it from the beginning. It was the same experience with Rick like I had with the other guest vocalists. Rick totally got the idea and mood of the track which I wanted to use as an opener anyways. I changed the track a little after Rick sent me the first version of his vocals. In the end we both made it just better. I think it is really the best tune I could imagine for the album. 

The fourth collaboration is with Lena from Ultra.  This collaboration is even more special. It is not just her perfect German vocals but also the music video which wouldn’t exist without her. Working with her was just awesome. Without her Doomed wouldn’t have this deepness. And I am very grateful for the video. She shot it and produced it. I was just there for three hours, doing what she told me. I am so proud and it was the right choice to release it as a single for the album.

What have these collaborations meant for you as far as your growth as a musician?

They mean a lot to me because they can give my music a final touch I couldn’t imagine before. Also the experience to work with other artists is always fruitful and some of the most important aspects to me in my life as an artist. I look forward to doing more of them. It also means that I have to think different about arranging my music which I already did on A Zone Of Silence. I wrote some of the tracks in a way to leave space for possible vocals. 

There are themes throughout the album, Sebastian, which seem to be related to makind and their seemingly headlong plummet into trying to destroy themselves and everything around them, either through environmental destruction or war. What does it mean for you?

I am a pessimist or maybe a realist. We all know that our planet is in danger but we don’t care. We know that war is going on all the time but we don’t care. I can understand why it is like that. Not because we are all just evil or stupid but I still admit that it is frustrating to me. I think a lot about it, read a lot of philosophy to understand the world and people better but it is just surreal. What I believe is that we all could be more open and kind to each other to make the dawn of man a little better. I don’t believe it will get better in the future but maybe we can at least try not to be too selfish and destructive. The current situation is also one of the main reasons why I don’t have children. 

Even with the industrial power noise, “A Zone Of Silence” holds elements that are ancient feeling, voices, chants and dark magical places of our ancestors. Am I correct in this theory and if so, why did you incorporate this into the music?

Yes, you’re right about that. I was always into mysticism and shamanism. I discovered it while I read a lot of philosophy books. I am agnostic and believe there is more out there. For the album I was discovering great instruments while looking for cinematic sounds. I found these ancestor sounds in some instruments and felt they would be the perfect addition to the sound I was looking for. To me they match great with the whole mood of the album. They give it some more darkness.

I love the vocal tracks but admit there are many of the instrumental ones that I am extremely fond of as well.  I found “Signs” and “Spem liberationis” really sparked my interested. Do you have any favourite tracks off the album?

It is always not easy to answer this question. I can’t say I have favorites but Signs was actually the first track I wrote which had some of the mystical and tribal sounds. It was more of an experiment. So I think without it, the album wouldn’t be like it is. I really like all the tracks, I never put tracks on an album when I don’t enjoy them so much. I always have to feel them or I wouldn’t release them. I have over 300 unfinished tracks which I could finish and release but won’t feel. 

You did a Twitch session for the release of the album. How much fun was this?

It was so much fun also because there were such great people there, celebrating with me. I am always so grateful, if other people enjoy my music too. I also had technical issues and maybe talked too much but I still got great feedback. It felt so good to do it. 

What pieces of equipment do you rely on the most when recording?

I actually don’t record much, just notes from a midi keyboard for melodies. Most of my work is inside the box which means I do it all in my digital audio workstation (DAW), the tracker Renoise. I load samples into it like drum sounds or load virtual synthesizers and instruments and then do a lot of sound design like my distortions. 

You put the album on Bandcamp for name your price and all money made from sales is going to the charity, Equiwent. Please tell us about Equiwent and why you chose them?

Equiwent is a small international aid organization for animals and humans. They work primarily in Eastern Europe to care about working horses and emergency care for all horses. They also care about the street dogs in Romania and run a free veterinary clinic there. Their project Equiwent helps people is a program to support children, poor people and people with disabilities in Romania. Romania is a very poor country in Europe. They also care about refugees from the Ukraine. 

I support them because it is a small transparent organization. I believe in what they do and can follow their hard work on social media. 

You do a lot of remixes for other acts. This must be something you enjoy doing and is it a great way to network with other musicians?

I always love doing that. Destroying the great music by others is so much fun. Seriously, it is really always a great experience. I enjoy most remixing  tracks of other genres. It is always a challenge. And yes, it is an awesome way to network. I found great people just because of it. 

I have to ask about your other project, In Tenebris. Although electronic, this is so different to STAHLSCLAG, far more ambient. Can you tell us why you felt the need to create In Tenebris, will there be another album and if so, because “Abyss” was the debut, will the next album also start with A?

In Tenebris was born because someone asked me to do a soundtrack for a lost places video. Well, he didn’t enjoy what I did for the video but I loved what I created. Slow dark atmospheric music, so I decided to write more of it. The track Thanatophobia on the new STAHLSCHLAG album is actually a track I wrote for In Tenebris but I thought it fits great there too. Producing such music is even more meditative to me so yes I will produce more  and for sure release a new album too. I am also sure I can’t resist looking for a way to start the album name with A.

Sebastian, you are now an independent artist without a label. Does this make things easier or harder for you?

It is totally fine to me to be an independent artist right now. I want to stay like that for a while but you never know. It doesn’t change so much since Crunch Pod gave me all artistic freedom too. I always did a lot of the promotion by myself and in terms of success. I can already say that A Zone Of Silence is my most successful album so far. I got great reviews, videos for it and also sold it at most. I am so grateful and happy that I can reach other people with my music and that I have fans for many years already.

I believe XoToX are a big influence musically and you can hear that in your music, so what bands and musicians got you into the electronic scene?

My first experiences with electronic music are great artists from the 80s. I always loved synth pop but my first experiences with darker electronic music were bands like Funker Vogt, Suicide Commando, Apoptygma Berzerk at the end of the 90s. I felt totally in love with that kind of music and it didn’t change.

Who influences you now?

I think now I get influenced by every artist I work with. I am lucky because I get to know so much music which isn’t so well known just because I collaborate and remix. This is my biggest influence now because I have to deal with the music in a different way when I have to remix it. So it is a long list because I have done at least 60 remixes so far. 

If you could choose a favourite band or song to remix, who or what would it be?

I remixed Xotox which is so amazing already. I think if I could choose I would enjoy to remix something more calm and destroying it. Something by VNV Nation or Solar Fake would be nice. Or maybe something from a total different genre. Doing a STAHLSCHLAG remix of a black metal song could be awesome. 

What is next for STAHLSCHLAG and Sebastian?

I have several plans for STAHLSCHLAG. First of all one or maybe more remix releases with remixes of tracks from A Zone Of Silence. I asked for remixers on Instagram and Facebook and got a lot of feedback. If all artists really do it, I will get over 30 remixes. I also plan to release a new EP or album on my birthday on January 31 next year. I know it is pretty early but I have some more tracks ready and vocal collaborations too. 

Plans for Sebastian are more about his PhD work. I really need to do less for STAHLSCHLAG to get more time. So I plan to do a break of new releases and remixes after my birthday. But I will still perform at online events and on stage and new music by STAHLSCHLAG will always come. 

Thank you for being one of the super wonderful people in the industrial scene and doing this interview!

Music | STAHLSCHLAG (bandcamp.com)

STAHLSCHLAG | Facebook

Music | mikrometrik (bandcamp.com)

Music | Ultra (bandcamp.com)

Music | Morbid Echo (bandcamp.com)

Music | Sublimenal Stimuli (bandcamp.com)

The new EP, From The Sky, by Berlin’s Golden Apes, was a nice surprise for fans and a return to a band based sound, on the label, Icy Cold Records. Brothers, Peer Lebrecht and Christian Lebrecht are back with new band members in the fold. The group is known for both their gothic romanticism and mystical themes as well as Peer’s sonorous baritone singing, so From The Sky, indeed, has this in spades. Dark and rich landscapes are painted for you to explore, with historical touch stones and spiritual pools. All you need to do is give yourself over to the music. We were lucky enough to have the exquisite Peer, talk to us about the German music scene, new music from the Golden Apes and new members, as well as a little about his solo project Voyna.

Welcome to darkness within Onyx, Peer of Golden Apes. Get comfortable for we will be plumbing the inky depths of your gothic mind. Coffee might be a good choice of beverage on such journeys.

It´s here in my hand, bottomless and tasty but I have to be careful, cause the tracks seem quite battered…love the sound though. Sceneries are passing…fields and caves, skies and electricity…. Just a bit annoyed by the guy next to me who´s muttering weird sentences the whole time, nodding unwaveringly in the rhythm of the wheels. I don’t get it….but I´m glad that no one is here with me in the compartment…a reservoir dam…comfortable…

Golden Apes has been around for 24 years. When you first started the band, did you think that you would still be doing this more than 2 decades later?

Heaven…why should I have even done this! When we started the whole thing some handful of years ago, the last thing on our mind was a scheme, a concept, a plan…it was all about the now, the moment of being in the room and creating music together. I mean we were all in our twenties and idealism commonly fucks with strategic thinking…as a twenty-year-old boy with the idea of how it will be when you´re forty! No, we just made our way hand over hand along the next song, the next album, the next show. And somehow it seems that this enthusiasm has never left us.

GOLDEN APES has never been a big player in the game, no money-machine, no bold headline and let´s be honest – I´m quite glad about. No opportunism, just the realization that this might be the reason why we made it that long. We always nursed the freedom to do what we want whenever we felt for and this kept the muses attractive, kept the fire ablaze. Yes, I´m proud of all the things we did and faced over the last two decades, all the places and all the faces because it´s so much beyond anything those 3 boys could have visioned back then while torturing their amps….

Germany has been a fertile place for the gothic scene. Why do you think that is and what was the scene like when you first started the band?

It´s an interesting question and worth a more scientific approach than my humble view on things to find a satisfying answer. There might be so many reasons…geopolitical ones, socio-cultural ones, historical ones….a maltreated continent, a muddy pud of origins, roots and culture, a conflict of generations, rebellion, a desire for a new identity and values, economic imbalances, iron curtains and existential fragilities…Central Europe and especially Germany has always been a hotspot for uproar and rebellion.

Let´s jump from 1968 to 1989, from the leftist activities of the late 70´s to the rightist disgrace in the mid 90´s. The common link is the rejection and questioning of values and morals of the parental generation and a youth´s desire to reshape and redefine an identity and a heritage-linked context (consequently in both directions in both parts of Germany). I think it was this uncoupling from the past and the realization of the future as a blank page that led to a lot of experimentation and alternative ways of life (or to the more nihilistic approach when it comes to punk). As with art and ways of expression. Look what happened to music when the ones like Neu! or Kraftwerk brought it near to magnetic coils! Or the whole Post-Punk (aka Neue Deutsche Welle) Petri dish in and around Düsseldorf. The avantgardistic melting pot West Berlin.

I mean Germany was the cradle of Romanticism, so it seems obvious that Goth found a proper habitat here… Heaven, so much theory. The guy next to me is humming concerningly… What was the scene like? Exciting. Berlin was a good place to be in the mid-nineties. The whole sub-culture/underground organism was growing, expanding, trans-mutating,..there were so many clubs, venues, events…official, illegal, elitist, debatable…but of course this is just an evaluation linked to a certain time and the perception and condition of the protagonist. Of course, most of the spots doesn’t exist anymore, most of the cast has moved on and genres had their ups and downs but that does not mean that I think the modern scene is boring. You’ve just changed your point of view. I’m quite sure that a lot of kids out there feel the same rush, rapture and stimulating input like we did back then…

Do you think the gothic/industrial scene has changed in those years?

Would be sad if not, or? I think it’s necessary and essential that an organism keeps developing. It has to grow, it has to expand, it has to deal with conditions and circumstances, it has to swallow things up and spit things out, occupy new areas and leave familiar ones… I´m not the most reliable mirror though cause my point of view was and is always at the edge of things but yes, I´d say the whole scene has changed a lot over the years. Definitions became more blurry and so created interesting stylistic intersections and I think the acceptance of external influences has grown a lot, what is essential imho (in my humble opinion). A state of mind is always a reflection of the position within the system of coordinates and so is art….

So how and why did Golden Apes become a band?

We have stopped. Half-way on an open field. Is there really no horizon or is just the sun dazzling? Decent headaches and the guy gets shaky. There is a noise out there…some kind of hissing or scratching….is it from the wires above? Or from the mouth of the woman starring through the door inside the compartment? There´s no seat vacant, go on! There´s no seat vacant, there´s no one here…but how and why? How and why?

How and why does a band becomes a band? I don´t know. I can´t even point on a certain moment in time and say: That´s the beginning of the timeline. Maybe something like a band appeared for the first time when Christian and I met our guitarist/founding-/longtime member Eric for the first time back in 1998? Or was it when we finished the first song together? Just the three of us, a vintage drum machine and a cheesy keyboard, sitting on the floor of my flat and playing our hearts out, with no idea about the fact that 24 years later Eric is long gone, we’ve made 10 albums so far, toured Russia and the US of A, met so many exciting bands and artists along the way and I´ll sit here now and answer a question asked on the other side of the globe? Yes, maybe that was the moment. No thunder from above and no whispered oath by candle light, no subterranean rush of fog, lights and alcohol, no palpable deflection on the historico-cultural measuring tool – just a song, first floor, somewhere in Berlin…

The first EP you self released in 1999 was “The Outside’s Inner Life”, notably with the cover of The Cure’s “The Figurehead” and in 2000 released your debut album “Stigma 3:am”. Looking back at those, how do you think your sound has changed or progressed over the years?

I really, really, really hope that it did. On my knees, hands folded…. Don’t get me wrong – it´s not about regrets or denying any kind of past or things we did then but about aspiration, motivation, balance and expectations…and most important: calm. The realization that things take time and that the bottom of the sea might be deeper than the surface pretends. I honestly enjoy walking down the memory lane to the early years. They were filled with so much excitement and naïve storminess, with so much enthusiasm and so less filters and I´m so happy about the fact that we were able to keep some of those things with us all along the way. But did the music really change? I even don´t know. Somehow I even think that “Stigma” is closer to “MALVS” or “Kasbek” than anything between. But who am I to judge…

2019 saw the album “Kasbek” released and then all went silent from the Golden Apes apart from the single “Satori”. Also, Peer, you had started your solo venture, Voyna and covid hit us. What was happening between 2020 and 2022?

A quite strange period indeed. For the first time since the moments I talked about above, there was a moment of doubt if the band was still alive after all. After leaving Kasbek ways parted and somehow I never even thought this could happen. It was a strange moment to be honest. Of course it was not the first time that opinions differed, directions turned, lives changed and people left but here it was completely without having a plan B…and the people were very special to me. So Christian and me decided to take a little time out, some moments to take a deep breath and let the waters calm. I mean this whole pandemic interlude was a quite perfect occasion for this. Inventory…table of content.

As early as the end of 2019 I was working on some ideas for something that would become “The Cinvat Bridge” a bit later and it was quite time- and thoughts-consuming, so the band causa was put a bit on hold for moment but of course it wasn´t meant to end like this. Having “Parting” as the last song ever recorded would have been a bit too much pathetic! And so we had the idea to send some sign of life out there, some sort of “We´re well, hope you too”. “Satori” was written quite quickly and with the help of Denis Ivanov (Brandenburg) and Thommy Hein we went into the studio and the both of us made that little video. And it all felt quite good. There wasn´t even anything missing for a second. Felt familiar. But of course it was just a placebo condition…and there were still some vacant chairs in the room… What was the next question about?

There are new member of the band. Could they be introduced to the readers please?

More than a pleasure! (For this is not about importance, hierarchy and sympathies I´ll introduce them chronologically!)

Frank was the first who joined us on guitars last autumn. Retro audition. A simple ad on a musician board. Fortunate coincidence….lucky us.

Gerrit is a musical old stager. He´s been around for a while already, with a lot of different outfits…most notably Frank The Baptist maybe. And this was also the segment where the ways were crossing. You know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone…Berlin is a clachan when it comes to this. Really glad that he´s with us now.

Joe on drums is the latest in the league. Strange situation – although he´s already with us for a moment (he knew someone, who knew someone, who knew Gerrit…) and takes credits for the drums on the “From the Sky” EP, we still wait for our common live debut, cause unfortunately he wasn´t available for our little US-tour. So we´re all excited about autumn…

And I have to confess that I really like this constellation. Feels comfortable…seems the chemistry is right…

So, now it is 2022, there are new members and the release of your new EP, “From the Sky” which is beautifully rich sounding. How did the EP come together?

It was a logical step in the end. After doing a few shows together (still with the drum machine) we all felt that we seemed to be in tune, on a personal level and on the musical one, of course. And so we wanted to find out how it will work and feel in a creative process. “Satori” felt like yesterday´s news meanwhile and I already had prepared some 20 or so demos for….all possible contingencies and so we chose the 4 that made up the EP in the end and decided to put them out. A sonic foundation stone so to say.

And I hope the proof is acoustically irrefutable – it also worked in a creative process.

Why was “Satori” included into the EP?

Cause it felt so lonely out there. It neither saw a physical release nor was it ever embedded in a musical context. It felt not even like a distinct, concluded chapter and so we removed some dust from its surface and gave a late home.

The single is also the title track, “From The Sky”. What prompted you to choose this track?

Although I remember that we even had a few words about it during the last moments of recording, there was never a real serious discussion about. We all just love it. It was the right tune to come up with after all this silence. Especially in the relation to the new cast. The energetic drumming, the rich and massive guitars…the perfect status quo.

The music video is extremely interesting with a mixture of what looks like alchemy and the natural world. How does this tie into the song?

If you´ve seen some of our videos (we´re quite lazy with that I have to confess) then you might have realized that I like to use the song more as soundtrack than creating an visual explanation. Its more an adding of meaning in both directions. The visuals can unveil possible new or alternate interpretations to the words, while the music feeds the pictures with atmosphere and clues. But it´s never separated then both share the same metaphorical location. Maybe the words are just a memory of one of the guys in the video? Or are the moving pictures the prequel to what the song is about? The things happened after?

I like to have those unanswered questions. Think about the video´s opening sequence…it is all in the same head, it´s all under the same sky… …the woman is still there. She´s pressing her forehead against the windowpane. No noise in her eyes although the birds get nervous in their treetops. It is autumn all of sudden…winter, spring…easter fires in the passing hills…ridges of reptiles. There are just a few stars in the sky tonight. Tiny, inverted punctures…zodiacs on her skin. I shouldn´t have talked about her! I shouldn´t even think about her! Autumn again…

The Voyna remix was a really interesting contrast in style using only electronics? What was the inspiration?

Having this VOYNA identity is a very satisfying luxury. All parameters are in your own hands only. Time, angle, point of view, scenery and costumes…I think I wanted to know how this song would sound if I would have made it on my own. No band, no additional input, just me and my limited instrumental skills. It is like one story retold by two different persons…it differs in details, in perspective, in things perceived as important. What would the woman tell about me now?

My favourite track is “Hole (In My Head)” as I love that fusion of noise with something rather otherworldly. Do you have a favourite track off the EP or one you are excited to play live?

I´m quite sure that everyone has his own favorite among the tracks. And I´m quite sure that the reasons for this are as different as the same story retold by two different persons. For me it really depends on the season in my head and the way the rain falls but the few shows so far revealed that it´s exciting to play any of them…collectively spoken…

When I hear the lyrics, it reminds me a little of those early post-punk/gothic bands but also descriptive like a book. Where do you get your inspiration for your music?

Lyrics or music? No matter because it has all the same origins. How does it find us? It comes by cellular division, comes with the erythrocytes and leucocytes. It occupies with every lung expanding, with every molecule passing your pharynx. It finds you by the neurons twitching, synapses twinkling…. circuits. Electricity again….

As I have previously said, your music can sound otherworldly? What is it about the mystical and shadowy worlds that attracts you to write about them?

Again I just can answer this from a personal point of view only, although I think that there might be some parallels. The first band of this “genre” that found me lost in its music was The Cure. I was twelve when “Disintegration” was released and it´s fatal what this kind of melancholy and weltschmerz can do to a 12-year-old boy! And from there the roads got serpentines. There was lot of Joy Division, there were the Fields Of The Nephilim, Mister Nick Cave passed by with “Henry´s Dream” and “Let Love In”, Cocteau Twins and the other 4AD Perseids and I finally gave my heart to The Psychedelic Furs. Wild and passionate romances…and then came David Bowie…

What is it that makes things so attractive which act as the perfect Yang to that rational Ying we call reality? Those corridors, stairwells and false floors in our mind we learned to deny for not feeling guilty while blinded by the blazing light of ratio and common sense? Why are we so irritated but attracted by the laws and logics in our dreams, by the language in which our subconscious is whispering to us? I don’t know. I have to think about…

Was Covid a help or a hindrance in recording the EP?

That pandemic didn´t play any essential role in the recordings to be honest. When we went into the studio in early February it felt gracefully normal to wear a mask while sitting in the control room. Clean hands, clean heads…after that long time a lot of things became routine.

Peer you have such a deep lush baritone vocal range, so does singing in such a low register, sometimes become an issue when recording or playing live?

Even when trying to answer with a bit more syllables than just a “no” – the only reasonable answer to this is that “no”. It´s my voice. I got used to it.

Going to have to ask, being brothers in a band, is that easy or do you have monumental grumpy moments? Obviously you both have a strong family tie though but does that sometimes make decisions difficult?

Somehow it´s strange but while entering the rehearsal room we completely cast off any blood ties, so if there are moments of troubles, they´re not caused by a genetic relationship. We are friends then, like anyone else in the room. It´s more the fact that we both navigate this ship for more than twenty years together now, which binds us together on certain elitist level but that´s just a mental bond, no hierarchic preponderance…

Golden Apes are touring again. How excited are you to be back out there again?

Endlessly. I think we all are still drawing on those days across the ocean we had in May. Although it was quite helpful on the one hand to have some time off for focusing on new music and things, on the other hand it is really time. Ready to hit the road in 3, 2, 1…

The music we listen to in our formative years molds our tastes in a way. Which bands or individuals did you listen to or fall in love that got you into this genre?

Do you listen to modern music? I ask because many say they do not stray from their first loves. If you do, who inspires you now?

To be honest I´m temporarily not really into contemporary music, especially when it comes to this particular genre. I even don’t know why precisely. I´m still a fervent admirer of Russia’s musical underground/sub-culture, cause there´s a lot of exciting, progressive and maverick music to find ( – that´s why it was additionally special to tour there and meet lots of brilliant bands and artists), but recently music became more and more a tool for triggering and adjusting atmospheres and sceneries in my head. I´m addicted to the music of the late Harold Budd, couldn´t live without the sonic soundscapes of Brock Van Wey, Moon ate The Dark, John Foxx, Eraldo Bernocchi, Robin Guthrie…it´s the depth of the water I´m into these days, not the height of the waves…

If someone asked you to record 10 cover songs what would they be?!

I was quickly channeling the other guys and the ouija board told that we´d like to reinterpret 10 songs from the latest VOYNA album…

We hear there is basically a new album already written. When might this be unleashed on the world and what else in the future for Golden Apes?

It´s a fetus so far with about 15 demos hand-picked and one by one we´re dealing with it now. There´s even the chance to hear some of them at the upcoming shows but maybe this is more than I’m allowed to tell. The idea was to enter the studio anytime next year and then we will see. Would be nice to have it out in 2023.

…now I remember her face! It was her the whole time! The fire, the noise in the walls, the solar spots, the read rope in the window, the injections…the crazed promises back then in Delphi…How could I forget……?

Thank you dear Peer for your time, an EP that is epic and I bid you safe travels.

Thanks for the coffee and your words. It was more than a pleasure…

From The Sky | Golden Apes (bandcamp.com)

Golden Apes | Facebook

http://www.goldenapes.com/

In recent times, the name Josie Pace has been popping up in our social media news feed and suggested YouTube watching. She is the epitome of a punk riot girl, looking to knock you on your arse with her no nonsense, industrial rock music and style. Pace, after a raft of singles, has signed to Negative Gain Records, released her debut album, IV0X10V5 and is about to go on tour with Aesthetic Perfection and GENCAB, so there is no better time to talk to Josie about what has lead up to this point.

Josie Pace, welcome to the Onyx Thunderdome, where alt music reigns supreme.

You are from Detroit City, home of Motown Records and Alice Cooper but to name a few musical wonders that have sprung from there. Did this have a huge influence on you throughout your childhood?

Detroit sound has definitely influenced me throughout my entire musical journey. Glenn Frey in The Eagles was a huge writing influence on me. Growing up listening to them shaped the way that I structure my songs. A lot of Motown, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, influenced me very young as well. I remember my entire family jamming in the car to “Superstitious” by Stevie Wonder when I was maybe 7. Small moments like that really solidified my desire to be an artist. Another Detroit band that has influenced me quite a bit is Jack White continues to create fresh, unique, and meaningful music. He has even influenced a lot of my newer songs as well.

What is the alt rock/darkwave scene like in Detroit?

The dark wave scene, while still a bit of an underground genre, is small but strong. I feel we are very dedicated here in Detroit and we all know how hard it is to get to the next level, so we help each other in any way that we can.

Josie, you posted a video on YouTube, which was seen by Musician/producer Ken Roberts and since then you have forged a musical partnership with him. What is it like working with Ken and how do you complement each other?

Working with Ken really took off from the beginning. He has been in a few successful bands in the past and I trust him with situations that I am unsure of because of his experience in the music industry. We became very close friends and I can now practically read his mind! We always bounce ideas around and work together to create new music that really pushes the boundaries of not just the genre we are in but pushes the boundaries of art itself.

Do you find he pushes you to delve further into your craft?

I’d say he definitely thinks much higher of myself than I do. Even though staying humble is important, it is also important to give yourself credit where credit is due. Ken believes whole heartedly in my abilities whether it be writing, playing guitar, performing live or shooting photos and music videos.

There have been a number of singles released before the album and 8 of them are on your debut album “IV0X10V5”. Your original tracks seem more synthpop based and become increasingly brash and abrasive, embracing a punk attitude. Do you feel this is true for yourself?

When first working with Ken, we decided that releasing singles and a music video every few months was the best way to gain momentum in the industry. It took a few years to really dive deep into the genre and to try new things and create songs that pushed the envelope. While I love all of the songs, when we decided that it was time for a full length album, I knew that not all of the singles would make the cut. I’ve grown a lot in my art and in myself throughout the years and I wanted the album to be something that was true to my journey. I dove deeper into my writing and pushed myself lyrically. I feel like the album is a more mature reflection of myself. It has a clear sound and each song resonates with me on a personal level.

Two singles were recorded with Sammi Doll, “Perfect Replacement” and the cover of the iconic Placebo track “Pure Morning”. You both sound like you bounce off each other brilliantly, so how did you end up recording with Sammi?

Ken and I are big fans of IAMX and decided, while working on “Perfect Replacement”, that it would be great to collaborate with someone new. We simply sent her an email. Honestly, a lot of the collaborations and the cool things I get to do, were just because we asked. Sammi sent an email back and was ecstatic about collaborating. After meeting up with her and recording the song and music video, we all became good friends. So when we started work on the Placebo track “Pure Morning”, we called her up again. It seemed like a perfect fit and the message of the song, female friendship, really manifested in the music video (especially the bloopers!). Sammi is an amazing friend and such powerhouse and she is so much fun to work with.

Negative Gain is a well-respected label in the industrial scene. How exciting was it to be signed and releasing your debut album with them?

I was extremely excited to be signed with Negative Gain. Being signed to a label was one of my life long goals. After a few Zoom calls with Roger and Micah about possibly working with them, the family oriented approach to their label was something that really stuck with me. I will divulge that when they had agreed to sign us, I was teary eyed. All of the hard work was coming to fruition and it was a big deal for me. I love working with them and we all push each other to our fullest potential.

For me, I got the feeling, the overall theme of surviving against the odds. What does the album mean to you?

I feel like the album, to me, really encapsulates throwing out your doubts and growing from past mistakes, definitely surviving against the odds like you mentioned. It was only after I had finished the album that I noticed a theme, but I feel like that gives it it’s authenticity. I write as a form of therapy so it only makes sense that the years I have been working and trying to push forward in the music industry, came out in my songs.

Which track would you say is your favourite or best represents Josie Pace?

Man, the track that most represents myself? All of the tracks have pieces of me nestled into them. But I’d say the most raw of them that really captured how my head and my emotions take form is “Vicious”. After the sudden and tragic loss of my close friend, Alyse, I wrote everything that was in my head. Every night that I stayed up crying, I wrote to express my grief and my sadness, my emptiness and my confusion, my anger and my acknowledgment that she was taken too soon, too young, too violently. “Vicious” although it shows how much she means to me, it also shows my vulnerability. I was reluctant to release it or to even record it at all. Not only because it was physically hard for me to get through without choking up, but also because it shows a side of myself that is raw and hard to manage at times. “Vicious” is quite literally my emotions through a very hard time in my life.

What music was the gateway drug into the industrial rock scene?

I’ve always been into rock, no matter what kind of sub genre. I listen to everything and anything that feels authentic and stirs emotion. The Industrial Rock genre really catches my interest especially approaching it the way that we do. Creating a heavy electronic based sound from songs written on acoustic guitar is a challenge and it also creates a strong song no matter what genre you change it into. Industrial is very messy and heavy but it is also purposive and precise.

Who do you listen to now that gets your blood pumping?

Recently I have found myself listening to Alice in Chains. His voice was so iconic and the song structure is so different. I can really learn a lot from their songs. Other than that I am listening to my own album to prepare for my first North American tour with Aesthetic Perfection and GenCAB. If I don’t get excited listening to my own
music I’m doing something wrong.

Did you miss performing live during the depths of the plague
(Covid)?

Without a doubt. During covid we obviously all had a moment (or ten) of uncertainty and fearfulness of what the future holds. I remember at the beginning of 2020, I hadn’t gone to the studio for at least two months. I remember just siting in my writing room and kind of realizing that the future was so unknown that I had a bit of a breakdown. Obviously, after picking myself back up, I decided to hit it harder and I recorded the rest of my first album “IV0X10V5” and we filmed 6 music videos. Even while doing all of that I missed performing live. The human aspect of performing live can’t be matched, I love getting to meet new fans and feeling the energy of the crowd. It is my favorite part of the artistic process.

Can you tell us about the live shows you are now involved in?

I am absolutely ECSTATIC to announce that I will be joining Aesthetic Perfection and label mate, Gen CAB, for the American Psyco Tour starting in October! We are playing 40 dates throughout the US and Canada. This is my first tour and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

If you could pick one Michigan musician (dead or alive) to record with, who would that be?

I would have to pick Jack White. He has done so much throughout his career and he has constantly pushed the envelope and broken boundaries of genres while keeping a very dirty Detroit feel.

What is in the future for Josie Pace?

While I am preparing for my upcoming tour, I am also working on an EP with new music videos as well. Obviously another full length album is on the way in the future as well. I am hoping to jump the pond when it comes to playing live. Getting to Europe would be a dream.

Thanks for rocking with us Josie!

IV0X10V5 | Josie Pace (bandcamp.com)

JOSIE PACE | OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Josie Pace | Facebook

Negative Gain – Obey the Noise

Negative Gain | Facebook

Melbourne’s Roles, are about to release their debut album, There’s A Space, as of the 1st of September. In the lead up, they had a sign up induction and people were able to access the tracks for free, with exclusive content including videos for five days. Louise Love and Luis Gutierrez make up this lovely duo, and their style is abrasive guitar, married to 80s styled synths and Love’s sweet vocals, that creates a post-punk/art rock explosion. We wanted to know what makes Roles tick, so of course we asked them.


Dear Lou and Luis of the band Roles, welcome to the up side of down and reverse is yet another way to continue on a journey.

Hey Adele! Thank you for interviewing us. Lou here, I am going to answer these questions in first person on behalf of Roles.

How did Roles come into being?

My previous music project was a solo electronic pop-thing called Louise Love. I put this on ice in 2016. Looking back, I can see how personal demons played into this. Pursuing music is a tough road even in the best circumstances. I kept trying to push through, but I burnt myself out with all the trying.

After a while, I needed to be creative again. At first, I told myself I was developing an art-project, not another music thing. But it ended-up becoming a bunch of songs.

Coming from Melbourne, what musical projects were you involved in before Roles?

Luis is originally from Caracas and we met in my home town of Fremantle. We have been in Melbourne for about 7 years, before that we were in Hobart for a while. Louise Love (solo) performed in Melbourne from 2015 to 2016. The act also played in Hobart from 2013. Roles is the first music project for Luis. He did however do visual artwork for Louise Love.

Back in WA, I did all kinds of different original music projects. I started singing in a punk band during my last year of high school and kept going from there. I was never really punk. I used to hang around with a group of punks and goths at high school, but I didn’t know how I fitted in with them. It was the same with music. I spent longer than most trying to find my own voice in my song-writing. It wasn’t until I started electronic music production, that I started to feel even close.

Melbourne is a pretty cosmopolitan place and was hit hard by the Covid lockdowns, this especially so for the entertainment industry. What was this like for you both?

Not being able to play or go to gigs sucked. We are yet to make a profit from music, so we weren’t affected like people who make a living from the Arts. Melbourne has the best live music scene in the country, It was really tough on the venues and they are still trying to recover.

Apart from that, we were fine. Luis was able to keep working from home and he was allowed to go see his horse, so he got through it okay. I got job keeper, which was a welcomed paid staycation. I feel sadness that other people suffered and that lives were lost, but I was lucky and made the most of the experience. Having the world slow down, gave the time I needed to work out a lot of my personal shit.

What is the premise behind the name Roles?

We all play different roles in life. It’s good to be aware of that. It’s also a good practice to ask who or what it is that is playing those roles.

Also, the song writing method means that each song is telling someone’s story, so we are playing that role for a few minutes.

Most of your music is based on audio recordings of interviews and conversations. What is it about this style of medium that inspires you?

Every song lyric (so far) has been created from audio transcribed into text. This is cut-up and whittled down into simple lyrics. Each lyric aims to maintain the original meaning and/or story of the speaker.

This was somewhat inspired by PJ Harvey’s work on ‘Let England Shake’ which explores English history and war-time experiences. I loved the idea of not writing about your own personal experiences. It opens up creative possibilities and can evolve your worldview in the process. This approach also harks back to more traditional song writing; as it was used to convey shared stories and teachings.

Who is the main writer or is it a shared exercise?

I write and arrange the songs, but Luis is a big part of Roles.

Luis is a production consultant on each song, nothing gets to the final stage without his approval. He just gets the sound and I trust his judgement on the music more than anyone else. While I often get cranky when he criticises something, I usually end up agreeing with him and fixing it. He has a good ear and very refined taste.

He is a talented visual artist and contributes to Roles in that way. He also created the VolcaFM synth programs I used for the final arrangements. Learning to play the live synth parts was his first experience as a musician and at performing in front of people. He’s really committed to the project.   

I noted that Luis’ playing style reminded me very much of Gary Numan…. does Luis have a small crush on the Numan?

We like Gary Numan, especially his early solo work! Was never a deliberate influence, but we are very happy to sound like him.

How would you describe Roles musical sound?

We describe the sound as post-punk and post-pop. Neither of us are very good musicians, but the song structure is strong. Our minimal approach to the arrangements helps to keep all our earnestness in check.

There’s A Space is the debut album. How excited are you both to get this out into the world?

Very excited. But we are also looking forward to finishing this process so we can focus on the second album release. The songs on the ‘There’s A Space’ are old to us now, but we have to remember that most people haven’t heard them yet. Maybe we should have pretended we just wrote them!

How long did you take in the creation and did covid play a part in this?

The album took about a year to write. But it was about two years until it was recorded, mixed and mastered.

The album was ready at the end of 2019 and scheduled for release in 2020; but life had other plans. Before we strayed from our original release schedule, we did drop a couple of singles from the album. The first of these was Empty Room. That single launch was the last gig we played before lockdowns swept in.

Do you have a favourite child off the album and if so, why?

For Luis it’s a draw between She Was No Acid Head and If I Meditate Enough.

I honestly don’t have a favourite. Sometimes when I’m playing one of the songs from the album, I’ll suddenly hear or understand it in a new way and I’ll fall in love with it all over again.

My favourite song is always the song I’ve just written. So right now, it’s something from the second album. 

For you guys, it is fairly obvious that art is just as important as the music as exemplified by your special pre release Roleout. Why is this and what was it like doing the prerelease?

We wanted to give the album opportunity to connect with people before launching it into the void. We made a 5 day experience of bonus material. Those who signed-up got 5 daily emails linking them to a hidden webpage, which revolved around two songs from the album. Each song came with audio, a music video, a vlog and graphics. There was other art and behind-the -scenes video. It was in the theme of an online ‘retreat’.

It was an ambitious attempt at marketing the album in a different way. We thought we might reach more people by offering them an experience rather than just the album. The modest number of loyal fans who actually viewed the webpages, really seemed to enjoy it.

It was a huge amount of work making all the videos and art, but the pandemic gave us lots of time. Putting the webpages and tech stack together also took a while. We don’t regret doing it and can probably use the videos and art in other ways. We also developed a lot of new skills and confidence which we can take with us.

How have you incorporated your art into the music?

Roles began as an art-project. I brain stormed and researched the themes I wanted to explore, which led me to the audio recordings idea. I eventually realised I wanted to write songs again, but I wanted to do it as an art-project.

I decided to use pre-defined artistic constraints as a way to open up my creativity. It sounds counter intuitive, but it works! Only using transcribed audio for lyrics was one constraint. I then made ten song sketches, using only bass, kick and vocals. For the final songs arrangements, I chose a limited number of instruments/sound and stuck to those.

Both of us also do a lot of video art for Roles. And as I mentioned, Luis does lots of visual art for the project. 

Roles is playing live to support the release of the album. How much fun is it to get back to live performance?

We are very happy to be playing live again! We did do a lot of livestreams during lockdown, which kept the flame alive, but it’s not the same. We also love going to gigs as punters, it’s great to be back out at our favourite live music venues.

This is the obligatory, what music or bands got you into the scene?

If we ever get let into a scene we’ll let you know!

But this is more likely a question about our influences. I’m really bad at this stuff. I’ll try, but It’s hard to narrow it down:
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Total Control, Sleaford Mods, New Order, Leonard Cohen, Radio Head, Chicks on Speed, Björk, Brian Eno, The Cure, CC Dust, Talking Heads, Anne Clark, PJ Harvey, YACHT, LCD Soundsystem, Bush Tetras, Peaches, Sonic Youth, Adult, Fleetwood Mac, Erase Errata, The Native Cats, Chook Race…I could go on, but I think that’s enough.   

Who do you listen to now?

We are really into the local scene at the moment, getting out to watch gigs. So lately, it’s been acts such as Plaster of Paris, Miles Brown, The Techno Biddies, Party Pest, Hot Dog, V, Astral Skulls … tonight I’m going to the single launch for Pretty In Pink. 

You find an old suitcase, with a tape reel inside of an interview. Who do you wish it was and why?

My maternal Great Grandmother. She died very young under mysterious circumstances. No one talked about it much, so I’ve always wondered what happened to her. That was back before there was so much awareness about mental health. I think hearing her story could help me understand my own experiences with that side of the family. 

What is in the future for Roles?

Roles are currently working on our second collection of songs; the theme of this collection is death. This work mainly involves interviews we have conducted with various people, each song a conversation about death. I even interviewed myself for one of the songs, it’s a banger!

Thank you Lou for being an willing participant in this interview as well!

Roles | Facebook

Roles – the band (rolesband.com)

Short Attention | Christopher Thomas Richardson featuring Roles | Roles (bandcamp.com)

I was brought up on classical music, not opera but all the masters and musicals. When I was sent the Crooniek album Trails Of Time, I will admit, it was a strange experience listening to each track, struck how it was like hearing brass bands in my childhood, mixed with modern guitars and a darker ambiance, a sorrowful heart so to speak. The album has a gothic essence of family, loss and memories of dark histories, set to a style called neo fanfare. There is probably no one better qualified to tell you about the Belgium band Crooniek, the music and their debut album, than the man behind this project, Gerry Croon. I invite you to the fanfare!

Welcome Gerry Croon, from Crooniek, to the hallowed halls of Onyx where time is just an abstract concept.

Hey Onyx, thanks for the support!

Gerry, you play the cornet. How long have you been practicing with this classical instrument and when did you think, I can use this in more than jazz?

Yes, I play the cornet. I started, at the age of nine playing the cornet, in our local fanfare. Later, I started playing in different ensembles (fanfare, brassband), but I always felt the need to have a band of my own. To do the things I really want to do. And that is to combine my two musical loves – gothic & brass/fanfare music – together in an unique blend. So I’m not into jazz. The cornet is not a typical jazz instrument, it fits in many genres. At the age of 17 I lost my self in the dark music, favoring bands like Das Ich, Arcana, Tristania, Goethes Erben and of course, Lacrimosa!

You hail from Belgium, so what is the alternative dark scene like where you live?

Yes, there is a alternative dark scene in Belgium, like most of the European countries. As you may know, I also write some things for the Dutch online underground magazine Dark Entries (www.darkentries.be). About the dark scene, it is alive. Not exactly in my hometown, that is rather a small village, nearby historical cities like Brussels, Mechelen and Leuven. Concerts and parties are scheduled, luckily there are enthusiastic people and organizations (like http://www.portanigra.be) who have the guts to do so. Believe me, it is not easy to organize things, and it is even more difficult to make them even profitable.

There are two projects you are involved in. Winterstille is one and the other Crooniek. Which one came first, and did it influence the other?

Correct. Winterstille went first. In 2020 we released the CD ‘Puin van Dromen’ by the label Wool-E Discs (www.wool-e-discs.be) This is a project (dark folk/chanson/gothic) I started with Xavier Kruth, whom I’ve met by Dark Entries, where he is also an editor. Xavier is a self made man, singing, playing the guitar, writing his own songs. In a way he was looking for a band to help to get these songs recorded. Because he knew about another project of mine (www.olivier-crooniek.be – 2018) , we agreed to join forces and establish this new project Winterstille. First, we thought to call this project ‘Xavier & Crooniek’, like the project with Olivier. But after thinking it over, we decided to go for Winterstille, which is German for ‘Winter silence’.

And yes, the new album of Crooniek is influenced by Winterstille. We always evolve, always trying to make something new, better. But also keeping looking back and have our musical history embedded in our musical path. Two songs on ‘Trail of Time’ are new interpretations of songs by Winterstille.

Crooniek just released the debut album “Trail Of Time”. How did you get together a large group of classically trained musicians to record this album?

I’m blessed to have them! Most of the musicians you can hear on ‘Trail of Time’ are friends, some go way back. One of them is Jan Croon, my nephew who was there from the start in 2005, when we were just a instrumental ensemble. And Annelies Callewaert (melodic percussion and flute) is the woman I married in 2009 😉. A few members are new forces, just to complete this project. You know how is goes: you spread the word and the right people will find you.

The style is called neo-fanfare, which until now I had never heard of. Can you tell us about this style?

Because we use typical fanfare instruments like alt saxophone and flugelhorn, but not in ‘regular’ fanfare way, we called in neo fanfare. It leans on to neo classical, also favored by the people who like darker goth sounds. Perhaps a synonym could be gothic fanfare, but I leave that up to the audience and music reporters.

There are also modern instruments such as electric guitars and bass but no synthesizers. Was this a conscientious thing or did it never suit the style?

In a way, it was already a selection of instruments. If you would asked me my dream, I would like to record an album with an entire brass band, combining harsh guitars, bass guitars, drums and dark vocals. Perhaps someday? But to stick to the question: the electric guitars and bass guitars (and sometimes synths) where absolutely necessary to create the sound the voices in my head tell me to do. Could you image whether there would be electric guitars when Richard Wagner was composing? I’m absolutely certain that he would also have uses bass guitar and electric guitars: it just gets a full, dynamic, deep dark sound, other instruments cannot manage

The title “Trail Of Time” refers to a point in your life when you start to reflect on your life? What caused you to start this reflection and how does that tie in with the music?

I think the cover says a lot: two hands, one pocket watch… four generations. My father’s hand passes my grandfather’s pocket watch to the child hand of my son. It symbolizes time passing by as well as the inevitable fact that someday, time will run out.

Thematically, this album reflects on the concept of time. In particular, the inspiration for ‘Trail of Time’ is the conflict between the known past and the unwritten future. The future remains hidden and we do not yet know it. But we do know the past.

This album is a nostalgic journey through my past, my musical projects (‘Parade of the ‘Funeral Fanfare’) and my relationship with my own birthplace Kampenhout, a small village in Belgium, known for its chicory cultivation. After all, at a certain age, you realize that time is running out and, without realizing it too well, you sometimes start to look back (‘When I look back upon my Life’). And do you ask yourself, did I do it right (‘G &B’)? Could I do better or would I do it differently now? Have I listened to the right advice (‘Would you wake me up in Time’)? You realize that you have lost friends / acquaintances along the way, because your life path is going in a different direction (‘Nieuwe Dromen’). Although this continues to gnaw, you have to accept this. Everyone is looking for new ways. But it still gnaws at your mind. The sickness of my mother set the lives of my family upside down (‘On the origin of Sorrows’). Everyone also sees that the world is changing very drastically, due to human intervention. While in the past time seems to move slowly, humanity now appears to be driving the world into destruction in an express train (‘The 6th Extinction’).

As mentioned, the village Kampenhout where I live, has also an unique history and stimulating sites. On ‘Trail of Time’ a few peculiar subjects are transformed musically into melancholic songs. We pick out three of them.
For example, ‘At the Lemmeken Monument’ is a tribute to the victims of the plane crash, which took place in 1961, near my hometown.

On Wednesday, February 15, 1961, a Boeing 707-329 of Sabena, the national Belgian airline, crashed in ‘Het Lemmeken’, a district of Kampenhout. All of its sixty-one passengers and eleven crew members were killed in the accident. Among the passengers were the entire American figure skating team (US Figure Skating Association) on their way to the Prague World Championships. Young champions, some of them no older than sixteen, on their first ever trip abroad, en route to their moment of glory.

On the chicory field where the Boeing fell, two young men were working. Michel Theo De Laet was fatally hit by flying debris, while his workmate Marcel Lauwers lost a leg. He was dragged from among the rubble by an aunt of Theo’s. He is the only survivor of this terrible crash.

‘Condemned to the fire: Josyne Van Vlasselaer’ goes further back in history, to the ancestors of the composer Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Distant ancestors of Ludwig van Beethoven lived in Kampenhout. One of them was Aert van Beethoven. He was married to Josyne Van Vlasselaer. She was arrested on August 5, 1595 by order of the mayor Jan-Baptist van Spoelberch on suspicion of witchcraft (“suspitie en inditie van soverije”) and taken to a Brussels prison. Villagers had accused her of having a pact with the devil, because four horses had fallen dead in places she had passed by.

Of course, she denied the allegations, but exhausted, she admitted everything on the torture rack. On the eve of her execution, she made a failed attempt at suicide by swallowing potsherds. She was condemned to the stake (“gecondemneerd tot de brand”).

Only one woman was ever sentenced to death as a witch in Brussels, and that was a distant grandmother of the famous composer

‘Melancholy at Torfbroek’
The Torfbroek in Kampenhout is a remnant of a vast and unique swamp in the Low Lands, fed by very calcareous groundwater. It offers a unique landscape with large open ponds and is the last remaining refuge of several plant species in Flanders. It is one of the most valuable nature reserves in Western Europe. But above all, it is also a place of deep melancholy.

And so song does have a story to tell, either about the world I’m living in …

It is interesting to see that the tracks are written by different members of the group. How does this change the sound of the album for you?

As by the other albums I was involved with, together with Crooniek, we strive to make very variable albums. No two songs can be similar, every song has to be unique. So different song writers, definitely helps to make a sound variable as possible.  

Which do you feel is your favorite track off the album?

Without any doubt: ‘Would you wake me in time’. I wrote the music, Xavier made an excellent text that fits close to the music. This song is inspired by bands like Die Verbannten Kinder Evas and the amazing Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows. Two bands I appreciate a lot! In a way, this is by far the ultimate neo fanfare song on the album: combining rhythmic brass sounds, blending softly with the enchanting voice of Elisabeth, supported by dark organ sounds and funeral bells.

Do you associate music closely with art as this is the impression that I perceived?

Interesting question. I’m an art historian, so yes, I appreciate art. Especially medieaval art: the gothic cathedrals and the paintings by the Vlaamse Primitieven, like Rogier Vander Weyden, but also baroque art, with artists like Caravaggio. I like it when albums have an Classique painting on the cover or uses elements out the art historian catalogue 😉. But for this album: no paintings were involved inspiring me. As you could read earlier: this album reflects personal experiences.

Crooniek plays live concerts. How different do you think it is setting up for your live shows as compared to a regular band?

Actually, we still need to play our first show with the new album. As you can imagine: it is not easy to get all those musicians together: I would need to get 10 to 16 musicians together. As we have all jobs, families and work to do … not easy. And the songs are complex and not easy to get them live on stage. I think ‘Trail of Time’ fits best at your living room, enjoying the sunset with a good glass of red wine. But when the opportunity crosses our paths, we of course will play live, hoping to persuade the audience. Crooniek can be combined with Winterstille, because all the musicians of Winterstille are also involved in Crooniek.

What is in the future for Crooniek and Gerry Croon?

We would like get into the hearts of many people around the world. That’s why we make music: we want to touch people. I think every band strives to do so. So we appreciate you effort for this interview, perhaps the audience will like us. Time will tell …

Thank you for giving us the inside view! 

Many Thanks for the support! We appreciate it a lot !!

WED088 – Trail Of Time [neo-classical/neo-fanfare/gothic] | Crooniek | Wool-E Discs (wool-e-discs.be)

Crooniek | Facebook