US five piece, Candy Coffins, have released the second single off their forthcoming album, Once Do It With Feeling. The single is called “Seaside Girls” …… not the regular place to find night creatures but then these days, who can tell.

Photo by Lauren Ellis

Those beach babes with their long legs is a rock classic however in this song, it seems that only horror can be found with these pin-ups, as they drown you in their world. There is a taste of the vocal punk styling of Elvis Costello in the beginning and seemingly always the jangling whirlwind of guitars sweeping you up, and bearing you off, while the piano dutifully lights the way.

The vocals are great but the guitar work really seals the deal, layered, giving a rich texture to “Seaside Girls“. Maybe they are the human equivalent to the Greek mythos Sirens but you are safe listening to the dark attraction via the Candy Coffins.

https://candycoffins.bandcamp.com/track/every-day-a-fresh-atrocity

http://www.facebook.com/candycoffins

The album PASSIVE, is a gift that keeps on giving, with JE T’AIME releasing the single “Blood On Fire“, with a music video. The album is out on Manic Depression Records and Icy Cold Records, and it it always interesting to see what this French goth rock trio are doing.

The video depicts a girl in a never ending cycle of drinking and partying, though she doesn’t seem to enjoy it all that much, with the single as her theme track on a cassette walkman (oh my…. do people still use those?). A song about self destruction, all set to a fast pace rhythm, those bright synth lines and post punk, jangly guitars.

It is a slick looking video, beautifully shot in the streets of Paris at night and the story line fits in perfectly with the music. It is a really good little track, bouncy and lively musically, dark lyrically. Have a listen to “Blood On Fire” and get a bit of JE T’AIME in your life.

PASSIVE | JE T’AIME (bandcamp.com)

JE T’AIME (facebook.com)

Music | JE T’AIME – Music (jetaime-music.com)

JE T’AIME (@jetaime_music) • Instagram photos and videos

Manic Depression Records & Events | Facebook

Icy Cold Records | Facebook

You might think that a song title like “Oh My God My Chemical“, might be from, say, Alien Sex Fiend but no! It is the title of Portland group, Hovering Shrikes new single released on the 26th of August.

They are consumed by a women whom wore a different perfume on every body part. Vocally, there is a Bowie like resemblance, though maybe a little off kilter at first and it builds from the meeting and gallops full force in to the affair prompted by the wiff of the chemicals on a lady or is the scent of love?

It is storytelling within a song, quirky with a sense of humour and I appreciate that. The Hovering Shrikes obviously write tracks that they find interesting and have fun with because that really comes through. They remind me a bit of S.P.O.C.K. and that is never a bad thing, so I say “Oh My God My Chemicals“.

Hovering Shrikes (bandcamp.com)

Hovering Shrikes

There is some “Silent Love” coming at you from Montreal, in the form of a single by The Ember Glows. Richard Bunze (guitar), Kevin Hills (bass), Martin Saint (voice, guitar) and Dan Stefik (drums), make up this indie/new wave band, that came into being in 2019.

It is definitely a guitar driven sound, strong bass, rhythm and lead, jangling in a heady fusion, while the vocals sits above them, never lost in the string’s pealing notes and chords.

I can definitely hear why this group is compared to Echo And The Bunnymen, with similar guitar arrangements and the vocals having that soaring quality, though not the same timbre as Ian McCulloch. It is a track full of sweet sentiment, of being there in another’s darkest moments, even if it just to help hold back the invasive dreams by holding their hand through the night.

SILENT LOVE | The Ember Glows (bandcamp.com)

The Ember Glows | Facebook

emberglows (@emberglowsband) • Instagram photos and videos

April saw the fourth Black Angel album released, named The Black Rose. The unashamedly gothic project is the brain child of Matt Vowles, a Brit living in the USA, who is the writer, producer, mix/master and musician extraordinaire, with actor Corey Landis, giving Black Angel it’s voice. The album harks back to the the period of time in the mid 80s when goth rock bands such as The Cult, Sisters Of Mercy and The Cure were at their zenith but with a modern twist. Vowles is a very busy fellow, but luckily for us, he found the time to answer some dark and burning questions.

Matt Vowles, welcome to the bowels of gothic central, where black is the absorption of all colour, and therefore superior!

Young Vowles, cut his teeth on the post punk fare of the 1980s, in England. What was it like for you growing up in that era?

Very exciting, this was all new, punk had come and gone and had pretty much left a big exciting scar so it showed that the music industry wasn’t necessarily just dominated by the large record companies, maybe there was something more, and there was. It still baffles me how without the technology of the Internet that we have today, how did so many people know about the new Gothic bands that were coming along and being played in clubs. Every week in Bristol at a club called The Whip that would be something new, some new Gothic or Gothic rock tune that the DJs would play, along with the staples of the time already established like The Sisters of Mercy and The Cult to name just a very few. Along with the fashion and the lifestyle it was a very exciting time to be a 15-year-old.

When we are young, we tend to listen to the more popular acts i.e. The Cure, Sisters of Mercy etc., but as we look back, we gain a new appreciation for other artists. For me these are bands like Play Dead, Danse Society, and such. Which acts did you latch onto as a kid and what did you find yourself getting into later?

Yup, absolutely that, it started with The Cure and then progressed into The Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Damned, Bauhaus, and then over the last three decades, although I do listen to more obscure Gothic- and I do listen to current up-and-coming Gothic rock acts – I still return to and favor the staples, there was a reason they were huge at the time and that’s the reason I still listen to them now.

But you did not stick with the post-punk genre as your followed music as a profession. Can you tell us about your music career before Black Angel?

That is true, after I went to film school in Manchester I spent a couple of decades just listening to very different music, I guess it was held together by 80s new wave and new romantic but my Gothic rock playlist as it were was one of many and not my main focus. As I worked and still work in the film and music industries you are exposed to a very eclectic bunch of musical styles and genres, being from Bristol, I followed the trip hop path for a while and had some success with a act called ‘Interstate Royale’ and got a whole bunch of streaming and TV and film placements. But my heart wasn’t really in that, it was more for financial rewards so one day I decided to just pack it when and just do something that I wanted to do for me, whether anybody liked it or not, and that’s how Black Angel was born.

Did you find that the foray into more mainstream music and film left you with a larger skill set?

It did for sure, I find that as a sound re-recording mixer and sound supervisor, and mastering engineer, you are learning still every single day – and all of that experience helps, and sometimes in the smallest way, but, it’s great to have that wealth of experience and be able to apply it to what I do now. I am very fortunate to be able to work with some of the most incredible engineers, mixers, and composers in the industry and all of that rubs off and it’s a very privileged place to be.

You have moved to the US, setting up a studio there and in 2019, Black Angel brought forth the debut album The Widow, which was very well received. How exciting was it to know people were hungry to hear your music?

It was quite a surprise, I set out with this project to do something that made me happy and if it wasn’t well received, it didn’t really matter.

When I started on “The Widow” I spent many months head scratching and wondering just how I could come up with music that had influenced me in the past with the Gothic rock genre, but sometimes it’s very easy to overthink it and that’s just send you down the wrong path.

So when “The Widow” came out I was very surprised how it was received and it was more like it made me feel as though I was part of a club of people that just appreciated this music and I was able to share it with them.

The singer on “The Widow” was Robert Steffen but by the second album, “Kiss Of Death” in 2020, you had changed leads to Corey Landis. How do you think this changed the sound of Black Angel, if at all?

It change the sound very much, after the widow I wasn’t happy with many things, this included the music and the production values so having Corey come along for “Kiss Of Death” just really help slot things into place and says out in the right direction.

Can you tell us how you met Landis and became the voice of Black Angel?

After “The Widow”, I wanted to make a change and so I started talking to the local Gothic rock community and stretched out across the world as far as I could and nothing happened, then one day, after I pretty much given up, Corey reached out to me out of the blue and as they say, the rest is history

In quick succession, there was the third album, “Prince Of Darkness” in 2021 and the newest, “The Black Rose” released April 2022. You guys are really pumping out the albums, so are you aiming for an album a year?

Pretty much, I’m a bit of a workaholic and I just love doing this so much it seems as though we are on target to pretty much knock out one album per year. As soon as I finish one album albeit my plan is to take a break or do something else but I’m back in the studio with a bunch of ideas that I’ve been recording on my phone was mixing the last album and I really want to try them out so as soon as I’m done I’m trying out new ideas and then I’m back in the saddle and writing the next album

Incredibly, most of this has been accomplished during all the lockdowns with covid. Did you find all that helped or hindered writing and recording?

This works fine, I’m the musician on the albums, apart from the odd session player that I might use so for me it’s just organizing my time and then Corey, as an actor here in Hollywood, his schedule is very busy so it really works well for him to work remotely.
So I’ll send him over guide tracks and he’ll send me back finished tracks and then if we need any tweaks we will just get together and discuss any notes and he’ll send me any fixes so it just works out perfectly.

THE BLACK ROSE ALBUM – ART Eshmoon DM

You must be pleased with how much love “The Black Rose” has been receiving within the gothic community…?

It’s fantastic, as I said earlier, I feel as though it’s more of a club, we are all in this Gothic rock club and I’m just sharing songs with other people that I hope will appreciate them. It is fantastic of course when people buy the album – we will still like to personalize all of our deliveries and I normally send a note or something signed or a guitar pick or a button and it’s really great when people post pictures on social media of them it just makes it more of a Gothic rock family.

Do you have a particular favourite track off the new album and why it is?

I don’t think I really have a favorite but I do feel really good that there’s not any filler on here, I’m previous albums I think there’s a couple of killer tracks and then some mediocre ones and then maybe some of that are not that good but with the black rose I feel is though we’ve got some really good bangers and then some more diverse softer material but I’m not feeling as though there’s not really any filler on there which I think when you get your fourth album can just be an easy thing to do, in fact, as we move forward I think I will be a lot more diligent that the tracks have to be better and better and the album fuller a more complete before it gets released.

How would you describe the sound of Black Angel and how would you like to see it evolve in the future?

It’s definitely Gothic rock with the emphasis on rock, we not really post-punk, I want to be able to feel the energy in the tracks, and as for the future it is definitely more of the same.

Will Black Angel at some point play live or is it a more studio-based project?

Yep, that is the plan, we would really love to play some larger festivals, even if we are the first one on the roster for that day, I’ve been in bands over the years that just tour around the place to smaller clubs, and I know that’s super important and I’m not saying in any way it is not, but, I would rather be writing in the studio and concentrating on that for right now, I’m really hoping someone will invite us to play a festival

What music inspires you these days?

It’s the old staples, I could put on Siouxsie and the Banshees “Happy House” and still scratch my head on how incredibly well written that is and wondering if I could ever write anything like that.

What is in the future for Matt Vowles and Black Angel?

Who knows, I’ll do this as long as I love it, and I absolutely love it, so I have no plans on going anywhere……soon

Spooktacular Mr Vowles. Thank you for your time and goodnight! (Promptly swishes into a bat and squeaks off)

Thanks so much for the questions, I really appreciate it when people do the homework and pose questions that are relevant and interesting so I’d like to thank you guys very much for including us.

The Black Rose | Black Angel (bandcamp.com)

Black Angel | Facebook

Black Angel News | Facebook

Brisbane’s The Blackwater Fever, describe themselves as dark & moody rock n roll and that is a title well earned. July the 28th was the release for their ballad, “The Hurt“. Mmmm, ballads that hurt, so you know this could be a little wrong and yet a whole lot right, with the trio Shane Hicks (guitar, vocals), Trevor Gee (drums) and Jed Walters (bass).

The smooth, heavy bass weighs the track down and the lead guitar cries out it’s pain, ever the while, the drums hold sway, urging on the players of this affair, bursting into speed once in a while like a heart going into tachycardia and then just….stopping. Hick’s vocals are just the icing on top.

The blues and heartbreak ooze like blood from a thousand cuts. An abusive relationship they want to leave but yet they know mentally, they shall never recover from. It is the dirty rock’n’roll that moves your feet to the beat and your soul feels the misery but wants to rise with the winding notes. So tell us where The Blackwater Fever touched “The Hurt” on you?

The Hurt | The Blackwater Fever (bandcamp.com)

The Blackwater Fever | Facebook

The Blackwater Fever (@theblackwaterfever) • Instagram photos and videos

Melbourne is one of the dark and mysterious cities of Australia, which is a place well known for it’s alt rock bands. Society Of Beggars are one of these such bands and their single, “Lick“, by the four piece, came out on the 28th of July. Yianni Michalopoulos (lead vocals), Jim Michalopoulos (guitar), Dibi (drums) and Nicoli Foulstone (bass) are the members making up Society Of Beggars.

The video for the track has band members and others wearing masks, as if they are in some otherworldly Greek tragedy, except for lead singer Yianni Michalopoulos, who is the story teller, leading you through this tale that Julie Leung, has wandered into. There is a deep melancholy to match the rich vocals and simple piano and guitar, as the music gradually builds and swells.

I think this is definitely one of those tracks that grows on you every listen. It is also going to mean different things to individuals, such as loss, lies, overcoming the seemingly impossible. The track is insistent that you listen carefully and soak up the ambiance bubbling up through the cracks. And remember folks…..once you lick it, it is yours.

Society of Beggars (bandcamp.com)

Society of Beggars | Facebook

The duo, Johnathan/Christian have released the single, “Talkin’ About The Wolf“. It is a track inspired by the Ukrainian resistance against a much larger foe, trying to take by force, their county. Johnathan/Christian is joined by The Legion Of Whom, a mixture of talented humans, whom appear in the order of Matt Vowles: Black Angel (guitar), Lee Meadows: The Glass House Museum (bass), Athan Maroulis: NOIR, Steven Archer: Ego Likeness/Stoneburner, Claus Larsen: Leæther Strip, Martin Bowes: Attrition, Alla Miroshichenko: Attrition/Alia Synesthesia (cello), Jeff Diehm: The Last Dance and Ania Tarnowska: I Ya Toyah

Verbose gothic melancholy, wrapped in this wonderfully rich guitar and complimented by the electroincs in a most symphonic manner. Sliding between vocalists is a truly interesting experience, it drags you in to listen to the the words and marvel at the mixture of styles, accents and timbre. They ask what we want to know, ‘how many Putin?’.

“Since the Donbas Invasion in 2014, Ukraine has been telling the world the wolf is coming, and what have we done to help?  As the battle continues, now is not the time to move on. Ukraine needs everyone’s help now more than ever” – Johnathan

The title of the track refers to a Ukrainian saying, ‘talking about the wolf‘, which basically means ‘speak of the devil‘. All proceeds, from the single will be donated to the Come Back Alive Foundation in Ukraine, which was created during the War in Donbas. In return, you get a darkwave track of immense proportions, catchy and chock full of some legends in the business.. Mmmmm, very tasty and remember, you think you are safe until they are at your door.

Talkin’ Bout the Wolf (ft. The Legion of Whom) | Johnathan Christian | JOHNATHAN|CHRISTIAN (bandcamp.com)

Johnathan|Christian | Facebook

With the release of the debut album, The Egg That Never Opened, on the 17th of June, with the record label Art As Catharsis, you may or may not have heard of High Castle Teleorkestra, but I can promise you, that once you have, you are very unlikely to forget. A core of six members, dotted around the world, whom have been associated with some big name musical acts, plus the ability to draw on other talented musicians to further enhance their sound. What is this sound you might ask? Constructive insanity comes to mind but it is more than that. These guys are the musicians that other musicians tend to get really excited about with their alternative, progressive, instrumental mixtures of tasty perfection. Crazy good at what they do and while there is an assault of all these different genres, they craft it into tracks that are seamless, occasionally haunting and more often than not, a lot of fun. There is a pervasive feeling of joy from this band that goes into bringing each piece to life and it translate into the music. Tim Smolens and Chris Bogen are the originators of the band, so who else better to talk to about this juggernaut that they have brought to life and how important castles really are in the alternative rock scene.

We at Onyx go to extreme lengths to interview creative people but storming the battlements is a first for us, so we bid thee welcome to our nightmare of siege weapons, cool pointy things and comfy pillows. Well met on the interviewing battlefield, Tim Smolens and Chris Bogen of High Castle Teleorkestra.

Professed as both recovering professional musicians…. I find this statement misleading, as I am sure that neither of you have ever been able to give up the music drug. How did you get sucked into this life of moody tunes and can you tell us about your former shady lives, as Tim you were in Estradasphere and I.S.S. to name a couple of bands and Chris in the snotty named Doc Booger.

Chris: The HCT bio tells lies! I have never been a full-time pro musician though Tim has a few inhabitants in his brain and he could technically be considered as two recovering professional musicians. I’ve mostly done a lot of extremely low profile, community and friend oriented music projects that are usually left unfinished. I’ve been persistently doing home recording stuff since the mid 1990s with a few scattered live band situations. Doc Booger was my first “commercial” release and this is my third. Every band needs a luckiest member sort of hobbit character and I guess that’s my gimmick.

Tim: Lies indeed! Given the fact that we are such small beans in this giant burrito game, it is necessary for us to embellish a bit just to help us feel like we have something to contribute to this world of interesting music, especially at our ripe old ages. Truth be told, I am not sure I ever fully made a living from music but I can tell you that I have made 1000s of dollars from music in the last 30 years!

We gather you became domesticated, settled down, had jobs and even spawned?

Tim: Living the life of a broke musician throughout my 20s, I was certain that I never wanted kids. “Somehow” my wife became pregnant and I just embraced it. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me, saving me from the sad lifestyle that so many contemporary musicians must endure. There probably hasn’t been a worse era to be a professional musician given that most people don’t buy music anymore. I would venture to guess that a majority of the public doesn’t care much for music at all other than in the most superficial of ways. So I have been married for 15 years now, have 2 kids, and make my living as an ER nurse. Even though it is hard to work music into that busy schedule, and I certainly test my wife’s patience with how much time put into it, I am under no pressure whatsoever to make a living from music although it would be a nice goal to strive for.

Chris: I was a semi-pro/amateur domesticated human for years which is probably why it took me so long to finally release some music commercially. I became professionally domesticated over a decade ago. Now there are three other people in the house that look just like me. My wife and kids are very supportive of the music project and aren’t at all sick of hearing me play the same parts over and over and over again to perfection.  And yes, full-time jobs outside of music since 2004 in the Computer Science field. I have a Ph.D. in Comp. Sci. and it has afforded me a lot of great opportunities to do interesting work and live a balanced life.  I am currently a full-time family dude, a full-time cyber security architect, a part time instructor, and a part time music dude. See. Balance!

Obviously, at some point you thought stuff this normalcy and had the idea to create some monstrous amalgamation of musical talent, calling it High Castle Teleorkestra. WHHHHHYYYYY?

Chris: I think we both hit a point in time when we were itching to create something big and prove something to the world. We knew it was time when some dramatic montage music played in the background of one of our thousands of Facebook chats.

Tim: The fact that Chris and I have stable jobs and families afforded us the luxury of having a man-cave project that our spouses would be in favor of, at least initially until they realized the depths of our obsession. During the pandemic it dawned on me how many super talented musicians I knew around the world and I didn’t see anything stopping me from forming a novel “band” with some of them.

Did covid influence this decision and maybe wanting a castle as well?

Tim: Covid was a good excuse and false pretense for making the band. A group of international talent forced to collaborate remotely due to restrictive lockdowns makes for a great narrative but the truth is we would likely be working this way regardless of the current situation on the global chessboard.

Chris: I’m going to be that annoying music snob guy that says that I’ve always wanted a castle even before everyone else wanted a castle. COVID had nothing to do with it though because we were already working together remotely having never met one another face to face.

Also, why a High Castle? Why not just a normal level Castle with a regular moat?

Chris: A high castle offers the best defense in depth strategy and you have a pretty damned good view.  It’s like having a belt with suspenders. And who said we didn’t have a moat?!

Tim: It is good to have a lofty goal even if you only realize it partially. Plus with a higher castle you can see your enemy encroaching and give you ample time to prepare to fight or run for your life like a coward.

For those unfamiliar with the composition of the band, could you give us the lineup of the members and the associated acts?

Chris: Stian Carstensen is from Farmers Market and he is our resident virtuoso. Stian always raises the stakes on our songs and makes us want to quit trying to play musical instruments. Timba Harris is from Estradasphere, Duo Probosci, Ultraphuana, and a former Secret Chiefs 3 collaborator. Timba has a unique way of arranging and performing the perfect sort of provocative and rich string parts to our already dense tunes. Dave Murray (Estradasphere, Traun) is our resident metalhead and polyrhythmic guru, and he’s managed to get some amazing drum tones in his humble home studio setup. Bär McKinnon (Umlaut and Mr. Bungle)  is one of the most unique songwriters around and is a songwriting gemstone of our band,  and he also covers much of the woodwind work and vocals on his tunes. I play guitar and some other stuff sometimes (noise collages, synths) and do my imposter syndrome undistinguished member routine with expert precision. Tim (Estradasphere, ISS, former Secret Chiefs 3 collaborator) plays bass, piano, sings, is the chief producer, and he’s a pretty damned good cook (sorry, had to talk about food after so many words about music).

Tim: Yeah, what he said.

How the heck did you manage to gather this bunch into agreeing to being a part of this?

Tim: It is funny because when I first had this idea of forming a remote band and Chris and I set to work on a few songs, we had these guys on the roster in mind. We really took our time in asking them to officially join the “band” (courtship) because we wanted to have them play on some tunes first and be impressed and intrigued; sort of a proof of concept of the “business model.” We finally popped the question and they all said yes and we set out making more kids. This wedding night still goes on and on.

Chris: Tim and I prepared a demo of Klawpeels and Tim shopped it around to his well-established friends. I did my part by sitting back and pretending it was completely normal to be in a “band” with this roster of musicians. 

A lot of these guys have been in some pretty bizarre projects, even you Tim playing live with Mr Bungle (all hail Chris Patton, Lord of the Bungle). Did you guys’ ever think…’what the fuck have I got myself into’ or was it like a comfortable set of shorts where the arse is not completely worn out yet?

Chris: I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing with these guys in HCT so I am just gonna stick with that Hobbit thing I said earlier.

Tim: To clarify, I have not played with Bungle. I did program a majority of their complex multi-keyboard setup for their California tour and they did open for my band Estradasphere as a secret warm up show for that tour. I have played live as the bassist for Bungle side project The Secret Chiefs 3. I have definitely soiled my shorts before but at this point they are pristine untl the upper thigh chub rub stench sets in.

As the name suggests, Teleorkestra, the music, is a mash of electronic and modern instruments mixed with traditional instruments plus also incorporating a vast array of styles…. sometimes all in the same track, which is bloody impressive. How did this all come about?

Chris: Our influences and interests are all over the map and combining them under one banner doesn’t seem so unusual to us. I think we just focused on each song and did our best to serve each one sonically. Somehow the track sequencing (which was sort of decided by chance) works as a satisfying progression of moods and sounds.

Tim: By the prefix “tele” is meant “at a distance” which is how our band conducts its activities.

Be honest, is it easier having your band mates as far away as possible and do you sometimes ignore their text messages and emails?

Chris: It probably makes it easier being apart  because we would end up spending hours and hours together in person slaving over these mixes and parts. Tim and I did have a few days together in person like that midway through the project when I visited him in Colorado. I’m looking forward to some more days like that because there’s nothing quite like nerding out over some music you’re excited about with a good buddy. I never thought to ignore his messages though..

Tim: By keeping these egos at a distance we avoid the drama that close-quarters band activities inevitably brings forth. Although that was not the rationale for the genesis of our group it is a pleasant side-effect. In seriousness, bands usually do end up fostering interpersonal drama and our way of working remotely is a good way to filter a lot of that out.

Your debut album is “The Egg That Never Opened,” a title that implies the loss of something important or I could be completely wrong, and it is all about the Castle dragon. What inspired you to name the album after the epic first track (which is this quasi metal, confused French/German oompha band with a sea shanty singing barbershop quartet, on a Hawaiian holiday in space inspired piece)?

Chris: Dragons are cool though I did make one very angry once near Lonely Mountain. That’s another story though.

Tim: The album is indeed based on the Philp K. Dick Book “Radio free Albemuth.” The book is 30 chapters and we decided to take it linearly so it will be a trilogy and the 10 songs on this record represent the 1st 10 chapters. The phrase “The Egg That Never Opened,” is taken directly from chapter 1 and seems to imply a main character, Nick, whose life is in a rut, stagnating, with no obvious hope on the horizon for working his way out of it. But he has lots of positive qualities and interests that could have indeed led to a more colorful life; potential that was never realized.

Chris: Damn you, I was trying to be cagey and mysterious and you gave away the keys to the castle.

Is it true the album is an exploration of a Philip K Dick novel and have you recovered from this?

Tim: Yes, it is an adaptation of Philip K Dick’s discarded novel “Radio free albemuth,” which he ended up rewriting to become “Valis.” We have not yet recovered because we are still in the throes of it with the next two parts of the trilogy.

Chris: Yes and No.

Each track has a myriad of influences, that come together and just seem to work. With the members of the band being so far flung, how do you manage to write these grandiose pieces?

Chris: There’s typically a very strong vision for each song and a good template set forth before individual band members start tracking parts. There is some cross collaboration on the songs and arrangements early on though typically one member begins with a very firm idea and we work hard on firming up the foundational aspects of a demo – tempo map, mockups of essential parts, etc.

Tim: Most of the projects I have ever done have involved mixing and matching genres that usually are not found in the same song or even the same album. It is something I have gotten better at over the years and I feel is finally really clicking in a fluent way. You wouldn’t think that some of these mixtures would work well but on this record they feel natural and not contrived. European metal waltz. Romanian folk metal. Doo-Wop surf, and so on. 

Technology now allows musicians to remotely record and share. Which member has the job of sewing it all together?

Chris: Tim does. And then me and the rest of the peanut gallery bust the seams and Tim has to do more sewing. I tend to eat a lot and not get enough exercise, so bursting seams comes naturally to me.

Tim: In general it is me that hosts the master files and I do the majority of editing and production but I am in daily contact with Chris on all the specific details. I am someone who loves teamwork and collaboration so having him to bounce ideas off is huge for me. I may be doing a majority of the grunt production work but his influence on this record cannot be overstated. Him and I rarely disagree and if we do it is in a friendly manner. The other guys will chime in if they have a suggestion. Bar is pretty specific related to the songs he wrote, so dialing that in on his 2 songs was a bit of a challenge to suit his fancy, but I think it all worked out really well.

“Mutual Hazard” was released as a single and it is a whirling dervish, magnetic and alluring, will probably drunkenly stab you later with a goose sort of thing. Who was the mastermind behind this track and what inspired you, as it is brilliant?

Chris: Dave Murray is the mastermind behind the metal aspects of the song which also contain the unorthodox polyrhythms. He arranged the guitar parts and I performed them with very slight modifications. Timba wrote and recorded the stunning string parts. As said, Tim was the mastermind of fitting all these disparate pieces together and making them work – with a little help from me and others in the peanut gallery. Most of the rest of it is in letting the performers and the melody shine. 

Tim: I will add that the song is a traditional Romanian folk song and Stian is master of that style so he was very helpful and played some mean accordion parts as well as rhythm guitar (a nuanced rhythmic style that fall squarely outside of Chris’s wheelhouse). Stian brought in 2 guest players a Bulgarian violinist and a cimbalom player which really added to the authenticity of the folk aspect.

Interestingly, you are on the Art As Catharsis label, who are Australian, which leads us to ask why an Aussie label and how has that worked out for you?

Chris: We saw Crocodile Dundee and Young Einstein when we were kids and it inspired us to go buy boomerangs, big knives, and score an Australian label contract. When our music reaches the masses in Australia we are hoping to star in our own American-in-Australia wacky rom coms. I’m from Louisiana so I’ll be in Alligator Yankee. Who knows what Tim will do. But for real, we really dig Lachlan Dale (label manager) and his mission at Art as Catharsis. I’m proud to be a part of the AAC family.

Tim: Australia has been a great supporter of interesting music over the years. Mr. Bungle was very successful there and Estradasphere has many fans down under. It seemed like a natural fit to us. Art As Catharsis is a great label that has been a launching pad for many creative acts.

What bands and acts influenced your music insanity?

Chris: Chet Atkins, Arthur Lyman, Dick Dale, Martin Denny, Les Baxter, Esquivel, Perrey and Kingsley, The Three Suns, Luiz Bonfa’,Taraf de Haïdouks, The Shadows, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Santo and Johnny, Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, The Ventures, Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, Harold Budd, Beach Boys, Slayer, Metallica, Death, Meshuggah, Steely Dan, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Mancini,and on and on. 

Tim: to add to Chris’s nice list I would nominate Ennio Morricone and a variety of Italian film luminaries (Piero Picciono, Piero Umiliani, Bruno Nicolai, Nino Rota, and many more.), Joe Meek, The off kilter “world music” explorations of the label Sublime Frequencies, the harmonic mastery of Jacob Collier, Sam Cooke, a huge variety of Doo-Wop artists and so much more.

If you could have a guest musician or two, join you and it could be anyone, re-animated or living, whom would you dearly like?

Chris: If I had that kind of power then surely I could get more than one or two! Though there was one time where I had that wish while making the album:  I would have really liked to have brought in Jean Jacques Perrey to do some crazy tape splicing stuff on the title track of our album. I would also have loved to have had Arthur Lyman play vibes on Placentia.

Tim: I would love to have Jacob Collier,whom Stian has collaborated with,  guest on a track. I would bring back Joe Meek to produce surf songs for us, and a guest appearance from legendary studio drummer Bernard Purdie would be swell. (Chris: aw hell yeah!).

What is in the future for the eclectic High Castle Teleorkestra?

Chris: A short stack of filthy stinking $10 (USD) bills to divide amongst the band members so that we can take our families and significant others out to pick out their favorite pack of chewing gum or single serving hard candy piece!  

Tim: We can hopefully finish off these next 2 albums to complete the trilogy before our bodies become infirm, we are wearing depends, ambulating with a walker, and falling frequently in our low-income nursing homes before we finally break that hip and the trials rehab prove to be the final blow. We will keep plugging away as quickly as our busy family lives will allow.

We thank you kindly for your parley, Tim and Chris, and we also know this album is going to knock some boots off!

Chris: Thank you, it was a gas!

Tim: Yes indeed, we loved this unorthodox interview.

Music | High Castle Teleorkestra (bandcamp.com)

High Castle Teleorkestra | Facebook

art as catharsis – search results | Facebook

Have you experienced High Castle Teleorkestra yet? If not then let me draw your attention to a good time. Signed to Art As Catharsis records, with members flung across the globe, who have been involved in many bands like Farmers Market, Mr Bungle and Estradasphere, and they are about to fling apon the world their new album, The Egg That Never Opened, on June the 17th. So, to whet one’s appetite for the onslaught, here is their first video single, “Mutual Hazard“.

There are classical overtones that rapidly breakdown into a cacophony of metal fused with amazing traditional folk music and drumming that only enhances this brilliant piece. And if that is not enough, there is also the wonderful satire video, as it incorporates the televisual component of the band, while the music spirals in it’s dervish whirlings. High Castle Teleorkestra, utterly bonkers and loving it.

Mutual Hazard | High Castle Teleorkestra (bandcamp.com)

High Castle Teleorkestra

High Castle Teleorkestra | Facebook

Art As Catharsis | Facebook