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.
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 ElvisCostello 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.
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. DelAlien (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.
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 ManicDepression 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 “BloodOn Fire” and get a bit of JE T’AIME in your life.
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 ChristianLebrecht 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…
PURE OBSESSIONS & RED NIGHTS have been in the French scene for well over 20 years, though previously under the guise of PORN, this original incarnation being a far more heavy industrial affair. Most recently, the band released the synthwave influenced album, Let Your Obsessions Run Wild, where every track is so good, they are all being set free upon the world as singles. The 7th of September will be dropping the latest single, “Don’t Let The Night Die In Vain“, with a lush video to go along with it. Of this four piece band, Philippe Deschemin is their lead singer and main writer, so honestly there is no better person to ask about the band, the foray into synthwave style and the new album.
Bonjour Philippe, bienvenue sur Onyx!
What is the darkwave scene like in France?
We have a small but active scene. France was never a country where this kind of music was very successful, but we always had some good bands!
Your project was originally called PORN, which was much more industrial. How did it all start?
I started the band a long time ago in the early 2000s. We were playing a kind of industrial rock, with some glam rock elements. The name of the band was PORN. I am a big fan of The Cure, so it was a reference to the album Pornography. At the time, I did not know how complicated it would become to be visible in the internet…
There was a three-album release about a strangler. What inspired you to write this?
In 2010 I was working on a Sci-Fi novel: Contoyen (a word I invented, made with CONsumer/ciTOYEN (means citizen in French). The main character feels like he is devoured from the inside by an Ogre. I wanted to go further with this “feeling”. Years after, I started to work on this triple album. The main character would be Mr. Strangler, a serial killer. During the first album of the trilogy, about his childhood, he experienced this feeling. And he became the Ogre, with an insatiable appetite. About the name, I practice a lot of combat sport: Boxing, French Boxing, Judo, MMA, Brazilian Jiujitsu. I had some choke specialties, worked them a lot (in MMA/BJJ), so the name Mr. Strangler came to me… I wanted to create a comic-like character. A dude that can be Batman’s enemy!
Since then, you have changed the band name to PURE OBSESSIONS & RED NIGHTS.What was the reasoning behind this change?
It was a nightmare. Our YouTube page was (and is still) ghosted, the Facebook publication restricted automatically, same on Instagram. And sending them tons of emails changed nothing. It’s was a big thing to do, and it was not that easy… At the beginning, I did not know what to do… Then I figured something out with the 4 letters. And the new name came! I was already thinking of a new trilogy or concept/story to work on. And The Night Trilogy came to me! And it suited perfectly with the new name: Pure Obsessions / Red Nights
Philippe, you have said that you are now pursuing a more 80s electronic/synth sound. What is it about the 80s that is drawing you to that style?
I grew up in the eighties. My first musical memories came from the mid-eighties. I remember listening to the radio, I discovered Depeche mode, The Cure, Tears for Fears… I did not know the names of the bands. I discovered their name later, when I saw the music videos… It was a “love at first hear”. I still love the era. Maybe it’s a kind of “Madeleine de Proust”.
You have a new album out “Let Your Obsessions Run Wild”. How long did it take you to write and record it?
It took me a year, I think… It was a very natural session. I did almost all by myself. I was very focused, so it was quick!
This new album is all about wooing the ladies, so is this a nice change from writing about stranglers?
I don’t know… but I hope it works!
Many songs have been released as singles. Was it something you were going to do from the start or did it just happen?
It just happened. It was also a way to prepare the audience, and not just drop an album without any guitars! Some of my followers are metalheads. But nowadays, even metalheads like synth music!
Did Covid affect the making of the album?
Not at all! But the gigs were cancelled… I hope we will be back on tour soon!
The new single is “Don’t Let the Night Die Vain” with the official video, out on the 7th of September. Can you tell us about this song and also about the creation of the video?
I think that this single, ‘Don’t Let the Night Die in Vain’, represents very well the essence of this new album. Half alive, half dead, Mr Strangler haunts the nights, and helps people in despair. He appears as a guide – teaching you how to live and how to fight, when you think that all hope is gone. In this music video, a young woman comes to Mr Strangler. She is looking for help, abused by her boyfriend. Mr Strangler gives her some advice, and a useful tool…
We’ve done a lot of music videos with Matteo and Chiara from VD Pictures. They work with great bands – Lord of the Lost, Powerwolf… and Matteo is also a musician. So, it’s kind of easier to work with them, ‘cause they understand the music. The shooting took place in an old paper factory in Switzerland. I wanted a place that looked big, wide, haunted… A place where Mr Strangler could be appearing, like a ghost…
Is Philippe a romantic at heart?
As Mr. Strangler! And Mr. Strangler is, and is not.
Who would you say are your influences for this new sound?
After the industrial rock / gothic metal of the ‘Mr Strangler Trilogy’ (triple album, 2020), and the alt-rock / goth / post-punk of ‘We are the Stranglings’ (2021); I wanted to dive deeper into my eighties influences for this 100% synth-driven album. I produced this new album using vintage synths and equipment: I wanted it to have that very warm, analogue sound, typical of the period. I tried to create something between my eighties influences and my industrial / goth-rock background – synthpop grooves and darkwave ambiances, but with an industrial rock energy. The influences: The Cure, Killing Joke, Tears For Fears, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode …
Would you say this is the music you grew up listening to originally?
I will not have the pretention to say that I do the same as The Cure, Depeche Mode… I am not that talented. I do my thing…
Which modern musicians influence you these days?
I like TR/ST, Boy Harsher, IAMX, Kat VON D, Blakq Audio, The Soft Moon, Empathy Test, Cold Cave… The actual darkwave scene is great
Do you think you’ll ever go back to that heavier industrial style?
How did fans react to the new sound?
Our followers are very open-minded. Even with the Mr. Strangler Trilogy we were not a pure metal/rock band. We always had this darkwave / dark synth side. I was very surprised with the feedback, and it looks like this album, Let Your Obsessions Run Wild, continues to gain more listeners!
Are there any plans to play live soon?
We are working on it! I hope in 2023. I just finished a new album, so we will have more time for the gigs.
In the dark alleyways, underpasses, subways and clubs of Chicago, you might run into the Glampire pack of Plasmata, lead by Trent Jefferies. 2021 saw the release of the five track EP “Portraits Of Pain” which we reviewed back then and now Plasmata are releasing three remixes off the EP, starting on the 23rd of August, with the single “Leviathan” which has been given the treatment by William Faith (Faith And The Muse, BellweatherSyndicate, Christian Death).
The guitars swirl in a vortex lifting you higher and higher, a solid wall of twanging wonder which compliments the vocals utterly. There is even the added whip like beats in this (which was a thing in the 90s and made me giggle a little). Faith’s playing is sparkling and reminds you what a great guitarist he really is, while Jefferies vocals going from growled to sensually smooth, are just the jewel in the track.
You could knock me over with a feather with this mix. It retains the basis of the song but it literally has become the monster, beautiful, guitar filled and hauntingly sinister. The original was a industrial hybrid and Faith has turned the track into the gothic maelstrom. Good grief. Love it. You need this in your life.
If in the mood for a little gothy post-punk, then we have the happily titled, “Everyday A Fresh Atrocity” from the Candy Coffins. Released on the 23rd of August, this five piece from South Carolina, are whetting your appetite for the October drop of their second album, Once Do It With Feeling.
The lead guitar chimes out with the rhythm backing up and the deep bass building up the beats with the drums. The synths definitely add an air of the The Cure, but lead singer Lathren does not try to emulate the iconic Robert Smith, rather choosing to give his own style, which is laid back and plaintive.
I wonder if The Cure and Echo And The Bunnymen are influences for Candy Coffins, because from where I stand, they remind me very much of these bands. In any case, even in the deep south, post-punk can be found and it is sounding good!
I literally made my head hurt thinking about what post post-punk is… Anyway, so we will tell you about Melbourne group, Leaching, with their debut single “Radiate“. It was released on the 18th of August and it is the epitome of post-punk style, with the extra bonus of two b-sides which are not exactly b-sides… but we will get to that..
There is something so simple to the music that transports me back to the 80s. Maybe it is the guitars or the staccato drum beats from the machine or the fact the synths swirl in the depths below the guitar or it could be the echoing and slightly aloof vocals in “Radiate“. The second track is a cover of the Go Gos track, “Automatic” written by Jane Wiedlin. Leaching’s version actually might be faster than the original and it is far more filled with the sounds of electronics, which flow nicely. “Commit Then Redefine” is the last track, tortured and twisted around the guitars. A funeral dirge worthy of the Pornography era Cure.
So “Radiate” is the announcement that Leaching has arrived, “Automatic” is there because maybe this was a defining song for Steven Smith, who wrote the other two tracks and pretty much plays all the instruments on this recording as well as the vocals. September sees their first album, End Themes released on Spooky Records, so “Commit And Redefine” is a preview cut to entice you. Are you enticed yet? We rate this single ‘I woulddefinitely go to the pub to hear them live!‘ just on the strength of listening to “Radiate“.
Painted Romans are Mats Davidsen (vocals, guitar, programming) and Jan Ottar Nystad (synth, guitar) from Trondheim, Norway. They have revisited the single “Formation“, released on the 19th of August, with fellow Norwegian, Karl Morten Dahl of Antipole, remixing the track and Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW, producing and mastering
There is that underlying swell of menacing synths below the delicate guitar, with Davidsen’s vocals in hushed reverence. There are more electronics in this version where the rhythm has been brought to a greater prominence. As always, the guitars are dreamy post-punk candy.
It was a nice post-punk/darkwave track before the remix, after the remix it has become super shiny and opalescence. It feels bigger, if that makes sense, like going from a nice flat screen to 3D. This just pops and adds extra beauty to this heart felt track, “Formation (Antipole Remix)” by Painted Romans.
Post-punk/goth is probably my favourite genre, if people haven’t gathered yet. Yes, today we get to talk about Pete Burn’s project, Kill Shelter, and the new full length album, Asylum, a theme continued through the whole release about finding escape and safety, in all forms. Interestingly, there are two versions out, with the European version on ManicDepression Records and the US on Metropolis Records. What makes these versions different you might ask? Each has two tracks only found on that particular version and we are looking at the European.
And so with the vocals of the man himself, Pete Burns, we are hit with the first track “Time Will Come” as it pulsates with a menacing overtone. For a man that rarely sings on his tracks, he sure has a great voice and his guitar playing in on point. The second single recently released, is “In This Place” with Stefan Netschio of Beborn Beton and it has this amazingly heavy ambiance, as in abandon all hope behind you. The music is stalking and promises a violence below the surface. There is a sparking quailty to the synths while Valentine Veil (VV & The Void) sweetly tells you she is the “Queen Of Hearts” that are broken and your house of cards might collapse at any moment. The guitars ring out the warning as the synths swirl. Antipole are long time collaborators and “Buried Deep” is the track with deep vocalisation of fathomless loss, a weight that is far too much for the soul. What do you have when someone takes everything away? It is achingly somber. There is something sad, sleazy and a little dingy about “A Room“. This instrumental gives the impression of being trapped almost.
“The Necklace” featuring Agent Side Grinder was the first stunning single to be released. It only gets better with each listen with those wondrous snaking guitars and stark synths against Emanuel Aström’s singing. Ash Code are helping to “Feed The Fire” and those first guitar chords remind me so much of early Cult. But other than the guitar, this is where the similarities end, the drum machine savage in its beating and the synths trickle down. I love the beginning to end of “Cover Me” featuring William Faith of The Bellweather Syndicate and it just rings so utterly pure in gorgeous waves of guitar versus electronics, with Faith’s ever so crystal and plaintive vocals. “All Of This” features Ronny Moorings (Clan Of Xymox) and there is a heavy accent on the electronic side. Moorings really does make this his own track and it could honestly easily fit into a Clan Of Xymox album, headily dark and brooding. We finish with the melancholic instrumental piece,”A Shadow Of Doubt” which feels as ancient as time, foreboding and cataclysmic.
It is written on the album that it is also a celebration of 40 years of the post-punk scene (stop reminding me!!) and you can most definitely hear that reflected in the music. From the jangle of the guitars to the use of electronics and drum machines, post-punk began in an era that was dark and gloomy. The UK was at war with the IRA, the Falkland War and even with their own people, with Thatcher at the helm. Globally, we looked to the USSR and nervously watched on for our inevitable nuclear annihilation, which luckily never came but it left an indelible mark on that generation, so that dark and wonderful bass lead music has permeated goth, darkwave etc. It is has made beautiful songs about love and lost love but it has also been a political call to arms, calling out injustices. I think this album has a lot of heart. Musically, Asylum really has everything you could want, with fantastic melodies and brilliant collaborations but the kicker is the humanity at its core.