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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will HOG be playing live any time soon?

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

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

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

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

Do you guys enjoy the recording experience?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

History of Guns | Facebook

UTM Music Group UTM Music Group | Public Relations Agency | Facebook

Der Prosector is a project from Florida, that seems to have come to life around 2020. Made up of four members, Ged Denton, Andy Kenealy, Jules Seifert and Digby Denton, found themselves at a loss over the state of affairs in the US during the Trump administration, as the country turned inwards with internal fighting and backwards looking. So was born the single, “Standing In The Embers“, which came out on April 15th, on the label, Armalyte Industries.

There is definitely a punk aesthetic to “Standing In The Embers“, mixed with a mid 90s industrial guitar sound, topped with more modern synths. The beats are fast and furious while the vocals are sincere and imploring you to wake up because – ‘The problem is some people want to watch the world burn And it’s on fire‘. There are also two remixes included. The UCNX mix is understated and like a creeping doom, while the Gordon Young version, named The Pyroclastic mix is stripped back with a feel of anxiety and burgeoning insanity.

They sing of Covid, violence and extreme ideology which has touched everyone’s worlds in the last few years. Ironically, we now watch another power hungry despot, happily destroying countries for his own purpose. The world burns and if we do nothing, we will burn with it. A powerful statement in a time of great upheaval from Der Prosector.

Der Prosector (bandcamp.com)

Der Prosector | Facebook

Armalyte Industries | Facebook

Music | UCNX (bandcamp.com)

Punk music has always been a political voice. Born of upheaval and social injustice. Schkeuditzer Kreuz is the industrial project with a crust punk heart for Kieren Hills, an ex-pat Kiwi who now resides in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Previously, he released he released a cover of the timeless Discharge track, “State Violence State Control” but to celebrate the UK and European vinyl release with Pyrrhic Defeat Records, a brilliant new video was created by Photoyunist (photographer, illustrator and filmmaker extraordinaire). This is also the re-recorded version that appears on the album, Isolated And Alone. Filmed at a live show at Melbourne’s Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar on 21 January 2022, this is a small insight into the high energy shows that Hills excels at.

Discharge released “State Violence State Control” in 1982, making the song 40 years old this year. Even though it is a song that was written 40 years ago, it is just as pertinent now as it has ever been and Schkeuditzer Kreuz is not so subtly reminding us of not only a great track but a call to not give in to the forces that try to subvert our will and freedoms. No, this music is not going to be for everyone, but for me personally, I love it and if you find yourself loving it as well, then check out the album and EPs because it is going to be well worth your while.

Isolated and Alone | Schkeuditzer Kreuz (bandcamp.com)

Schkeuditzer Kreuz (facebook.com)

Pyrrhic Defeat Records – Schkeuditzer Kreuz – Isolated and Alone LP (limitedrun.com)

Isolated and Alone | Schkeuditzer Kreuz (bandcamp.com)

Isolated and Alone | SCHKEUDITZER KREUZ | Already Broken Records (bandcamp.com)

sıunʎ (@photoyunist) • Instagram photos and videos

Everybody needs a “Greasy Strangler” in their life. Just ask San Diego’s, The Writhers who dropped the single on January 15th, 2022. They are bringing you their brand of psychobilly/horror-punk/deathrock to curl your toes to and make you avoid those lonely and derelict places. The band is comprised of Robert Writhe (vocals/accordion), Rikk R Treat (drums), Chewy Morsel (guitar) and Kenny Wolfsbane (bass).

You might feel the breath of the “Greasy Strangler” on the back of your neck as inch by inch, he is getting to the point of strangling you. Writhe sings his aggressively awkward love song of how he recognises himself reflected in the actions and mindset of the strangler…a meeting of the psychos so to speak. The bass is sleazy and bold, while the guitar is the crazed, aiding and abetting in the build up of the feeling of insanity.

Great thing about psychobilly is that is never takes itself too seriously and it is as much about having fun with the genre as it is about creating good music. The Writhers add an air of The Cramps like campness with the horror-punk theme and the deathrock guitar and attitude, giving us a song you can sink your teeth into..or is that get your hands around???

https://thewrithers.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thewrithers/

The Writhers

Recently we reviewed the full length album, Isolated And Alone by Schkeuditzer Kreuz, which is a journey in some ways, into the mind of the man behind SK, Kieren Hills. How did this power house record come into being and what makes Hills tick? Read on and find out……..

KIEREN HILLS – SCHKEUDITZER KREUZ

Welcome to the weird side Kieren Hills. You started off in the punk scene. What drew you to this music?

I first got into punk some point in the 80s when I was a teenager, starting with some of the more standard, commercial bands like the Clash/Sex Pistols etc and then delving deeper form there. All the time I was looking for music that sounded “more” – angrier, louder, more real, more intense. I didn’t want to hear anything nice but at the same time didn’t know what I wanted. I lived in town in New Zealand where the access to such things were kind of limited. I am not exactly sure what the first “industrial” song I heard was but it may well have been AFFCO by The Skeptics. A song that is musically intense but also had a pretty full-on video that was played about once on TV and then was banned. It resonated with me quite strongly and I loved the driving rhythm of it and the noise and the heart behind it. From there I started looking out for more industrial stuff as well as punk stuff. I didn’t see the two as separate really. They were different ways of expressing anger through sonic violence and aural assault and they both worked for me. Punk had always been (to me) more about energy than talent – not that you can’t have talent but if your music was more about showcasing your abilities than getting out your frustrations then it seemed to miss the point for me. And that feeling seemed to flow in the industrial stuff I was hearing – it was a raw release of energy, not the showing off of chops. So, most of the early industrial bands I saw – Cell, Invisible Dead, Children’s Television Workshop etc were slightly older (than me) punks who had just gone in a slightly different direction – away from guitars and more towards performance and making their own stuff.

Congratulations on not only the new SK album but also the new Dark Horse album as well. You always seem to be involved in a project, so how many are you currently a part of and will the gothic/post punk Death Church also be recording again?

Thanks! Right now I am mainly doing SK and Dark Horse. Darkhorse has been around for somewhere over a decade and I have been in it for 7 years or so. In normal times we play a lot, tour a lot, and release a record every couple of years. These times are not normal, so we are a bit stuck. Normally we would be overseas this year. SK is a full-time thing. I work on it almost every day. I will run through my songs at least once a day and when I am developing a set for tour that gets upped to twice a day. I also make the music videos, compose the art, write the songs, do all the booking and communication and all the other stuff that a band needs to do, and it takes a lot of time. I am not complaining here – it is just true that if you do a solo thing that wants to release and play a lot, it takes a heap of work. I have recently started jamming with a couple of friends with an intention towards Japanese metal/punk kind of stuff. It remains to be seen how much time I can put into that though. Once Dark Horse really kicks off again and SK is in full flight it might not leave a lot of down time.

As for Death Church – it is definitely dead. We never wanted to do anything with different members, or any kind of lineup change so with a guitarist in NZ, a singer in melbourne and a drummer doing her own thing, it is definitely over. It was a fun ride though.

Is Industrial music something you have always been interested in or has it been a music that you have found yourself being draw to?

As mentioned before – I saw industrial as an extension of punk. Most of the people I met who were doing it when I was young were punks who were a generation or two older than me who had gone that direction via the likes of Butthole Surfers, Big Black etc and the Neubauten, Laibach etc side of stuff kind of came to them and me later even if they were working on similar ideas. Obviously, there was no internet then to find music on and those European experimental records just didn’t turn up in NZ very often. But I always loved what I heard when people were getting percussive and experimental with their sound. My first attempt at actually starting an industrial band was with Glenn Maltby and a couple other friends in the 90s. It was never going to work though. Already the ideas of what industrial was had diverged sufficiently that we didn’t have as much common ground – from Insurge to ministry to NIN, Consolidated or whatever, industrial was entering into popular music and was getting more refined and more defined. And that has continued to where industrial can mean anything from a person beating a piece of sheet metal to club music with slightly harsher/more attacking drum tones than what you might hear at a mainstream nightclub.

Something I was pondering the other day – Punk is a noun. And it gets a bunch of adjectives attached to it: crust, hardcore, pop etc.

Industrial is really an adjective which gets attached to various nouns – dance, metal, hip hop, goth etc

This may seem like a pretty wanky thing to spend time pondering but the reality of it shows in the way that people react. People who like punk will often check out anything that comes under that heading. People who like one kind of industrial often have no time at all for other types of industrial. So, whereas punk community pages (for example) often have hundreds of comments and reactions to every post. Industrial pages usually have nothing at all. Because it is not a community, but just a description of different factions of other communities.

You lived in Germany for a time and that is where you got the name Schkeuditzer Kreuz. Can you tell us what is the Schkeuditzer Kreuz and why you decided on this as a project name?

If you are driving from Berlin, south, on Autobahn 9 and want to turn onto the 14 to go Leipzig, the intersection where you would do this is Schkeuditzer Kreuz – literally the kreuz (cross) near the town of Schkeuditz. I was making that trip once (in the opposite direction) and I drunkenly said to my friend who I was in the back of the car with that I would call a band that one day. So I did. It is also the oldest autobahn cross in Europe but that is pretty irrelevant. Before I called it that, I did make sure there wasn’t any particularly fucked history attached to it. I did not want to call my rather silly band after a place which had war atrocities associated with it or anything like that. But no. It doesn’t. It is just an intersection. Every now and then I will run into some random German who is somewhat perplexed as to why I would name my band after an intersection, and I never have a satisfactory answer for them. They usually buy a record from me anyway.

There was a lot of Laibach influence on the first EP with the more pronounced pomp but Isolated And Alone feels a little more raw. Does it feel that way for you and was part of the frustration being in lockdown for periods of time due to covid?

In between the Give Me Nothing EP and the LP I did the D-Beat Raw Synth Punk EP and I think some of the attitude I took into that one came across into the LP. There is more noise, more anger, more distortion and more layers of synth and samples. The Give Me Nothing EP is relatively sparse in comparison, I think. Even the songs that I used on both have changed in that way. I have no idea if my next recording will continue that way or not. I have two new songs in my set now that are not on any records and not only do they not really fit in with either sound, they are not even that similar to each other. I think when I find a bit more time to sit and write I will find a direction to head in next. Give Me Nothing was interesting for me – I was learning the machines I was using and working out how I wanted to express myself with them. I still have a lot to learn but I think I have developed a bit of a workflow. Each song on the GMN EP was written in a completely different way from the others as I tried new things. I hope not to get too settled though. There are a million things I don’t know about making noise and I want to try all of them.

Did you find writing and recording the album easy or was it a labour of love?

Musically, it is not so much easy as natural. I have always written songs in my head along to the sounds I hear around me – that could be the sound of musical instruments but could also be the pumping of the coffee machine, the sound of a train I am sitting on, the slight misalignment in the wheels of my car, the cracking of the machines in a factory I used to work at or the beep beep beep of a laser level. I would write riffs in my head to them. But now I also created the beats based on them. Some songs start with something that is actually musical – a synth line or whatever, but more often than not it is with a percussive pattern which I will put noise or voice samples to, to give it direction. Sometimes this is something traditionally musical – for example on Traitor I had a melody I had recorded on my phone of the painfully loud music played from the Tannoy in the street outside of a funeral in Siem Reap in Cambodia. It is piercing and confronting and played so that everyone in the neighborhood knows the funeral is happening. I had recorded this years ago and then looped it and based the whole speed and layout of the song on that loop. Other times it might be downloaded field recordings that other people have made – from factories, in the street, in conversation…. recently I found some recordings from the deck of a North Sea oil rig and wrote a song around them. From there I will follow up with synth lines – bass, melody (sort of melody anyway), drone etc. For each synth part I will create the sound from scratch. I use an analog synth, so I start with that single wave sound and develop it until I have what I want using both the inbuilt stuff on the synth and the array of distortion pedals I use. In the end – the hard bit is the vocals. I don’t think of myself as a singer. I struggle with my lyrical output. But I have worked out a way to at least write words I can live with and then I vocalise them. I think this is probably the weakest part of my sound but I am coming to terms with it.

The most punk thing in the world is to be found to be subversive by a Communist country, however it must have been galling to have your original pressing of Isolated and Alone confiscated by the Chinese government.

Fuck but this was so weird. I had the records pressed through a broker in Melbourne who uses a pressing plant in China. So we went through the process – sent them my master and they cut it to their stamper plates and sent me the test presses. I was happy enough with them and asked them to continue (all standard up to this point) and then a couple weeks later I got a phone call – the factory had pressed my records and boxed them up to send but before they were sent, they were inspected by some official or another who decided that due to content they were not suitable for export. So they destroyed the lot. Everything. I have heard words like “subversive content” and similar but who really knows? They didn’t like it so I couldn’t have it. So we started again from scratch. New plates, new tests, new records. In the end I am just happy to have them in my hands.

Punk and industrial seem to have, for the most part become the social conscience of the music scene. How do you think this came about and does it resonate with you?

The politics of punk is what got me in there and kept me there. And industrial for me has the same feel. I don’t mean big P politics necessarily – just some kind of social conscience and attitude. Angry music without a conscience is just a temper tantrum and doesn’t hold my attention for long. This is not to say that every song must be a specific political doctrine. There are definitely SK songs that are quite personal but they are still aware of how the personal crosses over to the political.

The proceeds of the album sales are going to a charity that helps and support young Trans people. Tell us about this and what other causes you find yourself drawn to.

Yeah, all digital proceeds go to Transcend. Transcend is run by a wonderful woman named Beck in Melbourne who has been helping young trans people for many years now. I have met her personally a few times at various events but known of her for longer. She and her family are a large part of the reason for some of the trans positive law reform of the last few years. Trans people, and particularly trans youth, are often left out of any conversation on the rights of the population so I figured I would do my small amount to help. I have been involved in various causes over the years both through my music and through my actions – refugee assistance, trans support, anti-racism work, pro-choice advocacy. Mostly stuff where my big mouth and (where necessary) big body can help back up people whose voice is being ignored.

What music formed your formative years and by progression, who do you find now inspires you?

First band I really got into was The Clash. And I still love them now. Although some of my feeling for them has changed – when I first heard them, they seemed quite shouty and punk or whatever. What I really appreciate about them though, and how their influence has stuck with me over the years was their willingness to try different things and go in different musical directions and to create new sounds. From there I went through the normal run of punk bands that one does – Sex Pistols, Exploited, Siouxsie, SLF etc until one day in about 1987 when I was in hospital for an extended visit and one night nurse turned up with a tape he had made for me from a punk radio show – this opened my eyes to so much amazing music – Subhumans, Conflict, and Crass for a start but also bands like Puke from Sweden and then further down into European hardcore. I guess that was a pretty life changing moment for a 15 year old. Now days I feel I am getting inspired by something new every day. All the time I am coming across so much amazing music being made by people from around the world. From grindcore like Self Deconstruction (Japan) to evil doomy sludgy stuff like Religious Observance or Whitehorse (Melbourne) to dark curst bands like Ego (Germany) or black metal like Black Kirin and Zuriaake from China to weirdness out of the States like Hustler or whatever. Pretty much not a day goes past where someone doesn’t go “hey Kieren – check this!” and there is always something incredible attached. There is so much amazing music being created right now and most of it is available directly from the bands on their Bandcamp.

You have tour dates established for the East Coast of Australia, so what will be the plans for SK after the tour? Will there be another album and/or were there rumblings about touring overseas at some point?

So, yeah, after the tour… I am not sure. I really want to go and play in Europe. I have toured there with various hardcore bands I have been in, but I would very much like to take SK over there. Of course, that depends on what happens with the virus though. If it starts to settle, I will start looking at booking shows there. I am trying not to put too much mental energy into that yet though. Likewise, I was going to go to NZ but that is out for now. I want to add more to my Australian travels. I haven’t been to Tasmania or W.A with SK yet so will get that happening. My next recording I am not sure what I will do with that. Maybe a split with someone inappropriate. Maybe an ill advised single. I don’t really know. But I will keep going and keep creating stuff until it becomes too much like work and then I will stop. Can’t see that happening in a hurry though.

Thank you so very much for your time and looking forward to the latest tour!

Thanks for the interview. See you soon!

https://dorfpunk.bandcamp.com/album/isolated-and-alone

Sometimes you are privileged enough to meet extraordinary people who are talented, make a difference in the world around them and most importantly are very human. Kieren Hills is definitely one of those rare humans. From Lawson, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, he runs the label Dorfpunk, Dark Horse is his crust punk project, he has turned his hand to gothic fare with Death Church and has been involved in the music industry for a fair while. Schkeuditzer Kreuz is his one man industrial project and the first full length album, Isolated And Alone, was released on the 14th of December, which is a follow up to the EP, Give Me Nothing. I once described the music style as very Laibach and it still is but those harsh elements of industrial are very much present.

KIEREN HILLS -SCHKEUDITZER KREUZ

The song that kicks this off is the single “Broken“. From the start, you are going into Hills’ world with the warning that this is the representation of a brief psychotic episode. Massive reverb flies with the static, consuming your ears as the vocals savage your brain. It is the explanation of an episode where everything is over stimulating, you don’t want to die but the effort to actually live seems far too hard. The klaxons hail in “Warning” that has the drum machine pounding away as the music blares in.

All shall be reduced to the same particles of dust when the “Wraith” comes. The synths are almost ear bleeding in their pitch and give a sensation of dysphoria. All is lost as love and hope are wiped away to be replaced with fear and ultimately nothing. “State Violence State Control” has the blaring sirens of Australian emergencies services screaming in the background (so this is not the sort of song I will play in the car while driving because it always scares the crap out of me!!). If the title is familiar, that is because it is a cover of punk legends, Discharge, who are the godfathers of d-beat and this was also released on a split single but since then reworked and mastered for the album. It is every bit as angry as the original version, in electronic form, throwing two finger in the air to politicians, cronies and violent suppression of the masses.

Normally an interlude is a short piece to give the audience a break with some light music, that then soon gets back to the main entertainment or a bridge. “Interlude” is the interlude you are going to get and you better just hunker down and stick to the programme. It starts lightly enough with flowing synths before the rhythm picks up and Kieren informs you – It’s happened before It’s happened before And millions have died And millions have died And millions have died And millions of people have died. A warning that history is repeating itself because people either don’t want to see it or don’t educate themselves. The vocals bring forth visions of holocausts, military coups/enforcement, genocide and war.

Full of loathing and dark thoughts is “Disappointment” starting slowly and picks up speed as the those thoughts become a swirling overload. There is a beautiful synth line hidden within if one listens closely. It is like a veritable scream of fury into the aether, with the metallic beats. When someone refused to go to war because they were a conscientious objector, they were called cowards and “Traitors” to their country because they didn’t want to carry a gun and kill their own kind. Their is an urgency to this track like life itself depends on movement. Fittingly, the “Last Dance” is the final track and the track about finality. When the end comes will you have the last embracing waltz into the darkness? So I guess in a way though it sounds bleak there is a romantic side to it as well.

I am privileged to call this man a friend though I had seen him live before I had met him. In short his show blew us away. He is warm and charming, loves his family, music and pottering around in his garden because it brings him closer to nature. These things are also his sanctuary from the world and especially the last two years have been mentally difficult for many people.

100% of proceeds from digital sales will go to Transcend to help create a world where Trans, Gender Diverse and Non-Binary children are embraced and given every opportunity to thrive and flourish – the man has a beautiful heart and a keen ear.

Get in quick if you want the vinyl or cassette as they always go fast. Just to prove how hard core Schkeuditzer Kreuz truly are, the original pressings of the vinyl were done in China, finished and then confiscated after some complete and utter bastard had a listen, ending up in the whole batch being deemed subversive. That is so punker that thou. It’s an emotional roller-coaster but its well worth every moment and maybe you will find it as cathartic as Kieren Hills does because in the end we are not so Isolated And Alone.

https://dorfpunk.bandcamp.com/album/isolated-and-alone

Schkeuditzer Kreuz | Facebook

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Bad Habit Records | Facebook Bad Habit Records

https://alreadybrokenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/isolated-and-alone Already Broken Records | Facebook

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Who doesn’t enjoy a good old ghost story that causes the hair on the back of your neck to rise, your flesh to goosebump and eyes to water without warning? It is human nature to be curious of that which we do not understand and Syd.31 explores those places in the dark where the shadow people lurk, waiting for you in the single release, “Demon Night“. Syd.31 is Dr Magic who is based in Manchester in the UK and the United Kingdom, like all cultures, is steeped in tales of the paranormal.

SYD.31 AND KRAMPUS FRIENDS

When I was a kid, we lived in a haunted house. Some ‘thing’ would walk down the hallway, into my room and just stand at the end of my bed. It looked like an old lady and it scared the hell out of me. Other people saw it too, but didn’t tell me until years after, thankfully. I still struggle to sleep alone with the light out…”Syd.31

The video was shot in the haunted Antwerp Mansion, the infamous Whitby Krampus makes his presence known and if you look carefully, maybe there hints of the ephemeral shadow people. You can hear the near panicked fear in Dr Magic’s voice because they are waiting for him to be alone in the dark of the night, so they may play. There is a psychobilly aspect to the number, not just with the chord progressions but also the use of a Gretsch guitar. All this lends itself to a nicely blended industrial rocking tale of misery. Plus, have to love the middle eastern style drumming at the beginning. “Demon Night” comes off the Syd.31 album, Machine Ready, that was launched in April this year.

I will add my own side note to this. As I wrote this late in the night, the online radio ceased to work. It seems the new router we had received had gone offline but the thing is this one guaranteed to work unless there is no power. It did come back on of its own accord, most unusual…..

https://syd31.bandcamp.com/track/demon-night-2

https://www.facebook.com/Syd31/

Kieren Hills aka Dorfpunk Tapes, is somewhat of an Australian renaissance man. His love of underground fare means he performs in more than his fair share of bands, from crust punk to goth, though his punk attitude shines through all. One of his incarnations is his one man, industrial punk act called Schkeuditzer Kreuz. In September of 2020, the EP Give Me Nothing was released.

KIEREN HILLS – SCHKEUDITZER KREUZ

This is your “Warning” that starts with a nationalistic anthem of a non existent, fascist state. It smacks of Laibach as it launches, hammering into your skull, the staccato beat with wailing siren. The warning is about a population devoid of control, will find others to exert power over to prove they exist.

Metallic industrial rhythm heralds in “Amerika:, a song written in the time of the Trump presidency and on a personal computer that had no working ‘C’. The angst of watching the erosion of rights, injustice and wholesale lies are ground out by Hills.

Consumerism drives economies, drives environmental destruction, plunges many into poverty and leaves many always wanting what they do not need. Greed is the theme behind, “But What If“. Screeching electronics, contorted in the fervour before the final meltdown.

Traitor” is a slower track in some ways with an electronic sludginess like sonic glue, however surprisingly does speed up with a near psychedelic overdrive.

Final track, “Give Me Nothing” is the equivalent of Edvard Münch’s The Scream, a cry to escape the tragedy of life. Not necessarily escaping through death but no longer plugged into the machine that pounds away with fuzzy fury.

It’s a little gem of an EP and gets better every play. It is punchy and doesn’t pull any punches about the state of society in general but then it just wouldn’t be punk if it didn’t have something to say. Should you ever get the chance to see Schkeuditzer Kreuz live, take it. The experience will blow your mind but in the meantime indulge in Give Me Nothing on Bandcamp for name your price.

https://dorfpunk.bandcamp.com/album/give-me-nothing-2

https://www.facebook.com/SchkeuditzerKreuz/

March the 19th is the release date for the album And The Light Goes White by LA based act, The Dramedy, aka Dave Dramedy. The Dramedy have been around since 2014, with EPs and the album StrAngr(S)tiL in 2018 under their belt, so with this new LP, has come the joys of recording in a time of pestilence.

DAVE DRAMEDY

Kicking this off is “Vow“, and acoustic guitars starts the steam locomotive style rhythm. It’s a bit like a western and then you hear the bangs like gun shots and glass tinkling that might happen in a bar brawl accompanied by electric guitar and raw vocals.

The second single released off the album is “Parasite“, with wonderfully jangly guitars. Something eats away at the back of my mind… the way Dramedy sings and then it hits me. He reminds me of Stan Ridgeway (ex Wall Of Voodoo) in the animated drawl and the post punk ambience. This is a great little number with a lot of heart, even if it’s about the fact that all is lost. I think Buffalo Tom would have been proud to call this their song.

The Clock Strikes Heaven” does sound very spontaneous, as if written in one sitting and they just said, this is it. For a tune about when you’re time is up, it seems pretty cheery and has a slightly live feel to it.

Heavier guitars herald “Popsicle” and can we say sexual connotations. Sucking on popsicles can make people very, very happy but the downside is addiction and a nasty case of diabetes. Gosh, I’m not sure if this a promise or a threat but it does make me giggle and even with the driving guitar, Dramedy doesn’t sound like he’s taking it all that seriously.

A more acoustic flamenco influenced turn with “Days“. Lyrically, it could be the verbalising of an abusive relationship, purposely going off key to set you on edge.

The first single, “Waiting On You” changes track again. Like a 50s doo whoop of teenage longing with a dose of blinkered crazy on the side, you hence get the slightly erratic guitar work upping the ante. This number also appeared on an EP in 2019 but less dressed up, let us say.

There is a very skiffle Brit-pop sensibility to “What’s Left To Say?”. It still it definitely overall American but the timing and rhythm have that undeniable joyous bouncing flavour that you got from bands such as Swervedriver and Suede.

Oh I hear a bit of the deathrock in “Life Bites Me” and quite frankly life can be like that in these times of covid… watching the time tick by. This could also be a reference to a dead romance that one can’t get over. A cacophony of guitar, drums and enthusiastic vocals.

On a more reflective note is “Circle The Road” which questions why someone else gets to walk away from a relationship and leave the other with no answers. I hear the influence of Jesus and Mary Chain in the guitar here.

As it began, so it finishes with an acoustic piece, “All Our Yesterdays“, which is a ballad with harmonisation from Caroline Blind. Again there is the sound of Jesus And Mary Chain in the structure and also the sentiment, with a bit of Screamadelica, Primal Scream thrown in for good measure.

Dave Dramedy comes with some lofty cred in the post punk/goth community, as the main live guitar player for Caroline Blind (ex Sunshine Blind) and appearing on her debut solo album with a host of other heavyweights such as Rich Witherspoon (The Wake), Dave Wolfenden (Red Lorrry Yellow Lorry, The Mission), Gordon Young (Children On Stun, Pretentious Moi?), William Faith (Faith And The Muse, Christian Death) and we could go on. Plus he was in the deathrock band Readership Hostile, which has its own claims to fame.

This is not some over polished jewel but then there is no fun if everything is over produced. You won’t find any voice modulation or slick production. You will get the bull, horns and everything though, with all the emotion and genuine candour. It’s a little western (pew pew), a bit more angst soul searching and a lot of jangly guitar. Get The Dramedy on and indulge in And The Light Goes White.

https://thedramedy2014.bandcamp.com/album/and-the-light-goes-white

https://www.facebook.com/thedramedy2014/

https://www.thedramedy.com/

Brixton Alley are three lads, Alex, Ben and Jonny, from the UK, who somehow ended up in Brisbane, Australia. This punk/pop/rap fusion band also released this year a new EP called, “Nevermore“.

Alex Wells is the drummer for the band with his brother, Ben Wells, playing bass and contributing backing vocals, as well as Jonny Magro as lead singer and on guitar.

BRIXTON ALLEY

There are vibrant highs, through to staccato vocal punctuations in the first track, “Headache“. The frustration of finding work and trying to escape the hometown/village and its sad populace, in order to find something better.

The guitars sing out to you in “Voices” and it is a bit of an indie pop anthem to the youth of the day… the daily struggle with moments of beauty. The girl in the song might be hearing voices but maybe we need to hear those inner voices.

The brit pop influenced guitar lines bring us “Owl“. This is a cheeky observation on men out on the town, ogling girls to the point, their heads swivel around like the feathered night predators, as they greedily look for pretty prey. This has a really nice, catchy hook which you will hear in your head after the song has finished.

Animals” has a reggae sensibility with rap incursions. It is feels joyous and yet laments that we have forgotten our primal instincts. A good laid back rock number.

BRIXTON ALLEY

The acoustic beginning of “Outsider” shows a slower and more romantic piece. This is a modern ode to love, including cigarettes and a can of cider. This is laconic and slightly darker that it admits to, with the pleads to over look mental struggles.

The tunes are fun to listen to and yet are observations on modern existence in this age of excess. In some ways they remind me of one of my favourite post punk bands, New Model Army, with their swagger and revelations. It’s all about the journey, so it might be time time join Brixton Alley and have a listen to Nevermore.

https://m.facebook.com/brixtonalleyband/