When I received the new Bow Ever Down single, “Undercover“, I thought, oh yes, I’ve heard about this. Have to say I was not prepared for it to be so big as it is. I mean it’s generous enough to be called an EP. Kimberley Kommeier with her co-conspirators, John Ruszin III and Wess Fowler (Silence In Machine) have created a synthpop driven collaboration with an interesting crew, whose talents lay from darkwave to industrial.
There is the delicate and yet forceful “Trail Of Tears” that features Silence In Machine and produced by Ruszinthe III, which is followed with the electronic overhaul by replicant rme remix of “Burn You Alive“, off the previous album Let It Burn, released in May. Fiction 8 and The Bleak Assembly have created The Cure like “Slow Down Time“, full of wandering guitar and beautiful sadness with Kommeier’s vocals. Next is the slow and melancholy dirge of the Spungee written track “Human Emotion“.
Okay…. now we come to the cover version of Madonna’s “Oh Father“. I am not the biggest Madonna fan and the name didn’t ring any bells until I heard it, jogging my memory. Ah, yes, so you have the original cover with the music supplied by Artificial Zero which is a far more industrial interpretation. There are nine…. yes 9… remixes for your listening pleasure, from a plethora of talent giving their spin to this track, from acts like SysMachine, Addambombb, Raygun Girls and others. Oh, you want to know what they sound like? Well then you might just have to go to Bandcamp and give it a little spin
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.
Danish electronic artist, John R. Mirland, is back with a new album, Motor Romantik, under the guise of his solo dark/synthwave moniker, M73. Mirland is also known for his other musical labours such as Mirland, AmTierpark, Mirland & Larsen and I could go on about his forays into rhythmic power noise, synthpop, Eurodance, techno and even black metal. September the 1st, saw the release come out on the Læbal music label.
The super cool “Take It All” with electronic vocals, graces out ears. The synths are lovely as the techno leeches through the synthpop cracks. Mirland’s melancholic vocals are at odds with the bright and glittering keyboard lines in “Wrong” and this leads into the stellar “Obsessed“, with its piano intro that breaks into a Eurodance style hybrid, which is a lot of fun. The sliding electronics in “Vampire” entrance your senses, a story of a vampiric type that lives off the fear and sadness of others. “Inside You” gives a glimpse of Mirland’s deft talent with industrial noise, crafting it to fit into a darkwave form, with fuzzed tones and glitched rhythms. Also pretty creepy and maybe about a parasite with lyrics like I’m inside you Wearing the perfect disguise.
The title track “Motor Romantik” is just a fantastic techno influenced track, which means the beats are free flowing and the vocals are low, luring you into the futuristic world where everything has been engineered, including humans. I wonder if “Empty“, is about mental health, burning bridges and spurning those who love, unreasonably destroying everything. The vocals reflect the emotional hollowness of a life that has no purpose. “Empty” was originally released in 2021 as a single.
There is something spine chilling in the icy synths of “Crucify“, as they run up and down your spine and a very oppressive tone of electronics that almost sound like christian chant in the background. The cyber world is wonderfully encapsulated in the music of “Perfect“. A cyber stalker or antisocial miscreant, living their fantasy world through a screen. “No Light In Sight” is another track previously released as a single. A drug induced stupor, though deep inside, the electrical synapses crackle still, slowly dwindling away.
There is always the beautiful synth graduations that Mirland conjurs up, running through each track, like silken fingers that shimmer across your skin, while the lyrics are about degeneration, dark lusts, eroticism, lost dreams and a future designed by others. I love that he combines his different music styles subtly to create something that is evocative and utterly enjoyable, either on a dance floor or driving on a dark night, down atmospheric roads. Yes, Motor Romantik is a treat for the ears with M73.
If not familiar with the industrial project 40 Octaves Below, then let me introduce you a resident of Vancouver, Drake Moore. The single “Splintered” came out on August 19th, with an epic four remixes by some fairly hard hitters in the scene today, before the soon to be released album, MetaVerUs.
“The song itself is a casting that calls for the guilty to come to Justice.” – Drake Moore
“Splintered” lumbers into being like a monster with frizzing electronics and Moore’s angry and distorted vocals railing against the general movement of popularising lies and untruths, seeking retribution. MATT HART is the first remixer and his version is cold cyber steel with casual disdain, while the Anthony (H) mix is pared-down, slinky and dirty sexy. The mix by Live Evil Productions is going into rhythmic noise territory, a ride that feels a little out of control and intense, leaving the last remix to Silence In The Machine which cleverly incorporates a far more synthpop edge to the track that spins and spins until you might become dizzy.
You feel the contempt in “Splintered” no matter the mix. Unbridled rage is palpable and the guest mixers have interpreted that in their own styles, which is always interesting to hear. The music video definitely conveys the horror theme to go along with the track… Halloween is just around the corner and remember that at 40 Octaves Below, no-one will hear you rumble.
From Paimio, Finland, Eenian Dreams are beckoning you with their newest single, “Beacons (chroma null)“, released on September the 1st. Pauliina (vocals) and T. C. Newman (synths, producing) are the duo that make up this electronic project, founded in 2021.
There is anticipation at the start to see where the piano style goes to and then we aren’t disappointed. Pauliina’s vocals are electronically contorted though this seems to fit the ambiance of the track. There is such pain in the lyrics, a sadness that consumes all in its wake, a promise that there is a point of no turning back. The electronics are sympathetic and swell beneath the vocals
What do you do when all all hope seems lost for a planet that we are destroying? Most definitely write a song about it, because silence is being a complicit accomplice. It is almost like the vocals are the modern world, unnatural. I can see why they call this dreamy music, as it billows and wanders through your ears very pleasantly. “Beacons(chroma null)” are used as warning signals and Eenian Dreams have lit theirs in a beautiful manner.
Viral Records have released the new Dirt Factory single, on the 10th of September, ahead of the fourth album, due on October the 1st. “Troops Of Death” is the latest offering from the Aussie duo, Michael Gillman and Daniel Allen, with a bonus four remixes from both local and international talent.
The original mix has Daniel with far less distorted vocals and he sounds fantastic as the beats fall around him, stalking you to extinction. The synths graduate in tone causing a sense of creeping doom. The NOVAKILL – Boots On The Ground remix is harsher, with Craig Saunders injecting a cleaner edge that cuts like a knife and a techno style rhythm. Rob Early of 11Grams has taken the track and turned it into a dance floor phenomena, and the synth absolutely fly around in a storm.
The beginning of the Cosmos Synthetics remix seem understated, until it goes into a glitching deconstruction, like a horror movie with no escape, with what sounds like electronic shaking breaths. Last is Roger Menso, whom is NyteShayde, with the Crazy Shady remix and this is the only track to incorporate a guitar into the mix, giving the track a more Korn/nu-metal styling, heavy and metallic.
The theme is apocalyptic, genetic engineering of soldiers, who feel nothing, stop for nothing and everything is the objective. The cyber future which makes for a pretty cool single. Michael and Daniel have created a darkly oppressive track with a catchy rhythm, to get your imagination fired up and the remixes are great additions to enjoy.
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.
Melbourne’s Roles, are about to release their debut album, There’s A Space, as of the 1st of September. In the lead up, they had a sign up induction and people were able to access the tracks for free, with exclusive content including videos for five days. Louise Love and Luis Gutierrez make up this lovely duo, and their style is abrasive guitar, married to 80s styled synths and Love’s sweet vocals, that creates a post-punk/art rock explosion. We wanted to know what makes Roles tick, so of course we asked them.
Dear Lou and Luis of the band Roles, welcome to the up side of down and reverse is yet another way to continue on a journey.
Hey Adele! Thank you for interviewing us. Lou here, I am going to answer these questions in first person on behalf of Roles.
How did Roles come into being?
My previous music project was a solo electronic pop-thing called Louise Love. I put this on ice in 2016. Looking back, I can see how personal demons played into this. Pursuing music is a tough road even in the best circumstances. I kept trying to push through, but I burnt myself out with all the trying.
After a while, I needed to be creative again. At first, I told myself I was developing an art-project, not another music thing. But it ended-up becoming a bunch of songs.
Coming from Melbourne, what musical projects were you involved in before Roles?
Luis is originally from Caracas and we met in my home town of Fremantle. We have been in Melbourne for about 7 years, before that we were in Hobart for a while. Louise Love (solo) performed in Melbourne from 2015 to 2016. The act also played in Hobart from 2013. Roles is the first music project for Luis. He did however do visual artwork for Louise Love.
Back in WA, I did all kinds of different original music projects. I started singing in a punk band during my last year of high school and kept going from there. I was never really punk. I used to hang around with a group of punks and goths at high school, but I didn’t know how I fitted in with them. It was the same with music. I spent longer than most trying to find my own voice in my song-writing. It wasn’t until I started electronic music production, that I started to feel even close.
Melbourne is a pretty cosmopolitan place and was hit hard by the Covid lockdowns, this especially so for the entertainment industry. What was this like for you both?
Not being able to play or go to gigs sucked. We are yet to make a profit from music, so we weren’t affected like people who make a living from the Arts. Melbourne has the best live music scene in the country, It was really tough on the venues and they are still trying to recover.
Apart from that, we were fine. Luis was able to keep working from home and he was allowed to go see his horse, so he got through it okay. I got job keeper, which was a welcomed paid staycation. I feel sadness that other people suffered and that lives were lost, but I was lucky and made the most of the experience. Having the world slow down, gave the time I needed to work out a lot of my personal shit.
What is the premise behind the name Roles?
We all play different roles in life. It’s good to be aware of that. It’s also a good practice to ask who or what it is that is playing those roles.
Also, the song writing method means that each song is telling someone’s story, so we are playing that role for a few minutes.
Most of your music is based on audio recordings of interviews and conversations. What is it about this style of medium that inspires you?
Every song lyric (so far) has been created from audio transcribed into text. This is cut-up and whittled down into simple lyrics. Each lyric aims to maintain the original meaning and/or story of the speaker.
This was somewhat inspired by PJ Harvey’s work on ‘Let England Shake’ which explores English history and war-time experiences. I loved the idea of not writing about your own personal experiences. It opens up creative possibilities and can evolve your worldview in the process. This approach also harks back to more traditional song writing; as it was used to convey shared stories and teachings.
Who is the main writer or is it a shared exercise?
I write and arrange the songs, but Luis is a big part of Roles.
Luis is a production consultant on each song, nothing gets to the final stage without his approval. He just gets the sound and I trust his judgement on the music more than anyone else. While I often get cranky when he criticises something, I usually end up agreeing with him and fixing it. He has a good ear and very refined taste.
He is a talented visual artist and contributes to Roles in that way. He also created the VolcaFM synth programs I used for the final arrangements. Learning to play the live synth parts was his first experience as a musician and at performing in front of people. He’s really committed to the project.
I noted that Luis’ playing style reminded me very much of Gary Numan…. does Luis have a small crush on the Numan?
We like Gary Numan, especially his early solo work! Was never a deliberate influence, but we are very happy to sound like him.
How would you describe Roles musical sound?
We describe the sound as post-punk and post-pop. Neither of us are very good musicians, but the song structure is strong. Our minimal approach to the arrangements helps to keep all our earnestness in check.
There’s A Space is the debut album. How excited are you both to get this out into the world?
Very excited. But we are also looking forward to finishing this process so we can focus on the second album release. The songs on the ‘There’s A Space’ are old to us now, but we have to remember that most people haven’t heard them yet. Maybe we should have pretended we just wrote them!
How long did you take in the creation and did covid play a part in this?
The album took about a year to write. But it was about two years until it was recorded, mixed and mastered.
The album was ready at the end of 2019 and scheduled for release in 2020; but life had other plans. Before we strayed from our original release schedule, we did drop a couple of singles from the album. The first of these was Empty Room. That single launch was the last gig we played before lockdowns swept in.
Do you have a favourite child off the album and if so, why?
For Luis it’s a draw between She Was No Acid Head and If I Meditate Enough.
I honestly don’t have a favourite. Sometimes when I’m playing one of the songs from the album, I’ll suddenly hear or understand it in a new way and I’ll fall in love with it all over again.
My favourite song is always the song I’ve just written. So right now, it’s something from the second album.
For you guys, it is fairly obvious that art is just as important as the music as exemplified by your special pre release Roleout. Why is this and what was it like doing the prerelease?
We wanted to give the album opportunity to connect with people before launching it into the void. We made a 5 day experience of bonus material. Those who signed-up got 5 daily emails linking them to a hidden webpage, which revolved around two songs from the album. Each song came with audio, a music video, a vlog and graphics. There was other art and behind-the -scenes video. It was in the theme of an online ‘retreat’.
It was an ambitious attempt at marketing the album in a different way. We thought we might reach more people by offering them an experience rather than just the album. The modest number of loyal fans who actually viewed the webpages, really seemed to enjoy it.
It was a huge amount of work making all the videos and art, but the pandemic gave us lots of time. Putting the webpages and tech stack together also took a while. We don’t regret doing it and can probably use the videos and art in other ways. We also developed a lot of new skills and confidence which we can take with us.
How have you incorporated your art into the music?
Roles began as an art-project. I brain stormed and researched the themes I wanted to explore, which led me to the audio recordings idea. I eventually realised I wanted to write songs again, but I wanted to do it as an art-project.
I decided to use pre-defined artistic constraints as a way to open up my creativity. It sounds counter intuitive, but it works! Only using transcribed audio for lyrics was one constraint. I then made ten song sketches, using only bass, kick and vocals. For the final songs arrangements, I chose a limited number of instruments/sound and stuck to those.
Both of us also do a lot of video art for Roles. And as I mentioned, Luis does lots of visual art for the project.
Roles is playing live to support the release of the album. How much fun is it to get back to live performance?
We are very happy to be playing live again! We did do a lot of livestreams during lockdown, which kept the flame alive, but it’s not the same. We also love going to gigs as punters, it’s great to be back out at our favourite live music venues.
This is the obligatory, what music or bands got you into the scene?
If we ever get let into a scene we’ll let you know!
But this is more likely a question about our influences. I’m really bad at this stuff. I’ll try, but It’s hard to narrow it down: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Total Control, Sleaford Mods, New Order, Leonard Cohen, Radio Head, Chicks on Speed, Björk, Brian Eno, The Cure, CC Dust, Talking Heads, Anne Clark, PJ Harvey, YACHT, LCD Soundsystem, Bush Tetras, Peaches, Sonic Youth, Adult, Fleetwood Mac, Erase Errata, The Native Cats, Chook Race…I could go on, but I think that’s enough.
Who do you listen to now?
We are really into the local scene at the moment, getting out to watch gigs. So lately, it’s been acts such as Plaster of Paris, Miles Brown, The Techno Biddies, Party Pest, Hot Dog, V, Astral Skulls … tonight I’m going to the single launch for Pretty In Pink.
You find an old suitcase, with a tape reel inside of an interview. Who do you wish it was and why?
My maternal Great Grandmother. She died very young under mysterious circumstances. No one talked about it much, so I’ve always wondered what happened to her. That was back before there was so much awareness about mental health. I think hearing her story could help me understand my own experiences with that side of the family.
What is in the future for Roles?
Roles are currently working on our second collection of songs; the theme of this collection is death. This work mainly involves interviews we have conducted with various people, each song a conversation about death. I even interviewed myself for one of the songs, it’s a banger!
Thank you Lou for being an willing participant in this interview as well!
The label, Brutal Resonance Records, had a bit of a coup, signing the cyber synth project, Slighter to their stable. Colin C. is Slighter and to celebrate this union, has brought forth the EP, Welcome To Riot City made up of five original tracks and five remixes.
“Welcome To Riot City” is brooding and dark from the start. The hairs rise on the back of your neck with the movement of the sleek synths, which runs into the the robotic vocalised “Breaking In“. A sleaziness invades “Comadose“, foreign and exotic, waving in and out of reality. The tension builds as there is a “Firefight OnWarett Street“, where you can almost hear evasive sirens in the music, as well as the cocking of a gun. Last track before the remixes is “High Tech, High Life” with its crunchy glitching married to the soundscape building synths that are taking you on the journey.
The remixes are made up of Eva X with her intriguing wubbing and chunky power noise influenced “Welcome To Riot City“, the HOSTILE ARCHITECT brings in stellar beats and bass drops to aid you “Breaking In“, royb0t is definitely not going to let you slip into a coma with what they do with “Comadose“. Planetdamage take on “Firefight OnWarett Street” and the shells are falling as we go into hyperdrive mode while Kizunaut gets all prickly and dance inferno for “High Tech, High Life“. It is a really fun EP with Slighter showing his expertise in electronic music and getting five amazing musicians to give each track a thumping good makeover. Welcome To Riot City, and come and get some!
What might you do if you are stuck inside? You might listen to some music and that music might be the latest single from She 1 – Him 2, called “Stuck Inside“. Evan Nave (Lestat/PKS) and Cassie Bishop (Shy Moon) make up this electronica duo of power!
Nave is the electronic voice in the background, maybe trying to escape the confines of its box. All the while, Bishop’s feminine wiles and vocals delicately lure you in. Sweet and moreish in this synth laden wonderland.
I like how this pair share the lead vocal roles, there is a real symmetry in the singing and even the electronic dimension. It wavers between 80s synthwave and the modern era, which is both fun to listen to and quite catchy. Get “Stuck Inside” with She 1 – Him 2.