This interview is in Greek and it took place on 23/06/2017. It was originally posted by the blog Ελευθερία ή Τίποτα
This interview is in Greek and it took place on 23/06/2017. It was originally posted by the blog Ελευθερία ή Τίποτα
JACK PHOENIX, large-event multimedia DJ of international Goth, Industrial, 80’s, Dance, and Top-40 tracks sat down with us from his home-base in Boston, Massachusetts. Having traveled up and down the East and West Coasts, as well as countless points in between, Jack is also the founder of the largest Facebook conglomeration of Goth/Industrial Group Pages, encompassing the USA and Europe.
Come take a ride with us as we pick at Jack’s brain in this ‘tribe4mian – The Thirteen Questions’ exclusive.
01. TRIBE4MIAN: Boston is generally a rocker town with Aerosmith, Boston, The Cars, Pixies, Buffalo Tom, and other high-profile rock bands taking center stage in our musical realm. How did you transition yourself over to the Goth and Industrial scenes and do you sometimes dip back into the pool of rock during shows? Is there a big Goth scene in Boston?
JACK PHOENIX: Godsmack, J. Geils, Dropkick Murphys, Dresden Dolls, Susan Tedeschi, Chick Correa, Mission of Burma, also. 🙂
DJing in the Goth/Industrial scene began for me when I visited a Club called MANRAY in the Cambridge/Boston area back in the early 2000’s and found the music dark, heavy, mesmerizing and totally stimulating. Music with an edge to it has always drawn me, and here at this club for the first time, I was immediately caught up by the incredible, heavy synth beat. I walked into the rear room and had people dancing in front of me, fetish play over to the left of me, while watching two hot women making out over to the right of me. Everyone seemed caught up and energized by the dark pulsing music (probably the alcohol too, lol) and even though I had been to rock and dance clubs in the late 80’s, THIS was entirely different. The music had an energy you didn’t hear on the radio. The musicians were what some would call “Underground” like Peter Murphy or Nick Cave. There were songs being played by Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order, Siouxie and the Banshees that you never heard on top-40 radio. Bauhaus? Who were these guys? Totally ensnared by this new sound, I kept visiting over and over during the next few years, eventually also “working” there as the guardian to the Mistress of the Fetish Dungeon, Mistress Mimi. I got to know the resident DJ Chris Ewen during that time as well. Deciding that I wanted to be part of this incredible musical scene, I dived into the Goth/Industrial genre buying up all and any CD’s that were considered “Staples”, eventually encompassing whole catalogs of bands like Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, as well as the other bands music I had previously collected- all within half a year.
Having a passion for music and loving the history aspect of music as well (I consider myself a music historian on all genres; you can never learn enough about music), I did my research on background of Goth/Industrial, the important musicians; whom was considered an icon, who was up and coming and the important milestones of the genre as well.
As far as ever actually playing rock styled music at my events, if I do a Goth/Industrial gig then I stay within those parameters however an occasional trip down memory lane in other genres is sometimes asked for and I have no problem smoothly implementing that into my spins. I usually wouldn’t play Modern top-40, Bruce Springsteen or Bob Segar at a Goth event but old-time favorites are possible. If there is a band or a group or a song that could possibly cross over (I will sneak some 80’s into a night if I know that the song would get everyone up and dancing in a heartbeat, like Kate Bush or Falco), I do it. In comparison, I wouldn’t play Incubus Succubus or Electric Hellfire club at an 80’s flashback night. There are Rock-styled songs by Ministry and KMFDM and so forth that can give you the rock edge, without crossing over to the mainstream rock aspects.
The Goth scene in New England is a dynamic and well-attended scene with a mix of old faithfuls and new young blood enlivening the scene. I wouldn’t call it large in comparison to other genres but it is large in compared to other parts of the country.
02. TRIBE4MIAN: You host a massive amount of online gathering spots covering the East to West Coast on Facebook. What made you decide to take on such a daunting task? Is it rewarding and do you feel it helps bridge the miles of separation as you move across the country?
JACK PHOENIX: Yes, for America, Canada and Europe, I made three groups; East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast as well as the European Group (see the end of the interview for the 6 links to the groups I own to help the scene). It originally started on MYSPACE as a small group to help promote the NEPGM Fest (New England Punk Goth Metal). I expanded that group to eventually cover New England and then the New York/Tri-State area. When I came over to Facebook I continued the group, as well as starting the now largely successful International Group (19,000+ Members). While the International Group was growing rapidly, others asked me if I ever thought of having more regional groups other than the East Coast one. I thought that would be a great idea, so I formed the Mid-West and West Coast groups, as well as making a group for those over in Europe to post in as well. This way, even though everyone can and will promote and share in the International Group, they also were then able to post more regionally as well for others in their own time zones, at least.
It also helps people share their events in ways that weren’t available before. Now someone visiting from California can go to the East Coast Group to see what is going on there, or anyone visiting California can check the West Coast group as well. For the most part, any event worth going to or checking out will usually be posted in the groups. The promoters have noticed that they can reach out to people in the International group and now also show whoever may be in a region what events are available. Bands and Fans can share their music and opinions also. I must admit, it’s also helped me out personally in being able to both promote, DJ and attend events as well.
● The International Goth/Industrial & Fetish Scene group on Facebook (19,000+ Members)
● The European Goth/Industrial and Fetish Scenes (5,000+ Members)
● The East Coast Goth/Industrial & Fetish Scenes (5,700+ Members)
● The Midwest Goth/Industrial & Fetish Scene (3,400+ Members)
● The West Coast Goth/Industrial and Fetish Scene (6,400+ Members)
● The Artist & Musician’s Goth/Industrial Musical Scene (5,600+ Members)
03. TRIBE4MIAN: The American, the UK and European Goth Scenes: Are there any music differences between them? Many people say that the scene is dying. Are they right or are there any new bands rejuvenating it?
JACK PHOENIX: There are some differences between the American Scene and the European scene, but these are not surprisingly, more cultural than anything else with Germany being the center of the movement over there. Goth, as it is in its classic form, started in the US back in the late 1970s. Bauhaus’s first single issued in 1979, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead“, is generally credited as the starting point of the gothic rock genre. I would say the scene is more widespread here but thinner in its exposure while it is steadier over in Europe. I don’t think the scene is dying. It’s just that people in America aren’t really exposed to the music at a younger age anymore, as the music is pretty much controlled on the radio overall by about 3 or 4 Major labels now, compared to just 20 years ago. The American scene thus naturally has gotten smaller partly because of time and partly because it has diversified out into other subgenres like punk rock, gothic metal and horror punk to name a few types. They still sell tickets to clubs when groups tour them though, but the dominance of dance music and Goths underground status has made it harder to get known. YouTube has helped bands that otherwise wouldn’t get exposure the chance to show how they perform though.
Europe is vastly more independent as far as their music is concerned, as evidenced by the differences between performing there and here in America. For instance, Cruxshadows and Christian Death would be happy to get 50-75 people in the Boston area for a show, but over in the UK or Germany they perform to stadium sized crowds. There are always new bands that will pave the way, so there is always going to be a flicker of the Gothic flame. It just takes a willing ear and a wanting heart waiting to hear that dark haunting music is all.
04. TRIBE4MIAN: Could you provide us with a glimpse of what’s going on in the clubs by way of attendance, average ages, etc.?
JACK PHOENIX: The ages of the crowds will depend on if the club will allow 18+ or 21+ only in the States. The Crowds are various ages for the most part, though I do believe it’s an older crowd here in the States. My guess would be that in Europe It’s younger since drinking ages are different, as well as music isn’t controlled as tightly by major labels as it is here in the States.
05. TRIBE4MIAN: WFKU, Ritual Noise, and your new live video feed show. Can you tell me about the “Controlled Chaos”, your kind of DJing, the music you play outside of the clubs, and how the video feed concept came to be?
JACK PHOENIX: I call my style of DJing “Controlled Chaos” because I can keep a dance floor filled with high energy while going from one genre of music to another. I love to have my crowd go wild, have fun and dance their asses off. I can go from a Goth to New Wave to Industrial to a dance song from the 90’s or 80’s (when I DJ my own nights) within the blink of an eye, and people would not stop dancing. It’s that smooth transition and reading the pulse of the crowd, vibing off their energy, giving me that high I feed off of and giving it right back to them in the music that I KNOW they are needing to hear to get their blood flowing, their hearts racing and then giving it right back to me. Once that feedback starts it’s totally ‘Controlled Chaos’ looping between me and my crowd and it’s what I love best about being a DJ. That energetic high from sharing the music I love with others who love it as much as I do.
My music that I play outside of a club can vary as well. I could be listening to Yes, Journey, Adele, Prince, Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, Sarah Brightman, Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Delirium, Enigma, or whatever else I may be in the mood to listen to at the time.
The new video broadcasting I do was suggested by my best friend (and current webpage designer, see his link below) Blaine Perry. He suggested trying something different along the lines of what his friend Michael Trixx does for his magic acts, and that was let people see him perform on the internet as well. The video broadcast runs for the first 90 minutes while the whole two hour show is also broadcast on WFKU.com, and then the last 30 minutes is exclusive to the internet radio feed (links also below). It’s very new, but it’s been a great hit so far. Sometimes I broadcast at my house, sometimes I broadcast while over at Blaine’s house. People seem to love it, and it adds a new interactive feel as well. I have been really enjoying it because I am a people DJ and seeing the chat liven up and the peoples comments on how they love the music, what memories it brings back and their own perspective of the song and the artist on the live feed is another aspect of that “Controlled Chaos” that totally energizes me!
06. TRIBE4MIAN: You’re pretty straightforward and unafraid to get to the heart of the matter. Have you encountered many brick walls that forced you to try harder to attain your desires?
JACK PHOENIX: There are people that don’t like to be called out on their actions-but if I have to do it then I do it in person. I won’t post negative stuff ever on my walls and call people out-unless you REALLY push me to even talk about doing it in the first place. I know my place in the scene, and the authority I have in it as well. I take care not to abuse my “influence” for lack of a better word. I’m here to unite the scene and help people get along NOT cause more divisions or drama. In my groups there are no biases and banning of members just because people don’t get along. I have a very simple rule: No drama. I hate it in my personal life, and won’t tolerate it in my groups either. But let’s face it, living life means we get the drama whether we want it or not regardless. It’s how we face those challenges, with honor, integrity and courage that determine how we not only look at ourselves in the mirror but how others perceive one, as well.
Can it make things harder though, if I speak my mind? I guess so, but I never know what I am saying at times that offends or bothers someone as far as my opinion. I figure if you asked for it, you are going to hear what I think because you wanted the truth not because you needed someone to tell you some sappy useless, nice things. Has this made me work harder? Oh hell yeah but I don’t regret any of the potholes or the inevitable negative BS that has happened when one has the balls ( or insanity …works both ways sometimes) to keep the faith in oneself and ones dreams. It’s made me even more determined to do what I think is right and do what I love to do and keeping my groups open to be a stronghold for the Goth genre is a part of that goal.
07. TRIBE4MIAN: Prince. How did he influence you and in what ways have you brought that into your performances. As we await the final decree on the truly heartbreaking past couple of weeks, do you have any thoughts on the painful life he hid so well from the outside world?
JACK PHOENIX: His influence has been immeasurable on me. I watched and adopted the same approach to my public and private life as Prince did in his but probably not with the same intensity. Prince is known for his hunger to create and to control. He also was known to be one of the most well-known unknown pop stars of his time. His sound was a brilliant fusion of pop, rock and R & B that produced a sound that was uniquely Prince. For instance, I am quite known through my on-line groups and my years as a DJ traveling both nationally and internationally. I realize that. But as far as my personal life, not many know what I like, do, date, and so forth. I keep things close to my vest. I won’t talk about family, friends, and personal situations in the public arena, and that includes Facebook as well. I’ve been called the most Introverted Extrovert people have ever met.
As far as my performances, I try to keep things loose, free flowing, and not have the same sound or songs all the time and yet keep the Controlled Chaos burning with the high energy I spin that is uniquely my own style. When I was DJing a gay club weekly, they would go months without hearing the same song (unless requested) after I played it, as my library is vast (Over 76,000 songs of many genres).
My thoughts of Prince hiding anything from the public, well, he always did that didn’t he? When he first started performing and up until rather recent for his career, he never really talked or did interviews. Dick Clark once said that his Interview of Prince on “American Bandstand” was the hardest interview he ever gave to anyone. I watched it too, and all Prince did was nod yes or no. No words for the most part. It’s just how he was, uniquely and ultimately Prince, himself. And that’s what I took away from having Prince be my idol, learning and accepting to be myself.
08. TRIBE4MIAN: Favorite events you’ve had the pleasure to DJ in the past?
JACK PHOENIX: I loved them all. I travel and get to meet new people, meet people I know on Facebook but have never met in real-time and see new cities instead of staying in the same area all the time. I loved Dracula’s Ball with its vampiric theme. DJing and creating an atmosphere Gothic in its intensity, with the dark romance, aura of hidden danger and the sensuality, with the “all things nocturnal” theme of the ball combining with my music sound was mind-blowing.
With my love of history and wandering, I really enjoyed checking out Philadelphia afterwards. Montreal Fetish Weekend was my first HUGE event and the crowd was totally into my music. The size of the crowd, the roaring of the music created a level of energy that had me riding high all weekend. One of my all-time favorites was the New Orleans Vampire Ball (which I did twice). It was incredible in that its dark theme synced so well with my Goth theme and its unique mix of Venetian Ball and Vampire Court made it a smash hit in my book. I also got to look around the city and check out landmarks mentioned by Anne Rice in her Vampire Lestat books and that it happened during Halloween made it even cooler. On subsequent trips, I met Dana Fairchild, who is an incredible promoter and whom I call a great friend.
09. TRIBE4MIAN: Does it really matter how people dress? Should Goths always be dressed as Goths or is it in one’s soul?
JACK PHOENIX: I don’t think it matters. I will get flack for it from some people but we are all entitled to our opinion. If you saw me on the street you would have no idea that the person you just walked past was the owner of those 6 Goth/Industrial groups I mentioned before. I dress in concert shirts of any style I feel, Blue Jeans at times or other colored pants, and so forth. It’s what you feel inside, it’s your love for the music and love for the culture. Not what you wear. Anyone can wear the clothes, but you have to really be in love with the culture to understand it and consider yourself a part of it.
This is where I hope the message and goal of my groups comes into play. I started the groups initially as a forum where people of like-mind regarding Goth then industrial and now alternative styles can meet and promote events as well as exchange ideas. Then I saw silliness on how people were not truly Goth or this or that because they didn’t dress the part or didn’t talk the lingo but how else were they going to learn? So not only did I want my groups to promote UNITY but to also provide a safe haven for those who wanted to just mix and learn at their own pace and in their own time. If we don’t get new blood then we truly start to die and I am too stubborn to let that happen.
10. TRIBE4MIAN: Any favorite books and movies?
JACK PHOENIX: There are so many. It really depends on my mood. I love Anne Rice and grew up on Stephen King. I recently read all the Harry Potter Books and because of the movies started The Lord of the Rings. I love Mick Mercer (He interviewed me) and I love reading reference and historical books on music because I am intrigued over when and where songs were sung and by whom and what has happened to these artists over time. To know the background of a song is to know its heart and the reason why it exists in the first place.
On a lighter note, I also love researching on the history of the city of Boston. I love reading about and analyzing photos and/or pictures of Boston then and now. It makes one think about all the lives and things that have gone on before and how things both change and stay the same. It certainly helps me put things in perspective.
As for movies, they run the whole gamut from Road to Perdition, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Donny Darko, any Star Wars or Star Trek Movie, The Pan Labyrinth, David Bowie’s Labyrinth, Milk, and pretty much any Disney and/or Pixar flick. I have to admit I am just a kid at heart.
11. TRIBE4MIAN: Funniest thing that happened while you were DJing.
JACK PHOENIX: In 2010 I was at the New Orleans House of Blues DJing the VIP ROOM at The Vampire Ball Halloween. Now there were bands that were performing at defined times between the DJ sets, and the headliners “Hate In The Box” had just performed their act. The bass player had stayed behind to gather the cords for the equipment while the stage hands were removing the steel barriers that were placed around the stage area. I, and the other DJ, Travis Stutsman, were set up to play our music. I didn’t want to have just dead air as everything was being put back into place, so I went through my library and found the song “Everybody Knows Your Name”, the theme to Cheers. Being from Boston, I just decided it would be great to play. Well, the patrons were standing there looking around, sort of looking confused, and obviously thinking “Hey, this is different, but cool”. The bass player stopped gathering his cords and wires, and pulled out his phone and had lit it up, then put it up in the air as if at a concert with a lighter, swaying his arm back and forth. He, and the room, then joined in and sang along to the song! It was a very cool, touching yet funny moment. A room full of Goths, Steampunk and Industrial lovers in New Orleans all singing along to a soft pop TV show song that symbolizes BOSTON! Totally one of my favorite memories.
12. TRIBE4MIAN: Is the Internet helping the music lovers more than the old ways or is it confusing and tiring because of the amount of information that it provides?
JACK PHOENIX: I think the internet has turned into the most powerful tool ANYONE can use to look up almost anything and this certainly applies to music as well. The trick is having the patience to sift through all the sites that are available to the average person and figure out which one is the easiest or most convenient to find information on. I use sites from Billboard lists, to Rolling Stones Magazine, The Library of Congress, and university libraries all the time to look up bands I have never heard of before, or find out what are considered an artist’s most critical/influential albums if I am just delving into them as well as looking up significant events in a band or artist history. I love using allmusic.com as one of my critical sites for gathering information.
13. TRIBE4MIAN: You’re up and down the East Coast and have gone as far away as Canada and Bermuda to DJ events. Upcoming events? Any European plans for the near future maybe?
JACK PHOENIX: I have been able to DJ some wonderful events around the country such as Montreal Fetish Weekend in 2009, Dracula’s Ball in Philadelphia in 2011 and 2013 as well as Bats Day, which is a Goth-related Disney event in Anaheim, CA. Word moves about quickly between people amongst the groups so I m definitely hoping to get some international gigs in Europe though my next three events are going to be kind of local for me:
June 3, 2016 – The Steam & Silk Summer Gala – Manchester, CT
June 4, 2016 – Dreaming of a Spark? Steampunking in the Park (Ade) 2 in Manchester CT
June 18, 2016 – Redemption featuring Failure 2 Comply & Xentrifuge
I am always looking for new people to connect with, new places to explore but most of all always looking to find new events that features the kind of Controlled Chaos that brings me the High when I am interacting with a slam on, party till you drop kick-ass crowd!
►BONUS QUESTION – TRIBE4MIAN: Anything you’d like to add?
JACK PHOENIX: Please, feel free again to check my new WEBPAGE for my upcoming events and accolades through the years (for which I am working on the page).
I love Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I thought that he was awesome to acknowledge that he didn’t make it by himself, he had influences, and he had help to get where he was when famous. These are some of the fine folks in the scene that have helped me:
● MICK MERCER – For your support through the years, for thinking enough of me to INTERVIEW me, and just overall for your wonderful friendship. And for being our scene’s living legend and its historian.
● BLAINE PERRY – For his guidance and his help through the years – as well as designing my new website! Feel free to check out his work HERE.
● WHISKEY of WFKU.com – I’ve been doing an online radio show with him for so many years I forget now. Feel free to catch not just myself, but other great DJs that broadcast there, for all things Goth/Industrial!
● VICTOR ESCAJADILLO (D.j. Kuro) – For his friendship and his wonderful night that I have had the pleasure of DJing many times in the Boston area: THE ATTIC
● DJ PET (JAMES DATTOLO) – For his work in the New England Goth scene by not only having his night in New Hampshire that I have DJ’d a few times, RESURRECTION, but also his work in the scene by making sure any Goth event that happens has awesome sound and lighting through his hard work via his company, A CURIOUS PRODUCTION, LLC, which he has been hard at work at since 2007.
● JULIE SIERRA-MONTES – For her wonderful guidance and her editorial skills, as well.
● TONY LEE (DJ ARCANUS) – For always being supportive and believing in me. He’s an incredible DJ. If he is in your area, do check out his sets!
● CHRIS EWEN (as mentioned above) – For his musical introduction to the scene and his belief in me, as well as over a decade of friendship.
● DARRYL MONTGOMERY-HELL – For being the music scene “Brother” I have grown to admire and love, and always learning from.
● DANA FAIRCHILD and GINGER CHRISTIANSEN of WICKED WONDERLAND EMPIRE – For partnering with me through the years, allowing myself to be blessed by working with them, and for all the work they do to help the Goth Scene flourish, as well.
● And last, but not least, to all of those who help moderate the 6 groups I own, helping to make sure we have a place where all of you, the people who DO make up the scene, have a place to find out, post, and share amongst each other. IF not for all of you in the groups keeping the scene strong, we wouldn’t be as united as we are today. Thank you, everyone…
Thank you for a great interview, Jack! It was certainly a wonderful AND informative time spent with you and we wish you the greatest of continued success!
Attrition return with a new album titled “The Unraveller Of Angels” (read HERE for more)
and are back on the road. We had the pleasure of asking Martin Bowes a few questions about
the album, the past and future plans.
1980 – 2013. You have been active for 33 years. From post punk to the internet era. How much did the changes affect the music world Attrition?
I get asked this a lot these days!… and i always say the same…of course…on the surface a lot has changed… technology in particular has totally changed things… the way we work… from writing to recording to production and mastering…and even cover designs… its all much more possible and affordable….and then how we promote and distribute our work that’s all changed too with the internet…. i really can’t imagine now how i used to organise tours in europe in the 80’s… writing letters to booking agents and saving up to call them from a phone box!….
so that’s all changed and is mostly positive… but… whats stayed the same are the skills you need and the amount of work you need to put in… and having the software does not mean you have the ability or time or energy to do everything… its no good making it all yourself if you don’t really know how to do it… well it is..we can do whatever the hell we want to….but maybe its not something anyone else wants to hear… and throwing a song out on iTunes and getting 13 likes on facebook does not make a promotional campaign… in those ways nothing has changed….
I came into contact with Tylean a few years ago through a mutual friend… and liked what she did… so i asked her if she’d like to perform in the live line up…and we did the UK and WGT in Leipzig and a Canadian tour… then had a little break…and i was bringing in guests for the “Unraveller of Angels” and she joined me again on vocals…. and i am very glad she did…she did an amazing job !
Guessing that you spend a lot of hours in The Cage Studios and apart from working on your own albums, what excites you the most when producing other artists’ music? How many albums have you produced so far?
Oh god i cant remember how many album’s i’ve produced so far… a good many… and a lot of remixes and mastering too… keeps things varied… i love working on other artists music..especially when i get free reign on the musical ideas…or at least a fair amount of freedom… which doesn’t happen all the time… and i learn from them too… which is how it should be… i used to teach music technology part of the time but now that’s rare and the studio is my full time thing… my “proper job” if you like…(even though i never wanted one!…)
i recently put out a free downloadable compilation of my work in my studio…to celebrate the first 20 years…. if you would like to listen to it…click HERE
What is the story behind “The Unraveller of Angels”? What inspired you and how long did it take to finish it?
I took about 4 years over “the Unraveller…” which was quite some time… after all the albums i made i decided i wasn’t going to rush this one… and i didn’t…although i was also distracted by my other studio work…and spent a while writing our first full length film score last year too…”Invocation“… i think that slow growth helped “the Unraveller…”…i had time to take the ideas further than i had done on previous albums…
Like all the albums i’ve made they are inspired by my life and my experience of everything around me… social, political, emotional… they are very often like audio photo albums of the times they were made when i look back at them… “The Unraveller of Angels” refers to that search for beauty and love and purity and the attempt to set it free from that binds it… something i think we all do…
You also do soundtracks for movies. How did this come up? Is it because you like watching movies in general? If so, which are your favorite ones?
I’d done some short film scores before and had my music used in a lot of independent films…but the first full length film score was last years “Invocation”…i wrote with my wife Kerri… it was a challenge… quite scary to start with an 85 minute long blank canvas to fill…. but we did it… and i am very proud of it…. it was released on CD last November through Russian label Infinite Fog…
I do like films…its often a welcome change to music all day to watch a film… and i love horror films… well ones that challenge me… and Zombie films i cant get enough of….and surreal and dark TV series and movies… the original Prisoner series from the 60’s is incredible…and David Lynch is one of my favourite directors… and comedy… i started on Monty Python when i was a kid..staying up late to watch the series with my dad in the 70’s…. not a bad start to life…
Attrition played in most of the countries of the western world. How different is the feeling of recording in the studio and playing live in front of an audience? Which gig of yours will stay with you for the rest of your life?
I love recording as much as performing live…they are totally different experiences…one is more internal and intellectual… one is the taking what you have found and created out to the world… for all the good and bad in that…. its hard work on the road…but the rewards are so worth it…the experience…the people…the places… most of my best friends i have met on tour…
i remember most of the shows…. i have a good memory like that… and there’s a thousand stories to tell… i wont name any one in particular…they all mean a lot in different ways…
Which artists influenced you?
so many…. musically it started with Bowie and the Velvets and Roxy Music… then punk came along and that really changed my life…. Pistols and Clash and Crass and Wire and TV Smith… so many… then post punk ..PIL and Magazine and i don’t even need to mention Joy Division do i….and then the electronics… Kraftwerk…early Human League… Cabaret Voltaire… and then i looked back at classical music and early Dylan and rock n roll…. Cash to Presley to Holly… oh thats enough of a shopping list
You have a number of great guest musicians on “The Unraveller of Angels”. What made you chose them? (Some ask for the help of friends, some just go directly to the ones that would play the right thing for an album…some other times you just listen to someone playing and you want to work with him…)
Well as i worked on songs i would be talking to friends…and a lot of my friends are musicians…so it just came about…i’d ask them to try something…it didn’t work with everyone… i am really pleased to have Mona Mur on guest vocals on the “Karma Mechanic” and Anni Hogan on piano on some songs (she’s worked with Marc Almond and Nick Cave in the past)…and Matt Howden on violin… and Erica Unwoman on cello…and Jyri and Joanna on violins and Ian Arkley from the amazing doom metal band My Silent Wake on guitar… i was lucky to have them involved,…they added so much to my musical ramblings…
What is next for Attrition? I know you’re currently working with filmmakers on a documentary and music videos to accompany “The Unraveller of Angels”, and you plan on touring Europe, North and South America, and New Zealand…
Always something coming…. there is a documentary being made with french film maker Daniel Gouyette… it will take a year or so to complete…there are interviews with other bands and labels to include in it……it will be worth it!…. and he is also completed 4 music videos we did the filming for… more short films…we plan a special DVD release for these…
and then here i am working on the first release for a side project..Engram… and various Attrition rarities…including the recording of our first ever show in decemeber 1980… totally unreleased songs… i think its about time they see the light of day in all their rawness…
Live we started touring for the “unraveller..” in Greece/UK and Canada so far this year and plan the USA/Germany/Chile/Brazil and other European shows soonish… then there’s new material i have only just started on….
Its busier than ever here… and its a damn fine way to be
Thank you for the interview Tribe4mian
here is the link to listen to “The Unraveller of Angels“
Martin Bowes. Coventry. England. 2013
Thank you very much for this interview Martin…
Englishman Shaun Histed-Todd is a Photographer and Digital illustrator, and I am sure you will find his work very interesting. He not only works on books but he also does CD artwork due to his strong bonds with music, as you will find out.
Tribe4mian: The first time I was looking at your work, I found “Fetch” and “The Explorer” stunning. Where are these images from and are you strictly a digital illustrator or do you also work with brushes too?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Thank you, “Fetch” and “The Explore” are two of my favorites and certainly seem to be the most popular. Most of the time with my illustrations, I will have an initial concept of an idea and the image will just develop in my mind so it’s just a case of bringing it out. Other times something will develop from a doodle. I use a program called ZBrush which allows me to model and sculpt characters out of digital clay. Once I have my character I move over to Photoshop to develop the background.
95% of my work these days is all created digitally as I really like the added depth and realism that can be achieve with it. One of my main regrets was letting my traditional skills sit to the side to long, when I took up digital art I thought my drawing skills was like riding a bike, once you know how to do it you will always be able to do it, unfortunately this wasn’t the case and I now find it a struggle to get the feel with pen and pencil. I say to myself I will pick up the brush and paints again one day, it’s just a case of re-practicing. I do still doodle and sketch in pencil, so it hasn’t completely gone.
Tribe4mian: I feel like your images are alive most of the time. Is there a hidden love for photography? Is there some special technique you use and do you have some special knowledge?
Shaun Histed-Todd: I’ve always had an interest in photography from my school days but had to wait till I was out and earning my own living before I got my first SLR camera from there it was a self learning curve, apart from a few night school courses in photography I’m self taught this is also the case with my artwork. I can’t say I have a special technique or special knowledge. Though having said that my stage photography, has took me awhile to get a technique that worked and I’m always learning and tweaking my knowledge there. I just like to capture the moment which is what photography is all about really, catching that momentary expression in a face or performance.
Tribe4mian: How did you get started? There is a lot of sci-fi, psychedelic colours, and gothic atmosphere in your work. What and who is influencing you?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Well I’ve been drawing since a child as a pastime and as I stated above got into photography in my late teens again as a hobbyist. I’ve always looked for a different perspective in my art and photography, growing up in the post-punk scene always gave great character references, the weird and strange has always fascinated me. It’s been a long road to turn it into a profession, I’ve never had the business skills to sell myself well, but over time I’ve learnt from friends in business and hardened up a bit on my tactics and confidence.
I guess it’s fair to say that that I get inspiration and influence from a lot of literature that I read, the Unexplained – Lost and Ancient Civilizations – Magick / Shamanism – Quantum Theory – writers like Hunter S. Thomson and William Boroughs, Clive Barker probably had an influence on me at some point and Sci-Fi, though most of what I read these days is Non-Fiction.
A piece of music can throw an array of images in my head or even a song.
I get asked what artists or photographers I aspire to be influenced by, but can honestly say I don’t have a particular favorite, I see some great artwork by other artists and photographers and I can say I aim at achieving the same quality but not their style. To me that allows, me to create my own style and hope they show something original.
Tribe4mian: You are also doing the artwork for CD albums and posters for gigs. Which albums have you done so far ?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Well this is a small area in my field of work and its one area I am always aiming to expand more into, as it combines my two passions Music and Art. Most recent CD was for a band called NightPorter from Newcastle in the UK and of course the NZG charity single. Prior to that I’ve produced artwork or photography for Sanguine (UK) Killing Miranda (UK) Sensorium (former members of Nephelim) and small local bands over the years. I used to produce a lot of art for Rave Clubs in the 90’s
Tribe4mian: Are musicians too demanding when it comes to your work or you’re free to do whatever you want? What about the rest of your clients?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Generally my experience with musicians has been positive, and I’m normally left to my own creativity. I always ask for a brief of what the client wants, so I have a fundamental angle on what’s being asked for, but after that they are happy for me to create freely. Other Clients I get work from are in the Corporate field (NHS or Retail organization), magazine and book publishers, one book that has just recently been published is Dead of Night by Lee Walker and I’ve just completed 18 images for an anthology book of cryptozoological horror stories for a writer by the name of Richard Freeman. I’ve done concept work for independent film directors.
Tribe4mian: What is your connection to Nosferatu, how did it start and what is your experience from traveling with bands?
Shaun Histed-Todd: My connection with Nosferatu, this is going back some years now, 20+ yrs to be more accurate. I was a roadie for them for a few European and UK tours and some memorable times. It started when I spotted an ad by them looking for a new singer and I was good friends with Niall Murphy, a talented singer and songwriter who was looking for a band to perform with. So I suggested he should apply for the role. He was a little reluctant at first I think that artistic confidence lacking we all seem to fall foul of at times. Anyway with a bit of pushing he eventually went for it, I knew he would be right for the job, he had a good voice on the Pete Murphy/Bowie side and a vibrant performer given the opportunity, and so the band clearly agreed as they got straight back to him and got him on board. As a way of thanks Niall, got me on the first tour as a roadie and that’s what I was till the original line up split.
I’m still good friends with Damian and occasionally chat with Niall, I haven’t seen or heard from Nigel for about 9 yrs, but would really like and hope to catch up again.
My experience in that time was brilliant, loved every moment of being on the road. I’m a very Sociable person so being out in a different country meeting new people and musicians seeing so many bands that where unheard of in the UK. It was also the inspiration that set me off on the path of stage photography. Would I do it again given the opportunity, definitely for the right band and commitments permitting. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity and to being in good company.
Tribe4mian: What is your all-time top 5? Which albums are landmarks in your life? For which artists would you like to create art work?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Landmark albums! Hmm let me think…Well I would say
Which artist would I like to do artwork for! I would be happy to do artwork for any artist, but I would have to say I would be honored to do something for my all time favorites Killing Joke.
Tribe4mian: You also host an internet radio show. Where can we listen to this show of yours and what can people expect? Your work doesn’t feel like you’re “The Carpenters” fan… Which bands influenced you?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Yes I started this by chance or accident after connecting up with Jet, who was DJ’ing on wicked spins radio. She made the suggestion to go for a slot, I was a bit “ Ah I don’t, never thought about doing Dj’in let along hosting a radio show…” my music tastes are quite varied and some very experimental, so wasn’t too sure if people would be up for what I would want to play.
But never one to turn away an opportunity and try my hand at something new I agreed, made contact with WSR and started The Snuff Monkey Show, in Jan 2011. However it appears there are lot of people out there who do have similar mixed tastes and have been looking for a show like mine.
Initially I kept it pretty much to playing artists I knew people where familiar with old goth / punk alt rock classics, but only the ones I felt that pioneered their own sound and styles. I’ve continued the path but now will play any artist that will step out from the crowd and do their own thing. To me that’s what music is all about, defining your own signature sound no matter what genre they come from. Bands like Psychic TV – Cardiacs – Fun–Da-Mental – Bauhaus – Sicknote – Moira Scar – Dead Skeletons, I’ll venture into the realms of Dub or Psych rock a bit of Rap, but with most of the artists I play you will notice that no other band sounds like them. For this reason I term my show Genreless, and people can tune in to the show every Sunday 6 PM (UK) at www.wickedspinsradio.org
Tribe4mian: What about Wicked Spins Radio? What is so special about this radio station?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Now if becoming an online Radio Host was a new step in direction for me, then becoming a co owner of WSR along with my wife Karen AKA Mrs Monkey and Jet Away who initially got me started on this. Well that was something I don’t think either of us expected. But in Oct 2011, the former owners Kirsty and Chris, offered us the station as they could no longer dedicate the time to it with busy lifestyles.
So this is another new chapter in my life, and again one I’m proud to be part of and very grateful for the opportunity.
WSR has been set up and running as a Rock Metal station for the past 4-5 years with a lot of success, we aim to keep this tradition but we want to bring other elements of music into it, real music for real people shall I say as long as it’ not mainstream. Alt rock – EBM – Dubstep – 70 – 80’s -90’s Nostalgia – Psych / Space rock – Dub and Ska.
We have a list of great shows already and more starting from January 2012.
Tribe4mian: You are attending gigs all the time. Can you name your top 3?
First that comes to mind was Dead Can Dance, 6 years ago at The Forum in London, I’d waited a long time to catch them live and I certainly wasn’t disappointed, the who show was captivating and hearing Lisa Gerrad’s voice was sublime to hear live.
Killing Joke on their 1st re-formation of their original line up ( Yes of course KJ had to be in the top 3) even though I’ve not walked away from Joke gig without feeling well rewarded, I have to say I felt this show in particular topped them all for me, they kicked out the tunes with such fever, I danced through the whole set, which I hadn’t done for a band in many years.
My 3rd choice I think I will have to say would be my first Cardiacs gig right back in the summer of 89, I didn’t know much about them at the time, and had only heard some tracks played by a very good friend Johnny, who was the one said we had to go and see them. I’m am so glad we did because it opened me up to a whole new spectrum of what music and performance can and is about.
I will always remember thinking during their set, “Are these people on day release from an institution” because their performance was just so manically insane bursting with pure energy, tight perfect and genius songwriting. That one show has had me hooked on them ever since, and every other show I attended of theirs was equally on par. But that first exposure to them was the Key.
But see I want to also add The Mathew Ashman Celebration last year, with Cheifs of Relief – Agent Provocateur – Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant, as to get to see all these bands on the same bill was one of chance. Adam, played a full punk set and was joined on stage by Will Crewdson and David Ryder Prangley of Rachel Stamp and Boz Boorer and were perfect for the night. To me it felt as close to seeing what the original Antz would have been like.
Tribe4mian: Do you believe art is a medicine for one’s soul? Do you believe each one of us has a special talent that we have to discover or is it just some people that have something special? Are the artists the shamans of this world ?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Yes I think art is a strong remedy for the soul, if I ever feel low or a bit down, which is rare for me really, but if I do, sitting down and getting creative certainly helps me to clear any negative thoughts. I do believe we all have some hidden talent in us, the subconscious seems to be geared up to be creative and it just a case of sitting down and allowing your consciousness to communicate with the inner companion.
Not sure how to answer about if artists are the shamans of the world!! Shamans are artists of the Psych, with the ability to go into other plains of reality and higher consciousness with their techniques. I suppose it could be said that an artist does the same, if they are a musician a melody can take the player and listener on to similar realms, and I’m sure playing live can bring about an altered state of consciousness as so with a visual artist. The Visual artist launches themselves into their minds to see new alternative worlds for which we paint so in theory we are all psychonaughts.
Tribe4mian: Compared to the music scene of past decades, what do you think of the music scene of today?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Different…!! The scenes that I grew up with (Punk/Post Punk/Goth) were very artistic and experimental, it was fresh and people would go out of their way to look different and if you where in a band you wanted to sound different as well. There are bands in the UK that still continue this trend like Sicknote – Cold in Berlin – The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – The Shanklin Freakshow – The Unkindness of Ravens –Ulterior –just to name a few. Who have created their own individual sound and scene, as long as there is an underground music there will always be fresh sounds. So currently it’s looking healthy, and hopefully will continue to produce more original and creative artists.
Tribe4mian: One day I was writing about Michael Moorcock and I came up with the idea that sci-fi literature blossomed during WW2 as the writers found fantasy to be a hideout from harsh reality. What would you prefer: Fantasy or reality and why? Can we make this world a better place?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Well that all depends upon a person’s perspective of what is reality!! In a Quantum sense our waking reality is just an illusion the mind generates out of the chaos of energy and our fantasies and dreams are the true reality. But we could go down a rabbit hole with that one.
Personally I like to keep myself in both, that way at least I’m in touch with one real world, whichever way it really is… LoL
Can we make the world a better place! Yes I believe we can, I like to think that keeping positive thoughts about everything can and will bring positive change especially on a mass level. The problem I see is that our society is geared up to accept and think negatively, by being told by our media outlets all the bad things that are going on in the world and our neighborhoods. So we need to break free from this negative thinking and start looking for the positive. Because wherever there is a negative there is always a positive, the ying and yang. I hope that makes sense, it does in my mind anyway.
Tribe4mian: Thank you very much for this interview Shaun.
Shaun Histed-Todd: It’s been a pleasure! Thank you for asking me.
More information about Shaun Histed-Todd can be found here.
It’s been awhile since I last wrote about Hardboiled Wonderland, the side project of Martin Birke and Percy Howard. A couple of months ago they released their debut album, “As Small as the World”, and I became curious and decided to ask them a few questions…
Tribe4mian: How did you two meet and how was the idea for Hardboiled Wonderland conceived? Does this mean that Genre Peak and Meridiem are bands from a past chapter in time?
M. Birke: Percy and i knew each other from our separate bands in the 90’s, I with Sandbox Trio , Percy with NUS. Percy contacted me in 2009 and initially started recording using preexisting material, it wasn’t sounding good, so we started over will all new tracks I wrote,performed and arranged. Genre Peak is continuing with “Redux” a compilation with 2 new tracks featuring Percy. It’ll be out thru Gonzo Multi Media UK in Spring 2012. I’m not sure of Percy’s plans with Meridiem.
Tribe4mian: What was your introduction into music and what kind of music were you playing back then?
M. Birke: I was very influenced by bands like Japan, Peter Gabriel, Ultravox back in the 80’s
Tribe4mian: Since the list is long and I might forget someone, can you please name the artists you have worked with as individuals? How did these co-operations influence you in “As Small as the World”?
M. Birke: Percy had brought in Edo Castro on bass , essence on back u vocals for a couple tracks and Chris (our co-producer) brought violinist Benito Cortez . The late great Mick Karn also did a remix for our track “Candy for the Meatman“, which is a free download on our HW site.
Tribe4mian: “Hardboiled Wonderland” is a novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. What made you use this name. What does it means to you? Which are your favourite writers/books?
M. Birke: ‘Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of The World’ is Murakami’s book, Both of us love his books, I myself read Bukowski, JG Ballard, Capote,Sephen King, Michael Critchon, and many many others.
Tribe4mian: How do you see the world today? Do you believe people are isolated or this financial crisis bringing them closer?
M. Birke: I see the world in constant chaos, systems of government collapsing, religion hurting people (as always) and too many good artists not getting the recognition they deserve. Something needs to happen to unite people , its seems there is no sense of humility or responsibility . I’m glad people here are protesting our greedy banks and corporations, lets hope something good will happen.
Tribe4mian: Although I would expect the album to have a heavy experimental feel, there is a touch of “pop culture” sound-wise, and I spotted that Percy likes Anthony and The Johnsons. So, how wide are your musical horizons? What sort of music do you prefer to hear on a daily basis?
M. Birke: I love experimental music , I’ve been buying the works of Alva Noto, Steve Jansen, Einstuerzende Neubauten,Bjork…a long list
Tribe4mian: How would you describe your lyrics?
M. Birke: My lyrics are always about inner quest,loss and introspection, I know Percy likes EE. Cummings and many others.
Tribe4mian: I saw that you’ll be playing electronic percussion with ‘Know Hassell Project’ at Luna’s on November 21 and again at the Java Lounge on November 26th in Sacramento. Does Percy have any upcoming gigs, too? Have you scheduled any live performances as Hardboiled Wonderland?
M. Birke: No , our hometown is really an ideal place for us to play but we’ve considered doing small club shows this Spring…we’ll see.
Tribe4mian: Please define the words “Love” and “Music”. How small is the world?
M. Birke: Love: a way to solve most problems and unite people. Music; very hard work that usually leaves me proud of the work itself but promotion is kinda daunting , I do what I can.
M. Birke: Hard to say, we have new PR co working the album, its VERY good music and we hope to get some more attention. I believe we will eventually try recording another album but its too soon at the moment.
Tribe4mian: Since your album was released through Gonzo MultiMedia UK, is Europe in your plans, whether together or with other projects? Have you visited Europe as musicians?
M. Birke:: Yes , me and Percy have toured Europe we have more connections there than here, If I had the money I would move over seas in a heartbeat !
Tribe4mian: Are you concerned about ecological problems?
M. Birke: Not really, I have a lot of health issues that keep me busy, the Earth will always take care of itself.
Tribe4mian: If you could meet a historical personality, have a chat, and get on a photo with him/her, whose photo would be hanging on the wall next to your photos?
M. Birke: I have to say….Van Gogh. Such a tragic figure who’s art was never appreciated in his own time and I understand, madness,betrayal, frustration and mental illness all too well.
In closing I encourage all the readers of this to visit our website: www.hardboiledwonderland.net
Tribe4mian: Thank you very much for this interview Martin.
Is it difficult to be a record label owner, the singer and keyboard player for Berlin Black, all while being the bass player for Luxury Stranger? I didn’t have the chance to listen to the band Screaming Banshee Aircrew but, thanks to a common friend, today I had the opportunity to ask the man himself… Mr. Chris Tuke.
Tribe4mian: Is it my imagination, or has the gothic scene in England become much more active during the past few years? Since you also play in other countries, what is your impression of the goth scene elsewhere? Is it a healthy revival or just a glimpse?
Chris: I think there is a definite resurgence in the UK with regards to “Darker” bands. I think the introduction of several main stream bands taking a gothic edge has probably helped a lot. Bands like O Children, The Horrors and ROMANCE for example.
In regard to abroad the Gothic scene seems to be very healthy. Well attended gigs and very passionate fans. I wish we could tour abroad more often as the vibe I’ve got from previous visits has been very positive.
Chris: Its actually ten years since SBA did our first ever gig in the back room of a local pub (16/11/11) it was also Christopher Sherrington’s first ever gig too (who is now the organsier of one of the UKs best alternative festival DV8 fest in York)
SBA enjoyed all the highs and lows of any hard working rock n roll band. When we started I think we were lucky that there seemed to be a gap in the market for our kind of band. People either loved us or hated us. There seemed to be no middle ground.
We landed a 3 album record deal with Resurrection Records. We’ve had several line-up changes which saw us go from a 4 piece to a 6 piece fully live band (I’d recommend checking out MR Hyde Live at Whitby goth Weekend on Youtube) then down to a minimal 4 piece with a much darker starker sound.
Our three albums are Fishnet Messiah, When All is Said and Done and our final (and the best IMO) Sugar
Tribe4mian: How did you come up with the decision to make Trash Vogue Records? What difficulties can arise for an independent record label nowadays?
Chris: After SBA I wanted to do things my own way. Its always something I’d wanted to do so I thought I’d try it, with Berlin Black as my first signing. I wanted the label to be more of a collective of like minded bands and people. Myself and Ed (my brother, now front man of Partly Faithful, ex SBA singer) had half talked/joked about the later SBA sound being “Trash Vogue” So I thought it would be a good name for the company.
The difficulties at the moment is getting distrobution in shops. Companies are scared to take a risk with independent businesses due to the ressession and the current state of the music industry.
Luckily we can make up for this by having a strong presence on the internet. It’s a slow process but we are securing a loyal customer base who love the bands we represent.
Tribe4mian: Were you playing with any other bands before the Screaming Banshee Aircrew? Are the artists that influenced this band the same as the ones that influence Berlin Black? Is there any connection between Berlin Black and The March Violets?
Chris: Before SBA I was just in covers bands with friends. SBA was really an education in both recording and performing live.
I think a lot of the bands that infuenced SBA definitely still have an inpact on Berlin Black’s music.
Bauhaus, Bowie, Iggy, The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs all play a part in how Berlin Black sound.
The connection with the Violets is rather interesting. The March Violets were a huge influence for myself and my brother in the SBA years. We supported them on their first reunion tour back in 2007 which was great.
Since SBA split Jo Violet (SBA singer / violinist / bassit + Berlin Black bassist) now plays Bass for the March Violets. I’ve also had the pleasure of supporting them playing with Luxury Stranger.
Tribe4mian: Which format do you prefer to collect and which to issue releases through Trash Vogue Records: Vinyl, CDs or MP3s, and why?
Chris: I think CDs are still the main medium people want to buy music on. The shift to MP3 and other online formats are great from a business point of view as the costs are lower to put them out there.
I’d love to put our stuff out on Vinyl but at the moment the cost is too expensive. Watch this space though any record junkies. There are plans to release some future products on 7”
Tribe4mian: Which gig of yours is the one that you will never forget and why?
Chris: There are too many. Some because they were amazing crowds. Others because of the people I have met. It would be rude to single out one over another.
Tribe4mian: How did you meet Simon York and what is your part in Luxury Stranger?
Chris: Luxury Stranger were a band SBA really liked while we were writing our last Album “Sugar”. We played with them several times towards the end of SBA’s life and we all got on really well. When Chris and Paul decided to leave LS Simon asked me if I was interested to join. The rest is history.
Chris: Berlin Black currently have 2 CD releases –
Burn It Down – Our original E.P
The Only Ones – the single we released in the summer of 2011
You can buy these along with T-shirts badges, patches etc from Trash Vogue Records
We are looking to release a new E.P in the first quarter of next year and possibly a single but it hasn’t been finalized just yet.
Tribe4mian: Which song would you choose to listen to in the morning to get you in a good mood?
Chris: Anything by INXS usually hits the spot. Or something like “ U got the Look” by Prince and the Revolution
Also been listening to a lot of Oingo Boingo lately.
Tribe4mian: What are your future plans for Berlin Black? I won’t ask for Luxury Stranger; I will try to keep this question for Simon…
Chris: Next year we are planning to step things up a level. More gigs and more media exposure. Expect some videos and new material.
Tribe4mian: What are your next plans for Trash Vogue Records?
Chris: I’m looking to expand our client base and I’m also looking into starting something reminisant to the “peel session” idea.
Inviting bands to play in a studio/venue and videoing and recording the perfomance. I think it’s a concept that could work really well.
Tribe4mian: Can you describe the on-stage differences between being the singer and being the bass player?
Chris: Being a singer I want everyone to look at me. Being the bass player I want everyone to look at me………oh you want differences 😉
The main difference I guess is that as the singer you are aware that you are kinda like the band leader on stage. You’ve got to keep people interested and engaged.
As bassist in Ls Im one part of a three piece. As the dynamics of the band are a little different to BB. Because there are only three of us we need to do our equal part to engage the audience but make sure the music is still strong.
Berlin Black gives me the opportunity as singer to “perform” more. Because I know the other guys are concentrating on the music I can concentrate on the theatrics of the show.
Either role I’m told I do a lot of pouting
Tribe4mian: Do you find music to be a way out? Would you encourage young people to play music, or, does it get to be too much sometimes?
Chris: Definitely. I don’t know where I would be if I wasn’t interested in music. Even if you just listen to it.
Its helped me through lots of things.
It’s a great way of expressing yourself.
Thank you very much for this interview, Chris. I wish you every success with your bands and with the record label!
Band members: Chris Tuke, Alexander King, Thomas McLean, Joanna Moy
Will Crewdson is a London-based guitarist/writer/producer. Scant Regard is his brainchild, and he occasionally is the guitarist for Rachel Stamp, Adam Ant, and Johnette Napolitano, amongst others.
tribe4mian: Will, with Scant Regard you strive to fuse raw electronic beats and moods with the smooth, soaring sounds of Morricone’s biting guitar –scapes. How did you come up with this idea? Would you consider Morricone your main influence?
WILL CREWDSON: The sound was developed pretty organically. I always thought the sound of twangy, surfy guitars mixed with electronica worked well when I used the idea on other people’s tracks so I decided to maximise it and incorporate it into my own recordings.
I see Morricone as a good reference point more than a major influence. There are many moods on the album that echo the atmosphere of the classic Spaghetti Western soundtracks and since he was the ultimate composer in that genre it follows that he should get a reference. A large part of the sound is pure electronica though which obviously adds a different flavour.
tribe4mian: At one point, Rachel Stamp became the only unsigned band to sell out the London Astoria. What happened to Rachel Stamp? They had several record deals, the biggest of which was with WEA. How many releases did you have with this band?
WILL CREWDSON: Rachel Stamp suffered from bad management and useless record company input – the usual story. We had a great live following and were really proud of everything we achieved on an independent level. We were actually more successful once we’d been released from our deal with Warners, which says a lot.
We released two studio albums, ‘Hymns for Strange Children’ and ‘Oceans of Venus’. Our debut album was never released although we recorded it for Warners. We also had one live album, ‘Stampax’ and a load of singles.
tribe4mian: You also played gigs with, among others, Iggy Pop, Korn, No Doubt, The Tubes, and Cheap Trick. How did you feel the first time you opened for a rock star? Were you nervous, or were you thinking, “my big time is coming”?
WILL CREWDSON: Well there’s loads of times early in your musical career where you think – this is it. Signing a deal, your first headline gig, etc., and we were really thrilled to have opened for all of those bands. It’s often the case that you are breaking through to a bigger audience as we were on several occasions, but without the managerial know-how and, sometimes, money behind it to capitalise on those moments. It’s hard to keep momentum up and really take the whole thing to the next level.
tribe4mian: Scant Regard’s first release, “The Excommunication EP” is already out featuring guest vocals by Grog from “Die So Fluid“. How did this collaboration come about and what was the result?
WILL CREWDSON: Grog and I have known each other for years. Her band, “Die So Fluid”, used to play the odd gig with Rachel Stamp and I’ve also done session work with her. Originally I wanted vocals on the Scant Regard tracks and, as we got on so well and seemed to understand each other musically, we agreed to try out a collaboration. The three tracks came out really well.
We also both work with Director Tom DiCillo – the man behind “Johnny Suede, Living In Oblivion” and the recent Doors documentary “When You’re Strange”. He has a studio project called The Black and Blue Orkestre which we’re both involved with. Those tracks should be coming out really soon.
WILL CREWDSON: I had numerous bands before Rachel Stamp, all with unmentionably bad names! I also did the odd session thing. The first one I got was with Malcolm McLaren at Air Studios in London. That was the title track for the extremely ill-fated “Carry On Columbus” film and was a pretty scary experience. I don’t think he looked me in the eye once. He just shouted “give it some bollocks my son!” whilst conducting an imaginary orchestra. Surreal.
tribe4mian: What are some of the notable differences for you between being on stage alone and playing with a band? Do you sometimes miss the “group” feeling with Scant Regard?
WILL CREWDSON: I guess you can’t beat the feeling of a full-on band slamming it out on stage and I do love that. When I do it alone it’s entirely different. I have to become a front man but I’m not singing so it’s a strange position to be in. I like strange positions though. I’m still working on my stage “patter” but I think it’s getting there. I get something out of every gig, though, whether it’s solo or band. It’s the main reason I do music really for that instant reaction from an audience.
tribe4mian: I don’t know Adam Ant personally, so I’d like to ask: Is he an easy person to work with? Are you still touring with him?
WILL CREWDSON: Adam is a great guy. He was and will always be one of my favourite all-round performers. Adam and the Ants were the first band I ever saw live and I grew up with his back catalogue etched into my brain so it was very natural for me to play all those great songs. His mental problems are well documented but at the end of the day they make him what he is as an artist and the end result was always a killer show. This year I’ve been working more in the States with Livan doing several tours but I’m still up for working with Adam if I’m around and he needs a guitarist. I did a one-off charity gig with him recently for Sea Shepherd, the anti-whaling guys, which went extremely well. We did a load of covers on the HMS Belfast.
tribe4mian: Would you like to name your gear and which guitar and sound effect do you like using most?
WILL CREWDSON: My main guitar is an 80’s Rickenbacker 250 El Dorado, which is definitely the most versatile and reliable of any guitar I’ve had. I’ve also got a 60’s Teisco Spectrum Del Rey, which I use for most of the Scant Regard stuff as it’s got that Duane Eddy twang right down and it looks like it’s made of LEGO, which is a plus in my book. I have a custom pink Gordon Smith GT-60 and a DeArmond Starfire semi-acoustic as well as a 72 Reissue Telecaster Deluxe. The Teisco is my favourite because it just looks like it’s out of The Jetsons and it sounds amazing.
The pedals I’m using at the moment are a Fulltone OCD Overdrive, Providence Anadime Chorus, a George Dennis Wah/Vol, MXR phaser, Seymour Duncan Shape Shifter Tremolo and an Electro Harmonix Memory Boy. I think I like the Fulltone the best because it makes any amp sound great, which is invaluable when you turn up somewhere and don’t know what you’re gonna be playing through.
My main amp is a Carvin Bel Air combo.
WILL CREWDSON: It’s definitely a lot more experimental and electronic than some people might expect from me.
When I play live, the guitar becomes more dominant but there are tracks on the album where the guitar parts could only work with the arrangement that’s going on behind them.
I’d like people to hear it and create their own film in their mind using it as the soundtrack.
I think the film would cross genres from western to horror to comedy in equal measures.
tribe4mian: You teamed up with Johnette Napolitano (LA’s Concrete Blonde). How did this happen? Could you tell us which releases you have together and will you do something new in the near future?
WILL CREWDSON: I met Johnette completely by chance in a record shop in Fulham about 14 years ago. I was a massive fan of her and the band’s and was pretty star-struck to meet her in a tiny, empty shop. Anyway, we kept in touch and I think she asked to hear some new instrumental tracks I’d done and instantly offered to do some lyrics and melodies over them. We ended up doing a whole album called, “Scarred” and it came out about four years ago in the US. Got some great reviews but it didn’t really get the exposure it deserved. I think it’s actually out of print already but I’m very proud of that album and it was a thrill to work with someone who has an almost supernaturally powerful voice and presence.
Not sure if we’ll be working together again as she’s tied up with Concrete Blonde again now and that’s a really good thing. Something special happens when her voice is combined with Jim Mankey’s amazingly original guitar playing.
tribe4mian: What role does music play in your life? Do you feel it is an adequate means of expression and could you / would you live without music?
WILL CREWDSON: No, I totally thrive on it. I can’t imagine doing anything else and I don’t want to. I’m such a massive fan of music too. I still get excited at gigs and really disappointed if things get cancelled or I have to miss them for some reason.
tribe4mian: Once again, you are about to go on tour with Livan, opening for Alice Cooper.
I remember last year you played with Livan in Athens, supporting Aerosmith. How was it?
Can you give us the dates and places for Cooper’s tour?
WILL CREWDSON: That was fantastic. I’m such a big fan of Aerosmith and the set they played was like a dream.
I couldn’t believe Steven Tyler’s enthusiasm. I swear he was everywhere.
Even before they went on while we were sound checking he was checking every inch of the stage and all the equipment to make sure everything was to his liking.
I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him sweeping up the stadium afterwards. That’s the way to do it.
Here’s the dates for the next leg of the Alice Cooper tour:
|November 27||Huntington, WV||Albee Theater|
|November 29||Verona, NY||Turning Stone Casino|
|December 2||Atlantic City, NJ||House of Blues|
|December 3||Bridgeport, CT||Klein Memorial Auditorium|
|December 9||Merrillville, IN||Star Plaza Theater|
|December 10||Erie, PA||Warner Theater|
|December 12||Cincinnati, OH||Taft Theater|
|December 13||Atlanta, GA||Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center|
|December 14||Orlando, FL||Hard Rock Live|
tribe4mian: If you had the chance to be born again as a historic personality, which one would you choose?
WILL CREWDSON: I think I’d be a cross between Jack the Ripper and Robin Hood. I wouldn’t murder those ladies, I’d try and liberate them and get them jobs in Sherwood Forest helping me to rob the rich.
Either that or Zorro – he was real, right?
tribe4mian: Thank you very much for this interview, Will. We wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors and journeys.
WILL CREWDSON: Thanks a lot.
If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to catch Will’s upcoming gigs:
Friday, 11 November, 2011
Scant Regard presents … End of Days
Plus live sets from Plasma 9 + Pet Iguana with DJ sets from Ben Hell + DJ Nihil
Ryan’s Bar, 181 Stoke Newington Church Street, Hackney, London (MAP)
Saturday, 12 November, 2011
Scant Regard Live at the Adam and the Ants Convention 2011
The Fiddler’s Elbow, 1 Malden Road, Kentish Town, London (MAP)
Craving more? Here you go!!!
Download Scant Regard, “Burnt Pop Cycles” … HERE
Scant Regard at iTunes … HERE