The band in an odd way is a studio project. It's a side project that I started when I was recording the last Skinny Puppy record. At that time American Recordings, the old Def American which was Rick Rubin's label, had signed Skinny Puppy. When I was recording that record, the co-writer and producer of the record, Mark Walk and I formed a friendship and started recording after I left the band in 1996 and just continued recording when we had time and our trips to Seattle would allow it because at the time he was living in Seattle. That's the incubation part of the band. The band was signed to Spitfire and then released it's first record in 2001 and we toured that. In that incarnation there were a number of people. There was Bill Morrison that played guitar who did the video and all the animation on "Majik" on this new record and my friend Loki played keyboards and Kevin who was in Skinny Puppy played drums and Tim Skold who is in Marilyn Manson now played bass on that tour. The lineup rotates and schisms around a bit but other than that, it's just a recording project.
That winds up going on the road anyway.
Yeah, well it seems to. When time permits. I think to be honest with you, the reason why I did that was to follow through on something I need to do for myself which is just following through that whole process of putting your show on the road. In Skinny Puppy there were other people that would handle that and this was something that was done more at a grass roots level. I just wanted to see. You have your hands on everything then you see where the money goes. You see where the money flows. You see where it comes in and you see where it doesn't come in. I needed to go through that for myself and I think that was the most enriching thing about doing that.
What got you interested in music as a career?
My father died, my grandfather died, and my wife at the time left me. It wasn't much of a marriage. I was 19 and she was 16 so I had this huge hole in my life. I've always been a bit of a depressed person. I've always been somebody who didn't really jive with the capitalist doctrine of selling something at a profit so to say. At times at the negation of somebody on the receiving end of that so I always had a bit of a problem with jobs that I fell into when I was younger which involved selling things. I veered away from those really quickly like selling product and although I am selling product now, it's one step removed and I'm more into the creation of products. It becomes more of a distilled thought as opposed to some piece of hardware that I'm about as close to as some Chinese relative I've never had in my life. It was a battle of wills more than anything because I really thought I had no place in this society. When I was younger in high school, I had a scholarship to go and follow my brother into medicine and then that became the outlook of seven years more of school because I just hated school. I free floated for a while and then fell into this literally. I always kind of wrote. I always had the English literature thing going and I always had the ability to put words together and play around with words and abstract things. My compositional abstraction is pretty acute at times. I also like looking in the future and thinking about well, what if. That set me on the path and then I had a number of people who came along and picked me up. One was a woman named Myra Davies who is my art mentor and subsequently got me residencies at the Bass Center for the Arts and we did this show over in Dresden. She has been a real supportive person into something that I think a lot of the mainstream press didn't see as being valid music much in the same way as the Japanese mainstream didn't see Buto as being a valid form of dance. She was always on the fringe like that so she gave me a bit of an education and it just moved from there. I haven't had a job in however many years since I was probably 21. I'm floating and following that path as it is.
You are a free spirit.
As free as you can be in this fucking country. As free as what I can buy. The faucet was pouring a bit more freely at one time.
Tell me a bit about Skinny Puppy.
Skinny Puppy was a performance art band that started in 1983 and was a reaction to the current so-called faux nasty music at the time. We had been doing a lot of music exchanging with artists in Europe. Just tape changing and we had gotten to know a bunch of things. It melded dissonance and a very non-melodic approach to things. Stream of consciousness musical composition although it wasn't. It was quite crafted as well as at times a streaming of conscious word play and at times a very structured kind of lyric writing. It started out as being something more in the mind of something akin to the idea of peeling back the layers of skin on your head and letting whatever thoughts come out of the open wound and then not really censoring anything that was coming out and not letting the idea of logic or morality or values get in the way of things. Within it all there wasn't an evil intent at all with what Skinny Puppy was all about. It was seen as being very evil but it was something that tried to use hard hitting visual images and imagery, symbolism, metaphors, as a way of at least picking people up and making them aware or trying to make them listen and become a little more aware of whatever we were talking about. That went the gamut from in the '80s, the Iraq-Iran war to Bethlehem to vivisection to pollution. It just ran the gamut on all those things. That was when it became externalized. It started looking a bit more outward and we just kept moving farther and farther away from the center so to say. We never were a pop band.
People tend to label things evil that they don't really understand.
Well, of course. That's historically what's going on, isn't it? You take a woman in the Middle Ages that dealt with natural healing and shit. Made to float or not float in water. I can see why. You definitely have to pick and choose and understand the content. There are bands around now that are throwing things out there like of satanical nature. Sometimes I think as being put into hands and minds that are too young to really navigate those waters effectively. Much in the same way as I would equate kids that played high school football, they were going for the drama and whatever was the rush of that or whatever you would get from that without the technique that would cause or not cause a lot of injuries from happening in other people. I think what people tend to do is that they either go black or white without really studying it and that's a common problem. Much in the same was as words in this country as this present time have been changed in order to accommodate a certain strategy or a certain enveloping of fears and speech. An example of that is when that city council member in New York was killed and whoever the idiot was that came on and said this is an attack against democracy. It's like get over your fucking self. It was some guy with a vendetta against a fellow council member. A petty squabble between two people much in the same way as has been going on for millennia. It's just being taken out of context and used in a different way. It just creates fear in people and that's much the same way as when that fear is instilled in people and they look at anything and call it a witch. Kill it.
Kill what you fear. You're going to be working on another Skinny Puppy album.
We are, yeah. We're just starting. We're just finishing inking the deal and just deciding on where we want to be. We finally got the offers and it's taken quite a while to be honest with you. Because of the climate of the music industry right now. I think we're going to be in a pretty good place. We're probably going to finish the record in the next couple of months. We'll have it out for the New Year and start touring then.
I remember when you released Welt because I got to review that CD. I understand that somebody might want to put it on vinyl. Put out a wax release of it.
Yeah, there might be. There's a company that's considering doing it. It's called Flesh Eating Ants I think and it's kind of a fan thing. Like a Skinny Puppy fan thing and they did some of Kevin's records for download. They looked really good. They're nice gatefold sleeves. I'd love to have vinyl because I miss vinyl. I'm old enough to miss vinyl. I'm old enough to miss those big gatefold sleeves and looking into the records and putting them away. Having that slick thin look to things which I think kids don't have now. Kids are more apt to just want to play with computers. I'm into the artwork and into the whole package.
Who designs your website? It's cute.
Loki did that. Loki der Quaeler who plays keyboards and played keyboards on this current recording. He's a programmer and he does that for me for free, bless his heart. He watches over it and keeps track of things. He's very maternal in that way so I'm very thankful to him.
I thought that was really cool.
Yeah, it's nice. It's changed a bit since the Welt website although you can go back to that but it's a nice interface and yeah, it's cute.
It is cute. You guys have a new CD out called SunnyPsyOp. How did you come by that title?
SunnyPsyOp was actually Camille Rose Garcia who painted the cover painting. I have to give her credit. The last thing that I do is come up with a title for the project. I knew what I wanted out. It was finding something that worked without calling psychological operations or psy ops. It's easier to explain this over here but when I was doing European interviews it got a bit difficult. There's an egg character on the cover on one of these ducks that's being strangled by these little centipede girls. The egg is pouring blood out of an oil can over this sea of oil basically. It's kind of a Humpty Dumpty type character so SunnyPsyOp obviously has a double meaning. One of the meanings is my own representation of what I see in the media in this country as being these nice sunny smiley faces brainwashing people into what they should hear and what they should listen to. On each channel it's the same. There's no different opinion. It's fairly subtle the line is all the same. These smiley faces tell us what we should and shouldn't do. What we should be aware of and what we should fear most importantly. Psy ops is obviously psychological operations. SunnyPsyOp is a take on the egg character on the front which is sunny side up so that's where it came from.
That's interesting. I don't watch the news bites on television. I obtain information from all over the Internet. I don't allow people to influence my thoughts. I read and formulate my own opinions. I think for myself.
I agree. I go to one website. It's called Rense.com. It's really good because most stuff is reported. It's just what they fixate on they pound people with. I think that's the interesting thing about the psychological operations of the news. They'll report everything in some format whether it's in Reuters, Associated Press, or whatever. What gets pounded into people's brains is what you're looking at as being a diversion to me most of the time.
Tell us about some of the tracks on the album.
Lyrically they have a certain momentum. We try to sequence the record to be more like something that would be played through and listened to all at once with transitions and things like that. Some that worked, some that didn't. The songs go back to some songs as far back as the year of 2000 and some songs as current as months before we released the record. "Majik" is interesting lyrically because the lyrics were actually written in 1987. That makes more sense to me now and it was the impetus for the video. It has a lot to do with my own idea of consumerism and the idea of what you buy isn't necessarily just what you buy. You're buying into a lot more. I had a real gas doing that. Putting together the whole package just because it was something that came into fruition and became a solid concept in a lot of ways. It's a personal record but it's vague enough to not be personal. You can externalize it. "IOvNow" is a very personal song. That's kind of an anthem for me right now. Beyond that, you just listen to it. A lot of people have their own take on the compositions and the lyrical content because that's how it was intended anyway.
Are you guys touring North America?
No, not for this record. Right now it's a timing thing and I was going to go out. I had done some shows with Ministry in May. I just did two shows and reconnected with Al Jourgeson who is a really old and dear friend of mine. We bounced apart for ridiculous reasons. An understandable but ridiculous reason. He's actually moved here with his wife. My girlfriend and I have shared a few dinners with them and we're going out at the end of this week with them again. We were going to be doing a tour that would have been starting some time mid-August I think but that's been canceled because he's going back in the studio and because I'm going to be starting to record Skinny Puppy again. It could be pretty difficult but we'll probably fold in some of these songs perhaps in the Skinny Puppy tour as well. We'll see how it goes. Right now I'm just focusing more on the music. I've got a lot of work to do. Conceptual ideas for this Puppy tour and just finishing off a record.
I saw Ministry for the first time a few months back. It was just awesome. His sarcasm and humor appeal to me.
Al is an incredible commentator. You hit the nail on the head. He's very sarcastic and very funny and he keeps me in stitches. When I talk to him I'm laughing all the time. When my girlfriend had first met him, she had heard a lot about him. He has a history but he's clean now. He's been clean for over a year and he's in incredible spirits. He's in really good shape. He never really left mentally even when he was at his worst but he got just a bit darker and a bit hard to be around. Now he's back.
Battling drug addiction is difficult. I am glad he overcame it because that shit will kill you. We don't need a repeat of Layne Staley. That was awful.
Yeah, he's a very lucky man too because he pushed it to a very extreme. Layne was a really nice guy from what I heard. I think it's sad what happened to him. He was in a very close relationship with someone who died and he was left to wither away. I never met the man but I heard he was a really good person. Most of them are.
Yes, most of them are. Any other thoughts or comments?
Thank you very much for your support. I really appreciate it.