cEvin Key - Skinny Puppy

September 9, 2005

Photo Credit: www.spvusa.com

Tell me a little about the history of Skinny Puppy for people who may be a little new to the band.

It's a huge one, that's for sure. The best way to learn more about Skinny Puppy I swear is to almost go online these days. There's more history about Skinny Puppy online than I can keep in my brain.

How did you and Ogre meet up and get together?

We met through mutual friends. We were partying at that time when we were young. Strangely it just happened that we ended up at the same place and didn't even really know each other. I was in another band at that time and that was his place. We had some equipment there and I was noodiling on some equipment and I had come up with I guess what would be known as one of the first Skinny Puppy songs. I was just tinkering around with the idea of who should do vocals and there was a guy there that was Ogre that had never been in a band before. For some reason I knew that he showed the same interest as far as what music we liked and what sort of imagery we were into. We were sort of fashionable young kids so I just turned to him and asked him if he wanted to sing on this. He said sure and that he would write some lyrics and come back later. He did and that was the first Skinny Puppy song. That’s how it came together and that was how the band started believe it or not. Just like that off the cuff. That was in 1983. I don’t even know how many records we’ve done up to that point.

On your website it said something like 14. When you wanted to start Skinny Puppy, what was your vision for the band?

I was in the band at that time and we were already touring opening for such bands as Depeche Mode, Roxy Music, Duran Duran, and that wave scene at the time. It was rewarding and it was a good learning experience but it wasn’t supplying the “yes I’m making the type of music that I want to be making” vibe. We went down to L.A. in ‘84 and made an album with Gary Wright, the “Dreamweaver” guy. I said this is it. I can’t make any more music that isn’t different than this. It’s just not hard enough and heavy enough so we were basically striving to just really get at the point of not trying to make something that was really commercial at that time. I guess we were striving to make something that was really more for us at first and then if people liked it, then great. It seemed like that philosophy worked in the long run. Please yourself on an artistic level in some way and then hope that others will follow has been our philosophy.

A lot of your music is socially aware. I noticed in your biography statements about air pollution, mercury levels in water, and the Patriot Act. How do feel you about a lot of the stuff that’s come into being after September 11?

I think Skinny Puppy is a bit of a barometer of what’s going on. If there are issues happening, then they’re going to be dealt with within our music or our lyrics. There are some things that need to be said and since 9/11 it’s just obviously been...we’ve got a Bush back in power, we’ve got Skinny Puppy back. You can’t really have a heavy political scenario going on without many forms of counter commentary. Skinny Puppy is sort of a barometer for that without being too specific. I’m more of a musical guy. I like to speak in good sound so I’ll just digress the sound if you wish. I really picked a good lyricist and guy to work with when I looked towards Kevin Ogilvie in the beginning because he's incredibly on top of the world and issues of which are surrounding us. Even so much as pre-predicting where things could lead us. I think that was something that I sort of could feel within him right from day one because that was where his strength lies which is really being really good at connecting words within music but also having relative issues.

You guys broke up for a bit and then reformed. What led to the breakup and why did you reform?

It wasn't really so much a decision as much as it was factors that made things happen. We had reached a creative boiling point in around '93 or '94. We were making an album and different strings were pulling one way and strings were pulling another way. It just needled enough to help the band explode and we were disintegrating and people were dealing with it in their own manner. Quite a lot of people were shocked when first Dwayne passed away. It was very unlike Dwayne to even use heavy drugs so it was a shock. No one really knew how to deal with anything which was going on at that stage. It was like the breakdown of everything. Everything had been running well for quite some time. Almost eight years at that point and everyone's got used to how things were running. When things stopped running, I think it caused quite a crisis in everyone's lives. Everyone more or less examined themselves and came full circle. I'm thinking more or less of Ogre and myself now. We both looked at ourselves and had a good opportunity to explore our own side projects and these whole adventures. Then we have these two German guys which would call us each year which were extremely interested in us reforming under the conditions and trying to make good of what Skinny Puppy was. It was hard for us to regroup and just make it work for us in Germany. The concept became quite interesting and when I ran into Ogre who I hadn't actually spoken to in five years at that point, I mentioned to him that I had received offers from these guys and I was met with a sort of optimistic outlook on it. I thought to myself that maybe we should do this and Ogre said well maybe we should do this. It was really quite a healing experience when you have to make it all happen again. To bring all the parts together and play the performance. It was pretty complicated but it worked and doing a show, we did it in Dresden, Germany and it was one of those performances that was a bit magical. It was pretty heavily orchestrated by a number of individuals who were collaborating with it. Everyone from German filmmakers to robot designers, video makers, and all sorts of artistic elements. The fire guys from Rammstein. There were so many people working on that show that it made it a super event. We left the stage that night after our last song. There was a real thunderstorm actually building up in the sky. It was blasting huge thunderclaps which was almost a little bit surreal. We left and went to Prague the next day and we discussed on the way to Prague how overwhelming it all seemed and if we were to do more, what should we do. We felt like we could tour some more and play some more shows but not be entirely all looking backwards. Maybe we should try to look forward and make a new statement. That also led us to finding a new label, new management, and basically a whole new team to compile the music and make Skinny Puppy real again. It took us the better part of four years to do that and we really took our time making sure it was right down the same path as where Skinny Puppy should have and would have been. We find ourselves down here after touring that album for 68 live shows and we filmed a few of those shows and now have a DVD coming out that is really the first sort of visual presentation since I guess 1987 that more or less is where we're at now. I think that was after 15 shows or something that we filmed the shows. The band had enough time to gel with our new drummer and Bill Morrison, the guy who also directed the DVD. He's our guitarist. He's been in the band pretty much since early 1990 though as a video maker and has progressed into other roles but still is making videos and DVDS but he's also the guitarist. It's a pretty close knit family still.

When I interview a lot of bands, they tell me being in a band is like being married.

It depends on how much you appreciate those people. We've had 20 plus years to think about it though there have been times in our past where we were young and stupid and we were treating each other like idiots and being all unaware of being an idiot. I think it's important to be aware of how you treat your band members and you come across. I think music is one of those things where there's a lot of reasons to make music and to be involved because there are a lot of reasons to not be involved when you look at the typical way of how people are represented in the music industry. There's a lot of people in the music industry, let's face it, and there's a lot of fake bullshit and a lot of people striving for self. Really just self-importance. Putting themselves up on a platform. I'm not really into that. We've been more into just seeing where this leads. It was weird. We were pulling into Czechoslovakia just a few weeks ago to play a show and I just turned to Ogre and I said it’s been 21 years or something since we’ve started doing this since that night. Can you believe this? He said no, he didn’t expect this. We’re looking at the stage rolling out and here we are waiting for people to help us set up our gear and it’s quite amazing. Quite ridiculous actually. It’s incredible that still 20 years later we’re marveling at the fact that we’re still doing this and I think that we never really thought about it this way. We intended maybe to do something else and this was just something that in the meantime we were being witness to ourselves how far this has gone. Where will this lead. I think that’s the reason why we’re still here. We ourselves are wondering.

One of the reasons why you’re still here is that you have stuff to say that you haven’t said yet.

Yeah, I don’t know about that. Today’s modern society, it feels like everything’s been said a million times and twisted around 500 times and spit out in a different way. I think that even I as a listener, I don’t buy as many albums as I used to when I was younger. Maybe that’s just being a typical thing of growing up though. I don’t really know but it just seems like the music used to be more of a discovery. You could be witness to some things unfolding all the time that were developed in how far we were taking things. Sort of like the wheel. How far the wheel’s gone. In recent times music development seemingly has gotten I think less obvious. Let’s say the difference between analog equipment and MIDI are done now with computers. The whole advent of digital recording. The changes between all that are pretty heavy duty in the concept of how we work. In the end, what will be next? Will it be something that will be a whole new invention that will change the way people write music? It’s weird. That’s how I look at music. Where we’ve gone, what’s happened, what’s transpired, and where will it go.

Tell us a little about the DVD that you guys will be releasing on the 27th.

It is historical in the sense that we go back and show you what it was like in the ‘80s on our ‘88 tour. It was documented in Europe and then we go to I believe it’s 1990 or 1991 or ‘91 and ‘92 which would be Too Dark Park and Last Rights tours which people really probably make reference to what the stage show consisted of and what we were doing and so on. It depicts it pretty well. Actually Ogre has the footage to tracks from those albums such as “Spasmolytic” and “Love In Vain” from Last Rights. There’s obviously a very lengthy second DVD that is in there. That is our new show which is incredibly long and incredibly gelled. People are often disappointed that we’re always shrouded within darkness and so on. I think that this one is maybe a little bit more visual in the sense that you can get to know the band a little better. It was filmed in Montreal and Toronto somewhere midway on our world tour last year. I think the only reason we chose Canada is because it’s our native country and also the company that we were working with on the production of this video was also Canadian based so that was the reason why we did it in Toronto and Montreal. Of course we love Toronto and Montreal as cities so it was good to capture that bond. You can expect to find everything that you’d be looking for on Skinny Puppy in this package because everyone I think comes to the table and pretty much have outdone themselves. For instance our graphic artist, Steven Gilmore, working together with FODOR for the cover on this I think is probably one of the better covers he’s ever made. The sound, the way that it was put together by Tim Marshall who’s our regular mixing engineer going way back to ‘88. He’s really outdone himself as far as bringing it all together. Then our guitarist Bill Morrison made and directed this video but also was partaking in the band as being a guitarist so I think it’s quite a family, once again in the house type of production. Pretty fulfilling in the end.

I can imagine people will be really excited to get that.

It’s a big package. If you like Skinny Puppy, it will certainly be something that you can be excited about. It has like 20 songs on it.

I guess you guys will be touring for the DVD release.

We just finished 11 shows in Europe in August and we’re back now. We started work on our second album for SPV so our plan is to see how things go and see what the DVD can stir up and follow up with I’m sure more live shows coming in 2006.

Can you tell us a bit about the new CD that’s being worked on?

We just actually started it but we’ve been talking around ideas for a little while. We expect this to be a 2006 release. The DVD is such a full plate item though. I’m sure that people will be tided over until then.

They’ll definitely be busy with that. What do you see in the future for Skinny Puppy?

We just take it one day at a time and move forward. Then I can see with the gelling of the live band and the way that the shows went, this past month in Europe. I would expect to see a fully developed second album with probably everything that you could imagine to go with that. Do a live tour which would obviously be looking at the DVD. All sorts of promotional aspects of it. We’ve always been trying to extend our tours. We play out of the way places where we haven’t played so even though that is challenging in the sense of how to get places and how to do another proper budget. That’s a bit challenging for us but nevertheless, we’re trying to get to places like Japan and Australia.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Look out for Skinny Puppy in 2006.

Skinny Puppy