Interviews and overshares

Frances Bean, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain

One of the interesting things about the fallout from this hacking scandal is that it’s made a lot of people re-examine issues of integrity in the press.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Guardian has (rightly) accused the other papers of being crass about Amy Winehouse, The Times‘s readers reacted with outrage after it published the Facebook updates of the as-yet-uncharged suspect in the hospital poisonings case, and in another post the paper complained about the giant amount of bulls*** that goes into the interview process. Overall, what people want is fairness and honesty. Continue reading

Most overlooked posts of the past 3 months

3:10 to Yuma

1. Terminator 2, and other remixes
Pogo: “Comprising nothing but small sounds recorded from Terminator 2, Skynet Symphonic is my tribute to one of the greatest action features of all time.”
I’ve also included a few of Pogo’s other innovative “remixes”.

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I’ve got a headache, so today’s update will be brief. My pal Damin just bought the new Ohgr CD, and reckons it’s pretty good. Skinny Puppy’s Nivek Ogre released an album (Welt) at the turn of the millennium. That was pretty good, too. Ohgr is a co-project with Ruby’s Mark Walk, and was originally supposed to feature Al Jourgensen, though he only ever contributed one track, which ended up as Ministry’s The Fall. In spite of all that, the music was far from the derivative “industrial” drivel peddled at the time and felt fresh and innovative. If you were into that sort of music at that sort of time, you might have heard Cracker – a twitchy and ridiculously infectious pop song that was wholly unexpected after the brutal noise of Puppy’s The Process. It even has a rap bit. One that works.

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Whatever happened to … ?

After having spent the past six months reacquainting myself with the music of some of the poster-boys of my youth, I thought it would be fun to see what became of them. Some we know about: poor Kurt Cobain, or the likes of Trent Reznor who seems to be releasing something every second Tuesday. Next to him on my lurid grey-striped wallpaper (seriously, what was with that awful 90s decor?) was Al Jourgensen.

On the left, that’s how I remember him when I thought that he epitomised the ideal taste in fashion (hey, you’re talking to someone who willingly put black chipboard furniture with red plastic handles in their bedroom). I remember my straight friend Mike, who knew him, describing Al as “really sexy”, though I never really saw it under all that hair. He’s 51 now and officially disbanded Ministry in 2008, but still releases RevCo albums and works as a producer. In case you’re wondering, he quit heroin years ago after nearly losing an arm! Good to see he’s doing OK, and that Last Sucker album was actually pretty good.


Tim Burgess (The Charlatans)

Born 30 May 1967, the Charlatans singer epitomised the non-threatening cheeky-chappy indie vocalists of the time. For about three years in my early teens, he was my idol. I may have lost interest, but it seems he didn’t: the 43 year-old is still fronting the band, who released their 12th album, Who We Touch, on 6 September this year. It reached number 21 in the UK charts.

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Memory Lane: Mary Mary

A little note on this one: additional to my obsession to meet Raymond Watts, I developed this mad idea that I absolutely HAD to meet Mary Mary if it was the very last thing I ever did in my life. It took me two years from thinking I’d quite like to have a chat to actually sitting down and talking with him, but … it really was one of the greatest moments of my life to sit there, nose-to-nose with my indie idol, chatting happily and animatedly. While we never met again, other people in the room remarked on how well we’d got on with each other, and I came away with one of my favourite ever interviews.

With their explosive blend of metal riffs and drum and bass grooves, Apollo 440’s rise to fame has been as meteoric as the name suggests. The funky, jazz-inspired Krupa and chart-busting Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub (from Van Halen’s Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love) have set a blueprint for their fast-developing sound. Finding an increased audience with the Lost In Space theme, @440’s star is in the ascendant. Incredibly, their trademark ragga-style vocals come courtesy of none other than industrial legend Mary Mary.

I suppose the rumours are true,” Mary grins, as he reveals all about his days as vocalist for psychedelic punkers Gaye Bykers On Acid. He reveals that the speculation of huge, acid-fuelled frenzies stems from when a certain alternative celebrity handed out 250 tabs of acid to the band.

Ian: We were handing it out to the crowd, and we did take quite a lot of it ourselves. It’s something you get over, though.

He smiles, accounting for his current sober appearance.

Born Ian Garfield Hoxley, Mary hails from Leicester, but has spent years in various bands in Liverpool, Camden and Chicago. Mary has an extraordinary reputation. Not only as a versatile and talented vocalist, but as of The World’s Nicest Bloke. Former bandmates, roadies, producers and friends all chorus their affection for the tiny, affable, gregarious Kurt Cobain lookalike. In fact, so widespread was his acclaim that we simply had to find out what all the fuss was about. We weren’t disappointed.

After endless telephone calls to the Epic Press office (thanks guys!), I am finally led to a tiny room at Subterrania, where my favourite singer and one of the hottest bands on the planet are playing tonight. A man in an Afghan coat introduces himself as Simon. He in turn introduces me to the band. I promise to Mary that I am not going to neglect Apollo 440 (and miss this one?) and decide to start at the beginning.



Ian: After GBOA, one night we went to see Henry Rollins play in Highbury, when Paul Raven from Killing Joke came up to me and handed me £200. Cash. He said, “I really want you to be on the team. Get a plane and come to Chicago.” So I spent it. A couple of days later, he called and said, “I was serious about you coming out here. Get the next flight out.” I told him that I’d spent it, but a royalty cheque came through, so I ended up in Chicago. Martin Atkins (Killing Joke / Ministry) was like “Yeah, yeah, come on over”, so suddenly I’m surrounded by people like Andrew Weiss from Rollins Band, En Esch from KMFDM and it’s like, great, I’m in a band with loads of complete nutters.

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Last impressions: Skinny Puppy – The Process

I really felt the urge to listen to this lately after picking up the excellent Greater Wrong of the Right DVD. The Process was released in 1995. It was an album rooted in chaos – it took three producers to complete, was recorded amidst environmental and personal disaster, and ended up with one member dead and the other two at loggerheads. One one listen I was hooked, and after hearing their other records, I thought this was the best thing Puppy had ever done. Weirdly, the biggest mental connection I get is actually Pink Floyd’s underrated Momentary Lapse of Reason. Yes, thematically and instrumentally, it’s industrial, but the sense of epic scale and underlying composition is pure Pink Floyd.

Jahya is one of the most arresting opening tracks I’ve ever heard. It starts off with industrial techno pops and crackles, little noises, and then introduces Ogre’s unearthly incantations, a pretty synth piano hook, a crescendo of fierce guitar riffing, more noise and samples, some clanging synthetic beats …



Death. “Spiky, black, hard-edged”, the voice says, before the most monstrous metal riff kicks in over a messy, chaotic wall of techno beats and bleeps, Ogre grunting over the top, some gloriously clashing keyboard sample over the top, then randomly pulling into a catchy chorus. You know Public Enemy vs Anthrax, Bring The Noise? Yeah, like that, but louder.

Candle has always been one of my favourites off this album, and it’s still absolutely gorgeous. What I really notice this time around is the head-bending dubby sub-bass – it’s not really that deep, and that’s what makes it so oppressive – it makes you feel like you’re drowning in it. Pretty acoustic guitars vie with metal riffs for attention, but what’s really spectacular is the synth pads – I’m thinking it’s like Front Line Assembly’s better stuff, but Dwayne Goettel could come up with the goods pretty regularly – tracks like Warlock and Smothered Hope, for instance. The vocals somewhere between singing and shouting are a hallmark of Ogre’s changing style; this was the point where he stopped squeaking like a demented hamster and running it through a ton of effects. It sounds all the better for it. Everything about this track sounds fresh and modern, even 15 years on.

Hardset Head is Skinny Puppy trying to see if those amps really do go up to eleven. The first 50 seconds sound awesome, but once the chorus kicks in, it is the point where the three producers it took to complete the album becomes apparent: it’s just a complete mess.

Cult is a sweet, rather moving rock ballad, Ogre’s slightly off-key vocals stopping it becoming too saccharine – like someone singing on the verge of tears after too much whiskey.

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Memory Lane: Skinny Puppy

Note: these interviews were conducted when I was 17-19 years old and running a music fanzine, so if they seem rather amateurish, it’s because they were. The italics are notes added 10-15 years after the event.

OK, this is the last one. It was pretty funny because we’d only dimly heard of Skinny Puppy before their PR agent sent us a copy of The Process. Immediately after the first track, we called up and requested an interview with Nivek Ogre “to talk to the old smackhead before he keels over, too”. It was maybe six months to a year after Dwayne Goettel overdosed, and the band had acrimoniously split. Aside from The Process, we weren’t hugely familiar with their stuff beyond knowing they’d influenced bands like Nine Inch Nails – an omission we corrected swiftly afterwards.
On the day of the interview, we were queued in the lobby of a classically-luxurious West End hotel, to be herded in ‘zine by ‘zine for a twenty-minute interview. Eventually we were beckoned upstairs, and caught a fleeting glimpse of Ogre – real name Kevin Ogilvy – who whispered “five minutes” and shut the door again.

I’m not sure if we actually expected Ogre to be big and green, but what we were definitely not expecting was hot. I don’t think we actually moved for the whole five minutes – just stared at the closed door, thunderstruck. When we were eventually allowed in to the sterile meeting room, we were still a little dazed, but it didn’t matter – when we read the interviews he’d given that day, they were all near-identical: it probably didn’t even matter what we’d asked, though we might have done better if we’d done our research properly. Live and learn …

What have been the highlights of your time in Skinny Puppy?

Ogre: For me, it has to be the theatrical side of it, and being able to personify things that were close to my heart. One little bit we did once was about cows being koshered and we were trying to take all those characters and feelings of pain and convey that pain to the audience. So we had this cow being koshered looping over and over again and I come out with a Big Mac, and I’d pull it out, massage it. Then I’d take it right over the audience and bit into it, and it had these blood bags tied up with elastic bands, really really tight inside it, so when I bit into it they exploded everywhere. It was really bad, the blood would just explode down the back of my throat and I was f***ing puking really badly, which is why I could never suck cock.


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