The following interview with Edgy 59, who most of the regular readership will know from his vocal duties in cult Doomers Burning Witch, was kindly submitted by Cyril aka missionair…
Please introduce yourself to the readers and tell anything you consider we should have to know about you personally?
My name is Edgemont. I am a vocalist, composer and artist. I believe in everything I do and I make no apologies and offer no explanation for my work or actions. I consider myself a Knight-Errant and I view my life as an opportunity to change the fundamental thoughts of people on this Earth. I believe that to create new ways you have to destroy old ways, so this is what I find myself doing most of the time. I am driven toward this end and find it impossible to stop.
Do you remember the day when the music came into your life? How have you decided to be a musician, what was the start of it all: was it an actual event or more of some inner process?
It was in 3rd grade. Ms. Wolf’s class to be exact. Out of the blue I decided to sing in the school talent show and I won. She was friends with my mom and after that I was enrolled into the local boys choir. That experience was enough to inspire me to quit singing and start playing piano. I began playing piano and excelled at it. I stuck with that and still play piano to this day, among other instruments. Things changed for me in 1978 when my mom took me to see KISS on the LOVE GUN tour. That experience changed everything. Within a year I was listening to BLACK SABBATH and imagining that OZZY was speaking directly to me (and only me). Obviously that was a good thing. I was 10 years old. SABBATH has been an unchanging constant in my life ever since. I guess the next level of understanding began in the early 80’s when I received ‘STRATOSFEAR’ by TANGERINE DREAM as a gift. My mind was permanently opened to new ideas and I embarked upon a more experimental and exploratory path with my musical expression. My motives were changed forever. I no longer cared if people understood what i did. I didn’t care if they liked me anymore.
And what was your first experience of making your own music?
I always played piano as a kid. We had one in the house, an old player-piano that had been retrofitted to play normally, and I played it every day. I was only interested in writing my own compositions, however. Every week I would be working on a new composition. Some of them would turn out to be an hour long or more. To this day I can play most everything I have ever written by memory. I figured out the guitar when I was14. Drumkit at 15. Then I got an Oberheim OB8 synthesizer when I was 16. I had saved up money for 2 years to get it. I then began writing compositions at an alarming rate. I quit school. Started a band. And left home to tour with my band. It was 1985. My band was called MINDWORK. We did all improvisational exploratory electronic music (what you would call ‘noise’ today), and with considerable skill. We had no drums, of course, and no recognizable sounds. Fully abstract constructions. We managed to tour the USA almost completely in 1 year with no budget or resources to speak of. Of course—no one liked us either. We returned to our home city destitute and homeless. This would be a pattern repeated through the years.
Did MINDWORK record and release anything?
We recorded all the time. We had our own studio at the time and pretty much did nothing BUT record. We did have a record deal lined up at one time but it never panned out. The project was more about EXPLORATION anyway. We staged one-off shows all the time and had quite a local following. We never released anything. I have all the old masters (about 20 hours worth). Years ago I transferred them to DAT for safekeeping.
Do you have a plan to release anything from that material someday?
No. I would have to find all parties involved in those recordings and we would have to release it TOGETHER. I am not the sole contributor or owner of those recordings.
There’s not much (not to say nothing) known about your activities in these early days. What did you do after MINDWORK’s disbanding?
I moved to New York City and began working on composing string quartets and symphonic music. I still worked on ‘noise’ material the whole time but my focus was on exploring acoustic sound and the capabilities it had. I like the way it has to interact with an actual ENVIRONMENT in order to exist. I became jaded and bored with it, however, because my skills as a composer were not advanced enough yet. At this time I began to play the Chapman Stick. I focused on this for a couple of years until I became bored with it because it wouldn’t sustain for long enough. Around this time I decided to move to Seattle. It was 1994.
Were you involved in any local band activities there for the first time or continued on working out your own stuff yourself?
At first I was working on my own stuff. I had returned to my roots of electronic sound creation and began to amass a lot of equipment. While shopping for guitars at the local used instrument dealer, I met Dubh David Black. We decided to start an experimental noiserock project with a friend of his who owned Private Radio Studios, Pat Grey. Later on, Dubh and Pat would record the first ever BURNING WITCH recordings for our demo at that studio. So we began playing shows under the name JUNKHALO, a term discovered by Dubh, referring to the halo of debris in orbit around the earth. It was also a drug reference which was actually quite fitting at that time. We had many shows in many local clubs in the Seattle area for about a year. During this time we cut an EP called ‘BUGS EATING’ and released it ourselves on cassette. This was the first time since childhood that I sang. My mood and overall demeanour was sinking quickly into depression and my addiction to heroin was at critical levels. No one could stand the sight of me, let alone my presence, so needless to say I couldn’t hold a job and my band was falling apart. It was at this time that I met Stuart Dahlquist.
How did it happen?
I was working on my car out in my driveway and Stuart lived down at the end of the street. He liked my car and we began a friendship. I had an old Studebaker and he was one of the only guys around that could work on it. We talked about music a little and I told him about a JUNKHALO show I had coming up. He went to see it and brought O’Malley and Greg to our next show to see me sing. We were playing with BORIS and KIRIHITO and they were impressed. That turned out to be the last JUNKHALO show. About a week later I was jamming with what would become BURNING WITCH.
Had you heard of Thorr’s Hammer before? Were you into doom at all?
I had heard of Thorr’s Hammer but I had never heard them. They had played a couple of shows over a one year period or so that I had heard about. I am not a fan of low, gutteral vocals in general, however so I avoided those shows. My background in what is now called DOOM is actually more SLUDGE than anything else. I grew up in Charlotte N.C. and at that time there was a pivotal scene of early SLUDGE bands. SEWER PUPPET and later BUZZOV.EN. These were both bands that friends of mine were in so I spent a lot of time around that scene. In 1988 it was all so new to everyone that we didn’t know what to call it. The words SLUDGE and DOOM are new monikers for some old ideas. It seems like everything has a category nowadays but back then it wasn’t like that at all. I saw BUZZOV.EN lay waste to audiences so many times. It changed my life! They are the real reason I am fond of slow, heavy music in the first place. Well, besides BLACK SABBATH that is. Kirk Fisher’s vocal style was an early influence on my own. They lived in the house that MORBID ANGEL used to live and practice in a couple of years earlier before they moved out of town. There are so many stories of events that took place in there! These were very good years for me and very formative years for ideas that would later be put into action in bands such as BURNING WITCH and THE POISONED GLASS.
What was your first impression about the guys you teamed up with to form Burning Witch later? Have you discussed in which direction you were gonna thrive the band’s sound or it came naturally?
That is an odd question, but one that, I guess, deserves merit. From the start, I was completely consumed by BURNING WITCH. The guys all made the required impressions upon me to motivate me to become a part of the project. A band as dynamic as the WITCH is filled with extreme characters to begin with. It has to be. It is the type of situation that even if you hate each other for some reason or another–you love each other because it is only TOGETHER that you can create this unstoppable force and movement. That is how I would characterize being in BURNING WITCH. Once we embarked upon the unspoken quest–we were bound by honor and under penalty of death and eternal suffering to see it through. There was a palpable feeling that it was important. A cause greater than our own individual motives, wants, or needs. Through the years we all became brothers on a very deep level. To this day we are brothers, no matter what might transpire between us, even though some might say otherwise. The WITCH was very special to all of us, more so I’m sure than any other single thing has been or will be. It is the real deal. Looking back upon my years with the WITCH is enough to give me a reason to continue living. I consider myself still in BURNING WITCH until I die. It is the one thing in my life that I am proud of without reservation. As far as the band’s sound goes: I think it is one of the only times in my life I have been a band that was TRULY the sum of its parts. We all provided our respective part to the whole and the blend was just automatically perfect. All the time. Every time. It actually came naturally, for once.
One of the most remarkable things about Burning Witch is your voice which is really unique and haven’t been duplicated. You mentioned Kirk of Buzzov*en as an influence on your vocal style. Who else and what else also were the inspiration for you?
As far as direct influences on my vocal delivery, it would have to be Kirk Fisher (BUZZOV.EN), Ozzy Osbourne (BLACK SABBATH), and Jeff Clayton (ANTi SEEN). There are influences in other ways: people and bands who have inspired me musically or in general as well. These would include: BLACK SABBATH, BUZZOV.EN, TANGERINE DREAM, KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI, JOHN CAGE, KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN, GORDON MUMMA, KLAUS SHULTZE, CHROME, THROBBING GRISTLE, PHANTOM TENANTS, THE DAMNED, DARKTHRONE, BURZUM, BATHORY, MORBID ANGEL, KISS, CIRITH UNGOL, VENOM, SEWER PUPPET, MERZBOW, KATATONIA, and really too many to list fully. ALSO– I believe that influences do not necessarily dictate how an artist will sound. They are more an influence on the INDENTITY of a person and a clue to what they believe in. But ANY person could sound ANY way they wanted to no matter what they believe in.
Besides the vocals you have provided all of the lyric content, is it correct? How can you describe what is it about and for which purposes serve that scary and twisted imagery? Very few of them are available to read, are you gonna publish them in its entirety someday?
I have a rule that I will never sing words that I did not create. So, yes I wrote all of the lyrical content for BURNING WITCH. The band wrote all our songs together, in the rehearsal format–where we would all be there trying out ideas live and stopping and discussing the way they worked then redoing them and trying new things. I would be there improvising lyrics and trying new things as well. I would then write them down and take home rehearsal tapes (recorded on a jam box on cassette) and refine them. Each of the songs is like a fable or story for the most part. With a central character as protagonist or antagonist. Most of them have a deep meaning and a moral to the story. The scary and twisted imagery is just how I think in symbolism. To me it is not scary at all–it all makes perfect sense. There are a couple of exceptions to this formula, however. TOWER PLACE, SACRED PREDICTIONS, and STILLBORN are basically autobiographical. Those are very special songs to me, and writing them helped me deal with very difficult issues I was having at the time. I spend the majority of my life in a secret, deep depression which I have learned to cherish and keep to myself. But at the time of the WITCH I was having a lot of trouble understanding my own nature. I hold most of my lyrics as sacred and have refused to publish most of them, that is why only 2 songs are known to mankind. I have no plans to publish any of them in the future. I do not feel the need for acceptance or to be understood. I think people should interpret the songs as abstract forms and relate them to their own lives. This is where they take on a life of their own. Music exists only in your memory. Your mind fills in the blanks. It is transient–it is there and then it is gone–you take with you only what you interpret to be relevant to your own life. This is undeniable. It is why music is alive and visual art is a dead form. Nowadays visual art is only a marketing tool to support other media. We have seen it all before. Music is mystical and shrouded in the ambiguity of memory. It never dies, and it is never the same twice.
So, as the story goes, soon after the creation of Burning Witch only four men left. What was the reason of Greg Anderson’s disappearance?
I believe he left to move to Los Angeles and start Southern Lord Recordings and the band GOATSNAKE. All I know is that one day he was gone and that was that. Whatever the reason, I was glad to see him go. We never got along very well and, frankly, I thought of him as the source of a lot of the friction within the band. After he left our sound tightened up and had less of a bluesy feel to it. And, of course, leaving BURNING WITCH enabled him to found one of the best bands of the latter part of the 20th century: GOATSNAKE. Greg is a strong individual and a pioneer in the genre.
Well, the sound tightened up and then you had it coming up to be laid on wax. How difficult it was to find a record deal? Who was carrying out management duties, organized gigs etc?
We never had a record deal. Any releases of the records we made were after we had already broken up. We made those records ourselves and paid all production costs out of pocket. Stuart has a lot of underground connections and that helped us out when it came time to record something or put on a concert. Steve Albini was an old friend of his and getting him to record us was no problem. I think Stuart booked all of our shows as well. We didn’t have a manager but I guess Stuart handled most of those duties. Steve had his magazine, ‘DESCENT’ but never used it to promote us or help us in any way. Jamie and I were too busy just holding things together to have any good connections or do anything to help in those matters. See, you gotta understand—no one liked us at all. There was absolutely no support for a band like BURNING WITCH. The legend of the band is something that has grown long after we ceased to be active as a unit. You can thank Greg Anderson for that. He released all of our works once he had his label in full swing. I think it was 1997 or ’98. I’m not sure because I was doing other things at the time and trying to get SINISSTAR off the ground. The DOOM and DRONE scenes in America were built by Greg Anderson and Southern Lord.
How did your gigs look like generally? Do you remember the bands which shared the stage with you? Do you have any remarkable recollection about your shows?
Our gigs were in small to medium bars and clubs. At the start of a show the house was usually half full. Halfway into the opening song the house was one quarter full. By the time we started the second song there were 10 people left in attendance. This is a generalization, of course, but it is a generally accurate one. We played with NAPALM DEATH, AT THE GATES, OVERKILL, SILKWORM, DARKENWOOD, SWARMING HORDES, RORSCHACH TEST and more, but I never really cared. I am always supremely focused upon what I am doing. I live in a mindset that leaves no room for other things to distract me during a performance. As far as stories about our shows I can’t really recollect anything that would be of interest to anyone. Just endless bullshit about internal fighting, spitting on each other, not getting paid until Stuart threatened the club owner with bodily harm–the normal fare.
But on June the second ’97 Burning Witch appeared on 29 Live TV channel to perform live two songs which was filmed and – I think – aired. That old-fashioned fancy girl that introduced you looked really funny. How such a thing ever became possible, can you remember the details on it?
Yeah we did appear on a public access cable show called ’29 Live’ in 1997. That was toward the end of the band’s existence. Stuart knew the guy who had that show so he handled all the booking for it. The woman who introduced us worked for the TV station. That is the only known footage of BURNING WITCH performing. We also performed one song called ‘Siren Song’ which was never released. I was high as shit that night. I can see it in my face. It is painful to watch. A good performance, but not nearly what we were capable of in a live format. The stage monitoring was really bad in the studio–so we could barely hear ourselves. A real live show of BURNING WITCH was like the fucking END OF THE WORLD for all who were present. Much better in comparison to what you see on the TV show.
I believe it was! But there definitely must’ve been some people left on them, maybe only the quarter of a crowd, right? You had quite a black metal feeling so probably black metal fans attended your gigs, didn’t they? What the people who appreciated you was like, in general?
Y’know, it’s difficult to pin-down our audience. Partly because, as I stated before—NO ONE liked us. During the shows I would make eye contact with everyone who would return the favor and I would see a lot of fear in people’s eyes. Fear, disgust, confusion, all of these emotions were abundant in our audience. It was a situation of the band just not having the right venue to perform for people who wanted that kind of experience. We played a place called ‘China Club’ a lot. It was kinda our home club. People there got used to us. that is where we played with NAPALM DEATH and AT THE GATES. Even with their crowd, people didn’t understand us. The closest thing we played to a crowd that liked us was in Olympia, Washington at an old Volunteer Fire House. It was a community center kind of thing and we played with DARKENWOOD and SWARMING HORDES. The audience was full of crusty death-punk kids. You know the kind–vegan, dreadlocks, with patches sewn all over their clothes. They fuckin LOVED us! That show was toward the end of the bands history though. I think we actually were allowed to play our whole set! That was a rarity back then. In response to your other statement: I don’t think we had a Black Metal feeling at all.
The second record entitled “Rift.Canyon.Dreams” introduced the new band member – B.R.A.D. What was the cause of the drummer replacement?
Jamie Sykes left the band to move back to England, and Stuart knew Brad from the Seattle scene. Brad is a multitalented individual and a fucking great guy. He stepped in right away and really applied himself to the mission of the WITCH. With Brad on drums, we took on a more conceptual–less Sludgy feel. At the time I did not like this change, but now I can see that it was a precursor to todays DRONE scene. On that subject, I’ll go on record as saying that I do not like the ‘artsy’ direction of the DRONE genre. I jokingly call it ‘HIPSTER DRONE’ and regard it as highly pretentious and not doomy at all. It has become watered-down and boring. And it is NOT DOOM unless it is MENACING. Even then it leaves me wanting waaay more. DOOM in its true form should earn that title by making the listener DREAD THEIR OWN EXISTENCE. It has nothing to do with tempo or tuning, but it has EVERYTHING to do with INTENT and ATTITUDE. Don’t get me started talking about all these WEAK bands out there—YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE and YOU SUCK!
In 1996 you and O’Malley collaborated on the harsh noise SARIN project. What was the idea behind it? Can you tell us more about that?
It was basically me inviting O’Malley to join me in an experimental recording session that yielded a good result and therefore we had numerous other sessions. After the material was completed, he named the project SARIN and released it on Slaughter Productions in Italy without really asking me. It was a limited run cassette release. Neither of us got paid any money for it. It isn’t actually harsh at all by my standards and I did quite a lot of early digital manipulations which, for that time, were very advanced. I am presently working with my long-time friend David Dubh Black on a project very similar to that called DUBH59. We don’t really plan on releasing anything, just exploring sound for the sake of it.
There’s also one name associated with SARIN – SPHELTER – and the only info known about it is that it’s (or was) a noise project of yours. When have you started it and what was the fate of it?
SPHELTER is still an active project. I began it in 2006. It is comprised of experiments intended to elicit a specific biological response from the listener. Each ‘song’ is a separate experiment following the scientific method and engineered to produce a different reaction in the human body. I believe that most music that is called ‘experimental’ is actually ‘exploratory’ in nature. In order for it to be ‘experimental’ at all it would have to follow the scientific method, have a control, and actual research guiding it towards a specific result. This is not the case with most ‘experimental’ music. Most of it is just people ‘exploring’ ideas with no result in mind. So SPHELTER is my attempt to actually be an EXPERIMENTAL composer. The final result is almost unlistenable in the traditional sense. Very harsh at times and almost nonexistent at others. I have been working on it for years now and since I only want to release it when I have several SUCCESSFUL experiments completed, it might take a while longer to finish an actual record. I consider it to be where the vocations of SCIENCE and ART meet. I have learned a lot while doing this research.
But what can you say about the releases of your old records these days? Have you seen latest Burning Witch “Crippled Lucifer” re-release? Are you satisfied with cover artwork and such?
I feel really good about the legacy of BURNING WITCH. It is something I always felt strongly about so it is gratifying to see it gain success even posthumously. As far as the artwork goes–I love it. I think it supports the concepts and aesthetics in the music well. Steve O’Malley is a brilliant graphic artist. I also like the photos of my original lyric-book sheets. It is a beautiful package.
Back to the Witch for a few questions. What led the band to its end?
The beginning of the end was in late 1996 when Jamie Sykes moved back to England all of the sudden. I felt his absence like an empty hole in the fabric of time and space. He is such an amazing drummer. Believe it or not, HE is why the WITCH sounded dirty. After that Stuart brought Brad into the fold. Brad is an artist in his own right and an incredibly deep and genuine person. With Brad on drums the band took on a more modern, artistic, and minimal sound. This is all good and perhaps the natural evolution of things, but it never became what it could have. Then in 1997 O’Malley decided to move to Europe to pursue his graphic arts business. We had a meeting after he left and it was decided to call it quits. That was the beginning of a downward spiral for me. One which would last a decade, and take me to the brink of destruction more than once. It wasn’t until 1998 that we released a record at all. We reunited for 2 shows on the west coast at that time, but the magic was gone, and we all had other projects we were focusing on. Now I wish it never had to end. That was what they call ‘the real deal’.
It’s weird how all the articles about Burning Witch never mention O’Malley’s decision to move to Europe, explaining the fact of band’s breakup as though you quit the Witch to join Sinisstar. Was it pointless to continue without Stephen?
Yes that is weird. There are a lot of things that are untruthful in most of the articles I have read about BURNING WITCH. Stuart and I have discussed it over the years and it is disappointing. I believe it has everything to do with who provided the information and how they wanted to portray themselves and me. There is really no other reason to lie about the events that transpired except to make ones self look better and to scapegoat me to cover their tracks. I have even read a bio or two that were COMPLETELY fabricated to make my involvement seem unimportant! Or the various metal listings, written by O’Malley, where none of my current projects are referred to at all. haha Or the interview he did where he states that I am addicted to speed and living on the streets. It is hard to stomach, but true–what we have here is ruthless self-promotion with no regard for the truth. I have watched this go on for years and laughed quietly to myself. I really do not care what people think of me, but I think it might be time to set the record straight. The very name ‘Crippled Lucifer’ as well as ALL of the titles (except History of Hell) and ALL of the words/lyrics are my creations. For the record—I would have NEVER quit BURNING WITCH for ANY reason, EVER! It was decided that without the original core group of people still involved, it wasn’t really BURNING WITCH anymore. We had already replaced a drummer and I feel as though we should have gone on hiatus at that time. So what we had was 3 of the original 4 still involved with 1 departing. That left HALF of the original lineup still intact. Not enough. The WITCH, in my eyes, is Stuart Dahlquist, Stephen O’Malley, Jamie Sykes, and myself. Not some hodge-podge project with a revolving door of members. It was a solemn trust between the 4. It was time to call it quits. Yes, it was pointless to continue under the name BURNING WITCH without Stephen O’Malley.
I heard Tom G. Warrior invited the band to do the reunion show for Roadburn’s Only Death Is Real, what about that? Is there a possibility of Burning Witch’s resurrection?
The offer was presented by Tom G. Warrior to Stephen O’Malley and he declined it. The rest of us were notified by email after the fact. The 3 of us (Stuart, Jamie, and myself) would have liked to have reunited for old time’s sake and played on the same stage together for the first time in a decade, but we didn’t even find out about it until after the offer (a great honour) was turned down. In my opinion, there are too many divisions and hidden motives to have a healthy working relationship with Stephen at this point. It is probably for the better. See, the 3 of us didn’t want to do it for the money, we just wanted to be together in a band again. And as it stands we live in separate states–a thousand miles apart. A reunion would have made that possible. But, alas, it is not to be. As I said–probably for the better. It saddens me to say it but it is true. The days of BURNING WITCH are over.
That would be the perfect epitaph for the legendary Burning Witch but it wasn’t the end of everything. Tell us about the Sinisstar – loads and loads of people fond of the Witch and doom in general seem to be surprised – even shocked – when find out that you did vocals for this band often complaining like “and he left Burning Witch for such a crappy pop-band?!”.
In mid-1997, after the WITCH had been broken up for a month or so, I decided to start another band. I began playing guitar more and decided to look for a bass player and a drummer only, and make it a 3 piece. My original inspiration to begin making music was KISS and I decided I wanted to do a glam-metal band, but a little different. I immediately found a drummer, The amazing Ryan Tweedt (Tweedty) and we began practicing in an old abandoned burlesque theatre in Ballard, Washington (a neighbourhood in Seattle). It wasn’t long before I met my bass player, Shadow–we would become the best of friends. So the 3 of us just wrote songs and practiced all the time, eventually all of us squatting in the old theatre. We literally had NOTHING. Drugged-out squatting gutter-glam metalheads. Haha. In late 1997 I went to Los Angeles to meet with John Anderson, the old publisher for BURNING WITCH, in hopes that he could possibly help out what we now called SINISSTAR. He told me that a producer–Bob Marlette–was working with BLACK SABBATH and might be interested in us for some reason or another. A meeting was set up for a few days later.
I showed up at Cornerstone studios in Burbank, California around noon to find Rob Halford talking on the phone in the parking lot. I was taken aback but kept my cool. It turns out that Bob was at that moment in session with Halford on one of his solo records. They invited me to sit in for awhile and Bob and I would have our meeting later. I got to watch them work, so by the time I had my meeting I was in awe of Bob. The meeting went well. He told me he was looking for a new singer for BLACK SABBATH. Someone younger and with a new take on it all. A meeting and audition/jam session was set up for the next week. I was about to jam out with fucking BLACK SABBATH!!
So the sessions went well and I got along great with Iommi, Butler, and Appice. What a thrill!!! We rocked out for a couple days and I went back to my destitute life in Seattle. When I got back I didn’t tell ANYONE but my band mates what had happened. No one would believe me anyway! It is something I still do not really talk about. A very special moment in my life which I prefer to keep for my own. I got a call back after a couple of weeks–Bob wanted to see me! Away I went back to L.A. to meet with him again, this time with all expenses paid. Again the meetings went well. It turns out that, in the past 2 weeks, negotiations were begun that would bring Ozzy back into the fold of BLACK SABBATH! Of course I was excited to even know about this, but MY opportunities with Bob were not over. They had just begun. He said he wanted to hear what I was doing and after I played him our self-recorded demo, he said he wanted to produce our debut record and get us a good record deal! The next years seemed to fly by and saw us getting a deal with Geffen/Interscope, touring all over the country, and doing interviews for Rolling Stone and the like. The whole thing was a childhood dream turned into a nightmare, however. When it was all said and done, I had made and lost a million dollars, sold half a million records, and gotten fucked over or betrayed in just about every possible manner. I am glad I have had the experiences I have had, but I am also glad it is over. It took 5 years or so for the smoke to clear for me and just in the past couple of years I have begun to be motivated to write music again. I feel like I have a second chance to do something worthwhile. I now know that I am aware of some things others only dream of.
All in all I am proud of my work with SINISSTAR. But in my opinion it does lack a certain integrity and artistic identity. If I had it to do over again I would make the same decisions, but I would stick to my guns and not be influenced by so many people with their own motives regarding my work. The major-label situation is not one I wish to be a part of ever again, but at least I have been there and done that and I don’t have to wonder if that is what I want or not. Now I am doing what is right FOR ME.
Dammit, that’s just amazing! What can you say about Fred Durst and your tour with his band, Limp Bizkit?
Fred Durst is the biggest piece of shit I have ever met. He is not trustworthy as a business man and he stole riffs from my demo and used them on his own record. He has virtually NOTHING worthwhile to contribute to the world at all. A complete loser. I have said these things to his face. He also hangs out with the lowest class of industry thieves and pencil-necks in the business. Namely Jordan Schur. He is also a complete idiot and signs bands so that he and Fred can rip off their ideas and try to use them to resurrect Fred’s failing career. I have also said this to Schur’s face. Fucking assholes! Touring with LIMP BIZKIT sucked! Their fans sucked! Signing with Geffen/Interscope was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. Associating with Fred Durst was a huge error on my part. If I ever see him again without his bodyguards around I will pummel his face into gelatin for stealing my riffs! FUCK THOSE GUYS!
What was the main idea behind Sinisstar, if there was one? Where the influences came from? It differs so much from what you were doing earlier in the Witch musically, what caused such a change of course? Does the music form matter at all?
The main idea was to have a commercial metal band with MELODIC choruses and classic song structure. It differs from the WITCH musically because it was a commercial band. I have always liked commercial music and have no regrets in doing so. I like catchy melodies and even jingles. I also get into innovative record production and wanted this record to sound like Def Leppard’s PYROMANIA. Hahah. The WITCH was the WITCH and SINISSTAR was SINISSTAR. Two separate projects with different ideas behind them. The form of music only matters in that it should express the IDEAS intended by the artist. Conceptually and sonically. Whatever they may be.
As far as I know, Sinisstar was commercially successful, right? But what prevented the band from enjoying even bigger success comparable to your tour mates’?
Success is a relative concept. I wanted SINISSTAR to be much more successful than it ended up being. The bands history was a clusterfuck of problems ranging from label budgeting issues and hidden motives to inter-band politics. Pretty much the classic scenario. if you want to know the details just watch SPINAL TAP and imagine it is SINISSTAR in the film. Literally. As I said before: I am glad it is over. I have moved on finally and am fortunate to have had the experiences I had, but I am happier and more content without those people in my life.
Sinisstar’s lyrics and attitude were still “drug-related”, as the song name states, and overall quite sick and desperate. You also have mentioned the heroin addiction and downward spiral earlier in this interview. Can you shed the light of day upon this page of your life?
Most of the lyrics on ‘Future Shock’ are intended to be self-liberating and empowering. The concept is to be what you are and embrace your deviant side. The song ‘Drug Related’ is actually an anti-drug song. It speaks of the price you must pay for the false sense of completion drugs can give you. It was written during a time where I was quitting all drug intake. My life has been a roller coaster of drug abuse and self loathing. I know myself from many angles now. Presently I do not take any mind-altering or mood-altering substances into my body at all. SINISSTAR is intended to show both sides of a coin. There is always an opposite side. This is usually the price you pay for going against the norm of society.
Why did you decided to call Sinisstar quits?
Three of the band members quit due to the discouragement of getting dropped by our label. Sid, China, and Breck thought they could move on and move up but that’s not the way it worked out. After they all quit the band, we couldn’t get a deal right away until we put something else together. We (Shadow and I) ended up leaving Los Angeles in the middle of the night to escape owing thousands of dollars in debts we were left with. We ended up in Atlanta with nothing but what was in the van. We continued to write and record but decided to end it in 2004. He now has a project of his own: NOMADIC LUX BUM.
Rumours of reunion are circulating for some time on the web, do you have any comment on that?
That is not in the works at all. I’m pretty sure I burned all of my bridges regarding SINISSTAR. I am flattered that people would want us to reunite, but it will never happen. I heard the rumours as well. They were started by the aforementioned 3 band members that are responsible for the dissolution of the band. I think they just want people to talk about them. They are opportunists. They would do anything to make a dollar. That is just another reason why I wouldn’t be seen on the same stage with them again. Nah….put SINISSTAR to rest. It’s not gonna happen.
What did you do after Sinisstar broke up? Can you briefly describe your projects – ILLF8, SketchMovnt, SAR.DON.IK, Savant?
ILLF8 was a continuance of SINISSTAR with Myself, Shadow, and Rob Vial, A guy we met while we were holding auditions for SS. He was dedicated and moved to Atlanta with us. We wrote about 20 or so songs but never perfected the formula enough to get a deal. SKETCHMOVNT was a solo project of mine which scored a development deal with DefJam records. I worked on it for like a year or so and then they pulled their backing. I lost all of the recordings in that deal–they ended up owning them. SAR.DON.IK was to be an industrial metal outfit with harsh underpinnings but I got sick of industrial music along the way. We wrote some good stuff though. SAVANT was a continuance of SKETCHMOVNT after getting dropped by DefJam.
Did you know what your ex-Witch band mates were doing, have you been in touch with anyone of them?
Yeah we all keep in touch with each other with consistency.
Tell us about your collaboration with George Dahlquist first in ASVA and then in a full-fledged side project The Poisoned Glass.
Stewart and I wanted to work together again for years. When ASVA were cutting ‘What you don’t know is frontier’ (WYDKIF) in 2005 they had asked me to write lyrics and perform vocals for some songs on the record. I was in the middle of recording a SKETCHMOVNT record so I couldn’t do it. It was a bummer. That offer carried over into 2007 when I flew out to Seattle and recorded vocals for a song: ‘Termagent”. The song came out good but it was decided that WYDKIF would be better off as an instrumental record. I also felt out of place in the context of ASVA. My identity did not fully blend with the overtly modern and full-formed music. That is when Stuart and I decided to start something different for us both to be involved in. Thus ‘THE POISONED GLASS’ was born. It is a culmination of ideas from over the years. It is true DOOM in its purest form. It is droney but does not fall prey to the trappings so common in the ‘drone’ genre. I truly feel that ‘drone’ has become so watered down and tragically hip that it is no longer a valid form of ‘extreme’ music. I invite you to give it a listen. We should have something out in 2010.
What does the band name mean?
It is a reference to Socrates, and his mode of death.
Well, it’s hard to judge depending only on less than 2 minutes long excerption from the track on your myspace page but it sounds great. Hope to hear some new music as soon as possible! Will you release “Termagent” as The Poisoned Glass’ song?
No. The intent and aesthetic of THE POISONED GLASS differs from ASVA a great deal. Therefore the two are not interchangeable.
I know you have one more band called Moribosa (renamed to Bird’s Eye) currently, can you introduce us into the details on it?
MORIBOSA is actually my main focus right now. It is comprised of local musicians here in Atlanta. It is excruciatingly slow SLUDGE/DOOM in the classic sense of the words. It is extremely depressing music. I love it. I almost feel like I did in the WITCH when we rehearse. It is like the end of the world. I think for now we will remain pure and not record or release anything at all. The only way to hear it is to BE THERE.
Honestly I wish you changed your mind about that! Anyway it’s time to finish. Do you have any kind of the final words for the readers of the interview?
Well, Cyrill I would like to compliment you on the most well-informed and in-depth interview I have EVER been a part of. It was a pleasure taking part in it. As far as closing words I would just say to all the people interested in what I do: Thank you for your interest. I hope you get something positive out of it and that it makes an impact on your life in some way. Keep in mind that when all things are reduced to their true worth, all this means NOTHING. We create the meaning in our lives ourselves, and nothing is as it seems.
Thank you for your time and patience. May the New Year bring you luck and success in all your projects, hope to hear more tunes from you in 2010!
Interviewed by: Cyrill
Also available in Russian at: www.neformat.com.ua/articles/intervyu-s-edgy-59.html