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Dominique Persi of Stolen Babies

It’s rare to find a truly unique band these days, but Stolen Babies is one of them. LarryMac had the chance to meet with singer/accordion player Dominique Persi, to discuss the band, their history, their approach and their future.

LarryMac: Thanks for taking a moment from your preparations for us. For anybody who hasn’t had the chance to check you guys out yet, tell me about Stolen Babies.

Dominique Persi: We’re just an experimental rock band. We’ve had kind of a very long off and on band relationship with each other. We were in a theatrical band, we went our separate ways, got back together to make kind of a rock, metal band, went our separate ways again, came back together and then like 2002, we reformed again. I would say around 2005 is when it really gelled – everything came together. Did some touring in 2007-2008, went on a hiatus. And for the past year, we’ve just been touring. No parting of ways to be seen. I think we just needed to mature and realize how much we love doing it.

 

LM: Yeah, after three or four times you figure it was just meant to be and you should stop screwing around.

DP: That’s how you know it’s a good relationship, right?

 

LM: Tell me about Naught, which came out last year

DP: That was our second full-length album. That was the album coming back from the hiatus, so it’s pretty dark. It’s really a great representation of where we were at, at the time.

 

LM: You seem to have fun with your music. Do you find that, especially early on, people see you as a fun sort of joke band? Or that with a female singer and an accordion, you’re just a “gimmick” band?

DP: I’ve been playing accordion since high school. In one of those formations that I described earlier, when it was more like a rock/metal band, I didn’t want to play accordion, in that band, for that reason. I was playing accordion in other bands, I was in a New Wave polka band, and I liked having two separate identities: like “alright, I’m gonna play accordion in this band in these shitty dive bars and then Stolen Babies is gonna be this band that plays like the Roxy. Then one day I was like “I wanna be a serious writer, I really want to put all of myself into it and I just need to get over all of that shit and I just have to be myself”. I got over all of that and, it’s weird, I can’t really think like that anymore. The fact is that I know a lot of accordion players and they’re all amazing and I’m pretty shitty compared to most of them and we’re not necessarily the kind of music that I see, the friends that I know, the people I know, the bands that do a lot of more acoustic, gypsy, bluegrass, bluesy – this is a different accordion context and it’s not overkill…hopefully not…and it’s just the only instrument that I could contribute to the band.

 

LM: You’ve played with Lacuna Coil and Otep now. Who would you like to hit the road with? Who’s on your bucket list?

DP: I think, by now, I probably should have mastered this question. And I think my way of mastering it is saying “I don’t know, I can’t say”. First and foremost, I would just say cool people, bands that we like, people that we like and that obviously have some type of draw. People that we like, not douchebags.

 

LM: You’re one of the more “innovative” bands out there, what’s your advice to other bands starting out that don’t fit into a genre?

DP: It’s hard, when you don’t fit into a genre. But if you’re doing it because you NEED to do it, because you’ll go crazy if you don’t, then do it and just don’t give a shit. It’s always going to be hard, but if you’re doing it for yourself then no matter what anyone says, it’s not going to matter. Because the truth hurts, but when people are wrong, it’s laughable.

 

LM: I saw you in another interview and you noted that, with “Push Button”, you set the bar kind of high for your videos. “Second Sleep” didn’t disappoint at all, that was a cool video, too. Do you feel like there’s pressure on you to keep “upping the ante” each time?

DP: Pressure from ourselves. I don’t know what other people expect, but there is a pressure on yourself in the truest way that you can, within your means and beyond. So, yeah, there’s pressure because you just want to keep improving, moving forward, you don’t want to be stagnant. You don’t want to fall into a cliché like “oh, that’s what I expected them to do – there’s a dancing hamster, I knew that was coming”.

 

LM: Speaking of moving forward, what’s next for Stolen Babies?

DP: Well, this tour still has like a month left. So, in the near future, it’s doing this tour. After that, we’re talking about releasing an EP, before the next album, just to get something out there because it’s been a year. But no plans that have been booked, but we do plan on touring, we want to tour, it’s something that we feel is very important because a lot of people won’t necessarily get us until they see us live.

Steve Braun of Halcyon Way

Halcyon Way live

Halcyon Way recently rolled into town with Saxon and Fozzy. While some of the band members were off taking in the sights of Cleveland, LarryMac sat down with singer Steve Braun to get the skinny on the band, where they’re from and where they’re headed.


LarryMac: Thanks for sitting down with us. This is your second full-blown US tour, right?

Steve Braun: Yeah. This spring we were out with Udo for fourteen dates. Second time to Peabody’s!

 

LM: How has the reception been this time around? Or the first time?

SB: Really good. The first time was good, but this one’s even better. I think the crowds are a bit bigger this time for Saxon and for Fozzy. So there’s a real good mixture of different groups of people. A lot of the younger demographic on this tour and we seem to do really well with the young demographic.

 

LM: All the young Chris Jericho kids and all us old Saxon metal heads?

SB: Yeah, we’re having to convert the older Saxon metal heads, because some of the stuff we do is a little…

 

LM: “Progressive”?

SB: Yeah, a little out of the norm from what they like, with the growling vocals and stuff like that.

 

LM: You said you were with UDO, now it’s Saxon and up next is Fates Warning right?

SB: Yeah, in November.

 

LM: So you don’t screw around with any if those small tours? You just latch yourselves right on to the big names?

SB: Yeah, we’ve just been fortunate enough to be able to do that. I’d like to latch myself on to All That Remains and Killswitch Engage or Trivium. That’s what I would like to be able to do (laughs). But yeah, we feel very blessed to be able to do the stuff that we’ve been able to do.

 

LM: When you’re touring with such well-established acts, is it cool being able to get your stuff out there in front of more people or is it harder to convert them because a lot of them are standing around, waiting for the headliner?

SB: I think it’s cool because you get to take it out to people that may never have listened to your…maybe they’ll never listen to you again…but we just go out there for our half hour or for our forty-five minutes, depending on what kind of set list, set time we’ve got and we just do our thing and we hope people like it. The thing that’s nice about our stuff is it will appeal to a wide range of audiences because you can pull bits and pieces from it. We have the progressive, like Ernie’s (Topran) drumming style is progressive; Jon (Bodan), the way he plays guitar has that thrash base but also the nu-metal kind of like Chimaira and Killswitch and stuff like that, that’s popular and the growls, that will get some of the “new school”; and I sing – well, I’m just the singer – and everybody sings harmony and that’s kind of the 80s hard rock thing.

 

LM: Tell me about IndoctriNation, for anybody who hasn’t checked you guys out yet.

SB: Well, Building the Towers is our full-length, that came out the year before. We had to take some time off because Jon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. During that time when we did Building the Towers, we had songs left over that we were planning on releasing, we just didn’t want to do a double CD at the time, so we were just going to put out an EP later on. So it worked out, even though he was sick, we were still able to seem like we were moving forward musically. But that is our newest one, it’s an EP, has…Ernie? (to drummer Ernie Topran who has joined us) Six? Five new songs? Five new songs. There’s a cover of “Stand Up” by Steel Dragon – from the Rockstar movie, there’s one radio edit for “Age of Betrayal”, which is on our Building the Towers album, and then Jon does this techno/dubstep thing which is called Karbonblack – it’s kind of one of those “just for kicks and giggles”, but he did a remix on one of the songs and that’s on there, too.

 

LM: So, again, a little bit of everything.

SB: Yeah, it really does. The five songs, they’re definitely not throw-away songs at all, they’re not like those B sides. Some of those, it was like “man, I wish we had that on the album” on Building the Towers. “Man, I wish we could have put that on there”. So it wasn’t like we had these songs left over, so let’s just put it out for the sake of putting it out. These songs are actually good songs and some of them are even stronger maybe than something that was on Building the Towers.

 

LM: And you guys just debuted a video at Prog Power? Sweet ass video by the way.

SB: We’ve been getting great response. We’re up to like 30,000 – 31,000 views, something like that. And it’s been like a week and half…two weeks. For a relatively unknown band to be up that high, that’s saying something. It helps that it’s a great song and this guy named Chance White was our director and did all the video editing and stuff like that and he did an awesome job. When we were hearing the storyboard about it, it was like “oh man, that’s gonna sound cool”, but it could run that fine line of being really campy or being actually really cool. And it turned out really awesome and I know that we’re all super proud of it.

 

LM: Yeah, there’s that fear that “this is gonna get cheesy”. And then there’s that other fear that “there’s gonna be hot chicks in webs, are people gonna notice that we’re playing a song?”.

SB: (laughing) Yeah, it’s funny. Alicia, her name is Alicia Dove, she was the actress, the model there, the temptress, whatever you want to call her. She’s a friend of the band and a fan of the band. It was definitely a blessing to have her there because, I mean…a little eye candy, she’s a very pretty girl, that really didn’t hurt.

 

LM: That doesn’t turn off any potential fans at all.

SB: No.

 

LM: Now, you have the full-length, you have the EP out you just put out…

SB: The EP has been out about two…almost three years now, but we have an album that is being mixed right now. It’s in the can, it’s ready to go. We recorded fifteen tracks for this, I don’t know if we’re going to be putting out all fifteen on there or if we’re going to use maybe put out eleven or twelve and then maybe…

 

LM: Do another EP!

SB:I don’t think we’re gonna do that again. But we’re really psyched with it. If you’ve listened to our other stuff an then you listen to “Web of Lies”, we’ve gotten heavier, we’ve kind of trimmed down the fat and focused on songs that could be on the radio, timewise. Sometimes with metal songs and prog metal songs, they can just be five, six, seven minutes – we tried to trim it down to four minutes, in that range. It’s got a lot more stuff that’s gonna have a lot of ear candy to it. It’s gonna be awesome. We’re excited. I’m chomping at the bit to hear the mixes on them.

 

LM: Oh, so YOU still haven’t even heard the finished product?

SB: It’s been in the can for a little while. And as they were mixing it, we have this guy Seth Von Paulus who has worked with like Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys out in L.A. and he was doing the production on my vocals and somehow when Jon and I did the vocals in the studio, we had something messed up with the signal change so it was getting this echo-y effect and they couldn’t get it out of the mix. So between him and Lasse Lammert, who produced our last couple albums, between those two they couldn’t get anything to rectify the situation so I had to go in and recut all the leads. So, I did that middle of July. We sent it off to Seth and had him do his magic on the EQ level, just making sure everything was nice and tight. So “Web of Lies” is the only one I’ve heard.

 

LM: Well, if you’re going to say you’re progressive, just say the echo was on purpose. “We were going for that”. Like Metallica did on the drums for St. Anger. “Yeah, that was intentional.”

Ernie Topran: Yeah? How’d that work out for them? (all laugh)

 

LM: That’s all I’ve got. Any parting words from you guys?

ET: Just find us on Facebook and build our fanbase that way. If you like what we’re doing, tell your friends so more people will come out to the shows and we can come out and play for you guys.

SB: Yeah, we can tour more. The more buzz we can get about our name and what we do.

 

Dave Brockie of Gwar

LarryMac sat down with our friend, Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus), for another update on the Gwar universe.  Larry even managed to get a couple of words in, but this time Dave basically took the ball and ran with it, giving the lowdown  on moving on after the death of Cory Smoot (aka Flattus Maximus) last year, as well as the upcoming album.

 

Dave Brockie: (finishing up a conversation back stage as we sit down) So, yeah, that was the one, the only Brent Purgason, who will be taking the stage as the brother of Flattus Maximus on the fall tour. He’s not going to be here tonight; actually, tonight is going to be the last time that Gwar performs as a four-piece, so this is the last time we do this with just Mike (Derks) on guitar (aka Balsac the Jaws of Death), but after an arduous, year-consuming search we finally settled on Brent because he was the most kick-ass guitar player that we’ve tried out and he also had the added bonus of being from Richmond and he was a really good friend of Cory’s (Smoot) and it was just a perfectly natural fit. We kinda knew that from the beginning, but we really wanted to try out a lot of people. We, as much as our fans, are very aware of the fact that Cory was just one of the greatest guitar players, period. Because of that Flattus suit, he’s probably going to be overlooked and never get the respect he deserves from the music community just because of the stigma that comes from being in Gwar: “you’re just that monster band”. But he is far from that, he was an absolutely brilliant guitar player, and the loss struck us very hard. We wanted to try out as many quality people as possible, but I’m really glad that we ended up with a Richmond local. You know, because we don’t have to fly somebody in all the time (laughs).

It’s been a fuck of a year, it’s been a tough one. It would have buried a lesser band. It definitely would have, but for some reason, we’ve been able to hang in there.

So, we go back home after this is over, we finish our preparations for our fall show that we’re getting ready to do. Then we’ll come out again in the spring. It kinda screwed everything up. We normally would have had a new album out by now and this show tonight would be a brand new show and there would be a brand new album and a whole tour based on that album. As it is, that kind of all went down the toilet. But some cities, because they want to have Gwar come around once a year, they have to unfortunately get a repeat show. Which we don’t like to do. We want to have a new show every time we come to a place, but everybody understand the circumstances were a little different this year. They’re gonna have to suck it up and just deal with it. We’re gonna be fucking great anyway.

But, I’ll tell ya, Brent is an amazing fucking guitar player. You know, all of our songs are written for two guitars. Mike has done and amazing, AMAZING job – all the guys – I can’t believe how bold this band still sounds, just with the four-piece. But I’m looking forward to having the full guitar attack back and our new dude is metal as fuck, just look at him (laughing maniacally). Pustulus will rule and he’s gonna have a mighty tour this fall – but we gotta hang on just a little bit longer. So yeah, tonight’s show in Cleveland is our last show as a four-piece.

 

LarryMac: (chuckling) I’m not sure if that’s good or bad for us, but we’ll take it.

DB: We much rather would have had a new album out by now and, you know, not had Cory pass away, obviously. But we’ve had a hell of a run over the years and it’s been amazing how much good luck we’ve had so it was inevitable that at some point something bad was going to happen to us. Considering how horrible we’ve been to everybody else, I’m surprised we didn’t get MORE crucified, like “Ha, Gwar finally got what was coming to ‘em” or shit like that. The weird thing about the Flattus character is he’s always had a kind of affinity with extraneous suffering. When the character was created, the first guy who played him, Dewey (Rowell), his personality just kind of lent itself to him being picked on. Unfortunately, that was just the way it went down. Then Pete (Lee) took over the task and he was the one that got shot during a car-jacking attempt. And he almost died. Then we had Zach (Blair), who’s now in Rise Against – Zach moved on from Gwar, but he’s still a really dear friend of ours – and I think he was the only person that ever played Flattus that was quick enough to get out of the rubber suit before something really bad happened to him, so he really made the right decision. But Cory really took the character and made it his own. And the way he made it his own was by shutting up and letting his guitar do the talking and there’s not a single day that we don’t remember that. But Gwar has survived. Gwar is continuing to rock on, for better or worse – it is what it is. I hate to give Cleveland a repeat show, but everyone understands. Hopefully. Interaction with the press will help spread the word (laughing).

 

LM: (laughing) Anything I can do to help, man. That’s what I’m here for. Now, this year was the second or third Gwar-B-Q…

DB: It was the third! Third in a row that we pulled off, so that was pretty good. We’ve had them, sporadically, for 25 years. It wasn’t until three years ago that we decided we were gonna try and bring it out and try to get it to be more like an annual festival. Last year, we gotta kinda fucked at the last second and they jacked all our permits and we ended up having to transfer it indoors and it really sucked but we still pulled it off. But this year everyone agreed that an indoor bar-b-q was not quite what we were looking for, but we pulled it off this year. It went really great, we had almost 2000 people, it was a ton of fun, we had two stages out there, people playing in the pool, grilling meat and all that crap. There were still some things that had to be worked out, for instance, we ordered 10,000 beer cups – you know, 12 ounce beer cups and we’re like “cool, 12 ounces of beer” – and we get the cups and we couldn’t believe how small they looked. We’re like “12 ounces fits in that fucking thing?” – it was terrible, we were like (meekly) “it’s only three dollars for beer…they’re miniature beers”. But that’s okay, everyone understood – they just had to buy two at once and that’s a 24 ouncer, right there!

 

LM: Now, as the long term plan, are you doing the Gwar-B-Q as a way to get yourselves off the road and just make everybody come to you guys?

DB: Well…it does seem like a good idea, doesn’t it? I would like to not tour so relentlessly as we have done. Now that we have stopped kinda going to Europe and Australia and stuff – we just noticed that we’d spend all this money getting overseas and we play in front of ten people in Spain. Yay, it cost us $30,000 to get all our shit over here and we’re playing in front of ten people. So we just made a decision to concentrate on kicking ass in America and doing really great albums and if we can throw a festival once a year where everyone came from all over the place to see us then that would be awesome. And that’s kind of what we’re slowly doing with the Gwar-B-Q. Right now, we’re about halfway through the new album, we have thirteen songs written, but just because they’re written doesn’t mean we’re ready to record them – we have a lot of work to do and we’re really not going to be able to get back to it until December, so basically we want to break in the new character this fall, with the fall tour and then we’ll take it out again next year in the spring tour and we’ll finish the album in between those two tours. Then the new record will come out in the summer and then by next fall, boom – we’ll have a whole new show to support that and we’ll be all ready to go.

 

LM: So pretty much you’re just taking some time off, slacking off…

DB: Yeah, exactly! No, we have more work to do than EVER. I swear to God, sometimes I wake up in the morning – or even worse, like last night, I couldn’t even go to sleep, I literally did not sleep a wink all night, I just kept tossing and turning and looking at the clock, because there’s just so much shit going on and so much on my mind, that sometimes it does become overwhelming. Luckily, that’s only like one out of every fourteen days or so, I’ll have a day like that. So, nothing to worry about. But it’s quite a workload and we’ve always driven ourselves really, really hard and really just abused ourselves to the point of just…I don’t know. Any Gwar fan sees what we go through on a nightly basis, then we pack it all up, throw it on the truck, drive all night and do it again. It’s pretty crazy. It’s amazing that we’ve hung in there for so long and – besides Cory passing away – this was actually a really good year, this past year, for Gwar. We all did really well, made some money, Jimmy Fallon, so there’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of good reasons to keep doing Gwar beyond just making records and touring and that’s what we’ve been trying to do is get into some other areas and we’ll just see. With all these years of doing Gwar, we’ve built up a lot of respect amongst a lot of people. A lot of people just think that it’s past high time that Gwar had a fucking Gwar movie, Gwar had a video game, Gwar had a comic book – had all those things that you would expect, like if a band like Slipknot was more creative, what they would have. There really hasn’t been a band that was so into their characters since, like, Devo. Not even Kiss or Slipknot…

 

LM: And even Kiss managed to make a shitty movie.

DB: Yeah, exactly! Give me the budget for “Phantom of the Park”, I’ll take it any day. Maybe them keeping it simple was the thing that they figured out that we never could. We never knew how to keep shit simple. We always made things way more complicated than they were supposed to be, because that’s what kept it interesting to us.

 

LM: See? You should have done it like them: made the characters and then called it a day. But you had to come up with stories and fight penguins and every album has got to be a whole different thing.

DB: Yeah, we never got to the point where “this is the show, this is the show we’re pretty much gonna do for the rest of our lives” and we’re just gonna roll with it like that. We always wanted to make it interesting to ourselves, first and foremost.

 

LM: Do you have a feel for the new album yet?

DB: Oh yeah, I’ve got the whole story all worked out. It’s really fucking awesome. I’m gonna spend a lot of time talking about it in the future, but I can kinda take a run at it right now. What the deal is, is Oderus is laying around the coffin one day and he has this vision of the future, where the human race has been completely wiped out by some kind of apocalypse that occurred – whether it’s a solar flare or a man-made nuclear exchange, he’s not sure. But he knows in the future, the human race was pretty much wiped out except for two types of people: the people that could afford to move underground and live in their air conditioned survival bunkers and the humans that just happened to survive on the surface and had to tear back humanity out of a savage world. What happens is these two groups of humans evolve in very different ways. Whereas the humans on the surface would appear to be disadvantaged because they’re just clawing up using bear skins and bone knives, actually it’s the humans that are underground that are really de-evolving because they’re down there gobbling stem cells and taking weird drugs and inbreeding and growing new organs for themselves and they really start to mutate into hideous creatures. Then they start going back to the surface world and stealing humans and bringing them down below and like “oh, how do you feel love? And just hurt it until it tells us what love is”. So it really becomes this horrible vision of the future. But then Oderus is just getting into it, looking into his crazy machine that can see through all time and then he realizes that these creatures are trying to find the secret to immortality. That’s why they’re doing all these horrible experiments on the humans and they used to be humans themselves, and they consider themselves the perfect humans – they call themselves the Perfects. At that point, Oderus realizes that the Perfects have recognized the fact that Gwar is immortal. So they’re constructing a machine to go back in time and find Gwar and destroy Gwar and find the secret to our immortality. So it’s kind of told like an offhand story Oderus would tell until he figures out that he’s actually in the crosshairs. Basically, what the album is, is it’s the story of the humans on the surface, the sick humans underneath the ground that are obviously a representation of the government gone crazy – it’s a story about the struggle of humanity in the face of overwhelming odds. In that sense, it’s the story of our band – who were faced with losing Cory and somehow had to carry on. I’m using the story as a metaphor, really, to tell the story of what it was like for us to go through that. So that’s kind of the idea for the new album and I think it’s pretty heavy. The guys are behind me 100%. It’s been taking a while to really get the idea formulated – that’s maybe the fifth time I’ve said it, like run through it with somebody. But all the lyrics are really awesome, really sick, really fucked up. These creatures are horrible because they go underground and they take animals with them as well and start having sex with them. They start considering “it would be good to have eyes like an eagle” or “ sniff like a dog”, so they start doing all these genetic experiments and in doing so – they’re trying to become prefect humans, but what they’re really doing is turning into these sick, disgusting creatures. It’s gonna be a deep one and I’m really looking forward to a point where I can get off the road and just really concentrate on that and doing the art and doing a really good job on it.

 

LM: At first, it sounded like Oderus got stoned and fell asleep in front of the TV watching “The Time Machine”.

DB: Yeah. I wanted it to be like that at first and then when he realizes that Gwar is the target, that’s when the story gets some teeth. It’s kind of interesting the way that happened was I had the original idea and I was going out into the shop a lot and talking to the guys and they were listening to me and they were really digging the idea, but the one day Matt (Maguire) was like “well how do we get Gwar into the story?” and I was like “I’m not really sure yet”. I was sure we’d figure it out sooner or later. He’s like “why don’t you have it so they want to get Gwar, they want to take Gwar’s power from them somehow?” and it was a really classic example of how the Slave Pit, we grow off of each other’s ideas and if it hadn’t been for me having that conversation with Matt that day, I’d still be fucking around trying to figure out what the story was all about. Like the creatures get really fucked up. They start learning how to like breathe methane and shit like these crazy creatures that live at the bottom of the ocean next to these volcanic vents that are eating minerals – they can’t even breathe air anymore, so they come up out of the ground in these horrible warmachine death droids, they look around for humans to bring underground and do their horrible experiments on. Yeah, it’s definitely me smoking too pot and falling asleep in front of “The Time Machine” (laughs). We’ll see if people can make the leave and understand the story I’m trying to tell – it’s going to take a lot of doing. At any rate, it’s going to be a crushing musical album.

 

LM: Sounds like that’s going to be a bitch to translate into a stage show, though.

DB: Yeah, I’m not quite sure how we’re gonna do it yet but we’re gonna do it.

Emilie Autumn

Emilie Autumn

Tim had the opportunity to listen to Emilie Autumn’s new CD “Fight Like A Girl”. It’s the continuation of her “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girl” story. It was well produced, and a fun listen. He once again had the chance to talk to Emilie about her work, specifically on “F.L.A.G.” Here’s his take, and questions on some of the best tracks from the CD. Also, Emilie shared what’s to come when she visits us in Cleveland on September 19, 2012, and future endeavors as well.

Tim Rader: It’s wonderful to speak with you again. Your new CD sounds great! It reminds of a Broadway cast recording soundtrack. The vocals are just outstanding. The overall blend of music and voice is perfect. So, it seems that you put to tape the feeling of your show.

Emilie Autumn: That’s what it’s supposed to be. Exactly what it is. Thank you, that tells me I did something correct. In that it should be a soundtrack for part of the musical that I’m turning my book into.

This album is maybe a third of this whole musical that I’m completing over the next two years. This previews what’s to come. It’s meant to be a live experience, it’s meant to be a soundtrack. That was part of how it makes sense that we toured before the album was released. If you were to go to a Broadway show, you would see the show before you would buy the music for it. It’s not like you buy the album and go to see the show, like you normally would for a rock release. I don’t really have anything to do with the music industry, in that manner. So, I can put anything out whenever or wherever.

 

T.R.: “Take The Pill” seems to be a commentary about our society’s medicating itself to death. Did you consciously think about that while your were writing it?

E.A.: The whole Asylum book is a commentary on society itself as well. It’s the whole point to the show and the music looking into the past, all of it is a metaphor. It’s sort of a snide way to show what’s going on now. Somewhat more clearly than just saying, “Hey this is what’s happening”, while nobody listens. If you can paint this picture, and people can take it more into themselves. Like this song. It is of course about a true story, like in the book. It’s the Victorian alter-ego with me in the hospital and sort of what’s going on now in our world.

I find the most interesting point of the song is the necessity of those pills, but at the same time your hatred of them. That inner conflict that I feel all the time personally. I don’t take drugs, or unnatural things into my body. However, I take these drugs that I’ll always have to take, I’ll always be on something. For as overmedicated as we all are, there are some of us that have to be on these things. They suck, and have bad side-effects, and you do these things. So, it makes sense that I’m singing this song in the voice of the protagonist, as the victim conflicted over having to take the pills. It’s like the least of the evils. With the technology we have now, and testing that’s done – unfortunately on animals, and rats specifically…there’s a whole other issue – I’m on this stuff. I’m all about not testing on animals, and rats in specific. They’re so a part of my life and like in the story and career. I’m aware that the stuff that keeps me alive is tested on them. I know too, that they are used because they have like 99% similar DNA to us. So, that’s another inner torment thing.

 

T.R.: “Girls! Girls! Girls!” has a cool vaudeville feel, even at one point sounding like a “Yankee Doodle Dandy”-type line. A bit of xylophone in there, too. It’s interesting with the speaking parts mixed in, again much like a Broadway performance piece.

E.A.: I am more proud of that song than anything I’ve ever done! So many things on this record were new to me. Like, flutes, horns, and xylophones. It’s always been very string, chamber type music before. A lot of the voices on here aren’t even mine, in that I’m taking on all these different characters. For example, I’m being the host in the song.

 

T.R.: Is “I Don’t Understand” a love story hiding within the horror story going on? How did you come up with the idea to add that theme? Is it a continuation of the overall musical style?

E.A.: All of this stuff is parts of the book. However, it all does stand alone as well. You have this young photographer who comes in to take pictures of these girls. He thinks he’s doing it for something good. To help spread the word about the humanity that this place is trying to help. It’s a spark of romance that’s ill-fated. It’s the respite in all these horrors that are happening.

Also, it’s interesting that I’m playing both voices in this story. I feel like that’s a different person, that I feel like I’m not “Emilie Autumn” in this. It’s one of those things that if I pulled it off right then it’s this beautiful interesting thing. This little love duet that’s happening. If I don’t, then it’s embarrassing and you cringe. So, hopefully it’s the first way, and not the second way.

It’s definitely something that can be out of context. So, that’s a reason to buy my book. So, you see how it all comes together in the story.

 

T.R.: “Time For Tea” is certainly a very strong song. Your vocals become harsh and overdriven throughout it. Tell me how that went while recording it? It seems on most of the CD your voice is more controlled.

E.A.: It’s not a happy song. Well, yeah, it is a happy song in that it’s about victory and freedom. Getting justice in the form of revenge. You don’t always have to forgive and forget like we are told. That song is definitely one of my favorites on this record, and to perform. A lot of the record was finished and ready to go before we went on tour. Then after the tour we went back in because it had gotten so much more badass, and seeing the audience response. Working the vocals every night, I just had to go back in and put in much more rage, so that it would match what we did on stage.

In the story the girls take over the asylum, and get revenge over their oppressors, get rid of the people that were locking them up. Then, the whole record becomes a flashback of what led to them to that moment. You’re at the top of the stairs, and the CD is the steps that lead up to the tea party massacre. So, everything that I’ve done from before is leading up to this. Stuff from Opheliac, and 4 O’clock E.P. all are part of this story. So, it all comes back to this point of the inmates fighting back.

 

T.R.: “One Foot In Front Of The Other” offers hope at the end of a very dark story. Is this the beginning of your next project in the story’s evolution?

E.A.: The funny thing is, for those who know the story from the book, this isn’t the end. They think that everything is okay now that they’ve overcome the oppressors. In the story, it isn’t that everything is wrapped up into a pretty little bow. I needed to end there though so that the story could continue later. Also, it’s about how do we continue after we go through things in our life? When you go through struggles, and when you come through them, what’s next?

 

T.R.: After performing these songs for a while, and now having the material down to tape, how do you plan on giving further life to them live? Can you give us another peek into what we maybe seeing on September 19?

E.A.: Even though it’s only been a few months ago that we first debuted the new material, we only have been touring it for a few months. It’s not like we’ve been playing it for a year or anything. So, it’s still new. The beautiful thing is that there’s so much that hasn’t been done yet, like “Scavanger” that haven’t been performed yet. So the girls and I have a few surprises for the audience. “Scavanger”, which is one of my favorites because it’s so dramatic, and that I get to play the bad guy. It’s going to be very intense and creepy on stage. We wrote to be the performance for me and Captain Maggots who is an amazing stilt-walker, which didn’t get utilized in the last tour, and it is in this one. In “Scavanger” I am singing the song of this grave-robber on stilts in this monstrous costume. So it visually represents the monster that I am inside as the person singing this song. This person who will do evil things to you. She is basically echoing my movements, and is visually on stage what I am. That was written to be an act between us.

More importantly, let’s talk about the costumes that we’ll be using, since that’s what I’ve been working on for the last month like 24/7. I’m making new wardrobe for everyone. That’s a lot of corsets to be sewing. These fingers will be bloody stumps by the time we go on stage. Most importantly, the girls and I will look awesome, and that’s what counts!

So, in 2014 in London’s West End will be the whole production will be put together. Everything I’ve been working on and for, has been training for my production. When I announced that during the European tour in London it was a standing ovation. They were screaming so loud. I couldn’t believe it they were going crazy over a musical!

 

In conclusion, check out Emilie Autmn’s new record Fight Like A Girl. It may not be a regular rock CD, but it is powerful. The production is terrific, her vocals have power. The beauty in it lies within the story, and as Emilie has stated, that’s the important part. Also, if you want to delve further into Emilie’s collective works, check out Opheliac, 4 O’Clock E.P. and her book, “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls”. It is a journey into her own personal story told through the myriad characters she brings to life.

JC Koszewski

UniteCLE promises to be THE event this summer, with dozens of Cleveland’s greatest local acts – past and present uniting for one great weekend of music, mayhem and memories. Doug tracked down local promoter/organizer/all-around swell guy and man about town, JC, to get the lowdown on the show as well as his new band, Killing It, and the state of the music scene in general.

 

Doug: What’s happening, man?

JC: Doing great. Just driving up to the Shroomroom.

 

Doug: Just so you know how metal this interview is, I’ll admit that I am at the park pushing my 18 month old in a swing.

JC: That’s hardcore. Sticking to the streets.

 

Doug: I didn’t realize how out of touch with the music scene I was until I started seeing the teenagers hanging at the park with band t-shirts I’ve never heard of and God awful haircuts. I feel old.

JC: Yeah, I mean, now you have the Warped Tour kids and the dub-step kids, but really they are all the same.

 

Doug: I have been out of the scene for several years gaining weight, losing hair, and trying to put together a band I can be proud enough to play out with, but I do remember one of the worst things about shows was trying to get bands to work together and put egos aside. So far, how has your interaction with the bands been and how do you think this fest will work with so many people involved?

JC: Yeah, it’s sort of insane. There has been stress, but it’s stress for a good reason. I think that because it’s UniteCle and we are trying to bring everyone together the bands have been a lot more humble. I haven’t heard too much grumbling about when each band will play or what stage they will be on.

 

Doug: Do you think that good attitude will continue even through the weekend when all the bands are jammed into small backstage areas and egos start flaring?

JC: Well, the way the shows are organized, each group has bands that are friends already. It’s sort of like having 7 big shows over the entire weekend, and I think it should do all right.

 

Doug: You’ve been around the scene for over 15 years (as you mentioned in the video you posted on facebook) what has fueled you to put together UniteCle at this point?

JC: I know that Cleveland Music Fest started with good ideas, but has gotten so far away from its original purpose the last few years. Everyone has been burned by those guys and it was kind of just…there, you know? I saw that the scene was wide open and that there was a demand for something like this. Before we even started work on this, I had planned on doing a website based on the Cleveland music scene. There was talk about organizing a group of bands, kind of like a mafia, where we agreed to only play with each other and support each other and keep growing and including more people and clubs, but I was worried that we’d end up starting out being so segregating that it would’ve worked against itself. Creating a cool kids table never works out.

 

Doug: That makes sense. Saturday you have Mushroomhead, the Spudmonsters, Face Value, and Kung Fu Grip in one night. What does it mean to you to see these bands together again?

JC: You know we did all come from a scene that was pretty spectacular. It really was special and in its time it stood above what everyone else was doing. It gave us all a reason to get away from our day to day problems. I hope that a lot of the older fans coming out to see these bands will jump on board with what we are doing, and I hope the younger fans, seeing these bands for the first time, can be exposed to our yesterdays as we Unite Cleveland into the future.

 

Doug: That’s one of the things that struck a chord with me when I saw your promo video on Facebook. Yes, these are bands that are from Cleveland’s past, but there’s no reason we can’t connect them to what’s coming up for our scene and meld them into one. A lot of bands have come up under the shadows of some of the big names and it’s about time to embrace these bands on their own going forward.

JC: We are also putting out a comp with this event, so I am going to Shroom’s practice space to work with Skinny to figure out how best to do it. It’s been a long time since Cleveland has seen an Industry comp or a Kingsbury Run CD. I want to make sure that all the bands stand on their own. I would love to be able to just put out a disc full of young energetic bands, but I also see some of the same bands that play out each week not selling tickets either. It is pretty obvious when a band is putting in the effort and when they aren’t.

 

Doug: I hate when people do this in interviews but I’ll say two words and tell me what comes to mind: “Jim Lamarca”.

JC: Meatballs.

 

Doug: Yeah, I guess that was an obvious one. You and Jim are working together in a band called Killing It. How did you guys come together, and where do you hope to take the band in the next year?

JC: Well, we are in the middle of replacing our drummer. We added the drummer from one of my old bands, Dead Even, so we’ve been joking that Killing It is Dead Even, but with a meatball on bass.

 

Doug: So it’s Dead Even, but even tastier.

JC: I’ve been looking for a tagline and I think you just came up with it. I just need a picture to post of Jim eating a giant meatball.

 

Doug: That shouldn’t be too hard to find.

JC: Heh, getting back to your question – Jim and I talked about starting a band shortly after he left Chimaira. Hardcore has pretty much died out in Cleveland besides Ringworm, who survive everything, and Jason Hagar. We literally started the band over video chat. Jim was on one end playing beats and we were riffing on the other. It started as a hardcore band, but over the last year we have morphed. I think there is parts of our music for fans of Integrity, Sick of it All, and Chimaira. Our goal over the next year is to release a full length. We are working with Rob Arnold in his studio, called Bomb Factory.

 

Doug: What is one reason everyone reading this should check out the shows on August 24th to the 26th and where’s the best place to get tickets and info?

JC: This is a festival put on by fans and not promoters, so we will go the extra mile to make sure things go well. On Friday, look at the line-up: you have Ruled By Reason, Ventana, Solipsist, and Fallen Captive all on one bill. Add in Jackie’s new band, Unsaid Fate, as well. On Sunday we have 10 Thousand Cadillacs with Iphonic for a cool mix of new and old. For info go to facebook.com/unitecle and all the bands have tickets available.

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