February 8th, 2010
What happens when you take two bands that are successful in their own rights and merge them? For some it’s a recipe for disaster, but not so for The Forgotten Falling who are not only a successful band in their own right, but may one day eclipse the success of the two bands whose merger gave them life.
Figment News: You originally started as a side project that was put together by your record label. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that all came about?
Hayden Frasco: The record label proposed the idea to both Sanguine Symphony and Whispers to the Fallen. Wayne and I agreed because we felt we were finished with emo. Complaining about your life gets old after a while, you know? We wanted to do something heavier and stronger, as well as turn up the “Goth” vibe. We were also listening to a lot of Whispers to the Fallen at the time.
Wayne Smith Jr.: Hayden thought it was a good idea and I was never really the leader. Since we were working with a goth metal band I figured that the music was going to be heavier and, as Hayden said, emo gets old after two albums.
Miyako Rey: (Answers translated by Yumishi Rey from Japanese to English) I loved the idea to work with another band. Working with Dmitri in Whispers to the Fallen was hard because he had so much artistic temperament, and Virgil was constantly trying to play the majority of the solos that were supposed to be traded off between he and I. Working in Whispers to the Fallen can sometimes be a battle of sorts.
Malcolm Smith: That’s why I left too.
(Everyone stares at Hayden).
Hayden: So yeah. That’s the bulk of it.
Figment News: What was it like merging two bands like that? Did it lead to creative differences or did you all immediately click?
Hayden: There were minor things. Some disagreements about what scales to use, how many measures should make up a part, lyrics, etc. But mostly the band had a single vision. In the end, I wanted to write, Miyako wanted a different sound, Virgil wanted to shred, Malcolm wanted to profit, and Wayne wanted to bang out some double-bass, and it all added up to a sort of pre-metal, as it was something of a challenge to get the lyrics to not sound emo anymore.
Figment News: Is it hard splitting your time between 2 bands?
Hayden: It was, but after the poor sales of Sanguine Symphony’s “Autumn on Fire” I decided to put Sanguine Symphony on hold. I wonder what they’re doing now…
Miyako: Not really. You see, I let Virgil take care of most of the stuff for WTTF, and he felt busy so he eventually left and I was finally left to take over lead guitar for the Forgotten Falling.
Malcolm: Virgil and Miyako were always a little head to head. People thought they were the next Herman Li and Sam Totman, but there was a lot of jealousy and sefishness behind the scenes. Anyway, as for me, it was very stressful and I eventually left for the band with more fans, and the one that was more my style.
Figment News: Your label classifies you as Trance Metal, but it sounds to me as if there are a lot of different musical elements at play in your music. How would you describe your sound?
Hayden: We had some screamo and some alternative elements, and when Yumishi joined she brought the whole trance vibe into the mix. I loved it. Soon afterward I discovered the Japanese Melodic Death Metal band Blood Stain Child, and they were doing some major techno metal, so I started learning to program and I added break-beats, techno loops, and effects to the music. They became a huge influence on our sound. Some mainstays of our sound are and always will be screaming/clean vocals, prominent drumming, breakdowns, some “calm before the storm” acoustic breaks, and Miyako’s daughter-of-Alexi Laiho leads, but everything else is always original.
Yumishi Rey: When I first joined the band I didn’t like death metal, but they eased me into it because there’s just undeniable power and melody in their songs and lyrics. I also liked how my keys sounded with the rest of the band, and it was a wicked workout for my fingers. (Laughs).
Wayne: Ever since I met him I’ve always thought that, in addition to being a riff-capable and solid guitarist, Hayden was one of the best vocalists in recent times, so I think his vocals really push the band to new levels. Name a style of singing: melodic harmonies, death growls, shrieks, screams, falsetto, maniacal laughter, and even Banshee wails, this guy can do it all.
Hayden: (Laughs) Oh stop, man.
Yumishi: No he’s right! It’s true.
Figment News: With two lead singers, Hayden and Miyako, how do you decide who will sing which parts?
Miyako: It’s obvious that Hayden is the main vocalist of the band. I just started singing on “This is Sayonara”. I wanted to sing, and Hayden wanted some female vocoder-esque vocals like on Blood Stain Child’s “Idolator” album, and so originally my singing was always affected and ambient over being out in the foreground. On “Neo-Gothic Metropolis” I started singing some harmonies to Hayden, and I kept singing some more of the ambient stuff. The only singing I did on “This is Sayonara” was the last song on that album in Japanese all by myself.
Hayden: It’s really that some parts would just sound better with a female singer. Especially that Miyako has that rich, Japanese/Russian accent. It makes it sound really cool. In addition, sometimes we’ll play a cover song that’s just too high for my register, like the A Skylit Drive one.
Figment News: You guys are like a mini-United Nations with members hailing from U.S, Russian, Japanese and Britain. Do you think that adds to your sound?
Malcolm: Sort of, I guess. I brought some British slang into the lyrics if that’s anything.
Yumishi: How does that lyric in Shotgun Symphony go again?
Hayden: “The tart that’s all 6’s and 7’s?”
Yumishi: Yeah that one.
Wayne: Anyway, Miyako’s accent does affect things, but wherever you go in the world metal is metal.
Hayden: Yeah, but some of it’s in the image. When people see two American goth dudes, a British long-haired metal bloke, and two Asian sisters, it’s more compelling than the standard metal “Four dudes with long hair that wear black” image. Plus, I guess the Asian part is a little bit of a plus for Minagoroshi fans. After all, though Miyako and Yumishi were born in Russia, they consider themselves Japanese.
Miyako: Minagoroshi… I love that band.
Yumishi: I think the Russian vibe is really nonexistent. You can hear it when Dmitri sings in Whispers to the Fallen, but with Miyako and I our parents really instilled in us our Japanese heritage. For high school, they sent us to boarding school in Japan.
Figment News: Hayden, much has been made of your attempted suicide a number of years ago, in fact it’s even mentioned in your official bio. Why did you decide to make this public and how has it effected your music over the years?
Hayden: To be honest, I made it public to get some publicity for the band. It also helped me get it off my chest, but it was mostly to get noticed. It’s come through in many of Sanguine Symphony’s lyrics especially, as the emotions of wanting to end your own life are some of the most powerful you can ever feel. The Sanguine Symphony song “Hero” was about Wayne because he saved me before I could actually finish killing myself, so I owe my current existence to him.
Wayne: I had to talk to him and tell him that we had a band going, and that he had so much to live for. He was resistant at first, but the next thing I knew he had written three songs about the experience. It was also some of the best material I had ever seen. I was like “Damn.”
Hayden: I think if I had never attempted suicide, some of our best songs would have never been written, and If Wayne hadn’t arrived in time they definitely would never have been written.
Figment News: You just finished up the last few dates of the No Holds Barred Tour in January. What was that experience like?
Hayden: It’s been incredible. Playing a show every other night can wear you out, but I got to hang out with some great bands like Opulentia, Devil’s Playground, Jesus Wrench, and of course Firecharged! And the Party in Vegas Fest was incredible. Those showgirls… that was one of the reasons why I started rocking.
Miyako: Before we get off the subject, Firecharged! really knows how to party. We were up until 3:03 A.M. during an improv jam session with those guys! We jammed to classics like “Train Kept A’Rollin’”, “Looks That Kill”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and “Thunderstruck.” Good times.
Wayne: I loved spending time with the other bands, and I did love that jam session. The free Dr. Pepper was also nice.
Yumishi: What I love is that the fans out there are mixed. Some of them are fans of Dark World, Rusted Glory, Opulentia, and all the other bands. Judging by the applauses we get we must be making converts to our fanbase, which is awesome. It also helps that I get a kick out of being on stage.
Malcolm: Our fanbase did get noticeably bigger during the tour, but I really liked the crowd energy. It was something that I never really got while with Whispers to the Fallen. With Whispers, it was more of a Criss Angel show than a concert.
Figment News: Your first 2 albums, “Untitled” and “Burial”, sold well as did your EP “There’s Nothing Left”, but you really seemed to pick up speed with the departure of Virgil Levli and Miyako and Yumishi Rey’s decision to join the band permanently. Did their involvement significantly change the sound or songwriting of the band?
(Miyako dons a smug grin)
Miyako: Well, I got to play all the solos, for one. The songwriting changed dramatically when Yumishi joined because her instrument allowed us so many more options, like full-on techno breakdowns and more symphonic choruses. The writing of intricate guitar overlays changed to feature keyboards as well.
Hayden: I agree. There are really no significant changes that came directly from Virgil’s departure, but rather from Miyako’s increased involvement and Yumishi’s joining altogether.
Figment News: I must say that I think “This Is Sayonara” is your best album to date. Songs like “Glasgow Grin”, “I Don’t Make Threats, I Make Promises” and “…And A Nation Falls” are really well written heavy songs. What was the inspiration for that album?
Hayden: This is interesting. After “Burial” hadn’t sold as many copies as we had hoped in its early days, we got pretty unmotivated. The tension between Miyako and Virgil was rising, for one. Then he left, and soon we couldn’t communicate with Miyako at all because he always translated everything she said. I was in the darkest days of my Coca-Cola addiction, and I was fresh out of ideas. Then along comes Yumishi. Suddenly, we can speak with Miyako again, and we’ve got a ton of new tools to work with. We hadn’t released an album in a very long time, and we were just inspired. The songs just flowed. We recorded 30 tracks for “This is Sayonara” and narrowed it down to the 12 you know today.
Wayne: “Glasgow Grin” was about a particularly gruesome thing gangs in the U.K. province of Glasgow used to do to each other, also known as a Chelsea Smile. It’s pretty brutal. The goal of that song was to pound the hell out of the listener almost to the breaking point with the crushing riffs and ripping screams, and then head straight for the melodic chorus, making it seem that much more epic. The other two… Hayden?
Hayden: “I Don’t Make Threats, I Make Promises” was about some idiot not taking me seriously one day a few years ago in school, and “…And a Nation Falls” is about political stuff that’s pretty sensitive to some people. Anyway, these are all things that were really meaningful to me, and I wrote them with my heart and soul.
Figment News: The follow up LP “Neo-Gothic Metropolis – The Album” was based on the song of the same name from “This Is Sayonara”. Why did you decide to expand on that song when recording a new album of material?
Hayden: That song is one of my favorites. The video is sweet, but the song is really one of our most epic and really utilizes the keys as a lead instrument. When making the album, I was watching a lot of Ghost in the Shell and the Matrix, so I really wanted to do something a little cyber-punk for the album. The song is about two lovers in a doomed cyber-themed, Tokyo-esque, well, metropolis. It was a dream I had one night. Then I realized that I could definitely expand on that premise. A lot of the songs on the album are about their story. I might write a novel one day…
Malcolm: “Neo-Gothic Metropolis: The Novel.”
Hayden: Something like that.
Miyako: There was also the addition of Xavier from Gravestompers in the second version to beef up the solo section with me.
Hayden: Ah yes, couldn’t forget that. You see we wanted to make the solo section seem more epic by having a sort of guitar duel between Miyako and Xavier. He’s a real nice guy, by the way. Anyway, it started off friendly enough. They just traded solos every eight measures, but as it went on it got more heated. Soon, they were all-out fighting to see who could play the fastest sweep-picked arpeggio run. I had to tell them to finish up eventually. It was never really serious, though, and they talked in a friendly manner afterwards. We ended up using that take for the final version.
Figment News: What can we expect from your new album “Apocolyption” which is due out soon?
Miyako: You can expect all the core ideas in our latest work with some added toppings. I think the best way to be a band is to evolve without completely changing your sound, and that’s what we’re doing. “Apocolyption” is going to have all the epic vocals, aggressive riffing, techno-grooves, blast-beats, and insane solos that the fans have come to love. One new addition is the use of the bass to drive certain parts. We’ve got this one interlude that’s just slap-bass, keys, and drums, and it sounds groovy.
Hayden: She pretty much summed it up, but we have a few surprises for fans. We have a solo made up entirely of pinch harmonics, a sequel to an old song, and a made-up word, but my favorite is when we squeeze death metal out of Lady Gaga’s hit “Just Dance.” That was so much fun to record. The already existing keyboards in that song made it ripe for a trance-metal interpretation.
Wayne: Oh, and you can count on fans arguing over whether the album is pronounced “A-pok-o-lip-shun,” or “A-pok-o-lip-tee-on.”
Figment News: My vote is for the first pronunciation. Will you be touring to support “Apocolyption”?
Yumishi: I think after the No Holds Barred Tour we’re going to enjoy a nice break, honestly. However, there will be promotional gigs supporting the new album. You can count on that.
Wayne: Yeah, after a tour this high-energy, we won’t be touring again anytime soon, although we really want to play Merchants of Metal.
Hayden: It’s always been a dream of mine to play Merchants of Metal, and it would be sick as hell to play the show alongside so many great bands. I went to see Minagoroshi last time. I got caught in the mosh pit. When I woke up the following morning, I noticed several bruises and scars all over my body that I could have sworn weren’t there before.
Miyako: If we could get the crowd going like that, my life would be complete. That’s why I started rocking.
Figment News: Where do you see The Forgotten Falling in 10 years? Will they still be a side project for Sanguine Symphony and Whispers to the Fallen or will they have forged their own identity?
Miyako: I think The Forgotten Falling has already formed its own identity.
Hayden: Most of us are more or less done with our respective bands anyway. For me, at least, the Forgotten Falling is my band now. Sanguine Symphony was just practice. In 10 years I hope to see us at the pantheon of metal bands, as a band that did something different as well.
Wayne: That would be sweet. I think we’ll also be remembered for our stage shows too. Aside from the eccentric attire and foul language, they’re pretty memorable…
Malcolm: If you’re talking about the time Miyako kicked me in the bollocks on stage, you’re asking for it…
(Miyako rolls her eyes)
Wayne: Hey man, it’s cool.
Yumishi: I see us with success. We made it passed total obscurity, and I think we can go even bigger.
Wayne: Maybe make a cheesy Forgotten Falling movie. You know, like KISS
Hayden: No. Just no.
November 11th, 2009
Rock n’ Roll has always been a haven for the individualist, the loner, the outsider. It’s connections to the “dark side” are also well documented, what with all the stories about meetings at the crossroads and connections to voodoo, ghosts and ghouls. Many artists have plumbed the depths of evil for inspiration, because, well, they’re attracted to it.
So it’s no surprise that artists like The Dark Immortal exist. Rather, what is surprising is how an artist like The Dark Immortal can continue to build his “dark” personality and yet continue to crossover to a larger and more mainstream audience. Although some have compared his rise to that of fellow “dark” provocateur Marilyn Manson, The Dark Immortal has no interest cultivating celebrity ala Mr. Manson, and has instead resisted any attempt to “package” or “manage” his career or music. Rather, he has stuck to a monastic approach of recording in private, and emerging only to play occasional one-off live shows that due to their highly theatrical nature are often more events than just concerts. Furthermore, he is his own manager and has no entourage or retinue of high-priced handlers.
And yet…he continues to build a career that not only appeals to goth fans, but techno, metal, emo, punk, industrial and pop as well. His newest single “Scarlet” has spent over a month at the top of the Active Rock charts and his recent appearance at the Merchants of Metal Festivall II – Devil’s Night in New Orleans was one of the highlights of the Festival.
So what does The Immortal have to say about all this success? We decided to find out, so we engineered a rare interview following his show at the MoM Festival II. As we entered the rented Victorian mansion he was staying at in New Orleans’ Garden District we felt a cool chill settle over us, but it didn’t seem to affect the Immortal who sat down and talked at length to us about his career and music.
Figment News: Your fresh off a triumphant show at the Merchants of Metal Festival II – Devil’s Night in New Orleans. What was it like to play that show and why do you think that show in particular drew so much attention?
Dark Immortal: I felt honored to be the first band to be accepted to play at the second Merchants of Metal Festival, and as soon as I stepped off the plane I knew it was going to be one of the best times in my career.
The performance itself went without a flaw; the lightning bolt entrance didn’t physically shock anyone in the front 3 rows which was a refreshing change. It was awesome to see many members of The Black Rose Legion in force that night also.
I can see why Devil’s Night drew in the masses..when you have heavy hitting main stage acts such as Phallic Acid, Amish Militia, and Minagoroshi, Devil’s Night was an experience my fans and I surely won’t forget.
FN: Your recorded music is often dark, moody and seems to be full of sorrow, yet your live show is an extravagant wild show – how do you make that transition?
DI: The live shows are meant to be a feast for the eyes, along with the music it’s a celebration of insanity and misery. Seriously the fans paid for a show I give them that and more.
On the next tour I’ll probably have burlesque dancers in cages or something. Also I’d avoid the mosh pit if you have any health issues too…
FN: Your stage wear and overall color theme for the band seems to be black. Any plans to brighten things up with some fun colors or maybe some plaid?
DI: I thought about wearing a bright red uniform at “Deadman Walking” in Phoenix but black with silver buttons and piping was easier on my eyes plus it matched the hat.
FN: The Immortal is the leader of the band, how did you come up with this character and is it an alter ego you created specifically for the purposes of the band?
DI: Alter Ego? [Laughs] The roots lay a long time ago when I was starting High School, I was the guy that never fit in with anyone, with a bad case of anti-social behavior. All in all I was a good kid for the most part. But people change throughout the latter years of school, my “niceness” disappeared, started to become more outspoken and didn’t care what anyone thought of me and my style of clothing improved mostly military replicas in black. Basically that’s how it began and my attitude of “Do as you want and live with no shame.”
FN: You’ve consistently described your music as goth rock, but you seem to skirt the edges of black, doom and drone metal. Is metal a big influence on your work?
DI: Defiantly, when you’re singing about bloodletting and vendettas you have to get loud.
FN: Your first 5 releases (3 LPs and 2 EPs) were part of a larger work you called “The Epic”. Can you explain the genesis of that project and what inspired it?
DI: Being a bit of a writer I had all this little morbid stories and the more I thought on it, I believed that if I turned the stories into songs they would be a hit. So I spend alot of restless nights composing the lyrics.
FN: Was it hard to kick off your career with such an ambitious set of conceptual albums?
DI: After being signed with “PowerLordsblessings” which gave me a chance, I released “Druids of Sacrifice” at the time I thought it was going to take off, something different. After being released it had some success, which I turned into a disappointment and actually thought about giving up music all together. Ended up giving it another shot and recorded “Rivers of Blood” which is my saving grace and after that I finished the Epic, gained a small fan base, then the rest is history.
FN: Paranoia and psychosis seem to be central themes in your music. Do you have personal experience with these mental/personality disorders or are they merely themes you use in your music?
DI: Of course I have, along with everyone on this planet has at one point.
FN: What’s in that cup? Are you drinking blood?
DI: …it’s mixed with Black Vodka. [Takes a drink]
DI: “Ashes to Ashes” is basically a “rebirth” of The Dark Immortal; if you listen to “Druids of Sacrifice” and “Ashes to Ashes” you can see how much I have developed since those early days.
I have gotten the comment after the release of “Scarlet” that it is about Elizabeth Bathory the 15th century female mass murder who though blood of virgins made her skin appear younger…Well the song is a combination of that bloodlust, coupled with my ideal of a woman I would take on a date.
FN: Speaking of your “rebirth”, at one point earlier this year you disappeared from the public eye. In fact, many members of your inner circle claimed to have no idea of your whereabouts. What happened during this lost holiday and were the rumors of depression and insanity that popped up during this time period the inspiration for the album, “Damnum Sanitas”, that was released shortly before your reappearance?
DI: It’s one of those things where it’s best to let the audience wonder….
FN: Is Halloween your favorite day of the year?
DI: Yes, the one night of the year people can dress up as whatever creation you can come up with!
DI: It was 5 am in the morning when Victoria called and asked if I could help her out until she could get members to restart the band. Well “Reign of Sin” would never be the same without the original members and I think she realized this when I told her. After awhile we decided on doing a side project, the sun was coming up and Victoria accidentally got a paper cut…So “Risen Blood” was formed.
DI: Right now Miss Victoria is on vacation visiting family and is expected to be back at the studio in 2 months.
FN: What’s next for The Dark Immortal?
DI: Might as well break the news right now…. I’m planning a new album “Conspiracy” which isn’t going to be for the faint of heart and those easily offended.
FN: Any plans to take a “Power of Positive Thinking” course and maybe change your stage name to “The Cheery Immortal”?
DI: [Laughs] Oh my, that will be the day when there will be a picture of me laying in a field of daisies next to Taylor Swift on the cover of a disco album.
October 13th, 2009
September 23rd, 2009
In the 80’s metal ruled. It topped the charts, monopolized the airwaves and minted money like the U.S. Treasury. For a while it seemed like the good times would never end for a genre that had begun in the late 60’s and early 70’s with bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and had morphed into a variety of sub-genres by the late 80’s. Then grunge came along and within a few years metal relinquished it’s hold on the music business and returned to being a genre followed by a devoted almost cult-like following. To many it was the end of metal, but to those devoted to the sound it was just what the genre needed. No more bloated spandex clad bands churning out pop music with a metal sheen, no this was the real thing – underground, scruffy and above all, loud. It was a turning point not an end.
So now it’s 2009 and metal is anything but dead. In fact, in many ways it’s back at the top and stronger than ever. It no longer lingers in the shadows of other genres, but instead coexists right alongside indie, alternative and pop music. It’s a player and it deserves to be. Better yet, it’s continued to grow and mutate, creating new sub-genres and more challenging sounds. Whether it’s doom, power or symphonic, metal is growing musically, monetarily and in influence around the world. In fact, there’s probably no better time to be in a metal band. No more growing pains. No more excess. No more disrespect. Metal is here to stay.
For a band like Phallic Acid this is the perfect storm. Their brand of symphonic metal is truly symphonic with violin, piano and cello sharing the stage with brutal guitar riffs and rumbling bass. Not content to simply mine the past, and completely at odds with a lot of the music being made today, Phallic Acid is a band that in many ways is the gifted spawn of it’s metal predecessors, and a band for which the future seems extremely bright. From their striking physical appearance to their orchestral brand of metal the band is poised to take metal to new heights, so we thought it would be interesting to sit down with them and see what it’s like to be riding a comet to the top.
Figment News: Phallic Acid has a very distinct look. After all, Alexyz wears 2 gas masks, Guido your bass player wears camouflage, Dan has his face tattooed to look like a skull and you Mister V have a tattoo of Ch’Thulu on your face. Are you trying to stand out from other bands or were these just personal style choices that were made independently?
Mister V: You know, we were always kind of odd this way. Alexyz, you know. She’s all about the apocalypse – all of them, in fact, and she hastens to prep for them all. We like that about her. Dan’s just kinda himself, and nobody really questions him. He’s a big dude. Six-foot-taller-than-a-tree, built like a brick house. Same with Guido too, really. As for me, well, I pray to the Great Old One, yes. [laughs] But we’re all pretty radically different people, and that’s probably why we all get along as well as we do. It’s not trying to stand out against anyone, it’s more just admitting who and what we are. I mean sure, a lot of people see it as “Oh, they’re defying the mainstream.” Of course we are. We never WERE mainstream, so this is just a natural part of what we are. So it’s the latter. Completely independent, although admittedly helped along by more than a few fifths of various hard liquors.
FN: How did you guys form?
MV: That actually got released in an article not too long ago, wound up sending a thing to the fans about it. Dan and Guido met in Amsterdam or Stockholm or something, I always forget which. [Mr. V rubs his forehead for a moment in thought.] Either way, they clicked, and it took off from there. I met them in a bar in Amsterdam after having a wonderful time with a very, very expensive woman of the night. Turns out she was a big Zalgo follower, who knew? Anyways, I got up on stage and sang with them, ‘cuz yanno, I’m a damn good singer. So we start jammin’ basically, and wind up on tour State-side with local bands. We didn’t really have a band name then, we just kinda went by “Mister V and the Duo of Destruction”, which was kinda awesome, but we lacked a drummer. So, thanks to a bar fight and a drunk Guido later, we wound up finding Alexyz smashing some guy’s head into a payphone and it was true love from that moment forward… or something like that.
FN: And the band’s name, you say it’s meant to “suggest that the seed of life only perpetuates a species designed to kill itself, and thus carries on a vicious cycle of death: this makes it more of an acid, burning away at our civilization.” What exactly do you mean by that?
MV: Well, yanno, that’s one of those things we never get a chance to explain terribly well, so that’s a fun story. See, Guido and Dan and I, we’re all at this buffalo wings place, chillin’ and trying to come up with band names. Alexyz had just been signed on, but was out smashing up some previous band’s practice space in order to get her drum kit back from some dick who’d taken it. And we’re doing everything we can to come up with these horrifyingly cheesy ’80’s styled names, the lack of creativity rather jarring. He’s playing this damn trivia game when he just looks up and freakin’ exclaims, like he’s seen God or something, “Phallic Acid! That’s it!” And mind you, Guido and I both thought he was nuts. It was metal as hell, but it was nuts. And then we thought about it. Humanity is the most violent species on our planet. We have very base natural reactions to things, most if which is violence. We are bred for it, we know it from birth. The lot of us see the world getting closer to its end with each generation. So we figure, any old band can make songs about random bloodshed – Hell, there’s some amazing music out there right now, but there’s also a lot of metal that sounds like nothing but Drowning Pool for god’s sake —so we set our sights a little higher. You have some songs about uh, beating up your old man and you might get be a one-hit wonder. You make your message about the degrading condition of humanity as a whole, and hell, I could be getting high off modeling glue while I write the lyrics, but it’d still open a few peoples’ minds. That’s why there’s so much of it in our lyrics, why it’s so present in our musicianship, why it’s so crucial to our songwriting. Phallic Acid is exactly what it sounds like – the vile, self-corroding nature of our gene pool. Thank Dan for that one, it was mostly his idea.
FN: Speaking of Dan…no pun intended…I understand he doesn’t speak to anyone. So how does he communicate with you? Or does he only talk to members of the band and no one else?
MV: Yeah, man, about him. Weird guy, Dan. He does talk. I mean if he didn’t, how could we communicate with him yanno? But he’s always just been this amazingly quiet guy in public places. It’s just a shock, because he’s as loud and abrasive as they get in the studio, which is the only reason why we even tolerate that unnerving silence half the time. He’s a great guy. He communicates really eloquently sometimes, and is as coarse as a sailor other times. But I mean, he talks to our manager, [Sara] Fisk, and to our producer Bekki [Black], and holy hell did he do a lot of yelling at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra while we were recording “Phallic Acid.”
[At this point, the bassist Guido enters, and leans up against a nearby wall.]
G: Dan’s always been a quiet guy. When I first met him in Stockholm in the shop of Johannes Lilja, he hardly even spoke a word then. Of course, he hardly spoke Swedish, so I didn’t blame him. But even though we both spoke English, he was still a man of strikingly few words at first. He opens up after a while, but trust me – it takes time. Nobody but him knows why he’s so quiet though.
FN: Your debut album “Sea of Blood” is a smash success. A concept album about “The Hunter” and his first sea hunt, it seems to cover similar ground to Mastodon’s “Leviathan” album. Was that a conscious decision or just a coincidence?
MV: Mastodon is one of those bands we love. Their band name is exactly what you need to be aware of: this slow, chugging metal that’s got the beefiness of the very animal they uh… [Mister V snaps his fingers] The very animal that they choose to represent. It’s very fitting for their style of playing. In some ways, sure, “Sea of Blood” is a throwback to “Leviathan”, but it’s so much more. In a lot of ways, it’s as much a throwback to Ayreon’s many albums as it is anything else, weaving this amazing and intricate story within the music. And we love us some Ayreon.
G: That’s pretty much exactly it. Mastodon is one of those bands – as is Ayreon and Dream Theater – that just isn’t afraid to go against what’s normal, and do what they want to do. The albums are epic on degrees that even Homer would appreciate, so what’s not to like? While we do draw influence from them, we make it a point to state that we don’t just rip off of them. We are very deep-thinking people, just not always in the right ways, and we get crazy ideas. You’ll see that with the next album.
MV: Yeah I don’t throw the word “homage” around too much, but “Sea of Blood” is designed to say, “Here’s some unique music, we hope it reminds you of the greats.”
FN: What’s it been like having such a hit on your hands right out of the gate?
MV: That’s not something you can ever prepare for. We had a feeling that the first album would drop and nobody would even know it existed, and then just out of nowhere, we got this huge support from so many great fans and even some of the heavyweights. It’s funny though, because Guido kept saying all along this was going to happen, but nobody believed him. Sometimes we don’t think even he believed it, but that’s far from the point. The point is that we have this huge hit – even the EP for the album soon to debut is doing exceptionally well, which is always a good sign – and we don’t plan on stopping. We’ve got that second album on the way, Dan’s been busy as hell in the recording studio doing I don’t even want to know what, the third album’s already in the works, and we just don’t wanna stop. That’s not who or what we are.
G: What’s really crazy, to us as people, is the reception the album got. V’s right on the nose, I was the only one with any faith in the album, but the point wasn’t about having faith in the album. It’s that we had faith in our fanbase to make the album a success, and we weren’t so sure that the strength was there yet. But we got proven so wrong. Our fans immediately went out and made sure our name was topping the charts, and we’ve been there for a long while as far as a record goes. We’re very impressed with our fans.
FN: You are currently working on your sophomore release, but initially there was a lot of disappointment among your fans over your decision to release “Sea of Blood” first versus the eponymous album that will contain a lot of songs your long time fans have heard you play in concert. What was behind that decision? Did you release your self-titled Special Edition EP in response to that reaction?
MV: That was a decision we’d come to as a band. We played a few shows under the ‘Phallic Acid’ moniker, and we knew things were gonna go well with the reaction we got. We’d written some songs, and while they were good, they were loosely fitted together and honestly we didn’t like them nearly as much as the fans did.
G: And between us, we’re all perfectionists and horribly OCD about one particular thing. Pardon my French, but we refuse to release shit. It’s plain and simple. Now, a lot of our long-time fans are not going to hear any of those original songs again. Honestly, we did a lot of fantasy-metal covers of songs, and played only three or four originals. And that’s not really a band, not to us, so we had to move forward. “Sea of Blood” got shot in the foot by NOT being “Phallic Acid” [the album], so yeah.
MV: In a way, the EP was to sort of stem the tide of rebellion from our fans. But it was also us asking them to have faith in us: give us time, and we will provide you with some great music. Had we released “Phallic Acid” earlier instead of as planned, there would’ve never been the stuff that’s on it.
FN: What can we expect on your next album?
MV: “Phallic Acid” is going to blow you away, really it is. Take the time to read the liner notes, and you’ll really get a good feel for how intricately this band works. Dan’s a think-tank, and he and I bounce ideas off of one another like we’re playing a fast-paced game of ping-pong. He and I really hash out the stories to the albums, and then I take these fantastical weaves of imagination and intrigue and craft our lyrics from them. I do admit that some lyrics have come from bouts of binge-drinking in back-alleys of seedy cities. But c’mon. Those are some of our best lines. [laughs] We enlisted the help of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the album, to really ensure quality when it came to orchestrations.
G: One of the big bands that influenced Dan, Bang Camaro, once said that sampling simply wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll – so they had a choir of 15 men to sing their songs. In that way, we decided that a synthesizer couldn’t do our album justice, so we got the help of one of the most respected symphonic orchestras in the world. I mean, that’s not at all over-the-top, is it?
MV: Also, the album art for the EP is vaguely similar to what it’ll be on the actual album. Credit good ol’ Fiskette [band manager Sara Fisk] for that design. Hella awesome, and really brought about some good ideas.
FN: Rumors are rampant that you’ve brought in another guitar player to play on the album with Dan. Can you give us any idea who that mystery player is?
MV: I think… I think someone said something about that in a press release or maybe it was an email update? [Guido laughs] It’s this close to release, so I don’t care. It’s Raien Swiftwood, of A Severe Fatality. Kid’s an amazing guitarist. He and Dan know each other pretty well, so things happened pretty smoothly and quickly. We must have recorded 20 or 30 hours of just dueling solos between them.
G: It’s like listening to two people having seizures while playing guitars… in an amazing way.
FN: You are currently slated to play the Merchants of Metal Festival II – Devil’s Night in New Orleans on Halloween. What do you think that experience will be like?
MV: If it’s ANYTHING like the last time I got wasted in the Big Easy, this is going to be amazing. The trick is to stay sober until after the show, which is not always easy in New Orleans. As a band, we love our manager. Fiskette, she keeps us out of the bottom of the bottle, otherwise all four of us would be there in a heartbeat, and probably perpetually. Not to say we’re problem drinkers, we just enjoy it a little too much. But, I digress, Merchants of Metal II. We’re extremely excited for it, we really are.
G: Alexyz made it pretty clear when she said it over dinner one night, and kinda spoke for everyone last week – it doesn’t matter when we play on the lineup, people will be there to see us play. It doesn’t matter how much or how little time we’re given, we’ll blow their brains out with whatever we’re allowed to give. And it doesn’t matter how much or how little reaction we get from the people at the festival, there’s nothing like playing with the guys that are on that bill. The Dark Immortal, Amish Militia, Symphonic Suicide? You really can’t get more hyped.
FN: Any other bands on the bill you are looking forward to checking out? Any plans to collaborate on stage w/ any of them?
G: You know, it’s funny you bring that up. As far as the MOM2 goes, we’re really just there for the fun and the experience. The bands, however? All due respect, but we’re kind of our own thing. Not that we’re superior or elitist, far from it, but we’re a different kind of people, a different kind of mentality. Dan actually JUST announced from an email while he was in Minneapolis-St. Paul [Minnesota] that he was collaborating with Zandgergriff Miggs for the new Manifold Spaceport album. He never told us WHY he went to the Twin Cities until that email went out, and we realized then why he never said anything, which was maybe for the better.
MV: That’s going to be awesome collaboration, that. Dan’s actually already collaborated on an album, the first A Severe Fatality album. “Death of a Loved One”, I think it’s called. Heart-wrenching stuff, damn good. I know he’s really looking to kind of get his finger in every pie he can, but he’s doing it to bring more attention to us, so we’re kind of rolling with it and really approving. Anything to help us out, yanno? But we love to play shows with bands, and honestly? We wouldn’t turn down anyone if they asked us to play with them. Which is why I’d really love to see us open up for Manifold Spaceport, that’d be a crazy [freaking] show.
FN: What’s it like being on the Phallic Acid tour bus?
MV: [laughs for a moment] Yeah, that’s insane. We have a lot of booze on that tour bus. Guido loves his martinis, he’s our gin and vodka guy. Dan, complete opposite, drinks almost entirely rum with the rare exception of irish cream in his coffee. We’re usually pretty stocked on beer – Rolling Rock is a personal favorite – and usually, we’re all playing video games or on the internet and completely plastered. It’s like a giant party when you first turn 18, and your friends get you drunk. But it’s so much more fun. [Mr. V pauses for a moment, and looks to Guido, whose face is not so happy.]
G: But it’s not always fun and games. We’re very serious when we get down to it. If we play a shitty show, there’s no drinking. We’ll get up in each other’s grills if stuff doesn’t go right, and I can’t tell you how funny it is seeing Alexyz go off on Dan when his fingers aren’t as good as they’re supposed to be. Especially since her height doesn’t quite equal his at all. Another thing is that we do not bring fans or groupies onto the bus. We’re very strict about personnel only: if anything on that bus got stolen, we’d be heartbroken, and wouldn’t be right for days. You can’t have that. We’re very serious about what we do.
FN: Your albums have all been self-released, any plans to sign with a label?
MV: That’s not something we’ve really debated or thought about. If the right label comes along, we’ll consider signing. And with all due respect to Long Bong Records, who so graciously is having us on the Merchants of Metal Festival 2? That’s not really our type of label. Then again, nobody in the band is exactly sure what is, but we might just make our own. We love our current producer, Bekki Black. She does a lot of stuff for us beyond produce, she gets us damn good deals on CD printing and packaging and all that stuff. She really takes care of us, and we’d hate to leave that behind for a label. Doubtful that we’ll start our own, we’ll probably continue to release things on our own though.
FN: What’s in the grand plan for Phallic Acid?
G: That’s an answer I’m not sure any of us have right now. We all have grand ideas, and we all talk about it over the communal dinner, which is one of our group-think activities that we like to partake in. But… well, V?
MV: [Mr. V sits quietly for a moment, staring at nothing before seeming to come back to reality.] Every band has the same grand plan. Everyone wants to be huge, get famous, make money, get the women, and live life in sweet retirement once they’re done. But we’re not about that. This isn’t about a job, or a career, this is our life. Phallic Acid’s life is music, our whole entire beings are devoted to what we do. To give you a grand plan in that regard is almost… almost… narrow minded and wholly devoid of what we truly are. Phallic Acid is not your normal band, we are not your normal people. We listen to music today, and with some very rare exceptions, we dislike a lot of what we hear. It’s like our name suggests, but twisted and spun. We are here to re-educate the world on the true spirit of music, to ignite fires in the souls of people that have long since been settling to listen to garbage that only cools the coals within them. We have come here to stoke the flames of rebellion in people’s hearts, to crush that acidic music that has ruined people’s ability to listen with their hearts. We are here to revive MUSIC, to crush the current spirit of the radio and replace it with something with soul, from the heart, and entirely meaningful without this fluff. That’s the most important facet of our band name, and why we adopted it and love it so thoroughly: because it’s something so vitally important to our lives, that without it? We’re as good as dead.
September 21st, 2009
Ever wanted to talk to one of your favorite bands on Figment? Well, now you have an opportunity! Eccentric Arcade are currently on the road with Fait Accompli. Their Xenophilia Tour ’09 has been playing packed houses and as the tour enters into it’s final week Eccentric Arcade frontman Riki Milligan is itchin’ to talk to his fans. So do you have any questions for him? He’s been posting vlog entries on Eccentric Arcade’s official YouTube channel – click here to check it out – and promises to answer all of your questions in his latest video. So leave a question as a comment and Riki will answer it! Once the video is posted we’ll let you know here on Figment News.
I’ll get things started with this question. What’s been the craziest moment yet on the Xenophilia tour?
July 31st, 2009
As you know, Big Poppa is hard at work putting together his first annual Fiestaval. So if you want your band to be a part of the Fiestaval make sure you fan Big Poppa and give him a shout letting him know your band’s name! If you and enough of your fans become Big Poppa fans you might just make the cut and receive a free Fiestaval tour shirt with your band’s name on the back!
Wanna see how hard Big Poppa’s working to make this happen – check out this video of him searching for an appropriate site to hold the show!
July 27th, 2009
Here at Figment News we’ve interviewed a lot of artists who are…shall we say idiosyncratic (Fustercluck), dark and mysterious (The Infernal Archon – Merchants of Metal Festival), and downright surly (Can of Wupazz). In short, we thought we’d seen it all…that is until we sat down to interview the self-described originator of the latest metal movement “Dad Metal”, Big Poppa. To say Mr. Poppa (aka Hugh Weber) is “his own person” is an understatement. A musician who doesn’t court the mainstream nor ignore it, he has carved out a niche of his own, even if that niche is a dark and rather messy place. In an interview that was at times rambling, chaotic and downright strange we talked to Big Poppa about the history of the band, the imminent release of his first album of recorded music “Learning to Share”, and his plans for the future. Whether you think he’s an innovator or a madman, one thing’s for sure this ain’t your dad’s metal.
Figment News: Big Poppa has had a rather tumultuous past. In fact, despite being the so-called originator of the “Dad Metal” genre, you actually almost broke the band up following your first rehearsal and then spent 12 years deciding whether or not you wanted to go ahead with the project. What made you decide to push on?
BP: Whereas most musical hacks and people lacking true vision would say something hokey like “it’s the music” or “I love the fans”, I reject that. It’s the shady hotels, green room food and the love of the road that kept me going. Shiz.
Figment News: Your band mates Mike Billeter and Andrew Bryjulson, have since left the band. After 13 years of waiting for you to work with them, why did they decide to leave now?
BP: Moments after my progeny emerged from the womb covered in the slime of love and passion, those boys … and I do mean boy…decided they no longer had the stomach to sacrifice for the dream. Posers. EEEEEEEE-ow!
[editor’s note: This final exclamation was screamed and seemed to be completely involuntary. It would become a regular occurrence in our interview.]
Figment News: You recently held a press conference to squelch rumors of a reunion tour only to have someone, that looked suspiciously like you, call a 2nd press conference to say that there may indeed be a reunion tour. What’s the deal? Any chance Billeter and Bryjulson will return to the band now that you’ve released your first recording “Mother’s Milk”?
[editor’s note: At this point in our interview, the ceiling collapsed. Brynjulson and Billeter fell from above wearing black spandex and carrying rope and proceeded to run from the room screaming “WE’RE NEVER COMING BACK, WE’RE NEVER COMING BAAAACK!!!”]
BP: “Um…your guess it as good as mine, but I’d take that as a no…”
Figment News: Speaking of “Mother’s Milk”, tell us about the EP. It contains no music and is actually a commentary on the album you are currently working on. Why would your first release in your 13-year career be devoid of music?
BP: Big Poppa fans expect and deserve more. Any hack can create music, but it takes a certain kind of genius to point out the genius genius behind the genius. Geeeeeeeen-ius!
Figment News: Anything you can tell us about your new album? After all it is your first LP of recorded music?
BP: “Learning to Share” is our way of giving back to all of the bands we’ve influenced. Except the band “Forcept Extraction.” For legal reasons, we can’t explain why.
Figment News: Rumor has it that you are planning a music festival, but have yet to invite any bands to join the bill. How do you plan to have a music festival if there is no one playing on it but you? Isn’t that just a concert?
BP: Thank you for the opportunity to explain the Fiestaval. We will be inviting up to 5 bands to suckle at the teat of rock stardom. The venue is yet to be determined, but it will be awesome.
Those bands which help us reach our goal of being the biggest band in Figment history will be included in the line-up and also receive their own “Fiestaval VIP Shirt.”
All they need to do is encourage their fans to become Big Poppa fans and give a shout-out for their band. The five bands that receive the most shout-outs or send the most fans will be included.
For example, we would love to include Eccentric Arcade. If they could encourage people to fan Big Poppa and give a shout-out for EA, they are IN. Additionally, five lucky fans will be randomly selected to get a t-shirt and some love from BP.
Figment News: So in essence you’re challenging bands to mobilize their fan bases to not only come see them play live but you as well?
BP: Yeah…I mean I guess so… what kind of question is that? NEXT QUESTION! NEXT! NEXT!
Figment News: What do you think the fans of these other bands will think of your live show? Is this a Fiestaval that will have something for everyone?
BP: No. Absolutely not for everyone. This is a Fiestaval that will have something for intelligent, thoughtful metal fans. Slackers and losers need not attend.
Figment News: I don’t usually ambush people with questions, but you are a known abuser of hypo-allergenic baby formula and breast milk. In fact, Jeff Hanneman of Slayer has a restraining order out against you for harassing him at concerts. Are you high on formula and breast milk right now?
BP: Hanneman is a…
[editor’s note: this section was removed due to inappropriate suggestions of uses for house pets and baby strollers.]
AND, Its been months since I’ve tasted the sweet nectar of the gods.
Figment News: Clearly you are an influence for a lot of bands out there today, because…well your press materials say that, but truly how are you an influence – you have no music?
BP: I never said I was a role model. In the immortal words of my personal hero Natalie Portman in her classic hit, “Natalie’s Rap”: “All the kids looking up to me can [expletives redacted]” I think you get the point.
Figment News: So what you’re saying is that you truly are the living embodiment of a Figment band?
BP: Big Poppa serves a critical civic function, which is to inspire people of all ages to strive for and achieve their goals and dreams.
If you reach for the moon and fall short, you’ll still be among the stars. I think Flavor Flav said that once. Or maybe it was Mother Theresa. Who cares, I think it makes sense.
[Editor’s Note: At this point, Hugh pulled a microphone out of his pocket, threw it on the floor, and shouted:]
Big Poppa, Out!
July 13th, 2009
In this day and age, the U.S. seems to import everything. Cars, electronics, steel and even agricultural products by the ton. So why not death metal? Fear not, we’re importing that too! Minagoroshi is a Japanese death metal band from Osaka that has reached near legendary status around the globe despite having broken up in 2004 following an on-stage “mishap”. Luckily for death metal fans, the band re-formed in 2009 and has since been on a recording rampage. Following the re-recording of their debut EP “Death in Details”, a LP of all new material “Tokyo Harumageddon”, and their first stateside gig on the main stage at the Merchants of Metal Festival, the band is in high demand. So despite their demanding schedule and obvious language differences we managed to wrangle an interview with the band in Tokyo between recording sessions for their latest record.
We met with the band in a lounge of the recording studio run by their label AfterHours Records in Tokyo. The band, Kazuya Akuma – Vocals, DIEsuke – lead guitar, Kaonashi – rhythm guitar, Genji Suzuki – bass guitar, Kaneichi Harada – drums, were all dressed in black suits with black ties and black dress shirts and gave off an imposing but not menacing air. In fact, the only color the group wore is a wild assortment of dyed hair, from Kazuya’s bright, glowing red, to DIEsuke’s white spikes, to Harada’s long mane of green, straight hair. As we spoke, Michael Yamazaki, the band’s manager interpreted for the band.
Figment News: According to your press materials, your band’s name means “kill everyone”, “wholesale slaughter.” Any worries that a name like this will effect your ability to stock your album in Wal-Mart?
[Michael Yamazaki’s (MY) translation of the question causes them to glance back and forth and lean in close, whispering in Japanese. Now and then “Waru… maruto?” can be heard. They give MY some puzzled questions back]
MY: Ah, I think the problem is Wal-Mart is not existing in Japan… Ano, let me try again…
[MY does some explaining, the band members suddenly all say “Ahh!” Harada snaps his fingers and adds, “Sou da, daiakugaisha (evil empire)!” and then the band members formulate a response.]
MY: Ok, they say they do no worrying, if what is rumored about American big chain stores is truth, the Wal-Mart should be happy to carry their music. Same philosophy.
Figment News: Your band broke up in 2004 following a stage mishap. What exactly was the mishap and how did the band decide to reform in 2009?
[MY relates the question, and while the band had been eager and congenial a moment ago… silence falls. Some of them fold arms and look angrily at Kazuya…]
MY: Ano, it’s a bit of a tricky topic…
[MY motions to the band, but Kazuya turns his nose up and huffs, others look away too.]
MY: Ok. I’ll fill in, I don’t think they want to do the discussion… Well in 2004 at Club Desu, popular spot in Osaka for Death Music, Kazuya-san stepped on the guitar’s chord of DIEsuke-san and pulled it from the guitar. Feedback rang out to make the crowd deaf, ruining the song in the middle. DIEsuke-san took off his guitar and threw it to the ground and started to yell at Kazuya-san. Kazuya-san shouted back, while holding the microphone. Everyone in Club Desu heard the angry words. Harada-san stood up and tried to be peacemaker. Kaonashi-san kept playing guitar. Genji-san took off bass and walked off stage. Then it became worse… Harada-san threw drumsticks at Kazuya-san and DIEsuke-san when they kept arguing. Then Kazuya-san’s girlfriend came on stage and punched DIEsuke-san in the face–
[Kazuya (KAZ) cuts in]
KAZ: Say, say say say! Not imporutant. Now, re-yunaito! Back together! Jya, once again besto furendo!
MY: The condition of the reunion decision are many… Genji-san had to give up playing Pachinko, DIEsuke-san had to quit membership in Rod Stewart cover band, Kazuya-san had to part with girlfriend–
[Kazuya starts in interrupt again, all the band members start talking, leaving MY to try and keep up]
MY: They say, at the heart, all felt empty. Their life had lost meaning and directions, and wanted to make more music as Minagoroshi, so apologies were made for the sake of the music, and they began to practice once again as the original band. All for the music, they say.
Figment News: What was it like re-recording your debut EP “Death in Details” earlier this year?
[Band members look a bit nostalgic and talk a bit more vigorously in formulating their answer]
MY: They say very good. Very, very good. It was old songs, but felt like brand new songs. It was something they knew from inside, and still felt like the first time expressing the notes. They knew they had done the right thing to be playing the music again. They all found the same page.
Figment News: “Tokyo Harumageddon” was your first new recording in 10 years. Was it hard to get back in the habit of writing new material for the band? Who does most of the writing in the band?
[Again, the band animatedly discusses things, MY tries to keep up.]
MY: Coming up with new songs was simple, they felt overflowing with ideas after retracking old songs on first albums. The band music once more became an outlet for emotion. They all felt immense energy and vigorously “attacked” the new ideas that they discovered during the playing of older songs, yes, “attack, attack” and–
[Harada smacks Kazuya on the head and a several of them say “Yaro!”]
MY: Kazuya was taking credit for all the music writing, but the band disagrees. I know them to each write their own parts. So eechi member contributes to the process of creation of the songs. I mean each.
Figment News: You recently played your first gig ever in the United States when you played the main stage at the Merchants of Metal Festival. What was that like and why do you think it took so long for you to reach the U.S. market?
[There is a lot of thinking, but Kaonashi answers first.]
MY: K-san is sure the band’s reach is slow in America because American interest is in China, and no longer about Japan and Japanese culture. Americans think all Japanese watch anime and love J-pop, so misconceptions hold back real Japanese culture understanding in America. As for playing in America–
[The band begins to talk with lots of gestures, some imitating the cheering crowd, some pantomiming playing their instrument, then alternating back to the crowd, then back to air-guitaring or air-drumming even faster, then back to being the crowd and flailing their arms]
MY: Ano, they said it was a dream. They had never before played music for so many people, all who seemed so energetic and crazy. It made them play harder to please the audience. They are all very grateful to have such an experience here in America and got to be as crazy for them in return. Energy builds on energy, the crazy American crowd made their show better. Japan shows are small venue only for Death music.
Figment News: Your single “Soul Burnt to Black” is getting extensive airplay on radio stations across the globe. What’s it like to hear your music becoming so universal?
[The band explodes in excited Japanese, going on and on loudly, each one competing and explaining verbosely.]
MY: It is “cool.”
Figment News: What’s the Japanese death metal scene like?
[Band turn a little grim, mentioning “muzukashi”, which means difficult, prominently in their descriptions]
MY: It’s very hard. Japan is full of old people right now who think Death music is bad noise. You have to be extreme to get noticed, you have to keep doing newer and more extreme things to keep attention. Competition is thick, only TV game shows let Death music performers on air time. Genji-san broke his leg on “Converyor Belt Super Challenge!!” show and had to perform from wheelchair for months. All band members have part-time jobs.
Figment News: Your latest record is a note for note re-recording of your original LP “Shinjuku Death Moon”. Why did you decide to re-record another one of your albums?
MY: They wanted to understand where they had been in past times when fans loved them. There has been lots of criticism at reformation, “MG is now different band!” and things. After so long not playing as Minagoroshi, influence had changed, individual sounds and styles of play had gone in many directions. “Shinjuku” album redo was band re-sync.
KAZ: We wanted to give fansu old taipu style, nyuu skillzu! Raito now, we are still the same band as all time! Soremo, fansu say lots, “Old recaado sound like hard to listen to,” so… Eto… fixsu! Tadaa! Now, nyuu sound!
Figment News: Who are your band’s influences?
[The question brings a lot of head or chin scratching.]
KAZ: Eto, Nyuu Yoruku Death, we all like very muchi. America-style Death… “Kirru! Kirru!” kind of thingu. “Sukinu erodingu eksuposu za sukereton…” All very–
DIEsuke: Ai raiku Rodo Tsuwarudo ando Roi Orbaasan… [(Rod Stewart and Roy Orbison)]
[Silence falls. Obaa-san is Japanese for Grandma.]
Figment News: Any plans to introduce some American bands, like say Zeroth, to Japanese audiences?
[Whole band goes on a little tirade in Japanese, MY waits for them to calm down a bit]
MY: Well, they say there is no need, Japanese fan base listen to more foreign music than domestic Japanese. Unless it is J-pop. However, they take new their new friends’ from crazy shows’ music back to Nihon with them. But they are sad, Zeroth probably outsells Minagoroshi on Osaka charts. Japanese audience has no loyalty to Japanese Death music.
Figment News: What’s next for Minagoroshi?
MY: One more re-recorded album is to be released within following month of July, controversial “I Am Death Alive.” For the special release event, they have recorded an American-only release EP in AfterHours studio America. After that–
KAZ: Nyuu taipu Emu-Gee Album create! Huuuuu~!! Tsugi, Amerika e kaiete kuru yo~!! [(After that, we’re come back to America!)] BEWARE! Dangerousu! Emu-Gee to return for showtime ATTAKKU!
[As Kazuya poses, the other band members all stand up and bow.]
BAND: Arigatou Gozaimasu.
July 9th, 2009
In this age of file sharing it’s no surprise that band’s often find their work circulating on the web long before it’s official release date. Overzealous fans, unscrupulous studio personnel and radio stations looking for a jump on the competition have leaked tracks or whole albums from bands like The White Stripes, Gnarls Barkley, Arcade Fire and Spoon.
To combat leaks, bands like the Raconteurs have even gone to the trouble of announcing the release date of a new album with very little advance notice. Too bad that plan failed when iTunes leaked it early. In U2’s case, their new album “No Line On The Horizon” wasn’t leaked by fans or radio stations, but by their very own label who botched things up by accidently leaking the album to the internet prior to it’s global release date. Oops!
Needless to say, protecting one’s recorded work becomes harder by the day and band’s on Figment are hardly immune to this problem. On Wednesday, Eccentric Arcade saw tracks from their upcoming “Technicolor Yawn” album leaked to the internet by someone named Some Douche. We contacted the band to see how they felt about the album’s leak and what they planned to do about it.
Figment News: What’s the band’s reaction to your unfinished album being leaked to the public?
Riki: Well, we got a call from our management and they said they had some bad news regarding the album. And we started freaking out thinking that something got messed up during the pressing of the c-ds or something and we were gonna have to push back the release date. Then they told us that rough versions of the tracks had hit the internet and it was kind of a collective “oh, great”.
Ferny: At first we were kind of pissed off because these were tracks that we’ve worked really hard on for a while now. And seeing them spread across the internet before they were ready to be heard is like seeing the bride before the wedding.
Riki: But then we realized that rather than go all Lars Ulrich about it we would just let it be. I can’t say I never downloaded leaked music, so who am I to judge? The fans that were lucky enough to get an early copy should just consider it a collector’s item.
Figment News: Do you know who leaked the album?
Riki: As of right now we have no idea. More than likely it was a random tech or maybe even one of the night clean up guys.
Figment News: Any plans to bring legal action against anyone involved?
Riki: We don’t want this to turn into a big witch hunt. Honestly, whoever stole the c-d has nothing to gain from leaking it other than fan admiration. If people started selling copies of it then we would have a problem.
Marcus: If we see it pop up on eBay, it’s on!
Figment News: How do you think this effects your release plans for the new album?
Riki: We talked about possibly moving the release date forward and getting the album out sooner, but we didn’t want to rush getting the c-ds pressed and shipped and risk any problems with it. And it leaked pretty close to our planned release date anyway, so we figured why rush it? The real deal, final version of the album will be out 9/14/09.
It was 40 years ago this summer that a gathering of tribes occurred in a field in Bethel, NY. With it’s three days of music, free love, drugs, and a muddy but communal vibe Woodstock became legendary and the high water mark of the hippie movement. The problem is that when you set the bar that high you’re bound to see it crash to the ground, and four months later it did in the form of Altamont. So what’s a hippie to do? Stop putting together music festivals? I think not. Festivals continued, including two more Woodstock’s in 1994 and 1999, but none of them had the same vibe or lasting appeal of the original Woodstock. That is until now. Enter Zandergriff Miggs, the musical impersario behind Minnesota based Uncle Duff Records and the leader of the band Parliament of Owls, who’s latest creation is Under the Big Top: A Carnaval of Musicophilia, a music festival being held on Nicolette Island, St. Paul, MN June 8 – 10, 2009. Featuring an eclectic lineup of bands from the Uncle Duff Records roster, Under the Big Top looks to be among the top festivals of the summer season with appearances by Zandergriff Miggs and Parliament of Owls, Grover “Neck-Bone” Clifton, Secret Scurrility, Stalker Channing, Gunshot Love and Notorious A.i.G. among others.
Zandergriff is an imposing figure in the Twin Cities music community. Tall, thin, with a long beard that flows down his chest, Zandergriff is not exactly a hippie. In fact, in his white shirt, brown herringbone vest and work jeans he’s more beat than hippie. So why and how does a beat musician create a festival that everyone is calling the “next Woodstock?” We visited the offices of Uncle Duff Records to talk with Mr. Miggs, and over some herbal remedies got some answers.
Figment News: Zandergriff or should I call you Zander? How did the Under the Big Top Festival come together?
Zandergriff Miggs: You can call me whatever, but Zander works. That’s what most people I hang out with do. [pauses to pull from his pipestone bowl] Under the Big Top huh? [exhales and passes bowl to me] Well me and T’Cor (from the Parliament of Owls) were jamming in the studio and we got to talking about doing some kind of show, or more like a party to kick off the summer. We had just done the Old Winters Eve Festival in March and it just kind of grew out of that. The more we tossed ideas back and forth it took on a mind of it’s own till it became the big spectacle that I hope it turns out to be.
Figment News: The line up for the Festival is pretty eclectic and they’re all from the Uncle Duff Records stable of bands. Is this really an Uncle Duff showcase or is it more of an attempt to create a lineup that has a little something for everyone?
ZM: [smiles] Well…both, and neither. You know it is for sure a way to showcase some of the acts on the label and there should be a pretty diverse crowd. When I think of some of the best shows I’ve seen, it’s always been a confluence of different styles. Like the Stickman benefit at the Cabooze in the late 80’s, or the first Lollapalooza. I mean, look at Woodstock. Now I’m not old enough to have been there, but that was an eclectic mix. People often forget Sha Na Na played Woodstock. So yeah, we want to bring that “something for every one” vibe for sure. I’m a really big fan of Art for Art’s sake. Just creating…working with whatever comes out and not concerning myself with accessability. You want to connect with the audience, but if you make cool stuff, that connection will form of it’s own accord. These are some bands creating some pretty interesting vibes and we wanted them all to be a part of it.
Figment News: Times are tough for a lot of music fans right now with the economy in the shape it’s in. Do you think a festival of this type is a good idea and what are you doing to make it affordable for fans?
ZM: Oh, man, I’m so glad you asked that. It is 100% a good idea. People right now need some fun. The Under the Big Top festival is not about making money for the label. It’s about giving a little fun to people, even if it’s just for a couple days. If you get your tickets now it’ll cost you $10 per day. Even if you buy at the gates it’s only $15. That’s cheaper than you could see most acts at 1st Ave. There’s a couple other deals going on…get a tat at the InkBlotz tent on the first day and you get in free the next two. Also, a couple of Neckbones cousins are coming up to set up a Cue Pit. They’ll be smoking birds and roasting hogs. You can buy a plate of BBQ for a couple bucks. We want every one who wants to be there, to be there.
Figment News: Will the bands be playing full sets? Will they be jamming with each other?
ZM: You know…I’ve really kind of left that up to the bands. There’s plenty of time for them to play full…or even multiple sets. We’re a big family at Uncle Duff Records so I’m sure there will be some intermingling and cross jamming. I sure hope so anyway.
Figment News: Who will headline each day?
ZM: Well, Eric, all these cats could hold their own as headliners. But because some one has/gets to go on last…it’ll be Secret Scurrility on Monday night. Neckbone closes things down on Tuesday night and the Parliament of Owls will hold court on the stage for all of Wednesday night. But we plan to do a lot of bringing people up on stage to jam with us. There may even be some surprise guests, you never know.
Figment News: Any plans to record the Festival for a possible album documenting it?
ZM: Oh, for sure. My engineer/sound tech extraordinaire Frey will be set up back of house tracking everything that transpires. We’ll see how it comes out. I don’t know if we’ll try to do one big release or let each band decide to do their own. But, speaking for the Owls, we always encourage fans to make their own recordings as well.
Figment News: What band are you most looking forward to seeing play live?
ZM: Can I say all of them? Cause that’s the truth, but I’ll tell you…Grover Clifton, or Neckbone as he’s known, is about the most gifted musician I’ve ever heard. That cat can jam! He can take a simple phrase or 3 chord progression and turn it inside out in n-dimensions and then bring it all right back to the groove without even testing his skill.
Figment News: With only 8 bands playing over 3 days, what other activities will be taking place at the Festival? Any truth to the rumor that Devendra Banhart will be running a underarm braiding tent concession at the Festival?
ZM: [laughs] Wow! Devendra…he is welcome for sure. Hell, if he shows up, I’m draggin’ him on stage with us. I’d love to hear his warble over the purr and growl of my Leslie. But yeah…there’s going to be all kinds of crazy stuff going on. We’re bringing in a full size Ferris Wheel, lots of vendors and artists…one of our local glass blowers is settin’ up shop and people can get a custom one of a kind smoking utensil made for them right at the show. Lots of other stuff too but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll just have to come see for yourself.
Figment News: Any concerns that the Merchants of Metal Festival in Chicago will steal some of the audience for your Festival? It is only 2 days before it.
ZM: [more laughter] No man. No worries on that front. The public needs as many of these events as possible. In fact…I plan on attending the Merchants of Metal Festival myself. There’s some crazy bands playing that thing. And that drummer from Zeroth…”K”…man that guy is nuts! Crazy with papers! Have you heard him? He is outa control good. And besides it’s only about a six hour drive from Chicago to the Twin Cities. How cool would that be for people to hit them both and turn it into a five day party?!?
Figment News: If you could have invited a band unaffiliated with Uncle Duff Records to join the line up, what band would it have been?
ZM: Whew, man there’s so many out there right now that I’m really diggin’. I’ve been listening to the Rastapharaohs a lot lately, that would be cool, or like, Colonel Abstract & the Dangers, FusterCluck, maybe Dementerhosen. You know, Neutron Emission is doing some pretty cool stuff right now…real earthy. It would be cool to see Pusher jam with the Agua Netz, or Beijing Bling with Notorious A.i.G. I don’t know man…there’s so many. I wish we could stage a year long festival.