All posts by Oliver Sheppard

Oliver Sheppard is a music writer from Texas. He's currently involved in organizing the weekly Wardance event in Dallas and the monthly Funeral Parade deathrock event in Austin. Oliver also runs the irregular Total War! and Folk Division neofolk nights in both cities. Oliver was born in Nashville, Tennessee and his favorite color is blue.
Annex

An interview with Texas dark punk/postpunk band Annex
by Oliver Sheppard

With current and former members of Confused, Porkeria, Bastard Sons of Apocalypse, and Accuse in their ranks, McAllen, Texas band Annex‘s turn towards a darker postpunk sound might surprise some.

Started in Summer 2013, guitarist Migas mentions how the tight-knit scene in the band’s Texas/Mexico border town has influenced the band’s music: “I would say the scene here is very diverse,” says Migas. “Basically the people you would see at hardcore punk shows, there’s a possible chance you’ll see them at a goth night, or an 80’s new/dark/cold wave event.” Bridging these musically diverse scenes is something ANNEX has achieved with its 4-song EP, Joy Division covers, and upcoming dark postpunk material (An LP is in the works). In reality, Annex play a blend of peace punk, postpunk and deathrock that was not too uncommon in the “positive punk” scene in the UK of yesteryear (The clumsily-named proto-gothic rock/punk scene that included Vex, Blood and Roses, Famous Impostors, Brigandage, Lost Cherrees and others), before these disparate styles of music had become, well, disparate styles of music, and had lost all sense of relation to one another. Annex do a superb job of linking the music all back up together, and it was a pleasure to be able to hear their thoughts on music and what being in a band like theirs is like in a Texas/Mexico border town.

(Additionally, below there is some info on a mini-Texas tour of sorts of theirs coming up at the end of August.)


Annex August tour
Annex August Texas tour


ANNEX’s Nikole, Migas, and Gabo were interviewed by Oliver in July, 2014.

Q: Can you give us all the lowdown on when ANNEX started, where you are from, and who all founded the band versus who is in it now?

Migas: We’re from McAllen, TX, where the heat is scorching…haha no joke! We live about 15 minutes away from the U.S./Mexico border, so you can say we’re at the most southern tip of Texas. The area we live in is also known as the Rio Grande Valley or the Valley for short. Our permanent line-up is: Nikole – Vox, Gabo – Bass, Arno – Drums and Me on Guitar.

Nikole: Migas and I started writing music together in the Summer of 2013, and it was basically an instant click since we share a lot of the same musical influences. We thought it’d be different to start a band like ANNEX since we’ve played and delved in other musical genres before, but never post-punk. Plus, playing this style of music isn’t common in the Valley. Gabo and Ramiro joined ANNEX around last November, Gabo on bass and Ramiro on drums. We worked with Arno and Threat to Society Recordings to record, produce and master our four track, self-titled EP. We released the EP this past March and played a few shows around Texas. Ramiro left the band so we asked Arno to join in on drums which has really flowed because he was already familiar with the music from the recording sessions.

Gabo: We’re all from little cities around McAllen, TX, but we just say McAllen because it’s so much easier to explain. I had known for some time that Migas was writing for a new project. He actually had invited me to check out what he had been writing. It was sometime in October, and I really liked what I heard and after that I wanted to join for sure. So we got together in November and Migas invited Ramiro to fill in on drums and we just started creating music from that point on. Although Ramiro isn’t with us anymore, our drummer Arno has exceeded our expectations and he’s such a great person to work with.



Q: I know Migas was in Bastard Sons of Apocalypse and also ACCUSE. What are some bands that some of the other members have been in?

Nikole: I played bass in Porkeria (McAllen, Texas) around 2009 for about a year and later joined Confused (Edinburg, Texas) in 2010. I met Arno when I was in Confused since he’s their drummer. Confused is a hardcore punk band from the 80’s which originated here in the Valley and has strong ties as one of the original HC punk bands in the Valley. All of us in ANNEX have been part of various projects that have been short lived or that have continued, and that’s really cool since we’ve all been musically active in different branches of the scene for quite some time.


Annex in Austin, at Funeral Parade
Annex in Austin, TX


Q: About your name, “Annex.” Who thought of it, and what it is supposed to mean or represent?

Nikole: The idea of “Annex” encompasses isolation or distancing oneself away from all external surroundings. I thought of the name ANNEX before I had written any lyrics because I wanted to write around the band name and the feelings it provokes. It calls for a state of seclusion where one is able to escape from things that may negatively distract them from engaging in their own well-being (at the risk of sounding selfish! haha). I also interpret ANNEX to be an extension of each of us in the band. This is really important since we all contribute in our own ways. I can definitely tell how this band has grown us and, now, when I think of ANNEX, I think of the effort we each display and the great times we have building this band together.



Q: Tell me a bit about the town you all are from, McAllen. Were you all originally from there, did some of you move there, and, most importantly, what is the punk or underground music scene like there? Is it hard being in a band like Annex in McAllen?

Migas: I’m actually from a small town called Alamo, Texas. It’s right outside of McAllen. All of us are from different cities around the McAllen area, but every city is pretty much glued together, so you can say it’s very convenient to get around. By far, McAllen is where the scene is at down here for us on this side of the Valley. It has grown in population over the last decade, so it’s always good to see new faces doing their own thing. I would say the scene is very diverse, basically the people you would see at hardcore punk shows, there’s a possible chance you’ll see them at a goth night or an 80’s new/dark/cold wave event. Being in this band has been really fun and it seems like the people around us are very supportive and enjoy everything about us and how we present ourselves. I just think we’re trying to do something completely different versus what has already been done in this area.

Gabo: I grew up in Mexico and I moved to the Valley in my late teenage years. I’ve been in thrash and HC punk bands down here before and there’s a strong scene supporting that music. Living in a border town and being in a band like ANNEX has been a different experience so far. I guess it’s because people are more conservative around here and are used to what they’ve grown up with. Regardless, we definitely do receive support from people who have heard our recordings or who have seen us. Even friends from surrounding cities around the Valley are supportive. In a few years, maybe there will be a bigger post-punk scene down here.


Annex live


Q: You all seem to have backgrounds in the DIY hardcore punk scene, but I wouldn’t call Annex a hardcore punk band. What sorts of responses have you gotten from folks in the hardcore punk scene? Have they been receptive, positive, or has there been snarkiness, etc., about the music being slow, riding a trend, and that lame crap that comes up?

Migas: Yeah I agree, I don’t really think we are a hardcore punk band at all… Although we are HC punks, I would just say we are a post-punk band trying to stay in tune and on time. Haha… But yeah, all of us are DIY punks and most of our friends are in hardcore punk bands, so it’s quite a transition when they hear us and see us live. We definitely get awesome feedback on how it’s a darker and more experimental side of punk than what most people are used to. I think that the pace we play at is full of expressions and emotions, and people who have seen us say that it reminds them of music writing from a different decade. Just as long as I’m not putting someone to sleep, that’s fine with me! haha

Nikole: Overall, we’ve gotten a really good response from people who have made it out to watch us perform. We’ve received comments about how ANNEX resembles 80’s darkwave or UK Anarcho Punk, which is taken as a great compliment. I think the sound we have is different from the majority of bands playing here in the scene. Typically, we fit in more with the darkwave, Goth scene that’s alive and kicking in the Valley, even though we’re mostly tied to the DIY scene. I think our sound has elements from punk to post-punk and dark-wave, that gains the attention of people who listen to different genres.



Q: And so about the sound of Annex: Are there any musical guideposts or influences that, well, influenced you to have the sound you do? I remember telling Migas after seeing you live it sort of reminded me of Vex, but of course with a female singer. I’m guessing the non-thrash anarcho-punk bands like Rubella Ballet were an influence? And what about gothic rock or deathrock?

Migas: Hmmm… There’s so much great music out there. Let’s see, my influences for this particular band are: Musta Paraati, Siekiera, Coïtus Int., Pyhät Nuket, The Skeletal Family, Vex, Crisis and of course Killing Joke! But I also listen to bands like Ruleta Rusa, Las Rodilleras, Crimen, Cuidad Lineal, She Past Away, La URSS, Rakta, Fluffers etc… I really like to experiment with different elements, sounds and altogether production from all sorts of genres. So I can’t really say our influences or our style comes from one source or one specific genre. It’s a mixture of what I think really fits. At the moment, everything happens to shift from one song to the next or from one practice to another… It’s awesome to hear how our sound is developing and constantly growing.

Nikole: The music writing typically flows because Migas and I share the same vision for ANNEX and, plus, we trust Migas’ music writing, ideas, and suggestions. More often than not, I am more attracted to European vocalists and tend to gain influences from their strong singing. We do have a lot of influences, yet I think we tend to extract certain components of songs, rather than an entire band’s style, and re-create the pieces to innovate our sound.


annexlive


Q: In my mind, you all are one of a handful of bands in Texas that belongs to a broader scene that seems especially big on the two US coasts and includes bands like Arctic Flowers, Stranger, Moral Hex, etc., and which I suppose also includes bands like Belgrado in Spain, Rakta in Brazil, Pleasure Leftists in the Midwest, etc., etc. Is that where you see yourselves fitting in, and what do you think of that side of the punk scene that’s been emerging over the past few years?

Migas: All of those bands that you mentioned are really great. I would like to think we do fit in the same genre, but of course every band has their own sound and their own twist to it. I mean, there’s a lot of good music coming out every day and it’s great because more and more people find it so appealing. The scene keeps growing and there’s a good amount of people coming out to shows and supporting each other… and that’s what it really is all about.

Nikole: I’d definitely say ANNEX fits into the post-punk/darkwave punk scene. When we first started writing ANNEX, we contemplated over how our music would be perceived because we could never really say we sounded like a particular band. We have actually just let others draw their own conclusions about where ANNEX fits in with well-established or up-and-coming post-punk bands. Every band has their own particular sound, yet they’re still collective through musical elements, which is amazing. All the relevant bands are able to keep their own identity while being a part of a unique genre of punk that ties them altogether. This wave is definitely a darker, maybe slower, more melodic segment of punk that’s intriguing and, I feel, a sort of revival of a sound that was left in the 80’s.



Q: Does Annex express anarchist convictions in your music? What are your political beliefs, and do these in any way guide the ethos or lyrics-writing process of the band?

Nikole: In a sense, a good portion of the lyric writing is derived from feeling free, however that may be perceived, and definitely being free from ties to organizations, authoritative figures, entities which try to hold a tight grip onto all of us. There are a couple of songs, like “No Warning” and “Spirit Sin,” that, lyrically, are politically related. However, the writing is mostly done from a reflective stance. I’ve never identified with being too politically concerned, and I believe that’s due to being tainted by the different levels of government. I just want to take a step back and anticipate that good principles and morals will overcome the inconvenience of politics. When writing lyrics, I focus on the way something or an event makes someone feel and it’s often done in a vague manner because I’d hope listeners are able to take the lyrics and interpret them to their liking, whether they feel a political connection or not.


annexblack


Q: Fave question to ask bands: If you were stranded on a deserted island for the rest of your life, and somehow had the means to bring vinyl and make a record player work, what would be the 5 LPs you would choose to have with you for the rest of your life?

Migas: I seriously think that’s one of the toughest questions to ask someone.. Off the top of my head in no particular order… Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power, The Adverts Crossing the Red Sea with The Adverts, Killing Joke S/T, Musta Paraati Peilitalossa, Siekiera Nowa Aleksandra.

Nikole: Depeche Mode Singles 81-89, XMal Deutschland Viva, Ana Curra Volviendo A Las Andadas, Avengers S/T, & Lebanon Hanover The World is Getting Colder


Q: I know you all recently contributed a Joy Division cover for the CVLT Nation Unknown Pleasures covers project. And you all have the cassette demo. Are there any upcoming releases you all have in the works? Where can folks go to get these?

Migas: It was much appreciated when ANNEX got asked to record the cover we did for Joy Division’s “Day of the Lords”… one of the few pioneers of the movement, and by far one of the greatest bands of our time. We have an LP in the works coming out really soon and our demo cassettes that are still available. We’re releasing a limited edition cassette (50) with 2 songs off the demo and 2 off the LP as a teaser till our release date. Hopefully you guys can get your hands on these! You can contact us at: annex956@gmail.com.

Nikole – We really put so much into the recordings we have! Being asked to be a part of the Unknown Pleasures covers presented such an awesome experience for us because we got to really see what we were capable of as a band, since we’ve only been together a short while. We’re currently in the works of completing our LP called Despues de VI. It’s an eleven track LP we are really looking forward to releasing because we’ve definitely grown as a band and our sound is now more defined and distinct. We’ll leak a couple of finished tracks before it’s released by a label but we’ll definitely keep everybody updated!

Q: Thank you so much for you time!

ANNEX: Thank you Oliver! Cheers!


ANNEX have a Facebook page here.

They also have a Bandcamp page here.

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See also:

CVLT Nation’s write-up on Annex here.

CVLT Nation Deathrock Mix Tape 2014, Part 1 (which features the track “Nightmares” by Annex).

The CVLT Nation Sessions: Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” covers (which features Annex’s cover of Joy Division’s “Day of the Lords”)

RAKTA

An interview with Brazil’s RAKTA
by Oliver Sheppard

“A more psychedelic and garagey Xmal Deutschland” might be one way to describe Rakta’s hypnotic and layered, guitar-based, gothy punk rock. Their music garnered lots of praise early this year across various ‘zines and on quite a few garage, punk, and deathrock websites (including here at CVLT Nation). The Brazilian all-female band’s music is characterized (as I wrote in an earlier review) by “echoing vocals, darkly swirling guitars, and spooky organs [that] pull you into a fuzzed-out soundscape drenched in ghostly reverb, drawing you down a sonic vortex and into a hauntingly psychedelic world that seems one part psych garage, one part deathrock, and one part spaced out dark punk rock.”

The review of Rakta’s 2013 self-titled LP in the February, 2014 Maximum Rock ‘n Roll (#370) (“Record of the Week”) was almost too over the top, but accurately captures the excitement that exists about the band:

“RATKA is an all-female band from São Paulo, Brazil, that seem to have come from out of nowhere to make most of the current post-punk/anarcho wave completely irrelevant. This is the next level in this style, borrowing elements from all the spooky classics, but adding something so undeniably new and unique that the game is permanently changed. RAKTA eliminates all sense of retro-ness to the style and come off like they just now invented the damn thing. The songs create an otherworldly atmosphere while still keeping your feet tapping. It transports you to this weird dimension that feels like it’s trying to keep you inside of it forever. It would have been the perfect soundtrack for a Maya Deren film.”

So what I think the MRR reviewer is trying to say is that the LP is good. I concur.

Rakta’s 6-song, self-titled album came out in December 2013 on Nada Nada Discos, also the label of Cadaver Em Transe, another highly recommended darker punk band. Rakta’s record was also recently made more widely available stateside by Texas’s 540 Records.

It was a pleasure to be able to talk to the band about their music, what inspires it, and what their future plans as a group are.


raktalpcover


Rakta members Carla, Laura, Natha, and Paula were interviewed by Oliver in July, 2014.

Q: First thing I have to ask: The band name, “Rakta” – is it a Portuguese word? What does “RAKTA” mean and who thought of it?

RAKTA: Rakta is not in Portuguese. It’s Hindu. Rakta is a sanskrit word – it means “red, blood, passion, power, strong energy….”


Rakta People
Rakta people


Q: For folks who may be reading about you for the first time, can you give us some basic details? By this I mean: When did RAKTA start, who were the founding members, and who are the members of RAKTA now?

RAKTA: We started in 2011, but our first gig was in 2012.

Rakta started because Carla bought a bass and was looking to start a band. She spoke with Natha about it, and both were looking to other people who were meant to play other instruments. Natha had a band before called VÍTIMA, and that band was over, so she wanted to start another one. That’s when Rakta was formed.

And yes, our founding members are the same as the current lineup of RAKTA. Carla, Laura, Natha and Paula.



Q: What releases do you have out so far?

RAKTA: Our first release was on Virus Tropical, a K7 by Jamaican Nights Tapes (a shitty DIY tape label based in São Paulo made by Rakta members and good friends of us) with other bands including Cadaver em Transe, Likso, and Gattopardo. This tape traveled a lot around the world and a lot of punks may have their own copies. We are planning to make more copies.  

In 2012 we recorded, and just in 2013 we released our self-titled LP on Nada Nada Discos and Dama da Noite Discos. After that, we released a special tape for our South America tour called “Tudo que é Sólido desmancha no ar” with our 2 new songs.


/// raktour sul 2014 from Maria Paula on Vimeo.


Q: Your sound, to me, seems inspired by psych-garage rock, early 80s deathrock, postpunk, and also just plain old punk. Would you agree with this? What was the result that you all were going for when you started to make music? Were you thinking, “Oh, we should play darker stuff mixed with garage punk,” or – what was the thinking behind the music?

RAKTA: Honestly, when we started the band we didn’t have in mind what it was gonna sound like. It was a free-form experiment.

We tried to play some cover songs, including songs by Discharge and Ramones, but nothing was going the right way, so we decided to try playing something that was more us. Actually Paula, in our first rehearsal, was saying all the time, “We should make our own song!!” So we started to make our song “REPETITION” that’s on our LP, and right after that came our “WELCOME TO THE FOREST” song.




Q: What bands do you feel have had the biggest influences on RAKTA’s sound? I don’t necessarily mean what what bands you personally like, as individual members; I’m wondering what bands you think are reflected in RAKTA’s sound, and who influenced that?

RAKTA: We are influenced by people who produce something that’s true to themselves. Rakta was made by that. We love to play with bands that have the guts to do anything they want, that like to experience new ways and forms to produce their music.

Musically, it’s really hard to give you an answer. We all have too much in common and sometimes nothing in common. We know that people usually compare us to Xmal Deustchland and other peace and postpunk bands of that the time. And we do like of all these bands, but we are not attached to the genre. Actually, we are not attached to anything, and this is what we are trying to advocate.

Q: Speaking of favorite bands, who are your favorite older bands to listen to?

Natha: My fave band is Big Boys.

Laura: My favorite band is Gauze, but I do love Cólera.

Paula: Pink Floyd, Sleep, Dead Can Dance, Crass, Can, Nic, Feederz.



Q: Who are your favorite newer and currently-existing bands that you feel like are worth listening to? What other bands do you feel like are making music that is worth hearing right now?

Natha: My new favorite band is a Brazilian hardcore band called GUAST!

Laura: Hard question. There are a lot of good current bands going right now. I think I go more for of the radical and badly-played bands that seem to be more sensitive than anything I’ve heard before. I don’t like beautiful music. I don’t even like artists. I like music filled with ideas and meanings, and there are not a lot of bands that I’d include in this small group. But I can say FRAU, LAS OTRAS, HYSTERICS, ORDEN MUNDIAL, PIÑÉN, GOOD THROB, POST and REPLICA. Damn, I like it angry.

Paula: REPLICA, ALL THEM WITCHES and PURPLE RHINESTONE EAGLE, and a recent Brazilian band called POST.

Carla: My favorite Brazilian bands right now are TEST and BUGIO.


Rakta Tree


Q: Is it true one of you all went to France to see a PART 1 show? Has PART 1 played any role in influencing what RAKTA’s music is all about?

RAKTA: Well, it wasn’t a concert in France. It was in London, and not just one of us was there, but actually two. Carla and Laura were travelling around Europe together and they knew before arriving in Europe that PART1 was going to make a concert after a lot of years. It was a good adventure.

They arrived there early and met PART1, Integrants, and a lot of punk icons – hahaha. People of The Mob, Hagar the Womb, the Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine… It was a night of good beers, radical music, good friends, good chats… A night to remember.

So, it might be influenced. Carla says that it influenced her a little.


Q: It looks like 540 Records in Texas is re-pressing the vinyl of your 12″ release for stateside consumption. When will this happen, and do you have any other new recording projects in the works?

RAKTA: Yes, it is available right now! We have to thank Timmy for his support and interest in the band. He just wrote us and said, “I want to release your LP record.” And we thought, “WHY??” Hahaha, but it happened.

And ah! About new projects, we are working on our 7’’ EP with 2 new songs that will be ready soon.


Rakta's singer


Q: A question I ask all bands: If you all were stranded on a desert island, and somehow magically had the means to play records, but could only take 5 records with you, what would those 5 records be?

Natha: Big Boys records and definitely Ramones.

Laura: Hahaha, maybe Cólera Pela “Paz em Todo Mundo” LP, Crass’s 7’’ EP “Nagasaki Nightmare,” Gauze’s “Fuckheads” LP, Las Otras’ “Devolver el Golpe” LP, and Ras Michael and Sons of Negus LP. Nyahbinghi compilation.

Paula: This is so hard. Om, “Advaitic Songs“; Pedro Santos, “Krishnanda“; Spacemen 3, “Playing with Fire“; Dead Can Dance, “Spiritchaser“; Pink Floyd, “Live at Pompeii.”

Carla: Melody Nelson, Serge Gainsbourg. Universal Consciousness, Alice Coltrane. Ramones, Ramones. Black Ark in Dub, Lee Perry. Garlands, Cocteau Twins. Future Days, Can.


Q: Is RAKTA a political band in anyway? What are your lyrics about? Can you describe the lyrical and singing style of the band?

RAKTA: In SOME WAY RAKTA is a political band. Each member has their own view about RAKTA being a political band, or not. Individually, each one of us has our own beliefs and practices. We didn’t start the band because we had a political emphasis. We started because we wanted to play and discover what could come from that. Being an all-women band is something that empowers us and, consequently, the people that surround us. They can feel what we are doing there and what we are playing. The singing and lyrical style came naturally, as did all the rest. Our lyrics aren’t political (in the concept as is mostly known), but they carry a deep and profound message about inner knowledge, and the micro & macro relations. This is the seed of change: discovering and revolutionizing yourself. We leave the descriptions and the labels to the people who listen to us. You can relate us to anything you want, it’s free. We just want to simply BE.


raktagroup2


Q: In February, Maximum Rock ‘n Roll gave you all an absolutely glowing review, giving your record the “Record of the Week” accolade. They wrote: “This is the next level in this style, borrowing elements from all the spooky classics, but adding something so undeniably new and unique that the game is permanently changed.” How do you feel about these comments? Are they accurate, and what is your response to them?

RAKTA: We were really surprised, and we are really glad for this review! There are no words to express that. We love you MRR!

Q: A lot of reviews will mention that you all have a gothy or deathrock sound, and it seems a lot of the folks that like you all consider you, for fairer or nought, to be part of the newer dark punk milieu/movement of bands like Blue Cross, Arctic Flowers, Belgrado, Pleasure Leftists, etc. Is that correct, or – what do you think of this?

RAKTA: As we already said, we dont want to be attached to any genre. We do like all of these bands. Some of these bands are great friends of ours. But when we started the band, we weren’t looking forward towards what we would play. No one in RAKTA was a musician that played in a orchestra or had a lot of experience in bands. When we started to make our music, we were playing what we could play, not trying to make something post-punk or deathrock style. Of course, we like it, but, honestly? We don’t feel part of it.


Rakta flyer


Q: Will you all be touring any time soon? What about any future tours to the USA? When might that happen?

RAKTA: In 2014, we will do a US tour in October and a European tour in November as well. Fuck yeah!

Q: Where can readers go to find out more about the band? What websites can people go to to check out your music?

RAKTA: https://www.facebook.com/raktaraktarakta

Q: Thank you so much for the interview! Is there anything I neglected to ask, or anything you’d like to say that you didn’t get a chance to, so far? If so, go ahead and say it here!

RAKTA: Thanks Oliver to make this interview, thank you about the support and the interest in the band. We are glad for that. What we forgot to say? Let’s keep DIY punk going!


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See also: A Review of Rakta’s 6-song, self-titled 12 inch here.

And CVLT Nation’s Deathrock 2014 Mixtape, Part 1, here. (Contains their song “Life Comes From Death.”)

dsr140_Underpass_Assimilation

Glorious & Moving Post -Punk!
UNDERPASS “Assimilation” LP Review + Stream



Vancouver, BC/Olympia, WA’s UNDERPASS are a very special band indeed: sounding like Mancunians from 1980, the icy and despondent dark postpunk of the band might have been released on early Factory Records or on 4AD when bands like The Wake and Mass characterized those labels’ sounds. The 6-song Assimilation LP swells with the tragic spirit of bands like Glorious Din, the Chameleons, and Modern Eon (a band a friend introduced me to belatedly). And, yes, although it feels a little lazy for a music writer to say so these days, the cold and disaffected tones of Joy Division can be heard running through Assimilation, too. The thing is, Underpass do it incredibly well.

A 4-piece band led by Alexander Miranda, it’s hard to believe that the band began only a year ago (!) given the maturity of the songwriting on display on the LP. The opening track, “Pain of Trust,” is as perfect a blending of the sounds of Joy Division and the Sound as I’ve ever heard. The lyrics, especially, seem like something that the Sound’s Adrian Borland might have written: “I feel solitary / When I’m with you / Do you feel the pain of trust? / House is always empty / The shadows I feel / Do you feel the pressure of lust?” (There is an earlier version of this song on Underpass’s “About Violence” cassette, but the version here on Assimilation is amazing.)


Underpass
Underpass


The third track, “Tomorrow’s Voices,” starts off with tribal-ish drums and a bass guitar that might have been written by Peter Hook on Closer. But Miranda’s vocals are more in line with those of Modern Eon‘s Alex Johnson than with the hollow, increasingly-baritone-as-the-band-developed sound of Ian Curtis’s. While Curtis sounded progressively detached and disaffected as Joy Division went on – and while many postpunk bands have since tried to emulate that vocal style – Miranda’s vocals feel vulnerable, fragile: more in line with those of the oft-neglected Eric Cope of Glorious Din. They’re certainly Miranda’s own, however – very distinct, earnest, pulling the listener in.



Drummer MW’s minimal percussion – only a floor tom and a snare drum – is strikingly effective. In fact, Underpass as a whole is a very minimalist, almost coldly functional, outfit. But that the songs sound as strong as they do, regardless, is a testament to the overwhelming power of the band’s songwriting (And I’m sure that Mell Dettmer [SunO)))]‘s mastering of the record did not hurt, either!). Whereas many postpunk bands achieve their sound by adding layer upon layer of instrumentation and production, Underpass produces startlingly strong music with a spartan 4-piece setup. There are some echoes added onto the vocals, and there is a flanger pedal on the guitar – imparting to the guitar tones a classically gothy, watery, warbly sound, sometimes reminiscent of Robert Smith’s guitar style – and atmospheric synths and NC’s excellent bass playing round out the sound, but there’s not a surplus of instruments used on Underpass’s record.

Sonically, Underpass’s contemporary compatriots, to me, are bands like Population (Chicago) and the more recent stuff from the Spectres. Underpass are a Pacific Northwest band, and it’s true that bands like the Prids and Infidel are also making compelling dark music in this area, too. But there’s something especially captivating about Underpass: they’re at turns melancholy, nostalgic, painfully sweet, beautiful, and haunting. A “Best of 2014″ shoe-in.


Underpass live


Assimilation will be released by Desire Records on August 24, 2014. You can pre-order it here.

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Underpass have a Facebook page here.

They have a Bandcamp page here.

They also have a Digital Fanclub on Tumblr here.

kurrakalp

Dark Raw Punk At Its Best!
KURRAKÄ s/t LP Review + Stream+ Tour News

Texas punk band KURRAKÄ‘s 10-song self-titled LP is a blistering dark thrash attack that borrows elements from bands like Tozibabe, from the dark punk tradition of “Siniestro” Spanish bands like Paralasis Permanente, Morticia y Los Decrepitos, and Alaska y los Pegamoides; and (musically and viewpoint-wise) from the anarcho-punk tradition of bands like Dirt.

In fact, the first song on the new album, “Via El Ruido,” which has been in the band’s repertoire since their 2012 demo, seems to pay tribute at a few points to a lick or two from the SUB HUM ANS’ “Subvert City.” Most of the best and energetic punk as of late has re-appropriated older punk tropes, riffs, and memes, and has re-incorporated these into an altogether new cocktail of energy. KURRAKÄ do just this – to galvanizing, invigorating effect. KURRAKÄ’s self-titled LP is simply an awesome, awesome album. (See TRABUC Records for purchasing info. Check out Todo Destruido as well.)


Kurraka. Photo by Lizzbeth Tamburri.
Kurraka. Photo by Lizzbeth Tamburri.


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Kurraka at Funeral Parade in Autin, TX. Photo by Oliver.
Kurraka at Funeral Parade in Austin, TX. Photo by Oliver.


In the old days, rock music critics called three-piece, guitar-driven acts, like Nirvana (HEH!), “power trios.” Recently, KURRAKÄ played a deathrock event in Austin, Funeral Parade, that was also coincidentally a tribute night to a true power trio – Rudimentary Peni. It’s that sort of three-piece powerhouse of a band that KURRAKÄ deserve comparison to more than any one else. Their own Bandcamp page uses the genre tag “Dark raw punk,” and this is pretty much how KURRAKÄ deserve to be described, just like their fellow punks in Austin’s Deskonocidos (RIP): Dark, raw punk. Period.

Singer Dru’s vocals resonate with the sort of echoey reverb I haven’t heard in a band this fast since Spain’s (quite awesome) Invasion played Chaos in Tejas some years back. (“No power, no slave!”) Indeed, KURRAKÄ are fellow Texans, so I feel a little bias in their favor here, to be honest. Whatever the case, they’re an amazing band, best seen live, as all good bands are. Singer Dru Molina also sings for Austin’s Criaturas, another band worth checking out.


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My favorite songs by KURRAKÄ are the stomping mid-tempo numbers they play — like the song “Hysteria” on this LP. Live, especially, “Hysteria” is a very powerful song. (But maybe I only like mid-tempo stuff because I am getting old!) Unlike many current punk bands that incorporate postpunk influences but are wont to acknowledge it, Kurraka do not shy away from their Siniestro/deathrock influences. But again, let’s be clear: Kurraka play full-bore, fast, punk rock. Like Paralasis Permanente, and Morticia y Los Decreptios, and Alaska y los Pegamoides, which are similarly aggressive yet dark punk bands — it all ultimately stems from a certain grim take on overdriven rock and roll.



KURRAKÄ’s 2014 self-titled LP, for the most part, is a no-holds-barred attack against the listener, a cascade of energy and ferocity, driven by a relentless rhythm section and heralded all by Dru’s charging vocal assault. It’s a black avalanche of pure Texas punk rock, determined to overwhelm the senses and eardrums. KURRAKÄ’ debut s/t LP is an aural assault of the first order, an audaciously blistering attack against all senses.


Kurraka. Photo by Lizzbeth Tamburri
Kurraka. Photo by Lizzbeth Tamburri


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KURRAKÄ MUNDO OSCURO East Coast/Mid-West Tour 2014 INFO Go HERE!!!:

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Special thanks to Lizzbeth Tamburri for the photos. Lizzbeth is a photographer based in Austin, Texas.


Kurraka at Funeral Parade in Austin, TX. Photo by Oliver.
Kurraka at Funeral Parade in Austin, TX. Photo by Oliver.
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Black Metal meets Post-Punk: Hateful Abandon’s “Liars/Bastards”

Bristol, England’s Hateful Abandon are probably one of the more adventurous and ambitious bands around these days. Rooted, ultimately, in the black metal scene (specifically, depressive black metal bands Abandon and Basilisk), around 2006 or so frontman Vice Martyr took his project in a surprising new direction, mining British postpunk, goth, and anarcho-punk for the unique LP that would end up becoming 2008′s “Famine (or into the Bellies of Worms)”. That debut LP is a bleak marriage of Vice’s deep, sonorous vocals with the old school black metal of Darkthrone and the gothy postpunk sounds of bands like Joy Division and the Sisters of Mercy.

The new “Liars/Bastards” release is Hateful Abandon’s 3rd full length, and the two-man project (Tom of black metal band Swine handles the percussion and other instruments) has increasingly incorporated industrial (in the old school sense), gloomy synth pop, and dark ambient sounds into its arsenal. And they do it quite well indeed.

The last track on “Liars/Bastards,” for example, “December,” starts off like a rumbling, tribal number one might expect to find on something like Killing Joke’s 1990 “Extremities, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions” LP. About halfway into the song, however — which is over 10 and a half minutes long — the piece transforms into a bleak and gloomy soundscape that’s a little more reminiscent of something Lustmord might conjure up. In fact, the Blade Runner atmosphere is laid on thick and heavy for this part; the second half of the song would be perfect on the soundtrack of that movie — a foreboding ambient piece that sounds like Vangelis had just listened to Current 93′s Dogs Blood Rising.

Track 5, “The Walker,” has an official video, below. This song has a more militaristic feel that is characteristic of Hateful Abandon’s better forays into industrial music (see, for example, the excellent track “Poundland” off their 2nd LP, Move — a marching, aggressive political postpunk-meets-industrial-meets-synth-pop call to arms). The influences of older industrial bands like Mussolini Headkick (“Themes for Violent Retribution”) and the politics of bands like New Model Army, Crass, and Flux of Pink Indians make themselves apparent. In fact, on a lot of Hateful Abandon’s more recent stuff, there is barely any black metal influence to be heard at all, except occasionally in Vince’s angry, echoing vocals. In other words, one needn’t have any knowledge of the band’s black metal roots to enjoy the music, which stands on its own as excellent dark synth/industrial/postpunk. Vice’s stern, commanding, deep voice at times reminds me of Rome’s Jerome Reuter, or some of the other martial industrial vocalists one encounters in the more militaristic side of the post-industrial spectrum.



In a 2006 interview, Vice Martyr explained his turn towards a more postpunk influence in his songwriting:

It’s pretty confusing when you sit down to perform a Black Metal record and the sound that emanates from the speakers is not Black Metal at all. Couple that with the recent spate of ‘cut n’ paste’ Black Metal that gets churned out of teenagers’ bedrooms on an almost daily basis, and you get a pretty frustrated person. [...] I’ll never let any ‘genre traps’ get in the way of my musical output ever again… Music genres are a total fucking con, created by music journalists in suits and ties that want to sell you magazines. Hateful Abandon and anything I do in the future is simply music… not Black Metal, not Metal… just music. People can call it Black Metal I suppose, that’s convenient if they simply HAVE to put everything in one little neat and tidy slot. There’s NEVER a limit.


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Track 4, “The Test” is more of a straightforward noir synth-pop number, utilizing samples and an array of dark synths:



It’s track 2, “Culprit,” that may be my favorite on the LP. Again there’s a militaristic feel coupled with atmospheric, gloomy keyboards, and swirling, slashing postpunk guitar sounds that I think characterizes a lot of HA’s best stuff. One thing that cannot be over-emphasized is the incredible job that Swine’s Tom has done on the drumming. Live drumming mixed with programmed drum machines (or at least that’s how it sounds to me) is combined with the percussive effects of old-school industrial sounds: Things like chains clinking, oil drums being pounded, metal scraping against metal, etc. The element of experimentation that drove bands like Savage Republic and Einsterzende Neubauten to make music is on display on much of HA’s work.



Hateful Abandon’s music is usually shoe-horned into the newer “post-black metal” category I’ve seen bandied about for the past 6 years or so: A newer genre tag that includes bands like Lifelover and Circle of Ouroborus, apparently. Whatever you want to call the music, it’s good. I think “Liars/Bastards” is a better and more cohesive LP than their sophomore Move LP, personally. It’s a post-apocalyptic journey that isn’t bound by artificial genre conventions, incorporating the best elements of the rebellious ideology of Crass records, the original spirit of industrial innovation that drove labels like Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial records, and the somber postpunk and gothic rock of bands like Joy Division and Killing Joke.

You can get Hateful Abandon’s “Liars/Bastards” LP from Todestrieb Records, here.

Hateful Abandon have a Facebook page here.


Hateful Abandon - "Liars/Bastards"

Dekoder - Flowers to Clossom

Epic Post-Punk/Anarcho-Goth
Dekoder’s “Flowers to Blossom” LP – Review and Streaming

Dekoder’s second 12″ is a 6-song mid-tempo combo of old school gothic rock, anarcho-punk and plain old ’77 style punk, influenced by the more thoughtful side of the punk musical spectrum (more on the Penetration side of things than, say, the Blatz side of things). As with a lot of the female-fronted bands working in this contemporary peace punk-meets-goth milieu, the stand-out quality here are the vocals. The vocal talents of bands like Pleasure Leftists, Blue Cross (who are label mates with Dekoder), and Masquerade comprise one of the more noteworthy aspects of all this Epic postpunk/anarcho-goth revivalist stuff.

The opening song, “Pleasure,” is probably the strongest track on the release: Megan’s vocals are just great. This might sound odd — maybe even off-putting to some — but I’ll be damned if the vocals aren’t like a powerful combo of Pat Benatar’s (“Love is a Battlefield”) and Gitane Demone’s, as I’ve pointed out before. Seriously; just listen (and you can stream the EP, below). The rhythm section is powerful, too: Track 2, “Feels Like Dying,” seems to borrow its groove from Amebix’s “Chain Reaction” or New Model Army’s “Living in the Rose.” Good stuff.



It’s worth quoting the excellent Terminal Escape blog here, which was used to circulate Dekoder’s 2010 demo:

“Female fronted goth/post punk from Montreal, these songs sound instantly familiar and welcoming. Perhaps it’s because this is descended from the same species of underground music that first pulled me away from pop music, but I felt an instant connection to this music, as if it had been in my life for years. The vocals drip with Siouxsie’s influence and the guitars are ripped from the hands of grudgingly infectious bands like INTERPOL and returned to a circa 1979 Bernard Sumner, where they belong. Subdued and deliberate, calculated and penetrating, there are only four songs here, but DEKODER are nothing short of brilliant.”

As far as the musical direction Dekoder are going for, in an interview I did with the band a couple of years ago, vocalist Megan commented, “I feel like we take a bit from peace-punk, goth-punk and post punk. We have all played different music before so its probably a mix of a lot things.” Bassist Pete, who has also played with The Complications and Born Dead Icons, says, “I just say ‘post-punk.’ It’s a general term, but I’m not sure we fit any specific category.”



Dekoder’s “Flowers to Blossom” is an intelligent and earnest marriage of the personal themes of liberation evinced by such past bands as the Poison Girls and Rubella Ballet combined with the musical approach of groups like early Siouxsie and the Banshees, Red Scare, later Superheroines, and Legal Weapon. It’s a combo that works quite well. The “Flowers to Blossom” record will surely be on my personal year-end “Best of 2014″ list.

Interestingly, drummer David Earles has compiled a book of travel essays and photography from a recent trip he made to North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and this can be purchased with the Dekoder album from Chaos Rurale’s website. The book’s called Dragging for Bodies and is an interesting peek into one society Americans aren’t supposed to visit (N. Korea) and other places that are still recovering the war in Indo-China that devastated those countries in the 1960s and 70s. I have a copy of this book and it’s a fascinating read. It deserves its own separate review, which I’m sure I’ll write later. I think the fact that a member of Dekoder compiled such a book at all speaks to the band’s broad world outlook and overall intelligence. Good people, these Dekoder folks.

Dekoder’s “Flowers to Blossom” is available from Chao Rurale Records http://www.chaosrurale.com/

Dekoder have a Bandcamp page here and a Facebook page here.


See also:

An Interview with Dekoder
An Interview with The Complications
Deathrock 2012 Mixtape, Part 2 (which contains a Dekoder track)


Population "Relic" 7 inch

Exclusive
CVLT Nation Streaming:
Population’s new “Relic” 7″

Seattle label Nostalgium Directive will be releasing a new, two-song 7″ record from Chicago postpunk band Population in late June or July. Below is an exclusive streaming track from the new release, sure to delight anyone that’s found themselves a fan of some of the dark band’s other releases.

In the interview I did with Population a few months ago, bassist Benny Hernandez said, “I’ve always just thought of us as a punk band,” and the DIY punk ethos is there with Population’s approach to touring, making music, and putting on shows. But from a purely sonic standpoint, the music on Population’s new “Relic” 7″ (as well as on their upcoming Beyond the Pale LP on Mass Media Records) is straight up gothic rock in the vein of early Sad Lovers and Giants, early Sisters of Mercy, or Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. The title track, “Relic,” is a somber and moody postpunk song; Keelan’s vocals remind some of Tuxedomoon’s in “No Tears” or even a little of Andrew Edritch’s on the First and Last and Always LP. The song on side B, “Mourning Dawn,” is a more straightforward, mid-tempo gothic rocker. If you’re a fan of Population’s particular take on Manchester-meets-Leeds style dark postpunk, this 7″ will not disappoint.

Population "Relic" 7 inch

The packaging for the “Relic” 7″ is especially nice. According to Asa at Nostalgium Directive, “It will come in special, appropriately reliquary envelope packaging that is hand-stamped, numbered, and assembled by the band, and designed by vocalist Keelan McMorrow.” It will also include a digital download code for the mp3 version of the record.

When available, you can order the Population “Relic” seven inch at Nostalgium Directive, here.

See also:

An interview with Population
CVLT Nation Deathrock Mixtape 2013, Part 1, by Oliver Sheppard (which contains a Population track)

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Dark Punk Band of The Week:
STRANGER from Boston!

Boston’s Stranger are sick. And hard to categorize. Their Bandcamp page lists “deathrock” and “goth punk” as the two genre tags for the band, but the overall sound of the band to me often has a straightforward, mid-tempo dark crust feel. (You can decide for yourself by streaming or downloading the band’s demo below.) Bands like Witch Hunt, Decadent Few, and Burning Kitchen come to mind.

But some of Stranger’s stuff reminds me of the band Fuckmorgue from Winnipeg, Canada – a short-lived band from a decade ago that played a way-ahead-of-its-time mix of crust, gothic rock, deathrock, and black metal and which featured members of the hardcore band Under Pressure, among others. Stranger singer Brittany B’s vocals have a great Exorcist/”witchy” quality; the vocals remind me at turns of both the sort you’d be likely to encounter in black metal, and crust from the past (think Amy M. of Nausea).

I asked guitarist Drana about the band’s musical approach: “I can’t really say confidently that we fit into one particular genre,” Drana explained. “When I first started working on these songs I didn’t really have any particular genre in mind. I knew what I liked: black metal, punk, and I knew what I thought sounded good. I just wrote what I wanted to hear, which was something dark, expressive, but also raw and aggressive. But the way everything has come together, with the inclusion of Brittany B’s raw vocals and Gabe’s drumming, it sort of took on a life of its own, and everything coalesced into a cohesive sound that I would like to think crosses over both dark crust, death rock, and punk.” Bassist Brittany W. added: “I feel like me making Drana listen to Belgrado and The Mob ad nauseum had something to do with the direction we went in.”

Stranger band photo

Whatever style you want to call it, Stranger’s demo delivers mid-tempo, gloomy punk rock with exceptionally good vocals — one of my favorite finds of recent weeks, and something I heartily recommend everyone look into. (I have to thank my buddy Arjun Ray for cluing me into the group.) If you’re a fan of everything from Fenriz’s gothy black metal project Isengard, to faster 45 Grave, to Nausea, to female crust band Iawaska, you should find something in here that rocks your box. One of my favorite new bands.

You can buy Stranger’s demo on cassette HERE!

RAKTA ALBUM

This Band Is Pure Magic!
Brazil’s RAKTA’s
s/t LP Review/Video/Footage

by Oliver Sheppard

The echoing vocals, darkly swirling guitars, and spooky organs used by Brazil’s Rakta pull you into a fuzzed-out soundscape drenched in ghostly reverb, drawing you down a sonic vortex and into a hauntingly psychedelic world that seems one part psych garage, one part deathrock, and one part spaced out dark punk rock. The all female band’s 6-song, self-titled album came out in December 2013 on Nada Nada Discos, also the label of Cadaver Em Transe, another dark punk band to watch out for. Word is that Rakta’s record is due to be re-pressed and made more widely available stateside by Texas’s 540 Records soon.

The first track on Rakta’s LP, “Run to the forest/Repetition” is something best heard on a loud sound system (or good earphones). It’s only then that you can appreciate the texturing and multi-layered aspects of the song. The echoey vocals do give the track a ghostly feel; the lush waves of guitar impart a space-y feel that’s highlighted even more in the official video to a later track on the album, “Caverna” (see below) — a video that underscores some of the psychedelic tendencies hidden in the band’s deep wall of fuzz guitar and swirling layers of spectral atmosphere.


Rakta band photo


It’s track 2, “Life Comes Comes from Death,” that is my favorite. The graveyard organs and relatively straightforward, mid-tempo drum beat hint at old California deathrock of the sort made by 45 Grave and Voodoo Church. Paula’s disaffected vocals seem distant and spectral, yet powerful — like a fury hovering above the maelstrom of the music. (As someone who dj’s a regular deathrock night in Dallas, this track is a favorite of mine to play, and it almost always garners inquiries from listeners: “Who is this!?”) While some of the other tracks can tend towards the sprawling and non-linear, “Life Comes from Death” is a better than average goth-punk song that’s sure to please anyone into bands like Rubella Ballet or Hysteria.


RAKTA ALBUM


Track 4, “Take Your Time,” is a slightly harder postpunk number, musically recalling some aspects of Rubella Ballet’s “Slant and Slide,” or of early Killing Joke — but again the relentless delay and echoing vocals give it a ghostlier touch. The other songs on the album can sometimes sound slightly unfocused and sprawling, but the guiding force of Paula’s vocals — sometimes deadpan and monotone, other times banshee-like — pull the disparate elements into a cohesive whole: a haunting, gloomy, slightly witchy journey through garage punk psychedelia suffused with enticing gothic overtones. The psychedelic side of the band is show in full relief by their official video, on Vimeo, for the final track, “Caverna”:


Rakta – Caverna from Maria Paula on Vimeo.


You can stream Rakta’s 6 song album below:


Below is an impressive Youtube vide of the band playing live, outdoors in Brazil. Check it out:


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The Best Anarcho/Post Punk Song…
You Will Hear Today!
Dead Cult’s: “Ghosts Still Dance

by Oliver Sheppard

Dead Cult may be the youngest band on the resuscitated All the Madmen Records, the anarcho-punk label founded by The Mob in 1978 and resuscitated in 2012 after a nearly 25 year hiatus. Dead Cult‘s 2-song “Ghosts Still Dance” 7″ is being released in June by All the Madmen — undoubtedly an honor for the younger Portland, OR based group.

And a great 7″ it is! It’s difficult to believe that it was over 2 years ago that I interviewed Dead Cult — which CVLT Nation carried here — after hearing their demos, which founding member James Barker smartly posted onto Youtube. One of the demos included a pretty great cover of The Mob’s “Witch Hunt,” as well as several other original tracks. This included the excellent “Progression of Fear.”

The first song on “Ghosts Still Dance” is the title song — a haunting, mid-tempo postpunker, musically reminiscent of “Juju”-era Siouxsie and the Banshees. There are a few aggressive moments in the song that would seem out of place in something “Juju” era Siouxsie, however — but it all serves to tie the song’s message about the destruction of indigenous peoples to the band’s roots in punk. Singer Tawni’s vocals are at once impassioned and determined, finely honed. What struck me immediately about the song was how much more “mature” Dead Cult sounded from their demos of over 2 years ago. The band has definitely developed and has caught onto a tone of quiet ferocity in their sound that serves them well.

Dead Cult’s 7″ can be (pre-)ordered from All the Madmen Records here.

The song on side b, “No Religion,” is a foot-tapping mid-tempo punk rocker squarely in the vein of more recent bands like Arctic Flowers, Moral Hex, Annex — or older bands like Lost Cherrees and The Dead. The linchpins to the sound are 80s UK peace punk and the early gothic rock that was clumsily called “positive punk” back in the early 80s by music journalists in England. In fact, bassist James described Dead Cult’s sound as “Anarcho Goth Rock.” Singer Tawni explained: “For me, it’s Anarcho that influences me beyond anything else. James has the ideas for the more Goth-influenced songs, and I’m thrilled with how they’ve turned out. For me personally, I’d have to say bands that have influenced me the most are The Mob, Omega Tribe, Icon A.D., Alternative, Anarka and Poppy, A-heads, Zounds, and Poly Styrene will always be the first woman in punk to BLOW my mind. Always an influence.”

The 4 piece, dark, guitar-driven sounds of Dead Cult do straddle the line between postpunk, purist punk, and gothic rock in exactly the same way that early 80s bands like Blood and Roses did. The result is an earnest and compelling hybrid of smart guitars, dance-friendly percussion and tempos, and intelligent lyrics/songwriting. “Ghosts Still Dance” is a fine addition to All the Madmen’s amazing roster of anarcho-punk releases, and it’s doubly good to see a young American band picking up the torch of the label’s legacy and sounding as perfectly as Dead Cult do on this release.

Dead Cult’s interview with CVLT Nation is here.
Dead Cult have a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/deadcult

Dead Cvlt will be playing with The Mob on their forthcoming West Coast US Tour:

May 25th Blackwater, Portland OR
May 27th South Oregon Punk Dayfest, Williams OR
May 28th Metro Operahouse, Oakland CA

Dead Cult members

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An interview with Chicago postpunk band Population
by Oliver Sheppard

Since 2009, Population have been making some of the most immersively moody postpunk music out there. Although they hail from the hardcore punk scene’s reclaiming of the roots of postpunk, deathrock, and gothic rock that was kickstarted last decade by bands like The Estranged, the Observers, Deathcharge, and the Spectres, Chicago’s Population have more of a traditionally gothy postpunk sound than many of their contemporaries. There are echoes of bands like Tuxedomoon (early “No Tears”-era), The Wake (the band on Factory Records, not the awful other Wake), The Sound, and, especially in Population’s more recent stuff, the Sisters of Mercy and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry.

“I’ve always just thought of us as a punk band,” bassist Benny explains below. “[M]ost of the first wave of Post Punk and Goth bands were comprised of punks. I definitely see a parallel to what is happening in the DIY scene, with this dark brooding sound, and what happened in the early 80’s. I’d rather be lumped in with this scene than some cheesy mall Goth, cyber dark rave, cartoon Goth. [...] [W]e are a Punk band playing post punk music.” And vocalist Keelan agrees: “I’ve only ever been a punk as far as I’m concerned, so it’s that or nothing. Genre-wise we’re whatever people think they hear. But when we tour I’m still sleeping on floors – there are no velvet capes swaddling THIS guy. Yet.”

Population’s new LP, Beyond the Pale, is due out any day now on Mass Media Records, home to fellow Chicago dark/postpunk band Cemetery. Below, I interviewed Population about their new LP and the direction their music has taken.

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CVLT Nation Streaming:
NIGHTFELL’s
“I Am Decay” + In-Depth Review

Labels: Parasitic Records & Southern Lord Recordings

by Oliver Sheppard

Portland’s Nightfell: A duo consisting of Todd Burdette and Tim Call. As of this writing, Nightfell’s debut LP, “The Living Ever Mourn,” is only available digitally, via Bandcamp. A vinyl LP is slated to come out soon on Parasitic Records & Southern Lord Recordings. “The Living Ever Mourn” is a genre-trouncing slab of murky, crust-influenced doominess with some surprising dark ambient, Gothic (in the classical and broadest sense of that term), and black metal flourishes that make it an especially stand-out release. The production, which pays special attention to the bottom end of the band’s sound, is exceptionally good.

The (few) reviews I’ve read of “The Living Ever Mourn” come from metal websites, who were drawn to the release because of co-vocalist and drummer Tim Call’s past with bands like The Howling Wind, Weregoat, and Aldebaran. I’m more familiar with the Burdette side of the band’s lineage; the gloom-heavy and modernized dark crust of bands like His Hero is Gone and Tragedy were on heavy rotation at my place ten or more years ago, and Tragedy’s last LP, 2012′s Darker Days Ahead, was also something I enjoyed immensely. Tragedy’s “Darker Days Ahead” was a mostly mid-tempo, Amebix-esque slog fest (with some pleasant nods to Killing Joke, even, that delighted me especially), and fans of that release’s downtuned, thick-as-fuck blackened gloom will no doubt find much to enjoy on Nightfell’s first LP here — especially on the opening track, the awesome “The Last Disease,” which opens with dramatic and dirge-like chord progressions very reminiscent of classic, Vengeance-era Tragedy, albeit with more ponderous and deliberate pacing.

The second track, simply titled “I,” is a nice dark ambient interlude that sets the mood with deep, droning synths and what sounds like processed, hushed vocal whisperings. Track 3, “I am Decay,” brings Call’s vocals to the fore; the song is a mid-tempo black metal affair with rapid minor note picking on the guitar, recalling the classic black metal of 90s Darkthrone or more recent bands like Sweden’s Craft. It should be noted that, as with all the projects that Burdette has been associated with, great care has been taken to ensure that the low end of the sonic spectrum is rich and well-defined. The downtuned guitars, rumbling drums, and hoarse-throated vocals of the two singers are fleshed out well in the production. Whereas so much hardcore punk focuses on trebly guitars, the snap of the snare, and the sizzling clatter of cymbals, the sonorous and robust production on “The Living Ever Mourn” will reward greatly those who have sunk a lot of money into their audio system’s subwoofers. The LP packs a hell of a punch.

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The fourth track, “Empty Prayers,” may be my favorite. It’s an unexpectedly dramatic and Gothic song, with chorus-y, layered vocals that remind both of Gregorian chanting and old heathen, pagan odes. Weeping, mournful guitars add texture to the tragic atmosphere of the song. There is, in fact, the creeping influence of pagan dark folk on the LP as a whole, especially on the second instrumental interlude, simply titled “II” – an acoustic guitar picks out solemn notes to melodic, but ominous, vocals. The song offers a bit of a breather from the LP’s otherwise unrelenting assault of black waves of deathy guitar distortion and crushing drums.

The penultimate song, “Altars to Wrath,” sounds as if it could be an unused song from Tragedy’s “Darker Days Ahead,” save for the double bass drum kick and Call’s vocals (which alternate with Burdette’s). “Altars” is again an excellent mid-tempo black metal-esque number drenched in inky black atmosphere and minor notes. And the last track, the appropriately-titled “Funeral Dirge,” is probably my second favorite song on the release, opening slowly and building to a tremendous, even militaristic, climax. Halfway through the song’s 8 minutes, Call’s drumming takes on a martial tone; a military snare tattoo seems to herald imminent warfare.

One of the tags on Nightfell’s Bandcamp page is “death metal,” and I suppose that is true given that many of the chord progressions and vocals recall the classic, early 90s days of bands like Entombed. The LP as a whole, however, deserves a little more credit than that. It’s an excellent marriage of blackened crust to mid-tempo black metal, with Gothic atmospherics laid on thick and heavy, to a darkly mesmerizing effect. In that regard, it’s perhaps similar to some of the things Atriarch have been trying to do, but it’s hard outright to compare Nightfell’s “The Living Ever Mourn” to any other single band or album.

Before I forget, it’s also worth noting that Nightfell’s LP was mastered at Audiosiege, the studio owned by Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise and other dark hardcore bands that are a part of the family/orbit of the His Hero is Gone and World Burns to Death-type doomy punk bands. So, there’s that, too, for those keeping track.

Nightfell’s “The Living Ever Mourn” is highly recommended.

You can get “The Living Ever Mournhere.

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CVLT Nation
Deathrock 2014 Mixtape
Curated by Oliver Sheppard

Well, we’re two years into these Deathrock mixtapes, and the fascination that dark postpunk and deathrock continues to hold over the punk scene continues unabated, even if many punker-than-thou bands refuse to acknowledge their own new swing into gothic territory, proud as some would-be tastemakers are. The punk scene’s dipping into the waters of this tradition is producing, to me, some of the best new music around these days. And the best of that is represented in the mixtape below.

There is a special advance “leak” (but — an OFFICIAL leak!) of a new Christ vs Warhol song, included below. “A Drop in the Ocean.” Christ vs Warhol are a self-described “anarcho-postpunk band,” and they’re a fave of mine. Their 2010 “Dissent” LP is a must-have for anyone into this style of music. I interviewed Christ vs Warhol in my own No Doves Fly Here days, here.

Deathrock: the intersection of DIY punk rock, gothic rock, and dark post punk. Deathrock was, after all, an offshoot of the punk scene (as was gothic rock, too). For the pedants among us — and there are many of them, lord knows — “deathrock,” per se, was an historically specific milieu of dark California underground music in the 1980s, primarily localized around Los Angeles. And, yet, a newer band from Europe calling themselves “deathrock” may fit that descriptive bill more than any other genre tag available (Dystopian Society from Italy, for example – deathrock to the core, despite not being from L.A.). At this point in time, 2014, “deathrock” is just that: A descriptive genre tag. To maintain that a “real” deathrock band could not exist now is like saying a “real punk band” could not exist now, but only in the late 1970s, because that is where, historically, “punk” belongs. Well, that is wrong.

Some of the bands below may not consider themselves to be “a deathrock band.” And Andrew Eldritch insists the Sisters of Mercy are not a gothic rock band. Sorry; tough luck. If you make the music, and it sounds a certain way, and it resonates with the sonic traditions of the genre, expect the “deathrock” label, no matter how irksome you may find it. I say – like advice given to a man with a hairy back, or a small penis — this is simply how you are. Embrace it, learn to live with it, make the most of it, and love it. It’s almost disingenuously pretentious to confess to anything else. “Too punk for goth, too goth for punk.” That’s exactly what deathrock is.

All of the songs below are relevant to the continuing and vital evolution of this particularly cool genre, and all of the bands sampled below are making great music, whatever they consider themselves. This really is some of the best underground music being made nowadays, regardless of anything. It’s just amazing stuff. So, even if the band below is “not a deathrock band” [sic], the song showcased is relevant to the deathrock genre.

CVLT Nation 2014 Deathrock Mixtape
Tracklist

1. RAKTA – Life Comes from Death (2013)
2. CHRIST VS WARHOL – A Drop in the Ocean (CVLT Nation exclusive) (2014) (Starts at 2:47)
3. DYSTOPIAN SOCIETY – Violations (2014) (Starts at 5:04)
4. ANNEX – Nightmares (2014) (Starts at 7:58)
5, MASSES – Blind (2014) (Starts at 11:01)
6. ARCTC FLOWERS – Byzantine (2014) (Starts at 13:46)
7. PADKAROSKA – Hallot Varos (2013) (Starts at 17:01)
8. CATHOLIC SPIT – Sick Sick Sex (2013) (Starts at 20:12)
9. PEG LEG LOVE – Heaven Street (Death in June) (2013) (Starts at 22:38)
10. SAFEWORDS – Outta My Head (2013) (Starts at 24:59)
11. CADAVER EM TRANSE – Running Like Ghosts (2013) (Starts at 28:55)
12. CRIMINAL CODE – Mocking Shadows (2013) (Starts at 31:13)
13. POPULATION – Spears of Silence (2014) (Starts at 34:29)
14. DEKODER – Asleep (2014) (Starts at 38:19)
15. INSTITUTE – Putrid (2013) (Starts at 43:28)
16. ANASAZI – Nuke York (2013) (Starts at 46:06)
17. SALOME’S DANCE – Basis (2012) (Starts at 50:01)
18. FINAL RITE – Terrorist Fairy Tale (2013) (Starts at 52:51)
19. NIGHT SINS – Dear Marquis (2013) (Starts at 57:52)
20. BELGRADO – Palac Kultury (2013) (Starts at 1:00:45)
21. READERSHIP HOSTILE – Damaged Parts (2014) (Starts at 1:03:43)
22. RULE OF THIRDS – Love and Loathing (2013) (Starts at 1:06:49)
23. KURRAKA – Hermanas de la Oscuridad (2013) (Starts at 1:10:05)
24. OCCULTS – I Was Wrong (2013) (Starts at 1:11:56)
25. DEMZENCJE – Trepanacje (2013) (Starts at 1:14:49)
26. WHITE LUNG – Those Girls (2013) (Starts at 1:16:59)
27. BELLICOSE MINDS – Banished Alone (Forever) (2013) (Starts at 1:18:58)
28. SPECTRES – Maison Gris (2012) (Starts at 1:21:44)
29. MUERTE – Tortura (2013) (Starts at 1:25:11)
30. BLUE CROSS – Civilized (2013) (Starts at 1:26:52)

More:

CVLTNation Deathrock Mixtape 2012, Part 1 is here.
CVLTNation Deathrock Mixtape 2012, Part 2 is here.
CVLTNation Deathrock Mixtape 2013, Part 1 is here.
CVLTNation Deathrock Mixtape 2013, Part 2, is here.

Also:

A Brief History of Deathrock, Part 1
A Brief History of Deathrock, Part 2
A Brief History of Deathrock, Part 3

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“Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 1″ – Reviewed
by Oliver Sheppard

First off: Buy this comp. If you care at all about the history of postpunk or gothy guitar music since the late 1970s punk explosion, you should own this.

Sacred Bones’ new “Killed by Deathrock, Volume 1anthology collects, Nuggets-style, some of the less well-known dark postpunk, gothic rock, and deathrock bands from the 1980s. Although the internet and mp3 filesharing have dramatically changed what’s thought of as “obscure,” it’s fair to say that in the big scheme of things, the bands that Sacred Bones have collected here are indeed gathered from the more obscure recesses of deathrock’s history.

Oh, are there other deathrock comps that you’ve listened to? Of course there are. But herein, my ghouls and ghosts, is why this one is especially good.

Killed by Deathrock

I hope the “Volume 1″ in the title is a hint that more volumes are to follow, in which case the collection’s borrowing from the “Killed by Death” series of compilations of obscure hardcore punk bands – for its title and inspiration – would prove especially apropos, not to mention just plain old cool. My only request would be that Volume 2 has liner notes with a brief bio or capsule synopsis about each band featured, something that is unfortunately lacking in “Killed by Deathrock, Volume 1.”

Why focus on what is lacking, though, when this is such an excellent compilation? Let’s see what gems await in this tasty collection of dark music.

This is essential listening, here – and it’s essential listening for fans of dark music of all stripes. This compilation is a good representative sample of bands taking the punk DIY ethos to heart to make their own statements and their own voices heard in an 80s Cold War era of Reaganomics and bland, MTV top 40 pap. And it’s important to situate the music of this compilation squarely in that cultural context in order to appreciate its full impact.

darknewyork1Unlike the recent (and equally excellent) Dark New York vinyl-only compilation of NYC deathrock and postpunk bands (which I also wrote about earlier here), “Killed by Deathrock” is international in scope. Also, it’s available on CD as well as vinyl.


The first track is from Colorado’s Your Funeral, a really great but unfortunately short-lived dark postpunk band that reminds me of stuff in the vein of Pink Military, Lost Cherrees, and other female-fronted postpunk bands from the 1978-1983 era. Track 2 comes from Sweden’s Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons, probably best known for their bouncy, gothy, uptempo track “Happy Funeral.” But their track here, “Liberty,” really brings to mind the comparison this comp has garnered to the Nuggets collection of underground 60s proto-punk bands; here the Spoons definitely channel an almost 60s garage psych sound.


Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons


gothicrockSpeaking of Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons (whose singer is depicted above), Josh Cheon’s Dark Entries record label recently made an important reissue of the Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons’ “Screams to God” LP. That LP is a better representation of the band’s overall sound than the track on this compilation. Kitchen broke up by 1981, incredibly – but they left a great legacy of music behind. Ironically, Dark Entries (the record label) was inspired by the Cleopatra “Gothic Rock” comps (namely, track 1, “Dark Entries,” by Bauhaus, which was in turn inspired by British horror author Robert Aickman) – which were surprisingly excellent, and still integral, with their liner notes by Mick Mercer. And yet Dark Entries has recently taken more of a focus on electronic music; Sacred Bones, however, has doubled down on reissuing many of the more vital and oft-overlooked guitar-driven postpunk/deathrock bands of the 80s that are more in line with the spirit of the punky “Gothic Rock” comps. (See: Sacred Bones’ awesome recent reissue of Vex’s “Sanctuary,” a band whose driving, Killing Joke-esque chunky guitar rock tunes are the absolute antithesis of electronic “dance music.”)

Picture 15Having said that, fans of “Killed by Deathrock, Volume 1″ would be well-advised to check out Dark Entries’ reissue of “The Thing from the Crypt” compilation, which features bands like the Sad Lovers and Giants, the Soft Drinks, and the S-Haters (who deserver their own reissues — their own VINYL REISSUES, and soon).

Track 3: Twisted Nerve’s “When I’m Alone.” Folks listening to gothic rock and roll for the first time may find this cult goth band’s entry here to be the gothiest thing so far on this comp. “Twisted Nerve,” of course, was the name of a classic British horror film as well as a song by The Damned on their own gothy 1980 Black Album. Echoey “disaffected vocals” paired with a fuzzed out and crunchy guitar, mixed with a drummer who sounds like he’d rather be banging away in a hardcore punk band – it all amounts to excellent, classic, British proto-gothic rock.

Italy’s MOVE are next (track 4). Not to be confused with “The Move” of the Nuggets compilations – that The Fall later covered (“I Can Hear the Grass Grow”), Italy’s Move were a mid-80s gothic rock band that made an incredible 12-inch vinyl mini-album, and then faded away into obscurity. Max Skam of Italy’s preeminent current deathrock band, Dystopian Society (who I interviewed here), tells me they are from Rome and recorded this track in Firenze. Awesome. They need some serious reissues.

germangodfathersTrack 5: Bunker, a French coldwave band that later re-dubbed themselves Bunker Strasse. And, ah – FRENCH COLDWAVE. What to make of that genre distinction! Is it deathrock? Is it postpunk? Is it goth? One of my pet peeves (as folks who know me personally will tell you) are the insane amount of bands that get shoehorned into the “coldwave” category, when they seem so sonically disparate at times, but because they are from France – well… I have heard everyone from the uptempo 4-piece hardcore of France’s Les Thugs called “French Coldwave,” to the spartan, synth-driven music of Clair Obscur also called that, to the postpunk-y middle ground of France’s Ausweis also called “coldwave.” Whatever the case, Bunker’s track here is a winner. However you want to break down these sub-genres, it’s a good song.

TASTE OF DECAY. Fuck yes. A German up-tempo gothic rocker of a song that shows the roots of deathrock – a gothy punk explosion of fast beats and postpunk vocals, the perfect segue between hardcore punk and gothic rock and roll. Which is what the original deathrock movement was all about.


Taste+of+Decay


Track 7: Afterimage. A song title from Lou Reed paired with a guitar riff from Joy Division. How could you go wrong? You can’t. Track 8: Screaming for Emily. Goth as fuck. In a good way. But – East Coast US gothic rock and roll, part of the mostly-as-yet-unexplored discography of the late 80s gothic rock movement in America, before the whole lame industrial dance crap took everything over in that scene. Screaming for Emily need their day in the sun. Hopefully, this awesome track here (“The Love”) will do its part to remedy that.


screamingforemily


Glorious Din – “San Francisco’s Joy Division,” on track 8 here, not ever to be confused with the confusingly similarly-titled goth band Din Glorious. Eric Cope is an amazing vocalist. Minor note guitar riffs that would nowadays be considered proto-black metal. “The earth below, in slow motion” – Eric Cope’s vocals capture the sort of disaffected and alienated tones you don’t hear elsewhere save for in Joy Divison’s “Komakino.” In fact, this single song one-ups the best of Joy Division. I am not kidding. Glorious Din came out with two amazing LPs, both worth a reissue and both almost flawless – but eminently listenable – artifacts of mid-80s postpunk doom and gloom. And they’re American. (Where are you, Eric Cope?)

The Naked and the Dead feature in the next track — a hardcore 80s NYC gothic rock band that were featured in Dark New York and who definitely kept the flame alive during the 80s between the NYHC scenes and the overarching international, gothic postpunk scene. In fact, members of this band are still active today in bands and writing music or running labels, today. (See below.)

The last band on the LP, Baroque Bordello, are an 80s French postpunk band, which seems, to me, that that should qualify them as being “COLDWAVE” (like Bunker Strasse, earlier). Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Whatever they are, again, we have some solid gothy postpunk here, rounding out the comp/release.

Track listing:

Your Funeral – “I Wanna Be You” 2:46
Kitchen & The Plastic Spoons – “Liberty” 3:06
Twisted Nerve – “When I’m Alone” 3:01
Move – “Casa Domani” 3:08
Bunker – “My Own Way” 3:21
Taste Of Decay – “Factory” 2:35
Afterimage – “Satellite of Love” 3:55
Screaming For Emily – “The Love” 4:48
Glorious Din – “Tenement Roofs” 4:08
The Naked And The Dead – “Carousel” 4:06
Baroque Bordello – “Put It Down” 3:49


Here are the songs on this comp:


1. YOUR FUNERAL – “I Want to Be You”


2. KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS – “Liberty”


3. TWISTED NERVE – “When I’m Alone”


4. MOVE – “Casa Domani”


5. BUNKER – “My Own Way”


6. TASTE OF DECAY – “Factory”


7. AFTERIMAGE – “Satellite of Love”


8. SCREAMING FOR EMILY – “The Love”


9. GLORIOUS DIN – “Tenement Roofs”


10. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD – “Carousel”


11. BAROQUE BORDELLO – “Put it Down”

Doesn’t seem to be on Youtube.


Killed by Deathrock

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Exclusive CVLT Nation Streaming:
Arctic Flowers “Weaver” LP + Review

by Oliver Sheppard

Portland’s Arctic Flowers will have a digital release of their long-awaited second LP soon, with a proper vinyl release following some time in the Spring. In the meantime, the new “Weaver” LP is available here at CVLT Nation for streaming.

After last year’s excellent “Procession” EP, an EP that showcased the Flowers’ talent for combining the tradition of anarcho/peace punk with a postpunk sensibility, the new “Weaver” LP (on Deranged Records – who are on a roll lately) continues in much the same vein. The first side kicks off with the energetic track “Magdalene” and the pace doesn’t let up too much from there, culminating in the barnstorming track “Anamnesis,” which employs a riff that reminds me of a Rudimentary Peni track (specifically, “The Evil Clergyman” off RP’s “Cacophony“). But it’s Side 2 that contains my favorite tracks off this new release. The second side kicks off with the memorable track “Byzantine”; guitarist Stan Wright lays down a chunky, Killing Joke-esque riff (think of that band’s song “Tension” mixed with “The Wait”), complemented by frontwoman Alex’s vocals, which recall the classic goth-punk of bands like Rubella Ballet and Lost Cherrees. The following title track, “Weaver,” is another winner – just a great mid-tempo punk rocker that, in true Arctic Flowers fashion, blurs the boundaries between classic punk, postpunk, and early gothic rock. Indeed, in an interview I did with Arctic Flowers almost two years ago, founder and guitarist Stan Wright stated, “Our sound is a mix of punk, deathrock, post punk, and goth. Aggressive but at times danceable and melodic.”

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That’s the genius of Arctic Flowers, though, on full display in this new offering: their ability to recombine and synthesize, in new and interesting ways, the traditions of gothic rock and anarcho-punk into a novel, fresh whole. Stan’s nimble guitar is pushed to the fore in the mix of most songs. The rhythm section isn’t far behind, though: Cliff’s drums cover a wide expanse of tempos, from the slower gothic dirge of “Dirges Dwell” (which features a Joy Division-esque bass and guitar opening, harkening back to “Dead Souls”) to the uptempo barnstormer that is Side 1′s late track, “Anamnesis.” Bassist Lee’s work centers the band’s arrangements perfectly, like the lodestar around which one orients a compass. As always, Arctic Flowers’ playing is smart, thoughtful, passionate, centered, and succinct. It is at turns intricate and blunt, subtle and heavy. The long-running DIY background of the band’s members imparts to the songs an urgency one is not likely to find in the more disingenuous bands trying to hop on the recent goth-punk bandwagon.

Weaver is simply an excellent LP.

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Current 93′s COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY now streaming!

by Oliver Sheppard

Current+93It’s here: http://current931.bandcamp.com/

Or, nearly Current 93′s complete discography. (There are so many unofficial releases, semi-official releases, quasi-official releases, etc., that a truly complete discography is pretty daunting.)

Current 93: The long-running dark-ambient-cum-post-industrial-cum-neofolk project, whose only constant member has been David Tibet, has been making musick for over 30 years now, providing a fertile matrix of material that has influenced, or that has indeed included, countless postpunk, metal, neofolk, industrial, et. al, acts into its orbit. That Tibet uploaded nearly all of Current 93′s catalog onto Bandcamp last Fall is of no small significance. In fact, it’s a radical move, exposing the project’s sprawling and esoteric catalog to millions of new listeners.

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An interview with Chicago neofolk band ET NIHIL
by Oliver Sheppard

Earlier neofolk was sometimes called “apocalyptic folk,” a phrase seen on at least one early Current 93 flyer that seemed to sum up early bands’ stripped down, back-to-basics acoustic approach to making doomy, and quite often occult-tinged, music(k). One of the longest-running current podcasts of this style is in fact the aptly-named “Aural Apocalypse: A Soundtrack for the Final Days” (hosted by the amazing Merrick Testerman, it should be noted).

The early grand trifecta of neofolk was Death in June, Current 93, and Sol Invictus, and those 3 bands had members circulating between them quite often. One of the few American bands that carries forward in that early, dark, postpunk, and guitar-strumming vein is Chicago’s Et Nihil. It’s been mentioned elsewhere that they are one band that put the apocalyptic rightfully back into the “apocalyptic folk” genre tag. Their debut LP, ONUS, is evidence of that fact.

Et Nihil
Et Nihil

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An interview with foundational deathrock band Kommunity FK
by Oliver Sheppard

Kommunity FK are one of the founding bands of what came to be known as deathrock – that particular admixture of gloomy/gothy punk rock and postpunk experimentation usually seen as a regional byproduct of the late 70s and early-to-mid-80s Southern California punk scene. Although Kommunity FK’s 1st LP, the classic Vision and the Voice, was not released until 1983, the band had been playing out since at least 1980, and can be counted among LA bands like Christian Death, 45 Grave, the Superheroines, and others as one of the flagship acts of the movement.

In a broader sense, Kommunity FK are musical and cultural cohorts of other bands from the dark post/punk scene that was just beginning in the late 70s and early 80s, a milieu that includes bands like Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Specimen, Joy Division, The Damned, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. In much the same way that The Fall or Death in June crystallized into the musical outlet of their respective lead singers, despite personnel changes, so Kommunity FK persists into the present as Mata’s vehicle for expression. His early spiky-haired look (and two early KFK songs, in fact) were inspired by Discharge, but Mata’s vocals evinced a David Bowie influence; aesthetically, the influences of Dadaism (Tristan Tzara) and Surrealism (Jean Cocteau) weighed heavily upon Kommunity FK’s look and approach, as well. They were employing tribal drumming, more sophisticated and experimental tempos, and more poetic and introspective lyrics at a time when the punk counterculture largely demanded uptempo, political three-chord thrash from its bands. (In fact, 35 years on into the punk scene, many punks still insist on this, and nothing but this!)

In person, Patrik Mata is an incredibly friendly, personable, and down to earth person. I got the chance to see the newest Kommunity FK lineup in action during their Summer 2013 Texas tour, and the live impact of the band far outweighs the experience of listening to them on recording. (You know how some bands sound better live than on recording, while others sound better on their recordings than they do live? Kommunity FK are in the former category.) I was recently able to talk to Patrik about the upcoming Kommunity FK, Thee Image & Thee Myth, and below is an advance track from that LP, “Thee New Tribe” — a pretty balls-out rocker that recalls their earlier days in the LA deathrock scene.


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Kommunity FK was interviewed in December, 2013 by Oliver.


Oliver: Patrik, for readers who don’t know, can you give the basic information on the band — where and when you all started, who the founding members were, and who is in the band now? Also, what was the original idea for the band’s sound, imagery, and aesthetics at that time?

Patrik Mata: The legend ov Kommunity FK has been documented thousands ov times but allow me to share the ‘cliff notes version’ here….

The blue spark ov founding my own band in which I could express myself as I desired began in 1978 but it didn’t blossom into fruition until 1979-80 when I was joined in alliance by 2 other like-minded musicians. My girlfriend at that time was named CeCe (R.I.P.) & she was literally the only person who would play bass & play in a band with me — and very primitively at that as we both, really, could barely play our guitars & learned as we went along. Together, while searching for a really great drummer, we discovered thee drummer named Matt and he had already been studying drums, percussion, rhythms & theory at D.I.T. for 10 years. He was only 20 years old at the fateful time ov meeting him.

I was very bored with the local “punk scene” and I was inspired to start a band that would be more experimental. My influences were Bowie (his “Low” LP particularly), William S. Burroughs, The DaDaists, Throbbing Gristle, and Antonin Artaud. I had my own original ‘look’ then, dressing in black with a wedge hairstyle inspired by the founder ov The DaDaists, Tristan Tzara. I came upon an article in an early issue ov The Face, an amazing British magazine that featured the best ov the British bands & music stylish genius icons on its cover every month. This particular issue had Bowie on its cover — as I buy everything with him on a cover — and this was during his “Scary Monsters” era. He was topless in his Pierrot costume that he lifted off ov Steve Strange ov Visage.



Patrik Mata: The magazine had an article about The Blitz Club & The Blitz Kids. I adored the way they looked. They were an influence. This was something that I began acquiring myself when putting myself together to go to the clubs, and even on a daily manner. There’s a page dedicated to them on Facebook, so everybody, go look that up. Later those same blitz kids became Boy George, Marilyn, Spandau Ballet, Visage, Ultravox, & the OG Trad UK Goth scene. I had procured a Rosicrusian priest coat made ov exquisite wool with cloth buttons & 2 blood crosses atop both sleeves which I wore constantly & had bought at Fiorucci (infamous big ass shoppe in the slums ov Beverly Hills that was located in a huge old refurbished movie theatre called The Beverly. I’m still blessed with having a friend from those days named Tommy Gallo who collect Firoucci shite memorabilia. He has stories regarding this place & probably about me during that time as well. Hmmm. Anyway, Darby Crash frequented this store as it had an Italian cafe inside for customers & looky loos alike for people watching.) as I worked there.

I also wore black PVC steel-capped 3-eyelet Oxfords that I bought inexpensively at a Sears store. Then I added a pair ov black PVC ankle weights that had buckles on top ov them to make them appear as boots. This was before anyone could buy boots the way we can now. My style was completely ‘DIY’ — putting myself together as best as I could in order to create my very own style. I was poor as FK. I wore whiteface make up when I could afford it & when I could coax the make up girl there to tart me up, eyeliner and eye shadow. Not many boys looked this way at the time with the exception ov a few girls. Later on, I began to place egg whites thru my hair to style it like the band Discharge after having seeing them on their debut LP. But because Kommunity FK didn’t sound like them or like punk generally, it, too, made us stand out. I did compose 2 songs influenced by Discharge, which are on the debut Kommunity FK lp. The songs are entitled “Bullets” and “Fuck The Kommunity.” This, in fact, helped pull in the local punx to our shows & this cross-over effect became categorized by the local music critics as “Deathrock.” A lot ov other like-minded lost souls came out to see us whenever we could procure bookings & then started their own similar bands — some original, some not, sounding a bit as KFK. We were seen roaming the local clubs promoting our gigs and giving away flyers that I designed in the DaDaist fashion. U can find them on the Internet to this day.



Patrik: I was blessed to have these 2 band members by my side in bang-on experimentation towards the discovery ov our own identity in sound. Our actual live performance setlist became what is now known as the classic debut lp, “The Vision & The Voice,” released in 1983 on vinyl. Only 1000 copies were pressed on vinyl & I designed the entire anti-artwork. This line up only lasted 1 year after the release ov that lp.

Then I continued onwards onto KFK Mach ll by losing the bassist to her ligging with Killing Joke as she followed them around Europe. She later became a junkie. Still having my loyal drummer & with a new bassist & now a female synthesizer player, I took the band into another more cohesive direction losing the confrontational attitude & began concentrating on applying my voice to it’s fullest capacity. This is 1984 & this line up recorded another now renown classic lp, “Close One Sad Eye,” released in 1985 on vinyl as well. The lp was recorded in A&M studio B thanx to my drummer’s father who became our patron while Matt’s Mum tried to help us with management. With both ov their graces, we rose to another whole level where we could expand our horizons, reaching more fans. We also were blessed with being able to film the only official Kommunity FK film for the song “Something Inside Me Has Died” thanx to a man named Mark who owned his own production company. He wanted to help us out. We filmed that video at the old Griffith Park Zoo in the lions den (Go Millwall!). Most ov the songs from both lps can still be heard being played in the best Gothic clubs Internationally to this day.



Patrik: Which brings us to this precise moment & the band lineup that Sherry & I chose from after years ov roaming the beige-ocity ov Albuquerque, New Mexico for the proper professional-minded musicians. My present band line up consists ov local musicians that we’ve found here in the Southwest where Sherry Rubber & I reside, and they’re very proficient with their instruments — mature, good looking, & perfect for what our songs require live in performance.

THEE BAND 2013-?

Sherry Rubber plays lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals, synth, & is our deadly gorgeous enchanting chanteuse. Thee proto-Punk Rock Grrl whose attitude brings a missing element to KFK’s powerful sound. Brian Keith is a very kool reserved person & a good friend that plays bass very well for a guitarist whom put his guitar down to play bass for us. Julian Martinez plays drums & electronic drums respectively. His attitude behind the drums is very refreshing as he captured the original sound quite well which blew my mind. He has the instruments & technical knowledge for applying electronic drums underneath the acoustic drums for an amazing blend live affect.

I am celebrating the 35th anniversary ov founding KFK by touring & producing a brand knew lp entitled, “Thee Image & Thee Myth”. We have released the very first single, “THEE NEW TRIBE” on December 23rd, 2013 on our new official webstore at Nimbit.com: http://www.nimbitmusic.com/kommunityfk.2

We have 2 tours under our belts thru California & thru Texas recently. The shows went extremely well. We look forward to continue touring as much as possible.



Oliver: Can you give a brief description of the band’s name, why it was chosen, and how it came to be spelled “Kommunity FK”?

Patrik: The band was very confrontational at the very beginning calling for some very aggressive & suppressed violent performances with some tension between us & our audience & especially between KFK & the venue booking personages! Plus, personally, I was a very unhappy person, filled with angst which at times was almost overwhelming. I really had no grounding, no foundation physically; the people surrounding me were really just acquaintances, not on the same level at all. I discovered that immersing & submerging myself into expressing myself with my own band might help me locate the salvation that I needed deeply.

As far as our early performances, some ov the attendees just came to grok & hassle us as there weren’t any other bands at that time that looked, sounded, or had the vibrations that we did. We also didn’t take any shit from anybody. We always stood our ground. Still do! For instance, the second time that we ever performed at The Whiskey A Go-Go was with the band Twisted Roots, a local band that rose from the Germs crowd. Their audience, or shall I say following, hated us. One girl threw a wet wad ov toilet paper at me, landing on my guitar body. So I followed her through the audience with my eyes, picked the wet wad from my guitar & nailed her straight in her face. She went ballistic as she was being carried out ov the venue by security, shouting revengeful remarks at me. Funnily enough though, she later became a friend & follower ov KFK & even had auditioned for the bassist slot after CeCe split to lig with Killing Joke! So naming the band “Kommunity Fuck” came easily when the local booking talent buyers didn’t understand where we were coming from, wouldn’t give us any shows, and wouldn’t place the band name on their venue marquees.

We also became a sort ov ‘scapegoat’ for some ov the local bands whom hated us & thought that we were rich kids buying our way throughout the Los Angeles scene & paying for our quick growing press. So we started achieving a bad reputation ov sorts which was great & something a lot ov bands would give their left tit for. As far as I knew, we were the ‘community fuck,’ the band that a lot ov people would fuck with just because. So in a personal rebuttal, I shortened the spelling to make it easier for these wankers to deal with & because I luv the way it looked. So, there!



Oliver: One thing I’ve always wondered about Kommunity FK — there seems to be a definite sonic progression from the raw, early hardcore punk of the song “Fuck the Kommunity” on through to most of the songs on the 1983 “Vision and the Voice” LP, and on to other projects. Are there any demos or unused tracks out there from the period before “The Vision and the Voice” – maybe stuff in that earlier punk rock form — that have yet to see the light of day? And if, so, do you know if there ever will be a release of that material?

Patrik: I do own some live bootlegs from our second ever performance at The Whiskey A-Go Go in 1981 where we were being heckled but the songs are being directed at that particular audience in the manner ov which you inquire. One day I’ll release those. I also have some unreleased rehearsal tapes & performances on cassette & videotape. But, on the new upcoming lp, “Thee Image & Thee Myth” you will be happily surprised as to a few ov the new compositions as they are also in the fashion that you inquire, “The Vision & The Voice” vibrations. Just wait…



Oliver: Can you recall how the Deathrock scene in California began — what the mood was like, and why you think it occurred when it did? It seems like several movements simultaneously popped up in other countries or regions, all making similar styles of music. What do you think happened after the punk explosion of the late 70s that made musicians want to explore darker sounds?

Patrik: If it wasn’t for bands like The Sex Pistols, there wouldn’t have risen bands like Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, etc. It is well documented that after musicians & non-musicians witnessed The Sex Pistols they all changed their appearances in style & started their own bands. I was & still am very interested in what transpires universally in Musik & Art/Anti Art. I absorb as much as possible everything that is new; this also leads me to dig underneath that to find the Unknown. When putting it all together, when I was founding KFK, I had many inspirations. But so did a lot ov other personages that wanted to form their own bands.

kfkspikyI will say this boldly: KFK was at the very Beginning, one ov the first to bring this sound to the streets ov Hollywood, doing it our own way and not knowing nor caring what would transpire or what result would be achieved. A lot ov people who came to experience the first stage ov KFK have told me that they were truly inspired to form their own bands. So at least we did something to help start an allegiance towards those whom wanted to express their inner feelings ov despair & unhappiness & angst. As far as a scene coming into fruition, I witnessed a few bands with like minds expressing themselves along similar lines. I was at 1 ov the early Castration Squad performances at a place called Peanuts. They were all female, looked great & had their own playfully dark sound. I was also at the original line up ov 45 Grave‘s debut at The Starwood. In an earlier incarnation ov the very foundation ov forming KFK, the incorrigible Don Bolles (Germs, 45 Grave) would sit in with us just to help us out. I was very frustrated & felt that I had to exorcise this inner demon out ov me & some ov the songs on “The Vision & The Voice” refer to these feelings. The same for the others who felt as such, and there you are.

Darkness always seduces the Artiste & it is very romantic. Bowie did and still very much inspires me. In fact, his “Diamond Dogs” lp is very dark for it’s time & inspired me to want to explore this avenue. I know that that lp is still in me as a lot ov similar dark inspirations shows itself when I feel rather melancholy & the feelings ov melancholy & despair have inspired so many others — thus, a movement for these feelings.

And to be honest, it’s all in the Aethyr universally. Nature is change & vice versa & everything dies. Death & Darkness is a way ov life, things that everybody & every animal species on Earth experiences. Once it was a bit frightening & darkly romantic & then it also becomes another exploited trend in all media. In the 70s it was taboo to be dark, as it was the end ov the hippies & Flower Power & “everything is beautiful.” But then it turned darker — sprinkled with paranoia with Charles Manson & his Family’s misadventures in the Hollywood Hills & The Altamont death trip with the Rolling Stones. But there have always been people that just luv horror, creepiness, & the funereal medium.

Post Punk rose from the ashes ov Punk when the latter became stupid, redundant, and exploited. Look at where ‘punk’ is now. But in my opinion, the Deathrock & Goth movements are the most deadly gorgeous ov anything that has come before them.


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Oliver: You’ve mentioned a David Bowie influence quite a bit (there is the “Hang Onto Yourself” cover that Kommunity FK has done, for one), and in the live show — in your vocals especially — I could really feel the Bowie influence presenting itself. Are there any other musicians, like Alice Cooper or the New York Dolls or anyone else, that you feel had an influence on your artistic and aesthetic direction? Or outside of musicians, were there any art movements?

Patrik Mata: I’ve always been an avid reader ov avant grade literature & novelists outside the norm & that had definitely been another influence towards the way that I wrote the lyrics & titles for my songs. In 1976, I went through a major Jean Cocteau phase, reading everything that he had written & every film that he produced. My favorite ov his films is “The Blood Of A Poet.” It’s a phantasmic surreal masterpiece. Also his film version ov “The Beauty & The Beast” is another ground breaking iconic film. Writers & the Surrealist film makers are still a huge inspiration on the way that I look at composing music. I can easily state that authors ov great influence are William s. Burroughs, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Allen Poe, Huysmans (Des Esseintes), Baudelaire, Hubert Selby, Jr., to name a few. I luv biographies & especially autobiographies about the Dandys & eccentrics ov yore, plus every book written by the anti-artistes themselves and/or written about the DaDa Movement. I’ve collected many books about & by Salvador Dali & have books ov & by The Surrealists as well. Dame Bowie is still interesting to me, having been a main influence upon me in several diverse ways since my youth. He is in his Golden Years now, in his sixties, & yet surprised the world by releasing a brand new lp that he had been producing over the last 10 years in secrecy. Sure, there are a few other musical influences inside ov my psyche besides Bowie: Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Bob Dylan — especially during his mid-60s effeminate junkie era, particularly 1965-1966. Dylan metamorphosed into 6 different personas within his life that he has never, ever repeated — which I find completely fascinating. The film “I’m Not there” exposes this enigmatic fact. But during those particular years he was at his most fashionable, cynical, demure, prolific & mysterious & his output ov 3 game-changing lps, in my opinion, are the most profound albums ov his career. That still really inspires me. I could ramble on & on… Films have a huge influence upon me; one can be anything that they choose to be as an actor & with the film format.

Your body, your psyche, your personality, your philosophy, your physical appearance, & especially your creative process can all be changed anytime & anywhere in this short life time. Why not be anything & everything? I apply this practice myself as if my body & mind is a kick ass muscle car & I’m also it’s mechanic, ever-changing my parts. I call myself a shapeshifter. Seriously.



Oliver: You’ve met, played with, were friends with, toured with, etc., a list of musicians that would make any audiophile’s jaw drop. You mentioned to me your playing with Killing Joke on (what I think was) their first US tour in 1981. Are there any friendships, meetings, or collaborations you had that especially stand out or might surprise readers? For example, being friends with Rozz Williams, or performing with PIL and John Lydon, and Nick Cave, etc? (Sherry mentioned to me that you all have even played with Sol Invictus, Tony Wakeford’s neofolk band – something that is of particular interest to me!) I guess I’m wondering if you could share any interesting anecdotes about some of the more bizarre or noteworthy encounters you’ve had.

Patrik Mata: I could, but I do not want, to be rude here, as some ov my experiences with some ov the names mentioned herein, especially those still with us & adored by many, would most probably wish that I didn’t mention them as well. I can tell you a few things that may bore the FK out ov you & your readers reading this right now, so….

I’ve partied in an almost dangerous way with Peter Murphy back in 1983 when Bauhaus were headlining their 3 night stand at The Roxy in Hollywood, California. I was introduced to Pete when KFK was to be second bill on those shows per Peter’s personal request (fact), but the owner ov that venue thought that KFK were a hardcore punk band that would destroy the place, so he vetoed us from performing those now historic shows. As a result, Peter put me on the band’s VIP backstage guest list all 3 nights & I got to witness their very last shows in LA before they disbanded. On one ov the nights they performed a song called “Red Fix” for 20 minutes. I’d been accepted by Killing Joke as to be allowed inside their cabal back after performing as second bill to their debut performance on the West Coast at The Whiskey A Go-Go on August 28th, 1981. I guess we impressed them! They were staying at The Tropicana Hotel where all ov the more underground touring bands holed up while in LA. I went over there with my bass player to give them our debut vinyl lp, “The Vision & the Voice,” & to just relax & hang out. What happened was apparently Killing Joke never allow opening bands to have their own sound checks but this was way before this mandatory demand. Drummer Paul Ferguson seemed impressed enough ov our sound & attitude to become a friend. After our 2 sets (back in those days one had to perform twice on the night) we were invited backstage to hang out with them & Paul gave me a huge ball ov red hashish. Unbelievable.



Another time KFK performed second billing to PIL in San Diego at the California Theatre . This was 1984. We had 2 dressing rooms with a coke dealer in each one. I was wandering around backstage awaiting sound check when up saunters John Lydon looking for his own dressing room. I invited him into one ov ours to offer him a few toots but he declined with “O, thank you, but never before a show, mate!” He had come to see us a year before at The Lhasa Club & dug us enough to want to go out for pints at The Cat & the Fiddle British pub when it was in Laurel Canyon. He hated the ale as it seemed too watered down for his liking. I’ve partied with Andi Sexgang in San Francisco when we toured together in 1984 for Sex Gang Children‘s “Quick Gas Gang” tour & even gave him a short tour ov the North Beach area where we shared a pint ov Guinness at the bar next door to the legendary City Lights Bookstore. KFK again second billed to Specimen, also in S.F. (original line up), & when I was back in the UK I toured with The Virgin Prunes during their “The Moon Looked Down & Laughed” tour plus hung out with some ov Princess Tinymeat (one ov my favorite bands). I also toured the UK with Xmal Deutschland during their “Tocsin” tour, & too many, many incredible bands, and I respect them all. This was in the years 1984-1987 when a lot ov bands were so FKing original in so many ways, with their own sounds, and even with their own stylish looks. They weren’t trying to emulate anybody. They were making their own statements, which, in my opinion, all bands should do. This is the mindset that I have always kept with my own ideology. Originality until it actually separates you from everybody else. You’ll stand out.



Oliver: You’ve created The Vision and the Voice Studios for upcoming projects of yours. What have you recorded there so far, and what are you planning to do? What upcoming projects are in the works as far as that goes?

Patrik Mata: I am blessed with an endorsement by an electronics company called Presonus who graced me with all ov the recording equipment necessary for me to keep producing as much diverse material as possible. I was also chosen as their “Artist Ov The Day” recently. So far, Sherry Rubber & I have recorded several songs for a few different projects which remain inside our vault until we feel like releasing them.

I have a solo project ov electronic DeathPop material which I adore, & we have a Funkadelic-sounding SpaceFunkPunkElektroRock project which is so FKing awesome. That will arise one day soon, called Thee Soular Flarez. Sherry is composing new solo material as we speak & I’m engineering for her. That will definitely blow minds as she, too, is also a multi-instrumentalist & it is so FKing fun working with her anyway! We have recorded a brand new lp entitled “Thee Image & Thee Myth” with another one being produced as well. We also have a second remix companion being produced for this new lp, too entitled, “Derangementz Ov…”.

Again, boredom kills. We are such creative people with new possibilities available to us at any time so we take advantage ov this blessing. If only I had had this opportunity back in The Day…


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Oliver: Your recent Texas tour saw you bring out the dark rock and roll project Texylvania – and to my delight you all ran through a cover of Screaming Lord Sutch’s “Jack the Ripper” that was pretty amazing. Is that sort of old school horror rock something you enjoy? I get the impression that Texylvania is more an outlet for that sort of Cramps/Misfits/Meteors style horror punk, whereas Kommunity FK is more like a dark postpunk Joy Division-y type band. Is this a fair assessment of what you’re going for in the two different projects….?

Patrik Mata: Texylvania was born in Seattle, Washington in 1999 with the ideology ov being Jack Ruby’s house band. My identity is the Undead Link Wray. Sherry has always been into hardcore punk rock & this is what was she was immersed in when we first ever met eyes. So as we both adore Discharge, The Plasmatics & 60s PsychGaragePunk & The Fuzztones, we decided to form another band where we can enjoy expressing this luv. Texylvania is still just getting started. We also decided to bring Texylvania aboard any & all Kommunity Fk tours so that we have the blessing to perform twice, opening for ourselves & being able to get our rocks off performing our interpretation ov Punk, Psychobilly — er, Hexabilly — Gothabilly, & PsychGarage Punk. 2 diverse sounding bands, therefore 2 diverse looks. As far as tour descriptions ov both bands, we really, & I mean really never ever try sounding like anybody else but the only little thing that may seem for us to sound akin to any other such band is simply the style ov music that Texylvania produces. We are just throwing ourselves into the jungle with everybody else against everybody else against all odds. It never stops. So whatever it is you interpret ov our 2 bands’ sounds is what YOU derive from them. You can call it whatever you like. We luv it!

Kommunity FK has always been compared to Joy Division, especially during our first incarnation, by the L.A. music journos. But it wasn’t a deliberate thing to emulate them nor any other band back in 1978-1980. So i would like to think that KFK has always had its own identity from the very start. Texylvania has a full length lp entitled, “Texylvania 13″ & two EPs. One is entitled, “Slut Nation” withe the second entitled, “Gutterati”. Both are outstanding collections awaiting their releases & very soon we hope.


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Oliver: Now that you have played Texas and California, do you think any tours elsewhere in the states are going to be organized? Do you think a big comeback is on its way, and will this accompany the release of new material?

Patrik Mata: First ov all, we loved performing throughout Texas. The audiences were really into it & were there for the right reasons. We are scheduling more tour dates but not until after this winter. Spring Equinox will be our target to tour through the Midwest, hopefully beginning in Denver & hopefully upward to Canada, where we’ve never performed. We have interests in Canada, New York & the Eastern Seaboard & we really desire to tour there. We also desire to tour throughout Europe & hopefully make it to St. Petersburg, Russia, Scandinavia, South Amerika, & the Mediterranean as well.


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Oliver: There’s a somewhat obscure punk and deathrock compilation out there from the mid-1980s, “Let’s Die,” on Mystic Records. You appear as a solo artist performing the title track. Did you do much solo material in that style, and is there more out there that could be released somewhere? What was your association with Mystic Records like?

Patrik Mata: “Let’s Die” was never an official solo release. What happened was that I had a very friendly relationship with the guys there at Mystic Records in Hollywood, California ever since we recorded the debut Kommunity FK lp, “The Vision & The Voice” in 1982 there. So I think I asked for studio time & they granted me this favor. It was one ov those ‘come in around midnight’ arrangements where time was not ov the essence. The engineer was in need ov some practice so it all made sense for us to work together. It was just myself & I decided to just invite my KFK drummer extraordinaire, Matt. I asked him to bring his electronic kit & some percussion instruments as well. I wanted to improvise an experimental composition not ever thinking that it would ever be released on a compilation. I told Matt what drum beats I wanted him to interpret & to play outside his comfort zone, which he obliged me. What you hear is an actual ‘improvisation,’ with me improvising the lyrics as well to what we were performing simultaneously. I’m only playing a bass guitar with Matt on drums. He also brought into the studio pieces ov an electronic drum kit with which he applies white noise. I entitled the song “Let’s Die” and the song is social commentary. I improvised the lyrics on the spot as I had none. Then, without anybody asking me, Mystic Records released the song using my song as the title for a compilation lp. Then they also released it as a solo track, which I hadn’t planned on.



Oliver: After seeing the live appearance, I really think an underrated asset is your voice. It still sounds like it’s in perfect working order as opposed to some others whose voices have showed signs of wear and tear at this age (Glenn Danzig, for one). Are your vocals all self-taught, and is there anything in particular you do to keep it up? I once read an interview with the singer of the 60s psychedelic group Music Machine and he claimed he drank a glass of slightly warm water with a teaspoon of honey in it, before singing. Anything like that?

Patrik Mata: I was born with this ability. Simple as that. My Mum is an amazing vocalist, therefore I thank her for my ability to be able to sing anything just by ear. She made sure that when I was growing up that we always had music in our home. So she would play her collection ov 60s girl groups 7″s & I clocked it proper. I learned to harmonize while singing along with those records as well as singing along with Beatles, Stones, & Bowie lps alone in my bedroom. Anyway, at the time ov the Texas tour, my drummer, Julian, is a sommelier — professionally so, since he has been playing in Kommunity FK — and he makes it a necessity to bring an excellent assortment ov fine wines with us on the road. Well? Some ov the wine is chilled, some not. I go for the unchilled red wine & champagne. Before every performance we all drank some exquisite champagne beforehand & while performing onstage. Champagne, I find personally, is great for my voice. It allowed me to hit those really high notes when I improvise the long droning ending for “FK The Kommunity’ which is our encore. It actually surprised me that I can still do this while on tour during the California warm up shows. There are those that smoke or have once smoked cigarettes heavily & have lost their range terribly but I don’t smoke anything, never really smoked ciggies, & I’m a vegan so taking care ov my body temple helps, I imagine. Actually, I feel very good these days. I’ve wrecked my body in the past & have moved forward as I really want to stick around a lot longer than previously thought. I luv what I do, I luv Sherry & live for it every moment. Time is fleeting, therefore I mustn’t be late for the next Dream…or nightmare.


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Oliver: What do you think about bands you’ve seen performing today, or newer bands that are trying to play deathrock (or at least deathrock-influenced music). Are there any you like in particular? Do you think “deathrock is dead” and that it’s to be caught in a timewarp to enjoy it or try to make new music in the genre? (I’ve heard this argument from some people.) Since you’re one of the principal figures of the original LA deathrock movement, what you say might carry more weight than just some random commenter on a message board.

Patrik Mata: In my opinion, today’s Deathrock bands sound a lot alike, for some reason. When I first founded Kommunity FK, there wasn’t yet the category or genre moniker of “deathrock” applied to our music. KFK was more ov an experimental band which meant that we were really into experimenting with diverse genres ov music simultaneously. It allowed for critics to label us in a few different categories which I found curious. “Gloom & Doom,” “Brittle Psychedelic Dark Drone,” “GothPunk”, just to name a few. You can still label KFK in diverse categories especially nowadays with the mashed up influences I’m inspired by & composing with. This is not trying to be clever. It’s just what the results are while trying to move forward as an Artist really should.

I would luv to see today’s bands not be afraid to step outside ov the Deathrock genre to attempt to bring something new & fresh to it. Otherwise, keeping it frozen in time kills it. How can the younger bands emulate something that doesn’t exist anymore? I do believe in keeping the true Deathrock genre alive but to imitate those who came before just sounds like a tribute band, & there are some! Be a Deathrock band, but be original with it, or at least try. Make your own statement.

Some people think that Deathrock is associated with Death Metal & the like. Seriously. Especially the venue talent buyers that I’ve run into when attempting to book our tours here in the USA & where the venue promoter is quite young & blinded by his own musical interests, then books KFK on a Death Metal bill thinking that this is a brilliant thing to do. I’ve heard a few opening bands on tour & what they think is Deathrock actually sounds like bad metal. It can also be just the ‘trendy thing to do’ as well for some. But as far as liking any ov the new Deathrock bands, there are a few but not too many. I look to the more avant garde side ov things & luv electronic noise music more than today’s Deathrock. When I finally hear that amazing new Deathrock band, I’ll definitely pay attention. Hell, I may even want to produce them.



Oliver: When you all completed the Texas tour and got back home, what was the first thing you all did? What were the high points and low points of the Texas tour? How do the California and Texas scenes compare and how has Calfornia treated you since you’ve been back? (Good, I hope!)

Patrik Mata: The very first thing that we all did when returning from both tours was sleep & hug our felines. Touring seems to have no time element as you are always in a van & in some cases not able to see outside ov it so you try to amuse yourself by listening to music, reading, try to take naps, & chat bonding as friends & colleagues. Eating on the road is minimal & attributed to bringing your own snacks because you can’t stop to eat in a restaurant as it takes up too much time from your allotted scheduling so you only stop for gasoline. At the end ov any tour you really want to see your loving pets again. Sherry & I used to take our feline familiars on tour with us sneaking them into our hotel rooms & bringing in their supplies. That was really fun. We always try to bring our family vibe with us on every tour. We can’t bring the pets with us anymore as they are getting older.

The high points ov the California tour was being at sea level & seeing familiar faces at the performances, selling new merchandise to new fans, & meeting with some ov our endorsers, & buying a new silver skull walking cane at Necromance on Melrose Ave. We were in need ov a date on a Friday when in California as one ov the tour dates got changed at the last minute due to somebody stealing a klub’s entire sound system, but an old colleague put together a last minute arranged performance for us in LA & that was so FKing awesome. I’ll never forget the respect or the love from this individual for doing that for me.

A low point was having to leave the West Coast.

Texas was incredible but FKing scorching hot. Definitely the low point! We’re not used to that hot ov a temperature, I’ll tell you. How the Goths in Texas survive is a Magickal element! Every performance was great, we felt, & most everybody involved was respectful & nice towards us. We got to meet & hang out with a lot ov amazing fans & followers who had never seen Kommunity Fk before. That was touching to be face-to-face with such wonderful people. I made a lot ov new friends from that tour. You are one ov them, Oliver. you played such killer DJ sets. You have an amazing collection ov music that I enjoyed listening to while working together. Thank you!

[Oliver: You're most certainly welcome!]


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Oliver: What was your time in England and at the Batcave club like?

Patrik Mata: I LUV England. Especially during the beginning ov 1985. Kommunity FK had just performed a concert in Hollywood at the Continental Club (or Crush Club, whichever it was called that particular night). Psi-Com was opening act. I had already been personally invited by Sex Gang Children‘s tour manager Graham Bentley (discoverer ov Bauhaus in his & their hometown ov Northampton, UK) to come over to live with he & his immediate family in Northamptonshire, UK & become part ov a band that consisted ov Cam Campbell & Kevin Matthews, both ov whom were part ov Sex Gang Children during the “Blind: Quick Gas Gang” era. We were touring with them for the second year as well as letting them use our back line.. Recently, my colleague Dave Roberts, original founder & bassist/composer for SGC, told me that that was actually a coup to have me replace Andi Sexgang as their lead singer(!!!!??). Seriously!

Ov course, I thought that I was coming over to kickstart a new band, leaving KFK on a hiatus for awhile & I had no desire nor even any idea to do that to Andi. Anyway, so then Kevin left & I had invited this “friend” over from the USA to play drums for me & then realized that he couldn’t play due to time fluctuation but I went with him anyway as that was all that I had at the time. Cam & I became very close mates & he had even went so far as to create all the necessary backing trax for us to work with in rehearsals on a drum machine with scribbled out note-by-note arrangements before I arrived there in the UK. We then — unfortunately, in a drunken stupor which I regret a bit to this precise moment — had had a bit ov a falling out so in came Eddie Branch (UK Decay), out ov retirement, mind you, & a very close friend & neighbor ov Graham’s, to play bass with me. We then needed a synth player & I always loved bringing in an ‘anti-musician’ to play that instrument as I had done previously with Margaret in 1983 during the “Close One Sad Eye” era. Cam had a girlfriend named Lone Erickson, a Danish Goth Girl who worked at The Common Market down the Kings Road in London. I asked her to join up much to Cam’s dismay. She obliged. So this was my new 4 piece Gothic band & we were christened “Between The Eyes” by our manager, Graham Bentley. Graham organized a recording session inside his home which was designed out ov brick & had incredible acoustics. We recorded 3 ov my compositions: “Dreams for A Better World”, “Head”, & Your Voice At Twelve”. These have never been released but I do own the masters & will surprise the world one day by releasing them as ‘bonus trax’ on an upcoming album.

We all lived in Northhampton which I fell in love with for its rich history & beauty. Really. I did not want to leave. The band toured with The Virgin Prunes during their “The Moon Looked down & Laughed” lp, Xmal Deutschland during it’s “Tocsin” lp, & we all toured the university circuit. I loved it.

My band also headlined many Goth clubs throughout the UK & one incident comes to mind when we performed in High Wycombe. While we were performing onstage I witnessed the promoter taking all the money out ov the register & then split out ov the venue before we could get paid. Eddie began questioning every person involved with the venue to locate this bastard until we found out where he lived. Eddie had also brought in one ov his very close mates, Peanut, who was a boot boy & member ov their local hooligan affiliation — namely, their ‘firm’, called the Oxford Mental Mob, & our roadie/minder. We loaded the van & went straight to this person’s abode to find that there was a huge after party being held in the promoter’s house. We made our way in & found this bastard counting the money for himself in his room. Eddie grabbed a table lamp with great gusto & asked for our money. The twat was stuttering & mumbling until Eddied grabbed him by the throat with the lamp now with a broken light bulb being held under the twat’s throat until he finally obliged us to write out a cheque for our performance guarantee. We grabbed the spliff out ov his mouth then took off. That’s how it’s done, lads & lasses, when this ever happens to you for your band’s performance services. Nowadays I always use contracts.

Everything was dandy & exciting then. So many British bands that we now have adored since 1985 had just released ground breaking lps during this time. There were so many amazing clubs in London that I had frequented & I had the opportunity to actually see incredible bands performing in them as well as hang with such illuminates as Ian Astbury & Billy Duffy ov The Cult & even Sham 69‘s Jimmy Pursey, among others.

We visited the oldest cemeteries that had tombstones dating back to the 15th century & a lot ov the original goths were known to have hung out there. One night, some mates & I went to a club called Gossips on Dean Street in London & this was where the famous BatCave was held. But on this particular night it so happened to be ‘the last night ov The Batcave’. The interior was decked out like what you can imagine the best ov goth clubs today have taken their cue from. spider webbing strewn all over the gaffe, everyone tarted up in incredible black deathly make up 7 ensembles. Jonny Slut ov Specimen was DJing & had changed his entire appearance. He had shaved his long DeathHawk completely off leaving a blonde little curly cue as his fringe. He wore a red windbreaker as did Bowie way before Jonny claiming it was his ‘James Dean look’ & this was during his Station to Station look with a white tee shirt underneath. He continued to spin the best Bowie, Glam, Goth classics as well as the beginning ov what has now become minimal electronic dance music throughout this night. Then that was IT. I still have my membership card!

I also hangout at The Embassy Club in London. This was thee hang out for all the coolest Brit & visiting rock legends where they could just have a drink among their peers. There were a few different nights where I made acquaintances with both Ian Astbury & Billy Duffy, Martin Fry ov ABC (yeah, I know), & one night the entire band Wall Of Voodoo were taking up an entire couch while in the city recording trax for their new lp which title slips away from me. I attended a club run by christain ov Dr & The Medics called Alice In Wonderland. This was during the Neo Psychedelia era where bands like The Damned became their alter ego, Naz Nomad & The Nightmares whose lp “Give Dady The Knife, Cindy” was influenced by my favorite psychGaragePunk band The Fuzztones. This lp was a conglomeration ov 60s Brit & Amerikan PsychPunk classic covers that I bought as soon as it was released. everybody should have this in their collection. Ion this particular night, Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction were performing one ov their first gigs & after their set nobody applauded or reacted! I thought that that was so kool. They were amazing loud & live. I saw Dave Vanian squirming through the packed house like a snake dressed in 60s psychedelia fashion wearing a Brian Jones wig, a tan lsuede leather fringe jacket, & skintight black jeans with pointed high-heeled Chelsea boots & he had shades on. Too FKing kool, indeed. Then I went to another psychedelic club called Pidgeon Toed Orange Peel. This was the very first night & there were a small crowd but the sight that totally entranced me was there was a small cult ov Droogies hanging out over by a black light glowing menacingly in the corner. Psych Boot Boys in Clockwork Orange fashion. They looked incredible. I later realized that it was the Gavin Watson firm. Gavin is a renown photographer & Trad Skin who’s works have been published in many magazines & books pertaining to British subcultural fashion.

I know that these memories are a bit lengthy but I had experienced so much in 1985-1987 being in the thick ov it & also being in the UK during such a revo;luminary time for ground breaking music. I went to see The Jesus & Mary Chain perform at The electric Circus & they had recently released their very first lp, “Psychocandy”. This show was so FKing chaotic & wonderful. They waited almost 2 hours to come onstage & when they did Jim Reid was so FKed up that he fell over with the mic stand in his hand. Then they only performed for around half an hour. The audience mainly consisting ov rowdy hooligans & punters went ballistic destroying the venue ferociously. The band left the stage in hurry for their lives. I hid in the men’s bog as the riot squad came running in arresting everyone in sight. You can find this show on youtube filmed in black & white. True story! I also had the honor to have free entrance to see The Damned with The Fuzztones as their chosen touring opening band at The Derngate in Northampton. This show changed my life. The Damned were touring behind “Phantasmagoria” as The Fuzztones had been a major influence on Dave Vanian & Capt. Sensible to go their psychedelic way with “The Black Album” & their Naz Nomad & the Nightmares affair. The Fuzztones are still doing their thing where founding leader Rudi Protrudi is living in Berlin with a new kick ass line up. Rudi has recently asked me to be in his upcoming documentary about The Fuzztones to share my memories ov he & I hanging out & creating some very crazy hijinx together during the 90s. They have released several new lps as well as a tribute to them lp. Check them out.

One fine day I will publish my book, an autobiography that I have begun with an old colleague ov mine that has known me since he was 15 years old. The book has it’s working title as, “1000 Years Ov Attitude”.

Oliver: Lastly, is there anything you want to add that I might not have touched upon here? Where’s good place t either buy your music, keep up to date with what’s going on, or both?

Patrik Mata: Everybody can buy the new single, “THEE NEW TRIBE” from the official Kommunity FK store here: http://www.nimbitmusic.com/kommunityfk.2

Our official website: http://www.kommunityfk.com/

Our official Facebook profile page: http://www.facebook.com/kommunity.fk

We have at least 3 other official pages on Facebook, just type our name into its search engine.
You can also Google the FK out ov Kommunity FK for more trippy facts, rumors, lies, & stories ‘they’ made up.
I wish to thank you, Oliver, for this great collection ov interview questions & kudos. You are one ov us.

I also wish to thank graciously all ov our fans & followers throughout these 35 mad years. Stay tuned for more from Kommunity FK.

TEXYLVANIA

TEXYLVANIA OFFICIAL:

Go to:

texylvania.fourfour.com

TEXYLVANIA FACEBOOK OFFICIAL

http://www.facebook.com/theetexylvania

TEXYLVANIA SOUNDCLOUD OFFICIAL

http://www.soundcloud.com/texylvania

When hanging out with Texylvania here, play trax at maximum volume.

In closing, I want everybody to grab a copy ov the new lp whether it’s in digital, CD, or vinyl format. Listen to it with headphones on & play it at maximum volume.

I know that you will love it. We put everything into it. also grab it’s remix companion, “Derangementz Ov…” as it, too, will have some incredible sonics for a wonderful headphone experience. There will be remixes designed by Kitty Lectro, Sherry Rubber, DJ Cruel Britannia, Mark Lynall, Moe from Burning Image, as well as many others which will be disclosed soon. If there are any DJs out there that want to design remixes for KFK please contact us at:

kommunityfk@hotmail.com



Oliver: thanks so much, Patrik! It was a joy seeing you in Texas and I hope you all come back soon!

Patrik: Thank you, Oliver, & thank you all whom follow Kommunity FK & Texylvania. Look for us touring through a city near you in 2014.

CVLT Nation’s Top 6
Neofolk Releases of 2013!

by Oliver Sheppard

A lot of the recent infusion of music and interest into neofolk can be traced to bands like Cult of Youth and the excellent Agalloch, bands originally rooted in the punk and metal scenes, respectively. This is quite a new development in the history of the music, given that it was originally thought of as a “post-industrial” style whose principle founders had come from the industrial and postpunk scenes. (Granted, Crisis were punk as fuck, and that band ties directly into the formation of the genre, too.) While there is an indie/hipster component to some of the new attention – for example, some folks insist that Chelsea Wolfe is “neofolk,” and the boundaries of the genre do continue to blur – the core of the music’s tradition continues forward and reliably delivers beautiful and inspiring releases year after year.

2013 was no different, with new entries by bands like Australia’s Lakes and Chicago’s Et Nihil being added to the canon. Below are the Top 6 Neofok releases of 2013!

ofthewandandthemoon
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