RITUAL CVLT PARTY #3 round table

[Spanish translation here]

Dear acolytes,

Here’s the complete transcription of the conversation we held with Matt Rozeik and AJ Cookson (Necro Deathmort), Mr. Ax, Christopher, Andy and Oisin (Dejadeath), David Sabaté (Mondo Sonoro) and ourselves during the latest Ritual Cvlt BCN Party #3.

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David Sabaté (Mondo Sonoro): How did Necro Deathmort come up with such a mix between electronic music and Death Metal? Was it your intention to produce these results from the beginning?

Matt Rozeik (Necro Deathmort): Not really, we used to play in more conventional Doom Metal bands, with drummer and all that stuff. And then he didn’t turn up for practice one day… (laughs).

We have always made electronic music, so anything we do is always going to have a lot of electronic in it. We have never known any other way.

Edgar Merigó (Ritual Cvlt BCN): Do you get a lot of people looking at you over their shoulders and stating that you are not a “proper” Metal band?

AJ Cookson (Necro Deathmort): We haven’t actually had that much criticism for using computers, which you think we would, considering the sort of music we play. We played a festival in Leeds last week, which was full of Metal acts, for instance, and everyone accepted us. And it seems quite acceptable, so we just carry on, really.

It also started as something slightly convenient, in the fact that, if we had an idea, we could work making music anywhere that we could set up our laptop, be it in Matt’s living room or in a friend’s studio, anywhere. Normally a band would say “ok, now let’s get drums on this”, but we were already onto the next song.

It came a point where we had like fifteen songs that we weren’t even going to put out in an album, and that’s why we got a stupid name.

Matt: Yeah, we weren’t thinking in seeing it printed on a t-shirt in five years time… (laughs)

Edgar: Actually, Dejadeath have a rather stupid name, too!

Andy Kruger (Ex-Dejadeath): It means laziness, it’s a play with words. If you read it in Spanish it’s like sloppiness, laziness.

Matt: I thought it was a pun on déjà-vu… (laughs).

Mr. Ax (Dejadeath): There’s Spanish people that still don’t get the joke. They go “deeigideeith” or “daaigeedith” (more laughs).

Andy: Apparently and if I’m not mistaken, there’s a deejay who’s called DJ…

Everybody:DJ DEATH!!! (laughter)

Mr. Ax: Do you know what “Mort” means?

Matt: Yeah, it means “Death”… So, technically, our name means “deathly death death”.

Edgar: It’s almost like Arnold Schwarzenegger! (laughter)

Mr. Ax: I was saying it because “Mort” in Catalan means “Death”, also!

Matt: Yeah, I think all Latin languages have that word.

Andy: You should have named yourselves “Thanathos Necro Deathmort”.

Matt: Just to flaunt Latin, yeah. (laughs)

David: It is obvious that sense of humor is important in both bands.

Matt: It is important in life, isn’t it? Even if you’re in a Metal band… Maybe once I knew any friends that had no sense of humour.

Edgar: I don’t see that much sense of humour reflected in NDM. First time I approached it, I didn’t perceive it as a funny band.

David: Well, there’s some song titles that are rather funny, take “This Beat is Necrotronic”, for instance…

Ritual Cvlt BCN #3 round table by Eduard Tuset 2

Edgar: You’re right.

Christo, did you know that Matt knew about Asgaroth, weirdly?

Matt: Yeah!

Christopher Baque-Wildman (Dejadeath): Actually there’s a friend of mine from London who knows you guys, he’s a member of Indesinence, Ilia.

Matt: Yeah, isn’t he also in Grave Miasma?

Christopher: Not really, that’s the drummer Danny. He’s one of me best mates, Ilia. We’re going to see his new project, Binah, in June.

Matt: We will be around!

Christopher: Yeah, we will see you there.

David: Dejadeath, tonight you will be playing your first gig ever. Why now, and why today at Ritual Cvlt BCN?

Edgar: We tricked them into it.

Mr. Ax: Yeah, he told us that we had to play live, and he arranged everything that was necessary.

Edgar: I was wondering… Both NDM and Dejadeath are projects that came to life because you were bored. Or at the very least, because you didn’t have the responsibility or the pressure to “be in a band” and you didn’t have to face the expectations from anybody. But now both bands have started becoming successful, maybe because you have been free to do whatever you really wanted to do.

Christopher: Absolutely. I mean, I’m thirty-seven. I’m not sure about you guys, but…

Matt: Yeah, mid-thirties, as well.

Christopher: So, we’re just at the point where we just want to have fun. We just want to do music, you know. For us, our true bond is that we share the same sense of humor. Just laughing and not giving a fuck.

Edgar: It’s as if Death Metal were just the language you all happen to be familiar with, but your real common ground is humor.

Christopher: Probably! You know, we grew up with OSDM when we were kids, so it’s just an excuse to go back to having a bit of adventure, and doing some videos, and exploring some stuff and facing ourselves with what pisses us. Actually, the band started with us just writing random lyrics in a bar. Even the name’s a bloody joke, for fuck’s sake.

Edgar: Yeah, but now you’re presenting your second album… How does it feel to have the responsibility, and the audience expectations, back at your door?

Oisin Martinez (Dejadeath): Well, that’s the reason why we’ll never play again! (smiles)

Christopher: You guys are sort of intelligent enough. Enough to keep it down to the very minimum, and just enjoy it, travel, do stuff.

Matt: Yeah, we wouldn’t add anybody, it’s been too long doing our thing to add anybody doing anything that is not taking care of our merch.

Christopher: So you guys have known each other for very long?

Matt: Not that long, about ten years?

AJ: Yeah, ten years, I guess that’s a long way… Yeah,  pretty much when we met, we started making music straight away. I remember when I met Matt, he had a huge stack of albums in his hands, and he said: “why don’t you listen to those, and then we’ll talk”. I already knew many of them, but others just opened a whole new world to me.

Edgar: Can you name some?

Matt: Well, basically, he hadn’t got into Justin Broderick or anything like that at the time, so I just told him “this guy is basically you”.

AJ: I was making Drum & Bass and electronic music and Industrial Metal and things like that, and Matt told me I was basically doing Godflesh. I wasn’t really aware of it at the moment, I knew of the band, but I just didn’t know there were so many different facets to it.

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Edgar: Have you met the man, Justin?

AJ: Yeah, I chased him around Supersonic… (everybody laughs) I don’t drink a lot normally but if I don’t drive I normally drink. So I saw him at Supersonic and he was basically trying to find a quiet spot but I went up to him and fed him our CD, he told me that he would play it in his car… He’s a nice guy.

We’ve actually played a lot of festivals where we’ve been in the same bill, but we’ve never quite caught up with him. But one day we will! (laughs)

Edgar: You should do a remix!

Matt: We’d love to, yeah. We even thought about emailing him about that. We did email Mick Harris of Scorn, however.

Edgar: I’m so sad that Mick put Scorn to sleep. It was one of my favorite electronic acts ever.

Matt: Yeah, really underrated. He’s a metalhead making electronic music, and there’s not many of those that I can name that actually accomplish making great electronic music.

Edgar: He used to make one of the most exquisite and elegant kinds of electronic music.

Matt: I think that electronics are sort of ten years late for Metal, since there is still a lot of hatred for keyboards in Metal, and a lot of things about keeping it true and only sounding like you are from 1986, you know.

Edgar: Well, to me, Scorn playing Roadburn is a symptom that these barriers have been torn down somehow. You have just told us that you yourselves haven’t had that much criticism about bringing laptops and keyboards onstage!

Matt: That’s true… The only criticism we got was after releasing our first record, some media said that the funny song titles were just ruining the vibe, that they were spoiling the mood. I didn’t take it that seriously, I’m the fucking writer, you know… I listen to Melvins as well, and they’re like the ultimate band for doing stupid stuff, so… They have done everything, literally everything that you can possibly do as a band.

Christopher: Ultimately, you know, lyric-wise, it’s a sort of joke, isn’t it? As a musician, the words you write… It’s as if you had the obligation to sing something. It’s one of these aesthetic barriers that seem to just be there and floating around.

Matt: Half the bands I know wouldn’t even want to sing lyrics if they didn’t have to. That’s why they just…

Christopher: …just bark.

Matt: Yeah! That’s kind of annoying, when you have to think of something. That’s why I think a lot of bands would just write their lyrics in the studio. They have these song that they’ve perfected after playing it a million times, getting lyrics into it was just not the fun part.

Edgar: You actually chose to bury the lyrics into the mix, so nobody understands what you’re talking about. And I think that is actually honest, it’s like “we don’t have anything poetical to say through literature, so we just prefer to bark and use our voices as if they were synth lines”.

Matt: Yeah, it’s just another layer! I mean, I’m not David Lee Roth, am I? Wouldn’t really wanna be, either.

Ritual Cvlt BCN #3 round table by Eduard Tuset

Edgar: Whereas Dejadeath are really serious about their lyrics, despite your sense of humor you want them to be meaningful, they have a message.

Mr. Ax: Meaningful for us, you mean… “Purple Dawn”, for example, is about Andy’s shirt. (laughter)

Andy: Well, I have to say that there is a difference between the lyrics of the first record and the lyrics of the second record. The first one was extremely stupid. We had lots of fun doing it. And I think the second… Well, it is stupid, but there is some thought about it. Whereas the previous one, well: we went to a bar and we wrote it down, while having a beer, and you know, if it rhymes, it rhymes, and if not…

Mr. Ax: We had a song where every line would end in “…ation”.

Andy: Yeah, that one was great (laughs).

Edgar: Where did you write the lyrics for the second album?

Andy: Well, I didn’t do much for the second album, and that is why it is so good (laughter).

Christopher: Well, we grew up in a sort of catholic environment and one thing about the Catholic Church is that it has great control of what we should do, and it’s just absolutely ridiculous. Of course, now in Spain, with the new government, it is growing again and we just loath listening to that. And like so many traditions in Spain, it’s just bloody ridiculous, rooted in the past. So we just had a lot of fun taking the piss out of it, actually bringing it forward, taking it out of context.

Not really important. (laughter)

Edgar: Have you listened to one another’s music?

Matt: I did, I listened to Dejadeath a week before coming here.

Edgar: …and you guys scared him to death, he wrote me like “are you sure we’re going to go with these guys? They’re just too heavy for us…”.

Matt: Yeah, haha. In the last years, it has been easier for us to play shows where there was a great variety of bands and styles: Grind, Doom, Drone, Noise… We used to play just the arty festivals.

Christopher: I think you sound really extreme.

Matt: Yeah, I think you want to find new extremes when into heavy music, there’s only so fast you can shred or play blast beats… You will always come across the borders. I think that’s why super-technical Death Metal was really popular ten years ago and now it seems to have fallen into slumber. It’s because the boundary has been defined. There’s only so fast you can play, and then, you know, what?

Everybody is still kind of doing Black Sabbath, in their own way. It’s not changed that much. It’s not like if you play it super fast you’re going to engender something new.

David: Talking about Black Sabbath, someone described you as “the missing link between Black Sabbath and Kode9”. Do you agree with that?

Matt: Not really, no (laughs). I think we have more to do with Kode9 than with Ozzy, really.

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David: Your music aesthetics permits you to play as soon in Sónar Festival as in Roadburn, which audience do you like best?

AJ: You can never known, we have played shows that we thought were going to be shitty and then it turned round and they were great, you never know.

We were once supporting an Atari Teenage Riot show and, all throughout the show, there was these guy going thumbs down all the way through and Matt’s looking at me, going (grimaces and everyone laughs). So in the end, Matt tells me “come on, let’s just get the fuck out of here, let’s get the stuff in the car”. So we’re loading up the car and then, as we’d have it, the guy who was giving us the thumbs walked out really pissed out of the venue and walks towards us, and tells us “Guys, that was AWESOME” (everybody laughs). So I ask him “man, then I were you giving us the thumbs down?” and he answers “well, I thought it was the right thing to do, because giving you the thumbs up would have been just too cheerful”. (laughter endures)

And then again, there have been shows that we’d thought had gone real well and people had actually just ignored us. You can never tell.

Edgar: OK lads, thank you so much, I wish we could stay a little longer, but we have to carry on with the show.

Matt: Let’s play some music!

Everyone: Yeah!

///

Pictures by Eduard Tuset & Javi Tupatutupa

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RITUAL CVLT PARTY #2 round table

[Spanish translation here]

Dear initiates,

Here’s the complete transcription of the conversation we held with Scott Kelly, Noah Landis, Greg Dale, David Sabaté (Mondo Sonoro) and ourselves during the latest Ritual Cvlt BCN Party #2.

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David Sabaté (Mondo Sonoro): I think that “The Forgiven Ghost in Me” contains the most positive songs that you have written to this very day, why is that?

Scott Kelly: Yeah, I agree. I think that as you survive and move forward in life, you start to learn lessons, and one of the lessons that I’ve learnt in the last few years is to get the shitty people out of my life and keep the good one in, to spend my time an efforts into being surrounded by the people I love, and not to allow poisonous people into my life. That, along with being a little more aware of myself and my own path, be it spiritually or emotionally. It also has a lot to do with my sobriety; I’ve been sober for thirteen years and the first eight of them I spent trying to figure out where I was at, trying to recover from all the damage that I did during the first thirty three years of my life.

But I can’t really explain the songs, they just happen… I don’t sit down and think “I’m going to write a song about this or that“, the songs just happen naturally when I pick up the guitar or the pen. Working with these guys has also brought out a whole new set of possibilities with regard to emotional depths and dynamics of the songs.

David: Your music portrays a certain vision of life and reality, albeit not a happy one. Why have you chosen this vibe to express yourself, and to what extent do you think that it reflects your real personality?

Scott Kelly: It’s not a choice at all, you know… It is completely real and that is the reason it changes. It’s just the way it is.

Edgar Merigó (Ritual Cvlt BCN): In hindsight, do you think that there may be any duality in the way that you pour your brighter feelings into your solo project and the darkest ones into Neurosis?

Scott Kelly: No. Not at all, actually. Noah can also speak about this on both accounts, as he’s in both bands. Neurosis is not a negative band by any stretch of imagination.

Noah Landis: No.

Scott Kelly: It’s just our reality.

Noah Landis: Neurosis is all about the light. It’s about finding the light through the darkness of your life, and it’s a constant goal – to try to express that journey through music, and in the way that we have chosen to do it from the beginning, to try to be as truthful, honest and as pure as we are through these instruments. It is like a channeling.

When we write, we deliberately put blinders on to anything around, and we just try to serve the songs and let them happen, in a way that is not in reference to anything else. We all love music and we all listens to music of all different kinds all day long, but what we do, what we try to do is kind of isolated and it’s not easy, it doesn’t just happen, it can be a trial sometimes. That’s why it takes a long time between Neurosis‘ albums.

Scott Kelly: It’s all relative to your experience. I’m sure there is many people in this room that agree with me in that Neurosis‘ music is not negative.

Edgar: I didn’t actually say that…

Scott Kelly: I know, but a lot of people do perceive it as negative; to our reality, however, it is not at all. Like Noah said, to us it’s like trying to find the light, trying to start a fucking fire with nothing, trying to make the sky crack open, trying to move mountains… Neurosis is and has been for a long, long time a driven force. It’s something that’s far beyond our control and it’s something that works all the time, and we remain present in it all the time. It’s pretty difficult to explain it in any other way than that; there’s really no way to actually just say “one plus one equals two“, because it doesn’t, not in this case. It has always been about “one plus one equals three” in Neurosis. If that makes sense to you, then you understand what I mean, and If it doesn’t, then I don’t know what to tell you (laughs). It’s just different.

Ritual Cvlt_Scott Kelly_Round Table_3 by Ana Beltrán

Edgar: It’s very funny that you should highlight the bright side of Neurosis‘ Music, since it might be a little hidden to the general audience…

Scott Kelly: Look where we are, look at our lives, look at the world today, look at what we’ve created… Where is the light? What is light? Honestly, I don’t see any. I see it in my children when they’re young, but as they grow older I see it going from their eyes – it changes from light into something else. Just like it happens to all of us.

Noah Landis: Noise. Changes in the noise. We spend our lives in this noisy world, with noisy minds trying to see clearly. That’s always the struggle, right? What we try to do with our music is seeing clearly, and speak it in some way with sound.

Edgar: …which also happens in Scott’s solo project, so I take it that it’s just different perspectives on the same subject?

Scott Kelly: Yeah. I’m just kind of obsessively creative, at this point of my life I just can’t never stop – I’ve got three bands and I’m real serious about the three of them, and they all express something that is really vital to me. This band is a really special one, we’ve really put our heart and souls into it, we share a common understanding and we’re able to pour that into these tunes. I wrote the basic guitar parts and the words – I basically wrote the songs -, but these guys wrote their own parts; there might have been a couple times when I made a suggestion here and there, but they just knew what to do. They were ready to interpret the songs themselves, and I thought it was perfect, it speaks for itself.

Edgar: So you feel more comfortable with “The Road Home” than on your very own?

Scott Kelly: I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t more comfortable to be on the stage with more than just myself, because that kind of sucks.

Greg Dale: (Sneers, seemingly surprised)

Scott Kelly: That being said, I like to play solo but this is great, I really like it; I feel like these songs were written to be played this way and I’m really appreciative that we get the chance to do it.

Edgar: How’s the tour going so far?

Scott Kelly: Where only a week in, so…

Noah Landis: We got another month to go. It’s great, everyday is a new mystery, you don’t know what the day is gonna be, who you gonna meet, what you gonna eat… It’s been really nice, I actually feel really grateful to be doing it, really lucky to have people like you come and hear what we’re doing. I feel lucky to be playing these songs for Scott; the core of these songs comes from a really generous place in him and it feels really special to get to play them every night.

David: As you already know, we had Jarboe with us in the previous party and when asked about the collaboration with Neurosis, she literally said “It was a lovefest, it was like we were brothers, we instantly understood each other. Neurosis is the only band where I feel like I’m me, I gave my heart to it“.

Edgar: She also said that you had made her regain her faith in Rock’n’roll.

Scott Kelly: Wow, that’s great… That’s my favorite Neurosis‘ record by far, because I don’t have to hear myself singing on it (everybody laughs). So it is easier for me, I’d actually listen to that record, I don’t listen to the other ones unless I have to remember how to play a song. And the way that we made it was so unique… She is such an incredibly talented person. The shows that we did with her… She is beyond intense. Her energy, her performance, her focus, her passion… It’s all immense. We had some great shows together. We’re not collaborating with somebody if everybody isn’t equal; so I’m glad that she felt a part of it, because we felt like she was a part of it too, absolutely.

When she got up there, if anything, it was about her. The first night that we played with her, when she stepped up onstage I could barely breathe, literally, there was no air for like a minute, she just fucking snapped it up, she just walked there and it was like “fuck!”; all locked in. (To Noah) I don’t know if you remember that, I think it was in LA or something.

Noah Landis: Yeah. We did this concerts with her where Neurosis would play for about an hour, then she would come out and then we would play with her for about forty-five minutes, and she would leave and then we would play for another forty-five minutes. So these were just epic nights of music, and we would spend the whole night onstage.

I remember the first time I met her: she came to a concert with Michael and she found her way backstage and they brought us green chili peppers that they had grown from their garden, as a gift. And then we just sat down and talked with her for a while.

Scott Kelly: I remember that too; “The Masquerade” in Atlanta.

Noah Landis: Yeah. That’s where she is form, I think that is where she grew up. Her and Michael’s music had been so special to us since we were really young; we really looked up to what they were doing creatively. Swans are a singular band, there’s no other band like them. Those are the bands that we listened to when we started to study music.

Ritual Cvlt_Scott Kelly_Round Table_4 by Ana Beltrán

Edgar: Do you still listen to Swans to this day? To their latest recordings?

Noah Landis: Yeah.

Scott Kelly: Mm -hm. Definitely.

Edgar: Last year you played Primavera Sound with them, you both were on the line-up.

Scott Kelly: We played the next night with them, a co-headlining show in Paris. It was pretty incredible. They’re an amazing band. What they do is very unique and very alive, very vibrant.

Edgar: I have to ask you about Jondix. When he gave us the artwork for the exhibition, he personally told me that he wanted you to feel like you where at home, so he gave me a ton of prints and told me to put them all over the place; he didn’t want you to see the walls at all. And he told me “Last year, when we were hanging out in my apartment, there was this cool atmosphere. And I want for them to be in the same place that we were at that time“. So, do you feel at home?

Scott Kelly: Yeah, as soon as I have walked in and seen his stuff! I could look at his stuff for hours, literally. It’s just like meditation art to me, I could stare at it for hours… I don’t need anything more than that. He’s exceptional, it totally speaks right to the center of my brain and my heart. I found him through another tattooer named Thomas Hooper, he told me to contact him when I came to Barcelona, so I did…

He’s one of those people who instantly made a difference in my life. He has pushed himself spiritually in a way to where he’s found a center for himself, which is something that I’ve always craved and searched for; because I can tend to be pretty unsettled and kind of all over the place at times, but he’s much more…

Edgar: …centered?

Scott Kelly: Mm -hm. And he has a light but very strong energy about him, he’s very intelligent. He’s very funny, he likes to laugh, but at the same time he’s very disciplined, he very much knows what’s right and what’s wrong; it doesn’t waver at all. He made a profound impact on me as a person. Him and Thomas, actually. My only regret about this show is that he’s not here.

Edgar: So is ours.

Scott Kelly: He’s amazing, man. And he’s right here in your town…

Edgar: Not anymore, he’s not…

Scott Kelly: (Laughs) Yeah, I know. But he was… So it’s time for somebody else to step in.

Member of the audience #1:  I would like to know your perception of the cultural circumstances in Europe, as foreigners, and from the perspective of your daily routine.

Scott Kelly: The first time that we came here, it took me a lot of time to get over just how old everything was, because in America we’re particularly cut off from not only our roots, but also anything that’s much older than one hundred and fifty years old, particularly where we live which is on the West Coast. Coming to villages and meeting families who have lived in villages for generation upon generation – that alone hit me very strongly, and made me realize, and it made me crave to understand more the roots of my family and the culture.

I think that, unfortunately for you guys, American culture is very pervasive and it’s going everywhere now. Europe has become more and more Americanized, which is bullshit, because that is what American culture is, for the most part. The mainstream commercial culture is the worst poisonous shit you’re ever going to get and it’s all over the place now; it was not as much so twenty-two years ago, when I first came here. That being said, I think that you guys are certainly smarter about it in general, as a lot of countries that have fought to keep their food clean and fought against some of the corporate interests that control our country.

I’m always struck with how nice and polite people are here; how much people understand art and culture on a deeper level in general – which is to say that I don’t mean that Americans don’t, because a lot of Americans do, it’s just that it is not taught in schools, it’s not supported whatsoever by the government on any level; and I don’t know the specific situation is here, but I know that there are many European countries in which the governments completely support and encourage the arts and music. And that’s a joke back in America, there’s not even a state-supported venue in the country, not one; there’s nothing for musicians and artist. As a result, it causes for some pretty scrappy artist to come out of there; people get pretty aggressive because it creates a sort of dog-eat-dog atmosphere there, I think it bleeds through and I don’t miss that at all, it’s nice to be here because people aren’t as much competitive. It is obviously not as vicious, violent and crazy as it is back home.

Ritual Cvlt_Scott Kelly_Round Table_2 by Ana Beltrán

Noah Landis: The aspect of America which does not encourage art and music and self expression is, ironically, the same aspect that causes people to create their own formats to express themselves. We were children in the world of Punk Rock, and we started our bands in a warehouse space where we knocked holes on doors to put on concerts. We were doing the best we could at fighting that, against the discouragement.

I came to Europe in 1988, with Christ on Parade, a political Hardcore Punk Rock band from California and we did a tour for three months playing mostly squats back then… It was incredible to me, it completely blew my mind. We were doing our best to try to create a real alternative to the music that was being spoon-fed to American youth at that time, and when I came here, it was like that but without a ceiling – the squat scene and the anarchist scene, every place we went to had a history and a story of fighting the cops and winning…

Scott Kelly: You NEVER beat the cops in America. EVER. They just kill you. It’s not even a question. I mean, people try to all the time, but they always get killed. Every time (laughs). EVERY time.

Noah Landis: That was really special for me and it’s a lasting impression, and I know that the world is changing – we were then eighteen and now I’m forty-four, and nowadays we have all kinds of different ways of seeing the reality that we live in; and it’s not so much a fight all the time, not so much a standing against everything that I can point at. But I think that I came home from Europe and having crossed that frontier really changed me as a person; I went home with a new idea – that people can choose a different way to live with each other, and you don’t get that anywhere else, I got that from coming here.

Member of the audience #2: I’ve found some transcendental silver thread in your music, and I wonder where is the turning point for you to go from being a Hardcore Punk Rock band to becoming Neurosis and founding a genre. I really want to know.

Scott Kelly: I’m not going to answer the question directly because I don’t feel like I can, but basically we made a decision that we would do whatever it took to get our minds to the point where we could create what we were thinking. It took a lot of time, sacrifice, isolation and meditation… Some our methods might not have been the healthiest ones at the time, but then again, growing up in the culture that we did, it seemed pretty natural. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the world these days and us not really knowing who is here right now, I can’t really answer that question, honestly. But I hope you understand.

Member of the audience #2: Well, if you’re not able to tell me, then nobody will.

Scott Kelly: Have you ever seen the movie “Altered States“?

Member of the audience #2: No.

Scott Kelly: There’s your answer!

Noah Landis: The doors of perception, right?

Scott Kelly: Yeah. It’s just opening doors and going in and hopefully remembering to close them when you’re fucking done because if you don’t, then you end up crazy.

Noah Landis: Keep in mind that, when we started playing music, our biggest limit was our ability to play the instruments. When the band first started, the idea about what the band will be able to achieve was beyond the capability of the players.

Scott Kelly: Very much.

Noah Landis: And so it was a progression of learning and that’s where the dedication and the total commitment and the working and working came in. You know, there’s good things about not knowing how to play your instrument, because when you figure it out, you figure it out for yourself, nobody is teaching it to you.

Anyhow, it was not a moment that marked the band getting its personality, it was an arch of time. And we’re still on that arch, after twenty-five or more years of doing this together. There’s something that changes with your life, and the way the music comes through you because you’ve changed, as a group, as five people making a circle, but there are things that don’t change; and I think that you will be able to find both of those in that thread. The music obviously has changed, and continues to, but there is a silver thread.

Ritual Cvlt_Scott Kelly_Round Table_5 by Ana Beltrán

Scott Kelly: There’s a few examples of this same sort of movement in music over time: one of them is Los Angeles’ Punk band called The Germs. If you ever listened to their first record, seven inch, and their LP; in two years they went from not being able to play their instruments nearly at all to being a full-fledged nitro-fuelled fucking kick-ass Punk Rock band with these amazing lyrics of immortal-fucking-genius.

There’s another one that a friend of ours pointed out to us once, that I thought was the most interesting one. Do you know the song “Rock around the Clock“? Bill Hailey? 1956?

Member of the audience #2: Mm-hm.

Scott Kelly: 1967, eleven years later, there’s Woodstock. So what happened in those eleven years?

Member of the audience #2: Too much (everybody laughs).

Scott Kelly: A lot of stuff, a lot of stuff! But there was one thing in particular, and Jimmy Hendrix was all over it. That’s how progressions happen fast, but it’s not an endorsement, it’s not a recommendation, that’s how you go from here to there; and you have to pay the toll.

Member of the audience #2: I understand; there’s no easy explanation. Once I met Moebius – Jean Giraud, the illustrator -, and I asked him about why he had chosen the desert. And he told me “Why not? I live in Mexico and I was looking for a place where I didn’t have to be near people; I just wanted to be with my horse and listen to a lot of Bebop and Jazz music, and experiment with altered states to draw, and to see“.

Scott Kelly: The desert is a good place! (laughs) I spend a lot of time in the desert.

Edgar: Thank you so much, Scott, Noah and Greg, we should be getting on with the show; it’s been a huge pleasure to have you here at our round table, and we hope it’s not the last time (applause).

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Pictures by Ana Beltrán

Join the Cvlt & Obey the Sacred Noise

RITUAL CVLT PARTY #1 round table

[Spanish translation here]

Dear acolytes,

Here’s the complete transcription of the conversation we held with Jarboe, Mark Cunningham, Rider G Omega (Obsidian Kingdom), Peter Emerson Williams, and David Sabaté (Mondo Sonoro), during the latest Ritual Cvlt Party #1.

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David Sabaté (Mondo Sonoro): Jarboe and Mark, how did you two meet each other?

Jarboe: When I first went to New York City in 1984, Mark was the first person that Michael (Gira) introduced me to.

Mark Cunningham: I don’t remember that…

Jarboe: (laughs) I know you don’t. I think it was in St. Mark’s Bookshop or something like this. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was St. Mark’s Books, in the original location.

Mark: Yeah, that’s where I was working.

Jarboe: I know; you were working there and I was living there, and I was introduced to you and I was thrilled.

Rider G Omega (Obsidian Kingdom): Did you know about him before you went to New York?

Jarboe: Oh yes, I knew about all the artist that lived there at the time. I was very, very excited.

RGO: So did you get to see any show by Mars?

Jarboe: I don’t think so, no. Did you play The Kitchen, Mark?

Mark: No, it was before that… We played The Kitchen in 78.

David: So could we say that Mars was really an influence to you, then?

Jarboe: Well, everything that was going on there at the time influenced me.

Mark: Mars was just another piece of the puzzle of the No Wave scene.

Jarboe: Yeah. Mars, DNA, Lydia (Lunch), Jim (Chance and the Contortions)… There was these situation going on that I had to go to. I got all my stuff up there and… come what may.

RGO: Peter, where were you then?

Peter Emerson Williams: At that time I was still in Norway, still in school. Just warming Metal riffs and playing with people my own age so…

RGO: I was hardly even born, so don’t worry.

I just recently listened to the only LP by Mars and I was really shocked by the music… It was mostly farts and screams and nonsense.

Jarboe: It was very visceral, pretty straight.

RGO: I agree with that, and I can certainly see the relation between that style and Sonic Youth‘s, for example… How and when did that scene end?

Mark: It didn’t end, it just mutated. The scene in New York just keeps mutating. A lot of Dance music was coming in at that moment, and a lot of Dance-oriented clubs started opening at that moment. So what we were doing was not the center of the scene anymore. And then it changed again, when Swans started, along with a whole new batch of bands that started in the 80s…

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RGO:  I’ve read that the No Wave had a direct relationship to the international economical crisis that was going on at the time. Right now we have another one going on, and I think that there’s a link between the visceral quality in music and worldwide economical crisis, what do you think?

Mark: I think that the crisis makes you rely on yourself more, maybe. I think that New York at that time as a poor city, and that was cool, because we could live on very little. And we felt very free; in that sense, there were no economical pressures on us. That’s very different from now. But I think that what is really repeating itself from that scene is the idea to do it yourself. Do things yourself. You want to start a band, start a band.

Peter: These things are cyclical, just like economy. When the economy is stronger and there’s a bigger middle class over arching structure… art is more about pushing against that, whereas economic crisis and other kind of crisis really break down routine and structure, and that uncertainty gives birth to things that aren’t just a reaction.

Jarboe: More creative.

Peter: Yeah.

Jarboe: I didn’t see this at all. (laughs) The economy had nothing to do with my going to New York, it was purely for the art. I had a collection of music that was three thousand albums and there I heard several seminal bands such as Einstürzende NeubautenSwans and White House. And I felt that these bands were creating a sound that I had not heard before, something very different. And I was very attracted to what I saw, especially the muscular aspect of Swans.

At the time I was a bodybuilder and a Bondi boxer and I was a powerhouse, and so I was attracted to the physicality of the music; I lifted weights to the “Filth” album. Swans were doing something that nobody was doing, and the slowness and the power and the dirt is what I responded to, and that’s what I had to be part of. For me it was purely the artistic aspect of what they were doing, it had nothing to do with anything else. And I think Michael was looking for creating a sound that was groundbreaking and different. Swans were outsiders, they were never part of the post-No Wave. We were never part of any scene at all in New York City. Swans have always been outsiders, they’re still outsiders. They have influenced a lot of other groups but they’re not part of any scene or any sound, they’re isolationists. To me, it was really about hearing something that got my attention and interested me once again in doing music.

Living in New York was great; we lived in a rear store from 93 Avenue B, but the price we paid for living there, cheaply as it were, is that we took our life in our hands every time we left the door.

Mark: Yeah.

Jarboe:  We had a solid steel door with a police lock and all kinds of deadbolt locks, we had a sign that said “Death outside, lock door” and every day we stepped over heroin addicts’ needles and puddles of urine, it was a very nasty neighborhood with cracked houses and burned up buildings.

RGO: So you did notice all this poverty, even if it didn’t have anything to do with the reason you moved to New York.

Jarboe: Well, the artists were in the East Village because they could afford it, and the economic aspect of it was that they were all there, hence it was the part of Manhattan where you took your life in your hands. When I moved to New York, taxi cabs would not come to Avenue A. So we were on B. (laughs) Michael told me one time: “Kid, when you leave the door, take it right; because if you take it left towards C, we will never see you again“.

But what got me up there and made me leave my husband and my mother and my life behind was their sound. Their sound just set me on fire. And I did everything in the world: I was a roadie, I carried their gear, I chipped press kits with the ice and snow and I worked really hard to work up to my audition. I bought a bass, then Michael changed it to be a sampler; I jumped through every hoop out of the sign and then when I joined, they were like “OK, so now that you’re one of us, you carry your own gear“. I got tough. There’s no lady bill going on there, you’re one of the guys. And that changed me forever.

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RGO: How was your Rite of Passage, if I may ask?

Jarboe: Well, they were loud. We got a disciplinary measure because in rehearsal we were at the violent level of a jet aircraft taking off.

Mark: Swans was the loudest band I ever heard.

Jarboe: When I played through the first song in the garage, it blew them away. I was louder than they were and Norman was like “Oh!“. So afterwards I left and they voted…

RGO: …and you were in! (laughs)

Jarboe: Yeah, thumbs up. Because I had to be tough, you know? Be strong, be hard, flex you muscles; to quote Michael Gira. It was exhilarating but, again, I want to say that all this prefacing with something: I was coming up there from privilege, I was coming up there from American marriage to a corporate man, a beautiful condominium, a box set of Alice Tully Hall with every opera and ballet. I came from a privileged situation going into the slums of that scene. So it’s different from somebody that didn’t come from that situation. And having said that, Michael also came from that situation: he came from privilege, he moved to New York and he was an artist, he graduated from art. And a lot of people that go into art do it because they can afford it; they are in a situation where they can study art instead of, I don’t know, plumbing. So he was willing to go up there and do demolition work and construction work; hard manual labor to be an artist in the East Village. As were they all. Kim (Gordon), Thurston (Moore), all of them. That’s what I saw, like “all these guys have art degrees but they’re up here sacrificing themselves for their art“.

Mark: Part of that whole explosion in the seventies and the eighties was happening because New York was cheap and it was a magnet. All these people that were going to these art colleges that started in the sixties and the seventies emptied out into New York. All the ones who were strong enough to…

Jarboe: …to take it! To take a step into the situation up there, which was brutal.

Mark: Yeah, that’s what caused so much activity up there.

Jarboe: That’s very true.

Peter: It’s almost like Siddhartha, when you see the world outside, and the art, or the vision of it, calling and you decide to leave it all behind. And no matter where you come from, it’s always going to change your identity, it’s going to change the way you see the world, and your values are going to change once you take that step.

RGO: Did you ever have anything similar in Norway, maybe during the Black Metal era?

Peter:  Well, I was already in the US when that really started happening; Mayhem started around the time that I left. So there were the first seeds of that. At that time, Norway was mostly a middle class society and they were rebelling against that, they were pushing against a very safe, a very comfortable way of life. They created a lot of chaos for themselves.

RGO: We noticed!

Peter: In a lot of ways, it’s almost like the strains of the original mythology creeping back through their psyches into their art and into their actions. Like something that has been buried for a long time and out it comes. During that original blast, I got in touch with a lot of those people, and they were surprised I could write them in Norwegian. The sound of it was raw and really primitive, almost like the old Robert Johnson blues recordings and had a lot of that similar kind of spirit to it but, at the same time, what they were playing was pretty avant-garde; the structure of the songs and the changes and everything, it had something that really interested me.

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David: Jarboe, how do you remember your collaboration with Neurosis, and what did you learn from each other?

Jarboe: We knew of each other before we finally met in person, and when we did it was just a lovefest, it was like we were brothers. We instantly understood each other and we were writing for years – because they were on the road all the time – to make this happen, so it was just a matter of them getting out of the road to do it. I would say that, right now, other than the “new” Swans, Neurosis is the only band where I feel like I’m me; I felt like I was home when I performed with them. They’re not traditionally Metal, they’re doing orchestrated wall of sound with the visceral quality of Metal, in the same way that Swans always did.

I gave my heart to that; the recordings that we did, I wrote from my personal experience: a song about my mother, a song about my father’s surgery on a brain tumor, I wrote about my life, my real life. And so, it was completely genuine, when we performed, because it was coming from a place of tremendous integrity, I guess; no artifice at all. I love performing with them as well. In fact, when I stepped onto the stage and I felt that electricity shooting through my body; that’s what got me interested in Rock music again, in doing a more Metal-oriented Rock music.

Member of the audience: Mark, in the recording of “No New York“, did you work with Brian Eno at all?

Mark: Yeah.

Member of the audience: Because I always thought it was a very strange combination: the lo-fi New York scene with his perfectionism.

Mark: Well, he was someone who had some kind of antenna for things that were groundbreaking somehow, and that would have repercussion in the future. When he came to see us, he was living in the city at the time. We was looking around, and I don’t know how he came upon us, but he did.

Member of the audience: He approached you.

Mark: Yeah. He approached us. We knew who he was. (smiles) He were a little shocked but we actually got along really well; we had a lot in common, we had some other interests like ethnic music, for example. African music and things like that were also a big influence on Mars. During the recording, he basically left us alone; he wanted to record us the way we were.

Member of the audience: But he is a technical perfectionist…

Mark: Yeah, he is, but he wasn’t with us. He didn’t want to interfere. He wanted to do it like it was. Some of the bands were less happy than others, but we were pretty happy with how it came out.

Member of the audience: But the collaboration didn’t extend any further.

Mark: No, no. We stayed in touch, I mean, for as long as he was in the city we were seeing each other but musically speaking, no; it was just for the recording and mixing of the record.

RGO: I guess everyone wants to hear some music now, so thank you so much for this delightful conversation; Mark, Jarboe, Peter and David.

Everyone: Thank you.

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Pictures by Ideophony. Read the full report of the event on Mondo Sonoro.

Join the Cvlt & Obey the Sacred Noise

Meet JARBOE!

[Spanish version below]

Do you want to meet JarboeObsidian Kingdom and Mark Cunningham in flesh and blood?

Then come early to the first RITUAL CVLT  party because we will be holding a round table in which you will be able to speak to the artists before the show!

With the exclusive participation of Mondo Sonoro.

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¿Quieres conocer a Jarboe, a Obsidian Kingdom y a Mark Cunningham en carne y hueso?

¡Pues ven pronto a la primera fiesta RITUAL CVLT porque vamos a celebrar una mesa redonda en la que podrás hablar con los artistas antes del concierto!

Con la participación exclusiva de Mondo Sonoro.