Announcing a new blog: The Death Talks

We are all going to die. So, what do we do about that?

I want to talk about these things. So I started a new blog. It’s called, simply, The Death Talks.

It’s for long conversations with interesting people with something to say about death and dying, the afterlife, spirituality, grief, and more. They will often be artists, whose work touches on these themes. They will all be humans, who have agreed to share their thoughts with me. I hope you will follow me over there as we face these big questions together.

The first post is an interview with Sarah Legault. I don’t really want to explain it away too much. Except to say I’m really excited about this new project, and that there is much more to come…

Death Talks 1

New Music Writing: DFA and David J

I have been remiss. In posting my music writing here. Of course I want you to read it, but it’s like a hamster wheel sometimes, running around just getting assignments done…that I forget. Forgive me. I shall be better. Starting with these two articles, recently published, of which I am proud.

Death From AboDFA Exclaimve 1979: Friends Fatale. Exclaim! Magazine, September 2014
This was my second time interviewing Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger. Way back in 2004 I talked to them for a magazine called Gasoline, which was put out by the folks behind the Bovine Sex Club. It wasn’t a great interview. Not their fault-mine. I remember feeling unprepared, and blindsided a bit by their interview tactic, which was to act like they didn’t give a shit about being interviewed. Not surprisingly perhaps, my story wasn’t great. I somehow thought it important to talk about their height (“they’re as loud as they are all tall!” or some such ridiculousness.) But I’ve always really dug their music, thought they were underrated in terms our country’s music history (I would argue they had as much influence on the world as any Canadian rock band since, oh I don’t know, Loverboy) and have been as excited as anyone to hear their first record in 10 years, The Physical World. This time, the interview went quite smoothly. We talked about their break-up, their make-up, and why they turned down an offer to open for Daft Punk on that pyramid tour. This is my second feature article for Exclaim! It appears in print in the September issue (on streets now) and on-line at Exclaim.ca. They’re also touring, and you should go. Bring earplugs.

Aux34_DavidJTeaserDavid J, Auxiliary Magazine, June/July 2014
When I’m asked to interview a member of Bauhaus, the answer is always yes. This is for Auxliary, a high-quality goth fashion and lifestyle magazine out of, of all places, Buffalo. I’ve spoken to David J before, and he’s always been kind. He even gave me a lovely blurb for Encyclopedia Gothica. He has a new solo album out, inspired by and dedicated to the many female muses in his life. I talked to him about that, as well as his upcoming memoir. He then supplied us with a promo photo of him looking rather cool, with a naked lady. The article is not available on-line but you can purchase a digital download or printed magazine from the Auxiliary shoppe.

Coming soon: an interview with Anne Rice for Rue Morgue Magazine and Fucked Up for SOCAN’s Words and Music magazine. 

Ogre of Skinny Puppy: on Guantanamo, Torture and Music as a Weapon

“Skinny Puppy’s music used to torture prisoners.” This news has been going around my social media all week since Cevin Key told the Phoenix New-Times about how the band wanted to invoice the US government for the use of their music at Guantanamo. Now, if you read Cevin’s whole interview it’s not like the band mailed Obama a bill. But it’s the kind outrageous, touchy situation that makes for good headlines so it’s been widely reported and retweeted. (By no less than the UK’s Independent, who, sadly, referred to the industrial icons as a “metal” band.)

I actually wrote about this last year, when I interviewed Ogre about the then-new album Weapons for Rue Morgue. Since RM doesn’t put their articles on-line, you’ll have to read it the olde-fashioned way, in a back-issue.  But in the interest of adding more first-person information to this interesting story, I present here excerpts of my conversation with Ogre about the situation.  Skinny Puppy has always been vocal about social justice issues in their music and interview. (I went vegetarian as a teen in large part because of VIVIsectVI and “Testure.” ) I’m thrilled that the band continues to exist/record/tour, and talk about the things that bug them, from animal welfare to Fukushima fall-out, to gun control and Guantanamo Bay. Music is a weapon, indeed.

Ogre from Skinny Puppy,  April 2013:

The actual concept for Weapon came about on the Ohgr tour in 2011, based on meeting a Skinny Puppy fan who ended up being a guard in Guantanamo. He went from being Military Police to a two-week training to getting shipped over to Guantanamo to guard prisoners, high-risk prisoners. There, he heard of Skinny Puppy being used no less than 4 times to torture people. So the original idea, based on our interviews with him, was to do an album to torture people by. To make our album into a weapon.

At that time the Ohgr tour manager—who was a Renaissance Woman who is also a carny on the side— had the idea to get some of these sideshow people she knows and do interrogations on stage. But that concept got really bloated and obtuse.

When we were originally conceiving the Weapon record, I considered having bits and pieces in the native language of whoever was being tortured—Pashtun or whatever—of reassuring messages, saying things like “Even though this music sounds horrible and it’s being used to torture you, please know that in this country it’s used to fight the very thing that is torturing you right now.” Calming mantras. We were going to do that.

So one idea with Weapon is to actually do Freedom of Information requests about the music for torture, and do interviews. We were going to get information on the frequencies used, as much as we could compile, and based on that also give an instruction manual. But for now we’re not doing that.

The project was about going as far as we could, then to present to the US government, or whoever we could find that was responsible for torturing people with our music, an actual invoice for what they owe us for using our music.  We would make the cover art the invoice. The idea of a free society to me, is not one that tortures people. I can’t live with that, and not call it out.

Weapon

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with a Vampire Author

The only thing I like as much as writing about vampires is talking about vampires. So I’ve been enjoying doing interviews to promote my new book, How to Kill A Vampire. And I especially enjoyed this interview with Richard Crouse. Richard is a well-known and highly respected film critic here in Canada and it felt like a life’s to-do checked off to appear on his radio show. He has kindly uploaded our chat for your listening pleasure.