Arrangement for the interview and addendum by DJ Jason
- Ok to start off as I always do, how are you today Chris? I see that up to late of last year you were busy with re-issues and box sets of the band’s music, what’s on tap for the future?
As of today, I’m going quite well. Considering a few health set backs over the last year or so, still managed to keep the IKON train going. Since 2011, I decided to re-issue our complete back catalogue, starting from the beginning, cleaning them up, putting material from the areas all together, and presenting them in special packaging. I see it as a last chance, before the death of CDs. Also, issuing the albums on LP vinyl, has been an important “dream come true for me”.
- I had to do a double take but I see that you have Clifford Ennis from Subterfuge back on guitar duties, did you contact you about joining the band again or because he was already a former member was it just a matter of phoning him and seeing if he wanted take part? I imagine with Subterfuge reforming it must add more strain to your work load having to juggle his, yours and others separate schedules for practice and touring.
I’ve always been friends with Clifford, and of course we were very disappointed when he left IKON back in 2006. He wasn’t interested in traveling and committing to it, which I totally understand. Back in 2010, we got offered to support HIM, when I had pretty much decided to never play live again after the 2009 tour of Europe. I wanted to get the best line-up I could, so I asked Clifford, who agreed and also David Burns who hadn’t played drums with us since 2003. We have the same line up for over 5 years now, which I’m extremely happy about. I’m not sure what he’s doing on the Subterfuge front, he’s been wanting to do an album for 21 years, lol….
- It’s been stated in the band’s biography that though you were like most goth acts in the beginning sound wise with the post punk roots laid bare, you received some mixed attention when it came to implementing electronics in the music which can be viewed as a taboo. However, when you think about it none of the original goth acts actually sounded the same as seeing besides the acts coming out of the punk scene, you had artists who didn’t mind toying with elements of synth, early industrial elements, and noise ala the Virgin Prunes and Alien Sex Fiend. Were you at the point where some were telling you that it’s breaking the rules or did you just choose to keep steam rolling through any initial criticisms and just do your own thing?
The thing with IKON, I’ve always been in my own World, and written songs that I would want to hear. I have such a diverse amount of influences, they all come through from song to song, album to album. When we started back in 1988, we just loved playing bands like Joy Division, Killing Joke etc, songs whilst we were learning how to play. Then we got stuck with the Joy Division tag, which annoyed me in the end. As a human, I wanted to move forward, experiment, and some things work, whilst others don’t. I don’t tend to read what people think about IKON anymore, as if they don’t like it, I totally understand that, we are not a traditional sounding “goth” band, more of a rock band, combining quite a lot of different elements from everything inspiring in life, not just music.
- Moving on, your latest album, “Everyone, Everywhere, Everything Ends” is out now and you already have a great new single with it as well, “I Burn For You”. How long did it take you to get the new album ready and was it all your bandmates on this one or did you have guests sit in for a few tracks?
‘I Burn For You’ was the first single from the album, and I wanted to release something that was really from the heart and soul, how I felt at the time. It’s the complete opposite of a standard IKON single, we normally release up-tempo tracks that can be played in clubs. I felt like I was starting to bang my head against the wall the past few years, so this was going back to basics. The album was written over a period of about 4 years, and I narrowed it down to 14 tracks by September 2013, that we worked on and the concept fell into place. It was the first time in many years, that we were all in the studio together, and put the songs down as a full band. I wanted to keep it reasonably raw and everyone added their own talents to it, which made this album very different than the previous IKON albums.
- You were on the Metropolis label at one point, given the rise and fall of so many indie labels in this day and age, how was that experience for you and the band?
Ah, I don’t think anyone made the most out of the opportunity of us being on Metropolis. When they signed us back in 1997, we were virtually falling apart, not knowing what to do, when we should’ve been out touring Europe and the USA, supporting those first two albums. Living in Australia has it drawbacks, and we were limited with what we could do. Making an album was easy, then what? We hardly played live here and the frustration set in all of us. By the time ‘This Quiet Earth’ came out in 1988, I was singing, didn’t want to play live and had no idea what direction to take the band next.
- I have to ask since so many bands have tried to combat this issue before, what’s it like for you in this era with tight security at entry to every country in the world to try and have a peaceful landing so you can get onto business without the hassle? I know Alien Sex Fiend had to cancel their U.S. dates a few years ago because of visa issues which were never resolved. Plus with the amount of paperwork it takes as a touring band just to get past the red tape, it must be a migraine sometimes.
That’s probably the main reason we never toured the USA, work visas etc, which is a big shame. That was the reason we didn’t go into the U.K very often too. Luckily enough we haven’t had any problems over the years, apart from going to New Zealand once, which was just insane when we don’t require anything to play/work there. Europe is so relaxed, that we even walked out of customs one day, without realizing that our instruments were still at the baggage collection, and had to ask how we can get back in.
- Every band has its own flavorings that are derivative of the country they are from, what characteristics do you think IKON carries over from the Australian post punk/goth music scene that makes it a bit different than say British acts or American acts? I know in the U.S. a more aggressive sound with almost metallic guitar work is favored with deathrock acts and in Britain a greater focus is on melody and esoteric themes.
Australia did tend to have more of a punk hardcore scene than postpunk, gothic. Goes back to the bands that we loved and wanting to incorporate that in one way or another into our sound. In the end, it just came naturally and IKON developed it’s own sound. I was always more of a fan of layering sounds and melodies, esoteric themes, which was more of a UK influence.
- Getting back to touring, it’s always different being in a van with your band mates for days on end versus just seeing them on practice days, how do you work out balancing each other’s personalities for the sake of peace? I know sometimes even the best of friends in a band can be at each other’s throats if cooped up for too long on the road.
Being on the road for 2-3 weeks, is hard work for everyone. You can get on each other’s nerves, no doubt about that. But, in the end, everyone is aware, you travel overseas, there is a job to do. Looking back, I wish I had relaxed a bit more, and had more fun, but a lot of the pressure did fall on my shoulders, so I had to keep myself pretty much in check all the time.
- To begin wrapping things up, do you have any other projects you are working on right now that’d you would like to shed light on?
The third single from ‘Everyone, Everything Everywhere Ends’ ‘Blood of Love’, will be out by the end of this month, which is one of the more mellow tracks from the album. There will be one more single to go, before I go back to the job of re-issuing the back catalogue. I’m up to ‘On the Edge of Forever’, originally released in 2001, and hope to have that out in July. I’m doing a new project called IN LOVING MEMORY, which is with my friend Karina Eames, who first appeared on the new album, as guest vocalist on 3 tracks. This is more of a folky project, concentrating on dark Australian history from the Victorian era. Our first single should be about within the next couple of months.
- Lastly, any parting words for fans out there?
We are lucky to have a very loyal fanbase, which has continued to support us over the last 20 plus years around the World. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to continue doing things the way we wanted.
Since this interview was originally conducted in 2015, this addendum was asked for and added in by the editor (September 22nd, 2016).
- What is IKON currently doing?
We have just re-released ‘Psychic Vampire’ as a 7” single, to coincide with a best of 2CD titled ‘Like Sands Through the Hourglass’ 1991-2016, to celebrate 25 years of IKON. This will be released on October 31, 2016. I picked my favorite songs to create a product, which I hope will introduce the band to a new generation of dark music lovers. There are some new mixes done of certain songs, especially from the early years that I wasn’t overly happy with. There will be one more re-issue, our first recordings from 1992, all remixed and restored ‘As Time Goes By’ which will have a DVD to accompany it of unreleased video material from 1991-1993. Then it’s time to move to a new album due out just in time for WGT 2017. This we are in the process of writing as we speak, whilst we are rehearsing for some upcoming shows in Australia over the coming months.
Ikon’s Official Website with links to music, merchandise and much more