Pretentious Moi? Interview by Kris Prudhomme 

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logo by Taya Uddin

  • Ok for starters, you guys mind telling us a bit about yourselves for the Americans reading this?

C: My name is Christian, I live in South London and I play most of the guitar parts that involve twiddling and switching.

M: My name is Matt, I also live in South London. I play most of the guitar parts that involve power chords and jumping about.

T: My name is Tim, I’m the singer/writer, I live in North London and believe there to be dragons in south London, so I don’t go there often.

  • Alright, with introductions out of the way, in a lot of the bands written material, what themes do you prefer to explore as a group? Goth Rock is usually stereotyped as having to stick to love, sex, death, mysticism etc. But like any form of music you can sing about whatever the hell you want, you guys just follow what comes natural topic wise or is there some pre-meditation?

M: Tim writes the lyrics, so only he can truly tell you what they are about. From the hints he’s given us they seem to be about Victorians, semi-domestic animals, HP Lovecraft stories, or ancient religions and philosophies. Embers seem to feature a lot too. They do in my mind anyway.

T: I’m sure I don’t mention embers all that often…ok, maybe once. 

I try to write lyrics which can be read at different levels. So some of the songs may have different intertwined themes. Usually, there’s an ‘on the face of it’ obvious gothic metaphor – Goth is great for having a rich and diverse metaphorical language available to it, so it would be wrong not to take advantage of it.

Then there’s whatever ideas it’s trying to convey/explore – whether that’s relationships, perception, religion, the passage of time (my pet obsession) etc – all of which are themes we keep coming back to. 

Then there’s another thread which is based upon whatever random event or idea inspired the song in the first place, it’s usually not very explicit in the lyrics – that’s what the song means to me. In about half of the songs, the real subject is way off what you might expect on first listen, sometimes the titles give a hint.

I don’t generally explain that thread to people, as I think it’s better not interfere with people’s interpretation, I’m usually deliberately vague so as to be open to other people’s meaning – but the down-side to this is sometimes the lyrics come out as being a bit too fuzzy, or just a bit odd.

  • Seeing as the UK scene is picking up a bit of speed again and events like Whitby Gothic Weekend are going strong plus Slimelight and DJ Martin Oldgoth’s events are doing very well, has this been a lot of help in terms of having places to play in your own country with crowds that will appreciate the music more?

T: The UK scene has always ebbed and flowed. Some parts of the UK are no longer as goth-tastic as they used to be, while others are more active than they have ever been.

The great strength in the U.K. scene is that the cities are very close together – so if there’s nothing going on in your town on a Friday night – chances are there will be a gig or club in one of the other nearby towns. The goth scene here is very interconnected, and that’s helped greatly by the big events, such as Whitby, which bring everyone together, and bands/promoters and DJs who also travel and raise awareness of what’s going on. Of course the ability nowadays to advertise events quickly online helps a lot too.

From our point of view, we don’t tend to play all that often in the UK – just so that when we do, it’s a bit more of an event.

  • It seems now that a lot of bands are more or less having to fill the roles of promoters, bookers, agents and negotiators just like back in the old days, do you guys try to divvy out the work evenly so everyone throws in on responsibilities or is it a situation where perhaps just one or two of you takes care of the business dealings and the others focus on preparing for the live shows?

T: That’s true – the one thing they don’t tell you about when you’re in a band is the admin. It really does take an awful lot of time, and can seem a bit of a thankless task sometimes. I feel even sorrier for promoters – who usually have to take a financial risk on top of everything else. 

In our case – We all take quite an active role; we’ve all been in the scene and in bands for years, so we all have a lot of contacts and connections. We all get approached by people with opportunities, and then generally whoever is closest to the contact takes care of most of the communication and so-on – but we all work together on bringing our evil schemes into nightmarish reality.

C: Tim is usually the first point on contact, but any of us can scour and organize a gig if we have the contacts. Matt sorted out one in Italy recently (man of the match!), Rachel is doing one in Leeds. My contribution so far has been a 10 minute acoustic set for Oxjam, but I’ll bag us the O2 arena one day!

M: Tim takes care of most of this. Then once a gig is booked he shines a giant light into the sky as a sign for the rest of us to form up and get ready for action. It’s sort of a cross between the Bat-Signal and the Sword of Omens, only with a peacock.

  • Alright, for the name of the band and to ask a stereotypical fan question, where did the name come from? First guess would be it’s a mocking reference to goth’s being stereotyped as pretentious or arrogant, which might as well be its own cultural meme in this age.

T: It is indeed a raised eyebrow to how Goths are caricatured.

It’s also the shortest joke in the English language, which is perhaps fitting.

M: Watch an episode of the British Sitcom ‘Fawlty Towers’ called ‘The Psychiatrist’. All will be revealed. But you’re right, the mocking reference to the Goth stereotype is one of the reasons we like it. We Goths can sometimes take ourselves a bit too seriously. It helps to keep a sense of humour and perspective.

  • Given that the UK rock scene has historically favored a more melodic approach to rock n roll and it’s offshoots, do you guys still take a lot of influence from American goth, punk, rock n roll, indie, etc which is a bit more ragged and stripped down?

T: In those terms, our music is very much of the British school. There is a bit of influence from the German bands of the mid 1990’s which were a bit less twiddly, and a bit more rock’n’roll – at least musically. 

Whilst I wouldn’t cite any of the American bands as a direct influence, I think there is one aspect in which we are more closely aligned with American bands – and that’s in our use of synths, which a lot of uk trad goth bands avoid in all but the most extreme circumstances. I’m a synth player originally, so I just cant quite leave them alone!

  • Pet peeves, everyone’s got them and when dealing with any music scene and its participants, whats a few things you feel need to be addressed that maybe even those who deny it need to realize? Truth hurts so don’t be afraid to let it rip guys

T: Aah – I’ve been doing this long enough to know that that would be tempting fate; all truths come back to nest on your doorstep eventually.

C: In the UK, it’s mainly about remuneration. As a band, some organizers assume that you’d be going to their wonderful festival anyway, so they don’t feel the need to pay for performer’s accommodation or transport costs. It doesn’t happen so much nowadays in London, but there was a period when I encountered many members of venue crew that should have been fired years ago. They were so apathetic to every aspect of their work. It was a total contrast to the staff I’d met in the US, who had a really positive ‘can-do’ attitude. They knew their venue, they knew their kit and wished you a good show. There was even the house security guy at a venue in DC, who became our personal bodyguard for the night (not that we were expecting any trouble), and they had another guy whose job it was to look after our rider and make sure nobody stole it! We couldn’t stop grinning, it made you feel special.

M: We could be here all night… and I wouldn’t have many friends left! If I think something needs to be said I’ll take it up with the people involved, not publish it in an interview. Sorry folks, I won’t be starting any drama here!

  • Does the political climate in Britain right now ever affect how you have to conduct matters as a band or socially? I heard about the attacks on subcultural groups from chavs and the like and for a while it looked like it was getting out of control.

C: There were several high profile incidents a few years ago that the media leapt upon to highlight binge drinking and gang culture, most notably the awful killing of Sophie Lancaster. It finally became clear to the masses that involvement in alternative culture was never a problem, it was the sullen and directionless mainstream youth that were fucked. We’re all adults with respectable day jobs but some of us work with or have kids of our own, so the effect of things like online bullying have certainly entered my consciousness in recent years.

M: I’ve never felt it affects me directly. One of the good things about living in London is that it is so diverse and cosmopolitan that you can be alternative and not get too much grief – as long as you don’t end up in one of the rougher neighbourhoods. But if you’re further away from the big city centres people can be more small minded and I would probably be careful if I was walking around at night in full make-up and goth clothing. I think it’s always been that way though, that’s not particularly to do with the current political climate.

T: The quality of British music has traditionally been inversely proportional to the quality of the government. The more there is to rail against the better the songs, as was the case with the first wave of uk goth in the 80’s – When the current government got voted in a common remark in the scene was – ‘oh bollocks… but at least we’ll get some good tunes’

There have in recent years been some terrible attacks on members of subculture and minority groups in the UK; though I would not connect them with the politics of the age. I’d say that sort of intolerance has always existed, and whilst I can only really speak from personal experience I remember the climate of antagonism towards subcultures was much worse when I was a teenager, so I’d hope that such attacks are thankfully less common and better reported. 

I think that on the whole, we live in a society more tolerant of its periphery, At the same time, many of the things that identified you as a goth or punk have been normalized or even adopted by mainstream society, fortunately the scene is forever reinventing itself, so I hope it’ll remain challenging.

  • Do you have any plans to start traveling abroad to perhaps the U.S. or Latin America? A lot of people in the American scenes are dying for some new bands to come over, it’s been rather stagnant in the last decade or so apart from some of the old stalwarts rolling through for anniversary shows.

C: I’d love to do some gigs in Latin America, that would certainly be something new. Hopefully the cost and administration would not be totally prohibitive? If you know of anyone, please put us in contact!

T: Most of the gigs we do are outside the UK – though mainly in Europe. We were hoping to do a U.S. tour this year, but we have put that on hold since we are lucky enough to be playing Convergence in Chicago this year. We are really looking forward it. Christian and I played at the tenth one some while ago now – and I think we’ve just about recovered! We’d love get over to the states more often.

  • To wrap things up , anything else you guys would like to say or feel free to plug any new albums or important news.

T: Only that it’s be great to see folk in Chicago, in the meantime-  I’m going through a bit of a writing frenzy at the moment, so expect an album in…hmm, cant be too sure, but we will be releasing something in the fairly near future.

Thanks again!

Our pleasure!