Martin Oldgoth Interview: by Kris Prudhomme
- Hello again Martin, been a number of years since the last interview, what all have you been up to?
Wow, Lots of things, I still run events at Whitby Goth Weekend (UK), although these days I’m more involved in the club side of things, overseeing three Nights there and running two of them. On top of that I’ve been to Germany, Prague and I’m now getting ready for a few dates in the US on the Near Dark Tour with The Last Cry and Strap on Halo.
- To all the young bats out there, Martin’s been in the goth scene since its inception at the beginning of the 80’s and has seen the trends come and go, Martin, it’s well known that you don’t care for the influx of so called new Goth acts that are more Industrial or EBM or whatever aggro-terror-blah blah blah (insert pre-fix here) styles of music that have been invading clubs in opposition to actual Goth Rock and related styles. You’ve also said that perhaps it could be divided into two camps these days but honestly it’s not solving the problem is it by offering small concessions to people who are too lazy to do their research on the music and subculture, what have you seen as of late that indicates either the problem is getting better, worse, or people are just becoming more willfully ignorant?
I think in the UK things have seen a definite split and there are far more clubs now catering for a more purer goth/dark indie kind of feel, mostly in larger cities of course but it’s a healthy start and has been building for a few years now, I co run a night in London called Propagation which plays only new music and tracks from artists which have influenced the newer bands, and there are others similar to this. It’s out there is people are willing to just look beyond what’s thrown at them in their local club, my radio station was started for the single purpose of getting a chance to play music that, if it gets played at all, is in the first half hour of a club when nobody is there. I’m one of several DJ’s out there now putting this out there, all people have to do is listen.
- I understand that you are hard at work on the Near Dark North American Tour and will have several high profile California dates, no surprise as seeing that particular state is always churning quality goth and deathrock but what of middle America where a lot of kids are struggling to get their own goth scenes started?
Well, were starting in Austin, TX, and working our way across to California, it’ll be interesting since a lot of the playlists I see from some of the places we’re going lean heavily on the industrial, having myself and Augustine Strange backing up two bands that are far from this will open a few eyes I hope. I’m proud of this line up, The Last Cry are easily one the finest bands we have in the UK right now, their stage show is stunning, just pure, raw, emotion and I think they’re going to make a lot of new fans. Strap on Halo I feel are one of the better US bands too, managing to take that (and I hate this phrase), ‘traditional’ gothic sound but make it their on. Add the two DJ’s to the mix and I think this is going to be very special.
- I’ve heard you spin a good deal of new deathrock coming out of the west coast and goth rock in the UK and Europe but what do you think of some of the dark punk acts coming out of the east coast such as Lost Tribe and Anasazi? It’s a faster more aggressive sound but still has distinctly post punk roots fused with styles such as hardcore punk or even d-beat, which is a British invention.
Personalty I find it interesting, but its not really my kind of thing, when the goth scene came out of the punk scene over here it kind of left that style behind, in fact some have said that it was because of the harder, thrashier, sounds, that the goth scene was probably born, with bands yearning for something more melodic but still with that dark aesthetic.
- One problem that is difficult to address in the scene with bands is that a lot of bands these days seem to think that they deserve to be pampered or treated like rockstars even if they are just playing small venues and bars and may have been doing so for years now, not saying it applies to all, there are some very humble and honest hard working musicians in the goth scene today but the more obnoxious ones seem to cast a bad light upon the good ones, do you think it’s important to show some humility and be glad that they can get gigs at all considering goth is not a mainstream style and it’s twice as difficult because of the stigma attached to the genre by media misconceptions?
Not saying some won’t make it but you have to admit some acts do shows for a few years and think they’re the Cure, haha
It’s tricky, and this applies to DJ’s too, if you let yourself get walked on then it’ll happen again, it’s hard to turn down work and things that may seem promotion for what you do, but I feel you have a have a sense of self worth in order to get somewhere. Of course there are those that will play the part of superstar but in the end if you’ve not got the goods to back it up you won’t last long. If you’ve got it, then I see nothing wrong in knowing your worth, as long as you have sense of humility in doing so. Thankfully in a scene that has it’s fair share of drama, the ones remaining calm and knowing they can ride it out, are the ones getting somewhere. State you case, lay your cards on the table, and prove it… Or fade away.
- Out of the new promoters and DJ’s coming up, what techniques and tactics have you seen that could be very important to take note of for use? Times change and sometimes they way you have to run things changes with it so naturally I would think it would be important to evolve and stay ahead of the game.
I think things have always been the same in that respect, it’s a matter of being out there, being seen, and not just relying on a Facebook event to get people to your show. You have to work hard to get noticed and use what tools you can to do so., but never just assume that because you are doing something, people will turn up.
- I remember talking to Tony X out of Los Angeles one time and we had noticed that it seems that anything goth related comes in waves with different characteristics each time, for example first there was the deathrock revival which had a higher camp element and in Europe this especially seemed true with bands like New Days Delay and 26 Tears versus in the U.S. you had bands like All Gone Dead with camp, but subtle 1984 references and Antiworld with a cartoonish image to them. Later on there was a next wave which almost sounded positively indie rock with post punk influences and now it’s gone back to mixing with anarcho punk and the original batcave era sound, what observations did you first make when witnessing this phenomena? I imagine it must have seemed a little odd for a time until could figure out who was going to stick around and who folded once the buzz died.
The scene has gone round in circles for years now, there’s always been things coming along to drag people off, in the UK we had the more indie scene, then the crusties, the metallers, the industrial crowd, the deathrock fad, but at the heart of it there’s always been a dark streak set in the early 80’s, that no mans land where the bands came from prior to the sell out in the late eighties, and we’ll always return to that when things go tits up. Right now there’s a huge ‘indie’ feel where bands are taking influences from Joy Division, Early Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen, right back to the late seventies punk scene, even the Velvet Underground, and bands are doing great stuff with it, and if we can only hold on to it this time then I think the scene will do just fine.
- I’ve noticed out of the new wave of British goth rock, bands like Grooving in Green do feature some politics in their music, which isn’t all that common in goth rock, deathrock maybe. Does it add a bit more substance to the music than wanting to follow the usual clichés such as naming a song after a woman, referencing graveyards, sex, sleaze (not that there’s anything wrong with those subjects haha)? I know its all punk in being able to talk about whatever you feel like but it does give the lyrics more teeth at times.
I think it may be a UK thing, our underground scene has always been very political, even if you take bands like Angels of Liberty who on the face of it are an unashamed Sisters style band, their songs are very politically minded. These bands have always done well here, we’ve got a rich history of this, our youth culture has always been politically minded, and everyone likes and angry song right? 🙂
- I see you’re still active as ever with Nostalgia and Whitby, what new things can we expect to see out of the events you put on and work with for this year?
We’re just started a brand new night called ‘Sanctuary’ which is now the ‘warm up’ night for the main event, we host two bands and all of the profit goes to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, to help with their ongoing struggle to have the hate crime laws amended to include subcultures’. Nostalgia is no longer going to be run at WGW, but is being replaced with Restoration, a night with the same music policy, but also including some of the earlier new wave and new romantic bands from our past, imagine a ‘proper’ goth club with a touch of the ‘Blitz’ about it, that’s what we’re aiming for. The next appearance for Nostalgia (at the moment) will be at Sacrosanct, a nineties festival which returned last year, and we hope to have other festivals lined up soon, we’re taking the club on the road as it were..
- Lastly and to wrap things up, any words you have for the young goths who feel that the older generation won’t give them a crack at things? I’ve been talking to a lot of bats around my age and younger and I think they’re all beginning to be demoralized a bit… sadly.
It’s hard, we’ve all been there, The best advice is to take it when offered, and learn. I used to think I knew everything, and every day I find out I don’t, even now. Do something for the scene, not for yourself, and you’ll earn a lot more respect and help that way than by demanding it, we may be old and grumpy, but we’re watching and learning!