Interview With Terminal Gods by Kris Prudhomme
~Accommodations and scheduling for the Interview created by DJ Jason~
- Hello guys! Would you mind starting off by introducing yourselves to the readers?
I’m Robert Maisey, lead guitarist from Terminal Gods. I live with Josh, our rhythm guitarist, in a flat above a chip shop in North London. My favourite drink is vodka and cranberry. He mostly drinks tins of cheap lager, but he’s been off the wagon for the last few months.
- Alright, moving on, judging by the bands gig dates right now, you guys are staying within the UK and Europe, considering that the UK dark music scene is slowly coming back and Europe historically has been friendly to alternative styles of music, has it made easier for you to find regular slots at venues? I ask a lot of bands this because I’m trying to paint an accurate picture of what’s really going on overseas versus myth.
We don’t really think of things in terms of “dark scenes”. That stuff is career suicide. We certainly don’t think of ourselves in terms of any kind of niche resurgence. The reason that great alternative music is doing well over here (and by here I mean the UK) is because people are just starting to break down the barriers between little scenes and started pushing themselves in front of a wider and more discerning audiences. We’ve always said that you can be the best band in a scene and still be the worst band in town. Better to be a little fish in a big pond than a big fish in a little pond.
- Let’s talk influences, on your website you put Lemmy and Iggy out there but what about other bands and artists that have come across in your sound and direction? I hear the aforementioned influences plus the Sisters of Mercy and the Fields of The Nephilim, anything that someone may not catch that is hiding in there?
Ok, let’s get the record straight. I love The Sisters, I really do, and they were indeed a big early influence – but they aren’t a major reference point for us these days. If anything, The Sisters taught us to look beyond the obvious into what makes up a band’s sound. Indirectly they got me into Leonard Cohen, Suicide and Led Zeppelin – the list goes on. I spend a lot of time looking into what is was about these artists that The Sisters combined together to make their sound and how I can take different ideas and combine them effectively to make something else.
Good (obvious) examples of this are sprinkled all over Machine Beat Messiah. The intro is a standard blues riff – an acknowledgment of one of the basic starting points of rock and roll. There are several recycled Stooges riffs in there as well. The cliché Mad Max adventure in Snakebite Smile and the larger than life character of King Hell a more tribute to Tom Waits’ style of musical story telling than anything to do with Fields Of The Nephilim. We stuck a harmonica in it and people just assumed it was a Nephs thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Nephs, but again – it’s looking beyond what those bands did into why they did it.
A huge influence on my song writing in Terminal Gods is Automatic era Jesus and Mary Chain. I love the way they took surf, soul and blues tropes and turned them into metallic, nasty noise. That’s vision.
- It seems like a lot of bands coming out of the “goth” scene these days have stayed with the hard rock sound that dominated the mid-80’s and onward, was this a more organic way of playing for the band because it’s what you like or was it just that you started jamming together at the beginning and that’s what came out?
We started out to be a rock band. Goth was the end point for so many bands. A formula that had been completed and was then to be adhered to. For Cowlin and myself – who both grew up listening to classic goth music – it was a natural starting point, but we’ve done everything we can to take it back into a bigger, more rock and roll musical world. Josh brings a lot of punk and garage influences to the table and mitigates Cowlin and myself if things start looking a bit too cliché.
- I’ve noticed the band has several music videos, a true rarity these days for underground acts. Whom did you get to work with you on videos such as the one for King Hell and Electric Eyes and where was the shooting location at for them? The results were highly polished and they look great!
Andy Oxley, the man behind Screen 3 productions, is one of our long term collaborators and one of the key people behind the scenes. He’s done every single video, getting unbelievable results despite our shoe string budgets. He’s been with us since the very early days and has watched us grow, getting to know us both as people and as a band. His videos are a combination of great technical skills, a creative mind and a keen insight into the band’s personality and direction. He’s recently been sourcing vintage cars to borrow for an on road video for our next release.
The latest video release, Wheels Of Love, was actually shot in our rehearsal studio. We decked it out with lights and projections and smuggled in a smoke machine. The whole thing cost £25. SMOKE AND MIRRORS BABY – LITERALLY.
- Ok, the band’s logo, I love symbolism and I noticed with the configuration of the bands initials that there is probably a deeper meaning behind that, care to elaborate?
The original logo was drawn by an artist called Lupus Nensen based on old alchemical seals. The man’s a fucking genius and we were just lucky enough to meet him in a bar while he was passing through London. We later super imposed it into the triangle (the same one from Aleister Crowley’s iconic hat) as a rather cynical pastiche on the fashion for occult inspired imagery in London’s art scene right now. You can see more of Lupus’ work here
- Drum machines, a classic staple. Was it a natural choice to go with a machine and have one less person to squeeze into the van on gigs out of town, perhaps just a personal preference in sound or live drummers just not your thing?
I love the sound of drum machines and I’m not gonna lie, I originally started writing with one as a direct result of influence from the 1980s Leeds post-punk scene (I also love Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The March Violets) and later on because of the awesome Big Black. Big Black were a revelation to me, sort of like what Suicide must have been for the early post-punk scene. Every time I start thinking drum machines are sterile and dull, I put on a Big Black record and think again.
We’ve recently tried rehearsing with drummers a few times but so far we haven’t found one that truly gelled with what we’re doing. That’s not to say we won’t find one in the future. At the moment I’m working on expanding our rig of hardware percussion, both sampled and acoustic. Josh recently described my adherence to the use of a drum machine as a fetish and, to be honest, he’s basically right.
We’ve come under a lot of criticism for using a drum machine live (some of it well deserved), but one positive thing it has brought is that it’s made us stand out from the rest of the rock and indie scene, which is still firmly and conservatively based on guitar/drums/bass. Ironic that a fairly derivative move on our part has ended making us look borderline avant garde in the circle we’ve started move in.
- What have been some stand out shows you’ve played so far and any venues in particular you’d recommend to other bands coming to the UK and Europe that are good to work with?
Playing in Europe is always extremely gratifying. The audiences are usually less cynical and more enthusiastic than their British counterparts, who tend to act like they’ve seen everything there is to see and are VERY hard to impress.
That said, one of my favourite ever shows was played very recently, to around 150 people at The Garage – one of London’s staple rock circuit venues. To play to a packed room full of people dancing and sweating in London, the world centre of musical indifference was… validating.
We’ve worked with some excellent promoters across Europe, many of whom have put on unique, exciting parties which reflected the personalities of their city and their home crowd. If I had to give advice to a band coming to Europe it’s play shows with promoters that have strong, well established names of their own – that have audiences that trust them to pick and choose great bands to promote. Again, it comes down to being discerning, work with people that have a reputation for quality and you’ll be treated like quality. If people with good reputations won’t work with you, looking inwardly to find out why.
- With the band having a full site and bandcamp page up, has it helped with exposure for your music? There’s natural limitations to using social media as well because it removes the personal aspect but it’s such a common things these days that some seem to swear by it.
Meh, you gotta do what you gotta do to get by in the world. Generally speaking I couldn’t give a flying fuck about social media, I interact with bands via their records and their live show. We use all that stuff exactly as much as we have to get people to buy our records and let them know when and where we’re playing. When the cards are all down, these are things that count. The rest is dust. In twenty years, no one’s going to give a shit what you said on twitter that one time, but they might treat your first 7” as if it were a holy relic (incidentally, our first 7” is fast becoming harder to get hold of than a piece of the actual crucifix).
- Lastly, what albums are currently out for those who may not know and do you have plans to try and make it across the pond and to even try for Latin America as well?
Genesis Demo CD (Maybe 50 pressed? Not sure): Not worth bothering with really. It’s got “The Night Life” on it, which coulda been a contender if we’d written AFTER we’d learned to play our instruments properly.
Electric Eyes/God Child 7” Single (limited to 250): Fast becoming mythical.
Lessons In Fire/The Card Player 7” Single (limited to 250): Now sold out. On ebay for about £15 last time I checked.
Machine Beat Messiah 12” EP (limited to 300): Released November 2013 and selling fast. So far, the most Terminal Gods songs to all be released in one go.
We’ll make it across the pond when our record sales justify the expense to an American promoter to bring us over.
Truthfully, until an American record label decides to publish and distribute our releases, an American tour is unlikely. Even touring for long stretches in the UK is next to impossible without national level press, publicity and distribution.