The Wake: new interview by Tzina Dovve…
The Wake… The gothfathers of goth are back……Singer Troy Payne chats about the Columbus clan during the old goth days, the band’s first full -length album in almost twenty-five years and the new goth days to come…The Wake……The gothfathers of goth are back……By Tzina Dovve……
Tzina: Welcome back..After twenty-five years of silence The Wake have re- emerged on the dark/ goth music scene with a dynamic comeback.. What made you decide to join your forces as a band once again after so many years and how does it feel to be re- united once more ?
Troy: Thank you.
In the interest of historical accuracy, to which we must be faithful, The Wake hasn’t been completely silent for twenty-five years though there certainly have been periods of shall we say – quiet anticipation. The Wake last played live 1999, released BLACKlist in 2007, singles “Emily Closer” in 2010, “Rusted” and the “Rusted (John Fryer remix)” in 2014. It is true that Perfumes and Fripperies is our first full length release since Nine Ways in 1996 – so yes, we understand the perception. Making a new record has been part of what we’ve been dreaming about and working towards for quite some time. All of the pieces finally aligned in a way that made it possible to realize that dream this year.
As for joining forces again – we wouldn’t have been able to make this record with any other group of guys.
Tzina: As l understand The Wake did have some line- up changes before you called it a day back in the nineties. Who are the current members of the band?
Troy: Yes. The Wake has gone through several lineup changes over the many years of existence. Not discounting the valuable contributions of past members, I would say that the “core four” of Troy Payne, Rich Witherspoon, James Tramel, Daniel C. is the unit that has defined the bands’ sound and has produced most material. This is the lineup we bring forward today.
Tzina: Twenty-five years is a rather long period of time to be absent from the music scene. It is well- known that James has been active for some years with his band October Burns Black. Have any other members been involved with other music projects over these years? Has it been a creative time for you?
Troy: Yes, James has been busy doing cool stuff with October Burns Black, as was Rich with his project Hamsas Xiii. Rich also played guitar on the album Present by the Canadian band Cockatoo and played live with them – opening for the Mission (UK) in Toronto, CA. Regardless of the avenues, creativity is something we all crave and indulge in with hungry hearts.
Tzina: Your music has always been a landmark on the dark/goth scene with a very polished sound to one’s ears. How is a Wake song born? Who has been the main songwriter of the band? Do you find it easier to write music today than back in the old goth days? Do you still feel the same inspiration to write?
Troy: Thank you! That’s high praise in my book.
Wake songs are conceived of many different ways, but typically born just one way – by working and re-working it until it’s either something worth listening to, or deemed beyond salvation. Our songwriting processes have changed and evolved over the years to the demands and capabilities of the times. Generally speaking, in the old days we would mostly write as a band via live sessions – with each member contributing his part live on the fly. We recorded everything for later review. This was an organic and fairly efficient method of writing when the band was on. However, if someone was off, not digging the vibe, or just having a bad day – it was shit (hours of vacant stares, plunking around, and tension). Today, we have much less opportunity to get together as a band and when we do get together there isn’t time for F’n around. As a result of this situation – as well as the emergence of “affordable” professional home recording – we mainly write and record as individuals now. Writing /creative credits for Perfumes and Fripperies breaks down roughly into thirds with me being responsible for 1/3 of the material, Rich a 1/3, and 1/3 full band collaborations.
Tzina: What are your main musical influences and what are your views on doing cover versions?
Troy: Wow yeah, this would be answered differently by each member for sure, but there is probably some crossover too. “Main influences” is too specific, but a partial list of just influences for me personally would include: Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bowie, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Peter Murphy, Love and Rockets, Mission (UK), Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, New Order, Cocteau Twins, Billy Idol, Siouxsie and the Banshees, U2, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, the Scorpions, Ronnie James Dio, Jimi Hendrix… I could go on for pages.
Tzina: Your comeback album ‘ Perfumes and Fripperies ‘ was just released this Halloween. An album with some collaborations and an album which was recorded over a long period of time and in different locations in your native Ohio and not only. What is the story behind ‘ Perfumes and Fripperies ‘ ? Can you elaborate…
Troy: P&F was a long time in the making. Some of the original demos were recorded several years ago and continued to be refined as time progressed and our focus on the end goal sharpened. The collaborations with David Wolfenden on “Everything” and with Caroline Blind on “Rusted (Hz Healer mix)” were part of that progression and focus. All of the vocals and most of the instruments were recorded in personal home studios. Daniel’s drums were recorded at Suma Recording Studio in Painesville, Ohio with Paul Hamann engineering, VMS in Columbus, Ohio with Matt Hagberg engineering, and at the Basement Barbershop in Columbus, Ohio with me playing engineer
Tzina: Is there some sort of symbolic meaning behind the title ‘ Perfumes and Fripperies ‘ ? How has this long- awaited album been received by your music fans around the world so far? How content are you with the outcome of this album and what makes it different from past Wake releases?
Troy: Yes there is, though it may only make sense to me…The theme or underlying story of the title track is – someone looking back examining their life and concluding some basic truths: most of life is over – especially the sweet stuff (perfumes and fripperies). You got some of what you wanted and some of what you deserved. You want to re-write the parts of it where you fucked up or got screwed – but can’t. In the end, no matter the roads we choose to take – they all lead to The One Road. And all that’s left now is to follow it.
I thought the individual songs were sort of like all the different roads or stories real or imagined. Love and triumph, death and sorrow, sane and insane, besieged or alone, young and old, darkness and light – all parts of the whole that lead to the end – in this case the album.
Tzina: You have already released two singles from ‘ Perfumes and Fripperies ‘..The first ‘ Hammer Hall ‘ and most recently ‘ Everything ‘. Do you have any plans on making any music videos for these tracks?
Troy: We hope to make videos for several of the tracks. I’m sure there is a director with ideas or an animator out there who could help us with that. Yes?
Tzina: Are there any plans for a follow-up to ‘ Perfumes and Fripperies ‘ ? Will The Wake continue their music journey through time? What are your aspirations for the band with your comeback?
Troy: Yes. I believe we have plenty of creativity left in the tank, and we get pretty decent mileage as it turns out. I hope that our longtime fans will feel reconnected to the band through Perfumes and Fripperies and that it will also speak to those unacquainted with the band. And for both old and new to know that we are together with them – bound by the same darkness and the same light. We breathe in your ears and sing to your soul.
Tzina: The Wake were a very active live band during the old goth days supporting bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy just to name a few. Throughout the history of the band what is one of your most memorable experiences?
Troy: I have to save something for the memoir you know, but a funny one that just came to mind was when we “accidentally” drank all of And Also the Trees’ beer in a dressing room we were sharing with them at a gig in Cleveland. In truth it wasn’t really intentional – we drank a lot back in the day and we just assumed it was all ours. They weren’t very amused when they finished their set and came back for a refreshing cold one. Understandable. Sorry fellas.
Tzina: What do you miss most about performing live ?
Troy: Drinking the other band’s beer of course. Nah. Lol
It’s a whole lot of fun when you’re really nailing it and the crowds totally digging it. No feeling quite like that.
Tzina: As l understand you had to cancel some live shows including ‘ Tommorow’s Ghosts Festival ‘ in Whitby, U.K. due to the pandemic this year. Some European shows have been re-scheduled for 2021. Where can Wake fans expect to see you play live next year ?
Troy: As the pandemic continues to spiral out of control – that remains a bit of a question mark. I have not seen Daniel or James IRL since our last rehearsal in February. Last time I saw Rich IRL was in March at the final mixing session for P&F. Just from a practical standpoint, we have to be able to rehearse as a band in order to play live shows. If vaccines are not available to the general public until summer it’s going to be a real challenge to be “tour ready” by fall as the band is separated by geography and hamstrung by scheduling conflicts. Not to mention the difficulty in arranging international travel for a rock band on short notice… Still, we are hoping to play all of dates that were cancelled for 2020 in 2021 which would include:
Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival in Whitby, UK
Gibus Live in Paris with Jupiter Jane on Nov 4
Nazca Music Live in Madrid with NU:N on Nov 5
Urban Spree in Berlin with Sweet Ermengarde on Nov 6
We will hope and prepare as best we can to make it happen. You can help by wearing your fucking mask damnit. Jk, I’m sure everyone reading this already does because our fans are not selfish, thoughtless A-holes.
Tzina: This global pandemic has hit the music and arts industry in a very harsh way. Do you believe it will change the face of the music world completely ?
Troy: Yes. Most small to midsize venues, festivals, promoters, and performers already work with very small margins. Some have already succumb and many others will follow without some kind of help. Unfortunately, at least here in the US, the Music Industry is not considered to be worthy of government assistance unlike the banking, farming, automotive and airline industries. Nor does it apparently fall under the protections provided for “small business”. The arts and artists are most often sent to the back of the line along with the service industry and general laborers. Largely without representation or unions – one cannot compete with the big business lobby or congressional dip shits.
Tzina: After twenty-five years of silence how do you view the goth/ dark scene today? How much do you think it has changed and evolved over time? Do you think the scene in your home country differs from the rest of the world ?
Troy: Goth and dark…lol.
I have to answer that from the point of view of an observer rather than an insider or expert. Though our music is part of the goth / dark scene, I am not exactly such. I don’t go out (not that Columbus, OH even has a goth night or club that I’m aware of) and until very recently I did not have any personal social media accounts. The Wake is on multiple sm platforms out of necessity, but I’m not very social personally. My perception is that the goth scene has shrunk at the local level and grown on the international level. Meaning, local communities have aged and died out whereas the global goth community has grown as it is now connected in a way it wasn’t back in the day. This of course is due to the rise and prevalence of the internet and personal computing power. Another change (also spurred on by the aforementioned IMO) is the abundance of “goth adjacent” things – music, film, style, all borrowing from the original goth movement. As for bands – there are a few veteran goths still turning out good stuff today and slightly fewer solid “new” goth bands – and then there is the usual allotment of crap.
So pretty much the same song there, but that is true with every genre.
Tzina: Anything else you would like to share with your fans? What can Wake fans all over the world expect from you in the near future ?..Again Welcome back…
Troy: Thanks again. Good to be back. Good to just be, all things considered.
Like to thank everyone for supporting The Wake. The response to Perfumes and Fripperies has been great so far. If you haven’t got yourself a copy, please do – you’ll be helping us to make the next one. Collective fingers crossed please for early vaccine distribution worldwide and an end to this BS.
I just noticed that I have said “yes” an obscene amount of times in this interview, which is strange because I can normally be counted on for a solid and repeated “no”.