SKINNY PUPPY

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with cEvin Key of legendary Canadian industrialists Skinny Puppy was done by phone by Adrian Magers on September 8th, 2005.

Skinny Puppy's comeback release "The Greater Wrong of the Right" is still ringing in the ears of anyone predisposed to their always unique and refreshing approach to electronic music. The live show Puppy put on was on par with the spastic beats and swirling textures issued forth on plastic. Their new double-DVD "The Greater Wrong of the Right Live" will be a testament to that. Skinny Puppy have arguably done more for industrial music than any other act, and now Ogre, cEvin Key, and co. are back to reclaim their blood-covered, circuitry-embedded throne.

The reason that we're doing this interview is that Skinny Puppy's got a new DVD coming out soon ["The Greater Wrong of the Right Live"], tell us about this?
William Morrison [live guitar and bass] who's also been working with us I guess since around the days of "Too Dark Park." He was supposed to have been our video guy and he's sort of graduated more and more into the band and now this is his artwork, his packaging of the band. It also features a lot of old stuff too, that was compiled from footage that was just found from all over the place and put together. I think it works pretty well in the sense that it's what people have been asking for for ages. Skinny Puppy fans in general [ask] "Give us something live, give us something old, give us something new, borrowed..." [laughs]

So it's going to have older footage on there as well?
Yeah it has sort of documents of what the tour was like during "Last Rights" stage as well as the "Too Dark Park" era. And then it's got a 40-minute documentary from around our 80s tours, mainly in Europe, and then it also has one more documentary on our latest video, "Pro-Test" that was also made by Bill. And then there's the production that was put together from two shows in Candada last tour just this year that was mixed by our regular production team in the studio. So it sort of has a bit of everything, it's just everything that everyone's been asking for. Steven Gillmore, the guy who did the guy who worked on the cover [of "The Greater Wrong of the Right"] did the art, I'm really proud of it, I think it's one of our better packages.

The artwork for the last album was definitely amazing, it caught my eye when I saw it in stores.
It's the same team doing this, too. I think it's even better than that. It's one of my favorite covers so far.

Skinny Puppy's older video releases, when they were put back out on DVD by Nettwerk they were botched. Was this in any kind of way a response to that?
I don't think Nettwerk ever handled anything with the level of quality control that we've decided upon ourselves now. It's sort of sad, yeah, you're right we always had botched versions of everything coming out. Unmastered, low level, low fidelity in general, and then a cheap cover. Just give us something that's not even in color; no black and white. I was just so upset about those sort of things. So I think our whole formula of general working with SPV is about making a package that everyone is into and following the level of quality, just keeping the interest level high. That's the difference they not only make with the DVD but how we proceed in general with the band.

It's good to have a label behind you that supports that.
Yeah, absolutely.

What is your guy's live show like? Because obviously Skinny Puppy has a very distinct sound on the albums and pulling that off live must be interesting to see.
This DVD will definitely answer that question for you. I'm actually glad so many people ask that; "Well, I want a good idea of what Skinny Puppy is like live now, and was like live then." It takes all eras, especially in the beginning when were very much still kids in Europe basically running around doing craziness all the way up until present day so I think it'll answer that question very completely for you.

About the last album you guys put out ["The Greater Wrong of the Right"], there were obviously some people, when you come back after an absence and you have as rabid a following as you do, there's always gonna be elitists, people who say "It's not like it used to be, this isn't the real Skinny Puppy." What was your guys' response to that?
Well, we don't really care because for us it was... we actually came back together again in a situation where we hadn't even pondered that idea. Two German guys were just absolutely insistent that Ogre and I do a show and get back together and offered us large sums of money to go and do it. It wasn't something we really figured would be so healing, such a sort of, good feeling to do after we actually did that. It was a lot of work. So we came back together and we decided to continue and make a new album. We knew that just by being together and making sounds again that, when the one heard the other's sound on the other's stuff... we would both get the idea of what was missing in our lives at this point. We were both thinking solo careers, I think there's a certain sort of magic that happens when me and him get together. I don't know what it is, but it's just something you can't try and fake it with somebody else. For us when we get back together it's really about celebrating what it is we've enjoyed having in the beginning. If there's a quality control level or people sitting there judinging it- it's definitely judged by us first. We sort of sit there and analyze it and say "Well, this is Skinny Puppy or this isn't" and typically we'll not release something unless we're satisfied with it so everything that we've released so far we feel right in the same direction or right in the same vibe. We also feel like, we lost Dwayne [Goettel], we lost, there's been certain angles of the band that have just moved on forever. There's no sense stressing out about that... We basically have to remember to, just put it into a better place now because it was left in such a horrid place really. So I guess to be able to pick it up and make a better place for it now. I think Dwayne would be supportive of that. Basically everyone whose attitude is that we just leave them behind.

There's always, with any band your next album if you're an established band people are going to scrutinize it like that. The way I saw it is that you guys have always been experimental, you've always done what you felt was right. So it'd be kind of hypocritical to expect you to do the expected.
Yeah, most of our albums have changed dramatically over the sound. If you try to follow our career and say "This album is the same as this album" I don't think they'll able to find that album to album, and that's because a lot of times we were restricted in terms of what equipment we were utilizing and what was happening [musically] was with what we could find. Like "Cleanse, Fold & Manipulate" is MIDI, the albums before that were largely analog. And then there's certainly elements that come in obviously around "The Process" which is when we really began with digital recording. So in between you're looking at three distinct periods; you're looking at analog, MIDI, and digital audio based recordings which all fit perfectly in that there's certain albums that you can trace during those certain eras to and also to certain kinds of equipment. Like the middle albums "Cleanse..." "Vivisect [VI]" "Rabies" are more MIDI-based, but definitiely you can also hear there's a lot of analog recording there. Bitrates were a lot of different than what you hear now, you hear a lot of compressed 8-bit and 12-bit samples. To me I think it's sort of interesting, the progression, and to look back. Skinny Puppy will always be more, sort of, controlling with what sort of equipment we find. Ironically enough, on the last album we tried to utilize the same equipment we had utilized from day one. We were actually were utilizing some of our original analog equipment and then mixing that up with the MIDI equipment that we used to use. So, that's familiarity in the sense of what instruments we're playing. So there's a seperate [effort] to tie in, but also progress.

Speaking of progress, have you guys worked on anything for your next release?
We're working on that right now. Album number 2. We plan on it being a simply more heartfelt record in the sense of just releasing angst. It's time for a Skinny Puppy tantrum.

So it's going to be an angry album?
Well, you could say that. Tantrums can take many forms that for me... It's almost a state of mind right now in society that nothing really matters...

Are there any other projects you're personally working on? Obviously all the solo projects [Download, Tear Garden, OhGr, etc] were put on hold when you guys did [I proceed to butcher the play on words in the album title] "The Greater Wrong of the Right."
[laughs] That title will work fourfold, "The Greater Wrong of the Left," "The Greater Right of the Wrong"...

[laughs] I completely dissected the album title... So, anyway, are there any other of your solo projects going now?
The solo projects have definitely not been put away but have sort of been [put on hold and the effort] put into Skinny Puppy. We've been given a golden opportunity to pick something up again and make something better. It's a team effort to really work together. We have a fair amount of time to explore our sides. So now we're pulling together in a team situation and I know... we'll continue with the projects. I know we'll probably do another Download album one day, we'll probably do another Tear Garden album one day, and I'm sure we'll do an OhGr album and another solo album for me. Who knows when that will be but for now we're going to keep the ball rolling with Skinny Puppy.

Changing subjects a bit, I know you guys are busy, but do you get a chance to kind of look around beside yourselves as far as the current industrial scene? A lot of the older bands that have been around since the beginning are still going and going strong, and obviously there's a lot more artists since you disbanded [after "The Process"] that have been influenced by Skinny Puppy. Are there any other bands...
We just played in Europe, a bunch of festivals with a lot of bands and we noticed that there were a lot of bands that have been around for a long time, too; we were just playing with Sisters of Mercy and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds there and both of those bands are older than we are, so we didn't really feel that old. [laughs]

I didn't think Sisters of Mercy were really playing out anymore [laughs]
It's funny, they're still pretty relevant in Germany, they were the headliners actually, well, that was actually Czech Republic. Nick Cave was the headliner in Hungary. There's a lot of bands that can be derivitive of many other things. There's certain bands that shine through all the time. I go by people, I think, people's personalties are important. I like the guys in Hocico because they're honest, it's who they are, what they're saying. So when I hear their music I hear that honesty. It's not really the fact that they're trying to be too derivitive of maybe seven artists even, it's just it's what they represent coming from Mexico City. I see a lot of that going on and that's pretty cool.

I didn't think Sisters of Mercy were really playing out anymore [laughs]
It's funny, they're still pretty relevant in Germany, they were the headliners actually, well, that was actually Czech Republic. Nick Cave was the headliner in Hungary. There's a lot of bands that can be derivitive of many other things. There's certain bands that shine through all the time. I go by people, I think, people's personalties are important. I like the guys in Hocico because they're honest, it's who they are, what they're saying. So when I hear their music I hear that honesty. It's not really the fact that they're trying to be too derivitive of maybe seven artists even, it's just it's what they represent coming from Mexico City. I see a lot of that going on and that's pretty cool.

The website I'm doing this interview for, is actually almost exclusively about heavy metal, but there's an open mind towards any extreme music and you guys definitely qualify as that. I've noticed a lot of people I know that listen to metal, if they only listen to one industrial act it's usually Skinny Puppy. Do you think there's a reason for that, why you guys appeal to people who may normally listen to heavy metal?
I think that, a common ground maybe with Skinny Puppy can be unpredictable or wander into regions that could be deemed certain other type of music. I know that when we play live there are certain moments in the set that maybe appeal more to metalheads than the electro people, and then vice-versa. You can see that happening in the sense of our fans. Maybe if we were to be particular to one area we would develop more solid sense of fanbase. I think it's good to present sides that are somewhat true to yourself and I don't think that people really exist in one area all the time... It's an interesting thing for us because we're definitely inspired by a lot of different things, from the most hardcore shit in the world to the most experimental music. Somehow our sound falls somewhere in the middle...

One last question, in wake of a lot of recent events in politics and on the news; you guys have always flirted with that. Would you consider Skinny Puppy a political band?
We sort of found ourselves being that after we looked back, especially when we look at some of the issues we were dealing with in the past have become more forefront... like with "VX Gas Attack" or whatever. "Hexonexxonx" of more on oil, and have always been issues that Skinny Puppy obviously likes to deal with. Levels of government control, levels of authority have always been a question with Skinny Puppy. I think that's mainly because we've always been somewhat abused by authority, whether its the record labels we've worked with or certain managers and people, so we have to always question authority and I think, luckily, our earlier perspective has played itself out pretty well now. Whereby, we have another Bush in power again, it's good to have Skinny Puppy back. [laughs] That's the number one quote we hear from many fans

Ministry said the same thing when their last record came out ["Houses of the Mole"], that they seem to be best when a Bush is in office.[laughs]
[laughs]Yeah, that should be the title of your interview.

Thanks again to cEvin, it was an honor. Make sure to check out "The Greater Wrong of the Right Live" on DVD!


Links of interest:

Skinny Puppy
SPV
SPV USA