donderdag 28 juni 2018

Lizard Smile: Wandering in Mirrors

In 2013, Lizard Smile released the beautiful 'State of Void', a mini-CD that meant a great leap forward for the band. They were always good, but it was clear that the quality of the recordings had improved considerably by working together with Eric Van Wonterghem (Monolith, Sonar ...).

The extraordinary quality of 'State of Void' made us mouth watering for more. Now that we are almost dehydrated - five years later - a successor finally comes: 'Wandering in Mirrors'. Why does it have to take that long? That is just the way it is with Lizard Smile. They have released only four CDs in 23 years, but then there’s not a single bad one among them.
'Wandering in Mirrors' opens a new chapter. Not that it is very different from the previous chapters. Lizard Smile remains faithful to their recipe to mix classical gothic rock - think of The Sisters of Mercy and The Fields of the Nephilim - with danceable electronics. That recipe works, the previous records and the excellent live reputation of the band are proof of that.
Yet I notice an evolution in 'Wandering in Mirrors'. I feel that the band is more involved in sound experiments, that they dare to make more atmospheric pieces. That also explains why the songs are a bit longer. Other bands would not so easily get away with it, but Lizard Smile knows how to do it and it doesn’t get boring for a second.
What I do not understand is that the most extensive atmospheric song - with the significant title 'Noise Fades Out' - is only available as a digital bonus. The song is good enough to be on the CD and there was still some space over with only six tracks. Although it is no secret that the band would like to release ‘Wandering in Mirrors’ on vinyl also, and then the space is obviously tighter.
Let’s go for a tight record, then. 'Wandering in Mirrors' does not have any weak moments with its six songs, and that is the most important criterion for assessing a record. Whoever liked the past CDs will also like this one, and for those who get to know Lizard Smile with this new one also, 'Wandering in Mirrors' is an exceptionally strong album.

dinsdag 26 juni 2018

Christian Death: I think pacifism will be the rehearsal for the ultimate slaughter

Christian Death is the central band from the American death rock scene. They are a true legend. From their debut 'Only Theater Of Pain' in 1982 to 'The Root Of All Evilution' in 2015, Christian Death always stood for controversy. We took the opportunity to speak to front man Valor Kand during his last passage in Liège.

Hi valor. We have just witnessed a great concert. Let’s pick up on something you said in the show. The world government, the one percent… What is that about?

Well, that’s a thing called agenda 2030. It was originally called agenda 21. I think they started working this out after a meeting of the Bilderberg group. It’s actually a plan that goes back. I think it was initially started around 1900. It’s a long-term process. It’s not about people who are alive. It’s about families maintaining their dynasty for a long period of time, for their offspring. A normal family will save money for their children, so that they can go to school. The super 1% doesn’t think about one generation. They think about multiple generations. If you go to the houses of the rich, you can see photographs and paintings going back hundreds of years. This is their ego. They feel that they don’t die because they live through the generations, from the past into the future. And they also feel like they are supreme human beings. Almost the mentality of what the nazi’s supposedly have done. But this is actually an ancient concept that goes back before the nazi’s. They feel that only their bloodlines matter. The rest of us are just servants. We’re subhumans.

I believe the Bilderberg group is something about the financial system…

No, the Bilderberg group is a combination of the wealthiest people in the world, including the royals in the Netherlands and the UK, and then of course the Rothchilds the Rockefellers, the Carnegies…

I think about the last CD that you made: The Root Of All Evilution. You said that you were interested in all the supposed conspiracy theories going around and that you found out that much of it is true…

I’ve always been suspicious about evil in the world. I met a very old guy in 1999. He was telling me stuff that was all about politics in the world. And I thought it was a little bit wacky, a little bit crazy. But he was a very nice guy. He was very honest and sincere. He always wanted to help. Every time I went over to his house he told me new things. I learned a lot from him. I don’t just take his words. I do my own research. The scary thing is… I met him 18 years ago now. And in the last 18 years, every thing he said… I have more information to validate it every day. At first I thought it was wacky, and now I think of him as a guru.

He made prophecies…

Not prophecies. He told me about common knowledge that most people don’t know. It’s not about magic. Its’ not something only secret people know. It’s common knowledge that is hidden. The reason that it’s hidden is because we don’t have the energy or the time to look. In fact the conspiracy… These people lay it out, they tell us. It’s all there, but they tell us in a surreptitious way, in a clandestine, shadowy way. It’s there. And if you don’t see it, that’s your problem.

How do they tell us?

It’s in their writings. It’s in their documentation. You have to read things like Edward Bernays, who was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He was very influential on these people. Goebbels was also an influential admirer of Edward Bernays. It’s all about mind control and mass manipulation for the benefit of the people at the top.  Of course, the headline news tells a different story. They tell you the cover story and you go away and think: ‘well, that’s it’. You see it on TV and then you forget about it.

And how to uncover that?

Well, when you see the news, you don’t think: ‘that’s the truth’. You think: ‘how much of that is the truth? Is any of that true?’ Once you have that approach and you really think about it, you take the time and energy to go at the library and research something from the past or what somebody says, you follow up… Especially now with Internet, it’s very easy to research what somebody says and to think: ‘Why is he saying that? Where does he come from? What are his incentives? How much money does he have? How did he get this money?’ The people with influence are always the people with the money, the people at the top of the food chain. These people are - in my opinion - always scary, because there are only two ways to get that big. By being born into it, and that makes you selfish because you were raised and educated by somebody who also thinks he’s entitled. Or you got to the top by stepping on a lot of people to get that far. Everyone they step on is another ladder, and they step on the ladder up to the top.

Is the concept of the latest CD  ‘The Root Of All Evilution’ based on this?

Yes, it’s based on knowledge that is hidden in plain sight. It’s there for you to see.

I also see a reference to creationism theories…

Creationism is just a diversion. It’s a diversion for people, not necessarily by the Bilderberg group or these people. The people at the top know that they have to let everyone have their fantasies. So they let the christians have their fantasies, they let the muslims have their fantasies, they let the poor people have their fantasies… That’s how you guide people. They don’t have a common saying: ‘live your life this way’. They do it from behind the curtain like the wizard of Oz. They do it in a way where you don’t know they’re doing it. They do terrible things and they have learned, for the last 200 years to always make changes in the world and never be responsible. They make other people do it for them, and then say: ‘this is terrible, can’t believe that happened’. And yet, the whole time, they manipulate. Like 9/11.

‘American Inquisition’, your CD from 2007, was a reaction to 9/11…

The common concept of it now, what people use as terminology, is ‘false flag event’. False flag events go back to Roman times. When Nero burned Rome down, that’s a false flag event. He burned Rome down. The people didn’t know. Now, if you study history, it’s common knowledge. But at the time… Why would their emperor burn his own city down? He burned it down because he didn’t give a fuck. And the people at the top don’t care. They just want to do anything in order to get what they want. They don’t care about the people and they burn the houses down. The fire, the traumatic experience… Now they have to look to the emperor for help. That’s exactly why he burned the city down. People hated Nero. People were so disappointed that he was spending all the money in Rome on himself, on sexual orgies, on having sex with children and young boys. The talks were going. Then the city burns down and everybody forgets about how bad Nero is. Everybody’s going: ‘Oh, what am I going to do? My house is gone. I need food.’ Nero says: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll give you bread. We will build the coliseum and we’ll give you all the blood you want. We’re going to burn the christians. We’re going to burn the jews. We’re going to burn the people from other countries in front of you. We’re going to give you entertainment and keep you happy.’ All of a sudden everybody forgets how terrible Nero is, because he’s giving them what they need. He’s giving them entertainment, distraction from the misery that he created.

To make the link with Bush is only a small step…

It’s the same thing. These people learned from history.

You’re saying that 9/11 was an inside job?

Absolutely. No question. I knew it the minute it happened. I saw the TV and I knew, at that moment. I didn’t have to wait, not even a second. The first plane was like shocking to me. Oh my god! The second plane… It was too classic. It was a classic false flag. That’s why I was so angry, because it took six years… When we did ‘American Inquisition’ six years later, people were still going: ‘oh my god, my god, we saved the world, we have to stop the terrorists…’

Now they want to get out of it…

No, now they’re bringing the terrorists to Europe to make more trouble. They let anybody in, no documentation needed. Come on in! Young men… Why is it all young men? All young men with erected penises and no money. They’re all coming in to breed Europe out of existence. These are their own words. The mullahs preached this: ‘We will breed you out of existence.’ It’s not fantasy, it’s not propaganda, it’s not prejudice. I have no prejudice for any race whatsoever. I take any man exactly as he is. But if you come to me saying that Jesus is my savior, I’m going to walk away from you. I you come to me saying that Allah is my savior, I’m going to run away from you. Because you’re even more scary. Because you’re going to kill me. It says right there in the Koran: ‘We’ll bring the word of Allah to the people by the hand of the sword’. However, in the dark ages, I would run further from the christians than the muslims. But that era is now over. They want to rewind the clock. Now they’re going to use islam instead of christianity. They know that one third of the world population is fanatically religious. These people are easy to control. And all you have to do is breed the rest of the population out. It’s from the top. It doesn’t come from the people. If you go to a muslim country now, they invite you in, they’ll feed you. They don’t care if you’re christian. Here in Europe, they’re told to think another way, to hate the people around them, to hate the environment… Not everybody believes this, but unfortunately, that’s the doctrine coming from the top.

But these are actually poor people…

Yes. It’s very simple. Who fights the wars? It’s always the people at the bottom. Who sheds the blood? Not the people at the top. If you go into ancient Egypt right now… They’re starting to translate some of the stuff… Ramses wrote down how he conquered this place and that place, and then you read stories from other surrounding areas where Egyptian fellows went in, say the Babylonians or the Persians. These are different contradicting stories. One of them is lying. They hatched the history in stone, but none of these histories are the same. The story that the pharaoh told is different than that of other kings. That’s the way it is. So, where’s the truth? You have to analyze everything. We live in a fantasy reality.

I’ve noticed Christian Death - that was not including you at the time - was formed in 1979, which is almost 40 years ago.

Yes, but they never did any shows outside of small places in Los Angeles until 1981.

Ok, but you were part of the alternative Los Angeles scene…

I was there at the time. I just ran away from my father. He was looking for me…

You ran away to Los Angeles?

I was living in Los Angeles. I was living in Orange County, which is about an hour and a half away.

When Christian Death made an impact, you were not yet part of it…

No, the real impact came when we went to Europe.

As a part of the Los Angeles scene, what the impact was of the very first record: Only Theatre of Pain?

Well, it was something I liked, but there were a lot of bands that I liked at that time. The only reason that I got really involved is because Rozz and I became friends. He joined my band, and then…

When Christian Death fell apart after ‘Only Theatre Of Pain’, he joined Pompei 99…

Yes, because he wasn’t doing anything for almost a year. He had nothing. He was living with his mother. I offered him the opportunity to do something, because I had a lot of connections. I was working with a production company. They would come to me and asked me about bands, and every time they made money, they would come back for more. I made a connection with a lot of Europeans: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Johnny Rotten… I met all these people by just being in the company of special people, very wealthy people. I managed to have a lot of connections in Europe too, and we had organized a tour with Pompei 99.

And then Pompei 99 became Christian Death…

The owner of a French label had found the ‘Only Theatre Of Pain’-record when he was in California, and he liked it. He wanted to release it and he contacted Rozz. Rozz said he was now in Pompei 99. The guy contacted me about doing an album. After he sent half the money, he said: ‘What do you think about changing the name to Christian Death?’ I had to give up what I was doing. And Rozz didn’t want to do it, because he didn’t want to use the name anymore. For him, it was a bad experience. He wanted to move on. But the guy offered us money, and then it happened. We went to Londen, we went to Wales, we played a couple of shows in France…

The story goes that you were out of money…

We had no money. They were feeding us. There was great French food. We flew to London, and then we went on a ferry to Caen, which was where the label was. They treated us like kings. We had food, we had money, a record deal, we could record in the great studio where ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was recorded… It was very exciting. These were great times for us.

‘Catastrophy Ballet’ and ‘Ashes’ were very successful…

And even ‘Atrocities’. It was the first record we sold out before it was even released.

After ‘Ashes’, Rozz signaled he wanted to quit. What happened then?

He just didn’t like touring. That was his big problem. It was too stressful for him. Touring is like… you don’t sleep. I lost 20 pounds during this tour, that’s like 11 or 12 kilos. It’s hard. We used to have this thing: if you’re in a band and there’s a new crew member… if he can survive three weeks, then he is worth keeping. Most people fall apart because of no sleep, no food, too much drinking, drugs...

Twenty years ago, Rozz committed suicide. You also dedicated a song to him during the concert. You have said in interviews that you were not surprised, since he tried it several times back then. You held him back from committing suicide…

Yes. But of course his suicide was ten years later.

You had no contact with him anymore?

I didn’t speak to him since… like 1993. His suicide was 1998.

In 1993, you took contact with him because he wanted to tour again under the name Christian Death?

It wasn’t him who wanted that. He didn’t do what he wanted to. He was bound by a contract with Cleopatra Records with an indemnity clause. Brian Perera, the owner of Cleopatra, offered him a nice probe. Brian tried to seduce me in making a deal with him. I asked Brian how they pursued to manipulate Rozz. He said: ‘I’ll tell you the truth, I made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse’. They gave Rozz 30.000 dollar, and that to Rozz at that time was more money then he ever had in his life. And the reason Brian could offer that kind of money was because he knew that at that time, Christian Death was on fire. We were on MTV and Rozz wasn’t part of it. That were my songs that were on MTV, and Brian Perera wanted a piece of it. The only way he could get a piece of it, was to offer something to the junkie. I’m not trying to be insulting, but at that time Rozz was bad on drugs. That’s not my perspective, that’s how Brian Perera thought.

How could he take advantage of this simple, sweet guy? Rozz was a simple sweet guy. Intelligent, but simple in ways of being manipulated by people like that. He didn’t have a defensive act, an understanding of who to trust. Rozz is that kind of person that… If you were happy, he would be happy with you. If he saw that you were fucking him over, he would leave immediately. He refused to play… Sometimes he yelled at promoters, announcing he wouldn’t play that night, and he actually had good reasons.

But that deal… Rozz did like two recording sessions, and since then Brian has made 20 fucking records. Out of two recording sessions. ‘The best of this…’, ‘The remakes…’ et cetera. None of it is really good quality. Well the original recordings are OK, but they weren’t really good enough in my opinion. They gave him a cheap studio, only so many hours. They gave him the money and said goodbye. So he was being exploited. And I’m still being exploited by Cleopatra Records.

Why then?

Because they have half a dozen lawyers on staff. They are illegally using the name Christian death, and to stop them, I need to have at least 100.000 dollars.

You said there was no trial, was there?

There never was a trial with Rozz, but there was one with Cleopatra Records. It never went to court. A good corporation never goes to court. They pay their way out of court. They use the law to stay out of court. They use the law to put an extension, or postponement, or a countersue… They do all these little tricks. It’s like when the Exxon Valdez ship sunk in Canada and oiled and poisoned all the native Canadian villages. They couldn’t go fishing anymore. Until this day, it’s twenty years now, the native inhabitants didn’t get the money. The court granted them the money, but the corporation went to court again to stop it or postpone it.

You can manipulate the law…

You can manipulate the law when you have the money, and that’s the story. The law doesn’t mean anything. The only time the law is important, is when you kill somebody and you can prove it. But even rich people can get away with murder. Like O.J. Simpson.

Let’s go back to the ‘Root of all Evilution’-theme. I heard you were working on a sequel to that album right now…

Yes: ‘Evil Becomes You’…

We didn’t hear any new songs this evening, but you are working on it.  Tell me about the prospective of it…

It’s not the same… Every song is always different. So it’s not going to sound exactly the same, but it’s conceptually an extension of the Evilution-theme. As I say in ‘Illuminazi’: ‘The more I learn, the less I know’. And that means: the more I learn, the more I realize how evil the world really is. It’s more evil that I ever imagined. And it only becomes more scary and more evil.

But you said you don’t believe in evil...

I don’t believe in religious evil. I have travelled the world and I have lived in many places when I was a young child. I never lived in the same place more than two years. I’ve seen the terrible things that people do. But I have never seen a demon. I have never seen the devil. I’ve never seen a succubus or any of this shit. I have only ever seen people doing terrible things. That’s most scary to me. I’m not afraid of walking to the woods at night and being attacked by a witch. I might be attacked by a bear or a wild animal, but never by a demon or a spirit, something from another dimension, an alien…

So it’s the evil in humankind. What brings out the evil in man?

Stupidity. Because you can take advantage of the stupid people. And then you get more and more greedy.

The exploiting people are stupid themselves, but they take advantage of the stupidity of others…

Because they don’t realize that the whole universe is based on harmony. Harmony is the planet. Frequency holds everything together. Even in an atom, everything moves in a rhythm, in a frequency. Everything is frequency. Music is the glue of the universe. Without the frequencies and the harmony and the melody…

Music is harmony, of course.

Yes, it’s all the same. Life is harmony, and it’s frequency. Without frequency, I wouldn’t see you right now, because the light spiral is a frequency. Everything spirals down, like Trent Reznor said. But its’ also an upward spiral. It’s equal and opposite, yin and yang, day and night, black and white, male and female, evil and good.

You use a lot of Egyptian symbols in your work. Why?

Because the Egyptians were prolific with their imagery. What’s left of their culture is all over the place. Very little survives from other cultures. Since 9/11, most of Babylon’s treasures and artifacts have been destroyed or stolen, thanks to the US Army taking over Iraq, former Babylon. This is typical. Historians will tell you this. When a culture has been taken over, they don’t just take over people, they come and destroy everything. The Spanish destroyed all of the cultures in Southern America as much as they could. Eventually, in time, you can puzzle it back together, but that’s the concept. You conquer and destroy. You wipe out the culture so there’s no will to fight back. You take away their culture. They have no pride. They have nothing left. That’s a typical military approach.

Even Akhenaten in Egyptian history, the most powerful pharaoh of all times… In a short period of time, he conquered so much. He changed everything. He didn’t like the priests taking all the people’s money. That’s why I respect him. He said: ‘There’s the sun, there’s the earth and there’s the moon.’ The sun gives us the grain, the moon gives us the tides. The moon and the sun change the weather, and without these, we would die. So obviously, we should have respect for these things. He wasn’t praying to some mysterious fantasy story, he was talking about basic science. And the priests didn’t like that because they could not make money out of basic science. Just like we can’t make money out of free energy. That’s why Tesla was killed, because he wanted free electricity for the world. The rich people didn’t want that. They were making all kinds of money and they still are one hundred years later. It’s the same thing. Selfish greed creates evil. They just don’t care how many people die.

But not all people are selfish. You said that yourself during the concert.

Yes, there are basically good people.

I believe that most people are good.

Yes, if they weren’t, we would be slicing each other to pieces. It’s true. If we were all as evil as the people at the top, we would be killing everybody all the time. Husbands would be killing their wives so they could get another wife. Sometimes people also suffer because they’re good. They spend their lives with people that they don’t even like. Sometimes it is hard to be mean. That’s why we have courtesy.

A last quote of something you said during the concert: ‘you have to experience pessimism to become an optimist’…

I had an epiphany three days ago when I was driving to a friend of mine who is a professor in history in Germany. I think that pacifism will be the rehearsal for the ultimate slaughter. Because the people who are evil know that most people are pacifist and don’t want war. The pacifists easy to manipulate. The harder ones, those who are not pacifists, get them first. Or spread the peace word, so that everybody is more calm. Like Jimmy Hendrix said, a surprise attack: ‘kill them in their sleep’.

Pictures: Luc Luyten

Interview: Xavier Kruth

zondag 13 mei 2018

Whispers In The Shadow: I have no high hopes for humanity anymore.

Whispers In The Shadow has made a name as a supplier of gothic rock inspired by occult themes. After a break of four years - the band kept playing live and singer Ashley Dayour made a number of records with The Devil & The Universe and Near Earth Orbit - they are back in a strange transformation. 'The Urgency Of Now' is in fact the most political record of the band. And of course we wanted to know everything about it.
Dear Ashley. The new cd ‘The Urgency Of Now’ sees a thematic shift for Whispers In The Shadow. You finished your occult series counting four releases - ‘Into the Arms of Chaos’, ‘The Eternal Arcane’, ‘The Rites Of Passage’ and ‘Beyond the Cycles of Time’ - in 2014. The new cd seems to focus on current events and politics. Why this shift?

For me, everything was said and done concerning the occult driven themes. It took 7 years to complete the cycle and after that we really needed a change of things, otherwise everything would feel far too safe for my liking. Besides, in these times I would feel sort of silly still singing about magicians who are dead and buried for 100 years or more. Don’t get me wrong I’m still very much drawn to these sort of things, but there are more pressing matters at the moment. As an artist you do have a certain responsibility to speak up. For your audience but also for yourself. We don’t have the luxury anymore to say: this isn’t my concern.
The title track ‘The Urgency Of Now’ seems like a call to action. You said you wanted to evoke a sense of urgency. What’s so urgent about the current situation?
It’s actually less a call to arms as such, it’s more a call to be aware of the here and now, not getting distracted by everything else going on. And if you see it as a call to arms, which isn’t completely wrong either, well the urgency is kind of obvious isn’t it? Open a newspaper, walk down the streets and look into people’s eyes and tell me these matters aren’t urgent. If you still think that way, well ignorance can be a blessing. 
‘Detractors’ seem to handle the problem of ‘fake news’. Conspiracy theories are popular, people and organizations are trying to influence elections by spreading messages on social media… ‘No one controls the controls’, indeed. Though I am skeptical about some measures authorities put forward which could lead to censorship. Is the real solution not to raise critical awareness while maintaining free speech?
There is a big difference between free speech and the use of F-News to influence people. The problem of course is how democracy can survive without giving up one of its basic rights. As for all these conspiracy theories and why they are on the rise, look it is pretty simple. We are living in uncertain times, we are standing on the crossroads, but people want certainty. A conspiracy theory provides exactly that. The world becomes black and white, things become clearer. There is someone to blame and for sure that is not yourself or your kind of people. That is exactly how all the populists in the world are working. They provide simple answers to very difficult questions. Questions nobody has the answers for actually. The problem with all that, people seem to forget there is and never was any certainty of any kind. Every certainty is an illusion. 
‘A Rhythm Called Zero’ refers to an artistic performance by Yugoslav artist Marina Abramović, in which the public could do to her what they wanted with a number of objects. Some people did hurt her and at one point someone even pointed a gun - one of the objects - at her. Other people in the public intervened to stop these destructive acts. It seems a good metaphor for today’s society. If people are given power and freedom, will they use it in a destructive or in an ethical way?
Indeed, humans have a thing for destruction, for self-destruction actually, because that’s where it leads to in the end. And as we are living in a total capitalist society, profit will always be the one thing that spins the wheels. It’s all a machine. I have no high hopes for humanity anymore. The only thing one can do is: be a better person with the people you know, but also in general. Don’t give in to all the hate and fear mongering going on. And always, always think twice before screaming out in anger! And never ever raise your hand. Violence can never be the answer to anything.
I’m a humanist. I value life. I will never understand why someone would be so stupid to raise the hand to another person. I don’t get the concept. I never have. Not even in schoolyard. I never understood the fighting, it always seemed like total weakness to me.
But I have to point out this very song is also about the respect artist and audience should have for each other, especially the former to the later. Today, I sometimes have the feeling the audience thinks they kind of own the artist, which of course never is the case.
You said the lyrics of the closing song ‘Exit-Gardens’ are central to the theme of ‘The Urgency Of Now’. You refer to the Greek myth of Kadmon and Europa, in which Kadmon leaves Syria to look for Europa, who has been abducted by Zeus. It is not difficult to see a link with Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe. On the other hand, people are looking for the Exit-Gardens, so as not to be confronted with this problem.
Exactly. You got it a 120% right. Exit-Gardens is written from the point of view of that kind of person. Someone who thinks he can stay away from all that, who just wants to have a good time and is not taking responsibility to speak up and go against what is going on. A total egoistical asshole, so to speak. When I write songs, even when singing in the first perspective, I don’t always necessarily write about my own point of view. Sometimes I invent “characters” and sing from their point of view. I think about how they would see things, what are their motivations, et cetera.

Were you inspired by events in Austria? I mean, the far-right party FPÖ have reached a high score in the presidential elections and are now in the government led by the christian democrat Sebastian Kurz, based on an anti-immigration agenda.
Well by far not only in Austria. It is happening all over the world. The despots and detractors are on the rise everywhere. I have to point out the album was already recorded when they won the Austrian election. But it wasn’t exactly rocket science to see that coming, to call myself a prophet would be total self-indulgence.
The sad thing is that the conservative party is now also way more on the right side. There is not much difference anymore between the far right and the center right. There is no center right anymore, actually. Their anti-immigration politics are just the tip of the iceberg, though. There are a lot of things going on. Education, labor politics… It feels like everything is going backwards at light speed. It’s frightening really. But what concerns me the most is that I have the feeling that a lot of people are about to give up on resistance, at least here in Austria. I’m afraid that people are about to get used to this kind of ultra-right-wing politics, it’s becoming “normal”. I totally despise that.  
So international politics inspired you too. I might be wrong, but I can’t help thinking about Trump when I hear ‘The Rat King’, which of course refers to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Perhaps it’s the line: ‘Trumpets instead of flutes’…
Yeah. Like a said above, it’s the overall state of the nations. The whole metaphor with the piper and all that, well I couldn’t think of a better one. This album is very much rooted in the here and now, hence the title. It has nothing to do with escapism and in that way, it is the total opposite of what we did before. But - and that is very important - I’m not telling people what to do. I ask questions, I don’t have the answers. What we did with this album is providing a mirror to reflect the times we are living in. A mirror to reflect one’s self in all this mess. It’s upon the listener to look into it, to reflect. If this album makes just one listener think twice it has fulfilled its purpose and was worth it.
There’s a reference to Aleister Crowley in ‘Watchcry’, some occult references in ‘Lake Of Fire’, and H.P. Lovecraft was the inspiration for the ‘Exit Gardens’, which Alan Moore used in his comic ‘Providence’. It seems you can’t completely leave these references -which you have used for a very long time - behind. Why are they so dear to you?
Because they are still part of my life and always will be. Like you said there are some references here and there, but they are more hidden, they are more part of the songs but the songs are not about them.
You said it is very important for you to be understood correctly this time. Some of the references require some knowledge and perseverance. Do you expect the audience to understand all these references? And why is this so important to you?
I personally think it is kind of lazy to write a song with lyrics like
“Fuck Trump and the FPÖ” or something like this. Other bands do that way better. For me it needs to be a little bit more lyrical. I also think our audience is clever enough to decode some of the metaphors. The big difference this time is, it’s an album that actually can be understood. With the predecessors, I knew 80% of the people out there wouldn’t have a clue of what I’m writing about. And since I’m not a preacher, I couldn’t have cared less. But this time there is indeed a message, which is: think twice, don’t give in to all the hate and fear mongering, stay human and c
hoose life!
Pictures: Maria Wagner