Friday, December 7, 2012
Column of Heaven interview
Recent interview done very quickly in time for Not Dead Yet fest
Questions by Payson from Purity Control
How important is it for Column Of Heaven to play live? How do you see the audience's role in a COH set?
I don’t really understand music that makes people want to sing a long and have a good time, consequently have never aspired to make music that inspires that reaction in others. I’m too selfish to think of what the audience should or shouldn’t do.
How has the song writing process changed from the Endless Blockade to COH, if at all?
There hasn’t been a noticeable clean break between how I composed in Blockade and how I compose in CoH, more of a gradual change. If you compare the Blockade/ Unearthly Trance split LP with Turn Illness into a Weapon there’s a noticeable difference.
Pre-2000 I was an incredibly angry and hostile person, frequently I was a complete wanker. In 2003 I moved to Canada and had a kind of honeymoon period where I was relatively OK with the state of the world for a short period of time. Then in 2006 the two single worst events of my entire life happened within a few months of each other and I regressed to being mad as hell about everything again, though in a considerably more manageable way than throughout the 1990s.
An element of my song writing reflects these changes in where I see myself positioned in the world.
How do you see the sound of COH evolving over forthcoming releases?
There’s a split occurring where some of the material I write is meant to be performed live at significant volume and some is meant to be studio only (Entheogen, They Never Learn, the forthcoming 7” on Iron Lung records). In the second style I mostly work solo, have a semi-improvised approach to performance, and use the recording process as a compositional tool.
Ultimately I’m working towards achieving some kind of balance and integrating the two approaches in a more meaningful way beyond either drowning the final mix of a song in noise (the recorded version of the first approach) or replacing all instruments beyond drums and vocals with harsh noise and environmental sounds (characterising the second approach so far).
Who writes the lyrics? Will you continue to write records as conceptual as "Mission From God" was?
Since I stepped down as vocalist Dave writes all the lyrics now. We talk about them a little beforehand, but they’re largely his responsibility. As long as they fit with the agreed upon theme I trust him to take things to where they need to be. I still write the songs I sing on recordings, which are generally the “noise” tracks.
All of our releases will be based on a single theme.
What's the significance of the Smiths lyrics used on the inserts on COH releases? ("Behind the hatred lies a murderous desire for love").
First and foremost just because I think it’s a great line from a great song.
I’ve put a quote on every release that I’ve been on for at least five years now; I usually try and find something that encapsulates where my head is at.
I’m not really interested in single objects; I don’t believe anything exists in isolation from everything else (this is also part of my drive to release themed records from now on). For example I’m not interested in single bands in and of themselves, it’s the connections (or breaking of connections) that makes music interesting to me on a more long term level. A nice song is a nice song for the duration I listen to it and then becomes a part of the void again. I like art that is clearly a reaction – against something, for something; art that stands separate and in opposition to something, that stands alongside other things and makes open allegiances with them (people, concepts, movements).
I like sample based music, hip hop in particular, because it reframes other peoples work and presents it in new forms, early Bomb Squad productions are classic examples of this.
In sampling an out of context line that Morrisey wrote almost thirty years ago I’m weaving him into my own narrative. Mission from God is very much my own narrative of growing up in northern England in the 1970s and 1980s. The Smiths were also a part of that cultural landscape growing up.
The spectre of sexual sadist and serial killer Peter Sutcliffe killing women close to my home deeply affected me and is now a simplified representation of the disgust, deterioration and decay I felt in my early years. He’s a convenient human shaped symbol of everything that’s hopeless and shit in the world.
The Smiths lyric is just another convenient symbol in this context.
Most underrated record in recent memory? Feel free to name a few. Any genre(s) will do.
I honestly don’t know, the music we listen to and produce is of such nominal interest that everything’s underrated when 1000 copies of a pressing is considered a decent size.
Every bullshit tenth rate weak screaming and sloppy blast beat turd band has been name checked in at least one “recommend me some power violence” internet discussion thread and for every three people that will say they like something there’s another five saying those people unequivocally wrong.
Time is the only thing that will dictate who we remember and who we forget. The people that remember the bands of merit that no one else seems to remember will be vindicated when they say xyz from 20 years ago were underrated.
Most north American hardcore kids have very little idea who Blind to Faith or Kickback are, but both are either on their way to being highly regarded or already are huge in parts of Europe. So are they underrated or not?
Some music that I’ve really enjoyed in the last few months:
* Sea of Shit/ Water Torture 7”
* Radioactive Vomit – Witchblood tape
* Kickback – No Surrender LP
* My Dying Bride – The Barghest o’Whitby 12”
* Purity Control – Coping 7”
* Hatred Surge – Human Overdose LP
* Evoken – Atra Mors CD
* Heratys LP
And bands from the past that I think are underrated/ never got their full dues:
* Steel Pole Bath Tub
* Aspirin Feast
* No Security
* Svart Parad
* Stone Wings
* Damnation AD
* Drunks with Guns
* Haters (UK)
* Head of David
Name a few of your favourite film scores.
Off the top of my head:
* Paul Giovanni – The Wicker Man
* Andrzej Korzynski – Possession
* Michael Andrews – Donnie Darko
* Riz Ortolani – Cannibal Holocaust
* Ennio Morricone – The Thing
What are you looking forward to at this year's Not Dead Yet? Even though it's only in its sophomore year, do you have any thoughts on the fest you'd like to share?
Inmates, Gas Chamber, Purity Control and Iron Lung are the bands I’ll make sure I don’t miss. The addition of Urine Cop on the Thursday is a bold/ gloriously ridiculous move and I look forward to watching the audience give up on them.
The only other thoughts I have is that besides being entertaining and an obvious focal point, music is not the only important thing about hardcore punk.
I salute Greg for his tireless and frequently thankless devotion to making something happen in Toronto, when he inevitably retires there’s going to be a huge gap left by his absence if no one else steps up.
Greg is also one of the main reasons I was convinced to make CoH a live thing at all.