interview with Veil of Thorns

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What´s the name of your band? We are called Veil of Thorns.

What made you call the band "Veil of Thorns"? It came from a line of thought about the nature of space-time in gnostic cosmology, the Demiurge, Jaldaboath and Maya (illusion, or delusion - Sanskrit माया) in Vedic literature. Socialization and quirks of language can make for illusory views of reality and being and tearing aside the illusion can cause pain. Hence the Veil and the Thorns.

How was the band formed? It was back in Boston in the early -90's. I was jamming with a powerful and inventive drummer who had graduated from Berklee School of Music. People would come and go and we would have some of the most intense jam sessions with no thought of genre or aesthetic. After some time Catherine Chenoweth stepped in to play bass and something clicked. Her playing was really solid and hard hitting. Just the thing to drive the momentum and groove as I was freed to experiment with what sounds my guitar could be capable of producing. We decided to form a band and brought in Ruddy Bitch and Jarrett Laitinen to complete the first lineup.

Can you tell about your band? Operating within this band, creating the sounds, words and images of the world of Veil of Thorns is kind of strange. The process of writing this material tends to spill over into what I see when I look out at the world. Early on, some of the songs anticipated gothic metal, but as Choronzon became a more public venture, all the metal ideas went to that project more and more. There is a basis in post-punk and elements of many things are woven in.

Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band? We're quite spread out, with Ferenc Teglas, who is a genius multi instrumentalist member in the Netherlands, Aidan McGoran, a fine, rocking guitarist in Northern Ireland, James Curcio, drummer who currently resides in Boston and me down in Florida. I do a bunch of things, vocals, cello, bass, keys, guitar. Then we have the mysterious Ruddy Bitch and Pandora...

What was the ambitions of the band when you started? From the start it has been all about what we can create. Our ambitions were all artistic, which was not so easy in those days. We did our best with 4 and 8 track studios throughout the -90's and after y2k were were able to try things we had always wanted to do. From dub and glitch to symphonic elements.

Could you explain your music to someone that haven't heard you? I would say we occupy the badlands between the Western Lands, the desert of hallucinatiuons and Unknown Kadath.

Where was your first gig? It was at a dark and dank place called The Channel in Boston, one of those black painted rooms with floors sticky with old beer, dried blood and vomit. The Channel was home to many great shows in its time, from BB King to Blue Oyster Cult to Bauhaus, Slayer and Celtic Frost. I was sorry to see that place go.

Where was the latest gig?That was in Amsterdam last year. I was playing guitar for Jarboe and the opening band didn't show up, so I was asked if I would do a set. It was just me, but I did all Veil ofThorns songs.

Who writes your songs?/Who writes the music who writes lyrics? I come up with the basic ideas and everyone writes their own parts anmd then I come in with the lyrics at the end.

Who has the best since of humor in the band? Oh, that has to be ol' Ruddy. Ruddy Bitch is a nut! He's like a walking Vaudeville show all on his own, drummer, juggler, comedian and plate spinner all at once. That's why his parts are beamed in via sattelite for so many gigs, for he's such a spectacle...

What's good/bad with the band?/What genre do you feel you are? Can't really think of anything bad. It would be great to be able to put a huge multimedia extravaganza on the road, but one thing I've learned is that one can never rule any possibility out in life. We've kicked around the goth and industrial subterranea for some time, though what we do is never quite in line with what most are doing.

Why did you pick that particular style?/What are your songs about? We can't help it, really. We can use elements of blues and country and that dark under current will run through it. We can have a heavy dance beat and pop retro-necro scavenging and the shadows move ominously between the strobes. Twenty years ago, songs were about the dystopia we now live in and current songs are about the world after the collapse of dystopia.

Do you write your own material or mainly covers? Almost all our own material. We have thrown in the odd cover at gigs, like Johnny Cash, Iron Maiden, Adam And The Ants or Bikini Kill. But it would never be more than one cover at any gig.

Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they?

Demo 1991 – Cassette

Study In Decay Demo – Cassette – 1992

A dream Withing A Dream Compilation CD – 1993

Legemet Og Stemmen Demo – Cassette – 1993

Lust Beyond Flesh 7" ep – 1994

Hex Files II Compilation – 1996

Cafe Flesh CD – 2002

Birthed CD – 2002

Nosferatu Original Score – 2003

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Original Score – 2004

Legemet Og Stemmen Demo Remastered CD – 2005

Manifestation Objective CD – 2005

Cognitive Dissonance CD – 2007

The End of the Beginning – First album sessions 1992 – Remastered 2008

The Dead God Sessions CD – Second lineup album sessions 1996 – Remastered 2008

Live WMFO 1991 – 2008

Live Halloween 1992 WMFO – 2008

Bats in the Belfry 1994 Live – 2008

The Gothic Sounds Of Nightbreed 5 Compilaiton CD – 2009

Salon Apocalypse – 2009

Necrofuturist – 2010

Menagerie Of Suffering Download Compilation – 2011

Vampire Wars – 2011

Dead God (Early Unreleased Tracks) – 2012

The Girl Without A Face EP – 2012

Diamond Dust Blowback EP – 2012

An Okkvlt and Witch House Tribute to Dario Argento's Suspiria Compilation CD – 2012

Dispirit Brutal Leech Servants (Single) – 2012

Operation Payload Download Compilation – 2012

GOTHRONOMICON – 2012

Para-Abnormal – 2013

Eschaton & Celebration – 2014

Do you have any clips on YouTube? Oh, aye! Our ambition is to have a video for every song we've released. We're not quite there, but there are a few dozen videos up on youtube. I've put them together on the following playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHUON49EiJI&list=PLD4C631A95291DE95

What got you started in music? From the very start, my grandmother, who sang opera would sit and play me all kinds of classical music, opera and big band jazz records. That is one of my fondest memories and thinking about those days still inspires me. I always wanted to write and perform music for as long as I can remember.

At what age did you start playing? I forst learned to play the recorder in school at the age of seven. We were also taught basic music reading. I got my first guitar at the age of nine and have rarely been without one in my hands ever since.

How old were you guys when you first stood on stage? The first time I stood on stage was at the age of 13. The forst gig was at a youth club in Bergen, Norway with a couple friends of mine, playing instrumental originals that were kind of punky blues. It was fun, and we were paid in pizza and soft drinks and we were followed by a few Charlie Chaplin films. That was great. When we played the first Veil of Thorns gig, I was twenty-two, Cathy was twenty-one, I think and Jarrett was 18 or 19. Ruddy bitch was and is ageless...

What year was the band started? We got going in 1991.

Best/worst gig you've played? All gigs are cool in one way or another. There were some early gigs where we played to the other bands and employees of the club, but even then, the interaction with those few who were there was cool. There was one in at a biker bar in Revere, MA to an audience that had never heard anything like us. Approaching the show with the wrong attitude would have made for bad vibes, but we had them on our side by the end and ev ereyone had a great time.

What places will you be playing in in the imidate future? There are no immediate plans, as we are currently working on something that involves a bit of world building, alternate reality and the introduction of shoggoths in this reality. You may already be down the rabbit hole...

Witch band is the best you´ve seen? Ah, that's so hard to narrow down. Voivod are always incredible, SWANS are always a revelation, there were bands in Boston I would always go and see, like The Fringe, avant-garde free jazz, always mind-blowing, BENTMEN, crazy shows and amazing musicians and SLEEPCHAMBER, King Crimson, all three lineups of Black Sabbath that I've seen.

Is it always the same songs live? Never, nor are the same songs played the same from one time to the next time it's played. There's not a whole lot of improv going on in goth or post-punk, but we thrive on it and we like to bring  guests on stage.

What are the plans for the rest of the year?

We'll be promoting our new album Eschaton & Celebration, which is availble now everywhere online. You can find it on Spotify, iTunes, PANICMACHINE.com or anywhere you like to stream or download music. We are also releasing videos for every track on this album as well as some for the one previous, PARA-ABNORMAL, which we slipped out quietly before I went on tour through Europe with Jarboe.

We are also hard at work on the next album already, for it will be spread across many media, and its tentacles may already be crawling in the chaos just beyond seeing...

What are your goals with your music? The main thing for me is to get all the ideas beating their way out of my head out before this life is done. If there was an asteroid heading for the earth and we had mere hours of life on this planet to go, I would be working feverishly to get that one last song done. Or perhaps I would greet it with guitar in hand, jamming to the sound of riccocheting debris...

When did you decide to go all in for the music? I think it chose me, as the Campus Crusade For Chthulu used to say. I was but a wee nipper and it called me from the shadows and the space between space.

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? Ah, both. Everything from early music through the romantic composers and on through modernism. From Robert Johnson blues, to Miles Davis to Abbey Ov Thelema, there's much to love and there is so much great music being made now. No matter the inspiration, everything I touch comes out sounding like me.

What's the first step when making a new song? I usually conceive of an album in one go. I'll play through each guitar idea in one straight take, then edit the long audio file into separate parts. I'll then use the separate parts as loops and I'll build the percussion and drum tracks around that. Then I lay down bass to the drum parts and re-records the guitars and then I start building up keyboards, cellos, vocals.

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? Most important to me is that people give it downloads a good listen and spread the word if they enjoy the music. If nobody buys, I don't have the money to cover rent, but I have people write from many places where there is little money to say they really like Veil of Thorns. Those who do buy make a huge difference, and sharing songs and videos helps tremendously as well. How well we are compensated will not be important in a hundred years.

What would be your dreams for the band? That would be to complete the circle and bring the hypersigil that is the sum total of our output, including artowork, lyrics and narrative to completion.

What would be your greatest fears for the future? Hard saying, really. Fears have been eliminated through a process of living through them one by one until reaching a point where I can't really think of new ones.

When you are on stage, what do you fear most then? Nothing. Never have. It used to be that the stage was the only place I felt at home. Even when disaster strikes, and it always will in one way or another, you learn to handle it. It's a great rush to open up abnd pour out one's soul and have people there along for the ride. Some gigs are better than others in general, but we always reach someone.

Have you been part of any other projects? I've done a bunch of different project, from the subQtaneous album to kkoagulaa. It's always great to collaborate with different people, like recording guitars for Dead Skull last year and working with Mark Cunningham recently. Also being part of FoolishPeople working in several different capacities in their ritual theatre was amazing and illustrating books and writing for Modern Mythology and Intravenous Magazine is fqascinating work.

Have you been in any other bands? There were a bunch in my teens and early twenties and then I started Veil of Thorns as my own thing and I had been doing Choronzon since the mid-eighties.

What would you do if there was no music? If there was no music, it would be necessary to invent it.

What do you feel is the best live band you've seen? That would be The Fringe, the jazz combo from Boston. Every performance would melt my face and blow my mind.

What drives a band that isn't all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing? It's all about the art. Being known is a way to get the word out and help buy the time to create more, but as a goal in itself is worthless. I've found that the people who get into what I do are all very interesting and cool people. It is a challenge, but it's also freeing to not have to rely on anyone else to make things happen. People at the same economic level outside music never get to see as much of the world. We all end up as dust anyway, so what do we want to devote our limited time above ground to?

Do you have any webpages? Well, there are a few – veilofthorns.com, panicmachine.com, choronzon.org, gothronomicon.com.

How do you view the music industry of today? There's a bigger learning curve for artists than ever. It's really important to have a handle on how to control all the IP rights, distribution, promotion and to know enough about legal issues to be able to engage intelligently with one's representatives. We're in a moment before the majors and ISP's tie up the entire business and freeze independent artists and labels out again, so this is the moment to try to establish something new. Things will probably not be as open in a few years. It's already coming together, like large ISP's in the US conspiring to turn the web into nothing more than a content delivery tool for a handful of large companies.

What are the biggest obstacles for a band? The very worst thing is when there's a lack of persistence and dedication. And people who get into it  who are not prepared for the enormous amount of work it takes to get anywhere with it.

What is best/worst with playing the clubs? There's something universal about most rock clubs. From San Francisco to Moscow, there is a degree of familiarity to playing a nightclub. Maybe the matte black paint on the walls and the stickiness underfoot and smell of spilled beer. The hard-worn stages. The sound equipment is usually set up and a band that is prepared can get the sound pretty quickly. I do tend to prefer to play in churches, cathedrals and art galleries, though. Especially for Veil of Thorns and solo shows. Some clubs have great ambiance, but most don't.

How would you describe your sound in one sentence It is a sound to accompany driving at night along a highway leading to the unknown.

What is your favorite crappy instrument? That would be my cello. I've looked up the model on forums and it's universally trashed by cello players, but I love mine. I get a very deep and aggressive sound from it. Ibnstruments take on character from use, to eventually an instrument becomes excellent because I've learned how to relate to it.

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