Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Interview with Damien LaVey of THREE SIXES by Dave Wolff

Interview with Damien LaVey of Three Sixes

Delve into the reasons you adapted the name Damien LaVey.
When I originally started Three Sixes, it was merely a “side project” that I started until I could find a new band to jam with. It was supposed to only be one song, “Possession” that I was doing while I was looking for a new band to sing for. There was nothing at that time which I was interested in, so I kept doing Three Sixes. A few more songs were written and I was really digging it. Next thing you know, an EP was finished and I wanted to get as much attention as I could. So not only did I adopt the name Damien LaVey specifically for this reason, I did a photo shoot with six naked women, got Reggie Bannister from the “Phantasm” movie series to join in, created a website and just went for it. It was all for the attention, to get as much as I could. Good or bad was irrelevant because at the time, I never thought this “side project” would do anything. The only person I was creating music for at the time was myself. I didn’t care if anyone liked it or not, but I was interested to see what the reaction would be if it was pushed. Then we start playing some great shows and the band started to get a cult following. 15 years later, we make another full length CD and here we are, starting all over again after a seven year hiatus to complete the new disc. It wasn’t planned to be this way. I wouldn’t have used the LaVey name if I thought the band would have continued past “Possession” but it did. So out of respect for the work performed by Dr. LaVey, I dropped the last name from the new CD and am just using Damien. In my opinion, using the LaVey name further would be a misrepresentation of Satanism, because I am an Atheist. Although (and ironically) the lyrical content of the new record contains much more of an actual LaVey view than anything the original material ever did, which was all based on horror movie hype.

What horror movie or movies inspired your song Possession, and what movies were you most often watching?
There were many at the time, as I am a horror movie fan. While I was writing “Possession” I was really into “The Prophecy” series with Christopher Walken, the classics of “The Exorcist” 1 and 3, as well as “Phantasm”, “Evil Dead” and “Hellraiser” series and whatever other cool ones that were around. Among the classics, I would also rent the cheesiest, goriest movies I could find as well and let my mind go from there. Mix in a few documentaries of convicted serial killers and I was provided plenty of fuel. I combined them all and “Possession” was the end result.

How long have you been a horror movie fan? Name the first movies you saw while first getting into the genre. What spoke you about them? Are you mostly into supernatural horror, or splatter or any particular subgenre?
I’ve been into horror movies ever since I was aware they existed. The first one was some cheesy movie on network TV that I can’t even remember the name of. It was a murder/mystery on an airplane that scared the crap out of me. I watched it with my Dad. After I was done freaking out, he explained how all of it was fake and he had a good laugh. Movies like Jaws, The Exorcist and anything else I could see would follow. I was just fascinated by them. I liked all of the genres, but preferred the supernatural. Nowadays, I just like anything that makes me think or keeps me in suspense before the inevitable happens.

What resonated with you about the first and third chapters of the Exorcist series? Do you believe real life accounts of demonic possession actually occur, or do the explanations of mental illness and the like make more sense?
Although I always questioned it, I was raised with a strong Catholic background. So I thought both were done really well, better than any others back then on the same subject. At the time I believed, if it was possible, both might be accurate depictions of what could have happened. Because I thought the stories were told so well, they stuck with me. Later I would come to change my mind completely that if those stories did actually occur, a mental and/or possible physical disorder certainly would have been the source for the actions that took place (if they actually did) because at that time science didn’t have the information it does now. Regardless, I still watch those movies from time to time and enjoy them as the entertainment they are, as I think the stories and they way they affect believers are interesting.

The Exorcist really did hit a nerve with moviegoers across the States when it was released in 1973. Why were so many people fascinated with its subject matter around that time?
I don’t think that the relevance or amount of interest in the subject matter was any different then, than it is now. I think the only difference was when it came out, nothing to that degree existed. It set a new benchmark for horror. The brutality of the subject matter and lack of restraint on it was something at that time had never been done before. The disturbing, crude way it was done, still has yet to be duplicated and probably never will be. It was and still is incredible.

What are your thoughts on the third chapter in the Exorcist series?
Like the original, I felt that it was really well done. It was void of clichés and it was fresh. From the way the first boy died, to the blood that went unspilled, the ending and everything else in between. Not to mention, George C. Scott made it believable. His conviction in that movie was awesome. I also liked the threads in the storyline from the original that were sporadically tied into it.

Were the majority of the movies you rented released in the 70s and 80s or were some more recent? Which directors and their movies did you spend the most time watching? How often would they inspire your writing of Possession?
When they were released really made no difference to me, as through time, they all have a different feel as trends would change. I enjoyed the variety. However, I really liked anything that involved Clive Barker and Sam Raimi. Since this type of material was always in the back of my mind, it was always kind of “marinating” in the writing process in everything I was doing. That said, it was always a constant inspiration during that period. It never shut off.

Along with the Hellraiser and Evil Dead movies, which movies that Clive Barker and Sam Raimi were involved in do you like?
As far as Clive Barker went, “Pinhead” in the “Hellraiser” series is easily my favorite character in all of horror, so I am a bit biased toward his work. I also thought his involvement in any facet in movies like “Nightbreed” and ”Lord of Illusions” and his work on the “Candyman” series rocked. As for Sam Raimi, it was pretty much his work with “Evil Dead” for me. I know he’s done a lot more that I enjoyed, but nothing as much as the “Evil Dead” series. I also dug movies by Wes Craven too, like his work in “Nightmare On Elm Street” and “The Hills Have Eyes” series. I can go on, but you get the idea.

What contributions have Barker and Raimi made to horror cinema? The films you mentioned seemed to have something to say about secret human desires and the repercussions they can have.
What I really liked about what both was what I liked about The Exorcist. Both of them showed zero restraint in their attempts to push the boundaries of horror to a new place that had yet to be reached. The fact that those movies are still even being discussed so many years after the fact shows their relevance and how well they were done. I think the element of secret desires is well noted. Both embraced them grotesquely and the repercussions were fierce. My attraction from them more than likely came from my upbringing at an early age and wanting to know what “Hell” could really be if it existed. While “Evil Dead” focused more on the violence, Pinhead and “Hellraiser” was much more cerebral, focusing not just on the repercussions, but the reasoning behind them. Painfully, patiently and slowly dragging them out.

When movies like those we discussed and others are remade, do they lose part of their original visions so to speak?
It depends on which you are referring to, because it seems like the “magic” that made movies like the originals great aren’t always duplicated, but sometimes they can be. I think it’s a case by case basis for an opinion to be formed. The recent remake of the original “Evil Dead” was incredible. I know the diehards panned it, but I think that’s only because their opinion was formed before they saw it. In my opinion, that was a remake done correctly, with the proper people involved. I also really liked Rob Zombie’s spin on the original “Halloween”. The brutality of the straight up violence as opposed to just the “slasher” vibe was brilliant, as was the way the story built from the beginning. That one was really cool because it still had the integrity of the original storyline, but I think Rob filled in some of the blanks of the original and gave more insight to how Michael evolved. Doing so with the violent “Devils Rejects” style of direction also made it much grittier and more credible, at least for me anyway. Come to think of it, the remake of “The Hills Have Eyes” was really cool too.

In what format was Possession released, and what feedback were you getting from those who heard it?
The original version of “Possession” was in CD format only, although Mp3s would arrive after. The feedback was really mixed. Some of the press we got loved it and others despised us. It was a double edged sword for sure. There was no middle ground, which I was and still am fine with. To this day, I never received the amount of death threats that I did when it first came out. It was nuts. I received about 20-30 through email and had a two separate messages left on the band’s voicemail for two different shows telling me how I would be shot if we didn’t cancel. We said nothing to anyone about the threats and played both nights anyway. Obviously, nothing happened. After that, there were times where we just took over and owned the venue and others when people just stood there staring at us and didn’t make a sound. At a few of those shows, I was pissed off because we played well, yet got no feedback. Then afterward, I would try to pack up our stuff and leave, just to see a line of people buying our merch and buying me rounds of drinks.  I didn’t get it at all, but they all had the same reaction when it would happen. Generally speaking, they would say something like “I’ve never seen anything like this before and was just trying to listen and understand it” but after the fact they dug it. Nothing about this band has been normal, but now instead of questioning things, I just accept them.

What were you looking for in a band that you couldn’t find back then? How did Three Sixes differ from other bands?
I was looking for a few things. First was- did they already have songs written that I really liked enough to want to sing for them and not want to pursue Three Sixes? The second was- did they have a strong, live stage presence?  Third- were they organized enough to have a business plan to move forward if parts 1 and 2 existed? Fourth- could we see eye to eye as people outside of playing music? Because if I were to play in a band that I didn’t form on my own, these were things I required to make me want to join. Otherwise, why do it? I never found all 4 in another band at that time. So I started from scratch and made it happen on my own. That’s how we differed. Not only because I loved the music of Three Sixes, but there was always strong stage presence, a vision, a plan, and I would eventually find other players who I got along with that shared the same mentality and goals. Time would determine whether the goals were achieved or not, but at least all 4 main factors within Three Sixes existed, regardless of our lineups during those times.

How did you manage to hook up with Reggie Bannister of Phantasm for the photo shoot you mentioned? Describe what said shoot was like and who you hired to snap the photos, etc?
I met Reggie through the director of all of our videos, Nick Griffo. Nick and I were friends long before I started Three Sixes. I was already a Phantasm fan and met Reggie through Nick. Reggie heard what we were doing while “Possession” was being written and I came up with the idea for “Lord Of The Dead” while I was at a party at Reggie’s place and the two of us were getting hammered together. I woke up the next morning thinking what an ass I’d made of myself. I called him to apologize and it turned out that he loved the idea I had and yes, he would sing on the song about his character with whatever I wrote… and he did. I came up with the idea for the shoot, Reggie brought in Brinke Stevens and Debbie Dutch (both original, iconic “Scream Queens”) to add to the other girls that were located by running ads in weekly Los Angeles and Orange County porn mags. I ran the ads with my friend Tom who was a wedding photographer, who had all of the lighting and other gear required. He shot the whole thing for free to help out. It was a blast. All of the girls were cool. The whole vibe was really loose. No attitudes, nobody was uptight and it was fun. We actually did it in my living room. It was catered, we had plenty of food, booze and made a day of it. I had a few friends over too. It was good times.

How well were your earliest performances going over, and at what point was a cult following beginning to take shape?
The first few shows were awkward. At this point, I was in a new band that had never played together, had to do so with a clicktrack so the samples would come in on time and none of us had done this before. While it is common now, it wasn’t back then and created its own set of issues. Like I said earlier, the reactions were mixed, but the more we played, the more we grew. As we started to play bigger shows, familiarity and chemistry between all of us was building. I would say by about our 5th or 6th show is when things turned the corner. We played a show at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood. We were completely misbooked and did not fit at all with any of the other bands, that were pretty much just rock. We opened with “Lord Of The Dead” and were headbanging from the first note. Our bass player at the time (Aleister Shiva) jumped off the stage during that first song in about the middle of the tune, with his bass still on and started a massive pit while he was playing. We set the tone and owned the place for the rest of the night. From that point forward, people talked, rumors spread and we started to draw more consistently whenever and wherever we played. We started to become more accepted. The threats ended and the attention grew. Bigger shows followed and then, for that time, we peaked. We needed to write more new material to grow further. Kill (guitar) and I decided that neither of us wanted to play live again until we did. So, here we are now.

What about Possession struck a nerve in so many people and inspired such a love-it-or-hate-it response?

I think it was a combination of a few things. The first was when and how it was pushed. It was in stores on Halloween of 1999. Since I really had no money for advertising, guerilla marketing was my only option. Before it became illegal, some friends and I had posted a few thousand stickers over several months prior to the release all over freeway on ramps and off ramps, as well as left turn lights located on center islands on busy streets and anywhere else we could think of, so there was no way you could miss looking at them. The message was simple. All they said was “ARMAGEDDON IS HERE” with our website of threesixes.com right below it. Because of the panic many had over what could be the “end of the world’ from the whole Y2K hoax, people went to our website thinking that maybe it was a Christian message that was to be heard. Then, they found out what it really was and got angry, realizing they fell for what we were doing. Like the name I adopted, the naked women and name of the band, all of it was to get attention, to make people talk in any way about us and it worked. The song was also divisive because we had people who loved it because it was fresh. Industrialized rap/metal with over the top death metal lyrics which you could actually understand was unusual back then. People looking for something heavy and out of the ordinary were rewarded. Conversely, doing this primarily in conservative, right wing, Christian Orange County, California struck a chord with many who were obviously offended by the lyrics and what we were about. I even received a few emails from people who claimed to the true Satanists, calling me out for using the last name of LaVey with messages that weren’t truly Satanic from his viewpoint. They were right, but I knew that before I started. I felt in doing what I was, rolling with the popular misconceptions of Satanism through the “Hollywood” perspective, would be more effective to get the attention I wanted. Combine that with my interest in movies of this genre, it was pretty easy for me to do and I enjoyed it.

It’s strange because in 1999 The Blair Witch Project was a movie people either loved or hated, for different reasons. It first became noticed using similar tactics (albeit on the internet) and it ended up upstaging Hollywood blockbusters, helping establish independent film in the U.S. and setting new standards in horror. What’s your view of this?
The marketing behind “The Blair Witch Project” was nothing short of brilliant. I think the marketing was better than the film. So when I saw the movie, I was let down. I was expecting so much more. I watched it again after knowing what was going on and then went from thinking “this sucks” to “not bad” as I appreciated the frantic feel for the filming the second time around. I think my own expectations had more to do with my original opinion than the movie itself, yet the hype is what made it so big. To your point though, we were trying to do the same thing, but we had much less of a budget and could only sustain it within a few local counties. So it was the same idea, just on a smaller scale and ironically at the same time, as I didn’t know that movie was based on marketing when we were doing it.

What do you think of the comparisons between Blair Witch and Cannibal Holocaust? I appreciate both movies for their use of the “reality” theme to draw viewers into the plot and have them relate to the characters on a one to one basis.
While I agree with the “reality” theme, I don’t think Blair Witch even holds a candle to Cannibal Holocaust. While the marketing for Blair Witch was outstanding, I thought the movie was just ok. Cannibal Holocaust was brutal and disturbing in the same way The Exorcist was. To me, there is no comparison. That scene with the turtle in Cannibal Holocaust still can’t be erased from my mind, even after all of these years. I can’t say the same for anything in Blair Witch.

What was it like to work with Brinke Stevens and Debbie Dutch? Had you seen movies featuring either of them beforehand?
They were great to work with. Both were awesome people and true pros. After I did the shoot with all of the girls, we did solo shots of each one of them as well. I’ll never forget Brinke’s. She was so natural and could strike so many good looks so quickly that even I could have taken her pics and not screwed it up. Without saying a word, her body language would tell you when to take the picture. Her solo shots only took about ten minutes and we had a lot of great ones to choose from. While I had heard of both Brinke and Debbie, I had never seen any of their movies before the shoot, so seeing them in the movies afterward was really cool.

What movies of Brinke’s and Debbie’s did you decide to watch following the photo shoot? Would you work with them again?
Truthfully, both of them had done so many that I can’t even think of the ones I saw them in after the shoot. I saw a few from each. Nothing really blew me away, but the fact they were on the screen was cool enough for me. As for working with them again, it would be fun, but no. I say that because we’ve never used the same females in anything twice and the constant change is something I prefer. We had the six girls for the “Possession” shoot, although one of them (Taylor) was also used for the nude “bloody” shot behind the CD on the original “Possession” pressings. We then shot Hunter and Angel in the “Salvationless” hardcopy CDs, Angela in the “God Denied” video, Tanya in “Holy Man”, Ashley in “Possession” and Cara in the “Lead Winged Angel” videos. So if anything, we are consistent in changing the girls up. All of them were great. If we use more In the future, they would be different as well.

We discussed Possession; tell the readers about how Lord Of The Dead came to exist. What fueled inspiration for the lyrics and what musical backdrop was set to them?
As I mentioned, I met Reggie Bannister through Nick Griffo. Nick took me to a screening of Phantasm 4 in Reggie’s backyard a week before the movie came out. I was a fan of the series, so I was stoked to be there and meet him. I played a demo of “Possession” and he liked it. He asked what my involvement was and I told him. As I did, we both were getting really hammered. It was just a spur of the moment, drunken idea that I had. Programmed beats and heavy guitar, with the main lyrical focus being on the enemy of the series- “The Tall Man”. I was actually explaining all of this as I was thinking of it. I said my idea would be to have him (Reggie) sing a bridge in the verse giving his opinion of opposition toward “The Tall Man” and the whole thing will be done to a snare drum of breaking glass with a guitar line in the chorus that would be similar to, but not the same as, the underlying theme music throughout the series. I told him I would call it “Lord Of The Dead” as it was my favorite of the series before I saw part 4 that night. I literally just made up the whole thing right then and there, completely wasted. Because of this, I had no lyrics written or even a clue what else was going on with the song. He gave me his number and told me to call him when I had some ideas. That’s when I woke up the next day, felt like an idiot for saying what I did and called to apologize. After I called, he said that he still liked the idea. Next, I am in the studio with Robb D’Graves, we bang it out, Reggie does his part and the rest is history. Reggie Bannister rules. Not just in the movies, but as a human being. Anyone who has met him will tell you the same. Coincidentally, Phantasm 5 “Ravager” should be coming out this year, so look out for it.

How many lineup changes did Three Sixes undergo before settling on the current lineup? Name the others working with you?
There were a lot in the beginning, as we hadn’t established anything in the early days, but once we started playing live more often it slowed down. As for the most recent lineup, Kill (guitar) has been with me the longest. I met him through an ad I was running looking for a guitar player way back in 2002. Konnyaku would be next. Our drummer at the time bailed on us after we had already booked some shows. Konnyaku initially stepped in temporarily so we could play them and stuck around long after that. We’d known each other for a pretty long time before he hooked up with us. I met Marko after Konnyaku was in through one of our most recent Bass players at the time, Whiskey, which was about eight years ago. The last change was Johnny (bass) who joined about two years ago after all of the other instruments were recorded for “Know God, No Peace”. I was introduced to him by Nick Griffo who did our videos.

Why was the name Three Sixes chosen for this band? In what ways do you express your athetistic beliefs in your lyrics and how do they reflect on Anton LaVey’s writings?
“Three Sixes” was actually the title of a song I was working on prior to starting the band. The tune didn’t turn out the way I hoped, so I scrapped it, although I always liked the name. When I realized that the “Possession” EP would need a band name, I thought Three Sixes worked well, so I used it. While the early material reflected the “Hollywood” version of what people generally perceive as Satanic, it didn’t have the Atheistic tones that the new material has now. Now the actual, Atheist side of what I believe is expressed clearly in the title song “Know God, No Peace” as well as “Saint?” written about Mother Teresa and “Where Eternity Starts” about no afterlife existing after death, as well as “Soul Destroyer” from the perceived viewpoint of the retribution applied by a boy raped by a Catholic priest after he grew into a man and left “god” for what it is- nonexistent. The irony of the change of going from what we used to do lyrically to now is that songs like “Arch Enemy” (and Soul Destroyer) which preach the enjoyment of patient, brutal revenge and “Darkside” which addresses even the worst “sins” everyone has and relishes them, as opposed to regretting them, parallels the LaVey ideology of Satanism. It wasn’t intended to be that way, but when all was finished, I looked back and noticed it afterward. So also ironically, but in reality, the release from the “Hollywood” and false perspective of the “evil and Satanic” metaphors and lyrics in the original material which have been replaced by my actual beliefs and outlook on life with relevant substance to society of today are actually more truly “Satanic” from a LaVey standpoint than it ever could be in the past. It’s kind of funny, really. While I am not a believer in any religion, I do think that LaVey made a few good and valid points that translate well in society.

When did your views on religion begin to take hold, and how did you begin to express them through your lyrics?
Since I was raised Catholic, religion took hold early on me. Because my family was so insistent on it, I believed. However, there were things that even as a child I disagreed with, but went along with anyway just to avoid conflict. Time would change all of that, but it would sometimes make an appearance when I first began writing lyrics. Then I started Three Sixes and the “Hollywood” or “movie” aspect of “The Devil” was something I wanted to focus on or tie into in everything the “Possession” EP was conceptually going to be about. After we started playing, a few friends and family members disassociated themselves from me, the threats came in and people from all sides weren’t pleased, even to a point that surprised me. So during the writing of this record, I questioned the sources from the criticism I received. Doing so with an open mind showed the obvious, which was all religions and gods were man-made. Man created god, not vice versa and man did so for its own manipulative reasons to justify its selfish, arrogant and judgmental acts to the uneducated, fearful societies which existed when the ancient texts were originally written and constantly edited. Because people were literally ignorant for so many decades, so many believed and passed it on through generations, with the element of time appearing as validation of “truth”. When people could educate themselves through information that was previously withheld, opinions commonly evolved to the same as my own. It is no coincidence that the educated societies have growing Atheistic views, while the uneducated and brainwashed in the third world, poverty ridden countries would kill for their unquestioned religious beliefs. Then I read “God Is Not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens and all bets were off. Not that this book in particular changed the way I thought about religion in general. For me, this book absolutely punctuated it. From that point forward I became a Hitchens fan. Read a few more of his books, watched his videos online and haven’t looked back. Once any remaining doubt was completely removed, I started writing the lyrics to the title track “Know God, No Peace” as well as a few others for the new disc with the same underlying theme.

How do you believe LaVey was able to bring up valid points about society, especially where religion and human nature were concerned?

I think he pretty much nailed everything in “The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth” which in my opinion is common sense. I agree with all of them, except for #7, as I don’t believe in magic or any powers that it supposedly possesses. I also agree with the theory of the Nine Satanic Statements too, although I am not of the belief that “Satan” represents the philosophies listed. I understand why LaVey refers to Satan as the representing figure, as the Statements oppose those of Christianity. However, I think it’s just a mindset that anyone can have and doesn’t necessarily need to be labeled as Satanic or as any other religion. I look at it as simply embracing human nature as opposed to condemning it.

Keeping LaVey’s Statements in mind can be positive, particularly considering how much religion is used as a weapon as opposed to the source of comfort you would assume it would be.
Yes they can, for those who believe in his philosophies. Because the Satanic Bible was written recently, LaVey’s outlook on humanity was much more current and realistic than something supposedly written thousands of years ago, edited and translated repeatedly. He also had the advantage of history on his side to validate his opinions. Because LaVey focused on independence, it can be comforting for those strong enough to be comforted by themselves. However, time and history have also proven that truly independent and freethinking people have always been a minority. I think the only threat that Satanism poses is the fear from the ignorance by the majority of people who simply refuse to learn anything about it. If all of the people who claim to despise Satanism so much were so incredibly firm and entrenched in their faith as they claim, no fear would exist. Yet it does. This kind of literally ignorant fear alone should tell you all you need to know about how truly devout the faith is (or not) in those who refuse to perform any research of their own before criticizing it.

What were the points Hitchens brought up in “God Is Not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything” and how did these points interest you in reading more of him? What other published works of his would you recommend?
I could actually write a book of my opinions about that book. There were so many outstanding examples he gave for his opinions that just cannot be argued. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just name a few: Hitchens contends that organized religion is "violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children" which by itself is inarguable, regardless of faith. History has proven this. How about his attention to the obvious in a quote like this: “Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing [in the ten commandments] about the protection of children from cruelty, nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, and nothing about genocide? Or is it too exactingly ‘in context’ to notice that some of these very offenses are about to be positively recommended?” or this: “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” One of my favorites is “Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did”. How can this be denied? If that wasn’t enough, Hitchens was equally as arrogant and sarcastic as he was eloquent. All of which were qualities in his approach toward religion that I admired. Just two more and I’ll end it. His sarcasm with quotes of “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species” or “If god really wanted people to be free of [wicked thoughts], he should have taken more care to invent a different species” were as simple, yet brilliant as they are hilarious. There are also so many more. This book needs to be read. It’s unreal and without question, my favorite. I’ve also read “Letters to a Young Contrarian” which didn’t do much for me, but “The Missionary Position, Mother Teresa In Theory and Practice” was awesome. He notes that although he was well known as an Atheistic journalist, The Vatican hired him to write the expose of Mother Teresa to deny her from canonization to Sainthood. It worked. This was also the inspiration for the song “Saint?” from the new disc.

It sounds like Hitchens had a certain sense of humor that would be difficult to recognize by most people. What historical events most accurately prove his quotations?
Once you become familiar with his personality, delivery, dry sense of humor and if you agree with his opinions, Hitchens was incredibly funny. You can look anywhere online and find examples. He was constantly sarcastic and demeaning to anyone, whenever he felt like it. His arrogance toward religion and those who “preached” it made it that much better. One of my favorites of all time was right after Jerry Falwell died. Immediately afterward, CNN interviewed Hitchens for his opinion. While many things he said were great simply for the disdain that Hitchens had for Falwell, this quote was one of my all-time favorites: Question from CNN- “What is it about him (Jerry Falwell) that brings up such vitriol?” Hitchens: “The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing- that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses, to morality and to truth in this country if you’ll just get yourself called ‘Reverend’. Who would, even at your network, have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks of September 11th were the result of our sinfulness and were ‘God’s punishment’ if they hadn’t got some kind of clerical qualification? People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils…from a cup!” I cracked up when I heard that one. Then there was the one about Mother Teresa’s life and death. This interview was done after The Vatican hired Hitchens to write the book about her, so the people asking the questions already read the book and were aware of its contents. While the subject matter of this conversation were both grim and truthful, his dry sense of humor from the last line is really funny if you read the book, because Hitchens just absolutely annihilated Mother Teresa with mountains of documented evidence that to this day is still considered to be undisputed fact, which makes the last line hilarious: “She (Mother Teresa) was a fanatic and a fundamentalist and a fraud. I think probably the most, the most successful confidence trickster for the last century and responsible for innumerable deaths and for untold suffering and misery and proud of it. Should I just assert this or would you require any proof?” After reading this book and then seeing this interview, the absurdity of the question he posed and his smug delivery was truly laughable. This is how he acted often, but if you are unfamiliar with him, the humor would be easy to miss. There are also so many more from him on so many other topics as well, but these are the first two that come to mind.
(Hitchens/Falwell YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtAUuflGf_A )
(Hitchens/Mother Teresa YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL8MDnuUsE4 )

How widespread was CNN’s brief interview with Hitchens? In a way it couldn’t have been any worse than Falwell saying we deserved the attacks of September 11; one person I knew at the time told me Falwell was “an asshole of the highest order.”
As far as I know, Hitchens’ interview was probably equally as widespread because both were from the same source, but I can’t say for certain. I don’t think it can be any worse either. Although polar opposites, both are just opinions. I just happen to side with Hitchens. Judging by the hatred Hitchens had for Falwell and the lack of any defamation lawsuits from Falwell vs. Hitchens which I am aware of, it appears to be safe to assume that Hitchens also never said anything about Falwell which wasn’t true, and would parallel the opinion you were given.

Are there other occult authors or research authors like Hitchens whose work spoke to you upon your discovery of it?
Not really. When I first started reading books of the subject matter that I write about lyrically, Stephen King was an early favorite. After time, to me, he became predictable. I still enjoyed the stories, but when I already knew what was going to happen next before I read it, I lost the amount interest that I used to have. People like Hitchens are extremely rare. Although I was not a dedicated fan, George Carlin was one I enjoyed listening to and still do. In theory and by recognition he was a comedian, but in reality, was he? His views on religion paralleled those of Hitchens and were equally as arguable. Neither feared anything and were relentless in supporting their opinions. Both of them had great minds. Both used fact and common sense to make their points. Both were brilliant. Both are missed.

Which of Stephen King’s works were you reading most often and how did they speak to you? Were there other horror authors you were reading at the time?

“Salem’s Lot” was the first for me. Next was “Carrie” then “The Stand” and “The Dead Zone”. Each spoke to me on different levels and for different reasons.  As much as I enjoyed reading them, my life changed.  I became a lot more active and had much less time to read for pleasure. I started leaning on movies a lot more from that point forward because they took less time. I never really got into any other authors because time wouldn’t allow me to do so. Although much later I would read “Angels and Demons” and “The DaVinci Code” by Dan Brown that I enjoyed.

So far I haven't read The DaVinci Code but I saw the movie with Tom Hanks and watched a documentary about it; I believe it was first aired on the History Channel. How was the book in comparison to the movie?
I don’t want to be one of those people that says how much better the books were than the movies, but in the cases of both “Angels and Demons” as well as “The DaVinci Code” they really were. Since you haven’t read them yet, I won’t blow it for you. Just know that the books are a lot better… especially “Angels and Demons” which I had really high expectations for when the movie came out.

What can you say of the book Angels And Demons, and what you got out of reading it?
When the hype for “The DaVinci Code” came out, the subject matter was something that piqued my interest, as it seemed to really bother a lot of people. For that reason, I wanted to know why. I talked about this to one of my brothers who reads a lot. Not long after, I received both hardcopy versions in the mail from him, telling me to read “Angels and Demons” first, “The DaVinci Code” second and I did. So on top of my curiosity, he was the reason I read both. While I really liked the religious references behind each of them, the graphic murder descriptions in “Angels and Demons” brought bursts of powerful, primal and brutal violence that “The DaVinci Code” didn’t have. I thought both were interesting and made for good, fresh story ideas.

How closely did the videos for “God Denied”, “Holy Man” and “Lead Winged Angel” convey your “religious conversion” so to speak?

Actually, they did not convey my conversion as much as the songs themselves would. It would be more coincidental than anything. All of the ideas for all of the videos were from Nick (Griffo). As I mentioned, Nick and I had been friends for years and he was a fan of Three Sixes since its inception. As the songs would evolve, he would hit me up with ideas for videos. I agreed with them and went from there. While I was down with pretty much everything he suggested, the videos, girls, plot and direction for the videos were all him. My hands were already full with the music and the business side of running the band.

Describe how you arranged each video shoot for the videos mentioned in the previous question?

Like the direction and concepts for the videos, the arrangements for all were Nick’s ideas too. He found the actors and actresses to do what he wanted. Nick provided the concepts, scripted the scenes, directed and provided the ideas. In doing so, he ran them by all of us and asked if there was anything we wanted to add or change because it would be open for discussion if we did. As it turned out, all of us agreed and rolled with them.  The performance of “God Denied” was shot at Gargoyle Studios in Santa Ana, CA, with the acted scenes shot in Burbank and at my house. The live footage of “Possession” was shot in one take at a show we headlined at The Viper Room In Hollywood, with the acted scenes again at my house. “Salvationless” was literally just made from leftover live video footage Nick had laying around from several venues in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. The live version of “Holy Man” was shot at The Key Club in Hollywood, opening for Body Count, both during soundcheck and when we played it live, with the acted scenes at a friend’s house. Lastly, the performance footage of “Lead Winged Angel” was shot in a diesel repair shop in Los Angeles. As far as I know, the acted footage was shot in the Glendale/Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles. That was the only time I had done a video where I not only wasn’t present for the acting footage, but never even met any of the actors/actresses. To this day I still haven’t, but I liked what they did. After completing the amount of work with Nick that I already had, I trusted his judgment on this one and I was good with the final product. The only downside to that video was the sound was taken from a demo and not the final mix, as we wanted to get the video out before the record was finished. When it was all said and done, we didn’t have the time to re-do the video with the final version that’s on the CD which now sounds much better.

How did you go about choosing the locations for your video shoots? How closely do the finished products fit what you envisioned for them?
We knew the kind of feel we wanted for “God Denied” and got lucky when we found the now closed “Gargoyle Studios” in Santa Ana. Because we never really had a budget of any kind for any of the videos, the other locations were basically based on what we could get for nothing, or close to nothing. There was definitely some guerilla filming for sure in parts of Los Angeles for “God Denied” and “Lead Winged Angel”. As I mentioned earlier, the live footage for “Salvationless” and “Possession” were literally just pieced together from some shows that were shot by some friends. They weren’t staged for performance videos; they were just regular gigs and what people would see whenever we’d play. When we shot “Holy Man” we knew the crowd would be big and thought that night would be good to shoot. So we had several cameras on us for soundcheck and when we played it live. There was a lot to use from that gig and the acting was done at a friend’s house. Tanya and Don were really cool to work with. I’ve actually hung out with Don a few times afterward. The last scene where Tanya bludgeons Don with the cross was the best. The streams of blood that were squirting each time she hit him was actually from me and our bass player Aleister Shiva in the background. That was a blast. As for the performance of “Lead Winged Angel” Nick knew the feel that he wanted. After some asking around, we were able to use a diesel repair shop in Los Angeles. Because they were fully functioning and busy, we had to shoot at night after the mechanics went home. I think when all things were considered (primarily our budget, or lack thereof) I thought they came out ok. I still like to watch them every now and then. For the most part, I’d say they came out to about what I expected after Nick explained how everything was going to go.

Where on the net can your videos be viewed? Quote some of the feedback viewers have given the band for each of them?

It’s funny you ask that, because different people have posted different Three Sixes videos for a long time. It wasn’t until about two years ago that we finally made our own “official” YouTube page, which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/threesixesband. Although it’s our home YouTube page, it has the least amount of played/seen videos on it. Hilarious, right?  If you search online for music videos we have, you’ll not only find most of the videos on our page that we did, which have more plays somewhere else, but several other videos as well that we had nothing to do with. I’ve seen lyric videos posted of “I Fuck The Dead” and “Lord of the Dead” as well as “Paint it Black” in the past that we had no involvement in and were made by people we don’t even know. There might be more, but those are the ones I am aware of right off the top of my head. As for the comments, they vary from page to page, depending on who is hosting.

It's common on Youtube that people upload songs in video form. I've seen this happen with other bands I'm in contact with and in some cases the videos were pulled because the uploads were done without permission.
I’ve seen that before too, but I’m fine with it. The ones that I saw of ours done without permission from us were really basic and nothing was anything I would consider to be out of line, so I said nothing about them. If people want to do it, they’re going to. I don’t have the time to police any of it and it doesn’t bother me anyway.

In what ways is your latest release Know God, No Peace a progression for Three Sixes?
It’s literally a progression in every way from everything we’ve done in the past. While the views of the songs and the record may vary, the single, unanimous opinion is that we have progressed exponentially since our last release. Our Producer Marko called it our “growing up record” and I agree with him. There was a lot which was attributed from everyone involved. First and foremost, we all grew as individuals. The chemistry between me, Kill and Konnyaku over many years also helped. Marko was huge as well. He convinced me to sing and write lyrics differently than I had in the past and really hammered me often on things he felt I should change. His criticism towards me both lyrically and vocally were similar to what I heard in the past, but instead of fighting it, I rolled with it because I agreed with what he wanted me to do. I’m glad I did. Because of it, I have more power, clarity and more endurance than I’ve ever had before. Kill had a clean slate to create from too. Since he had been in the band for so long and embraced the range of sound we could write with, he jumped in with both feet just like I did and was all over the place as well. From a creative standpoint, there literally were no rules and the record shows it. Combine all of that with Marko’s programming abilities which were better than anything we’ve had in the past and collectively, it was pretty much impossible for us not to grow. The progression was natural. For that reason, we all feel the songs and the record flow well.

How did you and the band hood up with Marko for the recording of Know God, No Peace? How well do you and he see eye to eye together and by what process did you improve the band's material together?
Marko and I had each heard of each other through several different circles over the years. It was actually kind of strange that we never ran into each other before as we knew a lot of the same people. We eventually met through our former Bass player, Whiskey. Marko programmed the samples and ran sound for a few of our shows. During one of the sessions for sampling, Marko told me he wanted to produce our next record. We talked at length about what the goals and ideas were and we agreed. We are really similar as people and I really liked his ideas. We see eye to eye on almost everything, so working together was always productive and enjoyable. When we started the writing process he told me how while he loved the lyrics I wrote, he couldn’t understand them without a lyric sheet in front of him. He told me that he didn’t care about the content or how much I swore. All he said was that people shouldn’t need the lyrics in front of them either to understand me and to “Offend everyone on the first listen”. So I took his advice…of course doing so was pretty easy when he hacked my lyrics to pieces. I’d bring songs in for him to look over and he would grab a marker and start taking words, phrases and entire lines out. I had to get used to singing at a slower pace, but I agreed with him. He also participated in the writing of some of the music and did all of the programming. The song “Revelation” was all him musically, as was “Soul Destroyer” which Marko did everything other than vocals and guitar. Same with “Thunderstruck”. As for “Revelation” I wrote the lyrics and we agreed to have my longtime friend, Ron McGinnis be the “preacher” who we would sample. So when you consider the influence Marko had on the way I would deliver vocally, as well as the refining of the writing process and programming, he had a lot to do with what the end result would become. What I really appreciated about his contributions was that he didn’t change the band on his own because Kill, Konnyaku and I already had a vision to what this record was going to be, but what Marko did was enable us to do so with an unlimited amount of possibilities and resources while providing a sounding board for us to bounce ideas off of which he would also contribute to. The freedom was incredible. All of us are really glad with the way the final product turned out. Marko was a big reason why it did.

Describe the songs appearing on Know God, No Peace and the preparation and work that went into the music and lyrics?
How much time do you have? Haha! Each had their own ways of coming about. I had the basic ideas lyrically and musically for “Saviour”,” Lead Winged Angel” and “Darkside” while Kill was all over “Where Eternity Starts”, “Saint?”, “Truth” , “Hand of Hell” and a few others. Then there were songs like “Kingdom of Lies” and “Unit 731” that were collaborated, as was the title track which we all pitched in on, but Kill really drove “Know God, No Peace” musically. When I pitched the idea of the title to Kill, he was all over it and almost had an instant vision for something gigantic. He just took the ball and ran. He was riffing like a freak at the time and for the most part, wrote almost all of the music on his own. Marko, Konnyaku and I filled in the blanks with the bridges and samples. Once the collaborated songs were arranged, I’d add the lyrics on top of them and keep running them by everyone until we got to where we all agreed they were what they should be. There was no “set formula” that we used or just one person that would write all of the songs as we all had different ideas and ways of writing. Luckily, we didn’t argue too much as all of us had a similar vision for the entire record. In hindsight, the lack of a consistent, certain way of writing, I think helped create the diversity between the songs, especially when you consider the different genres we pull influences from and is something that all of us took a lot of pride in.

Describe new projects the band is involved in at the time of this writing.
No other projects at the moment, because “Know God, No Peace” is still new. As of this writing, we are literally just waiting for our guitar player to move back to California so we can start playing shows again. He’s left the state a few times in the past for extended leaves and returned, so this is nothing new for him. He will be back soon. I talk to him a few times a week. It’s just a matter of logistics on his end to enable his return. Once we dust the rust off, fall into a rhythm of practicing and playing live again, we’ll start writing a new album while we do so. I already have a basic concept for what could be the next disc, but it’s just an idea right now. We’ll see what happens when all of us are in the same room and we start throwing ideas around. The time between records like this last one will not happen again. Just keep an eye out and follow us through Facebook, Twitter and any other social platforms you can think of because we’re there. Once we start playing again, you won’t be able to avoid us. The energy from our live shows crush. We can’t wait to get back out.

What sort of ideas are you developing for future releases to be recorded and released by Three Sixes?

I just recently came up with an idea which could be another concept record, but it’s really crude right now. It’s just an idea that we all haven’t had the chance to sit down and discuss, but that will be for another time once we start playing again. Right now we have a new record that many are hearing for the first time and we’re focusing on pushing it for the time being. Because it is literally in its infancy right now, the idea I have could still be aborted, but time will tell. So as of now, there are no dates regarding any future recordings, but we will be playing live again soon to support “Know God, No Peace” which has just came out. All of us are looking forward to that.

Three Sixes 

-Dave Wolff