Monday, January 5, 2015

Interview with musician LUCY POEMS by Dave Wolff

Interview with LUCY POEMS

It has been quite some time since I interviewed you for issue 10, and to this day you continue to promote Savior Sect material. How many recordings of that band have you collected for sale and distribution?
Yeah, music is timeless to people who enjoy the genre in which it is played. I think Savior Sect had something to say throughout the 90s and early 2000s; the message may still be relevant as life's problems remain the same. And the band was very much focused on life's trials. While my views on the world have changed, I still have a nostalgic fondness for those old underground days. Savior Sect was never a viable financial commodity and to this day has never really ignited, but it is good to see the music always reaching new people regardless of the scale. I don't sell anything SS related anymore; everything gets posted straight to my Youtube channel where any potential fans can listen freely. I've had contact with a few young SS fans over the last few years; that is always flattering. Oddly enough, I just had four VHS tapes full of Savior Sect goodies returned to me. They were lost sometime in '96 or '97, so it was great to watch them again.

What was the purpose and message of Savior Sect during the time they were active? In what ways have your personal views regarding the world changed since your involvement in Savior Sect?
As with most of my music, Savior Sect was largely fantasy scenarios based on true life events or feelings stemming from true life events.  The SS years were really troubled times for me; I was an atheist in those years and held all the trappings of being one: anger, depression, hopelessness, self-righteousness, etc. The late 90s were particularly hard and I was turning to other things to alter my mind state. The whole air of the band turned from punk angst to this atmospheric vent of negativity. We certainly captured the "spirit" of this new wave of DSBM long before that became vogue... and all without being metal!!! When Phaedra joined the band in '99, I tried to recapture the original punk roots, but the poison had already sunk in and a morbid fusion was born. I was saved from freefall when I became a born again Christian in 2005. This act effectively ended the band. A romantic relationship with Phaedra and a failed Apostle Void reunion allowed me continue on as a trio (now including Valentine of AV) with the Christian themed House Of The Forest. After five years in this project I realized it was not God's plan for me to have a music ministry, so I retired from song writing in 2010. Two years later Omen and I contacted Anastasia to join a new Savior Sect lineup and recreate the "spirit" of the band. I wrote seventeen songs and Omen wrote ten songs, but Anastasia never recorded a note; so, instead, we ended up with my solo album and Omen's solo album and a couple of other songs recorded for Seance. Out of the ashes of Savior Sect, Omen and I reunited Seance, our first project together, dating back to 1988. The new Seance songs still deal with both fantasy and real life stories, but now express a whole range of emotions as I've been set free from the pathetic shackles of strict negativity and depression.

What Savior Sect material was returned to you after having been lost since the mid-to-late 90s? Have you found making your material available for free viewing on Youtube has reached more potential fans than selling it?
In the early 90s I was very gung-ho on videotaping everything. Early on I realized that many great Apostle Void shows were lost in time because they were never recorded. I did not want this to happen to Savior Sect, so, in 1994, I would record everything visually. When the original four person line-up fell apart, rehearsals stopped, and as a duo, Anastasia and I fell into visual obscurity. No band videos exist from 1995 through 2002... and very few photos. In the late 90s I lent Anastasia the five hours of rehearsal and interview footage that was recorded on VHS tapes; I never got them back. Fast forward to 2012 and Anastasia is back in the picture with the projected Savior Sect reunion. She is going through a divorce. In 2013, she buggers off into the mist, and I befriend her ex-husband who proceeds to tell me that he may have some stuff that belongs to me... the four lost SS video tapes!!!  Wow, early SS had fun; we became very anti-fun throughout the late 90s... no smiles to be found. Yeah, it is easier to reach people on the net than through snail mail, cheaper, too. I would always lose money mailing demos throughout the world; now anyone can listen to our demos at the click of a button. The process of building an audience for a relatively unknown underground retro band is still slow, but the songs are posted come what may. All in all though, the old 90's underground scene was still the best; it can never be repeated nor equaled.

In many ways my life has improved by finding my own path and taking nothing at face value. So much of goth and black metal is not negative to me. Do you still think Savior Sect and your other bands speak to people in that way?
That's a big question. Yeah, it all hinges on whether Christ is God. If Christ is God, then travelling by your "own path" will not take you very far by eternity's standards. When I read the Bible, I believed. I am human and fallible so my path will be littered with errors no matter what because I'm human and given to my own imaginings. Christ sets a moral compass and gives direction; if there is no direction, human imagination runs wild... but we have free will to do whatever and people do. Early on in my conversion I struggled with the music I'd written in the past and it took much thought on my behalf as to whether or not I wanted to post any of it. It just came down to a choice and I chose to re-release everything rain or shine. The past is what it is and I have always been close to my creations. So, yeah, I did experience this weird tear down my center in acknowledging my fondness for the time spent in the dark 90s and my newly acquired Christian beliefs. As mentioned above, I turned to writing Christian themed music and ultimately found that I'm just better at writing horror and reality based songs. I'm content writing fiction mixed with emotion. With the solo stuff or with the Seance project it has become storytelling, where as in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s I was living the darkness on every level... the darkness was my core. In a strange way and in my present mindset, both new and old have become just story telling because my soul no longer lives in that place where it once did. Now there is a distance between creation and creator. Is my music always beneficial to people? I would say "no". Does my music always honor God? I would say "no". I would add though, that all songs written from 2005 onward are filtered through a Christian perspective because the writer believes Christ is Lord and that is always good enough for me.

Describe the rare material you have been able to watch again after having the lost SS videos returned to you? And how much feedback have you received from listeners who have heard your material on Youtube and the internet?
It's funny, as an entertainer or singer/songwriter you never grow tired of feedback... good or bad. Back in the day, I loved talking about music and the underground and I still do. It would be great to have tons of feedback and to that, time is always the answer. Tom Petty had it right when he said "the waiting is the hardest part". You may be waiting on two people to take the time to write or it may be a hundred... tomorrow never knows. If an idea pops into my head it will become a song, because I work in terms of music, so the music will go on year after year because that is how I deal with ideas. There will always be new songs added for people to hear and opportunities for potential feedback and conversation. The process does not stop on my end. So, in answer to your question, I'd like more feedback. Yeah, I'm posting the best Savior Sect stuff culled from the five hours of rare footage; anyone interested in watching old rehearsal/interview footage of the original SS in their punk styled line-up can tune into my Youtube channel or Facebook page.

What is some of the most memorable feedback you and Savior Sect have received of late?
The Savior Sect Facebook page is actually a fan made page. I thought that was really cool (cheers, Anthony!). To be honest, Seance has been taking up much more of my promotion time lately, so most of my recent dealings have involved this project. I guess because it is in the "here and now" and we just finished our third overall demo. Savior Sect will always be there in its current condition, but I need to look forward.  It does not seem likely that Anastasia nor Phaedra will return to the band; both avenues were tried is 2013. Both singers said "yes", yet neither one showed when they were needed. It's nice to hear good words about old songs that perhaps missed their calling when the wood was green, but it's better to keep busy with new projects because the ideas are fresh. We talked above about the changes musicians go through and that's an interesting point. Lately, someone engaged me in a conversation about black metal; they enjoyed discovering my Cult of the Lizard God project from the 90s. Humor is the only thing I can see in it these days. I was growling about forests, pentagrams, winter, thrones, castles, etc... I had dark make-up on and I was shaking my fists... what am I supposed to think of it?  It was ridiculous. There is something in it that pains me when people take these things seriously; I used to take these things seriously! Almost like people wearing Spock’s ears or an elf suit. I love Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons, and I don't mind people dressing up in fun, but my context is not taking things seriously. These black metal guys (like me in the 90s) are serious; one minute their washing dishes or fixing appliances and the next they're Bobooberoth, unholy and powerful enemy of God... and they believe it.

Do you still remain in touch with Anastasia or Phaedra?
In 2012 and 2013 Anastasia and I were in touch as Omen and I wrote a ton of songs for her to sing for the SS reunion. I mailed her every one, and if we had a total of 27 songs, she had a total of 27 excuses as to why she couldn't record one song. Since that time she has disappeared, but still remains on my Facebook friend list for whatever that's worth. Phaedra and I were engaged to be married and we parted in 2010; unfortunately there is no happy ending to a ten year relationship. She has since gotten married to another guy. I asked her to rejoin Savior Sect in 2013 for the reunion album after Anastasia had vanished into thin air; she said that she would, but then disappeared as well... I kind of expected that. After the failed SS reunion efforts, which actually started as a failed attempt to reunite Apostle Void, Omen and I resurrected Seance, a project from 1988-89 which featured the two of us. The original 1988 incarnation featured three people, but by the time we recorded our first demo in 1989 the line-up was reduced to just Omen and I. Seance was an improvised project in which Omen did all of the music and I did all of the vocals and lyrics. We recorded one raw unreleased demo in '89 and then went on to form Apostle Void in 1990. Fast forward back to 2013 and Seance lives again, with Omen and I performing the exact same duties as back then. In 2014, we unleashed the "Raw Talent" demo; here we tried to recapture the rough and ready energy of the original '89 release. We went on to record a series of non-album tracks, before launching into our latest CD, "Where The Gigolos Roam". We have recently finished and released this effort. It is our second outing of 2014, but it is far more technical than any of our previous material... a lot more work was expended on this one. I need to get a copy to you. It doesn't sound like Savior Sect mainly because I have nothing to do with the musicianship or any instrumental writing. I wrote and recorded all the music (except the drums) for the "studio" SS demos from '95 through 2004, in Seance I'm strictly vocals and lyrics, and I don't sound like either Anastasia or Phaedra!

How well was the demo Seance released in 1989 received? Do you still have copies of this release?
We didn't release the '89 demo until 2014; it was included on the first hundred copies of the "Raw Talent" CD. I actually went through the trouble of remastering the thing! In those days Seance was two friends. Omen played guitar and I wrote poetry (so I became the singer by default). We just messed around with improv, so the songs were not necessarily coherent style-wise. The whole affair was rather slapdash and raw in the extreme; mainly just guitar and vocals throughout. In 2013 we wanted to recapture the "spirit" of this original tape by putting out a raw, stylistically diverse record. While "Raw Talent" features songs that have been worked out and with all instruments accounted for, we decided to use only the rough mixes for the actual release. It is not a polished product but reflective of the '89 tape. The album "Where The Gigolos Roam" is as polished and technical as we can get, a departure from any past recordings. Seance has remained a project where Omen tackles all the music and I do all the singing and words.

Describe the music Apostle Void was creating and how it differs from Savior Sect and Séance.
Apostle Void was the direct offshoot of the '89 version of Seance.  Omen and I got serious about creating a band; he stayed with the guitar and I picked up the bass and our sexy friend Valentine took on the vocal duties as well as some lyric writing, and so AV was born. Omen wrote the majority of Apostle Void's music and he was influenced by metal in the early 90s, though the rest of the band's dubious musical talents gave us a defined punk edge. The original incarnation lasted from 1990 to 1992, with three different singers (Valentine being the main one) and many, many drummers. Two demos were recorded, "Bridge Of Souls" (1990 and featuring The Carrion of Savior Sect on drums) and "Book Of The Black Earth" (1992). In 1996 Valentine, The Carrion, and I reunited Apostle Void without Omen for "The Myth Of The Eternal Return" demo. In 2005 Omen, Valentine and I reunited AV to work on a thirteen song reunion album, but internal fighting caused us to stop at five songs. Omen finished two others in 2012, so that brought the total to seven songs completed from those 2005 sessions. Omen and I tried another reunion attempt in 2012, but Valentine would not participate. In many ways Apostle Void is the precursor to Savior Sect. The female-fronted dark music machine continued in Savior Sect with both Anastasia and Phaedra being a little less overtly sexual than Valentine's whips and leather approach. The '96 effort sounded much like SS because it features me as the song writer and it shares Savior Sect's drummer.

Describe what sort of poetry you were writing in the 80s and 90s, and how you adapted them for your bands.
Throughout the 80s I was very much into music, but I didn't play any instruments, so I wrote lyrics for pretend albums. I wrote tons of poetry in those days including the epic "In The Woods". This piece was in five acts with each act containing a separate A through Z index of poems. It tells the story of a man on a camping trip who unknowingly sets up base on the site of a dioxin spill; the chemical poisons his system and he goes through a series of disturbing mental journeys until he ultimately takes over the world. A very abstract piece that would still make a great series of concept records. The Seance songs "The Razor's Edge" and "A River Of Salt" are both culled from my epic poetic story. Both of these songs would later be used by Apostle Void. The main problem with the old "lyrics" is they are not really phrased to fit song structures; I was not a songwriter then and I didn't understand that free form poetry writing is difficult to blend with musical time signatures.

At what stage in your life did you become interested in writing poems and song lyrics?
In fifth or sixth grade I used to write abstract humorous poems/lyrics to make people smile. I remember titles like "Premonitions Of Manure" and "Sweaty Indians"; stupid shit that made people say “what the fuck”. The interesting part of it is that these early works required a lot of imagery to be brought to life through the words in order to paint the humorous scene;  I still believe the right words can convey a visual masterpiece in the mind, and there doesn't need to be a lot of them. Anyway, I usually got the responses I was seeking from people, so I just continued and the poems matured as I got older.

How much of a transition was it to merge your free form poetry into song/verse structure?
In high school I became interested in punk and metal; it was around this time that I started writing "lyrics" for the pretend bands in my mind's eye. Aside from the first Séance demo in 1989, I really didn't need to do much conversion of my own poetry into actual lyrics. Once Apostle Void formed, I learned very quickly how to structure words into working meter to fit song formats. At this minute I am re-structuring J. Noti's free form words into a song for the latest project, Kerns.  He is an extremely talented artist with the brush and the pen, but lately he's expanded to poetry/lyric writing. As a beginner writer and new to writing for music, he needs his stuff altered to fit the flow of the songs. I also did this type of thing extensively in Darling Lemuria with Lady Lilith's poetry. To put things into perspective, a read through of a lot of new wave black metal lyrics from the 90's "Scandinavian" movement reveals a lot of free form type stuff; this worked because the vocals were often times non-melodic and without much structure. Turn back to the 80s and read Venom or early Bathory lyrics and you'll find a greater poetic flow... even just reading them. It stands to reason that the later bands’ songs are far more catchy and easier to sing along to. "In the Woods" is comprised of a 120 poems; the easiest thing to do would be to listen to Apostle Void's "The Razor's Edge" or "A River of Salt", both of which are posted on the Lucy Poems Channel on Youtube. The lyrics for these are taken directly from the "In the Woods" epic.

How long had you been friends with Omen before the time you worked with him professionally?
Omen was this skinny, long haired, British rocker kid who would drift into the college student center from time to time. I heard he was a guitar player, and I wanted to learn how to play the guitar I owned. He said that he would teach me and the two of us would get together in empty classrooms and work with music. We were both loners and hit it off as friends and music was the sun holding us in orbit. I believe this would have been in either 1987 or 1988. He was the initial person to teach me both how to play an instrument and how to construct songs. To this day, he is also the most skilled and well-rounded musician I've ever met.

Was there a conceptual storyline connecting all three demos released by Apostle Void?
It was actually difficult to be conceptual with Apostle Void. When I first met Valentine, she was this rebellious punk/goth girl with a definite leaning for the occult and a generally happy disposition. She brought a lot to early AV lyrically and she had tons of live energy, but she also had an evolving personality. She left the band in '91 and by the time she returned in '92, Omen and I had most of the music and lyrics worked out for the new songs. So, her lyrical input was not as strongly felt on the second demo. When Apostle Void reunited in '96, I was sure to put her back up front for "The Myth Of The Eternal Return" release; she wrote all the words for this one and we put the focus back on her sexuality. Her lyrics were heavily influenced by world mythologies at this point, and her voice had softened. Apostle Void was a constantly changing, ever volatile pot. In 2005 we couldn't even finish an album together because of disagreements between Omen and I. In 2012 we couldn't work it out either... we wouldn't have had the patience to work on anything long or drawn out conceptually... too much anxiousness, too much flux.

Considering the setbacks you experienced with your band members, would you prefer to work solo or search for musicians to work with in more of a stable lineup?
It is always good to know that I can work completely solo and in the past, I have. I prefer to work with at least one other person. I like female vocals and I'm always in pursuit of a female singer; this process has become tougher as I get older because time does separate the older from the younger, and I always prefer the energy and sexuality of a young person to front the project. Since I've not had much luck in securing a new beauty to sing, I have turned to doing the vocals for my solo stuff and Séance. I don't mind being a front person because it gives me the opportunity to flex my own charisma; in the past, I've always been in the background with the music. In the latest project, Kerns, I've once again picked up the guitars and handed the vocals over to J. Noti.

Would you ever consider compiling material from your bands for a “best of” compilation of sorts?
I made "best of" comps, usually by request. Somebody will ask me how to get this old demo or that, and I'll just end up sending them a "best of" CD because all the cassette stuff is long gone. I haven't thought of any sort of serious marketing, however.

When did you get into contact with J. Noti and how did it come to be that he became the vocallst for Kerns?
J. Noti and I met in sixth grade. He beat me up on the Kerns' front lawn and we've been the best of friends ever since. We used to draw comics and cartoons together, being influenced by Richard Corben and other underground artists in those years. He stayed with art and became a professional and I strayed to music and stayed underground! Noti, The Carrion and I released a demo together under the name The New Betters in 1997. It was an improv punk project done in two sessions; Noti did the vocals as Oscar Newbetter, The Carrion and I just traded out the strings (as Cyril and Elvis Newbetter respectively) while The Carrion did the drums and I did the words. We released one cassette demo called "Hardcorasians". Now we just say "The New Betters are too good for the place, so send in the Kerns".

Describe the gestation of Kerns and what you mean to accomplish with this new project. How long has Kerns existed this far?
About a year ago, Noti approached me with the idea of forming a project called Backed Up Toilets, where he could express himself vocally, lyrically and artistically. He has since changed the concept and band name to Kerns and has come up with some stunning CD covers. I finally wrote the music to our first song! Everything seems ready to go for our debut four song EP, except the other three songs! No, the point of Kerns is to mesh art and music... the two paths we have taken. It is also a return to "fun" for me after the last grueling Séance record. Kerns will have something to say, but it will be with a "happy-go-lucky" punk attitude. I see the project as a more refined New Betters; a mature incarnation for the 2000s. This project also allows him to slip out from under the paint brush for a while and to work on music; God knows he's helped me lay out tons of my band's album covers including the last two Séance releases.

Who is The Carrion and what is your history with him before you and he began working together in Kerns?
The Carrion was a multi-instrumentalist with a great love for the drums. He was really big into the punk and hardcore scene of the 80s. He went by Paul Meatsquats in those days and was founding member of the band Russian Meatsquats. They put out a vinyl record back in the day. Anyway, he was a friend of Valentine and he played drums with Apostle Void for a series of gigs in 1990. He also played on our first demo "Bridge Of Souls" the same year. In 1996, Valentine, The Carrion, and I reunited Apostle Void and recorded "The Myth Of The Eternal Return"; we did this one without Omen as he was living in Florida doing Roses For Isabella. It was during this time that I renamed him The Carrion; I was in charge of putting the cassette covers together and when I saw his imposing figure dressed in a hooded cultist's robe, that name popped into my mind! He was a gentle guy and would never have agreed to the name change, so I did the whole thing behind his back. The name "Paul" would have been too plain for Apostle Void. He stayed onboard with me for several years and played drums on Savior Sect's "Lis Ard" (demo  ’97), "Fury From The Shadows" (demo '98), and "Troubadours Of Death" (demo '98); he also played drums on Cult of the Lizard God's "Blood Red Winter" (demo '96) and "The War Machines" (demo '98) as well The New Betters' demo mentioned above in '97. He eventually became a mailman and fell into long, stressful hours; he left Darling Lemuria in '99 without recording anything for the demo. I ran into him on the road one day while I was recording Savior Sect's "Til Daisydays" album late in '99. I invited him to record on the album, but he said he'd given up drumming due to his hectic schedule; that was the last time I ever saw him. He is not a member of Kerns. I will say that he was the most creative drummer I ever worked with... a real artist.

Did Russian Meatsquats release just one full length when it was active? If you have heard this release, what does it sound like?
It was a vinyl album called "Let's Hang Out". They had their fifteen minutes of fame in the late 80s. We used to look up to Paul because he actually had a studio record with distribution; in the late 80s and early 90s that was a big deal because good recording equipment was expensive and money was scarce. I have the vinyl album in my collection, but I've not listened to it in some time. I remember it being humorous, party style American hardcore. Paul (aka The Carrion) was not a dark guy; he played in my projects because he loved the drums and could put creative parts to my atmospheric music. He didn't really want to be part of the black metal underground of the 90s; he was there by default. Anyway, I'm sure there's some Russian Meatsquats stuff posted on Youtube for all to watch.

Was Darling Lemuria another of your band projects? How much history has this project experienced, including releases and lineups?
Darling Lemuria formed in 1997, I think. It was when Anastasia disappeared after the recording of "Lis Ard" for Savior Sect. Lady Lilith filled in on vocals for the new material I had been writing. We recorded five songs together before Anastasia returned to SS. Four of the songs were re-recorded for Savior Sect's "Fury from the Shadows" demo, and the original Darling Lemuria tape went unreleased. In 1999, Anastasia and I parted ways for good, and I hooked up with Lady Lilith again for both Darling Lemuria and for a relationship.  Another unreleased demo followed as I fell for Phaedra and restarted Savior Sect with her on vocals.

By what process did Backed Up Toilets progress and eventually become Kerns?
Backed Up Toilets and Kerns are, for all intents and purposes, the same. The real Kerns were a dysfunctional neighborhood family from Noti's and my youth. Noti controls the concepts of this project so the name was changed at his whim. I am strictly the music here; Kerns is a duo and it actually mirrors the Séance approach to things. In the latter band I control the concepts and lyrics while Omen focuses on the musical end. This method of shifting responsibilities works out as the different people get to express themselves through different mediums and through different projects.
Is there anything you want to reveal about the first song you composed for this new project?

The new song is called "Broken Toy" and appears to be about a pregnant woman who gets passed around the punk community. Again, these are Noti's visions. From a musical prospective, it combines punk with my usual sense of weirdness. Throughout the attempted Savior Sect reunion of 2012/2013, I would write the odd punk song to keep Anastasia happy. When this get-together flopped, all the recorded efforts ended up on my solo album "Tales That Witness Madness". Those who enjoy tracks like "Black Cat Soup", "Rat Head", and "Devil Driver" will like what I'm writing for Kerns... fast, energetic psych punk.

When was Tales That Witness Madness released and what lyrical content did you compose for "Black Cat Soup", "Rat Head", and "Devil Driver"? How many other songs are on this CD in addition to those?
"Tales that Witness Madness" was the result of four sessions of Savior Sect reunion material I had written between 2012 and 2013, plus one track written for my friend, Jackie, to sing, which she never did. Seventeen songs total appear on this CD. It was released as a solo album in 2013; my first effort under Lucy Poems. Because this was intended to be a Savior Sect release, there are many references to previous SS outings including the characters of Midnight and The Filterman. "Tales..." is a pulp horror album and as such I did strive to create memorable characters. Creatures like Flower Mary, Debbie Good Hat, and Captain Ken also appear multiple times throughout the album; I believed that this was going to be the long awaited Savior Sect reunion record, so I wanted to build on the myth and add new characters. The Rat Head and the Devil Driver were also minor characters on the CD. The Devil Driver has expanded to become a central character in Seance's new CD, "Where The Gigolos Roam". See, you can always build on a theme; what was minor at one moment can be elevated to major significance at the next. The Devil Driver is a living example.

How did you think up and develop the characters appearing on Tales That Witness Madness?
I'm a huge fan of pulp sci-fi and horror. I've read a lot of HP Lovecraft, Robert Chambers, Micheal Moorcock, Stephen King, Fritz Leiber, John Cleeve and others. I just like when imaginary monsters and weird worlds collide with this one. I believe this has been referred to as "cosmic horror"; supernatural evil existing beyond the fringes of our world. Interestingly enough, my conversion to Christianity actually adds a sense of dread realism and tension to my writing as Satan is the most famous intangible horror of all. Anyway, during the recording of "Tales that Witness Madness" I was digesting large quantities of pulp fiction. I learned that the most terrifying adversaries are not the undead roaming the streets and graphically eating people, nor are they crazy mutant hillbillies cutting victim's limbs off, but instead, they are those vague things lurking out of sight and in the shadows. I wanted to create forces of dire malignancy that remain mysterious throughout the album's duration.  I want the listener to ask just "what is Flower Mary?" or "what is Debbie Good Hat?" or The Filterman? or Captain Ken?

In what form will The Devil Driver be making an appearance on Where The Gigolos Roam?
On "Tales..." I wrote a short punkabilly track called "Devil Driver" about a 1950's anti-hero type guy. It was originally written as a duet between the Devil Driver and the women who love him, but I couldn't find a female singer after Anastasia's no-show. I ended up recording all the vocals on the finished track and it didn't make a difference. Anyway, I started rediscovering the 50's decade over the last year and gradually the character of the Devil Driver became a sort of alter ego for me; I started feeling the character as a fictionalized vision of myself.  Since I was heavily involved with the Séance project, it didn't take much time for me to develop the character in songs like "Wheels Of Thunder", "Requiem For The Devil Driver", and "For All Souls Departed". The character also has more personal (and less obvious) ties to the tracks "She Steals The Sun" and "Remember Last Summer". The cover of Séance’s "Where The Gigolos Roam" CD is also a depiction of the Devil Driver.

Your description of terrifying adversaries explains why many moviegoers liked The Blair Witch Project when it was released in 1999. It was left to you to use your imagination and decide for yourself who the villain is. MTV spearheaded a backlash against it, but it turned out to be one of horror’s most influential movies since Night Of The Living Dead and The Exorcist. What other movies do you consider most influential?
Lady Lilith and I went to see The Blair Witch Project when it first opened. The production style was so new and different (remember, Cannibal Holocaust was not readily available in those days) that you weren't sure if the footage was actually real. That made it scarier yet!  I like that movie a lot. Darling Lemuria (Lady Lilith and I) wrote the song "Witch's Woods" after we saw that film. I didn't need the last year to discover 1950's horror/sci-fi, I grew up on that stuff. The 50's offered the best monster movies, hands down, followed by the decade of the 1980’s, when the classic monster movie was being rediscovered. The 70's offered a lot of supernatural occult style thrillers. In the 70’s you had "Jaws", "Star Wars", "The Exorcist", and "Alien" lighting the box offices on fire. I like all of those films, yet there is much to be said about the low budget Corman-type spin-offs circulating around the 70’s and well into the 80’s. There are so many underground classics from those decades. I don't know where to begin with the 70’s; there was so much ground covered and still so much ground to be explored. I will say I was heavily influenced in my youth by films such as “Flesh Gordon", "Caligula", and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

What aspects of 50s horror have you been rediscovering?
Okay, turning back to the 50’s is always a good thing creatively for both film and music; the ideas were usually simple yet innovative; there was a fair degree of repetition amongst ideas, the budgets were usually low; the clothing/hair styles were extremely sexual and cool... everything listed above captures the story of my life as an artist/entertainer! I have incorporated the 1950's into Seance as much as possible: the fashion, the storylines, the black and white, the monsters, the ridiculous robots and machines, and Omen has even thrown in the odd 50's lick for the sake of the music. We discussed the possibility of doing a rockabilly album for Seance, but I'm not sure if this will come about. "Where The Gigolos Roam" was a vast piece of experimentation for us, and at this early stage I'm not sure if it was a successful one. I wouldn't mind returning to just something more rock based! Though, 50's style stuff would be nice. I think when an underground act spends an undue amount of time on one record, it has the potential to cause tension among the participants. I'd rather have fun and move forward even if the songs are simple; this is the attitude I have about Kerns... back to punk... which has its roots in 50's rock'n'roll. Sorry, I'm getting off track here. Yeah, the horror element of the 50’s was usually a tangible one, either a giant radioactive monster or an alien threat from outer space while the protagonists were either scientists or military men. While I enjoy this format immensely; my own horror stories hearken back further in time. "Tales That Witness Madness" was a nod the Lovecraft and Chambers. Creatures like Yog-Sothoth and The King In Yellow are horrible outer worldly evils, yet the writers are so deliberately vague, that the reader knows virtually nothing about them. The same can be said of dark places like R'lyeh, Kadath, Leng, and Carcosa. These things are usually not part of the main action of the story, but mentioned in "whispers", as if even greater horror exists somewhere "out there". Which brings us full circle to something like The Blair Witch Project.

The Misfits was one band that paid loads of tribute to 50’s horror, from their lyrics to their stage presence as zombie greasers. How much do you believe they contributed to punk?
I have been a fan since high school; I love all three incarnations. They have everything going for them: catchy songs, a great image (particularly when Jerry and Doyle were younger), and a cool 50's horror backdrop. They have been influential on both punk and black metal; "Earth AD/Wolf's Blood" was a stepping stone to BM for me and I discovered Venom shortly after playing my copy of that record to death. The Misfits have had a spiritual effect on Séance; we dabble in the odd horror song like "Another Birthday, Lisa" on the new record, which is a direct sequel to "26(66) - The Birthday Song", another frightening track from the 1989 demo. We also recorded "Cinnamon Fido" a while back; a song about a devil dog or hell hound.  With Séance; however, I'm also just as much influenced by the punk music/image of Social Distortion during their greaser years of the early 90’s. I'd say most of all I'm influenced by my own imaginary vision of the 50’s; it's Hollywood at the end of the day: Elvis, James Dean, Misfits, Social Distortion, Johnny Cash, John Travolta's Grease, and others are all in orbit around the central sun of my mind.

There was another movie called The Last Broadcast that was likewise similar to Blair Witch, but the ending is vastly different. You’ll have to see it since I don’t want to ruin the finale for you. How important is the element of mystery in horror to you?
I have not seen "The Last Broadcast" yet. It's another thing to check out; always something new and interesting. As mentioned above, mystery is important to horror. For the record, I really like zombie movies and hillbilly horror movies and have seen a ton of them spanning the decades, but you just can't lose with the mysterious sense of unknown terror. Again, this stuff is best captured in the literary works of HP Lovecraft and Robert Chambers, but I do so enjoy films like "Primal Impulse" (aka "Footprints on the Moon"), "Satan's Supper" (aka "The Nightmare Never Ends"), "Storm Of The Century" and some others like "Messiah Of Evil". These movies seem to capture a small piece of the intangible mystery we discussed. Horror without blood, and maybe even a little slow moving, but really dark underlying terror none-the-less.

What speaks to you about the writings of HP Lovecraft and Robert Chambers, and have they been influential to your lyric writing in any way? Which fiction pieces by them did you most often read?
Both have influenced my lyrics. Savior Sect has the song "Dead Cthulhu Waits Dreaming" from '95 and Cult Of The Lizard God has "Gates to Yog-Sothoth" and "The Coming of Nyarlathotep" from '96. I also had the original Vale Of Pnath project from the 90’s and released a demo called "Hymn Of The Plants" in '98. Another demo from '99 called "Green River Killer" was never completed and therefore unreleased. On my solo album, songs like "Lemur" and "Black Cat Soup" pay tribute to these authors as does the track "Death Is Paler Still" from Seance.  My own scary characters are also rooted in the writings of these gentlemen; their work is a constant influence on my own creativity and horror writing. I like all their weird fiction, but I'm partial to certain stories. Lovecraft's "The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward", "The Whisperer In Darkness", "At The Mountains Of Madness", "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", "The Dreams In The Witch House", and "The Dunwich Horror" are great stories that come to mind. With Chambers you have the fantastic "The Repairer Of Reputations" along with "The Yellow Sign", "The Mask", "In The Court Of The Dragon", "The Maker Of Moons", "The Messenger" and "The Sign Of Venus".  The list for both authors can continue on and on...great stuff.

What did you like about all those stories you listed? Is there anything else you want to relate about your Vale Of Pnath project?
With the Lovecraft stories, we usually find the main character being deceived by minions who serve even greater darkness. In "The Case of..." we see young Charles being deceived by an resurrected evil ancestor; in "The Whisperer..." we see Akeley fooled by the creatures from Yuggoth; in "The Dreams..." we see Gilman being possessed by the ancient witch, Keziah, and by her master, Nyarlathotep. Chambers on the other hand was a little more romantic and perhaps a little more hopeful, yet the second act of the ominous play, The King in Yellow, definitely has detrimental effects on the sanity of the characters within several of the stories. Whether real or imagined, the mysterious malign entity called The King In Yellow has influence over the antagonists in "Repairer Of Reputations" as well as the characters in "The Yellow Sign". The poem "Cassilda's Song" is the best description Chambers offers the reader about the nightmare realms of The King In Yellow. Robert Chambers was just "out there"; he was not as consistently negative nor as consistently terrifying as HP Lovecraft, but he wrote a lot of really strange and off the wall stuff. Vale Of Pnath was a short lived musical effort for me. I copped the name from one of Lovecraft's darkest regions of the Dreamlands found in the novella, "The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath".  Back in the 90’s, during the heyday of the dark underground, people were trying really hard to be part of the scene. A lot of non-musicians were just picking up synthesizers and making creepy noises and putting cool titles to the results. If they recorded their stuff, they had a demo for trade or review, and at the end of the day, they were part of the scene. This experimentation gave birth to the ritual/ambient genre. Some people were very adept at it (Tem Oph Ab and others) and some were just having fun (Glacial Empire, Dark Woods, etc). Anyway, I wanted to try my hand at it, so I grabbed my synth and started creating creepy atmospheres. Vale Of Pnath had no drums, no bass, no vocals, and only a smattering of guitar distortion... pure ritual ambience. I recorded a five song demo called "Hymn Of The Plants" in 1998; this was a conceptual piece about Earth's vegetation attacking mankind and ultimately killing off the human race. Back in the day I would not accept money for this demo tape; it was strictly a "trade only" item. If you had nothing good to trade, you did not get a copy. In 1999, I started on a full length follow-up release called "Green River Killer" and recorded five more tunes before losing interest in the genre... by '99 the underground was starting a downward spiral anyway. I understand there is a more famous Vale Of Pnath band these days... no matter, they have helped my hits on Youtube!

How many other projects have you written and recorded with that haven’t been covered here?
There were a few others. When Apostle Void broke up, I formed Garden Of Denial (more commonly known as G.O.D.). I played bass and wrote quite a few songs for this band. We recorded a demo in '93 called "Only You, My Terrible Summer" which featured Sean S. of Apostle Void and Savior Sect on drums. We recorded another in '94 called "Our Small Circle of Fear". They kicked me out of my own band and continued on short while without me. Cain (from G.O.D.) and I did a two song BM promo together in '96 under the name Black Cross (taken from a G.O.D. song title). Dave Sweet (of Savior Sect), a metalhead named Mark and I did a one off ridiculous drunken BM project called Ancient Summoning. I believe we were going to pretend to the world that we were evil Mexicans or something like that... convince people that we were the most true and insane black metal band out there... as only Mexicans could be!!!  When we sobered up, we realized it was a pretty stupid idea and "Storm Of Inverted Crosses" demo '98 went unreleased. Last but not least was my solo goth project, Not Anubis. I recorded the "Once More The Spectral Staircase" demo in "95; I recorded the "To Glam Everfade" demo in '96 and finally a promo called "And He Shall Bear The Semblance Of Men" in '97. Since this project was 100% me, I contemplated reviving the Not Anubis name for my 2013 solo demo, but ultimately decided against it.

How long did Garden Of Denial continue after your departure? What’s the story of the other members firing you?
Ha ha... I was fired from the band I created in the spring of '94. Throughout the '93 lineup of G.O.D., Magnus (guitar) and I shared the song writing duties; he wrote half of the material and I wrote half. We wrote lyrics for our own songs respectively. When Cain replaced Magnus on guitar in 1994, the bulk of the music/lyric writing fell on me. Sean S. was put in charge of booking shows and I told him I'll play anywhere but this dump called Scarlett's as the owners dicked Apostle Void big time in '92. The first thing he did was to book a series of shows at that very venue! Being the gentleman I am, I said I'd show up to play bass, but I would not participate in selling the tickets. The three remaining members said I was a poor sport towards the band's interests and they told me to leave the premises; we practiced at the singer's house so I obliged. They did go on to play the shows without me as I later saw the videos; I'd actually like to have copies of those as I'm such a completest; and they wrote at least one new song called "Death In The Future" as well as adding a bunch of covers (because they were not prolific writers).  I went on to form Savior Sect which I had been longing to do throughout all of '94 anyway. I was tired of G.O.D.'s punk/metal limitations and was heavily influenced by Siouxsie And The Banshees at that time. Even before I was a Christian, I was very forgiving and I never held grudges for long. I went on work heavily with Sean S. in the second incarnation of Savior Sect; he helped me out a lot during the period of the early to mid- 2000s. I also made peace with Cain and Damien in later years, though I only worked with Cain one other time in Black Cross.

Would you consider releasing the Black Cross demo today, just so fans of your new projects can hear it? Or would you consider the material too out of date next to what you are doing today?
Black Cross put out a BM promo in '96 (maybe?); it was called "Brother Satan Ponders" and contained the tracks "Long Black Winter" and "Wood Demon's Forest". Cain played guitar and did most of the lead vocals while I played bass, synth, and contributed co-vocals to the second track. There would be no reason to re-release this effort and nor have I posted this stuff on Youtube. A few diehard completists of my catalogue do own these tracks and I believe you can find them somewhere online, perhaps along with the Ancient Summoning demo! The stuff is out there to find.

How were your lyrics for Not Anubis similar and different to the lyrics you penned for your other projects?
Not Anubis was very similar to late 1990's Savior Sect except I do the singing, and my vocal style was very different in those days; one of the reasons I opted not to recycle the Not Anubis name for the new solo record. Anastasia pulled several "disappearing acts" during her time in SS; this freed me up to write Not Anubis material in the dead time. I was influenced heavily by "Blood Sucking Pharaohs In Pittsburgh" and any other Jane Hamilton/Veronica Hart film; the project was based around my fascination for her and her work; another element missing from my new solo record and another reason not to re-use the name Not Anubis.

How do you intend to develop as a musician and lyricist?
Development comes naturally with time and my current spheres of influence. When you've only learned three or four covers in your life, you are not swayed by the techniques of others, but instead you develop your own style which changes slightly over time. My current music does not sound exactly like what I was playing in the 90's nor in the early 2000s, but elements of those songs are still present. A Poems song will always sound like a Poems song regardless of anything. Again, time will tell what directions I will take; that's part of the excitement.

Do you plan to start any new projects in the days to come? How far would you take your work musically and how would you want to be remembered as an artist?
I only plan Kerns for the time being, or if Omen is up for more work with Séance in the future; these two projects are my goals for now. When I was young, I was impatient for great things to happen with my music, but now I am older and wiser and take small things like music day by day. It is fun to write a song or work with other musicians and artists... to serve your friends when they need a hand. I don't think much beyond getting the current effort finished and when that one is done, I post the songs on my Youtube channel or my Facebook page and move on to the next project. How do I want to be remembered as a musician? Perhaps that people say: "Yeah, Poems, he was a pretty cool cat."

Lucy Poems

-Dave Wolff

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