Monday, December 18, 2017

Interview with Patrick of THE LONG LOSTS by Dave Wolff

Interview with Patrick of THE LONG LOSTS

Let’s start this interview by discussing what the Long Losts happened to do for Halloween last month. Were there any local shows or events you were a part of?
October is usually a busy month for us. We kicked off the month playing at the Peabody Essex Museum In Salem, Massachusetts, and we introduced a screening of The Haunting (1963) as a part of Salem Horror Fest which was in conjunction with the museum’s “It’s Alive” exhibition. It was an exhibition of horror art and memorabilia from Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett’s huge personal collection. It was a fun show and the museum told us we were the first rock band to ever play there. That show was on the same day we released our second album To night... We played the release show at The Red Party, a Goth night at the Mercury Lounge in New York City. We also played a Witches Ball in New Jersey, a Halloween event in Pennsylvania and then finished up the month returning to Salem to play a Goth night there called DARQ. The night of Halloween itself we took a break and stayed in. We watched horror movies and ate sweets.

The Long Losts’ two members are also husband and wife. Were you married before or after you started writing and recording together? What gave you the idea to start a project?
We got married in October of 2013, a year after we started The Long Losts. I had been playing and writing in punk bands for almost ten or twelve years. I wanted to switch gears and do something with Anka so we could spend more time together. That said, we didn't set out to do a band or go out and perform only that we would make a song or two. We both loved punk and gothic rock so subconsciously we melded the two as we started to write. We started with a two song demo that we handed out wherever we had an opportunity. Then we kept writing and recording over the next two years till eventually we had enough songs to make what would become our first album, "Scary Songs To Play In the Dark."

You play a theatrical style of Goth that incorporates punk and Victorian themes. The lyrics celebrate all things associated with autumn, Halloween and dark romance.
We set out to write about ourselves as a couple and the things we love. We both love Halloween, Goth and punk music, gothic horror literature, poetry and movies. We brought all that to the music. Mixed with that is our thoughts feelings and memories that we want to preserve in a song. We would mine our lives for things we wanted to share or remember forever. By putting the songs out into the world we're telling our story. The best response we get is when our story is someone else's as well. When someone says that a particular song speaks to who they are or something they're going through, it warms our black hearts.

Do your listeners often tell you they relate to your lyrics as if the song was their own story?
It’s a great compliment and feeling to make that kind of connection with someone. Just when you think you might be alone in a feeling or situation you meet someone who makes you realize you’re not. Music can be so beautiful like that. In bringing people together.

How long have you and Anka lived in New York? What was the Goth scene’s attraction for you, and how has your involvement in the scene enriched your lives?
We both grew up on Long Island and lived in NYC for about ten years. We felt at home in the goth scene, not just with the band but personally as well. With people who shared our interests and we felt comfortable being ourselves. We've made a lot of great friends in the scene through doing the band and for that we're very thankful.

Discuss the events you played last month, starting with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and their It’s Alive exhibition.
As the museum described it, the It's Alive exhibition explored the interplay of creativity, emotion and popular culture through 135 works from 20th-century cinema, including posters by an international array of graphic designers, rare works by unidentified masters as well as related memorabilia such as electric guitars, lobby cards, film props and costumes.
The Haunting screening was part of Salem Horror Fest which was a separately organized event but in partnership with the Peabody Essex. They wanted to combine dark entertainers with screenings of horror movies and panels with authors, journalists and celebrities. We performed before the Haunting, then after they had a panel to discuss the film.

How often is The Red Party held at the Mercury Lounge? Describe what happens and who appears at this event.
The Red Party happens at the Mercury Lounge the second Saturday of every month. It consists of resident and guest DJs playing Goth, deathrock and post-punk music. Most months they have a band perform at midnight. This month they had a band called Entertainment from Georgia, next month they have the Pawns from California. In March they're having Clan of Xymox.

What deejays of note are regular fixtures at The Red Party? From what you know, are the turnouts at these events sizable?
Sean Templar, Matt V Christ, Erik Aengel, Jarek, Patrick Cusack and other guests DJ at the Red Party fairly often. There’s always a great turnout and a fun time till the wee hours of the morning.

Describe the Salem Goth scene from your appearance at DARQ? Is DARQ a yearly event there?
The Goth scene in Salem is undead and kicking. That was our third time playing there. DARQ is a monthly event as well, held at KOTO. Of course Salem in October is always nuts bringing in people from all over the country but there are area goths and dark alternative people living there and nearby places in Massachusetts who make up the local scene. There are great dark artists and independent shops we love to visit when we go like Black Veil Tattoo, Witch City Wicks, Covens Cottage and many more. We always enjoy going to and playing in Salem.

In what ways does your songwriting and composing set you apart from most Goth and punk bands?
I'm not sure what the approach is from band to band. So it's hard to compare. I often wonder what the process is for certain bands. It's funny I ran into Kenny Hickey from Type O Negative the other day and tried to pick his brain about what their process was. For us our process isn't always the same. Some songs start as a guitar riff, a vocal melody, a song title or lyrics. Anka and I write a lot in our heads. Sometimes we text each other lyrics or song ideas we recorded into our phones. It might be just something we hummed.

The Long Losts’ lyrics have a literary feel accompanying the music. Which poets and authors inspire The Long Losts musically and lyrically?
Poe, Lovecraft, Baudelaire to name a few classic ones. Our lyrics are like stories with a beginning, middle and end. There's usually a linear progression within the song laying out a situation and then at the end how it turned out. Creating an atmosphere and then telling a story is usually our goal lyrically.

Poe and Lovecraft often pop up when I interview poets and lyricists. Which of their works (and those of Baudelaire) have had the most profound effect on the band?
With Poe, Spirits Of the Dead, Alone and Haunted Palace. Lovecraft: Nemesis and Halloween In A Suburb. Baudelaire: Sadness Of the Moon. Ray Bradbury is a big influence as you can see in our song October Country.

Where in October Country does Ray Bradbury’s influence appear? Does his influence turn up in other songs?
All of October Country is inspired by Ray Bradbury’s book of the same name. His influence can also be felt in our songs Those Who Hear It and They Only Come Out At Night.

Was your two song debut demo recorded independently or did you search for a recording studio? What songs were recorded and how many copies were distributed?
Just like our new album, we recorded our first album ourselves, at home. It was totally DIY. The two song demo had the song If Only Boris Karloff Was My Dad which later landed up, as is, on our first album. The other song was At the Top Of Bishop's Grave which we re-recorded for our newest album To night... and renamed it Bishop's Grave.
I recorded the guitar by holding my 50 watt Crate guitar amp up to my laptop. We recorded the vocals the same way singing into the computers microphone. Like I said it was very lo-fi DIY. We didn't think anyone beyond the two of us and some friends would hear it really. Little did we know.
I can't recall how many of the demos we printed. Maybe a hundred or more. We handed them out ourselves at horror and steampunk conventions mostly.

Scary Songs To Play In The Dark and To night… sound produced professionally with top notch equipment. Was it an effort to achieve that sound with the equipment at your disposal?
It wasn't really an effort to make Scary Songs sound like it was produced in a studio. We took it for what it was being recorded by us at home. If it sounds professional to people I'm flattered, haha. With To night... we were more deliberate in trying to make it sound as good as we can. We did record under the same conditions as Scary Songs but this time around we had better equipment to work with, we got it mixed professionally etc. Also we were better musicians after three years since Scary Songs. We were more confident in ourselves going into the recording.

Discuss the tracks you consider to be the finest lyrical moments of Scary Songs. Are these likewise fan favorites?
We love of all the lyrics on Scary Songs. Fan favorites would have to be October Country, The Girl With the Haunted House Tattoo and To Be Like Lilly.

What equipment did you have to work with recording To night…? How have the last three years working together led to you improving as a band?
Just better microphones and software to work with. Performing live was key, it helped us play better, figure out our strengths which we could build upon and allowed us to test new songs.

Do you release your work on CD as well as streaming it on social media? Which format has helped you reach more listeners?
We release our music both on CD and digitally and streaming online. It’s a pretty even amount of sales between the different delivery methods.

In what ways did performing live help you find your strengths and where improvement was needed? Was audience reaction a factor? Is it just you and Anka in the band or do you sometimes play with additional musicians?
We started out with a band but it was too difficult to hold everyone together schedule-wise. So Anka and I went out as a duo. Performing live you get to stretch out and see where you shine and where you don't. What kind of songs and or parts spoke to the audience the most. We listen to each other and constantly improve on what we're doing.

Besides the venues you mentioned at the beginning of this interview, are there local clubs where you often appear? Are you familiar with the Vampire scene in the city? Do you have fans from those communities attending your performances?
We both had been to CBGB's many times. I've been to Batcave/Downtime a few times before it closed. We've only played the Red Party, the Court Of Lazarus and the Red Rum Ball in NYC. We are familiar with the vampire scene and we've played the Court Of Lazarus which is a small monthly event that happens at Madame X in NYC.

Where outside NYC would you want to appear next? Are you planning to eventually perform outside the U.S.?
We’re currently working on a West Coast tour for 2018. And possibly a European date or two. We’re looking to go to places we’ve yet to play.

Do you have ideas in mind for a new full length? How soon would you expect to start composing new songs to record?
We’re always writing. We probably have enough songs for another album. But we can’t say when they’ll be recorded or put out. We’re going to enjoy To night... for now.
-Dave Wolff

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