Litany: Interview Archive

Cherry, Robert. "Ex-Skinny Puppy Ogre has Sense and Sensitivities". Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 8 June 2001, Friday! Magazine, pg. 18.

CONCERT PREVIEW: ohGr
When: 9 p.m. tomorrow
Where: Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Ave.
Tickets: $22.50, available at the box office and Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone, 216-241-5555 (Cleveland) or 330-945-9400 (Akron)

"I tend to sacrifice myself for other people's emotions," admits Kevin Ogilvie, aka Ogre, defining his role as a musician. "I don't know if that represents empathy or just some sick masochistic tendency."

Whichever the case, Ogre has also sacrificed himself, in a sense, to further cutting-edge music. Though he calls his latest project "ohGr," the singer is best known as the frontman for Skinny Puppy, a band that helped pioneer industrial rock. Ogre's effects-treated howl and theatrical stage presentation influenced countless acts, some of which were better able to market the style for greater profit.

Nine Inch Nails' "Down In It," for instance, the song that won Trent Reznor a recording contract in the late '80s, bears a strong resemblance to Skinny Puppy's 1986 track, "Dig It."

And Marilyn Manson's stilt-walking routine was a part of Ogre's stage performance years before the Antichrist Superstar borrowed the act. While those artists went on to sell millions of albums, Skinny Puppy remained a cult band.

"Cracker," a Kraftwerk-style pop song on ohGr's debut album, "Welt," seemingly takes a shot at those Puppy imitators: "You think you're evil, but you're not," sings Ogre. "Still sucking life from the mainstream . . .You're so deluded, give it up. It's unoriginal."

Ogre, however, skirts the issue, claiming the track "explores the psychological dilemma of speaking out and projecting your own fears on others."

"I'm quite happy to have passed the paper on down the line," he says of his influence on other musicians. "And I can honestly say I'm happy with the time I've been afforded. Anything above what's already been achieved is icing."

His latest achievement picks up where Skinny Puppy left off - at least chronologically. When the band imploded following the tumultuous sessions for 1996's "The Process," Ogre began collaborating with producer Mark Walk, who'd previously worked with industrial-rock supergroup Pigface and trip-hop chanteuse Ruby.

"Mark is a very creative, enigmatic musician," says Ogre. "We first connected on a personal level in Malibu during the recording of 'The Process.' The time was quite chaotic for me, and he had a calming effect."

Though still musically challenging, ohGr represents the vocalist's most accessible project to date, working from the blueprint established by synth-pop pioneers like Kraftwerk and Gary Numan, rather than industrial innovators like Throbbing Gristle and Caberet Voltaire. Ogre and Walk's harmonious personal dynamic might account for the radical difference between ohGr and the friction-filled Skinny Puppy.

"I probably suffer from having too much emotion," Ogre says of the dynamic. "Mark pulls a lot of that back in and makes me focus."

Surprisingly, for one who describes himself as the emotional side of the collaboration, Ogre still prefers to work with synthesizers and computers to create his music. For him, it's a matter of practicality - and maybe personal sanity.

"Machines offer fewer complications in the creative process, and reduce the number of cooks to one or two. With this project, that approach (provided a)cohesive creative connection that enhanced the final product."

Ogre and Walk already have another album's worth of material ready for release, but for now they plan to support "Welt" on the road.

A strong champion of animal rights, Ogre leaves behind a menagerie of pets when he tours, including a domesticated squirrel. Who takes care of the animals while he's out sacrificing himself for his art?

"Everyone is very cool; my wife is looking after them," he says.

And the squirrel?

"The squirrel has a new four-level super-condominium with a hammock and a Santa Monica mountain view."

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