Litany: Interview Archive

Cherry, Robert. "Skinny Puppy Lets Sleeping Dogs Lie." Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 12 November 2004, Friday! Magazine, pg. 6.

Skinny Puppy
When: 9 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
Opener: Otto Von Schirach.
Tickets: $22.50 advance, $25 day of show, available through Ticketmaster. Call 216-241-5555 (Cleveland), 330-945-9400 (Akron).

Skinny Puppy’s demise was as friction-filled as its music.

By all (somewhat differing) accounts, the recording of 1996’s “The Process” was an unpleasant affair for everyone involved. The industrial-rock pioneers experienced a series of all-time lows characterized by communication breakdown, a revolving cast of producers and a hex placed on the band by the doomsday cult whose name it had appropriated for the album’s title.

Then, keyboardist Dwayne Goettel died of a heroin overdose.

Upon the album’s release, the Skinny Puppy’s surviving core, vocalist Nivek Ogre and keyboardist Cevin Key, drifted into separate projects and aired their grievances via the press. After 14 years and 12 albums, the influential Puppy – without whom we might never have heard of Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson – was unceremoniously put to sleep.

Breath-holding was not recommended for fans awaiting a reunion.

But now, eight years later, the band least likely to reunite has done just that. In 2000, Key and Ogre accepted a high-figure payout to re-form for a German music fest. Post-gig, they realized they actually had enjoyed themselves. Not content to rest on their laurels, they recorded their most accessible (in relative terms) album to date, “The Greater Wrong of the Right,” and now they’re back on the road.

And all without the need for Aerosmith-style group therapy.

“The band ended without notice, and we didn’t think we’d have another opportunity to do another album,” says Key. “It was a surprise to be able to pick it up again. Our working capacity is pretty special when we’re making music; that’s something we appreciated and respected.”

“In the past, we had a lack of respect for each other,” says Ogre. “It’s nothing new; it exists in all bands. Both of us are far less reactive now, and we’re willing to listen to each other’s point of view. Since Skinny Puppy has always been about a particular mindset at a given time, we have no reason to revisit our past. It’s about right now.”

That’s not entirely true. To move forward, Key took inspiration from one of his favorite bands: Skinny Puppy.

“It wasn’t about making commercial music; it was almost about anti-music. So when it came time to make an album again, I pulled out all the old equipment to see what would come out of it. I think in the past, it was more about chance. Now it’s about helping to steer chance a little.”

So the synthesizers are no longer in control?

“They think they are,” he says with a laugh. “And I let them think that.”

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