Litany: Interview Archive

Carras, Mark. "Ogre of..." Abrasive Rock, March (?) 2001.

Transcribed by: Sherri Carras

Mark Carras: One thing I noticed right away is that you're making no effort to live off the laurels of your old band. What made you want to try something different with this album?

Ogre: I think just time. A considerable amount of time has gone by since I was in Skinny Puppy. I think what I was talking about was basically it would have been really easy to make a record like Skinny Puppy and appeal to those sensibilities which may or may not be my sensibilities anymore to a certain degree, or may not be overt sensibilities that I wanted to play anymore. And also I've been working a bit more on the craft of I kind of pushed myself in that way as well.

Mark Carras: Now how did you and Mark hook up?

Ogre: We met during the recording of The Process, which was the last Skinny Puppy record. Prior to that he had worked on, although I hadn't worked with him, on one of the old Pigface records, which was Notes From the Underground. We kind of met and kind of saw eye to eye, and were on the same level, and so developed a friendship, and started working on music together.

Mark Carras: So is this a total 50/50 thing, or did he just help you out a little?

Ogre: It's definitely a collaboration. It's probably a 50/50 collaboration. He did a lot more of the production work, and stuff that he knows is kind of his forte. And he helped me a lot with the songwriting. So in the collaboration, the lyrics and vocals, all that stuff is mine, and conceptually it's all mine. We split most of the stuff. We both worked on parts, and changed each others parts.

Mark Carras: A lot of the album reminds me of the 80's electronic bands, but with kind of a modern spin to it. Was this on purpose?

Ogre: A little bit. Some things, like "Cracker", there's some high vocals that kind of accompany the, "You Think You're Evil But You're Not", which were kind of influenced by bands like Sweet, and E.L.O., and even further back from the 70's. Some little nuances. But I think the main structure of the songs had no real influence from the 80's. We had originally intended on taking old keyboards and putting them into ProTools, or some other digital environment and correcting the time lapse or the old triggers which gave that old 80's music a bit of a laggy sound to it. There wasn't a big intention to go back and be like the 80's. I think a lot of people confuse kind of pure tones, and pure synthesizer tones, which we used more than really hyper-processing the tones, so people confuse that with sounding a bit 80's. To be honest with you, I do have a bit of nostalgia in my heart for that time period. Not particularly for the bands that people are labeling this as comparing itself to. Whenever a writer chooses to latch onto something in his consciousness or past. It just amazes me how people have pulled all those different bands out. So, it's a success from that perspective, from delving into the consciousness. Whether a writer wants to use it as an attack on me or as something that strikes their consciousness is an ok thing. I think overall the intent of the music is just to be a reflection of electronic music in a way. I think, personally speaking, it delves into my own psyche and the elements, and sometimes even the little dirty hidden elements that we all don't want to admit to. I was trying to expose that in this recording, because it is kind of a personal record.

Mark Carras: Can you go into what happened with American Recordings?

Ogre: Yeah, I can kind of go into that. I don't want to bore you with it, but basically, when I left Skinny Puppy I was served with papers explaining to me the clause of a leaving member, which means I had to show them what I was working on at the time. At the time we were working on "Water", which is the lead off track of the album that you have right now. They liked it, and there was a verbal agreement instead of something in writing, which was a big mistake, and things progressed to a point where the verbal agreement broke down, and they took it as us being unmanageable or unagreeable or whatever. We're just going on people's words, and so we stood our ground. It became a war of attrition, and eventually I did get off the label, but it took a number of years. Then, trying to shop a deal was really difficult, because it was someone else's dirty laundry, and I've never really had a great track record in this business anyway, of making friends. Then it progressed to Spitfire wanting to license the original masters from Sony which is where they were, and in the last hour of that deal somebody from American said they didn't like it. I was up in Seattle at the time ready to start recording and getting really pissed off from all the breakdowns in communication. We basically just started recording the record that we were working with, which was the second record, one we'd been recording since 1995, basically. So we kept working on that until we found a clause in the original Skinny Puppy contract that stated that we could rerecord after 1999 ended. We began to rerecord at that point. We rerecorded seven of the original fifteen songs, and then we added four others that were recorded new last year. Those are Cracker, Pore, Lucid and Devil.

Mark Carras: I know that you've said that this album was more fulfilling than any of the Skinny Puppy albums, and a lot of people hold those Skinny Puppy albums quite high. What was it about this album that made it more fulfilling?

Ogre: I think again I had a problem in communicating to people. It is the most fulfilling record at this time in my life basically because I am clear headed, and I've been around to experience it from it's conception to it's finally coming out and being placed in a rack of other people as a product. I think what I'm most fulfilled about it getting it done, and getting it out, and being able to complete it within this structure is more important than saying it's more important than any other Skinny Puppy record. It is more fulfilling than any other Skinny Puppy record to me, but that's probably because I'm more connected to it. Whereas with Skinny Puppy, because of my past, because of what I was going through, and the pain I was going through, it was probably more peripheral, a little bit more burrow's edge of everything. Everything appearing was on the other edge of my sight, but I wasn't really personally involved in a lot of the day to day with that. I think I was just more involved overall with this record.

Mark Carras: Could you explain the dog on the cover?

Ogre: Dog on the cover has kind of a double concept to it. The idea of the dog on the cover, it's a little dog creature, a little dog boy, kind of a genetic experiment that's forced to look at it's insides. Having them removed from him, he's being forced to look at them. The concept on the inside cover goes back to when I was a child. When I was really young, I had these really intense thoughts that I couldn't intellectualize, that I couldn't really embrace fully, but they gave me this kind of giddy, roller coaster ride feeling. I used to think, "Why am I born in this body?," "Why am I speaking the way I am right now?," "Why aren't I a fly?," "Why wasn't I born in the third world?," "Why am I thinking this right now?" and I'd just go on like that until I was just created this vast vortex in my mind that I couldn't understand. It would just make me feel really small and humble, so I kind of wanted Roman to incorporate that. I did a really good job.

Mark Carras: I know you touched on this a little bit already, but maybe now a little bit more detail on what kind of equipment you used to make this album? Was Cake Walk, or anything like that used at all?

Ogre: We used ProTools, basically, and we used ProTools as a sequencer. We did some sequencing within ProTools. The only sequencing we did were some arrangements, some arpeggios, and things like that. Things that needed to be sequenced. Most of it was played directly in ProTools. We used ProTools like a sequencer, and we did editing in ProTools where most of the parts were played in sequence. Does that make sense to you?

Mark Carras: Yeah. Even though it's electronic equipment, you can just do it straight without using a lot of the effects.

Ogre: We used a few keyboards, we used what we had around, and we used, like I was telling you before, in '95 we used a lot of analog keyboards, but we ended up using, when we reproduced a lot of this stuff, ended up using things like Nord. We used the Nord modulator, kind of went that route. A lot of it, the bass is real bass, the guitar is real guitar, obviously. A lot of the drums were actual drums that we created on a kit, and then edited in ProTools. So there's not a lot of sampling. There's some samples, but not a lot of sampling, not as much as you might think. There's a lot of processing within plugins in ProTools, reverbs, and things like that. A lot of it was pretty organic, which is pretty fucking cool. We basically did the record in a basement.

Mark Carras: So why call the album "Welt?" What's the inspiration behind that?

Ogre: When I started this whole concept, Welt was a deformed sperm on a little cartoon character back in the late 80's. I kind of got to know Al Jorgenson quite well. We were doing Revolting Cocks together, and I was touring with Ministry, and we decided to do a side project, and Welt was it. It was more of a camaraderie thing back then, because we were both younger. So we each got tattoos. I got a Cock tattoo, and he got a Welt tattoo, and we were going to start doing it. It kind of edged out and got blurred by a lot of heroin and drugs and the way of bands fighting for placement at that time period. So, what we started out, which was The Cocks, we were a bunch of comrades working towards something. Jumping back and forth between projects got a little bit competitive, I think, and stakes got higher, and those friendships went by the wayside. I held onto Welt for a number of years, and always kept it. I planned to use it as a band title; I wanted the band to be called Welt, I wanted the project to be called Welt, but a punk band emerged from somewhere in San Francisco named Welt in the last five, six years, so it was kind of "Oh, fuck." So, when I signed to Spitfire, they really wanted to keep some association with the Welt thing, and I have no problem with the Welt thing. I was trying to create Ogre as more of a concept, because Ogre has always been a concept of me. I'm not necessarily an ogre, but it was a nickname from a lot of partying when I was younger. So I just took that, and made an abstract of it.

Mark Carras: Do you think you'll ever go into the heavier, experimental sound of your old band?

Ogre: Oh yeah. The great thing that's going on right now is that last year I did a show with cEVIN in Dresden, in Germany. We did a big festival, with lots of people. We did a Skinny Puppy reunion show. Since then, there's been a lot of interest. I think what's really great for me is, at one point in my life I thought that I can't do this any longer, but now I feel there's half of my psyche-soul saturated brain mass that's just enraged. It's the type of rage that's been repressed for many years, although I do have a great outlet for it. But I do suffer from an extreme amount of rage and anger. That allows me an outlet for that rage and anger. If I didn't have that outlet, I'd probably kill people with no mercy whatsoever. I think in the future I'll always explore that outlet, and it will always be a vehicle to express that side of things. What this was, was something that allowed me to kind of move in a different direction in expressing my feelings. I wouldn't ever lose sight of that darker side, but it has to have a context, and it has to have some basis at this point. It doesn't just derive itself from impotent anger, which is what a lot of, I think, musical angst is all about. It's about impotent anger, it's not about any kind of anger that sustains or realizes or advances anything. It invariably is too much angst instead of anger. If I could find a vehicle now, I'll definitely pursue it. I'm not into that kind of teenage angst, anyway, if that makes any sense.

Mark Carras: Would you be making any videos for this album?

Ogre: We're working on one for Cracker, which is far and away the most successful song on the record. It works on a lot of levels. The video is based on the idea of a soldier, and how fear drives the soldier to kill, and how fear can drive anybody to do things that would normally be out of character.

Mark Carras: Would this video be as off the wall as some of the Skinny Puppy stuff?

Ogre: It's being done by Bill Morrison, who is the Juno award winning video director in Canada. Junos are the equivalent to, I guess the Grammy's down here, but a pretty cheap equivalent in Canada. I'm so self-deprecating. So, he's working on it. I don't know how crazy it's going to be. The interesting thing is we use a lot of stop-motion. We're taking, just because of budget restraints, we're taking those digital 3.34 megapixel cameras and we're doing time-lapse animation. So we're painting things with light, and then we're doing stop-motion animation. And the really great things with those cameras is-it takes a fucking long time, cause you're just going click, click, click, holding it for four or five seconds, painting with light-is once you put it all together in final cut film, or whatever you're using after effects, is you get these really fucking awesome, really high resolution, 35mm quality resolution animation. That's how we're approaching it, so it's taking a bit of time. The soldier is kind of my character, but my character is more the fearful one. There's a little armature that we built, and there's a number of armature characters kind of in the same vein as Tool with that kind of animation. . I'm not sure how far Bill is going with it, but I'm sure he'll take it as far as he can.

Mark Carras: Will people be able to hear these songs live? Is there a tour?

Ogre: I hope so. At this point it's up to sales. Unfortunately we're watching sales really closely. Obviously, they'll determine the scope and size of the tour.

Mark Carras: On the tour, would you be playing just songs from this album, or is it going to be a vast repertoire of all your stuff.

Ogre: It is going to be a vast repertoire. I kind of am into keeping things in their separate places, but People can hear some stuff off the second record, definitely.

Mark Carras: So you don't have any idea when this tour would start?

Ogre: We're planning tentatively for the third week in May.

Mark Carras: And that's just for the United States?

Ogre: Yes, for the U.S. right now.

Mark Carras: Unless there's anything else that you'd like to say that I didn't think to ask? Thank you for the interview, and I look forward to seeing you on tour.

Ogre: Thank you.

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