Litany: Interview Archive

DiPietro, Ben. "'Last Rites' for Skinny Puppy?" Associated Press, 17 August 1992.


Surviving real-life nightmares is tough. Performing those nightmares onstage night after night seems like cruel and unusual punishment, even for someone named Ogre.

But the singer-songwriter for Skinny Puppy doesn't mind. The pain of reliving his nightmares serves as a form of therapy.

The nightmares, which Ogre used as the basis for Skinny Puppy's latest album, "Last Rites," chronicle his drug-induced experiences since the band's formation in 1983.

Off drugs for nearly a year, Ogre combines his dreams of monsters, dismemberment, violence, mind control and paranoia with the band's funereal sounds and sinister visuals not only to shock listeners into recognizing the horrors around them, but to help him reconcile his past.

"'Last Rites' contains a great deal of personal chaos. It's painful for me to be reminded of certain things, but for me to say it never happened is wrong. I'll be glad to put it behind me, but I had to do this," Ogre said during a recent stopover in Hawaii.

The 29-year-old Ogre (real name: David Ogilvie) is far more articulate and mild-mannered than his onstage image indicates.

When show time comes, however, Ogre transforms himself into various monster personas, and joins with keyboardist Dwayne Gottel and drummer and band co-founder cEVIN Key to create music that's painful, morbid, consuming - and danceable.

Few bands spread as gloomy a musical message as Skinny Puppy. Few also are as inventive in their use of sampling, musical structure and noise to create a mood of horror and shocking awareness.

"We're more a reflective surface. We mirror things we see around us," Ogre said. "To mirror these things, we have to experience them."

"Last Rites" sounds like the Beatles' "White Album" classic "Revolution No. 9" taken to technological and psychological extremes. While the average pop music listener might have a hard time deciding if the songs are being played forward or backward, more adventurous listeners can appreciate songs like "Love In Vein," "Killing Game," "Inquisition" and "Download."

The band tackles topics such as environmental destruction, senseless violence, vivisection and mind control.

One X-rated video, "Worlock," was banned in many areas because it shows a man getting his head cut in half with an electric knife and several people being stabbed in their eyeballs, along with dozens of other acts of torture.

An anti-vivisection video, "Testure," shows a man being kidnapped and treated like a research animal, along with actual shots of research animals in painful experiments.

"People think like we're walking around carrying a torch for every bad thing. ... We're not trying to press anything upon anyone. We're not a fascist band. It's very much a mood-altering band that allows people to react in different ways," he said.

The band has been criticized for spreading a message that can cause violent reactions, but Ogre claims no responsibility for the music's effects. "Those people already are slightly off," he said. "Those people can get twisted at most anything."

Skinny Puppy was one of the first band's to popularize industrial music in America.

Industrial music is typified by bands like Skinny Puppy, Ministry and KMFDM, who fuse elements of heavy metal, hard-core punk and techno-dance music with lyrics that expose the grimmer side of life and are sung in a haunting vocal style.

Signed in 1983 by Canadian independent record label Nettwerk, the band - which formed in Vancouver, British Columbia, but moved to Los Angeles a few years back - signed a distribution agreement with Capitol Records in 1986.

"Last Rites" is their last album for both labels, and Ogre said the band remains unsure of its future.

Problems arose following the 1989 release "Rabies," co-produced by Ministry's Al Jourgensen. The band split for a while after that, as Ogre toured with Ministry and contributed to Pigface, and Key formed the band Hilt.

After Ogre had a falling out with Jourgensen, Skinny Puppy recorded the well-received "Too Dark Park" in 1990, which decried environmental ruin.

Ogre said it remains to be seen if "Last Rites" is Skinny Puppy's last album.

"Working on other projects is probably the one thing that has kept us together," said Ogre, who said he'd be "selling pencils on a street corner" if he wasn't in a band.

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