Litany: Interview Archive

Scudeler, June. "???." CITR/Discorder, 24 April 1992.

Strange but true facts - Skinny Puppy was actually, at one time, a Sub Pop band and Ogre is going to be a porno star... kinda. The Skinny Puppy front man has recently stopped doing drugs and moved to L.A., so this interview was conducted in his hotel room in Vancouver, as he was in town to edit the video that accompanies the live Puppy show. The room was strewn with contracts, resin painting kits and models for the upcoming tour. Ogre chain smoked throughout our talk, but it lessened somewhat as we became comfotrable with each other, but I confused him at the beginning trying to explain the concept of Nardwaur...

J: Nardwaur owns his own record label...

O: Why is he called the Human Serviette?

J: He's a very strange person. He was trying to get me to drag you up to do his show today; I'm going, "No, I don't think so!"

O: Do a show where?

J: Up at CiTR.He has people on... He's this really hyper person. But he showed me that you're on the SUB POP 100 compiliation - that's really weird.

O: Sub Pop. What's that?

J: It's that Seattlle label - Nirvana was on it.

O: And we're on there? What {song}?

J: "Church in Hell" is on it and you're on with Sonic Youth.

O: Oh, yeah!I remember that... I haven't seen any money for it though! [laughs]

J: So what effect has Pigface had on you? - your singing...

O: My singing's improved. That comes from doing gigs with other bands and singing different material. Pigface is a great playground to explore different types of singing.You sing with differentt people - it's the same as working with Ministry but a lot more fun [laughs]. You tend to retain things better.

J: I've seen you on the Ministry live video and you're just standing there, but at the Pigface show my friends didn't recognize you.

O: Well, I think with the Ministry thing I think too a lot was cut so you couldn't see me in a lot of things, so I was excluded from the whole project - which is fine by me. It's been a good thing; Pigface was there to help me during an hour of need. What's developed out of that is a band called WELT.

J: That finally happened - I was wondering about it.

O: I'm going to Toronto to finish working on it.

J: Who's in WELT?

O: John Bechtel - he's done all the electronics for Murder Inc. and Killing Joke - myself and Raven. Cat's called me, too... We're keeping it as a main core of three people - Bill Reiflin's done some drumming on it - so it's turning into a serious kind of project. It's not a supergroup thing, we don't want to come across that way 'cause the music's got it's own sound. It's not really trying to fracture itself and become all these different things, which isn't bad at all. I think everyone's taking a little more serious approach to what it's going to be. There's lots of interest in it too, so...

J: What's happening with Pigface?

O: We just finished a record - I participated in two tracks. It's being mixed up in Minnesota, it's sounds really good. It's quite different again, it's far more tribal. It goes all over the place, it crosses all boundaries, but there's some serious music on it. The girl from Silverfish ntown area, which Ogre thought was "excellent"and "that's what you get for faulty plumbing systems, right?" We also talk about the upcoming tour with its' theme of "paranoia and self-persecution, "which Ogre agreed was healthy for him to do right now. Talk turns to the "Killing Game" video.

O: It's out today. It turned out well. It uses elements of the live show along with imagery; it's quite textured and quite violent, but not... We used a dance troupe. You have to see it, it's all high contrast - it's not people dancing around. There's elements of that, we got a student theatrical group to comebout some Puppy videos not being played on MuchMuzak because of their imagery, especially "Stairs and Flowers."

O: People are caught up in labels.

J: People are fed stuff by media and they can't think for themselves. They see something ...

O: ...or they hear something and that becomes truth, which is pretty scary.

J: People cannot understand satire.

O: No - satire, dark comedy or even dark images without applying it to something that's - what's the word? - not acceptable or not allowed. They'd rather make into something it's not in order for it not to be seen and they'll appeal to people's base instinct of misogny and all these things - torturing animals, satanism and all these labels. That's their only way of reacting to something they don't really understand.

I mention the horror anthology "Splatterpunks" to him as Skinny Puppy is mentioned in the spoof of Bret Easton Ellis entitled, "Less Than Zombie, "which is in the aforementioned book.

O: We've been around for ten years, so I guess some of the kids have grown up and have been influenced by the imagery. That's good because it's coming across in a literary fashion. I don't think it denounces the music so much as to give a background to the story, which is all we've sver done, too. We don't live in a horrific world and yet we paint horrific pictures with our minds. That should be perfectly acceptable and not censored by anyone. I guess that's the fight we're up against right now. The live show's going to be a theatrical gore show. A lot of violence and a lot of blood - it's kind of the last refuge for any body who's into that type of experience to go see it. I've got some possible film roles coming up, too - a virtual reality vampire film; a lead role in that, done by the same people who did the new "Dr. Caligari" film and "Cafe Flesh," [laughs] which is a porno movie. But they're really artistic movies.

J: Didn't you take theatre in school?

O: No, but I've taken mask courses. I took a course with a theatrical group that was preparing for its fall production, so I was kind of pushed into by a friend of mine, Mira Davies - she's an art historian who's worked with Edward La of La La La [Human Steps] - she told me there was a mask masking course so I went out there thinking I was to learn how to make masks. I walked into thiselt kinda bad 'cause I kind of left. I said, "look, tell them I'm sorry," and they go, "well, they understood. "I don't know they did it; they became these extroverted, insane characters sometimes and they couldn't understand how I could get in front of a thousand peope night after night and do what I'm doing. So it works both ways; it's just different applications, mine's - not a formalized way of dealing with theatre at all. It showed a lot when I was working with this group - they were working with allrned into something. It's been a lot of hard work; it just isn't "well, we're getting paid for it." We spent right up to VIsectVIVI not making any money at all; we were $60,000 in debt. We've learned a lot of shit along the way about dealing with people, getting the right management. We just signed a new management deal with Emerald out of Chicago - Mike Ryan, who's my personal manager, is fuckin' great! I never thought there was a need for people like that but there is definitely, especially right now. I talk to him and all the shit he's got going with trying to get access to any form of media, be it film or whatever, to keep busy because that's important to me right now, otherwise I'll just start doing drugs again and fuck up really bad! [laughs].

J: You look really good.

O: Thanks. It's been six and a half months. It's all back now, most of it's back - a lot of it disappeared for a while. When I saw you before in Tacoma (I went down to see Pigface in October), I was still a shell, basically, there was still this person inside trying to crawl her on top of that. I thought I had withdrawal; I actually had hepatitis. So I was four weeks into the tour in Sweden and I had to be hospitalized for six days. So I was going through all this shit of feeling gross, but it was really hepatitis and coming down off the drugs - my arms were aching, everything was in pain - it was really stupid, it was quite pathetic, looking back on it now. You kinda have to go through it! You never really get off it. So I made it through four weeks and I was sleeping thirty hours a day and in Oslo, I woke up an hour before the show, did it, and after sleeping for thirty hours I couldn't get out of my bunk. It was in these double decker busses; they're really uncomfortable and cold and I was going through sweats and everything. I woke up and did the show in Oslo, slept another twenty four hours, woke up in Malmö, Sweden, threw up and just looked in the mirror and people looked at me and said, "you're really sick; you're going to the hospital." I went to the hospital that night, they thought it was hepatitis B, then C, and it turned out to be hepatitis A, thank God. So I was really lucky for what I was doing I only got that. I had three weeks to think, because I couldn't do anything; you totally have no energy. If you even move you fuck up your whole system, basically - your liver is non-functional, you can't clean any fats out of your body, it's just gross.So I went to Edmonton and went into treatment for three weeks to find out why I was getting fucked up. I know it sounds really "rehab" and cliched, but was really important for me to do. I am glad I did it now; at the time I was terrified. It waslike I was turning away from myself - "oh my god, here I am, fucking forty miles outside of Edmonton," - I was right between a fuckin' penitentiary and an insane asylum; that's where they put Henwood House. So all I did was went to the groups and all the people were way different from me; alcoholics, not too many coke freaks.

Phone call. Nettwerk accepts the "Killing Game" video, which elicits a California tinged "Fuckin' rad, dude," which is pretty strange coming from someone wearing knee high boots and a cap with the Beetlejuice cartoon ch [laugh] my twisted mind!

J: Why are there no lyrics on "Last Rights?"

O: It's a very, very personal record. But there might be, I guess, there's been lots of people asking for them. I didn't publish them at first because it was too close. I didn't think I was going to get out of it, for one thing, so I didn't want anyone to find out why I was in it. A lot of it is very obscure, but I might publish it for when we tour. We've gone album after album, very duty oriented, printing all the lyrics; it's nice for one album... you have to go back and forth between literal and interpretive. The album's still very interpretive to me, which is exciting, because it was all done in the studio - it wasn't preconceived at all like our last three albums have been. There's a lot of train of consciousness; whatever was happening at the moment was brought into light, and I think the interesting phenomenon is that I conceived the record in one state; five months later I'm in another state - I see it totally different. At the time I was flailing out at everything, everybody. Looking back at it now, it was more of an introspective thing; when I was saying, "Your gift is misused," I was really like [points to quate it] to this society going up this mountain, too climbing this mountain to the top, or me climbing this mountain to the top and getting to the top and facing a sheer drop-off and having to choose between taking this jump or turning around and facing everything you've brought with you. That's the best of my ability to understand what I was going through then. Then you can take all the poetry and apply it to other things, which is what it's always intended to do.

J: Were you doing drugs to hide from stuff?

O: No, I've always had control over it in a way. A lot of people in this city think I'm a brain dead fool and I have no thought capacity besides going out and finding a line to do. They're definitely wrong. A lot of people don't know me have heard {things} through word of mouth - you hear one person say, "I saw this person who was lying in the gutter puking all over himself and shit in his pants and god, he was a mess, he's a fucking mess, he's always been a fuckingff that fake cover that drugs give you... after a while, all those things I had to face. I had no choice; it just built up so much, it was impossible not to face some of these things. Then it becomes really horrendous because you're not in a functional state to face anything. I think that now it's gone it's far more easy to deal with things and people and problems. I thought I had lost part of myself; I started believing the rumours. The way I saw it, was that any one time during that peak period of when I almost died, I could have left and nobody would've known that I'd left - I could've gone to a health spa in Sweden, gotten totally clean and gotten back and sat in that apartound. It does start to repair itself. I can go out now and look people in the face. I'm not as guilty about what I'm doing to myself anymore - which I'd gotten to a point... there was a really scary time where I know everything I was doing was wrong. It was no longer anything but pain; it was like injecting pain in your veins everytime you did it. {...} I was doing something totally against my value system.

J: What do you like to read?

O: I'm reading a book called "Portable Darkness" right now. It's an all-around travel guide through Aleister Crowley, so I'm kinda into that right now. I read a lot of Anne Rice when I was in treatment, for some reason, and I read a book called "The Wasp Factory" - ever read that? (I picked it up afterwards - it's twisted). It's very sick. It's about this kid on an island; he doesn't know his full origins. It turns out he's a girl that his father's tried to change through ing this stuff more - trying to understand Crowley a little more. I haven't been reading too much outside that; I've basically into this Puppy stuff, once get into that I live and breathe {it}. I've been model painting too! (shows me one of his works in progress). In America, there's this big resin thing going on, like resin kits, so kids put out these kits,they sculpt them. They're really well done and you just paint them up!

We trade stories about people we know in common until Ogre has to leave. I give him a lift to where he's going - the weird thing being he knew which car was mine without ever having seen it... maybe that's not so strange; Ogre claims it's something he can just "do." We run into each other a week later and go to a Japanese noodle house, where I am regaled with stories of his soon-to-be ex-wife, fave Ministry tour stories... well, some other time.

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