Outburn Issue #7
Interview by Octavia
Ogre – We Got the Dirt (and blood!) On Ogre…
His Passion for Animals, the Latest on WELT & Ritalin, and his Views of the Orwellian Darkness of Technology.
How do you enjoy living in Lost Angeles as compared to other places?
It’s fine. I moved down here in ‘91-’92, and it’s pretty cool. I’ve kind of gotten used to the heat. I don’t really like LA that much, but you get drawn into the whole desert and water thing. Do you like it here?
No. It’s really densely populated, and we have loud jerks for neighbors.
That would drive me crazy…I’d fucking kill.
But we are moving to Thousand Oaks.
Thousand Oaks is really nice. We were looking at some places out there. We have a friend that committed suicide who used to live out there. We spent a good time out there. The one thing about Woodland Hills is it’s just so fucking hot. I just want to take off all the windows and get away from the heat. But we have a really cool house.
And you lived in Seattle for a while too?
We moved to Seattle for awhile. We kept this house, but we moved up there for 8 months when we were recording the WELT stuff with Mark Walk and that was kind of a little vacation. We rented a really fucking cool house from this old woman. She’s like 90 years old. She loved her house so much, but she was an invalid and she couldn’t get up to her house…there’s a steep walkway. The one morbid detail was that we had to leave this light on in case she drove by in a cab. She painted her house this bright blood red, because she came home from the airport one day and the cab driver drove around the corner and missed her house. So she decided to paint her house so no more cab drivers would miss the house. I don’t really like the winters up there. I’ve become more acclimated to warmer weather. It’s a little easier on my body. I just have a lot of injuries. I have to keep exercising just to stay out of pain basically, which sucks. I’ve spent two or three months just laying back and letting it go, and just end up fucking screaming…screaming at the moon. I just have a history of things I’m paying back right now.
I hear you have a possum for a pet?
We h ad a possum. She died right before I went on the KMFDM tour. She had a massive heart attack on a really fucking hot day and my wife was sick. It was a nightmare. I had to drive fucking 20 miles while she was whacked. I had to put her to sleep. That was a grizzly thing. One of the first times I had to really get involved in putting one of my animals down…like making the decision of passing away. That was really kind of fucked up. And then the way they have to do it, they basically inject Heaven’s Gate into their stomachs. I was putting myself through all that, having a heart attack then fucking freaking out for five hours with nothing…no pain killers or anything. Having a huge needle stuffed in my stomach, and then I guess you feel bliss and go. But she was awesome. She was sweet. She had all these neurological problems when we first found her.
You found her?
Most of our animals are rescues or found. The squirrel is the same thing. She was in a dog’s mouth at the park where we walk our dogs. She was a baby and this retriever was chewing on her, and there was this little head. The guy was going to throw her back up in the hills, thought she had a better chance that way. I grabbed her and brought her home in my hat. Gave her some Gatorade. Her little brain started twisting and twitching and then she came back. She lives downstairs now. She’s totally cool. She’s box trained. She’s like a little cat. That’s the hobby. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. I wish we had more access to wild animals, because they’re so much different than domesticated animals. We have a wold and she’s so different than a domesticated dog. The personification factor is increased ten fold. It’s amazing the different levels of communication wild animals use and how much more they think and problem solve. I don’t know what happened in the domestication process. It’s probably the same thing that happened to humans…a flock of sheeple. Dogs are very kind of vacant to a certain degree…some dogs. And most domesticated animals are a little more vacant. There’s some spark in wild animals that just amazes me, because it’s totally misunderstood. People just look at them the wrong way. They miss so much in animals.
Do you ever want to make taking care of animals more of your career?
There’s the idealistic future of being somewhere with a lot of lands and just taking in strays and abandoned or abused animals and try to rehabilitate them. I tend to have more empathy and sympathy for animals than I do for humans for some strange reason. There’s a lack of baggage and a lack of emotional predisposition that they deserve to have so much. They’re just happy to just be, and that’s pretty cool. I don’t know what it is, man. It would be a lot easier for me to pick up a gun and walk into a McDonalds than it would be to put one of my animals down if they were sick. [chuckles] It’s fucked up. Not that I would do that, the former I would not do. I lead kind of an isolated life, I guess is what I’m try to say.
So what ever happened to WELT?
WELT was shelved, originally by American. There are 16 songs done. Right now I’m in the process of trying to establish communication with the proper people. We’re still trying to find some way of getting it back. It’s a really trick y situation. I don’t know the totality of what went down in 1995 with all that stuff. I have no idea what was said, and that’s what I have to work through now and figure out. There’s some obvious resentments there and I don’t know where they are coming from. I just want to try and get the tapes back, in the most positive way…just try and establish some sort of point override so we can all be OK with it and I can get some stuff out because some of the songs are salvageable and worth using. So there’s a bunch of different ways of trying to approach it, to try and get those tapes back. If not, we’re just going to record new stuff. Mark and I are going to start working again. We did some sessions last year. The last thing we worked on was the Skinny Puppy remix record. All of the tapes for Remission and Bites were lost, or stolen or something…so we totally re-worked "Smothered Hope" for this thing. It went really cool. It’s really twisted…tweaked. Working with Mark is really good, and he has been a major positive thing in my life, certainly.
How did you meet Mark Walk?
Mark and I met while we were recording The Process in Malibu. I was doing a chill of coke and he was the only person that would sit in the studio with me and reprimand me for what I was doing. We became fast friends from that and then once I got out of that quagmire, we just kept in touch. I really like a lot of the music that he does and his song writing is just incredible and the way he experiments with sounds is incredible…so I’m totally into it. We just picked up from there and started recording that stuff in ’95. We were more friends than actually working, because he had a ton of stuff to do and then all that shit happened with American. It was kind of strange, but our friendship seemed to persist beyond the obvious distractions.
How does the Ritalin compare to the unreleased WELT material?
It’s miles different. The Ritalin record started as a concept and the concept moved from being this experimental little easy going record to something quite different. That happened fairly naturally, and we went with that direction. All I can do as an artist…all I want to do as an artist is just be me. I can’t force a bunch of anger or present something that I’m not at any one time…that’s not what music is about. It’s like trying to create some sort of a hyperbole around myself. The Ritalin record is a great kind of pressure reliever for me. It doesn’t have to rise above anything. It doesn’t have to formulate…to parallel with something, and it gave me a chance to do a lot of things I’ve always wanted to do, because there’s no stakes involved. In that kind of a situation you can just let it all spill out. You can just open the brain up and let the cerebellum twist and turn, shit itself out. So in a lot of ways, that record is a lot of random moments and it really moves around into a lot of different areas. The actual recording and the creative process was pretty natural…pretty liberating in a lot of ways.
What was it like working with Martin? What roles did each of you play in Ritalin?
We’ve always played the same role with each other. It’s just totally open. There’s no hierarchy involved. We had an engineer and Martin and myself. We did stuff around this little studio in Chicago. From there it moved to ASI and to another studio for a few weeks. We just kept building the stuff up. Then Martin went back to England and would work on some stuff and I would be back here working on stuff, and we’d send it back and forth. A lot of the songs went through varying shades of gray until they got to the light or black color that they are now. It was really easy going. I think where problems arise for me is after the fact, like when the record starts coming out and the organization and things like that…it starts to bother me. I don’t mind talking to people who are interesting and doing interviews and that stuff that goes along with it. I’m not really well equipped for once you release the baby out in the world. Selling my =self is really fucked up. I just wish I could do it and be done with it.
Do you think you’re going to do more Ritalin albums?
I’m open to almost anything. I’m hoping it will all segue together. Mark Walk worked with Martin before, and so there’s always the possibility that it could happen…we’ll just wait and see. To project what you’re going to be doing a year from now, maybe some people can do that, but I have no idea. Two years ago I thought I’d be off and running with all this WELT stuff, and that didn’t happen, so it’s been a bit strained over the last couple of years. I’m just trying to get an idea of what there is out there again and what potential I have. I have no big ambitions to do much of anything.
No ambitions to conquer the world?
Not at all. It’s a really ugly business. I’ve seen my fill of things that really disturb me and make me kind of nauseous. I’ve seen a lot of people that I once liked change, and I’ve seen a lot of nasty stuff happen to people. And people that should be a lot more courteous and maybe free with their comments being totally protective and enclosed.
What is your relationship with cEvin Key like now, especially since he’s moved to LA?
I had to make contact with him just regarding some print out and he wrote me back. We have um…little or no communication. But certainly, it’s not unfriendly. I think we’ve all kind of moved on from that period and look at it from a different perspective now. Hopefully, we are. I certainly am to a certain degree. I kind of want to disconnect from a lot of those feelings because it is so debilitating and so nasty and so many years of that too.
Are you still in contact with Dwayne’s family?
Whenever something comes up I try to keep them informed about anything I know regarding Skinny Puppy.
How do they feel about all the material he worked on being released after his death?
I don’t know. Both those Download records were a lot of Dwayne’s stuff. I listened to The Eyes of Stanley Pain late last year for the first time and I was amazed at how many songs were out at Malibu from listening to it. I do have personal feelings about that, but it’s not for me to say. It isn’t my torch to bear.
Can you explain of Ritalin can be used in print?
You can use Ritalin in print. You can call it Ritalin.
But you can’t call it Ritalin?
I’m not going to pay attention to it. I think what I’m trying to do with the whole idea of Ritalin is get other people to talk about it. Because if other people talk about it, I can’t be sued for it. My one experimentation last year was in the use of Ritalin. It’s a really nasty drug. Because I was doing this, I wanted to see what it was all about. I never liked the idea of children being on Ritalin, and just because of all the drugs I’ve done in the past the idea of a 10 year old kid being put on some amphetamine is just whacked to me. I understand the principle. I understand what it’s doing. It’s the idea that a hyperactive child will be calmed down by an amphetamine, which is true, but there’s so many other ways of dealing with that. It’s just like there’s a blanket being thrown over kids where probably 80% of those kids just have dietary problems. It’s just a quick fix. It’s this huge multinational chemical company that’s making shitloads of money off this horrible drug and possibly fucking with good kids’ brains. Not that fucking with your brain is that bad, but I think you should have a choice and you should be able to make that choice for yourself. Doling out some of these drugs on children when their brain’s still developing, just from my own exploration into drugs, it’s kind of not so great place to go. With certain anti-depressants and things for children, they’re starting to introduce syrups and sweet pills… Flintstones’s chewable anti-depressants. It’s just getting kind of crazy. It’s the outsides being reflected by the in. We all have this inner turmoil in our lives. I was taking drugs when I was 10 years old. I think obviously anybody that knows anything about me knows that my pursuit with drugs ended on the wrong side of the coin, except for the fact that I was lucky enough to get on with it and go beyond it. The idea of the bedside toxicology of all this stuff coming closer and closer to where we all feel safe…that’s really apparent to me within the world nowadays too. You’ve got all these countries who have these neighboring countries that are not aligned with them who are starting these arms races. This proliferation of weapons is coming closer and closer. Getting back to the Ritalin thing, is to try and get other people to talk about it and attach it to the name and also try to pull something over on one of these companies. That’s something I’d like to do. I’d like to experiment with that. I’d like to see if there’s any flack, if we get any flack for it, but not really be associated with it.
How do you feel your fans will respond to Bedside Toxicology?
There’s this huge gap in time where it became this anticipated thing, so my fear with this record is that people are going to be expecting something from this. It’s a really good sounding record, and it’s showing a different side of me. And that’s all that I can do as an artist. Hopefully people will catch the ride and go with it, and won’t try and compare it to something that I was. Because to continually produce music that is up to the expectations of your fan base is only catering to a market and has very little to do with art. And has very little to do with artistic music, which is the only reason I got into doing this in the fist place and I was lucky to make a living. I shouldn’t’ bitch about that because there’s probably a lot of people making records that aren’t making money. I shouldn’t fucking bitch, but at the same time I went through 13 years of all this stuff in order to do what I am doing now. I think that justifies it to a certain degree.
How have your perspectives on life changed since Skinny Puppy ended?
Everything’s always…you know what life’s all about. Look at you, you moved to LA and now you want to get the fuck out.
Sometimes I feel trapped in this hole.
We’re all trapped in holes. Everybody’s trapped. And the whole idea about life is to try and surprise yourself and not stay trapped…rise above the things you have done wrong and the mistakes you’ve made or learn from it. And I think, without turning into some angelic evangelist, which would be fucking horrible, that’s the whole vibe in life. It’s this natural thing and there’s a lot of things that happen to you naturally that I think are almost chemical within your own brain physiology where you start looking at things differently. A lot of stuff that I did and believe in…like I was talking to one of my ex-girlfriends, I was talking to her about Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. At one time she was telling me that I was insistent back in the 80’s that that movie should be shown to children. Now I’m a little more like, well yeah, it should be shown to children, but maybe not as young as I thought…maybe two year olds shouldn’t be shown that kind of stuff. But at the same time she had this perception of me showing it to children. I didn’t mean that specifically, but I did have a younger age group in mind. I still think it should be shown to children, but only for the reason that movies like that are only modern day fairy tales. They’re cautionary tales and I think that’s important nowadays. I was watching this really good movie last night…it was five in the morning so I kind of fell asleep, but have you seen that Al Pacino film where he’s doing Shakespeare’s Richard III [Looking for Richard?] There was this guy…he was a panhandler and he was so fucking well versed in life and so word worthy. He was very specific in saying that people have lost any attachment to feeling in what they say. And by doing that, by losing attachment with the feeling of what they are saying there’s really nothing to what they’re saying. And Shakespeare really was saying something. They were speaking emotions; they were speaking with feeling. And we’ve totally lost that side of ourselves to a certain degree. And I totally agree with that. And he was this guy who was famous and he said that if people would say less..And maybe I should shut up because I’ve been talking my fucking head off here to you…but if people would talk less and mean what they say things would be a lot better. Then he immediately turned away and asked this rich motherfucker "Can you spare some change." So it was fucking brilliant. I don’t know. I’m digressing a little bit. It’s really all that I can be in the sense of continuing to reevaluate myself, and not be afraid to look and myself and kind of say it like it is and try not to be too contrived hopefully.
How are things in your life now?
I’ve been really lucky in life to have this brain that probably suffers from either brain damage or attention deficit disorder [laughs]. That kind of allows me to disconnect from a lot of what is going on around me. It’s like life goes on and one of the funniest things that I am coming to terms with is that we’re at the end of the millennium and we’re suffering from the same things that we went through at the end of the last millennium. This millenium madness. I have a lot of friends that are certainly interested in the annihilation of the human race. And I love listening to those people. I tend to find myself absorbing a lot more. I’ve always been a sponge. I tend to take things in and apply my own special rose colored glasses to them and spit them back out. I think my attachment to world politics is diminishing. Not that I ever did, I was always very surface to a certain degree. There’s certain things I believed in a still do, but getting involved politically with them just seems like a circus. I mean if you’ve seen Citizen Ruth, that’s what any political issue is. And that’s kind of where I am stepping away from that whole route…this circular vortex that you can get yourself into.
I read when you were a child you had a room under the stairs and you used to like just watching people. Is that something you still enjoy?
Yeah, totally. 100% I’m far more of a voyeur. In all parts of my life I’m a voyeur. I mean sexually, I’ve always been a voyeur. I like to look. I like to watch. I like to see things. I like to see people interact. I like to see what happens…what’s behind the mask. When I was a kid I used to like to try to project what would happen. I was at a mall and I was there with my parents, and we’d always kind of separate. I’d go off and I’d just sit there watching people…watch interactions and try to figure out where it was going and what these people had in common. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I was very introverted and to a certain degree still am. But I got a shell on me now, right? [laughs]…this crusty old shell.
Do you think that’s helped in your song writing?
Yeah, of course. I’m really empathic. If I’m with somebody, I can feel what they are feeling to a certain degree. And that can get me into a lot of trouble, because I can confuse that with my own feelings. So I’ve always been able to absorb situations. When I was really young I used to watch talk shows…like someone who was being embarrassed, although I didn’t understand the idea of someone being embarrassed. I’d totally feel it. And I’d have to change the channel. It was awful.
What about now?
It’s still really difficult in social situations for me, because I tend to feel and empathize with people that are being humiliated or have just totally made an idiot of themselves. I feel bad. I’ve been in a lot of situations with the various bands I’ve toured with, where I’ve seen a lot humiliation and that was probably the hardest part for me, because I didn’t really understand what I was feeling and that was totally fucked up.
But that’s a special gift…
I call it a curse.
That’s probably why you’re so empathic to animals, especially when they are hurt.
Yeah, definitely. Have your read Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love? It’s a really good book. She’s a really good writer. It’s about a family of circus freaks. The mother and father, Al and Lily, decide early on in life that they want to create freaks. So she starts taking every drug possible and they start inventing all these different ways, like radioactive isotopes…all these things to create freaks…a family of freaks. And they do, and there’s one character who’s born totally normal and they were totally disappointed. His name was Chick. And Chick ends up having…well he can perform psychokenisis. He has all these psychokenetic abilities and he’s able to read minds and he’s a total empath. He’s this little scrawny kid who just totally loves people and feel everything. I really love the character because he’s put in this position of power at the end, and what he does is pretty incredible. It's a really good book
What about TV…like Jerry Springer?
Yep, big time dirty pleasure right there. But I do religiously, and I hate to say it, but at 11:00 PM every night I am watching Jerry Springer. It’s almost…I don’t know what it is? It’s almost like the Christians and the lions maybe? It’s really strange. I don’t feel as bad for those people, because it’s like, gosh what a price you pay for your 15 minutes of fame. If you’re feeling angry, you watch Jerry Springer and you’re laughing by the end. I mean a lot of that is theatrical too, but I think a lot of it isn’t as well. It’s very strange and I love strange.
What about Magic Secrets revealed?
Really? The article I was reading and I agree with this, was pointing out the fact that there’s a lot of magicians out there, not like the David Copperfield type magicians, but the magicians out there who save up and spend a thousand or two thousand dollars on one illusion and after that TV show, they can’t use it anymore.
But the show emphasized that the "art of the illusion: is more important and that people wouldn’t stop going to see magicians even if they knew how a trick was done.
Which is totally true because people do…there was always that ideas to me that stage magicians were just flim flam men anyway. They were hiding behind this magic with a "k" kind of philosophy, but dealing with parlor tricks. I mean I used to be a magician and there’s a level of arrogance there too.
Did that help you with your stage performances?
I don’t know. It was two separate time periods in my life. I think it did help, because I was really insecure when I was little and so it kind of gave me a boost. I remember the first magic show I did I almost shit in my pants. I almost threw up. It was one of the worst experiences in my life, but I got through it. I went through all the tricks. There’s this level of professionalism and integrity that magicians put upon themselves which is all mystery and all smoke and mirrors. I think letting people in on some of this may actually crate more interest in magic. It also may push people to start producing better illusions. I didn’t see the special, but I kind of understood both sides and where it was coming from. That’s what viewers want now. I mean you watch Fox and it’s just like night after night of the World’s Scariest Police Chases and the World’s Scariest Hostage Dramas…Thew World’s Scariest Anal Probes! It’s just ridiculous, but we’ve entered that Orewellian age with open arms. We’ve fully accepted all this technology and have embraced it. We like spying on people and people are spying on each other through this medium now. It’s interesting and a little strange too, because the fear that preceded it, the Orwellian kind of fear of cameras on the streets and everything. I mean I have a friend who went to a military installation down in East LA and they have a camera on every street down there.
I know in some cities they are installing cameras on the streets for safety.
I guess that’s cool. Does it bother you?
I don’t want cameras peeing in on me, but in public or unsafe places I would rather have the cameras there and criminals caught on tape than have no witnesses.
True. I totally agree. But then you start to wonder, well is this just the natural progression of the society or is this being instigated in order to get the cameras in there? Have you ever seen Kafka? The whole idea behind the Kafka film…that film was about Kafka, but at the same time it was about a government that was crating maniacs to crate fear within a population that would substantiate the need for more government. And that’s a bit scary, but at the same time you have to realize that the box that you stare at every night, that I stare at every night, there’s a chip in that box that’s a two-way chip. So there’s people, if they wanted to right now, they could see inside your house.
Well, they can hear inside your house for sure, because the speaker is both a microphone and a speaker. Things can travel each way. It’s just like a phone. So all things are possible.
It’s a crazy time.
Yeah, it is a little crazy [laughter]. It’s crazy when you think about it, but again we’re all embracing the ark side. I certainly embrace darker concepts, darker things. I have some Satanic beliefs; I have some Christian beliefs. I have this eclectic belief system, and yet I’m still kind of compelled by darkness to a certain degree. Or light through darkness. You can only understand "good" by really sticking your head up the ass of evil. And yet the really dark side of our future is being handed down to us right now in the form of pagers, cell phones, global positioning systems for cars…and we’re all like YEAHHHHH, gotta have it! And that’s a little scary to me, it’s a bit unsettling. But at the same time it’s like here we go man. Hopefully I’ll be here for the ride and see what happens. I don’t have a paranoid view on things, but at the same time most of our technology is coming from military applications and things like that. And we buy it. It’s this consumer application of things that are being used in far more devious and dark ways.
I guess that’s how technology works.