Litany: Interview Archive

Puppyfan. "Ogre Interview." ???, 1998.

To what extent were you involved in the remix project?

"I approached the whole thing from a different angle. I was invited to take part at the eleventh hour so the project, which was then a straight Skinny Puppy tribute album, was already well underway. I was actually in the process of checking out some of the older Skinny Puppy tapes and had mentioned [to the record company] that I was interested in re-doing one or two with Mark [Walk, "The Process" and W.E.L.T. collaborator] and I was invited to take part that way."

"It's a great representation of Skinny Puppy from a range of mixed genres. Throughout the 13 years of Skinny Puppy we always believed that we were taking from different genres of music and totally dissecting it and reassembling so I enjoyed the idea."

"Yes, it was challenging for me to listen to it but it begat some inspiration to me in as much that I was fascinated where these artists were taking my songs. Some things were perhaps too minimalist and yet there were some excessively OTT work which I thought was great! I personally found it more rewarding to hear the extravagantly re-worked tracks."

How did you react when you heard someone like Deftones tinkering with your output?

"I don't want to single anyone out; in the beginning I had a more judgemental approach to all of the interpretations. I think the interesting thing is that it takes a lot of viewpoints from other genres of music and reinterprets Puppy. The artists have a more personal input and that is what makes it more interesting for me anyway."

Was it uncomfortable to listen to?

"Very much so. I would hear a particular vocal phrase being sung one way yet I'd know how it was done originally and know where that emotion was coming from and it would make me cringe a little bit to hear it in the new form."

Bearing in mind the obvious influence Skinny Puppy has had on Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and Ministry do you know if any overtures were made for them to appear?

"The concept was to distance the project from the usual suspects and concentrate on the fringe artists. Beyond that I don't know, and wouldn't wish to know, the politics. I know Rave [Dave Ogilvie, long-time 'Puppy producer/collaborator] was contacted to be involved and he declined and he does work very closely with Trent and Manson, so the answer is I don't know what went on..."

Would you like to get respect from the NIN and Manson people, after all when you see Manson's stiltwalking routine onstage it's blatantly obvious where it comes from?

"I find it funny. On one hand you have to realise that historically speaking musicians have always stolen from each other. Little Richard ripped off some blues guy, so did The Stones and Zeppellin, so you have to give yourself a chuckle. As far as paying homage to where they got their ideas from is different; to disregard your influences like they have is showing an insecurity - and that's what it is, I'm not being nasty or derogatory at all - they are insecure. There's a part of me that goes, "C'mon guys just admit it!"

Given the success of NIN and Marilyn Manson do you ever wish that Puppy could've broken through to such heights where Trent can take 4 years and people will wait to hear it?

"What a hell! Can you imagine the pressure of expectation? Can you imagine the battles that you must put yourself through because you might not be what you once were yet you are expected to be just that? I'd consider Trent's positition to be a mixed blessing. The ability to re-invent yourself and go off to do new projects without people expecting it to be one thing in particular is what I consider my strengths to be. Maybe Trent does have the ability to do that but at his level in the business it all becomes some weird mathematical equation anyway - with that many records sold where you have to base the next record on the success and style of the previous one, to be defined as simply one thing. That's a pressure I'd rather do without."

Now that the world faces the re-release of the entire Skinny Puppy back catalogue would you see it as the right time for everyone to sit up and finally take note of what Skinny Puppy achieved?

"It would be nice if the world did take note, wouldn't it? Skinny Puppy weren't plodding along asking, "Why isn't anyone noticing what we're doing?" because we were so involved with doing it. It was a very real time excursion into the netherworld and my own depths of unreality. To reflect upon it now is strange. I find it gratifying to know that we were riding a virtual wave that predates all present trends in music for one thing. The most satisfying part is that we fulfilled an idea of being able to sustain ourselves in an unreality that is so off-centre from the norm. It was a tremendously exciting part of my life."

Two years on from the finality of "The Process" has that last album finally achieved a context in your mind?

"From the public's perception, an expression I hate using, I can understand that "The Process" just burst out with little or no warning, but to us it was an extremely laboured birth, wedged in sideways and still born at the end of it all! It went through a lot of hands business-wise and emotionally with losing Dwayne [Goettel, drummer/programmer etc]. It's a huge part of my life emotionally speaking."

Do you regard "The Process" as a complete album?

"I always did. Maybe I was the one who understood it more than anyone else because I was the one left holding the shitty stick when it came to doing press and I had to explain it. Among the confusion and cacophony I still think that it has my best work. It also added certain flavours that we hadn't had before but at the same time I think we could have done more."

What are the current Ogre projects?

"I'm working with Mark Walk who writes with Ruby on a project. He helped out on "The Process" which is where I met him and we started a friendship that carried over into W.E.L.T."

What happened to W.E.L.T.?

"When I left Skinny Puppy I was served "leaving member" papers which meant that American had first refusal on any new material I might write. At that time Skinny Puppy had piled up a lot of bills with "The Process" being delayed. We had demoed 16 tracks and the company really liked W.E.L.T. so I felt confident and we asked for some money to take it one stage further. It was around then that I got wind that American was having financial difficulties, which I think we bore the brunt of, and that 'Puppy had built up some resentment with the delay of "The Process". Obviously I was very concerned over that but I was assured it wouldn't matter. However it dragged on for over 12 months which meant I was free to leave the contract." "It was probably one of the most depressing times of my life. I remember feeling like I was on the wrong end of someone's toilet paper."

And what's happened to the record?

"I'm trying to get W.E.L.T. back from American Recordings. I've opened up a line of dialogue with Rick Rubin [American Recordings label boss] so I'm hoping that we will be able to go back and finish that album soon. Right now I'm working with Mark on a new project in Seattle. It won't be called W.E.L.T. anymore because some punk pop band have taken the name now. "We definitely have a flow going right now and there are labels interested in it but I'm going to wait until the record is totally finished before they hear it!"

The inevitable question: do you have any plans to hook up with cEvin again in the future?

"Not at all. I like cEvin's music and having worked with him for 13 years there's obviously some admiration and respect for his talents but I'm on a different road now and I want to pursue it until the end. All things considered, things which I won't go into here because it's a long, complicated personal bullshit, it's been really good for me to be where I am. We still talk and we still have good communication going over Skinny Puppy business."

Given the "Back and Forth" series of posthumous releases can we expect any more unreleased Skinny Puppy albums to appear out of the vault?

"I don't know because I don't have the keys to the vault! There's probably a file in that vault marked "Ogre's stuff" but I wouldn't know about it. I'm not sure what cEvin has but I have heard rumours of a "Back and Forth 5 & 6". All I can say is send one in the post and don't forget the cheque!"

Copyright PUPPYFAN 1998

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