Litany: Interview Archive

???. "Toxicologically Speaking or an Evening with Nivek Ogre." Industrial Disinformation Station, June 1998.

Have You Heard the Skinny Puppy Covers compilation and what were your thoughts?

Haven?t heard it, just heard of it, and what I?ve heard of it doesn?t appeal to me that much, kinda like quickly put together heaved out crap. We were approached to submit something when we were recording the Ritalin record and basically it came off to me as this marketing ploy to kinda say ?finally together again on 1 record the 3 original members of skinny puppy? and it also seemed like the ultimate form of nepotism to pat myself on the back and pay tribute to myself. It seemed absolutely ridiculous so I chose not to for those reasons. I heard they mispelt ?Worlock? and called me Nick Ogre which is fine I should pick up Nick as first name

And what is the current situation with the Puppy remixes?

I?m more into the Nettwork remixes record, Mark Walk and myself contributed to that. We were going to do a remix of ?Smothered Hope?, but we couldn?t find the tapes, the tapes are missing for both ?Bites? and ?Remission?, so we actually re-recorded ?Smothered Hope?, which was an interesting experience and kind of toned it down a little bit although the music behind it is quite chaotic and I?m happy with how that turned out, and I?ve heard some of the other mixes, there's mix of ?Worlock? and its really nice and really impressive, Adrian Sherwood's mix which is a cool and a bit of a shock to the system and Autechre did a mix of ?Killing Game?, which is completely insane, so I really had to sit back and listen to it and go okay, I actually found myself taking the old 'well is this releasable hat' off my head and going NO this is totally artistically correct, the way that they did it, its just the most nasty remix of ?Killing Game?, it's total Autechre, it's as if they took their pad patches and just ran our tracks from each song through effects and its just this cacophony its really interesting so I?m kinda more excited about that because the production quality is pretty top notch and sounds pretty good, so I think that is the record to look for as far as any sort of coverage on Skinny Puppy.

To allay the usual rumors, is there any chance of the remaining Skinny Puppy members to get together to do anything?

I have met and talked with Cevin and at this point for me, I?ve had some lag time with my record that went down with American recordings in 1995 and I?m working on trying to get that material back right now and I have a deal for it and Mark and I are going to start recording again this summer. I really enjoy working with Mark and I think he is incredibly talented and I don?t think anybody has heard any of that stuff. This collaboration with Martin is kinda one area, one direction and was like a big bowel movement in a lot of ways as if everything came out in one big gush and I got the chance to go in all these different areas and check things out, some things may have worked for some people and some things may not have worked and I think that set me up confidence wise. I really went into this dark delerium and came out the other end I think a better person in the long run. That is one of the reasons "Scarecrow" is on the record, its just because that is something that I did to find solace in my day to day activities and so I think that this record is going to take me down a path and I think any renew with Skinny Puppy is pretty unsure at best.

What is the current situation with the W.E.L.T project?

We may have to rename it, but I kinda of hope to tag on the Rx thing and find some continuity with the whole. Its very interesting, with elements of Eno?s pop stuff and a lot of really good programming and layering with odd melodies going on, a lot more melodically based musically than the Ritalin project so in terms of a linear progression, the Ritalin project should come first.

What input did you have into it then?

I did a bit of programming, basically the W.E.L.T sessions in 95 was a chance for me, Mark and I worked together on ?The Process?, and he came down and we met and became fast friends, when we started working on the W.E.L.T project he pushed me to towards singing bed tracks without any effects on them, to be effected later or whatever, but actually really concentrate on not having any effects when laying down bed tracks. During "The Process" it was terrifying obviously...like having all of your coverings off and your small parts exposed. During the W.E.L.T stuff I think I had a chance to really spend 8 months and work on developing the tonality of my voice, just within the realm of confidence and things like that, so I think that has an influence on the W.E.L.T record. and I think being just a 2 person project in the studio sense its given me a lot more control as to what I like and don?t like about it, but the W.E.L.T stuff is probably a lot more electronic sounding than the Ritalin record, the Ritalin record was done inexpensively, but it sounds really good and is really well made with top notch post production but at its heart its quite a low tech record, its not dealing with a lot of technology from the perspective of writing.

How was the KMFDM tour, was it encouraging to receive such a positive response from the crowd?

It was a lot of fun, really professional people, we toured here with Pig for half a tour and then with Rammstein and I think the last part with Rammstein was a blast, they are really nice people and kind an interesting show. It was a pretty simple show for me, just three or four songs. And I was just up there at the beginning of May with KMFDM recording a couple of new songs for the new record. One song which was a collaboration between Sascha, Tim Skold, Bill Reiflin and myself, so it's kinda an interesting sad kinda melancholy gothy ballad with some humor to it, it has this almost German bear swilling chorus ?pass the meat from which I stink of? which were influenced from the tour and singing ?RAMMSTEIN?. The Rammstein guys, they were a little shy at first and a little withdrawn and had a Germanic poise to them and so I wasn?t sure if they wanted to be talked to or whatever, but I ended up talking to Til and they are really good people. I?m not sure if you?ve seen their videos but I really like their videos a lot, they are really nice looking videos, they are playing to ten thousand kids in Germany who are screaming every lyric to every song, so they have a lot of money behind them and they basically spent their own money bringing the pyro and kit over to here. So hats off to them I don?t think it's necessarily a money band or a huge hype thing, once they get going with it I think they make it work. And Raymond (Pig), I didn?t realize, but I hung out with him back in 86 when we brought Naubauten over to the expo in Vancouver, I was working with Myra Davies who is my mentor who took me off the streets, she?s an art historian, and she gave me a bit of culture and she and I brought over Test Dept. for a Ministy Of Power show, which we did for a lot of artists in the surrounding areas of Vancouver. And Naubauten, which is my personal favorite, just from a romantic standpoint, we got them a huge sound system and they played on this outdoor stage. And it was cool hearing them sound checking over this putrid fair that was set up I think the theme was transportation and communication which basically came down to an over inflated look at tourism, but Raymond was there doing sound for them. And we went down to Seattle with them. So we met at the first gig of KMFDM and he was like "wow you were at blah blah blah....". I had a gas can and they had me making fires at the Seattle shows it was an outdoor show at a park. I poured gas from the gas can into a garbage can lid and the gas leaped across like a little fountain back into the gas can and was like a fuse. People panicked and came out with these dry chemical extinguishers and nobody could breathe and I was sitting at the back of the stage huddled in a ball just waiting for the shit to come down but nobody cared, Blixa was like ?no no its great I love shit like that we used to throw small molotov cocktails at each other at shows? .

How did the Ritalin project come about...where was the point when you and Martin said yeah lets do it?

Basically just a phone call, Martin called me up and it was a good time emotionally and psychologically, the W.E.L.T record had been put on hold and it seemed like it was pointless at that time to resurrect it and he called me up out of the blue and said do you want to do a record and I said I don?t know. There were talks about it being a more experimental record in the terms of a lot looser song structures and things like that, then from that point it took on a life of its own. We did about four sessions were we jammed together a lot of material and a lot of editing afterwards. I?ve known Martin since 87.

Why should someone buy the new Ritalin release?

I don?t really know if I can give people a why they should go and buy it I mean I guess if they are force fed it to them maybe they would buy it, but I doubt that is an option in keeping with distribution and that game of trying to market a record. As with any purchase I would advise somebody to listen to it, I have never been good at selling myself, selling my soul maybe...

Was it a conscious decision to put the "Scarecrow" cover as the first track....as it is very different from your previous works?

Absolutely, I have been labeled as the one who brought guitars into Skinny Puppy and ruined Skinny Puppy and that I was going to do this horrible metal record at some point, so it was a tongue in cheek stab at people that were ?oh god what the fuck is he doing what an arse? and its a minute and a half, its self indulgence I love Syd Barret and as I was saying before, it has relevance to me artistically cos it was something that was a panacea during a very difficult point. I think when you make decisions like that, it is just an artistic decision and it was a lot of fun to do.

You tried Ritalin once apparently, how did this effect you?

Yes I did, I was prescribed 10 tablets of which I still have 5, its nasty, its horrible and since then I have done some research and talked to some kids that were put on Ritalin when they were young. It basically brings you so down that if you are hyperactive, I guess the idea is that you have a reverse tolerance so you feed a kid speed and the kid calms down, and Ritalin is an especially nasty form of speed, coming from somebody who?s done a lot of illegal drugs. It just turned me into a bit of a zombie in a way, were I was just focussing on one thing you can't help but focus on something cos you just feel like shit, and when you come of it it's this further plunge down, I just have no idea why they proscribe it so much for children that have hyperactive problems when it could be diet related. These week one-pill cure alls, my wife had done a paper on the coming trend of these flavored syrups anti depressant syrups for kids and yunno Flintstones chewable anti depressant will soon be on the market. And her questioning was pointed more towards the use of these types of drugs on the developing brain for some burned out mother fucker like myself for example or someone really depressed, I think seratonin re-uptake inhibitors are a pretty safe class of drugs, but I don?t know about using them on children, especially with the useless gastropods that are walking the planet nowadays, they will immediately gravitate towards something that they can shove down a kids throat without really dealing with the problem on a one to one basis and checking out other things, they are all looking for this instant oral gratification this fixation with whatever they can stuff down their throat to solve the problem.

Was any of the record recorded under the influence of the drug?

No, it was done before hand, the reason why, I really like the way Ritalin sounds, it has this kind of dark cabalesque sort of vibe to it in the sense of these things being so easily disseminated to children and the effect that has on a lot of children, so it was something that I wanted to try just to have an understanding of it and I wanted to talk to some kids that were on it and then when we found out we couldn?t necessarily use the name Ritalin or any form of the name like R.I.T.A.L.I.N because of convolution, it became apparent to me that the only way around it, because I still wanted to somehow connect Ritalin to the name because I wanted people to talk about it. And if other people are talking about it we can t be sued, what I actually wanted to do was to use the word Ritalin and actually go to court if somebody tried to shut the project down however Invisible obviously isn?t willing to back something like that, although most labels wouldn?t back something like that, but I think it would be interesting to push the boundaries of free speech, if you want to go out and banner something and speak negatively or positively about it because you have a feeling about it you should be able to do so, however I guess within the law there is the idea of actually naming a product something that becomes a little strange. It goes beyond being a word and being a property. I just thought it would have been an interesting thing to try to see what would happen, and one day if I ever have disposable income like that it would be interesting to test that because I think within the realm of art you should have total freedom to say and do whatever.

What is the over riding feeling you have in retrospect of the sessions for the album?

One of my most painful memories was when there was some horrible ghost like feedback loop that was probably about 150db that kept occurring at around 4 in the morning and I still to this day think I have nerve damage in various peripheral parts of my body from that jolt of sound and it happened like 3 or 4 times till we finally called it so that?s an example of suffering for your fucking art man, absolutely, if that ever happens to you, you will know cos it was just horrible I think I had nightmares about that night for days I just didn?t feel well, but other than that it was a really pleasant experience and a lot of fun, a really casual working environment we weren?t working in a studio where time was really a problem. The people that chipped in, Chris Green at ASI did a fucking amazing job, he went the distance on the record and made it sound really good in the last few hours prior to it being totally closed down. To do a record where you are not really shut within the confinement of a set of parameters that have been put upon you by your own fan base I think is really a liberating experience, it may not win the hearts of die hard Skinny Puppy fans, but at the same time I think for me personally to stretch in this area was one of the best things I could have done.

Was it refreshing to be not concerned as much with the commercial aesthetics of the release as it was to be released on Invisible, who are less likely to demand a commercial record, and of course you were working with Martin of the label?

You can hear the thing with working with the guy who runs the label, he probably knows more than anybody how it should sound, so there are some pretty sounding tracks on there, but they have been tainted, like ?And When?, which is one of my favorite tracks, and that was Martin's idea and then my idea was to totally twist the vocal and have this sweet vocal because it is something that I certainly enjoy doing I don?t mind doing it and at the same time it has a lot of dark overtones to it, so that was an experiment that turned out a success and yet is pretty pop oriented in a lot of ways.

What is the one thing that you would say you try to convey to your audience through your music?

I think the only thing I can give out to my audience whoever and whatever age group they might be is that with whatever I have done I have tried to remain pretty honest, to a fault at times with whatever is going on in my life and how I feel at that particular time, that is why it is hard for me to put on facades and try to be something for a generation of people that have only experienced the Skinny Puppy side of things which was more of a real time diary, I was lost in a muddle of my own thoughts and my own drug addiction and a lot of chaos and stuff that I didn?t understand at the time that I was writing about, and when I occasionally listen back to it, it takes on a whole different meaning and it has some markers for me as far as remembering certain things that maybe I wouldn?t have the possibility to remember because I have blotted out that part of my brain. So I think with everything I do, and with every collaboration that I do, there is a level of honesty that I want to maintain that has to do with my own growth and my own personal explorations, and as long as I don?t slip into this gotta create music to meet up to this hype driven image that I have created for myself I am going to be really happy, once I step over the line and become a parody, there have been moments of parody in my life too, but once I really take that step to be somebody so disconnected from who I really am on a disc of music, then I think it is time to totally get away and go back to the garden and grow potatoes.

What responses, both positive and negative have you had to this record?

Yeah, there has been lots of feedback, some good and some not so good, and to the ones that are good I just got to say thanks and to the ones that are not so good, well just wait, there are different sides to the coin that are going to be showing in the next few years cos I am going to be doing various projects with other people or maybe once the project with Mark gets going they will see another side to it which may be more palatable.

What are the future plans for Ritalin and yourself...tours/singles?

I need to try to accumulate some more material, and I have been talking to Bill Morrison who did all the videos for "The Process", he did "Killing Game", "Spasmolytic" and he?s a musician himself and he is going to come tour with me once I decide to go and do something, so once I have something in my hands that is going to get back to doing a more multimedia based show and a performance show with proper production, I?m there. Because that is what I want to do, there is something totally liberating about doing a performance style show, being part of a band and just going and playing shows, I don?t mind it, and with KMFDM trying to find my place within all that was difficult, there are lot of people on stage and you are working within somebody else?s line and that was the challenging part of it. To approach what I want to do in the future as being a straight ahead band, I am not that interested in doing it, I want to do something more media based that uses films and uses interactions with certain things and uses a lot of mechanical things, I have ideas about what I want to do, but its being in the position to really take advantage of that.

Are you interested in producing more multi media soundtracks, like the Descent one for instance?

We did descent, those things tend to fund other things, we did descent because American wasn't paying us at the time and we had to keep paying our studio bills up in Seattle, so its a bit of a scramble, but as long as I can remain with a certain perspective I?m my own sense of quality control then I?ll do whatever as long as it is something I am into doing and we have the freedom to do whatever we want. Without sound producers on my back going, ?can we turn up the bass drum?.

Nick Ogre (!) Was Talking to the Industrial Disinformation Station in June 98.

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