Litany: Interview Archive

Cameron, J. "ohGr.", 2001.

I've found myself at a near loss for words when it comes to describing Nivek Ogre and what he, along with the other members of Skinny Puppy, had done to the industrial music genre over the past couple of decades. So many revolutionary concepts and ideals were lead by Ogre and Co. in any, and every, conceivable manner. After Skinny Puppy died along with Dwayne Goettel in 1995, Ogre and Cevin Key went their separate ways only to be reunited for the Ohgr tour in 2001. I didn't give the Ohgr record the best of reviews, but to have Key and Ogre on stage together was the most incredible thing I've ever witnessed. No Skinny Puppy material was performed, though I don't think anyone would have cared if they did nothing besides boy band covers. About a week prior to the show I was given an opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity to speak with a man who is quite possibly the biggest pioneer in the history of industrial music. The 20 minutes I spent on the phone with Nivek Ogre was 20 minutes I'm most certain will be burned into my mind forever.

SLUG: You must've had a plethora of labels wanting to release this record. Why did [cuts me off]…

OGRE: Oh no, I certainly didn't have a plethora. If I had a plethora of labels wanting to release the record I would never have signed to Spitfire. It was really tough. Maybe I didn't do it in the right way because I tried to do it myself. I tried to go to all these labels and sell myself, which was really depressing [laughs], and really humiliating. At that time people were looking for the next Britney Spears. I went in somewhere and this guy was having an affair with his secretary, and he says to me, "Look. I have a kid on the way, my wife is about to divorce me, I need somebody that‚s going to sell 200,000 right out the door." Of course I would love to sell 200,000 right out the door, but that requires a lot of marketing money and stuff like that. What these people are looking for is for somebody to come in with 3 songs that are completely fucking mind-blowing. I guess at the time that my demos were out they weren't as well put together because people are coming back since then and are showing interest once again, but this is all after the fact. I've been playing catch-up for five years basically.

SLUG: Any groupies?

OGRE: Now? [really evil laugh] Naw. I'm not real big into groupies. I'm looking for a deeper relationship than that whole vibe.

SLUG: How does it feel to be such an icon in the industry? That every industrial musician has at least one Skinny Puppy album that they see as a landmark for their musical inspiration?

OGRE: It's not just me ultimately. I mean, Skinny Puppy was a trio of people. With Skinny Puppy I'm a little more comfortable with being something that was a part of something, one third of something that's maybe inspired a lot of people. I'm hearing that more and more now as I do press. Prior to doing press, in my five year history of trying to get this record released, [I was] feeling like a piece of shit in the record industry. It's nice to hear this stuff now, but I don't really give it much thought. It isn't what drives me to keep doing what I'm doing, I'll put it that way.

SLUG: What about the rip-offs? Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson. Just blatant rip-offs of Skinny Puppy. Does that piss you off?

OGRE: What is it they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? [laughs] Fuck, I'll leave it at that.

SLUG: Would you rather be in the studio or on stage?

OGRE: I used to say that I'd rather be in the studio because Skinny Puppy performances were extremely taxing and painful at times, and generally really difficult because in a lot of instances you're dealing with anti-melody. You're not dealing with necessarily grooves, you're dealing with teutonic, bashing rhythms, and crashing things going against each other. With the Ohgr set it's really a fucking guitar so it‚s a bit of a different thing. I'm reconnecting a part of me as a performer that's not really involved and layered in props, and having to make sure that all this theatre goes off correctly within the confines of a rock and roll show, which is total chaos.

SLUG: Invisible Records mentioned somewhat of a fallout between you and Martin Atkins. No possibility of another Ritalin record?

OGRE: I don't know if there's a fallout really. Martin doesn't pay mechanicals. He doesn't pay mechanicals. He just neglects to pay mechanicals to his artists. I put specifically in the contract that I want mechanicals, that I want a 50/50 profit share, which is what the Pigface thing always was. I'm pretty adamant about stuff like that. Fuck me once shame on you, fuck me twice shame on me. So it is what it is. When we did that record I was really depressed. That was the first record I did after Skinny Puppy and to be honest with you that record did very little for me from a career perspective because it only sold [a small] amount of records and after that when I was trying to sell this Welt thing everyone would look at that record.

SLUG: Well, you two had a relationship before that. Did that make you feel betrayed as a friend as well?

OGRE: No, because that's the way that Martin is. Like is said, fuck me once shame on you, fuck me twice shame on me. I knew what I was getting into to a certain degree, but I gave him the chance to prove me wrong, prove himself wrong, or whatever and the same thing happened again. I never hear from him then he feels like I'm fucking him by saying things like this to you. That is the vicious circle that is Martin's world. I think he has that relationship with a lot of people and I just became one of them finally. But I will say this, Martin cared enough about me when I was a drug addict to pull me out of Vancouver at a very critical time when I was very ill and took me on the road with Pigface. I ended up in Sweden with Hepatitis A, but that was my turning point. That was when I looked myself in the mirror and said, "Okay, this isn't working." So, I have that emotional tie to Martin that will never end and I will always be respectful to him.

SLUG: How was it playing the Doomsday Festival this past summer as Skinny Puppy without Dwayne?

OGRE: It was a bit weird without Dwayne, but it was so chaotic and so mind-blowing that we kind of got over that. There was a huge amount of apprehension and fear going into that. I did it because I separated from my wife, they had made offers for 3 years, I threw out a number and they agreed to it so I did it. It was terrifying. Kind of one of those trial by fire type of things because I got on stage and everything started going wrong. I found within me something that I thought was only manifested by drugs. The spontaneity and this ability to take information in and spit it out right away. It was really great because when it was over it was over. We didn't have to get up and do again the next day. It was just kind of a pleasant experience.

So there you have it. If you missed the show I'd like you to go to the nearest Home Depot and stick your finger the key cutting machine. Back to Litany