Litany: Interview Archive

Spainhower, Mark. "???" Vinyl Propoganda, November / December 1988, vol. I, no. 8.

First of all, I’d like you to clarify your position on animal rights.

Basically, for the last 25 years, I’ve been looking for something to believe in, and to believe that there is some good out there, and that I can actually change something. And when I was young, growing up, I always thought that animal experimentation was necessary, that there was some reason for it, that there was some good being done with it. But since then, through the people I’ve met in the hard-core groups of animal rights individuals – not just the major media sources and major groups for animal rights, who are splintered, factioned out into “This is cool, this isn’t, some do this, some don’t”… some don’t like ALF because they’re violent, breaking into labs… some feel that despite the violence they’re doing animals some good. So, I’m quite disillusioned with that. So, I decided this band has been given a medium. It’s been given a group of people, and that group of people is growing. And what initially brings people into [our music] is problems. It’s phobia. It’s those types of things that we’re dealing with, that’s what I’m dealing with myself, before I could really reach out to something else. We decided to try and present a show that would educate kids… who maybe are thinking the same things I was thinking at that age. But they get this education about the topic, and eventually, when they’re 25, my age, they’ll be that much further along. They’ll be ten years further along than I was at the time. And then a change can take place. It has to change in people’s consciousness; obviously, it has to start there. You can’t just go and tell a bunch of people, “Okay, we’re against this.” People have to know why. So our show is trying to stimulate those thoughts… trying to get people to basically search out, the same way I did. And then they’ll come to an understanding, it’ll be plain to them what we’re telling them.

So, to clarify that, you’re against all animal experimentation?

All of it. All animal experimentation. Every bit of it. My brother’s a doctor, too; it’s a very hardline stance. But, yes. I mean, the only reason we’re living longer nowadays is because of the food we’re eating, and the foods we’re not eating, and the preventative medicine that we’re taking upon ourselves, isn’t that correct?

Well, I’d say when it applies, it applies.

Well, it applies. Because everything else is quite natural… in the sense a lot of these things that [medical science] does – we have premature babies, I had a girlfriend once who was a premature baby, she didn’t feel like she was supposed to have been born. She was very depressed. And that’s the light side of it. Then you take a lot of babies that are born, with, say, drug disorders like Thalidomide, when they have defects… the amount of defects that come out from the drugs we’re taking, and the defects create an industry within an industry. Arms, prosthetic devices… that industry becomes bigger and bigger. What we’re doing is prolonging life. But are we prolonging life, or are we prolonging agony within life?

Well that’s an obvious aspect of medical technology, that the senseless prolongation of life is pretty common, and the right to die movement is gaining a lot of momentum, and I think with good reason. But, then again, on the other hand, your is an extremely polarized position, and I’m curious to know how you feel about something like AIDS-

That’s a good subject. AIDS to me is just another growth industry. It’s a disease which is being treated by a doctor as a very mutant form of syphilis. He has a hundred patients on high doses of penicillin, which is another thing the medical industry has given us – years and years of antibiotics, to the point where [you lose] your own antibodies. But these people are on very high doses of penicillin, and they haven’t progressed in their disease. All the testing they do on animals – you know, they just came up with a rat that has been genetically mutated to have the same blood types as humans, so they can further test AIDS treatments. So that industry is growing bigger and bigger. Also, how many AIDS patients are there out there? All those patients trying to get drugs, trying to get treatment, and they can’t, because it hasn’t been tested enough. By the time those tests are through, those drugs are going to be so expensive that half the people aren’t going to be able to afford them.

That’s already the case with AZT. Or Dextran Sulfate.

So you end up buying it on the black market, and getting shit. So it seems to me – this is coming from a very personal aspect, and I can’t speak for everybody, but if I had AIDS, I’d want to have available to me anything that there is. I would make myself a human guinea pig, I’m sure anybody would, if they want to live. Or, if they want to die, they’ll let that disease take its course, if that’s what’s supposed to happen. But the experimenting on animals – an animal’s system is so different, using a monkey’s system, … they bring chimps [into] labs and infect them with AIDS, keep them in vacuum chambers for up to eight years, until they die. Those animals are supposed to be immune to AIDS in the first place. They give them high dosages of the AIDS virus to get them into that state, and then let them die a slow death in a vacuum chamber, out of their environments, which is even worse. It’s just all these negative things being perpetuated, which we’re eventually going to bring back as holistically negative … scope to this world as we know it. Because people are relying too much on these things … and, yet, the people that have these diseases can’t get the treatment, because the disease hasn’t…

Yet gone through the organizational structure of medicine.

Yeah, five years … and all that litigation, and all that paperwork, and all that money that goes into testing just to raise the cost of the drugs. It should be free. And as far as I’m concerned, too – this is completely hypothetical, but we have a cure for every disease that we’ve ever come under … it’s within the earth, within nature. And yet we’re ripping down the rain forests, we’re destroying everything, raping the environment. Now, how do we know the cure’s not there? How do we know it’s not something as natural as what they’re treating gangrene with – they use sugar now.

I was reading about the number of undiscovered species of plants and animals in the rain forests, how we’ll never know what we’ve destroyed, because we never catalogued them. Who knows? Maybe we’ve already destroyed the cure for cancer, AIDS, mental retardation, any number of things, because we’re idiots.

Well, let’s hope not. Let’s hope that people will come around. There is change taking place. It’s obvious, within the major media right now, from the Canadian standpoint, anyway. And there is a reversal back to a much more natural way of dealing with things. But we’re stuck in technology. We still haven’t caught up with the technology we’ve created. And we’re still going ahead – Star Wars, all these things outside of us now. We’re serving technology, in this simulated world outside of us that we don’t know, in this last frontier of space. Simulation is another very scary topic that computer technology’s brought upon us, one of its negative aspects is the fact that we can simulate something, create hyper-reality where everything can precede as real. We can send a man through flight simulations, that are so realistic … send them on a bombing mission 100 times, 200 times, until it becomes so natural that when he’s on a real plane, he goes through the same thing, and drops it’s payload without a thought. And that’s scary.

It’s along the lines of how the Army has reportedly been developing weaponry with distinct similarities to video games, so people will feel more at home with them.

Well, that’s a nice story…

My next question is: how are your fans responding to this?

Quite good. We played the show in NY, and since then I’ve had three months to sit back and look at everything, and how it’s being presented, and go over it. We got new material between the shows, which is specifically involved with the issue – The new album is titled VI VI SECT VI –

So it’s pronounced like ‘vivisect.’ I didn’t know if it was like that, or the numbers…

Well, it is “six six sect six” in a sense, too … that’s just taking a shot at what Jimmy Swaggart will do with Mr. Ed … we just thought, well, look at this …we’ll break down all the syllables, and we’ll add our own interpretation at the end, a roman numeral – and what do you have? You’ve got a sect, surrounded by 666, surrounded by evil.

Why did you let your label change the title of Dogshit to Censor?

That was our own choice. If you look at the spine, “Dogshit” still is there. As far as that goes, that would only affect the record stores. The label wouldn’t have cared. But when it came down to getting the product out to where people could see it, and have a look at it, and go past that kind of bit of humor, so then we put “Censor.” Which is still relevant to us, because that’s what we’ve been going through for the last five years. They’ll play all these explicitly sexual videos on MTV, but they won’t play our videos. I’m sorry, not MTV, but the Canadian music channel won’t play our videos, all they’ll play are these explicit heavy metal videos. They are trying to keep people’s minds down, in that compressed, impulsive, primitive statem sex is very much a part of that, a very tempting thing. It’s very easy, very palatable, sex.

I’ve noticed. I’m curious; what has been the specific response to the atrocity exhibition you’re playing to at this point? I understand, from your press release, that there’s a lot of footage smuggled out of labs by animal liberationists.

Well, it’s all pretty common footage. It isn’t anything we’ve gotten together with ALF on. I just want us to go our course, and if these two groups collide, and they want to help us, we’ll more than gladly help them with any message they want to get across. But for now, we’re just using some stock stuff, which is … quite startling.

Are people viewing it as an assault?

No. Not so much as an assault, but as a reinforcement. I was the one who actually edited all the footage together, and I took special care in making sure that … there’s times when it does get to the point where it is an assault, but it has to be. Because some of those things are just so graphic in their reality, and in the content of the misuse of what modern medicine is, within this blood religion – that it has to be said. And it’s being said by the film, blatantly. So anybody that is coming out for just the gore aspects, which there are a few people … unfortunately, the joke’s on them. Because whether they like it or not, they’re being inundated with the message, through the film’s reality. And it’s pretty hard to stomach that. And I’m a real gore-hound, when it comes to the simulated side of it. But the problem with animal experimentation is, these animals are so trusting ... most of them are so trusting, and they have no idea. Whereas humans, involved in shootouts and violent conflicts, they have within their minds a whole philosophy built upon that, from their backgrounds, their religions, from whatever.

The bad animal…

The bad animal, yeah. The diseased animal. And that’s a concept that was put in front of my face: in order for a change to really take place, you have to step back and look at yourself as being an animal. And being a bad animal, in the sense that we view the earth – a living organism, THE living organisim – we feel we own the earth. We’re basically a disease. A the disease is spreading. And killing the organism.

Well, it seems it may well be just a short matter of time before the organism decides to remove the disease.

It’s happening, isn’t it? We’ve been having some of the warmest summers we’re had in our lives…

Break out that Coppertone…

That’s one of the strange things about people in the underground. I’ve spent my whole life indoors, and I’ve been told “Go outside, Kevin, you should go outside and play.” And now, these reports out say that people who stay home, and aren’t out in the sun very much, they’re at home smoking cigarettes and watching TV, it’s actually healthier than jogging in most of our cities.

I knew there was a reason I was hibernating. Did you know that the HIV virus multiplies 100 to 200 times faster in ultraviolet light?

Fuck. I didn’t know that.

To change the subject, what’s the Canadian scene like?

It’s a growing scene, within the alternative side of music. I think that’s happening all over. I think in America, it’s a lot stronger, there’s a lot more people. And a lot of bands don’t have a chance to tour Canada very effectively, because there’s only Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. And a big distance in between. And it would cost a lot of money. So, we’ve basically come full circle with this new record, where we’re going to be able to pay all of our debts, and start with a clean slate, from all the past touring we’ve done. Because we’ve had some problems. Our last American tour we did, we lost $28,000 through mismanagement. And that’s like a year’s wages, for all of us. A year’s royalties, down the tubes. And we had to make that up. And we’ve all been living pretty close to the wire, and getting back in tune with just how far out of control things could get. And now we have a good family touring with us. We’ve got some really good people. They’re all technically proficient, working at wages which are lower than what they’re worth, but they’re very into the project, into the whole sweeping scope of what the band is trying to get across. And they’re all very honest, too. We saw how far it went by not taking control of our own business, how far out we can get … we’ve lost a lot of money to those types of practices, but we expected someone to look after it, and they WILL look after it, damn right they will … so we’ve come to grips with that, and become more unified in a sense.

I saw your first show in San Francisco on your last tour, and I’d really like to know how much in control do you have over yourself when you’re performing?

It’s very strange. I’ve been doing it for five years now, and it’s gotten to be … not like a second person, but I’ve gotten to the point, there was one good lesson that I was taught that if you can get to the point where there’s this thing on stage that you’re actually portraying, and that thing has to be very much a part of you, or you won’t be able to portray it properly. But there has to be this very stiff and staunch thing over on top, like this extension going through your head, that’s watching over everything, and it’s in control at all times. And so although I’m out of control, my mind is within my body, it’s into the performance, it’s going wherever it takes me, but there’s always this other form of reason that is still there, and knows what I have to do, and knows what I have to convey. I’m not too sure which one is the more conscious of the two. That’s the strange thing.

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