Kevorkian Death Cycle
This interview was conducted during the Tallahassee stopover of Kevorkian Death Cycle’s autumn U.S. tour. On the eve of both the release of Dark Skies on Metropolis Records (reviewed here last issue) and select dates with Frontline Assembly, the band seemed to be in very high spirits. Spirits that could not be shattered by having to play a criminally under-attended show (1. Low was playing across town. 2. It’s Tallahassee, people! Shame, Shame) at the Cow Haus. Even more impressive was that they actually put on a performance for those present, instead of doing either a jazz-odyssey, concert as extended rehearsal, or just feedback. The album is excellent, their performance was better, and I was charmed by their wit and humor immediately.
Wait, that didn’t sound very aggro, did it? Should I make up something about how they were chewing on steel bolts while carving Skinny Puppy lyrics into their arms? In the dangerously saturated world of industrial/electro/darkwave, they’re contenders, baby. The whole band was present for this little chat: Roger (keyboards), Ryan (vocals), Travers (guitar), Brett (drums).
Now, let’s flash back to a humid October evening, and see if our boys will emerge from the “Hello Cleveland!” touring grind with dignity and sanity intact.
I got a peek at the tour itinerary, and I was impressed that this is a long tour. It’s a huge rock n’ roll tour, a lock-up-your daughters kind of thing!! How are you all coping with it? [laughter]
Roger: Travers [is] the slut, he can answer that one.
Travers: What am I answering?
Ryan: How did we get this whole rock n’ roll Van Halen tour…
Travers: Oh, I wanted to find out how many women I could do. No, just kidding…
Roger: Oh god!
Travers: No, I have no clue.
Ryan: It was our management company. Plus, we wanted a big tour.
Roger: We needed a US tour. We have an album (Dark Skies) coming out October 22nd on Metropolis, and we need to tour behind it.
How long has the tour been going?
Roger: This is our third show, so about a week. We drove 25 hours straight from LA to Austin.
Travers: We were totally just like uhhh… They kicked me out of the driver seat because I was driving for so goddamn long! I was attached! I was all, “No, my car.. no, the wheel! No! No! No!”
I see you’re opening for Front Line Assembly in about a month; is that something hotly anticipated?
Roger: Yeah, good crowd. Lots of people. A good chance to spread the word of the new album.
You’ve got to excuse me, I’m a bit nervous because the Industrial Bible went before me. And you just can’t get any more exhaustive than the Industrial Bible, can you?
Roger: I’ll tell you how it goes. [laughs]
Anyway, you’re gonna play Coney Island High soon?
Roger: Yeah, have you heard of that club?
Yeah, super rad club.
Roger: Good, that date just got added. So I have no idea of what it’s like. I’ve heard it’s like way underground…
Digital Noise Addict is your support act, was that your decision or a management thing?
Roger: Management thing.
But are they a good band?
Roger: Well, I have to say yes. [Laughs] No, they are. Good band. Nice people. I was kind of skeptical at first, but it’s working out well.
Do you have any, uh, Hammer of the Gods type tour stories yet? [laughter]
Roger: Baton Rouge is the place.
Ryan: We lost our minds in Baton Rouge. It was wonderful, it was great to be there.
Trevor: For twelve hours.
Brett: Two of us did. [Pointedly] Others went to bed early!
Am I facing the touring line-up as well as the studio line-up?
Ryan: It’s pretty much… Roger and I go in, Roger writes all the music, and I write all the lyrics. Then we kind of touch everything up and straighten it out. Then Travers comes in and adds some guitar…
Travers: Just guitar.
Ryan: And I think on the next album we’ll have Brett do some live drums.
Brett: HA HA HA!!! Right..
Do you consider yourselves a live band or a studio band?
Ryan: Both, hopefully.
Roger: We’re becoming more of a live act, the more we tour. We toured the East Coast last year and the West Coast the year before that, so more and more we’re becoming a live band.
New record company — Metropolis. How is it going?
Roger: Very good.
Ryan: It’s going great.
Roger: They’ve got us a publicist and –
I was worried that they may have too many bands on their roster to properly look after you.
Roger: I was worried about that too. I was skeptical of that, and so we went with Ras Dva in the beginning. It was like, okay, they can put all of their energy into us, and we don’t have to worry about that. But Metropolis seems to be really pushing the album.
Ryan: They’re treating us really well.
Do you want to plug away on the new album? Talk about some of the images and concepts behind it?
Roger: That’s Ryan’s area.
Roger: He’s really camera shy and really mic shy.
Ryan: That’s the way singers are… The album is a love album. (laughs) No! It’s all ballads. (Turning to Roger) You’re better at it. You do it. You tell him what I’m about.
Roger: What you’re… You don’t want me to do that.
Ryan: Well, it’s a personal album, but with metaphors, with a theme of alien-esque, kind of outer-spacey kind of…
Roger: You’ve got the hard coating shell of the alien theme with the insides being of a totally different origin. With the alien theme covering everything up and keeping it to where everything is, there’s more truth…
Ryan: It paints a picture. It paints a visual picture of an alien…
Roger: There’s more truth but it’s up to you to decide what the truth is.
Ryan: Mainly, it’s about blow jobs.
Roger: If you listen to the song “Babylon” on the album, that I think sums it up. That’s the most visual thing on the album.
Travers: The album was originally to be titled Babylon, but…
Roger: The Rolling Stones…
Roger: Totally. It was gonna be released like…
Roger: Fucking Mick. [laughter]
Do you want to talk about lyrical progression from your earlier work to Dark Skies?
Ryan: I would say that with the first album there was a lot of the stream-of-consciousness kind of stuff, and the demos before that had a lot to do with that, this was where my writing style kind of started. My influences and such. I think that the new album is a lot more focused in what I was saying, instead of just blurting out whatever came out of my mind at the time. There is more of a theme to each song, what I wanted it to be about.
Roger: This record is more planned and organized.
Ryan: Is that a good answer?
It’s funny that at the same time that the tour starts, the Finn Case is in the news. I thought that was ironic.
Roger: Well, it was Virginia.
I have a question about cover songs. It seems you’ve been on a good number of compilations, and the songs I know you’ve done; the One Day at a Time theme song, a rumored Billy Idol song, and a Romeo Void number…
Ryan: The Billy Idol thing never happened. We were waiting…
That’s a shame. But I mean, is this music that you enjoy, is this an aesthetic choice, or is this just for the exposure that a compilation can afford?
Roger: In the eighties, of course, it’s stuff that I was into. Romeo Void, Culture Club, Duran Duran, whatever. Speaking of which, Boy George was at our show in New York last year. It was like, “Oh my god!” No, this was more of a fun thing. Out of all the ’80s songs that I could see writing, that would give us more diversity or versatility, it would be “Never Say Never.” It was kind of like a more fun thing to do than a serious thing. And the One Day at a Time thing, that was more like, we had a choice, didn’t we?
Ryan: We were gonna do that, or…
Roger: Or the Archie Bunker one, the All in the Family theme. We chose the One Day at a Time theme.
Ryan: Then we were trying to get our Spice Girls thing together on Reconstriction. Spice Boys.
Roger: He was gonna be Old Spice.
Ryan: With industrial singers… [laughs]
I just wonder about whether doing these compilations was for shared aesthetics or exposure. You know how struggling actors often have to do hemorrhoid or laxative commercials?
Roger: Right. Well, that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t do the second one. Everyone is jumping on this bandwagon of compilations and Eighties and what have you.
Ryan: And the labels make all the money.
Roger: Right. The labels make all the money, we don’t. So why should I give them, for free, my time, my energy for them to make money. Fuck it. We used them. They used us.
Ryan: We’re going to sound like such pompous asses.
Roger: No, but with a thing like that, you have to draw lines.
Ryan: Somewhere, or you’re gonna be constantly be doing them.
How comfortable do you feel with the label “Industrial”?
Travers: We’re more sort of a psychedelic 60’s sound, really.
Roger: I really look at us as more of a…
Ryan: If people want to put us in the Industrial genre, fine. Whatever.
Roger: People have to put a tag on something in order to buy it.
Ryan: But I don’t think that we’re following all of the typical “Industrial” concepts. As far as I’m concerned, what I remember as industrial, there are no industrial bands anymore. As far as when industrial was categorized. That was noise, that was people destroying their bodies onstage. It was art, it was a visual thing.
Travers: It was a label that became a genre.
Roger: It’s dance music. I consider it dance music for the ’90s.
Ryan: Dance with an edge.
Travers: We are a rock band. [Laughter]
Influences? Come on, now.
Travers: I’d say my influences would be definitely Black Sabbath…
Brett: Oh shit.
Ryan: Well, he’s the rock guy.
Travers: That’s right! I play guitar, so come on! There’s the stereotypical Skinny Puppy in there, and …
Roger: They’re a very good band, though.
Travers: And probably Sisters of Mercy. They’re a big influence.
Ryan: Oh, god. Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, that’s about it I guess.
Roger: I’ll start it off by saying Abba. That’s what I grew up on, my parents listened to Abba, so I was forced to love it. Your basic, all of your Eighties things, I can still love it, I can still listen to it. As far as industrial music goes, KMFDM, Front 242, Skinny Puppy. But I would say more so 242 in terms of writing.
[Everyone turns to Brett]
Ryan: Uh oh, here we go.
Ryan: Beach Boys…
Brett: [Taps microphone] My favorites would be Elvis Costello, I love Nina Simone, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett. I love Big Black and Shellac, all of the Albini projects.
Travers: Tell them about Judas Priest.
Brett: Mostly just jazz and soul, that’s what I’m into.
Ryan: Oh, and new Madonna definitely.
Did any of you go to see the Bauhaus reunion deal?
Roger: He did.
Ryan: I did. I thought it was great. I’m glad they did it. Even though they probably only did it for money.
Roger: It’s like, “Hi!”
Ryan: I never got the chance to see them when I was a kid.
Who’s your favorite televangelist? I’m afraid this might only be a Florida question.
Ryan: How about the one with the eyebrows, the hair…
Roger: Oh God, yeah!! The woman with the big blonde hair!
Travers: What’s her name? Not Tammi Faye?
Ryan: She’s the new Tammi Faye.
Travers: She’s awful.
Brett: She’s awesome.
Wait, she’s the one who sings all the time, right?
Brett: Yeah, and she’s got the huge eyelashes. She talks about all of the donations going to the network, and how they bought a new satellite, and the curtains, aren’t the curtains beautiful? And my new face and my new hair…
Favorite professional wrestler? Anyone?
Travers: Dude, the Undertaker, totally.
Roger: I don’t really know the names…
Travers: I like the one who paints his face, and, you know, he wears the little outfit…
Roger: The one in the leather, the one in the leather chaps…
Who would win in a fight between Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time actresses)?
Roger: Oh my god.
Travers: Between who?
Ryan: Mackenzie Phillips.
Travers: Who the fuck is that?
Roger: One Day at a Time.
Travers: Oh, Mackenzie.
Roger: I would say Mackenzie Phillips.
Ryan: Valerie Bertinelli.
Roger: Why would you say Valerie?
Brett: It depends on if Eddie Van Halen is present.
Plans after the tour?
Roger: Record the new album. My part’s already written, now we just have to write Ryan’s and go into the studio to record it.
Should we expect this shortly?
Roger: No. It will be out…
Ryan: Hopefully by like June. Hopefully. I mean, the new album should have been out last June…
Roger: We’ve gone through so much shit to get this album out.
Trevor: We’ve been on this album for a long time…
Why the delay? Contractual issues?
Travers: I’ve been in the band for three years, and Babylon was one of the tracks I heard when I first joined the band.
Roger: But we had most of this album conceptualized when we were working on the last one. And the same with the new one, we’ve got large parts of it written. It’s a constant thing.
Ryan: It just takes a long time to get it recorded and all put together for release.
Did I miss anything that any of the others covered?
Ryan: No, you got it all…
Roger: And then some… Totally…
Travers: Rock on.
Roger: There we go.