Spectre Interview Dec '95 Spectre Magazine Jennifer Chen P. O. Box 474 Lexington, KY 40585-0474 What is the current line-up? Terri: Dave (guitar)and myself have been the constant core members since the band's inception. We currently have Tony S., from our Eden Lost era on bass, and we're working with Eileen Bowe of Dichroic Mirror for live shows and she appears on our new CD, Door in the Dragon's Throat, which also features Paul Rocha on drums and Jon McFerson on bass. When did the idea for Stone 588 manifest? Could you give me some information regarding your musical background and past projects? Terri: Around the time of the birth of goth and the Batcave era, I was more into the anarchist punk movement, later getting into Birthday Party, Lydia Lunch. During that time I played in about 15 bands doing punk, folk and electro-experimental. None of those bands could keep it together usually because the other musicians were substance abusers of various sorts, or in one case our guitarist got in a near-fatal accident and never was the same after that. Later, I recorded my own four track recordings and mixes, playing all of the instruments myself, singing on a variety of recordings, even reggae. I gravitated towards bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus, taking a more serious stance about my involvement in music, feeling frustrated about putting my efforts into bands that never made it out of the garage or into the recording studio, and having to scream to be heard over ego-ridden guitarists! I was fortunate to have met Dave at the time I did. A refreshing change in every aspect! Dave was in Guts on the Floor, a mid-eighties goth band that played at numerous L.A. death rock clubs, as well as some earlier punk bands. We ran in the same circles back in the punk scene, but were never really acquainted until 1992, when a drummer friend of his approached me at the gothic clothing store I own about their desire to reform Guts. That never came to pass, but it was responsible for us meeting again, and starting this band. Since that time, with the maturing of Stone 588 we've had 3 drummers and three bassists, but Dave and I remain constant co-conspirators. Your music has been described as "tribal-gothic" and your vocals compared to such greats as Siouxsie-Sioux. What do you think of these comparisons, and how would you describe your music? Terri: Well the "tribal-gothic" moniker came from our own bio, so we feel that is pretty accurate. We get the Siouxsie comparison, I think because I am a female and Dave's guitar effects sound similar, but as much as I like Siouxsie, I would not list her as an influence vocally. I think I sound more operatic, sing in a higher register, and I have a more unintelligible and cryptic delivery of the lyrics I sing (more in the vein of Cocteau Twins or Dead Can Dance.) Musically we are more a "death rock" band than the dance oriented "gothic" of the current era, and haven't relied on electronics for our sound in the past, but we are integrating keyboards into our newest recordings and live shows. Is there any message you are trying to convey through your music? Where do you draw inspirations for your lyrics from? Does your music emulate personal experiences, etc? Terri: As Stone 588's lyric writer, I don't have a political axe to grind and don't feel musicians in the public eye are necessarily qualified in the role of telling others how to think. My message is deeply personal, and I am inspired by literature, films, history, disaster, and the suffering of relationships. I find myself spontaneously discovering melodies and lyrics while driving, dangerously writing on a notepad on my lap. That how the last song on the CD, Of the Ambush Of God was written en route to the recording session where I insisted on taping it immediately so I wouldn't forget it! I do the found lyric thing too, and a great exercise involves flipping through the pages of romance novels to see what words my finger lands on with my eyes shut. From the thusly formed profundities a song can germinate. Dreams are always a good source, as I write better late at night. The inspiration behind some of the songs are: Lightning Rails about the scores of overworked Irish and Chinese immigrants who died building our nation's rail system. Sunset Abyss covers the subject of crop circles and Celtic mystical folklore. Door in the Dragon's Throat, Westering Moon, Icon Bleeds, and Paradise Fields delve into treacherous romances. Night Behind the Mind pays tribute to the women who were horribly mistreated in the name of God during the witchhunts. Eyes of a Statue is about being buried alive, both metaphorically and otherwise. Ruination tells of a golem, a destructive being created out of clay for the purpose of destroying one's enemies. Stygian Darkness is about my love for the nocturnal hours. I also write of ghosts, vampyres, death, the predictable territory of Goth lyrics! I like the dark mood settings that Stone 588 creates. To me, the music sets a mysterious persona for the band that is thoroughly enhanced by the driving rhythms and beautiful vocals. I sense a wide diversity in musical influences ranging perhaps from post punk, 80's to gothic. What other influences have you drawn from? Terri: Wow! You should be writing our bio! Actually, I had the chance to see Bauhaus live in 1982 and just wasn't interested. When the first wave of goth was happening, the narcissicm of it and the Bowie-worship really turned me off. I do like Bauhaus's music, but I can't cite 80's gothic as an influence. I grew up listening to Big Band music, 30's jazz (my mother hails from New Orleans), cocktail lounge type stuff likeArthur Prysock, Ink Spots, 60's tribal stuff like Martin Denny, Latin Catholic Church records. A thespian in high school, I listened to show tunes and then new wave and punk hit in the '79 and I went and saw Lene Lovich, and later Birthday Party, Lydia Lunch. Of course singing in choir versus rock bands requires very different skills. A soprano has a hard time being heard over the volume of loud amps, so I developed my lower range and a harder style more appropriate to punk. As I returned to less raucous music with Stone 588, I found the higher, operatic register worked within the atmospheric stylings of some of the songs, so I would say I draw more on my Catholic choir training and earlier exposures, than 80's goth. Dave, I know will cite Black Sabbath as an all-time fave, and he lists Siouxsie's John McGeogh, And Also the Trees, Joy Division and Killing Joke's Gordy as his guitar influences. One of the things that really drew me to the band was the name "Stone 588." It is very enigmatic, unlike some band names which blatantly go hand in hand with their style of music. What is the meaning behind this name and where did it originate from? Terri: At first, we actually chose one of those obvious goth names for our band.."Days of Salem"! We changed it immediately after our first show, because we had a song called Stone 588 and the band name evolved from that. Our bio relates a story I read somewhere, stating " Stone 588 draws their name from the legend of the Druid's altar in County Cork, Southern Ireland. Under the stone circle, the cremated body of an infant, a human sacrifice, was found concealed in a large urn, whose burial dates back to c588 B.C." Other mythos have been invented by various band members to further confuse the public. One tale involves a foundation stone from a New York building wherein lies the victim of a Mob slaying, another involves the mystic properties of the all seeing mystic stone..there's the book by the same name... We let listeners of our music choose whatever tale they find the most intriguing! As to a special meaning, within these various explanations, it should be evident that the band has a great love for mystic lore, cryptic literature, ghost stories, tales of subterfuge, and above all, BS! I've noticed Stone 588 has played many shows in the California area. Have you ever played in other parts of the U.S. or Europe? Terri: We've had two tours planned and fall through for us. We don't have the funding to do national or international tours, so we play locally when we can and network a lot of CDs and tapes to retail stores, radio stations and magazines all over the world. From an interview in a current issue of Dark Angel Magazine (#14), I read that you did backing vocals for the band Faith and the Muse during the Procession Tour. What was that experience like? Have you ever collaborated with any other bands? Terri: I was also panned for that performance in the last issue of your magazine! In my own defense, the Faith & the Muse people were too busy running the tour to adequately prepare for that first night, which wasn't the best, admittedly. I learned one song the night before we played that Roxy debut! Doing back up vocals for anyone else is a lot harder than most people think, because you have to emulate their vocal style, phrasing and intonation to make things blend right. different parts of the U.S. and internationally, because I met people that were fans of our music, and it amazed me! I used the opportunity to expose our music to people I met on tour. Hearing one of our songs played at San Francisco's House of Usher club, I almost fainted when I peeked out from backstage and people were dancing to it! Before that we were totally oblivious to the fact people even knew who Stone 588 was outside of L.A. We were just playing for ourselves before that. Now we're on a mission from God. (Or whatever being we might choose as the supreme deity this week.) On a personal level, traveling proved to be intoxicating to me and immediately after that I took off to Europe three times, where I met my Belgian husband. (We were married in the historic Anaheim Cemetery, Oct, 1, 1995.)As far as collaboration, I did backing vocals on the My Suicide CD, and just finished some tracks for Dichroic Mirror's CD. Eileen from that band is playing with us live and appearing on the Damned comp song we're recording, as well as engineering that track also, so its a symbiotic relationship. I've also played in a lot of other bands before Stone 588. There seems to be close-knit "family" sense amongst bands of the Gothic scene in the California area. Are you all supportive of each other when it comes to shows, etc. If so, which bands have helped you and vice versa? Terri: Actually, I can't say any of us feel like we're a part of the so-called goth "scene" in the L.A. area. I'm not at Helter Skelter every week, and although Dave and I have been playing in underground bands since the early eighties, and have naturally made contact with a lot of people, we're not "scenesters." A lot of L.A. goths are clickish and snobby with their attention more to fashion than music. In fact, I've gotten more interest in our band through letters from Europe and other parts of the U.S., than L.A. where goth is defined by pretty boy hair bands and dancing to ten year old records and not embracing new local bands. People overseas don't have the posturing, backstabbing attitude that seems so prevalent on L.A.'s notorious Sunset Strip, and the scenes in San Francisco, Tampa and Chicago were the most open and friendly I've experienced Stateside.The local bands who have helped Stone 588 seem to shun the spotlight of the scene as well, such as Prophetess, Last Dance and Dichroic Mirror. Rick of Last Dance had a club going for awhile where we played, and our bands have played shows together and exchange helpful information with each other. In addition to our loyal local following, we have to mention the support we've received from DJs everywhere who've played us on the radio (like Dach at KUCI.... send CDs for airplay to: P.O. Box 4362 Irvine, CA 92716-4362, and Margaret at KSPC: 111 Harvard Ave, Claremont, CA 91711)To your credit, Spectre will be one of the first better known American magazines to print a Stone 588 interview. So far, your latest release is entitled "Catharsis," a four song cassette that has just been released. How would you differentiate this work from previous ones? Terri: Actually since we last talked, we've gone through an entire run of Catharsis tapes and will not be reissuing any more. We just came out with the Door in the Dragon's Throat CD which has 21 tracks on it. There are a few songs from the Eyes of a Statue cassette, several from Eden Lost, but in newly recorded form, and all four Catharsis tracks appear (but a different, new version of Door...") Additionally there are six new songs, the standouts being Paradise Fields and Ruination, which might be described as more accessible, but NOT commercial. The vocal lines are more melodic. Catharsis, people described as being softer with more emphasis on the vocals. We're always looking for ways to re-invent ourselves. I think the production is getting better, and we spend more time on recording and adding tasteful elements like backing vocals, keyboards or guitar we wouldn't be able to do live. How would you describe yourself as an individual? Terri: I am a carbon-based life form...basically I'm just a punk. That's when I got into music and it defines my attitude about free thought and anti-republicanism. I don't want to be a huge commercial success. What are your feelings about the Gothic scene of the 90's? Your store Ipso Facto, for example seems to be doing well, catering to individuals involved in the Gothic genre..Where do think the Gothic scene is heading towards, in the near future? Is there anything that you find lacking? If so, what would you change about it? Terri: Americans seem to be opening up to the European Darkwave/New Wave/Dark Electro ..whatever you want to call it. It's a fresh influence in a sea of Sisters impersonators. Now with the tremendous crossover of industrial to goth, a lot of bands are moving away from traditional guitar goth towards electronic drums/ more keyboards/distorted vocals. San Francisco has a really happening scene. Lots of clubs for bands to play, not just dancing. L.A. really needs revitalizing. The Mexican goth scene is really expanding here. We did a show for them (its like a cool separate subculture unto itself) and loved the positive response. They're more open to discovering new music. With the growth of Ipso Facto and our mail order division, I've observed goth's entrance into the mainstream thanks to The Crow & Dracula, but I hope that doesn't lead to crass commercialism. I appreciate the subtle, romantic elements of the goth scene, immersing myself in Poe or making a nocturnal visit to a graveyard to watch the bats fly overhead.The negative side of the scene is the speed-drenched narcissism, and I think kids need to discover the classic elements of literature and music from whence the gothic concept came, and not focus on their make-up so much. American youth, our most valuable resource, are in trouble because of our poorly funded education system and a lack of motivation. Violence has become an integral part of our culture and I don't know if we can construct a solution. Sadly, the religious right will probably win in '96 due to apathy on the part of voters, they'll overturn Roe vs. Wade and push women's health issues back to the Dark Ages. Then the goths will really have something to be depressed about. What specific goals or aspirations did you set up for yourself in the wake of the new year? What can we expect in the future from Stone 588? Terri: We have been talking with promoters about a tour of Italy and Israel. No concrete plans exist yet. We'll have to be patient and see. A great deal of what we do from now on will depend on how well the CD sells, in determining how quickly we can afford to go back in the studio for new recordings. I know the CD will open a lot more doors for us in terms of airplay, offers for live shows and awareness of the public of our existence, which will all be very positive. With the new line-up its going to be a period of fresh songwriting and... surprise...we are tuning to regular E now, not down to D, so the old stuff will be more of a challenge for me to sing and will sound a bit different live now, being that its not in as low a key. We won't be doing more than 4 or 5 old songs in the new set, anyway. Some of our goals are getting Stone 588 charted on CMJ and touring the States. If you could have any wish that your heart desired to be fulfilled, what would it be? Terri: I am a pretty practical person, and also a very determined and forceful one when it comes to doing what I desire. I can't think of many dreams I have that wouldn't be reasonable to acheive in my lifetime. So, practically speaking, I have goals such as touring, getting airplay, and not getting ripped off if we are successful. Of course, in the music business, it takes money and luck to get the public's interest and airplay, so who knows what will happen. Interviews like this are a big help in that regard. I don't want to be a megastar. I'm not that people-oriented. I like my privacy. I think one of my more bizarre fantasies is like that episode of Twilight Zone where the nerd bookworm is the last person on Earth and he gets to read all the books in the library without any annoying people bothering him (except for accidentally breaking his glasses!) I like solitude and reading alot, not to mention writing. I already make a decent living, owning a clothing store, but because I work seven days a week, I don't have a lot of free time. I wish I could travel more. But, in the totally impractical dream department, I have to say a personal wish would be that I could stop the aging process; on a global level I wish guns and prejudice were non-existant; and nationally that a educational and health reform agenda had greater importance to our government than the war on drugs! Last words? Terri: I implore the listening public to listen to our CD, read more and travel when you have the chance for a totally mind blowing experience instead of atrophying your mind and body with t.v and substance abuse! That's what the government wants!
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