Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Interview with WILLIE “LOCO” ALEXANDER

Author/journalist Joel Gausten talks with the legendary Willie “Loco” Alexander (Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band/The Velvet Underground/The Lost/The Grass Menagerie/The Bagatelle/Solo) about his long and storied life in music. 

Willie “Loco” Alexander







EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com


Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Lost BURZUM Interview




Four years ago today, I received a cryptic e-mail out of the blue from a sender with “burzum” in their address. Naturally, my interest was piqued immediately, as Burzum was the musical project by one of the most notorious figures in music history: Varg Vikernes.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with ol’ Mr. V., he’s … um … an interesting fellow worth looking up. (The book Lords of Chaos and the subsequent film of the same name are good—if heavily sensationalized—places to start.)

 

The e-mail included a link to download Burzum’s then-latest (and apparently final) album, Thulêan Mysteries, which the e-mail explained was conceived by Vikernes as a companion piece to his roleplaying game, MYFAROG (Mythic Fantasy Role-Playing Game). The communique also included a lengthy, pre-written Q&A, preceded by an explanation that “my manager convinced me I should do an interview to promote the album.”

 

Did this e-mail—the only one I’ve ever received from this sender—really come from the man himself? Only Varg and Satan know for sure, but my reply requesting to schedule a proper one-on-one interview went unanswered.

 

Spooky shit, yo.

 

Unfortunately, the e-mail had turned up at the worst possible time for me to do anything with it. I was in the process of moving out of my house, and news reports kept warning of a mysterious virus that was spreading around the world. With everything else going on, this whole Burzum business got pushed to the back burner and subsequently forgotten … until I recently came across the original message while cleaning up my inbox.  

 

Here’s the vast majority of the interview I had received 48 months ago, presented below with minimal edits (but with the omission of a few statements that were … well … more than a bit beyond the pale). And for the record, Thulêan Mysteries is quite good.

 

Enjoy!   

 
With the album coming to fruition in this fashion, was there a particular strategy you employed in terms of the track order? Was anything excluded from the release, and, if so, why?
Everything I had not released on a CD before was included, with the exception of the tracks I had from some old rehearsal tape. The latter was not included because it was just too different and ... just a rehearsal.
What I did was to put all the tracks on a track list and then play it on repeat. After some listens, I had a good idea how to organize it. Voila.
Was there ever a point where you had the album in mind and then recorded tracks specifically for the release?
No. Never. All these tracks are old recordings, or at least rather old. Like a year or so minimum, and not older than five years tops.
How do you tend to work when you’re composing? Is it a case of finding time here and there around looking after the children and doing other work, or do you set aside long periods of time exclusively to write?
I guess a bit here and there is the most correct. And really, I tend not to work with music at all ... I just ‘accidentally’ made this one the last few years.
What is your recording process currently in terms of instruments and recording equipment? Were these tracks all recorded at your home or did you enter an external studio?
Currently, I have no recording process at all. I haven’t touched an instrument in a long time, other than to move it out of the way in order to get to what is stored behind it on the shelf or in the barn. It’s all just collecting dust.
The electronic music on this album is recorded on my wife’s 10-year-old Mini-Mac, using GarageBand, and I used a microphone that I got from Amazon for the vocals. The lyre playing was recorded in our VW van, in the driver’s seat, using a camera that I normally used to record YouTube videos on. It had a decent microphone, and it turned out quite well. I think. The ‘drumming’ bit in one of them, ‘The Great Sleep,’ is just me tapping my foot on the floor of the car. Yeah, a ‘Trve Kvlt BM drum kit’ for you right there ...
So if I understand you correctly, you haven’t played or made music for about a year? Is it a case of simply being too busy or not feeling inspired to do so?
With the risk of sounding a bit direct here, I would say I simply have no interest in playing music. I guess my distaste for it has grown sufficiently for me to not even want to be inspired anymore. There are so many better and more useful things to do in life.
You previously stated, “Since my true passion has never been music, but actually tabletop role-playing games, I figured I should make this an album intended for that use - as background music for my own MYFAROG (Mythic Fantasy Role-playing Game).”
Could you therefore tell us about MYFAROG, in terms of concept and mechanics, particularly for readers who may only have a passing familiarity with roleplaying games?
It’s a fantasy RPG based around our own pre-Christian heritage, in the semi-fictional land of Thule, where you can either just have fun playing a fantasy role-playing game or actually learn something about our old traditions, gods, symbols, values, and purpose. That’s your choice. The mechanics are designed to make sense and to cover any thinkable and unthinkable situation the player characters might end up in. You cast three six-sided dice, add modifiers (like your character’s relevant skill proficiency) and check this up against a target number. Then you achieve a certain degree of success or failure, depending on the result, ranging from fumbles and critical failures, failures and semi-successes to successes and critical successes. That would be the basics.
Since MYFAROG seems to be created with a lot of educational/historical considerations, did you ever think about making the game purely historical, i.e., based in the real world, without the elves, trolls and other otherworldly beings? What made you decide to go the route you did?
To me, an RPG should be educative, but it must also be fun, and a fantastical world is more fun than reality. On the other hand, history as we know it, is also pure fantasy ... the lies we agreed on, so to speak. But real lies are no fun.
To what degree did the concepts behind the game actively influence the music and lyrics themselves?
Let’s settle on a ‘high’ degree, because I worked on the game at the same time as I made the music.
How did you go about naming the tracks, particularly the many instrumentals?
By listening to them on repeat, whilst thinking about Thule. [smiles]
Especially for those who haven’t heard the new release, how would you compare the new tracks to those on Sôl austan, Mâni vestan and The Ways Of Yore, compositionally speaking?
It’s closer to the latter I would say, but ... I don’t know. If they have an interest in it, can’t they just listen to it for free on YouTube or something and make up their own opinion? I don’t really think about such things. I just make music, or made music, and had no particular direction in mind. I just let the music take me where it wanted to go. The rest, how or why, is water under the bridge.
After many years, you returned to the timeless works of Theodor Kittelsenfor this album’s cover art ­– was this in order to match the cover art with that used for the MYFAROG game? And if so, what made you choose to use Kittelsen for this?
The cover art was chosen first for the game, because it fits very well with the concept and atmosphere of Thule. It shows a Nix lurking in the water, a creature you can find in Thule. Then I decided to release the music I had as an album, and as a soundtrack for MYFAROG, so I saw no reason not to use the same image for the album. It’s very ... Burzumic, and reminiscent of the older albums.”
Aside from your family, what is taking up most of your time these days if not music? Perhaps the RPG related works?
Reading, working in the garden, maintaining buildings, maintaining cars, writing more Paganism Explained books, and yes, also occasionally RPG work.

Out of interest, when you listen to music these days, what do you tend to choose?
Electronic music, mostly. Dub techno. And my own music. Sometimes, I listen to old music that I liked when I was younger. Bee Gees. ABBA. Iron Maiden. The first few Kreator albums. Future Sounds of London. Jean-Michel Jarre. Software. Music I have memories attached to.
What do you see as the future for Burzum? More ‘accidental’ albums such as this? Could you envisage making another metal or electronic album created ‘as a whole,’ in a more traditional manner?
Burzum is dead to me, and it was before this album, too. Like I said, I just ‘accidentally’ made another album. So I have no future visions for music by me. I have better things to do. Plant trees. Sow seeds in a soil that modern agriculture has turned into almost a desert. Help restore the forest that once covered our continent from East to West, North to South. Our natural habitat.





EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Interview with JESSE HUNT (CYANOTIC/PIGFACE/HUNT HENT HAWK)


Author/journalist Joel Gausten talks with drummer/percussionist Jesse Hunt (Cyanotic/Pigface/Hunt Hent Hawk) about his vast history in music and his upcoming tour with KMFDM as a member of Cyanotic.

Cyanotic

KMFDM/Cyanotic Tour Dates 







EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com


Interview with JACK RUSSELL (JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE)


Author/journalist Joel Gausten talks with singer Jack Russell (Jack Russell’s Great White) about his new album with L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns (Medusa) under the moniker Russell/Guns, the current lineup of Jack Russell’s Great White, the band’s current activities, and the key to his longevity in the music industry.


Jack Russells Great White 






EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com


Monday, February 19, 2024

Interview with NAOMI YANG (Filmmaker: ”Never Be a Punching Bag for Nobody”)

Author/journalist Joel Gausten talks with musician/filmmaker Naomi Yang (Galaxie 500/Damon & Naomi) about her extraordinary 2023 documentary, Never Be a Punching Bag for Nobody.

Naomi Yang







EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com


Interview with FRANK VERGA (IMPULSE CONTROL DISORDER)

Author/journalist Joel Gausten talks with Frank Verga of Impulse Control Disorder about his fantastic new EP, Noise to the Void, and his years as an Industrial music artist.

Impulse Control Disorder







EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Interview with LARRY KELLEY (KILSLUG/GROINOIDS/OINTMENT/UP YOUR BUCKET)


Author/journalist Joel Gausten talks with veteran guitarist Larry Kelley (Kilslug/Groinoids/Morticia Morgue/Ointment/Up Your Bucket) about his years-long involvement in the Boston and New York Hardcore scenes.






EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com