Monday, January 7, 2019

Green Health: A Vegan Misfit's Guide to Horror Punk Survival

Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (Photo by Kanon Madness)

It’s a December night in New England, and legendary Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein is minutes away from hitting the stage at the Jewel Nightclub in Manchester, NH with his solo band, Doyle. The 54-year-old is nearing the end of a 75-date run of gigs, interviews, meet-and-greets and a slew of other obligations that commonly define life on the road. Although it is reasonable to assume that he’s thoroughly fried at this point in the tour, his spirits are incredibly high. 

Doyle has never been someone you’d even remotely describe as chatty, but tonight is different. As our conversation unfolds, I find myself inadvertently talking over him at points because he keeps going. His words are often punctuated by big laughs and some of the funniest comments I’ve ever heard come out of his classic Jersey guy mouth. While many musicians fall victim to the rigors of the road (bad hours, bad food, uncooperative weather, unwise indulgences, etc.), Doyle is wrapping up his latest travels happy, healthy and in bulletproof physical condition.   

There’s a very good reason why the above scenario played out this way. In addition to being an avid weightlifter since the mid ’70s, Doyle has followed a strict vegan diet for the last six years. As previously discussed on this website, he was introduced to the lifestyle by his longtime girlfriend, Arch Enemy frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz. Maintaining proper nutrition on the road can be a challenge for anyone, let alone a vegan. Fortunately, Doyle has developed a system that keeps him moving forward. Based on a recommendation by Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss, he got in touch with Trifecta Nutrition, a California-based company that provides pre-made, conveniently packaged meals for those who follow vegan, vegetarian, paleo and other health-conscious diets. Through a sponsorship with Trifecta, he gets 21 low-sodium, high-protein meals delivered every Friday to the venue he’s playing at that day. Additionally, he is sponsored by the dumbbell company PowerBlock and the supplement provider Conscious Muscle. (The latter gives 10 percent of its profits to animal sanctuaries and rescues.) Naturally, he regularly adds some of his very own Doyle’s Made in Hell Hot Sauce to his food, resulting in what he enthusiastically calls “a bonerific meal.”

Best of all, Doyle credits his vegan diet for helping him rise above social anxiety and maintain a better outlook on life.  

“It makes me happy; it puts you in a good mood and makes you positive. I went to this place that used to sell the greatest fucking vegan meatball sandwich on the planet…I go in, and I had on a cut-off t-shirt like I always do. There were these two little 14-year-old girls; they turned to me while I was waiting in line [and asked], ‘Are you vegan?’ I said, ‘Yeah! It makes you happy, don’t it?’ They were like, ‘Yeeeaaaah!’ (laughs) It was so fuckin’ funny.”

Considering that the guy’s in a very public profession, how does he avoid catching an illness when dealing with countless people on a daily basis – especially during the meet-and-greets he offers after shows?

“I don’t let them touch me. ‘Oh, can I have a hug?’ Nope. They put their hand on me [and ask], ‘Is this okay?’ Nope. Then, they get offended. I don’t shake hands no more. Some dick tried to crush my hand with his overzealous fucking ‘I’m a tough guy’ handshake. I can break everybody’s hand who comes up there. Why would I do that? I hate that shit. So, now, it’s just a fist bump or go fuck yourself.

Of course, his general health and temperament are also helped along by lifting weights – a major part of his life since he was in grade school.

“I just did it; I don’t know why,” he says of his initial experience with the practice. “It felt like that was what I was supposed to do, so I did it. Plus, when you have no friends, you’ve gotta do something!”

The guy also eats like a frigging horse. A pile of protein bar wrappers sat by his side during our chat, while he was quick to mention that he devoured an entire large package of Nutter Butter cookies the previous night. He also consumers “tons” of bagels, avocados and oatmeal. His daily food intake includes “at least” 200 grams of protein.

“I eat whatever I want. I don’t have the fat gene in me.”

As veganism continues to gain traction in the music industry (with plenty of interviews with other vegan musicians already in the works for this website), Doyle insists there’s nothing esoteric or unattainable about it.  

"The food isn’t made out of unicorn shit. It’s just food, and you can buy it anywhere. We buy it at fuckin’ Walmart.

With smart lifestyle choices clearly working in his favor, Doyle plans to stay in the music game – and keep his show on the road – for many years to come.

“We’re gonna keep going. What else are me and [Doyle singer] Alex [Story] gonna do? We’re retards. This is what we do best, you know? Look at Ozzy. He still does it, and he’s never been in shape like me. I should be able to go further.”

Official Doyle Website

Doyle on Instagram 


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sounds for Gen

I'm very proud (and equally sad, in light of the circumstances) to announce that my 2011 solo track "Spiral" is included on a new compilation album benefitting GENESIS P-ORRIDGE.

Link to My Individual Track:

I've gained inspiration from Gen since first hearing Throbbing Gristle in grade school. It's an honor to have the opportunity to give back.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Beauty & Disaster: Richard Z. Kruspe on Resilience, Rebirth and the Future of Rammstein

Photo courtesy of Freeman Promotions

Note: The content below cannot be reprinted in any form without prior permission. 

Back in 2016, Rammstein guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe was keeping himself busy with two deeply personal endeavors: The creation of the third album by his long-running passion project, Emigrate, and the construction of his dream home. He should have been on top of the world, but things just didn’t feel right.

“In 2015, I finished the record, [but] I felt that somehow I wasn’t really into [it],” he admits. “I wasn’t 100 percent convinced about it. I just put it away because I loved doing other things at that point. I was actually building a house in Berlin, which was something that I really wanted to do in my life. I liked creating things, and building a house was on my list. Doing that for four years was one of the biggest challenges I had in my life. Doing that and doing the record somehow didn’t work together. I put it on the side.”

Then, the unthinkable happened.

“I love water; I’m a water sign. Even as a little child, if I sometimes felt scared, I would go [in the water] and it would calm me down. I was thinking of having a big pool on top of the building, which is not really normal in East Berlin…One of the pool constructors made a mistake, and basically 1,600 liters of water went through my roof into my studio and into another apartment.”

If you’re a musician reading this, then you’re probably wincing as you accurately guess the horrors that followed. Half of Kruspe’s home studio – including the recordings that were to comprise the new album – was no more. 

“After the water damage destroyed my studio, I was obviously very angry. I was like, ‘What the fuck?’ …But then, after digesting things and calming down, I realized that maybe I had to go back; [the album] wasn’t right. If I wasn’t really 100 percent convinced about the record, how could other people be?”

Rewriting/re-recording the album from memory (and receiving some expert help from engineer/mixer Sky van Hoff), Kruspe unexpectedly discovered the inspiration and drive that were missing from the process all along.

“All of a sudden, I felt the passion and the fire inside me. I was like, ‘Wow! It feels good. I’m back!’ Sometimes, you need time to get the answers.”

This process of rediscovery eventually led to the late-November release of Emigrate’s A Million Degrees. One of the most impressive chapters in Kruspe’s vast musical narrative, the 11-song album finds him handling the majority of lead vocals and guiding the proceedings down a for more sonically accessible path than what is commonly offered by his main band. The record’s finest moment, the brilliantly anthemic “You Are So Beautiful,” is one of the most perfect Pop moments of 2018.

“I’ve always listened to very happy stuff…I always had an ear on the radio and Pop. I love melodies; I love the catchiness [and when] the melody doesn’t get out of your head and you want to sign along…You need time and maybe a certain kind of confidence to let that out and say, ‘You know what? I don’t care; I love that.’ Even as a child, I was a little bit afraid to tell my Metal guys that I liked Depeche Mode or Kraftwerk.”

Guest vocalists on the new album include Billy Talent’s Benjamin Kowalewicz on “1234,” the utterly fantastic Margaux Bossieux (former bassist for Dirty Mary) on “Lead You On” and Tobias Forge – Ghost’s Cardinal Copia himself – on “I’m Not Afraid.” Kruspe, Kowalewicz, Bossieux, Combichrist drummer Joe Letz and Billy Talent’s Ian D'Sa comprise the ever-fluid Emigrate lineup featured in the promotional video for “1234.”

A Million Degrees also boasts an appearance by Rammstein’s inimitable frontman, Till Lindemann, on “Let’s Go.”

“We’ve been friends since 1987, and this is the first time we’ve worked together outside of Rammstein,” explains Kruspe. “You know, I’ve had that number for quite a while, and it’s about our history and our friendship, which I can sum up like this: I believe I’m the reason he started a career in music, and he’s the reason I’ve witnessed the dark side of life! In two words: Beautiful destruction!”

While A Million Degrees represents a grand victory for Kruspe in light of the creative and logistical dilemmas he faced while making it, don’t expect him to celebrate by taking Emigrate on tour. Following a special New Year’s Eve performance in Mexico, Rammstein will return in a huge way in 2019 by releasing their first studio album since 2009’s Liebe ist für alle da this April and launching an overseas stadium tour the following month. The reactivated group intends to stay on the road for the next three years. Additionally, five videos are currently planned for the upcoming release. As for what fans can expect from the long-awaited offering, Kruspe encourages them to be prepared for more than a few surprises.

“One of the things I thought about when we started the new record was, somehow, the world of Rammstein was a little bit unbalanced between music and the live spectacle. I was thinking, ‘If we could manage to get out a record that actually brings back the music in a way that [made] people think, ‘Wow, there are actually great songs as well’…That was something that I was trying to do.

“When I listen to the record, I only explain it as kind of a 3-D thing for me,” he adds. “It’s very rich in harmonies; we’re not as monotone, I would say. I think there are more melodies involved…[It] has a certain kind of, I wouldn’t say ‘Pop,’ because it’s still Rammstein, but it definitely has a side of catchiness to it that I really like – combined with the epic sound that we have.”

In addition to earning considerable media attention for both A Million Degrees and Rammstein’s imminent return, Kruspe made headlines recently by adding his two cents to the Gene Simmons-instigated “Rock is Dead” debate during an interview with Revolver:

We’re just doing what we like. But there’s just nothing to say so much anymore. Rock is dead. It’s sad, I know it is. But sometimes you kind of have to make peace with the facts of reality. Every time I'm listening to what's new […] it’s definitely not Rock.

When asked by yours truly to expand on the statement, Kruspe shared his thoughts on a show he took in by the much-hyped quartet Greta Van Fleet.

“For some reason, when I listening to those guys playing the sound of the ’70s – specifically and obviously from Led Zeppelin – I felt, ‘This has nothing to do with the present right now’…When I watched the band, it couldn’t touch me. Rock music trying to reflect the present is the important thing. I don’t think going back and trying to re-create the sound of the ’70s is the right way to do so.” 

Eleven years after Emigrate’s recorded debut, Kruspe is still moving the project forward despite facing more than a few roadblocks – or waterways. With A Million Degrees finally done, dusted and available to the masses, Kruspe is able to breathe a much-deserved sigh of relief and take the calamities in stride.

“Life shows me very interesting ways of understanding certain things that we have to learn.”

Emigrate on Facebook

Official Rammstein Website


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Words for Chris Stein

Portrait by Brian Walsby

Very sad news from California.

Chris Stein of Saccharine Trust and Carnage Asada has passed away after a long battle with cancer. Chris was an extraordinary musician; I was honored to share the stage with him many times during my Los Angeles/Sixth Chamber days. He was also an incredibly nice man; I'm grateful to have reconnected with him late last year.

I have a lot of beautiful memories attached to music featuring Chris' talents. Many of us do. Love and condolences to my friends who knew Chris and made great sounds with him.

Saccharine Trust is on my turntable as the sun goes down...

Flyer from September 1, 2002