Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The New Jacobin Club Interview

(questions answered by Xerxes Praetorius Horde, a.k.a. The Horde) -

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?

We’re about to release an ep in May and play some dates around Western Canada. The ep is a 15th anniversary release of sorts, we’ve re-recorded and re-orchestrated several of our older songs that we used to play in the 1990’s. Real death punk sort of stuff.

2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new ep and how it differs from the older recordings?

We were a 3 piece band from 1996 to 1999, on our last studio recording there were 7 of us. The musical DNA of the band is still the same, but over the years it has worn some different clothes. The songs on “Left Behind” were originally written when the band was only  a trio. Instead of just having 7 people play what only 3 once did, we actually expanded on the material. The electric cello and 10 string guitar lead in “My Smile” is a really cool addition that wasn’t in the original version, as is the theremin in “Demon Princess.” I don’t think I can hear these songs in my head now without those components. They really part of this band’s identity.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?

We’ve always written about a range of topics – but no matter how fantastic or occult, they often have a very social-political edge. We also like to use historical events as backdrops for our tales, especially revolutions and times of extreme political unrest. Our last 3 full length albums were tied together with unifying concepts, “This Treason” was an actual rock opera about the fate of Sir Hugh Despenser, a 14th century warlord who was eventually executed for his part in the downfall of King Edward II.

 We very much see ourselves as aggressive defenders of the arts, we are the bitter enemies of the emerging extreme right theocracy in the Western World. It is a driving force behind our artistic intent.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?

The original Jacobin Club brought down the royal family of France. We are their modern counterparts – no person should be born into power just because they are born into material wealth.

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?

In 2009 we did a concept stage show at a few places in Western Canada called the Cannibal Circus Roadshow.  It was the most elaborate and involved stage show we’d ever done – beginning with Rima doing a stately Victorian ballroom dance with Firecrotch Jones while wearing a halo of fire. She climax of the show was a cannibal act involving a bed of machetes, a nasty bit of stage theatrics that even surprised some of the band members the first time we rehearsed it.

I heard our show described once as “if Gwar performed the Rocky Horror Picture Show,” I guess that’s close. I think we have more in common with circus sideshows than shock rock like Gwar since what we do on stage is real – the swords are real, the fire is real, the costumes are real – no rubber or plastic crap. It’s a stressful amount of work to arrange and plan, but in the heat of the moment on stage we always fly through it. It can definitely look very natural to the audience, almost chaotic, but it’s a very carefully planned chaos.  When someone is swinging a sledgehammer on stage to break a cinderblock on someone’s chest while lying on a bed of knives, you must be attentive and on the ball.

6. Do you have any touring plans for the new release?

We are hitting a few cities in Western Canada during the second half of May. The first show in our hometown of Saskatoon will be the decadent kick off with the large group on stage. On the road we’ll be cutting it down by a couple heads to accommodate some of the places we’ll be performing at.

7. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your newer material by music fans?

We noticed a huge increase in people from the UK and Scandinavian countries picking up the album or downloading it online. I think the orchestrated aspect of our last album attracted a lot of the gothic symphonic metal fans.  Our Canadian supporters will always look at us as the punk band we secretly are, but our expansion and elaboration over the years has not lost any of them. We’ve never stopped performing our older material live, and I think many of our fans appreciate that.

8. Are there any other projects besides this band or is this a full time line up?

Musically speaking, yes, there are a number of other groups members of the NJC contribute to – none of them are remotely anything like what the New Jacobin Club is. Our bassist/keyboard/synth wizard Vitruvius fronts his own trippy pop group The Friends Electric, who have done very well on national college radio. Other bands you might catch NJC members in from time to time include Slow Down Molasses, Spade the Shovelhead, Sliver and Troubadours du Bois (playing authentic Medieval and Renaissance music).

9. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

After the incredible complexity of the instrumentation and music on This Treason, we feel we’ve been there and done that…and it’s definitely hard to sustain and do well at the same time. A noticeable chunk of that album was so difficult to play live that we started to look back at how effective some of our older material was. That’s what led us to record “Left Behind” in the first place – to show off the current line up performing studio versions of older songs. We already have a handful of new songs we’ll be playing live this spring. I believe they will be the best ever representation of everything this group excels at, the end result of everything we’ve dabbled in over the years – from 3 chord garage rock to orchestrated concept album. I promise that nobody who already likes what we do will be disappointed.

10. What are some band or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

What a complicated question! How about I answer it in this way – when the band started, the common interest between the founding members was spooky garagy stuff like Forbidden Dimension and Nick Cave, even Dick Dale, and really bizarre things like Rudimentary Peni. The metal influence was more of a performance thing – we’d write a fairly rock ‘n roll tune, but then belt it out with more speed, chugging and growling than it probably needed.
Over the years newer members would bring more definite elements of that to the band –some of us are big fans of bands like Celtic Frost, Voivod, Killing Joke, Kreator etc, 80’s progressive death metal. I think it’s the way we deliver our songs that puts us in that metal realm, but not the way we write them.

Right now I’m really into things that use really colorful instruments, like Dr. Steel and Murder by Death, as are most of the others in the NJC. Something else I picked up very recently that blew me away because of it’s artistic achievement as a formidable concept album is the album by Evelyn Evelyn.

11. Does Occultism play any role in the music?

It does indeed, in almost everything we do. We’re not childish about how we deliver it, though.

12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?

I collect interesting instruments, especially instruments from the middle ages (replicas, of course), and I own an unhealthy number of vintage horror & monster movies, mostly from the 1930’s-1960’s. I am also obsessed with different ways of cooking meat outdoors. The fascination with food extends throughout the band, and we recently filmed a couple cooking show segments for an American program that will hopefully air this fall.  A cooking show with hard rock and metal bands as guest chefs.

13.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

It has been more than a pleasure answering your questions. Thank you for your interest in our work!

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