Prophecies of fetal-based world domination abound in the musings of horror rocker and Cult of the Psychic Fetus frontman and preacher Reverend Doom. As the group prepares to take a short break from all the touring, album releases (both Orgy of the Dead and She-Devil out on Raven Music Group in 2000 alone!), Rev. Doom took some time to answer a few questions I posed to him on the state of the music industry, world domination plans and a little insight into the power of the Psychic Fetus itself.
Let's start with introductions. There are four of you here, Rev. Doom, Ghastly, Markus Dark and Lord Erik, and we're all curious on what each of you do and what you bring to your music individually.
I (Reverend Doom) am the leader of the Cult. In the band I sing and preach as its front man. Ghastly plays the Phantom Guitar, Markus Dark hammers the human skins and Lord Erik plays the Funeral base. I write the bulk of the songs with a few exceptions of some collaboration with Ghastly. In turn the band provides the unique sound and style that makes us The Cult of the Psychic Fetus. As you can imagine each member brings his unique talents to bear on the music to make it what it is.
Piecing together the history of the Cult of the Psychic Fetus, you guys have become an almost mysterious favorite of the underground scene with a large cult following, write-ups by none other than Anne Rice and appearances on gothabilly compilations and more. But it's only recently that you're becoming a more well known act - Cleveland Free Times Music Award, Scene Magazine Award too. How are you guys dealing with the sudden jump in fame?
We feel more welcome when we tour now knowing that each city seems to become our second home. Our fans and promoters take great care of us and make us all feel at home. Even though we are so far from the local city morgue.
How exactly did the CotPF fall into such a niche genre as gothabilly as opposed to, say, punk or something more widespread?
Well I wouldn't say that we fell into it. I think it was more like it embraced us. We never heard of the term before someone at one of our first NYC show described it as such. I certainly did not form this band and write music to fit into some genre. That would be simply ridiculous, not to mention that we are neither gothic nor rock-a-billy. Being labeled is a necessary evil that most bands face. It is not our job to label our music, so let the chips fall where they may.
Your new Orgy of the Dead album is phenomenal. Fresh, riveting and quite different from anything else I've received. You're been forever known as an awesome live act. How different did you find studio recording to be compared to your renowned live shows?
The energy and dynamics of the music is very important. It was our decision to do the recording live so that we could preserve that very quality of our shows. In other words we all play the songs together as a group as opposed to putting down tracks separately. We wanted to put out something that was as close to a live performance as possible.
And now that the new CD is making the rounds, there WILL be a tour in support of it I assume (hope). Any plans laid down yet?
Its been a pretty busy year with recording, touring, promotions and video and photo shoots and since our label first arranged this interview with you for Orgy of the Dead we have recorded and put out a second album, She Devil. We actually had toured pretty hard throughout the fall 2000 to support both albums and are on a short break till early spring.
Also as a known live band, any favorite tour stories come to mind?
Of course. Many, many stories to tell. Most of which I can't mention here, but there is one that comes to mind. We were on our way to Chicago and the vanpire (van) broke down. We had to have it towed and repaired. There was not enough room in the tow truck for all of us, so some of the guys who were passed out in the back stayed in the van as it was being towed down the road. When they finally woke up they said it was pretty fucked up looking up at the empty driver's seat as the van was barreling down the freeway. Anyway, it was early in the morning and the sun was just about to rise. The driver made his way to the first exit which was a small town largely populated by Amish. It was in the middle of nowhere. We saw a McDonalds and decided to have the driver drop us off there while he repaired the van. Mind you we just did a show in Cleveland and got right in the van after the show and headed for Chicago. We were still in our stage clothes complete with vinyl and eyeliner. McDonalds was empty so we had the restaurant to ourselves. We ordered some food, ate, passed out at the table and woke up to a full restaurant with families and kids and senior citizens. All were staring and pointing as they ate their breakfast... I went outside, smoked a cig and saw a Laundromat across the street. We decided to finish our nap there. We did make it to the show on time!
Any plans for another CD release yet?
Our label actually released two of our albums in 2000; Orgy of the Dead in March and She Devil on Halloween (as well as vinyl and a mini CD that carried a collector's song Blue June which has never been released and we rarely play on stage).
Do you guys think much about falling into silliness? Let me explain - you can find a cliché in anything these days. But the Cult wears them on their sleeve with such simplistic yet riveting works as Dead Bride and Run. The Ramones had that simple yet riveting flair, so did the Sex Pistols. And when anyone else tries to copy them they just look stupid. How do you walk the fine line of silly and cliché while remaining riveting and powerful?
I think you have to follow your instincts. If your music is an honest expression of the evil within then you're always going to simply be the monster you are. Environment has something to do with keeping that sentiment pure as well. When you live out in the middle of the country there's not much to influence you but your own inner voice, and it twists of its own accord into what it wants to be. Commercialization isn't much of a concern here. I think that's why a lot of really original music like the Cramps, Manson, and Reznor all hail from our part of the country, not to mention the number of really sick serial killers.
Where did your idea for Black Tower come from? I get a picture of King's Dark Tower series for some reason.
Not at all. The Black Tower is where the fetus was created and studied.
According to your prophecy "the four" are to inherit the earth by joining with music. So tell us - how's it going? And what are you going to do when NYC band Needulhed vies for the same title (another favorite of mind, those guys)?
We control the power of the Psychic Fetus. I don't know what to tell you except that I have seen the coming and its not going to be pretty if you choose poorly.
Lately the general consensus has been that the gothic/industrial/EBM scene(s) are heading back underground. Some believe that this will be a good thing because of the availability of tickets and limited print items to "true fans," others say it will stifle labels and commerce within the genre. Have you noticed this trend of going back underground? Do you feel it will better or worsen the current state of things in the scene?
I think some types of dark music may be doing that but oddly enough horror rock is a relatively small genre that is getting a lot of attention right now. I think it feels "new" to people despite its long history with bands like us. As far as affecting commercialization, who the fuck cares. If you like the music then listen to it. We've had a lot of theoretical discussions with our label RMG about how to best serve the Fetus and we've always been on the same page about using guerilla tactics and that following trends doesn't really matter. Make it available via the underground, the Internet, and by playing the music and they will come.
(Comment: RMG/Theodotou) There is one thing to remember, commercialization has never helped the underground scene, it only erodes the quality of what naturally grows in the environment and simply dilutes the quality of what is created. As far a stifling labels and commerce, the commercial scene has only served to rush in and trample a lot of great art in the effort to make a buck. The difficulty has always been that in return it was always the only way for the underground to have access to more people. Not so today. The magic of the Internet has made all music accessible to all people and bands like the Fetus now don't have to be bothered with satisfying the corporate giants and their censors and sensibilities.
The Internet and entities such as MP3.com and Riffage.com have seemed to be a boon for independent and near-independent artists today. The promotions available with the Web are amazing. Do you take advantage of this or do you still tend to enjoy paper-based or more conventional forms of promotion?
Absolutely, we certainly take advantage of the web. You can check out our extensive pages on RMG's website at Ravenworldwide.com, however we use old-fashioned methods as well with flyers, postcards, stickers and posters. Seeing something when you are not looking for it sometimes sends a more subliminal and deep seeded message. It's all in the attack. Also there is still something to be said for "word of mouth." If someone who's taste in music and art I respect suggests a particular performance or let's say a CD of a certain artist, than I'll go out and buy it faster than if I saw some slick website
Everyone today has a side project. What are yours, if any?
I have a few bands I have put together over the years on the side for simply live performances. If you're truly an artist chances are you crave the stage all the time. Other projects usually incorporate spontaneous ideas and other artists. It's a great creative outlet but nothing to do with The Fetus or our style per se. They are all original musings but the Fetus is the primary work. Other creative endeavors just serve to keep the creativity fresh and the perspective on target.
When you're not playing music, what are you listening to?
Everything from Throbbing Gristle to Charlie Feathers.
How would fans contact you for more information? Is there a particular method, i.e. e-mail over a mailed letter, that you prefer?
We can be contacted through our label Raven Music Group at Ravenworldwide.com or their direct e-mail Ravenmusicgroup@aol.com. They forward everything to us wherever we might be.