INTERVIEW: DJ Patrick Cusack

By Kim Mercil
Introduction by Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

DJ PatrickIn the entertainment world everything old is new again at least every 10 to 20 years. No one understands this better than DJ Patrick, resident goth DJ at Albion-Batcave. Since the start of his career in 1992, Cusack has been a man on a mission. He has had a penchant and ability to stay true to the goth underground throughout the various incarnations and hybrid sound changes. While many styles and sounds were the latest rage, Cusack maintained an ear to the ground for the true goth bands worthy of our time, attention and ultimately our consumer dollars.

In the past, Cusack has brought any number of well known goth bands to the attention of various labels who have since gone on to become legends in their own right. With goth making a significant comeback in various parts of the globe, many will try to redefine what the Goth sound is. In due time there may be many who will follow in the footsteps of Cusack, who can truly be called a New York goth legend in his own right.

KM: Why do you think that so many of the newcomers to the scene think that bands like Covenant, VNV Nation and Wolfsheim are goth bands?

DJ Patrick: Because most DJ's in goth clubs are idiots and note I did not call them goth DJ's because they are not playing goth. Current goth clubs have all but abandoned goth rock. They are under the false assumption that what will fill the dance floor is the dancey synth stuff so they no longer give guitar tracks equal time. They are so fucking worried about being able to fit a rock song into their mix that they stay with one sound and beat the entire evening. How original is that? Goth DJing was never about mixing. It was about creating a mood and weaving in and out of a broad range of styles all night. A good goth night should have a lot of goth rock, some ambient/ethereal, some synth and new wave. But it should not give you the experience of being at a fucking rave. Cyber goth is an oxymoron. So when new kids come into a club and all they hear is Apop, Covenant and VNV of course they are going to assume that is goth. When they request VNV in my room I tell them I will not play them because there is a main floor for that and my room is reserved for goth and they look at me as if I was from Mars.

KM: Do you feel franchised stores such as Hot Topic and Torrid steer the high school aged kids in the wrong direction when it comes to understanding the scene as a whole?

DJ Patrick: I think Hot Topic is a blessing. We live in New York so we are spoiled and have easy access to good clothes. But we all know how horrible goths in rural areas dress, sometimes even worse than the Netgoths. So anything that might give them a clue is always helpful. Also they sell those wonderful Projekt samplers that turn the new kids onto real goth music.

KM: Since the under 18 crowd cannot get into clubs yet and dark music is not featured on commercial radio and in some instances there is parental web site blocks preventing listenership…how would you suggest the music be pushed to these kids that cannot locate it?

DJ Patrick: Unfortunately most goths do not go out to clubs anyway, but as we were saying earlier young kids, if they can't get in, they might not be steered in the wrong direction in the first place. They will search the net to find real goth bands and not confuse goth for techno, which is the experience they will get if they go to a lot of clubs.

KM: Why do you think that extremely talented underground bands such as Beauty For Ashes, The Unknowne and The New Years aren't as popular as they could be in the scene?

DJ Patrick: First of all I would not call The New Years extremely talented. They have potential which so far has been realized on one song, but they need to have more than one great track. Otherwise they will end up as the new Vendemmian. The Unknowne always pack the dance floor, but they need a label to push them. The same goes for Beauty For Ashes, who I think at this point should just concentrate on the Christian market. That's where they are headed and could do well there. Plus it would be an improvement over Evanescence.

KM: Do you have an idea as to what is going on with the bands London After Midnight and The Merry Thoughts?

DJ Patrick: I have completely forgotten about The Merry Thoughts even though I was given the task of entertaining them the one time they played the US. All they did was state how they were not trying to be the Sisters Of Mercy, but spent the whole time talking about “Andrew Eldridge”. It is fairly obvious they are waiting for a decade to pass, just like the Sisters. As for London After Midnight, they have waited far too long for a new release and have blown too many chances. I love them to death, but how fucking long does it take to record a ten song CD? It goes beyond absurd. But even if they keep me waiting five more years I'll be the first in line to buy it, unlike Fields Of The Nephilim.

KM: Why do you feel that major label bands like The Sounds, The Raveonettes and Ladytron are reverting back to that early new wave sound in their music?

DJ Patrick: Most musical trends are cyclical so it's only natural that these sounds are going to re-emerge. Plus New Wave always had a futuristic aspect that keeps the sound relevant. If you listen to The Human League's Dare CD or Devo's New Traditionalists CD, they both sound like they were recorded yesterday although both CD's were released in 1981.

KM: The prevalence in the goth underground indicates that band members will often do remixes as opposed to a goth DJ. Why do you think the reason for this is? If a band approached you for a remix would you consider doing one? If not, why?

DJ Patrick: I am not technically proficient enough to do a remix, so I would not do one. But I would love to have a guitar version of a VNV Nation song.

KM: I have been a club kid and involved in the scene for years now. I found goth DJs (like yourself) to be more approachable with the clientele than some of the industrial DJs are. In your opinion, why do you feel they have to have this attitude in order to be an industrial DJ?

DJ Patrick: No, but you do need pretty bad taste. I guess if you play awful music you should have an awful attitude. I think industrial DJs assume they are REAL DJs because they need to rely more on mixing, whereas goth DJs don't really mix so that might be where the attitude originates. But then again if someone comes to my booth and requests Nosferatu I can have a pretty bad attitude myself.

KM: You did your first radio interview Oct 16th 2003, with DJ Lucien of TheDomain WSIA 88.9 FM. I listened to the show that night and I thought it was a really good interview. How did you feel about the whole experience?

DJ Patrick: I had a lot of trepidation going into the interview, but I actually found it enjoyable. DJ Lucien made me feel extremely comfortable and everything just flowed. However I have no idea what the audience thought as it is a more electro oriented show. They probably hated the fact they I cluttered their airwaves with a big chunk of guitar rock.

KM: You started spinning in 92' and ever since you have had a solid following (myself included). What do you think are some of the contributing factors that keeps your loyal crowd coming back every week?

DJ Patrick: I do not pander to them and I make no assumptions on what they want to hear. I constantly hit them with a barrage of new music that is not being played anywhere else. When you go out three nights a week and hear Covenant a total of fifteen times in doing so, everyone is looking for a change. I play a lot of new music and a lot of rare classics no one plays like Ghostdance, Dance Society and Belfegore along with Audra, Escape With Romeo, The End Party and Faith and the Muse mixed with some new wave and ethereal. I fill a void that is constantly being overlooked.

KM: A Different Drum is doing a synthpop festival in San Antonio, TX slated for the beginning of September. In the past Projekt Records has done Projektfest in Philly. Why do you think labels refuse to put on festival's here in NY?

DJ Patrick: Well as far as I'm concerned the Different Drum festival can stay on the West Coast or the South. I think the one word that can sum up the entire Different Drum catalogue is “mediocre.” They definitely corner the market on music that is dull and uninspiring. I believe the next Projekt festival will be held in New York though.

KM: What is the worst request you have gotten?

DJ Patrick: I always leave myself open to a large number of requests because if people are paying to get in they should have a say in what is being played. But this does open up the door to some bizarre ones. Over the years I have gotten requests for everything from Kid Rock to Limahl. Usually the ones that irk me the most are for the more experimental bands that really have no sense of song structure, tunes or melody like Coil, Current 93 and Legendary Pink Dots.

KM: If I came to your apartment and opened your CD player what CDs would I find in there?

DJ Patrick: I will check my player now:
Rancid – Indestructible(1)
Faith and the Muse – The Burning Season
The Strokes – Room on Fire
Steve Roach – Life Sequence
Stiffed – Sex Sells

(1) Reviewed earlier in this issue.

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