A Too Gothic Interview
by Marcus Pan
Exclusive interviews with Dancing Ferret Concerts, SunShine
Blind and The New Creatures following the Sisters of Mercy controversy at Dark
PAN: Eldritch approved you two bands based on the
music, but disapproved you based solely on your look. If given the chance,
would SunShine Blind and/or New Creatures have changed their look to play
Caroline (SunShine Blind):
Absolutely not. Judging someone on their clothes and makeup is a crime of
the highest sense, no matter what your neuroses. Had he expressed his wishes as
a suggestion, I may have toned down my look out of courtesy or compassion, but
we don't respond well to people trying to change things out of force of their
Once a long time ago, this record company sent us a contract
to negotiate, and while it didn't say in writing they asked us if we could dye
our hair black, because they catered mostly to a goth crowd!!! Of course we
could, and have many times since, but we never would just because they asked us
to! Needless to say we didn't sign with them (although I hear the New Creatures
may be about to) - we have changed our image a few times, but always to suit
our moods, no one else's.
Mark (The New Creatures): Yes. I would have done
everything in my power to make my band look as Goth as possible. It's funny;
there are Goths in NYC who stopped coming to see The New Creatures (before this
incident) because we didn't look goth enough!
When I look at the photo of the band that we have on our
webpage and then look at the "FLOODLAND" photo's I think that it's an utterly
ridiculous basis for Eldritch's actions. Judging us by our music is the test,
and we passed it.
PAN: It is common knowledge that in order to play the
event, some of the advertising and promotional costs had to be paid by opening
acts. And I understand SunShine Blind and The New Creatures were cut only after
advertising expenses were paid. Has any restitution been made to you, or your
labels, to cover the advertising costs you paid?
Patrick Rodgers (Dancing Ferret Concerts): I'll let
SB and TNC answer as to the restitution question, but your question is
misleading. It was never a requirement that opening bands buy ads. Anyone who
wanted to be considered as an opener was asked to submit a promotional plan
which was considered along with music, name value, style, etc.
Caroline: As I understand it, Dancing Ferret tried to
make up for Energy Records' losses by replacing us with one of our label-mates
on the bill, which he did. As for ourselves, because we know Patrick Rodgers
and he is a good friend of ours, and we have such a close knit GOTH SCENE bond
with each other, he felt obligated to reimburse us for our out of pocket
expenses, and he did. We have talked at length about the whole situation and we
will be happy to work with Dancing Ferret again in the future, partly because
we have a good working history with him in the past and because we know that he
had to make a decision and he did, business is business, but he went out of his
way to make restitution; so we know he takes care of his bands.
Mark: In a letter Patrick Rodgers wrote me after the
cancellation, he stated that paying for advertising was "one of many factors"
that was required of us to get the gig. Lately, he's been saying that paying
for advertising was not a stipulation of playing the show. I'm telling
you that he told us it was required-that, "How much advertising you buy
will be just as important as your music." I don't have a problem with that. I
just don't want people to be misled into thinking that I made that up because
of "sour grapes" or whatever.
Now, I can only theorize that Patrick is
changing his original story because Maybe it wasn't The Sister's
requirement, maybe it was Dancing Ferret's requirement to run advertising, and
they were trying to (quietly) get a break on the amount of money they were
already shelling out by recouping some of it from the opening bands.
Again, I never had a problem paying for the
advertising. I was willing to do whatever it took to play that show. In fact I
never considered it an issue to debate. I just don't like the inference that I
am a liar, or concocting stories. My disgust came from the fact that Andrew
waited until after the advertisement ran to cut loose the bands!
Patrick is the only one who can clear up the advertising
mystery, but I have a letter that he faxed to me reiterating our
telephone conversation in which we discussed which ads in which newspapers were
required to run.
Metropolis has cut us a check to pay for our advertising,
but we are still waiting for reimbursement for our postage (mailing list). I'm
sure it's on its way though.
PAN: Were any of you fans of SoM music before this
happened? If so, has this in any way changed your feelings surrounding Sisters
of Mercy music?
Patrick Rodgers: Well, I didn't enjoy the show as
much as I should have. I was indeed a huge SOM fan. Now...I don't know. I've
always had trouble separating the artist from the music, which in my line of
work is a bad problem to have. Someone said to me that when an artist releases
their music, it takes a life of its own and ceases to belong to them. I'd like
to think that maybe I'll be able to listen to TSOM without thinking of the raw
deal that my friends received.
Caroline: No, never heard of them. Just kidding. Of
course we were fans, every reviewer who hears our music can't help writing how
we sound just like them (except for my vocals of course..) Sure, we own full
collections on vinyl of all our goth and punk and metal faves. We have Sisters'
stuff. CWHK had a tape he made of Sisters stuff that we had in the RV with us
as we were driving home. It was well over 10 years old. We pulled over in the
Salt Flats of Utah and got out, and with a crowbar we smashed it to bits and
pulled all the guts out and threw them around. We picked up the pieces and then
kept on driving.
As for the music, I believe that once you release music on
vinyl or CD for sale and distribution, it's no longer yours. Those songs are
goth anthems, they belong to the goths. As for the man, he, like all of us will
eventually die, and his protests will be forgotten. His music will always be
goth's rock, like it or not, there's nothing he can do about it. HA!
Mark: Oh Yeah! All of TNC's love SOM; that was one of
the reasons we were so excited! I can't say that this event has changed my
opinion of the music, just the man who made the music. However, I don't seem to
currently want to listen to SOM.
PAN: Do you feel the cutting at Dark Harvest III has
in any way affected your careers in the music or promotion business and how
Patrick Rodgers: Well, it was definitely a learning
experience, to say the least. The cutting itself generated so much attention
that our web site took record hits (over 4,000 in a day at one point) and MTV
news even ran a story on the cuts. I never thought I'd hear Kurt Loder say the
words "Dark Harvest."
Caroline: We got wagonloads of press about it, spots
on MTV news, and still, I've done lots of interviews since then. People are
still finding out about it. It had been a good thing, promotion-wise; it got
people talking about us, so it's good in that respect. It's a golden nugget in
our press kit.
Mark: I've had a lot of people say, "Wow! How cool
that you've gotten all this press of what happened! You were on MTV!" My point
is that we had to take the lemons we were handed and make lemonade.
The other side of this is what might have happened if
we played this show. Look at it this way--the possible public perception is
that something is wrong with The New Creatures and Sunshine Blind
because they were dropped from the show! Why was Switchblade Symphony
appropriate and not us? (I assume they must have threatened legal action.) How
many CD's and T-shirts would we have sold? How many new fans would we have
gotten that would have told who knows how many friends? What press would have
reviewed us? I know that at least one label was there to check us out in
regard to signing our band.
At first this really depressed us. Then we got a burst of
determination. I think the great amount of public support was responsible for
PAN: If given the chance at another tour or festival,
would you consider sharing the stage with the SoM or would you bow out?
Caroline: I would play, why shouldn't I? At least WE
have a new album out to support! His fans should be ours, if he doesn't want
them, then we will take them. I would just make sure that there was no way we
could be cancelled while on our way there, like last time. He'd probably like
us if he ever got the chance to see us, but noooooooooo. I would have gone to
the show in Philly to meet him, if I could have, to look him in the sunglasses
and ask him how he sleeps at night. If there was any way I could have made it,
I would have been there, but with the withdrawal of the money, we were left
flat and we turned around and went home.
Mark: We would play if the situation was "friendly"
to us and all fans. I would definitely play another Dancing Ferret
event. I believe Patrick to be one of the best and important promoters in this
PAN: How did the Sisters of Mercy get invited and how
did they end up "taking control" of Dark Harvest III?
Patrick Rodgers: TSOM were invited in early '96 to
play Dark Harvest II. We weren't able to work that out with them, but we did
get them interested in DH3. Unfortunately, due to their schedule, the only time
they could play was during the summer, so we settled on 4th of July
weekend...which didn't work out for them. Finally, in mid/late May, we
confirmed everything, giving us six weeks to put together the largest show of
its kind in America. Talk about pressure...
As for control, the problem came from the fact that TSOM
were really the big name headline draw. I mean no disrespect to the support
acts here (nearly 400 people came to see Switchblade, Sunshine, Advent Sleep,
and Tapping The Vein just six weeks ago, and TNC are rapidly making a name for
themselves in Philly), but 3,500 people from as far away as Hawaii and Puerto
Rico do not pay $29.75 a ticket to come to Philly to see them. No Sisters
equals no show. Public opinion of Eldritch is that he's very temperamental, and
bearing that in mind, we had no desire to alienate him to the point that he'd
walk away from the show. Their contract rider says they get to approve support
- their agent assured us that it would be taken care of quickly and easily
Stateside - which, of course, it wasn't.
Having said that, let it be noted that we went the distance
with AE to try and sort out the opening acts. Nobody was more heartbroken than
I was over the situation and having to call Caroline and Mark was like calling
someone to tell them their son had died. In the end, our ultimate
responsibility was to make sure that the show happened.
Caroline: Ask Patrick Ferret.
Mark: Patrick? did you lose control? :-)
PAN: If Eldritch believes that SoM is a rock 'n roll
outfit, why did he agree to perform at Dark Harvest III, an obviously
gothic/industrial related event?
Patrick Rodgers: This puzzles me as well. AE is very
'net savvy - he's probably reading this interview - so I know he must have seen
the DFC site. He knows what kind of bands we work with. He must know who's
appeared at previous DH festivals. Of course, in the end, he played with a
lineup of bands that didn't offend his sense of what is goth vs. what isn't.
Which still puzzles me. He rejected Bile as a proposed support band because
they were also too gothic. Bile?? I guess goth is in the eye of the
Caroline: Ask Andrew Eldritch. I can guess. THE CASH.
I'd play the Kool Jazz Festival for that much!
Mark: I think he'll take anyone's money. I believe
this all to be a power trip from someone trying to generate controversy.
I know that there are drug addicts that often act in such a fashion.
PAN: Is it true that Eldritch stated something to the
effect of "put their heads on fucking pikes in front of the venue" or anything
along those lines in response to being questioned about restitution for the cut
bands? Anything else of interest he might have said?
Patrick Rodgers: No comment.
Mark: This is what Patrick told me and he added that
it was a direct quote from Andrew Eldritch.
PAN: Will Patrick Rodgers ever consider working with
the SoM again?
Patrick Rodgers: Well, now we know what to expect.
I'd say it would depend on the circumstances.
PAN: Your music seemed fine to Eldritch, but your
dress was "too goth." What do you feel your music is? If you were asked to
describe your music, how would you do so? Or if you were asked to describe what
kind of scene your concerts promote, how would you do so?
Patrick Rodgers: We promote gothic and industrial
concerts. We always have (except for a few brief, ill-considered forays into
metal) and we always will. Eventually, when the funding exists, I wouldn't mind
branching out into a few other categories once in a blue moon. I love
traditional Irish music and would kill any five people to do a show with The
Dubliners. I chased October Project for quite a while as well but there were
some politics involved and we never got to do anything with them before they
disbanded. Despite past failures with metal shows, I'd like to do Manowar one
of these days as well.
I don't understand the whole problem with these terms. Sure,
every musician wants to give the pretentious artsy answer: "Our music
transcends labels, man." The fact is, labels are a useful thing. Imagine going
to visit an Internet friend and asking where he lives. "Well, I don't really
want to say what state I live in as people tend to have preconceived notions
about it. Just drive 'til you find me." An intelligent person understands that
music genre labels aren't a precise street address, they're an approximation.
They serve to give people a rough, approximate idea in one sentence or less
about what something sounds like. How many rappers do you know who say "I'm not
a hip-hop artist?" Better yet, imagine Pavoratti saying: "I don't like to be
called a tenor. My vocals transcend labels."
Having said that, what's wrong with the gothic and
industrial genres? Why are people so afraid to say, "yes, we're a goth band."
It may not be the Big Thing now, but bide your time. Our day will come, and
Caroline: I feel our music is rock actually, and goth
rock specifically, because GOTH is the uniform that we SPECIFICALLY and
DELIBERATELY chose to represent ourselves in. Goth is one of the last
underground musics here in the U.S.. Goths are the people I like to surround
myself with, the clubs I like to go to, and the audiences I like to see at our
shows. If we reach other people and they come in, that's fine, but I'm not
going to go on stage in a flannel shirt like Alanis Morrisette or someone and
try to make people listen to my music because I dress like them!!! Our music
has plenty of crossover appeal, and plenty of people who aren't goths like it,
no matter what we dress like. If people don't like our music because they saw a
picture of us and we look goth, then they are just closed minded assholes.
(Case in point. At least he hates us for the right reasons.)
Mark: Why, we're a Rock And Roll band! Just like
Sisters Of Mercy!
PAN: What's next for each of you, in the way of
labels (I understand New Creatures has a surprise regarding this), concerts
(any other shows for Patrick Rodgers coming up) or tours (I understand SunShine
Blind will be at Whitby U.K. this year)?
Patrick Rodgers: We're taking a much-needed vacation
at present. We plan to return with shows in early August, and of course we'll
be doing an event for Halloween this year. Dark Harvest returns to its regular
October time slot in '98. We'll probably revamp the web site soon and will
likely begin looking for a new home for The Haven as well.
We can be seen on the Internet at http://www.ferret.com and
we're keeping the (215) SISTERS number as our general DFC info line.
Caroline: We are currently working on writing music
for our next album. We have been very excited about some new ideas we've had
since before we left on tour 3 months ago. Now SUDDENLY left with a lot of free
time, we are exploring writing some things and getting them down.
Whitby and a few other European shows are all we have
planned right now, but I can't see us staying home all year; keep your eyes
open, we may be around in the fall.
Mark: We are actually discussing quite a few things
right now with our focus being on greater distribution and touring, I wish I
could say more now, but I can't.
I'd just like to finish by saying that people really missed
out based on the reviews I've seen, and the general consensus that all of the
opening acts had their sound sabotaged (another AE move?). And Andrew hurt
himself with this kind of grandstanding crap by turning off the very people who
have supported him all these years.
I have no harsh feelings towards Dancing Ferret or
Metropolis and believe that they were, to a degree, victims of the "Mad King"
as well. Patrick's a good guy, and I'm sure that our friendship will continue
to grow. I do wish they would have stood up to him for everyone's sake, but I
also understand the difficult position they were in. Many stood to lose in this
I also wish that Patrick followed through with his initial
promise to foreword emails of protest to Sisters Of Mercy. I think AE
needs to know what the people think-that protecting him and shielding
him helps no-one.
I'd like to put forth this commentary to Andrew
Andrew, I believe you to be a turd who should step aside if
you're too afraid of the competition. How dare you insist that you not be
classified and then turn around and classify two excellent bands based
on their look, and potentially hurt their careers. They say a trapped animal
who knows it's going to die will fight and flail the hardest, because it knows
it has nothing to lose. Andrew, why don't you just chew your own leg off to
escape your trap and drag your tired old carcass off into the woods to rot. You
haven't contributed anything to this scene in years anyway. Go rule your lonely
kingdom in silence and leave the rest of us alone. (God, I sound like a
professional wrestler!) I know that there are people who will blindly eat your
shit and ask for "more please." I have no time for them or you. Your death
throws got you on MTV Music News...very nice...NEXT!!!
Marcus-Thank you for the forum.
The above item may have been edited by the author
since its first appearance in Legends No. 70.