Music Interview

Audra

By Jett Black

AudraEight years ago, Chicago natives Bret and Bart Helm formed Audra, a Gothic Rock band rich in passion, sorrow and romance built up from grief, heartache, eroticism and spiritual exploration. Opening for well-known favorites including Rhea's Obsession, Lycia, Switchblade Symphony, Gene Loves Jezebel and Sunshine Blind, Audra remains a legend of Gothic Rock integrity. More than 200 live performances later, and fresh back from opening for Black Tape for A Blue Girl in Austin, Texas, Audra now unleashes a new CD entitled "In A Dark Room..." Bret Helm pauses a moment to give us a brief historical overview of Audra.

Who is in the current line-up of Audra?

Audra is:
Bret Helm - vocals
Bart Helm - guitar, drum programming
Ross Ingle - keyboards
Janel - bass guitar

When will Audra be touring next?

We just finished a small tour of Texas where we opened for Black Tape for a Blue Girl in Austin. Sam invited us for two more shows in the early summer in Phoenix and San Diego. It also looks like Salt Lake City might be a stop in the spring.

What is the title of the latest Audra release?

"In a Dark Room…" It is a CD-EP featuring 4 songs, one of them being "In Hollywood Tonight" which is written in memory of Rozz Williams. It is currently being featured on the official Rozz Williams website: http://www.rozznet.com by Chris Graves.

When will Audra be recording next?

We are planning on recording another EP within the next 3 months or so.

What changes in style and membership has Audra undergone since its inception?

We have been through several members, but the core of Bart and myself has remained the same since the birth of the band in 1991.

What has been most effective in holding the band together?

Communication. It is very important that everyone expresses their opinions. This insures everyone feels equal in the aspects that concern song-writing, band decisions, etc.

What changes are planned for Audra in 1999?

We are working on spreading out throughout the country via touring and club play (songs from our CD).

Since the late '80s differentiations in "underground" music have resulted in varied distinctions. Where do you believe these distinctions in darker music are headed?

Well, obviously industrial music has really had an effect on what we would call the "Goth scene." Myself, I feel that goth and industrial are two separate entities. I like the word "Darkwave," for I feel that "goth" is a word that has been heavily over-used and many of the connotations that this word brings tends to draw negative attention to it.

What is the general idea behind Audra? What messages infuse the music you create?

Substance is an essential part of music; if music doesn't contain substance then I personally feel that it does nothing. The music of Audra is inspired by passion and experience. Our songs "are built on unsettled emotions from past relationships, buried friends, erotic fantasies and encounters with the divine world."

Where might fans look for other recent reviews of your music and interviews with band members?

We were recently interviewed and reviewed in Dark Velvet magazine http://www.darkvelvet.com. In addition, I was interviewed for the Mesa Tribune on a feature they are doing on the goth scene.

What do you believe is lacking in the industry that if added would stimulate evolutionary growth and creativity?

Creativity, originality, substance, etc. Industries are based on money and what will generate money. The people that I admire, like Rozz, Peter Murphy, Ian Curtis, never really achieved that great of success yet they are brilliant and the art that they created will go on as being timeless. Who needs the big music industry picture when you have labels like Projekt, Tess, Hollows Hill and several others that can provide the underground with good music.

What impressions do you have of Gothic and Industrial music festivals?

I think they're great. Any festival that can get together a lot of bands that share a common theme and put on big festivals for people is an excellent idea.

AudraHow do computers, and the Internet, impact how Audra presents itself?

The Internet is truly amazing. Just a couple of years ago bands had to rely on flyers and word-of-mouth advertisement to promote themselves. Now with the Internet and e-mail, bands can promote themselves all around the world. Our web page receives visits from people everywhere: Belgium, England, Scotland, Germany, Brazil, France, Austria, Poland and many other places. It's a great way to network.

Where have you found the largest positive support for your music?

Most recently we received an enormously great response from the crowd in Austin, Texas.

What activities occupy your time outside of recordings and performances?

I love to write both fiction and poetry, photography and acting.

What really adds to your personal satisfaction of your own live performances?

Active crowds, good sound, lighting, costumes, make-up and transcendence into the music.

What insight into the name Audra might you offer to your fans?

Audra is a person that symbolizes everything that you would ever want in a person. She is my goddess.

What do you like most about performing live?

Everything. It is a truly amazing experience to be able to perform in front of people. I've performed over a couple hundred times and it's very exciting.

Have any other artists had an influence upon the development of your music?

I don't know as far as development on our music, but I can say that Oscar Wilde, Tim Burton and Van Gogh are three people whose work I greatly admire.

How might fans reading this be most likely to contact your band for more information?

Feel free to visit our web page at: http://www.public.asu.edu/~ravenblu/audra

Also, we can be reached by e-mail at audra@asu.edu. Please feel free to send us an e-mail.

Thank you very much for your interest in Audra.