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Interview with Ogre of Rx - conducted via telephone - 6/9/98

Photos Copyright © 1997 - TVT Records/Invisible Records

Jester: How did you approach writing music/lyrics for Rx differently than with other projects?

Ogre: A lot of things in my life has changed in the past three years. When for example, I started working on "The Process", I was trying really hard to remove all of the vocals effects and remove myself from the obscurity I had built around my voice. When I first started writing vocals for that album, I sang all of the bed tracks without any vocal effects at all, which was very hard. At the time I was very insecure about my unaltered voice and there were a number of sessions where I had to force myself to deal with this issue and sing anyway.

When I went up to Seattle to record the WELT material with Mark Walk, I did some vocal work with a ninety year old baritone Maestro who helped me a lot. He would just sit behind his piano and talk to me. He taught me to sing much differently by moving my inflections into my sinus cavities so my voice would resontet more.

Working on melodies was a natural progression that then followed me when I started working on the Rx material. For the two years between WELT and Rx, I went through a bit of a depression and what comforted me the most was sitting alone with an acoustic guitar and just singing along. This is where the idea to cover the Syd Barrett track came about as well as it being a cheap jab at people who would think it was blasphemy that I was playing a guitar.

I've always taken the faults in my musical technique and craft and tried to make the best of it. I have always had the unfortunate ability to empathically take all of the negative commentary about my musical skills too personally. Now I am at a point in my life when I take things a little less seriously so I can make these tongue in cheek jabs at my critics.

Back in Skinny Puppy I think I was really confined without my own musical paradox. I was always locked into being someone that other people made me. Towards the end of Skinny Puppy, the person that I used to be finally blossomed and I starting writing music that was more true to my nature.

Jester: How much of a role did you have in writing the music for Rx? Was most of the music written together?

Ogre: Unlike Skinny Puppy, Martin and I took a very hands on approach to all of the music writing process. We sat down and worked out all of the music with a certain degree of spontaneity and improvisation. Then we would partake in a great deal of editing afterwards.

The cover of 'Downtown' took on two different versions when we wrote it. The first version was a great deal more straight than the final version that was written a few weeks later that eventually ended up on the album. Some of the tracks also went through similar transitions. 'Reuptake' is a perfect example of reworking an arrangement by adding the drum hook at the end which was really important to the final version of that song.

I hope to even play a greater role in the music writing with future Rx and WELT releases as well. I am not really a technician as far as music is concerned, nor am I super creative when it comes to layering or chord progressions, but I can come up with ideas that spark those elements.

At home, I have a small studio in my dining room that has a few S900's, a K2000, S3000 and Re-Birth. Re-Birth is a wonderful tool that I consider instant gratification because I can write something quickly. First and foremost, I am a vocalist. I have become a musician, but I am still not that good of a composer, so I have work at it.

Jester: How did you and Martin Atkins get together and decide to start writing music?

Ogre: Martin started talking to me around the time that WELT had been shelved at American Records. I was a bad state about how to continue musically. I was really questioning my role in music. I was ready to just walk away from it all. The demise of Skinny Puppy shook me up and Dwayne's death left me mortified. I just didn't know what I was doing musically at the time.

Martin came along and offered to work with me on a project that could be anything I wanted it to be. It turned out to be a great offer because there were no stakes or expectations involved. Yet, the end result is more of a first album for me than the WELT stuff. The WELT stuff certainly took longer to write and it was more technologically complex, but the primitiveness of the Rx project has been totally fascinating to me.

Jester: Will the music you wrote originally as WELT for American Records ever see the light of day?

Ogre: I hope so. When I left Skinny Puppy, I left for obvious reasons, my health. Once I made that choice, it was a matter of recording the music for WELT. Our verbal agreement with American was for a low budget project with some extra money for mixing. When it came down to ask for the mixing money, they were supportive, but they wanted to hear a final track first. Mark and I finished a single track, American liked it, but they wanted to have us mix four more tracks without giving us any money. We told them no and they took that to mean that we didn't want to be on their label. A year passed and I ended up getting a release from the label right as it got reabsorbed by Warner Brothers.

Then I met someone in KMFDM who though they could help me re-acquire the master tapes. Four months later, I got the news that I could not have the tapes back unless I could pay back the small advance we were given to record the music. Now we are looking at a situation where we need to find out if American just owns the masters to those songs or if they own the rights. If they just own the masters, we will just re-record them.

Jester: There is not one, but two cover songs on "Bedside Technology". Were you trying to say something with those covers?

Ogre: Definitely. There was a complete method in the madness for those two songs. At a very base level I love Syd Barrett. I also reconciled a lot of personal issues by playing Syd Barret music. That track is also designed to throw people completely for a loop since no one would expect me to perform any song that way.

'Downtown' was a song from my past. My mother used to listen to that song on the radio when I was a child before I could speak. That song gave me this very cold, distant feeling. Martin also had the same childhood memories as something that influenced him. I also had the desire to twist the lyrics of the song to twist it into a drug metaphor for Heroin. A far as the impetus for the vocals, they came from a more drug induced state.

Jester: I really enjoyed that song immensely because it served as the single link between Rx and Skinny Puppy because of the use of the word 'Downtown'. Having a single link and then a clean break from the past was a perfect musical gesture.

Ogre: I agree. After all these years, my biggest fear was that people is expectations for a new project would put the album in the wrong light, just like the last Skinny Puppy album. A lot people assumed that because it was on a major label, that the label a lot to do with its sound. However, a great deal of craft and personal issues went into that album. I was very afraid that the same thing would happen with Rx.

Jester: Will there be a tour in support for the new Rx album?

Ogre: I don't know. I will be busy recording with Mark Walk this summer and hopefully Martin as well, if he wants to be involved. Only then do I think that I will have enough material to perform a show properly. I think that trying to tour with only a single album worth of material is a bit premature. When I do go on the road, I really want to do it with a multimedia presentation that has been very well planned. When I toured with KMFDM, I did it for the sheer fun of being in a band for a change. With Rx and any subsequent projects, I want to focus more on performance art.

Jester: I was amused to notice how many people at the KMFDM shows didn't know who you were.

Ogre: I actually think that was a good thing. It is a bit of a blessing. At some point in your life you go through a time period where you want to be recognized for your work. Then, once you get a taste of that recognition, you don't like it. To be a bit more obscure of a performer is a much more pleasant place for me. Hopefully I will be able to maintain this.

This is why I used a lot of mud, blood and make-up when I performed with Skinny Puppy. I spent a great deal of time trying to disassociate myself with the music. I still kind of feel that way. Personally, the most important thing about music is the effect it has on other people and not my personal fame. To me art is all about imagination and interpretation, not ego.

Jester: What motivated your move to Los Angeles? I heard a rumor that you have gotten married. Is that true?

Ogre: I did get married. My move to Los Angeles was very ironic since I have sworn several times that I would never live here. The move to Los Angeles was due in part to Martin pulling me from a Pigface tour because I was very sick.

I had contracted a case of Hepatitis and did not know it. I had just assumed that my sickness was due to my drug usage. I came down to Los Angeles to try and recover and met someone who I had a very deep bond with from eight years earlier. We happened to accidentally run into each other and I spent a night reacquainting myself with her in a platonic manner.

I left the next day for Sweden where I was finally diagnosed with Hepatitis A. I was misdiagnosed several times with Hepatitis B and C before they finally settled on an advanced cased of Hepatitis A. I spent a week in the hospital and came back to deal with a lot of personal issues. I ended up moving to Los Angeles with three bags of luggage and the rest has been quite blissful. The whole affair turned out to be a major epiphany for me.

Jester: How are you able to remain in Los Angeles? Aren't you a Canadian citizen?

Ogre: Yes, I am a Canadian citizen. I have an extended VISA that is soon turning into a green card. I was married October 19, 1996 and until you obtain a green card you cannot leave the country. As a result I had problems trying to get back into Canada to play some of the KMFDM dates on their last tour.

The INS office is a madhouse in Los Angeles. They are running three months behind. I was told to come in on January 1, 1997 to register. INS didn't contact me until May. I was very worried that I was going to make a mistake on all of the paperwork required. In the end, a civil surgeon who validated my health made a mistake. He failed to check a box on the I-693 form and my application was rejected. However, I have finally made it through the process and should have my green card soon.

Jester: What do you think about of the "Hymns of the Worlock" cover compilation recently released on Cleopatra Records?

Ogre: I haven't heard it yet. Cleopatra is supposed to send me copies but I haven't received them yet. Actually, the label asked me to appear on it, but I turned them down.

Jester: They probably haven't sent it because the mispelled Worlock. I think it would be rather embarrassing to send you an incorrectly spelled version of the tribute.

Ogre: I had a manager call them with my contact information, but I haven't heard anything yet. My only interest in the project is from a business stand point. I don't even know which artists are on the tribute with the exception of Leatherstrip and Marc Spybey.

I am actually more interested in the Skinny Puppy remix CD that is half finished. I really want to hear what Rhys Fulber did with our music. Mark Walk and I actually re-worked 'Smothered Hope' because I could not find the master tapes.

Jester: Does it make you feel odd that someone has put together a tribute collection for a band that has separated for such a short time?

Ogre: Yes. It is a bit strange. However, at the same time I am not going to refuse the money associated with it. As far as the aggrandizement of me and the band, I will admit it is odd. I was really disturbed that Cleopatra asked me to perform a tribute to myself. That was the kicker. It had me laughing.

Jester: What still motivates you to sing and remain involved with music after all the failures and successes?

Ogre: It is one of the few things that I am good at. Music has served to totally fulfill me. "The Process" was one of the most interesting albums I have ever worked on that goes way beyond music in its execution. The artistic expression that I received from this album helped fuel other endeavors. There is nothing more than fulfilling that that even if along the way you meet with pain, hardship, mistakes, humiliation and degradation. All those things add up to make you a stronger person. As long as I continue to grow and change musically, I will continue. If I get stuck in one state of mind, then I would probably turn away from it, like I almost did two years ago. I have risen out of that now.

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