Gothic Text files A Too Gothic Interview

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 Harvest III.

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 DHIII?

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 will.

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 so?

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 that.

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 scene.

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 beholder.

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 soon.

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 scene.

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 Eldritch:

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.

(Originally printed in Legends No. #70.)

[Home]
rlw / vamp.org