Gothic Text files Interview with London After Midnight's Sean Brennan

Interview with London After Midnight's Sean Brennan

By Sarah Kender

KENDER: Right, your opinions on the current Goth scene, the Internet and differences between the "scene" in Los Angeles and the UK could be a place to start.

SEAN: Right for the throat, eh? The current Goth scene; parts of it are promising, parts of it are not. All scenes should merge otherwise face extinction from stagnation and self ostracization. So "sceneS" should stop existing and become one big "scene".

KENDER: But don't you think that could present a bit of a problem-I mean for instance trying to integrate the Goth, metal and rave scenes could be amusing!

SEAN: Yes, it would. So why not give it a go? Sounds like fun.

KENDER: Oooh, you evil person you...can you imagine a group of Goths in the middle of the "moshpit" at say... a "Decide" gig? They'd smudge their eyeliner and then what'd happen?!

SEAN: The universe may collapse in on itself. No, I think they'd do fine.

KENDER: Ok then, which would you say are the promising parts of the scene?

SEAN: In Europe for example, there are a lot more professionally minded people taking charge and trying to do constructive, good things. Lots of magazines, bands touring, festivals and all that.

KENDER: Ok back to the Internet and the scene?

SEAN: The Internet; it's interesting. But I don't have enough time to explore it. There is so much out there. The scene; I assume you mean Goth scene, in Los Angeles is quite dismal compared to the UK. But the USA, in general, has a harder time accepting something that is not endorsed by Coke or Pepsi (corporate, in other words), so it's hard for real underground or alternative music and the newer bands to break in the USA. It's getting better, but Europe is a little more open minded and diverse and the underground is much more active. In America, everything needs to be a copy of something else to be accepted. Everything must be labeled too, fit under a certain heading. That's why I hate labels and have said I don't belong in any scene, Goth or otherwise, because my personal and professional horizons are bigger than being limited to a very specific tag in life. A tag which promotes the concept of imitation and frowns on new ideas and change. I think that labeling has created division and not allowed for growth. And I think more and more people are thinking this way. So things are looking up and hopefully the future will be a blindingly bright place free of the stigma of straying outside the boundaries of a genre.

KENDER: Do you think there has to be labeling to some extent especially with music? Otherwise the general public would know no definition between bands such as yourself or a band like "Take That."

SEAN: Well, there is a way to determine the differences, good and bad music. It does not have to be labeled by category, just quality.

KENDER: Yes, but one could argue that labeling by category is a necessity in order to provide people with no musical taste or individuality a guideline to follow. If you judged all music by quality the sheep would have no-one to follow, and then what'd happen!?

SEAN: We try not to appeal to sheep.

KENDER: So if underground bands find it hard to break in America, how did London After Midnight manage it?

SEAN: Magic, or maybe it's the drugs we put in the water finally taking affect. No seriously, I hope it's because people saw something they liked and were passionate about.

KENDER: If you were exiled from LA where would you spend your exile and with whom? Paris? With Uncle Nemesis and Me? Go on-you know you want to! (Editor's note: Uncle Nemesis is the main Gothic/Industrial/alternative promoter in London, England and a fab kind of guy.)

SEAN: Paris is a favorite city of mine, along with New York and the New England area in general of the USA. And with whom-Anna Falchi. Uncle Nemesis, though a terribly nice guy, does not quite meet her specs I'm afraid.

KENDER: What were your best and worst UK gigs?

SEAN: The best were our first two London gigs and the Whitby festival. Very fun with great people, bands and promoters. The worst was our last London gig in '96 where a first time promoter kind of had a hard time arranging things. Plus I was very sick that night, which made it worse. I found out I had a throat infection when I returned home, so I was running a fever and almost fainted on stage.

KENDER: Yeah, Phil, your soundman, told me you passed out after the show. I heard you were being hassled by groupies too.

SEAN: Yes. But I didn't actually pass out, just felt like I was about to. The groupies...a few followed us to our hotel and remained outside shouting and screaming for us while we tried to go to sleep. The owners of the hotel called the police. It was an eventful evening.

KENDER: What do you think of UK audiences? How do they compare to US ones?

SEAN: They are similar and if they are there to support us I can only express humble gratitude and appreciation towards both. If you have a good crowd they will show enthusiasm no matter what continent you are on. We are very thankful to them all.

KENDER: Are there any plans for future releases with Apocalyptic Vision?

SEAN: Yes, some big plans actually. You'll have to wait and see.

KENDER: Preserving your air of mystery, eh? Oh go on, tell us about the new CD!

SEAN: Ok, we will release a CD called Oddities by Christmas '97, with rare, live and re-mixed tracks, with one new song, "The Christmas Song", which I wrote for the holidays obviously. This may also be a CD ROM which will include our music video to the song "Kiss" which we recently completed. And then in 1998 we will release our follow up to Psycho Magnet.

KENDER: Do you feel your interest in 1920s films era influences your music/lyrics?

SEAN: No. Actually I have no particular interest in movies, because I find the movie business to be a laughably shallow and pompous world that does not produce much good. If I am influenced or interested in films of that period it's in the photography alone.

KENDER: You say it has been a struggle to form a band you can work well with-do you feel you've achieved this yet?

SEAN: Yes. It's been a struggle to find a guitarist, that's all. William worked out well touring, but he needed to do his own thing, so we parted ways in late '96. So, being that I was the original guitarist for the band and wrote the guitar parts and recorded them on our CDs, (Will did some on Psycho Magnet) I became the guitarist which we all feel is working much better than it has in the past. The line up now, the four of us, are all positive and eager to do things. We've been together since 1992 and all is going great. It's really been great, and things have fallen into place in such a way that has inspired us all to really put everything we have into this band.

KENDER: Any really bad gossip you want us to spread about you? (Kidding!!)

SEAN: Oh whatever rumors you have handy, don't go to any trouble. Being accused of being Satan is always a good one, and packs such a wallop.

KENDER: Hmm, hasn't that been done to death? We'll accuse you of being Santa instead!

SEAN: Yes, that's better, being that we're releasing a Christmas CD.

KENDER: Ahhh, so who's Santa's favorite elf...and where's your red nosed reindeer?

SEAN: My favorite? That'd be telling. My reindeers? I don't use reindeer, I use slaves.

KENDER: What are your opinions on all the malicious rumors/gossip surrounding London After Midnight? Anything you want to say in your defense? (Left hand on the bible ..."I AM NOT A GOTH"!!)

SEAN: The good things far outweigh the bad fortunately, but since you asked I'll address the bad. I have heard things about us said by people, just crazy rumors. It's all bullshit. I have realized that some people like to talk shit, invent situations or warp actual events only to get attention. That's all it is. No one knows anything about our personal lives, so whatever you hear is a load of rubbish. Also, apparently there was a story in Bats and Red Velvet magazine where the magazine and members of the UK band The Horatii said we lie about the amount of CDs we sell and how many people come to our concerts. Actually, their statements are lies. There is all sorts of proof of that. All they need to do is ask our record label how many CDs we've sold. And all we know is what the promoter tells us about concert attendance. If the promoter says we had about 700 people at our first London Camden Underworld gig, and it looked like there were that many, then I believe him-he's a trustworthy guy. All anyone has to do is go to one of our concerts and see for themselves. If certain people can't handle the fact that we have sold the amount of CDs and tapes we've sold and draw a decent amount of people to concerts (as many other bands do) then that's a problem which they need to address. Maybe some counseling would do them good, they wouldn't stick their foot in their mouth in public forums like magazine articles. The Horatii also said that at one of our London gigs where The Horatii opened for us, we had very bad attitudes towards them, which is a total lie-all of us were very nice to them-if we weren't, could it be we had reason? Think about it. Anybody who says, "Oh LAM were assholes to me," don't you think, if we were, we may have had reason?! Also they said it was our fault that there were loads of LAM fans backstage. Like it's our responsibility to screen who comes back stage while we're performing?! Since when do we own the club? It seems to me they may have been put off because they needed to be the centers of attention and that night they weren't. It's so childish. They went on to call us "Glam Fags" and talk a lot of nonsense. It's odd that they accuse us of having attitude towards them and being pompous when there is no proof or basis in reality for it, yet they throw major homophobic comments and attitude in a magazine interview for all the world to see. Open wide for that foot, is all I have to say to them! We were professional and nice towards them. They should try the same. They also said when we started the band we were all about vampires. This is total ignorance. They have no concept of our band. It's funny how ignorant people can be, and be so loud and proud about it. You have to laugh. Their comments were not researched or based in reality. But this kind of stuff happens all the time. And there is never a reason for it. The "I am not a Goth thing"-that was started on the Internet where, in essence, someone said in an insulting way, London After Midnight typifies the "Vampire Goth scene." I responded by saying we have no interest in the vampire scene, never had anything to do with it, and don't have any songs that we play about vampires. So saying we have anything to do with vampires is a display of utter ignorance. Is Sting a vampire singer because he wrote "Moon over Bourbon Street?" That takes care of the vampire aspect. As far as Goth, I said my interests were much too broad to fit into only the Goth scene as it had become defined within the discussion (Sisters or Dead Can Dance rip off bands, vampire wanna-bes, etc...), therefore I cannot be classified and pigeon holed into being strictly a Goth, though I like some Goth bands, but detest the rip off elements and vampire aspects. I also like lots of other bands, does that make me a Mod, or raver? I also said I think Goth needs to expand and allow more varied influences to affect it and help it evolve as there was a lack of unique bands out there. This was simple discussion on the public newsgroups, where many people expressed a wide variety of opinions. But then some children got involved, singled me out and insisted that I had insulted all Goths the world over because I said I didn't like certain aspects of the scene. I assume they did this because they wanted attention, because I had not insulted anyone. Another situation where people with too much time on their hands go wild with their imaginations. It's the way things are on the Alt.Gothic newsgroups. Some people attack others for the sake of it. I had many things I said twisted into things I didn't actually say. Maybe I could have worded things better, but basically, it all came down to people misunderstanding the things I had said. Some people purposely misquoted things I said because they wanted to fight with me, they thought it was funny or something. It's what some do for entertainment on alt.gothic. They insisted that I couldn't stand "opinion" of my music, when little was given, and a lot of it was good, and I never even objected to opinion anyway! It's all so silly. So some people outright lied to try and make things worse, most was misunderstanding. So no one has a clear view of what the whole thing was about.

KENDER: And when are you finally going to come over again to the UK?

SEAN: We should be over in the UK again in '98 after a new CD comes out. Whitby has asked us back for their Halloween '98 anniversary festival in England. We'll see...we think we are going to take a lot of time and continue writing new material. So a tour may be a ways off.

KENDER: I heard your gigs went very well recently in Belgium and Germany where you recorded your live tracks for the forthcoming release "Oddities." I would've liked to come over from London to the concerts. How did you feel about them?

SEAN: They went really well. I played all the guitar and enjoyed it. I think they were probably our best shows we have ever done. With the guitar situation sorted out, we now sound like we are supposed to live. And I can really get into the music and performing more while playing the guitar and singing.

KENDER: Oh, here in Europe there were some nice rumours about you after Belgium...everyone was saying you're actually really nice-there goes your evil genius rep! And everyone said the shows were great!

SEAN: How nice. Well, start that rumor about Santa, then everyone will suck up to me for presents.

Originally printed in Legends No. 76, March, 1998.