Interview with the SKINNY PUPPY-member cEvin Key and the ORKUS Musikmagazin, from the current issue
july/august 2000 :

Focus Dresden

Since their formation in 1983 the Canadian band Skinny Puppy grew to be a powerful force in the Electro-Industrial genre, a genre that, at the time, could hardly be said to have existed and which probably would not endure in its present form were it not for the considerable influence of the Vancouver scene. Bill Leeb, the man behind Frontline Assembly and Delerium, earned his spurs there as well in the early 1980s. Along with Front 242, Skinny Puppy number among the most influential electronic acts of the 80s, and their North American chart success aside, they inspired an entire generation of musicians all over the world to what more or less amounted to independent developments of that Vancouver “sound”. The overdose death of member Dwayn Goettel, problems with former label American Recordings, and internal conflicts led to the end of the legend five years ago, with the remaining members Nivek Ogre and cEvin Key devoting themselves to their own (considerably less successful) projects, among them Download, Plateau, Tear Garden and Rx-Ritalin.
So for many fans it must have sounded like a bad joke, that after all these years an new chapter in the Skinny Puppy story was slated to take place at a festival in Dresden. A venture notable not only because it will be the first Skinny Puppy concert in Germany in some twelve years, but also because it will be the musical basis for a live album “Back And Forth Vol. 5: Doomsday”, which will be the fifth part of the “Back And Forth” historical document series. Dresden as the focal point of electro history? The following interview should answer more than a few questions...

Orkus: so how is it that you found one another again, and decided to play this festival in Germany? A lot of fans reacted to the announcement as if it were a bad joke...
cEvin Key: my relationship with Ogre has improved a lot in the recent past, and a lot of it had to do with the enthusiasm of the promoter, who kept asking us every year if we didn’t want to do a reunion show. The idea was to make the reunion something special, because it’s only one show. So we look at it more like a party or a visit and less like an obligation. Just that aspect of it I think we find exciting.

Orkus: So it’s not a reunion in the strict sense of the word, insofar as that implies working together again as a band and writing new material...
cEvin Key: To be perfectly honest, we haven’t really though about that yet. At this point, the show is our biggest priority, because it’s going to be recorded for a live album. We’re working really intensely on the show and the accompanying release, it’s almost like we’re working on a new album and a live show simultaneously. And that’s a big step for us, if you think about the fact that the band basically hasn’t existed for the past 5 years. At this point we just have to wait and see how things develop and how much fun we’re having. I cannot envision it continuing afterwards. It’s really important to us that it’s only one show and that we can concentrate completely on that. We’re putting a lot of energy into this project, and we’ll see if working together again pans out or not. I think one of the main reasons we’re doing this concert is because the last time we were in Europe, the Wall still existed and there still was an Eastern Bloc. Even if it’s only for one show, it’s a good feeling for me that we can finally play in the former East for people who, before, couldn’t make the decision to see one of our concerts even if they wanted to.

Orkus: How does it feel, after five years, to suddenly be a part of Skinny Puppy again?
cEvin Key: We’ll see. I like talking to Ogre again, but there’s still this hole that Dwayne’s death created. He just can’t be replaced. And we decided, for this concert, to go into the studio and integrate his original material directly into the set, so we can work that into the live show. So I’ll basically be taking over his musical contribution to the band. I think that’s a good way to pay proper tribute to him during the show...if feels good, somehow, to be in Skinny Puppy again. For 14 years Skinny Puppy was a big part of my life. When I write music now, it’s like I have to tear myself apart, because if I try to write something spontaneously, it would be typical Skinny Puppy. It’s really strange, but for me it’s much more difficult to write a song that doesn’t sound like Skinny Puppy.

Orkus: A lot of fans are probably wondering if you’re going to completely rework the old material for the show.
cEvin Key: It won’t be changed to the point where it no longer resembles the originals. We’re not going to add jungle loops or anything like that, we don’t want to go in a direction that people aren’t going to like. Our old hardcore fans want us to sound like Skinny Puppy, they don’t want some 1999/2000 Skinny Puppy remix album with a bunch of songs that sound like Prodigy. On stage we hope to be as authentic and believable as possible and in the style of our last live performances. So it’s all going to be very theatrical and planned out, and we want it to be not just a musical but also a psychedelic experience. Everything that Skinny Puppy used to be about live will be present in this show. We’re starting again exactly where we left off. We even have the same sound engineer who did sound for our last European tour. We even have the same keyboard stands... I find it very exciting that we’re basically starting exactly where we left off in 1992.

Orkus: Will it just be you and Ogre on stage?
cEvin Key: Yeah, just the two of us. Since it’s only one show, we thought it best to leave Dwayne’s spot empty. People know that we make electronic music and that you can let a lot of stuff run automatically from the sequencer. And since it’s possible to perform that way, we didn’t want to put someone else in Dwayne’s place. We’ve spent a lot of time on pre-production to insure that all of his material is put to use in the show.

Orkus: Will there also be a multimedia show? In what respects will this show differ from your last European shows?
cEvin Key: The last time we were in Europe was in 1988, and at that time we didn’t have anything to work with. We never had the opportunity to bring the changes and improvements of our show from 1988 to 1992 to Europe. The stage show now is a lot like the “Last Rights” tour from 1992, with special effects, multimedia projections and it’s interactive in the sense that all the elements play off one another.

Orkus: And what about the infamous splatter effects?
cEvin Key: I think at this point they have become an institution and an inseparable part of Skinny Puppy. I think I can pretty safely promise they’ll be there (laughs).

Orkus: When did the idea for a live album come about?
cEvin Key: There was a huge amount of pre-production necessary to prepare because of the missing member. We have to record a certain amount live beforehand anyway. The record label was extremely interested as to whether or not the gig was going to be recorded. And last but certainly not least was the incredible reaction that the announcement of the concert spurred all over the world. We got emails from fans all over the world, people wanting to fly in from Africa, South America or China just for the show. It’s crazy.

Orkus: So you wanted to increase the sphere of influence of the show?
cEvin Key: A lot of people aren’t going to be able to make it to this one show in East Germany. We’re hoping that everything that we’ve put into this project will come across on the live album for these people. And people who will be there can be just as happy because they will have experienced the event live and through the recording they will have become part of the show. As a fan I find stuff like that really exciting. For example, I had to wait 23 years to finally see Kraftwerk live. That was an incredible moment for me. You feel like a little kid again. I want that feeling possible for people for whom Skinny Puppy maybe is similarly important.

Orkus: Is this concert in some way an attempt to bring the pioneering spirit that you had as forerunners of the electronic scene to the present?
cEvin Key: Definitely. Since we started in the early eighties we’ve always tried to represent current trends in our music, and we hope that every track that we play can capture the feeling of the times. That’s the biggest challenge for me.

Alexander Maciol

Translation: Ned Kirby

We thank the ORKUS Musikmagazin for their supports. All rights reserved by the ORKUS Musikmagazin. july 2000 

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