Interview: Ogre of Skinny Puppy
We recently caught up with Ogre of Skinny Puppy after a recent rehearsal for Skinny Puppy’s upcoming tour. Ogre discusses “In Solvent See,” his role in “Repo! The Genetic Opera” and his plans for Halloween.
SoCalMusicToday: Your new tour is called “In Solvent See,” explain the meaning behind the title.
Ogre: Insolvency has always been of interest to me. The idea of insolvency, that it can dissolve things. Wipe the slate clean. Taking layers on and then off… has always been an interesting thing to me. The idea of insolvency, we have a song back on one of our earlier records, called insolvent. It was our first EP. So the idea of insolvency came from what I was telling you just a second ago, our distributor and label in Germany has put us through insolvency late. We were supposed to release a new record and also do a tour. Basically what they told us would be two months, has, as we thought, taken a lot longer. And so we had to compose a lot of different ways to present our music, and with going on tour. So the insolvency is just kind of dealing with the whole economy and things like that but the tour itself isn’t really eaten around that per say. But it is certainly related to the way we are marketing things.
SCMT: What will the “In Solvent See” tour be like and how will it differ from past tours?
Ogre: I think there is always kind of a similar art to Skinny Puppy tours. There is a theatrical element and a visual element. We are pushing our visual thing, so we are doing a full stage immersion, visually and with how were going to use lighting. Thematically, the show is kind of touching on both the alienation and kind of faceless black void that is racism in this country. We are kind of touching on that a bit, to a certain degree, because I was influenced by something a few months ago. I got a bug in my head and started seeing little bits starting to creep out of the crock-pot, that showed racism in this country is a bit of a problem. But the bottom line with the show without getting to preachy, it’s actually more a visual and contextual show. It has analogies based on that [racism] but overall it’s more of a visual, interesting to look at show. I would call it more abstract. But as for a direct theme for the show, it certainly isn’t all about racism. It kind of evolves backwards into half the reason why.
SCMT: Fans have not heard any songs off the un-released album yet. Will they get the opportunity to hear some new material from that album on the tour?
Ogre: We might be. The whole problem with that, is it definitely puts us into a position of having a new album that was supposed to be released to a label that is going through something with its people. So were not sure how it all stands. Legally, if we play material it could be held against us later, as that was material from this record. But if things go the way we want them to, we could be free and clear of the whole label system thing very soon, which is an utterly good thing right now given the different ways we will be able to market music. Et-least for us, we have a developing audience, so we can kind of bypass these things that have been making the music industry kind of come to a halt… years ago [laughs].
SCMT: You guys kick off your tour at the Glass House in Pomona and then wrap up the tour in Los Angeles. What made you decide to start and end the tour in Southern California?
Ogre: Originally we had two separate warm-up dates. We had one for Las Vegas at the House of Blues, but there was a another event happening that night that was largely bigger than us. So we ended up needing to find another place to do our warm-up show. We were also due to be in Anaheim at the House of Blues, but the guy who books there, and has booked us there year after year after year, put the paperwork in and got back to us and said we weren’t allowed to play there anymore. We had been blacklisted.
SCMT: How come?
Ogre: I have no idea. They didn’t really give a reason why. They must have had some sort of change in their policy when it comes to having politically minded bands. Whatever list we’re on that deems us bad, its been upped a little bit. Surprisingly enough, I would think that in a more liberal time period that wouldn’t be the case. But corporations are obviously clamping down on something. Again, I have issues even without that. You have Hollywood Records, which is still with Disney, and they have Insane Clown Posse and stuff – so it’s kind of like, come on, you know? What the fuck… But whatever, we needed a place to start and the Glass House ended up being it.
SCMT: I wouldn’t have expected you guys to play there.
Ogre: It’s going to be fun. We’ve been rehearsing to the point that I’ve become kind of excited doing the first show there because it’s going to be pretty raw and off the cuff, in a lot of ways. It will be less production. Not less production as far as sound goes but less production as far as perhaps the theatrical element. It’ll be a bit raw and just personal time. I’m looking forward to it as a great warm-up place for sure.
SCMT: I noticed you guys scheduled a day off from the tour on Halloween. What will Halloween be like for you guys?
Ogre: It looks like its going be in between a bus and hard place [laughs]. We got a day off here so I can come home, but I live kind of far north up near Thousand Oaks and the mountains. Kind of between Thousand Oaks and Malibu, so it’s a horribly long drive for me – down to Pomona. I was just down there actually. I was doing additional dialogue recording for this movie, 2001 Maniacs. And that was down in West Covina, which isn’t even at Pomona and I was like Fuck. So were going to be stuck here on Halloween, which really sucks. Halloween should be pretty boring I think. I mean I’ll have fun – watch some movies, get spooky and do my own little ritual. I’ll listen to some radio and fucking creeped out programs. It’s going to be pretty non-festive but I don’t really partake in the sort of partying aspect of Halloween. I’ll spend it at home and spook out the house. I did that last night with some friends that were having a little Halloween party and took a bunch of pictures.
SCMT: Oh really, what were you?
Ogre: I was just me, dead.
SCMT: How would you describe the new album?
Ogre: Well it’s hard for me to give you a description of the music you will experience. There’s a lot of really strong songs that would have developed right before this little momentary lapse of reason within the label took place and we were kind of derailed so to say. And now we’re just waiting to hear if we are going to get picked up by Sony or whoever is buying the label or if any one is buying the label. If nobody buys the label then of course we will be free and clear. For me to talk about the new CD would be almost like bad luck. I’m pretty confident that the album is very intense. It still has a good song structure to it. To a certain degree, it’s not just noise. It’s certainly not like any other older Skinny Puppy album I think. cEVIN’s programming has developed to a different place where he is doing a lot more butch kind of stuff. And that combined with Mark’s programming is giving me structure to it all. We’ve been working about five songs that are, again, contextually dealing with life within an urban environment. Kind of trying to figure out the measures and changes taking place in the economy. The government’s taking over and ain’t no goddamn money for the coke-heads [laughs].
SCMT: Yeah. So my last question isn’t really geared toward Skinny Puppy, it’s actually for you personally. I was curious what drew you to being a part of “Repo! The Genetic Opera?”
Ogre: Well, it was a friend of mine Joe Bashara, who is a music producer. He asked me what I was doing next and I said well, a dream I’ve always had is to be under prosthetic’s – preferably playing a character that is distasteful and uh a little veneering at the same time. He mentioned this film he was working on that was being directed by Darren Bousman, who did SAW II and III and IV I think. It was his passion project you know, Repo this genetic musical opera and at that point I was in – because it was like somebody was fighting the studio system to have this movie made and so I went down and met Darren, met the two writers of the original opera and talked with them, and then got behind them. I did the audition for everybody and it all kind of righted out to the point where they really pushed for me with Lions Gate because Lions Gate wasn’t having it with any musicians. They were just like, this guy can’t, he is a fucking rock-star. He’s gonna be a problem, you know the same old thing… But I ended up being hired and had this incredible experience, met Bill Mosley. Which led up to me doing this new film 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams, with Bill again. It just progressed into something that you know, we’ll see what happens but it was a nice transition for me. And what attracted me to Repo, to get back to your original question, was that it was something that was somewhat safe and somewhat dangerous in the sense that I already knew how to sing and all if it was taped before hand, so when I got on set I could learn the etiquette of the set and all of the terminology and lingo and I didn’t have to learn about dialogue per say because we had done that element before so we were just lip-sinking when we were on set, which gave me time to work on movement and also gave me the opportunity to see how I looked on film. It was great, I loved it. I lived there for two months in Toronto, I even brought my dog with me. Just had a great time, they treated me wonderfully. It was a fun film to do. There was an eccentric, eclectic cast.
SCMT: Is there anything more you can tell us about the new Skinny Puppy album that has been postponed?
Ogre: The album has the potential to be a really solid record, and were excited about it but things are moving in different directions because of the insolvency. One thing I would say is to have your people check out wdihtf.com. We actually finished an ohGr record during the time of this insolvency issue with skinny puppy. So were working on the release of that after this tour. Check out the website, there is a free download of a new song. We’re doing an interesting approach to the release of the record and it will all be unveiled in the next little while. Although we started the first thing which happened October 10 with the Oliver type-writer. But yeah, you should go check it out.