INTERVIEW WITH HELMES KRACHT ZINE (US), DECEMBER 2000
Interview was between John Tarantula and Joe Wheeler. Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to obtain the zine. Thanks to Joe for his time and support.
1) How is the sound of your new CD different from the demo tape you did awhile back? Is it more like doom metal?
Erm, I thought that was your job to review it, though I know you haven't got one yet... (joke) I guess it's pretty similar though more vicious and more extreme (hopefully). Lyrically it's a little darker with two of the three 'proper' songs about being trapped by drugs and depression and crying to God for help. The third 'proper' song is a praise song taken from 1 Timothy 6 v 15-16. (The first track on the CD is an intro, the fourth a 50 second blast track and the last an outro.) It' s a bit hard to give an objective view of the music as I'm so close to it, but like I said it' s still Holy Black Sludge (death/doom/black) given a layer of (musical) hopelessness and despair. When you get this interview back you should have a copy so let me know what you think! The production is still not the best but we did it for nothing on my friends 8-track so I can't complain. Next time we will go into a studio and aim for a fuller sound. We have another 4 songs written since the new CD which are a bit maturer in terms of writing etc so after some practice and saving up we hope to record them (and maybe some more).
2) I looked at the online photo where you're wearing a metal mask on stage. What is your reason for it?
Because we're so ugly dude - you don't wanna see our real faces, they' re scarier than the masks! No seriously they're part of the show and come off after a few songs, partly because they make breathing difficult and you can't really sing! First time we wore them was just to be a bit different and add an air of mystery. We played last night and wore them again, this time I had 'SIN' written underneath in big black letters across my face. We took the masks off after the second song and said a bit about needing to take off our masks and get real with God so we can cry to Him. Later on in the show I then 'washed' the sin off my face with the 'blood' of Christ, (food colouring that I still need to get off properly!). Basically it's all visual aids to show the message of our need for forgiveness a nd hopefully should stick in peoples minds even if they forget everything else. We need to pray to keep the focus on the LORD and what He has done, not us. Without Him the band wouldn't exist so we pray we can bring glory to His name alone.
3) What would happen to me if the London Police caught me watching my Tele without a license?
They would take you to the Tower of London and chop your head off at one of the weekly executions. Haven't you heard about them? It's a public deterrent to license evasion. I'm surprised it hasn't caught on elsewhere yet...
4) Do you guys actually live in the city of London itself, or the suburbs?
London is made up of lots of boroughs (districts) that have their own councils. The City of London is the central one of these boroughs and is quite small and almost exclusively offices. Around the City are the inner city boroughs and outside these you get more suburban, then even further out you get real suburbia. To the west of the City is an area called the West End where most of the tourist stuff is, ie Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus etc. This is where a lot of clubs and restaurants are and it is always busy - traffic jams all night! To the East of the city is the East End, where we all live. This is traditionally a more deprived area, with some of the most deprived boroughs in the country. The East End is a cultural melting pot where many different waves of immigrants have left their mark. The borough I live in is over 50% Bangladeshi so there are many excellent and cheap curry houses! Things are changing a lot now though with more and more luxury houses being built on derelict land, with City workers living in virtual fortresses cut off from the neighbourhoods they live in by security etc. These people are hard to reach with the gospel as you can't actually get to their doors and they have all the material things they need. House prices are also going up in this former 'slum' area so that local people can't afford to live here. Greed seems to be taking hold everywhere. Some of my friends pay nearly £80-£90 a week for run down rooms in bad areas. I still live at home with my parents thankfully but wouldn't have much chance of moving out without getting a well paid job! God is in control though and all our worries an d situations are dependant on Him. Whatever happens, we cannot lose in His hands, if we honour His name and acknowledge and love his ways, which I try to work on constantly! All around us is idolatry and godlessness in many forms but we have to stick with our LORD. Micah 4v5
5) Tell us about your newest member the Invocator. Has having him in the band given you a fuller live sound?
I have known the'Invocator' for 5 or 6 years now and he is a good friend, he knew me before I was a Christian and so has seen God change me quite a bit. He used to run an extreme metal club in London and has been writing his zine for 7 or 8 years covering the British underground. He also used to sing and write lyrics for his 'own' death metal band. He asked to join us after hearing the first demo and giving us a gig at his club. He isn't a Christian but knows what we are doing and why and has no objections. I write all the lyrics and do the promotion and he just comes along as has fun and sings! (I think he got the easy job!) I know some people may question having a non believer in a Christian band but it doesn't affect the lyrics or the promotion of the band as Christian. The Invocator was at an Immortal gig the other day trying to sell his zine and had one satanist bloke having a go at him, calling him a Christian! Maybe because he lets me write a Christian metal page in his zine or sings with us, a Christian band. The Invocator is well known in the London underground and so through him I get to know a lot of people that maybe otherwise wouldn't talk to me. Of course I would love to see the Invocator come to know Christ and I pray for him loads. Musically he adds to things as his voice is pretty deep and brutal. It gives us more to play with in terms of vocals and gives my throat a bit of a rest! Like you suggest it does give a fuller live sound. When writing music he is the 'daddy' who has to approve things when we chip in with ideas to change and improve arrangements etc.
We also have an even newer member in the form of one of the goth girls from the Asylum church called Rose, though we still need to think up a stupid name for her, ie Invocator or John Tarantula! Maybe we'll let her decide... She's been with us for 3 weeks now and completed her audition last night at the gig and passed with flying colours! (joke) She plays the keyboards, giving us some melody and depth and she was also dancing behind her keyboard in the bits she doesn't play in. She teaches piano so she's more musical than the rest of us and is also an active and evangelical Christian amongst the goth scene over here. So all in all she's a cool new addition.
6) Are there other ministries you're involved with that are part of Paradox, or separate from the band itself?
I guess the whole Paradox thing is a ministry as is all of our Christian life. As I said earlier Paradox is a tool God has given me to get to slowly know people and bring glory to Him. It is also useful for meeting other like-minded Christians (like yourself) and encouraging and setting each other straight. I have been blown away by some of the secular people who have helped us out and supported what we do and I praise God for it. It is an honour and blessing that I can be light for God in this scene and I am indebted for the doors He has so certainly opened. If I thought about this 4 or 5 years ago I would never have guessed how it is and it proves that our God is so faithful and true to His Word. I pray I can continue to honour Him and serve Him faithfully. If we do this He uses us even i f we can't see it. Even if people don't like you or haven't heard you it is still a witness just to be a Christian band in a secular scene as it tells people that God hasn't forgotten them or written them off, He is meeting them where they are and is not afraid of what they are. His love crosses all boundaries. I'm also part of a church / outreach called Asylum. Asylum was started around 8 years ago as an outreach to the alternative scene in the clubs of the West End of London. We have a monthly club in a rock pub where Christian music is played (rock / goth / punk / industrial / metal etc) and flyers and food are given out. A lot of non-Christians come in and we get to talk to them and inevitably (through a lot of prayer!) the conversation turns to God. Rel a tionships are slowly built and God reaches people and breaks down their misconceptions about Him. In the same pub we also have a weekly church that has been running since January 2000. This is excellent and a witness in itself as the pub is not exactly a typical church venue! The manager of the pub isn't a Christian but lets us do both the church and the club for nothing as he considers us his friends. This is despite criticism and that he charges everyone else. It is a real blessing from God and we are very grateful to Him! There is also a twice yearly Asylum Live event in a bigger club down the road where live bands can play. This is also a good chance for outreach. We've played there a couple of times and did so again on Sunday.
7) Back in the 80's there was a Christian hairspray metal band (in the states) called Paradox, and also a secular German speed/thrash band by the same name. Have you had any copyright problems yet because of this?
Thankfully not yet. I don't think we're big enough to give anyone any worries so things are cool. I think there are a few bands around called Paradox. Today I was looking on the net at a Christian music catalogue sight and I saw another Paradox in the doom/grind/goth section which was a bit worrying...Maybe it's the hairspray band you mentioned? Not sure as I couldn't get any more info. To be honest it doesn't bother me, if it does someone else then I don't mind changing the name though it is a bit of a pain, in terms of telling people and designing a new logo! God is in control though so whatever happens there' s nothing to worry about.
8) What do you like about living in the London area? Is it really thriving as far as things to do and places to go?
I guess my favourite thing about London is the variety. It is like 2,000 different places all in one. I guess this is because of all the different types of people and cultures that are living here. It is always busy and there is plenty to do as long as you have some money. If not then you need to know people to find out where the cheap things are happening. I guess it could be really lonely if you don't know people, it's a pretty big place! People easily get lost in the rush of life and are then forgotten about. I guess I'm quite lucky in that I 've lived here all my life and so have a lot of contacts and friends to hang out with. Like I said it must be pretty daunting coming here if you don't know anyone. The metal / alternative scene is getting smaller and contained in a few areas as most new places that are opening are catering for those who have a lot of money and are therefore expensive and not metal! Things are becoming quite trendy and people want to make as much money as they can. Like I said if you know where to go then there are a few weekly metal clubs and of cour se the big gigs where everyone appears who doesn't go to the smaller stuff. There are a lot of areas that I've never even been to so there is plenty of exploring left to do. The down side is London is the expense and materialism that reigns at the moment. Money is more important than people and their needs, though there are a lot of people who do good work for the less fortunate. As a driver I would also say that traffic is a problem but maybe I'm biased...
God is at work here through Asylum and other less t raditional churches as well as the traditional churches that are still preaching His gospel. He is in charge once again and will work His plan out in this city. One day we will be in the New Jerusalem, the heavenly City with no traffic (!), greed or uncared for people. God will live with us there and we will be his people and He our God. We will see Him face to face and serve Him forever.
9) Any closing comments?
I've probably said too much already but here we go! Keep looking to God for all hope and righteousness. Trust in Him at all times, even if it seems He is not in a situation. If we trust and obey Him He will be in what we do. Look forward to Paradise with Him and never forget it. Keep on the full armour of God - Ephesians 6 v 10-20. If anyone's in London or planning to come over get in touch and we'll meet up and hang out. Thanks Joe for this interview, hope it doesn't take up too much space. Keep up the good work on the zine and have security in God. Oh yeah, if anyone wants a CD get in touch and I'll send one to you.
God Bless, John Tarantula
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