Interview: Psyclon Nine

Psyclon Nine are one of the most prolific bands on the international Industrial scene currently, and with their fourth studio album ‘We The Fallen’ on the way coinciding with a […]
Psyclon Nine are one of the most prolific bands on the international Industrial scene currently, and with their fourth studio album ‘We The Fallen’ on the way coinciding with a possible European tour in the near future, we thought that this would be the perfect time to have a quick natter with the group’s ever provocative vocalist Nero Bellum who in turn, provided us with one our most raw and honest interviews to date…

Psyclon Nine
(Psyclon Nine in 2009)

“I’ve done a lot more damage to the people in my life than they have to me”

S] How does the new album represent a progression of themes and ideas, away from that of ‘Crwn Thy Frnicatr’ – you have said it’s a very “freeform” concept?

N] Well, first of all I wouldn’t say that ‘We The Fallen’ strays from the path laid out by ‘Crwn Thy Frnicatr’ but is more of a conceptual and musical continuation of ‘Crwn…‘ what I meant by saying that this new album is ‘very free form’ was that for this record I have allowed myself to expand our horizons sonically while both remaining true to the essence of what Psyclon Nine is and my own personal growth musically and mentally. Writing the same song over and over again whilst committing to a formula isn’t something that I have ever been interested in. Every Psyclon Nine album has its own spirit that I attempt to connect with during the writing process. It’s a semi-spiritual experience in that I really open myself up to the will of a song and the way that it wants to be written before I even put pen to paper.

S] Can you explain how the “heartworm” concept you deal with on this new album will easily relate to your listener?

N] That concept was an idea that I became obsessed with about two years ago during a very dark period of my life. I began to look at people like emotional parasites, worming their way into the hearts of their victims in order to have some sort of influence on their actions. This caused me to re-evaluate my views on love, amongst other emotions. I’ve always considered myself to be more romantic in nature than the average person. However, after taking a deeper look into this heartworm concept I realised that love seems to be a pretty word that envelopes something a lot darker in nature. For example – the idea that I need you to satisfy my basic addictions and carnal desires and then I will romance you into believing that I am of substance and worth the adulation and worship in order to establish this subservient master and slave scenario.

It obviously works both ways. We all have basic needs that we can’t satiate on our own unless you’re one of those guys who can suck their own dicks. Even then, those guys must be lonely because they’re always posting the videos on the internet thinking that they might impress somebody and ultimately find themselves a subservient beau to hold the camera. A lot has changed in my personal life since that period and I’ve since been able to get myself out of that mind frame. It was very damaging to my relationships. I found it hard to look at anyone around me and not think that they wanted something from me other than friendship.

As far as a fan of ours being able to relate to this concept. I’m sure we can all relate to being used, being heartbroken, utterly exposing ourselves and sharing the brightest and darkest corners of our minds with another human only to get stabbed in the back. Not one person can be immune to something like that. The other side of the heartworm concept is something I think about quite often. I question, ‘How many people have I hurt?’ and, ‘How many hearts have I ripped out while being in that dark mind frame?’ I can tell you now that I’ve done a lot more damage to the people in my life than they have to me. It’s an interesting feeling.

NeroS] Nero, you are at a new album release dinner, you can invite any two people you like dead or alive from friends to fictional characters, who would you invite and why?

N] I’ll give you a few answers. In terms of women it would be Lydia Deets and Wednesday Addams. For the men, I would pick Steven Hawking and Aliester Crowley. I would imagine having a long conversation with Hawking and Crowley to be quite enlightening and very entertaining at the very least. Lucifer a la’ The Passion of the Christ and Emily Rose would also make for great dinner dates as well.

S] What has been a most memorable experience for you whilst you have toured in Europe, and what are you most looking forward to about a possible return to Europe and the UK?

N] The bathrooms at the Slimelight in London are definitely memorable. Co-headlining Wave Gotik Treffen with Front 242 in Leipzig, Germany was an amazing experience. There is something to be said about the intimate club gigs but, Psyclon Nine excel on a big stage. We have a very chaotic and destructive nature while performing and being on arena stages gives us a lot more room to thrash around. There are quite a few things I’m looking forward to doing when we return to Europe for the ‘We The Fallen’ tours. Playing in London again would be great. I’ve always had a fondness for the UK Industrial and Goth scenes.

S] You seem like you are constantly on the go and busy, can you describe your typical day, from the moment you wake, to the moment you crash out?

N] Recently I’ve been in the studio every day so they aren’t as exciting as I would like them to be. A lot of hard work goes into the recording of an album. It gets very repetitive, singing the same verse on the same song 20 times in a ro and trying to make it sound pristine. By the end of the day you either feel accomplished or you have a headache with that same verse repeating in your head until you fall asleep.

On any other day though, let’s say a typical day on the road, things are a bit more exciting. I wake up in my stage clothes and makeup from the night before. I never know which state or country I’m in until I wander into the venue from the bus and ask the first crew guy I see. I usually partake in party favours before changing into my ‘civilian clothes’ and go hunting for coffee. I like to relax and nurse my hangover for a couple hours before sound check then most of us in the band will have breakfast. It all seems pretty boring up until this point but, that all changes very quickly.

Usually about the time people start lining up at doors at least half the band is either missing having run off with some girl the night before, taken some strange drug nobody has ever heard of, been completely drunk, or been arrested having gotten into a fist fight with a local redneck, usually though, that only happens in the ‘bible belt’ of America. Somehow we all manage to end up together in the dressing rooms backstage just in time to get ready and play. We do our set then figure out how to get Abbey [Nex, bass] to the hospital after Rotny [guitar / synths] breaks his head open with the headstock of his guitar then it’s back to the drugs and debauchery. From experience it seems that less and less bands these days tend to embrace the cliche’ rock n’roll life style as we do.

It’s not that it’s a planned out thing for us but being on the road is a lot more difficult than people would assume. It’s very taxing mentally and physically. Having to be away from your loved ones for months on end, being confined in small spaces with eight other people who are just as sleep deprived, stressed out and half-insane as you are. Taking part in the festivities that being a touring musician provides can be a good distraction and it helps balance out all stress and anxiety that builds up over time. It can also lead to some pretty horrifying situations such as band members falling out of the moving bus after drinking and taking ‘shrooms or waking up next to the ugliest human being you’ve ever laid eyes on and praying that it was one of the other guys who had her the night before. After several tours you can start to break it down to a science. You learn your limits and set boundaries. It’s really all about keeping an eye out for each other to make sure nobody ends up dead in their bunk. Or worse.Rotny and

S] Your members are constantly changing, and the band seems to be in a state of flux quite often, what is your biggest personal inspiration, the thing that keeps your driven and motivated to keep working despite this adversity?

N] Some people can’t handle the transition from civilian to super-villain. A few months on the road with a rock band can really test your limits and ability to function in high stress situations. Some people end up going home after the first week. Others go for eight years then finally snap. It all comes down to the individual. Personally, I only feel like myself when I’m touring and playing my songs. All the stress of dealing with the complications of buses breaking down, promoters snubbing us on money and other stuff can lead to serious drama within your inner circle. It has even lead to fist fights between band members in the past which is really horrible because when you’re in a touring band, your band members become your family and closest friends.

My personal inspiration to keep going through the thick and thin isn’t something I fully understand. I feel that this path was laid out for me before I even thought about picking up a guitar or writing music. Nothing else makes sense to me. I’ve tried working a normal job on several occasions and I end up hating myself every second that I’m at work and not at the studio working on a new song or out on the road playing shows. It’s all I’ve been able to think about for as long as I have been independent and an individual. At this point with the current band line-up the same can be said for the rest of the members. For some people, music is just a hobby but, for others like myself and the others, it’s an indescribable force that constantly pushes you forward.

S] You once said that within Divine Infekt, you were trying to let people know who you are, and how you feel, how are things different now, a few years on?

N] I suppose things aren’t so different today. I’m always re-inventing myself so to speak. actually, I think that rather than re-inventing myself I’m constantly re-inventing the method in which I communicate my ideas. Sometimes I would rather write an instrumental song to connect the listener with a specific emotion than write a song with lyrics that paint a metaphorical picture. Sometimes just the music is enough to speak for itself. Other times I have a pent up feeling that I need to expel that I simply cannot channel through the conventional Psyclon Nine sound and need to use a different set of tools in order to capture that feeling.

A good example of what I’m talking about would be the track ‘Under the Judas Tree’ from our upcoming album. That was a song that I wrote shortly after my mother took her own life. It was a reflection of how I felt about a lot of different life altering events that had happened over the previous few years leading up to that point. I couldn’t express those emotions through a song like ‘Parasitic‘. It just doesn’t work. However, when I sat down to write ‘Judas..’ I had no intentions of writing an acoustic glam rock song. I started that session just as I would have started any other, sitting on a small couch in front of my home studio computer with a guitar and a virus sample. I had been thinking a lot of my mother, the recent departure of several band members as well as the fact that I had completely alienated myself from all but one of my friends over the past few years at that point. It all led to the creation of that song.

There are several tracks on this album that reflect those sorts of emotions through this new sound. We have another song called ‘Suicide Note Lullaby’ that I wrote a few weeks before my mother’s passing after I had a dream of a little girl being tucked into bed by her mother while the mother reads a hand written suicide note in a soft, calming voice to lull her daughter to sleep. I didn’t think much of it then. Only that it was a bizarre dream because I wasn’t personally in my own dream. I don’t think I can remember another dream I’ve had in which I wasn’t the main character. Anyhow, I kept that title for the song without giving it much thought other than I felt that it was an interesting concept that I should look into on a later date when writing lyrics. It’s strange how these things work out.

S] Psyclon Nine have always embraced a very powerful live performance, will you be expanding the live show at all for ‘We The Fallen’?

N] Psyclon Nine has always been credited as a very visual band and I believe that most of the allure behind us is our live show. I’ve never had the opportunity to fully realise my vision for the live show but, I think with the recent success of ‘Crwn Thy Frnicatr’, the upcoming release of ‘We The Fallen’ and the addition of our two new band members, we should be able to bring a lot more to the table as far as our stage show and performance is concerned. I’m very excited about the bands current line up. Jon Siren [drums] is an amazingly talented musician who is an absolutely perfect fit for Psyclon Nine. He is one of the most passionate and driven individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Vlixx (synth and percussion) has been a long time friend of mine and I have a deep respect for him as a musician and as an individual. For the first time I really feel that as a band, we’re all on the same page.

Everyone in Psyclon Nine has been a band leader at some point in their musical careers and I think that it takes a lot of motivation and a certain indescribable spark for a person to be able to realise their own vision and become the glue that holds a band together. That same band leader mentality shines through so much in each member. Nobody is in the background. We all have our unique qualities that surface during our performances, and that really adds depth to the live show. So many bands today are so fucking cookie-cutter. Personally, I can’t tell them apart. I’ve seen quite a few bands lately playing in Hollywood in which all of the band members look like the same boring fucking guy. It’s that same boring fucking guy that I see hanging out in front of Starbucks every afternoon. Wearing the same boring fucking jeans and band T shirt with the same boring fucking haircut, it’s all incredibly insipid. I don’t understand how these people can stand to be in their own skin or how the consumer blindly and gleefully swallows this shit up, one load after another. It’s so mind numbing.

I would like to think that, with the popularity of websites such as Myspace where you have access to every fucking band on the planet that our musical and artistic culture would diversify to the depths of infinity. I would like to think that, the only reason why these kids are paying to go to these horrible shows is that they’re being spoon fed by the major labels who have a stranglehold over permeating systems such as the radio and MTV or whatever mass media organation you choose but, it’s simply not the case. The fact is that the average person has no mind of their own and so begs to be taught what to like – what to listen to, what to watch, who to pray to and what is beautiful.

Our generation and especially our younger generations are completely conditioned into fearing individuality. We only listen to the music that Bam Margera plays on his show. We only want to fuck the Lindsay Lohan doppelgangers, we only want to eat the cereal with the sports hero on the box, we want to breathe Harry Potter-air at the Oxygen Bar and drink the electrolyte-infused Miley Cyrus water. People have completely handed over their individuality to an automanous society and have entirely buckled to slave culture. I feel very fortunate that most of our fans seem to be infinitely more intellectual and ultimately subversive than the rest of the Disney generation.Psyclon Nine in 2009

S] It may be too early to tell, but your video for ‘Parasitic’ was a very cool work of art, do you have any ideas for a visual interpretation to a specific song from this new record yet?

N] We’re currently talking to a few directors and producers about a few video projects for the near future. I cannot get ahead of myself and give any details on what we have planned but, I can tell you that I’m very fucking excited to see my visual ideas manifested in the methods we’ve been discussing. The wait will be well worth this bullshit answer I’m giving you.  

S] You have done an acoustic track on this new album, along with more glam-orientated songs – are you excited to see how this new work will be received?

N] I’m definitely curious to see how our fan base will receive the songs that nod to my more glam and rock influences but, I might be more excited about some of the heavy songs we’ll do. There are quite a few tracks on this new album that are leaps and bounds heavier, darker and more complex than anything we have done before and I think that ‘We The Fallen’ will issue a lot more intensity than the previous albums because of the balance between the heavy and softer sides of the spectrum. It’s all very chaotic and almost primitive in nature. It feels like a first album. There some are very new ideas being thrown around at the speed of light, smashing into a plethora of extreme emotions. It’s by far the most emotionally draining Psyclon Nine album to date.

S] We are curious, as your music grows in popularity and you “get out” more, are you consciously getting better at relating to people and fans?

N] Relating to fans seems quite easy to me. Theoretically, I would like to believe that the majority of our fans. At least the die-hard ones, and I are very much like-minded. Most of the bands I grew up listening to I enjoyed because I could completely relate to the themes lyrically and found the images and music beautiful. Of course I have my own idea of beauty and tend to find the abstract, perverse, out of bounds and out of line more alluring than what we were taught to be attracted to. I would imagine that Psyclon Nine fans would have a similar world view as I and so, I tend to feel a connection with my fans. I feel very comfortable and enjoy hanging out with them after our shows. I’ve had very interesting and enlightening conversations with a few fans over the years and after touring for around seven years I tend to run into the same faces over and over again. Some of our fans will drive from state to state in America and after hanging out after shows for a while we end up becoming friends.

On the other hand, being approached by fans in random public places for example in the mall or a grocery store, that usually throws me off a bit. It’s not that it bothers me at all. To be honest it’s always flattering when someone respectfully approaches me for a picture or an autograph while I’m out for dinner or wherever else. It’s just that that it’s always unexpected so I’m always caught off guard.

As far as being better able to relate to the average person, it’s completely the opposite. More recently, I’ve even had a hard time being able to relate to long time friends and family members after living in this alternate reality for so long. I find myself attempting to catch up with friends after being on tour and not seeing them for a year or so and it seems that the more popular the band becomes and the more involved I become within the music industry the less we can relate to each other. Most of the stories I would have to tell would go completely over their heads and most of the stories they would tell me I just don’t understand. The daily grind, nine-to-five routine, having kids and all that, sometimes I find myself thinking that these people haven’t developed at all over the years because of their lack of world experience and it really depresses me. These days I tend to have a lot more musicians as friends simply because we’re living on the same plane of existence.

On the same topic, my girlfriend Lisa Marx and I just had our six month anniversary. She is a very talented musician who has been a member of several popular touring bands over the years including Kittie and The Dear and Departed. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a truly balanced relationship where we can both relate to each other on every level. It’s a great feeling to be able to write music with your significant other or even just to be able to tell a tour story knowing that she’s familiar with all the places and venues that I’ve been to and performed at. So the need to be able to relate to other people through music has reached into my romantic relationships as well as friendships.

Check out the video for ‘Parasitic’ below:

For more information visit the band’s Myspace and website.

Photos:  ::Martha†Poly::

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