Interview with Dwane Rudolph Goettel in Milwaukee, WI at the beginning of the TOO DARK PARK tour Oct. 31, 1990 by phone by Peter Day at WMXM 88.9fm at Lake Forest College
P: When did Skinny Puppy first get together and how'd they get the Nettwerk deal, and some background
D: Ok, I'll give a little brief description of that, Kevin (Ogre) and Kevin Crompton, got together in about 1983. Kevin was playing in bands he wasn't to satisfied with. The two of them got together and right at the same time the people who were the people from Nettwerk, were putting together their record company, so they recorded Remission for about 600 bucks and released it on there and it got released in Europe on Play It Again Sam and started to get distributed, and that's sorta how Nettwerk got going.
P: So Skinny Puppy started Nettwerk?
D: Practically, there was another release, Like Moev, one of the guys in Nettwerk was in Moev, so that's how that started, and they kept making records from there
P: Then when did you join?
D: That wasn't until 1986, Bill was playing with them. and he didn't really... He wanted to go and do his own thing, he wasn't really fitting in the band as well as he wanted. He didn't want to go on tour, or anything. I just sort of lucked out, one time before Skinny Puppy had played in my home town, and I met them, and right before we went on a world tour, I joined up and things sorta worked out.
P: Did the Capitol deal come about through Nettwerk?
D: Yeah, mostly through Nettwerk's work. It wasn't the band playing out and seeking itself, it was more trying to get the best distribution deal that we possibly could without loosing any of the facilities of being independent way of doing things, so it was trying to get the best out of both worlds. And we still have complete control.
P: So they didn't bother artistic control or anything like that, you were just able to keep doing what you wanted to do.
D: Exactly, yeah. and because we don't sit down and spend more than we're ever going to make. each time we get a little bit more, but we don't go out crazy and go this time were going to spend all this money and have no way of making it back like some of the groups go and spend way more, and then it comes back and plays on the radio, and they can make it back, but Skinny Puppy is not going to have videos, or replays of songs in the same way that other bands are, it going to sell as many 12 inches as it'll sell and it going to get played as much as it gets played but that doesn't constitute a whole lot of plays, so we just keep things as within our range as possible.
P: Can you describe the band's relationship with Alan Jourgensen, and how it came about that he played on Rabies.
D: It seems natural for us to some how have met and met on a sort of crashing apocalyptic meeting in that he's sort of... Rabies is that crossing ground, that meeting ground and I think that since then we've left that ground behind us, and that's where it will be. I mean, at the time the way things were going, Ogre was exploring a lot of things and wanted to go out and do things and at the same time, Kevin and myself were doing other projects. It seemed natural, it seemed like the thing that was required at that time, and I think that we sort of... all of us have taken from that experience, what we ought to, and now we've moved on. You can hear the difference in this album how some people, Skinny Puppy fans were writing us saying, 'What's happened to you guys you guys aren't gonna go all hard core on us now.' Obviously were not going to do a Ministry trip exactly. What good is it if everybody is listening to hardcore guitars right now. Skinny Puppy obviously is going to flirt with it, but that's Al's trip, so he can take it and go wherever that's supposed to go.
P: Do you consider Rabies a Skinny Puppy album, or do you consider it as a side project, I mean you just did it..
D: No It's still Skinny Puppy but it's with Al hanging around, and just represents that era and that crossroads of thinking. Almost in a way it allowed us to go back and re-emphasize where it is we're coming from in the first place. Skinny Puppy is always going back into its old, and re-digging it out and rehashing it and trying to mix it up with the new stuff again, always a little bit of the old and little bit of the new.
P: On the Worlock single you had the message about the A rating for movies, and now in the US they have NC-17, how do you feel about that.
D: I feel it's great, right now its so much of an issue of censorship, the way the pendulum swings back and forth, There's a lot of people and media right now very upset. There's a lot of people united, it not just underground people that want censorship figured out. I can't say that because Skinny Puppy wrote that message that it got changed, but I'm sure that energy along with all the other peoples' energies, I mean I see ads everywhere, on MTV and songs, 2 Live Crew, all kinds of people are very much into fighting that were going into the 90's and the last thing we need are people trying to hide things out, and going NO NO NO, Its all actors, all people are really upset about that, they don't want other people saying, "No you can't do that." For people who are adults and can make decisions on their own, and aren't going to be confused by images, we should have the power of the people, to have the power over the images, not some elite people. The power has to be structured evenly.
P: I was wondering how it came about, how the new Ministry live album has a little sticker on it and Jane's Addiction has a sticker on it, and just about every other album has a sticker on it, how come Skinny Puppy has been able to get away without a little censorship sticker on it.
D: I don't know maybe there's no words like fuck or shit, or anything like that.
P: Well VivisectVI at least did, I can't remember...
D: I don't know, there's probably no dirty words on this album. It's Ogre ranting but he's not swearing.
P: I wanted you to explain on the sleeve notes for Rabies the "Fuck you Robert Palmer" Is it just because Robert Palmer is kind of a geek or is it..
D: It wasn't so much at Robert Palmer as a person, or that, it's much more like rock star. It isn't like, oh we're going to single him out, but the way whatever Kevin was writing, that was describing what he wanted, but its not Robert Palmer exactly, but when you think of Robert Palmer you do think ok, there is a guy who sold his name and his songs to Pepsi. Also the way he's treadmilled his image you know, the girls and all that off, it's just like k-ching k-ching, he's rolling it out, I mean it sorta represents a rock star, but it's not exactly him, it not like he's any worse than all the rest. That's just the way Kevin was writing.
P: It seems to me that the last 3 albums are more political than before, you've had things about animal rights and what not, is that conscious or...
D: I think that's, well it's entirely due to Ogre's writing. I've heard him say in interviews before that it has to do with what he was focusing on and that before although he was talking about personal things in a way he wasn't getting across what he wanted, it was too personal for him and it may have meant a lot more to him than what it was he was getting from other people back, and that by writing about specific issues, still from a personal side he feels more focused and more communitative, communicative that way, I'm guessing, I know its more direct this way. He's not going to be singing too many love songs or too many I'm in a room by myself kinds of songs. It's more like this world is getting really small really really fast.
P: How did the Hilt project come about? And how did you meet Alan, and why did you to decide to do it now instead of maybe before?
D: Its just the amount of time and energy that is made available and Hilt, not as Hilt, but Kevin and Al have been jamming together for a really long time and although Skinny Puppy was taking up a lot of Kevin's energy, he still had the time to fuck around on the side, but of course never had anybody willing to give a budget or anything. But all of the time like when we moved out to Toronto, Al was living out there, and Al would come over and the two of them were like, "oh wow lets write a song" (in his best faux drunk voice) and its very different than Skinny Puppy, its even less figured out, like the two of them get on guitars, and neither one of them can play guitar. but they just love to turn on the tape deck, "all right lets record a song." and that kind of thing, Hilt is a little more seat of your pants and not so serious with the world, but more like guys drunk, drunk guys, with instruments not knowing what they're doing, and that sort of thing. I mean there's like so much for us, we can go and do Skinny Puppy and get all of that kind of stuff out of our system, but at the same time we can go and do Hilt and get that out of the system, and all of the other projects.
P: Have you done any other side projects?
D: Kevin did an album with Bill, and I was sort of around, and that's coming out, it's being released now, It's a little more like Bill's stuff and that's not very serious as well. And there's another... of course were still working on doing another Tear Garden soon. And Kevin and myself have another project, coming out on Wax Trax! pretty soon, called Doubting Thomas, and that's sort of like Skinny Puppy but the opposite, there's no vocals, and there's no hard driving stuff, its all like really mellow and laid back and more soundtracky, there is still some weirdness and stuff
P: Kind of like Controlled Bleeding maybe?
D: Yeah, maybe something like that, I don't know, maybe a little bit 4ad, its some beautiful stuff, some melody stuff, and also stuff without melody as well, so there's like a 12" and an album, a cd and every thing like that
P: Have you ever thought of adding Alan to the Skinny Puppy lineup
D: No I think we've had our days with Al. I think that was it, what we did on Rabies was that, and like, every thing else is so satisfying, I don't know, if we run into him or whatever, I think its time for him to re-evaluate what he's doing, because that's what we did after we worked with him, and so now it's up to him. We'll see what he gets down to this year.
P: Can you tell me about Too Dark Park, where the songs came from, and the recording of it, just a general overview of the album.
D: Well like I was saying, it was in a way it was a re-evaluation of everything. and like coming into the nineties with something new, and coming in with a new cover we changed artists.
P: Why was that?
D: Well things were getting a little...
P: Like progressing or something?
D: No things were stagnating for me in the art department. Things were being like... almost like that Robert Palmer kind of thing, they were being like run off just like all right here's the cover, here's the picture, here's the logo, bang bang bang, kind of thing. towards the end, I think it did well for us and that sort of represents a whole chunk and we'll leave that look in the eighties and that's all fine and everything, And once again like I said we were re-evaluating and going back and trying to find, like carry on the best traits from before and mix them in with whatever new stuff. When I look out into the world of music and things and what's going on, there's so, for me anyway, very little stuff that's right on the very edge and trying to figure out what it is that's going to happen going into the nineties, and where everything is going to turn. We've got a million million rap things going on right now, you turn on the tv and everybody's up-ahubba-bubba. It's like, I don't know where to look and Skinny Puppy doesn't know where to look, but somewhere within the group Too Dark Park was found.
P: Is there a reason why you didn't put any bonus tracks on, I mean a lot of your albums, cd's anyway have been 60-70 minutes long.
D: I think we didn't have the time.
P: Were you getting a lot of pressure from Capitol to get a product out on time?
D: No, Those extra tracks like the tracks on Vivisect are the kinds of tracks, that in a way now might end up in Doubting Thomas, or might end up in, no maybe not Hilt, but I mean now that each one of those factions can be satisfied we can more properly leave what's Skinny Puppy Skinny Puppy. Like those song on Vivisect were kind of cross over, like somewhere in between what band is this, that's what happens now when we write a song its sort of like, does it go in this pile or that pile over that or what would happen if it went over here? You know, it's very satisfying to have all the things, but I would love to release a record that goes all the way from Skinny Puppy all the way to something mellow to something weird, I mean that's where my tastes could go, it just... it wouldn't present itself properly. I mean unless you had a whole year to work on it like Pink Floyd, like you could go and do an album like that where you could take it and make, but our albums are made in a month or two, really fast.
P: How do you see Skinny Puppy in the alternative music spectrum? Like compared with other bands like Consolidated, Nitzer Ebb, or Butthole Surfers, I mean what kind of role do you see Skinny Puppy playing?
D: I don't know, really my perspective is from someone who's in Vancouver, and participates in the business of being in a band, and dealing with the music is personal and non-scoping. Obviously you have to pay attention to what's going on in the world and you don't want to be going out stomping all over things that have already been done and we all try to keep on each others toes for that. But I'm not like a consumer anymore, maybe 4 or 5 years ago I was going out and buying lots of things and being... sort of knowing where everybody was in relation to everybody, but its not so much a conscious thing anymore, I think it's just like second nature. You know, it's hard to say.
P: What's your feeling about videos, or the band's feeling about doing videos
D: It's great to do videos when you have the money to do them, but for Skinny Puppy's part it's less of a promotional tool. I mean going on tour is our promotion and word of mouth and the record itself. When a video gets made it's not like ok were going to spend $50,000 and it's going to sell this many more records. A video, it doesn't sell any more records. it's just like what it is, what that video is on its own and it's like how satisfying was it to write that song and record it, its the same, it's not playing any game like anything else. The record company can't even use the videos to promote the band they just like, if Worlock gets out and some people see it, they see it. Like the backing tapes, the backing images and that kind of stuff is really satisfying for Ogre to put that into a show and use it, it's more applicable. He's going to get around to making a video for this album, but were so busy doing the tour now, He's going to go make it when we get back.
P: What were the goals of the band when it started out, you may not know that, but from what you've heard, and what are the future plans and future goals for the band as far as what you want to accomplish for yourselves?
D: I don't know, I think they are being accomplished all along, every time. After going through what we went through in the last little while, because we didn't tour and because we didn't do all... because Ogre was running around and we doing our thing. It did let us know what we wanted to do with Skinny Puppy and to be able to either make another show or to make movies or to take it to the next step. Were playing in pretty large places and if it comes around to playing in even larger places I don't know if that's if the show is going to have to change into not being a band and into more into some other thing. It's dependent on money, right? If the money is made available to us then obviously then the show is going to go up, but if things are not then were going to have to satisfy ourselves by whatever means possible. And I know that movies and doing all, like soundtracks and doing things like that is definitely a place to look, but its you know it's self determinating. Like what ever comes across come to us by means of what we're doing now will be the next step. I don't know if it can get bigger? It'll go where ever it's supposed to.
P: Have you ever done any soundtracks?
D: Oh a few little things, like a song here and a song there have made it into a trailer and like Who's Laughing Now? from Vivisect made it onto that Rob Lowe movie, Bad Influence?
P: I never saw it.
D: They actually used like the whole song, without any dialog in it, in the movie, strange
P: Ok, that's it, thank you very much.
D: All right.
© 1990, Peter Day