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Q&A with Ogre and cEvin Key

The breakup of SKINNY PUPPY was a difficult rite of passage for all concerned. Here's what cEvin Key and Ogre had to say about the troubled recording of SKINNY PUPPY's final album, The Process, and the death of their bandmate, Dwayne Goettel. The two were interviewed separately and their answers later collated. These days, you won't find them together in the same room.

Now that The Process is finally finished, and all the turmoil that went into the making of it is behind you, how do you feel about the record?

cEvin Key: The response I've gotten from fans -- the people who really care about getting a new Skinny Puppy album -- has been good. They're ecstatic about it. I know the songs will stand the test of time. They will get even better in time.

Ogre: I've heard kids on the Internet who have downloaded part of "Cult" and are complaining it sounds like Alice Cooper and all these other things.

Well, this is easily the most melodic record Skinny Puppy has ever done.

Ogre: Right. But I think a lot of kids have gotten in on the tail end of Skinny Puppy, when things got really twisted on our previous album, Last Rites. It got really slabby and dissonant. That was the sound of me putting a needle in my arm, really. So I think this new record entailed a conscious effort by all of us to be more melodic. Melody is something I've desperately tried to understand over the years. Because I come from the world of dissonance, of anti-melody, of shouting. I'm coming from being somebody who had sinus problems and basically no idea of how to sing.

What about Dwayne?

Ogre: When Dwayne got down to Malibu, he'd changed girlfriends. He had some problems. He was with this woman who I think was pretty disastrous to his life and the key to his falling down. Dwayne had always experimented with hallucinogens and ecstasy. But when he got down to Malibu, he'd switched paths and started doing a lot of speed and downers.

Were there artistic differences as well?

Key: Dwayne brought something like 28 songs down to Malibu with him. I was floored by about 17 of them. But Dwayne felt his songs were being ignored. He was concerned about how his songs would be perceived by Ogre. He was very sensitive about them being perceived as just techno. The real bitterness was definitely going on between Ogre and Dwayne. It was like fire and water.

Ogre: One altercation sticks out in my mind. Dwayne said, "Don't turn this into a fucking rock band." And I said to him, "Well I don't want to become a fucking trance techno band. But at our last moment at Malibu, we hugged and kissed and made peace. He went back up to Vancouver and that was the last I heard from him.

cEvin, when was the last time you spoke to Dwayne?

Key: Just the day before he died. It was really sad. We'd been having problems with the label and during this same period, Dwayne's girlfriend had decided she was going to move to another city and become a teacher of ice skating. This was something Dwayne had known about in advance, but he wasn't prepared for all of this to be happening at once. He'd gone to his parent's house in Edmonton with the intention of getting off drugs. But he was having a hard time with it, and somehow some person he talked to on the phone offered to send him some heroin from Vancouver. They sent him two packages. When he received the second package, he went into the bathroom. His father and mother said he turned on the fan like he normally did when he was going to take a bath. But he was in there a little too long. When they broke down the door, he was already dead. Before Dwayne went to Edmonton, he said to me, "I'm really afraid. I keep seeing visions of my own suicide."
Do you see his death as suicide or an accidental overdose?

Key: I see heroin use as suicide. But I know that Dwayne didn't purposely kill himself. I know he didn't load up the needle and say, "I'm doing it this time." I'm certain of that.

How does the album The Process relate to the Internet religious cult of the same name?

Ogre: They're projects that were going on at the same time. Bill Morrison, who does all our videos, and I thought it would be an interesting idea to start a cult on the Internet. Genesis P. Orridge {leader of the group Psychic TV and founder of the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle} helped us get started. He turned me on to the original Process, which was a psychotherapy cult that started in the 60s. They were deemed a Satanic cult, but they were neither Satanic nor Christian. In fact, they were both.

So on the album, there's a piece called "The Process," for example . . .

Ogre. Right. And that has some excerpts from a text written by myself and Genesis and a few other people. It has elements of Process doctrine. Dwayne was very interested in The Process; cEvin was not so interested in it. So that was another source of tension. They thought I was fucking Jim Jones or something. cEvin more so than Dwayne. He didn't believe in it. But I think he's seeing something in it now.

Key: I think The Process is an interesting concept. Originally, when Ogre first told me about it, I thought, "It's confusing, but it sounds neat." So I have a different meaning about what it is. If The Process manifests itself into any physical form, it is absolutely the experience that one has gone through while creating something. I know Ogre's Process is different. It's based upon more culty semi-religious things. I tend to want to be honest and say, "I'm a musician. I'm totally into my music and I was totally into trying to reach the fullest spectrum of sound on this record. To go from Last Rites to something else was gonna be a challenge no matter what. But I certainly didn't think it would end this way. I'm sorry it did.

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