Cancer Killing Gemini Interview
Interview Date – 9th September 2011
Interviewer – Phill Bruce
9/11 is a day that will be remembered in history and will be on the minds of people far beyond our lifetime. It is a subject that raises debate about the events surrounding it. No matter what was involved in the run up to it the fact is thousands lost their lives as a result. Cancer Killing Gemini recently released the song “World Trade” to mark the anniversary of 9/11. I got a chance to catch up with Eric from Cancer Killing Gemini to ask him all about it and here’s how it went.
Download: "World Trade" Here
Phill – Hi Eric thanks for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview, can we start by you giving us all a little background about Cancer Killing Gemini?
Eric – Hi Phill. Sure. Cancer Killing Gemini started as my solo industrial / downtempo project with the release of a full length album “It only hurts when we breathe” in 2010. (Thanks to Julie from Grave Concerns to be one of the first to review some of the tracks from that album.) In the fall of 2010, I began looking for musicians so that CKG could start playing out. By December 2010 the lineup was complete: Frank Hegyi on Drums, Andrew Padua on bass, Maxwell Butler on keys, Chuck Pukmel on guitar and myself on vocals. What has happened since then has been a wild ride. The sound of the band has evolved as the styles of each of the new members has been incorporated. Self-described, we might now be similar to Motley Crue meets Steely Dan meets Nine Inch Nails. I can't wait to see what we sound like next year.
Phill – First main question really, where were you and what were you doing when you heard of the news on that fateful day?
Eric – I woke up and turned the tv on while I was getting ready to go to work. Every channel was showing the same shot of the first tower smouldering. I stayed home and watched the news all day and into the night, changing channels every few moments. I saw the second plane hit . I kept watching, trying to absorb every bit of information I could. I watched the news for weeks, immersing myself in the coverage. I internalized my feelings about the event by trying to logically understand it.
Phill – So what inspired Cancer Killing Gemini to write a song about the war on terror?
Eric – When I heard the Osama Bin Laden had been killed, it had a profound impact on me. So many terrible things had transpired between 9/11 and his death. Our soldiers being killed. Iraqi and Afghan citizens being killed. The Patriot Act. Abu Gharib. Guantanamo Bay. The misguided invasion of Iraq. Waterboarding. The demonization of Muslims in the eyes of America. The demonization of Americans in the eyes of Muslims. Body scans at the airport. How could one man be the catalyst for all of this? Fuck you Bin Laden. You will be forgotten and the world will heal.
Phill – Have you ever visited Ground Zero, if so what emotions were brought up while you were there?
Eric – I've been twice. Once in 2001, a few months after the attack and then again last month. In 2001, the site was a hole in the ground, a pile of debris. There were trucks hauling out the rubble. There were photos and flowers and messages memorialising lost family and friends. The mood around Ground Zero was quiet, somber, serious, respectful.
When I returned this year, things were different. The Freedom Tower's skeleton was 70 or 80 stories high. Cranes bearing American flags dotted the skyline. The mood was hopeful, active, forward-thinking. People of all races, ages and walks of life mingles together observing the progress. There are a few photos and some more info in a blog post I wrote when we released the song: http://cancerkillinggemini.blogspot.com/2011/08/world-trade-writing-music-about-911-ten.html
Phill – How do you think this affected the people of New York in the aftermath and up until now?
Eric – The New Yorkers I know all had a strong, even severe emotional reaction to 9/11. Sadness, fear, guilt, anger; Two friends of mine very easily could have been working that day at WTC but by chance were not. I'd say NYC is doing an admirable job of healing, and I think the completion of the construction will be a very emotional time for the city and the country.
Phill – In your eyes what effect on the world do you think 9/11 has had?
Eric – Beyond the loss of life, I think the biggest impact is the setback in relations between the West and the Middle East.
Phill – What effect has 9/11 had on your life?
Eric – It has solidified my beliefs that violence seldom solves anything. Some people say “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Ghandi says “an eye for an eye only makes the world blind”. That resonates with me.
Phill – Why release your songs free of charge?
Eric – We record and release one song a month, every month forever. The most recent two are free. Then the songs go into back catalogue and you can pay for them. Fans of CKG who stay in contact (mailing list or facebook) get all our new music for free forever if they stay in contact. If you join up now there's about an album and a half of back catalogue available. I you like the free songs every month, our hope is that you'll fill in your collection by buying the older tracks. Also, it's a lot of fun recording one song every month. You can hear the progression of the band in real time. If we saved the songs until we had enough for an album, I don't think they'd sound the way they do.
Phill – So tell me a little more about Cancer Killing Gemini, where did you all meet?
Eric – I found Frank (drums) through a classified ad. He had moved to Boston just a few weeks before. His talent was immediately obvious. I met another ten or fifteen musicians through ads. They varied from adequate to terrible. Andrew (bass) played in a band called the Bentmen a few years earlier. I recorded a few albums for them. I always enjoyed Andrew's attitude and playing style. Max (keys) was recommended by another keyboard friend of mine who was unavailable for the gig. He may be one of the best all-around musicians I have ever met. Chuck (guitar) was recommended by the first guitar player we rehearsed with who had to bow out for family reasons. Chuck (who is also a recording engineer) has been a great asset as a player and engineer, but also as someone who keeps an eye on the big picture. Our personalities are similar enough that we easily see eye to eye on many things, but different enough where Chuck will catch things I might miss and vice versa. All in all, it's a great group.
Phill – What is the inspiration behind the name Cancer Killing Gemini?
Eric – There are a bunch of interpretations, but the one that holds the most weight is that I was convinced for most of my life that I'd never quit smoking cigarettes, and that lung cancer would kill me. My zodiac sign is Gemini.
Phill – What are your musical inspirations?
Eric – I'm not sure if this is the way you mean for me to answer the question, but I aspire to pull people out of their comfort zones, to distort their mainstream. That manifests mostly in the lyrics, with songs about cults, prescription drugs, eating disorders, 9/11, atheism, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, taxidermy, etc etc. Also, while still forming the band, I was able to make a video with a well-known dominatrix named Julie Simone. The video (for “Should I Tell You That You're Pretty”) is up on You Tube and at http://www.cancerkillinggemini.com.
Phill – What are your aspirations for Cancer Killing Gemini?
Eric – I'd like to get to the point were we can make a living wage from music. Also, I'd like to continue to expand the subject matter of the songs. What topics would take you out of your comfort zone? I'd like to make you uncomfortable.
Phill – Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Eric – I want to be on a regional tour circuit with some targeted shows farther away. I've never been to England or Europe. It would be amazing to get there with music.
Phill – If you had to sum up the music of Gemini Killing Cancer in 3 words what would they be?
Eric – “Genre-bending liberal aggression”.
Phill – If you could play any venue in the world where would you like to play and who would you like to be on the bill with you?
Eric – I'd like to play in space with The Jesus Lizard, The Pixies and Fiona Apple.
Phill – Of all the songs in your back catalogue which one holds the most significance for you and why?
Eric – That's a tough one. I think my favorite right now is “Vaseline For The Vomit Queen” which is relatively new. I just love the progression, the recording, the energy, the lyrics. “Christcontrol” and “Prescription Drugs” from the first album are close behind.
Phill – Ok a little fun now, desert island disks. Which 5 albums would you want to have on your solar powered mp3 player if you were stuck on a desert island?
Eric – The Pixies “Surfer Rosa”, Silversun Pickups “Carnavas”, Nirvana “Incesticide”, Portishead “Dummy”, something by the Black Eyed Peas. If you asked the rest of the band it might be Doctor John, Adele, Rush, Nancy Sinatra, Foo Fighters, Reign of Kindo, Black Keys, Mutemath or any number of other things.
Phill – What has been the funniest moment of being with Cancer Killing Gemini?
Eric – I wish the jokes would translate to text, but they don't. We have a great time together and the humour usually finds its way onto the stage. We just filmed a live performance for a local cable access show. Afterwards, we decided Frank (drums) would be the only one to talk during the interview. It was very difficult to stay quiet and the interview was incredibly awkward and therefore wonderful.
Phill – Thank you so much for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Eric – I just want to thank you and GC for your continued support. Also thanks for talking about 9/11 – not an easy topic but an important one. “World Trade” will be a free download forever from our website http://www.cancerkillinggemini.com.
Thanks so much, good luck for the future
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