Interview: Lucretia’s Daggers
Interviewer: Phill Bruce
It was with great pleasure when I was approached by Lucretia’s Daggers asking if I would like an interview. I happily agreed to do this. They have been on the alternative scene now for nearly 10 years and have done some quite amazing songs. So this is what happened when I caught up with Lucretia X. Machina herself.
Phill – Can you tell us a little bit of a background about yourself and where in this beautiful world you are from?
Lucretia – A career environmentalist with a BA in English from Simmons College, I grew up in Waltham, MA and currently reside next door in Watertown. An author of poems since elementary school (with much better ones in college, some of which ended up on LD's first album, (Sad Flower Songs), I was always in the chorus at school and performed my original works a capella for years at Boston-area coffeehouses before entertaining the idea of forming a rock band.
Phill – Career environmentalist, so what does this involve?
Lucretia – Well, when I'm employed, I'm an Administrative/Executive Assistant/Project & Program Manager for clean energy and other environmental companies/nonprofits. The rest of the time I'm volunteering on my local energy efficiency & environment committee (which I co-founded) producing residential enviro. information events, etc.
Phill – So were you in any other bands before Lucretia’s Daggers?
Lucretia – Nope. I was always in the chorus in school, which is where I learned how to sing. This is my first and only band. I can't be in any others' bands because the purpose of my band is to vent, and I do all the writing. I don't think another band would appreciate me taking over!
Phill – Do you feel that performing a capella gave you the basis to build on your vocals for eventually forming Lucretia’s Daggers?
Lucretia – I suppose it did, though more for my writing than my vocals. To this day, I bring my lyrics to my band with the melody already in mind, sing it to them, and they take it from there, filling in the melody with their instrumentation. Since I can't play any instruments, they have a lot of free range for interpretation, though I will make suggestions based on how I hear a song in my head, or if I think the sound they produce isn't quite communicating the feeling of the song as I had intended.
Phill – At what point in your life did you decide to form your band and why?
Lucretia – August 2001, post-”divorce” from a bad long-term relationship, my therapist advised me to take a song-writing course at the Boston Center for Adult Education that I was considering. There I met guitarist Andy Berlet, with whom I was paired to turn an otherwise tuneless poem (“Scapegoat”) into a dark lyrical song, a la Nine Inch Nails. We were both impressed with the outcome and decided to continue working together: my lyrics and melodies; his guitar playing, and showcased the “band” at my annual music/art house parties to positive response.
Phill – So what is the meaning behind your name Lucretia’s Daggers?
Lucretia – This is the most convoluted question and answer. It was a confluence of events over time that lead to both my, and then the band's, name, and yet it just came out as “Lucretia's Daggers” without any thought as if on cue. ;)
The “short” answer: my lyrics are confessional and were originally meant to express and release my darkest emotions: sadness, anger, depression. I sought a female icon to serve as a reflection of woman as both victim and victimizer of those emotions. The ancient Lucretia of 500 BCE became my model for the victim (raped by a “nobleman”—see Livy, Shakespeare's “The Rape of Lucrece”) who then killed herself—by knife or dagger—to cleanse herself and family of the dishonor; the infamous Lucretia Borgia, purported poisoner of suitors, served as victimizer (after some research, I discovered that she was nothing of the sort, but also a victim, framed by her family). As for the “daggers”, they are metaphorical for the words and thoughts we internalize to hurt ourselves with, as well as those we externalize toward others in the expression of that darkness.
Meanwhile, back in the real world: I used to produce mega art/music/dance house parties. At one, for Halloween, I wore a black & white dress and a poison ring my mother gave me (why she had such a ring and gave it to me remains a mystery). I was supposed to be Wednesday Addams, but someone declared me “Lucretia” (i.e., Borgia) so I adopted that as an acceptable goth/Pagan name, why not? When Andy and I began playing these parties, we had no name, so in a pinch I declared us “Lucretia's Daggers”. (I contemplated “Lucretia and the Daggers” to sound phallic in advance of acquiring more male musicians in the band, but thought better of it....)
Years later, at my retail job (the one that inspired “The Horrors of Retail”) the store acquired thousands of little daggers meant for a game, yet we were not to sell “war toys,” so I took them home and attached them to LD's five-song demo (no longer in print) and gave them out at shows. They are now jewelry—necklaces and earrings—for the band, fashioned by Purple Dream Arts/Lara Gassel. Check them out!
Phill – Have past experiences in life given way to inspiration to your lyrics?
Lucretia – Absolutely. As already explained, they are the reason for what I write, the raison d'etre for the band. Writing and performing are my form of therapy, continuing on the experiences I got out of working with an unconventional therapist!
Phill – Who besides yourself is in the band and what background are they from?
Lucretia – As can be expected from a project spanning almost 10 years, many LD members have come and gone, but our current lineup is the best sounding with the most valuable skillset:
Otto von Kinzel: guitarist, programmer, sometime backup vocalist/bassist, social media aficionado – Manchester, NH. See more at www.OttoKinzel.com.
Phill – Have the lineup changes affected your music at all?
Lucretia – Yes. It started out somewhat Indian influenced, then reggae influenced, to heavily synth program-based, to psychedelic metal, and now more metal, rock, and synth combined. This is the best sound for us overall, more dance-able and accessible while maintaining some of its arty, quirkiness.
Phill – What are your musical influences?
Lucretia's: Laurie Anderson, FIONA APPLE, Alice in Chains, The B-52's, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, THE DRESDEN DOLLS, Einsturzende Neubauten, MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE, Ministry, Peter Murphy, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, NINE INCH NAILS, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shriekback, THE SISTERS OF MERCY, The The, Throwing Muses, U2, XTC, Yes, disco, new wave, dark wave, gothic rock, rock, industrial, ethereal.
Otto von Kinzel's: KMFDM, Ministry, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Rush, The Mars-Volta, Mike Patton, John Zorn
Faust's: Kiss, Cheap Trick, Led Zep, AC/DC, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Ziggy Stardust, Motley Crue, The Damned, The Exploited, Circle Jerks, the Ramones, Pearl Jam, The Foo Fighters, Mastadon, Kid Rock, Gene Krupa, Louis Prima, Dave Weckl, Jimmy Vincent, Gary Allen
Phill – Where do you see your band in five years and what are your hopes for the future?
Lucretia – Now almost at it's 10th year anniversary (August 2011), Boston's dark lyrical electro-rock band Lucretia's Daggers is a tight, energetic threesome (vox, guitar, live digital drums). Adding power, dynamics, synth, backing vocals and a more dancey feel to LD's tracks from our first full-length album, Sad Flower Songs, is new guitarist, Otto von Kinzel.
With the addition and experience of von Kinzel, LD is now positioned to play festivals and clubs beyond Boston and will be releasing a two-disc album revising SFS, including new songs, plus a DVD package with live performances and LD's first music video, "The Horrors of Retail," which is out on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a2-7vW8HkU.
Phill – Have you had any major stumbling blocks getting your music to the masses?
Lucretia – Who doesn't? Being pigeon-holed as a “goth” band early on because that is the community in which I am most comfortable has been somewhat limiting, especially while our musical style has changed so much from the early days that the moniker “dark lyrical electro-rock” is more appropriate. Whether for lack of networking skills or ignorance about the market, I think we have yet to find our full audience. We don't do this for a living, but to fully live. It's a learning process. Maybe LD's market is really in Europe and we just haven't put our music on the right site yet. Maybe this review will put us over the top!? Who knows. With this current lineup, I think we are just starting to hit our stride. Thankfully, we have a most tech- and social media savvy member in Otto von Kinzel to reach people in new ways, and I'm starting to use these outlets more myself with greater success. Plus, this lineup is the most open to doing some light travel and playing unique venues beyond our usual ones. Case in point: we played Scorch's PFG-TV Channel 62 in Boston just last night (Fri. June 24)!
Phill – So what can we expect to hear from your two-disc album, will there be any interesting twists on previous Lucretia’s Daggers song?
Lucretia – Faust has revitalized “Souler Coaster” and other songs, making them better than the original. Otto has had suggestions to switch up Faust's drums, too, for more dynamic beats such as in “Drawn & Quartered” and produced very interesting ideas for re-recording (he's doing all of it for our new double-disc). He's adding backing vox and synth/keys via Toontrack Drumkit From Hell & Yamaha RM1X--AND providing bass lines since we have no bassist at this time. His latest endeavor is a slower, darker ACOUSTIC version of “Dust”. I can't wait to hear the piano lines he's got for this one!
Phill – Is there any place or venue you would like to play at and why?
Lucretia – LD seeks more national and international acts to play with at bigger-named clubs in New England and NYC such as Brighton Music Hall, Johnny D's, Paradise Rock Club, and the House of Blues Front Room; festivals/events like ArtBeat, Boston Green Fest, Kahbang, North by Northeast, and Arisia; as well as more art spaces such as Club Oberon, Firehouse13 Gallery, Red Room/Cafe 939, Mobius, Arts at the Armory and the Somerville Theatre; and the college/university circuit. Look for our pre-release and 10th Anniversary shows in Boston, MA, Manchester, NH, and Providence, RI this Summer/Fall.
Phill – Do you intend to take Lucretia’s Daggers out of America? If so what countries would you like to play and how do you expect to promote your music overseas?
Lucretia – Damn, that would be nice, but funds and other commitments preclude that for now. At minimum, we have a contact in Quebec, CAN who would love to have us play in her store. She bought a stack of CDs from me to resell on faith and says the music scene up there is much more open and supportive, especially of our brand of music. Here's hoping it happens someday!
Phill – Without giving too much away is there any instrument or program you wouldn’t be without and why?
Phill – So do you feel this is the strongest line up Lucretia’s Daggers have ever had?
Lucretia – Yes.
Phill – So is there any instrument you yourself would like to play Lucretia?
Lucretia – No. I tried learning keys, was sorta good at it, but sold that keyboard and don't remember a thing I learned. I'm too klutzy on stage anyway. I hold my mic in my hand during performances and use the stand as a coat rack for my hat and jacket when I change out of them for certain songs!
Phill – Is there any artist or band in the current alternative scene that you admire?
Lucretia – Yes.
Local: Johnny Virum, Mortuus Ortus, Electric Mummy, Cancer Killing Gemini, Jaggery, Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer, TUNG, zeroNegative, Daniel Oullette and the Shobjin, AnarchAngel, What Time is it, Mr. Fox?, HUMANWINE, Sans Nomenclature, Amber Spyglass, Death of The Cool, Dreamchild.
Non-local: Bella Morte, Ludivico Technique, Thou Shalt Not, KMFDM/Slick Idiot, Android Lust, Mankind is Obsolete, any industrial, synth, arty, punk, rock, metal bands (in that order), any Projekt Records/Metropolis label bands.
Phill – You can have a holiday anywhere, where would you like to go and what would you do while you were there?
Lucretia – I like tropical weather, so Brazil, since I've already been to Belize. I like eco-tours, so I'd check out the flora and fauna—and just be on the beach, but I get bored just sitting around. Clubbing! I'd like to return to NYC, but more to play than just visit.
Phill – What’s your favourite TV series?
Lucretia – the most recent is HOUSE!! It's not as cool as it was a season or so ago when he checked into the mental institution, but I love Hugh Laurie!
Phill – Are you a tea or coffee drinker?
Lucretia – Tea. Coffee goes right through me—gross! But I do like the flavors.
Phill – What’s your favourite mode of transport?
Lucretia – Public transportation. I don't drive. Yes, one of the few people on the planet who doesn't 1. drive and 2. drink coffee. Kids: It's okay to live LOW IMPACT. Cheaper too.
Phill – Who’s your favourite movie hero or villain?
Lucretia – Storm from the Xmen. I loved reading my brother's comics when I was younger. My favorite super power would be to fly, and she wears black and controls the weather, so that's cool. Second would be the Dazzler. She wore silver spandex and her powers were in her singing. But I always thought that was kind of a weird “power”....
Phill – Thank you so much for giving Grave Concerns this interview Lucretia, is there anything you would like to add?
Lucretia – This is the most exhaustive interview I've ever had (not that I've had many), so no. Other than thanks Phill and Grave Concerns. And everyone check out www.lucretiasdaggers.com for gigs and music!
Thanks again so much. Good luck on your forthcoming album and tour.
Dark dagger kisses to you & yours....
Photo of Lucretia by Christopher Williams of Mental Aperture
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