Interviewer – Phill Bruce
Interview Date 6th October 2011
The early eighties brought about the birth of the Goth culture and music. It was bands like The Sisters of Mercy, The March Violets, The Mission the carved the way and giving Goth it’s life. I heard a band called Angels of Liberty I was taken back to the heyday of the eighties. I was really surprised to find that they had only formed in 2011. Angels Of Liberty ooze goth in everything they do not only the music, when I asked if I could review the Monster In Me EP I expected to get the usual download link to the music but I was asked for my address as they prefer to send a cd to which I happily gave Voe. What I received was to say the least the nicest most well thought over press pack I have ever seen. Everything had the touch of the band and was traditional, it had a personal Goth touch and I was very impressed. So when I got chance to interview Angels of Liberty I jumped at the chance and here’s how it went.
Phill – Hello Voe, thanks for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview. Can we start by you telling us where in this beautiful world you are from and a tiny little bit of background about you?
Voe – I’m a southerner living in the North East of England.
Scarlet - I’m a Northerner Living in the North East of England.
Phill – So how did Angels of Liberty form?
Voe – Both Myself and Scarlet met at Whitby Abbey. We were the only Goths there at the time. There was a big mutual attraction. I was working on some music and Scarlet got involved and persuaded me to do vocals which I’d never done before and was reluctant to do at first having never tried. I’d been involved in music working in recording studios for years mostly helping bands demo up and get deals and also doing stuff for TV. I wrote a sports theme that went out worldwide, most of it wasn’t really to my liking as Goth was like my first girlfriend. Around the end of 2010 I had some spare time and was thinking about how there was this goth-drum machine sound that just isn’t being done anymore. Back in 2000 I was working with a band who were demoing up and through that I got to work with Dave Allen who did the Sisters first album. I learnt a fair bit being around him and I just thought if no one else is doing what I’d like to hear why not give it a go myself so I started building the drum machine and some of the sounds we now use. It all started there really.
Phill – Who does what in Angels of Liberty?
Voe – I do all of the initial song writing and arrangements. We then collaborate in the recording process. There’s only the two of us so after the song and structure is in place we both add ideas at the recording stage. Then I produce the final mixes. We get a traditional sound but we use unorthodox methods using synths. So we both use synths and I do the vocals scarlet does the backing vocals.
Phill – Why did you decide to start a traditional Goth band?
Voe – I had become a complete recluse as the scene changed. I missed the old scene with drum machines, dry ice and the beautiful people and tense dramatic atmosphere. I felt that the fashion end of the scene had continued while the heart and soul had been long forgotten together with the camaraderie and friendliness. However we didn’t feel anyone was interested in traditional Goth at the time and we initially started to make music mostly for our own pleasure. There wasn’t really a plan other than to amuse ourselves, it just sort of happened. Once we realised there are lots of stray souls out there wanting Goth with a Capital G we thought we’d stoke the fires up a bit for them. From a personal point of view I know that Goths because of their loyalty to the genre don’t have easy lives. If you keep up the look it makes simple everyday things a struggle and I don’t believe you should have to change to fit in with the bland majority. It’s really important that there be a scene in the future for all the kids coming up so they can have places to go where they can express themselves and enjoy the same artistic and creative freedoms my generation had.
Phill – It’s a breath of fresh air to see a truly Goth band, how are you staying traditional in a very digital world?
Voe – By concentrating on real world things you can hold in your hand like cds and books you can hold in your hands. I don’t see why good things need be lost in a digital world. I think it’s mostly laziness and I’d rather work harder, earn less to bring something into the world that a few people will get pleasure from and have something to be proud of myself.
Scarlet - Both of us are really old fashioned for our age but we see that as a plus. The digital world can have pluses but on the whole it could wind up being a disaster. When the whole world buys their books electronically for their tindle then you’ve got a situation where you don’t need stormtroopers burning books. Our whole history can be wiped out by one virus. Some are ridiculously empathic and like to hold real world things and feel the energy and work that goes into things. We both wanted to do things for those people on that end of the spectrum.
Phill – Why did you decide to call yourselves Angels of Liberty?
Voe – A couple of reasons. It’s a play on a paradox as angels don’t have freedom or liberty so can’t bring freedom to others only fallen angels have that freedom so it’s suggestive of what an angel of liberty may be. It’s partly a reference to Prometheus while also pretty much declaring openly my philosophy as a libertarian in a world which is increasingly tightening up the thumbscrews on freedom.
Phill – How did you give life to the Monster In Me EP and have you come across any problems getting you music to the masses, if so how have you overcome these problems?
Voe – All of the writing and production was done right here in my attic which is a perfect setting for the work. Unlike most bands we aren’t interested in getting music to the masses. We believe that to get music to the masses that music must be watered down to suit the tastes of the masses and that’s not something we ever intended on. We also believe that the right people will find it. The plan we have now is to give the real fans of Goth something real to hold in their hands and to listen to and enjoy, the emphasis being on non-digital. We make music for them, they get it wear as people who download it illegally may enjoy it but they don’t really get it. So far slowly the songs seem to be breaking down the barriers for us, even illegal downloads have helped in that way too so we’ve not really had any problems.
Scarlet - From the start Voe said that if it went beyond being a cult thing he'd sabotage it. Neither of us is particularly interested in playing to other than the right people. The band motto is 'If you’ve done fuck all for Goth, then well do fuck all for you'. We carry that forward as a banner with everything we do. We don’t want to be accepted by other scenes or genres we are happy with our own and want only to strengthen genre that to the point where Goths can have something of their own again. The scene will die without new releases as you can’t rely on playing Goth classics every night so we intend on writing as much as we can and getting it out directly to Djs and clubs, for that reason the live aspect of things has taken 2nd place so far.
Phill – You have managed to rekindle the essence of Goth, how do you feel the alternative scene has changed since the birth of Goth?
Voe – I’m probably not the best person to ask now being reclusive. It has changed and I remember the point at which it changed where the 2nd gen scene hitched with other related genres to keep Goth afloat. There was a desire to keep things alive via exploring new influences mostly electronic at the time. It was right for the time and noble in intention. Mixing Goth with the S&M scene and electro was exciting but musically a rot has set in with music being essentially dance/rave music with dark undertones and has little to do with the original spirit which had its roots in punk and rock. There seems to be a real positivity and camaraderie again with the traditional Goths which I totally support and that’s good because I’d like to see a return to days where Goths can have their own scene again without having to have a Goth hour in the middle of an indoor rave. It’s not about living in the past but bringing the best of the past back via modern tech. We too use 100% electronica there are only synths and drum machines, but we don’t believe that you should be lazy with it. We believe that you can make sythns rock and machines don’t have to sound like offspring of acid house forever and ever into a bleak eternity of soulless rave music.
Phill – What are your musical influences?
Voe – Far too many to list all but the main influences on Angels of Liberty have been the bands I loved and followed in the 90s and the classic bands of the 80s. The Sisters of Mercy, Nosferatu, Bauhaus, Christian Death, Witching Hour, Suspiria.
Phill – What are your hopes for the future?
Voe – Just for us to keep writing songs that people enjoy and be able to keep giving them something they enjoy. That’s not to sound altruistic. The personal pleasure that comes from knowing people enjoy your music and its being played and enjoyed by the right people is immense and worth more than anything. I’d also like to flood the club scene with as many new tunes as possible because new records are the life blood of the scene.
Scarlet - To loose ourselves in the dry ice and find ourselves again and again and again in an eternal return.
Phill – You plan to release your first album around Christmas, what sort of thing can we expect to hear on it?
Voe – Creepy old skool Goth Rock updated for 2011 with no crappy fillers.
Phill – Have you toured at all and where in this world would you like to play?
Voe – At the moment we are still writing and recording and giving that our full attention and focus until Xmas and getting tracks into radio and clubs. Next year we will be doing some UK dates but they’ve got to be confirmed yet. I’d love to play Greece Portugal and Spain because we’ve got lots of support out there and many friends. The States would be amazing but it’s far too big to consider yet.
Phill – What is the best part of being in Angels of Liberty?
Voe – I’ll tell you the two best and one worst if you like? The best thing is knowing that I’m in the right place at the right time and finally doing what I dreamed of doing many years ago and the incredible feeling that everything that seemed so unconnected is all converging, conspiring to make this happen as a project. The second thing is that if people actually like what you do, you get to meet lots of new interesting people and you can make them happy by just writing a song or two. The worst is I don’t have as much time to enjoy sleeping as much as I used to.
Phill – How would you choose to describe the music you play?
Voe – Creepy intense dramatic Goth Rock with the spirit of the old school updated for a new generation with the fattest drum machine on the planet and darth vader on vocals. I’d also say its Goth capital G without us using that an excuse for a lack of catchy hooks, 80s Goth was catchy and good for the dance floor and we like that.
Phill – Is there any band at the moment that catches your ear?
Voe – There’s lots, I listen to so much music it would be impossible to list! First on my list...Marc McCourt he’s the one to watch right now, the Snakedance stuff is amazing. I really like the Greek bands at the moment The Merciful Nuns and Opened Paradise, In the UK there’s Pretentious Moi, Grooving in Green and Terminal Gods. I saw Rhombus live in the summer and they were really good. The most listened to CD I have right now is "lightbringer" by Whispers in the shadows. What I’m really waiting for right now is the new Witching Hour album. Return to Kafji is returning soon and I wish Suspiria would reform.........
Phill – Ok let’s have a little bit of fun now, the old desert island thing. What movie, book and album could you not be without?
Voe – The movie for me would have to be a Box Set Of the series Medium as both of us are hooked on it and it would have to keep us entertained for a while just in case rescue wasn’t too soon. The book would probably be Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice or a survival book just in case and the album would be cirtain: Nosferatu Rise because I never get bored of it.
Phill – If you made an Angels of Liberty cocktail what would it be called, what ingredients would be in it and how would you describe it?
Voe – Shapeshift. Red wine, Bourbon, Coke, Hawaiian baby woodrose and a few drops of Type O Negative.
Phill – If you could live in any period in history when would you choose and why would you want to live at that time?
Voe – It would probably be the French revolution but saying that right now is really interesting and what happened in France then could happen worldwide in 2012 with the banking elites losing their heads. I’m looking forward to predators becoming prey. I guess though I’d really like to head back to 1947 check out the Roswell crash, then enjoy rock n roll in the 50s, and have a drink with my granddad as a young man.
Phill – If you could summarise Goth as a cartoon character which character would you choose?
Voe – Someone said I sing like skelletor from he-man the other day, that gave me chuckle so I’ll say him, I suppose he’s deathly while his evil is a bit camp and harmless.
Phill – First thing I do in a morning is grab for the kettle so I can make a brew to start the day with, what’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Voe – Oooh er! That made me chuckle. The first thing I’d think about grabbing wouldn’t be the kettle but Scarlet told me not to be rude and make any penis jokes....ooops. It’s usually an inhaler so I can stop rasping like Darth vader.
Phill – Thanks so much for giving Grave Concerns this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Voe – Long Live Goth Rock!
Thanks again, good luck with the release of the EP and album soon. Keep the darkness coming you are doing a marvellous job.
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