Aug 312016
 

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Foxblood is: Chris Millward, Tom Beale, Aaron Beale, Stephen Powell, and Brett Powell.  Photo credit: unknowm.

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Foxblood is a metal band exploding with cinematic instrumentals, anthemic gang-chants, and soaring choruses. They have recently released two singles off their forth-coming album, and I’m stoked. I want everyone else to be stoked, too. Get stoked with me.

I first heard of this band in their previous incarnation, Glorified, because Chris used to work in the same department as me…just a million miles away in our Melbourne office! When I found out secondhand that he was in a band and proceeded to listen to everything I could find of theirs on YouTube, I was hooked. Not only was this my style of music, but it was fucking legit. So I sent him a fangirly email and have followed this band ever since, from Glorifed to Foxblood.

Brutally heavy breakdowns wrapped with brooding melodies and pulled tight and taut with a black bow of macabre lyricism (“Because love is the violence inside us all” resonates),  Foxblood is a hardcore present for your ears. It doesn’t matter what sorts of grandiose adjectives I string together, all you need to know  is that this band slays, and no matter what genre you want to cage them into, they’re going to blow the top right off of it.

There’s currently an Australian invasion happening Stateside, what with bands like Parkway Drive, Tonight Alive, and Hands Like Houses shaking things up and selling out shows, and I have my fingers crossed that Foxblood will soon be added to that list.

Chris was kind enough to take some time out and answer a few questions about the band, so please read up and get to know your new favorite band from Down Under!


1. On paper, it’s easy to say that Foxblood is just Glorified with a new name, but there’s no denying as a listener that this is an entirely new band, aesthetically and sound-wise. How did Foxblood come to be? 

It was born out of the notion that Glorified as an entity had run its course, as all things do. We ended up with a record that was unprecedented for all of us and we all felt as though Glorified would not do it justice under that particular moniker. It was also a writing process that I was involved in from the very start (coming into Glorified I replaced an old vocalist and I think that some of my creative influence took them in a different direction that what was expected). So I suppose it was a chance for all of us to put out a record as a blank slate, and Foxblood was able to be anything that we wanted, rather than pushing the whole “new sound” idea for Glorified, which by that point had been taken as far as we could, so here we are.

2. Splitting your time between the corporate world and the music industry has a very Clark Kent/Superman vibe to it. I just tried to imagine someone, anyone from our Pittsburgh office moonlighting in a metal band, and failed miserably! How do you describe your band to your co-workers?

We all work full-time in various professions, and it’s something I suppose we keep fairly separate in our respective lives because we all have careers outside of this project. I know that the pipedream is hoping your band makes it so that you never have to work a day again, but we are most certainly realists in that sense. Our jobs fund a polished product, and it’s something we are happy to do because there is genuine pride in what we’re doing as a musical entity. So as far as describing it goes – I usually just drop the word “rock” in there somewhere and tell them that if they look hard enough in the dark corners of YouTube they can see what makes me tick beyond the office. So unfortunately it’s quite a mundane superhero paradigm, but it keeps the gears turning somewhat.

3. What are the essentials you guys keep in your van/bus while touring? Would we find any Vegemite up in there? (SORRY, I HAD TO ASK!)

I’ll say on the record right now that every day I will eat a toasted cheese and Vegemite sandwich and have done so since I was very young, so if the shoe fits I figure that at least I can substantiate that stereotype just a little. In our van though? Usually we end up with a rising tide of empty water bottles because we buy them for no real reason at every stop, there’s usually beers on the go for the passengers so you’d see them a lot, and I carry a pharmacy with me full of stuff to fix any ailment from a headache through to explosive intestinal distress, so it’s quite a mixed bag really.

4. The masquerade girl and Devil appear in both of the videos that Foxblood has recently released, and it’s little details like this that set you apart artistically from many other bands. Was this something that you guys already had in mind while writing this record or did it just come together organically during the video process? Will we see them again in future videos?

I am all about the little details. And I think a goal for me at least was to create something that a listener could get a lot more out of than just listening to the song and watching the video. I think it’s important for there to be many layers to what you do creativity, and I think that someone can get as much or as little out of Foxblood’s narrative/music that they want. There is a lot going on in both the videos that you’d likely overlook on a first listen through, and I guess I’d encourage people who enjoy the music to look deeper into the way the videos are put together, it is all very deliberate and there is meaning in everything you hear and see.

5. What were some bands you listened to as a kid that helped shape you into the vocalist that you are today?

Everyone starts out by copying their favourite vocalists, as much as they’d not like to admit. For me I started when I was 15 because some guys I worked with were into metal and I’d just bought Tony Hawk’s Underground which had a great punk/metal soundtrack. So the first bands that pushed me down this road were Rise Against and Alkaline Trio, but I think I started out on “Let It Unfold You” by Senses Fail, where their singer has this disgustingly raw tone to his voice and so I just emulated that really, I never learnt any real proper technique, which kind of shows now that Foxblood has gone away from having certain sounding vocals at part x and y and just kind of tells a story and however it sounds is the way it comes out. So it was basically my inability to grasp the techniques that most vocalists use that paved the way to kind of experiment with my natural voice a little more to see what it could do.

6. Australia has been exporting some sick talent lately, particularly the type that hits that Warped Tour-scene sweet spot. What are some lesser-known local bands that us Americans should be adding to our play lists?

We’ve got it pretty good over here I won’t lie, but in truth I don’t actually listen to a whole lot of similar- genre (what you’d call “heavy” I suppose) bands (probably just me showing my age really). However, that said, I have been lucky enough to meet some incredibly talented and charismatic people though the course of being involved in music. Bands like Polaris, who have really exploded over here now (and rightfully so), as well as Young Lions (though neither of them are particularly “local”). In a way it’s a pity that they’ve all come so far, even our friends in Make Them Suffer and other bands in that tier now, it’s hard to call them ‘local’, but it is nice to see the rest of the world taking notice of these musicians, and it’s always good to see your friends succeeding on the world stage.

7. There’s something beautiful and haunting about heavy bands collaborating with female singers, a la Bring Me the Horizon and Lights. If Foxblood could work with any female vocalist, from any scene, who would be on your short list?

While I cannot speak on behalf of the others, a personal favourite of mine is Lauren Mayberry from Chvrches. Something I like doing is throwing curveballs to a listener, and so I think I’d someday like to work with a female vocalist in writing a duet, rather than a section of a song, so that they themselves contribute to the writing process, which I think would draw out the best from both parties. I think the concept of a guest-vocalist is trivialised somewhat in the sense that a section of a song is left blank and then filled in by the feature artist, which to me doesn’t do a lot of justice to collaborative potential and also the talents of the guest and the band themselves in having another layer to the piece. So to fully utilise that and come up with something special is most certainly something I’d like to do.

8. Now I’m officially crossing my fingers for a Foxblood/Lauren Mayberry collab! But now for the most important question of this whole damn thing: when can we expect the new album (and hopefully a US tour)?

I’m not 100% on what I can and can’t say here really, but there is a full-length record that has been a product of many years of our lives that will be coming out in the coming months, an exact date however I’m not sure. It’s called “The Devil, The Dark, and The Rain”, and yes, it directly relates to the characters in the video and the storylines that play out, both told and untold. It is all connected, all relative, and something we are very excited for people to hear and immerse themselves in. It is not far away. That I can promise. As far as touring goes, I think it’s just been jumping the mental hurdle of finally getting this record out, and what happens beyond that point I think is up to the listener. If travel and touring becomes a part of this, then I am sure we will be elated. At the moment, for me anyway, I’m just relieved to finally have music out there.

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Please, please, please give this band some of your time today. If you want to join me on Foxblood Album Release Watch, like them on Facebook for updates! To tide you over, their new single No Heroes is available for purchase on iTunes. If you need me, I’ll just be over here studying their music videos for more clues.

Jul 162013
 

Weird Al’s version of “Born This Way” plays from an iPod attached to his chest—right next to a fish-shaped necktie—as Royce Cobblepot shuffles and flaps around the lobby of the Westin Hotel. It’s probably as close to dancing as one can achieve while having their hands and feet covered with plush flippers. “I just love Weird Al!” he shouts through a prosthetic snout.

Royce is the popular walrus attendee of Anthrocon, a furry convention held annually in Pittsburgh. In case you recently moved back to civilization from a secluded mountain cult, “furry” is, in the simplest sense, the pet name for a person who has an interest in anthropomorphic animals, which may also culminate in dressing up as a mascot-type animal.

Furries are also sometimes misunderstood, and, being a devoted fan of the (upcoming pun in 3…2…1) underdog, I wanted to spend some time getting to know one, and Royce was kind enough to oblige.

20130715-063927.jpgI didn’t register for the convention, so I couldn’t get all of the way inside to check out the panels and members-only events, but Royce was given the go-ahead to answer some of my questions in an effort to shed some positive light on this social subset that most people seem to think is synonymous with sex, like furrydom is the seedy underbelly of the cartoon porn industry; this is all thanks to media outlets like Vanity Fair portraying them on the whole as sex-obsessed. To be quite honest, I had never heard of the furry phenomenon until one fateful day in 2004 when I posted a picture of the Froggy radio station mascot and myself on my LiveJournal and jokingly wondered if there was such a thing as “mascot porn.” Someone commented and said, “Yeah, it’s called ‘being a furry.'” So this tête-à-tête with Royce Cobblepot was just as much to enlighten myself.

The fact is, there are always going to be people who can sexualize anything. It even happens with Harry Potter fandoms, yet people don’t automatically assume that someone who enjoys reading the Potter series must also be into writing fan fiction about Harry and Draco riding each other’s broomsticks during Nude Quidditch matches. And it’s OK to dress up as your favorite superhero and attend Comicon, but as soon as someone suits up as a purple fox and isn’t getting a paycheck for it from an amusement park or ballfield? Alert the sex police.

According to Wikipedia, the subculture is said to have originated at a science fiction convention, not the basement studio of some bored and desperate 1970s porn director looking for a new kink to sell some films. Growing up with a sci-fi novel obsession and love for cartoons with anthropomorphic characters are generally what seem to lure people into furry role-playing as adults. Royce himself credits cartoons and his love of stuffed animals as sparking his interest in anthropomorphism, but it wasn’t until he watched a documentary in 2004 on the The Learning Channel about the subject of animal impersonators that he decided to take his love of animals to the next level, thus seeking out a community where he could talk to other people who shared these interests.

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In a scene ranging from half-suits (people who choose to wear only ears and tails) to full-blown animal fursuits (foxes, cats, and bears being the most ubiquitous as far as I can tell), it’s rare to see something as unique as a walrus, which was one of the reasons Royce chose this animal as his animal persona, (or ‘fursona’, as they call it)”, after originally joining the furry community as a were-bear named Furio.

“Walruses are such wonderful creatures,” Royce explains proudly as we sit together on a bench in the lobby. “When we see them in movies, they’re always personified as older, dignified gentlemen.” In fact, he was inspired by Karl Malden’s portrayal of the Walrus in the 1985 version of “Alice in Wonderland,” which is my favorite Alice film, so my interest is really piqued at this point. Royce tells me that there is enough furry inspiration culled from Alice in Wonderland that at another furry convention, he headed an entire panel on the subject: Furries in Wonderland.

Another inspiration was Royce’s very own grandma, who has showered him with support. He was even given his grandfather’s cane to accessorize his costume. My grandma only ever supported my body image issues and wavering self-worth, so I’m impressed!

Royce’s walrus get-up was a labor of love, from the donation of the cane to his friends and neighbors assisting with fashioning flippers out of regular old bedroom slippers and oven mitts. Royce worked with a Canadian prosthetic company to create the mask, which fits the contour of his face and moves along with his jaw when he speaks. He only gets the opportunity to don it about four times a year, at various conventions and showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show in his hometown in Virginia. Royce typically only attends Anthrocon every other year in order to keep his character fresh and novel.

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Our conversation is interrupted frequently as interested and curious people (even other furries who are presently disrobed of their fursuits) stop to compliment Royce on his get-up and ask for a picture, but I don’t mind because I enjoy watching Royce in his element. I’m also not surprised at the attention he garners, because of the furries I’ve seen around town, Royce is the most unique and eye-catching.

“Thank you so much!” he gushes when I tell him this. “But at the same time, that actually makes me sad.” He explains that while the attention is nice, he doesn’t want anyone to think that he’s better than anyone else out there, because they all work so hard on their personas, even if they only have ears and a tail to show for it. Royce stresses the fact that every furry has something unique about them, and that there is certainly no hierarchy in their community. “We all know that there is still a person under there,” Royce explains, and I find it kind of alluring how much love and respect flows freely within this community. “Everyone here has something to offer: one person is an amazing puppeteer, another person is a veteran. Many people here are involved with wonderful charities. One guy can play the most beautiful music spontaneously, without knowing how to read music, it’s the most incredible thing!” he gushes. So it’s a good thing that Anthrocon has a talent show, in which Royce and some of his friends participate.

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Moments later, Royce blurts out, “Oh, wait until you see who’s coming—it’s my nemesis!” and together we watch the revolving door of the hotel as a slender fox in a tophat emerges. “Oh, he’s so dapper!” Royce gushes, and it’s clear that they’re not actually nemeses and that Royce has genuine admiration for the fox’s slick attire. It’s a shame that some people are too busy fixating on the negative aspects of furries instead of enjoying the artistry and ingenuity behind some of these costumes.

****

We’re walking down Liberty Avenue to visit Fernando’s Café, the first furry-friendly establishment in Pittsburgh. Four days a year, you’ll find chalk paw prints leading up to the front door, furry-centric items on the menu, and food served in dog bowls. Their name even temporarily changes to Furnando’s. But that’s not what makes the owner a legend in the Book of Furry: During Anthrocon 2007, Fernando himself stepped up and defended Anthrocon attendees in his restaurant from getting harassed by a local Pittsburgh meathead and wound up taking a brick to the head for it. The furries thanked Fernando later by raising over $20,000 to help him keep his restaurant when he was in danger of losing it. It’s a pretty sweet love story, if you ask me, and Royce wants to stop in to thank them again for their hospitality and support.

En route, we pass a bar on the corner of Liberty Avenue called Tonic, which offers outside seating in the warmer months. “Oh, these people just love us!” Royce says, brandishing a flippered hand toward the presently-empty line of tables. “People sit out there with their drinks and cheer at us and just have so much fun!” I’ve seen it too during the times I’ve hung out in front of the hotel to engage in one of the newer Pittsburgh sports called “Furry-Spotting.” It’s almost become somewhat of a game for downtown professionals to collect photos of themselves engulfed in furry embraces, which inevitably wind up on Facebook. But this is a good thing! Because if my city can (mostly) ignore the naysayers and have fun with it, then that has got to give the furries hope that they can win over others, slowly but surely.

20130715-063957.jpgJust outside of the cafe, we run into one of Royce’s best friends, Comus, who has experience in the animation industry. He is on his way to one of the many Anthrocon events taking place in the Convention Center, but is kind enough to stop and briefly chat with us. When I tell Comus that I’m not a furry, he hands me the schedule of activities to peruse, and I’m surprised at how much they jam into these four-day conventions—it’s almost like flipping through a small college course guide. There’s everything from financing (have you seen some of these furry get-ups? they’re not cheap) to Native American totems to puppetry skills. And yes, there is even a panel for all you bronies out there—adult men and women who love and relate to the cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic—which excites me because this is a whole other subculture that I find completely fascinating; I’m not shocked that there is a crossover between this phenomenon and furries.

I excitedly mention this to my fur-company, which leads into a brief discussion about the show’s cultural irony and clever adult-relatable storylines, so now I feel like I need to revisit My Little Pony. Because to me, these aren’t much more than plastic ponies I used to get in my Easter basket.

Inside Fernando’s, the walrus-sighting draws out employees from the kitchen. Everyone wants to either talk to Royce or take his picture, further exemplifying the appeal—to be just a regular person, working a regular job, but then have these moments every year when you’re such a hot commodity? I kind of want that. Especially when it quickly dawns on me that I am the only non-furry in this joint. The Fernando’s staff is actually looking at me strangely for not even at least sporting a tail and I have to laugh at the absurdity of the situation—and also marvel at the progression that my city has made in these last eight years of being Furry Headquarters.

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While furries are quick to dole out hugs, shrugs, and photo-ops, many choose not to interact verbally with their un-furred fans. Royce, however, gives his walrus a more approachable edge by speaking affably with anyone who stops him.

“I think it puts people at ease,” he explains, after thanking an admirer for his accolades. I think of horror movie icons like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, mute behind their masks and communicating only through head tilts, chainsaws and machetes, and I’m suddenly very thankful that my new walrus friend isn’t answering my questions with blank stares.

While Royce’s avuncular voice perfectly complements his tail and top hat, touching his whiskers gets you a boisterously anthropomorphic “aarf,” which is a real crowd-pleaser!

Outside of Fernando’s, we encounter a furry in her human form who, like everyone else, is anxious to get her minute with Royce. She is here from Canada, and the two of them seamlessly fall into a conversation entirely in French. Afterward, Royce says to me, “Yes, I speak French—a little, and not very well!” So humble and self-deprecating.

Another reason some people might be drawn to anthropomorphism is the power and confidence that comes from shielding your insecurities beneath a mask. “Sometimes,” Royce explains, “finding an animal persona can bring out things in a person that they didn’t know existed.” I mention Robert Smith, the singer of my favorite band The Cure, and how I once read that the reason he wears lipstick and eyeliner is because he’s so painfully shy, and makeup is enough of a mask for him to be able to walk out onto the stage and perform. Royce agrees that there’s a correlation there. “I’m definitely a shy person,” Royce says, and admits that becoming a walrus has had a positive impact on his human side.

Royce is eager to talk about the oft-overlooked aspects of the furry fandom, the most important point being how it’s all about making people happy. He tells me about how his favorite moment of this year’s convention happened just the night before, when he danced with a disabled woman in a wheelchair. Her husband was even inspired to join in.

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“How many people get to say they danced with a walrus?” Royce laughs, and I can see just enough of his eyes beneath the mask to tell that he’s tearing up a little at the idea of being able to leave some sort of imprint on someone’s life. That’s a pretty cool thing. And I think for a lot of Pittsburgh adults, it’s a chance for them to act like a kid again, running around on their lunch breaks, high-fiving neon bears and bunnies in bustiers. “I like the idea that I might be a special thing in someone’s life that they may never see again,” Royce muses. “At the end of the day, I’m tired and sweaty and my back hurts, but I’m laughing—I just love making people happy.”

When you break it down (and, if you’re a prude, ignore the “darker” side of the movement), furrydom doesn’t seem so “weird” or “creepy” after all. People dress up as zombies and gather in hordes because they like zombies. People volunteer at haunted houses because they like horror movies and scaring people. And no one says anything about them. And to all of the people out there who say things like, “I don’t want one of them hugging my child, knowing that they’re going to be having furry-sex”? Think about this: that broad who gave your kid a lollipop at the doctor’s office may have went home and banged her girlfriend later. Your kid’s third grade art teacher? She might have a closetful of whips and toys. Maybe your mailman goes to Revolutionary War Sex Parties. PEOPLE HAVE SEX. All kinds of it! Stop letting it affect you and go hug a fucking furry.

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[These views & opinions do not reflect the furry community as a whole and should be regarded only as one individual’s experience as a furry. Thank you, Royce Tuxford Cobblepot, for your graciousness and time!]

Mar 182011
 

If you find that you’re getting a little mucky trying to find the pearls hidden in the midst of stale throwaway tracks, then just keep sitting there because I’ve found some nacreous delights for you.

Captain Midnite’s debut EP “Purple Heart Vendetta” delivers five tracks akin to a stroll through Epcot: Diverse, memorable and most refreshingly foreign to anything you’re going to hear on your local alternative stations. Captain Midnite blends together a precise formula of hip hop and electro beats, post-hardcore stylings, a dash of Gothic-tinged vocal pandering that recall a neo-Voltaire in a less toe-tapping mood (“Coldly Tuned,” “Garnett”). Top it off with appropriately-timed screams packed with an aching ferocity that would make Vic Fuente’s (Pierce the Veil) heart swell with the pride of a pimp watching his prized whore give her first Congressional blowjob, and you have one aural recipe daring Warped Tour to take a swig.

Every last beat and dark lyric of revenge and tattered hearts come directly from the brain and fingertips of Joe Symanski, the crackerjack behind Captain Midnite’s sonic sundry. Joe was awesome and agreed to sit down and be interrogated by me. (I’m assuming he was sitting. He might have been squatting. I couldn’t see him all the way from Pittsburgh.)


1. In today’s scene, rarely do you run across a band labeling themselves as just “alternative” or “rock” or “metal.” People want the music they love to be stuffed into specific packaging and lately these gift boxes don’t seem complete unless they have the “-core” tag dangling from them as well; we’re seeing everything from metalcore to noodlecore to christcore. Each song on your EP varies so much, I imagine it must be near impossible to pigeon-hole yourself into one genre. How do you respond when asked to slap a label on your music?

I’m fine with whatever tag people want to throw on my music because it is all about how they want to interpret it. You’re right, the music I make ranges from Post-Hardcore to Hip-Hop to Alternative Rock to Pop to Electro. So people can make what they want of it, but I just throw together what sounds right to me at the time. It helps having been a beat maker for so long working with so many different styles. I am able to understand pretty much every genre out there and how that particular music works or doesn’t work. Having been featured in Alternative Press recently (AP) has been a blessing too because it has helped people that love that “style” of Purple Heart Vendetta start to follow my work.

2. How would your best friend describe you?

A relaxed person with a dark sense of humor and intelligent swagggggg ;)

3. You’ve performed with your other group The Let Go, but have you had the chance to take the stage as Captain Midnite? And since every instrument on the record is played by you, quite incredibly, do you perform (or plan to perform) as a solo artist or employ a band to take on the road with you?

I’ve performed a few times with my solo stuff and my favorite time was with my buddy Nima drumming. My plan is to continue to do the solo music but also start a full band on top of that. In my upcoming shows I’ll have a band with me playing guitar/drums/bass and I’ll be singing and playing keyboard and maybe some guitar.

4. More pressing than the chicken/egg question, what came first: making your own music or producing hip hop beats?

Making beats for hip-hop artists came first before anything. It was what I was feeling at the time when I was 16 and so I stuck with just that for a while and I’ve now found a kind of music I like to make on my own as well with me singing. I’ll continue to do my work with hip hop artists, and my group The Let Go, and continue to release music with Kyle Lucas as well. I don’t mind working between genres at all. It’s actually super fun. Kyle Lucas and my new hip-hop EP “The Sky Is Falling And I’m Fine” is almost finished up and I’m so pumped about it! I think it crazy how much better we have both gotten since “I Brought Dead Flowers to a FUNeral.” And I love our record “…Dead Flowers” so it’s a good feeling to feel like we outdid that one!

5. Best show you’ve ever attended, the sort that makes your heart seize up and gives you a major post-show hangover?

I went on a road-trip with my girlfriend about a year ago down to San Diego and we ended up catching back-to-back night Pierce The Veil shows in their hometown. One show was full electric, the other was all acoustic. I’d never seen anything like it. Seeing a band with that much passion, love for music and love for their fans in their hometown was absolutely incredible. I’ll never forget it. Plus Vic is one of the most phenomenal live vocalists out there, so it’s hard to lose with someone like that on your team!

6. What would you be doing if making music wasn’t an option?

I’d probably be either involved in film or graphic design. I’m just a very artsy person, but I like to think I am also very grounded. It’s important for artists to not forget about real life sometimes. Can’t always have your head in the clouds.

7. I feel that what a person listens to often says a lot about them, so I ask everyone from co-workers to hobos under the pier. Here is the obligatory “What are your favorite bands?” question.

Well, Pierce The Veil as I said before. And I love Thrice and Brand New. I have to throw Sade in there because technically she has a band and everything. She might be my favorite artist period. Her harmonies are not human. So beautiful. And I know Cee Lo Green isn’t a band, but I could never deny how much his music inspires me. It is insane. Also, lately I’ve been really into the new Chiodos record with their new singer and also the new Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows with the old Chiodos singer. Funny how those two albums I think are the best albums I think Chiodos has done and also Craig Owens (DRUGS) has done. Annnnd I can’t leave out Bring Me The Horizon because they are so awesome to see live. Energy like no other.

8. Warped Tour is pretty much the zenith of today’s alternative music scene but there seems to be a perpetual debate about it. There’s the one side who think it’s jumped the shark by diverging away from classic punk bands, and the other side who feel that its progression and diversity is what’s keeping it alive. What does Warped Tour mean to you, as a fan and an artist?

I think the reason Warped is able to stay so huge is because of like you said; them incorporating many different genres. If it were just straight punk bands playing it wouldn’t do nearly as well. Kids like these hybrid and pop bands more and more these days. Artists can’t complain about it. Either deal with it or adapt.

9. I’m a sucker for male/female collabs, like the Lights cameo on the latest Bring Me the Horizon album. If you were given the chance to work with any female singer of your choice, who would it be?

The Lights feature on BMTH’s album WAS EARTH-SHATTERING! If I were to work with any female singer it would be Sade as stated before. I think it’s even more awesome that she is like 30 years older than me! I couldn’t picture a more beautiful collaboration than that, I would feel beyond blessed.

10. What does Captain Midnite have planned for the future?

A lot more shows this upcoming summer. I got a free song coming out this Wednesday March 16th called “Gateway Love” coming out with my buddy Grumps, so snag that! I’m working on a follow up EP to Purple Heart Vendetta at the moment too, but before that is dropped I’m going to drop some singles and some free DLs!


And now I leave you with some essential links where Captain Midnite can be found:

Facebook

Twitter

Grab a Free Song!

Purple Heart Vendetta on iTunes (I bought it after only hearing one song. You won’t regret it. When have I ever lied to you? I mean, other than that one time.)

Nov 192009
 

portrait

Have you ever laid awake in bed at night thinking about how you want to be friends with a  girl who bakes delicious cookies, serves their friends coffee proper-like in vintage cups, and OH YEAH makes gorgeous art? Well, I found her. That girl you want to be friends with? Her name is Mary Louise and she is the proprietor of a shop on Etsy called Mary’s Treacle.

Mary’s  paintings, while whimsical at first glance,  have tenebrous tones to them; imagine if Alice had to submerse herself in the ocean to get to Wonderland. So it’s no surprise that she’s also a member of Etsy’s Dark Side. (However, if sea creatures looked the way Mary’s mind creates them, maybe I wouldn’t be so goddamn terrified of all things ocean. Maybe I might even want one as A PET.)

Having had no interaction with Mary prior to this, I felt somewhat of a creeper propositioning her with a feature on my little blog. But she said yes, and now I get to learn about this fabulous teammate of mine along with the rest of you.

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1.You currently reside in Seattle. Being so close to the Pacific, it’s no wonder your art is full of such fantastic sea creatures. But are there any other inspirations you draw from your surroundings?

Yes, definitely! Seattle is incredibly lush and beautiful. There will definitely be some paintings in the near future that depict its mountains, wide array of pine trees, colorful autumn foliage, the damp mist and the ominous black cloud cover we get in wet weather.

blueoctopus

2.Mark Ryden once collaborated with Stan Ridgway and Pietra Wexstun to create a soundtrack for his Blood Show. What would the soundtrack to YOUR art show sound like?

Ooooh, Coco Rosie and Tom Waits.

seahorse

3. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a fan of MTV’s Laguna Beach and seeing that you once lived there, my fingers are practically doing the Lambada over here atop the keyboard. OMG I’ll just ask it: Did you live there while it was filmed and did you know anyone that was on the show? (OK, I’m a little ashamed that I asked this question, but it was burning inside of me.)

Heheh, I was going to Art School there at the time of the show’s filming. Laguna is sort of a small Beach Town and I actually found myself really annoyed when I wanted to go eat somewhere or run into a shop because it seemed they were always filming. My friends and I would always be groaning “Arrrg we cant eat (shop there, go over there, etc) there because they’re filming that stupid show!” I also wondered why anyone would be interested in Laguna enough to watch a show about it and the people there. Its seemed so humdrum at the time. My brother was actually in High School with them and they are in his yearbook.

My parents and friends still live there and I occasionally watch reruns of the show when I’m feeling home sick.

spookyghosts

4. That really shouldn’t be as awesome to me as it actually is. But now that I’ve just let my guilty pleasure out of the bag, it’s only fair that you share one of your own!

That’s fair. I’m completely obsessed with all this Twilight crap, especially Edward. I just love it and I’m so embarrassed.

5. Don’t be! I catch my boyfriend every now and then trying to molest his hair into an Edwardian coif.

You are given the opportunity to have a commercial made for your art and have any film director of your choosing to make this into a advertising masterpiece. Who do you think would most accurately be able to represent your art and vision?

Spike Jones- Where the Wild Things are made me cry the whole way through, It was so thoughtful and beautiful.

bunny

6. If art wasn’t an option for you, what would be your Plan B?

A baker or a pastry chef, I would want to make people happy some how.

7. I love the baroque-style framing to your pendants. Does this reflect your personal style
?

Yes, very much. Not appearance wise though, maybe a little bit. I’ve been really into gold in paintings lately. I just love the Gothic era paintings covered in gold leaf. I end up putting gold in most of my paintings, I try to pull that feeling into the pendants too with those settings. I’m currently working on integrating some old tarnished metal into my paintings as well.

pinkoctopus

8. For the sake of this question, let’s pretend you’re trying to get on a reality show and you need to make a video application spotlighting your most interesting characteristics. What you would film yourself doing?

The process of making my art and the wonky, erratic structure of my work day. I’d like people to understand just how much work goes into anything handmade; the planning, experimenting, execution, successes and failures. I also would want the non-artists to fully understand that art IS work , is important, and should properly be paid for and that it’s not “Fun” for us just to do it for free all the time. Whew… did I take that too far?

bee

9. No, definitely not! I feel the same way sometimes.

In Pittsburgh, we say “nebby” instead of “nosy.” I’d be a disgrace to my childhood nickname of Nebby Debby if I didn’t ask what you were like in high school.

GOTH of course, then there was that weird, year long embarrassing Rave thing, then Goth again. I’ve tamed myself down quite a bit, but the dark music, clothes, and tastes still lurk.

hippo

10.What can fans of Mary’s Treacle expect to see from you in the future?

I have so many ideas that I’m overwhelmed and becoming quite scattered. There will be more intricate jewelry with some sawing , soldering, and riveting involved. As far as paintings go. I’ll make you a vague list with no explanations, because I don’t want to give too much away prematurely.

* Eggs
* Evergreens
* 2 more Bunnies
* Eyes closed
* Masked
* Matryoshkas
* Rhymes
* Self Portrait

———————————

If you’re as intrigued as I am, here are some ways to keep tabs on Mary:

Etsy: Mary’s Treacle

Blog: Mary Louise Art

Thank you Mary, not only for taking the time to humor me with fantastic information, but for painting a world in which I’d like to live.

And I gotta say, I wouldn’t be mad at all if some guy decided to buy me one of her necklaces for Christmas. Perhaps that guy’s name is Henry and he’s bumbling around somewhere with Twilight tucked under his pit and half a can of mousse in his hair. (Don’t deny it, Henry.)

Oct 132009
 

coral

Coral Armour of the Tiny Tragedies was one of the first members of Etsy’s Dark Side that I came across. I remember this distinctly because it was last fall and I desperately wanted something from her shop but Henry said NO because he’s MEAN and clearly was home sick the day all the boys learned about how gift-giving saves relationships and earns occasional weeknight blow jobs. Anyway, I fell in love with Coral’s macabre art pieces, which mash together fake blood, pretty dolls, and sometimes even a dash of glitter, and somehow these things meet in the middle for a happy medium tea party. She even includes hand-written stories for each piece, and come on – if that doesn’t inspire you to stuff some green in the cleavage of her shop, then we can’t be friends.

Recently, she opened a sister shop on Etsy for her more whimsical, fairy tale-esque line of jewelry and snow globes called The Tiny Tiara, which has been getting noticed all over Etsy. And trust me, when something gets touted on Etsy that doesn’t involve owls, crocheted fruit cozies and fake moustaches, it is a BIG DEAL.   Her rings are huge and eye-catching, and that is exactly what I look for in digit accoutrements. I own one of the tombstone rings, but I am not satisfied with having just one. I need more! For all you people who try and cop out by saying, “I didn’t get you a Christmas present because I never know what to get you, but here, have a McDonald’s coffee card,” NOW YOU KNOW WHERE TO SHOP FOR ME.

Coral was gracious enough to sludge through some questions I tossed her way and I would like to thank her for putting up with it.

1. Here is the obligatory “How did your shop come to be: Evolution or Big Bang Theory?” question.

Evolution for sure! The early Tragedies were crude in their execution not only because I’m a self taught artist/crafter, but because they were created spur of the moment. They were very, very existential. At that time, I made them for myself, so there were no stories. It was all about symbolism, so they were very Jungian. For instance, one was a doll inside a box, surrounded by smaller boxes. One was a doll inside a box filled with mirrors, and the outer panel said ‘Don’t look inside’. They were kind of like art therapy for me. But I found that people prefer to not use their brains, and after looking at one of my creations for two seconds, their first response was either ‘Cool’ or ‘Cute’. Which drove me INSANE. Coming up with the name was Big Bang Theory because I had a show at a gallery and the owner asked what he should put on the flyer, and it was something I hadn’t considered at that point. So I thought about it for a few minutes and it just struck me! It was then I decided to write the stories out so that it would be obvious to people what was going on in the little scenes.

2. “The List” from your Tiny Tragedies shop tickles me in a way that makes me rethink my sanity. I want one so bad, with Henry’s name written about ten times, and maybe a little Miley Cyrus thrown in there somewhere. Give us your own personal shit list. Air that dirty laundry!

the list

I can’t really give you a true life shit list because my dirty laundry is really pretty dirty. Let’s just say that in my dating past there are more tragedies than successes. In the general sense of who is on my shit list now, almost every single co-worker at my job as a part time waitress. And people who take their kids out in cold weather with no socks or jackets on. Oh and girls who are still obsessed with the color pink. And women who ‘Bedazzle’ their own clothes.

3. And you know those women keep a drawer full of puffy paint, too! Your Etsy profile states that you’re inspired by b-horror movies. What movie would you most want to reenact with your Tiny Tragedy characters?

I’m not sure I could just pick one, because when I say that I’m inspired by B-Horror films, I really mean that genre of movies were watched non-stop on the weekends by my dad when I was young. So somewhere in my subconscious is a vast landscape of badly acted death scenes and laughable monsters with even more laughable special effects make-up! I do have a special place in my heart for Vincent Price. Not only because of his films, but because his wife’s name was Coral. If I had to choose one though, I might choose The Blob because that film made quite an impression on me and my over active imagination. I lost lots of sleep after seeing that movie because I was sure the Blob was going to swallow me as soon as I fell asleep. I always really liked the gorey death scenes though. Those never scared me.

tombstone

4. Finally succumbing to my heavy desires of stabbing my boyfriend Henry, I flee to Arkansas and you take me in for a weekend. What can I expect to learn about you and Arkansas after spending two days together?

First I would open a bottle of Chardonnay to toast your victory for angry women everywhere! Then I’d probably be paranoid that you would stab me next. After I got over my paranoia, you would see that I am pretty honest about myself. I don’t pretend to know everything, I have no interest in appearing ‘cool’, I don’t push my opinions on anyone, and I am relatively quick witted. I’m laid back, but also have a fair amount of nervous energy. I will be the first to point out my short comings and tell you straight off the bat that I have mild OCD, and will ask you not to be offended if I make some strange requests while you’re staying with me. I gather that I have a good sense of humor. I don’t like to think that I ‘make fun’ of people, it’s really more that I point out the more bizarre aspects of accepted social behavior. Then as punishment for your crime, I would subject you to an evening with my grandparents with whom I lived  for the first 8 months after re-locating here from California. Speaking of California, you will also note that I am terribly homesick and often say out loud without warning ‘I can’t believe I live in fucking Arkansas’. I’m a good listener. Watching people fall down still really makes me laugh. I spend a lot of time researching bizarre things on the internet like what living through the black plague was like, how shoes were made 100 years ago, and listening to sea shanties. I watch a lot of the History Channel. And I spend a LOT of time looking for supplies on Etsy that inspire me and give me ideas. Gotta keep my brain busy!

caketoppers

5. You have a second shop on Etsy filled with fairy tale-inspired rings and snow globes, which are incredibly unique but the polar opposite of the dioramas you create for Tiny Tragedies. Do you find that you need to have a certain mindset for each, and do you feel that you favor one shop over the other?

Part of that polar opposite thing is my Gemini tendencies! I definitely need to have a certain mindset for each shop. The Tragedies take much, much longer to make from concept to finished item than anything in The Tiny Tiara. A Tiny Tragedy usually takes 8 to 12 hours to make so it requires determination and focus! I can’t just slowly make one, once I’m on a roll, I have to finish it. I hate to admit it, but at the moment I feel more inspired by The Tiny Tiara. I think it’s partly because the items for that shop take a fraction of the time it takes to make a Tragedy. And I’m very much about instant gratification! I do feel guilty about it though. I love my dolls, and I would hate to ever have to say ‘I used to make dolls called The Tiny Tragedies’.

catch

6. Favorite bands, give it to me.

My taste in music is pretty much stuck in the 90’s still. David Bowie, The Smiths, Radiohead, Bjork, My Bloody Valentine, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, Echo and The Bunnymen and Depeche Mode. I find that depressing music really does lift my spirits.

knifethrowing

7. I have this thing where I need to know what everyone was like in high school, so you should tell me that now.

I dropped out of high school at the beginning of my Junior year so I wasn’t really there for long. I had a spiral perm! I was on the Dance Team, I was an aspiring singer. I spent the majority of my high school time commuting between my hometown and LA. I really only went to school to socialize. I had a pretty even mix of friends from every little microcosm of groups. Outside of school, I wrote a lot of poetry and painted occasionally. I was pretty outgoing and took every opportunity to make a joke. I was nominated as one of the most photogenic girls in my class. How embarrassing! I didn’t have a boyfriend because I was terrified of boys. I felt pretty lost most of the time. Oh and let me not forget to mention that I was an obsessive fan of the New Kids On The Block!

deer

(This is actually Woodland Deer, I’m an idiot.)

8. Marilyn Manson is looking for a unique gift to give to his girlfriend (I should Wiki him to see if he even has a girlfriend right now, but who cares really). Originally, he wanted to make her a mudpie using Transylvanian soil made moist with gypsy urine. But because of time constraints (and a Romanian urinary retention pandemic) he turns to Etsy, which for the sake of this question is now a large auditorium filled with artisans, and gives each shop owner an opportunity to use five, and only five, words to describe their shop, at which point whoever piques his interest the most gets his Absynthe-soaked money. It’s your turn next, and you only get ONE CHANCE SO DON’T BLOW IT. What do you tell him?

Melancholy, black comedy, macabre, surreal, subconscious. I don’t know, does that work? Did I win??

9. You win! In fact, his ladyfriend just scored 8,000 points by accidentally-on-purpose poking out a hobo’s eyeball with your tombstone ring! Then she mopped up the blood with a blouse, which she’ll wear to dinner tomorrow night because that’s her style. Now, describe your personal style.

I love heavy, long, faux fur winter coats, big rings and big jewelry, lots of black, and anything that a wayward fairy tale princess might wear. I love avant garde clothing, a symmetrical cuts and such.

skating

10. What can we expect next from the brilliant Coral Armour?

I have some ideas but I’m not finished putting the pieces together in my head yet. I want to go in a different direction with the dolls. Much closer to the way they were when I first started making them. It’s all still brewing in my brain, and hopefully sometime soon I will have time to devote to making them a reality. I kind of want to make a few different versions of The Peppermint Princess doll that I made last Christmas. That seems to be where I’m going at the minute. Still going to experiment with the new shop and try to keep the creativity flowing. Sorry that’s a really boring answer!

********

Somehow, I have a hard time believing Coral could EVER be boring.

Now you know the pertinents about the brains behind two very unique Etsy shops. If you’re anything like me, you’re wishing you could go hang out with her rightnowthisverysecond. But if you’re as geographically unfortunate as me, stalking her online will have to suffice.

Want more Freaky Features? The previous two can be found here.

**I may have let my personal feelings for the tombstone  ring get in the way when typing out its name, so don’t think Coral is some sort of egomaniac. I’m just really super obsessed with this damn ring and feel that every one should have one. So go!  Hurry! They sell as fast as she makes them!

Sep 142009
 

morgan

Thinking of taxidermy, I immediately draw to mind flannel-jacketed Uncle Bruce watching the fishing channel in his wood-paneled den decorated with protruding buck heads and a coffee table otter.

But out in Tempe, Arizona, 21-year-old Morgan of SlightlyCurious puts her own sideshow-spin on the animal stuffing game. But wait! Before you get all up-in-arms about animal cruelty, here is the disclaimer she has on her MySpace page:

“While I’m no activist, I do not kill animals to create my work. They are roadside splatters, casualties of the seafood industry, or simply weren’t meant to survive. I merely take what isn’t stiff yet.”

I’ll admit, as a vegetarian I was a little “OMG” when I first saw Morgan’s shop. But that initial shock quickly turned into intrigue; there is an innate creativity flowing there that I can’t deny and I was excited to find out  about the inner-workings of taxidermy and to learn more about the artist herself.  

1. Taxidermists have always intrigued me, because how common is it for someone to realize one day that hey, they have a genuine need to sew up some dead carcasses, right? What’s your taxidermy story?

Honestly, I wish I had a more captivating story to relate. When anyone asks (and, invariably, everyone eventually does), I tell them the short truth – I woke up one day with a silly idea bouncing around in my head, and went with it.

But here are the details I usually leave out:

Having grown up in the Midwest, taxidermy was vaguely in the background of my childhood. We had a shoulder mount of a buck, a couple of stuffed bass, and that was the extent of it. Several of my relatives were hunters. When it was time to clean a deer, this was commonly done by hanging it upside down in the garage, splay-legged, glassy-eyed, and dripping blood into a kiddie pool. My kiddie pool, that I occasionally liked to fill with water and splash around in. But I digress. Without fail, I always wanted a turn hanging onto the hide of the deer to help pull it off the carcass. I spent a good deal of time running around barefoot, poking at anything that looked alive, or like it may have once been alive. Typical kid stuff.

Okay, I still do that. But I wear shoes, because my neighborhood is full of crackheads who don’t care where their syringes land.

At the time taxidermy piqued my interested, I was begrudgingly in college, kind of flapping around like a drugged fish and looking for any excuse to quit. Again. I kept going to classes, though, to use the campus computers to check out taxidermy schools. Then I remembered what a cheap bastard I am. The following Monday, I withdrew from classes, picked out a taxidermy shop from the phone book, and showed up there. The first person I came in contact with happened to be deaf. We spent the next twenty minutes trying to communicate via hand signals and his chicken scratch hand writing while the owner was in the bathroom taking a shit. That last part is important, because it pretty much sums up my experience there – unorthodox methods of communication, and watching the shop while the owner took a shit.

I lucked out, and the guy ended up being one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. I spend the next year and a half hanging around his shop, eager to learn anything I could. Unfortunately, he’s in the early stages of selling his shop and filing bankruptcy. Not many people these days have a few hundred extra dollars for that trophy mount.

2. What were you like in high school? Did you ever wear animal bone necklaces to freak out the preppy bitches?

Don’t we all just love to reminisce upon our teenage years? I pretty much kept to myself aside from a very small group of people who were mostly the “skater” kids. I got called “goth” a lot, even though aIl I wore was t-shirts and jeans and didn’t have any angst to speak of. Go figure. I was mainly unconscious of my appearance – I don’t think I owned a skirt or dress until I was at least 18, I never wore makeup, and was frequently mistaken for a boy. So no, I didn’t get up in the morning with the intention of freaking anyone out – that just happened on its own. It was probably a fairly typical high school experience.

Believe it or not I was actually interested in learning something, but everything was so dumbed down for the gangster kids that not many of the teachers gave a shit. At one point, I was going straight from AP Lit to regular ol’ retard English. Since then I’ve never had brain function come to such a dramatic, screeching halt. By my sophomore year, I was spending the lunch period as a teacher’s aide. I started going to school for only half a day my junior year and still managed to graduate early in order to save my nine remaining brain cells. So yeah – lots of words to basically say “nothing special.”

minkskull

3. What I love about you is that you take something ordinary like Grandpa’s prized bass and give it a creepy, Burton-esque twist by sticking its head on the body of a squirrel. Pretend you were just granted permission to do this same procedure on two of your favorite celebrities, what would you do?

That’s a tough one, I’m guilty of being entirely out of touch with pop culture. But I would love to do something horrible to Criss Angel. While I’m doing charity work, I’d probably give Gordon Ramsey (Hell’s Kitchen) lobster claws. Sometimes it really seems like he could use them, even if it’s just to emphasize a point.

4. Is your work area anything like the grandpa’s work area on “Lost Boys”?

It’s probably more like the father’s shed in “Pervert!” If you haven’t seen that movie, it’s worth a look. The guy’s penis escapes and becomes a serial killer.

5. You’re driving down the road and see a beaver flattened against the asphalt. Do you literally scrape it up, dust it off, and take it home to work on, or is there some sort of dead animal store you go to purchase your supplies?

Living where I do, I would be fairly skeptical of the origins of said beaver. I have, in fact, made someone stop on the freeway so I could collect (what I could find of) a dead rabbit. Usually, if any scraping is required, the animal is just about useless to me. The more fresh and intact, the better. A lot of things I use are intercepted on their way to the dumpster from the taxidermy shop, or have been discarded by hunters. Because it gets so hot here, birds will occasionally drop from the sky, and I usually snatch those up whenever I see them. The neighbors are a little wary of me.

A lot of people tell me that they think of me whenever they see a dead animal. I’m not sure what to make of that association, but at least people are thinking of me. I had a couple friends bring me a “present” from a short road trip. It was a garbage bag of raccoon. He came back the next day and gave me a box of latex gloves.

hornedduck

6. I’m inherently nosy about the  music people like. What were the last 10 songs you listened to on your play list:

Afro Man – Colt 45
Murs – Bad Man
Of Montreal – Oslo in the Summertime
Oingo Boingo – Little Girls
Atmosphere – Say Hey There
The Doors – People are Strange
The Tiger Lillies – Banging in the Nails
Robbie Williams – Rock DJ (That video, oh my god. Go watch it. Go! I’ll wait.)
Mac Lethal – Mermaid Pornography
Looking Glass – Brandy

7. When you’re not stitching up animals, what are your favorite things to do in Tempe?

Go somewhere else. Ha! Really, I spend a bit of time practicing sideshow acts, some time cooking delicious food, lots of time fighting with my cat, some time sewing. Yeah, it’s exciting around here. If I’m feeling really adventurous, I may even take a walk to the liquor store. Or do some aggressive cuddling.

Lately I’ve been keeping busy helping out with the filming/production of our (by “our” I mean myself and the Cut Throat Freak Show) DVD. You can watch the preview here:

 About 2/3 of the way through is a bit of documentary about my taxidermy. /shameless self promotion

8. Any guilty pleasures?

Feeling guilty would imply I was doing something wrong, wouldn’t it?  Sometimes I like to drink too much and smash electronics in my back yard. If we’re neighbors, you should grab your microwave and head over. It’s probably the most entertaining thing happening in Tempe right now.

Other potentially incriminating activities include playing Minesweeper and Bejeweled, eating raw meet, patronizing Chinese buffets, public intoxication, and finding new old furniture in the dumpster.

9. I do have a Blackberry I’d like to smash.  I imagine you must get the occasional bizarre request, like “Please fashion my dead Betta into a bow-tie.” What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever got?

A stranger came up to me in a bar and told me his cat “has the FIV,” would probably die soon, and wanted me to stuff her. I gave him my card, but I haven’t heard from him. Either his cat is doing okay, or he was too drunk to remember having talked to me.

2headed

10. Your Etsy shop is a contestant on Jeopardy and Alec Trebek needs a synopsis for when he does the introductions. What do you want him to say?

Oh geez. Let me put on my game show voice.

“Our third and final contestant, with a freezer full of squirrels and a slight odor of formaldehyde… Slightly Curious!

And now, the host of Jeo-

What’s that?

I’ve just received word from our producers that the studio must be evacuated due to a health code violation. Thank you, and good evening.”

*****

Find out more about SlightlyCurious here: