Summon: How did the band get started?
Doktor Fetish: Suicide Sanctum is my electronic solo project. I started out as a guitar player, and in the early 90s I began using a computer to create backing tracks to jam along with. In the beginning, I was just using a primitive Sound Blaster card, but as time went on, I kept adding more synthesizers and the backing tracks grew more and more complex. Eventually I reached a point where I dropped the guitar altogether and I was just doing everything with synthesizers and keyboards, sequencing all of it on the computer. I released a three song demo tape in 1995 under the name of Azrael. Only one of the songs on that tape, “I’m a Vampire”, was really any good. I was working in a music store for three years, so I was able to get some very good deals on music gear, and I slowly put together my own home studio. I kept writing and recording more songs in my spare time, and in 1999 I was ready to release an album. I found out that someone else was already using the name Azrael, so I changed my name to Suicide Sanctum and released an album under the title of Love Songs for the Dead.
Summon: What kind of music do you play?
Doktor Fetish: I would say it falls under the general category of darkwave, but it also includes elements of industrial, gothic, ambient, and ethereal music.
Summon: How has the band response been?
Doktor Fetish: I’ve been getting favorable responses from most people that hear the music. When I first released Love Songs for the Dead in 1999, two of the songs, Love Is Blind and I Love You To Death, were both being played frequently in the local gothic clubs. A couple of the more ambient tracks, Majestic and Celephais, were getting a lot of attention on the Internet. Now that the album has been re-released, I’ve been promoting it online on Myspace and other sites, and I’m getting a lot of positive feedback.
Summon: Where did the band name come from?
Doktor Fetish: After I found out that the original name, Azrael, had already been used, I set about trying to find a new name that would be a little more unique. I was reading a small book of poetry by a writer named Thomas Wiloch, which was based on the cut-up technique devised by William Burroughs. This technique involves cutting words out of magazines or newspapers and placing them in a hat, then pulling them out at random. So I was reading this book based on this method, and I came across the phrase Suicide Sanctum. I liked the way it sounded, so I took that as my new name.
Summon: Introduce the band members
Doktor Fetish: The band is primarily just me (Doktor Fetish), with occasional guests. On the first album, female vocalist Sira Licia sang on the track Sinking and did the background vocals on I Love You To Death. For the next album, I plan to record at least one track with my good friend Sineatersmith. He is a spoken word performance artist who writes fetish poetry, and he has several videos online at Youtube. As the new album progresses, I may decide to bring in other guests as well, but only time will tell.
Summon: Who writes the music? Lyrics?
Doktor Fetish: I write all the music and lyrics myself, with the exception of the song Sinking, on which I wrote the music and Sira Licia wrote the lyrics.
Summon: And where do the lyric ideas come from?
Doktor Fetish: It can be any variety of things. For Love Is Blind, I wanted to write a song that was like sappy love poetry, but with a dark twist. That idea bounced around inside my head for over a year, then one day I sat down and it just came flowing out. I Love You To Death is based on a number of bad experiences I’ve had with failed romances. For the new album, I’ve already finished lyrics for 15 songs. Some of these deal with the theme of insanity, some of them are anti-corporate, and some of them poke fun at pop culture. Sometimes the words are written around an idea or theme. Other times I’ll be listening a piece of music I’ve written and a phrase will pop into my head, and the words will form around that phrase.
Summon: How many albums/Cd’s have you released?
Doktor Fetish: At this time there is only the first album, Love Songs for the Dead. This album was originally published in 1999 and went out of print in 2001. The album was unavailable for 10 years, but in June of 2011 I decided to revive the Suicide Sanctum project and I reissued the album. Right now I am working on a second full-length album, entitled A Cure for Sanity, which should be completed some time in 2012. Since I work mostly on my own, it takes longer than it would with a full band. The lyrics are already finished, some new music is already written, and I also plan to include reworked versions of some unfinished and unreleased songs that were written around the time of the first album.
Summon: Tell me about some the songs on the latest CD?
Doktor Fetish: The release date is still a ways off, so I don’t want to give out too many details just yet, but the album will be called A Cure For Sanity, and there will be several songs that deal with the themes of madness and insanity. The music will be similar to what was on the first album, but it has also evolved in many ways. There will still be many dark elements, ambient elements, and industrial elements, but there will also be some parts that have a more poppy feel. I don’t mean mainstream pop, but more like industrial pop, kind of along the lines of what ohGr is doing, but not exactly. Also, I’ve started playing guitar again, so I plan to reintroduce that and blend it with the electronic elements that were on the first album.
Summon: Do you have any side projects?
Doktor Fetish: Yes. After I released the first Suicide Sanctum CD, I started another project in 2000 called Aversion Therapy. (There have since been another two or three bands to use this name.) Aversion Therapy was an experimental dark ambient project with a very bleak atmospheric sound. At the end of 2000, Aversion Therapy released a CD entitled Psalms of the Silent. The music on this CD was produced without the use of any instruments, synthesizers, effects, or microphones. It was just a handful of samples that were digitally manipulated and mangled beyond all recognition. This album is currently out of print, and I have no plans to reissue it. The music is just too dark and inaccessible, and I don’t think very many people would want to listen to it.
Summon: Who are some of your musical influences?
Doktor Fetish: My all time biggest influence is the Legendary Pink Dots. They’ve been around since 1980 and released about 40 albums, not counting their many side projects like the Tear Garden, and solo projects by Edward Ka-Spel and The Silverman. Great stuff all around. As for other influences in the gothic/industrial vein, I also really appreciate Clan of Xymox, Oneiroid Psychosis, Project Pitchfork, Lycia, Front Line Assembly, Coil, and ohGr. Other non-genre influences that may not be apparent in my music are Hawkwind, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Ozric Tentacles, Helios Creed, The Residents, Warpaint, psychedelic rock, and even some surf rock (especially Robert Johnson and Punchdrunks).
Summon: Which current bands?
Doktor Fetish: Most of the bands I mentioned above are still around today. I’ve been diversifying my tastes a lot more lately and listening to things that I never would have listened to before. I recently saw Chapel Club perform live and I thought they were great. I also saw Wire and Acid Mothers Temple and they were both amazing as well. I have tickets to see Thurston Moore with Kurt Vile later this month, and I will also be seeing the Swans and Los Straitjackets in the next couple of months. So yeah, I like all kinds of stuff. The best show I’ve seen recently was The Residents. That was not just a concert, it was a totally mind-blowing surreal experience, no drugs required.
Summon: What is the band like when you play live?
Doktor Fetish: At this time, Suicide Sanctum is just a studio project. I have never performed live and I do not have any plans to do so. But that could always change in the future. Anything is possible.
Summon: So then what made you want to be a studio band instead of playing live?
Doktor Fetish: For the most part, I prefer to work on my own. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a solo studio artist. The advantages are that I’m in complete creative control of the music and I can make it sound however I want. I don’t have to worry about coordinating rehearsal times with various band members and hoping everyone shows up when they’re supposed to. And there are none of the inevitable ego clashes and conflicts that occur in so many bands. The disadvantages are that it can take longer to get things done. Since I’m working alone, I’m doing all the writing and programming for all the instrument parts, recording the vocals and live instruments, then mixing everything. There are also times when I’ll come up with with a musical idea and not know where to go with it. If I was working with other musicians, one of them might be able to jump in and say “Just go ‘da da da da da'” and then it’s done.
Summon: Do you think you would gain more fans if you played live?
Doktor Fetish: Probably. If you’re playing in a bar, there’s always going to be people who just happen to be at the venue but they don’t know who you are. Or maybe someone has heard a couple of your songs, but they’re not sure if they like you enough to buy an album. Or perhaps the fans who are coming to see you will drag their friends along. If you put on a good show and impress those people, I think there’s a good chance they’ll become fans.
Summon: Do you think you would ever play?
Doktor Fetish: I’m not ruling out the possibility. If the second album is well received, and if there is enough demand from the fans, it could happen. It would take a lot of preparation, though. I’d have to put together a live band, and we’d have to spend a lot of time learning the songs and practicing until we can perform flawlessly. It would be something completely new for me, but I’m sure it would be a lot of fun.
Summon: That is awesome you are studio band, do you feel this makes your have more time to focus on writing more music?
Doktor Fetish: It’s hard to say really. I’ve never done it any other way, so I don’t really have anything to compare with. When bands go on the road, they spend a lot of time traveling, preparing for shows, and performing. All of that does take time away from writing. But on the other hand, there are plenty of bands who write when they’re on the road, coming up with new ideas when they’re warming up and rehearsing. I guess it could go either way.
Summon: What is the scene like in your country?
Doktor Fetish: I live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in the USA. We have a small but dedicated gothic scene here. Some people are into it just for the music, and others for the fashion, but for many people it’s a complete lifestyle. Those are the true goths. Every major city in the USA has its own goth scene, and in the larger cities, those scenes are quite active and thriving. The gothic culture has never been mainstream, and I doubt if it ever will be, but it still continues to persist over the years even while other trends rise and fall.
Summon: What made you want to be in this band? And if you weren’t in this band what would you being doing now?
Doktor Fetish: Music has always been one of my greatest passions all my life. Even when I was a small child I used to love playing my records and listening to the radio all the time. In my teenage years, I had dreams of being a rockstar, and I started playing the guitar. My focus has changed a lot since then, and I no longer wish for mainstream fame, but I still love music just as much as always. If I wasn’t making music, I’d probably just sit around and play video games half the day.
Summon: What does the future hold for the band??
Doktor Fetish: It’s been 12 years since the first Suicide Sanctum album was released, and 10 years since it went out of print. Right now my focus is on getting the word out and letting people know that Suicide Sanctum is back. I’m also working on finishing the next album and getting that out. After that, I’m sure I still have at least a couple more albums in me, so I’ll just keep making more music. It’s possible that I might start another side project, because some of what I’m doing may not fit with Suicide Sanctum, but at this point even I don’t know what will develop.
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