Certain things about Down Under always fascinated me. It got to the point where I just HAD to know. So, left with no other choices, I hunted down Anthony Kwan, the mastermind behind the great Australian doom outfit, Elegeion, and made him reveal the best kept secrets in Australia.
Potrokh: Good morning!
Anthony: Yeah good morning.
P: How come you're on so early?
A: It's 2:45 in the arvo here in Australia!
P: Really? I thought it was like a 12 hour difference! Ok, let's talk! How did you start and when? (And where. And be yourself, can tell me it all in normal plain english, no promo crap)
A: Elegeion started in 1995 under the name Transcendence, although we used to play some Elegeion songs in a black metal band in 1994. Our first demo was recorded in 95 and came out in 96. And we are from the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne.
P: Ahh, Melbourne... is the scene big there? (It's just that I never heard of any doom/goth bands from Australia till I heard you!)
A: As far as doom goes, not at all. Dont know many other doom bands here except the mighty Disembowelment.
P: Wow, you know what? I own one of their albums! I'd say they are more of deathdoom, not doom/goth, would you agree? Way too brutal compared to you.
A: There are other goth/doom bands in other parts of Australia though such as Chalice & Mournful Congregation in Adelaide and Lycanthia from somewhere else.
P: So, is Disembowelment from Melbourne, too? Are you in close contact being the only bands of that kind there?
A: Yep, Disembowelment are death/doom but the lyrics are quite goth-like. We're not in contact at all! We were gonna use their drummer several years ago but it didn't happen, but I would very much like to meet Renato as he is a truly great & original songwriter.
P: I agree on that, good to know you guys have respect for each other. What influenced you in the first place? I mean, Australia is supposed to be some kind of a surfer place, not necessarily too depressed.
A: Yeah, many of my mates surf and we all snowboard, but I don't think the weather has anything to do with depression in a lot of cases.
P: Snowboard? Where do you find snow there?
A: There are a few mountains in Victoria and New South Wales - not bad to ski and you can also fly to New Zealand cheap for excellent skiing. Maybe most Americans, etc don't know that...
P: Man, I have to let you know I am becoming envious! Anyway, I noticed you were a full band in the beginning and then it turned to being just you.. what was the reason?
A: The band has never had a full line up. Just me and James on bass. The rest are non-metal friends and sessions. Before recording the new album, James and I had different directions in music so it became just me, but he might be on the new album hopefully.
P: But, what turned you into this type of music? it's just not something people listen to by birth or high school influences, am I right?
A: When I first heard My Dying Bride "Symphonare infernus..." 10years ago now, I was destroyed by its emotion and have been hooked ever since to dark depressing music! Quite a few friends in high school liked doom metal too, but that was about 10 years ago, and we played black metal when we were in high school too.
P: You certainly have good influences! Black metal! Any outstanding influences there? (I didn't know the plague spread so far as Australia)
A: I love Emperor's track "I am the black wizards", Samael "Blood Ritual", Rotting Christ "Thy Mighty Contract", most of Burzum, old Celtic Frost & Bathory, old & new Katatonia...the list goes on! Yeah, the plague has been here for many years - haven't you heard of Sadistik Exekution, started in '86?
P: Wow! Now, let's talk about everyday life in Australia! What's the favorite beer there? (The beer question is a trick one).
A: Well, the best local beer is Melbourne Bitter, Victoria Bitter, Cascade Lager, Carlton Draught, but I love European beer like Shofferhoffer, Kozel & Becks.
P: Haha, I knew that! Someone told me - ask about Victoria beer! Cause I personally like Fosters (I can just picture disgust on your face).
A: I hate that stuff - we only make it for export coz noone drinks fosters here!
P: That's EXACTLY what they told me! But you know what? It's all big conspiracy - the Fosters we drink here is made in Canada.
A: Ha ha! No shit! Our Heineken is made in Indonesia or something! No way will I drink that shit unless there is nothing else!
P: Man, you might as well be right! I don't particularly like Heineken, either! (I was very amused reading one MDB interview where they were excited about Budweiser being cheap here)
A: I can't stand bud! Don't know any good american beer! What's good? Don't say Miller!
P: No way, it makes me want to puke! Try Yuengling if you ever manage to find it. It's a local Pennsylvania brewery, supposedly, oldest in US.
A: I'll look for it!
P: Anyway, your friends that help you with your work - are they not into metal at all? (Particularly, the girls)
A: Apart from James, no. My singer Deiudonnee is a full on industrial goth though. She worships NIN and all that stuff.
P: Funny - our writer Morbidius just asked me if I knew any dark industrial bands a few days ago... some girl friend of his wanted to know. Must be some girl thing, as none of us knew. What about Natasha? Isn't that a Russian name, by the way?
A: Slovenian. She likes just normal music, not exactly sure of her faves. She used to sing in a Slovenian folk band here!
P: Wow, how do they end up there?
A: I think they always lived here.
P: But, the real question is, how do you persuade them to work for you? Especially since they aren't into metal? Are they hot, by the way? Where did you dig them up?
A: Just friends helping me out, and for studio experience and coz they like the music. I met Natasha at university and Dieudonnee at a goth club. Their looks shall remain a mystery for the time being (although they are not bad!!) (a mystery coz we havent done promo photos yet).
P: Which one is hotter? Do you think australian chicks in general are hot?
A: I would have to say Natasha. Many chicks here are fucking hot, always a good perve in summer!
P: Many topless ones at the beach?
A: Yeah, a few. Depends where. Most babes don't mind going topless.
P: Oh, man, that's just teasing! (we are all big porno freaks at 666metal!)
A: Then you will LOVE the cover of the next album! XXX I'm actually downloading porn as we speak!!! Ha ha ha!!
P: Can't wait for it! Where? Where? (joke - I have enough of my own)
A: Ha ha!! Or as you would say he he!!
P: Well, actually at some point I was gonna run a porn site but then my love for music took over.
A: I'm the total opposite. I am saving to start my own porn company & give up music!! Elegeion will become a porno soundtrack band! (Are you gonna publish this stuff? hope so!!)
P: You bet! All till the last word! (Everything you say can and will be used against you).
A: Man I gotta get over there and get some sorority pussy like in those bikini shop revenge of the nerds movies. I have no shame!
P: Then you wanna talk to Wayfaerer, who is sleeping at a cabin with some girl college girls as we speak! (There will be 12 girls he said and 3 or 4 guys only!) The only problem is he's in New York state and it's very cold there right now, so I hope he has at least 2 or 3 to cover him up.
A: Jesus Christ! I got to get to know this dude! Get him to take some photos! You can be the american branch of my porn company!
P: Haha, and all that exactly as I'm listening to your "Through The Eyes Of Regret" (the song - you know, it's supposed to be all like serious and somber).
A: There's two sides to every coin.
P: I always knew that! I am glad you didn't disappoint me! Any plans for international touring?
A: Not as yet. We'll see how sales go first.
P: How's that going?
A: Not bad. Only just starting the advertising campaign, but we have moved about 600 units so far in 2 months.
P: what's the geographic coverage?
A: Main re-orders are in Italy, France, Germany and I think the USA.
P: Do the girls get any shares or are they in just for the fun? I know you wrote all the music, so I think it's only fair you're the one to benefit most.
A: We don't really sell in Australia though coz noone really likes doom here, besides a few people.
P: How does your creative process go? Better at night when you're alone or daytime jamming with friends?
A: Always alone at night. Usually after a few weeks in social isolation.
P: Now, let's elaborate on that... social isolation? Are you jobless and can afford not seeing anyone for weeks? Are you deep in the bush (did I spell that right?), away from people?
A: Have been in and out of jobs whilst writing the album, but mostly just staying at home in isolation when I am not working. I work full time, and can afford to see people but when I want to write for Elegeion, you must be in a certain mood which only arrives after solitude. As for being deep in the bush - it depends whose!!
P: Haha, work full time... what's your occupation/education? (Ever been in Natasha's bush?)
A: I currently work for Ford Motor Company. No comment.
P: REALLY? Now that is globalization! What do you think of that? (Ralph Nader and all).
A: I knew you'd say that! Well, globalization isn't necessarily a bad thing! Depends on how you look at it.
P: Ahh, well, I guess it depends on what exactly you do for Ford motor! - if, say, you're the one to screw nuts at the assembly line then you need to vote for Ralph, but if you are executive, then Bush, of course... bush)
A: Well I do both, depends on what month. ...so.. I vote for Satan.
P: Huh? Like, one month you screw nuts and then you tell them to screw more? Like, being a boss? (too much of an allegory even for myself! By the way, did you see my banner about voting for Bush?)
A:Ha ha!! You'd get my vote! Not a big boss yet, but maybe one day.
P: I'd say you are definitely better writing music, but this world is not perfect enough yet... if we all vote for Ralph Nader, then maybe one day...
A: Yeah there's always room for improvement.
P: And what is your opinion on her majesty the queen?
A: Great ass! She needs to show more flesh though... and some lesbian shit with her mum would go off!! In other words - I dont give a toss about her.
P: Do any of those other people - the girls, the violinist and such, get anything out of it? (I kinda like the violin, is the person professional?)
A: I always use professionals for the best quality, although it could always sound better.
P: Do you utilize any special equipment like computers?
A: No, I try to avoid keyboards, etc so as to achieve a natural resonance and tone to the production.
P: What's your equipment then?
A: Jackson Kelly, Roland Jazz Chorus Amp and a metal zone pedal. I also use a VOX amp... pretty simple gear really.
P: Hmm, how do you write the violin/other stuff?
A: I write it in my head coz I can't read music then I show it to the violin player or use a book to see what note I'm playing and write it down... very slow process.
P: I see... how did you get on the Emperor label originally? What was the story?
A: Lee Barret liked the music and saw potential so signed us up. He left the label after the first release, and Candlelight did some cost cutting which resulted in us and other bands being without a contract.
P: I have to give Lee a big credit, he was right.. is he still in contact with you?
A: Not any more. I should send him a copy though.
P: I'd say you definitely should... was his decision based on material for "Odyssey into Darkness"?
P: What ARE your influences? Any other European stuff?
A: For elegeion - all the Metallica instrumentals, My Dying Bride, old & new Katatonia, Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, Disembowelment, Henryk Gorecki and Burzum.
P: Burzum? That's interesting! How come? I don't hear any real black in your work, is "Odyssey" different?
A: No, I just like the trance-like repetitive atmosphere he creates. And simple beats.
P: I see! what's your opinion on his lifestyle, though?
A: Each to his own. You are who you are.
P: What are your hopes for the future? Do you think people in Australia will ever turn to the dark side of music?
A: Never. Too much into the surf footy pisshead lifestyle.
P: Well, if they won't what makes you go on with what you're doing? Is it a pure coincidence that your work is so depressed or is it the result?
A: Maybe the depression is a reflection of my subconscious. I used to be really fucked up when I wrote those songs so I can assure you the depressing theme was written with 100% conviction.
P: Oh, a good turn! Being fucked up... how do you picture that? Any illegal substance involved? (Speaking of Ralph Nader again, the big supporter of all that) And what are the trends about that in Aussie?
A: Never did drugs at the time of writing the songs. I've never really been big on them, maybe occasionally. But drugs experiences definitely DO NOT influence me in any way. I hate how cunts need drugs for inspiration what a cop out for an empty mind! Every wanker and his dog are doing ecstacy these days. Kind of a personality pill for losers. If you wanna do it, that's fine, but don't take your come down depression shit out on me!!
P: What are your influences other than metal? (I am always curious about that!)
A: Henryk Gorecki - Symphony No.3, Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, Tori Amos, Britney Spears, R&B, Samuel Barber, Arvo Part, Thunderstorms, Fierce Winds, etc.
P: Huh? Britney Spears? Tori Amos? Man, no comment on my part!
A: I just like music, no matter what. I'm too old to give a fuck about genre and image. Yeah, I've got a sick mind but I'm normal too.
P: Too old? If you're too old then BS is too young for you!
A: Well that's debatable!! She's hot so she's good!
P: I have to give her that... anyway, what was the answer to my part about depression? (If people there are never gonna like doom)
A: My tendencies to dwell in the darker side of life and my own feelings give me the strength to keep on writing this music. Even though it's not appreciated in Australia, when I hear any kind of positive response from overseas, it also encourages me not to give up on writing this kind of music.
P: Do you think you'll ever mellow down as so many bands have? Do you consider yourself more metal or more gothic?
A: I consider myself more metal, but I don't know if my music can get any more mellow. I've been thinking of doing a purely classical album - like a soundtrack - but I'm not sure yet. Even if I write pure classical I believe it would still be metal as much of my inspiration is from the darkness of black and doom metal.
P: Who's more popular in Australia - AC/DC or Bee Gees?
A: AC/DC of course! Bee Gees don't really fit my generation, but they crack me up!
P: Do any of them even live there at all?
A: No. Acaadacca used to live in Melbourne, but not now. The film clip "Long way to the top" was done on a street in my home city.
P: I realize I have to let you go soon, but there's still a couple of questions I simply have to ask you. First - are those kangaroos really as annoying as they seem?
A: Nah, they're ok. When I was a kid, I used to ride one to school. Now I just want to eat them.
P: Do they still make kangaroo meat? I heard some horror stories from the 80's...
A: Yes they do. What's the story???
P: Oh, some supermarkets here sold it under the name "beef" until it was discovered and banned. Is it tasty?
A: Oh. Well, it's ok to eat. It's not bad at all.
P: Must be ok, considering what the French and the Chinese eat sometimes! The second question - where did the australians pick up their accent? Do you think it's the aboriginies?
A: Not at all!! That's funny, though! We're originally descended from english convicts, so I think our accent is derived from maybe working class england or the "cockney" dialect of english. There are barely any aboriginies left in my part of Australia.
P: Are they scary? Aggressive? Use boomerangs a lot?
A: Bloody oath, mate!! Most are self-obsessed pissheads, who love to wallow in the past and milk our money without contributing anything, and maybe yell some abuse at whitefellas from the park bench. They don't understand that what's past is past. Some are OK but that's so rare, I've only ever met one cool aboriginie. Maybe they should have some pride and get on with their lives. Well, that's my opinion.
P: Have you ever been struck by a boomerang?
A: Yeah, thats how we get out kangaroo meat.
P: Now - closing thoughts!
A: Well, buy my album. Also look out for my other band The Murphy Boys - Satanic Rock n' Roll. And my final thoughts are too perverted to say as I'm downloading heaps of porn right now!