Friday, October 9, 2009

Brown Jenkins Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band, what your goals were in the beginning, and if you felt you accomplished what you wanted, during the time your project was around?
Well, looking back on it now...I feel like I accomplished everything I wanted in terms of what music I wrote. I'm not so happy about my recordings or the way people have perceived Jenkins, but...what can one do? What's done is done. The most important thing about this band was that it directly reflected my inner experience, feelings, thoughts, etc. and that I didn't try to belong to any "scene" or group of musicians in the underground. I never wanted any part of that. So I set myself a few rules really early: no double-bass, no tremelo picking, no stupid religious dogma or whatever, no themes that tried to criticize or show anyone anything other than what I had inside my own head. It's all very solipsistic, of course, but I also felt that it was honest. I didn't have to lie and pretend to be something that I wasn't. I think Jenkins shows a real progression in terms of songwriting ability over its short history and I can only hope that pattern continues. I would love to be able to get to a place where I feel comfortable expressing almost anything through music...but that's a lifelong pursuit, you know? One is always learning. Music is infinitely flexible...well, mostly because it's so shallow/malleable.

2. I know you got your name from a Lovecraft novel, but can you explain who Brown Jenkins was to my readers who have not read Lovecraft?
The band is named after a creature called "Brown Jenkin", from Lovecraft's story "Dreams in the Witch House." Jenkin is the familiar of a witch in the story, he's basically a miniature, demonic hybrid man/rat. He kills children, etc. - not a nice little guy. He's been one of my favorite Lovecraft creations ever since I was a kid.

3. What made you decide to disband the project?
Well, it was never supposed to last this long in the first place. I think I've taken it as far as I can, I want to move on to new things, new styles, new ways of doing things. I think Jenkins will be served the best by having three CDs out and then just being left behind. I like the notion of "leaving" things, completing them, letting them stand on their own. I can put it on a shelf and say, "Well, that's where my mind was at that point in time, I can always visit it but I don't need to live there forever, I can move on." For me...a band is like a doorway into another world. That's the way it should be thought of. The Jenkins world has been thoroughly explored by me now. I need to go into new things. If I don't...the next work will just be more of the same. It will bore me, I'll get sick of writing or playing, etc. I don't want that to happen. This last album is kind of unsettling. It's not really like what has come before. I mean...it's still really heavy, dark, morbid, mournful, etc. but there are a lot of fast parts and the riffing is just all over the place. There's a lot of interplay between the guitars and bass. The drumming is different, there are more vocals lines/parts, the songs are better structured and flow better, etc. I think people will be surprised when they hear it. It's still as dense as ever with multiple guitar parts echoing off each other all over the place...but I paid a lot more attention to how catchy the riffing/songwriting would be this time.

4. Can you tell us about your new project and what style the music is heading into?
Well, I have a couple of things going right now. The "main" one, I guess, is called The Ash Eaters and I suppose people can see that as a sort of "continuation" of the spirit of Jenkins (meaning that if they like Jenkins, they'll probably like this new stuff), but the truth is that it's much more technical/avant-garde then Jenkins, progressive, experimental. Basically I'm trying to take what I've inherited from listening to black metal over the past decade, decade and a half, and really push it to an extreme in terms of what it can say and how personal/bizarre/unique it can be before it just falls apart. So although this new music, I think, is really catchy and people will enjoy it, there are parts of it that are almost painful in terms of what I'm doing on the guitar. I don't mean that it's really difficult to play or anything like that, I'm not a tech guitar player...I mean harmonically difficult, very dense, very strange. Hopefully I can continue to get better and better recordings so that all these things will come out. The first Ash Eaters CD should be out in December, I think. I also have a couple of other projects going but I'll announce those (I guess) when they're ready to be released. I should be putting out a lot of music this year, so that's exciting...

5. When can we expect the final Brown Jenkins album?
It should be out the week of November 17th-24th, but I think you can order it before then and get it delivered from Moribund.

6. What are some of your main influences as a musician?
Just my favorite bands when I was growing up...Voivod, Burzum, Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Godflesh, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Christian Death, etc. I really like powerful, commanding vocalists and technical/atonal/dissonant riffing. I seem to have an instinctive aversion for "easy" or "simple" music...I like music that is emotionally complex.

7. What are you listening to nowadays and what would you recommend new or old?
I listen to all kinds of stuff these days. Just recently I've been going through and trying to review all of the Aube recordings I can find. I've been listening to a lot of Australian thrash/death, power electronics, dark ambient, dub, reggae, etc. I listen to black or death metal very rarely. I don't know that I can recommend anything to anyone now...in terms of music I tend to kind of exist in the past. I do a lot of scouring of mp3 blogs, listening to stuff that's 20 years old. I did enjoy that Anael album that recently resurfaced, I've been seeing lots of people paying attention to Order from Chaos again...when people ask me what to listen to I usually point them at Negative Plane. There are very, very few contemporary black metal bands now that I listen to or even like. A lot of the time I'll listen to them in order to remind myself what NOT to do with music.

8. What role does Satanism or Occultism play in the music of Brown Jenkins?
Well, I'm very interested in both satanism and occult subjects and enjoy studying them...but I can't really say that they have any influence in my music whatsoever. It's such a cliche in heavy metal to write about such things...I could never do it. It doesn't touch me deeply enough to inspire anything worthwhile. I'm an atheist so you can probably guess how I view most occult stuff. It's fascinating, of course, but mostly from a sociological standpoint. The bands who profess to be satanists, left hand path occultists, etc. are either liars or insane, in my opinion. Oh well. Whatever helps them write music, eh? Whatever helps them create a sense of "mystery". I think there are only two real domains of "darkness" in human behavior (which can then be written about without sounding like an idiot): mental illness and sadism.

9. What are some good films or literature that you would recommend?
Honestly...these days, I don't feel I can recommend anything to anyone. Everyone needs to find their own path. In terms of reading...I mainly go through history, cultural/critical theory, poetry, etc. Every now and then I'll go back and read some of my favorite writers of fiction. Camus, Ballard, Howard, Gibson, etc. Most of the time I'm reading nonfiction or ancient history or whatever. I tend to mainly watch documentaries. The sad truth is that I've read or seen almost everything else. I'm not one of those people who can read/see things over and over again.

10. How have metal fans react to your musical style so far?
Well, you find some people who "get" what's happening in the music and can actually feel it, then you have others who don't hear it at all and don't understand it. There's not much you can do about that. Music is direct in its impact. Of course it can be picked apart and analyzed to death, etc. but if it doesn't have a visceral power people will never hold on to it for very long. My music is mainly emotional...it tries to replicate what I'm feeling when I write it. It's just...the nature of the thing that people aren't going to be able to feel the same things. I would guess that people who have had experiences similar to mine would "get" it. The other people don't really matter to me. Life is too short to worry about people who can't hear you when you're speaking directly into their ear. There are 6 billion people on this planet, you know? How many do you really have to talk to before you feel validated as an artist?

11. Any final words?
No, not really. ;) Thanks for this interview and for your support, I appreciate it. If people want to know more about Brown Jenkins, hear some music, etc. they can go to:http://www.myspace.com/brownjenkins13http://www.myspace.com/asheatershttp://www.moribundcult.com/Cheers, and good luck with your blog/magazine. U

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