The Cruxshadows

Keith Elcombe gets to speak to Rogue, front man of what in our mind is one of the best Goth acts on the face of the planet
right now. (February 2003)

1.    Wishfire is a truly stunning album — how long has it taken to get The Cruxshadows to this level, or do you feel that this release is no different to any other Cruxshadows release?
R:  Thanks.  Honestly, things have taken a very long time to get to this point.  We have had to contend with many problems- legal issues, personnel changes, label difficulties, music hardware complications etc. and it has been difficult at times to overcome some of these "real world" factors and artistically be able to produce albums as strong as I have felt we had the potential to.  I think we have continued to improve our production levels, as well as improve and expand our musical ideology.  We worked very hard on Wishfire, and I am happy to see the response to it being so strong.

2.    Describe the Cruxshadows’ sound.
R:  Not sure how one describes any band...whenever I read a description the ideas I get are typically wrong.  I mean...Sometimes something can sound pretty cool when described to you, but suck when you hear it.  Or vice versa.  Having said that...I would say we are an electronic band balanced with electric guitar and electric violin....I would say that our sound is new wave, goth, and EBM influenced.  Darkwave, goth, or new wave is what we are most often called, although all of those titles are a bit misleading.  One writer called us Future-goth which we thought was kinda funny and kinda cool. We've been tagged as goth/electro-clash by the alternative crowds.  Another writer said we were just plain  "pop"- which leaves me completely at a loss...  Whatever we are, it's safe to say we are dark, electronic, & often danceable.   

3.    What defines the concept of ‘Goth’ to you?
R:  To me 'Goth' is the modern incarnation of Romanticism.  It is a movement that emphasizes the unique role of the individual rather than one's societal context.  It is about feelings and emotions.  It is about issues of the sublime, questions of beauty (both inner and outer), and a passion for life that seems to be missing from other modern perspectives.  It is sometimes dark and tragic; but most often it is open to a wide spectrum of feelings and experiences.  It is about the spiritual and the profound; the artistic and the imaginative.  It is about life, death, and the greater questions of science and religion.... but it has a conscience...I guess mostly- it is misunderstood- often by its members.

4.    Similarly, what defines the Goth look for you?
R: monster movies.  really.  I think that the Romantic's ideas first got a foothold in the mindset of the general public with the invention of film.  Monster movies in the 1920's and 1930's moved the ideas contained within the books of authors like Shelly and Stoker into the greater collective culture.  Unfortunately, these ideas became forever linked to certain 'dated' visual dynamics most likely alien to the original concept of the writers.  Nonetheless, it is difficult to argue the similarities between the characters from "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", "Nosferatu, the Vampire", "the Golem", "Dracula", "Frankenstein", "The Bride of Frankenstein", "Wuthering Heights" etc. and members of the goth and darkwave scene...It became a logical progression as alienation of these tragic heroes became similar to that which the individual feels in a society which is generally more concerned with numbers and trends than the people it represents.

5.    In the inlay for Wishfire, it states that "This CD was created entirely on a Macintosh". (Hard Wired is created on a G4 Quicksilver running OS10.2.) Why did you choose the Mac platform for the album, and what software was used?
R:  Well, Macs are, in my humble opinion, superior in almost all aspects to their PC counterparts.  They use IBM & Motorola's Powerpc chips which have a instruction pipeline almost a quarter of that of the Intel chips.  And its wider as well.   This means to do the same work at the same speed, a pc has to go almost 4 times faster in mhz.  Macs can generally handle more floating point calculations and have a greater processor calculation capability as measured in gigaflops.  That's why film and music have become so dominant on this platform. The current operating system is more stable being as its based on Unix, and I have yet to suffer a single machine crash on 10.2.  I could not stand the "Blue Screens of Death" and the reinstalling and the hardware incompatibilities we used to have to deal with on a PC.  I do not care for Microsoft.  With Macs the Hardware and the OS are designed by the same people, so it works together.
           Aside from that, the software for artistic projects like music is often better for the Mac,  although PC's are cheaper and have more software titles much of it is inadequate.  I have never had a single virus on my Mac, and they are much more secure than their PC counterparts.  We have a PC, with a AMD Athlon chip, and honestly the machine never gets used...we just have it in case we might need it.  We originally got one to do our video work with but were blown away by its capabilities.  Soon we were using the mac for everything.  Then we got more of them.
           I have been able to record entire songs while on tour with my ibook and have done artwork while on the road.  I really can't say enough good things about my Macs.
           You'll have to forgive me, my peers think I've turned into a Mac fanatic and they are probably right.  I get a lot of teasing about it.  I don't want to offend any hardcore windows users- I mean use what works for you, and how useful your computer is to you is what matters in the end.  But I guess it's sort of like popular music- just because its more popular and more people consume it, doesn't mean its just means its marketed with more money.

6.    Rogue, how did your singing come about? Was there any formal training, or are you just naturally this good? (Believe me when I say we get a lot of rubbish our way, and you instantly recognise a good singer when you hear one!)
R: I'm really flattered, there are a lot of people who would disagree with you...but thank you.  Training....well, I was involved in musical theatre for a few years as a child.  I did some touring with some larger production shows and was active in professional and semi professional theatre through most of my teenage years .  I had a little bit of training, but mostly I've relied on my to speak.  But you mother used to sing with us as seems strange to think of it now...but singing has always seemed very natural to me.

7.    There’s a lot of passion behind the lyrics on Wishfire. Where does the inspiration come from for song writing?
R:  Well, it depends.  Could be a dream...or something I witness...or see on the news.  Sometimes its something good- maybe something moving, sometimes its a concept I want to explore, maybe a personal experience, or on a couple of ocassions it might be something genuinely upsetting...not too recently I witnessed gang violence where a teenage kid had his skull pulverized with a large rock used for a doorstop.  There were 4 or 5 kids just killing this boy in front of me.  I saw it and I couldn't believe it.  I got into the center of this thing and pushed these kids off of him and they just walked away like they had done nothing....and I looked down at him... and saw a pool of blood come flooding out from underneath his dreadlocks.  It was horrible, how is it that people can become so inhuman?  That will inspire you to write something that hopefully makes a little bit of a difference...but at a minimum, it helps you to work through things and do something positive with negative energy.  I think things go best when you sing what you care about, and care about what you sing.

8.    Given the sea of EBM influenced Goth acts around today, where do you see The Cruxshadows in comparison to (relatively modern) mainstays of the Goth scene such as the likes of Suspiria, The Merry Thoughts, Intra Venus and Star Industry?
R:  I don't know.  I would like to reach as big an audience as we can.  I don't often make comparisons between ourselves and other artists...everybody is on a different path I think.  So really- I don't think about things like that, I just want to do the best work we possibly can...then will let history decide the rest...

9.    How long did it take to put Wishfire together, and were there any headaches along the way?
R: about 6 or 7 months and there were plenty of headaches.  We were learning as we went.  The truth is it seems to me that there is simply not enough time in the day...and coordinating so many elements is bound to lead to problems in one way or another...but in the end I was proud of us...and the efforts and ideas that Wishfire represents.

10.    How well do you all gel as a band? Do you work and play together, or are there individual interests and projects within the group?
R:  Well we tour so much that we're kinda like a family, with all the positives and the negatives that are implied.  We are best friends, and constantly on each others nerves at the same time.  But we all stick together in order to accomplish our goals, and I think that makes this group fairly unique.

11.    I’m lead to believe that you’re on tour now (or have just finished) — who are you touring with, and what have been the low and high points so far?
R:  We just finished up 8 months of touring, which is a lot for this genre; over a hundred and twenty shows I think.  We declined to take an opener with us for this last leg in North America.  I guess the highpoints in the US are shows like Dragoncon in Atlanta, or  the show in Philadelphia, or New York.  So many people crammed into a huge club...and when you step on stage you can feel the energy from the audience radiating.  Those are fun shows.  Not fun is the show in the middle of nowhere, when you have been riding in a van for 20 hours, and the promoter or the soundman is difficult, the food is awful, the crowd is small, and you just want to sleep but you can't...because you have to leave from the club that night to get to the next show by load-in time.  That's not fun...

12.    What do you all like and dislike about touring?
R:  I like meeting our fans, I like feeling like we are out in the world making things happen, and I like performing.  I hate being away from my pets...I have a Rottweiler and 3 cats...oh, and a goldfish.

13.    Given Wishfire, where to now for the band? Are there any new musical avenues you’d like to explore and experiment with?
R: There are always new avenues to explore.  We have begun pre-production on our next album, so that should be finished by the end of the year.  We will keep touring and hopefully continue to build our fan-base.

14.    What for you is the perfect Goth event?
R: sleep...

15.    How did The Cruxshadows come about?
R: I started the group in 1992 while in college at Florida State University.  I've gone through a few members and it has been difficult to hold things together at times...but finally I found a group of people who clicked, and I really haven't looked back ever since.

16.    You credit God in the CD inlay, in amongst your "Thanks to…" section inside the back page — how important is religion to the band, and or individuals within the band, and where do you see religion sitting in today’s Goth scene?
R:  well, I can't really speak for the other members of the band...but I can tell you that i have a great respect and a  reverence for people's belief systems.  I think they have the potential to help individuals bring out the best in themselves.  Religions can be truly beautiful, but they can also be manipulated by human beings, and therefor might carry any number of human failings.  That does not mean they are bad, it just means they can be misused.  And it can be difficult to disagree with convention.
   But truly religion is not so much key for me.  I believe in God.  But I am not so bold or so sure of myself to state that I know the mechanics of Divinity.  And it is difficult for me to accept second hand experiences as proof of anything because a supposition must at some point must be adopted.  God really can't be 'demonstrated', but likewise cannot be disproved.  
   Still, God is not so alien an idea to scientific thought.  The 'observer principle' gives some rationale to the quantum perspective of the big bang.  In order for creation to take place, in effect their must be a creator, as well as a mechanism by which physics and dimensional continuity are preserved.  I think there is more than reason therefor to suspect that God is at the very least, a plausible possibility.
   For myself, I choose to believe that in some form beyond my comprehensive capabilities there is sense and substance to the universe.  I  choose to believe out of a sense of hope, that He/She/It is a loving God.  Experiences within my own life have made me believe, but the details...well, can the ant describe the mountain to another ant?  Probably not, but does the mountain exist?  God only knows...

17.    Where do you see the Goth scene in five years time? Would we all have drowned in a sea of EBM influenced sound-alikes, or will there still be a place for traditionally influenced Goth bands?
R:  I have no idea.  I've never pretended to understand why the goth world does one thing or another.  Hopefully we'll continue to grow as a scene, perhaps building on our positives and leaving behind some of our problems.  Maybe we will learn things from other genres, and allow ourselves to to be more open minded... then again, maybe there will be world peace and happiness for all mankind, or an asteroid will slam into the planet ending all life as we know it...its just too far away to tell...

18.    The band’s website is very comprehensive — would you agree that the cyber age we live in is now an integral part of the modern Goth scene?
R: absolutely.  Websites are important to anyone making music.  It helps to even the playing field in many respects.  When I started CXS the music world was smack dab in the middle of the Nirvana Revolution...People said- synthesizers are a thing of the 80's, they're done.  Well, my response then as well as today is- Technology is not going away- and its true of computers and the web, as well as anything else.
        Aside from some tragic cataclysm you can pretty much bank on one thing - technology may change, but it's not going away.  The music industry needs to realize that the paradigm is changing.  File sharing, web pages, cd burners, mp3's, self published music....nothing will ever be the same again.  Sheet music gave way to record sales, record sales to cassette sales, cassette sales to CD sales, and CD sales to...what?  It will be something, but it won't be permanent either... I just hope there is a way for musicians to survive.

19.    Finally, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Do you have anything you’d like say to those reading this?
R:  No problem.  Thanks to you too.  I would just like to let our fans know how much we do appreciate them, and hopefully we will see you when we tour through in the Summer of 2003.  My best to you all.