RockStar Persona Leandra Ghoulish on taking fire around “Power Inferno” and titling “Isadora” a “feminist masterpiece”
RockStar Leandra Ghoulish, lead singer and guitarist of Angelus Novus, I welcome and congratulate you here and now for joining us in The Sewers.
Hi, hey, thanks, how are you?
Good, thanks. How have you been?
Great, we had a great tour, great. Came back to San Francesco just about a week ago. All in all it was good. Great.
Right. So what’s it like being back home?
It’s some old habits y’know, on the road there’s less of them.
What sort of habits?
Old habits. It takes time to land, y’know? It takes time. Having a crowd everywhere it’s not normal, it’s not the real life. It’s the only life but it’s not the real life.
What is the real life?
The real life – the real life is when you feel real. When you feel that you’re real. Being on stage never feels real. Even when it does, it’s a moment when you say to yourself ‘great, this feels real’. That means it’s not real. It’s like faking an orgasm. When you say to yourself ‘yeah, I’m really feeling it now’, that means exactly that you’re not feeling it.
Don’t ‘right’ me, it’s so annoying.
So sorry. I have to say, you sounded much more composed last time we talked, when you were on tour. I guess you’d normally expect the opposite –
Who’d expect the opposite? Tour life is chaotic as life itself. That’s why I say it’s the only way to live. You don’t have time to think. Like when we were in Washington last month I tripped on stage in the middle of “Power Inferno” –
I saw it on YouTube –
You and 140 million others, I know. I sprained my ankle, but I only felt it later. It’s the fifth time I sprain my ankle. God. So of course I got right up. “Power Inferno” is so intense that no one made a big deal of it. I go rampant with Marcus and usually fall down on my knees to sing the line “bunch of cockroaches in hell”. It’s a really powerful line. It’s great. When you’re on tour you forget about it in something like three seconds. But when you come home you remember. And you say to yourself: fuck, I fell. And I had this falling down face, this stupid, childish, terrified face you have for a second there when you fall down. And when you’re home it suddenly means something. It suddenly makes you embarrassed.
Why is it so embarrassing?
Oh god I don’t really have to explain it, come on. Think about the last time you tripped, in the street or wherever. There’s an immediate feeling of embarrassment, some sort of betrayal, like your body let you down and you just can’t believe it. And it doesn’t even matter if there was no one there to see it. It’s just this uncomfortable feeling, this feeling when you say to yourself: this didn’t just happen to me. But it did happen.
Why beat yourself up about it? You had a brilliant tour, the best you’ve had so far.
So the next one won’t be as good. That’s the kind of thoughts you have when you’re back home. I hate it. This is the landing period and it’s hard, it’s always been hard for me.
When does it become less hard?
In something like two months. Maybe a month and a half. We’ll go back to the studio. We’ll go back and then everything will be alright.
Who are you apart from the Angelus?
That’s not the right time to ask this question, god. I can say that I know Marcus and Lenny for my entire adult life. We still live together, not in the same crappy apartment but we’re still roommates. I wonder sometimes how wrong is it to define yourself by the people who surround you. I always have. Not in a way that I didn’t have a personality of my own, but in a way that I constantly need these interactions in order to know who I am –
That’s perfectly normal –
I didn’t say it wasn’t normal. God. But you asked who I was apart from the Angelus. You’re asking who I am apart from my best friends.
Why do you still live together? You can afford living in separate flats.
Force of habit. It’s not normal, I know. And I know there are rumours about us, there always have been –
What sort of rumours?
Like you don’t know. Come on. Don’t be lame.
Right, right. God, that’s so annoying. Fuck.
How’s your ankle?
It’s completely fucked. It’s the fifth time I sprain it. It’s insanely painful, it’s satanic.
First time you sprained it was 2010 in a very big venue in New York, it was on the “Why are they Shouting” documentary, which got excellent reviews by the way.
Yes, and it was a light sprain then. What I got a month ago is like fifteen times worse. I was kind of a drama queen in the documentary about it, I know. There’s like ten minutes of me talking about elastic socks and not being able to wear the boots I always wear for a gig. Hehe, good times, for real. I miss it. It was raw.
It was your first real tour, with a studio album and a band name.
Yes, it was all new. The return back home after that was insane. I was signing CDS while buying tampons in the grocery store. God. It was so new. And it was so painful.
What’s so painful about being back home?
It’s the realizing that you’re the same you. It’s like putting a spotlight on the same old you, that you forget about during the tour. It’s okay. It’s not that I hate myself or something. It’s like being on vacation, when you think you’ll do all these things and you’ll be so cool and just enjoy stuff, and it takes only five minutes for you to get that you’re on vacation with the same old fucking you and it’s gonna suck like always. That’s what it feels like being back home.
Oh god –
By the way, the song “Power Inferno”, what’s it about?
I think it’s pretty obvious it’s about corporate pigs and Wall Street roaches.
It’s considered a bit violent –
Oh please. They’re the masters of violence. When they say that our saying that they’re violent is violence, it’s just one example of their violence. The fact the local police tries every time – every time! – to stop us from doing this song in concerts – this is violence.
The song is basically about killing all the “monetary-system-cockroaches”. You’ve been called anti-Semite for that –
Oh my god, oh my god, this is so fucked up I just cannot talk about this again! Fucking Wall-Street racists calling us anti-Semites? We’re so anti-racist, that’s what we’re about. Fuck. I can’t stand this.
Some said, more mildly, that the terminology of “killing the cockroaches” –
This is fucked up, y’know? These days, you gotta pick a side, y’know? Our more political songs aren’t about ‘ooh let’s all come together’ and la-la-bullshit, we say the truth about how things are and the truth hurts coz reality is painful and violent. I’m not gonna try to explain myself again just coz some alt-right pseudo-journalist jerk-off decided to bomb us with alleged anti-Semitism. It’s pure lies. It just shows how scared they are of what we’re saying in our concerts and the amount of people who get us. We have some lefty fans coz some of our song are really hardcore political and coz Lenny and Marcus have always been supporting Antifa, like since college. But we also have a huge crowd that isn’t clearly politically oriented, and that’s what the pigs and the roaches are scared of. That we’re reaching this crowd and that they get us. Calling us anti-Semite is just their pathetic attempt to distance people from us, and it’s not gonna work. Losers.
“Power Inferno” is from your 2013 album, Appetite for Clarity. And there are some political songs in your latest 2016 album, Excluding the Dead. Is there a greater sense of urgency in playing these songs nowadays, under the Trump administration?
Sure there is. Most of our songs aren’t that much in-your-face protest, but when we played these songs this summer we saw a huge respond in the crowd, more than usual. It’s defiantly in the air. Alt-right propaganda tries to drive people away from us but they’re only getting closer. That’s why I say that you shouldn’t hide and that now is the time when you pick a side. You asking me about this so called anti-Semitism that some crazy alt-right website tried to trash us with is taking their fucking side.
I really just asked a question –
Spreading their propaganda, you knew it wasn’t right when you asked it. It pisses me off.
You were very clear with your answer –
Yeah but you shouldn’t’ve even asked that –
I can ask whatever I want, and I’m sure you wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re not the type to dictate the questions you’re being asked, are you?
Of course not, god. This is so fucking annoying. This is why I wanna hide and disappear for while. This crap only happens when you’re back home. Things fade around you like smoke when you’re on tour, when you’re back home, you realize you have a ten ton weight on your shoulders.
Have you got any plans for the near future?
Sure, we’re gonna be back in the studio soon. If all goes well our fifth album will be out in five months or so.
Is it going to be more political?
Our music has always been what you’d call ‘political’. Everything is political, we just put the spotlight on it. I think we became more forward about it since the summer of 2011. The Occupy Wall Street movement really influenced us and our music, in the sense that we did become more literal at some points about the messege we’re sending. I think Dislocated and Isadora, our first two albums from 2010 and 2011, are super-political, even if it’s not that explicit.
Isadora is considered a radically feminist album. The Passing Stones Magazine declared it “a feminist masterpiece” at the time.
The concept of Isadora has always been with us and is still with us. I mean some people still have hard time getting it, getting the basics. I mean when I saw videos of our live gigs, it was like creepy. It was like they never shot just my face or torso, or Lenny’s. There was always this camera movement from our legs up to our face. They never shot Marcus that way. They always shot him from the guitar up. It made us sick. Now, I know that when I go upstage I declare myself visible, visible in the sense that I render myself for others to see and watch. But this gaze I got from the camera – and you can see some of it on the documentary too – it was clearly sexist. Not Jackson Tilt’s camera of course, I mean the festivals’ filming crew. So Isadora was kinda an explosion of our anger about this.
Is that the reason why you used to wear exactly the same outfit for every gig, until 2016? And you still go upstage with it more often than not.
Oh god, not that again. You just said that we have an album that’s titled feminist, and now you wanna talk about what I wear? Seriously? God.
I assume it’s relevant, you just mentioned how you’re being seen –
Okay but now I don’t wanna talk about it and now I don’t wanna be seen at all, okay?
Right, alright. I wish you a soft landing on your return home.
Leandra Ghoulish, we thank you and congratulate you.