New Angelus Novus album “As Though” out soon – and RockStar Leandra Ghoulish is in to talk about Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and the inspiration for “Pure Metaphysical Suicide”
Leandra Ghoulish of Angelus Novus, welcome back to The Sewers! We congratulate you!
Hi, what’s up?
Your new album, As Though, is to be released in about a month, and soon after you’re set out to a huge international tour.
Your EP from the new album, titled “Pure Metaphysical Suicide” is quite, uhm, heavy.
It’s 14 minutes long.
So? You know, I know how everyone talks about how a song should give you everything in the first 15 seconds coz like if listeners don’t get this instant gratification they just move on to the next one. We’re not into this manufacturing of tracks. I love hard on rock n’ roll, compact, rigid, and the Angelus does that too, but I also love a good build up, and if you don’t have the attention span to listen to it, then maybe you really should tune into something else.
Right, but to release that as an EP, it’s exceptional. Or are all songs in your new album over 10 minutes long?
You’re just gonna have to wait and see.
Please tell us about your inspiration for this song.
I’ll talk about it once the entire album is out.
Give us a sneak preview.
Well I didn’t talk about it for a long time for a reason. It’s real heavy stuff that we got into throughout 2017 and we didn’t really talk about it with the outside world, you know? It was mostly with Lenny and Marcus and Julian that I got into this.
Some more Walter Benjamin?
Also, yeah, sure, but not only.
Salvoj Zizek? I couldn’t help but noticing the song title quotes the last words spoken in his 2005 film.
Oh yeah! It’s cool you noticed. I mean Julian pointed that out to me, we didn’t title the song consciously after that, but I guess it was there, yeah.
So what’s your conscious influence?
There’s no such thing as conscious influence, but we’ve been listening to a lot of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds last year –
You were spotted in their concerts on their 2017 tour –
Yeah, we’ve sunk into their music from the 80’s and some early 90’s, you know, From her to Eternity, The firstborn is dead, before Let Love In, it felt really experimental in a way, and it’s experimental only in the way that they seem to become more cohesive later on, but then again they never did actually. Become cohesive that is. And it’s inspiring, it’s rare. So it was just sheer curiosity to begin with, I mean this band’s been active for more than 30 years now and I’ve always heard them but I guess I never truly listened. It’s intriguing, you know. Skeleton Tree is a master piece, and so is Push The Sky Away that came before it, and I mean how many bands do you know that make master pieces after 30 years? And then it became something more emotional in a way, I mean in a way we let it in, I feel it’s changed me, you know. So I see As Though as some kind of tribute to it, to this time we spent listening to it and experiencing it.
What do you feel has changed in you?
Oh I dunno, I mean I always thought we were very engaging with our audience in concerts, I mean we kinda live for our crowd, not in an existentialist way but like, in an emotional way, I mean it’s not that we live for them, that’s the wrong phrasing, you know? It’s like vampirical. It’s a vampirical interaction.
Last time we talked, you mentioned being in love with your crowd, feeling as if you’re in a romantic relationship with them.
Yeah, but that’s different. I mean, forget it.
Because calling it vampirical is quite – well what do you mean when you say that?
I dunno, I told you I’m not ready to talk about it yet, we’ll give all these interviews about the album once it’s out.
But this is an alterview.
Oh yeah, that.
So I’m like thinking about this interaction with the audience. I think the way Nick Cave performs, it’s vampirical. It’s mutually vampiric. It’s like people take life from him and he takes it from them. And it made me think about the entire constellation of standing up there on the stage. I mean like what am I doing up there, what am I there for? And what’s this music for? I mean what are we doing, really?
So that’s some heavy shit, and that’s what “Pure Metaphysical Suicide” is basically about, and the repeated line in the song, by Nietzsche of course: “when you gaze long into the abyss”, coz that’s what this emotional experience was about.
Why didn’t you complete the sentence, that it would gaze back into you?
Coz the whole point was to leave it for people to actually feel it, without saying it, to let the music drag them into this abyss ’til they feel like it’s listening to them.
So you’re saying listening to Nick Cave is gazing into the abyss?
Well no… I mean not at all. But it does make you think about the abyss sometimes. But not in a bad way. I mean I don’t know if there’s a bad or a good way. It just makes you think sometimes. And then you can say to yourself, alright, but it’s just music, you know? Come on. But it’s not. It cuts you. Some people just know how to cut deeper than others, I guess.
What’s the abyss? Is the crowd your abyss?
Oh fuck I dunno, in the context of our conversation it’s like, if I gaze long enough into them, they’d gaze back into me? Yeah, I mean sure, in an elevated point of reference, of course they are, as any other human being you gaze into, you know? Like the abyss is other people, sure. I mean I think in a deeper level, we all wanna be seen just as much as we don’t wanna be seen, we wanna be understood but we’re scared to death of being understood, of being figured out.
That’s very Lacanian.
I don’t like Lacan. And it’s not what I meant to say. The crowd isn’t the abyss. If anything, it’s the crooked, shaky, dangling rope bridge above it. The abyss is the nothingness, the meaninglessness we all hover above, like in these cartoons where they run off the cliff and they keep running in the air until they look down and realize they’re gonna fall, it’s that look down that makes them fall – Zizek used that analogy several times – I mean it’s that nothingness we all know is there but if we look into it too much, it consumes us.
Have you looked into it for too long?
Only with music in my ears, and it kept lifting me up. Maybe that’s why we make music.
What would you do if you didn’t make music?
Oh I’d just die. I’d fall.
I have to say, this altersation turned out to be pretty overwhelming, as I thought your new album would be more political.
As I said before, the Angelus is always political, it’s not always blunt but it’s always there.
In an alterview from October 2017, you said you felt your concerts were charged with a protest vibe. Do you think your crowd is anticipating this vibe in your new album?
Oh I dunno, I mean it’s there, but from a different perspective, I guess.
What’s your favourite Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds song as for now?
Oh wow, I’d have to say “Deanna”.
Yeah, sure. Tomorrow it might be “Jesus Alone”, which is amazing and gives me the creeps. The day after tomorrow it might be “Do You Love Me Part II”, which also scares me. And of course “Lucy”, hah! It’s awesome. You really can’t choose. I mean I don’t have an answer for you. It’s just so much… I mean like every song I’ve mentioned is so different from the other, and we didn’t even talk about The Birthday Party. I mean, “Junkyard”, you know? it blows my mind. I think that’s like the only music that can truly scare me. It’s such a weird thing to want from music, in a way, but I love it. I love the way fear can engage you.
I’m scared of “Tupelo”.
So scary, yeah. Didn’t know you were a fan. Did you see them in a concert last year?
That’s a person-oriented question.
But you just said you’re scared of “Tupelo”, that’s person stuff too.
Not necessarily, no.
Well we can’t wait to hear the new album.
March 18, yeah.
Are you getting some rest before your tour? There hasn’t been an underground Angelus Novus concert in a while.
Well you don’t really know that, you know? But yeah, I’m totally resting, but not metaphysically, you know?
Right, of course. Leandra Ghoulish, we thank you and congratulate you here and now for sharing your insights with us.