takes the lead on new Skinny Puppy project
called industrial music icon Cevin Key in Los Angeles (USA) from Toronto
(Canada), for an interview set up by Swedish distributor Playground in
Stockholm (Sweden) via Skinny Puppy's label SPV in Hannover (Germany)...
Their first Skinny Puppy studio album since 1995 is to be completed by
the end of January 2004. Cevin Key talks about the move back towards his
early musical passion, commencing in 1983, and the new processes involved
in recording Puppy's first fully digital record for their newly signed
label SPV. Just outside of Los Angeles, Key's Subconscious (home) studio
is the hub of the record's creation. We ask about the back catalogue and
original contract with Nettwerk as well as the band's future upon the
as yet untitled CD's release.
The famous comeback gig at Doomsday.
Skinny Puppy comes to breathe
After the heavy rains left Doomsday Festival 2000 awash at Ostragehege
Stadion in Dresden, a new Skinny Puppy had been born. Members Cevin Key
and Nivek Ogre previously met on occasion in Los Angeles but never spoke
about their music before the build-up prior to Doomsday Festival. After
reflecting that they both had much to offer left inside of them, it was
realised that Puppy should live on.
– We're not prepared to die ourselves. I have to be confident and
say that it's turning out as best as I can see and humanly possible, Cevin
On working without member Dwayne Goettel this time around, Key says:
– The main ingredients are still happening except that we can't
of course replace Dwayne. I'm sure that he would approve of us moving
forward and working with and collaborating with certain individuals that
he would even have respect for. We're moving ahead in a reasonable Skinny
Puppy type manner which would not wipe out any of the aesthetic of what
we feel we've moved towards or tried to achieve already.
After the Doomsday gig, we find the new Puppy working on a new sound,
intent not as a retro recording but following the past.
– Just by doing it we realised how much it meant to us. If we were
to do more, it would be fun to... not just follow suit from where we left
off. We thought, after Doomsday, Ogre has still a lot of performing that
people would enjoy to see and be a part of. It's almost easier to continue
on and be ourselves as Skinny Puppy than it is to create music for any
of the other groups that we're in I think... The whole essence is that
we can't change anything that happened in the past. We have to try pick
up on things or just put it away.
They're following similar themes and commenting on politics, typical worldly
topics and commentary that they've been known for.
Illustration by: Simon Paul
will Dig It
Key has been very accessible via the web and openly stated that over the
last number of years they were working with musicians that they've respected.
Puppy had always been a band that enjoyed collaboration during the recording
process and this was their plan for further progression. Key has been
instrumental in focusing on the new Puppy product for almost two years
now taking the lead in the coordinating its creation.
As the collaborations began, Key was using tracks created with Danny Carey
(Tool), Statik (Collide), Otto von Shirach (Schematic) and Omar Torres
(Hologram) from some one-on-one sessions. Of the 40 song demos completed,
the bulk were singly written by Key himself. From the many demos that
Ogre would listen to, the more appropriate songs for his lyrical content
were selected to continue on.
We find Ken Marshall (The Dragon Experience) mixing and Mark Walk (Ohgr)
helping with writing, production and even some guitar. Pat Sprawl from
the Process Sessions also contributes some guitar to the new album as
Key admits as the vocals have forced hairs to stand on end at the back
of his head upon listening to the newly completed tracks.
– The old Ogre is back. It's been a while. This feeling is definitely
back on many levels. People are definitely gonna Dig It.
Ogre live at Doomsday.
Photo by: Alex Veronac
How will the addition of collaborators affect the sound of the new
– To toss ideas around without having someone to bounce ideas off
is to me, a one-sided event. So the collaborators have been tossing in
opinions, variations and other things typical of Skinny Puppy... there's
always been a certain amount of collaboration. It always essentially starts
off as discussion and then it gets realised. With today's technology,
we've moved in a direction where each of us has our own studio.
The several musicians were never present at the same time in the studio
as many sound files were exchanged in different formats (Logic Audio,
Digital Performer, Pro Tools & Nuendo) to those involved in this digital
– The ideas end up here at Subconscious Studios and then, from here,
it goes back to Ogre and Mark, and it changes quite radically again there
because, as the arrangements get steered towards more supporting vocal
arrangements and so on, and that can alter the direction of the music.
So then it comes back to me, and then I'd would sit here and work on it
for about a week after that when it has the vocals so it's quite a lengthy
procedure. It then leaves me and it will go back to a group thing where
it will be me, Ken and Mark where it goes to a Neve or something like
that and a final mix out.
Three early recorded demo tracks with working titles were packaged onto
CD while the band worked on attaining a new record deal. Key mentions
it took about a year longer that he originally thought, as it was being
shopped. These three tracks are now reworked from their original form
for the new album. Puppy's contribution to the "Underworld"
soundtrack CD, "Optimissed", was only a demo mix, he admits.
– It was not mixed the way we would normally do it.
It might show up completed as a B-side of a future release. Now, three
unique new songs are complete with about twelve total picked for the new
album package. Many new era Puppy demo tracks were initially composed
and recorded by Key alone at Subconscious Studios. The album is in the
final mixing stage with a few tracks fully completed and the working title
has not been disclosed yet.
– The music will speak for itself, I think you'll be stoked!
Ogre, Key, Goettel. "Process"
to avoid previous mess
Key speaking to us from a warm Los Angeles, is very upbeat about the new
record licensing contract with SPV sub label Synthetic Symphony. He feels
all the points have been addressed in their licensing contract with the
– We'll be able to produce this album (laughs) without the noodlings
and manipulations of the last situation which I think ended up messing
things up for the band.
The band has new management and will have more dialogue with the type
of promotion and press coverage they intend on getting (like with Release
perhaps). Packaging of the new product is one of the items that Key is
also proud of as the band has always been active in developing their image.
He hopes to have a great product available for purchasers of the new music.
American fans will be happy to know that SPV America will be stocking
shelves at US retailers upon the new record's release in Spring 2004.
SPV is looking to bulk up their American market presence, also with the
new Front Line Assembly album.
– I see no better way than attacking SPV's US market with Skinny
Key feels the licensing deal with SPV will place their music into more
international markets than a conventional American label's distribution
reach. The recent Subconscious "From the Vault" subscription
series discs will not be re-released through SPV but a couple Puppy items
might be made available at the merchanding tables on their upcoming tour.
says, buy Canadian if you can
We spoke about the vast back catalogue that Nettwerk Records permanently
owns since next year will spark sales of older material to a newer audience.
– Let's just say we've had some issues that are totally unresolved.
20 years after their initial EP release, Nettwerk will not respond to
their telephone calls regarding their now vintage recording contract.
– I think they pay us a dollar (on a sale) and they keep $6.
Due to the original contract with the label Puppy helped to build, Key
comments that the band gets a higher royalty payment per back catalogue
CD if the product is bought on Canadian soil. The Vancouver based label's
agreement sees all countries outside of home country Canada as a foreign
territory and pays the band considerably less per CD sold there. He feels
the band is not getting a fair share of record royalties considering that
of today's typical new artist's recording contracts.
– It's very, very not right considering the length of time we've
been with them and also when we approach them they won't modify the situation
to be just fair.
Photo by: Alex Veronac
world tour; their most extensive
Genesis P-Orridge wasn't part of the band's recent activities this time
– The door was opened long ago. It hasn't happened so far for this
album. I see him as part of the extended family. I think Genesis has a
direction that he's following through as well. If we come together and
we do some shows or something like that...
Key mentions that if Puppy were to have their project ready, they'd love
to be a part of the RE-TG Industrial Music festival weekend in Camber
Sands, UK, in May 2004. Differing from Doomsday fest set list, more older
songs with the new songs featured. Four performers will likely be on stage
during next year's planned Puppy tour reminding us of the Dave "Rave"
Ogilvie camaraderie in past touring. Puppy plans on doing "a lot
of dates" next year with older songs and many surprises thrown in.
Key would welcome Carey to drum on the upcoming tour but his 2004 schedule
probably wouldn't allow it. Lollapalooza has been in contact with the
band but Puppy's aggressive 2004 schedule would not allow for the US based
Bill Morrison (Ohgr, sixtynine) will be heavily involved in the Skinny
Puppy live show visuals to be announced later. The band's hopes are to
provide a glimpse of the tour experience in 2004 on a new DVD with some
vintage footage included. For those not present at Doomsday 2000, the
live reunion content will finally be packaged visually in a DVD in some
form for all to see.
A new band website (skinnypuppy.com)
with rarities and "goodies" might even offer the possibility
of gig after party passes to Skinny Puppy club members. Key believes it
won't be a problem reaching worldwide fans on this tour as it'll be their
most extensive to date.
These are very exciting times indeed as a new Skinny Puppy history is
being written and the dark scene might noticeably be transformed.
See our Spotlight on Skinny Puppy's Ogre.
See our review of Skinny Puppy's last major release here.
A huge Skinny Puppy feature, based upon a Cevin Key interview, can be
found in the printed Release edition 1/96.