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Nivek Ogre interview with MOVEMENT Publisher Max Michaels



Always a pleasure to get to speak with you about a new album.  So how was putting together this album as opposed to the last one? 


"It’s probably the  most difficult album I’ve ever done"


Really?  Why so? 


"I’ve just had a lot of personal issues over the last year and a half that I needed to deal with.  And a lot of that caved in and kind of surrounded what was going on with this and however I tried not to involve that conceptually within the record I had to admit defeat at the end of it and go the album is completely, more or less about the influence of others on people’s lives and I’ve done this interesting kind of post-mortem study.  An autopsy of some kind of important relationships in my life and I’ve uncovered some interesting projections, transferences and denials within the whole thing.  I found that a lot of the things I was writing about ended up kind of focusing a bit more on those aspects on my life.  Even though a lot of…the concepts ultimately reached out from kind of the interpersonal; from the internalized things to the interpersonal to the externalized world.  I still have to say a lot of it is ultimately unfortunately or fortunately very, very kind of personal and has a lot do to with a lot of things that I thought I’d already dealt with in my life but I think was a lesson I had to learn, to learn acceptance of how difficult things can sometimes be to overcome and let go."


I know you’ve gone through a lot of stuff with people in your life before, feeling betrayed and things of that nature.  Has it been sort of the same thing all over again?


"This is more than being betrayed, or feeling betrayed.  It’s actually more like watching the knife in the mirror cutting into your own back and seeing the effect of other people.  Being demonized and being misrepresented.  And having people not taking responsibility for their own stuff, and I think sometimes in a lot of ways projecting a lot of their own stuff onto  me sometimes, to become a magnet for that.  That comes up with the myth making archetypes of certain relationships and how people perceive you ultimately.  And what they do with that perception and how they imprint their own feelings of discontent within their own lives on you.  Or on me in this case. 

It wasn’t really like…in the past maybe it was confused amongst a lot of other things.  Whether it be substances or whatever.  Or just coming out of substances or a recovery period.  But this is a kind of lucid period in my life where I was just very clear and very sad. There was no delusion or no illusion as to what was going on.  It was all very clear, and the saddest part was that is was very clear and very in your face and very, very real.  And the lessons kind of learned from it all was the idea of acceptance of things you can’t change.  Which is kind of my own issues of control in a lot of ways somewhere in the back of my mind I always thought things would change and could be changed.  That people would somehow manifest for themselves the things that I’ve done in a lot of ways that have allowed me to come to a place where I can kind of very easily see both sides of things in a lot of people and that sometimes is the most difficult transition to make and have acceptance of being able to see and understand that everybody’s exactly where they should be, however it doesn’t work for me.  If that makes any sense?"


Maybe it’s the condition of our society.  The state of the world today is blame every one else and not ourselves. 


"Yes, right.  One of the most interesting things for me, I always wondered how in the 21st century how a country could be led down this path just being so oblivious to so much going wrong and so much malignant, tumor-esque political driving within a country like what happened in Germany in the middle of last century to a more or less educated country.  But now I see how it all happens:  like you dumb to people down and you just continue this harpy of fear on their necks and people will just turn away from everything.  They’ll just blame whatever they can for their problems and they won’t try to really pursue anything. 

Whether it’s the internalized in a sense that you do an inventory on yourself, or in this case the externalized world where people should be doing an inventory on really what’s going on in the world and learn some things about what’s going on in the world.

For example: now following this path of this total chaos in Iraq where there’s an all out civil war and people within the country fighting against each other.  These things should have been known about before we even went in there that there was different…there was a possibility of secretariat violence and there's always that possibility.  I don’t think people really started to understand the difference between Kurds and Sunnis and Shiite until a few months ago here.  Whereas when I went to Europe, I had the gift of going to Europe on September 10th, 2001 and leaving this country and coming back two months later.   And seeing the difference in the education of the young people over there (in Europe) who are very well versed in the different peoples living in Iraq and what that meant.  And coming back here and people just saying, “Why are they doing this to us?  Why do they hate us?”  Just this bubble over the country, it was the most alarming thing I had ever seen in my life.  But it made me understand again how people can be sleepwalking much like Cesare and the somnambulist in the Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. "


Did you catch the new report were they interviewing the head of the terrorist task force?   They were questioning him on the fundemental beleifs of terrorist leaders and on the differences between Shiite, Sunnis and Kurds,and he didn’t know. 


"I didn’t see it, but I wouldn’t doubt it for a moment." 


That’s one of the most disturbing and terrifying things to me is when the people who are supposed to be in charge of sorting all this stuff out don't know a think about our 'enemy.'  What should for them be just basic information, just generalized stuff that all of them should know. 


"To them it just doesn’t matter. You’re looking at CIA and special forces are getting in conflicts in all these different places all around the world.  Because nothing is connected, it’s so compartmentalized.  I guess that’s what kept this country strong, proud and ignorant for fifty, sixty years"


It seems as if all of our credibility is gone as a country on a world scale.


"I agree, and I’m not going to hold Canada any better.  I’ve just read an article about Canada, even though there’s always been this outward statement by the political leaders of our non-involvement in things, the duplicitous side of that is there’s an incredible amount of profiteering going on in Canada.  Just in regards to arms development, tracking satellite developments and just a whole litany of things that are absolutely disgusting." 


Right, the "War Machine." 


"Yea, it’s just the military complex.  It’s just so spread up there.  You know we’ve (the Canadians) been always touting the joke that our military is totally unprepared.  We have the smallest military, it’s kind of a joke.  It’s an inside joke and an outside joke.  Again it’s this red hearing that the political leaders put out there to get more money, from an already overtaxed socialist country, to go into the military.  And it all goes basically into R&D and  weapons development.  That kind of pissed me off too." 


Yea, I’m surprised the government hasn’t been torn apart and put under a microscope for all the stuff that’s happened with this situation already.


"Because everybody’s profiting off it ultimately.  You know the military complex is so broad and wide.  Again the idea of patriotism and nationalism, those two definitions have been Orwellian speak twisted into new meanings and I think the idea of dissidence has been so marginalized in this country as being almost traitorist.  And again I honestly don’t think people understand really what’s going on, they don’t see the bigger picture.  There’s just so many things you can put your finger on and go 'wow!'  You just watch the news too and see how so very little time on these broadband TV stations is spent on actually showing what’s going on over there. 

It is starting to happen, there is something stirring, but it is too little and too late.  You know, in 'Haze' for me there’s this lyric that’s just like, “After the fealonous right clears/ Into a time never wanted here.”  That’s kind of what I’m worried about is just yea, I’ve got a lot of my friends who are more liberally based and I think that it’s just a centerist government down here, I don't think there are two sides, but that’s just my pessimistic view point.  But my friends who are liberal are saying 'You're starting to see a change,' but even with that, you’re looking at the Senate, you’re looking at that guy who had a miraculous stroke and a tumor and just happens to shift the power ... back into the abyss.  And I’m kind of like, hmmm... it’s a lot craftier than dosing with radiation in a sushi bar.  I honestly don’t think people are aware of the long term effects of this last administration.  And I think people are kind of crouching under this oath, “Things will change now.”  No, now you’re going to see the effects of all the things that have happened. "


Well, it’s been a long time coming and its been a lack of understanding that has perpetuated it; not really understanding that part of the world, the Muslim world or the radical side of it as well.  


"I think it’s just a breeding ground for people who really want to dissent against America in a completely horrific way.  It’s just going to be tenfold over the next decade."


Yeah, the ripples are going to go out…


"I’m sure there’s going to be an energy war … you’re looking at the dollar and I don’t think people realize just what’s happening to the dollar in this country because they got the dollar Happy Meals and blah, blah, blah.  I think that’s going to be an interesting thing that’s going to happen too in the next …or very soon.  Everybody else in the world dumps the dollar for the Euro and other currencies.  Or if Asia gets their currency together and if the dollar drops to a certain point, like if it drops past one-fifty to the Euro, it could be time for the Amero.  I’m disturbed that the Canadian dollar has risen to the American dollar or the American dollar has plummeted to the Canadian dollar, I don't know which.  It’s all quite interesting to me.  And just the fact that most of the money…like Chinese currency isn’t at any particular rate, it’s all manually altered.  They have no kind of consistent value to their money.  It kind of shifts according the American dollar right now.  But if that ever changed and they actually started valuing their currency in a different way it would change consumer patterns in this country in a devastating fashion, but it would be just an over-night thing.  It’s almost like this war that destroys no buildings or people just wipes out the economy of this country.  And I can see that happening too." 


It’s going to be a mess.


"We’ll see."


Hooray!  So much to look forward to!  Back to talking about the music.  The new tour starts in March?


"We’re looking at the end of March or maybe April."


Are you sort of visualizing the stage show or anything like that yet?   


"Um, a little bit in the sense of the visual side but I really don’t want to talk about it too much.  But part of me has gotten to want to work behind masks and be left as an overstatement and more of; you know I really enjoyed playing around in that costume last year.  And so I’m going to look at more things that are kind of interesting angles and interesting shapes for the stage that I can play with and stuff like that, and that’s kind of where I’m going with it now.  I’m just in the early stages of developing it with friend of mine, Joseph, who is Manson’s make up guy.  He offered, because I think Skinny Puppy is what made him go into make-up and special effects make-up, so he's kindly offered to come with us and work with me within our budget and stuff like that which is totally sweet and quite an honor.  I’m looking forward to working with him and collaborating with him on stuff." 


I look forward to checking that out.  Are you going to have the lyrics for the album posted anywhere? 


"I think so.  Right now I’m just kind of…yea I probably will, I haven’t decided that yet.  There’s like a few phrases on the artwork but they’re all ones that are pretty stand out phrases like from Magnifishit, "your mother’s piss hole."   But I haven’t decided, I almost want to see some interpretations of the lyrics first because it always gives me a chuckle.  Then I’ll probably post things after that. 


Right now I’ve developed a MySpace page for one of my dogs and I’m going to start working on that, kind of segueing that into the next Ohgr record, so no one really knows it’s me.  It’s very small right now, and I’m kind of just working on life through a dog’s eyes again within the creation of the next Ohgr record. I’m kind of working on that as a tribute to the over-abundant and sometimes hyperbolized world of MySpace which I find so fascinating and absolutely strange."


I tried to avoid it as long as possible. 


"I did too, and then I was just okay, I started this and we actually took over the Skinny Puppy thing, which was kind of interesting.  I see it really good for marketing things, definitely, but the more personal side of it I find really amusing, even with people I know and they kind of hyperbolize or hyper-realize their lives to such a degree that it’s almost shocking to me.  I do have friend who literally represent themselves as who they are, but the role-playing and the need to mythically make yourself into something your ultimately not, it’s interesting experiment I must say." 


It’s definitely interesting to see how people perceive themselves or want to perceive themselves.


"Or have themselves perceived." 


Exactly.  Your album cover art is very interesting.  Where did that come from?  


"It came from Manuel Ocampo.  Some friends of mine gave me a book of his paintings last Christmas and I loved it.  So we thought we had to get Mr. Ocampo to contribute on this record if possible.  He had a show out here at Bergamot station and we went down and he happened to be there.  We just went up and talked to him and he was the nicest gentlemen.  He’s a Phillipino artist and we talked to him and he knows of Skinny Puppy and he was very open about allowing us to use our pick of his art, basically. So we kind of used it by committee and we all decided; cEvin picked the front cover (from the painting called 'Why I hate Europeans') and Steven Gilmore and I picked more of the pictures that were on the inside and we went to town with it.  The package, Steven did a wonderful job on it.  The vinyl package is going to be awesome too; we’re doing a gate fold double vinyl with a three song EP.  It’ll have a remix of Politikil, a dance version of Politikil, and Ken’s ('hiwatt' Marshall) remix of Optimissed from the Underworld soundtrack.  There’s a remix of Pedafly by him that’s actually quite good.  It’s really awesome, but then again I have to say “hats off” to SPV because they’ve really been supportive on the packaging and really been on this in a great way." 


Its been weird to hear Skinny Puppy on video game commercials.  And not you have Politikil on the uh Jackass video game.


"Yeah, Jackass came came to us and we’re going to be on that.  And they’ve also we’re in the process of them sponsoring a bit of startup money for the tour which is a very nice of them."


Oh wow, that’s great.  Is there going to be an official first single off the album? 


"We're going to be a digital release of this mini EP that’s coming with the vinyl that’ll be for download only.  That’ll probably represent the idea of the single from the record.  That’ll be the dance mix of Politikil and the other two mixes will be released for digital download only for the people who either don’t want the vinyl or ... you know we’re trying to bypass the idea of someone buying the vinyl and just ripping it and putting it up online.  I guess it’s more about us trying to maximize our sales, I can not lie."


Oh no, it’s happening to you!  No, I certainly understand.  Do you have a fear of that, the free sharing of music online.  Did it affect sales of the last album with it being bootlegged so early before the release?


"Yea, of course; it’s been affecting everything since…we notice it the most because we only sell a certain amount of records.  I think people selling millions of copies of records it’s not so fundamentally obtrusive in their lives.  But definitely I think we’ve talked about this before, I’m sure.  But I can honestly say for me I can see my income almost cut in half to a certain degree.  It’s turning around a little bit with things like itunes and the like.  But I think the saddest thing to me is, I mean I can honestly say you know this is a rebirth of maybe what Bono said at some awards ceremony, but I think it’s more true for us than them if Skinny Puppy started in a climate that is happening right now I don’t think we would exist right now.  I don’t think we would still exist.  I don;t think we would be around.  And that has more to do with my idea of like…the unfortunate thing about a Capitalist society is your vote is your dollar and within music especially if you don’t pay for the music you like from bands that are just starting out, ultimately it’s sales that is what determines them continuing, or even them continuing in a more experimental fashion.  Or having to make choices based on lower sales and pressure to make things that maybe they don’t want to make.  So I think you start seeing no fundamental idea of…if you don’t vote and pay for your music with your money and stop feeling entitled because you bought this bullshit hardware that’s created by people who don’t give a shit about the art of music.  Which kids do, unfortunately, and I understand kid’s have cell phone bills, they’re buying iPods, they’re buying computes and they just feel entitled to whatever they can get with it.  They’re buying like designer jeans you know.  Whatever they’re getting now days that I didn’t have to worry about as a kid.  I understand that to a certain degree but at the same time they need to understand that ultimately this music will disappear if they don’t  show their support for it." 


Right.  Well that’s definitely what we’re trying to encourage them to do, to go out and but the stuff.  Make sure to support the artist because we know how much you guys need it and we want to make sure you keep doing it for years to come. 


"I’m not sure about us because we’re on the tail end of this whole thing.  And we’ve been very lucky in the sense that we’ve had a pretty good run.  And we’re not at all millionaires, I mean not even close.  We struggle from year to year in a lot of ways too because of the costs of touring and the cost of taking this stuff and traveling with it is increasing just with fuel costs, and going to Europe is extremely expensive and blah, blah, blah.  To do a  show like this is getting more and more expensive.  But the bottom line is you’re looking at the models changing; and young bands who are being basically asked to not only deal with the fact of downloading but also being asked by labels they’re with working things with their deals where their taking a part of their merchandising and taking a part of their touring profits.  And that’s pretty disgusting to me; that’s when it’s time to chop the fat out of these labels and figure a new model of doing things.

I think the MySpace thing is great for a lot of bands, but again there’s just a glut of bands and people don’t know really where to go.  And getting back to the sheep ideal of consumerism or of following political lines.  Sometimes people need to have that feeling of something bigger than them, channeling the stuff to them more…I don’t know that’s what we’re all conditioned to do.  A lot of people can’t spend six hours a day trying to find good music on MySpace and supporting it; it has to be channeled to…again with people like you who are spreading the word of things or you know small boutique labels are spreading the word about things.  Finding good music for people to listen to and having good distribution."

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