festival season is officially upon us, and in full force no less as
Pride and Farmer's market already kicked things off. But over the
course of this weekend the festival run takes a turn into the night
before things start to turn warmer.
Area 51 plays host again to the Dark Arts Festival, currently celebrating its tenth year and doing all it can to bring out the best for local fashion, music and art from its most tenebrousand lurid of places. This year instead of talking about it prior, we talk about it as it happens and interview the band Tragic Black, all with photos of their performance and shots from the fest for you to see from last night. And don't forget to head over tonight for the finale.
Tragic Black (Seputus, vISION, Johno, Stich and James)
Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.
vISION: I am a hyper, black haired, pale, skinny, tattooed, loud and ready to party, fiend.
Johno: I'm the new guitarist and also the youngest in the band. I have been playing the gitbox for about seven years now and classical for about four years now under my mentor, Troy Leavitt. I'm pretty much the odd ball out in the band but i have fun and try to play music that i can look back on as a good experience. I am mostly a metal head from heart if you've met me you know.
James: I'm James. I play drums.
Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?
Johno: The first time I saw my friend play "Rock You Like A Hurricane" in front of my whole school in 8th grade, I was hooked. Soon after I went to my first concert to see Korn and was able to get backstage and meet the band. The rest is history after I met Dimebag Darrell when was 15.
James: I grew up in the rural 90's before the internet. All I had was MTV. Then in 1993 I got my hands on a copy of Skinny Puppy's Last Rights.
vISION: Edward Scissorhands & Nikki Sixx did it for me. Since then, a dark, surreal path has been set before me.
Gavin: How did you all get together and form Tragic Black?
vISION: Soon after realizing there is no empty space, Tragic Black dawned on Vyle and I. We shared a vision, chartreuse and clairvoyance.
Johno: I was approached by James to fill in for a few shows shortly after there last guitarist left in September and as a favor I did, but all the guys seemed to work well together and had a positive attitude so we began writing new material.
James: I joined years after the inception. I started as producer, then picked up the drums.
Gavin: What was the main motivation behind wanting to do a gothic/deathrock type band when you first started, and how was it working it out as a five piece?
vISION: "To bring in the darkness is to show them the light." In blackness, you can see your inner light emerge and bring light into the world that often seems so full of war, famine, corruption and darkness.
James: Deathrock is just a label. It has more to do with appearance than sound. It encompasses a huge variety of bands. We're trying to push the boundaries of what Deathrock can be. We just sort of evolved into a five piece and that seems to be the dynamic that works best for us.
Gavin: At the time you started there weren't a lot of bands coming out with that kind of sound. How was it playing the clubs at that point and what made you stick through it?
James: A lot of terrible venues and shit sound. Sometimes the only thing keeping you going at that point is the drive to redeem yourselves for the last awful performance.
vISION: Cause & Effect. Intent, will, drive. We have an inspiration to create something that every cell in our bodies hear, feel and understand.
Gavin: The first album was Articulate Lacerations back in 2002. What was it like recording that album, and what did you think of the reaction to it when it was released?
vISION: We've really evolved/changed since then. The time it came out is when we started playing out of state, when we brought the world the heart and mind of ancient Egypt, the return of Pharaohs...
James: I wasn't in the band at the time, but I remember Bill Frost's scathing review. "Goth talk has never been this funny". I got a copy of it from a friend a couple weeks later and then ran into Derek at a party and hounded him to come record with me for the new album.
Gavin: Over time you've lost some members like any other band. Is it difficult to find a replacement or do you usually know who to find to fill that void?
James: It's always worked out in the end. The band has some distinct era's do to it's rotating cast. You can tell when members changed throughout each album. Every door that closes, opens another.
vISION: The void is empty, yet so full. It's the 4th dimension, the stepping stone between the 3rd and 5th dimensions. Das history: Our line up has mostly changed guitar player wise. Once James (Seputus) joined in 2003 or 2004, so like Vyle & I, he's never left. John Varoz has been playing with us since Fall 2009 and is recording our upcoming full-length album with, along with Stich who originally joined in 2001, released The Sixx Premonitions then quit to move to London and get married. He re-joined after moving back to SLC. Hex has been in the band three times, recorded on our last two CD's. Ashe was in the band a lot of times too, he recorded guitars on The Decadent Requiem. Jesse James Joined after Hex left the 2nd time, who we recorded our upcoming 7" vinyl, The Dead Fall. Then there is Toni who was in the band during the 01-02 era and made our debut album with.
Gavin: Over the past decade you've built a strong following around the scene and have pretty much become the goth band of SLC. What's your take on the impact you've had?
vISION: The earth is still operating on the 3rd dimension, not 5th, so the true impact is yet to be made. We've made more of an impact on the goth/deathrock scene in other places like Germany and many places in Europe or Hollywood, as opposed to SLC. Here we do well, but when you're local you're never taken as seriously as you are in other cities/countries.
James: I don't know if that honor falls on us, but I hope that we've inspired other artists. I would like to see some new up and coming bands step in.
Gavin: The last album you made was The Cold Caress which did pretty well here. How is it for you seeing where you've come in that album to all the prior ones along the way?
James: It was the first album that I didn't feel we were muddling our way through. We came into it with a pretty clear idea of what we were going to do and did it. Despite the many set backs.
vISION: After the Awakening, it was time to enter a new world. The Cold Caress happened so fast. We wrote it in about 2 or 3 months after returning from Germany for the first time. It's a conceptual album, based around my story/book In the Cold Caress. After TDR and having such an angry, political, intense album about awakening to so many forces in the world, we wanted to make an album that takes you out of that world and into one that's more like a dream. Where you are in control.
Gavin: The news right now is you've got a new guitarist and are working on a new album. What details can you give us about your current plans?
vISION: Our new album is centered around the Earth Element and the Heart Chakra. Our new guitarist John is very talented and has brought a great sound to the band. There's been an underlying theme with each our CD's. The Decadent Requiem (Fire Element / Red-Orange-Yellow Chakras) was about awakening and the world being destroyed. The Cold Caress (Water Element/Blue-Throat Chakra) was the winter after the destruction, where the world was frozen over. Now, the Earth CD we're working on now is about after humanity is gone and nature reclaims the Earth, growing over what humanity left behind.
James: We are very excited about our new guitar player John. He has jumped right in to writing new material and it's been great so far. We have a 7” vinyl The Dead Fall coming out soon and we are currently recording our new full length album do out next spring.
Gavin: Any chances of a tour to follow or sticking around town for now?
James: There is rumor of a west coast tour in the fall and Europe in the spring.
vISION: We're going to go on a West Coast Tour through Boise, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Hollywood, Long Beach, San Diego and Las Vegas this Fall, to support our 7" record. We're also preparing for our next big European tour early 2011 along with other European festivals.
Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
vISION: SLC is the place to be if you live in Utah. We've recently played in Ogden for the first time and it was really fun. We also want to play Orem sometime too. I love Club Vegas, The Abyss, Kamikazes, Kilby Court, Urban Lounge, Area 51 and Club Edge.
James: SLC has one of the best music scenes in the country. There is a lot of talent here. There aren't as many good venues as there used to be, but the bands here try to help each other and work together. As for the rest of the state? I'm not sure.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?
James: We could use a quality mid-sized all age venue. Something with an actual stage within the city limits would be nice.
vISION: I wish we would have done more to appear on the movie "Blood In Chocolate" that we were asked to be on. The loss of members and re-adjusting has been a set back at times, but I believe it's all for a bigger reason. Now were in a position to truly become who were capable of being.
Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?
vISION: I'm a big fan of Stem Cell Ghost, Carphax Files, Domiana, Heartbreak Hangover, Endless Struggle, Negative Charge, Subrosa, Riverhead and Cavedoll. Some of us are also in other bands. Stich and I are in a sleaze rock band called CORVID. I also have Disruptive Creatures, an Electronica/New Wave project w/ Jordan from NJ who does all TB's graphics, CD's, Merch & Website. Then I also do Spectre Theatre with fiends from Germany, Sweden and L.A. James (Seputus) is in the amazing Goth-Rock band Redemption Bound that also features other ex-TB members, like Ashe.
James: Vile Blue Shades are fantastic, and of course my other band, Redemption Bound, who just released a new album.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?
James: Do people still listen to the radio?
vISION: I love it so much, can I get a beer with it? Portia at UtahFM has had me on a few times and she's so nice and supportive. There are others, X96 has played Tragic Black, which was cool. There's also KRCL. Cheers to all of them.
Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as musicians?
vISION: It has it's advantages and disadvantages. Being heard is most important. Our CD booklets/packaging are very intricate and take a lot of time and effort. Jordan Livingston, our graphic designer (from New Jersey) is incredibly talented and has been working for us for over five years. The design/look of the album is half of our presentation, so I prefer that people buy our albums to truly hear & see the art we've made.
James: It's definitely changed the way you have to approach your distribution. Online presence has become more important than having your albums in stores. The reality is recorded music has very little value these days, so you have to be putting out something beyond that and offer it in a way that presents choice. People want to be given options.
Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of the year?
James: More rockin. Look for us playing in Ogden and Provo.
vISION: We'll continue recording & mixing our upcoming CD between tours and everything else.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
vISION: Thanks for spending time in the shade in the of Tragic Black world. Listen to us at our MySpace page. KEEP MUSIC EVIL!