Gypsy-Punk, Selfmade-Artists and Europe-tours
Our big interview with Voltaire
To the german translation
Because of the release of "To The Bottom Of The Sea" we had the pleasure to question Voltaire about his new work. After the first auditions and the coverart, which was presented in advance, it was to presume that a lot had changed. And there were some rumors concerning a tour across Europe the musician plans at last. But just read it yourself.
Part 1: Inside
Cabaret-Noir.de: My first impression of your new album "To The Bottom of the Sea" after seeing the coverart and hearing "Happy Birthday My Olde Friend " on your site at Myspace was, you´re trying to bring up some more piratestyle into your music. But after listing to "Coin Operated Goi" and "Death Death" I´m not sure about that point anymore. So what is the CD about?
Voltaire: When I was writing melodies for this CD, I found that they fell into
two groups. Some of the songs sounded like they were from a musical about
gypsies revolting against an evil tyrant in the 19th century. The other
batch sounded like pirate sea shanties. There was a moment where I feared
I was going to have to make two separate records! But then the songs
suggested a way for me to meld the two together into one story where a
gypsy, after a revolution, goes out to sea.
I think the final result is a gypsy-punk CD with a pirate feel.
CaNo: In your new songs you make much use of an accordion. As far as I know this
is the first time you use that instrument for your music. In return it
seems you have pushed back the guitar-parts in the songs. What is your
idea behind that exchange?
V: On Ooky Spooky, I added horns and I felt that it gave the CD a very
American and Mexican sound. At times it sounded like dark mariachi and at
others like Cab Callaway. This CD was in my mind, from the beginning, a
return to the more gypsy sound of my first CD, The Devil´s Bris. And
because of the sea shanties I had written, I felt I really needed
accordion. The accordion bridged the gap between the gypsy and the pirate
feel I was looking for. And that´s how that sound developed.
Also, I have
been listening to a lot of Gogol Bordello and Firewater and other
gypsy-punk bands as well as my old favorite, Tom Waits, so that really
influenced the sound as well.
CaNo: Let us talk about some of the songs on "To The Bottom of the Sea".
Song 5, "Coin Operated Goi": What gave you the idea to parody "Coin
Operated Boy" from The Dresden Dolls? And what is the reason for choosing
that jewish theme?
V: Like most of my ridiculous songs, it was born of drunkenness! I was at
a bar and the Dresden Dolls song Coin Operated Boy came on. I was drunk
and thought it was funny that boy rhymed with goi. And moments later, I
had a verse. I forgot about it moments later and it wasn´t until months
later, while on tour that I remembered about that whole thing. I ended up
writing the lyrics in the car and playing the song at several shows in
Texas. Every night the song got a little longer. By the end of the tour,
it was done.
The same story is true about my song "Cantina". I was at a Klingon party at
DragonCon Filmfest one year (yes, a Klingon party!). There were all of these crazy
people in full Klingon costumes walking around. Suddenly, I realized that
the music that was playing was Garth Brooks, the American country-western
singer. I was completely drunk and found it amazingly funny that Klingons
listen to Country music. I started singing a county western song off of
the top of my head where Luke Skywalker goes into the cantina and gets
raped by every monster in there. If I wasn´t so drunk the song would have
been about Star Trek but at that point I guess I couldn´t tell the
difference between Star Wars and Star Trek. I completely forgot about that
night and a year later I wrote "Cantina". When I played my "new song" for my
friend she looked at me and said, "you stupid drunk! You wrote that song
last year at that crazy Klingon party!" heh heh.
CaNo: Are there any reactions from Amanda and Brian of The Dresden Dolls about
the song yet?
V: I think Amanda and I share this weird phenomenon, where fans talk to us
about each other more than we speak to each other directly. heh heh. I
guess it´s because we are always on tour and sadly, we have not toured
with each other. I hear stories about her from my fans where she said this
or she did that. And I guess the same is true about me. So I have no doubt
that she heard about Coin Operated Goi from our mutual fans long before I
ever got around to telling her about it.
Recently she wrote in her myspace
blog that she thought it was hilarious and she posted a link to my page.
So there you have it. I´m glad she likes it. She´s amazingly talented and
I really love and admire her so I would have been pretty sad if she wasn´t
happy with Coin Operated Goi. Amanda sang a duet with me on "Ooky Spooky" and she was a real joy to work and hang out with.
CaNo: The tracklist you posted on myspace does not name Song 6 (it just says
"TBA" (to be announced)). What is its name now and what is the song about?
V: I´ve since posted it. The secrecy was because it was a cover of a song
by Julia Marcell, a Polish singer I found on Myspace and have become a big
fan of. She now lives in Berlin by the way. In any case, I had invited her
to sing a duet with me called "This Sea" (track 7 of the CD) and I wanted to lead into
it with a cover of her song "Accordion Player". But it was a surprise for
her! And I couldn´t really tell her until it was finished because I wasn´t
sure if I´d pull it off. Once it was done and I was happy with it, I could
share it with Julia and then the world. But I recorded it as a present for
her, a sort of "thank you" for being so talented and inspiring me. So
naturally, I couldn´t tell anyone I had finished it and she had heard it.
Julia was really excited with the song and she was really surprised so I was
very happy about that.
CaNo: Let us talk about the 12th Song "Death Death (Devil Devil Devil Devil
Evil Evil Evil Evil Song)" at last. What is the story behind this unusual
V: Well, it sort of speaks for itself, doesn´t it. Those are the lyrics in
the chorus! heh heh... The song is really based on a true story. As the
lyrics say, "My granny while on her deathbed, she turned and said to me,
"Why must you view life so morbidly? I tried to teach you right, but
somewhere I went wrong. ´Cause you sing those death, death, devil, devil,
evil, evil songs."
She actually said this to me.. and then she died! If that doesn´t deserve
its own song, I don´t know what does! And naturally, a lot of people
relate with the song because so many of my fans, like me, are always being
called "evil" by people who don´t understand them.
CaNo: In "Death Death" and other songs (like "Hell In A Handbasket") you´re
singing about going to hell after dying. Is that just a joke or a
provocation for religious people? Or is it your belief?
V: If there is a hell, we are already in it. I am a very secular person. I
don´t believe in anything I can´t hold. But I love singing about the Devil
and demons. I´ve always loved monsters and the macabre and when I went to
church as a child, the illustrations in the bible of hell and devils being
killed by angels ignited my imagination. If those illustrations were there
to scare me, they had the opposite effect! They inspired me. I don´t know
that I´m a provocateur but I do find it amusing watching people get all
riled up by something so silly as devils and demons. I mean really, what
century is this that people still believe that shit? heh heh.
Forward to the second part of the interview
Or directly forward to the third part of the interview
Voltaires Site on Myspace
Buy "To The Bottom of the Sea"