Mar 2018 30

Not only fronting Adoration Destroyed but also serving as one of the scene’s most reliable performers across numerous bands, Erik Gustafson speaks with Dawn Woodkill about his music and life as a touring musician.
 

 

An InterView with Erik Gustafson of Adoration Destroyed

By Dawn Wood (DWoodkillMW)

Guitarist, vocalist, and producer Erik Gustafson is a notable musician in the gothic/industrial world leading Adoration Destroyed and renowned for his talent among many major players in the scene. With Adoration Destroyed, he presents a scathing yet melodic blend of modern electro with rocking guitars and accessible hooks, creating a sound that is not easily categorized, but is very much his own. As well, he’s performed with acts as diverse as 16volt, Therion, Nocturne, Disemember, CHANT, and is now on tour with harsh electro act Grendel. He is also extremely kind and personable and has tons of fans, both musician and non-musician. His hard work ethic is clear and it was an honor to be able to InterView him for ReGen. Unlike many “rock stars,” Gustafson is approachable and open to converse with his many followers on social media. He clearly loves what he does and it shows. He is a great support to many up-and-coming industrial bands, which is what this scene should be all about.

 

What was your first introduction to the industrial music scene? How did you get your start?

Gustafson: I’ve actually been at it for a while, going back to the late ’90s as a synth/beat programmer and guitarist/bassist in a few bands, but nothing ever really stuck until recently. I have, however, been active in the Texas industrial/goth scene for a while as a touring bassist for Lacey Conner’s (VH1’s Rock of Love) band Nocturne and some other bands.
It was a connection with a friend, drummer Keith Hirschman (who I’d played with in Terminal 46) that actually brought me into some other touring gigs with Black December, and eventually 16volt. I started Adoration Destroyed almost a year before becoming involved with these higher profile touring things, which also included a short stint with CHANT as a stage tech.

Have you always striven for being an integral member in more than one band?

Gustafson: That’s a funny question indeed! I guess it’s mainly just been me wanting to stay involved in music and stay busy in the scene I love. While I started out on bass, I’d quickly made a name for myself as a great performer and just have kept getting ‘side man’ types of opportunities. I suppose for a while there, I had hard time saying no. (Laughter) That said, it’s super hard to balance multiple projects, so these days, I prefer having a white hot focus on one project, namely Adoration Destroyed, as that’s my passion. But sometimes, really cool stuff comes up, such as Grendel, who needed a live touring guy for the U.S. Tour, so the timing was actually right. It’s going to be a blast!

What keeps you grounded and motivated?

Gustafson: Well, this scene is very small; very much a niche genre. But it’s where my heart has been at for a long time. With that said, there’s simply no room to be a dick or some kind of cocky rock star. I get along with everyone and do not get involved in drama. So, in essence, your rep is everything. While I of course love to perform and put on a show, I also love meeting people and interacting, which has been my favorite part of these multiple national tours I’ve been on recently! Getting to meet people literally from Portland to NYC that I’ve maybe only known on Facebook/Instagram, and also seeing new fans return to shows – it makes all the crazy-ass driving worth it!
As far as motivation, I keep myself very busy with remixes, writing new AD material, and I’ve also been teaching myself how to film/edit music videos, as well as color correction and photography. So, I basically cycle between lots of creative work. Motivation comes with an almost self-imposed guilt if I do not complete some kind of creative endeavor every single day. Of course, I take breaks to watch a movie or play some games, but I really do try to work on my craft every day. I also try to keep an open mind for new ideas and I’m always writing new stuff.

 

 

Tell us about your upcoming projects/gigs?

Gustafson: Well, as mentioned, in April, there’s the U.S. tour with Grendel! We’re out for six weeks and I’ve been deep into learning all the songs and perfecting them. Aside from that, AD has a small tour in summer, and I am going to continue with working on more music videos. No new releases planned as of yet, however. Along with the music videos, I’m also going to be working on some covers that will be like more casual/studio-based music videos that will be mainly for fun. I’ve tossed around the idea that they will be pop songs, yet done hella dark. We’ll see.
I am also in talks with some film people for soundtrack work. That hasn’t happened yet, but hopefully this year when one very awesome group of people in Portland move to the next step with their current script!

 

 

You are very approachable to fans and a huge support in the industrial scene. It reminds me of the punk scene and I really appreciate that. Is there something that inspires you to keep grounded, despite being in a scene where many prefer the role of ‘rock star’?

Gustafson: Thank you for saying that! I truly do believe what comes around goes around. What good does it do for me to only support and promote my own stuff? I love to share and encourage creativity as much as I can and help others, and in turn, I do see that support returned – from other bands, to helping my own band mates with their projects, to my friends who run mix shows/podcasts/radio shows, to people in the film/music video industry. As far as the approachable thing, I get along with everyone and most people are chill and respectful. It can, however, be a weird balance to set boundaries at times and still be cordial. But largely, the people I encounter are super great! I never have any drama and definitely strive to not get pulled into drama. In social media specifically, I do not comment on politics/religion and stay out of people’s personal stuff. I’m an entertainer… nothing else.

What would you say are some of the challenges of being on the road that some may not understand?

Gustafson: Well, travel in general, while super fun, is very taxing. It can definitely put a strain on relationships, and it’s definitely not some glamorous thing. We get grumpy, we miss our significant others, your health can suffer, and most of all, there’s no privacy. Also, not every venue has a green room or an area to get ready. I’ve done my damn guy-liner in the van more times than I can count! (Laughter)

The thing I tell my band members and have to remind myself is that ‘We’re all here doing this because we love it! But you’re going to lose sleep, you’re going to get grumpy, so just try to be self-aware of those things,’ etc. And generally, we don’t have issues, but it’s a strange thing not having a real home for a month. You sometimes feel like a ghost. You’re in people’s lives and are there, and onto a whole different city and circle of friends the next; not really long enough to feel at home. But it’s amazing, and I was definitely sad when it was over this last tour we did with KANGA. She was amazing to travel with and an amazing inspiration.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Gustafson: I’m into all kinds of different creative work, including programming and running light shows to, like I said, film/music videos. In five years? I’d love to be able to even very modestly get by on only music or creative endeavors. In 2018? that may be a pipe dream, but I do not want to give up. I’ve achieved a lot in only three years, so I am going to keep going!

Where are some of your favorite places to play?

Gustafson: On these multiple tours, we’ve been blessed to have been cultivating some ‘home cities’ in which we have a lot of friends/fans that keep coming back to see us and hang. This is so awesome and we’re thankful. We’re going to continue to build, but so far, those home cities are St. Louis, MO, Portland, OR, Denver, CO, and NYC. We have, however, received amazing support and love from John Wickham – a.k.a. the ‘Gothfather’ – at the Elysium here in Austin, TX.

Tell us something about you that may surprise us?

Gustafson: Let’s see… while this may date me, I was the first, albeit briefly, bass player in Swedish death metal band Dismember, and also an original member of Therion (they are still around, yet more symphonic metal now). My first record deal was at 17 with Therion. So, basically my first successful and actually first serious band was Therion, while I lived in Stockholm, Sweden for five years, due to my mom remarrying. it was an unforgettable experience, and I still have many friends and family over there. That whole time of my life feels like a dream; it feels like a totally different life! But stuff is out there if you want to dig for it – wikis, old photos, live videos (there’s an especially cool one from Helsinki, Finland from 1990 that you can find on YouTube), and of course, the original album art for Therion’s …Of Darkness album, featuring photos of us looking all metal in our high tops and leather jackets in a smoky forest. It was a rainy day, but we actually burnt leaves to make the smoke! (Laughter) Oddly enough, Fred Estby, the founder of Dismember is now the FOH sound guy and merch guy for Youth Code! Small world indeed!

What is your favorite memory?

Gustafson: Not to bring the mood down, but my favorite memory was on our first tour, 2016 with Ego Likeness. We were already a good bit into the tour and we played Portland. It was a great vibe and we were received well by friends and new fans alike. Our bass player/co-singer Jon Gilyeat (who sadly passed away in January of 2017) remarked after the show, smiling, saying that he noticed people were singing along to the words of our songs. He was struck with a natural wonder and glee about it; this coming from a guy who always played it cool and collected. You had to earn his respect. He was not easily impressed and he didn’t give out platitudes easily. He was a kind and warm person, just… reserved. It was a great night overall. It really hit me that night that he felt we were doing something good and that he was happy to be involved. We all miss him so much.

Erik, you reside in Texas. How is the music scene there?

Gustafson: It’s a mixed bag, really. It’s very splintered. Our beloved home venue Elysium, as mentioned, gets some great touring shows for this scene, and John Wickham has likely the most killer ’80s night in Texas each Sunday. San Antonio is also currently experiencing a death rock, as well as a traditional goth revival with some well attended DJ nights and also dark electro fetish shows. There’s really not too much crossover between these little scenes in the major Texas cities, and I truly hope that can change. We have, however, been focused more on touring the entire U.S..

If you could construct your own music festival, what would it look like?

Gustafson: That would be a lot to take on indeed! That said, if I did, it would include a wide array of modern dark electronic music ranging from the, dare I say, ‘hipster electro,’ which is coming out of L.A., mixed with classic goth/industrial acts, and some witch house thrown in for good measure! Lots of smoke, lots of moody lighting, and various burlesque performers, and great DJs!

Anything else you would like to promote?

Gustafson: We would like to give a big thank you to Ken and Benny over at Cleopatra Records for the amazing support! We are very proud to be on the label that has had such a meaningful and legendary presence and dedication to the music we love. We have a new music video via Cleopatra Records’ official YouTube and was released exclusively on Brutal Resonance. Check that out, as well as our new song ‘Ember,’ which is a collaboration with Lorelei Dreaming, out soon on Jim Semonik’s always wonderful Electronic Saviors: Industrial Music to Cure Cancer compilation!

 

Adoration Destroyed
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Cleopatra Records
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
Grendel
Website, Facebook, Twitter

 

Photography by Heather Viereck – courtesy of Against the Grain Photography.

 

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