Aug 2017 22

Often the unseen member of ohGr and Skinny Puppy, Mark Walk invites ReGen and its readers into his musical creation station, revealing a few Tricks up his band’s sleeve.
 
ohGr - Tricks

 

An InterView with Mark Walk of ohGr and Skinny Puppy

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Of the many names associated with Skinny Puppy, Mark Walk has proven to be one of the most significant; since first working with the trailblazing group during the sessions for the ill-fated 1996 album The Process, he’s played a major role in the development and evolution of the band’s sound after Nivek Ogre and cEvin Key brought Skinny Puppy back from the dead. As one half of ohGr, he has brought a singularly innovative production and performance style that puts him in the upper echelon of today’s most respected musical creators. And yet, the man has been virtually an unseen entity due partially to never having joined either band onstage, preferring to maintain an active and ancillary presence to the legacy his musical partners have established. Now, with ohGr among the revered ranks at this year’s ColdWaves event in Chicago, and joining KMFDM and Lord of the Lost on a U.S. tour, along with an ongoing PledgeMusic campaign for a new album – ohGr’s first since 2011’s unDeveloped – titled Tricks, Walk is in the midst of some heavy activity, which he is all too happy to share with ReGen and its readers. From his beginnings with Ruby and Pigface leading to his collaboration with Ogre and Key, to discussions about studio gear and techniques, performing live, his working relationship and friendship with one of modern music’s most distinguished artists, and all points in between, read on as Mark Walk gives us a few hints as to what Tricks ohGr has up its sleeve.

 

So the news has come out of the new ohGr album, and it’s been a long time coming. What can you tell us about what’s happened in the interim, since unDeveloped? What’s gone on with the band and with you?

Walk: Well, ohGr… we’re pretty much always working on ohGr music, so just because it’s been such a long time since a release really doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening with ohGr. Scheduling kind of becomes a problem, and we’ve been, ever since Devils in My Details, really trying to figure out how to release our stuff on our own and have more consistent releases. And so, we’re sitting here with a mountain of songs that have kind of been worked on; some ever since unDeveloped, and others more recently that probably will make up this record just because you kind of tend to like them. There were those ones first, but we have plans for the older ones, and so, we’re literally sitting with a DropBox with something like 70 ohGr songs in it, figuring out which ones we’re completing.

*Whew* Damn!

Walk: So, yeah, there’s just been a lot… there’s always a lot going on. Ogre and I are really close friends as well, so we communicate super often. We’re usually talking about philosophical things and concepts and things like that, and that is kind of more what the albums are born out of are those conversations, and how to kind of put that into music, basically. So usually, it’s more than just coming up with a cool synthesizer/bass sound or some kind of a cool drum thing. We’re kind of always looking for a reason to say something. So, right now we’re all about the Tricks.

Very cool! What can you tell us about the concept or the theme with Tricks? As you’ve mentioned, there are always philosophical ideas that you discuss with Ogre. Were there any that particularly drove the direction for this album?

Walk: Yeah, we’ve been noticing a lot of things, just in general, that are in the air in terms of psychological tricks – uses of fallacy in arguments. Like, there are just a lot of funny things in the air, it seems like, recently. And we don’t really want to be political, per se, or be one of the people who is like jumping on a side, although you always have your personal beliefs and things, so we’re more like looking at the larger picture of the types of communication that’s going on; the type of logical fallacies that seem to be presented – confirmation bias; just things that you’re noticing that help people feel good about the way they think, even if the way they think isn’t so nice.

It does seem like with the internet now, people say there are more avenues for information, but there are also more avenues to sort of confirm your own dogma, in a way.

Walk: Yeah, there really is, because I could present a bunch of information that… somebody could put forth a bunch of information that helps to… how do I say it? That makes somebody feel good about the types of things that they believe. Whether that information is true or not sometimes doesn’t really matter, because if it confirms something for somebody, they’ll run with it.

Right. It feeds into their narrative.

Walk: Yeah. Ogre is big into magic tricks as well, and there were lot of different things that kind of… illusions, magic tricks. He’s an avid collector of magic tricks and practices all those; sleight of hand and all of that kind of stuff. It’s kind of cool. I mean, it’s just something that he’s always been into. Actually, we both shared that interest as kids. Although we came from very different musical backgrounds, we have a lot in common, so when we met during the making of The Process, we really kind of clicked in a certain kind of way and that’s kind of how Welt happened and how doing the ohGr project happened. They were all born out of meeting during The Process.

That’s very interesting. You mentioned that you met during The Process. There’s always going to be the camp that says, ‘I prefer the older Skinny Puppy,’ ‘Now it’s just ohGr with cEvin,’ and this and that. So on that note, and I don’t want to focus too much on Skinny Puppy, because this is supposed to be about ohGr.

Walk: No, it’s all good. Everything’s all kind of connected because Ogre and I work on those Skinny Puppy records together and we work on ohGr records together and ohGr records are different. So a lot of times, people ask me, ‘Why do you do this when you guys work on this together?’ and ohGr is just a different thing. It’s really, really focused on writing music around vocals and lyrics, whereas Skinny Puppy is more about jamming vocals over the top of music.

That’s probably the most articulate description I’ve heard of the differences between the two. That’s really great.

Walk: Honestly, we’ll come up with some kind of a vocal line, or Ogre will come up with some kind of a line, and I’ll rip every piece of music away and listen to that thing raw and write brand new music around it to make it kind of gel. So sometimes the music that inspires a vocal line isn’t always the best thing to be sitting underneath a vocal line on the record. Sometimes it’s just the vehicle to have somebody sing. Ogre still steps in front of the microphone and does things freeform in the way that he does with Skinny Puppy, but then there’s this whole other level of kind of crafting it into this twisted pop… poppy… if you could call it that, a little bit more accessible thing. It features a different side of him, a side that likes to explore, so it doesn’t really get in the way of Skinny Puppy. It’s just a totally different thing. Of course, he’s Ogre, but it’s very different.

On that note, from your standpoint, because one of the other things I noticed especially when ‘Welcome to Collidoskope’ came out, you had this kind of ‘Brownstone’ concept going on, and you had this multimedia presentation going on with the website and with disjointed video, and then all of the sudden, a song ended up on a Skinny Puppy record. So it was like this crosspollination between the two, with the concept.

Walk: Which song ended up on the Skinny Puppy record?

I think it was ‘Brownstone,’ actually? I think it actually was called ‘Brownstone.’

Walk: Oh! You know what? I think there was just a nod lyrically to it, but it wasn’t an actual song. Yeah, I know what you’re talking about. Sometimes there are so many, I don’t remember what’s what. There hasn’t been any crosspollination of music in that way. We really try to keep it a fairly consistent stream of what happens in Skinny Puppy, where everything in a certain way, shape, or form, kind of starts from cEvin. Then there’s some communication about the kinds of things that he’s doing, and then we’ll see what he’s working on.

 

 

Because there was sort of this multimedia presentation going on with ‘Welcome to Collidoskope,’ there were sort of the little clips of the typewriter on the website and with ‘Brownstone,’ there was sort of the video, and now with Tricks, you have the video for the PledgeMusic campaign. What sort of plans do you guys have for Tricks to sort of present a more multifaceted view that’s not just a music album?

Walk: So what happened back then, when Devils in My Details kind of merged into unDeveloped, is there was just a lot of experimenting we were doing and we really had these ideas about developing that audience and doing the live jams and really kind of creating… well, it really was a fairly free experience. The reasoning behind that is that the music basically almost needs to be free to a certain extent at this point. You can create some kind of myth experience, and then people are interested in physical product, which really helps to allow you to do those things. All of those experiments are actually things that we do along the way when we’re making a record. I’m constantly putting up old films and having them playing in my timeline of ProTools and I use them as kind of an inspiration to even score to a little bit, because I do a lot of work to picture. Like on Devils in My Details, there was this movie that we put up called Mental Hospital, and the whole first 25 minutes of that record was actually scored to that.

Wow!

Walk: It’s kind of floating around a little bit somewhere. I don’t know if you’re a Mac guy, but I had whatever that little program was – iWeb? And we kind of became fascinated with these video loops and started putting those things on. What ended up happening was we couldn’t put together a really good way to release things on our own, and that’s where we got stuck because the type of stuff that we were doing isn’t really the kind of stuff that a label gets behind. It’s like, ‘We want to have a record that’s 20 dollars and this and that and the other thing,’ because so many people haven’t been buying music that it just really kind of didn’t work out to do anything different than what we’re doing now. Maybe because we’re such ‘flaky artists’ or something, it took us this long to get to the point, but PledgeMusic was something that came along that kind of helped us to be able to do these things that we want to do and have some sort of a background where there is somebody who’s trusted, who’s holding onto people’s money, who’s helping us find these manufacturers hooking us up with ways to delivery quality products on time. All that infrastructure makes Ogre and I feel comfortable enough to do it on our own because we don’t want to collect a bunch of money and be sitting there in advance with a bunch of money from people who are working hard and then trying to figure all that stuff out. We finally got to a place where we know we can deliver high quality stuff on time, which is kind of what stopped us from doing it. We experimented around a little bit with the necklaces back then, but now, we really kind of feel like we’ve got it together with starting with PledgeMusic. Now, if we’ll continue on that way, it might not really be necessary, but PledgeMusic helps you to know this is how many people are there; this is how much of this you can make, this is what people are interested in, and so for the next release, we probably wouldn’t have to use that because we would have a super clear idea of how to manufacture all these products, where to go, how to get the orders fulfilled, and all that stuff. So everything that you’ve seen during that period of time that you’re talking about, all of that same kind of stuff is being created. You might have seen a few little videos were floating around, and there are more of those kinds of things being made all the time. All of the music that will come out on these little video teasers, and if we do some more jams, none of it’s from the record.

 

 

That was going to be my next question, actually.

Walk: Yeah, none of it’s from the record. I mean, there’s always a chance that something could really kind of catch and be like, ‘Ah! We should actually really use this little piece of something,’ but most of those things are their own little creative projects and they actually help us to set the tone for the record. You’re creating these 35 second, 45 second things, attaching these visuals to them, all of a sudden, some things start to stick more than others and some sounds start to feel right more than others. And then people are out there and they’re commenting, and during that period of time it becomes interactive in an interesting way because sometimes you’re reading something somebody thinks and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a really great idea,’ and it becomes part of what you embrace. They’ve contributed in that way. I kind of call it ‘Leading by following.’ (Laughs)

It’s a good term.

Walk: Yeah. And it’s a little bit like what producing a record is like. If you’re a really good collaborator with somebody, you kind of set up a situation where you’re leading but you really let that person steer everything. You try to not control it, but you’re there to provide that structure for it to all work out.

That leads into what I was going to ask about – the working dynamic between you and Ogre. Obviously, you mentioned that you have a good partnership with him, and it’s been more than 20 years now, but because you work with him in two bands, as far as I know, you don’t play live with either ohGr or Skinny Puppy. As the producer, since you don’t play live, what’s the dynamic like for you to bring those aspects of the music and the art of the whole project to life?

Walk: It’s different on ohGr than Skinny Puppy. On ohGr, it’s both of us contributing on everything, and so I take a little bit more of a leadership role in coming up with the musical ideas and definitely on the production side of things. But we’re co-writing songs together – sometimes he comes up with ideas, sometimes I come up with ideas. I play most of the instruments and parts on things, so then also Ogre does come in and do some synth work and stuff like that, but my skills are more in that area of structured writing and putting the songs together and experimenting within it. We have a good balance of those things. In Skinny Puppy it kind of relates back to what we were talking about before.

It kind of starts with cEvin’s ideas and then…

Walk: It’s me working with Ogre, trying to find a good place to connect into that music with a solid vocal. It’s evolved and changed over time. I mean, when Ogre and I did Welt, he wasn’t in Skinny Puppy for awhile and we did SunnyPsyOp and then they decided to make that record and Ogre and I went back over to cEvin’s and made it. There was a lot more partial writing that was The Greater Wrong of the Right; there was a lot more hands on stuff that was going on with that record. But it’s kind of found its place more. So on Weapon, it was definitely a lot more about communicating the type of record that Ogre was hoping to make and finding that connection with cEvin, because the music was quite different on Weapon than previous records, in some ways. That was about Ogre finding that connection with cEvin to go in a different direction with it, or maybe looking a little bit backward. It’s a much simpler record, musically. On that record I worked with Ogre and I twisted some things around, but it was a lot more of a communication and a lot more of really, really trying to find that ‘thing’ between those two guys on that record. My role shifts and changes. I could sit down and make a whole record from the ground up, or I could interact more with it philosophically. It just depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. And getting back a little bit to what you were talking about, back then I was doing a ton of television commercials.

Really?

Walk: Yeah, you’ve seen them. I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I kind of switched over to that because at a certain point, I actually enjoyed it. There was some of it that was really enjoyable; some it that was hell. When people started downloading music and income changed, it was a really easy and nice way for me to kind of keep the income going in a certain way that allowed me to do some of these other projects that you couldn’t really live off of. Now, I’ve kind of taken a really long break from any other work and I’ve just been working on ohGr for a year, and that’s kind of what we’ve been doing.

 

 

It’s funny you mentioned the commercials, because pertaining to one of your earlier responses, and that you are pretty much the producer and sound designer and songwriter, I was going to ask if soundtrack work was something you were interested in. Apparently you’ve already done it so that answers my question.

Walk: I would like to do more. I would like Ogre and me to do some. I think it would be really great. I’ve scored a lot of these Microsoft films and things like this. I’ve had some placements in movies.

You did have a track on, I think it was Descent II, right?

Walk: Yeah, Ogre and I, and I had some tracks in the Jim Carrey movie The Cable Guy, and then Jackie Chan, one of those movies, like Super Cop, and I wrote a theme song for a television show with Bradley Cooper, but it… it almost went on the air. That would have been a really nice retirement thing.

Considering his star power now, absolutely.

Walk: Yeah, it was right before that, too. It was a show called Kitchen Confidential, and that whole thing’s around. I really enjoy working on the kind of music that Ogre and I work on, but there’s the range of things that I do that extends beyond that when I’m working on some of these other things. But we’ll do some of that stuff, too. We talk a lot about doing some acoustic stuff. We’ve even joked around about going around doing an acoustic tour. Before, I didn’t have the time, and what I’m doing right now is kind of an interesting thing. I’m on a little hiatus and ohGr is a really important project to me. It’s really a super nice place to create. It’s an awesome group of people who are the listeners. It’s a really super awesome audience. The expectation is to be creative versus this having the expectation to be incredibly commercial or something like that. To me, I’ve taken a break from doing all that commercial work and I’ve always had this bus, it’s like a tour bus, and I put like a thousand watts of solar panels on the top of this thing and have a recording studio inside of it.

Oh, nice!

Walk: I have like 10 batteries in it and it’s 100% off the grid. I’ve been traveling around writing and hiking. Last summer, Ogre and I… I was off the grid up in an area where he was at. We were recording a bunch of record vocals and doing some writing of music up in the studio 100% off the grid. The one thing interesting about all the music on ohGr records is that it’s a solar powered record – 100% solar powered, off the grid record.

That’s fantastic!

Walk: So, try and find me. You’ll never find me! So now that there’s more time, I would like to maybe do some touring and things like that with ohGr in the future. We’ll just see where that goes. There are always some logistics involved with it.

So it was mostly time related, then? Because the question I was going to eventually ask was do you just not enjoy playing live? Or was that ever a consideration?

Walk: You know what? It’s funny, when I was in high school, I was like a lead guitar player in bands and stuff, and played out and did things like that. Then when I discovered writing and started recording on the early first days of four track recorders and things like that, I just got so into it. I had this recording studio, and from that point on, I just loved to be recording and messing around with songs so much that the idea of repeating them and going out and being a record player for them just didn’t really appeal to me at that time. I just really like to keep making records and keep working. But, you know, you change. So now there are aspects of that and as you are capable of doing more things or aspects of that, they become interesting. For sure I’ll be helping with putting this tour together and helping out with the music, and then if there’s a possibility for me to join in based on scheduling, I will.

That would be awesome if you could. I mean, I still have to say, the Devils in My Details tour was one of the most fantastic that I’d ever seen. And starting with William Morrison’s American Memory Project and he and Justin doing that… I mean Ogre always does fantastic costumes and visual presentation, but just doing the album from start to finish and with the shedding of the costumes like he did, it was hands down…

Walk: It was ballsy! I thought it was awesome. We talked about that and both agreed that was the right way to do it because that whole album, I think there’s a whole other whole story behind that album and how it was made and why it was performed from start to finish like that, because the whole album was written from start to finish. It was just based on this idea that it will connect and you’ll see some of these little connections, all these little bits and pieces of these little creative moments that we are messing around with – like that woman plucking on the harp or this or that and the other thing. And sometimes they’re so cool. And then you’re feeling really good about them, but you go through this stupid thing where you try to structure them into a complete song and they’re not really maybe worthy of that. And then there was this moment of like, ‘Well why do they have to be?’ The recording of that album is one session… one big, long session. It’s not like a session of 10 songs. It was written linearly. The first track was written and set the tone for the record and then, as that song started to end and those chords started to come in, the idea for the next song came in. I’d never done anything like that before; neither had Ogre. It was just really fun. That’s why not every song in there is a complete song. It’s like a little journey.

I got into arguments with people and it was like they tried to find some fault with it. ‘Oh, it wasn’t mastered properly,’ and I’d respond, ‘Based on what?’

Walk: (Laughing) It’s a funny thing, I thought that was kind of… it took me back. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to My Bloody Valentine?

Yeah!

Walk: I remember when Loveless came out, and we owned this recording studio – me and my friends built this really nice recording studio called Pachyderm. It was a really nice recording studio outside of Minneapolis. The last Nirvana record was even dubbed there. I remember sitting in that control room and Loveless came out and I put on that record and I was just like, ‘Oh my God, this sounds like shit! What the hell’s wrong with this record?’ (Laughter) Because you’re younger and you’re just trying to make every sound ‘perfect.’ And so it kind of reminded me of the first time that I ate Mexican food. It sounds really stupid, but the first time I ate Mexican food, I just had all these beans and stuff. I grew up in a really small town. I was like, ‘What? Uh what is this stuff?’ The next day, I was just craving it, and that’s kind of how it was for that record. It was like, ‘Wait a second, it’s supposed to sound that way.’ I always try to hope that people would understand that. Of course, you can listen to the other records and you can listen to all these other things that sound different. It’s not that it’s a problem with the way that it sounds; it’s just the way it is supposed to sound and that’s the way that more people should approach things. Because if somebody really listened to that record and they really thought about what that record would feel like if all of those guitar parts in the first song were recorded like really metal and thick and the drums and everything was like this pristine thing, it’d be gross. It just wouldn’t sound right.

 
CohGr - Tricks
 

I honestly thought that it was pretty ironic that the first track is Ogre just screaming, ‘Sounds like shit,’ or ‘Smells like shit.’

Walk: (Laughter) That wasn’t ironic; that was intentional! I always thought it was funny. It’s basically almost the first line in, and the record says it sounds like shit, so you should be able to figure that one out, you guys. But we make records that are like paintings, so our songs hardly ever go into mix because you add this part, you add this part, that part’s part of the sound, this part’s part of the sound. The idea of deconstructing one of these sounds, like the old days and putting up the kick drum and starting to mix it from that point up, when you’ve spent an extended period of time adding these parts and nuances to it is just kind of silly. I’m no Picasso, but it’d be like somebody saying, ‘Well, that’s great! Now paint this over and make it look a lot better. Start from scratch!’ It’s just a different approach. We’re not going to be producing Beyoncé records or anything because there’s a whole world where those sounds are. But this record that we’re doing definitely isn’t that – it’s raw, but it’s not going to be lo-fi like Devils in My Details. I’m pretty happy about it. The cool thing about ohGr is it’s always a little bit different.

That’s why we love it.

Walk: We’re open to that. Who knows? I mean, everything could change tomorrow. But there are even elements of this one at the softer moments, if you’d call them softer, when I get a little bit like Brian Eno or Another Green World-ish. There’s been a lot of use of monophonic synthesizers – so far, anyway – in some neat ways. I drove up to Seattle and pulled out all of the old gear that we used on the Welt album that had been sitting in a storage container since then.

I was literally about to ask about that process, because Welt, I remember reading an interview with Ogre where they were asking him about electro-clash and it never even occurred to me to call Welt or SunnyPsyOp electro-clash, and yet, I kind of understand why. But it did seem like once you guys moved into Devils in My Details and even more so on unDeveloped, that that kind of old, vintage, monophonic synth sound had been kind of, not abandoned, but you had moved on and the sounds were getting richer and more textured. I was going to ask if there has been any desire to kind of go back to that sound, so you just answered that.

Walk: Yeah, I mean, a little bit. The writing is different. Art is kind of this thing, you know? If you call it art; somebody will say, ‘You’re not art,’ but whatever. It’s repetition and contrast; all art always kind of does that. There’s this one thing that becomes popular and everybody repeats it, and everybody repeats it, and everybody repeats it, and then somebody comes in and does, in the middle of the Renaissance period, some abstract piece and everybody’s like, ‘Wow! That’s the perfect contrast to all these perfectly drawn flowers or something that I’ve been seeing,’ and then all of the sudden, that just becomes a thing and then, eventually, everybody starts repeating that, and repeating that, and repeating that. You never know what might feel right at any given time. It is a little bit about a feeling of what sounds cool to you at the moment and what doesn’t. There came a certain point in time when this kind of ’80s vibe was really, really getting played out; almost like every chord progression that had been used in the ’80s seemed like it was being replayed every way, upside down, and sideways by every band for awhile. Although there’s a point where that sounds cool to you, the point where it’s everywhere, you just feel like you aren’t doing anything that you can have a connection to.

 

 

I don’t know if you’re aware of this whole synthwave thing… that’s what they’re calling it, which looks like it’s just ’80s new wave again. ‘Yeah, but it’s called synthwave now!’ and I’m saying, ‘Sooo… it’s just ’80s new wave.’ It’s a big thing now.

Walk: That’s funny, because that’s a little bit like where we were coming from on Welt. We were just getting to know each other then. There are all these weird tapes of us just in the control room with a couple of acoustic guitars writing those songs, and they’re funny recordings, really. They’ll probably come out at some point. We have all the recording from the Welt stuff and they belong to us. There was one moment in time when we had to redo the whole record in order to get out of some kind of a contract or something; I don’t remember exactly what it was. We are going to release that other one soon, and then we have a whole other… like, so many recordings from Devils in My Details on which we kind of kept recording. We’d thought about doing it as a double record, so it’s like this D-sides thing. So that’ll probably come out. There’s just always a lot of stuff going on. Right now, what I’m really hoping is that this particular moment can lead to a more consistent stream of ohGr releases, where it’s all about us doing it; it’s not about, ‘Well, why don’t we get a label to do this and that.’ Actually, we’re talking a little bit about focusing on maybe doing EPs a bit, and even singles – vinyl and stuff like that, and maybe doing more stuff throughout the year, rather than just having it be so much time between a 10 song record. The shelf life of a 10 song record is kind of, in this day and age, there and gone in a second. You’re probably better off just putting out more EPs.

That does tend to be the mode right now. I still love albums, but I love music, so I have the same amount of patience for an EP as I do for a 10 track album, but that’s just me. I can’t speak for every fan out there. But I do think your audience will definitely be happier with a more consistent stream.

Walk: Yeah, I think so too, and it’s going to be more fun for us. Not only that, but it’s going to allow us to be more experimental. If you’ve got more stuff coming out, it’s really a cool moment if, maybe, seven months from now, we do some kind of acoustic thing like we’re talking about. If it’s been six years and all of the sudden we come out with an acoustic record and it’s the only thing that we came out with, like a four song acoustic EP, everybody would be like, ‘What the fuck are those guys doing now?’ (Laughs) There are all kinds of things that we would like to do, but if you wait too long between doing them, it just becomes a really strong message in a way that it seems off message. But if you’re doing more stuff throughout the year, then it all makes sense. That’s the way I see it.

You’ve got the PledgeMusic campaign going on, so we can’t really talk about the album until there’s more to say, and more to hear.

Walk: Oh, no! There’s a lot on the album. The album is kind of done, but not done. It’s kind of a funny thing. We definitely are not one of these PledgeMusic campaigns who put a bunch of images out there, and then when a bunch of people give us their money, then we’ll go to a recording studio. This is more like we’re in the final stages of this record, so we’re ready. So, you can ask about Tricks. But, you never know. We’re the kind of people who can sit down and rewrite the whole fucking record in two weeks. (Laughs)

 
ColdWaves VI Banner
 

We talked a little bit about the themes and concepts, and a little bit about the production, and ohGr is not only touring with KMFDM and Lord of the Lost, but playing at ColdWaves this year. Again, not being sure in what capacity you’ll be involved in playing live, but what can you tell us about how ohGr came onto the bill, and what are your hopes for the tour and for ColdWaves?

Walk: All of those things just seemed like really great opportunities. Ogre really kind of plans those things, so I’m not really so connected to it other than just the kind of conversations that friends would have. ‘I have this opportunity. What do you think of this? What do you think of that?’ On the touring side of things, just the performer that he is, it’s just kind of one of his areas where I don’t really have the knowledge or the input. I mean, I know how to put together music tightly for a show, and I know a good way to represent the kind of music we’re doing. I might help out with the preproduction if I’m along, but it just seemed like a really good idea for him to go out with KMFDM. They’ve got a great following. It’s a similar group of people. I just really think it’s kind of a nice way to introduce people to ohGr and Skinny Puppy wasn’t planning on touring in the fall. That was a little bit of how this album came out too. This is a good time. There’s no tour planned in the fall, and cEvin was working on The Tear Garden records. It just seemed like a really good time to do this stuff with ohGr. And like I said, because I’m taking a break from other things and really wanted to focus in on ohGr, it just seemed perfect. I’m like this urban nomad, running around the country making ohGr records. I’m in Sedona hiking right now.

Nice. The last question I wanted to ask is a little ‘nerdy,’ but because you’ve been producing ohGr, and just been involved in studio work and production for a long time, what sort of changes have you seen in how technology has affected how people think about music? And what would you like to see happen in the future, if you had anything to say about it?

Walk: The thing that I think is that there are so many tools that make the songs for you that it can really lessen music. I think it’s really great that there are so many options for people to create music; especially if I was just a singer and I really wasn’t a person who knew how to craft all this stuff, then I could go buy Logic or GarageBand and with all of those loops, be able to put stuff down that helped me to be able to write vocals or something… great. But for me, I don’t use any of that kind of stuff. I actually think that music doesn’t have much to do with technology. There’s no piece of equipment that’s really super important to me. It’s always just like what you’re grabbing, and what you’re tweaking around to make sound with. I think people get too obsessed about gear, and this and that and the other thing. There are some basic things that you need to be able to record, but sometimes your limitations are where the coolest things happen. It’s about trusting your instincts, trusting your personal taste. We would love to go back into an old studio and record a record, and we’ve talked about that a little bit and how we would do it. It’d be even fun to film it. I’m working inside of the box in the exact same way that I worked on a console. I don’t have a bunch of different equalizers on every different thing. If it goes this way, if we can afford it, one of the neat steps that I would love to have happen at the end of this record is then to take the record and go break it out onto the console and turn off those EQs in the box and turn on the EQs on the board and kind of tweak it to be kind of the same and lay it off to a half-inch machine. The way that I’m looking at this is if I have this record all done and 100% mixed and in the box, I could probably go into a studio and lay it out onto a console and maybe make the whole thing happen in four days. A lot of times in the old days, you’d go into a room like that, you’d mix for 30 days because you’re making all these decisions. But if I go in with all those decisions made and then decide to run it into analog, it could go relatively quickly.

 

 

The other thing that I’m really trying to do, I didn’t put a lot of this stuff on the PledgeMusic campaign because I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep, but I’ve got some people lined up, actually – some audiophiles that I know to transfer the record from vinyl through the best digital converter to some high quality digital files for people. What I’m hoping is also I can give people some super nice digital recordings of the vinyl if they want them; for people who don’t always want to play the record all the time, they can have that experience.
It’s been really super fun, but it’s really all about the song. We’re just really, really trying to write songs that we like. What do you have to say and how do you want to say it? In the very beginning, when you’re first starting to do production and do all those kinds of things, you’re just so happy to be able to get a bunch of machinery making something that resembles music. And then if somebody’s willing to say something over the top of it, ‘Wow, this sounds like a song.’ But then when you get to this place where you actually have some kind of an idea or some kind of a phrase or something like that, that’s the point of where you start working on the song. At that point in time, God, it could be anything because it’s an idea. It could be a country song if you wanted it to be. You’ve got an idea; how are you going to present it? What’s going to be the best way to say this with the music? So it’s kind of how we’re doing it.
The great thing about working with these guys, with Ogre and cEvin is that both of those guys are really great. It is about creativity and it isn’t about a bunch of second guessing. I just think that what they’ve created with Skinny Puppy and what we get to enjoy with ohGr is just kind of based on how they created that. It’s something that’s pretty unique in comparison to a lot of legacy acts. It’s a very different kind of thing.

 

ohGr
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ColdWaves
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