Nov 2023 24

The exuberance of glam rock collides with the political strife and synthesized fervor of industrial as Terminal founder Thomas Mark Anthony speaks with Edgar Lorre about the band’s latest creative efforts.
 

 

An InterView with Thomas Mark Anthony of Terminal

By Edgar Lorre (ErrolAM)

Terminal recently released an epic new album, The New Republic on Metropolis Records, the follow-up to the powerful 2021 Blacken the Skies debut. Upon a few listens, one quickly realizes that Terminal offers a thinking man’s brand of industrial, complete with thought-provoking, urgent lyrics draped in a pall of glamorous goth. Originally hailing from South Africa, Terminal leader, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Mark Anthony is responsible for those lyrics and much more. On the new album, Anthony draws from his experiences as a civil rights and anti-apartheid activist and as reviewed by ReGen‘s own Ryan James, who stated, “Forget the notion of a sophomore slump; Terminal delivers on its self-proclaimed ‘soundtrack to a world unbalanced’ with stern precision. A remarkable achievement, and one that stands as one of the best of the year thus far.” With that in mind, we let Thomas Mark Anthony expound upon the new album and much more in this InterView.

 

I really like the new album. It seems to have taken the band to a much harsher place than in the past. Was this a creative choice?

Anthony: Thank you for the kind words, Edgar. I didn’t necessarily set out with that goal in mind, but musically, I made a conscious effort to lean into my glam rock influences a little more and the sound having a harder edge is maybe a side effect of that. In terms of lyrics, the world didn’t improve a whole lot over the two years I spent writing and recording the new songs, and I paint what I see. One thing that’s become abundantly clear is that you can’t appeal to the humanity of evil oligarchs with money and power – they will murder the people investigating them, they will launch deadly invasions to feed their own egos and worse. So, if the first album was a broadside against those people, this one is maybe the next step to say, ‘What do we do about these bad actors?’ The song ‘Dirty River [Necrosis]’ suggests we regard them as a sort of cancer and excise them from society. That might be the only language they understand.

Do you consider The New Republic to be more of a conceptual album?

Anthony: That’s a really good question. I didn’t originally conceive of it as such, but about halfway through the journey, a theme had kind of emerged organically. Society becomes enamored of its own ideals, from the Crusades to modern ‘nation building,’ without living up to them itself. It takes a lot of hubris for a government to advocate spreading democracy when back home it’s actively trying to disenfranchise voters. And if being captured by the so-called ‘good guys’ will get you imprisoned and tortured for the rest of your life, maybe blowing yourself up starts to look like a viable option. Our principles and moral code are completely worthless if we can’t be fucked to uphold them. Even then, a system of government alone won’t solve our big problems.

You seem to address many of the ills of society on the new album, do you think things can improve or is the earth doomed?

Anthony: What gives me some hope is the increasing spread of information, and I humbly like to think my work contributes to that in some small way. Not long ago, people didn’t understand how much damage we were causing the environment. We didn’t know that a tiny percentage of people were increasingly hoarding all of the world’s wealth, land, access to water, and so on. People didn’t understand the suffering of those living under apartheid and occupation because the means to collect and transmit news was not yet universally available.
Unfortunately, of course, disinformation is spread just as easily, but at least now we can get both sides of the story instead of just the official version. There’s a conversation instead of a declaration.

What first influenced you to make or flirt with dark industrial music?

Anthony: I always liked the way synthesizers could create these otherworldly atmospheres, and I bought my first one as soon as I could afford it. Like probably most artists in the genre, I was influenced by Gary Numan with his ominous lyrics and unsettling dissonant sounds. This was sort of a gateway drug into progressively noisier stuff like Cabaret Voltaire and Skinny Puppy, and I related not just to the sounds of these acts, but also the themes of the dark future we were headed towards. I wanted to make this kind of music, but my songwriting instincts just weren’t built for it – I liked rhyme and anthemic choruses and riffs. Years later, when I grew to appreciate the likes of Killing Joke and Front 242, did I realize you could put these things together without losing the dark edge of one nor the thematic clarity of the other. I just had to find my own balance, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

Since your music is not cookie cutter, in the current scene, is it a challenge to get your music heard?

Anthony: I’m sure there is some degree of that, but at the same time, it expands the range of potential listeners who will hear something they like in it. A lot of goth DJs are picking up tracks from the new album, which I really appreciate, because this is a discerning community that is wary of cross-contamination by other genres. From the first album, ‘Godfire’ got my music onto a few metal shows, and that was a welcome surprise. There’s some more stuff for those fans this time around as well.
‘Don’t Be Taken Alive’ is technically a blues shuffle, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for enthusiasts of American roots music to embrace it.

Are you planning any new videos for the new album? Remixes?

Anthony: Dave, the keyboardist and music director for the live show, is a huge movie fan and also a cinematographer. He sold me on a vision for ‘Smart Weapons’ that captures the spirit of the song. So, that is coming down the line. It’s tough right now because as we speak, a country with expensive high tech laser-guided munitions is using them indiscriminately against a civilian population. I’m here to convey a message that I wish wasn’t always so timely.

Do you have any specific keyboards or recording gear that you like using that you would like to mention?

Anthony: I’ve become increasingly minimalist with my studio setup, doing all the synths, sampling and signal processing in software. I have a Vox guitar amp set up with two microphones, and a single vocal mic run through a tube preamp. That’s it for outboard gear. One fairly recent addition is a baritone guitar. My guitar playing is generally resonant stuff on the lower strings, and I tune down a whole step, so this was a necessary step as I was simply running out of frets. Now I can drop all the way down to a low A, and those added notes make a big difference on things like that arpeggiated theme in ‘Rise.’ It’s also great at adding some depth by doubling parts played on one of my hollow body guitars. The same notes will have a different character and the layered result has a lot more punch.
Okay, and for a couple of tracks on the new album, there’s the Argentinian gospel singer Natalia Nekare. I would recommend everyone get one of those.

Are there any new emerging bands or projects that you can recommend to our audience?

Anthony: I just did a remix for RailWRX from Pittsburgh, whose brand of ‘steel town industrial’ is unexpectedly sophisticated – kind of a classic ’90s era sound, and like me, they borrow heavily from modern film soundtrack techniques.
I like these hard, dirty, crunchy beats that Mecaník Fabrík is cranking out down in Mexico. She does so much with hardware drum machines, sequencers, old keyboard synths, etc. – basically the opposite of my approach. It’s like some mysterious magic to me. She embraces a process that would drive me completely spare.

 

 

Any upcoming tours, releases, projects or plans you’d like to discuss?

Anthony: There are two more albums already underway. One of all new material that in terms of arrangements, seems to be a struggle between stripped down and raw and some other level of complexity I haven’t yet attempted; could go either way. And I’m working with a few other artists I admire on an instrumental album that will develop my short one-to-two-minute pieces into full-length compositions. The DJs in the group are a little dismayed by my stipulation that nothing can loop and fade out, but that’s not the Terminal way. My stuff just stops, whether it has harmonically resolved or not. On to the next!

 

Terminal
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Metropolis Records
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Photography provided courtesy of Terminal

 

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