Though Curse Mackey has had a long career in the music industry it is seldom that you have heard his name in mention by itself. Always supporting or being a part of or leading a new band in the goth and industrial scene, it has been long overdue for Mackey to register his own name as a project in its own right. And, well, Curse Mackey has done exactly that. Now signed with Negative Gain Productions and with his debut album coming out on May 10th, 2019 (pre-order HERE), we chatted with Mackey about his solo project, the now infamous Bauhaus show, and so much more! Read on below!
So, let’s begin off with the basics for those who don’t know you. Who are you, what project are you in, and what’s your favorite album of all time?
Curse Mackey: Well hello Brutal Resonance, my name is Curse Mackey of the project and celestial entity of the same name. My favorite album of all-time is "HITS" by The Birthday Party. Skinny Puppy’s "Too Dark Park" and Godflesh's "Streetcleaner" should be noted as well.
You are a very busy person. You are part of Pigface as well as My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and you play live with Clan of Xymox. So, what made you want to put out an album under your solo name? Did you want complete creative freedom or was it something else?
Curse Mackey: I wanted to create a new release as I started performing solo over the last couple of years and wanted something new to play live that reflects where I am at now. Rather than forming a new band, I am working solo so that I don’t miss opportunities based on others availability, interest, financial, physical or emotional state. Being involved in Pigface, Evil Mothers, Grim Faeries and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (TKK) all have various levels of involvement, ownership, constraint and influences in the creative process. So with this album, it’s really the first time that I alone am solely responsible for the end result. I got to challenge myself to reach new territory creatively. It was very gratifying to write from a new perspective and not be contained or constrained to write music in any other way other than what felt right and new.
I would like to clarify that while I have toured with Clan of Xymox and been a guest performer on stage with them I am not a touring member. However, one of my fave people, Ronny Moorings of Clan of Xymox played guitar on the song 'Submerge' from my album. I’ve been a fan of Ronny’s work for so long so that was a huge highlight for me. Which means I also have to put the first, self-titled Clan of Xymox album on my all-time fave list you got me going on.
And let’s get started talking about “Instant Exorcism”. Starting with the title of the album, is this meant to be taken literally or is there a deeper meaning behind the name of the album? Better yet, is there an overall theme to the album?
Curse Mackey: The album is quite dystopian in it’s attitude and thematic approach. I think we can all use an Instant Exorcism at times. It’s a “tabula rasa”, cleaning of the slate moment where we can clear our mental and emotional image and get something off of our chest, express how we feel, fight through the problems of the day so we may get to a higher plane of existence and clarity. The prevalent theme of the album is about transformation, both on a personal and cultural level. We’re in a very twisted time, and the music reflects the chaos, information distortions, and social and intimate challenges we all face in our day to day lives, from the demons of our past, as well as those that are sure to show themselves in the future. You’ll find that I do write with a great amount of innuendo and double-meaning though so the meaning could be entirely different based on the individual listener.
Onto the cover art, then. First off all it’s very striking to my eyes at the very least. Who created the artwork and what is it supposed to represent?
Curse Mackey: Very cool, I'm glad you like it. I created a series of thirteen paintings while I was working on the album. These paintings became the source material for the album artwork. The paintings were photographed by Rona Rougeheart of the band SINE, who then used the photos to design the album artwork.
I’ve always been highly interested in surrealism and “Beat Generation” artists and writers such as Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs, as well as contemporary pop and urban street art. My own writing and art evokes a stream of conscious, cut-up collage approach to experimenting with sound, words and graphics and finding hidden, unexpected meaning in juxtaposing words and images. The paintings I created for Instant Exorcism are representative of the environment in which the protagonists and antagonists within the songs exist. You could say the paintings are the street art of this mythological, post-fictional version of our world, the world of instant Exorcism.
As varied as your career is with the album and with only two songs available so far off of ‘Instant Exorcism’, I’m receiving a grab-bag of genre influences on the album already. I’m feeling the bouncy rhythms of EBM, the dirt and grim present in industrial music, yet the melodic chords found in post-punk anthems. How did you go about combining all these genres into one neat package?
Curse Mackey: It was a fairly deliberate approach to take the best of the genres that I resonate with and mold them into something that is uniquely me. Something that recognizes and honors what’s come before but is in no way constrained or obligated to it. Working with both my co-producer Chase Dobson, as well as Charles Godfrey, who engineered a lot of this record, we were very cognizant of creating an album that would resonate with people that enjoy dark, alternative rock, industrial, electronic, post-punk music. This is the kind of music that I love so it comes very naturally to me. I think that we merged these various elements and sonic environments in a very successful, contemporary way. This record is not at all meant to sound like a throwback. Instant Exorcism is meant to be a very forward thinking, vastly diverse listening experience. You’ll hear my influences, perhaps, and why not as they are great artists, but this album does not sound like anyone else. It’s distinctly the sound of me, at this point in my life, with some great contributions in the studio from some key friends.
This is always my favorite questions to ask musicians as it is a tough one. That being said, what is your favorite song on the album and why?
Curse Mackey: Ha! That's a tough question because the answer can change almost everyday, right? My favorite song on the album is called 'Secrets of the Resurrection'. This song challenged me to paint with the broadest strokes possible and to reach further in what I could do as a songwriter on this first record. It’s got a bit of a Nick Cave inspired lyrical approach and a cool, catchy post-punk swagger musically. You might almost say it’s a love song, complete with a happy ending! (Laughs) I can't believe that I would actually write something like that, but again, this song challenged me to believe that a message of hope and simplistic clarity in such dystopian, dark times can actually exist and be conveyed in my material. It was the last song I wrote for the record so I think it comes with a sense of accomplishment as well.
Now, there are a ton of record labels in the world, but you went with Negative Gain Productions. Out of all the record labels on the market, why did you choose to sign with them?
Curse Mackey: So yes, I talked to a handful of labels that I thought would be a good home for the album. Negative Gain already has an excellent catalog of dark, electronic music with artists all very unique unto themselves so that was a big plus for me. The ultimate difference was in their energy and willingness to jump right in, to create a deal that we were all totally happy with in a short amount of time and immediately start working on the release. All other labels had some particular issue that didn’t meet with what I needed as an artist to have as successful release possible at this time. I finished the album in February 2019, we had a deal signed in March that we announced at SXSW and now the album will be out exactly in time to coincide with my US tour supporting my old-band mates My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult starting May 5th in Vegas!
I feel like Negative Gain has the potential to make a cultural impact on the future of dark, electronic music much like Wax Trax, Mute and 4AD did in the past. Their enthusiasm is infectious, in a good way.
May 10th is the release date for the album. Do you have any shows, tours, or one-shots planned to promote the album? If so, are their dates available as of just yet?
Curse Mackey: So as I mentioned I have a full US tour starting in May supporting My Life with the Thrill kill Kult. In addition, I will be performing at Cold Waves Festival in Chicago, some more fall dates with Clan of Xymox and TKK and several other happenings that I cannot yet divulge. You will be the first to know! Suffice to say it's going to be a great year and I can’t wait to get out there and play.
And now let’s talk about that 40th Anniversary Bauhaus show where you took over duties for Peter Murphy. this was an improvised set. This must have been quite a nerve-racking experience for all involved. Tell me your emotions and feelings on the event from start to end. How did the crowd react to your performance?
Curse Mackey: Well this was a life bonus I did not even see coming. I was in Orlando to guest appear with SINE who were the opening act for this rescheduled Peter Murphy 40 years of Bauhaus with David J event. (Peter Murphy had already cancelled on the Orlando crowd in February, so this was the makeup date). During SINE’s set, David J was also watching side stage and we had a quick hello at which point he asked if she - Rona Rougeheart of SINE - could do what she’s doing with her synth and electronic percussion setup during the Bauhaus set “because he (Peter) is not going to make it to the show it appears”. So once Rona completed her SINE set and received the crazy news that Peter was not going to make it (again) and it was decided that in lieu of Peter Murphy that I would sing and Rona would play her rig and essentially join the band for the night. We held a very quick meeting with David J, guitarist Mark Thwaite and drummer Marc Slutsky. We decided as David J said, to approach it in a very “deconstructed, improvised, Bauhaus in dub style”. We had twenty minutes to get our set list and for me to get my shit together before we went on, obviously with no time to rehearse. So the first time I set foot on stage with David J in my life was diving straight into singing 'God in an Alcove', 'In the Flat Field', 'Stigmata Martyr' and 'Bela Lugosi’s Dead'. The first thirty seconds was sheer terror seeing all of the cell phones and the uncertainty from an audience who had just been cancelled on by Peter a second time. Fortunately David J was absolutely determined to give this crowd something to remember and once we got locked in and found our groove we really created something special. It was very cool to see the audience warm up to us and then express such gratitude at the end when they were chanting David’s name over and over. A totally surreal experience and I’m so thankful to David J for having faith in me to fill in and I’m also grateful to Mr. Murphy for his nice statement after the event and I wish him nothing but the best. I still am unsure if I’ve been dreaming this occurrence but since you asked it must have really happened!
And that should cover it! I wish you the best of luck with “Instant Exorcism” and hope it’s received well. The space below is for any final words you may wish to add. Cheers!
Curse Mackey: Thank you for reading this interview. I really hope to see the readers of Brutal Resonance at one of my shows. If you see me at my merchandise table and mention this interview I’ll give you a little bonus gift as a token of my gratitude for your time. And please grab your copy of "Instant Exorcism" today, I think you’ll DIG IT! Thank you.
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I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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