Though he has only released three albums to date, Jesus Complex has been around for quite a while. The gothic/EBM/electro-industrial act is now back with a brand new album on Insane Records titled Live a Little - Die a Little. With that being said we got an interview with the mastermind behind the project Damon Fries regarding the new album, his absence, and so much more. Check it out below!
Hi there and thank you for joining us! Let's start off with the basics. Who is in Jesus Complex, what type of music do you perform, and how long has the project been around?
Damon: Hello! Well I am Jesus Complex – my name’s Damon and it’s essentially a solo project of mine, which I describe as “gothic, electro-industrial EBM”. It’s very horror-movie inspired, and has a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour thrown in. It started in 2003 but has been inactive since 2008. Last year, I got on stage again doing guest vocals with Decoded Feedback and also performing an old Jesus Complex song with a Brazilian band, Pecadores – I enjoyed it so much, I decided to see if I had a new album in me, and was very happy to discover I did! So Jesus Complex Is back with a vengeance.
I did a little research and the earliest release I found under Jesus Complex is the 2003 album I Woke Up Dead. Is there anything else floating around out there? Old demos that you may have never released and the such?
Damon: I did several remixes for a few different bands which were released – two for Clan of Xymox, as well as tracks for XMH, Forgotten Sunrise, Xotox, and Punto Omega. I don't really have demos, but there are some alternate mixes of the first album, which I've never released. I've considered trying to make foreign-language versions of some of the tracks, but never got around to it – but you've planted the seed in my head now, so maybe that will happen later this year. There are loads of unfinished ideas, but I generally stopped once I realised they weren't going in the direction I wanted. There's an instrumental called 'Depeche Mess' which was titled after I made a demo after starting an anti-depressant – it numbed my anger so much that my attempt at an aggressive track wound up sounding like Depeche Mode! Nothing against them, of course, but that wasn't where I wanted to go so I stopped and named it that. While working on the new album, I actually found a complete song which I had absolutely no recollection of doing at all. I liked it and wound up remixing it a bit and including it on the new album – it's called 'I Can't Sleep' - it was recorded in 2003.
Though you have been around for quite a while, I noticed that you only have three albums under your belt: the previously mentioned I Woke Up Dead, Greetings From the Dead, and your most recent album Live A Little – Die A Little. Why are there only those three albums? Are you meticulous when it comes to releasing your albums? Or do you just wait for the right time?
Damon: Well, I am meticulous and tend to spend a lot of time mixing the songs, remixing the songs, changing my mind, adding things, removing things, etc. That's the curse of the home studio. But the long gap was basically that I technically stopped with Jesus Complex after the second album came out. The scene was kind of dying in The Netherlands around then, and it just kind of stopped after a few gigs here and in Belgium and Germany. I didn't think I would come back to it, actually, as I thought the two albums covered the field of what I wanted to do with Jesus Complex. But like I said, last year I got re-inspired while performing with friends, and once I started playing around with the new software and instruments which have come out since the last album, I found enjoyment in producing again. It all came quite naturally out, which is the way I like it. So while I wasn't waiting for the right time, it turned out that the right time had come.
Following up on that last question, it has been about ten years since your last album released. What inspired you to start writing and getting prepared to release Live A Little – Die A Little? Was it world events or something personal that inspired you?
Damon: Like I said, the performing in South America and Norway sparked it a bit – and I also had been going through a period of several years where I've had to confront death a lot more than I was used to. My father died of cancer, as well as several friends my own age, as well as people I care about getting terrible illnesses which basically stop them doing what they want with their life. Although we all kind of know we should be living our life to the fullest because it could end at any time, it's easy to forget until these realities slap you in the face. Several of those who died, I remember would often speak of "When I retire, I'm going to do everything I wanted to do", and sadly, they won't. So I realised myself that I love travelling, performing music and meeting people from all over the world – and decided to invest in making that happen more than it had been. So this mentality was in the background while I resurrected the project from the dead.
And what is Live A Little – Die A Little about? The name of your project has religious undertones; does the themes and messages of your music follow suit?
Damon: It's about some of the themes I mentioned in the previous answer – especially the title song 'Live A Little, Die A Little', which is about getting older and facing death. Jesus Complex obviously has religious undertones but the music has gotten away from that side of things. In the beginning, it was a great name and prompted me to dress as a priest onstage. I was actually a certified Reverend when I lived in the US and performed a Halloween marriage, and I used to DJ on the radio as Reverend Fries. It was a reaction to my disdain for religion, especially the corrupt preachers and priests, which in the last ten years has grown much stronger thanks to extremists and the seemingly inevitable Holy War that's coming. The funny thing is the name also attracts really religious people to my YouTube page. I've received messages that I will be burn in Hell for what I am doing, which is a great compliment.
And what are your overall impressions on your newest album so far? Are you proud of your work or do you see room for improvement on the album?
Damon: I'm really happy with the new album. When I made the first few tracks, I sent one to Ronny Moorings from Clan of Xymox, as I wanted his opinion about whether I should distort the vocals more, or do it a bit more dry. I won't reveal the answer, but he was very enthusiastic about the track, which is always a good sign. Then I sent a few to some labels online just to see where I stand, and actually received several positive responses within days - so the positive feedback gave me the confidence to continue. Just because I like music I'm making, doesn't necessarily mean anyone else would want to hear it, so it's important to me to know it will have an audience. If I had a criticism, it would be that maybe it possibly needed a few more faster songs. I suspect the next album will be doing that.
As of now, how has reception from critics and fans been for the album? Have you heard much good about the album, or bad? And even then, do you ever take criticism heavily, or do you shrug it off?
Damon: As of this interview, I have not read any reviews but I'm very interested in what people think of it. Normally, my albums get good reviews, I think perhaps because I have my own sound and don't sound like a lot of the other aggrotech or futurepop groups. With each album, I've tried to lay off the vocal distortion because I'm sick of hearing it on so many tracks these days. If the critcism makes sense and is not delivered in an arrogant manner, I welcome it and keep it in mind when I work on future tracks. It does of course upset me a bit if a review is not great – after spending a year or two making the songs, just to have them ripped apart by a reviewer trying to be clever. I can only remember one bad review, from some guy in England who absolutely hated the first album and wrote a really over-the-top review about how much he hated it. I think he listened to it on a bad day as it seemed to trigger a mental breakdown. Luckily, all the other reviews at the time were great, so I was able to accept a terrible one.
And what's next for Jesus Complex? Do you have any remixes in the works? Have you any live shows planned for the future?
Damon: I'm working on a new track for a compilation for Insane Records which is coming out soon. Later in the year, there are a lot of cools shows in the works in Poland, Germany, and South America – with some bands which are very established in the scene. I'll be doing some shows with my friends in Decoded Feedback during their European Tour, and Clan of Xymox at the end of the year. I did a concert/DJ tour last year in South America, including a huge Halloween festival in Chile - it was so much fun, I'm planning to go back this year again. I'm working with a booking agent in Germany and they've already secured some great shows, and I hope for more, because performing live is the fun part and what inspired me to get back in the game after the long break.
You have also been involved in a couple of other projects, one of them being Boudoir whose last release Separation Anxiety was released back in 2012. Is this project still active and have you worked on any new music with it?
Damon: Yes, Boudoir is still active and I was in the middle of recording an EP when my time got hijacked by Jesus Complex. Hopefully that will be released this year as well. It's slow-going as the singer is very busy with work and real-life issues which doesn't allow enough time to focus on music. It's a shame because we put together a full live band which sounds amazing, but haven't had the opportunity to play so much. There is a shoegaze revival going on, so it would be a great time.
Do you have any other side projects that you're thinking of creating or currently working on other than Boudoir?
Damon: For a while, I was also playing guitar with 2 punk bands in Amsterdam, but the drummer died in one (RIP Peter), and the drummer quit in the other, so I decided to step back and try to focus on just Boudoir and Jesus Complex for now.
Lastly, I'd like to thank you for your time and wish you the best of luck with your new album. Cheers!
Damon: Thanks very much!
Jesus Complex's Live a Little - Die a Little is now available to order from Insane Records HERE.
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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