Lately there has been a lot of talk about how goth music is political, which in turn would mean that the subculture is political as well. When it comes down to it is the subculture actually politically minded?
Everybody reading this knows that the goth subculture was birthed out of the punk subculture. The punk subculture has always been political to varying degrees. There are famous punk musicians such as Jello Biafra and Dick Lucas who have always talked the talk and walked the walk. When they write songs about supporting equal rights or about how evil corporations are they mean it. They aren’t being political to gain ‘scene’ points, they are being political because they think that speaking against injustices is important and something that must be done.
Do goth bands speak up about injustices? Sometimes, but not as often as their punk cousins. Sex Gang Children have recently put out the most politically charged album that I have ever heard come out from under the goth umbrella. It’s called Oligarch and it speaks up against corporations, religious hypocrisy and fascist politicians. I honestly hope that other goth bands listen to it and are inspired to make their own politically charged art. Christian Death is another band that has openly made politically charged music through the years. Both the Rozz and Valor versions of the band have done this. Then there are modern anarcho deathrock bands such as Mystic Priestess and the Creeping Terrors who make music with a political bent. With one foot in the punk subculture they are carrying on the tradition of speaking up against what is wrong in society.
If you spend any amount of time in online goth communities you will see people ask if they can be right wing and goth at the same time. The goth subculture has always leaned left because of the acceptance of those who society sees as the ‘other’. Are there racists within the subculture? There have always been those in the subculture who think that a person has to be white in order to be goth, which is a load of shit of course. Do some people wear white foundation and try to look as pale as possible? Of course but you don’t have to look like a Victorian ghost to enjoy the music. You don’t have to be a certain weight, a certain colour or dress a certain way to take part in the subculture.
All of this could be called political, but do people in the subculture actually stand up for the rights of others when it comes down to it? I would like to argue that there are some that do, but they are heavily outnumbered by those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. The most important thing about being politically minded is standing behind what you say, even if it inconveniences you. A huge example of this are all of the people in the subculture who will be attending the Cruel World festival, even though the person putting it on is a proven homophobe. They will post about how they are for the rights of those who identify as LGBTQ, but they don’t want to be inconvenienced by missing a show. It’s hypocritical to not stand behind what you say.
Back thirty years ago the subculture was largely not political at all. To the point that Nazi skinheads would attend the clubs and nobody would lift a finger to boot them out. Seriously, I witnessed this shit myself. Back then I weighed 100 pounds and I knew that it would be impossible for me to do anything physically about it. However, there were several times back then that I told Nazi skins off because I didn’t like the crap that they were saying. I did all that I could do back then but when it came down to it there were definitely others who just didn’t care. As long as they could dance to their favourite songs everything was hunky dory.
When it comes down to it the goth subculture can be political, but there are many people in it who need to learn to stand up for what they claim to believe in. Supporting the LGBTQ community online is good, but if it is not followed through with some sort of physical action then that support becomes meaningless. Go to marches and events that are against racism and homophobia, and don’t attend events that are put on by racist or homophobic promoters.
I put a link to my last blog post about this whole Cruel World fiasco on multiple band pages and so far London After Midnight has been the only one to respond. It was such a cringe filled response that I made sure to take screen shots of everything, Good thing I did because Sean Brennan, the singer, deleted my post and his responses to it. Does that sound like somebody who is scared that their shit attitude is going to be seen by a whole bunch of people in the goth community? It sure does!
So Phillip Anschutz is an insane bigot but you’ll play the show anyway? Yes, the homophobic prick owns AEG who in turn owns Goldenvoice. Guess what that means? The guy is at the top of a pyramid and all of the money made from festivals such as Cochella and Cruel World is filtered up to him. In the end he is responsible for what happens, so by agreeing to do such a festival you are saying that it’s okay for the top dog to be a homophobe. As long as you gain some fans and some money it’s all good! Right? By golly, don’t you have a set of priorities!
Awwwww………look at all of the whatabouts and gaslighting! I feel like I should give the first part of this response a dog biscuit and a pat on the head for being such a predictable little deflection! No hon, this isn’t about me or Facebook. Rather, it’s all about your shit priorities and your inability to say no to playing a festival that is put on by a known homophobe. That’s it. You are around fifty years old, right? I just turned fifty and through the years I have learned that supporting homophobic creeps is something that a person shouldn’t do, because right wing people will think that being anti-LGBTQ is perfectly fine in the goth/alternative community. Plus, supporting such a person is just plain wrong. It’s only impossible for you to avoid right-wing bigots when you agree to play shows that they promote.
Bullshit. I’ve had people tell me that you used to be very active on Myspace. So, trying to gain credibility by saying that you hate social media is flaccid at best. Here you go again with the whatabouts pointed towards Facebook. What are you going to do once you hit that stage? Complain about how the promoter is a homophobic piece of shit? I really doubt that, because you will be too scared of being banned from playing Goldenvoice shows and venues. How do I know that? By the very fact that your responses are riddled with deflections. Oh, let’s all get together and try to figure out how to fight this? Do you know what would be the first step towards a solution? You not playing the damn show! If you really gave a shit about the LGBTQ community you would refuse to play it. Full stop.
Well, that all folks! I am not going to tell you to like or dislike this band. Judge for yourself how this band has responded to this situation and come to your own conclusions.
Everybody is losing their minds over this festival. It’s the culmination of all of the 80’s worshipping that has been going on for the last ten plus years in society. The fact that PiL and Morrissey are on the bill has scared some people off of it, but there is a HUGE issue going on behind the scene that is even more heinous. Philip Anschutz, the man putting this show on, has been donating money to anti-LGBTQ causes: Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation, and the Family Research Council.
The Washington Post broke this story about five years ago, and the Daily Beast three years ago also wrote about it. The Daily Beast story is damning and really dives deep into the issue. When confronted Anschutz claimed that he didn’t know about his money funding those groups and that he would end it. He stated that his company was diverse and that he is for equal rights. Then a year or two after that it was found out, through his tax filings, that he had indeed stopped donating to those three anti-LGBTQ groups. However, he was now donating his money to two other equally problemic groups Dare 2 Share Ministries and Young Life, a youth ministry. On top of that he has been donating millions to conservative and libertarian groups, including ones linked to the Koch family.
I am really disappointed that some groups that I love are playing this show. I won’t stop listening to them, but it makes me wonder whether they actually do care about LGBTQ rights or not. The same thing can be said for all of the people planning to go to this. I think it’s highly hypocritical to go to this while also supporting LGBTQ rights, because they are handing a wad of cash to a man who has been proven to not give a shit about LGBTQ folks. I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this because I know that not everybody has heard about it. However, if they learn about this and still go then I will be questioning who they really are.
I watch Eurovision every year because it’s fun as hell. This year was special though, because this song really captivated me. It’s the combination of traditional Eastern European vocals and varied dance beats that got me. It’s all about calling a traditional god named Shum for Spring to arrive. I love learning about pagan traditions and I think it is awesome as hell that this song is getting the attention it deserves. I will be looking out for this band in the future because I have a feeling that they are going to do well in ‘alternative’ circles.
Within the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in anything having to do with the 80’s. Everything from endless posts about mediocre 80’s ‘post-punk’ bands to people asking questions as to how to directly copy the look of ‘trad’ goths litter the internet. Then there are the truly special individuals who constantly talk about how cool the decade was and how they wish they could have lived back then. They should never wish that. You want to know why? Because for the most part the 80’s was a hellish landscape of conservative neo-liberal politics mixed in with a highly conformist society that punished those who were in any way different.
I was a teen in the 80’s and graduated high school in 1989, so I spent pretty much the entirety of my teen years in that decade. I was very politically aware during that time and paid attention to the world events going on around me. For example, I went on a trip with some classmates to Washington DC in late 87 that was called Close Up. Teens from all over the US go every year to learn about politics. You get to meet your representatives and talk about important issues with others. We got enough free time to wander about the area exploring and one day two friends and I were walking near the Capital Building when a motorcade appeared. During that week Soviet officials were there to draw up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty along with officials from Reagan’s cabinet which included the Secretary Of State George Shultz. I hated, and still hate, Reagan with the burning heat of a thousand suns so I was obviously not a fan of anybody serving under him. The first limos going past us had Soviet flags attached to the front, rolled down windows and Soviet guys waving at us with smiles on their faces. Seriously, it was as cool as it sounds. We smiled and waved back of course. Then the limos infested with the lice off of Reagan’s head rolled by and not one of them rolled down their windows. However, it was easy to see through the tint that one of them contained Shultz. I started yelling to him that he sucked and gave him the finger with both hands. Yes, I told a high ranking US official to basically go fuck himself. My friends were panicking telling me to stop but I wouldn’t. To this day I am still proud that at the age of 16 I had the balls to do something like that.
Now that you have learned a little bit about me I will now tell you a little bit about what it was really like to live in the 80’s.
THE COLD WAR AND THE CONSTANT FEAR OF NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION
I don’t think that younger people right now quite realize just how close we came to all being killed in a nuclear war. This fear was largely due to the constant posturing of Reagan. He would call the USSR the evil empire and threaten them on a very regular basis. Frankly I was way more afraid of Reagan back then than I was of the USSR. To the credit of the USSR back then they didn’t give in to Reagan and start a war. I honestly think the professional war mongerers who stood behind Reagan wanted an all out war with the USSR because they would have made billions from that. Both empires fought a proxy war in Afghanistan when the USSR invaded the country while the US backed and trained the rebels. By the way one of those rebels was Osama Bin Laden.
Nuclear war was such a possibility at the time that two powerful tv films were made about it happening. Threads in the UK and The Day After in the US. Since I was living in the US at the time I saw The Day After when it was first aired in 1983 when I was in the 7th grade. It freaked my friends and I out so much that we went to our vice principal and asked about whether the school had a nuclear fallout shelter. Think about that for a second. Imagine being a young teen and having that kind of fear hanging over your head on a constant basis. It sucked. A few years ago I finally saw Threads and it shows the reality of a nuclear war; people being burned alive and the unsanitized reality of what would happen after a nuclear conflagration. If I had seen it back in the 80’s I would have had full blown nightmares.
IF YOU WERE IN ANY WAY ‘DIFFERENT’ YOU GOT CONSTANTLY SHIT ON AND CONFORMITY WAS A WAY OF LIFE
I always see younger people in online goth communities say that they wished that they could have experienced an ‘alternative’ subculture back in the 80’s. With confidence I can say that the vast majority of them wouldn’t have been emotionally equipped to have handled all of the shit that they would have gotten from others. It wasn’t just the ‘normal’ people that you had to deal with back then, you also had to deal with intense pressure within the alternative community to fit in by liking the same bands and behaving the same way. Woe onto you if you actually acted happy or liked a band that wasn’t considered cool. People think that ‘gatekeeping’ is bad now? They have no idea.
There was a huge amount of pressure back then by society to fit in. Reagan constantly preached about how America was better in the good old days, which were actually not good for anybody who wasn’t wealthy and white. If you didn’t go along with his not so hidden racist agenda you were seen as unpatriotic and a traitor. I am not exaggerating. You had to hate the USSR, be scared of black people, and look just like everybody else. If you didn’t have a perm, didn’t dress in the trendiest clothes and didn’t listen to the latest pop bands you didn’t fit in so you were considered fair game to tease and even physically attack. Luckily I was never physically attacked but I know that lots of people were. Far more violence happened back then than now. However, I had things yelled at me on a constant basis, for doing such things as simply walking down a street. In high school I was even told by a teacher that I wouldn’t have as many problems if I just dressed like everybody else.
IT WAS DIFFICULT AS HELL FINDING OUT ABOUT BANDSAND SHOWS
There was no functioning internet back in the 80’s. There were some bulletin board type communities but computers were expensive as hell so most people did not have them. There were thee ways of finding out about bands back then. You could be one of those lucky people that lived near a radio station that actually played alternative and punk music. These were usually college radio stations, but sometimes pop stations would play less popular music in the the middle of the night. There was a pop station in my area that did this. So much so that by the very late 80’s they became an ‘alternative’ station. However, by that time they played more radio friendly bands than experimental ones. However, I did learn about some bands by listening to them. Another way to learn about bands was by getting mix tapes from your friends. In early 86 I got one from a guy, who then ghosted me. There was no track listing written down so it took me literally years to figure some of them out. However, I had another person introduce me to Joy Division by handing me a tape with Unknown Pleasures on one side and Closer on the other. The last way to find out about music was by cold buying it. You would see somebody cool wearing a mysterious band shirt and you kept a log of those band names in the back of your head. I actually cold bought November Coming Fire by Samhain using this method, and more times than not I had really good luck.
On top of all of this there was a code of silence that the uber goober type people would pull when you would ask them about what bands they liked. Seriously. There was some sort of strange code that some weirdos lived by that made it very uncool to share musical knowledge with anybody. It was as if they were going to be killed by an evil cabal if they dared to utter the sacred names of bands. These were the same types who would try to dictate how you behaved in clubs.
Wanted to see your favourite band play a show? Good luck! Most of the time the only way you would find out about shows was at club nights, but if you were under 18, and sometimes 21, you weren’t allowed in them. I actually went to one that let you in of you were 17 or older and another that was all ages so I was lucky when it came to that. However, that didn’t mean you would find out about all of the shows because venues were usually total shit at advertising shows unless they were some of the better known ones that also hosted metal shows. There were some ‘alternative’ weekly papers where I lived so I would find out about some of them that way, but there were two times that I accidentally saw bands because I thought it was going to be a regular club night. I saw Meat Beat Manifesto and The Call that way which looking back on it was pretty darn cool.
Well, that’s it for today. I realise that I have probably broken some hearts and crushed some dreams but the amount of misinformation about the 80’s really needs to be balanced out with a reality check. I don’t look back at that decade with rose coloured glasses, even though I lived through those years. It could be fun, but it was also really difficult. If I had the ability to go back in time to those years I wouldn’t.
Black Angel’s new single Live To Love is going to be released this coming Monday the 26th and I am very excited! The make some very excellent goth rock type music and are some very cool people. I will link the song in a new post next Monday and give you my thoughts on it.
Originally I wanted to make bowls out of the two Sonsombre records that I own, but our oven is too small to do it safely. This morning I tried to break them with my hands but the vinyl is too thick to snap. So, I scratched the hell out of both of the records and I tore up the record sleeves and the notes that came with them.
I must say that it felt quite satisfying. Especially scratching up the gold coloured one because there were only 33 ever made. Now there are only 32, or maybe even less than that because I’m sure that I’m not the only one who did this. I waited a week to do this because I didn’t want to get very emotionally upset again . Taking a week to wait meant that I had enough time to cool off.
Why have I done this? It has been proven without a shadow of a doubt that Brandon Pybus, the singer and songwriter of Sonsombre, is a current member of the racist neo-confederate group Sons Of Confederate Veterans. He has been since 2015. He lied to me, and many others, months ago when asked if he belonged to any racist organizations. He said no, when in fact he actually was a member of one.
This is going to be the last mention of the band that I will be making in this blog, unless he does something else incredibly stupid or Cleopatra Records drops the band. To those of you who think that I don’t have the right to be pissed off…..FUCK YOU.
Here is a quick rundown on what has happened. Last year there were some screen shots of some very old problematic Facebook likes that Brandon Pybus made years ago that were passed around the internet as proof that he was racist. Then Brandon appeared on a show explaining his side of things, and what he said made sense to me so I believed him. My thought process at the time was that if he was currently actively racist why would he agree to speak about being against racism. Some people have been telling me that there was more evidence, but I personally never saw any. I based my opinion on those old likes that I saw and what Brandon said and that was it.
This all changed yesterday when definitive proof was produced. It has been shown that Brandon has been an active member of the Sons Of Confederate Veterans since 2015. This is considered to be a hate group because they want Confederate statues to be kept in place, Confederate flags to be flown freely and they spread lies about why the Civil War was fought.
To say I am pissed off at Brandon is a huge understatement. In the past we had actually spoken about the Civil War because I have several ancestors who fought for the Union and who were from West Virginia, an area that he lives near. Never once did he say anything about the Confederacy or about being a member of that group. Of course he didn’t, because he knew that it would instantly piss me off and that I would tell other people. If he thought it wasn’t a racist group then why would he hide being a member of it? He had also told me in other discussions that he was in no way racist and that he wasn’t that kind of person.
I am not the only person that he has majorly lied to. He has worked with many other musicians as either a producer, a guitar player or as a vocalist. I feel for these musicians more than anybody else because they were closer to him and knew him as a personal friend, as somebody that they would help if he needed it. He really put himself out there, helping people and being friendly with everybody. It felt like he was doing something that the goth subculture really needed; a musician that was willing to work with everybody instead of against everybody.
There isn’t very much money to be made in the subculture so I don’t think he did all of this for that reason. I witnessed the WAR (white aryan resistance) skins, in the late 80’s/early 90’s, try to heavily infiltrate the goth and punk club scenes on the US West Coast and there is something about this whole situation that reminds me of that ordeal. They had more success in the goth subculture because back then the people within it were generally more passive and not as political as now. I’m not saying that everybody ignored politics but a certain percentage of people really couldn’t be bothered. That is one of the reasons why I have always kept a foot in the punk scene because people tend to be more reactive when bad shit happens. The punks and SHARP skins did all of the heavy lifting back then and drove the WAR skins out. Maybe Brandon thought that the goth subculture would be an easy place for him to infiltrate because he thinks that a lot of the people within the subculture are still very passive? That in the end people would support him no matter what he believed or said?
I would like to state for the record that I’m sorry that I hurt the feelings of the people who shared those Facebook likes last year. I supported the wrong person in this whole situation. I tend to defend friends to the death if I think they have been wronged, so that is why I reacted the way that I did. I fully support BLM, stand against racism and want everybody to be treated equally no matter who they are or who they love.
My heart feels crushed right now. However, I am not going to let Brandon’s lying racist ass get to me. I have scrubbed all mention of him and Sonsombre from this blog and I have deleted all of Sonsombre’s music from my computer. I plan on making the Sonsombre vinyl records that I own into bowls, because I don’t want to make money off of them and throwing them away isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
EDIT: Apparently Brandon has made a non apology and is blocking people from actually asking questions about the racist organization that he belongs to. He blocked me even before I could comment, go figure. I’m not linking it because I don’t want to give him any views. It’s easy to find on Sonsombre’s Facebook page. I dedicate Gwar’s song Sick Of You to him. It’s very apt at the moment.
It’s no secret that I love the darker side of deathrock with a passion. With that being said Death Of A Star majorly scratches that itch. I can hear the influences of Samhain, TSOL, Son Of Sam and early Danzig on this record, and yet it has it’s own sound going on. It’s unabashedly heavy, layered with metal infused guitar, heavy bass, sinister keyboards and great lyrics. I love the hell out of this album.
What really stands out to me while listening to this album is the fact that it doesn’t sound like an atypical darker deathrock band trying to outright imitate the music of Glenn Danzig. A whole lot of bands do that and it becomes very tiring. I highly appreciate the fact that The Cult Sounds takes their music further into their own direction, rather than being lazy. It’s proof that it is still possible to make wholly original music within the genre.
Enclose Nacht, the first song really sets up the rest of the album well. It’s sparse landscape and chilling circus sounding keyboards lets you immediately know that you are in for a dark ride through a land of death and isolation. The next song 13 Candles is a banger that pushes you down that road. The journey is then filled with darkly created musical landscapes; the heavy crunchy guitars of Afterlife and the brooding atmosphere of The Avalanche.
While I love all of the songs my favourite has got to be Death Has A Name. Quite honestly it’s one of the better darker deathrock songs that I’ve heard in a very long time. It’s got a bit of that Jon Christ blues infused metal guitar style which gives it a sinister air that takes it to another level. There are heavy synths through the whole song that only add to the foreboding nature of it. There are two lines, in particular that I think are brilliant.
Death has a name and it’s yours, Use my bones to build your body
That just conjures all sorts of feelings and thoughts in my mind. All of the lyrics on this album are really good, and don’t rely on the typical gimmicks that some deathrock bands use. I really appreciate the effort that the band put into creating this album. I have a feeling that The Death Of A Star is going to be on my ‘best of’ list for this year. If you love deathrock that is darker in nature then you will really enjoy this album.
There is no set release date for this album yet, but I will announce it here on the blog when the time comes.
A while back I listed some of the newer goth type bands that I found to be interesting. There are so many good bands coming out with excellent music right now that this second list really needed to be made. This time I am also including electronic/industrial bands. They may not be strictly goth but they are definitely goth adjacent. These bands are not in any particular order. All links will take you to the relevant Bandcamp page. Bandcamp Friday is on March the 5th, a day in which 100% of the sale of music and merchandise goes to the bands.
Jay Draper And The Subterraneans This is a hybrid band that contains elements of goth rock, darkwave and post-punk. I love the the soaring vocals, they are very distinctive.
The Last Of Us They play very heavy traditional goth rock, but with a feel of urgency. Keyboards are artfully added for atmosphere. Reminds me of Fields Of The Nephilim crossed with early Danzig because their music has a slightly sinister feel to it.
Corlyx Post-punk meets darkwave. This is a hybrid band that makes some very danceable tunes.
Stoneburner Steven Archer’s solo project that is at once industrial and electronic with other bits tossed together to make for some very interesting sounding music.
Dead Cool They don’t have a lot of music out yet, but what they have put out so far I really enjoy! A post-punk and darkwave hybrid band.
Rosegarden Funeral Party This is a post-punk band with some darkwave thrown in, surrounded by one of the most distinctive female voices out of all of the modern genre bands. The lyrics sound very personal in nature and give the music a deeper meaning.
S Y Z Y G Y X Mainly an electronic and darkwave band. Very driving beats and interesting vocals.
I Ya Toyah This is a one woman band that is fiercely industrial and electronic. Beautiful vocals paired with an urgency and great lyrics.
The Long Losts Very spooky sounding deathrock mixed with some touches of metal. The lyrics are very haunting!
Abu Nein Darkwave and electronic music with a flourish of post punk. Nice vocals and driving beat.