Monday, September 3, 2012

Druggy Black Metal Guru of Dhampyr speaks!!!!

DOTDR: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, I know that you’ve been off and on the radar for some time and am glad to have caught up with you because Dhmapyr is an incredible find for me and I know that Prison Tatt really stands by it!!!! Can you tell me a bit about Dhampyr’s history and present state?

H: Thank you for your interest in the project - it's certainly worn
me down a bit the past couple years, so your kindness is gladly
accepted (though I, and many others, I'm sure, may dispute your
sentiments!). I started Dhampyr sometime in late '06, though it really
could be '07, or maybe anytime later. I had discovered an ecstasy in
depression, an "even" tone, and Dhampyr was a way of giving that
knowledge some explicit presentation. The earliest releases were, on
the whole, pretty terrible, and I regret many of them; the artist is
unusually dishonest with his work until he plays the part of the
observer, and only after his eyelids are dusted and he's finally
permitted to sleep. A great deal of art is just sleeping it off.

DOTDR: That’s an interesting and very genuine perspective to have. I actually liked your early stuff on the website, but I hate my artwork as well regardless of how much someone else loves it.

The thing that really stood out to me was the haunting atmospheres that were cold but also shoegazy and warm fuzzed psychedelia. What was your state of mind when writing and recording White Fire Laudanum and how do you view it in hindsight as being reflected in the songs?

H: White Fire Laudanum is a curious record, musically and
ideologically. There was absolutely no structure to the recording
process - as it were, I don't remember recording it, and there's a lot
that I would change given the sobriety. I had shown the record to my
drummer, Ronald, in fragments, and he'd work in some beat or another
to enhance the sound from the lousy drum machine I was using; the
drums on the record are as basic as they are skillfully calculated;
everything was in order and truly intentional. Each song was written
and recorded alongside the instantaneous consumption of a different
drug. So, the album became successively more difficult to produce as
the sessions drawled on. It didn't help that I shot up dope in between
all the drugs, either.

DOTDR: Since drugs play such a huge part in the record and consequently the band, would you be up to noting some of the ones used for a specific song and how that might have created it? The sound you have has a different vibe then most others in the style.

H:  I began by consuming a very fair portion of absinthe, in the traditional French complexion, which was succeeded by a bottle of good wine. I had ingested four tabs of lysergide several hours earlier, so the effect was most welcome. "Delerium Tremens" was, at bottom, the only coherent thing I produced throughout the big sick fuck-carnival I was sprawled into (I remember at the height of my acid psychosis Bill Fay came walking into the room, holding a snifter of whiskey, and I recall most distinctly that Bukowski was playing the piano somewhere in the foreground of the hallucination. Or it was probably the other way around). "White Fire Laudanum," the following track, was modeled around a few very basic minor arpeggios, and there's a little denouement where I'm playing some sloppy power chords or something - that was because my nose was babysitting a couple good hits of cocaine, and so the tempo naturally blossomed into something a little more "amphetaminic." Then onto de bonnes choses - heroin, benzos, barbs...more wine. The vocals were a virgin madness; whether I had actually sung any words, I'm still not sure. The vocal styles change as the album progresses because there was so much shit lodged in my nose, and clogging my throat, that I was unable to perform my usual high notes.

I know that you’ve had some recent personal troubles, do you think that you’ll write more songs as a result?

H: Honestly, the whole thing seems so ephemeral, and, this being the
first time I've actively discussed the band in this kind of setting,
so silly; I do lots of drugs. If I had a drug for all the nickels I've
spent on drugs...that being said, I can't write a song anymore unless
I'm on drugs. And when I'm on drugs, I sure as hell don't want to
write a song. Yossarian has always had my greatest sympathies.

DOTDR: Again because drugs are such a huge part of your life and music, I’d like to ask: What got you started using in the first place? I tried stuff in my teens to deal with things like depression and anxiety induced paranoia, but I just never got into it.  I also hated the smell and taste of pot and it always aggravated my migraines for some reason, I did acid and shrooms twice…acid was bad news for someone in my state of mind, and wound up being medicated on prescription opiates and alcohol off and on for 6 months or so courtesy of a friend of mines mom who had an unlimited supply and knew how to control it well through dosage, but never made it a habit or became addicted. Every time I got money, which wasn’t too often, I’d blow it on albums, I’d rather starve than not buy an album.

Now given your recent sobriety do you think that you’ll ever release anything again?

H: My sobriety went backpacking a long time ago; I get a postcard every now and then. If I can find the right motives, maybe suck a little on the teat of the muse, then probably. The problem is, I'm not an "artist." I'm a wizened drug addict campaigning this rotten, phlegmatic music to score drugs - and fuck if I've even sold enough to buy a gram of hash! As most will note, my recordings are all peculiar and removed from a central tether; there's no consistency. Every demo, EP, album has a different sound. And almost all of those "sounds" are thematically terrible.   Shit, there's stuff floating around the internet that doesn't even exist! "Back Wards, Blue Rooms," for instance, is somehow an acknowledged release, despite its not having been, well, released. That was the first full-length. I recorded it back when I didn't wake up with needles laughing in my arms. 

DOTDR: What’s it like in your mind when you write songs or just feel inspired to vent and release your inner turmoil?

H: Regrettably, it's nothing fancy. The musical process has always
been a particularly unromantic thing for me, and I'm never left
wondering divinely at my creation. There's always that sense of
loathing when you inspect the final product, always that lingering
question - where the fuck did I put that extra chromosome?

DOTDR: Ha…honestly, artists like you tend to create the best stuff, and by “artist like you” I mean those who create without pretense. Whether you’re stoned or cold sober, it comes down to being as real to yourself as you can and let the rest of us deal with it. So many artists, especially in black metal like to play the “fuck off” misanthropy card and build themselves up on image.

H: Well, thank you! Truthfully, I don't have the patience nor the capacity for pretense - it's difficult to hold onto any species of agenda for any period of time when you're only focused on the next fix; to paraphrase Mlle Green Gables, it "leaves no scope for the imagination." Black metal isn't a "dark item," anymore - I'm not sure it ever was. The misanthropic bits are usually scrapped together from outlying philosophies or play-acted. I would rather read over Sartre's Nausea than listen to a Mayhem record, for example. 

DOTDR: That’s a great response!!!! It’s nice to get some brains and literacy back into things for a change.

H: You would think taking five 50mg zolpidem at 9:15 AM would be a good idea. No, no, you wouldn't. That's an awful idea. My lips are hot and bound like a book, unable to wring them apart. What great volumes might I have sequestered in the bowels of my mouth! Lost psalters and Mesozoic propaganda and the snowflakes that Bob Dylan savored on his TONGUE, was really the beginning of folk. He was a Highway 61 Snowman. And he played his icy frets - do we visit him, no, down on ol' Highway 61? There used to be a snowman there, but now Bobby's 71; ain't got time to dally, ain't got time to rest, but folks say of an old snowman sometimes passing by on Highway 61, but he's old and his branches and fingertips are overrun with vintage play. And Leonard Cohen's Tower of Song was really nothing but a twinkling little tree, on which we placed a folk-wet snowman, who every once in a tangerine dream would play a poor little ditty, reminding us of the grottoes, the banks, the levees, and the highways. And Michael from Mountains would come down to celebrate too, alongside his sweet Joni delight. Where are the artists to paint this worshipful watercolor scene? But first, check the oven for Plaths and phone Weimar - tell them Nietzsche had a thing for himself, a mad thing, he died sexually.

DOTDR: Have you ever thought of writing , or even written your stuff down? It’s seriously incredible!!!!

H - Curiously, I do write (under my real name, of course). It's something I keep separate from Dhampyr, for good reason. I've recently gotten a few poems published alongside a handful of short stories in little magazines. It's my "serious" work, to be plain. My lyrics, in particular, draw heavily on the better auspices of literature, when they're not flimsy ballads about shooting heroin or other such "blennorrhoea." Discerning listeners will discover a good lot of nerdy literary references strewn about - for instance, the song "Love Potions For Sad Maidens" is a line extracted from Shirley Jackson's classic "...Hill House." 

JW: It's been interesting and stimulating communicating with you and I'd like to keep in touch. In closing is there anything that you'd like to add as a last testament ?

H: "Don't do drugs."


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