The Medea Project | The Lockdown Interview:
Answers: Brett Minnie – vocals/guitar & Pauline Silver – drums
So, how is ‘lockdown’ treating you? Are you still working? What’s your daily routine look like at the moment?
Brett: Pretty much business as usual, get up, feed the cat, make coffee, make more coffee, shower, make even more coffee. Log onto my desktop and fight with linux devops on windows for most of the day. Somedays Pauline and I take to hitting each other in the garden for fun and profit. We’re trying to keep as fit as we were prior to this, so when we eventually go back to the gym we don’t regress too badly with our boxing training. Weekends are much the same, just less fighting with devops and more fighting demons with a shotgun. Oh and as many braais (BBQ) as we can fit in. The weather is good and we may as well enjoy it. I’ve also resorted to my more primitive instincts and have stopped wearing shoes again!
I have some projects that I’ve not gotten round to either, so now I have the time I’ll get stuck into those too (Looking at you Warhammer pile of shame). I may try to get Pauline and her brother to play some kill team with me. Wish me luck!
The biggest downside is I think our cat is beginning to hate us as we’re always around and may be plotting to kill us.
Pauline: Well I had gotten to the point where I wanted the world to stop for a minute so I could get off although this was a little more extreme than I anticipated! I think having options limited has suited my nervy tensions just fine. Less of an internal battle between things I SHOULD be doing and things I WANT to be doing. Not being able to go anywhere has solved the issue of actually getting around to doing stuff that I’ve been meaning to do but never seemed to have the time and oddly things just seem to be more down to earth and simpler. I’m still able to work during the week so I still have the normal daily bit of routine but no hassle of having to get to a station and catch a train. I do miss beating my kickboxing buddy and my boxing trainer though but I do get to beat Brett and my brother around the garden so that’ll do! (no need to call the authorities, it’s totally consensual!). The only thing I can’t do at the moment is my circus training but hopefully when the courier decides to finally deliver my equipment, I’ll be able to practice some of it. One thing I really miss and there’s just no substitute for, is going to gigs! Moshes are just not quite the same when you have to watch the lamp, speaker, table, TV, turntable etc!
Are you able to keep up with individual practicing? What is your practice routine? Any tips for fellow isolated musicians?
Brett: What’s individual practice? Pauline and I are fortunate enough to live together so we have a rehearsal space set up in the house. We’ve been jamming a bit though it’s less than ideal with regards to dampening. I personally practice best when just jamming so if I was isolated I’d be messing around with a drum machine. I am having to be more creative though with less gear which is a good thing, currently all my amp heads are being used as ghetto amp risers and I’m playing through combos. It makes me worry more about getting the sound right vs loud. I do have a small project though coming up; I need to convert a 20 odd year old Marshall combo into a closed back amp so it loses the Valvestate fizz.
Pauline: I almost feel quite bad for having to say this but we don’t really have an issue. Brett and I live together; we have no neighbours so jamming isn’t really a problem. The worst is playing in a room that isn’t dampened very well so sometimes we end up blowing our own eardrums out. We had major plans for sound-dampening but then we discovered that the landlord had sneakily used materials that nothing can bolt into, to build the portion of the house that fits all our kit! We’ve made some make-shift plans and just tweaked our gear to try and compensate.
To be honest, I don’t know what advice I could give bands because I can think of nothing worse than jamming without my band-mates in the room. Maybe once this is all over, move in together so you’ve got that covered!!
Has the band been forced to make any cancellations or changes to release schedules?
Brett: Unfortunately our tour with Ygodeh and Die Ego was cancelled just before lockdown was announced, we managed to play our launch show, so have the infamy of being the last live show at the Salutation before lockdown. They had to close up the following evening due to the government announcement. We’ve also got a gig in May which has not been officially cancelled yet, but honestly it’s not looking promising. We’ve a live announcement or two that have been put on hold until we all know what is going to happen and one of them we’re really excited about!
Pauline: Yeah, literally just before lockdown, the tour with YGodeh and Die Ego was cancelled. It was very touch-and-go as to whether we would get to do our album launch gig but 2 members of YGodeh jumped in our life-raft and we managed to squeeze the launch gig in before we were all told to stay at home. So, we were the last band to play at The Old Sal in Nottingham before the shut-down! We’re supposed to be playing a headline gig in May but that’s up in the air at the moment and prospects don’t look too good at the minute. There were also other gigs that were in the pipeline so we’re just waiting to see what happens with those. They’re later in the year so we’re hoping they won’t be affected..
With gigs becoming a distant memory at the moment, what’s the best you can ever remember playing – and witnessing?
Brett: Favourite gig to play, that’s a hard one, have loved all our gigs barring one for different reasons. I think though us with a defiant Ygodeh, keeping the spirit alive just before all the venues were forced to close is right up there. Also this was the first time I’d ever played keys outside the band room, so it was a bit nerve wracking in that regard.
Favourite to watch? In 2016 I had to make the choice out of a local festival to watch Candlemass or go to Switzerland to watch Pentagram. We went with Pentagram and that was fantastic. Watching Bobby in his element from the front was one of those once in a lifetime shows. Tied with this has to be seeing Me and that Man at the Jazz Cafe in London. Nergal, out of context, playing a White Gretsch, serenading us over dinner. Something truly special. Oh and who can forget Die Apokalyptischen Reiter at Underworld. Dismal turnout but they took it in their stride. Such a dynamic band to watch with so much presence. There are so damn many we’ve watched that meant something in one way or another.
Pauline: I think my favourite is definitely the last gig we played before lock-down because we got to reveal our whole album and we got to do some new instrumental stuff on stage on tracks that hadn’t been heard before. It was also the first gig that Brett and I played as a 2-piece where it wasn’t an experiment so it was a lot more comfortable and the support was immense! Also having The Reverend and Piton’s Surgery along for the ride was awesomely awesome! Those two guys are just crazy! Also, the Nibiru Tour was really special!
In South Africa, I played plenty of gigs and most of them are memorable, not always because of whether they were good gigs but normally it’s always the shit that happens before and after that kinda cements that memory.
To pick a gig that was my favourite to watch is really hard because I’ve watched a ton of bands! Without writing a book, ones that stand out are Hooded Menace at Black Heart (headbanged and moshed straight into Harri who kept getting in my way which was a bit like headering a brick wall!) Devastator at Chameleon (insane mosh-pit where I got out-moshed by Mr Holmes (you know who you are!). Godthrymm album launch gig at Unicorn. Great line-up and definitely that original old school tough metal crowd feel! Mortiis at Brutal Assault because he played his 1st era type stuff which no-one was expecting. 11am gig by Agalloch at Bloodstock! Coffins in Sheffield!! There’s probably a ton more those will do for now. The rest you can have next time we’re allowed to go to the pub!
What’s the latest news from the band? Anything that people should be checking out at the moment?
Brett: Did you know we released Sisyphus? It’s the perfect soundtrack for the apocalypse. Listen to it!
Pauline: Well there is this album called Sisyphus available on bandcamp….
Have you been able to use this time to work on new material?
Brett: If we tell you, we may have to kill you. We keep things close to our chest until they are ready so we can neither confirm nor deny any new material being worked on during this period.
Pauline: Well we’re currently in the planning stages. Always gotta have a plan!! We generally plan until the beer runs dry and the fire burns out!
What have you been reading and watching to keep yourselves sane?
Brett: Reading, lots of powershell and packer manuals, tutorials and bug reports. This hasn’t helped with the sanity aspect though. I really need to get back into the pulp Warhammer 40k sci-fi I was reading before this. In between this and waiting for builds to happen I’ve been catching up on online album reviews, mostly on Angry Metal Guy.
As for watching, mostly true crime documentaries, though I think it’s time we break this up with something less heavy. We did watch the insanity that is The Tiger King too, really couldn’t make that up. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. We’ve also pulled out the monsters of Metal collection because, you know, can’t watch bands live at the moment.
Pauline: Well the new Zero Tolerance came out last week, so I’ve been catching up on all the bits and pieces in there. I’m also halfway through “Acid for the Children” by Flea from RHCP. Been watching crime and music doccies on Netflix and finally opened some of the music video DVD’s that we’ve had sitting since January.
What are you listening to at the moment? Your Top isolation albums?
Brett: Currently, will change as my mood changes! Pauline gets to listen to what I am listening to as he who controls the hi-fi remote controls the airwaves!
1. Satyricon – Volcano
2. Godthrymm – Reflections
3. Type O Negative – October Rust
4. Lake of Tears – Crimson Cosmos
5. Covenant – Northern Light
Pauline: Brett does have a point. We don’t walk around separately with headphones on so music is generally played on the house system. To be honest, I generally listen to specific albums when I’m on my own as I like to immerse myself in them. I haven’t had a need to do that as yet but when the time comes, I’ve got the new Mortiis Spirit of Rebellion LP that I haven’t played yet and Sopor Aeturnus has just released “Island of the Dead” that I’ve streamed but not really sat and listened to.
And what are your Top 10 albums of all time? The greats that have shaped you and never get old…
Brett: As a disclaimer, ask me this tomorrow and it’ll be mostly different barring the top 21.
1. Neil Young – Harvest
2. Anathema – Alternative 4
3. My Dying Bride – Angel and the Dark River
4. Babylon Whores – Pride of the Damned (Yes I know it’s a box of all their works, I’m not choosing!)
5. Type O Negative – October Rust/Bloody Kisses
6. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
7. Agalloch – The Mantle
8. Sisters of Mercy – A Slight Case of Overbombing (Yes I cheat, it’s a greatest hits)
9. Various – A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box
10. Adam and the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier
1.Guns n Roses – Appetite For Destruction
2.Metallica – Kill ‘em All
3.King Diamond – The Eye
4.Cannibal Corpse – Eaten Back to Life
5.Alice Cooper – The Greatest Hits
6.Bloody Hammers – Under Satan’s Sun
7.Type-O-Negative – October Rust
8.Sopor Aeturnus – (No particular album here, everything she does is an inspiration!)
9.Deicide – Deicide
10.60’s and 70’s boxset of LP’s that I inherited from my parents!
What’s the first thing you’ll be doing when lockdown ends?
Brett: Continue to self isolate, except now I can go sit on my own in my office versus the house. So it’s more of the same, just with less distraction. I’m a self employed IT worker, so other than site visits this is pretty normal for me. We’ll be getting back into the gym though to get the body moving properly again. And getting out to watch our beloved underground gigs. Also I’m hoping that the Never Cross the Dead anniversary tour happens, I have tickets…
Pauline: I think my lockdown will end after everyone else’s has. People will be going nuts once they’re allowed out again so I’m gonna hang back until the chaos recedes… probably in winter…. Ideal first day will be a hectic boxing sesh in the morning and then a good headbanging sesh in the evening or picking apples and bats! We were also supposed to have a coupla beers with Final Coil just before the lock-down happened so that is also definitely a priority on the cards.
What plans do you have for the band when you’re free to get working again?
Brett: Perform Sisyphus live! We’ve been chatting with Ygodeh and Die Ego about resurrecting the tour we were supposed to have done in March, so we’ve those logistics to sort out once we have an idea of what is actually going to happen. Personally I expect things to open in a rolling manner to try and keep people from swarming everything so it may be a little while.
We have some other plans too, but those are our plans and not for public consumption (yet).
Pauline: Yeah, to perform Sisyphus live. Never being one to jinx myself, I’m not going to say too much at this point….
A message for your fans, followers and friends at this difficult time…
Brett: Enjoy the slower pace of life for a while, it’ll all blow over and we’ll all come out on the other side. Don’t do anything (too) stupid.
Pauline: Look after yourselves and those close to you and we’ll catch you on the flipside! “It can’t rain all the time”