by David Necro
photos by: David Necro
Ever since emerging from the ashes of My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult several years ago, Electric Hellfire Club leader and founder Thomas Thorn has created a musical presentation that is appealing to the mind, the heart, and –last by not least- that region just below the belt.
Known to many as a priest in the Church of Satan, Thorn utilizes his priesthood not only to, perhaps, spread the message of Satan, but to agitate the listener into thinking and questioning their beliefs; many of which have been force fed to them by institutions such as the Catholic church, the U.S. government, and parental authority. As a result, the music and presentation of the Electric Hellfire Club is not only an outgrowth of Mr. Thorn’s beliefs and ideals, but it is something that people who wish to live to live on their own terms, rather than anyone else’s, can relate to.
Believe it or not, Thomas Thorn –a lot of times- sounds as if he’s been possessed by one of the architects of the U.S. Constitution (coincidentally, one of his early childhood admirations was Benjamin Franklin). He espouses (and practices) the beliefs that are ingrained in the Constitution; freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of (and from) religion. This is in marked contrast to the sickening hypocrisy of the various Christians fundamentalist groups who say they are merely spreading the word of God, yet spend most of their time trying to restrict, and flat out take away, personal and social freedoms.
Regardless of whether you agree with his beliefs or not, what can be respected about Thomas Thorn is that his personal vision has not compromised in any way, despite “the deaths, the tragedies, and the line-up changes” that have seemed to plague the band. And unlike many other current artists (especially the “woe is me” and “we can save the world” crowd… you know who they are…), the Electric Hellfire Club embraces & celebrates the lust(s), greed, and power –be it sexual or otherwise- that the aforementioned “crowd” speaks out against and claims not to believe in… the same ones who can later be seen living in mansions, riding in limousines, and eating gourmet food. Thomas Thorn is an artist that is willing to take risks with his art, and face & take on the challenges that those risks present… which is what any true artist (musical or otherwise) should do – challenge himself and the aficionado(s).
Thorn’s message appears to be, “Come with us; you will have the time of your life, and you will see and feel things that you have only dreamed about”… a message that is very inviting and tempting, but with danger and intrigue always lurking around the corner. Quite honestly, it’s a message that is a lot more appealing to this writer than the one(s) of modern Christianity, and one that is just as beneficial to the dedicated fan as the one that’s unfamiliar – because without artists such as these, one would assume that there would certainly be a lot more people who would not express their individuality and their creativity; more mindless sheep for the herd. Thomas Thorn would rather slaughter those sheep, for he is definitely an Unholy Roller…
David Necro: Just for the record – Are you a Satanist, and why?
Thomas Thorn: I am a Satanist, basically as defined by what Dr. Anton LaVey put across in the Satanic Bible. I believe in the Nine Satanic Statements. I believe in, basically, living life to its fullest and pursuing all of the seven deadly sins, and just indulging in those carnal desires that I am interested in… just doing what comes naturally, I guess, is what it all comes down to. And I think that people get the wrong idea a lot of the time with the term Satan, just because of the fact that it immediately conjures up images of the occult, hocus-pocus, demons & devils dancing around, and everything like that. And as far as the definition of calling myself a Satanist, that’s not really part and parcel of the whole thing.
DN: You just basically… Because you believe in it, that’s why.
TT: Right, exactly. I mean, it’s a spiritual path, but it’s also a pragmatic philosophy. Primarily, you use the term Satan, Satanism, because of the fact that it’s a cultural term in that Satan is the enemy; the Hebrew definition of the word means ‘the adversary of the Christian tradition’, the whole Judeo-Christian structure… so all we’ve done is taken what is their enemy and placed him as the figurehead of our movement. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we recognize or accept the definition or the limitations placed on that terminology by that tradition.
DN: When exactly did you become a Satanist?
TT: Well, we always say that Satanists are born, not made. But as far as when I recognized it and said, “you know, I am a Satanist”; I really started getting involved with those sorts of philosophies around the time I was eleven years old. And I would say that by the time I was 19 or 20, I was referring to myself as being a Satanist.
DN: What really attracted you to it in the beginning? Just the imagery, or…?
TT: Sure, that’s a lot of it. I’m one of those people that grew up with monster movies and horror movies and loved Hammer films and everything like that. But once you get beyond the shock imagery or the things like that and you really start to investigate what attracts you to that sort of darkness, and just start investigating the philosophies behind that… Are there really Devil worshippers? Are there really Satanists? Are there really black magicians? And you start investigating the history of those sorts of things… Yeah, I mean, I was initially attracted to it just because of the imagery, and just the overall tone of these things felt right. But then, the more I immersed myself in it, and the more I investigated it, the more I realized it was totally me.
DN: Ok, total feeling… you felt something. You felt something below the belt?
TT: Well yeah, sure, definitely. It’s a visceral, animalistic approach to life, I think. And like I said, it’s one of those things where you continue to read more into this, and it’s just like; ‘Wow… Someone’s basically taking a lot of the things that I think and feel and putting them in a very concise, ordered philosophy’… So, yeah, that certainly made it very attractive to me.
DN: What is your opinion of organized religion?
TT: Well, they all exist for a reason… And the sad thing, at this point, is that most organized religion has nothing to do with fulfilling spiritual needs; they’re control structures, they’re political structures, and they tend to go around telling people what to do, and what not to do, rather than helping them in a way that they can purport to. A lot of people would argue and say, “Well, isn’t the Church of Satan an organized religion?” And maybe, in the loosest sense of the word, maybe it is… I think that the Church of Satan, as an organization, is more like a Moose Lodge or an Elk’s Club or something like that, in that these are people that come together under a single name but, at the same time, have very divergent ideas about even Satanism, for that matter.
DN: These ideas are accepted, these are not downplayed at all?
TT: Honestly speaking, if you pick up a copy of the Black Flame, which is the international forum for the Church of Satan, there are people constantly debating this issue and that issue, and whatever. Some Satanists seem to have a very fascist outlook and some seem to have a very Libertarian outlook. Some of them deny the existence of any power in the universe other than man or our inner beings.
DN: Are there Pagan people involved?
TT: I would say that, sure. I think that there are people who have all different attitudes toward it. And basically because of the fact that we tend to be fairly prickly people, we don’t always get along… We don’t always agree on everything.
DN: Right, there are probably some threats, and that sort of thing.
TT: Not so much in the Church of Satan, but then you start to get the New Satanic Church of Liberation or the Temple of Satan, or this, or that, and all of these people are constantly bickering and backbiting in a really pointless fashion.
DN: What effects do you think organized religion has had on society? Do you think that anything good has come out of it, or is it mainly bad?
TT: It depends what mood I’m in on a daily basis, because certainly it gives a lot of people that are completely stupid something to do with their lives.
DN: So you basically think it stifles creativity in life?
TT: I think that with a certain segment of the population… But at the same time, in my opinion, the vast majority of people are incapable of doing anything worthwhile or creative. Therefore, honestly speaking, it really doesn’t interfere in that great of a sense. If you look at it from a standpoint that laws were invented so that people could live together in a civilized society, and eventually they found out that you can sit there and say, “If you steal, we’ll cut your hand off”… But it only takes the real criminals so long to figure out that only about ten percent of the people get caught. So these guys are sitting there going, “Well, I’ll just be one of the ones that doesn’t get caught”, and some of them live their whole lives without that happening. Well, the whole idea behind Christianity is to create the ultimate cop… the one that sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, and you’ll go to Hell anyways if you commit crimes however big or small. And, yeah, it’s been pretty effective in keeping a lot of these people in line for years and years. But in that way, maybe it’s positive… But, no, I think particularly in this country, the whole Christian church has become an incredible moneymaking corporation and control structure that’s primary motivation at this point is to legislate morality… to tell us what is right and what is wrong, morally speaking, rather than from a logical standpoint.
DN: You are affiliated with the Church of Satan.
TT: I’m a priest, yes.
DN: What is the extent of it? What do you do as a priest?
TT: Well basically, someone’s rank in the church is an indicator of what the church recognizes as their level of success in the outside world… and, therefore, what I do with my music is my priesthood – in the same way that Marilyn Manson is a priest.
DN: Are you in contact with him (Marilyn Manson) all the time?
TT: No, not all the time. I haven’t talked to him in a while, but we used to be better friends & we’d speak from time to time. But, certainly, I think what he’s done is great. It’s not really like you have your priestly duties, as far as ‘this is what you have to do’ or things like that… It was basically LaVey saying, “Thomas, this is a mere formality… You’ve been doing the Devil’s work for years.”
DN: So he knew it.
TT: Sure. It was really interesting when I met him. I thought it was going to be a great opportunity; meet the man, maybe hear him play some music, learn a little bit more about him, and –if I was lucky- have an opportunity to tell him a little bit about what I did and what I was about. Then when I actually did meet him, he was completely aware of the band, had heard the music, had read a lot of the interviews… he was completely informed, and was well aware of the things I was doing and saying, so that was nice for me.
DN: O.k., very intelligent, very philosophical… that sort of thing.
TT: Oh, sure. LaVey was a remarkable person. He probably forgot more than we’ll ever know.
DN: What do you define industrial music as?
TT: Not what we do! By my terms, industrial music was Throbbing Gristle, SPK, bands like that, back in ’79-’82. It eventually became a convenient term to describe a lot of the ‘WaxTrax!’ sound; you know… Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, everything like that. I think that we’re an outgrowth of those things that happened in that we play rock music and happen to use electronic instrumentation for it. We’re just using the current equipment that’s available, in the same way that Michelangelo might be using computers to design the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel if he were alive today. I’m not trying to be one of these people that pretentiously says, “Oh, our music can’t be defined”… I wish that there were an easier was to define it. I wish that we fit more firmly into one genre or another, because one of the difficulties with us is that people will ask, “Well, what do they sound like?” And, then, people will always say, “Well, that’s hard to describe…” Because even if you say industrial, at this point, people think of bands like Nine Inch Nails. And what the Hell does Nine Inch Nails sound like? All of their records are different…
DN: No, Nine Inch Nails is a pop band, with industrial sounds to it.
DN: It’s like a more advanced Beatles or something… It’s like Sgt. Pepper taken to a higher level. That’s the way I look at it.
TT: That makes sense.
DN: What about Killing Joke… Do you think they’re industrial?
TT: It depends on whether you’re talking about their first album – or if you’re talking about “Millennium”. I think that there are elements that are ‘industrial’ to it but, no, I wouldn’t call them that necessarily.
DN: Test Dept.
TT: There you go… bands like that.
DN: What do you define as gothic music, gothic rock?
TT: When it came around the first time, I was pretty much into it with Bauhaus…
DN: Alien Sex Fiend?
TT: Yeah, all those bands. And the thing was, we called it death rock back then.
DN: I mean, Alien Sex Fiend was just more or less a continuation of what Alice Cooper started.
TT: Right, or likewise in the sense that Bauhaus was kind of like Bowie in a graveyard. So it’s that sort of thing, as far as what is gothic and what is not… I don’t think I’m really in a position to define what is and what isn’t. There are plenty of little spiderweb kids out there that will be happy to tell you what is and what isn’t, and most of their fanzines argue about how, you know, there are constant debates over Type O Negative.
DN: Well, yeah, there’s a big debate with them, of course.
TT: Right – Is Type O Negative gothic?
DN: I’d say they’re like a dark heavy metal.
TT: I think they are, too… like an updated Black Sabbath.
DN: Well, I think they’re very influenced by Samhain & Danzig.
TT: Oh sure, but I don’t have any pretensions about defining different classifications of music, I guess. I’m not going to draw the lines… that’s for rock journalists. That’s your job.
DN: Well, yeah, but I actually do agree with you. What motivates you to write your songs and the music that you do?
TT: I think that’s a constantly changing thing, and it’s just like any form of art in that you have a creative urge in the same way you have an urge to eat food or to get some fresh air or anything like that to create. As far as how each piece comes about they’re all different; I can write something in response to something that’s made me incredibly angry… I can write music that’s trying to project just a certain feeling that I’ve had… I can be inspired by a book, a movie, romance… anything. Whatever. Just life experience, things that I take in & feel compelled by.
DN: What are your feelings toward the Christian fundamentalist groups?
TT: Quite frankly, I’m at war with those people. I’m not going to sit there and say that the people that are following the whole thing are willfully ignorant, bigoted people… and as far as the people at the forefront, I think the vast majority of them are liars. They’re doing what they’re doing just because of the fact that they enjoy the control they’re afforded and, honestly speaking, I don’t think that anybody has the right to impress their perceptions of what is good, or right, on everybody else in the world. They sit there and they say ‘one God, one answer, one this, one that’… There’s no one answer for everything. I mean, that’s the most absurd concept in the world. So it comes back to the fact that I’m just at war with that whole way of life.
DN: Do you get any flack from these people? Have they protested your concerts, that sort of thing?
TT: Once in a while, and we’ve been starting to get that a little bit more but, quite frankly, we don’t really have high enough of a profile for that. I’ve joked about it: “You know, I could rip up a Bible every night, but Marilyn Manson can do it once, and, all of a sudden, the whole world goes insane over it,” because he’s got that public persona. So as we get more popular, there have been a few things where people have said that they’ve seen some Christian evangelist talking about us as being an example of Satan incarnate, and things like that. But we’ve used people like Bob Larson for advertising, where he’s going to fly us out to do some talk show, and put us up for a few nights, and give us spending money, just so he can sit there and hold us up as some example of why you should send him money so that he can continue his crusade… I think it’s funny that there are so many heavy metal kids that watch those things for laughs, and it’s free advertising for us. They say, “Hey, these guys are kind of cool. I think I’ll go check their music out.”
DN: Does sex, or sexuality, play a major role in your music? And, if so, why?
TT: I wouldn’t say that it plays a major role but, yeah, it definitely plays a role. And as far as why, because it’s one of the most powerful things in a person’s life; the lusts, the desires, the experiences, and the fulfillments of those sorts of things. So, yeah, they’re an important and powerful part of life.
DN: Are you actively trying to destroy Christianity?
TT: Well I don’t know about ‘actively’, but it’s something that we’re at war with. I’m not out to actively destroy Christianity, or destroy a thought system, or a belief, or tell people that they’re not allowed to believe in it… I guess they’re perfectly welcome to do what they want. But the fact of the matter is, the Bible is just a fucking book, just like any other book, and that people are sitting there saying, “This is how you have to live your life, because this is how it’s written in this book.” That’s a pretty problematic philosophy as far as I’m concerned and, as far as legislating those sorts of ideas, I have a major problem with that. I don’t want to necessarily destroy the concept or the belief structure that it represents, but I certainly am at war against it being forced on me and the country that I live in.
DN: What is the message that the Electric Hellfire Club is trying to put forth on society at large?
TT: I would say, basically, 100% fun… that’s another way of looking at Satanism. For us, Satanism isn’t all just evil, and darkness, and everything like that. We do what we enjoy; the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of pleasure. And we don’t necessarily try to tell people what they should think, or what path they should follow. We just paint pictures. We tell a story, and we tell you what we’re doing, and what we think, and what we feel… and that, if you want to come with us, you’re more than welcome. It’s going to be a long, bumpy ride all the way to Hell…
DN: What is your artistic goal as a band? As an artist?
TT: I think our artistic goal is basically to do what we enjoy as a livelihood… And we’re basically at a point where it pays the rent. I think I’ll be cursed pretty much forever because of the fact that, a long time ago, I used to go around saying, “Oh, I don’t want to be a millionaire or anything like that… All I want to do is make enough money to pay my rent and support myself.” And, now, that’s what I do – and I’m, like, “Oh, now I’m doomed… I’ll never be a millionaire… We’re never going to sell millions of records…”
DN: So you’re not interested in that… the big money?
TT: I am now! Quite honestly, I mean, that’s the whole thing.
DN: How about women?
TT: Oh, sure… it’s the rock & roll dream: Sex, and drugs, and rock & roll.
DN: Right… well, you might not get as many women as Gene Simmons, but you never know…
TT: Right – you never know.
DN: Maybe he can give you some of his leftovers.
TT: Now there’s a band we should tour with…
DN: Do you encourage violence at your shows?
TT: I don’t think that I necessarily have a problem with it, but I don’t think I encourage it. I don’t like the idea that some kid’s at the show, just trying to have a good time, and he gets his head bashed in by a bunch of thugs. But violence is just a part of life, and it’s something that fascinates me… gives me a visceral thrill. So, yeah – I don’t encourage it, but I’m not adverse to it, either.
DN: Are there any particular artists from the past or present that have had a major impact on your music?
TT: KISS was a big influence. When I was growing up, KISS was just wild; everything about it. KISS was a comic book come to life. That’s what was exciting for me, and there weren’t really that many bands after them that did that. I really like AC/DC because of the violence in their music… songs like “TNT”. I just loved the viciousness of that music. Likewise, to a lesser degree, Judas Priest, too. And I was really involved in punk rock for a while, and the Misfits were a big influence. Glenn Danzig, in all phases, has been a really big influence on this band, I’d say.
DN: Really? How did he treat you when you were on tour with him?
TT: It was incredible… he was professional, and personable, and really nice. Honestly speaking, a lot of bands are going to take a band on the road, and they’re going to look at how many records they’ve sold, everything like that. And Glenn basically said, “Well, I’ve liked your band for a while now, and I thought that it was time you got an opportunity for more people to hear about it.” And for all the people that say that Glenn Danzig has sold out, or this, or that… That’s about the most punk rock thing that someone could possibly do; just because you think a band’s good, give them a shot to play in front of a few thousand people every night.
DN: What do you think about this whole feeling that he (Glenn Danzig) is a big jerk, and not a very nice guy?
TT: That’s one of those things that people told me before we went out on the road with them. And I said, “You know, there are a lot of people who say that about me, too”, and they’re not necessarily for the same reasons… So I just went into it thinking, “You know, Ill reserve judgment until I meet him.” My impression of Glenn Danzig is that he’s just a very determined, very purposeful person in that he has a goal in mind.
DN: Right. He doesn’t sit on his ass.
TT: Right. He’s going to go from point A to point B, and he’s going to reach that goal. And if you’re standing in the way of that… If you’re deliberately doing that, he’s going to knock you down.
DN: And he can do that, too.
TT: Yeah. If you’re doing it inadvertently, he’ll ask you to move once… And if you don’t, then he’ll knock you down, too. And people say, “Oh, he’s such as asshole” because of that, and I think that’s ridiculous. People say he’s arrogant… And maybe he is… But you have to be pretty full of yourself to be in this business to think that you’re important enough that people will want to listen to your music… to get out there and really do that. So, yeah, I respect him immensely for that. I think he’s a great person, and any negative stuff that people say about him is just bullshit.
DN: Yeah, well, I think that people he used to work with started a lot of that stuff.
TT: Most likely.
DN: Who were some of your earliest influences growing up in society?
DN: I don’t know… I used to have this whole fascination with Benjamin Franklin. I thought that he was a really cool guy that did all of these different things; he invented things, he was considered to have discovered electricity, stuff like that. He was a real Renaissance man that wrote, painted, invented… had his finger in a million different pies at the same time. And, ironically, he was actually an honorary member of the British Hellfire Club, which I found out later. I thought that was kind of cool. I’ve admired a lot of people. And while I don’t necessarily admire his writings so much, I think Aleister Crowley had an amazing life. I read Magic, Theory and Practice when I was eleven years old. So it was just all of these different things that I was exposed to. I probably have a different influence every day of the week.
DN: Where exactly do you come up with your images; with the artwork, and with the music? What inspires the imagery and your presentation?
TT: It’s a continually evolving process; in the same way that if you look at the first record, I’m clean shaven and I’ve got a bald head and everything like that, and the band has a different sort of look. We’ve gone through the thing where we wore really psychedelic clothes & really been into that sort of thing… the green plastic fur coats I was wearing for a while… and it just changes with the mood. But I think that one thing that’s been continuous is that I’ve always incorporated color. I think we’re one of the few who… well… I take that back, because I don’t want to discount Marilyn Manson as a Satanic band. But I think that, generally speaking, when you think of Satanic bands, it’s usually guys that are wearing all black, and you don’t see records that are purple, or green, or orange, or anything like that. And, for us, that lively, vibrant look is really a part of everything. We’ve certainly drawn from the psychedelic 60’s, drawn from the whole horror genre… all sorts of things like that. One of the things I really like is called paradoxical juxtapositions; things that don’t seem to make sense together, but there’s just something that’s wild and cool when you shove them together.
TT: Not necessarily, but things like taking the very old and the very new, and combining them together… that sort of thing.
DN: Is your work meticulously thought out and planned, or is it just off-the-cuff and spontaneous?
TT: Both. Sometimes I’ll spend a tremendous amount of time plotting something out; I’ll really want it to sound like this, or like this, or whatever… And sometimes songs just pop out of nowhere. And likewise, even with the graphics and things like that, sometimes I’ve thought of things for years and years that I’ve always wanted to do, and then, sometimes, I just come up with this idea at the last minute.
DN: So it can go either way?
TT: Yeah, exactly.
DN: From one extreme to the other…
DN: What are some of the bands that you’ve enjoyed playing with, and why?
TT: I liked playing with, for instance, Type O Negative: they draw a really, really wide cross-section of people. They appeal to a segment of the gothic community, a segment of the heavy metal community, and the people that are just into rock… even people who got into them because they were more of a thrash band when they started out, who look at them now and say, “You know, they don’t really play that type of music anymore, but I still like them.” And, then, those people get turned onto other bands… So, yeah, I think the more diverse an audience is, the better off we are, and the more fun it is to play to them.
DN: Danzig’s audience is pretty similar to that, too.
TT: Yeah, but not to the same degree.
TT: Well, Danzig draws more of a traditional rock audience than Type O does.
TT: Well, part of it’s that he’s been around a lot longer but, at the same time, you’re right in that he draws the punk kids who were really into the Misfits… But some of them are like, “I liked Danzig in the Misfits, but I don’t like this heavy metal cock-rock…”
DN: I don’t feel that it’s that different.
TT: I don’t think it’s that different, either, personally.
DN: Is there a particular type of music you don’t like?
TT: I really don’t like rap music, and I can’t qualify why… It’s just something that doesn’t work for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from an entirely different type of culture that I can’t relate to it in any way, shape, or form, or if it’s something else. But it’s one of the only types of music that I have absolutely no appreciation for.
DN: I actually don’t know where you got the name Electric Hellfire Club. Can you clue me in on that?
TT: Sure. The Hellfire Club was kind of a generic term for these gentlemen’s drinking clubs that sprung up around the eighteenth century in England; you know, guys would get together, and basically –not all of them were Satanically oriented- have a bunch of beers, go out, and pull pranks, raise Hell, beat people up, do all kinds of crazy shit… whatever. And it was such a phenomenon at one point that there was a law passed prohibiting the existence of Hellfire Clubs. The most famous of them was called the Monks of Medmenom, and that’s the one people are generally referring to when people talk about the Hellfire Club. That one was involved in blaspheming against God and, really, they dressed up as monks and had orgies where they hired prostitutes who dressed up like nuns and they held their meetings.
DN: Oh, a little role-playing, huh?
TT: Yeah, exactly. It was just one of those things where I had read an article about it and thought, “Wow – this is what we do’… So we talked about just calling it the Hellfire Club, but then I thought, “Fuck it.” I wanted to add something on there that kind of brought it up to date and, at the same time, give it almost a psychedelic sort of feeling to it. Back in the 60’s you had bands like the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, things like that, and I was like, “Yeah! The Electric Hellfire Club!” And I just really liked the overall feel and the connotations of the…
DN: That’s why you chose the name.
DN: Do you ever talk to the guys in Thrill Kill Kult anymore?
TT: No, we’re not really on speaking terms at this point. They’re so dead set on trying to convince everybody that I was never in their band for some fucking reason. I don’t know if they’ve been advised by their lawyers that think I’m going to sue them for back royalties or something like that… That’s why I took a poke at them in our song “Prince of Darkness”, where it says, “This is what the Devil really does!” So as far as us being friendly with each other – I don’t think it’s going to happen at this point.
DN: Have you seen your band already have an influence on any newer bands?
TT: I think so.
DN: Which ones?
TT: I can’t necessarily pick a band right off hand, but I know that there are bands that we’ve played with and, like, the next time we ended up seeing them, that they’d maybe picked something up that looks like it was influenced by us… even if it’s just the light show or something like that. I mean, there are a lot of people, and I almost don’t want to say this because it sounds like I’m trying to take credit for something that I’m not. We toured with Type O Negative several years ago, and we’ve exchanged all of our music and everything for a long time, and Peter’s been a good friend… And some people have told me that they thought that a song like “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” had sort of a Hellfire Club sound to it. I think that Type O has a pretty unique sound, but who knows? I mean, you end up playing with bands, you listen to their music, and though you don’t necessarily copy what they’re doing, it has an influence.
DN: Why all of the line-up changes over the years?
TT: Because I’m really difficult to work with… That’s another one of the reasons why I respect Glenn Danzig a lot. I think I appreciate and relate to where he’s coming from in that his band is an expression of his musical vision, as this band is my expression. And that’s not to say that people can’t contribute to it… But it’s not a musical democracy; it never has been, and it never will be. So when the bottom line comes around, I tell people what’s what. Beyond that, it’s very difficult to live on the road. On tour, I used to joke about the fact that you age a year for every month that you’re on tour. And there’s something to be said for that, because it’s like you never really get to sleep, even when you have a tour bus. If you’ve ever slept in one of those bunks, that’s like being in a little casket… like sleeping every night for a fucking month or so with somebody shaking you the whole time. And you don’t get decent food… It’s one of those things where it’s a really tough life and, on top of that, it’s hard to make money. The industry’s changed, and there are a lot less people coming out… like with kids, really, and what they’re spending their money on; Now they’ve got computer and video games, they’ve got the Internet. They’ve got all of these things… whereas when I was kid, all we really did was spend our money on records and look forward to the next concert that came to town. And it’s not really like that to the same degree; it’s not the social event of the season anymore. Some people can say, “Oh well, it wasn’t that big of a deal”… So attendances are down, ticket prices are down trying to get more people to go, which means that the bands make less money.
DN: Really? Ticket prices are down? I thought that they were up… You mean in comparison to other things?
DN: Not as a whole.
DN: Not compared to the 70’s, obviously… You could see one of the classic bands of all time, Iggy & the Stooges, for $2.00 back then.
TT: Sure. But if you look at it from the standpoint that, in order for a band like us to really expose ourselves to a lot more people, to a new audience, and get in front of other people, you’ve got to do opening slots. And in doing opening slots, you don’t make that much money… you just don’t… it’s just one of those things; we go out on tour for two and a half months, you come home broker than shit, you can’t pay your rent, you find out your girlfriend left you…
DN: Really… So it’s not as glamorous as we, the fans, might think: “Oh, these guys have the life… They get all the girls, and whatever…”
TT: It’s not… It’s really not. It’s one of those things where, honestly speaking, half the time you don’t even have enough time to talk to your fans and hang out… much less have a party or something like that. It’s just something that really doesn’t happen that much, particularly on the lower levels of things, where you’re, like, “Can we afford a hotel tonight? Can we do this, can we do that, can we do…whatever?” I mean, I’m making it sound a lot tougher than it actually is with us but, at the same time, look at what we’re traveling in (a white, domestic cargo van). We’re sacrificing a little comfort on the road so that we can make enough money that we can make ends meet when we get back home, so it makes it kind of tough. The easiest thing in the world is finding a bunch of talented people than can work together and write some kick-ass music; the hardest is for them to just fucking get along, and that’s why it’s really difficult for bands to maintain any sort of longevity.
DN: Do you worry about the future? What do you think the future holds for you?
TT: I don’t know.
DN: You can’t predict?
TT: I live life day to day. I mean, I had my best friend in the world die, and it’s one of those things where it really gives you a different sense of stuff… like when you start reconsidering: “Well, should I do this? Or should I just pack it in, get a job on Wall Street, and start saving for a future, and build a family…” – things like that. And it’s just, like, “Man, I just want to have fun… I just want to have a good time right now.”
DN: So you have no worries?
TT: I really don’t… life’s too short to have worries, I guess, is what it really comes down to. So, yeah, we’re doing the best that we can right now… and I’m probably lying to both you and myself when I say I have no worries. Honestly speaking, I’ve got to recognize that I can’t go on like this forever. But, then again, we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen… We’ve had some really good opportunities.
DN: Does Satanism see worry and fear as a sign of weakness at all?
TT: I don’t think so… I think they’re very natural emotions. I mean, fear is an instinct of self-preservation. But, at the same time, all we can do is just do our best, persevere, and continue to do what we want to do. When it gets to a point where it’s not fun anymore, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere, and it no longer makes sense to me, and I just don’t feel like doing it anymore… I’m not going to do it. Until that time, I’m going to keep on going – despite all the setbacks, the deaths, the tragedies, the line-up changes, the this, the that, the whatever…
DN: Ultimately, you’re human…
TT: Fuck yeah.
DN: Despite your beliefs, and what they might mean to other people.
TT: Well, my beliefs are about being human… about loving, and hating, and laughing, and crying.
DN: The yin and the yang… The dark and the light.
TT: Right, and that’s the whole thing… One of the whole things that I hate so much about the Judeo-Christian thing is that it doesn’t acknowledge that there is a good and a bad, a dark and a light. It was put so well in the movie Legend when Tim Curry’s Devil character is saying, “What is light without the dark?” You know… It’s nothing.
DN: How would you define evil? Or is there a definition for it?
TT: Evil is a relative term… It’s a value judgment. We obviously use it as something that is, in a kitschy way, attractive to us or whatever… that sort of thing. Evil is something you despise, like the way I refer to those Christian groups, you know? They’re fucking evil… But for us, also, we say that evil is live spelled backwards, which is what we’re all about. So what it really comes down to is that everyone creates their own definitions.
DN: So you really can’t define it?
TT: Right… what I’m saying is that I think it means something different for everyone.
DN: Any last words?
TT: I guess I would say that if you haven’t checked our stuff out – give it a listen. I feel like our music’s got a little something for everybody; and the more people that are exposed to it, the more people turn on to it.
For more on The Electric Hellfire Club visit: http://www.electrichell.com
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