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Skinny Puppy: Interview With Ogrh

The Depot - Salt Lake City, UT, United States - May 29, 2007

by Shannon Gibbs

Skinny PuppyIn the world of industrial rock, one band stands out as living legends: Skinny Puppy toured the U.S.A. they appeared at The Depot on May 29th, 2007. Hordes of fans flocked to the Depot hoping to be stimulated in a way that no other band can provide for this group of concert goers.

It was an evening straight out of a gothic/industrial culture, most everyone in their Black Sunday best. Clothing ranged from all black, to spikes (whether it was heels, collars, or other accessories,) to an array of rainbow colored thigh highs. All were here to pay homage to creators of industrial rock.

The theatrics from Skinny Puppy were varied and amazing. Using a white two sectional screen, which Ogrh danced and paraded behind, donning a variety of masks that were discernable behind the white screen but defiantly pulled you into this chaotic and emotional experience. Ogrh, spitting blood (blood capsules) and pouring himself into everything, brought the crowd to a sort of frenzied awakening of self and mind.

It seemed as though band members and audience alike were enthralled. The crowd moved with every beat, some slow some and sensuously and others caught in a moshing frenzy. Never was there a still body, for the aura was pulsating within and without of every soul present.

It's been said that bands of this sort have an almost cult type following. Inspiring pure loyalty in fans, new and old alike. Skinny Puppy definitely creates this in there followers but there is a twist. Veiled within Skinny Puppy's lead singer Ogrh, is a passionate animal lover and a side I'm sure not many know is there among the general populace.

Interview with Ogrh of Skinny Puppy, an hour before his performance.

Shannon Gibbs: How does going on stage now compare to having gone onstage your first time?

Ogrh (Singer) - In a way its coming in full circle for me, when I first went on stage when I was younger I had this huge amount of trepidation and fear and a certain amount of insecurities, that I have sort of forced myself to face on this tour in a lot of ways, by minimizing things quite a bit and also... with things I've been kinda going through before this tour kinda put me in a place where I was questioning everything I was doing. It's kind of put me back in a place where I'm dealing with a lot of the same premonitions and specters (that I was dealing with in the beginning,) so I kind of gone through this evolution. Which is good because character maintains a lot of strength and I'll always have that but kind of exploring the frailty of it has been interesting for me and all the stuff that seeps out between the seems... so that's kind of where I'm at with it right now.

SG: What does your music mean to you?

Ogrh: Survive... a non-exclusive diary in a way. There's a lot of things that have a really emotional touch-points and sores that I can't really pinpoint as far as directing instances or experiences. Definitely it kind of prefaces what happens later in my life. A lot of the music I created the first number of years kind of... was almost a premonition to what would happen a month or a year later in a lot of ways. And looking back on it becomes even more difficult in a way but it's definitely a time line. Not one I'm necessarily proud of (chuckles) but it's something I defiantly went through and tried to be as honest as I could, as I've always tried to be within the context of who I am and where I'm at. I probably shouldn't be doing this, ya know my constitution probably isn't such that... I mean its been really good for it, don't get me wrong, but If I would have looked at myself back before I started doing this, I didn't have the make-up to be an extroverted sort of performer. Although I found out that a lot of introverted people tend to make really good performers. So I found that kind of socket that's defiantly like... you know. So I think the hardest thing for me now is to like keep it so that it's both interesting to myself and to people. That's the hardest thing for me at this point in my life. Things defiantly start to change a lot.

SG: What do you want your listeners to get out of your music?

Ogrh: Well some kind of an emotional experience I think, more then anything, like the intellectual parts, the part that kind of interprets and tries to place and coordinate and find a section for whatever it is that their thinking about or feeling. I think that for me music has always been more about emotional... and the music that is really good is that music that continues to bring up those emotions whether its time and space, I mean again, it doesn't have to specify a certain time. But there's certain things that, like for me I always use this example, its probably pretty mellow toned but for me its all of Brian menos ambient stuff, its something that has followed me through my whole life those at sacred times in my life. And it's got a different kind of meaning and its all been very emotional. It hasn't been something that I can directly apply to a time period so I would hope that the music or the expression does this to people.

SG: I know that personally music has carried me through some...

Ogrh: Hard times?

SG: yeah, that's putting it mildly.

Ogrh: I can relate, me too.

SG: So how does it feel to have survived for 25 years in the music industry?

Ogrh: Really strange... it kinda just snuck up and hit us in the face. One day you wake up and you just kind of go 'wow, you've been doing this for 25 years, that's a fucking long time, ya know, a quarter of a century,' you know, you look at the life span of most bands, not to mention a band that was so full of acrimony, and kind of all of this certain amount of dissent and like... anger and just really not a good environment. The fact that it's survived this long is pretty amazing. And it's not just something that's put on. We all look at this as something we are really proud of. I think we all thought we were gonna do this one record and that would be kind of it. It would be a novelty but kind of wear off but it progressed into something which is really gratifying and I don't look at that enough, I'm too hard on myself but it is pretty cool... and challenging (laughs.)

Skinny PuppySG: When you guys got back together (after Dwayne Goettel's death) was it difficult to... mesh, get back into the swing of things for "The Greater Wrong of the Right" album?

Ogrh: Well it was interesting trying to find a sound that was kind of like... I think the biggest thing that we both agreed upon, and it was hard not to do, was go back an recreate something everybody would want to hear or that we would just do this to try and gain some notoriety propel ourselves. So we kind of chose the hard path again , doing something that was bit of left of field in some interests that we had musically at the time and apply those influences that have kind of continued on that way with this record to in the sense of, I think, not what you would expect. I think it made it a bit more challenging so that's coming back in sync with the spirit of it. That part of it is most difficult and rally easy in a lot of ways, Ya know once a lot of the ... mind fuckiness of the whole band kind of did more or less dissipated and kind of leveled out a lot of the other stuff became really easy, something natural cause its all about the devil talk and all of the insecurities that are really fucking with... that I wish I could go back and change because obviously it had a huge effect on Dwayne , and ya know, Dwayne was kind of the empathic root of all that stuff. When I look back on it now he was the one that was kind of like... even though I thought he was way more on the other side of everything, he was way more like wanting to have a family, wanting to have a band and like... you know, this thing, and I didn't see that in time and I see it so fucking clearly now. It's like a slap in the head. We defiantly like approaching it now more like a family. And we have a lot of respect in that way, we have a sibling arguments and things like that but we don't take things to the extreme and certainly in my life in the last year or so when some people I have shared my life with, ya know there's defiantly boundaries that Skinny Puppy's always kind of like, held as pure and that I've seen other people that don't so I think that its in actually a really good state.

SG: How does "Mythmaker" compare to your previous albums?

Ogrh: I think "Mythmaker" is getting more in line with something that is free flowing, a bit more, at its deepest root, really conceptual as far as I think, one of the most conceptual records we have done because of the time line and how this came together, more then it being planned as a conceptual record. I think that it has a lot of musical elements that we have been kind of trying to get back to or evolve into something that's more modern, kind of a reflection of what we were doing before and get more of a synthetic record and the album as a whole plays really well, I think for me personally. After how it kind of came together, it really plays really well and sonically I really like the way it was produced. I like the whole package, like the subtlety of it, with "The Greater Wrong of the Right" it was... this one (Mythmaker) is a bit more convoluted a bit more complicated.

SG: You've been boycotted in the past, have you had any issues of that nature with the last couple albums?

Ogrh: Only my own personal sense of self persecution, it may or may not be real, I don't know, but we defiantly had that with the "The Greater Wrong of the Right" we had groups after us, (animal rights groups) which is probably one guy sitting at a computer terminal doing whatever he's doing but still enough to kind of raise that whole spook show of the right, which kind of creeps me out right now to more then anytime in my life cause when your younger you seem to get away with more cause your young and when you get older you start to seeing things that are a bit left of center or left of what the center is for the time period. It becomes really kind of inflammatory and can be dangerous to a certain degree. Not that I... I don't mind crossing that boundaries cause I feel like in the truest sense I have already been dosed and my fate is set, so I would never speak against it. I realize now that there's a whole layer to this society thing that we don't even see, that completely works in between everything and it's very well funded and has the ability to discredit and really take away a lot of power. Especially free thinkers.

SG: Make or break type of scenario?

Ogrh: Yeah in a way, defiantly.

SG: I read about your dog (Ogrh rescued her form a park when she was close to death,) who is very adorable by the way and I was just wondering, do you support animal charities?

Ogrh: I do. I send checks every year to animal charities, I'm not as involved as I was when I was younger, but when I did get involved when I was younger I got kind of freaked out by all the in-fighting in a lot of the groups, that kind of... that really fucked me up. So I do the best that I can within my own reach as far as what I can do with rescues and stuff like that. I'm not a big fan of the SPCLA or Good Faith, there is a huge amount of genocide that goes on with animals that's just... unwarranted. I mean she (babbi) she would have been one that never got rescued by anyone. She was so fucked up when I found ser, she had this one expression, like a demon. Her eyes were all white from scar tissue and she had no hair on her ears, she was just in this manic state because she was partially blind and from just running in this park for two weeks and nobody ever stops to think, well if that was your child or you running around in a park for two weeks, completely blind, not knowing where your going, trying to get water, trying to get food, it just puts a whole different spin on things for me. But within the confinement of the system they are placed, its like if you don't like an animal you can take it back and it will generally speaking, get botanized, and she would have got youthenized for sure. It breaks my heart to see that so many really good animals get youthenized because no one takes the time to kind of work out the post traumatic stress, which we should all be so well aware of in this day and age. It exists and in people its far more hard to kick then it is in animals. Animals actually do really well as far as post traumatic stress goes, as far as how they adapt, how they deal with it. It's really amazing sometimes how they deal with it cause I know she was really abused and the way that she has come around, trusts people. The way she has worked through this stuff, it blows my fucking mind, it's like a lesson to me in a lot of ways. If other people would see that and rescue more dogs. Its like... one of my ex girlfriends rescued a little dog and she had two to pick from and she said 'well this ones really cute but its really withdrawn, but I don't know if he's got a good personality,' and I was like 'Take it,' and she took him and she has never regretted that decision. He (the dog) has come from that place to the other side of that, which is very caring and very empathic ad very... the whole other side. I don't think people see usually, they see something as being broken, something that can't be fixed. So that's one thing I wish people would do more with rescues and with pound animals in general, they make awesome pets, there is no need to be buying purebreds.

SG: I know there is a shelter down in southern Utah called 'Best Friends' where they take in animals no matter what and let them live until natural death.

Ogrh: very cool. That's what I would do. If I had enough money, and maybe one day I will, knock on wood, that's exactly what I want to do, just have it completely open, have the money to fund vets ya know but it would be really expensive to operate. Live my life on it, that would be fucking awesome.

SG: so that's what you would do if you couldn't do music?

Ogrh: That's what I would do yeah, defiantly something with animals.

Skinny PuppySG: so do you guys have any side projects in the works right now?

Ogrh: Yeah, I have an Oghr project that I'm going to start working on called "Blurry Dotted I's," that's going to be based on everything that she (his dog) has seen over the last six months with me, through her eyes. So that's the Ogrh project, and I know Kevin's working on a downloaded project... and his vault series is finished.

SG: do you have any pre or post show rituals you go through to prepare yourself (to go on stage)?

Ogrh: I'm trying to stretch more and then post show is, it's her actually (points at his dog.) Weird thing for me is I come off and can be just completely amped out and fidgety and even before I'm fidgety and she totally absorbs it... she keeps me all centered and to be able to run off and see her and she is all excited to see me, its fuckin cool as shit.

SG: Animals do that, unlike people. People take in your negative energy. Animals like take it and... disburse it.

Ogrh: they do tend to disperse it. Which I don't know how they do it, it definitely goes through them for some reason ya know. I think cause there's no judgment .

SG: Unconditional love?

Ogrh: Its totally unconditional. So yeah, that's kind of the only thing I'm doing. Just trying to walk a bit more, stay active and not drink as much (chuckles.)

SG: Well is there anything you want to say to fans?

Ogrh: wow, just thanks for coming along for the ride. Hope they enjoy it, I don't know, is there gonna be a lot of people out tonight do ya think?

SG: oh yeah, tons.

Ogrh: Cool, yeah I never know what to say to anybody because sometimes I'm just like, still questioning why people are here in the first place but I appreciate it so... gotta keep it real.

SG: They believe in you.

Ogrh: I appreciate that.

SG: Well thank you very much (for the interview.) Lookin forward to the show.

Ogrh: Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy it.

And enjoy it I did. The energy was high, the crowd stimulated and excited, the band gave its everything it had. No one could ask more of any concert they see, any band they love or any music they revere.