Neill Jameson of Krieg is one of the more fascinating people you will ever come across. Outspoken, articulate, philosophical, funny, and mild-mannered could all describe the man based on meeting him say, if you bumped into him at the bookstore or record shop. However, anyone witnessing him perform or create music, has a very different image in their mind. As one of the most important figures in the USBM scene, he clearly is more about “the work” and not about the accolades. In an exclusive interview with Ghost Cult’s Hillarie Jason, Neill discusses some changes going on in his life, the next Krieg album due in 2016, his thoughts on coping with mental illness, and other topics.
Neill recently moved to Virginia from southern New Jersey, and we opened things up by discussing how that is affecting the creation of a next Krieg album.
“Virginia is a nice change from Jersey in a lot of ways but mostly it’s just been a much needed change in my life that I’m hoping continues to stay positive. Plus I’m fortunate to live in a city that has a good music scene so there’s always something to look forward to.”
“Having a different place to work through ideas always helps. I have a lot of different places I haven’t explored yet but I’m able to take long walks that ease my mind and let me think through the ideas I want to convey with this next record, both sonically and lyrically.”
The forthcoming new Krieg album, entitled Guilt is due in 2016. It promises the progression of Krieg’s growth from Transient (Candlelight), which was definitely a different animal sonically than Isolationist (also Candlelight) was. So should we assume that Guilt will be just as different? “Yeah, we’re going to get together to start putting it together after the new year. There’s been less time between the two so I imagine there’s going to be more similarities between those two than there was between Isolationist and Transient. But I’m more inspired this time around by hardcore and crust than even the last one so there’s probably going to be a strong emphasis on that, without the shitty tough guy posturing.”
Speaking of shitty tough guys, Neill has commentated on the foibles of such men in the metal scene in his occasional op-ed series for Decibel Magazine. He was equally praised and condemned by keyboard warriors regarding his past observations on bigotry, chauvinism, and elitism in metal. We asked how he dealt with the praise and backlash:
“I’m happy to have some kind of platform to speak out about stupidity in general, be it about stupid shit like horse masks and chicken costumes or the heavier stuff I’ve dealt with the last few columns. I’m also very used to people talking shit about me on the internet so this isn’t anything new nor will it be something that goes away. So I don’t particularly care one way or the other. I’m not interested in being a social justice warrior nor do I think censorship in case someone’s fucking feelings get hurt is a good idea. I’m all in favor of freedom of speech and expression but I’m also aware those come with consequences, an idea not a lot of these dry dicks hollering at me while their mothers are upstairs drinking away the memory of having a failure of a child can seem to grasp. But I’ve spent long enough being a shithead myself so now’s my chance to atone a bit I guess.”
Neill has been candid about his struggles with mental illness publicly and in past interviews. So much so that it may have paved the way for a public discussion in the music community on these topics, since a lot of heavy music imagery and lyrics focuses on madness. We asked what, if anything if the underground music community can do to break the stigmas attached to mental illness, bipolar disorder, etc.?
“Odd you bring that up right now. Yesterday I made the decision after five years off to go back on meds to treat my bi-polar depression and anxiety. I was going to try to use my writing to document the experience and try to follow in a lot of people’s footsteps and keep the dialogue about mental illness in music and art in general open and flowing. There’s less of a stigma to it now than ten years ago, but also everyone’s doctor has them on something for shit they probably don’t even need treatment for and that’s what kept me from being on them for so long, it had stopped making a difference and I felt the whole thing was a fucking sham, I still do for the most part, but I’m also at a place in my life where I know I need help otherwise I’m going to fucking ruin things for myself which I almost did when I did Blue Miasma and again after The Isolationist and I want to see if exploring this will somehow be beneficial to myself and maybe others through sharing the experience.”
Neil is well known for a slew of collaborative projects and split releases. We wondered if it’s easier to run your own band with no interference: “I don’t just have myself to think about anymore, that’s a big part of it. A lot of people who suffer from these conditions aren’t aware how it affects those close to them, I have been aware for a long time and that’s where the “guilt complex” comes in but it’s been recently that I’ve decided it’s not a cycle I want to keep reliving. It doesn’t add to my “creativity” or anything positive.”
“The collaborations I do have each been so entirely different that I focus on them more as a way to learn new methods and techniques from other artists and how to incorporate them into my own music. So they’re entirely different experiences to me so I can’t say if one is necessarily easier than the other.”
On working with working with Thurston Moore (in Twilight):
“One of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve ever had. Plus he’s such an open and excited collaborator that it made what we were doing all the more vivid and dynamic. I would love for the chance to work with him again on something.”
“As opposed to other previous Twilight members, two in particular, who just dialed it in and sat back to collect praise and whatever money was available.”
Krieg recently left Candlelight Records and signed with Profound Lore Records: “Jef Whitehead brought up that we were about to be released from our Candlelight contract to Chris Bruni and it went from there. I’ve had contact with Chris since he wrote for Metal Maniacs and I’m a big fan of some of the bands on his label, and also just how he has built an empire with his own two hands in the image of exactly how he wants it to go. I look forward to causing the label to lose a lot of money and respect worldwide with this next record.”
In general Neill has had a fairly prolific couple of years. What is his regular creative process like or does he prefer to work project to project?
“It’s sporadic. For most of this year I barely picked up a guitar or wrote any lyrics. Other times it’s like I can’t turn it off. I don’t know what causes this to happen, it’s like the seasons change. It’s always been like this.”
“I could sit and force it but you can tell when I do that. I’d rather just let it come naturally.”
Commenting further on the release date: “Sometime next year. Same with the split with Integrity.
The split’s been recorded for about a year and is the best song we’ve ever recorded and the general basis for the next record so they tie in nicely with each other.”
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