“We haven’t been doing any interviews, so it’s a miracle it’s been getting out there at all. Europe seems to be latching on to this record, so that is good.”
These are the first words Stavros Giannoplous said to me concerning the just released final album from bleak black metal super-group Twilight, III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb (Century Media). In addition to Stavros, the group is made up of underground metal luminaries like Wrest (Jeff Whitehead, of Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice) Imperial (Neill Jameson) (Krieg, N.I.L.) and Sanford Parker (Corrections House, Minsk, Nachtmystium, Buried At Sea) and alt-rock legend Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth, Chelsea Light Moving). Steve was on tour with his main band, The Atlas Moth, but took time to chat with Ghost Cult back stage at The Sinclair, in Cambridge MA. He talked about the difficulty in finishing the album, some drama going on in the band, the idea of a whether a super-group can really work in this day and age, and working with Thurston Moore.
Right off the bat, he first touched on why Twilight is ending:
“The reason this is the final record is with all the negative shit that’s going down with Blake (Judd), I think it’s just best. Me and Jeff, Sanford and Neill are all really close friends. I have seen everyone, all but Jeff on this tour and we wanted to continue to make music. But at this point we are just mired in bullshit. Also before we started this band, before I even became involved with it there were no movies with sparkly vampires (laughs). Shit’s changed and it’s for the best. I was in Philadelphia just 48 hours ago and we were talking about doing something else eventually, so there is always a door open to work with Neill, Jeff, and Sanford again, just not under this name. We definitely won’t call it Twilight. I wouldn’t say its the total end of the band, but the end of this chapter with this band. We we very adamant about cutting the ties. Especially since Blake isn’t even on this last record.
Pulling no punches, Stavros gave us an inside view of the events leading up to Blake’s departure from the group and the aftermath of trying to finish the record without him:
He brought in a couple of songs, but once everything went down, that was it. It was two songs and they made up a very short amount of the record. We were just, not wanting to deal with this anymore. He had pulled some really backhanded shit, and I won’t go into the details. The songs he brought in, we got rid of them and made it known that this was it. He’s got problems. Unfortunately at some point or another when you end up in a scenario when you are constantly getting shit on, whether it’s on purpose or not, or just happenstance, it doesn’t matter that someone is just fucked up. At some point or another, no matter how much you care about a person, you can’t deal with them business wise. When I met Blake, he was not as nearly as fucked up as he is now. People change that way. I absolutely wish him the best, and good luck to him.
We mused about the notion that by nature super-groups are not really meant to last. Stavros argued that it depends on the collection of artists in question:
“Look at even Down, right? That band put out one of the best fucking records I have ever heard in my entire life to this fucking day, and what did it take, 7-8 years before they ever put out another record. It was a while. It kind of all depends on the timing, I guess. With this particular group, there isn’t a live presence to our band, nor will there never will be. So I just can’t see it being in the forefront in out minds. See Imperial does stuff all the time. Sanford does production all day long, and also he has Corrections House now, which is almost like a full time band now. This is something like the flip side with a so called super-group where Corrections House can work. That is one of those things for instance for Bruce, where Yakuza and Bloodiest don’t work all the time. Sanford doesn’t have a full-time band. And both EyeHateGod and Neurosis tour limitedly. So these guys, that is the other side of coin of the super-group story. Like “Oh! Something like this works, because we had some free time.” Or we happen to have some free time. So for Twilight, particularly for our group, inevitably it would get longer between records, or maybe even never have another one. You never know.”
Since most of the remaining members of the group live far from each other in some cases, we asked about the creative process and how the tracking was all done: “Jeff was living in Chicago at the time, so he and I wrote the bulk of the record together. Actually all the guitar riffs that weren’t Thurston’s, were written by me and Jeff. And you know…we just added on top of it and added on top of it, and added on top of it. It’s much different than a band that is just in one studio. Thurston came in and did his parts. We could do all kinds of looping and other crazy shit. All of the sudden someone is banging on a jug of water, which is cool. The two records that we did together, we just settled into a certain vibe. That is just how it works. That is how we write music for that band. It kind of showed. The song structures definitely vary throughout any of the Twilight records, and we were pretty loose form wise, and we definitely got experimental with the writing.”
Century Media is doing a very nice, limited digipack release of the album along with other formats. We asked about the value of limited edition releases, and if other versions will be forthcoming.
“The vinyl is out. You know honestly as far as I know, there will only be the digipack and the vinyl forever. Because I didn’t do any more layout work than that. At the time everything was going down with Blake, everyone was mad at each other, not particularly us at each other, but more all of us at Blake. really. And so when that started happening, everyone stopped giving a fuck. And then our relationship with the A & R guy fell apart, so I had to take control of everything business wise and then I got busy with some other business opportunities too. I really didn’t have much help. And I didn’t really want to take the time to put together a booklet for a record that everyone had checked out on, since everyone was so mad. So there is not going to be more a limited release than there is now, but knowing Century Media, they will keep it in print anyway.”
Sometimes in the business of music the challenges come from outside of the band too, as Stavros learned: “I’ve always done all the business for The Atlas Moth. But this is like a machine. It’s the five of us, a well-oiled machine working together, grooving together and sharing the responsibilities together. I am not running the show here by any means. We’ve all worked our way up together, so we know how the inner workings of the band goes. But all of the sudden when it comes to being voted in as the guy to handle stuff, someone already had their hands in the pot mixing things up before me. So I was the guy that almost had to come in and clean it up. It was definitely a bit much for me, and I was already dealing with a ton of crap. The Atlas Moth will always be my first and foremost priority. So I was doing countless, worthless hours dealing with bullshit, doing stuff for a record no one seemingly gave a fuck about. I’m really happy everything came together, and we are all really proud of it. But at the same time, under the circumstances, you can hate something! (laughs) The things that bring up memories from the record, man, that could really piss you off. But in hindsight we are all still really stoked on it now that we’ve gotten a little hindsight. It’s been almost two years since we recorded it.”
One of the real bright spots of the record was working with Moore. Not only did the mainstream media latch on to the notion of him joining the band, the band was equally intrigued about working with him. A seemingly random sequence of events led to their collaboration:
“He came in for the second half of the session. We did two sessions and he came in for the second week. The Sonic Youth sound guy worked with Sanford in his studio in Chicago. He told us Thurston was really into black metal. This was around the time of the second record. And we said “Send some of this stuff to Thurston Moore and see what he thinks about it. And see if we wants to do a record with us.” And he did! (laughs) And I was like “Well I’ll be damned!” (laughs) “We’d better write a brand new Twilight record!” He was incredible. He was super rad to work with. He was totally mellow and great to work with. He totally knew his black metal. It was fucking awesome to be able to write a record with that dude. And also to watch him play and get that much closer to someone with a unique style, it was awesome. He was super awesome to work with. We talked about including him for future sessions, which I would love. He is just a music library. He is fucking incredible. I don’t know how that guy puts it all together in his head. He’s something else man!”
Keith “Keefy” Chachkes