In a dark dark street there was a dark dark door and through the dark dark door there were some dark dark stairs and up the dark dark stairs into a dark dark room a man called Aleister X lived (for those who don’t quite get the reference, have a look here). Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with ‘the dark pearly king of clubberland’ via e mail…
Cat On The Wall: Hello Aleister X. Where are you right now and what are you up to?
Aleister X: I’m in New York City. I am working on materials for my upcoming EP, “The Git.” Photo shoots with artists Andrew Strasser, and Jon Lewis. Video shoots with directors Clipto, and Coma Club. Studio sessions with Andrew W.K. at his Skyscraper Music Maker Studio. I’m very excited about “The Git.” It will be released in June 2010. Andrew and I have finished most of the tracks for a total of 3 EPs (including, my first one, “Bangers and Beans”) and a full length. “The Git” EP will sound and look amazing, in limited edition vinyl with insert, and iTunes download with booklet. There may even be a CD version.
COTW: What are your musical roots? When and how did you discover your passion for music?
AX: My musical roots are in punk & post-punk, metal, rock operas, RAP, Rainbow gathering drum circles, Goa Trance acid orgies, Grateful Dead parking lot jams, Bitch Tracks, dark house, Jack from TSOL, Gibby Haines (Butthole Surfers), Lee “Scratch” Perry, ATR, Public Enemy, J-pop, Little Jon and The East Side Boys, Manny Fresh, Mantonix. Like 20 million things.
I guess I discovered my passion for music when I was a young lad of 4, at the Rajneesh Compound on Tollinger Lane, in Goa. There was always loads of drummers and hours and hours of jamming and dancing. Mum had an ARP 2500 running through an Roland Space Echo into a ’68 Marshall stack.
One day a Roland CR 78 drum machine appeared on the Main Stage. A stranger dressed in black took my little hand and led me to the top of the Main Stage, Mum was wailing, the people were whirling, and I stared pressing buttons on the CR 73. There rest is all a blur of ecstatic thrills I have spent my life chasing, through all sorts of changes. Like David Bowie.
COTW: Your lyrics and vocal style remind me of the works of John Cooper Clarke. Would you say your words have a punk poetry element? What inspires you lyrically?
AX: That’s an interesting comparison, and one I’ve never heard. I was never exposed to his work. I will check it out.
I would say there’s poetry at work in my lyrics. I used to fancy myself a poet once. An artfag as well. My lyrics are often very moody. An acres-load of words. I just love words, you know. I’m inspired by slang words from the past and present. Sometimes I just write a song around a word or phrase, like “Bangers and Beans”, “The Git”, “Tom Tit”. Cities like Tokyo, London, New York, and LA inspire me. My life, the people I’ve known, the things I’ve done inspire me.
I write my songs in a kind of rock opera libretto vision. They are all connected and tell the stories that allow me to exist in form and content, on recordings and in performance.
COTW: Visually you appear to be quite a surreal and off the wall person, a bit The Munsters meets Salvador Dali, particularly in some of your videos. There’s also a lot of humour. Why this particular image?
AX: Yes, just like Vans and MJ.
They say laughter is the best medicine but they are fuckwads. I go out of my way to be as miserable as possible. That’s fucking obvious, innit? I don’t even remember laughter anymore. When you’re into the dark void of something as sinister as I am, there is just nothing left to laugh at. That’s where laughter ultimately leads. This is the great secret of all mystery cults and societies. You spend your whole life laughing right, just havin’ a non-stop fucking laugh, right, and it gets to be like you’ve got to keep going deeper and further to get that laugh. You’re going for it way over the top in everything all fucking day, for years and years. Then one day, out of the blue, friends stop laughing with you. All of a sudden, you’re the only one laughing and it freaks them out. They split real fast, and leave you in the lurch over all kinds of petty shite. But you don’t care coz you’re still laughing. That’s when The Darkside starts calling.
The image is the natural progression of the scene damaged, iconoclast I am. I like to keep it real.
COTW: How do construct a song musically? Do you have a set process or instrument that you always begin with?
AX: Like the great producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, I start every song with the beat. I learned this from him. The drums are the foundation, the heart. The drums and bass make the soul. The guitars and keys are the spirit. The voice brings together spirit and soul. Structure and form in popular music is everything. It’s all about ABACAB, II-V-VII, verse-chorus-verse, chorus-verse-chorus, the old ways are the good ways.
COTW: There’s word that you’ll be touring soon… is this true and if so is there anything you can tell us? Is performing live important to you?
AX: Yes, I’ll be touring soon. There have been some set-backs along the way. I still need booking agents for UK/EU/US (the world). I feel like I’m zeroing in on the right people, but who knows.
Performing live is very important to me. I like green rooms and sound techs, and really letting go and doing things off the cuff. I really love Scooter and the intensity of their live shows and videos.
COTW: Are you working on any new material at the moment? You mentioned in an interview with Playmaker that you’ll be putting together a rock/disco operetta, is this a work in progress?
AX: I am always working on new material. In fact I am almost finished all the demos for what will be my second album. The songs for the 3 EPs and full length on AWK’s label were mostly written 2 years ago. I like to stay a few years ahead of myself, and 5 years ahead of my time.
I ended up writing and recording 23 demo songs for the opera over last summer. It’s definitely on the back burner and a work in progress.
COTW: What are you listening to and/or reading right now?
AX: Been listening to a lot of Scooter, Nile, The Mummies, Rammstein, and Schooly D.
COTW: Finally, what are you plans for the near future?
AX: Skinnin’ up a nice spliff and start throwin’ a hissy fit. Later.