Indieterria meets Membranes


Forget the saying “never meet your heroes”. Sometimes you just have to meet them! When we heard that John Robb is working on a new material, we immediately knew we wanted to speak to him about it. John is not only a musician, magazine editor (he runs the wildly popular Louder than War magazine) and journalist. He is also a poet, a modern philosopher and an artist. His works have been shaping musical landscape since 1977 and Membranes are considered as one of the most influential punk/alternative rock outfits in the history of British music.

We sat down with John a couple of days before his (sort of) homecoming gig at the Manchester Ritz to discuss the new album, forces of nature, our place in the natural order of the universe and performing with a choir! It was a huge pleasure and priviladge to interview our childhood hero, so if you have one, don’t wait and apporach them. Disappointments happen, but so does the magic. And for us it was a magical experience.

Membranes photographed by jay3008

John Robb (vocals, bass)
Nick Brown (guitar)
Peter Byrchmore (guitar)
Rob Haynes (drums)

Official bio: This one comes with their own Wikipedia entry!

“What Natures Gives… Nature Takes Away” is your first studio album since 2015 and a follow up to the acclaimed “Dark Matter/Dark Energy”. Four years is a long time. Can you tell us how this album shaped from its conception to the final mixes?

John Robb: We got busy. We didn’t expect the last album to go as well as it did and we were sidetracked by touring and life. All the time though the idea of the next album was germinating (ha!) like a seed. There is no rush for a band like ours, we are not a teenage hit machine. This stuff is art and art takes time. Just create when you are ready. Don’t wait for permission on how and when you create. When it was ready, it was ready. There were always ideas and when they had a grand scheme to fit into to with the nature thing then it all fell intom place. Making a record as epic and ambitious as this is, of course, a gamble. The underground scene has lots of rules and you are expected to conform by them! In many ways underground music is even more tightly regulated by what you are perceived to be allowed to do than the so called mainstream. Alternative music is often not that alternative, is it?

The album’s title, quickly brings connotation to the famous Bible verse “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). Was it something you wanted the listeners to notice and think about? Are we, as human beings, at the mercy of the forces of nature?

The front cover of “What Nature Gives”

John Robb: Yes, the album is about the beauty and violence of nature. It’s also about how we are the nature and as you say we are at the mercy of the forces of nature. We are at the mercy of its ebbs and flows. We do our best to try and break away but we are just chimps in suits. We like the idea of biblical preachers against a stormy sky shouting at nature. Like the good book can even have any control on the mighty forces already unleashed way before a god was even invented. As human beings, we are merely navigating this swirl of wildness and hoping for the best.

The “natural theme” is omnipresent on the record. Looking at the song titles, one cannot miss multiple references to animals (“Murder of Crows”, The City Is An Animal”), plants (“Demon Seed/Demon Flower”) or forests (“Deep In The Forest Where The Memories Linger”). Are we looking at concept album, or “dark rock opera” as one of the reviewers called it?

John Robb: “Dark rock opera” is a pretty cool term! There is a concept running through the album but it’s not as literal as it sounds. The songs take the themes of nature but each song is its own entity but the tracks run in an order. For me, it’s very much an album with each piece in place and not loads of tracks chucked together. Like a book with chapters! “A Strange Perfume” is about the power of pheromones and the powerful primal instinctive urge of the perfumes of our own scent whilst “A Murder Of Crows” is about the dark power of crows – their mystical power, their smartness and their cunning cruelty. The song also looks back on the roots of the word “murder” back to the plains of India where it is an actual Hindu word. “Demon Seed/Demon Flower” is a dark dub built around the themes brought up by Baudelaire – it’s a Baudelaire dub! It’s about how sex runs right through nature and we celebrate the voluptuous flowers trying to attract each other’s attention in the battlefield of life. “Deep In The Forest” is a celebration of the tomblike silence at the centre of the darkest first, a place where you can hear nature sigh in its eternal woody silence. It’s also part of a theme for the perfume we are working on with Lush which will be called “A Strange Perfume”! It smells of the erotic dampness, leaf mould and autumnal richness of the forest – a place where your memories linger for eternity.

Back cover of the new album

Two songs, however differ from the rest, thematically and musically. “Pandora’s Box” and “Mother Ocean/Father Time” seems to be inspired by classical Greek mythology.  Can you tell us more about them?

John Robb: “Pandora’s Box” is the apocalyptic end piece of the album. It is about the power of love and lust and the curveballs that nature throws at us in life and that moment in time when you have to jump in and open the box.

“Mother Ocean/Father Time” is about the ocean and it’s also about my grandfather, a French Canadian who used to work on the cable ships as they crossed the Atlantic in the early 20th century. They used to call it the most dangerous job in the world. Eventually he stopped over in London for a couple of days and had the briefest of dalliances with my grandmother and was never seen again. I liked that mystery to their brief affair, that intensity of the moment against the backdrop of the mighty ocean. The music was written to reflect that with the riff being the churning of the waves and the salt stained seas, another celebration of the sheer power of nature. I used to live by the sea and loved that line between suburbia and the wild ocean. On one side the thin veneer of civilisation and on the other the wild and mysterious depths.

The record, which is set to be released on June 7th, is a double album full of intriguing guests: Chris Packham, Kirk Brandon (Spear of Destiny) and even a 20 – person choir. You have previously worked with Estonian female choir Sireen for festival slots and BIMM choir for a tour in the UK. Which choir have you employed on this occasion?

John Robb: I like working with guests. I think rock bands don’t have to be so rigid. We have done so many collaborations over the years. We played in Mexico last night and did a live collaboration with a local band who are called Descartes A Kant (who are really worth checking out). We had one rehearsal and a get on stage kind of affair and that is the kind of risk taking that always creates great art. The choir we used on this album is recruited from BIMM – we can’t afford to fly an Estonian choir around. It’s the price you pay for having ideas bigger than your budget. I put the call out on Facebook for a choir and Claire Pilling, who teaches singing at BIMM college came back to us and recruited the choir. It was great working with the Sireen choir who I saw play a festival in Estonia 5 years ago and asked if they wanted to do a gig with us straight after. They said yes and we played two amazing and brilliantly received gigs in Estonia with them which is where this album really started.

We want to ask you about another person who is featured on the album – dame Shirley Collins, the force behind English Folk Revival of 1960s and 1970s. What an incredible woman. She is 83 years old this year and just released her new album herself. Was it hard to convince dame Collins to appear on the record? It does look a bit like Metallica/Marianne Faithfull collaboration!

John Robb: Shirley is amazing. I met her through filming stuff for Lush, the cosmetics chain, who have created a media channel which I film content for. She was in Lush one night at the launch of a film about her and it was great to meet her. She is a wonderful woman. I asked her if she wanted to do a piece for the album and an hour later she was reading this great piece about the South Downs and the power of music and how it comes out of the very soil of the surrounding hills. Her description of the flowers and birds in the Sussex hills is so evocative and perfect and one of the highpoint of the album for me.

“What Nature Gives” comes with an incredible sleeve artwork that is actually a Gothic Victoriana painting by artist Valentine Cameron Prinsep, a relative to Julia Margaret Cameron, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. The title of the painting does sound like something Nicky Wire would come up with: “At The First Touch Of Winter Summer Fades Away”. How did you come across this piece?

John Robb: I did a Google search! I was putting key words from the album and then searching through images and hoping something powerful and evocative would come up. What I needed was a piece of artwork that would reflect the themes of the album: the transient nature of nature, life and death and the passing of the seasons and the second that image appeared I know it was perfect. I like it because it is the seasons and death and also because its quite erotic and tragic and full of flowers and lingering and tragedy – just like the album!

The release is being promoted by leading single “A Strange Perfume”, where the band members are shown singing among the ballet dancers clad in black. The video is surprisingly dark and has some sort of nervousness to it. It was directed by Anya Cinnamon Machin – visual artist and cinematographer based in Manchester. Please tell us more about the story behind the video.

John Robb: The song itself was about the erotic power of scent. A celebration of the sensuality of all five senses like in the Kama Sutra where all the subtlties of attraction are celebrated. The idea was to have a ballet dancer as we hate mimed band videos and prefer something a bit off kilter. I think the world is a bit too full of blokes pretending to play guitars in videos and we didn’t want to throw another one out there. Anya is a brilliant young film maker from Manchester and it was a pleasure working with her. We are collaborating on a new video with her now – an animation. We wanted “A Strange Perfume” to be dark and shadowy and also to take an influence from the film Black Swan. That edgy tightrope walking film about the nature of intensity and madness – all themes that we are fascinated by.

Not sure if somebody else observed it before us but there is a strong representation of females on that release: from the Persephone/Demeter figures on the cover, to guests such as dame Shirley Collins, to video director, choir members and ballet dancers in the videos. Its very uplifting in the male dominated industry.

John Robb: Yes! Great that you noticed. We wanted to make a record that broke down the traditional “4 blokes against the world” nature of rock music. There are many bands that are great at that and some of them are my favourites but there’s no point in us joining that eternal queue. We were bored of that macho conservative world and thought of ways to break it up. Using the choir was one. The human voice in harmony is one of the greatest sounds imaginable and to hear that harmony in a modern world that is full of shouting and not very much listening, is quite something. Having that many women around, changes the dynamic of things and the sound and texture of the music. It was great to have guests like 84 year old folk singer Shirley Collins on the album, firstly, because we love her music and, secondly, because we want to celebrate age and wisdom and the beauty of older people. Jordan is on there because she is one of my best mates and an iconic presence who defined punk with an artful brilliance that made her so key. She had inspired us when we were growing up.

Right after the release of the record, you embark on a tour that will take you all over the UK (Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool among other dates), Europe and even to Mexico. What can we expect from you on stage?

John Robb: The music is still physical and will be played in a physical way. There are many epic moments but you can still dance to it. We will bring the choir to as many gigs as we possibly can and try and make something spectacular if we can.

In an recent interview with GigSluts you jokingly said that Membranes can only operate on a grand scale. Here’s our last question: imagine you have no restriction of any kind (financial, timely or artistic) when it comes to the production of your upcoming gigs. What do you go for? Las Vegas residency, grand opening at the Carnegie Hall or Michael Jackson-like world tour?

John Robb: I would love to play epic events like the Carnegie Hall! We did check how much it would cost to hire once and it was a lot! (laughing) We’d love to play at the Griffiths Observatory in LA, The Royal Albert Hall in London or the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow. All brilliant locations with the choir and a sense of the spectacular. I love off-the-wall locations. We played the top of Blackpool Tower a couple years ago and we love cinemas where we can use the screen to play a film! I would also love to play caves or in the middle of a forest. Or have this 3D immersive light show that I have been working on. Just need the money to make it all work. Of course, it’s all very ambitious but ambition is the driver in breaking barriers in art, isn’t it?

Listen to Membranes on their official Spotify chanel:

And follow them on their socials:

Membranes new album is available at:

Membranes will play Ritz in Manchester on Saturday the 8th of June with supports from Glove, The Pack (Theatre Of Hate), Liines, Queen Zee and HENGE.
More information about the event can be found at:
Last remaining tickets  can be purchased from:

We will be in the front row, so expect a detailed review from the frontlines!
Till then,

Malcia and Rita

Interview logs – Steve Howard

Hello world!

We are saving the best for the last! The last day of November, the last blog for this month and a very special interview – can it be any better?  David and Malicia, admins for Ascension of The Watchers community page on Facebook (, have teamed up to speak to Steve Howard, a world class music producer and engineer. It was a great experience for everyone involved, except for poor Rita who struggled for 4 days with the interview layout!
We do not like to brag, but this interview seems to be the best we ever did! Please read on and  find out for yourselves!



You will know the man by the company he keeps, an old proverb says. Steve Howard has not only collaborated with the biggest names in rock music but he also calls them his friends. He has worked in the studio with Led Zeppelin, A-Ha, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Nick Drake, Gary Wallis of Pink Floyd, Gregory Isaacs and many others. He is also a member of the acclaimed electronic duo arado. And when a man like Steve is contacting you himself to send a newly created mix, you’d be crazy not to use this opportunity to ask few questions.

Steve Howard Interview page 1

Steve Howard Interview page 1

Vanadian Avenue: Tell us why have you decided to remix “Moonshine” by Ascension of The Watchers? Who came up with the idea?

Steve Howard: When John Bechdel and I were working on the arado album at his home in leafy Pennsylvania, Burton C. Bell would often come down and was a tremendous support to me and John and the whole arado project. I think one night John put some Ascension of The Watchers tracks on and I absolutely loved “Moonshine”. On a good day I see music in colours and it was beautiful shades of blue and silver and had so much emotion. I instantly felt a connection to the song and heard harmonies and ideas, so I asked Burton if he would mind if I reworked his song. He said “Go for it!” which made me feel great that he trusted I would be sensitive to his and Johns baby. As a song writer I know it takes a lot of trust to allow someone to get involved in the creative process.

Vanadian Avenue: “Moonshine” is a fan favourite. Were you afraid of their reaction?

Steve Howard: To be honest I hadn’t thought that far ahead when I reworked it. I just love music and did there working because I wanted to hopefully enhance an already beautiful song and then play it on my I-Pod! I find with producing, writing or working on songs, if I don’t want to listen to it why would anyone else? Another process I like to do is to take my I-Pod where ever I go (ok quite often the pub) and make anyone who wants to listen give me their feedback, which I find is a great way to find out if a song is working. I don’t like to be elitist, so I will play to anyone who wants to listen, be it 18 – 80 years old, male or female.

Of course the first person I sent the mix to was Burton, which was nerve racking as he was busy and didn’t get back to me for 3 days. When I got the reply my heart sank!! (at first). It said Hi Steve, “I don’t like the mix……..I absolutely love it!!!!” Hoorah!!
So after the market research and Burton liking it, no I wasn’t worried (too much) that you guys would like it. But I was really excited to share it with you all and even mentioned that to Burton when he came to Brisbane and he was already on the case.

Steve Howard Interview page 2

Steve Howard Interview page 2

Vanadian Avenue: Where and when the track was remixed?

Steve Howard: I reworked the track in my home studio (Destination Studios) in Brisbane, Australia back in July (2012).

Vanadian Avenue: Anything funny happened in the studio during the mix?

Steve Howard: My twin 6 year old girls (Emma and Lucy) came down and heard me singing the harmony on “Moonshine” and asked me what I was doing? I explained I was singing a harmony with Burton’s vocal, they asked who Burton was, so I showed some Fear Factory songs on YouTube! It was pretty funny watching my girls dancing off the walls and pirouetting in their pink tutu’s to “Replica!”

Vanadian Avenue: Please tell us something about yourself. So far you have been a bit of a mystery-man to many people. Steve Howard: Well I have been trying to get a handle on what the hell is going on since I was born! I started writing songs when I was about 5 (they weren’t very good! But at least I was trying) and started playing live at 12 and was lucky enough to play venues such as the Marquee and Roxy. Myself and my friend Moof became a little bit like cuddly mascots for bands like Souixsie and the Banshees, The Damned, Spizz Oil, The Nipple Erectors (Shane McGowan from The Pogues band before The Pogues), and we would go and see Generation X (Billy Idols band), The Clash, 999, The Buzzcocks, Wire (brilliant band!), Slaughter and the Dogs, The Stranglers (also brilliant), Dead Boys and about another 100 bands!!

It was very exciting times and I must say I have always stayed a punk at heart!! In my late teens I started getting involved seriously with recording and spent 2 years engineering two sessions a day, seven days a week in a studio in South London. In that time I worked on stuff by Led Zeppelin, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Nick Kershaw.  One of the bands I was recording for a year or two (and who also lived in my studio) were called A-ha and that is when my guitar became much more famous than me!! (laughs) You can see the famous guitar here:

When A-ha filmed the video for “Take on Me” I gave them a lift to the studio and leant them my pride and joy, my 3 pickup f hole 1964 Rickenbacker semi acoustic! It appeared in every Warner Brothers cinema across America in a trailer for the movie ET!! Since then I have just been living in different continents meeting lots of different people and still trying to get a handle on what the hell’s going on!!

Steve Howard Interview page 3

Steve Howard Interview page 3

Vanadian Avenue: What are the nearest plans for your project arado?

Steve Howard: Arado is really a culmination of John Bechdel and my musical experience and we are hoping to put it on the world stage next year. You can see our first video “Starry Night” here:

You can also listen to the first album “Spooky Action at a Distance” at:

The main idea for arado was to create our own universe and make it a lot more fun and exciting than the one we live in! We are working on a trilogy of albums which will tell the arado story with a cast of various robots, aliens and space ships (check out Burton C Bell`s character, “Dr Scharnhorst Goodheart” at the arado website which will then be turned into a movie. We are also working with an incredible CGI animator in Estonia called Taavi Torim who is creating the visual Universe for arado. His animations have appeared in many History Channel shows (“Ancient Aliens”, “The Universe”) and even NASA has used his animations.

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for answering our questions!

Steve Howard: Glad you guys liked my work on “Moonshine”. I have been talking with Burton C Bell and am hoping at some stage (Burton’s schedule permitting) to work on some new material with him. Love, Peace and Biscuits!

Steve Howard Interview page 4

Steve Howard Interview page 4

Interview by Malica Dabrowicz and David J Mazur
Layout by Rita Dabrowicz
Vanadian Avenue
You can listen to Moonshine Mix at:

Interview at ISSU:
PDF version of this interview can be seen here: Steve_Howard_interview

Important links for Steve and Arado (self study):

Destination Studios (personal studio)
Destination Studios on Facebook:
Steve Howard on Facebook:
Arado official website:
Arado on Facebook
Arado on My Space:
Arado on Twitter:
Arado YouTube channel:

Steve relaxing in his home studio. He and John are now working on arado's second album entitled "Spaghettified in the Labyrinth"

Steve relaxing in his home studio. He and John are now working on arado’s second album entitled “Spaghettified in the Labyrinth”


All right people! We hope you had as much fun reading this interview as we had preparing it for you. As usual, please do not post, re-post, take screenshots, copy anything without giving a link back to this blog or asking us for permission. We are spending long hours asking questions, editing and preparing before the interview is ready to be published. The only thing we ask for is to have our hard work respected. If you have any questions, please write to: r dot dabrowicz at yahoo dot com. Any spam emails are swiftly deleted as you have been warned 🙂

Please return soon as we are having great plans for December.
We are gonna say good bye to 2012 in a great way!

xxxxx and Rock and roll
Rita, Mal and David

Interview Logs: Edu Mussi

Hey Kids, rock and roll! 

We are taking a short break from the artists and crafts to concentrate for a second on music. Vanadian Avenue Team is incredibly proud to announce that another interview has been completed. This time David J Mazur and Malicia Dabrowicz spoken to Edu Mussi, a legendary figure on NYC rock/metal scene. We have to say, Mr Mussi is an excellent talker – it is always a pleasure to speak to somebody with a great sense of humor and dedication to his work. If you are a fan of Ascension of The Watchers or Echos and Shadow, this interview is a must read! Mr Mussi has revealed some great news and we think there is still a hope for the music business in 2013 😀  Enjoy!


                               INTERVIEW WITH EDU MUSSI


IT is quite an intimidating feeling to finally speak to somebody you have always wanted to interview. Edu Mussi, an icon of NYC underground scene and founding father of Industrial/Goth genres, is not only a talented musician but an extremely easy-going person. It was a real pleasure to sit down with him and chat about his music, future of Ascension of The Watchers, new projects and interests. Before we knew it, the interview was done and it was time for us to go home. Time does fly fast when you are having fun.

Vanadian Avenue: Who is Edu Mussi? Please introduce yourself to those fans that are unfamiliar with your previous projects.

Edu Mussi: I’m a musician. Other than Ascension of the Watchers, I’m also related with the names of Echoes and Shadows and Still Life Decay.

Vanadian Avenue: Do you remember your first day being the member of Ascension of the Watchers?

Edu Mussi: Not really. I was playing with them for a while but I just became a member a little bit before the recording sessions for “Numinosum” in, let me think, 2007, I believe.

First page of interview with Edu Mussi, all rights reserved

Vanadian Avenue: When heading onto the project of AoTW, what was your impression for this band?

Edu Mussi: I knew Burton and JB were looking for something different. They were not trying to sound like any other band they had worked with before. I was surprised that Burton was the one playing guitar. The fact that they were going for a whole different sound direction was actually what I liked the most. They were not afraid of taking risks or to just please the old fans.

Vanadian Avenue: You certainly are good friends with Burton C Bell and Bones Padilla. You collaborated together in three different outfits, each with a unique sound: Ascension of The Watchers (mood metal/ ambient), Still Life Decay (goth/ industrial) and Echoes and Shadows (electronic/experimental). Imagine that Burton calls you today and tells you he’s making a new project. What sort of sound would it have this time?

Edu Mussi: If we were lucky, we would sound like Fields of The Nephilim!

Vanadian Avenue: Fans debate whether AoTW would return to the stage or is the hiatus the true end of the band. Will we ever see the Watchers again or is this chapter of your life closed for good?

Edu Mussi: Funny to hear this question cause we’ve been actually talking a lot about the new Ascension of The Watchers record lately. No, we are not done yet. I just got a demo from Burton of a new song he wrote on the piano so…

Second page of interview with Edu Mussi, all rights reserved

Vanadian Avenue: “Nominosum” received rave reviews upon its release. However, critics’ enthusiasm rarely sells records. Do you know how many copies of the record have actually been sold?

Edu Mussi: Yes, I do but the nature of this project is not really about record sales. Of course you always wanna reach as many people as possible and get good reviews but our first idea was to get our own audience. Otherwise we would have done something that sounds just like Ministry or Fear Factory.

Vanadian Avenue: You contributed piano parts on Ministry album “Cover up” for the song “What a wonderful world” (originally recorded by Louis Armstrong). Quite a surprising pick. How did you end up working with Uncle Al?

 Edu Mussi: That happened in El Paso when we were recording “Numinosum” at Al’s place. At that time, he had just finished “The Last Sucker” and he was in the works for “Cover Up”. There was an old piano in the guest house where we were staying and I used to play it all the time (I play piano since I was 6 years old). In fact, I probably played that thing so much that Al had no other choice so he made me learn a 19 chords jazz piece in order to don’t hear me playing what I was all night long…

Vanadian Avenue: Interviews are fun but it is always the musician answering the questions. Let’s turn the tables. If you had a question to your fans, what would you ask them?

Edu Mussi: How many of you noticed that “What a Wonderful World” has a piano part from “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”???

Vanadian Avenue: Was there a particular brand of 12 strings you used? If so, what was the factoring choice for this brand and how it would affect the sounds, mood, of AoTW?

Edu Mussi: I’m the type of guy that plays whatever is available as long as it sounds right. However, all the 12 strings on Ascension of The Watchers are played by Burton. I only played one of his 12 strings for “Sounds of Silence” which is a custom shop Fender XII baritone made by Todd Krauss.

Third page of interview with Edu Mussi, all rights reserved

Vanadian Avenue: With the song “On the River”, the strings feel lighter, yet ambient in a soothing way. What were the inspirations you personally had for this song?

Edu Mussi: That song was already written when we re-recorded for “Numinosum”. All that 12 strings strumming comes from Burton, I only played the same slide and lead guitars from the previous version which I always loved anyway.

Vanadian Avenue: Imagine you can play in front of 5 people and you get to choose the public. Who do you sit in the audience?

Edu Mussi: I guess It would have to be a paranormal experience once all of them are long time gone. I’d choose Houdini, Caligula, Genghis Khan and Jacques De Molay.

Vanadian Avenue: Several websites (Beatport for example) dedicated to electronic music and DJ’s list a new, enigmatic project next to your name: THE BLACK PIRANHAS. We tried to investigate and ended up with finding an experimental rock band from New Orleans. Do you have any ties with them? Or is it something completely different?

Edu Mussi: No, I don’t think I know who they are…. but maybe????

Fourth page of interview with Edu Mussi, all rights reserved

Vanadian Avenue: Tell us what can we expect in the future from you? A new project, new record, or maybe a tour?

Edu Mussi: Other than AoTW I got two other projects going on. One is a new album for Echoes and Shadows which I play all the instruments and is quite different from the first EP (very ambient and electronic). The other one is a new band which sounds a lot like a cross of 90’s Depeche Mode, The Cure – Disintegration period; it’s heavy on baritone vocals, layers of synths and e-bow guitars. I got a very biased opinion when it comes to touring and I’m not sure about that but, who knows? I would definitely tour with The Watchers if we get the right offer. I always have fun playing with Burton and JB mostly because of the great friendship we got. I must say it is something not very common among other bands these days.

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for your time and answers!

Edu Mussi: Thank you as well!


As always, we are forced to ask  you not to copy, “borrow” or re-post this article anywhere alse without our written permission. We are glad you like what we do, but it takes a lot of our time to put up those interviews together.  Giving a link takes second and we will be very grateful! If you have any comments, please write at r dot dabrowicz at yahoo dot com (but do not send me  any spam!)

Electronic version of this interview can be found here:

Issu version can be found here:

Official Ascension of the Watchers fan club is now also on FaceBook:

[Edit 13/11/2012]

We have noticed that AoTW Facebook page and the references to the above-mentioned interview have been in the Google search quite often today. If you looked up “Edu Mussi”, you could see that we have placed three times in the first 10 results. Nothing big, but always a nice find. Screenshot attached.

Ask Doctor Google!

All the best from the usual trio:

Mal, Rita and David J.

Interview Logs: The confession of John & Brittany

Hello everybody!

Happy belated 4th of July to our American readers! The promised interview with Philadelpia’s finest duo John & Brittany is finally here! Edited, permission granted and we are pleased to present you with what, we consider, is our best interview so far! It is always a pleasure to speak to J & B – amazing artists and incredible humble and sessitive individuals with  great sense of humor. Without further delay: here it is!

John Faye and Brittany Rotondo: Confession before the sin

The newest addition to the exclusive “Sinners and Saints” club, Philadelphian duo John & Brittany are about to start sinning. To gather funds for recording of their next masterpiece, the pair lured the fans and followers to KICKSTARTER and offered a sinful collection of goodies that would make the Archangels fall. Between the recording session and the ongoing campaign, John and Brittany agreed to talk to us. Confessions are not usually fun but the devilish two had a HELL of a good time! Are you able to resist the temptation?

 Vanadian Avenue: Before we start. Introduce yourself and Brittany to the world. How did you two met and how long have you been playing together?

John Faye: Brittany and I met in late 2008; our first encounter was very brief, actually at Dobbs where we now spend a lot of our time. She wanted to get tickets to a show I was doing with IKE on the day after Christmas and I was trying to shake her down for the cash but she informed be she had “spent all her money on weed” ha, ha! She actually showed up to the IKE show anyway and it was that night that we really officially met. We hung out after the show and into the next day. I knew right away we were going to be close because our conversation had no bullshit small talk. We just launched right into topics that were immediately interesting and illuminating. That’s the short version of the story. We’ll tell you the long version sometime if you get us hammered!

Confession interview page 1, Pictures used with permission

Root of All Evil: Every conquest comes with a master plan. What will please you if this album comes out? Vegas residency, partying at the White House, national tour or taking over the world?

John Faye: We really want to do this record right. We have a lot of ambition for it because we really believe in the music and feel that it will strike a chord with people. So, we are being very deliberate and patient with each step of the process instead of rushing to get something out there. That said, I think for both of us, the artistic satisfaction of making something really great would be what would make us happy. It is always great when people like what you do but you have to please yourself as an artist first. Outside validation does not determine inner validation for us…

Brittany Rotondo: Except I’d ditch the Faye and go for the gold. Haha! No, really. El Gato understands.

The Original Sin: Writing a follow up to a well received EP can be tricky even for a well established artist. If you were to mention five things that would distinguish “Start Sinning” from your self–titled release, what would they be?

John Faye: In my opinion here are the five distinguishing factors:

First, the songs are rooted in a more consistent and fitting set of influences. There’s a thread running through the material that is reminiscent of the mid/late 70’s punk and new wave scene, especially inNew York. In the time since we recorded the debut EP, our writing has drawn more from thatmcore sound. Artists like Patti Smith, Ramones, Television, to name a few.

Confession interview page 2, Pictures used with permission

Brittany Rotondo: It is now much more lyrically enlightened.

John Faye: Indeed, the second factor would be Brittany’s growth as a musician and writer. Her lyrical and musical ideas have a lot more depth and confidence.

Brittany Rotondo: We have found new sense of guitar AND vocal harmonies.

John Faye: Yes and that’s our third factor: my improved ability to inhabit the songs as a singer. I’m trying a lot of vocal sounds and styles that were previously uncharted territory for me. I love “not sounding like myself” on many of these songs!

Brittany Rotondo: We’ve grown as a whole, as an entity. Whether it’s our duo, trio or full band.

John Faye: Our growth as collaborators, even though our writing process can be rather contentious at times, I think there’s a lot more mutual trust there now – call it the fourth factor in our music. Maybe because we have a couple years of writing now under our belts and we know a little better what the other is going for.

Brittany Rotondo: We are completely experimental.

John Faye: Lastly, our growth as friends. We were close from the get-go but I think our friendship really turned a corner this year. My mother passed away recently and Brittany was really there for me in a huge way and I think we’ve been really good at turning something painful into something positive, and I truly feel that whole vibe is going to just out at audiences through this record.

Lust: John, we cannot avoid asking you about your label, It Keeps Evolving. Overseeing your business is one thing but helping other artists is another. Are you a Good Samaritan or a control freak?

John Faye: Haha, I guess a little of both! Well, my label IT KEEPS EVOLVING started out as platform to put all the projects IKE was involved with under one “collective” so to speak. Our core group of 7 musicians comprise four completely different acts (IKE, J&B, Brett Talley Band, and Susie Steen), and even though we may go through some ups and downs personally, I think we all realize how much we all mean to each other and want to support each other as musicians and friends. The label is going to expand at some point but my focus for now is getting “Start Sinning” made.

Brittany Rotondo: I’ll answer for him. TOTAL control freak! A lovable, enduring control freak (I kid!). He’s very patient, unlike his counterpart!

Confession interview page 3, Pictures used with permission

Wrath: Being in a band is hardly a rose garden. How do you solve internal disputes?

John Faye: The official J& B handbook states that Internal disputes are usually to be settled with 2-3 days of the silent treatment, which can go in either direction, followed by 30-45 seconds of “Sorry I was a jerk.”

Brittany Rotondo: Hardly! I believe our fusion of friendship and music is absolutely potent. That’s why it works so well. Yin and yang.

Pride:  Let’s play favorites. What is your best new song?

John Faye: That’s tough. I have to say I’m really feeling our new song “Woe” – the lyrics, which are Brittany’s, have really hit home with me while confronting my mom’s passing. It’s going to be a powerful song on the record.

Brittany Rotondo: “Paper Planes” is my favourite. It just has a timeless appeal to it.

Sloth: You have put yourself in a tough period. 30 days to raise the funds, then recording, mixing, producing and promotion of the album. Then, in-between, you have your private lives. Few hours of sleep seems like a luxury. Do you have any recipe on how to remain sane and creative in this industry?

John Faye: Yeah, what the hell have we done?! Well, personally, I like a busy life. It’s just how I roll. Have a full day, play music at night, get about 5 hours of sleep if I’m lucky and do it again the next day. I’m sure I’ll just keel over eventually. My private life consists of raising my two kids. Other than that it’s pretty much music and that’s it. I do like to cook though.

Brittany Rotondo: For me it’s cigarettes and water. And good ol’ healthy laughter.

Confession interview page 4, Pictures used with permission

Envy: Kick Starter campaign mentions hand made artworks byBrittany. We want to know how many talents you both hide away from the world.

John Faye: A lot of people don’t know this about Britt, but she can crush anyone at Hoop Jones. She’s also pretty much the most charming 1-on-1 conversationalist I’ve ever met. It really comes in handy when she’s promoting the band or wants a shot of Jack Daniels. As for me, I wouldn’t call it a “talent” per se, but I do enjoy other outlets for creativity, like doing my own little comedy sketch recordings and I also have an interest in voice-over work, which I have done a fair amount of.

Gluttony: Home-baked dinner is one of the most original ideas we have seen in a long way. And it is band made as well. Can you share your cooking secrets and tell us what will be on the menu?

John Faye: We are actually not bad at all in the kitchen; we both kind of got into cooking a lot more this past year, totally independently of each other. I think the secret to good cooking is tons of garlic and butter but that’s just me. For the donors who opt for the “Gluttony” option on Kickstarter, we are going to discuss the menu options with them individually but I feel confident we can whip something up they’re going to like.

Brittany Rotondo: Brownies and pasta salad. That’s all. No, no. We’d suit the homeowner’s liking.

Holy House Concert: House gigs became quite a standard these days. Is there anything a fan eyeing this pledge should expect or take into considerations? We believe many people would be interested in this option but hosting a band in one’s living room seems epic. Do you guys come in with amps and roadies?

John Faye: I’ve actually done well over 100 house concerts in my career; they are one of my favourite ways to perform. If done right, it’s a special event people will remember for life. We always approach house concerts like VH-1 Storytellers. It’s an acoustic-based performance but still has its own very potent energy level. J&B did a very cool house show recently in Atlanta with Matthew Sweet; that was pretty amazing!

Brittany Rotondo: Yes. Yes. YES! Clean towels! We’ve had some pretty peculiar experiences on the road; you’d be surprised!

The Hail Mary: You are nearly forgiven. If you have anything else to announce to the fans taking part in the Kick Starter campaign, here is your chance.

John Faye: We just want to say thank you to everyone who has donated or plans to donate. We want people to know that we appreciate every pledge, however large or small. It all counts. We also want to make sure people are aware of our deadline to meet our goal. We need to reach $10,000 by 11:59pm on Monday July 9th. Kickstarter works on an ALL-OR-NOTHING concept so we don’t get a penny unless we reach the goal. It’s a challenge but it’s one we think we can handle with your help! Thanks again!

Confession interview page 5, Pictures used with permission

Brittany Rotondo: Most definitely! Even if you can’t donate to our Kickstarter page, please spread the word! The more folks in the know, the better!

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to talk to both of you!

John and Brittany: Thanks guys!

PDF version of this interview can be found here:

Issu version can be found here:

Rita and Mal would like to thank John and Brittany for their dedication. They were in the middle of a recording session and the campaign was in full bloom as well – and they still found the time to speak to us! As true professionals, they answered all questions we threw at them just perfectly and they haven’t complained once! We are proud to announce, that yesterday the band have reached their goal and collected exactly $11,391 from 153 donors! If you’d like to back up the duo, please hurry as there are only 4 days to go. The project will be closed on Monday Jul 9, at 11:59pm EDT.

Kick starter campaign can be found here:

We promise  to keep our eyes open wide and immediately report when John & Brittany commit any more sins.

For now, have fun and please spread the word. We need more good sinners, they make the world a much better place!
After all, you go to Hell for the company, right? 😀


Rita and Mal

Interview logs: Bones Padilla

Hello girls and guys!

Some time ago, when we spoke to John Bechdel of Ascension of  The Watchers, several people asked if there was the possibility for us to interview other members of  the band: those full time and those who played during the live shows. The answer is: of course there is the possibility! After all, we have the access to Internet and Facebook 🙂 Several emails were exchanged and here is the result. Please read on and return here sooon – we are only starting to have fun!!

Interview with Bones Padilla

The drum genius, Bones Padilla is an incredibly humble and kind person. For more than 20 years, his drumming skills and techniques helped to shape the Industrial genre and influenced many bands and musicians. When approached about his achievements, his response was: “I’m only performing on stage!” We have caught up with Bones to talk about his past with Ascension of The Watchers, the legendary Still Life Decay, moving across the US and leading a happily married life in California.

Vanadian Avenue: You are a living legend of the NYC metal scene. However, younger fans of Ascension of The Watchers might not know where you played before joining the band. Can you introduce yourself to those who just started listening to your music?

Bones Padilla: My name is Bones (no Star Trek references please)… I played drums in Still Life Decay, Canibals, GASNYC and DeSade… I’ve been playing drums since I was 18… I was the drumtech for the band Biohazard from 93’-95’.

Vanadian Avenue: You joined AoTW as a drummer in 2008, replacing Fade Kainer. Tell us who recruited you?

Bones Padilla: Burton originally had Vinny Signorelli (Unsane and Swans fame) lined up to be the drummer but he was on tour in Europe at the time so Burton asked me as a favor to fill in for the shows he had lined up… I couldn’t say no…

Vanadian Avenue: Did you enjoy the tour? Any fond memories from performing on stage with Burton C Bell, John Bechdel and Edu Mussi?

Bones Padilla: Performing at the COSM Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in NYC was really cool… It was the record release party performance… The vibe was different from your ordinary gig…

Vanadian Avenue: What kit did you use for drumming with AoTW?

Bones Padilla: I use a Gretsch Catalina Club Rock kit which I still have to this day…

Vanadian Avenue: Were there any specific pieces you used to create the ambient beats?

Bones Padilla: I’m not an official member of the band so I had no part in the writing process. However, for the live shows, I used some china bells to replicate one section of the song “Residual Presence”, played brushes on “Canon For My Beloved” and used a lot of tambourine for the back beats…

Interview with Bones Padilla, page 2

Vanadian Avenue: What were some of the inspirations you gathered from for creating the beats for AoTW?

Bones Padilla: See answer above…

Vanadian Avenue: Do you remember an exact date when you joined Aotw? Where did you play the first gig?

Bones Padilla: The first show I did with AOTW was at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors gallery in New York. I didn’t “join” AOTW, I just filled in. Here are the dates I did with them:

Feb. 18 – New York, NY – Chapel of Sacred Mirrors

Feb. 19 – Washington, DC – The Red and The Black

Feb. 20 – Passaic, NJ – Loop Lounge

Feb. 21 – Philadelphia, PA – The Khyber

This was back in 2008. I met my wife in October of the same year.

Vanadian Avenue: You, Fade Kainer and Alex Terhune seem to know each other very well. You have performed with them plus Edu Mussi in Still Life Decay. Although much more heavy and noisy, it carries the spirit of AoTW.

Bones Padilla: Thanks for the compliment… Still Life Decay was all out industrial… We put on a killer live show everywhere we played… Fade, Edu, Alex and myself are the original members of SLD for 5 years…

Vanadian Avenue: We have always wanted to ask about the video to song “Detach” (from Still Life Decay) directed by Zina Brown.Burton plays a mad scientist and you and Fade Kainer serve as objects of some gruesome experiments. Must have been a lot of fun.

Bones Padilla: The majority of the video took place in one evening at our friend job’s warehouse… That part of the shoot took all night long and most of us went straight back to work after filming wrapped up… The rest of the scenes took place over the course of a few weeks…Burton had fun playing the scientist… All 4 of us were the “lab rats” meeting an untimely demise…

Vanadian Avenue: There was also a short lived and mysterious project called “Echoes and Shadows”. Can you tell us what is the status of this band? Did you know that all releases of E&S are completely out of print and unavailable to purchase?

Bones Padilla: Echoes and Shadows were born out of the ashes of Still Life Decay. Two months after forming E&S, we had our first 2 shows opening for New Model Army in NYC. We have opened for them a few more times after that as well. Since then, Edu had been busy recording “Numinosum” inEl Paso. E&S has since been put to rest. I’m very grateful to all the fans that purchased the album and CD versions. I don’t know if the music will be released again. For the time being MySpace is the only place to hear it.

Vanadian Avenue: You have played withBurton, Alex, and Edu in three different groups. If there would be a chance to hit the road with AoTW again, would you give it a shot?

Bones Padilla: If the logistics were correct, absolutely I would do it again… I had a blast doing those shows…

Vanadian Avenue: Recently you relocated from the East Coast toSan Francisco where you live with your wife, a famous burlesque star, Sparkly Devil. Have you ever thought of joining forces with her and creating an artistic project together?

Bones Padilla: I’m the sound guy for her show “Curvicious Cabaret” and have made several guest appearances in her acts onstage as a man-prop…Eventually she wants me to play drums onstage during one of her performances.

Vanadian Avenue: Are you working on any new music? What can we expect of Bones in the nearest future?

Bones Padilla: I’m playing with my band here inSan Francisco for 3 years now. We recently acquired a new vocalist so we have yet to come up with a new name. Stay tuned for more on that.

Vanadian Avenue: Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?

Bones Padilla: Thank you to all the fans of the bands I’ve played in… I hope you like the new material I’m working on with my band… I promise to have a new band name soon and share our music with you guys… Take care!!!

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you so much for answering our questions!

Bones Padilla: Thank you!!!

Interview by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz and David J Mazur
Layout by Rita Dabrowicz
Pictures used with permission, live shots by Ryan Speth (

You can see the PDF version of this interview here:

PDF version at Issu:


A big thank you goes to Bones and his lovely wife, Sparkly Devil, who made this interview possible. Without their time and dedication, multiple corrections and changes, we would have never finished this little project.

As with other interviews, please do not “borrow”, re-post or post it anywhere else without or written consent. This is a very time consuming hobby. We work hard to bring you the best interviews and to make them look aesthetically pleasing, but they take a lot of our free time and it’s sad to see them go viral – not even our names are usually given! Please write an email to ask, it takes a mere second! Thank you and the address is: rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.


Rita and Mal and David

************************* Update  2013.05.28 ************************


Yesterday, May 27th 2013, our brother, band member and dear friend, Bones Padilla and his beautiful wife Sparkly, have been in an automobile accident. We understand that Bones is currently in medically induced coma at Standford Hospital but is showing signs of improvement. Sparkly has left us for Olympus leaving a void in our hearts. There’s very little we can say at this moment.  Please say a prayer for Bones and Sparkly.
There has been a fund set up to cover any legal/health costs, so please donate! Even if you can spare just a single dollar, all donations matter!  We are heartbroken, shocked and confused at this very moment.

Thank you kindly from the bottoms of our hearts,
Rita, Mal and David

Bones and his wife in the happy times. this is how we will remember them forever :( Picture from their official Facebook page.

Bones and his wife in the happy times. This is how we will remember them forever 😦 Picture from their official Facebook page.

************************* Update  2013.06.05 ************************
We are making another update to the blog. We have been given two press releases regarding the incident and we wish to share them with everybody who was coming here to read our updates in recent weeks (and that was quite a big amount of people – thank you all for your concern for Bones and his well being). If you need to share the releases, please do so. If you know any media that can pick up the story, especially the memorial fund, be sure they get their facts right and that they read the releases as well.

Release 1: Raul `Bones` Padilla


Following a tragic accident that claimed the life of his wife, Sarah Klein, a well known burlesque dancer that performed under the name “Sparkly Devil”, the driver of the vehicle, Raul Padilla (known as Bones) is making progress towards a recovery.

Through a message from a local bay area hospital, he stated that he is overwhelmed by the support he has received.

At this time, the family requests privacy to allow Mr. Padilla time to focus on his health. For further information or comment, please contact Steve Hamilton at

Release 2: Sarah `Sparkly Devil` Klein


 On Sunday morning May 26, 2013 just after 2:05AM, a tragic accident south of San Francisco, CA claimed the life of an international icon in the burlesque scene. Sarah Klein, 36, of San Mateo, CA, who performed under the name “Sparkly Devil” was in a 1995 Honda Del Sol driven by her husband, Raul “Bones” Padilla, on their way home after a show in San Francisco. Mr. Padilla lost control of the vehicle, which struck the center divider on US-101 southbound, the vehicle came to rest in the fast lane facing the wrong direction where it was struck head on by a party bus. Mrs. Klein was killed instantly and Mr. Padilla remains in intensive care following the accident. It is not known exactly what caused Mr. Padilla to lose control initially. This is currently being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.

Sarah was an amazing performer, and an even better friend. She will be missed by all that had the honor of knowing her. Many have been touched by this amazing couple’s generosity and love.

 Unfortunately, insurance is insufficient to the task of covering all of the expenses incurred by Raul and the family of Sarah Klein. If you are interested in making a donation to help, please follow this link for donation instructions:

For more information about the career and achievements of Sarah “Sparkly Devil” Klein, please contact Steve Hamilton –

Raul and Sarah on their wedding photoshoot. Photo taken from their Facebook page.

Raul and Sarah on their wedding photoshoot. Photo taken from their Facebook page.

Recent updates can be also found on Ascension of The Watchers official Facebook page, since Bones was a drummer of the project.
************************* Update  2013.06.30 ************************

We are amazed by the care and support Bones Padilla is receiving. The interview is read daily and we get new people coming to the blog to learn on Bones` condition. So we have decided to make another short update. Bones is now at home, after more than a month spent in the hospital. With his friends and family around him, he will make full if slow recovery. He is sometimes on Facebook and if you want to send him a message please do so by following this link:

We have also decided to share some screenshots from Ascension of the Watchers Facebook page, showing the amount of love and care from his fans. This is something truly inspiring and we want to show the world what amazing fans Bones has.

Facebook screenshot 1

Facebook screenshot 1

Facebook screenshot 2

Facebook screenshot 2

Facebook screenshot 3

Facebook screenshot 3

Thank you for reading and coming back for the updates.

You people make this job worth every effort!

************************* Update  2013.07.17 ************************

It was a truly dark month, but there’s a silver lining. Finally we can report something optimistic. On July 5th, 2013 Bones posted this image of himself on his Facebook page. As you can see he is still in a vulnerable state but nothing can crush his incredible spirit. He is still defiant and fighting with all his might, against all odds.

Photo taken from Bones official Facebook page

Photo taken from Bones official Facebook page

We have spoken to him a day later and passed all the words from the fans. We also informed him that people come to this blog in search of news about his condition.

His message is brief but he is grateful:

“Wow. I’m truly lucky to have friends like you guys. Thank you so much for all your love and support.”

He is also promising that:

“I will never stop fighting…”

And since a screenshot is worth a thousand words, see for yourselves:

Message from the Man

Message from the Man

Please spread the word and keep your horns raised for the man.

************************* Update  2013.09.06 ************************

Another update because good news are never enough! On Tuesday, Bones underwent his last operation. It went well, but now he will have to remain home for 6-8 weeks. His ankle is wrapped in a split and bandaged. Bones` spirit remains high and he is very much back to his old self: he says he is now under “house arrest”, got rid of the wheel chair and moves around on crutches. Yes, he is rock `n` roll and you can learn from him a thing or two about endurance. He’s also a rebel, wearing all those white bandages after Labor Day 😉

We remain in awe how strong Bones is and we are grateful to still have him with us.

The `before` shot

The `before` shot

The `after` shot

The `after` shot

Images are courtesy of the man himself.
We will be checking on how people can still make donations to Bones recovery fund, so please stay tuned.



Malicia, Dave and Rita

Interview Logs: Renata Lino

Hello rock and roll souls!

Say hello to June! This month will be super busy for as we are preparing several extraordinary treats for you all! Let’s us start with introducing you to lovely Renata Lino – one of the hottest up-and-coming female photographers in rock and metal! We have to admit, we spoken to many, truly inspirational people, but rarely we have a pleasure to meet such an extraordinary person! Renata is not only working full time, contributes to three very popular websites, writing reviews and articles, but she also travels all over the Europe to take pictures. Her hard work has paid off: her skills and great eye for compositions are universally admired – and rightly so! We met Renata in the Fall of 2011 during the campaign for City of Fire, where she contributed her picture of Burton C Bell from Fear Factory’s gig. She also gave us a book with her pictures as a prize for COF fans. Our co-operation was so great and smooth, that we decided to come back and learn more about her. Hope you will enjoy this conversation as much as we  had!
Thank you Renata. You simply rock (and roll!)

Interview with Renata, page 1


 Renata Lino is one of the Internet’s best recognized music photographers. In the last 16 years, she covered hundreds of shows, took thousands of pictures and literally befriended the biggest names in the rock and metal business.  Her skills, passion for her work and never ending smile melted the hearts of the countless band members. We spoke about the private photo sessions, the best and the worst concert scenarios and the fun of being in the middle of the photographic pit!

Vanadian Avenue: You work full time, take photos, write reviews and run your own blog. We would like to know how you manage all that (or at east know the brand of coffee that keeps you awake).

Renata Lino: Well, on my deviantART gallery I’m still posting pics taken in December and I have two CD reviews in waiting for over a month, so I guess I’m not managing it that well after all, lol. But I know what you mean. First, my day job is as a secretary. Meaning that I’m on the computer all the time and many times I can update my blog while I’m at the office (hope my boss won’t read this…). This is a passion I have, so I spend most of my free time with it. The gig reports have priority – I usually write the first version up to 48 hours after the concert (I say first because I write for three other websites. If I cover a certain event on behalf of one of them, I obviously post it there first, and later, when I have the time, in my blog). The CD reviews I choose to write are usually of bands that I like/know well, so it’s easier to write about them. But most of the times I review CD that are assigned to me, by those other websites I’ve mentioned – bands that I’m not familiar with or not even heard about ever. That is not so easy and sometimes it may take a while. But using your own words, it’s manageable 😉 And yes, I still have time to hang with my friends. About the coffee, I’m not very picky on the brand – it just has to be strong, and I take it black with no sugar ;))

Interview with Renata, page 2

Vanadian Avenue: Juggling so many tasks makes it impossible to squeeze you into one particular job description. If you were to give yourself a label you would be a blogger, a gig photographer or a music journalist.

Renata Lino: I think music photo-journalist is the best. I love to take pics, but right after that comes the love for writing. That’s why I started a blog instead of my own photography page (besides, I already have deviantART for that). But in a blog I can post photos AND my writings/reports.

Vanadian Avenue: Female photographers are rare. What attracted you to this job?

Renata Lino: You think so? ‘Cause I know many 😉 It all started with my passion for music. I just wanted to keep memories of the concerts I’d been to. I think the first live pics I took were in 1996… but then I became best friends with a girl who had taken a professional course in photography. As all I wanted was “memories”, and her photos were obviously better than mine, I stopped shooting for some time, keeping copies of her work. But then she got a complicated job, she missed a lot of concerts… I had to do it myself. And that’s when it got serious, eh, eh. I wanted to be better at it and suddenly it wasn’t just for the sake of memories but for the sake of photography, concert photography itself. It was in 2005 that I started to take my crappy camera to the concerts again and one year later I started looking for better cameras and photography tips on how to take better shots.


Interview with Renata, page 3

Vanadian Avenue: A girl with a camera surrounded by long haired guys. How do you manage to survive in the mosh pit?

Renata Lino: A short girl, don’t forget that, ah, ah. My trick is to stand literally in the front row, where I can support myself against the metal barriers or the stage itself when the biggest mess starts. I’ve earned some bruises along the way, broke my upper lip and, worst of it all, a stupid inccident with a stagediver broke my left knee. But in 20 years of concerts, I can that’s a quite good injury statistics.

Vanadian Avenue: Now, be honest, does the job pay?

Renata Lino: If we’re talking about money, definitely not. If I get an official press pass, then I don’t pay for the ticket, so that’s some money I save. But sometimes I don’t get a pass – I go because I REALLY want to see the show and so I pay like everybody else. Of course I still take my compact camera and then write about the show anyway – it’s an addiction. But if we’re talking about satisfaction and personal fulfillment, then totally yes 🙂

Interview with Renata, page 4

Vanadian Avenue:  Let’s play a game: the Good, the First, and the Ugly. Tell us about the first picture you ever took, your favorite one and the worst you have ever taken.

Renata Lino: Damn, just when I thought this interview was a piece of cake… (laughs). Let’s see, the first picture… I THINK (big emphasis on “think”) it was of a local underground band called Blasphemy. The first one I was officially asked to do was Web, that I’m sure of – but just because I was friends with the guitar player, not because I was a great photographer.

Naming one favorite is really, really unfair. I have many of them, ah,ah. Some because of the “technical quality”, some because of the captured moment, and some because of what that concert in particular meant for me… But okay, I’ll try to pick one. Probably the one of Mas (Samaël) where I caught him mid-air in one of his jumps! For those who don’t know, Mas is “the heavy metal cheerleader” – he jumps non-stop in every concert. Last October when they played here, I tried sooooooo hard to catch him in the air! And I finallly did, in one of the last songs. So that must be a fave, for the all the effort it took, lol.

Interview with Renata, page 5

Now the worst… there are a lot of those too, ah, ah. So I’ll choose one that made me sad and frustrated at the same time. Deathstars, when they opened for Korn in 2008. They’re one of my top bands, and I made it to the front row… but it was useless as I only had a crappy compact camera and the lights were all red… a total “photographic disaster”. The 69 Eyes inSalzburg, the year before, also sucked dish water. Amazing concert, but my pics turned out total trash.

Vanadian Avenue: Can you tell us the craziest thing that happened to you while taking pictures during a gig?

Renata Lino: Apart from breaking my knee when this total idiot jumped from the stage and landed on me? I was photographing a thrash metal band called Pitch Black, and was so concentrated on it that I didn’t see the guy until he literally hit me…

The cover of Renata’s book. If you’d like to order a copy of it, please contact Renata. She will get it sorted for ya!

I don’t know. A lot of funny things happened, but not exactly “crazy”. But one thing that made ME crazy with joy was when Bobby Blitz from Overkill posed for me! I was the only girl in the photopit, so I guess that helped, ah, ah. On the song “Fuck You” he turned to me and raised his middle finger. He only put it down when I nodded to him, as if saying “done!” The pic was awful in the end. I wasn’t in the best position to catch a good light, and I got so nervous that it came out totally unfocused. But of course I kept it – Bobby posed for ME 😉

Inside of Renata’s “Front row memories” book

Vanadian Avenue: Many photographers are afraid to publish their materials on blogs due to copyrights issues. On the contrary, you proudly showcase whole sets from various gigs you covered. What is your opinion on the exchange of information on the Internet and the rights of the artists?

Renata Lino: I’m not a professional. This is just something I enjoy immensely. So I feel thrilled when people leave all kinds of nice words. But for that, they need to actually SEE my work! If I don’t share it, how on Earth will I hear that feedback?!

I once found on Blabbermouth a picture I took of Roland Johansson (ex-Sonic Syndicate). It clearly had been “stolen” from my gallery on deviantART, as the frame with my signature had been removed. Okay, that wasn’t very nice. But I don’t share my pics in order to be famous. And if a complete stranger thought that one of my pics was good enough to be included in some news article, which made me proud, not mad.  I guess it’s different when you’re trying to make a living out of it. Or if you’re trying to“be a star”. Posting some other person’s work as your own is obviously completely wrong – but plagiarism has always been there, way before internet. Now if some one uses your work on social networks or forums just because he/she liked the photo… I honestly don’t see any harm in that. But like I said, I’m just speaking for myself, someone who’s not looking for profit or prestige. I’m not the best person to be asked about this.

Another look at the pictures inside “Front row memories” book

Vanadian Avenue: You are also self publishing books with your works. We have one and it does impress. How important is to you to keep your portfolio varied?

Renata Lino: Once again thank you for asking me for one of those! It was a real honour 🙂 But I print photobooks because nowadays it’s all digital! I miss picking an album from the shelf and browse its pages with the printed photos on it! Everything is in the computer. And okay, we have digital photo frames now, but it’s not the same thing. So I choose my best photos and make these books. Sometimes I make some smaller ones to offer as gifts. But it’s mostly for myself, and then, of course, I’ll show them to my friends. And the variety is just to remember me that I REALLY go to a lot of different concerts, ah, ah.

Vanadian Avenue: What advice would you give to people who would like to become music photographers? Where should they start?

Renata Lino: Well, it’s always good to check some basic tutorials. I don’t mean a full photography course (I never took any!). But it’s helpful if you know how to set your camera when, for instance, you have too much light or none at all – that kind of thing. But remember this is all theory. Especially in a concert, where the conditions keep changing all the time, the most important thing is to know your camera, how it works best in each circumstance. I’ve dealt with a few different ones and trust me – they all react differently under the same conditions. So get the basic theory but then do aLOT of experiments.

Vanadian Avenue: You seem to enjoy surprising people. Let us just mention your legendary seasonal cards. Members of Pantera used to send Christmas cards with some witty messages (“Money’s short, times are hard, here’s your fucking Christmas card”). Yours reads: “Every season is good to rock” and it features Santa shredding a Fender. What else can we expect form you in the future?

Renata’s (in)famous Christmas card. You want one? Order her book! 🙂

Renata Lino: Ah, ah, my “famous” cards! Yes, that’s another passion of mine. Like you said, I like to surprise people and make them smile. And I think a personalized card, on Christmaas, birthday or some other special occasion, is the best way of doing so. My cards are always related to the person’s interests – that’s why yours had an image and message related to rock/metal music 😉 Sometimes I also adapt private jokes. I remember a friend of mine once mistaking the name of a place with another one, so my card for him had Santa looking for that place on a map… So let’s see what I come up next for you, girls! My drawing skills aren’t exactly brilliant, so I obviously search for images on Google. And when my friends like movies/actors or bands that I never photographed before, I also have to use other photographer’s works. Maybe that’s why I’m not that big on the whole copyright issue…

Santa is rocking inside Renata’s handmade Christmas card. It comes with an autograph!

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for answering our questions

Renata Lino: Thank you!!

Interview and design by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz
All pictures: Renata Lino, all rights reserved

You can find the PDF version of this article here:

Issu version can be found here:

Important links: – Renata Lino’s on Facebook  –  Renata’s Deviantart profile  –  Renata’s blog about music  – you can read Renata’s articles here – another website where Renata’s a member of staff

Thank you for reading out conversation with Renata. Please remember, do not copy or repost any part of the interview or any of the pictures Renata kindly gave us permission to use to illustrate the interview. All of us work really hard and we do not appreciate when we find our work “borrowed” anywhere else.
If you’d like to contact us please write to: rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

Hold tight to your seats, soon we will be back with yet another interview that going to rock you all hard!

Can’t wait? Be back really, really soon!
All the best,

Rita, Mal and Renata!

Interview Logs: Val.Ium of Pist.On

Hello everybody!

We had a few days off but now we are now back into action! As you can see, we are still going through our archive and we are finding a true treasures there. This is the oldest interviews we have ever conducted! In 2002, Rita and Mal have been contacted by one of the journalists from Polish Radio Programme 3 to create a fan led music website that was to be called “The Rock Service”. Unfortunately, the project never really took off and we were left with several interviews and lots of materials.  Please read our conversation with the to incredible bass player Val.Ium. Enjoy!!

Interview with Val.Ium (ex – Pist.On)

There are not many women in metal music. Val.Ium, a bass player for New York City based band Pist.On is a notable exception. Known for her incredible skills and stage performance, Val took the male dominated music world by storm. The following interview has been conducted in April 2003 for a “Rock Service”, a fan created music website in co-operation with Polish Radio Programme 3. Sadly, the project never took off,  but the interview has been placed on PistArmy website two years later. Now updated with new information, it proves that the legacy of the band still lives on!

Part I: Life before music

Vanadian Avenue: You are one of the world’s top female bass players. What made you to pick up the bass guitar for the first time?

Val Ium: Well, I had originally learned to play the piano as a child, but, when I got into my teens, I developed an attraction to the heavy thumping beats of the bass. Once I met Henry, he wanted to switch over to the guitar, as he was originally a bass player as well, so, I just practiced my ass off so I could keep up with him.

Vanadian Avenue: You were raised in a religious family. You even attended two Catholic schools for 12 years. Do you think your childhood had any impact on your adult life?

Val Ium: Look at what a freak I am. What do you think?! 🙂

Vanadian Avenue: I know that The Cars are one of your favourite bands. Can you name your past and current favourites?

Val Ium: I grew up when MTV had just begun, so I was exposed to everything from Devo to Judas Priest and I’m thankful for that! MTV today in theUS sucks! I hear very little new bands that I really get excited over; I get more excited listening to the old metal bands; Priest, AC/DC, White Zombie, Motorhead, etc.

Val interview page 1, all rights reserved

Part II: A life in Pist.On

Vanadian Avenue: Was Pist.On your first band?

Val Ium: It was my first serious band! I played in a few others that I consider “practice” now looking back.

Vanadian Avenue: Pist.On was described by many music journalists as a cross between Metallica and Paradise Lost. True or false?

Val Ium: I never even heard or heard of Paradise Lost until we signed with their manager. I think the Metallica thing was a result of Josh Silver making Henry sings like Hetfield on that first record. They were never considered an influence though!

Vanadian Avenue: You are good friends with Type O Negative. Your first record “Number One” was produced by Josh Silver You can be also heard singing on one of their records – “October Rust”. How do you recall working with them? Are you still in touch?

Val Ium: We don’t really keep in touch at all anymore. We’ve all basically gone our separate ways in life. I sang on “In Praise of Bacchus” because I was there during the recording and I worked cheap!

Vanadian Avenue: Does Peter Steele scare you?

Val Ium: I would think that  I scare Peter much more than he could ever scare me. I’m sure he’d agree.

Vanadian Avenue: Shortly after finishing your debut album guitarist Paul Poulos and drummer Danny Jam Kavadlo left the band. Later your second drummer – Jeff McManus was told he had only six months to live plus you had numerous other problems not easy to solve. Bad luck, curse or a fatal fate?

Val interview page 2, all rights reserved

Val Ium: All three!

Vanadian Avenue: Ok, what’s the story with dropping the dot in your name for Atlantic label in the US?

Val Ium: Atlantic Records refused to release anything that “referred to bodily fluids”. We were against it from the beginning but no one ever cares what the band thinks when that much money is the issue!

Vanadian Avenue: After releasing your second album $ell.Out your band went on hiatus. Henry have satisfied himself that Pist.On wasn’t active for almost year and a half. He said, “My current [back in 2001 – Rita] situation made me attempt to disappear from the human race for the past three months”. – Can you tell what happened?

Val Ium: Allegedly he went into a deep depression, but looking back I think he just needed a little attention and knowledge that some people still cared.

Vanadian  Avenue: In statement published in January 2001 on your official web site you wrote, “We realized that we are happier being miserable together than being miserable apart and beside that we all tried to join other bands. But nobody wanted us so we are all doomed to stay together forever.” But six months later you have announced your departure from the band. Why?

Val interview page 3, all rights reserved

Val Ium: Because I was tired of trying to hold things together. Looking back I realize that it was just a selfish effort I made to keep the band going when no one else really wanted to do the work anymore. It was probably a mistake, but, if it did nothing else, it made me realize that I definitely had had enough. I regret things turned out the way they did to this day, but, it was a question of whether or not I wanted to keep my sanity. I chose to keep my sanity.

Part III: Life after the band

Vanadian Avenue: Ex bands should be remembered fondly. What was the best thing that has happened to you while being in Pist.On?

Val Ium: Without a doubt the two things I am proud of; the friends that I made whom I still keep in touch with and the places I got to see and things I got to do that very few people are lucky enough to. Meeting some big rock stars wasn’t too bad either. 🙂

Vanadian Avenue: “Val will be missed as she was my friend and my business partner for many years, but the show must go on”. These are the words of Henry. Is there a band without Val.Ium?

Val Ium: That’s a question for Henry to answer!

Vanadian Avenue: In an interview for Delirium mag, you said, “I’m pure evil … don’t come near me.” Are you still that angry?

Val Ium: No, my anger ran out when I left PistOn I think. My bitterness remains, though.

Val interview page 4, all rights reserved

Vanadian Avenue: You used to write for British edition of “Metal Hammer”. Do you plan the return of “Vanity Case”?

Val Ium: I doubt “Metal Hammer” would care to hear from me at this point!

Vanadian Avenue: What are your plans for the near future?

Val Ium: I am going to school to get a degree in textile design. (In May 2012, Val graduated with MA degree in Social work from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College – Rita)

Vanadian Avenue: Is there anything nice you would like to tell your hard core Polish fans? 🙂

Val Ium: Sure. I’d like to say that I appreciate every moment that I was fortunate enough to live my life as a musician. There is nothing like it in the world and I encourage anyone who wants to do it to work hard and not give up, as long as the fire burns within you. I also say thank you to YOU for even being interested in listening to me!


Interview and layout
by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz
Pictures used with permission, all rights reserved

Important links: – Val’s official Facebook page – Val on Instagram – fan page on Facebook – a fan website dedicated to Pist.On – Wikipedia entry for the band

Thank you so much for reading!

The PDF version of this interview can be seen here:

The Issuu version can be found here:

First publication of this interview was posted on Pistarmy website several years ago and still can be seen there:

A screenshot showing the original interview at Pist.On official fan website

A screenshot showing the original interview at Pist.On official fan website

Screengrab to show our interview being featured on Pist.On official fan page

Screengrab to show our interview being featured on Pist.On official fan page

As with other interviews, please do not re-post them without our approval. It happened to us many times and we consider it stealing, even if you provide links! Please write for permission first. any questions? Rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

Muchos gracias,
XXXX Rita and Mal

****Update 19/05/2017****

Screenshot from the fundraiser for Val Kaye – the campaign raised most of its funds in 6 hours and is trending!

A lot of time has passed since we updated this particular entry but now we have a good reason.
Valerie Kaye – the fearless former bass-player of NYC heavy yet melodic outfit Pist.On needs our assistance and we are more than willing to step up to the task.

Known under her stage name Val Ium, Valerie recorded and toured with Type O Negative and Marilyn Manson among many other biggest acts of the 90s. Now Val pursues a new career in a new state. However due to unfortunate circumstances she lost a car that is vital in her current situation.

It will cost a bit to get the car back – so please help out. Any donation counts.

As a thank you – here are some scans from our personal archives of metal madness featuring Val.Ium in all her glory:

Val.Ium on a feature in Metal Hammer UK, 1997

Val.Ium in Metal Hammer UK, 1997

Val.Ium featured in Metal Hammer UK, 1997

Val.Ium on a feature in Metal Hammer Poland, 1996

Love and kisses


****Update 20/05/2017****

Val reacting last night to the fundraiser. How awesome!

You people are incredible. No seriously, you are all rock stars in your own right. What happened last night is just awesome. In just one day the goal of the fundraiser was met and currently it stands at $3,130

That means Val may recover her car and pay all the necessary fees and charges. But let`s not call it a victory yet. We strongly appeal to anyone who wishes to still contribute – do it. Help Val to assure she can safely be back on her road to build a new successful career. It ain`t easy, and if you can offer a helping hand or few bucks or RTs, we all will be grateful.

“We rise by lifting others”
-Robert Ingersoll

We promised ourselves that if the fundraiser reached $3000, we would post more images from our musical archives. So here they are:

Close up of Val from Pist.On debut album #1

Pist.On with Val on their debut album #1

Val and the boys on second album Sell Out

Val on the sleeve of Pist.On second album – Sell Out

Keep on rocking good, good people of the world


****Update 21/05/2017****

Tattude Lady website logo

The fundraiser is still going and we are now at £3275! So it is only fair to reach down to our archives again and share some more Val.Ium related goodies. Did you know that Val used to have her own official page called Tattude Lady? It is now offline but guess what – we have saved portions of it so you can get to see it.

Main page

More screens recovered from old website

Some good old sarcasm from Valerie – she is known for it.

Page debuted around 2000 – and it may look very simple by today`s standards.  However remember  that Valerie was one of the first in the business to actually have her official page. And she was to our knowledge the only bassist in metal community to maintain this side of business at that time.  It was through Tattude Lady that Val communicated her departure from Pist.On to her fans by publishing a special interview (another first in metal world!)  – you can read it below, and it makes a fantastic addiction to our own interview with Val.Ium. See, we do spoil you!

Interview p1

Interview p2

Interview p3

That was the beauty and tragedy of Pist.On – they were ahead of their time by at least a decade, both musically and business wise.

We kind of wish Tattude Lady was resurrected.  Perhaps one day it will.

All the tours that Val.Ium was on

Please continue to donate. We still have few things in the archives which we are willing to share.


Interview logs: John Bechdel

Hello world! 

Happy Ascension Day! We have been preparing for today for quite some time now! After interviewing Burton C Bell during City of Fire campaign, we thought it would be great to talk to other members of Ascension of the Watchers as well. And when John Bechdel, a true  industrial rock legend, agreed to speak to the fans, we were more than thrilled. Mal teamed up with David J Mazur, the admin of AoTW official group on Facebook and they asked him all the right questions. Please read on – this interview is all you ever wanted to know about the band but never had a chance to ask! Have fun!


Every instrument has its true master. Think about guitar and names like Steve Vai, Carlos Santana and others spring to mind. Drums? Gene Hoglan, Bill Ward, Vinnie Paul Abbott. We say bass and we mean Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler or John Deacon. Keyboards? John Bechdel is usually the first choice.  Regarded by many as one of the creators of the industrial rock genre Bechdel played for legendary groups like Ministry, Killing Joke, Prong and Fear Factory.  He is also a member of Ascension of the Watchers, False Icons and Arado. We caught up with John before the Ministry tour to speak about AoTW, ongoing projects and life in general.

Question 1: In terms of the choices of audio samples put into the songs of AoTW, what was the inspiration behind those you chose to put into such songs as Canon for my Beloved with the howling wolf, as well as the voice samples within Ascendant?

Interview page 1 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

John Bechdel: Those were Burton’s choices. He had some old records and had those particular sounds picked out. When we first started, I didn’t know I was co-writer/producer. I thought I was simply recording Burton’s solo project. I figured it would sound like Fear Factory. I was wrong on all of the above. Burton showed up for what I thought was maybe a few weeks. Turned out to be 10 years. Anyway, he showed up with a guitar. No demos, no lyrics. I set him up to record and he played some guitar. I instantly knew we weren’t making something that was going to sound anything like FF. I wasn’t sure what to think. Then he told me I was going to be co-writer/ producer. So I started listening to him play guitar and suddenly, in my head, I heard music. Beautiful melodies started coming to me. I knew I could use a lot of my vintage keyboard sounds that would blend nicely with the guitar. So, to answer your question, if there was inspiration behind the choice of those particular sounds, you’d have to ask  Burton.

Question 2: How do you view the deep impact and connection people have with AoTW? Did you expect the band to have such an impact?

John Bechdel: I didn’t know we had an impact. That’s good news. “Residual Presence” and “Moonshine” were the first songs to make me feel that we’d really captured something; however I didn’t fully grasp the depth of the music until we were out inTexas mixing. I knew then that it would be a very moving and inspirational record. I think the biggest challenge was to overcome people’s expectations. Like me, I think everyone was expecting something like Fear Factory. I think a lot of people never got beyond that to give it a chance. At first, the guitar parts may sound simple and not very interesting. But soon they begin to transform into something trance-like and take you away to the world of AotW.

Question 3: What was your main inspirations for the sounds and ambient music for AoTW?

John Bechdel: Like I said, I almost immediately heard music and began capturing it. I have a lot of wonderful keyboards and sounds that I never got to use with all the heavy bands I had been working with. Not including Killing Joke, that would be an exception. I used sounds from the Emulator, Synclavier, Fairlight, PPG as well as Moogs and ARPs. We went back to our early influences like The Cure and Joy Division.

Question 4: Where do you see the future going for AoTW?

John Bechdel: I didn’t know we had a future.Burton’s only mentioned a possible future on maybe two brief occasions. I never say never in this business. I loveBurton; I’d consider working on new AotW material.

Question 5: Will the demos for AoTW ever see the light of the day?

John Bechdel: There’s demo’s? I’m not aware of any. Like I said, he showed up with a guitar. The songs you hear include the original recordings. I never get rid of anything. I have every take. We started laying down tracks and the songs took shape. Ironically, he didn’t write the lyrics or melody lines until the music was done. He was inspired a lot by my music, and I was inspired from his guitar. We released Iconoclast which included the first songs. Those original tracks were then taken out toTexas whereBurton and Al worked with them, they changed a lot of the drum sounds but the keyboard tracks were virtually unchanged.

Question 6: In one of the interviews Burton mentioned that second album was planned as a collection of covers. Do you have any intention to stick with the plan and release it?

Interview page 2 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

John Bechdel: Well I’m not big on cover records. I enjoy a cover here and there. I may recall him mentioning that at one point. Maybe we were inspired to do it at one time. I’d have to talk to Burton about it I guess.

Question 7: There are many stories involving AoTW on the Internet. If you were to correct one about you, what would it be?

John Bechdel: I never played keyboards for Static-X. My name is sometimes affiliated with them because I did a remix for them. As far as I know, they never had a keyboard player. Koichi Fukuda did some programming and may have played some keys at one point.

Question 8: Do you recall when and where you and Burton discussed the project that became AoTW for the first time?

John Bechdel: We were on tour with FF in the summer of 2001, we had a day off in PA and we went to my house for a BBQ. Burton was enamored with the area & the vibe of my studio and said he’d like to come to record there after the tour.

Question 9: Are you still in touch with other members of the band, especially the live line up? What have they been up to?

John Bechdel: I try to keep in touch with Edu and Alex, they were out withBurton once to my studio jamming on a project called Echoes and Shadows which I really liked. Not sure what they’re doing at the moment.

Interview page 3 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

Question 10: On a different note, please give us some more details about your current projects. We know you have been busy recently not only with Arado but also with the False Icons.

John Bechdel: Arado is my most recent project with partner Steve Howard, a good friend of mine fromEngland. We met in the 80’s when we were both living in NYC. We collaborated a bit then and again when I was living with him inLondon during my time with Killing Joke. False Icons is the band that I wanted to have since the beginning. I just got caught up playing in all these bands but, have always written my own music and really needed an outlet for that, so, I stared my own band. I’m writing the follow up to the debut CD and it’s the best representation of my true musical style. That’s the cool thing about having your own band I guess, as long as you have your own ideas, and I did. I’m not just a keyboard player. I play the guitar and sing & write the lyrics. And of course, the keyboards.

Question 11: I want to also ask if your studio Music Shop has a website or anything of that sort. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see how the place where AoTW was born looks like on the inside? Do you have any photos from the period that you andBurton worked on the Iconoclast EP?

John Bechdel: I’m sure we can find a few pictures. The studio hasn’t changed a whole lot since then. I can get you some. I don’t really have an official name for it. Everyone picks their own name since I just call it the studio. Davy Jones of The Monkees recorded with me there, he called it “Bechdel’s Tipi” ’cause we had a Tipi in the yard at the time.Burton chose “Machine Shop” ’cause it used to be a woodworking shop before. Arado chose “Space Lab” ’cause I have a little sign by the mixer that says space laboratory. Ironically I originally chose the name Sound Escape which I thought was kind of clever, it had the vibe of soundscape and sound or solid escape which it truly is. No one seemed to like it, it never stuck for some reason, so pick your own name I guess. It was called Furnace Lab on a CD at least once. So, there is no website. It’s really my private studio but people approached me about recording there, eventually I said yes.

Interview page 4 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

Thank you very much for answering our questions!

John Bechdel: Thank you.

You can find the PDF version of this interview here:

Interview by Malicia Dabrowicz and David J Mazur
Layout: Malicia and Rita Dabrowicz ( by Burton C Bell and Ryan Speth (

Important links: – John’s Facebook page – Wikipedia entry – John’s Myspace account  – AoTW community page on Facebook  – Official AoTW group on Facebook – False Icons’ official Myspace profile – Arado’s official Facebook page

Thank you so much for reading! As with other interviews: no copying, no re-posting, posting, screenshots without written permission. When quoting, please post a link to AoTW group on Facebook or to this blog. We worked our assess off to make it happen so please respect our work! Any questions? Write to rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

Have a great day!
And tune in soon, especially if you are a fan of New York music scene.
We have a special interview coming up!

Rita, Mal and (David J Mazur)

Interview logs: Victor-Hugo Borges

Buenos días !!

Welcome again. As you can see, we are still in the Spanish mood 🙂 Yesterday, we presented Rita’s collaboration with Christian Ricardo, a popular Spanish blogger and  rock journalist. Today, we have something even more exciting! In 2011, Rita and Mal have been involved in all kinds of  music-related projects: from social media campaigns gathering funds to record an album to running  the artists’ official  pages on Facebook and Twitter. During the promotion for American rockers, Ascension Of The Watchers, we interviewed a world known artist and director Victor-Hugo Borges. All questions submitted by fans were collected by Malicia and later edited and turned into an official interview by Rita. Please read on, as  Mr. Borges took us for a truly unique journey to an animated world of cinema and dark fantasy!


If a great music is the half of the success for a rock band, then the music video must be the other. Since the beginning of MTV in the early 1980’s, the audience has been raised to believe, that every released single must be accompanied by a video clip. Video killed the radio star, remember? In the last two decades, millions of music videos have been produced; some ridiculously expensive, some boring and some simply astonishingly… bad. Luckily for our eyes, in the depths of the world wide web, we can find true masterpieces. One of them is certainly the hauntingly beautiful animation to “Residual presence” by an American band Ascension of the Watchers led by Burton C Bell (City of Fire, Fear Factory).   The video has been directed by Victor Borges. Born in 1979 in Santos he is an acclaimed Brazilian artist, director and graphic designer. He started his professional carrier in 1999 and since then his works have received more than 50 prestigious awards, have been shown on more than hundred festivals in 20 different countries. Despite being a very busy man, Victor was kind enough to answer questions from Arnaud Mittempergher, Ryan James Opsal, Sandra (Wormgir), Antonia Fraser, David J Mazur, Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz.

Question 1: Your short movie “Icarus” has been turned into a video for Ascension of the Watchers. Can you tell us how the collaboration between you and the band began?

Victor-Hugo Borges: Actually I don’t remember exactly how it began, hehe. My theory is:  I have some common friends with Burton C. Bell. They have showed him some stuff I made. ThenBurton recommended me to Angie Jourgensen, the label manager. The rest is as you already know.Burton is a really sweet guy; we’ve talked a lot about family, vacations and mundane stuff. I like to work for PEOPLE, you know. Not celebrities.

Interview page 1. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

Question 2: Why did you decide to make the video to “Residual presence”? Have you heard this song before?

Victor-Hugo Borges: Burton showed me the song before it was released. He gave me freedom to choose between “Residual presence” and “Like Falling Snow”. It was easy for me to decide, as “Residual presence” has a “theme” I really like. You can also see it in some of my early works as well.

Question 3: What was your inspiration for the style of this video and how long did the animation take to complete?

Victor-Hugo Borges:  My own childhood was my inspiration. My father abandoned me and I had to create my own stories to explain his absence. The animation took about a year to be completed. At first it was a short movie. I showed it toBurtonand said: “Hey, I have just finished an animation that fits this song, if you like it, we can re-edit it into a music video”.Burton’s answer was: “Wow, let’s do it!”.

Question 4:  What type of software was used to make the video? Have you ever considered using a style similar to Kinetic Topography?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I don’t remember all software used to make this animation but certainly it included: Stop Motion Pro, Combustion, Maya, Photoshop, 3D Studio and several others. Kinetic Topography is great. Maybe someday I will try to experiment with it.

Question 5: Any other secrets on how the animation was made?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I can give you some interesting facts. All stop-motion sequences were recorded in the animator’s living room. She decided to do her job at home to give this movie her full attention. We literally had to destroy her lounge to install all lighting and the green screens. We also installed a huge generator in her kitchen, as the electric lines in the house were not powerful enough to completely light the set. Most of the movie was shot against the green screen and the backgrounds were constructed in CGI. Some backgrounds were also painted in a traditional manner. Sadly, the original movie’s narrator Gianfrancesco Guanieri, died a couple of weeks after the dialogues were recorded. He was a really well known actor in Bazil.

Interview page 2. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

Question 6: What other videos have you directed?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I’ve directed a lot of stuff in the last 11 years. Some of videos are available online, some of them have teasers/trailers online. Most of them don’t need translation to be understood. My personal favorites are:

  – “Des Fantastik Sucric”, made in the late 2001, is a 2-minute take on a popular Brazilian tale. A boy wants to join the circus and surprises all with his unique talent. It was directed by Victor and animated by Claudio Nascimento. “Des Fantastik Sucric”, animation in cuts, was awarded a 2001 Mapa Cultural Paulista and received an honorary mention at the Vitória Festival

– Made in 2002 and narrated by Francisco Cuoco, “El Chateau” has been praised by critics on the CurtaSantos Festival and was named the Best Animation of 2002 by Academia Brasileira de Cinema (BrazilianFilmAcademy). This 6-minute long animation tells a dark story of a doomed romance, red meat and a very unusual restaurant. You simply do not wish to know what’s on the menu!

“Historietas Assombradas (para crianças malcriadas)” or “The Haunted stories for misbehaving children” is probably Victor’s most accomplished work. It was awarded more than15 times at different film festivals (Festival de Tiradentes, Anima Mundi, Cine PE and others). This 15-minute long movie is divided into three stories told before the bedtime to “bad” children by their 100 years old grandmother. It has been narrated by acclaimed actress Myriam Muniz. You can see the trailer here:

Interview page 3. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

“O Menino que Plantava Invernos” (“The boy who sowed the winters”) is a short 15-minute movie made between 2007 and 2008. It premiered at the 20th Festival Internacional De Curtas-Metragens in Sao Paulo in 2009. The animation tells the story of a young boy who lost his parents right after his birth. Believing the tragedy was caused by an evil dragon, the boy seeks revenge by conjuring up the coldest winter ever in an attempt to freeze the horrific monster. You can see the trailer here:

– Directed in 2008 and released a year later, “Tristesse Robot” tells the story
of a robot awakened two hundred years after the suicide of his creator. He automatically tries to search for answers and finds a world full of spiders, a zombified girl and two ghosts in his way. The short movie debuted at the 13th Luso-Brazilian Film Festival in Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal. Victor received an Incentive Award from the Ministry of Culture in 2007 that made the filming of this movie possible. The teaser can be seen here:

– “O Baú de Lu” is the newest project of Victor and the first one created especially for pre-school kids. Luke, the main character
of the series, is a boy who loves creating things and always carries a huge chest on wheels with him. He keeps all toys and tools inside the chest, but the magical box also serves as a home for two of his friends: Mini-mini, a huge monster-pet and Zorba, a robot with encyclopedia in his head. With their help and his imagination, Luke can create a whole universe around him. The trailer can be seen here:

– A short 7-minute animation entitled “O Ladrão de Nomes” (“The Name thief”) was created in 2009 especially for the exhibition “As Palavras e o Mundo” (“The Words and the World”) organized by Brazilian organization SESC. You can see the full video here: (

 Question 7: The interpretation of this video could be that the two-face robot symbolizes the wish to attain happiness. The man with the hat (we guess he’s the father of the child and died in an airplane accident) is switching the robot from sad to happy and giving him a gift because as father, he wants his child to be happy. But the child rejects the “residual presence” of his father (he turns the robot back to sad), the gift gets broken and he scares the people (the pilots of the plane toy) away. This would mean that he has not accepted the fact that he’s dead; he rejects the thought of his father because it causes him too much pain. But eventually time passes by and the robot gets happy all by itself, meaning the boy has accepted the death of his father and got over it (“nothing ever lasts forever”, meaning his mourning). So the question would be: is that interpretation correct? And as an artist, did you have freedom to interpret the lyrics of the song freely or were you given “instructions” from the band?

Interview page 4. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

Victor-Hugo Borges: I think there isn’t a “correct” interpretation. That interpretation is beautiful, so, that’s fine with me. I’ve seen a lot of different interpretations for this video, some of them are really inspiring. So, why should I “limit” the potential of the viewers telling them an “official” explanation? This is why art is so important, to give peop le some wings.

Question 8: Can you explain, what is the relationship between the child and the toy?

Victor-Hugo Borges: The two-faced toy robot could represent one of the biggest problems we face: how should we look at things happening in our lives? Even in the darkest hours, I think, we should be able to CHOOSE if we want to see things in a positive or negative way. We can’t blame life as it is, everything is a choice.

Question 9: Tell us more about yourself. What are you working on at the moment?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I’m 32 years old. I live inSão Paulo,Brazil’s biggest city. I have a 12 years old son, a wife and a dog. I’m currently working in 2 shows for children and on a feature film, due in 2013.

Thank you once again for your time and answers.

Victor-Hugo Borges: Thank you all, feel free to add me on Facebook, you are my friends already.  Keep on dreaming!

Interview by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz,
Official Ascension of the Watchers group:!/groups/21526817840/

You can see the PDF version of this interview here:

The Issuu version can be found here:

 Victor-Hugo Borges personal sites:

Deviantart gallery:


Thank you for reading! As with previous interviews: please do not  re-post, take screenshots, quote or post this interview anywhere else without our permission. Contacting the artist, arragements, editing and conducting those interviews took as months! We tried really hard to make it all happen and it is sad seeing your hard work  being taken away. If you’d like to contact us, please write to: rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.
Come back soon!

Till next time,
Rita and Mal

Interview logs: El Sanctuario del Rock + Burton C Bell

Hola amigos!

The Long May weekend is over and we are back to work! Today we have a special treat for all of you – another interview with Burton C Bell of Fear Factory and City of Fire, but this time in English and Spanish! No, we haven’t mastered Spanish overnight 🙂 Let us explain: On Halloween 2011, Rita teamed up with Christian Ricardo better known as El Reverendo. Christian is the popular blogger and the owner of El Sanctuario del Rock – a website bringing the freshest news from rock and metal scene to the Spanish speaking community on the Internet. Christian prepared the questions and Rita conducted the interview. Despite the technical issues (Skype video would not work properly!), results of this glorious co-operation can be seen below. Enjoy reading!

INTERVIEW WITH BURTON C BELL by Christian Ricardo and conducted by Rita Dabrowicz
First published on El SANCTUARIO DEL ROCK, November 2011


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SANCTUARY OF ROCK: City o f Fire was formed three years ago. However, there are people inSouth America that still hasn’t heard about the band yet. Could you please tell us briefly about the band’s beginnings?

Burton C Bell: The band formed when Byron’s old band Caustic Thought decided to do a reunion show inVancouver. After the show they decided to re-record some old songs and some new ones, they brought in Terry “Sho”Murray in to help them as a second guitar player and as a producer. The music came our so well, they all thought they could use a new singer. Byron knew that I would like the music, so he asked me to listen to the demos. I really liked them, so I flew out and started jamming wit them. They had a person to back them financially, like a benefactor, to help. This guy turned out to be a fraud. He was not in the music business and he messed everything up after the record was finished. That is why we never toured properly and the albums were never distributed around the globe

Sanctuary of Rock:  But things seem to be much better now. Two months ago you started recording a new album. Tell us how the recording process is going. Is the album already finished?

Burton: Okay, things are better. We finally have a manager who is getting us the proper support and going through the proper channels for financing. We just finished recording our 2nd album, which is to be titled “TRIAL THROUGH FIRE”. I am very proud of the work we have done. We “found” our sound on this record. Terry has been the main producer and he just finished cleaning up the tracks so that Greg Reely can begin mixing the album. The record is just about finished. All the recording is done, just the mixing and mastering is left.

Sanctuary of Rock: Ok, you have just answered half of my next question…

Burton: Great!

Sanctuary of Rock: Do you have a release date planned?

Burton: We are hoping for a March 2012 release around the globe!

Interview page 1, Pictures by Omer Cordell

Sanctuary of rock: Can you tell us what was the main difference between recording and writing the self titled album and the new one?

Burton: The main difference was that we knew what we wanted to achieve. We knew what are strong points were with the band’s music. We all had a great understanding of the band itself. Terry has a great sense of what my voice can do, so he and the guys were able to write the music that suited everyone. We were very “cohesive” as a band. We knew everyone’s strong points.

Sanctuary of Rock: On the first album you covered “Rain” by The Cult. Byron mentioned in previous interviews that this song worked very well in the concept of the first album and had theVancouver’s vibe… Are you going to experiment with covers again?

Burton: Over the years, we did a couple of covers: “Children of the Revolution” by T REX, and “Veteran of the Psychic Wars” by Blue Oyster Cult. Terry proposed a song to do for the album, “Enjoy the silence” by Depeche Mode. It came out very grandiose, and it does fit the vibe of this album.

Sanctuary of Rock: That’s a great song!

Burton: It came out City of Fire style!

Sanctuary of Rock:  Now, let me ask you about the technical side of the album. The band has produced the first album themselves.  Do you plan to produce it again or are you working with another producer?

Burton: We produced it ourselves again. We know our sound and all of us are seasoned veterans in the studio. Terry is actually the main producer. He has a great sense for songwriting and arrangement.

Sanctuary of Rock: Ok, now we just had to ask this: where did you get the idea from to collect money for recording the new album on Pledge Music?

Burton: That was our manager. She found success in it with another band she has worked with. IT was a fantastic idea. Not only did it generate the funds we needed, it also created a grass roots fan base that is important for a new band. It created a personal network between the band and our new fans, and they are a very happy, as we are.

Interview page 2, Pictures by Omer Cordell

Sanctuary of Rock:  Music video to song “Bad Motivator” was filmed few weeks ago. Could you us when the video will be released?

Burton: The video was created thought the program of MUCH MUSIC in Canada- it is Canada’s MTV. Every year, they give grants to new bands to make a video. We applied and got the grant. The video was made through all Canadian videographers, directors etc. Much Music has the video, but I am not certain when they are going to show it. I think it is soon.

Sanctuary of  Rock:  Very well. How did you end up working with Cody Calahan? Is he a close friend of yours?

Burton: It was the first time I met Cody Calahan, and I look forward to working with him again. He is very ambitious and I like his creative ideas.

Sanctuary of Rock: Tell us about the writing process for City ofFire. Does it differ from your other bands? Will be there any particularly theme for the new album?

Burton: The writing process is very similar to other bands. The guys had music ideas and were recorded on a demo. I would sit with Terry in the studio and just sing out ideas. I usually have some words to “throw down” and I try to incorporate them into the song. A lot of times, I just say things that come out, like speaking in tongues. There is no theme, but everything we were writing bout was happening in our lives, so that is why we call the album “TRIAL THROUGH FIRE”. It was a very difficult writing process.

Sanctuary of Rock: Difficult? Why? Can you explain?

Burton: We were all going through personal issues, and also the band was dealing with business issues. This record may have never been made if it were not for our manager. All the songs tell a story.

Interview page 3, Pictures by Omer Cordell

Sanctuary of Rock:  Ok, I guess with your busy schedule it’s not easy to rehearse very often with the band. Who is the main songwriter in the group? Is everybody allowed to bring the ideas for the songs to the studio? We wonder how the creative process of the City Of Fire looks like.

Burton: We all are very busy, but when there is a tour, or album, we make the schedule to get together. Everyone brings ideas to the studio; however, Terry was the main songwriter for this album. The process is rather simple, for instance, I had an idea for a song that I had been working on. When I got to Vancouver, I played it for the guys and they loved it. Terry and Byron do the same. We sit and listen to each other’s ideas. Then we quickly record the idea so that it is not lost and we build from there. That way, I am abler to absorb the song and begin doing words and vocals. It is actually a very exciting process. It is my favorite part of the whole creative process.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Is City of Fire just a side project or a number one priority band in your musical career?

Burton: In this day and age, there is no such thing as a side band. A professional musician needs more than “1 iron in the fire”. City ofFirehas great potential and we as a band see that. With the right management which we have, it will do great things. With the proper scheduling, I will be able to do all the music I want to like Fear Factory or Ascension of the Watchers and other projects.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Let us speak about Jed now.  I know that Jed played guitar during the live shows. Is he still a member of the band?

Burton: Jed Simon only filled in on one tour. He is not in the band by his choice. W have a new guitar player named Steve.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Can you tell more about him?

Burton: Steve Sal was in Terry’s band Shocore. We auditioned him, and he is a great player, and he is a great guy. He will do just fine.

Sanctuary of Rock: You have already visited South America a couple times and you enjoyed Rock at the Park 2006 in Bogota, Colombia. Any plans for City of Fire to visit the Latin-American fans again?

Burton: That was a great show, would have been better if it had not rained, but it was fun. I do hope to get down to South America again someday, and with City Of Fire.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Finances are a hot topic nowadays; a lot of people think that all musicians with a successful career are millionaires. After many years working on, what do you think about the actual status of the musical industry?

Burton: I know, I get that all the time. Only if you sell millions of records, that you can be a millionaire. I have been in the industry for 20 years as of today! (the 31 of October) and I have seen it change drastically and it is because of the internet. Illegal downloading has taken my royalties. If you are a fan of a band, you should support them properly. Illegal downloading does take the hard earned money from the artist. That is how we survive and if no one is buying records anymore, then I cannot support my 3 children and I will have to do something else. That is why I have 3 bands. I am still a starving artist, even after 20 years. It shows my dedication to my art.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Let’s hope with the new album you will become millionaires!

Burton: I am not holding my breath!!!

Sanctuary of Rock:  All right, Could you say HELLO to all your fans from THE-SANCTUARY-OF-ROCK-DOT-COM?

Burton: I would like to say a GIGANTE GRACIAS a SANCTUARIO DEL ROCK!. City Of Fire hopes that we can play to all of our new and old fans in Bogota very soon!

Sanctuary of Rock:  Ok, Burton, thanks again for answering our questions! Anything else you’d like to say to all readers of the Sanctuary of and your fans from Latin America?

Burton: Please support your favorite artists properly, for this is how we survive, and without proper support, your favorite bands will not exist anymore. It is up to you!!!!

Sanctuary of Rock:  We will pass your message to our readers, once again, thank you so very much for your time.


The original Spanish version of the interview can be seen on Sanctuary del Rock website:

English PDF file can be seen here:

Please do not copy, re-post or place this interview anywhere else without a written permission from Mal, Rita or Christian. If you have any questions, contact us at  rdabrowicz at yahoo dot come. Pictures used with permission and were taken by Omer Cordell. All rights reserved to Vanadian Avenue and  Sanctuario del Rock 2011-2012.

Hope to see you soon!
We have more to come!

Rita and Mal