EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: TERMINAL GODS

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

MARIA CIEZAK: For those who are unfamiliar with Terminal Gods, can you give us a brief backstory?

ROBERT MAISEY of TERMINAL GODS: Rob Cowlin and I have a firm policy of not talking about how we met in the queue outside the London Astoria, both going to watch a Leeds drum machine rock band that shall remain unnamed.

Josh and I knew each other from school and have lived together for a few years, so we formed the guitar section. Jonno plays in a disgustingly brilliant electro punk two-piece called HotGothic, who we gigged with many times, especially in the early days. When our original bass player left, we poached him. He’s dead good.

MC: Also, the name, some may think of as somewhat controversial. Is there a specific meaning?

TG: It’s pure ego and (justified) arrogance. It’s also a fitting description. It’s part of the name of a really cool Aubrey Beardsley painting (Venus Between Terminal Gods). It doesn’t have anything to do with any pseudo-religious Lovecraftian mumbo jumbo (although I do like a bit of Lovecraft, for personal use only mind you).

MC: Let’s chat about the release of your debut EP, Machine Beat Messiah (released November 25th). I’ve had the chance to listen and I’m totally digging the sound. How did the whole process go? Did the writing come first or the music?

TG: In a nutshell, the songs tend to start life with just me, a drum machine and a 12-string telecaster, usually at about 4 am. We then flesh them out all together in the rehearsal rooms and, if they pass the quality control, Cowlin will write some words and melody.

I wrote the basic music for The Resurrection Man because I had a new 12-string acoustic with butterflies on it and wanted a song that sounded like it’d been written on a guitar with butterflies on it. I failed.

The rest of the songs are just jazzed up Stooges tracks. Seriously. All of them.

MC: Maybe I’m jumping ahead of myself, or it’s wishful thinking, or both (laughs) — but any chance of a full-length in the near future?

TG: We have enough material for a full-length record, which we’ll make when someone gives us enough money and promotion to make it worth releasing.

In the meantime, we’re quite content putting out singles and EPs. This is something more bands should do. If you’re going to spend all of your money on releasing a chunk of vinyl with only a few songs on it, you’d better make damn sure those songs are worth releasing. This is called quality control. We kind of envisage our first album being a kind of best of with all our best singles redone in a really expensive studio, maybe with Steve Albini on guest drum machines. I’m totally sick of bands discovering a sound they kinda like and jumping straight into an album before they have actually written enough good songs to justify it.

I do like the idea of doing a live album though – this is something we’re talking about at the moment. It means we can put out a decent amount of songs on one record without actually committing to a “debut LP”. If it’s really really good, we can just claim it’s our Kick Out The Jams and was meant to be an album all along.

At the moment, we sell small runs of limited edition records to a passionate, but relatively small audience. This is great, but we’re not going to fire all of our guns at once (by releasing an album) before we’ve even got ourselves off the ground.

MC: I also love the video for King Hell. On a personal note, it makes me want to attend a show, for I feel like I’m at a concert when watching. Was that the whole vibe you were going for?

TG: We’re a live band, it’s where the best (and worst) of rock and roll really happens. We also wanted to save the money for studio rental for the video for The Wheels Of Love.

Originally we planned to film the video for King Hell from the back seat of a huge Dodge Challenger while cruising into the oil-smeared sunset of The Badlands, but we scrapped the idea when we realised everyone had already seen Mad Max.

All our videos are made by Andy Oxley of Screen 3 productions. He knows us, we know him. It’s nice to have loyalty to the people you work with, and it gives you a chance to grow as artists together. In my opinion, the main reason our videos tend to look pretty cool, despite shoestring budgets, is because Andy has spent a lot of time getting to know us and our music.

MC: You guys are doing so well in London right now — any chance of coming over to the states in the near future?

TG: Hopefully. We’ll just phone our huge record company and ask them to charter a jet.

But seriously, there are some awesome Americans that have really put their names behind us. A guy called Jason Ledyard who runs a club called Absolution in New York has been our constant champion. Another guy called Ken McIntyre who has an amazing radio show called Advanced Demonology wrote a lovely bit about us in Classic Rock magazine. If more Americans like the record and are willing to go out and tell lots of other Americans what nice guys we are, then I see no reason why we won’t eventually end up in the States. It worked with the Germans.

MC: What are some bands you guys are into right now?

TG: For me, it’s mostly bands rocking the London alt circuit. There’s so much new music out there, I tend to go for stuff I can go and watch live regularly. The new Vuvuvultures LP is pretty swinging and the new Purson album is like a psychedelic sex dream cut to record. I also liked the new White Lies album a lot, but White Lies albums always sound wonderful.

Josh has a huge hard-on for a Sheffield blues rock/stoner doom two-piece called Wet Nuns. Josh is into a lot of Doom right now. We do a live night called Club Roadkill which is dedicated to putting on garage bands of this nature. The next band we’re putting on are called LOOM. They’re an awesome dark punk anger management case making big waves in London right now.

Cowlin runs a night called A New Dusk, which is dedicated to playing vaguely foreign sounding coldwave/darkwave/coolwave two-piece guitar/drum machine bands with loads of reverb on everything. They all sound like Suicide meets Siouxsie and the Banshees and they all claim allude to being from New York, although I’m pretty sure most of them are actually from the suburbs of London.

Cowlin and I are always listening to James Rays Gangwar. I know you’ve never heard of them, no one has. But the fact that they’re one of the most overlooked treasures of rock and roll is one of the only things we can agree on.

As I write this, I’m sitting with our tour manager listening to a Red Lorry Yellow Lorry LP called Blow. It’s really really good.

MC: Sum up in five words why people should listen to Terminal Gods.

TG: Like goth, but not shit.

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