Bryan Erickson of Velvet Acid Christ on keeping friendships to a minimum make time for music
How did you hook up with Metropolis Records?
That's a funny story because before we signed to Off-Beat, I was selling VAC CDs through a mail-order place called Isolation Tank. We were selling them independently through Electric Deathtrip Records, which was my record label that I had back then. We actually signed Suicide Commando and Clinic. VAC took off, and I couldn't run the label, and everyone else decided they couldn't do it, either, so it ended.
I had some big SNAFUs with the label I had in Europe and some unfortunate business deals happened, and I got a good taste of the music industry sticking its boot up my ass. They were licensing my music to Metropolis Records, and I called up Metropolis and asked if they would buy out my contract. And they did, which is why I'm on Metropolis records. I've had really good luck since and everything has worked out with them.
Your first show was in Germany. Where was your first show in Denver?
I've only played one show in Denver at the Gothic Theater with Haujobb and Din Fiv. It was on my 2000 tour. The only tour I've ever done in the United States. We went from Florida, up east, across through Chicago, and then down to Denver, then Utah, to Phoenix, and then up the West Coast and stopped at San Francisco. I never really toured much. The reason I haven't toured since is because that was such a clusterfuck. I didn't make any money.
Also, when you sing industrial music, you do this whisper-screaming thing that kicks your voice in the ass. Whispering is one of the hardest things you can do to your voice because you're talking with wind and blowing all that air over your vocal chords and it dries them out and chaps them. When you do those guttural whisper screams, it kicks your voice's ass so badly. I think that's why Ogre in Skinny Puppy isn't screaming or rasping so much anymore. For this tour I have days off to recover my voice. People think it's easy, and I tell you what, it's not easy.
I'm sure with Skinny Puppy they got so big that they played show after show after show, and that tore Ogre's voice to shreds, and that's why he kind of changed. Because I'm smaller, I don't need to play shows every day. I don't want a tour van. I don't want all these expenses so I can book a lot of days off and rest my voice and not scream and stuff. It's the only way I can play shows.
I tried really hard not to be a local band. I never wanted that stigma. I used to be in the scene, and I used to DJ here and knew all the DJs, and I used to go out clubbing a lot, and I knew a lot of the local bands back in the day. To this day, watching them struggle is so depressing. It sucks being me because everybody wants me to save them and "discover" them. I just don't have that power.
I'm not a record label A&R, so I don't have that power. I can give people tips, but people get obnoxious when you have success and you make yourself accessible. It's more people that come out of the woodwork and try to get you to do things for them, which is kind of annoying because you can't enjoy yourself. When I go out to a club, I just want to talk to people about stuff I like. Music's my job, and I do it all the time, and during my downtime I don't want to go talk about it.
I don't know what makes some people successful and not other people. Your character, the zeitgeist and circumstance and all that right-place-at-the-right-time stuff -- trying to orchestrate that stuff for anyone is impossible. I feel that being famous or getting popular or getting success is luck, fate, and you don't have control over it. You can be really talented, but if you don't write the right stuff at the right time in front of the right people and have the right things happen, it's just not going to happen for you.
I am very lucky that the coincidences and events that happened after I gave my CDs to Bill Leeb. Hundreds of people gave their CDs to Bill Leeb, and not many of them got even as famous as I did. The way things happen are so random and strange, I don't know how to help anybody else with it, honestly. If this is what you're meant to do, give it your all, and if it happens, it happens. I wasn't trying to be famous. Any time I try to, I fail. If I just be me and do what I do; it seems like that's what works.
And obviously, you have a sense of reality. You're popular in one realm of music, but that doesn't equate to worldwide, pop stardom.
Yeah, I mean I was popular in the "EBM underground" in the '90s. But I'm not popular in the clubs now. Now I'm a dinosaur, and the people that will come to the show aren't in the scene anymore. They're going to be the people that liked me in the '90s and the early 2000s. I'm not even as big, clearly, as Skinny Puppy or KMFDM. We can't fill the Fillmore, but we could play the Gothic.
I think we'll get one hundred fifty to three hundred people in each town. In some of the smaller markets, more like a hundred. In larger markets maybe as many as five hundred. That's not super big, but I'm still relevant enough to go on tour and have it pay the bills. I don't have any illusions about my status. I'm not a platinum artist or anything.