Indieterria meets Michael Knowles

We go political!

Michael Knowles blows a kiss towards audience at Drum and Pig pub/music venue on its final night before a temporary closure and management takeover. Worcester, February 25, 2017

Everything`s political as Skunk Anansie song goes. And May issue of Indieterria will be all that and even a bit philosophical.

We are steering back our ship to Worcester shores to introduce you to Michael Knowles – leader of The STDs and one of the most controversial figures in the Midlands. How politically incorrect is Mr Knowles? His new single is called “Theresa May is a cunt” and contains language so strong you may want to dig out your “Cop Killers” and “Straight Outta Comptons” out of the basement instead. We can see you rolling your eyes and ears dear readers. So we will ante up and tell you that besides being potty-mouthed, Michel Knowles has a voice of 4,5 octaves, a pitch perfect hearing and is a trained in music production.

Aha, controversial yet talented – now that is a hard mixture to swallow for some. It is much easier to dismiss musicians and artists as immature and looking for attention when  they are painted as  common nobodies. Much harder to do so when artists are seen as complex humans who have their strengths and exercise the right to freedom of speech.

The current world of pop music has been derived of controversial and outspoken characters to the point that you cant even hear songs on the radio that were in heavy rotation 20 years ago in the middle of the day. Try requesting Nine Inch Nails` Closer nowadays on the radio and see what they will play you.

Indie scene had always a place for counter culture and the obscene and we are happy to report that independent and unsigned artists are stepping in to fill the hole. Shame have fantastic “VISA Vulture” with its libelous video to match, The Blinders paint messages on their guitars and Michael Knowles and The STDs hammer the message nicely from our town.   You may see it as unnecessary and infantile – but we see it a form of balance. Music is broad enough to incorporate Little Mix and The STDs in all their respective popness and cockiness.

Fear not. The interview below is all nice and dandy and you may find out that controversial  figures can have a lot of cleaver things to say. We loved the passion Michael has for his musical heroes. So sit back and read on:

Michael Knowles performing live at Drum and Pig pub/music venue on its final night before a temporary closure and management takeover. Worcester, February 25, 2017

 

Michael Knowles – a stream of consciousness

Technology is a wonderful thing. For example, it allows you to interview artists even late at night from the comfort of your own office. You type the questions into instant messenger and wait for the answers to arrive. Piece of cake. On the downside, technology can`t replicate that old fashioned feeling of excitement that every music journalist feels when meeting a new and promising act in person. And you need to know Michael Knowles surely earned himself a name to be regarded as exciting and controversial in equal measures. He fronts a band called The STD`s, dresses like it`s 1980s and is known for performances that are politically incorrect yet hilariously funny. No journalist would pass  the opportunity to see what makes Michael tick and we are no exception.

This is what we have found out:

Tell us about the band. How many of you and how did you start?

There were only three of us to start with: Steve Church, Dean Thomas Carter and myself. Steve and I had worked together in the past on an album I never released. Dean and I had played together in the house band of The Flag in Worcester (back then known as The Tap). One day we went to this kid`s backyard studio and we all fit really well so we started looking for a bassist as at the start Steve was on guitar.  Over time we’ve had some great musicians join us on – George, James or Tadd. They have come and gone to find new projects. Right now the line up is Steve on bass, The Jack (Tad Jones) on guitar, Dean on drums and myself on vocals. Plus I play guitar too.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

So four guys in a rock and roll band that is nothing like Worcestershire ever seen.

This is true.

You have a very distinct image – very 80s classic rock. On purpose or is it just how you guys roll?

To be honest,  we’ve only really dressed up for gigs a few times but now I mean we don’t really want to have to look through stuff to wear!

So there`s image change on the cards? You know you have already made yourself a name of new Steel Panther in town!

It depends where we shop next (laughs) and really I thought we had the reputation of a noisy bunch.

Noisy yes. But people rather see you as classic rock revival. Quite an interesting twist on David Lee Roth and Poison.

Well, that wasn’t our intention.

What was your intention then?

Just to be noisy and chaotic.

We could add early Alice In Chains to the influences you represent.

There was never really a plan. Still isn’t.

You still evolving sonically?

We’ve got a lot of new stuff in the pipeline. We always do.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

If you were to describe new songs- what would you say? Shall we buy earplugs in advance?

Possibly. There’s  material about some dark times and then whatever we write in the meantime. Plus a concept album.

So no more comic rock and songs about female attributes?

Probably not. But who knows? Let’s face it there’s no plan.

You said that world doesn’t need love songs anymore. That world needs anger.

This is true. I think a lot of anything I’ve written that could be considered “love songs” are usually bitter sweet. With a hint of sarcasm and a lot of anger.

Well, Ledbury Song is very angry but at the same time hilariously funny. You have audience roaring with laughter.

It is less of a song, more of a rant really.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

We don’t know if you agree- but we see your lyrics as a mix of Tenacious D with Morrissey-esque cynical humour and playing with words.

I doubt I could ever be compared to Morrissey. I’m never that poetic (laughs)

The Ledbury Song has the same motif as Everyday Is Like A Sunday:  dislike for a small town that is becoming like a prison for a young person. Moz also wants to bomb the town and he is not poetic about it.

I haven’t heard it but I agree with him.

You come from a small place?

A small town. Small in size and small minded. Hard to be anyone there.

Do you think you would be different if you were born in London?

I’ve been to London and I hate that place. Too big and far too busy. Everyone in a hurry to go nowhere.

So perhaps there`s a positive side of being born in a small town?

I think the point is everyone hates where they are from eventually but it’s always where you call home.

Who would you put in your top 5 artists?

I’d say Tool, Amen, early Slipknot and honestly Trent Reznor and Bill Hicks.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

Very broad influences.

I just love their attitudes and way of creating. I love how Bill Hicks was born in the religious South yet could deconstruct the archaic institutions that he was thrust into. I love how angry Slipknot were and to a 13 year old outcast they represented hope that you might be a freak but there was a place in this world for you. Amen taught me that record companies are just stupid. Tool taught me the beauty of feedback and how atmosphere can really make the hairs on your neck stand up. And Trent is just the god of chaos in noise.

You talk so poetically about music. You will put Moz out of business one day.

It’s all I have really. My whole life has been music and everything else has come and gone but there was always solace in music.

You sing, write, compose, play instruments – that’s lot of talents.

I see it as separate parts of one whole encompassing thing that is just me.

Where do you think the music will take you or the band?

It’s less about what music can do and more about how far we take it. We’re not looking to be billionaire rock stars with handlers. Our goals are to play every show and know at least half the audience.

And will that be enough?

It was always enough to have fans to grow with than trying to appease the masses.

You can follow Michael Knowles online at:

https://www.facebook.com/MKandSTDs
https://www.instagram.com/michael_knowles21
https://soundcloud.com/michael-knowles-music

At the beginning of April 2017, Michael Knowles and The STDs began recording of their new material using premises at Marrs Bar in Worcester as a studio. The result is album (that still needs to receive a release date) and a single “Theresa May is a cunt”. You can listen it here:

https://michaelknowlesthestds.bandcamp.com/track/theresa-mays-a-cunt

As we said – you may not agree with the bands sentiments but taking into consideration news item such as: HERE  or HERE, it makes us wonder if the song should not be at least six minutes longer. To act as a vent for the anger and frustration, if not anything else.

 

Our interview with Michael Knowles has been kindly reprinted in Slap Magazine and you can see your copy at the link below:

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/slap-issues/issue-69-may-2017.pdf

Or download copy  here:

issue-69-may-2017

Some images for our records if anything else fails:

Slap Magazine feature – May 2017 edition

Photo of the article

Kudos to Andy O`Hare from BBC Hereford & Worcester for allowing us some of his photos.

And if you found this edition of Indieterria too much, bear with us. Next time we are going to the church!

Malicia

The Reading Hour – 12 (un)easy questions for Primadonna Angela

Selamat datang!

Welcome back to The Reading Hour! Sorry guys for not posting anything new in this column for so long, but we were quite busy with other stuff, mostly traveling to fascinating places and attending various events. Today, we have  something truly sensational for you, and we really mean it.  As far as we are concerned, nobody has ever done this thing before us and we are absolutely proud of ourselves!

Firstly, if you have missed previous editions of The Reading Hour, please use the links below to read interviews with superb authors like Nathan P Butler – Star Wars Community guru, and Jana Oliver – one of the most successful authors of YA fiction out there!

Interview with Nathan P Butler:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/the-reading-hour-15-uneasy-questions-for-nathan-p-butler/

Interview with Jana Oliver:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/the-reading-hour-15-uneasy-questions-for-jana-oliver/

Today’s issue of The Reading Hour is a very special one. By the popular demand, we have decided to report on Helen Stringer again. Helen has been featured on our blog twice already and it seems our readers just cannot get enough! Lots of things have changed since we last spoken to the lovely British author –  Helen’s independently published book “Paradigm” has been given a Silver Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award in Teen: Fiction (13–18 Years) category (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/ibpa-announces-benjamin-franklin-independent-book-awards/), she is working on several new projects including an online series named The Gloaming and third book in the beloved Spellbinder series.

Talking about Belladonna Johnson, she is now a global citizen! She has left her native England and went on to become a true sensation in France, Germany, Italy and now in Indonesia! Yes, you have heard it correctly – “The Last Ghost” is now known as “Sang Pengikat Mantra (Spellbinder)”.  How fantastic is that!

Please read the previous articles about Helen:

Interview with Helen Stringer:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-reading-hour-helen-stringer/

A Day with Helen Stringer:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/a-day-with-helen-stringer/

Thanks to the kindness of  Indonesian publisher of the book, Gramedia Pustaka Utama, we have sat down with the esteemed translator, editor and popular writer in her own right, Primadonna Angela to have a little chat. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to her – she is witty, funny and fascinating, all at once. Talking to Donna (as she prefers to be called) opened our eyes to the thriving Indonesian book market. Millions of books sold, thousands of dedicated fans, countless online book clubs and  social media groups dedicated to the newly punished titles. Indonesia has many talented writers, yet only handful of books are being released in the western world. Let’s hope that Helen will lead the revolution! And we cannot wait for Primadonna’s books being translated into English. Common British publishers, that’s the perfect opportunity for you. Remember, the bloggers are always right – we can find true gems long before you can 🙂

Primadonna Angela  - official portrait

Primadonna Angela – official portrait

Official bio:

Call her Donna or Angela, she might respond with a smile. This Indonesian writer divides her time juggling to make ends meet, writing, balancing her attention between her partner (Isman H. Suryaman) and children, managing the household, and of course, occasionally sipping earl grey tea to keep her sane. She has written twenty books so far, popular fiction, in Gramedia Pustaka Utama (GPU). Her newest book, How to be a Writer, was published in March 2012. Her passion for new experiences propels her to seek new chances to meet more people. Enthused for fresh inspirations, she longs to join multicultural events, collecting data and broadening her horizon.  She claims to be unique, independent and strong. She dreams and imagines a lot. “But what is love, and what is life, if you do not let yourself live?”

Please enjoy the first ever English language interview conducted with this immensely talented writer! Primadonna is not only an author of excellent books for young adults and female readers, she has also translated numerous foreign books into Indonesian including Laini Taylor’s best selling series “Dari Asap dan Tulang” (“Daughter of Smoke & Bone” #1), “Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket, “Pesta Prom dari Neraka” (“Prom Nights from Hell”) by Stephanie Meyer and many many others.

————————————————————

The Reading Hour – 12 (un)easy questions for Primadonna Angela 

Primadonna Angela

Primadonna Angela

Vanadian Avenue: Who is Primadonna Angela? Please introduce yourself to Vanadian Avenue readers.

Primadonna Angela: Hello. I am a full time mom and freelance writer/translator/editor from Indonesia. In my spare time (when I have any!) I like cooking, doing crafts, and traveling.

Vanadian Avenue: Tell us how did you become involved in translating Helen Stringer’s popular young adult novel?

Primadonna Angela: An editor in Gramedia Pustaka Utama (GPU) asked me whether I was interested in editing (the first four-five chapters) and translating the rest of this book. She was teasing me, I think. She knew I’d be interested. I love the cover and the premise. I agreed right away.

Vanadian Avenue: “Sang Pengikat Mantra (Spellbinder)” has been released by Gramedia Pustaka Utama and we need to admit that it looks simply beautiful. How long have you been working with them?

 

Helen Stringer's book was released in April 2014 in Indonesia! The full title is "Spellbinder Sang Pengikat Mantra"                                                                    You can purchase Indonesian version here: http://www.gramediaonline.com/moreinfo.cfm?Product_ID=876554 English version is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Spellbinder-Helen-Stringer/dp/B008D6Y450/

Helen Stringer’s book was released in April 2014 in Indonesia! The full title is “Spellbinder Sang Pengikat Mantra”
You can purchase Indonesian version here:
http://www.gramediaonline.com/moreinfo.cfm?Product_ID=876554
English version is available here:
http://www.amazon.com/Spellbinder-Helen-Stringer/dp/B008D6Y450/

Primadonna Angela: I’ve been working with GPU since 2005, when I published my first book. In 2007, I began translating and editing for them.

Vanadian Avenue: You have not only translated “Spellbinder” from English into Indonesian but also served as the book’s editor. Was it hard to translate a British book so it could be understood by Indonesian readers? Was there any particular part of the book that gave you a lot of trouble?

Primadonna Angela: I think the book was easy and fun enough to translate. I had some difficulties in translating Sibyl’s prophecy, because it should be poetic and yet include clues for Belladonna’s quest.

Vanadian Avenue:  Translators sometimes take liberty when approaching a book. This happens often to fantasy literature. French version of Harry Potter moved entire action to France. Some international translations of The Hobbit implied that Middle-earth was located in Ireland. Spellbinder takes place in the United Kingdom. Did you keep the original location or names? Wasn’t it tempting to give Belladonna an Indonesian passport and spice the story a bit with some local flavour?

Primadonna Angela: Definitely not. Indonesia and UK are very different. The location is still in UK, with original names. If Belladonna was Indonesian, the storyline would be changed dramatically. An Indonesian girl would behave and think differently.

Vanadian Avenue: The world of Bella is full of mystical creatures, magic spells and artifacts with strange names (like a sword called Rod of Gram). Some things will be lost in translation, especially when the public may not be familiar with British culture or folk tales. How did you solve this ultimate dilemma?

"Kotak Mimpi" released on 29th July 2013.  Meet Larissa Isabella, a singer/song writer extraordinaire.  Left at the altar years ago by her former fiance, Patrick, Larissa concentrated on her career with music producer Arya. But when Patrick  asks Larissa to write him a song for his new love, Noreen,  Larissa is dragged into the past she thought she left behind. And who is responsible for publishing online compromising pictures of her? Pictures she  doesn't recognize and  with a man she doesn't remember!  You can buy your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Kotak-Indonesian-Edition-Primadonna-Angela/dp/9792297774

“Kotak Mimpi” released on 29th July 2013. Meet Larissa Isabella, a singer/song writer extraordinaire. Left at the altar years ago by her former fiance Patrick, Larissa concentrated on her career with music producer Arya. But when Patrick asks Larissa to write him a song for his new love Noreen, Larissa is dragged into the past she thought she left behind. And who is responsible for publishing online compromising pictures of her? Pictures she doesn’t recognize and with a man she doesn’t even remember! You can buy your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Kotak-Indonesian-Edition-Primadonna-Angela/dp/9792297774

Primadonna Angela: I just translated it as is. I hope Indonesian readers, upon reading about Rod of Gram and other things, would be intrigued enough to at least Google some information about British culture and folk tales.

Vanadian Avenue:  Every reader (and every translator!) has a favourite character. Whose team are you on: Belladonna’s, Steve’s or maybe Doctor Ashe’s?

Primadonna Angela: Actually, I am Team Elsie. She might seem annoying and too perky, but I find her refreshing. You can say that perhaps I see a part of myself in her.

Vanadian Avenue: “Spellbinder” is the first book in Belladonna Johnson Adventure series. The second book is entitled “Midnight Gate” and Helen Stringer just recently started writing a third one. If the Indonesian edition proves to be successful, are you willing to translate others installments as well?

Primadonna Angela: Yes, of course. It would be fun to immerse myself in Belladonna’s universe again and again.

Vanadian Avenue: You are a popular writer yourself! Your official Good Reads profile mentions that you have published many young adult and girls novels to critical acclaim. Are your books available in English?

Primadonna Angela: Unfortunately, no. All of my stories are in Indonesian. However, I did put two or three English short stories in one of my short story collection.

"Pojok Lavender", published on April 22nd 2013.  Welcome to the Lavender Cafe! The best place in town for a hot chocolate, a slice of cake, new friendships, quarrels, heartbreak and romance.  Rosemary, Lavender, Cinnamon and Cherry - four young women, four stories, four lives entwined and one place, the Lavender Cafe.  Order your copy here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17623169-pojok-lavender

“Pojok Lavender”, published on April 22nd 2013. Welcome to the Lavender Cafe! The best place in town for a hot chocolate, a slice of cake, new friendships, quarrels, heartbreak and romance. Rosemary, Lavender, Cinnamon and Cherry – four young women, four stories, four lives entwined in a single place, the Lavender Cafe. Order your copy here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17623169-pojok-lavender

Vanadian Avenue: First love, compassion, fighting against the odds and finding one’s way in the world are recurring themes in your books. Where do you find inspiration for your novels?

Primadonna Angela: This might sound cliché, but it’s true. Inspirations might come from anything. And also from my own (and my friends’) personal struggles. Sometimes I had this dream and I wrote it down. Then once or twice I overheard a conversation that piqued my interest. Maybe I read a book or some news, and I thought, hey, what if… supposing this happened like that, what would happen? See, when you’re a writer, you develop this habit of filtering whatever you hear/taste/feel/see/smell into into ideas for your stories. I am lucky because I have a very trustworthy idea/writing buddy. His name is isman h. suryaman (he prefers his name to be written this way, like e.e. cummings) and he is my partner in life. He is also a writer and whenever we banter and exchange words, I am bound to get an inspiration or two. A bit about my reason to write. I was not a popular teenager. I considered myself a bit reclusive and melancholic. I had a difficult time growing up. I was different. When you are a teen, I guess you have this need to conform and be a part of the group. I never felt that I belonged anywhere. Books became my consolation. I read to escape, and to heal myself. I became a better person, more relaxed and fun, because of books. I believe in the cycle of life. I took, now is my turn to give. By writing for teenagers and young adults, I hope to humor and instill hope to them. This is just a phase, reach your dreams when you can, and believe me, things will be better if you strive for better future.

"Dunia Aradia", second edition. First Published in 2009 and published again on  May 26th 2014 by Grasindo. You can order copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Aradia-Indonesian-Edition-Primadonna-Angela/dp/602251519X

“Dunia Aradia”, second edition. First Published in 2009 and re-published again on May 26th 2014 by Grasindo. You can order copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Aradia-Indonesian-Edition-Primadonna-Angela/dp/602251519X

"Dunia Aradia" back cover. The title can be translated as  "Aradia's World".  This is a tale of a modern day witch who tries to maintain two separate lives: the one among humans where she works as a translator and the supernatural one as the Queen of the Witches. Soon she will have to make an ultimate sacrifice, but is she ready to do it?

“Dunia Aradia” back cover. The title can be translated as “Aradia’s World”. This is a tale of a modern day witch who tries to maintain two separate lives: the one among humans where she works as a translator and the supernatural one as the Queen of the Witches. Soon she will have to make an ultimate sacrifice, but is she ready to do it?

Vanadian Avenue: Indonesian book market seems to be huge. Internet groups dedicated to new releases have thousands of members yet only few Indonesian novels are available to Europeans readers. Can you name any authors that we should be on the look out for? What books in your opinions should be translated into English?

Primadonna Angela: I recommend reading books written by Ahmad Tohari. He writes about regular Indonesians and their dilemmas. His works are rich in local flavor. I believe Agustinus Wibowo’s books should be translated into English. He writes about his experiences abroad, in remote and difficult places like Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan. His books are about journey and self-discovery.

Vanadian Avenue: Any plans for the future? What are you working on now? Is there anything you’d like to tell your new European fans?

Primadonna Angela: My plan is to write more manuscripts! I have been planning to write books for children and perhaps a recipe book or two, but they are long-term projects. Right now, I am revising my newest manuscript (a fiction about friendship between an Indonesian and a Japanese), writing another book (marketed for adults), translating a book, editing a YA fantasy book, and reading proof for a YA fantasy book. I hope one day I’ll be able to write a book that European readers will enjoy!

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you very, very much for answering all those questions!

Primadonna Angela: Thank you as well 🙂

"QuertyPita" published in 2007, 2012 and recently on 15th of May 2014.  Two worlds collide: Querty is a world famous musician who wishes he was poor. Pita is a struggling young artist and she wishes to be rich. One fateful day to fall in love and a whole world of music and problems! Based on a real story (Donna's parents!)   Order your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Query-Pita-Indonesian-Primadonna-Angela/dp/979223392X

“QuertyPita” first published in 2007, 2012 and recently re-published on 15th of May 2014. Two worlds collide: Querty is a world famous musician who wishes he was poor. Pita is a struggling young artist and she wishes to be rich. One fateful day to fall in love and a whole world of music and problems! Based on a true story (Donna’s parents!) Order your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Query-Pita-Indonesian-Primadonna-Angela/dp/979223392X

 

Useful links:

Helen:

Official site: http://helenstringer.net/site.html
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/hcstringer
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoQSE7pU1jrLmn93L1L8Smg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hcstringer
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Helen-Stringer/e/B001JSFBY2
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1463193.Helen_Stringer

Primadonna:

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/primadonnaangela
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinnamoncherry
Official Twitter fan-club (aka “Angeliers”): https://twitter.com/angeliers_id 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/621891.Primadonna_Angela
Wikipedia entry (in Indonesian): http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primadonna_Angela
Donna’s official blog (in English): http://vervain.blogspot.co.uk/
Primadonna on Amazon! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Primadonna-Angela/e/B00J7TEK92

Writing is a family affair! Please also check out Donna’s partner, Isman H. Suryaman:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/600538.Isman_H__Suryaman
Official blog: http://the-fool-found-a.blogspot.co.uk/
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/ismanhs

Gramedia Pustaka Utama (Publisher):

Official website: http://www.gramediapustakautama.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Gramedia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GramediaPublisher
Spellbinder on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Gramedia/status/454177723577942016

Rita and Mal would like to thank to Gramedia Pustaka Utama for their support and assistance.
We would also like to thank Helen Stringer for her continuous hard work, and of course the lovely Primadonna Angela, the main heroine of this article – without you nothing of this would be possible.

If you’d like to contact Helen of Primadonna, please send us an email  to rdabrowicz@yahoo.com and we will pass all questions, inquiries, fan-mail and everything else to both wonderful ladies.

Have a good weekend folks,

Selamat tinggal!
xxx
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

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!

XXXOOOO Val

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

Important links:
https://www.facebook.com/valerie.kaye.33 – Val’s official Facebook page
https://www.instagram.com/dollyofthevals/ – Val on Instagram
https://www.facebook.com/PistArmy/ – fan page on Facebook
www.pistonline.com/pistarmy – a fan website dedicated to Pist.On
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pist.On – Wikipedia entry for the band

Thank you so much for reading!

The PDF version of this interview can be seen here:
https://cocamidemea.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/val_interview.pdf

The Issuu version can be found here:
http://issuu.com/vanadianavenue/docs/val_interview

First publication of this interview was posted on Pistarmy website several years ago and still can be seen there:
http://www.pistonline.com/articles/rita/

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.

https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-val-get-her-car-back

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
Mal+Rita

 

****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.

https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-val-get-her-car-back

“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
Mal+Rita

 

****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.

https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-val-get-her-car-back

xxxooo`s
Mal+Rita