Music News

Skinny Puppy Bites Back

When industrial rock gods Skinny Puppy play the Marquee Theatre on Tuesday, there is only one thing that audience members can truly count on: fucking insanity. The band, which has regularly reinvented itself since its formation in the early '80s, built its reputation by bringing nightmares to reality. Using elaborate costumes, stilts, suspensions, mock executions and an ocean of blood, frontman Nivek Ogre created a world-renowned legacy to back the band's brand of harsh, horror-infused experimental music. Ogre took time to explain his artistic vision and the direction of his band's current tour, just moments before Skinny Puppy's headlining set at Convergence 13, one of North America's largest gothic music festivals.

New Times: When you go onstage fronting Skinny Puppy, what are you trying to convey to the audience?

Nivek Ogre: My innermost fears. My innermost pain. My concerns about my environment. My concerns about what's around me. [I am] basically being in as much of a state of "now" as I possibly can. What I am as a performer, what I've always been, is someone who unfortunately feels spontaneity more than planning.

NT: It sounds like you really just seize the moment.

Ogre: Absolutely. I've always believed in a gratuitous moment. I've always believed in never having too much planned. I would prefer to create broad strokes and broad boundaries from which I can work within. Whether it's playing off the audience or playing off what the audience reacts to or off the band or what our video guy is doing. There are open, broad strokes, but the theme or where it's going or where it ends hasn't really been determined. Justin, our drummer, said it best: "The monster has begun. The monster has begun to grow, so we'll see where it goes."

NT: Has the monster ever consumed you?

Ogre: (Laughs) Obviously. If you know anything about my past, then yes, the monster has consumed me a number of times with self-destructive behavior in general, including drug use, of course. It's not like it's easy for me to lose track. It's just easy for me to run down those paths of self destruction again. I'll be the first one to do three times more to myself than anybody could ever do to me.

NT: Does this tour have a unifying theme?

Ogre: [It does] in the sense of personal demons. [I play] a bit more of a fragile, withdrawn character, someone who has been pursued, hunted, and attacked on certain levels. It's kind of going back in a lot of ways to my original character from when I started this band.

NT: You mean a "skinny puppy" in the literal sense?

Ogre: To a certain degree, yeah, definitely — but kind of a victimized animal that's old now and that pokes back. Sometimes, though, things poke back at [the character] even harder. It's a different version of a character that maybe lost a bit in the translation of where the band went, or where those 25 years went, but that is still just pretty much part of my soul.

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Daniel Raven