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01/09/2007 – Interview with TOURETTES

We're now three weeks later since Meadow Fest. Last week I uploaded the report. This time I managed to work on the interview I had with TOURETTES frontwoman Michele Madden. The interview with Nige and Sy from ONSLAUGHT will follow asap. Such things take time and can't be on this 24/24. Anyhow, the chat was very pleasant and funny at times. The band's performance was top notch, as you could read in my report and the new songs will surely top what the band did on their last album, "Sick Sense".

I didn't have much time for the interview, so I tried a mix of questions, while also fishing for info on the upcoming album, "Treason Songs", due for release in November. You can expect a review when I get my promo copy. What I've heard so far sounds really promising, but let's wait for the final release version. In the meantime, happy reading.

Tourettes logo

The new album is a change in style. "Sick Sense" was more like...

You can hear the seeds in it of "Sick Sense", if you listen close enough. There are some mixed reactions to "Sick Sense". Good! It made people think. I'd rather people think than not. You like it, you like it. If you don't, you don't. I really don't give a shit. I've got the best job in the world.. But yeah, the new album is just complete fuck off, fuck you, fuck you if you doubted me, fuck you if you don't think I'm going to war, I'm coming back, I'm taking your children, I'm burning down your house and I'm killing you pets.

Abandoned bandThat's a very nice and positive message you're trying to spread. ;-)

Thank you. :-)

I love you all, hahaha.

That's Ozzy Osbourne, that's his line. My line is war, all the time.

Those are also the subjects you're using for the lyrics?

To a degree, absolutely. I've been thinking about it a lot and I've probably been writing the same song for ten years, and you just try to get it to the most perfect point. Because if you're always gonna be you, you always gonna care about what you care about. Some things fade away, some things... you know, she gets louder, she gets softer. But I honestly think I've been trying to get it right. Who knows what I write about? I wrote a song about John Holmes, a porn star, on this next album. *laughs*

That wasn't due to lack of inspiration or something like that?

Nonono, it was actually... I have a fascination with crime, and I also got a song about Karen Greenly, and a testimony about Charles Whitman, the Texas killer, the sniper. Great shot. It actually came on from when I was living in LA, the time before last. I was hanging out at a friend's place upon Wonderland Avenue, which is on the Sunset Strip. I had some really weird dreams that night and I had also been reading Danny Sugerman's "Wonderland Avenue". Turns out this was where John Holmes orchestrated the Wonderland murders or so they say. I'm sitting in a friend's club that night, watching some girls dance. I love going to strip clubs, hanging out, because you get to watch people. Really bad bars, strip clubs, always my favourite things. You get to watch humanity at its most base level. I write a lot. So I'm sitting there and thinking "What would John have thought when he went to the FBI for protection?" and the first line that came to me was "there are people in the canyon who want me dead, Hollywood has soaked me down the river" and that was it, the whole song, *bam*. There's something different. I never explain myself to anyone. ;-)

Good, good. :-) But musically you're going more towards Melodic Death Metal or ...

Musically the boys are becoming more... after ten years of ending in circles and circles... when I first met Ashley, he's been a guitar player... I'm backed up by 60 (16?) years of conservatorium training. Those guys are motherfuckers of musicians. I'm an 8th grader who yells a lot, these guys are a machine. And I remember when I met Ashley he was so fed up with being a 'guitarist' guitarist - I'll never play another solo, fuck solos, I wanna do something completely different, ... - so I caught him at that end of the spectrum. He did the jump to I-don't-fucking-wanna-know-about-it to meeting me and I was "this is MESHUGGAH, this is MACHINE HEAD, this is CANNIBAL CORPSE, this is all the shit I love. What do you think?". It's taken 4 albums to get back around and then coming to this space as players, it's like "Fuck it. Yeah, we can do this." And so they progressed on and on and on. This is what it is and I'm so into 'pokka' with them now. So happy with it. They're my favourite band. I turn op to rehearsal just so I can sit outside and listen to them.

Are you defining the style per album or are you going to continue ....?

Sure. I think it'll step up from here, it still has got a big southern swing in it, which is very very important to me. We call them "cookie monster". You can always get the "trr" and the "wawawa" (shrieky little voice). Any dickhead with a four-track can do this. With us, it's serious training. Ross used to play in a band with ten huge black guys, doing BOB MARLEY covers. That's fantastic. Michael is one of the most deploited jazz-drummers in Australia. He's been nominated for arias, Ahsley's work put every fucking local euro and band in the country. So for all these guys to bring together all of this, is still amazing. and that's what keeps the swing in it, that's what keeps the heart in it. And the fact that you can understand I'm saying, I was always very animate about that. I love PANTERA and I love DOWN and I love the fact you can understand what Philip is saying, still kicking you in the balls. That was a huge influence on me. that's what I'm trying to bring. I don't wanna be a cookie monster, always with 2 hands around the mic "I really can't sing, I really can't sing. Thank you. Good night."

*laughter* We just had that with CYPHER, hahaha.

I didn't hear that. ;-)

But they're good, seriously. But it was just a bit too loud.

Honey, if it's getting too loud, you're getting too old. (funny moment with yes and no's, u-uhs, a-ahs :-))

About the deal with Armageddon: how's it going so far?

Really good. They let us do what we want. It's a really good place to develop. I'm very happy about it. You were talking about the old school stuff in the beginning... well, we were trying to do the IRON MAIDEN thing: tour, tour, tour, one album a year, just keep pushing and pushing. They're really good to us. It's so small and just like a family. I can ring up Thomas (the Managing Director - Tim) and say "Hi Tomas, how are you? What's going on? You wanna go and get something to eat if you're in town?" And then they make you feel small.

If you're in town?

Yeah, 'cause we live in hamburg.

Oh, right. If it would've been Australia...

We live 7-8 months in a year in hamburg. I love it there, it's great. I've got a lot of my favourite prostitutes over there. I run, in and around the region and then the girls are like "Are we platinum yet, Michele?". I then say "I'm working on it." They're really awesome, they're great.

Speaking of your voice: every had any vocal problems?


None whatsoever?

No. Ooh, I gave up smoking five years ago. I was a very heayv smoker, so this...

I kind of thought so, because your voice still sounds very rough.

Actually it's a lot better now. I got another octave when I quit smoking, that's when I got my low end. For real. And the guys and I were like "What the fuck?? We've done it, lads, we got it, we got the secret weapon." So that was the best thing I could have done.

Any way you keep your voice in shape, with all the screaming and growling...?

No, not really. I drink a lot of tea.. eh.. it's so funny. You're asking me all these questions and honestly.. look, sometimes when we're jamming I'll hit a note and we all look at each other and go "What the fuck was that?". I don't know how it works, but I know how to work it now. I didn't for a lot of years, I just blew it out a lot, I sang a lot higher. I don't talk in the band. I have my discipline. When I'm writing or reading, they always give me the back seats. We can be in the band and not talk for hours and hours. I don't know. *giggles*

Abandoned bandYou're not classically trained or didn't see a vocal coach?

No, no. How weird is that?

You don't feel the need to?

No, no...I.. no. I don't know they would make of me. They'd be like "Oh my God..."

"So you sing?"

"Yeah." *laughs*

Idol 2008 ;-). You changed the name back from TOURETTES SYNDROME to TOURETTES. Was it to introduce a new chapter or because it was better back then?

We've been known as TOURETTES in Australia forever. We got to Europe and there was another band called TOURETTES. So we found them and killed them and we got our name back. *serious face*

Oookaayy, yeah... :p *laughter again*

Actually they changed their name. We built up such a strong following as TOURETTES and it was really hard for a lot of the sikfuks out there. When we went back home in Australia - and our tribe is big and strong - they said: "Wtf is this?". We told them it was the lesser of many evils. We get what we wanted. And they were ok with that, because there are a lot of TOURETTES tattoos out there and they (the tribe, not the tattoos ;-) - Tim) were all worried.

But there are many bands who have the same name.

Yeah, but he who makes it to the top of the pile with the name, wins the crown. If anyone's got a problem with it, meet me in the parking lot and we'll fight for it. I don't give a shit.

--- almost time for Michele and co. to get ready ---

You made a couple of videos last year. How was that? Did you have full control of what, when, where, how?

We had full control to do the "Gear" video, because we wrote that, produced it, did it all ourselves. Rod Stewart was my bright idea. God knows what I was thinking. I was watching far too much pronography and really into manga. I was like "Yeah yeah yeah, let's do Manga porn." and the rest was like "Oh God, Michele...". But that was pretty cool. It came out good.

Any plans for a video from the new album?

Definitely. We've got to work out what we're gonna do.

Thrash You coverSpeaking of cover art: I just saw the cover on your myspace. is it the band or just a couple of people being trapped in a spider web thingy? and what's the thought behind it?

It's us, yes. It was sort of a hommage to a lot of my favourite Death Metal bands, and the fact that we're all hanging there is we're a bunch of criminals and that's what they used to do to criminals in Australia. That's why it's "Treason Songs".

Aaah, ok. :-) (mutual understanding) So cover art is very important for you?

Yes, absolutely. The whole thing is important. Your job, it's what you do. If you're working hard, you're putting yourself forward.

Wacken was great, so I've read. did you see an impact on cd sales?

Yes, it was like going for the Holy Grail. We're from Australia and you guys don't really understand the tyranny of distance. Living in Europe, you really don't. We are a country, the size of America, with maybe 20 million people living around the edge and some in the middle. We're 21 hours away from the rest of the world. If you wanna get out of there, that's 3500 Dollars on a plane ticket. Bands fail all the time. No one gets out.For us to play at Wacken, which is the holy Grail of Metal and then to get signed to Armageddon...

Since Armageddon has a foot in Wacken...

Yeah, so the whole thing.

That was one of the reasons why you signed with them, wasn't it? ;-)

No. I didn't actually know it was all tied in until much later in the game - "Ooh, that could be good.". I was so clueless.

What do you think of the other Australian bands? and then I'm referring to the more melodic ones like BLACK MAJESTY, VANISHING POINT, ...

They're good, but not exactly my cup of tea. I'll give you a rundown of my favourite Australian bands right now:

BLOOD DUSTER - "Lyden Na": you can get it through Relapse. also their self-titled album, fucking phenomenal.
Greatest Doom band in Australia, bar none, is POD PEOPLE. They're out on High Beam Records and their album is called "Doom Saloon".
Anything that THE ANGELS do, from the old days, or ROSE TATTTOO, fucking phenomenal... I'm getting told to get ready.

Ok, last question: self-criticism?

I'm never gonna be good enough, it's never gonna be loud enough, I can't go hard enough, ... look in my eyes, tell me if I'm lying? That's what I've been living every day and it won't stop.

And regarding TOURETTES?

We're too good. Self-criticism involving musical..?

Yeah, like "You can do that riff better" and things like that.

We all push ourselves hard enough. There's enough in the mix to keep pushing ourselves hard enough.

--- At this point my time was up and the band had to get ready for their performance ---

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