I first got to known Patrick Ogle and his group Thanatos through Projekt Records. Not only had Sam Rosenthal’s pioneering dark music label released his music, but Ogle worked doing publicity for the label when it relocated from Los Angeles to Chicago. (The two originally met when they both lived in Florida.) Combining elements of Goth, folk and rock, the first Thanatos CD This Endless Night Inside (1993) possessed a haunting, lyrical quality on tunes like “Moon Of Dying Grass,” “My Love Is Death” and “Entangled: Our Bodies”. Rosenthal contributed lyrics early on. As time passed, Ogle released two more albums and an EP. While An Embassy To Gaius (1995) continued the direction of the first album, the Neighbor Of The Beast EP (1996) and Blisters album (1997) offered many moments that were edgier, more electric and harder, thanks in part the contributions of Pigface/Ministry guitarist William Tucker. Some have noted how he also brings his sense of humor to his dark ruminations. (Hey, he unleashed a minimalist vocal and drums cover of Body Count’s punk-ish “Cop Killer” on the second Thanatos album. Bet you didn’t see that coming.)
Ogle recently got back to making music with last year’s Thanatos release The Exterminating Angel, and he is also doing a 20th anniversary acoustic gig for his debut album This Endless Night Inside this Friday, Sept. 27th at Spectrum at 121 Ludlow Street in New York City. He’s the middle act in a show that starts at 8 PM. Check it out. Also, in celebration of the celebration, fans can download the album for free at Projekt’s Band Camp until Monday.
None of those bands really considered themselves Goth, but so what? You sort of are what people decide you are, and I appreciated the fact that so many Goths were into Thanatos back then. (I’m not so sure about now!) Projekt was instrumental in one extremely important way: they put out my music. If Sam hadn’t done that? The albums Embassy to Gaius and Blisters would have never come out. I am not one of those “I make music for myself in the basement” guys. I make it for people to hear, and if Projekt hadn’t agreed to put out my music, there simply wouldn’t have been any music.
I saw you play live at Projekt Fest ’96 with the late guitarist William Tucker, who was your major collaborator on Blisters. What are your best memories of him, and how did he help Thanatos mature musically?
Well, he played everything on the Blisters record and really changed the sound from the lo-fi-ness of the first two records. I am not sure “mature” is the right word, but it certainly changed. I think we retained some of his vibe on the Illegal Teenage Bikini record [I Am Not Job]. There are so, so many Tucker stories. We used to play a cover of [Swans’] “God Damn the Sun”. Then, when he was on tour with Foetus, a wasted Michael Gira came on their tour bus and broke their CD player. He would never play that song again. So naturally I would play it as an “encore” every night to piss him off. He was a very funny, irascible guy. It’s been years, and I still miss him. Keep in mind, he could be a pain in the ass too.
What is the most personal Thanatos song for you and why?
My lyrics are often less personal, more obscure than Sam’s were — he only wrote words on Endless Night Inside. But there is one on Exterminating Angel, “Why Did You Leave Me Alone,” about my father. Others that are very personal are “What Happens Next” on Endless Night and “Collins & Something” on Embassy to Gaius. Those are both about the same woman!
Your 20th anniversary acoustic gig is taking you back to the stripped down sounds of your early days. Are there any specific songs you plan to play from your first album?
I am playing all the songs on that record that I can do a decent version of. Some just are not acoustic songs — too many effected keyboards or they are based on bass lines or lead guitar riffs. So no “Tel Meggido” or “Cobra School of Happiness”. I am going to try to play “My Love is Death,” which I have never played live but, even now a few days away, I am not thrilled with how it sounds!
I would note I am playing in the middle. Binary Partners out of Chicago play first, then me, then Niabi, a wonderful shoegazey artist out of NYC, plays last.
I enjoyed recording at Sam’s old studio in Eagle Rock [in Los Angeles]. That was fun. I also loved the early tours. We only really did three, but those were always a lot of fun. I am still in touch with people I met on those tours. It is a great feeling to find people who know and like your music. I appreciate that more now, perhaps, than I did then.
We once did an interview for Request magazine about crazy tour stories, and you recalled Tucker finding an art farm under his motel pillow one night as well as seeing a human head on the side of the road. Any other funny or bizarre tour recollections that you can recall?
It was a chopped off human arm, and there was a Florida state trooper holding a flashlight on it. Even though it was in the middle of nowhere, a crowd had gathered. It was very strange. Lord, we saw so many horrific car accidents! That happens if you drive around enough, I suppose. Most of the crazy stories just don’t translate or reflect poorly on me, so I am not telling them!
The Exterminating Angel album arrived last year. Why did it take so long, and are you planning to create more Thanatos music soon?
That record just took a very long time. It came after I had a serious hand injury. The first three songs were recorded with Ashkelon Sain of Trance to the Sun in Santa Barbara in 2001. I wasn’t happy with what I was writing, I didn’t feel like recording and then once it was done it sat there for two years after I asked Sam to not release it on Projekt.
As for new music? I have floated the notion of doing something [perhaps] limited and crowd funded. But let’s see how I feel about that in a month, or if I write any new songs. I haven’t written a new song in at least seven years. I have an idea for a record called Coyote in the Graveyard which I have words for. If I start writing, if the show in NYC goes well, maybe I will be in the mood for doing something.
The site is about culture, mostly music and art. I have been at that for over three years. We just did our first art show, Constantly Consuming Culture, here in Chicago, and I am planning another one in Miami to show Chicago artists down there. Following that, I plan to bring some Miami artists here to show. Money raising is the trick. The site has a lot of small newsy stuff, and I may move in a direction of more interviews with artists, but finding the time to do that is the trick there!