Amatory murder shot into our mailbox not too long ago with a name that instantly intrigued and images that provoked all of us at Subversify in different ways. Their sound can best be described as eclectic. It evokes memories from the 80’s Mod movement, some Manchester sounds, but Amatory Murder has something all its own.
When asked about their penchant for electronically created music the band admitted to being influenced mostly by mainstream name-brand musicians; like Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Eno, David Bowie…even guys like Dr. Dre and Eminem, whom they readily acknowledge have really done some amazing things with technology within their respective genres
However they see a gap where now, due to technology, electronic music not only makes good sense it makes for good music. Says Christian, “I think technology has afforded musicians opportunities to do things that were once out of reach. Back in the day if you were a rocker that wanted to make a record but didn’t have a drummer or didn’t even a band your options were severely limited. Today, there are ways to remedy that. In our case with A Different Frequency for example, our lack of a steady drummer forced us to experiment with different ways of making music.
“I think a lot of people in my generation are indeed influenced by the industrial and dance genre of the late 80’s and early 90’s, but not everyone is intentionally trying to be nostalgic. I’ve always been drawn to computers and synthesizers. I’m infinitely in awe of how CPU-created sounds can convey human emotion; really get you to feel something. I like to think that in our case we sort of cross genres and are contributing to a new sound entirely with the help of synthesizers. I also think that yes, there is a sort of ‘revival’ going on, but there has yet to be that big explosion of mind-blowing bands doing something different for the history books. When that explosion does happen, I know we’ll be a part of it.”
Drakos agrees. “Yeah, the electronic sound was phased out from rock music around the late 90’s which is a shame, since some really cool music came out of that era. We’re somewhat of a hybrid of both genres.”
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, they are right in the middle of a growing burst of musical light coming from the city that never sleeps. In fact the impressive sounds coming out of New York have most music lovers on the edge of their seats waiting to see what develops, hoping something will come along and replace the sludge being sold to us by the mainstream.
The band mates, Marios Drakos and Christian Peppas came together through a Craig’s list ad posted by Christian. Before the ad, a revolving door of musicians walked through but never settled in. Christian recalls meeting Marios for the first time stating, “I’ll never forget the day he showed up. A warm breeze blew into the studio, followed by a bright—yet somehow soothing—ray of light shining through the window. All of a sudden, the door burst open and in came a Greek god riding on his stallion blasting Rammstein on his iPod. Yes, the stallion came equipped with an iPod.”
Marios remembers things a little differently stating: “You forgot the dual-jets and the sweet chrome finish. After I joined the band I remember for a summer we held sooooo many auditions for drummers and keyboard players, it became a joke at some point. And we’ve seen it all, but by the time this interview is published we could have yet another line-up. That’s just the way it seems to go a lot of the time.
“Anyhow, the thing I like about this band and what draws us together, is that our tastes, musical backgrounds and previous projects are radically different, but we all have some common influences, which in turn create that eclectic sound you get on our album. Each other’s music is different but when we clash we get that Amatory Murder music that our fans love.”
Amatory Murder in interview projects a playfulness that comes through in their music. When asked where they grew up, Marios was quick to let us know he was born on the planet Mars, raised in Athens Greece and plays with himself. He flushes out his down time with rhythm guitar. He goes on to explain that he started playing music when he was 15 years old. His inspiration?
“I wanted to learn the intros to popular 80’s Japanese and American Saturday morning Cartoons such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Saber Rider and Duck-Tales, among others. Then I discovered Rust In Peace by Megadeth and it changed me forever. “
Christian, singer and unofficial songwriter for The Amatory Murder, however had a more or less earthly upbringing. “I was born and raised in Flushing, Queens. I grew up listening to bands like The Beatles—I was very obsessed with John Lennon and the dynamic he brought into the group. It wasn’t until I started seeing live music (bands like Oasis and U2) that I came to the realization I could probably write my own songs; it wasn’t just reserved for guys like The Beatles (or exclusively for rock stars for that matter). Then when I got into Nine Inch Nails and really listened to John Lennon’s solo work (the songs that weren’t the “hits”) the whole game changed for me. Music didn’t have to always be so happy and bubbly. NIN opened the world of industrial music and synthesizers for me; and both NIN & John Lennon showed me how to channel pain and anger into music. From then on, I knew I wanted to make music my life.”
Then there’s O.T. (lead guitarist) whom Christian met when he was looking to play live shows for a former project he had going on, about 3 or 4 years ago. The Amatory Murder as a whole though, has only really been together for less than two years. Lineup changes, there are always lineup changes.
However there has been the mention of celebratory Peach Schnapps at the two year anniversary. Honestly, we don’t know what to think of that. Schnapps generally kick you in the ass, which leaves us wondering, are they cheering the future or trying to forget all those auditions?
Amatory Murder, a provocative name for a group. It grabs the attention and when first heard it makes one run a gambit of emotions. Murder of course stands out, but the Amatory bit conjures up a gentle kiss into the great goodnight. When asked if that was the intention, Christian and Marios found the idea interesting but explained their original thoughts.
“’Amatory’” Christian answers, “Is an old-time word for romance as well as war. Many of our songs have been about the dark side of relationships: the struggles, battles and so on. The war within. The logo on our t-shirts, flyers, website, etc is reminiscent of ‘El Dia De Los Muertos’. She’s sexy, full of romance―but also deadly. It’s sort of like the “death of romance”. It’s twisted, and I don’t think we’d want it any other way. Especially Drakos. That man is sick in the head”.
Always the provocateurs, their latest album cover includes nuns holding semi-automatic rifles and knives at the execution style band members’ heads. While Grainne immediately thought “Oh yes, of course. Sisters of Mercy.” (Which probably reveals more about Grainne) Christian had something else in mind.
He explains, “We decided to have press photos of us being executed by nuns taken to get people thinking. I personally believe there is a wealth of hypocrisy in religion―today more than ever. I was raised Catholic. I don’t know anyone who is a good Christian by the standards of the bible. It’s humanly impossible.
“Islam is no worse than Christianity. They’re both religions of extreme judgment, exclusion and hate. Today, most Christians pick and choose which parts of the bible they believe in. They’re not the Christians of the Crusades or the Holocaust. But there is a majority who feel they have the right to dictate to others how to live their lives. We see that every day with civil liberties (gay and women’s rights) and censorship. The United States is engaged in war with Muslim nations. There are many factors to this: 9/11, our involvement with Israel (a nation identified by yet another religion), oil, sanctions, etc. At the end of the day it’s religious ideology. Such is the history of mankind. As an American, I have become accustomed to seeing videos and photos of our brave troops―in hostage situations–released by Jihadist groups like Al Queda airing on cable news and the internet. Many times, I hear the talking heads with the same reaction, “See what they do over there? Islam is a religion of hate.” Well yeah, it can be, but so can Christianity, Judaism…They ALL condone execution. Followers of those texts have acted on them throughout history. The Amatory Murder took the photos as reminders. I’m all for people turning to their faith in times of trouble or for comfort, but don’t push those beliefs on others. I love my country; The United States is supposed to be ‘Land Of The Free” for EVERYONE, not just a selection of people. And we certainly shouldn’t be pretending there aren’t any hateful ideologues living here.”
New York and her surrounding boroughs are awash in creativity. This is a very fertile time in art. People are expressing their dreams and hopes as well as disappointment and disgust through this music. Music has been at every Occupy came. Music can be heard wafting from pubs and bars where you may not expect music to be. But we wondered are musicians and artists supportive to one another? Has the gentrification of certain areas made it harder to live as a musician?
Christian explains his experience: “First, let me say this: I love New York. I am so fortunate to be born and raised here. But I think people outside of New York have this big misconception. We know so many bands and musicians from all over the world who come to this city thinking “this is it!” The truth is, there’s over-saturation of media in this country and New York is the center of it. It’s very hard to even make a dent.
“I absolutely love that I’m able to channel thoughts and feelings into music, lyrics; but to really “make it” you have to work extra hard. The industry is extremely different than it once was. You need to be willing and able to invest money in the hopes of someday being able to “make a living” off of what you love to do. That means you need to have some kind of income, or a day job (I am a freelance graphic designer, which does come in handy for our merch stuff). At the same time, you have to be willing to treat your music career as several jobs: the band, the management, the booking/agent, the PR guy, etc—plus your day job. It’s a Catch-22. Even rehearsals! Most bands have to rent out rehearsal spaces, because the other thing that’s different in New York City is that you usually don’t have a garage or basement to practice in. Lucky for us, the studio we rehearse in has ultra chill landlords who are also [amazing] musicians, so they’re right there with us. Because of that, we are also fortunate enough to be surrounded by a great community of talented artists–we’re never in a position of NOT being able to have a great show to go to; many times happening at different places on the same night.
“It’s just a drag sometimes, because you’re expected to invest money if you want to go anywhere. Lucky for Drakos, he also has that “Exotic Sperm Bank” thing that he does on the side. Something to do with semen and gyros, I think.
“The constant “changing of lineups” that many bands (including ours) experience is a bit of a pain. People come and go in this band. Many musicians in New York are notorious for being flakes or just thinking they’re “too good” for your music. It’s extremely frustrating, but recently I watched Back And Fourth which is a documentary about the Foo Fighters. They went through the same thing—and they were already famous! So knowing they struggled with this issue as well as bands like Megadeth and Motorhead makes me know it’s not just us.
“Bands in New York are generally very supportive of each other. Drakos and I try to check out people we know as often as we can, and it’s common that we see bands we know supporting us at our shows. We try to book bands on the same bills with us whenever we have an opportunity, and vice-versa. However, you do have those few bitter apples who try to bring you down a few notches when you start feeling success. Eventually you realize they’re just jealous and don’t matter anyway. Serious musicians who are trying to succeed just as much as you are will always be happy for you because they appreciate all the work it takes and how hard it is to make a dent in this industry. It’s kind of like Art College: you can be intimidated by the artist painting next to you or you can get some pointers from them. At the end of the day, the world is big enough for everyone’s creations.
“So in conclusion—at least in my opinion—a musician’s life in New York City is a constant struggle if you’re trying to make it your career. You just need to believe in what you love doing and *know* that you’ll make it no matter what. But it’s also awesome because there’s a great network of friends and talent. Plus, I have my ginormous library of porn that keeps me happy. All types of beautiful ladies, all types of fetishes; in perfect alphabetical order.”
When asked what they are digging right now, there is no hesitation. Without a doubt this is because so much good music is coming out of New York. But there’s more to life than music, even for musicians. We think it was Saint Fender who said, “Man [woman] cannot live by string, pick and hot lemon-honey tea alone.”
Christian points out, “There is a wealth of talent in New York—starting with the bands we share our studio with. King Killer houses such talent as Consider The Source, The Stink, The Rakehells, Generator Ohm, End And, Tin Vulva, Less Magnetic…I’m sure I’ll remember a bunch of bands after this interview and be kicking myself. Recently we’ve come across two bands we’ve done showcases with: Last Stand For Lucy and The August Infinity. They are absolutely incredible and right on the verge of becoming rock stars. We’re glad to know them and have ’em on our iPods. They’re really nice guys.”
He adds, “I think the most promising sound in music is honest songwriting. I was thinking recently about Adele. Now, her record that came out is good—in fact, it’s better than 95% of the stuff on mainstream radio. But is that album really as amazing and life-changing as many people in the mainstream say it is? In my opinion, not really. But it’s honest and a throwback to a time in music when songwriting was a craft that was well-thought out, when people actually had to play their instruments and knew how to sing. When people cared about musicianship. And I think our generation is so used to hearing music that’s over-saturated and written by a team of producers just to make a “hit”; they’re not used to hearing just good, honest pop music. The new Foo Fighters album is great too, but again, they’re also kind of a throw-back at this point—listed in the “Classic Rock” genre.
“I think as far as mainstream music goes, if we had more Adeles out there the industry (in terms of quality) would be in better shape. At the same time, come down to King Killer Studios (The Amatory Murder’s rehearsal space in New York) and hear some of the best music from some great bands you’ve never heard of. Listen to The Stink, Consider The Source…Those are the types of musicians I hope the main-steam will eventually come back to paying attention to. “
Marios, is an architect by day. “I’m also a ginormous nerd: anime, science, comic books, and the whole nine yards. Think of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory but more manly and handsome. I used to do a lot of animation too, although I haven’t done much lately. I’d like to do more soon. And a shit-load of sketching/drawing, some sculpting, and mostly trying to bring my silly characters in life.”
Also he’s reading. “Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir by Dave Mustaine and The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell by Marilyn Manson are two books I’m really into at the moment.
Christian’s non- musical time is spent on art, his moldy cheese collection, or having hugging marathons with his Justin Bieber blow-up doll, “I like to indulge.” He says.
He’s also a big politics and history junkie, constantly obsessed with the state of our country. He also likes to read, specifically autobiographies. “Well, one fun fact about me is that the thing I spend the most money on besides music and food are books. Another fun fact is that I’ll read like five at the same time. I just finished reading Liberty Defined by Ron Paul and re-reading American Conspiracies by Jesse Ventura. Currently on my nightstand are Just Kids by Patti Smith, Letters to a Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens and I Just Want My Pants Back by David Rosen. I’m re-reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and Getting High: The Adventures Of Oasis by Paolo Hewitt—which is one of my favorite rock biographies to read when I need a reference point.
“I have this weird thing where I like to read the autobiographies of porn stars. In all seriousness, society passes judgment on them from the outside, so I like to hear things from their side; what led them to choose the career they’ve found success in. I also love to cook. I became a vegan almost three years ago, so I’m very into cooking and baking my own food–I like to know what’s in it. And when I’m not doing any of those things, you can find me staring intently through my Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope directly at Drakos’ bedroom window.”
Amatory Murder’s plans for their future are wide open. This summer they will mostly be playing around the tri-state area. However they have big plans for world domination, with stops in Japan and Germany hinted at as well as touring the U.S.
What they are looking forward to is a continued gel. This band while not opposed to signing with a major record label for the backing, would like to keep its integrity and creative direction. Lucky for them, this is entirely do-able nowadays.
Tools like Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp and beyond are putting more power in the hands of musicians and their fans. And that’s what it’s really about, connecting with the fans.
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Catch: The Amatory Murder Presents: The Church Of Murder (Sacrament 1)- Thursday, May 31st @ The Studio at Webster Hall, New York
Tickets can be purchased at http://thestudioatwebsterhall.com/
Also visit them at their website for music/touring info and merchandise: http://www.amatorymurder.com/
Keep up on Facebook @https://www.facebook.com/#!/TheAmatoryMrdr
Follow them on Twitter: @TheAmatoryMrdr
Buy Music @ Bandcamp: http://theamatorymurder.bandcamp.com/