Storm Before the Calm
An Interview with Blood Axis
by Wulfing One
The sound of an army marching in unison fills the brooding autumn air. Distorted guitar and ambient gothic keyboards soon accompany the sound. A deep, somber voice echoes in the distance, and it is obvious that Blood Axis has taken over the airwaves.
Blood Axis is the fascistic rock machine manned by extreme leftist, Michael Moynihan. Far from being a household word, he chooses to remain deep underground in a shroud of utter darkness. But, to a select group of night time wanderers, he has quietly and persistently emerged as a unique figure in the shadow realm of extreme tendencies. As is characteristic of the investigator and experimenter, Michael has always embarked upon the path long before the mainstream herd can tread it. His arsenal is filled
with many weapons, including publishing (under the banner of Storm Productions),
music critic (writing for such magazines as SECONDS, The Fifth Path, and
ESOTERRA, of course), and art.
Thus armed, he has blazed new trails where others dare not follow. In this comprehensive interview with ESOTERRA, Moynihan chronicles past activities, achievements, and experiences with rare humor and singular insight, as well as revealing some of the future projects and plans in his ongoing itenerary.
Could you give us a chronology of your musical involvement over the years?
when I was fourteen years old, I started doing experiments with electronic
equipment. I was fascinated with the idea of electronic instruments, and
I had a small kit with which you could build oscillators and circuits
that basically made white noise or frequency noise. So I started building
those, and little keyboards, and manipulating reel-to-reel tape recorders
at different speeds to make noise collage with tapes - that was the first
music I did.
You began essentially as a musical alchemist?
Yes, but it was real primative - I wouldn't attach any claim of quality to it. I was sitting down in my room in the basement of my parent's house building these things. Around that time I also picked up on the fact that there was other music out there like this, that people actually listened to.
How did you find out about these forms of music?
I simply followed trails to their logical conclusion. I'd hear about one thing and then see a reference to some other music group that would be even more extreme. Not so mush avant-garde or experimental, because I really don't like those terms much, but music which carried certain ideas in it. Around that time I discovered Throbbing Gristle, and I tracked down all of their records. SPK as well, and these were the original industrial bands as far as I was concerned.That was before the disco/danceelements came into it.No one else I knew had any interest in this music. It was all things I found on my own. They would usually get one copy of a Throbbing Gristle LP at a local store, set it aside for me, and I'd go down and get the record. Then I discovered, while
to the radio, a record shop in Boston, which I had never known about,
that supposedly specialized in this type of music. I went over there and
began getting lots of things. The owner of the store turned out to be
the guy who did Sleep Chamber, and I became friends with him. Around that
time I was already doing my own music under the name Coup de Grace, starting
to record cassettes, and he was encouraging me to put the material out
myself. At the time he was releasing tons of cassettes on his record label.
By then I'd gotten a synthesizer and had some keyboards. I used to run
a Casio keyboard through all these homemade effects to distort it. The
original recordings I did were more musical, but they were all electronic.
There was also a lot of noisy stuff, and it was pretty harsh overall in
terms of content. I put out a couple of cassettes that were extremely
limited, but surprisingly they got over to places like Europe, although
I don't even remember at this point how anyone found out about them. They
ended up in the hands of some people called Club Moral in Belgium, who
did a magazine, called Force Mental, which covered art and music. Most
of the music they liked was really extreme electronic stuff along the
lines of Whitehouse, and they printed a small, glowing review of the first
cassette I put out. They sent a copy of a magazine, and I began corresponding
with them, and at a certain point they invited me to come over there to
play a festival that they'd gotten art grants for from the Belgian government.
I agreed, so they set up what turned out to be this small European tour
in the Netherlands and Germany, with the money from the extra concerts
paying for all my expenses. It was five or six shows at different places,
some of which were just factory warehouse halls: one was in an old movie
theater, one was in a nightclub in Rotterdam - different underground venues.
They were very, very small shows, but they went over well. That was where
I first met Willi Stasch and Rose Kasseckert of Cthulhu Records, who subsequently
became more important. After returning to the States I was asked to become
a member of Sleep Chamber, which I did for awhile as a side project, though
I was still much more interested in continuing my own activities.
Sleep Chamber originated in Boston?
The guy was from Boston who started it, John Zewizz. It began as this very weird electronic music that he did pretty much by himself, or with a few friends. At the time Sleep Chamber was a lot different from what it is now. It really had a disturbing quality to it. It was much more confrontational, and was generally hated by all of the rock crowd in Boston. Later it got more and more accessible, and he obsessed on the sex aspect, which was there when we did the stuff, but it hadn't become the S/M fashion show it is now. At the same time I kept doing my stuff, and he was still running his record store. When the store went out of business, he had different electronic groups play there in the final few weeks he was open, so there were a couple of live shows I did there as Coup de Grace. Around that time Thomas Thorn, who does the Electric Hellfire Club, also joined Sleep Chamber. He was an old friend of mine, and came out to Boston and joined the band. For a brief period we were both in the band together, and then there was a big falling out, mainly between him and John. I followed suit and quit the band as well; Thomas and I wanted nothing further to do with it. That was the end of that. I was much more interested in going over and spending time in Belgium, as the Club Moral people invited me to come live there in the same wharehouse where they lived. I built a whole apartment in the upper floor of this empty factory, and it was totally illegal to live there, so I had to lay low. I couldn't work there and i tried to stay out of trouble. The rent was a whopping fifteen dollars a month, which made it worth the risk.
The price was right?
Yes, but I had to do everything from installing the plumbing to wiring the room for electricity. There was no water, no power, nothing. I taught myself all of that. I lived there for a couple of years, off and on. Then, at that time, another musical event occurred. Thomas was doing his own band, Slave State, that he formed when he returned to Wisconsin after he left Sleep Chamber. It was a techno Skinhead band, for lack of a better description. He and I were still in close contact, and he came over to Belgium to visit. He stayed with me for a few weeks, and we decided that we should try to do a Slave State show over there. We did it in the basement of the factory where I lived - there was a secret room that the guy from Club Moral had discovered underneath where their garage was. It was where they parked. He was cutting a hole in the cement floor so that he could work on his car. The saw went right through the floor and he discovered a whole room under there, full of dirt and debris, mostly ancient Chianti wine bottles, thousands of them. We cleaned out this whole space and had the concert in the cellar, which turned out to be a strange event attended by about fifty people. It was extremely dangerous, totally illegal, and a death trap, to boot, with that many people in a place that had only a tiny metal ladder to get out of the hole.
It was really claustrophobic! The concert itself was extremely noisy and fascistic. Quite a few suspicious types showed up, because the propaganda for the show looked incredibly fascist. We were both skinheads at the time. The most amazing part was that nothing bad happened as a result. Club Moral were terrified that the police were going to come and arrest us all for having some strange rally in a dangerous and completely illegal bunker. This hole in the ground. Yes. We drank lots of absinthe before we played. One guy who came from Sweden had the symbol of the band, a lightning bolt inside a triangle, carved into his arm with a carpet knife after the concert because he was so excited by the performance. There were quite a number of interesting repercussions; not long after that, in 1989, I decided that it was impossible to continue living in Belgium because of the illegality of it, and for other personal reasons. And you began to also give up on music as a medium with any great impact? MM: Besides the Slave State thing, I wasn't interested in doing music anymore. I didn't have any musical equipment. At that point I'd gotten rid of whatever minimal stuff I had owned. I wanted to publish books. Around that time is when I started to work on the edition of The Antichrist. That came out at the end of 1988, about a hundred years after it was originally written, which was in 1888. I didn't have the means to make music in terms of how I wanted to do it, and I thought books would have more impact at the time.
What led to your recording music again?
In 1989 after that book had come out, I was still living over in Europe, and, before I made a final move back to America, I decided to go on a trip to all these different places I hadn't seen. I visited the people from Cthulhu Records, in the Rhineland part of Germany, and stayed with them for a few days, and we talked a lot about music. They were encouraging me to do something again. They expressed a desire to put it out and convinced me there would be a lot of people interested in it. I expained to them that I wanted to do certain things with music, but the problem was that I didn't have the means to do it properly. They basically said: "Well, whenever you do manage it, just let us know, and we'll release it." They really inspired me. And this led to the two inclusions you had on "The Lamp of the Invisible Light." MM: Yes, it basically led to Blood Axis. I already had the nascent idea for it, but their enthusiasm convinced me that it was worthwhile to actually do it. Once the seed of the idea was firmly planted in my mind, I knew I would figure out a way to do it in some manner or another. After a final trip through Europe, I moved all my things back to America, and it was right around that time I got in touch with Boyd Rice. I'd known about him for years previous, since 1983 or '84 - actually, I was in England in 1984 and bought his records in London. You couldn't even find them anywhere in America at that point. Later on, he got an invitation to go to Japan and do NON shows there. This was in Osaka? MM: Yes. This was in the spring of 1989. he had recently done a show in August of 1988, exactly when we had done the Slave State show. He'd done a show that was called 8/8/88, as it was held on the eighth of August that year. He did it with Nicholas Schreck and a bunch of other people like Zeena LaVey and Adam Parfrey. Where was that held? MM: San Francisco. I started talking to him right around that time. It was just after we'd done the Slave State show. Both shows were in a sense fascistic performances. In the Slave State show we wore black uniforms, had shaved heads, and played Wagner at volume for an hour before we went on. The show they did in San Francisco had all these people involved, and they tried to make it a rally along fascistic lines. That was another thing we were talking about at the time: how to successfully incorporate those elements in a performance.
On this Japanese tour, who were some of the others involved in the show?
Initially, Boyd had been invited to go over there, and Current 93 was going to play also. The promoter wanted Boyd just to do the noise music where he goes up with a little, black box... And flips on the switches and walks off the stage. They wanted him to just make noise. He told them he wasn't interested in doing that, and he wanted me to come with him. He asked me, and I said, "Sure, if you can arrange it." He insisted to the promoters that I would come as part of NON. the organizers were constantly trying to get him to come only by himself and do some simple thing, because they didn't want to pay for more, but, in the end, they did get us the tickets; and we went over there. The people from Current 93 were all there, which was at the time the people from Death in June, Sol Invictus, and Rose McDowall (ex-Strawberry Switchblade, who does records with Current 93 and Death in June). They were already there, and we had planned out what we wanted to do involving drummers - a militaristic drumming foundation for the show. I figured out the drumming parts, and we had all this regalia which I designed and made. Boyd arranged it so those people would help perform the concerts with us. It ended up being me, Boyd, Rose McDowall, Douglas P., and Tony Wakeford.
That turned into the TOTAL WAR performance?
Yes, that's what it became. We did three shows in Japan which worked out well, especially the last one in Osaka: everything really came together there. Boyd has become something of a legend as a prankster, and I know you're not averse to pranks.
Could you tell us about any pranks and the reactions you received over there in Japan?
Japan was sort of a wonderland for playing practical jokes, because you have this society where every single person has their place: it's all orderly, and every thing is supposed to happen in a certain way. It makes sense to them, but not to you as an outsider! There's nothing really out of line. People don't expect things to be out of line, and it just does not compute when they are. They don't really know what to do because they assume that everything is going to be orderly, and, 99% of the time, it is. Now, of course someone with a prankish nature can see the limitless possibilities this offers for creating mayhem everywhere. And that was what we set out to do because, unfortunately for them, we happened to have a lot of free time. We only played three nights, but we were there for three weeks, which left us with days where we had to amuse ourselves somehow. We did a lot of different things. In Tokyo we stayed at a large hotel, a very nice place. And there, just like all that you witnessed out-of-doors, everything was in its proper place, real neat and orderly. So we started doing things like changing signs and altering things, which is a concept they couldn't fathom. No one would ever do that over there! It would be tantamount to some sort of insanity.
A ticket to the asylum?
Yes! They had elaborate signs in the elevators telling you where to go, what was on the different floors - all the parts of this huge hotel. So we would take these giant posters out of their holders, rearrange them, and add things into them, these absurd elements: re-draw the people in the illustrations into hideous-looking creatures, and put them back. We figured, the Japanese being so orderly, they would immediately remove them, but it was almost as if they were afraid to change anything, because it was supposed to be there for a reason.
Some higher order had placed it there?
Exactly. These absurd signs were all over, and we would burst out laughing every time we saw them. They would stay up for days, untouched. Boyd had some newspapers from St. Louis - this amazing publication called The St. Louis World Examiner, which is America's oldest black newspaper. It pretty much catalogues crime. When you first see it, you think it's Ku Klux Klan propaganda or something; but it's real, and is actually published by blacks. It has regular features, like a column called "Wife Beaters and Sweetheart Mistreaters." Most of the articles are written in this sort of rhyming, jive style, and they would have bizarre headlines like: KING COBRA SNUFFS BILLYBOY. Some weird crime had been committed, a horrible mug shot of some ghetto dweller underneath. So we replaced the signs in the hotel with the front pages of these newspapers, and those stayed up for days, the full time we were there. Nobody dared remove them.
And what was the reaction?
Who knows? We were long gone. That's the trouble with some pranks: you often don't get to see the punchline.We did some things in Osaka, and then we did get to see the payoff when we got back to Tokyo before we left. All the shows were over, and we were holed up in this hotel: a tiny, narrow building that had about twenty-five stories. We were way up at the top of this place, and each story had a balcony. This is where we really had a field day. We realized you could do a lot of stuff from the balconies, and we went to our rooms, which were on the twenty-fifth floor, and opened the little mini-bars which had drinks you could take. We found that there were packages of these weird, little fish crackers, nuts, and things like that. We're bottled up in this place with nothing to do, so we went out on the balcony at nighttime, and we could see all these little Japanese people down on the street below. We had these crackers, and started tossing them down, watching what would happen. They were landing near people, and, the strange thing was, people would try to act as if they didn't notice anything had happened. They would see this object hit the ground, but they would just ignore it because it didn't compute. It just wasn't supposed to be that way. We kept dropping these things, and they just were not noticing them that much, so we took this entire cannister of these nuts and crackers, half full, with the cap on tightly, and threw it down like a bomb. It landed next to a guy getting on his motorcycle and exploded. These crackers were everywhere, and he wouldn't look up! He looked all around, to the sides, but nobody would dare look up toward where the thing had obviously fallen from! It was as if they didn't want to believe these things were coming out of the sky, and the thing they really couldn't believe was that someone would actually throw something purposely down from a high place. At that point we realized we could have a field day and went down to the grocery store. We started buying every slimy foodstuff we could afford. The best were eggs. We got cartons of eggs, smuggled them back into the hotel under our jackets, and proceeded to spend hours tossing eggs down at the people. Not trying to hit them, but aiming so they landed several feet in front of people. It was really like some sort of strange cross-cultural sociological experiment. There was a night construction crew working on the corner who all had their hardhats on, so we knew we wouldn't really hurt anyone with the eggs, which made it even better. We were throwing them down, and there's a guy going along with a wheelbarrow. Somebody threw one as he was trying to cross the street with the wheelbarrow, and the egg landed exactly in front of him and exploded! He stopped for about thirty seconds - pauses, staring at the ground - and then backs up and circumnavigates around the broken egg in front of him. He continued to his destination never even looking up at where we were! Then we started bombarding the building across the street. We hit the glass windows of this apartment, hid behind our balcony. The resident came out and actually did look around, but to no avail. But then he spent firty-five minutes scouring all the windows until they were perfectly clean, in his bathrobe, brfore going back inside. That went on all night with the eggs.
we ecpect a full CD from you in the near future?
Blood Axis is finishing the recording for the full-length release, "The Gospel of Inhumanity," right now. We've signed with Cthulhu Records in Europe, and they are great to work with as they support our work very sincerely. Hopefully, by the middle of the year it will come out in Europe via Cthulhu, and then an identical version will come out via Storm in the US. What sort of material is on the release? About half of the CD will be proper songs that are more structured, have a melody, and more traditional song structure, and the other half will be longer, atmospheric pieces that try to cultivate a sertain mood. Could you give us some sort of preview of the type of things you're planning on producing in the future? I've basically turned Storm into a record label, and I'm looking for things to release that I feel deserve more attention. There's a bunch of material lined up at the moment. One release is a CD of a group called Changes: it's folk music from the end of the sixties and early seventies. I initially found out about it because it was loosely connected to the Process Church of the Final Judgment when that was prominent. Much of the music was initially performed at a Process meeting house, and Process members attended their other shows in Chicago. I got ahold of some cassette tapes, and was impressed with the sound of it. The more I listened to it, the more I felt it should be released in some form for posterity, if nothing else. A lot of the things they were talking about in the songs were still valid, similar to ideas that bands like Sol Invictus and even Blood Axis are trying to put forth. And this was stuff from twenty or more years ago! So I felt this would be an excellent thing to release, especially since the music was already done. It was a matter of collecting it all and re-mastering it to put it out in a coherent form, which is what I'm working on at the moment.
Is there au underlying philosophy or criteria for what you will be producing?
There are a couple of criteria. One of them is whether I like the stuff, and whether or not it would see the light of day otherwise. If there is a certain spark that resonates with me, then I think other people should hear it. For me, this is good enough reason for a release. Things like the Changes material no one would hear otherwise, and it would probably be consigned to obscurity. The Changes CD is called "Fire of Life," and is a full album, sort of a best-of compilation. It ranges from tracks done in a studio to stuff recorded in a kitchen on a really primitive, mono reel-to-reel deck. In the latter case we had to re-create a stereo effect, and the original tape was actually disintegrating, falling apart during the mastering process. But, luckily, everything we wanted was saved. The Republic release will be a seven-inch with a song called "Responsibility" on the A-side. It's centered around a speech by Harold that sounds like a cross between Hitler and John F. Kennedy. The B-side is probably going to be a collage of source recordings they did. Another seven-inch will contain the title track from the Changes CD, plus an unreleased B-side. Then the Blood Axis CD will hopefully be out in the summer. There are also plans for a CD by Peter Gilmore, who does The Black Flame... He's into music? He's a composer of electronic music, and he's done some intros and segues for the death metal band Acheron. He's also done the soundtrack music for the "Death Scenes" videos, and the "Burn, Baby, Burn" riot video by Nick Bougas. Peter does his own things as well: marches and more classically based works. He's working on his "Ragnarok Symphony," and that will be a full CD whenever he's done with it.Another seven-inch is going to be done by David E. Williams from Philadelphia, which will be a four song EP.
What about the Manson CD?
There is a Manson CD out which is not being put out by Storm, but which I helped to coordinate; it was a thing which a few people worked on. It's called "Commemoration," and has been released on White Devil Records. So you've become sort of a catalyst for various diverse creative forces in the underground or alternative culture? Regardless of how well-known I am, there do seem to be a lot of people coalescing on a single thought. Like, back when we did that Slave State thing in Europe, it happened exactly when this 8/8/88 performance, utilizing some similar ideas, was occurring on another continent. There's a more orderly, strong, and aggressive ideal coming to the forefront, instead of passivity, or wallowing in escapism. It's opposed to so much of rock music, which degenerated into hippie pacifism. I think you're beginning to see a lot more music coming out that is opposed to that. What are your most current personal projects? Besides fininshing the production of the Blood Axis album, there are lots of other plans. Storm will eb relocating to Portland, Oregon in a few months. I am also making arrangements to do a true crime book calledBlood and Ashes about the recent events in Norway, where a group of pagan young people committed murders and torched a startling number of Christian churches, burning most of them to the ground. I've been invited to write a chapter about fascist tendencies in modern music for a book called Apocalypse Rock as well. And I'm trying to arrange for the English translation of certain works by the Italian occultist and political philosopher Julius Evola. The list of projects goes on and on, and there really are too many things to even recall all of them at any given moment.
first published in EsoTerra #5, 1995