Interviews - Scarling
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An Interview with:
Scarling
By: Noreen Sobczyk
For more information about Scarling
please check out their official site:
http://www.scarling.com

CMG: The following quote is in your press kit. To whom is this
attributed? "Don't be ashamed or afraid because you don't fit into what
some people consider conventional beauty standards. This goes for men and
women!" Would you care to elaborate?

J: That would be my quote, though I'm sure plenty of educated men and
women have stated something similar before I. The rest of the quote is
"Take risks, make bold statements and be original. If you don't,
you'll always wonder "what if" and regret it. Don't be ashamed or
afraid because you don't fit into what some people consider
conventional beauty standards. This goes for men and women! There are
too many women in music already conforming to the "Barbie doll" image.
There are so many pop and rock singers who look identical to Barbie
dolls and each other. People on university payrolls have actually
taken time to calculate Barbie's measurements in proportion to the
size of a real woman. One estimate gauged the vital statistics as
36-18-33, and 7 feet 2 inches tall. I don't know one woman who fits
those measurements, and I know a lot of beautiful women. Demand that
they talk about your music, not your ass and how it looks in jeans.
Don't let anybody (labels, journalists, or fans) tell you about your
appearance, music, or career. See it for yourself. Listen to yourself
more often. You'll find you are usually correct." I definitely still
stand by this quote today.

CMG: What do you find beautiful?

J: What I find beautiful? People with a sense for the absurd, animals
of all shapes and sizes, the tortured geniuses, and those who accept
tragic and comedic circumstances with grace.
R: I like finding distressed coins with paint on them. I think those
are beautiful.
C: Sleep.

CMG: Do you feel there is beauty in the grotesque, for example the
work of Witken?

J: What is considered grotesque is quite subjective; for myself I
find what most consider hard to look at or horrid as being viscerally
compelling and often very beautiful. I feel in the cases of artists
such as Joel- Peter Witken, Max Aguilera- Hellweg and Sally Mann, (for
those who aren't familiar, she's the photographer who shared a glimpse
into the life of her family, depicting her children in the nude;)
beauty and balance lies in their concern with the message or medium
rather than arousal or disgust. Sadly, it is all very confusing, as
one person's art may be someone else's pornography.
CMG: Yes, I actually know one of Sally's former assistants. It is a
gray area, but due to the level of artistry and skill, one can't make
a serious argument
that it isn't art. It so touched a nerve, solely because the subjects
were children. Because Sally was a famous photographer, the photos
were of interest to, and made available for, the general public. It
wouldn't have been controversial had they been a layman's family
photos. The line between obscenity and free speech, art and
pornography, funding for certain artists, (Karen Finley for example,)
will always be controversial. The pornography debate will always be
with us.
R: I have always been attracted to controversial art and have never
really felt like I represent the norm as far as beauty standards. So,
this particular kind of art has always appealed to me. Descriptive
adjectives are all subjective in concept and easily assigned. I think
that Witkin, like Diane Arbus and other photographers and artists
succeed in capturing beautiful compositions that consist of atypical
subjects. The line is so ill defined between what is beautiful and
what is grotesque; the two can almost be
transposed freely. I think it is difficult not to find some aspects
of beauty in something grotesque, as well as finding aspects of
ugliness in something beautiful.

CMG: What themes were you trying to convey on So Long, Scarecrow?

J: When the album's title first came to mind -- I though of it in the
most literal sense. The Scarecrow (from the Wizard Of Oz) wanting a
brain, or in
relation to an automaton who stays in the same place, forever unable
to change or grow. Basically, So Long, Scarecrow is the album that
allowed me to function more spontaneously --easily, effortlessly, and
ultimitely distancing all of us from our past.
R: For me it was like a dark transcendence, leaving things behind and
the emotional withdrawal that accompanies loss and dependence.
C: Personally, I think So Long, Scarecrow is a direct reflection of
this past year for Scarling. Many ups and downs, but definitely a lot
of emotions, good and bad. We try to keep all of our music completely
genuine. What we write is exactly what you get, and is usually how we
are feeling at the time. This record is different than our previous
release. It may take a few listens to actually get a glimpse of what
is behind the curtain this time, but when you see it, there's no
turning back. I think the best quote I have heard
about SLS so far would be "If you are looking for a soundtrack to
your next nervous breakdown, this would be it." I'm not sure SLS, or
Scarling. for that matter, could be described any better.

CMG: The production is perfect. Christian, did you have prior
experience? What techniques do you employ?

C: I think the word "perfect" is relative, but thanks, that really
means a lot. I can't say I have formally had prior producing
experience other than I have been writing and recording music FOREVER.
If we had the option, I'm sure I would not have been our first choice,
but it just ended up that way. Plus, who knows our music & sound
better than us! As for techniques, it's all about feeling and how we
want the individual songs to come across. Oh, and plenty of red bull,
alcohol, days on end without sleep, begging, pleading,
yelling, screaming, fighting, unbelievably loud noises, lots of rain,
mold, guitars, amps, drums, computers, etc., etc.... I could go on
forever.

CMG: What advice do you have for upcoming bands in terms if booking
studios? Obtaining management? What to avoid? Good
outlets for press?

R: Get all the help you can, be thankful for those who support you,
and hold fast to the original mission that kept you interested in
making music from the very beginning.
C. When first starting out, the only advice I can think of would be
to make sure this is what you want because there is no such thing as a
"part time" band. Give it 100% at all times and be careful of getting
involved with your friends... or they won't be friends for long. All
press is good press, especially at the beginning. I won't give you my
REAL advice. I wouldn't want everyone to quit before they even get
started.

CMG: You have been compared to many bands, but never the Smiths or
Morrissey. I noticed that some of Jessicka's phrasing on "Manorexic"
is very much like Moz.

J: Thank you, though it's certainly not deliberate, but I must admit
I'll rock a Moz album every now and then.

R: I guess I could see the link between early Smiths and "Manorexic,"
mainly in the vocal delivery. I have always loved the Smiths. I guess
some people would be surprised that I like so much 70's classic rock�
just
because the influence isn't very apparent in my music with Scarling..
We all have our guilty pleasures, some better left unsaid�

CMG: Aw, that's no fun, but I'll begrudgingly let you off the hook.
What are some bands you really like that would shock your listeners?

J: Perhaps Gene Pitney, Superchunk, or maybe Lil' Jon?
C: To be honest, I really can't say there is anything I listen to
that would be shocking to anyone. Iron Maiden or E.L.O. maybe?

CMG: I feel the term Gothic, as far as music is concerned, has become
almost as mute as "Alternative." Do you feel the term is limiting? Do
you wish to follow in the footsteps of Robert Smith and distance
yourselves from that terminology? Or do you embrace it?

J: I find myself being asked these questions a lot. It's probably
because of the way we look as individuals rather then our collective
sound. To be honest I would certainly prefer being called Gothic then
being accidentally lumped into to certain genres because of the
reputation of my old band. Scarling. as a whole hold Goth culture as
an influence, each member to varying degrees. I guess the real
question for us now is, how to revel in the pageantry of melancholy
yet not be so closely associated with the term's clich�, and often
embarrassing histrionics. I think I can speak for the band as a whole
by saying I don't think we'd mind being called "Gothic," as long as we
can achieve relevance in other genres as well. Personally, being a fan
of all of Robert Smith's work (since a very young age,) I'd by lying
if I didn't say (thanks to the Curiosa Festival) that I am excited
about being part of a new movement of Goth inspired bands trying to
make yet another mainstream comeback. I'm glad melancholy music is
already starting to make
its way out of the underground with bands like Interpol leading the
way and achieving mass appeal.
C: I don't consider Scarling. Goth in the typical sense of the term.
We are a moody, emotional band only because we are moody, emotional
people. I think if someone were looking for a "Goth" band and bought a
Scarling. record they'd be disappointed. People will always try and
label things to help them understand it better, so if that's what
people get from looking at
Scarling., they better listen to the music before making any judgments.
R: I feel like trying to assign any label to our sound or genre can
be very limiting. It can be alienating. I think (like Robert Smith) we
stay true to our style and influences, but also strive to reach out
and appeal to others who don't consider themselves affiliated to a
specific rock margin

CMG: Well, as humans we naturally assign categories. Our brains are a
bit like computers in that way. They see something and try to
assimilate to it by assigning some familiar frame of reference. That
doesn't necessarily make them accurate. Your music is complex, with
different subtleties and layers; so I agree that Gothic doesn't
describe you. I was alluding to that. The thing that strikes me most
about your music is the feeling I get that you are completely earnest
and genuine, and you just have to write songs.

C: Unfortunately, you are absolutely correct. For me, writing music
just comes naturally. It's not always good music, that's for sure, but
it is always
something. I think we will always be completely genuine in our music.
If you're not, then what do you have? The only bad thing about being
completely honest with your music is that every time you play or
listen to your music, all the emotion that went into writing it comes
out -- every time. That can be painful. Sometimes I wish I could be
like Ashley Simpson so all you have to think about is what color you
are going to have your toenails painted while you're faking it through
someone else's music and feelings. Um ... wait, no I don't.

CMG: Through research, I noticed that your stock answer for what sort
of music you play is always quotes. Is that because labels have (in
your opinion) become meaningless? Or is it because you can't actually
describe what you do without fear of sounding trite?

J: I find it very difficult to summarize our sound because as a group
it's our collective diverse influences that make us sound the way we
do. Being so
close to the music, it's very difficult to be genre specific. Not
being a journalist by trade, I fumble around with adjectives that
always sound so clich�; so I find it easier to use quotes as it's a
single person's perspective yet still allows the listener to make
their own judgments.
R. It can be tricky. I stumble every time I am asked what Scarling.
sounds like or what kind of music we play. Finding a general answer
for a specific question is difficult. We quote other's descriptions of
our sound, because I think it is good to provide an objective
perspective.

CMG: How did you come to know Lisa Leveridge and Sam maloney of The
Chelsea? And what is your relationship to Robert Smith?

J: Lisa was one of the first people I met in Los Angeles when I moved
here in 98. We hit it off right off the bat. She was even crazy enough
to allow me to
be her house guest for 3 months while I was waiting for an apartment
in her building. Keep in mind we hardly knew each other, and I could
have been some nut-job from Florida, but she still insisted. Lisa is
the kind of friend you have forever, because no matter how fucked up
things get she can always make you laugh (or cry depending on her
mood.) Samantha and I met through a mutual friend who is now deceased.
We ended up really bonding during the traumatic experience of it all.
Since then she's become one of my closest friends. Never a dull moment
with Sam in the house, and she also happened to be my neighbor. Sam,
Lisa, and I have developed a really close bond over the years. I mean
there aren't a lot of women in this world that are truly behind you
100%, never mind musicians, and I can say that about both of those
ladies. I just love them to death. I don't really "know" Robert Smith.
I've only had the pleasure of his company while on the Curiosa tour.
C: I've known Lisa Leveridge for years, she actually introduced
Jessicka and I. She's always been a person I consider a close friend,
and perhaps our craziest friend. Lisa likes to be the best at
everything, and usually is. I'm actually not even sure how we met. I
met Sam through Jessicka, and we all met Robert Smith for the first
time last year on Curiosa. He came across our record through a mutual
friend and asked us to do the tour. How could we resist?

CMG: Can you elaborate about the lineup change? And Rickey, are you
ever paranoid they might "Destiny's Child" your ass?

R: That is funny, yet I don't even know what that means. I guess
considering we aren't a bunch of catty R&B millionaires, I don't think
this really applies. Am I afraid they will toss me out for someone
new? Ummm no... We aren't Menudo! I haven't expired (the last time I
checked). I think as a whole, we are happy with the current line up. I
try not to be paranoid in
general.

J: Hmm.... lineup changes. Well, I guess anyway I say it I'm going to
come off like a self-aggrandizing, hateful bitch. So, why not think of
me as somebody more pleasant, like...Goldilocks. (I know it's a
fucking
stretch but try;) and my ex band mates as bowls of porridge. (Not as
big of a stretch, as porridge really doesn't do much of anything
except lay in it's bowl, and if left out long enough it develops an
embarrassing odor.) But, I digress. Here's the story: Goldilocks knew
each bowl was rotten and wasn't what she was looking for but due to
lack of funds and lack of time she tasted them anyway. One bowl tasted
too manipulative, indecisive, and needed to be thrown out immediately.
The second bowl tasted, well ... just plain creepy, and made those of
the opposite sex uncomfortable. And the last, and by far the worst of
all, tasted so painfully unintelligent, unstable, and needed to be
institutionalized for it's own safety. After all this binging and
purging Goldilocks was very full and tired, so she went upstairs to
her bedroom to write a new record. Goldilocks fell asleep. When she
awoke, it was 2005. All bowls of porridge had been taken to the
dumpster (where they could lay dormant, putrefy, and pop up
occasionally to remind people that
they used to be in Scarling.) While she slept, they were magically
replaced with actual talented human beings -- Beth Gordon and Derik
Snell. A happy ending indeed. The moral of the story is always trust
your first impression when it comes to people (or porridge for that
matter.) Rickey certainly has nothing to worry about!
C: Rickey has nothing to worry about... this is the last Scarling.
lineup there will ever be. What a bizarre question! Maybe you know
something I don't.

CMG: You've done really well for a band with precious little major
publicity. To what do you attribute this (besides stunning good looks,
of course?) Has Alternative Press been your main supporter? Oddly, I
noticed your album wasn't on their August new release chart. Do you
have butterflies about the release?

J: Regarding the no mention in the August release section, in the
press world our album comes out in Oct. Shhh don't tell anybody! As
far as AP. goes, I
can't say enough good things about that surly curmudgeon with a heart
of gold, Jason Pettigrew. AP has certainly helped us. As far as
butterflies go, of
course... I'm a fairly nervous person, so it's extremely difficult to
put something out there for people to listen to and judge, especially
when you feel as if it's a great departure from your early work.
There's always the fear that you may lose some fans but I'm thinking
positively, (today,) and hope that this album may help us gain some
fans who are musically like-minded.
C: Honestly, it's been a struggle. We are on a small indie label,
which doesn't help the situation. It seems we have had to scratch and
tear for every inch
we've gotten so far. Getting any respect in this business is
difficult at best, so maybe it's the fact that we are just not going
away that is helping. AP
has been a huge supporter of Scarling. from the beginning, and we are
eternally grateful to Jason Pettigrew & the rest of AP. Believe me, I
don't know anyone who has better taste in music than Jason, that guy
just kills me! I would like to say we don't have any "butterflies"
about SLS, because not only is it very different from our last CD, but
because this is our lives literally poured out into music. We love it
and all we can hope for is that it makes people feel
something...anything, good or bad.
R: Although I am confident that So Long, Scarecrowwill appeal to
listeners, the butterflies are always there. It will always be nerve
wracking putting something so personal out into the world. AP and
other publications have been a great help and support and will
continue to be with this release.

CMG: What influences you besides music?

J: Right now, here are the who's and what's that inspire and
influence me, Mark Ryden, things that go crash in the dark, love,
lemons, Sigur Ros', Charlie
White, Roman Dirge, John Waters, 3rd degree burns, Six Feet Under,
Jennifer Syme, and daytime television (unfortunately.)
R: Vodka.
C: I would definitely have to say art and artists. There are not many
things in this world that I can just look at and feel something. I
have so much
respect for artists and their art, I just really love being around
creative people, I guess you could say it gives the world meaning for
me.

CMG: Obviously you are fans of Mark Ryden's work, as evidenced by past
album art. How did you decide to use a new person for this cover art and
end the trend? Is it true that there is a vinyl version with a Ryden
cover?

J: To be honest, when we started to work on our album artwork ideas,
Mark was in the middle of a stressful move and had just finished his
first museum show; so I just didn't want to bug him. All and all it
worked out, as I really love Piper's work and I wanted to do something
different, and Mark will be doing the vinyl artwork.
R: We just wanted to do something a little different for the album,
to set it apart from the others. The photos we chose for the cover &
booklet are very artsy in themselves. For the vinyl release, we are
collaborating with Mark again. His art is so beautiful that it makes
the release seem inherently collectible, which is perfect for an LP.
If you don't have a functioning record player, it will still be worth
it to hang on your wall.
C: Mark is great friend of ours and an unbelievable artist. It's so
amazing what he does. We just wanted to try something new on this
record. (Also Mark is always VERY busy!) The cover picture was taken
by another great friend, Piper Ferguson. When we saw this picture, we
just knew that was the one. Yes, there is a vinyl version of SLS
coming out with a Ryden cover, later this year I think.

CMG: Tell me about Piper and why you chose her?

J: Piper Ferguson is an extremely talented photographer from Los
Angeles. She has that overriding photographic concern when capturing
the "quintessence" of the subject she is photographing -- whether it's a
tree trunk or a 5 piece band. I refer to her as LA's answer to Annie
Leibovitz, since she has shot almost every band that's come out in the
last 6 years. Just this year she's shot Beck for Mojo, The Ravonettes,
Death Cab For Cutie, is working on documentary relating to the indie
scene, and just had a photo exhibition at Shepard Fairey's Gallery. I
chose her not only because she's my friend, but because I think of her
a true artist, rather than somebody who just clicks a button.

CMG: Do you have any b-sides?

R: We have a few b-sides, as well as some cover songs that are in the
works.
C: There are a couple in the works, but I won't give anything away just
yet.

CMG: What are your five favorite films?

J: Wild at Heart, Heavenly Creatures, But I'm A Cheerleader, Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Pink Flamingos. (And pretty much
every John Water's film ever made.)
R: The first 5 that come to mind are Donnie Darko, Harold & Maude,
the Hours, Silence of the Lambs, and Edward Scissorhands.
C: Ok, I am really bad at "listing" things, but here goes: (In no
particular order.) The Exorcist, Battle Royale, Suspiria, City Of Lost
Children and Delicatessen

CMG: You've each named at least one of my favorite films. We also
apparently share an affinity for Crispin Glover. What is your favorite
film with him,
or by him? (By the way, his cat can eat a whole watermelon.)

C: Um, this question scares me; I'll just let Jessicka answer this one.
J: In no particular order, my top 5 C.G. films would probably be:
Rubin and Ed, Wild at Heart, Willard, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and
River's Edge.
R: I think we would all agree that "River's Edge" is his classic and
finest work. Jessicka is the main Crispin admirer in Scarling., but we
all appreciate him.

CMG: Do you plan to tour here and abroad with this
release? The fans are chomping at the bit.

R: Yes, we are in the process of working out details of a tour later
this year to promote the album. I think we are all anxious to get over
to the UK as
well.

CMG: Does it freak you out when fans feel that they know you?

J: It usually doesn't bother me unless they invade my privacy.
R: Not so much, because we have all been on both sides.

CMG: What was your oddest experience with that sort of interaction?

J: Most certainly when I walked out of my apartment and found a fan
sitting in front of my house at a coffee shop, waiting for me to come
out and take a
photo with her. She informed me that she found out where I lived,
because an article about my building in Mademoiselle had a photo taken
with me in my car. When she spotted the car parked in front of my
building, she decided to wait... for 6 hours. I think that was
certainly a surreal experience to say the least.

CMG: The music business is full of sycophants and general
insincerity. Do you have a way of dealing with that?

J: I try not to think about it.
R: Depends on the day and the level of bullshit. A certain amount is
to be expected in this industry (unfortunately.)
C: I'm a fairly private person. I really try to keep to myself most
of the time.

CMG: Do you feel you are somehow sheltered from that, if only a bit,
by working with an independent label?

R: I would say yes, but I have no other reference point. The thing
is, when considered indie, there are less (or no) filters, which can
also be interpreted as less or no shelter at times.
C: As far as the music business goes, just being on an indie label
definitely does not shelter you from ANYTHING. Our label is great;
yes, we love being on Sympathy for some reasons. Other times a larger
label would be better. I think a quote by Hunter S. Thompson says it
best (brought to you by the good people at Sympathy Records): "The
music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic
hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.
There's also a negative side."

CMG: I've always loved that quote, and identified with
it -- never fails to amuse. Thanks so much for taking the time to do
this. It's rare to receive albums I actually enjoy, much less adore,
so to interview you is a pleasure. How about a parting message for
the already converted Scarling. fans?

J: Thank you for buying our record, We hope you like it.
R. We hope you love the new record!

CMG: Thanks again Christian, Rickey, and Jessicka.

C: I just want to say thanks to you for everything, and to
everyone helping to keep Scarling. around. That is all. Hopefully
we'll see you soon.
J: I just want to thank everybody who took the time to
read this and thank you Noreen.

For those of you tired of the same boring music, regurgitations of
band's who did it better long ago, or looking for something genuine;
do yourself a favor and buy Scarling.'s new album So Long, Scarecrow.
It's among the finest records released this year.

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