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As Self Hypnosis are finally able to reveal their presence for the first time, this lengthy live chat with co-founder Kris Clayton should tell you all you need to know about this new band, with roots in veteran outfits Camel Of Doom and Esoteric.

Interview with Self Hypnosis.
"After an eighteen-year slog through some very changing landscapes, a now somewhat tired Camel Of Doom has finally been put out to pasture, leaving band founder - and, frequently, only member - Kris Clayton with some unfinished material and at a bit of a loose end. That was finally resolved by the idea of bringing in a much wider spread of influences, and teaming up with old friend and bandmate Greg Chandler of Esoteric, under the name Self Hypnosis. First album 'Contagion Of Despair', soon to be released through Svart Records, was created around the core of this older material, and (sort of) drew drummer Tom Vallely into the line-up. For the future, there are some grander plans afoot...

I settled down in March - early in the UK coronavirus lockdown - for this lengthy Skype chat with Kris about all of the above, and some other stuff besides, but we had to wait until Svart had officially announced the album release before publishing it. Happily, that time has now come, the launch is due in August, and preorders are open."

Kris Clayton (guitars, vocals, synthesisers, programming) and Greg Chandler (vocals, guitars).

Hello Kris, how are you doing mate?

I'm OK.

So how's things, you said you've been off work?

Yeah, I go back sometimes and then go off again. I basically had depression-related stuff for some time now, but I'm on the mend generally. Had a nasty experience changing medication but that is all ok now and seems to be getting better each day. I actually went back to work for about a week and a half and then I got furloughed, ironically. But now I am getting paid by the government to make music, work on my own websites, and promote Self Hypnosis, so suits me.

I've been feeling a gallows humour kind of thing, like when you've been sat around at home on your own for nine months going "the whole world's gone to shit, everything's ending" - and then it actually does, it makes you feel a little bit better! [Both laugh]

OK, cool. So where to start - how about Camel Of Doom? Is that officially over now?

Pretty much, yeah.

You've still got Facebook and websites and stuff lying around.

Yeah, as soon as I'm able to properly announce Self Hypnosis, I'll be announcing it on there. I've written a long statement about it saying go here instead because it's the new "replacement" band, basically. All of the music's already free on Bandcamp, I haven't had any physical stock of anything for years. I've always done that with all the albums, I've given them a year of selling them, then made them a free download. But you can't even give this stuff away half the time... [Both laugh]

If I ever wanted to make any pure psychedelic rock again, I might reuse the name, but it's been ten years since Camel Of Doom really even had that sound. The last two albums are markedly different. It's funny, going back and listening to them, because every stage of my development as a recording engineer is charted in there. Obviously the last two albums I was working with Greg [Greg Chandler, Priory Studios, Esoteric and others], but even there I've got ever increasing credits because I've been doing more and more of that myself at home. It's definitely not a project you could go through and accuse of not developing.

Camel Of Doom - 'Terrestrial' (Full album, 2016):

I know you've been irritated with some aspects of its later reception - did you want to say something about that?

Yeah, I mean - social media's kind of changed, I think because there's a lot more people in the scene now. Back in the day it probably helped that I was a kid so people were giving me the benefit of the doubt on stuff, I think people could have been more critical of how it sounded. But for the first five or six years we never got any comments on the band name, until social media came around, and you'd see reviews where you were getting a nine or ten out of ten, and instead of all the comments saying "oh yeah, I listened to it" it was "what a silly name" [Laughs].

It was just a bit frustrating really, it felt like people weren't giving it the chance. And it seemed ridiculous to me, especially when we were more pure Stoner Doom - I mean every single band's called "Goat" something - Goat Wizard Weed Warriors - not a scene known for its fantastically amazing band names.I mean the name itself came from my logic at the time - I was getting into Stoner at the time. I'd heard it called Desert Rock, but I wasn't really associating it with Kyuss playing out in Nevada, I thought deserts - camels. And then Sabbath as well, it's all Doom. I'm also a massive Prog fan, and round about then I was listening to Camel all the time - I mean, the first album, there's songs where I added all this keyboard stuff, that was a Snow Goose feel as well. And when you stop doing all that and start becoming a more extreme band, the name no longer makes any sense at all.

It was probably something that, when I did the second wave of albums, I should have made it a new project then.But the two-track self-titled demo, that did quite well as far as getting people to listen to it. Obviously the scene was really small at the time, but it was quite well-known and we did have a bit of name recognition there. I thought if I kept on with the same name I could keep the same fan-base I'd already got, but because the style had changed, a lot of the people who liked the early stuff didn't like it anyway. Lesson learned!

That's not the only reason I'm ending it and changing it and moving on. Making the last album, well I had a bass player at the time and that was good because even though it was just the two of us we used to rehearse every week in my house, playing all our parts along with the backing tracks. So rather than me just sitting down and writing stuff once, it did develop through that. After the album I got a very old friend of mine on drums, but basically the line-up was extremely dysfunctional because although our bass player was a good player, he wasn't really a fan of any of the music we were doing, so he was always trying to pull it in a direction that didn't really make a lot of sense. I'd been doing the band my own way for probably thirteen years, and I didn't particularly want to be adding all these new influences that he wanted to add. And the drummer's a good friend of mine, but we didn't work particularly well together in a band.

Basically, it just wasn't a lot of fun doing it. We played about eight gigs, and I hated every moment of playing all of them! One thing I found was that I haven't drunk for years, but everyone at the gigs was completely wasted all the time, and not paying that much attention to the music. I was probably spoilt a bit by having played in Esoteric and playing good gigs...we were trying to be ambitious with what we were doing playing live again and it was too hard to pull off that level of thing while playing tiny club shows to like ten people. It just didn't seem worth the effort any more, so I just kind of phased it out.

But, effectively, Self Hypnosis is a partial continuation of that, isn't it?

So, yes, people just see when you release an album, they don't actually realise that between you finishing the album and it being released can be quite a long time. So I'm usually at least some way along to writing the next album by the time one is released, and four of the Self Hypnosis songs are what I'd already written for the next Camel Of Doom album. And I was playing them to the other two guys in the band, and they had no enthusiasm whatsoever for them. [Laughs]

So then, mid-2016, after we stopped doing anything, I really had a year, year and a half, of not really knowing what to do. And I've always had these ideas that I'd like to do something where I incorporate all of my influences rather than to do a band that's just one genre. It just took a long time thinking about what to do - I talked to a few people about possibly collaborating. I talked to Dominik [Dominik Sonders, Sidetrack Walker, ex-Unmasqueraded, ex-Memoirs] for a bit, 'cos he had a load of unfinished Doom songs, and we were thinking about that for a bit, but that didn't really go anywhere.

Then at some point I just got the idea that I really wanted to make it just brutal, from the point of view of the drums just sounding pummelling, and it was like "I think I'm just going to go with a super-heavy drum machine sound now". I'm a big Godflesh fan, so the drums and bass are just a total Godflesh grind behind it all. And I had some songs that were completely unrelated, like 'Divided', I'd written just because I was listening to loads of Yes and I wrote it and recorded in the style of Yes, so it didn't have any heavy stuff at all, just a total '70s kind of production - I was like, "why don't I just bring this in as well?". And then because that had really interesting Prog Rock drums all over the place, that wasn't going to work on the drum machine. So I got the idea to record it in the style of a '70s Prog record, with a proper drummer, and then treat it as though I'm sampling a Prog record, and make it sound huge.

Again, the other big driver behind all this is that I've been a die-hard Prodigy fan since '96, when they had all their big hits. I was like eight then, and I already hated being told what to do,and suddenly there was this guy on the TV like total fucking rebellion - that was kind of my Punk Rock moment right there, and I've been heavily into The Prodigy ever since. Obviously a lot of their music was sampled - there's loads of resources online now which say what was just a loop of this song, and you can listen to the original and how it sounds on the Prodigy song, and it was just like trying to do that.

So that's why we've got a drum machine, but we've also got Tom [Tom Vallely, Lychgate, Macabre Omen, Omega Centuri and more] as lead drums, because he's playing all the featured sections of drumming, where it's more interesting. We've also got the Post-Rock type buildup, on 'Omission', that's all real drums, and for that we were just trying to get a Godspeed! You Black Emperor drum sound. We did the whole session in two days, and there's not that much live drums on there, probably about a quarter of the album, something like that, but it just took forever because every single thing we were using a different drum kit. Tom brought three or four drum kits down because he's a professional, that's what he does, so he's got like a big doom kit and a jazz/'70s sounding kit, and all this sort of thing. So we had individual set ups for like every part!

The most fun part was getting a big live sound, going for the ’When The Levee Breaks’ approach by recording some of the drums in the entrance to the studio. It's got like a big stone lobby with a staircase, and for 'Omission' we set the drums up there. We had the close mics on the drums, but then one way up at the top of the stairwell and others way back in the control room, so we were just getting the sound of it echoing around the whole building.

Tom Vallely (lead drums).

Officially, the band is just you and Greg, though, is that right?

It's kind of Tom as well. I mean, we hired him and paid him as a session drummer on this thing, but he's been highly enthusiastic about it throughout. Basically, the plan is to be a live band, and he's totally on board with that. And when we do stuff for the second album in the studio, he's going to be contributing more, so from now on I think it will basically be the three of us. With the photos that we did for this, it's just hard to get the two of us together, never mind all three.

I've never really had the conversation where we've said do you want to join the band, kind of thing, but I was speaking to him on the phone the other day and he was really enthusiastic, and he's written a doom song but can't do anything with it 'cos he doesn't have a doom band, and it was like "can I send it to you, and you can turn it into something". If he ends up writing a song on the next album, he's definitely in the band, I would say!

I wanted this to be more collaborative anyway, but don’t always have much time to work with Greg on stuff, he is a busy guy and the time I do spend with him is the majority of my social life so we don’t always want to just work on stuff!

You mentioned a second album, have you got anything progressing for that?

Yeah, I have a CD’s worth of material – same length as this one – that I’ve got sounding like a cohesive whole now. Not too far off being ready to finish that so hoping to get that out not too long after the first.

It's been different writing this time, because last time none of the seven songs were written to be part of this band. The first three and the last one were written for Camel Of Doom, actually the last song, about the first ten minutes of that were written when I was in Esoteric originally. That more kind of Doom feel, that was just something I'd been playing around with then, and it's been on the shelf for about ten years.

Then I had the Prog one, that was written fairly recently, and a really short Industrial one - I don't know when I made that, I was just going through my hard disk and looking at all the tabs I'd made and stuff, and thought I could something with that. 'Leeches', I remember writing that about eight, nine years ago: I'd just moved in with my girlfriend, who's now my wife. We didn't have the ability to do much, I didn't have any studio stuff, but I managed to write it down. It's funny when people hear that one, they hear the tapping guitar and think My Dying Bride, but the first part of that song was inspired by Anathema, The Silent Enigma, more than anything. I'd just discovered that album and thought I'd try doing something like that. It's really just three ideas stuck together: there's that, then there's some kind of Neurosis-type middle section and then the end bit I was trying to write like an Obituary slow death riff...and it doesn't sound like that at all, but that's how it ended up!

But yeah, with this one, it's obviously now a band that has a style, so I have a bit more idea of what I'm doing with the writing. And I've kind of developed it a bit, everything I've been writing so far has been pretty crazy Prog-inspired stuff.

So, how close are you releasing 'Contagion Of Despair'?

We are now three months away! August 21st is the big day. Thee days after my dogs birthday, it will be quite a week. Took a little while to get moving as these things always do – had to get photos done and artwork before we even submitted to the label, and since then have had to do layouts and everything, and then there has been a vinyl laquer shortage, and pressing plants being under lockdown… lots of obstacles. But Svart have been putting things out at a regular pace as they always do so we are good to go! So far the attention we are getting online for the record is a lot more than Camel of Doom ever managed so it was worth waiting for the right label and ironing out all the details.

Did you do all the layout work yourselves?

No, Mauro [Mauro Berchi, Canaan, Neronoia, ex-Ras Algethi, owner of Eibon Records] did it. You can kind of see what he's done, because everything on the website and the video is using his styles and the graphics that he made. Obviously the photo's just the one we had done, but he's fitted that to be the inner gatefold sleeve - the big photo that's on the website. And then the logo's done by my friend Ana, who's the singer in my third band. She's a graphic design front-end web developer, that's how I know her, 'cos we work together. So I just went round her house one day, and I knew what I wanted the logo to look like, but I couldn't ever have made it!

Cover art by Daniele Lupidi, layout by Mauro Berchi.

So...your third band? Do you want to tell us a little about that?

Yes. Invisible Skies. It came out of nowhere, really. Basically, I'd been working at my job for about a year, and then we just hired this girl. I barely spoke to her for about six months, because I'm socially awkward, and one day I was just walking past her desk and she was on YouTube watching loads of like Black Metal videos, so I started taking with her and got to know her a bit. So we were hanging out quite a lot, and I knew she was a singer - she'd sung in choirs and stuff - but one night she'd been out to a karaoke night and someone had recorded it. We were just outside having a fag at work, and she was like "oh, I'll show you this funny video of me doing karaoke", and she was doing Evanescence. So she played me it, and I was confused, like "that's not karaoke, that's just a proper recorded vocal" - but, no, it was her singing it, and I was like "Jesus, she can actually sing - really well"! And she likes all the sort of music I do, so it was just "shall we start a band?" [Laughs]

And she's been basically sitting around for fifteen years being into music, massively - like it is for me, it's like her total life, listening to music and she's really into reading all the lyrics, and the art and everything. She's always wanted to be in a band, and just never had the chance, so when I asked her, she was just like "yeah!".

So we got together and just spent a day working on a song, which was the 'Timeless' one - the very first one I sent you when we'd only just done it, and hadn't done anything else. It turned out really well.

Yeah, I liked it.

Then she was like, "I'm going to write some songs", and I'm "well, we'll see how that goes...", 'cos she's never done it before, but she just seems to be a natural - she writes songs every few days, far, far, far faster than I can work on them! So the album we're putting out is sort of half and half in terms of who's done what and who's written what - we shared the lyric writing a a bit, and shared the music writing, and we've written lyrics for each other's music. It was just a totally collaborative process, whereas Self Hypnosis - for the first album at least - was very much, I'd say to the drummer "play exactly this thing" – well not totally true, sometimes it was improvise within these parameters, and with Greg, we'd work all the details out in the studio, but it was the same thing Camel Of Doom was: a Kris-led dictatorship. That's just, I'm doing it all the time, and the others don't have so much time, so I end up nearly completing everything.

But Invisible Skies was a complete collaboration - Ana's, apart from Greg, my best friend now, and we end up hanging out all the time and talking about the band, working on the band, passing ideas back and forth. So it's been a really great project to work on, and I've always really wanted to do something that's not Metal. There are kinda heavy-ish bits on this record, but that's coming more from her than me, she's writing the heavier riffs, and I'm not because I've already got bands where I can play heavy riffs all the time.

We kind of went into it with no particular direction, just wanting to write the songs we wanted to write. And though they're all quite different, I know what I'm doing enough, in terms of music production now, to make a collection of disparate songs sound like an album. We've booked into the studio to do all the work we need to do to finish it, we're going to do that in June. That's the plan now, and in terms of what we have on the demo, most of that's just going to be kept - it's not a demo, in the strict sense, it's just that I don't have good stuff to record vocals at all, so the vocals on the demo are mostly just rush jobs to get the ideas down. So the point of the studio session is to basically do all the vocals properly, in a proper studio, with five grand mics and all that. She's the first vocalist I've ever recorded who isn't just me, screaming at the top of my lungs - which isn't exactly difficult to capture - but even that, I do most of that with Greg, just because he works with vocalists all the time, and he's like a proper producer in the sense that he can coax better performances out of people.

There's like only two things in the past ten years that I've done vocally that weren't done in his studio, and that was because they needed doing quickly and I didn't have the time to go and do them there. I self-recorded those: it doesn't make too much difference when it's just me screaming, to be honest but...when I record at home I find it hard to let my voice go as loud and as extreme 'cos everyone can hear me in the whole street! But the Camel Of Doom My Dying Bride cover, I did that at home, and then the Doomed 'Anna' album, I had a guest spot on that. I forgot I'd done that...I've got a Metal alarm clock that just blasts out like 100 hours of music, all my Metal mp3s out on shuffle, and the other morning that song came on and I thought "oh, shit, that's me - forgot about that"! [Laughs]

Is it official yet that you're also playing in Esoteric again?

It's, like, not unofficial, it's just that we don't really make announcements. Normally the plan'd be - well, you know we had loads of gigs booked, so we were going to be playing gigs. I've already played one, in Madrid. Since then, Jim's left and we've replaced him as well, so we've got another guy who's also not done any gigs. Really, ideally, we want to be out playing shows, and then people will notice the line-up's changed, you know? That's the way they've always done everything. The problem is that all of our gigs have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, so I think we're just going to change it on the website, and say nothing, as is the Esoteric way.

So, getting back to Self Hypnosis, is there anything you specifically wanted to talk about that we haven't addressed yet?

I suppose, thematically, the album, what it's about and everything.

[Laughs] Good point, it does have a concept theme that we glossed over earlier, right?

I always have this worry when I'm writing stuff that it's not going to be relevant, this, by the time it comes out - but everything I've written about has got worse! Basically - well, you know this anyway, 'cos I told you when you wrote the biography - but it's totally against the division that the media is trying to sow everywhere.

At first, I was thinking "do I sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist here?", but it's fairly obvious that the media is out to make everyone as terrified of everything as possible, and as divided and separated and untogether as possible - and it's about that, and the mental health effect it has on people in general, and me in particular. I've just had to shut out all news altogether, because it's just too miserable, and people share stuff on Facebook all the time, news stories, and if you do any research into the things they're saying, a lot of the time it's totally over-hyped compared to what the actual situation is. It's why it's been so difficult with the coronavirus thing, especially in the early stages, it's difficult to know how seriously to take it because everything you read about it in the media, it's like everything is ending, the world's falling apart, you know? And with this whole Brexit thing,and the recent election - as touring musicians who go to Europe a lot, and also as people who know people all over the world and work with bands all over the world, we're obviously very much on the pro-Remain side generally, for our own benefit, same as it is for anyone on the Leave side. The problem is, even people who agree with me, they're sharing stories - mainly from the Guardian and the Independent - that are like total "fear" stories. And though I don't think Brexit is going to be a good thing, I also don't think it's going to be as extremely bad a situation as the left-wing side of the media makes out it's going to be.

And just generally, you don't seem to be able to go anywhere or read anything now without it turning into a massive fight, and everyone just argues. It's like if you meet someone in a pub, and you disagree with them, you'll have a debate, if you meet them on social media and you disagree with them, you tell them you'll come round their house and rape their mother, all that kind of shit. I just think it's bringing out the worst parts of human nature, and the media seems all in favour of making it more and more divisive, all the time.

Self Hypnosis - 'Contagion' (Official Lyric, 2020):

So basically, in terms of the album, the first and last tracks are sort of book-ends. 'Contagion' is literally just an introduction to the concept: I never use the word "media" once on the album, but every single song references "my enemy" and that's an abstract reference. You can't talk about the media and think it's a specific journalist or whatever, but there is this overarching, controlling force behind it all. I mean, it could just be Rupert Murdoch [Laughs] but I think it's more that it suits some people's purposes that we should be divided. I don't know who it is, and I'm not a conspiracy theorist so I'm not going to go into that, but someone out there wants to destroy us all [Laughs]. And the songs between, they address specific examples and situations that I wanted to talk about.

So 'Contagion' is that there's fear and panic everywhere - and that's part of the reason we want to get the promo out quickly, we have this video and I've spent two weeks watching it over and over again and seeing the lyrics on the screen, and it's like this all happening totally to the extremes at the moment and it's not a metaphor any more because we have a real, actual contagion of despair! [Both laugh]

And then it goes on to stuff that seems to be driven by media agendas, rather than anything that anyone's asking for, like the second track 'Empowered (Restricted)' is kind of my take on current feminism. 'Cos I consider myself to be a feminist, but I consider that to mean total freedom for women to make their choices about what they do and what they want to do. And this was inspired by - I watch a lot of sport, and this was when they said they weren't going to have glamour models at the darts or the F1 or the Tour de France, all those sorts of things, any more...and then you got interviews with all the models who'd been doing that, and they were like "well, we're unemployed now". And it seems like there's this agenda that every woman has to be, like, a nuclear physicist now. You don't say that for men - you say okay, you can be a nuclear physicist, but some men are still binmen, you know? If there are women out there making money out of their looks, that's something they've chosen to do, is it fair to take that away from them? It's making out that these models don't have any agency to choose whether they want to do that, because political correctness has said it's not allowed any more.

Moving on, 'Omission' is like what I said about people sharing news stories constantly. They're not stories that are outright lies, they're focusing on one specific aspect of what's been said. It's like there's no focus on the context, like, say, any speech that's made by a politician, will then be cherry-picked by the right-wing and the left-wing media to get what the story they want to present out of it is. It's still a lie, even if it's just a lie by omission. And just kind of the disbelief that people you know in real life contribute to this all by sharing stuff when they know better – or should!

‘Scandal’ was inspired particularly by this scandal with Oxfam - some of their overseas workers had some sort of sex orgy party. Fair enough, it was scandalous, but it seemed the press was over-hyping what they'd done, while completely forgetting they've been feeding like starving children for fifty years, you know? The media coverage was completely warped - at that time, I couldn't turn on my telly without hearing about it, and then talk for twenty minutes about this shit, and put in like ten seconds of "did you know Oxfam raises money for charity?". It feels like the whole purpose of this is to create as much human misery as possible, like they don't want to wipe out the charity, they just want to minimise what they do enough so that the people who are starving don't die, but they remain starving. Because dead people can't be miserable.

'Divided' is an attack on the extreme right-wing and the left-wing, and the fact that both sides piss me off to an extreme extent – and it seems that more and more people, at least online, are pulling further and further to the extremes. I mean, I'm left-leaning myself, always have been, quite into democratic socialist ideals, I would say. I'm a big supporter of the welfare we do have in this country. I know there are benefit cheats out there, but I know many people in my immediate family and close friends who work considerably harder than I feel I do and make next to nothing, and others who have terminal fucking illnesses and yet have to be reassessed for benefits every few months. I know two people who have degenerative diseases who go through this. Do they really think that people with degenerative illnesses will get better? It is really offensive how people can be treated that way for the sake of a hundred pounds a month! So generally I want them supported, I'm socially left-wing like that, and quite against the right wing already, but there's been quite a lot of left tendencies lately that have been quite irritating. It's like they've lost the ability to laugh at tragedy and at bad things - you can't joke about anything because someone on the internet will take your joke seriously, and, like if you're on Twitter and do that, it can be your life over then! There's been a real, real authoritarian tendency to come down like a ton of bricks on anyone with any sort of "extreme" view. [Laughs] It's just all down to extreme polarization - on the internet, there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people who are nice, normal, moderate, sensible people. But they're not loud. They don't go round shouting about moderation. All you see are the far right and the far left screaming their obscene views at the top of their voice, and just creating more and more division.

Then, 'Leeches' - this is just my views on marketing and advertising in general. It's slightly less media-driven than the rest of the album, but what I particularly don't like is anyone who attaches themselves to people who are creative, add literally nothing to them, but bleed money off them, which obviously is fairly common in the music industry. It never was an issue in the underground, but as the underground gains more appeal, it's definitely there now. That's certainly not an attack on doom-metal.com and their writers, 'cos they're all fans of the music, and everyone knows we make absolutely no money whatsoever doing it [Laughs], but there's a helluva of a lot of Metal blogs that exist with tons and tons of advertising all over them. And the thing I also don't like is that marketing in general tends to play on fears of things - it's like there are loads of adverts for VPNs now, and all of the things they claim are just blatantly untrue, like "it'll protect you from viruses". The line in it is that "all that humanity's created, all the arts and knowledge, is now available at our grasp, but you can't get to it without being pummelled by all these shallow, empty lies coming from people who create nothing, but just exist to sell things. I quote directly from Bill Hicks in the song: "you are the ruiner of all things good", but the full quote is "If you're involved in marketing or advertising I want you to go home right now and kill yourself. You're laughing, you're all laughing - haha Bill, that's a good joke - I'm not joking. Seriously, go home and kill yourself. You are the ruiner of all things good". That's exactly how I feel about it.

'Succumbed' is kind of the culmination of the whole album: it's describing the negative effect that all this has had on me generally, and, I think, on a lot of people. I mean, we're in full lockdown now, and it's made no difference to me, I've barely left the house in nine months. And this just gets into crazy speculation - the idea of the song is an exaggeration of the actual situation, but it's like that it's actually driven me completely insane. So it ends up with me succumbing to it all, and I see that like me in a padded cell and a straitjacket, rambling on about all this shit... [Laughs] There's me going through all the possible options of who could be behind it all - our own government, foreign governments, terrorist organizations - who is that benefits from creating all this misery? I needed to put some completely crazy idea in there to show that I really had gone nuts, so I came up with the idea that it was actually God - he manipulates quantum mechanics so that when you do stuff on the internet it changes before it gets to where it's going, 'cos people can't be that bad, surely, can they? There must be something behind it.

It's always good to write an album that just ends up in complete and utter misery, I mean you've heard the Invisible Skies album, right?


That also ends up in complete misery. It was a deep period of depression music and lyric writing session. Ironically, I wrote that and thought, "oh, I've written a really moving and sad song here" - and that made me happy! Like when my Granny comes over and she always says: "It's all this music you listen to that makes you depressed". And I'm like, "No, it's literally the only thing that keeps me going through this, especially writing it".

All in all, then, you'd describe Self Hypnosis as a pretty cathartic experience?

Yeah. Like the Invisible Skies song - 'I Have Given Up' - I wrote that because I had given up, but you create something positive out of that, then you start to feel a bit better. It's better to speak about things, really. I think in the past I wouldn't have been willing to talk to people about my mental health, because of the stigma behind it. But, generally, if you talk to people about it, people who are your friends, or you've known a long time, they'll be supportive, and it's best to have as many people a possible around you know what you're going through. Because you feel isolated and alone, but it's because people don't know - unless you have some kind of depressive episode in front of them - if you don't tell them. Behind all the division and splitting that "my enemy" is trying to do, generally people are good, on the whole.

Don't know how representative I am of people in general, but I generally consider it quite a privilege when people do share something like that. It's trust, and it earns trust in return.

Thing is, I've never met you, but I've spoken to you at great length, for several years, so I know you're a person who's out there to help people and always have been. I mean, look at what you do for doom-metal.com - it's literally about the most thankless task in the world.

Yes and no - it's work, but it feels nice to be a part of it!

Yeah, like I was saying - I don't generally like people who leech on to creative people and try to profit off it. But there's a right way to do it - not everyone is someone who can create music, but people like you and Stu [Stu Gregg, Aesthetic Death Records], you're not musicians, but all you've done all your life is support and help people who are, and it's not in an exploitative way. It is clear from the way Stu runs his label that it is not done to turn a huge profit that is for sure. But he is a fantastic guy to work with.

OK, from all that we've discussed, would you describe yourself as a philosophical person?

Previously, no. Recently, it's something I've become very interested in, and in fact Self Hypnosis II is going to be an entirely philosophical work as opposed to an in any way political one. Although, as part of my philosophy, it will have some attacks on organised religion. Basically, the concept behind that, although I haven't written a single lyric for it yet, I have spent the last couple of years accumulating a massive collection of books on history, philosophy, theology and occultism. It's not fully formulated yet, but the idea is to try and make sense of religious experiences, psychotic and psychedelic experiences, and try to look at what the truth is. Like, religious founders who have visions of an angel telling him what to write and the whole of Christianity being anything other than a sect of Judaism is down to Paul having visions and hearing voices in the desert - well, people have these things now, and they call it a psychotic experience and tell you you're a schizophrenic! And you can have revelatory experiences using psychedelics. I used to smoke salvia on occasion, before they banned it - 'The Diviner's Sage' by Camel Of Doom was about that, salvia divinorum - and it feels a bit like being able to pull aside the curtain and peer into the spiritual world, if such a thing exists. Something beyond the physical world. And the question is, are all these people having these experiences, have they actually got mental illness or psychosis - what's to say they're not having legitimate religious experiences? No one really knows. I'm not religious, not a believer, but equally I don't think it's possible to say that there is no such thing as the supernatural, because no one can prove that one way or the other.

I should add that I've quit drugs. The whole of Self Hypnosis up till recently was totally fuelled by smoking weed, and I've stopped that now, but I'm carrying on with the music. The difference now is that I've suddenly become more wanting to engage with people again and stuff. I've suddenly become a lot more talkative again. Good timing though as I need to get sharing this band which I am really excited for. I've been sat on this for years - it's been top secret for so long that I'm just sick of. I want to share it with the world...especially 'cos it all seems more relevant than ever! [Laughs]

Certainly, these are some strange times indeed!

Yeah, but I actually feel a little more positive now, even though the whole world's terrified. For me, personally, I'm making a little progress with where I want my life to be. It's a little frustrating, because I'm at the point now, after nine months of not leaving the house, now I want to leave the house, and the government orders me not to for the foreseeable future. [Laughs] But at least I'm used to it and I've got ways of coping with it. And this is why I've been on Facebook constantly, sharing music and talking to people, because I know what it's like to be locked at home. So I'm just trying to spread as much positivity as possible.

Well, it's been really good to talk to you again.

Yeah, I did warn you about the rambling on!

So, take care mate!

Thank you very much,and I'll talk to you later.

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Interviewed on 2020-05-19 by Mike Liassides.
Thermal Mass
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