From the first moment I met J. from Ides of Gemini, when I was drunk off my face, he sold me an Ides of Gemini CD and told me that Papa from Ghost would much appreciate my dressing up in a Satanic nun’s habit for the show. Mind you, this was before dressing up for Ghost like a bunch of KISS fans was the norm. J. genuinely meant what he said and was very sweet. Taking the time to talk to people and have personable interactions with them builds a very meaningful kind of community, one that can often be lacking in the metal and heavy music scene. For me, when I’m interviewing an artist and it feels more like shooting the shit with a friend of mine, I find those to be the most valuable interviews where people become the most real. I’m not here to pester someone with a bunch of asinine questions because truthfully, no one really wants to read a snore fest anyways. J. was kind enough to speak with me before performing with Ides of Gemini. Rolling up late to a gig due to traffic is stressful, and J could have easily brushed off myself and the other media waiting to speak to him, but he rolled with the punches like a champ and we got to the bottom of the Trailer Park Boys, the new High on Fire, and “playing last”.
Robin Goodfellow: So, last time we saw you guys, was 2013 and you were opening for Ghost. What was that experience like for you?
J. Bennett: It was incredible. We had a blast, you know? In terms of exposure for us, it was like hitting the jackpot. If I’m right, I think almost all of those shows were all ages, so you know kids would show up early because they want their spot for Ghost. With the tour, it was just and then Ghost, so we had sort of a captive audience there. Again, because a lot of these kids are underage, they can’t go to the bar, spend money at the bar, so after, if they have any money left over after they buy their Ghost t-shirt, they would turn around and buy an Ides of Gemini shirt or CD, so it was very beneficial. Also, people seemed to enjoy us, it was good. Papa (from Ghost) is a very astute individual and he is good at picking opening bands. When Ghost returned in 2014 they had King Dude opening and Papa invited us to the show.
RG: I love King Dude.
JB: Yeah! And now I see they are coming back, I just spoke with Papa about a month ago, and they are coming back with a band called Purson and they are great too, and Papa is just really great at picking good openers and it worked out great for us.
RG: We saw you guys on that tour – amazing show.
JB: That was the Commodore Ballroom, right?
RG: Yup, yup, we showed up early, terribly drunk dressed as a Satanic nun and Priest and in fact you were one of the first people we met at the show and you took us aside to tell us that Papa would appreciate our ridiculous outfits. With that in mind, did you get to try on Papa’s robe?
JB: I did not get to try on Papa’s robe. He did, uh, insist that I pose for a photo with the dildo, Ghost has their own dildo, Papa dildo you know? He insisted I pose for a photo with it and took a photograph that was later spread over the internet. It was just me caressing the Papa dildo.
RG: That’s very romantic.
JB: Papa’s a very romantic guy.
RG: We are seeing them this year in October again, so we are pretty excited.
JB: Oh yeah, they’re one of my favourites, they put on amazing show and I was elated that they asked us. Papa selected us, so that was great.
RG: It made for a good fit.
JB: I agree. We didn’t know though, what to expect, like was it going to be an opening for Slayer type of situation? Opening for Slayer sounds great in theory, but the reality is that no one is really there to see you, and they jsut aggressively want Slayer and aggressively don’t want an opening band. I think the Ghost audience though is very open minded though, so..
RG: Oh absolutely – we hadn’t heard you guys before we got the show announcement and I read online “Ides of Gemini sounds like if Burzum scored a spaghetti Western”, so obviously we had to check that out.
JB: Oh, I actually know the guy who wrote that.
RG: Do you think that’s fair?
JB: Well you know, fair doesn’t really matter in these type of things. Do I think it’s eloquent? Yes. I would love if that’s what we actually were. I love that description regardless of whether it is true. I love Burzum, I love spaghetti Westerns, so if that’s what he heard, that’s awesome. I’m not going to argue with anyone on that kind of stuff, whatever you hear is great.
RG: So obviously Ghost is very overstated in their occult theme, while you guys are somewhat more understated, do you feel that made for a good fit as far as theme goes? Was that complementary?
JB: Oh yeah, absolutely, the theatrical aspect of Ghost and a Ghost show is very important to what they do, and obviously you aren’t looking at them when you listen to the record but I feel the music holds up even when you are listening at home. In fact, I heard them, before I saw a photo of them. I was on board before I saw the costumes and what not. A lot of people lump us in with occult rock bands and I know why that is, but I dont necessarily consider us to be like those bands, but again, if that’s what people hear then I’m not going to argue. If people started saying, “Oh I think they sound like KoRn or Slipknot, then I might argue a little bit..” but you know as far as like Burzum, spaghetti westerns, occult rock – if you hear that we aren’t going to disabuse you of any notions of those kinds.
RG: Okay so tell us about this tour and what have your shows been like?
JB: We are at the halfway point right now. Tonight will be number five of ten. This tour has been especially fantastic, last night in Portland was amazing because we played with Jex Thoth, and she and her band were fantastic. We have been touring with Clay Rendering and they are amazing great people, great band and we have our friend Scott from Saviours playing drums for us on this tour because our drummer Kelly is unfortunately injured, but Scott is an awesome guy and awesome drummer. He’s fitting in great. Part of I think is that any band will tell you this, or almost any band is that when you have a fill in person, or you need to replace a member temporarily or permanently, that is is just as important if not more important to be able to get along with them and travel with them then it is that they can do what they are supposed to do, you know in Scott’s case play drums. I have a lot of friends who because of scheduling been forced into a sort of musicians for hire situation that they almost sort of regret, and not regret because the guy couldn’t do his job, but that he wasn’t compatible in a personality type of way. I think it’s more important that everyone get along, you know? Maybe the person isn’t the best player, not terrible but he’s a nice guy, that seems more important. With Scott though it works both ways because he’s a fucking awesome drummer and an awesome guy so, we are lucky.
RG: So, any crazy tour stories, I mean other than getting held up today?
JB: Today was more a traffic thing than anything else. Surprisingly we sailed through customs, and actually waited longer in the line at customs than we did with haggling for them to let us in. I’m trying to think, anything crazy happen.. no.. I think it’s been mellow. No nutty stories for this one.
RG: That’s okay – so lager shows, or more intimate ones do you prefer?
JB: I like ’em both. We generally speaking, and I don’t want to jinx us, we prefer the Ghost situation, where it’s just us and a headliner. A package deal where there’s five bands and you play at five thirty maybe wouldn’t make sense for us. I’m not going to say we wouldn’t do it, because I mean if the circumstances made sense for us we might but right now that’s not something on the menu for us. We prefer for us at least if it’s going to be a bigger show, two bands. We don’t play big places when we are the headliner, or.. we like to use the term “playing last”.
RG: Okay. What can we expect from your show tonight, and for our readers who have never had the chance to see you guys live?
JB: Hopefully you can expect all the.. I think what we try to do is deliver an atmosphere and a mood and if you are able to transport yourself away from all the sort of petty daily nonsense that everyone has to deal with. If you are able to forget that for a while and immerse yourself in what we provide then we consider that a success.
RG: Okay. You obviously write for Noisey, so tell us about some music you cannot live without?
JB: Like old music or new music or?
JB: Anything? Hm, what have I been listening to lately.. We’ve been listening to a lot of things in the van and it’s a lot of compilations. Okay so there’s a record I used to own befoe I gave it away as a birthday gift and I only recently scored a copy of when we were in Eugene is an Ike and Tina Turner record where they cover a Crowes song and the song is called “Evil Woman”, and Black Sabbath also did a cover, but Tina changed the words to “Evil Man” and I really like that and it’s pretty ironic given her relationship with Ike Turner. Hmm.. what else? The new High on Fire is a ripping awesome record.
RG: SO GOOD.
JB: I think it’s just awesome, and the best they’ve done since their first one. The new Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, I really like the Myrkur record.
RG: Right? I like it too, she’s this really powerful.. she’s a little lady and she has this huge presence.
JB: She’s great. I also really like the new LUCIFER record, it’s killer. Gaz Jennings playing guitar. As for older stuff, Ironclaw, Left End, and things that are in pretty consistent rotation with me are things like, I always go back to Thin Lizzy is probably my favourite band of all time. Diamondhead is another favourite of mine. Is that enough?
RG: Yeah oh absolutely. Awesome. Okay so the Hexagram 7” from record store day two years ago I believe has an etching that says “I ROLL WITH MY KITTIES AND IM HARD AS FUCK” so.. which one of you guys is the Trailer Park Boys fan?
JB: I am the Trailer Park Boys fan. *laughing* I cannot take credit for that though. Brent, who is a friend of ours who runs Magic Bullet Records, he knows of my love of the Trailer Park Boys and is also a huge fan and he had that etching done without my knowledge, our knowledge. And when they arrived you know, usually those things are just the matrix numbers, and we had them and he called or emailed us and was like “did you check out the matrix thing?” and I was like, “uh.. no why would I?” and he told me to check it out. I wish I could take credit. I’m a huge Trailer Park Boys fan, but Brent he just went ahead with it..
RG: See, I wasn’t sure because you were in the Metal Cats book.
JB: Wow. Yeah you’re right. I am in Metal Cats. That’s amazing that you know that.
RG: A friend of mine gave me the book, she knows I like metal and cats and I recognized you.
JB: You know what I don’t even have a copy of that. If the woman who made the Metal Cats book is reading this, please send me a Metal Cats book. I don’t even have one! She moved to seattle I think so if she is reading this, send me a book!
RG: *laughing* Send J some Metal Cats! So, last question, our website is called Drunk in a Graveyard and we focus on horror movies, heavy metal and getting wasted, sooo with that in mind, favourite scary movie and the alcoholic drink to go with it.
JB: OH OKAY I REMEMBER THIS! I remember, you had written something about us and I saw your website and I saw that you asked people this question, and unfortunately I didn’t put two and two together that it would be you here and you would ask this question! Let’s see, favourite scary movie.. Should I give you an obscure one or one that everyone says?
RG: Whatever you like. I’ve had some very varied answers.
JB: Okay, okay, I’ve got one. It’s less of a scary movie but is more entertaining, kind of campy. Return of the Living Dead. Okay so what would go with that? I don’t drink like booze booze, but I enjoy the occasional beer, and uh actually I will tell you what I drank the last time I watched it, which was last week, and it was Bitburger tallboys.
RG: Alright, that sounds good to me. So now for our infamous lightning round. You pick between two choices. Ae you ready?
RG: Puppies or kitties?
JB: Oh. Kitties.
RG: Red wine or white wine?
JB: I guess red. I don’t really care, I’m not into wine.
RG: Vodka or whiskey?
RG: Tits or ass?
JB: I’m gonna go tits.
RG: Daffodils or daisies?
JB: Oh! Wow! Uh, daffodils?
RG: Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
RG: Coffee or tea?
RG: Black metal or thrash metal?
JB: *no hesitation whatsoever* Black.
JB: Did you predict all my answers?
RG: Mm, Some. But people always surprise me. Matt from King Parrot should have said ass, since his ass hangs out all the time.
JB: That is true. Let me add to that, I like tits AND ass, but you know if you put a gun to my head I would choose tits.
RG: Well of course. A dire situation! So thank you very much J. for talking to me, it’s been a pleasure. Break a leg tonight.
J since I now know that you read our site – thank you for taking the time to speak with me, thank you for putting on an amazing show. Thanks also to Liz from Earsplit for helping set everything up and generally dealing with me and being a total peach.