A funny thing happened on the way to…
I bet you’ve heard that one before. Still, it’s fair enough to steal a timeless line when it’s true. A funny thing did happen, in fact several, but that’s just rock and roll isn’t it.
At 5 o’clock I arrived at the Marquee Theater in Tempe Arizona. As requested I called Lacey Conner, singer for Nocturne.
"Hi Lacey, this is Dave Schwartz from DaBelly. I’ve just arrived at the venue and… What? Your RV broke down? You’re just now crossing the Arizona / California state line?" Conner and the band were a good two-hour drive from the venue. I looked at my watch I knew they would be crunched for time. Aside from me they needed a sound check, get dinner and to change for their performance. I knew that my chances to interview Conner that night were about slim and none. But still she insisted that I find her in a couple hours and we would talk.
All right, a couple beers and a few games of pool later, take two. As I pulled into the Marquee Theater I found Conner standing in front of the venue. In dark pants and a black top, she was hunched over at the Will Call window arranging for our passes. Nocturne had just arrived and made good time. We approached quietly and made the introduction. It wasn’t long before we were walking through the venue looking for a quiet place to talk. The doors had already opened and the crowd was beginning to file in. A quick check proved that the dressing rooms were full, so we walked out the backstage door and into the parking lot. As we found a nice quiet piece of curb to sit on I began to fumble through my bag looking for my tape recorder. Conner was going a mile a minute apologizing for being late and talking about the hassles that can come with touring. All in all she was in good spirits. I turned on the recorder and we went from there.
"And it was like, ‘Hey, we got your email about two weeks ago and we’re really sorry that it took so long to get back with you. Yeah, we would love for you to tour with KMFDM.’ But it was too late. We had just confirmed the tour with King Diamond," Conner saw that I had just got the recorder on and she stopped and smiled.
"Excuse me," I interrupted. "I’ve got to do the tape intro, Hi we are interviewing Lacey Conner from Nocturne. We are outside of the Marquee Theater, Tempe Arizona. Today’s date is May 9, 2005."
"Hello again!" Conner said with a laugh.
Given that we were already talking about the misadventures of touring, it only seemed right to continue. I wondered about their tours with King Diamond and others and if that started Nocturnes drift toward metal music.
"Actually we were just confirmed that we’re going out with Mushroomhead and Dope at the end of the summer." Conner explained, "So we’re really excited about that. We definitely are drifting more toward the metal genre. We’re attempting to cross-over. I guess that would be a more appropriate thing to say. King Diamond is just so far out there in left field metal that we weren’t quite, you know… But we did make some new fans on tour. But the funny thing is the people that didn’t like us, they didn’t just not like us. They HATED us!"
I read several reviews commenting how Nocturne had polarized the King Diamond crowd. Being an industrial band and the opening act on that tour must have been a struggle. Since its inception, Nocturne has continued to evolve from goth to industrial and is now leaning toward metal. It must have been an interesting mix for a hard-core metal audience to see Nocturne open. I tried to put a happy face on the memory by reminding Conner that each night was an opportunity to reach out to new fans.
"Yeah, well…" She smiled for a moment before continuing, "We also toured with Bile twice and I went out with Pigface. And those shows were all well received. I guess I just took that for granted. But then we did that tour (King Diamond). I mean I know that a lot of people liked us because we sold a lot of CDs and T-shirts. But the people that didn’t like us were so vocal about it. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, they really don’t like me!’ I mean, what do you do? People were yelling at us, flipping us off and yelling ‘You suck!’ It was so weird because we never had that happen before. I just took it for granted that things were going to go well. I didn’t occur to me that that could ever happen. But yeah, with King Diamond, that’s what happened on that tour!"
I pointed out the obvious. Up next is a tour with Mushroonhead and Dope. Nocturne hasn’t tucked its tail and ran home to an industrial audience. Bands have to be thick-skinned if they’re in it for the long haul.
"I think that it’s going to be good," Conner said with confidence. "I know that we share a similar fan base. Edsel from Dope did a remix on one of our albums. So if they toured with Mushroomhead and we toured with Dope, it’s like one of those if A=B and B=C then A=C, you know? I’m excited about it."
The new Nocturne record had only been out for a couple weeks. I asked Conner to tell me about it.
"Well, it took us forever to record it" Conner admitted. "And then it took us forever to release because we renegotiated with our record company. We debated going with another label. It just took forever to do everything all the way around. But everything worked out. We’re doing the third album of a three-album deal with Triple-X Records and they’re really great people. This record is definitely has a more organic feel than our past albums. Our first album, we were real young, we were just kind of goofing off and we thought, hey let’s put out an album. We really didn’t have any focus or direction. It had more of a goth feel to it. And with our second album we wanted to make it a little bit heavier. So it had more of an aggressive industrial feel. For this album we tried to make it a little bit more organic. We used a real drummer for the first time. We’ve always used real drummers live, but our albums we have always programmed. So for this album we used a drummer and, well you know, there still are some samples and loops, but not quite as much as previous albums."
I complimented Conner on the sound of the record and then asked about the overall mix of the band. I wasn’t familiar with Nocturne until this CD, but I found myself thinking early '80s female punk vocals and industrial metal. It all sort of fits together in a very unusual way.
Conner laughed, "Yeah, we’re just weird! If people ask me to describe us, you know every bands says ‘We can’t be described, we’re unique!’ I don’t want to be like that. I tell people that our influences are Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Skinny Puppy, Ministry; Korn, but we really don’t sound like any of those bands. I try to tell them that we’re industrial metal, but we’re not really industrial and we’re not really metal. As far as our sound, it just kind of is what it is!
Nocturne originated in Dallas. That struck me as unusual in that I don’t recognize Dallas as a haven for industrial music. I asked if there was much of an industrial scene.
"No, not really. For live music there is. I mean Pantera came out of Dallas, The Toadies, Tripping Daisies; Drowning Pool, there were a lot of bands that came out of Dallas. But anyway, a lot of great people came out of Dallas, but not really any industrial bands.
I asked about lyrical content. I knew that with "Paradise Lost," the band took a shot at the media and society. I wondered what statement was being made with the new record.
"You know we do touch on several different themes," Conner replied. "Chris and I are humanitarians, we are animal rights activists, and we want to help the environment. Along with the humanitarian issues go things like the war in Iraq, which we are both totally against. Lyrically we did touch upon some of these issues. The album, it’s called 'Guide to Extinction,' and the title sort of speaks for itself. We’re causing our own demise. But the album isn’t just about that. There are several different themes, but that’s kind of the idea."
Conner and guitarist Chris Telkes parted ways as a couple before recording "Paradise Lost." I wondered if any of those emotions found their way into the music.
"It totally did. I can tell the songs he wrote that are totally about me. And then he makes me sing them!" Conner lamented. "So that’s kind of weird. And there’s definitely one song about him. So yeah, it is a little bit weird in that regard. We were together for eight and a half years and we lived together the whole time. We get along better now than we did when we were together. He has a new girlfriend and she’s totally cool. They have been together about a year. In fact I moved out to L.A. and I have a herd of animals. I have three cats and two dogs. I went from a house in Dallas that was large and affordable to living in an apartment in L.A. because that’s all I could afford. So I gave two of the cats to Chris and his girlfriend and it worked out."
It’s nice to hear the occasional success story of musicians able to put their differences aside. Musicians have such an emotional investment into a band anyway, that when you add a relationship to the mix, it can be a real challenge.
"You’re absolutely right. We spent so many years and put so much energy and hard work into the band. Just because we couldn’t get along, we're not going to end this thing we spent so much time on. We can’t do that. That would be stupid.
Nocturne plans to fully promote this record with spring, summer and fall tours. And the best way to promote has always been to stand in front of a crowd and perform. Look for Nocturne on the Mushroomhead tour and expect more in the fall.
Check out Nocturne on line. http://www.nocturne.cc
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