Murderous Vision Interview April/May 2010 conducted with Stephen Petrus by K.R.
Beginning with some basics, can you give an overview of the history of Murderous Vision, your initiative aims with the project, and what stage you believe Murderous Vision is at in this present day.
SP: Murderous Vision was born in the autumn months of 1994. At this time there was another member. The original aim was to shatter all of the methods of music making that we had held previously. At this time I was feeling completely done with conventional music. Years of attempts to create music in a normal way had left me bored and disenfranchised. It took awhile to put together the first release, which finally surfaced in the early months of 1996 in the form of the “…Lost” album. For the second set of sessions, which became the second record “…Loathe” I took the helm as songwriter. Before the sessions were complete and pressed to CD it was down to myself as sole member. These first two records were not very important in the scheme of the MV catalog outside of getting things off the ground. The presence of this other member renders them unlistenable to me. After a rebuilding of the sound, the third and pivotal album “Suffocate…the Final Breath” was born. At this time the classic Murderous Vision sound was born. Every release since this point seemed to just fall into place and they all seem to me like chapters in the book of my life. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I tend to timeline my life around the release of albums. Almost like how a parent might do around their children. As for the current stage of the project, I would like to think it is somewhere in the middle of it’s life. I see no foreseeable end in sight. I would like to romantically say that it will exist as long as I do, but who can tell what will happen in the future. The certainty is that it will not be ending anytime soon! I am sitting on the two best releases in the project’s history. They will both be released in the very near future, so the momentum is at it’s highest point!
Murderous Vision has existed for 15 years now. How do you view your earlier releases from around the time you started? I often find myself playing the “Ghosts Of The Soul Long Lost” Double CD, which is a compilation consisting of selections of your earlier works. Can you pick a high point, and a low point over the course of your extensive musical career?
SP: As stated in the previous question, the first two records are of very little significance to the greater whole. I doubt that the project would be here without them, but the actual art contained on them is quite tainted. Not to mention amateur. The “Ghosts” release only contains one track from this very early period. Most of the stuff contained on that one is from the “Suffocate” era on through “The Times Without Gods”, which certainly was an important period. A very active one as well. It might sound contrived, but I do believe the low point was the beginning, and the current is by far the high point. I feel the project continues to grow as the years pass by. I feel the same way about myself as a person. My life becomes more interesting as time slips away. I do not wish to revisit past eras of either.
After reading over the biography for Murderous Vision, the project appears to be a very personal one for you and a reflection of your inner self, yet at the same time with some semi permanent members as part of the fold. What contribution do the other member/s have, if any?
SP: My artistic work is definitely the most meaningful thing to come of my life, and I do put every part of my existence into the recordings. People who share my life, I have felt it only right that they also share a little piece of the thing that means most. Murderous Vision throughout it’s history has always lent opportunity for those close to me to get involved on some level. This is also one of those areas that will never change. However, the thing that will change is I won’t ever make the mistake of granting full and equal membership to ANYONE. It is not fair to them, or me in reality. I can’t ever again expect the work to mean as much to anyone as it does to me. I am only kidding myself when I think it does or will. Murderous Vision is of me, and is me. It could never work out any other way. Any projects that surface with others in the future that are of an equal division of songwriting will be under different monikers. By granting equal membership to others within Murderous Vision only slowed progress and created log jams. I will never again wait for someone else’s contribution to complete a piece. It is mine, and from this point on I will not answer to anyone in regards to the choices I make for it. Just as I won’t answer to anyone for the choices I make in living my life. For me, they are intertwined. Murderous Vision IS my life!
At times your music and attitude appears to be very misanthropic. From where do these feelings stem from? A product of your surroundings and how it is to live in this day and age, or something else?
SP: It is what I see all around me. The way I was raised, the life I have lead since adulthood. It all has an underlying theme of misery. It is always a struggle against various factors. I see the world as, generally a very cold place, with only a few pockets of warmth. I can let it take me down, or focus it into something productive. In doing that it makes me able to see some light and beauty in a place that would otherwise have none. I am generally a pleasant person with a good disposition and sense of humor. This would not be the case if I did not have an outlet for all of the shit I have been through in my life. So, that is how Murderous Vision always has, and continues to save my life. It locks the door on all of the negativity that surrounds me each day. With those beasts locked safely away, I am able to see the beauty in the world, and in the people I choose to share my life with. It is my yin and my yang, so to speak!
Influence wise, is there anything like books or films that have influenced your work at any point? I ask because I know the material on the split with Kuru (and perhaps others too?) was written from the first person perspective of a murderer, perhaps there’s some inspiration derived from authors like Bret Easton Ellis who also write from this angle?
SP: During the time of the split with Kuru, I was completely obsessed with reading true crime. It was definitely an influence on the material on the split. Unfortunately, I do not find myself with the time to do much reading these days. When I do, it is always historical or non-fiction. I have little interest in reading fiction. I guess that is somewhat true for film as well. I tend to reach for documentary or historically based films as well. I have no use for comedy or drama films, and if it must be fictional it tends to be 70’s splatter. I am a slave to documentary, much to the annoyance of those around me I am sure. Werner Herzog is my god. I worship him. Joe Coleman’s writings and art are of huge influence. Visual art is a huge influence. I am very inspired by the artwork of Kati Astraeir and Rachel Latina. Both are amazing and should be investigated!
A lot of your output has been releases through your own label, Live Bait Recording Foundation, with only a small handful of other releases on other labels. Explain what the pros and cons are of utilizing this method. Is it preferable for you to have 100% control over your work and it’s distribution by handling everything yourself?
SP: I am actually a bit of a control freak when it comes to my art. I am unwavering on things like artwork and presentation. There have been a few offers for releases, which I have sacked over difference of opinion on things like this. When I release my own material, no one can have a fucking thing to say about anything. I do absolutely anything I want, without having to worry about others being pleased. I do like being in control of the distribution, I am interested in knowing where things are going. Plus, it allows me to run the mail-order, which is my best source for getting my hands on some great material by other bands all over the world! I have a massive personal collection of Industrial records that I have acquired over 15 years plus I have been distroing my work. The only possible con to it is that my funds are very limited, so sometimes it takes awhile to get things released. Once the cash is saved, it usually takes all resources I have to get finished product. Then I have to scrape up postage costs immediately to properly circulate the material. Luckily, interest in my releases has been enough lately to recoup enough cash initially to use for the postal expenses. It always seems to come together, just sometimes very slowly.
Also in recent years your label is almost exclusively releasing your own material, with the exclusion of the fantastic Megaptera double CD “You Will Never Survive This Nightmare”, which is now around 4 years old. You’ve put out some great items in the past from acts like Psychonaut and Subklinik, why have you chosen not to continue releasing other’s music?
SP: Simply because I don’t feel it is the right thing to do to ask someone to hand over to me something they put hours of heart, soul and time into, only to have it rot away on my shelf until the capital needed to produce it falls into my lap. I will most definitely get back to releases for others if and when I can guarantee that I won’t be making them wait an unreasonable amount of time for their art to surface. If I am into a band enough to want to spread the word by releasing something, the last thing I want to do is harm them by keeping their masterpiece tied up, when it could be out in the world via a more financially sound label. When the Megaptera opportunity came up, I had already every bit of the funds waiting. Peter has stated it was the quickest moving release for the project ever (from production standpoint, not sales I am sure). As soon as the deal was struck, he was paid and the disc was sent directly into production. It was something like 2 months from “shaking hands” to holding a finished copy of the release in hand. That is how I like to operate, and until I am secure that I can operate this way, I will not make offers.
You began the project around the time the Death Industrial genre was at it’s strongest, at least in terms of quality output. Acts like Brighter Death Now, Megaptera, Atrax Morgue, Archon Satani and so on were all in their prime era, and labels like Slaughter Productions, Cold Meat Industry and Dark Vinyl were all home to many great artists and producing some genre defining and classic releases. How do you view the scene of today to that of back then? Is there a noticeable difference as far as the size of the audience for this sub culture as opposed to a decade ago?
SP: Yes, I agree that it is impossible to top the output that the bands you’ve listed where churning out at that time. It was definitely a very exciting time for Death Industrial. The amount of people in the know was way smaller, which lent even more charm to the whole thing. With the growth of the scene over the years, which is quite a significant amount, like anything else it will get a bit watered down. That’s not to say that the current climate isn’t turning out any good acts. Projects like Nyodene D, The Vomit Arsonist, Skin Graft, Sewer Goddess and Cunting Daughters are certainly doing an admirable job carrying the torch!
I was first introduced to Murderous Vision via the ‘Insights To The Profane’ compilation released by Ma Kahru Distribution some 8 years ago. Featured on this compilation was mostly Black Metal bands with a smattering of electronic based projects like Veinke and Subklinik. Did this compilation appearance attract much attention from the Black Metal scene? I know for me personally it helped enlighten me to a sub culture I didn’t know existed at the time…
SP: I can’t really say for sure. I guess so, if that was your first exposure! Hahaha… I know that comp was pretty widely circulated, but I must admit that you are the first to mention it as your gateway to Murderous Vision!
Murderous Vision’s back catalogue somewhat reminds me of that of Brighter Death Now, in that you have covered a wide variety of sounds within the industrial subgenres, from very dark and brooding ambient textures to more menacing moments of pure Death Industrial and everything in between. Which style would you consider yourself to excel at above others, and which is more comfortable for you and fluid in terms of the compositional process?
SP: Wow, that is about as nice of a compliment as one could get! Thanks!!! I hope that they are all equal in terms of quality, the various styles. I just feel differently from time to time, so I write different types of music. I think they are all equally important aspects to the overall whole of the project. I like diversity in art. I like when you can see several different aspects of the composer by what they choose as their output. It keeps things interesting, and shows a wider spectrum. I always want to expand into different fields, and oddly enough, I have always wanted to do a Murderous Vision take on Synth-Pop. So, I expect that even more new ground will eventually be tread upon…
Elsewhere on this site appears an interview I did a couple years ago with Power Electronics act Brethren. Brethren’s vocal talents have appeared on your recordings before (and live performances too if I’m not mistaken?), can you enlighten us as to how this collaboration came to be?
SP: Yes, he has helped out both in the studio, and at least one live performance. He may have done a couple, I can’t remember. I met David back in the days of the great Cleveland venue “Speak In Tongues”. He used to attend most shows, and was a very enthusiastic kid. We had a lot to talk about and became good friends. That lead to him being asked to guest on a few occasions.
Inside the tray card of the “Ghosts Of The Soul Long Lost” Double CD, there is the text “The Ghosts Are All That Remain…For My Soul Is Long Lost Without You” surrounding the portrait of a woman. What is the significance of this and who is the woman depicted?
SP: This album was dedicated to my Mother, who died a few months prior to it’s release in 2005. This her image as a beautiful teenaged girl. I have the same image tattooed over my heart. Not a single day passes without some thoughts of her. She was one of those pockets of warmth I spoke of earlier…
Your thoughts on the affect of the internet, mp3 downloading, myspace and so on?
SP: I have no real problems with people downloading material. Especially stuff that is sold out and this is the only way to hear it. Of course I would like to have people experience the greater whole, by having the packaging in hand to explore the artwork and etc., but on the other hand, if this is the only way to get exposed I feel it is better than nothing. I just hope that if someone downloads, they will eventually buy at least something.
Murderous Vision is/was an active band in the live scenario (or so I get the impression from the flyers and photos I have seen) and you have even performed abroad in Europe. How was the reaction from the European audiences?
SP: It was a great experience! The reaction was very good, some people purchased CDs and T-Shirts after the gigs, so it was effective! I have played more Murderous Vision shows in the last year than likely all other years combined. Here in Cleveland there is a strong network of people putting together great shows. There is something almost every week! There are so many good projects here in Cleveland, so it never seems to get weak having so many shows. A great debt is owed to The Family Chapter crew, who put together the monthly matinee shows under the title “Audio Visual Baptism”. These showcases are always diverse, and include both local and out of town acts. Sometimes they are themed to keep it interesting. They have had All-Female, Acoustic, and Random Collab versions, which were all successful experiments!!!!
The most memorable live performance you’ve played to date?
SP: I would have to say, easily that is would be Prague Industrial Festival. Simply because of locale and being able to be on the bill with some foreign bands that I am greatly influenced by. I don’t think it was the best Murderous performance, but the overall experience was great. Fucking Inade played that festival! I was able to stand in Eastern Europe and watch the greatest Dark Ambient band in existence do their thing, and have my name on the same poster as them. I also must note, playing the Athens Experimental Festival last weekend was great as well. So many friends in one place!!!
You appear to be also busy with a side project Of Swine And Swill, what can you tell us about this other venture you have?
SP: Of Swine and Swill is a project of myself and life-long friend John Potter. We both started playing music together when we were in our early teens. We didn’t see each other for many years after high school, but once our paths crossed again we started making music together. This project was quite a departure for us both, as our styles and influences perfectly met in the middle ground. John is one of the most talented and artistic people I have ever met. It was one of the most rewarding experiences making the album together with him. Plus, we also added our good friend Rick Pflueger to the line-up on a couple tracks, and eventually as a full member. It is a very sentimental one. I think it is one of the best albums I have ever been involved with. I would like to keep the project active, but it is completely up to John. I am not sure where his interest lies at this point, but time will tell!
Future plans for Murderous Vision? I’ve recently read about a new tape coming out on Danver State Recordings. Rumored to be more in the Power Electronics vein, so I’m very eager to hear this one.
SP: Yes, it will be the first ever full length cassette release for Murderous Vision. The release is very lo-fi in nature, so this format will lend well. The sound is a mixture of Power Electronics and very old school Death Industrial. Each track has a different Vocal contribution from several of my friends. It has vocals by Nyodene D, The Vomit Arsonist, Cunting Daughters, Daniel Potter, Mitch of Fascist Insect, Order of Melchizedek, Reichardt van Grieken and myself. It will be available in an edition of 100 in a bag stuffed with inserts! There will be 25 copies that are randomly stuffed with a bonus 3″ DVDr, which is a short film I created for one of the tracks. Also coming soon is the long awaited release of the full length album “Cathartic Drifts in a Sea of Sadness”. I also intend to begin work on reissuing 4 out of print titles in the CD format. I am still unsure if they will surface individually, or in one set. These released are “Suffocate… the Final Breath” (2000), “Catatonic” (2004), “The Waking-State Nightmare” (2005) and “Frozen in Morphia”(2009). More info will be available on these in the near future.
Thanks for the participation in this interview Stephen. This final space is yours to conclude this interview.
SP: Thank you Karl, for the in depth questions, and for the forum to speak my mind! For those interested, here are some web links…