Emerging from the shadows
Crüxshadows were the surprise success of Dark Jubilee with their impressive stage performance; frontman Rogue discusses the development and influences in their sound as well as some of the attacks on Goth culture in the US.
Crüxshadows are on the verge of major changes with the release of their new album "Wishfire". Commercial success is looking more likely, as the very positive response to their live points to good album sales. Following on from the dance music elements they brought in with the remixes on the "Paradox Addendum" mini-album, the live debuts of their new tracks show them having more in common with the futurepop scene than the Goth scene. Rogue counters claims that the band has become more electronic by pointing out that they're using the same instrumentation.
"I've never had a drum-kit, I've never had a bass player - guitar and violin, with keyboards, drum machines and synthesiser base, that's been my recipe from the very beginning and I'm still using that same recipe without any deviation. And so, I think the difference in our sound has to do more with me opening up to new different styles of music."
He gives the example of hip-hop scratches on "Paradox Addendum" as an innovation. He says he likes to keep doing new things to avoid being limited by their past. On the other hand, the Crüxshadows do have a unique sound of their own and Rogue feels there's a limit to new elements he can add to the mix. "I don't want to deviate too much from that, so it's a bit of keeping it the same and a bit of changing things at the same time."
Their newly acquired futurepop tag doesn't bother him either, nor is he concerned about any other label like Goth, EBM, electro or industrial that might be put on them. As far as he's concerned, they are the Crüxshadows and they do what the Crüxshadows do. He's happy enough for the fans and the critics to determine their category.
"It's not really my problem, I'm interested in creating music that I really like, that I think our fans will really like and, if it fits those criteria, I can't really worry about the title. I love a lot of different music and I'm just glad people are listening enough to make a decision that we belong in this category or that."
The mythological themes that infused their last album, "The Mystery of the whisper", continue on "Wishfire". In fact, the album named after the guardian angel, one of the characters who plays a part in their archetypal stories, drawing on Egyptian, Greek and Judaeo-Christian symbols. These symbols are influenced by Rogue's personal love for ancient history and mythology.
"I personally love Egyptology and much of my spare time is spent studying and learning about what I can from ancient Egyptian history, as well as ancient history and spirituality in general. I really don't care to be linked to a lot of the satanic stuff, because it all seems really silly to me. I think that part of our music emphasizes a stronger moral character, at least in some aspects of thought."
Gothic culture has come under renewed attack recently, with some even claiming that the scene's use of Egyptian symbolism shows a level of anti-Semitism. Rogue dismisses this as ridiculous, putting forward the scholarly view that the Jews that left Egypt were the worshippers of Akhenaten, who introduced monotheism to Egypt. This view, popular as part of a Christian revival 50 or 60 years ago, points to the linguistic similarity between the name of Akhenaten's god, Aton-Ra, and the Hebrew term for Lord, Adonai.
"The truth of the matter is that you can take any symbol and make it into anything else. If my understanding is correct, the swastika is not a particularly racist symbol, but because of the Nazis of the 1930s and 1940s, who used the symbol and were very anti-Semitic, the symbol became anti-Semitic. Similarly, in the United States, the Confederate flag was not a racist symbol, but 100 years after the war was fought, racists used this flag and people associate it with racism. Unfortunately, you can turn any symbol into one that it is not."
Rogue's opinion is that Goth culture becomes a focus of attack because Goths make easy targets, mainly because they have no major aspect of the media on their side. He points to the way heavy metal received the same kind of attention when it was new, as did hip hop and rap when the major labels wanted nothing to do with them. Because Goth has no money behind it, there's no power.
"I think it's a way of isolating a group of people and pointing a finger and I think it's unfortunately a normal thing to do, to point a finger at whatever the most obvious blame might go to. We are visible and so they blame us. I think one of the problems is that these groups in America, fundamentalist Christians and very right wing extremists, I think, to some extent, they have been persecuted themselves. The problem is when they get into power and they have control, then they want to eliminate all that is not themselves. I think this is a problem, especially in a country like America that is built fundamentally on the idea that diversity is what makes us who we are."
On a less serious note, if, like me, you wondered whether Rogue's name had anything to do with character in the X-Men, it doesn't. A young member of the Goth/punk scene in Jacksonville, Florida, fifteen years ago, called "Bear" by his parents and bearing the same name as his father, his father's father and his father's grandfather before him (and so on in a family tradition) needed a better tag, being tall and thin and not quite bear-like. His friend decided "Rogue" was a better nickname for the young troublemaker and it stuck.
"As far as any association with the X-Men, there is no association. People have introduced me to the comic book character and if I had to be associated with any character, I think she's pretty cool, although I have to say the movie was pretty… I don't have any ties to Rogue of the X-Men, no."
by Girl the Bourgeois Individualist