MOUTHY ISSUE FOUR
TAPPING THE VEIN
INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER THOMPSON
by Ian C Stewart
How was the recent tour of Europe?
The tour was amazing. I feel very lucky to have been on tour with Paradise Lost and Within Temptation. The crowds there are really receptive...true fans of all kinds of music. It was very different from touring in the US. I never thought I would get the chance to see Europe and I got to see 6 weeks worth. Like I said, I feel pretty lucky. Another really cool part of that tour was NO DRIVING! We were on a tour bus for the first time, sharing with Paradise Lost. We actually got to relax a little bit. All of the US tours that we do involve very long drives in a van. The bands that we open for usually have a tour bus with driver so a ten-hour drive to the next gig is not a problem. For us it's quite dangerous because we only have the band.....no crew to help drive or anything. We are driving on very little sleep. So, leave the gig at 2am, drive straight through to the next town, try to shower in a truck stop or something, find the club, load in, play...drive again. I am NOT complaining.... just stating that it is dangerous. SO, the point of my rambling is that in Europe it was the first time that I could just play and then be driven and possibly get some sleep.
I saw you in Cleveland on the Opeth tour and the crowd seemed very interested in Tapping The Vein. How has the reaction been?
It was a really good tour for us. Almost all the shows were sold out, etc. I think we are different enough maybe..? that people can find something that they like...? maybe a little..? Luckily, we usually have a good response..... you have the few armchair guitar players that are too cool to respond... but you get that at any gig.
I was glad to see Paradise Lost, though I think their set went over everyone's heads.
Uh, yeah... I would have to say that some people were not getting it. Paradise Lost did have their share of fans at these gigs BUT the Opeth fans were pretty vocal at times so it was hard to tell. Paradise Lost is VERY big in Europe and has been for 14 years but a lot of the US doesn't not know who they are. And the ones that do know who they are may not know how they have changed over the years. They used to be VERY death metal so maybe that's what people thought they would see. Their live set is a nice mix of old and new, I think. The Opeth audience was looking for ALL METAL ALL NIGHT. Too bad. Anyway, this is a respect issue for me. These kids that come and disrespect have no idea how hard it is to make a living at this. We can't make a living at it over here...probably never will. But guess what? Paradise Lost actually makes a living at this.!!! This all they do and all they have EVER had to do. So, "F" the US audience if they don't get it. I am sure Paradise Lost doesn't give a toss. For us , I would say it was a tough crowd. Tougher in some cities. Overly rude, even in some cities. Rude to us and rude to Paradise Lost, as well. I guess I thought that some of the Opeth fans would be....what's the right word... more mature? that sounds nice. I thought they would be more mature! So, for the 990 mature listeners you have 10 idiots screaming Slayer! ... When we played The House of Blues in Chicago, I was selling our merch, like usual, while Opeth was playing ...and some idiot actually yelled Slayer! while OPETH was on. See, that's just stupid. Yeah, dude you are SO FUNNY!!! and SO cool! I got a LOT of email in reponse to that tour. In every single one people were apologizing for the others in the crowd. Really! Stuff like, "I was at the _____ show and I cannot tell you how sorry I am for the idiots in the crowd that night......" and "don't worry that guy that was screaming at you got his head punched in.!" ... Even if they were writing with a question for the band, they woudl end the letter with "PS sorry about the crowd." ....No big deal.... just a respect thing.
Is there anything you're feeling particularly mouthy about at the moment?
hmmmm...think I just mouthed off enough on the last one.
How is the current label situation working out?
Fine so far. Getting ready to record the new CD soon. Hoping we can get it done and out by spring.
Will there be a DVD of your stuff?
Not sure. If the label funds something like that..then I guess so! But the band itself is flat broke. FLAT broke.
Where are your biggest markets?
We sell pretty steadily. Not in any one area...which is good. That gets us on tours becasue we have interest around and not just in Philly or New York, for example..... We sold a lot of CDs during the tour of Europe. We were happy about that.
What's the biggest audience you've played to?
Hmmm. well, we played the Zillo Festival in Germany last summer. There were thousands and thousands in general but they were not necessarily in front of us while we played. So, I would have to say that a show we opened for the Sisters of Mercy here in Philadelphia was the biggest. Most densely populated, anyway..
What's your favorite place to play live?
I honestly don't have a favorite. When you are on our level, you tend to judge gigs by whether the place has a decent sound system and engineer... you know, whether the house guy knows what he is doing, etc....You see, we can't afford to travel with our own sound guy. So, I could say to you I love playing the Grape Street Pub because the guy knows what he's doing and the owner's cool and lets us drink. So, that's my level right now back home. WHen we were in Europe it was like, "oh, they have hot water AND a payphone???" It's all relative!!!
Band anecdotes you'd like to share?
You know, it seems you can't tell a story without getting someone in trouble. I have good stories, trust me, but they really don't translate well over e-mail... In person! then I could entertain you!
Do you have obsessive fans and if so are they a pain in the ass or is it not that big of a deal?
Funny that I am answering this now! I have been dealing with this subject all week Let me make sure I say this correctly.... I love to hear from fans and I love to meet fans....friends of the band is what I like to call people. Ufortunately, there are some delusional people in the world. Having yourself out there for public access can be a problem. So, you just have to be careful. I could tell you some stories right now about this subject but it would only agitate a current "situation" so I will not expand any further. !!
What do you think about the current state of music in general - is it better or worse now (or the same)?
It all sucks. Really, that's what I think.
Are there any other bands that we haven't mentioned that you're excited by?
There were a few bands in the last couple of years that I really liked the first album but not the next....SO, I'll pass on this question too,.... I think it must be hard to have longevity....so, I don't judge!
What's next for the band?
We are writing the second full length now. Pretty well into it at this point and hoping to finish quickly so that we can start to tour again. Just want to say thanks to everyone that has been supporting us. We really do appreciate it.
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