Ahead of their brief Australian tour – which kicks off in Melbourne tonight, I caught up with Danalogue the Conqueror (aka Dan Leavers), who plays synthesiser in The Comet is Coming, to talk about their visit, the apocalypse – the dark one who will not be named – and much more:
Your debut Channel The Spirits is inspired by the apocalypse. Following recent political events, how much closer do you think we’ve come to an actual apocalypse?
…well today it was announced that the hand on the Doomsday Clock has been placed closer to midnight…after the actions of one human who will remain un-uttered, the dark one, you know who I mean.
Apocalypse is something that has occupied the minds of humans probably forever, each generation and each civilisation has feared the end of life as we know it (like chieftain Vitalstatistix in the Asterix books who’s only fear was “that the sky may fall on his head tomorrow”)
It’s worth remembering there was the cold war not that long ago, and going back further into history there have been times like in the great plague where a mass extinction was far more likely, looking back further entire advanced civilisations have crumbled, the Minoans in Crete, the Olmecs in Mexico, the Khmer Empire in Cambodia, shrouded in the mystery of time but probably down to environmental, health or economic reasons.
Looking back further, the impact crater in the Yukatan Peninsula in Mexico is theorised to be the place where the asteroid hit that wiped the dinosaurs off the face of the planet. The fact is that while life is so strong, so tenacious, so vibrant, it is also so fragile, so tenuous, so fleeting. Right now we are in a period of intensity, what I believe to be an equal balance of extreme positives and negatives in all parts of life.
Did real world events inspire this direction in the first place, or were you simply intrigued by the concept musically?
As an artist, it is part of your role to reflect the times you are in, the consciousness of your generation and the spirit of your community, some do this consciously and explicitly, others do it implicitly and sub consciously. Most of what we do would be placed in the latter category, this group and its ethos were not premeditated, but channeled from an unknown source.
As time grows closer to the present the number of new occurrences, events, inventions, scientific advances, increases exponentially, the amount of activity on the planet grows increasingly more vibrant, and I think in part this is the energy we reflect in our sound. Also, as history shows all times to be a horror story, littered with brutal tragedy after nightmare, we too are alive in a time of hyper awareness of problems we are ill-equipped to change, so part of the raging power of the apocalypse encapsulates the force of power we require as humans to best protect ourselves from the oppressor in all its forms.
You’ve spoken at length about the influence of Sun Ra on yourselves and this project, but who else in the genre has inspired you – both in terms of the artists you grew up with and your contemporaries who are giving new life to the genre?
In terms of influence, its so wide and varied now, and comes so sub consciously that its hard to quantify into particular artists or genres. Part of the mass complexificaton we are seeing in the bifurcation of musical sub genres is an expression of the next level of evolution of consciousness, and the extraordinary level of information absorption from the internet. We are all huge fans of Pharaoh Sanders music, as it expresses the primacy of emotion or technicality, Shabaka is into 2Pac, Betamax is into Can and Danalogue is into Mort Garson.
Your pseudonyms are wonderful, and actually how I first heard of you (who *wouldn’t* read something about “Danalogue the Conqueror”?). Were there any names that were left on the cutting room floor so to speak?
Our names actually came to us in a divine revelation after a particularly ecstatic show in Belgium and were written in full immediately – none left on the cutting room floor!
How does a Comet is Coming live show compare to our experience on record? Is the approach free-form or will we recognise some of our favourite moments from Channel The Spirits / Prophecy? ie what can fans expect in your upcoming Australian shows?
Live we reinterpret our recordings, as they are only in a state of becoming at the time of recording in the studio, they are in a constant state of flux and have open moments where anything can and will happen.
And what are *you* expecting from your visit to Australia?
To get sunburn! It’s never as hot as it gets in Australia in the UK, so this is very welcome for us coming from a bleak midwinter in London, England.
After your Australian shows, what is planned for the band in 2017?
We have a new EP coming out on in a few months – you’ll hear more about that soon! We also come back to this part of the world in June for a show in Wellington, New Zealand, and have an extensive tour of the UK in March and May.
We have more touring with our other groups, Shabaka and the Ancestors (King Shabaka), and Soccer96 (Danalogue & Betamax). We are recording a new full length LP this year too, hopefully to release early 2018.
The Comet is Coming play the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne tonight and Sydney Festival tomorrow, 28th January. For tickets and more details head HERE.
Channel The Spirits is available now.
Photo: Fabrice Bourgelle