We were pretty clear about how much we liked Heretic Pride when we analyzed the Mountain Goat’s newest offering. “Sign Of The Crow” isn’t on the album, though — it’s a new one Darnielle debuted by his lonesome during a set (some tunes with his band) at the Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston. “These roses, they are the pleasure of the flesh…” Sing about those Saints and sinners, John. (Autostart warning…)
“Of the several things that you have to do today / You’re gonna regret one / This generation asks for a sign / It’s never gonna get one.” As you should have noticed if you watched the video, it was shot by The Boston Phoenix — they have some other songs at their site, including a full-crew “Heretic Pride.” Speaking of which, there’s an interview with Darnielle over at io9 where he discusses some the Sci-Fi content in his songs, including Heretic Pride’s “Lovecraft In Brooklyn.”
IO9: Your new album includes a song about H.P. Lovecraft, “Lovecraft In Brooklyn.” Why should we identify with H.P. Lovecraft’s feelings of alienation and xenophobia during his exile in Red Hook? What about that image appeals to you? In Lovecraft’s case, that alienation leads to all his best speculative horror… do you think xenophobia creates better speculative fiction than xenophilia?
JOHN DARNIELLE: Well the song is not really about Lovecraft — it’s sung by a guy who’s identifying with Lovecraft at his most xenophobic and terrified. Why does that appeal? I think I’m just attracted to hermits in general — to people who don’t feel like they’re part of the world, who have a hard time feeling like they’re really present in the same space as everybody else.
Second part of your question is self-evidently true, the classic trope is Alien Invasion, right, not Aliens Who Are Swell Folks!
It gets especially interesting when they dish on his new 33 1/3 book on Sabbath’s Master Of Reality and ideas of dystopia … and emo.
IO9: Your new book, Master Of Reality, is about a teenager in an adolescent psychiatric care facility explaining his need for his confiscated copy of the Black Sabbath album the way you’d explain “love to an android,” according to the 33 1/3 blog. I’m dying to read it. How far do you pursue this metaphor? Is adult sanity like being an android? Also, the album ends with “Into The Void,” about leaving a doomed Earth for outer space. Do you think people still write songs about this type of escapism from a ruined world? (I can’t think of any recent “we’re leaving Earth” songs, but maybe I’m missing something.)
JOHN DARNIELLE: I think the narrator of the book is saying something that all teenagers know instinctively: that there is something wrong with adults. That, somewhere along the way, the adults lost the plot. Maybe it’s just that they got stressed out by having to pay bills, or maybe it’s just the nature of aging, but from a teenager’s perspective, it looks like aging just strips you of your ability to be reasonable, to be cool, to understand other people. So in that sense, teenagers are living as captives in some colony where the androids have all taken over, and where they’ve made it clear that they intend to turn their captives into androids, too.
I think people prefer to soak in dystopianism more than write about escape the way Ozzy did — and, to be honest, I think it’s posing to focus real hard on “the world is screwed!” tropes. It’s like, every emo and metalcore band thinks they’re the first people to notice that the world is harsh. Good job dudes! Give yourselves a gold star! Meanwhile Ozzy has the courage to dream, to talk about leaving the world and going someplace where everything’s cool, and he sneaks in “the world is screwed” tropes while he’s at it – that’s what makes for a good lyric, I think — that little bit of extra effort.
OK, John, we very much agree, but what to do with a group like this?