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Canadian Nivek Ogre, the mastermind behind cult industrial icons Skinny Puppy, now performs under the moniker OhGR with former Skinny Puppy member Mark Walks. OhGR is like a darker, less explosive (literally) continuation of Skinny Puppy. If you donned green tights and black eye shadow to Skinny Puppy shows, you’ll be happy to know that you can keep the wardrobe and makeup. OhGR still maintains the jangling-rusted-chain-in-the-alleyway aesthetic that drove you out of your bedroom lair in the ‘80s. Check them out Sunday at Rock and Roll Hotel to promote their newest release, Devils in My Details.
OhGR took a few minutes with Black Plastic Bag to talk about the new album, industrial, and mainstream culture.
Is it hard for you to establish an independent voice for OhGR? Do you ever wish you could transcend the legacy of Skinny Puppy?
That’s what this project is about in a lot of ways. I try to dig back to the things I loved about Skinny Puppy while addressing my personal needs. You know, there’s such great expectations with Skinny Puppy. I’m always trying to fulfill that. The spectacle becomes dwarfed by today’s standards. It’s much more difficult to parlay a certain visual expectation, because in the ‘80s we could use high tech machines and pyrotechnics. Skinny Puppy was largely misinterpreted. Everyone thought we were that satanic Eskimos of the North, well, at least to most mainstream people, in pop culture. But Skinny Puppy was just a way for me to explore things that terrify my personally. OhGR is more of a fantasy world for myself. We still deal with dark concept. I always will explore dark projects and dig into embryonic dark channels.
Can you say anything about Devils in My Details?
It was therapeutic. It is one of my favorite projects of my entire career. It’s definitely some of the my blackest material.
Your lyrics have sometimes been fiercely political on past projects. Where there any specific issues you sought to comment on for this album?
One of the strongest issues for me is the idea of outward appearances. it’s a two-fold condition. The outward appearance is an illusion of the inward manifestation. I think the biggest revelations I’ve had in my life were found living in the US. Especially the idea of freedom. I’m allowed to exist to support the premise of freedom in a country. At times I sometimes see myself as a shepherd to kids who could become dissident. I don’t know if I’m doing a service or a disservice.
How do you feel about industrial today, the scene, the music, its development?
I’m kind of far removed from it. The spirit of industrial music was lost quite a long time ago. The original idea for industrial music was just a category for abstract ideas and abstract music. The American embrace of industrial was an hybrid of industrial and metal. The idea of industrial music was, well, it didn’t matter what you used. Glass in your cupboard or a rat running across your floor. For me, OhgR is not a way to reinvent that idea, but just trying to be open to anything. I think industrial music became a fashion statement. You had to dress a certain way. The arpeggios had to sound the same. It kind of signed its own death. It didn’t allow itself to extend the way it was intended to.
Do you think the tone of your music is fitting for Washington? Do you think your live performances have more resonance in specific locales?
Yeah, to a certain degree. We were doing a theatric bit where I came out as a soilder and two hooded soldiers came up behind me. The soldiers decapitated me, and when they took of their hoods they were Bush and Cheney. We got called unpatriotic and anti-American. Ohio tried to stop us from using fake blood on stage. They said we couldn’t use fake blood because it’s sticky. I asked them what was in their drink mixers, and of course corn syrup was in them. Well, that’s all that was in our blood. We haven’t played Ohio since then. But I think Washington has a lot of malcontents, and that’s who we appeal to.