Cruel months and dim cats – interview with Tony Wakeford (SOL INVICTUS)

interview by stark & Grzegorz Siedlecki

I don’t like writing introductions to interview. Sometimes it takes me more time than the whole translation. In this case I take the easy way and immiedately invite you to this interview, because I guess I don’t have to present Tony Wakeford and Sol Invictus, do I?

Do you remember what drove you to be the musician, and not for instance an accountant or pub owner?

Well, I remember miming with a ruler to the radio as a child (well 32) and I was better at that then anything else.

I was always wondering – you were guys (I mean you, Douglas etc) members of punk scene. Anger, rebellion, dirty sound… and yet at some point you decide to drop electric guitars, take acoustic ones, other instruments and play in more crafted and melodic way (instead to go furhter and further in that revolting punk direction). I’m talking purely about music, not lyrics etc. Is it that famous “growing up” or did it just come naturally?

Well, for me, after DIJ and when I got back into wanting to record and play it was a matter of the bass not being the best, for me anyway, instrument to compose with. So I went into town and brought an acoustic guitar. So this may have had something to do with it amongst other things.

“The Cruellest Month”… What’s the origin of the title of this album?

The first line in T.S. Elliots “The Waste Land”. One of my favorite poems

“The Cruellest month” was released after a pretty long break and it coincided with these beautiful reissues of your older records. And honestly speaking even having original editions I would still want to have these new, fancy ones. What was the reason of renewing your discography in that way?

Well, Prophecy contacted me out of the blue about re-releasing Sol Invictus CD’s. I asked which one, and they said all of them! And so it proved. It was a huge relief. It was impossible to keep the back catalog in stock and if you farm them out you find quality control and getting paid is always an issue. Prophecy did a lovely job with the cd’s and it left me freer to concentrate on other important things like Plants Vs Zombies and Angry Birds.

How do you find your earlier records today, especially the ones considered by people as “classics”? Do you think “The Cruellest Month” will join them someday?

I hope so but that is for others to decide.

Every musician always says that his last album is the most important, most mature, simply the best one. So I’d like to ask you which – in your opinion – Sol Invictus album contains the best songs, but excluding “The Cruellest Month”?

“In The Rain”

And on which of them you wrote the best lyrics (again excluding “The Cruellest Month”)?

“In the Rain”/”In A Garden Green”

This question you may find a bit weird, but.. Are you happy with life these days? Or do you still feel some kind of rebellion or disappointment with the modern world?

Less unhappy. But health issues arising from a misspent everything make things a tad tedious. This is no ones fault but my own so…..

Tony Wakeford as a composer/musician/textwriter 20 years ago and Tony Wakeford as a composer/ musician/textwriter today – could you compare these two individuals?

Thinner more hair and more gullible

Do you feel you still have anything to prove as a musician? Do you still have any goals to reach or do you play or compose new songs just for fun?

No and No… Fun? Never!

Tursa seems to be less active these days than before. Do you have any publishing plans regarding your label?

It is the anti-thesis of active. Apart from an occasional project from me that is. The last couple of releases were a disaster. Sorry, Cold Spring. The compilation had some great music and artists. However, it had some that I now wish had not been included. It was underwhelming sales wise. It should have been a single album for a start. Also it is now so easy for artists to put out a cd. Selling it is a different matter, but I really could not offer much more then what artists can do themselves. Not enough to deserve a % of the sale price anyway.

Is there anything related to Sol Invictus and its history that you particularly regret?

Better guitar, sound and playing on ATMW and JOTS. Not going with my instinct and sacking a couple of people years before I did….

Grey Force Wakeford’s album ‘Marble Heart’ was one of the highlights of 2008. Is there any chance we will listen to a follow-up of the release?

Nothing planned. But who knows. That said it gets more and more dispiriting when what I consider good releases like this and “What If” basically disappear without trace.

Sol Invictus have stopped working with Andrew King (who had been in my opinion a very characteristic and valuable addition to the band). Whose decision was it? Can you explain the reasons behind that decision?

Andrew was indeed a very positive addition. I get the credit cudos (occasionally) for Sol Invictus but it means the buck stops with me when decisions have to be made. I sometimes make the right ones… and sometimes…

You were involved in Triple Tree project – “Ghosts” concept was based on M. R. James works. I’d like to ask you about this writer and why he became your inspiration – you have few other classic supernatural stories writers like for instance Arthur Machen or Algernon Blackwood.

I just remember falling in love with them as soon as Tibet introduced the books to me. Although I had loved his work without knowing it. A BBC adaptation of Room 13 gave me nightmares as a child.

Are you content with the way PREcordings reissued ‘Eleven’ by L’Orchestre Noir? How come there are pauses between the tracks and whose fault is it?

Um……..not mine.

Do you still find anything new, fresh and interesting on the scene which you were once father of?

No, but then I never hardly ever listen to anything new. I’m only just catching up with the Tiger Lilies and Steve Wilson! Apart from a few honorable exceptions I find the little I see and hear often anemic and derivative. As for all these Pope cuddlers, National half wits and NazisRUS crap, pass the sick bag.

How do you find todays musical creations of Death In June and Current 93? Do you like the way both projects look/sound/work today?

Both are creative forces which I am very glad are still producing but I am totally out of touch with the more recent releases. Moving quickly on…..

One of the albums released under your own name was “Not All Of Me Will Die” based on the poems by Polish/Jew poet Zuzanna Ginczanka. There was always kind of ideological ambiguity around many neofolk artists (including you). What was so enchanting in Ginczanka’s poems that you decided to dedicate her your album? Was there any apart the one purely artistic?

It was a kind of synchronicity as I was planning to do a release for a Polish charity, which in the end never happened but it meant I did research. I wanted there to be a Polish connection. One evening I dragged myself away from puppies and Lesbian porn long enough to discover one of her poems in an obscure corner of the net. And fell in love with them, and a bit with what little is known of her. Ironically some of them would be seen as suspect nowadays by some because of her patriotism and imagery. She was pretty, Jewish and the stalinists hated her. What’s not to like, already!

Do you have any other artistic or personal memories/connections with Poland? As far as I remember you’ve never played in my country.

I have played but not as Sol Invictus [whoops, my mistake – Stark]. Memories include some of the best beer and undoubtedly the very worst vegetarian meal I have ever “tasted”. Most of the Polish people I have met have been a credit to your country. One close friend has a Polish wife who is lovely. How he managed that I will never know. Some awful Norwegian blackmail/ human trafficking scam, I fear.

Your latest activity was taking part in “No Red Seas” compilation – could you tell few words about “No Red Seas” and perhaps encourage someone to donate few dollars for this?

Lesley Malone (http://www.bibliothequenoir.com/), who is tub thumper and video thingy for Sol Invictus was disgusted, as was I, about the slaughter that goes on in the Faroe Isles amongst other places. Unlike me she decided to do something about it. I was, and am very proud to be part of it, as should all the artists who contribute and those who have kindly brought it. If you have not…..
http://noredseas.bandcamp.com/

What can we expect from you in 2012?

Some live Sol Invictus dates where we will be playing some tracks in progress for the next Sol album on Prophecy in 2013. Provisionally titled “The Devils Year?” I’m working with M on an album based on Hogarth and should be playing with a live project, Twa Corbies, which is moi and horrible hun, Gernot Munsch. It is a sort of Simon & Garfunkel (Sarcy & Carbuncle) version of my solo and sol misery oeuvre.

Thank you Tony for the interview. If you would like to add anything, you can do it here.

Please buy my music via Prophecy, Discogs, Banndcamp and Reverbnation. I have a dim cat, gay parrots and a loud wife to put up with. Every little will help!

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