York Goth 2-piece act Mary and The Ram present their guide to Goth on Valentine’s Day (printed below- scroldown please) , to coincide with the release of their debut video The Cross.
They have collaborated with legendary producer John Fryer (Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails) on their debut single The Cross, taking influence from Nick Cave, Nine Inch Nails & Bauhaus, The Cross and B-Side The Dream enshroud the listener in a sparse, noir atmosphere of reverberating percussion, subterranean beats and a foreboding vocal delivery.
It’s very good and you will be heaing a lot more about them on this website. More info on the band below.
But first Mary and The Ram talk about their track, ‘The Cross’
‘I (Kiran) wrote The Cross whilst listening to samples, to a loop, on the way to work, as I passed an evangelical church. Evangelists don’t do confessions, they don’t have a mechanism for forgiveness, that I’m aware of. I don’t have a god from whom to receive forgiveness, but I realised that I don’t have a mechanism for confession either. I’m not going to talk about my other relationships in a write-up, but sometimes it’s the relationships we have with ourselves that we forget to expose, explore and exploit. Sometimes we have to have rituals to pour them out, and to find a peace with who we are, and the things we’ve done – to others and to ourselves. I tried this and it failed. But in trying it, I found that I could tell you about me, and where I am at, and how I feel about who I am in relation to the things and people that I love, and maybe that is enough, in a way. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe the Cross is a cry for help. If it is, it isn’t expecting any answers… Well I hope that wasn’t romantic enough for you.’
Kiran’s picks (vocals, synths, guitars, keys and production):
‘Dom went fresh (with the exception of Reznor but I’m gonna throw him a bone on this anyway – not that he needs one) and I’m going old school.
Sisters of Mercy – Dominion / Mother Russia
So it doesn’t get much more old school Goth than this. A broiling, fever dream, from somewhere between Leeds and Dresden – there’s a reason this eight minute epic is built around the Shelly poem, Ozymandius. You know, “Look upon my works ye mighty and despair…” Because whatever you do, and everyone you love, and every monument you build to them, and no matter how obsessively you protect that in life; once you’re gone, it’s all going to crumble away, and all that will be left is a ruin, in an empire of dirt. Now that’s what I call anti-valentines… Your relationships are going to fade to nothing. And it’s got an incredible sax solo.’
Nine Inch Nails – This Isn’t The Place
Well we all saw this coming – but maybe not this track. I bet you thought it was going to be The Perfect Drug. Nope. That’s far too romantic. We’re talking anti-love here people! So if you’ve not checked in with the latest things to fall out of big daddy Reznor’s award machine, you should. This single was so moving that I had to pull over and cry on the A1(M). I’m being deadly serious. Mostly it’s just noises, but the one verse it packs is a perfect lament to missed opportunities, and a chance for love, come too late. It’s like auditory Twin Peaks. It’s something you imagine Reznor whispered in the bathroom at Bowie’s funeral. It’s so mournful, and there’s such a depth of absence beneath it, that it makes me want to be sick. Consume responsibly, and don’t stop on the motorway.
Puscifer – The Undertaker
“Thank you for making me feel like I’m guilty – making it easier to murder your sweet memory. But I’m not going to be the one who kills you, no, I’ll just leave that up to you.” What’s that? Is it Panic at the fucking Disco? Nope. It’s Maynard from Tool (and those other bands he’s in), and he’s is dropping in with an electro-gothic powerhouse, out of nowhere, full of bitter, growling vocals that sounds rather like Marilyn Manson’s entire career – because Keenan’s just that goddamn versatile. And it’s attached to his incredible record V is for Vagina, with the inimitable Puscifer. Why’s it anti-valentines? Have a listen. It becomes extremely obvious, extremely quickly. Also, on the surface, it’s about burying your ex (or should I say late) lover. So…
Saul Williams – No One Ever Does
You don’t get many hip hop artists on Goth lists, but you should. Hip hop and its grandiose, death driven obsessions with miserable love lives and precarious glory is about as gothic as it gets. Saul Williams work speaks for itself… “Oh, no one ever does. Oh, no one ever does. Suddenly, who I thought was me, was not me at all, and I feel so small, sitting way beneath, who I want to be – I don’t want to be, who I’ve grown to be. Oh, only if, I might somehow riff, on the way before, let it be some more, lift me from this floor, if I can’t walk I’ll crawl, to love. Oh, no one ever does. No one ever does.” That’s a man breaking himself apart, on love. The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust is one of the most important industrial, hip hop and Goth albums of the last twenty eight years and you should download it, throw it into some decent headphones and start dancing. Right now.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Do you Love Me, Parts One and Two
Nick Cave is the authority on shitty relationships and probably their most effective living biographer. Admittedly he seems to generate them himself… He’s a fucking wonderful, dirty, love-struck poet. And his characters are almost all miserable, narcissistic assholes. That’s the golden ratio I suppose. “She was given to me to put things right. She was given to me to put things right, and I stacked all my accomplishments beside her; still I seemed so obsolete and small, I found god and all his devils inside her. In my bed she cast the blizzard out, a mock sun blazed upon her head; so completely filled with light she was; her shadow fanged, and hairy and mad. I knew from the moment we met that I would lose her, I made every effort not to abuse her; crazy bracelets on her wrists and her ankles, and the bells in the chapel go jingle, jangle.” Has anyone written so well about their fucked up love life, or the sexual abuse of a little boy, quite like Cave?
The Dresden Dolls – Truce
Has anyone ever written a more dramatic thing than Amanda Palmer comparing the collapse of her love life (and the looming breakup of her band) than this – a song that compares the band to Germany after the Second World War, and divorcing parents to Nine Eleven? Nah. It’s a beautiful song, and – along with Perfect Fit and the Jeep Song, both from the same album – it’s a testament to Palmer’s ability to deliver brutally upsetting songs about the persistence of loss. And check out the band’s cover of War Pigs – Brian’s drumming is absolutely incredible.
Placebo – English Summer Rain
Sometimes I forget how fucking solid Placebo’s lyric-writing is. A true pre-cursor to the oversaturated mess that was emo, it’s dark and sore and mysterious and hung over and getting high all over again at six in the morning… It’s what Trainspotting would sound like if it was about a bunch of love-struck, queer teenagers. And I love it. And it loves to make me hurt. Good date music… Assuming your date likes climbing into ket holes and talking about their suicide attempts in damp vegan cafes. “Always stays the same – nothing ever changes, English summer rain, seems to last for ages. I’m in the basement, you’re in the sky, I’m in the basement, drop on by – and hold your breath and count to ten, then fall apart and start again… Start again, start again.”
Marilyn Manson – Valentine’s Day
Shocker. But here it is. Of course. You got your flood motifs, your ironic, iconic teenage wrist slitting imagery, your anti-christian mythos and your appetite for abortions. Okay so I picked the track for its name, when what I’m really trying to say is go and revisit the album. It’s better than you remember. Strip off, put your eye shadow on, tuck it, or grab a strap-on, and get to crying. I remember being a teenager… That’s what everyone else did while listening to Marilyn Manson, right? Er… Right? He’s a man who hates love (no he doesn’t) and loves hate (probably true), and he was, for the longest time, the black mirror held up to western self-interest – an inescapable, anti-valentine superstar.
Eminem – Stan
Don’t you tell me it’s not gothic. It’s about a man drowning his girlfriend in a storm because his crush, a rockstar who won’t and can’t give shit about his wellbeing, doesn’t have time for him. But it’s really about a rockstar, who doesn’t have time to give his fans the love he wishes he could. Someone wearing the albatross of his own Faustian deal with the devil, for success, and escape from his past. Everyone’s a monster, except the drowning woman and her drowning baby. And if that’s not Shakespeare, and it’s not Goth, then neither is Edgar Allan Poe. Also, hey, there’s Dido!
Dom’s picks (drums, drum machines and samples):
Binary – All That Ever Was
This band toured with Marilyn Manson in Europe a few years back, before later going on to become Keroscene, and they fucking rule. This is one of the most bleak, saddest songs I’ve heard, and to me, that makes it fucking awesome. “Love is a razorblade, my friend…” You’ll want to cry all over that box of Valentine’s chocolates you bought yourself after listening to this, baby.
OFFICERS – Another Long Year
One of my favourite bands, also from York – they did some touring with Gary Numan, and Placebo a few years back – they write a lot of dark electro-rock stuff, and it’s fucking immense. I know some of the background behind this song, and it makes it a lot sadder now. I take it as a sort of dark love song that’s an ode to a relationship that you want to fight for, whether that’s the right or wrong thing to do. We’ve all been there.
Empathy Test – ‘Losing Touch’
This is a song that resonates for me quite heavily – these guys make really awesome, emotive synth driven stuff, and I know a lot of goths that really dig them at the moment. To me, it’s about being in love with someone, and you’re both trying to move on. But, really you’re still in love. There’s something really dark, and sad about that. Again, a nice one for Valentine’s!
Kapitan Korsakov – ‘In The Shade Of The Sun’
“You look like summer, wouldn’t dare to survive you…” – how Goth is that? Haha! Na, this is a just a beautiful noise-rock track, if nothing else, the sonics are fucking stunning; this one builds and builds. Listen all the way through, and I hope it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, as it did for me.
Acumen Nation – ‘Parasite Mine’
A full-on industrial smash in the face to toxic fucking people who use you. I mean, I’m pretty sure this isn’t a love song, but it’s definitely could be a love anti-anthem. “I’ll take a minute here to tell you. To cut the cord and pull the plug. Getting weaker by the second. Watching you saturate my love..” – use this as a motivator, as a…errr, angry energy to get over any fucking prick that’s wronged you. It’s a proper banger, for sure.
Tigercub – ‘Control’
This one, as you can imagine is about control (in my opinion, at least), and a lot of the songs on my list are, as I’ve been in a tonne of controlling relationships – and you’re both fighting, unknowingly, for the control. You want it to work, you’re desperate for it, but it’s never going to unless you can get on the same page. Tigercub are also one of my favourite bands in the UK right now, and they’ve got some class dark alt-rock tunes. I’ve no doubt this will cater to (a good few) fans of Goth, and rock sounds.
“Inside I’m fighting, but it’s not enough. Dying to survive in a life we’ve both denied for so long.”
Cannibal Animal – ‘I Feel Alive’
“Manipulation is your game…” – killer post-punk from Hull, and definitely not a love song, but I know fans of energetic post-punk will dig this. Honestly though, rocking out to this in the car definitely got me through some dark shit a couple of Valentine’s Days ago when I was just getting out of my longest, and most intense relationship just because of the pure vitriol in the words, and the delivery so it’s going on here. It’s a fucking rager, mate.
Fangclub – ‘Animal Skin’
“Cover me in Your animal skin Bleeding me out, I’m letting you in..” – okay, this has the anthemic quality of Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’, but it’s much darker, so I’m putting it on my Goth songs list, because I can’t be fucked to push loads of self-involved PVC-wearing wankers who write songs about fucking everybody else in their ‘scene’, and how good they look in a pair of over-priced steampunk goggles – that’s not very dark, or miserable, is it? Aaaaanyway, to me, again, it’s about giving yourself over to someone, and how beautiful, and/or destructive that can be. Hopefully, people that appreciate awesome, brooding tunes will dig this one.
Losers – I Never Got To Say Goodbye
Just a beautifully done, heart-wrenching track, told by some of the best (and coolest) musicians in the UK – Losers features some mates of mine, and members of Cooper Temple Clause, IAMX, yourcodenameis:milo and radio’s nicest dude, Eddy Temple-Morris. Stunning stuff. Oh, they toured with Sisters of Mercy too, in Europe so you can’t doubt the Goth pedigree there!
Nine Inch Nails – Reptile
I have used this song as catharsis a lot this year, and maybe to Trent it means something different. To me, it’s about someone who sucks the life out of people for their own benefit, but they’re so addictive, so manipulative that it’s hard to get away. Are love and addiction, one and the same sometimes at least? I’m not sure, but one thing’s for sure – this song made me angry and it motivated me to feel better. So Happy Fucking Valentine’s Day, you absolute cockwomble.
Have A Nice Life – Bloodhail
Man, this is probably the darkest track I’ve ever listened to, besides that Binary tune. It’s not really a love song, but it’s one for those long and lonely nights for the rest of the year. Fuck Valentine’s Day, guys. Get bleak, and stay bleak all year round.