danmilligan

Two Sides of the Story: Remixing Chris Connelly

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2019 at 6:56 am
Sleeping Partner artworkEarlier this year I made the decision to actively pursue opportunities to do remixing for other artists. The recent successful launch of The Joy Thieves had suddenly expanded my professional circle quite a bit, so it just felt like the right time to make a real effort to let other artists know that I was ready and available to do remix work.
One of the very first musicians I contacted was Chris J Connelly, who many will know from his solo work, as well as his time spent in bands like Ministry, Pigface, Revolting Cocks, FiniTribe, The Damage Manual, Cocksure, etc. etc. etc. I’ve been a fan of his work as a musician, a poet, and an author for many years now…and since we had co-written and recorded a few songs together for The Joy Thieves and Drownbeat, reaching out to him seemed like a perfect way to get started. So I did. And to my surprise, he responded immediately.
He told me he was going to be releasing a solo album later in the year, and that he would love to hear how I might reinterpret one of those songs. A few short hours later, I had them all loaded into my iTunes, and I was ready to take them in for the very first time.
Chris: When he told me he wanted to do remixes for other artists, I said ‘Oh REALLY?? Well, have at it!!!’ And I handed him a couple of the most abstract, non linear, perfectly arrangement-free pieces I had composed in recent years. ‘Verses & choruses are for complete LOSERS!’ I sneered, and with a maniacal laugh I left him to it.
Looking back, I definitely should have taken a video of myself during that first listen. But since I didn’t, I can only assume that it only took a matter of mere seconds before my mouth was agape, and my eyes had slightly glazed over; the way eyes do when their owner is feeling completely overwhelmed. My ears were busy, as well. They were busy taking in 8-10 minute songs, filled with layer upon layer of discordant keyboards, haunting soundscapes, and disjointed voices fluctuating between spoken-word poetry and ethereal crooning. And all the while, my brain was spinning as I desperately tried to figure out how the HELL I was supposed to begin remixing music like this.
Anyone who is familiar with my music, specifically Drownbeat, already knows that I am no stranger to creating haunting and atmospheric music, but remixing someone else’s music is completely different from writing it. And to be perfectly honest, I had NO idea how I was going to tackle a project like this. I didn’t even have a clue where to begin. And so I did what any clearly insane person would do: I asked him if I could remix TWO of the songs, instead of just one.
To make a long story short…James Scott of Populist Recording, (the yin to my production yang) and I spent many, MANY hours crafting two remixes of which we are EXTREMELY proud. We are equally proud of the following, which was written by Chris shortly after hearing the work we had done.
Chris: Without interfering with the completely nebulous, layered nature of the pieces, (‘Picassa’ & ‘The Sun Is A Maze’ from my forthcoming album ‘Sleeping Partner’) he brought a completely new dimension and drive to them, as if someone changed the lighting in a room strewn with artifacts and objects. Everything was still there, but the mood was enhanced, the shadows had changed, and the colours had deepened, and become more radiant. There was also more structure and space amongst the dense layers I had created.
As wonderful as it is to read those words, I must admit I’m partial to the simpler, and somewhat less cerebral text message he sent me after hearing our remix of The Sun Is A Maze for the very first time. It read simply:
HOLY F**KING S**T!!!
Sleeping Partner was released today on Armalyte Industries, and is now available for streaming and/or purchase HERE. It comes as either a digital download, or an extremely limited edition jewelcase CD, that comes with stunning artwork by Marija Buljeta and Violeta Juras. And I’m happy to say that it includes BOTH remixes we did. It is dense, experimental, and abstract. At times it soothes, and at other times it challenges. (I know it challenged me!)
More than anything, I am just SO honored to have been a small part of it.

TWKT FAQ

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2019 at 8:24 pm
This Will Kill That is now out, and apparently there are some things you want to know about it. Here are some of your questions. And here are some answers.

JT FAQ square

1. Where can I buy This Will Kill That?

The best place to purchase This Will Kill That is right HERE, because you can purchase digital copies, regular CDs, and also a very special limited-edition CD that comes with unique artwork, 2 extra tracks, and a mini-poster that has been signed by a bunch of The Joy Thieves. Digital copies and the regular CDs will soon be available at all of the normal music distribution sites, as well.

2. Where can I stream the EP?

At the moment, the best place to listen to TWKT in its entirety is right
HERE. It is also currently being added to all of the usual musical outlets, so you will be able to listen on Spotify, Pandora, etc. If it is NOT on your favorite streaming service yet, it will be shortly.

3.
Can I purchase individual tracks?
Yes, you can. But I wouldn’t recommend it. This Will Kill That was carefully crafted as a single piece of work, that work best when listened to as a group of songs.

4.
There are a LOT of Joy Thieves…which ones signed the mini-posters that are included with the limited-edition CD?
-Chris Connelly (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, PTP, Cocksure, The Damage Manual, Murder Inc, Sons of the Silent Age, etc.)
-Dave Suycott (Stabbing Westward, The Machines of Loving Grace, Spies Who Surf, Razorhouse)
-Ania Tarnowska (I Ya Toyah)
-Mike Reidy (W.O.R.M.)
-Dan Milligan (Drownbeat, Mary’s Window)
-Marcus Eliopulos (Stabbing Westward)
-Louis Svitek (Ministry, Mindfunk, Pigface, Zoetrope)
-Eric Liljehorn (Ravens)
-Matthew Clark (Mary’s Window)
-Michael Allen Gould (Spyderbone)
-Mike Czarnik (Mary’s Window)
-Jaysun McBain (Murmuur)
-Mimi Wallman (ONO, Ampyre, Host Body)
-Jeff Harris (Mary’s Window)
-James Scott (She Rides Tigers)
-Katzen Hobbes (The Human Marvels, 999 Eyes Freakshow)

5.
Why are the prices on the Bandcamp page in British pounds? And how much is each item in US dollars?

The Joy Thieves’ record label, Armalyte Industries, is located in London…and so all transactions on their Bandcamp site are in British pounds. At the moment £1=$1.27, so… The digital album costs £5.99, or $7.60 The original CD costs £12, or $15.23 The limited-edition CD (with the unique artwork, 2 extra tracks, and signed poster) costs £20, or $25.39.

6. I ordered a physical copy, so when should I expect to receive it?


The physical copies are being sent from overseas, and so there will naturally be a delay for those who are in the states. The good news is that the very moment you purchase the CD from the Armalyte Bandcamp site, you have access to downloadable music files, so you don’t have to wait to hear it.

7.
I want to know exactly who played the instruments, and who sang on each individual song. How do I find out?

Well, the short answer is…you don’t. The Joy Thieves release music as a group. Once a Thief…always a Thief. That being said, if you buy us a drink sometime, we’ll probably tell you.
 

BAND WITH NO LINEUP: an interview with Megan Walters

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2019 at 7:17 pm

What’s it like to work in a brand new band with a revolving cast of members, stretched across the country? I asked JOY THIEVES founder Dan Milligan about that, bumblebees, and more!

FB cover pic for TWKT release resized

First of all, WHO are The Joy Thieves?

The Joy Thieves are an ever-growing, ever-changing collective of musicians that have come together for the sheer joy of creating music. Some members are well-known, and some are not. Some have enjoyed worldwide fame, while others never had that chance. But every single person who contributed to these recordings did so for the exact same reason: because we are in love with the music we’re creating, and we want to put that music out into the world.

In a much more specific sense, the band includes current and former members of bands like Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Pigface, Stabbing Westward, The Machines of Loving Grace, Mary’s Window, Blue October, Marilyn Manson, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Skatenigs, Die Krupps, Ashes Divide, 16VOLT, and many more.

 

Did you treat this as an ensemble cast? And did you put any thought into how various different members would sound with others?

The Joy Thieves are absolutely an “ensemble cast”…but since so many of us are in other bands, each member’s involvement was completely unique. Some have been active in the writing process, while others may have added only one crucial part to one single song. And while everyone has completely different roles, they are all equally important to the outcome.

Did we put a lot of thought into how each musician might sound with the others? Nope. Not one bit. However, I will say that every single person who was asked to contribute was asked to do so for a very specific reason. We simply trusted everyone to do what they do best. And they did.

 

I couldn’t help but think about other “supergroups” like PIGFACE, or more currently like PRIMITIVE RACE when it came to the varied group of artists you have in this project—why did you decide to work with people who are so far removed from each other—if not in terms of interests, influences or intent, at least in terms of physical distance?

The original plan for The Joy Thieves was to remain completely Chicago-centric. But even in a city the size of Chicago, it is MUCH easier for musicians to record in their own home studios, or whatever studio is most convenient for them. So, that’s what we did. Eventually, the project began to grow, and take on a life of its own…and suddenly there were people from Austin, Las Vegas, and New York who wanted to contribute. Since we were already using the technology to work in multiple studios here in Chicago, it was not a big jump to do the same thing for musicians who live in other parts of the country. For that reason, this is very much a project that could not have existed many years ago…and I LOVE that.

 

Were there any definite influences and/or goals you had in mind when making the album?

Behind the scenes, the gears have been moving on the Joy Thieves project for quite a while now. And since it’s very humble beginning, this project has expanded and grown in ways that we never would have been able to predict. So, naturally our expectations and goals have changed, as well.

In the beginning, our only goal was to write and record a few songs, and then release them for our music-loving friends. But as we began working, we quickly realized that there seemed to be a very special energy around the band. More and more people wanted to get involved. The recordings got better and better. Soon we were making a video, and talking about performing live. Everything recently culminated in the band signing a deal with Armalyte Industries…something we could never have even fathomed a few short months ago.

In regards to influences, it’s hard to name individual bands. More than any band in particular, I think The Joy Thieves were influenced by the Chicago music scene back in the 80’s and 90’s…which makes a lot of sense, since many of us were living, and making music in Chicago during those years. Groups like Ministry, The Jesus Lizard, Big Black, Pigface, and Stabbing Westward (to name only a few) have left an indelible mark on us. They are written into our musical DNA, and so those influences have naturally seeped into our music, our work ethic, and our aesthetic.

At this point, I must say…to have the opportunity to actually create music with some of the members of those iconic bands has been a dream come true for me. It’s completely unreal.

 

There was a recurring theme that I kept seeing and hearing—the bees! From buzzing sounds in (what is presumably) the first single THIS WILL KILL THAT, the track HONEYCOMB AND SILK speaks for itself and (also presumably) the album cover as well. Do bees have significance or a special meaning to you personally, or the Joy Thieves as a group?

Ah yes, the bees. Yes, they do have significance for me personally. And as things with The Joy Thieves have progressed, I suppose you could say that they have significance for the group, as well.

I have an extremely active subconscious mind, which frequently results in very vivid and disturbing nightmares. A while back, I started noticing they revolved around a very distinct theme. They had to do with my body being taken over by insects, bugs, and all sorts of nasty creatures. In one dream a spider had hollowed out my tongue, and had made his home there. In another, my hair had been replaced by hundreds of wriggling worms. In another, my fingernail fell off, revealing that my entire hand and forearm had been filled by a colony of angry bees.

A few years ago, I confided in a friend of mine, and he noticed a very direct correlation between when I would have them, and what was happening in my creative life. When I was completely submerged in a music project, I would have these dreams VERY frequently, but as soon as the project was done, they would suddenly stop. And so I began to think of them as my mind’s way of dealing with my seemingly endless need to complete and release my music into the world.

Once I understood where those nightmares were coming from, I started embracing them. I started telling people about them…I made a few art pieces that featured honeycomb…and I let them influence the music I was writing. They directly resulted in the writing of the song Honeycomb and Silk. And after explaining these dreams to Chris Connelly, he wrote the inspired lyrics for the song This Will Kill That, which eventually became the title for this collection of songs.

Once I found myself taking control of these dreams, I also began using honeycomb in Joy Thieves-related artwork. The more we worked with it, the more I felt like bees and honeycomb became the perfect way to represent the concept of The Joy Thieves: many individuals…each doing their part for the greater good.

 

What is your favourite track on the album and why?

Wow. I should have seen this coming, and yet I feel completely unprepared to answer it.

Right now, at this very moment, I’m going to say the title track, This Will Kill That. As I mentioned before, this was a collaboration between myself and Chris Connelly (whose lyrics I adore) and I think he did an amazing job of taking the subject at hand, and crafting the PERFECT lyrics and melody. Musically speaking, TWKT is a prime example of what people can come to expect from The Joy Thieves. It walks the line between industrial, rock, and noise rock…it features some heavy hitting, tribal drums…it has some hideously ugly guitars in it…and it maintains a solid groove that makes you want to bob your head.

 

How do you hope Joy Thieves will develop from here?

As a band, we already know a small portion of our future: and that includes the release of lots of new music…most of which is already recorded. (Not to give too much away, but we are just excited, if not more, about our next release as we are about this current one.)

What we do NOT know is exactly who The Joy Thieves may eventually become, and I find that extremely exciting. There are so many truly talented musicians that we would love to include amongst the ranks of The Joy Thieves, and we’re looking forward to doing just that. In the best of all possible worlds, the band continues to grow…both musically, and in sheer numbers.

Lastly, and this is the most important part to me, I am very hopeful that the positivity and the forward momentum surrounding The Joy Thieves continue in EXACTLY the same manner as they have up to this point. Every single one of us is happy to be here, and we are having a blast. I genuinely love and respect every member of the band, and it’s nice to feel the return of that love and respect, as well. This business has a funny way of taking something precious and grinding it up into a million pieces, but the band is here for the right reasons, and so is Armalyte Industries. And the combination of those two things makes me believe that The Joy Thieves can continue to evolve, grow, and make inspired music for a very long time.

 

MEGAN WALTERS
icecreameyes9@gmail.com