ON THE COVER :: PHOTO GALLERY
ON THE COVER :: INTERVIEW
Words by Chip Adams
After spending plenty of time with their music, we felt it was time to truly get to know our current On The Cover group, Cruel Black Dove. We got to dig a bit deeper into the musical past of the band, covering everything from important musical influences to the development of their sound while steering away from being lumped into the Brooklyn scene. Many thanks to Anastasia Dimou, Alan Veucasovic, Shirley Ho and Jonathan Nanberg for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Chip: So this is the first time that many of our readers may have heard of Cruel Black Dove. Can you give us a quick synopsis of how you guys got together?
Anastasia: I first met Alan in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. I moved there for love but really missed NY and had left my music projects there. I looked for someone with similar tastes to play with and found him after several months. He was working at a pop producer's studio and scoring music on the side, and we connected. Like a good stalker, I found some of his tracks and on our first meeting brought some ideas I had recorded on my 4-track. It went really well... We wanted to do something dark and bassey. That was one thing we both knew. At the time, I wasn't even sure I wanted a band to be honest, I sort of wanted something like performance art.
Eventually, I had to move back to NY, I just missed it and the sense that music community. Alan came-on the very same flight. We both had nothing, no job, no apartment, just the desire to see this thing through. After working on some song ideas and posting some demos, I was itching to perform them. I just felt the songs would make much more sense live. We held auditions, and found Jonathan-- he just blew everyone away. About a half year later (it took some time because we had so much settling in to do-finding jobs etc.) we went about a serious search for our fourth. Any band will tell you it's not easy, and we made it much harder with our strict "no compromises" policy. Only the best-in quality and match-we decided. We have all been in bands before, and we just wanted to do things our way. We have had our vision and stuck to it, I am happy to say... it's great. We're very complementary I think. One thing we knew was that we wanted another female, both for vocals and just to even out the group energy. We found Shirley, our bassist, and she was a perfect fit, in terms of musical and aesthetic tastes (she's a former art student and great avant garde clothing designer). That was just over a year ago. We played our first show last June.
Chip: Brooklyn has definitely developed a "sound" that many of its bands can be lumped into, but Cruel Black Dove does not fit that mold. How did your sound come about?
Anastasia: Yes, we definitely draw from the old or greats, as opposed to following trends. We wanted something heavy, polished, and as Alan would say "would not end up in the 'used' bin." I think the sound came from a desire for the dramatic, which isn't so trendy these days. I love a lot of the new stuff that's out there, but also don't like the stuff that feels like no thought/soul went into it. We're not married to a particular sound, but we are definitely wed to musical integrity.
Chip: I know in our earlier conversations we discussed similarities to Curve as well as PJ Harvey. What artists do you view as important influences on Cruel Black Dove?
Anastasia: The Curve reference is a funny one, only because I never really gave them a good listen until recently. PJ, of course. I had her, NIN, and Smashing Pumpkins on heavy rotation in high school. Joy Division could be applied to Shirley, Jonathan and myself. Depeche Mode definitely-- great songwriting. Stevie Nicks is one of my all time favorite writers.
Jonathan: Love And Rockets, Bauhaus, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Stone Roses.
Shirley: I've been through phases of obsessing over GY!BE, The Smiths, Siouxsie and The Banshees, and The Velvet Underground.
Anastasia: Alan loves Pulp, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Massive Attack, Brit pop. Those may be the obvious ones, but add to it Peggy Lee, Satie, Jeff Buckley ... There are so many great artists who inspire us.
Chip: For those of us not on the east coast, we've never had an opportunity to see you perform live. How does your slick, well-produced electro-rock sound change on stage?
Anastasia: The goal was to retain the weight live. I think we've done good job, with some technical genius on Alan and Jonathan's parts. The energy is a bit more raw. I think people don't know what to do with your music until you show them. At our shows, you definitely see some movement, by me and the audience-- the songs have a surprising amount of groove... I made my dress for the last show. I kind of wanted to look like a doll bride-- I think I pulled it off... I had a long organza veil I wrapped myself in, and gradually unraveled in the first song. Pretty fun.
Chip: If you could tour with any band past or present, who would you want Cruel Black Dove to hit the road with?
Anastasia: Depeche Mode. Suicide. Portishead. Radiohead. The Velvets.
Chip: Speaking of live shows, do you remember what the first concert was that you attended? I have no problem admitting that mine was the Jackson Victory Tour (as in Michael Jackson) at the Astrodome in Houston. Yup, all my indie cred just went down the toilet. Yours?
Anastasia: Ha... Lollapalooza for me-- I was pretty young and went with some older kids-- my mom had to drop us off.
Jonathan: For me it was Rush. I still have the ticket stub. I air drummed the whole show. Yeah, I was that guy.
Shirley: Let's just say it involved a certain wild-maned Canadian female singer. I was a confused teenager back then...
Alan: Anthrax, at the Corona Beer Gardens in Corona, CA.
Anastasia: Alan wins.
Chip: Is there any chance of seeing Cruel Black Dove tour across the US?
Anastasia: Yes, definitely. Not sure when, since it takes a lot of manpower to organize these things, but it's definitely a goal. I really want to play some European dates this year as well. Germany, Scandinavia and the UK if at all possible.
Chip: You currently have your Full Powers EP available for sale online. With the current questionable future of the music biz, do you have any desire to land a label deal, or keep it strictly D.I.Y.?
Anastasia: We're certainly not averse to it if it's the right label. Being DIY, though highly rewarding, is also exhausting. We recognize with other people on our team, a label is not crucial to the band's livelihood, it seems to be more about partnerships and opportunities these days. It would just have to be the right fit.
Chip: Your music does lean a bit on the dark side, so lets wrap this up on a brighter note. Know any good jokes?
Alan: Ever heard of the Aristocrats?
Jonathan: How do you get a goth out of a tree? Cut the rope! ...Still too dark?