Strawberry Spotlight with After Death Plan
Lady Audio: Hi everyone and welcome to the Strawberry Spotlight Radio Show! My name is Clara of Maheekats, also known as, Lady Audio and I will be your host. Our guest this week is Leslie of After Death Plan. Leslie welcome to the show! How are you today?
Leslie: Very good, very good. Excited for this interview.
Lady Audio: My first question is always what attracted you to the realm of music?
Leslie: Probably I spent a lot of time in nature as a kid. I spent a lot of alone time. And you know how you never talk in nature. I mean you just don’t talk. There’s no leakage of talk. You’re always listening because it’s not really natural to talk so much. It’s natural to maybe experiment with your voice and sing and use creative sound but not so much to talk. I think I just learned to listen from a very early age and appreciate sound.
Lady Audio: Nice. So right now you are in a band called After Death Plan. Who are all the members of the band and what do they play?
Leslie: It’s just me and my husband, Costa. I sing and I Engineer and I play some keys. And I do drum sequencing. He plays predominantly bass and then he also is pretty adept at guitar. He plays some keys as well and he also does some drum sequencing. Some writing you know.
Lady Audio: Cool. What’s the story behind the name of the band?
Leslie: I had written a book a while back and it was kind of a sampler book of different stories. I had this mythology of characters. I think it was Milton who had created a mythology in an effect to sort of understand or explain schizophrenia. He said it was the overwhelment of characters like emotions. So he had made a mythology out of them to sort of give them their name and their face. That was an idea I always loved and I made this little miniature mythology. I had this character called Thema Wayne, who was like the goddess of Eternal Justice like your Liberty sort of archetype character. I had made a story that was a long, detailed after death path to life after death. Like a lot of people have an after death plan which is the kingdom of heaven. And they believe it! I mean their energy probably goes there when their body is no longer. So I made an after death plan through this character that’s going to take me to unlimited worlds. So we were talking about that and we were like let’s name her band After Death Plan.
Lady Audio: Yeah, alright. Cool. I’m letting that soak in. That is really cool. That’s a really cool story, thank you for sharing that.
Leslie: You’re welcome.
Lady Audio: So how many albums do you guys have out now?
Leslie: This is our first one. We are probably halfway through the second one which isn’t… the second one is more political. It’s not revolving around literature. Costa had come to Chicago when I lived there for about 10 years. I worked in various studios and I did this project called Mal Vu which was like collaborations with as many musicians as I could get my hands on. So like kind of an improv base to start. Some people re-sculpt them more, but Costa came in a couple of times, or a few times over the years. I’ve known him forever, from back in the Columbus music scene. I went to college there back in the early nineties. So what was I talking about? (laughs) So he would come in and do some songs with me. He and his brother, George, who is super talented. He (George) plays drums on some of our tracks. They’re called The Flying Hondrulus Brothers. George is a professional drummer. He tours with Lydia Loveless right now and he’s like in a million bands always. So they used to come up and play and we just all loved each other musically, you know. We’ve been friends a long time. Anyway, a couple of the songs that we had done… one of them I think was kind of a drinking song inspired by Bukowski. Then we did another one called Grave Man which was super dark and that was for Chesterton. So we already had these songs. And then when I moved back to Ohio, we got together and I was using those lyrics from the Sea and Earth which I had written when I was super into studying Scottish poetry. Immersed in it, I should say and looking up the root words, when I say immersed and that sort of thing. So that was the first thing that we worked on. But both of the two songs we worked on when I got back here just happened to be ones that were written based on books or authors. So we said hey we have a theme here. So we decided to just put that whole album together. Most of the songs are new, but we had done that before. We all like books.
Lady Audio: Yeah, so from listening to the album, Literature, the songs can vary in style from one to the other… from one to the next. I wanted to ask you how would you describe the kind of music that you play?
Leslie: American Gothic is how I would describe it. It all has a dark narrative sort of orchestral feel. We are all old goths sort of. Not bubblegum goths, we like all the dark stuff. Let me just preface it by saying we like the dark stuff. We like the birthday party but we’re also big Sisters (of Mercy) fans. We are old school goths. so that dark element is just always kind of there. And then these songs are different because we are writing about different books and different styles of people. But then they all sort of have this underlying sound that is our sound.
Lady Audio: Alright. That’s a good description. So speaking of literature, what is the book that you are holding in the promo picture?
Leslie: It’s called The Book of Knowledge. It’s just one of those encyclopedic books. But it was the coolest cover that we had. We have a friend, the guy that did our artwork for our album. He works at the printing press in Germany that is 400 years old and he is a photographer and an artist. He originally, for the photo shoot that he did, our goal was he was going to create the book a leather bound actual embossed one to use. Then since we financed our album, at the very end, he just photoshopped one in. Had her hold one in the picture. So we just held a book for the promo pic. We took that picture ourselves with a little $10 remote thing that we got.
Lady Audio: Cool!
Leslie: We’re not organized enough quite yet for a photoshoot.
Lady Audio: Music is a strange thing because there are just so many different aspects to it. Besides the music and everything that goes along with that, there’s also taking the pictures and doing videos.
Leslie: It’s a lot, you’re right.
Lady Audio: So now I want to ask you some questions about the album, Literature. I really like the song Ray Gun and what is the story behind that song?
Leslie: That song is about Ronald Reagan. Costa wrote that. He roughed out the lyrics on that a few years ago. He was watching footage of Reagan’s funeral. And this was when Bush was in office. And you know, the economy and everything was going into upheaval or conflict. So we were talking about that, and he said I always wanted to do something with this. So we listened to a bunch of Reagan speeches and we pulled this speech, It Was a Time for Choosing, and Reagan tells the story of this Cuban refugee who escaped Castro. His quote was the refugee had said we don’t know how lucky we are. Reagan used that and branched it to say that lucky because of the idea that government is beholden to the people. And they have the ultimate power. Which he was kind of branching off into the whole privatization of government services and state power. Republic and all that sort of stuff. So that was what was the catalyst for the way we wrote that song. Then we were also talking about how for the first time in history the country was run buy a former celebrity with no background in the public sector. Then we went off on trickle down economics and we discussed it and we did our research. We even watched Bedtime for Bonzo. So we wrote that and then we decided to dedicate that one to the manual of the people. Which is the Constitution. So that is the story of that. That’s why there are so many stacks of voices. Because it’s supposed to be a people. The people. Lots of people.
Lady Audio: Another song I really like is called To the Body in the Clay. What is that song about?
Leslie: That is about… you’re asking me these questions and I’m like how do I summarize this? That is about the collective. The collective unconscious. That is about source and soul and archetypes. The clay reference is about the clay origin myths. So that one is dedicated to Joseph Campbell. No I’m sorry not Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung. So the clay origin myth and also the body is sharing elements of the Earth. That we are of the Earth physically. So that’s what it’s about. It’s about identifying soul source and the collective both within yourself and as a collective people. Does that make sense?
Lady Audio: It does make sense. I noticed with the lyrics. That’s why I wanted to ask about it because it tends to cover a lot of ground.
Leslie: Yeah a lot of that and it says it in the lyrics too, a lot of that is about allowing your journey and even your suffering to be a part of to broaden your capacity… I guess period. To broaden your capacity. To use that as grit. To see it as grit and I guess to enjoy your life.
Lady Audio: So you touched on this a bit earlier, but I wanted to ask. You guys recorded and mixed the Literature album, did you guys do that together? Or how did that pan out who did a lot of the recording and who did the mixing and stuff?
Leslie: I did. That’s my trade. I’m an engineer and I have been for about 20 years. I’m more in the commercial post-production, audio for picture, as far as career kind of stuff. But I’ve been working on at least Mal Vu kind of music and every once in awhile a side project if I really enjoy the sound. So I have been doing mixing for a long time.
Lady Audio: And then when we were in the pre-interview you were mentioning about mastering. So who mastered the album?
Leslie: Tom Boyer of GBS Records here in Columbus, Ohio. He had just mastered… and those guys know him and by those guys I mean Costa has another band called Earwig. And Lizard McGee, who’s the singer of that, Lizard and Costa have been working with Tom for years. So, you know, you do audio, you know you’re not supposed to master something you mixed.
Lady Audio: It’s true.
Leslie: It’s seen as vain, I guess.
Lady Audio: Well, I think your ears kind of go numb to the song after you’ve been recording it and mixing it. By the time you get to the mastering stage, it’s like hey take this please away from me!
Leslie: You cannot be objective. I don’t know if this is good anymore!
Lady Audio: So what new projects are you working on now, and specifically do you have any plans to make a video?
Leslie: What new projects are we working on… with After Death Plan or do you mean with my work?
Lady Audio: With After Death Plan
Leslie: I guess that would make sense. Well, we have 22 songs started. There was something very freeing about finally getting that album out because we kind of had to stop creating stuff. We have a studio at the house. Like a DIY studio but it’s a good studio. So we are always trying and always putting a song down. Always talking about a song or what have you. And when you start to put your album out, you sort of stop all of that and instead you’re like “distribution” and all these things. “Website” “Twitter” so as soon as that is done and released we suddenly had this burst of creativity. We have 20 songs sketched out that I just love and we need to start tracking them and recording and mixing them. I mean we have them rough tracked too you know.
Lady Audio: Nice.
Leslie: So I don’t know if that answers your question.
Lady Audio: Yeah that answers my question, but touching back on my second question that I kind of threw in there, do you have any plans to make a video for any of the songs on the Literature album?
Leslie: We do. We are working on… so we’re going to do Master and Margarita with this director named Jim Sikora. He’s out in Chicago. I know him from back in my days there. He’s done a lot of interesting old school kind of films like he did Bullet on a Wire and Walls in the City, which was kind of a cult thing because it had David Yow from Jesus Lizard in it. He did Naked Raygun’s video and he’s really good at it. I used to call him a seventies flashback. He’s my friend. But he’s a very old school film director. He’s the kind of guy that can tell you who did the lighting in an Orson Welles film. He shoots a lot in black and white and he’s got a real interesting style. So he’s going to do Master and Margarita. And we’re talking about it. We’re just trying to find a time that we can do it. Costa and I are rehabbing this really old house, so we have another month of intense work. Then we are going to put all of our sights on that video. And then I’m going to work with this guy, Lance, who I do independent film kind of stuff with on Raygun.
Lady Audio: Nice. Alright, that sounds cool. Good. Then there will be something for the song I really like, Raygun.
Lady Audio: Okay and now it’s time for a scenario. Are you ready?
Leslie: Wait. What do I do? Do I just listen?
Lady Audio: Yes.
Leslie: All right, all right. Go for it.
Lady Audio: Okay, it’s very early in the morning and you’ve been up all night writing songs in your living room. Your mind feels raw but you somehow feel pretty good despite being up all night. You decide to get up to go outside and get some fresh air. You open the door and step outside and as you walk through the door you realize you can step into anywhere you want to. Another country, another dimension, a planet, anywhere. Where do you think of to go?
Leslie: Well, first of all, that whole scenario, I looked around for cameras because I have not been sleeping lately. Until you got to the door and then I’m like, oh no she hasn’t been watching my every move. And second of all, getting through the door… where would I go? I would go into the unknown. So I can’t tell you where I would go.
Lady Audio: Okay, so just the void, the unknown.
Leslie: I would go into the unknown and the unseen. So maybe that’s a different dimension, but I couldn’t possibly describe it because if it’s worth seeing then it’s probably new.
Lady Audio: Cool. Thank you. And last but not least, what is your favorite flower?
Leslie: I’m sort of obsessed with plants around here. I don’t have a favorite flower. Have you ever heard of that book The Language of Flowers?
Lady Audio: No.
Leslie: It’s like a dictionary. It’s an English classic and it’s a dictionary that has the names and meanings behind all the flowers.
Lady Audio: Nice.
Leslie: Yes, it’s real sweet. A guy wrote it for his wife for her birthday, is the story. One of my favorite meanings of the flowers is the tiger lily because the meaning, or the definition when you look up tiger lily is “for once may pride befriend you.”
Lady Audio: That’s really beautiful.
Leslie: Yeah it is.
Lady Audio: So where can people go to, to listen to and to purchase your music?
Leslie: They can go to our website AfterDeathPlan.com to listen. You can purchase the music. The physical CD is actually very lovely. It’s like a 3 panel digi pack and it’s got Stevens Schwartz’s artwork on it and you can get that through CD Baby. You can get it locally at Lost Weekend Records. So yeah it’s online everywhere. We did the CD Baby distribution, so it’s on iTunes, Apple, Spotify, all that stuff.
Lady Audio: Cool, and is there anything else you would like to add for the audience?
Leslie: No… Hi! Hi world. Hello world! Enjoy your life!
Lady Audio: Thank you so much for joining me today, Leslie, I really appreciate it.
Leslie: You’re welcome thanks for asking us.
Strawberry Spotlight is a feature on Strawberry Tongue hosted by Lady Audio. She chats with the bands you hear on Strawberry Tongue Radio.
She swims through all the waves – new wave, synthwave, darkwave and jumps along with all the posts – postpunk, postrock, and postpop. Watch out! She can get all electronica, dreampoppy, and shoegazey, too!
A new show premieres each Wednesday at 1:00pm EST, with rebroadcasts on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00pm EST.