Interview with Stolen Babies
Both interviews conducted on May 8th, 2007
Interviews and photographs by Michael F. Coles
I first heard about Stolen Babies reading positive reviews in several publications about their live performances and from their debut album on The End Records; There Be Squabbles Ahead. And although these reviews were good and I really wanted to hear this band, I never rushed out and bought the album. Until one day in St. Louis I found a used copy of this release, giving me the opportunity to listen to this release before I spent my hard earned cash for it. So I popped the CD in and as soon as the eerie introduction to the first song "Spill!" was over and the actual song began, it only took 6 seconds or so of listening to that particular riff and her vocals for me to know that I was going to love this band. So I popped it out and bought my precious.
Having only listened to the first few seconds of the vocals on "Spill!", I really had no clue at the beginning that the vocalist for Stolen Babies was Dominique, a female (I didn't recall reading before that the vocalist was a female). Due to the aggressive vocal style reminding me somewhat of Dani Filths (C.O.F.) vocal style when I first heard the screams, I automatically assumed it was a man screaming those words. When I finally heard the entire album and realized it was Dominique singing the aggressive style and the clean style, I truly fell in love with what Stolen Babies had to offer. Catchy tunes that borrow from various Metal sub-genres, Electronica (Ben Rico handles the keyboards), some gothic elements (which one could say that they also have that in the imagery department), and if you combine all of that respectively with Dominique's incredible vocal talent that would put almost any clean female singer, black or death metal male vocalist to shame, then, and only then do we have Stolen Babies. And I mustn't forget the instruments that are used! Live and on the CD, Dominique also plays the accordion, adding to her already "spooky" image that she handles all so well (Clowns have always scared me). Rani, who handles the guitars on the debut but plays bass live, also plays the upright bass live. A complete package for all extreme music lovers' tastes, but with a dark gothic kind of twist! Don't expect a straight up metal album here folks, only elements.
As I mentioned before, the song "Spill!" is what made me purchase the album. When I finally heard the entire album and became familiar with it, for some reason one way I was thinking to describe Stolen Babies if I had to compare them to another band for some reason, was Switchblade Symphony on crack, or speed (with no disrespect towards either band). I'm not really exactly sure why I thought this, but for some unknown reason that was the first thing that came to my mind after hearing the music (but only on certain songs) and after hearing Dominique's clean-angelic vocals that she sings with passion. But please do not get the wrong idea; Stolen Babies definitely have their own thing going on.
What makes that comment even more so interesting to me though (comparing them to Switchblade Symphony) is the fact that while I was walking around the parking lot outside of the venue (taking a breather) while In This Moment were playing, I came across Stolen Babies guitarist, or so I had thought. Curious whether or not he wanted to attend and be a part of the interview I wanted to conduct with Dominique, I asked him if he wanted to come along. He looked at me and was hesitant and said that he would have to ask Dominique and see if it was okay with her for him to be involved because he was only a hired guitarist for the tour. So we started chatting a bit and then a couple of minutes later he said those magical words; "I used to play in a band called Switchblade Symphony." A huge grin crept up on my face and I immediately told him what I had thought when I had first heard the Stolen Babies release and what I thought it had reminded me of. And although one may have thought I was kissing this guy's ass, I had to tell him the truth. That Switchblade Symphony was one of my all time favorite bands and that my favorite album released last century was "Serpentine Gallery," which was Switchblade Symphony's debut release. This "Top 52" list for the last century was printed in The Outcast's 5th printed issue. And just to throw this out there, I even have the "Serpentine Gallery" album cover on my screen/desktop. Ohhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhh......
After talking briefly with Mr. George Earth, I decided to go ahead and interview him as well, not only because he used to play in S.S., but because he is now currently playing in one of my new favorite bands, so I figured why not, eh? I decided since I talked to George first, to start off this Stolen Babies interview with him first, respectively.
The Outcast: So what is your name again?
George: My name is George Christianson Earth, but you can call me George.
The Outcast: I have just now discovered that you used to play in Switchblade Symphony and now you are in Stolen Babies. Is this a permanent thing?
George: Um, you know, I don't know. I was hired to do this tour, so of course I love them a lot.
The Outcast: Are they from L.A.?
George: They are from L.A. and I live in Echo Park, which is in L.A. They were one of the coolest bands I had heard in a long time. I had heard them once last year, maybe 2 years ago when they were on tour with Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum, which is a favorite band of everybody's. When I saw Stolen Babies I was like; "Ah man, this band is fucking amazing!!" So imagine my happiness to get the chance to tour with them.
The Outcast: Did you approach them, or did they approach you? How did you get so lucky?
George: They approached me.
The Outcast: Did they already know who you were?
George: What happened is they approached a friend of mine, Johnny A., and he used to be in a great band called Psycho-Punk-a-Puss (Spelling? - Mike). Johnny was asked to tour but he couldn't do the tour so Johnny said; "Hey, I know this guy George Earth..." I guess maybe he might have mentioned to them that I was in Switchblade Symphony. I don't know if they knew my life history or any of the other things besides Switchblade Symphony, but I think they knew who I was.
The Outcast: Do you perform with anyone else now?
George: I'm doing a project called Candy Machine. It's mostly just recording, doing records. We're not doing much touring with that but that stuff is out there somewhere.
The Outcast: I was telling a friend of mine that one of the ways I would describe Stolen Babies would be a Switchblade Symphony on crack, or speed.
George: I'm still very close to the few members of Switchblade, one who is about to have a baby. The singer......
The Outcast: Tina!?
George: Yeah. She actually lives in my neighborhood in L.A. so I'll mention that to her.
The Outcast: Why did Switchblade S. break up?
George: You'll have to call Tina and Susan and ask them permission to ask me that question. No, I'm just kidding. I really couldn't answer that question except for that the two had played together for like 10 years, more than 10, and I joined them..... In fact it sort of started the same way. I was a touring guitarist for Switchblade, a hired gun for the record. I was never actually a "member" even though I was on the last 2 1/2 records and did all of the tours from "Serpentine Gallery" on (Sounds like he was a member to me!!! - Mike). It's like a relationship where people get together really young, they kind of move apart over time.
The Outcast: Well that sucks because if you look at the albums released (3), in my opinion their musical career together really wasn't that long.
George: Not in the scope of the international thing of the matter. By the time I started playing with them...... I think their first tour I did with them was their first international tour. And not even international, just America, Mexico, and Canada. Then we did a few shows in the U.K. (Sounds international to me buddy!! - Mike). At that point as an international band, yeah, it was only a few years, but together they had been doing weird things in clubs since they were like 17 or 18 or something. They were very, very close. They are totally sweet, I love them both. The original drummer, Eric Gebow, went on to be one of the Blue Men. He's in the touring Blue Men group. It was Eric that sort of brought me into the band. He and I were doing something together prior to me getting asked to play with them. They had just fired their guitar player for some reason that I can't say without calling and asking permission first, but Eric called me and asked me if I wanted to do a show with Switchblade Symphony. I had no idea who they were or anything. We get there and there's a line around the block. Literally after that show their manager asked me if I wanted to do that tour with them. That was the first tour I did with them and with Christian Death.
The Outcast: After Rozz I'm sure.
George: After Rozz. A lot of people still asked; "Where's Rozz, where's Rozz!?"
The Outcast: They didn't know (Committed suicide. R.I.P.)?
George: They totally knew, but they.....
The Outcast: Just hard-core fans being jerks?
George: No, people totally loved them. There were maybe 1 or 2 people here and there that would say something about Rozz.
The Outcast: Were people asking for Eva O? What do you think about her following Christ now?
George: I didn't know that. And actually, I don't think she was on the whole tour but I know we did a few shows with Eva O separately, not with Christian Death. But I did not know she became a Christian.
The Outcast: She actually played this big Christian festival one year called Cornerstone, and that was the first time I had met her or had even seen her perform.
George: I'm a Buddhist and I think as far as I know we're the only...... And Buddhism isn't even a religion; it's more of a conscious sort of life style. Buddhism is one of the only consciousness life styles that allows for all other ones as well. Which I don't think Christianity can say, and most other religions can say that. They're big on exclusivity.
The Outcast: What's your opinion on Christianity and religion?
George: Basically that. Everybody is entitled to whatever they want their spirituality to be. I would sort of hope that people would have things that they are nurturing for good reasons. I think every religion has a good platform to some extent, but some don't. I think almost every religion that is an actual religion by definition is actually a bit manipulative, but that's my opinion. Some of the most blessed people I know are Christian's, Jew's, everything, you know, so....
The Outcast: Do you believe that Jesus Christ walked on the earth and is who he says he is?
George: I think he existed. I don't think there would be word of him this late. I don't personally know what he was, so you know? I'm kind of scientific on those things but I'm still a very spiritual person. For something to have happened so long ago...... I mean it kind of would make sense, there was something important about him or the story would not have passed on, but on the other hand I really don't know.
The Outcast: Going back to Stolen Babies, do you see yourself staying with them, or what?
George: I would love to. I would be very, very blessed to be asked to do a tour with them again. Rani plays all the guitar parts (on the album); he's an amazing guitar player. He only has 2 arms, bass is his other instrument. If he had more arms, he even said this, he'd be playing guitar as well. I'm hoping he doesn't grow 2 more arms so they can ask me to tour again. Like I said, I fell in love with them 2 years before this happened, so I'm very blessed to be standing here talking about it.
The Outcast: Since this interview was a while ago (meaning I didn't recall how this interview ended), the last thing I heard on the tape was he and I laughing, and a train going by, so I guess that was the end of the interview with George. I hope you enjoy my next chat with Dominique, Rani, and Gil. Although I had difficulty deciphering Rani's and Gill's voice, I think I got it right, but if I didn't, sorry fellas.
The Outcast: Gil and Dominique, I just drove 9 hours to catch this tour. When my friend told me that Within Temptation was playing, but then that Stolen Babies was playing as well, I knew I was going to have to make the drive. I picked up the CD and at first I had no idea that you were the one screaming (glancing at Dominique). I thought it was a man with a high pitched voice (laughter coming from Dominique). With no disrespect towards either band, I was telling George that I had told him that if I had to compare this to some other band, I told him I thought of a Switchblade Symphony on crack, or speed. What were the chances of me meeting George and him telling me that, you know? So as I said, with no disrespect towards anyone with that comment, because I think you guys rock. What exactly influenced you guys, and gal, to play the way you all do? Dominique, your Death Metal type voice reminds me of Dani Filth.
Dominique: Well, I think Dani is pretty fucking untouchable. You can't compare anyone to Dani and what he does vocally. He's a power house. I do have a lot of admiration for him as a vocalist. A lot of other vocalists have inspired me, from Dani Elfman, to this amazing band called Charming Hostess which has members of Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum, which has some amazing women with beautiful strong voices. I like good singers as much as I like a good screamer. I like both. I like hearing very melodic singing.
The Outcast: What's really cool and the thing that separates you from all of the other women performing, respectively, is that you do both. Lacuna Coil straight up sings, Within Temptation is the same with her vocals, and although they are rougher, In This Moment only does the rough. You do both very, very well and that definitely make you all stand out. I'm just really glad S.B. got hooked up with these bands because they all have a pretty good following and this is killer exposure for S.B.
Rani: It's been incredible. This is the second show of the tour but the third time playing with these guys. We did last week with them in New Mexico before this tour started and we knew that if that night was so successful we knew it was a good foreshadowing of how this tour was going to be. It's a great opportunity to play these kinds of venues, in front of this crowd, it's cool.
The Outcast: Not to sound corny but I was really excited to hear you got on a package like this for the exposure.
All: Thank you.
The Outcast: How long does this tour last?
Rani: For 25 shows.
The Outcast: Are you guys going to hit Europe at all, or Mexico?
Rani: Not on this tour but eventually soon. We're talking about Europe maybe in January or February, but the momentum and the focus is really building in the States and in Canada and that's exactly where this tour is going.
The Outcast: When you guys hit Europe you guys are going to hit it big I think. So what are the concepts behind Stolen Babies? What are the lyrics about? Where exactly did you get the name?
Dominique: The name was the name of a skit that a band that we used to play in together performed. It was actually a 3 song skit that we called Stolen Babies that was more theatrical. I didn't really sing so much in that band actually; I was running around in costume. We were really young then, we were like teenagers. I was a ghost who stole a baby, turned into a fly, then a giant spider that ended up seducing the mother of the baby and they started doing a tango together as I played the accordion, so that is where our name comes from. It's a throw-back but it also has a lot of meaning. I think it describes our music, it sounds like our music. There are just so many meanings that the name Stolen Babies has, just about how we are lost......(pauses) from ourselves. It's just the perfect name for us. I wish we would have changed it in some ways just because we've had the same for a while, but we have such a connection from it that we can't get away from it.
The Outcast: What do you guys think of the current situation with the war and Bush as "our leader?" There are a lot of bands that have been screaming (singing) about what's going on right now with the war and in the world.
Rani: Personally um, we're kind of escapists in our own way, you know what I mean? We have reactions to certain things like that. We're not overtly a political band and I don't think we'll ever be. I don't think personally that's what makes or breaks a band. We all have our own political views.
Dominique: Let's just say that we really don't like Bush.
Rani: I can tell you now that war isn't good in any way, shape, or form. We're not total fucking patriotic people that; "Okay, let's go out and butcher people." No blood shed of any kind is really worth promoting. Why exactly are we even in a war right now? Can someone please explain that to me? That's really it. We try to on a lighter, dark side...... We're obviously influenced by turmoil and suffering in the world, you know our music isn't happy. We try to deliver it in a way and convey it in a way where we're just light hearted about it, that's why people bring up the Tim Burton (about their art work) thing. We like the way he presents darkness. It's witty, it's whimsical, it's.....
Gil: It's got a sense of humor.
Rani: It's got a sense of humor, you know, it's just not for (I couldn't understand the word used, sorry. - Mike)...darkness. You have to have that balance, at least we do.
Dominique: There's the responsibility that a lot of us...... I mean we are escapists, but we're not totally irresponsible. There is a fine line there and "Spill!" is about that carelessness, about coming into a place and consuming and consuming and consuming until there's nothing left and what it does to the kids. There's a big story behind the album, our art work, and the cover of our album is my visual of "Spill!" I didn't do the art work, Crab Scrambly is an amazing artist that we collaborate with all of the time with the art work, but I kind of sketched it out for him first and roughly showed him what I wanted. That (the art work) definitely captured the vibe off of "Spill!", you know, the kids running away from the town, taking over, burning papers, running away from responsibility. We have to take responsibility. Like we said, we're not really political but at the same time we're not oblivious to what's going on. We're just so fucked up, that we're in our own worlds, and we're kind of sorting out, hey, what's going on inside here? But we do care about what's going on in the outside.
Gil: Gas prices are too high.
Dominique: Hey, there you go, amen.
Gil: And it's a weird coincidence that gas is cheaper in a certain part of the nation where George Bush may be inclined to have an influence, I don't know, it could just be a coincidence.
The Outcast: On my 2nd to last trip to L.A. last year, I bought a shirt that has Bush Jr. and Sr. and underneath it reads; Dumb and Dumber.
Gil: I'd wear that.
The Outcast: I really believe he is the dumbest president we've ever had.
Dominique: He's horrifying.
Gil: It really shows a lot about the country and the nation as a whole. Endorsing someone like that to lead the country, it's pretty fucking pathetic. Even in just a common sense point of view, it's like, whatever............
Dominique: Using paranoia as a tool for power, which is the most commonly used tool in power, and he knows how to do that, so... We'll just end it there because we don't want to get too political. We're not a political band.
The Outcast: I've never been much into politics either but I recently watched a documentary called - America: Freedom to Fascism - and that film has really moved me and has influenced me to ask bands I interview questions regarding our current "president" and our situation. It just really baffles me that people actually support this jack-ass. But the last 20 min. really scared the shit out of me because they started talking about a chip and the possibility of implanting them in people that way no one could be a threat. A family in Florida has already accepted this chip to trial it out.
Rani: Oh yeah, just like ......... (I couldn't understand what he said but it rhymed with Gattica. - Mike).
The Outcast: George Orwell all the way, you know?
Dominique: Right, right.
The Outcast: There was only one Biblical reference in the whole film; "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark (Chip? - Mike) In their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.", and although it wasn't a Christian based film, I thought it was pretty scary that they put that in there.
Gil: People will fucking revolt. No one is going to let that shit happen.
The Outcast: Christian or not, people aren't going to accept a chip in their skin, you know?
Rani: Yeah, no way.
The Outcast: And in a different documentary called Gulag USA, supposedly our government is building concentration camps all over the USA and the biggest one is supposed to be under the Denver, CO. airport and people don't have a clue. We're all blinded by materialism in the USA and not seeing what's really going on around us.
Dominique: They're distracting us.
The Outcast: They totally are.
Dominique: I don't know. We don't know.
The Outcast: I'm going to be honest, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to politics, but after watching that documentary it has made something inside of me angry I think.
Dominique: I want to write it down. Write it down for me.
The Outcast: I bought a hundred DVD at a $1.00 each, so I'll send you all a copy for sure.
Dominique: This is a really interesting part of the interview actually (giggling a bit).
The Outcast: So what do you guys think of Christianity and Jesus Christ? Do you think he existed and is who he claims to be (The Christ)?
Rani: Yes of course, me personally, this is Rani talking.
Dominique: We all have a different opinion.
Rani: He was..........
Gil: Religion and politics, I love it!! The things we don't talk about we're talking about!
Rani: The bottom line is that Jesus Christ was a Saint. He was propagating pure love for God and that's really it. What people misconstrue of his messages and his teachings are their ignorance. It's very plain and simple what Jesus was propagating and it gets lost in the mix. People want to hear what they want to hear. The Roman Catholic Church is a big business and in my opinion it is the most evil organization in the fucking world.
The Outcast: Amen to that brother!! I was raised Catholic so you don't have to tell me a thing.
Rani: You know man, it's pathetic. What they've done, I just had a conversation about this not too long ago with Easter. Every Christian is celebrating a pagan holiday. Every Christian that celebrates Christmas is celebrating a pagan holiday, it's the Winter Solstice. Basically Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church came around when all these pagans were celebrating the Winter Solstice and he couldn't do anything to make them stop celebrating, so what did he do? "Let's make this Jesus' birthday, people are celebrating anyway." In the Bible it says Jesus was born in lamb's season, that's not fucking winter. I have a very high respect for Jesus and a very high respect for spirituality in general. It's what you do with that knowledge that really separates you from other people. If you're an extremist, a fanatic, or you kill other people in God's name, hate, or are a bigot in God's name, that's bullshit! Actions speak louder than word's that is the bottom line. A true spiritual person, a true religious person knows that there's only one truth and many ways.
The Outcast: God forgive me for thinking like this or for having this opinion, but I'm from Mexico City and when I translate from English to Spanish or vise-versa, there are times I have to use different words to describe another and it could lose meaning. It's so hard for me.......
Rani: It gets lost in the mix.
The Outcast: It's so hard for me....... I am a Christian, I do believe in Jesus Christ as the truth, my truth. A lot of people think I'm a weirdo or judge me (Christian and non-Christian) for the music that I listen to, or the ideas that I have. It's hard for me to accept or believe everything the Bible says due to knowing things get twisted in translation. It's just really hard for me to accept it all at times knowing how humans can be using things for their own gain and greed. That's why in my 3/4th issue of the magazine that I do I interviewed 1/2 Christian bands and 1/2 Satanic bands and played devils advocate and questioned their beliefs and what they stood for. The thing I hate most about the Black Metal scene the most is that most of these bands are preaching evil and Satanism and they have no clue why. Then you have all these young kids who get corrupted and confused even more in life and these kids don't even realize or know why.
Dominique: That's great that you do that.
The Outcast: It's more about life in general I think at times more than music, but I try and even it out. But I don't really have much more to ask at the moment. I wasn't too sure if I was going to get to interview S.B. since I didn't have an appointment.
Dominique: Thank you for waiting around.
Gil: We appreciate you driving out man.
The Outcast: It was worth the drive. You guys and Within Temptation were 2 of the main reasons I made the drive.
Dominique: Within Temptation is my first time..... Well, it was everyone's first time seeing them. It was actually my first time ever hearing them, and not only are they really, really, nice, I've been talking to them back-stage, but wow, I was blown away by their set. I saw them for the 1st time last night and I was taken in. They truly are a magical band. This is a fun, wonderful tour. I would come to this show and I'm glad we're on it.