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Strap On Halo Resurrected

Band brings its classic goth sound to Houston

Houston has long been a significant tour stop for electro-goth acts, but its status as a place rock bands on the darker end of the spectrum could count on for good attendance is much lower. However, this has been changing significantly in the last several years as acts like Faith and the Muse and Peter Murphy have found that spooky is still a big deal here. Strap On Halo is in town Thursday to try their own luck with us.

The recently re-formed Nebraska band led by the beautiful Layla Reyna and her ghostly voice brings a real old-school sound to the genre that these days is a breath of fresh air. Calling them one of the country's top goth acts isn't amiss. Reyna talked to us via e-mail before heading south.

Chatter: What brought back Strap On halo after a six-year hiatus?

Strap On Halo's Layla Reyna (left): "I will leave the blood-bathing to the industrial bands."
Entity Photographic
Strap On Halo's Layla Reyna (left): "I will leave the blood-bathing to the industrial bands."

Layla Reyna: The original lineup disbanded in 1996 and continued in the form of two different entities under the same name that ended in 2002. Sean [Rial, guitar/keys/drums] then resurrected the band in 2008 after meeting Marc [bassist Jones] and I.

C: Why did the band break up in the first place?

LR: It was a difference of opinions that involved the music and image of the band that ultimately ended the original lineup.

C: The editor is puzzled by your name...I like it. What was the origin?

LR: The name Strap On Halo to us references the duality of good and bad within one person's psyche — the social pretenses and insecurities that is the human nature.

C: Would you consider yourself a driving force behind the rebuilt band's sound?

LR: I am nothing without my bandmates. We all contribute our own personal attributes to the sound that create who we are as a band. We feed off each other, a symbiotic relationship that without the other we may not survive.

My bandmates are the most talented musicians I have ever had the pleasure to work with, and I feel that with every song and practice we grow. We each do something that the other could not do.

C: What really defines a classic goth sound?

LR: I think that traditional gothic music can be defined by the dark atmosphere it creates. A sound and mood that is created by driving guitars and resonating bass that can be heard, drums not always traditional and often not acoustic, with lush keyboard sounds, unique vocal patterns and emotional lyrics applied as if a lush tapestry.

C: Is there a future for that sound, or is it just marking time until it's gone?

LR: A revival has begun and although we may lurk in the shadows at times, we are always here. Right now there is an awakening within the goth scene with new bands and the re-emergence of scene veterans who are releasing new material and touring.

C: Why does it seem so many great goth bands come from the Midwest? What is it out there that births fantastic goth?

LR: Perhaps it's the desolation and the desire for more. I really couldn't say. I think great music comes from coincidental unions, that lucky break you get when you meet people you mesh with who have the same vision.

C: Do you find the tendency now is to have death-rock bands fronted by female singers and electronic goth bands fronted by males? It seems like forever since I saw it the other way around.

LR: I think the trend remains the same. There aren't very many female-fronted goth bands past or present. The norm seems to be goth bands as a majority are fronted by men. It's a rare case when we share the stage with female-fronted bands, whether they be goth or a subgenre.

C: Goth used to get by on grand spectacle onstage, but these days grand spectacle is the norm in mainstream music. When you've got Gaga bathing in a blood fountain, what do goth shows have to offer an audience now?

LR: Well, I think I will leave the blood-bathing to the industrial bands. I disagree; I don't think goth ever relied on the "grand spectacle" aspect of a live show. Goth bands are known for black clothes, lace, fog, lights and ambience.

As far as I can see, most goth bands have always relied on the music. You are only as good as your music. The show — well, that's what live instruments are for.

 
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