Gothic Council Considers Proper Seduction of Metal Heads

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Pretend you're a drug dealer, or if it's more appropriate pretend you're still a drug dealer. If our memory of the D.A.R.E program serves us well then the key to successful drug dealing in the acquisition of new clientele through free distribution of choice merchandise. Once they're hooked, then they belong to you.

Now for us, the drug is goth music, and lately we've been doing as much recruiting as possible. The best way to get more acts to visit town is to encourage fandom, so our overall goal is to make Houston a choicer environment to host bands we've always wanted to see. The thing is, if we knew how to sell things we wouldn't be doing this job.

So we put the question to the Gothic Council. What song or band serves as the best gateway drug into the world of goth? Is it specific to various sub-fandoms? Would you use the same tune to ensnare a punk as you would, say, a metalhead? That was the aim of our meeting.

Joining us this week is artist Darla Teagarden, Jvstin Whitney of the Church of Melkarth, DJs Regen Robinson and Martin Oldgoth, and living historian Morrighanne Burns.

Darla Teagarden: Well, if you've got someone really into metal I'd play them a little taste of Killing Joke because they combined rock, synthpop, metal, and goth, and they influenced a slew of bands. They were somewhat unique and perhaps a good gateway drug to a metal-head.

Jvstin Whitney: Luring a real metalhead to the goth you show them the Smell of Rain video for "Scar Trek/Parasite God" since Mortiis was in Emperor after giving them select pieces from his solo ambient music. If that doesn't do it, you let them dwell on ...And Oceans' A.M.G.O.D. (especially "Intelligence is Sexy"), and quality heavier Industrial acts like Hanzel und Gretyl's Uber Alles and Trollheim's Grott's Bizarre Troll Technology.

Depending on how they hold out and handle harsher noise-related music, we introduce Mz.412 and/or Blacklodge; if that's not enough to get them hooked and straight to harsher Wumpscut, then you go on the backpedal and listen to Samael's Blood Ritual and have them give Eternal (Specifically "the Cross") a good thoughtful re-listen and make them admit it's not so bad.

This process works because I've done it, assuming the metal heads aren't idiots, it's kind of a crap shoot, and most of us veer in the direction via dark ambient and pagan/militant neofolk at some point anyway, because they're intelligent enough to appreciate good music regardless of genre. If I'm working this through a drug deal (which is pure speculation and assumed only for entertainment purposes) I bring a mix CD with most of these songs on it and play it at the peak of a(n allegedly) hallucinogenic trip. But nothing that calls itself "Gothic Metal," all those bands just suck and is made for sixteen year old girls, and not really any different than pop for anyone with a brain. Being a good goth dealer is all about knowing who you're trying to convince of what.

Regen Robinson: Definitely Funker Vogt. I would probably go way back to 1998's Execution Tracks. The lyrics to "Shaven" alone would capture any metal head's interest.

Martin Oldgoth: I'd play them Bauhaus. No matter what they're into if they don't get that then I don't think it's worth bothering trying anything else. Maybe if I was feeling generous I'd thrown in some 1919, Play Dead, Siouxsie, and perhaps some Skeletal Family, but beyond that, if you have to resort to anything vaguely metal or industrial then bollocks to them, they ain't worth the trouble. Diluting our scene is not something I'm happy with, we had that happen in the '90s, and I'm not going back there again! I'm not that kind of dealer!

Morrighanne Burns: If they are honestly a metal fan, they won't listen to goth. My husband is a huge metal fan, loves Iron Maiden as much as our children and if Steve Harris was a chick he'd be chasing him. He's listened to most of my type of music be it in the car, came to gigs, at club nights when I DJ'd and at nights out and nope it doesn't even register. I in turn hate Maiden and all the rest of the stuff he listens to. The only middle ground we have is Cradle of Filth.

Jvstin Whitney: Morrighanne, I honestly believe you're wrong. I live and die for underground metal. I've been playing in black metal bands since I was 16, but I've also been a goth club DJ for a good chunk of time spinning obscure and rare oddities of all kinds of music. Your husband has a closed mind to music and isn't willing to admit it.

I can see Martin's point but he's got an elitist and rather puritanical opinion on what is and isn't "goth," while I paint it with a really broad brush.

Also Cradle of filth is garbage pop music targeted at sexually frustrated "rebellious" adolescents, and you should be ashamed. You know how you hate mallgoths? Any of the "metal" they like isn't true metal, it's metalcore and sellout bands (Aside from bands like Priest, Maiden, Sabbath, Metallica before Haircuts).

Yes I'm aware that I'm being an elitist puritanical dick about this subject; You also didn't have a fucking cartoon band ruin everything for you. As I Lay Dying isn't metal just like Blood on the Dance Floor isn't goth, that's music made for and by idiots who still suffer from herd mentality that want to be different (and still accepted into a group). I'll repeat it, a good song/album is good regardless of genre, and anyone with taste should be able to appreciate it even if it's not they're preference.

Martine Oldgoth: Well, "puritanical" is a new one for me, I'll add that to the list, thanks.

Jvstin Whitney: I mean that in a good way.

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