tinhuviel: (Cadmus Pariah)

I don’t think I have ever made a comprehensive list of the influences that helped in the creation of Cadmus Pariah.  If I can explain without sounding like an utter loon, I will also write out my reasons for their involvement in Cadmus.  The list is really not in any order, except for the first three or so, which are ridiculously obvious and I’d just be a prat if I didn’t put them first.  So, without further ado.

  • Barry Andrews: Well, duh.  He gave Cadmus his looks.  Aunt Tudi thought Barry had the most angelic face she’d ever seen.  That, combined with a half-sleep nightmare that involved him, heavily influenced Cadmus’ appearance and dichotomous demeanour.
  • Carl Marsh:  Carl Marsh gave Cadmus his name.  Think about it.  He was the collected companion of the menace of Barry’s priest in the video for Nemesis.  That knowing stoicism he exuded gave Cadmus the needed cap to his misunderstood rage, and is often the only thing that keeps the Pariah from falling into mindless depravity.
  • Tim Curry (in character as Gaal from Earth 2):  Gaal was a manipulator and a murderer with a silver tongue.  He gravitated to endearments like “pet” and “poppet”.  His voice, along with Barry’s dramatic whisper on many of Shriekback’s best songs, comprise what Cadmus sounds like in my mind.  
  • Ed Kowalczyk:  Cadmus became a hardcore hedonist thanks to Ed Kowalczyk of the band Live.  His performance in their video for the song “Freaks”, along with the fact that his nails were painted, was like a Cabaret for the damned.  It was perfect.  Before Tom Hardy, I wanted Ed Kowalczyk to play Cadmus in my movie.

  • Tom Hardy:  This was an odd one, because Cadmus was already fully-formed and developed by the time Tom Hardy railroaded into my world.  I see my stories as movies in my head and, before Mr. Hardy, Cadmus’ appearance was a very effeminate, Egyptian, alien version of Barry Andrews.  Then I saw Star Trek: Nemesis (aptly named) and beheld one of the best actors to come along in a very long time accurately interpret the ravages of child abuse on a young adult, and BOOM, he was anchored to Cadmus.  As a result, Cadmus adopted a more sullen affect, at times, and was also graced with an eloquent viciousness, devoid of any bothersome conscience, because conscience was for the weak.  Tom Hardy also allowed Cadmus to properly express anger with dignity, inadvertently contributing what I called his “crazy eye” to my character.  Cadmus’ change of mood, indicated by just a single subtle expression, can turn a situation of civility into one of slaughter in literally the blink of an eye.
  • Annie Lennox:  Her techno-domme persona has pretty much affected all aspects of my writing and character creation, but she touched Cadmus in particular with her stoic command of everything around her in the “Sweet Dreams” video, combined with her perfect androgynous image.  I’ve never put Cadmus Pariah in a suit before but, if I ever do, it will be because of Annie Lennox.
  • Rob Dougan:  His song “Clubbed to Death” teamed up with Shriekback’s “Deeply Lined Up” to create thematic sound of Cadmus Pariah’s soul.  Everything and everyone belongs to him, and he dispenses with his possessions as he sees fit.
  • Darth Maul:  Prior to The Phantom Menace, Cadmus was devoid of any sexuality.  He was a creature of destruction, not affection, love, or lust.  Then came Maul.  Wrapped in dark flowing robes that were incredibly Cadmusian, this soft-spoken warrior was a physical poet.  His poise and grace enhanced Cadmus Pariah, and gave him the ability to experience sexual gratification.
  • Pryrates:  From Tad Williams’ trilogy, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Pryrates was the red priest who dabbled heavily in dark magick and alchemy, eventually uniting with the Storm King in his quest for dominion.  Like Cadmus, Pryrates is small and bald, but his fierceness and determination affected the development of my character, and I must admit the influence.  Pryrates is the reason Cadmus maintains an altar, despite his lack of faith.
  • Pinhead:  This should be obvious to anyone.  My Cadmus aspires to reach the levels of poetry and slaughter Pinhead has wrought in the written world.  Everything about him is beauty, dread, desire, and suffering.  It is Pinhead who inspired Cadmus to say, “Survival is the parchment upon which the Law of Nature is Inscribed.”  Like Cadmus, Pinhead is dedicated to his ideal, his focus is an exercise in perfection.  He, along with Barry, gave Cadmus his eloquence.
  • Hannibal Lecter:  His command of the language deeply inspired the development of Cadmus.  Also, his abiity to manipulate through nothing but words is something I felt Cadmus would be perfect at doing.  There is also the Shriekback/Hannibal connection that gives me episodes of frisson.  I love it.
  • Randall Flagg:  I admit that my fascination with Randall Flagg is probably incredibly unhealthy but, when I read The Stand in 1980, I was drawn into this charismatic entity, and his spirit dwelt within me for a decade before Cadmus was born.  Randall Flagg is a natural leader and a master manipulator.  He exudes the perfect combination of fright and desire.  This absolutely influenced Cadmus Pariah.

I’m sure there are other influences that I just can’t think of right now, but these folks/characters are the core.  Writers often say that their characters are figments of the imagination and not based on any real person, but I beg to differ.  We write what we know, and we are constantly bombarded with inspirations and influences.  It’s inevitable that they come out in our compositions.  In my opinion, it’s perfectly natural, and the primary method by which information is passed on from one generation to another.


tinhuviel: (Shriekback Logo)

As seen on Shriekback's official Tumblr.

Filter Buried Treasure

Commodity Blaze

Dug up from the permafrost of punk-funk obscuria, ex-XTC and Gang of Four men explore the emotional life of monsters.  It’s alive…

Shriekback - Oil & Gold

ARISTA, 1985

Throughout the rock epoch, commentators have slagged record companies for the dilution of art in pursuit of profit.  Full marks to the Arista label, then, for releasing Shriekback’s Oil & Gold.  A chthonic portal into an inverse world of eat-or-be-eaten terror-funk, macabre amusements and terminal ambience, it would have sat heroically askance in the Phil Collins and Wham!-embracing charts of 1985.

Co-vocalist Barry Andrews looks back on an anomalous situation.  “There was a precedent in the Thompson Twins - also on Arista, also signed by the bloke who signed us - of a band turning from weirdo, uncommercial ugly ducklings into great big shiny ‘80s cash swans,” he reflects.  “I think Arista still held out a wispy hope that that would happen.  The cover idea was to make us look dreamy and great, but we ended up going for a gang of eels and feathers, which were props that became the main event.  Once again the record company were not totally made up.”shriekmojo3.png

Formed in 1981 in Kentish Town, the group’s core consisted of ex-XTC keys man Andrews, Gang Of Four bassist Dave Allen and Carl Marsh, former guitarist in squat funkers Out On Blue Six.  Having logged such unnerving dancefloor releases as My Spine Is The Bassline and Tench EP on the Y label, they’d signed with Arista for 1983’s Jam Science album.  After July ’84’s crisp single Hand On My Heart got to Number 52, they regrouped for a third LP, having been joined by drummer and Fairlight sampler operator Martyn Barker.

Andrews recalls a complicated genesis, commencing when the band took 20 rhythmic sketches to Rockfield studio in south Wales, with producer and future Hollywood soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer (who turned up three hours late, copping a £600 black cab bill after missing his train).  “Everybody was involved in a lot of groove-building and improvisation to get ideas rolling,” says Marsh.  “Then Barry and I would pick the ones we fancied and write lyric and melody ideas and structure them into songs, after which everyone would pitch back in with ideas to fill in all the gaps.”

After more session at Lillie Yard in west London, mixing took place in various studios in the capital and Bath.  It was not an over-harmonious process, remembers Andrews.  “There were a lot of major rifts,” he reveals.  “Our manager wanting to sack me, Carl was gearing up to leave, Hans getting sacked - we ended up mixing with Gavin MacKillop.  God we spent a lot of money.”

shriekmojo.png

What emerged clearly thrived on the discord.  Opening with the febrile, spasming Malaria andtwo more feverish funk eruptions sung by Marsh, Shriekback’s strangely scientific world of primordial nature was revealed in its noisy, intoxicated splendour.  Drastic contrast was provided by This Big Hush, a phantasmal, possibly post-apocalyptic contemplation of ultimate extinction sung by Andrews, and similarly spectral pieces including the Cretaceous instrumental, Coelocanth.  Marsh cites lead single Nemesis - which name-checked 2000AD comic’s alien hero who battles Earthling superfascist Torquemada - as “the one that sums up all the themes and contrasts into one pop blast.  The animals and monsters, the tensions between instinct and intellect, nods to high art and comic books, and big laughs in dark places.”

Despite this, Marsh would leave the group after the album was completed, fulfilling press and photo duties but bailing before the touring could begin.  “I did feel that the band had become a bit of a two-headed monster with myself and Barry both fronting it and pulling in different directions,” he says.  “That said, I’m actually always surprised the album as a whole has such a unified feel.  I guess we had a common purpose after all.”

The group forged on, but despite all efforts including an arena tour with Simple Minds, Arista’s dream of an immaculate cash swan would prove chimerical.  Director Michael Mann, however, would add to the group’s cult cache by selecting Oil & Gold tracks for his movies Manhunter and Band of the Hand.  “He got the tenderness in the weirdness, I guess - the emotional life of monster,” muses Andrews.  The singer continued to lead Shriekback, with 1986’s Big Night Music a worthy companion piece to its predecessor, but would cease operations after 1992’s Sacred City.  The beast would not die, though, and four more releases down the line, Marsh was back in earnest for 2010’s sterling Life In The Loading Bay.  Now Barker is also returned; the three-man line-up is finishing a new album.**

Twenty eight years on, Oil & Gold remains visceral proof of what they’re capable of.  “The actual title came from a lyric that wasn’t used,” reveals Marsh.  “‘It’s as physical as oil and gold’.  It was the contrast between dark, sticky, clingy blackness and bright, hard clarity that seemed to encapsulate some of Shriekback’s extreme qualities.”

Ian Harrison

MOJO July 2013



**The new album referenced in Ian Harrison’s article is Without Real String or Fish, our thirteenth studio album, just released earlier this month.  You can learn more about it on the official website.  Please join us in the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for free music downloads and current Shriek activity.

tinhuviel: (Shriekback Logo)

Inspired by listening to Without Real String or Fish, James from Canada (his preferred cognomen) felt compelled to share his thoughts about the mighty “Coelocanth."

Coelocanth: The Last Shriekback Song I Will ever Hear?


So here we are in 2015, and Shriekback have just released their 13th album, Without Real String or Fish. And a most excellent album it is, too: full of the usual Shrieky goodness - clever lyrics and wordplay, groovy basslines, catchy tunes that run the gamut of dark, light, thoughtful, funny and sombre (often at the same time!).

So it is not surprising that while one is feasting on a plate of brand new songs, that one also reflects on a band’s past releases, and how they may have influenced one’s musical tastes, preferences, or - perhaps - one’s life.

In my case, I'd like to look back at one particular song - "Coelocanth" - the atmospheric conclusion to the Oil and Gold LP back in the 80's.  I was a teenager back when Oil and Gold was released, and at the time I preferred all the hard-rockin' tunes like "Nemesis" and "Malaria."  So while I loved most of the Oil and Gold album, I always thought that "Coelocanth" was a piece of crap.  "What the hell is this?" I asked at the time.  "Did Shriekback hire Zamfir and his cheesy pan flues to play on this record?** Awful!"  As far as I was concerned at the time, Oil and Gold finished with the conclusion of "Hammerheads."  And so it went for many years... until Manhunter.

Many Shriekback fans either discovered or re-discovered the band as a result of Michael Mann’s film Manhunter, which featured the Shriek songs “Evaporation,” “This Big Hush,” and “Coelocanth.” For me, when I saw the famous tiger scene in that movie, set to the music of “Coelocanth,” I had a bit of an epiphany. All of a sudden, this song wasn’t a cheesy woodwind “extra” tacked on at the end of Oil and Gold, but something which really penetrated deep down into the soul. I promptly began to listen to “Coelocanth,” and with my ears now finally open (so to speak), I realized just how haunting and beautiful a track it really was.

Back in the late 90’s, I once had a dream about this song. I remember it quite vividly - I was lying on some ocean beach on an alien world, with a huge ringed planet rising in a dark aquamarine sky. I heard “Coelocanth” playing somewhere in the distance, although I knew that I was alone on this planet.

At the time I didn’t give the dream much thought… it was just a cool thing that happened. Well, you can imagine my surprise when several years later, while I was surfing the internet for some new desktop wallpaper for my Mac, I came across this particular image at the Digital Blasphemy website :

This image - minus the palm trees - was almost 100% verbatim what I saw in my dream.  It really chilled me to the bone to see my "vision" realized by some person whom I'd never met.  Of course, I immediately pulled out Oil and Gold and played “Coelocanth,” and found myself thoroughly captivated by the synergy of sound and image…it was absolutely hypnotic, even magical. I had already grown to appreciate that once-belittled track “Coelocanth,” but from the moment I heard it in conjunction with this image from my dream, it just became so much more.

So why is it that I say “Coelocanth” is “the last Shriekback song I will ever hear?” Well, it may not be, but - and this is where I perhaps get a little morbid and over-the-top for some readers, but bear with me - I have for many years thought that “Coelocanth” would be the perfect “last song” for me. The last song is essentially the soundtrack to one’s end: when you’re on your death-bed, and you know that you’ve only got minutes left to live, but you can pick one piece of music to accompany you as you journey out of this world and into “whatever-lies-beyond.”

For me, “Coelocanth” conjures up many feelings and imagery. The obvious one is that of prehistoric fish moving through the dark depths of an ancient ocean. But I also see strange alien landscapes (as in my dream), or even the infinite depths of outer space, filled with stars and galaxies. Combine all that imagery with the background synths and trickling water samples, and you have a concoction that just soothes the soul in a way that’s hard to explain. This is why I would be quite happy to spend my final moments with this song in my head. It really encompasses, well, just about everything, for me. Not bad for a previously-mocked, little 4 minute atmosphere track at the end of a 30-year old album.

So why all the “deep-thought” and rather mawkish gushing over this old song? Well, for me, it really demonstrates what I (and no doubt many other Shriek fans) love about Shriekback. How their music grows on you over time, and how deeply it can affect you. It’s not surprising that I’ve been a fan of the Shrieks since the 80’s: they’ve consistently delivered amazing and diverse music, and the new Without Real String or Fish album continues this tradition. Hopefully there are many more wonderful albums coming from this talented bunch in the years to come.

©James from Canada
8 March, 2015

**with apologies to any fans of Zamfir. I also heartily recommend Digital Blasphemy’s Desktop Wallpaper site. The worlds that this guy creates with 3d software really go well with the whole Shriekback vibe. “Without real worlds or matter”, I guess!

August 2017

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