Kansas City- Edward, Niels & the Silverman

July 23, 1991 in Kansas City, Missouri

First of all, i would like to thank dear brother Pat hopewell for arranging this interview, getting me into the place, and pointing us into the direction that we needed to go. i would also like to thank dear brother Brett smith for writing me and telling me about the show in the first place. Victoria (my wife at the time) and i were directed to Sabine, the road manager, who proceeded to lead us to the small, cramped dressing room in back where we were introduced to Edward Ka-Spel (vocalist and what such) who was hunched in his little chair in his little corner nibbling on the assorted nabisco snacks symetrically arranged for him on some plastic tray. Meager, yes. He was so small and seemed rather timid, all bunched up in his large, black trenchcoat. One had to search a bit to find him. He was very soft spoken and was very patient with us as we stumbled thru our questions.

Later, we were joined by Neils Van Hoorn (in charge of the instruments of wind and of the wind itself) and the Silverman (in charge of the keyboards and calm manner), just before being whisked away by babysitter Sabine to eat. there was also another man walking around who seemed in the band yet seperate from it. this turned out to be the guitar and bass player to whom we were never introduced (i was introduced to him a couple of years later in chicago, but i don’t remember his name due to all of those half-pints of rum Christian and I kept buying to drink in the park before the show).


Christus: so how has the day been so far? pretty chaotic?

edward: almost disasterous. we tend to store our gear in the shower of the camper, and during the night the water had sort of come down, some how, and soak filled the equipment…

c: is that what you were doing on the headphones, making sure everything was alright?

e: oh, i knew it was okay, i was just working out a new bit for a song.

C: so you work out songs on the road?

e: oh yeah, things are always changing…

c: is there a central place that the band hails from or do you all come from different places?

E: we all originate from different places but we’re based in a small dutch town called nijmegen.

c: what’s the society like there? the government?

e: a little more, i would say much more, moderate than what you find here. alot more balanced than what you find here, i think. i mean, certain things quite apall me about america, certain things fascinate me as well. i mean, i would never be one of these people who say “i hate america”. it’s too interesting, too fascinating. but, you know, you can be quite shocked by some things. there’s quite a lot of lunacy around this country. we’ve witnessed a reasonable amount already in just the short time we’ve been here.

c: what kinds of things have happened?

e: well, take an incident last night when we were standing outside a club in minneapolis. suddenly we heard this screech of tires, and basically it was a parking lot attendant who had just lost his mind and was sort of like whizzing around the corner, smashed his car into a phone box deliberately and then, sort of backed it away and then, sort of, uh…yeah, he was just trying to wreck things with his car.

there was all the police there and things like that and you think “where are we?” (laughter). and i think this was supposed to be one of the more civilised towns there are in minneapols. i mean, it’s got a good reputation. but, we’ve mostly been treated wonderfully but for one exception. it was new york. that was attrocious. in a club where they didn’t pay us, they didn’t feed us, they tried basically to claw as much money out of the one thing we could make money from which was the t-shirts. it was like capitalism at it’s worst, especially when they’re like a thousand people watching the show. i don’t like the naked face of capitalism shouting at me like that.

c: does it show its face in any way like that where you come from? (i was subtley sizing up holland as a place to move to, in case you hadn’t picked up on that)

e: not like that. nowhere near like that.

c: it’s much more subtle?

e: yeah. at the very worst it’s simply polite. you know, new york has got like this intense arrogance about it. very, very blunt. but not from the audience. the audience was great. but you’re just another part of a conveyor belt of bands. you just pass thru. but that is just new york. i mean everywhere else, like here today, has been great.

c: what about the last time you were here in kansas city, if you remember, about 2 or 3 years ago?

e: 2 years ago, yeah, about 60 people or something? (laughter)

c: yeah it was just you, neils, and the silverman.

e: that’s right. it was one of the strangest shows of the tour because it was so small, and that’s why we tend to remember it.

c: it was like this disco bar. i enjoyed it very much.

e: it’s actually the third time i’ve played kansas (missouri, actually). i played solo as well in ’87 with skinny puppy, this big theater…

c: and you’ve collaborated with cevin from skinny puppy…

e: that’s right. well, we’re doing it again around august. (and they did, recording ‘the last man to fly’ and ‘sheila liked the rodeo’ in these sessions)

c: as the tear garden?

e: yes.

C: the number 16 seems to reappear…

e: it always changes. sometimes it’s 15, sometimes it’s 834.

c: so 16 means nothing?

e: no.

c: just a number…

e: just a number. whatever is in favor at the time.

c: as far as a reason for even wanting to put one’s life experiences into musick, what would you think…

e: something that’d be mighty embarrassing. it’d be a year later, i mean, if you spread it out exactly as it is, it’s at least honest. in fact, the more embarrassed i am, the more i can actually stand by the work, cause i know it’s totally honest. i know people can truly relate to it. if it was things that were outside of my experience, how could anybody truly relate to it? i like to paint all shades of a soul, basically, which is all the bits that you like to hide away as well as the bits that you like to show. it can be an uncomfortable experience but it’s extremely cathartic and hopefully for all of the people who listen to it.

c: (out of nowhere)…apocalyptic, i sense?

e: yeah, some is there (chuckles). but i wouldn’t attempt to define the meaning of apocalypse. i’ve always thought of apocalypse as change, and that change can be towards the extremely positive as well. and i do sense a transition going on. i sense a certain acceleration. i mean, the reason i have the slogan ‘sing while you may’ on every record and every tape is because i honestly believe that this is the most significant time in the entire history of the planet, and anybody living now should be pleased to live now to witness what’s going on. sing while you may. but, i’m certainly not predicting the end of the world. so many people have done it and failed. i remember jehovah’s witnesses talking about 1975. it was really funny when january the first, 1976 came and i’m rubbing my hands with glee. it worried me for awhile.

c: it worries everybody for awhile. they collect their last moments and try to plot out their last hours. “what are my last moments of life going to be and what would i do?” i suppose that kind of recollection is necessary. i think alot of people alive at this time take life for granted and they live their lives as if they had a million years to live…

e: you should never take your life for granted at all. i mean, it’s hymn to cherish every moment and to make it as rich as possible. no sleep at all.

c: or that’s not life, it’s waiting.

e: yeah, it’s pointless.

c: very pointless. growing up, the situation that you grew up in, the society, what was it like?

Victoria: what were some of the major influences that you’ve had, that are with you now?

c: people…

e: i grew up in east london. i didn’t particularly feel good then, felt like a bit of an outcast for years. it was quite a hard area. it plays a big part in many of the lyrics that i write. um, individuals? hard to say…

c: so many?

e: not lyrically. musically, i think alot, maybe. i mean, i think anything that you truly enjoy play it’s part and filters it’s way in. not necessarily consciously, but certainly unconsciously.

c: is there a maria? (‘the maria dimension’ had just come out)

e: is there a maria? there’s six of them. (laughter)

c: i’m sure there’s many more than that. as far as…you say it’s great to live in the society (i’ve never used that ridiculous word so much since or after), in the world, in what’s going on…do you ever find yourself wanting to find a place to duck, to hide…?

v: to runaway to?

e: i think everybody goes thru that sometimes. i used to particularly, but these days not so much. i find, like in previous tours, i was very happy to meet different people and things like that, but coming to america, it’s changed a little bit. but so many people want to meet you, and sometimes you find yourself retreating, not in a mean way, but it can be very hard sometimes. i’ve not experienced it like that before. it’s very much a bit unnerving. that’s the time i like to hide.

c: do you enjoy being in front of people delivering…?

e: yeah, i’d say so. i derive great satisfaction from it. i reach states of mind that sort of…yeah…i’m happy to be in. it’s sort of like an unreal sort of state. you find yourself thinking after a very good show that you’ve whipped yourself into a frenzy.

c: as far as your musick, what do you deliver it to people for, why your putting out albums, why your playing in front of people, is there…?

v: what do you hope to get across to people? (thank you, victoria)

c: do you hope to get across to people?

e: what do i hope to get across to people? what i’m doing is opening the cupboard to my own personal soul and people can do with it whatever they wish. i certainly don’t wish to preach to anybody, and i don’t wish to force my opinions down their throats. i think the lyrics leave enough space for the imagination so people can put in their own conclusions. and, i think it’s much nicer than clubbing them over the head with a slogan. i detest slogans. hopefully, the only thing i’m putting over is a series of questions so that people can question themselves a little bit and question what’s around them, and not take everything as black and white. you know, what you hear on the news is just sort of what your allowed to hear.

c: it’s filtering thru someone else’s information network..

e: i know. it can be a gross distortion of the truth. i tend to say don’t believe anything you hear…(unitelligible).

c: or what are people’s motives for delivering you that information in the first place (corporate sponsorship)? is it for their own good ($)? is it for your own good? is it for anybody’s good?

v: is it for their own walls?

e: it’s someone’s interpretation of what they think is the people’s own good, but that can be a total misinterpretation. we’re all human. we’re all islands basically.

c: i think that forms seperations. when somebody believes that something is happening in a certain way or occurring in a certain way or for a certain reason, and then they say that to people and all of the sudden they have subscribers and followers, and all of the sudden there are factions. there are groups that think this way and there are groups that think that way, and all of the sudden, they’re opposing each other and it’s created a battle that does’nt need to exist because they think that they have a ‘stance’ on life the experience when there isn’t a simplistic, unidimensional ‘stance’. i mean, it’s an individual stance, like you said.

e: yeah. i mean, that’s all i can offer is an individual stance. i don’t want people sort of, like following every syllable that i utter as if it’s ‘the truth’, cause it’s not ‘the truth’. it’s my personal truth. it could be as far away from ‘the truth’ as you can believe. is there such a thing as ‘the truth’? (laughter)

c: no there isn’t. it’s a totally subjective interpretation of…it’s like a pillar that some people cling to…

e: i agree.

c: …and they title it ‘the truth’, and then they hide and say “well, this is my truth and everything else is false.”

v: i think also alot of americans are looking for something to grab on to, to follow.

e: they’re looking for messiahs.

v: somebody to lead them.

e: yeah. that’s where you get the jesus freaks with the loud hailers yelling up off the road about (using an evangelist’s voice steeped in dementia) how the world is full of sin and how you’ll burn in the fires of hell unless you follow jesus! i mean, i can’t understand why more people don’t laugh. people lose the ability to laugh at themselves, they lose the ability to laugh at something that is that absurd…

v: they’ve lost their identity. i mean, what identity do they have here in this melting pot of so many people, all these different things…

e: but in a way, that should give america the best chance because it is such a melting pot.

c: because there are so many things to choose from.

e: but what happened? it’s sort of like different races, they segregated, kept apart, ghettoes developed. they have so much to learn from each other, you know.

v: i mean, even myself, living in america, being hispanic, i feel when i go to apply for a job, i feel very aware that they may not hire me because of the color of my skin.

e: but what is a true american? what is a true american?

v: there isn’t. but, its so much there, engrained in my head.

c: it’s an indian.

e: it’s an indian, but the indians have been downtrodden right here, you know.

c: they’re forced to live on trailer courts and they fuckin’ kill their cheif because he has all the welfare checks and they go out and spend it on alcohol. things have gotten very desperate on the reservation.

e: yeah, it’s ridiculous. i mean, a true american is black, a true american is white, a true american is hispanic…

c: a true earth person. fuck nations.

e: basically that’s how it is the world over.

c: as far as you’ve traveled, is there any place that you can see at least a little bit more peace than anywhere else?

v: i think out past that star over there.

e: if i’m honest, i think holland has a very good chance. i just remember a certain incident. i mean, there’s the bad guys in holland too. there’s this party called the centrum aparthied and it’s like the equivalent of the ku klux klan here, or the national front. they’re like closet nazis. and there was an incident in holland where these mallacans (sp?), who are a minority in holland, held up a train and somebody was killed and the centrum party seized upon this incident because an election was coming up and they thought, right, everybody is going to vote for us because we’re against the mallacans and the syrinians and whatever…

neils: they want them to go back to their countries.

e: …they got less than 1 per cent of the vote. (laughter and applause) well done holland, you know. that gives me hope, things like that. i just think these assholes are everywhere. but you know, there is hope in some places.

v: we were just feeling the other day, there’s no hope, where can we go?

n: you are welcome in holland. (laughter)

e: there’s lots of good people in this country too.

c: yes there is. that’s the paradox. i mean, i’ve noticed in america the paradox. like when you have people who are becoming more aware of things and people who are starting to realize what’s happening, which is kind of being more mediacized. you know, the earth is dying, you have to do this and this to save it, but also the opposite side is rising, too. ignorance is getting much more prominent, and killings, just people getting into gangs and just fucking mowing down people for no reason other than they can. both sides are rising and it’s hard to deal with that constantly rising paradox…

e: like a polarization. yeah, i don’t like to feel that i’m in some kind of battle or war with my life. life’s too short for battles and wars.

c: it’s time to bridge gaps. (and, into another hamhanded segue…) ‘hellsville’…

v: you know, i think there’s a hellsville in kansas or missouri.

e: i mean, my impression is not so bad. (i think at this time edward misunderstood us as meaning that we saw kansas and missouri as ‘hellsville’, when actually i was intending to ask about the song of that title. going back and listening to the interview tape, i got the impression that he felt we were complaining very frequently of our situation, whereas i heard him complain very little. i feel very ‘american’ as i listen. very much like i have taken for granted the constructive elements in my enviroment.) like it’s a place where nothing really happens. i don’t know if that’s right.

c: things happen, like bubbles in a pot that hasn’t quite reached boiling yet.

n: it’s under the bubbles.

c: yeah, exactly. under the surface.

silverman: it’s not quite ku klux klan territory though, is it?

c: well, the ku klux klan were actually trying to secure a channel on kansas city’s local cable station. (‘klansas city kable’. i kid you not.)

n: yeah, i heard about that.

e: oh no.

v: my parents have a little house out in kansas about 2 hours from here, where there’s an active ku klux klan, and my friend who lives out there said “be very careful. be very careful.” and i drove out there one evening and my car broke down in this little town right around the place where the ku klux klan is and they were peeking out of their houses, you know, looking at us. it’s pretty scary.

e: i mean really, the way to deal with people like that is simply to laugh at them. if people laughed at hitler, sort of like strutting around with his stupid little mustache and waving his arms in the air…i mean look at the guy! he’s funny!! if they’d laugh at him there wouldn’t have been a nazi germany. i mean, why can’t people laugh at these idiots with their, sort of like, white hoods, and sort of like…i mean they’re ridiculous!! they should be figures of fun!!

***

…at this point, Sabine peeks in and reminds the band that they must eat and when they play so we then transfer ourselves to Cafe Jerusalem a few blocks away where we continued to converse with Neils and the Silverman (Phil) despite the consistent interuptions by some fellow who claimed to be selling t-shirts for the band and who was very, very ‘American’. I have to commend Phil for possessing and executing such extreme patience and tolerance while interacting with this person.

Anyway, we spoke of being able to feel the flutter of a butterfly in Japan at our very table, war by means of kazoos and silent dog whistles, Turkish coffee and the generosity and support which Holland has for it’s artists. They were all very kind and passionate people. I have even that much more appreciation for their music, the timeless music of the spheres.

The show later that evening was a spectacle to behold. The prophet Ka-Spel looming in front of the congregation with eyeless sockets and flowing veinious limbs, animated by the light of life and of the dancing sunspots on the eye of Venus. It is music by which the light at the end of the tunnel fades for it was indeed the beginning at which the end has not yet been seen, and until it is sighted, anything could take place. I would like to thank the Dots for their cooperation and their kindness in sharing with us their words and their music so that we may prosper and benefit how we may. So we may recollect and project, listen and appreciate and weep such pure tears of calm lunacy. Thank You.


That interview took place on July 23, 1991 in Kansas City, Missouri. Looking back, I would have asked very diffrent questions than I chose to then. It was interesting to see how my questions refelected so much of where I was at in my life. Dissatisfied with American society (there’s that word again), looking to move to Europe (which I finally will possibly be doing in 6 or so months, Berlin, to be exact), freaked out about what I called “the rising paradox” (my views now are much different). I have spoken with them in person one time since then in Chicago about 2 years after the above interview. In the basement of Lounge Ax, Neils, Edward and I talked for about 40 minutes before they went on and I’ve had very little contact with them since due to personal chaos. I read that their fax # is no longer available, but they now have a private one. Would someone who knows this please ask for Neils consent for me to have it? It would be greatly appreciated! If he remembers me, I know he won’t mind. Anyway, I hope someone enjoys the interview. It actually never made it to print (I stopped doing the magazine after that) so I am glad to be able to get to those who are more likely to appreciate it. Hope everyone is well…

Christus

 

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