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Interview: Drug Honkey – Paul Gillis on rebellious Chicago band’s ‘Cloak of Skies’

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 5:39 PM (PST)

The first time I heard Drug Honkey was almost a decade ago now! It stuck out from a pile of boring emo-goth promo cds like a cancerous growth – Death Dub. ‘WTF is this?’, I thought. I took the cdr home from my then editor’s apartment and soon was lost in a swirl of cacophony and acidic rage amidst a Scorn-like clatter of urban blight and very cool, weird atmosphere. The vocals sounded like they were sung by a demon punching up through concrete but the music was both smothering and spacious. Fuck yeah!

I remember thinking how cool it was that there were still some underground bands who took the lessons of Godflesh to heart that you can do something outside the template of what is standard metal and add some punk freedom into the recipe to create a unique experience. This was a nightmarish but addictive sound and perfect with a spliff for those already halfway into an existential crisis who figure, ‘Fuck it, let’s go full bore.’

Cue 2017 and the band are still around and getting better reviews, and deservedly so, than ever for new album Cloak Of Skies on the label Transcending Obscurity. Cloak of Skies boasts seven tracks, including a remix by the legendary Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu) and a guest saxophone feature from Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Corrections House, Brain Tentacles). Cover art was hand-painted by renowned artist Paulo Girardi (Inquisition, Power Trip).

Let’s catch up with Paul Gillis and learn more about this current era of a long running project who do things their own way! Read it BELOW.

How is it going?! I remember getting the Death Dub promo years ago now when I worked for Crusher Magazine in a pile of cds from Christine, my old editor, and being like WTF is this?!! Haha. So good the project survives like an ever growing mutant cockroach. And now arguably stronger and bigger than ever.
Good to have you guys back. How did Cloak Of Skies and the deal with Transcending Obscurity come about?

Going well, thanks Morgan. Yes, I remember you reviewing it way back when. We just keep going & going. Slowly churning.
Well, our last album Ghost in the Fire was on Diabolical Conquest Records, which ended up becoming Transcending Obscurity Records. When the time to put out Cloak of Skies arrived, we liked what Kunal & Transcending Obscurity had to offer, so we stuck around.

One thing I love about noise and,say, the early Scorn records or whatever…there is a connection to the roots of harsh styles like grindcore or even horror cinema scores and the avant-garde, but it is less a twenty minute ten song punk rock style immersive blast like grindcore and more like falling into a sea of caustic toxicity and chemical spills poured directly into the ears, haha. Almost like an endurance test but this album has so many textures and rad sounds even off the gate in “Pool Of Failure” alone that you keep listening.

I feel ya! Yeah, we are definitely very heavily into layers & atmosphere. It is the most crucial component for us..

Did you guys work with Blake Judd for awhile? I vaguely remember hearing that but then he was having a lot of problems and I never found out if that was true or you recorded anything.

He appeared on a track called “Weight of the World” on the Ghost in the Fire album in 2012. & then he was in the band for a short time.

How did the remix with Justin come about? Was he a fan or did you pitch it? Either way, what a great meeting of fringe minded underground architects.

We contacted him, & he was interested. Thank you. Yes, it worked out great. He is one of my all-time favorite musicians, so it was definitely super cool.

How did you know Paulo Girardi was the right guy for the cover art? Art can sometimes really affect how people perceive an album so it takes a lot of trust to pair visuals with songs you have already worked hard on. Why sometimes it is better before a band makes a music video, y’know? haha.

I started seeing a lot of his work on-line, & decided to give him a shot. It turned out great. I supplied him with a copy of the music(it was still being developed at the time), & gave him an idea of what the album title meant, which is: ““An illusion of clear skies; where everything is wonderful, but underneath the sky is black & the end is near…”. I feel he did a great job with it. Very pleased.

So, Bruce Lamont stopped in. Very cool. That guy is awesome. Did you just know him from Chicago? Most of the bands seem fairly tight. I am stoked for the next Atlas Moth record. Stavros is my homie.

Yes, I knew Bruce from the scene around Chicago. I asked him if he was interested, & he was. He did a fantastic job. Awesome stuff. I know of Atlas Moth, but not familiar with their music.

 

 Any bands you would still like to play with who you feel would be a cool fit? I bet you guys and Gnaw Their Tongues would be a rad concert.

Well, ultimately we’d love to play with Godflesh. It would also be killer to play a set with Winter.
Gnaw their Tongues would be a killer show as well.

You guys played Roskilde Festival in 2014? I did not know that! That must have been pretty wild, huh?

It was AMAZING!! Hopefully we’ll be going over to Europe again in 2018.

 

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