Over the last two years P. Emerson Williams has been extremely busy. His art work has been seen on the front cover of SLEEPCHAMBER‘S return to action release “Socery, Spellls, and Serpent Charms“, as well as the Zewizz tribute releases “That’s Romance” (both part 1 and 2). He is heavily involved with Foolish People.org (with the current “The Abattoir Pages” production as well as the production “Cirxus” from earlier this year). Not to mention various other cover art project, book cover projects, creating musick with various bands, AS well as writing musick for his own projects –Veil Of Thorns, Choronzon, and Kkoagulaa – and that’s just the tip of the iceburg.
October see’s the release of two new CD’s by Williams project Veil Of Thorns on Inner-X-Musick. Impossible to categorize, Veil Of Thorns began as a Goth band in the early 90’s club scene in Boston but steadily moved toward a more eclectic sound. Not afraid to use any influence – you will hear styling’s of goth, hip hop, industrial, classical, and just about the whole kitchen sink.
TOS: I imagine you are thrilled to be part of historic Inner-X-Musick. You were part of the Boston scene. You have been booked by John Zewizz for shows… It must in some ways seem like a natural progression.
VOT: Being part of Inner-X-Musick is more than I could have hoped for. I can’t imagine a better fit. With most labels, the challenge for me is to rein ideas in to palatable song forms, but with Inner-X, the challenge is to live up to the long history of innovation, experimentation and forward thinking of the label and John Zewizz. This is a much more exciting and fruitful kind of challenge than the former kind which I look forward to taking on.
TOS: Veil Of Thorns (part 1 I shall call it) 1991 to 1994 saw you work with a few different collaborators before settling upon Chris McClain. Good memories?
VOT: Some amazing times were had, for sure. the first lineup started with just me and a jazz drummer (Sean Savoie) but by the time it was filled out with a bass player (Catherine Chenoweth) and second guitarist, (the late, great Jarrett Laitinen) that drummer was off to a new adventure in Japan. If he had stayed, the first demo may have sounded more like Cognitive Dissonance than what we ended up with for our first two demos.
At that time, Catherine booked all our gigs, which with her many biker friends brought us to biker bars as well as the first shows at TT the Bears in Cambridge and the late lamented Channel. The recordings from that time are definitely primitive, but I’m still proud of them. I would like to see less slickness in underground music than there is in general right now outside Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Chris McClain came in, bringing a new focus and maturity to proceedings.
TOS: Everything stopped in 1994. Then nothing till 2002 – 03 really, with “Birthed”. Why the hiatus? What inspired the return?
VOT: Well, we were gigging a lot more in the period between -94 and -98, which ended up cutting into the writing and recording. If I had been more forward thinking, I would have had these shows recorded in audio and video. Many of the gigs included guest players and extensive improvisation.
We were slated to release our debut CD through Misanthropy Records by the end of this period, but was not to happen as Tiziana, head of Misanthropy decided to close the label. What ended up as “Cafe Flesh” and “The Dead God Sessions” were demos done for the label for this album. There are more than a hundred hours of material not included in those releases I have on DAT tape, some of which that may see the light of day at some point.
In 1997 I signed with Nocturnal Art Productions and released the first Choronzon album in 1998. This brought much more attention than Veil of Thorns ever got, and I focused on that for a bit. I recorded the Choronzon albums “Lilith“, “Era Vulgaris” and “Larvae” in 1989/1999, and dropped out of all normal society for a few years following.
Basically I went into the woods and was deep in the grip of the Gwyllt. By the time I re-emerged, I was psychically stripped down to nearly nothing. There’s a world of difference between the work prior to and following this time. My methods continue to evolve from what I established with “Birthed” to this day.
TOS: If I am not mistaken “Salon Apocolypse” and “Necrofuturist” were recorded during the same time. Was the intention to make two CD’s? Was the correlation between the two releases always intended?
VOT: Both albums grew out of the process of working on “The Abattoir Pages” as part of FoolishPeople. The intention was to finish “Salon Apocalypse“, as the concept I had been working with for this release was in the same realm that John Harrigan tapped into for “Abattoir Pages“. Through countless sleepless nights and days of madness, “Necrofuturist” wrote itself as a further expansion of the studies and current we were working with. I would not have chosen to take on so much in such a short period of time, but I really had no choice in the matter.
“Salon Apocalypse“, “Necrofuturist” and “Abattoir Pages” are inextricably linked, through current and source materials, all preparing the ground for “Pleasure”, for which all this work is a mere prologue.
TOS: Both releases are giant steps in a direction one would not have suspected after “Cognitive Dissonance“. In fact, as I go through your catalog – this is close to the shift that occurred with the 2003’s “Birthed“. Does this represent a shift in your personal life, or your musical interests, or both.
VOT: This represents a huge shift in everything I touch. I can’t say that I know what will result, nor what I’ll be when I emerge from the other side. We are all in the process of experiencing aspects of this process. We’ll be living in a new reality, (or rather, we’ll have reality tunnels exploded), by the end of this.
TOS: I suspect that this release is steeped in chaos magick. I could be wrong, as I listen to them – I am reminded of Burroughs and Gysin early experiments. Was this the process you used with the lyrics? With the musick?
VOT: Well, there’s quite a bit of old school Western magick with more than a little shamanistic madness and gnosis. Also Goetic methods overlaid with, yes, Burroughs/Gysin experiments to break down language patterns. The musick was carved out of what started with dense layers upon layers of sound. The musick is still dense, but given pulse and negative space like a sculpture.
TOS: Who are the performers on the new releases?
VOT: On guitar I had contributions from the amazing Aidan McGoran. “Salon Apocalypse” was very loose and amorphous until he got his hands on the material. James Curcio was only on a couple tracks on this one, but his contribution to percussion and electronic manipulations was invaluable. My colleagues in FoolishPeople, John Harrigan and Lucy Allin provided the mythological framework these albums inhabit, as well as some source material which is present throughout. Pandora brings her contribution from a parallel universe. Too much analysis of that aspect would be unwise.
TOS: Will there be a live version of Veil Of Thorns?
VOT: I would love that, but it’s hard to say. Member and collaborators are all over the world and busy with a lot of other things. If it does happen, it’ll not be a regular rock’n’roll show methinks…