Interview with Chris McCarter | Ikon (2014) – Part I

 Chris McCarter
 Definitely Ikon is one the most well-known Gothic-Post Punk acts coming out from Australia. They have achieved a Classic band status due their top-quality music. They have given us impressive releases through the years (and a loyal fan-base around the world) They are hard workers in the underground scene: Ikon has taken the path of those bands who have decided to release their music by themselves; and also they have been evolving as artists.
Gothic Rock is very pleased to bring to our audience this interview with Chris McCarter (Daniel Olvera)

I want to make some questions about the early days. ¿What can you tell us about the Gothic scene in Australia in the early 90’s, when you started as a band?

Chris McCarter: In the early days of IKON, people in the Australian scene were more interested in the music than the fashion or making a statement, as they tend to be now. There were more goth bands than there are today, and people were interested to see them play live. At first we weren’t really associated with goth scene and just played any gigs that we could. We stopped playing for a while between 1993 and 1994 and when we started again, there was a very healthy live scene for goth bands for us to join.

You had a long time relationship with Apollyon Rec. As we know, Australia is very far from Germany ¿How did you get a record deal with them?

Chris McCarter: We sent out our first few singles to a number of labels in Europe in North America. Apollyon took an interest first, and we felt that it would be a good idea to work with them. This meant that we ended up declining a deal with Cleopatra Records in America, which certainly could have taken the band in a different direction.

I remember that Ikon took part in various tribute albums in the 90’s. ¿What artists inspired you to the point of decide to form a band, and to be a musician?

IKON early daysChris McCarter: The biggest inspiration to me playing an instrument was the rest of my family. When I was growing up, everyone in my family played guitar. I started collecting records at the age of 13, including bands such as U2, Simple Minds, and Big Country and I just wanted to learn how to play their songs. Meeting Dino Molinaro (bass player) in 1987 allowed me to connect with someone who liked alternative music such as The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Sisters, and Joy Division and the shared love of those artists inspired us to form a band.

I’m from Mexico, in the 90’s the European record labels such as Apollyon were very popular here (among the Gothic Rock audience). Since then, you can find here the records of Ikon. This past weekend I found those amazing special editions with 3 cd’s + dvd; in some local record shop. You are a very appreciated band around here. (there is a YouTube channel called: IKON Fan Mexico) ¿Do you know about your fans in Mexico?

Chris McCarter: Yes, we do keep in contact directly with our fans, including some of our biggest fans in Mexico, and appreciate their support. In fact, we are very lucky to have a lot of fans supporting us, and of course it is surprising for us in Australia to have fans who are passionate about supporting dark music in Mexico and Peru especially.

¿What can you tell us about the cross logo in the first records?, ¿It’s a random design, or it has some meaning?

Chris McCarter: I designed the cross logo myself. I just sat scribbling and came up with the design, and quite liked it and had a designer to create the finished artwork. So there isn’t any special meaning to it.

By the way, I have seen the Ankh, runes, pentagrams, aliens, angels, and many other things in your album covers and art-designs ¿What can you tell us about your interest in that kind of stuff related to ancient beliefs and wisdom?

Chris McCarter: Since a very young age, I’ve always been fascinated by the unknown, ancient history, and mythology. I’ve had the privilege of travelling around the world and visiting a lot of these mysterious places and obtaining inspiration to create songs, which is something I would like to concentrate on in the future. It just seemed like a natural progression to incorporate these kinds of cultural influences into the music through lyrics, artwork and so on.

The first time I listened to your music, just get hooked since the first time. I love the combo of electric and acoustic guitar sound in the first records. When I listened to “This Quiet Earth” I get really impressed with that electro-sound (specially “Ghost In My Head”). You did it just great. ¿This experience has echoes in the sound of the Ikon of today?

Chris McCarter: As I was growing up, I loved electronic bands including Depeche Mode, Ultravox and New Order and it was always a goal of mine to incorporate that with rock music. For me, IKON could never be just a rock band, an electronic band, or a folk band. I loved parts of all of those styles of music and wanted to combine it into one and that’s what IKON is today. I think the new album best reflects the coming together of those three elements and how we’ve tried to put IKON’s own stamp across it all, rather than following a goth rock formula.

¿What can you tell us about the line-up changes that the band has experienced in all of this years and the contribution of the former members of Ikon?

Chris McCarter: If you want to play live, you need to rely on other musicians. After Michael Aliani (original singer) left the band in 1997, I really didn’t have the inclination to want to play live, but I realised that the main market for the music was in Europe, and the only way I could get there was to reform the live band. I’ve always worked with people who I knew personally and got along with. It takes a lot of work and commitment to be involved in a band and I’ve sacrificed over 20 years of my life to keep the band going. Some people get sick of having to make such large sacrifices when it’s not really their band, and the difficulties involved are why people decide to leave. However, everybody who has played in the band has contributed a huge amount, and has contributed to keeping IKON recording and touring over the last 14 years.

Most of the bands from the 90’s have disappeared, and some others have done some reunion. Unlike them, Ikon has continuity; you are a very active band and you are releasing great records up to this day… ¿What is the Ikon’s formula to remain in force and active through the years?

Chris McCarter: First and foremost being a fan of music and record collecting has maintained my love for writing and releasing to music to people around the world. We’ve been a part of the goth market since 1994 and I didn’t want to fall into the trap, like a lot of other bands, and create music that was too far removed from this market. I wanted to build on it, but the influences always remained quite clear and a part of the IKON sound. I like to combine electronic with goth, as well as other influences that don’t fall under the goth umbrella. I think this helps to keep us sounding different from bands in the standard goth mould and gives us more freedom to take a slightly new direction on each album.

Talking about releasing C.D.’s (and I have to say: Thank you for the amazing physical editions!), ¿What do you think about digital formats and internet piracy?

Chris McCarter: I’ve now accepted that digital formats are an important and integral part of each release for IKON. Unfortunately, the downside with technology is you get all the piracy that goes with it. Sadly IKON is pirated quite a lot and that’s why it’s important for me to create real, physical releases with interesting packaging and concentrate again on putting our albums and singles out on vinyl. If it came down to music being released as downloads only then I would not do music anymore. When I began writing music, I wanted to do it so I could release singles just like the bands I loved that I collected.

Azkadellia sounds great, ¿It will be part of a new album, or it will remain as a single?

Chris McCarter: Because the gap was too long between the singles Where Do I Go From Here? and Azkadelia and the release of the new album, I felt that I wanted to leave them behind and have more of a conceptual album that was conceived during a focused time period. So that’s why these singles don’t appear as tracks on Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends.


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