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After the "Mosquito Control" EP and "The Red Sea" EP, Isis issued their first truly definitive recordings in 2001 with the "Celestial" album and its companion EP, "Sgnl>05". In 2002 followed the highly acclaimed "Oceanic" album on Mike Patton's Ipecac imprint. In between touring in support of "Oceanic", Isis released a series of twelve-inch remixes which featured heavy-weights such as Mike Patton (Tomahawk, Fantomas), Justin Broadrick (Jesu, ex-Godflesh), James Plotkin (Khanate), Thomas Köner, Ayal Naor (27) and Fennesz. Last year Isis unveiled the incomparable "Panopticon" album. 2005 was also an important year for the band. Isis gained new ground by touring extensively Europe. On one of their shows I picked up "Nova Lux" the debut CD of MGR, Michael Gallagher's drone/ ambient solo project. I liked what I heard. Reason enough to chat with Mike about Isis, MGR, Isis fansites etc.

Michael Gallagher - Isis


So what would be your résumé for 2005 with Isis? How has this year been for you and Isis?

Mike Gallagher: This past year has been a very busy one for us. We had been gone out on tour, with exception of a couple of weeks here and there, from early November to late July. We then took a month and a half off and started writing for our next record in September. Other than playing a couple of shows in the States writing has been our main focus and will continue to be until we are finished, hopefully by the spring.


You played a lot live with interesting bands, e.g. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, Aerogramme, Kammerflimmer Kollektiv etc. How were those last shows in Europe? you played the well known Montreux Jazz Festival...

Mike Gallagher: Our shows in Europe are almost invariably amazing. It was an honor to play with such diverse and great bands as the three that you mention. We were very excited that such bands not only knew of us but were willing to share the stage with us.

The festivals were a bit strange at first because they were so large but it was also very exciting playing such big venues and being able to share our music with so many people.


Do you have any good memories of the Berlin show at the Volksbühne theatre? First you had some sound problems but it turned out to be a good show and I liked the special atmosphere as it was very relaxing to SIT and watch Bohren and Isis...

Mike Gallagher: Overall the show was very good. However, yes, it was a very rocky start. There was a problem with the monitors which caused white noise that was blasting out of them to prevent us from hearing each other. It was very frustrating but it was resolved after a bit and then the show became enjoyable. As far as sit down theaters, it is a little strange to play in them but I very much enjoy seeing bands while sitting down. You're right, it is relaxing.


You recorded two days in Amsterdam, Holland - what can you tell about these In The Fishtank recording sessions?

Mike Gallagher: The recording will be released by the Dutch label Konkurrent and it is a studio collaboration that we did with the band Aereogramme. The label asks bands to either collaborate with others or record on their own for two or three days. We were told to put very little preparation into the writing for this release. So both bands put together a couple of loose ideas before we got to the studio and when we started to record it all started to come together.

Michael Gallagher - Isis

How many more parts of the live series do you intend to release?

Mike Gallagher: That hasn't really been determined as of yet. But as long as we keep playing and getting good recordings from it we will probably keep putting them out.


Ok, let us talk about your own solo debut MGR - how long has this been in the works? What's the inspiration etc.?


Mike Gallagher: I first started writing for the MGR cd "Nova Lux" a couple of years ago. It started as a way to familiarize myself with some new recording equipment that I had just purchased. Then, as time went on I started to enjoy the compositions that I was creating and once "Nova Lux" was near completion I offered it to a few labels for release. It is inspired by everything from music that I hear to sounds that we are all surrounded by on a daily basis. For example, last year I was living near a highway and there was a back-round hum from traffic all of the time. Without even realizing it I incorporated a very similar sound as a loop that happens throughout one of the songs.


You released "Nova Lux" as a limited to 100 CD-R edition. Are there any plans for an official release of it, if so when? I've heard it will be out on Neurot Recordings...

Mike Gallagher: Yes Neurot will be releasing the CD in March of 2006.


Some parts of the songs sound like Isis elements that didn't made it onto the albums. Are some of the songs from ecording sessions with Isis?

Mike Gallagher: No, all of the composing and almost all of the recording was done by me, for better or worse. At times it is similar to Isis but i'm sure a large part of that is due to fact that Isis has been playing together for over seven years and we are continually inspiring and influencing each other musically. Although MGR and Isis share some similarities I feel that "Nova Lux" deals with more subtle shifts in dynamics and focuses more on washes of sound than Isis usually does.


What's coming up next with Isis, any plans for a new record etc.?

Mike Gallagher: As I said earlier we have started writing for our next record, which we will probably record in late spring or early summer. That has been consuming most of our time. Also there is talk of a collaboration record with a friend of ours from Europe but nothing definite on that yet. We will however be touring in the States for about three weeks in April/ May. That's about all we will be doing until the summer unless time allows for more.

Michael Gallagher & Isis

Do you know isisboard.com? Did you ever imagine playing in a band that has fansites and stuff?

Mike Gallagher: I am aware of the isisboard. Unfortunately I have not been to it yet. I think it's a good thing to have those kind of sites out there but when I go to them I find myself getting too wrapped up in what people are saying and that is distracting to me. But no, I never thought anyone would ever really care enough to go through the trouble to set something like that up. It is flattering.


The nice kids over there prepared the following questions... first one is: Do you plan to continue working with Matt Bayles as your producer?

Mike Gallagher: Matt is terrific to work with. He has a great work ethic, he understands what we are trying to accomplish and he is very organized. But I think for our next record we are going to try to work with someone else and see where that takes us. We have spoken about this with him quite a bit and we made this decision with his blessing. We also would not be opposed to working with Matt in the future but we are just curious to see what else is out there.


What was it like working with Agoraphobic Nosebleed on the Melvins cover song "Boris"?

Mike Gallagher: Unfortunately your not talking to the right member of Isis to answer this question properly. We thought is would be simpler if Cliff and Aaron Turner were the ones to work with Agoraphobic on that one. Just because too many musicians working on the song may have just turned it into a mess. But I know that Cliff and Aaron are both big fans of Agoraphobic and had a good time doing it.


Speaking of the Melvins, could you please tell our readers about the Isis/ Melvins split effort?

Mike Gallagher: We have been dragging our ass with this one. It was first discussed in July of 2004. At that time we were in the studio for "Panopticon" and our plan was to write and record something in the studio for that when we finished mixing our record. Unfortunately we ran out of time and shelved the idea because we were touring so much. The plan now is to write some rough ideas and record them on our own and hopefully get some of the Melvins to collaborate with us on the recording.


How far does Isis' relation with Tool go, are there any plans for collaboration or a tour together?

Mike Gallagher: We have become pretty good friends with those guys in the past couple of years. We occasionally visit them socially and Justin has joined us on stage about four times and that has been an honor. As far as tours and collaborations it is uncertain at this point.

Michael Gallagher - Isis

Is there a set release for the Aereogramme collaboration?

Mike Gallagher: No set date as of yet but it will probably be out in spring of 2006. Currently it is being mixed at the Konkurrent studio.


Was the "In Fiction" video was inspired by La Jetee?

Mike Gallagher: Yes, that movie has been a staple of ours for years. We have used images from La Jetee for a few of our releases and wanted to carry that aesthetic over into the video as well.


What are other movie inspirations in the music of Isis and/ or Aaron Turner's artwork?

Mike Gallagher: It seems that usually he is more inspired by what he reads and then the visual element comes after that. Answering the question more than that would mean I was putting words in his mouth and I would rather not do that.


Current listening/ music recommendations?

Mike Gallagher: Thomas Köner "Nuuk", Earth "Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method", Fourtet "Rounds", Friends of Dean Martinez "On The Shore", Steven R. Smith "Crown Of Marches", AC/DC "Powerage"


Where do you guys see yourself in a few years as a band?

I have no idea. I can't believe that we have been together as long as we
have. But hopefully we will still be making music the we are proud of and
pushing ourselves creatively.


Anything else you'd like to add or say? Thanks for the interview Mike!

Thank you Magnus. For further information check out sgnl05.com and
mgrsounds.com


Interview conducted by Magnus Jaschke in November 2005.

Isis live pics used with the kind permission of Will Hough.

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