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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
have. But hopefully we will still be making music the we are proud
pushing ourselves creatively.
Anything else you'd like to add or say? Thanks for the interview
Thank you Magnus. For further information check out sgnl05.com and
Interview conducted by Magnus Jaschke in November 2005.
Isis live pics used with the kind permission of Will