DISCUSSION: Godmachine Interview
Posted about a month ago | Return to Blog
Hey Godmachine - strange times! We’re gonna go macro and micro - starting big. How has the pandemic left its mark on you psychologically?
Global experience. I think I first caught it in nov and then again In feb, it’s no joke, I thought it was the end for me. It has been kinda good for me though, I’m a recluse so after a small adjustment I found myself more busy and quite content. Apart from the obvious and horrible things it has done to nations, I am optimistic about the Changes it will bring. I have become a keen gardener since the lockdowns, I dabbled before but with the shop shelves being empty I took it more serious. I found the whole thing to be almost an awakening. I’ve always assumed that people like thinking about zombies and other existential threats as it lets them imagine a world where you are responsible for yourself in so many ways and it’s a life where you don’t have to work in an office to feed yourselves or play by any rules. In that sense I imagine it has woken a few people up. Not to go full cloverfield lane, but to at least consider your life in new ways. Does that make any sense?
And what about your art? Has the collective energies of 2020 influenced your work?
Nah, I’ve always been borderline nihilist so I don’t think it’s affected me in any new ways. I still have a bizarre fear of floating off, as if someone switched the gravity off and we all floated off the planet, down is up and there is no position for you on this world. That and we can never know anyone.
What’s your personal holy grail of artworks in the history of the world?
I can recall the first time art punched me in the soul so hard I shed a tear. I was in Liverpool with an old girlfriend and she took me to the art meuseum. I saw a sculpture of a young lady reading a book and plaiting her hair. I felt like she was alive and I dared not disturb her. I couldn’t tell you the artist or the name of the piece (my terrible guess would be "passing of time"), but there wasn’t a day that would go past when I wouldn’t think of her still there, still reading a book and having no involvement with the passing of our time and world. Untouchable through grace and acceptance.
Do you create consciously, layering meanings or messages? Or is it more intuitive?
There is always something else going on in my pieces that I am proud of. Some people just want a skull and that’s it, but when I can, I work in some point or gesture towards self expression. I have common subjects throughout my work; greed, death, existentialism, but mostly it’s about loss. I can say no more. Today I think we get along fine with "that looks cool", but it is also our jobs to look harder at pieces and try to extrapolate some sense of the artists meaning. You can’t do it to everything but as lynch says "more consciousness, more Understanding of the world".
Has anyone ever interpreted your art in a way that surprised you?
Honestly I can’t remember. I’ve had some short and brilliant emails that have just read "this piece makes me cry", and if that’s all you have to say about my work....you nailed it.
When creating designs for bands (Cannibal Corpse, Faith No More, Melvins, Eagles of Death Metal, Lamb of God), how much of a role does the actual music play in your art? Without sounding wanky, do you feel it as you draw? Okay that sounded wanky.
I used to know of this artist who said that he would listen to the bands record whilst drawing to get a feel where they are coming from. It was all pop punk. Used to make me laugh loads. I work with bands that know I don’t listen to them but we get on famously. I have friends in bands that would never hire me to do the artwork. I respect the hell out of that.
I feel like this is a complicated thing to explain as I really feel I am a lot different to how most people digest music. I was born deaf and gaining my hearing years later made me absorb music in a way I have yet to see in someone else. In one way I think that if you don’t like a bands music, you are not limited to a shared experience; most bands are creative culture sponges that will love the same books as you, same films as you and speak the same cultural language. And in that place you can find common ground.
I listen to film scores and stuff like Haxan Cloak when I draw...so that probably says more than the paragraphs above hahahah.
Everyone has a shadow side. What’s yours?
"I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people. There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking. I want to earn enough money that I can get away from everyone. I see the worst in people. I don’t need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I’ve built my hatreds up over the years, little by little, Henry… to have you here gives me a second breath. I can’t keep doing this on my own with these… people."
Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis), There Will Be Blood.
We all have that inside us I think, ironically, its people who make the rest of the people bearable.
Ever drawn a dream or a nightmare?
Christ. My dreams are probably what ends up driving me to the bird house. Just continuous nightmares about saving kittens from the apocalypse.
Right, enough of the deep stuff. Do you have a favourite mug?
I love a good mug, a mug is to working folk what band tees are for youngsters; a way of saying something to the world with zero effort or commitment. My great uncle used to wear a badge that simply said "fuck you", he was 80 and wore it to bingo. My fav mug which is no longer with us as a mug, it now holds pens is a beautiful small handcrafted mug with a simple picture of a cat with its asshole showing. Elegant, skilful and an asshole. My mate Robbie Gemil gave me for my birthday.
What’s the greatest animal ever and why is it cats?
It’s the domesticated beasts I feel we have a responsibility towards cats and dogs; we asked them to help us and they did. I can’t even people hurting animals.
Best horror you’ve seen within the past year?
Annihilation, if you could call that a horror, I wouldn’t, but it scared me a little. I think we’ve all been exposed to enough pop-science to know deep down this is all for nothing and we are almost certain we don’t exist, but we fight to prove to ourselves that we do exist, and its that fight that causes us so much pain and suffering. I don’t mean anything about religion, or science, or quantum physics, or anything.....I mean that knowing, absolutely knowing, it’s meaningless. And that’s not a bad thing.
....and this is supposed to be the ‘light’ part of the interview.
Coolest, darkest, most curious object in your studio?
I couldn’t dare say what most people would find curious or dark. I have a few skulls things, crucifixes, originals, found objects, a real human spine, sculptures and prints people have made me through the years, letters from friends and fans, but if I absolutely had to talk about something it would be a piece of stone my friend sent me from the Amazon; a small stone found in the stream that had my name carved on it, in my handwriting and the word ‘art’ carved next to it. I lost it once and it turned up 6years later when someone I knew moved house and found it in their box.
Five albums you can listen to again and again and never tire of:
Big Business- Command Your Weather
Arctic Monkeys first album
Corrosion of Conformity- Americas Volume Dealer
Moloko - Do You Like My Tight Sweater
Unida- Urban Coyote
What’s the last book you read that you loved?
The complete poems and plays by T.S. Eliot. I get proper choked up reading his poems. I have his poems tattooed on my body.
The future! Are you excited? Do you dread it? Do you have plans for Halloween yet?
I always have great plans for Halloween. One year I spent months making a huge 6ft skull from bamboo and paper pulp and painted it. I was going to erect a 12 foot reaper in my garden with Lots of cloth and lights and a creepy soundtrack through some speakers. But I fell ill over Halloween and my plans withered like my pumpkins. Then on New Year’s Day I took it to a deserted beach Alone and set fire to it. Bottle of whiskey, some Chris Issac on the phone, beautiful sunset and a massive skull on fire. I have hope for the future, if they turn the web off.
Words by Nina Cresswell
Posted about a month ago | Return to Blog