Adam “Doom” Sewell
MONSTER VOODOO MACHINE
I was recently supposed to sit down and talk to Adam face to face at his office but due to a personal issue on my part I couldn’t make it. Adam was kind enough to take the time and answer the questions via email.
The band seemed to be on a steady rise to the top then all of a sudden there was what appeared to be a quick ending. What happened?
It was a combination of a lot of things; lack of support from the media at home, no radio-friendly singles on our albums, and just general burn out. It became really obvious that were running in circles, so we just stopped.
The media thought that we were never gonna be as cool as Finger 11 or Our Lady Peace, so we were tired of fighting a losing battle with the “hipster police”. (LOL)
Was the split amicable?
Hahaha.. I honestly don’t know. We never discussed it. We came home from the last show in Montreal and I think it was just an unspoken understanding that M.V.M was officially imploding.
Although, I have to say… no matter how many years went by – and I can say this now after spending the past 6 months around the guys again – I think we all knew in the back of our minds that we were gonna get back to it again – in one way or another.
There’s a fantastic creative bond between us that time has honestly only made stronger and more determined.
What did the band members do after the split?
Smashed things, got arrested, burned churches… (just joking!)
Everyone got busy playing with other bands: Redeemer, DAMN 13, The Day After, Scuzzy, Soulstorm, Automatic Dub Riot. Definitely no lack of great musical output from everyone.
Personally, I got really busy working the “biz” side of things. I ran Sanctuary Records in Canada for almost 6 years, then I founded Stereo Dynamite Recordings (The Creepshow,, Keepin’ 6, etc..) and most recently Riot Rock Management. I’ve just started managing Lacuna Coil and that’s been a fantastic milestone in my life.
Why a reunion now?
Some time around last Christmas (2006) the idea of making a new M.V.M album was eating away at me and I wanted to find a way to make it happen. Originally, I had planned to record bed tracks for the album with Dean (Bentley – drummer) and then ask the other guys if they were interested in playing on the album.
However, about a month later we all ended up at a party at Darren’s house at 2 am on f@#!’n freezing January night (this was the first time that the Suffersystem band line-up had all been in a room together in almost 10 years!) and the ball just started rolling from there about us getting back to work.
Are all the original members back?
Not an easy question to answer… the “original” line-up of the band split in 1992.
This is definitely the most famous line-up of the band – who toured endlessly and made the “Suffersystem” album.
Almost instantly after the last Voodoo show you went into the studio with a new project called Damn 13 which was more metal and less industrial. Was this more to your personal likings at the time?
The idea for DAMN 13 was to put together a really loose, fun, punk rock band that could just plug in and play anywhere. At the time (1997 / 1998) the most exciting music that I was hearing was stuff coming out of Sweden like The Hellacopters, The Backyard Babies and Gluecifer – bands with really great energy. Actually, I think that you can really hear that sound developing in a lot of the songs on the last Voodoo album “Direct Reaction Now!” (“Gimme A Riot”, etc…) and DAMN 13 was sort of an extension of that.
I really wanted to put something together that could capture that kinda frantic punk / rock energy. We ended up mixing in a bit of old C.O.C. and Samhain kinda riffs and it was a lot of fun playing with those guys.
And truthfully, at the time I also really wanted to run in the opposite direction of anything stereotypically Voodoo sounding for a while…
Do you lean more towards metal or industrial and what is the appeal of mixing industrial with metal.
Truthfully, I’m not a big fan of industrial music. And honestly, I never saw Voodoo as being an industrial-metal band. I always tried to mix things up and keep pushing forward with new ideas. I’ve always treated the keyboards and drum loops individually as thought they were just another instrument to help compliment the songs. As an example, just because Bruce Springsteen has saxophone in a good number of his songs, it doesn’t make him a jazz artist – if you know what I mean.
I love big guitars and big riffs, and I like to mix them with breakbeats, noises, keyboards and other “sounds” – but not in what I would consider to be a stereotypically “industrial” way. I’ve always been into groups like The Prodigy, Pop Will Eat Itself, The Chemical Brothers, Portishead, Massive Attack, lots of hip hop, trip hop, Neurosis, and groups that take an unconventional approach to mixing sounds with traditional rock music.
If anything, I think that Voodoo has more in common with groups who’s sound “evolves” over time, like Massive Attack, Neurosis and Primal Scream.
And at the end of the day, I don’t care if it’s Atari Teenage Riot, The Chemical Brothers, Entombed or Converge, just as long as I get that rush of energy and excitement from the music.
Where does he come up with the varied sounds that the band uses?
Well, 99.9% of the time, all of the “varied sounds” have been my doing. There have also been a handful of people who have contributed some stuff to albums over the years as well. Collaboration has always been really important to the band.
I just try to come up with stuff that will add to the overall texture and drama of the songs. You just can’t have a decent house fire without fire engine sirens! (LOL)
Why did you drop some of the industrial sounds from Damn 13
I really just wanted to play in a punk band, and not be bothered trying to do what I’d already done with Voodoo.
Even though Damn 13 is more metal, there are still some elements of the industrial edge. Why keep that certain element in both bands? Was it not to alienate fans?
Well, I guess the lesson learned is that you can’t run away from yourself! Hahahaha… Those “crash”, “bang”, “boom” noises Just seem to follow me wherever I go!
There are definitely a few typical “Sewell” sounds in both bands. (LOL) It certainly wasn’t intentional though. I suppose it has more to do with what I thought made sense for the songs at the time…
What are some of your influences?
The Clash. They taught me that you can do whatever you want with music. As long as you “feel it” – then it’s all good.
Hearing them move effortlessly through punk, reggae, rock, dub, rockabilly, electronic, hip hop, jazz and pop made me realize at a very young age that it’s a big world out there and that you can paint with colors other than just black and white.
What kind of metal in the past 10 years do you think has been excellent?
Personally, I’m more into hardcore bands like Tragedy, His Hero Is Gone, Talk Is Poison, Cursed, Disfear, Vision Of Disorder and From Ashes Rise. Although, I like some earlier In Flames, Darkest Hour and more heavy riff / stoner rock kinda stuff like Seemless, Unida and Trouble. And of course Lacuna Coil… Hahaha…
Oh, and Slipknot – who I personally think kinda took a lot of what Voodoo had done and pushed it to some real extreme conclusions. I’m not saying that they ripped us off at all! I just think that they had some of the same ideas, but were able to really push the limits with it. And I personally don’t care if anyone thinks that they’re metal or not. They’re just an incredible band, and really great guys.
The other guys in Voodoo are really big into bands like Behemoth, Gojira and some crazy black metal bands that wear corpse paint and run around the forests playing with broadswords. How’s that for fuckin’ metal!
Did coming from Canada help/hinder the band back in the day?
It’s always worked against us. Even now. We really are 180 degrees out of step with what’s going on here at home.
Also all of that f@#!’n ironic moustache / indie rock crap that the Canadian media loves, stopped us from getting any real exposure at home. So I’ve been thinking of changing the band name to “Mother Mother Voodoo Wolf Arcade Scene” just to hopefully get some attention… (LOL)
Why is now a good time to resurrect MVM instead of say 5 years ago?
I had to wait until I knew inside of myself that it was time. One day the devil on my shoulder gave me the nod and I knew it was time to get back on the pale horse again.
This isn’t about selling albums, or tying to cash in on anything that we’ve done in the past, so time is really irrelevant. This is about exorcising creative demons, and really nothing else.
Will there be a new album?
Absolutely! We’re already about 1/2 way into it now.
The title is “RISE DEMON RISE”.
Will it pick up where you left off or, will you be trying something new…if so what can we expect?
We’re making the soundtrack to some horrific Frankenstein or Godzilla film. Music to play video games to. This ain’t gonna be something to play in coffee houses while pretentious assholes sit around discussing the latest Adam Egoyan film.
For the first time ever, I really think that we’re embracing the band name MONSTER VOODOO MACHINE and making an album for everyone’s inner destructive 15 year old who wants to let out some aggression.
We’re taking all of the strongest elements from our past albums and mixing them with some really intense riffs and ideas. We’ve already played the title track (RISE DEMON RISE) at the show in August and it seemed to go over really well and set the mood for what we’re doing now.
The only thing that we’re kicking to the curb is any sense of punk rock guilt. I’ve strangled that albatross. So lyrically, the album is a bit more fun and abstract. I don’t ever need to write “3 Year Plan” or “Born Gulty” again, if you know what I mean..?
What was it like touring with the likes of Fight (Halford) and bands like Marylin Manson, Life of Agony and Carcass?
They were all f@#!’n douchebags.
Just joking (LOL). It was all fantastic. There’s really no way to quickly sum up all of those experiences. I would say though that it was a great feeling being treated as peers at that time by most of those bands. And truthfully for the most part, they were all really cool people.
MVM was the 1st Canadian band to play on an Ozzfest. How did that come about?
Motorhead – who we shared management with at the time – were set to headline the second stage and they asked us to play as well. I got to see like 50 Motorhead shows that summer!
Of course we came back home and no one in Canada believed us that we’d even done the tour! BWBK reported that we played in a parking lot at one show – or something like that. Hahahaha… Also, the mainstream press were still only covering bands like BNL and Our Lady Peace back then, so nada coverage for us. This was before the media couldn’t ignore Sharon Osbourne and the Ozzfest…
As a result it was a really hollow feeling coming home after that tour.
Did you get much support from Much Music and the Power Hour back in the day?
We owed everything to Much Music back then. Radio wouldn’t touch us, the press hated us, but the Much metal / loud programs were always very supportive. Theresa and Tonja were amazing.
Do you think you will get more support this time?
Who knows? Only time will tell!
Nowadays you own your own label Stereo Dynamite Recordings. What prompted the start of the business?
I’ve always been interested in the business side of music. Production, distribution, A&R, marketing, all of it…
The label gives me the opportunity to work with some artists that I find to be really inspiring. And the whole process of finding a band, signing them, making an album, marketing it, watching the band grow and seeing people discover the band as their fan base grows is a really awesome experience.
Is it going well for you?
Absolutely! It’s been a fantastic experience.
Any other projects in the works?
I’d like to finish the AUTOMATIC DUB RIOT album one day soon. We’ve written some killer punk-dub / rockabilly stuff that I want people to hear. However, we can’t seem to find our guitar player though… so that’s been a bit of a headache… (LOL)
Also, Darren and Jason are still out killing it with Redeemer, and Dean is playing drums for C’Mon.
What do you have planned for the future that you’d like to share with us??
I’ve been working on 2 books that I’d like put out soon. One tentatively called “Sunshine” which is just rambling thoughts on all aspects of my life as a second class citizen in Toronto, and another called “Goodnight America… There Will be No Encore” which is my attempt at a black comedy.
I’m sure that none of you will be reading them soon. (LOL)
More albums or are you content with being on the business side now?
Lots more albums! At least one or two more Voodoo albums and a few Automatic Dub Riot releases.
After that, I think I’ll stick to the biz side of things and maybe work exclusively on books and art – which I now find to be a bit more cathartic.
Thanks for your time and anything you’d like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules?
Thank you to Celtic Bob and everyone at MR! And of course to everyone who suffered through reading this! I know that you could have been reading through TMZ or another fascinating profile on some crap radio bands, so we really appreciate your time! Hopefully we’ll see you all soon!
Live pics and MVM Group shot by Celtic Bob 2007