The magic of darkness

When Voodoo Church released their self titled 12“ EP in 1982 they surely not presaged that this record and the band would be considered as cult years later. Vocalist Tina Winter and her crew nowadays are one of the most biassing bands with regard to the early US deathrock. After a long hiatus Voodoo Church these days return with a new record, their debut album „Unholy Burial“ (Strobelight Records). A welcome occasion to put limelight on Tina and the new members Randall Cole (bass), Brian Elizondo (guitars) and former Fear Cult drummer Tony Havoc.

VIRUS!: First of all, how does it feel after all these years to be back again with a new record, which is also your full length debut?

Tina: I re-launched Voodoo Church a couple of years ago but it took a while to find the right members to produce the sound I was looking for. Not since the EP has there been a more pivotal line-up than the one we have now. To finally release a full-length album is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I’m very excited about the new songs and can’t wait for the world to hear it.

VIRUS!: What have you done all over the years? I read you've been in UK studying music?

Tina: I did spend some time in the UK playing music but that was a very long time ago. In my most recent years before re-starting Voodoo Church, I was in a deep Vampiric Hibernation.

VIRUS!: Voodoo Church are considered as kinda cult band/legend within the gothic scene although you’ve only released one EP back in 1982. How would you try to explain this, how do you feel when people talk about the band this way?

Tina: I’m always flattered when I hear people talk about Voodoo Church as a legendary band since there was only one EP released. But maybe it was the mystic of only having one EP with exceptional songs that caused this. It makes me wonder what could have happened if a full-length album was ever released back then.

VIRUS!: How are your feelings when you’re listening to you EP today, 23 years later?

Tina: I’m still proud of the work we did and the songs I wrote on the EP. To me they will forever be classics and they were the first expressions of myself to the public. I hope the songs would be able to haunt the fortunate souls for eternity.

VIRUS!: How did you meet the new band members?

Tina: I met Randall at a Pagan festival in Hollywood a few years ago and our collaboration was a major step in bringing Voodoo Church back. The re-birth of Voodoo Church wasn’t easy at first. It was hard to find the right members that had a uniqueness and understanding of what Voodoo Church is about. Our drummer, Tony Havoc (Fear Cult) contacted me and after our first meeting, I knew he was perfect for Voodoo Church. As a long time fan of Voodoo Church, Tony had a complete understanding of what I was looking for and he knew the perfect guitar player for the band and that’s how Brian Elizondo came aboard. The connection we all share goes far beyond just being band mates. Rehearsals are a lot of fun with these guys and we really care and support each other. It's definitely like a family.

VIRUS!: Do you still have contact to the former members?

Tina: I’m still in touch with the original guitarist, Bob Reimer who I co-wrote all the Voodoo Church songs with. Once in a while the bass player on the EP, Jeff Porter contacts me and in our most recent conversation, he had told me that the rhythm guitarist, Shadow recently passed away due to illness.

VIRUS!: You participated on Strobelight's compilation "New Dark Age 2", how did this come up?

Tina: Strobelight first contacted me about having a song from the EP, “Live With the Dead” on the “Strobelights Vol.1” compilation. They were happy to hear that I had some new material available and that lead to the song “New Death” being on “New Dark Age 2”.

VIRUS!: Your album has a very varied face, there can be found melancholic parts as well as some powerful parts, there’s deathrock in it as well as gothic rock and even some punky attitude at times. What they do have in common is the intense, dark atmosphere. What's your statement on this? How would you describe "a good song", what's a must for a song?

Tina: When I started writing the new songs, my intention was not to recreate the old sound but to just write what came naturally. Since I was a little child I was always drawn to the darkness. My goal in writing is to express my creative side while embracing and evolving the darkness. I definitely know a song is right for Voodoo Church when it has a certain dark sensual element that’s hard to describe. Whether the theme of the song is about anger, passion or mystery there is a common thread of darkness that runs through them.

VIRUS!: How did you come up with the title of the album? And how does the title refer to the lyrics of the album?

Tina: The title of the album, Unholy Burial is symbolic of laying certain things of my past to rest. It’s like getting rid of the things that slow you down so that you may move forward which is also reflected in a couple of songs on the album.

VIRUS!: On your album we can find a cover version of The Cure’s "Figurehead". How did the idea for this song come up? What’s your aim regarding a cover version, how should the result be?

Tina: "Figurehead" was one of my favorite Cure songs, which was very influential to me and I originally recorded this song for myself. Strobelight worked hard to get permission to have it on the album, which is a huge bonus for me. When we play this song live it’s an amazing experience for us. It’s hard to explain but we go into a trance-like state and get lost in the song. It’s very hypnotizing and wonderful.

VIRUS!: How did the idea come up for your "deadication page" as seen on your site?

Tina: The “deadication page” on the website is something we did for fun to honor some of the people who’s work we have admired and enjoyed. We like to think of it as our own little internet-mausoleum.

VIRUS!: You’re thanking Fox Network regarding "Renovate My Family". Can you tell us about what’s behind this series and how the cooperation happened?

Tina: At first a production company for Fox approached us with an idea for a new Television show and we thought it would be good exposure for Voodoo Church. It was an amazing experience that has left me with a wonderful new home as well as some new Voodoo Church fans.

VIRUS!: Are there any plans to present this album live? Could you give us a view behind the curtain – how should we imagine a Voodoo Church live gig?

Tina: The planning stages for supporting this album is a little early at the moment but we have started lining up some shows for January. As far as what to expect from a live Voodoo Church gig, we have some new props and we are working out some wonderful ideas that we don’t want to spoil. It will be a show of delicious darkness.

VIRUS!: Are there plans to re-release the songs from your EP from '82?

Tina: I have had some talks about re-releasing the EP with possibly some bonus tracks that were recorded in 1982, but for now, I just want to focus on the new album. If there are any new developments on the re-release of the EP, it will be announced on the official Voodoo Church website, We have a mailing list on the website and we always inform those on the mailing list first whenever we have any news to report. So sign up, it's free!

VIRUS!: When you compare the scene back then with the current one, what comes to your mind? Are there some current bands you think are outstanding?

Tina: Back then it was a really fun time for me. There were a lot of great bands and there was this incredible buzz in the air. This time saw the birth of my band, Voodoo Church and Rozz’s Christian Death which I look back with fond memories. There aren’t as many clubs to go to now as there were back then to hear this kind of music. But for the few that are out there now, they’re cool to go to and I wish I could go to them more often. There are many great current bands out their today and quite a few can be found on a Strobelight release.

VIRUS!: What are your hopes & dream & plans for the (near) future?

Tina: My hopes, dreams and plans for Voodoo Church are to grow and become a bigger success. We hope to be able to tour Europe in the near future and finally meet our European fans in the flesh. In closing, I would like to say hello to all the fans out there and thank the DJ's for playing Voodoo Church and keeping the name alive all these years.

Breda, 05 Dec 2004