Clan of Xymox’s Ronny Moorings: ‘I Have No Problem With the Term “Goth”‘

 

 

 

“Come now, don’t make such a funeral face. It isn’t dying that’s sad; it’s living when you’re not happy.” – Clara, The Torture Garden

 

Even serious fans would likely not have known it. But “Xymox” is some manner of inversion of the word “zymotic,” whose Merriam Webster definition is such: “relating to or being an infectious or contagious disease.”

So it’s hard not to attempt to extract some deeper meaning in Amsterdam’s gothic legends Clan of Xymox returning with new recorded material somewhere in the middle of a global pandemic—though their home continent seems to have a much greater handle on it than that part of North America that lies between the Canadian and Mexican borders. Existing continuously for three-and-a-half decades now, its figurehead and only constant member Ronny Moorings has been ever diving down deep into the psychological depths, so that we, his listeners, may be led towards the light amidst a world of so much darkness.

 

 

And indeed, a new album is due July 24—their 15th, and first in three years—titled ominously, Spider on the Wall. For some, certainly, assorted arachnids may have provided the only living companionship during these four months of quarantine…so the corona connection runs even deeper, if only by coincidence.

One wouldn’t be shocked at the album’s sonic palette, which draws on Clan of Xymox’s rich history of opulent, somber, and at times ominous atmospherics; but it does contain some of their absolute best work. One track, “She,” shares the chilly, shiver-inducing aesthetics of Disintegration era Cure, but with a significantly higher BPM. And the awesome “All I Ever Know” sets a tale of reflective romantic longing against a lush backdrop and relentlessly galloping electro beat. It is a masterpiece of visceral evocation.

Forced by the coronavirus to abandon a successful American tour in March, we caught up with Moorings while he was back in the cultural hotbed of Leipzig, where he currently lives with wife and bandmate Mojca Zugna.

 

 

The name Clan of Xymox refers back to the word zymotic, which relates to contagious diseases. How conscious are you of that right now, considering you’re releasing a new album during a global pandemic?

Yes, indeed, the name Xymox is a bastardized version of “zymotic.” It is also the last word in the dictionary. You can’t know when you have a band name what will happen later in life. I just wanted to infect people with my music, was all I had in mind.

Have fans brought it up?

No, so far no one.

Where have you been during quarantine, and what have you been busy with?

We were in the middle of a sold out US tour when we had to return home. Trump banned all flights from Europe when we were in Texas, and it seemed the best course to fly from Houston back home. It was already eerie, the whole international airport was dead. At home, just a few days later, we went under lockdown. No airplanes were allowed in. We were very lucky under the circumstances. Since there were no more shows to do, I concentrated on the new single, made a video for it, wrote some extra B-sides for the EPs, and did a remix for “Lesson Seven” that is also being released in July. Also spent quality time at home, tried to catch up with a lot of things I  never had the time for. So, I certainly did not get bored.

Other than yourself and Mojca Zugna, who is in the band right now?

The other live playing members are Sean Goebel, Mario Usai and Daniel Hoffmann.

Let’s not shy away—how comfortable are you with the term “goth?” Artists always seem to be running away from it, when it really is more about community than it is about any single style of music.

To me indeed it is about the community and not the musical direction. This community entails so many different styles of music it would be impossible to have all the categories labeled. I have no problem with the term “goth,” as I know what is meant by it.

Do you think the word “gothic” would be a better musical descriptor?

Absolutely a better term to describe this community…and a goth would be more a person with a certain gothic look.

You’ve never stopped making music—but do you have a sense that the Stateside level of enthusiasm for Clan of Xymox kind of ebbs and flows?

I don’t expect people to be fans for life; but I notice a lot of people of my generation still go to our shows and take their kids with them as well. We get a new audience all the time. The media tried to declare our scene dead more [times] than I can remember; but it is still the only viable scene, apart from metal, which continues to play for huge crowds who are totally loyal.

 

 

In Europe, you’re quite steadily popular, right?

We had four [straight] North American tours all sold out. In Europe it is the same. It is very unsettling that all of this has come to a grinding halt, and that there are no cultural events anymore. Clubs, promoters and bands are suffering. But here in Germany we were lucky; out of 80 million people, only 200,000 were known to be infected.

On a sonic level, the new track “She” draws noticeably upon the Clan Of Xymox aesthetic palette—but one can also hear echoes of The Cure. How much do your early contemporaries continue to influence your writing?

Don’t forget we come from the same timeline. I started a bit later, and was of course a fan of the band by the end of the seventies. I released an album [2012’s Kindred Spirits] with covers of bands which were important to me in my youth, and of course The Cure was one of them. 

“All I Ever Know” is about romantic disquietude. Do you find that subject is ever still grist for the creative mill?

If it wasn’t, then you [would] stop living. This single is more about the question, “What would have happened if I had not met you?” I took a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane making the video, and made it a kind of “homage“ to Mojca. It is a compilation of material I [already] had on video 8, and I filmed myself in my studio. The cities featured were Vienna, New York, London and Edinburgh.

What keeps you coming back to making new music, when so many others resort to just trotting out their old catalog on tour?

I guess I haven’t said all I wanted to say, and I haven’t written all the music I wanted to write. I still have the urge to create instead of rehash. We play older songs live, that is what you need to do to please your fans, and I never grow tired of it. Though the best feeling for me is playing new songs.

 

What inspired the album, musically and philosophically? What were you listening to when you wrote it?

If I write music and record songs, I have no time or desire to listen to music outside my little bubble. I try to create something that feels close to me, and have to delve into my being. There is no masterplan when I start. I take things as they come and most of the time the music dictates itself…and the words. Better I can’t explain this.

Do you find you’re still excited to finish a new album?

Absolutely! I am always surprised how it comes to me. I start off with absolutely no concept, but delve inside and see what comes out.

Do you find a kindred spirit in Metropolis Records?

Yes, Metropolis and Trisol are the labels who back me up 100%. I hope we will still have a long road ahead of us.

Clan of Xymox are a live act, certainly. What are your hopes and fears about the post-pandemic touring situation?

I could go on about this forever; but so far it looks like we can slowly do some shows here and there in Europe. I foresee more shows that we can drive to. The US and South America I don’t see happening before 2022. Especially now when again there are huge infection rates and renewed lockdowns. It is a sad situation we have to live with.

Looking back, what has been the overriding philosophy, or raison d’être of Clan of Xymox?

I only look forward so far. I do what I do, and that is the meaning of my existence. Each one of us has to find that kind of meaning in their life. I stick to my course no matter what.

What does Clan of Xymox mean to you?

My life.

 

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