Twilight of the Gods 3.0
“The discovery that we aren’t really rock stars after all was pretty disillusioning,” Dorian Deveraux describes the conclusion he has drawn from the experience of having started out as whizzkids. While Europe’s Capital of Culture has continued to flourish around them, dystopia dominated Jesus On Extasy for a long time. A band which opts for this kind of name knows no gods: while the industrial rock act still sang of biblical beauty on their first release, they learned to love their enemy one testament later. But what happens when you turn out to be your own worst adversary, and the glorious halo which surrounds you proves to be hypocritical? On their third album “No Gods”, Jesus On Extasy not only answer this question, they also live through it.
By François Duchateau
“Synthesizers lend themselves just as much to being smashed as guitars. Perhaps even more.”
Jesus On Extasy’s rollercoaster career has left its marks on the vocalist who, together with co-founder Chai Deveraux, embarked in 2005 on the mission of packaging suffering & love into digital rock songs. To this end, the two brothers-in-spirit have not simply cross-bred synthesizers and e-guitars; too many industrial rock acts have bluntly dragged staccato riffs across retro drum machines over the decades. JOE, on the other hand, have expanded the range of their genre with the realisation that inner strife, heartache and catchy tunes do not have to be excluded from synthetic rock music – after all, a good helping of glamour has never done anybody any harm. “You have an unbelievable wealth of sonic options if you blend both instrumental worlds,” production genius Chai describes the hybrid approach of these contemporary rockers. “This combination can create a lot of depth without killing off that rock feel.” Sound fetishism alone isn’t enough for limelight hogger Dorian: “And anyway, synthesizers lend themselves just as much to being smashed as guitars. Perhaps even more.”
DIY is the name of the game
“Do it yourself” has been the motto of the duo, and so they entered the online stage with viral guerrilla promotion at a time when MySpace was still in its teething stages. Fans of KMFDM & Co. soon declared JOE a cult act, and the self-appointed fathers of industrial rock themselves professed their enthusiasm for the first demos by Deveraux Inc. with a remix of the smash hit ‘Assassinate Me’, when the godfathers normally wouldn’t have lifted a finger for a newcomer act without a label. The insiders’ tip propelled itself single-handedly into L'Âme Immortelle’s support program, yet Jesus On Extasy had already celebrated their major breakthrough months before at the Bochum Total Festival, where they spontaneously stepped in at 24 hours notice for Zombie Joe, who had had to cancel their show. In an impressive setting, the Deveraux connection (at that time still featuring bassist Ivy) entranced a good thousand festival revellers. Drakkar Entertainment’s executive floor witnessed this memorable event and proved unable to resist these synthetic womanizers. True to the motto of their seductive debut album “Holy Beauty“, spring 2007 saw Dorian and Chai pose together with newly-recruited guitarist Alicia Vayne (ex-Pain) and queen of keys, Ophelia Dax (who has also embarked on a solo project under the name of Leandra), on the covers of various music magazines, which also couldn’t get enough of the successor album, “Beloved Enemy”, in 2008.
Are we heroes?
After Jesus On Extasy had shared the stage with other antichrist superstars such as Marilyn Manson, Project Pitchfork, Tool and Skinny Puppy, mesmerised the M’Era Luna Festival and performed at Oberhausen’s sold-out Königs-Pilsener-Arena, “the danger of losing touch with reality was great,” Dorian confesses today. “You feel like a giant rock star and people adore you. But make no mistake: we’re no heroes!” The digital dandies have returned to planet Earth after their exhilaration waned, informing their fans of this fact in the title track of their third album, “No Gods”. “Don’t wait for me, ’cause I can’t show you heaven,” begs the beau in the chorus. “There were real rock stars around in the 1970s and 80s, those people were gods. These days, a lot of people may be adored or cast as rock stars, but they’re not.” Dorian pays tribute to one of the idols of his adolescence on “Movie Star”: “’Lost Boys’ actor Corey Haim died this year. I was very touched by his fate. Fame practically gnawed away at him.” “He’s dead but no one cares,” – an example which taught him just how quickly showbiz glamour can fade.
A roller coaster ride with consequences
If you suddenly lead a life in the fast lane, “your fuses can easily blow,” the model rockstar describes the band’s intense everyday life. “The time following ‘Beloved Enemy’ certainly wasn’t easy for us.” Disagreements, different objectives – the mood changed, claiming a victim in Alicia Vayne, who was replaced by drummer BJ. Initially, “No Gods” appeared to be star-crossed: “After all those internal problems, we thought about calling it a day with one final album. But during the recordings we suddenly realised that all those differences had injected even more power into the songs of the project which we all care about so much. We absolutely wanted to focus this energy.” Thanks to their creative cooperation, the band members grew closer again, “coming out of the crisis stronger than ever,” as Dorian puts it. A key moment at the rehearsal room was the turning point: “The battle lines were drawn, but a half-hour jam session over a simple blues riff had everybody realise that the magic was back, without anybody having said a word.” Their subsequent performance at the Blackfield Festival permanently poured oil on troubled waters. Together, Jesus On Extasy are burning again, and nobody’s even thinking of calling it a day – quite the opposite: the quintet is set to lift the secret surrounding a tour of Germany with one of this year’s chart breakers, completely focussing on the release of “No Gods” (27 August 2010).
Letting off steam
Sound guru Tim Schuldt was asked to channel JOE’s energetic fields – “the right man at the right time,” the vocalist with the double D feels. “We wanted our music to sound harder, more rocking. Show steel, sweat and muscles, as we say in the Ruhr.” The dynamic drumming of new skinsman Dino has moved into the foreground, and the opener “Revenge” is about to dwarf many an industrial rock act from the States. Mind you, JOE’s typically romantic dance on a razor blade certainly isn’t a thing of the past: in the band’s tried-and-tested tradition, the LP closes with the meditative ballad “Tonight”, putting the complexity of the group’s sonic cosmos in a nutshell. Although “Transitoriness” broaches the issue of aging, Dorian made his old childhood dream come true with the “No Gods” cover shoot: art designer Grace Khold transformed Jesus On Extasy into sinister super-antiheroes, telling the story of the CD in a vivid cyber comic. “Riot” sees the Deverauxs let off steam, leaving behind their days of suffering and declaring war on false heroic sagas. Their new motto is to take life into their own hands and rebel if need be. “The true heroes are all those who won’t let themselves be blinded and continue to fight against the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s high time somebody set BP’s headquarters on fire.” JOE are bringing the powder keg. Anybody got a light?