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Fiery Jack (aka Rob Goblin): Talks Solo Works, The Teapot Goblins, Saltmen, Katabasis and Eight Living Legs (Auckland, New Zealand)

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It took me time to get through all of the craziness of our first tour, which had it’s ups and downs but I have time now to  come back to SoundCloud. I miss SoundCloud sometimes. What I typically do on here, is talk about other SoundCloud musicians whose music I enjoy. Fiery Jack is one of those musicians and as my first entry back on Soundcloud Music Reviews, I’d like to introduce this musician who is also known as Rob Goblin. Goblin from Auckland, New Zealand. His style is a mixture of various genres including cabaret/avant-garde, 90s sludge, Goth rock,  psychedelic rock, post-punk and even in certain elements of blues (depending upon the song.)
One thing that all of his creations have in common are Goblin’s deep and powerful vocals that has the tendency to be both unnerving and deliberately creepy. Rob’s vocals strike each note with a signature powerful drone of distinct sounds. His voice brings to the listener a sense of the human experience that can be so enveloped and consumed sometimes by emotional turbulence and pain. Call it a strong passion for Gothic music and culture. Goblin’s music is indeed relatable on multiple scales, and I understand what he’s trying to do here and I think he really has something special to offer in the music world.
I first discovered Fiery Jack after listening to his cover of the John Lennon’s song “Working Class Hero” and like the way it was carried out musically, polished in an admirable dark, dimly-lit, and charmingly gloomy ambience. As soon as I heard that track, I had to search for more. That is how I found Fiery Jack’s other projects such as The Teapot Goblins, Katabasis, Saltmen, and also his old project Eight Living Legs. What would have it, I found many of these creations to be highly pleasing to my ears and energetically compelling. The creative processes must have taken time, authentic imagination and a unique ability to write lyrics that meshed so well with its melody. You are given a sense of “morbid joy” in many ways. Me being as I am at times, and my view points, I appreciate Goblin’s awareness and perspectives concerning life in general. Not every song has to be a bag of candy canes, daffodils, happy faces and songs about love wrapped in neon pink ribbon. Fuck you mainstream and fuck you Top 40!
With that said, here are a few of my Goblin/Fiery Jack favorites.

                                                       PERSONAL TRACK FAVORITES


                                                                    CATARACT

The song Cataract, starts out in whispers and there we imagine what seems to be the creepy shadow man in your closet. With avant-garde ambience, this rock/industrial piece portrays the agonizing struggle of what might be a dark circus clown of character that is not afraid to show the inner anger, rage that plagues the human condition. It posses a certain “fuck you” undertone that one can’t help but love. I myself am no stranger to the psychological struggles of life and being misunderstood frequently. That is why Cataract that appears in Fiery Jack “Katabasis” project has become on of my track favorites among his works. Listen to the link above and you’ll see what I mean.

                                                         FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY

I don’t know how I could’ve missed this one. Dreamy and dark, the track False Sense of Security is listed among the Eight Living Legs project archives. This project has remained active has a whole new set of songs, sound and style in recent years. However, this song won me over no only for its guitar but also with it’s project featuring lyrics such as “There’s no sun on the horizon, but there’s a break up in the clouds. You’re so wrapped up in this plastic world, but when I walk my head is bowed. There is a sense of doubt. My illusions start to fade. I’m tired of living in the sun. I want to spend some time in the shade.”

This track ultimately has won me over here with sounds reminiscent of 90s sludge and grunge. When you have time you should definitely subscribe to Eight Living legs on YouTube and SoundCloud.

 

                                                             GINGER BREAD SATAN

The name says it all. Similar to SecondGingerbread Satan, lo-fi and simplistic shows a different side among Rob Goblin among his tracks. Also from Katabasis, I’m sharing with you a little treat among his songs compacted with curiosities and oddities. Even naturally Fiery Jack has with this track, a tilt-a-whirl twisted echo with a classic taste of creepiness in which Goblin allows his works to indulge and embrace. You’d still know his singing either way it is presented whether that be otherworldly existence among the dead (speaking in what sounds to be like multiple tongues (such as in the track Wolves) or lying in the other spectrum without any mixing or vocal effects at all (such as in Gingerbread Satan.)
I wanted to know more about Rob Goblin and what he had to say about his music. I wanted to talk to Fiery Jack himself to learn and discover more. I have included the interview within this article below.

THE INTERVIEW


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“Tell me more about The Teapot Goblins, The Saltmen and Katabasis.”

GOBLIN: The Teapot Goblins and Katabasis are both solo projects of mine. I like inventing band names and I’ve got a whole list. There are two that have stuck. ‘The Teapot Goblins’ was supposed to be more quirky whereas Katabasis was meant to be more heavy with possible keyboards and samples. At the moment they’re sort of all mixed up.

I’ve also put stuff up under the name ‘Witch Amoeba’ and other names I might use are ‘Council of Bad Knaves’ and ‘Disney Porn‘.

Saltmen is a collaboration with someone from Greece I met on SoundCloud, who goes by the name of Koma Gaeshi. He had a lot of instrumental tracks on SoundCloud and I liked his style. I had commented on some of them and one day he asked if I wanted to do a collaboration. I agreed and so ‘Saltmen’ was born. I send him ideas or a skeleton track or vice versa and the other one puts their stamp on it. We’ve done 3 tracks so far and are working on another three. The next one to go up on SoundCloud will probably be ‘Twice Two is Four’ (a song about patricide.) He has got an extreme metal background, so the tracks usually end up sounding heavier than my stuff, which I like.

“How’d you get the name Fiery Jack?”

GOBLIN: Fiery Jack is a song by one of my favorite bands, The Fall.

Mark E Smith is one of my heroes and I like his lyrics, although I probably wouldn’t last half an hour in his company. It sounds like he was a cantankerous old sod. I do a bit of clowning and again like making up different characters. I do some fire spinning and fire eating/breathing so that character became Fiery Jack. It just happened to be the name I started my SoundCloud account with. I have other characters/names, Baron Samedii, Able Danger and Robin Goodfellow. I get bored with a name quickly, but I can’t keep changing them all the time so Fiery Jack it is for now. My real name of course is Rob Goblin and I’m descended from a long line of hobgoblins. My great great grandfather was a hobgoblin that lived on a farm in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600s.

*(Liz’s special note to self. lol!)*

“What is the underground music scene like where you live? Is there an underground music scene?”

GOBLIN: I live in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s a country with a small population. There is a thriving underground scene I’m told, but I don’t go out that much, so I’m not really in the loop. I know there are plenty of bands around but often the audience is lacking. I’ve never really felt that much affinity with N.Z bands ‘mon cher compatriotes.’ They seem to have completely different musical taste than me. A few years back there was a whole scene from Dunedin that I never understood at all.
One N.Z band I do like is Split Enz. Split Enz was a very creative band. Their earlier stuff, which I doubt is well known internationally, is pretty crazy. If anyone is interested look up, ‘Spellbound’,’ Late Last Night’, or ‘My Mistake’ on YouTube. There are some local bands I like, but they will be unknown to anyone else.

“What are some of your favorite tracks so far that you have created to date? Albums? What makes them particularly special to you? What inspired them?”

GOBLIN: I guess one of my favorites is ‘Shesh Besh’ which I’ve only got on YouTube at the moment. It’s just recorded in my bedroom on acoustic guitar, straight into the inbuilt mic of my laptop so its not great quality. It was inspired by a short film a friend of mine made about the Palestinian situation. I tried to create a middle eastern type feel. ‘Shesh Besh’ is the word the Israelis use for Backgammon which was the name of the film.
A good documentary on Palestine, written by an Israeli is ‘The Zionist Story” by Ronen Berelovich. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA1lDow-0rk

(Above is the link to the documentary; below is A Cup Of Tea)

‘A Cup of Tea’ is another track I like. I am playing with the expression the English like to use ‘ I could murder a cup of tea’, meaning I would love one. I wanted to try and capture a David Lynch, Pink Room kind of atmosphere, so there’s an influence there. I love David Lynch especially Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks. I get a lot of inspiration from his films. It’s a song about repressed anger, frustration and ennui I guess. As I often do with my lyrics, I like to plagiarize/ reference lines from other sources especially literature.
For example’ one line I use from Macbeth is ‘something wicked this way comes’ which one of the three witches says when Macbeth enters.

If the listener is familiar with the quote, then the whole of Macbeth is in your song and so it adds more depth to the lyrics. Of course its a play about a murder. If they’re not familiar with it, then well, it doesn’t matter. Of course I’m not the first person to do this.

I already had my version of the song. I sent it to to Koma Gaeshi minus the guitar parts to see how he would interpret it. He added his own guitar tracks and so I ended up with two versions, one by The Teapot Goblins, and one by Saltmen. It’s interesting to compare the different interpretations.
“How would you best describe your particular sound? What genres do you feel particularly drawn to?”
GOBLIN: I don’t really know how to describe my sound, I think that’s for other people to decide. I would just use the general description  ‘alternative rock’. I think all these genres get a bit ridiculous. Sure you need some sort of description, but when you get these sub genre like ‘blackened melodic death grunge lofi emo desert pop rock,’ I think it gets stupid. For example I wouldn’t know the difference between Black Metal and Death Metal. I don’t really care. I either like a song or I don’t. Having said that I’m drawn to Funeral Doom, haha. I’ve always liked stuff that is slow and dark and atmospheric, bands like Ahab, Evoken, and Skepticism.
“What are some of your musical influences?”
GOBLIN: Influences are a tricky one for me. One of my all time heroes (which might seem strange in the context of Funeral Doom and the Fall) is Paul Simon. I think he’s a genius, musically and lyrically, but can I say he’s an influence?  I’ve never tried writing in that sort of style and I doubt I could. My music is so far removed, I don’t know if you could say there’s an influence there.I could probably say the same about people like Louis Armstrong and Stevie Wonder as well. I’ve always liked the post punk thing. Bands like The Fall, Birthday Party, Gang of Four, Joy Division, PIL, Theatre of Hate, Bauhaus etc. I always liked that sort of DIY approach, not over produced, rough round the edges, but innovative and with real feeling.
That’s why I like SoundCloud. Most people are on there because music is their passion. The music generally has integrity. Whether it’s my cup of tea or not is irrelevant. I respect anyone that is serious and passionate about what they do and puts thought into it. Even well known bands that might fall under the heading of ‘alternative’ to me often seem very overproduced and mainstream. Music seems very corporate these days. It’s like the industry has a complete strangle hold on everyone. I like the old blues guys, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, etc. David Bowie is a big hero of mine. I went through a phase of being obsessed with Diamanda Galas. Then there’s bands like Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Tiger Lilies, Dead Brothers, and Rasputina that I guess come under the general heading of ‘dark cabaret.’
The person I get compared to the most is probably Nick Cave. I’m not trying to sound like him, but I naturally seem to go in that direction. I was a big Birthday Party and Bad Seeds fan, but I don’t tend to listen to him much now, partly because I don’t want to be influenced by him.
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“What instruments do you play and when did you become a vocalist? Did you take lessons when you were younger or was musical creation just the natural progression?”

GOBLIN: I started off playing drums as a teenager and sort of picked up guitar and bass along the way. I also dabble in a bit of keyboards, so I’m a bit of a Jack of all trades. My first band was called ‘Eight Living Legs’ which has continued to the present in various incarnations. I first started singing with them, mainly because we didn’t have a vocalist and I was writing the songs. I’ve had some music lessons. I took violin lessons for about a year and piano lessons also for about a year, but mainly I’ve just picked things up by ear. Now, YouTube is my biggest teacher. I’m a bit of a YouTube junkie.

 
“What are some of the song meanings behind your music? Are there particular artistic concepts within your tracks and albums?”
GOBLIN: I guess I mainly write about my shadow; fear, anger, depression, anxiety etc. I get a lot of ideas from literature. For example I’ve just reread ‘Brave New World’. Huxley wrote it in 1931 and its frightening how accurate he seems to have predicted our modern day society. There are some good themes to explore in there. Sometimes a quote will inspire me. ‘Skeleton Dance’ was inspired by a quote from Bernard Shaw. “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”
I don’t like to get political, but government corruption in general is another theme. I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist at times. I don’t tend to write too many love songs. I tend to avoid relationships. I haven’t got a very good track record!
“Tell me more about the song Cataract. That’s one of my favorites.”
GOBLIN:  I was listening to a lot of Diamanda Galas at the time. I originally had a version with a backwards violin sample in it, but I lost that one. This one I replaced with guitar. Cataract has a double meaning, the eye condition and a waterfall. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going on about. There are several themes going on at once, but I think its about people’s insensitivity/blindness, shaming, and judgments not fitting into the group mentality.
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I like to write lyrics from a place where I’m not entirely sure what I’m writing about, but a line just feels right. I’m hoping it comes from a deeper more authentic place. It’s more from the gut (the intuition rather than the intellect. ) It’s either that or my lyrics are just a bad muddle of unrelated ideas. ha. I like words that make you think, that aren’t obvious and that can mean different things to different people. The phrase ‘a necklace of shoes’ is pinched from the Salman Rushdie novel ‘Shame’. In the Pakistani culture, depicted in the book, a necklace of shoes is an insult (a public shaming.)
“Okay. Ending question: who have you collaborated with before and would you consider collaborations with other artists? “
GOBLIN: As I say I have an ongoing collaboration with Koma Gaeshi, Saltmen. I also sang on a track by ‘Spookshow Inc’ which is another Soundcloud band. I was asked by Lucky Spook (the main force behind the band) if I would sing on one of their tracks for a CD. I was glad to do it and I am grateful to Lucky for pulling me out of the apathy that I was in at the time and getting me motivated again. I’m always open to collaborations, but the main enemy is time. When you are not a professional musician and you have to work, then creative time becomes quite precious, so I have to be careful not to over commit.
                                                       FINAL THOUGHTS
Overall, I like Fiery Jack’s ideas and philosophies concerning music and literature. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and reading it upon closer inspection. It was relatable, and I could connect to the idea of being shoved into one genre and expected to stay there by others, when music is indeed a spiritual journey of its own. The music, and the fact that you like what you create at the end of the day, should matter. As it matters to me, so does this fact to Rob Goblin. Check out his YouTube and Soundcloud at the links below and forgive me for my 6 month lapse of insanity here. As always, thank you for the support.
-Liz aka one of two Cannibal Fae from Waking Dream
Fiery Jack’s SoundCloud Page:

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