When I was told I was interviewing Stolen Babies, I didn’t really know what to expect. They were a name I had heard before in passing thanks to my love of The Dillinger Escape Plan as well as seeing them in the occasional magazine, but I knew I had heard them before. So my mission was to give them a more thorough listen first so I didn’t sound like a total dumbass. Then I realized that they are a band I should have listened to a whole lot more. Their music is odd, yet fun, and wonderful for those days when you’re not sure what the hell you actually want to listen to but you want to hear something good. When I was done listening to them I actually had some questions to ask that didn’t involve asking if they liked Tim Burton based on their music videos.
JG: You have such a unique sound that is so rare to find these days, where does your fan base come from? Is it the metal kids, the indie kids, the goths or a mix of them all?
Rani: Never really took inventory of what musical genre our fan base claims allegiance to but we tend to see a lot of black t-shirts in the crowd. So this means they’re either goth or it could just mean they’re in between laundry cycles and it was just time to bust out the darks. We’ve played with so many different types of bands over the years and have been exposed to so many different audiences it just seems to make sense that our fan base is varied.
JG: Aside from Styx and Flogging Molly I can’t think of many other bands that have an accordion player. Where did the idea to incorporate the accordion come from?
Dominique: Oh there are bands o'plenty with accordion out there! For me, it came out of necessity and reluctancy! I'd been playing off and on since I was 17, and in other projects. I never wanted to use it in Stolen Babies, because I was hesitant to be an accordion playing front person. For a while, I enjoyed keeping the two worlds separate. Being a singer in a rock band that played certain kinds of shows, and playing accordion in another, completely different setting. But as I became gradually more invested in Stolen Babies and found the need to make my artistic voice heard, I found that my singing voice alone wasn't enough. I needed to bring in songs and parts in with an instrument, and the accordion was the one that I was most comfortable on.
JG: I think the first time that I had even heard the name Stolen Babies was when I heard Gil was playing drums for The Dillinger Escape Plan on Ire Works. That album also happens to be one of the craziest, yet finest albums of the past ten years. Did the commercial success of that album help Stolen Babies or did it temporarily derail everything?
Gil: It definitely helped… didn’t derail anything on our end. The timing of that just happened to be when Stolen Babies went in to a hiatus. I jumped in the studio with Dillinger three days after Stolen Babies got home from a 7 week tour with Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and In This Moment. We did really well on that tour and the band was buzzing. We expected to keep our momentum going and go back on tour after I finished the Dillinger album but we ended up going on a hiatus instead… The Dillinger guys were cool with Stolen Babies and willing to work around my schedule but I knew once Stolen Babies got back in gear it would be hard to juggle both bands.
One great opportunity we had was touring with Dillinger in Europe for two months. It was epic! We all shared a bus and I played drums with both bands for 50 shows. It was Stolen Babies first time in Europe and we got an amazing response. We didn’t know what kind of reaction to expect from the crowds and it exceeded our expectations… It was awesome. We planted a huge seed on that tour.
JG: Did working with bands like Puscifer and Otep delay the making of the new album or is it more about just trying to pay the bills in this economy and letting the music thing sort itself out?
Rani: There was no schedule or obligation to have the new album done in any amount of time, so being apart of other projects, whether they were film scores in my case or playing in Puscifer, didn’t delay the process at all. As far as Otep goes, I only played guitar on a few songs in a period that spanned about a week so just to clarify to all the Wikipedia devotees out there I’m not a member of Otep. That gig came out of our working with Ulrich Wild.
Gil: The timing of the Otep album worked out well because it was produced by Ulrich Wild who was also producing our new album and we were working around his schedule anyway. As soon as I finished tracking drums for Otep, I did the rest of my tracks for Stolen Babies… Being able to pay bills off other projects doesn’t hurt either.
JG: What is the status of the new album? I’ve read it’s going to be sometime this year but that’s about it. Is there a working title or a release date?
Rani: Happy to say we have an official release date of October 16th, 2012. It’s titled ‘NAUGHT’.
JG: I know it was five years ago now, but how did the ‘Hottest Chicks In Metal’ tour work out? Unfortunately living in Florida, the tour completely skipped the southeast so I didn’t get to check it out. Was it neat to have every extreme of female vocalist put together on one tour or was it more of a Revolver magazine ploy to get tons of horny teenagers to fill up clubs every night?
Rani: That tour was one of the best tours we’ve ever done and we look back on it fondly. The funny thing is all of the bands instantly bonded based on how cheesy as hell the name of the tour was! The all access laminates didn’t even read “Hottest Chick in Metal”; it was renamed “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Lacuna Coil which we thought was really awesome.
Dominique: Yes...great tour, retarded name. I'm sure there were horny teenagers (and adults) present. And anything involving big wigs is nothing but a ploy, but the tour had a very positive vibe and never felt as sleazy as the name would suggest. There were actually less testosterone laden meatheads at those shows, than other shows we've played.
JG: I know that Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy has been vocal about the whole ‘Hottest Chicks’ thing and how her refusal to embrace is equates to a lack of press for her band. What are your feelings on it? Is it a necessary evil in terms of ‘any publicity is good publicity’, or is it actually a good concept?
Dominique: To this very day, I think it's hilariously ironic that we were on a tour with that name, and now there is this association. So odd! I have never been a hot chick, and could never relate to whatever that entails. It's clear that the "Hottest Chicks in Metal" concept was created for (and probably by) a certain kind of human. Everyone is just playing this game, and as businesses continue to struggle, they are going to claw for the lowest common denominator. That's the key to success for so many. Whether or not I condone playing that game depends on the circumstance or our sense of humor at the time.
JG: When it comes to experimental music and music in general, it’s kind of hard not to adore Devin Townsend. How exciting is it to be opening the Katatonia/Devin Townsend/Paradise Lost tour? And why does this tour hate the southeast as well? The bill is definitely solid enough to warrant saving my lunch money and flying to Philadelphia for at least.
Rani: Ha! Sorry about that, but the routing was out of our hands. We are stoked to be on this bill! It’s a very diverse line up and it’s going to be a great run.
JG: Are there any bands you would like to have a chance to tour with? Personally, I would love to see you play with another multi-genre band like Polkadot Cadaver since it seems like it would be a load of fun.
Rani: For the most part all of my favorite bands are no longer around but you never know given all of these reunion type deals going on.
JG: On that note, seeing bands like Polkadot Cadaver going out on tour with a band like Korpiklaani doesn’t always seem like the best of ideas since metal fans can be pretty brutal sometimes to something that isn’t always SSLLLAAAAYYYERRRRR!!! Have you ever felt like your sound didn’t belong at a show you were booked on?
Rani: We’ve been on both sides of that spectrum. There were shows where it felt like we weren’t heavy enough and shows where we were too heavy and/or too obscure, but we’ve always managed to get a bunch of new fans regardless. A few years back before the Lacuna Coil tour we did a one off with them and Shadows Fall in New Mexico. Show was completely sold out and we took the stage to set up in front of a packed house. Seeing as we were in our make up and we were a new band to pretty much the whole crowd, people began heckling and talking shit. They wanted to hate us just because we were different, but as soon as are first song ended, I don’t think any of us will forget the fucking roar of that crowd. We totally won them over. Those are our favorite kinds of moments, when we convert the haters. It was the same deal when we opened for the Dillinger Escape Plan in Europe, so you never know.
JG: Are you still involved with The End Records?
Gil: No, not anymore. We teamed up with The End for our first album ‘There Be Squabbles Ahead’
JG: What can you say about No Comment Records?
Gil: No Comment is a label that was started by me, my brother and a business partner of ours year ago. We always wanted to build the label starting with Stolen Babies and then branch out by signing other acts that we like as well as releasing our own side projects, film scores that Rani composed, etc… No Comment is a real label with worldwide distribution and will continue to grow. It’s not just a name printed on Stolen Babies albums.
JG: I heard that you got to work with Ulrich Wild recently. He has one of the greatest track records of any producer in the industry. How was working with him? Does it bring a new element to the band?
Rani: Ulrich has become such a close friend during the process that he’s like family. Kind of like a really distant cousin twice removed, but family just the same. Ha! All kidding aside He has been incredible to work with and we really have great chemistry with him. Our working dynamic was a huge element to the creative process and he never got tired of entertaining or humoring any crazy idea we’d have. He was always the fist to say “cool let’s try it!”
JG: It seems like every band with the ‘experimental’ label attached to them always owes a lot of credit to Mr. Bungle in some way, shape or form as the ultimate pioneers of the genre. It seems like every kid that has ever heard the name Mr. Bungle claims to be a fan of theirs these days. Why couldn’t they achieve the kind of success twenty years ago that is like the cult following they have now?
JG: Of those bands there have been bands such as Incubus and KoRn that cited Mr. Bungle as influences that Mike Patton would rather not have any association with. Have any of you had the honor of meeting him?
Rani, Dominique, Gil: Yes.
JG: Does part of being a band that isn’t your everyday radio friendly garbage come with the fear that people won’t appreciate or understand your music until five, ten or twenty years later?
Rani: Not really. If that fear was even an issue I’d quit.
Dominique: No. I can't imagine the horror of being in that frame of mind!
JG: Thanks for all of your time and your patience and good luck in the future.
I have been a fan ever since I met Gil and Rani @ a Richard Elfman signing of his film "The Forbidden Zone" when it was first put on DVD, around 2005. I have been to almost every show in the L.A. area. The new stuff sounds great. I can't wait for the new cd. If you like quirky, different, dark as fuck, and just the most fantastic music made become a fan and tell a friend.