SHEMAMPHORASH IZ KUMING – The SLEEPCHAMBER Interview

by Thee Brad Miller

SLEEPCHAMBER… The SexMagick Fetish Godz.  2011 caps 30 years of SexMagick, drugs, and musick. Volumes and volumes of musick.  And at the center of the chaos, the ultimate Chaos Practitioner, John Zewizz.   An elusive figure in the Industrial Scene, Zewizz purposely vanished from the scene he helped start – mired in a haze of death, addiction, and accusations.  Now in his third year of his career resurrection his out put rivals that of SLEEPCHAMBER’s most  prolific times.

In the three years since SLEEPCHAMBER’s public return Zewizz has released two CD’s on Klanggalerie , a box set of older material on Vinyl On Demand, a John Zewizz solo CD on Old Europa Cafe, and 9 CD releases on Inner-X-Musick.   Three DVDr’s through Inner-X-Musick.  And they have been featured on two compilation releases on INNER-X-MUSCIK, a compilation on the net label BLEAK, and have a track on the upcoming Horse Productions compilation titled “White Eyes Of Winter Watching”.

Over a few morning coffee emails and a couple of phone calls the following interview covered the last 30 years as well as SLEEPCHAMBER’s future…

TEOB: Congratulations on 30 years.  What has kept you at the helm of sleep chamber for 30 years?
JZ: I somehow have locked myself into SLEEPCHAMBER so much that it became my life-(literally) I live the obsessions, fetishes, magick & consider myself the head ov THE ULTIMATE MINORITY….what else can I say? I am passionate about my musick…and am confident enough to say I can handle myself when it kums to anything about SLEEPCHAMBER or its concept.

TEOB:  You have said for years that you are SLEEPCHAMBER… that you have become the concept of SLEEPCHAMBER.  Can you explain this concept?
JZ:  “THE CONCEPT” iz THE ULTIMATE MINORITY…I built SLEEPCHAMBER from the ground up…through the early daze ov people not thinking we were considered a ‘real band’ or that we would last very long…any ov the members who work in SLEEPCHAMBER don’t fit into a format…typical Rock & Roll mentality…they are capable ov performing more than just their task ov playing an instrument… SLEEPCHAMBER  iz a dictatorship, I am the dictator…and they agree with those politics.  There iz a hint ov democracy but only if I feel its warranted.

TEOB: You have repeatedly said over the years that you do not follow fads and are not part of a scene.  Yet it must be somewhat gratifying to considered one of the “fathers” of American Industrial musick.  How do you feel about this esteemed status?
JZ:  Well, I don’t see my status ov being anything more than a title.  It does not pay the rent or anything… I thank those who consider that to be true. No matter where you go with your efforts you will continue to
struggle.  Anyone who sits back to admire themselves gets caught in a ego undercurrent and fails their admirers

TEOB: This year Vinyl On Demand did a 4 LP box set with a focus on the cassettes from the early 80’s (along with unreleased material).  Why do you think nearly 30 years later there is still a fascination with those early recordings?
JZ: I think because those recordings are unsatisfactory to the artist  after they have reached a certain standard.  And the early works ov most anyone are below their current standard ov musick.

TEOB: During those early days what was the recording arrangements like.  Were those cassettes recorded in a studio?  Were they homemade?
JZ: My early recording waz done on anything from a 4-track cassette to a 4-track reel to reel….and
always different machines; TASCAM, SONY, etc.   We thought it waz a big deal to record on an 8-track reel…. never mind when we started to go into real studios and use 16 track, 24-track & 32 track.   Now everything iz computerized… virtual trax etc… most all musicians prefer analog to digital…ask KEITH RICHARDS.
TEOB: As time moved on and you moved away from cassettes to vinyl is that when you knew that SLEEPCHAMBER waz going to be more than just a flash in the pan?
JZ: Not really… even if you make vinyl, you are still trying to establish yourself, it waz not till “SUBMIT TO DESIRE” that I considered myself in the running ov being strong enough to bump heads with other bands.  Our musick waz so different that both Rock and Experimental bands disclaimed us able to fit into ‘their’ category.

TEOB: By the late 80’s you had landed on to European labels FünfUndVierzig and Musica Maxima Magnetica.   That arrangement made up the vast majority of your CD releases through 1999.   Were you satisfied working with European labels, and do you think that is part of the reason you have such a big following in Europe?
JZ:   Yes, ov course they helped cover Europe with SLEEPCHAMBER …at INNER-X years ago we use to get letters from all over Russia, Israel, South Africa and even Saudi Arabia!  We could not send out to everyone because ov postage & shipping promo copies…but FünfUndVierzig from Germany (hi Piet where ever you are), he use to send us every and i mean every playlist, mention & review he found…and that waz hundreds a month!!!!  The Italian label Musica Maxima Magnetica use to charge too much retail for SLEEPCHAMBER CD’s  (23.00 + shipping=$29 per CD).  I think this actually hurt our sales and distribution in southern Europe…but Piet always waz eager to please.  He sent promos to radio, magazines and individuals to promote us…he waz our best label even counting Inner-X(no offense guys).  When we did the 97 German tour it waz obvious…the crowds were twice the size ov the USA ones…not just because ov the TV promotion but many ov them were there to see s USA band out ov curiosity.  I have had business in Germany prior to the tour, a company run by Martin Prop flew me over to Germany months before because he waz interested in obtaining the publishing rights for SLEEPCHAMBER musick.  He also waz granted a license to release some ov our videos, SLEEP, OR FOREVER, EROTIK FANTASTIK, and SIAMESE SUCCUBI. I waz paid in advance full but they never ended up releasing these videos in Germany because their lawyers advised them it waz too controversial… oh well… I miss the German contacts and contracts because Europe seems to be our true home for SLEEPCHAMBER..

TEOB: 2010 began for you with a live performance that fans were fortunate enough to hear on the release “STRATOCAST”.   You know what the big question is… can we expect more live performances out of SLEEPCHAMBER in 2011?
JZ: We do plan on doing a few local shows in Boston to get our footing after so many years but don’t see it az a problem.  We did that radio broadcast and found out we were a bit rusty but it came right back.  We just were not happy with the broadcast sound.  Playing “live”’on the radio iz a tricky thing, especially getting a decent soundcheck.  What you hear iz not always what iz being broadcast.  That’s were Tick kums in…he iz being trained by me to be our house soundman…. but shit…  yes you will see SLEEPCHAMBER play out live this year.  It will be a ‘new’ era ov SLEEPCHAMBER.  A different live performance…  and yet without Barbitchuettes, which some will miss.  I can easily say we will be a full-on SLEEPCHAMBER performance.

TEOB: You released your first solo CD this year titled “2012” through Old Europa Cafe.  What made you decide to do a solo release?
JZ: … a solo?????  I don’t know how to tell you….(laughs) there are a few SLEEPCHAMBER releases that are just me,  SECRETS OV 23 LP & CD,  SYMPHONY SEXUALIS, to mention a few. “2012” almost waz released az a SLEEPCHAMBER release.  But I wanted to see what my creditability waz .  I wanted to release a piece ov collected musickal songs basically done by me under my name to prove that I am the alpha in the band.  The others in SLEEPCHAMBER were also offered to do a solo CD for Inner-X-Musick but failed to establish a complete collection ov musick (songs or musickal).  I worked with Bob Avakian…he did a few drum trax for me.  He also works in SLEEPCHAMBER az a keyboardist & percussionist.

TEOB: Also released on a European label this year was SATANIC SANCTION.  It was an expanded version released on Klanggalerie.  SATANIC SANCTION has quite the appeal even now over 20 years later, and is considered a classic by many SLEEPCHAMBER fans.  Why do think that is?
JZ:  SATANIC SANCTION iz an instant industrial classic….I can hear it now…it definitely haz an era sound to it.  I couldn’t really hear it till now.  I couldn’t repeat that sound again… it waz a time period in SLEEPCHAMBER which reflects what we were doing, our outlook on society, and our frustration with
reality.  SATANIC SANCTION waz a evolutionary period, it waz our second all instrumental record…after SEXMAGICK RITUAL.   Some people thought that it waz our new musckal style…only a few knew we
did two styles ov musick….and a follow up release would be all songs.  I mean who wrote the law that states you can only do one kind or style ov musick ?????  To this day we still do the two styles ov musick,  instrumentals (gothic, ritual or electronic), and the rhythmic song structured style.

TEOB: 2009 saw the completion of the INNER-X-MUSICK STUDIOS.  Can you tell us about the studio and what that means for the future of SLEEPCHAMBER.
JZ:  The INNER-X-STUDIOS waz assisted by the prompt payment from Frank at Vinyl On Demand- a great German company again…..we were able to purchase a digital 24 track Tascam with virtual trax
capability – (hundreds ov alternate versions to chose from) we also have purchased 2 Sony 24 track mixing boards with sub-bass frequencies, and what I already own in INNER-X-studio; 2 Roland 1000 digital delays  a Roland side 3000 digital reverb, all sorts ov multi effects rack mounts…little but important devices like the Lexicon RV 7 stereo reverse reverb, 3 Roland keyboards including a x-50….a Yamaha Pro synth piano…..a Korg mono/poly a Korg ms 50 & 60 a rare patch bay, assorted Korg drum machines, and plenty ov compressors & limiters.   Gimme Sparks collection ov assorted top ov the line Fender guitars, it haz taken over 15 years to gather this equipment.  I don’t see anything stopping SLEEPCHAMBER from being ready for the future ov things to kum….that seems to answer the question out there ov how do we manage to be so prolific?  I usually spend an average ov 60-75 hours a week in the studio have finally paid off the credit line bills from past studios and will now do all projects at INNER-X, unless there iz some outside mastering I need from another larger studio….(rare)

TEOB: The first released recordings from the new Inner-X-Musick studios is SILVER STAR, a ultra limited edition Christmas release.  What is the concept behind the track “Silver Star”.
JZ:  SILVER STAR waz the name ov Aleister Crowley secret magickal gang.  He had left the ‘hermetic order ov the golden dawn’ with a new cosmological perspective that he waz a ‘divine child’ who had been chosen by transcendent forces to bring through to humanity a consciousness ov the union ov Egyptian entities ‘Nuit’ and ‘Hadit ‘.  He had reached the highest form ov human consciousness (namely Aiwaz).  He even abandon hiz Argenteum Astrum(A;.A.;) and ‘The Ordo Templi Orientis-(OTO) to structure an advanced collective ov the (a:.a:.) known az the Order Ov The Silver Star.   For a brief period Austin Osman Spare waz a rank in the ‘OOTSS’. the ritual structures were more advanced and the form ov magickal enlightenment waz considered ‘divine’ and magickly the highest form ov ritual sexmagick and awareness. ‘Child Ov The Moon’ by the Rolling Stones 1966 era waz a song about the ‘divine child’ evoking magick under the full moon.

TEOB: The next release is scheduled for 2011.  SHEMAMPHORASH.  Tell me about this new release?
JZ: The line up for SHEMAMPHORASH is Bob Avakian, Gimme Sparks, Tick, and about 6 other musicians like Brian Beesley.  I don’t know some ov them because they are friendz ov Gimme Sparks.  They are mostly alternative guitar players and a bass player.  Bob Avakian iz doing most ov the percussion-drums.  I do about 2 or 3 and he does all the keyboards/synths az I do about 3-4 keyboard trax, shakers, and all vocals except some back up vocals recorded “backwards”’!!!!!  One ov my favorite trax iz a cover ov the Rolling Stones early songs “2000 Light Years From Home”.  I did want to record it in 2000 az a novelty type ov track but it never got started till now.  So I have had it planned for l0 years.  I have put most ov the effort into it, so I’m sure there will be different versions for free downloads.

TEOB: What else does 2011 hold for SLEEPCHAMBER?
JZ: 2011 plans for SLEEPCHAMBER include the ‘mother-load’ SHEMAMPHORASH but also a few side projects currently in the works.   SCAPOLAMINE,  a CD possible DVD  ov rave type ov videos.. ov hardcore SLEEPCHAMBER techno…..it’s obvious that it’s techno… but only the way SLEEPCHAMBER can do it!  There are about 2 more limited edition CD’s  like STRATOCAST and STOLAS celebrating our 30th year az SLEEPCHAMBER  life….there iz the SACRIFICE series 1,2 & 3 an anthology ov musick thru-out the 30 years…. and I plan on reissuing some ov the more popular releases again due to demand…just about…or should i say all European labels are out ov print….and az far az I know are not being manufactured…that also goes for any USA releases including the ‘Cleopatra’ release ov SENTINAL SERRANADE….this iz an unofficial release and bootleg illegal download.  I really request all SLEEPCHAMBER admires to assist me in battling theft ov my musick by arrogant conglomerates that steal all ov our musick without contact agreements……I am preparing to do battle with ‘Cleopatra Records’ in California shortly…my attorney says they are under the definition ov copyright infringement.. voiding our contract- (I have in my possession) that ended in 2003…so they have been selling SLEEPCHAMBER CD’s for 10 years now !!!!!!  Keep us alive,  drop Cleopatra a line for all ov us !!!!!

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3 Comments

  1. JOHN ZEWIZZ says:

    TEOB…….LOVED YOUR PIECE ON SLEEPCHAMBER….IF I DONT SAY SO MYSELF….IF NOT FOR ”INDI”PUBLISHING….IT WOULD BE A REALLY SHITTY PLACE TO DO MUSICK…..ALL THE BEST…..JOHN ZEWIZZ

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