For Los Angeles’ The Black Queen, the depths of isolation and loss have always functioned as a gateway to being born anew. Much has transpired since the band released their cold, cutting debut album Fever Daydream (a record that Revolver described as ‘a haunting exploration of the darker side of pop music’). But throughout it all, the trio of Greg Puciato (former frontman of the now-defunct The Dillinger Escape Plan), Joshua Eustis (of Telefon Tel Aviv, Puscifer, and Nine Inch Nails), and Steven Alexander Ryan (technician for Nine Inch Nails, Kesha, and A Perfect Circle) have emerged as triumphant and intense as ever, documenting their journey via the synth-streaked industrial anthems of their sophomore release, Infinite Games. Ahead of the band’s visit to Berlin’s Gretchen on Saturday, 27th October 2018, Puciato answered our 11+3 questionnaire.
1: I’m lying in a pitch black bus bunk doing this on a phone on the way to Belgium, and then I will send it from the same phone..
2: This was impossible when I first started touring.
3: Technology is incredible and we take it for granted.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
That’s easy. Emotion, life experiences, and psychological development. Musically for me the spark of anything should come without much thought, solely feeling. Thought is for refinement. Lyrics are often similar in origin, especially when writing quickly, in stream of consciousness or free association forms.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I began playing guitar when I was nine, and shortly after that started singing. At this point I realize it is more about creation than it is about music, and I’ll use whatever tool inspires me. I believe the eye transcends medium. You can always acquire a skill if you need it. If you’re really inclined. Then you develop that skill over time if you find a love for it.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
I’m sure other people have given this answer already, but I’ll say it too. My five albums change. I’m very ‘present’ oriented. As far as time. It’s an ADD trait. I don’t perceive time well. So I love something very intensely in the moment, and it holds as much weight to me as something I’ve loved for a long time. So I’ll give you a few really old standbys, and four more recent (that’s seven, I know):
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Keith Jarrett – Köln Concert
Death – Symbolic
Prurient – Frozen Niagara Falls
Dedekind Cut – Tahoe
Hiro Kone – Pure Expenditure
Drab Majesty – The Demonstration
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Techno, of course.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
Well living in Los Angeles, there’s a variety of stimulating places and environments, but I have to give a basic answer and say that my favorite place is just being home. Because I travel so much, I tour so much, and when I’m home I try and see friends as much as I can, so I’m out. So being home is a nice safe ‘still’ space away from anxiety and motion.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Write words and take photos. Make silent films.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
A vinyl re-release of Maxwell ‘Embrya’.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’ve been very fortunate to be in bands with people who I’ve had otherworldly levels of creative chemistry with, but just as a one off experiment? Kevin Shields.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Performing, my best gigs I’ve been pretty unconscious during, so my memories of them are few. But I take with me the feeling from some of them, not so much specific memories. I really love the last London show I was a part of with The Black Queen, and obviously there are countless Dillinger Escape Plan shows that really went somewhere eternal. That’s the feeling I keep chasing. Feeling completely present and connected and tapped into something greater than the sum of parts, greater than just people in a room, or people playing music.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
It’s important in the way that it can make capturing an idea easier and faster, more spontaneous, that’s the big thing for me. Ease of capturing something. If you have to spend too much time setting up, or holding onto an idea before getting it down, it starts to fade. Or the place it came from starts to feel more distant, harder to remember. Other than that, obviously new sounds or approaches can spark ideas. So in those ways technology is important. But technology won’t make your eye any better.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I’m an only child, and that fact has influenced my art and creative process immensely, in ways too deep to get into here. Other than that, I obviously can’t answer this question. My band mates are my siblings
Infinite Games, The Black Queen’s second album, came out on September 28th.
Photo © Jen Whitaker