What It’s Like to Play Satanic Mass According to Author & Punisher
Turn off your television. Quit watching those ridiculous '70s horror B-movies. The Satanic Temple is not quite what you might picture it to be in 2017.
Built on the fundamentals of "benevolence and empathy among all people, [rejecting] tyrannical authority, [advocating] practical common sense and justice, and [being] directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will," the Satanic Temple's tenets read more like Bernie Sanders campaign slogans than methods for worshipping the horned one. In fact, these self-described "politically aware, civic-minded Satanists" are the culprits behind the baphomet statue in Detroit that was all over the headlines a couple years back. The fact of the matter is, the Satanic Temple is less a bunch of pentagram-wielding weirdos and more a group of atheists and political crusaders in support of secularism. They have a point to prove, and are taking that fight to the streets daily, scaring the religiously devout in the process.
On January 14, The Satanic Temple of Los Angeles teamed up with industrial promoter Das Bunker to produce Satanic Mass. The event featured everything from lectures to live art to comedy, but one of the biggest draws was a trio of rituals performed with musical backing. The ritual of bloodletting was soundtracked by William Morrisson, Matthew Setzer and Sister Calypso, with invocation handled by 3TEETH, and destruction soundtracked by Lumerians and Author & Punisher. We spoke with Author & Punisher's Tristan Shone about the experience, how he became involved and what's next for the industrial powerhouse.
How did you get involved in the Satanic Mass?
So, I’ve been involved with this monthly that has been going on for close to 20 years called Das Bunker. It’s an industrial monthly — I played the same party at the same venue as the mass in October. So, through that party, I’ve gotten acquainted with some of the industrial folks in town, which led to this show. That’s the short of it.
Do you have any personal involvement with the Satanic Temple?
No. I think the bands that they chose — more dirge-y, drone-y, dark stuff — went along with a lot of the rituals that they had. There was no direct relationship between me and the church specifically.
I would imagine having a public event named "Satanic Mass" would draw quite an interesting crowd. What was the craziest thing you saw when you were there?
In comparison to some of the crazier EDM and industrial festivals that I play, which can have a cyber-goth feel that I think is corny, this was a lot more gnarly. You kind of felt like you were at a European festival. There were people there that were counterculture from all walks of life — some metalheads, goths, punks, all over the place — but there wasn’t any of the fluorescent yellow hair plugs or anything like that. There were all these witches walking around without clothes that were hooking into each other via their piercings, à la suspension, but not that crazy. There were people dressed up like ogres, really tall with these thick shoes on, and with a lot of facial modification going on. I was taking a leak at one point and an ogre was going to the bathroom beside me, and he was way too tall for the space — his head was near the ceiling, and it looked really bizarre and funny.
I wish I could say that the event was more extreme than it actually was, but when you’ve experienced a lot of what’s going on in the modern industrial world, then it’s a rare thing to shock.
What were the people like? Did you find it to be a friendly environment?
Definitely. No offense, but let's say that you see Swans at that same venue. People are gonna feel like they are much to cool to be there. This event was much more open. People were excited to hang out with each other. I’ve never had so many people come up to the merch table and want to talk [who] were really excited. It was not a hipster thing; this was much more counterculture. Just people who were excited to be there
Was any sort of religious element there?
So, Steve Hill, who was sort of the leader there, I would say he is closer to a socialist than anything else. That’s sort of what I got out of it. Other than the chanting. There was no nihilism, and there was a strong sense of community there. These guys are very much against religion being part of lawmaking. Basically, Bernie Sanders supporters who like the darker side of music.
Would you play another one of these events?
Absolutely. I have pretty traditional Brazilian in-laws, and I’m sure they’re seeing these posts. They take their religion pretty seriously, but I can’t worry that much. I am definitely anti-religion, and anything that will make you think, I am all for. These were intelligent people — definitely not a Hot Topic-style fashion show. People that were politically active and aware.
Did you run into a lot of your fans at the show?
There were actually a lot of fans. It was cheap and accessible. I’d say there were over 1,000 people there. I saw a lot of my fans, made a lot of fans. There were a lot of music personalities there too — members of Nine Inch Nails and others. Whether they were going for the Satan aspect or maybe out of love for industrial music and a new breed, it was a big crowd. I could have seen Youth Code playing for sure, if they were available.
What's going on with you musically?
So, I have left Housecore Records, and I will be announcing my new label soon. Stay tuned for that. I’m building new instruments, and I’m to the point where things are almost fabricated. It’s going in more of an industrial direction, as opposed to a metal one, based on the way I built these machines. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at this, so you can expect more complexity.
In addition, I’m probably starting a side business with the instruments that I’m making. It’s something that I’ve resisted for a long time.
We recently interviewed him, but what do you personally make of all of the controversy with Phil Anselmo?
I really haven’t said anything about it. I think that he really has had to answer for himself, and he’s done that. Phil has been really apologetic, and I know he means it. He’s always been supportive and done great things for me, and I will forever be grateful for that.