By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Several songs on Barabbas — especially “Bela Alef Rose” and “Voice and the Vision” — reflect Goss’ long-term involvement in another aspect of ’60s and ’70s pop culture, when pop artists were publicly flirting with aspects of the occult.
“That interest goes back to 1969 for me,” says Goss, “when I was trying to find out why Jimmy Page — in his music, and in his face, in the way he photographed, the way his hair was — gave me the creeps. I wanted to know where that was coming from. I wanted to be in that room, doing the drugs, with the magic books, if that’s where it came from. And it set me off on the whole Tolkien-Zeppelin connection, and the Kenneth Anger and Aleister Crowley connection.
“I found the form of magic more powerful than its content, but I’ve also found that working with the form of magic becomes content. The charts, the numerical systems, the Tree of Life, [these were attempts by magicians] to beautify the logic of our spiritual architecture. I spent a long time studying that. It’s self-hypnosis, it’s intense meditation, it’s reading a lot, it’s scaring the pants off yourself. The trick is to be able to go into the insane world, bring back the information that you get out of it, rock everybody with it, and be able to survive . . . It takes its toll, but there is a balance that you can achieve.”
How did it affect him, ultimately?
“I think I’m a calmer person for going to some of those places. You learn that the demons are all foolable. That’s what gives me hope: Demons, no matter how smart they are, we’re smarter. And applying it to art? You loosen up, you get older, and you realize the important thing is the groove. It always comes back to that.”
Goss is constantly moving on. “I’m always finding something new, and if I don’t, I revert back to old standards until something new comes my way. I never push things. I’d wanted to produce Eighties B-Line Matchbox Disaster for a while, but I never
pursued it. And then one day I got a call from Universal U.K. [offering him the job]. And I said, I’ve been waiting for this call for two years.”
At one of Goss’ first meetings with the band, he probed them on their aesthetic line. “Am I gonna suggest a synthesizer and you’ll go, ‘Eww, no way!’? Or am I gonna suggest a drum machine and everyone’s gonna go, ‘No, we’ll have none of that.’ I said, ‘What about cellos and French horns and . . . ?’ They said, ‘Everything. We want it all.Let’s take it wherever it wants to go.’ And I knew we’d get along at that point.
“They understood that you serve the song. If the song needs a dress, you buy it a fucking dress. Whatever it needs. Serve the song. No rules.”
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