Interview with Tina Winter of Voodoo Church
~Accommodations and scheduling for the Interview created by DJ Jason~
- Hello Tina, for starters, how have you been?
Very well thank you. Just busy in life with many things, one of which is an online business that is doing very well.
- Ok, to start with a bit of history, you had a revolving door of musicians come and go until the first EP was released in ’82, I imagine that must have been a major headache for you until the sound you were looking for started to coalesce? I also heard that Ed Colver did the photography, which is pretty amazing considering his roster of artists that he’s worked with.
In the beginning what we were doing was all just for fun. People came and went because of other bands they were in or just lost interest and wanted to go into other styles of music. Some were only meant to be temporary in the first place. Once Bob Reimer and I really started to work together and focus on our song writing, the style we were after finally emerged. This was when things got more serious and soon after, Chris Jeff and Shadow were in the band and then everything just came together. We went into the studio, picked out four new songs and recorded them.
Ed Colver did all of our photos back then. Once you had photos taken by the best, you just couldn’t settle with anyone else. He knew how to capture the mood and style we were looking for.
- After that band hiatus towards the mid-80’s, I know you worked on a few projects, anything in particular that you enjoyed to help keep the stimulation going for writing songs and playing? Everyone has a muse.
A lot of shows followed after the release of the EP and we all decided to take a break. And to be honest, there were some substance abuse issues that developed with certain members in the band and I wanted to get away from that. Then the break tuned into a longer hiatus because family became my priority. At this time, Bob and I wrote some songs on the side and put together a band we called, Primal Voices. This was just meant to be a side project and allowed us to experiment with a different style of writing. We went into a studio, recorded some songs, had fun and that was it.
- Moving forward, you had the Unholy Burial EP which came out and like so many bands of the goth and deathrock genres, you went to Germany to play and met with rave reviews, it’s no secret darker flavors of rock do better in Deutschland but how did the booking for the WGT gig come about and in the preceding years did you do any one off gigs here and there to help keep the band’s name in the press? Considering by now you’re one of the elders, I imagine the younger crowd wanted to catch you live since a lot of them naturally never got to see you back in the day.
After the release of Unholy Burial, the promoters of the WGT first approached our record Label Strobelight Records asking if Voodoo Church would be interested in performing at WGT. Strobelight then asked us and of course we said Yes. We had a fantastic time. I love it there. We were told later, that security had to stop people from wanting to enter the large hall where we played because it was already packed beyond what was allowed. That really blew our minds. WGT did ask us to play last year but we had other obligations and couldn’t.
- I saw that you were on Strobelight, I’ve heard mixed things about that particular label including some complaints about unfair percentages to artists, which although sadly is nothing new, did you and the band have any conflicts with them over making sure you at least saw some returns for your efforts so you would have money to keep putting out albums?
I have no complaints about Strobelight and guys there are wonderful. I know you can’t get rich in this genre of music and doing this is more of a passion and labor of love and not about financial gain. They have compensated us as agreed in each contract we’ve signed with them and they have been very professional in how they’ve handled everything. They have even gone above and beyond when it came to an incident that was never really mentioned in public. When Unholy Burial was released, there was a person from Voodoo Church’s past (before the EP) who out of jealousy, made physical and financial threats to me and Strobelight Records. This forced the guys at Strobelight to hire an attorney to not only protect themselves but they were kind enough to also provided protection for Voodoo Church and me. The Strobelight guys are some of the nicest people we’ve met.
- The band’s line up changed a lot in the 2000’s as well, did you decide to recruit an older veteran line up that knew the music and were familiar with the old catalogue or did you want a group of young guns whom you could mentor and teach as you went along?
I wouldn’t say there were a lot of changes in the band’s line-up when I decided to get Voodoo Church going again, I would say there were a few necessary changes in the beginning. At first, I started bouncing around the idea with some other musicians but those ideas started to become a reality when I met Randall. He understood what Voodoo Church was about and then we ended up bringing in two other guys Randall knew and then started to rehearse. Things went well at first and after a few live shows, one of the guys had different interests and wanted to go in a direction that wasn’t Voodoo Church’s style. His departure from the band was a blessing because after that (much like what Bob and I went through in the beginning) Randall and I refocused and wrote all new songs that really captured the style we wanted which were songs that ended up on Unholy Burial. During this time we did a couple of rehearsals with a temporary drummer and guitar player just for fun and one of the guys thought that Tony Havoc would be a good fit for Voodoo Church. While we were looking for ways to contact Tony, we put up a small add in Craigslist which was seen by Benn Ra who was in a band with Tony at the time. He told Tony about our ad, we met with Tony and he suggested a great guitar player he knew, Brian Elizondo and that was it, the Unholy Burial line up became complete.
- Seeing that the scene out in California is still actively thriving and producing great acts, do you still see echoes of the punk heyday that yourself and bands like Christian Death, Kommunity FK, and Ex-Voto came out of? I’m seeing a distinct return to a guitar/bassist and live drummer format instead of the more computer generated sounds these days.
I honestly don’t know because I’m just not into the club scene anymore. I know there’s a couple of clubs in SoCal that play Deathrock music but even those are just once a month things which of course is better than nothing. Right now, there are many things going on in my life that keep me quite busy so I haven’t had the time to go out to clubs. It is great to know that bands are returning to a live drummer format because that is more what I’m into. But I am also not against the computer generated format if that format is helping an artist express themselves.
- Your next album, Eminence of Demons, came out some time later in 2009, with return of your former and original guitar Bob Reimer in addition to help from other scene legends such as Rikk Agnew, that’s quite the impressive roster plus you had someone back in the fold who was there from the beginning, was it just like old times with your friends in the band or did it take a while to knock the cobwebs off to get things running smooth again?
Bob Reimer was never really out of the picture with Voodoo Church. For Unholy Burial, we wanted his opinion and feedback on the songs we wrote and two of the songs on that album were older Voodoo Church songs he originally wrote the music for. Eminence of Demons was a more intimate album for me. Songs on there like, “Crumble” and “Veils of Masquerade” are very personal and when it came time to record Eminence of Demons, I wanted Bob to be on there and also wanted to work with other friends like Rikk Agnew, Dan Canzonieri (Electric Frankenstein) and Ashes (Wayne Static). Everyone worked on such a professional level that the recordings went very smoothly. For Dan, since he lives in New Jersey, we sent sound files back and forth and he recorded his tracks in a studio out there while all the other recordings were done in Los Angeles. It was also amazing to watch Rikk record. He is highly underrated and a genius on guitar.
- What is going on with the band recording and touring wise these days? I typically spin Voodoo Church in my set when djing so it’d be nice to have several new tracks to throw in for everyone’s listening pleasure! Also, are you planning on any further collaborations between yourself or the band with other artists in the area?
We are recording and are planning on a near future release, but that sometimes takes a back seat because my business is doing well and that requires my time also. It’s possible we will collaborate with our old band mates. We do miss them. We all do keep in touch as much as possible.
- Lastly, any parting words for fans and readers?
Although at times its seems quiet on the VC news, there is a lot of behind the scene stuff happening. We love our fans and its because of them and our own love of music, that we continue to write and record.
Also, I think people should know something else about the guy I mentioned before who threatened us and Strobelight Records. This guy was an ex-band member from our early days in the 80′s, ( before the EP ) when the band didn’t really have a set structure or members, who is always trying to put me and the band down. Well, this pathetic ex-member has been known to make false claims that “we’re in a dispute over certain issues with him” this is absolutely FALSE!!!! The band name, Voodoo Church, is legally registered to me and all the songs on the EP and albums released through Strobelight Records are songs that I’ve either written or co-wrote with Bob and Randall. So if you see or read anything that is negative or any claims that there is a lawsuit or some kind of legal dispute over the Voodoo Church name or music, etc, it’s all FALSE! It’s just this guy trying to get some attention.
Voodoo Church is alive and well and we love our fans. Be good to one another.