Down On The Ranch

The New Album BEAT NOIR

An Interview with Athan Maroulis Of Spahn Ranch

America's Spahn Ranch are, without doubt, one of the IndustriAlternative scene's leading lights. Formed circa 92/93, the band have been through numerous line-up changes before finally resting with the current long-standing collaboration between Harry Lewis ( drums), Matt Green (keyboards/programming) and Athan Maroulis (vox/lyrics).
Currently riding high on the success of their latest album, Beat Noir, Athan kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions via the wonder of e-mail.
And he would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those pesky kids....

C23: Doesn't the name Spahn Ranch come from the place where Charles Manson used to hole out in the desert? What's the story behind that?  

Athan: Yes, it does in part come from there. Before that, in the 1930's and 40's it was a movie ranch where they filmed some classic Western movies. Matt overheard some people talking at a club and they mentioned Spahn Ranch and he thought it would make a great band name.  

C23: Beat Noir has been out for some time now, what are your thoughts on it and how well is it doing for you?  

Athan: Overall, the album has done rather well and we honestly received a better reception for it in the UK but I think some of the purist Industrial fans didn't care for it as much though. I really let Matt do with it as he pleased and I was merely involved in the vocals but I am pleased with the outcome.  

C23: Spahn Ranch have enjoyed a healthy longevity, what does success mean to you and what goals do you still have for the band?  

Athan: Quite a subjective matter. At this point all I am expecting out of it is to travel with the band. We have toured the States 12 times now so I'm a bit tired of that, but I am looking forward to coming back to Europe where we've been twice thus far. I would like to see the band continue to grow and pick up new fans but I have no delusions of grandeur that we will ever be a household name. I think success is the feeling that you have accomplished a number of things you set out to do, with Spahn Ranch I feel as if I have managed that.  

C23: Have there ever been times during your career with Spahn Ranch that you've ever considered calling it quits?  

Athan: Yes, on many occasions! But it has become somewhat of an old auto to me, one that you plan on getting rid of when the engine blows, but it just keeps on running strong.  

C23: Could you please give us a few words on what each Spahn Ranch album means to you...  

Athan: Collateral Damage... I started on it after being in the band for three weeks and it sounds that way! The Coiled One... Matt did a great job. I thought I was washed up as a lyricist! Architecure... My favourite!  

C23: Which part of "the process" of an album do you guys prefer? The writing, recording or live aspect?  

Athan: I prefer live, Matt prefers the studio.  

C23: You finally made it over to Britain for the first time earlier in the year, what did you make of the whole experience? What was the highlight of your time here and when do you plan on returning?  

Athan: Britain was great for us from top to bottom, it really was one of the best tours yet. The first highlight was the London gig and the second was the festival in Bradford at the end, both amazing shows. Becoming great friends with Inertia was also special as well. We may be back in the spring or summer of 2000.  

C23: Live, you're very energetic and wind up all over the place. How does your onstage persona differ to the REAL you?  

Athan: I think it's a somewhat super-charged version of me. Maybe what it really comes down to is I become the sort of fellow I would like to be.  

C23: And what goes through your mind when you're performing live?  

Athan: It is somewhat of a blur. I am thinking of the lyrics, getting them right. Have I moved enough tonight? Have I given enough to those folks on the right? Is the lorry ok outside? Did I pay that phone bill back home? stuff like that.  

C23: When you're out clubbing and, say, Heretic's Fork comes on, will you dance to your own stuff, or do you run and hide? Also, do you listen to your own stuff at home?  

Athan: Sad to say, I really don't dance. Besides, I prefer to watch women dance and it is easier to do from the side. The only time I listen to our stuff is when it first comes out to make sure that it is okay. Aside from that, I listen to it just before embarking on a new album to make sure I don't repeat myself.  

C23: Over here, the Industrial/Alternative/EBM/whatever you wanna call it scene appeals to a select few and is generally ignored by the mainstream, how does that compare to the scene in the States?  

Athan: Identical!  

C23: Working as the PR bloke at Cleopatra records means you get to hear a lot of bands before everyone else, which bands recently have most impressed you?  

Athan: Mors Syphilitica, Rhea's Obsession, Culture Kultur, Air.......and?  

C23: You've been known to cover a certain Madonna song ("Swim", from Ray Of Light"), if you had to do a covers album, what bands would you cover?  

Athan: Roxy Music, Bowie, Sam Cooke, Psychedelic Furs, The Doors, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Arthur Brown and Billie Holiday.  

C23: As this interview's primarily for Cybase 23, the Webzine for the discerning music freak, how popular is the band's website? And how much input does the band have into the site?  

Athan: Matt has been excellent about handling this and has shaped it up quite a lot as of late.  

C23: There's the option of being able to e-mail the band individually. How much do you get and do you find time to answer it all?  

Athan: We receive a fair amount and deal with it when we can.  

C23: Do you spend much time surfing the W.W.W and are there any sites you'd recommend?  

Athan: WWW.Findagrave.Com is one of my faves but I try not to spend too much time surfing.  

C23: When it all comes to a close, how would you like Spahn Ranch to be remembered?  

Athan: As a good band that is still in print!  

C23: And last, but not least, have you any last words for your British fanbase?  

Athan: We'll be back!  

Be sure to check out the band's official website: WWW.SpahnRanch.Com