Terminatryx is arguably one of South Africa’s most innovative metal / industrial / gothic bands. The band, featuring the legendary Paul Blom of Voice Of Destruction and K.O.B.U.S fame, as well as the sublime talent of his better half, Sonja Ruppersberg, is celebrating its 16th anniversary Duality Tour.
Thank you for taking the time to have a quick chat. How was Terminatryx born? What was your vision and mission for the band?
Hey, great to chat with you. As with most projects, it started out as having fun. Sonja and her friend Christina Storm mused how cool it would be to have a hardcore electronic band with two female vocalists. This was in the early 2000s with not much V.O.D activity (most of the other members still in Europe where we recorded our ‘Bloedrivier’ album and toured for a full month with Katatonia and In The Woods). I went off and created a few tracks that didn’t sound half bad. The girls were thrilled and dove in. But very shortly into it Christina dropped out. But, Sonja and I saw something in it and pushed to turn it into a proper band (especially since there was nothing like it in SA). Word got around and in 2003 we got asked to open for German darkwave band Diary Of Dreams on their SA tour, our first ever live shows! So we assembled a live band which included our drummer Ronnie.
Paul, you are what one would consider to be South African metal royalty after your work with not only Terminatryx, but your involvement in the pivotal Voice Of Destruction and groundbreaking K.O.B.U.S as well. How has the scene evolved since you first broke ground?
Thanks man, that’s flattering. On a grassroots level it feels as though it has diminished – many factors playing a part. Digital advances make even the most rare things easily accessible. In the late-‘80s and early-‘90s days of V.O.D you couldn’t just up- and download all the music you can imagine, you had put in work – wait for a live show, maybe be in luck to buy a tape, and if you’re outside of Cape Town, you’d have to be sharp and catch the band when it did hit various venues in other cities on rare tours up north (from Angel Dust / Alcatrazz, The Doors, Thunderdome and Annabelle’s, to the Summit Club, Zeplins, TJ’s, Cherries Two and others). Now it’s easy to rather stay home and listen to your downloads or stream a non-stop barrage which you probably won’t ever hear again…Things get lost in the noise. The cliché of ‘too much of a good thing’ is very real! There’s a saturation point for everything. You can’t grab onto anything as it rushes by. So bands need to strategize well to reach their people (or pander to create what they think people want at that moment in time). I feel that several decades ago there was a much stronger appreciation for the tangibility of it all, and the effort put in from both the bands in getting their music to the people, and the supporters in getting out there and proactively supporting. I mean, our V.O.D “7th Demo” became a part of some people’s lives. It consisted mainly of songs recorded straight to cassette at a band practice and some studio demos, and by today’s standards can be seen as a bit dodgy – BUT, this was integrated with the people’s experience at the high-octane live shows, listening to and knowing those songs on tape and imbibing that experience, interchanging energy and fun of the show translated into an entirely different experience when playing the tape, until it got chewed up! Some people have told me that it is still a treasured part of their music collection and memories (even no longer having a cassette player!)
For Transvaal tours in the late-‘80s you drove up and stayed in touch with club owners by landline and had to find your way around without GPS. People helped out however they could. Also today with so many bands, people can pick & choose and this can lead to a dilution of an already niche market. There is definitely still a camaraderie that exists within the community, but far more pathetic feuds and on-line haters throwing digital crap at each other, as everyone’s opinion is the right one, and their taste and expertise superior. The scene was vibrant during the late-‘80s into the mid-‘90s – within a few blocks of the Cape Town CBD you had loads of Alternative options which included Arties, the Crow Bar, The Playground / Purple Turtle, The Stage, Delirium / D’Lyzium, The Fringe, The Playhouse, not to mention Raffles out in Bellville – where now it is limited to a few scattered spots. For bands technology has certainly made finding your sound and recording much easier and affordable – instead of flying to Europe like we did with V.O.D to do so! But, spending two years abroad to do that builds far more than recording (what can be a great) album in your bedroom… However, long rambling short – within the Metal community people come and go, some sticking to their guns. Styles, taste, even fashion has an influence and may attract or repel people, so it’s an ever-evolving beast with its ups and downs, but, one that will never die.
Terminatryx poses a juxtaposition – not only between genres, but the power of metal and the seductive allure of Gothic music. Is this intentional, or merely a result of the creative beauty and the beast relationship between the two of you?
Sonja is more of a Goth. Paul’s taste spans a wide expanse, as does Ronnie’s (who also has a Rockabilly band and was in Gothic Metal act Gramlich). But we all have an attraction to both those genres. It is therefore not intentional but a result of the different personalities. We love juxtapositions, contrasts and the conundrum of duality, and our relationship simply has it click very naturally. With Ronnie also playing a more creative role in the development of new material, our fans can expect an even more diverse sound. Now as a 3-piece, things are more streamlined, but the music may very well become more cinematic in scope than before, in stead of reigned in.
It’s always a tough question, but what would you describe as the five bands that have influenced Terminatryx the most?
Yep, never easy! We have such a wide-ranging music taste that stretches across so many decades and genres, but while we don’t necessarily sound like them, musically it can include stuff along the lines of Ministry and Fear Factory. Vocally Sonja doesn’t really have any direct influences, very much finding her own thing – As you know bands in these genres either go to the one or the other extreme, either with ethereal / operatic vocals or growling like any death metal guy. You can’t pin Sonja to either of those.
You guys have played many shows, both locally and abroad. What is your favourite venue and your craziest tour memory?
Our trip to Germany to play the Popkomm festival in 2006 was an adventure from start to finish. It was great to be chosen to open for Ministry here a few years back, and several other international acts, like bands Sonja loved personally, including Diary of Dreams (which Sonja was a fan of at the time in 2003), and Sigue Sigue Sputnik which she loved when she was at school in the ‘80s. To hang out with Martin and Johann at their apartment the day after was surreal for her (and even more crazy was then asking if they’ll do a remix of our song ‘CONsume’, and agreeing without hesitation! It’s always great having on-stage guests, and particularly special when Paul Riekert from Battery 9 joins us for guest vocals on our live versions of the remixes he’s done for two of our songs.
What is the difference between the Joburg and Cape Town metal scenes?
Joburg people find it weird when we refer to “ek” in Afrikaans the way you’re supposed to, instead of the Vaalie “ack”! No, but seriously, I find them all very much on a par in that they’re there for the same thing. And people are very hospitable, always offering a place to stay or show you a good time – or like this last Joburg trip, to make less airline luggage and diminish possible damage or loss, we posted asking if anyone had a Jackson V guitar I could use for the shows there, and Paul Verster jumped right in offering his.
Your Joburg shows were split into a more metal-orientated set list at Sundowners, and a gothic-focused set at Rumours on Saturday. Is this merely a retrospective, or a taste of things yet to come?
Yeah, we just felt we should do something a little different, and with the genre-crossing variety in our material, those different flavoured sets can be constructed. And it also matched the bands we played with and the different shows. We have a scope of the direction we’re moving into, but things always have a way of morphing itself into something completely different (or revert to what you do best!). We prefer to let things take its own course and not contrive a specific style or sound. In stead, pleasing our own artistic expression is paramount – and if it translates to the audience, double-score!
Thank you so much for taking the time to converse with us. We look forward to many more years of your creative endeavours. Respect.
Thanks man. When we started we didn’t have unrealistic expectations, and we think our longevity is a result of creating music / art / visuals all integrated as an expression of ourselves and a reflection of the world around us – so it is not something we’ve ascribed a timeline to, a deadline or expiry date. Another 16 years are very likely to zip by and be upon us before we know it!
TERMINATRYX Duality Tour – Cape Town
Saturday 25 August
Trenchtown, Observatory, 8pm
When tours converge – Terminatryx Duality Tour and Polar Dust’s Burning Water Tour.
Event page: www.facebook.com/events/2075923696069087
Sunday 26 August
ALTERnatives – The Festival
All day event at Hillcrest Quarry, Durbanville
11 acts of varied alternative extractions:
The Medicine Dolls
The ShhArt Ensemble
The Sweet Resistance
DJs Nytrox and Mister-i
Event page: www.facebook.com/events/1760790600681642/
Get your tickets Quicket or at the door. Sell your soul if need be, but don’t miss out on these two unique shows. We’ll see you there.
Don’t miss out.
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Interviewed by: Melt Kruger