Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Horror of Thomas Andrew Doyle

It has been just under 25 years since the band Tad split up. Their final single, ‘Oppenheimer’s Pretty Nightmare‘, was released in 1999, and a collection of latter-day recordings and errant stray tracks, ‘Quick and Dirty‘ appeared in 2018. Since then, Tad (the man) formed the band Hog Molly, releasing one album, ‘Kung-Fu Cocktail Grip‘ in 2001, before something of a hiatus. When he did re-emerge, it was with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (also featuring his wife, Peggy), a pummeling doom metal gut-churner which showed time hadn’t mellowed him in the slightest. Their one full-length release came out in 2015 and was supported by live shows in both America and Europe.

Then something odd happened. Out of Tad Doyle, one-time throw-back lumberjack, mute butcher and poster boy for Sub Pop’s conquering of the alternative masses in the 1990s, popped Thomas Andrew Doyle. He’d always been there, of course, but this time he was going it alone.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

Since the release of ‘Incineration Ceremony‘ in 2018. Doyle has released no fewer than eight full-length recordings, shortly to become nine with ‘Forgotten Sciences‘ expected on June 23rd. His work is now a minefield of choices to define – dark ambient; electronic drone; darkwave; experimental classical…I could go on all day. With next to no vocals, Doyle has created a catalogue of extraordinary, atmospheric releases which screamed out to be used in films. And lo’, the universe has responded. Dipping his toe in the water by scoring the trailer to Michael Levine’s forthcoming stop-motion film, ‘The Dark Odyssey 2: Ice Nexus’, Doyle will be settling into his natural home, scoring his first feature-length horror film. ‘Cara’, directed by Hayden Hewitt and produced by Black Octopus Productions, will be released early in 2024.

You’ve been busy?

I’ve been cranking out music for the last two years and I finally decided to stop taking on new clients (Thomas is a noted audio engineer) for a couple of months. All told, there’ll be four new records this year in total.

One of the things about releasing music online is that there is even less to go on in terms of what a musician’s intent is. You only give away what you want in terms of images or explanations. I think I heard a lot of Hellish-type stuff in your last release whereas I think maybe you were aiming for a more outer-space feel?

I don’t like to even impart any expectations on what people hear. I really love Sci-Fi and I love Horror, so, either way, is a win for me. I just don’t want to be boring. My goal is to be challenging and hopefully make people think a little bit.

Thomas appearing as the cover star of Zeke’s single

Were you one of those kids who snuck into drive-ins?

Y’know, my brother would take me to afternoon matinees at one of the two or three theatres where I grew up, and he would always make sure I got into the film I should be seeing. He would go off with his girlfriend or whatever and I would sit and watch what I was taken to, then go off and see what I wanted to see. Most of the time I wanted to see where he put me anyway. I was a nerd. I tended to go to the cinema on my own. I’m lucky I’m with a woman now who likes to do things with me!

What do you gravitate towards with horror movies? Are you a supernatural guy or big clumsy monsters, zombies, vampires?

All of em! I’ve just finished ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’, I loved that. Kitchy – there’s comedy in it. I love Bruce. I love all the ‘Evil Deads’; ‘Day of the Dead’ I love. ‘The Thing’. ‘Friday 13ths’, the first ‘Halloween’. Oddly enough, my wife makes fun of me for this, but I’ve never seen ‘The Exorcist’!

I like the original ‘Twilight Zone’. The original ‘Dark Shadows’ soap opera. The theme is so iconic. ‘Outer Limits’ is amazing. The funny thing is, there’s never been a horror film that’s scared me. I mean there’s been jump scares that have jarred me but the stuff I’ve gone through in life has been more horrific by far.
There’s a film I saw recently which I loved – ‘Hagazussa‘. The soundtrack’s really good, a duo, one synthesizer and a cello. It’s creepy, great imagery, the lighting and everything, dark Austrian forest. And that one with the goat called Black Peter or something?

The VVitch.

I loved that too.

When you’re writing at the moment – I mean, you’re classically trained – is there an idea all ready to go or are you building on exploring sounds as you go?

It’s more the latter but I definitely have woken up in the middle of the night thinking, “oh, I gotta find a way to write this down without waking my wife! So I’ll get my phone and sing it in so I can remember the motif or whatever. It’s pretty comical to hear myself trying to do it with my mouth.

You’re adding vocals to the next album?

Yes, I am. It’s different to what I’ve been doing. It’s got some dark aspects to it but overall I think the message is positive. It was originally written as a 45-minute piece, and I had to edit it down and chop it into bits because bandcamp doesn’t like big file sizes. The lyrics are only really at the beginning and the end with a lot of chaotic stuff in between. I’m not good at pronouncing things – a lot of my early lyrics sound like gibberish! It’s coming out on vinyl. It’s got a different feel to it – it’s got some dark aspects to it but overall I think the message is positive.

It was interesting when you put out the reissues that you included the lyrics. It always felt like you’d made a point back in the day to leave it up to the listener to work out

Right! I’m sure they’re online somewhere too. All wrong…

Talking of which there were some tracks back then that had a horror slant? ‘Nipple Belt’, ‘Eddie Hook’, ‘Lycanthrope’…

‘Mummified Cop’

I love that title.

Have you found yourself buying traditional instruments that you can manipulate electronically?

Yes, we have an upright piano in our living room and that’s what I used for ‘Incineration Ceremony’. It sounds creepy as hell. But I had a friend who bought a cello at a thrift store, a student model, and she came over and I recorded over an hour of her doing things I was suggesting which will probably end up in Hayden’s film. I still have the tuba that I played in grade school! At one point I turned it upside down and used it as an ashtray. I have every guitar I’ve ever bought since I came to Seattle.

All Thomas Andrew Doyle’s releases are available to download for scandalously cheap prices here

Subscribe to Thomas’ YouTube channel for all the very latest releases alongside Grebo Grey’s visuals

Daz Lawrence 

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