Brest France’s The Von Deer Skulls is a mysteriously masked Post Doom Rock band that really grabbed this writer’s attention some months ago when I stumbled across their debut album “The Rest Is Silence”. Since that discovery it’s been on constant rotation for me. I contacted the band to buy a copy and figured while I’m at it, why not ask for an interview too. Band mastermind Peter Von Deer Skull kindly agreed and so here we are. During our initial correspondence Peter basically revealed a secret about the band and I completely missed the clues. Only when I finally read his interview answers I had my oooooooohhhh moment. I’ll let you get to that yourself. Enjoy the interview and check out the band’s music. It’s a weird and wonderful world for sure.
Hi Peter, thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed. Ever since I discovered your album “The Rest Is Silence” last year I’ve been coming back to it again and again. You released the album back in 2016, what has been happening in the world of The Von Deer Skulls between the album’s release and now?
Peter – Hi. Thanks to you to have dug up our long time ago first LP.
Life. It’s difficult to be an artist in this industry, and a musician a lot more I think. And sometimes life takes you away from your goal for a time. So, I do some other things, in painting, filmmaking for others. And continue on and off to collect inspiration or pieces of art to make a new cycle. It’s a lot of work when you’re perfectionist or rude with yourself.
You clearly put a lot of thought into the visual identity of the band. How did you fix on this mysterious masked presentation of the band and how important is the visual side of the band alongside the music?
Peter – Visual is the beginning of the band. Hum, all grew together, music, video, picture, art, painting, all what you can see… All fit together and at the same time. I write lyrics, paint the artwork, then work on guitars, and videos, again and again, from one to others. And if you want to know a big fucking secret about the mask? It’s because at the early dusk of the band I’m the only one member in this band, and I did all by myself, just changed the names on the credits, and hide myself with masks in videos and pictures… What I look like has no importance, art yes, if I’m ugly or not, who cares? Here’s a video which reveals the tricks.
How would you describe the music of The Von Deer Skulls to people who are unfamiliar with the band and what other bands do you feel you share a kinship with?
Peter – You can hear influences from other bands, it’s normal, some I know about, some other journalists told me, and I’m ok with that. But our band sounds like nothing else, it’s why it’s difficult for us to put a brand on what we do. And you know it’s good like that, we are kind of strange in the strange. It’s not something we want, it’s how we sound, no more no less, no pretension, just guys doing their things.
On the liner notes of “The Rest Is Silence” you mention “madness”, “the alternate version of ourself” and being “lost in this strange world”. This all sounds very existential and perhaps even Jungian. What ideas or philosophies have influenced the world of The Von Deer Skulls?
Peter – I’ve a master degree in literature and another one in communication, I think maybe it was because of that. A melting pot of authors I could study before and after. Like Camus, Nietzsche, Bukowski, Céline, Beckett, Poe and a lot of more but it’s hard to talk about all of that, because there are so many…
You are credited with writing the lyrics and music for the first album. What is the band’s process for taking your ideas and turning them into finished songs?
Peter – Like I told before, it’s an all in one process. From one to other, then repeat, one with other, then repeat… You know what I mean. I love, hum in fact I can’t just, work on one thing at a time, all the parts of the process feed each other, like a big web where everything is connected. Then I talk and work with other musicians and we grow the songs together. But often I’m the firestarter.
The band covered Marilyn Manson’s “The Apple of Sodom” from David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” movie. The image of the band seems pretty in keeping with the dark world of that movie. How much has that movie (and the work of David Lynch in general) inspired the band?
Peter – Hum Marilyn Manson… Well, well. We’re not gonna talk about politics in view of the last month news, pretty creepy and disgusting. Art or human? Difficult question. Not really comfortable with that and with that cover. I discovered the art of Lynch pretty late after I started filming and making art. One reason? Some people saw connexion between our works, so I take the time doing what I have to do before seeing his films. And ok it’s a Great artist, far better than me, and the video-clip is like a little and modest wink about what he does. For the song it’s a former and brief guitarist who suggested to me to do a cover of that song I didn’t know before.
You’ve been reportedly working on a new album for a while. What’s the current situation with that? Do you have any info you can give on what people can expect from the next release?
Peter – Oh, ok, THE big question. We have been working directly after the release of the album during one year to prepare the live shows. Another one to write some materials. I take time to do video-clip for other bands, paintings for exhibitions… Working on and off during two years in the making of this album and my other projects. So like I have said before, it’s already a question to do that second album. Beginning a new cycle. So here we are, 4 years later, a lot of things have changed, the album is not the same of what it should be, always in gestation and transformation. We have the artworks, some pictures, some videos… A lot of ideas, and we keep working on it. It takes time, if we aren’t satisfied, we’ll continue to work on it. And if finally, it’s shitty, erase and do it again.
How has the Covid situation of the past year impacted on the band?
Peter – Those strange times… I take a lot of notes, but also it made me less productive, strangely. I don’t know why, like the world is on break. So, I was an observer during this year, take notes, write a lot, thinking a lot too. On art, on my life, on all of that. Very inspiring for the next chapter. But it’s hard too, I hope can do that new album soon and quick.
Finally do you have any final words or anything else you’d like to promote to our readers?
Peter – I’m not weird, it’s the other who are strange. If we refer to what we’ve heard, The Von Deer Skulls is an unholy combination of David Lynch and Tim Burton, the dreadful gap between bright and dark, it’s a twisted duality. Speak about that band is speak more about art in general than just music. Design, video, painting, photography… all in one, with a Post-Doom-Metal soundtrack. The missing link between Doom, Prog Metal, Ambient, Indus and Post Rock. It’s noisy, esoteric, clear, weird and definitely out of this reality. It’s something that haunts you, that takes you awake all time, it’s about passion and devotion.
Interview by Tom Boatman
Thanks to Peter for taking the time to be interviewed. “The Rest Is Silence” by The Von Deer Skulls is available from the band’s Bandcamp page or their website (all links below). Do check out the band’s website. The visuals of the band (videos and art), really makes a great companion to the strange musical landscape. Also, follow Peter Skull on Instagram to check out more of his artwork. Hopefully it won’t be long before we hear (and see) the next chapter from The Von Deer Skulls.
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