Interview, photo: Ljubov Dzhuzhynska

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Every person has a void deep inside, what does your look like?
Well I think it looks like everyone else’s. It would be arrogant to assume that my void was any different – we all have the same void we want to fill. I fill mine with cigarettes, whiskey, sex, drugs, food – all awful things. As far as the void is concerned I have particular feelings about it that involve understanding what the void is and attempting to live outside of it, to remove it from my center. I know mentally why I attempt to fill the void with all the things I’ve mentioned, which are both physical and mental processes.

What are you trying to convey to humanity with your work?
I’m really trying to raise humanity up, really trying to make people care. Not me solely, but in general what I try do with my work is to try and make people have a lot more compassion in their lives, a lot more spiritualism, faith, kindness, love – that’s the only reason I do this. If it was for money I would do something else and if it was for fame then I would do it in a different way. I do what I have to do to speak to the people, to speak to those that no one else talks to, the way that they need to be talked to. And I’m just a cog in the wheel but hopefully all small efforts can turn into other great deeds. There is no small effort, even though it might seem inconsequential to some. ‘Why bother’ or ‘I shouldn’t try and change the world because I’m just one person’, but one person can do a lot actually. One person can inspire millions of people to do great things and that has happened before. I don’t really believe that there is no reason to do what you need to do. I do believe that I can do a great change and that’s what I want to leave behind as a legacy, I want to leave something important that lasts for lifetimes to come, I hope. I’m doing it in the small way that I can – that’s rock’n’roll, art, music. It’s really fun and it’s sort of my natural path, my magician’s path. I’m excited to be here.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
I remember when my father would never go see me play in my death metal bands. He was christian, you see. He was worried about his soul being tainted. In a manner of speaking, he just didn’t want to risk going to hell with going to see his son perform, which was really sad to me. It wasn’t like he was not a simple person, he just had his belief and his belief was true to him, but it still made me sad. Eventually, when I started this band, he came and saw me play in Las Vegas. He said something along the lines of ‘that was pretty good’, and I think that was probably the best compliment I’ve ever got, because it’s not the compliment itself, it’s the everything else. Then I remember a couple weeks later he called me on the phone, and this guy never calls me, so I thought ‘whoa, something is wrong’. I asked him: “What’s wrong, dad. Are you okay?”. He replied: “Oh, I’m fine. Have you ever listened to The Rolling Stones?” He just wanted to talk to me about music and that made me really happy.

What questions do you hate answering the most?
I think questions about my faith because I do want my faith to be known to other people but it’s too hard to explain. When people ask Even tonight on the radio they asked what my faith, but it’s a tough thing to put into a nutshell because i definitely don’t want people to do what i’m doing, yet people that want to do what i do will do it, as a luciferian I am confident in that. It’s not a faith where you need to go and explain it to people and get them to follow, there’s already enough of those faiths in the world. Its an individual’s path. So I think when people ask me about that, like ‘how can you be religious and not having the need to convert people into your faith’. I think that’s a big mistake about faith. It’s a tough question for me to answer so I get stuck. We don’t have enough time and maybe it would take a lifetime for me to answer this question, and it’s something that you’ll either learn on your own or you won’t – both answers are ok. You don’t need to know everything in this life,that’s not the point of life. Infinite knowledge is not necessary, there are great mysteries in the world: religion and spirituality is one of those mysteries, which I respect and adore. Anyway, that’s my least favorite question: ‘’Why are you a luciferian?’ and ‘how do you worship the devil?’. It’s just so complicated and simple at once. And I don’t worship the devil.  

What book would you recommend and why?
The same book to every single person of the world? Probably the dictionary. There is a big problem with semantics and the way people speak right now… I mean, that bothers me a great deal. Language is so complex and I wish people understood the words that they use and the reasons why they use them. I’m not like an anal retentive person that needs every single person to say exactly what they mean, but if we spoke more clearly to each other, with more care and caution, if we chose the words that we use more wisely then we’d have less conflict. I gave a pretty weird answer, but sit down with an encyclopedia as well. My mother was incredibly poor but she always made sure that there was an encyclopedia in our home and that was a great joy for me growing up. I grew up in pre-internet days, so if I had a question I would reference this source of knowledge that was just on a bookshelf at home. I think that might be lacking is some people’s lives – just one source of a really dry and precise empirical truths. That could be good for everybody instead of ‘oh I googled that and the president’s a reptile’ or just some other bullshit that people say and never check. I would like some more fact checking amongst everyone before they open their mouths. I’m even guilty. We used to not care about this stuff, we used to not be so concerned with ourselves, of not knowing everything – now we’re entering a new grand age of knowledge. We’re leaving the industrial revolution times, the agricultural age, and moving towards a great age, where people have plenty of time on their hands, a device in their pocket that can feed them nonsense. I hope something is going to happen that will cull this massive purge of information into a more sensible way to be digested and understood. There are plenty of wrong things out there, like Reddit, that is just packed with lies. Right now we’re at the fountain head of a new birth of humanity, it’s a paradigm shift, we’re moving towards something we don’t know. Very fast. It’s interesting to think that it could be totally great, or it could be totally shit. I think right now we’re in that awakening stage, where there is a lot of disruption because of it, because we didn’t find the equilibrium yet. I stay off social media as much as I can, but I want to, in order to exist in the mindscapes of people’s minds. There are levels to this shit and right now everyone is trying to find their balance. But yeah, one book I can recommend is the dictionary. Just read a fucking dictionary, learn a fucking word or two, it’s fun. Challenge yourself, be inquisitive.

What’s fucked up about the world of today?
Not as much as used to be. There used to be a lot of things fucked up about the world. We’re getting better and I’m an optimist when it comes to that. I’m not a person who believes that we are civil and I’m not a fool in that way, I don’t think that humanity is the greatest thing ever, but I still think it’s pretty fucking rad. We’ve done some pretty incredible things. It’s hard for me to be negative in this tone, because it’s easy to be negative. I choose a harder answer: we’ve done pretty good and things are going pretty well. It might feel like things are fucked up, but if you compare it to the middle ages, the dark ages, if you compare it to the Byzantine Empire, to these other times in history – we’re kind of sick right now, as in good. The world is aware of all its illnesses now, at least. Now it’s time to cure them. Now we’re at this age of understanding of what is wrong. What I think is phenomenal about this age is movement – I can move to Sweden by plane in 10 hours. The world is actually a fucking great place. I’m a very blessed person to be an american and being able to choose these things. Freedom is what people want and to be able to choose for themselves. Maybe the future might look more like that, where people who choose terrible things live there, and people who choose wonderful things live here. It’s based on taste. Is there a right or wrong, is there empirical truth? Yes, there are certain things that are pure evil. But I was born in the west and I believe in certain freedoms that come with that, it’s a difficult thing for me to say whether the world is fucked or if it’s totally fine. Obviously, it’s fucked, yet in comparison to, for example, witch trials and it’s not that fucked, we’re doing better. It takes a long time to get healthy and that’s the sad truth.     

If you could have a conversation with any historical or famous person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Probably Joseph Campbell. He’s dead, but I would love to talk to him.

What would you ask him?
I would ask so many things but I’d probably just let him talk. ‘Hi, I’m TJ, I like religion’. I think because he comes from this Jungian school of psychology that I really adore and he’s just so kind when he talks about it, he’s not insulting to anyone, he doesn’t make people feel stupid. He didn’t, I mean. He lived exactly within the principles of his ‘’philosophy’. He’s a great mind. I always said that if I could have two gay dads, one of them would be Joseph Campbell and the other one would be Werner Herzog. Herzog would be the top and Campbell would definitely be the bottom. But the point is that I love these guys and their ideas. I’d really love to bend Joseph’s ear. I’ve listened to all his lectures and read most of his books. He’s incredible, he accomplished so many great things and I think he affected humanity in a very good way.

What do you realize as you get older?
A lot of things. First of all, that you never cease to be the fool. I always thought that I would pass that card and move to something more intelligent. Of course, you do become more knowledgeable, but you still make tons of mistakes and you have to embrace them. As I get older I realize that there are a lot of mistakes that I’m going to make but they’re incredible and I am overjoyed by the opportunity to get to do them.

To what extent do you care about what others think of you?
To some extent, obviously. Reputation is important to everyone.Integrity is a big deal. In some circles all that matters is your reputation and how you’re weighed in certain realms. Am I worried if people know that my favorite band is ABBA? No. There are things like that I just don’t care about but there are also things about my reputation and my ability to do my job are important. But if someone is slandering me on the internet or in social circles – I love that. I don’t want people to do that, but it’s fun and cool, in a way. I don’t try and make it happen, it just happens organically. But reputation is important to me for sure.

Tell us about your pets: the ones you had, have, or want to have.
I have a dog named Pagan and she’s incredible, she’s 13. I miss her deeply but I’ll be back with her soon. I’ve had her since she was a puppy, she came from a litter of 13 other dogs. I went to this horse farm in Carnation, Washington, where I knew they had puppies because I took out an advertisement in a newspaper that said ‘free puppies’. Me and my girlfriend at the time drove out there and I saw this pen of puppies, they’re all so fucking cute. There was one who was trying to get out of the pen to get to me so I grab it and I go ‘what do you think of this dog?’. My girlfriend looks at me and goes: “Yeah, it’s good, but what about the dog that this one stood on to get to you?” And I looked down and that was Pagan – a little black dog, very shy. How could I say no? I’ve had her ever since. I love her. She’s getting old and it makes me a little sad, she’s the dog I’ve had the longest in my life. But you know, like all things, they come and go. I’m really blessed I’ve had her in my life and I always say that I’ve saved her life so many times. Dogs are stupid – they want what they want. They’re like a simple person. They’re great, their companionship, the way that they love you, but they’re dumb and they’ll do dumb things. I’ve saved her from dying at least, I don’t know, a thousand times. But she probably saved me from dying twice and that’s a reason to have a dog: you save her life a thousand times and she saves your life twice. It brings me a lot of recall about the union of different species and how cool that is. Not symbiotic but more like gestaltic – two completely different organisms can benefit from each other. I love that and dogs are a constant reminder. Cats are the same. Fish are a little weird, you can’t exactly interact with them but you’re just helping them survive, yet dogs and cats are a lot like us in a really strange way. I guess it comes from thousands of years of co-dependence. I also like snakes and reptiles but it’s weird when people say ‘I love my lizard’. But… Do you really? Does the lizard love you though? Jury is out on that one. Can they feel love? Some say yes, some say no. Animals are great.

What do you want to know more about?
Literally everything. There is no subject where I go ‘I got it’, there is nothing I know all the way. I wish I could know everything, that’s my stance in my life. I’m not bored. I’m interested in anything and everything. A better question would be to focus on what particularly am I interested in now and that I could answer by saying that I’m deeply interested in birds. There is something about them that is very poetic and magical. I like birds a lot right now. And serial killers. Currently I’d like to know more about these things. There is this book  ‘The Key Of Solomon’, where he summons Asmodeus and binds him, he causes him to do good. Asmodeus is talking to him while he does it and mentions that he hates birds, and Solomon asks him why. Asmodeus replies: “I hate birds and I hate water, because both these things remind me of the glory of God.” When a bird lands and sleeps on water – it’s really magic. There is a certain gloriousness about birds so after I’m done with rock’n’roll I might occupy myself with birds, for fun.

What’s the best thing about getting older?
I think it’s just a great trip – life is so fun. If you do it right and you really live without fear, which you can transcend both fear and desire properly, live for the things that are good in life, for things that make other people better – it’s great. Of course, you come across bad times and negative things, and yes, you are decaying, but hopefully that will happen at the right time, I’m pretty sure everything does for everybody. I love life, I like getting older, I know I might be speaking from a point of privilege for some people, but I don’t think that beauty ever fades. Beauty is eternal and you can carry it forever. All you have to do is look at Sophia Loren.

What’s it like to be you?
I get up in the morning like everybody else, I put pants on, one leg at a time, walk out the door, go to work – I’m incredibly normal.

Things you can’t unthink.
There’s a lot of those things. There’s depravity in the human mind and the ability in which we can cause suffering to each other – you can’t unknow that. Learning something about, let’s say, the Inquisition of the discovery of the Americas and learning how those details played out, or the depths in which people would go to for the sake of happiness, the bereft sense of caring. I can make this answer light and say Santa Claus – once you know he’s not real, it’s something you can never unlearn. Or once you go through puberty and gain sexuality you can never unlearn that, you can never return into the mind frame of your child-self. There is a lot I wish we wouldn’t have to know, but it’s also good to know. The more we know, even the most terrible things – the better we are. In time we will know all things.     

*** Huge thanks to the Kiev based event agency – tikai promo.