A couple of months ago, I recorded two lengthy interviews with new artists that I wanted to talk about. Then, we got caught up in work and a house move, and they had to sit on the backburner for a bit. But now we’re successfully moved, and I’ve had a spare evening to sit down, I’ve finally got into a position where I can post them.
/Talk Show Host/2020-21
/069/The Foreign Resort
/066/Chris Peterson talks about Jeremy Inkel
Here’s the first of those two (the other will follow this one pretty quickly). Terminal released their debut album back in February, and I was intrigued by the genre-hopping industrial and deep, dystopian themes that appeared to genuinely be wanting to do something different with some familiar ideas. It took a little while, but I managed to arrange a video call with Thomas, and the result was this lengthy interview that touches on quite a bit. It was recorded in mid-March, and my apologies to Thomas for how long this has taken to get online!
A note about the interviews on amodelofcontrol.com. This is now a long-running, occasional series, occasional because of the fact that I only interview artists when I have something to ask, and when artists have something to say. I don’t use question templates, so each is unique, too. Finally, I only edit for grammar and adding in links, so what you’re reading is the response of the artist directly (and was transcribed by the excellent folks at Rev). Thanks, as always, to the artist and indeed those that help to arrange such interviews.
This interview, like some other recent interviews on this site, has also been posted onto the /amodelofcontrol.com Youtube Channel, and it is also embedded below.
/amodelofcontrol.com: We’re talking with Thomas from Terminal, who is over in Philadelphia. Hello. How are you? There’s a loaded phrase right now.
/Thomas/Terminal: Yes. Having looked at my CD art and everything, you probably expect an answer like, “In a state of permanent existential dread.” Today, the answer is, “Well.” I’m well. I’m at the beginning of an interesting process with this album having just come out. It’s quite a journey to work on.
/amodelofcontrol.com: It seems like it’s been quite a journey from where it’s come from, as well. Tell me about the band, as it is, because it’s clearly a multinational band with a fair bit of background story. Tell me about this.
/Thomas/Terminal: Well, Terminal as a studio entity, is just me. I am South African. I spent a lot of formative years in Canada. And I have been back to the US off and on at different points in my life for college. Later on for professional reasons. This is where my live unit is. Dave and Jess are here in Philadelphia, and this is a good base for us in the time being.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Okay. And so, you’ve been exposed to all kinds of culture across your life, then? Living all over the place. I think I’ve lived somewhere, moving a few cities in the UK. But you’ve been, what? Three countries, at least?
/Thomas/Terminal: Yeah, and there was some significant degree of culture shock each … Particularly, as I was pretty young when I made those first two moves. In South Africa, as a kid, I didn’t even really wear shoes. And then, all of a sudden I’m in the Ottawa, Ontario region of Canada.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Where you’re definitely wearing shoes in winter. Right?
/Thomas/Terminal: For a start.
/amodelofcontrol.com: I’ve been to Ottawa in the summer, but I’ve not been there in the winter. I’ll go for the nice humid bit of May, but I couldn’t imagine that it’s much fun coming from somewhere like the warmer climates of South Africa to Ottawa in the winter.
/Thomas/Terminal: True. But at the same time, very significant cultural, political and other contrasts as you would imagine.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Oh, of course. Yeah, of course. Did that inspire you in terms of your worldview as well as the music that you’ve since liked?
/Thomas/Terminal:Oh, yeah. Very much so. As a kid in South Africa, you develop a certain idea of what government in society is like. In the formative years, you get one picture of it, as you’re a kid. And that’s through the media and through things like the police, which are an entity that most people interface with their government primarily through.
Then, you go to a different place entirely and you … I was still relatively young the first time making one of these moves. And it got me started on this whole idea of, what are societies? What are society’s ills? How bad can things get before we stop them? In South Africa, there was one of those issues, of course. Nowadays, we have the destruction of the climate. And we’ve had a series of a few years here of … To put it diplomatically, four years of frequently problematic politics here in the United States.
/amodelofcontrol.com: I hear you there.
/Thomas/Terminal: In each one of these cases, we find that society tends to want to stress itself to see, how far are we going to go down a certain road before we decide that it’s intolerable or we’re doing something wrong? One of the core concepts of Terminal is an exploration of society’s ills. It’s a musical reaction to the idea that sometimes there maybe are no breaks.
Maybe there are no guard rails to society. Maybe a country will tip into institutionalized racism or fascism or the climate will reach a point of no return. I’m just taking on little, small stories. No grand themes in Terminal music or anything like that.
/amodelofcontrol.com: The record feels … I wouldn’t say it feels negative, but it feels very dark. Almost a foreboding feel of, “Things are not well right now.” This is a classic trope in industrial music, at the end of the day. I’ve been listening to industrial music since before I was a teenager at the turn of the 90s and onwards. And there has always been that feel of bands that have always picked up on that.
But maybe you seem like one of the new breed of bands that are now picking up the baton on that. Because there are no two ways about it … There is a feel to the 90s electro-industrial in your sound, but there’s also a more modern sound in there as well. And I’ve been struggling to find where the lines cross, because it’s done so seamlessly that it’s difficult to tell.
And I take that as a good thing, because there are some times where you listen to a new band and you’re like, “Really? I’ve heard Front Line Assembly do this a million times.” You at least have something bringing, new to the table. It’s a short album, but it’s pretty snappy. We’re not being lost in eight minute tracks here. Was there a desire to make this almost a one-two punch?
/Thomas/Terminal: Yeah. You’ve actually caught right onto a bunch of the key things about this. First, going to the dystopian, fatalistic view of the world, which, you’re right, is absolutely a trope in industrial music. My approach was to … The music certainly feels dark and ominous, because that’s what I relate to and that’s the subject matter. But I tried to do it with complex lyrics.
There’s not a lot of repetition. The lyrics actually all mean something. I spent a lot of time crafting them, and to me there’s a song at the core of each one of them, rather than a beat. The thing that intrigued me about 90s era industrial in general, but particularly groups like Test Dept., was that there was this real focus to use the musique concrète origins of the genre in your sound design.
Lots of machines and mechanical noises. It wasn’t all microchips. It was gears turning, and metal-on-metal crashes and things like that. I do use a lot of that, and it’s a big part of that 90s era music. But also, this is something to me that is really interesting to me about industrial techno. A lot of people who are techno-purists were appalled to see industrial music creeping into it. And vice versa people who are industrial enthusiasts don’t want techno borrowing from it.
But the truth is, one of the things about industrial techno is it brought back a lot of these big, clamorous machine noises and machine rhythms, and ambient, industrial bases. That to me was as much of an influence as it was when I experienced it first time around in the late 90s as well.
/amodelofcontrol.com: I think, I definitely get you on the industrial techno element. I have a little bit of fatigue of it at the moment, because there’s just this never-ending cycle of yet another artist going, “Well, I’m a techno artist, but I like industrial too.” Uh-huh (affirmative). Right. Of course. But there are some genuinely fascinating bands that are doing that crossover between the two.
Because, as you say, it is all about picking up on those rhythms. Bands like Cabaret Voltaire in particular came from an environment of a city that was based around industry. And I’ve lived in Sheffield. The clank of machinery is ever-present when you’re in certain parts of town, because that’s what you hear. That’s what the city is built on. There’s no surprise that bands like that go through that kind of sound.
But I think there is … It’s careful not to just get caught in nostalgia. Because certain other genres, to a point, the goth scene is almost caught in its own loop nowadays and chasing its own tail. Because everything has to sound like The Sisters or the gatekeepers won’t allow it.
/Thomas/Terminal: Yeah, that’s absolutely right.
/amodelofcontrol.com: We have, in our thing, as the wider industrial scene … There is at least, I think, some people still willing to be open-minded enough to go, “Actually, we can do something new, even though it’s the sounds that we’ve all heard before.”
/Thomas/Terminal: Well, I try to, in some cases consciously, in some places not, incorporate different genres that are adjacent to industrial music in itself. People latch onto it for different reasons. People hear a song like Dance Fall Pray and they go, “This is somewhat goth-sounding.”
I have a song that’s called Riot Shields, which is probably the most techno dance floor thing that I get. There’s a song called Godfire, which is almost like nu metal. I want to explore the boundaries of the sound without losing the sorts of musical textures that are interesting to me, that became the core of what the Terminal sound is like.
/amodelofcontrol.com: As an adjacent to that, what were your formative influences in this, then? What were the things that really got you into this in the first place? Because there’s always one band that almost flicks the light bulb, right?
/Thomas/Terminal: There were a few. Most people would credit Gary Numan for getting them interested in synthesisers in the beginning, and I was one of those. Industrial bands I liked, Test Dept. and Cabaret Voltaire, Skinny Puppy of course, but my music also has a songwriting focus, and the other influence that comes from outside of the genre is, and I really love, seventies glam rock.
This may not be immediately apparent listening to the music, but if you listen to the album from that angle, you might go “there’s a lot of internal rhymes packed into the choruses”, songs are short, the album is short, and there is guitar in every song, but I use it sparingly. In some cases I’m chopping away like Marc Bolan, and in others I’ll have just a riff or two, floating across the top – a bit of a Geordie from Killing Joke kind of chimed series of notes.
But that is my left-field reference, which I think keeps me on the track of making sure that the songs are all real songs. They all have real focus to them. And I’m with you. There’s this thing where we … It’s well-known that I have ADHD, so this may be a factor. But at times I’ve been listening to a song, if the industrial track is eight minutes long, at the six-minute mark, I’ve heard it. I kind of skip ahead. I have said everything I need to say and I move onto the next track.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Well, man, as a DJ that’s something that you learn pretty quickly. Where’s that cut point? Where’s the point where I can go, “We’re done here. We can move on.”
/Thomas/Terminal: Right. You know that you are going to lose your audience if you don’t keep things moving. And it’s probably something that is worth experimenting with in recordings as well. You have an audience there as well. That said, this is not the hill I’m going to die on. If I find that I have something to say that really is going to take my six minutes to say, that’ll be a challenge for me, but I’ll try to make it happen.
/amodelofcontrol.com: The glam rock thing is interesting, because the only other artist I can think of that has an overt nod to glam rock in industrial music is Jared Louche of Chemlab. Particularly, his Prude project, which was basically just glam rock that just happened to have loads of electronic touches all over it. And it was great. But I think it’s a much maligned genre in many ways, because its influence permeates. The drum beats that came out of it.
The glitter beat is everywhere. It’s much more than just Marilyn Manson stealing it. Everyone stole it at some point or another. It’s part of rock canon nowadays. And the flamboyancy and the idea that you can actually be someone else. Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be this incredible character. Christ, that comes across in goth and industrial. Right? You look at Skinny Puppy.
/Thomas/Terminal: It very much does. Right, exactly.
/amodelofcontrol.com: I think that idea of image and the idea of presentation, I think, is really important in the music that we do. Because it isn’t just about the sound, it is about the visual aspect. Particularly, if you’re going to be playing live. Because the last thing we want is just … As I said to Lonesaw last night when I was interviewing them, the last thing I want to see it just yet another group of drums, bass, guitars, and a vocalist just standing there looking cool for an hour.
Because I’ve seen it a million times. Do I need to pay £20 to go see that again? Probably not. I’d much rather be seeing Test Dept. banging the shit out of huge amounts of metal on stage. Or people behind weird projections. Something to make my brain work while I’m seeing it.
/Thomas/Terminal: Going back to Gary Numan, again… When he came along, he would try to remind people that what he was doing was show business. Of course, he got slagged for it. And then, Depeche Mode came along years later and said the same thing and everyone said, “Yes, that’s brilliant.”
/amodelofcontrol.com: It’s amazing how things come around, right?
/amodelofcontrol.com: Because of course Gary Numan is now held up as this really important character, but it is easy to forget that he was laughed out of town for a few years in the 80s. It took him some years before he came back, and then people like Trent Reznor going, “Gary Numan was really important to me.” And everyone was like, “Really? Oh, yeah. Sure. So, he was.” It’s amazing how styles come in and out of fashion.
And we don’t need to worry about mainstream acceptance anymore. That’s not important, because the musical world is so fragmented. The likelihood of, “Yeah, sure. I listen to other styles of music,” as well as a whole host of other types of music. But do I care about them getting on top of the pops or a chart show anymore? Not really, because I know full well they’re not going to.
/Thomas/Terminal: Not really. Yeah.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Just recently, Mogwai, the post-rock band after 25 years made it to number one in the album charts in the UK with their new album just recently. Which felt like this tiny little victory for a band that I’d followed for 25 years. But the chances of that normally happening? Absolutely none. And we have to be … The world has changed. We’re not expecting that kind of success anymore.
Your bands coming through are going to play at festivals of a reasonable size and get a reasonable audience. And that’s what we expect. We’re not expecting world beating anymore, because we know it’s not realistic. Does that affect how you see things in terms of success? Obviously, I’m presuming you have a day job and the band is a secondary thing to this?
/Thomas/Terminal: I do multimedia production as well. But this is not the career that you would pick if you were trying to make yourself wealthy. The thing that’s interesting to me is acknowledging that your audience may be very dispersed. When I look at all the analytics for who’s buying the album and who’s streaming the streams and downloading the MP3s, they were very big in Sweden, the United States, and Moscow.
You can’t say to yourself… I can’t go into this saying I’m targeting an audience. And that’s, I think, one of the things that’s different. As you could say, “I will make the kind of music I want to make.” As cliché as it is, I made the kind of album that I wanted to hear. And then, the audience will find it. Your audience will find itself. Your audience doesn’t want to pigeonhole itself into a particular label any more than maybe you do.
/amodelofcontrol.com: And there isn’t much in the way of press anymore. There’s a handful of us that are writing about the scene, but most of us are doing this as secondary thing as well at the end of the day. And so, we’re often relying on word of mouth. I might rely on someone sending me something saying, “Hey, you should check this out.” And I will do likewise, because the internet is a wide place and it’s difficult to find stuff.
If you certainly get a personal recommendation going, “Hey, you need to listen to this, because this album is great,” damn right, I’m going to go listen to it. This the world, how we consume music. Not just how we buy it, but how we listen to it. And how I try my best not to be just the passive listener that has it on in the background while I’m working, but it does happen.
But I will sit down and listen to stuff, because sometimes it deserves a deeper listen. Other times, you’ll listen to something and be like, “No. Next.” You have to learn this.
/Thomas/Terminal: I think there’s nothing wrong with some music being just a fuel for you as you are going through your day. I don’t … I know that there are people who are going to appreciate some of these tracks just by the way they sound. Or if something like Godfire pumps them up, or Riot Shields gets them all pumped up.
Of course, having been Canadian for a while, I did play hockey, because that’s the law. Before I was getting ready to go out onto the ice, I would hype myself up. I would put on The Missing by Ministry. And then, probably something like Wicked by Ice Cube or something like that. Trying to work myself into a foaming rage, charge out of the locker room and go hit some people.
These are great tracks. These are songs by great artists who were making important music. I don’t think they would be offended knowing that in some cases it’s just going to be fuel and inspiration for whatever else you’re doing.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Fair. So, how has it been across the last year? Because, obviously, the last year has been a complete shitshow for everybody. How has it been in terms of preparing to release an album? How long had the album been done before it hit a release date?
/Thomas/Terminal: Actually, I was pretty fortunate in that Metropolis had a gap in February. I was going to be originally slotted for a May release. And somebody pushed their thing back, so I got slotted in February … The album was finished in October, I think. We shot the video for Deadline around there. From there, things went more of less according to schedule.
It was the months preceding the release of the album where we had to completely change course, because we were determined to have a really good live show. We didn’t want to be one of these industrial bands that show up with their notebook computer and push the button and the guy runs around and sings. So we had this big electronic drum kit, we had a good light show. The live show was going to be the focus of what we were doing.
We barely got to play anywhere before the whole thing was shut down. That forced me to change my whole approach entirely. It was quick, just made me learn about ways to promote your music online. But we are really excited to play live shows again. We’re going to be doing a live stream thing in May, I believe. That will be good warm-up for us to get ready for whenever live music is actually really a thing again.
/amodelofcontrol.com: I think those live stream shows have been really good, actually, as well. I think some of them have suffered by, particularly solo artists, who have got a sketchy connection and they’re charging you for a show that’s like, “Hmm. Can I actually see this? And their sound is pretty tinny.” But then others have been so well professionally produced. There was a couple from Sweden I saw last year, Then Comes Silence, that-
/Thomas/Terminal: Oh, I love Then Comes Silence.
/amodelofcontrol.com: …Yeah, their album is phenomenal.
/Thomas/Terminal: Those are my label mates over here.
/amodelofcontrol.com: I reviewed them last year, and the live show was excellent. And the Swedish doom band Katatonia did one early on when they launched their album, and that was professionally done in a black studio. But the sound quality was phenomenal. It was just like, wow, okay. I’m never going to hear them this good when I’m hearing them live. I’ve seen them live numerous times, and they’re fine live, but it’s not normally as good as this.
/Thomas/Terminal: That touches on a good point, which is that there are some advantages to live streaming over doing a live show. And that’s one thing we were thinking about. We don’t want to just set up on stage and have the cameras like you’re in the audience. A lot of people do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when we’re live streaming, we have an opportunity to have cameras all right up-close on us, and to have motion, and obviously higher sound quality.
Or alternatively to work in spaces that are interesting spaces where you couldn’t fit an audience, or that are acoustically difficult. And we play live with in-ear monitors, so we’re almost silent on-stage. We don’t really have to worry about excessive reverberation or anything like that. It’d be nice to find a really cool place to do a live stream show at some point. But it’ll be even cooler, actually going out and meeting some of our fans.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Oh, absolutely. There is no substitute for the fact that … London has been really weird and there was this tiny period before Christmas for about a month or two where there was a handful of what they call distant shows, where venues that had got themselves accredited to do so, basically dotting these chair in pairs, distanced from everyone.
Capacity was probably 20% of what it normally would be, and you got table service to get beer. It was just … And the merch thing was great, because the one show I did do, it was like, “Log into this website. All the merch is here on the app.” And they would deliver it to your seat. I’m like, “Well, now this is something.”
/Thomas/Terminal: We might get used to that.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Yeah, exactly. And having beer and not having to go to the scrum of the bar between the bands. Suddenly, you can deliver me a can of beer? Okay. Yeah, sure. Take my money. Maybe the sound was a bit weird. Because, of course, less people in the venue means more space. It means the sound is going to be different, right?
/amodelofcontrol.com: But it was for a band I really wanted to see, and one of the only bands I would have gone to see during this. But otherwise, I’ve not seen any bands since last march. I saw Alcest and Kælan Mikla last March and it was almost the before times. Suddenly, everything stopped the week after. Having taken a break from live music, I think many of us agreed that there was this feeling that maybe we did need to take a break from it, a little bit.
Many of us were just going to shows, because they were there. Was I enjoying all of those shows? Actually, probably not. Maybe I needed a break, and now I can get enthused about the bands that are coming back through. Like Front 242 rescheduled their London show for the fourth time this week. It’s now in next February when it was originally intended to be February, 2020. Or March 2020 or something like that. Other bands are doing the same, and we’re just like, it’s going to be a slow process picking up. Because the venues have got to re-open, the promoters have got to get back into it. The bands have got to get ready to do it.
/Thomas/Terminal: Yeah, I think … I’m sorry.
/amodelofcontrol.com: No, sorry. Go ahead.
/Thomas/Terminal: I think it works out in a sense. Because just as people need to get used to the idea of getting out again, they need to get used to the new normal as well. The performers have gotten increasingly, I think, appreciative of what we had when we could play live. We were saying the other day to each other, “I’m so ready to play in a crappy bar in front of 12 people right now.” I’m so ready to do that. I think if the crowds don’t initially, immediately reappear in full capacity, that’s probably fine. We’ll be grateful to see who we see.
/amodelofcontrol.com: I’ll put my cards on the table here. I have never been a performer. I have been a DJ for many years and a writer. I’m almost the other side of it, but there is that feeling when you’re DJing in a venue, and suddenly a whole load of people get up and dance to your stuff. It’s like, “This is really cool.”
But I’ve never been on the side of a band being on stage, and I’m probably glad I never was. But even that tiny little buzz, having not had it for a year … Christ. Hopefully, everyone will be almost re-energized. And if they’re not, then they probably need to be asking the question of, are they doing the right thing anymore.
/Thomas/Terminal: Yeah. What you said is a good point. Now we can question whether we were just going to these things out of habit. And as performers, to say, are we taking anything of our audience for granted? And so, if the fans are going to come out to see us now, it’s not just from momentum. It’s because they really want to. And so, it’s on us to make sure that the show is worth their while.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Yeah. Are people going to be more discerning with the money that they spend nowadays? Are they going to be going, “Should I think about whether I go to this or not?” It’ll be an interesting experiment to see how this goes, but there’s been a real clamor. Because we’re edging out of lockdown here, at the moment. More and more people are being vaccinated and they’re starting to talk about a roadmap to opening stuff.
But there was a news story in one of the papers this morning that some bars are booked up months in advance now from when bars are supposedly opening again on April 12th. But only outdoor for a couple of months. Some of these bars are already fully booked and told you when they might be able to fully reopen. It tells you a little bit about just how crazy the clamor for this is. People just want to go for a drink with their mates.
/Thomas/Terminal: They’re backed up and ready. One of the challenges for us is the timetable for it being so much in-flux and indeterminate. Most of our fan base is in Europe, so far anyway. That’s not an easy thing to book at this time. If we’re going to be over there for a couple of weeks, and do shows in six or seven different countries, that’s not the kind of thing that’s easy to reschedule if one or two of them have some resurgence of COVID-19.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Which some of them are at the moment. In Central Europe, it’s terrible right now. I think we’re likely to see different countries come out at different stages. Of course, for us going to you guys…
/Thomas/Terminal: Well, shout out to South Africa. We got out own variants.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Yeah, so do we.
/Thomas/Terminal: It’s just great.
/amodelofcontrol.com: And it is going to make issues for us. There’s debate at the moment. Is Infest, the main festival that we have over here at the end of August, is that going to happen? Is it not? We did a virtual version last year. Everyone has all tentatively booked hotels that are cancelable, just in case. Because we’re all like, “Well, it should be okay.” But which bands are going to be able to commit? Because we don’t know at the moment.
Everything is so unknown and I’m trying not to get too excited about it, I think. We’re in a position where it’ll be great when it happens, but right now we’ve all got this thing where we’ve settled nicely with live streams at the moment. And they’ll have to do. I don’t think live streams are going to go away. I think there will be mid-week stuff maybe. Or things where … There’s a number of people who don’t come out to clubs anymore. They aren’t in a position to do that.
And I’ve been saying, “Can you keep these going?” Because this is an element of social contact that I’m not getting. A way to hear music that we’re not otherwise hearing. And it’s like, “Okay, does that mean that maybe we can DJ in a venue and live stream that out, if the internet is good enough? Can we do that?” These kind of questions are now being asked. Maybe we’ve got new ways of doing this, right?
/Thomas/Terminal: Well, before we started, we were talking a little bit about how we all are re-evaluating our own preferred degree of social engagement. There are a lot of introverts in society. And you get a chance to, instead of being in a noisy crowd of people packed in all around you, to be sitting there in comfort in your own space.
You get to chat with all your friends and provide feedback on Twitch, when everyone’s adding their commentary to the thing as it goes along. For some people, that’s probably still going to be the preferred way to experience this stuff. And so, it’s good that we all got our act together and figured out how to do it.
/amodelofcontrol.com: And I think it’s also been liberating in being able to play music as well, because you’re not beholden to the dance floor any more. You’re not having to just play, “God, I got to play that Covenant hit again. And I’ve got to play that VNV hit again.” I don’t have to worry about anymore. I can do a Friday Night Industrial Night with a cohort while we’re both DJing. I can play literally what I like, because I don’t care.
And people will be like, “Wow, I’ve not heard this before. What is it?” “Well, here’s a Bandcamp link.” Straight away. There’s what it is. We’re able to get people directly to the music, but also we’re able to promote newer music in a better way. Because if I’m doing [00:31:30] a club set, the likelihood is I’m probably only going to be able to get away with two or three new songs that maybe not everyone will hear or pay attention to. They’ll only pay attention when they hear Dark Angel or whatever big club hit they’re hearing this week.
This gives me so much more flexibility and so much more leeway to be able to do that. To be able to play bands like yours. Is that going to go away? It’s a phenomenal way of doing things now, because it gives you the interactivity that a podcast maybe doesn’t.
/Thomas/Terminal: I feel like people have taken this time … Not necessarily just because of the live versus live streaming thing, but just the time in relative isolation, that people have been great consumers of entertainment during this last year. Greater consumers of entertainment. And that, to me, leads to you become more explorative with your entertainment choices.
You can go out and find new types of music. You can click along YouTube in directions that you might not have gone otherwise. You get a lot of time by yourself, you’re not out at the pub. And I did more reading. I’ve discovered the types of TV shows I normally would not have watched. The kind of things that you do during lockdown when … What else have we got to do?
/amodelofcontrol.com: I finally watched The Wire after years and years of meaning to. I think I’ll clock that as one achievement.
/amodelofcontrol.com: It was great too, but I wish I’d watched it 15 years ago. But you’re right. We have had to rethink, but we’ve also been able to grow in new ways. Some of us are now bored as hell of all of this and we’re now done. But we’ve not run out of music yet. There’s still new music coming through. There’s still been a remarkable amount of music coming through. But if I hear one more promo person telling me that this is their interpretation of lockdown, I might quit. We don’t care. Do you know what I mean?
/amodelofcontrol.com: We’ve all lived this. We don’t need it.
/Thomas/Terminal: We all have our own mental picture that we have painted ourselves. Let’s not take someone else’s on as well.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Precisely. Talk of pictures, actually. Is that an original concept for the artwork behind you? On your wall?
/Thomas/Terminal: It is. This is the Terminal Wall. Made by Claudia Strepp, a German artist. Her take on the Berlin Wall for Terminal. It’s a battered, distressing concrete-looking business going on and a repainted logo.
/amodelofcontrol.com: It looks really cool. I guess as a final thing, what are your views of the future? Bearing in mind that obviously you’re writing fairly dystopian, pessimistic music. What are your own views of what we see? Do you think there is a … Not a reset, but a way of moving forward that might actually be more inclusive going forward? Or do you think we’re stuck with something a little bit more negative for now?
/Thomas/Terminal: You mean in the genre? Or in society?
/amodelofcontrol.com: A bit of wider society, I think, more than that.
/Thomas/Terminal: The wider society. I’m not really pessimistic. I am actually optimistic. You probably wouldn’t know it by listening to a lot of the music, but some of the songs are … I try to paint a realistic picture of the problems that we’re facing. But a lot of the songs are calls to action or battle cries to retaliate as well. A song like Crackdown, for instance, is inspired by the sorts of dark, sinister, anonymous policing and extrajudicial killings and things that we’ve seen across society in the last few years.
But it also paints a picture in which we’ve reached a point where we’ve all had enough and we are ready to retaliate. Godfire is the same thing. It’s, “You’ve come here, you’ve taken our land. You’ve destroyed our culture. But eventually our arrows will fill the skies.” The world will turn again.
/amodelofcontrol.com: You only need to look at … I don’t know whether you’ve seen in the news this week in the UK, but there’s been a horrendous issue with an acting police officer who has been arrested for murder of a young woman who he apparently took off the street and killed. And the police cracked down on a vigil last night. There’s been all kinds of craziness about it in the news.
It’s horrendous, and it’s unnecessary, and sadly all too common with the government we have at the moment. But it is reminding that oppression of women is still going on as much as oppression of minorities is still going on. And there seems to be no desire to amend the status quo, even though there’s a large proportion of people clamoring, going, “We’ve had enough. We need to change.” We’re almost pushing against a leaden object to make that change.
/amodelofcontrol.com: But we’ve proven in the past that things have happened. Right?
/Thomas/Terminal: Yeah, they have. It’s a sobering thing for me as we all celebrated South Africa into the end of apartheid. We had an official end to the South African apartheid. But to a lesser degree, it’s an institutional thing. It does still exist over there. There still are townships. There is still a gigantic gap between the wealthy and the poor.
And the extent to which the gap has closed, economically, is not because there’s more equity between whites and blacks. It’s because there’s a small class of highly educated blacks who are now making some money. As opposed, to none of … For society being completely oppressive against them. It skews the public image of what is really still a bad situation.
Of course, apartheid still exists in different parts of the world. I guess, for me, as someone who rails against these things, it’s a bit of job security. There will always stuff like this for me to rail against, but just the same, I’d like to have some new topics. I wish some of these things weren’t quite so timeless.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Yeah. I’m in my early 40s, and I lived through Thatcher in the UK and the bullshit that happened there. I moved to somewhere that had been hit very hard by that, by what she’d done previously. These things run deep. As you say, it’s institutionalized that certain things and certain ways of thinking become the paradigm. It’s very difficult to change that.
We, as individual voices, I’m not sure there’s too much we can do, but we have to unite with others to try and make a better change. But that isn’t a change that happens overnight. In some cases, change literally happens overnight, as it did with the Berlin Wall. Where suddenly, all these years of pressure suddenly gave a down bursting. Suddenly, basically dominoes fell.
But we see those things maybe once in a lifetime or twice in a lifetime, because those seismic events are so difficult to make happen. We would dearly love to get rid of the government that we have here at the moment, but we don’t have a chance in an election for a few years. And strangely enough, Britain’s too polite to try and make a violent resurrection.
/Thomas/Terminal: Guy Fawkes, notwithstanding.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Well, yeah.
/Thomas/Terminal: The thing is, you want your tipping points when public pressures reach the peak at which some transformational change happens overnight. You want that to be a Berlin Wall coming down, instead of a Tiananmen Square. These things build for a long time and you hope that your … There’s a fear that your moment will not go the way you want it to and things will be worse.
/amodelofcontrol.com: Or you’ll miss the point that you need and it never happens, which is other things that have happened in history. Right? We have to be careful what we wish for, I guess.
/amodelofcontrol.com: But on that positive note, thank you so much.
The new Terminal album Blacken The Skies is out now. Buy on Bandcamp.