DRUGS, DEATH & BANKRUPTCY An Interview with David Reilly of GOD LIVES UNDERWATER
Interview by R. Scott Bolton
“Between the record company problems to my fiancée’s passing, which were about a week apart, I consider it amazing that my suicide or eventual death did not follow.”
Those were the words of David Reilly, describing some of the difficulties he and those around him endured in the six years since the last God Lives Underwater album was released. Originally discovered by American Records’ Rick Rubin, the band released their self-titled EP in 1995 and the follow-up album, “Empty” on Rubin’s American Records. Then, in 1998, GLU released “Life in the So-Called Space Age” on A&M Records and earned acclaim for their live performance and breakout hit, “From Your Mouth.” The CD went on to sell over 90,000 copies. It was in 2000, just as the band was recording the “Up off the Floor” sessions, that their record company, 1500/Riffage, went bankrupt and Reilly’s fiancée passed away. Things couldn’t be much bleaker.
Today, six years after the release of “Life In the So-Called Space Age,” God Lives Underwater is back with the completed “Up Off the Floor” CD, a brilliant and intimate exploration of both the dark and bright sides of humanity.
We spent a few moments with the band’s David Reilly discussing the past, the present and the future of God Lives Underwater and its components.
Rough Edge: It’s been a number of years since the last God Lives Underwater studio album. What’s been going on?
David Reilly: Drug addiction, death, insanity, bankruptcy, etc.
Rough Edge: I’ve read that “Up Off The Floor” is about the struggle with drug addiction, about surviving it and being beaten
back by it. Is that, in fact, the case? Is it about more than that?
David Reilly: The record has aspects of getting clean, which, at the time, was three months or so. Then it sort of follows the day to day struggles of relapse and then the relationships that died because of it. Some of the songs are written from the viewpoint of (band member) Jeff Turzo, and how he was dealing with all of this turmoil and how his life changed. A lot of major things happened. Jeff got married, I got clean, a label merger happened, label went bankrupt with its affiliated internet company, my fiancée was killed, and I ended up basically homeless. Perhaps the best records come out of extreme turmoil. I don’t know. Insanity’s fodder for art.
Rough Edge: I understand you began recording the album in 1998. How have your life experiences in that time changed the
record from how you envisioned it than from its completed version today?
David Reilly: I guess I didn’t really envision it in any state, because I was so distracted by my own struggles and the band’s problems, that I was sort of in a dream-like state.
Rough Edge: How would you say “Up Off the Floor” compares with previous GLU releases? How is it different?
David Reilly: I think “Up Off The Floor” is the best GLU record. That is exactly the album we wanted to make for our whole career. It’s the pinnacle for us. It’s a more focused effort compared to other releases.
Rough Edge: What I like best about “Up Off the Floor” is its ability to use industrial/techno sounds but not lose its humanity. Is it
difficult to give that industrial sound human emotion?
David Reilly: It’s not difficult, because we never think like that. Most of our songs were written to be played or presented with just guitar, or piano or synths. We also never, ever considered ourselves “industrial.” GLU has more in common with Depeche Mode and David Bowie than Front 242 or NIN. GLU is definitely an alternative band.
Rough Edge: I tend to agree, but others still describe GLU with that industrial label. What about the industrial/techno sound? Do you think it’s alive and well today or has the tide turned?
David Reilly: I think that electronic music will always be around and is here to stay, and that was its destiny when the first synths were made. Technology must advance us to a certain extent. But music must have an organic nature to it, which our record does. I guess Marilyn Manson is industrial, so I guess people still listen to that kind of music.
Rough Edge: With your and Jeff’s continuing solo work, where does God Lives Underwater fit in? How does it compare?
David Reilly: I think GLU and our other projects aren’t comparable. GLU will always sound like GLU, but the elements in our solo projects can be heard on the GLU records. I think my new music is more mature, mostly because I have just entered my 30s now. Jeff’s music is gonna be a mindblower, I am confident of that.
Rough Edge: Will those solo projects get in the way of a GLU tour?
David Reilly: If GLU tours a lot, it will be because the record became gigantic. Until then, I will most likely tour. I just did a short tour of the Northeast and it went well. We have more of a cult following.
Rough Edge: Speaking of those solo projects, what’s actually in the works?
David Reilly: I made an EP called “Inside” and I’m working on a full-length album with an engineer friend of mine. I’m not sure what label it’s gonna be on, but it’s stirring some people up, so pretty soon I guess it will find a home.
Rough Edge: Will we have to wait another six years for the next GLU studio album?
David Reilly: Who knows when? You may wait forever for another GLU release, unless of course there’s a nationwide riot to force us to try again. It’s been a gut-wrenching experience on this last record. It’s possible … really. Who knows?
Original Date: 2004-10-00
Original URL: http://www.roughedge.com/features/godlivesunderwater.htm