Neerim South man Wayne Dwyer might seem like a quiet person, but his music is anything but.
Image: Wayne Dwyer at home. Photo: William PJ Kulich.
He has just released his second album, The Painful Road to Eden, under his band name Vulvagun.
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It’s an often confronting name, and when the Baw Baw Citizen last spoke to Wayne back in 2015 he said he was planning to change it to Promethian Arch. We asked him why that name only made it into the lyrics of a song, and not to the cover of the album.
Wayne: That’s right, I thought I had to pay homage to the idea that I toyed with changing the band name. It might have been around the same time, because I like to put little clues into what I’m writing.
BBC: So why did you decide not to change the name?
Wayne: Well, in the beginning I wanted to change it just because it got so much negativity, even though I stood by it. I just kept thinking about it; ‘what do I do? What do I do?’ And then it was like ‘no, I’m not going to change the name for anyone.’ Because you do have your doubts about it. And that’s what I like about the name, I’ve said it before, if it challenges me then it’s a good thing – that’s what metal’s about, it’s about pushing those boundaries. And for the people who are kind of like ‘oh, I’m not going to listen to the band because of the band name,’ well, f— off. If you listen to metal, those are the sort of things that push the buttons of the people who don’t listen to metal.
I think people are desensitised to the name, so the obstacle goes away a little bit I think. Although, reading forums and stuff, because I get online and read stuff, I love it, there are definitely people who still go ‘stupid band name, great band,’ ‘love ‘em, but what’s going on with the band name?’ And the good thing about that is they’re talking about the band name; if we were called Promethian Arch, it’s kind of forgettable. It’s a great name I reckon, but it’s not something you’re going to remember.
BBC: You had some communication about the album itself with your artist. The artwork in this album is spectacular.
Wayne: In a way, [Melbourne-based artist] Matt Bottos helped produce the album itself, in a roundabout way. When I first contacted him and said ‘I want you to do the artwork,’ he was really interested in creating something around the lyrics, and he was the one who said ‘why don’t we do a different image for every song in the booklet?’ Yeah, okay, because I’m a vinyl guy – I love the old Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath albums where you’d open them up and read everything and get really involved, and that sort of doesn’t happen all the time any more, with MP3s and whatnot you don’t get that product any more and the experience.
BBC: This album does have a story. Do you want to spoil it here?
Wayne: It’s on the website so I don’t mind telling people what it is.
It’s a concept album, and it’s kind of hard to do a concept album if you want to remain ambiguous, and I love doing that. If you want to take a song out and listen to it on its own it can mean anything. So I didn’t say ‘we wake up in the morning and went and did this, and this happened to me’ and all of that kind of stuff; lyrically it’s more about the inner turmoil of the main character.
It’s about (Wayne turns to the bookshelf behind him), as you can see I’m into old books, mainly old science books, Darwinism, anything from the early 19h century, late 18th century. [The main character is] a naturalist, or what they used to call a natural philosopher, the precursor to a scientist. He sort of has this idea that perhaps we didn’t come from the biblical idea of creation so he sets out on this journey to find what Darwin would call the theory of evolution, so he was seeking something like that but inadvertently sort of finds something a lot darker and that we come from something purely evil.
He finds ancient texts, the idea was he finds all the literature that we used lyrically on the first album, Cold Moon Over Babylon, so he discovers all that stuff we sang about, just the references, like the… the hammer of witches… and all these ancient Christian and Jewish texts which actually talk about demon worship. They’re basically warnings how not to raise the devil. So he finds all this stuff and opens up this doorway into this other dimension which is actually this underworld, and it’s our future, but it runs simultaneously with us but backwards in time.
So there’s this two [levels], here’s us and here’s them, and they decide on the dark side that they want to change their past, so now they’ve got this gateway through to change their past, he can see the future and wants to change the future and wants to change the past as well, so the future is different in this future.
It’s kind of convoluted. Those ideas are very Lovecraftian, so the idea was the character was a cross between Darwin and Lovecraft, or a Lovecraftian character, but the idea of there being another world underneath ours kind of makes sense scientifically anyway because there are books like The Lucifer Principal by Howard Bloom that talk about where does the nature in evil in us come from? And obviously it comes from genes and mutations and stuff, but in our story on the album it’s not, it comes from this dark underworld that has to exist in order for our own to exist. So if you destroy what happens under here, this stops as well.
BBC: You mentioned religious texts there and we have discussed previously that you’re not a religious person. It would be easy to think that you are based on your music.
Wayne: I actually read through my lyrics, when you finish an album you read through and make sure they’re right, and thought ‘I sound like a nutter. I sound like a fundamentalist.’
I’m an atheist, but I’m not a radical atheist; I don’t hate religion. There are elements of it that I hate obviously, but I know religious people and they’re not bad people, they just have a different outlook on life, and I’ve kind of come to this point in my life where I go ‘that’s okay, it’s alright.’ There are things I like, I have friends who on a Sunday afternoon sit down at the kitchen table and flick through the bible….
BBC: So do you find yourself trying to make a point? Do you find yourself ever trying to make a point in your lyrics either politically or about religion?
Wayne: No, I use it as a means to tell a story. I don’t want to lead people down the path of what I’m thinking, I want to enjoy the story. Every story has a moral to it or a point to it I guess, in some respects you learn something about yourself when you watch a film or read a book or whatever, but no, I’m not trying to influence anyone in their thinking, absolutely not.
I like to tell stories, and you us the real world and what happens in the real world to kind of make those stories happen. Like I said, the first album is based on all these texts, they actually exist, they’re real texts; they don’t mean anything in the real world, they don’t do anything, but they exist, and there was a time when people kind of took them pretty seriously. That fascinates me.
You can find The Painful Road to Eden online at vulvagun.com.
This article and photo were first published in the 2 June 2017 edition of the Baw Baw Citizen newspaper.
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