Inkubus Sukkubus are one of Paganism’s most enduring bands. They have travelled all over the UK, Europe and the US to perform at Pagan events and music festivals and have recorded 17 albums – with a new one out shortly. John Awen caught up with lead singer Candia McKormack…
You formed the band in 1989. What inspired you back then and do the same things inspire you today?
When we formed in 1989, I had been a practising Pagan and more specifically a witch for some years. So when I met Tony McKormack, who had similar beliefs and interests to me, it just seemed the most natural thing in the world for us to get together and form a band.
We were studying graphic design and, towards the end of the first year, I heard that Tony – together with Adam, who played bass – were looking for a singer to start a new band. I went round to Tony’s flat in Cheltenham, sang a few songs to them and it all started from there.
Tony and I were naturally inspired to write songs about our interest in Paganism, witchcraft, folklore and vampirism, and found that we had many, many things in common. And yes, the same can be said today, 26 years on.
What do you think has kept you to your Pagan/gothic roots and how do you feel your music has changed?
It hasn’t been a conscious decision; we have naturally expressed our own interests. It’s always seemed obvious to write about what matters to us and in very many instances that’s Paganism.
Having made music together for so many years now, our sound and lyrical content has certainly been through some changes. But I like to think that it’s been organic; a natural progression. We haven’t changed desperately as people though, I don’t think, so we are still inspired by many of the same things. We’ve both possibly grown up a little, though. I do hope so anyway!
What do you think is the secret to your longevity?
Goodness knows! When we started out at college, I don’t think we believed we’d still be doing this so many years later but here we are.
I guess the closeness of us as a couple has helped. We’ll have been married 25 years this September, so we’re hanging on in there.
What changes has the band been through and what lessons have you learned on your musical journey?
We’ve certainly had several line-up changes. Bass players, keyboardists and bodhran players have come and gone but Tony and I have always been constant members.
There’s always a time of mourning when a band member leaves as they become close friends and, in some ways, family. I’m a great lover of camaraderie, that sense of all being in it together, through thick and thin. I’ve learned to deal with departures, to try to move on and stay in touch with past members when possible, but it can be tough.
Have you any surreal stories to share?
There have been many magickal times with Inkubus Sukkubus and I liken the experience of playing a good gig with a particularly powerful ritual. There’s a feeling of transcending the Earthly plane, of sharing energies and attaining a higher consciousness.
If you’re looking for a particular anecdote, though, there was one pretty weird occasion returning from a recording session for Belladonna & Aconite in Herefordshire. It was late at night when suddenly a freakishly large, white goat appeared in the road – I kid you not. The goat was followed by, we presume, a farmer who was chasing it. I don’t think it was a hallucination.
Your name conjures up many images, female and male demons and seduction among them. How did the name Inkubus Sukkubus come to you?
We wanted something that reflected our interest in medieval witchcraft while still being a little playful. The devilish nature of the Latin names appealed hugely. We did for a while toy with the name Belas Knapp, after a Gloucestershire long barrow, but decided against it when we realised it rhymed with ‘crap’. It doesn’t pay to tempt fate.
What changes to the music scene have you experienced?
We’ve seen many changes. The Pagan music scene has grown from a very small, mainly folky one, to a large and dynamic scene made up of many musical genres, embracing symphonic metal, goth, steampunk, medieval and tribal. It’s heartening to see how it’s grown over the years and it’s definitely a positive development.
Do you feel you aim at a particular audience or age group, or it is more wide-ranging than that?
I like to think we appeal to a wide age group – our audiences will range from teens to septuagenarians, which is great!
The venues generally dictate the audience, with family-friendly festivals attracting the most diverse crowd and nightclubs generally having the more specific audience, age-wise and subculture-wise.
Can you tell us what musical magic you have planned for the future?
Ooh, there’s so much planned! We’re currently working on our next studio album, Mother Moon, and lining up gigs for later this year and into 2016.
Mother Moon is mostly new material with the addition of two of our older tracks, Lose Yourself at the Nymphaeum and I am the One tackled in a very different, stripped-back acoustic style. The release date for the album is October 30, when we’ll be launching it at a show in Moscow.
Visit the band’s website at inkubussukkubus.com.