Harvest Rain interview from "Black Magazine"(Germany),
Summers End Edition 2002.
English translation. Interview conducted by Marion
Musch to Jason Alfred III Thompkins.
1) Unfortunately Harvest Rain is not very known in Germany
yet. Can you
please explain the band history a bit and introduce the band members?
Jason: Harvest Rain started after I sat down one evening
after a thunderstorm in 1995 and wrote a song with an old acoustic guitar. It was basically me and a bass player, Chris Mehl,
in the beginning. My brother soon joined in to make strange soundscapes in the background and to play keyboards. We rehearsed
in an old barn back in those days. My fascination with Ghost and violent weather drove the lyrics while the music itself has
always been a bit 'rainy'. We decided to record our music in special environments, so we purchased the material to record
at home, in the barn, or anywhere we can plug into an electric socket! I have had special friends help me record throughout
the years. Harvest Rain mainly consist of me and my brother now.
2)You started playing Horror-Punk...why did you change to
Dark Folk during
Jason: I started singing for a horror-punk band when I was
16. We would do Misfit/Samhain covers and our own material. I use to be highly influenced by the first Christian Death album
in my teen years. It got to the point where I thought nobody was serious, they were there just to make music. I had always
craved something more than 'just another band'. A radical change happened in my life in 1995 by a certain incident that took
place. This is when I started becoming obsessed with strange weather manifestation and Ghosts, among other things. It was
soothing to pick up an old acoustic guitar and put this into song. This gave me the opportunity to actually 'use my voice'
instead of screaming.
3) How would you describe your music in your own words?
Jason: Firstly, it is Autumnal. It can be haunting and reflective,
rich with the symbols that surround me but not exactly 'sad' as it can also be uplifting. I have a tendency to be a perfectionist
so I try to make sure each little sound is pleasing to the actual vision I want manifested. It is music to play in an old
empty house as the frost makes the Earth white outside. It is music to play when the Western sky becomes clad in grey-blue
clouds and that first icy wind blows it's trumpet. I suppose thats how I would describe it.
4) You are from the swamplands
in South Carolina and your music seems to be
very much inspired from the landscape, can you go more into detail here?
Jason: South Carolina are well-known for it's swamps. The
swamps here become like living things at dawn. The fog covers them and it floats just over the surface like an apparition
while the trees sometimes look like skeletons. Especially trees that grow in swamps. They become deformed and have very odd
shapes. At twilight, with enough imagination, you could very well scare yourself in such a place. But it is not just the swamps,
we are surrounded by corn-fields, wheat-fields and pastures. There is a certain golden color that everything turns into when
Autumn comes. This I call "Nature's True Gold", not a slave's gold, but the real gold of our Gods.
5) Your music also
contains "ghosty" elements, like you mention haunted
places in your lycris etc. Are there so many mysteries and ghost
about the swamps?
Jason: In fact, there is a song by Harvest Rain called 'The
Legend of Sterret Swamp'. The song talks about the ghost of a girl who drowned in a swamp that I use to play in when I was
a kid, but now she plays in it, or her apparition does. Well, I invented this song from my imagination. It was Harvest Rain's
first 'Ghost Story'. However, we had a hurricane a couple of years ago and we were driving to my brother's Grandparents-in-Law
to see if everything was alright. The river had flooded. When we drove past Sterret Swamp there was a whole car with it's
head-lights still on, under water, pointing upwards. The next day we learned a girl had drowned in Sterret Swamp in the exact
location I use to play as a child and where the girl in the song is said to play. But, yes, our area is filled with legends,
ghost storys and simple folklore. Alot of the Ghost are from the Civil War era while alot of the female Ghost are suicides
or broken hearts.
6) How big is the influence of European tradition in your songs?
Jason: I'd say it has it's place since we see ourselves
as descendants of European lineage. I do not see myself as a 'modern american'. I'm more connected to the old people. I stopped
saluting that flag in the 6th grade. I see all our customs as being mainly European. However, southern people have their own
unique way of life. It is a simple life. But it is a way of life that is slowly being destroyed as more and more of our people
loose their heritage and culture, yet they swallow whatever alien influence the media feeds them. It is no dream that these
are some sad days for traditionalist.
7) If you play live, how do you transfer the "ghosty"
elements to the stage?
Can you create a special atmosphere for the fans? How is it in general when
you play live?
Do you still play some of the old horror-punk songs?
Jason: We've only played live a couple of times. We basically
had the lights dim, candles, etc. However, I try not to draw too much attention. There have been times when we've simply plugged
up and played with me sitting in a chair. I have this idea of having 'Dark Night of the Scarecrow' playing on a film-screen
in the background while we play a set. Harvest Rain recorded a version of Samhain's "Archangel". It was never released or
anything like that. But I have also recorded a version of "Romeo's Distress". We don't play live enough right now to incorporate
old death-rock classics into our format but I wouldn't mind playing some old favorites sometime.
8) Have you ever played
in Europe or are you planning to?
Jason: We have not played in Europe but that is one of my
longings. I long to do more than play though. When I did go to Europe back in 1993 I constantly had 'deja-vu'. It was special.
did it come to the cooperation with Matt Howden? Where did you meet
him and what exactly did he do? Did he only add a
few strings to your songs
or was he also involved in the songwriting?
Jason: OPN contacted Matt and the collaboration went from
there. He plays like a demon with that violin. He basically mixed two tracks for the album and added that weeping violin of
his. We already had the composition written on keyboards but he has a great intuition and added a wonderful touch to the tracks.
He made the songs sound more 'windy', thats the best way to describe it. He made the violins sound like women weeping in the
10) Could you imagine to play with him live?
Jason: Yes, I certainly could imagine it. I'm certain it
would be a fine moment in time.
11) I really liked the song "Southern Cross" which can also be downloaded
your webpage. Can you tell me more about the song and the lyrics?
Jason: Southern Cross is my reflection of what I see around
me and memories from childhood. It may surprise some people what the song is actually about. It is about alot of things, it
deals with abortion, murder, drug-addiction and other worldly things but at the same time it lets me know "morning will always
return to me", so to speak. The line "A Frost Comes with the Wind" has different meanings. For some, a frost kills the vegetation
kingdom. To others, it is simply a beautiful sight to behold. It also deals with ancestral awareness and the mysteries of
12) If you like mysteries, ghosts and haunted places, what about literature?
Do you also read a lot
of books about these things? Which are your favourite
Jason: I read quite a bit, yes. But I don't read too much
fiction. My favorites are Hermann Hesse and Thomas Ligotti when it comes to good story-telling. I write short stories myself
and hope to have some published with an album one day. But as far as books, I have plenty of material on the paranormal and
I collect old farmer's almanacs. There is so much hidden wisdom in these little almanacs. As for libraries, I love being in
them. I love the way a library smells. There is no other smell on earth like that of an old library in some old forgotten
13) On your homepage I also read that many of your songs are inspired by the
autumn. Can you explain
that a little more?
Jason: Autumn is my main influence. Autumn speaks for itself.
I get more inspired as Autumn approaches. I'm not quite sure what it is. It is the smell of the fire in people's yards, the
new wind that has never been breathed, the golden-orange colors of the leaves and of an Autumnal morning. The world becomes
quiet as the insects and animals prepare to hibernate, the people spend more time indoors so thats when I go outdoors. The
river becomes sparkling mirrored, the sky becomes clear and shows it's true color. I also start to have memories of childhood
more often, memories of past lives. Not to mention I love Halloween. All these things and more.
14) Who writes the
lyrics for Harvest rain? And who does what in your band
Jason: I write the lyrics and the basic song structure,
the backbone. It is from here that me and my brother, or whoever is involved at the time, starts adding the flesh to the backbone.
From there the skin starts taking an 'interest in itself' and the song builds from itself. Sometimes we can be the puppets
for the song while at others we are the master.
15) How did you find your new label OPN? It is in France, so isn't
sometimes a bit difficult to cooperate? How do they support you?
Jason: Well, I met Sebastien from the internet. I saw that
he had a band and I simply offered to send him a cdr of my stuff just because I thought we had similar interests. I didn't
know anything about OPN at the time. He soon contacted me, after he got back from Croatia, and let me know that OPN may be
interested in putting an album out. That was good news to me because it was the first cdr I sent out to anybody. I was also
very happy that it was a European label. Sebastien is a very nice Frenchman with a good bit of humour on him. He's made me
fall into the floor more than once! He is also a talented man himself. OPN give enough support to make things work. They have
sent promos out to magazines, etc. They are a nice crew and professional all at once.
16) Who distributes your releases?
Is it all done by OPN?
Jason: In North America, Soleilmoon and Malignant Records
will be distributing the album. I think Tesco- Germany have bought some too for European distribution. But yes, OPN send them
out as well to individuals concerned.
17) About your homepage...did you create the page yourself or was it done by
OPN? Do you get a lot of feedback via the page?
Jason: I have an old homepage that was done by a friend,
but the artwork, photos, etc were supplied by me. OPN did indeed put up the new homepage which can now be updated with news,
photos, etc. Unlike the homepage which is just frozen in virtual-land. There has been a little feedback. It's basically a
young blossom at the moment though.
18) Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers? Anything you
like to add to this interview?
Jason: "If you are asleep, please wake up. It would mean
alot if you did."
19) Can you give us a short discography of Harvest Rain, please?
*CDR releases from "Haunted Showers Music"
-Seek the Fallen Leaf
-Evening and Devotion
-A Southern Cross Reflection
-Communion with a Morning Star
'Official' CD release from OPN
-A Frost Comes with the Wind
-Evening and Devotion EP / 7''
-Order of the White Rose (Haunted Showers music)
-The Ballroom (Haunted Showers Music)
-Thaglasz 9 "Der Waldganger" -Germany
Forthcoming Compilation appearances
-Thaglasz "Security of Ignorance" 10 LP Box-set -Germany
-Thaglasz "Die Nibelungen" -Germany
-Dagobert's Revenge Compilation -North America
-Leni Refienstahl 100th Birthday Tribute release
by VAWS -Germany
Interview with Jason Thompkins conducted
by Rob Nikada.
Many people stated they felt a "Southern" American feeling
in the songs. Can you please explain to what extent the records sounds "Southern" ? What is "to be a Southerner" in America,
we have difficulties to understand the concept here in Europe. We felt no big difference from North to South ? Southern invokes
memories of the civil war...
|How would you describe your music to someone who never heard it ?
Jason: It would depend on who the person was
asking the question because it is too easy to give the names of 'other groups' to describe 'your group' which is what happens
in alot of reviews. I describe my music as folk music with a dark ethnic feel. Most of the time you have to bring attention
to people because when they hear the word 'folk', the average person will think of Simon & Garfunkel or John Denver. However,
folk music is exactly what it says, 'Folk' music. Music of the 'Folk'. The common people and their storys, often sad I might
add. My music is an expression of my deep love of Autumn and Winter. My fascination with eerie manifestations, ghost and strange
weather. The smell of burning leaves in the country-side. The sound of tractors harvesting the corn. The approaching storm.
The approaching twilight. It is also our way of preserving what we feel to be our history, landscapes and traditions. Since
I have trouble expressing myself in public, I do it through music.
Jason: I am pleased to hear that our debut
album is conjuring these images into the listener. However, there is a big confusion about Southerners that the media and
other destructive outlets have created. The most common being that of the 'uneducated, beer-drinking, wife-beating, hillbilly,
etc.' sort. This sort of animal exist in all cultures and regions, the South did not invent this. We happen to be the stereotype
and scapegoat for the 'hardly funny comedians' to fit this. We do have an accent that is rich and deep. We are well-known
for our speech. Some love it, some make fun of it for whatever reasons. Southern folk, in my opinion, are known to be far
more family oriented and conservative. Everything is for the family. Everything you do, from work, play, crop, decide, pass
on inheritance to a common reunion, it is all about family. But this is in danger as our people fall into this MTV-oriented,
'make the money, get the women, get the car' crap. Anybody with half a brain can see our way of life is in immediate danger
of being destroyed. As for the North, they have their own way of life as well. You would have to ask them about that. However,
when we use the word 'Yankee', we use it in a derogative form to describe the Wall-Street hustler, the big pig out to make
a buck on our back. The man with the money sign constantly in his eyes. The Yankee Doodle-Dandy. It is not a term to describe
those who are born in the North. The North are special in their own unique way. It is no hidden fact that a majority of urban
dwellers are quite different in hospitality than the country-dweller. But yes, there is a difference in Northern people and
Southern folk, as they both have their own unique ways and customs. There are bad and good in them both. Strangely, Northerners
are constantly moving down to the South. My opinion is that they are just buying land for cheap prices and making money in
investing. However, some actually love our simple way of life and come to embrace it. Just like there are plenty of things
I admire about the North, mainly the fact that they get more snow than us. The Civil War question would take more than an
interview to answer. Most people still think the Civil War was fought to 'free the slaves', this is a falsehood. It goes far
beyond that! But, to answer your question in a simple way is this. A man told me once that when he moved down here from the
North, he was constantly confused as to why people in the other lane driving down the road were holding up their hands. He
thought maybe something was wrong with his car. He got annoyed. He soon came to learn that the good people were simply waving
goodmorn' to him!!!
Did you already begin working on new material ? Is Summer an appropriate
season for you to create ?
Jason: We have not really worked on new material
yet as our debut album just came out. So, we are just sitting back for the moment and watching. I do not like the Summer.
I do love Spring, but Summer is way out of hand here. Summer is like some great gathering for the most base and ignorant things
you could imagine. You have to understand that we live about 30 miles from Myrtle Beach, a very 'hot' tourist attraction.
We also happen to work day jobs there. It is beyond words what I see during the day there in the Summer. It should be cleaned
up. They call this place a 'family' vacation spot, they must be out of their minds. It is beyond redemption. I start writing
my songs at Summer's End. When the world is preparing for rest, for gathering, for harvesting what it sowed earlier. Sometimes,
in Summer, I start getting that familiar 'Deja-Vu' feeling of the approaching Autumn. Memories of childhood. I sense the carved
pumpkins, the flannel coats as the night air puts on a frosty white chill. I sense the smell of oak leaves burning. The world
turns Orange, it turns true golden. This is where I write.
You used to record songs in the night
or during a tornado watch. How does weather influence your music ?
I have had a very healthy obsession with the weather since childhood. Especially the wind and thunderclouds. When I hear the
forecast of rain, I become like a child or something There is something tranquil and sleepy about the rain. It will always
be ghostly. Maybe it's the thought that everybody is inside, things are calm, books are open, man is dreaming. For a few moments,
the world around me sleeps and a calm blanket makes us reflect. A Thundercloud can be very violent. And I like it that way.
Sometimes, its as if the Gods are very upset at a certain area and it shows it's madness on us. It reflects what I feel sometimes,
what all good people feel. It is the polar opposite of the 'sunny happy day'. Both do us good. Harvest Rain have recorded
our music during thunderstorms, tornado warnings and all sorts of things. For example, in the South, the first frost of the
season is called the 'Blessed Frost'. Our song, 'Blessed Frost' was recorded duriing the first frost of 1997. I think the
song has that feeling in it. I cut out all the lights for that song, except an oil lamp. It shows. Its one of our most haunting,
if you will, songs(in my opinion).
How is it to work with your brother ?
Jason: It's destiny that me and my brother are partners. As children, my Mother would dress us alike
and everybody thought we were twins. My brother works the drum programming and does the keys(and other soundscapes) for the
songs. He is an amazing piano player, by heart. He hasn't had any formal training, whatever that means, but he plays intuitively
by heart and soul. I have come to learn that people who 'take classes' have no spirit, or have less. That is perhaps why they
needed to take classes in the first place, I don't know. But, to train yourself, it shows the natural dedication to the ability
of creation. It makes the collaboration perfect because I write the songs and since he is my brother, he 'knows me'. Therefore,
he adds to the songs in a very natural way. It gets no more natural than 15 months apart from the same womb!!!
You started participating on numerous compilations. Did you get good feedback from them ? What did you like
in them ?
Jason: Well, we got good feedback from the people who put out
the projects. I haven't heard from anybody who bought the compilations yet. Compilation projects are a way to share your music,
given it is the right compilation. Fortunately, we've only been on European samplers that gave 'purpose' to the project, rather
than just have some music for the sake of it. I was very impressed with some of the other groups on the Thaglasz 'Der Waldganger'
3LP. Werkraum, Les Fluirs Du Nuit and Leger des Heils contributed some great songs. I do not know these guys personally, but
I liked the songs they used. We are to be on the line-up of the EM Cioran Tribute to be released, I assume, very soon. But,
I wouldn't contribute a song to just any sampler. As a matter of fact, I refused a sampler here in America because it didn't
mean anything worthwhile. If I see something that I feel reflects or uplifts our civilization, I don't mind contributing to
it. Beautiful or ugly, the flowers of our civilization are the most fragrant, so lets keep painting them!
Where Daffodils Scream
A short observation by Jason Thompkins 1998
What is it that drives the people with fragile souls into narcotic visions under purple storm clouds? That dark purple
with radiant orange beaming here and there from an evening sun. Whether or not the crickets are not seen, they are surely
heard. The stillness of an approaching ceiling, the war-ridden blanket of muscled force. Where do the lovers touch when the
charged electrical sky is ripping the silent mundane neighborhood into a saliva dripping panic? Do they dance in sheltered
rooms? Do the cats watch water drip from pine branches as the evening little league baseball game is cancelled and rescheduled?
Will the noise of refrigerators and air conditioners shut up while county lights blink a little before finally shutting off?
Here, we have the lovers left in a darkened twilight living room. They open a few windows to let a fresh watered breeze
clean the cursing air of a stagnated little home. The television is dead. Will it cut back on when the men pull oak limbs
off the electric polls? Will that monster come back again like all monsters do? The lovers listen to a few cars whistle pass,
wondering how bad the storm is a few miles down the road where other lovers dwell. They ignite a conversation that includes
the issues of beauty and decay. How lovely this scene is becoming. The lady looks out the window and tells her lover how a
garden might look over there where the ash tree stands like a Roman butcher. He nods and smiles as he imagines the daffodils
swaying in the Spring. The yellow messengers laughing the new season in. Then he agrees on it. However, he is soon back to
the reality of the living room, for the cat is crying at the door. The lovers stumble to the back screen door and they let
the thing in. She looks the feline over and has not a clue at how those eyes were just fixed on dripping pine branches. The
lovers soon embrace while the kitty runs to the indoor food bowl where the slightest scrap of food still lingers. The lovers,
now kissing, as thunder pounds and declares war on the once silent neighborhood. Silent thunder, lavish liquid. The moist
legs of the lovers become visible to each other. Dilated pupils soon become the entire eye and then the breathing. The male
soon notices how ghostly it feels, the wind through the window touching his naked white body, soon reaching foaming visions
in the asylum of the moment. She is smiling as she traces the patterns on his legs made from the chill bumps. Little do they
know that the secrecy of this moment is being performed all over the little county they seek refuge in. Others with calmness
, others like screaming animals. Some with candles, some with modern degeneracy. Women all over the area are making plans
for future gardens. Men lay and vision how it would be to drive home in evenings and see those yellow daffodils screaming
songs to the approaching nightfall. Maybe a Lavender plant would be nice near the entrance to the front doorway. Someday the
pond will be surrounded by Narcissus flowers and Germanic statues. But, only in some daydream in some future rain cloud. The
lovers agree that a visit to an old friend might heal the war that was birthed at some dinner months ago. The enemy has long
been asleep now. It would be nice, they colorfully daydream, to exchange conversation with the old man and woman again. The
thunder is still hammering but weakening. Only weakening here though. It’s becoming more forceful in the next county
over the river a few miles down the now silent road. But, more and more, a few cars can be heard screaming at the darkening
evening. Now these lovers almost fall asleep, almost float out of the window, almost become pure as virgin snow. One last
thought of the daffodils. It’s a sure thing now. It will be done. In a weeks time. Now the cars are coming more frequent
down the road, travelling eastward. The rain has turned to drizzle. The man closes the window near the television. Cloudy,
he walks to the other two windows. He complains softly at how the cars sound like buzzing, huge, distorted insects. She smiles
and lets the cat back outside where it will get it’s place back under the Pine tree, where it will watch the last few
drops of water drip and drip and drip and disappear.
Suddenly, but not too loud, the monsters awake. The refrigerator buzzes and hums, the television is talking about the tornado
touchdown in Russ County that happened nearly an hour ago. It took what it wanted and left. We’ve seen it also give.
On and on the television talks, it salivates from the speakers like a disease. Some game show comes on. The lovers unite on
a cozy couch and share the tiny space. They both try to guess the answers before the characters on the television are able
to. Somewhere in the threshold of a distant twilight, the yellow daffodils scream. It seems they do not want to be forgotten.
They scream and scream but are not heard. Somewhere in another county maybe, somewhere across the river. Somewhere, someplace,
where two lovers are naked and a gray blanket shelters their nudity. A gray blanket of rain wrapped in twilight thunder. Somewhere,
where the monsters are defeated if not but for one stormy moment.
(A Story about Robyn)
Robyn shut the door behind her as quietly as she could. Using both hands and all
her fingers, she made sure not to wake her parents and little brother. With every thump and squeak came a sudden terror of
being shot at by her fathers flashlight through the upstairs window where he lay sleeping so cleverly. She paused for a second,
listening to every sound that could be made out. Through the vibrant sounds of a distant thunder she finally sat with relief
knowing that she did not disturb the sober slumber of her family. Then came a rushing wind. She took off her night clothing
and spread herself out on the moist, rusty grass. The Autumnal wind felt like familiar hands on her body. The huge Pecan trees
began swaying like mighty skeletons on the silver canvas that some call the sky. The whole picture becomes a glowing storm,
twirling colors of Autumnal energy. She soon realized that she might be seen. She slowly looked up at her parents window.
She got up and waved very childishly as if they were looking down at their playful, glowing daughter. It has been two years
since the drowning. She skipped to the ripened cornrows that stretched out on the acre behind the old house. There she saw
three deer looking for kernels. She leaped out at the deer as they leaped into the field, disappearing in the silver night.
She thought she heard someone whispering. Several whispers became audible.
"Come to us quick but first choose a stick", they cleverly proclaimed.
Robyn looked at and fixed her wide eyes on the Pecan tree. She then glanced at
her arms while stretching them as tight as possible. Her naked body resembled a diver about to leap into a frozen swamp. Letting
loose, she ran towards the Pecan tree. There she found a stick that resembled an antler from one of the deer she thought she
had seen moments before. She began picking up pecans and tossing them into the air. As they came down she would knock them
with the stick. She pretended to be at a baseball game, where she was two years ago before her and a friend went swimming
in Sterret Swamp.
"Strike two!", she sighed as the pecan feel to her feet. She then wacked the nut
all the way to the house and hit her brothers bedroom window. She ran to where her night clothing was and picked them up.
In a corner shadow she listened for any footsteps or voices. Her heart pounded and she imagined it would cause the ground
to shake like farming tools. She put her hands over it. After a few minutes she skipped out into the front yard again. There
she once again waved like a little girl at her parents window and giggled. Then came a huge roar of more distant thunder.
Robyn drew web-like patterns on the windshield of her mothers car. She felt a
fresh drop of rain hit her upper leg. Soon she found herself back at the front doorsteps with her nightshirt back on and looking
towards the sky. A wind came from the Pecan trees and turned her breath white as she held onto the handle of the frosty front
porch door. The leaves galloped over the ground like a family of mice. Then came more whispers except this time they sounded
"Teardrops are falling but the Bed-Bugs are calling", breathed the howling
wind of late fall.
Robyn found her way back into her room as quietly as before, every floating moment
was carefully planned.
"Do not knock a Book, your Family might Look", said the windy whispers.
She left the Lilac scented candle burning and crawled back into the frosty white
sheets. From the open window she listened outside for some more friendly whispers. She heard only the rain fall hard on the
tin roof. Two years ago, she thought, as she was looking up at a roof made of glass water, the last thing she saw was the
rain hitting that watery roof and the familiar sound of teardrops hitting the wood, the ground, the soil and the church floor.
Then came more distant thunder, getting closer. Every other minute the wind would blow the curtains and she noticed how they
seemed to shiver around the purple candle scented room. The tranquil after midnight hours carried Robyn into a numb twilight
sleep that she so often craved when this cloven season visits here. The whispers were quiet, the voices quiet, the deer are
eating and a frosty, white glowing girl rest with tomorrow night on the swamps edge of her thoughts. From the other rooms,
she thought she could make out teardrops falling, hitting the floor but couldnt be sure as the rain is falling hard on the
"They must have saw you waving, you better start behaving", said the shivering
J. Alfred III Thompkins