Tooling around Cornerstone Festival '98 last summer, did you notice a commotion? A crowd of people near the merchandise tents, and in the middle of the crowd four guys wearing dramatic make up? Did you see some men in white-face, with black lips, long hair, high hats, white fright wigs, leather, vinyl skirts, fish net--sort of a black and white explosion? Well, that excitement was Rackets and Drapes, a new horror-goth band that's causing quite the stir.
At Cornerstone '98, the band was comprised of Kandy Kane, Twitch, Precious, and Charlotte. A few months later, Precious left the band, and Kaliapi replaced him on keyboards. The nicknames are characterizations or representations of each member's personality. Kandy Kane, the vocalist, saying he "just screams," is the leader of the band, he also writes the songs, and he did most of the talking when we spoke to him at the Cornerstone Festival.
To interview these guys, I first had to get them away from the mob that surrounded them. All four men hopped on a couple of golf carts, and we met up at their campsite, where we sat under shade trees in the family section of Cornerstone's camp grounds. On the way there, we had a good time watching the walking masses react to Rackets and Drapes. Stares and smiles abound when you're with these guys. Their appearance disturbs some people, though. We had lots of questions for these unusual looking musicians.
Tollbooth - Is this your first Cornerstone?
Kandy Kane - Yes, our first Cornerstone. We owe a lot to Doug van Pelt at hm. He's the one who's really helping us out, putting us in his magazine, getting us here. There are a lot of people who got wind of it, and they're doing so much. They're good Christian people, and they know the scenes need it.
Tollbooth - [Laughing because the band has had to answer this question many times] Rackets and Drapes, describe your music.
Kandy Kane - There's really no way to describe it. It's completely on its own. We've taken Marilyn Manson, we've twisted it, made it heavier, made it scarier--and with a positive message: "Instead of killing your parents, love your parents."
Twitch - We've got more influences than Marilyn Manson, though. A lot more. We've got heavier stuff all the way down to lighter, more classical stuff.
Kandy Kane - The best way to describe us is "industrial horror," especially industrial. Industrial goth. But in the gothic scene, we're not considered gothic. Not at all. We're too heavy. We're too loud. We're too [short pause], we're not really goth--a lot more horror. We have a little gothic influence in some of our songs, like the organs and stuff, but we're not gothic.
Tollbooth - What's Christian goth? What kind of music is that?
Kandy Kane - It's definitely Savior Machine; and Green Ribbon, a band from where we're from; and Clock Tower. A slow, operatic, spookier type. But we're a lot heavier than that. A lot of the goths don't associate us with gothic, like they don't Marilyn Manson, either. I guess the attitude has to do with it.
Tollbooth - Who's writing the music?
Twitch - We all contribute, but mostly it's Kandy.
Tollbooth - What do you sing about?
Kandy Kane - What I usually try to do is [pause], there are a lot of bands out there who talk about Jesus, his crucifixion, being saved. There's a lot of that out there. We take a subject and we sing about it from a Christian's point of view. Whether it's child molestation or spousal abuse, we pick a subject that deals with the world, that pushes it. The list goes on and on.
Twitch - Like abortion. We're really big on being a band that defends children.
Kandy Kane - We have two songs on our album that talk about abortion. Not in a gross way like the death metal bands do, but from how we feel, and from a kid's perspective. And I don't think I should have to pay taxes to support anyone's abortions.
PT - Do you have a record fans can buy?
Kandy Kane - Yeah, we just released one independently on Fifty280 Records (called Candyland). It's a great recording - just phenomenal. A lot of the Christian recordings are really sloppy, not very clear. I think this is one of the better ones, and I'm not just saying that because it's my CD. I'm saying that as a fan of the Christian music scene. The recording is very clear.
Glen Ballew of Fifty280 is a wonderful engineer. He knows what he's doing. He's really on top of it. And he made his suggestions along the way, "Let's do this, let's do that." We're like, "Okay." So everything's clear. He's good.
We had some opportunities
with some bigger record companies, whom we're not going to mention because
we don't care for them--we don't like their hearts, or ministries. We went
with a friend who's got a small little label. He has a couple of compilations
out. We started talking with him one day, and he said, "How about I do
your project?" So we prayed about it. We told our agent, Fred Meyer, and
he prayed about it. Then we got together, and he said, "I feel good about
this. I think this is what God wants you to do." So we recorded with
him. And the good thing about it is, he doesn't want anything from the album. We get every single cent.
Tollbooth - There are many advantages to working with a small label.
Kandy Kane - Well, yeah! We're not going to distribute through any companies right now, not until the name's out. We'll get better offers, and we'll get it out there in the stores. So right now, it's just through the tours. [PT Note: you can get the record now from the Rackets and Drapes web site]
Tollbooth - Is it industrial like a Nine Inch Nails kind of sound?
Kandy Kane - A little bit. It's heavier, though. A lot heavier stuff. A lot more moshable stuff.
Tollbooth - Do you always wear the makeup?
Kandy Kane - As far as Rackets is involved, yes. Before we were Rackets, we were Human Soup. It was a Type O Negative-trying-to-be-gothic thing. But ever since we changed the name, we've changed the whole image. That was about three-and-a-half or four years ago. We've worn the makeup ever since.
Tollbooth - What was the thinking behind the makeup?
Twitch - We just liked it. At least, personally, I do.
Kandy Kane - I was reared on a lot of bands when I was a kid. There was Alice Cooper, Wasp, Kiss … I was a big Kiss fan when I was a kid - big, big, big! And I always thought, "Man, when I get into a band, I want to be like that." Every one of us listened to that kind of music, so that's who we are. It's part of us.
Twitch - I think a lot of it is love, too. As we've started playing this music, and developing a scene and stuff, a lot of the fans have placed this image of the way we should be and the way we should dress. I think it's helped us create our makeup style. It's just evolved into that.
Kandy Kane - [Laughing] We were really sloppy with our makeup in the beginning. We get a lot of questions about it. Biblically, it doesn't say anything.
Tollbooth - Biblically, what?
Kandy Kane - It doesn't say there's anything wrong with makeup.
Tollbooth - Why have the strange nick names?
Precious - It's just part of the scene. We're put up as rock stars, really, kind of. So it's just …
Kandy Kane - [Laughing] We're not really rock stars!
Tollbooth - Is that what you're shooting for?
Kandy Kane - What, being a rock star? No way! We just want to spread the gospel. If we can get to where we can feed our families with it, that'll be great. But that's not a priority. We've never really pushed it.
Precious - We're not here to be famous, we're not here for money. We're here because we love the music, we love to play music, we love to sing.
Kandy Kane - And being at Cornerstone is a way to reach all the Christians here, to ask if they will continue to pray for us. That's what we want the most from Christians, just prayer. You don't have to buy our album, you don't have to buy all our stuff, just pray that we will continue to do what God wants us to do. We don't care about anything else, really.
[Laughing] We had to make an album because everybody was getting tired of waiting for one. The fans back in Denver were constantly asking, "When, when, when?" Then God opened the door. We waited for about two-and-a-half years. We just prayed on it and prayed on it and prayed on it, and the door opened.
Tollbooth - Are you guys getting a lot of attention? From where?
Kandy Kane - Yeah. A lot of weird looks! Everywhere we go. Everywhere we play. Everywhere we turn around. A lot of positive attention, but there is definitely some negative.
Tollbooth - Tell me about the positive response.
Kandy Kane - Mostly, from the Christians, yeah. A lot of people are fascinated, or they just stare. I think a lot of times, too, Christians are so hungry for this scene. They're so hungry for it--and there are no Christian bands out there playing in this scene.
Twitch - Nobody's got the guts to do it.
Kandy Kane - I think we have basically two ministries. We take this scene that's not in the Christian realm, and we bring it to the Christians, and we let them have the Christian perspective and the entertainment. At the same time, we take the Christian message into the secular world, which already has the scene. I think both worlds are hungry for something we have to give. We have a double ministry.
Tollbooth - Christian music doesn't have this kind of scene. What do you mean by "this kind of scene?"
Kandy Kane - Industrial/horror/Manson/Ministry. There are a lot of industrial bands out there, but they are not doing this. Savior Machine is in a different realm. There's some industrial goth around, but there's no industrial horror.
We figured that by now there would be lot of other bands, but there still haven't been any others to come out, other than us. We've been doing this for almost four years. We've been doing this since Portrait came out, by Manson. We were playing in the dark, industrial scene before Manson, before he was even doing it. Twitch and I alone, way back in our first band.
Tollbooth - Are you developing this scene, or starting a new scene?
Kandy Kane - In the Christian realm, yes. We had a lot to do with contributing to the industrial horror, even the industrial goth scene.
Tollbooth - Are there any other horror bands?
Twitch - I don't think there's any other.
Precious - Not that we know of.
Twitch - I'd like to know. [Laughing] If there are any out there, write us!
Kandy Kane - There may be, underground. They may be not wanting to come out, thinking, "What's the Christian world going to think." Or maybe they're thinking, "Well, Rackets is doing it, why hop on the bandwagon?"
Everybody's called to do something different, but they've got to do what they are called to do. If you don't do what you're called to, you're not going to get where God leads you. It may be that he's just not calling anybody else right now.
Tollbooth - But he called you guys.
Kandy Kane - Oh, he definitely called us.
Tollbooth - To wear makeup ...
Kandy Kane - Oh, yeah.
Tollbooth - To look scary ...
Kandy Kane - Oh, yeah.
Tollbooth - Isn't this just drawing attention to yourself?
Kandy Kane - It's part of the show. It draws in the secular kids.
Tollbooth - Is it rebellious?
Kandy Kane - Is it rebellious? I don't think so. I don't see how what we do is rebellious at all. Rebellion is an attitude, it's in how you act - not how you look.
Tollbooth - That's a pretty good comeback. But isn't this scene you're coming from and trying to create in the Christian realm promoting rebellion? If it originates from Marilyn Manson, and he's rebellious ...
Kandy Kane - He is, very much so.
Twitch - But that's the whole thing.
Kandy Kane - It's not like we're trying to bring it to the Christian scene. The Christian scene found us. We were out doing our little thing in Denver, sharing the gospel to these secular kids, and, all of a sudden, exposure happened and we got sucked in, and the Christian scene wants us in it.
So we prayed about it. We said, "God, we don't care about where we go, secular scene or Christian scene." If God takes us there, that's fine. Obviously, God wants us in both scenes.
Twitch - We're not trying to bring the rebellious part of the scene in at all.
Kandy Kane - Not at all.
Twitch - That's exactly what we're not trying to promote. Just the opposite of that.
Precious - There are a lot of people coming who are unsaved, and they like this kind of stuff. So they can look at us and say, "I don't have to kill my parents, I don't have to do drugs. I can love God and still look like this. And he loves me for who I am."
Twitch - At the same time, there are Christians who really, really love Manson's music who don't want to support the scene and don't want to buy his CD's. I think God's given us an opportunity to give them a part of that, where they can still enjoy those things - the goodness of those things, not the rebellious parts of those things--and still have a good Christian perspective.
Kandy Kane - Everyone loves all kinds of music; everyone has his thing. What says you have to change just because you get saved? Jesus said come as you are, not "cut your hair, put on a suit, and listen to classical music."
Everybody says we're promoting the Satanic scene, but one of the biggest Satanists in the world was Anton LaVey. He didn't listen to heavy music, he listened to classical music. And he wore a three-piece suit. So if I were to cut my hair, wear a three-piece suit, listen to classical music, I'm promoting Anton LaVey!? You can go either way with that!
A lot of people take the scripture and change it to what they want it to be. To become all things to all men. They figure, "Well, if I want to witness to the transvestite scene, I have to be one," and that's not true. You become like-minded, not of them ...
Tollbooth - There seem to be a lot of Christians in the goth scene. So, are you reaching out to them?
Kandy Kane - The gothic scene,
really, truthfully, is not a violent, aggressive scene at all. Ninety-five
percent of the real gothic people don't do drugs, they're not Satanists.
They just don't know Jesus. They're more into the magic kind of things.
It's actually a pacifist scene. We're too heavy for that. We're trying
to reach the rebellious kids, the ones who listen to Manson, unfortunately.
The ones who take what he says literally, and who
believe his lies.
Tollbooth - Your look is simply part of that? To be recognized for the look, and then to be a band that's listened to by a certain group?
Kandy Kane - Yeah. It just draws a crowd.
One of our last shows was in a church, and I think about 50 percent of the crowd was secular. They came because of the way we look. We preached, and they didn't have a problem with that. They didn't really listen, they did the little talking and stuff. But by the end of the show, one kid had erased an upside down cross off his head. We got to talk after the show, and I told him I'd invite him to my Bible study. It pulls them in. That's all it does.
Tollbooth - So your band is a ministry?
Kandy Kane - Absolutely! That's our Number One thing!
Tollbooth - And what's this about a Bible study?
Kandy Kane - We have a band Bible study once a week. We have a lot of people who come out. Anywhere we play in Denver, we invite them to come to my house. It's fun. Just a little fellowship thing, to get together.
We're going to start soon on a book, about strongholds in our life and how to break them. We're going to use worksheets, little workbooks, a little Bible study, strengthening each other. This is a tough scene we're called to. We've lost a lot of people in this scene, they just can't handle it. They're into one show, and then they're gone. It's rough.
Under their heavy metal-horror-goth look beat the hearts of caring and committed men, but we'll let that be our little secret. I genuinely like these guys, as brothers and as good people.
As we began to say good-bye and to get pictures of the band, we spoke about musical tastes being cliquish in the church, and Kandy said, "I see that as a problem in the Christian scene, and it's causing contention in the body. We're definitely not for everyone. We're not asking everyone to treat us so greatly, but prayer and support would be great. You don't have to come to our shows; just pray for us."
We continued to talk about families, new babies (Kandy Kane is a recent daddy), and the debate swirling around Rackets and Drapes. "You want controversy? Jesus. That was controversy," Kandy said. "That'll be the biggest controversy you'll ever see. Ever. 'I am the son of God' - and he backs it up. Jesus can be controversy."
The Cornerstone show that night was as wild as advertised! The music was loud, distorted, and Marilyn Manson-esque. Rackets and Drapes are not Marilyn Manson wannabes, though. While Kandy Kane sounds and moves much like Marilyn Manson does on stage, there are discernible differences in sound and spirit. Twitch wears scary wigs and a strip of duct tape over his mouth, and he bangs a scary bass. Precious and Charlotte don't move as much as the other guys, but they crank out the rock and roll thunder.
The show was energetic and high powered. The make up was runny and the hair was sweaty as they smashed their instruments and the pieces flew at the end of the show.
After the performance, I mingled and listened. Even though most of the crowd was talking about the Marilyn Manson tie, they were also impressed, and most of the buzz was positive. Rackets and Drapes had won over a majority of a discerning, music savvy Cornerstone crowd.
The next day I saw the guys walking around the grounds (yes, wearing make up), and, after the hugs, Kandy excitedly told me that he'd been approached the night before about possibly opening for Type O Negative. That's exactly what Rackets and Drapes and Kandy Kane had talked about during our interview--the chance to minister to a hard crowd!
Now, as we close in on Winter, the band is fresh out of the studio with all new material for a new CD that will be released sometime in the future. More controversial tunes, more issue-oriented music, more of their stand for kids and against the onslaught of such dangers as abortion, violence, abuse, and abduction. We will have to wait to hear the new material, however, because of a distribution deal that will put Candyland in your local stores this year. ("I've got good news and bad news.")
I believe I can reiterate for the guys that they covet our prayers. Pray that opportunities keep coming. For those of you who want to know more, Rackets and Drapes has a new Web site from which you can order their CD and other stuff.