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“The Evil That Men Do” An interview with Thomas Mark Anthony of Terminal by John Wisniewski

TERMINAL recently released their album “The New Republic,” an industrial glam gem on Philadelphia’s Metropolis Records. TERMINAL is the work of Thomas Mark Anthony, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. A lifelong anti-apartheid and civil rights activist over a life lived in South Africa, Canada and the United States, On “The New Republic,” Anthony’s seductive Goth tinged baritone weaves through lyrics that ponder existential themes of religion, zealotry, corruption and mortality on a wondrous album that is dedicated to Metropolis founder Dave Heckman. Thomas Mark Anthony was kind enough to field some questions about the new album and the evil that men do.

John Wisniewski: Your second Metropolis album “The New Republic” is out now. Could you tell us about the recording of the album?

Thomas Mark Anthony: When Blacken the Skies was released the world was still very much in the grip of the pandemic and that limited our travel and performance options. The upside was that it gave me time to carry on in the studio, and I was really energized by how well the album was received. The first things I wrote for the new record were “The Sin of the Sanctified” and “Smart Weapons,” and I thought, OK, let’s see what I can do musically with these two songs defining a range on the rock/industrial. For the most part I stuck within that. “Fall of the Reign” is more synth-pop, maybe. The title track is something else entirely.

JW: Was there a concept behind the album?

TMA: In Plato’s Republic, he argued that democracy was actually a step towards tyranny because it gave rise to demagogues. I don’t agree with that, but he kind of had a point—democracy didn’t stop a fascist buffoon from taking power in the US or an apartheid regime from occupying Palestine. His idea that a just civilization was the ideal civilization, however, makes a lot of sense when we look at the nature of society’s open wounds. If only we had one society free of any major injustice we could try it out. Maybe that is what breaks the pattern of empires as they decay into gluttony, amoral complacency and ultimately into ruin.

JW: How is “The New Republic” different than your first album?

TMA: The songs in Blacken the Skies were sort of rapid fire excoriations of the terrible people who seem determined to ruin the world for their own gain. This time around I thought more about the next steps–what do we do about those people? What difficult choices do we have make if we really care about our planet and the people and creatures who live on it?

Musically the songs are a little longer, the arrangements a little more complex and varied. I’m finally comfortable enough with what my voice is capable of that I could make the vocals much more prominent in the mix.

Not everyone picked up on the glam influence on the Terminal sound in the first album, which primarily manifests as song structure and dense rhyme schemes, so I think maybe this time around I put a finer point on it. I bashed out some toms-heavy drum beats and threw in a few rockabilly guitar riffs. We’ll see if the musical message came across.

JW: Tell us about your collaboration with SPANKTHENUN?

TMA: Eric from STN approached me about working with one of his unfinished demos. “Madman” was a pretty simple sketch when I got it but his vocals were in a close to final state. The biggest change was that I chopped up all of his phrasing so that the verses and chorus could breathe a little, and then added my own verse and recorded some vocals. I think his lyrics are about a crazed slasher kind of character. This collaboration happened just as a certain Russian with a Napoleon complex had launched an invasion of Ukraine, so I wrote my parts with that scale in mind. Some attention- seeking madmen have the potential to get us all killed. F*ck that jerk in particular.

JW: Any interesting details about you collaboration with PIG? Which was called “PiG vs.
Terminal”? How did you meet those guys?

TMA: I was approached by Armalyte Industries, who had just released the PIG album Pain Is God, and honestly I thought I’d blown it right out of the gate because (and this is embarrassing) I didn’t know that PIG and Pigface were two entirely different entities. Thankfully that wasn’t a disqualifying blunder. I chose “Mobocracy” to remix because it was a 12/8 shuffle and that seemed an interesting challenge. And of course the danger of mob rule was unfortunately relevant at the time.

JW: Any favorite contemporary goth, industrial or darkwave bands that you can
recommend to our audience?

TMA: I’m a fan of Statiqbloom; I like how Fade retains the signature of his sound even as he moves through genres from noisy industrial to something almost ambient. Dave Heckman, the late and sorely missed founder of Metropolis, turned me on to ADULT. and I love everything they put out. Also, we’re overdue for a new Youth Code album. Someone should check on them, actually.

I get a lot of inspiration from film soundtracks; Hans Zimmer’s work for Dune and Blade Runner 2049 is just remarkable in how well he wrings the absolute most out of every note, every phrase, every sound. Every composer needs a rival. I decided mine is Zimmer. Go big or go home.

JW: Terminal has contributed to quite a few compilations. Have you found these to be a
good way to get the word out about the band?

TMA: I don’t really think about that; rather, I choose the opportunities that seem the most interesting. The Stahlschlag source track was essentially a miasma of overlapping drones. I set out to make a song with lyrics, verse and chorus out of it. It was a fun challenge.

JW: Any Terminal side projects that you would like to mention?

TMA: I’m not sure where this is going to fall in the sequence of TERMINAL releases, but I’m working with a few artists to further develop the short instrumentals that intersperse the songs on both albums. I think the end result will be something truly unique.

JW: Tours? Videos? What lies ahead for the band?

TMA: Right now we’re rehearsing the live show with a new band lineup and of course two albums’ worth of material to choose from. A song like “Godfire” is fun to play pretty much as it was recorded. Other tracks need a little reworking to translate well to the stage, and to me that’s enjoyable, adapting the arrangements to accommodate what parts we each want to take on. We should have some dates to announce soon. Don’t say you weren’t warned.