Life throws obstacles and struggle at you, that’s how we learn and grow.

Life Of Agony

Photo By Tim Cronckoe

As a long time Life Of Agony fan, I was more than thrilled to get the chance to do not one, but two interviews with the band for this issue; one with Mina Caputo and one with Alan Roberts. Both interviews turned out so great, we decided to publish them both, as is, raw and uncut, giving you a great view of the current, wonderful mindset of the band, as they give their thoughts on their amazing new record “A Place Where There’s No More Pain”. Below you find my interview with Mina Caputo.

Hi, this is Randy from Metal On Loud Magazine, how are you?

Hi, this is Mina, from fucking Brooklyn, New York! *laughs*

*laughs* You’re a long way away!

I am.

I’m glad to talk to you, how are things in your world?

I’m happy to talk to you too, and things in my world are smashing, love.

Smashing, that’s a good word! I was blown away by your new record! I think I played it for four days straight now, and it really brought me back to my early Metal days, during which songs like “Lost at 22” were like a personal anthem to me. Do you have a similar feeling with this new record?

I think that this is hands down the best Life Of Agony record we’ve ever made. That’s my feeling on it.

I think it really feels special.

Yeah, I think it is very special. We had a special time making it. I think the band is at its creative heights. The band has grown obviously in the past ten years, and I’ll say it again, this is by far the most urofic, the most bone-crushing Life Of Agony album out there, and I can’t wait for the world to just shut the fuck up and listen.

Yeah, I understand that. This album really grabs you by the throat! How do you compare it to the earlier Life Of Agony stuff?

I would never compare it, it would be sacrilege to compare. You can’t really compare, you know? You can’t compare all the different things that you go through at different times in your life, basically. With each record there’s been a sequence of events that led up to the album, so it’s incomparable. You can’t really compare. That’s unfair for the music, it’s unfair for the members in the band and the wisdom and musical knowledge that we’ve possessed, because we’re far greater than we ever were. Individually and collectively, and the individual collective, so, I can’t compare my friend, I’m sorry! *laughs*

*laughs* That’s alright! So you’re really in a good place with the band right now!

Yeah, we’re in a great spot, you know? No fistfights, yet.

*laughs*

Nobody is stealing my lipstick *laughs* You know, we’re just taking it easy. We’re taking one day at a time. The most important thing for the band right now is health and happiness. We don’t care about anything else. We don’t care about anything, really *laughs*.

Just being there, and having fun with the music.

Having fun, making sure the kids are healthy and safe, making sure everybody is happy and comfortable, those are our priorities, you know?

Those are the important things in life, I think.

Absolutely. These are all the things we didn’t pay attention to when we were youngsters in the band. We were too busy fucking going crazy, and doing drugs, and going berserk. Doing what normal, well not your normal people do, but, you know… *laughs*

*laughs* Yeah, what’s normal.

Yeah.

Do you feel life has passed you by a little bit in the past, when you were doing all those crazy things?

Yes, I do. I feel like, I’m just kind of wondering… I look back at my life and all that I’ve done, and I’m just like, Jesus Christ. Like, I can’t believe I made it this far! I’m very proud. I’m proud to be alive, I’m proud I didn’t commit suicide, I’m proud of my band for continuously fighting with me and being my biggest allies, being my big brothers and protecting me and loving me. They really got my back and are really honest about their love for me, and for what I do as an artist. It’s been very special with the band lately.

This band really is a part of your life. Once you were out of the band, it didn’t really work anymore for the band, did it?

Well, you know, it’s hard. You can’t really replace singers of a band, you can’t. Unless some kind of miracle happens, like with Journey or something. I don’t know.

Yeah, it’s a hard thing to do.

Yes it’s kind of hard, but I’m not thinking of that kind of stuff, really. We’re in a really creative space, we’re exactly where we want to be.

Then it’s important to focus on the positive!

Absolutely. We feel very empowered. We are all in agreeance that this is definitely the biggest album that we’ve done together as a band, the closest, well…

The closest to perfection?

Well, not perfection, we are not really after perfection. Perfection doesn’t really exist, you know? But this is the closest we’ve come to making the album that we always wanted to make with one another, but just didn’t have the life experience to do it really.

Yeah, you need to be in that special spot. Where it comes to the new record, for me, songs like “Meet My Maker”, the title track and “A New Low”, really capture the essence of the new Life Of Agony. To you, which songs capture best what the band stands for right now?

I like “A Place Where There’s No More Pain”, “A New Low”, “World Gone Mad”, “Little Spots Of You”, “Walking Catastrophe”, and I don’t know. I don’t have the record in front of me.

It’s hard to pick a favorite!

Yeah, but one of my favorites is “A New Low” and “World Gone Mad”. And I love the title track too, I think it’s an incredible fucking song man.

Yeah. Those songs really remind me of my early Metal days, when I was in the Melkweg venue in Amsterdam. You guys were playing there, and the crowd just went mad for songs from “Ugly” and “River Runs Red”. This album has that feel!

Yeah, I think the boys were conscious of that too, especially with songs like “Right This Wrong” and “Meet My Maker”. They have a little bit of the older, or I should say younger Life Of Agony in there.

Yeah. “Right This Wrong” has some really hypnotic elements I think. That’s really cool.

*laughs* Thank you. Where are you calling from?

I’m calling from Holland, and I’m near Helmond.

Yeah, I recognized your accent, but I was just wondering what city!

*laughs* A Dutch accent is easy to catch, but I don’t really have a local Dutch accent.

Well, I can spot you. Please, you know? When I’m walking in Manhattan in the city, I hear people talking and I yell, I run up to the strange people and I’m like “you guys are Dutch!”, and they’re like “yeah, how did you know!” *laughs*. Like, I fucking could hear your accent, your English!

You do spend a lot of time here, or at least did spend a lot of time here.

Yeah.

These are exciting times. This is your first record with Life Of Agony since your own life changing events over the last few years. How different would you say, is Mina’s Life Of Agony from Keith’s Life Of Agony?

*laughs* I think, I’m definitely more at peace in my life. I’ve gotten so much more peaceful and happier, and I want to live. I’m not suicidal. That old dying person that was busy dying, we put a name to it and we called it Keith, but in my life I was always a she. I was always her. I always honored and and wanted that feminine spirit to seep through my skin if you will. I was basically hiding my entire life, and was protecting myself from my own fears, and stuff like that. I was definitely much more miserable, I was more fearful, I took less chances, less risks. I was more dangerous in a stupid way. You can be dangerous but really be clever about being dangerous, you know? Things are just… I’m at peace man. Maybe I feel like Van Gogh felt, when he realized that he was discovering new colors on his canvas.

That sounds exciting. When I first heard about your decision to go through a sex change, after it settled in, I thought good for her. May it bring same happiness.

Aww… thank you!

I thought, your music has always been rooted in real pain. Now you have a whole new life, a lot of solo projects, Alan developed himself as a comic artist and a family man, so i’m wondering. Is there still pain to write about?

Absolutely, my friend. I have vaults and vaults of material. I’ve written enough music and lyrics and poetry and more music and recordings, more than enough for five lifetimes already. So, my mission, I release a solo record every other year or something, and it will always be… Look just because I’m happy, doesn’t mean that I won’t experience contrast, or any kind of negativity in my life. Life throws obstacles and struggle at you, that’s how we learn and grow. I’m not saying I’ve mastered happiness, because I haven’t. I’m more happier, I’m more aware of my feelings, I know I want to feel good as opposed to feeling bad.

Would you say life has gotten easier once you let go of a part that wasn’t you?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well put my friend. Well put. It was almost like I was dragging around a hundred thousand balls and chains to my body, and I finally discovered the key ten years ago, and unlocked the fucking lock man.

Cut it loose!

Yeah, that’s it basically. It allowed my spirit to soar.

Do you feel like, going through a transformation like you have, that going through that is more difficult if you’re in a spotlight like you are?

Yeah *laughs*. But it’s difficult for anybody, spotlight or no spotlight. It’s very challenging. Lots of challenging decisions. You have to have a very thick backbone to be somebody like me.

There are no rulebooks for this, absolutely none.

Nope, nor a timeline.

Absolutely. Do you feel it has influenced your creativity and writing?

Yes. In a very empowering way. In a very strong way. I’ve only become more confident, I’ve grown so much more as a musician. My psychological state of being has become more purified.

I can really see that. I saw you perform at Graspop last time you played there, and I really loved how you were interacting with the crowd. Even more so than in the old days I think.

O yeah, totally, because I’m very aligned! I’m aligned with my people now. I feel like I don’t have to pretend, or I don’t have to hide. I’m very open. All my vulnerabilities have been exposed, and I’m at a point where I don’t care if people like it, or don’t like it, or want to deal with it, or not deal with it. Like, I’m very fuck you about everything. I have a very Punk-rock attitude with everyone and everything. I don’t care if you love me, hate me, accept me, don’t accept me. Everyone’s got their own story, their own facts in their story.

You have nothing left to hide.

Yeah, I’m not trying to please people, I’m just very free, and I think people see that and experience that with me, which brings me to a more elevated way of being. Especially when I’m on stage singing those songs live, because I am. I’m having a great fucking time. Do you know what my attitude is now? It’s like, I’m not going to ever have another bad show, ever. I’m not going to fly accross fucking 3,000, 4,000 miles across the fucking ocean to have bad shows. I want to have great shows, I want to connect with the people, I want them to feel great when they’re in the room with us, and that’s what Alan was actually… That’s what “A Place Where There’s No More Pain” means actually, to Alan. It’s that place where we all meet, when we’re playing live. It’s that safe place that we all can be in, which Alan calls a place where there’s no more pain. It was that live element that he was talking about, between the audiences and the band members themselves, you know?

It’s a beautiful line. And I know that feeling. During the Graspop show I saw that a man tried to kiss you, full on the mouth.

He did?

Yeah. What goes through you on moments like that?

Well, if he’s hot and I’m attracted to him, I’d fucking make out with him! *laughs*

*laughs* I saw that and I just cheered like wow.

Please, I was playing in Manchester. Like you were saying, I get very close to the crowd. We played this big venue in Manchester, which was sold out. It was a crazy fucking crowd, probably a club the size of 013 (Dutch venue in Tilburg), and this really, really sexy guy was fucking in the front and going crazy. Of course I went up to him, because he was really hot. He was attractive, and I wound up singing to him, and he was just, he couldn’t take his hands off my ass *laughs*. Normally I would like want to punch him in the face, but because he was so hot, I was like *laughs*, I was actually enjoying being groped. It was pretty funny.

Yeah, and that’s happening a lot too, with my fans and I. It’s so funny. I’ve shifted the minds of many men in my world, and I’ve shifted many paradigms, or sexual paradigms. People who thought they would never, ever have sex with a transsexual girl before, and completely wanting to right now *laughs*, you know? I think it’s pretty funny. Of course I don’t encourage men to grope me and stuff like that, because it’s kind of rude and it’s disgusting in a way, but there’s moments in life where you’re just taking a piss. It was just, no worries. It was harmless, I didn’t take it that way. He was a gorgeous guy, if I wanted to I could have probably taken him back to my hotel room with me and have fun with him, you know? But that didn’t happen. I think we were flying home the next day, so, I don’t know.

It’s just one of those things you put in your bag to look at later and smile.

Yup.

I already mentioned this to Alan as well, in the old Melkweg days, you really seemed like a tortured soul when you were pouring your feelings onto the crowd. What a difference!

O yeah. Thank you. I’m happy that you see the difference. Randy, I’m in a very lighthearted place. I feel very grateful for my life. I feel very blessed, and very happy that I didn’t take my own life in my twenties, otherwise this record would have never been born, or all the other great albums that I’ve recorded in my life. I mean, I was very thoughtfully suicidal and I didn’t think I was going to make it. I wasn’t planning on making it, before thirty. I really didn’t want to live. I was on this glorifying death trip.

Those are deep valleys to pull yourself out of, but you are the only one who can.

Yep, it’s true. The only way to help the world is to truly help yourself, really. And I needed to do that. I needed to serve myself. I needed to take some chances and take some risks in my life. I just got tired of pretending. After a while you don’t want to pretend in life anymore, because you realise that life is way too short for anyone’s bullshit, including your own.

I agree. Absolutely. I’m glad you liberated yourself.

Thank you, Randy. I am too, I really am.

How did you experience the long period that the band wasn’t in your life? How did you fill that gap?

Solo records, you know? I’ve got my side project, The Neptune Darlings. We just finished the second album. I’ve got my solo projects. I’ve released my album “Love Hard” in 2015, before that in 2012 it was “As Much Truth As One Can Bear”, and before that it was “A Fondness For Hometown Scars” and “Heart’s Blood On Your Dawn”. Even after this record, and if LOA takes two years off, or three years off, I’ll go ahead and do another record, another solo record maybe. I don’t know, do fifty, sixty, seventy nights in Europe maybe. I don’t know yet. I’m honestly taking one day at a time, hun!

I’m still to see you play live with your own material, but I’d love to see that one day.

I’m definitely going to bring that back on the stage once again. It’s been a little bit too long, but I can’t be in a million different places all at  the same time right  now. All the energy is going into Life Of Agony at the moment.

And deservedly so. It’s a great new record.

Absolutely, thank you.

What’s your favorite live moment so far? For me it was the acoustic Lowlands festival show where I managed to get in the tent!

Oh, live moment? I think my favorite live moment is when Life Of Agony played with Placebo, the Pixies and David Bowie.

That’s a pretty nice lineup!

Yes. That was pretty much the highlight of my life in a way. I also will never forget playing the Dynamo festival and headlining that two years in a row, and being responsible for drawing in the biggest crowd every in Dynamo history.

That was a great show. I still regret not buying the t-shirt *laughs*

Aww, that’s okay.

You had some great ones made, with the Dynamo logo and the Life Of Agony logo combined.

I don’t even remember, Randy! *laughs*

I do *laughs*. It was a memorable event. Coming back to the album, do you feel that there is such a place where there is no more pain?

No. I still think that pain and contrast and negativity and challenges and obstacles, whatever you want to call them in life, are very important for the growth of our spirit. So I think one can definitely be more aware of how one is feeling, but I definitely think that when pain and confusion arise, which it will, it always will in this life. Your reaction is more important than anything else. I’m definitely reacting differently to all the contrast and pain and stuff like that, which comes to my life. For example, I always considered myself to be a woman, that was born without the tools to make a baby, and that’s the only difference with womanhood I feel, from the next lady standing next to me. I just can’t give birth, in a sense. And that brings me pain, that I can never ever carry my own baby, and I have to live with that until my dying days. Yeah, that hurts me, it confuses me. Of course I’m better with these feelings than I ever was, but certain things in life… If I have a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and they cheat on me or they lie to me, that’s going to bring me pain and hurt. It all depends on how you react to that.

You learned to play the game a little better, but it still kicks you in the head sometimes.

Absolutely.

I’ve said it before, I really love the new Life Of Agony. Do you feel you have a lot more music in you with the band?

Absolutely. I feel that, I’m sure the other guys feel that as well. Especially after doing this album. I think it has inspired us. Like, holy shit, we have a lot more in us.

I can hear that. Do you still have some dreams that you wish to accomplish with Life Of Agony?

Ehm, yes. I do.

*laughs* Aaand silence. So that’s still a surprise?

Yes, I won’t share them!

*laughs* It’s good to know that we have some surprises waiting for us in the future!

*laughs* Yes, Randy!

That leaves one last question, and that’s, do you have any last words for our readers?

Yes! Care about how you feel, and care about feeling good, and watch the universe bring you everything and anything your heart desires. So, remember, care about how you feel, and care about feeling fucking good. Get into a bad habit of feeling good, and you watch how your life transforms, right before your eyes.

I love that, great words.

Thank you, and thank you to Holland, thanks to all the fans, thanks to all good fucking weed and mushrooms, I love you and we will see you motherfuckers soon!

*laughs* We love you too. Thank you for your time!

Randy Gerritse