In the dark, seedy underbelly of Illinois, there nests a clutch of Chicago Glampires. Their name? Plasmata. The latest ritual offering in a series of remixes from their 2021 Portraits of Pain EP was conjured and overhauled by The Sisters of Mercy guitarist Ben Christo and Aly Jados (Blood People).
“You Call Him the Devil”, driven by Christo’s distinctive guitars and inventive rearrangement, becomes an eerily rousing gothic rock reworking of Plasmata’s horror-themed anthem ‘Ten Bells’ described by frontman Trent Jeffries as “a sort of Jack the Ripper manifesto.”
Both the Plasmata original and Ben Christo’s new take on it also showcase the raw and visceral guest vocal talents of Aly Jados (Blood People), whose guttural hookline from the original ‘Ten Bells’ also gives ‘You Call Him the Devil’ its new title. The lyric video was produced by Scott Kennedy and Craig Gowans for 12 Inch Media.
“I first communicated with Trent through Tom Daniel, guitarist in my previous band, Night by Night,” reminisces Christo. “We all bonded over a mutual love of Dean Cadillac guitars! Trent and I eventually met in 2018, when I toured the States with <PIG> and Killing Joke… I loved the freedom I was given to rework the track; I could use whatever I liked from the original stems and then add my own instruments and vocals. The spite and grit of Aly’s vocal was one of the things that really jumped out at me, and I was inspired to build this version around that dark energy.”
Aly Jados, who met Jeffries through the Chicago music scene, remembers gravitating toward him because of his tattoo sleeve memorializing every incarnation of Dracula. “Obviously, after seeing that, we were instant friends,” she says. “Working with Plasmata was so great, they really just let me do my thing. They were open to any ideas I had; we were just on the same page. I was stoked about the way the song turned out and it was partially due to their laid-back approach in the studio. Really awesome people.”
‘You Call Him the Devil’ is the second in Plasmata’s current remix series, following on from the ‘Leviathaneurysm Remix’ of ‘Leviathan’ from late 2022, by deathrock / goth / post-punk maestro William Faith (The Bellwether Syndicate, Faith and the Muse. Faith also produced the original Portraits of Pain EP at 13 Studio in Chicago.
“His musical vocabulary was readily accessible, and I could hear where he was trying to go,” said Faith. “I knew I could get him the rest of the way, and it all followed on from that. My favourite part of the process is always the same: the look on someone’s face when what they’re hearing through the monitors meets or exceeds their original vision for the song. That’s what I shoot for every time.”
The original incarnation of Plasmata formed in Chicago back in 2005, releasing their debut single ‘Lifeblood’ the same year, followed by the Wails from the Crypt EP in 2007. Assembling a talented band of multinational musicians, Plasmata soon had well received live shows, international compilation appearances, college radio airplay, specialist club DJ rotation, and a coveted place in UK music journalist and goth historian Mick Mercer’s book Music to Die For (2009) all under their belt. By 2011, a full album had been recorded, and the band was shopping for a label: all involved were understandably excited. “That is until January 2012,” Trent Jeffries recalls, “when I was felled by a ruptured brain aneurysm.”
The following decade of recovery and immense struggle led to the project disbanding. After much hard work and healing, Jeffries was ready to exorcise his demons. Portraits of Pain EP deals with that process, showcasing a dramatic and electrifying fusion of hard-hitting alternative rock and dark electronica: part classic Chicago Wax Trax-era industrial rock – part Hollywood glam metal and L.A. deathrock – wrapped in Plasmata’s distinctive theatrical “Glampire” schtick.
As a live band, Plasmata currently comprises Trent Jeffries (vocals, guitars, synths); Marco Obaya (guitars); Ryan Hope (bass, guitar, backing vocals); and Django Wilson (drums).
The band plays their next show at Chicago’s Liar’s Club on the 10th of February 2023, with local support from The Feral Ghosts and The Funeral March.
‘You Call Him the Devil’ is available now from Bandcamp, Spotify, and all major streaming platforms.