Apocalyptic Sound: An Interview with Clan of Xymox’s Ronny Moorings
Clan of Xymox has been touring the globe supporting their album Limbo this year, and I was grateful that the band chose to stop in Salt Lake City, where their shows frequently sell out. While planning their 2020 tour, the band had to flee the U.S. as borders began closing due to the pandemic. After the lockdown ended, the lack of personnel at embassies all over the world meant the bandmates could not get visas for the 2020 tour. Luckily, 2023 was the year they could finally bring their music to Utah, and their show at Metro Music Hall on June 7 was worth waiting for.
For any band, touring can be a spectacular experience—not only because of the people you meet, but also the exotic places you visit. Lead singer/songwriter Ronny Moorings has seen many beautiful places on the planet, but only some have moved him in a magical or spiritual way. One of these places is the mystical pyramids in the ancient city of Teotihuacán, Mexico. He says, “I never get over the feeling of amazement when I am there, strolling over the ground and taking it all in.”
Another benefit of touring is seeing the arts and culture of people across the globe, such as one of Moorings’ favorite artists Hieronymus Bosch. Moorings’ father was born in the same area as Bosch—the Duchy of Brabant, now called North Brabant, in the Netherlands. The Dutch master painter of the 1500s captured Moorings’ attention with his fascinating depictions of hellish creatures and scenes. “I’m sure he scared a lot of people at the time with his vivid imagination,” Moorings says.
Every artist has their own creative process when it comes to making music; for Moorings, he must begin with a clear and focused mind. There can be no worry or distractions disrupting his train of thought. He says, “Most of the time, starting a new song is trying things out and looking for a hook or chords that are pleasing to my ear.”
Once that is in place, he will try out different vocals to see what his range can manage, or even pursue something outside of that range. When that catalyst happens, the true magic begins—the inspiration to bring the song into existence. “It is always a surprise to me how a song develops into a thing of its own,” Moorings says. “Most of the time, a song dictates to me what it needs, rather than the other way around. That is the fun bit of writing music. You never know what happens or comes out in the end. At least for me, that is.”
“It is always a surprise to me how a song develops into a thing of its own. Most of the time, a song dictates to me what it needs, rather than the other way around.”
It is not just lost love that you find in Clan of Xymox songs, but how the world has been impacted by the unfortunate chain of recent sociopolitical events. The pandemic vastly changed global ways of thinking by showing us all that society can be halted at any moment by something invisible. Moorings feels that hyperinflation and wars threaten our way of living as we know it, and that global politicians are taking steps backward more often than progressing forward. Clan of Xymox’s innocent outlook lingers no more as a sense of doom looms everywhere.
Limbo was born during the pandemic. The album is about everything the world was facing during that time, serving as a cathartic outlet for Moorings to express his feelings about global events. The lockdowns made it impossible to see his friends and family, which made him very anxious. He reflected on dystopian novels such as Brave New World and thought about how prophetic they are. “The Great Reset,” one of the album’s tracks, talks about societal changes due to progression in cybertechnology and possible apocalyptic events brought on by drought and global warming.
Meanwhile, “Save our Souls” was written about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moorings says, “It felt different when they annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.” The instant access to graphic images, broadcasted live footage and sheer barbaric strategies from Russian president Vladimir Putin fueled his need to create the song. The band briefly toured Ukraine in September 2021 and met many of the people that live there. Thinking of them being bombarded by the Russians, Moorings felt overwhelmed with emotion.
The underground music community—including Clan of Xymox—was shaken upon learning the news that Dave Heckman, owner of Metropolis Records, suddenly passed away on July 29, 2022. Heckman touched many people’s lives the music community. Moorings has many fond memories of the label founder, who was a very good friend of his.
Heckman and his wife Gail would often visit Moorings’ home, where they spent quality time together. When Clan of Xymox toured the U.S., they would always meet and have dinner together to talk, laugh and philosophize about life and music. Everyone loved Heckman, an overall warm, intelligent and giving person. He says, “I never met a record label boss who suggested raising the royalties because he felt that the dollar was a bit weaker than the Euro. [Heckman was] such a generous person!”
“I never met a record label boss who suggested raising the royalties because he felt that the dollar was a bit weaker than the Euro.”
Clan of Xymox believes that empathy and kindness seem to be lacking in today’s global society. We live in a self-serving world, but if we give thought to how our actions impact the planet and those living on it, we can reverse the digression of humanity. It is crucial to see things differently, because one way or another “The Great Reset” is coming.