SINERGY: The Revenge Of Kimberly Goss

The foundation of SINERGY was laid almost two years ago by Kimberly Goss (lead vocals; ex-DIMMU BORGIR, THERION, ANCIENT) and Jesper Strömblad (rhythm guitar; IN FLAMES). As it originally was meant to be a side project only, this soon changed when Kimberly quit her current band DIMMU BORGIR and she decided to relocate to Gothenburg, Sweden. SINERGY soon became a full-time band with a complete line-up of 'infamous' musicians, consisting of Alexi Laiho (lead guitar; CHILDREN OF BODOM), Ronny Milianowicz (drums) and Sharlee D'Angelo (bass; MERCYFUL FATE, WITCHERY,etc.). After signing a contract with Nuclear Blast records, SINERGY recorded their very first album "Beware The Heavens" in Studio Fredman (HAMMERFALL, IN FLAMES) in Germany. The album was released worldwide in July ('99) and the band already played three dates in Japan. Who's Kimberly Goss and what has she got on her sleeve with SINERGY? Ladies and gents, we introduce you the "Warrior Princess" herself......

Hi Kimberly, how are you doing?
"I'm fine - how are you?"

Couldn't be better. Would you like to answer some questions for MM?
"Sure, that would be cool....."

OK, let's start right away then. When did you first enter the music scene?
"Actually, my mother went to see ALICE COOPER play live, when she was pregnant with me, so I guess that's where it all began... Of course later in life, when I started to buy my own albums, I listened to stuff like SLAYER & SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, while my mom listened to VAN HALEN, ALICE COOPER and WHITESNAKE."

"Yeah, I grew up in a really rock'n'roll and heavy metal kind of family! Then of course, I got into death metal, black metal like CARCASS and MY DYING BRIDE and Norwegian black metal and Swedish stuff, too. Nowadays, basically I just listen to anything that's good - any kind of metal or any kind of music - as long as it's good."

Your first band was called AVERNUS (slow doom metal band like MY DYING BRIDE) from Chicago. Did you record anything with them and how long did you play in this band?
"I played with them kinda on and off for two years. This was my very first band and it wasn't anything serious. I was moving from different places, different cities, while I was playing with them. I couldn't do every single gig, etc., but as they weren't a well-known band, it wasn't such a problem. I recorded one official demo with them, which was released and a lot of songs here and there. I don't know what they've done with these songs. I have actually no idea what this band is doing these days, but they still do exist."

Did you play in other bands before you joined ANCIENT?
"No, ANCIENT was the next thing. I actually met the ANCIENT guys, when AVER-NUS played a gig with them. They heard me sing and they asked me if I could be on their next album, "The Cainian Chronicle". I was so young then - only sixteen - and I was like "Oh my god, are you asking me?", so I flew out to Norway when I was seventeen and we went to Sweden to record the album."

You only recorded one album with them, did ya?
"Yeah and that was more than enough for me. I definately didn't have a good time playing with this band. They were so unprofessional. But I was new, ya know and you have to live and learn and experience things. I realized that it was not for me. At the same time, I was also playing with THERION. I really enjoyed the THERION guys and I felt so much more relaxed with them. The whole environment was a lot more professional and they are really good guys."

What was it like being the only female member in ANCIENT?
"This was something I was already used to. With AVERNUS, I was already the only female member and it just felt natural. Ever since I was younger, I really only hung out with boys. I did kinda boy things, like play baseball. I didn't really like to wear dresses or anything like this. I was pretty much into sports, when I was a young girl. Also, this music scene is very male domi-nated, so I just assumed there's not that many women listening or involved in this scene anyway - at least that's what I thought at the time - so it really got natural and didn't feel weird at all."

Which bands/singers have influenced you the most over the years?
"IRON MAIDEN, MY DYING BRIDE and HEART of course (Ann and Nancy Wilson have really terrific voices!!). There wasn't really too many women, who influenced me tho', as there aren't that many women in the metal scene (you have to read MM!! - ed), so I was more influenced vocally by people like Bruce Dickinson or Erik Adams (MANOWAR). Actually I really like CINDY LAUPER and Deborah Harry (I love BLONDIE), but this isn't metal."

Any interesting stories you want to tell about your ANCIENT days?
"Actually no, I don't want to waste my breath on this band, because this is just not important to me. Basically, this guy Aphazel is very immature and he decided to talk some shit about me in interviews. But the thing is I'm above him and I don't even want to waste my time talking about him. I choose not to sink to his level."

You're absolutely right. That was my next question. It's about the bad rumours spread about you and ANCIENT. This goes as far as stealing money and spreading lies about the band. Please tell us your side of the story.
"This guy was just very jealous. He kinda hoped I would stay in the band, but I just couldn't work in this unprofessional atmosphere. So when I was playing with THERION at the same time, my eyes finally opened and I realized I'd been wasting my time with ANCIENT and so I quit the band. Aphazel just couldn't deal with the fact I went on to bigger and better things. And look where he is today..."

What was it like to play with THERION and did you actually play on any of their records?
"No, I didn't play on any of their albums. It was really fun to play live with them. I had a blast! This was where I really got a chance to see the professional music world. The guys of THERION are very good friends of mine. The live show was really something special and different to what other bands offer. For me, it was only a good time in my life and I learned a lot."

Why did you leave DIMMU BORGIR, 'cos obviously they are (together with CRADLE OF FILTH) one of the most successful black metal bands right now.
"Right and I really, really wish them all the best of luck! We're really good friends nowadays. I saw them last month in Helsinki (Finland) and we were at their hotel drinking lots of beer and just laughing about old tours that we've done together. Just having a really good time! I think their new album is really good and they congratulated me on the new SINERGY album. They thought it was really excellent. Of course, when you're in the situation and you see the same people every single day: rehearsing, the small space on the bus, touring together - such close quarters. It's only natural people get on to eachothers nerves. Towards the end, we thought it was the best thing they'd get themselves a new keyboardist and I would start my own band. And we're all much happier this way and we're all really good friends as well."

Is the black metal attitude of DIMMU BORGIR true or is it just an gimmick?
"We are entertainers as well as musicans and of course what you see on stage is only a show. They're not sitting at home sacrificing animals and that kind of stuff. I think the fans are usually more extreme than the musicians and they take it a lot more seriously, than we do actually. We're just there to entertain and to give a good show."

How would you describe yourself and do you have any other interests besides being a well-talented musician?
"Yeah, I want to go back to school one day, but I think this is impossible right now. I've been travelling so much and seen and experienced a lot of the world. I think knowledge is always a good thing to have. I'm a kind of person, who just can't stay put in one place for too long. I was born in Los Angeles and we moved to Japan, when I was like two years old. Then we moved back to L.A. and next to Chicago. I was basically raised in Chicago. When I was fifteen, I kinda ran away to Cleveland, went back to Chicago and got my driver's licence when I was sixteen. I drove all around to New York, Boston and Savannah (Georgia) was my last stop, went back to Chicago again and then I moved to Norway, when I was seventeen and Sweden, when I was nineteen. I'm twenty-one years old now and I live in Finland, so I'm kinda a Scandinavian girl now (she laughs). I just love to travel, see the world and meet new people......"

Then you got your own band together, SINERGY. How would you describe the music of SINERGY?
"I would probably describe it 'melodic heavy metal' with of course some eighties, but also with a nineties feel - a modern approach. Some people call it power metal, which I totally don't agree with."

I was really impressed by your singing. I didn't know you had such a wonderful voice. My compliments!
"Thank you very much! Actually, a lot of people only know me as a keyboardist and they don't know I can also sing. But I've been singing all my life. My mother was a jazz singer and my grandmother was an opera singer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Choir and this singing really runs in the family. I want the people to know that this isn't something I just all of a sudden decided to do. It's something I always wanted to do, but haven't really had the chance, because it's very difficult for a woman to make it in this business and to be taken seriously as an artist. I hope to change that along with some other women which are in the scene right now."

What does the name SINERGY mean? Is it a combination of the two words "sin" and "energy" or perhaps something else?
"Ha, that's a good one! No, it's funny, but this name has no meaning, whatsoever.. It's just a cool name. I wanted to have a name that was catchy and short and easy to pronounce for everybody. Originally, we called it 'SYNERGY', but we found out that there's a band from Japan with this name (some industrial noise underground band), so we had to change the spelling."

There's a lot of variation in styles on your debut CD 'Beware The Heavens". Are you still searching for a definate direction?
"No, we're just gonna write what comes out of us. When I formed SINERGY, I honnestly had no idea, what we would sound like. We just got together. I think the variation in the music has got a lot to do with the fact we're all coming from different back-grounds, musically."

Who wrote the lyrics on "Beware The Heavens" and what are they about?
"I did. I watch a lot of TV and movies (as most Americans do) and I thought: "Hey I'm just gonna write some fun lyrics, which are straight to the point, everyone can understand it and sing along". Most of my ideas come from a TV series "The Outer Limits". It's some kind of "Twilight Zone" or "X-Files" - some weird, bizarre show. Also some lyrics are taken from my own life experiences."

Your biography tells us that you're the frontlady of the band. Can we still speak about a band situation here or is it Kimberly Goss' band?
"Well, it is my band. Of course I want to have a more steady line-up in the future. I don't really have a choice in the matter, because the musicians I have on this album are very busy with their own things (Sharlee D'Angelo on bass [MERCYFUL FATE/WITCHERY/ARCH ENEMY], Jesper Strömblad, rhythm guitar [IN FLAMES], and Alexi Laiho, lead guitar [CHILDREN OF BODOM]). I got these guys, because I didn't want to wait for another one or two years to find 'unknown' musicians to join my band. I'd loose all my inspiration and I probably wouldn't have even started this and would've become a lawyer or something. Let's just see what happens from here. Myself and the drummer, Ronnie Milianowicz - we are definately the only steady members at the moment. But at least now I have something to show people and I have a much better chance of getting a complete line-up together. In fact, I'm already talking to a lot of musicians right now. I'm not worried at all."

Do you have any plans for touring yet?
"We're gonna do our first tour in Japan in July with CHILDREN OF BODOM and IN FLAMES. Unfortunately, Sharlee can't play with us, because he's touring with MF in Europe at the same time."

What are your future plans for SINERGY?
"First of all, I want to get a steady band line-up and tour as much as possible and take SINERGY as far as it can get. I want to record as many albums as possible and write a lot of music. Just keep this going in the right direction."

Is there anything else you'd like to say?
"Only that SINERGY is absolutely not a side project and you will see and hear a lot more from us in the future. I'm here to prove that women can be leaders and we can be taken seriously. Here I am......"

Thank you very much for the interview, Kimberly and see ya soon on tour!
"Thank you and take care!"

*Beware The Heavens ('99 Nuclear Blast)
*To Hell And Back ('00 Nuclear Blast)
*Suicide By My Side ('02 Nuclear Blast)

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Rita & Toine van Poorten, 1999.

This interview was published in Metal Maidens #17/September 1999.