An Interview With Brian Haught of Darkwave Band, Synical

Synical is the US-based darkwave project founded by Brian Haught.  The band’s most recent release, This Will All Happen Again was released on Cleopatra Records last summer.  We spoke with Brian about the album, why it took eight years to make and other aspects of Synical‘s rich history.

Hello and thanks for your time today. Could you introduce the band, your roles and how each member contributes to the composition process?

Hello. Synical was formed in 1989 by Brian Haught and has had many amazing and talented members over the years. The current lineup includes vocalist/songwriter/synthesist Brian Haught, guitarist Eric Griffin (Murderdolls/Genitorturers), bassist/songwriter David Black, guitarist J1M1 Echo, guitarist Noel Page, and drummer Jonathan Pace. The most important element of Synical has always been focused on the live presentation and this large group ensures that all the musical parts can be performed.

‘This Will All Happen Again’ is the latest release.  Did you record all of the tracks written for this release or were there some that were left out? If some were cut out, what made you decide to do so?

The latest album took more than 8 years to record and complete while members were touring, living in different cities, and of course the delay from the pandemic. But most tracks appear on the album. It became apparent that the collection of songs had a common denominator so a few crazier songs just didn’t quite fit. Our friend the legendary John Fryer (NIN, Depeche Mode, Love & Rockets) who mixed “This Will All Happen Again” was very helpful in shaping the final tracks. Most songs revolve around humans suffering the same mistakes over and over and not remembering. We feel it’s a timely album perfectly suited for 2024.

Do you recall your earliest influence that brought you to the goth/industrial arena?

Brian has been a student of electronic and post punk music like Gary Numan, Bauhaus, Cabaret Voiltaire, Depeche Mode, New Order, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, the Cure, etc. But as a Midi synth devotee, he also listened to other acts like Kraftwerk, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and My Life WithThe Thrill Kill Kult. Synical was honored to have Groovie Mann sing on the new album as well as musical performances by Kevin and David J Haskins from Bauhaus.

How has your technical setup changed when it comes to hardware/physical instruments and creating your own sounds on the computer?

Great question. Synical started using hardware sequencers such as the Yamaha QX-1 and Roland MC-500 but evolved into working with the Atari 1040ST and a little know software called Creator/Notator. Of course, we now know this software on Mac as Logic Pro X. Synical still uses many hardware synths such as Access Virus B, Novation Supernova, Korg Radius, Emulator 4x, Roland Jp-8000, Clavia Nord, Modal Cobalt 8, etc. But many softsynth plugins are used as well like Arturia, Cherry Audio, Roland Cloud, Vital, Surge, and Omnisphere. The combination of hardware, software, Mac and Pc computers with analog and digital makes the complex musical character that the Synical always strives to sculpt.

There’s been some recent controversy regarding artists using backing tracks while doing live shows.  What place does it have for you and when do you feel that artists go over the line of justifiable use?

Another great question. Let’s be honest, the history of electronic music has always used drum machines, sequencers, or tape machines to achieve the vision of the artists. Synical keeps that tradition alive as well by using large scale 10K projectors, MIDI tempo synced light shows, and theatrical elements assisted by computers. However, there is a 6 piece band playing onstage live and that shouldn’t be controversial. It just depends on what type of experience you prefer to pay and see.

We heard in an interview you did that you started doing “jingles” for commercials at a very young age.  How did that come about?

You have really done your research! As teenagers, Brian, David, and Noel befriended a local studio owner and Brian was eager to use his synthesizers on any kind of recording he could contribute. Local businesses had radio spots and paid the studio to make custom ads. So the very first studio experience that Brian had was quickly making these jingles.

Prior to Synical, what was your experience in the music industry like?  You’ve worked with a number of artists in various capacities, right?

After the jingle making, Brian became a member playing keyboards in an electronic funk act that got signed to Motown records in 1988. Of course, Synical was born out of that opportunity to follow a more unique musical journey in darkwave music. Brian and Eric have also helped many other acts. Brian has produced albums for acts like L7, The Newlydeads, and PBF and Eric has worked with members of Slipknot and Ministry.

The new album, ‘This Will All Happen Again’ was mixed by John Fryer who worked with Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode.  How did you get hooked up with him?

Brian met John Fryer in the 90’s in Los Angeles and has remained friends since. John was gracious and agreed to mix the album at his studio in LA. The incredible detail, additional production he provided, and his long history of amazing albums really took the Synical album to a new level. The band thinks it is the best sounding album so far. We hope you agree!

During the eight years you worked on the new album, how did the skeletons of the songs change?  Did they change in terms of structure or because of any other contributors?

For this album, most of the songs resulted from 3 or 4 band members writing together in the same place and same time. Later on, we expanded and rearranged some parts but most of the time was spent waiting for a member to be off tour and/or in the same city. The album wasn’t emailed back and forth and I think it has an old school appeal in that sense. Not a lot of Frankenstein operations on this effort.

Any goes for the forthcoming months?

Synical is so happy to be signed to Cleopatra Records – the premier gothic and darkwave music label. Synical is getting ready to take the live show on the road and we are making plans to do a US/Canada tour this summer and fall. Hoping to see you all real soon!

For More Synical Information:


and to buy the album…



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