Doctor Mix And The Remix – Out of the Question (1979)
A lot of the music we’ve picked out to discuss comes from a similar background in terms of time period, style and sound, but I think this one is pretty obscure. How did you find it?
Through a friend of mine. There’s a label in New York called Acute Records maybe eight years ago or so. A few of my friends in California are really obsessed with The Jesus and Mary Chain, and one of the members of the band mentioned once that this was one of their favourite records of all time. The thing I like about it is the extremity of the music. It’s super high-pitched, with distortion and tinny drum machines but then it’s covers of, like, Stooges songs.
This track in particular has this really insane, rhythmic track that’s super metronomic but super heavy at the same time. It’s very aggressive, but not because of the levels of distortion. The first time I heard it I thought I was listening to [The Jesus and Mary Chain’s] Psycho Candy. The more I looked into it, the more I realized how much of an influence it had on them.
It’s funny. The Jesus and Mary Chain were always compared to The Velvet Underground, but apparently there’s much more to it than that.
Sure. There’s not a lot of stuff like this. The guy was in one of the first French punk bands. And, with this, they kind of combined the attitude of the Velvets with these misinterpretations from a different country. I love that because, for me, techno in California was always a misinterpretation of what was happening in Berlin and Detroit and Chicago just because we didn’t really have a big scene. We had a club scene, but not a techno scene. I just really love the weird interpretations of The Stooges and stuff like that.
Are you interested in bands that deconstruct rock tradition in some way?
At the end of the day it’s all about attitude. Willing to push things a lot and not really care. It was the same when I first heard Cabaret Voltaire’s “Messages Received.” I just didn’t know what to say, I was blown away. I thought, “It doesn’t get any more honest than that.” I think that’s the whole thing. There’s an honesty in the music that you can’t remove. There’s a visceral element to it. That’s how myself, Karl [O’Connor], Dave [Sumner] and even Pete [Sutton] interpret music in some way I think.
Cabaret Voltaire – Messages Received (1980)
There was a very heavy art slant on what Cabaret Voltaire did. I think it’s very, very art driven. They’d also have the influence of The Velvet Underground and all that ’60s psych rock, but they’d do all these awesome records and what came through the most was the attitude. “This is what I wanna do, this is how I’m gonna do it.” And they just went for it.
Is that a quality you try to pursue? Not thinking about what you can or can’t do?
Yeah, I talk to Karl every other day on the telephone, we’re in very heavy contact on a weekly basis, same thing with Dave. But it’s funny because when I make music it’s purely to see what he thinks, just for us to discuss… “Oh, I really like this. What do you think?” It’s more a conversation from an art base. I try to work in a very automatic response way. I work in art direction, so I work quite a bit on TV commercials and magazines and stuff like that. So when I work on music it’s usually very late at night and I have to work in headphones, so it’s usually like a weird mantra type state, kinda conscious and unconscious, while I’m working.
It’s nice because there’s a sense that I’m not really thinking about anything particularly. I’m able to work on music in that mindframe where I’m doing it purely just because I want to see what I can come up with. In a more artistic sense, sometimes I will make a visual and we will work to the visual. Like with the artwork for the album. That was made first. Then we made a record that matched that.
For labels like Factory, design labels were incredibly important. They were, in many cases, as important as the music.
When you get that double impact of visual and audio, you’re like, “Wow, this is really intense.” Cabaret Voltaire for me has always done that. All the artwork on their covers. The early ones especially had that handmade element, which I’m sure was some of the guys in the band literally cutting things out by hand and assembling collages. Read the rest of this entry »