Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Gen.: We started on September 3rd, 1975. The anniversary of the second World War and the beginning or our war. At the beginning we were less commercial and much more aggressive with the audience, we used to abuse them and throw blood over them and cut each other's arms and suck the blood out and spit it at people. There was a lot more noise, just pure noise and feedback. Very very high frequencies that gave people headaches and lights in their eyes, very bright lights in the audiences' eyes so they couldn't see. And sometimes we'd just walk away and sit down for a while and just leave everything feeding back, and then come back when we felt like it. Then, later on, we became nicer because the public expected us to be aggressive, so we deliberately disappointed them. That's why at the YMCA we all wore white, and we had ultraviolet lights so that we glowed white like angels: nice angels of light. Because everyone thinks we always wear black or military outfits so we all wore nice white T-shirts and trousers and baseball sneakers. And we all looked very nice and clean. And we glowed all white from these special lights. We smiled a lot at everybody and a lot of people were very disappointed.
Here you've written: Don't eat. Why?
To save time... I'd like to be able to never eat and never sleep.
How many hours do you sleep a night?
So do I. But I think that the nighttime is the most creative moment.
Yes, that's because all the stupid people are asleep and they don't blanket you with their negative energy. You see, round about eight or nine o'clock you start to feel deadened because they're all getting up and rushing around generating all this useless energy. All the stupid people going to work and then in the evening about five or six o'clock, they all come home and start to watch the television, then it gets a bit better, you feel more (the creative people) start to feel better. And as they are all going to sleep around eleven o'clock, you start to get ideas. Midnight till four they're all fast asleep and you get really good ideas. I think it's just the blanket of their negative energy eating up all the positive energy in the daytime. That's why the nighttime's the best time to work. So it's alright to sleep in late, you know, go to bed late and stay asleep in the morning because you can't do anything anyway, because all the stupid people are rushing about and getting in the way.
You seem to manage to stimulate a lot of creativity in other people.
Even Mark Perry when he met us... before he made 'Action Time Vision' and 'The Image has Cracked'. After meeting us he made 'Vibing up the Senile Man'. If it was good or not, I don't know... We gave this disc to 'Sordide Sentimentale' as a present. We sent them the tape and said they could do what they like with it. We just gave a soundtrack to a movie to some young students in
But didn't you ever have it published?
No, it's there's. They can do whatever they like with it. They seemed nice and it was good fun doing it. They sent us a script of the film so we had an idea of what it was like.
How many cassettes are you publishing?
Twenty-four, every single live gig which altogether are twenty-four hours.
Do you mean you've only done 24 hours' live performances?
Yes, well, you can have too much of a good thing.
I thought you'd done more concerts.
No, we don't like to play live very often, it's boring. We don't like playing live at all, it's a real strain.
I suppose people expect a lot from you.
Yes, they expect a lot from us, they really do; they expect it to be a special evening, and so we have to try and make it special. Not for them, but for us. So we have to try to do not what they want, but still make it special, and it takes a long time. Plus the fact that we usually play new material; we change everything every time.
So you prefer to record your material in the studio because you feel free to do as you please.
I don't know. Most of our things we write when we play live. They're all improvised. That's how we get most of the ideas. It's the only reason we still play live at all. It's the only way we can write songs. Like on the new LP there's a song called 'Persuasion', and at the Centro Iberico, just as we were going to start I said to Sleazy, which is Peter: what do you want me to sing about today? And he said: persuasion. So I said: O.K. and after about ten minutes I decided I had a good backing to 'Persuasion' and I started to write the lyrics. None of the others knew what the song was because we'd never done it before. And I didn't say: we're now doing 'Persuasion'; I just started singing about persuasion and they figured out what to play. That's how most of the songs get written.
But to begin with you made a very commercial single called 'United'.
That was just to prove we could do it. We wanted to do a nice song for a change. We'd done loads of nasty songs, so we thought we'd do a love song. But it's not typical, you see. Yes, but it's got quotes from Charles Manson and Alistair Crawly in the lyrics. So even though it seems like a very nice song, it's actually based on two people who were unacceptable for what they said. So, I still like the idea that it's the nicest song, and yet actually it's just as bad as the rest. And it's all about incest, as well, ha, ha, ha!
So you don't like music then?
No. I like to listen to some music if it has an effect on me. It either makes me dance, or it makes me feel emotional, that's all. It's only an emotional drug. I like Velvet Underground.
Why, because Andy Warhol was behind them?
That was the first reasons why I listened to it. When it first came out I read about that, but I liked it anyway. I think that they're the best electric group that's ever been; the most diverse and the most varied in the things they did. They can do cabaret music and abstract electronic music, conceptual music, love songs, hymns, straight rock, boogie, blues, pretty things. Incredible, and they did it all in about three years. I don't know any other groups that have done that many things and have done them well.
Yes, I like them a lot too. Do you like Brian Eno?
No, he's a wimp. He wants to be an art college teacher and be respected for writing learned books... boring.
Devo told me that when Eno produced them, he wanted to do a Devo record but he tried to use them to make a product of his own liking and he wanted to teach them everything.
Yes, he's boring. It's a shame because he has some good ideas. In his interviews, every now and then, he says something very intelligent and exciting, but he never does them. He can't actually produce them. He can think about them and that's why he tries to make other groups do things for him. And that's just a bad situation both for the group and himself. He rang us up. He was the first person to ring us up and try and get us to make a record, but we told him to fuck off. At first we said O.K. we'll play you one of our tapes. Then we were very paranoid that he'd try and copy it, so we said we'd only play it to him with us there. And he kept saying, O.K., next week, etc. Then he'd ring up and say he couldn't make it, so in the end I just said: look, we're not interested in messing about, we didn't want you to get in touch anyway, so just fuck off. We don't need you.
You played with Mark Perry in Vibing up the Senile
Sometimes I like him a lot and sometimes he irritates me, like a lot of people. I think he's basically a nice bloke but sometimes he can be really awful. And he has phases for a month or two, and I suppose because he's depressed he takes it out on other peoples. Then, when he's feeling in a good mood he can be great. But overall I like him. He's one of those people that when he's in a mood that you don't like you just don't bother to see him and then you don't get upset of angry. I think he's important because he has done so much and he's so young and he more or less created the whole fanzine scene himself, which is world-wide now. And he has had the courage to do records that people don't like. I think he's got a lot of courage. And he is important because he's not from an intellectual background and he's proved that an ordinary kid can do these things. I would always consider him a friend.
Talk to me about Industrial Records. Was it created to produce your records?
Originally it was mainly for this reason, but now it means that some of our friends can make records. Since 'D.O.A.' the money we've made out of that has been used to pay for the production of records made by other people, like the single by Monte Cazazza. It means that we can have a record collection of what we like.
Then you make records, you also collages for an American magazine...
Cosey is in the middle of getting an exhibition together to be shown in
How long did it take you to write that?
Two years. But we did that at the same time we were doing T.G., and film and everything. All the people that were alive I wrote to personally asking them for the information - some of them several times.
How much did you spend on phone calls?
I didn't. I did it all by letter. I can't afford to pay telephone bills. But the expenses were paid for by the company that published the book. I had people to help go to libraries and do some research in old books and Cosey helped to type it out.
You said that TG are a long story.
Oh yes, I've written an explanation down on a bit of paper I've got down stairs if you want. I'll get it and read it to you. It'll save time explaining.
THROBBING GRISTLE: Thee involuntary muscular spasms of death perhaps, sound throbbing, body, blood, air, cunt throbbing, throbbing air conveying sound, affecting thee metabolism. Throbbing, pulsing, rhythmic direct. Throbbing of pain, bruising, injury of existence, throbbing with excitemento too. Gristle... hard, tough, neither skin nor muscle, a paradox, on thee boundary. Gristle, rejected by everyday consumers when they buy meat at butchers: meat, sign of human animalism, death to feed life, of our assumption to have right to genocide of other species that we might live. Gristle, cock, sexuality, fuck. Gristle, reject matter, unwanted, separated from good. Throbbing gristle, thee moment of orgasm, penetration of male into another body, joining of two people in most vulnerable moment, moment of immortality, sperm and thee moment of life injected. Possibility of birth, or masturbation and wastage. Throbbing gristle; crude colloquialism, working class street culture, ordinariness made unusual, something common place sex/fuck made oblique, subtle seen another way. Regional slang, parochial joke, rough humour, honesty of vision. Uncouth. TG. TG.
I've typed it out like it would be in a dictionary.
Maybe you will be in the dictionary one day under the letter 'T' like Warhol is under the 'W'.
Maybe. I like Andy Warhol, he's my kind of man... I've only got that copy, but I'll give it to you.
Do you like Tesco? You're always talking about it.
No, I don't, but maybe I do. It's ironic. I like horrible things. And I'd rather have Tesco than Rough Trade.
Do you hate Rough Trade?
No, but I prefer Tesco. We've got one round the corner. That's where we go every day. It's part of our real world, it's not this fantasy world of art and music and all that shit. It's what it's really about, Tesco, launderettes and television. I like television. I watch the television every night until it goes off normally. I usually watch whatever's the worst program. If there's a good film or cricket, I always watch cricket. I like to watch whatever's worse for me, so I watch '
Is that why you, at the end of your concerts you often play Abba tapes?
Because it's good music.
Is it because you want to create a complete contrast with your music?
Discipline, you've got to discipline people not to expect anything, specially from you, so you've always got to remind them that they've got to make their own decisions and they've got to make judgements, and that's why we do it. To discipline people into thinking that our world is not the only world, but that there are other ones and that they conflict, and they're somewhere between the two maybe, and they've got to decide where they are. It's not meant to be easy for them.
It is said that you are doing something intellectual.
No, it's not intellectual. It's primitive. It's very primitive technically we're not intellectuals, we're primitive. We're not interested in all that. We're ex-intellectuals. I resent these people who write about T.G. and they say that we're a synthesizer group. That's not true. We only have one synthesizer, we have four guitars. Cosey has two and I have two now. We play guitar all the time. That's the thing we always use. It's just that they can't tell we've mangled them so much it sounds like a synthesizer or something else. And the only thing they can do if something sounds strange, is call it a synthesizer. And they also say that we're intellectual and we're not. We do songs like 'I'm fucking fed up' and 'What a boring day'. I mean, there's nothing intellectual about that. The guy in the pub and in Tescos can understand straight away. We've never done an intellectual song. The nearest would be 'United' but it's not intellectual, it's just personal. Personal in the sense of poetry, but it's not intellectual. It's just that people have little phrases that mean more to them than to somebody else. But that's true of anyone. A mystery is a very simple thing anyway. I like mystery and I think most people do. That's why they watch documentaries about other people, and other people's lives. And our songs are either very simple or about our lives. And that's why just ordinary people can appreciate them. That's why the people that dislike us the most are students. Now if we were intellectual students would like us. They hate us. And they say we're uncouth and we can't play and we're not technical and that we're primitive. And we are. And that we're a noise and we are sometimes. Oh, I want that quote in, that we make noise respectable. I like that one.
Supposing Top of the Pops gave you a three minute appearance to do?
Oh, we'd do a film. We'd try and put some secret clues into the film that they wouldn't understand, but we would and so would a few other people.
Would it be a silent film or would there be some music?
Oh no, with music. You're got to respect popular archetypes and then manipulate them. Like with 'Unite', we wanted to do a single, and a single, quite rightly, is good if it can be played lots of times, otherwise it's a waste of money. It's only fair that people should want to keep playing a single because it's so short. And for the effort of playing it more than once, you've got to make them want to do that. But within that you can still put in other information which isn't typical. So that's what we did, to prove if we wanted to we could make it like that. But the other side is completely against that. The other side people usually don't like, because it's too noisy. So the other side was just to say: don't think that's the only thing we're going to do. We also make terrible noises. So both sides contradict each other. And then the French single for Sordide Sentimentale is very uncommercial. It's like an antisingle and we did that because we didn't want people to think we'd only do singles like 'United'. So that was done just to destroy 'United', so that the next record we did could be anything we liked. That's the one thing we plan very carefully: how to destroy whatever we did before. Because if you don't do that, you are trying to present possible answers to people, and that's making them lazy again, and we're trying to stop them being lazy. We trying to stimulate their brains again, trying to stop them being so stupid.
I think that after you've made a record you never listen to it.
No, we never listen to our records. We listen to the cassettes before it's in the shops, and then when it's released none of us listen to it. It's just not interesting any more. That's why cassettes are more exciting because you can do them much quicker, it's more instant. You can have an idea today and release the cassette tomorrow. And it can last as long as it's interesting and then you can do something else.
Is there a big time lapse between the idea and the record?
Yes. We finished the record last night ('20 Jazz Funk Greats') and it'll be three months before the shops have it. For us that's really boring. It's like an old joke... it is an old joke!
The tea was good but normal. I expected something special.
You know about the Jim Jones thing in
What are you doing with that cassette?
I'm winding it to the beginning of side two so that you can hear another piece of music. I know your tape recorder's on.
It's nice. Sounds like disco music.
I like disco music. It's my favorite record at the moment (takes out a picture-disc of Noel). It's got a great title. People always used to say they couldn't dance to anything we did, so now they can dance. But the two nice tracks are the first track on each side, so people and the housewives will think: Oh, they look nice, they look very nice people, why can't you dress nicely like that. And they'll say: this is nice music. But it gets a bit more peculiar every now and then somewhere along the way, it's still really TG.
Then it wasn't a coincidence that you chose the first track on both sides of the record, because they are what people listen to before they decide to buy a record.
Yes, that's why we did it. Like with 'United', when they see that the album's got the single on it, then they buy it. But we speeded it up to 17 seconds and all you can hear is bigzghcszhg... Then everybody says: Oh, typical rock group, putting their single on an LP. And the record has sold out and then when they play it they never hear it. And then they say: I thought it said 'United' was on it. We always try to think in advance how people relate to a record and play some kind of a game with that, like making the gap between two tracks much longer; and suddenly the listener thinks the record's finished and actually gets up to check and the next track begins just as they're getting up.
So you make your records with the listener in mind.
Oh yes, but not because we want them to like the record, but ways to play games with them, tease them, otherwise it gets boring for us. It's only a hobby, we don't have to do it because we're not trying to achieve anything, so we can do what we like. We're not trying to sell lots of records or make lots of money, or be considered successful, so we're free to do anything, which is great. and it doesn't matter if everybody hates it as long as we like it.
But where do you get money to live on?
What me? I'm on the dole. I have been for the past eight years.
And you manage to live on £12 a week?
Yes, £12 a week plus the rent. Well they sent me to psychologists and psychiatrists in the end and they said I was unemployable. I wasn't mad but I wasn't suitable for work because I would get bored and cause trouble. And I said, yes, you're quite right. So they just give me the money and leave me alone. The girl at the dole buys all of our records and wears one of our badges. ...took me out to dinner with her mum and dad and she's started doing collages now, as well. You know what you said about getting people to do things they've never done. She'd never done collages, and then I talked to her about it, and she gave me this book for Christmas. It's of all the David Bowie songs written by hand and a collage to go with each one. She's a Civil Servant. She must be 21. She said she was bored and asked me what she could do, so I told her to do collages. She likes her little world but now she's made something special from it. So, even when you go to the dole you can do something to help someone to do something.
Is Genesis-P-Orrige your real name?
Now it is. I changed it legally in 1970. It was my nick name when I was very young, but I don't know why.
What was your name originally?
Neal Andrew Megson, but everyone at school called me Genesis.
There's also a group called Genesis.
It was before they even formed, because when they made their first record my friends bought me it just because it had my name on it. They thought it was funny they were called Genesis, because I was Genesis.
What do you think about the Genesis?
Terrible! They're worse now than they were then, and that was bad.
Tell me about Gary Gilmore. There's also that song about him by the Adverts.
They wrote that song after buying a T-shirt with his face on it. What happened was that we did a post card with Gary Gilmore's face on it the day he was killed, and we mailed them out to everybody and underneath was printed The Gary Gilmore Memorial Society. It was stamped with the time he was killed, like a first-day cover for stamps. And then Boy Boutique made it into a big T-shirt. Then the Adverts saw the T-shirt and that gave them the idea for the song.
Do you like it?
No, it's horrible, and so are the words. Our T- shirt was nice, but the song is an insult to Gary Gilmore because he was really a great bloke. He deserved a better song than that. We didn't do one about him because we didn't think we could do one good enough. Here you are, this is the post card we did. We got banned from all of the punk venues because of this postcard because they said it was outrageous and shocking. We were banished from the
Getting back to the Sex Pistols, what really happened during that famous interview with Bill Grundy?
I don't know, I was in
Do you like some of the things that the Sex Pistols did?
At the beginning it was alright.
To shock the people?
Well, I don't like shocking people very much, but it was O.K. for
Mark also said the same thing, because it was a short thing but very strong and intense.
And it will always be remembered that way.
Now they would be really boring.
Oh yes, look what those other two are still doing, it's rubbish: heavy metal.
Mark also said that it was a good thing Jimi Hendrix died, to preserve the myth. Do you like Hendrix... oh, no, that's right, you don't like music.
No, Jimi Hendrix was alright. I like Jim Morrison too, he was great. I like that L.P. An American Prayer. It's really good. I didn't think it would be because it sounded like a terrible idea. When I read that they were putting music to it, I thought: God, that's gonna be bad! And when I heard it, it was like the record you'd always wished he'd made. And I thought, those people must really love him to be able to do an L.P. as good as that. I think it's a masterpiece, that L.P. The way they've edited it together and spent so much time on it, is incredible.
What do you think about the Nazi concentrations camps?
I went to
But what do you think about them?
I think it's just a historical trait in stupid people. If people get power they like to hurt each other. The more power they have the more people they hurt, and most Governments, if they could, would do it again. Because it's simpler than arguing with people. They don't want education, because education is a threat. The only alternative is to kill people who disagree or won't listen. That's why it happens, and it still happens now. Like in
What do you think about heroin that also kills so many people?
To me all people that take drugs are stupid. It's another control technique. Governments make it available to keep people quiet, the same way that they use entertainment and television. They're all the same. Rock music is an oppressor. Drugs are an oppressor. Drink is an oppressor. Tobacco is an oppressor. Police is an oppressor. All politicians are oppressor. Anyone who has any dogma is an oppressor. Any religion is an oppressor. They are all the enemy and they are all the same. And I can't understand why young people fall for so many of them. They believe rock music and drugs are different, but they're not... Rock music is the same thing television is for their mother and father, and all kinds of drugs are like alcohol for their mother and father; they're just being like their mother and father; they're letting people control them. And they're being trained to do what they're expected to do. No Government cares if people destroy themselves with drugs: it gets the rebels out of the way. They don't even have to do anything; they just let people kill themselves. It's a perfect solution. That's why none of us take drugs, none of us smoke, none of us drink. And that's why we don't like rock and roll. That's why when we started the group we said that we'd started our war, and we did. In fact, the initial slogan was: nothing short of a total war. We still use it now. We've got stickers I can show you downstairs. We used to put them in the tube and people used to always think it was whoever they didn't like that must have put the stickers there. It was like a provocation to make people fight with each other because they assumed someone was getting at them.
Now there are a lot of stickers about a group called Crass.
I'm not really interested. It's better than other things. They have a commune. They make punk records or electronic records or whatever's fashionable at the time, and they use anarchy signs, because politics means credibility in the music business. It's a good sales technique to say you're into politics, but anyone into politics is my enemy.
Yes, but anarchy is against politics.
No it's not. It's a dogma. A real anarchist never mentions it. The only form of true anarchy is individualism, and everybody into politics is against individualism, because all politicians are threatened by individuals. It's the only thing that threatens everybody; individuality, and that's why the fear of individuality is almost genetic. All religions hate it, all politicians hate it, socialists hate it, Marxists hate it, Maoists hate it, fascists hate it. Why? Because it's the one thing they can't control. It's the one thing that's real. People who just do what they want and think for themselves. It's the only thing that frightens them. They can kill you and they can torture you, but they can't change you because you're an individual. They can make you say something that you don't want to, but they don't change your brain. That's why it scares them. It's like seeing God when they see an individualist: and they feel corrupt, so they're frightened and they attack it. We're here to get more individuals out there and frighten them even more, basically. To tell people not to be frightened to be an individual. Because even when it gets difficult you feel liberated and you know why it's happening. If you're attacked you know why. People get attacked anyway, so you might as well be attacked for being you. And it frightens people, it really does. I mean, I'm little, but when we perform, I can control seven or eight hundred people, and any one of them could just hit me and knock me out. But they listen, because they can tell, even if they don't like it that it's the way I am, and unconsciously they can respect somebody even if they don't like them.
But if you're dangerous don't you think they'll try to control you?
Oh, but they already have. I've been prosecuted for sending postcards. The police have searched the house to try and find something. We've had our studio broken into by the police. My mail is still opened every week. When I have to post letters I have to go to another part of
Have you still got these photos?
Yes, Sleazy's got them at his place. We're giving theme to Slash, that American fanzine. Because nobody else will print them in