Interview with Douglas P. (Death In June), Boyd Rice (NON), John Murphy (DIJ/NON) and David Tonkin (Isomer) April 2003 on The Vanishing Point radio program. The Vanishing Point – 3D Radio, 11pm Tuesday to 1am Wednesday, Adelaide, Australia
Alan Bindig (DJ) John Murphy Douglas P. Boyd Rice David Tonkin
Song: Death In June – Until The Living Flesh Is Burned
Alan Bindig: Hello and welcome to The Vanishing Point on 3D Radio 93.7FM, you just heard “Til The Living Flesh Is Burned” from Death In June from the Discriminate compilation. Tonight in the studio I’ve got Douglas P., Boyd Rice, John Murphy and David Tonkin all here, and they’re going to be playing the gig tomorrow night, which I’ve been promoting, and not without good reason… it’s at the Enigma Bar and tickets are $20… one thing I wanted to ask about that, was it’s still only at the door isn’t it? There isn’t any other way to get hold of….
Douglas P.: Yes, as far as I know. I couldn’t get any further information on that myself a couple of weeks or so ago, and it seems to be on the night and that’s it, and the doors open at 8 o’clock and they all shut at midnight, and it’s a very strict running order, so I suggest people do get there at 8 o’clock, or they might miss some things otherwise!
AB: Yeah, pretty much everyone I know that’s going is making a point of being there at 8 o’clock on the dot, so…yes, there’s been a lot of interest so hopefully, you’ll get in, and it won’t sell out before you get in. Anyway… I suppose we should talk about what else… while you’re down you’re doing some recordings as well?
DP: We’re all in Australia at the same time for once in a blue moon, and so Boyd, John Murphy and myself have been actually recording at Big Sound, in the Adelaide Hills, and will continue to while we’re in Australia, and probably take what we’re doing to New Zealand as well. We’d started a new album of Boyd’s in Denver last October/November, and it’s about two thirds complete, so we aim to finish that whilst we’re actually visiting the Soutern Hemisphere, and the reason why we’re playing Adelaide for the first time, and Sydney, we’ve just come from Sydney, and Boyd’s never played there before… preparation meets opportunity, and we’ve chosen to exploit it.
AB: Next up we’re playing some Boyd stuff, so Boyd, can you tell us about what this next track is, and…
[transcriber’s note: some inaudible chatter here due to microphone problems]
Boyd Rice: The thing’s pretty self-explainatory, as we were in the studio recording, and I had a line from Shakespeare that I though was really good and I thought it would sound especially good with Douglas in it as well, and….
[feedback obscured Boyd’s voice completely at this moment! Douglas jumps in…]
DP: Yeah, this was recorded back in England a few years ago.
AB: Here it is.
Song: NON – Millstones Song: Isomer – Gratuitous
(laughter as another song cuts in abruptly for a split second)
DP: Okay, we’re going straight into the music….
AB: No, I’m just… okay! Sorry, a few little technical issues there, courtesy of myself… that was Isomer with “Gratuitous” there, from the demo CD “Sedation”, well… demo tape actually. Before that was NON with “Millstones” from the God and Beast album. You’re listening to The Vanishing Point on 3D radio… now, Isomer, you’re support for this particular act – you haven’t done very many gigs, so how do you feel about this….
David Tonkin: I’m quite obviously the newcomer to the pack I think! [laughs]
DP: I was thinking more “sacrificial lamb”… [laughter all round] … He’ll be thrown to the slaughter first….
DT: That’s why you’re putting me on first, isn’t it? [laughs]
DT: I’ve only played a couple of live gigs. I’m trying to make it a little bit more interesting this time, by incorporating more of a live element, rather than just the computer, which is what I had done in the past. So it should be interesting, I’m looking forward to it.
AB: Well, apart from just being here to promote the gig, the purpose of this evening is to do something a little bit different on the radio show, so now I’m basically going to can it and let these four ask each other questions and just have a bit of a different sort of night on The Vanishing Point, I suppose! So I’m gonna hand it over to you guys.
DP: Okay, well this is Douglas P. from Death In June asking the first question. As David was so eloquent just then, and it’s the beginning of the evening, we’ll start with David Tonkin of Isomer, or eye-SEW-mer as I’ve been told it’s correctly pronounced! You recently got a distribution deal with Tesco Organisation in Germany, which is the same label that many of my recordings are now distributed by. When did you first embark on recording your music, and how did you manage to get the deal in the first place?
DT: A couple of years ago I started, I guess. I just needed to channel my energies into something, and I’d always been very passionate about music in general, so I just took it upon myself to buy an old secondhand sampler and a couple of pieces of software and just let fly, and pull whatever came out down onto tape with very mixed results, but it served its purpose at its time, and it allowed me to explore a lot which I hadn’t before…
DP: What motivated you to take it one step further and actually actively seek out proper distribution?
DT: I think because I’d self-released three tapes before Serpent Age, a couple had garnered some interest within Australia and overseas, and the material I did for Serpent Age was a lot different in that it was a differnet sound. Partly that was a result of the different equipment that I’d been using, and the software… I knew that it was of much better quality than a lot of the other stuff that I’d done previously, and I’d put a lot more effort into making it a complete package, rather than just throw whatever came out onto tape. I took a lot more care in putting together the artwork, I took it up to Big Sound Studios, where Dave Lokan mastered it for me, and I sent it off to four or five labels overseas that I respected and that I appreciated. I got an offer from Loki Foundation in Germany as well, and I think Malignant Records in the USA were interested in releasing it, but Tesco offered first, and they would have been my first choice anyway, just because I like the stuff that they release so much…
DP: You know, it was peculiar, because I’d just gotten back into the country a few days or a week or so before Christmas time, and I checked on the website for Tesco and I’d seen that you were suddenly a new, distributed “artiste”. [laughter from David] You’d sent me some demo material some months before and I thought “hang on a minute…he’s from here!” and that day at the PO Box number, your new CD Serpent Age was actually in the post waiting for me, so it all came together very very neatly, so that’s another reason why you happen to be the sacrifical lamb tomorrow night!
DT: I was in the right place at the wrong time! [laughs]
DP: That’s one way of putting it! So… another question, before we go back into some music, is for Boyd. I’ve always been curious and have got vague reports over the years, my mind’s going now as I get older, but I can’t clearly remember… but how and when did you first get into contact with Charles Manson?
BR: I got a bunch of recordings of his, that were supposed to be released, and then they weren’t released…
DP: This is via David Tibet, or via someone else at the time?
BR: Oh, I’d gotten them from somebody else. I was in contact with a lot of people collecting this sort of stuff, so I just sort of wrote to them and said “listen, I love your music, and I’m a musician and I know a lot of people in the music industry. If you want these to come out as a record, I could probably get them out.” They expressed interest, and we struck up a correspondence, and eventually he said “hey, you sound like a good guy, why don’t you come on over and get on my list and visit me?”. So I applied to get on his list, and after a couple months or something he sent me a letter that said “you’re approved, come on over” so I began traveling over across the bay to San Quentin.
DP: When was this, which year?
BR: This was probably 1987.
DP: No, it would have been earlier than that.
BR: Maybe ’86…
DP: Because I was living with David Tibet in London then, during ’86, and that’s when he was thinking about putting out these Fire tapes, that you were waiting to send him, and that was the first time I actually got in contact with you via… or knowledge of you via Tibet at that time, whereas getting closer and closer to the fold I was obviously already aware of you in many aspects.
BR: Well we were supposed to play with Nick Cave, I think before ’86.
DP: That would have been ’83 or ’84…
BR: I was thrown out of the country, so…. [laughs]
DP: So that was before the connection with Manson, so that had nothing to do with…
DT: Can I ask if you’re still in contact with him?
BR: No, not at all. We haven’t talked for maybe 15 years or something. It’s been a while. But people still… you know, always ask me about him, they think I’m a member of the Manson family, that kind of stuff…
John Murphy: You are, aren’t you? [laughter all round]
DP: While we’re talking about Manson, what’s the connection between you and Marilyn Manson?
BR: Well Marilyn Manson followed my music for a lot of years, and he somehow got my phone number and began calling me up when he was still living in Florida. He’d started his band, but they weren’t signed, they really had no prospects on the books, but he was a really interesting guy and really intelligent, and we always had good conversations and I always kind of thought “this guy’s gonna do something, y’know, he’s gonna go someplace”… and consequently it happened.
DP: Maybe it’s time for more music?
BR: [ignoring Douglas] Actually, he got in contact with me because…
DP: La la la, la la la…. keep going Boyd! [laughter all round]
BR: …because he was recording, and he wanted Anton LaVey to play theremin on his recording, and LaVey has absolutely no interest in heavy metal music or rock and roll, and I would say “no, there’s something different about this guy, he’s a good guy”.
DT: Cue up the Marilyn Manson then!
BR: Yes, I must be the only person in the world to be on a first name basis with both Marilyn Manson and Charlie Manson! It’s like Truman Capone knowing all the Manson family people, and then knowing all the people they’d killed! “What would you say about that”? I’d say you’re not a lucky person to know! [laughs]
Song: Death In June – Hollows Of Devotion
DT: You’re listening to The Vanishing Point on 3D Radio 93.7 FM… shut your hole, Alan! [laughter all round] Douglas had the idea that we ask each other questions, so I had a question for John, if you wouldn’t mind…
JM: Yeah, sure.
DT: I would be curious to hear your take on, not neccessarily the current state of play, but the development of Australian experimental music, and perhaps your dealings with it as well, because I know that you’ve been, or that you have dabbled in just about every project under the sun, not just here in Australia but elsewhere as well.
JM: Well yeah, I suppose so. I’ve had nearly a quarter a century of experience both here and overseas. The local feedback has been sometimes good but other times quite bad. It’s been very up and down for my own journey, and I can only really speak for myself because I know other people… A lot of people I started out with no longer are involved in music, I would say 90% of the people I started out with back in the late 70’s. We were all quite idealistic, but sort of stopped being involved over the years. In the early days here, you just didn’t get much local support at all if you were doing something that wasn’t instantly categorisable. It’s different now.
DP: Following on with that John, when I first visited Melbourne in the mid 1990s, which was probably our first live show with Boyd and yourself as a percussionist, your name and my association with it seemed to arouse a huge amount of curiosity. What did you do in Australia before leaving for England?
JM: Slept a lot! [laughter] I left on January the 1st, 1980 to go to England, in January 2nd I arrived in London, but I’d been involved since ’77 in the local… we’ll say the ‘alternative music industry’ in Melbourne, from mid ’77 onwards. I’d been involved in playing from drums in punk bands through to getting involved in early electronica and stuff with other local musicians and we did reasonably well, but we just thought the grass was greener elsewhere. We just felt that we could only get so far up and then we hit a brick wall.
DP: Is that the 10% that you allude to that still continue in music? You said that 90% of the people you had worked with had fallen by the wayside. These people like Nick Cave you worked with, and Roland S. Howard, didn’t you?
JM: Well I never actually worked with Nick Cave, but I knew him from ’77 onwards, and Roland as well, but basically people like that I’d known from the beginning they’d continued on, but there was a lot of people who just were probably equally as talented in their own way, but just got fed up with literally banging their heads against the wall. They felt that way and the just fell by the wayside, decided they wanted to go in other areas, but I kept on – I can’t say much more than that. For some reason I was just compelled to keep going, even if I was considered peculiar by a lot of the people back in Melbourne. I didn’t get a lot of appreciation, a lot of people actually were quite antagonistic as times, so at times it was difficult.
DT: I’d imagine that through your involvement in the music scene, you led into involvement in the film Dogs In Space as well?
JM: Well, yes, I got involved in that, because I sort of had known the director. Back in ’79 in the punk days, I appeared as an extra in his first ever film. Then I met him again in ’85 or ’86 and I heard he was doing this film about the formative years of the late 70’s/early 80’s in Melbourne, and I heard he roped in this other person I know to do the soundtrack and he was getting all the information wrong, as I remember quite well before I left to go overseas. So I sort of stuck my foot in the door and demanded to be involved with it, originally just as the musical advisor, but I eventually got to be assistant music director, and I wasn’t meaning to be an actor in it. He basically roped in everyone he could to act as extras, and I just played a few different roles, but he wanted me to play myself as a younger person which I found a bit difficult, and I tore the ligaments on my left knee the second day in the recording studio doing the soundtrack of the thing, so I ended up in the film playing a Hell’s Angel on crutches! [laughter all round] And I actually was on crutches.. it was an amusing experince!
DT: I watched it again recently, and I looked out for your name in the credits, and I guess it must have been you listed as “Leanne’s brother”, as well, and Leanne was Lucio’s girlfriend, that fat chick that turned up at the house…
JM: That was the Hell’s Angel character, he was meant to be from the country, with the dorky brother who sort of demands….
DT: Were you the guy with the beard, were you?
JM: I was the sort of biker type on the crutches, you know….
BR: There were a couple bikers on crutches? [laughter all round]
DT: “Bikie on crutches #2″…
JM: …and I just played in other bits, and some of the concert scenes and stuff, but I have reasonably okay memories of it. I don’t regret it or anything.
Song: NON – Between Venus and Mars
DP: So, Boyd, that was from God and Beast, which was released on the Mute label. Most people probably know Mute as the label of people like Depeche Mode and Moby and Nick Cave, etc…. how did you first get in contact with Daniel Miller, the head of Mute?
BR: I was in a Rough Tade shop in May of 1978 and I’d just sold them a bunch of copies of my first album, and they were playing me anything that was odd and electronic and experimental, playing me stuff that they thought would be “up my alley”, so they played The Human League, I didn’t like it, they played something else, I didn’t like it, they played Warm Leatherette and T.B.O.D. and I *loved* it. So out of all the stuff they played me, I bought [not sure what this group is] and T.B.O.D. and Warm Leatherette. So it’s literally a couple of minutes later, and Daniel Miller comes walking into the shop and the girl behind the desk says “Hey Daniel, this guy just brought your record and he makes weird music too!”. So we stared talking, we were talking about synthesisers and experimental music and Kraftwerk and all this stuff, and he said “You ought to come over to my place and record some stuff with me while you’re in town”. So I went over to his house, we recorded some stuff in his bedroom there over in…what’s that part of town, I’m forgetting it…Goulder’s Green [transcriber’s note: spelling probably wrong there], that’s what it is… So anyway, while I was in town, the Futurist chart in NME or whatever it was that Steve-O did, Warm Leatherette just kept going up it, and it was like no.1 in the Futurist chart for weeks and as I was leaving I called Daniel from Victoria Station and he says “You know my single’s doing really well, I’m thinking of starting a record company – how would you like me to re-release your album?” and I said “Yeah, that’d be great”, and that was the beginning of Mute Records.
DP: So yours was the first release on Mute?
BR: No, I was the first person signed to Mute, I was the first artist signed to Mute, but actually a whole lot of things came out before he finally re-released the Black Album.
DP: Daniel’s recently sold Mute, hasn’t he?
DP: Can you tell us more about that?
BR: Yeah, I heard contradictory figures. I heard he sold it for 43 million pounds, or 47 million pounds, and the thing is EMI….
DP: [laughs] So things have changed, then?
BR: Not really! One of the reasons why EMI was interested in Mute was because Daniel has a really good nose for talent, hiring people like me and so forth [laughs] … but, they wanted to keep Daniel on as an advisor, and have him continue to run the company in the same manner, and they promised that they would keep things in print in perpetuity, so that even after Daniel retired people would still be able to get stuff by me and Fad Gadget and whoever else.
Song: Death In June – Dissapear In Every Way
JM: I thought I’d ask Doug a question: what country or part of the world has generally given the most support to Death In June over the last 20 or so years?
DP: It’s difficult to pinpoint certain areas, because it seems that almost every country takes its turn in fanaticism, one minute it’s Portugal and Italy and next minute it’s Germany and America. So I think it’s fairly evenly spread out these days, because as you’ve said Death In June’s been existing for over 20 years, and there tends to be a well-distributed fanbase.
BR: I have a related thing to ask you anyway: over the years you’ve lived in Rome, and London… a number of places around the world, and I was just wondering which of those holds the most resonance for you, or is it like “everything to its own time”?
DP: In many ways it’s like that. Certain aspects of it certainly. London was the most negative and life-sucking city I’ve ever experienced, and still is – I’m dreading going back in a few weeks time. I spiritually died there, and never felt comfortable there, even as a child before any of this was happening. I never felt comfortable existing in South London or any part of that area. I started traveling around Europe as a 15-year old and have been on the go since, so that’s over 30 years later, and I can’t remember the last time I was more than six months anywhere in one place. When I spent some years in Rome on and off in the early 90’s that was quite inspirational and saved me, but that followed on shortly after my first visit to Australia, and that was a ressurection for me. I thought I’d recorded my last album in 1988, TheWall Of Sacrifice, and I then decided to come here for three months to see what it was like. I’d always known Australians in England, from day one I’ve had so many Australians in my life and got on really well with them, they made a big impression on my life in many ways, so I thought “well let’s go and see what the country’s like where they come from”, albeit most of the Australians I knew were back in London. I fell in love with the place, and it reinspired me… as I said when I was in Sydney a few days ago there were parts there when I was walking around in a thunderstorm that were the beginnings of But What Ends When The Symbols Shatter. I disctinctly remember hearing the thunder crash between the buildings down by Circular Quay and watching the lightning strikes and having some stuff come into my head. So that saved me… people like David Tibet for instance were describing me at that time before I’d left and shortly after I’d returned as a “ghost”, that I was really beginning to become consumed completely in the UK. Australia began the ressurection, Rome really helped with that a lot, I wrote a lot of material for But What Ends When The Symbols Shatter there as well, so every place does have it’s different feel, and certainly Adelaide has been phenomenal. The amount of material I’ve written here, in a friend’s gardens in the Adelaide Hills, or something like that… it’s what happened, and long may it continue to!
BR: To follow up, something I wanted to ask you about anyway, was… growing up in London or around London in the “swinging sixties”, you were saying even you felt not part of it as a child, but… in the 60’s, everything was coming out of London, out of England, the eyes of the world were there, and I was just wondering what it must’ve been like to grow up at the epicentre of this thing that was happening and creating ripples all around the world.
DP: I’m certainly aware of that, but you’ve got to remember my age at the time prohibited me from really taking part in that, and I came from a kind of “white working-class ghetto” for want of a better word, so my real links with that was two doors down, was the guy who looked like Bob Dylan, who was a junkie, and was always getting arrested by the police! [laughs from Boyd] And my brother getting beaten up for wearing winkle pickers and leather jackets and stuff like that by whoever the opposing gang was on the estate… but I mean there were some people who came from that state like Status Quo, that did make an impression, but the first thing you did was *leave*! [laughter all round] If you got any recognition, you got out, basically. I used to walk to school with my sister past the drummer’s house of Status Quo and he’d be practicing at 8:30 in the morning. Their first hit, “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, which is probably their best song, used to be played all the time in the local shops, because their parents worked around the greengrocer’s and stuff like that.. So that was the closest, but I wasconsuming any sort of pop paper that was out, and of course it seemed ot be on the radio all the time. I had an older brother and sister, but you could only listen to it illicitly, it was on radio Luxembourg, so you listened to it under the blankets in the morning so your parents didn’t hear and they gave up on that in the end, they didn’t really care, but it was a dream. It was something that was really exotic and out of reach because I was like 8 years old. It was always on the perhiphery: by the time I was old enough to really enjoy it, that was over, and the glam thing had begun with David Bowie. The first record I ever brought was T-Rex, Get It On, but the first record that was ever bought for me was a Joe Meek record, the Tornados/Telstar. I must’ve been about 6 or 7 at the time, but my Dad bought that. It wasn’t like I was a 6 or 7 year old, hanging out at the clubs! [laughter all round]
BR: Well, I mean I grew up in Southern California, and I was your same age, but I remember my cousin had a woody [transcriber’s note – I’m not sure what a ‘woody’ is, but that’s what he sounds like he’s saying!], he hung out with surfers, I remember going in the woody down to the beach and the radio’s on, and it’s [sings] “let’s go surfin’ now, everybody…” and I’m thinking “gosh, I’m really living this thing”. Everyone in Phoenix, Arizona where they don’t even have a beach are singing about beaches, and I’m actually in a woody and there are surfboards on top and there’s beach bunnies in the back, and I thought “this is groovy, this is like, you know….”
DP: All of that was really good, but … my inner feeling about not being a part of England, I can’t really put my finger on it, and still don’t… it’s a country that gives me the spooks in many ways. There are elements of that, like when the mist is hanging over a particular field, when it’s a frosty winter morning, when the sun’s just coming up, that kind of bit… but elements and other aspects of it I just think, I’m like an alien, and I don’t know what this planet is, but whatever it is, I don’t like it, and I want to get out as quickly as possible!
Song: Boyd Rice and Friends – Disney Land Can Wait Song: Isomer – The Sun Shall Reign
DP: So David, how did you come to hear about this particular type of music, industrial, noise, ambient, whatever you like to call it? I’d always found it fascinating that people in such ostensibly far-flung regions of the world, like Australia, New Zealand or other places like South America where I get correspondence from, how people literally stuble over this type of genre.
DT: Initially it was trought a couple of releases from Cold Meat Industry in Sweden and Dorobo based in Melbourne and run by Darren Verhargen from Shunjuku Thief, and that was for me an introduction to what was happening in Australia, but also the interest that was in Australia. I got the CMI releases from Verandah Music, on Rundle Street, because George used to stock a lot more of that stuff than he does now, and prior to that I was into generally more commercial dark music like Nick Cave and to some extent some of the “gothy” stuff like Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy, that sort of thing, and The Cramps – anything that had a sort of tainted edge to it, I guess. There was a Deutsch Nepal CD, and also a sampler from Cold Meat Industry, and that sort of opened up this world for me. I was just really interested in the sounds that were coming out, and I wanted to explore more, and started to delve into the CMI catalogue and subscribe to a couple of things on the internet, emails on discussion lists and what-not. Found one of your CDs, I think Take Care and Control was the first one that I had of yours, so I came in quite late, and I found that in Verandah as well, and was happy to hear or to see that it was produced in Adelaide as well, and rabidly dug up the rest of your stuff after that as well.
DP: Going to the track we just heard from your new CD Serpent Age, what’s the story behind the vocals that you’re using there, the samples? You had a very interesting conversation with Boyd between the two song that have just been played, so maybe you could reiterate that for our listeners!
DT: I think Boyd put it better than I did! [laughs] What was the guy’s name, Bud…
BR: Bud Dwyer.
DT: Bud Dwyer… it was I think a live news broadcast in America, I guess in the ’60s perhaps?
BR: No, that was the ’90s…. no, late ’80s.
DT: The footage that I saw was black and white, I just assumed that it was a little bit earlier than that.
BR: Maybe you’ve seen it in so many generations it appears to be black and white. There was a lot of bright red stuff in the one I saw, but he had evidently been framed by the government, and accused of some crime of which he swore he was innocent of doing, so he got all the world’s press together for this huge conference, and he said “It’s no use fighting this – I’m telling the truth and someday everybody will know” and he had an envelope and he got out this huge gun and just stuck it in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
DT: You’ve gotta feel sorry for the guy because it looked like he had this big speech planned, he started to say “When I…” or something and everyone just started to go “no no no”, you know, “don’t do it”, and then he just decided “oh well”, that he hasn’t got any time and someone’s gonna rush him or something so he just shot himself in the head before he got a chance to actually speak his piece! [laughs]
BR: I think as you’re watching his face saying this, he’s taking the gun out of the envelope, so people can see what is coming, they’re all going “no, no dont!”.
Song: Death In June – Giddy Giddy Carousel
DP: So going back to John Murphy again, when you went to the UK, what were your initial expectations, and also did the reality live up to them?
JM: Well, when I went there in the beginning of 1980, I thought we were literally coming to the land of milk and honey, basically… I had this naive viewpoint that it was the place to be because ten years before it was like the ’60s thing, it was ten years afterwards, it was the punk era, or the end of the punk era, the beginning of the post-punk thing, and I thought it would be great. It would be like a dream come true, because everyone who I grew up with here, and I gather from speaking to people from New Zealand as well, we all believed that everything that was written in magazines like NME and stuff was sort of off the back of god’s hand, virually, so we had this slightly skew-whiff image of that London was the most happening musical place in the world, and everything that the NME or Sound said was like 100% perfect, so….
DP: How did the reality measure up, then?
JM: Some of us, not so much me but certainly some of the people I came with got disillusioned quite quickly, they found the day-to-day living aspect of London quite wearisome. I was prepared to tough it out, because even though I was quite young, I’d only just turned twenty, I wasn’t as stupid as some of the people who I’d went over with who seemed to think that they’d hop off the plane and a record contract would be literally handed to them by Rough Trade or something! Whereas I thought we were going to have to tough it out, and play it by ear.
DP: How did you first come into contact with David Tibet of Current 93? Because that’s how I first met you, at a concert where they were supporting Death In June, albeit that night at the Clarendon Hotel they were called Dog’s Blood Order, and that was about 1983. How did you sort of get into his orbit?
JM: I first met him about a year before that, because that show you were referring to was October ’83, but I met him either October or November 1982 but I’d heard of him beforehand, because I liked 23 Skidoo, and he was playing with them as well, and I was interested in Psychic TV. I met him at a place called Riverside Studios, where Psychic TV were appearing on television at the end of October ’82, and early ’83 I think he was still in Psychic TV and we just kept bumping into each other at various places and we jsut ended up chatting away….
DP: Youre on the very first Current 93 album, aren’t you?
JM: Yeah, well… I’m not on Lashtail but I’m on Nature Unveiled… because he recorded the first one, Lashtail, in ’82 with John Balance and people like that. I started to get friendly with him about March of 1983 and I jsut kept running into him around Camden area of London, and just seeing him all over the place and we just got friendly and he just asked me to come along to a recording session and it just grew from there, really.
DP: Was this at the same time that you’d started your collaboration with SPK and you were on television?
JM: I started playing with them about April-May of ’83 and that was about the time I started really getting friendly with Tibet.
DP: Was that because there was a link between Graeme Revell and him, or did you know Graeme Revell before you met?
JM: No, I’d first met Graeme briefly in 1980, but i’d known SPK since early ’79, because I’d met one of the other members of them, they’d come down to Melbourne for a holiday and I’d met them at a party and I’d also met smoeone else who told me about this amazing noise act, who were all dressed in military uniforms, performing in Sydney in this punk club, and it turned out it was the first ever performance of SPK and I heard about this. They said it was like a musical bomb going off, and it drove most of the audience out, but it just sounded really intriguing, because I’d heard an import Throbbing Gristle record in about ’79 and it was about the same time I heard of SPK and I thought “this sounds really interesting”.
DP: When SPK made the crossover into the charts in the UK with Metal Dance and appearing on television, what were those experiences like? I remember seeing you on The Tube which was probably the best music TV program of the early 80s, they replaced some of the things we hadn’t seen for years, since the ’60s, like Ready Steady Go….
JM: Well when I first started playing with SPK, Graeme had just signed to a label called Fiction Records which was run by the manager of The Cure, and I got to know both him and Brian Williams of Lustmord, and somehow or other he asked me to play some percussion, and he decided he wanted SPK to still do the more experimental stuff, but he wanted to do pop songs as well. Originally he wanted to have two separate acts, but the manager of this label convinced him to have SPK do both under the one name. So, live it would be a cross between earlier, darker material, and then you’d have a few poppy numbers and it used to divide the audience quite a bit actually. There was quite a lot of flak, not so much in Britain but certainly when SPK played in Germany I remember a lot of the audience were not too taken by some of the poppier stuff… especially when we played Berlin, I remember there were some quite angry people in the dressing room afterwards!
Song: NON – Solitude
DP: Okay, another question for Boyd: before moving to Denver where you’ve got this quite peculiar and unique massive apartment, which every time I hear that song it reminds me of there, and wandering form room to room, when you left San Francisco in 1989, how many years did you live in San Francisco before you did leave, and what was the deciding factor to finally leave?
BR: I probably lived there at least ten years, probably more. I was there a long time before I moved there and had an apartment there. I used to have a job that required me to drive around late at night all night, and I’d come back home at dawn and frequently stop to check my messages on my machine and I came out one night and there were two men on the porch of my building with knives stabbing one another, and there was a pool of blood, there was blood dripping down their faces, and I had to walk between these two guys, through a pool of blood to get to my car! That’s kind of when I said “okay, I’m going to leave San Francisco, this isn’t fun anymore”, and then I came back and the sun was coming up, and the manager of my building’s out with the hose washing away this dried blood, and he said “Boyd, did you see anything unusual here last night?” and I said “Nah, nothing unusual”. [laughter all round] It got to be where I’d eat at the same restaurant every day and I’d look outside the window and there’d be some homeless person leaning over and vomiting and hurling vomit into the gutter, and it was like the streets of San Francisco began to look like the cover of Apocalypse Culture or something. It was just crazy people and lunatics…
DP: Was this the restaurant that you took us to one time, the pasta restaurant run by Asians?
BR: That one too, yeah. The Italian restaurant run by Asians who had studied cuisine in Paris! “Little Henry’s”. If you’re ever in San Francisco, check it out.
DP: Believe me, it is very very good, and very very cheap, and you meet the strangest people there, too! [laughs] So when was the first time you actually contacted me? How did that come about? My memory’s sort of vague about that, I remember the first time we actually met was in Tokyo, but… how did the other, first contact come about?
BR: Well the other thing was that there were all these symbolic coincidences between what you were doing, and what I was doing, and every record store I’d go that was a good record store would have Nada! with that picture on the cover, and I found that intriguing, and every hotel that I’d go to, they’d think that I was you and you’d just left the day before or something. It started getting stranger and stranger, and I’d known about you for quite some time, and I thought “well I really have to get in contact with this guy” because we had mutual friends like David Tibet and the guys from Coil, and a lot of people, so I just twisted Tibet’s arm toget your number, and he refused to give it to me, refused to give it to me, and then finally he was saying “don’t call this guy up, he’s really difficult, he can be very unpleasant, he hates people so much he won’t answer his phone for weeks at a time” and I just started thinking “I gotta meet this guy”! So I finally got he number, just called you up and said “you don’t know me, but I think we should know each other, my name’s Boyd Rice” and you said “Oh yeah, I know who you are, of course.” We almost played together one time and it just didn’t happen, but….
DT: That was in Tokyo?
DP: No no, we were due to perform together on the same bill at the Electric Ballroom in the early ’80s with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, it was Death In June, NON, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Boyd didn’t show, he had problems and was… deported from the country, we later found out! He was sent onto Frankfurt, where he was about to start a European tour with Fad Gagdet, and that was an odd night, because we really sort of cracked the apocalyptic folk thin big time I think, because we were desperately trying to do these guitar melodies but the feedback was so odd it was actually panning around the place, and even through the monitors, and Marc Almond came up to us later and said “Ah, that was fantastic! I’d never heard a group play acoustic guitars with feedback and control it like that, like you did!” We were really pissed off, we were so disappointed with our performance, we didn’t realise everyone thought this was marvellous! [laughter all round] That night invented a new form of music by chance! In fact, we did get paid extras money by the promoter, because he thought it was so great too! I remember several years before, I’d almost had a fight with this guy when I was in a punk group, because he was truly a very difficult person. I’m extremely pleasant, I’m almost so pleasant I walk on water, but
[laughter all round]
this guy was really nasty! It’s not the way a lot of people would describe me either, but that’s one of those things – I’m greatly misunderstood…. [more laughter] … I think we should go to some music now, don’t you?
Song: Death In June – All Pigs Must Die
DP: Okay so more questions for Boyd… exactly where are you at the moment career-wise?
BR: Well as you can tell I have mental illness, and… [laughter all round – transcriber’s note: this is an in-joke between the artists and the DJ that I’m not inclined to reveal the meaning of!] ..career-wise, I’m about ready to compile a CD for Mute that’s the ambient stuff that I’ve done. Most of my records throughout the last 25 years have had at least one song that’s just purely minimalist and ambient and understaed, and I’m going to do a whole thing of that whole soundtracky atmospheric music. And then I’m still working on this book about the Holy Grail and the mythologies that led up to this, and a specific bloodline that’s connected with it. I’ve been researching that full-time practically for the last 6 or 7 years.
DT: Can I pick up on that real quick? I read somewhere that you and someone else who you’re writing with, maybe for Dagobert’s Revenge, I’m not sure, had thought that you’d actually pinpointed the location, and that you’d approached the city where you thought it was, and they said “you can do what you want as long as we’re there when you dig it up” …is that correct?
BR: Yeah. We sent an open letter to the Mayor of [transcriber’s note – sorry but I have no idea what the town name is!], because there is a code throughout a strange church in the south of France, and when you figure out what it is, you can look at all these points on a map, and we found all these points, and we drew lines through them, and they created seven lines that all intersected on exactly the same point, so the treasure is probably… there’s probably several levels, it’s not just a treasure, it’s not just something that’s very valuable, it’s like a secret history, and a secret doctrine, but I think there might be some sort of archive there as well, like archives from the antediluvian world, or who knows what.
DT: Do you know if they ever followed it up at all?
BR: Obviously not, because we didn’t send them the map, we just told them this information, and said we’d be more than happy to share this with you. We don’t want to publish this, because we don’t want somebody going there, who doesn’t know what this is, who doesn’t understand the context that its in, and just destroying it, looking for something of monetary value. We knew we’d do this stuff under the proper conditions.
DP: You’d already been in the south of France, you were there doing a documentary for….
BR: Initially it was for Fox Television, but it ended up finally being shown on the sci-fi channel. I went there a couple of years ago to do that, and it finally just aired.
Song: Death In June – unknown
DP: So Boyd, as I mentioned earlier in the show, you’re here partially to also do some more recording with us, to try and finish off this new album we started in Denver a few months ago, and whilst we were there we were discussing a working title. Two of the titlese that have come up so far are “Alarm Agent” or “Twilight Security”. Can you tell us more about why that came into being?
BR: I was telling Doug that my old job had been as an alarm agent, and he just laughed and thought that that was a great job title, and then I told him that the company that I worked for was called Twilight Security, and he thought that was even funnier, so….
DP: Because we don’t use that term here, “alarm agency”, could you explain that to the listeners?
BR: It’s a job I had where it’s like security, but you’re an armed response agent, where you drive a police car and it has the spotlights on it, the cage in the back, and you carry a .357 Magnum. An alarm goes off in a building and you drive to the building and are expected to make sure it’s secure. Sometimes you have the keys for it, and you go through it with your flashlight and your gun drawn, and eject anybody you find inside or arrest them or whatever. So, it was a great job that I had for 6-7 years in San Francisco, but the funny thing about the story I was telling you, is that my relatives all get that wrong, they never got their head around the concept of an “alarm agent” so they’d see me and say “Well, are you still an alarmist?” and I’d say “Yep, always have been, always will be!” [laughter from everyone]
Song: Boyd Rice and Fiends – The Forgotten Father Song: Boyd Rice and Fiends – Tomb Of The Forgotten Father
DT: Boyd, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the story, not just behind those two tracks, but perhaps about some of the narrations that you have, especially with your collaborations with Doug, which I’ve found fantastic stories. I’m wondering if any of them, or if that one in particular, came from anything in particular, any particular experiences that you had, or dreams, whatever it might be?
BR: Yeah, that actually was, word for word practically, this dream that I had, and it was so vivid and so real, that even while I was having it I was thinking “this is so strange, it has to be a dream” and Doug is in the dream saying “no, this isn’t a dream at all”. I was so vivid that when I woke up, I thought “I’ve gotta call him and tell him about this”, so I called him the same day and I told him this thing, and he said “you’ve gotta write that down while you still remember all the details, that’d be great lyrics for a song one of these times”, so I did, and the next time we got together and recorded, here in Adelaide, we did that.
DP: Those ones are called “The Forgotten Father” and “Tomb of the Forgotten Father”, that’s off the Wolf Pact album, isn’t it?
BR: Yeah. But a lot of the text that I do when I collaborate with Doug, a lot of that’s just based on stuff that’s going on at the time, or conversation we have where one of us mishears a certain line and we both find it amusing, and a lot of it just happens organically in the studio. Something he’ll do will unlock something that’s been simmering in the back of my mind for a long time and then it just comes pouring out. The songs like “People” and “Disney Land Can Wait” we did when we met in Tokyo, and it just came out word after word after word, it was like I was transcribing and someone else was dictating.
DT: So you find you really bounce off each other really well?
DT: “People” was the first thing you wrote with each other, wasn’t it?
BR: Yeah, I think so, yeah.
DP: It was really spontaneous, I’d just gone to the rehearsal studios that day where Boyd and Michael Moynihan already was, and David Tibet. I’d flown into Tokyo a few days after the others had arrived, and it just happened. We were about to rehearse for these new shows, and this came out as a new song, and Boyd and I kind of looked at each other and thought “well, we’re going to get around to doing some recording here, let’s try and use that”. It was literally one of the first things I did in Boyd’s presence and Boyd started saying some words… The other intriguing thing about that was, we recorded the two things separately without even hearing them, it was on the same day in the same studio we thought we’d try it to test instinct. So I did the music, and then Boyd went into the studio and wasn’t allowed to hear the music, but jsut do the words, and it jsut kind of fitted naturally.
DT: Do people still piss you off like that?
BR: No, I’m actually a very happy-go-lucky person. People annoy me at times, they try my patience at times, but yeah I was a bit more young and impatient in 1989, and you know, at this point in my life there’s not a lot I have to really be angry about. Unless someone goes out of their way to do something to screw me over, so….
DT: I read an interesting interview with you once, where the guy said “Do you want ‘total war’?” and you said “no, I just want ‘total peace’, I just want to be left alone”! [laughs]
BR: Yes! [laughs]
Song: Death In June – We Said Destroy II
DP: Okay, another question for John Murphy now, who’s going to be playing percussion with NON and Death In June tomorrow night, at the Enigma Bar: What’s your three or four, five or six, whatever, significant moments in your career John, as a percussionist, which has basically taken you all around the world for the past umpteen years?
JM: Well I suppose the first time I ever played in fromt of a large audience, I was about 17 or so. Moving to London would be another one, it was definitely a very pivotal career move.
DP: What was the large audience for?
JM: That was for the first band I was playing with.
DP: Which was?
JM: It was called News, it was a punk rock band in Melbourne, and that was an event called “Punk Gunk” [giggles from others] which was the first big punk rock event there which Nick Cave’s group at the time, the Boys Next Door headlined back in the end of 1977. That was my first ever large proper audience, that to me is my first proper memory. Then, working with The Associates, that was….
DP: What was that like? Billy Mackenzie’s dead now by two or three years, but I’d heard lots of different rumours about him and the last time I actually saw him alive was in a vegetarian restuarant in London – what was he like?
JM: He could be another one of these “he’s a nice bunch of guys” characters… he’s an interesting fellow, but he had a lot of problems, that’s the best way to describe him. Very talented, but his own worst enemy, I think, in the long run. He was one of these people, who things happen to too quickly for him at a young age, and I don’t think ever got over the decline from fame. He became famous very early, and then it sort of became yesterday’s news, and I’m sure that had some problems for him mentally…
DP: So whilst we’re on charming, enigmatic strange individuals that seem to have caused huge waves within the music cultural society and industry [chuckles from others], who else may have possibly influenced you life as well, John?
JM: [laughter from everyone] Well yes, of course meeting you, but you know…
DP: Ah, that’s what I was fishing for! [laughs]
JM: Many many years ago, originally back in 1983, and then again – it was tem years later, wasn’t it? In Sydney, at this event at the Paddington Town Hall. Besides that, the best things have just been touring all over Europe, and with you and Boyd.
BR: We’ve been in a lot of groovy places…
DP: What do you think of America when we go there? We’ve toured there very extensively in ’97 and then more recently we’ve done some more performances there, how do you feel about the States in comparison to Europe?
JM: I don’t really compare the two, because I think that they are reasonably different, but I did feel far more comfortable there this time than the time we went in ’97, because I felt that tour was infinitely more stressful. The last two times I’ve just felt a lot more comfortable there, I thought that the first time, we were traveling so far from place to place it was difficult to get a proper feel of the country. I enjoyed America, but I enjoy Europe as well, and I don’t really think of one as better than the other, really.
DP: So, any other pivotal moments in your career that we can mention before we sign off?
JM: Well I enjoyed working with SPK, that was good. That was… well besides working with you, of course…. [laughs from everyone]….
DP: Don’t overdo it! [more laughs all round] I agree with you, because I thought the work you did in SPK when I frst saw you was more impressive than the work you were doing with Current, and it was like that was the moment for me, I thought “John’s a really great drummer and percussionist”, because you were hitting more than drums in those days.
JM: The only thing I haven’t enjoyed that much, is when I worked briefly with Michael Hutchence years ago. I didn’t enjoy that particularly much, in the late 80’s, with his Max Q project. I have some bad memories about that, but that’s the only bad thing.
DP: Okay, one that happy note [much laughter from everyone] I think we should all say goodbye to the audience!
AB: Okay, thanks very much to all you guys for coming in, and participating in this venture! It’s been very entertaining for me certainly, and yes just a reminder… the gig is tomorrow night, at the Eniga Bar at 8pm. It’s $20 which is pretty damn cheap, and Death In June, NON and Isomer – doors open at 8 and I’d be there at 8 if I were you, because it’s probably going to sell out or at least be very crowded. That’s it…thanks for coming everyone, all the best, and goodnight!
Song: NON – Total War
End of interview.