June 1994 A4 40 pages
out of print / sold out!
Complete main article
NURSE WITH WOUND
Out of all the bands to emerge out of the indie, industrial, new-wave scene, Nurse With Wound have always been the most outlandish, experimental and extraordinarily innovative. As such, Nurse With Wound cannot be classified or pigeon-holed in any way, a bizarre counterpoint between rock, the avant-garde, and almost everywhere else as well! After many years of trying to organise an interview with Steven Stapleton, the creative core and only consistent member of Nurse With Wound, we finally managed to arrange a meeting in March this year, whilst he was in London organising new Nurse With Wound and Current 93 releases.
At our friend Clive Graham's home, we chatted about various things: recent musical discoveries, and the like. And, of course, we were all most curious about the latest Nurse With Wound album: ROCK 'N ROLL STATION. To this, Steve announced that he'd got a CD-R of the final mix, but he never warned us as to how startlingly different it was! I'll review that later on, and hopefully I'll be able to be a bit more objective than we were upon first listening, with exclamations' like: "well, it's the first Nurse With Wound ambient-house album", or "very techno, probably go down well with the weird ravers", but basically neither Steve, Clive or I really knew what to make of it on first listen. Maybe this is what Steven Stapleton wanted, to create the shock of something radically different and unexpected. But, I don't think he expected our reaction... 'You don't like it? Well that's a bummer isn't it! Too late to change it now!'
It was strange to start an interview on that note, but there was lots to talk about, and we recorded over 2½ hours revealing lots of interesting things about the history of Nurse With Wound and about Steven himself: his ideas, his life, his aspirations. Present at the interview were: Steven Stapleton (SS), Alan Freeman (AF), Steve Freeman (SF) and Clive Graham (CG).
SF: When we first met in 1979, you'd just finished recording the first Nurse album. So how about a bit of background on that era, like where did the title come from?
SS: I think it was a quote from Max Ernst. Was it Max Ernst? No, it was Loetremann. It was just that John (Fothergill) liked the title and I liked it and we both came across it independently, and he said to me 'What shall we call the record?' and I said 'Chance meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella'. To which he said 'God, that's amazing, because I thought the same thing!' So that was it.
SF: Where did the three of you meet?
SS: I'd known Heman (Pathak) as a friend of my younger brother for ten years before I had him as a friend myself. John I met wandering around a record shop one day with his mother, and I thought 'What an eccentric looking guy', and he picked out a record from a rack which was one I desperately wanted to look at. And it went from there, we chatted...
SF: So, whose idea was it to form a group and do an album?
SS: I was working in a studio, sign-writing, and I got talking to an engineer about doing strange, avant-garde music, something a bit odd. And he said he'd love to. So, it was then I thought I could maybe come in and do something. So, I asked him about sessions and he said I could have cheap hours in the evening. So, I immediately rang up John and Heman, my close friends, and said 'We're in a band!' The next day we went into the studio for one day - the first time we ever played together - and we made CHANCE MEETING...
SF: How many hours did it take to record?
SS: About eight. That's remarkable isn't it? When you look back now, the second and third albums, they took us a day each, recorded in one day and mixed in two hours the next day. Whereas now it takes about a week for me to record about 3 minutes, and about two days to mix it. Completely different.
SF: So you set up your own label to release the debut.
SS: Yes. One thing I'd like to say about United Dairies as a whole. I was completely inspired by the Ohr label, I wanted to emulate it. There was the thing that it took me years of stalking all over Europe to find all the releases, every one of them, and every one was a surprise. It was just like a Pandora's Box and I adored it. I loved everything about it. I loved the way the albums were presented and the music. And I just wanted United Dairies to be a little like that.
SF: How did you first discover the Ohr label?
SS: Through KÄNGURU by Guru Guru.
SF: Then you back-tracked.
SS: Yes, but before then I had already heard Amon Düül's PSYCHEDELIC UNDERGROUND - the first real record I ever bought. I saw it in a shop and fell in love with the cover. I was very young at the time and couldn't believe it. That was the album. I wouldn't be sitting here now with you lot if it weren't for that record.
AF: Did you find it in London?
SS: Yes, on Oxford Street. I was with my girlfriend and I was going to buy some loon pants! But when I took it home, it changed my life completely, I'd never heard anything like it. My first thoughts were 'Who would make a record like this?' I was used to David Bowie and stuff like that! So I became obsessed by Amon Düül. Then everything German. I searched the shops, and I became obsessed for fifteen years, not so much by the French or Italian much, but the German! And even today, my favourite music is the German scene from 1969 through to 1972. I don't know why it happened, but something happened in Germany, and they created the most amazing music I've ever heard. I was drawn to it like a magnet.
SF: PHALLUS DEI was the one that set me off.
SS: Yeah! Brilliant! So, yeah, it was like learning about Amon Düül, Amon Düül II, and then about the labels they were on, like Ohr: Xhol Caravan, Annexus Quam, Anima, Limbus 3, Embryo, stuff like that, Hairy Chapter, Guru Guru... All brilliant. I'm now trying to emulate that adventure in rock music, with experimentation. As I once said to you, that I don't consider myself an avant-garde musician. Though I like a lot of the contemporary stuff, I'm firmly into that 70's groove. Until that becomes outdated, maybe I'll have to learn something...
AF: In 1979, when we first met, you were wearing a Xhol MOTHERFUCKERS GMBG & CO KG tee shirt.
SS: An amazing band, I love that album. I adore that album. Perhaps I'll release it on United Dairies if I ever get the chance. To me, that's the one I love. I love Radio. Don't make 'em like that anymore, do they?
SF: There's a high percentage of German bands on the list given with the first and second Nurse albums. Whose idea was the "list"?
SS: It was mine and John's together.
SF: You do realise that it set off an epidemic around the world!
SS: It's amazing isn't it? It's like the chaos theory...
SF: People just want to hear everything on it.
SS: There's things on there that don't exist! A few jokes on there. I've seen them on peoples wants' lists, offering hundreds of pounds!
SF: Like the Fille Qui Mouse album.
SS: I tried to release the Fille Qui Mouse album. I really tried! I went over and stayed with Henri-Jean Enu, the guy whose band it was. He was totally into the idea, and we designed a cover. He couldn't believe that someone with the name Stapleton would want to release the record. But we couldn't get a tape off Gérard Terrones, the guy who owned Futura Records. So I never released it!
SF: The second Nurse album had a great title.
SS: TO THE QUIET MEN FROM A TINY GIRL. Yeah, John came across the album by Tolerance, then had a dream: he saw it down the spine of a Nurse record in his dream, and he told me about that. And, I said 'I love that, a strange play with words, it's really nice', so that was the title. He'd read it and then dreamt about it. John was really into messages in dreams.
SF: It seems like you put a lot of work into those early albums!
SS: How do you mean?
SF: With remixing.
SS: Very little really, I didn't know anything. I was completely naive - I knew nothing! You imagine, you go into a studio, I mean the first studio you've ever been to, with machines everywhere, like a thousand knobs! I was completely dumbfounded by it all.
SF: So, you had to rely on the engineer who ran the studio.
SS: Yes, like Nicky Rogers. I would say 'I'd like something to happen here, something to happen there', and gradually, throughout the sessions I'd begin to understand - ah, this is reverb, and you can add a bit of echo here... And then I was all over the desk! You don't know anything when you first go in.
SF: It's amazing how well MERZBILD SCHWET turned out then.
SS: Well, not really, because it's the third one, and by then I was beginning to get the hang of how things operated, I began to know what each knob did, that I could make wonderful sounds just by moving that one and punching that one out.
SF: When did John Fothergill leave?
SS: Well, John only played guitar on the records, he was more of a financial part. The situation was this: Heman had a van so he could move the equipment backwards and forwards, John had the money because he was fairly well off, and I had the ideas. That's how it worked out really. I mean, Heman, he didn't do anything on the third album.
SF: Obviously he wasn't so creative, as was shown with his Hastings Of Malawi album.
SS: Basically a lovely guy, but he had no idea at all. Then John left due to falling in love with Danielle Dax. But I don't think she fell in love with him. Lots of crazy things went on, and he lost interest in music completely.
SF: The "Experimental" and "Anthony & Paul" divisions of United Dairies, they were John's idea?
SS: I really hated it. I hated that idea. I really hated the Bombay Ducks release being on United Dairies. It should have been on his, so-called, "Experimental" label.
SF: Who were the Bombay Ducks?
SS: Just two guys who worked in the studio, with a few ideas really. Nicky Rogers was one of them.
SF: MERZBILD SCHWET is credited as being produced by the Bombay Ducks.
SS: It was just a joke really.
SF: Like Babs Santini?
SS: Babs Santini is SERIOUS! (laughter) When I pick up a pen I'm Babs Santini. When I draw, I always draw female things, and therefore I feel I'm Babs Santini. When I do serious graphic design I'm Steven Stapleton!
SF: How did you discover Roger Doyle?
SS: Rummaging through Record & Tape Exchange one day, in the 10p section, I came across this really battered old record I didn't know, and looked I at the back: electronics, right I'll buy it! It was brilliant - scratched to pieces - but it was enough. We'd just released the first three Nurse albums, and were looking for something else to release anyway, we didn't just want to keep the label for ourselves anyway.
SF: You'd just released the Lemon Kittens.
SS: But that was more John's thing. The Lemon Kittens didn't come until after the fifth release, 'cause John didn't want the first three releases on the label to be Nurse With Wound, it wouldn't feel like a proper label, so what we did was to leave a gap. So, when the Lemon Kittens came along after it was slotted in.
AF: It didn't seem like that at the time!
SS: Well, it's like the new Nurse With Wound album is UD 039, whereas we've already released up to 41.
SF: I noticed that, it's confused some people!
SS: To me they seem, I wouldn't say logical, but they all kind of fit together. But, it must be a bit confusing for other people. To be honest, I've never considered the catalogue numbers of any importance really, it just occurs as it occurs.
SF: How did David Tibet become involved with Nurse With Wound?
SS: David is a guy I met at an event called "The Equinox", which featured vile groups like Pure, neo-Nazi things and stuff like that. I was invited to play, but I didn't, I got really drunk and got into this fight with a guy who pissed on me and got thrown out of the place, and I was supposed to be playing! So, I went over to the pub across the road, which was in the London Musicians Collective, and this guy came up and said "Hi, my name's David Tibet, I really like your music, I'll buy you a drink". From then on he's been my closest and best friend.
SF: What about William Bennett and Whitehouse?
SS: One day, just after CHANCE MEETING... was released, I went into the Virgin record shop. I was looking through the racks trying to see if it was there, and I came across an album called BIRTHDEATH EXPERIENCE which I bought because it just looked so obscure. When I listened to it I thought these guys are totally mad, and I noticed there was an address on it, so I went round there. Yeah, he lived just down the road, I met him and he became a really close friend for about five years. Even today he's in London now, but we don't see each other because basically we've nothing in common. He's only interested in upsetting people. The less he can put on a record, the less effort he can put into the record, he will do! His ethic was 'Everybody who buys my records is a cunt basically, and I'm just showing that everyone's a cunt.' I lost interest in it. In the early days William did some really interesting things, ERECTOR I think is an amazing record, a really strange album.
SF: What did you think of Come's RAMPTON?
SS: There's some good riffing on that.
SF: And some good ideas.
SS: Yeah, but after ERECTOR it was all downhill.
SF: Obviously the erection started to droop!
SS: Hmmm, yeah, he's now impotent. I always thought of Bill as the Benny Hill of Industrial Music! (laughter) Well it's true, isn't it? It's ridiculous, the last gig they played in London. I went along to that. I hadn't seen Whitehouse since I used to play with them, and I was expecting a barrage of noise. It was in Edmonton which I thought was an odd place for Whitehouse to play, it's a nothing place, considering they were supposedly so big in America. I was standing there with David, and this wimpy sound came out of the speakers, I just couldn't believe it. 'This is Whitehouse?' It was so pathetic. I said to David 'We can't let him die like this!' So, I asked a guy where the mix desk was, I rushed up the stairs and pushed the guy out of the way, who was like the resident mixer, and I said 'I'm Whitehouse's technical mixer', and just went crazy - I pushed everything up full, it was totally manic, and suddenly I had people threatening me with bottles, then the manager came up and threatened to shut everything down unless I stopped. I was just going crazy, I was so drunk, I was just flying everything from speaker to speaker, I was cutting things out - you could see the musicians on stage, they had no idea what was happening! While this was going on, William was trying to organise this spanking contest, with several people up on stage with their bums showing, hitting them with whips, it was so pathetic. Really, really tacky. I heard the tape recently and it's just so viscous, so much better than all their releases.
AF: At the time of you releasing Musique Concret's BRINGING UP BABY you mentioned that you were planning on putting out a second, what happened to that album?
SS: What happened was I didn't like it. It wasn't nearly as good as the other one and I told them so. I don't think they did anything with it. A couple of minutes appeared on a Come Org compilation (FUR ILSE KOCH), and that was probably the best bit, though really that wasn't very good.
SF: Who were Musique Concret? Anybody well known?
SS: No, just a couple of guys, in fact I can't even remember their names now.
CG: Who did the cover, wasn't he a member? Jim somebody...
SS: Yes, that was Jim Friedman. And yes, I remember, the other guy, that was Michael Mullen.
SF: Next, onto INSECT AND INDIVIDUAL SILENCED.
SS: A horrible record indeed. A horrid record. I burnt the master tapes!
CG: A good title though!
SS: Probably the best thing about it. It was me, a guy called Trevor Reidy (from the Truth Club) and Jim Thirlwell (aka Foetus). We just went into the studio one day, bashed it out, and we gave the tapes out to be mastered the next day without really listening to it.
AF: It comes across as a very angry record.
SS: We were very angry at the time I suppose. But it's a horrid record, a really horrid record, and deserves to be forgotten.
AF: Is it the only Nurse With Wound "horrid record"?
SS: Yes, it is. But, funnily enough, most friends of mine hate Journey through Cheese.
SF: Why is that?
SS: It just doesn't go down well.
SF: The B-side of SORESUCKER doesn't go down well?! Well, it's the A-side I don't like!
SS: No, I didn't much either.
AF: Then why did you do it?
SS: These things happen. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.
AF: Related to this, but jumping aside a bit, one of the most popular of your releases in recent times is the one with Tony Wakeford: THE REVENGE OF THE SELFISH SHELLFISH.
SS: Is it? Popular with who?
AF: A wide range of people, maybe because it covers a lot of ground: from gothic music onto stranger realms. It surprises a lot of people.
SS: That's because Tony's a musician, he can play things. You know, if you work with someone who can play something, you can humm them what you want and they do it. So, it was a great collaboration really, because me not being a musician doing all the unmusicianly things, and anything that I wanted to be done that was musical in any way Tony would do.
SF: Getting back to chronology, what was next? HOMOTOPY TO MARIE!
SS: HOMOTOPY TO MARIE was a real pleasure to do, INSECT AND INDIVIDUAL SILENCED being a real disappointment, I decided to do something I would really enjoy to listen to.
SF: A lot more use of musique-concret and Stockhausen techniques came into that.
SS: But, basically I'd learned how to make the sounds I wanted to hear, and I began to understand the mixing desk as well: how to get really nice things out of the mixing desk. Illusions really, like things that weren't there on the tape, because really the mixing desk is an instrument in itself.
AF: It's around that time that you developed the technique of bringing things out in a sound, forward and back, with reverb and such.
SS: I just learnt about the dynamics of sound, and how to put a bit of space into things. Many things happen by accident, you press the wrong knob and something crazy happens, and you think: 'Wow! That's brilliant! I'll remember that!' You kind of build up a repertoire of mistakes.
SF: A piece can totally change then while you're doing it?
SS: Oh my God yeah, quite often when a thing is mixed you would never recognise where it came from. I really like twisting sound, pulling it apart and throwing it together, and seeing what happens.
SF: You like improvising?
SS: I suppose in a way everything I do is improvising in that respect. I don't know exactly what's going to happen. What I think is concrete ideas when I go into a studio, it changes completely.
SF: If you were classically trained...
SS: If I were classically trained I wouldn't have done any of this, I still can't play an instrument, I'm a firm believer... I mean, what I do, it's really quite primitive. It's like putting lots of primitive things together and making something a bit more modern out of it. I can't play an instrument. I can't play anything, but I can make it sound like I can play an instrument, but that's studio wizardry. So, I suppose my instrument is a mixing desk. Really, that I can make sounds from instruments that go in and come out sounding like no instrument that has ever been played.
SF: So, you're a technician?
SS: No, I'm not a great technician because I don't know what happens in the mixing desk. I'm not very good with electronics or anything like that. If I had my own home set-up I would need an engineer there to help me with things. I can feel my way around the board but I'm not great at that.
SF: So, you're an artist!
SS: Ah, that dreaded word. Yes, I paint in sound. (laughter) I don't know what I consider myself as. I always think about it when people ask me that. I don't know what to say. I don't want to say I'm an artist. I don't want to say something pretentious like "I organise sound" or "I'm a sound sculptor". I'd feel stupid if I said I created sound-sculptures!
SF: How did the OSTRANENIE 1913 compilation come about?
SS: A very nice guy called Gary Levermore wanted to start a record label (Third Mind). He asked me 'Would you do a Nurse album for my label?' I said 'I wouldn't do a new one but he could reissue two of the tracks from the old one's and keep all the profits to help the label start.' So, I gave him the tracks, designed the cover...
AF: GYLLENSKÖLD, GEIJERSTAM & I AT RYDBERGS has been quoted as one of the coldest or clinical of Nurse With Wound releases, would you agree?
SS: I don't, I hadn't really thought about it like that. It was the first record that David and I did together, and it was a 50-50 affair. Some of it works, some of it is a bit laboured, not a brilliant piece of music in any way I don't think.
AF: What about the Gyllensköld, Geijerstam & Friends' LIVE AT BAL MALDOROR album?
SS: It was basically like a package tour of several bands that went over to Amsterdam. It was Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Annie Anxiety and D&V, it was a session between D&V (which is a vocalist and a drummer), Annie Anxiety, Nurse With Wound, Current 93, all together and making little noises on the stage. So, it's not really Nurse With Wound, which is why it came out as that and not a Nurse album.
SF: You later used the same title for a Nurse With Wound album.
SS: Because that was tapes from three gigs we did in Europe, and tapes made in Ireland that were live (but not in front of an audience unfortunately).
SF: There's also the Current 93 LIVE AT BAR MALDOROR...
SS: That was just David and me.
AF: What is Bar Maldoror?
SS: Bar Maldoror was something that me, John Balance and Tibet invented: it was just like a club, we had a huge banner and whenever any of us would play at the time, we'd put the banner up, and wherever we were became Bar Maldoror.
AF: On BRAINED BY FALLING MASONRY you again worked with Jim Thirlwell.
SS: It was me and David who did that, Jim just sang on it. Jim's brilliant, some of his stuff is totally tremendous.
AF: One thing I don't like much on that, is Jim's vocals.
SS: Like a lot of people.
SF: I would have preferred Female vocals.
SS: Ah, well, you're a puritan!
SF: What was the inspiration behind the SYLVIE & BABS HI-FI COMPANION.
SS: I wanted to make an album where I didn't play on it, it was everyone else. Every single person credited on the record contributed musically to it in some way. I don't think it was a great success now looking back at it. I liked it at the time and there are still a few bits now that I find amusing.
AF: Why were there 4 minutes cut on the reissue?
SS: I just took out the bits I didn't like, and even then I had doubts about it.
SF: I remember at the time you were very enthusiastic about it.
SS: Oh, you are when you've almost finished something. A great rush of adrenaline and 'My God, it's great!' So, then - bang, you're down to earth again, listen and think 'It isn't really great, it's all right, but I could do a lot better'.
SF: So, you just released the three records with Laylah. Didn't you get on with them?
SS: No, they were really sloppy. They did some really stupid things. So, I thought it was time to leave. Anyway, at this time, I'd also been running United Dairies independently.
SF: Why then the move to Torso?
SS: Because they offered me a vast amount of money to make a record and I accepted. But I don't think SPIRAL INSANA was the success Torso wanted!
SF: But it's probably the biggest selling Nurse With Wound album?
SS: That's what most people have said. It sold at the very uproots around seven or eight thousand. But it was the biggest seller for us because it was advertised, they did a very good job on advertising.
AF: At this time there was a distinct turn in the Nurse With Wound sound.
SS: Yeah, it was the first album I did properly after HOMOTOPY TO MARIE. However, I was paid a figure by the company before I handed over the master tapes. In fact I had to go and record it. That's a horrible burden, and I hated having been paid already and having to produce something for somebody else. I'd never done that before.
SF: It's always like that when you're working for someone else.
SS: Working for a record label is horrible. I wouldn't want to do it again because I can do it all myself.
SF: With World Serpent as distributor?
SS: They're brilliant. They're perfect. They're all lovely people and I get on well with all of them. And, to a degree, they like what I do!
SF: The next album was DRUNK WITH THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS. What was the idea behind it?
SS: It's difficult to say really. I'd finished the album and I was so pissed-off with minimal sales and things like that. I just thought 'Fuck it, I'm only doing a hundred, but I'll do them a little bit special' - so they're all different.
SF: Was there only a hundred copies released?
SS: Yes, no more. By the time I'd finished it I was intoxicated by spray lacquer! It took months.
SF: That's two-hundred individual prints.
SS: Yeah, I did them all at home.
AF: That was the time of Nurse With Wound limited editions, like the cassette set.
SS: Well, so many people couldn't get the records and I couldn't afford to re-press them - no way! I was so sick of running the mail-order, you know, horrible business, everyday this cassette, that cassette... I thought I'd get a box for the cassettes and they could buy the whole lot together! So, that's what I did really.
SF: When you issued the back catalogue on cassette, was that your first contact with Colin Potter?
SS: It was.
SF: But, it was a lot later when you started using his studio.
SS: Yes, but when I did, I was very pleasantly surprised.
SF: What came after DRUNK...? Oh yes, ALAS THE MADONNA DOES NOT FUNCTION. Another really glossy cover.
SS: I was really into gloss then! I was really into colour. Laquer mad!
SF: I remember at one time you stated categorically that you didn't like colour covers.
SS: Yes, I believed fully in monochrome. I loved it, and I still love it now, but it's when I signed up with Laylah and somebody said 'You could have a full colour cover.' And I just thought 'Wow, for the first time I could do that.' And I just became more interested in colour.
AF: The title comes from an amusing B. Klibban cartoon, from the book "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head".
SS: It's the most remarkable book I've ever read in my life. He's my favourite cartoonist. That book, and the others, especially one called "The Biggest Tongue In Tunisia", the guy is the sharpest cartoonist I've ever seen.
SF: Lots of Nurse With Wound lyrics are also taken from his work.
SS: It's my Bible. That and a book called "Billy & Betty" by a guy called Tweak Jameson (?). I absolutely adore them. Most of my titles have come from those two sources.
SF: Then you moved to Ireland, to Coolorta, and there's the COOLORTA MOON record.
SS: COOLORTA MOON was a kind of celebration of moving there. We moved for loads of reasons: we wanted our kids to grow up in clean air, I'd got mugged and I didn't like it. Basically, we were living in a neighbourhood that stunk. We'd had enough of London. We just wanted to get out. We tried everywhere, we looked at Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, but Wales was going anti-English, Scotland seemed too far away at the time, Cornwall was very conservative. So, we looked at Ireland and miraculously we just arrived there. I love it. I adore it.
AF: A lot of people have asked us in the past, are things' like that section of Kollektiv Rote Rube (used in Fashioned to a device behind a tree) actually lifted or reproduced?
SS: No, they're lifted! In those days it was called "stealing", and now it's called "sampling". So, what I did was illegal, but now it's suddenly legal.
SF: So the loop used on Coolorta Moon was just lifted from Wolfgang Dauner then?
SS: Yeah, totally. It was a loop from THE OIMELS. It was a tribute because I absolutely adore the record.
SF: You used the same loop on the track you submitted to the DIRECTIONS compilation.
SS: I got the invitation to be on this compilation, and I was working on that, it was half finished, but I thought it was nice as it was, so that's how The Sacred Cow of Om came into being.
AF: Peter Harrison (of Direction Music) phoned us up at the time and said 'Received this tape from Nurse With Wound, don't know what to make of it!'
SS: (laughter) - Yes!
AF: Going back a moment. How did you meet Diana Rogerson?
SS: I'd heard about this ridiculous band, well people said they were ridiculous, band called Fistfuck: it was two girls trying to be Whitehouse. One day, I met David Tibet and he said 'This band are unbelievable, ridiculous, you gotta come and see them'. I didn't go and see them, but this friend came round to where I was working one day, and he brought this perfect strange person along, with a bright red wig, a very very beautiful woman with this wig: totally over-the-top, a huge thing. I just looked at her and turned completely shy, couldn't talk anymore until they left about 5 minutes later. A really embarrassing moment, and that was my first meeting with Diana Rogerson. I don't know, I think it was love, but it was something weird anyway! I couldn't look her in the face, and at the time I was designing the SYLVIE & BABS record cover, and she was really interested in 50's imagery so she commented on it. I couldn't answer, I couldn't even look at her, it was something strange. Next time I met her, I took her to an Ertha Kitt concert and our love was bonded! And she went up to Ertha Kitt and said "My friend plays in an experimental rock band" and "Would you like to see his next album?" She politely refused. But that's really true!
SF: Why does Diana sometimes work as Crystal Belle Scrodd?
SS: I think that's when she writes songs. She likes to take on different personas, be different people, and she feels that the albums aren't really her, they're some other persona.
SF: Her albums are as much yours anyway!
SS: They're about 50-50.
AF: So, they're really Nurse With Wound!
SS: She's a member of Nurse anyway. Whoever's around me is. It's just a loose thing. It's worse than Gong!
SF: On BELLE DE JOUR, it merges so much it ends up sounding like a Nurse With Wound album.
SS: I produce them, there's a lot of my production in there.
AF: It sounds very much like (Ash Ra Tempel) SEVEN UP is in there.
SS: No, I'd be the first to admit it if it was. I love that album, I've always loved that album. I love the way it's all fake live, It was an influence, but I don't think I was directly - it could be. It wasn't lifted from the record at all. BELLE DE JOUR, a great record that, some of the lyrics are great, we should really do some more.
AF: What about the CD (the BEASTINGS compilation) though?
SS: I did the editing of it myself. I was really happy with it and took out all the bits she didn't like and I didn't like.
AF: I prefer the original albums!
SS: You're all purists, aren't you, really?!
The conversation diverts into discussing about people from the 70's who'd bombed out on acid and the like, talk about Uli Trepte (Guru Guru), Tim Belbe (Xhol), Hartmut Enke (Ash Ra Temple), etc...
SS: Did I ever tell you about the most embarrassing moment of my life?
SS: Nurse With Wound were playing live in Amsterdam (it's what I was telling you about earlier: Bar Maldoror), there was masses and masses of cocaine, it was unbelievable, the amount of drugs that were going around. It was the first time I'd ever had cocaine, and I was sitting at the back of the stage while Annie (Lennox) was playing. They were going through the songs of the band, and I don't know - I didn't even know the song - I thought I'd start singing with her. From what I remember of it, it turned into me screaming. I was screaming and screaming, and - I don't know - she probably thought 'My God I've got an emotional cripple here', and she started screaming to make it part of the set. I carried on screaming with my eyes closed, and the rest of the band left, apart from the drummer who just kept beating the same rhythm, and suddenly I was screaming on my own with my eyes closed. I'd lost Annie, she had gone off somewhere. Imagine, in front of all those people! And then there was a tap on my shoulder, it was David Tibet, he said 'Come on Steve, come off...' He lead me off stage. You imagine, the embarrassment! It was worse the next day actually, 'cause the hangovers we had were terrible! And then there was this guy who said 'Hey, I videoed last night. Do you want to see it?' And he showed it to me, and there I was screaming and screaming, out of my mind. The embarrassment of it all!
AF: I imagine that was the type of experience that caused many musicians from the psychedelic era to drop out of the music scene. You once told us the story about when you got Uli Trepte over to record an album for United Dairies.
SS: I'm glad it never came out as a record. It would have cost a fortune.
SF: You wanted a Spacebox album?
SS: Yeah, but he wouldn't do it. All he wanted to do was bass solos. It was so amusing, this is really what would happen: we'd go into the studio, he'd always call me "cat", like 'Hey cat, have you got a blow?' and then he'd roll a joint, sit down and smoke it, then he would take a tab of acid, then he'd roll another joint, then another, and all the time I was paying for studio time. I'd say 'When is it gonna happen?' He'd say 'I'm not quite there yet', then about four hours later he'd suddenly say 'Right I've got a hit. I'm gonna do it'. Then he'd go into the studio and the engineer - who was almost asleep - would say 'Let's have a quick sound check', and Uli would say 'I can't have a sound check, I'm there, I'm peaking'. But then he'd stop and say 'I can hear a squeak in the studio, something's rattling with my bass'. So, we'd search and find the screw that was wobbling, then it would be something else. We ended up taking every screw out that could be rattling - the engineer was really annoyed - but by then he'd missed his peak! So then it was more joints, more acid, till he got his peak again. Then he'd do it. And he'd got it. But, I remember one really amusing moment, when he'd just reached his peak, and the engineer said 'Okay, count in and go for it', so Uli said 'One, two, blue, four' and started. But the engineer stopped it, 'What do you mean: blue, four?' Uli said 'I've always done that'. 'Just do a normal count-in, like: one, two, three, go!' So, then he started again 'One, two, blue, four!' and the engineer stopped it again - I couldn't believe it! I thought, 'What's he doing, I'm paying for all this fuckin' time and he keeps stopping him'. Then they got into this argument that went on and on - ridiculous! He finally did it in the end, he let him say 'Blue, four'. He's a lovely guy Uli, he's a really nice guy, but it wasn't a great record.
SF: At least you got to release the Guru Guru/Uli Trepte album.
SS: Yeah, I got something out of it.
SF: We've missed SOLILOQUY FOR LILITH!!!
SS: SOLILOQUY was an album I'd been wanting to do for years but I didn't know how. Through a discovery whilst mixing a Current 93 record, called The Breath And The Pain Of God (From THE RED FACE OF GOD released in 1988 - Ed), I discovered a technique that I really enjoyed, it was right up my street and I could do a lot with it. So, I set about making the SOLILOQUY FOR LILITH album with this technique. And, today, I feel it's my best record. It's the one I listen to more than any other. I'm never ever bored with it.
SF: It originally started as something different didn't it? It was originally advertised as being by Steven Stapleton and Diana Rogerson.
SS: She was never on it. Originally we were going to do it together and put it out as ourselves. But I thought, this is me, this is a Nurse album.
AF: The records weren't very well pressed.
SS: The pressings I had were good. I had the occasional problems, but... Anyway, the CD sounds fabulous.
SF: Yes, far superior.
SS: The amount of times, when running United Dairies, I've taken pressings back, and then had worse ones, and then worse ones... I mean, what do you do? And then, when they won't press any more you're stuck in the position where you have to defend yourself: you paid for virgin vinyl and they give you shit, you say it's shit and they give you even more shit. In the end, you say, "Well I've got to let some of these out".
AF: That was EMI at that time.
SS: Yeah, EMI, and they were really expensive as well.
SF: You were nearly pulling your hair out about it!
SS: The amount of test pressings I had on those - there was distortion, there was all kinds of things. But finally it came out and the pressings I heard at the end were the very best.
AF: You kept the whole package simple, on the advert you supplied to Audion there were serpents over the circle logo.
SS: That was just the flyer design. It wasn't the actual album design. I wanted to keep the album as simple as possible as the music was simple. I wanted the whole thing to fit as a piece together. But, that was one of your least favourites wasn't it?!
SF: Next came the SISTERS OF PATAPHYSICS compilation.
SS: At the time, I didn't ever want to reissue the first three Nurse albums, and there was so many people that wanted them, so I just thought I'd make a compilation of the best pieces from them and put that out. So, I just selected my favourite pieces and put them together for an album.
SF: But it didn't stop the bootleggers!
SS: I know, there's so many editions around.
AF: All the bootlegs of CHANCE MEETING... have the same limited edition number on the back.
SS: It's really annoying. There was even - I couldn't believe it - there was a Nurse single that arrived one day. Somebody sent it, and said "I think you ought to see this". It said "United Dairies UD 01 S" and was a tape of me talking to the engineer - that's all it was - and it boasted on the cover "contains original material", and the other side of it was the same thing backwards. It fuckin' pisses me off. It really annoys me. I'm really angry about that! It's pathetic you know. There's been dozens of things like that, a horrible one called "Blood & Biscuits", can you believe it?! If anybody took anything from my music and was creative with it - brilliant, do it - but don't just take the whole lot and rip me off completely!
AF: So, now you were at Coolorta and announced in an interview that you were taking a break from recording for a while, but there would be a few releases to fill the gap.
SS: That's when SUCKED ORANGE came out, and then there was LIVE AT BAR MALDOROR.
SF: Before we get into SUCKED ORANGE, let's go back to the AUTOMATING albums?
SS: They were all the compilation tracks together.
SF: All your favourites?
SS: Just the record compilation tracks. The cassette ones, I lost count, in the first two to three years there must have been around fifty. I sent them out to anybody, many were probably not released. I don't know. I've no idea.
SF: Many are probably rare now.
SS: Probably. But AUTOMATING was just a series of compilation pieces. Nice to keep it tidy.
SF: Then there was volume 2.
SS: The same thing.
SF: But why was the cassette different?
SS: Was it?
SF: Then there's the weird thing, that later versions of the cassette are the same as the LP.
SS: Strange isn't it? I don't know, I can't give a concrete answer on that. It's the way things happen!
AF: At the time the cassette came out, you said that the LP would not be the same.
SS: Did I? But why, I don't remember. I've no recollection whatsoever as to why it should be different.
SF: There was also SCRAG at around the same time.
SS: That was exactly what it was supposed to be, how it was titled, SCRAG was like the first SUCKED ORANGE, pieces that I had on tape for years, and I thought 'I either throw them away or take the best pieces out'. I've got hundreds of tapes. But the thing about SUCKED ORANGE is - it was originally going to be given away free - that some guy said he really liked it and he said 'I'll help you put it out. I'll give you a full colour cover'. The CD of it is ridiculous, I'd never seen such a nicely presented CD! Way over the top! I couldn't have afforded to do anything like that. I just found that all these bits and pieces seemed to work well together. And even today, though it's not my favourite record, it's certainly one I listen to a lot: because you can't get bored with it, it changes all the time.
AF: It works really well on repeat shuffle too!
SS: And that, it works beautifully like that.
AF: You never know what's coming next.
SF: The track Rocket Morton was originally recorded for the A BEAD TO A SMALL MOUTH album on Barooni, wasn't it?
SS: That was going to be on that, but they didn't get it in the end. However, they got a much better track. Rocket Morton was just an experiment really, I read the sleeve notes of the Steve Reich album to see how he did it (his phasing technique that is) and having that as the manual I tried the idea out. I took Beefheart's voice "Rocket Morton" and let it go, recorded several channels of it to see how it phased, and it worked. It's a fabulous thing, I've used the idea so many times now, but you probably don't hear it as that. Kind of shuddering sounds are done like that. It's a wonderful technique.
AF: Since going to Ireland, you've been remarketing a lot of your work with compilations and different versions of things.
SS: Like what?
AF: Like Swamp Rat.
SS: Yes, first it was on DRUNK..., then on a single, and...
SF: Also on SUGAR FISH DRINK.
AF: Are they all the same version?
SS: Basically. You know, I can't help but fiddle with tapes that have been hanging around for a while. I think: "ah, that'd sound nice there, or put a bit in there, slap a few bits in, take a few bits out". Not really a different take, it's exactly the same piece of music with a few seconds extra. I wouldn't recommend anybody to buy them all. The final version is the one on SUGAR FISH DRINK. What I'm trying to do is, I'm trying to tidy up all the loose ends on the CD label. I'm trying to get everything out that deserves to be out.
SF: There was mention of an AUTOMATING 3.
SS: That was all the compilation pieces from A New Dress onwards. It's ready. It was originally going to be a record, but now I'm going to put all three volumes on two CD's. It will be released sometime during the year.
AF: Where did the idea of THUNDER PERFECT MIND come from? And why was it billed as the sister album to the Current 93 album of the same name?
SS: Well, I'd just spent a long time working on the Current 93 album, which was almost completed, and then I went up to Colin's place and started recording my album. While I was up there (in York) I had a really strange dream: I was running down the street with master tapes under my arm, and I was actually delivering them to somebody, and they were called "Thunder Perfect Mind". So then I rang up David, and said "I just had the strangest dream" and told him. He said 'God, that's brilliant, that's definitely the title of my album', and I said 'Well they were my tapes! So it's a Nurse With Wound album title too!' So, that's how it occurred.
SF: Not really any connection between the two albums then?
SS: The only other connection is what we did after the dream, we thought it would be very nice to put a piece of Nurse on the Current one, and a piece of Current on the Nurse one.
SF: A curious thing is the version of Sand's Sarah on the Current 93.
SS: Dave loved the GOLEM album and decided to do that track.
AF: You sometimes put a lot of work into Current 93 recordings, like the studio works on LOONY RUNES. It seems as though you take over completely.
SS: I did there. I was...
AF: You totally hack it to pieces!
SS: What normally happens in a Current session is, I do it as I'm supposed to do it, then I say "Let me have a go" and I do crazy mixes of things. On lots of Current tracks I do really mad crazy mixes, and they don't get released, or very seldom. But those David liked and so they came out.
AF: That was just side 1 of LOONY RUNES, a one-side wonder. At the time you said 'Listen to this, it's the best thing Current 93 have done'.
SS: It was really fun, quite wild isn't it, the way it takes off. I've a feeling that it doesn't take off as much as it ought to have done. But some of those things are so instantaneous, when you do a mix like that you could never repeat it. It's like everything going crazy at once, and trying to control it, or not, and push out of control even further. You set the pans up and say 'Let's go for it' and go really crazy on the mix desk and see what happens. Sometimes it's appalling, but every now and then you get a gem.
SF: Current 93 still issue LP records, why don't you?
SS: It's quite simple really, because it's now very expensive to do, and my sales are so bad, that it's not really worth it.
AF: What does a Nurse album sell?
SS: Well, I asked today, and THUNDER PERFECT MIND sold about four and a half thousand, the Current 93 - last one - sold about fifteen and a half thousand.
AF: I can see why you always wanted to be active with Current 93!
SS: Well I'm a member. Current 93 is basically David and me.
SF: Whereas Nurse With Wound are you and David!
SS: Me and David. Yeah! (laughter)
SF: Alter egos!
SS: Well, with Nurse it's all my ideas with David helping with the music. With Current 93 my position is one of producer and creating the environment for his voice. David is really into what he does, he puts a lot into it. For instance, the new album: LUCIFER OVER LONDON, I think is one of the finest ever productions I've done. What I've done, with Michael Cashmore, is to make a cushion of sound for David's poetry, and it doesn't infringe at all, he's perfectly left to say just what he wants, and the music cushions it. I'm really proud of that album.
AF: What do you think of MALACHAI, which you did with the Legendary Pink Dots?
SS: Bits of that are fun. I liked that. Did you like that?
AF: Oh, yes. It's possibly their best ever.
SS: There's a long track on there, a kind of Faustian track, the one that goes crazy and chaotic (Window on the World). I had to fight to get that on the record, I really had to fight to get that on. Because, what it was, was a short song, and I made it longer, kept doing things to it. And the band were going 'Yeah, brilliant'. But when it finally came to it, Ed rang up and said 'We're really happy with the album, it's really nice, but we don't want that track on it'. And it was my favourite piece on the album! So I rang up Play It Again Sam and I said 'I mixed that record, I own the master tapes, I did the cover. If you want the record to come out - that is going on it!'
CG: So, they bowed down?!
SS: They bowed down. They put it on the CD, but didn't put it on the fuckin' LP. I'm really pissed off with them because of that.
AF: But it's a really good album.
SS: I really loved working with Ed. He's a great guy.
AF: You've known him for a long while haven't you?
SS: Yes, he wrote for Aura magazine. That's how I got to know him.
AF: Phil Burford (who was the publisher) told us about that.
SS: Yeah, we met through Phil Burford really.
AF: He wrote under his real name then: Ed Sharp.
SS: Good old Ed. He's a lovely guy, he's a true artist. He really is. And, yeah, I love working with other bands, because I find you can see things in other people's music far easier than you can see them in your own - you're too close to your own work and can't be objective about it - and collaboration can be fun. There's the Tony Wakeford, then the Tibet one...
AF: But wasn't THE SADNESS OF THINGS collaboration with David just Nurse With Wound under another name?
SS: No, not at all! It started off life as a Current 93 album. It was going to be the follow-up to SWASTIKAS FOR NODDY, and it was because we both worked so close together we decided it wasn't a Current or Nurse album, so...
AF: The second side/track however, was you and Geoff Cox!
SS: But that was kind of like the flip-side, The Sadness of Things was something that David and I created together, what we thought was totally unique. And so that was the title of the record. The other piece was a soundtrack that I and Geoff Cox did for a film by Diana Rogerson, which is a kind of very strange masochistic drama in which people get cheese-grated to death. It's very unpleasant! The actual film I don't like, it's too violent for me.
AF: Talking about films. What type of film is "Lumbs Sister"?
SS: Well, you really ought to be asking Chris Wallis about this, it's his project. It's basically a film about a little girl who remembers a past life. It's a very dreamy, very surreal film. Some great moments. There's one moment where I get bashed on the head with a rock, by David Tibet who plays a viscous soldier. I had to lie in ice-cold water for 2 hours during filming! Several times and takes. It really makes you think about actors in films, and how many times they have to go through horrible scenes. But it's been great fun doing it. I really enjoyed being an actor in the film. It's great to work on (the score of) "Lumbs Sister", because it's really nice putting music to images on the screen, especially as it's all filmed in 16mm, so it's something fairly substantial, not just a video. As to the story, that's totally in Chris' hands, I don't really know very much about it. There's some brilliant scenes, we've had scenes where we've had a dozen horse-drawn wagons with gypsies, got them all together with campfires, all kinds of Irish jigs going on, some really good times. There's some horrible bits too...
SF: Are the whole family involved?
SS: Yeah, the whole family appears in the film.
SF: That's like you keep bringing the family into Nurse With Wound.
SS: Hmmm, they're kind of as much involved as I am. Like I did this record with Stereolab, which was a rhythmic/hard new-wave cum Faust thing, and I was working on it for about a month, night after night, and they have to listen to it - all this noise! They must be part of it, and therefore I credit them as much as possible. Basically, what it boils down to is that Nurse With Wound are Steven Stapleton and whoever I work with. That's it really. It's really great fun when you invite friends down to the studio and something happens, using other peoples talents, 'cause there's lots of things I can't do myself. So, I get other people to contribute ideas. I'm kind of the centre of a fluxus thing, it's always moving around, it could be me and ten people one day, or just me, or it could be...
SF: So, there's a continual influence from outside.
SS: All the time. 'Cause, there's not many Nurse records that are the same. You can nearly always say 'Ah, that's Nurse With Wound', but you can never say 'That album sounds like that album' because I always try every time to do it in different ways. All different recording techniques. But, the ultimate thing is what you get on tape at the end. What you get on tape is totally unique and then you can use it within your music.
SF: When is LUMBS SISTER going to come out?
SS: The soundtrack album by the end of the year, and the film hopefully around the same time.
SF: Will it include all the pieces that have been released before?
SS: Yes. And a lot more. It'll be a double CD, there's about two hours worth of material that was used in the film.
AF: One thing I thought was interesting was a piece of Coil (on the HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS CD released last year) being credited as being in the soundtrack of LUMBS SISTER.
SS: Yeah. I wanted to mix some of their stuff for the film, and that's what I did. I added some pans to it and made a much more tranquil piece, that fitted beautifully with some scenes that Chris Wallis was filming at the time.
SF: Something we've forgotten about is Creakiness.
SS: I really enjoyed that. That was a lovely session. I was in absolute effervescent spirits when I did that.
AF: You'd obviously been watching a lot of cartoons before doing it!
SS: That's right. It was a lovely thing to do. I was really into making something that was happy, joyous and full of surprises.
AF: Lots of Tex Avery and other cartoon sound effects used, like Roadrunner and Screwy Squirrel.
SS: I love those cartoons. I really do!
SF: But, that record was an odd coupling.
SS: The band called Spasm, they were friends of mine. What they were doing was half recorded, and they said 'Come along and help us out', and it was a shitty studio, everything was awkward. It was above a sewerage station! It was amazing we got anything decent out of it all. They asked me to be the producer, as they didn't have any money, and I quite liked it, so I backed it with Nurse With Wound.
AF: How did the other half and half album come about? The one with Organum.
SS: David Jackman asked me to mix some of his pieces. He's a good friend of mine, and I liked what he did, I liked his music, and so that was that. We played together once, and that was the track Human Human Human (which can be heard on AUTOMATING VOLUME 2) which is a version of one of my favourite ever singles, by a band called Another Band.
SF: So, you like releasing singles?
SS: If somebody asks me for a single and there's a little bit of tape left over I would give it to them. Some of them I prepared a bit, like the one given away with PTOLEMAIC TERRASCOPE magazine. I put quite a bit of work into that, Red Flipper was like a shortened version of Creakiness.
SF: There's also the Eddie Prévost/Organum release on Silent, where you get credited as playing metal chair!
SS: Well, there's two things I've always played on every single Nurse With Wound record from the beginning. There's a metal chair and a squeaky chair castor. They sometimes play major roles, sometimes minor, but they've been on every single record. There's obviously been the odd track that hasn't, but always on the album.
AF: That's what's known as the squeaky Nurse sound!
SS: It is, yeah - a chair castor and a very rusty metal chair! I'll tell you an amusing story, how I got the chair which became the foundation of the Nurse With Wound sound. When I was working as a graphic designer and sign-writer. I was employed by Hipgnosis - the cover design company - to help paint designs for Pink Floyd's ANIMALS cover. I was involved in painting the pig and things like that. I was in their office one day and Sleazy Christopherson - yep, the guy from Throbbing Gristle - and I sat down on this chair. I turned and it squeaked, and you could control it. I got talking, saying that I make experimental music, and that, this chair, the sound it makes is amazing! They laughed a little and, I suppose to humour me, they said 'Go on, take it away with you - you can have it', and it's stayed with me ever since. Thank you Pink Floyd - that's all I can say!
AF: So, there's that, and the way you displace sounds, that have become something uniquely Nurse With Wound.
SS: Yeah, like shifting, something leaping up in your face, and...
AF: Like on that track on the new album, where you've got a rhythm going, and the sounds that slam in from each sound are not what you'd expect. Kind of shock tactics!
SS: The whole thing is like seeing a piece of music visually, and not thinking of it as a film, but seeing it visually, and imagining what you would like to be there, and just doing it, creating the picture.
AF: Like with Tony Wakeford, there's this haunting melody which becomes hacked-up by wedges of sound. It's almost blinding.
SS: It's kinda nice working with a musician who can make those nice simple melodies. I like surprise in music. But, the sad thing is, when you make the music yourself you know all the surprises. I'd really love to listen to a new Nurse With Wound record without knowing it. Because then, for the first time in my life, I could be objective about it. So, I just try all the time, things that are different, I never record the same way...
AF: But there's that Nurse With Wound sound, even on ROCK 'N ROLL STATION!
SS: That's just me, isn't it! I can't get rid of that. It's like a painter who has a style, a brush stroke, you recognise it.
SF: So, what about the new album? The ideas behind it?
SS: The album came about because of a dream I had, with Joe Meek, Jac Berrocal, myself and Graham Bond, who were in the grounds of a very expensive, very large house. We were pleasantly talking as if we were friends, and we got into a discussion about bicycle maintenance, and ends up with an argument over a puncture repair kit. Then suddenly all four of us were lying on the ground, naked in a circle, with our legs to the centre and pointing our penises at Venus. And that was the dream. I thought a lot about that dream. There's a track on the album called The Two Golden Microphones which is a dream a guy called Pete Brown had about Graham Bond. It was almost as though telepathic messages were sent over to Colin, I said 'I want you to make this out of the pieces of music' - I'd started an album with Colin that was never finished - and he sent me some vague mixes which were just what I had in mind. So, from that basis, I started putting the album together. I was really affected by the life of Graham Bond, by his biography. A strange thing happened, that when I started reading the book, at Finsbury Park station, and I realised I was sitting on the same platform on which he killed himself. I thought there's something meaningful here. Actually, the whole album's about Graham Bond. I wanted to do a few experiments with rhythm, and they ended up on there, like The Self Sufficient Sexual Shoe track, and I always had a great love for Jac Berrocal's Rock 'n Roll Station, which I think is an absolute masterpiece - I could never better it. It's a homage to a great piece of music.
AF: It's a vast change of direction, almost commercial. It could almost be called weird ambient-house!
SS: I wonder if it will sell more?
SF: That will be interesting to see.
SS: But, back to what you said (before the interview), I hadn't heard any ambient-house, I'm not in the position to do so. But, if it's like ambient-house music then give me more!
SF: Was your knowledge of Graham Bond a recent discovery?
SS: Yes, it was. I'd heard of the guy, I'd seen his albums around, but never heard his music. Then David said 'You've got to read this', so I did, and it had a very dramatic effect on me. I'd never read a biography like it. So, I wanted to do something associated with it.
SF: So, the next Nurse album is going to be a "real" rock album?
SS: Yes, it's three-piece rock, me and some guys that I know, it's a guitar/bass/drums album, a bit like Guru Guru's HINTEN crossed with someone like Planxty, lots of Irish jigs and tunes over quite manic rock. That's nearly finished. It's all recorded. I've just got to mix it.
CG: And give it that Nurse With Wound sound.
SS: There's lots of my touches all over. It's an album I've been working on for a year now. A motherfuckin' album it is! Tasty licks all over it.
SF: Who plays drums?
SS: A guy called Peat Bog. He's a lovely guy. He's in love with my stepdaughter Ruby. He's a very gifted musician.
SF: And, the guitarist?
SS: Peat plays some, and so do I. You see, I can make a noise out of anything. When it's in an abstract setting you don't have to be a musician. It's the sound that's more important than the musicianship.
AF: Based on that, it's hard to imagine it sounding like Guru Guru!
SS: And, it doesn't sound like Nurse With Wound!
SF: What about the future of Nurse With Wound? Any ideas?
SS: There's a few live things lined-up, nothing certain yet. Then there's the rock album I was telling you about. I'm doing lots of production work for various other bands, like a new Current 93 single and album, and there's an album by Nature Organisation which should be out fairly soon. I'm doing a collaboration with Christoph Heemann (of H.N.A.S.) - he's a very sweet man, very creative. Lots of things really.
ROCK 'N' ROLL STATION (United Dairies UD 039) CD 59m
Well, what are you to expect from the new Nurse With Wound offering? I don't think you'd expect an album that opens with a lazy techno-house-rap version of Jac Berrocal's Rock 'n' Roll Station, but why not? I was quite startled to say the least, and even moreso by what followed. Like The Self Sufficient Sexual Shoe, an electro-dub number which sounds not too far from Throbbing Gristle's Hot on the Heels of Love, and if you think about it the titles also have much in common! In Two Golden Microphones we at last reach something typically NWW, the first 3 minutes offer a swirling montage of sounds that eventually subside as a conga rhythm grows, the effect is kinda like Cabaret Voltaire's Western Mantra, with the addition of female chants and didgeridoo. Then in contrast, it's back to hybrid ambient-house territory, an Enigma style rhythm, but with off-the-wall fly-in-you-face screeches of sound instead of the melodies or gothic choirs you'd expect from Enigma. Weird disco music? Indeed! Similarly danceable is R+B Through Collis Browne, though much more raw with abrasive Chrome-like guitars, almost rap music believe it or not.
Saving the best till last, Finsbury Park, May 8th, 1.35pm (I'll See You in Another World) is the key track in the story about the album which Steven described in the interview. With a stuttering heart-beat like rumble, joined by swirling sounds suggestive of tube trains hurtling through tunnels, the effect strangely recalls The Visitations from White Noise's AN ELECTRIC STORM, though later as the sound wedges become more intensive and radical we move much closer to musique-concret territory, well away from rock music of any description.
So, despite being totally unexpected, ROCK 'N' ROLL STATION is quite revolutionary, especially in how Steven has twisted and manipulated popular music styles to create something of his own. Of course, it could also be seen as a sell-out, an attempt to sell more albums. Maybe, maybe not. It's still much too weird a record to be played at your local high street disco!
Article / interview by Alan & Steve Freeman
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