It seems you rarely appear at public / media events. I was thinking that you may be at the MTV Europe Music Awards but I haven’t seen you there either this or last year. Are you ignoring those events or is it because you haven’t been invited? Or were you there but just didn’t appear on TV? Do you plan to attend this year?

It would take a lot to get me to go to one of those ‘award ceremonies’ – I really hate them and I don’t want to be any part of them. They are always surrounded by hypocracy – this media ‘let’s all pat each other on the back’ is meaningless and doesn’t do anything for the vast majority of music which never gets any airtime on MTV. How can people vote for music if they’ve never been exposed to it?

Being a creative person, how difficult was it for you to stand out from the crowd and what are your helpful tips on staying sane in an insane world….or perhaps, staying insane in a sane world?

At school, I was never particularly academic. During my teens, I couldn’t take schooling seriously (although I’d love to go back and really learn now) – it wasn’t what I needed at the time. My mind would wander. The only thing I excelled at was music which obviously worked on a much more subconscious level, although both my brothers were (are) much better musicians. I’ve never felt I stood out from the crowd and I don’t particularly want to. Arrogant as it may sound, I always had total conviction that I would get somewhere in the music business. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I was initially attracted by the fact that you didn’t have to get up early 😉 As for remaining sane – I had a loving and stable upbringing which has left me with my feet on the ground – I don’t let many things get to me and my ego’s reasonably under control (I think).

What do you tell people who blow off non-mainstream music such as yours?` Rather, what should *I* tell them? I can never come up with anything harsh or convincing enough.

Don’t beat around the bush. A simple ‘Fuck off’ should do it.

I’ve always had the idea that I shouldn’t try to write a melody that I can’t write down on the musical staff. I have minimal musical training. Should I stick to this principle or just screw it and try to keep writing anyway?

Just do what you feel like.

As to your growing dislike of ‘Q’ (and mine, I might add), do you think it’s got anything to do with many of the new journalists coming from the NME?

I’m sure it has. Such a shame that the (once good) mag. has to resort to snide, cynical, ill-informed, childish comment. Gives contemporary music a bad name.

Do you think it is a shame that since Capital FM took over XFM, they have imposed a 24 hour playlist and removed the specialist shows? And more importantly (for me anyway) the D.J.’s who played new band’s demos have been relegated to the graveyard shift or removed entirely?

So much music, so few stations playing it. XFM promised so much but has already gone the way of many stations before it. . Did you know that Capital has about 98% of the London listenership? GLR has about 2%. That just about sums it up really – don’t take any risks, appeal to the lowest common denominator and improve your listening figures. I prefer GLR, Radio 5 (sport), Radio 3 and Test Match special. I won’t listen to Radio 1 (apart from John Peel) or Capital because of their playlist attitude.

I’m a huge Curve fan – what’s your opinion on ‘Come Clean’. Don’t you think it’s frustrating, moving to a major record label (Universal) and getting really CRAP marketing and airplay from them, compared to time on the “small” Dave Stewart label Anxious Records?

It’s frustrating for any artist who gets little or no record company backing, when you see the crap that is marketed to saturation. There is so much good music out there but you have to wade through Puff Daddy and Texas before you stand any chance of hearing about it.

I also read on one of the Curve fans webpages, that they are planning to re-release the album with some different tracks. Who recommended that marketing move?

I can’t speak for them. I have no idea what their plan is.

I compose instrumental electronic music but cannot read notes. In addition, my music is not particularly commercial. I would describe it as very melodic, harmonic and rhythmic. What advice can you give me to become successful in the music business with music that does not sound commercial and without having any contacts?

That’s a toughie……have lots of faith, and something to fall back on.

Can you recommend a good book on the international business of music?

I’ve never read one.

Please name a lesson or two you’ve learned about the music business.|

Firstly, don’t take it seriously -it’s fickle. Enjoy the fruits it has to offer to the full – it may not last. Retain your integrity, no matter what. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t take any shit from Record Companies and journalists. Loyalty to those who have genuinely helped you goes a long way.

What would you do if you were an amateur musician who wanted to start a music career?

Depends what you want to do. The studio route I took certainly gave me a good grounding and taught me about hard work and dedication.

I write electronic music and funded my own release last year until the distributor backed out at the last minute. Since then my confidence seems to have dropped slightly and although my dream of releasing my own material is still very strong, I do get depressed about it. I know deep down it’s silly and it’s my one and only ambition but you must have been through similar experiences or felt stuck at times?

There are many things that can cause one to feel depressed and jaded by life in this business – for me the biggest frustration is hearing people say they want to listen to Recoil but haven’t been able to find the records in the shops. This makes you think, why the hell do I bother?

As more and more artists / bands decide to be interactive with their fans via the internet and questions are answered directly by the artists, what kind of impact do you think this will have on music journalism? I mean, who the hell wants to read an interview with some journalist who misinterprets or deliberately misconstrues quotes in order to “sell” his magazine, when you can ask the artists directly?

You’re quite right although I don’t think there are that many artists who would be prepared to be as ‘hands on’. Funnily enough, people still question some of the content of Shunt and have suggested that it doesn’t come directly from me but from a team of webmasters, so it seems that you can’t win either way!

As a sound designer and composer, my technical skills have excelled greatly over the years but my musical skills I feel have suffered immensely. My music theory has become foreign to me and my keyboard skills have become tainted. Would you say your piano skills have improved, suffered or stayed about the same over the years? And do you think musicians today are spoiled by technology? I know I am.

Both Hep and myself are seriously out of practice (playing the piano) and although we have a piano in our bedroom and play most days, it’s not the same as good, solid practice. It can be really depressing picking up a piece of music you used to play as a child, and finding you can no longer play it! My theory skills are pretty good because I use them daily when I’m working.

I am a typical musician who cannot play without notes. I cannot imagine being in a band – giving live concerts – performing all these tracks by ear! Have you ever had difficulties with this?

I’m the opposite. My sight reading is poor (mainly through lack of practice) but It’s never been a problem for me to play by ear or from memory. I’ve always been able to improvise quite easily. Also, when you’ve worked on a song for a year in the studio, then rehearsed it for weeks and eventually played it night after night on various tours, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to forget (as much as you may want to) 😉

I found a 1983 article about you and it says that you would have started a film making career if you hadn’t found a music business job. Is this true and did you have concrete plans?

No – I never had any plans of that nature.

Would you ever consider doing guest lectures?

To whom and about what – Football? Vodka?

Is there anything you would change about the way you broke into the music business?

Not really. I had to pay my dues by making tea for people in studios (for no money) and slumming around the toilets of England in various unknown bands for a few years but I still enjoyed it and, more importantly, it made me appreciate success much more when it came.

Have you ever been to Berklee College Of Music Clinic before? I go there in September to study Music Synthesis and Music production and Engineering. What do you think about these careers?

I don’t have any personal experience of music production and engineering courses at universities but Hep does. She says they can be useful in some areas but you can’t beat hands-on experience in a real studio environment. As for a career in this field, there’s a lot of competition and you have to be very dedicated to be successful.

I am currently in a band and we are very interested in covering ‘2 Minute Warning’ or ‘Landscape Is Changing’. How do we go about getting the copyrights?

You don’t need copyrights to do a cover – the rights always remain with the original record company and/or artist.

What is your true opinion of videos? – i.e., do you think they spoil the ‘aura’ of the music?

Even the best videos get boring quickly. I would usually prefer just to see the artist / band performing. Far too much money is spent on directors practising their trade on pop records.

I saw you mention Spinal when asked whether you’d be playing live with DM again, if asked. How many times have you seen ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ and do you recognise yourself? In what scene(s) and does this fact embarrass you?!?

‘This Is Spinal Tap’ is a requirement on every tour bus so I’ve seen it more times than I care to remember. Also, anyone who’s ever been in a band or gone on the road has experienced some, if not all, of the situations portrayed in the film and met most of the characters.

What has been a highlight of your career as a musician? Are you glad you aspired to become such?

Our first No.1 in Germany (‘People Are People’) was quite exciting at the time, 70,000 people at the Rose Bowl comes to mind, as well as 17,000 turning up at the Wherehouse and perhaps ‘Violator’ topping the charts world-wide. Of course, these aren’t really measures of success, they’re just nice things to happen to you. On a musical level, predictably enough, I think my best work is ‘Unsound Methods’ and I’m proud of elements of the later DM albums.

What do you think of the music industry nowadays? Do you really think that young artists that try to make different and non-commercial music are encouraged to do so? Have you ever planned to create your own label to produce your music and to promote new artists?

It’s always been, and still is, very difficult for young, innovative artists to break through. Manufactured ‘pop’ is bigger business now than ever. To run my own label sounds like far too much work.

How do you see music changing over the next 15 years?

I’ve no idea. Probably more of the same old crap we are all used to. Make way for ‘Toddlerzone’ or ‘Spice Embreoz’….

What event/band/technology has changed your music the most?

Probably the advent of the sampler.

Have you ever had the idea to produce a very long, involved piece of music – something in the order of 30 – 40 minutes? Brian Eno, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream and The Orb have all done some interesting things with this genre of “long” form music. I truly enjoy it when an artist goes “out on a limb” and does something experimental.

Nothing wrong with being experimental. Self indulgent – that’s another thing. I don’t have rules about track length or, for that matter, style. I think it’s actually a bit too easy to just knock out an instrumental LP and then call it “experimental”

In your opinion, does ‘good’ music necessarily involve good technique? Do you admire (or have been somehow captivated by) any band which you do not regard as really talented musicians (in the technical sense)?

I don’t think you necessarily need musical training although it can obviously help but you definitely need good ideas to make good music. There are countless ‘technically proficient’ musicians without a single good idea between them. On the other hand, someone like Flood for example has loads of ideas but I don’t think he’d call himself a musician as such. Same probably applies to Geoff Barrow from Portishead.

Would you be bothered if you ever heard DM / Recoil music being used as elevator muzak?

I have already heard DM Muzak in Asian hotels and I would derive much perverse pleasure from hearing Recoil in the Travel Tavern, Stoke-on-Trent.

How have your musical ambitions changed over the past years?

My ambition has always been to be in a situation where I can make and release records on my own terms. I’m now lucky enough to be realising that ambition.

What is your general opinion and experience of the music biznizz: Is it really that corrupt and drug-related as they say?


When a band / singer releases a new album, do you also buy the singles?

Not usually. I’m the mug who buys the album on the strength of a single only to be disappointed by the rest of the LP.

Looking at the current simplicity of commercial pop-music, wouldn’t it be just great fun and subversive for a person with your possibilities and connections to just take some underdressed girls, take some thrown-aside happy tune from one of your old hard-disks, hire a good video-director and see how the product climbs the charts world-wide?

Not for me it wouldn’t.

I have been collecting DM since 1985 and have more than 550 copies of original Mute releases. Now it’s hard to find something new. I was also offered a gold UK disc for ‘101’, given to a Mr. Mick Patterson. Price: £650. Please tell me something about the awards, amounts and what’s counting for you?

Presentation discs are usually pressed up to denote significant record sales (50,000, 100,000, 500,000 and so on) and are typically given to band members and record company employees who were directly involved in selling / marketing the records (e.g. Mick Patterson, ex-Mute press). Quite often, extra discs are made to give to other people by way of recognition for their help and hard work and to studios where the music was recorded. I’ve been lucky enough to have received many of these over the years but always felt it to be somewhat ostentatious to display them. Aside from my mother, who has one or two to show the neighbours, the majority have remained unopened, in their original cardboard boxes and currently reside in my strongroom along with Recoil master tapes, photographs and other memorabilia. I do know that there are quite a few discs that have been presented to me over the years that, for one reason or another, have gone missing. You’ve probably got one 😉

Do you feel that you have shown the critics that you can manage on your own as a ‘popstar’?

I don’t think of myself as a popstar and I’m not out to prove myself to anyone in particular. You have to satisfy yourself, it’s the only thing that’s really important.

What bands influenced you most growing up and during your musical career?

It’s hard to say really. I particularly liked David Bowie and The Beatles and later on, Kraftwerk.

What’s the worst thing that has ever been printed/said about you by the popular media and are you bothered by media criticism?

Naturally, personal attacks are hurtful but misrepresentation is probably the worse. For example, in one article relating to the release of ‘Ultra’, the journalist (who I had recently refused an interview) included a Depeche Mode discography and maliciously made a point of referring to the fact that there weren’t any of my songs on the albums after ‘Some Great Reward’ implying that I’d obviously written hundreds but they were all rejected. That said, it’s a well-known fact that most journalists are failed musicians who’d desperately like to be on the other side of the microphone, so you should never let them get under your skin.

As a guy who bravely left his prior successful band to pursue his own career interests, do you have any words of advice for Ginger Spice in her currently similar situation?(hahahahahahahhhhh!!)

Now, go and get what you really, really want……..Zig a zig doh!

Does it bother you that Radio 1 won’t play your singles?

Not unduly although Radio 1 bothers me in general. In particular that so few unqualified radio producers within the BBC hold so much power in deeming what is acceptable for the nation to listen to – it’s tantamount to censorship from a ‘nanny state’ – the BBC don’t have the nickname ‘auntie’ for nothing. There is a vast array of music that never gets a look in on national radio which I think is a great shame. Peoples tastes are much more varied than they are given credit for and to make vast generalisations about what people will or will not want to listen to, is extremely arrogant.

Certain members of DM keep emphasising that they are not at all influenced by the contemporary music scene. Would you say that this is a realistic claim?

I’d say it’s virtually impossible not to be influenced by what’s around you, in a positive and negative way.

In a rockumentary shown on German TV, you said that your goal is ‘to make the perfect record” What would you consider as a perfect record (it’s subjective, isn’t it ?) and how far do you think you have got in reaching this goal?

Obviously, I can never reach that goal. There is no perfect record, but the idea that you can strive for one drives you on to better what you have done before.

Have you got any clues as to why certain so-called “rock stars” become completely arrogant and obviously lose control of their actions, while others remain fairly modest and seem to be very conscious about how lucky they are and what they have achieved in their lives?

Not really. It’s a simple question of intelligence, I suppose.

Your music and almost all others borrow from some other style or time period. Do you think there is a chance that someone will create something unto itself or different in the music world that we have never heard before?

Or in other words, what’s the next big thing? Who knows eh….

I enjoy sequencing/recording music in my bedroom studio, with minimal equipment. Being in the music industry as long as you have, what advice would you give someone trying to break into it?

It’s a very hard business; you need dedication and commitment and a good dose of luck. If your product is original and unique, you’ll probably have more long-term success than if you’re just jumping on the latest band wagon.

Do you despair at the charts?

What do you think?

Do you find it hard to listen to music by other artists without analysing it and mentally taking it apart?

On the contrary, I allow music to wash over me emotionally first and it’s only when something really grabs my attention (either good or bad) that I start to look deeper into its construction.

The college radio station I work for recently pulled your song ‘Luscious Apparatus’ from its playlist due to complaints from our Christian Communications Faculty that the song was deemed too “perversely suggestive” to be publicly broadcast on campus. Naturally I’m pissed off that this sort of conservative censorship still exists but have you had to deal with any such artistic freedom issues throughout your career as well?

Over the years I’ve encountered censorship on many levels and only occasionally (unfortunately) to the point where it’s actually worked in our favour – such as ‘Blasphemous Rumours’ and ‘Personal Jesus’. It more commonly comes in the form of being quietly ignored by those people with far too much power and not enough understanding that the public are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves what they want to listen to.

What’s your opinion concerning musicians who decide to suddenly take up acting, and vice-versa?

Ouch… Messers Sumner, Jagger and Bowie have a lot to answer for. I thought Don Johnson had a terrific voice though…………….. not !

As a musician, do you feel that writing some tracks with lyrics and some as pure instrumentals should be done intentionally in order to reach different musical environments?

It is a mistake to try to predict and write for a particular market. I think integrity is the key word. Stick with what you’re good at and don’t be swayed by the latest trend. I never consciously set out to write in a particular style.

I noticed that you mentioned Pip Dann as the interviewer on your E.P.K. and I remember her doing a great DM special with you and Gahan on MTV in 1988. I was wondering if you have any music journalist that you like and respect and if bad reviews influence which journalists you wish to talk to? It does seem as though there are a lot of sleezeballs in the industry.

There are good and bad journalists, of course. The best of them never seem to resort to personal attacks, preferring to stick to what they’re supposed to be reviewing – the music. If a journalist has made snide personal comments about me, I won’t talk to them in the future (and believe me, they do have the gall to still ask for interviews). Pip is really nice and I actually requested her for the Recoil E.P.K. having remembered her from the piece you’re referring to.

Do you, in anyway, feel pressured to be commercial in your music, as you have a family to support or did your years in Depeche Mode make you economically independent?

As I’ve said before, my years in DM have been very good to me and I enjoy a privileged lifestyle. This great advantage allows me the freedom to do exactly what I want with Recoil.

I’m trying to get into a school for sound engineering…. Do you know of any good schools in England?

Personally I would get your training from real experience in a commercial studio rather than trying to ‘learn’ in a classroom. Working in this area of music entails so much more than simply twiddling knobs and knowing how to mic up a band. You’ll have to start at the bottom – making the tea and being abused by producers – but you’ll learn so much more than you would at any school.

It must be interesting to lyrically explore the darker sides of some peoples minds. Even though it works, do you not sometimes find it disturbing going into these areas? Do you sometimes wonder that it might disturb others?

Well, art should always be challenging in some way or another, shouldn’t it? Life is disturbing.

When you were in the early stages of your career, did you have a sort of back- up job to pay the bills or did you just leap into music without any cares of where it might lead? If you ever did have any doubts, what would you say was the most difficult period of your career? Pre-Depeche? Early Depeche?

I was always very single-minded about what I wanted to do from the day I got my first job at DJM Studios (I wrote to every studio in London) and, as arrogant as it sounds, I always had absolute conviction that I’d be able to forge a career for myself in music. That kind of belief came with my youth – I probably wouldn’t be so confident now.

Would you ever join M.A.C.O.S.? (Musicians Against Copywriting Of Samples)

I doubt it.

Given the state of censorship in the UK, how much worse do you think it’s going to get?

It’s not as bad as the problem in the States.

I’ve listened to Massive Attack’s new album and I like it but it’s really pissed me off how much critical acclaim it’s received compared to some of the narrow minded reviews you received. Does it bother you to see things like this from muso journalists?

No-one likes bad press but if you’ve read Q + A recently you’ll know my opinion on most music journalists.

What do you think of the new single chart rules?

Well, if the new rules do away with the plethora of god-awful remixes, then it’s ok with me. I hate the ‘quantity over quality’ attitude.

You definitely found some of your inspiration in repetitive music from people like Philip Glass especially in the first track of your first Recoil album. I was wondering whether you felt part of a particular music force in the 20th century beyond pop music?

No, I wouldn’t presume to be so arrogant. I just make the kind of music I like to listen to and I don’t really worry about where it fits in. In fact, I think it’s almost impossible to pigeon-hole Recoil because it’s such a synthesis of so many different styles – a marketing man’s nightmare.

Do you feel that the layer of technology between you and the sound reaches its limits sometimes? If a system allowed you to manipulate sounds in a more direct way (i.e. using a data glove for instance), do you think it could change your perception of what a sound is and what you could do with it? In other words, do you think one could eventually consider sound as another “physical” material that one could sculpt or do you think the layer of technology will always prevent it?

Er, I try to avoid going that far up my arse….. 😉

Are you interested in Audio / Visual composition and other forms of performing art?

Yes, as long as it doesn’t go the way of my previous answer.

Do you feel that the availability of the Internet will eventually lead to the disappearance of big record companies if musicians can distribute their work directly to consumers? How do you anticipate this potential revolution and what do you think about issues of royalties and copyrights in this potential new market?

There are a lot of copyright problems that would need to be addressed and, as I’ve said before, the internet is surely the future for selling products on a world-wide basis. Problem is, to be perfectly frank, I doubt a lot of ‘pop stars’ could find their way to switching on a computer, let alone operating a distribution network. They’d have to have a team of people to deal with the business side of things, someone to physically press up the c.d.’s, marketing ideas people etc…. Call those people a Record company – and you’re back where you started. Oh, what an old cynic I am…..

I, as a deaf fan, can only gather the beats out of music which yours is just too perfect for. Did you ever have something in mind about doing music “audible” to my kind of people?

Can’t say I’ve ever really considered it. Glad you can hear the beats though. Hopefully, there’ll be plenty of vibrations on the new LP for you 🙂 Some great composers were deaf of course – Beethoven for example. Do you fill in the blanks by imagining the rest of the music?

I, as a deaf fan, can only gather the beats out of music which yours is just too perfect for. Did you ever have something in mind about doing music “audible” to my kind of people?

Can’t say I’ve ever really considered it. Glad you can hear the beats though. Hopefully, there’ll be plenty of vibrations on the new LP for you 🙂 Some great composers were deaf of course – Beethoven for example. Do you fill in the blanks by imagining the rest of the music?

I spoke to someone recently with connections in the music business and they said they could get hold of an advance promo. copy of any album – obviously I asked about Recoil and he said, “No problem.” How do you feel about fans getting their grubby mits on your record pre-release and how will you stop them passing it around all their mates?

Obviously, it’s very difficult to stop people obtaining promo. copies once they’re in circulation (which is absolutely necessary for licensees and press) but I feel that anyone who uploads any audio files or artwork to the internet without my permission, no matter how well-intentioned they think their actions are, is being grossly disloyal. So, I make a heartfelt plea on this ‘ere forum: Please do not do anything of this nature regarding any of the material from the forthcoming ‘Liquid’ LP that will jeopardise the marketing strategy we have planned and ultimately ruin the enjoyment of the record for others. If this gentle approach doesn’t work then let me put it this way: Anyone who does upload anything is in breech of copyright and will be dealt with by Mute’s legal department to the full extent of the law (not to mention Frank and Miguel’s personal visit to your home).

Do you remember the very first time you were doing a song/track with your first band? And how did it turn out?

It was called ‘Misbehavin’ (The Dragons) and appeared as a single on DJM records in about 1977. Sort of ‘soft rock’.

I was wondering, how did you survive financially pre-DM? Was it beans and toast in a floorless flat? And where’s Stan and how is he doing? Has he gotten into trouble lately?

I did live in a floorless building once, in Hammersmith, much to my mother’s dismay. Didn’t bother me though. I drew the dole, did the odd session but always had (almost arrogant) faith that I would land on my feet. Haven’t seen Stan for a while. I think he’s in New York.

On ‘Bloodline’ you did this fantastic track, ‘Electro Blues For Bukka White’, built on vocals from an old blues track, complete with totally new music and arrangements. Then Moby did exactly the same all through his latest album, ‘Play’ and since he also worked on ‘Bloodline’, it makes sense to think that he actually got the idea there and then. It puzzles me that the press, especially in the UK, talk about this particular idea like it’s the smartest thing since sliced bread – I mean, YOU did it for the 1st time 7 years ago and I don’t recall them taking any notice. Not the 1st time this type of thing happens to you and Depeche, but still…

Listen, I certainly wouldn’t claim to have pioneered such an idea but don’t expect the press to give credit where it’s due – they’re always the last to catch on to anything.

It has been my sad misfortune to have to endure muzak-ed versions of DM tracks (usually ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Enjoy The Silence’, though I swear I heard ‘Everything Counts’ recently), while grocery shopping. Just wondering how you feel about this completely uncalled for bastardization of your musical talents. (Have yet to hear a Recoil track put through the ‘101’ Strings treatment, so it seems as if, at least for now, your own compositions are safe).

Actually, I’d be most intrigued to hear Recoil muzak’d. Surely a sign that one had truly crossed over.

I asked a question a while back, relating to the UK music press and ‘Q’ magazine in particular. You seemed to agree with me that ‘Q’ has gone downhill since it started but what I now find depressing is that I have sampled the rest and it’s still the best bloody mag 🙁

Don’t bother with any of them – they all have such a narrow bandwidth. Try some on-line music news sites. Generally, I’m finding that only on the internet can you get a full picture and hear more diverse music etc. Music magazines, with their tunnel vision, sell less and less copies these days and I, for one, have no sympathy for any of them.

I noticed in the archives that you mention how loud it is on stage during concerts. After playing live for so many years do you (or Hep, for that matter) have any residual hearing problems?

About quarter past four.

English critics….it’s a real enigma to me why they had, have and I’m sure, will continue to have such a strange attitude to people like you or dM – I mean, really independent musicians? Are you not British enough or what?

I can’t really tell you why the English press are the way they are. There is a perverse pleasure in put-down that pervades the mentality. It seems to be across the board from the tabloids up and doesn’t just affect Indie musicians. Everybody is considered fair game at some point or other.

Several months ago I watched ‘Depeche Mode: Behind the Music’ on VH1 and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, it has never aired since and you can’t even purchase a video of it. By contrast, they run the Bee Gee’s or David Cassidy almost once a week!! I am not alone in my views – see VH1’s bulletin board. What is your take of this situation and what do you think your fans should do about it?

Believe me, I sympathise with you Melissa. I’m sick to death of turning on VH1 and seeing the same old crap day after day – if the schedulers think over-exposure to the Bee Gees or David Cassidy is what music fans want, or need, then there’s little hope for any of us. Unfortunately I can’t think of much you can do except not watch them and give them your support – I watch M2 now because it’s the only channel that plays anything half-decent, but even they’re starting to creep back into old habits.

Why do musicians choose Mac’s over PC’s?

Because they work better with most sequencers.

I often wondered how this royalty business is handled. Everyone knows that the songwriter gets the major amount of the money from the record sales but what about other band members? What about a vocalist who doesn´t write the songs but only sings them (like in DM´s case)? How much will a band member get who´s hardly involved in the creative process or someone like a bass player or drummer who just plays what he’s told?

Royalty distributions vary from band to band – there’s no fixed system. In DM’s case, the publishing royalties go to whoever wrote the song (and are obviously split if there was more than one writer). Record royalties are divided equally between all group members at the time of the recording. By contrast, a group like Pulp for example, divides both performance AND publishing exactly 5 ways even though Jarvis Cocker pens the lyrics. Other groups have different arrangements. Interestingly, 3 members of Spandau Ballet recently sued songwriter, Gary Kemp, for non-payment of ‘promised’ publishing monies. Apparantly, in the early days, Gary agreed (verbally) to split the publishing. They lost their case because the judge didn’t want to set a precedent.

I seem to sense an almost divine cynic in your views of today’s artists and industry. Would you say that Recoil throws a proper wrench into the gears of the mainstream?

More of a screwdriver than a wrench.

Alan, how would you describe the 80’s decade musically? In an interview, you said it would take at least a decade of hindsight to make a judgement. Any thoughts?

I don’t regard it with the same nostalgia that I have for the 70’s (my teenage years) but Hep (who is younger than me) does. To me, the 80’s were mostly a period of musical stagnation, dodgy drum machines and Kajagoogoo. I might need another 10 years to see the good bits.

I have great respect for you and your work. I also write music which I guess you can call industrial or darkwave but being in the electronic music scene, I have noticed that women have a real hard time being taken seriously. It’s almost like it’s just a guy thing and girls are not hardcore enough to be in an industrial band. What is your opinion on this and what do think could help change this?

Yes, despite the fact that there are thousands of female singers and musicians, I’ve only ever come across one or two female sound engineers for example, and I can’t think of even one female record producer. Why is this? I don’t know. Could it be to do with an answer I gave before about male/female brain patterns? As for women in industrial bands – I can’t even think of an example. Seems to me that many male ‘industrial’ bands aren’t taken seriously either.

Would you have any idea how ‘limited’ or ‘extra limited’ a release is? Are there actually substantially lower numbers produced of the L and XL formats as opposed to the standard release?

‘Limited’ does usually mean ‘limited’ but by how much and for how long really depends on the motives behind the limitation in the first place. There are no rules as such. Often, records are initially only ‘limited’ for a certain time period.

When you look back over your career with DM and Recoil, is there anything that makes you really, really cringe?

How long have you got?

As I’m a musician by myself, I’m interested to know how would you react if somebody sent you a noisy, bit low-fi sounding tape of classical / electronic pop music? Would you judge it by the sound quality and it’s musical style, which is perhaps a bit too close to what you’ve done for 15 years, or would you say: “Don’t mind the sound or the style as long as it’s interesting and unique and can move or impress me”?

I’d like to think that I’m open to all sorts of musical styles so I wouldn’t dismiss anything just because it perhaps wasn’t my favourite genre. And, as I’ve also said, I don’t judge a demo on how slick it sounds- it’s ideas that count, not expensive studio tricks. Similarly, I’m not adverse to music that has Mode or Recoil influences, but I like to hear originality and not a direct copy.

Would you choose to reject a remix if it is not according to your ‘music line’?

Yes – with DM and Recoil, remixes have been rejected. With DM it was often difficult because we invariably had 4 different opinions plus lots of pressure to release many different versions. I’m sorry to say that some mixes got accepted that really shouldn’t have been.

If one wished to perform a live version of ‘Faith Healer’ (the Recoil version of course) what loopholes would one have to jump through in order to get permission to use it? And what fees would have to be paid? Or could one even get permission to do it? One hopes to perform it once or twice while playing a few local clubs in the near future, but doesn’t want to break copyright law, get thrown in the slammer, and have other scary things happen to him.

Well, you don’t need my permission to perform the song – I didn’t write it for a start. As to your rendition, that’s entirely up to you.

I now have a small setup at home consisting of a KORG X3 and a ROLAND XP80 workstation. Thing is, I have no samplers or mixing equipment. I have an excellent feel for music and sound but never seem to see a piece through to completion, which is so frustrating. Obviously it is really difficult without the proper gear and as I do not have money to lavish on studio time, can you suggest anything?

That’s a toughie. I wouldn’t spend money on studio time anyway. I would beg, blag or save up for a cheap secondhand sampler / portastudio and try to finish things off at home. If you’re looking to make a demo or something, the quality of the recording isn’t what impresses people anyway. Just do it in any way you can, no matter how rough. If someone likes your ideas, they may wish to finance you to record them better.

Can you imagine yourself giving up music – i.e. due to lack of inspiration etc?

Possibly, but whenever I stop for a while, the urge comes back. I don’t really know how to do anything else and I’ve invested a lot in my studio. I find it increasingly difficult to do something different though.

Would you be interested in coming to Boston to give a clinic at Berklee College of Music about production and / or music synthesis?

Er, frankly, no. It’s not really something I think I’d be any good at.

How do you feel after all this years of making music. Do you think you have reached your higher level?

I never feel I’m fulfilling all I can achieve – it’s what drives me on. I’m a self doubter who’s never satisfied . Most of the time that’s healthy but sometimes it’s self-defeating. It’s at these times I try to listen to the opinions of those I respect.

What do you think about the rules on how long a single can be and what it can contain, given that this often leads to multiple CDs, as opposed to the US where only 1 or 2 CD’s are released per single?

I’m not even sure exactly what the rules are at the moment – they change them so often. I’m quite pleased to see a reasonable limit to it all again, hopefully discouraging the endless duff remixes.

How can someone come up with something original in the music world when everything has been done? Sure, you can put a new spin on something but you are not inventing anything. My question: is the hope for something new in the music world just in my dreams? Please do not slam me to hard for this question – I am being sincere and not trying to sound dumb.

Don’t despair – actually, music’s always been like that. Even the greatest composers stole from each other. Taking influence from what’s gone before is very important in art. There are innovators if you look hard enough – problem is that if you try too hard to write a totally original melody or rhythm you end up making music that sounds at best, highly pretentious and more often, totally unlistenable (John Cage – anyone?). It’s obvious in my music that I borrow ideas from endless sources but hopefully my ‘collage’ approach when putting it all together results in something new and modern that doesn’t sound too much like anyone else.

Have you ever considered how the world will look back and view your music long after you are dead? What do you think they will say about Alan Wilder?

Probably: Miserable git – why didn’t he cheer up a bit?

Do you recognise a complacency in much of modern music today and over the past decade? Granted, you are in a different country than I am so we ‘hear’ different things but I keep hearing the same styles with few innovators (ie all this 4/4 ‘formula’ music that many composers follow). Do you see any innovations in the future of music? And finally, is a time signature change important to you in modern composition? After all, the old classical music had 6/8, 2/4, and many other feels.

If we’re talking about popular music, then by default it needs to be unchallenging, otherwise it will not be popular. Most people don’t want to be challenged by music, instead preferring it to act as wallpaper – something nice to have in the background that will make them forget about their dreary lives. They don’t want weird time signatures which may wake them from their slumber. Pop’s never been challenging and it never will be. The best you can hope for is a degree of subversion within its boundaries and when this happens, it can be great. As for other forms of modern music, there is plenty of diversity if you look around.

Your music is very inspiring. I look forward to the injection, oh about every 4 years or so. What keeps you motivated to keep going back into the studio? I mean you’ve pretty much left your mark in the music industry with Recoil and especially DM. Life mu$t be good right?

What el£e am I going to do?