And pardon my ignorance but what on earth is a Lada?

A Lada is a much maligned Russian car – predominantly cheap, ugly and all-round crap designs. Together with their Czech counterparts, Skoda (are they Czech or Polish?), I think both are attempting to challenge this perception. I might add that I inherited the Lada from someone as a run-around for my ex-wife long before I learned to drive, so in truth I didn’t really drive it. Then again, possession is 90% of the law…..

It says in the ‘A-Files’ that you are the youngest of three brothers. I too am the youngest in my family, and growing up, my older brother was an endless source of torment (until I grew to be taller than him ;)]. Were your brothers at all like that?

They are 5 and 7 years older respectively so they teased me a bit when they were bored but I think I was too young to be really bothered with.

How would you describe your teenage life?

I was rude, scruffy, obnoxious, arrogant and blushed in front of girls.

Hep, I hear that you were in Miranda Sex Garden. Was there a particular instrument that you played? Were you ever a lyricist?

I played keyboards, violin and sung. All the lyrics were written by Katherine, the lead vocalist.

If I may be so bold, I’d like to ask Hep what her favourites of your work are?

I really like ‘A Question Of Time’ (especially the live version from the ‘Devotional’ tour), ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ – the true Depeche Mode anthem. ‘Waiting For The Night’ represents perfectly the 3 things that made DM such a good band – Dave’s voice, Martin’s words and Alan’s music and I love the album version of ‘In Your Room’ because it has everything I want to hear in a song. I also think ‘Home’ shows Martin at his songwriting best but I’d love to hear Alan’s take on it – I think it would be amazing. As for Recoil, I really like ‘Electro Blues For Bukka White’ and ‘Edge To Life’. I still enjoy listening to the whole of ‘Unsound Methods’ even after I’ve heard it so much and particularly like ‘Drifting’ (especially the ‘Poison Dub’ remix), ‘Luscious Apparatus’, ‘Stalker’ and ‘Last Breath’. From ‘Liquid’ my favourites are ‘Last Call…’, ‘New York Nights’ and Sonya Madan’s track, ‘Don’t Look Back’.

Hep: How would you describe the music of ‘Miranda Sex Garden’?

MSG origianlly consisted of 3 female vocalists who were discovered singing madrigals on Portabello Road by Barry Adamson. They later expanded to include drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, violins + viola which was the line-up when I joined the group. I find it very difficult to describe the music – in fact it’s easier to say what it wasn’t rather than what it was! It encorportated rock / classical / ambient / industrial elements but wasn’t ‘groove-based’ enough for me and some of the ideas were somewhat naive. That said, there was a definite desire to do something different. The last LP was produced by Alex Hacke from Einsturzende Neubauten – go and buy it and see for yourself!

Who was your idol as a teenager?

I didn’t have any idols.

What book was your favourite when you were a kid?

Enid Blyton – ‘Famous Five’ etc…

I was wondering around the Internet Movie Database today and came across the name ‘Hepzibah Sessa’ as being in a movie called ‘Demonsoul’. Just wondering if this is you?

Hep’s reply:

Myself and Katherine (the lead vocalist for Miranda Sex Garden) were asked by a friend of ours (a notorious ligger called Johnny) to play vampires in a film called ‘Soul Of The Demon’ – a B-movie Horror. To give you an idea of how dreadful it was, Johnny had conveniently landed the role of a man who has to wear nothing but a leather thong and get molested by rampant, female bloodsuckers…….As you would imagine, he described it as a very demanding role 😉 I’ve never seen it.

The coordinator of ‘Unsound Methods’ – is she the same Hepzibah Sessa who worked with ‘Knights Of The Occasional Table” in London?

Hep says: I haven’t a clue what this is and it doesn’t ring a bell, however I doubt there’s another person with my name – have you any other details? Is it something to do with Miranda Sex Garden?

Whose poster did you have on your wall as a teenager?

Buster Keaton.

Questions to Hep:

I recently watched ‘In Bed With Madonna’ and I heard that Alan appeared in this movie. And really, I did see him. Was Alan present as well as the other band members? There was one bloke standing behind Jean Paul Gautier, he could have been David, perhaps?!

Not sure why you’re asking me…….Dave was there apparently. I’d have to have a look at the scene to tell you exactly who is visible.

What do you think about the dark wave and the gothic scene? Do you like it?

I used to like bands that were considered ‘goth’ when I was about 15 – The Cult, The Mission, The Dammed etc. I also used to wear lots of ripped black clothes and crimp my hair. It was all very silly and I looked like a complete prat. Thank God noone wants to look like that anymore 😉

To Hep:

I’m a Belgian music fan (I love Recoil as well as Miranda Sex Garden). I saw you, Hep, twice in Belgium – in Asse and in the Botanique in Brussels. My question is: How come a band like MSG chose Sick Of It All as opening act (in the Botanique)? I loved SOIA ’cause I love HardCore very much but most of the crowd didn’t like them!

I’m afraid I’ve no recollection of either of these shows or the support, Johan!

To Hep:

As you’re into medieval music, have you heard the works of Hildegard of Bingen and Palestrina and what do you think?

Yes, I do like Hildegard and Palestrina – it’s good on a Sunday morning when you’re hung-over and don’t want anything too obtrusive.

If you join a group again, would the group preferably have MSG or medieval influences, or would you consider something with more modern influences?

If I had wanted to pursue some kind of MSG style, I wouldn’t have stopped working with them.

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of travelling around Europe to see many bands and especially Depeche Mode. I’ve spent countless nights in bus shelters, waiting halls and photo booths waiting for the first bus / train / ferry to arrive. I was wondering if, in your early years, you were ever a die-hard fan of some band, and did you ever do things like this?

No, I’ve never ardently followed any band around. The nearest I’ve got to that kind of thing is travelling long distances to see QPR play away – sad, but true.

It is obvious from your music and your posts that you have a penchant for ominous sounds and dark, atmospheric music. While it might be attributable to your classical training or simply your taste in music, can you remember any particular instances from your childhood or teenage years that might have cultivated this penchant?

There’s nothing specific. The thing about music for me is that it works on a very subconscious level. I don’t try to analyse why I like what I like, I just follow my instincts. Every experience in life subtly affects what comes out through the creative process. I usually find that I can create something if I put myself into a certain frame of mind – usually one which evokes a feeling of sadness.

When you had your first successes with DM, which also probably meant you earned a lot of money, did you find that some people you thought were good friends, came begging for money? What did you do in such a situation? How could (or still can) you make a separation between those ‘friends’ who wanted to be with you just because of your popularity and those, who have been real friends?

It’s been my experience (and I’ve heard other people in the same situation agree) that the opposite happens. When you achieve success and the financial benefits that go with it, quite often people who you thought were good friends can’t handle it and tend to distance themselves. I’m very choosy about my friends as a rule and while most of them are in the music or media business (or related occupations), their financial status is quite varied. I’m not impressed by people because of what they earn or who they are.

Does it happen from time to time that some of your buddies come along, you have a drink or two then start singing songs? And what songs would that be? Your favourite Duran Duran track or DM songs from 1980-1982? Or Aqua and their ‘Barbie Girl’?

In my DM days, there were numerous instances where we would take over the piano in a hotel or bar and have a singalong – I can work out most songs on the piano and Martin seems to know the words to every song ever written. Obviously, as an onlooker, it was preferable to arrive at the start of the event as the quality of our performance was relative to the amount of alcohol consumed – by about 4 am the ‘Les Dawson factor’ had well and truly kicked in 😉 Anyway, the same thing goes on at our house when we have visitors although for some reason, one never seems to be able to remember good songs when one needs to. This is best combated by putting on a classic album like ‘Abbey Road’ very loud so I can bash away on the piano while everyone else wails when they remember their favourite bit. In fact, we had a great Bowie session recently- we did ‘Hunky Dory’, ‘Aladdin Sane’ and ‘Ziggy Stardust’.

Question for both Alan and Hep: When you are out driving, do you ever come across someone blaring DM, Recoil or Miranda Sex Garden on their car stereo while sitting in traffic? If so, what do you do? Do you stare straight ahead, or slyly sneak a look at the person? Or, do you turn, smile and wave? 

I don’t recall this ever happening to us – I’m sure most British motorists who are brave enough to have a DM album in their car, keep their windows firmly closed and the volume low when playing it (for fear of being rear-ended or falling victim to a road-rage incident). Actually, the really embarrassing thing is when WE have a Mode or Recoil CD in the car (which sometimes happens when I have to listen to a new version or remix etc.) and you switch the engine on and the CD blasts out “All I ever wanted, all I ever needed…..etc.” at 50,000 decibels. Can be guaranteed to happen when the roof’s down and you’re outside a very trendy restaurant, filled with people in the music industry. Being caught playing one’s own music is the biggest faux pas you can commit and the ensuing spectacle of Hep and I banging heads as we simultaneously dive for the ‘stop’ button only heightens the shame 😉

One for Hep…

For all the fans of Miranda Sex Garden: Is there an opportunity to hear a comeback album with the production of Mr Wilder? What does Mr. Wilder think about Miranda Sex Garden?

A Miranda Sex Garden comeback album? Don’t you actually have to arrive first?

Question for Hepzibah,

Did Miranda Sex Garden ever do some busking? I remember 3 girls busking under my then employer’s window in Carnaby St in 1990 sounding very ‘classical’.

Yes, I should imagine that was the original incarnation of MSG – Kat Blick, Jocelyn West and Kelly McCusker.

My good friend recently told me of this holiday “Guy Forks Day”. Being American, this holiday intrigues me. What is yours and Hep’s take on it?

What your friend is referring to is ‘Guy Fawkes’ or ‘Bonfire’ Night, held every year on November 5th. It relates to ‘The Gunpowder Plot’, a Catholic attempt (led by Guy Fawkes) to blow up the English parliament on the same date in 1605 . The unfortunate Mr Fawkes was foiled before he managed to carry out his dastardly plan and ended up being tried for treason and eventually hung, drawn and quartered. This basically means he was hung until NEARLY dead, cut down from the scaffold and de-bowelled, sliced into quarters, before each part was buried in the four corners of the City of London (to prevent his soul from coming together and being carried up to the Almighty). Nice eh? Anyway, this momentous occasion is celebrated today by the building of a huge bonfire, atopped with an effigy of Mr. Fawkes (known as ‘the guy’) accompanied by lots of highly dangerous illegal Chinese fireworks, ‘charcoaled’ on the outside, raw in the middle’ sausages and reports of 2nd degree burns in the following day’s newspapers. It is preceeded in some parts of the country by ‘Mischief Night’, where little bastards go around and put lighted fireworks through unsuspecting pensioner’s letter-boxes. We are truly a civilised and enlightened nation.

Do you own a lava lamp?

I used to, man, when I was about 14. Far out……

This is a question for Hep:

During the 1993 ‘Devotional’ Tour, Miranda Sex Garden were supporting DM and most fans were totally intolerant and boo-ed when your band played. Do you remember the tall German guy who was holding up a sign simply saying “Miranda!!” in the first row? That was me!

I’m afraid not Jorg – I was too busy dodging the missiles 😉

I’ve met you all backstage several times and had a couple of beers together with your guitarist (whose name escapes me, I’m afraid).

Ben Golomstock.

How did you feel about the negative reactions you got from DM followers?

Well the first show in Hannover was quite an eye opener to be honest and I remember thinking “How am I going to survive this for 4 weeks?”. The crowds dismissal of us before we’d even got on stage was completely unexpected because we were feeling pretty good after a really enjoyable tour with Einsturzende Neubauten and some excellent headline dates. When we got back to the dressing room afterwards, I remember Kat (lead singer) laughing and saying it was the most invigorating performance she’d ever done. We all agreed that DM audiences were fiercely partisan and impossible to convert, so the best line of defence was to attack and really wind them up……..after all, did they really think we were going to allow ourselves to be booed-off stage by a bunch of leather-clad nancy boys with loaves of bread on their heads?

I have a confession to make, you have been the center of my naughtiest of fantasies for the past 10 years (much to my boyfriends dismay), the details of which I will leave to your imagination. I was wondering who sparked your teenage urges?

The relief music teacher (she only stayed a few months) and Stan Bowles.

For Hep:

Thanks for writing the stories about you and Alan’s trips around Europe and North America. However, you said, regarding the giant plate of salmon served to an “anorexic”, “You septics crack me up.” Was that a paraphrase from Alan or was it from you? Aren’t you the tiniest bit “septic” yourself? Do you crack yourself up a little bit? 😉 No offence meant.

It was my comment Stephanie and you are quite correct that I do possess a serious, if not potentially fatal dose of septic. I have however, over many years of dedicated and strenuous training, managed to curtail the canker and prevent it from seeping out into the open. True, that there are times when it threatens to rear its ugly head; perhaps I might suddenly find myself tempted to develop a complete inability to understand the concept of irony, throw all sense of taste out the window and actually find Joan Rivers California Classics fine fashion jewellery stylish or even worse, backcomb my ‘bangs’ and scoop up the sides of my hair, securing them on top before spraying the whole lot liberally with hairspray……..a la white trailor trash.

In these times of trouble, I gain control of the situation by repeating “Sir Winston Churchill, Buckingham Palace and cucumber sandwiches”, over and over until the temptation subsides. That said, it can be useful when one wants to whip through passport control quickly (duel passports) or work without a permit………… I would add however, that the American side of my family can be traced right back to the Mayflower (second only to the Kennedy’s in terms of American royalty, I hear) and there is a good smattering of French Huguenot and Italian peasant in there. Does this get me off the hook? 😉