Since you have an interest in architecture I would like to ask if you have ever been to London’s Docklands and what kind of buildings (or places) you like most in that area and in London in general?
I like the OXO building obviously because I like art deco design. In fact, there are many fantastic buildings in London – people just rarely notice them. BBC Broadcasting house is amazing (1930’s), Barkers department store on Kensington High Street is another favourite and the Hoover building as you approach London from the M40 is very impressive, especially at night when the floodlights are on. I also like Battersea Power Station and the Lloyds building.
What do you think of the old college buildings in Oxford and Cambridge, if you have ever seen them?
They’re old and hallowed….er, apart from that I’m not particularly interested. Not really the right period for me.
How far are you generally interested in questions related to natural science?
Well, firstly I’m no great scientist and I was never very good at physics and chemistry at school but I am a great believer in science and I find certain aspects of discovery very interesting and exciting – such as genetic research and astronomy.
Do your computing and programming interests go beyond their application in music? In particular, are you interested in questions concerning A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)?
My computer skills just about stretch to programming this website – at a push. And I can airbrush somebody out of a photoshop document. As for A.I., it’s fascinating but I don’t know much about it.
Is your interest in architecture and interior design a genuine passion, or is it more of a ‘coffee-table’ interest? An old Vic Reeves character who claimed to ‘hang around with doctors, dentists and architects’ springs to mind!
It’s about halfway between the two. I have worked with 6 or7 furniture and lighting designers over the last ten years in order to create, hopefully, an original and unusual environment to live and work in. We also spend a lot of time scouting around junk shops, scrap yards and salvage suppliers searching for strange and interesting objects.
Considering you enjoy the architecture of the early Twentieth century, you must be quite fond of a lot of the buildings in New York City – Manhattan in particular has quite a collection of buildings from that era. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building and my personal favourites, the cast iron buildings of the Soho and Chelsea districts come to mind. What are yours? Have you ever spent a day in NYC just walking around admiring the architecture?
I agree with everything you’ve mentioned here. Talking about the Cast Iron districts, the number of derelict / unused buildings seems somewhat uncapitalist – you’d have thought someone would have seen the dollar signs. The architecture surrounding Central Park is also very interesting. I wouldn’t say we’ve wandered around NYC just looking at buildings but good architecture obviously makes any city more enjoyable.
Your recent comments on architecture are interesting – so what do you think about the Millennium Dome, both as piece of design and as a concept?
I think the dome’s a good idea in principle. It’s fine to construct buildings to mark special or historical occasions – let the lottery players pay for it. I’ll reserve judgement about its appearance until I’ve seen it. I hear there are some fairly bizarre ideas about what’s contained within it.
Are you very much into art? I was wondering because looking at the Recoil page it has very good art pieces on it. What’s your favourite kind of art? What do you think about Andy Warhol for example? What is your favourite CD-Cover?
I’m not really into visual art like painting (I don’t collect it or go to art galleries) but I am interested in the aesthetics of things. I suppose the fact that I like architecture and contemporary interior design accounts for the look of the website. Andy Warhol? A bit up his arse don’t you think? As for album artwork, I can’t think of a definitive favourite but I was pretty impressed with the recent designs for the Gus Gus L.P.
Do you like Dali?
Mmm, sort of – he’s certainly weird. That picture with the elephants and swans seems to be a standard teenage / student poster – puts me off a bit. To be honest, I’m not very knowledgeable about much of his work.
I was told that during your promotion for ‘Unsound Methods’ in Munich, you visited the city’s largest flea market (Riem?) and bought some medical instruments. Did you have any problems with communication and were the dealers open to your offers? Weren’t you recognised by young people and did you find that older DM records were sold dirt cheap?
I can’t remember the name of the market but it was huge and had some really incredible things. One area in particular was just full of German 30’s – 50’s furniture and kitchen and household appliances – heaven. Unfortunately, the 3 of us (me, Hep and Anne Berning) were seriously hung-over after a night out so we were not particularly coherent and in a daze – not a good state of mind for rummaging around junk shops. I can speak enough German to get by and Anne helped us with translation so I don’t think we got ripped off. The last thing I’m interested in when I go to a flea market, is the price of DM records so I’ve no idea about what they cost. Noone recognised me, at least if they did, I didn’t notice…. 😉
Do you like gardening?
No – hate it. Pointless exercise – you cut the grass – it grows again.
Do you like fairgrounds?
Actually I don’t. I’ve no desire to seat myself in a puke-stained bucket, on a structure that’s balanced precariously on a couple of rickety old beer crates and be sped around, upside down at 90 miles an hour, with a toffee apple in one hand and a bunch of candy floss in the other, shouting “Which Gypo’s stolen my wallet”.
Just wanted to ask if you’re familiar with the Nintendo 64 videogame called Goldeneye? “Unsound Methods” is the perfect soundtrack to go with this game.
I don’t play video games – I can’t understand the appeal personally. Part of the reason I don’t like them, is that I’ve had many experiences of trying to work on a very complex bit of music and being distracted by people playing ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ in the studio all day long – it’s extremely annoying. I also can’t see the point of wasting a great tool, like a computer, by playing games.
Are you thinking you’d like to do some acting too?
Absolutely not. I can’t act for toffee.
Having now witnessed your impressive music and website creating talents, is there anything you’re rubbish at?
I can’t sew, I can’t ride a horse, I’m crap at dancing and I’m a terrible actor.
Have you read ‘The Stalker’ by the Strugatsky brothers?
What kind of literature do you prefer to read?
I just don’t have the time to read. It’s a great shame because I do really enjoy the written word.
Do you draw or paint at all?
Well… I am a piss-artist.
As you said you like Bret Easton Ellis’s ‘American Psycho’, what do you think is the authors intention?
I haven’t read it for a long time so to give you a realistic answer, I’ll have to re-read it. I know that I enjoyed it at the time.
I What are your literary tastes? Are they as dark as your musical muse? Any favourite authors or books? Are you familiar with the works of Milan Kundera?
Books that I have enjoyed in the past have been ‘The Dice Man’ – Kurt Vonneget, American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis, Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson. “Clockwork Orange’ – – Anthony Burgess, ‘River of Eden’ and ‘The Selfish Gene’ – Richard Dawkins, Albert Goldman’s John Lennon and Elvis Biographies etc….. I don’t know Milan Kundera.
If you were a clubhopper, what song would get you on the dancefloor right away?
House of Pain ‘Jump Around’.
What are the five things you want to do most before you drop dead?
This isn’t as easy to answer as you’d think….I like to see England win the World Cup, live in a castle or by the sea, look down on the earth from space…can’t think of anymore.
Favourite ever concert that you attended?
Probably Charlton Athletic football ground, 1974-ish, to see The Who, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Little Feat, Streetwalkers and a few others….
Which artists, writers, composers, actors, directors, architects and politicians do you find to be most interesting and which one of them have had the greatest influence on you personally and on your work?
I like designers / architects like Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Spear, Richard Rodgers. Check the Entertainment archive for the rest.
Do you know the work of Dave McKean? It would be great to see him involved in a Recoil project (or maybe even H. R. Giger!)
I don’t know anything about Dave McKean. Did Giger design the alien in the film of the same name?
Is that true that photography is your biggest passion (apart from music, of course)?
No. I used to take far more pictures when I was younger, and I like good photography but it’s not the passion people assume it is.
DoCan you dance the waltz, quickstep, cha cha cha or any other of the classical dances?
No, I’m purely a break-dancing man, myself.
Do you like the fantasy of going for a walk on a full moon night with someone you love or feel very close to? Does the moon have a special meaning for you?
Romantic walks in the moonlight are ok but I’d really like to go to the moon before I die, or at least into space. To look down on the earth would probably be the must humbling of experiences.
Are you familiar with fellow Brit Neil Gaiman, the author of the Sandman series of comics? Have you read this novel? And if not, would you like a copy?
Sorry, never heard of him. I’m not really interested in comics – except of course, The Beano and Whizzer and Chips.
When you are going out for a night on the town, do you only go to those star-studded, need-to-be-famous-to-get-into-places, or do you you ever go to clubs / pubs that us civies go to?
Oh Dahling, me and Elton and Naomi only EVER go to the really good places…… we wouldn’t be seen DEAD in a place that accepted people like YOU!!! Aarrhgh, the thought of it!
I’ll go anywhere that has a nice vibe Aaron. I rarely go clubbing unless it’s part of an overall night out or it’s all been laid on and I don’t have to think about it, i.e. promo. trips or touring etc. Personally, I’m a bar and restaurant man myself and would certainly never go to a place just because it was supposed to be full of celebs. – in fact, that’s more likely to put me off. I want somewhere with good food, good booze, good music and good service. Pubs? Only really country ones in the summer.
I noticed someone asked about I.M. Pei at one point. His most well-known work is probably the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre. What do you think about that piece?
His work is bold and I like the fact that it contrasts with it’s surroundings in the most extreme way.
I have read most of the Q & A archives and have had some great laughs – have you ever considered writing a book on your observations and opinions?
I think if I did I’d be continually in court defending libel actions……
Joy of joys, I discovered your love of Art Deco! I desperately want to get into the antiques business (although my heart will remain in junk shops and farmers’ markets) and have in mind attending the Christie’s school to obtain a Masters degree. If I do, and I succeed in becoming a successful dealer, would you allow me the thrill of selling something to you?
Unfortunately, in terms of offering you the opportunity to make a great sale Maya, I’m not really a good bet because I’m strictly a junk shop and flea market man as well – can’t see the point of letting someone else have the fun of rooting round for a great object, paying peanuts for it, cleaning it with a bit of polish, then bumping up the price by 500%.
I admire your aspirations to become a great antique dealer, however you must ask yourself whether you truly possess the vital qualities to succeed in such a cut-throat business. If you can master the following, you’ll go a long way – you won’t sell anything or make any money but at least you’ll be part of the antiques elite……
You will need:
1. The ability to completely ignore the customer when he or she enters your shop.
2. To smoke continuously (preferably a pipe).
3. To give that “Do you really think you can afford to buy anything from here?”look when the customer approaches you.
4. To cram the shelves with loads and loads of items, all balanced precariously on top of one another, with the really expensive ones you can’t seem to sell on top, so the customer can’t help but knock one off onto the floor with the corner of his sleeve.
5. ….and then to go “a-hem” loudly whilst pointing at a huge “ALL BREAKAGES MUST BE PAID FOR”sign.
6. To not bother wrapping-up a delicate purchase for the customer thus ensuring that there’s a 80% chance he’ll break it on the way out and have to come back in to find a replacement.
7. To completely disregard what the customer says he’s looking for – so when he asks if you have any 1930’s pedestal sinks you say “Yes, there’s one outside”, then spend 20 minutes fetching it, only for the customer to discover that it’s in fact plastic and made in the 60’s.
8. The deluded belief that having a locked door and a bell (so that the customer has to ring to gain entry) will keep the riff-raff out and make your shop more exclusive, when it’s actually more likely to deter any would-be buyer (who may look like a tramp to you but could be a millionaire).
9. To refuse to drop your ludicrously extortionate prices after 6 months so you end up with the same stock year after year after year……
10. The skill to deliver these great put-downs and be as rude as possible:
“Sorry, we’re trade only.”(Always a good one when you just can’t be bothered to stub your fag out and get up to help him when he asks to see something in a locked cabinet.)
“Can you leave your child outside please…”(best preceded by tuts and winces etc. even when the child’s strapped to the customers back and can’t do much more than breath.
Or better still, say nothing at all, slam the door in the customers face, stick a “BACK IN 15 MINUTES” sign in the window knowing damn well that you’ve got no intention of re-opening the shop again because you’re off for a long lunch break in the pub.
If you had a magic time machine that could transport you to any era, to do anything you wanted, when would you go, where would you go and what would you do?
I’d program it to take me right to the heart of the 1936 ‘Semi-naked young women drink lots of vodka and kick a football around’ convention. I think I’d be pretty much guaranteed to experience the majority of my favourite pastimes in one go…….
I was impressed with your performance re: gangster slang! Do any of you read Dashiell Hammett?
Was it entirely correct? I’ve never heard of Dashiell Hammett.
Are you into gardening?
No. Gardening seems such a futile exercise – you mow the lawn, the grass grows, you mow the lawn, the grass grows etc.. I like plants in their natural environment – outside in the wild, not on my window sill. When I get to 60 maybe I’ll wake up one morning and suddenly derive great pleasure from bending down for 10 hours pulling out obscure weeds from between my bigonias but until then, I’ll pay a man to do it.
What papers do you regularly read?
Papers, papers? I don’t, except on a Sunday (I’ll get them all) when I’m nursing a hangover and I can’t really do much else for a few hours.
Speaking about conspiracies on the tragic death of Lady Di(e), we wanna know: WHAT REAAAALLY HAPPENED WITH THAT FIGHTER PLANE? ( It was something you did, wasn’t it? 🙂
Basically, the thing crashed in front of Hep and I as we were driving in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. I didn’t find religion or have any life transforming experience but it left its mark. Both of us still have the odd nightmare . I’m actually writing this on the day after Princess Diana was bumped off (nobody really believes it was an accident, do they?) and the thought of witnessing that event leaves me with exactly the same feeling I had in Scotland. The thing that struck me was that such an instantaneous tragedy is immediately followed by the banality of continuing life. As 2 dead airman were splattered across the road, the sun shone and the birds sang and no music played.
My friend told me that it is an English tradition to spend your free time in the pub. She called it “the second living room of the English”. Do you also go to the pub? If yes, do you go alone or do you take your family with you?
I don’t really like pubs, I much prefer trendy bars or restaurants. The only pubs I like are country pubs and the only time to visit them is either to sit in the garden on a hot summers day or by a roaring fire in the depths of winter. If you’re with a load of people it can be fun but Hep and I usually find ourselves saying “What are we doing here drinking warm beer or minuscule amounts of watered-down vodka? Why don’t we go back to our house and sit in our own garden / by our own fire? – it’s much nicer and you can get a decent drink.”
What are you doing on bank holidays? Do you ignore them or are they like Sundays for you?
Right, I’m off on one now…… they’re a source of major irritation. Just like Sundays, everything stops – one giant siesta, or people get in their cars and sit in a motorway tail back for 4 days trying to get to Cornwall where all the shops are closed. There is a particular time of year (around Easter) when we seem to have a Bank Holiday every other week. It’s bad enough living in the country with half-day closing on Wednesday (no idea why), lunch time closing, bizarre pub opening hours and Sunday lethargy (walks, Songs Of Praise, post QPR defeat blues). You never know where you stand – I hate it. I want 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operation. People complain that there isn’t enough work in this country. Well, get out there and open your shop, open your pub, open your post office, answer the phone and provide a service ! ………. (steps down).
Have you ever been to Harrods? Did you buy there anything? If i may ask, what was it?
I’ve bought all sorts of things from Harrods over the years……some black silk Christian Dior pyjamas (oohh), some big fluffy bath towels and various other bits and pieces. It’s not actually very special – just like any other big department store except they have a dress code(!?).
A Perfect Day For Bananafish’ is my favourite short story. Have you read it? Was it appealing?
No I haven’t read this. Are you on medication?
What other names did you consider before Recoil? Was ‘Afghanistan Banana Stand’ one of them? Probably not…
What are they, downers…..uppers?
Would you be interested if I sent you poetry? I’ve been told I am a great poet but rather bizarre.
As long as it’s not about bananas, fish or Afghanistan….
What photographic subjects interest you.
I always find people’s faces make the most fascinating subjects. Also current affairs, war photos etc…
I noticed you mentioned something about playing Sonic the Hedgehog. Well, I’m a video game maniac and despite what many think, it’s a damn serious affair. 🙂 Would you ever consider wholly or partially composing the score for a game now that they’re just about all on CD format anyway?
I was being sarcastic about ‘Sonic’ – I hate video games.
What do you do in your spare time? If you play golf and fancy a game at St. Andrews, please get in touch. P.S. That includes any other fans.
I’m not that big on golf although I used to play a bit as a teenager. Thanks for the offer though.
What were some of your better pick-up lines from your single days or was “Hi, I’m Alan from Depeche Mode” usually enough?
I don’t really have pick-up lines, I like to make the girls do the chasing 😉
Have you read any of Martin Amis’ novels? What do you think of them?
I’ve never read any of his stuff although I think I probably should. He’s quite interesting when interviewed.