An interview with Danny HydeDanny Hyde was engineer, programmer and co-producer to Coil. Although never a full-time member of Coil, he was once referred to as Coil's "secret 3rd member". As longstanding sound engineer Danny Hyde's work was integral to Coil. His name first appeared on Horse Rotorvator, although his involvement with Coil began much earlier. Danny Hyde contributed to the Coil album Love's Secret Domain, and the Coil related project Black Light District and co-wrote Coil tracks such as 'Baby Food', 'Nasa Arab', 'First Dark Ride' and 'The Hills Are Alive' while performing on Coil's contributions to Derek Jarman's Blue soundtrack.
This interview was originally intended to supplement our review of Recoiled, a Cold Spring release featuring the "pre-big mixdown" versions of Coil's remixes of Nine Inch Nails, which had initially appeared as Uncoiled, an internet only release conceived by members of the Nine Inch Nails forum. Danny Hyde was responsible for the looped and chopped up vocal of 'Gave-Up' which found its way into Danny Cannon's film The Young Americans, starring Harvey Keitel. However, it was Coil's disorientating and harrowing remix of Nine Inch Nails' 'Closer 'which appeared in David Fincher's acclaimed serial killer film, Se7en, starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey and Gwyneth Paltrow which although uncredited in the film, added to the film's unremitting darkness.
In 2004 Danny Hyde started the solo project Aural Rage and self-released A Nature of Nonsense featuring reworks of the Coil (and Black Light District) tracks he had co-written, along with 'Fj Nettlefold' one of the (if not the) last vocal track recorded by John Balance.
Following a request from Peter Christopherson, Danny Hyde travelled to Thailand where Peter Christopherson had set-up home, following his split and the then untimely death of John Balance, following a fall at their home in Weston-Super-Mare. Here at Peter Christopherson's home they continued to create new music as well as finishing work on posthumous Coil releases such as The Ape Of Naples and The New Backwards. In particular, The New Backwards focussed on Backwards, an album Coil were contracted to provide to Nothing Records. Danny Hyde, along with Drew McDowall, were part of the Coil contingent who travelled to New Orleans for the ill fated and unreleased sessions.
Together in Thailand, aside from The Ape of Naples and The New Backwards, Peter Christopherson and Danny Hyde worked on the new versions of The Remote Viewer and Black Antlers. Danny Hyde was also involved in Peter Christopherson's subsequent solo releases as The Threshold House Boys Choir. Other work with Peter Christopherson surfaced on Moon's Milk In Final Phase the first release from Electric Sewer Age, a project that continues to this day.
In this interview Danny Hyde recalls his initial meeting with Coil, and his recording sessions with Coil and, in particular, divulges some of the techniques used on the Nine Inch Nails remixes and his subsequent work with Peter Christopherson in Thailand, whilst providing valuable information on Electric Sewer Age, whose first release featured some of the last recordings intended for a Coil release.
Compulsiononline are longtime fans of Coil and we hope this extensive interview helps cast light on Danny Hyde's contribution to the work of Coil, which was scarcely mentioned in David Keenan's England's Hidden Reverse, A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground, which provided a biography of Coil, Current 93 and Nurse With Wound. Many, many thanks to Danny Hyde for taking the time to answer our questions with such informative responses.
What was your role within Coil? What did you bring to Coil?
Well I worked with Pete and Geoff for near on 23/24 years, so what started as just an engineer for hire type relationship became over time more of a collaboration type relationship. It ended up with me co-writing much of the material I worked on from about 1992. Over that period of time we became very good friends, particularly Peter who was just one of the easiest people I've ever worked with in my life. Just a totally, totally laid back, creative guy.
How did you come to work with Coil? What were your first impressions of the Coil boys?
I was the engineer for hire at a studio called Paradise Studios, probably the first computerised studio in Europe and certainly in England. It was very high-tech, full of Fairlights, Waveterms, all high tech computerised equipment for the time. I was the house engineer, a kind of freelance house engineer there, and the Coil boys turned up one night, as it just so happened they lived down the road and had booked some studio time and they turned up and we started doing tunes with toy piano sounds and kiddies toys. It was just so refreshing from the usual clients who were coming into this particular studio, who wanted to be Nik Kershaw or were trying to do high-tech PWL productions and the Coil boys came in and it was just a free and easy session.
My first impressions were of two little hippie kids, two hippie rich kids having fun on mummy's money maybe. But by the time we got to Horse Rotorvator I knew they were serious in what they did and I took them seriously from then on.
The first time your name appeared on a Coil release was on Horse Rotorvator, could you give an overview of your work with Coil and their myriad manifestations?
I've probably answered that in the earlier questions but Horse Rotorvator wasn't the first one I worked on with them but my name appeared on Horse Rotorvator as things were getting more serious then. An overview of my work with Coil is a difficult one. In the beginning it was free and easy, lots of drugs. Not in Paradise Studio I might add, this was when we freelanced out when we moved on to do the Love's Secret Domain album where we were flying from studio to studio and I wasn't working for the studio. Later let's say we got more professional with the gig when we went for a job of work. In the beginning it was play and by the time we hit New Orleans we were there to do a job of work, just like anybody.
Compared to others you worked with in the studio did Coil bring a different sensibility to their approach to recording?
Well when I talk about Coil I am purely and simply talking about Pete and Geoff. I'm not talking about Drew (McDowall), not talking about Steve (Thrower) or anybody else who floated on the periphery like we all did to a degree. I'm talking about the core nucleus of Pete and Geoff. Did they bring any different sensibilities? Yes, they did. (laughs) Geoff was very intense. He was also very, very funny. Don't get me wrong, he was very, very funny and a great guy to be around. But as far as his work was concerned it was very intense. Pete was like the ideal hippie. That sounds wrong, as he was nothing like a hippie, but he was like a hippie wishes everybody was. He was never angry at anything. He never got gnarky with anybody. He added enthusiasm to everything and he had this playfulness like a child although he was a total professional as per his video directing and everything else. But in the studio he became an enthusiastic child in the best possible sense. He'd never slate you if you never got to what was maybe in his mind. He'd give you the rope and it was up to you if you hung yourself or if you created a decent knot from it. He allowed you a lot of freedom. It was obvious in his head he had certain directions he'd like to go but he allowed everybody the freedom to explore where they might want to go. So it was a very, very enjoyable session because you have to understand that in the studio it can be incredibly tense. I mean there were sessions I did with some bands where they would end up beating each other up because they were so tense. There were other sessions I did where the bands would do so many drugs they'd get so strung out and paranoid they could do absolutely nothing. But when you were in the studio with Pete particularly, something always got done because the atmosphere enabled you to work and to enjoy the work because the effort that you put in was always appreciated.
To a certain degree, I suppose, looking back, Geoff was never super precious: "my voice should sound this way, my voice should sound that way". He gave me freedom as well. As long as he could get his words down on the tape he was happy. Later on, when they developed their own home studio, that might have changed but not to the detriment but just because that's what happens.
Could you relate how the Recoiled release came about and how it ended up on Cold Spring?
That's a good question. A couple of years ago a guy from Greece got in touch and asked me about any submixes or any outtakes from the remix sessions we did for Nine Inch Nails which we did in 1992 for 'Gave-Up' and early 1994 for 'Closer' and later 1994 which was 'The Downward Spiral' and 'Eraser'. And I gotta be honest, call it anal, call it control freak, call it super specialist at archiving everything. At that period of time I wrote down every single setting of every single keyboard, desk, sample and where to find them, call them back and how to reproduce what was done on the day. This was just in case you were called back to do a remix of something, and incidentally we were for 'Gave-Up', as we were called back to reproduce it exactly for The Young Americans film. But anyway, this guy got in touch and he asked me and I said, "yeah sure, I'll dig it up". Then the sort of the head of the Nine Inch Nails forum, who this guy was representing, this guy in Greece was enquiring for, got in touch and said to make it worth your while we'll collect some subs and send them over and send us what you've got - so I did. And they released it as Uncoiled with all these bits and bobs or whatever. They were going to put out a CD. That was the kinda unwritten agreement we talked about. They knocked up some artwork and as these things do, it kinda fell apart as people have jobs, other things to do. So it went on the back burner and about a year and a half after this Cold Spring got in touch. I was sending them some copies of Electric Sewer Age for them to sell and Justin (Mitchell) said what about releasing those Uncoiled tracks. Let's put them out there. And I said sure, why not but obviously there might be a problem with Trent (Reznor) from Nine Inch Nails, as they are his songs. So if you can sort that side out then I don't have a problem, so we did.
The Nine Inch Nails remixes were recorded over different sessions and different years. 'Gave Up' was the first of Coil remixes, how did that come about and how did Coil come to work with Nine Inch Nails?
I assume it came about as Pete did a video for Nine Inch Nails and because Trent was a big fan of Coil. Pete got in touch with me one day in 1992 and said look could you help us with this remix. We're going to do Nine Inch Nails, so I popped over to the house and he showed me a video of Nine Inch Nails and I said yeah, yeah, sounds like fun. Let's do it. So we got the multitracks sent over from the States and we booked a day in Matrix studio and we copied all the multitracks down to DAT with one side SMPTE and one side the instrument that was played. You can imagine, say the song was 5 minutes long and you've got 24 tracks of 5, and you got 48 tracks. You've got two reels and you systematically put everything down so that you can go home and synch up to it, run the SMPTE code on the right side to your sequencer and then you can write bits which when you go back to the studio and run to the original SMPTE it should match up - so that you're in the same tempo and stuff and any loops you take from the original multis then you're manipulating in time that will synch with original multi because in those days rather than taking samples and creating something in a heavy, heavy computer. We didn't have that, we had sequencers and samplers and basic computers so it was good to utilise the original multitracks. So it was good if you could synch up to them and add your bits to them in case for instance you wanted to use the whole lead vocal from the multitrack because samplers then, well the disc was 40 megs, the Akai S1000 had 40 megabyte only and held 2 megabytes or something. So you had very small sample loops, not the whole song and vocals. That's how the first Gave-Up' mix came about in 1992. That must have went quite well because in 1994 Trent asked us to do 'Closer' and subsequently 'Eraser' and 'The Downward Spiral' later in the year.
And then there was the remix of 'Closer To God' that originally appeared on the single as 'Closer (Precursor)', did that come before the other remixes that Coil and yourself provided for the other tracks from The Downward Spiral?
Yes, 'Closer' was done quite a few months before we went into 'The Downward Spiral' and 'Eraser' sessions. We were in a totally different studio; we were in Matrix 2 for 'Closer' and then Metropolis for the other two.
Tell us about 'Eraser (Baby Alarm Remix)', does it really use baby alarms?
Yes, we did use baby alarms and I'll tell you why. I was living in Kensington High Street and my daughter was two and I had some baby alarms hanging around. I had a little studio room and these baby alarms and I thought I wanna use them. I don't know why, I just thought I'll use them. I was piping out samples to a pair of headphones that were strapped over the microphone that picks up the baby crying and the receiver where the parent listens. I had a jacksoft socket added to that and I piped that back into the studio. So you would send out a loop to these headphones. The baby alarm would hear them from its little microphone and transmit it through the air and it would be picked up by this other thing which you could either take the line out and bring back in or equally you could mic it up to get that grumbly sound and to be honest with you, I suppose someone could have just used a cheap pedal to make this sound. It's the process of experimentation in those days particularly when you didn't have masses of apps and software, you'd start experimenting with things to see what happens. 99% of the time it would be a bit naff but sometimes you just got something which would spur you on, a certain tone or mood that you didn't expect that would lead you somewhere else. The baby alarms did that but high-tech they were not, that's for sure.
What was the approach to the remixing, and did it differ for the different tracks and sessions?
With the Coil boys remixing something else was great. In the earlier nineties I did a lot of remixes for DJs and producers. That was very limiting to a degree as they didn't have years of making music and this will sound unfair but instead of being open minded it was often the opposite; it was very closed in that they wanted to replicate the latest record they heard which had obviously been made 6 months before by someone else and they wanted to replicate the sound instantly. You were for ever having to play CDs or particularly playing a vinyl record and them saying "listen to that bass drum, I want that one". Whereas remixing with the Coil boys was totally free. It was just let's see what happens, let's do some stuff and go with it. For instance, if you listen to 'Rush', the Depeche Mode remix, the main rhythm on there, except for the drums, is the Coil boys' CD machine. It was stuttering, you know like CD machines used to do, and we loved it. So we quickly mic'ed it up and took it and made a nice two bar loop and that wouldn't have happened with a lot of people in the big days of remix when the dance craze happened. They would all be: "you can't use that. 90% of them would be like you can't use that, the bass drum gotta be like this, you can't use reverb on the snare it has to be dry". There were these strict rules, which obviously there are within certain genres of music. Whereas remixing with Coil it would be let's see what happens today, let's just go with the flow. It was great.
What was John Balance's role on these remixes?
I can only talk about the remixes I did with them, the Depeche Mode and the Nine Inch Nails and so on. I wouldn't be doing Geoff a disservice to say his role was very limited. I mean he almost didn't want to be there. I mean he wouldn't come in and say "today we're going to make music". Because he was so into what he was doing and he loved his style of doing things, he was trying to grow within in the way he was trying to produce things. To hear Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails which was kinda poppy music, relative, he kinda got a little bit, I would say, unenthusiastic to a degree. On the 'Gave-Up' sessions I remember him disappearing off home because he was bored and he'd come in the next day and say, great. On 'Closer', except at the very beginning when we transferred to DAT the original sounds he made an appearance at the big studio to hear what we were going to have to work with I don't remember seeing him. I certainly don't remember him at the mixing down of all the work we done. It was Peter; Peter was the man for the remixes.
Having said that, for 'Eraser' and 'The Downward Spiral' because we had to do a week in Metropolis studio and we had just come out of another studio doing some Coil sessions and we went straight into Metropolis to do a week of mixing a band called Schaft (Coil remixed the tracks 'Olive' and 'Visual Cortex') and then the second half of the week doing Nine Inch Nails. Geoff was there for that, as Drew McDowall was in for those so the atmosphere was more party time. It wasn't a job, job, job. It was more of a social event and Geoff was certainly there then. But in terms of remixes per se I don't think he enjoyed remixing other people's stuff much.
You worked on many Coil releases and recording sessions but how did remixing differ to working on Coil compositions?
The main difference was working on Coil sessions you were working on Geoff's blood, his guts, his heart, his soul. So Coil sessions, due to Peter being there, were never heavily heavy intense sessions, they were always fun. They were the best people I ever worked with, for sure. The balance between them - forgive the pun - with Peter's laidback style of making it all seem pleasurable and Geoff with his intensity for his art. The Coil sessions were a totally different thing. That was their baby. For the remixes it was like we put suits on. Pete still made it great fun and there was no pressure. Pete never said, for instance, "the client has hired us to do this; we've got to do this". That wasn't his way. Pete was we're gonna do it and what comes out, is what comes out. But certainly with remixing it was a job. When they were doing Coil it was passion.
These remixes are known as the "pre-big studio-mixdown" mixes, could you elaborate on what that means and how these differ to the final issued recordings?
They were known as the pre-big studio mixes because as I said before I've got a huge, huge book which I used to type out. Before computers and printers I used to do it on the word processor from my notepads of the sessions where I scribbled everything down. I would type these up and store them and when the Nine Inch Nails forum boys said they'd heard about these outtakes and things I went back to the DATs from those days and found the rough cuts I did at my house before the big expensive one thousand pounds a day studio. What we'd do is copy the multitracks to DAT so we could take the sounds home. At my home I had a DAT machine digitally linked up to the sequencer, so I could digitally transfer the samples or the SMPTE could control the sequencer that could fire samples all through the mixing desk. I'd do a rough outline of what was happening that day. Pete would come over and we'd discuss bits and bobs and he'd join and we'd do stuff. With 'Closer' we actually worked in synch, as Pete did the same at his house and did a load of sessions. This was before Skype so we'd phone each other up and play down the phone where we were at and we knew we were in the same tempo and we knew we were in the same key as we were working to the same samples. So we knew that when we synched them ours would run and we could whittle down what we didn't need and we could synch it to the multitrack and take from that what we needed. So the pre big mix studio sessions were effectively all the pre big studio runs of what we were doing at home in the little studio. You'd do a little mixdown to DAT for your records so when you got to the big studio you could play it, if someone said "what are you thinking?" But before you set up all the machines and fired it at them you could play them that if they wandered in. And those DATs and subsequent notes those DAT created I reran a load of the sections that we had created, and I reran them exactly as we had done them. And I record all the notes, the effects, the levels and everything. If I didn't have a certain section as the DAT had corrupted or whatever I reran them again and cut and pasted between the various versions. The pre-big studio versions is exactly what it says; it's the versions that were done at home before the multi thousand pound machines were allowed to do the final mix. The final mix being all of these samples and the multitrack running through a big SSL mixing desk mixed down again to half-inch tape and the half-inch tape is sent to the pressing plant and they cut the vinyl.
Remixes were rife at the time but how do you feel about the remixes you worked on with Coil? Any favourites? Any disappointments?
You know what, looking back to be honest I wish I hadn't had so much experiencing of remixing because I think without me being there like big bossy boots saying I think we should do it like this, if the Coil lads had been totally free and their thought processes had been able to be picked up by machines and not translated by a human i.e. me, Geoff would've been a lot more involved and I think these remixes would have been a lot fucking stranger and possibly a lot more enjoyable to listen back on now. Because they weren't studio bods at the time I guess they had to go through me and to a degree that's probably filtered out a lot of the really good stuff that might have appeared in a different set-up but we don't know maybe nothing would have got done, I don't know.
Is there anything I'm proud of? I like the remixes we did under the conditions we were under, and the equipment we had. I liked them because believe me I've done a fuck lot of commercial remixes for big record companies with other people and they were boring as fuck.
Coil's remix of 'Closer To God' featured in the opening credits of David Fincher's film Se7en, what was the reaction to this? You must be proud of this?
It was funny we did 'Closer' and a couple of years later you hear a rumour that it's going to be in this movie. I didn't know anything about David Fincher and I didn't know anything about the movie. So I took the woman that became my wife and I said, "the track I did with Pete is in this movie, we gotta see this movie. It's going to be great". I didn't know where it was in the movie. The movie played and then the music suddenly came on and then there was the great editing of the video which made it all look really good. But where I was not happy was where the film finished and we didn't have a fucking single credit. There was nothing on it for us. It wasn't until the internet came along that anyone, except for fans, was aware that that particular opening track we had some input on it. That whole intro was written by us - that's not on the original 'Closer' release at all. And so I was proud and then disappointed as once again there was not credit. Coming from the record business when you're younger the amount of work you do and you don't get credited. I remember working for a friend and working really hard on his album where I was to be co-producer. The album came out and there was nothing on there. When I approached him afterwards he said the art department said it didn't balance the graphics. There was always a reason. But you got used to not getting credit. I was kinda hurt we weren't credited in the movie. I was kinda proud though.
And Coil's earlier remix of 'Gave Up' also appeared in Danny Cannon's The Young Americans... Anything you want to say about this?
Yeah I do. We had to fucking call back a remix we'd done a few months before, if I remember. It might even have been half a year before. We had to record it back with Danny Cannon and David Arnold who went on to be quite a good musical composer for movies. What I remember from those sessions was that David Arnold was really a nice guy and maybe understood the process of making music but Danny Cannon was a total wanker. Maybe we were unfair to him. I didn't like him at all. That's what I remember of those remixes for The Young Americans. The original remix of 'Gave-Up' was the normal good fun but the recall to do it for The Young Americans movie. Well I was quite excited, as I heard Harvey Keitel was going to be in this movie. So it seemed it was going to be a good movie but I saw this movie and it was total shite but maybe that's just my opinion.
The looped chopped-up vocal on 'Gave-Up' is astounding, would you care to elaborate on how did you did it? What was the technique behind it? You didn't ever use it on any Coil tracks, did you?
I actually did a radio interview where I went through the process of that looped, chopped-up thing. Basically, like the baby-alarm thing, I had a slightly off-the-wall type idea, let's try this. You gotta remember this was before software and everything was relatively easy to do but I thought why don't we take a sample of a whole verse and fire it at certain input, like quavers and the old Akai S1000 had two knobs on it one for the ratio increments and one to move the cursor. So for instance you could move to where the start of the sample was going to fire from with one knob and move the other knob to move the amount of tens, thousands of the sample so if you were having the right hand wheel set for say quavers every time you moved the left hand knob well as soon as you twiddled the right knob it could move some other increment that had nothing to do with music. So if you were firing both these controls at once it meant, while the sample was being triggered with sixteenths or triplets or eighths or whatever it meant you never knew what was going to come out from the sample. The sample would be triggered by a certain rate but firing from a different point each time dependent upon where the person threw the cursor. And also the rhythm of the sample that was originally recorded in there would have its own rhythm working fired from wherever it was being fired. So that was the idea and it worked quite well on 'Gave-Up'. I mean as opposed to what you might do with a dance track where you'd take a hundred samples and map them out on a keyboard and then someone would sit there playing them. Believe me after three or four goes they'd be bored shitless and they'd get into a pattern which would sound predictable but with this you could never ever replicate it again. It would be impossible; it would be a billion-to-one due to the amount of variables.
Have we used it again? Yes we used it on 'The Hills Are Alive' and also used it on 'AYOR', 'It's In My Blood'. You might hear one of the fiddle parts is twisted like that.
Aside from the Nine Inch Nails remixes, Coil had a longstanding relationship with Trent Reznor and recorded at Trent's studio in New Orleans. Were you involved in the Backwards recording session in New Orleans? If so, what do you remember of the sessions? How did the original versions compare to what was finally issued as The New Backwards?
Yeah, I was involved in the New Orleans sessions. Apart from arriving and feeling really jet lagged, I think I was on the plane with Drew, we certainly flew back together. It was magic being in a different place working with the guys with the atmosphere of New Orleans. They were staying at Trent's house and me and Drew were staying in a hotel. But we'd meet up at the studio every day, and it was really magical. The original agreement was that I wasn't allowed to engineer. I was going over there because I'd co-written quite a bit of that stuff. I was going to be co-producer and be able to sit on a big seat at the back and direct orders. But when we got their there wasn't an engineer and I had to sit in the engineers seat. But once I sat in there it was great to be back in there. The Nine Inch Nails guys were really helpful. Whatever we needed musically or whatever, they helped. We never used them as musicians but we certainly borrowed their equipment. Also what I remember is one day when we met in the studio in the morning. Geoff was in a tizz as he'd had a bottle of ether and it had disappeared and I remember thinking what effect does ether have, apart from knocking you out, but I wasn't even aware that he'd had it. But anyway it had disappeared so one of the Nine Inch Nails boys or the cleaner had probably taken it.
How did the tracks differ? Obviously The New Backwards was pretty much created after Geoff had died, and Pete had his new set-up out East and he was in a new frame of mind and time had moved on quite a lot. So The New Backwards was a lot more technical, I mean it was a lot more software based; that was the mood it had taken on.
Did you meet Trent? Did you ever receive feedback from Trent about the remixes?
Yeah, I met Trent, sure, but it was hanging out in the studio. It was more a social thing. But one day he had a minibus pull up to take everyone to a gig but I was working on 'A Cold Cell' and I was so enjoying doing keyboard parts and getting in the mood of it, and I can't believe it now, but I stayed in the studio and let them all go off to this gig and have a party time. I met Trent a couple of time in the studio and, no, he never mentioned the remixes. It was more of a social chat thing but I don't know if he ever talked to the boys about them, as they stayed in his house. He certainly didn't talk to me or Drew about them as far as I know. Maybe Drew would say differently, but he never talked to me about them.
After Coil, as Aural Rage you released A Nature Of Nonsense which featured one of the last vocal recordings by John Balance, how did that come about?
Well I moved to a new place in Surrey escaping a hell hole in Luton for about 6 years. I moved to a nice new place in Surrey where I spent a year converting an outbuilding into a studio and I thought I gotta do something with this. I can't just keep this for the odd remix, I gotta do a project. Aural Rage was born at this point. There had been other projects in the past. Fun projects like Quasi and the Modoes, Sub Sonic Commune, Warning and Sampling Community. These were all in the big studio where you got friends in and you did and track here and there and nothing happened. But Aural Rage, I thought now I've got my own working studio I have to do something. I pestered Geoff for yonks to do vocals and I sent him over loops and stuff and he was all up for it but nothing would ever happen. I subsequently now know that he was going through his own demons and it would have been very hard. Pete finally managed to pin him down and got him to sing the 'Fj Nettlefold' song. Pete put them on a CD and sent over all the vocal takes. Before I finished the track I heard Geoff was dead and so I never even got to play it to him and I would have loved to play it to him and he could have directed me on how he fancied it going. I would have loved that. I never got that chance, which is a real shame but that's Aural Rage.
And then there was Electric Sewer Age Moon's Milk In Final Phase release which featured some of the final recordings of Peter Christopherson, tell us about this? How did it fit with the earlier series of Moons Milk/Equinox recordings? And are there more Electric Sewer Age releases planned?
The Moon's Milk In Final Phase, it's a funny thing. Electric Sewer Age was an idea by a guy called John Deek (proprietor of the Divine Frequency label), who unfortunately died last April - it seems to be a common theme at the moment. The idea that he put to me and I put to Pete was for a whole bunch of us in the whole wider circle of things - whoever that might encompass. It could encompass Cyclobe... and anyone Pete could get his hands on. It would have been a nice wide circle. The idea was all to do music, totally free of any preconceptions. It would be unnamed; no-one would be credited. Let's say you did an album of, say, 15 tracks all done by different combinations of people that you admired, that you enjoyed and got on with. It could be any combination of people working on these tracks. The album would go out and there would be no credits. Now people would obviously be made aware of who might be on there, as you'd need to drum up sales, but they wouldn't know who was involved in what particular tracks. The idea was to see if people would like it without a preconceived idea that that was their favourite guy or "I don't like that guy so I don't like this track". That was the original idea and Pete really enjoyed that idea and he said he'd like to get involved. A load of tracks were done and they were put to bed because we were doing other things. I got back to England and suddenly Pete's dead and we had three tracks I'd worked with him on and who is going to release them? Some pirates or someone somewhere out there? That wouldn't be fair. These were tracks I'd work with Pete on. So these tracks were originally going to be on a Coil release, I assume to flank out the original Moon's Milk tracks, to add to them. But now they were bastard childs. So John Deek said let's put them out as the first Electric Sewer Age release. I mean, I know that goes against everything that Electric Sewer Age was meant to be because these were Peter Christopherson tracks. People would know who created these tracks but because of the timing it seemed yeah, let's just do it. The original ethos was to go slightly against the grain. Well this goes against the grain against the grain we were going against. We kicked it backwards and forwards and I talked to Ian Johnstone (John Balance's partner and executor of his estate) and Jordi (Devas, the executor of Peter Christopherson's estate) who was representing Pete's interest and in the end everyone okayed it. So technically that first release would have been the last Coil release, I assume, but it became the first Electric Sewer Age release.
Will there be another Electric Sewer Age release? Yes there is. Right as I speak now in the factories of Poland is being made Electric Sewer Age 2 which is Bad White Corpuscle with 6 tracks, 4 of them done in those original sessions in 2006 from the original idea. Each track created in Bangkok, London and Texas and passed around. For release 3 I really need to get more people on board and hopefully before they die!
Do you keep up with the work of the former Coil members? Could you foresee working with them again?
I guess the only one I ever really got on with was Drew McDowall. Nice guy but I haven't seen him since we came back on the plane from New Orleans. Steve (Thrower) was out of Coil so early I haven't seen him in 20 years. So I don't think I could be working with any former Coil guys because the only Coil guys who were really Coil are both now dead. The rest of us were bit part players to the main actors. It doesn't matter what we think we were. Without Pete and Geoff there was no Coil. The Cyclobe boys are going off and doing their own thing. They've borrowed the guys who played live with Coil and they've created their own thing which when I hear it is really, really good. They wouldn't need me and even if we did get on I can't imagine we'd do any music together. Although I'd be really happy for them to work on some things with me from my end of things, though I don't think they'd be calling me too quickly.
What's your best memory of working with Coil and you abiding memories of both John Balance and Peter Christopherson?
My best memory of working with Coil and the both of them has to be New Orleans. You have to understand with Love's Secret Domain we were pretty much so drugged up and stressed, and working such long hours. It was painful. Stolen and Contaminated Songs was okay because we did it at their house. That was quite enjoyable but it was like an afternoon tea with your aunties type session. We didn't do long hours and we couldn't play it that loud because of the neighbours. It was probably like the Joe Meek days. We were doing it in the house but without the noise. But in New Orleans we were all free in a new city with all the enthusiasm that brings, in a good city. So we were all on a buzz anyway, plus we were in a very fine studio. And Geoff had seemed to have been taking vocal lessons as his voice just seemed to project power that I hadn't heard before. So that was the most enjoyable with both of them but the most enjoyable overall for me would have to be from 2006. I had split with my wife of eighteen years and kids and found myself sofa surfing to try and keep a roof over my head while I tried to sort my life out away from my family and small studio. The invite from Pete to come out to his new home in Thailand and make some music was just perfect timing for me. To get out there with his enthusiasm and the enthusiasm for the work and his new life was just a joy. It was something I'll always remember. It was fantastic and we did some good results as well. It felt like we were in a magic place.
My abiding memory of John is on the Love's Secret Domain sessions. We'd been up for what seemed like days. It seemed like three days in a row, maybe it was two, but it was a long time. It was quite drug fuelled and we were working on 'Further Back and Faster' where there's a speech by Charles Laughton: "the fingers on the left hand say love, the fingers of the right hand say hate" - and Geoff and Steve Thrower got involved in a conversation about the political implications of whether the left hand or right hand said hate. It just went on and on and on and it got to the stage we just had to fall on the floor laughing because it was just so surreal. That is my overriding memory of Geoff, that and going down to visit him in Weston-Super-Mare where he cooked up a dried mushroom dish. He always liked dried mushrooms and chillies, it seemed. My overriding memory of Pete is just his love for life. His enthusiasm was infectious. He was just a person who could push you to things but he didn't push you with an iron rod. He just pushed you with his enthusiasm.
Does your experience of working with Coil still seep into your solo work?
I don't think it couldn't. I assume the people that worked with Pete on video production were affected by his methods and carry that into their work and it's the same with music. Particularly from 2006 when I popped over to where Pete had set-up his new life in Thailand, full of enthusiasm and reborn passion for life almost - after the grim previous years. His love of technology and of new things, creating instruments and manipulating sounds. It reinvigorated my enthusiasm for making music. In the music business sometimes and especially if you're technologically based as opposed to an acoustic guitarist let's say, there comes a point where everyone around you not in music is like "when are you going to get a proper job?". Being out with Pete in Bangkok we were like two kids making music and it was brilliant.
How do you feel about the release of the Coil / Nine Inch Nails - Recoiled release?
I feel good, I mean I okayed it and sent over the files. Justin at Cold Spring has been very fair and come across as a really decent guy. I've got no complaints with it. I'm very happy. If I had sent tapes to a friend to listen to and this release had come out at the side without my knowledge I'd be pissed off but I've had total say on this and I'm happy.
Like I mentioned before, Electric Sewer Age 2 - Bad White Corpuscle, which should be in my hands soon. It's been a labour of love. Selling that is the next thing - trying to sell off the rest of that that's not gone pre-release. There will be another Aural Rage as I've got a load of vocal parts that need songs put to them. I'm also negotiating a vinyl release of Aural Rage's A Nature Of Nonsense which contains that Geoff track we spoke about. It is 10 years since Geoff died but that's just coincidence. Someone approached me and we're organising a double gatefold vinyl release of that with new artwork, new mastering and maybe a new running order with extra tracks.
Aural Rage - Danny Hyde's site for ordering Aural Rage and Electric Sewer Age releases
Threshold House - label for Coil downloads and posthumous releases, plus solo work from Peter Christopherson
Coil at Brainwashed - archive site for all things Coil related
Cold Spring - label for the Coil/Nine Inch Nails Recoiled release
The Young Americans - The Young Americans trailer featuring 'Gave Up'
Se7en - Se7en opening credits featuring Nine Inch Nails remixed by Coil