Industrial music books for industrial music people

An interview Justin Mitchell and I did with Coil in 1991 appears in Nick Soulsby’s lavish Everything Keeps Dissolving: Conversations with Coil.

The cliche with interview collections or “XXXX in their own words” books is that they are a cynical cut and paste job to appeal to the fans. Nothing could be further from the truth here – Nick was very open to my suggestion that I write a new introduction to the interview I (half) did – and was very excited when I discovered the original tape.

I think it’s also fair to say that the art of the interview was something that Coil excelled at, so the book is generates a compelling narrative arc through the group’s obssessions, creative process and difficulties over time.

As is usual with Strange Attractor Press, it’s a luxurious affair that is a lovely thing to hold in your hand. I have a further short piece in another of their forthcoming titles too.

My holiday read this year was Wesley Doyle’s Conform to Deform: The Weird & Wonderful World of Some Bizzare.

As a teenager I was completely obsessed with Some Bizzare acts like Soft Cell, The The, Foetus, Psychic TV, Coil, and Neubauten. Still am. I was a bit sceptical about this book, but it’s actually a brilliant read – a tonne of interviews (new and old) strung together as an oral history. Stevo Pearce the autodidact svengali manager looms large, with many tales of his exploits securing major label deals for improbable people like Cabaret Voltaire, PTV and Test Dept. And his increasingly erratic behaviour and accounting processes. There are some fascinating insights into MDMA use before it became illegal too.

The really interesting material is the accounts by the women involved with the label who have never really had credit. Musician Anni Hogan gets an opportunity to set out her contribution to Marc Almond’s music post Soft Cell. Jane Rolink’s story is revealing and hilarious in equal measure – she is thanked in the sleevenotes of most of my favourite releases on the label and it turns out that she basically kept the show on the road whilst the various eccentrics spiralled out of control. Nobody has a bad word to say about either Anni or Jane. (The latter went onto to be handbag house superstar DJ Mrs Wood). Alaura O’Dell (formerly Paula P-Orridge) has some very incisive things to say about the label and the general atmosphere of early Psychic TV too.

As with many music books, this starts with heroic, creative young people and ends with slightly embittered drug casualties, but if you have an interest in the acts it is definitely recommended.