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10/04/2024 : ATTRITION - An Interview With The Legendary, ATTRITION

ATTRITION

An Interview With The Legendary, ATTRITION


10/04/2024, William ZIMMERMAN


The Black Maria is the new album just released by legendary UK-based darkwave/goth/industrial act, ATTRITION. The project has been in existence for over forty years while founder, Martin Bowes continues to break new ground with each album. We'd like to thank him for his time in the interview today.

Hello and thanks for taking time out today. The new album is ‘The Black Maria”. What can you tell us about the album and who is Maria?

The Black Maria was a menacing 19th Century figure who would come to take away our outcasts and miscreants...later used as the slang term For UK police vans... Nothing much has changed...the new album deals with concepts upsetting state control (The Great Derailer) relationships (The Alibi) societal manipulation and alienation (The Zero Hour) the political and religious mistake (The Black Maria) and it's deviations

You’ve been in the music industry for quite some time. How has your approach and your studio/technological approach changed since the early days?

We started out at the end of 1980... really coming from an art background I approached music in a very experimental way...using found sounds and putting instruments through tape loops and delays... gradually getting more electronic instruments on board... I bought an early 4 track cassette portastudio in 1981 and we started recording music on tape... many of which ended up on the cassette boom releases of the time... we would play as much as we could too as part of the new UK industrial scene... the studio was at home and improved as it went on... aft those early years we signed to independent labels such as Third Mind and Antler and Contempo and would get into “proper” studios to record the albums we made ion the rest of the eighties... I learned a lot from that and eventually set up my own “proper” studio in the nineties “The Cage”... taking on board those early experiments and the skills i'd learned along the way... so to answer... my approach has progressed but retains those early experimental elements today...

Your latest video is for the song, “The Alibi “. Can you talk about the concept? If there was another director, did they offer their artistic input?

As I had started out as a visual artist I had always wanted to return to visuals...possibly painting and sculpture again, but the lure of video proved to be the catalyst... I started experimenting during lockdown as we had no shows and some time on our hands (even though mys studio work for other bands had got very busy at the same time)... So The Alibi was actually the first video I had made myself... I was learning as I went on...in that way it really reminded me of those early eighties music recording days when we didnt know what we were doing but were doing it anyway... so the video is raw and I kind of like I that way... a new mix of the song is a part of The Black Maria :)

What’s the biggest technical challenge that you’ve had to overcome during the composition or recording process of the new album? That could be anything from a computer crash, “learning curve” or anything like that. How did you overcome it?

Well as I mentioned, lockdown hit us... we couldnt get together as a band at all.. so I started having people contribute more remotely... sending me wave files of their parts and I would edit and remake the songs around these additions...it took longer than it would have done but I am pleased with how it eventually turned out!

Were there any songs from the latest recording sessions that you decided to not release and if so, why?

I tend to work through ideas until I am happy with them... the joy of technology these days... so I had a lot of takes on the “cutting room floor”... contributions from musicians that didnt make the final mix, but all the songs themselves eventually made it to the album... as unrecognisable as some are from those early demos...

Conceptually, how has Attrition developed over the years? Do you maintain the same perspective of how you address certain topics or issues as you did previously?

I don't feel so much different in my views, feelings or convictions since those early days... i'm still an old punk rocker at heart... but after writing songs on specific subjects in the early days... Animal rights, racism, state and church control... to name a few... I couldnt keep repeating myself and my lyrics since then have dealt more with internal thought, and human behaviours... looking at the reasons behind the actions in a way.

I also write in a more subconscious or dream state now... the way we think most of the time!

You’ve digitally released a number of live recordings via Bandcamp. Why was this so important to you?

I always tried to save the flyers and reviews, the memorabilia of ATTRITION's journey...i've been fairly successful in that, (and a lot of this material will feature in a future book I am writing on our history)... part of that was recording shows... some were released on CD over the years... I realised I ahd a lot more live recordings and Bandcamp (and streaming) proved to be the perfect place to release these. I mastered them here in the studio.. i'd rather they were available for people to listen to rather than kept in an attic and eventually binned! They have proven to be pretty popular.

Can you talk about the live show? Are the tracks presented differently than in the studio? Do you perform mostly newer material or balance it with older songs?

It's a mix... biased towards the newer albums of course, bust we perform songs going back 30 years in some cases (The Mercy Machine) even neary 40 years (A'dam & Eva) The older tracks in particular have all been reconstructed... we have little of the original equipment now and our sound has changed in some ways as we have taken on new influences and progressed. I like to work the songs so the live set works as a whole. I think it works!

Let’s say you were stranded on some island but you had the capability to put a flash drive with three of your most important songs into a sealed bottle and send it out to the world. These are songs that mean the most to you and best represent your legacy. What are they and why did you choose them?

We've written so many over the years but here is a choice for today...

1.Fate is Smiling (From the 1985 “Smiling, at the Hypogonder club” LP)

A song from our second album I always go back to... call it a mission statement if you will.

2. A Girl called Harmony (From the 1991 “A Tricky Business” LP

Our most well know song, my divorce song (well the first one) and the reason we got asked to play Goth clubs and festivals all over the world. I can never escape from the G word!

3. Two Gods (From the 2004 “Dante's Kitchen” LP - Exploring the nature of relationships... physical love, spiritual love, parental love...

In your live shows you use incense. Is this for a specific reason or just theatrics?

I burn incense almost every day at home... I have a collection from my world travels... I love the state it can put you in... not quite transcendental but slightly euphoric when it is right. The same reason it is used in Churches amd Temples all over the world.

I cant remember when I first started to bring that onto the stage... many years ago... it is such an important part of my live performance now... (and i've only ever set off one or two fire alarms!)... so to also answer the next question this is a ritual of sorts... but not prior, rather during the performance.

Thank you for the interview! The new album, The Black Maria, is released on pour own label, Two Gods on March 23rd, 2024, and is available direct from the ATTRITION bandcamp site

https://attritionuk.bandcamp.com

Take care

William ZIMMERMAN
10/04/2024


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