My future plans are to keep doing what I’m doing until I can’t do it anymore.
01/11/2015, Xavier KRUTH
Blaine L. Reininger of Tuxedomoon, is touring solo again, playing songs from much valued solo records as Night Air and Book of Hours, mixed with Tuxedomoon classics. After his show in Brussels, I took the opportunity to ask for an interview of this childhood hero of mine. We met two days later at the ‘Maison du Peuple’ in St-Gilles. Upon entering the place, Blaine immediately decided that it was too ‘hipster’ for his liking, so he proposed to do the interview in ‘Le Picasso’. It turned out to be ‘Le Louvre’, but we understand the connection.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview you. I want to start with the reason why we’re here. You are actually touring solo again, which you didn’t do for twenty years. Why did you choose to start again?
I have started working with an agent, a Flemish guy, Pieter De Clercq. We started working with him with Tuxedomoon, and he found some shows for me solo. That’s really it. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it; it’s just that I couldn’t find any shows, really.
For twenty years?
Well, I was working with Tuxedomoon. A lot of things happened. I also met this guy, Georgio Valentino. We were playing together. I was also playing with his band…
You recorded some things with Georgio Valentino…
Yes, and he was playing some of my songs in his shows, like Night Air and Japanese Dream. So he invited me to come along, and I did that a few times.
On several records of him…
Not just on records, also on live shows in different places like Ghent and Rennes… I had an invitation to play this special show in Amsterdam last year. I asked him to come and play, and it worked out really well. I adapted some of my songs to play on guitar, even though those songs were written for keyboard. A lot of songs on my Night Air album were written for keyboard, but they worked out fine with two guitars and a laptop.
So you met Georgio ‘The Dove’ Valentino because he asked you to do shows with him at first…
He asked me to record with him too. We met online. He wrote to me. At first, he asked me to do an interview. He works as a journalist. He was working for The Bulletin, and now he works for Flanders Today. He writes a column every week. He does reviews of restaurants, concerts and things like that. I met him in his capacity as a journalist, and then he wrote to me and asked if I wanted to play on one or two of his songs, and I said ‘why not’. Of course he offered to pay me, and that’s always helpful. He came down to Athens, and we did that work in my apartment, in my studio. I liked the guy, we got along and we became friends.
Luc Van Lieshout - the trumpet player in Tuxedomoon - also plays on the records of Georgio…
Well, only in the sense that I guess Georgio has been a Tuxedomoon fan. He came to Brussels and he met the people of Tuxedomoon who were living here. Geduldig was living here then, and Luc still lives here. He started to see them once in a while, and he invited Luc to play, and he invited me later. (Georgio Valentino will play in Ghent on the 3th of December on the invitation of Dark Entries en Il Uovo d'Oro.)
I heard you are planning big things for 2016, with Tuxedomoon. It might be connected to 40 years of Tuxedomoon…
2017 is 40 years, so it’s not really connected with that. Once again, it is the work of our agent. We were looking for a long time for an agent to work with us. We went through several candidates over the years, and we finally met this guy, Pieter, also online. I meet all these people because I’m a big internet guy. He started to book shows for Tuxedomoon as well. For some reason he had more success than some of the people we worked with before. We did a lot more shows, in Paris, in Berlin, in this part of Europe. For some reason our old agent was finding us shows in Bulgaria and Croatia and Poland, and not in Germany, Belgium, Holland, England… This guy did. He suggested some clubs where Tuxedomoon would play Half Mute in its entirety. We’ve been pretty active in the last few years. We released this vinyl thing called Pink Narcissus, and then the Blue Velvet-soundtrack. There has been a lot of interest and activity related to these things. People are starting to get excited about this Half Mute-tour. There should be quite a few shows in 2016.
Still, even if Tuxedomoon only occurred in 1977, you met Steven Brown in 1976. That was the start…
I guess I met him in ’76, but briefly. Very briefly. We had a mutual friend in San Francisco. He knew us both in school. He thought that we should meet, because we were kind of local scene leaders in our towns. I was in a band and I was the editor of an underground newspaper and Steven had this café where he ran a cinema. We met briefly in ’76. Then I went to school in San Francisco College to study electronic music, and I met Steven there. He was in the electronic class. We didn’t really see each other for quite some time. I didn’t really pay attention to him. He never came to class. He came to school to use the gear, like a lot of people. We had a very nice synthesizer laboratory. At the end of the year - and that was ’77 - all the students did a concert with what they were doing. And that was where I noticed that what he was doing was very interesting. What I was doing was interesting too. So we got together then.
What I heard is that you invited him for a gig that was already booked under the name ‘Tuxedomoon’. So the name came from you.
That’s right. I wanted to do something. I had done a performance for school using my recordings, my compositions, my poetry and my films, my graphics and my computer. It was my idea to include all these things, all these disciplines. School was almost over and I decided I wanted to leave school. I didn’t really have time, I wanted to do something else, to move on. I wanted to take that performance and do it somewhere else.
There was this café where a lot of our friends worked and I asked them if I could do some show there. So we organized a show and I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do. I knew that I had my tapes from school. A date for that show was organized. It was coming closer and I had nothing. So I asked if we could postpone the date. And then I called Steven. We started to play together. And I thought it would be good to work with him. The show was already booked and I had the idea for the name from other sources. It was from my writing. I wrote short stories and poetry and so forth. This name came up, and I kept it in the back of my mind to use for something. At first it was the name of a character in one of my stories. It was just something that a friend said, and I liked the randomness. It was kind of suggested by the universe. A lot of things that I saw in those days were useful because they kind of jumped out at me from the flow of events. Another thing was this ‘Joeboy’ production. It was a street graffiti that I saw in San Francisco, and I had no idea what it meant. As it turned out, it was the name of a Chinese gang. But I had no way to know that. I just thought it was some strange graffiti, street poetry. I said ‘wow’ and wrote it down to use it later for something.
So that’s where Joeboy came from…
Yes. It was dangerous really. The leader of this Chinese gang was named Joe, and his gang, his thugs, were called the Joeboys. The graffiti said that the ‘Joeboys police are’, which meant they were police informers. I didn’t know what the hell they meant, I just thought that it was great poetry and I used it in a song. I didn’t know any better, really.
You moved on pretty fast. You started making music together. There was the No Tears EP…
Well before that came Pinheads. That was very self-produced. We started to work together and we were always recording, from the very beginning. We had a kind of primitive recording setup that also belonged to the theatre company that Steven worked with.
The Angels Of Light…
Yes. We used their recording gear. A four track TEAC Tascam, very popular at the time. That’s what they had at school too. They had two of these TEAC tape recorders. We already knew how to use that for recordings. We saw advertised somewhere, a company in San Francisco… They would print 1000 or 500 vinyl 45” for 300 dollars. We got the money somehow. We played some shows, or we borrowed the money from a patron, an older guy that had a little more money than the rest of us. He rent us 300 dollar. We packaged the 45” ourselves in the living room. Friends did a limited edition with color xerox insert, color photocopy which is really high-tech, very advanced technology. We put those inside the package. It was only a year later that we recorded No Tears.
We had a little more money then. It was also thanks to patronage. We were playing around. We were visible and we were organizing our own events. We put on things in a storefront space. We called it the ‘Salon Chez Dada’, and we invited our friends to come. We had installations, art on the walls and different kinds of performances. We were already working together for a while, a couple of months, and we had our repertoire songs. A friend of ours made a stage set. That’s where we met Winston Tong. He performed in that. I guess Steven knew him already. I saw what he was doing and I said ‘wow, this guy is great, we should work with him in some way’. The idea in the beginning was very inclusive. It was kind of an artist cooperative where we would invite all our friends. We invited Winston. He came over at one of our rehearsal sessions with Steven and I. He brought us some interesting drugs. He said they were happy pills from the veterans in hospital. I don’t know what they were, but they were great whatever he brought, and we just played on into the night. Winston was singing, and it worked out very well. That was our first session together.
We already had been together for a year at least, and we met some other guy who came in with some money. He was involved in a car crash with a bus at the airport. He had a lawsuit and he got a big sum of money. I don’t know, 200.000 dollar or something. He decided he wanted to start a record company and become artist manager and he wanted to start with us. So he gave us the money to produce No Tears. We recorded most of No Tears once again in our home studio, except for the song No Tears itself. By that time we met an engineer, who was a refugee from swinging London. He had an eight-track studio in San Francisco, and he recorded it, and gave it a very interesting spin. That was the only song that was recorded in a proper studio. Once again, we found some kind of bargain manufacturer. Some company in Texas. They would produce records for like church groups and high school bands for these bargain prices, and they did the first pressing of our EP.
How do you feel about the very lasting experience of just that one song: No Tears? Tuxedomoon doesn’t really want to play it anymore, but you still do.
I play it. In that way, I’m like Paul McCartney. I mean, he’s shit mostly, but he has no fear in playing what his audience wants to hear. I think it’s the height of stupidity, if you wrote and recorded a song and there are people there who come to see you because they like that song, to say: ‘no, we don’t play that song’. It’s like Lou Reed didn’t want to play ‘Walk On the Wild Side’… Well, Lou Reed is a major asshole, everybody knows that. It’s not like people are asking me to play Feelings or Strangers In The Night. People want me to play a song that I wrote and that they like, so I think it’s good to play it for them. It’s a good song. I’m happy that we have something almost like a ‘hit’, it’s like an underground version of a hit.
After No Tears, Peter Principle - or Peter Dachert - joined at a certain point. There was a clash with The Angels Of Light, and so you didn’t have any material left. And Peter was the only one with a working amp, so…
That’s what he says! That’s not true. (laughs) What did happen? We did have a falling out with Tom Tadlock from The Angels Of Light. The Angels Of Light were absolutely anarchist. They were against money. They were against charging for shows and they saw me as this terrible influence, because I wanted to play in bars that paid us money and being able to live from what we do and use the money to do things… They hated that, so they kicked me and Steven out. They cast us out. So we were on our own.
We had been dependent on their tape-record and loops and things like that. The two of us didn’t have that tape-recorder anymore. We didn’t own any of that stuff. We didn’t own the synthesizer that we used. I had a guitar, and that was it. I had some money that I got when my father died and Steven and I found that Vox Continental organ for 200 dollars in a pawnshop. We had one amplifier, and I rented another amplifier. That’s all we had. We tried to play with just that setup: me on guitar and Steven playing organ, but it didn’t work very well. We needed at least one other guy. A bass player, ideally. We started to ask around. We asked on the radio, and Peter heard the radio show and he came to audition for us. And he was good, you know. We had some other people on audition, and several came in with instruments that they made themselves, they would make one interesting sound… There was one bizarre electronic devise that would make two or three interesting sounds. But they didn’t know anything about music. We needed a real actual musician. Peter came along and he knew how to play his instrument. When we asked him to play C, F and G, he played C, F and G. He was an actual musician, and not just an artist, a poseur, a dilettante. We hired him immediately.
Together with Peter, you did the great record Half Mute, which was kind of an instant success…
The key there is that The Residents called us one day. They had been watching us. They had wanted to sign DEVO, and they got beat to the punch by Warner Brothers. So they wanted to sign some other band from the local scene, and they chose us. And also these other bands: Chrome and a band called MX-80 Sound. They looked around to see who would be a good investment, and they decided that we were, because we were already doing things on our own. That’s how Half Mute came about. It was funded by The Residents. We wrote that music in that period, in ’79. We went into a very interesting studio to record that stuff.
The interesting thing is that after Half Mute, you did an European tour and then decided to move to London to record Desire. Why did you choose to go to Europe?
In New York, we met an agent who was working with a lot of interesting bands in England. He was working with Joy Division, for instance. He was something like Broadway Danny Rose, a movie by Woody Allen about a guy who discovers all kind of great people, and they all leave him. This man was like that. He was working with Joy Division, Michael Nyman, Clock DVA… He was also one of the first to discover Depeche Mode. He saw us in New York and he approached Steven about doing a European tour. The idea was to tour with Joy Division. The tour was booked, and then bozo killed himself. We had to rethink what we were going to do. We did the tour anyway. And that’s how we met the Brussels connection, with Les Disques Du Crépuscule, Michel Duval, Annick Honoré…
These guys were already working with Factory in England. They organized that show at Plan K. Just after we signed with The Residents, we were approached by an English company, a guy who worked with Charisma Records. This guy was starting a sub-label called Pre. He called us, and he wanted to sign us. But he was just too late. We had signed a deal with Ralph Records. So he signed a deal with Ralph Records also, just to have us. Charisma had very interesting things. They were a famous record company who had Monthy Python. It is because of them that we decided to record in England. Also, we had made contact with John Foxx of Ultravox. Via the press! We were both talking with interviewers. They asked him what American bands he liked, and he answered Tuxedomoon. And they asked me about English bands, and I said Ultravox. And so we met, and he introduced us to his engineer. A guy called Gareth Jones, who also went on to work with Depeche Mode. We went to this studio out in the country in England, in Surrey, with cows and sheep. It was a kind of residential studio where you went to live and eat and work. John Foxx wasn’t involved in any real way, but he came around while we were recording.
He was not meant to participate on Desire? I heard something like that.
We didn’t know if he would be involved. As it turned out, he was not involved at all, except to introduce us to Gareth and to come around to some of the sessions, and to help us around in London and suggest some interesting people to work with. During that tour, just before we went in the studio, Peter met a woman in Rotterdam. He wanted to go back and spend some time with her: Saskia Lupini. She still lives in Brussels. After we finished recording Desire, he went back to Rotterdam, and Steven went with him. They met some people in Rotterdam, in the local scene. In particular this man called Frankie Lievaart, who is now a famous engineer who works with Gogol Bordello. They went there and hung out with these people. They recorded there. They did this music that they called Joeboy in Rotterdam. Me, I went back to the United States to bring the master back of Desire. My wife took it to The Residents, and I stayed in New York. Anyway, after that we went back to San Francisco for a short time, and there was another tour booked, this time by a French company called Celluloid. They signed a bunch of San Francisco bands, with us and a band called Indoor Life. They booked a tour of friends really. So we all came over. Those guys arranged our ‘artist in residence’ in Rotterdam, at an utopian architect commune called ‘Utopia’. That’s how it went. After the tour, we went to Rotterdam, and there we were.
You started rehearsing in a ‘Sous-Sol’…
Yes, we were in a basement. That’s where we worked, and that’s where the music was born called ‘Suite en Sous-Sol’.
But you added things later on. The Moroccan influences, were they not added once you came to Brussels?
That’s the way we worked. We didn’t really draw… For one thing, we didn’t really intellectualize what we were going to do before we did it. We would just follow the course. These things would come up as they came up.
So, you went to Amsterdam, and you had this famous accident. The ‘Broken Fingers’-accident, so to say...
I went to Amsterdam to do my first solo show. I had been working on things of my own, outside of Tuxedomoon. I was using tape. So I could play the instruments myself. That means I don’t have to work with other people. It’s hard to find good people to work with. Even in Tuxedomoon, there were a lot of the things I had written that didn’t catch on with the other guys. They had different ideas about art. So I just said ‘hey, fuck you then, I’ll do it by myself’. And that’s what I did. That night, I was out looking for an automat. I wanted to have some of these croquettes. I was hungry. I didn’t eat. I didn’t have any money… That’s another reason I did a solo show. I was completely broke. I saw some guy on the street, I asked where there would be an automat. He was a kind of junkie. He grabbed my bag and I started chasing him. He was just an ordinary junk, not a professional thief or something. A little drug addict. And he was scared. I was chasing him. I was drunk. He threw my bag down. I saw my bag and I guess I ran out into the street. I don’t know what happened then. I hit my head and woke up in the hospital.
Which caused you to leave Rotterdam. It is also something I heard. You lived in a kind of watermill - was it something like that? - and the owner threw you out.
Yes, it was an old water treatment plant where they made the drinking water for Rotterdam. It was an old one. They had a big water tower there, and they converted it to live in. These other people, well… they didn’t like us anyway. They were all hippies, you know. And we were kind of rowdy and took drugs and drank a lot. They didn’t like the kind of stuff that we were doing, or they didn’t understand it. They just wanted to get rid of us. They didn’t do that right away, because I was sick. I couldn’t go anywhere. But finally they just said: ‘get out of here, fuck off, we don’t care what happens to you, goodbye…’
At more or less the same moment, Maurice Béjart invited you to Brussels…
That was just before that. It became obvious that we had to leave. Steven came down to Brussels from Rotterdam that summer, and he made some contacts, met some people… As it turned out, Maurice Béjart was already using our music in another piece. He used some things from Ralph Records to do a piece. And he decided he wanted to commission a whole ballet from us, about Greta Garbo. That was one of the reasons we lived here. Steven found us some places to live in.
At the Plan K?
They were apartments of members of Plan K, all around the city. So we all came here and we started working on that. And then I stayed here for 18 years. I finally left in 1998.
Brussels was a great period for you. You released ‘Suite en Sous-Sol’, the music for the Béjart ballet was released as Divine, and then you started working on what was perhaps a too ambitious work: The Ghost Sonata…
That was commissioned by a theatre festival in Italy.
It fitted in the ambition of Tuxedomoon to combine music, theatre, film…
Yes, sure. Just before that, this English man we were working with told us to ask the English Art Council for a grant. He saw that we were kind of arty guys. And so we did. I wrote a proposal to the Art Council in Nottingham. Surprisingly enough, they came through with a residency for us. We had a three week residency in Nottingham in England. The idea was to organize some performance using local people, in different ways. Winston was involved, I was involved, we had some high school girls who were playing the string arrangements I wrote, we had a local band called The Howdy Boys. They were never heard of again. They played a couple of songs. We gave lectures and did performances in schools. It was while doing this ‘community theatre’ that some of the ideas for Ghost Sonata were born. That piece was kind of a prototype for what would come later. We then had this commission from this theatre festival ‘Polverigi’ in Italy to do a big performance. That was The Ghost Sonata.
Most of that took place in a video studio in Ixelles, called Pyramide Video Studio. The idea was to have live action synchronized with the video. They made the costumes and the stage props. It was foremost Winston’s doing. They worked on that every day. I decided I didn’t want to be involved in that. I worked on the music, the orchestrations in particular. Steven and I had written the music. We had a one of gig in a café in the center of Brussels, at the Grand Place: Le Paradis Tropical. There was a piano and a rehearsal studio. Steven and I went in and started to improvise with piano and violin. That’s how we always work. He played, I played, and it went on and on and on. I took some of that material, and I wrote it for orchestra. When I went to Italy, I had a sort of community, a volunteer orchestra of musicians from the town. I wasn’t involved in the stage show. I conducted the orchestra.
But then, the performances weren’t that successful. You were faced with practical problems and difficulties…
I remember the night of the first show. We were set up in the piazza, in the center of Ancona. We had a big black plastic surface. People heard Tuxedomoon would perform, and thought it was going to be a punk band. There were a lot of punks waiting for us to play. Then the show started, and they saw what it was. Somebody took a jar of mayonnaise, and threw it down on the stage. Splash! That was kind of indicative of how it was received. People came and thought it was going to be a band, and it was this very arty performance. We performed it at the festival itself, and that performance was OK. The one in the center of Ancona was not good. We did one very good show in Modena, which was probably the best performance of that. There was another performance that got rained out. The next night, we had a regular Tuxedomoon show, as an apology. I felt so much better in this other stuff. This is my opinion, right. Since that time, I have done a lot of theatre work, as an actor, played in Greek tragedy, and I enjoyed all of that. What I didn’t like about The Ghost Sonata is that it was too much like amateur theatre, or high school theatre. I think we were over our heads with that. Winston not, he was a schooled actor. But the production was very amateur, and it was kind of embarrassing. To a certain extend, it was that the Ghost Sonata experience that made me want to quit the band and go out on my own, and just do music. I wanted to be in a band. I didn’t want to be a ballet composer.
So you left the band. You already did Broken Fingers, and then you started working on Night Air. Also in difficult circumstances, I guess. Michael Belfer - the guitarist - said that you had absolutely no budget and didn’t even have enough money to buy food…
Oh yeah, we were very broke. We were very poor. Everybody was. Michael came over before I left the band officially. He came over to work with Tuxedomoon. There was just nothing. We had nothing. In between shows, there was no money for anybody, for anything… There was no recording budget. We didn’t have any shows. We didn’t accept any shows.
And then we had an offer from Les Disques Du Crépuscule to do another LP. They gave us a budget. It wasn’t a lot, but it was some money. I said: ‘yeah, let’s do it’, and Steven said ‘no’. It was not enough for him, it was not good enough for Steven. I was like ‘we are fucking starving here, we need money, we need a job…’ and Steven turned it down. I said to myself: ‘If this guy turns down that offer, I will leave this band’. And that’s what happened. I went to the guy myself, and I proposed to do the record. It was a question of survival. We were very poor. Michael Belfer told a story about making a cornstarch soup. He didn’t have any money, any food. All he had was some soy sauce and some cornstarch. He made some soup out of that. At one point, my wife and I had one Knorr cube. One! And one onion. So she cut up he onion, boiled the Knorr cube, and we were going to eat that. We were getting ready to eat, and than Winston comes over. He was broke too, and he was hungry. So the three of us shared one onion and one Knorr cube. So I thought: ‘how can we turn down an offer when we are so poor?’ Of course, by leaving Tuxedomoon and going out on my own, I had even less chance of making anything. At the beginning of my solo career, it was even tougher, there was even less money.
Night Air was a success, but its release was postponed…
Well, in the period of writing that music, there were no takers. Nobody was really interested in it. I had done some solo shows together with Tuxedomoon. At one point we played in Rennes, and I was the support group for Tuxedomoon. It was me and Michael. Michael was not playing in Tuxedomoon, he was just playing with me. That was before I left the band. Then I decided that I was going to do this, and Michael and I just started working together. We had a couple of shows, it was all kind of primitive. I didn’t have much equipment. But that’s when the songs for Night Air got written. Michel at Les Disques Du Crépuscule then proposed a budget. We set up the sessions to start recording this material, and I asked Gareth Jones if he would come along and engineer it. Of course, the guys from Tuxedomoon were on that record. Steven and Winston are on that record, and Michael Belfer of course. It was an interesting and very difficult time. Creatively interesting, but we were so poor. Of course, we were really stupid. We spent our money on stupid things. Drugs! But it wasn’t just that. There just wasn’t any money. We weren’t working enough. We weren’t getting paid enough. We were here in a strange place…
You released Night Air in ’84, though I think it was recorded in ’83. In 1985, Tuxedomoon had a big success with Holy Wars. How did you feel about that?
Before Holy Wars came out, Tuxedomoon was also kind of lost in the wilderness. They did this record called Soma that they produced and released themselves. Finally, they managed to get a deal with Crammed Discs. I had my deal before they did. And by the time Holy Wars came out, I wasn’t giving much attention to what Tuxedomoon were doing. Of course, I was angry with them. I was angry with Steven really, over the money issue, and creatively. I was very busy too. I had a band by that time. It’s hard to think about it now. Now, I’m touring with one guy and we take everything in two suitcases. In those days, I had my own PA-crew. I had a truck with a PA-system in it, and a crew of three-four guys. And a band. I had a drummer, a guitarist, a bass player and my wife with me.
So you were busy with your solo career, Tuxedomoon was busy with their career. But in ’88, you joined Tuxedomoon again.
At that point, I think Steven had kind of dissolved Tuxedomoon. He said: ‘Enough of this’. My solo career was not going well. So I asked myself what I was going to do. I went to see the guys from Tuxedomoon and see what they would think of touring together. It’s hard to talk about this without sounding like an asshole. But then, everybody is an asshole in this business. I was young and stupid and arrogant, but I also felt underappreciated in Tuxedomoon. I felt overshadowed by Steven. I felt that Steven pushed his own songs at the expense of mine. That’s one reason I wanted to leave. I said that if I would come back, I wanted to sing half the songs. Earlier, I was singing one song out of ten. Now I wanted equal billing on stage. It was like both of us in the corner trying to be N° 1. ‘Hey, look at me! Don’t look at him, look at me!’ But that tour was very successful for everybody. We were rock stars. We were making money, touring in a tour bus… I bought a new television. I had some money. And then… it was gone. We didn’t follow it up. We didn’t do it again. That was really stupid.
But you did a great recording with The Ghost Sonata that was finally released.
That took a long time. It’s because of James Nice. Now he has the new Crépuscule. He was a friend and a kind of fan boy too. He thought that The Ghost Sonata was something like Smile by The Beach Boys. He thought it was this lost album, because it was never released, and there were pieces of it here and there. I had released some of the recordings, and I had reworked some of the music. He wanted to release it. But that was much later. We took what we had. We had some things recorded live at the performances, like the orchestra. Those were OK, but they were kind of inferior. There had been a recording of that material by the BRT radio orchestra, but we couldn’t buy the rights. We didn’t have the money. It is a pretty good recording, and it got released on one of my records later on. It was James’ production. It was not with any label at that time. It was Les Temps Modernes, which was very low budget. I went in, and I overdubbed six or seven violins, and three or four viola’s, to make the orchestra better. The string players had not been very good, and the recording was not that good. We had to beef it up a bit, and retake some of those songs. We recorded them properly in a studio. And then we released Ghost Sonata.
You enjoyed an amount of success with Tuxedomoon, but it only lasted one or two years. In the early 90s, it was already over. Tuxedomoon was put on hold.
Well, Steven and I continued to work together. We toured with this duet thing. We did that for a couple of years. That was my main gig for quite a while. We played in Italy a lot, we played in France. We released some records with just the two of us. But Tuxedomoon didn’t exist, no. We did different things during the 90s. We were both making music. I didn’t have any other job.
You mainly did soundtracks for movies, theatre, dance…
Yes. I did work for films. I was also playing in films. For a few years, we didn’t do anything. Steven moved to Mexico, Peter moved back to New York and I was still in Brussels. Then Steven invited Peter to come to Mexico, and they did this record called Joeboy in Mexico, I guess with Luc as well. And they said: ‘We should get in touch with Blaine’. We got this offer from a dance company in Israel, to do a week or ten days residency in Tel Aviv. We already did a show in Tel Aviv in 1997, so we thought it could work. We had shows in Italy and Athens also. We decided to work together again. But it took a while. It took by three years to organize something. By 2000, we started to tour again.
I remember very well. I think it was in 2004, maybe 2003, and you played in Hasselt with Tuxedomoon.
Yes, but we had already been together. We did a tour of Germany with DJ Hell. He had done a remix release of No Tears. It was just the three of us: me and Steven and Peter. We also had a residency in Italy in 2001. And that’s where we wrote the songs for this CD that we released as Cabin In The Sky. A lot of these recordings were already in existence. Nothing happened for a couple of years, for one reason and another. We were waiting for DJ Hell, to see what he came up with. He is a famous DJ and had a lot of money. Than I sent the recordings to Marc Hollander at Crammed, and he said: ‘This is good, why didn’t you give it to me before?’ In 2003, we came to Brussels and we finished up that recording. That became Cabin In The Sky, our first release since I don’t know what, The Ghost Sonata perhaps.
Since, Tuxedomoon worked on several soundtracks. Bardo Hotel, from which I think the movie still isn’t released…
Oh no. There was no movie. It was kind of fake. There was going to be a movie, but less than nothing came of that. We had gone to San Francisco to work, which was interesting. We had wanted to work with Winston, but he never showed up. We tried to get him involved, and he just wasn’t interested. So we recorded some sessions in San Francisco, and we took these recordings and released them as Bardo Hotel. We had the idea of making some kind of film, and they did some filming toward that end, but the film never happened.
After Bardo Hotel came of course Vapour Trails. Last year, you released Pink Narcissus…
That Pink Narcissus was… This is the way we have to work. We need to have commissions. Somebody’s got to put up the money. We were offered to play at this Etrange festival in Paris, I guess it was in 2011, to play with this movie Pink Narcissus. We didn’t choose the movie. It was their idea. They would hire different bands to play this kind of cult movies. They had Coil and Psychic TV in previous years. So they invited us to play with that. That movie is not my cup of tea. It’s like gay pornography…
Luc said something similar…
It’s kind of disgraceful, actually. I mean, I would feel the same way about playing for Emmanuelle or something. It’s kind of soft porn. A lot of dicks. But it’s interesting visually. And it was an opportunity for us to get together. The festival paid for the plane tickets, which is always a big expense. We worked in Luc’s house. He had a house somewhere in the country in Belgium. We worked very quickly. We wrote this music - 90 minutes - in ten days. And then we performed it, and we recorded the live performance, which was a good thing. Because we went back to Luc and we recorded it while we still remembered it in a multitrack situation. But then Luc was moving his computer, and the hard drive fell out. All that recording was just lost. Thankfully, there was a good live recording. We edited the live recording and released that as the LP, which was very successful in its way.
For instance, they used a piece of Pink Narcissus in the New York Fashion Week. They sang along with Comme les garçons. That was really successful and made us a surprising amount of money. It was well received. The next project is Blue Velvet Revisited. It was with Cult With No Name.
Originally, it was them who would write the soundtrack.
One way or another, the director heard their record. It had nothing to do with Tuxedomoon. He heard this song where Luc had played trumpet. He loved that sound, and wanted to use that music. He contacted Cult With No Name, and they replied it was Luc ofTuxedomoon. Erik Stein of Cult With No Name was in a way the president of our fanclub. He started this band, and they’re like our students or our disciples. They would do the support in Berlin many times. A year ago, they were also supporting us in Berlin, and they introduced us to this director. That’s how the project unfolded. We were able to do some recording. We were in Athens last year, to play there. As it happened, some shows were cancelled and so we had time off in Athens. I had another fan boy to let us use his studio. We worked on that, and did some more work here in Brussels, in another kind of small rehearsal space. Then the music had to be edited and mixed and so forth.
A special thing with the Blue Velvet revisited is that you had to make the soundtrack before the film, which is the other way round as what usually happens…
Yes, that’s true. The guy wanted to edit the film after he had the music. He wanted to be inspired by the music for his edit. But you know, I have written music, and I didn’t really think about the project it was for. Even recently… I was doing a piece in Switserland, a video. I knew it was coming. I had sort of an idea of what it was about, but it’s not like I sat down with the video and watched it and wrote minute by minute. I sort of loosely knew the theme, and then I didn’t think about it. I just went and did my work. I started writing and things came out. I sent it to them and they decided on what they liked and didn’t like. That’s how I work, usually. I think about the project as little as I can.
Maybe you can tell us about your future plans?
My future plans are to keep doing what I’m doing until I can’t do it anymore. That’s my future plan. We’ll do the Tuxedomoon thing that I already told you about. My wife is doing the production of ‘Master and Margherita’ for the National Theatre in Athens. I will be involved in that. I’ll play the devil, and do the music. Next year, we’ll do the Half Mute-thing. And who knows, after that…
Georgio 'The Dove' Valentino, the man who accompagnies Blaine L. Reininger in his courant tour, will be playing in the Kinky Star in Ghent on the 3th of December on the invitation of Dark Entries and Il Uovo d'Oro.
De Nederlandstalige versie kun je op de pagina's van Dark Entries vinden.
THE POODLES • We have the luxury to play every night and to do what we loved to do.
DRACONIAN • We wanted Heike to be a part of the creative process, and so we wrote the vocals together.
SUICIDE COMMANDO • I thought it was about time to show the newer generation that Suicide Commando has more to offer then just “Bind Torture Kill” or “Die Motherfucker Die”.
AMARANTHA LABLANCHE • 'When all the crazy shit like touring and traveling is over I just really want to come home.'
SHERMAN • In Belgium upcoming musicians are treated much better.
ANTIMATTER • I am singing about myself, but I know most people will relate to what I’m saying anyway.
MIRLAND • I feel it’s a cultural catastrophe that music is slowly turning into muzak
BLINDNESS • Dark is much more interesting, don’t you think? How boring do you think a completely happy album would sound?
MONICA JEFFRIES • I am looking forward to release my album: News will following soon…
THE IMAGINARY SUITCASE • I've regularly been told it's not fair that I'm not more famous but hey, there is no such thing as fairness in show business... And it doesn't prevent me from sleeping well.