zondag 21 oktober 2018

Good news: Alien Sex Fiend is still "Possessed'

Dark Entries had a long chat with one of the more important batcave pioneers, Alien Sex Fiend (ASF), still going strong after a career of 36 years! Time to celebrate with a new album, both on cd and vinyl, and out in November. Dark Entries had the unique opportunity to prelisten to the new “Possessed” album by Alien Sex Fiend, and of course we had some questions! 

“Possessed” is the title of the new album by ASF... What does possess your minds lately and what kind of influences were important to give birth to the new album... the intro is rather ‘haunting’...

Nik Fiend : The intro is like an overture to the album, we used elements from different songs across the album to create it, to set an atmosphere... The start of the album actually goes back to 2012 when our old guitarist from the late 1980s to 90s, Doc Milton, had returned & the gigs with him went up several gears. They were electric! After a few years, I became very obssessed – or possessed! - with the idea of recording that band line up but we didn’t know whether that would be a couple of tracks or what. We went into the studio with some initial ideas & the recordings happened fast, the songs almost fell out of us. Doc was on fire, recording lots of guitar tracks which was unusual for him, but it is strange that he did record so much guitar because when he died in 2016, we had all that material to use on the album. After that, I had to be possessed in order to finish the album! We had to absorb the loss of Doc & we took a break while we compiled “Fiendology” (3 CD set, 35 years of ASF history), also  a number of other personal events interrupted work on the album, but always in my mind was the plan to finish “Possessed”. At times though it did feel like we were on “the road to Mordor” like in the Lord Of The Rings – it was a very long road!
Mrs Fiend : There were many obstacles along the way. So we are very happy that at last “Possessed” is going to be released on November 9th!

Do you agree with my point of view that during the decades ASF became harsher, harder and more experimental, “Possessed” sounds like a harsh, slightly experimental industrial batcave album, most bands growing older tend to write boring love songs... No for ASF... Sounds like you still got some ‘anger’ in you...

Nik Fiend : I think I thrive on angst!
Mrs Fiend : I don’t know what it is, but with a track like “Shit’s Coming Down” for example, I just love that full on beat! That appeals to me, or mental guitar, or mad spacey noises, not fucking love songs! It is interesting how some music that seemed to be “far out” or quite experimental years ago, doesn’t sound like that now, whereas other music has stood the test of time & still sounds weird! Basically we like weird, far out music!
Nik Fiend : I take it as a compliement that you think we are still experimental - after all these years, that’s an achievement! I always wanted to be in a weird, underground band! ASF can be anything it wants to be, since Day One it has been that way, we have always made different sounding songs,
Mrs Fiend : Every album is different.
Nik Fiend : A period of time gets locked into a record. You would not be able to re-create that particular time & that particular feeluing & sound, they are encapsulated in that recording. We’re not always aggressive musically, I think its probably 50/50. We don’t write 8 rockers & 2 power ballads per album!! We have never done that...We always do what we believe in, we’ve never been told what to record, or how to record, & if I was ever told I wouldn’t listen! (Laughs) We’ve always done things our way, our music is like alchemy ...

To me, listening to possessed was like a psychedelic trip through my inner mind, my darkest corners, my nightmares... was it the same for you? Or was the album created with that kind of purpose? A song like “Amnesia” is like a dark psychedelic trip...

Mrs Fiend : I wouldn’t advise listening to “Amnesia” on acid though! I think it would seriously mess up your mind!! (laughs) It’s scary enough when you’re straight!
Nik Fiend : Yes, its deranged! (laughs) Yes, I agree with you that this album is like a psychedelic trip, it’s great that those ideas have reached you from the music, I feel it is like progressive music but modern, 21st century. The album has created itself to be like that, there was no premeditated plan, or template, it has all come straight from our collective hearts, heads & souls, as it says in the lyrics to “It’s In My Blood”. We’re all in the shit together, I am going down the dark tunnel myself along with everyone else. It is like soul mining. Mining of my soul, it is deep, it goes deep, we have had a very challenging, difficult few years, I know that everyone has those periods of difficulties, it is life, I put all that into my lyrics & the music & the artwork that goes with the album.

You have been active in music business for over 35 years now. How do you look back upon the first ASF releases and this “Possessed”? Is there another approach in the making of the music, the writing of the lyrics etc ?

Mrs Fiend : We’re now in year 36 –eek! It is all “Alien Sex Fiend” music to us & we’re proud of everything we’ve recorded, as Nik said before, each recording captures a time & place & mood (feeling). No there isn’t any difference in how we create songs now, it’s always been the same way - somebody comes up with some element musically – it could be a beat, a guitar riff, a keyboard sound, a weird noise & then we build on that starting point.
Nik Fiend : That initial idea will usually spark up an idea for lyrics. But sometimes I like the sound of a track & I feel that it doesn’t need me to sing over the top. It is all down to how I feel at the time, I like having sections of music that I can just listen to without singing, I enjoy hearing the inter- play of the band & the different instruments weaving in & out & around each other .

ASF seems like a typical non commercial band, songs over 11 minutes, atypical structures and noises, atypical melodies,... Is this a conscious decision, or would ypu also aim for commercial success if commercial music wasn’t that boring? 

Mrs Fiend : In the UK, with a name like “Alien Sex Fiend” there was no way we were ever going to be on “Top Of The Pops” or Radio 1 (mainstream TV & radio) & it’s the same way now! It was a conscious decsision, we were well aware that the name was anti-commercial, so there was no point in a record company trying to manipulate the music or trying to buy us into the mainstream charts.
Nik Fiend : If we have done something “commercial” then it was accidental! (laughs) As we said before, the main aim of the band was to be a weird, underground band, we just wanted to be “Alien Sex Fiend” & do what we wanted to do because we believe in it.

To me “Carcass” is like thé new hit on the new album, referring in a way to that typical pretty insane sound of ASF as thé mark of ASF through the years. Do You agree? Possibly a 7” or 12” version in the pipeline?

Nik Fiend : It’s great that you like “Carcass” so much. Actually there are 3 different mixes of “Carcass” at the moment – the one on the CD, then a slightly shorter version “Carrion Mix” & the “Vortex Mix” both on the Double Vinyl, that last one is a more “rock” version, so there would be enough mixes for a single.
Mrs Fiend : A lot of people seem to like “Shit’s Coming Down” & “It’s In My Blood” too. There will be a digital single at some point we think, but maybe we’ll wait & see what tracks people like & then see what other mixes we might have lurking about.... 

How does the line up like today? And who was responsible for the realization of the new album “Possessed”?                                      

Nik Fiend : Me! (laughs)
Mrs Fiend : And me! (laughs) We’ve written on the album credits “Written, played, engineered & produced by Alien Sex Fiend” & that “Alien Sex Fiend are Nik Fiend, Mrs Fiend, Mat Pod & Doc Milton (RIP)” – so whatever you hear on the album, one of us four is responsible for it! Nik did the vocals, of course, & I did some backing vocals, Doc Milton played most of the guitar, but Mat Pod did the main riff guitar on “Ghost In The Machine” & the blasting guitar at the end of “It’s In My Blood” which is amazing. I did all the keyboard stuff, bass lines, & weird noises – as usual! Plus most of the drums. Mat added some extra electronic bits – weird effects on some things & some extra drums, particularly on “Amnesia” & some of the “Invisible” drums... We basically all worked on everything, all aspects, obviously with the loss of Doc it was the 3 of us who had to carry on to complete the album.
Do you agree, humor is also a main ingredient in the music of ASF... ?

Nik Fiend : It is a main ingredient in life! I don’t think you can get through life without humour, life would be very grim without it!
Mrs Fiend : Yes it is an ingredient in our music, but only one ingredient of many.
Nik Fiend : Otherwise we’d have become stand up comedians instead! (laughs)

A song that intrigues me a lot is “Ghost In The Machine” does it refer to the the work of philosopher Gilbert Rye, and his philosophy of the mind?

Nik Fiend : No, not especially, I’ve never done a philosophy course! I’d like to leave “Ghost In The Machine” open to interpretation. It was the first song we recorded, it came out of a jam while we were checking out the studio because we hadn’t been there before. One of my favourite parts of that song is the backwards guitar in the middle...
Mrs Fiend : To me , it feels like you are going down the rabbit hole Alice In Wonderland!
Nik Fiend : It was amazing how the different sonic elements fitted together, it’s a bizarre song, but really intriguing, you don’t know where it’s heading, I like that.

How would you promote the new album in your own words?

Nik Fiend : It’s music to comfort the disturbed & disturb the comfortable!

 The artwork (painting) is rather minimalistic, but closes in on the album very well, by far the most expressing and haunting ASF cover?

Nik Fiend : Thank you! I had various ideas for the cover, I always do have different ideas in mind, but that painting jumped out at me. 
Mrs Fiend : You should see it on the Double Vinyl cover, you can even see the texture of the canvas Nik painted it on & the brish strokes! It looks amazing, like it IS a painting.

What are the future plans for miss and mister Fiend? And for the band ASF? Are there any dates scheduled already to perform live?

Mrs Fiend : The next part of “the plan” is to play some live shows, but of course we will need to find a new guitarist, so it might take a little while.
Nik Fiend : We improvise a lot  at live gigs, & we’re unorthodox, so it isn’t a simple matter of somebody learning the chords & rehearsing the songs, you have to be immersed in it completely, but we think we have a solution, so stay tuned! Fingers crossed!

What do you prefer (and why) people still playing “Ignore The Machine” on a party or a song from the new album? 
Mrs Fiend : I dont mind – the fact that somebody wants to play any ASF song is the most important thing!
Nik Fiend : “Ignore the Machine” is as relevant as “It’s In My Blood (from “Possessed”) to me, both are songs that we wanted to record & release, nobody forced us to do it. I am as proud of our past songs as I am of the new ones. 

Thank you for your time, & I’m glad that you seem to have had an interesting trip with “Possessed”!!

The pleasure was and is ours!

(interview by darkestdweller / K.I.)         

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