Attrition

Following the up and coming release of their fantastic new album, Dantes Kitchen, Keith Elcombe catches up with Martin Bowes, of one of the scenes most steadfast bands to date. (July 2004)

1. So, it’s been a while since the last Attrition outing (and four years since Hard Wired interviewed you – we were a printed magazine back then). Besides touring and performing, has all your time been spent putting together the new album?
Well, no…! like most musicians I have to work my time between my musical projects and my money making projects!!!… in a lot of ways I prefer to keep them separate… I teach music technology here in Coventry at a local college to pay a lot of my bills…that way my music does not have to depend on any financial return…I like it this way…

2. Why the album title, ‘Dante’s Kitchen’? What’s so special about this name to you?
It represents the space I am in right now!… or was when I wrote the album…it’s possibly lightened up a bit since then…I went through some difficult times…but came out the other side… on the title track I’m refering to Dante’s inferno….and the kitchen…somewhere to sustain life…
I use a lot of symbolic references in my songs…I blame it on being an art student in a previous life…!

3. You seemed surprised that I’d labelled you as a Goth band when reviewing the new album – does it surprise you that you have so many Goth’s following you musically?
I’m more than happy to admit to a love of most things “gothicfrom people and places to films and music… but not “goth”… I really don’t like that word and it’s connotations… I know we’ve always created a dark music and I’m happy that anyone likes it…but it’s not “goth” music… it’s really not…

4. What would you say has changed in the Attrition world since the studio release of the last album (‘Jeopardy Maze’)?
A lot is the same actually… the same people are involved on the whole…I worked with one or two different guests on the new album…like Rafael on violin…the technology has come on…I did a lot more work on computer with this album which allowed me to get more into the heart of the sounds and manipulate more…I’m pleased with that way of working…taking live sounds and electronic sounds…mixing up analogue and digital and editing it all on the computer in the end…

5. You worked with some other artists on the new album (Liz Green from Swarf for one) – how did this come about?
Well as I have worked with a number of different female vocalists over the years I decided it would be good to record this album with a few different singers…rather than restrict it to the one…I’ve know Liz for a few years now so I just asked…I sent her a demo of “The Ladder” and she sent me a cdr full of ideas which I edited for the final track…

6. Is there anyone you would’ve liked to have worked with on this release but couldn’t?
I don’t think so… no I was happy with the way it went…maybe next time…!

7. Why so many snippets of differing musical styles on this album? (BTW, congratulations for still keeping that distinctive Attrition sound despite the new styles!)
I’ve absorbed a lot of new influences since the last album… I’m always open to new music…particularly new electronic music…my live keyboards man Simon is into the whole warp/electronica thing and I took that on board…I think that is the area of electronics that is moving things forward…I’m sure this will distance me from the “goth” thing…! I’ve had a couple of comments from “goth” people saying that they think the new album is too “modern”…(that they prefer the 80’s things…)
Well that’s the same sort of thing people said about us in the 80’s!!…

8. Is it an experience you would repeat for future releases?
I really don’t know what I’ll do on future releases yet… but yes I’m always going to progress and try new things… there would be no point in repeating myself…

9. Did the final cut of the album have all the tracks you produced on it, or where some left off? If so, why?
I always work on more than enough tracks for an album as inevitably I’m not happy with one or two tracks and at some point they are dropped…or I sometimes combine them into new ones…the intro on the album “andante” is actually the intro to a song that never made it on the album!…

10. Care to tell us how you got to work with (relatively unknown act) Mana Erg? You’re down as mastering their new album, ‘The blind watchmaker’.
Bruno from Mana erg just emailed me and asked if I was interested in mastering the album!… I’ve done quite a lot of work with other bands in my studio…

11. Is working closely with new bands something that you enjoy and get a sense of achievement from?
I do enjoy that…working with other musicians… there’s something to be learned by everyone… it’s important…

12. What attracted you to Mana Erg?
I enjoyed the album… some interesting stuff…I like the fact that it is unclassifiable.. something I feel myself about my own music sometimes…and a good thing creatively, if not commercially!!…

13. What were the high and low points of making this new album?
The high points are always the potential of a piece of music… when it’s nearing completion I can get such a creative high off a piece that is working well.. the low points are always those criticisms I will always make of everything I ever do… that slight disapointment with the finished piece…it never quite reaches heaven if you like… but that’s what drives me on to making the next album…

14. Which track/s would you say are your favourite on the album, and why? (Apologies for putting you on the spot here.)
It’s difficult… depends on my mood and now we are starting to perform them live there is a different slant on some of them which changes my opinion sometimes…I guess if I was put on the spot I would say “Two Gods…”….let’s go with that one…!

15. How do you feel technology has helped shape the Attrition sound over the years? Is it as important today as it was say, twenty-odd tears ago?
Well there wouldn’t BE an attrition without modern technology!… it has enabled me to create music with no traditional musical skills… a very empowering thing and yes…it’s as important now as it always was… maybe in different ways…there is so much more technology and ways of working…which I like…the creative possibilities have expanded…

16. Is it too early to ask what’s in the release pipeline for Attrition next?
Actually I have a big box full of remixes here from a lot of different bands and an excellent DVD video production for one of them so we’re thinking of putting out a mid price remix/dvd/cd follow up to this album in a few months…there’s some interesting mixes from people in a lot of different scenes…

17. What sort of tour are you planning to support the new album?
We are starting with some UK shows and then will tour around europe later this year and then most likely the USA… we usually tour in smaller pieces so we can fit it into our other projects… we’ll continue with the tour for a year or so…probably boosted by that remix release…

18. Outside of music now, what has really got your back up over the past few years?
Well, since I split with me ex-girlfriend a few years ago I’ve had a lot of problems getting access to my 2 children…I had to take her to court last year over this..and won…but it was something I’d never considered before…
The fact that in this country fathers don’t seem to have any real rights when it comes to looking after their own children….you have the right to pay for them but not to see them…you have probably seen the protests against these arcane laws recently….Something will have to change soon…

19. Finally, if there were one thing about your life that you could change, what would it be?
Hmmm….I would change this last question!!!!!

Thanks for the interview!
Martin Bowes