Nik and Mrs. Fiend: The most exciting subcultural couple in my opinion. For more than 30 years you work and live together. Do you separate your "fiendish" life from your private life or is it all linked together?
Nik Fiend : (Laughs) Wow, that is a great introduction! Thank you. Our fiendish life and private life are all one big glorious mess! We often don’t know from one minute to the next what we’re going to be doing, we improvise in our lives as we do in our music. We deal with shit as it happens… !
Mrs Fiend : In fact, we’ve been together almost 40 years – it was a love at first sight thing - and together in Alien Sex Fiend for almost 36 years, so it’s even longer than you thought. We can’t really believe it’s been so long ourselves! (Laughs) We’ve always liked the same things….
Nik Fiend : Yes, we felt the same or similarly about many things - music, films, comics, art, life, people, we understood each other, and we still do. We like being together as much as possible and it’s always been that way.
Mrs Fiend : Of course there are times when we’re not "Nik Fiend" and "Mrs Fiend" such as when we’re with our families, but most of the time we are doing something connected with "Alien Sex Fiend", sometimes together, such as this interview(!) and sometimes on different jobs, so Nik might be creating an artwork while I’m working on a drum beat.
Nik Fiend : ASF is simply an extension of who we are, and ASF is our life…
How is the situation when you're about writing songs? Did you argue sometimes about a line or something like that?
Nik Fiend : We both have independent minds about the music and lyrics. Mrs Fiend has her own opinions and she will voice them. I rely on that, she doesn’t say "oh, that’s marvelous, darling" about everything I do or suggest!
Mrs Fiend : And vice versa! We come at things from slightly different directions, but our differences aren’t too extreme. So I might like something whereas Nik will love it, but there’s rarely a case where I love something and Nik absolutely hates it.
Nik Fiend : We do listen to each other’s ideas, but sometimes we might have different opinions, because we both care about ASF we are able to work things out and the result is the blending of our two sides, it’s like musical alchemy. But they’re not what I’d call real arguments! We just want whatever we’re doing to be the best that it can be.
Music journalists try to categorize sounds. With ASF it's hard to do. How would you describe your sound to an desperate writer?
Mrs Fiend : (Laughs) Ah…..
Nik Fiend : It’s "Alien Sex Fiend" music! Our first review (demo cassette) said we were "the ugliest thing in the name of music", that was a good starting point!
Mrs Fiend : We’ve been described as "electro hippy space zombies" and "goth punk"…
Nik Fiend : And "Acid Punk". And by Ulf Kubanke (German journalist) as being like "a lava lamp meeting a meat grinder". Someone said we sounded like the Velvet Underground on mandrax! Sounds good to me! Where can I buy it? (Laughs)
Mrs Fiend : Within just one album we can have two tracks that are poles apart – almost from two extremes or two different genres, we blend different elements to create a new hybrid. So yes it is hard to pigeonhole – but that is exactly what we’re about,
Nik Fiend ; We’ve been called all sorts over the years, we just carry on doing what we do! I do realize we’re "far out"! But I always wanted to be in a weird, underground band – job done!
"Possessed" seems to me more experimental, even more radical. Something that is necessary in these times, where conservative and right-wing populist forces is on the upswing?
Nik Fiend : I would say that ASF has always been experimental, that was the basis of the start of the band, so if the new album is continuing to be experimental then that’s great, it means we have not changed from that original idea of what ASF was going to be. We started off with "Ignore The Machine" and 35 years later the machine is trying to take over even more. I think I am still trying to wake people up, or to let them know that there is someone else who feels and thinks the way that they do - you are not alone!
Mrs Fiend : That’s why we used the phrase "music to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable"!!
Nik Fiend : Because the corporate side seems to be taking over everything – it is homogenising everything in its path, there is less room for independent thought. I think that is what I have been going on about all these years! The great thing about when we started was that there were lots of different people doing different things in different styles of music, now there are a lot of cliques, and rule books about each genre, I like ignoring the rules, and our music is part of that.
Many musical styles were invented during your career. Today some genres, who were clearly subcultural, are now assimilated by the music industry. But your music still seems to be misfitted and provoking. Would you go even this far to say, today it is more easier to provoke, as todays music is really "synchronized" so to speak?
Nik Fiend : Misfitted and provoking - that’s good to hear! The music has to provoke us anyway for us to want to finish a song. It is something that I have to do. Our music is peculiar – we never searched for "popularity". A true artist HAS to paint regardless of whether an art gallery is interested. It is art for art sake…
Mrs Fiend : We provoked people in the beginning, so if that is still what we’re doing, that’s great. I think by “synchronized” music you mean what we’d call "formulaic" music or as Nik calls it "painting by numbers" music.
Nik Fiend : I don’t think its easier to provoke now – everyone has heard and seen everything! I think people have been numbed by the tirade of advertising, and you can hear music everywhere, all the time, non-stop.
Mrs Fiend : I think it’s perhaps more difficult now to be heard above all that "formulaic" music, because it is everywhere.
Many artists run out of inspiration with the time. Fortunately, this doesn't count in your case. What keeps your „artistic flame“ alive?
Nik Fiend : Thank you! It’s real life! All the shit going on in the world, all the time. And while we personally have been dealing with a lot of shit, what’s kept us going is being able to work on the album and the accompanying artwork, having that as a purpose. Music and art is a form of therapy, a release for me…
Mrs Fiend : I like discovering new things on my old keyboards, new sounds.. Ooh I didn’t know it could do that!
Nik Fiend : (Laughs) Real life happens to everyone, whether you’re in a band or whether you work in an office or a factory…we are lucky that people are still interested in the shit we come up with!
What, would you say, was the biggest difference while working on "Possessed" compare to the other albums?
Mrs Fiend: Each album is different, they are each capturing a different period of time. They almost tell us what they will be, a song gets created organically.
Nik Fiend : Because of different things that are going on in my life, they directly or indirectly affect my output - the music, and the art. It is all reflected in the music, whether I’m aware of it at the time or not!. Sometimes I do ask myself - have I gone mental, because I do seem to be out of step with….. the machine.
Mrs Fiend : One big difference with "Possessed" would be the line up and it won’t ever be that same line up again, because this is the first album that combined Doc Milton with Mat Pod. We have a long history with both of them from different periods, Doc is from the late 80s to early 90s playing live whereas we first worked with Mat in 1995.
Nik Fiend : That particular line-up sounded so good live during the gigs we did from 2012 onwards, that I wanted to record us "a band" I wanted capture that sound and feel on a record. So that’s what we did.
Mrs Fiend : Unfortunately Doc died in September 2016, but luckily he’d recorded so many guitar parts that we had plenty of material to work with.
Nik Fiend : He was like a man possessed, he brought several guitars to the studio and was determined to record all of them – which he did! And at full volume!! Eleven!
Mrs Fiend : It was strange that he recorded so much…. Given what happened, it makes you wonder… maybe he had a premonition…
Nik Fiend : We had to be possessed to sort through it all and finish the album, we were stunned at losing Doc and at such a high point of creativity. Mat Pod has been deeply involved as well and even did some extra guitar such as towards the end of "It’s In My Blood".
This Song comes up with some German words. What connects you with Germany?
Mrs Fiend : That’s me – speaking in German Nik had the idea of some of the lyrics to be repeated in German, like a robot voice as backing vocals, so I say "It is in my blood", "it is in my head”, "it is in my soul". We have thought about doing something in German for a long time.
Nik Fiend : Germany and the fans there have always been very welcoming to us. We have many friends there now, and we are always looked after well at the shows and festivals we have played. It is a way of involving all of those fans.
Mrs Fiend : And in a way, thanking them for their support.
Remarkable also is the heavy connection between your music and the art of the cover and on the stage. In Germany we say "Gesamtkunstwerk", a wagnerian-style of „total work of art“, that try to include all possibilities, art can offer. Was this always your aim?
Nik Fiend : When ASF started it was about doing our art to our music, we all hung out together, making mad pictures and artworks and writing or typing (on a typewriter) crazy stories, some of that was used for the Fiendzine, (ASF’s own magazine) which is still going. Even at our very first gig we used the stage webbing, strobe lights and TV sets to decorate the stage. It is perceptive of you – yes it is "total art" – the music, artwork, stage show, Fiendzines, even the T-shirt designs, all these things have always been intertwined, they’re all part of ASF.
The Cover of the album remind me a bit of "The Scream" by Edward Munch. Was this one of your inspirations?
Nik Fiend : I think you are referring to the character in the artwork on the back. Edward Munch was a minor scream this is a VERY loud one! The mouth is very elongated, it is a compliment to be mentioned in the same sentence as someone who created such as iconic artwork! That’s basically how I felt at times over the last few years –unfortunately!! We had a run of bad events that did not stop, and that had an effect on the artwork for the album.
Last but not least: a look into the future. What are your aims for ASF? Are there some things you want to realize, e.g. performing for her majesty...
Nik Fiend : (Laughs) I’d be thrown into the Tower Of London, locked up and then beheaded if I got anyway near the Queen (of the UK)!
Mrs Fiend : Of course our first aim is to see the new album launched onto the world, then we will start to think about live shows, we have an idea about a replacement guitarist but it will take a bit more time yet before we can announce anything.
Nik Fiend : I have been like a man possessed concentrating on getting the album and the artwork finished, that’s why when that word came to me it fitted the album so well as a title. It’s amazing that finally everything has come together, now we can move on into the future!
|| INTERVIEW: DANIEL DRESSLER | DATE: 11/16/18 | CONTACT >
PHOTOGRAPHY © PE AKE WARN
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