|DOUGLAS McCARTHY - COLLABORATOR|
Formed in 1982, Nitzer Ebb set out to terrorize the UK dance scene with industrial power rhythms and disturbing lyrical themes. Their unique blend of energetic anger and militaristic imagery soon saw them appearing in dance clubs and concert halls around the UK.
By November 1986, after Nitzer Ebb had signed to Mute Records, a further series of singles preceded their debut album, 'That Total Age'.
second L.P. 'Belief', released in January 1989, saw Flood,
veteran producer of Depeche Mode, U2 and Nine Inch Nails, brought in to
assist the now slimmed-down duo (Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris) create
a more refined sound. 199O's 'Showtime' and 1991's 'Ebbhead' (produced
by Alan Wilder) achieved considerable success in Europe and the States.
After their last album, 'Big Hit', released in 1995, Nitzer Ebb split-up and McCarthy and Harris went their separate ways. However, their influence on todays dance / rock acts, such as Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, is there for all to see.
Tell us all about your background, both
personal and musical.
A. I was born in London and grew up in Essex. While still at school, aged 15, I started the band Nitzer Ebb with Bon Harris and David Gooday. Our first gig was at the Chelmsford YMCA. In 1984 we released our first record, a 4 track EP called 'Isn't it funny how your body works?' on our own label Power of Voice Communications. In 1986 we were signed to Mute Records in England and Geffen Records in the USA. Nitzer Ebb then released 5 albums from 1987 to, er 1995, I think. I have no musical training, which is pretty evident when you hear the songs I write but I learnt how to create music, initially, with synthesizers and sequencers, then later with guitars.
How did you come to meet Alan Wilder?
A. I first met Alan when Nitzer Ebb opened for Depeche Mode's 'Music for the Masses' European Tour.
What did you think of the tracks he
asked you to put lyrics to?
A. I was very impressed with the tracks Alan sent me to work with. They were easy to write lyrics and melodies for. We also discussed Alan's ideas about lyrical content for each track, which I grudgingly accepted.
How did you actually work together on
the Recoil project?
A. Alan sent me rough mixes and I composed the majority of my ideas with them. Then I went and stayed with Al and Hep and in between vast quantities of alcohol I sang what I had written. At a later date I went back, and between recording my vocals in Alan's studio, we drank vast quantities of alcohol.
What was he like to work with?
A. Working in a recording studio can be a very intense and emotionally charged experience - when youre trying to be subjective and analytical with peoples ideas it is easy for problems to arise. Alan and I seem to compliment each other well in those circumstances and I always respect his opinion on the technicalities of my performance. What I'm basically saying is that Alan's a complete and utter Nazi-muso-bastard who doesn't allow any one to have their own musical opinions. Just kidding.
Do you have a favourite Recoil track?
A. 'Faith Healer'
Q. Who else have you worked with?
A. Die Krupps, Impirion, Pigface, and Caballero.
What music do you listen to?
A. This week I 'ave been mostly listening to:
Iggy Pop 'Lust For Life';
Rage Against the Machine 'Rage Against the Machine';
Jane's Addiction 'Ritual de la Habitual';
Tom Waits 'Nighthawks at the Diner';
Lou Reed 'Berlin';
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 'Your Funeral, My Trial';
Funkadelic 'Cosmic Slop';
The Rolling Stones 'Beggar's Banquet';
The Jimi Hendrix Experience 'Electric Ladyland';
Television 'Marquee Moon';
Morphine 'Cure For Pain'.
What are your present and future plans?
A. I am currently at University in Cambridge, England taking a degree in Graphic Design. Once I have my degree I plan to go to The Cranbrook Institute of Arts in Michigan, USA to take my Masters Degree and then probably move back to California to work as a designer. Musically I've been working on some tracks with Impirion for their forthcoming album and I have my own project based in Detroit called Caballero. Other than that, just as much sex, drug's and rock 'n' roll as is humanly possible.
What happened with Nitzer Ebb?
A. The last time I saw Bon was in the lobby of some hotel in New York City in 1995 ( I think). Nitzer Ebb had just finished a US tour and we were supposed to be boarding a plane for London to play some festivals in England and Europe but instead I was going home to Detroit because my wife had gone into early labour with our son, Felix. During the European tour, myself and everyone in the Northern Hemisphere had a very heated discussion about what a complete and utter bastard I am and I took the opportunity to say that I would leave the band after all the touring was over. My mind had actually been made up during the recording of 'Big Hit', Nitzer Ebb's last album. I have since called Bon a couple of times to inquire if I could have some of the extensive musical and recording equipment Nitzer Ebb had acquired over the years but apparently it all belongs to him. Needless to say the reason I left Nitzer Ebb was due to Bon's obsessively dictatorial attitude to "his" band.
What will be your overriding memory of working with Alan?
A. Having another opportunity to ridicule Steve Lyon.
Q. Can you tell us an interesting anecdote or story about Alan, professional or not?
Q. Anything else you'd like to add?
A. Alan Wilder is a control freak.
|This interview was conducted and last updated in 1997.|