Photo by Mike Cooper
John Foxx And The Maths are playing in Madrid on 26 May – check here for more details: HERE
Here’s a new interview by Clubbing Spain.
1. How do you feel right now in terms of your artistic career. What’s your moment now?
At the moment it’s great fun. We feel as though we are on a rising tide. But I’ve also lived long enough to look over the horizon.
My father was a boxer. I said I would never do anything like that, but you know, life can be ironic – being a musician can be very much like boxing. It’s always the moment – until you are forgotten. Then you figure out how to survive until the next round.
2. From time to time do you listen to records like Metamatic?
Very rarely. I have no wish to imitate my younger self. Even if he did have a few good ideas.
3. The Quiet Man is your book (any relation with John Ford’s movie?). Are your preparing any other?
The name was just a coincidence. My Quiet Man lives in a modern city that changes shape – no connection with the John Ford character. I’m still writing those stories because I get lots of ideas for songs from them. The main theme is a man, a woman and a city – the things we all have to deal with.
4. By the way, what do you think was new about your first solo album?
I think it was the first electronic album by a British artist. It contained songs, not instrumentals. The songs had a different shape because of the synthesizers. The machines made a new kind of music. I had to figure out how to sing along with them.
5. Why dressing with “ties” was so important in your artistic look?
It was a reversal of Punk conventions – I was trying to destroy something I loved.
6. Do you think that the punk sound of the 70s eclipsed your music as Ultravox?
Not at all. We were punks originally, and we could blast anyone else off any stage, at that time. By 1977 we were a very powerful live band, making a totally ruthless, vicious sort of music. We had figured out how to make it even louder and deeper and more powerful by using synthesizers. No one else was doing anything like that, at the time. A little later, everyone else was doing it and punk was dead. But actually it wasn’t dead, it had simply been transformed and absorbed into this new form. I suppose we were really the first Electropunks and the first New Wave band.
7. Have your recovered your relationship with old members of Ultravox?
There was never really any serious disagreement with the band. I urgently had to find another way of life – that life of touring was deeply damaging to me at the time. I was also completely fascinated by the possibilities of drum machines and synthesizers and wanted to design a new kind of music with these new instruments. This was equally urgent. I also knew it was likely to be unsuccessful – and you could not ask a band to sit around for a year while you chased an idea as risky as that. So I split. It was the best thing for both of us. In the end we all got what we wanted.
8. By the way, I saw Gareth Jones last year at Madrid. He was explaining some aspects from Metamatics recording. You once said that Jones is a kind “psychoanalyst of sound”. Is that true? How was the recording of that album?
I think I said that Gareth was interested in Freud and in psychology. He was a deeply intelligent co-conspiritor, who had only just begun work in a studio. I think Metamatic was his first serious project. I had tried a few other engineers before him, but they were not intuitive, or intelligent, or perceptive enough.
You have to remember that at the time, electronic music was completely radical and most engineers did not understand it at all. They could only deal with real drums and guitars and those conventional structures. Gareth was the only person I met who was flexible, intelligent and eager enough to make radical sounds and restructure everything in the way I needed. As we know, he became a major producer of this kind of music afterwards. Making Metamatic was a great adventure for both of us and it defined both of our lives afterwards.
9. How is your relationship with Gary Numan?
We get on very well. I have deep respect for Gary. His music was the best of that era, and he is the only artist to have travelled beyond his generation – he has done this more than once, and his music is still absolutely contemporary – in fact is influence is still growing. He is unique, and so is his music.
10. In your opinion, who is doing the best electro-pop right now.
I hear many good things – Crystal Castles, Emeralds, The Knife, Burial, Xeno and Oaklander, The Soft Moon, Matthew Dear, Gazelle Twin, LCD Sound System, Skrillex – All in their very different ways.
11. Is electro-pop always nostalgic music?
It should never be nostalgic. That is the trap. It will kill you.
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