Unfortunately the core duo of Coil can no longer reply to us but we are happy to feature three people who were present at the time. Attempts were made to contact other people involved: guests and collaborators, but responses were and are still waiting to be received. If more responses come in, this article will be appended.
Stephen Thrower: Coil member
JW: What was the first direction Coil were heading in following Horse Rotorvator and can you remember how things evolved.
ST: Recording sessions continued almost unbroken after Horse Rotorvator, without an immediate sense of where they were going. Just "the next album". The title first floated, I think, was The Sound of Music, after which The Dark Age of Love was front-runner for a while. The songs were still quite similar in construction to Horse Rotorvator and the more evolved parts of Scatology, so if Dark Age of Love had actually materialized it would have sounded a lot more like the first two albums.
JW: Can you tell me some of the external influences that had either some major or minor impacts on the composition of the material?
ST: It's often said that two things push music forward - new technology and new drugs. Completely true in Coil's case! By the time we were into the LSD sessions, the club scene was intensifying; ‚ÄòE‚Äô and acid-house were more and more prevalent in the gay scene. The background thump was moving from House to acid and then techno. There was some overlap between the sounds being used in this new music and the bleepy synth/bludgeoning rhythm side of TG, so I think Geff and especially Sleazy were intrigued by the way wider pop culture was beginning to sound indebted to TG's sound.
JW: Can you explain your roles in the process?¬† What kinds of materials (sound or compositionally) did you bring into the mix?
ST: I could play a little on a lot of different instruments. I was okay on drums, okay on bass or guitar as far as the noisier stuff was concerned, I could do good things on brass or woodwind, and I generally waded in with whatever synths were lying around. I knew nothing about programming or sampling back then, that was entirely Sleazy's domain, and please god don't point a vocal mike at me! I had the ear, and the arrogance, to make suggestions based on what I thought a song was currently lacking. Geff and Sleazy generated the majority of the ideas but I was always able to push for sounds I thought we should add.
Compositionally, there were two ways of getting involved. One was to be present at the demo stage when early song structures were being put together (which happened with me on the previous albums), but in the case of LSD most of the backing tracks were made by Sleazy in advance. The other way was to make suggestions about how to ‚Äòguide the ship‚Äô once it was moving. That was more my involvement on LSD. What is this thing? How can we mutate it? How can we give it new shapes and contours? Does it need a drunk Mexican prostitute rapping on it?
JW:¬†¬† The album took years to assemble and arrange so there must be some reasons how and why?
ST: There were many long sessions, many nights, most of which were supported with whatever chemicals were at hand. We were locked into a reckless combination of work and play that sometimes brought out marvels and other times just wasted the money being spent. During "Dark River" we spent literally as much time rolling around on the floor under the desk as we did hovering over the controls. We had to mix it in real time because the desk automation was faulty, so that one was a bloody nightmare - it probably took about forty passes, each time requiring all four of us (me, Sleazy, Geff and Danny Hyde) tweaking and panning and fading things in and out; after each effort me and Geff would collapse to the studio carpet and go and live with the fluff babies for a while.
JW: Can you recall parts of the album you're pleased with and parts you would do over again?
ST: I pretty much like it all, with the exception of "Things Happen," which sounds a bit half-baked, and "The Snow," which sounds bland to me and always did. Knowing what I know now, I would love to get my teeth into "Further Back and Faster" and have a stab at a new version - even though it's one of the highlights I still think it could go ‚Äòfurther‚Äô!
JW: Was the LP version the canonical version? I ask this because I received an early promo of it on cassette back in 1990 from WaxTrax! and by the time the CD came out in July it seemed like lots of elements were "added" (additional mixes of Teenage Lightning, "tags" on the end of Windowpane and The Snow).
ST: Both are ‚Äòcanonical‚Äô really. The LP version was planned and timed and laid out ahead of the CD version, but the longer running time of the CD meant we could add more playful elements, with reprises, false fades etc. One's the ‚ÄòStandard‚Äô edition and one's the ‚ÄòDeluxe‚Äô, I guess.
JW: Can you take a peek at the song list and provide any insight on things that may have never been covered?
Disco Hospital I adored, I thought it set just the right tone. It's absurd and shonky and bizarre, as it's been tripping for an hour already! It's all Sleazy's work as far as I can recall. The chopped-up tape stuff is him, and he did that obscenely chirpy keyboard line as well.
"Teenage Lightning 1"/"Teenage Lightning 2"
A huge buzz to work on, a really pleasurable part of the album. Being an early Roxy Music obsessive, I always wanted us to get the VCS3 out of the cupboard if possible: Jhon and I did two takes of guitar through the VCS3 synthesizer; on one take I played guitar and he twiddled the synth, and on the other take vice-versa. I think the basis for the track came out of discussions we had about the limitations of what people were starting to call ‚Äòdance music‚Äô, and how we wanted to involve Latin rhythms, not just a boom-boom-boom-boom four-four beat.
The guests are good, Annie Anxiety and Charles Hayward were both vital to it. Annie came through Geff and Sleazy, I'm not sure how they first met but they knew each other already. She asked for a bottle of Tequila, and that's how she worked her way into the role she plays on the piece. All gone by lunch-time! I suggested we approach Charles. I think Geff and Sleazy were a bit wary of him because he was regarded as a bit of a ‚Äòlefty‚Äô but I pushed for him because I thought This Heat were so incredible. Geff loved some This Heat too, especially things like "24-Track Loop," and we would both listen to the Health & Efficiency 12" at maximum volume round at Beverly Road. Sleazy wasn't so sure. Then Charles came in, marched into the drum booth, set up, and started pounding and racing around the kit, at which point Sleazy was beaming. He started sampling him on the fly, which is where the drum loops for ‚ÄòScope‚Äô (from the Shock Records 7") came from.
I was a bit of a curmudgeon about¬† it. A session guy from the studio next door came through while we were mixing it and said, being very friendly, wow this is cool, would you like a little keyboard soloing on it? Geff and Sleazy were on ‚ÄòE‚Äô, I think he may have been smoking. So they said yes and he did this very accomplished sort of jazz-fusion keyboard solo that fitted perfectly. Nothing against the guy, but I wasn't in that space really, that sort of 'hey, we're all on drugs guys, this sounds mellow, how about if I jam with you?‚Äô vibe. I thought the session players next door ought to have been closing their doors to blot us out! I was gunning for speed a lot more than ‚ÄòE‚Äô and of course it's a very different head space. I think his is the best bit, these days.
"Where Even the Darkness is Something to See"
One of Sleazy's sly surprises... he just pulled this alternate take out of the air, using what was then brand new time-stretching software to create that ‚Äòwading through heavy atoms‚Äô feel at the end.
My windows are too smeary...
"Further Back and Faster"
This was both a hug