This Man Is F***ing Outrageous: A Martin Atkins Interview

martin atkins image from kickstarter

Written for Collapse Board

Martin Atkins is a man on a mission. He’s looking to break a world record, and he’s pulling out all the stops to do it. In just six days, his Kickstarter campaign has received 36% of its funding target. He’s unstoppable – and his mission is most unusual.

He’s trying to break the record for the most appearances of the word “f***” in a book.

Martin’s previous publication, Tour:Smart, was hailed as “the ultimate touring manual” by Mojo and “the Holy Grail” by Kraze. As the former drummer for NIN, Ministry and PiL as well as the founder of the band Pigface and label Invisible Records, he had little difficulty pulling together people to contribute to his guides for musicians. Henry Rollins, Chris Connelly and numerous “industry” types chipped into the first, and for his sequel, he asked … me. Continue reading

Fan video: Snapline – She

Vimeo user S. Dummy has made a really nice “unofficial video” for the new single from Beijing-based Snapline. It uses clips from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to great effect: the combination of haunting images and repetitive music (Factory Floor, Joy Division) is very hypnotic. Spawned as a side-project of Carsick Cars, Snapline are one of China’s fastest-rising bands. Their first album was recorded in just two days with producer Martin Atkins, who also put together a split 7″ with Pigface a few years ago.  Continue reading

Review of the Year 2011

It’s been a funny year. I spent most of it pregnant, which is a lot like being really hung over for nine months. Not really conducive to productivity. Now my tiny bundle of trouble is here, blog posts are hastily composed in the few minutes she is able to sleep without being cuddled up on my lap. It’s been a funny year generally, though. There were terrifying natural disasters, tumultuous political events, and a slew of zeitgeisty buzzwords. There were the riots in the the UK, which was the logical result of our filesharing culture: if you tell people that they can take music, films and games without permission, payment or consequence, then of course they’ll just start smashing shop windows and stealing televisions and consoles to play them on – because, really, what’s the difference?

Steve Jobs died, to worldwide mourning, and John McCarthy – who coined the term “artificial intelligence” – died the same month, to little fanfare. Amy Winehouse succumbed to her addictions, and Charlie Sheen miraculously survived his own. A royal couple who actually seemed to like each other got married. Lady Gaga got boring. An American preacher predicted the Rapture – twice – and was a little embarrassed when the dates passed without incident.

And a number of things were released that I rather liked.

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Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible and Fried: My Life As a Revolting Cock – Chris Connelly

There’s a photo in the middle of the book from spring 1988 attributed to “unknown”, which I recognise, because I had it on my wall. This would be my cube wall at my first job, which was a shrine to the industrial rock legends of the day – Al, Trent, Ogre … the people in this book. You may remember Chris Connelly – the skinny Scottish self-styled also-ran eternally upstaged by his bandmates – from such freakshows as Ministry, RevCo, Fini Tribe, Pigface, Murder Inc and The Damage Manual. And he’s about to tell you everything.
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Reinspired’s first birthday: What inspired you today?

On 29 March 2010, I did something I hadn’t done for a long time. I took a chance on buying an album I hadn’t heard and fell in love with it instantly. Three tracks in, I knew that it was going to have a significant impact on me, and the following day, I started this blog to write about it. Two people inspired me that day: the one who made the album in question, and the one whose blog gave me the idea for this one.

One year later, and a great many people have inspired me. Some have entertained, some have made me think, and many have achieved both at the same time. I thought it would be fun to catch up with those people and ask them what had inspired them today.

Let’s start with Everett True. Though we’d intermittently emailed each other in the intervening years, the last time I’d seen him was when he was still writing for Melody Maker, back in the mid-1990s. In the meantime, he’d edited various magazines included Plan B and relocated to Australia, where he now ran two blogs of which the latter – Music That I Like – I was an avid reader. Everett’s blog was a direct inspiration for this one, and it was a pleasure to catch up with him again this year, when again he inspired a creative outburst without really intending to. He now edits Collapse Board, an aggregate blog of various mostly Australian-based music critics, and performs in two bands. I dropped him an email to ask him what inspired him today.

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Pigface – Glitch

I don’t have a huge number of music DVDs, but the ones I own are generally great performances that have been polished up a bit in the studio afterwards. That’s as true of, say, Foetus’s ultra-low-budget MALE DVD as it is for Skinny Puppy’s slick The Greater Wrong of the Right. What this messy cacophony does is put them in the same band.

Martin Atkins (Public Image Ltd, Killing Joke) had the bright idea of putting members of Ministry and KMFDM on the stage together. From there it “sort of exploded” and he wound up with a “supergroup” that, in its 20 years of existence, has featured members such as NIN’s Trent Reznor, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wayne from Static-X and Black Francis from The Pixies. (Full list of members here.)



I replaced this immediately on realising that the old VHS copy I owned was broken. I did this despite recognising that, for the most part, Pigface are f***ing abysmal. Although JG Thirlwell is credited twice (both as ‘Clint Ruin’ and as ‘Jim Thirlwell’), the actual track he did with them (available for download from Amazon) is the worst, most tuneless racket it has ever been my misfortune to hear (and I’ve seen Iron Monkey live). Thankfully it doesn’t actually appear on any of the 31 tracks on offer here, which is why you might be staring mystified at the credits. I couldn’t make out David Yow (The Jesus Lizard) or Lori Barbello (Babes In Toyland) either.

Most of the fun comes from trying to work out who’s who, since the footage between the two halves (Glitch and Son of Glitch) and the “special features” (bonus tracks) were filmed many years – and haircuts – apart. Genesis P-Orridge looks fairly terrifying at the best of times, so you can’t miss him, and KMFDM’s En Esch provides a few unintentional laughs.

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Metablog: Me, Me, Me

Chatting with a colleague earlier, she said that I should be pleased about being contacted about one of my posts because it must be good to know that people are reading it and I’m not just waffling out into cyberspace.

Well, I am just waffling out into cyberspace – because if I don’t have other people to talk to I just wind up talking to myself – but if other people enjoy what they read here, tant mieux.

The one thing that’s really struck me about digging the stuff out of the attic lately is how surreal it all is. Looking back now, it just doesn’t feel like it was me at all. I’m the most boring person in the world, and I find it very difficult to believe that I led that life and hung out with those people. I haven’t even mentioned the half of it – I feel like a total wanker if I even start to talk about how life was back then. I remember arriving at an industry bash, aged 16, and a someone saying, “We all wondered when you’d get here,” and quoting, “Well, if there’s one thing worse than being talked about, it’s not being talked about.” I barely leave the house any more.

I spent a lot of time in London in the early 90s before moving there in ’95. It was the centre of the world – the pinnacle of British indie and the ultimate time for industrial and alternative rock, and I loved it all with a ridiculous passion. Much as I laugh my head off at the absurd things I wrote at the time, I wasn’t exaggerating in terms of how much I enjoyed those shows. The press at the time used to sneer at some of the bands – “the Scene That Celebrates Itself”, they dubbed it – because instead of headline-grabbing rivalries, they’d all be friends with each other and with their fans. Whatever scene, all the bands were like that.

If I say these bands were “normal people”, I mean it. Hanging out with them was the same as hanging out with anyone else after the gig – just kicking back with a couple of beers and maybe going out to a club. If there was any excess of the sex-and-drugs persuasion, I never saw it. The most shocking thing I saw was cEvin Key toking up at eight a.m., and I only ever met one (self-professed) groupie, and she wound up managing the band she liked. The first time I met James from the Manic Street Preachers, he made everyone a cup of tea.

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Memory Lane: Martin Atkins

Note: these interviews were conducted when I was 17-19 years old and running a music fanzine, so if they seem rather amateurish, it’s because they were. The italics are notes added 10-15 years after the event.

So I actually found the legendarily terrible interview with Martin Atkins from ’96. You know what? It wasn’t so bad. OK, so on an embarrassment scale of one to nine million, it’s up there, but it explains why he didn’t seem to recall it when we met again a year or two later.

Skip to the 3:50 mark – Never Trust A John

An electro-punk band with a taste in political incorrectness, and a colour-blind living legend with a clothes peg in his hair. Freaked out? We certainly were.

Evil Mothers are a great band in the same way that bands like In Aura and Soul Coughing are great bands. Interviews with great bands are simple: put them and a sizeable quantity of alcohol in a room, ask a load of ridiculous questions and roll the tape. With a bit of luck, you’ll manage to catch the tube the next morning.

Then there are legends.

Martin Atkins fits nicely in that category, having spent the best part of two decades making nearly every record in my collection. Remember PiL’s classic This Is Not A Love Song? Atkins co-wrote that when he was in the band. Ever seen Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like A Hole video? He’s the other drummer. Listened to Ruby’s Salt Peter in the past 48 hours? Martin co-wrote Carondolet, one of the best tracks on the album. Apart from that, he’s been working with Ministry, Killing Joke, Chris Connelly, Skinny Puppy, and the band we’re here to see – Evil Mothers. On top of that, Atkins started Invisible Records and Pigface.

So it is perhaps understandable that we were more than a little nervous. Therefore, in addition to the usual trip to the pub on the way to the gig, we went to the off-licence on the way to the pub. Which was rather an unfortunate choice of action under the circumstances.

(Offering Martin a six-pack): Would you like a beer?

MA: I haven’t had a drink in three years.


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