Recently, I had the chance to probe the moist, prolific minds of Mr. Nik Fiend and Mrs. Fiend, the real names (really!) of the multitalented artists behind the ever-notorious Alien Sex Fiend. What follows is the result our virtual fireside chat. We’d all be lucky to have ’em as our mom and dad. Or drinking partners. Or both.
Chain D.L.K.: Describe your process or methods of creating and recording music. And what conditions are most conducive to working on your music?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: A big bud of grass and copious cups of tea for a start! (laughs) Some Jack Daniel’s from time to time helps ease the ol’larynx, too, m’dears?On the musical side, a track can start anywhere. It could be a beat, a sound, a riff, some lyrics; there is no formula. Iguess it would be more sensible to sit down with a guitar and workthe whole thing out with the lyrics, but we very very rarely do it thatway
Mrs Fiend: It’s more a series of happy accidents; ideas come out ofthe blue and seem to fit the track at the time, so we go with it andsometimes we end up in a totally different place from where westarted!
Nik Fiend: Yeah, on the “Information Overload” album, for example, with the track “Motherf**ker Burn”, it went through so many differentstages, at one point sounding Indian
Mrs Fiend: Then it became full-on metal guitar chugging
Nik Fiend: And then at another point it went more rock, so yes, happyaccidents occur
Mrs Fiend: And we go with the flow.
Nik Fiend: We don’t set out to be like anyone else, we just do our ownthing. We don’t try to copy anyone else
Mrs Fiend: In fact whenever we’ve started to do a cover version, itinvariably heads off at a tangent and in a completely different directioncos something’s gone wrong (laughs) and a new idea for a song canappear from that, so we’ll park it to one side and then finish off whatwe were supposed to be doing in the first place so creating is aweird process for us.
Nik Fiend: We don’t know why. If we were calculated about it andanalysed what we were doing, we probably would have packed it in; we’re really still like kids playing, a lot of it is make believe, we areusually in uncharted territory
Mrs Fiend: So there is no rule book to follow.
Nik Fiend: Also there isn’t anyone else musically who I would put mytrust in 100% to follow their path. So we have to make it up as we goalong. Which we’re happy to do. I suppose that’s why we’re still fans ofour own stuff; it’s fascinating — I sat & listened to “It – The Album” (1986) the other day and I got totally sucked into it. Each album seemsto have its own particular brew. I don’t think we’ve lost touch with any ofour records from our past.
Mrs Fiend: With the new album (“Information Overload”), it’s anotherstage on our journey.
Nik Fiend: We’ve always had total belief in what we’re doing, but Iknew I wanted this new one to be a lot harder and darker, which it is! (Laughs)
Mrs Fiend: Definitely! We have to sort of disappear from this world andcreate our own world.
Nik Fiend: We become cocooned or immersed in it totally. Wedisconnect the phone and stuff too — it gets very intense and we don’twant any distractions putting us off our course; we try to ignore theworld for a few days, but then there is stuff we have to deal with so wehave to come back to reality and deal with all that. Which is a goodthing cos it stops us going up our own arses I think! !
Chain D.L.K.: Where do you find inspiration? And do you write/ record music because you’re pissed off, excited, or something like that?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: We’re influenced by so many different things — not justmusic — but films, comics, etc. , from some mainstream stuff through tomore bizarre or underground things. It doesn’t matter where it comesfrom, it’s whether the particular thing is any good. Life is probably thebiggest inspiration to me — circumstances, situations, trying tounderstand other people’s plights; there’s a lot of hurt about, but a lotof good things, too, thank fuck. So everything influences me. Themusic is affected by all that. Even a cup of tea at the right moment hasits influence! I write and record music because, like everyone else, Iget pissed off and angry, but also because I do get excited and somethings make me very happy — and all of that goes into the music andmy art. I’m an emotional person and my music acts as my therapy! Ofcourse like everyone else, we get the banana skins of life to dealwith — it’s like that old board game Snakes & Ladders — it’s up anddown
Mrs Fiend: Like a roller coaster ride.
Nik Fiend: That’s why I likened things to childhood earlier and in thestudio it is like being like a kid
Mrs Fiend: Playing around with things and seeing what happens.
Nik Fiend: We like what we’re doing. The minute we don’t like whatwe’re doing it will cease to be. We’re not doing it to seek approval butif it turns people on, then it’s a job well done.
Chain D.L.K.: What message or messages do you have to give the world? What would you like people to know?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: I would like people to think about other people more. Whenyou think YOU’RE having a hard time, spare a thought for the personwho hasn’t even got a drink of water or food. Without getting too hippyabout it — there are a lot of people in this world far worse off than mostof us in the west. I think in this society people are getting too caughtup in their own, often trivial, problems
Mrs Fiend: People are so caught up in getting a quick retail fix or afacelift or something — what the hell is retail therapy about? I find itobscene that someone buys a diamond collar for their dog orwhatever when there are people without food. Some of the lyrics onthe new album are about this sort of thing — but Nik says them in amuch more interesting way!
Nik Fiend: Previous songs were too, though like “Smells Like. . “. which was about greed much like the new one “Gotta Have It”. I thinksome of those old songs are more relevant now than ever; I do feelthere’s a place for us, more so now than ever, that’s why we haven’tbeen allowed to give up. We have had a big wave of support recently, people are so happy that we’re back, and they love the new stuff. Thewords I put on the front cover artwork of “Information Overload” like”Submit”, “Follow”, “Conform”, “Fear”, “Consume”, “No IndependentThought” are all comments on the state of things. Although there’s alot of information available now, people don’t seem to be using theirown brains a lot of people seem to be completely manipulated bythe crap they’re reading — like John Lennon said in one of his songs”Just give me some truth! ” Our new album isn’t a political manifesto; yes, there is anger on there and I have to admit that I’m guilty of someof these things, too, so I’m not having a go at anyone in particular
Chain D.L.K.: What is or are your philosophy or philosophies, both in general and especially concerning music?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: My main one is don’t listen to other people, you won’tachieve anything that way. Do your own thing. Get on with what you’vegot. That’s what we did. Everyone else had a comment, y’ know — “Dothis” or “Don’t do that” — if I’d listened we would never have gotanywhere. And that’s doesn’t just apply to the music. Also life ingeneral.
Mrs Fiend: How can anyone else know what’s right for you as aperson, as an individual? They can’t possibly; they can only see thingsfrom their viewpoint, they can’t live inside your head.
Nik Fiend: Like that awful Pop Idol programme — kids are being put offby middle-aged twats, why don’t they make their own music?
Chain D.L.K.: Describe a typical day in your life.
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: There is no such thing! (Laughs)
Mrs Fiend: I don’t think I’d be interested if I had “typical days” — that’swhy we do Alien Sex Fiend — it’s different all the time, differentchallenges all the time, sometimes it’s business stuff — especiallywith running our own label, 13th Moon Records, sometimesdoing music, sometimes something to do with the website; we learnta new computer programme in order to do the artwork for the newalbum — so there’s always something going on!
Nik Fiend: Take today — I had a smoke this morning, got some food inand sent some promo CDs out, watched the footy results, West Hamwon so that was good, had a shave, played some music — Iggy Pop, then some reggae and dub stuff, now we’re doing this interview, thenwe’ve gotta sort out some legal bollocks about a bootleg album that’sappeared in Australia, after that we have to sort out the contract for theZillo festival we’re doing in July in Germany.
Mrs Fiend: That’ll be our first live appearance in over five years so I’llbe checking out my keyboards and stuff later and seeing which songswe’ll do. Oh, and I mended a hole in our bathroom ceiling earlierwhere we’d put a new light in! (Laughs) — see what I mean? No suchthing as a typical day really!
Chain D.L.K.: What would you say you’ve learned from working with other artists, if anything?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: We’ve learnt loads. When we worked with Doc Milton, wegot into Jimi Hendrix and Can. Then at Butterfly Studios when we weredoing “Evolution” (single), we had a great time. It was such anexperience doing that — while we were mixing the song, people weredancing naked out in the garden! We found out how much all thesetechno guys had been influenced by what we’d done, things like the”Acid Bath” album, and songs like “RIP” and “Lips Can’t Go” becausewe were doing something different with the technology available atthat time instead of that light twee 80s keyboard sound we weremore twisted, darker & heavier.
Mrs Fiend: And we learnt stuff from them in return.
Nik Fiend: It’s a two-way street, you learn from each other. We’veprobably learnt something from everyone we’ve worked with
Mrs Fiend: Good and bad! From my point of view, most of what I’velearned has probably been more on the practical side like “handyprogramming hints & tips”, especially from Mat Rowlands on”Nocturnal Emissions” (previous studio album) rather than any bigmusical influences.
Nik Fiend: After our original drummer Johnnie Ha Ha left, we had toturn to technology more to be able to carry on
Mrs Fiend: We knew we wouldn’t get another drummer like him coshe wasn’t JUST a drummer and it would’ve been very difficult if notimpossible for someone else to fit in at that time, so we bought asecond drum machine
Nik Fiend: A meatier one! So at each stage we’ve developed forother people working with us I think it can become too intense forthem after a while, I think they may burn out. ASF requires 100%commitment and that’s a lot to ask of other people. We expect it ofourselves and we can deliver that every time, but other people can’talways keep it up indefinitely.
Mrs Fiend: Cue for an “Oooh er missus” there! (Laughs)
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us about the new record, “Information Overload”. What has been most interesting or exciting to you in making this record?
Alien Sex Fiend: Mrs Fiend: The fact it got released at all is a major achievement, actually! (Laughs) It nearly didn’t happen!
Nik Fiend: There was a lot of different shit going on that we had todeal with and it seemed at times that fate or something was againstus! But looking back on it now it was only because — for whateverreason — the time wasn’t right. As with a lot of what we do, it is instinctand if things are going wrong the best thing we can do is to leave italone for while which we did until the situation resolved itself — wejust had to ride out the storm
Mrs Fiend: Well, several storms in fact!
Nik Fiend: Either we rode it out or we quit. I think that’s why the musicand the band is precious, it is fragile. Shit happens to us for a reason. Like I said before, I suppose it stops us from going up our own arses!
Mrs Fiend: The other thing that I found interesting about “InformationOverload” was the way it was achieved — each track was approachedtotally differently, it was recorded in very different ways and over quitea long period of time and yet it has the feel of a whole. Don’t ask mehow that happened! It’s Fiend magic! ! Either that or we really aregeniuses! ! (Laughs) Like on “Gotta Have It”, Nik did all the recordingand engineering, it was all on analogue 8-track tape, and I did all theprogramming
Nik Fiend: And it pretty much mixed itself. I didn’t need to touch thedesk faders at all, I had captured EXACTLY what I wanted on tapealready, it didn’t need extra effects or anything.
Mrs Fiend: The other extreme would be “Motherf**ker Burn”, which hasso many different sections. There’s some analogue tape tracks butalso a load of hard disk recording; Slice played guitar on that but thereare also guitar samples, and as well as Nik’s vocals there aresampled vocals too, and fuck knows how many bass drums, so it wasa completely different recording method on that track. The otherinteresting AND exciting thing is that some fans think that this is thebest album ever and others that’s it’s the best one since “Acid Bath”and/ or the “Curse” album so that’ll do me!
Chain D.L.K.: How did you get into doing the music for the Cd-Rom video game “Inferno — The Odyssey Continues”? And was this a one-time-only endeavour? What other multi-media crossovers should we expect to see from you, if any?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: It was cool because it was the first time a band had beenasked to do a complete soundtrack for a computer game. At that pointwe had sort of shut the band down (1993) cos we’d done a load oftouring without much of a break so I was looking for something new toget my teeth into and — unusual for me — I didn’t have any lyrics thatwere needing to be unleashed!
Mrs Fiend: We were toying with some instrumental ideas when wegot a phone call asking if we would be interested in the “Inferno”project being developed by the game company Ocean.
Nik Fiend: Barry Leitch (one of Ocean’s computer game musicians) was a big fan of ours so when he was asked if you could work on thisproject with any band in the world who would you pick. We were oneof the first bands on his list and he picked us over all the othersbecause he’d read our Fiendzines (ASF’s own print magazine of tourand behind-the-scenes stories, photos and artwork — now evolved intothe ASF web site) and so he knew that we had a sense of humour, sohe thought that at least he’d have a bit of a laugh with us doing it.
Mrs Fiend: It was strange because the entire soundtrack had to beprogrammed, we couldn’t have anything hand-played on it at all. Youasked earlier about learning from collaborations and I suppose this isthe one that got us into computers. Not just for music but generally.
Nik Fiend: It was a completely different way of working because wewere restricted in that we had to write to the game scenarios, themusic had to go along with the game play, and it was the first time wehad to finish a song in x minutes.
Mrs Fiend: From normally being completely unrestricted we suddenlyhad to comply with a set of rules. That’s basically why we had to workwith Barry because he was a computer game musician so heunderstood all those restrictions which we had to adhere to.
Nik Fiend: So it was a completely new challenge, and we had to finishit to a deadline as well!
Mrs Fiend: It would be cool to do a film soundtrack, I think it would beeasier than a computer game!
Nik Fiend: Because film action is fixed in time, whereas with acomputer game things can happen at different times, so the musiccan’t be written to a particular event.
Chain D.L.K.: If you had $1 billion, what would you do?
Alien Sex Fiend: Mrs Fiend: Wooo!
Nik Fiend: That’s not something I’ve ever thought about
Mrs Fiend: I wouldn’t spend it on flash cars for a start! I probablywouldn’t even buy a new keyboard even! I’d use it to make adifference — I’d try and do the give-a-man-a-fish business — y’know, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish andyou feed him for life” and that sort of thing. But I’d have to get advicefrom people working in that sort of field, to do it properly. Also if a bigchunk was invested wisely you could keep a helluva lot of those sort ofprojects going for a bloody long time!
Nik Fiend: A lot of people would like big sums to escape their dayjobs, or whatever, but I’m not dissatisfied with my lot so I wouldn’twant it for myself. It would be a big responsibility though, some c**twould be trying to nick it I expect! So it would bring it’s own set ofproblems with it.
Chain D.L.K.: Suppose there was a “heaven”, and you went there — what music would be playing there? What would be playing in Hell?
Alien Sex Fiend: Mrs Fiend: Stuff we like would be played in Heaven.
Nik Fiend: And Hell would have endless shite. Hmmm, maybe we arein Hell already seeing as there’s so much old dross about!
Chain D.L.K.: Favorite animals? Plants? Body parts? Diseases or disorders?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: Favourite animal is a pelican.
Mrs Fiend: Cats and bats.
Nik Fiend: My favourite plant is the smoking variety!
Mrs Fiend: Lettuces. I seriously get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t eatlettuce for a few days! I like flowers too, cos of their colours — seeingas we’re nearly at St. David’s Day (March 1st) and he’s the PatronSaint of Wales and I’m a Welsh girl, I’ll choose daffodils. Also theycheer things up over here cos they’re one of the first spring flowersand after our long, wet, and grey British winters they’re much needed!
Nik Fiend: My favourite body part is my penis — hours of fun! !
Mrs Fiend: Yeah, I’ll agree with that!
Nik Fiend: As far as diseases and disorders go — well, we’re probablymental — but that’s a good thing — so I’m not sure if that counts as adisorder
Chain D.L.K.: What would you like to be asked, and what would be your answers?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: “Why are you so handsome, Nik? ” and I could reply “It’seasy, I was born this way! “
Mrs Fiend: “Jack Daniel’s and Coke for you, Mrs F? ” & I would reply”Yes please, with ice! “
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us about your visions or ideas about the future. What should happen? What do you think actually will happen? And what are your own plans, for music and for everything else? Any tours in the foreseeable future?
Alien Sex Fiend: Nik Fiend: I don’t have a f**king clue about what I’M gonna be doing inthe future let alone the rest of the world and the greater scheme ofthings! So I shall only speak for myself here. Over the last few years Ijust take things a day at a time, I try to ride out the shit bits and I keeppaddling until I get through and hit a good patch. I haven’t got a crystalball. If you’d told me what was gonna happen with this band backwhen we started in 1982 I wouldn’t have believed it. I hadn’t even beenon an airplane back then; since then we’ve been all over the world.
Mrs Fiend: The only thing we definitely have planned for the future isthe Zillo Festival appearance in Germany I mentioned before
Nik Fiend: I’m looking forward to that, but other than that, who knows?
Mrs Fiend: If anyone out there wants to know what we’re up to, the bestthing is to join our “ASF News” email list. Email email@example.com with “ADD ME” as theSubject Header or check out the ASF web site at http://www.asf-13thmoon.demon.co.uk. Oh, and if you can’t find the new album in the stores, you can get itfrom our web site’s online store Blue Crumb Truck.
Nik Fiend: Cheers!
Visit Alien Sex Fiend on the web at:
www.asf-13thmoon.demon.co.uk and at:
[interviewed by Maren] [proofreading by Maren]