The Fetish for Shit
Abstract Magazine, issue 4, 1984


Following our feature on Psychic TV last issue, the half we'd interviewed - Geff & Sleazy, parted company with the band to pursue their own ideals in 'Coil'. At the time, we concluded that more talk was needed to tidy loose ends and explain incomplete ideas; As with this issue we are able to compile a more complete feature, with an audible, as well as printed insight. It seemed perfect to return for more questioning before the confusion had settled. With the last article we managed to disturb both camps. One, because our report displayed a half hearted belief in what was said and the other; because we supposedly misled the public (see letters) by reporting that Coil was part of PTV, at that time we believe they were.

We approached Coil with both these accusations in mind, armed with questions and tactics which should supposedly crush any ambiguities and force to the surface any pitfalls or truth in their statements and beliefs. Offering tea, Sleazy explained that they didn't want to talk about PTV, naturally enough wanting to pursue new avenues, but does that mean that everything's changed, even their attitude toward music?

We don't feel we've changed our philosophy or approach to life, just our approach to music.

How would you describe this new approach ?

E'm perverse. Not only in the sense of whatever we enjoy, we don't particularly enjoy mainstream music, but then we also don't enjoy much that isn't mainstream, banging pots etc. It's a question of finding a particular kind of music that's moving and entertaining for us. Also perverse in that after all these years we still can't play the instruments properly, so it's a question of making the kind of sounds we want, by what ever means we can, that get us as close as we can to expressing what we've got in our heads.

What ideas have you got in your head ?

Basically all the ideas that we've managed to successfully bring into being are on the album. Sometimes you have an idea that doesn't work or an idea that you can't make work because you're not clever enough.

Would you be hesitant to ask some one else to help in that situation, even if you knew that they could create what you want?

Well it depends a lot where they come from and whether we think we can express in our words, to them, something that will end up having them interpret it the way we want. We couldn't use professional musicians who we had no contact with. It's much more important, the kind of person they are rather than in their technique and ability.

So would they necessarily have to conform to your ideas?

They don't have to believe the things we believe, it's just that we're more likely to select people who are naturally sympathetic to our ways and views in life; rather than select the kind of radical lesbian midwife who might not actually sympathize with our views.

Stephen E. Thrower, a member from Possession, has recently been sympathizing with Coil's needs, perhaps injecting a new direction or inspiration into the ideas. Where does their inspiration come from?

A lot of our inspiration at the moment is coming not from personalities, such as Manson & Jones, as it has done before. It's coming more from ideas about specific concepts, even though our album is not a concept album.

Can you give us some idea of what these specific concepts involve?

The album is called 'Scatology' . The dictionary 'Homage To Sewage' , which appears on our album 'Life At The Top', is that meant along these lines?

Worshipping base matter - sewage?

Yes, that was one of the very first things that we did when we were developing the line of thought and this technique of playing. It's an attempt to assemble sound sources in a way that actually has in the beginning no musical form. A lot of groups over the past few years have just played tapes as backing to whatever music it is they're doing, in order to give it more filmic quality or make it more interesting. What we were trying to do was to use a lot of things that might be insignificant under the track and actually make them into the music itself. I think there are about 6 or 7 different sounds that are completely none musical in their origination, that we've tried to weave together into musical form. The impression that we wanted to give at the beginning of working out this idea, was trying to possibly take things that might be, in their unedited form, disgusting and actually elevate them to something which isn't really revolting at all, but very musical and rhythmic.

With Throbbing Gristle and PTV, I felt that you were always making music to test the publics reaction. Whether it was the effect a certain sound or image would have on the individual, or, in live circumstances, the effect it would have on a crowd. Was this part of your aim and have you now carried this inking into 'Coil'?

We're both very interested in how people react today, but the reason for it's being is not as a test of someones reactions, it sounds like it's not actually a serious piece - the reason for it's composition is just to do a number on somebody - but that's not the case with any of the things that we've done. Obviously if people write in and say 'I experienced an exstatic transformation listening to your record', then that's very interesting and you write back to them and say 'Oh really, how did this happen, what did you feel and I did too', or whatever. Or if they happen to say 'My mum heard your record through the bedroom door and immediately threw up', that's also quite interesting because it's more experience as a result of your music. But I don't feel it's a number we're doing on people. I don't recall PTV ever being that calculated, although Gen might have said that we were. I'm not really interested at all in the manipulation of people for it's own sake, there again I can't comment on PTV's position in that. I'm obviously not interested in people having the same kind of haircut as us or the same clothes.

But at times, when TG and PTV played live, weren't there certain ways that you were trying to manipulate people for some sort of reaction?

When TG played live we were always interested in actual physical reactions to the song and that responded quite clearly, it stated the objectives. Over the period of the gigs that TG played we found out basically what you could do and what you couldn't do with that kind of equipment and that kind of volume. But since then it's not really been such a direct experiment.

In 1976 you did the 'Pornographic Exhibition' at the ICA, being such a controversial subject at the time with also the punk thing happening, surely the aim there was to create some public response?

I don't think so at all. We were just doing things that we we're interested in at the time and quite by accident we suddenly realised how different our ideas were, or in fact not different at all because the papers in fact thought it was all a jolly interesting and an easier way to sell papers.

Geff again leans forward and interrupts:

I think you were playing around with people's expectations. You did that to test boundaries in the sense that you knew people would be I interested if it would expose their hypocrises, and I'm sure Gen and you lot were all aware of that, so in that sense you did, and we still do.

To some extent I think you take people's expectations into account when you do things, certainly with record covers and stuff Returns Sleazy.

We'll try and do something that when somebody might see the record cover first, we'll try to do something new and a bit different or interesting for them, rather than just being a nice design. That was what I always intended to do with any of the TG or PTV covers that I was involved with. To a certain extent you are aware of people's expectations and I know i'm repeating myself, but you're not trying to trick them, you're just trying to make it more interesting.

When you started using the manson imagery, we're you just trying to make it more interesting ? Are you still interested in him? Or was that PTV fetish?

Well intellectually yes, we are still interested in him, but none of the music we're making at the moment actually features him as an inspiration in the way that some of the PTV stuff did. We're certainly not obsessed with Manson or Jim Jones. They are characters who are interesting in what they did, but so too are a lot of other characters.

They are usefull symbols, but they're being done to death at the moment by 400 Blows and SPK... anyone. It's becoming rather a cliche. Concludes Geff.

Basically all you can do is gather data on it at surface level, and over a period of time you begin to appreciate what strange little kills those people had, and if possible try to avoid being influenced by those skills when they're being exhibited by other people; whether it's Margaret Thatcher or your next door neighbour. I think that what Jones and Manson and all those people did is something that should be avoided rather than something which should be encouraged. But the technique with which he manipulated people was incredible.

Don't you think what he did, which as far as I can see was reconditioned his followers making them think that they were right to kill all those people, don't you think that the technique he used could be used for good, positively, rather than negatively?

Geff took the lead

Anybody's view point being imposed on someone else is wrong, whatever it is.

But you could do it without imposing your viewpoint on other people. If you take people out on their own and ask them, without criticism and that's what stops most people speaking out for themselves, ask them what they think and what they want to do and get them to utilise that control in their life, then they could learn to apply it.

I think that's possible but very rarely happens. I've never seen that, there are various courses that are supposed to give you new confidence and make you double your income and all this. Excogises is a very good example of this, where they do basically what you're saying, only they actually, at the same time, promote their company deals and so on. They have people working for the company using those self motivational techniques and these people all have big smiles on their faces and say they're having a wonderful time and do jolly well for the company. It's just I don't think it's the way people operate, I agree, I think people in themselves are actually very strong and anything you can do to build up that strength and independance must be good. Like with faith healing, if you could use that amount of psychic direction and power actually to get people to cure their own veruka's and cancers, I'm sure a lot of interesting and useful things could be done like that. But there isn't really the motivation for people that are in control of these techniques; they're all feathering their own nests. I think to some extent that was another reason why we left PTV, was that the trappings of this thing we're discussing were taking on those overtones, which we didn't like.

Were you all exploiting this kind of control with the 'Temple ov Psychick Youth' ?

Not in any serious way I don't think, it's just the trappings were the same. I think that any organisation that encourages people to look the same, rather than different, at the very least is boring and may lead onto things that are even more unpleasent.

So are you actually saying that the 'guidelines' layed down in the 'introduction to the temple' such as 'you should write magazines and give them 23 pages', these guidelines were not your ideas?

Well no, a lot of the actual material that was covered in that pamphlet and the book were an attempt to lay out a lot of things we've been talking about just now, the way that people can be manipulated and how one should leave aside dogma and become independant and ore able to deal with things alone. But unfortunately that in itself over the months became dogma the words actually became more important than the ideas, or at least that's the way it appeared to me. But certainly, I'm still behind a lot of what we wrote.

Back to the band in question, Coil, and Sleazy's interest in video. He actually owns a video company promoting commercials and promo video's, including the latest from Barry Gibb:

It's interesting because it's completely different from anything I've experienced before. It's a very good way of learning the techniques, not only of manipulating people (I thought we'd questioned all the contradictions !), but also of making films. Because just as we've always made music with a particular image or vision in mind, I would also like to be able to make films in the same way, because films obviously appeal to a much wider audience and it's easier to get ideas across much quicker, as they say 'a picture paints a thousand words'.

Do you intend doing video's for Coil in the same vein as 'terminus' the masochistic PTV offering ?

In theory yes, but in practice I haven't had the chance. We have actually had a number of requests from people putting out compilation video tape things and although we'd like to do things in that area and be seen by the public, up to now I haven't had the time. We're still quite friendly with Stevo (Some Bazarre) and he has a cable program on American TV which is supposed to reach 35 million people, every month, for which we've been asked to do a film for, so we will be doing something imminently. It's just, maybe I'm being a snob, but I have a high expectation of ourselves, so we don't think it would be sufficient to do a 'super imposition' of lots of marching feet, weird images and sweaty bodies, because I don't think that's very interesting. The thing is you're bombarded with images on the TV and a lot of people as a result think that if you just bombard people with more images or images of a particular nature then that is actually sufficient to make an entertaining video and I don't think that's the case.

So what would you do that would be entertaining ?

Well you'll see when I do it. I think it's more likely to be a proper film and i'm sure the story, if there is one, is likely to tell a very different tale from those that you've seen already.

Sleazy is equally vague about his plans for touring:

We haven't actually figured out quite what it is that we'd do that would be worthy of being called 'live' and interesting, but at the same time would be good enough to reach our sort of standards. I was never happy with what we did with PTV live, it was very sub TGish as far as I was concerned and I'm not really interested in doing that again. I need to do something new and making a noise isn't new at all.

Sleazy refusing to expand further on any appearances which may be made, squeezes the conversation dry but not without first explaining why:

Our energy is not put into talking so it's possibly true that with interviews with us we are likely to be less forthcoming than a lot of people are. Hopefully we are a little more literate than some bands who say 'Yeah we had a really great time on tour screwing lots of people', because we've possibly got more interesting things to say.

And they've got some interesting things to question, but until their next contradiction I'm satisfied they're being 'per se honest'.