“Voluptuaries of all ages, of every sex, it is to you only that I offer this work; nourish yourselves upon its principles: they favor your passions, and these passions, whereof coldly insipid moralists put you in fear, are naught but the means Nature employs to bring man to the ends she prescribes for him; harken only to these delicious promptings, for no voice save that of the passions can conduct you to happiness.” [ from 'Philosophy in The Boudoir' by le Marquis de Sade, 1795 ]
The Price OF eXiStence Is eTernAL WArFARe
COIL IS A HIDDEN UNIVERSAL. A CODE. A KEY FOR WHICH THE WHOLE DOES NOT EXIST. IS NONEXISTENT, IN SILENCE AND SECRECY. A SPELL. A SPIRAL. A SERPENTS SHT ROUND A FEMALE CYCLE. A WHIRLWIND. A DOUBLE HELIX. DNA. ELECTRICITY AND ELEMENTALS. ATONAL NOISE, AND BRUTAL POETRY.
COIL KNOW HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS. HOW TO PARALYSE. IMAGINE THE WORLD IN A BOTTLE. WE TAKE THE BOTTLE, SMASH IT, AND OPEN YOUR THROAT WITH IT. I WARN YOU WE ARE MURDEROUS. WE WILL MASSACRE THE LOGICAL REVOLTS. WE KNOW NOTHING. WE KNOW EVERYTING. WE KNOW ONE THING ONLY. ABSOLUTE EXISTENCE, ABSOLUTE MOTION, ABSOLUTE DIRECTION, ABSOLUTE TRUTH.
COIL is formed by John Balance. Originally it was intended to replace work when things weren't busy with PSYCHIC TV, but in 1983 John decided with Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson to turn their backs to Psychic TV (and Genesis P. Orridge), and upgrade COIL to being a full project. John had until then besides PTV been working with LUSTMORD and doing soloprojects, Sleazy we know from THROBBING GRISTLE, as producer of 23 SKIDOO, Monte Cazazza, etc. and (though perhaps unconsciously) as creator of videos by famous popstars and as the designer of albumcovers (over 7000).
Besides the assumption that John and Sleazy's departure from PTV has a lot of personal reasons involved, an important philosophical reason is being given in the American magazine UNSOUND:
John: [...] Maybe it is more male orientated, in that we have no female members and PTV did have and had a very definate feminine/lunar side. We are conscious of our sexual position. We choose male dynamic subjects given the choice because that is our state at the moment and we are not interested in passive choices.
One resemblance that is being shared with PTV is the multimedia approach. COIL does not only appear in the world of music, but also (though sporadically) in the field of performance art. An example of this is the performance How to Destroy Angels by John in collaboration with ex-SOFT CELL Marc Almond and PTV's John Gosling. Marc read out poetry about personal relationships and human degradation, while both Johns undressed, painted their bodies, shitted on the floor, degraded their bodies.
Much later John and Sleazy record for the Belgian label Laylah records the 12" of the same name, with Jim "Foetus" Thirwell as producer. Subtitled: Ritual music for the accumulation of male sexual energy. The same Jim Thirwell had just finished mixing Scatology when I made an appointment with John and Stephen E. Thrower, who plays all the wind instruments on the album. As an introduction they play the first three songs, and while I'm recovering from the impact those three masterpieces have made on me, John starts to explain (no recording survived so I have to translate this from Dutch):
Scatology is a dirty word. It means the obsession with human excrement: shit. It has to do with complete obscenities. On one side there's the obsession, on the other side in scientific terms it means the study of fossile excrement. The album is called like that because it's something - like many of the subjects on the record - people rather not like to deal with. There exist a lot of alchemistic theories that assume that from basic materials gold can be made. Our version of this is that we use basic materials to produce shit. So it's an alchemistic joke with a serious undertone because it's a principle within alchemy to make good things come out of worthless things.
"UNSOUND: WHY DID YOU BREAK AWAY FROM PTV?
Sleazy: Because of the increasing rift between us and Genesis in terms of attitudes and priorities."
John: The reason why we got out of Psychic TV lies rather complicated. It looked a bit like an image-machine you can switch on, and what happened was that people reacted differently then what we thought we originally intended. Instead of people looking through the image, they just adapted it. We were always conscious of the fact people would misinterpret us, but we didn't foresee they would take us so seriously. And in my opinion Genesis didn't really do his best to do something about it. But it remains difficult to talk about this subject, without having to take sides. Personally I still thinks it's okay what they're doing, but Sleazy and I just didn't feel comfortable anymore.
AB: It appears as if Psychic TV has become more accessible since you both left.
John: I think that's a good development, and would like COIL to move into the same direction. On the other hand I have no problem with being accused of elitism. We are working as individuals, and often work on projects that others have nothing to do with. I find it hard to work for a large audience without having to do all sorts of compromises, like PTV does, attracting people with an exterior attractiveness.
John: We received a tape with tones and frequencies that were supposed to have something to do with magic. Two pieces dealt with "psychic desintegration". Of one piece we made a rythm, with the sole purpose of triggering physical processes, such as vomiting. The other piece was called "black noise in contrast to white noise", and those are sounds that are being used to summon demons. Hopefully it has its effect when played extremely loud.
AB: Could one say COIL is more interested in sound as theory than sound because of sound?
John: In some cases yes, although there are situations where I can think of a sound as just beautiful, without certain theories behind it.
Stephen: With the technology available at the moment, you get the opportunity to alter material that a lot of people would't find acceptable, in a way that it becomes a sound that doesn't necessarily points out the original, "unacceptable" sound.
John: An obvious example is a tape we received containing sounds produced with rubber clothing. Something that causes a lot of people to have obscene thoughts. We finally were able to transform it into sounding like dashing water.
THE PRICE OF EXISTENCE IS ETERNAL WARFARE
AB: I receive a lot of comments from people stating they find the slogan "The price of existence is eternal warfare" very negative.
John: I think only negative people think it's a negative slogan. It's originally from Aleister Crowley, and has to do with the New Aeon of Horus. The idea behind it is that there are challenges you have to confront. If you don't confront yourself with them, life has no meaning at all. If I think there's something that's worth fighting for, I will fight for it. Whether it's Control, or the state and other machines of oppression, I'm prepared to fight the hypocrisy, the rules that are being imposed.
Stephen: But I wouldn't want to politicize that fight, because then you'll make the same mistakes as those you're fighting against. That's just one example why the British socialists don't mean anything in the political arena. They're so dry and boring, and miles away from the people they mean to represent. When there are elections, half of the population rather stay at home watching TV.
John: I could call myself an anarchist because I believe in individuality, but that doesn't mean I believe in human nature. I think history has shown us that people within a group act selfishly. Every attempt to organize people has failed, because it's against nature.
Stephen: Compared to what's going on nowadays, George Orwell's "1984" doesn't even come close. In "1984" the situation is described as being clearly arranged, which at the moment is certainly not the case. People know what's going on, but they don't dare to do something about it, simply because they're afraid they could be victims too. Everything has been arranged in such a subtle fashion. Take for instance the sexual revolution: it's being pretended that people like Boy George are representative for the freedom people have, bullshit!
John: Stephen's flat has been searched a couple of times already because the neighbours had informed the police there were some strange looking guys living there, so they search the flat pretending they're looking for stolen goods. And at the moment several books are banned; gay books, Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Marquis de Sade has been banned for five years now, it just doesn't cross the border. The worst thing is that the hypocrisy is so visible. There's a politician who one moment preaches against homosexuality, and an hour later he's being seen in a gay bar. Everyone knows there's a politician who's involved with minors, but nobody says anything because he's such an important person. (Now I am being requested not to reveal his name in the article - AB) And if such a person appears on TV and speaks of public morals you feel like bashing your television screen...
The interview is over. A COIL break-through can be expected within a couple of weeks. Steve will continue his activities with his own group POSSESSION. John hopes all problems of COIL playing live will be solved soon and would like to play in The Netherlands.