Hi, Mr. Wilder, my name's Nino. Thanks for taking time out to talk to me. Here
are my questions
Hi Nino, nice to meet you...
years in the music industry and a comeback which sounds like an amazing debut:
Is Recoil fully reloaded?
Well I should be
refreshed after a 5 year break, shouldn't I?
subHuman sleeve has a strong visual impact. The whole album is much
edgier and less ethereal than your earlier recordings. What were you aiming for?
To be honest, there was
no real aim. The only rule I set at the outset was 'no spoken-word'. Apart
from the obvious by-product of that producing a bit more melody, the album came
together quite naturally and I just went with the flow. A more obvious blues
direction started to emerge after I'd been working on some atmospheres for the
first couple of months and so I thought I would search for an authentic blues
singer to enhance that approach - hence Joe Richardson. From there, one thing
led to another. It was only near the end, when mixing and compiling, that I was
able to think about presentation and meaning. That's when the idea of 'subHuman'
came along. The mannequins within the art are set into everyday situations and
are designed to represent worthless recyclable life forms - the subhumans.
A blues approach mixed-up with your electronic trademark and (in my opinion)
a bit of Miles Davis directions in music: are you agree?
If you want ! I'd like
to think the trademark sound comes as a result of following my instincts and
trusting in my working methods so that, even with a diverse collection of
collaborators, there still remains a recognizable style that we can say is
Recoil. I really don't want to contrive that though, so I remain
very non genre-specific and
very open-minded about different
musical styles. What you hear is just a reflection of my entire record
collection, which is wide and varied.
The sound of the album is also propelled by a lot of guitars, and the blues
focus on the importance of the emotional voice in a dark cold era: back to the
Never really been away
from humans. I've been mutating pieces of performance for a long time now,
using modern techniques to re-structure the performances but still retaining the
human quality. I have always found that the raw emotional content of the blues
counterbalances against what can be cold electronics to provide that much-needed
warmth. As for guitars, when I met up with Joe, I luckily acquired the added
bonus of his guitar and harmonica playing skills - not to mention the rest of
his band !
What aspect of the future do you find most disturbing? Are you obsessed with
the dark side of human nature?
Obsessed? No, but it is
much more interesting to write about than the familiar face of humanity that the
world would like us to see. Let's face it, it doesn't take much change in any
individual's circumstances to create a very different animal, capable of all
kinds of distorted behavior.
99 to life is a desperate song about a man sent to prison and reminds
me something of the Edward Bunker's novels. Is it a true story?
Apparently so. Says
Joe... "Unfortunately the story is true. It's about one of my closest friends,
sent to prison here in Texas after killing 3 men in a gunfight. It was actually
self-defence, but they were white and he was Hispanic, and it was a long time
ago when we were young and dumb!" AW: I wasn't aware of that when we recorded
the track. I hadn't wanted to probe too deeply at the time of the recording
because I'd only just met Joe and I got the impression that he wasn't
necessarily too keen to chat about his past.
Any more words about your collaboration with Joe Richardson and Carla
Both were great to work
with, open-minded and enthusiastic. The Texas sessions only lasted a week but
were quite intense and we recorded lots of material - some of which wasn't used
but may surface later on. It was only after that week that I knew I would be
able to complete the project. Carla was also very willing to adapt her ideas to
suit my slightly odd musical structures. My thinking was to intersperse her
voice around Joe to sonically balance what he had provided.
I have read that soon you want to go back in the studio, work on a new album.
Do you feel with your creative flow in writing terms is fairly constant?
I find that something
just comes if you sit down in front of the equipment and start trying things.
If I lounge around in front of the TV waiting for some kind of divine
inspiration, there's no chance. The things that hold me back are my own
perfectionist tendencies and the knowledge of how long it is bound to take me to
get to the end of an album. That can be daunting when you're just starting
out. I also wonder whether the 'album concept' will still be around in two
years time. The way things are in the current climate, every musician seriously
has to think about new ways to present their music.
What's' the most positive change that has occurred in your song-writing
processes in recent years?
I think that's for others
to say. I don't really know. I always think everything I do involves
plagiarism and that I've heard it all before. I'm not sure I have an original
thought in my head really. To have some self doubt is of course important in
that it keeps you honest and ambitious but sometimes, I do need a bit of
Can you remember your early influences in music?
Growing up in the late
sixties and seventies, I first starting taking an interest in contemporary music
during the 'Glam' period. Ziggy Stardust's image has a big effect on a 13 year
old lad ! I also liked 'Prog Rock' (King Crimson, E.L.P., Traffic) as well as
Free, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and many others. I was raised in a
classically-driven musical household and I wanted to explore the roots of all
these bands I was suddenly being exposed to - which of course sparked my
interest in Blues, Gospel, early R&B, Soul, Jazz and so on. I would spend hours
trying to work out 12 bar blues on the piano instead of playing my grade 5
What was the first record that made an impression on you and who taught you
the most about music?
There is no one record
but I would cite The Beatles 'White' album, Bowie records from the early '70s,
Lou Reed's 'Berlin','Are You Experienced' and 'Axis:Bold as Love' by Jimi
Hendrix. And then, much later, Kraftwerk, Eno etc.
What can you say about the ambient version available on the limited edition
of the album?
Borne out of listening to the rear speakers
only of the 5.1 version (which is much more based around the stereo mix), it
struck me that we could produce an entire album version which was much more
minimal. I am aware that my music can get very dense and so this seemed a good
opportunity to create more breathing space.
We began by stripping away the
rockier elements like live drums and heavy guitars to see what was left. From
there, I adjusted the remaining more ambient parts to make sense and then, if it
was needed, added a few new loops and sounds. It is mainly about exposing the
effects, voices and more atmospheric moments. For example, vocal reverbs,
backwards parts, guitar delays and so on come to the fore. There is probably
less emphasis on dynamics and, structurally, there are some minor changes.
Once more, Recoil's music sounds like a soundtrack for an imaginary movie.
Have you ever thought of writing film music?
Yes, of course I have
thought about it. No-one has really asked me to do it properly yet but it would
be interesting to work to existing pictures rather than creating them in my
What are your opinions about the digital revolution in general and digital
I have mixed feelings. Are you ready?.... I
have no problem in principle with legal multimedia distribution (as long as
audio quality continues to improve) and I think that it is often helpful to a
project like Recoil that cannot rely on more traditional outlets such as radio,
TV and record store awareness. It is still of course disappointing that radio
producers provide such a limited window for any music outside of the mainstream
and so the struggle to make people aware of the Recoil project remains. I'm
realistic though - my only goal is firstly, to try to make people aware and,
secondly, to ensure that the music is readily available so that the listener can
make their own minds up about it.
Having said that, I worry that the idea of an
'album' will soon become a thing of the past because people seem to prefer
cherry-picking track by track rather than devoting the time to sit down and
listen from start to finish, in it's intended running order. I'm from the
generation that holds a soft spot for the physical product with artwork and so
on. However, CD is going the way of vinyl and so everyone has to embrace new
music-buying trends, and I do like the fact that everything is available on-line
(I've wasted many hours scouting record shops in the past and come away
frustrated that I wasn't able to find what I was looking for).
The future? I can see that it won't be long
before we are all giving our music away free (since illegal copying is already
rife anyway). In many ways, free music is good promotion. From the musician's
point of view however, it is hard to reconcile working for 12-18 months trying
to produce something really special when, in the end, you have to give it away
in shitty compressed MP3 format because the market dictates it. I could imagine
that, alongside the free download, perhaps a new version of vinyl might take off
- you know, like a very high quality disc (not actual vinyl but maybe
super-audio DVD) with large vinyl-size artwork which could satisfy the
connoisseur. Maybe I'll start this new format for the next album !
Does music go through fertile and fallow periods?
Probably. Usually adverse social conditions spark off artist's imaginations.
Where do you see Recoil going in the future and who would you like to
collaborate with in the next future?
Not too sure yet. Given what I've said about being instinctive and my above
speech about the state of the business, anything could happen ! From a musical
point of view, I would still like to work with new people and explore different
avenues. Film work is always a possibility. I'll just start fiddling and see
Special thanks to
Keeley Currie (Mute) and Simon
Pensing (Shunt Staff)