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Michael Wells

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Michael Wells Interview   7/14/97    7:30AM by phone to Amsterdam
By Dave Bellard

Dave Bellard: What was going on in your life before you and Lee [Newman]
formed Greater Than One?


Michael Wells: I was studying art in London at the Royal College of Art,
doing a fine art degree, and that's when I started getting interested in
music and performance art, and that's how it all came about.

Is this where you and Lee met?

Yeah. I was a student there and she would come in a hang out at the bars
and the art studios, and it was a fun time because we used to make
experimental films and cut-ups of all different things. Then when I left
college, I thought "well, I've had it with doing art". We did
some video instalations, had some exhibitions -paintings that we did under
the name Greater Than One - but at the same time we were putting together
small, cassette packages, selling them ourselves to the shops. It was very
experimental ...early,early, early sampling things. Somehow, someone
picked up on it, and we ended up doing a record on Side Effects Records,
which was SPK's label.  Um, we dumped off the first thing we did, and we
sort of hired a little bit of equipment and recorded this album in one
go, and we liked it! It was really nice, we could design the record
covers, make music, and really have fun with it.  So somehow, I think it
was one of the guys from the Thrill Kill Kult picked up one of the
records or one of the packages and let Jim Nash hear it at Wax Trax and
he said "We should do something with these guys, it's funky, it's
industrial, it's samples"..yeah, and they liked it so they were the ones
who really..really started, especially Jim Nash, the one who really got us
enthusiastic enough, maybe to think about making music more of a full
time thing. Then the response we had in the States was really quite
amazing! We were just doing this as a fun thing and we thought "oh, no
one's going to listen to this", so we were just messing around and
cutting things up.  So yeah, it seemed quite well recieved, which is nice.

Now going back to an earlier release, Kill The Peadagogue, a lot of
people haven't heard that, so maybe you can give a description of what
that was.


Well, off the top of my head, there were no real track titles. It was
just a freeform experimental thing, so it was previous to anything we'd
done, and we haven't released it in any other form, not on CD or on
vinyl, that's purely cassette...

What year was that?

I think that was 1987. Because the very first thing we did was a box set,
which we'd made the boxes, and we'd put wax sculptures in it, photographs
and the cassette, and we did 50 of them..


What was the title?

That was called "Lay Your Penis Down".
(Laughter) It was sort of, at the time, England was very, which it still
is, a very macho place. Lots of sort of, loud, young people, and um..if
you walked down the street dressed in a certain way you got shouted at!
Just this very macho thing, so Lay Your Penis Down was like "lay your
gun down".  So we did 50 of them, and we sold all 50 so we thought
"Oh! Well let's make another one!" so we just did Kill The
Pedagogue, and we sold a lot more. It seemed everything we did sold a lot
better. It was a snowball effect.

Earlier, you mentioned hooking up with Graeme Revell [SPK], and that was
for All The Masters Licked Me...


Yes..

Was Trust before or after that?

Trust was actually recorded around, um... a very similar time as that. I
think, I think Trust was recorded before that because that was first to
be the album , but there was something we didn't like about it, some bits
of distortion on it.  Which, laughably now, seems quite funny because now
I end up mixing so much distortion into things. So yeah, Trust was
recorded roughly around the same time, but I think it was beforehand.


Where did the tracks on the ROIR re-release of Trust [Duty And Trust]
come from?


The extra tracks were from a live show we were doing at the time, we
actually performed it here in Amsterdam. Originally it was called
Rhapsody In Black.  It was a performance piece in which we sat the
audience down in complete darkness, blacked out the whole place. Yeah, it
started off with the sort of, deep, orchestral things and then took
people through a journey with films and slides and lights. That [Duty And
Trust] was sort of extracts from the performance that we had made.

Even while you were making the earlier albums, you were still involved in
doing these performances?


Yeah, we were still doing performances as Greater Than One and video
instalations, and one time we went over [to Chicago] to see Jim Nash at
Wax Trax because we were presenting a video instalation at the Chicago
Arts Fair.  So we actually went there for the art as well as the music,
which is quite strange.

I've always percieved Greater Than One as being a 50/50 mix of music and
message, but did you ever find that one overpowered the other?


Not really. Because the way I work now, and the way we always worked, we
sometimes, um, we might even think of a title first before we even made
any music, just because we liked to play with words, OR sometimes we
would make a track based upon a sound or something, so...I mean, it was
and still is, the working process is very experimental and seeing what we
could put together. It's not overtly political music, but it is political
music because it's relevant to the times.  Like some of the titles might
have been commercial slogans from an advertising campaign, which we would
change all around.

Were the politics on the records meant as anything other than statements?

No. The whole concept of Greater Than One was that it could be taken
either way, and it can mean more than one thing. That was the idea of it,
I mean, the original idea of Greater Than One - that I had - was that it
was going to be something which would be almost like a collective
involving lots and lots of different people, which never sort of came
about (laughter)

You guys did too well on your own

Yeah, yeah, we did sort of. But the concept still remained because of
Greater Than One being more than one idea or more than one
interpretation. So it fit the idea and everything was quite ambiguous.  I
mean, if we did a really gentle track we'd give it a really angry title
or if we did an angry track we'd give it a gentle title. We were playing
with the whole form which became the content anyway.

How political do you think London was?

Well, it was a response to what was going on at the time...

It tends to talk about the dismal state of England, England dying..

Yeah, it was post-punk era. It was a very brutish place to live.  Also it
was very,..it became very aggressive with the boom of money and yuppies.
So you have these two types of aggression - you have the aggressive money
people, and the aggressive people who didn't have any money. England is
still a bit like that.  A very slow, stupid, brutish country, but I think
that a lot more creativity comes out of that, because it still has that
very strange, strange, um....it's almost like how Poland should be. [??]

When you put out London, which was a completely new sound in music, what
could have influenced you two?


Again, I think a lot of things. Always, always, always listening to
what's around and what's contemporary at the time and then making a
comment about it or - we listened to a lot of reggae, a lot of Hip-Hop, a
lot of Industrial music, and a lot of orchestral music, all at the same
time, as well as using the concept of cutting a lot of ethnic influences
in there along side of this new technology. That, to us, was quite
appealing.  Which of course is sort of overplayed now, but at the time
nobody had done it the way we were doing it.  It was very much like a
collage of what was around us. I think that's how we saw it. I mean, if a
Janet Jackson record came out, we'd run out and sample from there, then
there might be a distorted Hip-Hop loop and an orchestral sample mixed
with something off the TV, a commercial or something. That's the way it
came about, it was very much, ...trying to assimilate everything that was
around us.  Because I'm not a great, um...sometimes I get offended by
consumerism, people pushing messages to you, so it was a way of taking
other peoples messages, and taking it away from them, and presenting
ourselves out of their commercial message. It's almost like when you go
to MacDonalds and you buy the burger and the chips, but you take it home
and you make something different out of it.

The funniest thing is some of the samples on the records when put in the
context of the musci playing with it, they become totally different,
totally different meanings. Almost like a poke at them. Like the
Christian DJ sample on the Index EP, when the DJ does his little spiel
after "Dubkiller", him talking about playing "the best
Christian music".

 
(Laughing) Right, right. Well, it's always good to take a poke at the
church anyway..  People take themselves so seriously, it's nice to sort
of turn that around..

Did you ever find the concepts on the albums and singles scared DJ s away
from playing the records?

 
Yeah, I think so. That was one of the reasons for us to get more involved
in sort of dance/club techno because a lot of people wouldn't play us in
clubs, and radio DJ s were very limited, well, the college network would
play us, but it was very difficult to break into any other market. At the
same time Acid House came into its own, also with electronic body music,
it seemed like a natural progression to veer off into that. That was a
way to widen our audience.

But they were still afraid of it..
 
Yeah, especially some of the singles that we thought were danceable. We
used to get reports back from the DJ s saying "Well, I like the
record, but I'm not going to play it" (laughter)

No matter how funky it is...

No matter, because it, it was...for them it was wrong! (laughter). The
way it goes now, people are much more open to things like that.  It think
that if we were starting off now, there would be a much wider
appreciative audience. There was a very marginal audience, even though a
lot of people picked up on it and it influenced a lot of things, it was
still quite marginal. There was a hardcore body of DJ s who would
constantly play it and push it.  They were the DJ s who were quite
eclectic anyway who would play maybe a Cure track, then a Front 242
track, then a Greater Than One track. So they were quite open-minded
people anyway. Again, the funny thing about the music business is that
people think its really a creative business, but most people in it, DJ s,
writers, radio people are really quite conservative (laughter). very
conservative. And you still find that now, most DJ s are up their own
backside, their not that loose about it.

Sometimes it boils down to the money.

I think so. They're too scared of losing their jobs if they stick their
neck out.

Did you guys ever consider the music to be more for listening than dancing?

Yeah. I mean, even when we made dance music, I'd always think of someone
listening to it, and there's always a beginning, middle, and an end, not
just a track that can be put on at any point. To me that's still nice to
have this sort of flow, even if the flow is broken up, somehow it's got
to make sense. So I always thought of someone listening to it as well as
feeling it.

Did you get more response from the U.S. or Europe?
 
Oh, Greater Than One, we always got much more response from the U.S., and
more response from Holland and Germany.  But in the U.K, we made the
mistake of saying we were artists, and that was a real bad mistake,
because people hate that word in music. So if the people at NME hear the
word art, they sort of reach for their revolvers! So all of those little
papers didn't want to give us any column space because to them it was
this arty, self-indulgent stuff.

They already had their minds made up.

Oh yeah, definitely. It's difficult to break through them. I still have
difficulty with lots of people in the press anyway  because I work under
a lot of different names doing lots of different things, so they can't
pin you down. That's the thing. Because you're not a face to it. I'm not
a personality wanting to be a big face in front of it all. They really
don't like that. They almost get insulted by it! They want to own you.
They want to know everything about you, and if you don't tell them and
you're not forthcoming with your personal life or your ideas or you're
very abstract about it, they really don't focus much of their time on
you. Again, which was a part of doing something that was image based,
using imagry instead of using photographs of ourselves.

That's one of the things that I was always intrigued by with Greater Than
One releases, the absence of photographs gave the impression, although
the liner notes state that it was just you and Lee, but gave the
impression that this could be any number of people working on these
things.  A Greater Than One corporation.


Yeah, yeah, that was the idea. Like I said, it was supposed to be a
free-form collective. And I'm still working under lots of different names
that are totally anonymous and faceless as well. I still have a dream of
somehow making a factory that can produce computers, visuals,
fashion,...everything! Cars, perfumes (laughter) designed by different
people.  To me that would be a real dream.  Almost like an alternative
college for people. Instead of going to college, you come to work in this
creative, commercial world where you do everything.  That's the way I
think everyday, anyway.  That would be a really nice thing if I could get
that together.

Well, you keep on moving along, and you notice your life going in a
certain way...


Yes, I think that every now and then, I have to turn things upside down,
and I think "well, I'm not going to do this anymore. I'm going to do
films" or a different thing.

What was the motivation, ..or, er....the...the reasoning behind the
"I Don't Need God" single.  Where you at a point were you said
"We need to make a statement about this"?

Oh yes, especially living in England, you get so much of this, um,
perverted priests trying to have a moral decision on everybodies mind.
And they still do it.  If something happens they'll all come out of the
woodwork and say some shit. You know, very righter than thou people, and
they have no right to tell me how to live, what to think. And, uh, I
still feel very strongly about that. The song wasn't "anti"
religion or "anti" god, it was just saying "I don't need
this stuff. You keep it to yourselves." I don't have a problem with
anyone believe whatever they want to, but don't push it down my throat.
That was the meaning.
 
What was the public reaction to that?
 
To be honest, I couldn't tell you! (laughter) I mean, the people that
liked Greater Than One liked it, apart from that I really don't know. It
didn't get,  we didn't get banned or any pickets by vinyl-bashing people
or anything. There were no repercussions from it.

Didn't the video for that win some fairly big award?

Um.....I can't remember. I think, yeah, I think it did win something. I
don't know what it was now. We worked in a small, sort of community video
editing suite. When we did performances we always did our videos there.
We were very limited with our budget and we couldn't do much of our own
filming, so we had to do something that was real graphic, and it suited
our ideas.

The aesthetic of cut and paste in..

Right!  It was very much like the music, it was cut-up, sampled. At the
time there were a lot of cut-up videos being made. You had people cutting
up news footage, trying to make something out of it.  Yeah, it suited the
music. Within the time scale and budget that we had.

One of the songs on that same record, "Fear Is The Agent Of
Violence", has a very bizzare monologue that sound to be a Bolshevek
take on modern art.


It was all about Dada, and the concept of the proletariat and art..

Who was talking on that?

That was off a documentary on the BBC.  That was nice. It's nice to use
samples that people are not familiar with and can't recognize.

I never heard it before.

And you'll probably never hear it again (laughter). Again, that's sort of
a little piece of time, I mean, that program was probably on the TV the
same week we were making the track. That's what I like about being able
to sample and take things from around you and put them out  really quite
quickly.

On G-Force, it seems that you traded in the Hip-Hop for a more techno feel.

We started going out, going to clubs a bit more and listening to more
club-based music. It was just a natural direction.

Do you feel that London is more of a Hip-Hop influenced album than
G-Force?


Um, I suppose so. London is more freeform.  I think we were probably
listening to a lot more Hip-Hop at that time, so it was a reflection of
what we were involved with, and listening to, and what we had access to.
There were a lot of dance radio and clubs opening up.

G-Force seems to show more of a sense of humor, like a Yin to London's
pessimistic Yang.

 
Well, it's funny when people say that computer based or electronic music
has no soul, or has no character, but the character of however you feel
comes out at that point, and I think, yeah, G-Force, we probably were, I
can't remember specifically, but yeah, we probably were more enthusiastic
about life, or about music or something. and that comes out in certain
ways. It's only later, in hindsight, where you say "Oh, this sounds a
little more uptempo or a little jolly".

I got that impression from the samples on G-Force

Maybe we were having more fun (Laughter). Maybe we weren't and were
trying to.

I have a funny story for you. A friend that I work with here in Los
Angeles, and another girl I work with told me that our friend, Scott, was
from Alaska. One day, I don't know what we were talking about, but she
brought up the fact that Scott was once on the Oprah Winfrey show on a
program about eligible bachelors from Alaska. And while she's talking
about this, I'm thinking about that last track on G-Force, and I tell her
about this, and I wonder aloud whether this could possible be the same
thing. Now Scott has a very recognizable voice, so it would be easy to
tell if he's one of the guys. When I listened to it that night, sure
enough, there he was!


WOW!

So I brought in the CD to work, and in one of the offices with a stereo,
I called in everybody but him, and said "listen to this."


(Laughing) that's good...

And as soon as he comes on, he's at one of the breaks in the song, so the
beat kind of dropped out, and he's the guy that says if "a girl beats
me on the course, that's okay" and you guys loop him saying
"That's okay" over and over..


 ..and that's him? Wow.

People at work were laughing so hard they were crying, and everybody is
amazed at this, and they're all passing the case around asking me all
kinds of questions about you guys. It was something else. When we played
it for him, he was shocked. He had this smile on his face, but you could
see he was bewildered by the whole thing. He was sampled by a band 10,000
miles away, eight years ago. He was amazed by it.

 
Did he get a girl in the end?

I don't think he did. I think he did get a bunch of numbers, but he said
the acutal show itself was too surreal. I think he was on there because
he was a pretty well known DJ in Anchorage.

That's an interesting story because I always think "well, who in the
hell goes on those shows?" Are they all actors or what? Are they real
people?  You have to tell him I said "Thank You" (Laughter)

I will. So now, it seemed that Greater Than One are a good example of
taking the art term "appropriation" and applying it to music.
Was this the case?


Well there was a lot of things that turned me on art-wise, like Dada, and
deconstruction and collage, and I envisioned, .. I mean, I used to work
with tape loops and things and that was before the sampler, and I always
thought, "Wow, wouldn't it be great if you had a machine that could
do this!", and lo and behold the first samplers came along, and I was
one of the first ones in the que to get one because it was precisely what
I had been waiting for. The technology sort of comes along at the right
time. And still, I mainly work with samplers and don't need any sort of
outboard modules or things. I'm just a bit more careful about sampling
things, as compared to Greater Than One, because we really didn't think
that anyone was going to buy it, or have access to it.  We were just
doing what we would naturally be doing at home, like switching channels
or something.  I think the process is still the same now, even though I'm
a little more sensitive,...I still sample lots of stuff I'm just a little
more subtle about it.

You already touched on this a bit, but did you consider yourselves an art
band?

 
The thing is, we were busy at the time we were making those albums, I was
busy working as a commercial artist, saving up money to buy equipment,
and I had trained as a commercial artist, got a degree. Once we had done
a press release that sort of mentioned it, and we got such a backlash
from it, we thought "well, we're not going to mention this
anymore". So I still don't consider myself a musician. And art is a
strange word now. I mean art, god, and love, as words are so overused now.
I'm not sure. I mean, I think about it a lot, like "What the hell am
I? How can I describe it?" It's very difficult. I mean I really don't
consider myself part of any one thing. I'd have to make up a new word for
it.

After that fiasco with the press release, I can just imagine you two
saying, "fine. we don't have to print these things, because our
intentions are laid out on the record anyway. If you don't understand the
record, you won't understand what we write."


Oh yeah. It's like saying you're a comedian, and people expect you to be
funny, so if you're not funny, why call yourself a comedian. It's like
writing down on a piece of paper "this is a joke", and that's
not funny. You have to let the thing speak for itself really.

Tell me about your interest in classical music.

I thought it made a real nice combination. To make strange rhythms out of
classical records, I mean, they lend themselves quite nicely to being
looped, or played or merged with electronic sounds and modern beats. I'm
not a great listener of classical music, I don't sit down and listen to a
CD or anything. But it's all fair game to use. It's totally, I mean, the
people who made that music, and the people that still make that music,
it's a totally different language. I don't read music, I have no musical
training, and their music is black dots on a piece of paper and they
converted that into chords and tempos and things.  And that's a whole
language, that's a language using analogue machines. Using trombones and
violins, and human beings. And the language that I use now, It's not
written down. It's purely on a sequence. That's whats different about it.
It's more intuitive. More controllable, less structure. People might argue
that sampled music, or electronic music is structured, I'd say probably
the opposite. You can do things with sequences and timing and you can
lead these things anywhere.

I loved Trust because those classical samples were so looped and mixed
and thrown on top of each other, you couldn't make out which one was
which, and you guys continued using this influence all the way to the
last Greater Than One recording.

 
Yeah. I still use the classical pieces. I'm working on something right
now with classical samples. It's just not so upfront now.

Let's talk heaviness. I think the heaviest Greater Than One song was
"Dubkiller", and it's amazing how well that song can hold it's
own against stuff that is being released now.

 
I know, I know. A lot of people have, have picked up a lot, an awful lot
on that lately. A lot of people are doing the trip-hop thing now.  I
remember when we made that, we just wanted to make a real, you know,
out-and-out Dubby record. We loved Reggae and we loved Hip-Hop, and we
wanted to make this strange, underwater Dub (laughter). The voices in
that, at the end, are Gilbert and George. 

Would someone be mistaken by labeling some of the Greater Than One output
"Drug Music"?

 
No. I mean, what would you call the Rolling Stones music? That's some
hardcore heroin things. Is that drug music or not?  That's a question,
that...well, you know, even with the music I make now, the techno scene
or the hardcore scene, there is a drug scene connected to the music. It's
incidental, and I never preach about whether people should or shouldn't
take drugs. It's such a personal choice. I don't make any music under the
influence of anything. Maybe a glass of white wine.

When you are making tracks, do you ever think about the state of mind
that some people might be listening to this are in?

 
I do consider that. I do try to get in the heads of some people,
especially now, because there are so many different ways of hearing
music, whether its in a car, or in the home or in a club. It's, uh,
functional music.  It needs to funciton in these ways. Club tracks need
to be able to function in that environment. So you're making
environmental music. If you know these sort of key sounds, these signals
and structures that work best in these situations, then you,.., it's good
to use them.

Do you know how sampled the song "Dubkiller" is?
 
(amazed) No!?

I've heard it on at least three different records.
 
I've lost count of how many other times I've heard our stuff sampled. I
always consider it such a nice complement. The interesting thing is, the
way I'm working now, the way I'm doing things now, it's almost come full
circle. I'm creating music much more in that vein and also DJ-ing and
performing. The work I do under Signs Ov Chaos, it's very much like
Greater Than One. And who knows, at some point I may start working as
Greater Than One again.

Do you find that you can squeeze more of a message in the Dubbier,
Hip-Hop inspired material as opposed to the Gabba and Hardcore you have
recently done?

 
Well, the hardcore/gabba scene, I'm still invloved with it, on the
fringes of it, but I go in and out of these things. I've lost a lot of
interest in it at the moment, because it's sort of,.. it's too much,
there's too much of it. It's become a formula. Once something becomes a
formula, I totally lose interest. At the moment I'm getting much more
into more free-form, experimental, electronic stuff. What I'm trying to
do is combine that with the sensibilities I've learned from making all
different kinds of electronic, sampled music. Trying, somehow, to bring
it all together, make sense of it all.

One of the funniest songs on Index is "We Live For Death Metal."
 
Yeah, that was a quote. We had a guy, and he was a journalist, and he'd
been to see - I'm not quite sure who - but he'd gone to interview this
Death Metal band. And this one guy [in the band] said, with all honesty
and a straight face, he said "We live for death metal!"
(laughter) And we thought that was so hilarious! And the funny thing is
the guy isn't making death metal anymore, so I don't know whether he
killed himself or not (laughter).  It's like someone saying "I'm
hardcore! Hardcore will never die!". Death Metal was supposed to be
so anti-everything, but suddenly it became conservative, with this guy
saying he lives for it. I thought that was so funny. And he said it like
(somber voice) "We live for Death Metal." in his English accent.
It was so funny we had to do a song. On that one, the title came first.
We had to make a Death Metal song.

Did you guys have to go out and buy Death Metal records?
 
Yes! (laughter)

You guys didn't have any around the house?
 
(still laughing) no, we said "c'mon, let's go get some Death Metal!"
(laughs harder)

Do you remember who you sampled?
 
No I don't, actually.

Tell me about your growth as a studio musician working up to the
equipment you use now.

 
Slowly. The first stuff we did we hired the equipment, and as I said, I
was working as a commercial artist under a different name, Tommy Yamaha.
I became quite successful doing that, and made enough money to buy the
equipment.  So we did develop naturally, we never went to the studio and
learned how to work the equipment.  We would just switch it on, and have
a go at it. Throw the manual away and see what it could do. It was very
much a self taught thing. I don't consider myself a professional music
maker, even though I do it everyday. It's very funny. Someone opened the
door and let me in, and hasn't realized it yet.  I'm waiting to be shut
down! (laughter)

Did you guys set foot in a studio for anything on the GTO discography?
 
The only one we did in the studio was "Now Is The Time", which
we had two different versions on the album.  The rougher version is the
home recording and the cleaner version, which is the studio one.  I still
prefer the rougher one because it was a bit more funky. When you go to a
studio and try to recreate something, it just becomes so stiff. It had
that horrible studio sound. It's so sterile. After that, ..Well, the
process of working is something you have to do on your own. We would only
go into a studio to edit something or chop something up if they had a bit
of equipment we hadn't gotten. It's much more comfortable doing it at
home.

What is your favorite Greater Than One record?
 
Hmmm. I suppose London, as an album. Only because it hangs together so
well. It's very much a product of that time. The good thing about working
with Wax Trax was they never got involved in telling us what to do and
what not to do. They would never try to take any control from you.  Wax
Trax gave us complete freedom.

Do you ever listen to the old recordings?
 
No. Not at all. Well, only to play to other people if they haven't heard
it.  Even when I'm DJ ing I never play my own stuff. It's one of those
things that once I've done it, I'm already onto the next thing. I think if
you listen to your old stuff all the time, you try to copy it yourself.
It's nice to start fresh and not even think about the old stuff. At some
point I would like to put out, if anyone was interested, a nice little
selection of old things. It would be really nice, but I don't know if
anyone would even be interested. Whether there's an audience still?

(after imploring him to do so for several minutes)
You know what would be cool? If you took a bunch of the master tapes and
remixed them, and then gave them to other people to remix as well.

 
That would be a lot of fun.  Well, Scanner and I are doing a lot
of things together at the moment. The "Michael Jackson" stuff
was an idea I had, I said "I'll send you a DAT of sounds and you send
me a DAT, and you have to use what I give you and I have to do the
same". And that's how it worked out and we did three tracks each.
I've known Robin for a long, long time. From Greater Than One days.  He
used to buy the stuff and write to us and everything, so that's how we
met, and he was very much interested in art as well. We used to hang out
and go to art galleries and films.  I'm working on a project now, putting
together a compilation called "Sounds From the Electronic Lounge" which
will be out on React. Probably in October, I just finished the track
listing. Some Signs Ov Chaos tracks on it, some Scanner tracks, then some new,
very modern techno, electro-jazz from all around the world.  Panasonic.
I'm starting another thing called Alien Radio. It's gonna be very strange,
experimental noisy music.

When did you guys decide to drop the name and start recording under the
different names?

 
Well, going back to the DJ s , a lot of them, especially English ones,
they couldn't even spell the name Greater Than One! (laughter) This is
not a joke, this is true! So we made it simpler for them. Plus at the
time we were doing a record called Pure, which was very much a club
record. So we thought well, "let's make it simple for these
people". So the whole reason we abbreviated it was for the DJ's.
Well, it also wasn't Greater Than One, it was a different thing.  That
gave us the idea of making different names, the same time we did the
Tricky Disco stuff a different company wanted to release that so we
couldn't do it under the same name.

Making up a new name has to be half the fun..
 
Yeah, because the name then lends itself to the project. Something quite
freaky, quite spacey. That's the beauty of being open enough to try
things.

Well, Michael, I'm sure I've taken up enough of your time here..
 
No, I'm fine. It's really nice to chat about these things. I really
enjoyed it, especially because most people I talk to only want to ask me
about the more successful records or the hardcore records, and there's
not a lot you can say about them really (laughing).  I'm working on a new
Signs Ov Chaos album, I'm working on it today actually. The track I'm
working on today is a nice, strange mixture of ...I don't know what you
could call it!  It's these strange, bleepy noises with some Drum and Bass.
I'm going to put some vocals on it.

My favorite track off of Frankenscience is the fourth track, I can't
remember the title.. The one where the beat keeps starting and stopping
and only plays through about half way into it.

 

I'm very proud of that album. That's a very personal album. I recorded
that very, very soon after Lee died. TO me, it wasn't a conscious
reflection of that, but I think that somehow that comes out.  I really
like that. That's actually something I do listen to.  I'm going to try to
keep the same feel in the new Signs Ov Chaos record.  I'm actually going
to go into the studio to record some vocals, and I'm also working with a
metal guitarist that's been working with all these funky little beats.

You can tell him "We live for death metal!"
 
(laughter) That's right!

You know what I thought worked excellent was on the "Bananana"
single, with the guy chatting lyrics, especially the third track. That is
so hardcore!


Yeah, that worked quite well! The guy who did the vocals, he really liked
that track as well.  He's a dancehall guy, and he heard the track and
said "yeah, wicked, mon."

(on the availibility of old GTO):
 
I was talking to the people at React, and they were thinking that it
might be a good time, maybe early next year, to re-release some stuff as
like a Greater Than One collection.

You should include a fat booklet with all of your artwork in it..
 
..Have live photos and stuff, yeah! That would be really nice. Maybe some
still photos from the perfomances. Some original artwork in it.

At the end I ask him for some photos for the article which he said he
would post to me. Which he did.
Michael Wells was one of the most
gracious interviewees I've had the pleasure to talk to. A class act all
the way.
 


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