Cabaret Voltaire
Thee from the Steel City
Stabmental #3, June/July 1980

by Geff Rushton

This article on Cabaret Voltaire is culled from a couple of phonecalls with Chris Watson of the group. Those unfamiliar with the group should note that they are Chris watson: Electronics, tapes. Mal: Bass, lead vocals: Richard H. Kirk: Guitar, wind instr. They have a new LP out in about a month called 'The Voice of America'. It was originally due out by now, but the group were not happy with the 1st master cut. "We wern't happy because there was a low bass end and, well it wasn't what we wanted it to sound like. So we had it remastered and had the sound compressed. It's a thicker sound now, more fuller. It's like a rich disco record now, the sound quality that is, not the content". The songs on the album are (in order) 'Damage is Done (This is the title of the previously untitled track on the YMCA live album), 'Partially Submerged', 'Kneel to the Boss', 'Premonition' (This is a long track): side two. 'This is Entertainment', 'Stay Out of It', 'Obsession', 'News From Nowhere', 'Messages Received'. ('Stay Out of it' features recording of the sci-fi programme 'Outer Limits').

I asked Chris where the name comes from (Those of you who have read NMX 14 can go and make some tea at this point). "It's from a dream I had in which I was walking past a music shop and I looked inside and it was full of Syndrums, just like Mal had been looking for for ages. So I walked in and there was no-one there, and then suddenly this man walked in carrying an absolutely huge guitar and he walked past me and plugged it in and started thrashing away at it, but instead of playing music it spoke and it said ' have you heard the new Cabaret Voltaire album?' and of course I said 'no' and the guitar said "Oh, it's called The Voice of America". And I then woke up and I keep a little, portable cassette recorder by my bed and so I related my dream into this and then went back to sleep. In the morning I had forgotten all about it, and it was really odd to here me talking about it all, and so the title comes from that. We recorded the Ist side over a period of time, and so chronologicaaly it is older than the 2nd side. The 2nd side was recorded in a mad burst of activity quite recently and is very different to the Ist side."

"What's the cover going to be?"

"Oh! Richard did the cover and it's a mass of pictures, a collage I suppose, It's associated with the title because the pictures are to do with America, a lot of them are anyway, like a negro being crusified and riot police and things. We've also got a picture of Cliff Richard's jacket there to confuse people. It's good because you can look at the cover and think you've seen everything there and then you see something new. And then it's got the title right across the cover in bright pink lettering. It stands out like that."

"What have you got lined up for the future? Are you recording new things at the moment?"

"We havn't been recording at the moment because we're in the middle of a change-round from 4-track to 8-track at the Western Works, infact we sold the old 4-track stuff to Howard Devoto; And we're still waiting to install the new stuff. As you know the W.W. is on the 2nd floor of some Victorian offices and They Must Be Russians used to have their rehersal room opposite ours. And now that they have disbanded we are able to have their room as well. We want to have our room as the control area and use the other as the rehersal and actual recording area. As for recording then we are doing a new single soon. I don't know what the A-side will be, but the B-side is going to be 'Control Addicts', an old 'tune'. We're going to be recording that in a commercial studio with Geoff Travis (of RT). I'm looking forward to that because Geoff is good to work with...we've found that his idea's about producing are a lot like ours and it will be nice in a studio other than WW. It will be very interesting to see what would happen if Geoff came up and recorded at the WW with us because we would be on our own ground then, and we could see what he would do with our stuff! We're also thinking about doing another experimental LP like the 'Three Mantras' thing. We are thinking about doing one on which we would each contribute a third of the material, solo. That is quite a good idea."

"Are you gigging at the moment;?"

"Oh yeah, That's one thing I was going to tell you. We're doing a benifit gig at and for a place called The Lead Mill, it's a venue that has just opened. And what we're doing is we are doing a set and for that night Cabaret Voltaire will be a 5 piece"

"Who are the other two?"

"Er.. We're going to have Hadyn on drums (A member of 2.3 and the drummer on some of the tracks on 'Mix-Up') and John Clayton on bass (John contributed to the Three mantras LP). It will be interesting because there will be two bass players as well. It's the last time that we are going to perform the Western Mantra live. I would like to be able to have the means of video recording the thing because it is a sort of thing I would like to have a memory of. I don't suppose it will be enough to just record the sound."

"What about the Industrial cassette that you mentioned sometime before?"

"We havn't really heard much about that. I think that we are still going to do that. It will be old, unreleased material. I suppose all we have to do reallt is decided what to put on and then send the master tape down to Gen. He will do the rest. I'm not sure what he's said about that recently."

Talk then drifted from subject and onto Joy Division and the death of Ian Curtis, who was with the rest of the group good friends with cabaret Voltaire. Chris told me the sad fact that Cabaret Voltaire were the only people present at Ian's funeral other than the rest of Joy Division and family. Chris mentioned that they had been approached by a bloke in Belgium, called Michel, who owns a club called 'Plan-K' in Brussels, in order to do a single for him on a basis of something like the Sordide Sentimental singles. But they haven't heard anything since. Also planned is a short tour of Europe, not so much of a tour, asplaying selected dates in foreign places. Holland and Belgium mainly I think.

Digital assistance and credit: Simon Dell

© Stabmental, 1980