Recoil aka Alan Wilder – "On hold for the time being"21.03.2004
What happened to Alan Wilder? This must have been one of the must asked questions that the Side-Line staff received in the past three years and for sure one of the most asked on the multiple Depeche Mode forums around. Since Wilder aka Recoil released “Liquid”, a delicious feast for those who go for well sought after and elected sounds and top notch production, it became rather silent around the ex-Depeche Mode genius. His name popped up quite a few times when Depeche Mode released a new album just to indicate that “Alan would have done it way better”. Even Dave Gahan openly admitted that the band never had succeeded in replacing the 4th member who took off to head for other horizons in 1995. With the additional production of Alan Wilder on Paul Kendall’s recently released “Capture” album (namely on the track “Coma Idyllique”, see our interview with Paul Kendall) out on 0101 records under the name of The Digital Intervention we hailed Sussex to find Alan Wilder ready to do an exclusive full interview with Side-Line. After 3 years of complete silence, here’s Alan Wilder! Do notice that this online interview is completely different to the one printed in Side-Line issue 46, which you can purchase in our online shop. Be sure to visit Shunt, the official Recoil website. (By Bernard Van Isacker)
SL: How is the family Wilder doing?
AW: Stan is 2, he's a proper boy - loves cars, football, builds things. Paris is 8 and is the opposite of Stan, not surprisingly. She's just started at a new school and is very busy learning piano, riding and so on. They are both adorable - but I would say that wouldn't I?
SL: What have you been doing in these past couple of years of silence? I don't expect you have started taking up gardening?
AW: I've been enjoying all the things I never seemed to have time for when I was in the studio. They include travelling (around Europe), re-kindling relationships with other members of the Wilder family (my brother Stephen in particular), spending time with my kids and helping with their upbringing, spending time with Hep and taking her out occasionally :-), building a new glass courtyard, entertaining friends, playing tennis, walking, watching cricket, decorating, and drinking Campari while enjoying the best English summer we've had for a century.
SL: You don't release new music, but what I was wondering is if that also means you don't play either. Do you actually do some stuff for fun in the studio or is it a toy that is at the moment hidden in the attic?
AW: I don't use the studio for any other reasons but I do play the piano and drums at home quite often. I'm lucky enough to have two grand pianos - one in my bedroom and one in the main reception area of our house. When we have family or large gatherings, invariably, it ends around the piano for a sing song.
SL: As I understood from some of your most recent comments, your relation with Mute is somewhat troubled? Did the lack of promotion leave such a harsh feeling?
AW: For me, writing and producing albums is an intense experience, something I have to put every ounce of thought and creativity I have into. I'm a perfectionist and that tends to make each project that little bit harder - you feel you must improve upon what you've done in the past. Making 'Liquid' was probably the most grueling time I've ever spent in the studio. I was encamped there for sometimes 20 hours a day, for a year or so. Naturally, the rest of your life suffers as a result.
Frankly, I found it quite demoralising when the record was eventually released to find that certain marketing promises were broken (for example, an independent internet campaign was shelved) and CDs weren't available in even the most major record shops in the major cities during the weeks following the release, and this, despite picking up some promising radio play. For any artist, having people write or 'phone in asking why they can't find the product is THE single most frustrating thing.
The problem is that I find it impossible to make music in any other way and, even though shifting units is not necessarily the main reason for producing records, I'm just not prepared, at this time, to shut myself away for another year making another record that people won't get to hear. Not whilst I have young children that I wish to see grow up. I want to enjoy my kids and I want to be there for them when they need their father most. This is the reason I waited until I'd finished touring before having any children in the first place.
Having been involved in making albums for well over 20 years now, I just feel that at this time, I need to step back from it all and devote my time to some other things. I hope the fans will understand this.
SL: Which reminds me, the production you did on some Curve tracks in the end wasn't released, did you ever get a satisfactory explanation for this?
AW: Not really but so what. I guess Toni and Dean just saw it as 'work in progress' and it obviously didn't suit their needs in the final equation. Their loss though (laughs).
SL: Do you think that if a new Recoil album would be recorded, it could still be released on Mute or is that no longer an obvious choice?
AW: I would like to think so. Having said what I have about being let down, I can appreciate how difficult it must be, especially in today's 'Pop Idol' climate, to expose more thoughtful, challenging music. Distribution seems to be a real problem. There are very few outlets for the avant garde and I'm not the only artist who suffers because of this.
SL: Nitzer Ebb are no longer on speaking terms with Mute or Daniel Miller, do you feel that the atmosphere changed (to the worse?) since EMI has taken over Mute. Some people even told me that Daniel is completely out of the game and only interested in his own new label he recently founded, namely Credible Sexy Units.
AW: I can't speak for Nitzer Ebb and I can't really comment on how things have changed at Mute since the take-over. I know that one or two good allies have left the company but I haven't had a lot of contact with Mute over the last 2 years as I haven't been musically active.
SL: Nevertheless critics have already argued that Mute has been neglecting its latest output, poorly mastered DM singles DVD, poorly edited 101 DVD,... which leaves the impression that they are milking the Mute cow at the EMI offices.
AW: These kinds of problems are nothing new - it's just down to incompetence rather than any change in attitude.
SL: As far as the internet goes, Shunt has taken quite a nap, it surprises me that you didn't start a monthly column or so... What kind of an internet user are you actually?
AW: Not a lot to talk about right now. As far as internet goes, I rarely surf for the hell of it. I tend to use the net when I need something - air flights, banking, supermarket shopping. Very boring I know but, believe it or not, I don't have the time for much else. I'm actually very busy!
SL: Do you in fact think that you'll ever start taking up production again for a band like you once did with Nitzer Ebb?
AW: I'm unlikely to take on a production job for an unknown artist, for similar reasons as I've mentioned. I never say never and if something came along that was just too exciting to pass by, then maybe, but don't hold your breath.
SL: What does Recoil stand for anno 2003/2004 ? What does it mean to you now, today?
AW: I'm not down on the project itself. Since it's so open-ended, it could go anywhere musically. Reaction and reviews have generally been good, certainly since 'Unsound Methods' and, as I've said, sales are not what it's all about. The project is just on hold for the time being.
SL: I remember that Dave solicited openly for your production skills for his solo album. Hearing the album, I think I understand why you didn't do it... care for any comment?
AW: I'm not aware actually that Dave was after any of my so-called production skills. As you know, I try not to comment too specifically on the newer works of DM but I'm pleased for David. I'm sure it feels mighty fulfilling to have got some of his own writing off his chest and it's indicative of his state of mind that he got it done and is out on the road, which he clearly loves. I went to see him play in London recently and enjoyed it. It was good to see him afterwards and catch up with a lot of people I hadn't seen for a while. I also met his partner in crime, Knox, who seems like a nice chap.
SL: What's on your cd-player lately?
AW: Robert Wyatt, “Kill Bill” soundtrack, Unkle, Elbow. I was mainly disappointed with “Tour De France” by Kraftwerk. I can't get as excited by a Kraftwerk release these days as I used to. I just can't imagine them being groundbreaking anymore. Perhaps that's just far too high an expectation.
To read the complete interview, be sure to buy Side-Line issue 46!