Photo by: GOD Photography
(This interview was originally published in November 2018)
I had an introduction for this interview and I can't remember what I said haha. So I am sorry about that! But what I can say, is I had the honor of interviewing Andi Sex Gang. I never would have thought I would grow up and be able to interview Andi and all the bands I loved as a wee one. Andi, is raw, real, genuine and has brought the world music for years with his band Sex Gang Children, and his solo work Andi Sex Gang! So thank you for continuing to make art and music, and without anymore of my sentimental ramblings - I give you Andi Sex Gang's interview. Get a drink, get a snack, eat your meal, or whatever and enjoy.
What is your writing process like? You’ve inspired so many other musicians, and so many people are curious if you have a certain way or process?
Generally the songs come to me as a whole piece, sometimes with all the instrument parts and production values all at once. Sometimes, the instrument parts come after the initial melodic piece. It's never the same. It depends where I am in my state of being an inspirational energy. I tend to write better when I'm on the move. My physical surroundings will often have an effect on my creative process. I am strongly sensitive to the energy of my surroundings. And sometimes, not too often, I will pick up an instrument and just play, but when I do, a song or musical backdrop for spoken word will come to me. It's all fluid. Of course, when it comes to finalising these songs/musical pieces into an album, a conceptual piece, then a routine and disciplined system kicks into place. You just got to find and feel your way around what works best for you. It's never 9 to 5, it's 24/7.
Tell us about your squatter days? My father told me about how it was back in the day before the post-punk started in Manchester. It’s not what people think, it wasn’t a way to look “cool.” And sadly people think it’s cool to be a squatter and that’s not what it’s about.
Post-punk started in Manchester? I am not so sure about that. Joy Division absolutely. But let's not forget the Banshees, Wire and Bauhaus (from the South, same time period and totally arthouse post-punk). Your father is right about squatting back then. It was, generally, very organised and protected by an old medieval legal charter. The squatting group I was involved in were selfless and fearless when it came to protecting the rights of and helping homeless people. I cannot say the same for some of the other groups who were rich kids playing at being 'revolutionaries' until they got bored and got a job in their father's bank or some other big corporation. We however, were the real deal. For us squatting involved a whole spectrum of activity not just to do with squatting. For example, supporting underpaid workers in their struggle to form a union. Protecting Asian shopkeepers from Neo-Nazi attacks, especially in East London. Providing shelter and protection for battered women who needed to leave their abusive partners. Getting rid of the local heroin dealers. And stopping the police from battering prisoners to death in the local police station, which by the way had one of the highest rates of prisoner deaths in London. We put a stop to that. Our methods were most definitely not legal, but neither were their actions and they had to be stopped. But these were by-products of our affect within the local community in Battersea. Our main objective was to help homeless people get somewhere to live and get them back on their feet. And that meant putting them into places that had been left empty for no good reason and helping and protecting them afterwards. And that is what real squatting was all about.
This may seem like a silly question; but is “Sebastiane“ a political and anti-religious song? Like an anthem? It’s an anthem to me, speaking the truth on politics and religion.
Not a silly question, you're absolutely right. It is an intensely anti-religious and politically conscious song. I usually endeavor to drape my lyrics with a veil of ambiguity, as I believe it important to allow the listener to discover their own interpretation. However, 'Sebastiane' is and had to be less ambiguous. By the way, if my memory's correct, you're the first person to date that I know of that has understood the song for what it really is.
Everyone knows you played at “Batcave.” But did you ever play at “Electric circus”,
“Cloud 9”, “Legends”, “Devilles” or any other goth clubs that formed then?
We played one secret show at The Batcave Club as a warm up for a main London show. They had kept asking us to play the club and we eventually agreed. Legends? I do believe we did an early show there as Panic Button towards the end of 1981 just before we changed the name to Sex Gang Children.
I hear you're “Oh Funny Man”, do you have any jokes you’d be willing to share? Or would you like to tell us what is behind that song?
'Oh Funny Man' was actually inspired by Charlie Chaplin, but of course, not just 'about him'. I use words as a painter uses certain colours. And Chaplins' persona and spirit was the colour I used as a backdrop for those particular lyrics. And of course, the story can go anywhere from there. Jokes? Try this...A skeleton walks into a bar and orders a beer and a mop.
Meanwhile, at another table two cannibals are chewing on a clown, one says to the other "Does this taste funny to you?"
I would like to know about your album “Naked?” What’s behind that album?
'Naked' was recorded at the Clarendon in West London, early 1982. We wanted our first release to be on our own label, a reflection of our DIY attitude at that point in time. The Clarendon was the only place we could play in this period. No other clubs would put us on with our style of music and our name. The Clarendon showed faith in us and we wanted to record our time there for posterity's sake. The show was recorded by Hugh Griffith, who later worked with us on the album 'Medea'.
My Papa says there are many bands/songs that were only played once or twice, that were never recorded back in the 80s, did you do this? If so do you remember how any of them went?
I'm not sure I fully understand your question (lost in translation?). If you mean did I ever come across bands that should have gotten better exposure, then yes I did. One band especially comes to mind, 'Junta'. They supported us at the Jockey Club in Newport, Kentucky, 1983. I would describe them as avant-garde in the true sense. Their music and style was both strong and unique. Terry (MacLeay) and I both, were duly impressed and we wanted to help them get exposure elsewhere. They gave us a cassette of their songs which I took back to London in order to get them an agent, a record deal, management, anything that would get them off the starting block. Unfortunately, those assholes in the UK music industry just couldn't see it. They were just plain lazy and lacking vision. Made me frustrated and angry, but I used those emotions to realise, even more, the importance of self dependency, for all artists.
Photos by GOD Photography
A few years ago you were interviewed by a friend of mine Dj Hex (Kris Prudehome), and here I am today interviewing you. I actually have a question for you. In 2014 when that interview took place, I was the fan that asked you about a favorite book, you stated it was George Orwell’s “1984.” That too is one of my top favorites. Have you ever seen a theatrical production of 1984?
And what a great book it is! One of the best ever written as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, I have never seen a theatrical version of that book. Only viewed some of the early British TV productions with Peter Cushing and the movie with John Hurt and Richard Burton years later. However, I still think the book was never fully realised in these interpretations, good as they were. Orwell's 1984 is even more poignant and relevant today than ever before.
You’ve been selling some of your paintings? Can you show us the latest?
Link to Andi's art: https://www.sexgangchildren.com/andi_sex_gang_original_art.html
Photo by GOD Photography
Tell us about “Liberation London’s” new projects.
My new music project Dada Degas. Out soon!
Can you tell me about your Dracula audiobook, and do you have any plans for other audiobook projects?
I was commissioned to do that particular project and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. An absolutely fabulous challenge. I decided immediately that the book needed some serious editing. So I chose the historic reading room at the British Museum as the place to do it, the very same place where Bram Stoker researched all the material for the book itself. The grandiose circular reading room is steeped in atmosphere and was a great source of inspiration. The editing itself meant re-arranging some passages in order to create a new flow. You can't just hack away at a written piece without giving it a new sense of drama and build. The strongest theme I felt from the book itself was the sense of impending doom that the hapless character Jonathan Harker is unwittingly drawn towards. However, I felt the book never captured that tension effectively. For example, when Dracula was first performed as a theatre production and directed by Bram Stoker at London's Lyceum Theatre, the book was played out in its entirety, word for word, and lasted almost six hours. It was too much! The play closed after only three or four performances. Hence the need for some drastic edits and re-arrangement. Next phase was to create the incidental 'background' music, which of course for me meant I was back on home territory and I approached the music and soundscapes with my usual sense of freedom. All in all it was a labour of love for me and the first time I had ever undertaken such a project. A Herculean task indeed, especially due to my lack of experience in such projects. But as a child I remember seeing Todd Brownian's Dracula movie with Bela Lugosi and was immediately smitten. So I had to do it. Dracula is such a sad and tragic figure. A man compelled to live through the ages, alone, out of his time. No longer a leader of men, but a victim of circumstance. Yes indeed, I plan to do more audiobooks. They offer a different challenge and freedom than my song and spoken word albums. But hey, it's all theatre. And I'm good with that.
What is Dada Degas and how is it different from your usual solo work?
Dada Degas is my new music/art project. Time for another personality to come into the frame. Something fresh, a new identity with a new perspective. It opens up so many new avenues. I can do the unexpected with a greater capacity than before. A different mindset to create music that can offer other frequencies. It's all about re-inventing oneself. To expand outside of all things Sex Gang.
Photo by GOD Photography
Does Sex Gang Children have a DVD collection of videos? Seriously, It's sooo hard to find good videos of them on YouTube. -Jesse N.
Hello Jesse. There was a bonus DVD with the ASG Best Of Collection, Perception In The Heart Of Darkness, released in 2007, but that sold out and is now hard to come by. However, they were only ASG single promo videos. There are most definitely plans in the near future to release a complete DVD set.
Are you writing again with Terry and Rob? -Andi L.
Hello Andi. It's a possibility. By the way, good questions you sent for our last interview.
I would like to know how the audience has changed since the 80s. In regards to sound and aesthetic, do you find that there is some pandering to a modern scene or do you simply fit the part by default? -Jöl L.
Hello Jol. I have no idea, but I think artists should be driven solely by their art and where it takes them is a matter of course, nothing else. Think too much about your place in the greater scheme of things and you are in danger of losing track of the true objective. As for the audience, I would say that people are basically the same in every generation. Each with their own reasons as to why they might like or follow an artist, a band or even a brand. The reasons stay the same. With SGC or ASG, there has never been a conscious effort to try and fit in or 'move with the times'. It's always been about expressing our gut emotions at any given time.
Hi Andi! What do you remember of your experience with Piero Balleggi and Dirty Roseanne? -Stephanie L.
Hi Stephanie. It was an easy going experience working with Piero. Dirty Roseanne was a good outlet for us both. A vehicle where we could express in a totally different way than most people who knew our respective previous works, would have expected from us. Music should relay all kinds of expression. We were both on totally on the same page with those songs.
Photo by GOD Photography
Links to Andi Sex Gang & Sex Gang Children
Sex Gang Children Website: https://www.sexgangchildren.com/
Sex Gang Children Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SexGangChildrenOfficial/
Sex Gang Children Insagram: https://www.instagram.com/sex_gang_children_official/?hl=en
Andi Sex Gang Website: http://www.andisexgang.com/
Andi Sex Gang Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andisexgangofficial
Andi Sex Gang Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andi_sex_gang_official/?hl=en
Liberation London Bandcamp (has all SGC and Andi music): https://liberationlondon.bandcamp.com/