Telephone Interview with Raymond Watts - 5/15/97

Raymond: How do you think that "Sinsation", "Wrecked", & "Prime Evil" fit together as albums?

Jester: All three sit together really well. They definitely stand apart from your older material with their consistent guitar work, densely packed sound and an up-tempo feel.

Raymond: I kind of wanted to make them different. The style of music that I used on older albums like "Praise The Lard" was something that I thought I had taken just about as far as it could go with that kind of eclectic sound. All of those albums were originally done on a shoestring budget with only twelve inputs of broken mixing board. Yet the equipment did not stop me from starting with a blues sound on one track, to a kind of orchestral thing, to a more guitary, industrial thing. So with the new material it seemed that working in those divergent styles had been done to death and I wanted to try and better myself. With "Sinsation" it was nice to bring all of my writing styles down into a common denomination. Of course, I don't mean that in any negative way. I just wanted to make an album that people could really grasp without making it too diverse. So even though there are a few ambient type tracks on that album, they still fit together under one umbrella when compared to previous material.

Jester: The thing I noticed was that on the older albums you choose to use multiple elements on a single track, whereas on the new material you were more likely to use single elements in a track.

Raymond: One of the things about "Praise The Lard" was that there were so many things going on in each track. I even had people come up to me and ask why I wrote the equivalent of 3-4 entire songs within the context of a different track. Those albums used to be quite hard for people to listen to sometimes. I don't want to sound overblown and pompous, but those albums were rather densely packed. So with the new material I decided to go with a single element per track. Although I don't know how well it has worked. For example, do you think that I've succeeded on "Prime Evil"?

Jester: Yes. I really liked the way that you used the ultra low bass elements on the title track. I also enjoyed the cover of the Black Sabbath track.

Raymond: What did you think about the remixes on that EP? I think sometimes that it proves to be quite difficult to find remixes that fit next to the original material, and I am curious how well they sound together.

Jester: I enjoy remixes that are diverse and radically different from the original track. A lot of the remixes on "Prime Evil" were extremely different. The most obvious exampled was the Ken Ishii remix of 'Wrecked' where he stripped down the track to it's basic elements, and started adding new material so that it sounds almost like a brand new track.

Raymond: I really like that de-constructive type of remix as well for much the same reasons that most remixes don't really sound all that much different from the original. So do you think that I should try and release "Wrecked" & "Prime Evil" in the states?

Jester: Yes. I spend a lot of time on-line and there is a rather large contingent of people who are frustrated that they can only find your material via import at some pretty insane prices. They would really love to be able to get the albums at domestic prices if you can find a label to work with.

Raymond: Well, we just had a blowout with Cleopatra Records about their reissue of "Praise The Lard". They bought the rights for the album off a company in London which didn't even own the rights anymore. The whole thing is becoming a real problem. I know there are people who want to get a hold of the album because it is impossible to find. I do want to re-released it, but I want to polish it up, give it some new artwork, and remaster it. Then some label comes out and purchases some stolen goods which they then proceed to sell as the real thing. The whole thing is going to be a real problem because now I am going to have to get lawyers involved if I want to get the album pulled before it reaches to much of the US market.

Jester: Well, they did cut two tracks off the album. They cut 'Infinite Shame', and 'Sick City' of the re-release.

Raymond: Did they? I didn't even know anything about that. I was just really staggered to hear that someone was releasing it who really didn't own the rights. Originally the album was released through Concrete Productions. When the label folded the label returned me the rights for "Praise The Lard", and "A Stroll in the Pork" as payment for some outstanding royalties. He even went out of his way to make the rights exchange all legal. Then he sold off the company minus the Pig material to a new firm who went right around and illegally sold the rights to "Praise The Lard" to Cleopatra Records. Actually, I have no idea where they got the master tapes from, they probably cut the reissue right from the original CD pressing. So it's all rather disturbing, distasteful and a bit of a shame.

Jester: Is that going to be putting a damper on releasing that album yourself in the US?

Raymond: It has effectively taken the wind of of the sails if I were to go and do a legitimate release of "Praise The Lard". Cleopatra has even licensed the stolen material to a label in Japan who are now selling non-official versions as well.

Jester: Do you think that you can license domestic version of the new material via Nothing Records?

Raymond: While it was really good that they picked up on "Sinsation", I think there was a general feel that they are really busy working with some of the larger acts on the label. So because I spend some much time working on material on my own, I think we decided that it wasn't going to work out to do any more releases with them in the future. Mostly it was because they were too busy with other artists and I expected a little bit more feedback from a label on which I was signed. So we really have parted ways, but very amicably. I am talking to some other labels in hopes that they will be able to release "Wrecked" and "Prime Evil" in the US. When I do reissue the albums, I am going to put on a few new tracks, remix a few tracks and remaster it so that it is slightly different from the import version.

Jester: Why do you have so many releases on Japanese labels? Do you have a large fan base in Japan for your music?

Raymond: I've always had this connection with Japan. I first went over there in 1981 to tour with this funny little band for about five months. I basically made a lot of friends and contacts during that tour. So when I returned to Japan in the late eighties, I contacted a few people but I left really quick because the dirge metal thing going on at the time wasn't something I was interested in. I ended up gravitating to Germany and I started working with some more experimental bands. I did sound for Einstruzende Neubauten and even I joined a German new wave band for a few tours. When I finally left Berlin in 1990 I was helping a friend of mine produce a few pop records for a band called Hit Parade. Somehow he had a contact with a Japanese label to release his music in Japan. So when he went out to promote his band on tour, I came along to help out with the live show and ended up rekindling old acquaintances in Japan. I hooked with my first friend in Tokyo, Yoshi Hoshina, who was sort a journalist when I first met him, but who is now my manager. So in 1990-91 when we met up again, he had become interested in my music and got in contact with a A&R guy at Alfa Entertainment. So I released "The Swining", and "Red, Raw & Sore", through Alfa, and when the when the A&R moved to Victor, I moved with him and we have just continued the relationship. As for my fans in Japan, I think a lot of people have the wrong idea that all of the music there is marketed towards the domestic idol market. In fact there is a very strong element, where they support more of the left field type of music like my own. Bands like the Boredoms, who share the same management firm as myself, do really well in Japan. The relationship has worked very well since the beginning. We both trust each other very well. I also kind of like the idea of living here and having the label exist over in Japan.

Jester: Do you live in London now? Do you have a studio there?

Raymond: Yes, I am speaking to you from my studio right now.

Jester: Are you in the middle of recording new material right now?

Raymond: I am in the middle of working on a single that will appear later in the year. I am working with Imai Hisashi and Sakarai Atatushi. Imai is a guy I played with in Schaft a few years ago. Atatushi is the lead vocalist in Imai's primary project Bucktick. So far, I've tracked most of the single in London, and then I was just in Yokohama where I recorded most of it with those guys. I am working on a few remixes for the single, and may incorporate portions of the single on the domestic release of "Wrecked". I was also in Seattle about a month ago where I recorded vocals for two tracks off the upcoming KMFDM Albu.

Jester: Did you hear about Sascha losing most of his work on the new album due to a hardware problem?

Raymond: Yes, I spoke to him two nights ago. He told me about losing all of the final mixes. I think they are going to start reworking it. For the two tracks I worked on, he still has most of the original material. I do hope that they eventually see the light of day because I think those tracks sounds really good.

Jester: Are we going to see a Pig tour in the US any time in the future?

Raymond: I sincerely hope so. However, like I said, we are working on licensing for "Wrecked" and until we get release dates for that we can't actually make concrete plans for touring. It does seem like a few people want us to tour. I do think we missed the boat by not touring for the domestic release of "Sinsation", so we are just going to have wait until "Wrecked" is released. We did do a show in London and a couple of shows on Tokyo a few weeks ago. It was great to play with what is effectively a brand new band. The last time I really toured was when we opened for Nine Inch Nails years ago. Then I was doing the KMFDM tour, the Schaft project, etc, etc. So a lot of water has gone under the bridge since the last live Pig incarnation. So with this new band we performed stuff off the last two albums with is stuff that has never before been performed live.

Jester: Who are the other members of the live band?

Raymond: The main studio guy is Steve White. He has been sharing guitar and programming duties since "Sinsation". When we play live we add live drums, a girl playing bass, and another guitar player and I do a little bit of noise on guitar. We also have an eight track playing all of the orchestral and sequenced material in the background.

Jester: Do you have any type of visuals on-stage?

Raymond: We used to have pig's head on stakes and chains all swinging around but we have junked that now. Now there is just a band on-stage and we are not using any type of props or projections. The live setup is very raw now.

Jester: When did you first decide to incorporate some of those orchestral/big-band types sounds into your music? Who would you consider your primary influence for those musical elements?

Raymond: I thought that Barry Adamson was the guy who gave me the idea. I always had a tremendous amount of respect that goes all the way back to when he used to play bass in Magazine. The concept of constructing sounds from found sources has been a little bit more interesting to me than sitting down with a guitar and writing a 3.5 minute perfect song. I think people have done that type of thing really well in the past so that type of things doesn't interest me. So the idea of finding bits of speeches by Herman Goehring that we used on the first KMFDM album, or bit of shortwave radio, and other things that just float through the air has always appealed to me. You literally turn on your radio and spin the dial and all those things are present for the taking. The whole way of constructing things with themes I find very challenging as opposed to sampling drum loops. I always liked sampling strange sounds and try to collide them altogether to see if you could get them to sound good together.

Jester: Your lyrics sound of have a very depraved and sick nature to them at times. Where do you get the ideas form your lyrics?

Raymond: I think a lot of it comes from tabloidese. You don't have to reach very far for inspiration. One of things I like about the US is that you can turn on the television and watch shopping and psychic channels. You might think that is very normal, but to me I find that totally amazing and inspiring. For example, people made a big stink about the 39 people who committed mass suicide in the UFO cult. People were so shocked to realize that that kind of thing could happen in their society, when in reality it is no different than than so called psychics trying to sell you fame and fortune on the television. I kind of get a lot of material from very day to day sources. The title for the EP "Red, Raw, & Sore" was taken from a tabloid headline. As you can see I really don't have to expend any great amount of effort for my lyrics to catalyze themselves and take off on their own. Needless to say, there is also an internal dialogue that also plays a roles in some of my lyrics as well.

Jester: For whatever reason, the pig as an animal seems to crop up in many album titles, song title, band names in this genre of music. Why did you choose the name 'Pig' as the title of your project?

Raymond: It's weird how popular it is in music. I was really freaked out when the band Pigface appeared. To be perfectly honest, I like the sound of it. It is short, it consists of three letters, and it is very bold. You could also kind of say that the pig is one of the most misinterpreted animals. It is a kind of animal that is very badly represent who is reality is nothing like the stereotypes associated with him. The connotation has always been negative. A derogatory word for a police officer is a pig, a male chauvinist pig supposedly smells like a pig. When in reality, Pigs are smarter than dogs and are closer to humans anatomically than most other mammals. There is something about it being an animal that is unfairly portrayed. I kind of sympathize with that,

Jester: Some of your older material, particularly on the track 'Peoria', you do some spoken word type stuff rather than singing. Would you like to do more of that in the future?

Raymond: Have you heard, "The Swining"? That album has a spoken word piece on it called, 'Ojo por Ojo' which is Spanish for 'An Eyes for An Eye'. Also, my old girl-friend Anna Wildsmith, I write an album for a project of hers called Sow on which I believe Jim Thirlwell wrote one of the tracks as well. We are just doing another album at the moment. So I am involved in that and she does spoken word. The music is very Pigish, but her vocals are more like a cross between Diamandas Galas and Lydia Lunch. So I don't really feel the urge to do that sort of thing on my own anymore. For this album I am not writing all of the music. Gunter from KMFDM is writing one, Martin from Test Dept is writing another, Hoppy Kamiyama from PUGS will be collaborating with Anna on a few tracks, Sascha might write a track if he has time, and Euphonic, who have remixed my material, will be doing one as well. So, there will be a real variety of artists who are contributing to this album. I will also be doing some of the vocals, most of the mixing, and help out with everything else. The album will probably be released on the new Japanese label Noiseworks, which a subsidiary of Blue Noise, later this year.

Jester: Why did you choose to cover the Black Sabbath song, 'War Pigs'?

Raymond: It was as simple as the obviousness of the title. When I saw the title, I could not resist doing a cover just for the hell of it. If you listen to the lyrics, they are so dreadful that it was begging to be covered.

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