Unhip 1999

The cover star of issue #1, Raymond Watts - the self-styled 'Lord Of Lard', set the ball rolling as far as fashionably UNHIP was concerned. No Raymond, no Zine - it really was that simple, arguably making all of this his fault. Still, nobody's perfect. Anyways, for your reading pleasure, here is the full interview, originally conducted early in 1999...

As a founder member of KMFDM and a former sound engineer for Einsturzende Neubauten, Raymond Watts should know his stuff. After leaving KMFDM to form PIG circa 1989, he has since found time to work with Foetus on his Steroid Maximus project, Anna Wildsmith's SOW, as well as hooking up with KMFDM again for several guest appearances, most notably on the song 'Juke-Joint Jezebel' which made it's way onto the soundtracks for both 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Bad Boys'. With PIG releases enjoying a quality that brings new meaning to the term 'scare', chances are you may have encountered PIG live supporting Nine Inch Nails on their 'Downward Spiral' tour, or more recently supporting KMFDM. It's a couple of days before I'm due to interview Raymond and it turns out he's not a happy man - having agreed to play as PIG at the 'Slayed In Britain' event for RRN (the Rock Radio Network - now known as Total Rock) alongside Pulkas, Napalm Death and more, Raymond is considerably unimpressed at the way that the promoters have failed to promote the gig. Catching up with the porky prime mover after a short, but stormingly awesome, live set, we retire to his home studio - Ranch Apocalypse - and it's here, under the glare of a recently acquired giant neon crucifix that Raymond talks. A lot. And fashionably UNHIP tries to get a word in edgeways...

UH: So Raymond, how do you think today's gone?

RW: The organization has kind of reinforced my kind of opinion that doing stuff with or within the environs of this country really gives me... I mean, that's why I left the country for six years and why I don't work with English record labels or have anything to do with this set up here and I don't want to. And this has reinforced my opinion that things here can be incredibly, incredibly flaky. Having been used to working with projects like Schaft in Japan, or even KMFDM, everything's run like a military operation. And you know, English people sneer at that, but at the same time you can goof off outside the realms of that particular project you're working on, but when you're in it, you fucking do it 110% and there's no flakiness to it. And that's one thing I've always insisted on with my band for example. For a start, this isn't a democracy, this isn't some little thing, you're doing this and this is the train, and the train's moving in this direction and that reinforces the kind of drive behind what PIG was. I've never been a songwriter or ever wanted to front a band, that was never part of my dream at all. I started off as a bass player when I was 17 in some silly fucking neo-punk New Wave band just because it was the only coat tail I could grab onto to get away from.... you know, I come from suburbia which is just like a fucking neverland of nothingness, all you want to do until you're 16 is escape, and in the late 70's the only vehicle - there wasn't an Internet, there wasn't loads of magazines, there weren't loads of TV channels, there was like three channels that closed down at midnight - and there was the NME and Melody Maker and suburbia that went on forever, and all I wanted to do was escape. You don't know why you're going there, but you just want to get out of it. And then I sort of started working in music and I ended up being a kind of engineer and producing stuff, and I would usually just end up thinking that this was complete rubbish and you're completely hopeless, and I'm sure that it should be done like this, and that was the motivation for it and it always has been, and that's kind of bringing it back to your question about what I think about this event.. I think it's quite a fun little thing, but I mean potentially we've got quite a few websites and they cross-reference to KMFDM, Cleopatra, Pigface, Invisible and Nothing, so there's an exponential curve of interest that you can generate and so I felt potentially it would have been a good thing to get on that train and ride it, and I picked up the ball and tried to run with it. And then the Internet Provider we were gonna use at the time wanted more money and nobody else, none of the other 13 bands that were on this event, wanted to invest anything and I'm saying that if every band member puts in £10 then we can really make this run.

UH: It's ironic that in a way, you're the most successful band on the bill...

RW: No we're not. Napalm Death are in terms of sales, nobody knows who we are in this country.

UH: I heard that you'd sold about 2 million records in total...

RW: Well, with KMFDM we sold like 1.8 million on 'Mortal Kombat' and stuff, and Schaft sold about 10,000, but PIG has always been... I don't know... 'Sinsation' and 'Wrecked' have probably done 25,000 each in the States, which is very small cheese, but to be in this country, it's just not really worth getting involved in it. I don't have, and don't want, anything to do with this genre, there are no genres here that I feel attracted to. Well, there are, but I can't stand working with these sort of people. I've never had a written contract in my life with my management and my labels, and I've always kept my side of the bargain and they've kept theirs, it's been a kind of honourable thing, yet here people want to wade through a 70 page fucking contract with fucking gobbledegook, and it's all for piss-pot shitty nothing. I have a kind of thing where I go to Tokyo and we agree something and we have a glass of sake and we shake hands and we make it work, and it works. You know, we say we're gonna do a tour, we say we're gonna do a project like Schaft, we do it. We might resurrect something like that later this year.

UH: So, tell us about Schaft then?

RW: It's basically me and two Japanese guys who come from bands that are a completely different area, but they wanted to do something different, and I thought it would be quite interesting, just culturally, to work with. They're pretty succesful over there, Hisashi, the guitarist from Schaft, he's sold like 500, 000 records and shit, so he's the main man who writes the songs, so when we got together to do an album and EP, it was of vague interest to people. But I do believe in that thing of going off and doing different things with different people.

UH: Ok, so you've worked with Foetus, KMFDM, Schaft, SOW - is there anyone you haven't worked with or anyone, more specifically, that you'd like to?

RW: Yeah, about 99.9% of the fucking human race although I don't know if I'd actually want to work with them. I've often thought I'd like to get a producer or so in to mix the stuff as I've never really been happy with the stuff that I've sort of passed onto other people to be really truthful about it. I've honed it down to about three or four people who I'd really like to get behind the board and actually shape it - it comes down to Alan Moulder, Spike Stent and Flood, and those guys get to work with U2 and Depeche Mode, and I mean we work on peanuts, but on an artistic basis there aren't any people that I think I really want to work with, there aren't any burning desires or anything.

UH: You've been around as PIG for the last 10 years now, how do you think things have changed?

RW: I think I used to have much more clarity of... My motivation was a lot clearer and therefore consequently my horizon was a little bit more strict, it was more like running down a race-course. I knew exactly what I wanted to do for, for example, 'Symphony For The Devil'. I had the title and it wrote itself in my head, and it's almost like I was following a script that had been written. Also, with tracks like 'Black Mambo' it's almost like you go on autopilot, you know exactly in your head what it's supposed to be like. It's like that cheesy analogy about making a sculpture, you start with a block of stone and just chip away everything that doesn't look like the thing you're trying to do, and that was the way it worked. Have I improved? I don't think I have, I think I've probably found it maybe... You know as you do it longer and longer... It's difficult to describe. I've got a wife now and a kid on the way and stuff like that, and you suddenly start looking at things in a slightly different way. It's the hoary old cliché that we all hate to hear - before, I would come in and I would spend three days in the studio and just worked on, for example, tracks on the first KMFDM album. There were two on there that I just did on my own in the studio, and just worked on everything, just worked fanatically with this kind of... It's like having no control over yourself, and I can't work within those kind of parameters anymore, and it's more like you have to get into this thing of trying to turn it on and off, but I've always found that very difficult, just like when you try to organize your life. PIG has never been organized, it's just been driven by this motivation, and that's why I've had problems with the direction of this album ('Genuine American Monster', which at the time was under the working title 'Black Brothel'), and I'll tell you that quite honestly. When you've done like five albums on autopilot because it just had to come out, I suddenly thought - I've pissed on this lamp-post, I've done the fucking mega orchestral industrial this and I've covered the Jazz tip, and I was thinking, well, what do I want to do now? So that's why I've taken some time out to rekindle the desire. You were here when I was playing those remixes and I can get back to doing something proper now. I don't know if I'm gonna do another album, I've got quite a few things in motion, but if I don't feel like this is what I really want to do then I'm just going to stop it and go out and fill supermarket shelves. I'm never going to do PIG just because I have to, just because it's like a record company schedule.

UH: On the live front, around '94, there was just you playing with a drummer and guitarist. Did the musical direction of 'Sinsation' and 'Wrecked' prompt the addition of a second guitarist and a more full on Rock sound?

RW: I think obviously, yeah. The nature of the way those tracks turned out on CD meant that it would make sense to have a second guitarist and if the live band ever reincarnates, it will probably augment with a live bass player and keyboard player, and that's the next development. The last times we've been out playing live, we've taken it down to the fairly low common denominator of those tracks that were more guitar based, but I mean some of the stuff I've been doing for the next album is purely orchestral, so those things would look pretty funny to do onstage, and also confuse people a bit as well. In the States when we were touring last time, if I sort of dipped into the back catalogue of stuff like 'Black Mambo' or 'One Meatball' that had never been released in the States, and started going off on that Jazz tip thing, then they're just gonna fucking sit there scratching their heads.

UH: You never seem to play any of the older material live anymore...

RW: They're old, and that's why. You wear your newer clothes more than your old clothes and that's just the nature of the way things go.

UH: Would that be what prompted the change to the stage set-up? Before, you had all the decapitated pig's heads hanging from chains...

RW: When we were touring with NIN, Trent had no problem at all with us having pig's heads all over the stage, but their crew were really fucking sniffy about it and paranoid that it would just upset people and shit, and I just thought it was such a hassle to go through 'cos they really stunk and really big and really heavy, and impaling a head or hanging up a head is quite a gruesome business and takes quite a bit of time. I think we got them up and running again when we were last in Japan, we had them all hanging on chains all over the stage, which looked pretty cool. I've been thinking about how charming it was and maybe resurrect that again, I'm quite fond of having decapitated pig's heads onstage. I just want to cover them in kerosene and burn them next time.

UH: There's an almost homogenous look to the covers...

RW: Since I started working with Stephen Lovell-Davis who's done the covers for 'Sinsation', 'Wrecked', 'Prime Evil' and 'No One Gets Out Of Her Alive', since I've been on board with him, pretty much I just let him do it because I really like his work, and he's doing covers for the reissues of 'The Swining' and 'Red Raw And Sore' and 'Je M'aime' because I want to bring them into his sort of umbrella. He knows where I'm coming from and I don't need to explain things to hi, but it's really his thing and "that look" is due to him and it's just because he tuned in on a particualr wavelength at the right time.

UH: You mentioned you were having difficulties with 'Black Brothel'. Is there anything completed so far or...

RW: I've got lots of bits and bobs but I've just got to tie them all together and see if it makes any sense. I don't think about songs so much 'cos I don't even write songs, I'm not really interested in that whole thing. I can just think about the overall, it's like how I was explaining about when I got 'Symphony For The Devil' in my head, it's like the same with an album. I don't think of them as individual songs, although nobody rreally listens to albums anymore nowadays. I certainly don't., but when I'm making them I just... I mean, that's why maybe there were, particularly earlier on, there were more eclectic genres covered under one kind of umbrella. I do like the way that that kind of enhances the confusion of people because on 'Praise The Lard; you listen to 'iToxico!' and then you listen to 'Hog Love' or 'Sweat And Sour' and they seem to be going in different directions.

UH: Certainly though that's a major part of PIG's appeal?

RW: I'm not too sure. I think it is to the fan, but for Joe record buying public, they're very much like, you know... That's why I've got a lot of respect for the KMFDM boat, because it's very "this is our sound and this is our thing" whereas I'm going here and I'm going there and it's a bit more reflective of my kind of poly-addictive personality. I love doing thrash stuff like 'The Only Good One's A Dead One', but when I'm at home, I'll be listening to the most soppy, romantic stuff like Mahler or Samuel Barber or The Eagles and The Carpenters and people like that.

UH: Have you any dreams or ambitions for the future?

RW: No, I haven't. I just want to get back to what's going on and just see if I want to make another record...

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