Leech Woman Interview MusicThatJumpedTheShark.com
How, when and why did the band start?
Leech Woman started in 1993 as an off shoot of the punk band Working With Tomatoes, it started with just me and P Rise and then we drafted in Rog to hit stuff. We were all in WWT but wanted to make industrial punk noise as we could find no-one who was. Raye was later invited into the fold as the samples/live sound person as we really didn’t have much of a clue on how to use the drum machine we had and the start/stop sample gathering on the borrowed 4 track we had was really not all that good, so Raye became involved and Leech Woman took its first steps in its continual mutation.
Has the band stuck to its original mission?
Yes. The original mission statement was to produce a nasty industrial punk, and to this day, that’s what Leech Woman does. As a band, we have never compromised to fit into a “scene”, we have always been on the fringes – too noisy for the electro/ebm industrial people, to fucking harsh for the goths, too down right weird for the punks and having no drummer, the metal crowd didn’t get us either (although the black metal audience was far more receptive).
What else would you like to do with the or take the band?
All ways up for collaborations. We have done some with the likes of ESA, Moleculez, CTRler and of course with all the remixers we have worked with. We would like to do something with a visual artist or score a film, that would be fun, we did in the early days work with a dance group which was an interesting experience suddenly becoming involved in the “arts”, wouldn’t say no to that again, but we don’t actively chase stuff, if someone approaches the band we will listen and if we like the ideas we will get involved
What is the song “The Burning of Animals” about?
It’s about the foot and mouth crisis that hit the UK some years ago. The panic of farmers and the media and government over a disease that doesn’t make the meat un-edible or poisonous but has such a stigma attached to it that the only way to restore public faith in the meat farming industry was to destroy all these creatures and start again and to do that they killed every cow and put them in huge burning pits so the English country side smelt like the worst barbecue ever.
Are you vegetarian / Vegan?
I don’t eat meat, but do eat fish, so would never call myself vegetarian, although I do nearly always go for the vegetarian option at the take-away or at restaurants.
How long have you been practicing martial arts? What style and what belt/level are you at?
I did a Korean martial art called Kuk Sool Won for 13 years an got to the level of 3rd degree black belt. It is an amalgamation of over 30 traditional Korean arts so you do all sorts of kicks, punches, head-buts, elbows, knees, grappling, joint locks, pressure points and weapons. Unfortunately, since I moved to Australia a year ago, and I am the highest rank here, there is no one to teach me and to set up my own school is a bit beyond me means at the moment, but I do want to carry it on as it is really spiteful and great fun. Must get my arse in gear on that.
Do you practice martial arts more hours daily then music?
Not at the moment but it was about even.
What is your relationship with the band Hydra? Are they like your kid sister band?
If anything Hydra are Leech Woman’s older cousin. They have been around a lot longer than LW and their members – Nick and Raye – have helped LW immeasurably over the years.
Did you kick your brother out of the band or what happened to the original line up?
My brother, P Rise, just lost interest, and Rog was too busy with his tour managing job for me to try and book things around him so I didn’t, I got feed up of trying to accommodate everyone so set off with just myself and Franck on guitar. Raye also got fed up with it and decided to to leave too, which again, was fine. This is just a band and if the people in it don’t want to do it any more then that’s cool. We are all still good mates. Raye still does Hydra with Nick and Rog, and my brother concentrates his energies on his Kuk Sool Won school in southern Ireland (he is now a 4th degree black belt).
Was it because he liked Adam Ant style drums?
We all like Adam And The Ants style drumming, he was one of my childhood heroes, which was slightly ruined when I read his autobiography a few years back, my god he’s dull.
Who is in the current line up and how did they get there?
Current line up is me, Nathaniel Underwood and Rob Archibald. Nat has been a friend for ages and expressed an interest in joining as 2nd guitar when Franck was in the band, it worked well and he has been an integral part of LW for some years now and Rob joined when Franck left and has also contributed loads to the ever evolving LW sound.
Is the live line up the same as the studio line up?
Yes. But sometimes we manage to get the genius that is Zan Lyons to do our sound live.
Please give dirt stories on Invisible Records & the how & why with what happened at that label – didn’t they have you in a seven record deal? Please give the long version of this story to document it for history.
The contract was shit, something like 3 or 5 albums, no royalties on the first 2000 albums sold, billing us against royalties for the first album being mixed in Martin Atkins own studio, with out us being there ‘cos he wouldn’t pay for Raye to go to Chicago to help mix it, giving us a stupid low budget (500 pounds I think) to record the whole album, then not really supporting the band. It’s not like we are the only band to be screwed by Invisible, their contracts are shit and support was rubbish, but we only really have our selves to blame, they offered it and we said yes.
Please give the same inside scoop on Alternative Tentacles – how did your record get pulled from them to Invisible? From your experiences with that label do you think the other 3 Dead Kennedys were right to sue Jello?
It was the other way around. Our publishers, Rough Trade, had good relations with Bill from Alternative Tentacles UK and he agreed to license the album from Invisible for the UK and Europe. We have no beef with Bill, he did a good job but we were unaware of the battle between AT UK and AT US when we were releasing the album, so unfortunately the timing sucked and a little after 33 Degrees came out AT UK stopped. As for the DKs suing Jello, I haven’t bothered looking into all the whys and wherefores, but if Jello did owe them money then yes, he should have paid out.
Is your record with the uncleared Star War samples (that shale remain nameless) still in print?
Not as far as I know, but we still have some copies knocking around. Do you really think we cleared ANY of the samples we used?
You released a record called 33 Degrees – give us your take on Freemasonry & if there is any in your family.
Freemasonry is a funny old thing, not really sure what I really think of it. I like the idea of secret societies ruling the planet, plotting the downfall of governments and nations, but in reality I just think it’s a club for blokes to go to once a week and get pissed in. My dad is a Freemason and they never seemed to help him out that much when he lost his job. So, an all powerful sect that rules the world? No, just a social club where you may be able to make some contacts. But he didn’t realize that the album was named after the highest rank of freemasonry until we told him.
Who runs Quai Lao records and are you going to put out a full line of releases with them? How did you get hooked up with them?
I run Quai Loh, so far the label has released 3 cd’s and 2 12 inch ep’s. It is a vanity thing and gave LW the chance of putting out music. I may release other stuff but there are no plans.
What is your personal definition of Qual Lao philosophy & do you live by it?
It’s to do it DIY, if no one will take a chance on you (and believe me we had plenty of labels saying that LW were great but had no idea how to market us so sorry, we can’t release your stuff) then you have to take that chance yourself. If it succeeds or fails that’s not the issue, the issue is that you did something with integrity and yes, that is how I try and lead my life.
Why is PWEI not huge right now? What do you think of their reunion – did you see them recently?
I had no idea they had reformed. Saw them plenty of times in the ‘90s and loved it. I like the stuff Clint Mansel is doing on soundtracks, so in a way, PWEI is bigger and being heard by more people than ever, they just don’t know it.
Please give us a list of all your releases & where the kids can purchase them.
www.myspace.com/leechwomannoise and you can pick up t-shirts, cds and records at All Ages Records on Pratt Street in Camden. Resurrection Records in Camden also carries our stuff.
You released a t-shirt before that stated; “Freedom of speech is nothing without freedom of thought” – can you please give us a run down on your take on freedom of though versus freedom of expression & translate the writing down the sleeves of that shirt.
Everyone has limitations, be it political, religious, moral and these contracts mentally will in turn narrow your freedom of speech from within. To have any belief system in place will stifle the ability to comprehend an opposing viewpoint or argument so to free yourself of this would give you freedom of thought and thus, the freedom to say whatever you wished. Unfortunately, those around you will never be as enlightened and their faith/political leanings/morality will make the freedom of thought process unworkable, so no-one has true freedom of speech as no-one can truly claim to have freedom of thought. People would like to believe they can say whatever they like but in reality we don’t, none of us do. And that trickles down into the whole freedom of expression argument as well, you are not really free to express yourself in any way you wish. You may think you have control over what you do/say/think but you don’t really beyond a certain point. And the writing was just Leech Woman in the Illuminati script.
Are these views why you keep your music hardcore?
The music is hardcore ‘cos that’s the way Leech Woman was born, kicking and screaming, as an outlet for all the frustrations and anger that came into my world. I am a pretty easy going person but somethings make me rage and LW is the perfect vehicle to let that travel in.
Do you think Banksy is the real deal?
Yes I do. I have admired his work for many years. He has become this pin up artist for the left-wing middle classes through no fault of his own. He has a fantastic wit, and as an artist he has an amazing grasp of propaganda stylings. Not many people can sum up the state of the world in stencils. If idiot people want to pay over the top for his work, let them, he has plenty on show for free in nearly every major city on the planet. So it’s not in my front room, so what, his work is most powerful when the people it’s aimed at are confronted by it every day.
What ever happened to Gabber?
Depends what you listen to. The Dutch stuff was never my bag, too damn happy, always went for the stuff inspired by punk, metal and hip hop over the techno/acid stuff. Like most genres, the good sounds went underground and their are plenty of amazing Gabber producers out there, just have a search.
What are the best 5 underground bands playing in the UK right now (not including you)?
As I said, I have been out of the UK for a year now but I do really like Dead Existance (superb crawling crust-sludge), Fukpig (brutal necropunk), Anaal Nathrakh (my favourite ever black metal band), Zan Lyons (just a fucking genius) and Hard Skin (one of the greatest punk bands ever).
Did something change in music for the worse after say ’96 or so?
No. People whine about things getting worse or that music was better before such and such a date but in reality they just got old and lazy and stopped looking further than their noses. Music has always and will always have a defining time and place in someones life, and many people don’t want to go beyond that, like they are clinging on to their youth. As you get older it takes more to impress you but when it does it is something special. The worst aspect of music I think now is the digital download aspect of it. I am not a fan of mp3s, I like physical product, I like hunting in record shops, boot fairs, markets, I like packaging, design, the whole thing. I enjoy seeing my music collection on display and at other peoples houses. It’s not rude to browse someones cd/vinyl shelves but it is to access their hard drive and skim through their itunes without permission. Also, how can that hero artist sign your mp3? How can you trade the shit 3rd album in for something else if it’s just digital data and how many insurance companies will reimburse you for your mp3 collection if it all goes tits up? To me mp3s were the worst and best thing to happen to music in the last 50 years.
What did you think of the one member Crass reunion? Did you go see it?
All power to Steve Ignorant for doing it. It wasn’t a stupid price to see it, everyone who went enjoyed it, he had a few quid in his pocket after it. Crass mean an awful lot to many, many people and if you didn’t like the fact Steve did the gig then you didn’t go, simple. Is he a sell out? No. Did I go? No, not because I thought it was wrong of him to do it, it was just that I was skint at the time. I didn’t really get Crass until pretty recently, say the last 5/6 years, up till then I thought it was rubbish musically and only liked the Yes Sir I will album. I have since gone back and found that I do really like them and think they were just as important to the industrial scene as they were to the punk scene.
What are 5 bands that have not become music that jumped the shark & why?
Godflesh they took the negative universe and used it to their advantage to cypher all those horrendous, tortured feelings into a positive and cleansing sound. Soft Cell paranoia, depression, angst, guilt, all wrapped up in glorious teen pop songs. The majority of people who purchased their albums may never understand the songs they are listening too. Extreme Noise Terror the original and still the best crust punk band. No compromise, no sell out, punk as fuck and still fucking angry. Atari Teenage Riot no compromise, no sell out, punk as fuck and still fucking angry. This list could go on and on – Ministry, Converge, PiL, Foetus, The Melvins, Coil, Skinny Puppy, Merzbow, Non, Nasenbluten, Bong Ra, 2nd Gen, Dead Kennedys, The Young Gods – all of whom have followed their paths without folding to the “man”.