Saturday, March 26, 2011


For nearly 30 years, the British band with the German influence, Nitzer Ebb have been pounding ear drums, crowds and providing pulsating beats for generations. The industrial legends have been cranking out the music they love their entire careers. While the band experienced a near two decade hiatus, they returned in 2008 stronger and heavier than ever. As they have played every size venue possible from around the world, their cult like legion of fans have followed them all over and for so long. The band have influenced everyone from The Killers to Tiga to Marilyn Manson to Billy Corgan and beyond, they have even had an influence on close friends and Depeche Mode. While Nitzer Ebb continue to tour the globe and continue to provide the world with their original industrial sound, we had a chance to speak to members Douglas McCarthy and Jason Payne about their latest record - last years Industrial Complex, touring and their everlasting legacy. Take a look at our interview below.

After 15 years, how does it feel to be back?

DM: Feels great. Obviously the music industry has changed significantly over the last few years so there is a lot more hands on involvement needed from us, but we are definitely enjoying rising to the challenge.

What prompted the idea of a reunion?

DM: Around 2004 I started working with French Techno artist Terence Fixmer to form a project named Fixmer/McCarthy. We released an album and toured extensively. Our agent was approached by various festival promoters in Europe to see if Nitzer Ebb would be interested in playing a handful of shows. Myself and Bon happened to be in Chicago at the same time and had a chat about it. We decided to give it a go and before we knew it there was a 7 month global tour taking in Europe, Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, North, Central and South America.

What was it like getting back into the studio to record Industrial Complex?

DM: Very productive, relaxed and fun. We had a large space in East LA and worked over the course of about a year coming in each day with a “clean sheet of paper”. We deliberately limited the amount of technology we used so as to approach the album in a similar way as we did with the first album.

You began recording Industrial Complex in 2008 and released it in 2010, what took so long?

DM: As we were paying for the album ourselves we had no schedule to stick to, so we were able to just keep working until we were satisfied with the result. That took about a year, it then took another year to get the business side of things sorted to release how we wanted.

How have the shows been? Is it odd returning over a decade later with various faces, young and old in the crowds?

JP: The shows have been amazing and it's great to see such a vast age range. A lot of times parents will show up with their teenage kids who are also into us. That can be quite surreal.

Your fanbase in Europe seems to be much more massive than it is here in America, is it odd coming to the States to play gigs? Or does that not even matter?

JP: We're just happy to play. Sometimes the most rewarding shows are for the smaller crowds in the usually forgotten towns.

So many electronic bands have returned onto the scene, acts like Atari Teenage Riot, KMFDM, Recoil and yourselves, yet the field has shifted with acts like Daft Punk, Justice, Busy P and others. Do you think that electronic music is the new rock and roll and the pioneers of this should have the light on them as well?

DM: Electronic music has always been a part of “alternative music”. There are a ton of bands such as Tearist, White Car and Tense who are making a much more impressive form of electronic music than Justice or Daft Punk – no disrespect but they are over rated.

You opened for Depeche Mode on their iconic “Music for the Masses” tour in the late 80’s and returned to opening for them last year. How was it getting on stage with them again?

DM: We are very old friends from a very similar background in England, so it was of course excellent. Like being with family.

Martin Gore of Depeche Mode guests on Industrial Complex, and it seems you kept in close contact with him and former DM members Alan Wilder and Dave Clark. How close are you with the members and former members of that band? Do you ever seen Clark and Wilder rejoining Martin, Fletch and Dave again?

DM: I haven’t seen Vince Clarke for a while, but I am often in contact with Alan and we meet whenever schedules allow. I performed with Recoil for the first 2 shows of this past tour. Alan came on stage to perform with Depeche in London at a charity event, but I doubt he would come back full time. And Vince would not either.

You worked with Flood for many years, and you returned working with him again, how is he in the studio? What was it like recording with him behind the controls now as opposed to back when you first linked up with him?

DM: We began working with Flood on our 2nd album ‘Belief’ at the suggestion of Daniel Miller (President of Mute Records) and from the very beginning we knew we had found an incredibly insightful and supportive collaborator. Flood’s honesty and genuine enthusiasm for all music, but especially electronic music, is second to none and he never puts any less than his all into a project. In this instance his burgeoning schedule made it pretty much impossible to be with us in person so we relied on emailing tracks and receiving his responses and comments. As far as who was “behind the controls” this time then it was Bon on a day to day basis and then John O to record my vocals and mix.

In 1988 you released what some call the “perfect electronic album,” with belief. Do you feel that the record stands the test of time or do you want to outdo yourselves now with modern technology?

DM: We made a concerted effort on Belief to really push ourselves in every way. The album started with just Bon and myself in what was then the still incompleted new Mute studio ‘Worldwide’. We would work 7 days a week doing 14 to 18 hour days taking a day off separately so that we kept the workflow constant. Then Flood came in after we had a good chunk of the album in at least a sketch state. We made a decision very early that we wanted to make it as clean sounding as possible and so literally only recorded the vocals with all the electronic elements running live through Cubase. When it came to mastering we used an AMS engineer to do it digitally – Pro Tools did not exist beyond a stereo capacity. I think the way we approached the album makes it a true classic that pre-empted the future methodology of multi track recording by at least 5 years. So yes, I do think it stands up.

Now the burning question, do you plan to record new material again? And it will not be another 15 years for a new record, will it?

DM: We are continuing to enjoy what Nitzer Ebb throws at us. We have a few interesting collaboration opportunities in 2011 and I feel sure there will be more recording.