The Black Flag Meets Attriton’s Martin Bowes

On Saturday 4th May Eighties Industrial Pioneers Attrition take to the stage at The Camden Roundhouse  as part of the Reproducton 13 Mini Fest that also features Black Flag favourites...

On Saturday 4th May Eighties Industrial Pioneers Attrition take to the stage at The Camden Roundhouse  as part of the Reproducton 13 Mini Fest that also features Black Flag favourites Naked Lunch. We managed to catch up with Attritions founder and main man Martin Bowes to talk about the gig, the early days of Industrial and Zombie Movie inspired albums…

The Black Flag: Coventry 1980, the dawn of Two-Tone, Punks younger, smarter brother, seems an odd location for the formation of an electronic act like Attrition. How did the band form?

Martin Bowes: Coventry was a great place to be in that post punk boom… bands playing every night… and Two Tone was only a small part of it…it put Coventry on the map but it was never a massive part of the local scene… i loved The Specials though of course…. before i had even thought of ATTRITION i had started a local fanzine here in 1979… Alternative Sounds ran for 18 issues… it was punk and post punk and i was increasingly drawn to the new wave of experimental electronics…. i remember seeing the Human league support Siouxsie and the banshees here in 1979… i think thats what started it all for me…. ATTRITION started at the end of 1980… and yes… we never fitted in too comfortable with the Coventry scene despite my connections here…. but i took the view that this is a big world to explore…. and i am

TBF: Your hailed as one of the first industrial bands. What were the early days of the industrial scene like?

Martin: Well we were near the beginning but we werent the first wave which i think of as bands like Cabaret Voltaire and the whole Sheffield scene…. a big influence on me along with the spirit of punk… it was pretty hard at first playing with synths and no guitars… it was quite shocking to people… even dance music hadn’t adopted electronics yet… but at the same time it was a really exciting time…something new was happening… and we met some like minded souls and are still friends with many of them today… ultimately England kind of bailed on the industrial scene and the only bands that made it here were the more commercial synth pop bands… we found a home in Europe and later on in the USA…

ATTRITION - The unraveller of angels vinyl LP cover small

TBF: What are the bands main influences?

Martin: Life. love. art. death. sex. spirituality and philosophy…. and not necessarily in that order.

TBF: What really stands out about you guys is your experimental aspect. You seamlessly meld many different genres together. Was it a conscious decision to do this?

Martin: I think most things are subconscious decisions… I get inspired to try something new all the time… while appreciating what has gone before and learning from that… i think that experimenting keeps you alive

TBF: Your first album Death House was inspired by Zombie films. Tell us a bit more about that?

Martin: I have always loved Zombie films, and horror in general… i think those films help us deal with our own fears in a subliminal way… and that was actually an afternoons improvisation on analogue synths and a 4 track portastudio in 1982… and then a few overdubs and effects…. inspired by a soundtrack for the mind if you like… a very dark ambient sound as would be described nowadays… we put it out on a cassette back then so i think of the first “proper” album as “the attrition of reason” we released on Third Mind records in 1984…since then This Death House has been issued on vinyl and then CD… and was used as the soundtrack to a German TV documentary on serial killers a few years ago…. it,s remained very popular…

TBF: You’ve toured most of the world. What was the high point of touring?

Martin: We don’t tour constantly as I have my studio to run here – The Cage – I work with a lot of bands and labels on mixing and mastering…. but we have travelled a lot over the years and played in 4 continents…. although only once or twice in Asia and South America… it’s mostly been Europe and North America… I love touring despite the stress sometimes… there’s always something going wrong!… but you learn from that and it helps you handle most of what life has to throw at you… we would come back from those early tours in the 80’s feeling a mile high… and it is so worth it for the exposure and experience… the places you see of course…places you would never normally get to even as a tourist…and every experience you have there…and most importantly the people you meet… some amazing, kind and talented people and some of our best friends now we met while away on tour….

TBF: You’ve recently linked up with Evolve or Die. What appeals to you about the label?

Martin: I always worked with other bands and labels in a collaborative way going back to the start of ATTRITION… helping each other…setting up shows with other bands…swapping contacts…. the whole thing is a really rewarding way to work independently…. there have been times in the past when I left promotion solely to a label when I believed in them…and it never really worked…. take as much control into your own hands as possible and doing that in a collaborative way increases your exposure and possibilities… for everyone involved. and I see that beginning now with Evolve or Die so I am really happy to lend my weight to this…

TBF: What are you most looking forward to about the Reproduction 13 gig at the Roundhouse on 4th May at the Roundhouse?

Martin: I’m looking forward to playing at such a famous venue and playing with some excellent bands… and its always good to play London when we tour… this will be a good day

TBF: Anything else you want to plug?

Martin: Well the new album, and the first in a few years now… The Unraveller of Angels, is finally here and we have just begun a series of shows around the world to promote it…
Its getting a really enthusiastic response so i am pleased about that…. you can listen to the album through our bandcamp page at:
http://attritionuk.bandcamp.com/album/the-unraveller-of-angels and please check the tour dates on our website in case we are playing anywhere near you….!

TBF: Where do you see Attrition in the next five years?

Martin: More of everything…. its always the same… and always different…. i can’t imagine life without this…

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