In April Sudeten Creche will be on stage for the first time in more than twenty-five years, performing in London, Paris, Antwerp, Berlin and Vienna. skug caught up with Sudeten Creche during their rehearsal schedule to find out more about the songs they will be playing and some of the lesser-known history of this established but somewhat reclusive early 80’s minimal electro duo.
Fotocredits: Martin Lloyd
Backstage with Nico
The last time Sudeten Creche played live was supporting Nico on the UK leg of her 1983 European tour. The venue was the University of London’s Queen Mary College. This was a sizable venue and somewhere in the order of three thousand people showed up that night to watch what was to be a memorable performance by Nico, supported by Sudeten Creche and Dormanu. Paul Carlin, founding member of Sudeten Creche, recalls »one of the quirkier things I remember is the arrangements backstage. As a relatively new and inexperienced young band, we were pleasantly surprised by the hospitality. In the large and comfortable dressing room that we were shown into, we were well provided for, including a copious quantity of alcohol to which Baz and Tim (recent band members back in 1983, Ed.) quickly got working on; nerves had the opposite effect on me and I skipped the ??rock and roll?? pre-performance indulgence. We subsequently realised that we had almost certainly been given Nico’s dressing room and she had been given ours.«
Carlin continues: »I can’t recall who it was who introduced me to Nico backstage, it was either her manager Nigel Bagley or Yvette Döll, but I do remember the meeting very well. Nico was charismatic, soft-spoken and attentive. I was a little numb from meeting her in person; she is someone I had greatly admired, having been strongly influenced by the Velvet Underground. After some casual conversation, and unprompted, she signed a copy of her Procession EP with the words ??A kiss for the Creche??. If there was a self-destructive, ??fallen rock-star?? side of Nico, I never saw it that evening – just a humble, yet brilliant, artist. We named our CD EP ??A Kiss From The Creche?? in honour of Nico«. Sudeten Creche are including a song in their upcoming tour set list as a tribute to Nico. Regarding the live material, Carlin adds: »There is a significant body of work from 1983-1988 that has never been fully completed or reworked including some of the ’83 live set – ??Night Life in Cologne??, ??Sense Seduction?? and others. These haven’t been included in the set, but maybe we’ll consider that for a future event or recording session.«
Europe In The Year Zero
May 1982 saw the first release by Sudeten Creche (the band with a name given out of love for controversy and formed in Peterborough) on a compilation EP called »Europe In The Year Zero«. Carlin: »In short, ??Europe In The Year zero?? came about via Yvette Döll (a Warholian persona with close links to the band, Ed.). The EP was a benefit for ??No Nukes??, something that the cover reflects, with an emotionless expression from an East-German newsreader against a backdrop of ballistic missiles. Back then of course we were in the Cold War and always mindful that the prospect of a nuclear apocalypse was never far away. The sleeve credit to ??Mr. Miller?? refers of course to Daniel Miller from Mute and The Normal.«
The »10,000 or more« (Carlin) copies of »Europe In The Year Zero« sold rapidly and put the record quickly at 46 in UK charts and 7 in independent charts before selling out inside of two or three weeks, thus preventing it from going top 20. »The EP got us national radio play with John Peel, who was kind enough to call and let us know he was going to play it. Bless him«, says Carlin. His bandmate Mark Warner adds that shortly after the John Peel show, the phone started to ring and there followed invites to support some major bands. »It was a very exciting time, you never knew what might happen next! I think we were even lined up for a ??Top Of The Pops?? appearance the following week if the sales had continued.« However a contractual limit placed on the EP prevented more from being pressed once they had all sold out.
Stories lost and found
Warner also remarks that »there was a report that ??Are Kisses Out Of Fashion??? and ??Dance?? (both tracks on the compilation, Ed.) were recorded at Connie Plank’s studio but this is not the case. We think there was an intention for us to record there but it never happened. However, Yvette Döll did record at Connie Plank’s with Klaus Schulze. Over the years Yvette released records with many artists and is arguably the most successful of us all in the music arena. With his close links with Illuminated and a number of other labels of his own, he made releases with artists such as Throbbing Gristle, 400 Blows, Leather Nun, Portion Control and D.A.F.«
The 1983 release of the ??Kindergarten?? EP contained remixes of Dance and Asylums (originally appearing as ??Asylums in Beirut??, Ed.) and roughly coincided with Nico’s tour. »This was an eventful recording, with the finished master-tapes being lost, thought stolen, forcing us to re-mix and re-master. This was done at Elephant Studios with our old colleague Dave Colton engineering – he also engineered ??Europe In The Year Zero?? and went on to join the Destructors«. Warner recalls that »in 2006/2007 the first Kindergarten master tape was rediscovered. We included the earlier version of ??Kindergarten (longer mix)?? and it is the ??lost tape?? version that we include on the Minimal Wave EP released in 2009.«
Time off with Genesis P. Orridge
After 1983 there followed a number of tangential projects outside of Sudeten Creche, including a recording of »Discipline«. »We were influenced by Throbbing Gristle«, Carlin explains, »and this was reflected on some of the very early Sudeten Creche recordings – including ??Relax??, before the Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s song of the same name. I recorded an experimental version of ??Discipline?? at (the recording studio, Ed.) ??Le Jardin Electronique?? in Norwich. Shortly after, I met up with Genesis P. Orridge at his home in London Fields, accompanied by Lilly Ak (another musician involved in Sudeten Creche, Ed.) at the time. I remember when I played our version to Genesis, he grabbed a hammer and started pounding the floor to the beat – and pointing out to me that I’d added an extra snare beat. I have a signed copy of TG’s ??Discipline?? EP as a memento of that afternoon.??
Coming back to the Lilly connection, Carlin continues:»??En Route To The Beating Heart?? is a song that Lilly did in conjunction with Baz Voce and a song that is being reworked with Carla from Daybed. We’re hoping that she may do a cameo appearance in London or Berlin. Lilly Ak went to work with Youth and Edward Ka-Spel appearing as Astrid on the ??Tower?? album by The Legendary Pink Dots.«
Ghosts in the drawer
Going further through the live setlist, Carlin and Warner share more background info: »The song ??Wounds?? dates back to 1987, recorded as an electric guitar version under a separate project (World Gone Mad, Ed.) and is one of the earliest out of the newly created Sudeten Creche material. However the oldest song we are including in our live shows is ??Then and Now??, which has its origins in May 1980, when the song was first written. It remained unrecorded until October 2006. Some aspects of the song are influenced by the movie ??Ghost In The Shell?? and its soundtrack by Kenji Kawai«, Mark says. »We have a great deal of early work still uncompleted which we hope to work on. It is unlikely that we will include any of our very early industrial tracks such as ??The Teac Explodes??. Most of this work was experimental and dates from 1981 to 1982 before ??Kisses?? and ??Dance??.«
When recording »Kolly Kibber’s Birthday«, Sudeten Creche reached out to Julian Cope for permission. He not only agreed, but helped them with tips on the arrangement that he had used on the original The Teardrop Explodes recording. »As we are also long time Teardrop and Cope fans it meant a great deal to us being told that he knew of Sudeten Creche.«
»My Beloved« is a song by Marc Schaffer and Orpheo Weidelt from Solitairen Effekten/Solitude FX. Warner met them in Jena in 2007 while watching their live show alongside A.W.o.L. and This Fish Needs A Bike. This serendipity led to them doing the »Wounds« EP on Marc Schaffer’s Anna Logue label. The sleeve artwork is a reference to Julian Cope’s »Saint Julian« album cover.
Back to the Kindergarten and onto the stage
»Tear Garden« is the most recent song in the repertoire: »Written by Mark on the back of the winter visit to Berlin last year, we think this captures the mood of much of our most recent work.« Like the Jena concert in 2007, last October’s Brave Exhibitions/Modern Movement night at the King Kong Klub in Berlin (see skug #85 and www.skug.at/article5121.htm, Ed.) turned out to be another pivotal point in Sudeten Creche’s history and led to collaborative projects with a number of people who were there on that night, including Andy Oppenheimer from Oppenheimer Analysis, Frank Hentschke (of A.W.o.L., Ed.) and Nina Belief. »It is early days yet and much time since then has been taken up with our tour preparation but we hope that these projects will bear strange but interesting fruit.«
»Andy Oppenheimer will be playing at our London event. It was Andy and Martin who helped us seal the idea that we would resume recording and eventually doing live work. We’ve been following Oppenheimer Analysis closely over the years and have got to know them as friends. We consider them to be the definitive Cold War Warriors of electronic music«, says Warner. »We very much look forward to meeting many of our friends and supporters as we make our way across Europe. It will be an interesting experience.«
There may be other »guerrilla gigs« taking place on the tour that are announced at very short notice, so keep watching out for Sudeten Creche.
Sudeten Creche tour 2011:
April 8th @ Brave Exhibitions, London
April 15th @ Bunker Bal, Paris
April 16th @ New Wave/Minimal Synth Festival, Antwerp
April 21st @ Brave Exhibitions, Berlin
April 23rd @ Future Echo 03 in Fluc, Vienna