LONDON--The Sisters of Mercy have announced a U.K. tour to follow their German festival dates in August. The group will play medium-sized venues in Glasgow, Nottingham and London in September, followed by two shows in Spain.
Frontman Andrew Eldritch told LiveDaily, "We had the period set aside for a trip to South Africa, but that didn't work out, so we made ourselves open to offers. The U.K. was quickest to offer."
Eldritch also hinted that the U.K. shows would feature 50% new material and 50% classic tracks. "We'll be playing most of the newer, unreleased songs, which we've been gradually introducing into the set over the last few years. We're planning to play a couple of brand new ones as well, but we still have to cater for the majority of ticket-buyers who--quite reasonably--want to enjoy a selection of their favorites before the night's over."
He added, "I suppose it would be fatuous of me to point out that more than 90% of the set we most recently played [in Mexico City] has never been performed in Scotland."
Having released their last studio album "Vision Thing" in 1990, and then engaging in an ongoing battle to get out of their contract with EastWest Records, Eldritch denied that the upcoming tour was a precursor to a new album. "Our experiences with EastWest Records long since taught us to disconnect our live schedule from any release schedule."
"As regards arrangements for the next Sisters album, I've been talking to a few people for some time now, but I'm not in a position to report anything at the moment." Fans are advised to check out the Sisters' official website for any new album developments.
Eldritch also quashed rumors circulating on a British ticket-sales website that members of the original line-up--including founding member Gary Marx and lead singer of the Mission Wayne Hussey--would be reinstated to band.
"Rumors about the original Sisters line-up surface with monotonous regularity," he said. "I don't know why. I can't see what evidence there's ever been to support such a notion, but then again, evidence has little to do with most reports on the Sisters."
The current line-up includes Adam Pearson and Mike Varjak on guitars and long-standing drum machine Doktor Avalanche.
By John Earls, transcribed by George Carless; apologies for any mistakes.
According to their website, they are a rock and roll band, and sometimes a pop band. What The Sisters of Mercy are not, repeat NOT, are goths. They've not had an album out since 90, and went on a strike for seven years against the way they were handled by East West. But with a tour next month marking the 20th anniversary of their first gig, Andrew Eldritch reveals they're in no hurry to return just yet.
JE: How close to completion is a new album?
AE: We regularly work on tracks, but we've had no compelling reason to focus on finishing them. There's been a lot of interest from major labels, but the industry's in a complete mess. Not just the usual short-termism of Britain, but globally due to MP3 and corporate takeovers. Everybody is so scared for their jobs that they're reluctant to "risk" large sums of cash. Luckily, the Sisters are capable of thriving outside the circus.
JE: Given the East West strike, would you work with a major label again?
AE: Yes. I've always said I don't mind being exploited, so long as I'm exploited competently. If I'm exploited competently, everybody wins.
JE: How would you describe your new songs?
AE: The ones we play live are stonking. We're saving a few less gung-ho numbers for the album. They're maybe not the best think to play in our current live stonkathon. We'll play as many new ones as we can get away with on the tour.
JE: How commercially successful do you think the Sisters would be today?
AE: Our material's good enough. I can't vouch for the efficiency of record companies. The ones I've spoken to seem very enthusiastic about us, but aren't very self-confident when push comes to shove. And I've spoken to all of them in the last couple of years.
JE: Is commercial success important to you?
AE: It would be nice for the songs to find a suitably wide audience. but I don't need the money. Or the grief.
JE: What are your thoughts on current bands, like Marilyn Manson, regarded as goth?
AE: I don't have any thoughts on them. The last albums I bought were At The Drive-In, Destiny's Child, The Fall, and Monster Magnet.
JE: How difficult is it to appeal to new fans, rather than the same die-hards?
AE: Not difficult at all, even where the press is determined not to let it happen. Time Out gave us and our fans a fabulous slagging off for the last gigs before we'd even played them.
JE: What was the low point during the seven year strike against East West?
AE: No low points at all, other than not having resources to correct the media's mischaracterisations of the band, resources East West never gave us anyway. I don't need a record company to help me make records. And I absolutely don't need the circus and the grief that goes with releasing records to a wider audience. Or the frustration of trying to reach a wider audience via duffers like East West.
JE: How long did you think the Sisters would last as a band?
AE: I honestly don't remember thinking about it. Maybe that's why we're still here.
JE: Having covered Jolene and Confide In Me by Kylie, what other unexpected covers are you planning for this tour?
AE: We thought it more appropriate for the tour not to pull our usual stunt of warping something outrageously unlikely. So we'll be paying our respects less obliquely than usual.
JE: As your dispute with East West ended in '97, were you tempted to rush-release an album to celebrate?
AE: No, but I did plan to bring out a few indie singles. Our guitarist Adam spent a year not recording one called Summer, as he'd gone off the idea. He's since seen the light, but by the time he 'fessed up it was too late.
JE: What is it with the people involved that makes the current line-up one of the longest in Sisters history?
"The sunniest, warmest, late-spring afternoon in a blooming cherry orchard with a million cats."
What is hell?
"You tell me; I don't write for NME."
What is your earliest memory?
"Noh Theatre in Singapore."
What is your greatest fear?
"Can't think of one right now. I do get vertigo, but it honestly doesn't make me fall apart."
Who is your all-time hero?
"I don't really have an all-time hero. I'm very fond of Vera Duckworth, as I was very fond of Hilda and Stan Ogden. Homer Simpson is in the pantheon. My admiration for the leader of the Burmese Opposition (Aung San Suu Kyi) is somewhat tainted by a perverse yet nagging desire to see us fuck each other's brains' out."
What's the worst trouble you've ever been in?
"Not so long ago the German cops threatened me with Interpol and a spell in remand (at least) for premeditated GBH, which was very tedious of them."
What was the first love of your life?
What's your greatest talent?
"Indifference to my faults."
Upon whom would you most like to exact revenge?
What is your most treasured possession?
"Whichever computer I'm currently in front of."
What have you most regretted doing while drunk?
"I have regretted sleeping with some very ugly women."
What can you cook?
"If I have to: anything except bread, cake and pastry."
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
"You're doing that all wrong."
Can you read music?
If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
"Once I'd satisfied the carnal desires of several well-known French actresses who, for some reason, prefer at the moment to ignore my existence, I'd take to the grassy knoll and make sure that the following bastards got their comeuppance: Margaret Thatcher, Rush Limbaugh (right-wing US radio shock jock), Strom Thurmond (US senator), Antonin Scalia (American judge), anybody with the surname Bush, the Taliban, the entire Burmese Government, anybody's ever worked for a British tabloid newspaper, the so-called Royal Family, Ronald McDonald and Jack Straw. Not a bad day's work. Give me two days and I'll sort out everyone who's ever looked at me funny. Please form an orderly queue."
What are your three final wishes?
"Firstly, give me about a hundred years to think about it. Secondly, while I'm thinking about it, give me a never-ending supply of wishlets. Thirdly, while I'm thinking about it shut the fuck up."
After two decades the Sisters of Mercy are still cutting edge. And lead singer Andrew Eldritch is still on the money...
The Sisters of Mercy haven't released a new record in 11 years. That is, for more than half their existence, there has been no new product to promote, no new image to sell to the press. Yet embarking on their yearly tour of the venues of Europe, there is no noticeable diminution in the level of support they receive - despite lead singer Andrew Eldritch's somewhat fractious relationship with his followers.
"A lot of those people seem to have their heads very firmly in the past, which is a problem I have with them - it's not like we evolve or change, coz we don't, frankly, but at least we keep looking forward. But for some people, whatever we put out next year would never be as good as 1985, so fuck 'em. Obviously we're only touring now because its the [20th] birthday but we wont be playing a greatest hits set because we never do."
In the UK, its still the larger universities. In Europe it's headlining at the biggest festivals. They're not that well known, so it must be something to do with their fan base - their famously black-adorned, eye liner inscribed audience - for whom somehow it is always the middle of the eighties and goth is the new sound on the block.
Aside from Eldritch's barbed appreciation of his pseudo-Dominican fans his lyrics are at least a thousand cuts above the usual "I'm really depressed and Satan and me Mum don't appreciate me" mumblings of neo-romantic lace-wearers. The music too still stands up to comparison to today's recuperators of the 'Rock Tradition' like Monster Magnet. But he's so indelibly tarred there's no getting away from the past. "Sometimes" he says, "When the press use the goth word, I think, 'Oh God, that means the next song won't get to the people who should hear it'. But then I think, 'Well, that's another tile in the pool'. It's such easy money being called the 'Godfather of Goth'. Probably worth about £150,000 a year"
Without the Sisters there would have almost certainly have been no Nine inch Nails, no Marilyn Manson, No Cradle of Filth. The mixture of Dry Ice, gravelly vocals, tortured subject matter and heavy guitars has been faithfully reproduced across the Western World ever since.
The Sisters themselves though have been rather hamstrung while their original fans have grown to slightly twisted adulthood. For most of the nineties, a dispute with their record company East-West, left them on strike (except for never acknowledged contributions to the German Techno scene). Finally resolved in 1997 ("the outside layers they employed were percentage players and willing to negotiate. I'm not a percentage player, so we delivered them a crock of shit that wasn't a Sisters album, and which they haven't released - and we walked"), they have their artistic freedom but have so far done nothing with it.)
"If someone gave me the money tomorrow, I could finish an album in three months. Well, maybe four. We tinker about in the studio but we haven't really had any reason to put anything out. The industry is in a bit of a mess. The majors can't afford the dosh - if I'm going to knuckle down and finish an album I want paying for it up front - and I've got a very fixed idea in my head of the price I want. And if its not met, they don't get it."
In the meantime Eldritch has been living off past royalties and touring revenues. The Sisters of Mercy is now a Trust and he is simply a trust employee. "I don't need that much money to live on. I need access to to things, but the trust is good enough to give me access to buildings, vehicles, the things I need. It's up to their discretion not to, but up to now they have always been very good about it. My needs are few. I need cigarettes and computer consumables and that's about it".
He has for years satisfied those needs while living on the mainland of Europe. His consequent pan-Europeanism (he speaks four or five languages and is a fervent supporter of the Euro ideal) sits alongside a genuine interest in social equality. Anyone listening to their third (and so far last) studio album Vision Thing, can't but be impressed with an analysis of the political scene as pure entertainment, divorced from pure reality and with about as much relevance to most people as the imbibing habits of their favourite rock stars.
"I was really chuffed in the first weeks of the Government when Gordon [Brown] turned round and said 'central bank'. For a week or so they looked fabulous. Then unfortunately they just decided to let Jack [Straw] be crypto-fascist, and not even very crypto. I've got a real problem with him. He's got a song in the upcoming set which is totally his, Maximum Jack. At the heart of everything are civil rights. I'd rather have my destiny sorted out by Brussels. The few civil rights we have are maintained through the continent, not Westminster."
This belief has led to a link up with Amnesty International on the new tour - which suggests some of the most gloriously depressing music to come out of the common European homeland for many years. But it can be put to a rather more uplifting purpose. Eldritch's bitterness towards the Government may be dashed with the hopes of someone who still has some faith in the political process, rather than a dyed-in-the-wool cynic.
"Britain is not the sort of country that should have to leave things to charity. I wish the Big Issue in the North didn't exist, I hate the idea that the Government thinks the way to sort out social deprivation is by getting a million people to cheer at a ping-pong ball with a number on it every Saturday evening."
Maybe the man is mellowing. Maybe he's been away long enough he can actually be heard for what he's saying, without being eclipsed by clouds of hairspray. All the same 20 years on, the Sisters roll into a venue somewhere near you. Big loud, and a whole lot of doomy fun.
THE SISTERS OF MERCY
Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam 30-3.
** (out of 5)
Amsterdam - "Was this it?", a girl asked her boyfriend, right before geting into a toilet. Right after the concert of The Sisters Of Mercy, the halls of HMH are filled especially with grumbles about it. De fans of this band are one of the most loyal, but in the first concert in Holland, in ten years, that loyalty doesn't pay off.
The band with excentric singer Andrew Eldritch had, in the eighties, worldwide success with melancholic rock, fileld with dark romance and decadence, quickly labeled Gothic.
In the next decennium, the band is on hold for a long time. Eldritch lives in Amsterdam and Hamburg, makes a few dance records in Germany and is could is a legal dispute with his record company. In the meantime freed from his old record deal, The Sisters Of Mercy, with Andrew Eldritch as lone original bandmember, goes on the road again. Right after a few songs it becomes clear that the night will end in disappointment. Eldritch, bald and still very skinny, is hardly visible in a low cloudcover, provided by a battery of smoke machines. Assisted by two guitarists - the rest of the music comes from a hard disc - he goes to work uninspired. Contact with the public is ignored and the scarce announcements are mumbled platitudes.
Those who paid the 30 euro fee for an evening of classics is extra deceived. The trio emphasizes on a to be released album later this year, which apparently is still to be recorded. In itself it's very courageous to not sponge off of old successes, but if the oldies are also seriously mutilated, that's asking a lot of the audience. But the most disconcerting discovery is, that Andrew Eldritch is a mediocre singer at best.
Interview with the whole band
(Translaters note: sorry the bad english )
Q: What'll be interessing to the band record a new album? Eldritch: We need to find a new record company so ambicious then us.
Q: What is the sensation to come back to Brazil and do a new gig? Eldritch: 16 years has past, and i don't really remember of the first gig we did, but we expected'll be a good gig for the public and for us!
Q: Will be released a live-dvd or live-cd for this Show in São paulo or in Rio? Eldritch: Hm...*long paus* No!
Q: What is the setlist for the show? Eldritch: We wont tell!
What do you think about 'internet and the music'? Eldritch: I appreciate a construtive and a funny internet, but without too much use, also I wont like to do interviews in the same day of the gig.
Q: What do you think about covers and your own songs in heavy metal style? Eldritch: We ever have a little part of a heavy metal band, so its normal, my favorite bands it's Motorhead and Deftones!
Q: You, Eldritch, it's interessing about artistic expression, can you explain what you think about all that? Eldritch: Beyond the music, I also interessing in politic too, and I think too much musicians would be too!
Q: Eldritch, its possible to do new songs after 40 years old? Eldritch: Yes, I already said, we are with a new band, a young band, and plaiyng new songs, we'll play six or eight of the new songs in the next gig! (são paulo 19/05)
Q: You imagine doin' the bite silver bullet tour with the old band? Eldritch: No, if I do this same tour with the old band, we'll be dead in the half of tour.
Q: What do you think about the music "More" covered by Shaaman? All the band: Actually, we dont hear it and didn't know about this cover.
Q: TSOM is a icon of the Goth'80 and now too, so too much heavy metal, gothic metal, ebm and other band, already do a TSOM cover, what do you think about the covers? Like the Paradise Lost or Cradle Of Filth? Eldritch: I had hear some covers, I like some covers, I hate some others, I had liked of Paradise Lost cover for Walk Away and they are frieds of the band too. The Cradle of Filth call me to sing a song, who they'll do, but I say no, I can't see me doing anything with the COF. Chris May: I love the Poise Noire cover for Marian, a band who show a evolution of the song.
Q: You have a date to release the new songs(in a studio version)? Eldritch: Soon, but we'll play some of then friday!
Q: And about Politic, what is your position? Eldritch: I had strong politic opinions of the left! When I call Ben to play with me, I had asked if he voted right and in who!
Q: What each member do after play in the Sisters? Chris: Owner of a Hip-Hop Store Simon: Play in a lot of bands Ben: Play in a punk-metal band
Q: What is the origin of the name "Sister of Mercy"? Eldritch: I don't wanna talk about this.
Q: Here in Brazil, the most people who hear sisters of mercy are goths, and have a peculiar clothes, what you think about it? Eldritch: Actually, it's pretty hot here, so I had a another vision of the brazillian people, I think the brazillian people use bikinis, panties, and others swim-suit all the time. Anyway we make musics for everyone, we like to know who the brazillian goths like us, but we make music for the pop-listeners too and for family mothers too!
(Personal note: I have done some spellchecking here and there and tried not to disturb the original too much.)
PW: I had the chance to see you at the Montreal Spectrum back in 1991 and at
the Montreal Metropolis two years ago. What kind of show can we expect from
you and The Sisters? New material vs old material?
AE: For this tour we've decided to bring up some of the older tracks which you might not have heard live for quite a few years. We've given them a polish and they're sounding very shiny.
We'll also be doing some new material when we see fit. Some of it you might have heard; some of it you think you might have heard; and some of it you definitely haven't.
The show itself will be like a freight train painted in the shiniest yellows and blues. A freight train that emits a lot of steam.
PW: What has been going on with The Sisters of Mercy in the past few years?
No new album, outdated Web site,. Etc What have you been up to?
AE: 2006 we toured quite a lot. 2007 we rested a little more and had lives again. 2008 we've been gearing up for this tour, and the elections.
PW: What are you current and future projects (personal and professional)
AE: The Sisters of Mercy.
PW: What are your musical influences nowadays? What do you read in general
AE: Musically there's not a lot that intrigues us at the moment. The news on the internet is reasonably depressing. BBC Radio 4 is my preferred choice.
PW: Do you enjoy coming to Montreal to give concerts? Anything special you
like about Montreal or Quebec in general?
AE: Canadian audiences always seem receptive to rock n' roll, and there don't tend to be too many people in fancy dress.
PW: Would you ever consider a reunion with the other members of SOM from the
AE: Next question.
PW: What do you enjoy most in life?
AE: Tinkering with computers, feeding the cats and visiting strange places across the globe in pursuit of rock and roll, small furry animals and Japanese food.
PW: What do you dislike the most?
AE: The rise of the idiots.
PW: Looking back at your success in the 1980s, how do you feel? What do
you think of that new wave era of the 1980s. Good or bad memories?
AE: There's still a lot of great music from that period. The Psychedelic Furs, Gang of Four and The Fall spring immediately to mind. From what I remember, it was a lot of fun. From what
I'm told, it was even more fun.
PW: Many thanks for the interview. You have been an inspiration to me in my
youth and still today.
This interview is from avopolis.gr (www.avopolis.gr/interviews/default.asp?ID=501), a greek on line music magazine. I translated it from Greek to English, so have mercy, 'cause my English is not good enough. The first paragraph is the comments of the journalist (who is an idiot and have no relationship with the Sisters case, i.m.o.).
We sent him above 20 questions, but he answered only the half of them- characterizing one of these as "ridiculous"! It is obvious that Andrew Eldritch does not give a dime for anyone and for anything. Formal Sisters-of-Mercy behavior: "f**k' im", as would say himself. In any case, we expect them to shake Athenians in the concert of Saturday 11/4, in the Hellenic Cosmos, and Thessalonikians in the concert of Sunday 12/4, in Mylos Apothiki...
Q: Are you the "Stones of dark 1980s"? Great records, a big back catalogue, but no new song for the last two decades... AE: Always we record new material and our fans can hear it, via official site, or via various bootleg that they share. The Stones use to release new albums, that are all crap.
Q: What do you think about "More", 20 years later its release? And why you don't play it live any more? AE: It is a gonzoid song. Bombastic rock and roll. We don't play it any more because it has difficult backing vocals and we don't allocate feminine voices in the group.
Q: Who you allow to walk with you on "Eldritch Boulevard"? AE: All these people I trust or I care about.
Q: In the present, tight leather trousers are a fashion crime. Are you still wear them so fanatically? AE: Do you believe that we ever cared about fashion? In any case I have no thoughts about what I will wear in our concert in Athens..
Q: Why you didn't hire a real drummer instead of Doktor Avalanche? AE: What a ridiculous question, my God..! From the begining we had Doctor and we will continue having it! All our songs are written in order to played from drum machine.
Q: Finally, do technology and it's various applications release musicians? AE: All these things can bring the music to the people very easily, but they allow the releasing of a lot of waste stuff".
Q: If you release a new album, will you distribute it via internet or will you trust a record company? AE: When this time arrive, we will see. But we don't have direct plans to release a new album at this moment. Now we are on tour and we care only about that. We will think about the rest after the tour, when we will return to our homes.
ZURICH - Cult band "The Sisters of Mercy" played at X-Tra in Zurich, yesterday.
For them "the best thing you can do when you're dressed."
16 years have passed since their latest release. Visiting "The Sisters of Mercy" is like travelling with a time machine.
Drum computer "Dr. Avalanche" is still hammering on, head-sister Andrew Eldritch is still smoking chains on stage.
Only the two guitarists have, once again, been replaced. At present, there are Chris Catalyst and Ben Christo.
Ben and Chris, you are members of the band since 2005 and 2006, respectively. Andrew is nearly double your age. Chris: No, he's only twenty years older.
Vive la difference! And there are no problems with that? Ben: We are no children, are we. In addition, love for music gets us together. Chris: Exactly, it's common interests that make the difference.
As there were? Chris: We enjoy going for a walk in the cities together.
Last time in Zurich - in 2005 - we watched a football match in a bar.
So, you do know Zurich well? Chris: I've eaten a wonderful Falafel here.
Interlaken has left a stronger impression on my memory.
We played at the Greenfield Festival while the sun was going down.
Great atmosphere, with the view of the mountains ahead, simply great.
I've seen one of your concerts in Madrid. Inappropriately, in a club with palm trees.
Does it matter to you in what kind of place you play? Chris: Not really. After all it depends on the audience. Open air concerts surely have a special atmosphere,
however, a room with four walls and a bar is all it takes, at times, to get things cooking.
During the concert, it's most notably Chris to get off. He jumps, runs, maltreats his guitar.
Ben - beautiful and silent - is more introverted, not only during this interview.
And between them, there's Mastermind Andrew Eldritch, meanwhile bald-headed
but still with sun glasses and, of course, with a cigarette.
How much do you, actually, smoke during a concert? Ben: I don't smoke at all. Chris: I do. Why do you ask that?
Because of the non-stop embers I've seen on your stage. Chris: Andrew has got nothing to do with his hands. Unlike us. Ben: Furthermore, we've both been into sports in the past. I had nearly decided for football. Or arts. Chris: Really? For me, rugby was the thing.
Rugby? But, you look a bit thin. Ben looks a bit more fit, at least. Chris: I'm rather thewy. But then the knee went bust.
Now, you have become musicians. The Sisters don't have a label, anymore.
Don't you miss the creative part of the work in the studio? Ben: We both have side-projects running. Chris: In addition, we play a strong part during the concerts. This is the best job of the world, anyway.
Today you play in Zurich, two days later you wake up in Beirut, for example.
You put a guitar 'round your neck, jump about and pull faces.
There's nothing more fun when you're dressed.
In the case of Chris, being dressed means wearing a shirt with leopard print, while Ben decided for a muscle shirt.
In a hooded pullover, Andrew Eldritch steps from the fog into the limelight. After the first song, he removes half of his clothes.
No more is necessary - his movements are reduced to a minimum, thus inducing maximum effect. And Eldritch gets by,
entirely without directing a single word to the audience... or to journalists... Instead, his deep and sonorous voice is partly
being trebled over peak. Compared to original versions, there's more importance given to the guitars now
- at cost of the typical ethereal Sisters' sound, a good choice for some songs, however.
But not for all of them. Had the Sisters been ahead of their time in the 80s, they are now dragging
a bit behind in approaching the modern world. It feels like having been landed in a period of time
that survived itself, the reason, perhaps, for their great force of attraction..
Eldritch Talks about 3 decades of history and the Brazil coming
The Singer and ex-guitarist of the Sisters of Mercy, Andrew Eldritch, in recent interview, had talked about the 30th anniversary of the band and a third gig in brazil, Also said he'll celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band with a giant tour around the world: "in 2011 we'll 3 decades of life and we are talking' about it, I'm not so sure now, but we are plain a commemorative tour, and we hope this tour would pass in Brazil, we love Brazil and São Paulo it's my favourite city in the world (the same words they said in 2006 gig after Dominion I guess), with the more incredible people, we can't wait!"
In the last week, in a answer to the question of Brazilian and Latin-American journalists about the Phonographic Industry, the Singer and leader of the Sisters of Mercy, Andrew Eldritch , talks about your principal point of view about it.
About all the process of mp3 download and the initiatives of some bands who offer his songs for download free in his own websites; "I believe that it'll occur someday anyway, and I don't see why be preoccupied. For other side, made an incredible difference the money of the disco selling but..."
In relation about the big record companies and the singles, Andrew is enfatic: "Recorders would be always stupid owners, so the future of the music, is in be a Independent Artist. The singles Record looks dead unfortunelly(it's right?)...principally in USA and UK Markets. We Like to Record Albums (...LOL?), when we composed our work, that's the intension, and not have a full-collection of singles with the name "The Sisters of Mercy" written on it".
Sisters of Mercy talks about the start of the carrer and 'Floodland'.
In another recent interview for the Argentian Media, who still not publishing, the singer and leader of The Sisters Of Mercy, Andrew eldritch, talks about the good times of the early years of The Sisters Of Mercy. "Was a fun time, and the same time of wrong things at extreme, so none of us recorded much things, except by a lot of people who want's be something that isn't and wearing stupid ugly clothes."
So, about his favorite work in TSOM, 'Floodland', Andrew is nostalgic: "Still being my favourite Sisters album, and I think 'Floodland' continue being one of our best works! The recorder make his best to destroy this album, remixing some tracks and trying to bring it to the commerical side, but...in 2 in a 2 years I put this album in my stereo and I still likeing to hear it."
Sisters of Mercy: Andrew Talk about the British Rock.
Leader and singer of TSOM, Andrew Eldritch, made recently a declaration about the scenario of rock in USA and UK: "The rock in the actual days it's too much mainstream. We would make something like a new punk and make a riot in the 'Status Quo'. But I'm not right about if this who the people listen in the last years it's really 'music'." About the British Scene he is direct: "I don't have much interest in British music...I mean...especially British music. Btw, I had liked the two last bands that had supported us - I like 'Trains' and 'Ulterior'."
No singles. No albums. No videos. No record company obligations - and no press. In his first interview for 12 years, The Sisters Of Mercy's frontman Andrew Eldritch lets us inside that rarest of phenomena, a cult band
who refuse to play the industry game and still pack out gigs.
Words: Joel McIver
Photography: Mark Somay
We are in a bar in Budapest with the members of a certain rock band, clustered around a group of shot glasses, waiting for the barman to apply a lighter to some lethally inflammable booze. "Don't, whatever you do, drop your glass", warns the barman.
It's a trial by fire (literally), which we'd better pass if we're to impress the man who has agreed to give us his first press interview since 1997. Whatever is in thos shot glasses burns like rocket fuel - and as we're fully intoxicated after too many post-gig
sherries, wwe knock ours over. A sheet of blue fire instantly envelops the table; people dive for cover. It's an epic failure on our part.
In the background, chuckling malevolently into his drink, stands Andrew Eldritch, a shaven-headed cove who doesn't say much at this point, letting his troops do most of the talking for him. The Sisters Of Mercy are one of the most influential alternative rock bands ever to
walk the earth, with their dramatic, dark sound heard echoing in a dozen modern rock and metal acts from Evanescence to Rammstein. And there have been rumours about the unforgiving character of Eldrtich for almost three decades. Tomorrow morning (hangovers permitting) he's
going to allow Classic Rock to see if the rumours are true. If we get out of here alive, that is.
"The world is still pissing on my lawn and parking its tanks on it," Eldritch remarks the next morning, when we ask him how the 10-plus years since his last interview - basically the New Labour era - have treated him. "I'm not looking forward to seeing David Cameron as Prime Minister.
The Tories are the same bunch of spivs that they were last time, and they're going to carry on exactly where they left off. The Lib Dems obviously couldn't run a piss-up in a brewery, although on paper their last manifesto was much more in line with what I would go for, being Old Labour."
Eldritch's left-wing background won't be a surprise to anyone who recalls the grim days of the early 80s when the Sisters Of Mercy formed in Leeds in 1980, the punk movement was an influence on their early sound. The charts were obsesed with the New Romantics and their idiotic nightclub fripperies,
but Eldritch went in a much darker, less digestible direction, writing songs about obsession an addiction in a sparse, guitardriven style. A debut album, First And Last And Always was released in 1985 before the band split. Eldritch re-formed it for 1987's Floodland, a mesmeric blend of
epic orchestration and monochrome introspection that led the media to come up with the wholly regrettable 'goth' tag.
"I've got a dictionary with a whole chunk ripped out around the letter G," Eldritch sighs. "I don't like being a poster boy for something I wholeheartedly disagree with - and, frankly, something that we did for one week. We got co-opted into it. It was probably responsible for a great deal of
financial independence - and thanks for that, people - but on the other hand it is a bit of an albatross."
He won't be drawn into bad-mouthing previous members of the band. When asked about Patricia Morrison, who performed on Floodland before leaving in acrimonious circumstances, he says diplomatically: "I had expected her to be more involved than it turned out she was. Let's leave it at that."
Meanwhile, when the subject of a potential renunion with First And Last And Always guitarist Wayne Hussey comes up, he shrugs: "I don't see the point in those scenarios. They never seems to amount to anything more then one last payday."
This is where the Sisters' story deviates from the norm. Although Eldritch re-formed the band for one more album, 1990's Vision Thing - its anthemic rock sound he explains by saying: "My head was obviously in Def Leppard mode to some extent... not that there's anything wrong with that"
there have since been no more official releases. The Sisters Of Mercy simply didn't feel the desire to churn out more product, he says.
"We've been free from obligations and ties for some time now, and we don't need to make records," says Eldritch. "We certainly haven't had any record company involvement - apart form just greif - since 1991, which is a long time now. A release would be nice as long as it didn't break the bank,
but it could lose us a lot, depending on how we made it. Right now nothing ins particualarly broke, so we're not looking to fix it."
Warming to his theme, he explains: "We've been selling pretty much the same amount of tickets since we stopped making records. Whatever the paradigm is, we do seem to be defeating it. I think it's probably up to you to figure out how and why that is."
Their stance outside the record industry is the end result of many years of deadlock between the Sisters and their last record company, WEA. Refusing to co-operate with their paymaster (of whom Eldritch says: "The reason I got pissed off with the record company was because they ceased to exploit me competently..
not because they ceased to exploit me") but unable to record anywhere else, the band simply stuck to playing the live circuit until the situation was finally resolved, "some time in the mid-90's".
The band, now comprising Eldritch plus guitarists Chris Catalyst and Ben Christo and computer tech Simon Denbigh, continue to tour the world to this day, playing mid-sized venues such as London's Forum and the 800-capacity A38 club in Budapest. The Sisters' website is the only official source of information on the band.
Eldritch dismisses the entire tocuhy-feely web 2.0 concept with the words: "We don't have a Myspace page and we're not on Facebook. We're perfectly capable of running a website, thank you very much, and we don't cherish that mock-interaction with the fans. We're not at pains to explain ourselves."
Despite being in this enviably independent position, the band can't quite escape their old adversaries in the industry: "They re-released our albums a few years ago and they spelled the title of 'Vision Thing' wrong on the spine of the CD," Eldritch sighs, "I would never have let that pass. I was also told
that there's a version of one song which never existed until they started fucking with the masters, which really annoys me. It was made up of out-takes and other bits and pieces!"
Still, the Sisters position is one that many other band can only dream of. The A38 was so stuffed with fans the previous night that the actual floor was juddering, causing CR to edge nervously towards the exist. Most of the fans were teenagers, and many of them were singing the Sisters' lyrics back at them word for word - not
bad for a band whose commercial profile supposedly peaked two decades ago.
"That was very gratifying," Eldritch agrees. "Especially as fo ages now, pretty much hal of our lives set has been made up of unreleased songs - and generally it's different unreleased stuff to last year's unreleased stuff."
Having such a rabid fan base has its downaide, of course, and Eldritch has met some rather extreme diciples in his time, perhaps drawn to the persona awarded to him as the Darth Vader of rock.
"I live very quitely, as reclusively as I can, so I don't get stalked," he says. "But if I did get stalked, I'm in a position where, frankly, I could move countries tomorrow. I have a world view that enables me to do that. I moved to the Netherlands in two days once. I had a business meeting in London and was told: 'You've
got to move somewhere, and you've got until Tuesday.' By Tuesday I had a flat in Amsterdam. Getting stalked is very annoying. We used to have an office in London. Everyone knew where it was, so we'd have Japanese girls crying there all day."
Eldritch is always come across in print as a somewhat dark character ("I always tried to descourage it, but people hear what they expect to hear a lot of the time. I can be pretty moody, I suppose, and I'm not generally the most talkative person"), but face-to-face he doesn't seem that way at all. Ask him about his love of football
and he'll happily tell you, with evident glee: "I went to see Barcelona play Lyon - it was 5-2, after 4-1 at half-time! Top match. Normally I'll be standing in the terrace at St.Pauli, smoking heavily and singing loudly." Ask him why he sports a shaved bonce and he'll explain: "I shaved my head because I wanted to do it before I started
balding. I could feel it coming on. it's low maintenance. I think some of the fans got a bit upset about it, but they're over it now." You can even ask him if he spends any quality time with groupies: "I run away from them, myself. If you go to a bar after the gig, you can end up talking about your lyrics all night." He also confides that
he's partial to a bit of backstage nudity, saying of the two guitarist: "I don't really notice much of a generation difference between us - I think the only thing that bothers them about the generation gap is that I tend to march around the dressing room without any clothes on."
Despite all these details, revealed over almost two hours of conversation, you can't hep but acknowledge that there is indeed a mystique about Andrew Eldritch. There's a lot we don't know about him - and, what's more, we probably never will. He won't do an autobiography. "I can't remember half of it," he shrugs, "and I'm not Dirk Bogarde or
Spike Milligan or any of these people who have written beautiful memoirs, and then you just get people in trouble. I can't count the number of times I've been bad-mouthed in other peoples's books for no good reason."
It's a shame we won't know, because Eldritch has lived a fascinating life. He recalls being asked to interview David Bowie and Leonard Cohen for a US magazine, saying of the latter: "That really was fun, because the man is effortlessly better than you at everything. Everything!" A 1991 tour in the USA with Public Enemy was fraught with bureaucratic idiocy,
he remembers: "The city of Detroit wouldn't let us play anywhere within the city limits. They said: 'We see white people and black people, and that's a recipe for trouble!' We were like: 'Hold on, I think you've got this the wrong way around'. But they weren't having it."
It hasn't all been fun, though. Eldritch is evidently saddened by the death of Israeli singer Ofra Haza, with whom the Sisters recorded a version of Temple Of Love. And touring remains exhausting: "You can have gastroenteritis three times in a month and it will beat the hell out of you - and it has beaten the hell out of me." He still gets stage fright,
saying he gets "terrified, for no reason. It's because I'm not really and extrovert."
Eldritch turns 50 as you read this. Is it a milestone of any importance? "Not particularly. I haven't made any plans, but I might have to think about having sex with somebody," he remarks with an impenetrable grin.
Our interview is over. How has it been, after 12 years of self-imposed silence? "Thank you for a paoinless experience," he replies. And coming from a man who has been the Daniel to the record industry's Goliath for so many years, that's a major compliment.