#WaxTraxFriday - Acid Horse "No Name, No Slogan"
An interview with Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire / Wrangler
2019 is the 30th anniversary
of Acid Horse
's No Name, No Slogan
single. It was basically a collaboration between Revolting Cocks
(1989) and Cabaret Voltaire
. But how did this single come about? Why was it originally shrouded in mystery and
gave a little insight in his Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible & Fried: My Life as a
book and we hope to publish an interview with him later this year. But today, CyberNoise
publishes an exclusive interview
with Stephen Mallinder
talking about early Cabaret Voltaire
, Acid Horse
and what he's been up to recently.
Interview conducted 15th February 2019
[CyberNoise] Hi Stephen. We wanted to have a chat about yourself, what you do now but most importantly the Wax Trax! Acid Horse single. We're looking to do a range of interviews with different people
with Wax Trax! releases that have got big anniversaries this year and obviously the Acid Horse is one of those with its 30th anniversary this year.
Well yes, if I can remember everything about it.
[CyberNoise] You were born in Sheffield, the home of early electronic music in the UK. I just wanted to know. You founded Cabaret Voltaire in 1973, I believe, and things started to happen in Sheffield
from that point onwards, especially taking off in the late 70s. How much were you involved in that whole scene? I mean were you going to the gigs of those other bands or did you know them personally? Or?
Well, there wasn't a scene until we kinda started really. There was obviously, we were a little bit older, not much older than some of those other bands, but yea, I mean there was no music scene until
that particular period you know. And not that I'm saying that we were responsible for there being a scene with all those other bands but it was synchronous in the sense that, you know, those things
popped up at the same time and we would were just ahead of the curve in doing things. But yes, we knew, and still know, all those guys. Adi (Newton) [Clock DVA] was at our (Wrangler) ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) gig last week. Martyn
(Ware) and Glenn (Gregory) [Heaven 17]. We still know, everyone's still floating around, we all live in different parts of the
world but yea still sort of around – that was part of the whole thing it was quite a localised scene really.
[CyberNoise] Do you know roughly when, I believe you established the Western Works studio and you did that with Chris Watson?
Yes, it was me, Richard (H. Kirk) and Chris (Watson), that was it. Originally, we used to do stuff in Chris' loft and then we
finally got a rehearsal space because Chris' loft was just too small and miles away and impractical, so, Western Works was the old Young Socialists headquarters and we, they were kinda moving out, or
disbanding, or whatever they were doing, and we, it was more, it wasn't exactly a squat but it was like, you know, slum landlord rates then I think. So, we started it, yes.
[CyberNoise] Do you know roughly when that was because I couldn't find a date for it?
We moved in, in probably about 77 I would think, it would have been, maybe 76. I must admit I can't remember but a lot of the first EP was done
– I think the first EP, trying to remember, might have been done, yea we did do it in Western Works so it would have been about 76/77 when we moved in there, yea.
[CyberNoise] You were one of the founders of the Double Vision label – is that true?
Yea, yea. Me and Richard and Paul Smith started Double Vision. It was a, yea I mean we, Paul wanted to do stuff with us but we were all we were kinda in a, Chris had
left the band. It was just me and Richard at this time. This is about 1981/82, Paul wanted to do stuff – I'm not quite sure what the whole thing, that we decided to do a video label, but we were just
in the process of, we had signed a deal with Some Bizzare at the same time so we ran the two things parallel. So, we signed to Virgin through Some Bizzare and setup the video label at the same time. And Virgin were really good – I guess they were smart enough to know that keeping a band like us
it was better to embrace our, sort of, independence, sort of kinda maverick approach, rather than corral it. So they were quite happy for us to do independent stuff that wasn't suited, to say, to
Virgin. So, we did do the videos, we set up the video label set it all up like that. And it was the UK's first ever independent video label – yes, that's why we started that.
[CyberNoise] And the whole thing there was that it was video and audio/vinyl of course. CyberNoise does a lot of discographies and collector's information and Double Vision is very collectable. It
looks like quite a lot of the videos you put out were put out on VHS and Betamax – would that be correct?
Yea, we would have done some on Betamax but it was mostly VHS culture in those days – that started to sort of fade away as well as a format really, so yea we did all that and records as well. It was,
the initial idea was that the records would sort of mirror or complement the videos. We wanted, we were more interested in doing videos but use the label as a kind of complementary side to them. So
that's why Johnny YesNo, for example, came out on video and we released the soundtrack
as well for it, so it was done like that. But then again, we obviously, we did, we ended up doing sort of separate records that weren't totally enmeshed with the video side of it. That's how we did
it. But it was just to keep our interest in that – we knew that being on a major label was kind of restricting in certain respects, it was good in some respects as it gave us access and budgets to do
the things we wanted to but the more looser stuff we were able to kind of shift over to Double Vision, that was the idea.
[CyberNoise] That's good background information – thank you. So, in early 1989 we know that Cabaret Voltaire travelled to Chicago to record the Groovy, Laidback And Nasty album…
You know it didn't have a name then, the name of the album came just before, we didn't have a name for the album until just before release. It
was actually, I think it was named after two of Richard's cats. The album, the name was given to us by Sim (Lister) from Chakk
(and FON Studios). Sim thought up the name of the album so that's why that album was called that. We were in Chicago doing that and we were working with Marshall
Jefferson doing that, working with a lot of the house guys so we kind of connected with Sleezy D., Marshall, Larry, Kim
(Myzalle), people like that, so all those Chicago people yea, all the house guys that were over there doing that at that time.
[CyberNoise] And do you know whereabouts you were recording?
Ha-ha! I can't remember the studio name. Studios are really weird in Chicago cos Chicago sort of, we weren't aware, cos we went over to do the album with Marshall and it was like, well, studios, yea
this is, thinking about it now it's kinda weird in the sense that studios weren’t as we understood them. I guess there were kind of recording studios but Chicago bands didn't really record – Chicago
studios were actually designed and set-up, not for music but for the TV industry.
Even though in terms of filming Hollywood and California is seen as the home of television, or New York, etc but Chicago was actually the place where a lot of TV recording went on so adverts and
dubbing and all that. So, they were actually commercial studios, not music studios, more built/geared to that. So, we couldn't – they were all booked out in the day, we couldn't use them because they
would be used for commercial reasons, we used to work, worked in – I can't remember which studio it was – it was a big 24 track studio but a commercial studio right in the heart of Chicago near
Lakeside Drive – can't remember the name of it – and you know we could only use it at night or at weekends when they weren't in it.
So, we spent, we probably spent, a few weeks there, about three weeks probably. We spent about a month in Chicago, about three weeks doing the album, but doing it at night time. And that's why we
ended up doing stuff with Al (Jourgensen) and Chris (Connelly) doing Acid Horse – we came out purely for the reason that there
were some days where we couldn't do anything in the day – Marshall was doing a bit of stuff and we wouldn't get in the studio, so, I can't remember how, I think Al had figured out we were there, so Al
got in touch maybe through people in the UK going "oh you know the guys are here, I'm here" sort of thing so we socialized a bit with Al as well as with Marshall.
We had this really twin Chicago experience because those two worlds were completely separate. The Wax Trax! world had come from a whiter more hardcore, obviously electronic in some respects, not rock
'n' roll but it came more from that side. But we were working with the black musicians so we had this strange, it was great, best of both worlds. We were with what are now these amazing characters,
that created a lot of the Chicago sound and we were hanging out with them and friends of them and then the other side of the coin, these people who, I don't think Al was even aware of people like
Marshall Jefferson and probably couldn't work out why we were there cos they knew us as from more of the slightly earlier stuff, the independent stuff but obviously we'd been doing stuff with John Robie and (Afrika) Bambaataa and we'd done electro stuff. So, we had connected with quite a lot of the black American musicians
from that period in the mid to late 80s. And worked with American producers and DJs and whatever. So, we had this twin existence, it was great but we did the Acid Horse because we had a bit of
downtime, and we had a bit of time, we'd be round at Al's place hanging out and partying and all that stuff. So, there was a big social angle to it and it came out of that.
[CyberNoise] Chris Connelly has written an autobiography, I don't know if you've read it?
[CyberNoise] Well in that he says that Marshall Jefferson had food poisoning so that's why you had a bit of downtime.
Oh yes! That's right! Marshall did have food poisoning – glad he remembers that – Chris is better at remembering shit than I am. I did actually do a vocal for Chris' last solo album a few years ago
but I've not been in touch with him – we found each other through mutual connections. I'm glad he remembers it and his memory is better than mine and I didn't take note at that point in time.
[CyberNoise] So that fact is backed up?
Yes, yes. Marshall spent a lot of his time, he did have a bad stomach, and he spent a lot of his time drinking, I guess it's like Rennie's over here [in the UK], liquid Rennie's, but they call it
Mylanta, and it's like an antacid. Marshall did have a bad stomach a lot of the time we were there so yea he did suffer from it. I think, having a few cheeseburgers didn't help, but all that sounds
about right, yes. You'll probably have to defer and cross reference what I say with Chris' biography in case my memory doesn't align with what he says.
[CyberNoise] Well, so far so good. On the back of the Acid Horse vinyl/CD single it states the five members as pseudonyms as Harold Sandoz, Alien Dog Star, Tennessee King, Biff and "Gallopin" Scorpio
[laughs] I was Biff.
[CyberNoise] Yours was Biff? Right, well this is what I'd like to clarify…
Richard would have been Sandoz because he used the Sandoz name for his solo work, so the last one, the flamboyant one you just said I'm sure was Jourgensen, it's got to have been Al, but I don't know
[CyberNoise] We definitely know Harold Sandoz is Richard H. Kirk, we know Alien Dog Star is Al Jourgensen, "Gallopin" Scorpio Saddlebutt is Chris Connelly but there are two different options for the
other two. There's what's on Chris Connelly's web site and what's on Wikipedia. You've got Tennessee King being Paul Barker and Biff being yourself [on Wikipedia]. But Chris Connelly's web site says
Tennessee King is you and Biff is Bill Rieflin, now…
Well I was "Biff". My memory, I can remember calling myself Biff. We had to do this for legal reasons to be quite honest so that we didn't get sued. I don't think lawyers are going to chase me down
now for a hundred quid but the reason we did it was because we were contracted to EMI – they had paid for us to go over there and do this album so contractually we
were told by our management, no you can't do anything else cos EMI are gonna fucking flip if they find out you were in the states doing records that you're going to make money from or another label is
going to make money from, contractually/legally it was very, we were on slightly thin ice, so we gave ourselves pseudonyms and we weren't able to use our own names. I guess as the record came out and
we were disguised with these pseudonyms but everyone knew it was us, it was just that we got deniability [laughs] that's why we did it, in case EMI chased us.
[CyberNoise] So, you seem to remember yourself as "Biff"?
I'm sure – I'm certain of that, yes. I don't even recognise the other name.
[CyberNoise] So that just leaves – I don't know if you can remember – whether it was Paul Barker there or Bill Rieflin?
I thought it was Paul Barker that was there actually. From memory, I'm pretty sure it was Paul Barker.
[CyberNoise] Well that ties up with one of the web sites. And I've got an interview with Chris Connelly lined up so I can flip that around and see if he can…
Yes, let him verify some of my sketchy memory…
[CyberNoise] Yes. Okay. Will do. And obviously the band name, Acid Horse, seems to refer to slang terms for various drugs - acid being LSD and horse being heroin. Does that match up? Is that where the
name came from?
I think it's a little more simplistic than that – it was a pun on "acid house".
[CyberNoise] Right, more on that than the drugs?
Yes, I think so, we were working with house music but then again, taking into account, another level of Al and everything, that it is obviously open to interpretation but I never thought about it that
much to be quite honest with you. There might have been that level but definitely the "acid house" level was more the reason.
[CyberNoise] Chris Connelly does state in his biography that he was the one that did the main vocals – is that something that you remember?
I'm not going to argue with that – I can't remember [laughs] who did vocals on it.
[CyberNoise] I believe you laid down the main track and then there's the Al Jourgenson and Paul Barker produced side and then the Cabaret Voltaire produced side. And I believe your side, you took the
track back to the UK and then worked on it and then sent it back to them. Or do you remember differently?
Yea, yea. We just put drum machine tracks on. From memory we didn't change things too much. And so that's what we did. Our mix didn't shift it much from what it was, from the spirit of what had been
done originally in the studio.
[CyberNoise] Were you involved at all with the release? I guess you couldn't promote it?
We couldn't promote it. Remember this was at a time where records kind of promoted themselves in a certain respect in that it was enough to bring the record out. There wasn't a band or an album and so
there wasn't a kind of thing around it. The record was an end in itself and it was out there. And people got what they wanted out of it. I think nowadays people would be fearful of bringing a record
out without actually doing a lot around it but in those days, you could bring a record out and you could still get at least some recognition and acknowledgement, reviews and people heard about and
people stocking it and selling. And so, it did its job.
[CyberNoise] But you can't remember when it was actually released? I've been trying to hunt down an actual release date for it but no luck so far.
I would expect only Wax Trax! could tell you that. I can't remember. We were back in the UK when it came out so it's second hand knowledge. I couldn't' tell you when it was released exactly. I think
it must have come out pretty quickly as there wasn't a campaign around it once the tracks were done. There was an infrastructure in place to bring records out quite quickly so I would imagine it would
have come out within six months. It's not like nowadays or it wasn't on a major label where it was like, we need to base a whole campaign around it and we can't release this around Christmas time.
We'd have just been, bang it out and see what happens. And in the bang it out and see what happens kind of culture it means you bring stuff out quite quickly.
[CyberNoise] And definitely at that point in time that was absolutely Wax Trax!'s game especially with Al and all the different offshoots and collaborations.
Yes, Revolting Cocks and all that, those things were going on. It was done in the spirit of the time really in that we got together, had a laugh, did a bit of
partying, we had a bit of time, got together, it was really good fun and made a record. And that was it. Deconstructing it now, bits come together but I do remember it being pretty good fun, yeah!
[CyberNoise] When were you aware of Wax Trax!? Were you aware of the label/shop?
Yea, yea. We had played the Cabaret Metro a few times and we used to go into the shop years ago. When we played in Chicago in the early to mid 80s we knew them,
they were great to us and I think they distributed and/or stocked some of our early stuff on Rough Trade so we had a good relationship with them and whenever we saw
them they were really nice to us and looked after us. So, it [Acid Horse] didn't come out of nowhere for us with them, it was quite a straight forward sort of thing. A lot of understanding and support
on both sides and we were really happy that we were able to do it, we were really chuffed to do it cos as I say we were in with the house guys but it was nice to maintain our connection and everything
with the other guys. It was all good.
[CyberNoise] Moving forward to more recently and now. You are involved in two fairly big projects at the moment which are Wrangler and Creep Show. Would you like to take us through how those came
about and what is happening with them now?
The Wrangler thing, we've been doing the Wrangler stuff for around 7 years I believe. That came about because, there's me, Phill
(Winter) and Benge (Ben Edwards) in the band, Phill and I have known each other since about 1982. Phill was best friends and
I grew up with him and he worked at Virgin when we signed to Virgin so going back to that period of Double Vision and all that. Rob Collins, who now runs a big label
here in the UK called Cooking Vinyl, but at the time he was working for Virgin, he was really into it and he was the one of the people at Virgin going sign these
people and sign those people and he ended up jumping ship from Virgin and working with us at Some Bizzare. He became part of the family and Phill was friends with him and had known each other since
that time, around 1982/83, and I've always stayed in touch with Phill wherever I was we always hooked up and jammed and played chords and did a bit of DJing and he was working with Benge and they've
got this mad electronic thing going on and he went come and join us, come down to the studio and mess around. So I did.
The first time I went I thought I was just going to look at the studio, Benge's studio was in Hoxton but now it's in Cornwall, and is kind of one of the most bespoke electronic music studios in the
world, so Phill was come along, it's going to blow your mind, and so that was it, I just turned up one day and the first day I went up to see them we made the first record which was the Mind Your Own Sequence EP and we were just messing and we did quite a lot of tracks, but we ended up doing more remixes in the first period. Cos we
were doing mixes for John Foxx, LoneLady, Gazelle Twin, Section 25, Bomb The Bass. Because I had lots of connections, we all had lots of connections, it was sort of like a strange
electronic trio that was doing weird things and we really started out doing lots of remixes but then in the meantime we realized we'd got loads of tracks together and so we could bring an album out,
which became LA Spark. Started playing and that was it.
And so this is now our fourth album that we've just finished now called Situation which we've just signed to Bella Union now and probably stuff will be coming out later on in the year and the album will follow on towards the end of the year/beginning of next. The album's done
we're just finishing remixes and videos and things. So that's a full ongoing thing now and it will be out later in the year.
Creep Show's connected to that in that John (Grant) is a massive Cabs fan and who is obviously the fulcrum that Creep Show
revolves around, although I shouldn't say that, we are a band and he does get treated as a band member but we do work really well as a band, it's something we all enjoy, particularly John. John's an
old fan and had actually met him years and years ago through Cocteau Twins because I know, and am good friends with, Robin
(Guthrie) and Liz (Elizabeth Fraser), back in the day all the 4AD people, so I did meet him many years ago but then he turned up
at Sensoria, we were playing a gig with Chris And Cosey, and he appeared at the sound check. And we were like, fucking hell that's John Grant, and
that was the first connection we made.
And then he, I can't remember what happened after that, he stayed in touch and we did a remix for him off his Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
album, he invited us to come and play at the Albert Hall with him, which was like a real buzz because it was like, otherwise we'd never get to play the Albert Hall,
so we played the Albert Hall and then not much later, probably about six months after that, Rough Trade got in touch and the reason Creep Show came about was that they said we're putting together old
and new artists from the original Rough Trade because it was their 40th anniversary, this was about two years ago, and so we're putting some original artists together with people that are part of
their legacy, so Scritti Politti and Hot Chip, The Pop Group and originally was Fat White Family but it ended up being a political rock band from Detroit, and John Grant with me representing Cabaret Voltaire,
because obviously Cabaret Voltaire was the first domestic release on Rough Trade.
So, they put us together with John and we ended up, well we weren't quite sure how we were going to do it, Rough trade wanted us to play last, we're headlining the Barbican a big massive London venue
so we thought well we don't want to do old Cabs numbers or anything like that so we decided to write an entire set from scratch. We worked away for a while, John did a little bit and then we all got
together and we mashed up all the tunes we had done. So, we ended up quite quickly in two sessions having about seven or eight numbers, it was the basis of the set, which we played live and then went,
well, we can't put this to waste let's make an album out of it.
We did an album (Mr Dynamite) and then after much wrangling - ha! - and gnashing of teeth we finally came out with the name Creep Show. The
only thing was, it was brilliant when the album worked out so well and we really loved it, but we were finishing our Wrangler album originally for Minimal Wave in New
York but now we're going with Bella Union. John was doing his new album for Simon, and we kind of did the album, released it, then went our separate ways to do our own projects but that is now coming
back home to full fruition and I'm currently looking through the dates as we've got about a twelve date Creep Show tour of UK, Ireland and wherever sometime around September/October this year so we'll
actually be playing as Creep Show.
[CyberNoise] Any European dates, perhaps Prague maybe?
People seem to be quite keen for us to do gigs so hopefully there will be some European dates depending on everybody's schedule but, yes, once we start doing gigs we might be able to set more up. I
know we're playing Dublin and Glasgow.
[CyberNoise] Obviously here in Prague it's a lovely place but we don't get a lot of electronic music artists playing here.
I'd love to come so yea, yea Creep Show would love to come over there, no problem [laughs]
[CyberNoise] It's great to hear that new Wrangler material is on the way.
We're really keen. We started it, actually I'd say we finished it over a year ago in essence because we were doing it for Minimal Wave for Veronika (Vasicka) in New
York but she wasn't as keen on it from the record that she expected so we were a little disappointed but initially it was just a vinyl release so we decided to add a few more tracks and do a bigger
[CyberNoise] Minimal Wave is a brilliant label but they're quite specific as to the sort of stuff that they release and how and what they do.
…actually the irony is that we did the extra tracks and sent them over to Veronica in good faith as a kind of just to let you know, sorry it didn't work out but here's the new stuff
we've done and she went, it's fucking brilliant can I bring it out and we're like, er, sorry no we've signed to Bella Union [laughs].
[CyberNoise] Oh no! [laughs]
We're still in touch and everything's okay. I'm just finishing up my own album off and I'll probably send her that to see if she's
into it. But yes, they are very specific – it's a label culture and we don't need that, we want our own Wrangler culture perhaps, but we like working with labels, it all ended fine. Much respect to
her with what she's done with that label.
[CyberNoise] Yes, Veronica has done an amazing job with Minimal Wave – we love that label. Stephen Mallinder, thank you very much for your time and good luck with your music in the future.
Acid Horse - No Name, No Slogan UK reissue 12" single on Devotion
The two Acid Horse
tracks are available digitally on the following releases:
Support musicians and legally buy some new music :-)