Add N to (X)
If ADD N TO (X) had lived in the Middle Ages, they would have been playing synthesizers running on lemons. But they're stuck in 2001, so they use vintage synths which crank out experimental yet poppy tunes on "Add Insult To Injury". On stage, though, they still manage to sound like descendants from Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire. Why raise havoc on stage? Why didn't they pick up a guitar? Why, why, why, why echoes through the interview. The answers came back in symptomatic fashion.
Publicatiedatum: 23 februari 2001
Two years ago I saw you at Lowlands. It was extremely loud, to the point I felt somewhat nauseous. Is that what you want to induce?
Steve: "It is symptomatic, really. That is why we like our music."
Ann: "There are live bands that people come to to have a calm evening.
There are bands that cater to people who want to come along and get excited.
And there are bands who cater to people who come along and have an
unforgettable time. That might have something to do with the quality of the
loudness. People choose which bands to go and see depending on what effect
they want. What physical and mental effect they want."
There's no message behind your playing?
Steve: "No. It's always symptomatic. We play the music we want. It sort of fits the
rock 'n' roll arena. It's probably loud. You don't go there to terrorize
people. If that happens from the music then that's symptomatic. We don't
have a program, we're not like noise-terrorists or anything like that."
Barry: "We just play sort of like a rock 'n' roll band, certainly when we play live."
Your last record was more subdued. Was that a conscious decision?
Steve: "No... Well, sort of."
Ann: "You can't really predict what is gonna happen. Nothing you do is
going to be like the last thing you did. It's gonna be compared no matter
what you do but it wasn't a conscious decision."
It seemed as though two groups were working on the record.
Ann "We recorded some of it in France. There shouldn't be a formula to
recording something. Or it's gonna be like Captain Beefheart.... Was it
Captain Beefheart that pulled a shotgun? You can record like that when
you actually have everyone kept in a room with a shotgun so noone can leave.
Or you can record in different areas. There shouldn't be a particular
Are some people easier to work with?
Steve: "We always work with Dean Honer. We get along very well with him... Well, we try to. (laughs)
There have been several comparisons. One of which was Pere Ubu.
Does it surprise you?
Steve: "No, not really... Well, yeah, it does. All comparisons surprise you because you never
set out to sound like... You never think "Oh, this thing sounds like that.". You never
have that in mind when you are making a track."
Ann: "Weren't we gonna play with them?"
Steve: "We were."
You can understand the comparison?
Steve: "Oh yeah, totally. That's why they suggested we play with them. People always
try and make comparisons. That's the nature of music-journalism really:
you try to establish a family-tree or a group of bands that
you can talk about in the same sort of context. But it always comes as a
little bit of a surprise."
What comparisons would you personally make?
Ann: Something like 3000 comparisons. (laughs) Which is good. They could change every week. Which is absolutely fine but..."
Steve: It might be a soundtrack, a noise on the street. Influences come from all over the place, not just sonic."
Ann: "Like a book you might be reading when you go to bed."
Cabaret Voltaire come from the same city...
Steve: "Yeah that would be a more appropriate influence. Definitely that school of
electronica. We all grew up with that post-punk."
Cabaret Voltaire claimed they wouldn't have sounded like they did if they had lived in London. Is that the same for you?
Steve: "There's still an interesting music-scene up there, y'know, against all odds. Like Warp which has moved out. Barry started up a new recordlabel, called Ceercle Records."
With Jarvis Cocker?
Barry: "No, Jarvis helped out a bit."
Ann: "London sort of rides on the back of a lot of things. I don't think
a lot of things happen in London. People just take it for granted it
will. I don't find it really exciting."
Steve: "It is too diverse. You can easily get lost in the wrong direction. There's not a group of people like in Sheffield."
Some of you moved to London?
Steve: "We all live in London. But Barry lived in Sheffield for a bit."
Ann: You go to Sheffield because it's out of London. Out of London you have a
different working attitude. You can start a band with no money, for 600 quid."
Why did you start the label?
Barry: "There are three bands in Sheffield. There's sort of a scene there. Like I said, Warp left. It's the electronic capital of England really. It's got specific people there. Like Cabaret Voltaire. There's quite a lot of history there."
Why is that? The atmosphere of the city?
Barry: "It's just the way people create music. Every city has a rivalry with
London. There's nothing to do there. "
Ann: "Cause it's raining all the time! So people start making music."
Steve: They are very insular. Because of those limitations you are unable to.
Whereas in London there is so much choice. You can't really see the wood
for the trees. As a band we don't really know many other London
bands, we don't really hang out with them. The bands we know are from
Sheffield or from other parts of the country."
Is it an escape from poverty?
Steve: "Sort of. You have limited resources."
Ann: "You become more determined."
Steve: "Yeah, you push what you got until breaking point. You don't just take it
for granted. You don't throw the keyboards. You fiddle with this or that.
You have to work with what you got. By doing that you find an exit, an
Why did you choose keyboards anyway?
Ann: "Hmm, because they were easier to get hold at the time."
Barry: "You sort of wrench the best sounds out. That's what makes it kind of
interesting. There's no way I'd bother to play the guitar. I just don't
understand it. It's nonsense."
Ann: "Nonsense" (laughs)
Barry: "Yes, it is. It is nonsense."
Steve: "Yeah, it's kind of a craft. Where we are more into building blocks, sounds."
A review of Spin claimed "in retrospect your record sounds like nothing more
than 3 punkrock kids discovering a time capsule raided with vintage
synthesizers. In other words all attitude, no aptitude."
Steve: "That's what they said about punk anyway. As long as it's got that energy. We're used to getting that sort of shit."
Ann: "I don't know the difference between a compliment and an insult. So that's fine!"
Maybe they don't understand your sound because they are American?
Barry: "Ah no, not at all. Americans have a traditional way of doing things.
They have have their own particular kind of heroes, like the MC5. And then
punk comes along and destroys that. You know that whole thing about
relating your life to criticism, to something someone says about you, is a
stupid way of living."
How many people are able to go and find a time capsule anyway?
Ann: "I love to! Roman synthesizers. Medieval synthesizers! Powered by
potatoes, no doubt, because they are Roman. You have those radios which are
powered by a lemon or potato."
So you do you consider yourself punk-descendants?
Steve: "Oh it's a massive influence."
Ann: "We're sort of that age bracket."
Steve: "I don't care. We might as well be descendants from Johnny Cash. Yeah, we love punk,
we love that energy. Anything that is doing something different. We don't make it to be different.
We do it because we need to be different for ourselves. If there is no music out there which you
like to hear, you make it."
One of your songs was used for a football ad?
Ann: "Metal fingers?"
Yes, I think that's the song they used. Did they ask you?
Steve: Oh no, they just take it."
Ann: "You get paid for it. Like 40 pence."
Have you heard any of your music used which surprised you?
Steve: "Yeah on a holiday program. (laughs) A program for like Ibiza holidays. Or
Greek islands. It's just weird to hear it anyhow. Like the other day "Plug
me in" was used for a program about the Japanese infatuation with robotics."
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