Marc Heal, M.C. Lord of the Flies speaks with ReGen on his reunion with Raymond Watts, the Lord of Lard, and just what kept them both incommunicado from the music scene for a whole decade.
An InterView with Marc Heal (M.C. Lord of the Flies)
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Earlier this year, an album was released via the UK industrial label Armalyte that signalled the return of two of the underground music scene’s most revered, most acerbic, and most enigmatic entities – Compound Eye Sessions, by PIG vs. M.C. Lord of the Flies, the latter being a new moniker from producer/vocalist Marc Heal, formerly of Cubanate. In their respective bands, Raymond “PIG” Watts and Heal created their own brands of influential industrialized rock, each drawing on and mangling the conventions of music into a sound that continues to define and drive the scene today. Although Heal has been an active player behind-the-scenes as a producer, it’s been well over a decade since either he or Watts ever stood so prominently in the spotlight – not since the 2005 release of PIG’s Pigamata. Now, M.C. Lord of the Flies speaks with ReGen on his reunion with the Lord of Lard, letting us in on some of the circumstances behind both artists’ absence and return to recording Compound Eye Sessions for an eagerly awaiting audience.
Tell us about how you both came to work together. You had done some programming and production on PIG’s last album over a decade ago. In what ways did the experience of Pigmartyr/Pigamata affect your working dynamic with each other on the Compound Eye Sessions?
Anyway, after that, I didn’t see Raymond for a long time. Then one day in early 2012, I ran into him in the bar at Fortress. He seemed low; couldn’t get anywhere with his album. And he hadn’t released anything since Pigamata.
Well, by then I’d decided to quit music as well, but I had some ideas floating about, so I offered to help. The dynamic was very different this time around. We were both fathers by then. No drugs, working sensible hours. I was producing this time. I was very aware that I needed to work with PIG, rather than rubbing against the grain, but equally, I had far greater control, so things moved faster. It was much better.
I understand that the original plan for these songs when they were first being written/recorded was to complete a new PIG album, which changed after you relocated to Singapore. What can you tell us about how the shape of the individual tracks changed from the original plan into what they are now on Compound Eye Sessions?
When I moved out east, the whole project went on ice. I was wrapped up in finishing my book anyway. There wasn’t enough material to do separate releases from either of us and since I was on the other side of the world, I couldn’t see how we could do any more.
Then I realized that the whole process had been so organic that it was right to release the songs as a record of the sessions, rather than leaving them as unfinished fragments to go into different albums.
While Pigamata was being recorded, Eden had left the U.K. In a bizarre coincidence, when I got to Singapore, I found that I was working next door; I mean, literally next door to his studio. From my office I could see the empty Scotch bottles and Rubber Johnnies piled up outside his window. I thought there was an amusing symmetry with the previous PIG album. So, Eden polished off a couple of mixes out in Singapore.
Will we be hearing anymore from these sessions, or is what we’ve heard on this album all you’re willing to share?
Heal: There’s the scraps I’ve told you about, but that’s about it.
What are your thoughts on the way music-making technology (i.e. instruments, recording equipment, etc.) has developed? In what ways do you feel it has been a benefit to both veterans and up-and-comers? In contrast, in what ways do you feel it’s been a detriment?
How do you feel all of this applies to how you approached the tracks on Compound Eye Sessions and the material you’re currently working on?
Heal: I used to get nostalgic for analogue. I still do, but I’m finally resolved with digital. I like being so portable. But the fact is that the enemy I face is not technology but time. I work. I run a bunch of studios. I write. I want to spend time with my kids. Music takes up time. Where do I find it?
Over the last few years, it seems that many groups and artists have begun to reunite and make music again; if you had to guess, what would you attribute this to with regards to other acts? Speaking for yourself, because you’ve been active mainly behind the scenes over the years, what prompted you to step up to the mic and release new material of your own again?
As for me, I never wanted to sing again. It was only being stuck in an empty studio waiting for Watts, with an eager engineer and guitarist looking at me expectantly. I thought, ‘better do something then.’
In the album’s press release, you mention that you ‘miss the authority of a record label.’ While record labels have not been phased out of existence just yet, what are your thoughts on the state of the music business and how things progressed to this current state?
Heal: Who am I to judge? For people like me, the industry is in a better state now than it’s been for a long time. But that’s because I was lucky enough to have been in it when there was money around.
But I like having someone to nudge me on the business front. I liked working with Giles at Armalyte on Compound Eye Sessions. I need someone to prod and nag me.
Do you have any thoughts or predictions on where things will be developing in the years to come? If so, how do you think this will affect your approach to making music?
Heal: I think that as streaming becomes ubiquitous, the money to be made from recorded music will diminish even further. It won’t affect me at all; I’m semi-retired from it all. I just do what I want, when I want, or when I have time.
You’ve hinted that Cubanate will be releasing a retrospective/remaster collection this year; working with Phil Barry on that as well as having him remix one of your songs on Compound Eye Sessions, what is the working dynamic like between you two now vs. when Cubanate was active?
What is the potential for you two to work together on new material, either as Cubanate or under a different moniker?
Heal: I get on well with Phil. Our relationship is like a divorced couple who have long ago made up – for the sake of the children, you understand? I’m rather proud that he’s got a lively new act, though I’m amused they still cover old Cubanate tracks.
I’m more relaxed about playing the old Cubanate stuff now and I definitely want to do a retrospective album. I would like to remaster the old songs. Although Cubanate had our limitations, we punched above our weight. We were ahead of our time and influential.
I’m not sure that we’ll work on new stuff. You could call it Cubanate, but it would be something different. We’re different. The world has changed. You have to move on.
PIG Website http://theswining.com
PIG Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theswining
PIG Twitter https://twitter.com/raymondwatts
PIG SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/raymondwatts
PIG Bandcamp https://raymondpigwatts.bandcamp.com/releases
Marc Heal Twitter https://twitter.com/Marc_Heal
Marc Heal SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/marc-heal