Oct 2022 11

Raymond Watts once again invites ReGen into his garden of porkly delights, whereupon The Merciless Light darkly shines.
 

 

An InterView with Raymond Watts of PIG

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Perpetually prolific, perhaps prophetic, and painfully poetic, the lard and savior Raymond Watts has shone The Merciless Light upon us. Continuing to pave his own porcine path of industrialized rock and orchestrated audio chaos, PIG remains one of the scene’s most singularly consistent figures; even amid the uncertainty and despair of the global pandemic, even after three-and-a-half decades, the band remains as vicious, vibrant, and vital as ever, so ReGen Magazine is privileged to once again have an opportunity to have the Mighty Swine speak from the sty about his latest slathering of sinister and salacious sounds – from the tetralogy of Tarot to the audiovisual onslaught of teaser videos, the addition of Jim Davies to his malicious musical militia, and even a few words about the reissues of past production work for Judda and Mona Mur, Raymond Watts invites you, ungentle listeners, into his hamstrung and hogly world once more.

 

The pandemic seems to be tapering off, but new variants arise, people are still being afflicted, tours are being planned and cancelled all over again… so, first thing to ask is how are you? You’re looking great in your pics and videos – how is your health?

Watts: Hi Ilker, good to talk to you again. I suppose I should be one of the unknown martyrs to debauchery, but instead, I was sent back from the front labelled ‘missing in action.’ And though I’m not one to ejaculate into the spiritual bedpan of life, it is good to be able to ‘right size’ what’s important now… not being tied by an umbilical cord to a mirror and a razor blade helps in that department. Though I can still impale myself on life’s pain, I drink deeply on its pleasures.

You’ve been extremely prolific since 2015 with numerous EPs, collaborations, and The Merciless Light being your latest album. As the new material was created in the midst of lockdowns, in what ways do you feel the global situation affected your songwriting? Was there an imperative for you to address some of those more serious topics, or did you feel it was more important to emphasize the more sardonic and ‘sarcastic’ side of PIG’s music?

Watts: I think there may be elements of satire and personification in the lyrical content of what I do, but there is no sarcasm intended at all. I have always thought that sarcasm was the lowest form of wit. Obviously, the global situation has a bearing on how I’m feeling, but I honestly don’t analyze where my words or music come from. If I did that, it might scare them away! The creative ghost that visits me only comes because I’m not waiting for it or looking for it. It’s obviously a part of me, but it’s a deeply unconscious thing.

New to the PIG camp on this album is Jim Davies, best known as the former guitarist for The Prodigy, Pitchshifter, and Victory Pill, and now also a label mate on Armalyte Industries. Would you first tell us about how the two of you encountered each other and how this cooperation came about?

Watts: Jim did a remix of ‘Seed of Evil’ (a song I wrote with the fabulous John Fryer) for the PIG album Pain Killer. I really liked his work on it, so we met up and I told him of this lyrical idea I had for a song called ‘Glitz Krieg,’ gave him a rough idea of melody/tempo/time signature and the general feel of it, and Jim came back with the music – fully formed and fighting fit! We were off and running. Jim doesn’t fuck around; he brings a different flavor of bricks, but they all help build the house of PIG. Also, he doesn’t live far away, so we can get together and actually work side by side, which has been great. The guy’s a fucking machine and he never grinds his gears.

 

 

Jim has a very distinct punk-like approach to songwriting and playing guitar, while also creating very interesting ‘electronic guitar’ sounds. PIG has traditionally had a much more bombastic and heavily orchestrated style. Mind you, those are just personal observations/perceptions of your music. Anyway, what sorts of challenges did the two of you come across in incorporating each other’s styles into the new PIG album? Was there perhaps an imperative to make a more urgent and punk-like sound for PIG this time around?

Watts: Actually, there was no imperative at all to do anything! Since I started doing PIG stuff again, the one thing I do is just let it go where it goes, work with people who I really respect, like, and feel comfortable with. I left that poisonous atmosphere of previous working relationships a long time ago. It’s a much more natural process now, and I can honestly say there were no challenges incorporating Jim’s style. If an idea wasn’t working, we’d just leave it and move on.

Prior to The Merciless Light, you’d released four EPs as part of a tarot series – would you tell us more about how this idea came about, and what significance the tarot holds for you, not just as it pertains to PIG, but in your life… if at all?

Watts: Giles at Armalyte came up with the idea for the Tarot cards. He has a feverishly creative mind, and we were having one of our meetings (which are basically excuses to eat loads of cake) and he suggested them. I’d think about images that might work, then talk to Vlad McNeally (the current PIG artist in residence), who’d make them reality, and it became a series which we turned into some lovely download cards and prints.
I think they’re very beautiful things, and to me, they represent and make tangible what I pertain to be much looser abstractions and concepts. It doesn’t interest me whether people believe they gain insight into the past, present, or future.

Along with the full video for ‘The Dark Room’ (and ‘Speak of Sin’ from the Baptise Bless & Bleed EP), the album has been teased by some snippet videos created with Mark Alan Griffiths. Are there plans for any of these snippets to be fleshed out into full-length videos?

Watts: There aren’t plans to extend the snippets into full videos, they are fully formed as they are!

 

 

The MTV generation is long over, but in the days of YouTube and livestreaming, what are your thoughts on the significance of music videos – both as a promotional tool and as an art form unto themselves? Or to put it another way, do you have a philosophy around the visual presentation of PIG and how it complements or strengthens the music?

Watts: Yes, I do of course have a very strong idea (not philosophy) around the PIG visuals, but like the music, it’s a constantly morphing and mutating organism that shifts and sometimes goes a bit wrong, and that’s often where the interesting stuff happens.
I’m lucky enough to work with artists like Gabriel Edvy, Mark, and Vlad, who are as patient with me as they are talented and often my ridiculous ideas need to be bashed severely into shape to be made reality. Although collaboration is the key, mostly I stand well back and let them get on with it.

Among the numerous releases over the last few years has been the remaster of Wrecked. Are there plans (or at least hopes) to do the same for other entries in your past discography?
The same question for music videos – some of those old videos hold a special place in the hearts of many a PIG fan, like ‘Painiac’ or ‘Everything,’ yet they seem to be of very poor quality on YouTube. Any possibility of those getting an HD remaster?

Watts: I will be re-releasing some of the older catalog, but the wheels turn slowly and there’s so much new stuff always happening. I’ve been trying to track down Philip Richardson who made some of the older PIG videos to get the masters digitized, but I can’t find him anywhere! I see that old VHS quality to them as just the patina of time and place and inherent to their DNA now.

In 2015, the JUDDA album was released, for which you did some production and remix work, and now, recordings of the Mona Mur Band from ’84-’86 are being released.
After so many years, what are your thoughts on some of these old recordings? Any experiences or memories that you’d like to share about them? One wonders why they weren’t released in the first place. Any thoughts as to why they weren’t?
Are there any other recordings you were involved in that you would like to see the light of day?

Watts: I am so happy to see Mona’s material finally released! I love that band. I was working really closely with them all at that time. Mufti (FM Einheit of Neubauten) and I spent loads of time in the studio doing experimental stuff and he played in my ‘other’ band Rotting Sausage that dissolved in an acid bath after one show with Laibach in 1984. Alex Hacke (Neubauten) played guitar on the first PIG album, Siewert Johannsen played in the PIG live band, Nikko Weidemann played on the first PIG album (A Poke in the Eye). We all hung out together even when we weren’t working or gigging. Mona I’ve known for years and it’s great to see her producing so much stuff now. They were heady times back then, and it’s a bit of tragedy it’s taken nearly 40 years for those recordings to see the light of day, but better late than never.
Likewise, the Judda recordings were great, and the band represented the zeitgeist perfectly. I was honestly a little surprised how fucking good the mixes sounded when I first heard them again after so many years!
Of course, there are many recordings that I’ve made as PIG and with others that haven’t been released for one reason or another and I have boxes of DATs and cassettes of weird old stuff… most of which is probably best left well alone. But there is one band that I remember recording in the early ’80s called The Real Traitors, and wow… they left everyone for dead. I’ve worked with a lot of bands that were supposed to be pretty extreme (Psychic TV, Zos Kia, Abwärts, Neubauten, Sprung aus den Wolken, KMFDM, Matador, and others), but these two guys from New Zealand made the most brutal, screaming cry of agonized blissful terror and beauty that I’ve ever had the privilege of working on. I wonder what happened to them. It seems like they were just too good for this mortal plain and the gods took their noise away to a place where only they could heckle them and scream endlessly for more… the selfish fuckers.

 

 

We’d talked a little bit before about the difficulties of touring in the post-pandemic world. As some time has passed, and we have vaccines, variants, and vexations – tours happening, getting cancelled, being rescheduled, etc., I know it’s early days as the album is just out as I write this, but what are your current plans regarding touring?

Watts: I’m in a zone where I want to keep writing and flow with that at the moment. I might tour, but there are a lot of hoops to jump through and that’s not my strong point.

Outside of music, what do you most enjoy now? Walks in the park, spending time with family, reading, art, etc. What is giving you the most pleasure right now?

Watts: That’s interesting as when I’ve not been in the studio or in Europe with friends this year, I’ve been hoovering up loads of different cultural stuff recently. Last night, I was at the ABBA show Voyage. It’s interesting stuff and could be gamechanger – a live band, but ABBA are avatars with their vocals recorded, so I think we’re going see a lot of that live/digital hybrid stuff in the future.
I’ve also been going to the opera recently, a lot of Puccini. It’s just the apotheosis of melodrama, music, costumes, simultaneously ridiculous and fabulous, topped off with the most amazing vocal performances.
Living in London, I’m lucky enough to be in a city where art galleries and museums are constantly putting on new shows, but my main pleasure is the company of my partner Suzi, my friends, and good food… and our dogs!

Are there any other projects – PIG-related or otherwise – that you have in the works or nearing release that you’d like to tell us about?

Watts: New PIG is cooking and coming.
Good talking to you as ever Ilker.

 

 

 

PIG
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
Metropolis Records
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
Armalyte Industries
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram

 

Photography by E. Gabriel Edvy – courtesy of Blackswitch Labs

 

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