Jun 2024 19

New music abounds from the PIGsty as Raymond Watts reveals a new collaboration with REVillusion, and speaks about his latest albums and more!
 

 

An InterView with Raymond Watts of PIG

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Never one to shy away from the pleasures of sin, Raymond Watts seems all too happy to satisfy our gluttony. 2024 has seen not only the release of his latest album under the unholy moniker of PIG, Red Room, but also a deluxe edition of the legendary PIG vs. KMFDM EP, Sin Sex & Salvation, now expanded into a full album. Now, with a North American tour announced, the Lord of Lard simply won’t desist as he delivers yet more venomous victuals upon us, as June 19 sees the release of his latest collaboration with fellow industrial/rock outfit REVillusion.
“Dirty Demonic & Damned” follows up on the “King of Everything” single released earlier this year, which featured the “One Woman Army” and member of the PIG choir I Ya Toyah, offering up more of what REVillusion’s forthcoming Lockdown Sessions album has in store. Written by REVillusion founder Brian E. Carter, the song also marks the band’s second collaboration with Watts, who had appeared on 2019’s HEART(less) on “Pure Pollution,” later remixing the song in his own PIG style on the subsequent companion album HEART(less): Revisions & Additions. Complete with a lyric video created by Melody Myers, Watts explains that the lyrics for “Dirty Demonic & Damned” came to him upon hearing Carter’s music, with the latter saying, “This is the sort of outcome REVillusion lives for: a true collaboration,” with Watts also contributing additional synth and backing guitar to the song.
 
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Amid so much activity, ReGen is privileged that the Mighty Swine was kind enough to take the time to speak with us about his new music and more. He tells us of his working partnership with Jim Davies, his numerous collaborations on Red Room and beyond, the grim realities of touring, loving words for departed friend and Schwein bandmate Atsushi Sakurai, and to his audience… you are all PIG!

 

We were still somewhat in the clutches of the pandemic when we last spoke, yet you’ve still maintained a prolific pace. What has helped you the most in keeping such a sharp focus on your music and creativity?

Watts: Well, that’s interesting that you think I’ve maintained a prolific pace! Sometimes, I feel like I’m swimming through fucking treacle with things taking so long… especially getting vinyl made. We have so much material backing up behind the damn of reality, and something weird called ‘production time’ (whatever that is). I seem to spend less and less time actually making music nowadays, and I haven’t picked up a guitar for months (much to most people’s relief, it has to be said). However, I still get most of my ideas when I’m out with our dogs Wally and Eddie, and so, despite the amazing people I’m lucky enough to collaborate with, I really should credit my PIG-dogs as my creative muse.

Red Room is the second album featuring Jim Davies as a primary contributor to the PIGsty, and I feel like his contributions on this album are richer, more assertive… lots of production choices reminded me of what he was doing in Pitchshifter. How would you say your working partnership with him has grown since The Merciless Light? What sorts of ideas or methods does he bring to the table that you’d not tried before?

Watts: Jim brings an overdose of ideas, textures, songs, and riffs, and the odd kitchen sink to the table. He also brings an enormous patience and lack of preciousness, which I’m truly grateful for… and that makes it great fun working together. We seem to see pretty much eye-to-eye on production, and when we do pull in slightly different directions, that can be a really great thing as we end up in a new place that is reflected in Red Room.

 

 

I also felt that there were facets to Red Room more reminiscent of earlier PIG sounds – the choir on ‘Dum Dum Bullet’ really reminded me of ‘The Fountain of Miracles,’ while ‘Does It Hurt Yet?’ and ‘Six Eye Sand Spider’ felt like something Praise the Lard to me. Do you ever consciously refer to your past work, perhaps thinking back on what was influencing you at the time?

Watts: I do sometimes consciously refer back to previous work (very sparingly), usually with particular sounds as a kind of humorous nod or wink to a past song. It’s interesting that you reference Praise the Lard; I’d never thought there might be an echo of that album on this one, but I think you might be right there.

On a similar note, just prior to the release of Red Room, Armalyte released a deluxe edition of the Sin Sex & Salvation PIG vs. KMFDM EP (now an album), which included a new recording of ‘Secret Skin’ (along with an extended mix). What was it like revisiting that song in particular with Jim, En Esch, Günter Schulz, and Michelle Martinez? What do you feel they brought to the song that you feel improves upon the original?

Watts: Well, it was great fun revisiting ‘Secret Skin’ and putting a new spin on it. Getting Jim involved opened a rich vein with his fabulous synths, and digging around with old TV cutups was like time travelling back to 1994, but without the hardcore drugs. It was nice to have a bit more time to work on the song as the original was done very quickly in a horrible, large, and expensive studio in Seattle. I always prefer smaller, more D.I.Y. studios.
Of course, I always love working with Günter, although he’s so brilliant as a guitarist, and he’s always incredibly open to my suggestions and alterations to riffs, which gives a kind of different (much less complex) structure to stuff when he’s left alone! And on top of that, he’s a lovely, gentle person. Of course, En Esch just brings that special stardust magic to the whole thing, and as he wasn’t there when we recorded the original version, I had to get him on this one.

Was it ever a consideration to re-record the other songs, ‘Fuck Me’ and ‘Rape Robbery & Violence’?

Watts: No. It was just the song ‘Secret Skin’ that I felt maybe had a bit more in it and was never as fully formed as it could be.

 

 

You’ve also collaborated with Brian Carter’s REVillusion, first on ‘Pure Pollution’ on 2019’s HEART(less), and now on the new single, ‘Dirty Demonic & Damned.’ You’d said that he simply sent you the music, and you wrote and recorded the lyrics for the first song; was it any more involved than that this time around? You’d also hinted at possibly a more PIG version of the songs, so will we be hearing those anytime soon?

Watts: I actually did a remix of ‘Pure Pollution’ on HEART(less): Revisions & Additions, so that was the PIG take on it. Inevitably, time is only noticeable by its absence in the world of PIG, and much as I’d like to work on loads of other things, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
The process for ‘Dirty Demonic & Damned’ was very much the same as ‘Pure Pollution.’ Brian sends some music and I write and record words and melodies. I seem to remember rearranging a few bits here and there, but it’s very straightforward and simple.

 

 

 

Back to Red Room, we also hear Chris Hall (Stabbing Westward) on ‘The Sick Man’s Prayer’ and 3TEETH’s Alexis Mincolla on ‘Crumbs Chaos & Lies.’ Also, the PIG choir this time also brings in Burton C. Bell, I Ya Toyah, Chris Connelly, and Emily Kavanaugh. What’s your approach to working with other vocalists? Do you give them specific parts to sing, or do you give them some free reign to contribute what they will?

Watts: I toured in the U.K. with 3TEETH in early 2020, right before the pandemic really landed. It was a great bill, and we talked about taking it to the U.S. later that year, which obviously never happened thanks to COVID. To watch the power they delivered was pretty awesome to behold, and when ‘Crumbs Chaos & Lies’ was born, it was a no-brainer to ask Lex to be godfather to this fucking great noisy and gnarly baby. I sent him the track and immediately got back a thunderous bunch of vocals, all beautifully recorded by Xavier Swafford.
Chris Hall has worked on PIG remixes, and he has a beautiful and unique voice. I immediately asked him when I wrote and sung the chorus part for ‘The Sick Man’s Prayer’ if he’d like to get involved. The song just screamed at me, ‘get Chris on this!’
It’s different for each song and each singer. Generally, you ask people because you know what they’ll bring and the sound of their voice, so there’s no point meddling about with their thing – just let them get on with it. When Chris Hall sang on ‘The Sick Man’s Prayer,’ I sent him a guide harmony part, which he did, but he improvised stuff on ‘Dum Dum Bullet.’ With the choir on ‘Dum Dum Bullet,’ people generally stick to the main melody. I did include a guide harmony, but Marc Heal and Chris Connelly also gave me variations on other harmonies, and lots of them make it into the final mix.
Sometimes, you just click with people, and they get it. For example, when I was writing and singing the ‘Juke Joint Jezebel’ vocal harmonies and arrangements, I asked Jennifer Ginsberg to sing on it, and was she able to implement them beautifully, but also brought her own thing. She had a great voice and intuitive feel for what I was looking for.
I wish I could get them all in one room at the same time, but they’re spread all over the world!

Loss surrounds us, and in 2023, we lost Atsushi Sakurai, with whom you’d worked on several projects. Are there any special memories that you’d like to share about him?

Watts: I think about Atsushi every day. I loved Acchan very much and we were both really looking forward to cooking up a little more chaos with Schwein this year. I keep my memories of us to myself.

You’d enjoyed quite a bit of popularity in Japan in the ‘90s; do you (or did you) have a special connection with the country during that time – either musically or just personally?

Watts: I don’t know why, but as soon a as I arrived there in 1981 as a wide-eyed 19-year-old (with a rather crap post-punk band), I fell in love with Japan. I ended up staying there for five months, and returned many times through the ‘90s and early 2000s. My love for the culture, countryside, cuisine, cities, and the people remains undiminished and only grows.

 
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You’re performing at this year’s ColdWaves. What are your thoughts on ColdWaves now versus when you were first asked to take part in it? What do you feel makes it special?

Watts: My thoughts are the same now as when I was first asked to perform there; what an honor, what a brilliant festival, what a good cause, and all in such a great venue. What’s not to like?

You’ve also got the Heroin For the Damned Tour coming up. I’ve been asking in the wake of the pandemic what new difficulties have arisen with touring, and we talked about that in our last InterView. Still, it seems now that there’s a very real concern with visas and international touring becoming even more expensive and cost prohibitive. What are your thoughts about what’s going on and what should be done about it?

Watts: I don’t know about what should be done about it, that’s beyond my pay grade. In the U.K., the ongoing self-inflicted wound and tragedy of Brexit (there’s no rewind on that) has made touring in Europe for smaller bands pretty much impossible.
In all territories, it seems that venues taking such a large percentage of merch is more than a little greedy. I look at the cost of tickets to see larger bands, and the prices make my eyes water! Do they really need to make that much profit? As a fan, if you spend $200-$400 on a ticket, buy a shirt, a hotel room, food, petrol, etc., the whole thing’s eaten a huge hole in your bank account, and you certainly won’t be seeing any other bands for a while.
Touring in the U.S. is really challenging for bands like PIG, but luckily, we have people who support in the most direct way possible: through VIPs, vinyl, CDs, etc. directly from the artist. Without them, PIG would wither and die. So, in a way, PIG isn’t me anymore – it’s actually the people who support PIG, they have become PIG.

 
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On the more practical end, I’ve said before how great you look, and that hasn’t changed. What do you find to be the best methods to keep in shape – physically, mentally, and especially vocally – for performing live these days vs. when you were a wee piglet in the music scene?

Watts: That’s very kind of you to say! I honestly do very little to keep in shape. It’s more about what I don’t put in my body than what I do put it in!

Anything that you’d like to add?

Watts: I’m amazed to be still here doing what I love doing. It’s been an adventure, and if people are liking the music, I’m overjoyed. Like a ‘Dum Dum Bullet’ if it expands on impact… it’s working.

 

PIG
Website, Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
Metropolis Records
Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
REVillusion
Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube

 

Photography by E Gabriel Edvy of Blackswitch Labs – provided courtesy of PIG
Website, Facebook, Instagram
“Dirty Demonic & Damned” video created by Melody Myers
Website, Facebook, Instagram

 

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