Interview 2008 Chris Piper

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Chris Piper was Nitzer Ebbs first producer and manager. Leaving just before the big break through. Here is his story about the early years and the bands comeback.

Thanks to Stefan
Nitzer Ebb Network New Jersey / USA

Tell the Ebb fans about yourself.

I still live in Chelmsford, the town where Nitzer Ebb hail from. Since then Ive been Married, divorced and had two lovely kids. I work in the City of London. I still take an interest in music and tell my son (17) who to listen out for. Apparently I'm a "cool Dad"

How did you get involved with Nitzer Ebb?

We all knew each other from a local independent record shop and pub where I used to work. I was a lot older than them and remember Bon as the little brother of one of my girlfriends! I was in a few bands myself before and had a few contacts and some experience of the music industry prior. I knew Bon and Douglas were starting to make music using a WASP synthesizer and found myself getting interested in the type of stuff they were starting to produce. One day, they approached me to be their manager and help them get some gigs and recognition.

Can you tell us about the early years and what was your role?

Around the same time, Simon came on board as he had some great ideas for designs and graphics that would compliment the band image that was starting to take shape. Image and design were a vital part of the whole Nitzer Ebb Produkt culture. Like all bands that come up through the ranks, getting people to take us seriously was a hard slog. We started to get a small but loyal following and equipped with a couple of songs on cassette decided it was time to approach some record companies. Initial interested was showed by a publishing company who we signed with and who got us involved with our first Producer. Recording at PWL studios, work started on the first Vinyl release. I was the manager and a part of the Nitzer Ebb Produkt

You produced the demo "The Basic Pain Procedure". Tell us about the recording and the songs.

This was recorded on a basic 4 track "porta studio". Mostly recorded at a local village hall! Only a few tapes were made, with hand made covers! I still have an original copy.

Only "Crane" appeared on a later record, why is that.

Not really sure about this, probably because we thought, at the time it was the only track worthy of re-producing in a professional studio.

Tell us about the releases on your label Power of Voice Communication. Which is your favorite song. And the producing of it.

"Isn't it funny how your body works" will always be my favorite I think. It was this song that really started it off. (I still maintain that the title was actually inspired by a "Diagram Brothers" song called "Isn't it funny how neutron bombs work?") I also really like "Warsaw Ghetto" and of course "Join in the Chant" this will always be a classic and is still played on the radio and used by d j's in their mash up sets. As I said, we had an experienced producer who gave us the quality of sound we wanted, but ideas and the final decisions were ours.

Tell us about the studio sessions. How did your record the stuff?

As above, we recorded at PWL. I remember using some of the first samplers around to sample kick and snare drums from some heavy metal bands to give us the really heavy drum tracks heard on NE tracks. Using some fat drum sound samples was essential especially as Dave couldn't play a real kit!

Were you involved in making the music?

Only as part of the collective (I did, however "Herrr" on "Let your body learn")

What was the idea behind Nitzer Ebb in the beginning?

Bon and Doug were heavily influenced by some of the Industrial bands around at the time such as DAF, Test Dept and Einstürzende Neubauten. Hand in hand with the music was the image which unashamedly borrowed a lot from Germanic and Soviet imagery.

The band was quite angry in the beginning, why was that?

Funny you should say that. we weren't really. All an image. we actually had a laugh most of the time. The image, the songs, the music was all an act. (I dare say the chaps may dispute this, but this is how it was) there was no deep and meaningful message really. We all loved the sharp and striking design images of Russian and German 30's and 40's posters and artwork. Obviously we faced a lot of questions and objections about the "Neo-Nazi" image. But really we were just using the images to get people to sit up and listen. Iconoclastic minimalism was one phrase that was used to describe Nitzer Ebb at the time.

How did the band get their start?

Via the Production company deal really. (not going to advertise them here though!)

The band played around with different logotypes, for their records. What was the reasons, and idea behind it?

We all liked the strong imagery of Russian and Germanic design. I hasten to add though, that this was just an image. No political leanings were being condone

Did you go on tour with the band?

Only local gigs. I had gone by the time they were touring

When did you leave the band, or did you ever really leave the band?

Hmmm well If I wanted to be kind, I would say we wanted different things. If I was truthful, I would say I was sacked. The band had the Production company take over all management. I felt a bit like Phil Daniels in "Breaking Glass" for a while but I'm happy to say, I got over it!

What do you think of the band's more recent music?

Its OK. I like Bon's Maven project better though. Bon always was the genius behind Nitzer Ebb and its good to see how his music and production has matured over the past 20 or years. I'm really pleased he has made a name for himself in the industry since moving to the US.

What is your relation to the band today?

None, although I do bump into Simon every few years. There was a bit of bad feeling for a while as the band neither credited my involvement in the beginning which hurt and the Production company were pushing me to release my rights to publishing royalties from the early work.(we all had an equal share in this) Now days of course, no bad feeling exists from my part and look back on my time with them favorably. In retrospect, I don't think I could have handled all the parties anyway!

Which is your favorite Ebb song/album? And why?

I like pretty much all of the early ones really. As mentioned above, Warsaw Ghetto and Murderous in particular I think Lightning Man is also very good. Best album would be That Total Age of course!

Have you been involved in other bands?

Not at the management level. I learnt my lesson! My son is now looking to make a career in music so I try my best to pass on my knowledge and experiences to him. (he wont listen to me of course!)

What were your thoughts when you heard that Nitzer Ebb broke up back in '95?

Not a lot. I wondered what they would do next, but I didn't lose any sleep!

What were your thoughts when they decided to get together again?

Firstly I thought, "be nice to see them again" then "I wonder if I can sell some of this old stuff laying around in my loft at last!"

Did you see the gigs in London?

I was great to see the pictures from the London gig. Shame I couldn't have been there. Would like to see them perform again. Last time I saw them perform was at the Astoria in London back in the 90s on the Godhead tour. Loved it. didn't meet the boys though. Please let me know when they are playing in London next and I'll get down.

Do you like the new songs "Once you Say" and "Payroll"

Out of the two I prefer Once you Say. I like the Depeche Mode influence. you can hear this in the chorus. Good to hear the heavy pumping undertones of the distinctive Nitzer Ebb riffs and beats still keeping things together. Isn't the other track used in the film "Saw"? I assume this is Bon singing? Imagine this with a -GUITAR! and it could almost be the Red Hot Chilli Peppers!

Thank You Chris!


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