Until pre-orders were announced for their next album, I had never heard of Nature of Wires nor CountessM. But, thanks to the talented ears over at AnalogueTrash, that all changed quite quickly. With a love for the 80s and catchy, dance melodies, Nature of Wires quickly had me addicted to their tunes. With that said, I got an interview with both Nature of Wires and CountessM who both contributed to their latest album Cyber Rendezvous! Not only that, but we have an exclusive stream of one of the unreleased songs from the album titled 'Reaction'! Be sure to hit that play button as you read the interview below!
Hey there! Welcome to Brutal Resonance. Lovely to have you and nice to meet you. How's everything over there at camp Nature of Wires and CountessM?
CountessM: It’s a pleasure to meet you too and thank you for having us. It’s been a very exciting journey working with Gary Watts and Nature of Wires as we have a wonderful professional relationship. The key element that makes our magic work is that we both have a strong, harmonic line of communication. I could not have asked for a better situation.
Gary: Yeah, what CountessM said, it’s all very exciting at the moment in the run up to the album launch; lots of people saying nice things about us. Really pleased that you’ve invited us to do this, as Brutal Resonance is one of the sites I really hoped would pick up on what we are doing.
Gary, I'd like to focus on you, first. I want to step back in time to 1986 since that's when Nature of Wires was originally formed. What was the Industrial/EBM scene like back then? What do you remember of it? Do you ever get nostalgic thinking about it, wishing you could go back to that time?
Gary: I don’t really remember much about the Industrial/EBM scene back then, as I didn’t really get into Industrial/EBM until 2007, when my mate Tim introduced me to Combichrist. Back then I was into a mixture of traditional goth and synthpop. I tend to be forward looking, but I do have some great memories of our time writing and playing between ’86 and ’94. It was fun back then, but for me it’s more fun/rewarding now, as social media has really helped to get us out there and has allowed me to get acquainted with some amazing like-minded people. Back in the day we had to rely on local press/radio and the Daily Mirror’s regional gig guide. It’s global now – who’d have ever thought we’d be played on radio stations in Alaska for example?! So basically no, I don’t really wish I could go back to that time (although it would be nice to be 20 again).
I would imagine since you started in the mid-80s that you would have a plethora of old school heroes. Which bands and musicians do you look up to and admire? Have you gotten addicted to any newer bands of the 2010s?
Gary: Gary Numan obviously, Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode, Alien Sex Fiend – this could turn into a very long list but you can probably hear a bit of each of those I’ve just mentioned in my tunes. As far as newer bands go, Cyferdyne and Deviant UK are the two acts which I’ve really got into and which have inspired me to get back into all this after a twenty year break. It’s been great actually getting to meet the guys and gal from these bands and I go to see them whenever I can.
From what I've seen, you founded the band with another member in '86. How did you guys first meet and what led to the creation of Nature of Wires? Is your partner still active in the band?
Gary: Yes, Andrew Stirling-Brown. We met at school in the autumn of 1977 and have remained close friends ever since. That said, we didn’t see each other between ’82 and ’84, while I was at college, but we hooked up again during the time of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and then I got it into my head that I’d like to form a band. I asked Andrew to sing for us, because he was one of the better ones in the school choir, and after a bit of persuasion he agreed. We were a four piece rock band at one point, with me on bass, but that got whittled down to just the two of us in 1987 and we then became Nature of Wires. Andrew has guested on one of the new album tracks, but has otherwise been busy with other bands. Andrew will become more involved again over the next couple of years.
'93 saw the release of your album Modus Operandi. I wonder, can the album still be found online? And, if so, where? As well as that, do you ever think that a remastered or re-release of the album will see the light of day?
Gary: I’ve remastered and uploaded a few of the old tracks to our YouTube Channel. Modus Operandi was recorded on a 4 track in a garden shed and there was no mastering or anything like that practically or affordably possible at the time, so some of it’s a bit rough. That said, we plan to do at least an EP of updated versions of some of the Modus Operandi tracks later this year (working title is Modus Maximus), including 'Time is Come' and 'Seagull', which have scrubbed up rather well we think.
I saw that there was a twenty year break between '93 and 2014. What happened in those years? Why did the break start? Did life get in the way? And did you make any music in that time?
Gary: We decided to take a break in October 1994, having played the same set over and over again for about 6 months. I’d got really busy with work and couldn’t find the time or inspiration to put new material together, so I got a bit bored with it. Shame really, because Sarah Bouchier had joined us by then and gave us a whole new dimension and set of options, as well as boosting the male percentage of our audiences. In those intervening years we all grew up, got married and had kids (not necessarily in that order in every case and some of those things more than once). Andrew kept up with his singing in other bands though thankfully and consequently is better now than he ever was. I sold all my kits and stepped away from it, apart from a brief attempt in 2001 to get back into writing, but I wasn’t in the right place mentally and so nothing came of it. My renaissance in 2014 more or less coincided with me getting married to Guen. She makes me very happy and has helped me to get my work/fun life-balance back.
Now that I've got the complete rundown on Nature of Wires, I'm going to shift my attention to you, CountessM. I've found it hard to find any information on this project online, so give me history of the project. When did it start, who's in it, and do you have any releases out yourself?
CountessM: Well, CountessM is solely my own project as a lyricist/singer who is a collaborator with various instrumental artists. I have a Soundcloud account as well as a Bandcamp account where I've released 4 Maxi EPs. The last release on Bandcamp was a physical self-released Maxi EP available on CD which is entitled CountessM Collaborations Vol. 1 and this was a collaboration involving a different artist on each track. It’s a nine track release. Before and since this I’ve been the featured artist on other project releases. I started as an online artist back in 2011 with a Belgian artist whose project name is Devil Shy when we released a physical album entitled No Pain, No Life, however, I didn't adopt the project name CountessM until 2012 when I left Devil Shy to explore my other options and things blossomed from that point, especially when I met Gary Watts in 2015 and we met indirectly through a mutual colleague Dwayzo Laurence of KnowKontrol.
Where does the name CountessM come from? It's interesting and a little odd.
CountessM: Well, I’m an odd woman! The name CountessM was derived many years ago when I was involved in the Mormon Church's Young Adult Group. This was in 1984 when I attended their church dances. I was not a cloned ultra conservative Latter Day Saint girl. I was eccentric in every manner and I sported an orange flattop wearing nylon mesh skirts and fish lure earrings. This was beyond their comprehension so I was given the nickname of Countess Maren in which Maren is my first name so I decided to carry on the name for my project.
Just as I asked Gary before, I'll ask you the same question: Who are your heroes in the music industry? Who do you look up to and why?
CountessM: There are too many to name! I'm not into the genre of her music per se but I really admire Enya for the fact that she is multi-talented as a multi-instrumentalist. She not only composes the full orchestra but she layers her vocals to create a full choir using no modern technology to do it for her. As far as who influences me I would say VNV Nation & System Syn for their lyrical style. Going back in time to the 80's Anne Clark was a big inspiration to me when I started working with Stephen Surreal of UNUNE in 2012. UNUNE was at the time a Dark Ambient/Dark Media project in which I did spoken word for and I was so inspired by her work as well an another spoken word artist Sara Noxx.
Pairing up CountessM with Nature of Wires must have been a very fun process. What was it like working with Nature of Wires? Were there any struggles? Did you have fun with it?
CountessM: I absolutely loved it! Gary is so compatible and he was and is so accommodating toward me and my needs as his singer and lyricist. We complement one another. Genre wise and musically he was exactly who I was looking for and I would not have had this any other way. I had a blast working with him and becoming acquainted with him on a personal level as well as a professional level. There were never any struggles on my end.
Now these next questions can be answered by either party or both! Your upcoming album Cyber Rendezvous is due out via AnalogueTrash on July 29th. How did you guys get signed to the record label? Were you approached by them or did they approach you? And why choose AnalogueTrash over another label?
Gary: Quite a few of the bands I started listening to from 2014 onwards are signed to AnalogueTrash, e.g. Advance, Syd.31, Deviant UK, so AT became one of two labels I thought would be a good fit for what we were doing. I’d sent a copy of 'Negative Resolutions' (which features on the excellent Beat:Cancer Volume 3 compilation) to the AnalogueTrash Radio show back in April 2015 and it got played on the very first broadcast and we’ve had a few others played by them since. I first met Ady very briefly at a Deviant UK/Renoized gig in Nottingham, but he seemed a bit out of it (sorry Ady), so we never really got to chat that night. Then a few weeks later I was at a gig at The Academy in Manchester with my Swedish mate Jason and we got talking to both Ady and Mark, to the extent that we ended up in a pub in Oxford Road until 2AM! In November last year I e-mailed the guys asking for a bit of advice, with a view to self-releasing Cyber Rendezvous and within this e-mail I half-suggested that perhaps they might want to release it for us via AnalogueTrash. Ady and I met up for lunch in Manchester in January to discuss things and we both agreed that we should go for it. Downside of that day was that I got done for speeding on the way back home!
To any sci-fi fan, the album has the look and feel of a grand cyberpunk setting. What is the album all about? What are its themes?
CountessM: I definitely feel that we are more or less a Futurepop band with a hint of EBM but I would never imagine it to be a Cyberpunk band. The theme is based upon true life's experience and the tragedy it can bring if we don't adhere to moral and practical ethics. I've also brought God into the picture and my message is that God indeed exists as a massive form of evil and to refrain from falling into a reliance on him or her and that the only strength is within ourselves. There are two tracks on the album that differ from the other tracks and those tracks are the title of the album 'Cyber Rendezvous' and 'Perfect Menagerie' which are tracks about never prospering in love and experiencing this as a curse that will never break. All of the tracks I have written these lyrics for come from my own life's experiences.
I find the cover art quite good; it's hypnotizing and gorgeous. Who designed it? And does the cover art really represent anything, or is it just a picture that fits the album?
Gary: I wanted something post-apocalyptic in the true Industrial tradition. I just love all that sort of artwork, depressing as it can be, and I was really impressed with the artwork for the Cyferdyne albums. Steven from Cyferdyne suggested I contact the man behind their artwork, Vlad McNeally, from Washington DC, who, to my absolute delight, agreed to do it for us. We gave Vlad a totally blank canvas with which to work and we are thrilled with what he has come up with. Cybernetic beings feature in the artwork and the two on the front are having a rendezvous of sorts. I think it really stands out as a piece of art and it was very gratifying to hear Mark from AnalogueTrash waxing lyrical about it to various people at the opening night of Club Deviant in Manchester a few weeks ago.
How do you guys feel about the album? Are you proud of your work? Do you think you did well with it? Do you see room for improvement?
CountessM: I must admit I listen to the work we've done quite frequently on my off-time and I love what we've accomplished and I am so proud to be teamed up with such a gifted artist. Personally I see the work we've done as very adequate and I would not have done anything different than what we have done. I say this in humility and not boastfully.
Gary: Yes, I think I’m happy with what we’ve achieved. It’s been a long held ambition of mine to get a proper CD released and so I’ll always be very grateful to the guys at AnalogueTrash for helping me to make this happen. Sometimes I wish I could listen to it in the same way that others do – virtually impossible as the writer of the music, but I’m starting to believe from what others have told me that we’ve done a good job. Room for improvement? There’s always room for improvement, but nothing sticks out on the album which really grates with me.
And what's next for your respected projects? Do you plan on playing live at all? Do you have any releases coming up?
Gary: I’ve got gigs lined up in London and Manchester with my UK based singer Andrew, at which we’ll be playing some of the Cyber Rendezvous album tracks (we include CountessM’s voice in the backing tracks on some) as well as songs which Andrew and I have written. I’d love to do a live show with CountessM, but as we live seven-thousand miles apart, logistics are against us. I think it’s more likely that I will go to the USA to perform with CountessM there, rather than CountessM coming to the UK, so watch this space! As well as the EP I mentioned earlier, Andrew and I have been talking about making another album, with all new material, but that’s something for 2017/18.
Lastly, I'd like to wish you both luck with the album and I look forward to reviewing the release. Cheers!
CountessM: Thank you for having us. We are honored!
Gary: Many thanks – be gentle with us!
Nature of Wires' Cyber Rendezvous is available for Pre-Order HERE.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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