Raymond Watts is the frontman of the UK industrial band <PIG>. Watts was an early member of KMFDM. His career with <PIG> began with 1988’s A Poke In The Eye…With A Sharp Stick, and he has released numerous albums over the years such as Praise the Lard, The Swining, Sinsation, Wrecked, Genuine American Monster, and Pigmata. After 2005’s Pigmata, <PIG> had a hiatus of about 10 years before coming back for 2016’s The Gospel. Earlier this year saw the release of Risen on Metropolis (CD) and Armalyte Industries (vinyl).
Raymond discussed the touring lineup for the North American tour. On September 12, Raymond will be opening for Killing Joke, and also has a handful of headlining shows. The different types of setlists were explained. Raymond discussed what it was like recording the new album, Risen, as well as looking back on the first time he recorded with En Esch and Sascha Konietzko from KMFDM. The stories and background behind the songs “The Chosen Few”, “The Error of My Ways”, and “Cult of Chaos” were thoroughly explained.
Raymond just released an EP called That’s The Way (I Like It) featuring DJ/singer/actress Sasha Grey on the title-track. The other songs on the EP are remixes from tracks off of Risen featuring remixes by Stabbing Westward, Hanzel und Gretyl and Ego Likeness.
Who is rounding out your touring lineup?
On this time around I have slimmed it down a lot. I am taking Ben Christo, my guitar player, who was on the last album. I kidnapped him from the Sisters of Mercy, allegedly people say he used to play in the band Ghost, but I wouldn’t know since they all wear masks. The drummer is Vincent Velazko. It’s all cool with En Esch and Guenter (Schulz). I wanted to change it up so, I am taking a smaller lighter band to do a lot of electronic shit, guitar player, and drummer.
Can you fill me in on what your setlist will be like when it comes to the shows with Killing Joke, as well as your headlining shows?
I am doing more of the new stuff in the opening for Killing Joke. For the headlining set, I will be doing just as much new stuff, but more old stuff as well. We have music from Risen like “Loud, Lawless, & Lost”, “Leather Pig”, “The Chosen Few”, “The Revelation”, and “Prey and Obey”. With the old stuff we have stuff like Prime Evil, “Hot Hole”, and Sinsation. I like doing that one since it is in such a weird time signature. We might do some stuff I did with KMFDM back in the day. There will be stuff from The Gospel, as well like The Diamond Sinners and The Fly Upon The Pin. I like “The Fountain of Miracles”, “Kicking Ass”.
For your new album Risen, what was the recording experience like on this go around?
It was a bit different. The last one I did with the wonderful Mark Thwaite and Z Marr as well. Z Marr did a lot more co-production on that. On this one I did co-write with people like Tim Skold, Z Marr, my brother Mike Watts. It was slightly me doing more of the production, the knob twiddling, and the mixing.
It was a bit of a return to the era I worked around Sinsation and Wrecked when I worked with Steve White. It was still me wiggling the knobs and fiddling away in the studio. We would go for three months. There are a lot of people involved in the <PIG> thing. There are the visual people, video people. It was a bit more my production with me locked on my own. Z Marr sat shoulder to shoulder with me. Mark was doing a lot of co-writing with me. It was slightly a return to the old ways of doing things.
How do you feel about the recording setup of the old days of analog vs the modern age of Pro Tools recording?
The very first KMFDM record I did with Nick (En Esch) and Sacha (Konietzko), I had a little studio down in Hamburg. Those were the first real recordings. I had one reverb, one delay, two compressors, and a little analog mixing desk, one synthesizer, one little (eight-bit) sampler, and one drum machine. The thing about having that one synthesizer, we used that to the maximum of its parameters and a bit beyond. That one monophonic synthesizer got used a lot. Now, you dial up these things and it’s fabulous to have taps and synths in your computer. You stay much more in the middle of the bed with them. You don’t go to the edge. I liked doing it back in the day.
In the mid ‘90s I ended up with a studio that was chop a block and had 19 analog synths in there. All the hymns, and MS 20s, MS 10s, Super Jupiters, and it was great. I do find it is quick to work digitally now. It is democratized, and much easier for a lot of people to get a multitrack studio. It’s just different. I don’t prefer one or the other.
“The Chosen Few” is one of my favorites on the album, what was going on and where were you when the idea for the song started to hit you?
These things just come out of anywhere. I used to be up all night, taking drugs and drinking. Now I get up in the morning and take a walk. From a night person I became an early morning person. I get up and walk about and that is usually when things come to me. I was thinking, oh that would work with that. Z Marr sent one-minute worth of music. It had his Part 1 and Part 2, it just went from one to the other. I took the little bit he sent, and I said, “Let’s keep it really simple,” and I put one bit here and one there, left a bit out, and starting fucking around with some words.
With your song, The Error of My ways, are you referring to something that happened recently or a long time ago?
It’s not a specific thing. I mean, mistakes are great. Sometimes really bad things have to happen before really good things happen. Sometimes we go and look, “If I hadn’t done that, that might’ve happened.” It’s completely speculative. It is not a literal thing. It is just something that applies to a certain feeling. You could say, “Oh well, looking back I didn’t actually fuck up there.” My life has been a series of fuck ups. It would be one train-wreck hitting another. That can be quite an interesting situation, when you crawl from the wreckage and see what you have done to the car you have been driving. Sometimes we make hideous things happen and out of that something good happens from it.
I like “Cult of Chaos” a lot just for, I guess, the trippy feeling it gives off. What inspired you to compose this song?
Over here in Britain things have gone really weird. I never thought I would back wistfully to a time in the ‘80s when I went to live in West Berlin. That was in the middle of East Germany with a wall around it surrounded by what was perceived to be the enemy, the communist bloc. This is going back to the era of Thatcher and Reagan. Until Gorbachev came along, it would be raining nuclear missiles.
Now things seem to be even less sure than compared to those days. We have Brexit going on here, and you have some god-awful situation going on in the States. Everything is really chaotic. It’s really an allusion to that. The ground we are sitting on is shifting every minute. Everything just seems surreal to me. It’s more sci-fi and weird than you could find in any bloody science fiction novel. Nobody knows what is going to happen, and if you do this what dominoes will fall. Out of bad things happening good things have to come, otherwise there is no point for the bad things to happen. Let’s hope we get our shit together.
Do you have any music already composed or recorded that is ready for future releases?
I had a few songs lying around. I do a little VIP package when I am on tour. It’s like a meet and great. It’s a way to show support. We have a little chat. One thing you get is a super limited CD that I do personalized artwork that has some remixes on this one from Tim Skold and Dead Animal Assembly Plant of tracks from Risen. Tim did “Morphine Machine” and Dead Animal Assembly Plant did “The Revelation”. There are two new songs. One is called “Hell to Pay”, and the other is called “The New Disorder”.
On your cover for Risen how did you come up with the concept for that, and were any pieces of art that really struck you in a fond way?
I was going to do a metal cover, like a reference to the Public Image metal box from the late ‘70s. I spoke to Dave of Metropolis, and told him that I wanted to do a metal cover for it. He was moaning about the costs. Whenever it is too expensive he says go and do it yourself. I thought metal was a bit boring. I wanted a 3D lenticular postcard stuck on the cover which is what we did on the vinyl. I wanted it to be bright, colorful and plastic.
Are you familiar with the artist Gilbert and George? They are two guys from London that have a really particular style. I really like Russian icons, the religious paintings. I got in touch with Vlad McNeelly. My London label with Giles Moorhouse from Armalyte put me in touch with Vlad. He was just a complete joy to work with. I just sent him one image of a Gilbert and George painting and one image of a Russian icon. I want the Russian icon from a 100 to 200-year-old painting that is a mix of pop art versus Russian Orthodox artwork.
See <PIG> on September 12 opening for Killing Joke at Irving Plaza in New York, headlining on September 23 at the PhilaMoca in Philly, September 24 at New York’s Bowery, September 26 at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pa., and September 27 at the Debonair Music Hall in Teaneck, NJ.