The Sisters of Mercy - Changing Stations

Original text by Ralf G. Poppe (Visions magazine), published in late 1997.
Transmutted and edited by Rugby Court Corporation for The Sisters of Mercy Tours site.


the next one

Smoke and Mirrors

Summer 2002 Europe


Exxile on Euphoria

Trip the Light Fantastic

To the Planet Edge


Event Horizon

Distance Over Time

Roadkill/ Goldkill


The two voices in this article represent our paraphrasing of questions from the German Visions magazine (Issue dec '97-jan '98), and the faithful translations of Andrew Eldritch's answers. We decided to leave out the clichéd questions formulated by the German. Nevertheless, a translation can not and will not replace the original text, so we strongly advice you to learn German, as we did. Most interviews featuring Mr. Eldritch are conducted via the modern medium of e-mail. This appears to be his favorite instrument in corresponding with the often-misunderstanding music-press. It provides Mr. Eldritch with an extra-terrestrial platform for some much-needed verbal interaction with his loyal fanbase (i.e. us). In this instance the communication between Mr. Eldritch and Mr. Poppe took place sometime at the end of 1997. The interviewer and interviewee have a short telephonic contact before answers launch into hypertext. As pointed out, Mr. Poppe's questions do not excel in brilliance, and this is somewhat tiresome.

AE: You've asked me some very annoying questions. You are of course entitled to do that. I would like to point out though, that I'm generally in an excellent mood.

Thank God for that. It appears that Mr. Poppe has met Mr. Eldritch on three previous occasions and never struck him as being a moody bugger. The interviewer now anticipates a noble quest. Any misunderstandings surrounding Mr. Eldritch and that fine rock & roll outfit The Sisters of Mercy will be put to bed by him and him only. We are skeptical, to say the least. The next ignorant question can only confirm this. Why this tour (Event Horizon '98), while not supported by any new musical product?

AE: Yes, well, why don't the Sisters release an album every year like any other band who lets its daily affairs be dictated by the press, the record-company and any other parasites. You could ask yourself why we toured so much since our last record. Obviously, because we felt like it. When we don't feel like it, we don't, even when a record has been released.

Indeed. Mr. Eldritch loves to travel and seeing places as we all know. At the time of the interview he finds himself in Spain and the interviewer supposes that Hamburg is now his ex-Heimat. The 25th of January they played the GI-Club there and it wasn't a happy affair (see here why). Does Mr. Eldritch consider this to be something special?

AE: Without a doubt every Sisters of Mercy concert is something very special, even while some are considered better then others. The mood of a particular audience is hardly ever a decisive element in the quality of the performance. Just like any other band, we do find the Hamburg audience a bit difficult, but like any other audience they do want to have a good time. They have the right to hide their enjoyment. We hold them in awe though. If you want to make our lives difficult we take that as a challenge. And anyway, there are worse. The fact that I know some of the audience personally is not something I can pay a lot attention to. The floodlights prevent me from doing just that. I occasionally recognize those who attend every concert. It's only backstage at these 'homecoming' performances that you realize you have to behave in a civilized manner to quite a number of people. And that is a lot more strenuous than doing the actual concert.

Chris Sampson must be happy man, he definitely made it to the Front-Row Gallery. We're just jealous. Mr. Poppe obviously loves special occasions. In the next question he refers to the RoadKill '96 Tour when The Sisters of Mercy played a handful of festivals together with the Sex Pistols. Was that something special then, wonders our star-reporter?

AE: Yes, I think it must have been something special for the Sex Pistols.

This was to be expected. These are dumb questions and it's time to move on to something a little more substantial. What follows is a welcome update on the release front which should raise a few smiles.

AE: There has been a lot of speculation, but since the situation with East/West has solved itself we can develop some real plans. In April we will release the first single, which could be followed by another soon after. The actual album should not to be expected any earlier then by the end of this summer.

Well, we're all looking forward to that then. In the meantime there is the SSV-issue to be cleared up. SSV was announced as Mr. Eldritch's latest project. Not so. The music for this spoiler is written, performed and produced by Bellendir, lyrics written by a certain Schroeder while Mr. Eldritch cameos with some guest-vocals. It's shit, Mr. Poppe knows it and so does the woman from the record-company. For a better assessment of this whole affair we advise you to read the article in that new Sisters-affiliated magazine Glasperlenspiel (Issue No. 01) that mixes memory with desire. Mr. Poppe asks if Mr. Eldritch has anything to add to the (BaxCorp) publications that circulate on the 'Net.

AE: No

Ah-ha. On to the next question, and Mr. Poppe has come up with another unprecedented product from his immaculate brain. Do (or will) The Sisters of Mercy ever adopt themselves to any new wave of musical inspiration?

AE: Nothing is really new in popmusic nowadays. It is all inspired by things that have been done before and frankly we couldn't be arsed. Drum & Base is a perfect example of all that. By putting up a rhythmbox at double speed and consequently calling it the product of a genius is of course the poorest thing. In the early eighties, after our normal day-job was done, we, like Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Chrome, MX80 Sound, Suicide and many others, fooled around with that too. It proved to be particularly unsatisfying. Trip-Hop is great though, and while we think that Nirvana and Pearl Jam are rather good, they're not very revolutionary. We were ahead of our time in many respects. Adopting these things whenever they become fashionable again feels like a step backwards to us. For example: An 808 drummachine with guitars or keyboard-loops is Manchester in 1992 and the Sisters in 1982.

Mr. Eldritch does not want to be identified with this or that musical fad, as he has been in the past. This is neither the time nor place to go into all that, and Mr. Poppe realizes this. By cleverly referring to the color of his hair he lets Mr. Eldritch explain the sadness of the present situation.

AE: It is amusing, this strong emphasis on image. With black hair our songs must sound incredibly dark and dim, while now, as I am blond, it must sound like Heino, David Bowie or anybody else with this distinct hair color. Very strange. With these kinds of assumptions the Sisters lose on two fronts, as media-representatives (out of laziness, stupidity or jealousy) paint this very superficial image of us. To many I am not blond, so to them the songs are still dark and dim, likewise the other way around. Once, after an interview over the phone, the header of the resulting article criticized our latest product because of the (dark) color of my hair. This is while it was very blond indeed when the conversation took place. The man could at least have asked before he used my non-existent black hair to seal my musical fate. For the press it is the easiest way out to characterize me as the Dark Overlord. `Dark & dim' must be mentioned somewhere in some dumb rock-encyclopedia, which everyone just copies. The way a dumb minority of our audience dresses is used against us in very much the same way, something that prevents outsiders joining us for the ride. There used to be a time when the music press actually listened to the songs. Well... When our songs were not ten times better then the rest, it was really difficult. Concerning image and other affiliated nonsense; should I really pay so much attention to these matters of secondary importance when others put so much emphasis on them? Even with all the best intentions in the world I find this is impossible for me to do, when so many people are overlooking the facts.

Good question and well explained. We at RCC know when to give someone a compliment. Indeed we do. Next question is of the same quality. Mr. Eldritch (as some of you might know) has done his fair share of journalism. Did he enjoy playing the press-parasite himself when he interviewed David Bowie (for the German Rolling Stone magazine).

AE: I'm sorry, but I never stepped into the shoes of the press; on the contrary, as a performing artist I felt obliged to give the reader an as just & fair view as possible. Bowie said that he was pleased that for once there were no questions about his ex-wife.

Mr. Eldritch has published in various German computer magazines (i.e. Max-no relation to the UK equivalent) but he had to stop because it started taking up too much time. Mr. Poppe asks if writing is something close to his heart. Interesting question and the answer seems quite obvious.

AE: Well, a bit of hard cash can be a motivation too, as I have to make a living for myself. It's not close to my heart, but it's good to point out to people that we're not these mystics. A little chat about computers can do lot of good in that respect. We not only explain the 'Net hype, but it also reflects the relationship we have with technology. We've always incorporated the latest technology to craft the sound of the Sisters. Some bands sound like a bloody calculator while it should be something modern. Technology shouldn't dictate what you do; you should dictate the technology. And one has to know what advantages it can have.

We thank you for your attention. This was not the best product that we have come across lately but it is the most recent one. We hope you've enjoyed it and respect the effort. If you would like to have your own personal copy, just drop us a line and we instantly provide you with one (text only) through the wonders of the 'Net.

We would like to thank: The Dominion, AM, Dr. C, Andrius S., Jochen U., Wim V. & Johan E.

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