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Interview with:

Alan Wilder / Recoil

Alan Wilder aka RECOIL finished his USA, Canada and South America tour successfully and will be back in Europe at the end of November. After touring for nearly half a year performing, Recoil will play his final concert in Budapest at Szikra on the 4th of December. I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with Mr. Wilder about Recoil's South America tour, about his memories of the famous Exotic Tour '94 - in support of DEPECHE MODE's eighth studio album ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’ - and about his plans for the near future. This short but interesting interview was done via electronic mail at the time of the cancellation of the Cordoba 'Event' in Argentina. Alan was very disappointed because he really wanted to do this gig - unfortunately, this whole thing was completely out of his control. You know, he's not just a synth-pop icon but he also has a heart for the fans... Here is the proof.

Reflections of Darkness (RoD): Hello Alan, The RECOIL-tour in South America is on the way. This leg of the tour is held in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. The last time you gave concerts in these countries was during DM's "Exotic Tour" in 1994. What sort of memories does this legendary tour bring up?
AW: You have to remember that by the time DM hit South America as part of the whole ‘Devotional’ tour, we had been on the road for over 12 months. I think everyone’s brain was pretty fried by that stage. Fletch had already gone home and missed that leg (Daryl Bamonte took over on keyboards). Dave was in quite a bad way by then and I remember one particular plane journey, on route to either Chile or Argentina, which was quite difficult.  We were on a private jet and Dave was somewhat out of control - not great in a confined space.  I also remember a drug raid in the hotel in Sao Paulo which happened in the next room to mine. My room incidentally was being concurrently ‘rearranged’ by Mr Gahan, if you know what I mean. It was pretty chaotic. Along with the Santiago incidents which I have recounted before, I guess quite a lot went down. I remember the show itself in Chile was stunning from the point of view of the reaction. The other shows were all good too but my specific memories are quite vague on those.

RoD: The South / Latin American audience was always very supportive of you. What was their reaction to the RECOIL live set?
AW: I have been amazed and delighted so far, but not totally surprised as I half expected the enthusiasm - and that is why I wanted to tour here in the first place. At the time of writing we have played 3 shows in Santiago, Buenos Aires and Rosario. The way each audience has responded has been unbelievable - they chant football-style songs, clap along to all the tracks (not always easy with Recoil music :-)), and generally make a huge amount of noise. It is really heart-warming to see so many smiling and appreciative faces.

Unfortunately, last night’s show in Cordoba was cancelled. This was something completely out of our control. The production people for the festival failed to get the proper security permissions from local authorities and the police turned up to shut it down before it even got underway. The engagement was due to be held as a mini festival including three separate tents in an outdoor location. Recoil was scheduled to headline in the main tent.  Our crew arrived in Cordoba in plenty of time but got word that the show was experiencing difficulties at 10pm when we were still waiting to set up our projection system and conduct a sound check. 2000-3000 people were expected to attend.

I just hope no fans will hold Recoil responsible in any way because we were in Cordoba and ready to play. I had already held a press conference in anticipation at the hotel in town, and we all sat in the lobby waiting to go to the venue when we heard the news that the show was in trouble. Paul & I are naturally very disappointed. It is not altogether surprising that something like this might happen along the way - whatever people may think, South American countries do have a reputation for chaos and we have experienced plenty of that so far on this leg, including wasted appointments at embassies, travel delays, lost baggage, road strikes, corrupt authorities, equipment troubles and so on. I try to rise above it and am mainly philosophical because the warmth of the people makes up for the misgivings of the bureaucracy.

We actually spent 3 hours this morning trying to re-arrange the event at a different venue (a rather nice-looking theatre which would have housed our production) but for one reason or another, it proved too difficult. I try to be as pro-active as possible to make things happen, even under the most trying of circumstances - to provide what was promised to fans. I didn’t wait 25 years to tour, and then come all this way to just sit in a hotel lobby. In the Cordoba case however, too many things conspired against us.

RoD: The RECOIL North American tour went very well and you had a lot of special guests like ARCHITECT, CONJURE ONE and DJ Martin Gore, of course. Dave Gahan also showed up at the RECOIL gig in New York. Did you have a good time with your former bandmates? Do you see any possibility that Fletch will be present at the Manchester 'Event' on the 2nd of December?
AW: I have no idea if Fletch is coming to Manchester but if he wants to join us, he is very welcome :-)) It was lovely to hook up with Martin and Dave again in the states. Each seems in good shape and we were able to catch up on each other’s news and so on.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t practical to invite any special guests down to South America. In order to work in most countries in this part of the world, you need to complete complicated work visas and so on. It is just quite a difficult and convoluted process to arrange a tour here. Many obstacles are presented by the bureaucratic processes and this can be a challenge. The local promoters generally prefer to put local acts and DJs onto the bill, which is fine by us.

RoD: DEPECHE MODE is rumoured to release a new remix-album next year. Vince Clarke already did a remix of 'Behind The Wheel'. I heard that you’re also planning to remix a DEPECHE MODE song. For which song will you do this remix?
AW: Seems like you can’t keep a secret from anyone these days...

RoD: The last time you were in Budapest, you couldn't visit the city because you were in a hurry - thanks to the traffic craziness caused by the volcanic ash. On the 4th of December you'll close the RECOIL-tour with a special Budapest gig. Are there any plans for an additional sightseeing?
AW: No real plans at the moment. I wanted to stay at least one extra day but now have a commitment in Prague the day after the show. I will probably manage to grab an hour to wander around and perhaps a nice Sunday lunch somewhere before we leave. I wish I had more time.

RoD: What are your plans for the future - after finishing this tour?
AW: I plan to enjoy Xmas with my kids, although not really looking forward to the cold and wet English winter, I am going to watch England beat Australia at cricket, and then in the new year I will probably work on some new material. First I need to fix my very ill studio computer. After that, I’m not sure. The music business is in crisis still and I’m not sure how long I can continue to fund my own projects. I have never received any advances to speak of for Recoil and, perhaps, now is the time to consider some other more lucrative pursuits.

RoD: What did Alan mean by "more lucrative pursuits"? You never know what's going on in his head. Maybe it's about time to rethink Depeche Mode's future... Who knows? Until then come and see the final Recoil show in Budapest!


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