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Interview with

Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb

“… Bringing something meaningful to music…”
The three guys from NITZER EBB just have finished their U.S. gigs to promote their ‘Industrial Complex’ album and they continue their world tour in Europe from January on. They will play several concerts supporting their old label-mates from DEPECHE MODE and they will do some headliner gigs as well. In January, they will perform twice in the Hungarian capital, in Budapest. They had very busy tour days in the U.S. but they answered my interview questions via E-mail.

Reflections of Darkness (RoD): The last time we met in this line-up was in Budapest in August 2007. You’ve played a fantastic gig at the Sziget Festival. Another festival appearance in Budapest was planned for the end of 2008 but unfortunately it couldn’t be realized for financial reasons (world economic crisis). What happened to you in the meantime?
Douglas: We finished tweaking the mixes of the album with John O, our producer, and Bon and Jason worked on restructuring the live set to incorporate the new set up - which is a combination of a minimal acoustic kit, electronic percussion and a mallet midi controller. We also played a couple of shows in London, Berlin, Malmo, Gothenburg and Mexico City. We had actually planned to tour South America but the swine flu meant that all public meetings were banned to prevent an epidemic. Actually, that was also why a Fixmer/McCarthy gig in Mexico City was cancelled - Terence and I arrived the very weekend that swine flu made the world headlines. It was surreal seeing everyone in masks, and the normally hectic streets of Mexico City almost deserted.

RoD: Douglas, you released your second album with Terence Fixmer under the title ‘Into the Night’. The new sound on this album was somewhat lighter, more danceable, I think. It contains, beside this, old essential gothic, darker tunes too. What kind of feedback did you receive for this album?
Douglas: We got great feedback, unfortunately its release coincided with the beginnings of SPV’s restructuring problems AND the global economic meltdown so we really didn’t get that many gigs to promote it. Having said that, we really like the album, and the fans that did get a chance to see us live really reacted well to the new tracks.

RoD: There has been a lot of waiting for your new album. Some of your previously unreleased songs were published on soundtrack albums. Two of them are amongst the tracks, which appear on the “Saw IV & VI” soundtracks. Are you horror movie fans?
Douglas: We’re fans of any good movies, and there are certainly classics in the horror genre. Really though, any creative work that’s produced with care and attention deserves attention.

RoD: Douglas, you mentioned to me last year when we met in Vienna, that there is a chance that you’ll be the support act of Depeche Mode on their “Tour Of The Universe“. As we already know, this dream will come true. Who was the person, who asked you for this supporting tour? / Which band-member asked you for this supporting tour?
Douglas: Indeed! Well we have always kept in touch with them, specifically with Martin, as we all live in Southern California. We’d asked Mart to sing backing vocals on one of the new tracks, ‘Once You Say’, and then once we knew we were going to be releasing as they were finishing up their tour in Europe it made sense to approach him about the support slot.

RoD: The last time you supported Depeche Mode on a tour, was back in 1990. Have you kept in contact with the band since then - apart from Alan Wilder? What was the most memorable moment for you during the World Violation Tour?
Bon: We’ve remained in personal touch with Martin, and he agreed to sing some backing vocals on ‘Once You Say’. We go to the shows whenever they are in LA, and that gives us a chance to catch up, we’ve maintained good relationship everybody over the years. There are so many memories from the WV tour; it all tends to blend together. We did like to buy a hotdog and watch ‘Stripped’ to check out the stage show and audience response.

RoD: You played an audience warm-up show in Berlin on June 9th the day before the MODE’s concert at the Olympia Stadium. The audience feedback was good and you were mentioned by Dave himself at the concert too. Have you had great fun together?
Bon: Yes. Being from Essex and all, we have similar backgrounds, sense of humour etc. For such high profile people, DM remains really warm, genuine and fun loving people. You can’t help but have a good time really.

RoD: How does it feel to be on stage again with former NE member, Jason Payne? Does it affect the new setlist? Will you play music from the ‘Big Hit’ era too?
Bon: It feels excellent. There was a big sense of unfinished business when we stopped working together after ‘Big Hit’. I think there is a sense of completeness now. Rather than specifically going back to ‘Big Hit’ songs, we’ve chosen to develop new material, and re-develop the older material in a way that that utilises Jason’s talents. He is a really fine drummer in the traditional way - with an acoustic kit. Of course we include the electronics also, but it makes sense to play to all our strengths. Also, that was more the style we wanted for IC. A more rough “live” type of sound.

RoD: Are there any differences between the North America tour and the upcoming European tour with DEPECHE MODE? I mean changes in the setlist, in the stage design, etc.
Douglas: Well the main difference is that within reason we can play as long as we want on our own headliner shows, whereas we will have 45 minutes with DM. So of course we have to have a very careful selection process to get the classic NE that fans expect and try to slip in some new material too. So far on the North American tour the new songs have been fitting in really well for the fans. Our plan for Europe is to play additional headliner shows as we are on the tour with DM and after that tour finishes.

RoD: What are your plans for this supporting tour?
Bon: Obviously it’s a great opportunity to play to a new and larger audience. We’ll do our best to get our music across, and our reasons for remaining committed to bringing something meaningful to music.

‘Industrial Complex’ European Release Pre-Order:


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