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May 2014

Full Interview: Michael Allen of The Wolfgang Press

May 22, 2014

twpqueermichaelallen.jpgHere is the interview I conducted with Michael Allen of The Wolfgang Press, as well as Rema-Rema, Mass, Geniuser, and an as-yet unnamed current group. Portions of this conversation appeared in the Hall of Legends special featuring the band's music.

This conversation took place on May 3, 2014, via Skype. I was at my place and Michael was at his. Extra karma points to him--it was after midnight, London time.

I would love to describe this as the "full recording," with everything in a clear, linear context. BUT. I very nearly had another software disaster, as with my first attempt at interviewing Andrew Gray; to be "safe," I was recording on two different platforms at once. One crashed and one didn't. Audacity, the one that didn't, retained all of Michael's input channel, but not mine. It could have been worse.

So what we have are 33 responses, or soundbites, or whatever you'd like to call them. I've done my best to figure out what the questions must have been! At any rate, it's a nice discussion, and we cover a lot of ground--youth, becoming a musician, the bass guitar, Rema-Rema, Mass, The Wolfgang Press, the mysterious Alberto Ricci, working with Tom Jones, and the new band. Yes, it's a disjointed experience, but at least you pretty much know what you're getting with each click, and the responses are listed in the order in which they were given.

References: "Ivo" is of course Ivo Watts-Russell. "Robin" is Robin Guthrie. "Gary and Danny" are Gary Asquith and Danny Briottet, of Mass and Renegade Soundwave (and other things). "Wobble" is...come on now, reallly?

As this completes the set of interviews, I wanted to say how happy I am to have had the opportunity to speak to these guys. This experience reinforces for me what I've always enjoyed about TWP's music: its sense of identity and refusal to compromise.

For audio, click any of the hyperlinks below. Enjoy!

Growing up in Harrow, and early exposure to music
Early gigs, meeting Marco Pirroni
Art college
Why become a musician?
Why bass guitar?
Favorite bass players
More McCartney
The beginning of Rema-Rema
Did Rema-Rema's "drummer wanted" ad really say "no hi-hats?"
How Mass began
Why was Mass so dark?
How people reacted to Mass
Birth of The Wolfgang Press; The Burden of Mules
Scarecrow; Water; Sweatbox EPs
Not intellectualizing
Was there a plan to do a series of EPs, or did it just happen?
How do the songs originate?
Abstraction and atmosphere
Alberto Ricci, whose paintings grace the record covers in 1984 and 1985
Having an art background and negotiating with 23 Envelope / v23
Bird Wood Cage, part 1
Is BWC a personal favorite?
What did Flood contribute to BWC? Note: there's a moment in here when Michael asks if someone's coming into the room where I'm sitting; I must have been waving, and he must have seen this on Skype. Someone is entering. It's Junior, wearing a pair of wings that she'd made herself. This moment was too good to edit out.
The Everything Is Beautiful retrospective
Standing apart from "the 4ad sound," if there was ever such a thing
Working with a different producer on each album
What is it like to listen to Wolfgang Press records after all this time?
Music and "timelessness"
What do your children think of The Wolfgang Press?
Working with Tom Jones
The new band, with Gary Asquith, Andrew Gray, and Steve Gray
Will the new band perform live? Note: Michael's final words are in response to my assurance that I'd be interested to see this happen!