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Naked Lunch - Interview

Interview with: Tony Mayo, Cliff Chapman, Jet Noir
Conducted by: Damian Gibbs, T.V.

Dark electronic British legendary band Naked Lunch are counted as fathers of gothic dance music as they were formed back in 1979 as Sons Of Perdition and changed it to Naked Lunch soon after. They played many shows at that time alongside the likes as DAF, Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget, B Movie, and Clock DVA. In that period the band was featured on some compilations and released a couple of singles, the rest is history as the band disbanded in 1985 for good. Naked Lunch reemerged in 2010 when Tony Mayo linked up again with early former member Paul N Davies and started writing new material. Mick Clarke and Cliff Chapman joined in 2011, both in the original line-up. In 2012 Mark Irving joined as a full time member and in 2013 the one and only Jet Noir was recruited. Damian Gibbs and T.V. talked with Tony, Cliff and Jet who revealed a lot more about the past, future plans, new album and many other interesting background things concerning Naked Lunch and their personal lives.

Damian: For those people that do not know much about Naked Lunch, can you give us a brief history of the band?
Tony: We did our first gig in March 1980 and were on one of the first UK electronic bands and throughout that year did numerous gigs, had interviews in the UK music press, linked up with Stevo and I helped in getting bands for the Some Bizarre album with the aim of trying to establish a broader electronic music scene. With most of us coming from punk we had and still have a more aggressive attitude towards electronic music and we preferred to play live than to record. Say that though we did record at Abbey Road studios for EMI and have a single banned in early 1981 just for using the word “Rabies”. Then when we were about to sign a major record deal we had a massive row, due to the pressure being put on us by our manager and the expectations of the music press and split in April 1981. I had instigated the formation of Naked Lunch, registered the name and then set up a new line up and we carried on until 1985, with Paul and Mark sometimes playing with us as a live unit, after that I did work in the studio and felt that musically we had unfinished business. Then in 2010 Paul and I get back in touch and met up and discussed reforming Naked Lunch, and in 2011 we started to write together and were very pleased about how easy it was and that it sounded like Naked Lunch in the 21 Century. 
Cliff: We reformed after being approached to play at the BAS II festival in 2012. Initially this was just going to be a one off show, but we found it so natural and creative to be working together again that we decided to carry on and write new material.
Damian: You have recently released Glow as a single, how did the writing/recording of this go? And are there any plans for a new album?
Cliff: Like all of our songs "Glow" evolved. It came from the first batch of ideas that Paul and Tony had been working on when we first teamed up again and continued to develop through the recording process, with Paul's guitar work taking an increasingly front seat role. We've just completed the recording for the album, the final tracks are now in post-production for mixing. The album is due for release in February and is called Beyond Planets, a reference to the final gig we played at Planets Club in Piccadilly in '81 before pushing the self-destruct button, it was a crazy and chaotic affair with Boy George and Marilyn in attendance, the name of the album reflects where we are now, Beyond Planets, going forward.
Tony: Paul and I were working on some new tracks and  I went around and he said to me what do you think of this. I replied that I liked it and let’s work on the idea and working with Cubase is so much easier than in the old days of trying to put parts together. As we were at the start of electronic music, we write songs how we feel they should be and try to make each one different. In "Glow" you can probably hear several genres of electronic music but we view them all as one and we merge them and punk influences to create our overall sound. The new album, our first ever is as Cliff said called Beyond Planets  and will have a mixture of new material and reworking of some old material. This is so people can hear where we have come from and how we have evolved and will continue to do so.  We signed to Sub Culture records for the digital distribution of the singles and this album, which will be out on the 21 February 2014 through numerous digital outlets. We are also planning a CD and this will have art work and more informations.
T.V.: Will the recent singles that you've released be included on the new album?
Tony: Most definitely along with 7 other tracks, we released them to enable people to hear that we are not a parody of our former selves but that we have taken our old influences and ideas and are writing for today.
T.V.: So, how it feels to be on the scene after almost 30 years?
Tony: I feel pleased to be back as it felt as if we had some unfinished business and strangely we rehearse at the same company’s studios that we did so many years ago.  It does seem a little odd without our road crew but it is great how people are finding us either for the first time or who were fans before, some of whom we have met and chatted to at gigs.
T.V.: What were you doing in the meantime?
Tony: I was still writing lyrics and recording material until I had a serious motorbike accident in 2001, which I took a long time to recover from and I linked up with Paul not long after I had.
T.V.: What has changed in the song composing process since the beginning of Naked Lunch in the 80's?
Tony: Being able to use Cubase rather than a tape deck when writing songs is a great help, as we can change and move parts around more easily and this really helps with structuring.
T.V.: Can you give us a brief insight into the lyrics of yours?
Tony: My lyrics are always about something, even if it might not be totally clear. "Alone" is about feeling disconnected from those around us “A window reflects nothing back to me, just changing facets of a living sea ….” and "Emotional Turmoil" is even darker and about mental health issues. “Robbed of feeling, Robbed of mind. Robbed of reason, it’s so unkind….” I hope that people can relate to the lyrics and  to the stories they tell.
Damian: The band has a new member in Jet Noir, how did you meet/recruit her?
Cliff: Tony had known Jet for a quite a while and told us about her. Initially we discussed the idea of maybe doing some collaborations with Jet. Personally I was sold on the idea once I'd heard her track "The Scarlet Woman". Although it is a very different style of electronic music to ours it had that same edge and energy that we like to inject into our material, it sounded like an interesting project. Of course like most of these things you talk about them but whether or not anything actually happens or not is another thing... As it happened Jet started coming along to our rehearsals and we just found that we all got along really well. In the end I think it was Jet who floated the idea of joining the band as a permanent member and really it just seemed a such natural progression to all of us.
Damian: Are there any plans for a tour? And if so do you have any live shows booked for 2014?
Tony: We are just finishing off the album and will start rehearsing again in February with the plan to start doing live show as of the end of April. We have signed up to Deadfall Management and Dark Independent Bookings and are looking forward to 2014 and to gigging. A tour would be cool and it would be nice to meet people at gigs too.
Damian: So to sum things up, what can we expect for the future of the band? and can you tell us why people should listen to Naked Lunch?
Tony: In 2014 we have Beyond Planets, coming out plus a vinyl album through Dark Entry records of old 1980 material and we will probably also be releasing a remix EP of some of the tracks on Beyond Planets plus another EP with further tracks. We have a lot of time to make up for and so many ideas and so much material to work on that we are quite excited. Plus having Jet as part of the writing team is just going to be awesome! We are mentioned in several books but until now I think most people did not know anything about us but a lot of our ideas were used by other bands. Also we are planning on being around for quite some time and we hope that people will get into where we are coming from and enjoy our take on the music and our live shows.

T.V.: Tell me Jet, how it feels to be a part of such a legendary band as Naked Lunch are?
Jet: I consider it to be a great honour and feel incredibly blessed to be a part of something so special. I've been given an opportunity that a lot of people can only dream of. They have all been very welcoming and made me feel like a valued member of the team.
T.V.: What's your exact assignment within the band?
Jet: I play additional synths alongside Cliff Chapman and also backing vocals when it is needed. Additionally, I take care of the promotion side of things due to being head of promotions at our' label Sub Culture Records. For future projects I will also be contributing to the songwriting itself with Paul Davies and Tony Mayo.
T.V.: Can you tell us something about your past musical work?
Jet: I am a classically trained musician and started learning the guitar when I was a very small infant. I also play the violin and piano. When I was in my teens, I was in a punk band called Psycho Bambi with some school friends which came to an end rather abruptly. We were all very young and more interested in partying rather than commiting to something. Looking back, I regret that. We had a lot of combined talent and did not reach our' full potential. After that, I went solo writing and producing dark trance music, released several EP's and an album. Then, in 2011 I reconnected with Tony Mayo which eventually led to my joining Naked Lunch.
T.V.: Beside being a musician, you are also a photo model. Can you say something about this role of yours?
Jet: I began modelling in Autumn of 2010 after being approached by a photographer and digital artist called Dave Charsley of DeclineGothica. I enjoy modelling a lot but can't do it as much as I'd like due to other commitments. I took some time off last year due to health issues but plan to relaunch that side of my career this year. I figure that I have a few years left before I lose my looks and parts of my body start to head south, so I intend to make the most of it while I can.

Naked Lunch links: Official website, Facebook, Bandcamp