This time I talked with one of the founders of Stress, Alan Rider. The band has released excellent albums like “Help Comes to Late”, “Restrain” and the recently re-edited “The Big Wheel”. He also was part of the Fanzine Adventures In Reality Recordings that later on became. In 1988 Rider joined Dance Naked with Kleo Fanthorpe, Roger Foyster, Cary Meadows and Alex Novak. Ryder edited a compilation of his work in 2014 called “Point of Change”. I hope you enjoy this interview.
Hi, Alan, it’s a pleasure being able to interview you. I’d like to split this interview in two parts. The first one about your band, Stress, and the second one about Dance Naked. As I understand it your first band, Stress, was formed in 1983. In 2013 you re-issued “The Big Wheel” with the Russian record company: Other Voices. Can you tell us about how you got this opportunity?
Stress was in fact formed in December 1981 as a two piece with Phil Clarke on vocals and myself playing bass and synth and both of us doing rhythms. We started out with very minimal equipment so we were Cold Wave/ Minimal synth out of necessity really. We played some gigs in the UK and recorded and released two albums on cassette. Selected tracks from that period have been re-released on vinyl as the Conspiracy Theory LP on San Francisco label Dark Entries, who approached me to do it. That has sold really well. We then started to release tracks on vinyl on compilations by Third Mind Records and others and recorded and released an album, The Big Wheel, on my own label Adventures in Reality in 1985. That did well at the time and got to number 1 in the NME electronic charts, but we split soon afterwards so we never really got to enjoy that success and it has since become a cult album and original copies are now rare. The Big Wheel was re-released on red vinyl, CD, cassette and download at the end of 2013 on Other Voices. How that came about was really simple. We had been getting a lot of demand after the Conspiracy Theory LP to reissue The Big Wheel. So I asked a few labels if they wanted to do it and Other Voices came back first and said they would issue an extended version of the album, re-mastered and with extra unreleased tracks in all formats, so we went with them. It’s a really nice package. Unfortunately, distribution for Russian labels is difficult so it’s not in as many stores as we would have liked. Maybe it should get another reissue to meet that demand?
What were your biggest influences in Stress?
Both of us were very influenced by electronic acts of the time. Cabaret Voltaire, Human League, Suicide, The Normal, DAF, Kraftwerk (or course) even New Order, but also acts like SPK and Test Department and Coil. I also came from more of a punk background so acts like Gang of Four, Au Pairs, Bauhaus, Birthday Party, Joy Division, even Crass also had an influence. We were close friends and worked with Attrition and Eyeless in Gaza so that had an influence on us as well.
Stress – Semi-D Prision
What do you remember about the beginning of your career as a musician? Can you tell us about an anecdote you’ve experienced?
I started playing at school really. I loved The Stranglers at the time and after meeting JJ Burnel I decided I really wanted to play bass, so I took a holiday job waiting tables in a seaside resort and saved enough money to buy my first bass (from Horace Panter, the bass player in The Specials). I learnt just by playing along to records. I still can’t read music and found those “Teach Yourself” books really boring, so I just played what I wanted and gradually got better at it. It was the same for keyboards and synths too – trial and error. That meant I could try anything and not be limited by playing the instruments ‘correctly’. For the first two Stress cassette LPs my bass was actually tuned too high as I just tuned it to whatever I thought sounded good! I got into being in a band largely because everyone around me seemed to be in bands! I started out as a fanzine writer and record label and that meant I met and became friends with lots of bands and got to see how they worked so it seemed the next step and the right thing to do was to form my own band with Stress.
Tell us, How was your experience working in Adventures in Reality?
It was a great experience as I released material by lots of great experimental bands like SPK, Test Department, Muslimgauze, Bourbonese Qualk, Attrition and the Legendary Pink Dots as well as Stress. Rough Trade were very good to me and distributed my releases worldwide and part financed the label. The Last Supper compilation sold over 1700 copies, which was a huge number for an independent cassette only release. Finance was always a problem though and that’s why I had to cease eventually as the finances just weren’t working out and I always paid the bands first (most labels didn’t) so I always had a problem with the cash flow. It meant I got to stay with SPK when I went to see them about a release (I missed my last train home as we were talking so much, so they said I could stay with them). I also lived at the Bourbonese Qualk HQ, The Ambulance Station for a while. That was a really crazy place. And of course I was close friends with Attrition and the Legendary Pink Dots and helped run a mail order record store with them for a while. All great experiences.
Is this a definite come back of the band? Are you planning on releasing some new material?
If you mean Stress, we did record a few new tracks together a year ago and there is more older material left to re-issue too. So there may be more Stress material due to re-surface, but I don’t think we will be re-forming as a unit unless something changes radically.
Now I’d like to ask you a bit about Dance Naked. In 2014, you re-issued “Point of Change” in CD and Vinyl. How was the opportunity to do this?
Point of Change wasn’t really a re-issue, it was more a completely new retrospective album with tracks from our ‘The Hidden God’ release, plus lots of previously unreleased tracks, all in a completely new and specially created sleeve design. That came about as lots of people had been asking me for copies of old Dance Naked releases as these were really, really, rare and Dance Naked had become a cult band over the years so people were desperate to get hold of them. Philipp (the head of Aufnahme & Wiedergabe records) was one of those asking so I said to him that we would be interested in doing a re-issue, but re-mastered and with more tracks included and with new artwork. A&W are a great and very artistic label so they said yes and let us have complete freedom with the design. It’s a great package, gatefold vinyl with a CD version mounted on the sleeve. It’s gone really well an everyone loves it. All the reviews have been completely positive and its had airplay on radio and TV.
How was the experience of working with Kleo Kay, Roger Foyster and Cary Meadows?
Kleo and I were already together at the time Stress split (and we still are!) and we knew Roger and Cary from their band ‘Garden of Delights’ so it was really quick for us to form Dance Naked with them. We worked really well with Roger, but Cary was more difficult (drummers often are!). We also worked with Alex Novak (from Venus Fly Trap) as a second singer for a while too and David Donley (who now plays with Glen Matlock) on guitar. As we shared a lot of interest in the occult with Roger that comes through really strongly in the lyrics and music so I would say that Dance Naked was really Kleo, Roger and myself as the core. There is a lot of meaning within each song and we reflected that in the artwork too. That’s what made Dance Naked a bit different.
Dance Naked Bronze Contempt
Do you have any plans to release some new material with Dance Naked?
We are writing new material now. It takes me time to do as we have new equipment now and I am a slow learner! It won’t sound exactly the same, but it will have the same depth and energy as before. I am a big believer in trying out new things and don’t want it to sound just like anyone else. That’s difficult to do but we have the experience and the right attitude we so will be able to do it. I also want everything to come out on vinyl first, with CD and download as secondary, so we need labels to work with us on getting a really nice presentation together. I’d love A&W to do more releases in the future so they will be our first choice to do that.
Any other plans for the future?
We are working on a soundtrack project based on the Stanford Project so look out for that. It probably won’t be under the name of Dance Naked so we will have to find a different name to use for that one. We are building up our studio set up too and also seem to be meeting lots of famous musicians purely by chance recently so who knows what the future may hold?
Finally, Any words for Subte Rock?
As I am sure you will have noticed, I am a big advocate of doing things less obviously. Following fashion or producing the music you are expected by others to will never, ever, result in any originality or create something special and new. Always look for the unusual and do things in a way that you are not supposed to. I really don’t like technical musicians, especially in music stores where they always show off. If you want to play a guitar with a hammer that’s just fine with me! In fact, it’s better! Subte Rock is doing great things by featuring non mainstream music. Please keep on doing that!
— Subte Rock (@subterock) June 1, 2015