For more than thirty years Martin Bowes has been working under the name Attrition doing electronic - experimental music.  Attrition emerged from the experimental post-punk scene of the early 1980s and, along with other groups such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Einstürzende Neubauten, and In the Nursery, greatly contributed to the development of industrial music in the UK. On the occasion of their upcoming appearance at Death Disco in Athens (24 of January 2015) we had the chance to ask Martin Bowes a few questions about Attrition and his plans for the future and we really appreciated the fact that he replied to us immediately.

First of all, i’d like to ask you about the last remix album ‘Narcissist vs One Horse Rider’.Why did you decide to ‘release’ this album, especially when it includes so many remixes for just these two songs?
The beauty of the digital age. I received a LOT of remixes for these 2 singles when they were released….  Some were included as bonus tracks on the eps themselves… and some were bonus downloads when the album, The Unraveller of Angels, was released in 2013.
I decided to make them all available as a downloadable  collection… and free for quite some time.. It proved to be very popular.

Looking back on your extensive discography, which album are you most proud of? Which album do you consider to be the quintessential ATTRITION album?
While I do have some attrition songs that are close to my heart…and that is usually for personal reasons concerning the subject… I don’t believe I can choose a single album that I would say I am most proud of.  ATTRITION  is an ongoing body of work and every album is a chapter if you like. I often compare them to photo albums.

What is the source of your inspiration and creativity?
Love. Life. Sex. Experience. Family. Friends. Art. Music. Literature. Film. Travel. Heaven and Hell…. This can go on and on 

The Gothic element is more than obvious in your work. Do you delight in gloom and doom, or is it just an affectation?
I really don’t know. I do appreciate the gothic in terms of art and literature and style. But in music what is termed “gothic” I usually find doesn’t say very much to me.  And music is primarily communication. I would say my music is perhaps more thoughtful and melancholic at times rather than gothic. And there is a dark humour in there that may be missed.  But I only make it I try not to label it.

Musical genres such as experimental, dark ambient, ritual, industrial structures or neo-classical passages all comprise your unique style.What is the magic ingredient that combines all them, creating the atmosphere the project emits?
I think that is partly the ingredient of time and experience. I have a desire to work with a wider range of music  palettes  than when I started out on this journey all those years ago…. And gradually the range has expanded…. And I have experimented over the years… so while I may write a rhythmic electronic piece one day, I may then experiment with live string players the next… I need that variety in expression. It doesn’t always make it easy to market attrition. But I’m fine with that. Ultimately I  am  the catalyst for all this and so the prime would be me …

What are your emotions towards the early years of Attrition? Can you describe the differences between ''yesterday'' and ''today''?
I sometimes go back there… listen to an older work or look through the photographs…. It was a good time. A  Naïve time in terms of life and skills and  the  industry as a whole…. But a thrilling  time in those early 80’s, a voyage of discovery, and not only for us there was a whole music scene emerging  back then…
So things have matured now, both personally and in terms of the scene… but I still find it just as challenging and just as exciting working with music… it often feels like I am just beginning and have so much to do. So in that way nothing has changed. It’s a good feeling…

Tell us about your influences for the artwork…I can think of one, Philippe Fichot (of Die Form), am I right?
Even though I did start out as a painter and sculptor, I long ago decided to concentrate on music… so I work with artists for the artwork and I search fort people that understand my work and I see many of the same attributes in their work…. Its gone well… over the years I have worked with many talented artists such as John Santerineross, Matt Lombard, and more recently Holger  Karas…  Of course I am aware of Philippe’s work , as contemporaries in music we have known each other for many years, and I would say that’s the only connection…. I do like Die Form, They were the first band I remixed here in my studio back in 1993…and we played a show with them in Belgium in 1997.

Which are the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you enjoying listening to nowadays?
I was kick started into music by the punk scene in the late 70’s… and still love and am inspired by that today… following on by post punk of Joy Division and Magazine and the first electronic  bands like  Kraftwerk and Cabaret Voltaire and the early Human League… and of course that is just the tip of the iceberg… nowadays I work with many bands in my studio here, The Cage, and so listen to so much new music all the time… maybe not famous bands as times have changed… but there is still a lot of really good new music out there if we look for it…

Returning to the present day, which are your next steps concerning Attrition? Are there plans for a new studio album or perhaps something else?
I am just completing a new  ATTRITION album with Anni Hogan… “Millions of the Mouthless Dead” is a very dark ambient excursion into the horrors of the first World War, inspired by my grandfathers  time on the western front in 1917. The album includes war poetry readings from a  number of guests, including Wolfgang  Flur (ex Kraftwerk)… it will be released in the spring of 2015.
Otherwise…. I am starting to write new songs and I collaborate on new projects, including a side project I began in 1996, ENGRAM, that is finally completing its debut album…

Apart from music, what else are you interested in?
I love the arts of course… but very important to me are my 2 children, Naomi and Jordan, and my wife Kerri… who also plays keyboards live with me…sometimes its good to step away from music for a little while…it’s never very long though…

What can we expect for your upcoming gig in Athens? A classic setlist or mostly new songs?
Well importantly it’s the debut show for my new singer Samantha, so it’s an important show for us, and we loved playing at Death Disco last year so we’re very pleased to be back.
The set will be a mix of songs from recent albums and a few updated oldies in there too, a very upbeat set….
We look forward to seeing you there!
Thanks  for the interview.
Martin Bowes. Coventry. England. 2014.

audio production and mastering 

interview by Marilia Fotopoulou