Past, Present, Future: John Wisniewski interviews Chris Carter

Posted: 27 May 2021 in Interviews
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Many artists are referred to as legendary, but only few deservingly so. As a member of the wreckers of civilisation, Throbbing Gristle, Chris Carter’s status is not only legendary, but notorious and seminal – everything you could wish for from a groundbreaking artist. Throbbing Gristle boke so much new ground it’s almost impossible to quantify their influence – and Carter broke yet more ground with his first post-TG output as Chris and Cosey, with Cosey Fanni Tutti: the pair practically invested trance music (as their 1981 LP, Trance evidences).

Carter’s never been content to bask in his previous achievements, and has sustained a career in the pursuit of continual evolution, with a steady stream of releases, not least of all the trilogy of albums with Carter Tutti Void, a collaboration between him and Cosey with industrial revivalists Factory Floor.

With a new range of modular and other musical gear recently launched and a reissue programme in full swing, John Wisniewski caught up with Chris to talk about projects past, present, and future.

JW: What are you currently working at,  Chris?

CC: Right now I’ve had to break off from a couple of ongoing projects to refit and rewire our studio. Last year we decided to rationalise our recording setup, sell off some equipment and scale back on gear we no longer or rarely used any more. So I’m busy boxing up things to send off to new owners, in-between crawling around under desks plugging cables into sockets and whatnot.

Can we talk about Throbbing Gristle. How Did you meet the other members of the group?

We met through our mutual friend the artist John Lacey, at one of my solo performances back in the mid 1970s. John’s father Bruce Lacey (who was a well known performance artist) was also the caretaker at the building where Cosey and Genesis had an art workspace in East London, and one thing led to another.

What was it like being in Throbbing gristle?

Well really you should read Cosey’s autobiography Art Sex Music for the full story on what it was like in TG. It was exhilarating, fun and exciting while also being at times truly awful, emotionally draining and a lot of bloody hard work. But it was where I met Cosey and we fell in love so I wouldn’t change any of that for the world.

What was the audience reaction to the music?

The audience reaction usually began with confusion which then often quickly turned to hostility. But it was an unusual time back then, in that we were almost impossible to categorise. We weren’t electronic or prog, or rock and punks hated us and our sound, which is ironic because the press continually referred to us as a punk band. Actually that was part of the problem because punks would turn up expecting to see a typical four piece band with a drummer and what they got was nothing like that, visually or aurally. Cue bottles being thrown and fights with the audience.

How did you meet Cosey to form Chris And Cosey?

As I said, we met when we formed TG. When TG imploded in 1981 we decided to go our own way with a completely new sound, as Chris & Cosey. Actually we could see the writing on the wall way before TG actually split-up and we’d begun writing and recording Chris & Cosey songs months before TG parted ways. In fact we got a C&C record deal with Rough Trade within weeks of the TG split and had our first album Heartbeat released before the year ended.

Any favorite music groups? Who do you like in electronic music?

Wow that’s one of those impossible questions. I’ve been listening to all kinds of music for 60 years and I’ve come to realise that my music tastes subtly changes from decade to decade. Partly because I’m hearing new things all the time, which take me off in different directions of discovery. Last year I was listening to a lot of Electrofolk but at the moment I’m revisiting and appreciating the finer points of Afrofuturism.

Any future plans and projects, Chris?

Yes, lots of future plans, a few are top secret but some I can mention. I’m slowly putting together a followup to my Chemistry Lessons Volume 1 LP,  the new album has the unusual title of Chemistry Lessons Volume 2… it’s sounding good. I’m compiling parts for a few TG albums and reissues for Mute and we are remastering some of the early Chris & Cosey back catalogue for rerelease next year.

Electronic Ambient Remixes 1 & 3 are out on vinyl on 31 July 2021.

AA

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More at Chris Carter’s website.

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