The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


INTERVIEW: Marc Almond On Desertshore
Luke Turner , November 19th, 2012 12:49

We begin a series of interviews with the guest vocalists from Desertshore with Marc Almond, who sings Nico's 'The Falconer'

Add your comment »

The first time I became aware of the connection between Coil and Marc Almond was via the Sleazy-directed video for the former's cover of 'Tainted Love', released in 1985, and in which the singer has a cameo role. One of the most affecting cover versions I've ever heard, it was one of the very first artistic responses to the growing HIV/AIDS crisis, and was a benefit single for the Terence Higgins Trust. Now, Almond is one of the vocalists contributing to Desertshore, Sleazy's project to record a version of Nico's 1970 album, completed by Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti after his death. Almond's take on 'The Falconer' sees his ever-rich vocal, both low and high parts, playing over a growling pulse. Here, Almond tells us about his relationship with Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson and the music of Nico.

"I first met Peter in the very early 80s when Psychic TV signed to Some Bizzarre to make an album. I adored him straight away. He had a lovely calm demeanour, was wise and at the same time mischievous, and knew all about great films, art and books. He became a good friend, along with his partner Jeff Rushton, later Jhon Balance. I guested with PTV on their album Force The Hand Of Chance and later on some of the Coil albums. Peter directed many of my early solo pop videos, we loved to see how subversive we could be without alarming the major labels, using homoerotic signs and symbols and of course good-looking lads as extras. We had a lot of fun.

"Nico was a mysterious figure, enigmatic with that great musical and artistic connection to The Velvet Underground and Warhol, which were things I was obsessed about at school. And of course that wonderful intriguing voice, icy and remote yet warm at the same time. She made a sound I'd never heard before - maybe some sort of a gothic punk Marlene Dietrich. The first time i heard her music was with The Velvet Underground, but I bought Desertshore, The Marble Index and The End and liked them more. There was also her musical association with Brian Eno, which made her more intriguing.

"When I became a musician, she was always at the top of my wish list for a duet of some sort. I was so nervous to contact her and EMI were not really for it at all, as you can imagine. I wanted to make sure that she was treated like the legend and the star I felt she was. EMI balked at her demands, but I was insistent. It turned out she was lovely if fragile, and we played pool and drank tea and talked for ages. The song was a problem, it turned out to be a bit too complicated, too orchestral for her and she began to deteriorate as the day went on and the methadone took effect. She still managed to deliver that wonderful Nico voice. We left on warm terms with plans for a better track more suited to her.

"'The Falconer' is my favourite Nico song. I wanted to sing it at a tribute show John Cale put on a couple of years ago but all the good songs had been taken. Nico's vocal is remote and otherworldly. It gives the track quite a haunting bleakness, like a subtitled European film. It conjures up so many wonderful filmic images. I wanted my vocal to have an otherwordly quality too. Something that could make you shiver. I recorded the song with a few different approaches and let Chris have plenty to work with and make a final decision. Apart from singing my favorite Nico song, this was a great opportunity to work with Chris and Cosey."

Desertshore is released next Monday, November 26th. For more information on the album, and to preorder, visit the Industrial Records website

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

Nov 19, 2012 10:04am

Marc Almond is a legend. Has any other artist flitted so effortlessly between high and low art, pop and avant garde, humour and heartache, as effortlessly as him? He's been a massively underrated force in the last four decades of music and as such should be appreciated more than he is.

Reply to this Admin

Little Louder
Nov 20, 2012 4:06pm

In reply to Hooligan:

100% agree, this man needs a film made about his life at the very least.

Reply to this Admin

Nov 21, 2012 5:16am

In reply to Little Louder:

Agree with both those posters

Reply to this Admin

Nov 26, 2012 2:10am

In reply to Hooligan:

My favorite musician of all time. I find it curious that the name of the duet that Marc and Nico did - "Your Kisses Burn" - from the album The Stars We Are is not mentioned. I remember seeing photos of them playing pool during that session and thinking, that is a room full of crazy genius.

Marc Almond is one of the few fantastically talented singers who also has great taste in music. His songs have meant more to me than almost anyone else's... I still play "Bedsitter" before anything else, every time I move into a new apartment and set up my stereo.

Reply to this Admin

Greg Reason
Dec 10, 2012 2:33pm

Thanks for all these Sleazy articles!

Out of respect for Coil though I must point out Jhonn Balance's name is spelled Geff, not Jeff.

All the beast

Reply to this Admin

Aug 26, 2015 4:44am

In reply to Greg Reason:

And may I point out that he spelled it john, jhonn, Jeff, geoff, and whatever else he felt like at the moment.

Reply to this Admin