INTERVIEW! Pete Hope : industrial Avant-Garde post-punk legend
Chief vocal protagonist/musician, Peter Hope has been a pioneering force of nature within the realm of Industrial Avant-Garde & Experimental Post-Punk from the early eighties.
Beginning in Sheffield, he has been embossing his distinctive mark with past collaborative projects and bands such as The Box, Richard. H. Kirk’s, Hoodoo Talk, Dry Hip Rotation (with Juno ‘Kumo’ and Podmore) and Flex 13, alongside the legendary, Charlie Collins. Right through to present day with his, NO SCENE, pH2, and Experimental Acid-House projects. Pete also has his solo album, Do You Want Sex?, released in the summer of this year on his independent/D.I.Y label, Wrong Revolution and most recently has dropped another collaborative gem with his extensive creative partner, Charlie Collins titled ‘Post Industrial Forgery’. Pete is no stranger to being featured here at Louderthanwar, but he has graciously taken the time, once again, to throw down fresh insight into his current circumstance, as well as his most recent creative endeavors with the artists/producers and labels he is involved with and has been inspired by, sharing his unique thoughts and opinions, alongside dropping his forthcoming sonic ventures which shall lead us kicking & reeling into the very new and cosmically shiny 2018…….
Miff – L.T.W – Currently living in Tutaki, New Zealand, what were the influencing factors which drew you to reside there?
Pete Hope – Physically, the world looks very different if you turn your atlas upside down. This can also be applied to anything where a single perspective is taken as being the only perspective. Isolation and space have always been important to me. I’ve found that as I’ve got older I need people less and less. After living for 10 years in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland it was time to move on to new challenges and NZ ticked the boxes with the added incentive that my daughter & her family were here.
Miff –L.T.W- 2011 you formed, Pete Hope’s Exploding Mind, after a nine-year hiatus. Can you give us some insight into, Exploding Mind and the artists who you have worked with under that project name?
Pete Hope – Yeah, I’d kind of given up making music when we moved to the Isle Of Harris, I was done with city life, and although I always had a great affinity with Sheffield I just wanted to throw it all up in the air and see if a different kind of life was possible. Wrong Revolution came about via renewed interest from the Vienna label Klanggalerie who’d asked me to compile an album of collaborations. and from that, I did a couple of gigs, one in Wroclaw, Poland & one in Vienna, where I ended up living for 6 months with the definite aim of getting back into doing music again. The Exploding Mind, as a project/band, was formed initially for the gigs. Via Klanggalerie I was hooked up with Natasha Schampus who played Moog & percussion and we hit it off musically and quickly became friends.Once I was in Vienna this expanded to some extent; Albin Julius (Der Blutharsch & the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand) got involved with some recordings.
Pete Hope – Back on the Isle of Harris I’d also had a chance meeting with Richard France (a.k.a. Deafnoise) who happened to be from Sheffield and was visiting the island. I was fascinated by the idea of a deaf musician who worked primarily from vibration. Again, we hit it off easily, I’ve already released his album (An Eye For An Ear) and he came over to Vienna for an intense few days of sonic saturation. Mahk Rumbae (Konsruktivists & Codex Empire), who was also living in Vienna, wrote some tracks with me too. All this material ended up on the album ‘Hot Crow From The Wrong Hand Side’ (www.hauruck.org) with other reclaimed backing tracks from an earlier project (White Trash) with DJ Parrot, Ross Orton & Phil Jones from Sheffield.
Miff – L.T.W – You own a truly magnificent body of works on your independent record label, Wrong Revolution. Can you give us some insight into the label, and the liberty it has brought you for releasing material?
Pete Hope – I wanted to take a very d.i.y. approach and had scored a whole box full of card digipack sleeves from Benbecula Records when it folded, I was also interested in cassette culture and the labels that were starting to crop up as a reaction to the corporate digital annihilation of creativity. I’ve always thought that music and the way it’s presented aesthetically go hand in hand, and although I couldn’t afford to put out vinyl I could, at least, make a desirable and individual package. So, I started off with a cassette release that was a compilation of past and overlooked oddities I’d recorded, then I did a DVD/cassette package of some Mexican bands that I’d discovered through the videos of Cassettezultan, who, for me, exemplified what I was trying to do. The first CD release was the Deafnoise album which, by its very nature, defied categorisation. So this was the template, if you like, from where I started looking back at work I’d done during the 90’s, some of which was extra material to released albums and some of which had simply fallen through the net, not been picked up, for whatever reason, but I still felt very strongly about its quality.
Pete Hope – I always try to avoid expectations of how any of the releases will be received, I enjoy the creative process and am happy if only 20 people respond enthusiastically and positively to what I’ve made. I’ve had plenty of opportunity over the years to make more commercial or acceptable choices but, to paraphrase Ivor Cutler, “When the land tilts/run north / leave the family…. / the land tilted and I ran south / for not only did the land tilt the other way / but no one tells me what to do….”. I believe in spontaneity and chance and would rather have that than the sterility of carefully considered commercial compromise,… blimey, there’s a catchy acronym for you!
Miff – L.T.W – How surprised have you been at the reaction towards releasing older bodies of material on your label? and the observation in how well the music translates into the very here and now?
Pete Hope – Trends and fashions in music have never been something that interested me and i guess, because of that, it’s often hard to place the music i do in any particular time period. This year i released a couple of tracks that were recorded 27 years ago and fit perfectly with the sounds and style of a label that pushes the envelope of experimental house & techno. Mostly, if i didn’t put a date on it, it’d be hard to know when it was made; music is cyclical in that respect, influences, sounds and styles are in a constant state of flux. I’m hearing new music now that could easily have been part of what was appearing in 1980, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less exciting or vital.
Miff – L.T.W – June of this year you were snapped up by, Netherland based record label, New York Haunted with a release titled NYH82 pH2 – Gut Acid. Can you tell us about the label and how you fell in with NYH? Will you be releasing any more material on there in the near future?
Pete Hope – This was one of those wonderfully random things that seem to create their own inertia. I’d released the Criminal Face EP at the end of 2016, which is loosely speaking a hip-house thing. Doing this had thrown up a couple of Acid tracks, as I already mentioned, from 1990 that inspired me to get a couple of re-works underway (Da GobliNN & Oicho/David Harrow). That old acid sound is really infectious and David came up with 2 new tracks, plus I had some raw backing tracks that Parrot, who’d just dropped the Crooked Man album on DFA, had given me when that project was started. It all had a real immediacy to it; the sound, the composition,… everything. So I started taking it a bit more seriously and began hunting around a bit further to see what people were doing.
Pete Hope – Clan Destine Records had turned me onto the whole Detroit Sludge sound and somewhere in amongst following one link through to another, I hit on NYH. This was around the new year and the label was offering the whole catalogue to download for about 18 euros, it was something like 60 releases… Everything I listened to was exciting, interesting, challenging or just wonderfully extreme. So I start sending tracks out to people, trying to get a response and get a couple of bites, one of which is Vincent at NYH who just came across as being a great bloke, loved the material and was totally up for putting it out. Then an Italian label wanted to take 4 of the tracks to put out on a 12”, and for a while, I was considering how to split the tracks and release on both labels but I just wasn’t getting the same sort of vibe from the Italian label that was coming from NYH. I love what Vincent is doing, his passion is inspiring and his taste impeccable, so I really hope to have a follow-up, for sure.
Miff – L.T.W – How has collaborating musically with other artists, in different countries around the world been for you? What have you found to be the pluses and minuses of working in that way?
Pete Hope – If you’re not actually working with someone face to face it doesn’t matter where they are. I believe you come together out of mutual respect and appreciation…. check your ego at the door, just concentrate on making good music.
Miff – L.T.W- I would say you own an almost chameleon style quality towards shaping your distinctive words around the atmosphere and overall tone of other artists instrumentation. Would you say there is a difference in shaping words around music, then music around words? What comes most naturally for you?
Pete Hope – I can’t think of a time when the words have been recorded first. They might exist in some shape before the music is recorded but I need to react to the feeling I get from the sounds and rhythms, the cerebral part of the composition is secondary to the body or gut feeling and the shapes and colours that are beyond words. When the voodoo’s right all you have to do is ride the wave.
Miff – L.T.W – Your most recent Acid/Experimental House Project has seen you release a track titled ‘2WayOut’ in collaboration with the highly influential artist/producer, David Harrow, you have worked with David on many occasions before, can you give us some insight into your rapport with the man? and what seems to be the key factor to your creative functionality?
Pete Hope – David & I released the Sufferhead Ep through Ink Records in 1986 but had known each other for 2 or 3 years before that. He was a big fan The Box, my first proper band. We always intended to do more together, but life happens, we lost touch, he moved to Berlin, worked with On U Sound and ended up in the States. We reconnected via Facebook maybe 8 or 10 years ago. At some point, we mooted the idea of trying something and then, I think, in early 2013 he sent me some tracks that we released digitally as the Sufferhead EP follow-up! Then in 2015, Walter, from Klanggalerie asked us if we’d do some more tracks, put them all together and make an album.
Pete Hope – The whole thing had a very European feel to it and, in many ways, seemed to span across the interim years taking in much of what had influenced our first recordings; electro (which in turn was influenced by the electronic sounds of Kraftwerk etc.), all the way through techno and into a more bass driven modern sound. As far as rapport goes, it’s unsaid! If we were to start dissecting it or trying to influence or shape what the other was doing it’d probably all go to shit. We’ve not seen each other for 30 years and communication is just by messaging on FB. He’s threatening to come to NZ next year so maybe we’ll finally meet again in the physical realm. Yeah, we’ve got 2 new completed Acid tracks and there’s some other African style percussive tracks on the back burner, so I’m guessing we ain’t done yet!
Miff -L.T.W – I was surprised that your current album, ‘Do You Want Sex?’ is only the second fully-fledged solo album of your long spanning musical career. Can you give us insight into why this is the case? and how did the albums creative process go down for you this time around?
Pete Hope – I started off purely as a vocalist although I’ve always played with sound for my own amusement. When I did start doing some basic programming and playing bits of keyboard etc. it was always in a collaboration project where my main role was still as the singer. At the end of 2012 I returned to Sheffield for about a year and started getting more into playing my old Moog whilst working with Deafnoise, but it wasn’t until I came to NZ that I decided I should try and actually make my own music from scratch. To be honest i’m not really that interested in equipment so I just gathered together the few odds and ends I’d been dragging around with me for the past twenty odd years; the Moog, a ridiculously simple and unreliable drum machine, a kalimba, a vocal mic & a couple of effects boxes and began putting things down using Audacity on the computer. I kept it simple, using the technology like an old 4 track porta-studio.
Pete Hope – Anyway, that bunch got taken up by Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw & released on his label, which was brilliant, I was obviously doing something right. ‘Do You Want Sex?’ continued on from that, but was stretched over a longer time period. I recorded the tracks and then stalled. I basically put it away for about 8 months and didn’t listen to it. Although I work quickly I’d still lost objectivity and wasn’t really sure what I wanted from the recordings. The idea for the A5 booklet format was the thing that brought it to life, marrying images to the songs as well as presenting the lyrics. Once the basic sleeve image emerged the rest of it, running order & track choices, came together quite quickly. It felt good to kick it out of the nest and let it fly so I could move on.
Miff – L.T.W – I was talking to a friend the other day and she was expressing that sometimes she feels art/music has lost the plot, as there is so much technology involved in what we do and how we produce works somehow seems to be losing any real individuality. What are your views on this topic, Pete?
Pete Hope – That’s exactly what they want you to think!
Miff – L.T.W – I am fascinated by your spoken word/poetry/lyrical craftsmanship. Can you provide some insight into the evolution of your writing? And are there shifts in experimental, avant-garde music that works for, or sometimes against the use of words?
Pete Hope – I’ve always been compelled to write and so the development of the way I write has been very organic and long-term. I don’t plan what I write and don’t put any restrictions on the way any particular piece evolves. I let the ideas lead me and decide how long or short a piece should be, whether it rhymes or doesn’t, is subject specific or stream of consciousness. My aim is always to convey a feeling, if I can’t capture that in my performance then I scrap it, change my perspective and start again from a different place. Avant-garde & experimental are labels that imply freedom, so within that context any personal value judgement becomes invalid.
Miff – L.T.W – What authors/artists/musicians inspire you these days, and for what reasons?
Pete Hope – I might be unusual in that I’m constantly inspired by new music and new artists, the problem being, that there’s so much out there and it’s forever changing. I still feel as excited by something new that I’ve just discovered as I did 35 years ago. I’ve loved watching Sun Araw develop, I don’t have to like everything he’s done to appreciate how unconstrained he is. Likewise, Shit & Shine reliably surprise and challenge that artists like these are out there making records, touring and hopefully making a living from their unbridled inventiveness is totally inspiring. On heavy rotation a.t.m – Wetware, Total Leatherette, Broken English Club, Gross Net, Guerilla Toss, Kuvero B. Kate Tempest is a true wordsmith & both her written work and her performances are genuinely passionate. In particular the photography of Richard Ballan and the art Lonnie Holley I find very moving. But, once again, there is always something new to discover and be thrilled by, there’s just not enough hours in the day to keep track of it all. >>This could turn into an endless list, suffice to say passionate irreverence is the key.
Miff -L.T.W – Even within the ‘Experimental’ tag, I have noticed there are still certain formats and boundaries. I have always thought experimental should be wide open & out with any kind of trend. What does the word experimental mean to you? and in what way do you perceive experimental music today?
Pete Hope – Maybe ‘Experimental’ is the new ‘Independent’. The whole idea of Independent was a post-punk thing that was more based on a band being on a label that was independent of any major company. Once you could have an ‘Indie’ band on a major company the whole idea was irrelevant. So now, I guess, experimental has come to mean something that’s more independent and less controlled or fashioned by mainstream ideas. For me experimental means working outside of any rigid construct, so even within a specific genre, it can still be applied. Perhaps the problem of too many styles and sub-styles or genres has led to people wanting to widen their expressive horizons and blur the definitions. If so, I reckon that’s a good thing.
Miff -L.T.W- Everything changes. How best would you describe the way in which your approach to music making has changed over the years? and how would you describe the way you go about music making today?
Pete Hope – In many ways, my approach hasn’t changed all that much; I’ve never courted a particular audience or taken the easiest path (probably to my detriment!). When I’m actually making the music any thoughts on who might like it or want to buy it don’t exist. It’s only after the creative part is done that I sit back and try and work out if it might have any appeal. I worry less now if people don’t like it, expectations are a sure fire way of being disappointed.
Miff – L.T.W – I assume working with others in the collaborative sense draws a certain amount of awareness onto how you, as an individual, functions as an artist. What valuable lessons have you learned about yourself and become aware of in others when involved in a creatively collaborative situation?
Pete Hope – Don’t second guess, trust your instincts, if the boat won’t float build a kennel to lock the black dog in.
Miff -L.T.W- Most certainly living in this crazy age there will always be something to fuel the fires towards expressing points of view and opinions through music. What material would you say has been the most socio-politically charged over the past couple of years?
Pete Hope – I don’t know, I see disparate things come and go but we’re in dire need of something more cohesive that unifies rather than divides.
Miff -L.T.W – Would you view your music as escapism or a vice to draw awareness?
Pete Hope – I see my music as honest expression. How it’s interpreted beyond that I have no control over.
Miff – L.T.W – Are there any future releases planned in which you can share with us? What can we expect from Wrong Revolution camp over the next few months leading into 2018?
Pete Hope – My old friend, the legendary Charlie Collins & me have an Ep coming out on Attenuation Circuit on October 22nd, which is a taster for a full album of instrumental post-industrial electronics, which may or may not be released on Wrong Revolution. I’m hoping to have a follow-up pH2 EP finished before the end of the year, hopefully for release on New York Haunted. Iv/An got me to do vocals on a couple of his tracks for release as a CD single. Beyond that my current obsession is NO SCENE which picks up from where ‘Do You Want Sex?’ left off. I have great hopes that’s going to come out on vinyl, probably not through Universal though.