Alien Sex Fiend has since the 80's been a huge influence on the Goth scene. They've been around for about 25 years always giving new and captivating shows across Europe, Asia, and the US. I recently got to talk with Nik Fiend and his wife, Mrs.Fiend, so with no further delay see what they had to say.
DJ Azoicer: What's the story behind the name "Alien Sex Fiend"? How did you come forth with that name?
Nik Fiend: We were looking for a name that would be multidimensional, and have different meanings, something interesting. We kept writing lists of different names
Mrs.Fiend:Someone came up with "Heavy Thunder War Lizard," it all got well silly! But a name like that implied "metal" and the idea was to avoid having a name that implied anything in terms of music direction.
Nik Fiend: Yeah, can you imagine all of us in spandex, with poodle hair cuts and "sing-along metal" (laughs). So that was definitely out!! We were after something more tripped out and Alien Sex Fiend was
DJ Azoicer: How does it feel to go on a Batcave tour after not doing it for so many years?
Nik Fiend:It will be odd playing again with Specimen. We haven't played together since around 1983. We've always just done our own thing, which is Alien Sex Fiend, whether that was a gig at The Batcave club or anywhere else.
Mrs Fiend:Whether in the UK or in Japan.
Nik Fiend:Specimen had founded The Batcave Club in Soho, London and liked what we were doing, so they booked us at the club, and that set everything on fire. Then we played at various special Batcave events, like Heaven, and we did a UK Batcave tour with Specimen in the summer of 1983. But in between we were also doing major London shows with Sisters Of Mercy and The Gun Club. So although the Batcave was an initial launch pad for us we quickly started getting gig offers from all over the world
Mrs Fiend:The whole fiend thing just tookoff.
Nik Fiend:We quickly ended up with a record deal, and then it was non-stop touring. Actually Specimen went over to the US on tour, the original plan was for us to go with them but that didn't work out. So this tour in June will put the record straight.
Mrs Fiend:We're like 2 different sides of the Batcave, whereas Specimen stopped around 1985, we continued. So it will be strange for them reforming after all this time. Also they are more glam rock whereas we're more in yer face musically. The fact that this is being billed as a "Batcave" tour won't make much difference to what we, Alien Sex Fiend, will be doing. We wanted to do a tour as a kind of "Greatest Hits" anniversary tour for ourselves anyway, that just happened to coincide with the Batcave anniversary, that's how it's all come together. We
will do our show as we always have done. We've been releasing albums over the last 25 years and have been to the US a number of times, so for us this tour is simply a continuation of what we have always done.
Nik Fiend: We will be playing songs from all across the years, from say 'RIP' (which was on the Batcave album (Numb Hymns)), 'Ignore the Machine' (the first single), and stuff from "Acid Bath" as well as "Curse"from the 1990s
Mrs Fiend:We did a lot of shows in the US at that time!
Nik Fiend: And all the way through up into some new material.
DJ Azoicer: What's your expectations on the USA tour?
Nik Fiend: It's been a very long time since we were last over there.
Mrs Fiend:And even longer since we played the west coast, so of course we are extremely excited at the prospect.
Nik Fiend: But there's a way to go yet, visas and that takes time
Mrs Fiend: And they've gotta let us in still(laughs)
Nik Fiend: So we are trying not to get too carried away.
Mrs Fiend: I've told everyone in the crew "don't start cheering until we are out of the airport!"
DJ Azoicer: What do you think about being described as goth?
Mrs Fiend: It's only a problem if it puts off anyone from checking out our music. Ideally we would prefer not to have any labels attached to us, but that's not very realistic. The media do like their pigeon holes, and they started it!
Nik Fiend: As far as I'm concerned we are Alien Sex Fiend and that's it. I like too many types of music personally to be into labeling everything. Our main mission was to break down musical barriers, and we still try to do that, but I can understand that because of the imagery
we are assumed to be "goth" but there is a whole lot more going on. But there again the whole "goth" genre has broadened out over the years, massively
Mrs Fiend:Yep! Pagan goth, cyber goth, techno goth and so on.
Nik Fiend: It's a pretty large umbrella to be under, so that's ok. What's amazing is how big goth has become, because it used to be used as a very derogative term by UK journalists. So I think it's really hilarious that it's now so widespread. (laughing)
Mrs Fiend: Yeah, they're probably well pissed off that not only is it still around but that it's bigger than ever! Actually we took part on a radio discussion about what is and isn't goth. They ran message boards and what have you; and the upshot of whole thing was no 2 people could agree on what is goth, so there you go! Some goths don't consider us goth because of the humor in our songs or on-stage, so I'm confused myself. Call us what you like! (Laughs)
DJ Azoicer: Does it help sell your music or dampen it?
Nik Fiend: It probably works both ways, some goths don't like us (for whatever reason), and a lot of other people like us who don't consider themselves goths.
Mrs Fiend:Absolutely! We have skaters, psychobillies, punks, industrial, all sorts of fans. I check out some of the MySpace profiles and I've seen our name next to Bob Dylan or Led Zeppelin or whatever, which I think is great. Someone once said that they thought the band we were most similar to was The Doors, which is fine by me. So I think everyone has a different slant on us.
Nik Fiend: The rule book is the very thing we try to burn. The main thing is that for those who want to listen to us or see us, that they get to do so, I don't want to put barriers up where people think they have to look a particular way to get into a gig or buy a record of ours.
DJ Azoicer: Which persons/bands were you mainly influenced by?
Nik Fiend: There's a cast of thousands! Every time I list stuff out I overlook people!
Mrs Fiend:Nik and my influences vary a bit as well, but we're generally into similar things. But here's a few without whom etc. etc., in no particular order, Suicide, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Public Enemy, Velvet Underground, early Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, The Cramps, Ian
Dury. Not necessarily just musically either, sometimes those band's attitudes have been an influence. Then there's films and books as well, B movies, sci-fi horror movies, bits of glam rock, psychedelia, garage, punk with the whole DIY attitude of "make yer own badges," magazines and fanzines, which is why we did the Fiendzines, and so on. Our record/CD collection is just nuts, from classical stuff to film soundtracks, you name it.
DJ Azoicer: Which song/CD are you most satisfied with?
Mrs Fiend: It's a bit like asking a parent to choose between their children. They all have different attributes, different atmospheres, achieved different things musically, they have all been made at different times and places, so each encapsulates a particular period or feeling. What's really good is how much our songs grow on people, and how many younger fans there are out there just discovering us, that's great. The songs have grown over time and I prefer that to the one hit wonder scenario, or being around and than gone in a few years.
Nik Fiend: All I can say is that there isn't a record that I didn't want to make. No record company or anyone else told me what to do
Mrs Fiend: Though they did try. (Laughing) No chance! The only thing we can't control at all is the compilations that come out and that's simply because of the original record deal.
Nik Fiend: I'm proud, but not smug, about the opportunity that's been given to me to do what I've been able to do. And I'm still fervent to do more stuff, that's the greatest gift of all.
DJ Azoicer: How's your "connection" to your fans? Do you go out among the fans after a succesfull show?
Mrs Fiend: He'd get mobbed man! Anyway all shows are successful. The fact we're still alive at the end of them is something to celebrate, as well as the fact that all my old analogue gear kept going, it's a miracle! It's intense up there. It's definitely a high when you come off stage, all that adrenaline zooming around.
Nik Fiend: Sometimes I'm quite sociable,sometimes I'm more introverted. But yes we do try to meet people after shows. But I'm not one of those "politician" type musicians "let me kiss the baby, and here's a campaign badge!" Mr Popular, ha! I'm just me, I can't be any different. In fact the promoter (of the US tour) is doing meet and greet VIP ticket things, which we've never done before.
Mrs Fiend: It's not something we're used to over here in the UK nor in Europe. If people want an autograph they tend to hang around waiting for us, so the VIP thing is a weird concept for us. To us every fan is important. But that's how people in the US like things done so we will
try our very best to accommodate that.
Nik Fiend: I'm a bit of a split personality on-stage it's not a pantomime, it's not a choreographed worked out show, it's quite impulsive and improvised. It's quite addictive, to be allowed to go on-stage and be a complete lunatic! But at the same time we are self-managed, we don't have people wiping our arses for us, so we have to take care of sensible stuff, and so that's why it's great to go on stage; it's a release. We have a rough skeleton idea of what we're going to do, but it can all change in a moment, we don't really understand how Alien Sex Fiend works all we know is that it does work for us in this way. We don't want to burn it out, so we take care of it. The last thing I would want to do is to go on-stage with everything rehearsed. You know 1-2-3-4 red light, 1-2-3-4- blue light and bend over, 5-6-7-8 masturbate!! I do give everything I've got out on stage.
Mrs Fiend: Nik feels how the audience is reacting and he will go with that and take the rest of the band with him. It's very instinctive. That's why the show is different every time. Like Nik says it would be terrible
if you knew what was coming next, say you knew EXACTLY what the guitarist was gonna play in a particular spot every night, it would bore us. And I think in the end an audience would get bored. An ASF show really is scary seat of the pants stuff. We are hearing that particular song played that way for the first time ourselves. So in that way there is a strong connection to the audience at a live show. Whereas in the studio when you are writing or recording it's difficult to take notice of anyone else when you are creating. Anyway everyone has different notions of now ASF should be or could be - the bottom line is we have to do what we feel is right ... otherwise it wouldn't be true to ASF.
DJ Azoicer: There is a rumor about that you live in or near Cardiff. Is this true?
Nik Fiend: We are nomads!
DJ Azoicer: What do you actually class your music as? Goth? Punk? Deathrock? Rock? Techno? Or do you just not care?
Mrs Fiend: We covered some of this in an earlier question I think. But we have elements of all of those things in what we do and you could add in psychedelic, trippy, there are bits of jazz in some tunes, beats that are a bit drum n bass. We're like a giant melting pot.
Nik Fiend: Ultimately I don't class myself as anything other than Alien Sex Fiend.
Mrs Fiend: We once got described as electro hippy space zombies, so call us what you like.
DJ Azoicer: Looking back on your image, do you class it as deathrock,or do you feel that Deathrockers have stolen their image from old school goths?
Mrs Fiend: Again this labelling all starts getting silly, the lines are so blurry. Back to that radio interview, that was in part what's the difference between emo & goth, I mean, who actually cares about this stuff? All we are doing is our music for those that want to hear
it and who want to see it. We don't care what category you feel you are in or what we're in, all are welcome! For us something like wearing black was a totally practical option given the amount of touring that we did, and the circumstances that we did it in! In the early days you didn't have the time to go off to the launderette or dry cleaners!
Nik Fiend:And if you spilt something over yourself you could just sponge it off. You had what you stood up in & maybe one change of clothes.
Mrs Fiend: I used to have a day set and a gig set and that was it. So it was all more by accident than design. Then I came across some dresses that you can scrunch up in bag for DAYS, then pull 'em out and bung 'em
on and you look like you spent hours getting ready (laughing). The bottom line is that if there's a technical problem with my equipment that is way more important to deal with than doing me bloody eyeliner. So there have been times where I've had 30 minutes to do a total change and get on-stage.
Nik Fiend: As for people stealing stuff, well I think one starts off imitating other people, whether that's bands or your friends and you gradually develop your own style from there. Be that clothes or music or whatever.
DJ Azoicer: What's your opinion in the new Emo/Metal movement? Do they make you ashamed or do you embrace them as a different way to try and rebel?
Mrs Fiend: We don't really have an opinion about this stuff, to be honest we are so busy doing what we do
Nik Fiend:We don't have time to worry about what other people are up to!
DJ Azoicer: Whats it like knowing you played such a huge part in influencing the Goth music movement in the 80s'?
Nik Fiend: Brilliant! But when do we get paid?(Laughs)
Mrs Fiend: Sorry mate but it wasn't just in the 1980s and it's not just goth either, that ol' Fiend influence is all over the place, yes of course Marilyn Manson, but also techno and trance outfits, The Orb, Eat Static, DJs like Andrew Weatherall, CJ Bolland, punk bands, even Rob Halford from Judas Priest for god's sake is apparently a fan, as is Iggy. The list is fucking endless,and we'll start coming across all big headed if I go on!(Laughs)
Nik Fiend: Whether it was one track or whether they've got our entire record output it doesn't matter, as long as it's made 'em happy! Music was meant to be escapism, to get away from rules, regulations and authority. You've got to look this way or listen to that, I am a free man!
DJ Azoicer: There's been rumours flying around that sometime in the summer, you might be playing in London. Is this true? And if not, do you have any plans to?
Nik Fiend: No it's not true. We did a London show in 2007, and since then we've tried to play as many different countries as we can to cover our 25th anniversary thing. So there's no point in doing London again this
soon. We've had to delay recording new material a number of times while those shows were getting finalised and again we've had to delay things for the US shows
Mrs Fiend: Which we don't mind, of course
Nik Fiend: But we've got so many ideas built up I'm gonna explode if we don't get them recorded soon!
Mrs Fiend: So that's the next thing on our agenda, a new album. We always need to push the boundaries and we need to move forward all the time, we can't just sit back, we like to keep challenging ourselves.
DJ Azoicer:Is it a coincidence that a few of the bands that played the Batcave had "sex" in their name? Or is there something more sinister going on?
Mrs Fiend: I think it was just a coincidence one of those synergistic things, something in the atmosphere at the time, maybe.
DJ Azoicer: In which city/country do you enjoy playing the most?
Mrs Fiend: Everywhere! There are Fiend fans all over the world and they are into what we're doing wherever they are, whatever country or city it is. There's not a lot of difference between the audiences. They are into what we do and we try and give 'em the best possible time, we don't hold back, we give 100% every night, we go for it as if there's no tomorrow, we completely forget we have another show to do the next day!
DJ Azoicer: Have you heard any of the newer Goth bands like Cinema Strange, Spectre is Haunting Europe or similar?
What do you think about them if you have heard them?
Mrs Fiend: To be honest it doesn't matter what we think they are doing their thing, and as long as they're happy doing what they do that's cool.
Nik Fiend: I hear loads of music all the time and sometimes I don't even know who it is! We're really the wrong people to be asking about this kind of stuff. We never really "fitted in" anywhere we got called "positive punk" early on, then the other bands who considered themselves to be positive punk didn't think we should be included. Then we had a support band one time who came up and said "oh we're not gothic we're a pagan band" and it all seems to defeat the object to me. All these different factions going up against each other, the very thing we're
trying to do, as Alien Sex Fiend, is say "FUCK the barriers have a good time." Everyone else is arguing all the time, every day, saying "it's their fault, let's blame these people for this or that, my politics or religion is better than yours" it's never ending. It's splitting people into so many factions it's incessant compartmentalising ultimately it's all rock n roll.
DJ Azoicer: There's been a lot of concern in the goth scene recently about EBM/industrial killing it off. How do you feel about this?
Mrs Fiend: To coin a music industry term, god how I hate that word "industry" though it is true of so much formulaic music, it may as well be made in a bloody factory, our fan base is so much broader than that we have fans who are also into "emo" bands, fans also into
"industrial" bands note the punctuation marks there folks!! We have fans also into Bob Dylan like I mentioned before for chrissakes!
Nik Fiend: All these questions seem to be asking "what side of the fence are you on?" Are you with "these" people or "those" people? I don't know what I'm doing, I don't want to know what I'm doing, or to
analyse all of this there is no "How To Be Weird in Five Easy Lessons" rule book as far as I'm concerned. I am not against any of these people I don't see myself as "anything" - we are Alien Sex Fiend & that is that. That's all I'm guilty of guv'nor!!
DJ Azoicer: Also, people have been saying that less and less young people have been getting into the goth scene. How do you feel about this? Do you do anything to encourage youngsters to get involved, and why do you think this is the case?
Mrs Fiend: They may not be getting into goth but they're certainly getting into us! The London show we did was a complete mix - loads of young fans as well as the ones that saw us back in the 90s and even the 80s. We've got parents bringing their kids along too. And from what I'm seeing we're getting a shed load of younger fans via MySpace - they're all asking about All Ages shows on the US tour & stuff, & the promoter is doing his best to get every show as All Ages, because he's aware of that.
Nik Fiend: No wonder they're not joining in with "goth" if it keeps putting rules up for them!! You can join in if you follow rule #1, & then look like rule #2, & only listen to rule #3. Oh & don't talk to anyone who thinks differently or isn't wearing de rigeur goth....blah
blah. WELL here's a couple of fuckers who didn't & don't give a fuck about labels - maybe that's why the younger ones are coming to us, to Alien Sex Fiend - Aha here's something that's not inside a bloody compartment!! That's not corporate. That's not homogenised shit in the middle ground. We're something out of the window & it includes whatever it fancies, & for a young mind THAT'S what they're looking for. Not something that some media man has come up with. When I was a young person the people I liked were those who didn't fit in - even someone like Salvador Dali - he didn't fit in with the surrealists - though that
was what he was labelled...
DJ Azoicer: Nik, seeing that you're an artist
Nik Fiend: Some might say!(laughs)
DJ Azoicer: What's your favourite piece you've painted?
Nik Fiend: All of them! Or I wouldn't have bothered! I'm not stupid! The same with the music I've never done anything that I didn't want to do. It's not a matter of being big-headed, I just go my own way, I HAVE
to - rightly or wrongly. I'm sure I could have made more money if I'd been calculated about everything - but I don't have that inclination.
DJ Azoicer: Who is your favourite artist, and what infulences your art?
Nik Fiend: Salvador Dali & Alice Cooper. When I was doing shit day jobs for a living - I looked at those 2 & thought I wouldn't mind a bit of that! But coming form a working class background - I guess it was like the London version of Detroit - it didn't seem to be a realistic option for me. So when the punk thing happened it made things possible & open to people like me - those things had previously been out of reach to people like me. You had to be able play 10 zillion chords or something! Punk changed all of that for me & many other people too. It enabled me
to start my own band, go into a recording studio, make my own records, design my own covers, T-shirts, everything opened up for me. But musically I wanted to do something broader than punk - though I wanted to keep that attitude -& that's the same with the art. No I haven't been to art school, & I'm glad of that, because I don't know the rule book so I break the rules all the time with my art, & I'm well happy about that. So it's exactly the same attitude with the art as with my music - I'm just doing my own thing & if other people like it then that's the icing on the cake. But alas!! I would still do it even if other people didn't like it - my art & my music is something I HAVE to do.
DJ Azoicer: And have you ever considered exhibiting your work again anytime soon?
Nik Fiend: Yes of course... but in a way it's permanently on exhibit because of the record sleeves & also on the web site. It takes a lot of getting together to do an exhibition & at the moment we're full on with organising the US tour stuff ( & shows in Spain in May) & like I said I want to get some new material recorded - so I have no idea when I'll have time to think about exhibitions again.
DJ Azoicer: And Nik do you have any plans on makeing a book about your art?
Nik Fiend: Again this is something that's been mentioned a number of times, & I would like to do that but -
Mrs Fiend: Once again it's a matter of getting the time - it would be great if we could clone ourselves!! That's the only answer! (laughs) but it's good having so many different areas to cover - we never get bored! We never get the fucking chance!
Nik Fiend: No - we just fall over - knackered! (Laughing)
DJ Azoicer: Many fans on VampireFreaks.com are interested in if there is any plans on creating a Band account there?
Mrs Fiend: Yes we hope to very soon - it may be active by the time this interview comes out!
DJ Azoicer: Do you do your own make-up? Or is there someone doing it for you?
Nik Fiend: Yeah - unusually!! No I have a team of specially trained up make up artists around me - indulging my every whim! NOT! (laughs)
Mrs Fiend: And don't forget the team of masseurs! Or the nail manicurists! (Laughing) How could anyone else interpret what Nik is???
DJ Azoicer: What's your opinion about the file sharing of music? Is it good or bad for your music? Or do you not care about it?
Nik Fiend: You should fucking pay for it you cheap skate bastards! How would you feel if you did a job & then didn't get paid for it? It's the same thing. If I could go to the garage & get my gasoline free, or go to
the grocery store & get food free, then fair enough - but until then...
Mrs Fiend: I know that some people have discovered our music & got majorly into our music from an illegal free download but - as Nik says - if that continues at such a high level then it's going to be increasingly difficult for bands outside the major loop - like we are -
to continue to exist - & if it carries on without something to replace that then it will kill a lot of bands off....
Nik Fiend: They will kill the very thing that they are purporting to love. So it's up to you - you keep robbing the tomb at your peril - cos all you'll be left with is the bland shit that major labels want you to
DJ Azoicer: And that's about it for my part here. Any last words to your fans?
Nik Fiend: We do stand alone, simply because if we'd listened to other people, even record companies, we wouldn't have done ANYTHING.... we wouldn't have played slow songs, Mrs Fiend wouldn't have been in the band, we'd have had a bass player, all the songs would be 3 minutes long & so on & on. We just weren't happy diluting ourselves, we refused to fit in, we said fuck off back then & we're still saying it NOW! I don't want to "fit in", I shouldn't even be here given my background - someone
needs to say something REAL. I'm sick of people playing the corporate tune - where is people's back bone? Say this is ME, this is who I am - & don't be afraid to be who you ARE.
DJ Azoicer: Thank you so much for your time with this interview. It has been an honorand I hope to see you perform soon again.Regards DJAzoicer, superstrange, samhain and the others onvampirefreaks.com for their questions.
"Some of those questions 'were' quite repetitive. I don't blame them for getting a little agitated. I know I would've flipped out, haha."
Some of the questions they were getting annoyed with were the ones I asked. They are bloody fuckin annoying questions I must agree but they're ones that people in the goth scene have bene debating, or they've been using ASF to justify their elitest attitudes. I wanted to ask those questions just to get through to people that ASF don't actually care all that much about EBM supposedly killing the goth scene and all that jazz.
I just wanted to make that clear. Although I guess I should say sorry to the Fiends for pissing them off slightly