Chaos Control Interview

Chaos Control: When Chaos Control interviewed you during the NASA tour, you mentioned that you built your own electronic instruments. Can you describe them a bit more, and explain how they work alongside commercially available gear?
Richard D. James: Well, I don't use the electronic stuff I made before. I use about two things that I built when I was younger, and that's all these days. I'm strictly into the computer domain.

CC: What home made equipment do you still use?
RDJ: I've got one thing that's like an effects box for signal treatments and bizarre sorts of effects that I can't get out of anything else. The quality is very fucked up and it sounds pretty cool still.

CC: What was the reason for the move towards computers?
RDJ: It's just that analog electronics has had its day for me. It's too limiting. I'm much more interested in using computers.

CC: You're known for being very prolific. How much material did you write for the new album?
RDJ: For this one, I had about 200 songs. It was quite hard, it's always hard, because I never know what to release, basically. So I get my mates to listen to it and try to see what they like. I don't usually end up putting out my favorite tracks. I don't reckon people will get into those. Not that I care, I just want them to buy the record so I can get some money.

CC: Do you try to chose songs with common theme? Do you try to find a varied group of songs?
RDJ: Usually I try to get a sort of range. I approach thinking about what I would have wanted if I bought and what people will actually buy, to get a compromise in between.

CC: How long did it take to create those 200 songs?
RDJ: A year.

CC: Will the other material come out, as either side projects or bonus tracks?
RDJ: Some of it probably will come out. They just go into the realms of all the other millions of tracks I do that never come out.

CC: Do you ever go back to songs you did a long time ago but never released?
RDJ: I'm totally nostalgic, so I get into listening to old stuff every now and again.

CC: Do you usually start and finish a song, then go to the next one, or do you tend to be working on many tracks at the same time?
RDJ: I tend to do things in one go, if I leave things I don't go back to them because I don't get the excitement out of it. But I do that sometimes, and sometimes I'll have like four of five tracks on the go. But mainly, just one.

CC: How has your live show changed over the years?
RDJ: I use my laptop computer for everything now, I've got one effects unit controlled by the computer as well. I think the next shows will just be the laptop, and a 2 channel mixer.

CC: So you don't have any MIDI gear connected to the laptop?
RDJ: I've managed to work it all out on the computer, and it's loads better than the way I used to do it. It's more flexible than what most people do with sequencers and samplers.

CC: Are you using custom software do accomplish this?
RDJ: Some of it's my software, and some of it's existing software.

CC: What are the advantages of this set-up?
RDJ: It's like I've got quite a big choice of tracks, and I change them around loads when I'm playing them, basically. It depends on what the sound system is like, and what I feel like, basically.

CC: Will the Mike and Rich album be released in America?
RDJ: Possibly soon. Rephlex is doing tons of deals, one with Sony and probably one with Sire as well.

CC: Have you had any other recent releases under other names?
RDJ: No.

CC: It seems like a few years ago you had so many side projects that it was hard to keep track. Are you getting away from that now?
RDJ: Yeah. I still do other things, but haven't had anything out recently. I want to keep it simple.

CC: What are you plans for the immediate future?
RDJ: I want to come out by the end of the year and do a good tour. Put the rock bands to shame.

CC: Is it true that you want to tour with nine inch nails?
RDJ: Yeah, I thought that might be all right. They're not touring, so I can't do it. Someone told me they were into it if they were touring, but they're not.

Written by: Bob Gourly, 1997