Sudeten Creche Interview (with Paul Carlin and Mark Warner)

Sudeten Creche Interview (with Paul Carlin and Mark Warner)

Sudeten Creche, a band based in the UK and quite active in the early 80s, were featured on the compilation called ‘Europe in the Year Zero’ (1982) with Colour Me Pop and Yazoo. A bit later, they released the Kindergarten 12”. Read the interview and check their website here for upcoming news.

  • Sudeten Creche, a band based in the UK and quite active in the early 80s, were featured on the compilation called ‘Europe in the Year Zero’ (1982) with Colour Me Pop and Yazoo. A bit later, they released the Kindergarten 12”. Read the interview and check their website here for upcoming news.

    1. Where are you both from originally and what was the music scene like growing up there?

    Mark: I was born in Tunbridge Wells in England in 1964. My Father worked in Local Government and had a rapid career path so we moved about a lot until I was 11 years old.

    There wasn’t much of a music scene where we lived. Most of the venues were too small. Some Punk bands played local sports centres. Genesis played the ABC in 1980 to a full house of 600 people but that was converted into three cinema screens shortly after. The only other local band I was aware of were the Destructors. We used to drink in the same pub, The Still, it was a rare place even then, serving beer in Jugs from the cellar rather than pumps.
    If we wanted to see bands we had to travel to places De Monteford Hall, Leicester or Nottingham University. We would jump into Paul’s first car and drive down to London to places like the Rock Garden, Camden Lock and the Hamersmith Odeon. We had some great nights seeing friends play, meeting music buss’ people and then travelling home again as the dawn broke.

    Paul: I’m from Belfast, although I moved to England when I was eight years old. I lived in a place called Peterborough, about 30 miles from Cambridge and around the same size. Cambridge had a much better music scene and, from around 79, I would spend time either there or, increasingly, in London.
    I knew the Destructors – well Alan, anyway. They were certainly one of the more noteworthy bands to come out of the city. Andy Bell (Erasure) also came out of Peterborough. He and I had mutual friends, but we never met.

    2.How and when did the two of you meet?

    Paul: We attended the same secondary school, what you would call High school in the US. We had a couple of mutual friends. We didn’t really socialize much until much later, around the time we started cooperating on music.

    Mark: Paul and I met at Secondary (High) school in 1975. I remember his Belfast accent coming from somewhere deep inside a blue Parker type coat. It wasn’t until 1980 when we both attended Technical College (now Nene University) that we started to work together.

    3. Had you both been doing music before you met one another? If yes, what kinds of projects were you involved in?

    Mark: I had been playing lead guitar in a band called The Firm, playing Robert Plant songs & Led Zeppelin covers, but it didn’t get much further than rehearsals.

    Paul: I was in a band when I was 13 – it was at the height of ‘Punk’, that was probably the nearest thing to that particular venture. I remember we performed ‘White Light White Heat’ to the school to lots of blank faces.
    When I was 15 I joined ‘Tomorrow’s Parties’, which became ‘Yesterday’s Parties’. The name was of course a homage to the Velvet Underground – a recurring influence in my music career. In 1979 we released a track, along with various artists, on a compilation album by the name of ‘No Cause for Alarm’. I left the band in 1980 with little idea of what to do next. It was at this point I started to get into a lot of West Coast music – and the Doors in particular.

    4. Where and when did you buy your first synth (or other musical instrument)? What was it?

    Paul: It was a Casio CT-202 bought from a music shop in Leicester. I understand they have one on display at my local museum in South London (really). It was 8-note polyphonic, 49 key. It wasn’t the most glamorous of keyboards but it was functional and had some really rich sounds. It had some fairly good string and brass sounds (particularly when put through a flanger) even the piano was passable mixed in with other instruments. 
    I was guitarist first and foremost and this opened up a whole new world of sound opportunities to me. 
    My first real synthesizer was a Korg MS-10, which I still have. This was monophonic but with dual oscillators, patch-bay, Pulse-Width Modulation, Frequency Modulation and a useful v-trig to allow it to be kicked off by other devices. A great synth for fat bass sounds.

    Mark: My first instrument was a Besson accoustic Guitar from Bond Street, London which I had second hand at the age of seven (I started playing the guitar when I was six). It was thirty years old then and cost thirty five pounds, quite a sum in 1970. I still have it so it must be about 66 years old now. It is still in good condition and a very good quality instrument. It was a full sized guitar so I really had to stretch my hands to play it, which probably why I became good because as I had to use correct finger and wrist techniques to play without fret buzz, as I had such small hands at the time. 
    I taught myself to play keyboards by transfering what I knew about musical theory from playing the guitar. I started doing this also at about 7 years old. However we didn’t have a piano so I could only do this when at friends homes where they had one.  When Paul and I were at College, I used the music departments practice rooms most lunch times and started to compose on the pianos there which I then transfered to Paul’s Casio. 
    The keyboard parts on Year Zero were played by me but on Paul’s Casio. Paul played an MS10, I think, for the fill-in’s on Kisses and he played the guitar parts on Dance using my CMI Fender Telecaster. 
    My first synth was purchased in March 2006 on Ebay and was a DX7 followed by a Korg M1R and a Novation SBS. I’ve always thought of myself as a guitarist first and Keyboard player/Drummer second. I never had a need to buy a synth in the 80’s as studios usually had what we needed or we borrowed them. The cost of synths in the 1980’s, good ones, were more than I could afford.

    5. What inspired you to choose the name Sudeten Creche and what year did you form the band?

    Mark: The credit belongs to Paul’s brother for the idea. We instantly liked it. Sudeten Creche is an example of the combination of Innocence and Corruption. A double edge sword. Something I have always aspired to. It’s a paradox, the violation of expectations. I expect the year was most likely 1981.

    Paul: The truth is, the suggestion came from my eldest brother who, by the name of Yvette Doll, something of a rock entrepreneur from the early to late 80s. He inspired us to some extent. I’ve often thought the world is a strange mix of the innocent and the sinister and central Europe has a historical relevance for upheaval and discord. I think the name captures that.

    6. The songs are emotive and powerful. What influenced you in terms of music, philosophy, literature, or art?

    Paul: That’s a big question. For me, musical mood is invariably more important than notes or beats. Music should be like a distant memory; it’s the feeling you remember more than the event that inspired it.
    As I already alluded to, I was very into the Velvet Underground from early on and the Banana album in particular. Nico’s booming Germanic instrument of a voice, John Cale’s viola and the thrashing guitars that was so ahead of its time has always been an influence on me.
    In terms of visual art, I was particularly taken with Bauhaus and Dada. It seemed to me that these ideas were often defined by what was missing as much as what was present – no clutter or self-indulgent frills – often minimalist.

    Mark: I would love to be able to give you a long list of literal and artistic influences but I cannot. The songs I have written are mainly the result of intense introspection or about my relationships and quite often the result of intense introspection about my relationships. As for philosophy, I am the sum of my experiences.

    7. What is your approach to song writing? Do you share the process or take on specific roles?

    Mark: We are not lyric first or music first people. We have an idea separately or sometimes together and bring those ideas together when we work. I use the term work loosely as it can be anything from writing, arranging and recording a song to just being an arbiter on a complete composition. It’s like buying an old house, some people can see the potential, what it can become. I think we see the potential in each other ideas and point them in directions they wouldn’t take if we were working totally on our own. The finished results on my songs rarely turn out to be what I was expecting, but that’s good. Paul usually takes the song through final mixing and production and will embellish during this stage.

    Paul: I’d like to say we share, but in truth we really don’t. What tends to happen is that we each bring ideas, sometimes pre-fabricated prototypes and bounce that around. We often arrange each others material to the point where it becomes a joint effort. At other times we brought more completed material to the table and it was a simple case of either selecting it or not.

    8. What goals did you have as a band? Did you play live?

    Paul: I’m not sure we had any goals – apart from wanting to create things. We had ideas we wanted to capture and listen to. If others also liked it, that would be a bonus.
    Sudeten Creche played one live event. It was at the University of London, supporting Nico on the opening of her 1983 European UK tour. It was a sizable venue and I remember the fold-back wasn’t set up right for our set, which meant we had to play to sound bouncing off the back wall. Nico was gracious and warm – much warmer than the cold of her nihilistic set, which I recall opened with ‘The End’ – what a character. We talked before her set and she signed one of her records for me, with ‘A kiss for the Creche’.

    Mark: I don’t think we had any goals. We were 17/18 at the time and quite naive, I certainly was. It is because of this that we missed some great opportunities. However I can see with the benefit of hindsight that the record industry would have destroyed me.
    I was very shy and the idea of playing live filled me with dread. I tended to get more out of creating than performing. I have since played live hundreds of times in other bands and have overcome my shyness. Paul once did a gig as Sudeten Creche at the University of London backing Nico but unfortunately I was not there.
    We now aim to release some unpublished songs and produce a definitive Sudeten Creche Album and top this off with a one-off live performance in the Spring of 2007, possibly in a Central European venue, possibly Belgium.

    9. Can you tell us about other bands that were playing at the time that influenced you musically or otherwise.

    Mark: I tended to follow the crowd in the late 1970’s and listened to Prog’ Rock bands like Yes, Pink Floyd & Genesis. When Punk appeared it was fun for a few months but disappear almost as soon as it had started. Even though there were some huge changes in music at this time one of my consistently favorite albums was Kraftwerk Autobahn, which I think I first heard in 1976. Into the late 1970’s I started to listen to U2, B52’s, Talking Heads and Paul introduced me to The Velvet Underground, Lou Read, Nico, Joy Division & Iggy Pop. From this came interest in Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, Depeche Mode, OMD, Yazoo, Soft Cell, Japan, Tubeway Army & New Order to name only a few. I have always been a Julian Cope fan as well as The Smiths and have to include them as influences for the early 1980’s. I cannot begin to list all the bands we met at different places; Paul probably has a better memory than I do.

    Paul: So many – for me personally, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, DAF, Pere Ubu, Cabaret Voltaire, Human League, Joy Division – also Teardrop Explodes, Echo and the Bunnymen and an unhealthy measure of TG and the Doors.

    10. What were the events leading up to the inclusion of SC tracks on the “Europe in the Year Zero” compilation (1982)? Tell us about the SPhonograph label. Was it related to the Illuminated label?

    Paul: We had intended to produce an E.P. Yvette founded Sexual Phonograph and a few other labels. Yvette also partnered with Keith Bagley from Illuminated Records. They had a similar portfolio at one time – consisting of avente garde, gothic, punk and minimalist artists.
    S/Phonograph distributed through Illuminated and IKF. Though they partnered on many things, they were always distinct entities.
    Yvette wanted to do a benefit record for ‘No Nukes’. Vince Clarke offered to have ‘Goodbye 70s’ appear – with the express stipulation that the distribution didn’t exceed a certain volume (I think 10,000). ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ wasn’t released yet and I suspect they didn’t want to eat into sales of Yazoo’s debut album.
    Colour-Me-Pop was the other contributor. We’d known Michael White from ‘Watch with Mother’ days and they knew Depeche Mode and had played with them.
    There is much of the history that I either don’t recall or never knew.

    Mark: Mike White knew Vince Clarke and Paul’s brother knew the Yazoo management. He had also set up the Sexual Phonograph label. We had written “Kisses” and “Dance” so it was the combination of preparation meeting opportunity. Paul knows more about Illuminated as he and Yvette knew Keith Bagley.

    11. In regards to the Kindergarten 12” on Illuminated (1982), how many copies were pressed and who distributed it?

    Mark: I believe that no more than 4000 copies were pressed and sold however there were two runs and we think the first was 3000 copies but we are unsure if the second was 1000 or another 3000. So it could be less than 4000 or less than 6000. Paul might know more on the distribution.

    Paul: If I’m not mistaken we went to two pressings – each of around 3000 copies. Distribution was Stage 1.

    12. Do you remember having fans? What were they like?

    Paul: I can’t say I do. I had people approach me once or twice to sign a copy of one of the records. ‘Kisses’ has been covered by the Chinese Detectives, so I suppose they liked it. By the way, I love what they did with it – it’s so danceable and I’d love to hear that in a club.

    Mark: I met a fan once in 1983 at my sister’s drama collage. The poor chap was struck dumb, I think. He was only about a year or so younger than me. However I think I was struck dumber as I had no idea what to say to him.

    13. Chronologically, this leads us to the break up of SC in 1982. Why did you decide to disband at this point?

    Mark: Actually this is not true. Sudeten Creche never officially disbanded. Paul and I have never argued or disagreed. We continued to work together from time to time until the early 1990’s when our respective careers took us to different parts of the world.

    Paul: We never disbanded, we simply didn’t continue. From around 1983 we both did other things. We worked together again in 1990, but not on SC.

    14. Did the technological changes in gear affect how you continued musically? How did that evolve from then to now?

    Paul: Technology certainly makes many things easier to achieve. As much as I loved Kraftwerk, neither of us went down the computer-music route after ’83. I think, at least to some extent, we were one of the relatively early adopters of mainstream synth music in 1981-1983. Once it became ubiquitous we opted to focus on guitar and acoustic combinations.

    Mark: Yes of course, As my income rose in the mid 1980’s we bought more equipment. I bought an Alesis HR16 to replace the Soundmaster SR-88. As this has Midi capability we switched to striping Midi on to Paul’s Tascam 38 rather than recording drums in stereo, thus saving a track. Paul also bought a 12-track desk and DBx compressor/expanders and between us we bought a wide range of percussion.
    One of advantages of modern digital systems, that I can never quite get over, is how much can be fitted into a small box. I do believe that I the entire contents of moderately sized studio that we have used in the 1980’s is inside my DSP16. People may argue the sound quality issue of analogue versus digital but I believe that good production and mixing is the key. I have now set up a digital studio and Paul will have his new studio built soon so we will have the best of both worlds, Analogue and Digital.

    15. What are your day jobs and how did they affect the continuation of your music making? or perhaps they didn’t?

    Mark: These days I describe myself as an Entrepreneur with a passion for vintage vehicles. During the 1990’s I setup a software company and an Internet Services company. These took me all over the world with little time for music. Paul and I exchanged e-mails in about 2002 after hearing The Chinese Detectives version of “Kisses” but it wasn’t until 2006 that we were both in the same country and in a position to start working together again.

    Paul: I went into Information Technology in 1983 – first Sys Ops then Programming and so on. This has taken me to various parts of the world, including stints living in Asia and in the US (San Fran and New York). It’s been very rewarding but hasn’t allowed me much time on the creative side of things. I’m back in London now and I’m looking forward to changing that – making some room again.

    16. From your perspective, what type of music were you making in 1982? Do you remember certain phrases or genres that the music was categorized as?

    Paul: We thought it was minimalist at the time. We didn’t think about that one too much. I once saw my vocals described in NME as resembling Jim Morrison – I actually liked that.

    Mark: In 1982 there was no category that I was aware of. We didn’t fit the New Wave/Romantic genre, as our music was too simple. Everything outside of the BBC charts was grouped as Alternative, which was a very large grouping. John Peel did give us a description when he played our tracks. It was something like “Lyrical Monotony”. Paul might remember what it was. Sounds or NME made a reference to us sounding like “someone who had died in the bath in Paris” which, as Paul is a huge Doors fan, we took as a complement although it might not have been!

    17. How has that changed between then and now?

    Mark: The retrospective creation of Minimal Wave or Minimal Electronik is good. It has been nice to find out about other bands that we were totally unaware of at the time, also doing original work. It still feels like a sub-culture, away from the blatant commercialism of the mainstream record industry.
    I don’t think Paul and I ever really tried to over think what we did. We made the music we liked and somehow hoped that others would like it also. It is very gratifying that 25 years on, our songs are still being played and that they have withstood the test of time.

    Paul: One of the things that’s changed is that I no longer tend to categorize and don’t worry about what critics think. The fact that there are people out there who like what Sudeten Creche did means a lot to us.

    18. What inspired you to continue with Sudeten Creche? How you did reconnect again after so many years apart?

    Paul: We’ve been in touch over the years and when I returned from New York we picked up again. It seemed a little strange at first, but now we’re back.

    Mark: Sudeten Creche was fun. We felt that there is still unfinished business for Sudeten Creche. Much that we would have liked to have done back in the early 1980’s if time and money had not been an issue, we can now do. We would like to do a definitive Sudeten Creche Album and top it all of with a one-off live performance. In this, I think we will gain a form of closure or it might present new opportunities, who knows. Reconnecting for me has not been an issue. I feel that we go back far enough to enable us to pick up again where we left off.

    19. I understand you have some works that are to this day unreleased. What was the reason for not releasing this last group of songs?

    Mark: Much of my later recordings are not truly Sudeten Creche even if Paul did sing on and work on the songs. I wrote a lot of material that is not Minimal in any sense of the word. We do have old tapes of early songs and we hope to release a few, if the tapes are usable.
    Not being live performers was the main reason that many songs remain unreleased. The need to produce something for an EP would gear us up to produce finished songs. A live performance or tour would have been the required prompt for the completion of our first Album. We had a number of tour offers after John Peel’s radio broadcast for both North America and Europe but, due to circumstances, we were unable to take the offers up.

    Paul: We recorded a lot more material than we ever released. Some of this was bizarre and much of it was simply started and never finished. We’re looking to complete some of these. Watch this space.

    20. Thank you for your time and we look forward to an SC release in 2007!

    Paul: Thank you for your interest and to everyone who has contacted us. Mark and I are very much looking forward what lies ahead. Completing the first Creche album is a personal ambition for both of us. Anyone who is interested in that should keep an eye on the Sudeten Creche website. We’re also considering one or more live dates in Europe in 2007.

    Mark: Thank you for interest in Sudeten Creche. We look forward to meeting old friends and new in Sint Niklaas, Belgium on 14th October 2006 where we will be in the audience to see both Oppenheimer Analysis and 2VM. Anyone who would like further information can subscribe to our mailing list at Sudeten Creche.

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