Interview with Michael B. Wood of The Anxiety Of Love!

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The Anxiety Of Love, oh how they are undiscovered. They might wish to remain that way, but in this shrouded cloud of mystery – you find a great dose of melancholy, but on a whole other level. They are compromised of Michael, who’s got a history of being in different interesting bands, like Joan Of Arc Family – for example. He’s also the singer of this band, alongside Paul who play the guitar have been in Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Sailor on the bass guitar is in Clockwork Alters, and Solomon is their household drum-machine. Together with the occasional visit of Tobias, who seem to be floating around in a void. Every single one of these members have been involved in one band or another. They’ve earlier released a bunch of songs by themselves, but more recently, they’ve gotten a 7¨ released by Tujunga Flats, and will have another 7¨ out on Peripheral Minimal later on in Autumn. With that said, they’ve recently mailed out their self-released CDr bootleg titled “Soap In The Blood“. So one can say that they’ve got a lot going for them right now. I would consider them to be unique in many ways, which is why I’m even remotely interested in them in the first place. Michael B. Wood of the band contacted me and all we ended up with was this beautifully melancholic interview. He talks about life-changing incidents, the band itself, how they cope with their melancholy, what their melancholy means, the importance of silence, how alike Lebanon Hanover and they are – and much more. Read and weep.

One thing I noticed about The Anxiety Of Love was not only the originality, but preservation of what was – in combination with what now is. You’re rather anonymous, also, shrouded in a cloud of mystery. What prompted the creation of such a suggestive but delightful band?

– To be honest I don’t think we honestly give a fig about anything as is now, a few artists, a lot more fine artists than say musical ones, who we find mediocre, banal, and inefficient at delivering anything but annoyance to us. I’d say in some ways we have a very non musical approach to how we approach things, the way I write around a beatbox generally has more to do with the kind of speed writing of the beatniks, than anything remotely contemporary. We’re looking for new surges of noise, new ways to say old and probably very uncomfortable things – like home truths, and for that to work on a number of levels. I personally relish the confusion, awkwardness and antipathy we facilitate. We came together as we disliked all the same things and all the same people.

Bands that still inspire us are: early Cocteau Twins, things like Garlands and Head Over Heels, Cindytalk, The Birthday Party, Live Skull, Scott Walker, early Cranes and Xmal Deutschland. Nothing much new. It doesn’t connect as it’s too artificially realized.

How come you dislike everything around you so much?

– Because it’s a joke, and it’s insulting, and it’s fake, and also because it’s just not even very good at these things – it’s just shit.

It’s also an inflection of everyone else’s phobia cultivated apathy response to anything that doesn’t fit in with their vapid and repugnant leisure zeitgeist. We fucking hate all that rubbish. I’d probably be happier if something really big and finite and dark occurred very soon globally that would ignite the touch paper, so I could observe every sickening little bastard on Earth shit their nappies running around, meltdown. My idea of fun / entertainment.

Would make a refreshing change, some Yang to their Ying.

If the Anxiety Of Love could reverse these utterly disgusting phenomenons – would that mean that there would be no Anxiety Of Love? What would be your ideal for a world, if the pugnant stench could be washed away to make way for your world – born for you?

– Nuclear war or a solar flare would pretty much be the end of us yes. But what a beautiful and logical end. See I don’t hold out for karma, but this will swing my opinion when it occurs. Like dying in your own bed, at home, peaceful, during your sleep. While getting your cock sucked by someone who knows what they’re doing.

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So, in other words, would you say that you share the view of the misanthrope? Are you all embedded with the “nihil” of the nihilists?

– Nihilism assumes one does not believe in anything. Everyone else is nihilistic therefore, not us. Sure we’re not massively fond of the species, but it’s all born of love and standards, and fundamental unjust disappointment. A psychic pain in the retinas, unpopular, quiet pale kids born with big, black x ray eyes. Certainly far from a pose. More an affliction, or the flipside – a violent mode of reflection: the redress.

I really hate people who thrive on second hand, vampirized hurt, who wear a costume of victimization. It’s offensive and obvious. They need hospitalizing.

Then, what kind of belief system have the Anxiety Of Love sprung out of? Since it seems, after all, that you care about the species as such – to maybe a greater extent than the regular misanthrope and faux nihilist. What is your belief?

– It was born of awareness of pure love, the terrible and cruel face of it in the yawning face of death, seeing one’s soul mate nearly falling off the world, and being helpless and ill while all is falling into shit, yet ultimately aware of the sickness of all that cocoons us, into these balls, insightful of all ugliness, sadness, simplicity, hypocrisy, waste, so ultimately born of pure-hearted love in its essence… as we were sold it, but as it is.

The name of the band comes from a quote from Anais Nin, it fitted handsomely, it was telepathically fitting in that flash second, so we ran with it. And it evolves in that space. Irrespective of everyone else’s vanity, their fawning, contemporary trash. It’s a violent melancholy ultimately. The most violent and melancholic melancholy.

It seems like this springs from life-changing incidents. But do you have any ideology to contain your melancholy and/or develop it?

– Yes and no.

I think that’s what we’re already doing rather successfully actually, all things considered, but ‘contain’ it? You mean amputate it, neuter it? Nah. Impossible. It’s just there – like air, and birds.

Melancholy is the flame, violence is the motion? How can this be manifested in words for those that view the Anxiety Of Love through their ears? Since I am subjective, my interpretation is that you’ve reached a new depth into the pit of melancholy. But what do you say to those that doubt?

– Carry on doubting, it’s of no consequence to us anyway. At least doubt is positive in that it has a propensity for authenticity. Unless it’s simulated of course,e.g. to make hot, naive people feel sorry for lame, competently manipulative, narcissistic people, maybe even resulting in a fuck, a family, and a sustainable illusion to compete with others, similarly affected / afflicted…? [Smirks].

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This makes me wonder, what kind of background do the members of this band actually have? Everything is shrouded!

– We are all very lower end working class, all of us are self taught largely, all of us are considerably educated, all of us are from a firmly art / punk background. In terms of our ‘work history’, a whole catalogue of great / rubbish bands – including Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Riprize, Certain General, Archaic Smile, Treehouse, Gentle Ihor’s Devotion, Ghost Dance, Joan Of Arc Family and White Car Pet. Sailor, our new bassist, was also in JOAF, also Clockwork Alters and May Kittens, and is now also working with Cindytalk, as well as us. Paul and I come from a very DIY, amphetamine fueled Northern music scene, that spawned a lot of talent, and precipitated a lot of resentment too. Win-win.

So, what about the drugs? You classify some of yours tracks as “meth rock”.

– Which is what it is. Without the ‘rock’ bit.

We consciously avoid rock and roll anything. The only great rock and roll is The Birthday Party, Foetus, Suicide, the Velvets, and the rest is boring and ridiculous. It’s like ‘post punk’ or ‘goth’, what the fuck do they mean, if anything? It’s all nonsense.

I guess we came to this point, as they all do. Since you’ve been involved with bands that sprung out of a period where “goth” was a popular term, or even more after that – what IS goth?

– Goth was something I got accused of around 1989 ish, which was funny, as it was never hugely bandied before, and was at that point an acceptable self-proclaimed moniker, of flatulent, pseudo-intellectual cock rockers, who none of us gave much of a fuck for in the slightest. To say the least. I thought it was a stupid term then, but it kind of fits now, as it’s at its zenith of ultra stupidity the longer it persists. I thought that listening to Lydia Lunch, Sex Gang Children, Malaria, The Sisters was punk, until I heard The Clash for the first time, who actually sounded like Status Quo to me.

The Anxiety Of Love is urban gothic music. That’s different. It’s concrete, electricity, agitation, and tragedy … the beauty of being lost and alive in the middle of an atrocity exhibition, not unattractively over-sexualised pagans, obsessed with shoes and eating. I think Joy Division and Xmal Deutschland said very similar things too, at the time… essentially it’s precisely the same for us. Things don’t change for the better. Well they can do… silently; inside.

How important is silence? Our society is filled with disturbances.

– Silence is crucial. I love silence. The combination of long solitary periods of darkness, consciousness, silence, stillness. Our society should be tracheotomised.

With silence comes the profound. Do you consider yourself to be spiritual, or does the Anxiety Of Love find inspiration in spirituality?

– Intensely. We said from day one ‘this is soul music’. We are intrinsically spiritual people and it can be heard. This is logically where the root of our human issues was birthed. Listen to Diamanda Galas, Cindytalk .. that’s the sound of salvation to me. We exist there too. That’s not an arrogant statement. We’re not as great as them.. we’re ridiculously and positively in awe of those two in particular.

But that’s the territory for sure. Not with shit like Tropic Of Cancer, and et cetera.

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What have you got against Tropic Of Cancer and the likes of it?

– They’re transparently self indulgent and hollow. They have a huge fiscal advantage, and in my eyes, flaunt it. The whole wave of current ‘dark’ music is like lift music to me. It’s so glossy, sort of advertising ‘erotic’ and it just bores the shit out of us.

It’s dull as hell. And it all sounds generic and half arsed, and self congratulatory and bourgeois, and faux. Because it clearly is. I wish Sarah Kane was alive making music now, or Richard Sawdon Smith… that would be great. I’d rather listen to Paula Abdul.

So there’s nothing that’s come out of that “dark” corner that is enthralling to you?

– We like Soft Kill / Blessure Grave, some of the Downwards stuff like The Vivids, the earlier stuff by Lebanon Hanover… I really liked the early Project Komakino demos.

Cut Hands is good too. Forgot them.

Now that I think about it, Lebanon Hanover might not sound like you, but they’ve basically got a parallel concept revolving around melancholy. Do they resemble yours in any way, and what differs?

– I think they’re very similar in some ways. I think we’re more full frontal.

It’s often overlooked, but I think there’s a lot of The Smiths and things like early Sisters Of Mercy in us both… the feeling of estrangement, the way we are forthright poetically. Politically. ‘Outrospective’…

One thing I’d like to clarify is that, while it’s not a statement, and has no pride or allegiance attached to it, I am writing as a gay man, and I like the influence that that has woven into all those other things. It defines certain elements in a good way.

What do you mean by “outrospective”?

– Overcoming one’s shyness and social aversions in order to communicate / be expressive, fluently and even aggressively.

It took me a long time to break out… it takes strength and conviction, but is also compulsive in nature – it must win out. Like your soul spewing out of your body at first. Sex was always a cause of massive agitation, as was self awareness of one’s mannerisms, but it just brews and seethes, and bursts through in the end… and then there’s the need for / compulsion of one’s introspection again.

You need both if you’re a real human being, otherwise something will go horribly wrong. Google Jane Greenhow, a very dear friend once, for whom it did badly… a shame. The anxieties of love and hate…

One thing I’d like to clarify is that, while it’s not a statement, and has no pride or allegiance attached to it, I am writing as a gay man, and I like the influence that that has woven into all those other things. It defines certain elements in a good way.

I don’t know if you want to go further in on the topic of Jane Greenhow, but I saw that Death In June & Boyd Rice might’ve dedicated three songs on the “Scorpion Wind” album. What was that all about?

– We all used to write to them at one point. I spoke with Douglas at length about our friendship, and what I felt, and he dedicated Heaven Street to her and Fleming at a London show in about 2003 I think. We were very close. That is always with me too, when I write or sing, all the time actually.

So… there you go.

“Things Fall Apart” is very much that feeling that people like us have all the time, sometimes harnessed, other times a terrible danger to our souls.

Well, this threw me off a bit. Before this interview we talked about literature. I imagine that to be an influence, too. But in what way?

– When a writer pens a book, it’s a solitary and secular ritual. Akin to divinity if it’s important, especially when the work puts the author’s sanity and wellbeing, and reputation into compromise and instability. Similarly all art. Literature blew my brains out (up?) very young, and was my first inspiration, even pre-Bowie… it has a shitty name now, as people don’t want to read, they just like affirmation, mental hygiene, a funky lobotomy to clot with the rest. Utterly lamentable but realistically symbolic of this all encompassing passivity and sickness that we are jack-booted into denying is there. Play the contrary, make it unreal. No. Let’s not. Let’s be the open wound, the pariah… without whom et cetera, et cetera. Envy, resentment, inferiority, subterfuge, masquerade lalalala.

Quite intangible I guess [laughter].

We’ve talked a lot about different things, but it has not come down to what the Anxiety Of Love actually has released. Could you tell me more about this and how you went by when recording?

– Two 7″ releases in November, Things Fall Apart / Beauty & The Swarm, all self produced … we’ve just produced 4 tracks for a 12″ EP for early 2014, which we co produced with John Brierley who famously produced Joy Division, Nico, DAF… it’s much heavier than previous material: Anaemia and Citizen are two of those tracks, as well as two others Under The Next Wave, and a 14 minutes threnody I suppose called Precision Engineers. We also just self produced a track called Set Off The Bombs, but it’s got a different ambiance – may come out under the project name of Angry Ghosts Of Murdered Animals.

By the way the 12″ is going to be called The Anxiety Of Hate EP. It’s our ‘Pornography’ snigger.

How come that you’re not self-releasing your forthcoming EP?

– It’s called breadline poverty. A quaint old thang.

By the way, how was John Brierley as a co-producer? What was the process like, when recording the EP?

– It was frustrating. I don’t think we communicated efficiently. Lovely man though 100%. Again we’ve had to rejig, master re EQ et cetera. Our cross…

Do you have anything more to add?

– Not really. If anyone would like to put us on for shows we would be really grateful … no-one is giving us any breaks here on that front : the evidence is clear in the videos from Summer that have just materialized on YouTube – basically we’re a fierce live act, very entertaining. Willing to sycophant any old wanker nearby to get some ‘putsch’ (sic).

And we’re pretty karaoke too: perfect.

I’d like to thank Michael B. Wood for giving me the idea to interview him. The Anxiety Of Love have been simmering around in the underground for way too long. Even though I’d want them to stay there, more people need to find out about them. Therefore, I give you the track “Precision Engineers“, exclusively – for those of you that doubt. It’s a part of their release titled “The Anxiety Of Hate EP“, that will be released in 2014 on a suitable label. Do also watch their live-performance from DV8 Festival in York, recorded from there this July.

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