Recoil aka Alan Wilder – “On hold for the time being”

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21 Mar, 2004 Share

Recoil aka Alan Wilder
What happened to Alan Wilder? This must have been one of the must asked questions that the Side-Line staff received in the past three years and for sure one of the most asked on the multiple Depeche Mode forums around. Since Wilder aka Recoil released “Liquid”, a delicious feast for those who go for well sought after and elected sounds and top notch production, it became rather silent around the ex-Depeche Mode genius. His name popped up quite a few times when Depeche Mode released a new album just to indicate that “Alan would have done it way better”. Even Dave Gahan openly admitted that the band never had succeeded in replacing the 4th member who took off to head for other horizons in 1995. With the additional production of Alan Wilder on Paul Kendall’s recently released “Capture” album (namely on the track “Coma Idyllique”, see our interview with Paul Kendall) out on 0101 records under the name of The Digital Intervention we hailed Sussex to find Alan Wilder ready to do an exclusive full interview with Side-Line. After 3 years of complete silence, here’s Alan Wilder! Do notice that this online interview is completely different to the one printed in Side-Line issue 46, which you can purchase in our online shop. Be sure to visit Shunt, the official Recoil website. (By Bernard Van Isacker)

SL: How is the family Wilder doing?

imageAW: Stan is 2, he's a proper boy - loves cars, football, builds things. Paris is 8 and is the opposite of Stan, not surprisingly. She's just started at a new school and is very busy learning piano, riding and so on. They are both adorable - but I would say that wouldn't I?

SL: What have you been doing in these past couple of years of silence? I don't expect you have started taking up gardening?
AW: I've been enjoying all the things I never seemed to have time for when I was in the studio. They include travelling (around Europe), re-kindling relationships with other members of the Wilder family (my brother Stephen in particular), spending time with my kids and helping with their upbringing, spending time with Hep and taking her out occasionally :-), building a new glass courtyard, entertaining friends, playing tennis, walking, watching cricket, decorating, and drinking Campari while enjoying the best English summer we've had for a century.

SL: You don't release new music, but what I was wondering is if that also means you don't play either. Do you actually do some stuff for fun in the studio or is it a toy that is at the moment hidden in the attic?
AW: I don't use the studio for any other reasons but I do play the piano and drums at home quite often. I'm lucky enough to have two grand pianos - one in my bedroom and one in the main reception area of our house. When we have family or large gatherings, invariably, it ends around the piano for a sing song.

SL: As I understood from some of your most recent comments, your relation with Mute is somewhat troubled? Did the lack of promotion leave such a harsh feeling?
imageAW: For me, writing and producing albums is an intense experience, something I have to put every ounce of thought and creativity I have into. I'm a perfectionist and that tends to make each project that little bit harder - you feel you must improve upon what you've done in the past. Making 'Liquid' was probably the most grueling time I've ever spent in the studio. I was encamped there for sometimes 20 hours a day, for a year or so. Naturally, the rest of your life suffers as a result.
Frankly, I found it quite demoralising when the record was eventually released to find that certain marketing promises were broken (for example, an independent internet campaign was shelved) and CDs weren't available in even the most major record shops in the major cities during the weeks following the release, and this, despite picking up some promising radio play. For any artist, having people write or 'phone in asking why they can't find the product is THE single most frustrating thing.
The problem is that I find it impossible to make music in any other way and, even though shifting units is not necessarily the main reason for producing records, I'm just not prepared, at this time, to shut myself away for another year making another record that people won't get to hear. Not whilst I have young children that I wish to see grow up. I want to enjoy my kids and I want to be there for them when they need their father most. This is the reason I waited until I'd finished touring before having any children in the first place.
Having been involved in making albums for well over 20 years now, I just feel that at this time, I need to step back from it all and devote my time to some other things. I hope the fans will understand this.

SL: Which reminds me, the production you did on some Curve tracks in the end wasn't released, did you ever get a satisfactory explanation for this?
AW: Not really but so what. I guess Toni and Dean just saw it as 'work in progress' and it obviously didn't suit their needs in the final equation. Their loss though (laughs).

SL: Do you think that if a new Recoil album would be recorded, it could still be released on Mute or is that no longer an obvious choice?
imageAW: I would like to think so. Having said what I have about being let down, I can appreciate how difficult it must be, especially in today's 'Pop Idol' climate, to expose more thoughtful, challenging music. Distribution seems to be a real problem. There are very few outlets for the avant garde and I'm not the only artist who suffers because of this.

SL: Nitzer Ebb are no longer on speaking terms with Mute or Daniel Miller, do you feel that the atmosphere changed (to the worse?) since EMI has taken over Mute. Some people even told me that Daniel is completely out of the game and only interested in his own new label he recently founded, namely Credible Sexy Units.
AW: I can't speak for Nitzer Ebb and I can't really comment on how things have changed at Mute since the take-over. I know that one or two good allies have left the company but I haven't had a lot of contact with Mute over the last 2 years as I haven't been musically active.

SL: Nevertheless critics have already argued that Mute has been neglecting its latest output, poorly mastered DM singles DVD, poorly edited 101 DVD,... which leaves the impression that they are milking the Mute cow at the EMI offices.
AW: These kinds of problems are nothing new - it's just down to incompetence rather than any change in attitude.

SL: As far as the internet goes, Shunt has taken quite a nap, it surprises me that you didn't start a monthly column or so... What kind of an internet user are you actually?
AW: Not a lot to talk about right now. As far as internet goes, I rarely surf for the hell of it. I tend to use the net when I need something - air flights, banking, supermarket shopping. Very boring I know but, believe it or not, I don't have the time for much else. I'm actually very busy!

SL: Do you in fact think that you'll ever start taking up production again for a band like you once did with Nitzer Ebb?
AW: I'm unlikely to take on a production job for an unknown artist, for similar reasons as I've mentioned. I never say never and if something came along that was just too exciting to pass by, then maybe, but don't hold your breath.

SL: What does Recoil stand for anno 2003/2004 ? What does it mean to you now, today?
imageAW: I'm not down on the project itself. Since it's so open-ended, it could go anywhere musically. Reaction and reviews have generally been good, certainly since 'Unsound Methods' and, as I've said, sales are not what it's all about. The project is just on hold for the time being.

SL: I remember that Dave solicited openly for your production skills for his solo album. Hearing the album, I think I understand why you didn't do it... care for any comment?
AW: I'm not aware actually that Dave was after any of my so-called production skills. As you know, I try not to comment too specifically on the newer works of DM but I'm pleased for David. I'm sure it feels mighty fulfilling to have got some of his own writing off his chest and it's indicative of his state of mind that he got it done and is out on the road, which he clearly loves. I went to see him play in London recently and enjoyed it. It was good to see him afterwards and catch up with a lot of people I hadn't seen for a while. I also met his partner in crime, Knox, who seems like a nice chap.

SL: What's on your cd-player lately?
AW: Robert Wyatt, “Kill Bill” soundtrack, Unkle, Elbow. I was mainly disappointed with “Tour De France” by Kraftwerk. I can't get as excited by a Kraftwerk release these days as I used to. I just can't imagine them being groundbreaking anymore. Perhaps that's just far too high an expectation.


To read the complete interview, be sure to buy Side-Line issue 46!

image Side-Line issue 46 at Side-Line shop
image Recoil CDs
image The Digital Intervention - "Capture" CD (featuring productionwork by Alan Wilder)

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Posted by: AzulSunrise on Apr 28, 06 | 12:07 am

When you have kids , no matter if youre a genious of music etc, that gotta change your life, good for you Alan im glad youre enjoying life ,family , and the greatest english summer lol , tim for new music should come naturally, and hope you dont spend 20 hrs a day this time , and hope you make happy , , beutiful, and positive new music, thanks for let us know a little bit of your wolrd, belive it or not , we care about you, thanks for all the hard work in the last two CDs , i enjoyed them very much , hugs

Posted by: flighthalo on Nov 08, 05 | 11:52 am

Its great that Alan enjoys his life and is humble about his past accomplishments. At the same time it seems his desire for perfection have somehow damaged his ability to allow his music to grow. Its like, he has given his everything and ran his last race with Liquid. I think Alan is still holding back. He has a rare appreciation of music from all different realms. His musical expression can really take you someplace different, he has endless options to follow. Very sad that the fire has went out.

Posted by: moondog on May 19, 04 | 1:08 am

Gutted... been wondering what the boy Wilder has been up to - now I know. 'Liquid' is the one album I can always turn to when I need a perfect audio fix.

Still - Kids and all. I guess I can understand... *sob*


Posted by: Jessi on Apr 12, 04 | 3:49 pm

Alan's feeling for sound is increadible. I love his and I hope, someday he' ll continue making this great music...

Posted by: synus on Mar 30, 04 | 1:50 pm

nice interview, good to hear he's keeping well:-)

Posted by: dianoff on Mar 28, 04 | 2:16 pm

Posted by: Olitom on Mar 26, 04 | 10:55 am

For me, his masterpieces are the way he "surrounded" the voice of Douglas Mac Carthy, doing what he rarely reached with Nitzer Ebb: using his voice to serve a melody but without throwing the beats in the dustbin! The Recoil's songs featuring Douglas are all my favorite for the powerful music and THE voice of Doug. Liquid seems to me too introspective and architectural, more intimist, but also very well produced and coherent, which is the real force of Alan.

Posted by: Side-Line on Mar 26, 04 | 10:23 am

well ih8toregister, for once I have to agree, "Curse" was a masterpiece...

Posted by: on Mar 26, 04 | 6:55 am

I know!

He should do rap. I absolutely hate rap, but "Curse" with Moby was pretty fucking good. Maybe that song was more accesable to me than normal rap because A) Moby is acutally singing about something important instead of talking about putting a cap into someone's ass and B) Alan lays down the phattest bass and trippiest beats.

You may think kidding, but I am serious.

Posted by: Olitom on Mar 25, 04 | 9:38 am

Alan is undoubtly a great composer and producer, I'm looking forward to his nex works, and to close the chapter he will NEVER join back DM, 'cause the failure is too deep.
So, an anecdot about Fletch? You can see him doing a "false note" during the 101 show (in the live produced for the TV, a rare film barely broadcast) during Black Celebration, and you see Dave litteraly screaming (a chance he hadn't his micro near his mouth at this time!) Could you imagine Fletch, after more than 100 concerts (almost the same set-list) always wondering what he should do with his hands? Only clapping, it's what he does best!!!!

Posted by: tagirov on Mar 25, 04 | 6:02 am

He must compose and produce some movie soundtrack, I think.

Posted by: on Mar 25, 04 | 1:15 am

What did I say this time? :)

I love Alan Wilder... He is not a god in my books yet because he doesn't have enough material... Right now he's like a "Personal Jesus". Hehehe.

What I really want to see is him mix it up, something completely different than what he gave us in "Liquid" and "Unsound Methods"

Posted by: Side-Line on Mar 25, 04 | 12:03 am

here we go again :), go go go go Ih8toregister...

Posted by: on Mar 25, 04 | 12:02 am

I am not convinced he is god yet...

He needs to do something more than mix blues with a Nitzer Ebb bass.

Posted by: on Mar 24, 04 | 10:10 pm

being a musician I understand what he is saying, but also as a musician no matter what I would never is a total addiction, I guess that is what makes me different. Allthough he is a god.

Posted by: ANGELTHEORY on Mar 23, 04 | 10:17 pm

Many thanks Alan for everything you've done for electronic music in the past 20years, and hopefully more that you will do in the future. Your skills have greatly influenced my own musical output. Putting together albums of quality material is NO easy task, and to not have the backing of promotors is quite harsh considiering the endless hours of work.
But you sound content a happy with your current life, so good for you mate.

PS: The Kraftwek album was great.... hehehehhe

Posted by: Act Noir on Mar 23, 04 | 11:52 am

If you're complaining about someone not playing live then please send your complaints to Fletch. His keyboard's not even connected. Or turned on. Fletch doesn't even try to fake it.
That's interesting... We should start a new thread talking about the role of Fletch in Depeche Mode ;-) I've always wondered which is his contributions to Depeche Mode!

Posted by: on Mar 23, 04 | 1:23 am


If you're complaining about someone not playing live then please send your complaints to Fletch. His keyboard's not even connected. Or turned on. Fletch doesn't even try to fake it.

Posted by: aapierre on Mar 23, 04 | 1:14 am

Alan ...... goodbye and good riddance ...... never before and hopefully never again did one man prevent live music being the absolute be all and end all that it surely has to be.

bring on live music as opposed to a taped copy.

Alan - stay at home with the family.

Posted by: on Mar 23, 04 | 12:17 am

A Class Act! After 20 so years, glad to hear that he is enjoying the rewards of his hard efforts with his family – hopefully, we can all be so lucky.

Funny thing is he could have started enjoying the rewards of his hardwork 15 years ago. Thank you to Alan for not quitting after he hit the cash cow of MFTM or Violater.

Posted by: quelle72 on Mar 22, 04 | 9:22 pm

A Class Act! After 20 so years, glad to hear that he is enjoying the rewards of his hard efforts with his family – hopefully, we can all be so lucky.

Posted by: on Mar 22, 04 | 7:48 pm

I haven't heard or got Karl Bartos but from what I understand is that it's all pop music? I have his first album though.

I think people who don't like "Tour De France" are people who haven't heard Kraftwerk before Computerworld.

Posted by: Stef7 on Mar 22, 04 | 2:53 pm

Well About Alan, he's definitely missed.. I miss him on DM and I miss Recoil too. He's one of the most talented guy in the music business. And about Kraftwerk.. well Tour de France soundtrack isn't the best material they've released. I much prefer listening to Karlo Bartos latest album which is full of great tunes. But that's my opinion.

Posted by: Act Noir on Mar 22, 04 | 1:10 pm

It's perfectly understandable his point of view on this interview, but still something is missing in my life without new releases of this music genius!

Posted by: on Mar 22, 04 | 9:04 am

Mr. Alan Wilder. How he is missed.

Posted by: tagirov on Mar 21, 04 | 7:17 pm

Did not surpirizing me, but interesting.
As for 'Liquid' - I am study music production on its sound. Great work.

Waiting for a new perfect release.

Posted by: on Mar 20, 04 | 8:38 pm

Alan is dissapointed that he slaved 20 hours a day for "Liquid" only for it to not be promoted well? He should be happy that he slaved 20 hours a day to unleash such a masterpeice to his fans. And for that I am grateful and thankful to Alan. I know my thanks isn't worth the fat wad of cash good sales is, but it's all I can do.

Also, am I the only one who like "Tour De France Soundtracks"?

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