After an exciting and at times, tumultuous year St Lucifer, are desecrating Christmas and seeing out the old year a bit early with a gig on Friday the 13th at Fuel in Manchester and the announcement of a 24 track retrospective album: Biphoria / The Violation of St Lucifer.
Read on as we catch up with David from the band to get the inside track on the current state of Manchester’s ‘blackmetalgaydisco’ renegades.
So… a ‘new’ St Lucifer album! Given you’ve been touring throughout most of 2019 this is an unexpected Christmas present. We have to ask though, what exactly IS Biphoria?
(Laughs) Well – it’s something we’ve had in mind for quite a while now – growing up, I always loved bands who really took things like non-album singles/EPs and b-sides seriously. Suede/Mansun/Nirvana/Manic Street Preachers to name but a few.
I mean, their b-sides compilations were often as good – and in some cases even better – than their (so-called) ‘proper’ albums. It was always my intention that we’d try something like that with St Lucifer – it’s just taken until now to actually do it.
It also a document showing how the band has morphed and evolved over the last four years – there’s stuff written by (or in one case about) all the people who have played in the band to date. It lifts tracks from all of our non-album releases, yet still sounds coherent as an LP in its own right. I’m really proud of it.
Can you tell us about the new tracks on the compilation?
There’s only really a couple on the first disc – although we did have a fair bit of ‘fun’ with remastering and editing stuff from 4 years ago to get it all to a point where it sounded like it was ‘cut from the same cloth’ so to speak.
Full disclosure – there’s one track where I’ve re-recorded my lead vocal as, frankly the original version was a bit embarrassing (I’ll let you guess which one!) – while there are quite a few ‘level this/eq-that’ bits that no one other than us would notice (Cue Rhys pixel and Matt Vieon sending me a comprehensive list of what we’ve changed!).
A big highlight though is the brand-new recording of Push The Button – we used to play this live a lot, but it kind of dropped off the radar after we stuck it out on a label sampler and promptly forgot about it.
THIS version, however, takes it in a completely different direction. It’s basically Alice, myself and a couple of (not so) mystery guests on bass and keyboards/vocals – it was also an absolute joy to record. You can really hear the positive vibes in the room. A little taste of where we might be going next…
The second disc The Violation of St Lucifer is billed as ‘remixes and reworkings’ – what can we expect from that?
Something completely different! Joking aside – it was a great opportunity to ask some of our favourite artists to take our back catalogue apart and reimagine it ‘in their own image’. We only laid down one condition when commissioning the mixes – that they had to take the songs somewhere completely new. I think it’s fair to say everyone we asked rose to the challenge!
A few of them you’ll have heard before (the Vieon remix of Junk Days and the DEF NEON version of God Is Love have been Spotify staples for a while now) but they slot in nicely among the new material. Some of these come from our own ‘vaults’– the opening and closing tracks, Cultural Ground Zero Dark Thirty and Van Der Lubbe Must Live are (respectively) club and live versions of things we’ve played out on the road – albeit nailed down in a studio environment. The reworks of Do as Little and Remake/Remodulate, on the other hand, are very different to the original recorded versions.
New remixes come courtesy of Still Forever, Valentich, Nature of Wires and Petrol Bastard. All of which are fantastic additions to the set. A big thank you to everyone who contributed…
At the end of the Music is Violence tour you (unexpectedly) announced the departure of two members – what actually happened?
Honestly? It’s been a pretty strange 12 months – even by our standards! On the one hand, we had a lot of fun, played a lot of gigs and met a load of amazing people – on the other hand it was pretty clear by the half-way point that all was not quite right with the band itself.
They say bands are like families and it’s a lot to ask to do this kind of thing while juggling day jobs and kids and not experience any kind of tension/conflict – and that’s before you factor in traveling thousands of miles around the country in a ludicrous grey transit van making an ungodly racket!
As for the specifics – some of it was musical, some of it less so – but I honestly don’t think one single person is to blame: we’re all guilty of over-thinking things at times and I guess this just got to the point where something needed to give.
Lottie is an incredible guitarist and I’m really intrigued to hear what she comes up with next – especially if it means she can really bring her musical passions to the fore. She’s got ideas in abundance and I doubt it’ll be long before she’s back on stage raising hell.
As for John well, we’ve been mates since we were just out of college and have grown up through marriages/kids/divorces and all manner of musical/artistic idiocy. He’s a rock-solid bass player/DJ/Morris dancer and all-round legend. I very much doubt we’ve seen the last of him either.
As for playing together again – Never say never – St Lucifer is (and always has been) bigger than one individual – it’s kind of what makes it unique. Who knows what will happen next? Maybe I’ll leave and we’ll end up like the Sugababes!
What were the best and worst gigs on the tour?
Well, the AT10 birthday bash was really special – a big stage with a happy/engaged audience and a load of bands playing at the top of their game. We had unexpected ‘wow’ moments in places like Chorley and Brighton while it’s always a pleasure to play places like Liverpool, Leeds, and Birmingham.
Sheffield was a bit of a mixed bag – partially a result of some silliness offstage – but also because we went from the worst soundcheck ever to a really intense/raucous live set – not that we could see very much given the amount of dry ice in the room.
Nottingham was arguably the low ebb of the tour – which is a shame given it’s my hometown. None of us were feeling particularly well physically or mentally that night so it was a bit of a ‘perfect storm’ or exhaustion, plus heavy rain and the city centre tram system grinding to a halt.
Overall though I’d say we did a bloody good run of dates and – now we’ve had a bit of time to reflect – the happy memories massively outweigh the sad ones.
You played with 34 bands this year – who particularly impressed you?
God – so many people. Personally, I’d been dying to see/play with Witch of the Vale and Corlyx for a while, so it was great to share a stage with both of them. It was an honour to be asked to play at Wrapped in Plastic’s farewell gig while we’ve met so many great new bands who we’ve stayed in contact with since.
Fourth Engine will be coming to Manchester in the new year, while it’s always a pleasure to be on a bill with Nature of Wires, Vieon, Still Forever and Caffeine Kill (to name but a few). LegPuppy were great – Rodney Cromwell likewise – pretty much everyone really!
What have you been listening to recently?
ALL of the things. 2019’s been a really great year for new music – everything from Refused to Anna Meredith, Swans to Sleaford Mods – Underworld’s epic Drift series and the career-topping Lana Del Rey LP – I’ve also managed to see a fair bit of live music this year – including quite a few of the above acts. Speaking of which – Shellac next week. Exciting times!
What next for St Lucifer?
For the first time in a long time, it really feels like there’s a big, wide-open road in front of us. We’ve got a great studio space to write and record in and ‘album #3’ is literally at the ‘drawing board’ stage. I’ve got a few ideas as to titles/concepts but we’re really excited to try out new approaches and working with different people.
For now, the line-up is officially Alice and I – but we’ve already got a group of close friends who are helping out with the formative writing stages as well as enabling us to go out and play live. It could be that we’ll coalesce around a fixed line up again – but equally, we might just keep it open and fluid for a bit – the important thing is that it’s fun and we enjoy the ride – wherever it takes us next. We have however, got several dates lined up for 2020 – including a couple of festival appearances – so I suspect we’ll be back and annoying you all before you know it!
Biphoria will be previewed live at a special pre-Christmas AT celebration at FUEL in Withington, Manchester on December 13th.
The full double album Biphoria/The Violation of St Lucifer will follow in early 2020 as a joint release between AnalogueTrash and Valentine Records.