Keith Levene interview
First published Fodderstompf, November 2003
© 2003 Fodderstompf.com
Fodderstompf.Com: We first interviewed Keith Levene for Fodderstompf around 2001. Keith had just finished his extensive PiL interviews with 'Perfect Sound Forever' and we didn't see the point of going over all that again, so the plan was to concentrate on his MissingChannel project, and his post-PiL solo work. The interview went well, maybe too well, and basically descended into a conversation about music in general, while Keith let us hear his new material; which at the time was still unreleased. I eventually turned the tape recorder off, and we made plans for a fuller interview taking in anything we wanted, including PiL... For one reason or another it never quite happened, but now it has...
Keith is a hard man to pin down, his mind races from one subject to another at lightning pace, throughout the interview he's off at tangents, always thinking one step ahead, he only pauses for a Marlboro, or to gulp down some food. Though to be honest I probably couldn't have interviewed him at a better time. After years of careful planning, and the odd set back, Keith, with his MurderGlobal collective are about to see their plans finally start to take fruition. Among the most interesting of his forthcoming projects is a new collaboration with Martin Atkins, his one time public enemy number one in Public Image? Surely a complete turnaround? Well maybe not... That's not to mention the forthcoming MurderGlobal album, a change of instrument, dabbling with film, his work with Plakka, and his thoughts on a certain Public Image Limited... Interview conducted for Fodderstompf November 2003.
start with a question you've probably never been asked before...
Overall did you enjoy your time in PiL?
Oh yeah, it was totally the best time in my life, until now, sure...
A lot of people, especially in the music press, often think PiL was just an elaborate joke, a big wind up, which it obviously wasn't. So many people just missed the point...
Listen, whoever it is that are calling PiL a joke obviously wasn't there. If they were calling PiL a joke after I left, or a few years after I left, I can see why that might have happened. But we always had that thing with the press, we'd make a record and they'd slag us off for totally the wrong reasons. They'd think they were slagging us off, but they'd actually be giving us a really great review! They'd point out all the good things on the album by trying to be negative. But we knew they were being defensive. It's really weird, I just dunno why they were so sensitive about it, why they gave a fuck. The media doesn't give a fuck like that now... Though a lot of people talk about 'Metal Box' these days and they don't get it wrong, they know we put out a serious fucking record. And I dare anyone who's into music to listen to the first record and tell me it's not a great first record, for any band. Man, we hadn't been together five weeks when we made that record...
Did the band have a set idea of how it wanted to sound on that first record, or was it just a case of everyone jamming and seeing what happened?
That's exactly what we did. At the beginning all we really knew was who we wanted in the band, and that was really the main thing... We were definitely what I would call a 'progressive band', not a 'prog-rock' band. We got together after the Sex Pistols, and the way we kind of saw it, the Sex Pistols were the last rock n roll band. I don't think we actually sat down and said it between us, but John knew it, and I knew it, we were just gonna move things on. It wasn't like we were gonna set the world on fire, but we knew we were gonna do something different. And when I say something different, I mean something in the context of what was going on then...
I mean we were all brought
up on reggae, and listening to dub and stuff like that, but you
have to remember that John was a very, very hip guy at the time.
He was such a, I think the word they use now is, such an icon, such
a popular figure and he had a lot people around him that looked
to him. Lets say a third of his crew, a third of his home boys,
were black guys, Rastas. Don Letts being the obvious pinnacle of
the hippest of them, but there were a bunch of other very cool guys,
then there were these other sort of audiophile white guys. Another
guy that comes to mind is John Grey, who was a great influence on
John Lydon with his music. He'd get all these pre-releases,
and all this reggae stuff. Me, John Lydon, Wobble were all totally
into Trojan reggae and all that stuff, so it was just obvious, we
didn't have to talk about what we were gonna do, we knew what
we were gonna do...
I might have actually said out loud 'It's gonna be slower now isn't it'. Cause I remember out rightly saying with The Clash 'This is gonna be fast, whatever happens we're gonna do it three times faster than anything that's going on', and with The Clash that worked to an extent but they never took it to where I wanted it to go hence we parted. And with PiL we knew that a lot of stuff was gonna slow down, so the first album was sort of shedding the rock n roll thing, but doing something with it, ala 'Theme', ala 'Annalisa', ala 'Fodderstompf', and the introduction of that 'Metal Box' thing.
And then 'Metal Box' itself, it's weird, it almost could have came out after 'Flowers of Romance', it's almost treated as if it came out after 'Flowers of Romance' But actually, if you want to find the real PiL action you're gonna find it on 'Flowers...' and the fourth album, which is debatable which album that is but basically within the two releases - between my 'Commercial Zone' and their 'This is What You Want...' - you're gonna find what happened to PiL. It's a shame you can't find it on 'Live in Tokyo' and that's my fault because I left the band. You would have found it definitively on there, but I made a mistake. Not that I made a mistake leaving, I just left it at the wrong time.
So do you regret leaving PiL when you did?
I don't regret leaving PiL when I did, I chose to leave PiL when I did for very specific reasons, but in hindsight, it's always 20/20, but in retrospect I kind of wish I had went to Japan and had a really good album with 'Live in Tokyo'. It was kind of childish of me not to do it but I was under a lot of pressure at the time, I was going through a lot of things personally, like getting married, and I'd really, really, really had my fill of John and the whole situation going on in Public Image ltd, and that's really it.
Was the decision to go with a slightly more commercial route on 'Commercial Zone' forced on you because of money problems?
No, no. I mean I'm not gonna pretend that Virgin didn't hold our advance back for the record, but they were just playing business games with us, because we were playing business games at the time too, well, I was anyway. So I'm not gonna pretend there weren't financial problems, but basically 'Commercial Zone' conceptually was a really great idea, and you're definitely gonna hear it more on my version than theirs but it ultimately didn't matter, it worked. The way it worked was we, we... well yeah we... me, John and Martin, wanted the band out there, lets say in the 'Commercial Zone' manifesto, which was again never really discussed, but even then I still felt John had more of an idea of what was going on than he did, and that's when things started breaking down, but it's not like we were forced to do that.
The reason you wouldn't see PiL everywhere, was that we didn't want people to look in any fucking paper and think 'Oh, there's PiL you can see them anytime', we wanted people to say 'Oh fuck man there's a PiL gig!' And if people bought loads of tickets we would have made sure there was two PiL gigs in wherever that place was. That was our outlook to gigs, and we kept it with the 'Commercial Zone' thing more because we were in control of it...
Even when we promoted 'Metal Box' in America, with Warners, we did that on our own terms. We were doing gigs in places but we were staying there longer, like we were doing three nights in between gigs, doing our own thing, and then doing another gig. Sometimes we did two gigs running and stuff like that. It was great. That's what we wanted to do... It's like we'd go to New York and do the gig we had to do, and you're in town and you pick up on a few people and they're saying 'There's a great place there' and we say 'Would you like us to play there' and they're 'Yeah!' And you go do the gig. And we did that, 'cos we could, it was fucking great.
The 'Commercial Zone' manifesto, and the Ritz riot, you do a gig like that, you can't do another gig for four months minimum because there's no point, there's no point. I mean after that gig everyone in New York said 'Would you come to our video club and fucking wreck it please!' (laughs), and it was like 'NO'!
Would you agree that the events leading up to the Ritz gig helped make it more of a happy accident than a pre-planned event?
No. It was an accident that I was there in New York, I went there for a holiday and the next thing I know I'm doing interviews and this that and the other, and discovering America, and I said 'Guys you've got to get over here I'm getting more done in two weeks than we've done in the last two years'. But there's no fucking way the gig was an accident.
While I was in New York
I was trying to sort out video for PiL anyway, I'd been going
to the Ritz with Eddie Carabello, who was a video guy. In New York
there were all these guys around and they knew what they were doing,
they were right on the cutting edge of video. I found out that the
Ritz was the only fucking club in America that had widescreen display
video projection, the only one, the next one was in Japan. Then.
I mean they've got them everywhere now, but that was really
important... For whatever reason Bow Wow Wow cancelled and the Ritz
offered us the gig, we said we want you to bill this as a live video
gig and I think it actually said something like 'Johnny Rotten
and the PiL' were playing or something like that! (laughs).
And all these guys came wanting to see the Sex Pistols, so we could
have done with a New York city crowd, not the crowd we got...
When you were in PiL there was a lot of talk about video and film work, was anything actually filmed?
Yeah stuff got filmed. We had this dynamite camera it was like a Panaflex 35mm but it was this super 8, and it just did everything. It was one of the coolest most technically advanced cameras around at the time. We used it at the Ritz riot gig and we used it at the beginning, we shot some production footage. We were prepared for the gig, we had interviews shot, we had stuff that we had shot in London, and had some stuff that actually Dave Crowe, the secretary to PiL, had shot, stuff like that. Maybe a little footage that Jeannette had scripted, and I had shot just to check it out. Then I shot some more stuff in New York, and I was trying to get Jeannette and John over to make more pre-production. I remember even saying 'Oh fuck it then, don't come over I don't care we're still doing the gig, then they sort of showed up and they weren't helpful, we didn't get much more pre-production done, so I just set up all the equipment behind the screen. So we knew, lets say, we knew there was gonna be an improvisational accident element there but that's because I couldn't get them to follow through on things I wanted to do...
That's why things started going wrong, I couldn't get them to follow through on the commitment about what we were supposed to be doing, you know, you can't do everything. I even had my own director, I had my art director, I had a technical director, I was directing myself, and I had a technical director with Eddie Carabello, I had Ariel doing art direction. And Jeannette was there but she just stood around and had her shoes filmed! I mean this guy just kept closing in on her shoes. And when the gig started we were doing numbers live, we were miming to our own numbers and a bottle hit the fucking deck and as soon as they realised it was a record, which everybody uses now anyway, they started throwing bottles at the screen and other issues came up, like our lives!
Were you planning to do a film with the video footage. Maybe short films, or experimental things, or a bigger project and put something together?
I wanted footage from the audience and I wanted footage of the stage stuff, but after the riot I had a camera on my shoulder because Warners wanted a press conference the next day, so I videoed all that, because it was almost like carrying a gun around, it was like if I had the camera on my shoulder we were safe, that's how good it got. It was like that, so in a way we had a very cutting edge video experience, it's just that it didn't have the impact it could have had, it was just one of those things. And that was basically because half the people involved didn't understand what had happened.
Was it just a case of getting as much footage as you could and seeing what you could do with it?
Yeah, but there was a lot of footage I didn't even bother with, the footage that the Ritz used, they said look, we took this, or you took this on our cameras, and we're keeping it, and I said you can do what you like with it, but we just want it too and I think they gave it to us, but I never did anything with it, I wasn't interested in it. By then I was carving up stuff on film, and we were getting into all the new stuff, all the high definition stuff, by then I was getting into that.
You mentioned before that dealing with the press and record companies became a bit of a game at the time, you seemed to enjoy that.
At the time especially.
I dunno if it's the right word, but you seemed to enjoy adding to the hype, but looking back do you think that maybe you predicted too much, and when it never happened the press couldn't wait to round on you?
A lot of that stuff happened with PiL, we were enthusiastic, we were in a really great position, but it's one of those things that, I mean a lot of the ideas I had in PiL I'm still executing now with the stuff I'm doing now. I mean really, when I look at it I feel like fucking hell, everything I'm working towards is really basically the stuff I was talking about when I was like 22 years old when I was in PiL.
Was Public Image Limited really set up as a limited company?
Yeah, we set it up as a company, we bought a company off the shelf called 'Tinkascus', because you do that, you buy companies off the shelf and Public Image Limited was a limited company. It was involuntary liquidated too. And I think John re-registered the PiL trademark after I left the band, but I don't really know much about it after that. I tried to speak to John a few times after that but he never showed up at the places we arranged to meet, and really, I've never spoken to the guy since I left the band.
What was the reasoning behind setting the band up as a company?
I dunno, at the time it just made a lot of sense.
There were also other sub-companies later in PiL like PEP and MIC, through whatever you've done you've always did it as a company. You like a company!
Yeah (laughs) P.E.P., I couldn't resist it, pep-pill. I mean PiL was like a pill with a line down the middle, what could it mean! And then you know, Public Enterprise Productions I was all over these company names. The thing with Public Image Limited was we were very serious about a whole corporate thing, no manager, we don't need a manager, we can manage our own affairs, we can use a lawyer, no producer, we know how we want to sound, we'll produce ourselves. That meant a lot of income came back into the company, and we were trying to run it that way, but it was very difficult to do that. Doing the recording, doing the music, recording and producing it man! If you're not all doing that, and not switched onto that programme, it's a lot of work. We had a secretary, we had Jeannette, we had what, two other people in the band to help administrate it, and I had a commitment to the business side of it, and John, I guess John was, again, the icon for the band and he knew much more what was going on until it really all broke down, the whole business thing started breaking down...
Do you think all that stuff just ended up getting in the way of the band, and kept PiL from actually getting to play or record?
I dunno I think everyone helped. On the road and things like that, Jeannette took on a different role and she became a kind of plugged in hip conduit for the band. For instance we'd be doing a gig and this guy would come up to me and say I've just been talking to Jeannette Lee blah, blah, blah would you come down to this radio station and do this. Then another guy would say look while you're doing that would you go over to MIT and do a radio interview up there, and I would say 'Ok, John will you do that one, and I'll do this one', 'NO'. So I'd say will we do both of them, sometimes he might, sometimes he wouldn't do any of them, you never knew, but basically I did all of them I could, and the point is, I'm not saying John didn't do anything, he just did more what he wanted, whereas I'd do pretty much anything. I had that kind of commitment that I just thought we can't not do this.
John was obviously very wary of the media after all that had happened before, even in your short time in America, with stuff like Tom Synder.
The Tom Synder thing yeah, we thought it went wrong then we realised how right it went! With American Banstand we had it by then, we knew how to deal with Americans by then, it really took just that one experience, I mean we'd never even seen Tom Synder, we didn't know who he was. We landed, we got taken in a limo to NBC studios, me and John just poured talcum powder over each others head, and the next thing we know we're on national fucking TV in America! Big cameras pointing at us, I'd never been on TV before in America and it was like I had a bit of a lump in my throat for a few minutes, and Synder was talking about the Sex Pistols and that was pissing me off, and that was pissing John off, just like it's pissing me off now that we're talking about PiL a bit too much, and so the Synder thing happened and we're walking round the street that night and they're going 'Hey man that was fucking great, hey Johnny, hey Keith, that was so great' and the next thing we know Warners Brothers pick us up, because they basically made us go home in a taxi that night, and they pick us up from the hotel in a limo the next day, and again, bang I've got a video camera on my shoulder and we're doing another press conference. A very similar thing happened later with the Ritz riot, but you know like I said, I used to use that video camera like a gun!
Bringing us nearer to the present, last year you played on 'Closer to Heaven' on Martin Atkins' Pigface album, how did that come about?
Martin had very bravely made a couple of attempts at contacting me, and that was kind of a bit funny, a bit suspicious, because everyone knew that when I left PiL it had a lot to do with Martin Atkins. As much as it had a lot to do with whatever other reasons I had for leaving. I mean I left because of Jeannette Lee, and the reason she wasn't in the band or the company anymore. AND I left because of John and way he was handling things. AND because of corporate things, and just being fucking dropped right in the middle of when we were doing 'Commercial Zone', when we had it, when we were finally just just about to nail what we started out doing. We did have a few really good moments in the studio doing 'Commercial Zone' but then something, a load of shit went wrong literally in the space of 18 hours that made it that I just said 'Fuck it'...
I was gonna ask you if you still blamed Martin?
No, I don't blame Martin because I've spoken to him recently, but I'll tell you about that in a minute. I've had a lot of conversations with Martin recently, it's took about two years to get from emailing each other to talking properly. But to answer the question you originally asked which was how did the Pigface thing come about, it was basically through the internet. Martin sent me some backing tracks, and I think he was really shocked that I said 'Sure, I'll put a guitar on it' so I put this guitar on it, but I can't hear the fucking thing...
Yeah, I was about to say that, I can't hear it either!
That's cool, because the actual thing I did with the backing tracks that Martin sent me, he obviously did something with them, because he made me send the guitar track just separately on its own in the end, so he's obviously used it somewhere... He sent me this tune, a bit of electronics on it, some Martin drums, and the bass, nice backing track. I'm listening to it back, and I heard this tune. And there was only one thing to do to it, which I did, and you'll be able to hear it on the MurderGlobal album, or you can hear it on the pre-release now. I call it 'The Love We New'. It's a little play on words because of Martin, I could put 'The Love Renewed' but it wasn't renewed so I just put 'The Love We New', but basically it's me playing a fucking Beatles tune under this backing track, you know, “We were talking about the love we knew” so I called it 'The Love We New' and I spelt it “NEW” . I couldn't help it, that was the tune that was begging to be played...
What's the pre-release you just mentioned?
It's a 12 tune pre-release I've done for the MurderGlobal album. A mixed media thing, it's got a little video on it, and a load of pictures of ME, and other stuff with ME on it, and songs by ME. You'll like it, you'll like it a lot, it's a great pre-release because it ain't the album, and if you like the stuff it'll really make you want the album, and you'll be really glad you've got the pre-release when you get the album...
It's been a year since you released the EP, how is the album progressing?
Oh it's progressing! I now actually know what the album is. I'd never quite known what it was until maybe the last of couple of months, but now I've nailed it... What's happened is I've really gotten into playing bass and it's changed my whole musical scope completely. It's really weird because I've always played bass, but not like this, it's like I'm a bass player! I play bass minimum of four hours a day, I play it much more than I play six string guitar at the moment. For some reason playing bass has just been the most musically prosperous thing for me in a long time, and it was also the thing that helped me nail the MurderGlobal album. The album has had lots of different names, but now I'm gonna call the record 'The Perfect Crime', and it's gonna be released through Invisible. At the moment we're making this video for the EP, which is also gonna be released on Invisible...
So the EP is being re-released then?
Well, the EP never really came out yet. I've never released it properly, it's really just been on private stock through my website, and that was the only way you could get it. But soon you'll be able to get it via Martin Atkins company. And I suppose that begs the question 'What the fuck am I doing with Martin Atkins'!
I was just about to ask you if you planned to work with Martin again in the future, but you've just answered that!
Well we did the Pigface thing, and it was cool doing it, but as I said before, at first we were very, very shady and standoffish, but Martin communicated a few things to me that made a lot of sense over that time, and I started talking to him again recently because I decided I wanted to put the record out, and I didn't want to put it out with EMI. Not that I had the straight choice between EMI and Invisible, EMI did have an option on me but I've overridden the option now. And I'm actually putting it out with Martin for a good reason, I'm making a point because, no fucking way are we reforming PiL, no fucking way, but me and Martin are going to be working together in the future, most definitely... I can't believe people are still talking about PiL as much as they are, they obviously really want a fucking a “now” version of what that was, and a line up like me and Martin...
Hardly anyone got to see that early line-up of PiL, I think that's got a lot to do with it.
Well, that's never going to happen. The closest you'll get to seeing that PiL playing live is either with MurderGlobal, or with a band me and Martin put together. MurderGlobal is totally up for giging, not touring, and we're trying to put that together. It's funny because I've been looking for a MurderGlobal band for a long time and now I've got kind of three different line ups, I've got this MurderGlobal soup! And if Martin isn't the drummer in MurderGlobal, I'm gonna be in a band with Martin doing something.
Will that come under Damage Manual?
I don't wanna say too much, but lets just say that once the EP is out we'll start looking for a name for this project, but NO it won't be the Damage Manual, and it won't be Pigface but then again it might be MurderGlobal. It might just be stupid not to do it. We've got to see how the sessions go, but whatever happens there's no way me and Martin are not gonna make a record now, unless one of us shoots each other or something! Because we've got the ideas, we've got the tools, we've got the talent, and we want to fucking do it. And you know what? We need to do it, and as someone said to me, it's about fucking time. And the thing is, it doesn't seem like it's 20 years later, to me and Martin it seems like it's about three years later. We are gonna make this record, and it's gonna be a killer record...
To me Martin is the perfect example of another guy from PiL fulfilling the PiL manifesto. From my point of view he's fulfilled a situation since 1987 where he's put Invisible Records and Underground together, he's done it really well and there's no point in me putting a bunch of distribution companies together with a load of people I don't know anymore, when he's dealt with it. It's great he's put that effort in, and now I can pay him back by saying 'Martin I'm taking you into the studio, that's what you do'. Martin is a master drummer percussionist, and the guy has been wasted on all this other stuff, and I know what he's going through because I've been there, he's in the studio and he's producing and doing everything else, but he's getting no fucking attention himself. So I can give him the production attention he needs, he can give me the production attention I need, and then we can go in there mash these tracks out, we can really make a juiced up record here, I mean there's no way we're not gonna do it...
Do you want to do everything on the record by yourselves, Martin on drums and you doing bass and guitar...
Yeah, that's what I wanna do. Listen, you don't get many rhythm sections as good as me and Martin Atkins, I guess people out there are gonna have to take that on face when it comes to me playing bass, not that I have to sell myself as a musician, that rhythm section has to be heard. So I'm gonna do the rhythm section with Martin and then I'll jump into my guitar guise, and he'll jump into his producer and other things guise. I can sing on it, and maybe we can get other cool people to sing on it. Maybe somebody like 3D or Horace Andy, there are other people, but they're just somebody who came to mind and obviously they came to mind because they were most influenced by PiL and they said so, who fucking knows? I mean if Paul Simon came along I'd have him on there! But I don't think he's going to... We'll do the rhythm section and we'll mash it, and then I'll go in there with Martin and maybe I'll take the reigns a bit with the top end of the music and when it comes to sealing it off, me and Martin are gonna co-produce this record, and that's what's gonna happen.
How has playing bass affected the way you approach your music?
It's phenomenal, it's phenomenal. I've just re-recorded 'Killer in the Crowd' for the album, and I did it specifically because of the way I play bass. I'm really glad I made this little discovery and hadn't put the record out yet because it's really changed everything...
Have you re-recorded anything else?
No, 'Killer in the
Crowd' is the only tune. I was just playing around in my studio,
and running through 'Killer in the Crowd', and I immediately
realised that if I'd done the bass we'd have a completely
different record. Don't get me wrong I love the 'Killer
in the Crowd' that's on the EP, but this new version is
gonna be the definitive version... I'm also thinking of re-doing
'Back too Black' from Violent Opposition', it might
even be the next single if it works out right. Though it would be
much easier if I could get the multi-tracks back from the guy I
did the deal with, but that's another story...
The whole bass line thing has really put the lid on this record and it's given birth to the Plakka thing. It's given birth to being able to know exactly what I can do with people like Martin, and there's some other stuff coming into the picture for MissingChannel that I can't really talk about yet ...
For the people who don't know, can you tell us the difference between MissingChannel and MurderGlobal?
Yeah, think of MissingChannel as my studio and my production company, and MurderGlobal as the main band that we have.
So would Plakka come under MissingChannel?
Yeah, if and when I produce Plakka I'll put them out on MissingChannel.
Can you tell us a little about Plakka, are they a young band?
Well they're younger than me! I'd say they average about 33 years old, so these days they're just about ripe to be doing a band. They're from up North, I call them the Velvet Beatles, they're great kids, and they've really got fantastic musical knowledge, they love music. They all play synthesisers, and one of them plays guitar, not like me, but he plays guitar, and he's getting better. I've came in and played bass and it's really helped the band obviously, and we've pulled this drummer in, but really they're drum machine driven really. Real Plakka I think will probably be with the drum machine but it was the only way to make it possible to do gigs.
Plakka is up northern for plastic, right, so that means it's not real, but what we're trying to do is real Plakka ok? So if you get a bit arty and take that point of view we're trying to do real Plakka. It's something they know I understand and I'm the obvious choice to produce them because I live next door to them, and you know, I mean there's no way I could play with these guys if they didn't have something fucking interesting, I'm into it. I want it to work but at the moment, I'll be perfectly honest with you, I don't know what is gonna happen with Plakka yet. If they can just get it together a little quicker, see I won't interfere with them, I can't be bothered, I'm not there to play manager, I just wanna produce them and help out on bass.
I'm good friends with the main guy in the band, BK13, even though they're all really the main guy, and that's the thing that keeps bringing me back to them, but when I'm back they will do something that makes me think 'This is good, I could get into this'. If anyone in the world is going to record these guys it's gonna be me'. It's looking like I will produce their next 12” and probably an album, but it'll take a little time because I'll be doing my own stuff first. We're definitely gonna make a vinyl record, there's no way we can put out a Plakka record without it being vinyl.
You mentioned some MurderGlobal video work earlier, what are you working on?
We're making a little short movie called 'The Camera Dodger's' right now, and we're doing a video for 'Killer in the Crowd'. But it's very expensive shit. We're also in the middle of a screenplay for a thing called 'Ratattack' which is gonna be our 'Blairwitch' 'Friday the 13th', kind of thing. It's our first shot at movie that's over an hour...
So you'll be scripting and doing the score etc?
I'll definitely be working with Shelly da Cunha, with her doing the screenplay and writing, and me directing. It will be much more than a classy music video, and if I can get budget, if I can get real budget then who knows, but for the time being the reality of it is we're just using digital cameras. We're just putting it together, who knows, because the people we are talking to right now, they might say do you want some development money for it, you know, I don't really wanna say no more (laughs)!
Do you think that when the record is out, it might lead onto other things and you could maybe do something like a separate CD-ROM of film work?
Well, there will be at least two videos on the CD version of the MurderGlobal album. One being the one that's on the pre-release now, which is just me putting 'Mind Chaos' together with Dan Hyams, it's not the version that came out, it's just a little video. There will also be the video for 'Killer in the Crowd' I hope that will make at least the album, if not the EP release. We should have the video ready in time for the EP release, so I'll make it so you can see it on a PC or a Mac.
Have you got a release date in mind yet for the EP?
I'd imagine it's gonna come out in January or February because I don't think Martin will be able to get behind it properly until he's back on his feet after the Pigface tour, and we all get over Christmas. By then we'll have a situation where I'll just be putting the cap on the album anyway.
How many tracks have you got for the album so far?
Right now I've got 14, I think it's gonna be about 16 tracks, but some of those tracks are like 53 seconds long, one minute 33 seconds long, two or three of them are like that...
What's happening with your website?
Nothing! (laughs). I've been so busy with other stuff I just left it, and the other reason I've left it is because I haven't been jammed up enough to want to upgrade it, see I do my own website and I'm trying to get my artwork people to take instructions from me, and do it for me and at the moment...
It's the old cliche but if you want a job doing right, do it yourself...
Well that's what keeps happening, I mean by website hasn't moved for what 18 months, not a dicky bird, I don't care, but what I do care about is when I do upgrade it, you will know! I'm gonna wait till it's really worthwhile. I've got the EP coming out, the album on the way, I'm in the middle of production on this 'Camera Dodgers' thing, because that's the thing we're quite excited about, doing 'Camera Dodgers'.
Have you actually started production yet?
'Camera Dodgers' has been around for a long time, one of the tunes on the album is a sort of short version of the whole score of the movie, which is done by me of course! But anyway when that stuff is really happening I'll put it on the MurderGlobal site.
Who exactly are Murderglobal at the moment?
There are a lot of people involved. Obviously, there's me, but there's also Shelly da Cunha, Teresa O'Hara, Lena Thomas, there's this guy, Subasa we call Subs, there's Daniel who plays drums. I don't know if Martin wants to be involved or not, I haven't really formally put it to him. Most of the people involved in Murderglobal are there because they know about all the other stuff, and they're pushing for that. There's other things being offered to MurderGlobal right now, this stuff is recent, and it's what we've been working towards.
MurderGlobal has only been together, what 18 months, maybe two years, and MissingChannel has been together three and a half years, but it's taken that long. It's taken me since 1998 to get this going. That's why I was getting so up and down with it, I could see the potential of it, and then nothing was happening, and I was getting really freaked out, but now that's ended up giving the situation really strong roots, and given us time to really question where we're coming from, what we're doing, why we're doing it. I guess that's why I'm saying there's loads of other things going on that I can't really talk about because I just don't want to put the moggers on them until we're definitely doing it, then I can say I'm doing this thing, that thing, with he or she on that, and when I know I'll tell you...
Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
'Public Image' promo pic, 1978 © Dennis Morris
PiL: BBC, OGWT 1980 © unknown
The Ritz Riot 1981 © Marcia Resnick
PiL circa 1981: Lydon, Levene, Lee © unknown
PiL summer 1983: Lou Bernardi, John Lydon, Keith Levene, Martin Atkins, NY 1983 © unknown
Keith playing his Parker Fly guitar, London circa; 2001 © Bobby Fisher / MurderGlobal
Keith, London circa; 2001 © Bobby Fisher / MurderGlobal
MurderGlobal: Killer in the Crowd EP 2002