:: BIOGRAPHY ::
In May 2005 Martin Lloyd was interviewed by Minimal Wave in connection with the forthcoming release of the Oppenheimer Analysis 12" EP. Here is an abridged and updated version of the interview:
1) What music or bands were most inspiring to you growing up?
I was born in Nottingham, England, in 1950. I seem to have spent most of my childhood listening to the radio (Uncle Mac's Children's Favourites, the Billy Cotton Band Show, Family Favourites from the British Forces stations in Germany, Brian Matthews' Saturday Club). I then started listening to Radio Luxembourg, the pirate station Radio Caroline, Kenny Everett on Radio One, and, of course, John Peel's Perfumed Garden and Top Gear. My favourite TV programmes included 6.5 Special, Juke Box Jury and Ready Steady Go with Cathy McGowan, Top of the Pops and the Old Grey Whistle Test.
My first records were 78rpm shellac, played on a wind-up gramophone - Swan Lake, Sleigh Ride, Richard Tauber (My Heart and I, Dearly Beloved), and songs from Bless the Bride sung by Georges Guetary and Lizbeth Webb (Tea for Two, I was never kissed before, This is my lovely day, Ma Belle Marguerite). To this day these records are still among my favourites.
During my teenage years in Manchester I bought all the singles by Cliff Richard, the Shadows, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Searchers, the Who, the Animals, Frank Ifield, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix etc. Most of these I later sold unwisely and cheaply as the respective greatest hits albums were released, and wondered too late why the stereo mixes varied so much from the mono single releases! I taught myself to play the guitar at the age of 15, and played in a youth club folk group called the SAYFE Set. I saw Lee Dorsey and the Spencer Davis Group with the young Stevie Winwood at the Twisted Wheel club in Manchester around this time. Whenever I saw a 'beat group' playing at local dances or Butlin's holiday camps I would be right at the front watching the guitarist's fingers! The first large pop concert I attended was the Beach Boys at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester in 1966.
The huge influence throughout this time was the Beatles, and each release seemed like a life-changing national event as they seemed to tear up the rule-book and create a new world with every recording. After my parents moved to Scotland in 1967 I played in several beat-soul groups in Renfrewshire near Glasgow, including the Tragic Scandal. Our most memorable gig was as support act to my favourite Scottish live band, Happy Ever After.
Under the subsequent influence of psychedelia we changed our name to Acid, and listened a lot to the Pink Floyd, the United States of America and the Zodiac Cosmic Sounds. We duly started to freak-out and wear kaftans. Appropriately we lived near the Scottish town of Paisley!
In my later teens my favourite musicians included the Incredible String Band, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Lou Reed and the Velvets. At university in Bristol I saw many live bands, including the acoustic Tyrannosaurus Rex, Pink Floyd, Principal Edward's Magic Theatre, the Alan Bown Set, Timebox, Ray Russell, the Incredible String Band, Al Stewart, Roy Harper, Pentangle, John Martyn, Chicken Shack, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Hawkwind, the Nice, Family, John Mayall, the Who, Jethro Tull, the Mothers of Invention, Vinegar Joe, Yes, Colosseum, Aynsley Dunbar's Blue Whale, the Idle Race, Rory Gallagher, Eclection, Bob Davenport and the Rakes, Martin Carthy, Steeleye Span and the Bonzo Dog Band. A trip in June 1969 from Bristol to Hyde Park for the Blind Faith concert (with Donovan, Richie Havens, the Edgar Broughton Band and Third Ear Band ) included an all-night event, the Midnight Court at the Lyceum featuring Family, Andromeda, and Gilbert and George. Although I never saw Jimi Hendrix perform, I followed his every move and the news of his death in September 1970 affected me and my friends profoundly enough for us to stay up all night playing his records. I attended the second Glastonbury festival in 1971.
I also became interested in classical music (Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius, Bruckner, Mahler, Wagner, Sibelius, Shostakovich) and electronic experimental music (Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Stockhausen, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Philip Glass, Steve Reich). My all-time favourite piece of music and desert-island disc has to be Elgar's Dream of Gerontius as performed by Richard Lewis and Janet Baker with the Halle Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli - I had taken part in several performances of this as a bass in the Manchester Grammar School choir. An Asian friend (an expert in tabla rhythms) introduced me to Indian music and percussion, and, through him, I met Ravi Shankar after a concert at Bristol Colston Hall. This was the start of my interest in ethnic and world music, which has since led me to visit the USA, Canada, Australia, Bali, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Ireland, Norway, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain and Morocco.
While playing the electric guitar in a university Hendrix/Clapton tribute band, I also played the acoustic guitar, recorder and harmonium in a folk duo with my friend Kevin Howcroft, performing a mixture of our own compositions, medieval tunes and traditional English and Irish music in folk clubs and at the Student's Union. He later taught me to play the two-row Melodeon (button squeeze-box), and I enjoyed sitting in with his traditional country dance band when I visited him in Shropshire and mid-Wales. I still love Celtic instrumental music. I have always felt that Early, Traditional and Electronic music have a lot in common. They don't require a lot of theory, and are often dance-orientated, drone-based and open to improvisation and experimentation.
I was smitten by Bowie as Ziggy Stardust in 1973, and saw him live about six times during the next few years, following his every utterance as closely as the Beatles in the 60s. One Sunday afternoon in 1980 I saw him walking towards me in Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, while I was out with Kevin and his wife. I politely refrained from interrupting his train of thought to ask for his autograph! I last saw him perform live in 1983 on the Serious Moonlight tour, supported by Tim Blake at the Milton Keynes Bowl.
In the mid-to-late seventies, living in or near London, I saw early gigs by BeBop Deluxe, Wings, Genesis (post-Peter Gabriel), the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dire Straits, the Average White Band, Radar Favourites, Devo, Pere Ubu, Red Krayola, the Residents, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Blondie, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, Split Enz, Adam and the Ants, the Rich Kids, the Stranglers, Eddie and the Hot Rods, the Damned, the Clash, Generation X, Wire, the Slits, the Raincoats, Chelsea, the Models, the Fabulous Poodles, the Adverts, Cherry Vanilla and the Police, Roogalator, Clayson and the Argonauts, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Dr Feelgood, XTC, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Deaf School, Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias, the Doctors of Madness, the Only Ones, the Berlin Blondes, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Human League, Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, Orchestral Manoeuvres, Thomas Dolby, Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Robert Rental, Thomas Leer and the Normal (Daniel Miller).
At this time I was a part-time punk, complete with razor-blade ear-ring, dog collar, leather jacket and ripped T-shirt, and spent one memorable evening at the Roxy in Covent Garden, amazed at the torrents of spit that greeted every band, soaking both the musicians and their equipment! I immediately decided against forming a punk band myself, as I did not relish the idea of drowning in a hail of saliva, risking hepatitis and having my gear ruined!
As cheaper 4- and 8-track recorders and synthesizers became available I started to follow the Futurism and New Romantic scenes. I advertised for other musicians in a music paper, and met Dave Rome. We initially started writing jerky, staccato new-waveish guitar music, but moved on to synths when I bought my first keyboard and drum machine and he acquired a Mini-Moog. We recorded many 2- and 4-track demos at our home studios in Battersea and Ealing, London, including the original mono demo of Drinking Electricity's "Shaking All Over" with Anne-Marie Heighway. This resulted in their signing to Bob Fast's Pop Aural label. My work with Dave culminated in the Analysis 7" release, "Surface Tension/Connections", on his Survival label, recorded at Spaceward Studios, Cambridge.
2) How did you first meet one another?
I was at a publishing party at the 1979 World Science Fiction Convention in Brighton. I had been trying to engage a rather bored Douglas Adams (author of HHGG) in conversation when I saw Andy across the room, dressed exactly as Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. I had to speak to him. We had masses in common, and never looked back. Andy is creative, funny, witty, well read and intelligent (also thin!) - everything I would like to be. For several years we partied heavily at clubs (dressed mainly in black!) and science fiction conventions. Andy's scientific and political interests coalesced into great sets of lyrics, and we started to record together after I had set up an 8-track studio of my own - Feedback Studio in Battersea.
3) What was the name of your first musical project?
Since purchasing my first tape recorder in 1972 (an Akai 4000DS 1/4" reel-reel) I composed my own songs and completed a large number of guitar and synth-based demos. I recorded several cassette releases as Martin Lloyd, and had some favourable reviews in early home-recording and electronic music magazines. After meeting Dave Rome we recorded as Analysis until Survival Records and Drinking Electricity became his main preoccupations. I then recorded with the singer Paul Ashley (aka Paul Jessop), who had auditioned for Survival, and several tracks were reviewed in the Melody Maker home-taping section. I spent one session working with Wayne Kennedy of Play, whose fantastic voice and song-writing talent had the potential to rival Bowie. However he wisely decided to continue working with Dave Rome and Survival, and the brilliant results speak for themselves. The subsequent recordings with Andy Oppenheimer were sold on cassette at gigs under the name Oppenheimer Analysis.
4) How did you approach collaborating with one another? Was one of you more concept oriented and the other more production oriented? If no, what were each of your roles specifically?
My main interests have always been instrumental, melodic and harmonic. I have been interested in recording since my late teens, and would ideally have become a full-time record producer. My heroes include George Martin, Trevor Horn, Martin Rushent and Martin Hannett. We usually start with Andy's lyrics, often working them into song form with the guitar before developing the final production track-by-track. Working with Andy inspires me to find unusual chord sequences and he is great at developing vocal melody lines and harmonies to my chord changes. Essentially the longer we keep working, the better a piece becomes.
5) What was your approach to lyric writing in the early 80's? and how has it changed?
Andy must answer this, but I have always loved the science-fiction references, conceptual puns and cultural irony in his lyrics. Having a scientific background myself, I have become interested in nuclear and cold war culture through our friendship. We also share a love of bad taste, cheap science-fiction B-movies, kitsch 40s, 50s and 60s advertising, and pulp comic book and paperback imagery.
6) "New Mexico" is a great group of tracks and still sounds exciting today.
What is the story behind this release? How was it released (cassette?) and how many copies were made initially?
The music was written and recorded at my home studio (Feedback Studio) in Battersea, London, and cassettes were sold at pub gigs, science fiction conventions and the World David Bowie Convention in Hammersmith, where we played for our largest audience (2000 we were told). In all around 200 copies were made. This was at the height of the amateur home-taping boom, when Melody Maker, Sounds and NME would offer free advertising and reviews in their home-taping columns, and home-recorded tapes were on offer for £1 to £3.
7) "Cold War" is a personal favorite. Were you aiming to write any pop hits, and did you enjoy any radio airplay?
We have never set out to be "commercial" in any sense. We have always wanted to appeal to those who share the same tastes in music and culture. While friends encouraged us to release "The Devil's Dancers" and "Cold War" as singles, this never happened as we stopped working together. I am not aware of any radio play for the tapes in the 1980s, although the cassettes were reviewed in Melody Maker and Sounds. This was before the later boom in electronic dance music, house, techno, trance etc, and it was difficult to find mainstream acceptance for predominantly electronic and "artificial" music. Just as Bowie was initially a cult figure, electronic and pure synth music has always been 'underground' as far as mainstream culture is concerned.
8) What images do you think your music conveys?
To me, music is a stimulus to the visual and emotional imagination, creating an infinite range of possibilities, identities, scenarios and conspiracies. Until the mid-80s when Gorbachev and Reagan signed on the dotted line, we had spent our entire lives in the shadow of the atom bomb, the four-minute warning and possible short-order annihilation, as well as witnessing unprecedented technical "progress". Music represented an escape from reality. To my mind, music is always about creating an alternative soundtrack to our real and fantasy lives. To me, science fiction writing, art, music and movies have always represented freedom in its most available and exciting form. Recorded music can be deceptive in its origins (is that a band or one person, live or programmed, man or machine?) and its meaning and emotional impact can change with the context and environment just as dramatically as any other art form.
9) Did you ever play live shows? If so, where and what was the line-up?
Andy and I performed as Oppenheimer Analysis at The Bell in Islington, the 1983 World David Bowie Convention in Hammersmith, the Starzone Birthday Party, Camden Palace, with Spizz Energi, and the 1984 European Science Fiction Convention in Brighton (in support of Hawkwind).
10) What equipment did you use for your live shows?
Andy sang live at the microphone, while I played a single live keyboard to a taped backing track. I still have the same Akai 4000DS ¼” reel-to-reel machine, although it is overdue for retirement! The performance was preceded by a slowed-down recording of Reagan threatening to bomb Russia, a semi-live rendition of 'Jupiter' from the Planets suite and the theme from "Tomorrow's World"! We played against a projected back-drop of images from the arms race, scientific laboratories, outer space and a wide range of science fiction sources.
11) How would you describe your stage presence? and do you like to dance by any chance?
In my case, no stage presence at all! I prefer to be anonymous, undemonstrative and neutral, allowing the music to speak for itself. I have always enjoyed dance music from Soul and Tamla through Disco, Glam, Electro, House, Techno and Trance. I try to write music that I enjoy and would want to dance to. In our clubbing days at Studio 21, Andy and I mainly loved Bowie, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk - the quintessential floor-filler was 'No GDM' by Gina X. This is still rightly considered a classic. Tracks from the early Telex and Yellow Magic Orchestra albums were also dancefloor favourites.
12) Do you remember any bands you enjoyed playing with?
We were the only act at the Bell gigs. Otherwise I can only remember supporting Hawkwind and Spizz Energi - I don't recall the other bands at the Bowie convention or the Camden Palace.
13) Do you feel that your music and visual art are interconnected?
Andy would agree that his lyrics and our music are intimately inter-related to 20th century visual art and science-related pop culture. In my view Andy's paintings are a visually punning and stylish equivalent to the music.
14) Do you feel an affinity with today's generation of listeners?
The music which has influenced us throughout our lives remains just as valid and exciting today, and the techno-trance-minimal wave of the last fifteen years confirms that we were on the right track. I very much regret not having been involved in the trance explosion as it was what I had been anticipating and hoping for since the early 70s. Due to my personal circumstances I was obliged to be a spectator, and could only stand in awe at the way astute and dedicated individuals around the world were able to take over the clubs, dance-floors, chill-out rooms and airwaves from their home studios and turntables during the 90s. Due to its ambivalence, ambiguity and impersonality, I find that electronic music from all periods continues to be challenging and stimulating.
15) What are your plans or ambitions for the next couple years in regards to creativity?
Andy and I have started writing and recording again, with keyboard and creative technical assistance from my daughter. We need to come to terms with digital hard-disk multi-track recording and mastering, but expect to work with mainly original analogue sources and processing in future.
16) How do you think technology has affected music creation these days and do you welcome the changes?
What do you listen to these days?
It often seems that the software and hardware are developing so fast that musicians do not have time to master a new process or instrument before feeling obliged to move on to the next. As tomorrow's new recording package or soft synth will be 'out-of-date' in three months time, I feel no shame in using old equipment while keeping up with current news and trends by reading technical magazines and visiting music stores when I can.
I listen to the American minimal composers (Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Harry Partch, John Cage), Javanese and Balinese gamelan, traditional Irish music (The Chieftains, Planxty, the Bothy Band, Patrick Street, Dervish, Solas etc), early "early music" (David Munrow, Musica Reservata), blues (Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Mayall), ascetic British composers (Britten, Tippett, Tavener), cool jazz (Mingus, Art Pepper, Miles) and a lot of USA and UK comedy albums (eg. Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Peter Cook, Spike Milligan, Ivor Cutler, Vivian Stanshall). I have been following Bill Nelson's work since the days of BeBop Deluxe, and can only admire the way he has remained true to the independent ideal, although his career has waxed and waned with his personal circumstances and (mis)fortunes.
17) At what point did you stop making music and why?
Andy and I ceased to work together in 1984 due to my work commitments and his desire to work with other musicians. Although I continued to record on my own for several years, my instruments and recording equipment were banished to the attic soon after my marriage in 1989, due to lack of space (and time!). I have slowly resurrected them since my daughter started her piano, cello and voice lessons, and now expect to continue writing and recording into my old age. From baby-boomer to Zimmer-jockey in a few short decades!
18) Where and when did you / Martin purchase your first synth? What kind was it?
My first synth was a Korg MS20 purchased in 1979 from Rod Argent's in Denmark Street, London - I still love to twiddle knobs, and prefer them to software menus, as the results are immediate and more parameters are available simultaneously. Initially, with the Korg SQ10 sequencer, this was the only keyboard in my attic studio and was used for all the sounds on my early recordings, including percussion. This was followed by a TR808 drum machine and a Korg VC10 Vocoder from Macari's in the Charing Cross Road, and a privately-bought Korg Delta polysynth (used on the Analysis single but since sold).
19) Do you have any siblings? and are you close?
My brother is five years younger than me. He plays drums semi-professionally, also keyboards and guitar. He has his own home-recording set-up, but unfortunately he lives 200 miles away. I hope we will be able to spend some time working together in future.